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A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Visual Arts

Dallas Museum of Art Mysteriously Closes Sculpture Garden After Guy Skateboards on Art

| 9 hours ago

This afternoon I got a wild tip from an anonymous source: the sculpture garden at the DMA is closed for the week, possibly because a young skateboarder decided to grind his way around the sculptures a few days ago. The suspect posted a picture of himself on Instagram using Richard Serra’s Untitled (1971) as a ramp. He hashtagged #love and #happiness. It’s unclear whether or not any damage was done to that sculpture or others, and if this is, in fact, the reason for the closure. We’ve reached out to the museum’s PR team and will update when we hear back. 

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Crime

Police and Dallasites Have It Out Over the Safety of Deep Ellum

| 10 hours ago

Every month for the last five years, Councilman Adam Medrano has held community safety forums, inviting residents of his district to ask questions of the Dallas police. Medrano’s district includes Deep Ellum and a slice of downtown. The events are often unremarkable. Tuesday night was different.

The June edition was a standing-room-only, hour-plus discussion about the city’s escalating crime problem and how that relates to Deep Ellum’s soaring popularity. They discussed police efforts to make the neighborhood safer, particularly during the summer months. Among those efforts: you will now see paddy wagons parked along the district’s main thoroughfares.

Although the talk took place at Cafe Izmir, on Ervay Street, downtown received comparatively little attention. The question-asking public drove that. Residents are stirred up following the shooting death of 28-year-old Adan Lozano early Saturday morning in a Deep Ellum parking lot. “When something happens, it’s a room full of people,” Medrano said.

But police attempted to mark a distinction between the challenges that face Deep Ellum and the increase in violent crime across the city over the last two months. Deep Ellum’s crimes are mainly of opportunity, Deputy Police Chief Thomas Castro said, attributing robberies and assaults to the massive crowds. That’s why officers encourage patrons to walk in groups. Police have identified eight areas driving Dallas’ violent crime spur; Castro pointed out that none of them touch Deep Ellum or downtown.

So, what’s the real issue in Deep Ellum? If you ask the police, it is the sheer mass of people in such a contained space, Uptown’s old party crowd dumping itself on Elm and Main streets each Friday and Saturday night. You can’t arrest your way out of it, argued Phillip Honoré, the longtime police officer and investigator who the Deep Ellum Foundation hired a year ago to head public safety. He likened it to his experience in New Orleans, where 100 cops or more patrol Bourbon Street and criminal activity persists. There’s no level of patrol at which the problems evaporate, he said.

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Sports

Dallas Pro Women’s Football Team Plays National Championship on Saturday

| 14 hours ago

Ever since I met Odessa Jenkins, head coach of the Texas Elite Spartans and co-founder of the Dallas-based Women’s National Football Conference, I’ve been obsessed. Our staff photographer, Elizabeth Lavin, was equally smitten after she shot the team’s O-line for the April issue. I mean, just look at these women. They are superhuman: kindergarten teachers and surgical neurophysiologists by day and face-masked crusaders of the gridiron by night.

Many are mothers. A couple are grandmothers. One was on the U.S. skeleton team.

Women’s professional tackle football isn’t new (remember the Dallas Diamonds?), but until now it hasn’t been very professional. Meaning, the players traditionally have had to pay to play. For uniforms, for helmets, for airfare and hotels.

Jenkins, arguably the greatest running back in the herstory of the sport, wanted to change that. So the business-savvy executive (she’s a vice president of client services at software supplier Blackbaud) started her own league and signed on Adidas and Ridell as the sport’s first national sponsors. Then, in the league’s first season, she led her team to the national championship.

The Texas Elite Spartans and the Utah Falcons will face off on Saturday, June 29, in Denver (at 8 p.m. Dallas time). You can stream it live here. Jenkins says it will be worth tuning in.

“This may arguably be the best professional women’s football game played to date,” she says. “The Utah Falcons are a really, really good organization. They’ve lost two games in four years. We’re probably going to see the best opponents we’ve ever seen.”

