Tag Archives: Dallas

Orange Julius!

Summer’s approaching and I have a real hankering for an Orange Julius. Apparently the chain has been bought up by Dairy Queen. As far as I know, the city of Dallas (proper) does not have a Dairy Queen in it, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t have an Orange Julius! Warren Buffet — you own Dairy Queen … rectify this!

When I was growing up there was an Orange Julius stand in a little shack-like building directly across the street from the Granada Theater on Greenville Avenue (it’s now Aw Shucks — a seafood place). It had a convenient walk-up window, and it was a frequent destination for my brother and me — a short walk from home. I also remember one in NorthPark Mall. Let’s just say I was a loyal (and frequent) customer. And then they disappeared. I went a good fifteen years without an Orange Julius until I was visiting Nashville a few years ago and somehow found myself walking through the daunting and overwhelming Opryland Mills when, suddenly, I saw an Orange Julius stand! After all those years! And it tasted exactly the same as I remembered it.

Since I am unable to pop into a local Orange Julius to satisfy my craving, I’ve had to figure out how to make my own at home. And I have. I’ve found a recipe that tastes just like the Orange Julius of my childhood. The secret ingredient is … powdered egg whites. You can get them at Whole Foods and probably most larger supermarkets — they come in a can that looks like a small Crisco can. (You could probably use regular egg whites, but I distinctly remember the people behind the Orange Julius counters adding in that scoop of mystery powder. It gives the drink some body, and it seems to aid in froth production. If you make the drink below without the egg whites it wil NOT taste like an Orange Julius. It’ll probably be good, but it won’t be an Orange Julius.) Also, I recommend using orange juice with the highest amount of pulp possible. Yes, it’s my preference, but I also remember those Juliuses being pulpy, and I’m going for nostalgia here. So pulp and powder are essential ingredients.

Here’s the recipe:


1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
4 tsp. powdered egg whites (or 2 egg whites)
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sugar (seems like overkill, but this is necessary)
1 & 1/4 cup ice

Throw everything in that blender you haven’t used since that party where everyone got really drunk on banana daiquiris and that guy Tom or Tim or Ron or whatever his name was passed out in your hallway and you had to drive him home and on the way he threw up in your car, putting you right out of a party mood, and blend everything together on high for 30 seconds, or until there are no longer any pieces of ice. The more foam the better. Insert straw. Enjoy!

Makes two large servings.

UPDATE — Dec. 2012: A few weeks ago I happened across a Dairy Queen in a small Texas town that had a large sign inside touting that Orange Julius was finally on the menu! Excitedly, I ordered one and … yuck. It was awful. Like a cold drink made from powdered Sweet Tarts. No, worse. It tasted like a drink made from those little orange-flavored St. Joseph’s Children’s Aspirin (if they even still make those). Awful. AWFUL. Do yourself a favor, and make your own! It’s really easy, you use natural ingredients. and these Juliuses taste like the ORIGINAL!

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508 Park Avenue: Robert Johnson Sang Here

Robert Johnson When I got back to Dallas from my day in Corsicana Monday, I was trapped in rush-hour traffic and missed my exit. I had to backtrack through downtown. As I passed the downtown library I remembered I’d never been back to see the boarded-up and all-but-condemned historic building known as 508 Park Avenue. I think Park Avenue is only one (seedy) block long, and I can’t imagine why anyone would ever go down it. There was a group of homeless men sitting on the corner, probably surprised a car had turned onto the street.

508 Park Avenue has been vacant and boarded-up for years. It’s been vandalized, and there’s little prospect of it being spiffed up enough to be officially recognized as a historic building. And why is it historic? 508 Park Avenue is where Robert Johnson recorded many of his songs, including Hellhound on My Trail. Eric Clapton was filmed inside the building a few years ago, performing some of Johnson’s songs.

The building started life as a film storage warehouse for Warner Brothers Pictures and later became the Brunswick Records Building. Johnson recorded there in June of 1937, probably in a sweltering makeshift studio. Others said to have recorded there were Charlie Parker and Bob Wills. So … kind of important. But Dallas has never really appreciated its musical heritage. I would guess that less than a hundred people who live in this city know about Robert Johnson recording here (he recorded only two sessions — one in Dallas and one in San Antonio — that’s IT!). As is lamented in this story from the Dallas Observer, Dallas will bulldoze historic places at the drop of a hat. What a shame.

