A Daily Conversation About Dallas


Treehouses, Tiny Homes, and Lakeside Retreats: The Summer’s Best Getaways

| 23 mins ago

Our travel stories have experienced the Goldilocks effect this past year, due in large part to little things like publishing lead times and international outbreaks.

June 2020 was really too small. Days after the quarantine went into effect, we had to do a quick 180 and turn “travel” into a feature interview with designer Paul Duesing about how to turn your own home into a personal retreat. Granted, there was a lot of great advice that I still swear by, including landscaping your front yard for the view from inside the house. Also, I now always keep a few cans of limeade in the freezer and a bottle of Damiana herb liqueur on the shelf so I can whip up frozen margs worthy of the ones Paul once got the Queen Mum drunk on.

February 2021 was really too big. For the first time ever, we ventured out of Texas and hopped on planes (pre-pandemic) to visit exotic locales that were less than a 4-hour direct flight away. Don’t get me wrong: we found some incredible destinations, one of which was so magical that I will be returning to it next year for my 50th birthday. But it all just felt a little too soon and overly ambitious, hitting newsstands before we’d gotten our shots and lowered our masks.

But June 2021, which is on newsstands now, feels just right. We stumbled upon a random assortment of six unexpected escapes. One is a treehouse; one is made from shipping containers; and one includes your choice of adorable tiny houses. Most of them are on a lake. One has a bar in a vintage Airstream. They feel worlds away, but they’re less than a 2-hour drive from Dallas. You can find them all here, the piece is online today.

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Philanthropy & Nonprofits

Dallas Nonprofit Big Thought Gets Surprise $1.5 Million from MacKenzie Scott

| 2 hours ago

When Byron Sanders first got the email, he wasn’t completely sure it was legitimate. Sanders is the president and CEO of Big Thought, the Dallas nonprofit dedicated to empowering young people in marginalized communities. His organization certainly welcomes philanthropic gifts, but the email was from somebody he didn’t know, who said they represented donors considering making an especially big donation.

“This kind of stuff just usually doesn’t happen,” Sanders says. “I was making sure it wasn’t a phishing scam.”

It wasn’t a scam. Big Thought was one of 286 organizations on the receiving end of more than $2.7 billion in gifts from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. (The nonprofit will get about $1.5 million, Sanders says.) After getting divorced from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, Scott began giving away chunks of her fortune last year. Announcing the latest round of donations Tuesday morning, Scott writes that she—along with her husband, Seattle teacher Dan Jewett, and the team they’ve put together to find deserving organizations to support—is motivated in part by a sense of unease with the increasing accumulation of wealth in the hands of elite billionaires.

“Me, Dan, a constellation of researchers and administrators and advisors—we are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change,” Scott writes in a blog post. “In this effort, we are governed by a humbling belief that it would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others.”

The groups receiving donations were in part chosen, Scott writes, for their work addressing equity in education. That fits Big Thought, which is known for bridging what Sanders, the nonprofit’s head, calls “opportunity gaps.” Big Thought creates programs that help young people whose potential is obstructed by race and class divisions in a segregated city where inequality runs rampant.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (6/16/21)

| 4 hours ago

Dwaine Caraway Testifies in Developer’s Corruption Trial. The former City Council member, who is serving a prison sentence of more than four and a half years after pleading guilty in 2018 to corruption charges in a separate case, told jurors on Tuesday about his relationship with Ruel Hamilton. Prosecutors say the developer paid bribes to Caraway and another former City Council member, Carolyn Davis, who died in a car crash in 2019, for their support as he sought to build low-income housing in southern Dallas and Oak Cliff.

Paul Quinn College Shows Off $20M Makeover. With a new residence hall and wellness center, the college in southern Dallas is looking good.

Glitch Grounds Southwest Flights. A “reservation computer issue” forced the airline to delay or cancel hundreds of flights Tuesday.

Fort Worth Swears in New Mayor. At 37, Mattie Parker has a good claim to being the youngest leader of a major American city. Parker is also one of the few remaining Republican mayors of a major American city, although the office is nonpartisan and she has pledged to govern accordingly–in the manner of her predecessor and former boss, Betsy Price.

