For a while now, I’ve been following a local Twitter account called TheMap.io. I’m not smart enough to get the reference, but the bio reads: “Cities, Data, Mapping, Urbanism, Transit. And fashion!!!!!!” Pretty much describes me.
Anyway, the guy behind the account revealed himself to me today when he linked to something he’d written on Medium. I invite you to read this essay by Robert Mundinger, the title of which I stole for this post: “Is DISD a Better School District Than Highland Park?” You think that’s a ludicrous question? As Mundinger (God, I hope he’s married to a woman named Mandy) points out:
“Most people see a good ‘school’ as a school with a bunch of high achieving kids. But this is a bit like judging the quality of the food in a restaurant based on who’s eating it.”
Take a few minutes to read the whole thing — especially if you happen to work at Amazon.
Mayor Rawlings Announces New Goals for Dallas. During his State of the City address yesterday, he said he has to a goal to, well, come up with new goals. He wants to implement a major strategic plan, Goals for Dallas 2030, to cultivate strategies for things like infrastructure, technology, housing, and education. Rawlings said it’s finally the right time to tackle the big picture. “Hopefully, it’s not my plan. It’s the city of Dallas’ plan, because if it’s the mayor’s plan, it will be thrown in the dustbin,” he said.
More Theaters Cut Ties With Lee Trull. After the DTC fired Trull, their director of new play development, for inappropriate behavior, other theaters he’s worked with are following suit. Stage West canceled Trull’s plans to direct a regional premiere in March. Kitchen Dog Theater cut ties with him. Playwright Kate Hamill and composer Shawn Magill ceased work on the musical adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea they were developing with DTC and Trull. Second Thought Theatre retracted the offer for Trull to direct Hillary and Clinton in January. I have a feeling the list will keep growing.
Sherin Mathews’ Parents Can’t Contact Surviving Daughter. A Dallas judge blocked them from contacting their surviving 3-year-old. Child Protective Services doesn’t have to help them work to regain custody. Both Wesley and Sini Mathews still face criminal charges regarding Sherin’s case. A civil trial sometime in early 2018 will determine whether they will regain their parental rights. Their surviving daughter has been temporarily placed with relatives.
SMU Hunt Leadership Scholars Program Receives $15 Million. The Nancy Ann Hunt Foundation gave SMU the money to help support Hunt scholars. There are 20 scholars selected every year, and they receive annual financial aid that comes close to a full ride. The scholarship has aided 372 students to date.
Sherin Mathews’ Doctor Had Told CPS of Abuse. A Dallas doctor who examined the 3-year-old in March found several bone fractures. She reported this to CPS because she was concerned that Sherin’s parents might have been abusing her. The doctor’s testimony was heard yesterday at a court hearing to determine if the parents will be able to reunite with their other child, who’s also a 3-year-old girl. They’re still in jail and face criminal charges related to Sherin’s death. It’s even more tragic if this could all have been prevented.
English is No Longer the Official Language of Farmers Branch. City council members voted to repeal an ordinance that made the city’s official language English. The ordinance had also prohibited the use of other languages for city documents, meetings, and the like. “We hope this new chapter in our community’s history will help further promote an inclusive environment, not only among our residents, but anyone looking to live, work, or play in Farmers Branch,” said Ana Reyes, the council’s first Hispanic member.
T. Boone Pickens Wants to Sell You His Ranch for $250 Million. The 89-year-old Dallas businessman and oil tycoon is selling his 65,000-acre Mesa Vista Ranch for a mere $250 million. It’s got man-made lakes, tennis and golf courses, a movie theater—oh, and a two-story pub. Time to get the checkbook out.
If you’re familiar with the Longreads platform, you know they mostly aggregate great stories. But they also commission original work. This is an example that deserves your time. Author Shawn Shinneman (a name so alliterative that I feel compelled to profile him) does a great job with a topic that, sadly, is too familiar. His story is about a wrongfully convicted man who now lives in Duncanville. Save it. Give it a read when you can.
From 1960 to 1977, WFAA shot its news footage on 16 mm film. Unlike much of the video the TV news affiliate has subsequently used to record Dallas news, that 16 mm film was never deleted, corrupted, or recorded over. Instead, it sat in storage for years until it was recently donated to SMU’s G. William Jones Film and Video Collection. The university library has since undergone the painstaking effort of identifying, cataloging, and digitizing 17 years of images of Dallas’ history.
This evening, on VideoFest and KERA’s Frame of Mind program, you can see some of that footage. As part of the show’s 25th anniversary season, Frame of Mind producer and VideoFest director Bart Weiss handed over access of the WFAA footage — all 1.3 terabytes of it — to 10 area filmmakers, who have each taken the fragments of history and reconstructed it into 10 new short films.
The results aren’t so much historical documents as they are interpretations and conversations with the past, as well as considerations of the way that film captures, preserves, and distorts the historical record. In fact, most of the filmmakers choose to focus on footage and themes that resonate with our current moment — race, policing, violence, equality, sexism — exploring how some of these themes percolate through the historic footage.
Perhaps what is most interesting about all of the films is the way the disconnect between the filmmakers’ individual visions and the perspective or original intent of the WFAA footage reveals latent attitudes and cultural assumptions. For example, parts of Carmen Menza’s “Beyond 10” focus not on the newsworthy footage, but on the cameramen’s lapses — moments in which the camera strays from the assignment to zoom in and leer at the bodies of young women in crowds. Similarly, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts student Madison McMakin montages footage to juxtapose the way men and women are frequently portrayed, showing men in positions of power and authority, while women often appear confined to beauty pageants or domestic spaces.
In other pieces, images of young men in Confederate uniforms; Western film trailers; crime scenes; fires; and interviews with police, politicians, businessmen, and activists re-contextualize the once-news in a way that reveals unconscious perspectives about race, gender, power, business, and politics. The Dallas of the 1960s and 1970s can appear in these films as a somewhat alien place. However, reading between the lines — or between the frames, so to speak — it becomes clear that much of Dallas today is still rooted in the lost historical city captured by WFAA’s cameramen.
The strongest films in the series take a departure from the footage as mere historical artifact. Christian Vasquez uses the film to stitch together a fictional account of a woman named Jane X, conflating document and fantasy to tell the story of a bandit on the run who leaves in her trail a litany of real-life images of death and destruction. Michael Alexander Morris’ inspired, surrealistic apocalyptic parable finds in the WFAA footage images of a calf running down a Dallas highway, a shotgun-wielding grandma, reports on mysterious monsters lurking near Lake Worth, a crashed doughnut truck, and clips of George H.W. Bush, whose voice Morris has manipulated so that it sounds like a backward tape loop similar to the dwarf in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.
The film’s ambiguity works on multiple levels, registering the paranoia and fear that seems to be the common emotional denominator that links the late-1960s and the present day, as well as, perhaps, the common, underlying tone that defines the way the news captures and tells the stories of all times.
Where to watch it: Frame of Mind airs on KERA November 16 at 10:30 p.m.
