A Daily Conversation
About Dallas

Doing Good

This Man Will Mow Your Lawn for Free Today in Dallas

| 23 mins ago

The country’s most charitable lawn service is in town today. Rodney Smith Jr., a native Bermudan who founded his Raising Men Lawn Care Service in Alabama several years ago, has made it his life’s work to mow the lawns of the elderly, the disabled, veterans, and single mothers, free of charge. He’s now about midway through a journey to mow lawns in all 50 states. It’s all very kind and heartwarming.

So if you know anyone who meets the criteria and could benefit from Smith’s lawn service, he’s open to suggestions:

Smith is also open to volunteers willing to mow some lawns today. You already missed the morning meet-up, but keep an eye on his Facebook page, where Smith says he’ll post another gathering location early this evening.

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Local News

Leading Off (6/19/18)

| 4 hours ago

Robert Jeffress Billboard Taken Down. The billboard along the Tollway said, “America is a Christian nation,” and with Jeffress’ smiling mug it promoted some sort of foolishness at First Baptist. Outfront Media, the billboard company, said it removed the message after getting a bunch of complaints. Jeffress is blaming the media and Mayor Mike Rawlings. Good job all around, people. Let’s call this one a win.

Tristan Simon Returns With New Restaurant. The Victory Park joint is called Billy Can Can, and the DMN spent a lot of time poking around behind the scenes to see what it’s all about. It’s probably too early to call this one a win, but I’ll go ahead and call it a win anyway because Victory Park desperately needs a win.

Clay Jenkins Tries to Bring Immigrant Children to Dallas. The county judge is working to set up shelters here for some of the kids who’ve been separated from their parents at the border. This is another win, if it happens, but it’s made possible only because, as a nation, we appear to be losing.

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Setting the Record Straight on Chief Reneé Hall

| 21 hours ago

Over the weekend, I got a call from Tristan Hallman at the Morning News seeking a response to some claims made by Chief Reneé Hall about how we handled a profile of her in the May issue of D Magazine. You can read what Hallman wrote here. Hall has two beefs with D Magazine. The first concerns the photograph you see with this post. Hall said:

“It was my thought that it was more of a fun shot and not going to be used in that matter, and that was one that was actually used. That’s the thing about art. It’s different things to different people.”

First, on behalf of our staff photographer, Elizabeth Lavin, I would like to thank the chief for her assessment of the photograph’s merits. I, too, see it as art. It’s a great shot. But I have no idea what she means by saying she thought it was “more of a fun shot and not going to be used in that matter.”

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A Look Back at Dallas’ 1978 ‘Texas Gay Conference’

| 22 hours ago

Dallas may host its parade in the relatively temperate month of September, but it’s Pride Month here too, as evidenced by the rainbow skyline we enjoyed a few weeks back.

So here’s a timely find from UNT Special Collections, which is digitizing old TV news clips from Channel 5, with a special shout-out to the sharp eye that recognized an uncredited Harvey Milk being interviewed at the “Texas Gay Conference V” at Dallas’ Royal Coach Inn on June 10, 1978.

The California politician and gay civil rights activist, who would be assassinated later that year, imagines a world where LGBT men and women at a conference in Dallas won’t have to hide their faces from TV news cameras. America’s highest ideals demand equal rights for LGBT people, Milk says. It’s the country where anyone can make it.

“In this country, if gay people can make it, then it’s putting a green light that the system works, that you’re wanted,” Milk says. “And also it tells all those other people—the minorities, the disenfranchised, the poor… ‘Hey, if a gay person can make it, I can make it.’ And it tells people to get into the system and work within the system instead of being shoved aside.”

The first clip below is what aired on Dallas television in 1978. The second is B-roll, including more of the Milk interview. From the second clip, this quote’s a keeper: “Young gay people (should know) that there’s hope that they can become doctors and lawyers and politicians, God forbid, and businesspeople.” Credit to UNT Special Collections, the Resource Center LGBT Collection, and KXAS-TV.

[News Clip: Gay (Rights conference)] on The Portal to Texas History.

[News Clip: Gay (Rights conference)] on The Portal to Texas History.

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Pop Music

The Cover Art For Nas’ New Album Was Taken in South Dallas

| 1 day ago

The photo used for the cover of Nasir, Nas’ new album, is a striking one. It was taken in South Dallas for a 1988 feature in Texas Monthly, which covered how the crack epidemic was tearing apart the neighborhood. The photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, spent much of her career documenting the people and the parts of town that society too often neglects. More of Mark’s photo work is currently featured in a yearlong exhibition downtown at the Museum of Street Culture, a new and important program we wrote about earlier this year.

