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Best & Worst

We in the Best & Worst Department endeavored again to compile an award-winning, mostly error-free, year-end review of the events that have shaped the lives of North Texans, from political blunders to sports highlights to the bes
By D Magazine |

It was again a difficult year for those of us at Best & Worst headquarters. There were the layoffs, of course. That’s never easy. And the accounting scandal didn’t help matters. (Must remember not to state bank loans as income.) Then came the thing about insider trading and the obstruction of justice stuff. None of it helped. But with the Feds on our backs and our staff slashed to just two overpaid, underhanded executives, we at Best & Worst endeavored once more to compile an award-winning, mostly error-free, year-end review of the events that have shaped the lives of North Texans.

And, as happens every year, we agonized most about which newsmaker we should choose to symbolize 2003. Who should go on the cover? It was a tough semiological question. But it was also important to our bottom line. Because let’s face it: our core business is selling magazines. Sure, we dabble in energy trading and overseas currency markets, but the magazine business is what’s going to pull us through these tough times.

So. Would it be Terrell Bolton? Bill Parcells? That guy who shipped himself in a crate from New York to DeSoto? In the final analysis, we decided they were all too, you know, manly.

Then one of us suggested Jessica Simpson. Yes! Now you’re talking newsstand sales! Now you’re talking a healthy bottom line! Her reality show, Newlyweds, was certainly one of the biggest stories of the year. It seemed every week brought another headline-grabbing bon mot from the comely chanteuse, whether she was marveling that Chicken of the Sea was actually tuna or she was declining buffalo wings because she doesn’t eat buffalo. It is true that the pop princess moved away from her hometown of Richardson some time ago, so her story is not exactly a local one. But we think you’ll agree: she’s got boobs.

Life & Leisure

Domestic Arrangement
BEST: Karen and Joshua Watson became the first black family to own a house in Highland Park. Park Cities People broke the news with an article that began, “Guess who’s coming to dinner … and staying for a while?”
WORST: A 54-year-old Richardson woman was taken into custody in October after police discovered that she’d been living with her mother’s corpse. Neighbors said they first noticed a foul smell early last summer.

Using Your Head
BEST:
In an eBay auction, Illinois resident Jeff Nelson sold a 5-inch-square parcel on the back of his head to Bedford-based CI Host. For $7,000, Nelson agreed to have the Internet company’s logo tattooed on his scalp.
WORST: While rebuilding a fence, Roxanne Kirtley accidentally had a nail driven into her skull with a nail gun. Doctors were able to remove the 2-inch nail, along with part of her skull, and Kirtley was expected to make a full recovery.

Zoological Discovery
BEST: In Arlington, UTA student Phil Kirchhoff stumbled upon the remains of a 100 million-year-old duckbill dinosaur, the oldest ever found. The fossil could change textbooks, as it suggests the dinosaurs originated in North America, not Asia.
WORST: In wetlands near the city’s water treatment plant, Denton workers found male fish that appear to be turning into females. The sex change is the result of estrogen from prescription drugs winding up in the water.

Frito-Lay Folly
BEST:
To promote the return of its erstwhile Ruffles cartoon pitchman, Baby Horton, Plano-based Frito-Lay offered a $50,000 college scholarship to the first parents to name their newborn Horton. Horton Chesleigh was born in San Diego.
WORST: A hamster-size mutant Cheeto became an Internet pop-culture star after the man who found the rogue snack put it up for sale on eBay. On CNN, a Frito-Lay executive said, “It’s beyond dangerously cheesy.”

Homecoming
BEST: Less than two weeks after she was stolen from a Flower Mound petting zoo, workers found and returned Feldman, a month-old potbellied pig, to its hay-strewn pen that she shares with her mother, Petunia.
WORST: The nearly 3,000 people who made their way to the Wal-Mart parking lot in Burleson to see American Idol winner and hometown fave < Kelly Clarkson were treated to exactly two songs. One harried mother said, “We spent more time getting here than she played.”

Mourning Wood
BEST: A small house on a double lot near White Rock went up for sale, putting a record-holding tree in the backyard in jeopardy of being felled by new owners. The century-old Southern catalpa is the largest of its type in Texas. But a group of investors led by John Ward bought the property with plans to save the tree, which is nicknamed “Grace.”
WORST: What was thought to be the last American elm in the Park Cities had to be cut down by city workers due to decay. Mayor Harold Peek paid a personal visit to the tree’s owner to break the news.

