The Mouse That Roared
Dallas Children’s Theater battles for a new home in the Arts District.
FACING THE LOSS OF THEIR HOME, those masters of make-believe at the Dallas Children’s Theater took on the role of political activist and began lobbying City Hall to secure a new facility within the Arts District. But by pushing its agenda, DCT has shaken up the major players in the drama for a new downtown performing arts center-the Dallas Opera and Dallas Theater Center-who worry that DCT’s efforts might jeopardize passage of an arts initiative on the May bond election. At stake, they claim, is more than a home for any one arts group, but the very future of the Arts District in Dallas.
The Children’s Theater had known for years that its home on Cedar Springs Road was only temporary. So when its landlord. Rosewood Properties, recently informed DCT that it was actively seeking a buyer to develop the theater’s site, the theater began to scramble. “We have an urgent need for a facility,” says DCT founder Robyn Flatt. “We have to be on a fast track.”
Armed with a strong capital commitment from its patrons, a nationally acclaimed reputation, and a politically attractive message about bringing theater to children, DCT set upon its plan to secure a new $25 million home in the Arts District where it could avail itself of public/ private partnerships and matching funds from the city.
But last March, Ray Nasher’s decision to build his new sculpture garden adjoin-ing the Dallas Museum of Art created a resurgence of interest in the Arts District, whose supporters suddenly began to mobilize after years of dormancy. Arts organizations large and small worried they might be left out of a master plan for (he district. The race for space was on.
In April, a nonprofit group spearheaded by opera board member John Dayton and calling itself the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts commissioned Theater Project Consultants Inc. to conduct a feasibility study to determine how the Arts District could accommodate the performance facility needs of the various arts groups within the city, In September, the consulting group recommended the development of a performing arts center-a multi-use facility to be shared by the Dallas Opera, the ballet, the Dallas Theater Center, and other smaller dance, theater, and artistic groups. Excluded, however, was the Dallas Children’s Theater, its year-long season making it impossible to share space with other groups.
Undaunted, DCT continued to lobby the City Council, asking for $9 million in the next bond election toward its $25 million theater. Throughout September and October, board members appeared at town hall meetings across the city, hoping to persuade city officials and voters that DCT’s need to get on the bond ballot was a matter of life or death.
Opera officials worried privately that DCT’s campaign would erode support for its performing arts center. The Opera planned its counterattack, enlisting its own powerful board to attend several of these same town hall meetings, hoping to convince the populace that they were not elitists, but part of a more democratic arts movement capable of sharing the future center with smaller arts groups.
In early October, Mayor Kirk called upon DCT and performing arts center advocates to reach a compromise. What was needed was a united front, one bond initiative for all the arts under the banner Arts | District Now.
On Oct. 7, all parties met with Arts District Coordinator Howard Hallam, and an agreement was hammered out. DCT and the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts agreed to scale back their initial bond requests and to instead jointly ask for $ 18 million. The money would be earmarked foil the first phase of a performing arts center (mostly infrastructure and land acquisition) as well a ; actual construction costs for a new children’s theater in the Arts District.
DCT had muscled its way into the Arts District, its tenacity helping to ensure its existence. If the City Council approves the agreement and the voters approve the bond package, the lesson for small arts groups is clear: In the Darwinian struggle for public money! only the politically savvy survive. -M.D.
Whatever Happened to…Trini Lopez?
IN 1960, WITH 200 BUCKS IN HIS POCK-et, Trinidad Lopez Jr. said good-bye to Dallas-the only home he’d ever known. He drove to Hollywood in a Chevy station wagon that had “Trini Lopez and his Combo” painted on the side. (He and his guitar were the “combo.”) At 23, Lopez had agreed to join the Crickets, the backup band for the late Buddy Holly,
After two months in California, the Crickets weren’t making any money, their partying was out of control, and Lopez figured it was time to go solo. He sang regularly at Pi’s, the hottest club in Los Angeles, where Frank Sinatra discovered him in 1962. After that, it was nothing but fortune, fame, and folk rock for the man who became known as the “Mexican Elvis.”
Movie directors even created a singing role for Lopez in The Dirty Dozen, which turned out to be MGM’s biggest monevmaker in 1967. Lopez played the cheery-faced, guitar-strumming prisoner named Jimenez, but his movie career was cut short by an impatient Sinatra, who wanted him off the set and back in his recording studio. “Frank told me, ’You gotta go,’” remembers Lopez. “So they killed me off early.” Jimenez was originally meant to live through the whole film instead of dying in a freak parachuting accident.
