A Daily Conversation
About Dallas


These Dallas-Fort Worth Restaurants Are Giving a Discount to Voters

| 2 days ago

Restaurateur Shannon Wynne wants you to vote. Dine at any of his concepts, wearing your “I Voted” sticker during early voting from October 22 to November 2 or on the November 6 Election Day, and you will get a 10 percent discount. (The offer excludes alcohol.)

“I’ve heard many times that Texas ranked near the bottom, if not the bottom, for voter turnout,” says Wynne. (Ed. Note: And Dallas as a city is even worse.) “I think in a state that has the diversity that we do, that it’s important to do a fun thing to incentivize people, where they can have fun and get together to proudly display their voting stickers, and participate in the process. Too many people in our lives growing up would say, ‘well, my vote doesn’t count,’ and as a voting bloc, the youth of Dallas, and Texas, has to participate and lift us out of that stigma of being a non-participatory state.”

Voting is fun. Wearing a sticker is fun. And getting a discount on food is fun. This is a clear win for everybody. Not sure where and how to vote? Click here.

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Local News

Who Approved This Cartoon That Ran in Yesterday’s Star-Telegram?

| 2 days ago

Not to get everybody’s feathers ruffled before the weekend starts, but who OK’d this?

The above cartoon depicts Rachel Dolezal, who lied about being black, and Elizabeth Warren, whose recent genetic test revealed an ambiguous connection to Native American ancestry, and weaponizes them against some very important conversations occurring right now. It ran in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Thursday.

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Arts & Entertainment

Trigg Watson is the Millennial’s Magician

| 2 days ago

It was a misty October day in the Cedars when I pulled up to Checkered Past Winery. I found a lone spot on the crowded street and parallel parked in one try, but that was just the beginning of the magic I was destined to experience that Friday afternoon.

I came to meet Trigg Watson, magician extraordinaire, whose monthly series Wine & Magic has become a low-key hit at the wine bar and eatery. 

The reason for the show’s success is pretty clear: Watson is not your average birthday party trickster. The man’s been doing magic since he was four years old, and he’s been performing professionally since about age 11. 

“I had these little business cards, I was available to perform at summer camps and libraries,” he says. 

The young entrepreneur grew up and got a job in the corporate world, but he continued performing in his time off. Eventually, he gave in to his unusual vocation.

“I came to terms with the fact that if there’s one thing I’d regret, it’d be not pursuing magic full time.”

As he immersed himself in the world of magic, he started taking the art form in new directions. Watson wanted to show people that magic isn’t just for kids – that going to a magic show was kind of like going to a comedy show or a concert. A year ago, as Watson was looking for new, sophisticated environments to bring his show, Checkered Past was seeking out performers who could bring in a new clientele to the cozy wine bar.

“I started bringing magic into these environments it wasn’t usually in, and that forced to me create material that fit in that environment,” says Watson. 

Forget about the stereotypes, the rabbits in hats and those decks of playing cards. This is millennial magic.

“In 2018, we’re kind of desensitized,” he muses. “We’re living in this incredibly magic world in which anything is possible and we don’t think of it as being incredible because it’s just everyday.” In his quest to reignite that sense of wonder, Watson often asks himself, “If I was in an audience and I wanted to experience something impossible, what would that look like in this modern day?”

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Criminal Justice

A Look at How the Texas Legislature May Address Criminal Justice Reform

| 2 days ago

In the Texas Legislature, criminal justice reform is among the last Big Issue Kumbayahs that Democrats and Republicans have left. Which means that it’s one of the few that you’ll likely see some movement on in each legislative session. Like, despite the population growth the state’s incurring, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has closed eight units, four of which shuttered amid last session’s steep budget cuts. A rare win for budget hawks and criminal justice reform advocates alike.

On Friday morning, a room of about 200 or so people gathered at the Belo Mansion for a day-long symposium organized by Unlocking DOORS, a Dallas-based nonprofit that helps ex-convicts re-integrate in society. Kicking off the event was a speech from Brody Burks, Gov. Greg Abbott’s top criminal justice policy advisor. Burks was an assistant district attorney in mostly rural parts of Texas for the better part of a decade.

“I had no idea how many people I incarcerated,” he said. “But with the exception of one or two or three, they’re all coming out. As they should be.”

So what do we do with them? How do we best set them up for success, to limit the risk of recidivism? This message led us into the first panel of the day, which was packed with officials who offered local and statewide perspective about what to do with our incarcerated both before and after they enter the system.

