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D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: The Greatest Bowling Story Ever Told

Matt Goodman
By |
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Bill Fong in his element. photography by Tadd Myers

Twelve years ago, Michael J. Mooney set out to write a story about someone who almost made history. His subject was Bill Fong, a 48-year-old hobbyist bowler who came within a single pin (spoiler!) of rolling 36 consecutive strikes one night at the Plano Super Bowl. As Mooney wrote, a 300 isn’t anything spectacular. “If you count all the bowling alleys all over America, somebody somewhere bowls a 300 every night.” Now, a perfect series, three 300s in a row, that’s the thing that gets you on SportsCenter. Or, in the case of an 899, a 200-or-so-word blurb in the Dallas Morning News and one of the very best sports magazine stories ever written.

“An 899 is even more rare than a 900,” Mooney says today.

After hunting down that News story, Mooney, then a D staff writer, started calling Fong at home. No answer. Eventually, he called the bowling alley and asked whether he was there. He got Fong on the phone, introduced himself, and said he wanted to write a story about that night in 2010. “He thought that I was playing a prank on him,” Mooney told me. “He thought that his friends had arranged me to call him and that I was playing some sort of elaborate trick on him.”

“The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever” was published two years after Fong came so close to perfection. Mooney wrote about that night like he was there: how the 10 pin wobbled before collapsing on his fifth roll, how Fong stood and watched the nine pin sputter on the 12th, how he switched balls on his second set and was called “crazy” by a man a few lanes down. Fong kept copious, detailed notes, equating the Plano Super Bowl to Tiger Woods’ home golf course. A video posted to YouTube helped color in the scenes.

This is Mooney’s favorite story he’s ever written.

“The thing I like most about stories is structure and the puzzle, seeing how the puzzle fits together,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ve had another story that was a more satisfying puzzle. Imperfection is something that we all relate to a lot better than perfection.”

Fong never got his 900. The two still text, especially on January 10, the night’s anniversary. The New York Times put together a short documentary about the evening. Mooney annotated the story for the Nieman Journalism Lab, and it was featured in a collection of that year’s best sports stories. Fong opened up his own business nearby; the Bowling Medic Pro Shop is still drilling bowling balls today. And he still rolls at the Plano Super Bowl.

“He will probably be there, if he’s not there right now,” Mooney said. “He will probably be there within the next 24 hours or has been there in the last 24 hours.”

“The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever” is one of the 50 best we’ve ever published, and we’re highlighting it in this week’s entry.

Local News

A Dismal Snapshot of the First Three Days of Early Primary Voting

Bethany Erickson
By |
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Democratic primary voters outnumber Republican voters at the Lochwood Library polling location by nearly 2 to 1 after three days of early voting. Bret Redman

Early voting in the March primary elections began Tuesday, and so far, turnout has been slow in Dallas County. 

The Republican and Democratic ballots include dozens of races, including two Dallas County commissioner seats, a whole slate of judges, state and federal lawmakers, and the president of the United States. 

Out of 1,424,183 registered Dallas County voters, roughly 24,217 have voted in the first three days of early voting. If you’re doing the math at home, that is 1.7 percent of registered voters.

To break that down further, 21,597 people have cast early votes, and another 2,620 have mailed in ballots. Of those mail-in ballots, 1,975 voted in the Democratic primary, and 645 returned ballots for the Republican primary. Voters have cast 8,902 early GOP ballots and 12,695 Democratic ballots.

Local News

With No New Facility Coming Anytime Soon, Dallas Animal Services Gets Creative

Bethany Erickson
By |
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Loretta, a larger mixed-breed dog, was adopted from Dallas Animal Services in October. Bethany Erickson

When the upcoming $1.25 billion bond package appears on May ballots, there will be many programs and requests for funding that didn’t make the cut. One of those is a request from Dallas Animal Services, which tried and failed to make a case for a new $114 million facility last fall.

The current shelter, which sits on Interstate 30 and Westmoreland Road, was originally built to contain animals that were picked up because they were dangerous or seized by law enforcement. It now holds animals much longer in hopes of reuniting them with their families or adopting them out. The department has a goal of releasing 90 percent of its animals to fosters, adoption, or reunification. It met that goal in 2019-2020. In January, the live release rate was 85 percent for cats and dogs.

“We used to think of animal control as protecting people from animals, and the humane society was protecting animals from people. But now animal control is often expected to do both,” Mary Martin, the assistant director of Dallas Animal Services, said last fall.

That means that DAS is almost chronically overflowing with adoptable pets. In previous meetings, shelter officials said that overcrowding means that there aren’t enough play spaces for dogs to socialize or for prospective families to always have the opportunity to comfortably interact with a potential new pet.

