It’s a hot Dallas afternoon and I’m staring out a southeast corner window inside the former Texas School Book Depository building. Sixty feet down and roughly a hundred and fifty feet away, white Xs painted in the middle of Elm Street mark the spots where two 6.5 millimeter rifle bullets ended John F. Kennedy’s life almost forty–five years ago. A surreal feeling washes over me. I’ve seen this place thousands of times on television and in books, but now I’m here for real. What’s so remarkable is how unrememarkable Dealey Plaza really is. It looks like any other patch of Public Works maintained asphalt and grass you’d find in any American city. And yet, this is the site of a national trauma as vividly remembered as Pearl Harbor or September 11th. A chill runs down my spine. I’m standing on sacred ground.
“So,” my friend Lana says, “You think Oswald acted alone?”
“Who knows?” I reply. “But being here and actually seeing the distances involved? He certainly could have done it by himself.”
“I’ve shot a rifle a few times. It’s doable.”
“You don’t think there was a conspiracy?”
“Maybe there was,” I reply, looking back down at Elm Street. “But it was forty-five years ago. Plenty of time for secrets to have worked their way to the surface.”
“I don’t know,” Lana says. “I think Oswald had help.”
“Maybe he did.”
We silently gaze down on the tourists poking around the grassy knoll next to the large memorial dedicated to George Bannerman Dealey, the civic booster for whom the plaza is named. I poked around the infamous spot before we entered the Sixth Floor Museum. Staring over the slight wooden fence, I imagined I was an assassin drawing a bead on the motorists coasting past. If I was deranged and armed with high powered rifle, they’d be chopped meat. Maybe Lana and the conspiracy theorists are right. Maybe they’re not.
“Well,” I say, breaking the silence, “Now I can say I’ve been to every spot where an American President has been assassinated.”
“All of them?”
“Yep,” Washington D.C., Buffalo, New York, and now Dallas, Texas.”
“I keep forgetting your Dad was a history teacher.”
“He made sure my brother and I saw all those places,” I reply. “But Texas was too far of a drive cooped up inside the family car.”
“I can’t imagine you and your brother sharing a car for that long now,” Lana says. “Much less than when you were little.”
“Ugh,” I reply. “If we took that long of a trip when we were kids, it’d be Armageddon.”
“Your poor parents.”
“They survived,” I say, looking at my watch. “Listen, all this weight of history stuff is making me hungry. How about some lunch?”
Lana and I exit the museum and reenter the baking Dallas atmosphere. We walk past several dining establishments on Market Street before settling on a New Orleans’s style seafood restaurant named Landry’s. Inside, the dimly lit dining room is cool and the service attentive and friendly. I order the Ahi tuna tempura roll with soy ginger butter and wasabi cream served on top of Thai coleslaw. I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m not a food critic, but my tuna dish is as good as any as I’ve had in New York City. Lana enjoys her shrimp salad as well. After a drinking several Coronas and taking a pass on the excellent looking Key Lime Pie, we pay the bill and get up to head home.
“I need to use ladies room before getting in the car,” Lana says.
“Okay,” I reply. “I’ll wait for you outside.”
Luckily Landry’s has a nice outdoor waterfall near its front entrance. I park myself near its cooling mist and watch the pedestrian traffic stroll by. It must be change of shift at Landry’s because several waiters clad in long sleeve white shirts, ties, and heavy looking black aprons emerge from the restaurant to go on their pre-shift cigarette, candy, and food runs. Ah, waiters are the same everywhere.
When Lana returns from the bathroom we retrieve our car and head towards our next destination. With a start I realize we’re driving though Dealey Plaza. As we coast over the white Xs painted in the middle of Elm Street, I crane my neck and look back up at the School Book Depository’s infamous corner window. The innocuous panes of glass peer back at me like the mute and evil eyes of history. A chill runs down my spine.
Then we drive under the triple overpass and it’s gone.
It’s not the distance that made it so improbable that Oswald acted alone, but the rapid succession in which the shots were fired.
Excellent. I just visited Pearl Harbor last weekend and had the exact same feeling, but couldn’t put it into words so well.
I’ve never been big on visiting such sites. Maybe I just don’t like that particular chilled feeling.
The lunch sounds wonderful!
Its Baloey to suggest Oswald did the job single handedly, thats too Texan wild west and too lone ranger to be real !!
he’d have to be guided and assisted from some covert organization ( government arm.. ? ) to get the vantage point and do the job.
I’m a big fan of yours Waiter! 😀 all the way from India, yep! you’r read here ( especially in my office i make it a point to share the link 😉 )
Btw when is your book hitting India ? you’d be surprised it will get more than a decent run. .!
It is interesting that you have been to all the places president’s have been assassinated. Have you read “Assassination Vacation” by Sarah Vowell? If you haven’t, give it a read. It’s fascinating and droll. Enjoy the food in Texas!
Oh, God. I wrote “president’s” as a possessive and I can’t edit it.
Lol notmuch – It’s alright, out of all the comments thus far yours tops the cake haha.
On behalf of notmuch:
“It is interesting that you have been to all the places presidents have been assassinated. Have you read “Assassination Vacation” by Sarah Vowell? If you haven’t, give it a read. It’s fascinating and droll. Enjoy the food in Texas!”
Apology accepted –
As a long-time Dallasite, I’m going to make two requests, Waiter:
1) Please do not walk out onto Elm Street and stand on the white “X” as so many other people do. I drive that road every day on the way home from work, and you would be shocked at how many times I’ve nearly hit a tourist who doesn’t recognize that Elm Street is actually a working four-lane street.
2) Please tell your “friend” not to take you to any more crappy chain restaurants (e.g., Landry’s and the Blackeyed Pea). Dallas has a ton of great restaurants, and it’s killing me that you are overlooking them in favor of such places. If you can’t think of a place to go, pick up a copy of the Dallas Observer (a publication of Village Voice Media, available for free just about anywhere) or throw the forum open to suggestions, since you seem to have plenty of Dallas-familiar readers.
Just to help, I’ll tell you that if you don’t have the brisket tacos at Mia’s on Lemmon Drive, well, you’re just letting the best in life pass you by.
Ah, Landry’s. I used to be the accountant for that particular location. Food’s good, manager’s an ass. I know, what a shock…
Lol, I was afraid you’d forget to work food into the article for a while. Nice one though Waiter!
