Dallas

Brooke

Brooke had a problem with cocaine after a cook at Cheddar’s provided for her friend Gabby who she used to drink with in the parking lot.

One day while the partners headed to their car for a few drinks, Gabby pulled out some cocaine a cook gave her. Brooke resisted, but could not help watching as her friend snorted the white powder from the dash of her car. It didn’t look so bad so she gave it a shot. Brooke loved the way it made her feel hyper, which she says is nice as a server. Benito, the cook, started to front cocaine to her but would ask for double the money.

“He’d be like, you owe me $200 dollars and I’d be like, what the fuck, you gave me like such a little amount,” Brooke says. “But he was a big scary Mexican guy. I couldn’t really say no.”

When she tried escaping the habit, he would wait for her in the parking lot after work and she would try to avoid him because she didn’t want him to tell anyone. No one knew, even her best friends, some of whom she worked with.

“Someone actually sent a picture of me and her doing it in the bathroom stall to one of my best friends,” Brooke says. “So who the fuck knows how that happened and how we didn’t notice.”

Brooke, clearly having issues, would be angry, never had money and never had time. One night, her she got drunk, sat her best friend down and told her.

“She was like, are you joking? And I was like, of course I’m not joking, who would joke about that,” she says. “Of course I’m not joking.”

Her friend stopped talking to Brooke completely and said she had to stop. Eventually, Brooke got out of it because her friends were not talking to her and she had no money.

One day, Brooke went on a binge and did a lot, more than she had ever done.

“I was also taking Mollies and drinking,” Brooke says. “I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a Molly but you’re up, so happy and then when the sun comes up you’re like fuck, have I really been up that whole time?”

Brooke was doing coke to make up for it when she “freaked the fuck out and had a breakdown.”

Crying, Brooke called another of her best friends who doesn’t drink. Her friend comforted her and took her to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that night. She promised to keep her in check.

“She was really strict on me, like I will tell your mother if you don’t stop,” Brooke says. “It was really nice.”

All Brooke cares about is moving her family to Colorado and money, so the decision to quit doing drugs was great for her financially. “I was so happy about that especially since I was working my ass off for nothing,” she says.

Now Brooke Hughes, on a two-hour break from her new job as a server at Iron Cactus, walks to Deep Ellum to have some lunch.

“It’s a restaurant so it’s hard work, but it’s good money,” she says.

After Cheddar’s, Brooke worked at Mi Cocina and then Del Frisco’s Steakhouse where she had to quit when her car broke. Afterwards, Brooke found a job at Family Video who promised her a management position. It did not work out and frustrated at the pay drop from $22 an hour at Del Frisco’s to $7.25 at Family Video, she left.

“There’s only a Chili’s an Applebee’s and some mom and pop restaurants out there and I knew I needed to make some quick money,” Brooke says.

Now, Brooke is trying to get out her mother’s garage where she lives with her boyfriend.

“From living on my own to moving back in with my mom and her boyfriend has just been awful,” Brooke says.

“I was such a good girl. I was a virgin until I was like 19 and had a purity ring and went to Dallas Baptist University,” she says.

Brooke attended DBU for a semester where she took 18 hours, failing remedial math. The next semester all her scholarships and federal aid was cut.

“So that’s kind of embarrassing,” she says. “I way overdid it so now I have a lot of debt and I dropped out of school.”

Brooke has to walk like two miles at 8 a.m. to take a train to from Rowlett and is afraid she’s going to burn out fast. It’s a journey, but she loves the job and working downtown.

“Maybe for some people that’s okay because they’re in shape,” Brooke says out of breath as she reaches her destination, Café Brasil, “But from working in a video store 10 hours a week to walking and then serving all day and then walking, it’s just so exhausting.”

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Jenny

Niko Red Star was driving one day and saw an accordion player on the side of the street.

“She had her case out and she had a little forlorn look in here eye,” Niko Red Star says. “I was like you know what? I’ll see if she’ll play with my band.”

