A Daily Conversation About Dallas


Another Day in Dallas

| 20 hours ago

Last year, A Day in Dallas brought together people who otherwise may have not stepped foot in the same room, much less talked to one another. We gave them all disposable cameras and had them document a day in their lives. And then we framed their photos and invited them and their loved ones to a celebration of their creations. This year, we thought about having our participants go into other neighborhoods, maybe switch things around a bit. But we were overthinking it. This was about building on an idea: how do we get both sides of Central Expressway together? How do we introduce the Highland Park mom to the South Oak Cliff resident? This year, we asked our participants to tell us about themselves and their lives, and we put their answers on the poster board with their images. The whole purpose is to create a room of diverse Dallasites. We did that, and now it’s time share it with you, here. We hope it helps you learn more about your community. This is, for the second year, A Day in Dallas. — Hance Taplin, founder of the fashion label By Way of Dallas, as told to Matt Goodman.

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A Car Club That Lives the Cowboys Life

| 1 month ago

The scene repeats itself throughout the early day and into late afternoon, as fans, mostly of the Dallas Cowboys but a few of the visiting Minnesota Vikings, begin to converge on AT&T Stadium. Among the cacophony of competing stereos and smell of grilled meats, they see the group of cars, so close to the stadium that surrounding lots charge $100 to park. But it’s not proximity that sets them apart. “Look at that!” someone will say, and then, almost instinctively, they and their traveling party will walk toward the custom-designed cars, pulling phones from their pockets.

Some ask for permission. “Take as many pictures as you want,” the owners of the cars answer. Others don’t. They just take them—selfies, taking turns posing, parents telling children to stand there and smile. A few, as if they realize it’s futile to try to capture the small details of each car in one snap, instead record videos, walking with baby steps around these rolling monuments to the Cowboys.

They capture the candy-colored paint job that sparkles in the sun. The murals on the cars of past and present players and coaches. The interiors lined with so many blue and silver stars that it feels impossible to count them all. The blue chrome 28-inch rims that, at the center, have the logo and name of their car club, CowboysLife—one word added so as not to infringe on trademarks.

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Local News

The Case For Grocery Stores In Dallas’ Many Food Deserts

| 1 month ago

Anga Sanders didn’t understand why it required a nonprofit to make fresh food available in her underserved neighborhood of South Oak Cliff. She’d consider the question while assembling a salad at the Uptown Albertson’s. Where were all the salad bars on Kiest?

The introverted human resources CEO is the founder of Feed Oak Cliff, a nonprofit that does what its name suggests: it offers fresh produce and healthy options to a neighborhood that needs it. Sanders, who was one of the first black students at SMU, isn’t blind to how the deep divides between northern and southern Dallas play out in terms of nutrition. She was willing to drive 12 miles each way to Uptown because, while there were other grocers in between, the variety of fresh produce and extensive salad bar couldn’t be found near her house.

She thinks the lack of fresh groceries in southern Dallas is about more than profit. “We have a lot of isms in this country: racism, classism, but this is place-ism,” she says. “[People in southern Dallas] eat chips, Cheetos, and honey buns, but why? Because that is what they have access to.”

Other areas of town have the opposite problem. Drive from the Snider Plaza Tom Thumb in Highland Park toward Mockingbird Station, a distance of just under two miles. There is a Kroger grocery store at Mockingbird and Greenville. Now, drive less than a mile down Mockingbird and you’ll find another Tom Thumb. A left on Greenville is just a mile away from yet another Tom Thumb and a Central Market, which is just across Lovers Lane.

In the wealthier and whiter segments of Dallas, residents drive past big box grocery stores full of fresh produce and affordable food so that they can get to another big box grocery store that they prefer. But in large swaths of Dallas, this is not the case. In 2018 the Department of Agriculture identified 88 separate food deserts in Dallas County. Over half of them were in three southern portions of Dallas. In these areas, the best option for food is often a corner or dollar store, which are both more expensive and less nutritious than the grocery stores that are on every other block in North and East Dallas.

