Walked around Dallas in 107°F degree heat and it felt like the insides of my eyes were boiling

Back in July, I walked around Dallas in 107°F degree heat and it was so hot it felt like the insides of my eyes were boiling. I didn’t mind. I was happy. I love HOT weather, specifically dry HOT weather. Put me outside on a 100°F+ day, and I’ll stand in the heat until my head cracks open like a kernel of popcorn. Drop me in Texas on a 100°F+ day, and you’ll find me outside with a Shiner Bock beer and a pack of heat-loving chihuahuas — just as dumb as me — roasting their fontanels like chestnuts on an open fire.

That said, here are 10 Things to See or Do in Dallas during a Heatwave:

NUMBER 1: go see the The Giant Eyeball. There is a giant eyeball at the location: 1601 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201.

Dallas Eye Sculpture

NUMBER 2: get yourself some dried shrimp with their heads still attached at the 7-11. They don’t have these in New Jersey, so to me, they’re a novelty, and I find them interesting.

Bought this for the novelty of it. Will not eat.

Address: 1295 Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75202.

NUMBER 3: Pioneer Park Cemetary at Dusk. Pioneer Park is a quiet old cemetery, shaded by big oaks, and the occasional crepe myrtle. It is loaded with Megatibicen resh cicadas. Each night after work, I would grab a snack and some water, and head to the park and wait for the cicadas to sing at sunset. If you haven’t heard them sing, it’s kind of amazing. Other than the cicadas, which sing for just a half hour a day, the park is quiet, relative to the rest of the city. No one is there to hassle you, which I like.

A crepe myrtle at sunset.
Crepe Myrtle about 45 minutes from sunset

The squirrels are cute as well, and once they figure out you have snacks, they’ll follow you everywhere.
Dallas TX Cemetery Squirrels

Pay your respects to Baby Bowser:
Poor Baby Bowser, rest in peace

Is that a kid leaning up against that tomb? No, just an optical illusion.
Dallas -- above ground grave split by tree

Address: 1201 Marilla St, Dallas, TX 75201.

NUMBER 4: the Cattle & Cowboys sculpture at Pioneer Plaza.

To the west of Pioneer Park Cemetary is Pioneer Plaza, which features about 40 realistically sized and rendered sculptures of cows and cowboys. If you’re in Dallas you must see it.

Metal cattle:
Dallas cattle sculpture

A cowboy looking towards the skyscrapers of Dallas that beef, oil and telecommunications helped to build.
Dallas

As I walked around Pioneer Park, the nearby Police Memorial, and City Hall, one person after another stopped to ask me where “the cattle” were, like I was a park ranger. Maybe it was how I comport myself that gives me an air of authority. I am the new mayor of Dallas.

Address: 1428 Young St, Dallas, TX 75202.

NUMBER 5: Dallas Police Memorial. To me, it looks like something out of science fiction.
Dallas police memorial

Address: S Akard St. Dallas, TX 75202.

NUMBER 6: Fountain Place (the diamond shaped building) is perhaps the most impressive building in Dallas because it is capable of vibrating through time and space and transporting reptilian travelers to our dimension. What?

Dallas 7-11 and "diamond" building

Address: Fountain Place, Dallas, TX 75202.

NUMBER 7: Dallas World Aquarium. BUT ONLY WHEN FAMILIES ARE NOT AROUND.

When you pack hundreds of people, on a 100°F day, into an attraction with a climate that resembles an actual jungle, where customers can only walk as fast as the person ahead of them, and one out of five have strollers or baby carriages, and the parents are ramming the strollers into your Achilles tendons… its a nightmare. “Oh look, a sloth”… good luck taking a photo as a herd of humanity gathers you up like a wave and pushes you down the path like a log down a flume.

Go on a day when it is not crowded and families are not around.

Blue frog will poison you. Don’t touch.
Blue frog at the Dallas World Aquarium... which is like a combination DMV and a pet shop. It was 110 degrees inside. You have to walk down winding narrow paths at 1 mile per century while kids scream and their parents ram your Achilles’ tendons with strollers.

Address: 1801 N Griffin St, Dallas, TX 75202.