Niko Red Star starts packing away his double-bass as he looks over at her.

“Jenny’s been a musician around the area for quite a while. That’s Jenny’s buddy-friend Kent,” he says as he points to the young man standing next to her. “They come together as a package deal and he plays guitar.”

Niko Red Star walks out of City Tavern to finish packing the instruments. Kent stands behind Jenny, texting as she leans against a post, still swinging with half-closed eyes.

“We’re more or less a package deal on a personal level, I mean we’re dating,” she says.

Jenny and Kent freelance for The Southland Swing Band and tonight is his first show with them. She has played the accordion for a few gigs. Kent, a jazz student at UNT, performs in rock groups and fusion groups.

“He is incredibly talented and has his own groups and performs a lot around the area,” she says.

Jenny started taking accordion lessons when she was seven. Eventually she started taking piano and voice. Jenny, from Fort Worth, started playing on streets, stages and festival stages since she was 11 or 12.

“I got a business degree in college. I didn’t study music,” she says. “I’ve just been taking lessons and performing all my life so. This is what I do.”

She’ll teach private lessons every so often, but is primarily a performer.

“I’m a songwriter,” she says. “There are a lot of different ways I get out there and do my thing, you know?”

Jenny has been on many tours and in countless instances where she did not have a place to stay the night. People at the venue will offer her to stay with them. The coolest place she has stayed was with a friend in the Los Angeles area.

“We stayed at his place one time on tour and he has this incredibly interesting house and a yacht and took us out on the water, it was really neat,” she says. “The whole band was just having a great time and he took us to some neat places in town it was a great, bizarre experience, like we’re sitting on a yacht tonight, okay!”

There have been other times when she hasn’t felt welcome at various gigs. One time, someone even shorted her money.

“That was maybe one of the worst things just because I typically have I do just have a lot of faith in people and humanity and venues,” she says.

It doesn’t happen often, but one time it did and it really hurt her personally, as an artist and someone working with the venue. There wasn’t anything she could do except brush it off and say “okay that happened but I’m not going to let it get me down next gig.”

“And maybe you just choose not to play there again,” she says. “That’s really the way it goes.”

The Southland Swing Band, Dallas, Swing Dance, Swing Music, Dallas Jazz, City Tavern

Niko Red Star

When he’s not acting in, producing or writing horror films, Niko Red Star is the bass player and band manager for the gypsy jazz, swing and Dixieland playing band The Southland Swing Band. Tonight, instead of packing away costumes and camera equipment, he packs up instruments after an incredible performance-ending rendition of “It don’t Mean a Thing” by Duke Ellington.

“Duke Ellington has a special little place in my heart,” he says. “I love his compositions. You can swing the crap right out of them. It starts getting people shaking their booty’s, getting drunk and it’s a lot of fun.”

Niko Red Star has been playing upright bass for nearly ten years, since around the time he arrived in Dallas.

“I’m from a wee little country town smack dab in the middle of California,” Niko says, pressing his thumb and forefinger together to emphasize the size after finishing casing the bass. “I guess fate and destiny brought me out here.”

The trained musician is multi-talented, receiving a scholarship at SMU where he completed a degree in classical music. Now, he has had The Southland Swing Band together for around two years. Niko Red Star and his band swing their way around Dallas as much as they can with a small band and large band. Tonight, Niko brought out his small group.

“At times we actually have a full horn section with three horns, a saxophone, trombone and clarinet,” Niko says.

Their audience is generally very receptive. It’s good music and makes people happy. People want to dance to it and so do they, though tonight the small crowd seems preoccupied and few people are dancing.

“We get a lot of swing dancing because this is all time drinking music,” Niko Red Star says.

Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer, Dallas, Downtown Dallas, Rancher, Entrepreneur, City Tavern

Nathan Bellah

A man with shaggy hair, a beard and nice clothes sits alone at a table in City Tavern drinking his first cocktail of the night listening to the live music, The Southland Swing Band. But mostly, he’s listening to the conversations around him, wondering who he’ll meet tonight.

