Monday, June 5, 2023 Jun 5, 2023
67° F Dallas, TX


A Daily Conversation About Dallas

The Grass Isn’t Greener Outside of Garland

Tim Rogers
By |
Downtown Garland. Courtesy of City of Garland

Let’s give Garland some shine, shall we? In the May issue, we bring you reports from some of our favorite Dallas suburbs. That story is online today. You can read it here. That Garland did not make it into the feature should not be viewed as a snub, though I’d forgive Garlanders for seeing it that way. They are accustomed to getting snubbed. If I had taken the sort of shots that have been lobbed their way, I’d be defensive, too. Far as I can tell, Garland has been maligned onscreen more mercilessly than any other Dallas suburb. 

Red Oak and Waxahachie served their roles well in 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. McKinney did fine in the 1974 movie Benji. Maybe you could say Irving didn’t look great in 1999’s Office Space. And if you don’t dig standing around and drinking beer with your neighbors, then King of the Hill makes propane sales and several Dallas burbs look less than idyllic. It’s not entirely clear which burb gets hit hardest in that cartoon, given that its fictional setting is a portmanteau called Arlen.

But there’s no question about Garland in Woody Harrelson’s Zombieland, from 2009. Jesse Eisenberg’s character, Columbus, opens the movie in a dreary gas station at night. He says in a voiceover, “That guy down there is me. I’m in Garland, Texas. And it may look like zombies destroyed it, but that’s actually just Garland.” 


Why Dallas Should Not Fear Its Past

By Bill Porterfield |
Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture
Illustration by: Brian Britigan

In 1982, the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture published a 95-page book titled Imagining Dallas, which contained eight essays about our city written by notable Dallasites, including Wick Allison, the co-founder of D Magazine. In his contribution, reprinted below, the great Bill Porterfield wrote about the city’s unemotional march into the future.

In conjunction with a series of talks about the city on May 25, the Dallas Institute is revisiting Imagining Dallas. Porterfield’s piece was originally titled “Man and Beast in the City: Twain or Twin.” At the time of publication, in 1982, Porterfield was a columnist for the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald and a creative writing teacher at SMU. When he died at the age of 81, in 2014, his son Winton told the Austin American-Statesman: “He was a force of nature really, kind of a walking thunderstorm. He was very creative, he was passionate, he was tempestuous, he was profane, he loved ideas, and he loved words and books. Obviously, he loved women; he was married six times. He loved whiskey and dogs and cheeseburgers. He was a really good dancer and he didn’t wear underwear. He was a short man but a man in full.”

Below, we present his thoughts on the city, from 1982.


The 75226 Copper Bandits Keep Killing My Internet and Outsmarting AT&T

Richard Patterson
By Richard Patterson |
AT&T copper theives
Illustration by: Jakob Hinrichs

About five years ago, I picked up my new F-Type Jag. It came with an app called InControl and all sorts of spiffy tech and connectivity. I didn’t care. I just wanted the latest Jaguar sports car, the spiritual successor to the car of all cars, the E-Type Jaguar. I didn’t need a glorified laptop on wheels. 

In any event, one day outside my studio, I was trying to attach my cardboard parking pass around the rearview mirror stem, which is thicker than it should be since inevitably it’s carrying a bunch of tech and is attached to its own console of cameras for lane assist, parking sensors, rain sensors, and stuff I’ve probably yet to discover. 

As I fumbled with the parking tag, I accidentally touched the SOS button that sends an alarm to a central scrutinizer who sends ambulances and fire trucks and the sort of extra Towering Inferno mayhem that make big American cities what they are. But I didn’t realize I’d pressed the SOS button. Next thing I knew, a woman’s sonorous voice filled my car on its 15-speaker surround sound system, louder and fuller than a real person and very resonant, making the woman sound like a giant from another planet. Her voice entered my whole being as if my ears weren’t hearing it. More like she was inside my soul and all my organs, like I’d been taken over by a much greater, possibly benevolent force. 

“Are you OK?” she said, massively, authoritatively, definitively, reassuringly. 

I didn’t know what had happened. I just sat there not knowing what to do. I thought I might be dying. 

Then: “Are you in distress? Do you need assistance?”

Unable to speak or respond, I contemplated her question. Yes, I am in distress, I thought. I’m in existential pain. I need a maid, someone to help around the house, sweep up the leaves. A proper handyman, a really good electrician, a plumber. Cumberland sausages, smoked haddock from Grimsby. So many things.

Then: “Has your airbag deployed?”

I finally realized what was going on. But unsure which button on which console to push for “reply” or “send,” I meekly cleared my throat, leaned politely forward in my sienna tan bucket seat, and said, “Hello?” 