Unlike his American counterpart, the “Mexican Elvis” is alive, and there are frequent Lopez sightings in Palm Springs, Calif., where he moved in 1981 to “semi-retire.” Lopez, now 60, says he’s been busy working on a new album that was released this month by BMG Records. It features digitally improved versions of four of his hits-“Lemon Tree,” “If 1 Had a Hammer,” “La Bamba,” and “This Land is Your Land.” And to celebrate, Lopez is spending Christmas in Dallas with his brother and three sisters who still live here.
The Latin pop pioneer has lived a quiet life over the years, but he did make headlines recently over a relationship scandal. In Oc-tober 1995, Lopez’s girlfriend of seven years, Rose Mihata, twice accused him of beating her. Criminal charges were filed and Lopez testified that it was she who hit him-not the other way around-because he refused to marry her. The jury believed him, and in July 1996. Lopez was acquitted. Lopez has managed to stay a life-long bachelor and has no children. “I’m not the marrying kind.” insists Lopez, “but please tell all the beautiful girls in Dallas I’m still looking.”-Sara Peterson
From the Department of Hypocrisy
AN OCT. 3 VIEWPOINT column in The Dallas Morning News op-ed. pages seemed a modest proposal. “When spouses are at war. the chief casualties are their kids,” says the author. “The key to protecting the children of divorce is persuading parents to step back from their own anger….”
Well who could argue with that?
Only a go-for-the-throat divorce lawyer whose zealous representa-tion of his clients’ rights might interfere with what is in a child’s best interests. On y a family lawyer whose exorbitant bilable rate of $400 an hour becomes another weapon for embittered parents to wage war on each other. Only one of the to > custody lawyers in town, a pit bull in the courtroom who is sought by rageful spouses out to inflict as much financial and emotional damage on the other as possible. That would be Mike McCurley, a pugnacious Dallas attorney, a master of cross-examination, and the author of the Viewpoint column.
Has McCurley changed his spots? “Divorcing parents, however, aren’t the only ones responsible for helping children of divorce,” he writes. “We all bear responsi- bility. Lawyers, judges, grand- parents, friends, and bosses.” Is this article his mea culpa, his admission that there is a better way to practice divorce law-one which promotes settlement, mediation, and peace? Or is this article merely a PR job by a savvy promoter who has been honored by his peers as the new president Of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and just wants the city to know about it?-M.D.
Paycheck Peeking on Nonprofit Execs
’T is the season to give to your favorite cause, but don’t let the word nonprofit fool you. Some of our most caring charities return big|bucks to their big brass. Pulse searched the list of the top 400 national charities, which Includes seven area nonprofits.
Here’s how their presidents and executive directors stack up. These income figures include handsome benefits packages. We aren’t saying these folks don’t earn their keep, but imagine how much they’d be earning if their organizations were actually making a profit.
Pearl Harbor Day: The Enemy Within
THE DAY AFTER THE ATTACK ON Pearl Harbor 56 years ago this month, Mayor Woodall Rod-gers promised that Dallas would not be caught napping. That same day, seven of die 10 known local residents of Japanese ancestry were arrested, most in a roundup at the Cotton Exchange Building, but the police promised there would be no rest until all had been incarcerated. During the diligent pursuit of the missing three the police also arrested several resident!; of Chinese, Korean, and Filipino heritage. One of the victims of the dragnet, whose family had migrated to Hawaii in the 18th century, reminded the local constabulary that his people were on the receiving end of the sneak attack. Another was a U.S. soldier suspected by Police Inspector Will Fritz of having parachuted into enemy territory in the guise of an American G.I. When a dark-haired woman suspected of being a German citizen was picked up, her husband, who was bom and raised here, was also arrested for “smart talk.”
Sheriff Smoot Schmid announced that Dallas County would contribute its hoard of confiscated slot machines to the local scrap metal drive. Breaking tradition, the sheriff also decided that the jail kitchen would not serve turkey to the prisoners on Christmas Day since they shouldn’t be eating better than the troops in the trenches. The city jail, however, continued its practice of releasing “drunks, dope addicts, and petty offenders” at dawn on December 25th. None of the “enemy aliens” were affected by either decision; all were transported to an undisclosed destination to be dealt with “administratively.”