So, anyway, here’s the building. This first picture is what the place looked like in its heyday.

508 Park Avenue - historic photo


These last pictures show what it looks like today. Even though it still retains a certain elegance (if you squint really hard…), it’s also completely at home down the block from a group of half a dozen homeless guys sprawled out on the sidewalk drinking from paper bags.


508 Park Avenue - door


508 Park Avenue - side view


508 Park Avenue - medallion


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The Sportatorium and the Longhorn Ballroom: Dallas’ Long-Suffering Cultural Landmarks

texas-theater-1-20080303180725.jpg I read an article in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News that the legendary Sportatorium is to be torn down very soon. The Sportatorium was a world-famous wrestling arena (home-turf of the Von Erich dynasty), and it was also the home of the Big D Jamboree (a venue for country and rockabilly performers in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s — sort of a rival of the Louisiana Hayride — Elvis played here several times). A landmark! None of my friends ever believed me when I told them that our parents (both Comparative Literature majors) regularly took my brother and me to wrestling matches at the Sportatorium. My father loved wrestling. He also loved country music, and although I missed the Big D Jamboree era, we went to several country music package shows in the ’70s at the Sportatorium. I wanted to go see it before they tore it down, but I didn’t actually know where it was. Ah — South Industrial and Cadiz (south of downtown and not a part of town you’d take your grandma to). I found it this afternoon (take a left at the jail!), and it’s in a pretty sorry state of disrepair, just a big hulking metal building waiting to be put out of its misery. What a shame. I loved the atmosphere in that place.




Since I was in the area, I decided to drive a few blocks down to Corinth Street and see the OTHER famous country music venue, The Longhorn Ballroom, originally owned by Bob Wills and called The Bob Wills Ranch House, one of the largest country music venues in the country. When Bob decided to get out of the nightclub business he sold it to that nice young mobster Jack Ruby who, in turn, eventually sold it to Dewey Groom. It was the Billy Bob’s of its day. HUGE. This is where the Sex Pistols played in 1978, causing some consternation amongst the regulars.


longhornballroom sexpistols


I went there only once, I think. Sometime in the ’80s when they were trying to make it into an alternative music venue. It was the coolest place I’d been in: fiberglass cactus EVERYWHERE. Wagon wheels, bales of hay, cowboy stuff … acre after acre after acre. It hasn’t been in use for years that I know of. I think Ray Price was booked there a couple of years ago in an attempt to resuscitate it.

We’ve been hearing for YEARS that a Gilley’s is supposed to open south of downtown, but it’s yet to make an appearance. The developers are waiting for tax abatements from the city first. (The original Gilley’s is the honky tonk in Pasadena, Texas made famous by the movie Urban Cowboy.) The mayor thinks it’s ridiculous to give a tax abatement to what is essentially a BAR (and it is ridiculous), but tourist and convention traffic is disappearing, and Dallas needs SOMEthing to draw in the punters. The hapless tourists who DO come here have to go all the way to Fort Worth to see a real-life “Texas-sized” honky tonk. Whatever happens, it will NEVER be as cool as the Longhorn Ballroom. Gilley’s may have that damned mechanical bull-ride, but they won’t have the gigantic fiberglass longhorn out front.


Longhorn Ballroom 0203
Looks like someone’s stolen the wagon wheels that are supposed to be imbedded in the cement under the bull. And they’ve chopped off the barn on top of the marquee. Sheesh!


Longhorn Ballroom - Indian Teepee -Â 0203
This is back into the “complex” of the Longhorn Ballroom — the parking lot is in a horseshoe, with red and white barn-like buildings sporting several kitschy retro-cowboy murals. Then there’s this somewhat politically-incorrect little diorama.


Sportatorium window 0203
Back to the Sportatorium. Calling Dr. Kervorkian…. (Or maybe even Killer Kowalski….)


Dowtown Dallas 0203

Heading back to Dallas from the wrong side of the tracks.


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laundromatHere I am in the 21st Century. And I have no washer or dryer. Would the JETSONS be in this situation? I suppose if I had a nice cushy job at Spacely Sprockets I’d be able to afford a damn washer and dryer. And a house. And a bunch of stuff that hovers. My immediate $$$ situation (i.e. Sprocketless and hoverless) seems bleak.