Nathan Bellah lives across the street in Third Rail Lofts. He’s an experienced downtown resident and previously lived in the Davis Building and the Mosaic. Buildings within walking distance of the bar.

A while back, he bought a house in East Dallas for a little while and just sold it. “It was just a hell of a deal man, so I just had to buy,” Nathan says.

Overnight, the housing market in East Dallas boomed, and he knew it was time to sell. The day after he put it on the market, it sold. “I was like, oh shit,” he said. “I don’t have anywhere to go. So I was like, I guess I’ll move back downtown.”

He’s lived downtown for about six months and considers City Tavern his Cheers. He’s met people from all over the country and the world, people in the city for a while on vacation and business trips and people on a two-hour layover who just needed a drink, people who work as janitors and starving artists to elite businessmen and popular musicians. To Nathan, City Tavern is the best place he can meet interesting people and that’s what he’s here to do.

Two young men, barely old enough to drink, walk away from the bar, each holding a beer they look too eager to drink. The band wraps up a song, and Nathan hears the two men mention digital marketing, so he takes the opportunity to strike.

Nathan is a jack of all trades, a human Swiss Army knife. Nathan has two companies. One company is a ranch here in Texas that raises and trains rodeo bulls.

After the initial icebreakers, they start to talk about themselves. The boys mention that they’re from the area and have had hard times finding jobs. They’re full of the dreams of inexperienced entrepreneurs.

“I grew up in Lubbock and I’ve tried to fight those roots for a very long time,” Nathan says. “But after a while, you realize that living in Texas you have to give in to working in either oil or agriculture.” It stemmed from there. We’re blessed. He and his friend, two young guys just like them, were doing well. “I asked my buddy, what do we do with some of this extra money we have. He said to me, ‘You know what? Let’s buy a bull.’”

They all laugh.

“You know, you’re dealing with the salt of the earth,” Nathan said. “The people, in the business have been very helpful, even though you’re competing against them.”

Nathan says that in the business, everybody knows everybody and it’s like a family.

“My buddy and I stick out like sore thumbs,” he says. “You know, he’s covered in tattoos and I wear like New Balances and have some tats too and when we show up, everyone is like ‘oh shit here they come,’ just excited for us to be there. It’s cool.”

Nathan considers himself an entrepreneur from the start. “I guess I’ve always had it in me,” he says. “Just like I’m sure you do too.”

The conversation shifts and the boys talk about themselves some more. They had an idea for a company they wanted to start when they were in school. They weren’t doing too well in their classes, and uninterested in continuing their education, jumped at some advice to pursue their dreams. The dreams failed, and they started to look for other jobs with little success.

Nathan says that like them, he sucked at college, but finished. He grew up in Lubbock and decided to go to Texas Tech for a year, but ended up transferring to the University of North Texas. After bouncing around a few majors, the Entrepreneur decided to double major in rhetorical studies and Spanish, instead of something like business administration.

“I ended up really liking the communications department and the next thing you know I am back in Spanish which I hadn’t taken since junior high, why not get a degree in it?”

Nathan says the coolest thing that probably ever happened was in his first three jobs out of college working for the man, he got laid off. Each one, laid off. One after another. He ended up going to work for The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. Nathan finally landed a job where he wasn’t laid off, but quit instead.

“I met a man who is now 63 working in digital technology with a resume you wouldn’t believe,” he says. “He has been my mentor to this day.”

The man had a small private company in 2005 and asked Nathan to jump on board randomly, so he left Bear Stearns.

“I left this job at corporate America at a company with roots so thick you wouldn’t think anyone could tear the tree down,” Nathan says.

It was the biggest gamble of his life and they still work together to this day. They have made good money together and helped a lot of companies out. It was a good role of the dice.

