On the Road: Dallas

Nov 1, 2015, 6:28 PM | Updated: 7:27 pm
For all the polish and chrome on AT&T Stadium – not to mention the fact there’s a V...
For all the polish and chrome on AT&T Stadium - not to mention the fact there's a Victoria Secret inside - there is downhome side to Texas. (Danny O'Neil)
(Danny O'Neil)

DALLAS – Everything IS actually bigger in Texas.
At least the video screen is, the one that’s hanging over the field at the AT&T Stadium. The whole stadium is enormous, too, with the largest seating capacity in the league, and the perfect embodiment of the chrome-and-polish approach of the one franchise in the NFL brassy enough to call itself America’s Team.

Coming here is an experience. Not just to the stadium. But to the city.

Because you’ll see some stuff down here. There are pawn shops here that advertise firearms, and one freeway billboard advertised a Beef Jerky Outlet store with more than 200 varieties (and here I was naively thinking the biggest differentiation in the jerky market was the type of meat).

This is a part of the country where they like their tea sweet, barbecue means beef brisket and while you don’t necessarily judge a man by the size of his belt buckle, you don’t ignore it either. This isn’t a state so much as its own republic where the people couldn’t be nicer and the Tex-Mex cuisine couldn’t be any better, but we’ll get to that in a second.

Texas isn’t big on subtlety. I saw that when I went to visit Dealey Plaza, which is where President John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963. The famed grassy knoll has a yellow tarp on it with big, block letters: “GRASSY KNOLL.”
And going to the Sixth Floor Museum at what used to the Texas Book Depository was one of the most chilling, informative and saddening experiences.

On the one hand, it doesn’t feel like it occurred all that long ago. It was the ‘60s after all. There is video. There are color pictures. There are audio recordings of the news reports and witness statements.

On the other hand, some elements are almost impossible to imagine. The alleged presidential assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was brought out to answer questions directly from reporters following his arrest. Not only that, but when Oswald was subsequently transferred, not only was Jack Ruby able to position himself to assassinate the alleged assassin, but he was actually photographed in the act.

When I came to the corner of the building, which Oswald used as his perch, I got chills. It is glassed off, boxes arranged in an attempt to replicate what authorities found and the floor remains unfinished just as it was the day of the murder. It is quite simply one of the most important crime scenes in our country’s history.

I have been do Dallas at least a dozen times in the course of covering professional sports, first the SuperSonics (R.I.P.) and now in professional football, but this was the first time I had visited the museum. Don’t wait as long as I did. It’s an absolutely incredible, and sad, corner of our nation’s history.

And one thing that I never miss in Dallas is the Tex-Mex, which features copious amounts of shredded cheese, meat and beans with the frequent use of tortillas. Fajitas are a staple of Tex-Mex. So is chili con carne, and cheese enchiladas that might be able to make you weep.

Upon stepping off my Alaska Airlines Flight 748 from Seattle, I opted for Tacos Beef Al Carbon at Mia’s, a dish in which the marinated beef is salty, crispy and rolled in flour tortillas. It was as delicious as the restaurant was understated.

That made it the perfect contrast to all the chrome and polish of Dallas’ stadium. Because for all the polish and chrome on that stadium – not to mention the fact there’s a Victoria Secret inside – there is downhome side to Texas. One that is earnest and quaint and where you’re never a block away from a meal that includes warm tortillas.

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