Wednesday, 9 April 2008


Northern Texas is green. It is as green as Tauranga, as flat as Waikato, and as humid as the West Coast. The train took me past farmland and swampy forests, mixtures of spindly trees splodged with greenery, and pastoral Constable scenes.
At Union Station some guy hit me up for a couple of bucks. Note to self: don't ask black guys questions unless they're wearing uniforms. I caught a local high-speed train to Irving, part of the depersonalised suburbia that made necessary the location "Dallas-Forth Worth". There is no break between, but city passes into city.
I arrived, hot and sticky, to the worst-looking hostel I have ever seen. The doorbell yielded no response, so I stepped around the scarecrow, the mildewed toy cat, and assorted vegetation to the side entrance, where workmen inside were ripping up the vinyl, hammering like grim-faced 250-lb two-year-olds. I eventually got the proprietor on the phone, waited an hour for him to show up, and checked in.
The hostel was a regular house at one point but had descended to the level of a Hamilton second-year flat. While not squalid, a sense of grime and dust permeated the rooms. The bed were covered in thick plastic sheeting, generating a muffled crumple with every toss and turn.

The next morning I saw why Dallas was so verdant as a sudden downpour erupted outside. With little warning, angry drops spattered on the roof followed by the shrill white noise of heavy rain.
Today I shop for contradictory items: the lightest of white shirts and an umbrella; it's like I'm entering a wet T-shirt contest while harboring extreme doubts. I went to the Gap and got a tee for $3, then took a cantakerous trolley up to the West Village. While downtown is all high towers and lowlifes, the Village is upscale and may stay white for as long as ten years. I stopped in at the Dallas Museum of Art on the way back, but it didn't compare to standing on the grassy knoll, shooting a picture of the spot JFK was assassinated. (And also a few snaps of the 6th floor of the Book Repository Building, from the car's point of view.) Is it morbid? Sure. But everyone there was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

You hear about all the fat people in Texas, and there are quite a few; about one person in ten that I see, including children. There are also a lot of regular and thin people, but few who are merely slightly overweight. This is the land of Creation over evolution, so one wouldn't really expect transitional forms. If you fat, you fat. Most are fat like partially-inflated tires, but some are fat like bags of gravel. No-one is fat like a balloon. That only happens in the movies.

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