She said, “Hello. Are you in distress or injured? Have you been in an accident?”

Still debating whether I was mid aural hallucination and losing touch with reality, I said: “Er, no. [Hugh Grant-ish bumbling] I was trying to attach my parking pass, but it’s surprisingly hard to get it around my rearview mirror. I now see the button is lit up. I must have pressed it by mistake?”

Her voice was full and God-like, unwavering, confident, like Dame Helen Mirren or Dame Judi Dench played through the AMC NorthPark big-screen sound system: “I see. So long as you’re in no distress or involved in an accident?”

“No, I’m fine. But thanks. [pause] What do I do now? How do I turn my SOS button off?”

The woman’s voice, the Goddess Athena: “We’ll do it.”

Me: “You’re sending someone out to turn off my SOS button?”

Athena: “No, we do it remotely.”

Me: “OK. Got it. I knew that. Sorry about that. Thanks.” 

Athena: “Thank you. Goodbye.” 

Me: “Thank you. Goodbye.”

And it came to pass, as they say in the Bible, that my SOS was remotely disengaged, the light went out, the car fell silent. Panic over. Athena seemed very nice. I wondered what she looked like, how old she was. I felt faintly foolish but somehow quite good about it all, like she was a giant reclining woman floating up in the actual clouds a mile or so above my head in baroque-styled Italian robes and a goatskin breastplate, like a painting by Botticelli or a ceiling by Raphael. It was good to know she was there, as with your appendix, one of those things you’re not sure you’ve ever used or needed, but handy to know it’s working properly.

That one ended happily ever after. So far, so good. 

Which brings me to a more recent and far less lovely and poetic modern experience: dealing with that multiheaded hydra-like monster of a company called AT&T.

Person of Interest

A World Golf Hall of Famer Considers the PGA’s New Frisco Course

Tim Rogers
By |
Lanny Wadkins, PGA Golf, Frisco Texas, Dallas, Golf Course
Wadkins standard for a good quality golf course: elevation changes, water, and movement. All of which are present at the Fields Ranch East course in Frisco. Marc Montoya

Lanny Wadkins has done commentary for the Golf Channel’s coverage of the PGA Tour Champions for 10 years. He designed the most spectacular public course in Texas, Black Jack’s Crossing, in Lajitas. And he’s a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. With the first major championship coming to Frisco this month, we wondered what he thinks of the course. Keep reading for his assessment and to learn why he didn’t sign up with the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

Health & Medicine

A Small But Mighty Surgical Machine Is Now Operating in North Texas

Alice Laussade
By Alice Laussade |
Dr Thomas Heffernan
Hands on a Hard Body: Dr. Thomas Heffernan is a proponent of minimally invasive gynecological surgeries, which Anovo’s tiny robot appendages help him achieve. Elizabeth Lavin

Being a woman is the greatest. We get to wear sunhats in tulip fields. We get to ride wicker-basketed bikes on sandy beaches. (“Look! No hands! Ha-ha-ha-ha!”) If we get paid equally to our male counterparts, we get to be super surprised. (Are you kidding? You know we love surprises.) And our reproductive organs only wreak havoc on our entire physical and emotional systems all the time, guaranteed. The only thing better than being a woman is being a woman in Texas! 

If you haven’t struggled with getting pregnant, had a full baby ripped through your six-pack, or spent your entire adult life explaining why you don’t want to have children, you’ve gotta try this. There’s truly nothing better than being a woman.

Then there’s the moment we hear that we are going to need a hysterectomy. A life-bomb goes off, followed by psychic shrapnel. Frustration, pain, grief, sorrow, fear. Maybe you’re suffering from incredible pain from endometriosis or fibroids. You’ve tried everything, and you’re told that, for your health, your uterus needs to be removed. Perhaps they tell you they’ll also need to remove your cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. You will not be able to bear children. It’s all very final.

No matter the reason for this surgery, the results will be life-changing. This isn’t like getting a nose job—when you remove these pieces of a person, hormones shift. To say that this process is emotionally complex and sensitive is an understatement. It’s a last resort. And yet, it’s the second-most performed surgery for women, after cesarean section, in the United States. 

For something this serious, you want access to the best surgeon and the newest technology. Now, right here in North Texas, you’ve got access to both. 

Dr. Thomas Heffernan, gynecologic oncologist at Medical City Plano, is a huge proponent of minimally invasive gynecological surgeries. “Innovating has always been part of my drive,” he says. “I was lucky enough to be starting my career before robotics had been adopted in the community. And so I was able to be really kind of instrumental in getting robotic surgery established in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.”