Great post, a very nice reflection on the long arm of history. If you never write about waitering again, I’ll still be a reader here.
I got the some same creepy chills at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, seeing where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, and where the shooter was. Very bad mojo. It happened again standing outside what’s left of the convenience store in Money, MS. where Emmett Till sealed his fate.
Isn’t it weird what simple landscape can do to you?
Ditto on the comments regarding ‘crappy chains’. Stay away, far away. Dallas has way too many great places to eat to waste money in those places.
Crappy chain food.
Next, you will be eating at Applebees.
Yelp.com has 1700+ restaurants reviewed in Dallas, TX.
Forget food in Dallas. Head to Ft. Worth. Three words: Joe T. Garcia’s. Look ’em up at http://www.joets.com. *Then* you can say you’ve eaten well in Texas.
…of course, then you gotta head down I-35 to Austin and San Antonio. Lordy, I’m gettin’ hungry just thinkin’ about it…
The correct spelling is actually Dealey Plaza.
But I love this blog anyway.
Landry’s – yuck. And please don’t call it New Orleans style.
my great uncle was at the university that day, and he actually protected some of his friends from the gunfire. i’ve been to dallas many times and have had NO desire to go see that paticular part of history…too macabre to me, but i’m glad you had if not fun, an interesting time of it…please, no more chain places….they make my tummy hurt just thinking about it *lol*
BTW, when people talk about Oswald firing quickly, they forget the clock starts with the first shot. He got off 2 shots in 6 seconds, which is not hard, but people say he took 3 shots. That’s true but you don’t start counting until after that first shot.
Long time lurker, first time poster! Just wanted to add that there was a Penn & Teller “Bullshit” episode on conspiracy theories that ran a year or two ago that addressed the Kennedy assassination. Essentially, Penn & Teller proved your theory correct; Oswald almost certainly did act alone, and had the training, time, etc. to fire off those fatal shots. Not to say I’m entirely dismissing the skepticism out there, but it’d be very, very, very unlikely than anyone but Oswald committed that murder.
(Ok, I’m a macabre history geek. I’ll go back to lurking now!)
Leaving alone the question of a conspiracy, and the quality of food at Landry’s, just doing a little copyediting here: You drank several Coronas, not “Corona’s.”
— Making the world a less possessive place, one apostrophe at a time.
I’m a Houstonian but I’ll have to agree with James. Landry’s — ugh. Deep Ellum Cafe is one I think you’d like. As for whether he acted alone, the times I’ve stood in the window and looked out at the X’s, all I could think about was how hard it supposedly is to re-chamber a shell after you fire the Mannlicher-Carcano he used, which is, I think, not an automatic. Even with as slow as the motorcade was traveling, he would have had much time to fire, re-chamber, recompose, fire, etc. and do so with such accuracy.
WOULD NOT have had much time to fire, etc. Why is it so easy to mess up when you’re leaving a comment? 😉
as I was reading this entry I thought “He needs to read “Assassination Vacation.” but notmuchofacook beat me to it! I have to second the recommendation.
glad you’re having a good time in TX. I was able to stop by the 6th Floor a few years ago on a cross-country road trip. I remember seeing a sign on the door of the building saying that firearms were not allowed inside. having only seen guns on the belts of police officers, I thought it was so strange to be in a place where a sign like that was necessary.
Interesting..I’ve stood in that same place and asked the same questions. I’ve also eaten at that same place. Good food.
as a fellow history buff, I’ve often felt the same “chill” when up close and personal to a historical site, or artifact. Try going to Gettysburg sometime. You can’t help but feel the ghosts all around you.
Big fan of Waiterrant and since I’m a bit on the old side, I remember when JFK was assasinated. I won’t do the “I was….” schtick, but I think you younger ones should look at the tape from that day. How can one shot hit from the back of the car and another hit from the front?
One shooter? I think not. Was the guy shot by Ruby actually Oswald? Who knows. There a lot of questions about that day that will probably not be answered in my lifetime!!!
I’d love to read your observations if you could tour the world, “Waiter Does London.” …or “Waiter Rant …Russian Style.” : ) Really, you are quite wonderful and anything you experience and then write about would be worth reading (and paying for it).
I’ve lived near Dallas/Ft. Worth for most of my life, but I have never gone to Dealey Plaza. I’ve never been enamored by the Kennedy’s or the conspiracy theories about that day in 1963.
Hope you enjoy your stay with us, Waiter. Come south a bit and we’ll find you a couple longhorns. 🙂
Dealey Plaza has always spooked me. I used to avoid Elm because it just felt … unnatural? Like I wasn’t supposed to be there. There’s no other way to describe it.
I’ve been to the 6th Floor museum. Put me in the Oswald was the lone shooter camp. Read “Case Closed” by Gerald Posner. Addresses and knocks down many conspiracy theories and misconceptions (like that Kennedy was hit from the front or the rifle couldn’t be fired fast enough)
Most chills I ever got was at the site of the Fuehrer Bunker in Berlin.
I had the same creepy feeling in Dealey Plaza. No matter how JFK ended up shot, it happened there, awfully. The worst part was I was doing advance for the a candidate running for the democratic nomination, and we were headed to the TV studios (the ABC, I think) for a debate that night. I couldn’t believe they would drive presidential candidates down that same street. Yikes.
I’m so excited you’re in my state! Fortunately for you, I’ve never been in Dallas for anything other than business, so I can’t tell you what to tour. I hope you have a wonderful trip and get to see lots of things.
Happy to welcome you to our part of Texas. Dealey Plaza is a goose bump place every day for those of us who work or have worked in downtown Dallas. Enjoy the food. Try the original El Chico.
Yes, Dealy Plaza is MUCH smaller than the media has made it. The first shot was at 71 yards and the second at 85. Anyone with 20/400 vision or better could have made it with a scope. Also, the “time” they state it took to make 3 shots BEGINS with the first and ends with the third. So it’s really the time to make two.
Oswald could indeed have done it.
I kinda think he did. My friend, who’s read everything I have about it, completely disagrees.