So I have to schlep my dirty laundry to a heavily-flouresced laundromat (a mile or two away from where there is an empty space adjacent to my back door which is exactly the size of a stackable washer/dryer unit). I hate doing laundry. I always go as late as I can, hoping I’ll avoid the largest number of annoying people. But tonight I got the Grand Trifecta:


  • noisy children running around WELL AFTER they should have been strapped into beds in a sound-proofed bungalow in someone else’s neighborhood
  • a chicklet in an oh-so-this-minute fashionably slouchy hat, chattering away on a damn cell phone
  • AND a gum-snapper


As a bonus, there was an elderly woman standing in front of a dryer, watching her stuff go around. Then around again. Then around again. She stood there with her arms crossed in front of her, purse hanging from her shoulder, whistling. Not even a tune. Just a tuneless whistling (c.f. Rock Hudson, I Love Lucy, circa 1955). I’ve seen a lot of old MEN do this — but never a woman. (Just like I’ve never seen a woman spit in the street.) So that was kind of a treat, I guess. There was also a guy who looked like the Homeless Everyman. He had a kid’s shiny new BMX bike kick-standed outside, waiting for him like a trusty steed tethered to a hitching post. I’m guessing he probably doesn’t have a receipt or a manufacturer’s extended warranty for said steed. But in a city like this, even the homeless will not deign to be mere pedestrians.


So. Laundry. Laundered. Folded. Done. I escaped and drove home smiling, the re-mastered All Things Must Pass album blasting in my car, happy to be listening to “Apple Scruffs” — the happiest George Harrison song ever.




I’m almost finished with Strange Peaches, the novel by Edwin “Bud” Shrake (frequent escort of former governor Ann Richards). It’s an interesting book, mostly as a sort of pop-culture snapshot of the hepcat lifestyle in Dallas in 1963. In the book, the main character has just witnessed the JFK assassination and has described the immediate aftermath. For someone of my generation who’s grown up here, sure, the assassination is a part of the city’s history, but it’s kind of like the skyline or the climate — it’s just there. It’s like being born with one leg shorter than the other: you’re so used to it that you never think of it until you’re reminded of it occasionally by someone ELSE. I came along too late for this event to have affected me personally — I know it only from the Zapruder film and newsreel footage and newspaper articles that sprout up every November 22nd. It might as well have been a Civil War battle. But then I see the ever-present tourists wandering around the old School Book Depository, pointing at Dealey Plaza and the Triple Underpass and the Grassy Knoll, discussing their theories, some even dabbing at tears, and that’s when I’m reminded how important this event was to the whole world once upon a time. It’s just kind of weird.


I have no emotional connection to the Kennedy assassination. At all. So it was very illuminating reading Shrake’s description of it, from the point of view of someone who lived here. Shrake was a newspaper reporter at the time, so I’m sure he’s written thousands and thousands of words about it. The panic, the fear, the disbelief, the paranoia, the shock and the hatred that swept this city that day seems unbelievable two generations removed. It was just absolute pandemonium. But now it seems like something that happened in a movie. Because that’s the only way I’ve experienced it. I DO remember growing up, hearing Dallas described as “the city of hate” and “the city that killed Kennedy.” I remember a teacher telling us that when she had travelled to other countries as a young woman she would never tell people what city she was from because she was afraid to.


Zapruder image


Then suddenly “J.R.” changed everything. Not only was he the only human being who wore a cowboy hat in downtown Dallas in the 1980s, he also, single-handedly, crammed a new stereotype into the popular consciousness and diverted attention away from that pesky assassination. Instead of being “the city of hate” we became “home of the Ewings.” I’m not sure which was worse, quite frankly. A stereotype is a stereotype is a stereotype. I guess it’s marginally better to be associated with cut-throat, back-stabbing, morally-bankrupt oil barons who live on a big ol’ ranch than with right-wing extremists and a sixth-floor sniper’s perch. But even J.R.’s iconic stature has faded. There is a whole generation of kids who have no idea who “J.R. Ewing” is. A couple of years ago I mentioned “Southfork” to a young co-worker who had just moved to town from Maine, and she had no idea what I was talking about. I don’t think Dallas really has an identity anymore. If someone were to write a novel based in this city NOW, what would they have to write about? We might as well be Toledo!


Time for something NEW.




J.R. Ewing

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