School Ties
BEST: Jennifer Wu was named valedictorian of Plano West Senior High School, besting salutatorian Sarah Bird’s GPA by .00154 of a point. But after Bird’s parents argued that an athletics course shouldn’t count against her GPA, the girls were named the district’s first co-valedictorians.
WORST: At a halftime show at Hillcrest High School, a member of the Paris High School band ran across the field, waving the Nazi flag to the accompaniment of Deutschland Uber Alles, in a show titled “Visions of World War II.” The performance was on Rosh Hashana.

Overcharge
BEST: After Mesquite Housing Finance discovered an outdated computer system caused accounting errors, about 40 homeowners each received an average of $22,619.
WORST: Denton County’s James Manos is one of three men suing topless clubs for unfair pricing. For each $20 table dance Manos bought with his credit card at Cabaret Royale and The Lodge, $25 was charged.

Prank
BEST: During a break in a game against the Hornets, Mavs owner Mark Cuban got into an argument with a referee and put him in a headlock. The game was on April 1, and the imposter ref was in on the gag.
WORST: As students from Trinity Christian Academy were working on a junked car in a garage as part of a graduation prank, the supposedly gas-less car caught fire, which quickly spread through the house and caused $1.1 million in damage.

Durable Goods
BEST: Using fibers from carbon nanotubes, chemists at UTD created the toughest material known to science, 20 times tougher than steel wires and 17 times tougher than Kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests.
WORST: On opening night of the Lower Greenville club Sugar Shack, the pier-and-beam floor fell about 5 feet, injuring more than 10 patrons. No one was seriously hurt.

Wall Art
BEST: As patrons made their way to their cars after a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson, they witnessed the work of French artist Lucette de Rugy: a giant, computer-like rendering projected onto the side of the building.
WORST: The mural of a nude Eve on the side of a Pilot Point building was a bit too much for some members of the small town. To avoid criminal charges, mural owner Wes Miller draped a yellow banner that read “crime scene” over Eve’s bare breasts.

The Wit and Wisdom of Jessica Simpson

Comely pop singer and Richardson native Jessica Simpson has sold millions of records. But not until she starred with her husband Nick Lachey on the MTV reality series Newlyweds did fans get to appreciate her true, unadulterated genius. So inspiring were her mots justes that she signed a $3 million merchandising deal that may include a line of greeting cards. (Seriously.) Herewith, a compendium of her finer moments:

“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish?”
…while considering a can of Chicken of the Sea tuna
“Is there, like, maids for, like, celebrities?”
…on proposed solutions for the trials and tribulations of housekeeping.

“I’m working on hanging up my towels after I take a shower. And I’m working on putting toilet paper on the, um, I don’t know what it’s called. I guess it keeps us normal and humble.”
…on the trials and tribulations of housekeeping.
“I have bubbles in my tummy. It’s just air. It’s not stink. Promise.”
…defending her flatulence.

“I don’t eat buffalo.”
…after being offered buffalo wings.

“I’m not a good try-er clothes-er on-er.”
…on shopping.

Crime & Punishment

Air Shaft
BEST: Charles McKinley thought he had a good way to save money on his vacation. He shipped himself in an airplane cargo crate from New York to his parents’ DeSoto house. He made it to their doorstep but was arrested after the deliveryman saw him climb out of the crate.
WORST: Two Southwest Airlines pilots were fired for pulling an in-flight prank. A flight attendant summoned to the cockpit to bring paper towels found the two men had taken off all or most of their clothes. They contended that one of them had spilled coffee.

For Love or Money Fallout
BEST: After Paige Jones appeared on the NBC reality series, it was learned that she’d been arrested twice in 2001 in the Dallas area. The first time, she was popped for DWI on the Tollway. Asked by a state trooper if she’d been drinking, Jones replied: “A whole lot.”
WORST: The star of the show, Rob Campos, also has a checkered past. When his Dallas law firm learned that he’d been busted for sexual misconduct during his tenure as a Marine, he was fired.

Quote From a Law-enforcement Official
BEST: A Dallas SWAT team got into a standoff with a gunman that didn’t exist when the building’s occupant gave police bad information about an intruder and the whereabouts of his own gun. Senior Cpl. Chris Gilliam explained: “He has a miscommunication with himself.”
WORST: As Miguel Martinez sat in his parked car in front of Snuffer’s on Lower Greenville, an assailant snuck up and machine-gunned him to death. Said Sgt. Larry Lewis: “For something like this to occur, someone wanted him dead.”