The new shelter would have addressed all of that and would have created more space for the community to come in and interact with animals. 

Until funding comes through, DAS will rely on foster programs and incentives to entice the would-be pet owners to consider adoption. On Friday, the department announced that it would offer $50 Petco gift cards this weekend for the first 75 people to adopt a dog. The shelter is at 139 percent capacity for dogs, with large breed dogs making up most of that. Last weekend, the shelter received 161 dogs over a three-day period.

Local News

Leading Off (2/23/24)

Bethany Erickson
By |

SOS. If you were not one of at least 74,000 people who walked around all morning yesterday with your phone saying “SOS,” love that for you. A massive national outage impacted several carriers, but mostly AT&T. By yesterday afternoon, service had returned. AT&T explained the cause was an oops during a network expansion, not solar flares or cyber attacks.

Mail Carrier’s Widow to Attend SOTU. U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett said this week that Carla Gates, the widow of the late mail carrier Eugene Gates, will attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address as her guest in March. The Lancaster resident’s husband died while delivering mail in June’s extreme heat. She now advocates for safer conditions for mail carriers.

No Summer Lunches in Texas. Texas will not participate in a $2.5 billion summer lunch program that could help 3.8 million qualifying children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Texas is losing about $450 million in federal tax dollars. The state says the feds didn’t give enough notice to implement it. Thirty-five states are participating.

Southwest Ground Workers Get a Raise. Southwest Airlines ground workers have negotiated a contract with the airline to give ramp, operations, provisioning, and freight agents an average raise of 18 percent. Transport Workers Union Local 555 says they last had a pay increase almost three years ago. Members will vote to ratify the new contract once the union provides a timeline.

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Local News

Dallas’ Effort to Consider an Interim City Manager Stumbles Out of the Gate

Bethany Erickson
By |
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Then-Downtown Dallas CEO Kourtny Garrett interviews City Manager T.C. Broadnax at the Sheraton Dallas hotel on October 28, 2021. Broadnax announced Wednesday that he would resign his post, effective June 3. Tim Rogers

This story was first published on 2/22. It was most recently updated on 2/23 at 10:30 a.m. to reflect an additional city council committee meeting.

In the wake of City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s resignation announcement, a new conflict has apparently arisen between Mayor Eric Johnson and some of the City Council.

Just hours after six Council members drafted a news release Wednesday announcing Broadnax’s impending departure, members Jaime Resendez, Jaynie Schultz, and Adam Bazaldua filed a three-person memo requesting a special-called briefing on February 27 to consider appointing Deputy City Manager Kim Tolbert as interim city manager. 

On Thursday afternoon, Johnson fired off his own memo, saying, in part, that it is “important for us to work together to create a successful transition and determine a path forward.”

In the memo, he placed the search process in the hands of the Ad Hoc Committee on Administrative Affairs and added council members Paul Ridley and Kathy Stewart to the committee. Until Thursday, the committee consisted of three people: Tennell Atkins, Cara Mendelsohn, and Jesse Moreno.

The mayor also said he would not attend the February 27 meeting, arguing there’s “no need or reason to rush this process.” Since Broadnax’s resignation isn’t effective until June 3, discussions about search processes and interim city managers, he wrote, can be added to upcoming agendas. The Council’s next regular meeting is February 28.

Since Dallas has a weak mayor system, Johnson has little control over whether the Council opts to consider an interim city manager at next week’s special-called meeting. Aside from a handful of administrative duties and presiding over meetings and briefings, his powers are those of a 15th, at-large council member.

The agenda for February 27’s special-called meeting was posted late Thursday evening. The first order of business is a discussion about Broadnax’s resignation and a resolution to appoint Tolbert as interim city manager on his last day, June 3. The body will then discuss the search process for Broadnax’s permanent replacement.

Shortly after that agenda was posted, a meeting was scheduled for the now-expanded Ad Hoc Committee on Administrative Affairs.  The agenda for that meeting, which will be held on Monday, is roughly what Johnson outlined as the committee’s duties in his memo.

Should the mayor not attend the special called meeting next Tuesday, the City Council will have the opportunity to name an interim without the mayor present. If there is no consensus for Tolbert, they could move to defer the vote or table the matter.

Without fail, the cast and crew of the Dallas-Fort Worth-based theater troupe Los Bastardos arrive at the Inwood Theatre on the last Saturday of every month to perform a live shadow cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show as it’s played on one of the three screens.