I think we’ll never know.
for the love of all thats holy
can you do ANY foodie research Waiter
two names for ya
Stephen Pyles (believe he might have 2 places going in Dallas
Dean Fearing just opened a place in one of the major hotels in Dallas forget which one
he was the original chef for Mansion on Turtle Creek know as one of the founders of Southwestern cuisine
these are just a couple names I came off the tip of my tongue
DFW has great places big small and everything in between but STOP going to the chains just because we are a major corp HQ for restaurants.
Better watch out Bourdain reads that your only eating chain gruel and he might pull his endorsement!!!
Not Landrys, the garbage at most mom and pop po-boy joints in New Orleans is better than the best meal at a Landrys. What’s next the Rain Forest Cafe? Too many good places to eat in the Dallas area to waste it on a chain.
Excellent idea. A Road Trip for Waiter, team up with Anthony Bourdain – “Two for the Road” Front and back of the house. Didn’t he write a book?
Enjoy Dallas, but when you are ready for a real meal come on down the N’Awlins. Hour and a half as Southwest flys. Small detour for a great time and even greater food.
Everything is interesting with you, I do solemnly swear.
In other news, my leg itches.
When I visited Dealey Plaza, I found it odd that they’d put an X in the road to show the exact spot where President Kennedy was killed – and cars still drive over it. Not unlike walking on someone’s grave, really.
Wow, I like your writing and I think you are a total douchebag at the same time. Good luck on the not trying to be a total douchebag thing, I bet it’ll work out real well.
Wow, it must have been really surreal to look at the very spot where a man’s life was taken…I honestly can’t say I could imagine what it would have been like.
On a completely unrelated topic, has anyone here been to J.R.’s Family Bar-B-Q? I know it’s in Oklahoma, not in Texas, and I guess I don’t know much about American BBQ, being Australian and all, but if anyone’s been there, is the food there any good?
If you haven’t been there and want to give it a try, and you’re in the area, it’s on Interstate Drive, in Norman, Oklahoma.
Oh, and is this book coming to Australia?
After watching the BBC series “The Men Who Killed Kennedy” (fascinating and informative), I tend to believe there way a conspiracy. While I could swallow one or two coincidences, there are just way, way too many weird connections about the whole event to be as simple as presented.
That being said, Vincent Bugliosi wrote a book saying it was Oswald alone. I haven’t read it yet, but when Bugliosi says something, I tend to take notice.
We have a Landry’s here..meh..it’s a chain.
As far as the 6th floor museum..I couldn’t help but cry
Dear Waiter, reading that you were in the Sixth Floor Museum gave me a sense of familiarity. I was there 2 years ago and even though I’m not an American, just being there brought me a sense of sadness I couldn’t explain. I saw the white X too.
I wish I could describe my experience as vividly as you did, but I’m simply not as good a writer as you are. Some pictures that I do have are here:
That was my first trip ever to the US (I’m from Singapore) and I totally fell in love with the friendly people around and the Tex-Mex cuisine.
Now I’m going to have to dig out my Was (Not Was) CD that has the song “11 MPH (Abe Zapp Ruder Version)” on it.
11 miles per hour
such a deadly speed
11 miles per hour
at the time and place agreed…
they pulled that limosine down
elm street slow and clean-
lead fell like a shower
at 11 miles per hour
Your stories are all from my stomping grounds – Peggy Sue’s, downtown, etc. It is interesting seeing my city from the eyes of a visitor. Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. Don’t forget to check out Angry Dog (in Deep Ellum, on Commerce) for a great burger.
I remember seeing a sign on the door of the building saying that firearms were not allowed inside. having only seen guns on the belts of police officers, I thought it was so strange to be in a place where a sign like that was necessary.
Hell, we have those signs on the doors of the school I work for. Go to any chain store, it’s shoes, shirt, no guns. One of the few deserved Texas stereotypes.
I’ve never been to a Landry’s, but if the man liked it then it’s not some culinary crime. But yeah, trolling around Deep Ellum and the Arts district in general is a good way to find weird hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Cafe Brazil is technically a chain, but that’s my favorite slightly-sleazy local place to eat.
So many assholes saying…”OMG why did you eat at landry’s, you’re a complete moron…” All I know is I’ve had shitty meals at really upstanding places and really good meals at some chain restaurants. I’ve seen the same exact dish get high praise from room service where I work one day, then the very next day someone calls down and complains about it being “not up to their standards”. Food is food, and where snobs will find fault with going to places like blackeyed pea or landrys because they might have had bad experiences there or have the distinguished palate of either a picky little kid or an arrogant old-timer, I know you can find the best and worst of food pretty much anywhere, depending on so many different factors. And I’m not saying the atmosphere can be the same in these places, I’ve stayed at 5 star hotels in LA and Vegas, compared to the one I work at which is a 3 1/2, and everything is so much nicer in feel and setting, but the food I had varied from good to just plain atrocious during the course of my stays. You can’t say that just because you had one bad meal there that all meals are bad though, can you?
I’ve eaten at Landry’s with family several times, and I’ve had good food there several times, but I find it shameful that someone would take an out-of-towner to these generic chain restaurants.
Here in Texas, we have great hamburgers. The place that sells them is called McDonald’s. If you’re not in the mood for that, there’s a great little pizza place called “Pizza Hut” that makes delicious pizza and pasta.
Hey! Texas (north Texas) is my stompin’ grounds! Let me know if you want a list of GREAT places to eat! 🙂 🙂
Glad you like it so far — but yeah — chicken fried steak is EVIL. Black Eyed Peas is nothing compared to Babe’s Fried Chicken . . .
Well, I like Landry’s fine — but I’m in the desert, where the only other seafood option is Red Lobster. It’s not where I’d go if I were visiting Dallas. I, too, am confused by all the chain visits.
If I were going to make a recommendation, I’d second the Joe T Garcia’s idea — though you’ll understand I haven’t eaten there since I was in school in Fort Worth almost 3 decades (gack!) ago.
I agree with Booply…good food is good food when you like it. Period. I rather imagine you will be finding some local places to eat that are fantastic.
Also, Jillian, thanks for fixing my post:).
In response to L’s post about wanting to read Waiter Does London or Waiter Rant…Russian Style,
well, I’d be really happy if these Texas posts involved either waiting or a rant. Either one.
In the meantime, I appreciate the sensations you’re describing, but I also was surprised to see the chill run down your spine at the end of the post, considering a chill had run down your spine earlier in the same post, shortly after the surrealism washed over you. I guess I don’t care if people eat in the same old restaurants in which everyone else eats, but I wish they wouldn’t use the same old words everyone else uses.