“I mean this guy headed up the YTK project for the US postal service so his level of knowledge in digital is extensive plus he’s a tinkerer, he’s a genius, let’s say that, he’s a genius,” Nathan says. “He’s got some strategies that he developed that are on the cutting edge of digital marketing. God, that’s so boring to even say, but yeah, we’re going to use him for some things.”

They all have another sip of their drinks and look at the stage as the band begins to play an old Duke Ellington dance hit, “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”

“I always say dance with the person that brought you and he’s just been a good person,” Nathan says, emphasized by a slight Texas drawl.

Nathan jumped ship at the right time since Bear Stearns shut down in the 2008 financial crisis and was sold to JPMorgan Chase.

“I kind of wish I would have been laid off. I would have had a severance package,” he tells the boys. One almost spits out their beer as they snort with laughter.

“You don’t have to be worried about what’s happening now,” Nathan says. You need to be worried about what’s going to happen.”

“How do we do that?” one asks Nathan as the other looks panicky.

“You go and learn, you know, you always learn,” Nathan says. Not the answer they were expecting. “You try to better yourself.”

“We don’t have any money,” they say to Nathan.

“If you can’t gamble on yourself, who can you gamble on? If you can’t gamble on what you love, what can you gamble on?” Nathan says.

Nathan goes on to discuss his most recent gamble, a job as the Chief Marketing Officer for a company he’s launching with his best friend soon. Menguin will be an “online tuxedo rental solution” for all the men in major metro areas that hate to go out to Men’s Warehouse or Joseph A. Bank.  Now you can now go online, build your tuxedo, rent it right there.

“We actually have a technology that will measure within an eighth of an inch using your computer camera,” Nathan said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

The boys show some enthusiasm, ask a few questions about the tech but their eyes sparkled with the hope of a job, from their new mentor. One, shaking, looks at the other who nods. His voice wavers as he asks Nathan for a job.

“That just tells me right there you don’t believe enough in yourself to even go and get higher education, like step outside, change the game, change the game, that’s it,” he says to the bewildered faces. “That’s all I could ever ask. I always say this, impress me. Impress me.”

The boys can tell the conversation is over when Nathan spots a documentary producer he met the week before and walks away.

Drunk Talk

A line forms for the restrooms in the back of City Tavern in downtown Dallas on a Friday night. A friendly discussion between strangers forms after a young man asks Emilia for her number, but she declines.  He walks away and the game between man and woman begins.

The Players

AJ is still in school at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and just turned 21. He’s here visiting his sister’s boyfriend Neal, who is 24 and more like a brother to him. Neal lives in Texas. The two came to City Tavern to watch the Impractical Jokers and are arguing that women should give their numbers out to strangers.

Coco is a short and pretty African American woman who is friends with Emilia. She said she works in finance. She’s been drinking, but seems relatively sober, arguing that women don’t have to give their numbers.

Zach is tall, with short black hair, styled. He’s 34-years-old Caucasian and has been in a committed relationship for the past three years.  He didn’t say what his profession is. His face is slightly flushed from the drinks, but he looks relaxed. He’s arguing that women should give out their numbers more.

Emilia, 24, is a student at Collin College and wants to study marine biochemistry and Spanish.  She’s a pretty girl from Comanche, Texas and moved to the big city when she was 11, but wants to travel. She loves Texas, but feels like she belongs on the beach somewhere warm and sunny. She loves the Gulf, but wants to move to prettier oceans. She’s a pretty optimistic and positive person and loves a good joke. She said she works for a catering company and loves it, but is getting frustrated with how the “higher end crowd” she serves treats her.

“That feeling of when people automatically think they’re better than you. It’s like, dude we’re all kind of people,” she said.” I’m happy to serve you, I’ll bring you your drinks all night and food but you don’t have to treat me like crap.”

The Game

“You are very pretty, can I have your number?” the man asked. She declines and he walks away.

AJ, standing in line with Neal, tells Emilia she’s hot and enters the restroom.

“He told me I was hot, that was nice,” Emilia said. “I just got off work, usually when I get off work I have my hair all back like this.”

