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New EarBurner: Matt Tranchin Survived Southwest 1380. Now What?

| 3 days ago

Less than a half hour after takeoff, Matt Tranchin resigned himself to die. There was an explosion on the left side of the 737. Then there was the plunge, a drop that seemed to never stop. The oxygen masks fell in front of the passengers as flight attendants hurried to the 14th row. One of them began to cry and scream for help; a passenger’s torso had been sucked out of the plane.

Matt didn’t know all this at the time. He figured there was some sort of hole in the plane, and started thinking about how to get away from it. But the cabin was full, and then came the reaction from the flight attendant. He realized how serious this was, and that he was powerlessly stuck in his seat. He pulled out his phone and began texting his final goodbyes to his wife, his unborn child, and his parents. He was certain the plane would crash.

We now know what happened on Southwest 1380. A fan blade in one of the engines broke off due to metal fatigue. It tore through the engine and sent shrapnel into the wing before shattering one of the cabin windows. The plane, which was ascending at 32,500 feet when the explosion occurred, plunged 8,000 feet in two minutes. Over the next five minutes, it sank another 13,000 feet. It would land in Philadelphia 10 minutes later, guided by the supreme calm of pilot Tammie Jo Shults. We’ll surely learn more in the days and weeks to come—last night, the AP reported that Southwest had asked for more time to inspect its engine fan blades.

Matt is part of the D Magazine family. He is the head of a super PAC known as the Coalition of a New Dallas, which was started by D owner Wick Allison and operates out of the office. (The magazine and the PAC are separate operations.) Matt was headed to New York to learn best practices from organizers with the national March for Our Lives folks; he wanted to bring back some pointers for the young activists he’s been helping here.

After the crash, Matt called D editor Tim Rogers. He was almost ecstatic. He’d just cheated death. He told Tim about watching World War Z and remembering how Brad Pitt blew a hole in the fuselage of the plane to kill a bunch of zombies and survived by avoiding the blast site. He took some photos of the plane and made a quip about Final Destination. He gave a whole bunch of interviews, recounting the incident. He wound up on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times, alongside friend Marty Martinez, another D compatriot who sometimes helps us with social media. He took some criticism from the mob of internet bums who sniff out things to criticize and troll; Matt was in shock. Shame on anyone who would judge him in that state.

The Matt you hear in the interview below is a man who is reckoning with what he experienced. The jubilance of cheating death is gone. Now comes figuring out how to live with the fact that he did. There were 149 people aboard that plane, including Jennifer Riordan, the 43-year-old passenger who was fatally wounded. The news reports got their tick-tock of what happened; listen to Matt for the weight of what happens now.

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Doing Good

Paul Quinn College President Named Among ‘World’s 50 Greatest Leaders’

| 3 days ago

Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in southern Dallas, today got a pretty swell accolade from Fortune magazine, which named him one of the “world’s 50 greatest leaders.” The magazine commends Sorrell, who has led the historically black college since 2007, for “giving Paul Quinn a bigger vision of itself.”

In 2007, when Sorrell started as president of Paul Quinn, a historically black college in Dallas, the institution was on the brink of being shut down. Founded in 1872 at the height of Reconstruction, the school was losing students, and the campus, which housed 15 abandoned buildings, was “closer to a garbage dump than a grocery store,” Sorrell says.

Sorrell quickly set about challenging perceptions, both external and internal, by giving Paul Quinn a bigger vision of itself. Under his leadership, the football field was turned into a farm. He solicited the school’s first-ever seven-figure gift from a donor and used it to raze that campus blight, and he emphasized the recruitment of students from out of state to expand what’s now a 500-plus-member student body.

He also took aim at problems that ail all of higher education—the cost, and the disconnect with what comes after. Paul Quinn is now a federally recognized work college; students get jobs with area companies, helping them to pay tuition and prepare for life postgraduation. Sorrell, who calls this the “new urban college model,” now plans to open Paul Quinn campuses nationwide.

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Local News

In Dallas, Black People Still More Likely To Be Charged for Weed

| 3 days ago

More than four months have passed since the city of Dallas instituted a cite-and-release policy for people found with small amounts of marijuana. The program is a gesture toward a reality that’s shaping bolder reforms across the country: Arresting people for possessing a substance that most Americans favor legalizing is not only unjust, it’s a waste of limited police resources, especially in cop-strapped Dallas.

While cite-and-release has kept some people out of jail, it hasn’t addressed another glaring issue with the enforcement of marijuana laws. The Dallas Observer reports that of the 48 people cited and released by Dallas police for marijuana possession since December, only two were white. Racial disparities in marijuana arrests, nationally, have been well-documented for years.