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Local News

Starting from Skratch

| 1 day ago

Scott Bennett and Ronen Akiva are two dads whose children had a very modern problem: they couldn’t fit a standard minimum-wage job into their activity-packed schedules. So Bennett and Akiva came up with Skratch, an app that gives busy high school students, ages 14 to 19, the opportunity to earn cash by taking care of your odd jobs and the freedom to do so between extracurriculars.

“It’s about meeting kids where they are,” says Bennett, pointing out that kids are also learning the importance of responsibility and cultivating professional relationships.

How Skratch works: teens register and select their preferred tasks (dog-sitting, lawn-mowing, and so on), while individuals or organizations (“sponsors” in Skratch nomenclature) can post jobs they need done—anything from tutoring to tech assistance. The two are connected by neighborhood and task. Rates are preset and payments are made to the “Skratchers” through the app. To keep kids safe, adult sponsors are screened against Texas’ sex offender registry, and parents receive a message as soon as their children accept a gig and throughout the process.

The app is now available in 30 Dallas-area ZIP codes, with plans for expansion throughout North Texas within the next 12 to 18 months and nationally in a few years.

Here, a sampling of “Skratchers” available for hire.

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Local News

Leading Off (6/18/18)

| 1 day ago

Laura Bush Pleads For an End to Separation of Immigrant Families. From the Dallas resident’s Washington Post opinion piece: “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings Also Offers an Immigration Opinion. “The separation of a child from a parent who has entered our country to seek asylum is cruel and unconscionable. Dallas is willing to help in any way we can by working closely with outside agencies and community partners.”

Boxer Errol Spence Jr. Keeps Welterweight Title with First Round Knockout. The Desoto southpaw was favored to win the bout at The Star in Frisco, but knocking out his opponent in the first round was unexpected (for Spence especially; he said he hoped to give the sold-out crowd a better show and take Carlos Ocampo out in the 4th or 5th round). One fan who didn’t mind the quick win: Jerry Jones. “I saw a guy in this ring who knew what he wanted,” said Jones. “When you knock a guy out by hitting him once on the side of his back, you’re bad to the bone.”

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Weekend Getaways Update: San Antonio Celebrates Its Tricentennial

| 4 days ago

In this month’s issue, we feature 10 weekend getaways from as close as Bridgeport (where you can sleep in safari-style accommodations overlooking the lion enclosure at a big cat rescue) to as far as Marfa (where you can stay in a 19th-century fort and explore Native American rock pictographs).

Last year’s travel issue included the Pearl Brewery district in San Antonio, a historic neighborhood that has become a culinary destination. But this summer may be the better time to head south. To celebrate its ties to Spain, the city is launching Olé, San Antonio, a summer-long celebration of food, dance, and art. Here’s a taste:

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Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller Sued Over Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Her House

| 4 days ago

In January, Emanuela Tebaldi and her children filed suit against Laura Miller and her husband, Steve Wolens, seeking damages as a result of an accident that occurred in the couples’ house. It’s an odd deal.

In 2016 Tebaldi was dating Gary Wolens, Steve’s brother. They traveled from London, where Tebaldi lives, and stayed at the Miller-Wolens house in Preston Hollow. They all had dinner together in the main house, and then Tebaldi and Gary repaired to a bedroom above a detached garage. From the suit:

Unknown to Plaintiff Tebaldi, Defendants, Steve Wolens and/or Laura Miller had left their car running in the garage of their home below the bedroom where Plaintiff Tebaldi was sleeping. The next morning, July 12, 2016, Plaintiff Tebaldi had not awoken and had missed her dental appointment. Defendant Steve Wolens asked the housekeeper to check on Mr. Gary Wolens and Plaintiff Tebaldi, and she found them in the bedroom above the garage unconscious and unresponsive. Plaintiff Tebaldi was not breathing and an ambulance was called. Plaintiff Tebaldi was transported to Dallas Presbyterian Hospital where she was admitted for carbon monoxide poisoning. Plaintiff Tebaldi suffered serious injuries as a result of prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide. When medical professionals concluded that it was medically safe for Plaintiff Tebaldi to travel, she was transported back to the United Kingdom by air ambulance where Plaintiff Tebaldi was hospitalized to continue her treatment and care.

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas

This Week in ‘Everything Is Bigger in Texas’

| 4 days ago

Yee-haw! Welcome to another edition of “This Week in ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas,'” where we take a short break from riding horses, shooting guns, and eating fast food in our bland suburbs to round up—as one rounds up a herd of wayward cattle on the open prairie—some of the most egregious and most recent uses of the ultimate Texas cliché in national and local publications.

