Making Dallas Even Better
Question: I’m trying to do some research on my new neighborhood, Munger Place. What’s the history of it, and why are there so many damn apartment buildings? — Ricky F.
Congratulations and felicitations on settling into the Swiss Avenue Historic District’s disreputable older brother, Munger Place. You’ve arrived in time to surf a wave of urban renewal and nouveau gentrification. These days your new next-door neighbor is as likely to be an associate at some dandy-pants downtown law firm as a hooker — not that there’s much difference.
Time was, a ways back in the 20-aughts, that more “respectable” citizenry frowned upon the goings-on in this corner of Old East Dallas. But, from my vantage point, you missed out on much of what made life in the neighborhood an invigorating experience.Full Story
Chatting during a reception before an event at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza last week, a couple of heavyweight literati had some friendly advice for Nicola Longford, the museum’s executive director. It would help to add exhibits here—a la The Newseum in Washington, D.C.—aimed at putting the John F. Kennedy assassination more into the context of its times, Lawrence Schiller and J. Michael Lennon suggested.
For example, Schiller said, one good addition might be a description of the foreign travels of Lee Harvey Oswald, the president’s accused assassin: Finland, the Soviet Union, Mexico. When Longford lightly protested, citing the museum’s space constraints, Schiller and Lennon waved off the objection, insisting that “one panel” would do it.
The two men are sort of experts on these things. Schiller (who introduced himself to me saying, “Hello, I’m the big bad wolf”) is a photographer, author, and filmmaker who photographed the Kennedys for major publications and worked for nearly 35 years with the late writer Norman Mailer on such books as “Oswald’s Tale.” Lennon is Mailer’s archivist and authorized biographer (“Norman Mailer: A Double Life”).Full Story
It took a while, but we finally got there.
Last week, I smartened up and decided to let my fellow Dallas citizens help pick a new city flag for all of us to rally around, because that has traditionally been the role of a city flag. But the choices weren’t quite good enough. “We need Pegasus!” people scream-typed to me. I’m hard-headed sometimes (a lot of times) so it took a while (too long) to get through to me.
But you did, and I spent all weekend in the lab. And I think this both honors the past 30 years, as well as the long tradition of city flags.Full Story
Sure you’ve probably seen the traffic downtown today. As Tim mentioned in Leading Off, James Franco and Stephen King are making a movie about this thing that happened here a while back where a President got killed. D Magazine has written about that thing a little. It’s the kind of event football players who were not born yet blame on other football players who were not born yet.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Highland Park. Last night his team lost to the Seattle Seahawks. The victory was especially sweet for Michael Bennett, a defensive end on the Seahawks who told reporters that he had been holding an insane grudge against Stafford. Bennett, whose brother Martellus used to play for the Cowboys and says plenty of strange things himself, went all 1963, saying, “I don’t like Matt Stafford much. He’s from Dallas. They killed the President (JFK). … I hold it against him.”
People are funny.Full Story
Maybe you were lucky enough to be there. Maybe you just saw one of the documentaries or read one of the many articles. But those who remember Dallas’ legendary Starck Club at the beginning, in those heady early days in 1984 when Dallas, of all places, opened one of the most lavish and well-appointed nightclubs in the world, remember that to get into the club you to meet the demanding high standards of the woman manning the door. Her name was Edwige Belmore, and, sadly, she has passed away.
Edwige was in Dallas by way of Paris, London, and New York, where she hobnobbed with just about anyone who mattered in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Via Vogue:
[She] palled around with Yves Saint Laurent, Loulou de la Falaise, Bianca Jagger, and Farida Khelfa. She was photographed by Helmut Newton, Maripol, and Pierre et Gilles; reportedly dated both Sade and Grace Jones; kissed Andy Warhol on the cover of Façade (“The Queen of Punk Meets the Pope of Pop”); and walked the runway for both Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler. At the former’s 1979 James Bond extravaganza, she took to the catwalk in ripped fishnets and a black feathered jacket, singing “My Way” (the Sid Vicious version, bien sûr).
Yes, there was a time in Dallas when you couldn’t just hobble up McKinney Avenue with your drunken sorority sisters and stumble into the latest hot night spot. You had to impress someone who went to Studio 54 for the first time with Andy Warhol on her arm. Not many made it through the door at first (the crowded Starck in the old photos largely came after management relaxed its standards in early 1985), but those who made it into Starck in those early days were greeted with something Dallas — or the world — had never imagined before: black polished terrazzo floors, Romanian crystal champagne flutes, one of the best sound systems west of the Mississippi, a one-of-a-kind sunken dance floor, and, of course, legal Ecstasy.