Those same disparities persist even in places where marijuana has been legalized. A report by the Drug Policy Alliance found that while overall marijuana arrests have gone down in places like Colorado and Washington, black people are still far more likely to be arrested on charges related to underage possession, public consumption, or unlicensed sales. Vox.com weighs in:

The disparities are not explained by differences in black and white marijuana use rates. Surveys show black and white Americans use cannabis at similar levels.

Instead, there seems to be some level of bias built into the criminal justice system. Perhaps it’s individual racial biases among police officers. Maybe it’s how police are disproportionately deployed in minority communities, purportedly because they have higher levels of crime.

Then there are socioeconomic disparities that may drive some groups to, for example, more frequently use and sell drugs outdoors instead of indoors. All of these factors and others are likely working together to maintain racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

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Music

Starplex Pavilion Is Now Dos Equis Pavilion, But Call It Whatever You Want, It’s Fine

| 3 days ago

Heineken USA has coughed up an undisclosed sum to buy the naming rights to Starplex Pavilion, christening the hallowed ground of the outdoor amphitheater the Dos Equis Pavilion.

Here are some real things that marketing professionals involved in the deal said, and then subsequently had transcribed into a press release, about this branding partnership between the beer company and concert promoter Live Nation.

“We are honored to be aligning with such a respected partner as Live Nation. And the fact that the newly named Dos Equis Pavilion is located in the heart of a key Dos Equis market makes this partnership uniquely relevant to our core consumers,” said Elizabeth Cannon, Regional Marketing Manager at HEINEKEN USA.

But wait, core consumers of North Texas, there’s more.

“We are thrilled to partner with Dos Equis and look forward to delivering in experiences that build brands,” said Andy Peikon, Senior Vice President, Live Nation. “We strongly believe this experiential marketing platform will drive consumer trial and loyalty through top-of-mind awareness, good times and memorable occasions.”

The “experiential marketing platform” at Fair Park has formerly been affiliated with Gexa, Superpages, and Smirnoff. “Starplex,” its most recent name, was actually closer to its original title of the “Coca-Cola Starplex Amphitheatre.” While the name Dos Equis Pavilion will be worked into the venue’s logo, and into signage “including façade, box office and LED displays,” they can’t brand your mind, man. Call it whatever you want. They’ll never take that magical 2008 Radiohead show you watched from the lawn away from you.

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Nature

Law Man Walking: Nature Treks With Bill Holston

| 3 days ago

Saturday, I walked out on the deck to have my usual banana and oatmeal to fortify for the hike. Yeah, call me Wild Bill. I was immediately struck by the wind and 38-degree temperature. We’d get one more cold weather hike in this year! I filled my thermos with coffee, read a Psalm, and drove down to meet Ben and Carrie at the parking lot off of Jim Miller. On the way, I listened to the music of Dirtmusic, an American-Australian band that teamed up with Turkish psych rockers BaBa Zu La on the album Bu Bir Ruya. The album has a migration theme; more about that later.

We parked at the parking lot next to the baseball field on Jim Miller (just south of Scyene) and headed to the trailhead, which is off of the drive into Grover Keaton Golf Course. For those interested in this good hike, its beginning is slightly tricky. You need to look for a kiosk at the edge of the woods on the left as you drive or walk in. It’s not easy to see, but the trail is quite clear and easy to follow. You’ll be rewarded for your effort. The trail climbs onto the top of the White Rock Escarpment, the series of hills that run from the southwest part of Dallas County to the north. The trail follows the top of the escarpment through mixed woods of Shin Oak and Redbud. We picked this hike to see if wildflowers were blooming in the small prairie at the top of the escarpment. The only thing really blooming in the prairie was Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus, which was close to the end of the bloom. We walked to the spot where you can look out over the immense woods that are essentially the floodplain for White Rock Creek, green as far as you can see. If you are looking for a short hike to explore our local nature, this is a good beginning.

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Politics

Brett Shipp Hits the Fan

| 3 days ago

On a recent Monday morning, a little after 10 o’clock, Brett Shipp finds himself sitting on his poolside patio, drinking coffee, reading the paper. For 22 years, he chased the news as a reporter for ABC Channel 8. Now he’s lounging. He says it feels amazing but also, yes, like he should be doing something.

“You go from 100 mph on a freeway to crashing into a brick wall when you get beat,” he says. “It’s hard to believe that it’s all over so fast. It’s weird.”

