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Pulse OF THE City

By D Magazine |

Is Dallas the Convention City It Claims To Be?



Experts say we inflate our numbers.



IMAGINE OUR SURPRISE: A recent issue of The Economist, a highly respected British magazine, listed the top ten convention cities in the United States, and Dallas was nowhere to be found. We have always been told by municipal types that Dallas was the third busiest locale for conventions, trailing only Las Vegas and Chicago. Have we been misled all these years? Is Dallas a contender or a distant player with suspect numbers?

At stake are more than meaningless bragging rights among big-city bureaucrats. Conventions, trade shows, and business meetings pump billions of dollars into local economies, and cities compete fiercely for these cash cows. In addition. City Hall will likely ask voters to someday approve millions of dollars in bond funds to expand the Convention Center from its current capacity. If Dallas is losing the convention wars, why increase capacity when the demand isn’t there in the first place?

So what’s the truth? Well, that depends on whom you ask and how you ask it. Ask Greg Elam, spokesman for the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, and he will tell you, “Dallas is a major convention city. It’s in everybody’s first tier. It is within anybody’s list of the top five cities in America for conventions.”

But The Economist premised its article on an annual survey conducted by the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, which dismisses Dallas because it doesn’t trust our figures. “Dallas has never been included,” says Rick Carollo, the author of the survey. “It wasn’t an oversight…. If they say they have three million visitors then their numbers seem inflated.”

Carollo maintains that as the convention business got more cutthroat, Dallas began including attendance figures from public shows (auto, boat) that attract local rather than out-of-town dollars.

But Greg Elam claims that no public shows are included in the Dallas numbers. “We only measure discovered money, from people coming to town who otherwise would not have been here.” He also maintains that the Chicago survey is skewed against Dallas because it only counts space in municipal convention centers and hotels. Dallas, with only 800,000 square feet of convention space, ranks behind similar facilities in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York. But that ignores an additional 750,000 square feet in the Market Center, says Elam, “and their figures are clearly part of our attendance.”

While Carollo concedes that Dallas is one of the top 10 convention sites, he hopes to avoid all future controversy by hiring an outside auditor. Until then, Dallas is definitely considered in the big time, but only time will tell how big.

-Roger Witherspoon

INTRODUCING AMERICAN’S NEW UNFARE



American Airlines-Defender of the Wright Amendment, Guardian of the Monopoly, Keeper of the Hub-has been doing what it does best: milking its home-court advantage and racking up runaway profits in the process. The following are round-trip fares on American Airlines, with New York’s La Guardia Airport as the J destination. And why would American gouge the very place it calls home? Because it can.



No Cowboys Allowed

Banned bar tries to tackle its own image problems.



WHEN JBRRY JONES BEGAN HIS IMAGE crusade, he decreed that no player shall ewer again frequent one place and one place alone: the Cowboys Sports Cafe. But why single out this innocuous sports bar located in a Valley Ranch strip mall? Should it bear sole culpability for the sins of the team and be forever cast out as a place to see and be seen?

Owned by four former Dallas Cowboys, the sports cafe became a favorite mecca for players seeking solace from the pressures of practice. A According to general manager Shawna Fransen, “It was a place where they could relax a id be themselves.” Fransen insists that the cafe’s anti-Cowboys edict had nothing to do with the fact that one of the owners, A fredo Roberts, was me other man present at Michael Irvin’s now infamous cocaine and sex-toy motel party.

Apparently this was part of the problem, at least for Jerry Jones, who was eager to show that he was getting tough on off-field iniquity. In July he told the media, before telling restaurant management, that his Boys were banned from the place where some players knew they could always find booze, bimbos, and Dennis Pedini.

Since the announcement, the sports bar has seen about a 30 percent decline in revenue. ’”To say we are upset with Jerry Jones is an understatement,” says Fransen. “He portrayed us as a drug-infested, sex-oriented business. And that’s just not right. We cater to families.” Regardless of whether the characterization was out of bounds, many patrons came as much for the chance to get up close and personal with superstar jocks as they did to munch on a Barry’s Bacon Burger or Nate’s Nachos.

“We were singled out as the only place that grown men can’t slay out of trouble,” she says. “He didn’t tell the media they (the players) couldn’t go to strip clubs. It’s OK for them to be with half-naked women, but they can’t come here and play pool.”

Meanwhile, the Cowboys Sports Cafe still caters lunches at the team’s nearby practice facility and is trying to rebuild its image without the likes of Irvin, Erik Williams, Shante Carver, and others.

The football season has helped bring back some of the cafe’s clientele, but even a packed house during the Cowboys Monday night opener couldn’t shake the feeling that things had changed. At the bar stood a balding man in an Emmitt Smith jersey who was making small talk with a twentysomethingwomaninatanktop.”Do you come here often?” he asked her.