Frequentpodcast guest and legendary newscaster Dan Rather invites another transplanted North Texan on his Big Interview show this evening: Steve Miller. The show has released a couple of preview clips, and they tease plenty of Dallas-related anecdotes to come in the full interview.
In this one, Miller talks about how his hit “Space Cowboy” derives (sort of) from his time punching bullies at St. Marks. In the video below, Miller talks about how he hustled his first gigs when he was in middle school by cold-calling Dallas fraternity houses and country clubs.
“There weren’t any rock and roll bands [in Dallas],” Miller says. “It was 1956. I had the whole year booked in three weeks. . . . That band played every Friday and Saturday night for the next five years.”
Some time after Jack Ruby was convicted of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald, the former nightclub owner wrote a 24-page manuscript detailing the hours before he pulled the trigger in the basement of Dallas police headquarters. Without spoiling anything, so much of modern American history hinges on “real healthy” sandwiches.
Said manuscript goes up for auction online this evening at 6 p.m., via R&R Auction Company. (You can read a good portion of the manuscript itself via that link.) It’s estimated to go for up to $12,000, so get your bids in soon.
The timing of this auction is probably not coincidental. The JFK assassination has been in the news of late with the release of previously withheld files from U.S. intelligence agencies’ investigation of the events of Nov. 22, 1963. There’s nothing exceptionally earth-shattering in any of the documents. What new information there is will only continue to fuel the mystery and conspiratorial debate surrounding what happened in Dallas that fall.
Execution Date Set for John Battaglia. The man who shot his two daughters in his Deep Ellum loft in 2001 as their mother listened on the phone will be executed February 1 in Huntsville. Battaglia was first scheduled for execution in March of last year but was granted a stay to appeal his sentence. The date was then moved to December 2016, but he was granted another stay to evaluate his competency, which was eventually confirmed.
Houston Astros Win First World Series Ever. They secured a 5-1 victory in game seven over the Dodgers in Los Angeles last night. Former Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish didn’t look so good pitching for L.A. He lasted less than two innings and allowed all five runs. The other Dodgers pitching ace, Highland Park’s Clayton Kershaw, threw four scoreless innings, but it wasn’t enough for a comeback. Congrats, Houston!
Garland Task Force Created to Battle Gang Activity. Recently, Garland has seen an increase in gang activity, whether fights or criminal mischief. To focus on it, Garland police have formed a task force, which could lead to a permanent police gang unit. Overall crime in Garland, however, is down compared to last year.
Record-Breaking Heat Today. The high will be 91 or 92, depending on your source. Temps have never gotten up to 90 degrees in November in D-FW since records started more than a century ago. I really thought Dallas summer was behind us at this point. Sigh.
Don Huffines gets a tip of the cap, certainly. He is the state senator who pushed to get a measure on the November 7 ballot that will allow voters to kill Dallas County Schools. If you don’t know what DCS is, read this piece by Jim Schutze. To sum up, though, DCS isn’t a school district. It’s a transportation agency that provides bus service to area districts, the largest of which is Dallas ISD. And it’s a horrible transportation agency. It charges way too much, it crashes buses way too often, and its management for many years struck all sorts of questionable deals that appear to have enriched itself.
So, yes, Senator Huffines. Without him, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to stab this thing in the heart. But the knife was given to us by NBC 5. Reporter Scott Friedman and producer Eva Parks took a couple nibbles at this story way back in 2013, but they really sank their teeth into it a little over a year ago. (And, no, I am not mixing metaphors. These two are real watchdogs. Watchdogs who carry knives that they supply to citizens when needed.) You can see the whole repository of their reporting here.
When you vote against DCS on Tuesday, remember their names.
Director Anna Zetchus Smith today released a 75-minute documentary about Barrett Brown. Its full title is Accidental Warrior: the Life and Time of Barrett Brown. An opening sequence lays out the doc’s goal this way:
In early 2011 Aaron Barr, then the CEO of private internet security company HBGary Federal, claimed to have uncovered the “top leadership of Anonymous” in the hopes of receiving prestige and bigger contracts.
Members of Anonymous mocked him by hacking the company, which, among other things, resulted in the release of 70,000 internal emails, emails that revealed how these types of companies, unwatched, interact with government to build the surveillance state.
It would take an entire film to explain all of those details, and this is not that film. This film is about what happened to the journalist who did try to explain it.
It’s an interesting flick, featuring, without voiceover narration, interviews with Nikki Loehr, Barrett’s onetime girlfriend; Caleb Pritchard, a childhood friend; John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower; Marlo Cadeddu, one of Barrett’s lawyers; Kevin Gallagher, who helped raise money for Barrett’s legal defense fund; Gregg Housh, an early Anonymous participant; and me. Anna interviewed me in the D Magazine office the day Barrett was sentenced. If I’d known she was going to use that much of our discussion, I would have insisted on hair and makeup.
It’s a date that changed Dallas forever: November 22, 1963. And yet more than 50 years later, there is still confusion clouding exactly what happened when President John F. Kennedy took his ill-fated trip though Dealey Plaza. Today, tens of thousands of previously classified records related to the assassination will become public record. The question everyone wants to know: what’s left to find? If 54 years of official and unofficial investigations, countless books, and so many movies have failed to settle the details on the events that came together on that day to rewrite the course of history with the punctuation of a single bullet, what will?
After all, 90 percent of the files related to the assassination are already public. The remaining 30,000 to 40,000 pages of documents that have been secret (and will now be opened) have already been reviewed by the Assassination Records Review Board in the nineties. Most were classified as “Not Believed Relevant.” But of course, with a conspiracy as thick as the JFK assassination, who’s going to take some official government review board’s word for it?
Not Roger Stone, the political consultant, bestselling author on the Kennedy assassination, and apparent confidant of President Trump, who has been reportedly pushing the president to release documents that were already set to be released. Stone told Infowars’ Alex Jones, a man who could turn brushing your teeth into a conspiracy, that CIA director Mike Pompeo pushed the president to postpone the release and that he, nevertheless, prevailed in convincing Trump to get all the documents out in the open. Which is all worth bringing up if only to frame one of the JFK assassination’s lasting gifts to the United States: the slow, 50-year-long erosion of public trust in the institutions that govern us, which has finally bloomed into an atmosphere in which the holder of the highest office in the land lies to the public without remorse, credible journalism is castigated as fake news, and truth isn’t to be believed until it is framed as a conspiracy.
But the documents. What’s in the documents? And more specifically, will there be anything in the documents that reveals more about Oswald’s life and behavior in Dallas, as well as the extent to which Dallas officials and federal or foreign agents working in Dallas were aware of Oswald – or even, perhaps, encouraging him?
Well, maybe so.
For JFK experts, the big subject of intrigue surrounding the new documents is that some of them contain details of a trip Lee Harvey Oswald took to Mexico City just a few weeks before the assassination. What was he doing in Mexico City? Meeting with agents from Cuba? Russia? The CIA? Did any of them follow him to Dallas? Were they in contact with him while he was in Dallas? While most of the credible evidence around the assassination points to Oswald as a lone gunman, there is still an open possibility that he either acted on behalf of some other entity, or was actively encouraged by some other group.
