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My Night with Louis XIII in the Penthouse Loft

| 17 mins ago
The view from The Joule.
The view from The Joule.

I didn’t look into it. I didn’t ask questions. All I knew was that the invite said “penthouse loft at The Joule,” and I was in. I had never been above the hotel’s lobby.

So when I walked into the 10th floor suite last night for a cocktail party hosted by Christen and Derek Wilson and Louis XIII to celebrate the movie 100 Years (directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring John Malkovich), I expected to see couches and a big screen. Instead, the room was outfitted with marble and mirrors, and a few dozen people holding champagne glasses. Bottles of Louis XIII Cognac glowed in display cases.

My wingwoman for the evening was Anastasia Munoz, a beautiful actress who is otherwise busy with the unglamorous-yet-noble task of transforming a 1929 Oak Cliff church into an arts space. We sipped bubbly as the PR firm sent one beautiful person after another to speak with us. A VP here, a Director of Branding there. I could hardly make out words through their thick Parisian accents.

Representing D Mag in The Joule penthouse watercloset.
Representing D Mag in The Joule penthouse watercloset.

The tricky part about doing PR for a legendary liquor brand, as one rep told me, is that they don’t have new lines coming out every season like fashion. Louis XIII Cognac takes 100 years to age. The experts crafting each batch will never get to taste the fruits of their labor. That’s why it goes for anywhere from $150 to $250 a shot. Essentially, the branding team has to create excitement over the same product for eternity. Commissioning a film that stirs up publicity is one way to do it.

I soon realized we weren’t going to see a screening, but a preview of the movie. I should have been tipped off by the subtitle: “The Movie You Will Never See.” The film is kept in a custom safe that weighs 800 pounds. Dallas was one of its last stops on a world tour before it heads back to a cellar in Cognac, France. The film will be released in 2115, along with bottles that began aging in 2015.

Though we never got to see the flick, we did get a taste of the oft-rapped-about Louis. After the 3-minute preview—flashes of neon lights, flying vehicles, and all-black costumes—the brand’s VP of the Americas, a silver fox named Yves De Launay, sent out flutes of half-ounces and called for a toast.

I’d make a fool of myself if I attempted to comment on the flavor of my first sip. My palette is completely unsophisticated. I didn’t start drinking hard liquor until after I had my three-year-old and craved something stronger than an IPA to cap my exhausting nights. And though the cognac’s makers may disagree with me, it’s not all about the taste anyway. The allure of luxury spirits is more about the idea that we are drinking something very, very expensive.

What I can say is that the Louis XIII went down smooth. Anastasia, who said she didn’t care for cognac earlier in the evening, grabbed a second glass that a fashion blogger left untouched on an end table. I gave her a look.

“Well, when you bring a pauper to a princess party,” she said, before taking a $100 swig.

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Winners and Losers in Dallas This Week (9/30/16)

| 44 mins ago


Texas Rangers
The Arlington baseballers officially claimed their second-straight division title last Saturday in Oakland (also the site of a painful three-game sweep that cost Texas the AL West in 2012). It’s been a crazy season for the Rangers, who have overachieved even more so than last year’s club overachieved. Give the credit to manager Jeff Banister (who could well win a second straight manager-of-the-year prize) or just to plain old clusterluck. Their postseason starts next Thursday. With three games left in the regular season, they’re a good bet to finish with the best record in the American League, giving them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They’d then face the Wild Card game winner in the first round, which at this point could be either Baltimore, Seattle, Detroit, or (every right-thinking person’s dream) the Toronto Blue Jays. We should all be rooting for this rematch:

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Sheriff Lupe Valdez Wants What We All Want

| 1 hour ago

All I got my wife for her birthday was a new tennis outfit. Apparently, I picked the wrong profession. Sheriff Lupe Valdez, whose 69th birthday is October 11, just got a Tesla from her (much younger) girlfriend, Lindsay Browning, a chiropractor who owns Urban Hippie Chiropractic in Oak Cliff. According to the Dallas Morning News, Lindsay made a timely surprise presentation of the gift, in the middle of Lupe’s interview with a DMN reporter. Here’s how it went down:

“Your birthday present came early.”

“What are you talking about? Are you serious? Oh my God, Lindsay.”

“It’s what you always wanted.”

“We’re going to be paying this off for the next three or four years.”

“The hippie business is pretty good.”

Good indeed. I hope the couple cruises into the Sheraton valet tomorrow night, in the red Tesla, for Black Tie. And I hope Lindsay wears a matching red dress. I don’t have tickets this year—instead I’ll be watching my wife play at the Texas Open at Kiest Tennis Center (aka The Big Gay Tennis Tournament). Hopefully she’ll like her new birthday outfit enough to wear it.

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Arts & Entertainment

Things To Do In Dallas This Weekend: Sept. 30-Oct.2

| 2 hours ago

Big Tex, Lazarus-like, is risen again. The fried food is different, but the same. The pigs’ race continues, with no end in sight. The cycle begins anew, and we return to where we started.

The State Fair of Texas is back, and we have all kinds of advice on what to see, eat, and listen to at Fair Park this weekend. And while it’s the biggest game in town right now, it’s not the only thing to do.