“Not as much as I used to,” she said.

-Dan Michalski

Got You Covered



New insurance offers gun owners even more protection.



I HOPE HE DIES ! ” DECLARED EAST DALLAS convenience store manager Kenneth Berlin last September after he shot a fleeing bandit in the back of the head with a 9 mm semiautomatic. “If he doesn’t, I have to won y about being sued….”

Well fret no more, Mr. Berlin. Cottonwood Insurance Agency of Fort Worth wants to take the worry out of justifiable homicide. Foi as little as $199 a year, you too can buy an insurance policy that will give you piece of mind after you blow away a bad guy in s self-defense.

Accidental shootings are often covered by homeowners insurance, says Cottonwood preside it Gary Ray. Insurance companies will pay if a burglar breaks into your home and the gun you aim at his head mistakenly goes off in all the excitement. But what if you’re away from home? Or you really do wan ; to kill the burglar? A lot.

“The use of deadly force is an intentional act,” says Ray. His company’s liability policy now offers insurance protection when those who have been gunned down by an intentional act (or their families) decide to pursue their case in court. Cottonwood is the first company in the country to offer this unique opportunity to the 140,000 licensed gun owners across the state. Two coverage limits are available: $100,000 and $300,000. The policy will also reimburse for fees expended on criminal defense attorneys. However, the insurance company will deny coverage if acrim-inal case results in conviction.

That’s called murder.-M.D.

KKK Changes Name…Finally

KOON KREEK KLUB RESPONDS TO BAD PRESS.



One hundred years after the founding of Koon Kreek Klub-and three months after 0 chronicled its goings-on in our June issue-Koon Kreekers voted to change the name to the Coon Creek Club. The reason? Members, tired of deflecting claims that the klub-turned-club has ties to the Ku Klux Klan, finally reached the conclusion that the name had become politically incorrect.

“We are a group of businessmen in Dallas who like to hunt and fish, and we have no political agenda,” says Daniel Mahoney, vice president of the newly christened Coon Creek Club. “We didn’t want the name to indicate we were offensive to anyone.”

The club, with a $40,000 initiation fee and membership that reads like a Who’s Who of Dallas, has suffered a public relations nightmare from the day William Henry Gaston and Jerry Nash purchased the land outside Athens. For reasons as unclear as they are controversial, they bastardized the spelling of the existing Goon Creek which runs through the property.

Lest anyone think the descendants of some of Dallas’ oldest families maintain ties to the Klan, members voted at a meeting held in September at Brook Hollow Golf Club to embrace the modem age. -Kimberly Goad


FBI Mole Has Secret Life in Piano



Movie based on undercover agent’s lift! omits his Texas ties.



MAYBE YOU SAW DONNIE BRASCO when the movie opened in Dallas last February. It’s an amazing true-life tale of an FBI agent who goes undercover in 1977 and spends the next four years infiltrating a New York mob family. Johnny Depp plays Brasco, the agent turned mole who gains the confidence of wise guy Al Pacino.

Few people realize that while the undercover Donnie Brasco was married to the mob, the real-life Donnie Brasco was married to a woman in Piano. Until 1981, Joe and Peggy Pistone lived with their three daughters in Piano, as much a part of this “All-America” community as soccer moms, football dads, and JCPenney. During the week, Joe consorted with New York racketeers who would shake down, maim, and murder to keep their crime family flush. On [weekends he attended Piano pep rallies and football games, where two of his daughters were cheerleaders.

But nobody in Piano had a clue that Pistone had a secret life. “We knew Joe was employed by the FBI and that caused him to travel a lot,” says Piano resident and friend Ted Dickey. “But that’s all we knew.”

Still, Pistone looked as if he had answered a casting call for a small-time mobster. Dark complected with slick, jet black hair, he grew up in an Italian neighborhood in New Jersey where he learned to say “forget about it” with the same authenticity as the Mafia kids on the block.

When the story first broke in the press about his underworld escapades, his Piano friends considered him a local hero. The sting operation exposed the powerful Bananno crime family and netted over 100 convictions in one of the largest Mafia busts ever. Of the two Mafiosi closest to him, one went to prison ( Al Pacino’s character), and the other was found dead with his hands cut off. But the investigation took its toll on Pistone’s family, all of whom had to enter the Federal Witness Protection Program, shedding addresses and identities as if they were clothes.

Mafiakingpins still have a $500,000 contract on Pistone’s head, but that doesn’t seem to stop him. He made a cameo appearance in Donnie Brasco and brazenly attended the Hollywood premier of the film. He has granted numerous interviews to promote the movie (always in disguise) and seems to hunger for publicity, as if to taunt underworld types to come and get him.

