January 01, 2014
by Stephen Jan in Dallas, TX
I wasn’t expecting a Dallas New Years Eve. I was supposed to ring in the New Year to the sound of bursting piñatas and Mariachi fiesta music in Mexico. Instead, I found myself in a loud but sleepy dive bar that Mike had Yelp’d 30 minutes before reaching Dallas. Things could have been worse. At least our ambulance was fixed and we would start the new year on the road.
Earlier in the week, while we waited for repairs, we spent considerable time debating our New Year’s Eve options.
Option 1: Minden, LA
Anticipating a Minden New Years Eve, I asked the locals about how they pass the time. The responses I got painted a pretty painfully dull New Year’s celebration. Here in Minden, the children spend time at school, home and church. The adults work, drink beer, and hunt deer. In a town where the biggest deal was the Walmart at the edge of town and the residents were still waiting for a movie theatre to pop up, the Minden New Year experience would likely be stay home and sleep early.
Option 2: Shreveport, LA
In the region around Minden, Shreveport was the “Big City”. The team spent a good amount of time there, and in comparison to Minden, it was exciting. Shreveport had casinos, shopping districts, and even strip clubs. I briefly spoke to the waitress at the Blind Tiger. She told me that the “traditional” Shreveport New Years Eve activity was hang out at the river bank, drink, and shoot fireworks.
Option 3: Dallas, TX
I haven’t been to Dallas. My Dallas reference points are the Cowboys, the TV show, and the site of JFK’s assassination. It being a major US city, I was pretty certain that Dallas had all the offerings that New York. If we were looking for a crowd to ring in the new year, this was probably the place to be.
We got to Lee Harvey’s at around 10:00 pm. It had outdoor benches, decorative lights, and interesting posters mounted on their walls. Lee Harvey’s had all the trimming of a proper drinking establishment - except patrons. The place was almost empty.
I spent most my time talking to the DJ, who was playing to a mostly empty room. Eddie was originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. These days, he DJ’s at local bars, runs a radio show on (KNON 89.3 FM) and works at Dudes Sweet Chocolate. Although he misses Ohio, he was pretty happy with Dallas.
The one remark that really caught my attention was, “Cincinnati is not a great place for colored folk right now”. I found that curious. My understanding was that racism runs deep in the South. I had never classified Cincinnati as the South, so I asked him how it made sense to move away from racism by moving south to Dallas. Eddie clarified the stereotype by offering a slightly different one: Texas as deeply religious. Ohio on the other hand is deeply conservative, white conservative. Being from liberal New York City, I lumped them both into one big anti-progressive voting block.
Eddie went on to tell me more about his life, including his thoughts on social issues, government, and conspiracy theories. While our paths are extraordinarily divergent, I was pretty happy to have crossed paths with him. At around 11:30, I told Eddie that we’d be back after we located a spot to light up fireworks.
After returning from our DIY pyrotechnic show, I exchanged gifts with Eddie. He gave me a Lee Harvey Oswald bobble head, while I gave him a Team Last Responders T-Shirt. I wished him good luck with his radio show, and he wish us good luck on our journey.