A few more words are spoken, and as AJ exits the restroom, Neal lets Zach cut ahead of him in line to help his friend finish his conversation.

“I’ve worked in the service industry for a long time and I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with giving my number out,” she said, directing her words at AJ. “Like stalkers, you meet a person once and they seem all cool up front right? Well people can hide who they really are for a really long time or a not so long time.”

“And women can’t do that?” Zach said, as he walked out of the restroom where he overheard the conversation, wiping his wet hands on his pants before pointing his index finger at Emilia. “Let me tell you something. Nowadays a phone number, that’s old school, it’s not Facebook stalking. It’s not looking at their Twitter, it’s basically being a genuine guy, being chivalrous saying ‘Hey, you know what? I’d like the opportunity to get to know you, and this is the only opportunity I have by asking for your phone number to set a date’.”

“If you don’t want to set a date with a phone number then maybe set a date by saying ‘Hey, I’ll meet you for a coffee at a certain time’,” AJ said, using the proverbial “you.”

“Life doesn’t work out and then we all die, but we all have to find some happiness on the way,” Zach said.

“It’s a lot more difficult to block yo’ ass on a cell phone,” Emilia said as Zach started to walk away.

Neal, up next for the restroom decided to rejoin the conversation, “I’ll go along with that other guy,” Neal said, stopping Zach in his tracks to turn around and listen. “I literally walked up to a girl, my soon to be fiancé and literally went the opposite route and was like listen, there’s a lot of guys here but I think you’re really pretty and if you want to go ahead and grab a meal sometime, I think you’re really nice and I think we’d get along.”

“That’s so sweat Neal,” Zach said with a smile and relaxed shoulders, trying to cut off Emilia who had something to say.

“Neal, you don’t give me creeper vibe,” she said loudly but sweetly, finally getting a word in edge-wise. “But the 34-year-old, maybe.”

“How do you know I haven’t been in a committed relationship for a number of years?” Zach said, his face no longer getting the color from the alcohol in his system. “I have a girlfriend for 3 years, but you’re judging me.”

“No I didn’t, I stereotyped you,” Emilia said, raising her voice while avoiding his gaze. She tried further to defend herself, as Zach tried to break back into the conversation.

“You know what, you shouldn’t give your number out, you know why?” he said, not waiting for a response. “Because you’ll never have a chance at success.”

He turned to walk away again.

“Whatever, guess what?” She asked, “I can take all the phone numbers I want.”

“But you’re not going to do anything about it,” Zach said.

“I’m not a scaredy cat kind of girl,” Emilia said looking to her friend Coco, who had just walked up to visit the restroom and check on her friend, for validation.

Coco, seeing that her friend is okay, walks into the restroom. “That’s right,” she smirked, pausing her participation as she continues to listen from inside.

AJ and Neal exchange words with each other. Neal gives a look Zach that says no more than “good luck.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” they said to Emilia as they walk away to finish their drinks.

“If a girl doesn’t give you her number after you’ve been chivalrous and given her your time, then walk away and let her fall on her own face,” Zach said, also leaving the conversation.

“Bullshit, the woman cannot,” Emilia said. “Not every freaking man shows chivalrous signs at the bar.”

“Usually they’re drunk,” Coco said, returning from the restroom.

“Sure, I’ll give you a fake number every day,” Coco said, grabbing her friends forearm “It’s not to be offensive, honestly. It’s just that sometimes you give off the wrong vibe and some guys are fucking pricks so you have to give them the wrong number.”

Matt

An alcoholic sits in the alley off Main between Akard and Field staring at the people walking past. The young-looking man sits on a windowsill puffing quickly, adjusting his hat sitting on his short blonde hair underneath his black cap, knowing that he’s only got a short time before he has to go back to prep food.

Matt is sober now for almost two months after having battled with it since he was about 20. He’s 29 now. His struggle with alcoholism, like most reformed alcoholics, is hard and cost him a few jobs over the years. Matt previously worked at Nonna when it was open at the Hilton Anatole and the French Room across the street in the Adolphus. He also worked in uptown at little bistros here and there, before a brief spell of unemployment.