In the early 1980s, Ted Dickey received a phone call from Pistone, who said he needed a favor. His daughters were getting their names legally changed, and he wanted Dickey to tell the judge why the proceedings needed to be conducted with the strictest secrecy. Dickey helped his friend and Pistone later phoned to thank him-hoped their paths would someday cross again. But just in case there are any shadowy men in shark-skinned suits scouring the streets of Piano, Dickey wants it known: “That was the last conversation 1 ever had with the man.”-M.D.

Did Another Dallas Cowboy Do Wrong?

Lawsuit claims Kevin Williams assaulted former girlfriend.



CALL KEVIN WILLIAMS THE COWBOY who got away. Not in the sense that he used to play for Dallas and he now plays for the Arizona Cardinals. No, Williams is the: wide receiver who left town before he cou Id have his turn as the prime suspect of yet another Cowboys scandal.

It’s not to 3 shocking that Williams’ predicament i wolves a civil lawsuit, nightclubs, and a woman. But it is surprising that the plot never unfolded before the public- until now.

In June 1996, Gina Grant of Dallas filed a civil case against Williams, seeking nearly $100,000 in damages suffered when Williams allegedly assaulted her. Grant claims in papers filed in the case that she dated William s for six months but her problems began as the relationship was ending.

On December 22, 1995, Williams threatened to embarrass her over the announcement system at the Iguana Mirage nightclub, says Grant, and ordered her to leave. In January 1995, while al the Filling Station on Greenville Avenue. Williams allegedly pushed Grant and shouted obscenities at her. More of the same occurred the following January, says Grant, when Williams struck her in the ribs and threatened to kill her.

Williams’ attorney Cary McDougal says he and his client “vigorously deny” all accusations. Not only was there no assault, says McDougal, there was “no relationship whatsoever” between Grant and Williams. “1 would even hesitate to say they ’met’ in bars,” says McDougal. “In fact, she approached him.”

Grant’s only comments on the case were to say that she isn’t “doing this for the money” and is worried about media exposure since she works as a “publicist.” No trial date has been set at the time of this writing, but a mediation has been scheduled for the parties to resolve their dispute.

Cowboys spokespeople aren’t saying if Williams’ courtroom drama had anything to do with his contract not being re-signed this season. And no one will confirm if Williams’ situation was dealt with under the guidelines of the new Cowboy Cleanup Act. But if they had known about the suit, says Cowboys PR man Rich Dalrymple, they wouldn’t admit it: “That’s not something anyone would comment on publicly.” -Sara Peterson

YESTERDAY



KLIF: The Mighty 1190 on Your Dial



WHEN KlIF HIT THE AIR-waves on November 9, 1947, it was the only radio station in Dallas with a Portuguese parrot doing station IDs, which should have clued competitors. Twenty-six-year-old Gordon McLendon, who billed himself as the “Old Scotsman” to mask his inexperience, literally turned things upside down on his way to capturing 40 percent of the local audience. (To mark the arrival of a new deejay, the station placed overturned junk cars along Dallas freeways carrying “I flipped for Jimmy Rabbitt” banners.)

McLendon built Liberty Broadcasting System into the second largest network in the country by hiding spies among major league baseball crowds to sneak the game action back to the studio. Future mayor Wes Wise helped put by tapping a pencil on a bat to imitate the sound of base hits.

When the station moved to the triangular building at Commerce and Central Expressway, McLendon installed a sexy blonde model wearing a skin-colored swimsuit and lounging on a billboard platform overlooking the freeway. The sign on the billboard: “All I have on today is KLIF.”

In the ’50s, when broadcasting observers were predicting the demise of radio at the hands of television, Mc-Lendon pioneered the Top 40 format, the radio jingle, on-the-airedi-torials, the bumper sticker, and the mobile news unit. The voices of KLIF deejays such as Russ Knight {the “Weird Beard”) and Irving Harrigan (alias Ron Chapman, now with KVIL) were as familiar to Dallas teenagers as the mumbling of Fats Domino. The station created havoc in 1954 by dropping money from the windows of the Adolphus Hotel. Later, avid listeners tore up the town looking for $50,000 hidden in a Coke bottle, Much to the relief of the FCC and the Dallas police, McLendon sold the station in 1971 for more than S10 million.