Don’t get me wrong; you can write well. I just crave some of the unique flavor of your early New York posts.
so all the pro chain commentors so IF I flew up to see NYC your recommending I eat at the east coast versions of Black Eyed Pea (food seasoned for the geriatric crowd) I once worked for a independent mexican chain that had a sole place that was a carbon copy of one -my god it was bland -have to admit it had a good CFS I got a few months back BUT its now where close to uber that is found all over the state) and Landry’s.
Hell no your going to tell me about Nathans hot dogs, kosher dogs from street venders, and various NYC landmark places to eat and probably gonna throw out named places like Tavern on the Green, Per Se, etc
and I third the Joe T recommendation but ask to sit on the patio.
Get a burger at Fred’s, a Chicken n Waffles at Ovation, drink some locally made Rahr beer if you make it over to fort worth
Cut him some slack ya’ll I drove through Texas once and my friends and I only ate at drive-in chains like Sonic, were all from CT so that was a new thing to us, just cuase its a chain doesn’t mean its terrible especially if you’ve never eaten their before
Am I the only one who finds Texas intolerable? I’ll admit I didn’t visit any large cities (airports notwithstanding) but in the rural areas, and there are many, I saw way too many run down homes and small towns, yet their churches were pristine.
All I could think was “now I understand why the country is in the shape it’s in.” Texas is a hell hole. And why are so many religious cults with perverted leaders are in Texas?
I will admit that the people I encountered were friendly and accommodating, but that’s the best I can say about it.
Did you go to the fountains downtown while you were in Dallas?
Dear Waiter, reading that you were in the Sixth Floor Museum gave me a sense of familiarity. I was there 2 years ago and even though I’m not an American, just being there brought me a sense of sadness I couldn’t quite explain. I saw the white X too.
I wish I could describe my experience as vividly as you did, but I’m simply not as good a writer as you are. Some pictures that I do have of the museum are posted in my blog post. (Click on my name to go to the link.)
That was my first trip ever to the US (I’m from Singapore) and I totally fell in love with the friendly people around and the Tex-Mex cuisine.
Nice to hear you’re here in Dallas! I go by that place everyday, and am surprised that history actually happened there.
Anyways, if you’re still here, try going to eat at the Bishop Arts District. All of the restaurants down there are fantastic! And check out the Arts District. That place is unbelievable!
I know that feeling you had, I had the same feeling in Paris standing in the Plaza at the Trocadero overlooking the Eiffel Tower, realizing that Hitler had stood there once. Gave me the shivers, it did.
By the way, good job, am looking forward to the book.
interesting stuff…but when are you going to get back to writing about serving???? we miss your stuff…too good for us now?
About the white Xs: I think they’re put there by the guy who stands on the corner and tries to sell the “newspaper” about the assassination. If he can get people thinking about conspiracy, he can sell more papers. They are not “city-sanctioned” Xs.
Also, the name of the museum is “The Sixth Floor Museum.” It’s probably actually located on the fifth or seventh floor; the sixth is still sealed.
Hmmm…Kayl thinks Texas, which has “friendly and accommodating” people, is a “hellhole” and is responsible for the sorry shape of the entire country. Seems to me, what we need is more people who are friendly and accommodating, not greedy and grasping. As for perverted religious leaders, when I was a dental hygienist in California, I had as a patient Father Oliver O’Grady, who later was found to be one of the worst child molesters in the country. He was allowed to continue his terrible acts for years before he was finally arrested. Texas doesn’t have a lock on religious perverts. It’s a big state where people can hide more easily. Father O’Grady, however, was right under everyone’s noses in California, yet he was shunted from church to church in an disgusting cover-up attempt. Don’t smear a whole state when you haven’t experienced it all. I can guarantee that if you visited the beautiful Hill Country around Austin and San Antonio, you wouldn’t think we’re all fodder for a Jeff Foxworthy stand-up routine. Y’all come back, Kayl….
Sorry, BeerPup, you are incorrect… From the 6th Floor Museum FAQ:
Q: Why is it called The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza?
A sniper’s nest and rifle were found on the sixth floor of this building after the assassination of President Kennedy. The Museum’s permanent exhibition is currently housed on the sixth floor.
Hey. Been away from the blog world for a while and I just checked in w/you, Waiter. Have a great trip, and enjoy yourself–you’ve earned it. I’m amused there are enough foodies out there that watch and comment about your intake and become offended about it. Half the fun on vacation is to stumble into a good thing and feel a little like Vasco de Gama…and how the heck did the commentary string go from good food to pedophiles? That’s a little random!
If you want to try the best burger in the world, you must go to JC’s Burger in Plano, TX (about 20 min from Dallas). It’s a mom and pop shop and you will absolutely love it!!
Welcome to Texas Waiter! I can concur with many who wrote that there are loads of fine non-chain restaurants in the Dallas Ft Worth area that are worth checking out. But many of the chains are fine as well. I would recommend Texas Road House for the CFS rather than Black-eyed Pea, though. You’ll love the atmosphere. Lots of fun. And you really should sample some of the very fine Mexican restaurants in the area – some to check into would be Monica’s Aca y Alla and Matt’s Rancho Martinez among many others.
Hope you have a great time in my hometown and don’t melt!(Just keep telling yourself, it’s not as hot as it could be!!)
glad to hear you’re having a good time in Texas.
if you think texas is hot you should see naples florida its so humid a 90 degree day fells like a 110. also we have a ton of old people which has convinced many that they are in fact in hell.
Next thing you know we’ll be hearing about his fine dining experiences in McDonalds and how it’s on par with anything in New York. This blog has already gone down the shitter.
The Zapruder film, which the conspirators did not reckon on, clearly shows that Keneddy was killed by a shot from the front left, i.e., the grassy knoll.
Our country has not been right since some in the permanent government successfully covered up for Kennedy’s real killer.
Re: Landry’s, I patronize locally owned restaurants and avoid national chain restaurants.
I’ll be in Austin later this month, and won’t be eating at Landry’s.
Landry’s is a locally owned chain if you’re in Texas. Well, Texas owned. Tillman Fertitta lives in Houston, and he owns Cadillac Bar, Saltgrass Steakhouse, Joe’s Crab Shack, Landry’s, the Aquarium in downtown Houston, and now the Golden Nugget Casino in Vegas.