In December, Shipp, who is 59, stepped away from the newsroom to run as a Democrat for Rep. Pete Sessions’ 32nd Congressional District seat. It didn’t go well. Either because he waited too long to enter the race (his assessment) or because his campaign slogan was “New Leader Shipp” (ours), he didn’t make it out of the primary, finishing third.

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Local News

Leading Off (4/20/18)

| 3 days ago

Man Charged In Brutal Beating of Woman in Deep Ellum. After videos showing a woman assaulted outside a Deep Ellum venue spread on social media, Jarod Broussard, 35, was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge. Broussard, who was also fired from his job at an Uptown nightclub Thursday, was previously charged with assault in 2006 and again in 2010, but those charges were later dismissed.

Lifestyles of the Rich and the Fraudulent. Two North Texas debt collectors who pleaded guilty in federal court to running a $2 million scam spent the money on lavish vacations and cars.

What Caused the Engine Failure on That Southwest Flight This Week? Or: Everything you wanted to know about fan blades as the National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation.

Dallas Cowboys’ Season Schedule Released. Opener at Carolina, Washington on Thanksgiving, five in prime-time, the defending champions on Nov. 11 and Dec. 9. I’m thinking 10-6.

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Media

SMU Alumni Try To Save Student Newspaper’s Independence

| 4 days ago

SMU’s student newspaper will soon become a part of the school’s journalism department—and, some alumni fear, more susceptible to university censorship—unless a campaign to preserve The Daily Campus’ independence is successful.

In January, the university’s student media board voted to shutter the Student Media Company, citing the flagging print readership and declining ad revenue that’s doomed other newspapers across the country. The company, which runs The Daily Campus, a fashion magazine, and the yearbook, also suffered financially from a 2003 decision that made student fees supporting the company optional. As of now, the paper will end its print edition as part of the move under the wing of the journalism department.

A group of alumni, calling itself the Friends of Student Media, is trying to raise $125,000 to fund the paper independently. Jessica Huseman, a spokeswoman for the group and former editor of The Daily Campus, says concerns that the university has a loose definition of freedom of the press are well-founded.

“(The university) has a history of attempting to stifle student voices on that campus,” she says. “If the school is allowed to have financial control over the paper I think that we’ll see that happen more and more often.”

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Nature

The Trinity River: It Runs to the Sea

| 4 days ago
On the muddy banks of the Trinity River, near downtown Dallas. According to Ben Sandifer, prints on the right were likely made by a Great Blue Heron—a bird whose feet are adapted for walking in salt marshes and across mud without sinking. (Photo: Laray Polk)

The Trinity River Project, as an art exhibition, is moving downstream to the Galveston Art Center this month, and Sunday is Earth Day. It’s an opportune time to discuss the Trinity River as a complete ecosystem and its connection to sea-level rise. The river, often portrayed in city literature in abbreviated form and filled with blue water, is actually 710 miles long. The water is not really blue, and will never be blue, because it carries a heavy sediment load of sand, silt, and clay on its way to the sea. Once in coastal waters, the sediment plays an important function in an ancient and complex redistribution system. As one example, accretion of Trinity sediments contributed to the formation of Galveston Island some 6,000 years ago.

The Trinity River Project — a collaborative initiative that is part journalism, guided meditation, and art exhibition — launched in Dallas in 2016. The project will be one of three water-centric exhibitions to open at the Galveston Art Center on April 21. GAC director Dennis Nance says he began thinking of the shows as a trilogy soon after gallerist Liliana Bloch contacted him about bringing the Trinity River Project to Galveston. From there, he worked “to pair the exhibition with other work by artists who in some way respond to the environment from different approaches.”

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Leading Off

Leading Off (4/19/18)

| 4 days ago

City Council Urges Atmos to Hurry Up. At yesterday’s briefing, City Council members told Atmos that their plan of replacing all cast-iron pipes in the city by 2023 isn’t fast enough. Atmos didn’t exactly say they would complete the fixes sooner, but said they’re looking at how to accelerate the process.

Staff and Parents at Garland School Didn’t Know about Shooting Threat for a Week. A former Garland Classical Academy student had posted a video on April 10 on social media saying he was going to shoot up the school. He was arrested that night, but the school’s director didn’t tell teachers, parents, or students about the threat until six days later. Teachers and parents say they should have been notified immediately and are angry over how the threat was handled.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Destroying Assault Weapons. The company is no longer selling assault rifles at its 35 Field & Stream locations, one of which is near Dallas, in Prosper. It’s also destroying and recycling the rifles instead of returning them to the manufacturer to get its money back.

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