-Tom Peeler

Fact Check



SALSA IN THE CITY



Year that salsa surpassed ketchup as America’s favorite condiment: 1991



Number of years chilies have been a primary ingredient in Mexican cooking: 9,000



Number of people in the Dallas market who have used salsa in the past six months: 1,108,000



Percentage of salsa-using households where Spanish is spoken: 5



Year in which the Scoville Organoleptic Test for the spictness of peppers was invented: 1912



Number of Scoville units for an average jalapeno pepper 3,750



Number of Scoville units for an average habanero pepper: 250,000



Number of Scoville units for an average Dr Pepper: 0



Rank of “mild” among the fastest-growing categories of salsa: 1



Rank of Dallas among the top 64 U.S. markets that prefer hot salsa: 21



Rank of San Antonio among the top 1(4 U.S. markets that prefer hot salsa: 2



Types of identified chilies and peppers growing worldwide: 7,000



Types of identified chilies and peppers usually available at Jerry’s Supermarket an Henderson in the month it September 16



Pounds of fresh peppers used to manufacture one year’s worth of Pace Picante Sauce and Salsa: 30 million



Pace Picante Sauce’s ranking in Tom Thumb’s total salsa sales: 1



Bunches of cilantro the Crescent Club adds to a gallon of Pace Picante to make it their signature party salsa: 3



Number of salsa recipes in Stephan Pyles’ recipe file: 98



Number of gallons of salsa on the daily prep list at Matt’s Rancho Martine: 10



Number of Internet websites found by Yahoo! for “salsa music”: 41



SOURCES MEDIAMARK RESEARCH INC . PR NEWSWIRE ASSOCIATION INC . PACE FOODS: FOGERTY KLEIN & PARTNERS PUBLIC RELATIONS

LEMASTER OF DISASTER: a damage control scorecard



Doctor of Spin Lisa LeMaster has boon busy of late, controlling damage and retooling images for those locals who find themselves embroiled in scandal. Her dance card seems full as she tries to put a positive spin on disasters of other people’s makings. As spokesperson, publicist, master of the prepared statement, she must make nice with frenzied media types who often circle her clients like sharks in bloody water. Here are a few of her more notable customers-a LeMastercard on her most recent PR encounters.



FOR THE RECORD



COURTHOUSE CONVERSION



“He (Deion) seemed to find the Lord after I took his deposition for two days about his girlfriends.”

Comments of Mike McCurley, divorce attorney for Carolyn Sanders, after Deion went public about wanting God in his life more than a Nike endorsement.



SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL



“These are the kinds of stories that make ’60 Minutes’ come to your city.”

Remarks of school trustee Hollis Brashear regarding allegations that DISD superintendent Yvonne Gonzalez had sexually harassed the district’s chief financial officer, Matthew Harden Jr.



AND DAMN THE REST OF YOU



“This is why I wish I had my own damn money for my own damn district.”

Councilman Don Hicks complaining that cliques forming within the council have conspired to deny his budget request for repairs within his own damn district.



WHEN DRAG RACING IS A DRAG

“You want to be known as the car not to mess with. I’m one of them. It took me a while to get there. Now I got there, and it’s boring.”

Comments of Dallas street racer Ron Behr before deciding to hang up his wheels and end his illegal racing career.



PLAYING THE RACE CARD WITHOUT A FULL DECK



“What’s the race? If he is not African-American, we are definitely opposed.”

Thomas Muhammad, DISD protester, voicing his objection to the announcement that trustees had just appointed Dr.

James Hughey acting school superintendent. Dr. Hughey is white.



TROY! HE MIGHT WANT YOUR JOB NEXT



“But there is something in me that would like to coach…. “

Comments of Jerry Jones regarding his desire to coach the Dallas Cowboys. Jones is already the owner, general manager, and chief spokesman for the team.

Topless Bar Gets Personal

Morality maven the target of Caligula prank.



As Pulse reported in September (“Scene;, from the Squalor Squad”), civic gadfly Bill Simpson has been videotaping the license plates of customers frequenting strip clubs and sending notices to their homes warning of the supposed social ills inherent in their pornographic patronage. Although his tattletale tactic has had little effect on discouraging business, it has caused one club to retaliate in kind.

In August, Caligula XXI printed up fake license plate covers for its customers bearing the tag “WSL 76F” – Bill Simpsons very own license plate number. And adding to the offensive, Caligula aired frequent radio spots on 0ll ? FM promoting the stunt.

“I just think it’s really funny,” says Dawn Rizos, an owner of Caligula and other area strip joints. “Dallas is a little tired of Bill Simpson and his silly causes.”

Does she fear this move could escalate the battle against her business? Not at all. In fact, records kept by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission indicate that revenues have been increasing steadily for area topless bars ever since Simpson and his anti-skin activists began to focus public attention on the issue.

Some patrons may have actually put the license plate covers on their cars, but Simpson had the good sense not to send notices to his own home.-D.M.