Access to nutritious food is part of a larger problem around those areas’ social determinants of health, which include education, transportation, housing and healthcare deficits. A study by the University of Texas system found that residents in a South Dallas ZIP code had a life expectancy of 26 years fewer than those who lived in East Dallas. Those ZIP codes are just two miles apart.

“When your ZIP code can literally determine your life span, that’s a problem,” Sanders says.

High crime, low income, and a lack of other retailers are often cited as reasons for grocery stores avoiding food deserts. But soon-to-be-published research from University of North Texas professor Dr. Chetan Tiwari and market research expert Ed Rincón is dismantling pre-conceived notions about how these communities spend their money. Their report provides objective evidence that grocery stores are missing an opportunity to make money and improve the health of a city along the way.

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David Pillsbury Is Making ClubCorp About More Than Golf

| 2 months ago

When ClubCorp CEO David “Pills” Pillsbury was 12 years old, he nearly burned down his family’s home. He had seen a janitor at his school mark a playing field by killing lines of grass with kerosene. Pillsbury and a friend tried the same technique to create a badminton court. But the boys lit the highly combustible fuel with a propane torch, triggering a wildfire on the 5-acre property.

‘David! Goddammit! Call the fire department!’ my father shouted as he ran to the fire and I ran toward the house,” Pillsbury recalls. “I had to appear before the fire chief and make my case to avoid my parents having to pay $5,000 that they didn’t have to offset the cost of fighting the fire. Talk about pressure.”

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How Dallas Saved Fashion History

| 3 months 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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How To Miss a Bull Market

| 3 months ago

This is all terribly personal and embarrassing, so let me tell you what I can share about our main character, that hapless soul, without violating his trust. He is approaching his 50th birthday, which seems impossible to him. He has been married for 23 years to an industrious woman who has borne two beautiful children. One attends a state university with a porcine mascot, and the other is an eighth-grader at a Dallas private school. His wife owns a thriving small business. He is the editor of a respected magazine whose subscribers have an audit-verified median household income of $340,000.

When they got married, he and his wife were directed to a financial planner whom they implicitly trusted because the planner had worked for a family member. One bit of advice he remembers receiving early on was that fretting over his 401(k) statements and the like would be a waste of time, because growing one’s net worth takes time, and he had lots of it. There would be fluctuations. No matter. He and his industrious wife should just keep plugging away, spending less than they earned, putting aside what they could. That is what they did.

2008 came and went without destroying the couple, mainly because they didn’t have all that much to destroy. The planner performed valuable services, to be sure, buying life insurance policies, establishing 529 plans for the kids’ educations. All along, the planner reminded his clients that his was a conservative approach. There would be no outsize returns, but neither would there be catastrophic losses.

Then one day earlier this year, our main character and his wife went to visit their planner for their annual check-in. By that point, the planner had hired a junior associate at the firm who had assumed the advisory role once played by the planner, presumably because our main character’s meager accounts no longer merited the attention of the man whose name was etched on the firm’s glass door. But, hey, our main character knew that journalism, in most cases, wasn’t a path to riches. The junior associate reviewed the numbers, which he projected onto an impressively large screen in a conference room. “If we assume a 9 percent annual return,” said the junior associate, “here’s what you can expect when you retire. You’re on track.”

This was how the check-ins always went. Everything always looked on track. Our main character, painfully aware of his own financial ignorance, would mostly just nod and agree that, yes, it would be nice if he could put more money aside, but the house needed a new roof and so on and so forth. And wasn’t that why he was annually paying 1.5 percent of assets under management? To have the planner or at least the planner’s junior associate worry about his money and tell him if things weren’t on track?

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The Short, Wild Run of Dallas’ First Professional Women’s Basketball Team

| 3 months ago

Fake diamonds, fresh hairdos, and Martina Navratilova. That’s what Dallas Diamonds owner Jud Phillips was banking on to draw the crowds to the Dallas Convention Center Arena for the first home game of the city’s first professional women’s basketball team on November 27, 1979. To be more precise, it was the city’s only professional basketball team. The NBA wouldn’t bring the Mavericks to town for another year. So the 28-year-old Phillips was breaking all-new ground.