Newly-crowned superstar moderator Jason Whitely, the longtime Channel 8 reporter, presided over a discussion between East Texas state Rep. James White, a Republican who chairs the House Corrections Committee; Justin Wood, a former prosecutor and the director of the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice; Lake Highlands-area Councilman Adam McGough, the chair of the city’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee; Assistant Chief Paul Stokes, the Dallas Police Department’s head of investigations and tactical support who subbed in for Chief U. Reneé Hall, who was dealing with a family emergency; and Bryan Collier, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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Philanthropy & Nonprofits

A Crazy Guy in Rockwall Is Stuck on a Boat

| 2 days ago

Over the last 10 days, while those of us in Dallas have largely dealt with rainy day after rainy day through a flat avoidance of the outdoors, Todd Phillips has been out in it, on a lake, by choice. The founder and head of Rockwall-based nonprofit The Last Well has vowed to stay afloat on a barge in the middle of Lake Ray Hubbard, living out of a tent, until his organization has raised $2 million to bring clean water to Liberia.

See? Here he is:

He’s living off protein bars and getting tossed around by storms. He says he couldn’t stand up for two and a half days, due to the way the storms angered the water, and that he got zero hours of sleep one night and then just two the next. Because I know you’re wondering: He has a Port-A-Potty.

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Dallas, The City That Hates Pedestrians: Part 15

| 2 days ago

Earlier this week, I took you on a bumpy trip of the Ross Avenue corridor, where a slew of major redevelopments have shot up and taken our sidewalks. Yesterday afternoon, on the way to an appointment at City Hall, I got curious where else this is happening. The problem: the city appears to have little control over how much public right of way is occupied by contractors doing these big-time tower re-dos. Walking around downtown, you’d think the city’s core is desperate for any sort of development—not undergoing the boom that we’re in.

“We don’t seem to have any system of controls that would guarantee any respectful use of the city’s right of way,” says Councilman Philip Kingston, who represents downtown, Uptown, and East Dallas. “It’s a function of the city’s historic fealty to developers. They get away with everything.”

To City Manager T.C. Broadnax: Dallas is again forgoing the safety of pedestrians and allowing these projects to overtake what little space residents have when they’re on two feet. This is happening in the densest parts of the city. A little scaffolding would go a long way. They’re even bleeding into driving lanes, sticking sad orange cones in areas that abut their fenced-off developments.

“They’ve managed to piss off not just the pedestrians but the drivers too,” Kingston says.

In my post from Wednesday, this was most evident on San Jacinto. But it’s elsewhere, too. Here’s one on Flora Street, the Arts District’s primary artery, which appears to be using a sidewalk to place equipment and, among other things, a Port-A-Potty:

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Local News

Leading Off (10/19/18)

| 3 days ago

Ted Cruz Meets With Dallas Morning News Editorial Board. The senator had turned them down, citing scheduling conflicts. There isn’t a whole lot that’s new here, particularly around Cruz’s policy stances. He does try and walk back a “caricature that is less than accurate” of a bomb throwing malcontent who is unwilling to compromise on legislation. He did, however, do what the president has had trouble doing and decried racists in Charlottesville and elsewhere: They’re “a handful of racist kooks. That is an extreme fringe, and it’s not representative of the country. And I think Nazis are grotesquely evil, racist bigots and idiots. I think the Klan are morons.” At the end of it, I don’t think it’ll convert anyone from either side. Neither does editor Mike Wilson.

Klyde Warren Could Get a $76 Million Expansion. We’re looking at another 1.2 acres with a 20,000 square foot pavilion and, apparently, a Merry-Go-Round. The expansion got $10 million in the bond package, and was an effort to stretch the park closer to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The rest of the money will be a mix of federal and private dollars; construction could begin in 2019.

Arlington Gets a Driverless Shuttle System. It’s, the same as what’s up in Frisco, and will allow users to summon a car to get them to AT&T Stadium.

We’re in the Wettest Fall on Record. It’s hurting businesses. Austin is flooding. For the local forecast, the sun is coming this weekend, but we’re putting up with a little bit of rain today. No more than a couple inches. Hopefully. 

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Get Ready for Roaming Delivery Robots on Dallas’ Sidewalks

| 3 days ago

The future is now, and that’s why, Wednesday morning, the Dallas City Council said sure why not to a pilot program that will send a troop of robots cruising around our streets. Don’t sweat—these aren’t the bots that look likely to get smart and end existence. City Councilman Philip Kingston, whose city swath includes Uptown and pieces of downtown, noted dryly that the robots have not been “advocating to kill all humans,” a plus. They do appear capable of malfunctioning in a crosswalk, but that’s just conjecture.

