Arts & Culture News

Ten Easy Ways to Improve Old East Dallas That Don't Involve Lofts I Can't Afford

Old East Dallas, Old Town, Smash and Grab Headquarters -- whatever you want to call it, I live there and I love it. But last week the dose of visual insulin you see above was dismantled, replaced by a boring brown brick exterior. Then I started noticing the other improvements popping up along Ross, and I started to wonder:

Am I about to get priced out?

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Ice Cream Palace McDonald's (across Ross from Disco Fiesta) was more than a fascination. It was a reminder that our specific geographical nook is cobbled together from different eras, because in East Dallas things shouldn't be new and uniform.

But that's changing. We're too close to downtown, Deep Ellum, the Arts District, Expo and Greenville for builders to turn a blind eye to our earth, and this string of recent new construction up Ross Avenue warns that the yuppie invasion is nigh. You can't even stop at a seedy red light off Peak without Crossfit runners surrounding your car, jogging in place like a hive of angry, disposable income-having bees.

Soon we'll be forced out of this squatter's wonderland. Let's stop all of these economic advances and improve the area for those already leasing its dilapidated, ancient apartments. Here are 10 ways to improve Old East Dallas while keeping it just shitty enough for me to live there.

1.) Statewide Holiday for Shopping Cart Lady -- An Old East Dallas fixture, shopping cart lady is an unlikely guru who's taught us valuable lessons about life and love. If you live within a three mile radius of Bryan Street Tavern, you've seen her.

Riding on top of her trash treasure mountain, Shopping Cart Lady diligently holds a radio while Sunburned Boyfriend pushes her rolling throne, moving her grandly from block to block. It's her unrelenting faith in other human beings that's made her a neighborhood spirit animal. Just think: Have you ever trusted a significant other enough to let them push you in a shopping cart? She, to the best of our collective counting, has had such faith in five different suitors over the last eight years. Somebody cue the Journey anthem.

2.) Improve the Smell and Interior Lighting at Disco Fiesta, Leave Everything Else the Same -- Never look at your own reflection while shopping at Disco Fiesta; it's like checking your makeup in a haunted house of mirrors. Suddenly you're 20 years older, weathered and depressed. Also, the store smells like fish, feet and deep sorrow. But the bargains!

3.) Sell One Non-Sugar Bread Product at 7-11 -- You just want to cook an egg sandwich in your shitty little apartment but cannot find those few, basic ingredients required at 7-11. That's annoying. While there is egg and cheddar you're stuck smashing them between two, off-brand cinnamon rolls or a pair of neon-colored Mexican pastries. Let's try a little harder locally-based, neighborhood bodega.

4.) Crossfit Street Gangs -- If the Crossfit kids must dangle their healthy attitude in our faces, we should at least get protection out of it. Their jogging squads could double as neighborhood patrol, safeguarding our front passenger windows from early morning meth head looters. I'm sure that jogging while swinging a tube sock filled with oranges improves balance and upper body strength, so why not put it to use?

5.) Fewer Slum Lords, More Slum Ladies -- To be clear: I do not want fewer low-rent options specializing in vague background checks and shoddy credit history. Those we need. What I want is a little gender equality at the management level. Why can't there be more lady slumlords not fixing my appliances, stealing my deposits and misplacing my rent checks for weeks at a time? Lean in, slum ladies. Lean in.

6.) Supermarket Sweep, ALDI Edition -- Yes, you'd watch a reinvention of the competitive shopping game show Supermarket Sweep filmed entirely at an East Dallas ALDI. Of course you would.

Just imagine the contestants frantically searching for quarters to unlock their shopping carts. Then attempting to rack up a massive grocery bill off hundreds of items that cost $3 or less. But the best part would be those ALDI moments -- where time simply stops as they pause, holding the non-food merchandise, transfixed by its inherent mystery as the clock ticks away. "What on Earth are you? And why are you so inexpensive?"

7.) Open One Drive-Through Coffee Shop That's Covered by my Auto Insurance Policy -- If Geico knew you occasionally drive through the warrior auto gauntlet of Starbucks at Haskell and Gaston they would immediately drop you. That place is a hyper-caffeinated shitstorm. An auto enema. And no matter which way you enter or exit, it is the absolute wrongest way humanly possible.

8.) Some Less-Stabby Gas Stations -- There's a drought of places to fuel up within the East Dallas area, so you're forced to go to the one unstabby gas station that exists, even though it is always 2 miles away, in the opposite direction.

9.) Abandoned Field Progressive Mini Golf -- The overgrown field is an East Dallas staple. They're like backyards that someone else is legally required to mow every other month. I think we should plot 'em out, build a putt-putt hole on each one and play through. It's a community builder.

10.) No Microbrews Allowed -- Keep that mess in Oak Cliff, Expo Park, Greenville and Deep Ellum. Over in East Dallas we want our beers served in small, cylindrical paper bags, not on charmingly stained paddles with chiseled tasting cup inlays.

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Jamie Laughlin
Contact: Jamie Laughlin