Here’s USA Today, in its lead for a story about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz playing a charity basketball game with television host Jimmy Kimmel:

Everything is bigger in Texas, including sports showdowns.

How about them Cowboys, y’all? Here’s the Kansas City Star on those gosh-darned rattlers, always a-slitherin’ and a-bitin’ us cowpokes:

Since everything is bigger in Texas you have a cornucopia of venomous snakes that include nine kind of rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads and say hello to North America’s only venomous water snake: the 4-foot water moccasin. In Texas talk, these snakes come in sizes that range from so big they have to “sit down in two shifts” to being as “wide as two ax handles.”

Well, lookie here, the Austin American Statesman is writing about the “10 Things Everyone Should Do at UT Austin.” I hear that’s one of the biggest universities in a big state.

There are few places in the world where more than 100,000 people can regularly gather in one spot and cheer together. Everything is bigger in Texas, including game day. Fans can expect not only a marching band and cheer and pom spirit groups, but also the largest live mascot in college football, the world’s largest Texas flag and an actual cannon going off multiple times.

That’s pretty big. But that’s just how we like it here where the stars are bright and the lights at night. The Dallas Observer, June 14, something something beer:

In Texas, we do things big. Even when a New York brewery comes to town, it knows this. That’s why, on Brooklyn Brewery’s stop in Dallas, it decided to offer a cocktail with not just one Texas whiskey, but two.

How did these Yankee brewers know that things are bigger in Texas? Mighty suspicious, you ask me!

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Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Hopes Dallas Can Shelter Migrant Children

| 4 days ago

The last call Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins made at work on Thursday was to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. He wants to take in migrant children being detained at the border, after journalists poured out flustered accounts of prison-like living conditions at a converted Walmart in Brownsville upon finally being granted entry. “Dallas could do a better job,” Jenkins said. “[I told them], if we put the band back together, could you guys use some help?”

In 2014 Jenkins offered and prepped a hospital building and two closed schools as temporary shelters for children who had crossed the border from Central America, surviving the journey without their parents. The kids did not come after all. But Jenkins kept the area’s legal community—an effort led by Human Rights Initiative of North Texas—involved. Even after the decision, the groups helped migrants learn their rights and find housing.

Dallas was one of about 60 cities and towns across the United States on Thursday to protest our country’s federal policy of separating families at the border. Families Belong Together organized the demonstrations. They believe removing children from the arms of their mothers or fathers and detaining them in a former Walmart for all but two hours a day is not only unfair, or hard to watch on TV; it’s physical and psychological abuse.

For longtime activist Rev. Peter Johnson, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, the fears were not just in the moment of arrest or the long hours of detainment. He compared the separation policy’s impending long-term effects to those of slavery. Outside City Hall as a small contingency of about 100 gathered under the full sun, Johnson shouted pained reminders of whole lineages that were disrupted when black mothers and fathers were sold to slaveowners in different states.

“Me and some of my friends, we’re going to Brownsville,” he said. He announced plans to go to the border and bring doctors and dentists with him, much like he did in the early 1960s as he helped register black voters across the South in buses with medical aid on board.

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A Q&A with Reunion Tower

| 4 days ago

Hey, man, I just wanted to start by thanking you for taking some time out to sit down with me. I know it can’t be a, um, ball to discuss this. Dude. A pun? You’re really going to start with a pun?

Come on. I had to. I know, I know. That’s fair. Anyway, we’ve been friends for a long time, and, I don’t know, it’s probably time that I sort of explain myself. And you of all people know what can happen when—

Hey, no judgment here. But I want to talk about what happened on your 40th birthday, back in April. Hard to believe you opened in 1978. Yeah, tell me about it. Time flies.

OK, so walk me through what happened that night. First, I wasn’t planning anything crazy. I swear.

Really? Yeah. I mean, one of the younger guys—MT, Museum Tower—you know him, right? Well, he wanted to go over to Deep Ellum and do shots at Dot’s until we were IBC non-compliant.

IBC? Oh—International Building Code.

Ah, OK. Keep going. So, yeah, like a decade ago, when Wolfgang came to town, I probably would have done it. No, I definitely would have. I had been catching hell from people for years for being in the opening credits of Dallas, like I was past my prime or whatever. And I was like, OK, I’ll show all y’all that I’ve still got it. But, I mean, these younger guys—it’s always such a neon-measuring contest. It was exhausting.

I bet. I finally came to my senses. It just sort of hit me one day: you’re the face of Dallas. What are you doing out here? And so, since then, I’ve definitely kept it pretty chill. And that was the plan for my 40th, too. Me and Bo—Bank of America Tower?—we were just going to have a nice dinner at Nick & Sam’s. No big deal.

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