Not that I’m disagreeing with not eating there. Texas gets a lot of crap, and one of the many things it has going for it is the food. From fried pies and chicken fried steaks to fine dining, Texas is a great place to eat. Therefore, I find it disappointing that Waiter’s not utilizing his location for the most exciting dining possible. Maybe, if he gets his ass out of the chains, he’ll grow out of the “Wow! It’s on par with food from New York!” mentality. New York doesn’t have the monopoly on good food, ya know.
Welcome to Texas
You must try La Duni on Oak Lawn just south of Highland park while you are here!
the cakes are great, but the gelato is to kill
I’ve been to Dallas and Dealey Plaza … but I didn’t know that the river of DENIAL still ran through American consciousness so deeply.
If you think for one minute that a former CIA agent could assasinate a sitting US President without assistance, you are simply naive. I have no doubt that Oswald was aware and probably involved in the event … but he did not act alone.
C’mon guys and girls, it’s not so hard to believe that our government could do such a thing …. it’s been doing it overseas for years!
texas is to america as america is to the rest of the world.
a proud texan
ive only been to one assassination location [New York] but its not my country, so 1/4 isnt bad! haha
Chris “texas is to america as america is to the rest of the world” – haha, you’re so right.
America is overrated and looked down upon by the rest of the world, as is redneck Texas by the rest of America.
I just moved from Texas to Korea 2 months ago. When people ask where I’m from and I say America, I get “Oh, ok.” When I say Texas, I get “WOW! Texas!”
That speaks for itself.
Please, please, please spell check before posting!! I enjoy this blog but the grammar errors make me want to die!
So,lemme get this straight… you drank several bottles of beer at lunch and then got behind the wheel of a car?
i was just at dealey plaza yesterday my uncle came in from dc and so we were showing him the sites, it was actually the first time ihad been to the 6th floor museum but ive been to the grassy knoll many times
it was very eery, i completley agree because as im lookin out the window next to the one where oswald shoot the rifle, i just get the chills knowing that in almost this exact spot jfks assassin took his rifle and shot it its just crazy being right there
Holy food snottery Batman!! Who gives a crap where Waiter ate! As long as he enjoyed himself! Damn!! It’s just food people. I can’t believe some of you are even slandering his pal for bringing him to this particular restaurant!!
Besides, you’re all sick bastards for enjoying meat anyhow! LOL!!!! “Such-and-such a place cooks animal ass better than that other place.” Oh, really.
once again, lame. i’m enjoying the digression from the main topic though. travel & history are cool.
it’s almost like your writing has no soul anymore. it’s as if you wrote a software program that randomly generates a post every three weeks or so.
yet i keep checking back… what’s wrong with me?
i agree with the above commenter on the rainforest cafe being wack. the food was good, the service was good, but if i’m shelling out that much dough for a meal i want it to be something different. that place is all atmosphere, and the food just doesnt do it for me. plus their mai tais taste like fruit punch. put some rum in the fucking thing! yet when it comes time to decide where to eat, i always get outvoted and we’re off to the riverwalk rainforest cafe again.
@Anna: Thankyou! I thought I was going to be the only person in 80-odd posts nagging Waiter about drink-driving.
Unless a Corona in Texas is some sort of Kool-Aid variant. Here in Australia, Coronas are sold as an imported Cerveza that cafes charge about eight bucks for. I don’t mind a few with a slice of lime, but they tend to be a bit weak for me (as are most beers from the US/Mexico/Canada).
I must admit I’ve never been more hungry after reading your last couple of posts, Waiter.
you should have gone with the key lime pie… I ate at that exact restaurant two weeks ago and the key lime pie was to die for. Weird coincidence hmmm. Considering I am from Idaho not dallas.
We Texans don’t mind if Waiter has one hand on his beer, so long as he keeps his other on the steering wheel.
Oh My Gosh! Waiter started writing this for his own use, people started reading it because they wanted to! Shame Shame Shame on any of you who are criticizing his grammar, choice of topic, or how he writes. IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, DON’T READ IT! Its that freaking simple people. This is a blog, not a test or an essay or even a book that’s turned in for a grade or for you to proofread it. He writes about what HE WANTS TO WRITE ABOUT BECAUSE IT’S HIS BLOG!
Shame! Shame! Shame!
I like YOUR WRITING PERIOD. Write about any freaking this you want!
how interesting to read it from an outsider perspective. and by outsider i mean a non-dallasite or dallas native.
landry’s is good. i’m glad you liked it too. i have to admit this is one of my favorite posts of yours to date… mostly because it’s set in my city love and that will always pique my interest. again, fun to hear about the goings-on in this city i love by a foreigner.
“Texas is to America as America is to the rest of the world”…you don’t see Texas doing half the stuff we as a nation have done to other countries or for other countries, but you see the same general feeling with both scenarios. Texas, albeit a little asthetically displeasing at areas, is not unlike most states (sacrifice maybe Vermont, Colorado, or Oregon for the view) in that it has it’s good and bad places, it’s good and bad people, and some of the best food you can get anywhere, as does any other state. You need to know where to look, and you need to know the culture that made a state’s particular area function the way it does, not just write it off as what you portray it to be. Maybe the fact some Americans portray Texas as a blemish to our country can justify the idea Texas to U.S. is like the U.S.’s policy to go to war with any country that has profitable oil (which would be a lie since I doubt Gore would have let it last nearly this long). You need to see the whole picture, and not condemn a place or a people (i.e. the culture and religion too!) just because you experienced a fraction of the area.
You gotta get over to Ft. Worth at some point while you’re there…life’s too short to live in Dallas dontcha know. Ft. Worth’s downtown is hopping at night…Billy Bob’s is great, the Modern and the Kimbell art museums are wonderful too.
almost forgot…you should go to Joe T. Garcia’s in Ft. Worth for the Tex-Mex…be sure to get a pitcher of margaritas and sit out on the patio…it’s perfection.
If you don’t like the President, that’s no reason to condemn the entire state of Texas. (C’mon, admit it… that’s what it boils down to.)
I’ve never really heard anyone refer to Texas as a hellhole or a blight on the nation until I read this blog. Seems to me that there are plenty of other states a whole lot more backwards and broken than Texas.