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Dallas History

What We Really Lose When Highways Destroy Historic Neighborhoods

| 19 hours ago

Last week, developer and incremental growth enthusiast Nathaniel Barrett posted a couple old newspaper clippings to Twitter. They are both reports on Deep Ellum, one from 1966 and another from 1971, and they are about the same thing: the death of the neighborhood.

The timing of the articles is curious. In between 1966 and 1971, much of Deep Ellum was leveled to make way for what one of the stories describes as a “10-lane freeway leg,” which we know today as I-345—or that little stretch of concrete that separates Deep Ellum from downtown about which we have made such a fuss over the years. These two old news stories help explain the fuss.

In fact, taken together, the articles offer a unique and valuable historical document. They don’t merely capture the look and feel of the neighborhood during this pivotal – and fateful – stretch of its history, they also reflect some of the attitudes and mentalities that surrounded the tumultuous construction of the highway. Reading them, one thing stands out: this city’s almost immediate obliviousness toward the violence and devastation wreaked upon its historic neighborhoods by highway construction.

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Topgolf COO Pens New Book Filled With Advice for Dads

| 1 day ago

Craig Kessler fears my golf game. That’s the only explanation for why the COO of Topgolf has so far avoided teeing it up with me at his fine establishment. Let me explain.

A while back, Craig’s people sent me a note saying he’d written a book filled with fatherly advice from his notable friends. I thought at the time that a vanity project like that would be as helpful as a golf lesson from Charles Barkley, but I said I’d give it a look because I’m a really nice person. To my surprise, the book was a delight. I found myself chuckling at what some of Craig’s friends had written to him. And the advice itself was really smart. I asked Craig’s people if D Magazine could excerpt some words of wisdom from the Dallas dads (Shawn Spieth, Dale Petroskey, Fred Perpall, Jon Altschuler, Mack Hicks). That excerpt went online today. Give it a look. If you like what you read, consider buying a copy of The Dad Advice Project for the newish dad in your life. In all, 42 guys contributed their advice to Craig’s book.

But back to the golf. I’ve never met Craig. As I was working out the details of the excerpt with his people, they asked if I wanted to talk with him. I said sure, as long as the conversation happened at Topgolf, in a hitting bay. They agreed to my terms.

Friends, that happened in April. Here we are in mid-June. And Craig, clearly worried that he’ll lose his fortune and possibly his children if he dares wager with me on golf, remains hidden in his corner office. You know what else? I hear he has caddie issues.

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The Real Truth About the New Dallas Mavericks Mascot

| 1 day ago

When the Dallas Mavericks introduced Mavrello Ballovic as their newest mascot or whatever he is, I almost lost it. Give me a break. Where do I start? OK, first, I rode a Boys Club van every day with him to middle school. It took us from East Dallas to Trinity Christian, in Addison. So don’t give me this Ballovic stuff. Back in 1980, he was Mavrello Muldoon. Look it up. He was in my confirmation class. He picked Saint Drogo, the patron saint of unattractive people, because he thought it was funny.

Great athlete, though. No question. I know he’s a bit round, but don’t let that fool you. He ran like the wind. I don’t think a single Trinity Valley player ever tackled him. Sorry, I know it’s confusing. Lots of schools around here with Trinity in the name. Holy Trinity. And then there’s Trinity Industries. Trinity River. Trinity Groves. Trinity Hall.

Where was I?

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Local News

Leading Off (6/15/21)

| 1 day ago

COVID Update. Dallas County reported 107 new cases yesterday and four deaths (these numbers include data from Sunday, when the county doesn’t report). The average number of new daily cases over the last two-week period is 107; or the previous two-week period, the average was 92. That’s the wrong direction, y’all. Nonetheless, the threat level yesterday was lowered to yellow.

ERCOT at It Again. The outfit that operates the electric grid is asking us to set our thermostats at 78 and not use large appliances like ovens and washing machines — until Friday. With some generators offline and Texas not connected to the national power grid, we once again find ourselves without enough electricity. The first day of summer is still five days away.