Dallas isn’t the same city it was when the Starck Club opened, and, in part, it has the Starck to thank for that. And the style and soul of the Starck owes much to Edwige Belmore. It is sad to hear of her passing.Full Story
It includes a Swiss Avenue house that’s been in use as a wedding venue (against the wishes of neighbors), Highland Park ISD schools that are set to be rebuilt if a bond is approved this November, the Forest Theater, Norman Brinker’s first restaurant, “historic cemeteries” like McCree in Lake Highlands, and “low-rise” downtown buildings whose protection would help ensure a sense of “human scale” to the city center.Full Story
The September issue of Texas Monthly reports on the Texas school book controversy that has been simmering since 2010. That’s when the Texas State Board of Education adopted new curriculum standards that, it was argued at the time, attempted to coax publishers into producing student textbooks that downplayed the historical realities of slavery, segregation, and discrimination. Well, now those textbooks have been published, and while they are not yet available to the general public, TexMo’s Tom Bartlett reports that those who have perused them don’t believe they are as bad as many feared.Full Story
UPDATE: And, of course, Fingers of Fury has more details, including confirmation that crews are not demolishing the murals, etc.
On Friday Jim Schutze stopped by the Lakewood Theater, allegedly mid-donuts run, and noticed that work crews were busy inside the historic theater. He ducked in and, before being kicked-out, noticed that interior demolition work was going on. This was after Robert Wilonsky posted about the demolition shots that were clogging his Facebook page, including a disheartening photo of a dumpster filled with the theater’s seats. This morning, my Facebook page has also been inundated with updates about the renovation/demolition work. There are apparently TV news crews now on the scene.
But should we be freaking out about the Lakewood’s presumed demise?Full Story
Stating that “recent events have necessitated its return,” Preservation Dallas is compiling a list of Dallas’ Most Endangered Historic Places for the first time in five years. You’ve got a few days (until Friday) to make a nomination of an important old building that deserves inclusion. They’ll announce their list in September.
There’s nothing binding about this designation by the nonprofit organization, but the hope is that it will draw attention to bits of Dallas’ past that could soon disappear from our landscape. I thought I’d take a look at how well that worked for the last batch of places Preservation Dallas’ stood up for — in 2010.Full Story
See this corner of the mall shortly after it opened in 50 years ago.Full Story
You’re going to have to bear with me. I need some space here to collect my thoughts and grieve. I learned yesterday that one of my favorite bars will shut its doors forever at the end of this month. I’m referring to the White Rock Sports Bar, which we regulars still refer to by its original name, Shady Side. Actually, its full name when it opened in 1998 was the Shady Side Cafe, but “cafe” fits the place like a wedding dress would fit my dog. A man named JD, a neighbor of mine, owns the place. He changed the name a number of years ago in a misguided effort (in this drinker’s humble opinion) to deal with the arcane rules governing dry areas and private clubs and the food-to-beverage ratio of sales numbers. JD tells me that his lease is up October 31. His liquor license expires even sooner, this Sunday.Full Story
On Wednesday, I made a new Dallas flag and it rubbed a few people the wrong way. I guess my attitude about the whole thing is probably what did it, but that’s armchair quarterbacking. At any rate, yesterday I attempted to apologize for the first flag as well as my attitude with another flag, and though it was meant as an olive branch, I basically just threw that olive branch on the fire and then dumped gasoline on top of that, and then put on sunglasses and walked away while it all exploded.
One of the commenters suggested that what Dallas needs is something it can rally around. I didn’t type “How about a city that actually works?” and instead thought about it some. That commenter is right. What I neglected to do is involve you, the citizenry, in the process. So now, to rectify that, I offer you some choices. Never forget: I love you.Full Story
A few people didn’t like my other flag. I guess, specifically, they didn’t like my WHO CARES? attitude about it. I had all night to think about it, and though it pains me to say it, I have to admit that they’re right. So I spent all morning creating this new flag, took it very seriously, weighed everything I think this city wants and needs and deserves, really, in a new flag, and I really, sincerely hope you love it. Namaste.Full Story
We’re used to it, because this is where we live, where seemingly everyone has a brick house. But Gaile Robinson addresses the matter in the Star-Telegram:
The reason is simply geography and geology. As any gardener knows, our soil is loaded with clay, which is not great for gardening but is excellent for brickmaking. There is a large vein of clay that stretches across the United States from Central Texas, across Oklahoma and Arkansas, and up into Virginia and Maryland.
It has, in varying degrees, the right combination of clay, sand and silt for brickmaking. Within the belt is an ideal band called the Wilcox formation that has no iron in it, making it even better for brickmaking. It runs from San Antonio up to Arkansas. North Texas sits smack in the middle of the mother lode of brickmaking clay.
Most of it is under what the brick manufacturers call “overburden,” a very distressing term for trees, grass and other attractive organic matter.
Once the overburden is scraped off, the clay is removed in a strip-mining fashion that leaves very large terraced pits. Often the clay plays out and the pits are filled, making lakes. Some clay reserves are still producing, though, even after 100 years of mining.
