Common Grounds

Waco, Texas

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Common Grounds Waco 08

i lost my notes. i know i took some, but it was so hot, and i kept on my long sleeve shirt and soft hat, that the purple runnels of text on my 89c spiral notepad that i thought were from a rain or spilled drink accident might actually be my sweat-redacted jots from the patio-cum-theater backyard of common grounds. i do still have the pictures, and my laser intentions of forcing myself to down a styrofoam cup of black-joe in the 90 degree east-central texas heat just to be able to write about it here would have been foolishly entered into if i didnt have a somewhat articulate memory of places (less so of people), knowing that i also cant save pocket-sized notebooks worth a darn.

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“im thinking of stopping in waco on the drive (from austin to dfw.)” “waco is just a blip on the map.” i guess in reality whomever said that was right, but in a drive that bleak, a blip looks like an oasis, and indeed the flowing streams and heat-bedraggled college kids seemed like a sunken city beneath the highway that the relentless east-central texas landscape just continued to flatten over, although i can only speak about the air-conditioned endless shanty world that was common grounds and the crick-walk on the baylor campus, which, although hot as woolly balls, were all dappled in shade tree shadow and the silence created by heat slowed voices and exhaustion.

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someone had told me that baylor university was in waco, and it turned out that common grounds was practically on its campus. the entire sprawling establishment was filled with college kids. the one note i remember having written down was “is baylor a girls’ school?” 95% of the kids in there were young ladies, all with their laptops, ipods, and accouterments spread across tables throughout the interior where nary a seat was vacant in the enfilade of rooms and side parlours where muted light padded like the flickers of late stage heat stroke. there were a few anxious guys standing around, but i assumed they were suitors or townies.

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i took my cup out to the patio and sat with my forearms on a vinyl counter overlooking a big fred-sanford-decorated gravel yard with a stage presided over by the unmistakably unnameable roof typology of a pizza hut. there were platforms with seating on them that i can only assume became, after-hours, some lukewarm christian hybrid of hee-haw and club mtv. flyers for a solo show by some young beau-hunk stating that he was ‘still single’ further fueled my perception that this place was a seething amazonia, and as i watched girls sleeping and lounging and propped up on their elbows or with their feet on tables, all in small groups a fire was lit, like the wink of an arsonist, when a pop-collared, capri-bepant’d, frat-mopped goon strolled across the patio, through a wooden gate, carrying a puppy. he could not have had a more smug and self-aware look than if he was the last man on earth and responsible for propagating the species with a village of young ladies. shrieks and sighs and coos rose up from all around the patio as i watched in straight-lipped contempt all of the girls rush to this tool like iron filings in a junior high magnetism experiment, knowing not what they did, but knowing that the magnet controlled them, and that his magnetism was as easily procured as rubbing against another stronger magnet, or in this case, by brandishing a puppy at a fucking slumber party. not that i was concerned that i had caused no commotion myself, but the gang bang quickly grew irritating after the quiet studious and languid peace of my first twenty minutes in waco.

Common Grounds Waco 04

on my way back through the joint, foreseeing the immediate diuretic effects of the beverage in the heat, i stopped in the can, and knowing thos’s affinity for the cans of the world, took a photo of the watchful glowing owl that lit the dark room like the inverse of the white world and black moments in the blinding daylight of waco.

Common Grounds Waco 05

and into the bleak sun that swooped me back slightly into the texas sky i walked onto the baylor campus, and still unsure of its gender affiliation, feeling like an awkward wolf sure to be caught leaning against a henhouse, i chose a low road along a concrete creek or spillway that had a meandering sculptural promenade. a bell tolled in the distance. at the end of the promenade a steep stair led back up to a parking lot where i could see, from below, a net or enclosure that looked like it might have been an aviary. hoping to perhaps see a real owl i climbed the stair where a group of children out of their strollers were milling around.

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after they were quickly dispersed by the arrival of a large bee, i was able to see through a thick window in a phony rock wall what they were looking at. two living bears were wrestling in a phony rock cave just on the other side of the window. i watched for quite a while, for some reason not wondering why there would be bears in a pen on a girls’ college campus. as the children returned i got my head out of the window and read a placard describing the bears’ origins, or at least the origin of the rationale for the bears. apparently the bear is the mascot of baylors’ slow-pitch softball team or their volleyball team.

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luckily, all my questions were answered, especially the burning one that came to mind as soon as i saw their brown fur and snouts in the shade, “do they still drink dr. pepper?” of course, the only two things us highway bullets think when we see the signs for waco are ‘branch davidians’ and ‘dr pepper,’ and why wouldnt it stand to reason that a waconian bear would drink dr pepper. unfortunately, they have stopped forcing them to drink the questionable elixir, much to the locals disappointment it sounds like, and i can only assume that the net spread over the top of the enclosure was to keep rowdy baylor boy-toys from throwing two-liter bottles of dr k or something over the fence to watch the bears lose their cool. the sign didn’t address the branch davidians; i can only assume they still allow the bears to eat them.


did i mention how fucking bleak it was out there?

Common Grounds Waco 09

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Common Grounds

1123 S 8th St
Waco, Texas 76706

One Response to “Common Grounds”

  1. haha

    I think Baylor is 60% rich daddy’s girls..
    And a sizable portion of the remainder of guys are nice douchebags or gay.

    Yes, there really are a number of gay guys there…lol.

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