{ HOOPS }
KING OF THE COURT
Avery Johnson has a simple goal: do what no other Mavericks coach has done.
by Brian D. Sweany

Since March, I’ve been saying a prayer. It  goes like this: “Oh, Lord, let the Dallas Mavericks have a strong run in April to finish the regular season. Keep the team healthy, and don’t let Dirk blow out his knee. And make sure nothing silly ruins our chances for a title, like our starters getting food poisoning from soup. (Though we wouldn’t mind if you afflicted the San Antonio Spurs—nothing too serious, of course, but enough to throw them off their game.) Most of all, give new head coach Avery Johnson the strength to lead the Mavericks through the playoffs. Make him more like Dick Motta and less like Richie Adubato. Thanks again for your time. Amen.”

Johnson himself is a religious man—he reads the Bible daily—and I suspect he’s also been saying a lot of prayers since he took over in March. Don Nelson was ready to play cards in Hawaii, so at a team shoot-around, he handed his whistle to Johnson. Though he’d never been a head coach, he got off to a great start—as of press time, the Mavs were 6-1 under his leadership—but now the playoffs are here. The teams are stronger, more focused. And in the past, the Mavericks haven’t been. Instead, they’ve earned that awful label: soft like a pillow and just as easy to toss aside.

When Johnson played for the San Antonio Spurs, his critics complained that the team would never win a championship with him as a starter. At 5 feet 11 inches, he was too small. He didn’t have the skills. He didn’t have that championship feeling. But in 1999, Johnson nailed a jumper in game five of the NBA Finals to clinch the title. So much for underachieving.

Now the question is whether he can coach the Mavs to their first title. At least the pressure doesn’t seem to faze him: he may have a squeaky, high-pitched voice, but he already knows how to fill the role. There he is benching Nowitzki for blowing a defensive assignment. There he goes griping at Darrell Armstrong and Jason Terry for giving up 3’s. There he is telling Shawn Bradley to stop dragging himself down the court.

Discipline? For the Mavs? Johnson may be on to something. His legacy awaits.

Photo: Allison V. Smith

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Required Reading

WHAT: Still River (St. Martin’s Minotaur; $23.95)

WHO: Harry Hunsicker

BACKSTORY: This is the debut novel by Hunsicker, who by day is a real estate appraiser in Dallas. The noirish mystery centers on the adventures of a private investigator in our fair city by the name of Lee Henry Oswald. That’s right, Lee Henry.

BEST LINE FROM THE BACK COVER: “It’s not easy being named Oswald, at least not in the city where Lee Harvey grabbed his 15 minutes of infamy and choked them to death.”

SUMMARY: Saddling the character with that name—and forcing it on his readers—could have been just a cheap ploy, but Hunsicker makes the most of the plot and the characters. He also does a great job weaving Dallas into the narrative; the city itself becomes a character. Though the story’s not perfect—there are a number of places where it’s clear this is a first novel—Hunsicker has written a smart, adventurous read, crafted in the Raymond Chandler vein. This is the first in a series, and we’re already looking forward to the next installment.

Photo: Book: Melissa Martinez

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{ CLUBBING }
Calling All Pimps
DJ Willie Trimmer and crew spin a mean groove.
by Julie Blacklidge

TRIMMER AND POSSE

Dallas is overrun with mediocre DJs, but DJ Willie Trimmer and his crew of 12 Inch Pimps have made their mark delivering solid grooves at the city’s hottest spots. Club owners call Trimmer to hire from his pool of DJs, but he provides one thing other collaboratives don’t: marketing and photography (check out the newly updated site, www.12inchpimps.com). “I got sick of club owners asking me why the place wasn’t packed when all I was hired to do was spin,” Trimmer says. Now through e-mails, flyers, and other promotions, Pimp parties at places like Nikita, Republic, and Purgatory are packed with the beautiful people. “We tapped into something and can throw a party with a good vibe,” he says. Trimmer’s DJs spin anything from down-tempo lounge music to deep house and hot dance tracks. Trimmer started the collaborative in 1998 while in art school in Georgia, but the Pimp “crew” didn’t take off until he came back to Dallas in late 2000. Now at least one DJ is spinning every night of the week, including holidays. Pimps have never been so popular.

Photo: Trimmer: Courtesy of 12 Inch Pimps

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{ DINING }
Stirring the Pot
Zagat cooks up a healthy serving of stupidity.
by Nancy Nichols

Hell hath no fury like a Dallas foodie scorched. Tempers and egos flare. Phone lines and e-mails sizzle. And our restaurant elite are happy to make heads roll—even if they’re the heads of Nina and Tim Zagat, whose venerable dining guide bears their name.

The fire ignited on March 10 at 8:21 a.m., when Ed Bamberger, the executive director of Single Gourmet Dallas, sent an innocent e-mail to Zagat Survey to ask why it no longer published a Dallas edition. At 9:09 a.m., Bamberger received a reply from Brittany at Zagat’s customer service center in Vermont. He was stunned by what he saw. The meat of the message read: “We are focusing our efforts on covering the major metropolitan areas that have vibrant and evolving restaurant scenes. At this time we do not offer an up-to-date guide for Dallas, because for the most part your cuisine is limited to country cooking and barbecue, and that doesn’t live up to our standards.”

Blasphemy! The Yankees were on the attack, and their noses were in the air. Dallas, the home of J.R., the outpost where cowboys order steak tartare medium well and think “hollandaise” is a French word for vacation! Brittany may have been ignorant, but she wouldn’t be the last person to throw grease on the fire.

