Thursday, January 27, 2022 Jan 27, 2022
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A Daily Conversation About Dallas
Urban Design

If You’re on Foot, Keep Avoiding the ‘3G’ Intersection

Matt Goodman
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The work at the Garland-Grand-Gaston intersection is not great for pedestrians.

Earlier this month, we caught sight of a pedestrian attempting to cross the always-treacherous Grand-Garland-Gaston intersection in East Dallas. Construction crews had removed the median and left a pit, forcing walkers to stand in it while waiting for traffic to pass. She’s waiting to cross the southbound lanes of traffic; meanwhile, cars turning right on Gaston can merge without having to stop. She has taken refuge in the pit.

This is a Texas Department of Transportation job that began in early December and will continue through the spring of 2023. That project includes the construction of “new access points for pedestrians and cycling traffic to safely cross through the intersection.”

The median as it existed prior to this project was hardly safe and more like a reprieve from human Frogger. TxDOT spokesperson Kenna Mitchell notes that this portion of northbound State Highway 78 doesn’t have a stop or a light heading toward White Rock Lake. There were some “inadequate” pedestrian markings in the center of the interchange, which forced pedestrians to cross active lanes of traffic only to find areas without sidewalks on the other side.

“This project will address those needs by reconfiguring the traffic patterns at the interchange and constructing safe and accessible pedestrian crossings across the entire interchange including the highway lanes,” Mitchell says.

Humor

My Secret to Getting Into the Swing of the New Year

Tim Rogers
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Hole 3 at Tenison Highlands. The author mid-swing.

I wrote the following seven paragraphs for the editor’s note in the January issue of D Magazine. I’ve got an update for you. But first, the copy as we printed it:


One of my friends on staff here asked me what I planned to do in 2022. We were talking about this month’s cover story, “52 Things to Do in Dallas.” (It’s online right now, by the way.) This was in early December. I said, “There’s only one thing I know with certainty that I’m doing in 2022. I’m playing golf on New Year’s Day.”

I don’t remember when the tradition started, but one year I decided to keep my powder dry on New Year’s Eve and get up early the next morning to be the first person on the course. My preferred neighborhood track is Tenison Highlands. It was bitterly cold that year, and I couldn’t muster any interest from my usual playing partners, so I teed off alone at daybreak, bundled up in a down jacket. It turned out to be one of the best rounds of my life, but not because of the score.

Local News

Leading Off (1/26/22)

Peter Simek
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Two More Men Arrested in Connection to Colleyville Siege. That’s about all we know. The men were arrested by the Greater Manchester police who believe they have some connection to the Colleyville synagogue hostage situation, but police have not released any other details.

City May Buy Abandoned Hospital for Homeless. The council will vote today on whether to spend $6.5 million in bond money to purchase the former University General Hospital, near Kiest Park in Oak Cliff, which would be turned into housing for the homeless.

Elton John Cancels Dallas Farewell Tour Shows Due to Covid. The singer was set to play two concerts at the AAC last night and tonight, but he contracted the virus. Fully vaccinated and boosted, John’s symptoms are mild. Fans tickets will be honored at rescheduled dates.

Snow Possible Today. But only northwest of DFW.

Television

An Englishman’s Appreciation of King of the Hill

Richard Patterson
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King of the Hill on FOX followed the Hill family and various residents of Arlen, a fictional Texas town reportedly modeled on the suburbs of Dallas.

Editor’s note: Richard Patterson is a painter who wrote in the November issue of D Magazine about (among other things) being an expat in Dallas. The article was titled “The Unbearable Lightness of Being Wlodek Malowanczyk.”

I’m pleased to read that King of the Hill is returning. It’s a genius show. It was how I learned Texan. When I first came here, I couldn’t understand a word anyone said or why they drove funny or why they used tractors to mow their lawns or why four men stood around in the street next to a truck for no apparent reason or why housewives in Casa Linda drove 350 Hemi pickups in order to pick up muffins and a pack of 24 hotdog buns from the nearby Albertsons. I guess 24 is quite a lot. I guess you need a pretty powerful truck for that. 