Real Estate

Age-Old Farmland Is Now Fresh Shoreline and Bois d’Arc Lake Is Born

Tim Rogers
By |
Splish Splash: Bois d’Arc Lake is still about 10 feet shy of full. Courtesy

A few weeks back, I took a little road trip to Fannin County, an hour and a half north of Dallas, to see something crazy. It’s 120 billion gallons of water puddled on the Blackland Prairie—or it soon will be. Bois d’Arc Lake, the first Texas reservoir built in nearly 30 years, to keep Frisco and Plano hydrated, still has about 10 feet to go before it’s full. So I wanted to see the lake—this engineering marvel and monument of hubris—but I was also curious to meet those few folks who were lucky enough to own land on a new shoreline. Your family runs a hay farm for a hundred years, and then you suddenly have a lake house. Just imagine.

Then imagine how dumb I felt standing on FM Rd. 1396, staring at where the road disappears into the lake, surrounded by a whole bunch of nothing. No disrespect to the citizens of Fannin. There aren’t any lake houses yet. I drove around on some dodgy gravel roads and found some farmhouses not far from the water, but notes left in about a dozen mailboxes did not produce a single phone call to your intrepid correspondent. I know. Shocking.

What I did find, near a bridge on the west side of the lake, was a gleaming new building for the North Texas Municipal Water District and the lake manager for Bois d’Arc, Jennifer Stanley. I would here like to formally apologize to Stanley for showing up without an appointment and thank her for being kind enough to talk with me anyway about water impoundment and fishing and where to find a good hamburger.

That’s the one bit of useful information I can offer from my road trip. The Bois d’Arc General Store at Nana’s Place (4831 E. FM Rd. 1396; 903-664-4004) is the only place to eat anywhere near the water, which is not to suggest it is on the water. Not even close. But when the lake is full and they start selling lots, if you head up that way to check out some property, don’t miss Nana’s Place. You’ll find an American flag flapping in front of the tiny turquoise roadhouse and Nana herself at the grill. If it’s Friday, consider the catfish. Otherwise, you won’t be disappointed by the burger. And onion rings. Get the onion rings.  

Unlike the land around Bois d’Arc Lake, there are plenty of lake houses scattered around North Texas. In our April issue, we spent a few pages highlighting them: Cedar Creek, Lake Texoma, Lake Cypress Springs, Lake Athens, Possum Kingdom Lake, and the aforementioned Bois d’Arc Lake. That story is online today, and you can read it here.


Is Dallas Really the Safest Big City in America?

Matt Goodman
By |
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia bromance
Stars and Stripes: Mayor Eric Johnson and Chief Eddie García have reason to smile. Illustration by Dean MacAdam

On February 5, Mayor Eric Johnson wanted to share some good news about crime numbers in Dallas. In his weekly email newsletter and in a post on Medium, he included a photo of himself hugging police Chief Eddie García. The chief was seated at a desk, looking down at crime data. The mayor, standing behind García, was leaning in to hug him, draped over the city’s top cop like a shawl. 

Along with the photo, Johnson included a chart created by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a police organization that García serves as president. The chart presented Dallas as the only large American city where all types of violent crime had declined over the previous two years. Johnson wanted to show people that the two public officials are so aligned in their efforts, and so successful in getting results, that the mayor had to hug the chief. 

The image itself was inelegant. Hugs are better when both people are standing. But the message was clear. Yet six days elapsed with no local news coverage of the rankings. So Johnson took to Twitter. 

“Our local media have no interest in reporting on this data, which is why you haven’t heard about it,” he wrote. Reporters with the Dallas Morning News, WFAA, Fox 4, KRLD, and NBC 5 responded with links to stories about Dallas’ declining violent crimes—but they didn’t mention the other nine cities in the chart.  

Johnson then tweeted an adage about defensiveness he’d learned from his grandmother: if you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that gets hit will yelp. “Them hit dogs still hollerin’,” the mayor wrote. He added that journalistic “quality has fallen off a cliff” and called it “pathetic.” 

Here’s the thing about that chart: the ranking was bogus. Comparing one city’s crime numbers to another’s is a reductive exercise that ignores how data are collected and fails to tell the real story about how things are going. Plus, the FBI recently modernized how it collects data. Its new system does away with what it called the “hierarchy rule,” where departments were basically allowed to juke the stats on a technicality. Meaning, if a robbery goes bad and someone ends up dead, police departments filed only the most severe charge—murder—and ignored the others. Now every crime in an incident is tracked and submitted to the feds. Dallas follows this process, but four of the 10 cities in the mayor’s chart do not. 

Promoting that ranking was political boosterism that obscures what we should be analyzing and discussing: what about Dallas’ new approach to curbing violence is working and what is not? Because the department’s data do indeed show progress. 


