To quote John Oliver, “F*ck you 2016!” Two friends lost their mothers. My wife’s doubles tennis partner got bumped up to a 4.5. My doubles partner broke up with her girlfriend. I made the mistake of briefly going blond-ish. I gained 35 pounds or so drinking at my desk. My cat died. There was that election. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things.
Should we reminisce? Probably not. But here’s to you for tuning in to FrontBurner, day after day, week after week. You could have just stayed in bed, but you didn’t. You stayed in bed and checked the feed on your phone. So, as meager thanks for that, here’s a look back at some of your most-viewed posts of 2016.
The Real Housewives of Dallas Episode 1 Recap
By Tim Rogers
We go back to Cary, who is preparing for a trunk show at her house. LeeAnne shows up with Tiffany. And then, suddenly, there are so many white women drinking champagne that I can’t keep track of them all. They are in the kitchen. They are in the living room. Brandi or Stephanie or someone else whose name ends in “ee” says something about defecating when she gave birth. LeeAnne looks on disapprovingly and delivers a line that is pretty amazing. She says this: “It’s a little Plano in here.”
That, my friends, is a burn. No one else in the country will get it. But it’s pretty awesome. Unless you live in Plano. How else might we use this construct of LeeAnne’s? Next time I’m at a trunk show where ladies have overserved themselves and are acting boorish, I’m going to say, “It’s a little Sachse in here.” I don’t even know what that means. But I like it.
One Picture Sums Up Everything Stupid About Dallas Urban Design
By Peter Simek
Look at that photo again. I mean, is that a picture of a city that knows how to do anything? Is that a picture of a city you want to live in? Is that a picture of anything but a stupid city? We try to have intelligent conversations about our city, about urban design, public transit, highways, streetscapes, density, yadda, yadda. There are a load of smart people who are actively engaged in trying to make Dallas better. But when I see that picture above, I think of them and it makes me feel a little, well, dejected. Like, what’s the point?
Today Is Not Most Days
By Kathy Wise
Dallas is my city.
Today it is a crime scene.
I check with Google Maps before I leave my house to figure out how to get to the office. Twenty or so blocks are closed. My map is awash with red.
I cross the Trinity, still bright green from all of the rain, and head down Riverfront to the triple underpass. All traffic is diverted north on Houston, the western perimeter of the scene. The traffic lights are flashing red and yellow. Police cars randomly line Commerce and Main in zigzag diagonals, flashing red and blue. At the DART tracks I pass a single black officer standing beside his vehicle. Stopped at a flashing red light, I am crying. I try to make eye contact, to give him some sort of signal of support. Like what? A wave? A hand over my heart? But he is staring off into space.
Chief David Brown comes on the radio. I used to work with him. “We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is this must stop. This divisiveness between our police and our citizens.” I cry more.“Dallas police officers and DART police officers are some of the bravest men and women you’d ever want to be associated with. You see video footage after video footage of them running toward gunfire, from an elevated position, with no chance to protect themselves. And to put themselves in harm’s way to make sure citizens can get to a place of security. So please join me in applauding these brave men and women who do this job under great scrutiny, under great vulnerability, who literally risk their lives to protect our democracy. We don’t feel much support most days. Let’s not make today most days.”
Today is not most days.
‘I Did This Alone’: Dallas, Lone Gunmen, and Hijacking of American History
By Peter Simek
In America — perhaps uniquely in America — a bullet offers a powerful ticket into the nation’s historical record. Perhaps the first in the modern era to buy entrance into history this way were a couple of lovestruck poor hillbillies from West Dallas named Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose bank-robbing shooting spree earned them cult status in the nation’s early tabloids. And there has been no bullet-inflicted twist of fate in America quite as total as the one taken after a deranged, wannabe Communist demonstrated in Dealey Plaza the almost magical capacity of a single bullet to shake history to its bones and bring a nation to its knees. In Lee Harvey Oswald and Bonnie and Clyde, Dallas offers America the two perverse prototypes in which violence gives the purposeless the romance of charge and the powerless the delusion of agency.
We don’t know yet the full story of the man who is being identified as last night’s shooter, but we do know the history of shooters. We know the hollow feeling that follows the mourning and the awful confrontation with the reality that the story of mass shooters is always banal and cliché and never measures up to the weight of the loss and the suffering they inflict. We know that shooters, like the white supremacist who shot up a South Carolina church, may believe they have a purpose, but that purpose is washed out by the impotence of violence to inflict anything but pain. Mass shootings are apolitical actions, symbolic acts without signifiers, senseless aggressions which, by their own nature, point nowhere beyond the shallow, narcissistic mind of the shooter.
That is why shooters need media like oxygen. Bonnie and Clyde’s newspaper clippings, Abraham Zapruder’s super 8-mm, and, today, ubiquitous cell phone footage: the mirror of media offers the only possible purpose in the act. Otherwise, it is only just exactly what it is – simply murder, merely carnage for its own sake.
