I was an Advocate newby when I wrote this story, and I wanted to call it Bucket List, based on the 2008 bomb of a movie starring two nonetheless beloved actors Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. However, our managing editor at the time thought the term Bucket List was a little dark, as it evoked thoughts of dying. I still chuckle when I think of that conversation — we settled on Live Your Lakewood Life, and, looking back today, almost everything on the list still stands. I am not sure if the circus troupe still performs at Greenville Avenue Pizza Company on Greenville, the Tipp has closed, and we all know by now that your chance to enter the limbo contest at White Rock Skate is dwindling. Let us know in the comments if you have suggested adds or deletes to the list. By the way, I combined the Lake Highlands and Lakewood lists to create a East Dallas/White Rock/Northeast Dallas/Lake Highlands list. We’re standing by to update the 2016 version.
Lose weight. Scale back from three cups a day to one. Count to 10 before blaring your horn at the idiot driver in front of you who doesn’t understand that green means go. (Well, at least count to three.)
These types of resolutions are what the New Year is all about, right? Or maybe we have the wrong idea. Every day we awaken, each breath we inhale is another chance to live. Sometimes we worry so much about all the things we need to change about ourselves that we forget to simply enjoy the life we’ve been given.
Take time this year to experience something that intrigues you on the next few pages. Most people have probably heard the saying, “You’ve never lived until you’ve …” We’ve taken that concept and added a neighborhood twist.
“You’ve never really experienced Lakewood until you’ve …”
… trashed a canoe.
Dallas’ many lake lovers have, over the years, managed to turn trash clean-up into a social event of sorts; a second-Saturday-of-every-month party; a recreational sport. The activists at the nonprofit For the Love of the Lake are at the spruce-up helm, but many small businesses pitch in and offer incentives that make trash collection far more fun than it sounds for volunteers. Take Mariner Sails, for instance — on scheduled Second Saturday Spruce-Up days, owner Chris Dukemenier hooks up with volunteers beneath the Mockingbird Bridge, where they launch boats for a funk-fishing expedition (meaning you’ll find a lot of funky junk out there). But once you get past the “ick” factor, you’re sure to appreciate the bonds built working with fellow nature lovers, as well as the opportunity to float the city’s so-called “crown jewel”. Who knows, after the ride, you might be willing to shell out a few bucks for your own canoe or kayak. After all, there’s nothing like taking to that peaceful water during a quiet sunrise — sans the trash. whiterocklake.org or mariner-sails.com/kayaking.asp
… had a dream interpreted.
Say you are haunted by a reoccurring dream — you show up to work in your underwear, or your teeth fall out. What could it possibly mean? If you thought you’d have to wait for the afterlife to get the answers, think again. Dream interpretation is just one of many mind-related issues explored by experts at the School of Metaphysics right here in Lakewood. som.org
… dug into a deep-fried masterpiece.
For his famous Deep Fried Coca Cola at the State Fair of Texas, neighborhood resident Abel Gonzales Jr. won a spot on “The Tonight Show with David Letterman”, not to mention a Big Tex Choice Award, which recognizes the best of the best in Dallas’ deep fried fare. The Gonzales family most recently concocted, for the 2008 State Fair, Fire & Ice — a battered and (obviously) deep-fried pineapple ring topped with banana-flavored whipped cream, frozen in liquid nitrogen (you read it right, liquid nitrogen) and ladled with strawberries and syrup. The Gonzales family doesn’t seem likely to run out of ideas anytime soon. They serve up to-die-for treats each year from their family run State Fair stand located on Nimitz Drive. bigtex.com
… entered a Limbo contest.
“Oh my”, “ooo” and “ouch” — a few of the expressions uttered by onlookers during the final rounds of the Limbo contest at White Rock Skate Center. The rink has been around since 1973, and from the looks of it, not a whole lot has changed since, which is a good thing. Disco balls, Bee Gees tunes (with a little John Mayer mixed in these days), crushed-ice colas, machine-popped corn and the famous contests, such as the Limbo, are a few staples of our community’s most reliable spot for good, wholesome recreation. Years ago, neighborhood high-schooler Kaela Meinert’s picture appeared in Life magazine performing the awe-inducing roller-skating split under White Rock Skate Center’s limbo pole in a frozen moment of roller glory. How low can you go? whiterockskate.com
… thrown food at an actor.