Mayoral Misdeed
BEST:
Balch Springs Mayor James Kelsey chose on principle not to pay a fine for a seat belt violation, opting instead to spend a day in jail. He later said, “I never figured when they first came up with that seat belt law that it was about my safety.”
WORST: Rowlett Mayor Shane Johnson was pulled over for speeding and driving erratically at 12:30 a.m. His blood-alcohol level was .129 percent (the state limit is .08), and a jury later convicted him of DWI. At trial, his attorney argued that his client had simply been sleepy.

Clothing Optional
BEST: Seven girls and one boy of the Duncanville High School band were suspended after a chaperone discovered a video the students made at an out-of-town competition in Corpus Christi in which the girls bared their breasts.
WORST: Nine girls received one-day suspensions from a Kaufman junior high school for wearing blue shirts. The girls wore the shirts on a Monday to protest the suspension of nine other girls who had the previous Friday been suspended for the same offense. School officials cited a rule against wearing gang colors.

Bank Job
BEST:
During a bank robbery in Fort Worth, Frederick McDowell handed a threatening note to the teller that was written on the back of McDowell’s résumé. McDowell had concealed his curriculum vitae by taping a piece of black construction paper to it, which police removed to track him down and arrest him.
WORST: At a Grand Prairie bank, a 14-year-old Irving boy gave a handwritten note to a teller that said he was armed with a grenade. He dropped his jacket during his getaway, the grenade turned out to be fake, and the boy was arrested 10 minutes later.

Beyond the Call of Duty
BEST:
Doctors and high-level donors, who were in town to tour UT Southwestern Medical Center, rescued a bus driver who was being repeatedly stabbed by a man with a ballpoint pen. They calmed the assailant and administered aid to the driver.
WORST: Dr. Carlos Baez, a gynecologist at a Fort Worth federal prison for women, was sentenced to a 14-month term for having sex with inmates.

Protecting the Home Front
BEST:
When two intruders barged into the Far North Dallas apartment of an unidentified 29-year-old man, his wife, and three young kids, the man managed to get to the bedroom, find his gun, and shoot and kill the intruders.
WORST: While responding to a distress call, Highland Park police officer Tom Pritchett’s SUV hit another car and then caromed into the home of Phil and Janet Cobb, who were out having dinner at a restaurant.

Counterfeit Operation
BEST: The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department seized about $250,000 worth of fake handbags from Purse Mart on Harry Hines. The bags included knockoffs of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Kate Spade, Coach, Burberry, Christian Dior, Isabella Fiore, and Prada.
WORST: The Denton County Sheriff’s Department, with the help of the Secret Service and Allen police, raided the mobile home of two brothers, finding 100 fake $20 bills and the materials to make them. An employee at a nearby Sonic had received one of the fakes and called the police.

B.S. Artist
BEST: Matt Boswell, owner of a pet waste-removal business, convinced the Dallas Morning News that he witnessed a man stealing two bags of dung from his pickup truck at a Frisco mall. Boswell later admitted that he fabricated the story.
WORST: Wearing a police raid jacket and bulletproof vest and armed with a gun, plastic handcuffs, and pepper spray, a 44-year-old Southlake citizen “arrested” a man stealing items from a restaurant. When the real police showed up, they arrested the burglary suspect and the imposter cop for falsely identifying himself as a police officer.

Getaway Car
BEST: A 2004 Lexus SUV was reported stolen from a Highland Park residence. The unlocked vehicle was one of four parked in the garage with the keys in the ignition.
WORST: Plano resident and NASCAR fan Boyce Hancock built a barbecue pit to resemble < Dale Earnhardt’s car. Thieves hooked up the smoker to their pickup and pulled it away. “I don’t think they know what they have,” Hancock said. “They’re just ignorant.”

Roadside Attraction
BEST: An Ellis County man found $6,900 along I-35 near Waxahachie and gave it to officials. The county held the booty for 30 days and advertised its discovery, but no one claimed the cash. The man got to keep $6,800 (the original amount minus the cost of advertising).
WORST: Billy W. Dodge, a 48-year-old Frisco man, was arrested after he was seen tossing a pornographic picture out the window of his SUV with neighborhood children in the vicinity.

