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Pulse

Rich boys with fast cars, the best book reviewer in town, mystery cigarettes, MTV rumors, at home with Al Lipscomb, the woman who makes Austin Powers say, "Yeah, Baby!" and more.

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In Other News …
Top-Secret Cigarettes
Denton’s
Patriot Tobacco Co. doesn’t advertise, doesn’t have a sign at its
factory, and doesn’t even want to answer the most basic of questions.
After politely taking our phone messages for a month, the receptionist
at the only local cigarette manufacturer that we know of finally said
owner Alex Hamani didn’t want to talk. About anything. If you’d like a
pack of Patriots, try knocking on the door of their beige, metal-clad
building at 1210A Duncan St. in Denton. Or ring them at 940-566-3517.
The Latest Rumor
Mockingbird
Station is cool. So cool that residents and retail workers have been
talking for months about MTV moving in to shoot its next installment of
The Real World. The network purportedly reserved two penthouse lofts.
Everyone can relax. MTV officials say, as of press time, Dallas isn’t
even in the running. They would neither confirm nor deny that
Mockingbird Station was cool.
Warning: Satire Ahead
A
Dallas Observer news story that was actually a satire of a news story
is still making news. New Times, the parent company of the Observer,
recently lost a Fort Worth 2nd Court of Appeals decision—a rare win for
libel plaintiffs. The story in question, published in late 1999, was
about a fictitious 6-year-old girl who was incarcerated for writing a
book report on Where the Wild Things Are. The article included made-up,
profanity-laced quotes from Denton County District Attorney Bruce
Isaacks and Denton County Juvenile Court Judge Darlene Whitten.
Basically, the court ruled the story was too believable—and unfunny—to
be considered satire. “That verdict was totally f—ing bogus,” said
Observer editor Julie Lyons, in a quote that we completely fabricated,
because it is a known fact that Lyons is a teetotaling, non-swearing
Christian.

Book Lover
One man’s drive to be the most helpful reviewer on the planet.

Everyone’s
a critic. Robert Morris is a better critic than most. In fact, the
Dallas man is the fifth-best critic in the country, according to
Amazon.com’s Top Reviewers. The online bookseller (and electronics
seller and …) encourages readers to share their thoughts and then
allows other readers to vote on the helpfulness of those thoughts.
Morris is number five out of nearly 375,000 people who have reviewed a
book for the site.

Morris,
66, has written more than 600 reviews, about one or two a day for the
past two and a half years. The consultant and adjunct English professor
at Eastfield reads 25 to 30 books a week, using a system, he says, that
takes advantage of light traveling faster than sound. “It’s not
speed-reading. I want to make that clear,” he says.

He
says he likes to give the reader a synopsis of the book, but not so
much information that reading the book would be unnecessary. To be
sure, he sends his work to the books’ authors and often incorporates
their suggestions. As Morris explains, “Ken Blanchard [author of the
One-Minute Manager series] says, ‘Feedback is the breakfast of
champions.’”

Morris
has a degree in comparative literature from Yale, but he mostly reviews
books of the business variety. He litters both his conversation and his
reviews with quotes from the likes of Mahatma Ghandi and Sir Isaac
Newton. In his critique of Martha Inc.: The Incredible Story of Martha
Stewart Living, he cited Walt Whitman.

Still,
a business-type person eager to learn the latest management techniques
can pick up a lot from his 500-word reviews, and Morris views himself
as a resource for the MBA-set. For instance, to get the full benefit of
How to Collect Debts (And Still Keep Your Customers), Morris advises:
“First, re-examine all of your thoughts and feelings about accounts
receivable.”

Choosing
his favorite book would be like picking his favorite grandchild (he has
seven), and writing a negative review would be out of his character.
“If I can’t give it a four- or five-star review, I don’t give it a
review,” he says. “As my Swedish grandmother used to say, ‘If you can’t
say something nice … .’”

$28 million – Amazon.com’s net loss for the first quarter of 2002

—Adam McGill

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Women On Top

Nina
Kaczorowski’s last name gives us trouble. So we’ll just go with “Nina.”
The former Dallas model got her acting start as a townsperson alongside
Billy Bob Thornton in A Simple Plan. Alas, her scene ended up on the
cutting room floor. But her talents didn’t go unnoticed. Auditions for
Pearl Harbor, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Coyote Ugly led to
roles in each. And later this month, you can catch Nina playing a sexy
henchwoman who does battle with Mike Myers in Austin Powers in
Goldmember. “I got to play with guns and shoot people,” she says. “It
was so much fun.” So far, she says, the role has been the highlight of
her career. “I got to work with Michael Caine. I mean, come on. What
more can you ask for?”
—Kristie Ramirez

 

Q&A

GLORIA CAMPOS is an anchorwoman for WFAA Channel 8. September
will mark her 18th year of service at the station. In the May “sweeps”
Nielson ratings, KXAS Channel 5 beat Channel 8 in the 10 pm newscast
battle for the first time since 1987 (not including the Olympics).

