In a change of pace this month, we would like to cover some urban and cultural events that have/had/will take place in Dallas, TX. Dallas has long been a hub for artists, musicians, and other creatives that enjoy the affordable living accommodations and like-minded individuals that flock to the area. Some Dallas alumni include Erykah Badu, Meat Loaf, Owen Wilson, and others and current notable artists such as Kyle Steed, Frank Campagna, and Alicia Eggert paving the way for the next generation. We hope the quirks of our beloved city will give you some insight into Dallas and inspire you to visit, or even move, to the Lone Star State.
If you’re confused, you are in good company. The plaque claims, in no uncertain terms, that Dallas founder John Neely Bryan was, in fact, a cephalopod whose founding of Dallas is an illusion only made real by our complicity in this illusion. The only identifying features left by the artist is a name on the plaque – Solomon.In this article we will cover one of Dallas’s more recent – and unique – public art installations. The story is a bit unusual, so we’ll just jump right in. In October of 2019, a strange and detailed life-size statue appeared near the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in downtown Dallas. The statue claimed to be of John Neely Bryan, the man credited with founding Dallas back in 1841, except for one glaring difference – the head of John Neely Brown was that of an octopus. The statue was accompanied by a plaque that only made the situation more surreal – claiming to be a gift to the City of Dallas from Margaret Mcdermott, a notable Dallas philanthropist and wife to Texas Instruments founder Eugene Mcdermott. The rest of the plaque reads “Confned in his last days to an insane asylum in Austin, no one knows what fnal confusions the founding father of Dallas confronted before his death. Did the lines between selfhood and otherhood blur completely? Did fesh confate with metal, the eternal with the temporal, the mammal with the cephalopod? Is the city he began a city in fact or only in shared delusion?”
The journalist who originally broke the story, Pete Freedman, received a small plaque, commemorative statue, and various hand-scribed poems from a box with his own apartment building as the return address. It was a small statue of what can only be described, partially, as a condensed human face on an over-sized head. The plaque proclaims it is “The Solomon Award for Journalistic Exceptionalism with the inscription “Dallas is only tangible so long as it is described that way. The illusion, our most worthy foe, resents your efforts against it. I, however, do not.”
Until December 13th, 2021 – two years later, when a second statue, with a human body and cephalopod head, appeared – this time in a female form.And this was the end of the story as far as we knew.
At Pioneer Park Cemetery, where a 65 foot confederate war memorial once stood, our mysterious artist struck again. This time leaving behind a life size statue perpetuating to be Sarah Horton Cockrell, a businesswoman and entrepreneur in Dallas during its founding, who is remembered as “Dallas’s first capitalist”. Once again, the head of this statue was an octopus, and, once again, a plaque with an pointed message was left upon the statue. This plaque read “”If Sarah Horton Cockrell did encounter Dallas’s true namesake on her 33rd birthday, how did she walk away with her selfhood in tact? Why her? Why that night at that crossing of that particular bend of the Trinity? The facts paint little in the way of an answer: afterwards she declined to sleep, wanderng the darkened city she largely owned, inventing new ways to profit from thresholds. Was her wealth then hers by fate or by compulsion? Maybe our city’s love/hate relationship with tolls was born that night, rippling out beyond the levies of her destiny. Her Trinity Toll Bridge still calling in Sarah’s debts on another plane, a taller, more enduring memorial than any our city’s other daughters have built. If so, well, hail Sarah, daughter of unnameable monarchs, hand commanding the purse of eternty.”
This statue claimed to be a gift from oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, complete with a misspelling of the Dallas city logo, and a series of strange straight line-based markings. This is where things become even more strange. These line-based markings were soon discovered, by a Twitter user, to be Cistercian numerals used by the Cisterian monastic order in the early thirteenth century. They translated into the numbers 009725884762 which, as you may recognize after removing the 0s, is a phone number with a Dallas area code. Upon calling the phone number you are greeted by a very distorted and modulated audio recording that is mostly unintelligible, but faint words sound to be part German and others part English. This audio recording sounds like its straight from a twilight zone episode; I highly encourage any readers to give the phone number a ring and listen to it themselves.
And this really is where the story ends – for now. As far as we know no one has been able to glean any information from the audio recording. Out of curiosity and sheer opportunity we had an audio engineer/composer spend some time listening and they reported it is possible to get the audio rather clear using ring modulation, low-frequency oscillators, and formant shifting techniques.
We hope someone with the right skills will come along and be able to push this story forward for us, or maybe we will just have to wait until the next statue appears. Regardless, we find this story to be quite entertaining and the perfect epitome of the quirks our beloved Dallas has to offer. Whether you are a current, future, or admiring-from-afar Dallasite, our city really does have something for everyone – no matter how strange.