It’s the latter possibility that, given all we know about Oswald’s character, strikes me as the most plausible – that in Mexico City someone associated with Cuban or Russian espionage heard Oswald ranting about killing Kennedy and told him, “Yeah, sure, go kill Kennedy, we’d be keen on that, comrade.” And then, on the morning of November 23, when they opened their newspapers and read that the main suspect in JFK’s murder was the same loon from Dallas, they spit out their coffee.
But then, there may be information about another conspiracy revealed in these new documents. In the Guardian, Philip Shenon writes that the real JFK conspiracy wasn’t a cover-up of a plot to kill the president, but rather the conspiracy was the cover-up of the incompetence of organizations like the CIA and FBI, which were tasked with protecting against such a plot:
I’m referring to the well-documented, proven conspiracy within the highest reaches of the US government – a criminal conspiracy from the start, involving the destruction of top-secret documents and photographs, the silencing of witnesses and whistleblowers, and the wholesale suborning of perjury – to cover up the truth about what the government had known in advance about Oswald and the clear threat he had posed to one man: President Kennedy.
This isn’t really news. In a 2014 internal report, a CIA historian acknowledged that the agency did hide evidence from the Warren Commission:
The cover-up was intended to keep investigators focused exclusively on evidence that proved “what the Agency believed at the time was the ‘best truth’ – that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone in killing Kennedy”.
That Orwellian line — “best truth” — should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
These allegations don’t change the facts surrounding who killed JFK, but they do point to what is, perhaps, a more frightening truth that rose to the surface on that November day in Dallas. By the time of the assassination, a kind of pervading sickness had already begun to take hold of the institutions of the American government: the swelling in power of semi-self-governing bodies operating within the federal government but possessing their own agendas, unchecked by the system of democratic power established by the U.S. Constitution. These forces would play an active role in the coming decade and in shaping the kind of nation the United States has become.
Perhaps the only real conspiracy concerning the JFK assassination simply amounts to the fact that the CIA and FBI worked to cover up their own incompetence in an effort to maintain their own credibility and political confidence – and thereby maintain their power. The irony is that in their efforts to hide the fact that there was no deep governmental conspiracy at work to kill Kennedy, these agencies were the midwives to the birth of conspiracy culture.
In a way, the conspiracy theorists have been right all along. The government was up to funny business, only it wasn’t the funny business they suspected. Not only were these agents incapable of pulling off some of the more elaborate schemes proposed over the years to explain the assassination, they couldn’t even keep tabs on a crackpot loner in Oak Cliff who told everyone he was going to kill Kennedy.
And then he did.
Somehow, that incompetence is more unsettling. But it goes deeper than that. If you have followed Barrett Brown’s writing about the prison system over the last few years, then you will know that this kind of incompetence present within powerful, self-governing institutions emboldens a brand of bureaucratic inertia and corruption that can quickly erode away the very ideals of freedom and individual rights this nation is supposedly founded on.
Now, of course, there may still be some secret truth out there hidden in documents that will not be released today: the documents that were destroyed by these duplicitous government actors. Regardless of what they contained, the absence of those records will ensure that the cottage industry of speculating about just what happened in Dallas all those decades ago will continue well into the future, perpetuating the culture of conspiracy whose grip on the public consciousness has never been stronger, as well as perpetuating this city’s uncomfortable but all-important relationship to that dark day.
Body Confirmed as Missing 3-year-old Sherin Mathews. Police confirmed yesterday that the body they found in a culvert is that of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews. Wesley Mathews’ new story is that Sherin eventually drank her milk in their garage but began to choke, and her breathing slowed. Her father didn’t feel a pulse and believed her to be dead. He confessed to police that he removed her body from the house. Why he didn’t wake his nurse wife, Sini Mathews, is confounding. Autopsy results are pending and will determine Sherin’s cause of death. Wesley Mathews faces up to life in prison.
Dallas Rep Eric Johnson Wants Confederate Plaque Gone. Johnson has been making his case for a long time about removing the plaque with a nod to the Confederacy outside his office at the Texas Capitol. But on Friday, he’ll bring his case to Gov. Greg Abbott. Earlier this week, Johnson filed a formal request with the state to take it down.
4,000 Dallas Jobs Up for Grabs Tomorrow. With the impending holiday rush, about a dozen Dallas-area companies need to hire a lot of people for $15 to $25 per hour. The “You’re Hired! Job Fest” is happening tomorrow afternoon at the Sheraton downtown. Some of these seasonal positions—at companies like UPS, FedEx Ground, and Ashley Furniture—could lead to full-time gigs.
Trump in Dallas Today. He’s here to get $4 million for the GOP and his re-election fund. He’ll be at the Belo Mansion downtown, a few blocks away from the D Mag office. Yay.
On this week’s episode of Real Housewives of Dallas (don’t judge), D’Andra missed Brandi’s All-White Brandi Land (Brandiland?) party because she and her husband were about to embark on their yearly getaway before the holidays. And though we all may not be able to plan a last minute trip to Croatia like D’Andra and Co., we can certainly mimic the concept of a pre-holiday retreat to unplug and unwind — just with the least amount of travel time possible.
Here, we’ve gathered a few options near and far (with “far” being Waco or Canton) that can help you achieve that transported feel without a trip to the airport.
Zeke Elliott Granted Temporary Restraining Order to Play Sunday. The Cowboys’ controversial running back will rejoin practice today at The Star and will play Sunday against San Francisco. A U.S. district judge, filling in for the assigned judge who was on vacation, ordered a temporary restraining order against Elliott’s six-game ban last night. It’s good through October 30 unless another hearing is held first. The assigned judge will make a more permanent decision when she gets back.
The Search for Sherin Mathews Continues in a Field Near Richland College. Police moved the search for 3-year-old Sherin Mathews to a field near Richland College yesterday. It’s less than 2 miles from the Mathews’ home in Richardson where her father put her outside in an alley at 3 a.m. as a punishment. Police said they found “objects of interest” but haven’t elaborated yet.
DISD Superintendent Wants to Close Two Schools and Convert Two to Charters. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the goal in doing this would be to avoid punishment from the state for the schools’ poor performances. He didn’t say which schools he had in mind, but he’ll present his plan to trustees on November 2. If no action is taken, the school board and superintendent could be replaced. “If I take a chance and they don’t make it, something is going to happen in August. We’re not running from the accountability. We have something great we want to replace it with,” Hinojosa said.
Getting Caught with Weed in Dallas Doesn’t Mean You’ll go to Jail Now. Yesterday, Dallas County commissioners passed a “cite and release” program to free up cops to focus on violent crimes. Dallas police can now give a court summons to people found with less than 4 ounces of marijuana. It will go into effect December 1.
