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Wrapping up the Western Conference travelogue

We finish the trip out west in A Beat Grunt’s Guide To The NBA Galaxy; if there are changes you want to see to the East that we’ll run through next week, let me know.

And while you’re at askdoug@thestar.ca please, in the name of all that’s good in the world, drop some stuff for the weekend mailbag, we’re headed for an historically short one if you don’t.



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I once was at an exhibition game in the old Reunion Arena where fans on the baseline started chanting “We want Pee” or “We Want P” and Butch put Percy Miller in the game and no matter what happens, that’s my best Dallas story.


This shouldn’t serve just those Of A Certain Vintage because kids need to learn about history and if you can see it, all the better. Way back in the day, The Mighty Quinn and I were sharing a road trip (Mother Star had oodles of cash, I suppose) and the walk through the Texas Schoolbook Depository and through Dealey Plaza was quite moving. It hadn’t changed an awful lot since that fateful 1963 day and you should see it.

The rest

The thing about Dallas is that it’s freaking huge and while I am sure there are several pockets of nice neighbourhoods, I’m not familiar with a lot of them. There’s not a ton around the arena, although the plaza area that’s being built up in front looks to have some good spots.

I haven’t done the big hunk of red meat in Dallas or even much Texas barbecue but I recall a joint from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives called the Twisted Root that I went to once.  Dirt cheap and really good food.

The old West End Pub was outstanding but my buddy Sefko got it closed somehow.


If Dallas is freaking huge, Houston is effing ginormous and there’s about four downtowns and the ride from the airport takes forever. There are a billion freeways and highways and if you get to one part of town, it’s barely worth it to investigate another.

And, sadly, the arena – one of the most under-rated in the league – doesn’t have a lot around it.


I know there is some and someone will point it out but if someone asked me, “what’s the ONE THING I need to see if I’m in Houston, I’m not sure I could give an answer.” It may have to do with my limited time there but I honestly right now can’t think of one.

The rest

As I said, the arena area isn’t chock full of joints I’d send you, too. Yao Ming used to have a joint there but it didn’t last too long. The Galleria area, where we’ve stayed a handful of times, is very cool and there’s a Tex-Mex place – Pappasito’s – that you HAVE to find. It’s outstanding.

I can, around the arena, recommend the lobby bars at the JW Marriott and the Hilton and there’s a good sports bar a block up the road and across the street from the JW where Gumby and I once watched a Canadian soccer game for some odd reason. Springbok it’s called, I think.

What’s Memphis got?

Memphis has music.


I’ve never been to Graceland but enough people have convinced me it’s worth it so I will try to get there. But if you find yourself in Memphis and don’t go to the Civil Rights Museum, you’ve cheated yourself and your travelling companions.

The rest

Everyone’s heard of Rendezvous and it’s okay but the barbecue isn’t cooked over wood so there’s that. And since my time is mainly spent in the Beale Street area, I’d say Blues City Café right at the top across from BB King’s is good (have the catfish) and there’s an upscale place called Flight on Jefferson, I believe it is, that’s outstanding.

Now, music? That’s where you can’t miss. Always stop by the Rum Boogie Café’s Juke Joint (the small room nearer the top of Beale) because you never know how good the three-person combo might be.

San Antonio

I like San Antonio a lot, even if it is like 40 C every time we go there for the NBA Finals and the arena – the AT&T Center! – has the worst wireless in the history of wireless. But seeing where it is on the schedule is one of first “looks” when it comes out.


You’ve got to go to the Alamo but, be warned, it’s a about 10 times smaller than you think and that’s only if you think it’s crazy small. But it’s history and it’s important and it’s smack-dab near the Riverwalk and you need to go there.

The rest

Now, the Riverwalk is the hub and you’ll be there. The favourite joint of the travelling party is Casa Rio, good food, better prices, and if you were to find yourself in Durty Nelly’s a few doors down, where you sing along with pianist and throw your peanut shells on the floor, you might find, say, Jack and I and a handful of others.

But I can’t stress enough that the Quarry Market is quieter, away from the fray, food anywhere is good and it’s a nice night out.

And if you want to stay somewhere downtown, stay the Marriott Plaza, little three- or four-story hotel a short walk from everything where they have real flamingoes wandering the grounds. Tres cool.

New Orleans

A truly fascinating city for all kinds of reasons. The people, the history, the vibe are all unique. Bourbon Street is too much for me – maybe a walk up once a trip – but for watching inebriated people, there’s nothing like it.


Well, you can walk for hours and run into gorgeous, odd architecture, if you tour the Ninth Ward you can get a feeling for Katrina’s devastation. See a cemetery – the crypts are above ground because of the water level and while you’re walking around, see St. Louis Cathedral, it’s quite spectacular.

The rest

There’s almost too much. Sure, Bourbon Street has to be seen and beignets at Café du Monde are a must and Commander’s Palace is the tourist place to eat. But wander up to the top of Bourbon, the music on Frenchman is better, LaFitte’s is a centuries old bar you have stop at and if you can get a seat at the Preservation Jazz Hall show, take it. Fast.

Okay, that wraps up the Western Conference; we’ll move East for Monday-Wednesday-Friday next week and I think I should get back into fighting trim and do the usual far on Tuesday-Thursday since the season and the workload are coming.
Whaddya think?

All right, do mail, I’m going to coast for another day and have a good weekend.