“I had to move back in with my parents,” he said. “So I live with my mom and dad right now, out in a little town far away from here.”

One day, Matt was walking on Main and thought he’d submit an application, hoping for the hire. About two weeks later they called, and he’s been able to keep the job ever since. Yes, his struggles have caused some problems with Jason’s Deli- but they still let him show up every day.

“I skipped out for a whole week, didn’t call or show up or anything,” he said. “I came back and they were all worried about me. They were like, ‘where have you been? We tried to call, and thought you were dead!’ I was like, no, I just relapsed,” he said, hiding his eyes under the black cap as he looks to the ground.

Matt, the 29-year-old Jason’s Deli worker has been there since last May and loves it. Nights and weekends are no stranger to the man who never really had a social life, but now that he’s at a kitchen only open Monday through Friday, he’s happy to have weekends off.

“They treat me real good here,” he said.

Matt comes in around 6 or 7 in the morning, depending on the day. Today, he came in at 6 and is ready for his usual shift to end at 3 p.m. He stands up, and walks around the corner quickly, stopping for a moment outside the restaurant doors.

Matt ‘s ready to get back to work so he can get off on time. He’s ready to enjoy the free time he said he’s so lucky to have.

“I’ve lost so many friends. I probably only have three real friends right now,” Matt said, putting out his cigarette under his black, no scuff shoes and pulling the door handle toward him. “I’ve burned a lot of bridges.”

Galleria, Body Jewelry, Piercings, Shopping, Retail, Mall, Dallas

Lainie

A middle-aged Asian couple walks through the Galleria, leading their two young children sipping a shared fountain drink from lunch and poking each other. After passing Macy’s on the third floor, they stop and look over the railing at the ice rink below. A kiosk to the mother’s right catches her eye where a young girl with dirty blonde hair and a septum piercing sits reading Black Hole, a graphic novel.

The mother walks over, catching the attention of the saleswoman who looks up for only a second. The woman looks at the vendor, brow furrowing as she leans in to the vendor interrupting her reading for the second time. The vendor knows she can’t make the sale, but they’re both curious about what each has to say.

“Does it hurt?” the Asian woman asks the vendor, pointing at a navel piercing on the stand. The vendor at Body Jewelry, answers her question and buries back into the pages as the family walks away.

Lainie, a 19-year-old sophomore English major at Collin County Community College, sits for 11 hours every day at her first retail job. She’s done cupcakes and ice cream, stuff like that, but likes that she can go to a job she knows something about to help pay for school.

Besides the boredom, the thing that frustrates her the most is that Galleria employees have to follow dress code, where she can’t wear what she wants and isn’t allowed to wear piercings. The anger builds in her voice as she says she is getting tired of the “conservative outlook.”

“Actually, I don’t really care,” she said with a grin with a grin that soothes the scene. “I mean it’s a piercing shop so it makes a difference if I actually have the things that we sell.”

Lainie knows many people with big gauges, young people obviously with faces that look like they fell into a tackle box.

“The thing is when my generation is in the workplace 15 years from now, do you have any idea how many people will have stretched ears?” she said, not waiting for a response. “So many, because I feel like it’s 25 percent of my generation with gauged ears.”

Some vendors that are more desperate to make a sale will stand up, pacing, interrupting mall guests from their texts as they walk trying to get to the next store, but Lainie hasn’t felt the need to do that yet. People just come up to her throughout the morning, sometimes they’re older people fascinated by the concept of body jewelry, but usually it’s the alternative crowd or girls with a small nose stud who know exactly what they want.

Sometimes, her customers don’t know what they want or don’t have the piercing yet. She loves when she can help someone learn more about piercings. She will hand them a business card for a tattoo and body piercing shop she recommends and sends them on their way. If they look young, she will give tips on how to clean jewelry and what kind of cleaning solution to use for different jewelry.