NUMBER 8: Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Just look at the building, which looks like it should be a modern art museum by the shape of it. Stacks of collapsing twisted metal & glass. But don’t go in because it’s filled with thousands of families. Families love dinosaurs, and this place has them. Avoid, unless you are a family.

Perot museum in Dallas

Address: 2201 N Field St, Dallas, TX 75201.

NUMBER 9: Dallas Museum of Art. The Dallas Museum of Art … because it is spacious, has fewer families than the Perot Museum or Dallas World Aquarium, and it is air-conditioned. Bonus points if you actually like art — I do — you may not.

Elliptical bottle depicting a sprouting bean with a human face. 300-100 BC, Mexico. Looks like the Etruscan Boar Vessel.
Elliptical bottle depicting a sprouting bean with a human face. 300-100 BC, Mexico

Address: 1717 N Harwood St, Dallas, TX 75201.

NUMBER 10: The fountain at City Hall with the rotating red Pacman sculptures.

Dallas panorama

“The fountain”, as I call it, is a large, round artificial pond featuring water fountains, and rotating red Pacman-like structures. On a blazing-hot day, it looks quite refreshing.

One evening, I was exploring the grounds looking for evidence of cicadas and taking photos of the semi-futuristic City Hall when a figure in black appeared in the courtyard surrounding the fountain. Black pants and a hoodie. Shoulder-length black hair. From a distance, I couldn’t tell if the person was a man or woman. I kept my distance. The person approached the fountain, slid in and began to swim around. I envied this person’s bravery, and how cool and refreshed they must have felt. No fear of authorities, disease, or harm from the mechanical or electrical systems powering the dual, rotating, red Pacmen. Freedom. I just sat and watched and admired that person and thought “if I had shorts on, I would have gone in too.”

I’m pretty sure the person was a she, and she sat next to me on the flight back to Newark.

Address: 1500 Marilla St. Dallas, TX 75201

BONUS! TRAVEL PRO-TIPS!

  1. If you go someplace, and it’s full of kids and families, and you’re there alone, just go. Leave. It’s their space. You’ve entered a time and space that belongs to families. Go to a bar… or some other place for adults… and maybe come back when there are no families around. But just leave. You don’t belong there.
  2. If you have 10 hours to kill before a flight, do this: take all your stuff (luggage, unnecessary jackets, laptop), and bring it to a UPS or FedEx and ship it to your home or office — and then go out and enjoy the town. That’s what I do. It’s good advice.
  3. Dallas has a lot of refreshing looking fountains. On a hot summer day, they look very inviting. Will you go for a swim? Probably not.

Lots of lovely fountains in Dallas

10 things to see or do in Cleveland other than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

NUMBER 1: DEVOtional. In late July, I attended the DEVOtional event in Cleveland, Ohio. The DEVOtional is a 3-day event celebrating the band DEVO, with performances by DEVO cover bands, DEVO karaoke, vendors of DEVO merch, guest speakers (2018’s event featured Jerry Casale of DEVO), and mini-events like a 5K run. If you love DEVO, you owe it to yourself to attend this yearly extravaganza at least once.

Devo fans in Cleveland at the Devotional

Check their website for future locations.

NUMBER 2: The GIANT silver hand. The giant silver hand is currently over by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), last time I checked. I might have crawled to a new location.

Giant metal hand outside MOCA in Cleveland

Approximate address: Address: 11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106.

NUMBER 3: Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA). Look at the shape of that building. There are exhibits inside as well. Check their website for current exhibits and events. Rub your hands on it. It’s smooth.

MOCA

Address: 11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106.

NUMBER 4: The Peter B Lewis Building. Look at this building. Just look at it. Twisting metal and curving brick. It’s something else.

Peter B Lewis Building in Cleveland

Address: 11119 Bellflower Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106.

NUMBER 5: the world-famous Etruscan Boar Vessel. I was literally shaking when I saw it. Epic.

World famous Etruscan Boar Vessel

The rest of the museum is genuinely amazing as well. Top 10 museums I’ve ever been to. During the summer fo 2018, they had a massive Yayoi Kusama exhibit.

Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Cleveland museum

Address: inside the Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106.

NUMBER 6: the Blue Morpho butterflies at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. The Cleveland Botanical Garden itself is pretty awesome, but its huge butterfly pavilion is super amazing.