Victor Entropy and his fellow castmates act out the movie below the screen, encouraging the audience to play along. But this Saturday’s show is a question mark—the theater’s landlord, Inwood Village, has posted a lockout notice on the door. 

Entropy says that although the lockout saddens the group because they feel it is their home theater, he believes the closure is only temporary. The show listing remains on the group’s website and social media accounts.

“We anticipate knowing more come Friday or Saturday, and very much hope to be gracing their stage this weekend,” he said.

The lockout notice says that Inwood Village terminated the lease on February 19 because of “a default.” The theater has been owned by Landmark Theatres since 2929 Entertainment (owned by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner) purchased Landmark in 2003. They sold the theater chain to Cohen Media Group in 2018. 

A spokesperson with Open Realty Advisors, the property management group responsible for leasing Inwood Village, declined to comment on the lockout. Landmark and Cohen Media Group did not respond to emails. The theater’s Facebook page has not been updated since January 11, and its website shows no movie listings as of Thursday.

Built in 1947, the Inwood is one of the few remaining movie theaters in Dallas built between the 1930s and 1940s. The Texas Theatre, which opened in 1931, remains one of the city’s best moviegoing experiences, melding film with events and a popular bar. The Magnolia in West Village is still open as a Violet Crown location, showing a mix of arthouse, older, and mainstream films. Highland Park Village’s Village Theatre shuttered during the pandemic and is now a Ralph Lauren store. The Forest Theater ceased showing movies in the 1960s.

You’ve probably heard that the city manager of Dallas is on his way out. Over at Channel 8, they reported that T.C. Broadnax orchestrated his own dismissal by the City Council, thereby triggering a clause in his contract that will pay him a year’s worth of his salary, $432,247. Channel 8 published this report citing “sources” and “unnamed councilmembers.”

Those same exact sources have confirmed for D Magazine that the next city manager has already been chosen. He is J.C. Hughes, the current city administrator of Cottonwood Shores, Texas. Prior to his post in Cottonwood Shores, population 1,635, Hughes served as city manager of Nacogdoches (1998-2002), Little Elm (2003-2006), and Pilot Point (2009-2010).

“We know he’s an outside-the-box choice,” said an unnamed source who spoke on the condition of being described as “well-dressed.” “But Dallas has a strong tradition that we had to uphold. T.C. Broadnax was great. Before him, there was A.C. Gonzalez. Not so great. But he had those traditional Dallas city manager initials. So we looked down at Cottonwood Shores. Boom, there’s ol’ J.C.”

Hughes is no stranger to controversy. In 2022, he was issued an admonishment for calling a Cottonwood Shores police sergeant a “smartass.”

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson could not be reached for comment, because this entire report is a joke. Except for the fact that the city administrator of Cottonwood Shores is actually named J.C. Hughes and he actually called a cop a smartass, which is pretty awesome.

Local News

Leading Off (2/22/24)

Matt Goodman
By |

WFAA: Broadnax Orchestrated Exit. Citing “sources” and unnamed council members, WFAA pieced together what happened away from public view before the city manager announced his resignation. According to Jason Whitely, T.C. Broadnax approached Councilman Jaime Resendez and told him he planned to quit. Resendez, the report says, then identified seven more council members who would ask for Broadnax’s resignation. Requesting the city manager to resign would trigger a clause in his contract that gives him a payout worth 12 months of his salary: $432,247. And they kept it quiet from the mayor, who had tried and failed to organize Broadnax’s firing in 2022.

Charter Commission Votes Against Moving Municipal Elections to November. Proponents believe that punting elections to November would increase the city’s absolutely dismal turnout. The 9-6 vote to keep them as-is was reflective of concern that moving city elections from May to November would insert partisan politics into nonpartisan races. Never mind that the mayor of the city made a big to-do about changing his political party and then launched an advocacy group for Republican mayors. We’re already selectively partisan.

There Is a Giant Cell Phone Outage Right Now. AT&T customers are likely without service this morning. T-Mobile and Verizon folks are at risk, but don’t seem as affected. The service disruption began around 3 a.m and AT&T hasn’t said what happened or when service will be restored.

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Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax Has Announced His Resignation

Matt Goodman
By |
t c broadnax dallas city manager
City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who was hired to run Dallas in 2017. Jonathan Zizzo

City Manager T.C. Broadnax will resign June 3 at the behest of a majority of the City Council, which cited the broken relationship with Mayor Eric Johnson as a primary factor in their decision. Six council members drafted an announcement that, in part, says “the dynamic between these key citywide figures has unfortunately hindered the realization of our city’s full potential.”

“It is imperative that we address this issue head-on in order to move forward,” the release says. “It is essential to recognize that effective governance requires collective effort and a shared commitment to the well-being of our community.”

