City Hall

Happy PARK(ing) Day, Dallas!

We briefed you earlier about PARK(ing) Day Dallas, which organizer Noah Jeppson told us was supposed to help Dallasites and visitors "rethink the function of our public spaces ... and have fun doing it." I just got back from checking out the teensy-tiny parks that have taken over 30 or so parking spaces in downtown, Deep Ellum and the Arts District. It's adorable out there, folks. It's like the town's temporarily been transformed into some public-access kids show about sharing and cooperation.

In the short block between Pearl and Olive on Flora, there's a patch of grass and some tables set up, and a few food trucks idling nearby peddling shaved ice and bahn mi. A dozen or so people were having lunch when I came by. Meanwhile, downtown on Main between Field and Ervay, there are a couple full-fledged living rooms set up -- around noon, a couple guys were sharing their white sofas with a black Lab and a glass jug of lemonade, with extra cups for visitors. Outside Plush, there's a beanbag toss set up on a stretch of AstroTurf. Next door, Architecture for Humanity has constructed some lovely, hilly-looking wooden structures to lean against, alongside some planter beds filled with mini-cactus.

Further down Main, a space termed "Nano Park" features strips of fake grass and yellow and pink flowers blooming from pots set into the gutters. Office workers on their lunch breaks were taking time to stroll down the parklet, snapping cell phone pictures. Next door, a sweet-faced kid with black hair, green Converse and an electric guitar pounded out what sounded like the opening riffs to the Dead Kennedys' "Police Truck." He was watched by a bearded guy and two pretty girls who were blowing bubbles and clapping enthusiastically. A dry-erase board nearby informed us that he was Ross Mackey, performing music and comedy.

"If anyone wants to give me drugs," Mackey said conversationally, leaning into the microphone in front him, "now's the time. I'm leaving soon." He waved cheerily at a police officer, who waved back.

"Do you have drugs?" Mackey asked the cop. "He can't tell me officially if he does," he told the growing crowd confidentially. "He's probably on drugs right now."

In Deep Ellum, a guy in white shorts with an acoustic guitar crooned outside of Zen Baking Company, while his audience shared a plot of fake grass with a tiny scarecrow and a couple early-season pumpkins. A rack of dresses and Hawaiian shirts flapped under a white tent nearby.

"How's it goin'?"  a group of guys called out to two gentlemen sitting in front of Texas Hydroponics.

"Gettin' older and uglier by the minute," replied one of them, a burly guy in his early 30s with a beanie low on his forehead and a Jesus tattoo on his forearm who swore up and down that his name was Country DeWang. Country was struggling to set up a portable record player on the ground in his parklet, which was covered with lush plants and a bottle of tequila or two on a table. He finally succeeded, and soon Willie Nelson was crooning "Amazing Grace" out of the tinny speakers.

"This is something different," said Country, of PARK(ing) Day. "Something out of the norm. You know, if we always did the normal, we'd never get to the abnormal. And that's where all the fun is at."

I turned down a shot of tequila in celebration of the abnormal, and turned to walk up the street. With very little warning, Country embraced me. "Hold me like you love me, Miss Observer," he intoned. "Observe the true success of unity and companionship." He threw an exuberant arm skywards before me letting me go.

Right. What we're trying to say here is that PARK(ing) Day is awfully nice, and it's going on until around 7 this evening. Get out there and toss some beanbags or something. The natives are real friendly.

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Anna Merlan
Contact: Anna Merlan

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