He had managed to sign a sponsorship deal with Zales that would put all 36 of the season’s games on the radio. And for the opening-night promotion, everyone who bought a ticket would receive a diamond, one of which would be real. Of course, the only way to find out if you were the lucky winner was to visit a Zales store.

To add some sex appeal, the team’s official stylists, J.D. & We, held a marathon hair-styling session a few days prior to the game. According to the Dallas Times Herald, though, it was more about strategy than sex. The paper reported that all of the players received “new hairdos so they won’t be bothered by hair in the face at the free throw line.”

In a last-minute coup, the team’s PR manager had convinced Martina Navratilova, a Dallas resident who had just won her second Wimbledon title, to toss up the ceremonial jump ball.

At the end of that Tuesday night, Phillips heaved a sigh of relief. The young team owner was pleased with the turnout of 2,477 and the 116–100 victory over the California Dreams. The future shone bright like a diamond. The only question was, was it real or fake?

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Health & Medicine

A Medical Mystery, Unfolding on Facebook

| 4 months ago

When I was 3 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The chronic disease has never been a big deal for me. It’s obnoxious, sure, but manageable. Over the course of my 34 years, I estimate I’ve given myself some 55,000 injections. I’ve worked hard to stay healthy. I have run a few half-marathons and completed a full. I’m not a fast runner, and I never particularly enjoyed it, but I knew my diabetes would catch up to me at some point, so I ran because I could.

About three and a half years ago, everything changed. I was part of a group of women called Leadership Texas. It was a yearlong program with which we traveled to different cities and learned about the people making a difference. One of our sessions was in Amarillo. The second day of the trip, on a Saturday, I woke up in my hotel room soaked in sweat. Every part of my body was swollen. I couldn’t bend my fingers, my toes, my elbows, or my knees. I was exhausted beyond description.

I had joined a study a year and a half prior to see if a medicine that is used on Type 2 diabetics could work for Type 1s. It had been a great 18 months, with lower blood sugars and weight loss. But then I changed jobs and, thus, insurance companies. The new company didn’t like the name-brand drug. They made me switch to a generic.

That morning in Amarillo, I figured I was having a reaction to this new drug. I was convinced that things would go back to normal in a few weeks. I was certain it was just a small bump in the road.

I was wrong.

What follows are my Facebook posts over the years, lightly edited, as I saw nearly a dozen doctors in an effort to figure out what was wrong with me.

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Killer Instinct

| 4 months ago

A rich old man moved from South Dakota to Texas to be closer to his prison pen pal, a woman serving 50 years for conspiracy to commit murder. Then he died mysteriously.

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Health & Medicine

The Doctor You See When Nothing Else Works

| 4 months ago

Juan Gutierrez didn’t notice it at first. It started slowly. He thought, I’m probably just tired or sore from sleeping wrong. But eventually his friends saw that he was having a hard time walking. Over the course of three years, his gait became more unsteady with each passing day. When simple motor functions go awry, the diagnosis often involves a brain problem, and Gutierrez did his best to avoid getting bad news. But he finally went to a doctor and was told he had a brain tumor. An MRI eliminated any doubt.

The only treatment, Gutierrez was informed, was a risky surgery on his brain stem. Before he went forward with the surgery, though, he decided to get a second opinion. That’s how Gutierrez found his way to UT Southwestern and Dr. Juan Pascual’s Rare Brain Disorder Program at the O’Donnell Brain Institute.

The son of a philosophy professor and a literature professor at the University of Málaga, in Spain, Pascual grew up surrounded by books. As a young man, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and study philosophy, but his father warned him away from that path. It would be too difficult to make a living as a philosopher, he told his son. He suggested that Pascual study medicine instead and apply philosophy to his practice. So that’s what he did.

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