The tunnels are long gone. But on Good-Latimer Expressway, near where they once stood, another entrance marker for quite some time welcomed visitors to the music-centric neighborhood just east of downtown Dallas -- an old neon sign that, if a little rustic (and thankfully so), more than served its purpose of noting the neighborhood being entered.
Until early June, that is, when the Deep Ellum Foundation replaced the old sign with a new one that looks straight ripped from the "In-N-Out Burger Comes to Dallas!" headlines. The new green, yellow and red sign, shaped like an arrow and pointing people in the direction away from downtown and toward the supposed action on Main, Commerce and Elm streets boasts a simple goal -- to "let you know you've entered into somewhere," Deep Ellum Foundation president Barry Annino told the Morning News back on June 8. It's certainly an eye-catcher, sitting 20 feet above the street.
But why change it? Just because?
Maybe. Deep Ellum, after all, is bustling once more, with news of even more venues (The Free Man) and restaurants (Buzz Brews, Pepe's Ranch) opening up coming of late.
But what was so wrong with the old sign?
It too was neon. And it too boasted a retro appeal -- and an actual one at that, as opposed to a fabricated one. For all intents and purposes, it surely let people know they were entering a neighborhood as well.
Didn't it? Of course it did.
Had a little history, too, given that it was once stolen and then recovered. Its new home, according to the Morning News, will be "nearer the center of Deep Ellum," the good news being that it's not just being thrown out. (Update: The sign is currently located on the Deep Ellum Foundation building on Commerce Street.)
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The bad news, of course, is that its replacement is rather gaudy, and kind of obnoxious, and a little ugly, and, since we're rambling at this point, cheesy. Worst of all, though, is that, yes, it's reminiscent of a certain fast food joint's logo.
Which can kind of give off a bad impression. We asked a couple of area musicians what impression the new sign gave them of the neighborhood. Hunter Moehring of Sealion, a Deep Ellum resident, answered our question best, offering up one of his own when we asked him.
"Would you like fries with your music?" he said with a laugh.
A funny line, yes. But perhaps interesting and insightful commentary on the continued transformation of Deep Ellum, too.