Before you watch it, get to know some of the players through the slideshow above. The amazing portraits were all shot by Lavin. I believe she made them all run shuttle sprints just so they’d sweat a little.

Then like the team’s Facebook page. They are trying to get 10,000 followers before the first touchdown on Saturday. They only have 200 to go. And these women don’t like to lose.

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Local News

Leading Off (6/26/19)

| 17 hours ago

Wesley Mathews Testifies Over Death of His Daughter. Rather than face capital murder, Mathews has pled guilty to injury to a child by omission. He claims 3-year-old Sherin Mathews choked on milk before he wrapped her body in a trash bag and dumped it in a nearby culvert. His sentencing hearing resumes today. Prosecutors want life.

Police Searching for Uptown Sexual Assault Suspect. The assault happened after 2 a.m. Friday morning in the 2500 block of McKinney Ave.

Tom Dundon Wants His Money Back. $70 million, to be exact. That’s what he says, in a new court filing, that he gave to the Alliance of American Football, the alt-NFL that had a quick rise and quicker fall. Dundon, a Dallasite and billionaire who owns the Carolina Hurricanes, offered a full $250 million to the league. He says he was not made privy to the challenges it faced.

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History

A Dallas Bus Tour Highlights Black-owned Businesses to Feed Your Stomach and Soul

| 1 day ago

Inspired by the local food she found while writing Cornbread & Collard Greens: How West African Cuisine & Slavery Influenced Soul Food—published in January—Deah Berry Mitchell wanted to put together a tour that would combine local food and black history. But she needed a partner, so she reached out to Dalila Thomas, a local food writer and blogger who also produced the “Chew on This” segment for CW33.

Thomas turned her down—at first. She thought better of it.

“I’m like, ‘This is super awesome,’” Thomas says now. “‘I’d be crazy not to get involved in this. It has the potential to be something amazing. And it’s Deah.’”

Soon, The Soul of Dallas Food & Black History Bus Tour was born. The two take guests on a five-hour tour restaurants and businesses that can range from a Pan-African bookstore to a black-owned popcorn shop. In the past, they’ve touched Freedman’s Cemetery, the Juanita Craft Home, Delightful Sweets by Mary in the Grow DeSoto Market Place, and Kessler Baking Studio. The bus occasionally drops by a spot that isn’t actually black-owned but has had a positive impact on the black community, such as Bonton Farms. For the most part, the trip highlights black business owners, chefs, and history.

“We see a lot of experiences that are entertainment-based and straight-up booze and food,” says Thomas. “But there’s so much more in any city, especially Dallas, to offer.”

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Media

Rowland Stiteler, R.I.P.

| 1 day ago

Rowland Stiteler hired on at D Magazine in 1978 as an associate editor. By 1981, he had been promoted to editor, a position he held for a year. This was before my time, but I know Rowland must have enjoyed himself when he was on staff, and he must have had his hands full when he had to manage it. I know this because I know (and knew) some of the people he worked with: David Bauer, David Dillon, Mike Shropshire, Jim Atkinson, Bernie Kraft. And, of course, there is Wick Allison.

Wick’s early years here overlapped with Rowland’s tenure for only a bit. (He sold the magazine in 1980 and beat it to New York, returning to Dallas years later, after realizing his mistake.) When I asked Wick about Rowland, he said: “He did great work on DISD and the Legislature and hordes of other stuff. He was a shoe-leather reporter who could write like a poet. But mostly, he was very good at getting people to talk.”

Here’s that DISD story, from 1980. It was titled “Dallas’ Own Taxpayer-Financed Circus.” Reading it will show you that Wick isn’t exaggerating in his assessment of Rowland’s talent. It will also make you appreciate, even on its bad days, how much the DISD board has improved.

Another classic Rowland piece was this 1979 cover story titled “How We Got American Airlines.” I’ll give you just the first sentence: “Ray Hutchison sat alone in his downtown office suite, staring morosely out of his 13th-floor window into the December darkness, taking nervous drags off his cigarette and mumbling epithets, all of which seemed to contain the phrase ‘those damned Yankees.’”