The beautiful thing about being a Dallasite is that we give generously. We open our hearts to those in need, hosting hundreds of charity events annually to give to one cause or another.
With this comes one constant, especially for an evening celebration, wine. And often that wine is from California. Though our Texas wines are flourishing, and we love to drink and support our vintners and wineries, Dallas loves California wine. Every bar and restaurant menu in the city lists premium Napa Valley Cabernet and Sonoma Pinot Noir.
In the late night hours of last Sunday, these beloved regions, along with Mendocino, Lake, and Solano Counties, went up in a raging flame of uncontrollable fire, devastating vineyards and wineries, but also the neighborhoods and communities of the people who have made Sonoma and Napa their home.
The fires ravaged the landscapes so fast that residents were barely able to escape, and if they did, it was with the shirt they were wearing and not much else. Some didn’t even have time to put shoes on. Many left everything behind, running for safety as there wasn’t even time to find the car keys.
The fires are still raging. The wine country we love so much will never be the same. Tens of thousands of acres of land have burned, thousands of homes and buildings have been lost, like Signorello Estate Vineyards and White Rock Vineyards in Napa, Paradise Ridge Winery in Sonoma and Frey Vineyards in Mendocino. Darioush, Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap Winery, Robert Sinskey, Nicholson Ranch and others were damaged, but not completely lost.
The homes of many of the people who make these wineries and vineyards run are gone. There is so much destruction. But there is also resilience, as these communities will rise again, they will rebuild, but they will need help.
We have experienced the wrath of Mother Nature’s quite a bit lately. Our state came together to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, helping our neighbors as if they were family. Followed by Irma, Marie, earthquakes in Mexico, and so much more. And we continue to give, we continue to open our hearts with love and kindness for those in need. This is what makes Texas great.
On Tuesday, we published a post about the Dallas Museum of Art and the Dallas Theater Center’s issuance of the phrase “inappropriate behavior” in the recent resignation and firing, respectively, of two high-profile employees. Especially in the case of the DTC, where the employee worked with minors and SMU students, we felt the public was owed more specificity. And we still feel that way. We stand behind the essential point of the post.
But in making that point, we let our passion blind us to a line beneath our feet as we crossed it. We — editors and writer — made an error in judgment in calling out by name the two women who run the PR departments of the DTC and the DMA. We apologize to them and to our readers for doing so. The original post has been altered.
Earlier this month, UT-Arlington philosophy professor Keith Burgess-Jackson posed a question on his blog: “What’s the big deal about a 32-year-old man courting a 14-year-old girl?”
Burgess-Jackson’s take on the age of consent and changing cultural norms—he notes that his grandmother was 15 when she married a 41-year-old man—comes in response to sexual abuse allegations made against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The Nov. 11 blog post seems to have gone mostly unnoticed until this morning, when it was quoted in a Federalist column arguing that Alabama voters should support Moore even if the accusations against him are true.
Here’s Burgess-Jackson’s original post in full:
His frequently updated blog is littered with his thoughts and opinions on politics, dating, sports, and ice cream. Elsewhere, Burgess-Jackson contends that “men use feminism to get sex,” and that philosophy is “a cesspool of political correctness, science worship, hypocrisy, and thuggery.” On Nov. 12, he repeats the long-debunked conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., asking to see his “original birth certificate (not a print-out by the State of Hawaii).” In 2013, in a series critiquing five columns written by women philosophers, he says that “[f]eminism has made women weak, timid, and fearful.”
Burgess-Jackson has been a professor at UTA since 1989. He teaches courses in “Logic, Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Law, and Social and Political Philosophy,” and has tenure, according to his website. He has published or edited several books, including Rape: A Philosophical Investigation, and A Most Detestable Crime: New Philosophical Essays on Rape, a book whose one one-star Amazon review calls Burgess-Jackson a “debased academic megastar.”
The professor has left a long trail online. An old blog by Burgess-Jackson, last updated in 2004, is headed with the title “Anal Philosopher.” In fact, in the internet era before social media took off, Burgess-Jackson seems to have frequently battled with other philosophers with blogs, some of whom took umbrage then at Burgess-Jackson’s deeply conservative politics.
I’ve reached out to Burgess-Jackson and UT-Arlington. I’ll update this post if I hear back.
Update: UT-Arlington sent this statement: “The University of Texas at Arlington is aware of statements made by Associate Professor of Philosophy Keith Burgess-Jackson on his personal blog. These are not the opinions held by the university. We acknowledge a citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression.”
If you follow any Morning News employee on social media, you’ve likely seen shots of them setting up camp at their new office in downtown, next to the refurbished Statler. Maybe, say, a photo of a guy in a vest, hands sassily on hips. I don’t know who you follow. While doing my usual perambulating around the CBD, I passed by the new joint. Pretty cool. Anyway, I’m no architectural or workplace expert, but I do have a few thoughts.
About dog names. Because, as far as I know, DMN editor Mike Wilson still has a dog named Story, and that is still not as bad as Inverted Pyramid or Compelling Narrative Lede or Pulitzer Finalist or whatever, but it is still not a great name for a dog. “Come here, Story!” “Story, sit. Story? Siiiit.” You get it. What about:
On the anniversary of its most infamous historical day, the Texas Theatre has a new state landmark plaque, with new wording that should appease both sticklers for historical accuracy and JFK assassination conspiracy theorists. The theater has been a Texas landmark since 2013, and already had a plaque that noted the Nov. 22, 1963 apprehension of Lee Harvey Oswald “for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”
The Texas Historical Commission, however, recently dropped off a new marker, which has been installed in front of the movie theater and reads as follows (relevant changes bolded):
Constructed in 1931, the Texas Theatre was designed by architect W. Scott Dunne. The “Texas,” the largest suburban theater in Texas when it was built, is an “atmospheric” theater, a genre designed to enhance the fantasy and exoticism of the movies. The two-story building, originally owned by C.R. McHenry, is located at the commercial heart of the community of Oak Cliff. The original appearance of the theater evoked an Italian medieval structure with Venetian influences expressed in the decorative brickwork and stone.
The interior of the theater was designed with a Venetian court theme, complete with sound effects, clouds and a night sky of 118 twinkling stars in the auditorium. The original movie equipment was Motograph Deluxe Sound equipment, an extreme rarity at the time. The cooling and ventilating system was almost entirely invisible to the audience and consisted of two blowers powered by ten horsepower motors. In warm weather, the air was cooled through water. A renovation prior to 1956 resulted in the addition of stucco over the brick and stone facade.
On November 22, 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended in the auditorium, propelling the Texas Theatre into the international spotlight. In April 1965, the theater was remodeled extensively on the exterior and interior. The uppermost section of the facade was removed and the theater’s vibrant designs were sealed under stucco. United Artists closed the theater in 1989. In 1991 it was used in the filming of the movie, “JFK.” In 2001, the Oak Cliff Foundation bought the theater. This Dallas landmark was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Aviation Cinemas reopened the theater in 2010.