If laughter really is the best medicine, time spent at this house of hilarity is the prescription for a long life. For 28 years, the Pocket Sandwich Theater in the corner of Mockingbird Central Plaza has been putting its inimitable spin on local show business. Through trial and error, the ingenious thespians at the Pocket have come up with a recipe for lasting success that includes sketch comedy, melodrama, horror and holiday classics — i.e. “Sweeny Todd”, “Dracula” and 26 years of “A Christmas Carol” — that works most deliciously with that special ingredient: Audience Participation. Booing, hissing, hooting and (often ale-infused) hollering are quite OK — expected, even. It’s how they know the audience is listening. And did we mention? The tossing of popcorn is strongly encouraged. (If you don’t derive adequate thrills from your experience as an audience member, you might consider taking your theatrical curiosity a step further. Pocket Sandwich Theater holds open auditions for roles in each of its productions.) pocketsandwich.com
… slid down a snowy mountain.
Make that “slushy”, rather than “snowy”. And “hill”, rather than “mountain”. Many of us Texans are as näive as children when it comes to snow. No one can blame us, really. After all, it happens only once a year, if that. On the downside, the white stuff makes driving exceedingly difficult; but on a positive note, we often react to our sometimes-annual slush with childlike giddiness. Here is a sound suggestion in regards to said flightiness — go with it! Skip out on work, partake in snowball fights and head up (makeshift sled in hand) to the number-one snow day destination in Dallas — the summit of Flag Pole Hill. On that day of the year — should it appear — when we have a full-fledged snowfall that sticks to the ground, just follow the neighborhood kids, the ones toting cardboard, trashcan lids and boogie boards. Fair warning: If you’re a first-timer, you might want to wear a helmet.
… been a part of ‘The Rock’. (2016 note, the Rock has changed its name to the Dallas Marathon)
Since 1971, folks have gathered from far and wide for a neighborhood event that has grown larger and louder with each passing year. This past December, for example, the White Rock Marathon — known by locals as “The Rock” — featured more than 40 musical acts along the course and at pre- and post-race parties. Did someone say race? Oh, yeah. It’s not just a spectator sport — thousands of runners get out there and take on the 26.2-mile trek. (Hint to marathoners: When the jokesters stationed near mile 20 try to hand you a beer, do not take it! You still have six miles to go, silly). Running an insanely long distance is by no means required — for the less obsessively athletic, there are half and relay marathon options, plus plenty of volunteer opportunities. Handing a much-appreciated cup of Gatorade to a guy who’s living his dream can prove as rewarding in some ways as running yourself — just don’t take it personally when he chugs the drink and chucks the cup back in your face. It’s his way of saying “thank you”. runtherock.com
… acted a fool on television.
If you’ve ever watched the “Today Show”, you’ve witnessed all those knuckleheads outside the studio windows, fighting for attention, waving and mouthing “Hi, mom!” to the camera. They sure seem to be having fun, don’t they? No, we aren’t sending you to Times Square, just the Dallas equivalent. In order to get the full effect, you’ll need to commute like a New Yorker. Park your car at Mockingbird Station, then ride the DART train to Victory. Walk around Victory Plaza, and take it all in — the big screens, the restaurants, the American Airlines Center(home of the Dallas Mavericks and Stars) and, there it is, the WFAA television studio, where you can watch Cynthia Izaguirre, Pete Delkus and the gang deliver the day’s news. You can’t stand behind them, but the crew often ventures out of the studio and into the plaza for special segments, cooking demonstrations and breaking events — that would be your opportunity to give mom her shout-out. wfaa.com and dart.org
… grabbed a panini at Jimmy’s.
You’re on the go at lunchtime, but hungry. There’s a little convenience store at the corner of Bryan and North Fitzhugh. Run in for a sandwich and a soda. Place your order at the counter in back — a prosciutto and mozzarella, maybe, or a good ol’ meatball sub. When your sandwich is ready, do NOT take it back to the office. Do yourself a favor: Have a seat at one of those little tables up front. Imagine for a moment you are Tony Soprano. It’s all about you. Unwrap the sandwich, bite and savor. Mmmm. Will you ever look at a sandwich the same way again? Fuggedaboutit! jimmysfoodstore.com
… played Blood-sport Trivia at the Tipp.
What would the Barbie Doll’s measurements be if she were life-size? For what magazine did Hugh Hefner serve as circulation manager while he was raising money to launch Playboy? If you know the answers to these questions, or even if you don’t, you could get in on this frustratingly fun game night at the Tipperary Inn, where on any given Tuesday you’re likely to spot a neighbor vying for prizes that include $20-$40 gift certificates and Pez candy dispensers, the booby prize. But all anyone really wants is bragging rights. By the way, the answers are 39-21-33 and (somewhat disturbingly) Children’s Activities magazine. tippinn.com
… gotten (or gotten rid of) a tattoo.
Permanent ink isn’t for everyone, but if you get the urge, East Dallas has the perfect shop for you — Suffer City Tattoos. Owned by White Rock-area resident Stephen Hibbs, this place is famously clean and friendly, and features some of the most reputable artists around. And if, during those crazy college days, you got some art you now regret, Suffer City also offers laser tattoo removal.