In another knee-jerk reaction, SMU canceled a production of “’Madame Butterfly” it had been rehearsing for weeks, considering it unseemly to portray a Japanese female as a heroine and an American naval officer as the villain. John Rosenfield, arts critic for The Dallas Morning News, in an appropriately restrained lament, suggested that Bach and Beethoven could be on the endangered list as well.-Tom Peeler
On the Front Lines of the Fur Wars
Protester says she was assaulted by Neiman’s security.
SECURITY GUARD RODNEY LEWIS didn’t earn employee-of-the-month honors for his extra effort, but he did ensure that Neiman Marcus’ 90th Anniversary would be memorable when he allegedly beat up anti-fur protester Lydia Nichols, a woman who weighs 115 pounds to his [230. As a result of the altercation, Lewis got arrested, Neiman’s got sued, and die retailer became the target of choice for animal-rights activists nationwide.
With fur making a strong fashion comeback this winter, anti-fur protesters have upped their activism, reorganizing into smaller groups like Animal Liberation of Texas, which Lydia Nichols helped found. Nichols had been previously arrested during last year’s picketing of Macy’s in Dallas for criminal trespass. Antifur activists believe they are the reason 15 Macy’s storesj(including Dallas) no longer carry furs, and Nichols hoped for the same result at Neiman Marcus.
She was on|s of four people handing out leaflets in fr0nt of Neiman’s downtown store on Sept. 27. Her propaganda-toned fliers pictured the face of a wet-puppyish fox and claimed Neiman Marcus didn’t want the public to know that animals are “gassed, anally electrocuted, and even have their necks broken so they can fill their stores with fur-trimmed coats.”
According to Nichols, Rodney Lewis was sitting outside monitoring the protest. In a previous Neiman’s picketing, Lewis had acted friendly toward Nichols but this time, she says, he asked her, “Has anybody ever been hurt during a protest?”
After Nichols told him no, she and her boyfriend J.P. Goodwin decided it was time to leave. As they drove away, says Nichols, Lewis trailed them in a Jeep Cherokee. Nichols got out of the car at a red light, demanding to know why they were being followed, insisting she be given a piece of paper that had their license plate number scribbled on it. When she reached inside the car to grab it, Lewis rolled up the window on her arm.
Seconds later, as Lewis abruptly got out of his car, Nichols’ hand was freed by the jolt from the door opening. Nichols says that Lewis then punched her in the face, knocked her to the ground, and kicked her as she laid on the sidewalk. Witnesses at a nearby bus stop watched the incident. The police arrived within minutes, arresting Lewis and carting him off to jail.
Neiman’s has refused to comment but does acknowledge that Lewis is still an employee. A spokeswoman also declined comment on anything related to animal rights protesters, saying she feared it might make Neiman Marcus more of a target.
That already seems to be the case. The altercation sparked animal rights protesters in California to redirect their activities away from Bloomingdale’s and toward Neiman’s. And despite a mild concussion, Lydia Nichols remains ever the zealot for her cause. She is the Dallas coordinator of “Fur Free Friday,” a nationwide protest of animal rights groups who locally have scheduled another Neiman’s demonstration on Nov. 28, the busiest shopping day of the year. “It’s all about persistence,” she says. “If we can keep up the pressure, we should be able to take Neiman’s out of the fur business very soon.”-Dan Michalski
WILL YVONNE GET PEN TIME?
Pulse asked criminal defense lawyer Stuart Parker to help us figure out how much prison time, if any, ex-superintendent Yvonne Gonzalez might face come January. After cautioning us that any computation would be a rough estimate, Parker took us through the federal sentencing guidelines that will be used by Judge Jorge Soiis.
“Guidelines are determined by calculating a group of factors which rank the offense and the offender,” explains Parker. “The final number gives you an ’offense level’ which tells you how much time a defendant may be looking at.”
Because she bought herself a lovely $16,279 bedroom suite paid for by your tax dollars, Gonzalez pled guilty to misappropriation of property which has a “base offense level” of four. Because she embezzled between $10,000-$20,000, tack on another five levels. With design decisions so difficult to make these days, her conduct probably took more than a “minimum level of planning.” So add two more levels. This gives her an initial offense level of 11, but we’re just getting started.