Fun & Games

All-Star Game Performance
BEST:
Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock was voted into the All-Star game by his peers, and he proved his worth by hitting a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit home run that won the game for the American League.
WORST: When a security guard at U.S. Cellular Field failed to recognize Alex Rodriguez, the Rangers shortstop got angry. “Do me a favor and don’t touch me,” Rodriguez said before showing two forms of ID and making his sixth consecutive All-Star start.

Tear-jerker
BEST: Sportscaster Scott Murray was with the same station (KXAS-TV Channel 5) longer than any sports anchor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He ended his 22-year tenure with a tearful, televised farewell.
WORST: After getting knocked out of the game by Roy Williams, Emmitt Smith, aka the previous year’s “diamond surrounded by trash,” tearfully explained to an inquisitive press that watching his daughter play in a soccer game was what it was all about.

Half Second on February 11, 2003
BEST: With half a second left in overtime, Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov scored to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1.
WORST: Wally Szczerbiak hit an 18-foot jumper from the corner as the buzzer sounded to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves over the Mavericks 100-98.

Swim Fan
BEST: The four girls and one boy of the Ridglea Country Club swim team set a world record when the 13- and 14-year-olds swam for a combined 61 hours, alternating every hour.
WORST: Former Olympic diving judge Wirt Morris was accused of sexually abusing several boys, dating as far back as 30 years ago, when Norris was a diving coach of the Panther Boys Club in Fort Worth.

Broken Streak
BEST: When he won the Valero Texas Open, Tommy Armour III set a record for the third-longest span between PGA Tour victories: 13 years and eight months.
WORST: The 2-0 Stars loss to the Boston Bruins was about 300 seats shy of full capacity, breaking the streak of 238 consecutive sellouts, including playoffs.

Display of Affection by a Cowboy
BEST:
After the Cowboys got blanked 12-0 by the New England Patriots, Bill Parcells tenderly hugged his dear, old friend and Patriots head
coach Bill Belichick.
WORST: The following Monday, WFAA-TV Channel 8 ran a story about how despondent the Cowboys were about their loss. With sports anchor Dale Hansen providing voice-over, tape rolled of a player in the locker room holding his head in his hands. In the background, an unidentified naked player sauntered by, his pigskin clearly visible. The same story was repeated all night on TXCN before the goof was spotted.

War of Words
BEST: Sai Gunturi, a 13-year-old student at St. Mark’s School of Texas, correctly spelled “pococurante” to win the 76th Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.
WORST: When Rangers outfielder Juan Gonzalez took his time coming back from a calf muscle injury, Rangers GM John Hart said, “[Y]ou start to question how much the player wants to play.” Alan Nero, Gonzalez’s agent, retorted, “For the club to publicly call into question Juan’s integrity and his desire to play is the worst sort of character assassination.”

Mark Cuban Using His Head
BEST:
The first 2,500 fans to the Mavs-Nets game in early March received a Mark Cuban bobblehead. Others had to get theirs for $4.99 from Don Pablo’s after purchasing a fajita dinner.
WORST: Mark Cuban was able to look past the lurid details of Kobe Bryant’s rape trial. “From a business perspective, it’s great for the NBA,” he told Access Hollywood.

Gun Control
BEST: While toilet-papering a tree in front of her own school before a big football game, a Bridgeport High cheerleader was hit in the rear with a frozen paint ball shot by a rival Decatur cheerleader.
WORST: When Denton teenagers decided to use frogs as ammunition, their makeshift potato gun misfired. Daniel Berry peered down the barrel, and the gun went off, breaking bones in his face and blinding him.

Action in the Booth
BEST: Broadcaster Eric Nadel celebrated his 25th year calling Rangers games this season. Since he started in 1979, the Rangers have had 14 losing seasons, but they’ve always had a winner in the booth.
WORST: Rangers president Mike Cramer fired Nadel’s partner Vince Cotroneo just a few hours before he went on the air and with 10 games left in the season to broadcast, supposedly because Cotroneo didn’t have enough passion for the cellar-dwelling team.

Eye Candy on the Golf Course
BEST:
LPGA Tour phenom Annika Sorenstam stoked controversy by playing in Fort Worth’s Bank of America Colonial golf tournament. Sorenstam disappointed her vast gallery of supporters by failing to make the cut.
WORST: Shapely Dallas pro Bruce Lietzke finished the U.S. Senior Open with a round of 2-over 73, but it was enough to win. “Bruce’s nickname was perfect today: Leaky,” said second-place finisher Tom Watson. “He was leaking oil and smoke … I think he finished on just two pistons.”