I finally finished reading your whole blog (and it only took me 2 weeks of prime work time). It’s fantastic and I’m looking forward to reading the book! Keep up the fantastic writing 🙂
“All I could think was ‘now I understand why the country is in the shape it’s in.’”
WHAT country are you living in? If you’ve traveled outside the U.S. at all, you’d know there is no place better to live in the world than the good ol’ U.S.A.
Ask ANY immigrant.
I just noticed the countdown on your right panel. Damn you, Waiter! The anticipation :[
Forget the food critics and the grammarians. You write from experience and you do it very well.
Regarding Oswald, if you had looked out of the window he fired from, you have noticed that the street that approaches Elm, where the procession had to nearly stop and make a 120 degree turn in order to continue, made the occupants of the car a much better target. No ability to accelerate away, standing still, facing at you. If you get a chance to stand in the gazebo on the knoll, you’ll also notice that it has “gun slits” built right in and gives direct over-the-fence access to the parking lot behind. Easy to shoot, hand you rifle off to someone on the other side and simply walk down Elm.
Maybe Oswald was right when he said he didn’t shoot at the President. He was stupid enough to shoot at Connelly (as ordered) and become the distraction for others.
BigSexy and Old Geezer,
Any good writer can benefit from constructive criticism. Even Waiter. The internet–and the bookstores–are full of mediocre stuff, and any writer worth his salt will welcome the occasional reader who helps him improve his craft, think about every sentence, and rise above the rest. A blog is not a diary; it’s a form of public writing for public reading.
Constructive criticism is one thing, but moaning about what he’s writing about is another. This is his blog, he didn’t ask anyone to read it, we just did, and even though it may be public, from reading his blogs for years, it is a form of a diary, its where he gets stuff off his mind. My point was he can write about whatever he wants Period. It is really not right for anyone to go behind him and correct every little spelling or grammar mistake, moan about what he is or isn’t writing about, that is what I can’t stand. It really sounds or reads like people are picking on him and my point again is that though it’s on the internet and public, its still HIS BLOG. Constructive is one thing, nit picking is another. Some of his best posts had NOTHING to do with waiting tables. I read this blog and have pre-ordered his book because I like the way he writes. That was my point and if you don’t agree with it, thats your perogative, but this is MY OPINION.
Bush is not a Texan, the Bush family is from Connecticut. In 1999 he bought the Texas ranch as a political tool to make southerners believe he is one of them and that he is an outdoorsy man’s man type.
Wow. Incredible. I seem to remember something about “not seeing the forest for the trees”. Screw the typos or incorrect grammar. This is a blog for God’s sake. BLOG, as in, one’s perception on life, issues, food, etc. A journal, an opinion.
Waiter, rock on. I realize that’s more than a bit cliche’, but, I really don’t care. I stumbled upon your blog and couldn’t stop reading. I laughed, cried, and got it. I’m a chef, and love what, and how, you write.
I’m also from Texas, in between Austin and Waco, from a little town, that, believe it or not, has some really great places to eat. They are not haute cuisine, by any means, some more so than others, but the bottom line is that people enjoy the food. There are some great suggestions from several of the commentators, however, I do take a bit of offense at the Black Eyed Pea comments, as one of the founder’s is my cousin, his mom being the originator of many recipes, and I’ll tell you, I’ve never, ever, had a bad meal at her house. Yes, restaurants screw up, as we all know, but there’s room for everything here, as we all know. I’m not advocating that we all run to the nearest chain, but even the chains have their day.
I love your work. Enjoy Texas. I hope you get to Salado, or Austin. It’s a beautiful state, full of incredible small towns, and history. Not all of it is dark and tragic. If you get a chance to explore BBQ, I would highly recommend Clem Mikeska’s….
Best to you.
But how much did you tip?
“Bush is not a Texan, the Bush family is from Connecticut. In 1999 he bought the Texas ranch as a political tool to make southerners believe he is one of them and that he is an outdoorsy man’s man type.”
Typical Bush hater…make stuff up to support your hatred.
Yes, he was born in CT, but they moved to Texas when he was a toddler and he was raised in Midland and Houston. He is certainly more of a Texan than anything (and more than many “Texans”!)
Your prejudicial comments are simply B.S. and false.
Sure it was nasty business, but just don’t see the Kennedy assassination as being on a par with Pearl Harbor or 9/11. That said, still an enjoyable post. Wish I were going to be in NYC for your book-signing; would love to put a face with the words. But, hey, considering your identity is such a well-kept secret, I’m betting it’ll show up somewhere on the web!
“Typical Bush hater…make stuff up to support your hatred.
Yes, he was born in CT, but they moved to Texas when he was a toddler and he was raised in Midland and Houston. He is certainly more of a Texan than anything (and more than many “Texans”!)
Your prejudicial comments are simply B.S. and false.”
Wow. Maybe if you had excluded the personal insults we could have a nice little discussion but you have pretty much shown that you’re not interested in that.
I love how you called me typical and prejudiced from reading two sentences. Either you don’t know what prejudice means or you don’t apply the same scrutiny to yourself as you do to others. My thoughts were actually along the lines of “the Bush family is not Texan” and I apologize for misrepresenting myself. The point of my post was that Bush made a calculated political move in order to make himself appear a certain way, and that negativity directed at him should not be directed at Texas as if it was their culture that had produced him and his family.
I had always thought that Texans thought of themselves as hardworking, salt of the earth types but I guess if Bush is a prototypical Texan then all you need is an accent, an ideology which cannot be swayed by fact, and enough family money to do whatever you want. I guess the Kennedy’s are Texans too.
It’s quite funny because this post is being written from a hotel in Dallas. I’m here on business and this is my first time in Texas (actually my first time in the south, except for Florida). Most of the people I’m meeting with are southerners, many are native Texans. Due to the nature of my work, many of them are ex-military, ex-police, pilots, etc. and it truly warmed my heart to hear them bitching about Bush more than I’m used to at home. Whatever prejudicial thoughts I had about Texans were destroyed. I’m beginning to think that Bush might end up being the great uniter, by pissing off so many people that we now all have something in common.
I’m an equal opportunity political hater. I’m not a liberal or a democrat nor am I a conservative or a republican, and I don’t think we’ve had a decent president in a very long time. If you identify with any of those ideologies all it shows is that you’re easily fooled.