Question: Why is Deep Ellum called Ellum? Isn’t it elm? And what’s Deep about it? — George L.Full Story
Dallas has a brand spanking new ordinance designed to help prevent the midnight demolition of the city’s historic buildings. The Dallas City Council passed a demolition delay ordinance which will force a mandatory review period after a developer files for a demolition permit that will allow the city to double check to make sure that the building is not, well, historic. Here’s how it will work, via the Dallas Wilonsky News report:Full Story
Question: Firstly, thank you profusely for settling upon an inspired new logo for Dallas. You’ve saved the council hours of back-breaking sitting in chairs and taking turns talking in circles. Now, can you help with the city budget? Starting to think we’re in over our heads. — Mike R. et al
Sir, you know that I love this city with the sort of passion which men generally reserve for their wives and their Barcaloungers. It would be my pleasure — nay, it is my duty — to guide you through these troubled times. The very fact that the mayor of the world’s greatest city has been reduced to the indignity of hosting a Twitter town hall meeting on budget matters beginning this evening at 6 p.m. — how ghastly!Full Story
Question: How do you feel about this new logo for your city? Sure, it looks a lot like Plano’s starry P, and Arlington has a star shoved up their A too. But, looking at some of the others, what do they say to people? Irving has horses, Desoto’s eagle is proof of their All-American-ness. Richardson, well, people all over Richardson are trying to figure theirs out. The winner in my book is Addison, which with its jaunty logo, really spells “Party!” What is your opinion on this move? Are we turning into a regional star like Plano and Arlington? Should we keep the branch of nature in our D? Do we need more marketing? And if you have a recipe of two from the 1800’s, I’d love to discuss. — Amy S.
If only the current municipal governance of Dallas had the same wisdom and fortitude of character that you have demonstrated with your query, dear reader, I might could have spared them the wasted time involved in consulting those ne’er-do-wells who prattle on around the old horseshoe each week as to the possibility and probability of replacing the current city logo (the one which comes garnished by a side of parsley) with the star-emblazoned iconography devised by the Convention & Visitors Politburo.Full Story
In an age where many shopping centers have suffered the fate of transforming into community colleges or pseudo-churches, NorthPark Center has seemingly found itself expanding towards ever-greater success. The most significant milestone in its history — the turning point at which the mall transformed to embrace a new era of retail — was its 1.2-million-square-foot, $250-million expansion in 2006.
NorthPark has long striven to cultivate a sense of a community among those who shop its 2 million square feet. Even after bringing more egalitarian offerings (such as a multiplex and food court) into its mix, the mall has continued to choosily curates its store selection — boasting a number of exclusive Dallas-Fort Worth outlets of major brands. Similarly, the mall monitors underperformers, with stores such as Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Hollister, leaving within the next 16-18 months.
As NorthPark prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary Saturday, let’s reflect upon the stores that represent the mall’s strong foundation and those emblematic of its 21st-century evolution.Full Story
Arlington Officer Fired. Brad Miller, the officer who shot and killed Christian Taylor, was fired yesterday for what the police chief there called “troubling” behavior, which led to “cascading consequences” and ultimately Taylor’s death. Cpl. Dale Wiggins, Miller’s training officer, entered the building after Miller that night and thought, when he heard a pop, that Miller must have been using a Taser. Then this: “Upon hearing the pop, Wiggins deployed his Taser. After Taylor was hit with the Taser, Miller shot the suspect three more times.”
Former Arlington Officer Brad Miller Facing Criminal Investigation Arlington Chief Will Johnson also addressed the community, and he says getting fired may be just the start of Miller’s troubles. Because that’s generally what should happen in cases like this: a criminal investigation. Meanwhile, a lot of people are watching.
Lee Harvey Oswald’s Tombstone Is Back in North Texas. It was in a roadside museum in Roscoe, Illinois, which seemed weird. But then I saw some of the other things in that same museum: a Bonnie and Clyde car, the car from Ghostbusters, one of the cars from the National Lampoon’s Vacation series, and the limo that was behind Kennedy’s on the day of the assassination. Whatever. Now the grave marker is back here, “where it belongs.”
Homeowner Shoots Intruder. Kendrick Dickson heard something while he was napping yesterday morning. “I was kind of scared at first,” he said. “I got my 8-month-old little boy here.” Dickson grabbed a rifle and shot the would-be intruder, who left a trail of blood on the way to a nearby convenience store. If there’s a criminal investigation of the shooter here, it probably won’t last long.
Dallas Woman sues Uber and Driver for More than $1 million. The woman who says she was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver a few weeks ago is suing for more than $1 million in medical expenses and damages from Uber, the driver, and the driver’s separate limousine company. The ride-share company says it “mistakenly” issued driver’s privileges to the accused man.Full Story
That pontificating whippersnapper Simek got me thinking yesterday about the fetishism of the past to which a surprising number of you folks cling. A mediocre sub-urban fish joint shuts its doors and that boy waxes rhapsodic about — well, by his own admission he’s not precisely sure what. Lordy!
You want Dallas to return to its imagined heyday of 1906? You soft-shelled ninnies wouldn’t last a minute back then. Why the pungent odors wafting from the great, relatively unwashed mass of humanity alone would knock you flat before you could scamper across Main Street. Even if you could manage the feat, enjoy wiping the paste of dust and well-ground equine excrement from your soles when you reach the other side. And the heat! My god, the heat! No artificial refrigeration to ease summer’s onslaught, no sir.Full Story