D Magazine:
Given the news that you were beaten by Channel 5, edged out in the 10
o’clock broadcast for the first time in a long time, do you think it
would help if John McCaa shaved his mustache?

Gloria Campos: [laughs] Are you serious? [guffaws] Are you serious? No, I don’t.

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How Does Kidd Kraddick Taste?
“Crispy-crunchy,” according to the Dallas Chocolates menu.
     
Chock-Full-O-Knox
named after Cafe Pacific’s Jack Knox
Kidd’s Crunch
named after Kidd Kraddick

Mimi Loves Fudge
named after Mimi Lay Hodges

Marilyn
Auger is white chocolate and roasted macadamia nuts. Norma Myers is
chocolate, caramel, and pecans. That’s according to
manicurist-cum-chocolatier Zel Nealy, owner and proprietor of Dallas
Chocolates. Nealy not only does nails at The Mansion on Turtle Creek’s
salon, but the certified chocolatier also bakes bonbons and names them
after some of her clients and other Dallas socialites. In return for
naming rights, Nealy donates portions of the proceeds to the charity of
the chocolate celebrity’s choice. Nealy sells her chocolates through
just one retail outlet so far. To get your hands on her goodies, visit
the Cultured Cup in Addison (972-960-1521). Or go get your nails done.

Photos by Abel Sanchez

FOR THE RECORD
“It’s inexcusable.”
—Dallas
County Commissioner MIKE CANTRELL, on an auditor’s finding that Justice
of the Peace Cleo Steele had $27,028 in undeposited cash and checks in
his court, along with 403 pieces of unopened mail, some of it three
months old.

 

FIRST PERSON
by Tim Rogers

At Home With Al
Two
years ago, a federal judge confined Al Lipscomb to his house. In his
first interview since, he reveals a lot of himself—literally.

Al
Lipscomb invited me over to shoot the breeze, I suspect, so that I’d
stop calling him every week, asking to be invited over to shoot the
breeze. But five minutes into our meeting, sitting in his kitchen, I
can tell he’s warming up to me. The man drops his plaid shorts and
shows me his bare ass.

Here
is Al “Big Daddy” Lipscomb, still bigger than life. The last two of his
77 years on God’s green earth have been spent confined to his
1,200-square-foot home in South Dallas, wearing an electronic ankle
monitor, as part of a 41-month sentence for taking bribes while he sat
on the City Council. Besides his high blood pressure, asthma,
arthritis, enlarged prostate, irregular heartbeat, torn retina, and
diabetes, he’s got two new hips. He’ll show you the scars.

Al’s
general state of disrepair is the main reason the judge sent him home
rather than to jail. “Anything is better than walking an 8-by-6,” Al
says. “I thank God that I’m able to be here today, that I am at home.
Because I would be dead if I were in the penitentiary.”

I
keep trying to get Al—I call him “Mr. Lipscomb”—to tell me how he
passes the time, and he keeps showing me more scars. It’s like that
scene on the boat in Jaws, only much more one-sided. “Goddoggit, man,
looky here,” he says, pulling up his shirt to reveal what years of
insulin injections have done to his belly (and arms and thighs). Then
there’s the permanent discoloration around his ankle where the bulky
monitor rubbed him raw. They cut off that monitor only two days ago and
replaced it with a smaller, wrist-worn version. Now the old one sits in
a KFC bag, waiting for Al’s parole officer to come pick it up. “I
thought I was going to get to keep it as a souvenir,” he says.

At
length, he gets around to how he spends the day. Al reads the paper. He
rides his stationary bike, which today is covered with folded laundry.
He watches a little TV. Al says he’s partial to Six Feet Under and The
Best Damn Sports Show, Period. And he gets a fair number of visitors.
Al shows me pictures, taken in his house, of James Earl Jones and Dick
Cheney.

And,
as it turns out, Al is allowed to leave the house twice a week. For the
past couple of months, he’s been going to Bible study on Wednesdays and
church on Sundays. “After church, everyone goes to Luby’s,” he says.
“But I got to boogie home. I got caught in traffic coming home once.
Man, I panicked, just about.” If he doesn’t make it home in time, an
alarm sounds at his house and a monitoring company calls to check on
his whereabouts. This is exactly what happened when he ran up the
street to help a neighbor who had fallen off a ladder while putting up
Christmas lights.

“But, hell,” he says. “I’m not going to Canada. What in the hell is a 77-year-old man going to do in Canada? Good grief.”

We’re
interrupted by the doorbell. “Top of the day, sir!” Al calls, and a
uniformed police officer that he knows joins us in the kitchen. He’s
got a bag of potatoes in one hand and a watermelon over his shoulder.
He says the chief sent them over. I assume “the chief” is Terrell
Bolton, and I assume the cop is off duty.

By
then it’s time for me to leave. Al asks me to stay and eat a late
lunch, and I’d like to, but I have a previous commitment. He walks me
to my car.

“I’ve
been vacillatin’ and digressin’ and moving all around the mulberry
bush,” Al says. “I got carried away. I guess I’ve been waiting for
someone to talk to.”

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