The new wording, “following the assassination,” clears up a misconception reinforced by the previous plaque, that Oswald was arrested for Kennedy’s assassination. Really, Oswald was apprehended in connection with the death of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, shot nearby in Oak Cliff just before Oswald ducked into the theater. Oswald was only connected to Kennedy later. This new plaque also indirectly makes the identity of Kennedy’s assassin ambiguous, which should please those conspiracy theorists who insist the truth is still out there, 54 years on.
Today the theater’s playing the same matinee double feature that Lee Harvey Oswald briefly sat in on before his arrest. The films, War Is Hell and Cry of Battle, are unremarkable on their own, but the context sure is compelling. Tonight the theater screens Oliver Stone’s 1991 feature JFK.
Four New Parks May Be Headed to Downtown. After the bond package was approved, Dallas philanthropist Robert Decherd wants to move ahead with the construction of four new downtown parks—Pacific Plaza, Harwood Park, Carpenter Park, and a West End park. He wants them all to be completed within a few years.
Dallas Police Increasing Foot Patrols to Deter Crime. Chief U. Renee Hall’s new crime reduction initiative will send more officers to high-crime areas to talk to residents, carry out warrants, and prevent criminal activity. Overall crime in Dallas is lower than it has been, but business robberies and aggravated assaults have risen lately. The south-central and northwest parts of Dallas are the most affected areas.
Body Found Outside Old East Dallas Home. A killer is at large after the body of 24-year-old Julio Navarete-Leal was found yesterday in the driveway of a home in Old East Dallas. Police say no suspects are in custody and they have yet to determine a motive.
AT&T Outage Reported in Dallas. Last night, AT&T users reported an outage here and in other cities after they realized they couldn’t make or receive calls. AT&T suggested restarting your phone, which might have to be done multiple times. They said “that should resolve the issue,” even though they still don’t know what the issue is.
Zeke Elliott Has Another Hearing Today. There will be yet another court hearing—the fifth one—to determine if he will keep playing or if he’ll finally have to serve his six-game suspension. It’ll be at 1 p.m. and could bring an end to his legal uncertainty.
City Council Approves 107-Year-Old Oak Cliff Home to Become Restaurant. The house was built in 1910 by the former chief justice of Dallas’ 5th Court of Appeals who became mayor of Dallas in 1936. It will be preserved and updated, and renovations will begin in the next 60 days by developer Jim Lake.
Good Works Under 40 Winner Named Today. Five Dallas civic leaders younger than 40 are finalists for the award. The winner will receive a $10,000 donation to a nonprofit of his or her choice, and the other finalists will receive $3,500 for their nonprofits. The finalists are Stephanie Giddens, president of Vickery Trading Company; Lana Harder, pediatric neuropsychologist and CASA volunteer; Dominic Lacy, Deaf Action Center’s first deaf board president; Robert Taylor, director of The Educator Collective; and Elizabeth Viney, an attorney who works pro-bono with Advocates for Community Transformation.
Student Brings Gun to DISD Elementary School. This happened on Tuesday at Highland Meadows Elementary, but adults didn’t know about it until yesterday. Another student who’d seen the gun told a parent, and the student who brought it owned up to it. There’s an ongoing investigation.
We are not as powerful a city as we used to be, and the proof is as close as Colonial Country Club.
Once, about six phone calls would have rounded up sponsors for a pro golf charity benefit to raise $13 million and put Fort Worth on network TV all weekend.
The electronics, retail and energy giants that used to support Fort Worth arts, charities and causes are no longer around. Or they aren’t in any shape to help.
It’s an interesting conundrum for a city that is still growing and will soon break into the top 15 of largest U.S. cities. Kennedy says all that growth, though, is coming from technical and warehouse jobs. “We’re not growing executives,” he writes. “We’re not growing headquarters, or leaders, or decision-makers.”
And yet, every time ESPN comes to town for a big game, they erect their outdoor set in downtown Fort Worth, not Dallas.
I’m standing on a bright, sunny hillside overlooking an expanse of the Carmel Valley with Nick Elliott, whose family owns the 400-acre Holman Ranch located about 13 miles inland from the Pacific coast. In front of us, a sweep of gently rolling hills are topped with little rectangular vineyards, each situated to the advantage of particularities in the local climate – Chardonnay on the east bank receive the brunt of the early morning sun, Pinot Noir on the ridgeline take the cool afternoon breeze from the sea. The entire scene, Elliott explains, is watched over by hawks, owls, and ladybugs introduced on the property as part of an organic pest control regimen.
A moment later we’re back in the truck making our way past a 1920s hacienda that once-sheltered a Charlie Chaplin fleeing the din of early Hollywood, and now hosts weddings for the daughters of Silicon Valley executives. Elliot leads us underground, into a cellar carved out of a hillside, where he uses a wine thief to steal sips of a new cask of chardonnay and tells a story about the surprising success of a recent vintage of Pinot Noir that was tainted by terrible wildfires that had marched up nearly to the vineyard’s property line.
It is a perfect Californian moment, and yet what I can’t shake is the fact that just a couple of hours ago I was in a kayak, navigating the chilly Monterey Bay past pods of bathing sea otters and sunning sea lions. Southern California typically sops up the reputation for sun and surf, while Northern Californian is a well-trodden destination for culinary epicures. But here, in the sometimes-overlooked Central Coast, was the best of both worlds.
WHERE TO STAY
The pastoral Bernardus Lodge and Spa is the prefect vantage point to experience the Monterey Peninsula. Located about 10 miles inland from the coast, the lodge is a luxurious retreat nestled in between the hills of the Carmel Valley. Suites and cabins overlook a putting green and fire pits. A fantastic restaurant and a full-service spa are on the grounds. It’s easy to slip into one of the lodge’s spacious suites, replete with fireplace, and disappear from the world, which makes the spot a popular destination for corporate retreats and honeymoons alike.
If you’re looking for lodging that captures that classic feel of Carmel, then it is difficult to match the class and style of La Playa Carmel. Perhaps the most famous hotel on the peninsula, La Playa Carmel is a hundred-year-old mansion that was converted to a hotel in 1915, and is perfectly situated a quick walk to the beach and the shops of historic Carmel. Lush grounds, historic architecture, a comfortable dining patio, and old world service all contribute to the creaky romantic charm.
Located right in the heart of historic Monterey, the Portola Hotel and Spa offers a comfortable base for exploring some of the more popular tourist attractions on the peninsula, including the Monterey’s famous aquarium and wharf. While the Portola can feel a little too mall-like, the hotel’s location, recent renovations, reconsidered restaurant (Jacks Monterey), and spa make it a wonderful base for exploring the historic port city.
WHAT TO DO
You could easily lose yourself for days in Central California’s world-renowned golf courses, luxuriant spas, and top-notch dining. But to swing through the Central Coast and not get outdoors would be a crime. The area offers a dramatic contrast between mountains and sea, and plenty of opportunities to hike, paddle, sail, and explore one of the most spectacular natural settings in the U.S.
