It happened so quickly.
First, the sudden drop in my stomach. Then getting worried about the time. Then the frantic fumbling through my pocket, trying to find my cell phone. Then seeing the time—right around 11 o'clock.
I grabbed two singles out of my wallet, rushed up to the bartender and hurriedly asked for change in quarters. Within seconds of getting them, I was out the door, jogging toward my car—more specifically, the meter next to my car—even though I knew the doomed fate ahead of me.
Yep, I was too late.
The meter was flashing red. And even though it couldn't have been out for more than 15 minutes, right there, under my windshield wiper, just as I'd feared, sat a little slip from the city telling me I owed them 20 bucks.
Another night in Deep Ellum, another parking ticket.
Fine. I should've known better. I'll take my lumps for that. As backward as it is and illogical and unlike any other place that I'm aware of in these United States, yes, I should've known that in Deep Ellum, even though it's free to park there during the day, you have to pay the meters from 7 p.m. until midnight in order to park on the street.
Whatever. You win again, stealth meter maid (you effing jerk).
Take my 20 bucks. Point conceded.
What I won't concede, though, is just how much trouble it is to park anywhere in Dallas if you want to check out a show. That, dear city, isn't fair.
And now it's only getting more difficult. Forget the trouble with parking in Deep Ellum. Forget the exorbitant rates we have to pay to see a show at House of Blues or The Palladium or American Airlines Center or even the Granada Theater if the few free spots near these venues are already taken by the time we show up.
Now you have to go and make it even more difficult to park around Lower Greenville too?
Earlier this month, you added a few more blocks in the area to your ever-annoying "resident parking only" list. Now, of the 21 side streets in Dallas to have that designation, 11 of them exist off of Lower Greenville—a ridiculous proportion considering how small of an area it is.
As a result, over the past two weekends, 36 cars have been towed from the streets surrounding Lower Greenville and another 63 have received parking tickets.
C'mon, now: You're just getting greedy at this point. And you're making it real tough for people to support their local music scene—which, you should know, is something, as a city, we all should hope thrives. A thriving local music scene means a healthy, young creative class, a sector of the public from which an entire city can be branded. Look at Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Portland. I'm not saying Dallas is in those cities' league when it comes to supporting the local music scene—we all know we're nowhere near that—but a little support might be nice. And with Deep Ellum still going through a difficult time (despite the efforts of those who still own and operate successful clubs down there), a little love for Lower Greenville could go a long way.
I know not all the people parking on these streets are doing it so they can go out and see a show. But two weekends ago, for our Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase, they sure were. Is such hometown support really something we should be looking down upon?
Apparently it is.
"Everyone talks about this being an entertainment district," says Avi Adelman, vice president of the Belmont Neighborhood Association, the organization behind the recent changes to the parking rules on these Lower Greenville side streets. "It's not."
To his credit, Adelman does feel a little bad about what happened to the DOMA showcase attendees who got towed two weekends ago.
"That was just bad timing," he says. "Those signs just went up. On Saturday, when I found out it was your music awards I said, 'Oh shit. Oh, man, it's gonna be bad. People are gonna get towed.'"
But here's the irony of it all. A neighborhood association doesn't just get a request for a parking zone change fulfilled at the drop of a hat. It needs signatures from two-thirds of its residents. And, more important, it needs money buy the "resident parking only" signs that line the streets.
You know where the Belmont Neighborhood Association got its money? From a sign a former business owner on Lower Greenville donated to the group—the Arcadia Theater marquee. Which is to say: The people who supported that theater through its time as a dance club and a movie theater and, most pertinent to this discussion, a live music venue—the people who helped make that sign mean something—are effectively the ones making it difficult to support Lower Greenville shows now. The Belmont Neighborhood Association was able to auction that sucker off for around $10,000, more than enough to pay for a few signs.
How'd this happen?
Since I moved to Dallas six months ago (and, it should be noted, I moved into the Lower Greenville neighborhood), I've been hearing nonstop chatter about the death of Deep Ellum and the fact that, if the Dallas music scene is to survive, it's going to take place on Lower Greenville.
I just don't get how that happens now—even after my very rah-rah-sis-boom-bah use of this space last week as a call to arms for Lower Greenville bar owners to book more live music. It won't happen without giving the crowds a place to park for these shows.
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If giving people the benefit of the doubt and allowing them to support the scene means a few drunk people pissing on Adelman's lawn—or mine, for that matter—then so be it. I can take a few brown spots on my lawn in exchange for a thriving music scene.
Can Adelman? When I ask him if it's worth hurting the Dallas music scene in order to keep his lawn green, Adelman, ever the activist, doesn't have much of a response.
"I haven't thought about that," he says, pausing. "Is it part of the culture of the city? Probably, but I'm not going to get involved with that situation because it's not part of my world."
Maybe it isn't. But it should be.