A Daily Conversation
About Dallas

Local News

Leading Off (5/21/18)

| 2 hours ago

Vic Cunningham More or Less Abandoned by Republican Party. The former criminal court judge is in a primary runoff for county commissioner Tuesday. He has been accused — by his mother, brother, son, and former political aide — of a longtime history of racist and bigoted behavior. Among other things: frequent use of the N-word and setting up an irrevocable trust for his children if they marry someone “white, straight, and Christian.” County GOP chairwoman Missy Shorey said: the party “wholeheartedly rejects the racist behavior and language alleged.” You’d think that would eliminate Cunningham from contention, but I mean, come on.

Someone Opened Fire Near DPD’s Central Station in Deep Ellum. It happened Saturday, just before midnight. No one was hurt. Police think the same vehicle was involved in a similar incident at Atmos Energy’s Dallas Service Center, where a security guard was fired upon but not hit.

50 People Treated For Heat-Related Issues at Byron Nelson. Because Dallas has two seasons: summer and not summer.

Baby Giraffe to Make His Debut Today. Witten will meet the public for the first time. If he is anything like his namesake, I expect Witten to slide right into a veteran dad role among the other giraffes and lions and tigers and such very quickly.

FC Dallas Buckles Like a Belt. Despite taking a 2-0 lead deep into the second half, your boys ended up with a 2-2 draw to the Whitecaps, thanks to a penalty kick in the 100th minute. Bru-tal.

Read More

Sports & Leisure

Walking the Links at the Trinity Forest’s Byron Nelson Debut

| 2 days ago

The Trinity Forest Golf Club made its PGA Tour debut this week as the AT&T Byron Nelson got underway. I went out to the course early, eager to see what kind of reactions it was getting from players and fans. Like many, I’ve only experienced the tournament at its former venue, the Four Seasons at Las Colinas, where it had been held for the past 35 years. I’ve attended the Byron Nelson since I was a kid, and loved its old home.

Despite this—and numerous conversations I’ve had in the past few months with golfers and fans lamenting the move to southern Dallas—I was determined to keep an open mind. Perhaps because my expectations were low, I was pleasantly surprised. Trinity Forest, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and developed on the site of an old landfill, was in great shape. I walked Jordan Spieth’s first nine holes (10-18) before the temperature really heated up. The course reminded me of Chambers Bay in Washington, where Spieth won the 2015 U.S. Open.   

It’s a links-style course—rugged and with no trees. It’s different from what most fans are used to, unless they’ve attended some of the majors. Besides the trees, another thing missing from this year’s Byron Nelson are a number of top-ranked golfers, like Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, who lost in a playoff at last year’s tournament and won it in 2010. One of the top players who made it to Dallas is 2017 Masters champ Sergio Garcia. Before teeing off Friday, he took time to visit with Crenshaw and Peggy Nelson, the widow of Byron. 

Read More


New Earburner: The Texas Theatre’s Barak Epstein and Jason Reimer

| 3 days ago

Barak Epstein and Jason Reimer aren’t quite the theater saviors that their success with the Texas Theatre leads many to believe. Theirs is a tough business, renovating a movie house from generations ago, then figuring out a business model that keeps people coming in. As Barak notes, running an indie film on a Tuesday afternoon will only keep your doors open so long.

So the two have been asked to look at every old theater in town—the Lakewood, the Forest, even the shell of the West End Cinema 10—but the jewel of Jefferson Boulevard remains their only terrestrial venture. It takes a lot to make such a place work, to make sure the HVAC system doesn’t come crashing out of the ceiling during a screening. You need support from the developer, the owner, the municipality. The operator almost has the easiest part.

Anyone who’s visited Oak Cliff’s Texas Theatre in the past seven or so years can see their strategy: Movies, yes, but also concerts and Q&As and meet and greets and DJ nights. Themed, often. All in the interest of giving their customers an entire night out. And once a year, they want to give you a whole weekend. Epstein and Reimer this week announced the lineup for their annual Oak Cliff Film Festival, which will take over the neighborhood from June 14 through June 17.

It will open with Bad Reputation, a documentary about Joan Jett that Epstein saw at Sundance and had to have for his festival. It closes with Never Goin’ Back, the debut feature from Dallas filmmaker Augustine Frizzell, which has seen successful runs at both Sundance and SXSW. In the middle, there’s a whole lot of other cool things, including The Passion of Joan of Arc with a live score, an outdoor screening of Hal Ashby’s classic Being There at Better Block, and an in-person appearance from famed documentarian and filmmaker Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization, Wayne’s World) who will be premiering a long-lost 1987 punk western called DUDES.

Head here to learn more about the lineup, and here to buy tickets. In the meantime, Epstein and Reimer came to the Monk to chat about their path in restoring the famed Texas Theatre as well as the forthcoming film festival. Show notes, as always, after the jump.

Read More


Remembering The Knox Street Pub, Dallas’ Home For Counterculture

| 3 days ago

When Sam Wilson acquired the leasehold rights to the old lounge at the corner of Knox and Travis streets on the outskirts of Highland Park in 1967, he took on the project as a lark. He knew nothing about the bar business, but he and his wife, Vi, loved food and drink and entertaining people. They decided to give it a whirl, and what a madcap adventure it turned out to be.

Wilson died at age 83 on April 18. A few weeks prior, he reflected on the decade in the early seventies that he owned the Knox Street Pub (not to be confused with another bar operating under the same name today in a different location). This was the period it became a magnet for artists, writers, actors, musicians, politicians, hippies, college students, and everyday philosophers—folks for which the city of Dallas offered few respites.

In those days, Dallas looked little like it does today in either physical appearance or social structure. Liberal thought tended to be drowned out by conservative ideology, and white culture overshadowed those of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Far fewer people lived here, and it grew mostly by transplants arriving from smaller areas of Texas and surrounding states. Most natives thought of Dallas as a big hometown, not a sprawling urban center.

Few settings in Dallas provided a comfortable atmosphere for the expression of new ideas and opposing views. Those few people who came from the Northeast and other regions found a home at the Pub. Wilson’s open-minded philosophy set the stage for his bar to become a rare venue for local residents who embraced progressive political and philosophical thought. There seemed to be a place for everyone at the Pub.

Reporters approached Wilson over the years about sharing his thoughts on the iconic bar, but he demurred for decades. “I just didn’t want to look back,” Wilson said, weeks before his passing. “I enjoyed having been there and doing it, but I don’t talk about it much.” He finally agreed in his last years to sit down and talk about how it all started as a favor to a friend.

Read More


64 Years After Brown v. Board of Education, Are Dallas Schools Any More Integrated?

| 3 days ago

Got to hand it to the Commit Partnership, the local education nonprofit, for having at least the second best podcast in town. The latest episode of the Miseducation of Dallas County, published Thursday on the 64th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that kicked off the desegregation of public schools, is especially strong, and especially timely as the city is trying more often lately to reckon with the ugly and persistent reality of segregation.

Hosted by Josh Kumler, of Bar Politics fame, the podcast explores how Brown v. Board of Education played out in Dallas, and leads us into the present day, closing with an interview with Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. Its premise, that federally mandated desegregation has failed to create integrated schools, holds up, and it’s worth exploring why.

The podcast features clips from a 1961 “pseudo-documentary” produced by the Dallas Citizens Council and aired the night before desegregated classes began, ostensibly to help what was once the most racist city in America integrate peacefully. But, as Kumler puts it,

…peaceful integration was never really the intention of this massive public relations campaign.  It was, instead, the perception of peaceful integration, conveyed through carefully monitored newspaper editorials, overwhelming police presence, and, of course, a movie, meant to reassure an anxious city that:

“The changing face of Dallas will remain unscarred.”

All this, because the next morning, white elementary students at eight select schools would be joined by eighteen African Americans, all of whom were six years old.

Read More


Is the Share Bike Business Sustainable?

| 3 days ago

To some, the candy-colored ride-share bikes on Dallas’ streets and lakesides (and a few actually in the lakes) are a nuisance. Others see them as a small step toward alleviating traffic congestion. To Rex Thompson, a retired Southern Methodist University finance professor who has considered the business side of the bikes, they’re a “revenge effect” of our financial system and how it’s evolved.

“Aggregating capital allows you to build big things, and that’s good,” he says. “Financial markets also allow someone to make a big mistake. They can aggregate a bunch of capital for a really stupid idea.”

In his studied view, the bikes would be the latter. With low interest rates worldwide, multibillion-dollar pension funds searching for return have piled into venture capital funds, so there’s a hefty supply of capital chasing a limited number of profitable new ideas.

Because it’s relatively easy to make a business out of hooking a bike to a mobile payment system, no one company became the advantaged “first mover” in the free-roving bike-share business. “It’s pretty rare to come out with something where you’re so far ahead that you have years on the competition,” Thompson says. “There are the Steve Jobs stories. How rare are those?”

Thompson says you don’t need an advanced business degree to see how over-capitalized Dallas’ bike-share business has become since last August, when the bikes appeared. Five operators throughout the city—LimeBike, ofo, VBikes, Mobike, and Spin—had between 18,000 and 20,000 bikes in Dallas as of mid-March.