Get on the Water
My girlfriend and I arrived at Adventures by the Sea on a wet Thursday morning and were equipped with weather-appropriate coveralls, life vests, paddles and a kayak and led down to the water’s edge. Operating for more than 25 years, think of Adventures By the Sea as your headquarters for exploring Monterey Bay. The company offers bike, paddle board, and kayak tours and rentals, as well as team building outings for corporate groups. We pushed out into the blue bay, paddled out past a bed of kelp, where sea otters clung to their babies, and headed up the coast towards an outcropping of rocks crammed with sea lions. Sitting there and looking back at the coast, ships heading out of the harbor, the sound of the crowing sea lions breaking the cool morning quiet, is to truly appreciate the way the constant conversation between land and sea shapes the look, feel, and culture of the peninsula.
If you want to get a little more out to sea than what a paddleboard or kayak will take you, Monterey Bay Whale Watch offers cruses that depart twice daily from the Monterey Wharf. Working in consort with local conservation efforts, the cruise travels out into the bay where whale-seekers can spot migratory orcas, grey whales, dolphins, humpback whales, and more. After a particularly active 2017 season, the Monterey whale watch was recently named one of the five best places to see blue whales in the world. And even if you don’t spot a whale, the trip will deepen your appreciation of the bay’s unique aquatic ecosystem. Just be sure to bring medicine for a queasy stomach if you tend to get sea sick.
Historic Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea
The two main towns on the peninsula offer two entirely different experiences. Monterey is a relatively larger, more bustling town. Begin your exploration near the wharf, where you can peruse the working fishing dock and grab a bite at the handful of casual seafood grills that lie within a short walk to the historic center. The Monterey State Historical Park offers free guided walking tours of the Monterey Old Town Historic District, once the capital of Alta California and now a National Historic Landmark. The area boasts some of the oldest structures in the state, including exquisite adobe buildings from the 18th-19th centuries.
About a mile north is historic Cannery Row, a hub of the fishing industry at the turn of the 20th century that has been immortalized by writers like John Steinbeck. Now a tourist district with plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops, the highlight is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest and best in the world, which specializes in education and conservation efforts focused on the diverse aquatic life of the Monterey Bay.
A 15-minute drive down California Route 1, Carmel-By-The-Sea, is offers a decidedly different feel than the bustling Monterey. The town is a cozy mish-mash of distinctive architectural styles – revival Mission, Tudor, and Spanish Romantic, alongside quirky storybook homes from the 1920s and 1930s. Long a haven for artists and creatives, Carmel is now a shopping and dining destination, which boasts plenty of specialty shops and galleries. Don’t miss The Cheese Shop, which carries between 200 to 300 varieties of cheese; Bittner, a specialist in rare and old-fashioned pens from all over the world; and Weston Gallery, which carries prints by Ansel Adams, among other artists. Carmel Beach is one of the area’s pretties – a half-moon of white sand that wraps along the edge of town, and, even in colder weather, is perfect for meditative walks and romantic strolls.
The Carmel Valley and Monterey County have long produced quality grapes, though most have been shipped north for production in Napa Valley. In recent years, however, the region’s wines have been receiving their own attention and acclaim. Thanks to its location in the balance between cool and wet coastal and warmer hilly climates, the area produces a variety of outstanding varietals (particularly Bordeaux, Merlot, and Pinot Noir). While the road through the Carmel Valley is dotted with places to sip local vintages, don’t miss the historic Holman Ranch and its early 20th century hacienda that sits on a sunning strip of hills that run parallel to the coast, offering micro climatic conditions ideal for a variety of quality wines.
Monterey Peninsula is located near some of the most stunning natural scenery on the planet. Big Sur is just a short jaunt down California Route 1, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is one of a handful of entry points, offering trails, camping, and some unparalleled views from the edge of the continent. Be sure to check ahead before visiting, though, since wildfires and landslides have had an impact on some of the Big Sur parks in recent year. Closer to town, Point Lobos State Reserve allows hikers to experience the subline ruggedness of the central California coast. Trails wind through forests and up over the coast. Certified scuba divers can also explore the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, which is one of the richest marine habitats in California.
But after sitting out on the balcony of the Bernardus Lodge for a few days, watching the sunset against the golden peaks of an unfamiliar ridge just on the other side of the road, I was dying to get into the backcountry that lay only a stone’s throw away. Down the road, I found the trailhead at Garland Ranch Regional Park. A handful of trails that range in difficulty and length take you up above the Carmel Valley and offer stunning vistas, inviting canopied forests, and even an ancient Native American site. The best part: after a long hike, cocktail hour lay just on the other side of the road back at Bernardus.
WHERE TO EAT
With the twin influences of sea and wine, and plenty of local agriculture, the Central Coast is an embarrassment of culinary riches. Start with Chef Cal Stamenov’s Lucia Restaurant and Bar, located at Bernardus Hotel and Spa. Stamenov’s menu offers a twist on classic Californian cuisine heavily influenced by locally sourced ingredients – some from the chef’s garden, which sits steps away from the cozy, glassed-in dining room. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with the generous selection of Pacific oysters followed by smoked Sonoma duck breast or the exquisite local artichoke basil ravioli. Locals also swear by the Bernardus burger, however, which is only available at lunch.
For a view that fully embraces the Central Californian experience, it is difficult to top California Market Grill at Pacific Edge, Chef Chad Minton’s cliff-tottering restaurant, which looks out through huge floor to ceiling windows on the ragged Californian coast. As waves crashed over rocks down below, and a fog moved in to cover the redwoods, Minton served an extended multi-course tour of his acclaimed American-French menu, highlighted by grilled octopus, abalone, and an impeccable wine list.
For a more casual setting and a different view of the peninsula, head to Pacific Grove and try Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar. A relative newcomer on the scene that serves a Californian take on a blur of North African, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine, Jeninni is the brain child of former figure skater and James Beard winner Chef Jeffry Weiss and Owner-General Manager Thamin Saleh, a sommelier and seasoned Monterey-area manager. Their eclectic menu – including the succulent sliced rotating “ham of the month” – blends locally attuned ingredients with a broad range of international inspirations. The pairing is something of a metaphor for the peninsula as a whole: unique, confident, regionally distinctive, and yet crisscrossed with sophistication and a sense of adventure.
At the edge of emerald fields of corn and soybeans sits the National Petascale Computing Facility, the crown jewel of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The 88,000-square-foot glass-covered facility looks like a fancy convention center, and it’s surrounded by a black steel fence strong enough to stop a speeding Mack truck. Past a retina scanner and through a heavy-gauge steel door resides a computer named Blue Waters. It’s big—spanning 10,000 square feet—and it’s made up of 288 matte-black rack towers that house the 27,000 nodes that are the key to its power. Each node holds two microprocessors, not unlike a stripped-down PC but faster than anything you’ll find at Best Buy.