… taken a pony to the park.
Here in Lake Highlands, horse-and-riders roam metropolitan hills and pathways, easily mixing with cyclists and joggers. With Rocking M Stables right around the corner, you could train, board or buy your very own Seabiscuit. The longstanding equestrian center offers lessons and summer camps for both youngsters and grown-ups.
… entered a Limbo contest.
“Oh my”, “ooo” and “ouch” — a few of the expressions uttered by onlookers during the final rounds of the Limbo contest at White Rock Skate Center. The rink has been around since 1973, and from the looks of it, not a whole lot has changed since, which is a good thing. Disco balls, Bee Gees tunes (with a little John Mayer mixed in these days), crushed-ice colas, machine-popped corn and the famous contests, such as the Limbo, are a few staples of our community’s most reliable spot for good, wholesome recreation. Years ago, neighborhood high-schooler Kaela Meinert’s picture appeared in Life magazine performing the awe-inducing roller-skating split under White Rock Skate Center’s limbo pole in a frozen moment of roller glory. How low can you go?whiterockskate.com
… overcome your stage fright.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Why? Because there’s nothing that livens one’s spirit like facing down a fear. If the thought of performing in front of a crowd has you shaking in your shoes, it’s time to live a little. You need not endure either Paula Abdul’s saccharine slurs or Simon Cowell’s verbal abuse when you take this stage — only a caffeine-infused nod and cheer from a relatively kind crowd at White Rock Coffee. While open mic night, Tuesdays at 8 p.m., is a far cry from “American Idol”, it does present the perfect opportunity to put your talent to the test before you take on Hollywood, or the greater Dallas area for that matter, with far less chance of rejection. And if you’re not into the whole singing-for-an-audience thing, just visit this Lake Highlands java joint for fabulous coffees, teas and treats while you tune-in to some of the area’s most awesome untapped talent (and choose something else to do today that scares you). wrcoffee.com.
… devoured a slice of variety.
Greenville Avenue Pizza Company has offerings aplenty in the way of hand-tossed pizzas, pastas and oh-so-buttery good garlic knots. But something happens here after dark on Wednesdays that drives this diner to a level above and beyond others of its ilk. You see, Wednesdays at 10 p.m., a troupe of sideshow performers, escape artists, fire-eaters and comedians take to the restaurant floor in order to amaze, delight and confuse patrons with random acts of magic and acrobatics. Though they peddle themselves as “trained idiots”, these guys and gals are uniquely talented performers. Pizza, pints of beer and a circus together in one neighborhood haunt? You’d have to be a freak not to get in on this one. greenvilleavenuepizzaco.com ormyspace.com/dallasvariety
… shared ghost stories at the historic Bath House Cultural Center.
The place is old, cavernous and usually quiet — often with a misty fog rising up out of the water behind it — and it’s located on reportedly haunted grounds near White Rock Lake. Every Hallows’ Eve, gifted taletellers take to the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake to share stories of spooks and spirits that will make your spine tingle. Join in one of these sessions, or create your own, and while you’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for the legendary lady in white, who just might wander up to shore for a listen. bathhousecultural.com ordallasstorytelling.org.
… gotten the bird.
If you’re lucky and you’ve been paying attention, on some morning when you rose with the sun, you might have witnessed a thousand white-winged birds — like a crisp top sheet — settling on the sparkling White Rock Lake spillway. It’s the sort of thing that might make you pause — that is, until the magical moment is interrupted by the roar of a bulldozer or cries of “on your left!” from a speeding cyclist. You owe it to your inner naturalist to get to know the birds, and no one in town can help you do so better than Chris Runk, who leads monthly Audubon Dallas bird-watching excursions from the old fish hatchery at White Rock Lake. Patient, quiet and knowledgeable, Runk schools tourists on the habits of the ring-billed gulls, color-splashed warblers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and dark killdeers. If you stick with him long enough, you might even spot the elusive red-breasted nuthatch. audubondallas.org
… built an awesome parade float.
One flatbed trailer: $750. Seven rolls of vinyl fringe: $250. Five hundred shamrock-shaped helium balloons: $169. One leprechaun costume, hat included: $199. Rolling down Greenville Avenue while proudly sporting aforementioned costume, and fake-waving to the gaudy masses of pre-noon revelers from atop the parade float that you — yes, you — helped build: PRICELESS. March isn’t the only month that offers opportunity for such unbridled ostentatiousness. We also have Fourth of July parades in Lakewood, Forest Hills, Little Forest Hills and Hillside, just to name a few.
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