Shawn "Flash" Parker is a travel writer who recently wrote a piece filed under Destination Unknown, a travel challenge from USA Today. This is how it worked: Flash packed his bags (for anything) and went to the Toronto Airport where he waited for an email from his editor. At about 4:30 in the morning on March 22, his pocket dinged: "Dallas. Texas."
"I decided to rely on the Twitterverse to get at the cultural core of my destination," wrote Flash about his itinerary.
That's such an amazing sentence that can be sliced and diced a million ways. Is our "cultural core" buried somewhere in Twitterverse? Whether we like the taste of that or not, in many ways it's true: The story of our culture is flying over us in bits and bytes tucked under the wings of a small blue bird.
After his request for things to do in Dallas, Flash's phone blew up. He ignored the text about the Velcro Pygmies (for a little bit), then subsequently was led, mostly via Tweets, to the cultural core of Dallas.
The interesting thing here, before we get to the list, is it wasn't a bad set of suggestions. I mean, our food critic might bang his head against his computer, but Flash wasn't on a culinary binge, but rather searching for the essence of Dallas in broad strokes.
The highlight reel included The Old Monk, where he found "the city's well-dressed, well-manicured and well-mannered" and was served a Deep Ellum IPA. Double Wide was a recommendation, as was The Gin Mill. He had goose eggs from Blue Goose Cantina, followed by some tunes at Good Records, where he was introduced to Calhoun. Then he headed west to the Bar at the Belmont for a view of the skyline, followed by dinner at Smoke.
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The next day: Pecan Lodge, the Sixth Floor Museum and Klyde Warren Park, where he had sliders and cupcakes from food trucks. Then, a tour at Deep Ellum Brewing Co., where he pondered Zack Fickey for president (their event ninja and tour guide). He ended the day in the Town of the Cow and late that night found the Velcro Pygmies playing in Arlington.
On his final morning Flash discovered the glories at Hypnotic Donuts, followed by a stroll through Dallas Botanical Gardens. In sum, Flash writes:
"My new friends and my amateur, online tourguides had helped me see and experience more of Dallas in a 48-hour span than I ever thought possible. The pages of my notebook were stained by salsa, coffee, donut frosting, steak sauce and spilled margaritas, personal Rorschach inkblots that represented a whirlwind weekend."
Are real friends and books irrelevant? Who needs 'em when we've got a blue bird with 140 characters willing to take to the air with our cultural core?