Dallas Interlude: Barry Kooda’s Garden

Longtime readers might recognize my constant plugging of the works of Dallas’s own Barry Kooda, and not just because he’s one of the biggest influences on Dallas music in the last 40 years. Oh, I could bring up his music, between his classic punk band The Nervebreakers, the Nineties-era Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!, or the country fusion The Cartrights, but I know him best for his art. Well, that and for the fact that Barry suffers fools barely, and he was really good at hanging me up by my collar and letting the wind blow the stink off me when I was in my twenties. Even today, I don’t think “What Would Barry Do?”: I just think about something really stupid that I’m planning to do, see Barry’s expression of sad disapproval, saying “I thought better of you” without uttering a phoneme, and decide that yeah, it was a really stupid idea.

Well, one of the many good things about having Barry as a friend for nearly half my life is that there’s no telling what you’ll learn by hanging out with him for all of fifteen minutes. A couple of weekends ago, for instance, he passed on word that he was hosting one of his classic “Clear out stuff to make room for new stuff” garage sales, and the Czarina and I rushed out at the best opportunity. Now, I both needed a Chinese fishbowl and a set of big window screens he was selling off (the fishbowl for a big project, the screens to help keep grasshoppers out of the greenhouse, where they’re feeding on my Buddha’s Hand citron tree), and I would have understood if he’d just taken money and sent us along so he could take care of other folks. Instead, he and his wonderful wife Laura gave us both a quick tour of their wonderful house in Oak Cliff (bought long before the current gentrification nightmare that’s doing to Oak Cliff what previously happened to Lower Greenville Avenue and Deep Ellum in decades past), and then showed off the garden. Oh, he showed me the front garden, and the big fossil slab in the front.

The Great God Pan

Those lucky enough to have read the Bob Slaughter book Fossil Remains of Mythical Creatures might recognize his skeleton of Pan. Even if you haven’t, and I recommend anyone interested in deliberate fabricated fossils should pick up a copy of this book NOW, the Pan pipes by the skeleton’s hand is a giveaway. This is how cool Barry is: it’s not just that he has a Bob Slaughter original in his front garden. It’s that he and Bob were friends before Bob died, and Bob’s wife asked Barry if he’d like to take this original home rather than have it destroyed. This is why I want to be just like Barry when I grow up, if he ever grows up. And as always, he’s inspiring me to big projects on the Triffid Ranch hiatus: those familiar with the Frederick D. Gottfried short story “Hermes To The Ages” might get an idea of the trouble I’m planning for my own front beds.

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