Since powering up in 2013, Blue Waters has been one of the few computers in the world capable of processing the biggest of big data sets, encompassing everything from the evolution of the universe to the global spread of flu pandemics. It’s also one of the only machines in the world that can model the staggering complexities of a supertornado, which is exactly what an atmospheric scientist named Leigh Orf spent the better part of 2013 failing to do.
Trinity Groves created a novel concept in Dallas when founders Jim Reynolds, Phil Romano, Stuart Fitts, and Butch McGregor launched a restaurant incubator in West Dallas. On Monday, Romano and Fitts’ latest brainchild opened in Trinity Groves. Though the business model resembles that of a restaurant or incubator, the Network Bar is something new entirely.
The Network Bar utilizes a membership model to promote its exclusive meeting place for professionals across all industries to connect with each other, with a little help from a social media-style interface.
Prospective members must be recommended by a current member and approved by the bar’s leadership. Once approved, members can browse the Network Bar’s app, which houses members’ professional information, comparable to a closed-network LinkedIn.
As part of the app, members can see who is in the 7,000-square-foot bar at any given time, enticing them to come in and socialize.
Once inside, members can eat and drink, sit and work, or utilize the space for meetings.
Though all ages are welcome to join, the concept was created for millennials who are tech savvy, but lack the interpersonal skills or confidence to network efficiently, says Stuart Fitts, co-founder and managing partner of West Dallas Investments, the entity behind Trinity Groves. “The app is meant to be a bridge between the lost skill and the old skill,” Fitts says.
Those aged 21-30 can join for $500 annually, those 30-70 can join for $1,000 annually, and those 70 and above can join for free under a mentorship agreement. Mentors must be a business owner or leader, be available to mentor younger members, and have a strong desire to give back to the business community.
“Society becomes great when old men plant trees knowing that others will sit under the shade of them,” Romano says.
The Network Bar hopes to enroll 1,000 members by 2018, and has made good progress thus far, Romano says. Businesses can also purchase corporate memberships for employees as a promotion or recruitment perk.
Network Bar director of business development Gerardo Munguia says, so far, members have spanned multiple industries, including finance, law, technology, and real estate.
Joining will be fairly easy, Romano says, but it will also be easy to get kicked out. Part of the bar’s purpose is to create a safe place for people of all ages and genders to network. Members may anonymously flag one another via the app for inappropriate behavior, which could lead to a withdrawal of membership.
“We don’t want this to be a nightclub,” Fitts says. “We want this to be elegant and professional, safe and inviting.”
“We want it to be a place for people to chase business opportunities,” Romano says.
Programming such as a speaker series, intimate fireside chats with business leaders, business book launches, and mentor office hours will be available to all members.
Since its soft opening Monday, members have already been using the space as an office and conference room alternative, and a place to grab a burger and craft cocktail.
“We didn’t intend to be in competition with co-working concepts,” Fitts said. In fact, Romano foresees a licensing partnership in the future with a hotel brand or co-working concept. “But we’ve got to make this work first; then we’ll work on growing it fast,” Romano says.
Romano and Fitts have been working closely with attorneys to protect the intellectual property of the concept. “But the best way to protect [the concept] is through market penetration,” Romano says.
Younity Group, the development company that created the Network Bar’s app, is half owned by Romano and Fitts.
Members and up to three guests can eat and drink from a menu of meal and snack items Romano calls “hand food,” as well as a full bar and craft cocktails. Daily hours vary, but the Network Bar will be closed every Monday to host private events.
Trinity Groves continues to grow, as the restaurant incubator increased sales 57 percent from this quarter last year, according to Romano. But the Network Bar is still unlike anything the partners have attempted thus far.
“This isn’t a venture—it’s an adventure,” Romano says.
Everybody’s favorite Dallas-based ex-con journalist is at it again. Last night Viceland released its latest episode of the Cyberwar show, titled “Activists vs. the Surveillance State.” It features Barrett sitting in D Magazine’s conference room, talking on his flip phone to the Bureau of Prisons, trying to find out why he’s not allowed to talk to a reporter from Vice — which he goes ahead and does anyway. Aaaand he got arrested again. This all happened back in late April. Anyway, if you have about 20 minutes, it’s worth the time. For those who want even more Barrett, sometime next week a new documentary about him will drop. Stay tuned.
I was so delighted to nab the assignment of writing this month’s cover story, which hit the web this morning. Like many of you, I love to travel. As D Magazine’s travel editor, I have flown all over the world and driven across Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma in search of places to share with our readers. What I hadn’t done was to study the small towns that lie within an hour’s drive of Dallas.
It would have been easy to phone in Granbury and Fort Worth. Those towns are two of the most popular drives for Dallasites. Instead I added 1,484 miles to my car’s odometer.
My method was loose. I had a list of 21 towns. Some days I just got in the car and headed in the general direction of one of them. I took backroads, stopped at mom-and-pop diners, bought way too many items that will end up in a garage sale, and talked to folks at almost every stop.
My first draft of the story was more than 10,000 words. I had fallen in love with North Texas all over again. I marveled at the glorious courthouses and well-preserved architecture of our region. I learned how the area was settled and the importance of the railroads.
My biggest surprise was Corsicana. I’ve driven past it my whole life. Once I stopped and spent some time there I learned about the transition taking place there. The power of the railroads and oil barons built a remarkable town center filled with beautiful buildings. Today they are filled with vibrant shops, restaurants, and independently owned businesses.
I was most impressed by SMU art school graduate Kyle Hobratschk’s 100 West project. Hobratschk took over The State National Bank Building, a three-story IOOF Italianate-revival red brick building built in 1898 and converted into an 11,000-square-foot living and working space for artists and writers. The project has sparked the opening of several other unique galleries. As a result, young craftsmen and artists are moving to Corsicana where they thrive in affordable living space just an hour south of Dallas.
Some of the towns in North Texas are up and coming. Others, such as Pilot Point, are striving for some energy. I urge you to take a couple hours out of a day and visit these towns. There are people waiting to tell you stories about what took place in their backyards. I promise you will go home full of enrichment.
Forbes just dropped its list of the 400 richest people in America. Sorry. Wealthiest people. “Rich” is such a gauche term. Let’s have a look at the Dallasites who made the list and see how I, Tim Rogers, have personally interfaced with them. Just for giggles.