It doesn’t help that Gonzalez committed her crime while school superintendent. She gets upped two levels for abusing her position of trust. Maybe Gonzalez wasn’t thinking clearly when she asked her assistant, Freda Jinks, to cover her tracks. Add two levels for obstruction of justice. Gonzalez does get a little credit for accepting responsibility for her behavior. Because she pled guilty, she drops two levels.
This leaves her at a total “offense level” of 13 and, because she has no criminal history, puts her within the sentencing guideline range of 12 to 18 months.
The judge can still go higher or lower, if presented with a good reason. “Gonzalez can only be guaranteed one thing,” says Parker. “She won’t get more than the 10-year maximum.”
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
Basketball and horse racing are two sports where height-or the absence of it-clearly makes a difference. We compared two of our local favorites, Mavericks center Shawn Bradley and Lone Star Park jockey G.R. Carter Jr., to see just how different.
LOCAL FRUITCAKE DEBUNKED
● Miles from Dallas to Corsicana, fruitcake capital of the world:
● Miles from Corsicana to Weisbaden, Germany, origin of Collin Street’s Deluxe Fruitcake recipe: 6,000
● Number of Collin Street Bakery fruitcake customers in Dallas: 6,803
●Number of Collin Street Bakery fruitcake customers in Fort Worth: 4,264
● Total pounds of fruitcake produced by Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana during the Christmas season: 4 million
● Combined number of fruitcakes made during holiday season by local bakeries Le Gateau Cakery, Sweet Endings, ST Bakery & Cafe: 0
● Pounds of fruitcakes baked during Christmas season at the Hotel Crescent Court: 1,440
●Number of fruits in most fruitcake recipes: 4
● Ounces of dates in Mrs. Weatherby Carr’s fruitcake recipe in the 1976 Dallas Junior League Cookbook: 16
● Ounces of mini-marshmallows in Joy Wyse’s fruitcake recipe in the 1996 State Fair of Texas Cookbook: 16
● Number of outlets Mary of Puddin Hill (the fruitcake-famous Greenville bakery) opens in Dallas during the holiday season: 4
● Total number of fruitcakes Mary of Puddin Hill sells in the Dallas-Fort Worth area: 14,000
● Pounds of fruitcake each Mary of Puddin Hill store stocks: 750
● Pounds of fruitcake Mary of Puddin Hill makes in a batch: 90
● Year archaeologists believe fruitcake was first eaten, if not enjoyed, by the ancient Greeks: 300 B.C.
● Months of shelf life of the average commercial fruitcake if left un-refrigerated: 4
● Number of years a fruitcake is edible if moistened periodically with bourbon: 25
ONE MURDER STREET: IF ONLY THESE FOUR WALLS COULD TALK.
You try not to gawk as you drive by, but you can’t help but wonder: that’s the house where she was murdered. What realty happened there, in which room, and why? And how can anyone live there now?
Was the house unsellable? The deal too good to pass up? Pulse decided to ask these questions of the residents of five homes where brutal, high-profile crimes occurred.
FOR THE RECORD
HER CUP RUNNETH OVER
“I had one glass of wine, maybe two, sipping it through dinner, a business dinner.”
Evangelist Leigh Tilton, estranged wife of evangelist Robert Tilton, explaining why she was arrested for driving while intoxicated one week before lier divorce was to be finalized.
REPORTS OF HIS DEATH ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED
“He told a 911 operator he had been murdered, beaten, possibly kidnapped, and thrown down on a bed of spikes…. It was obvious he hadn’t been murdered.”
Comments of Denton police Lt. David Wright concerning a man who reported his own murder. The man was charged with making a false report.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SPAM
“Well no, to be honest about it, Spam isn’t bad if you cook it. But right out of the can?
Spam Cook-Off winner George Yates admitting his true feelings about the delicacy that garnered him top honors at this year’s State Fair.
THE PUNISHMENT FITS THE CRIME
“We don’t have any jobs in financial management here.”
Comments of prison officials on die day that ex-councilman Paul Fielding began to serve his 41-month sentence for fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion while acting as a partner in a financial management business.
AND THE WILL OF JERRY JONES
“Things like this just don’t happen. By the grace of God this has occurred.”
Recently baptized halfback Emmitt Smith, remarking about his brother. fullback Emory Smith, signing with the Dallas Cowboys. When Emory received the locker next to his, Emmitt saw this as a continuation of a week of blessed events.