Bamberger began forwarding Brittany’s blast, and by 4:48 p.m., it had landed in the in boxes at the mayor’s office, D Magazine, and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. That’s when the ferocious PR spin hit the fan. Angry he-said-she-said-we-said e-mails followed. April, another rep in Vermont, apologized for Brittany’s remarks, then agreed with her. “[R]eviews we have for Dallas are valuable, but there is simply not enough to warrant its own guide,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Nina and Tim Zagat sent an official response through their spokesperson, Jessica Anderson, hoping to “put to rest a recent unfortunate misunderstanding.” That would have been smart, but they went on to claim that the problem was the result of “an altered March 10 e-mail exchange between customer service and a Chicago-area resident, Ed Bamberger.” But they assured us that they love Dallas—and make a point of eating Sonny Bryan’s barbecue.

Hah! Now who’s not vibrant and evolving? Chef Kent Rathbun, the unofficial dining ambassador of Dallas, called Tim Zagat and left a message. He never heard back. The battle lines were drawn.

Bamberger, of course, denies changing the e-mail. “Ludicrous,” he says. But the Zagats are sticking by their story: no one in their organization is to blame.

We may never know the truth, but the bottom line is this: as long as diners choose not to vote on the Zagat web site, Dallas will not have a guide. And obviously the “will of the customers” in Dallas is that a “people’s choice” dining guide “doesn’t live up to our standards.” 

Photos: Book: David Radabaugh and Brian Sweany


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GOOD ADVICE
Highland Park’s Pat Robertson has served as a municipal court judge for 37 years. During his time on the bench, he has ruled on cases from the lofty to the mundane—and dispensed justice for countless D employees who rolled through stop signs or used a lead foot on Armstrong Avenue. We asked him how to handle ourselves if we’re ever summoned to appear in his courtroom again.

“Don’t lose your sense of humor, and don’t take it too seriously. I always hear the story, ‘I was rushing home to go to the bathroom.’ Or the throw-up story. You know, ‘I got sick to my stomach, and I had to get somewhere to regurgitate.’ I’ve seen people cry over this stuff—women in particular. They get all upset. Just take it for what it is. You know, it’s only a traffic ticket.”

Photo: Robertson: Melissa Martinez

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TATTONI-MARCOZZI AND GOSS

THE NEW GOSSIP

Frame and Fortune
The art crowd is all atwitter about the long-awaited opening of the Goss Gallery in Uptown this month. Owned by the globe-trotting Kenny Goss, the collection will feature modern and contemporary painting and photography, with prices of the initial items ranging between $10,000 and $50,000. Goss brought in Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi—Italian for “choice”—to serve as director and curator while still holding down his job as the manager of the famed Hamiltons Gallery in London. (When asked about his impression of Dallas, Tattoni-

GEORGE MICHAEL

Marcozzi laughed and said, “The people here know how to party.”) The opening-night party will feature famed photographer David LaChapelle, who is known for outrageous, pop-culture-inspired pieces. But the biggest star in the elite set just might be Goss’ longtime partner, pop singer George Michael. The couple is hush-hush about other details, but we know it will be fabulous. You just gotta have faith.

AMY LEPARD

Swinging Into Action
On May 24, Dallas native Amy Lepard releases her debut CD, On My Own. That’s good news for the pop songstress, who once ran a production studio in Dallas. Still, her press release was a bit puzzling: “Lepard prepares to release her highly anticipated debut ... as her husband comes in second at the PGA Golf Tournament.” Forcing a connection between their careers makes us worry that if her single tanks, her hubby might get struck by lightning on the 18th hole. But right now Chad Campbell, a West Texas native, is striking gold on the greens; by the end of March he had earned $865,758. And whatever the couple is doing, it’s working. They’ll soon be featured in Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly.

 Photos: Goss: Courtesy of Buzzell Company; Michael: Courtesy of George Michael; Lepard: Courtesy of Heliocentric PR

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{ HIGH TECH }
Wired in Keller
The affluent suburb becomes the epicenter of the new, new Internet revolution.
by Phil Harvey

Verizon didn’t pick mid-town Manhattan. Or an exclusive community in Beverly Hills. It didn’t even choose Plano, which has more Verizon customers than any other city in Texas. No, when the largest phone company in the country rolled out its most advanced broadband service last summer, it chose Keller, making it one of the most wired cities in America.

Come again?

As it turns out, the suburb of 33,000 people, where the average new home built in 2004 costs more than $307,000, was a perfect fit. It’s filled with young, tech-savvy families who crave high-end service, and about 200 of its residents work for the company. And it doesn’t hurt that Keller is smack in the middle of several areas served solely by rival SBC Communications, which is scrambling to catch up. So Verizon spent $15 million installing its “fiber to the premises” (or FTTP) service, known as FiOS. Unlike traditional telephone networks, in which copper wires fan out from a central switching office to the home, FiOS uses fiber-optic cables that provide one of the fastest connections in the world. Want to download music? Now Keller residents can get up to 10 CDs worth of music in the time it takes to listen to one song. It’s kind of like your regular phone line on way too much caffeine.

Now the move is on to 12 other suburbs, including Southlake, Plano, and Murphy—with a target of more than 3 million homes. And Keller is already set for its next jolt. FiOS is capable of handling state-of-the-art television service, which will be available this summer to subscribers. That means Keller will once again be the buzz of the high-tech world—and that’s worked wonders for the city’s image. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets covered Keller, and the town received top billing in Verizon’s 2004 annual report. “We could never pay for that type of publicity,” says Lyle Dresher, Keller’s city manager.