It was only when I thought back to watching King of the Hill from my 31st-floor Barbican apartment in central London in the late ’90s, that I had a eureka moment. Back in London, I thought the whole thing was hyperbole, but once I’d bought a house in East Dallas, I came to realize that King of the Hill is not really a satire; it’s just how people are in Garlington. 

Coronavirus

Dallas Doc to Joe Rogan: Physicians and World Leaders Have ‘Mass Formation Psychosis’

Will Maddox
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Residents line up outside Jerry's Supermarket to sign up through the county's portal for the coronavirus vaccine on Friday, January 22, 2021.

When I listened to The Joe Rogan Experience episode featuring Dallas physician Dr. Peter McCullough, there was one data point he brought up that stuck with me. He spoke about Bangladesh, which at the time had almost no COVID-19 cases. McCullough and Rogan discussed oral drugs like Ivermectin, the anti-parasitic used worldwide to treat COVID-19, despite nearly all medical authorities saying it shouldn’t be used.

But it seemed Bangladesh was doing something right. While omicron was raging in the U.S. and leading to record case numbers, almost no cases were there. Considering the density, living conditions, and medical care in the southeast Asian nation, Bangladesh should have been ripe spreading ground for this very contagious variant. McCullough mentioned Peru, Mexico, and Japan as countries where Ivermectin was helping to “crush the curves,” despite what medical authorities were saying.

As it turns out, the lack of cases in Bangladesh had nothing to do with its use of Ivermectin. It hadn’t cracked the code and flouted medical best practice to stop the virus. It was just behind schedule. The omicron wave hadn’t yet hit Bangladesh when the podcast was recorded, but, as of this writing, cases are spiking just like they did here in the U.S. In almost every country where Ivermectin was commonly used and thought to have controlled COVID-19 (many in Latin America), they are now experiencing record highs in case numbers.

McCullough is a Dallas cardiologist at The Heart Place, a local cardiologist group. He has over 1,000 publications to his name, and has been the co-editor of Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine and the chair of the National Kidney Foundation’s KIdney Early Evaluation Program. He is no stranger to the spotlight and has testified before the Texas Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, sticking to his arguments doubting the medical establishment’s approach to the pandemic. He questions the vaccine’s efficacy for certain groups, the existence of reinfection, and argues that the push for vaccination is evidence of mass psychosis. His thoughts have found an audience on the internet, if not with health systems.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s online pharmacy, which launched last week, does not accept health insurance. What the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company does offer, however, is prescription drugs at such steeply discounted prices that it says you’ll still wind up paying less than you would at a typical pharmacy.

That’s because Cuban’s online pharmacy is selling generic drugs at manufacturers’ prices plus a flat 15 percent markup. So mesalamine, a medication that is used to treat ulcerative colitis and retails for more than $950, can be had for $36.90. The antidepressant fluoxetine (brand name: Zoloft; retail price: $22.94) is sold for $3.90. And so on.

Cuban, businessman that he is, surely saw there was a demand for more affordable drugs. Almost everybody agrees that prescription drug prices are, to borrow a phrase, too damn high. (This is despite the fact that surveys show the pharmaceutical industry—long a go-to villain in American life—is more popular than it’s been in years, at least in part because of Big Pharma’s role in the swift development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.) There isn’t such widespread agreement on who or what is at fault for these high prices.

Cuban unsurprisingly (and somewhat convincingly) blames the middlemen. His pharmacy sets prices directly with manufacturers, leaving out the so-called “pharmacy-benefit management” companies that usually do the negotiating and, critics argue, pocket a more than reasonable share of the savings.