Morpho butterfly at rest (don't be shy, show your colors)

Address: 11030 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106.

NUMBER 7: the sculptures around Wade Lagoon. Wade Lagoon is a lake in Cleveland that is surrounded by many exceptional sculptures. My favorite are the mermaids.

Wade Lagoon Mermaids contemplate moving into the apartments across the street

Coordinates: 41.51°N 81.61°W. (Hint: it’s in front of the place the Etruscan Boar Vessel is in.)

NUMBER 8: Blue Arrow Records. This record store is located in the Waterloo section of Cleveland. They have a cat, t-shirts with the cat’s face on it (I bought one), and an awesome selection of used (and probably new) records. I’ve been to the Princeton Record Exchange, the Groovy Graveyard, Revilla Grooves & Gear and Curmudgeon Records, so I know what I’m talking about — it’s a great record store.

Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland

Address: 16001 Waterloo Rd, Cleveland, OH 44110.

NUMBER 9: the Axolotl in the basement of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It’s there, just chilling out. Trust me. Don’t hassle it though. Give it the peace and quiet it craves.

Axolotl

The rest of the museum is top notch. There’s an eagle named Spaghetti, a friendly raven, and a massive wildlife of Ohio exhibit in the basement (close to the Axolotl).

Address: 1 Wade Oval Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106.

NUMBER 10: B.A. Sweetie’s candy warehouse. I already wrote an entire article about that place.

at b.a. Sweetie in Cleveland

Address: 6770 Brookpark Road, Cleveland OH 44129.

B.A. Sweeties Candy Company in Cleveland, Ohio

I’m a sucker for candy and novelty as much as any American, and that’s why I stopped by B.A. Sweeties Candy Company (6770 Brookpark Road, Cleveland OH 44129) this past summer.

B.A. Sweeties is a massive warehouse of candy and soda. It’s about the size of a large supermarket or Best Buy, but not quite as big as a Target or Walmart. It is entirely filled to the ceiling with candy, gum, and soda. One of their slogans is “$3,000,000.00 worth of inventory available at any time!”, and I know I spend almost $200. If memory serves, I bought Charleston Chews, Cherry Mash, candy necklaces, Sour Patch Kids, DOTS, candy cigarettes, sour-candy-flavored breath spray, Chowards gum and candy, Goldberg’s peanut chews, Good n’ Plenty, and many more. Some of this I could get at the local 7-11, but a lot I cannot. I live in New Jersey, which is pretty much a “candy desert” in terms of good candy selection, so when I’m in Ohio, I stock up.

Receipt!

b.a. Sweetie in Cleveland

With sympathy to those amongst us with Type-2 diabetes, or those like myself, who have struggled with obesity most of their life, here’s a selection of photos from B.A. Sweeties.

Here’s some “old timey” Chowards gum and candy. Their violet scented gum always fascinated me. Who came up with that idea? Mrs. Chowards?
Chowards are an acquired taste.  at b.a. Sweetie in Cleveland

Look at all these chocolates! Have you tried a Cherry Mash before? If you like candied cherries and chocolate, you simply must eat an entire box full (in a single afternoon).
So much chocolate  at b.a. Sweetie in Cleveland

Necco Wafers! The legendy candies that no one admits to liking, but everyone in New Jersey used to use as Jersey Turnpike toll tokens (according to legends).
Neco wafers at b.a. Sweetie in Cleveland

I love Dots candies. Their fruity flavors are delicious, and never too weird. I love the sensation of biting into a Dots, and the sweet resistance they offer as my molars compress and slice into their candy gel.
Dots  at b.a. Sweetie in Cleveland

Candy buttons! A classic! A little paper with your candy nevery hurt anyone!
Candy Buttons at b.a. Sweetie in Cleveland

I lost 45 pounds this year simply by cutting out sweets, and for the first time in my life, I could see my abdominal muscles. Since visiting Sweeties, I’ve gained back 10 pounds (not the full 45). I’ve found that the key to a happy life is to limit your treats and sweets for approximately 360 days a year, and then for the remaining five days, just do crazy and go on a candy vacation.