The Leadership Lessons of David Brown
By Glenn Hunter
In one of the toughest jobs imaginable — police chief of a major city — during one of that city’s greatest crises ever, David Brown has provided a textbook lesson in leadership. Calm and cool, resolute and steely-eyed, candid and courageous and humble and compassionate, Dallas’ top cop has been pitch-perfect in handling an outrageously tragic and evil situation. How ironic that, just months before, critics were calling for the chief’s head. Thank goodness that, when push came to shove, Mayor Mike Rawlings and others didn’t knuckle under to the whining.
From the get-go last Thursday night, Chief Brown has exhibited true leadership. Even as his officers and others were being shot at on the streets of Dallas by a twisted monster, the chief, with Rawlings by his side, communicated the situation clearly to an anxious public. At the same time, he was helping concoct the bold plan that would eliminate the threat.
Then, over the next few days, he spoke tough truths plainly. The police don’t feel supported in their communities, he said. Society dumps its problems on the backs of cops, he added, and unreasonably expects the police to solve them. Then, in a stroke of pure genius, he challenged the protesters whose march over events in Minnesota and Louisiana touched off this maelstrom: “We’re hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in. And we’ll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about.”
Today, the politicians are preparing to say a lot of pretty words at the Meyerson about this Dallas crisis. But no one will have more credibility on the topic — especially with the families of the fallen — than the police chief who led us through it with grit, honesty, sympathy, humility, and grace. I’m not an especially religious person, but God bless David Brown.
Eddie Bernice Johnson Punks Paul Ryan
By Peter Simek
Depending on which version of America your Facebook feed corrals you into living, you may — or may not — have seen Paul Ryan’s now infamous selfie of the latest crop of Republican Capitol Hill interns. The image, which Ryan claimed set a record for the most #CapitolHill interns in a single selfie, was ridiculed for its incredible, well, whiteness. Regardless of your political persuasion, you have to admit that the image is striking for its lack of diversity. If I were a Republican strategist with a keen eye on the shifting demographics of the country, it would be the kind of photo that would give me night sweats — that is, after having drunk myself into a blackout in a Cleveland hotel room with the shades drawn, doors locked, and television unplugged.
Retired Mailbox Is Now Art
By Zac Crain
If you work or live downtown, you have no doubt noticed one or two disused mailboxes. I know there is one along the DART line, and there is also the one I have photographed here, the most prominent, on Ervay. I’ve seen it for years, and always — yes, always — have chuckled at the “NOT FOR US MAIL” painted on it. Why they don’t just remove it, I’ll never know, or at least won’t try terribly hard to know.
At some point, as you can see, a comma has appeared, either by gradual degradation or some enterprising soul. Now it reads: “Not for us, mail.” There is even a hint of a rusty smile above it, representing sort of a hard-won wisdom. It is a breakup letter — to letters. It is beautiful. I love it. I hope it stays as is forever.
To My Horror, The Real Housewives of Dallas Will Get a Second Season
By Tim Rogers
I am not inclined to recap the second season. How not inclined? I once made a bet with a friend. He said that the reason prisoners put a bar of soap in a pillowcase and beat someone with it is because it doesn’t leave a bruise. I told him how stupid he was. We bet $20. To prove I was right, I let him hit me as hard as he could in the thigh with a bar of Dove in a pillowcase. It hurt so much that I teared up. And, of course, I won the wager. I’d rather get hit in the ass with a bar soap in a pillowcase than recap season two. And I mean hit every week. No exaggeration.
Why I’m Not Shaving My Legs for the Charity Event of the Year
By S. Holland Murphy
Best title. Best photo.
In recent weeks, as backers have advocated for the Cotton Belt, we have heard again arguments based on the logic that has shaped DART into what it is today. DART, we are told, is a way of driving growth, connecting member cities, and reducing traffic on highways. But today the council heard from many of its residents who want DART to be about finding ways to get around Dallas more easily, efficiently, economically, and ecologically.
And the council responded by adopting a resolution that represented nothing less than a complete sea change in its attitude and approach towards public transit. Dallas essentially reminded DART that it is a public transit agency and should provide decent public transit.
The council’s resolution, while representing a monumental shift in policy, is essentially only a statement of desire. Ultimately it will be up to Dallas’ representatives on DART’s board of directors, as well as direct conversations with transit agency officials, to ensure that DART follows Dallas’ new and clearly stated objectives. But the vote was an indication that the city of Dallas may finally be willing and able to start holding DART accountable to the most essential aspect of its mission: providing rapid transit.
KDGE Is No Longer Your Music Alternative
By Zac Crain
KDGE, as you have known it since 1989, is dead.