Council members Jaime Resendez, Jaynie Schultz, Omar Narvaez, Adam Bazaldua, Zarin Gracey, and Gay Donnell Willis worked together to draft the release. Council Member Paula Blackmon also said in an interview with D Magazine that she would support the city manager’s firing but did not help with the announcement.

“In order to have a successful city, the mayor and the city manager have to work together,” said Blackmon, who served as chief of staff under Mayor Mike Rawlings and deputy chief of staff in Mayor Tom Leppert’s office. She cited what she said were successful partnerships between former City Manager John Ware and Mayor Ron Kirk, as well as former City Manager Mary Suhm and mayors Laura Miller, Leppert, and Rawlings.

“When you have a dysfunctional relationship, you get chaos,” Blackmon said.

Johnson and Broadnax have spent years waging private and public battles over the direction of the city and their responsibilities. In Dallas’ form of government, the city manager is essentially the chief executive. He plans and oversees a $4.3 billion budget and more than 14,000 employees. The mayor creates and assigns committees and runs Council meetings, in addition to organizing volunteer-led task forces and other adjacent initiatives. But he is one vote of 15, and the city manager follows the will of the Council as a whole.

The mayor and city manager rarely meet together, instead choosing to communicate through memos. Johnson quietly led an attempt to fire Broadnax in 2022, which ultimately failed. But the push progressed far enough that three council members privately offered Broadnax the opportunity to resign, Willis said at the time.

“We thought that was the best course of action,” she said then.

That appears to be the same process a majority of the Council took this month, which avoids a discussion over the city manager’s performance. The first attempt to remove him came after the collapse of the city’s permitting system, which caused monthslong delays to new commercial and residential construction projects. There was also a widely publicized I.T. failure in which millions of pieces of police data were deleted during a server migration; the Council was not notified for over a year.

Many of the calamities, particularly permitting, were lying in wait. But the city manager’s relationship with the mayor often made it more difficult to align on solutions. Even recent planning for the $1.25 billion bond was marred by their inability to communicate. The mayor created a volunteer-led task force to make recommendations on how to spend the money it planned to borrow, but the city manager prioritized the analysis of his staff. The mayor was absent when the community task force presented its report, which caused more confusion about what set of numbers the City Council should be working from.

“We have no North Star as a Council. I can only hope that this deep loss to our city results in leadership that we have been lacking,” read a statement from Bazaldua.

If their relationship is truly holding city governance back, the Council has only so many levers it can pull. And one of those, per the city charter, is assembling eight votes to support firing the city manager. Johnson’s second term will last through 2027.

“Our priority needs to be effective governance instead of personal ambitions; we need to be focused on running a government that serves its people and unites us as One Dallas,” Bazaldua said.

Gracey and Resendez, who helped draft the Council’s letter, have not responded to requests for comment. (Resendez’s council liaison was listed as a press contact on the news release.) Council members Carolyn King Arnold, Paul Ridley, and Jesse Moreno also have not responded to voicemails and text messages.

Council Member Tennell Atkins said just before 4 p.m. that the news was “a shock to me” and “I really don’t know what’s going on. … I was not one of those City Council members involved in the conversation. It’s new to me,” he said. “I just found out through someone calling me.”

Council Member Chad West said in a prepared statement that “we must and will keep the city’s momentum going in our housing, economic development, environmental, and parks and trail efforts. Dallas is a city on the move, and I look forward to working with whomever steps up to the plate in the coming weeks.”

In a statement, Johnson said he briefly spoke with Broadnax about his decision. He downplayed just how much the two were reportedly at loggerheads.

“TC was tough — he often knew what he wanted for Dallas and would fight hard for it. And I would do the same,” the mayor said. “We did not always see eye to eye, but we still worked together to help move this city forward.”

Johnson said he would have more to say about a national search for Broadnax’s replacement soon.

Resendez, Schultz, and Bazaldua have filed a three-person memo requesting a special-called meeting to consider appointing Deputy City Manager Kim Tolbert as the interim replacement. Tolbert has worked closely alongside Broadnax since he began in 2017. Her biography on the city website calls her “the City Manager’s top trusted advisor.”

While Broadnax may have gotten crosswise with the mayor, staffers who worked closely to him frequently praised his leadership. One staff member who spoke on background said that he was “so loved here.” He broke the news of his departure to the group this afternoon. Staffers reportedly reacted with “tears and long faces.”

Broadnax then sent a message to the rest of City Hall announcing his decision. He wrote that he hoped his “departure provides the City Council an opportunity to reset, refocus, and transition to a new City manager that continues to move the City forward and will allow for a more effective working relationship with the Mayor and City Council moving forward.”