Local News

Leading Off (1/25/22)

Tim Rogers
By  |

Good Omicron News! UT Southwestern updated their COVID forecast yesterday, and they think we may have hit seen the peak in Dallas County. (Tarrant County is a different story; numbers are still headed up there.) The president and CEO of the DFW Hospital Council said, “[W]e are cautiously optimistic on today’s report.” Still, though, Lewisville ISD will cancel all classes starting tomorrow because of COVID-related staffing shortages.

DART Rejiggering Leads to Some Confusion. DART redesigned its entire bus system, putting the changes in place yesterday. No surprise, but the DMN found some riders who were struggling to adjust. To help with the transition, all rides are free till Sunday, and DART has stationed reps at busy hubs to guide passengers.

Oath Keeper Wants out of Jail. Elmer Stuart Rhodes, of Granbury, is a former Army paratrooper and a Yale Law School graduate. He is also a founder of the Oath Keepers and is charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 Capitol riot. His lawyers argued yesterday that he should be a free man while he awaits trial; a judge will decide the matter tomorrow.

Local News

Industry Permitted to Return to Lot that Held Shingle Mountain

Matt Goodman
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9505 S. Central Expressway as seen on May 9, 2021. This was one of two plots of land that for years house Shingle Mountain and its detritus. It took only three months for industry to return.

Marsha Jackson learned some news this week that is so familiar that it’s unfair to call it news. She seems to go through this every few months. The new neighbors next door to her home—9505 S. Central Expressway, a piece of land situated like a watch pocket next to a larger parcel—are really the old neighbors, and they’re here to work.

The certificate of occupancy, which gives the landowner permission to operate, reads:

“MACHINERY, HEAVY EQUIP. OR TRUCK SALES AND SERVICE”

The city issued it Friday. Marsha Jackson is the homeowner who lived next to Shingle Mountain for three years. In an ideal world, you don’t know her. At least you don’t know her because she lived next to an illegal dump that grew so large that it topped the trees in southern Dallas. But she has become the face of environmental racism in North Texas, through no fault of her own. She just lives here.

This is just how she got people to pay attention.

Shingle Mountain, for folks who haven’t followed it, actually stood on two lots bisected by a creek, owned by different owners. The city wound up acquiring one plot, the larger of the two, but the owner of the land closer to her home did its own remediation.

This meant that the owner, Almira Industrial, escaped the lawsuit that allowed the city to acquire its neighbor. And Almira is now seeking to use the land for which it is zoned: industrial research, or IR, which allows it do to many things that shouldn’t be done near where human beings go to sleep.

Last May, three months after the city finished hauling off all those shingles, Almira got to work next door. Here’s what I wrote then:

Transportation

DART’S New Bus Network Is Here. Let’s Ride

Alex Macon
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DART wants you to want to ride this. (photo by Ethene Lin/Flickr)

Dallas Area Rapid Transit launched a new bus network today. It’s the biggest change to service the transit agency has made in decades, as I’ve written about before.

Bus riders, mount up.

It’s. Time. To. Get. Totally. Amped.

Public transit so good it makes me want to dance.

Just look at those dancing bus riders. Can you feel it?

Now that we’re well and truly amped—just completely geeked out, rip-roaring pumped—off of that snappy promotional video, here’s what you should know about the new bus network:

Media

Introducing the New D Magazine Dot Com

Matt Goodman
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We're up there.

Just about exactly a year ago, we had our first design meeting to discuss the next iteration of D Magazine’s website. We had administrative goals—like making it easier for readers to subscribe and for subscribers to access their accounts— but the main driver was to make it a better experience for our digital readers.

We realized over the years that our ambition in print design struggled to translate into what you saw on the website. Great for print subscribers, difficult for the million or so folks who visit the site every month. Our last redesign came in 2016. It was time for a refresh.

The new design gives us more freedom to display beautiful images and illustrations. We have more flexibility with navigation: that means an improved experience in longer service stories, but we also wanted to make it easier to find something of interest on our section pages. (Don’t worry, FrontBurner, Dallas’ oldest news blog, will remain a feed. It just had a facelift.)