So I guess you could call me a typical Bush hater. All that means is that I’m not easily fooled. Fool me once… you know the rest.
What’s interesting about the comments on this blog these days (and for months adn months, maybe years now) it that form a virtual community discussing the little topics Waiter brings up. They are not, in the main, about the quality or nature of the writing. So nearly all the posts above are about Kennedy or the food chains. Kind of obscures how mundane this blog has become. Sorry Waiter. It was good for a while.
What happens after your book, is still my question? It’s a one trick pony you see – you can’t do ‘Waiter Rant 2’. So then what?
What would you like to see here Phil?
ok I think we can all say we are DISAPPOINTED in the overal volume and esp frequency of waiter’s posts BUT to bitch about the quality to me indicates the pettiness of the whiner involved.
The level of writing hasnt changed just less often than we are use to receiving.
You can still vividly see with your mind’s eye the view from the Oswald’s perch. I have been there before when I lived briefly in Dallas (I got out on the first job offer out of town I could find). I had completely forgotten about the Xs in the street until reading Waiter’s observation.
So here is my hope maybe Waiter WILL do a Bourdain’esque future of travel and observation of what he had seen/experienced in his travels. Waiter gets beyond the superficial in way no other writer I have come across.
The fact the readers have focused upon 2 things besides the writing itself is fairly understandable-the Kennedy assassination is one of the defining events in American culture in the last 100 years and everyone has an opinion about how and why it occurred. People discussing restaurant choices while on a vacation on a blog written by a waiter – say it isnt so!
For my part I made my anti-comments for a couple reasons. Waiter’s writing has made it clear he works in nonchain establishments so why on a trip would he go only to chains? It doesnt make any sense given career waiters who do not work in chains tend to be very antichain for a whole host of reasons for sake of brevity I wont get into. And second as a very proud native Texan I want vistors to experience the real Texas of food cooked out of love for the food itself not just food cooked in pursuit of the Gold Almighty Dollar.
And any native Texan will tell you we take our food seriously.
“Wow. Maybe if you had excluded the personal insults we could have a nice little discussion but you have pretty much shown that you’re not interested in that.”
I’m sorry you felt that way. If you re-read your original post, it’s entirely a personal insult of the President. I guess what comes around goes around.
I also think it’s like a lot of the Bush criticisms…pretending that every single person who ever ran for president did not position themselves politically.
And saying that Bush’s only claim to being a texas is an accent is ludicrous. He owned the Texas Rangers and was governor of the state for crying out loud.
So I guess that 1) you have to be born in Texas to be “Texan”, and 2) they have to fit your definition of “Texan” to be one.
I’m not particularly pleased with Bush’s presidency, but I just get sick and tired of the fabricated personal criticism, and yours was especially specious.
I’m starting to think you’re trolling me. With this post I’ve now picked apart two of your posts in detail. If you cherry pick a few unimportant and out of context sentences from this post and only reply to those then I’m not interested in this discussion anymore.
“I’m sorry you felt that way. If you re-read your original post, it’s entirely a personal insult of the President. I guess what comes around goes around.”
We could argue about what is an insult all day (would it be an insult to call Clinton an adulterer?) but it certainly wasn’t an insult aimed at you. If you had responded without the personal insults directed at me I might take you seriously. My knowledge of Bush could very well be wrong, but at least it’s possible for me know something about him. You could not possibly know anything about me. If you had called me uninformed you might have a leg to stand on. And what exactly has come around? As if this discussion has any impact on either of our lives.
“I also think it’s like a lot of the Bush criticisms…pretending that every single person who ever ran for president did not position themselves politically.”
Did you not read my post? I stated very clearly that I don’t like any of our recent presidents. At first you have assumed, without any evidence, that because I criticize Bush I must support some other idiot, and then you completely ignore my statement of the opposite. All presidents have made calculated political moves, although Bush has been particularly egregious.
“And saying that Bush’s only claim to being a texas is an accent is ludicrous. He owned the Texas Rangers and was governor of the state for crying out loud.
So I guess that 1) you have to be born in Texas to be “Texan”, and 2) they have to fit your definition of “Texan” to be one.”
Your words were “He is certainly more of a Texan than anything (and more than many “Texans”!)” and your previous sentence just proves my point. It seems your idea of a true Texan is some one with enough money to buy a sports team and get elected governor. As I said, my impression has always been that Texans consider themselves hardworking, salt of the earth, pull yourself up by your bootstraps type people. I guess I was wrong.
They don’t have to fit any description, I’m only going on what I thought Texans thought of themselves. When I wrote my original post I was referring to the fact that his family is not an old Texas family and he’s not some cowboy who spent his youth wrangling cattle on a ranch. There’s nothing wrong with that, except he has gone out of his way to make himself appear as such. Just out of curiosity, when you said Bush was more Texan that others, what did YOU mean?
“I’m not particularly pleased with Bush’s presidency, but I just get sick and tired of the fabricated personal criticism, and yours was especially specious.”
A few paragraphs ago you essentially admitted that it was a political move by saying others have done the same. What exactly was fabricated? If we’re arguing over the semantics of the word ‘Texan’ then I admit I was not clear as to what I meant, but everything is pretty much fact. He tries to make people think he’s some old cowboy.
Look, this discussion really doesn’t have much to do with Bush. Either one of us could be wrong about any facts we state. My point is that you don’t know how to argue and you hung yourself as soon as you opened your mouth. If you’re arguing that some one is a bad person then it’s perfectly fine to insult them. When you can’t make the argument without insulting the person with whom you’re arguing with you’ve lost. And on top of that you’ve accused me other things for which you no evidence, not just possibly wrong evidence.
As a current Dallasite I would also discourage from Landry’s…much better food here. Don’t worry though, we totally won’t hold it against you and we are glad to have you in Dallas!
I did a ‘tour’in a 1961 convertible Lincoln Continental limousine that took the JFK route from the airport all the way to the hospital. A recording was played that had audio takes from reporters, police radios, etc on that day.
It was quite eery… when they slowed the car to the speed of the motorcade, as it started past the Depository. Suddenly, shots & screams blasted through the speakers, as we drove over that simple yet dreaded X. Just about the time your heard the shots, the driver slammed his foot on the gas petal. As a hard wind rushed through your hair, distressed voices and sirens filled the air. The chaos, shock and fear was palpable as we rode to Parkland Hospital a mere minutes away.
