Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The proposed names for Industrial Boulevard

Sometimes I wonder why we just can't leave well enough alone. I was looking over the 10 finalists being considered as the new names for Industrial Boulevard and, I gotta tell ya, nothing on that list really lit my fire. If I had my way, we'd just keep the current name.

For one thing, I have some great memories about Industrial Boulevard. The first time I saw Bruce Springsteen live it was at the old Texas Electric Ballroom on Industrial. But my favorite night on that street came back in the early 1970s when I went to see Bonnie Raitt perform in that old building. Jimmy Buffett, who had exactly one album to his credit at the time, was the opening act and he played his set sitting on a barstool without any backup band. It was a marvelous evening of music with Ms. Raitt doing a wonderful job of channeling most of her blues influences, like Sippie Wallace, and playing slide guitar with the virtuosity of a Duane Allman.

But what made the evening special was what happened when the show was over. We left the building to a city completely in white. Unbeknownst to any of us inside, a thick blanket of snow had fallen during the hours we were inside. We walked out into the powder and for a few moments the entire crowd just stood around in awe at the beauty of it all. Then someone scooped up a handful of snow, shaped it into a ball and hurled it. That started a snowball fight that slowly migrated from the ballroom's parking lot, along Cadiz Street and eventually into the southern borders of downtown. Jimmy Buffet, Bonnie Raitt and her band were out there throwing with everyone else.

When I think of Industrial Boulevard, I always think of that night.

But I also think about names like Wahoo McDaniel and Thunderbolt Patterson and the wrestling matches at the Sportatorium, where I also saw Willie Nelson and Ray Wylie Hubbard & the Cowboy Twinkies play their hearts out.

So the names on the list that will be submitted to the Dallas City Council's Trinity River Committee don't do much for me. As much as I love music, I can't help but wonder if Stevie Ray Vaughan Boulevard would be there if that magnificent guitarist was still alive. The city needs to do something to pay homage to the legacy of Stanley Marcus but renaming Industrial Boulevard, the site of bars, tattoo parlors, pawn shops and the county lockup isn't the way to do it. Given the climate of the times, I'm concerned about the tenor of the debate that may result when deciding between Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Eddie Bernice Johnson Parkway (plus calling this road a "parkway" seems disingenuous to me, much like referring to anything that borders the Corridor as "waterfront.")

Ascension Drive has too many religious connotations to make me comfortable with it, Riverfront Boulevard could give visitors the false idea that there really is a "river" out there someplace and not the stream that this thing actually is. The Mississippi is a river. The Hudson is a river. The Trinity is something a lot less, at least where it flows through Dallas. So that leaves Trinity Lakes Boulevard or Post Industrial Boulevard. I guess I could live with either one of those, but neither will make me forget that great snowball fight that, no matter what happens during this process, started on Industrial Boulevard.

But then I grew up in New York City and, to me, that street the civlized world calls Avenue of the Americas still is and always will be 6th Avenue.

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