“Like, you can’t use anything with alcohol on anything with the little plastic balls because they’ll explode,” she said. “If it’s metal, I just tell them to use warm water and soap. That’s all you need.”

Lainie is annoyed when people just walk around and look at things. When they ask her the price, Lainie responds politely and professionally, sometimes aggravating the customers. She’ll haggle to an extent, but not very much.

“I’ll be a lot more willing if they get more than three things,” she said, her soft voice picking up intensity and volume. “That makes a huge difference and the prices go down really well when you get more than two or three things.”

All the boredom washes from her eyes as the alternative crowd shops. She stands up, bookmarks the page and grins when people come and they have all these tattoos, huge gauges and gauged noses. She’s particularly fascinated by the concept of gauging a tongue, where the customer gradually increases the size of their tongue rings until they get a hole in it.

“You can get a hole in your balls too,” she said. “I think that’s kind of interesting.”

Lainie had her ears gauged up to eights but went back down to 14’s. She wasn’t really into it and is now back in regular earrings after healing. Now, she just plays with her septum ring as she turns the page, waiting for the next customer.

protest, trade agreement, businessman, Dallas

Edward Griffin

Edward Griffin sits in the sunshine and cool breeze blowing through Klyde Warren Park. The 25-year Dallas resident, originally from Pittsburgh, is a businessman and owns his own grant consulting firm. He wears a black long-sleeve shirt, with a white undershirt mirroring his short graying hair, to keep him warm as he reads the latest edition of the Dallas Morning News like he normally does.

He sets the paper on to the chessboard table to flip to the sports section and checks the expensive watch on his left wrist.  It’s jeans day for other people in the park, but today Edward wears jeans for comfort as he protests the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

“The protest went pretty good as far as I can guess,” Edward said. “Unfortunately I came pretty late.” Edward was still able to participate, staying back to pass out leaflets as the others marched onward. His mission, to educate the public on something he doesn’t know much about.

“I was like, what is this?” he said. “Basically, it’s some kind of trade deal they’re trying like the NAFTA deal.”

Edward’s problem is that the trade deal is relatively secret, he said with a fading smile. There have been news articles about it over the past eight years, but few and far between with little to no enlightenment on the trade agreement. It was only on November 13, 2013 that WikiLeaks first leaked “Secret TPP treaty: Advanced Intellectual Property chapter for all 12 nations with negotiating positions” documents.

The concern in his voice is easily heard. “Why don’t we know about it? If it’s such a good deal, why did nobody hear about it?”

Edward Griffin tries to be well read and thinks reading is the best way to stay open-minded. He reads the news every day, investigating the validity of articles himself. His brow tightens, wrinkling his forehead as he tries to stay open-minded about something he can’t understand.  He’s not just here to educate the public, but to educate himself.

“That’s why I was trying to come,” he said. “When I heard about the protest, I’m like, let’s investigate and see what this is first. I want to know what it is.”

Edward is a part of the organization protesting today, Texas Organizing Priorities.

It’s a beautiful day for Edward Griffin. Edward thinks it went well, and smiles as he wraps up his daily reading, setting his hand on top of the paper blowing in the wind.

Read more about the TPP agreement at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Washington College of Law

Segway, Tour Guide, Dallas Tour, Skating, longboard, Klyde Warren

Skater Stew, a Segway and the Open Road

His name is Stew and he’s a Segway tour guide, giving beautiful Segway tours all through the downtown area, and he loves it.

It’s the only job he has ever had where he looks forward to going to work in the morning. It is the only job he’ll pull himself out of bed early just to get there. Stew lives for his Segway tours and downhill longboarding, the reason he always has a helmet on.

When he’s not on Segway tours, he lives to make it to as many races in North Texas as he can. Not Segway races, downhill longboard races. Stew tries to skate all through the downtown area as much as he can.

“I always lose and end up crashing in the corner,” he said. “I’ll come through corners with about five other guys all battling for the same line.”