There are a buffet of features we haven’t used yet that we’re very excited about, like a vertical navigation bar that will make listing 52 things to do (go buy the January issue!) much easier and a footnote feature to help add context1 without jarring the reader from the story. We believe this functionality will give our words more life. We even upgraded our fonts, which is a more difficult decision than it sounds.  

On the technical side, our entire content management system is new, and we’ve spent the last few weeks training and getting the editors back up to speed. Readers obviously won’t see much of that. What you have probably seen are some quirks: old stories that didn’t quite make the transfer with their design intact, disappearing comments, maybe some sidebars and pull-quotes that look a little wonky.

We’re working through those challenges and hope to have fixes in the coming weeks. Comments are already back. We’re moving quickly. (If you notice anything off, please email me here!)

Some thanks: the good folks at GoodFolks, the local creative company that designed the site. The wizards at Dialogs, who have taken on all things development. This doesn’t happen without Amanda Hammer, the magazine’s chief operating officer, and Emily Olson, our online art director. We appreciate the investment from Christine Allison, our CEO and editor-in-chief, and the input and patience of the editorial and sales teams.

Otherwise, what do you think of the redesign? Again, please email me here—we’re proud of it, and we want to bring you along with us, too. This is for your eyeballs, after all.

Leading Off

Leading Off (01/24/2022)

Zac Crain
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Every DART Route Changes Today. If you take the bus, or if you’d like to start, here is what’s up. DART is offering free service for the first week of its new routes. Our Alex Macon has argued that should be a permanent feature. I can’t ride buses because I get violently ill. It is my one weakness, in addition to the many others.

Saturday was South Oak Cliff Day. Dallas honored the state champion Golden Bears with a downtown parade featuring contributions from 20 DISD schools, and head coach Jason Todd got the key to the city.

Some Officials Believe Dallas Has Hit Peak of Omicron Surge. As far as cases. Which means a tough few weeks and then, hopefully, a bit of relief. Peak in hospitalizations comes next. And if we get through that, perhaps it will come down again. Until the next surge.

Nice Mavs Win. Luka Doncic and the fellas bounced back after disappointment against the league-leading Suns, taking down Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. Doncic had 37 points and finished one assist shy of a triple double, and Kristaps Porzingis has six blocks. The team is rolling.

Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn Interviewing With New York Giants Today. He grew up a Giants fan. Murmur. Cowboys winning eight games next season.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit may soon offer free rides to students.

The transit agency’s not out on too much of a limb here by considering a “K-12 Student Pass Program,” which came up for discussion with the DART board’s budget committee last week and will be debated over several months’ worth of meetings and public hearings. (DART has tapped June 1 as a potential start date for the program, if the agency does commit to it.)

Austin’s Capital Metro recently made its free student transit program, launched as a pilot in 2018, permanent. Seattle, Boston, and Minneapolis are among the other places that have seen the benefits of giving at least some kids access to free public transit.

Early returns show that giving students free rides improves school attendance and academic performance. It saves time for families and money for schools. It gets more people to use public transit. It reduces inequality, giving poor students better access to the extracurricular opportunities as students from wealthier families. Outside of the classroom, where you live and whether your parents own a car shouldn’t limit your ability to see what North Texas has to offer.

“It’s one thing to get a ticket to the Dallas Museum of Art, but if you have no way to get there, it’s like telling me I’ve got a free condo on the moon,” says Jon-Betrell Killen, vice chair of DART’s budget and finance committee and a city of Dallas appointee to the agency’s board of directors.

Free transit could make a difference in the lives of a lot of students: A DART presentation identified eight public school districts, 26 public charter schools, and 107 private schools in the agency’s service area. But it wouldn’t make much of a difference at all to DART’s bottom line.

The revenue from school and student ticket purchases add up to between $1 to $2 million, or just 0.3% of DART’s $580 million operating budget. (The vast majority of DART’s revenue comes from sales taxes collected by its member cities.) DART already offers half-off fares to student riders.