The 35 Biggest Pop Culture Moments in Modern Dallas History
In fighting over what deserved inclusion in the 35 Biggest Moments in Modern Dallas History, we kept coming up with events that seemed noteworthy—if not necessarily important. So we endeavored to identify the 35 biggest pop culture moments, too. Because, after all, “Debbie Does Dallas” couldn’t be ignored.
28. Michael Irvin Wears a Mink Coat to Court
What: Even though Michael Irvin had been arrested for cocaine possession in March 1996, he hadn’t quite gotten his comeuppance yet. So when he was set to appear at the courthouse for his grand jury hearing, Irvin dressed for the occasion in the manner to which he had become accustomed: completely over the top. In this case, that meant a full-length mink coat. It didn’t exactly scream “innocent!” when photos and video of Irvin in said coat turned up in every news outlet that runs photos and video. He looked like a man who had cocaine on him at that very moment.
Why: Irvin has since found God, various levels of success as a media personality, and more trouble with the law. But the image of him in that mink will never be forgotten. It is as central to the Michael Irvin story as anything he ever did on the field with the Cowboys and overshadows almost everything he did off of it. Except for that time he said he had a weed pipe in his car because he was throwing it away for someone else, because that’s just crazy.
29. JFK Reignites Conspiracy Theories
What: The various conspiracies potentially in play regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy had long been simmering. (It was the Cubans! Or the anti-Cubans! Or the Russians! Or the CIA! Or the FBI! Or LBJ! Or aliens! Or suicide!) Director Oliver Stone brought it to a boil when he came to Dallas to shoot JFK, which (more or less) took the best parts of all extant theories and mashed them into one extremely entertaining, if not necessarily historically accurate, whole.
Why: JFK extended the shelf life of Dallas’ City of Hate reputation by another decade or two. But! At least we got a chance to mix and mingle with Kevin Costner for a couple of months. And everyone involved even tangentially with profiting from the assassination and its attendant theorizing made out like bandits.
30. Sex Pistols Rock the Longhorn Ballroom
What: The Sex Pistols—in their late 1970s incarnation, anyway—toured America only once, a 12-day exercise in barely controlled chaos. Of that handful of shows, only two are constantly referenced: the last one in San Francisco (wherein Johnny Rotten infamously ended the performance by asking, “You ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”) and the band’s gig on January 10, 1978, at the Longhorn Ballroom. Built by Texas swing legend Bob Wills and known for hosting predominantly country and western acts, the Longhorn Ballroom served as the backdrop for what was less a concert than a confrontation. To wit: a female audience member head-butted bassist Sid Vicious, causing blood to flow down his chest (where, incidentally, he’d scribbled “Gimme a Fix” in marker) for the duration of the set.
Why: Anyone who has ever had even a passing interest in punk rock has seen footage from the Longhorn Ballroom show, which Rotten called “a living circus” from the stage that night.
31. Walker, Texas Ranger Kicks Butt
What: For eight seasons (beginning April 21, 1993), Chuck Norris delivered his roundhouse kick of justice—as North Texas-based Texas Ranger Cordell Walker—right here. Fun fact: Walker, Texas Ranger was co-created by multiple Oscar winner Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby).
Why: It was a boon to the local film industry, people who like seeing Las Colinas on TV, and the folks behind chucknorrisfacts.com. Which reminds us: Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he recognizes only the element of surprise.
32. Bottle Rocket Launches
What: Every city needs a cult classic to call its own. Bottle Rocket is ours, and we have the Criterion Collection DVD to prove it.
Why: When it debuted on February 21, 1996, Bottle Rocket didn’t appear as though it would be launching anyone’s career. But the quirky, charming heist film, shot in and around Dallas, found new life in the secondary market. It launched the career of director Wes Anderson and helped turn brothers Luke and Owen Wilson (and even, to some extent, their elder brother, Andrew) into recognizable names in Hollywood.
33. Dr. Phil Brings His Bromides to Oprah
What: After Dr. Phil McGraw’s legal consulting concern, Courtroom Sciences, helped Oprah Winfrey prevail in her Amarillo, Texas, beef trial, the talk show host invited McGraw to appear on her program. His visit proved so successful that, in April 1998, he became her “relationship and life strategy expert,” offering his advice to Winfrey and her guests every Tuesday. And thus, Dr. Phil was born.
Why: McGraw’s Tuesdays with Oprah were spun off into his own show, Dr. Phil, in 2002, with Winfrey’s Harpo Studios producing. Not only that, McGraw is now a best-selling author several times over and, for a brief, ultimately disastrous, time, was also a weight-loss consultant, despite all evidence to the contrary.
34. Michael Scott is “Attacked” by a Gecko
What: On August 9, 2002, on a broadcast of DFW Today, NBC Channel 5’s Michael Scott gave us a gift. Oddly enough, he was holding a snake when a gecko leaped onto his crotch. To put it mildly, Scott freaked. Waving an arm spastically at the gecko (apparently afraid to touch it), he made gurgling sounds, then squeaked out an F-bomb before throwing himself off camera and onto the floor.
Why: Jay Leno aired the clip repeatedly on The Tonight Show, and in short order, Scott became a YouTube star. (Though the F-bomb has been expunged from all extant online clips of the blooper, we have an unadulterated copy at the D Magazine offices.)
35. The Polyphonic Spree Sings in an Apple/Volkswagen Ad
What: It’s rare when three brands hit their target demographic with one TV spot. But this commercial (which premiered July 15, 2003) for the Volkswagen Bug and Apple’s iPod, set to the Polyphonic Spree’s “Light and Day,” did just that. Not that it was difficult to accomplish: the Venn diagram of their respective audiences likely resembles a single circle.
Why: Though various successful festival appearances turned the majority of our nation’s music journalists into starry-eyed believers, the exposure from the Apple/VW team-up was the tipping point, the equivalent of having the No. 1 video on MTV back when MTV played music videos.
Return to the 35th anniversary issue table of contents.
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