He’s got a love for the sport that radiates from his smile as he talks about the full contact at the starting and finish lines. It’s the most fun he could ever have.

Stew has been giving tours for about three months at Segway Nation. All the other jobs Stew has ever held have been awful. Stew found the job when he went on Craigslist. He was interviewed immediately and got the job because he was the only candidate who actually knew something about Dallas.

“I’m here so frequently skating and used to deliver in the area, so it was pretty much just went in and got the job and now I give tours,” he said.

His tours start over in the West End in between the Greyhound station and the Omni Hotel. Stew takes tourists and residents through the convention center, the arts district, on over to Dealey Plaza “where the assassination took place before heading back on over to HQ.”

In the three months he’s been giving tours, Stew has only had one kid break a wrist. Of course, he gets the occasional falls that happen around four times a day, but nobody has broken another bone or a Segway.

“I’ll put it this way, I have more trouble with adults on Segways than I do with the kids,” Stew said. “You get an adult on the Segway and they’re like a kid again.”

They just don’t pay attention and they just start having fun and go around object and catch the wheel on something and start rolling but usually it’s just a scrape on an elbow or something like that. Nothing too dramatic.

Stew and the other tour guide take falls on the Segway all the time. “We’re very over confident so before I know it, I’m trying to come around the corner looking all cool and I’ll run into something and get thrown off,” he said.

Of course, to counteract that, Stew stands up and starts laughing. He always makes sure to look around and start laughing before other people laugh at him.

“That is the main goal,” Stew said. It’s just like when he skates. “When you get thrown off your board in front of 50 people, you got to make sure you beat them to that laugh. It’s the only way to play it off, but it’s so much fun I enjoy it.”

As he watches for his two guests to finish their food in Klyde Warren Park, he fastens his helmet. It’s time for Stew to get back on the road.

Dallas, homeless, parole

GPiizy

His name is Christopher Morgan but they call him GPiizy. He’s from Dallas, Texas but he was born in Garland, Texas, you know what I’m saying.

He’s GPiizy and he has been struggling all his life.

“I been through prison two three times, you know what I’m saying,” he said all pissed off. His birthday is coming up on April 29 and he gets the perfect gift. He gets off parole.

“Look bro, honestly, I gone have jobs. I have school. I been doing everything to get my life together,” he said. “And this morning man, everything went kapoop.”

It’s like this right here, “When you don’t have nothing like I have been all my life, been messed up all my life, you know what I’ve been saying, going back and forth to prison and at the same time trying to get myself together.

GPiizy had everything invested in him and his woman. They were going to start a business together but his investment tanked.

“You want to write a book? If you wrote a book about me and this dude right here, your book will go platinum,” he said, laughing at his friend who was trying to pick up a girl walking past. “I guarantee you.”

This morning was the beginning of the end. Everything went haywire and now he’s homeless.

“Man, look, I’m at a point in my life right now where I even went to the homeless shelter this morning to try to just go to the bottom to come back up,” he said with a hope in his eye that put a smile on his pissed off face.

“I had everything, you know what I’m saying, as far as my business school taking care of my business,” he said. “I been with this woman and this morning we had a spat.”

Her sister is a preacher and her brother lived with them.

“I was taking her to work man I got pissed off bro, and it clicked,” he said.

Christopher Morgan was trying to start a business called the mobile dollar. He was going to do “like a vending thing.” He was even going to have food, but now can’t afford to feed himself.

“The food was going to be the main thing,” GPiizy said, “but it was going to be called the mobile dollar because everybody go’n around town trying to get stuff for a dollar.”

GPiizy knows his company was going to be a great investment because people can’t leave out of downtown “to like get stuff.”

“I was going to make my money and become a millionaire of my mobile dollar. I had everything drawed up, my plans drawed up and everything,” he said.

Christopher Morgan was going to have a cart. He even had food and everything already. But this morning it all ended.

“I don’t know what’s going on with my life bro.”