In today's mail we find a copy of Progressive Nation: A Travel Guide with 400+ Left Turns and Inspiring Landmarks, written by Jerome Pohlen -- who's running for Congress in Illinois on the Green Party ticket, matter of fact. The title pretty much speaks for itself, as Pohlen takes readers on a tour of such sites as the home of Underground Railroad operators Levi and Catharine Coffin; the the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennesse, better known as the site of the "Scopes Monkey Trial"; and Johnny Appleseed's first nursery in Franklin, Pennsylvania.
So what does Dallas have to offer for this travel guide? Guess. Then jump. Because, yes, one is very obvious, I should think. And one's kind of obvious, if you use your mind grapes. But the third one? A little bit of a left turn ... oh, now I get it.
If you guessed the site of Roe v. Wade, you would be correct. Only, Pohlen lists the incorrect site -- or at least, the wrong address. He refers readers to the "Fifth Circuit Federal Court" at 600 Commerce Street, which is where the George L. Allen Sr. Courts Building sits -- and, of course, that's the civil district courthouse. The Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse is at 1100 Commerce Street -- only, it wasn't built till 1971, a year after Norma McCorvey and attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee took on the state law outlawing abortion.
Most likely, the original lawsuit was filed at the old U.S. Post Office and Courthouse at 400 North Ervay -- which, as the U.S. Northern District's history reminds on page 110, served as the federal courthouse from 1930 to 1971. In other words, try instead the The Lofts at Thanksgiving Square.
Pohlen also lists as a Dallas destination none other than Dallas City Hall at 1500 Marilla Street -- citing Texas v. Johnson, a pretty notable bit of litigation stemming from a flag-burning in front of City Hall during the 1984 Republican National Convention. It was a landmark case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Gregory Lee Johnson was just expressing good ol' freedom of speech.
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Speaking of, that brings us to the third stop on the Dallas progressive tour. Which is ...?
The American Airlines Center.
Reason given: "The Dixie Chicks Stand Up and Sing." Which isn't a terrible choice: Natalie Maines did receive a death threat preceding the band's July 6, 2003, performance at the AAC, as documented in the film Shut Up & Sing. Still, it ain't exactly the Stonewall Inn or the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. --Robert Wilonsky