Tuna Helper
BEST: Ron Roland of Plano landed the biggest fish ever caught by rod and reel in the Gulf of Mexico, a 1,152-pound bluefin tuna that took five hours and 15 minutes to bring in to the boat and another six hours to drag to shore.
WORST: In August, New York magazine quoted Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey as saying, “Let’s see how much [Bill “Tuna”] Parcells wins this year. I’ll make him pay when we play them. The homo.” The Cowboys beat the Giants 35-32 in overtime.

Coaching Move
BEST: With a 71-62 victory over rival Poly, Fort Worth Dunbar coach Robert Hughes became the nation’s winningest high school basketball coach. It was his 1,275th win.
WORST: When Jesuit high schooler Kenny Cooper was invited to play soccer for Manchester United, everyone was happy for him except for the man who had just recruited him to SMU. Coach Schellas Hyndman complained to the press: “We could have signed two more impact players if we had known about this earlier.”

Hit by a Cowboy
BEST:
In his vaunted homecoming as a Cardinal, Emmitt Smith had six carries for minus-1 yard, punctuated by a hit from Cowboys safety
Roy Williams that forced Smith to leave the game with a shoulder injury.
WORST: Cornerback Dwayne Goodrich was convicted of criminally negligent homicide after a hit-and-run accident that killed two men.

A Special Best & Worst Editorial: Rowdy Must Go

It is time for Rowdy to go. We have put up with the odious Cowboys mascot since his arrival in 1996. His idiotic grin; his creepy, saucer-size eyeballs; his gay bandanna; his violent signaling that an opponent’s field goal is no good after it has clearly split the uprights—we have suffered it all. When he ran over a cameraman last year with his four-wheeler, we overlooked it.

No longer.

This season, Rowdy crossed the line. In fact, he crossed it during training camp. Bill Parcells kicked the cartoon cowboy out of practice in San Antonio for distracting the players and coaches.

It got worse. When Tex Schramm’s name was unveiled in the Ring of Honor, Rowdy mucked up the ceremony by entangling himself in the drapery. In the process, he disgraced a legend.

But Rowdy wasn’t done. During the first half of a 21-14 win over the Washington Redskins, Rowdy was ejected from the game for standing too close to a referee and mocking him. Rowdy snuck back into the game in the second half and was kicked out yet again.

Enough. Rowdy, you’re a tumor on America’s Team, and you need to be cut.

Politics & Media

Civic-minded Cost-cutting
BEST: When Krum police chief Jim Fletcher found out that his sergeant and patrol officer were getting a raise of only 2 percent, he asked that his salary be cut by $1,926 and the money be meted out to his two-person department.
WORST: Despite a tight budget and a wage freeze instituted by the City Council, the city attorney, city auditor, and the police and fire pension system authorized 22 pay increases.

In the Running
BEST:
Plano Senior High student Justin Nichols ran for a seat on the Plano school board while he was still on the roll books. “The biggest challenge is convincing people I’m not an idiot because I’m 18,” the senior said. He lost.
WORST: After three months and four elections, John Dillard finally beat incumbent Bernetta Henville-Shannon in The Colony’s mayoral election. Henville-Shannon won an earlier runoff, but results were not certified because of her 1979 felony theft conviction.

ROLL WITH IT, BABY: Mayor Laura Miller does Xanadu.

Fun Photos of Mayor Miller
BEST: At the August 21 grand opening of What’s Hot! Fun World, Miller donned a pair of roller skates and was captured on camera in a state of open-mouthed excitement.
WORST: The Republican National Committee asked Miller to “cease and desist” using photos on her web site that show the mayor in proximity to President George W. Bush, because he does not endorse her.

Foreign Relations
BEST: During her two-year stint in Hungary, Ambassadress Nancy Brinker worked to improve health care and health awareness. She ended her self-described “fabulous adventure” with a surprise party thrown by President Ferenc Madl.
WORST: Four days after he was sworn in as ambassador to Belgium, Jeffrey Marcus resigned, citing personal matters. “Family comes first,” he said. Days later, it was learned that his wife Nancy had filed for divorce.

Political Support
BEST: In Fort Worth’s mayoral election, Cathy Hirt received almost half of her $300,000 in contributions from Tex Moncrief, uncle of her opponent—and the eventual winner—Mike Moncrief.
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Photo: Miller: Richard Michael Pruitt/Dallas Morning News