The State Fair of Texas operates as a tax-exempt nonprofit outfit because its mission supposedly is "educational." With that in mind, Buzz dug up his old Abercrombie & Fitch baseball cap and frayed chinos and headed out for a day of post-graduate research at Fair Park University.

Technically, Buzz doesn't have enough credit hours for an F.P.U. degree, having whiled away most of our post-high school days at an Illinois college campus that was distractingly close to bars serving cheap cold beer. So, for the parents' sake, we go back for some continuing classroom work each fall. Last year, Buzz majored in corny dogs, exploring the many ways they aren't very good for you and how they're favored primarily by people who could stand to lose a little weight. This year, it was something called "summit pods" and "duffalo bags," a rare discovery Buzz turned up while checking out one of the new-model vehicles that are scattered around the grounds like so many spent cotton-candy bags.

In a mud puddle at the north end of the Cotton Bowl, Buzz came across the new Chevy Avalanche North Face Edition. It's a weird-looking SUV named after a line of high-end Everest expedition stuff that is no doubt invaluable for those hard days SUV drivers spend hiking in the wilds of NorthPark mall. Among the features on the $39,100 North Face Edition are an engine-block heater, leather seats patterned after a North Face ski jacket, "two summit pods" and "two water duffalo bags."

Nothing explained what these things might be, so Buzz headed over to the big Chevy truck display near Big Tex to do some deep research. There, two learned people with the word "Chevrolet" stitched on their shirts explained they, too, had no idea about the mystery pods and duffalo thingies. But they did seem to be having fun enrolling some student athletes in a climb up a fake rock wall erected just behind another Avalanche. This one was painted dark forest green, signaling, one supposes, that its driver is at one with the natural world.

Buzz headed inside the Automobile Building, that monument to knowledge disguised as an auto show, to discuss the matter with some advanced Chevy scholars. One flipped through a thick binder and lighted on a page in which the Avalanche was shown in horizontal vivisection. He theorized that the "pods" were the pup tents stashed behind the back seat and the bags a couple of matching knapsacks perfect for carrying a cell phone and Galleria parking pass.

Thoroughly enriched, Buzz headed to his second-period criminal-justice class: a lecture by a nice Dallas cop about how American-bred German shepherds are so crazy, DPD has to import its dogs from Europe. Buzz had written a homework assignment on that, but, unfortunately, we ran across an American-bred German shepherd and...

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams