A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Health & wellness

Keep Your Zen Up This Holiday Season

| 34 mins ago

Daniel Sunshine has a present for you. In fact, the man with an aptronym has two: the gifts of gratitude and calm. As the director of mindfulness at Dallas Yoga Center, his job is to help people learn to live well and happily even while circumstances conspire against them.

Mindfulness as a practice is on the verge of a mainstream phenomenon, Sunshine says. What was once relegated to the woo-woo corners of the world is now a business model, with places like Dallas Yoga Center in Oak Lawn, The Refuge in Deep Ellum, and Dallas Meditation in Carrollton and Plano bringing a more palatable, science-based approach to the general public. “Once science got involved, mindfulness could no longer be categorized as weird or unproven or religious,” Sunshine says. It’s meditation for the masses, and the time has never been more right.

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New EarBurner: Evelyn Mayo Knows How to Prevent Another Shingle Mountain

| 37 mins ago

Over the summer, as I was reporting a column on Shingle Mountain, I met Evelyn Mayo for coffee. We talked zoning and land use. I was curious as to how a multi-story tall pile of shingles had come to be located next to the home of an incredibly kind woman named Marsha Jackson. Mayo had been investigating this very thing. Southern Dallas, her team found, is zoned for a patchwork of industrial uses. In some cases, these are next to homes, which exist on land that may not be zoned residential at all. A paralegal with Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Mayo was in the process of researching all of this for a report she titled “In Plain Sight.”

It uses Shingle Mountain as a lodestar, arguing that the city’s land use policies and zoning created far more vulnerabilities than just the lot next to Marsha Jackson’s home. Mayo and her team went looking for violations of zoning regulations and found a path that basically takes you along the banks of the Trinity River, from West Dallas—former home of lead smelters—all the way down to the city’s southern border near Hutchins, not far from Shingle Mountain. Another hot spot exists further east, in Pleasant Grove. These violations include everything from lacking a certificate of occupancy to industrial activity being too close to homes.

This report, which was published last month, is being offered to neighborhood associations around these vulnerable areas. Some include pockets of homes that aren’t correctly zoned residential. That means, say, a shingle recycling operation could open up next door and the homeowner would not have the same sort of protections as someone who lived in an area zoned single family. That’s Marsha Jackson’s conundrum: her home is zoned agricultural. So she didn’t get a formal review process before the industrial use began. The company behind this, Blue Star Recycling, told a judge that it ran out of money and can’t afford to quickly remove the pile. So now there’s something of a stand-off, and Marsha Jackson is stuck breathing in the particulate matter from the shingles that’s flowing in through her vents.

Evelyn Mayo, a paralegal with Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. (Photo courtesy Downwinders at Risk)

The report gives the neighborhood associations something of a toolkit. It encourages residents to call 311 when they think they see a violation near them. (Bizarrely, however, the report notes that “it is up to the discretion of the inspector as to what extent the background research is conducted on the site.” Which means they’re not always aware of current zoning when they show up. That’s a policy fix.) It’s also asking the City Council to re-zone some of the areas to prevent such establishments in the future, and, in particular, eliminate the patchwork zoning that creates opportunities for things like Shingle Mountain.

This is why we asked Mayo to come onto EarBurner. And then we wound up talking about Roller Derby and James Harden. Listen below.

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Literary Dallas Comes Together After Tornado

| 45 mins ago
Kathleen Kent far left, with Samantha Mabry, Ben Fountain, Will Clarke, and Harry Hunsicker at Wild Detectives in 2018) will be part of the panel now at The Writers Garret.

Interbang Books was supposed to host Writing Workshop Dallas’ quarterly LitTalk panel this Wednesday. First of all, it’s still happening, and it’s a good one: Alex Temblador (an occasional D Magazine contributor and author of the YA novel Secrets of the Casa Rosada) will moderate a conversation about “Demystifying the Writing and Publishing Process” that will also include Kathleen Kent (New York Times best-selling author of The Dime), Brooke Fossey (The Big Finish, coming this April), and A. Lee Martinez (the Constance Verity trilogy). I am a big fan of process talk.

As most probably know by now, Interbang was destroyed by the tornadoes that hit North Texas on October 20. So, instead, the panel will now be at The Writer’s Garret at 1250 Majesty Drive. But! Interbang is still involved: they’ll be selling books by the writers on the panel and they’ll be making an announcement regarding their new location on West Lovers Lane.

All good things.

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Get Ready for the Bitter Cold, Dallas

| 5 hours ago

Today is the sort of Texas day that requires a lunch-time wardrobe change. As I write this, mid-morning, the temperature sits at a comfortable 62 degrees. By rush hour, an oncoming cold front will plunge temperatures into the mid-30s.

Although the overnight freeze (expect a low of 27 tonight) is not great, it’s sharp winds that will make this short but mighty front so brutal. Gusts could reach 40 miles per hour or higher, enough to pierce whatever light jacket you might’ve chosen after walking the dog this morning in quiet reflection about the mild fall weather. The winds are expected to move the wind chill into the low teens overnight.

While these temperatures are a nuisance for many of us, they are dangerous for the city’s homeless. And to prepare, the city is opening up the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center as an overflow shelter. It’ll open tonight at 5:30 p.m. and close Wednesday morning at 7:30.

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DFW Airport Really Is the Region’s Economic Engine

| 5 hours ago

It’s a well-worn local business truism: DFW International Airport drives the North Texas regional economy. But hidden inside the statement is a kind of chicken-and-egg conundrum. Is DFW Airport the reason why the region’s economy has grown so much in the forty-plus years since its opening, or does the region’s strong growth support the thriving international airport?

That’s essentially the question taken up by a paper that was published in the Journal of Urban Economics that analyzes the impact of the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act on airline service and regional economies. The paper wished to determine whether airports were the cause of successful regions’ strong economies (and smaller regions’ struggles), or whether airports were successful because the regions within which they were located were already economically strong.

According to CityLab, the paper’s authors found that after deregulation, airlines shifted traffic to major centers, resulting in a sharp decline in airline traffic for small and midsize metro areas, and a boom for large MSAs:

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Sports & Leisure

Why Were We Being Shown Coach K’s Thoughts on Dak Prescott’s Face?

| 6 hours ago
Is this the face of a winner or the face of a rodent? You can say “both.”

During the Cowboys-Vikings game last night on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, there was a curious interruption that, as far as I can tell, was never properly explained. Al Michaels threw it to a video clip, seemingly filmed for this occasion, of Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, aka Coach K, aka a noted bad person, talking about how Dak Prescott has “the face of a winner.” That was basically the entire point of the clip. Some questions:

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A Dallas History Lesson Miranda Priestly Would Love

| 6 hours ago

My awakening to Dallas fashion history was not unlike the famous “cerulean scene” in The Devil Wears Prada, in which editrix Miranda Priestly icily schools the bumbling Andy on the complex lineage of her blue knitwear. However, my Miranda was not a pursed-lipped dragon lady, but rather a well-spoken fashion nerd named Annette Becker, the director of UNT’s Texas Fashion Collection. She is the kind of person who geeks out over, for example, the retro relics and advanced technology used in Todd Oldham’s digital prints.

Looking back, I guess I was something of a lumpy-sweatered Andy when I first approached the story, which was published online today. My plan was to produce a simple photo feature with a sampling of the collection’s 20,000-odd items. Big pictures, pretty clothes, small captions. Easy enough. But sometime during my second tour of the TFC with Becker, as she expounded on the background of the pieces, I started to wonder if, in this case, a picture was actually worth a thousand words.

I mean, we could take a beautiful photograph of the intricate applique on a Lilli Wolff dress, but that didn’t explain that the Jewish seamstress had picked up her theatricality working as a costume designer before being forced into hiding during the Nazi regime. Wolff eventually rebuilt her life in Dallas and found happiness as a Baptist.

As I began my own research on the garments’ designers and donors, my photo captions were shaping out to be … not so caption-y. I sent my editor, Kathy Wise, a series of messages apologizing in advance but, holy cow, Victor Costa was such a character—a Dallas-based designer who turned high fashion knock-offs into an art form in the ‘80s but was essentially run out of town in the mid-90s when a sexual harassment lawsuit accused him of gossiping about his well-heeled clients (he now lives in Houston).

I promised to keep the other captions to a couple sentences.

But, you know what, the story of the three Dallas sisters who invented maternity clothing and launched a multimillion-dollar empire in the days when working women were usually confined to a secretary’s desk just didn’t quite work in a two-sentence structure. Plus there was a thing about tranquilizers and yoga that I couldn’t not include.

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Local News

Leading Off (11/11/19)

| 10 hours ago

Cowboys Lose. The running game was (technical term coming) garbage all night, and yet when the game was on the line, for whatever reason they ran basically the same running play twice in a row. It didn’t work. The ‘Boys are 5-4. [insanely good Fine Young Cannibals voice]  “They’re going 9 and 7 (woo woo) / This is a mess (woo woo) /9 and 7 / and they can’t help themselves.” Anyway.

Cold Front Coming. I was playing tennis in shorts yesterday. This weather is wild. The city is opening an emergency shelter at the Convention Center.

Atatiana Jefferson’s Father Has Passed. The family has been through an unbelievable amount. Wishing them the strength to make it through.

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How Dallas Saved Fashion History

| 16 hours ago

One of the most valuable fashion collections in the nation is housed inside a dusty orange building in Denton, next to the counseling office at the University of North Texas. The structure is little more than 4,500 square feet of concrete and cold air, but its cultural cachet is irreplaceable. The Texas Fashion Collection contains everything from 18th-century coats to modern-day Alexander McQueen dresses, maternity gear to streetwear, couture treasures to home-ec experiments. There are bridal gowns, lingerie, and ceremonial ensembles from indigenous cultures. Accessories include nearly 1,400 pairs of shoes, 2,500 hats, and 750 handbags. Altogether, there are almost 20,000 pieces.

The trove of designer labels includes 387 designs by Hubert Givenchy, 301 by Oscar de la Renta, 151 from the House of Dior, and an impressive 340 by Cristobal Balenciaga. It is believed to be the largest holding of the designer’s work in the world aside from Balenciaga’s own archive.

The seeds of the collection were planted by the Marcus brothers—Stanley, Edward, Lawrence, and Herbert Jr.—who began gathering 20th-century styles, some say, in the late 1930s. They named it in honor of their aunt, Carrie Marcus Neiman, upon her death in 1953. She co-founded Neiman Marcus with their father and had donated pieces from her wardrobe. The brothers made a point of keeping the collection in Dallas, though offers came to take it east. It eventually was put in the care of the Dallas Fashion Group, which bestowed what was then a few thousand garments to UNT’s fashion design program in 1972 to serve as a resource for its students. It has since become a resource for artists, authors, and curators near and far.

Vogue’s Hamish Bowles has visited. So has Akiko Fukai, curator of Japan’s famed Kyoto Costume Institute. André Leon Talley borrowed pieces when he was putting together the posthumous Oscar de la Renta exhibition, as did the Kimbell Art Museum for last year’s blockbuster “Balenciaga in Black.” The Dallas Embroidery Guild recently took a tour, and designers from Dickies stopped by to study denim styles over the decades. Last year, about 3,500 people accessed the collection for one reason or another.

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Local News

The Mayor Selects an Ethical Czar

| 3 days ago

Eric Johnson, Dallas’ mayor who came under scrutiny for taking a job with a high-profile Dallas law firm just a few months after campaigning on fixing the city’s ethics problems, selected a head of ethics reform Friday. Attorney Tim Powers gets the honor.

As the so-called Ethics Czar, the Haynes and Boone Managing Partner will helm a small “working group” to take a complete look at the city’s ethics code. Powers will also be in charge of selecting the members of that group.

Our city has seen its fair share of ethical mishaps in recent years. Former City Councilman Dwaine Caraway is currently serving a four and a half year prison sentence for taking $450,000 in bribes and kickbacks related to bus system Dallas County Schools. Former Councilwoman and the late Carolyn Davis pleaded guilty to accepting $40,000 from affordable housing developer Ruel Hamilton before she was killed by an intoxicated driver.

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Dallas History

Tales From the Dallas History Archives: How Latino Communities Shaped the City

| 3 days ago

Historical images of politics, social activism, and community organizing help illuminate the ways in which the Latino community strives to make Dallas a better city with each passing decade. Dallas Public Library’s Dallas History and Archives Division has photos depicting numerous aspects of Latino life in Dallas spanning generations, many of which are available to view in the library’s online catalog.

See how Latino Dallasites played roles in larger historical events. Learn more about Dallas neighborhoods such as Little Mexico, Los Altos, Eagle Ford, and others. View images of local businesses and everyday life such as weddings, students at area schools, churches and religious services, and more.  You might discover a photo of someone you know from the past, whether it’s a friend, relative, or even yourself at a younger age.

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