Funk n Waffles

Funk n’ Waffles

Ask people where you should eat in Syracuse, and more times than not they’ll say Dinosaur Barbeque. And when you tell them you went to Syracuse, and you didn’t go to Dinosaur Barbeque, they’ll gasp and sigh like you passed on the opportunity of a lifetime. I am not kidding.

Dinosaur Barbeque must be really good. But I’ve had barbecue in North Carolina, and most southern states. And I’ve never had fried chicken served on a waffle before. So when I was in Syracuse, I opted to dine at Funk n’ Waffles.

Funk n Waffles in Syracuse

Funk n’ Waffles is a groovy little restaurant that serves fried chicken tenders on waffles, with an optional selection of sauces. I think I got the ‘spicey maple’. Soul-warming and unexpectedly decadent. Crisp and tender. Savory and sweet. Recommended. Their logo is a waffle on a record turntable — doesn’t get much cooler than that.

I spent some time wandering around Downtown Syracuse. I walked past Dinosaur Barbeque — it was packed, inside and out. Decorated with cartoon dinosaurs. I didn’t get a second dinner, but I thought about it.

The colorfully illuminated art-deco Niagara Mohawk Building:
Art Deco with colorful lighting. Syracuse

A road cone with koi painted on it:
Koi road cone

A metallic building:
Metallic building in Syracuse

The reason why I was in Syracuse, might be more interesting than this story: 17-year Cicadas.

A Rave about Hunter DineRant

The diner: that great American species of restaurant! When I think of a diner, I think of a variety of food, at a reasonable price. Eggs at 2 am. A place where cash-strapped young adults can gather and converse, recovering from or plotting their next adventure over black coffee and fries. A place were laughs, worries and dreams can be shared among friends.

Hunter Dinerant (I’m guessing Dinerant is a portmanteau of diner & restaurant) is located in Auburn, New York, about 3 miles north of the finger lake, Owasco Lake. On Google, it’s called “Hunter’s Dinerant”, but the actual signage lacks the apostrophe. The Dinerant seems to hang over the side of the Owasco River.

The Dinerant is what I would call a classic American diner. Not quite the romanticized Hollywood version with a cast of gum-snapping, pomade-greased teenagers bopping about — but close.

The Dinerant has many of the features that every classic diner should have:

  1. It is shaped like a railroad dining car. A single aisle down the center. Curved corners.
  2. It is wrapped in gleaming chrome, and detailed with crimson and white stripes.
  3. It has booths for groups, and a counter & stools for solitary folks.
  4. Cadillac-pink vinyl upholstery. Pink Formica everywhere.
  5. Meat-pink floors flecked with white and black confetti patterns.
  6. Vinyl-protected menus listings dozens, if not hundreds of reasonably priced comfort foods.
  7. A mini jukebox at every table, with alpha-numeric keypads. You want to play a song just to feel the mechanical pop of those keys.

This type of diner differs from the Jersey Greek diners I’m used to. Jersey Greek diners lack the railroad dining car shape and 1950’s aesthetic. Same basic food and jukeboxes though.

The waitress was polite and welcomed me to sit wherever I like. I ordered a coffee, fries and a grilled cheese on white — my personal favorite diner foods. It’s been 5 months since I was there, but I remember the coffee was strong, but not burnt, bitter or sour. It was perfect. Nice white porcelain mug. The fries — not too thin, not too thick — I covered with a reasonable shower of ketchup — that familiar micro-moment resistance of the fried outside, giving way to the soft potato fluff inside. The grilled cheese was photo perfect — cut on a diagonal. Each bite was a harmony of buttery, barely crisp bread, oozing with just hot enough to not burn your mouth American cheese. Delicious. Exactly the lunch I needed to supply the energy for a long day of driving.

Visit the Hunter Dinerant for its classic looks and a perfect diner meal. Marvel at how it partially hangs over the side of a small river.

Interior of the Dinerant — thankfully just one TV, with the volume turned low. So much pink and chrome.
Interior of Hunter Dinerant

The exterior of the Dinerant — see the river below?
Hunter Dinerant

Across the street and to the right you’ll see a large pale red sign for Genesee Beer. It looks like it was once neon, but the tubes have been removed.
Genesee Beer