People who live in Texas learn some generalities about the cities here pretty early on in life: Houston is always full of traffic and angry people, Austin is full of hippies, Lubbock is just so damn far away, and Dallas, where I currently reside, is… well, douchey. It’s often called “the home of the thirty-thousand dollar millionaires” because there is so much emphasis on appearance over substance that countless young people try to appear vastly more successful than they are. This is contrasted all the more by Fort Worth, which I know most of you thought was the same town but is culturally a polar opposite to Dallas. There are certainly cool people here, and fun places too, you just have to look a little harder and avoid anything “chic” “hot” or “trendy”. Unless you like paying $10 for a domestic beer, I mean.
Now I don’t say all that just to shit on Dallasbut rather to set the mental stage for you all of what I was expecting when I went to the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The SPDP (as we’ll call it from here on) took place on the Saturday after St. Patrick’s, and since a lot of my friends work real jobs that didn’t allow Thursday drinking, this was how they wanted to celebrate the holiday. I went along because I enjoy spending time with my friends, and because as someone born in New Orleans I physically can’t say no to a parade. It’s in my genes. Still, this was Dallas, and that meant proper young professionals along with over-priced beers, so I was somewhat lukewarm at how fun the experience would be overall. My buddy and I got on the train in the morning and rode it up to Greeneville, where the SPDP would be happening. I expected more Dallas as usual.
What I found was a place operating by pretty much Purge rules.
As soon as we got there, we went exploring. The beer “section” was the first one we hit, and at that point all my suspicions were dead right. Big concrete area, lots of open space, and three beer trucks selling Bud Lights for $7. Nobody even seemed to be there drinking, which at the time I thought was a sign of how dull it was, and in retrospect I now understand was foreshadowing. Rather than post up there, we kept walking, looking for a good spot to watch the parade. As we did, we noticed that a lot of people already there were drinking from coolers. I double-checked with my friend and confirmed that no, outside drinks weren’t allowed in. We’d seen signs all over the place. But there were a lot of overpriced VIP sections (it was still Dallas) so we assumed maybe they’d paid for fancy tickets that let them bring hooch from home. Then we got a block further, and finally understood what a shitshow we’d stepped in.
People were drinking beer right out of the case, with cops not five-feet away. Flasks that were very obviously full of liquor were pulled out and swigged from freely. I caught more than a few whiffs of a scent I knew well from an old college roommate; it seemed many people in the crowd were smoking the ole jazz cigarettes(weed). The real kicker for me, at least at that early point, was seeing a man walking around with a lidless glass handle of Crown giving people pulls from it. Look y’all, that’s some shit you can’t even get away with in Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Cops see that shit, and you’re going into the paddy-wagon. But no one stopped this dude, or impeded him in anyway. My buddy and I looked at each other as we both realized that somehow, we’d found an event in Dallas that worked on Purge rules, which was to say no rules.
We both sprang into action, he calling the others meeting us and letting them know to bring stuff from home, and I quickly jogging to the CVS and buying two twelve packs of cheap beer. The line in there was nuts, and only getting crazier. Wisely, two cops had been brought in to keep people somewhat in check, and I took my prizes out as soon as I could. At that point, we grabbed space near a fence, cracked some beers and just sat back to watch.
Bear in mind, everything I’ve described so far happened around 10:30 when we got there. The parade didn’t even start until noon. So what we were seeing was the beginning, and things quickly snowballed from there. The biggest issue, however, wasn’t that people were drinking too much, it was that they were drinking too much and the event organizers had woefully underestimated how many porta-potties were needed. Just in the area where we hung out, there were a couple hundred people and four, count ‘em, four porta-potties, and the line to use them literally stretched back half a block at one point. Anyone who’s been to this sort of event knows what comes next, but rather than getting graphic with all of the crazy shit I saw related to this problem, I’ll relay a single anecdote that sums it up pretty well:
At one point, there was a line to illegally piss behind an enclosed dumpster. No, sorry, there were two lines, because it had naturally been split off into a boy’s side and girl’s side. And yes, someone had already defecated back there. In prissy ass, image conscious Dallas.
Aside from the guerilla urination, which was prevalent, people were clearly getting drunker and drunker. Realizing that we’d fallen behind, my friends and I decided to brave a trip up to the liquor store three blocks north. We grabbed a bottle of Fireball and a plastic flask (just cause the law didn’t care didn’t mean we shouldn’t) since all the beer was gone, and went in search of something to eat.
I could tell you a dozen small anecdotes about the shit we saw making our way around, a dude kicking what he thought was an empty cooler only to send glass bottles flying everywhere, people chucking food items at float-riders, someone almost getting hit by a float chasing beads, but I think I’d like to close out with the most surreal moment of the day.
We went to Freebirds for lunch, because burritos always seem like a good idea when drunk, and just a few moments after we sat down, we saw the nearby DJ (whom we all agreed was certainly a normal employee that had convinced his boss to let him do the gig for the big event) suddenly leap up, run over to the bathrooms, and sucker punch a guy in the mouth. Evidently the customer had been “starting shit” with the bathroom bouncer (a position that was way more needed than a DJ, so good on you Freebirds) and the DJ took it upon himself to run over and throw the first punch.
Now look, I’ve seen a lot of drunken fights before, but what made this one unique was that I’m pretty positive we all bore witness to the greatest ten minutes of that guy’s life. He was overjoyed at the victory, telling everyone who came back how he’d raced over and heroically surprise-punched someone in the face. The man practically glowed with pride. But I said it was only his best ten minutes for a reason, because that was how long it took for the cops to show up and remind him that in the adult world, sucker-punches went by the name “assault” and there’s a reason people hesitate to throw the first blow.
Thankfully our lunch was eaten, so we took literally the first action of law enforcement all day as a sign and headed back to the train. Even Purge doesn’t last forever, and we didn’t want to be there when the law kicked back in. Still, I have to tip my hat to you Dallas. You reminded me that no matter how stuffy a general populace might be, they’ve still got the power to party like utter shitshows.
Post Script: Okay, so I found this out after I wrote the original blog, and there was no way to weave it into the story well, but it had to get added. Evidently, the end of that parade/party is a storm of madness in itself. Cops mount up on horseback, get a bunch of paddy-wagons, and fucking break up the party by force, tossing every drunk they catch into the vans. Wow, now that is how you end a Purge.