The King of Cappuccino’s American Dream Came True

S. Holland Murphy
By |
Domenico Seminara coffee
Eagles Have Landed: Seminara’s collection includes a number of vintage brass Elektra machines from Italy. Elizabeth Lavin

Among Domenico Seminara’s prized collection of some 500 cappuccino and espresso machines is the first appliance he ever sold, in 1981, a Faema 1 Group that looks more like a fax machine than something that would yield a cappuccino, which, according to Seminara, is “a cup of coffee—with romance.” He bought back the machine years later to keep in his “cappuccino museum.”  

The museum occupies a sunny room on the second floor of his Minion-​yellow Arlington warehouse, lined on one side by a row of windows that face I-30 and, on the other side, by windows that look into a cavernous facility filled with the used gadgets and gizmos Seminara sells via his business, Specialty Restaurant Equipment.

Many of the machines in Seminara’s personal collection (there are hundreds more in the warehouse) are vintage Elektra models in the “old Italy” style, brass domes topped with eagle figurines. The oldest machine in his collection is a shiny 1948 Gaggia that he scored for a bargain from a Venezuelan restaurateur in Paris, Texas. 

He has also customized several machines. One features images of Native American notables that were airbrushed by an Albuquerque artist. Another was fashioned after the Parthenon; he almost sold it to a Dallas Cowboy two decades ago, but then the athlete balked at the machine’s $20,000 price tag. “I said, ‘You get millions of dollars from Jerry Jones,’ ” Seminara says. “You ask me to lower the price by a couple thousand dollars. I will not lower one penny.”  

Carolina Alvarez-Mathies will, in May, celebrate her first anniversary as executive director at the Dallas Contemporary. This month, her Design District museum will open two shows that share a strong tie to a celebrated ceramic studio in Guadalajara, Mexico. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.


The Parkland Nurse and the Worst Explosion in Dallas Fire-Rescue’s History

S. Holland Murphy
By |
Dallas Fire Rescue team
Hero Shot: (from left) Dallas Fire-Rescue officer Pauline Perez, dispatcher Ron Hall, Parkland nursing director Katie Mapula, and Captain Christopher Gadomski. Gadomski nominated Mapula for an Excellence in Nursing award. Elizabeth Lavin

To work inside a county hospital like Parkland, you have to keep a steady gait while the ground shifts beneath your feet. That’s what Katie Mapula loves about her job as the nursing director over all five intensive care units and burn center operations. You think you know what the day will look like, and then—boom—there’s an urgent rush to make order of fresh chaos. 

On the morning of September 29, 2021, Mapula was making order of yet another exhausting COVID surge. The swath the Delta variant cut through Dallas had filled every bed in the ICU and then some. She had already converted 12 more beds on the Medical Surgery floor to handle the growing demand when—boom—a startling notification rang in. 


Frisco: The Giving City

Tim Rogers
By |
giving tree
Chloe Zola

Once there was a city called Frisco, and she loved a little boy. Every day the boy would come and play in her fields and creeks. He would pretend to be Roger Staubach slaying a fire-breathing dragon, or he would pretend to be Bob Lee Swagger, Mark Wahlberg’s character in the movie Shooter, taking into account humidity, temperature, wind, and the Coriolis effect before sending his lead downrange. 

And when the boy was tired after playing in the fields and creeks, he would sleep in the shade of the city’s trees. And the boy loved Frisco. And the city was happy.

But time went by. And the boy grew older. Then one day the boy came to the city, and Frisco said, “Come, boy, come and pretend to nail headshots from more than a mile away while you are inexplicably on a snow-covered mountain ridge where two helicopters have just landed, and be happy.”

“I am too big for that nonsense,” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun.”

And so the city gave her fields and creeks to Jerry Jones, who built The Star in Frisco, a 91-acre campus that included the Ford Center and Tostitos Championship Plaza and a Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop and a Mi Cocina and a Wahlburgers, as it turns out. 

I was only a few steps into Deep Vellum before I bumped into a table with one of my favorite author’s latest books on it.

I had not read it but had been meaning to; after I finished perusing the store, I picked it up to purchase. As I opened the pages to thumb through the colorful hardback, I saw it was a signed copy. What were the chances? 

Finding a signed copy from one of my favorite authors was a serendipitous moment. But behind the scenes, Deep Vellum and its CEO Will Evans have been working for years to make these moments happen. The independent publishing house and bookstore is in Deep Ellum, an area known for its embrace of the arts since the days of Blind Lemon Jefferson. The shop is busy, compact, and full of energy—much like Evans himself. For nearly a decade, he has been grinding to create something from nothing. Along the way, he is doing more; he is sparking a literary movement in Dallas.