Andy Beal, No. 45, $10.9B
In 2010, I flew to Cape Canaveral on a 747 chartered by Beal to watch a space shuttle launch. Gabe Kaplan was along for the ride, too, on account of he, like Beal, enjoys high-stakes poker. I beat down Kaplan with questions about cards. He’s not nearly as nice as Beal. I shook Beal’s hand and thanked him for including me. Among the parting gifts given to everyone on the flight was a backpack that I still occasionally use to this day. Friendship rating on scale of 1 to 10: Beal and I are totally close. 8
Jerry Jones, No. 95, $5.6B
I’ve never met Jerry, but around 2000 I was thrown out of Valley Ranch for trying to interview a chef about what he was cooking for the team. Friendship rating: Jerry and I are lifelong enemies. 1
Robert Rowling, No. 108, $5.2B
Strange as it may seem, given that he has an alliterative name, I’ve never met Rowling. Friendship rating: there is hope that one day our families will vacation together. 5
Ray Hunt, No. 122, $4.9B
I talked to him once on the phone. Can’t recall why. He was once a part owner of D Magazine. His building is a block from our office, and I sometimes visit his lobby just to see his badass Foucault pendulum. Friendship rating: we’d probably bro hug if we ran into each other at lunch. 6.5
Trevor Rees-Jones, No. 132, $4.8B
I have an email from 2009 indicating that we made a mistake in the magazine involving TRJ. Friendship rating: it was a great mistake. 9
Kelcy Warren, No. 161, $4.2B
I interviewed him in 2014. We fell so hard for each other that he invited me to his wife’s birthday party at Savor a couple days later. They are both really nice people. Friendship rating: beyond besties. 10
Ross Perot Sr., No. 167, $4.1B
Earlier this year, a handful of D staffers got to tour the new Perot family office. Just by chance, we ran into Ross Sr., and I got to shake his hand and see his own personal office, which includes hundreds of pictures of artifacts from his fascinating life. Friendship rating: out of respect for one of the greatest Americans ever to live, I will not overstate our bond. 5.2
Mark Cuban, No. 226, $3.3B
Man, I hate to bring this up. It happened so many years ago. 2002, to be exact. But Mark Cuban once threatened to slice off my nuts. Those were his words. I’m not making that up. Anyway, I played pickup basketball with him a couple times after that. So no hard feelings. Friendship rating: we will probably play one on one as soon as his kids get older and he has more time. 8
Gerald Ford, No. 278, $2.9B
I’ve been in Ford Stadium. Friendship rating: it was only to drop off my daughter at soccer camp. 2
Ray Davis, No. 288, $2.8B
John Blake once cussed me out big time. John Blake is the head of communications for the Rangers. Ray Davis co-owns the Rangers. Friendship rating: I can tell that Davis values loyalty and that he has Blake’s back. 0
Herbert Hunt, No. 374, $2.1B
Wait a sec. Which Hunt is this? Friendship rating: seriously, there are so many Hunts that it’s hard to keep track of them all, and that’s before we even start talking about the Hills. 1
Ross Perot Jr., No. 374, $2.1B
Remember that tour of the Perot office I told you about? Ross Jr. led the thing. Nice dude. I offered to come lead a morning yoga class for him at the gym in their office. He politely declined. Friendship rating: next time he flies around the world in a helicopter, pretty sure he’ll ask me to be his copilot. 9
Here’s the latest flutter over the State Fair of Texas, which continues to deep fry down at Fair Park through October 22. It is about a survey the fair is offering attendees the chance to win $1,000 to complete. Among a host of questions, like how old are you and how safe do you feel at the fair, the State Fair drops a sensitive bombshell. Depending on the version of the survey, it either asks how would you feel if the State Fair of Texas departed Dallas’ Fair Park after 130 years, or whether you believe the fair should work with the city to keep it at Fair Park for another 130 years.
In the article that appeared over the weekend about the survey, the subtext is clear. The State Fair is at the center of the debate over the future of Fair Park. Three groups are vying to take over private control of the park. The fair has been criticized for not living up to the terms of its contract with the city, managing Fair Park into a concrete mess, and contributing historically to the ongoing disinvestment and degradation of the neighborhoods surrounding Fair Park. All the while, a group headed by former Trammel Crow CEO Don Williams remains dead-locked in a series of lawsuits related to freedom of information requests to view the fair’s oft-criticized and tightly guarded finances (I mean, they count their ducats by weighing greasy tickets, for goodness sake).
And so, now the fair suddenly takes it upon itself to measure the emotional attachment of its attendees to the idea of the State Fair being in Fair Park. How does that not play as a preventive political maneuver that will raise its head again as the Fair Park privatization bid moves forward? And reading the fair’s spokesperson’s aww-shucks, gee-whiz, nothing going on here quote in the DMN, that perception is only furthered. Or, as council member Scott Griggs puts it, “Nothing the State Fair does surprises me.”
But that is not the best part of the article. The best part comes from young Jocelyn Hodges, age 15, who, when asked about the State Fair and Fair Park, makes a simple, ingenious suggestion.
“It would be kind of cool if it moved around to different cities every year,” she said.
Oh, I know, the sweet, inspiring naivete of the youth. Of course, it is not a practical suggestion. Of course, the powers that be – from fair officials watching the bottom line to city officials counting tax dollars – don’t want to take on the risk or complication of mounting the fair in moving locations year in and year out. There’s the tradition, the logistical nightmare, the cost, the loyalties, the liabilities, the food vendors, and all the countless little details.
But forget all that for a second and just think about Ms. Hodges’ idea: A State Fair that Travels.
It would be kind of cool. Actually, it would be very cool.
Each year could highlight a Texas region and bring in regional contrast. Each event could spruce up a locale and draw tourism, investment, and visitors to a different part of the state. Die-hard vendors could travel to the fair, and so could Big Tex. Sure, you wouldn’t get to ride on the Texas Star every year, but San Antonio, El Paso, Lubbock, Nacogdoches, Abilene, and who knows where else could build there own unique attractions. Maybe there could be a fair circuit – 10 cities that shared the honor, or one per cultural or geographical region. And the fair wouldn’t be an albatross around a specific location, but rather an Olympic-style interruption – embraced because local businesses and neighborhoods would know they wouldn’t have to relive the nightmare of the fair year-in and year-out.
How fun would it be to attend a State Fair of Texas on the Gulf Coast? Imagine the food at a state fair in the Rio Grande Valley. Think about the music at a state fair in the Hill Country.
Texas’ greatest quality is its rich cultural and geographical diversity and its vivacious embracing of individual freedom. Its most irritating quality is its pigeon-brained, self-serving cultural, political, and economic petulance, a parochial protectionsim which it fraudulently tries to pass off as individualism and independence. In its broad-shouldered political maneuvering, the State Fair exhibits too much of the later quality. A traveling fair would go a long way towards embracing the former and making Texas’ best self the center of the show.
North Texas’ relationship with the onset of fall weather is an often-tumultuous back and forth of misunderstanding and impatience. Can I wear a sweater or not? When is it ok to drink a pumpkin latte? Such riddles may plague us, but need not hinder our coming holiday travel plans. Stay focused. According to HomeAway, the world’s leading online vacation rental marketplace, ski houses and condos start disappearing from booking sites like HomeAway.com and VRBO.com before the first heavy snowfall in the mountains. More than 50 percent of ski rental bookings for the entire season, which stretches all the way to March, are already made by December.
For North Texans, our favorite and most frequented destinations are Breckenridge, Lake Tahoe and Winter Park. But fear not, dear reader. Whether you’re looking for a weeklong home rental or even just a fun-loving weekend jaunt to the slopes, your options are still plentiful and within your grasp. We have eight great options from HomeAway right here that are still available for this winter’s excursion.