The electronically powered machines are made by San Francisco-based Marble (“Your friendly neighborhood robot”). They’re about the size of an ice cream cart and they use light sensors to detect their surroundings so they don’t clang into stuff, such as cars or dogs or people. The pilot limits each participating company to 20 robots, and right now it’s just Marble, which contracts with national retailers to take on some of their deliveries. It has teamed with food delivery services, among other types of retailers, in other markets.

Department of Transportation Director Michael Rogers says Marble has an agreement with at least one national retailer to test delivery in Dallas—he twice used a pharmacy as a hypothetical—and a total of five store locations, but he says several prospects have been waiting to hear the city’s take. The bots will go no further than a one-mile radius from the location. They will go no faster than five miles an hour, and during the pilot phase, they will be accompanied by a human being who is no further than 20 feet from the bot at all times.

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I Used to Be a Crazy Cat Lady

| 3 days ago
Maggie was always skeptical of portraits.

There’s been an unfortunate update to my July 2018 editor’s note.

Best I can count, I have had 27 cats. Only the first was intentional.

After quickly becoming overwhelmed by the abundance of options at the no-kill shelter in my college town, I sat down in the middle of the floor. A plump tortie waddled over and rested her front paws on my thigh. She proceeded to scream at every other cat that attempted to make an approach. I knew then that Pudge and I were meant to be together forever.

The second appeared under the back porch one morning as I was taking out the trash. She let out a plaintive cry, so I went inside and opened a can of tuna to try to coax her out with a forkful. She chomped down and ran back under the porch, the fork still in her mouth. That’s when I heard an even tinier cry and realized she had a kitten and probably hadn’t eaten since she’d given birth. We brought Mama Cat and Baby Cat inside, much to Pudge’s chagrin. Mama Cat died shortly thereafter from a heart murmur, but Baby Cat lived a long life, surviving years of insulin shots.
Farrah was a kitten that a homeless man had in his pocket. My secretary was walking by when he was arrested for loitering, and she told the cops that she knew someone who could take the little tabby: me.

Stray Cat, who instantly recognized the water bowl on the back stoop as the universal sign for a home for wayward cat mothers, also gave birth on our back porch. I came home to find her in the act, but quickly realized that she was toothless and couldn’t sever the umbilical cords, so the kittens were getting dangerously tangled. I had to cut them apart with scissors. Her babies—P!nk, P. Diddy, and J. Lo—were adopted by nuns in a local convent. Stray Cat went to live with a law school friend and spent her pregnancy (my friend’s) curled up on her ever-enlarging belly.

Up until Monday night, Maggie was the last one standing, having survived once getting stuck in the bedroom wall, once getting stuck in the basement ceiling, and once being attacked by a rabid bat. She showed up in a snowstorm in the parking lot of a record store called Magnolia Thunderpussy in Columbus, Ohio. So that’s what we named her.

As far as I can tell, she lived to be around 23 years old. We had her for 20 of those years, for most of our relationship. She was the loner that tended to get the least attention when the other cats were around. She never liked being held or pet; I think it felt like too much of a restraint. But one night not long after we took her home, a friend’s boyfriend gave her a playful slap on the rump, and we learned that she preferred to be patted. Roughly.

When we threw parties in our Oak Cliff bungalow, she liked to hide in the bathroom behind the clawfoot tub and then jump out at whomever was sitting on the toilet, leading one guest to believe she was being attacked by a raccoon. And she was loud. Her claws constantly clicked across the hardwood floors, and she would scream out, generally around 3 a.m., sounding distinctly like a toddler calling, “Mooooooom!” The older she got, the more she talked. For a while I wondered if she were going deaf. But I think she just wanted to be part of the general conversation.

She was the healthiest of all our cats, with a soft coat that the vet techs would always comment on. But there was that year and a half when she repeatedly licked all the hair off of her belly, until it was pink and saggy, and we could never figure out why. By the end, it had all grown back and she looked almost exactly as we found her, except over the last few months, when she lost her appetite for solid food, and then the last couple of days, when she stopped eating entirely.

Before Monday, we had witnessed the deaths of seven of our cats over the years, some more painless than others. I assumed Maggie would be the easiest to say goodbye to, because she had lived the longest and could be a real asshat. But I was wrong.

You hope for a moment of peace and grace before it ends, but oftentimes that’s not the case. Sometimes the veins are too small, and the clippers are terrifyingly loud, and it all goes horribly wrong. And you wonder if you picked the right time, or if you were too late or too soon. And you wonder if you were a good enough friend and caretaker, or if you, too, were just an asshat who never understood what was being repeatedly asked of you.

The worst part was going home and realizing that, for the first time, there wasn’t another cat to hug and press my tear-soaked face against. There wasn’t a reason to fill the food bowl or empty the litterbox.

I still woke up at 3 a.m. There wasn’t a sound.

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