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Local News

A Thing I Love About the State Fair: #peopleandtheirprizes

| 3 hours ago


It’s opening day for another edition of the State Fair of Texas. There will be a parade in downtown at noon, and someone booting from too many corny dogs and beer by, say, 2. It’s a grand tradition.

One thing I love about the Fair, that you may not know about, is #peopleandtheirprizes, a series of photos on Instagram by Amanda Pounds, aka @amandalbs. She’s been doing these for the past two years or so. It’s a great slice of life, not just from the Midway but in general, and most people look so happy in them, clutching their stuffed animals and often a loved one. Plus: it costs zero coupons, and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your phone.

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State Fair of Texas

A Fair to Remember

| 4 hours ago

My canning obsession started simply enough, with a bumper crop of backyard peaches. I canned peaches in syrup, peach jam, peach barbecue sauce. A day trip to Blueberry Hill Farms in Edom resulted in a year’s worth of blueberry lime jelly. Then there was a brief but disastrous attempt at pickling before I returned to the friendlier fruits. Mango chutney with ginger and golden raisins. Rio Grande ruby red grapefruit marmalade.

My boiling-water canner started to seem downright primitive. I upgraded to a steam-pressure canner. The first time I used it, I stared apprehensively at the pressure gauge, convinced the whole thing was going to blow. When it didn’t, I bought a second. Mason jars filled my cupboards and then my laundry room. Mouth lids accumulated at the bottom of my dishwasher, and jar bands clattered around the utensil drawer.

When I mastered the art of boxed pectin-free jam, I figured the time had come to test my skills against the best at the State Fair of Texas. But I was hesitant to take on the fiercely competitive Jams and Jellies categories out of the gate. Instead, I went for broke with the lesser-populated Relishes, subset Chili Sauce. I filled out my application and sent in the $2 fee. At the El Rio Grande Supermercado on Jefferson, I bought a dozen giant green mangoes, soft like butter to the touch, with just a sunset hint of red on the bottom. I picked out the brightest orange habaneros, a bag of carrots, and a cone of piloncillo.

There’s nothing quite like a gas range covered with steaming canners—in August, in Dallas—filled with bubbling jars of vinegar and peppers. I meticulously tapped out air bubbles, wiped the glass threads clean, and tightened hot bands with rubber gloves. Out of the dozens of half-pint jars, I picked out the best two and hand-delivered them to a table of steely-eyed, white-haired veteran competitors armed with a label gun in Fair Park’s Creative Arts Building. Then I waited.

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Leading Off (9/30/16)

| 7 hours ago

Arrest Made in Kaufman Cold Case. Police investigating a 1994 murder at a laundromat recently received a tip about the whereabouts of their prime suspect, Alvaro Iglesias Rodriguez, after running his photo in a local newspaper. Rodriguez was taken into custody in Wichita, Kansas, on Wednesday. It’s uncertain whether he’ll fight extradition back to Kaufman.

Caraway, Arnold Feud Over Deck Park. Dallas City Council District 4’s current and former representatives squared off at the Dallas Zoo on Thursday. Dwaine Caraway had called a press conference to talk about the city’s plan for a Southern Gateway Park that would top Interstate 35E by the zoo. Supporters hope to replicate the success of Klyde Warren Park in sparking new development in that corner of Oak Cliff. Arnold crashed Caraway’s event, wresting the microphone away to argue that the park would bring with it gentrification, pricing out residents and wrecking the nearby 10th Street Historic Freedman’s District neighborhood. Caraway told the media Arnold is intentionally sabotaging the project, which (if funding can be secured) would be part of a larger redo of that section of highway by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Bishop Farrell’s Last Day. It’s the Catholic prelate’s final Friday on the job before taking on a new gig in Rome next week. Pope Francis hasn’t named a replacement for Farrell yet. Until he does — if I’m remembering my catechism correctly — there will be a Purge-like period during which no actions or thoughts are counted as sins within the Diocese of Dallas.

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Politics & Government

Rumor: New City Attorney Is Killing Walt Humann’s Fair Park Carte Blanche

| 22 hours ago

Schutze wrote in the wee hours of this morning that the issue that City Councilman Philip Kingston brought up last month during the Dallas City Council’s briefing on Walt Humann’s proposal to privatize Fair Park may indeed lead to the demise of the deal.

Kingston had questioned whether turning over management of the city-owned asset to a private entity without putting the opportunity out for bid through a request for proposals was legal. He said he didn’t think so, but the city attorney’s came up with a kinda-sort-maybe-if-you-squint-and-tilt-your-head justification for allowing it. As our Peter Simek wrote at the time:

City attorneys scrambled for a few moments before providing an answer. The management services themselves were the benefit to the city, they said. It was a less than satisfying answer, and the question seemed to linger in the air. Could the contract be challenged further on those terms? Could a legal challenge blow the whole thing out of the water or force an open bidding process? Opening the future of Fair Park to an open bidding process could get, well, really interesting.

Well, you may have heard that the city recently hired a new city attorney. That, according to rumors relayed by Schutze, is changing the official opinion on the matter:

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