Broadnax and his staff were overseeing or involved in several major projects, including a $1.25 billion May bond election; the plan to bring the city’s pensions for police and firefighters and city employees to solvency; the once-a-decade review of the city’s charter; and a new convention center, transit hub, and high-speed rail station downtown. 

He will still be a city employee when voters decide on the bond propositions and the Council weighs in on changes to the charter, but he will be gone before many of those tasks will be completed.

The City Council unanimously approved Broadnax’s hiring in December 2016, making him the city’s first chief executive from outside Dallas in decades. He previously served as city manager in Tacoma, Washington, and as assistant city manager in San Antonio and Pompano Beach, Florida. The City Council will appoint an interim city manager at some point in the future.

This is a developing story and we’ll have more information shortly.

Bethany Erickson contributed to this report.

As Stephen King first reported, the Old 97’s will drop their new album, American Primitive, on April 4. Yesterday the band released a video for the single “Where the Road Goes.” It’s either a sappy, overly sentimental tour down memory lane, or it’s a touching reminiscence of the band’s early days, a meditation on the passage of time that anyone with a mortgage can appreciate. Or, you know, it’s a music video with old clips in it.

Whatever the case, there is one major problem with this video. And that problem is an egregious copyright violation that will be met with the most strongly worded of cease-and-desist letters. At the 3:28 mark of the video, captured above, an image of the cover of The Met appears for less than a second. I believe this was the first lengthy profile of the band ever published. This would have been in 1994.

I don’t need to tell you what The Met was. It was the most significant, influential, free weekly magapaper ever to come out of Dallas and focus an entire issue on gratuitously using the word “monkey” in all its forms (e.g., “monkeyshine,” “monkey wrench,” etc.). Also, it was bound with staples. The parent company of the Dallas Observer, New Times Inc., flush with cash from sex ads, bought The Met and shuttered it in 2000. Then New Times became Village Voice Media; the original founders, Mike Lacey and Steve Larkin, went their own way by splitting off the Backpage.com sex business; Larkin killed himself; and, finally, Lacey is now facing another trial on dozens of prostitution facilitation and money laundering charges.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Soon as we can find a lawyer who knows where The Met paperwork is, the Old 97’s are in deep trouble.

Local News

Erykah Badu Will Soon Stare at You From DART Buses and Trains

Christopher Mosley
By Christopher Mosley |
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Erykah Badu announcing her partnership with DART, at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Can Erykah Badu save the planet? We are, after all, living in the hottest February in the history of record-keeping, a fact that was too obvious to ignore as we stood in the sun outside the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts on Tuesday afternoon.

Badu was there, at her alma mater, standing alongside a small roster of public works dignitaries eager to introduce a marketing initiative that had been in the works for more than half a decade. Badu’s face will soon be on two buses and three light-rail trains as they crisscross Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s 13 member cities. 

The goal, as these branding opportunities go, is to get more people to ride. It sounds simple, but it is in line with far more ambitious challenges. If Dallas wants to meet its climate goals, it will need to cut emissions. It certainly could not hurt to start by getting more people to step aboard a bus, and who better than Badu to encourage such a behavioral change? 

Badu’s likeness will stare out at traffic from a few DART buses and trains that have been wrapped in purple and pink. The words “BADU BUS” are flanked by a pair of portraits of the superstar artist who kept her hometown as her home. 

“Yes, I am the DART cover girl,” said Badu, who took the stage with her fists raised above her braids. “I am the perfect poor person for this job.”



Local News

Leading Off (2/21/24)

Matt Goodman
By |

Officers Fired 19 Times at Mesquite Student. As Tim wrote yesterday, a 16-year-old was shot by police at Pioneer Technology and Arts Academy Oates campus on Monday after pulling a gun in the school’s office. Officers fired 19 times and struck the kid in the leg; he never fired his weapon. All shots were “confined to the office,” which was located at the end of a hall away from classrooms.

Teen Missing From Northwest Dallas. Police fear that Liliana Campos, 13, is lost and needs medical help. She disappeared on Tuesday morning from the 9800 block of Brockbank Drive, which is close to Lombardy Lane and Harry Hines Boulevard. The department is thin on details, but she’s 5’6 and 180 pounds.

Perot Museum Donating 1 Million Eclipse Glasses. The museum is giving the glasses away to 40 school districts across the region, including Dallas ISD, Denton ISD, Fort Worth ISD, and Arlington ISD. They’ll also fan out across community events, including Klyde Warren Park’s watch party. The eclipse is Monday, April 8.

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