Read More

Local News

Leading Off (5/18/18)

| 3 days ago

The Byron Nelson Tees Off at Its New Home, the Trinity Forest Golf Club. Golf: Still super boring. But drinking outdoors while the sun is shining, rooting for a guy that once lived in roughly the same geographic area as you to excel in athletics, and wringing your hands over whether the debut of a playground for rich white people to engage in the most elitist, environmentally wasteful, prohibitively expensive sport ever created is a good thing for southern Dallas? Classic.

Police Arrest Man in Killing of Transgender Woman. Jimmy Eugene Johnson III, 24, was charged with murder Thursday for the death of Carla Patricia Flores Pavon, 26, who was found unconscious at her apartment in Dallas earlier this month. Police said the killing was not a hate crime, but a robbery turned violent.

Dallas Animal Services Officer Accused of Hurting Kitten. Eric Pogue was charged with cruelty to a non-livestock animal after he allegedly threw a 4-year-old kitten that bit him.

Old Folks Getting Some Nice New Digs. The $1.4 million senior center in Red Bird, coming to you via the city and WellMed Charitable Foundation, will be the biggest in Dallas.

Read More

Commercial Real Estate

Dallas Has More Vacant Land Downtown Than Any Other Major U.S. City

| 4 days ago

Urban infill development is the term given to downtown land, parking lots, or otherwise undeveloped sites that could be repurposed into vertical buildings. Of the country’s 25 largest cities, Dallas has the most urban infill opportunity, according to new research from Yardi Matrix and PropertyShark.

Dallas has 86.4 urban infill acres in downtown, more than every other major U.S. city. Las Vegas, Austin, San Antonio, and Phoenix also had large blocks of vacant land. Across all 25 major metros, 584 acres of developable land, sized .5-acre or larger, exists.

In contrast, Dallas has built more than 8.5 million square feet of real estate since 2013, second only to New York’s 29.6 million square feet.

Read More

Commercial Real Estate

Emerging Details on Downtown’s Newest District, East Quarter

| 4 days ago

Sorry, Tim Rogers. The new downtown district is not called Story. The newly anointed East Quarter, just west of Deep Ellum and north of the Farmers Market, promises an old-meets-new downtown district. In an area of town formerly known for automotive facilities, private and public interests will create a walkable, urban neighborhood with wide sidewalks, restaurants, creative office space, and narrower traffic lanes.

Todd Interests, headed by Shawn Todd, has been quietly (or not so quietly, depending on what circles you run in) buying up historic buildings in the area with investor J.P. Morgan Asset Management for a couple years. Todd Interests is the firm behind the renovation of the old post office at 400 Ervay and One Dallas Center. Today, Todd shared more details about the reinvention of the 1920s-era neighborhood that’s now being called East Quarter. More details to come, but here’s what we learned.

Read More

Sports & Leisure

Mercy Street Adds Soccer Field to West Dallas Complex

| 4 days ago

Mercy Street, the youth-focused nonprofit with a growing sports program, is adding a soccer field to its West Dallas sports complex. In March, Kathy wrote about how the Christian organization had partnered with the Texas Rangers to bring an MLB Youth Academy—baseball fields, classrooms, locker rooms, concession stand, the works—to the facilities at 3500 Goldman St.

FC Dallas must have thought that was a pretty good idea, because the Major League Soccer team and other corporate donors are helping foot the bill for the new field and soccer facilities. They’ll cut the ribbon this morning, good news for the 480 West Dallas young people and 81 volunteer coaches presently signed on for Mercy Street’s sports program, the athletic version of the nonprofit’s model of pairing young people with mentors.

Read More

Leading Off

Leading Off (5/17/18)

| 4 days ago

$1.8 Billion LBJ East Improvements Back on the Table. The Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the Texas Department of Transportation, will send 10.8 miles of I-635 out for bids on May 24. The project would entail full reconstruction and adding one general lane each way, as well as other improvements. Construction could start by late 2019 and would likely be completed in 2024.

Former Richardson Mayor Indicted on Federal Conspiracy Charges. Former mayor Laura Jordan, along with a land developer she married, have been indicted on seven counts, including conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery, and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. She had apparently voted for zoning changes that would allow her now-husband to build a development that most citizens opposed. In exchange, the developer paid her multiple sums. The FBI is investigating. They could each get up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Hoax Caller Sends Police to Home of Arlington Family. A call about a fake shooting to 911 led to 15 cop cars going to the house of a family in Arlington. When the officers ordered everyone outside, they realized no one had been shot and that the call was fake. The family said that earlier they had gotten a call from someone impersonating an IRS employee, who threatened to send the police if they didn’t give the caller money. Investigators are searching for the caller.

Read More