Ruel Hamilton Trial Starts Today. Remember Hamilton? FrontBurner broke the news in 2019 that the developer’s very young grandchildren were writing $1,000 checks to Dallas city council candidates. Then he was charged with flat out bribing council members. A jury today begins hearing arguments in the case.

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Local News

What Juneteenth Means to Dallas

| 2 days ago

Dr. Deborah Hopes is the president of Remembering Black Dallas, which is dedicated to the history of African American life in North Texas. The nonprofit guides bus tours, conducts educational presentations, preserves written and oral histories, and memorializes stories that Dallas has too often paved over. This includes efforts to install historical markers at the sites of former freedmen’s towns. Remembering Black Dallas and its founder, Dr. George Keaton Jr., are also leading the push to have a monument to victims of racial violence installed at Martyrs Park downtown.

On Saturday, Remembering Black Dallas will be among the groups organizing festivities for Juneteenth, the annual holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. Events planned for this weekend include a march Saturday from William Blair Jr. Park to a Juneteenth festival at Fair Park, organized by the Blair Foundation and Elite News. Remembering Black Dallas will be hosting a barbecue with the African American Museum at Fair Park. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a Juneteenth program on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Also on Sunday, Remembering Black Dallas will lead a bus tour of freedmen’s towns throughout the Dallas area.

But celebrating Juneteenth goes beyond the holiday itself, Hopes says. “Juneteenth has to become something that grows from each day,” she says. “Not just one day.”

I got on the phone with Hopes last week to talk about how Juneteenth spread from Texas across the country, the holiday’s connection to the continuing fight for civil rights, and its history in the Dallas area. This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

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We Still See You, Big German

| 2 days ago

Mistakes have been made on the covers of D Magazine. Have I been responsible for some of those mistakes? It’s possible. Innocent people whose names need not be named have appeared on our cover and not had what you’d technically call newsstand success. We put a certain Cowboys quarterback on the cover in 2018, a digital illustration that had him holding the Lombardi Trophy and riding in a parade. That prediction didn’t quite work out. And then there was the time we put the word “pediatricans” on the cover in 52-point type. Not a proud moment.

But once upon a time, way back in 2011, I made a decision about our cover that turned out to be genius. The Mavericks were in the Western Conference finals, giving the Thunder more than they could handle. I said, “The Mavs are going to win the championship, and we’re going to put Dirk on the cover of our Best of Big D issue.” Less confident people on staff suggested it might be wise to have a backup plan. Cowards.

Two days after the Mavs won it all and Dirk ran off the court to shed tears in private, with our production deadline nearly expired, we got to shoot the Big German on the court at the American Airlines Center. Marc Montoya and his producer wife, Kristen, captured a look of pure joy on Dirk’s face. There’s more to the story. I’ll let senior editor Zac Crain tell you about it in his story “In Dirk We Trust” (it’s online today, right here).

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Local News

Leading Off (6/14/21)

| 2 days ago

Texas Supreme Court Tosses Election Challenge. Candidate Donald Parish Jr. won’t get his chance in court to challenge the May election results. The District 7 hopeful missed the runoff by 28 votes. He claimed that problems at some polling places disenfranchised voters, which affected the outcome. He had asked for an investigation and possibly a new election, but the state’s high court declined to take his case.

Rhome Officer Shot, Suspect Flees. Late last night, a robbery suspect named Royce Wood fired at an officer during a traffic stop. Wood fled on foot. Police are asking Wise County residents to lock their doors as they conduct a manhunt.

Morning News Ed Board Slams NIMBY Crowd That Nearly Killed Development. In White Rock, neighbors came really close to killing a project called The Trailhead. The development contained affordable housing and a pedestrian link with the nearby Santa Fe Trail. The neighbors near Garland, Gaston, and Grand led an effort to kill it, arguing that it would destroy their view. In the end, they’ll drop the height to 75 feet and increase the affordable units from 5 percent to 9 percent. The News, rightly, presents this as a case study in why it’s so hard to do business in the city.

Air Quality Alert and Heat Advisory, All at Once. This will be a pretty miserable week outside. Expect it to feel like it’s between 105 and 107, and juts know the air you’re breathing in will have a sizable amount of pollutants. Sunday reached 99 at DFW Airport, making it the hottest day of the year.

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