So much changed for this country in those seconds/minutes. They call that period “the loss of innocence” and I believe it… one gun man or not.
Hope you make it back to TX… come to Austin!!
i dont know about landrys but there was this tex-mex restaurant in nearby irving that i got so addicted i almost had to move to texas
i was also at that window and i wouldnt doubt we dont know the whole truth yet – the window doesnt even directly face in the direction of the shot required – and the kennedys, the old man was a bootlegger, the president was screwing a chicago capos gumada, sinatra was pissed he delivered votes then got dissed
and bobby was especially public in congressional hearings in embarrasing subpoened mobsters (particularly harrasing them when they pleaded the fifth (and i dont mean the symphony))- so all had dangerous mob encounters
i was also surprised in the difference between the communities of ft worth (real cowboys) and dallas (real stepford wives)
Yes. its a very daunting site. I lived in Dallas for a long time. I drove the exact route Kennedy took MANY times. Still gets me.
I think Lyndon J. had something to do with it and no one can tell me differently. 😉
Will people never tire of bashing Texas? It’s a huge state. There’s stuff to hate and stuff to love.
Someone suggested Deep Ellum Cafe. That’s long gone. Someone else mentioned La Duni. It rocks.
Also, try Veracruz in Oak Cliff. Teppo on Greenville Ave. is great for sushi.
The bagging on you for hitting chains is 100% justified, and that’s not just for Dallas; that’s ANYWHERE you go. Always go for local, dude. What’s wrong with you??
Joe T. Garcia’s is over-rated. Chuy’s has the bext Tex Mex.
Also: drinking and driving is lame and dangerous, and you sure as hell don’t want to end up in the Dallas jail. People die in there.
Yeah…I’ve been to the book depository, too. After we visited we ate at Jack Ruby Tuesday’s nearby. They’ve got some good sandwiches there.
You never mentioned Reader’s Digest. Congrats!
Hope you sell lots of books, but keep on blogging.
From Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by The Waiter (Ecco/HarperCollins, $24.95)
I’m a transplanted Texan and you are making me absolutely homesick. Eat Mexican food. At Chuy’s! Lord I’m jealous…
I like to travel and enjoy nothing more than seeing the actual site where something famous and/or important took place.
Like that corn field in Antietam, Maryland, where facing lines of Union and Confederate soldiers slaughtered one another at point blank range. (Bloodiest day in American history.) I’d read about it but to see how close they really were is something else.
But nothing hits you harder than a visit to Dachau or Auschwitz. I’ve seen the Holocaust Museum in Washington but it doesn’t have a fraction of the impact of the actual camps. (And Dachau wasn’t an extermination camp so much as a horrible, horrible prison.) The Germans preserved everything and it looks today much as it looked then, with pretty much everything original and authentic.
Interesting that I never went to Dealey Plaza, even though living near Dallas at the time of the assassination. I always hated Dallas for killing my president and tried to avoid going there for that reason. (I remember my mother crying as the announcer cut into the show I was watching with the news.)
And, yeah, Lee Harvey acted alone. The fact that we have gaps and apparent contradictions in our understanding of how he shot JFK and why he did it doesn’t make for a conspiracy.
As a long time Dallas resident (although English by birth), I can tell you that the authentic Dallas food experience IS chain restaurant & fried – they all either start here, or get here as fast as their cholestoral-laden arteries can bring them. Dallas has more churches and more restaurants per capita than anywhere else, including NYC. Eatin’ and prayin’ – that’s the texas way!
But I agree that Joe T’s should not be missed – and neither should Stephan Pyles Restaurant (that’s it’s name) http://www.stephanpyles.com/menu-dinner.asp. the Bone-In Cowboy Rib Eye will kill ya, but you’ll die happy.
I was in 7th grade science class in Detroit when the principal made the announcement over the PA. Dallas did not kill your President. (My aunt and her family lived there and still do. None of them have been implicated in the crime.) Lee Oswald and/or the CIA/Mafia/military-industrial complex/Soviets/someone else did. Dad bought a new ’63 Ford in the spring of ’64 to drive on our semi-annual vacation to visit relatives in Arkansas, OKC, Houston and Dallas. Of course, we went downtown to Dealey Plaza. There was no memorial/museum; the investigation was not yet complete, but our Uncle was the local expert who pointed out the pertinent sites (the 6th floor window, the grassy knoll, the bullet scars in the pavement). I have been back there twice, and tend to believe in one (or another) of the conspiracy theories. I too have been to Antietam, Gettysburg, Manassas, Shiloh and yes, Dachau. On the Civil War battlefields I felt I was on hallowed ground, but at Dachau I sensed Evil. And what’s wrong with enjoying a meal at chain restaurant, anyway?
In the United States, we have a little concept called “Innocent until proven guilty.” Lee Harvey Oswald was never found guilty and regardless of the likelihood that he did (or didn’t) shoot JFK, he’s innocent of the crime.
Saw a report on the Discovery Channel’s website about how they are using blood splatter and simulated human skulls to solve where the shooter was.
lol – lana is anal backwards
If Oswald was innocent, how do you explain the defiant clenched fist salute while he was being escorted through the corridor? Is that the most effective method for proclaiming one’s innocence?
Why did he leave his wedding ring behind that day?
Whatever became of his curtain rods?
And why was he in such a big hurry to go see a movie instead of returning to Irving like he did every Friday afternoon?
Wake up and get a clue.
FLAT OUT HORSE SHIT. I spent a good bit of time as a USMC sniper. Oswald was trained to make that shot..20 meter elevation. 47 yard distance. Moving target(no more than 10MPH) with a bolt action rifle. I have taken this shot dozens of times on the alley range. Oswald worked at the building,and had all the time he liked to hide the rifle. this is known as a 0 moa shot.(1inch=100 yards,2inch=200 yards-no distance is a clear shot with open sights,and an elevated position, no known wind,and a clear day)I could have pulled this shot on soma. anyone who says there was not enough time has never spent time on a KD range working the action of a bolt action rifle until it was smooth and linear,almost an extension of yourself. Oswald did. Think they handed him an m16 in 1956? nope. You learned How to shoot. and thats that.