Monday, March 25, 2013


Denton, I am inside of you.

"I've never ventured north of Denton. Let me tell you, it is RURAL. RURAL like cows out to pasture and roads with 45° grades."

As I grow older, I have the urge to go. To go and just look at the world around me.

The D/FW area is huge, comparable to the size of Rhode Island, all within four metropolitan counties. 

I imagined that once I had a car, I would go out and just ride around the whole of D/FW. I could imagine myself driving down the residential roads of Plano, disgustingly looking at all the cookie-cutter houses while scaring the predominately white people because of some car cruising slowly at 15 MPH.

I swear officer, I was just driving around! Since when was it a crime to drive?

My cousin (the one who helped me repair my phonograph) often spends the weekend with me and my family. We've done it for as long as I can remember, and its stuck through the years. This weekend, he brought over his little sister, and I was left to take care of my nephew while my sister ventured off to Oklahoma. 

Gross, Oklahoma.

Early in the evening Saturday, he mentioned how he was going to this car show up in Denton, about a 45 minute drive from the Mid-Cities. He asked me if I'd like to go, all I'd have to cough up is the admission price, about $5 a person. After a little thinking, I said, "Yeah, sure. I need to get of out of the house more often anyway." In the end, my brother and I decided to go, all his '98 Firebird.

I stayed up that night completing UP XV and some other things, and imagined how the show would be. There'd be cars parked everywhere, the owners proudly beaming on how "souped up" their cars were. I imagined the venue indoors, tons of people all over, taking pictures, talking about car stuff, and etc. A nice opportunity to take pictures. 

As Chester Higgins, Jr. wrote in Echo of the Spirit: A Photographer's Journey, "A camera does not make a picture. The person behind the camera does."

I also thought that the venue was within the city. So we'd be close to the university up there. Or so I thought.


I fell asleep around 8 AM, and I was up at 1.30 that afternoon. After dragging myself out of my stupor, I plopped down in a chair across from my cousin, and was told to take a shower. After a little prodding, I got up and went to shower. 

At 2.30, we were ready to go and we headed to his apartment to drop off his sister with his mom.

We didn't leave the apartment until 4 due to a delay, but once he got back from errand, he met up with some his friends at a park near downtown [...]. He parked his cherry red Pontiac Firebird alongside his friend's crimson-coloured Ford Mustang, maybe from '07, or '08. Next to that, was another friend, his black GMC Jimmy rounding out the cars that made up their car club.

After a few phone calls and some yelling at Christian, we made our way to a service station, where my cousin inflated his tires and where we waited for the guy who owned the dark-red Mustang to arrive.

Another phone call and an embarrassing try to getting out of the Firebird's low-seats later, we met up with some other guys in a large Chevy truck in the parking lot of a high school down the road. 

Once the whole group was in check, we made our way to Denton.

We got onto Loop 12 and made our way southbound. From Loop 12 to Spur 481, to I-20. We drove on I-20 all the way to Fort Worth, which made me suspicious because we had been going the wrong way for over 30 miles. Once in Fort Worth, we got off in the small town of Forest Hill, a enclave within the city limits of Fort Worth. Driving down a busy two-lane road, we reached US-287, and arrived at a tire shop.

My cousin got out of his car and after a minute or two of talking, everyone concluded that we were at the wrong place and that it was the guy-who-owned-the-Jimmy's fault. Back in the car, we started up 287, through southeastern Fort Worth (which reminds me of South Dallas), and back onto the main branch of US-287. 

Through downtown Fort Worth, and up I-35W. Just north of the city, we hit bad traffic. It was mainly onlooker because the crash was already off the lanes and into the wide grassy median. After we passed it, we made a straight shot for Denton, about a half-hour drive from Fort Worth. 

Just south of the city limits, I saw a red Dodge Nitro with Just Married! written on the back. I took a bunch of photographs but only one came out good. All the others were either underexposed or out-of-focus.

We drove into Denton around 6.30, and zoomed past the city limits to just south of Sanger, a small town, two miles north of the drag strip we had arrived at. We had to take a road to get to the other side of I-35, so we drove down a rural two-lane road. My cousin and the caravan we were driving in decided to floor it, and we literally cruised at 50 MPH down a road that was surrounded in trees and farms. 

Two sharp turns later, we arrived at the drag strip, 6.35 PM.

We drove right in, past an attendant's house to a mostly-empty parking lot.

There was music blaring from a DJ inside of a small concessions building, and about ten cars scattered across the lot. We parked near the end of the drag strip, and walked towards the bleachers.

The sun was still above the horizon, and the bleachers cast shadows upon one another. It was cold and windy, but I had on my Thundercats t-shirt, blue jeans, and a windbreaker. I followed my cousin and his friends to the bleachers, where my brother and I set up the tripod and the camera on the very top of the bleachers. 

Using my camera bag and a bottle of Gatorade as a counterweight, it helped keeping the tripod level and from toppling over in the cold wind.

I took video of the drag-racing cars, and some pictures of the cars at the starting line. If I had taken my sunglasses, I could have probably taken some nice photos of the cars while they raced. The sun made it impossible. Getting blinded is one thing I wasn't prepared to do for this "assignment".

After a few races and the announcer saying "Five minutes left, folks!" it was decided to head to another drag strip just west of Dallas. As my brother and I walked back towards the caravan of cars, everyone just ended  up saying to go home. And so we did. We piled back into our respective cars and drove back down I-35 to Denton, and skewing to the left, to Dallas.

Somewhere between Lewisville and Dallas, my cousin's friend in the Mustang decided to race another car right there on the highway. My cousin followed suit, following them with precision  as they entered lanes with ease and drove down the left shoulder. 

After two minutes or so, they stopped as traffic grew heavier and the danger of crashing grew higher.


We arrived in Dallas just before 8.00, and somehow ended up at a Taco Bell. 

God help me, but it was good. That chalupa wasn't worth my $2.19 though.

When my cousin dropped my brother and I off around 9.00, I asked him if he wanted to go back up to Denton, to explore, and he said, "Yeah, but you'll have to pay for gas." 

I told him, "OK, great. When I have money, we can go!"

In the end, we drove over 170 miles, 89 of which could  have been avoided if they had taken the right route the first time.

Coming to the ESF in late April, Denton II: Fast and the Furious