Lastly, you might want to read his 1980 story about the Medrano family, titled “The Lords of Little Mexico.” Subhead: “It’s no coincidence that the only Mexican-American elected officials in Dallas are named Medrano.” The story holds lessons that still apply today.

No other media outlet in Dallas in 1980 was publishing stories like the sort Rowland was turning out. Rowland’s work for D helped establish the magazine, and everyone who works here today, even those who never knew him, owe him a debt of gratitude.

Rowland was 72 when he suffered a heart attack and died last week outside his home in Ecuador. He was an editor for The Meeting Professional, whose obituary for him you can read here. TMP tells us: “His wife, Donna Smith Stiteler, who is a freelance writer for The Meeting Professional, said her husband was returning from the store with a cake for a young boy he was teaching English to when he collapsed.”

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Media

Texas Monthly Gets a New, Deep-Pocketed Owner

| 2 days ago

And just like that, Texas Monthly has a new owner. It’s Randa Duncan Williams, a billionaire oil heiress with a long-running admiration for the National Magazine of Texas. She’ll act as chairman of the newly created Texas Monthly, LLC.

Reports landed just yesterday morning that private equity firm Genesis Park had brought on Goldman Sachs to explore a sale. (More reports landed from our Tim Rogers, who incorrectly guess-tigated that the buyer would be Dallas’ Ray Washburne, who owns the Mi Cocina empire and once had publishing dreams of his own.) Houston-based Genesis and its founder Paul Hobby owned TM just two and a half years. They bought it for $25 million and are not disclosing the terms of their sale. The magazine reports that it has grown digital revenue from 8 percent of its ad sales in 2017 to 20 percent in 2019, and expanded event sponsorship revenue from 6 percent to 18 percent of its total. But those shifts have been facilitated, at least in part, by falling revenue from print advertising.

Williams, who is 57, comes from the family of Dan Duncan, founder of Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners. She’s the ninth-wealthiest person in Texas, per Forbes. She says in a statement that she has “been an avid Texas Monthly reader since I was a teenager,” and that “I especially enjoy the longform storytelling” that has brought the magazine much acclaim through the years. She assures readers that the integrity of the publication will be untouched. In a statement, editor Dan Goodgame vowed to continue the magazine’s dedication to narrative nonfiction and deep reporting. 

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Urbanism

Dallas: The City That Hates Pedestrians, Pt. 29 (A Happy Story!)

| 2 days ago

An alert FrontBurnervian last week sent me the photo that sits above this post. It’s at Good Latimer and Commerce in Deep Ellum, in the building that once housed the old Copper Tank Brewery. Soon, it will be a 23,000 square foot bar and restaurant and bowling and video game “eater-tainment” complex called Punch Bowl Social.

From my untrained yet skeptical eye, this seemed like a bit much to me. The contractors were taking up two lanes and using the sidewalk as storage for equipment. It didn’t seem like there was any sort of construction putting pedestrians in danger, and the occupation of the lanes didn’t make much sense either. I sent the photo over to the city’s PR folks, and didn’t get anything back. But that alert FrontBurnervian did. There was a happy outcome.

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Local News

Leading Off (6/25/19)

| 2 days ago

Luka Dončić Named NBA Rookie of the Year. Luka Dončić — aka the Dude With the Diacritics, aka Zac Crain’s Slovenian Son — was named last night the rookie of the year. He received 98 of the 100 first-place ballots among media balloting. The Hawks’ Trae Young, whom the Mavs traded for Doncic, got the other two first-place votes. At least it was close.

Del Frisco’s Sold for $650 Million. A Connecticut private equity firm called L Catterton bought the Irving-based steakhouse chain. Presumably a baked potato comes with the purchase.

Irving Mom Says Demons Told Her to Sacrifice Her Son. Tisha Sanchez allegedly suffocated 8-year-old Joevani De La Pena. Irving cops and CPS had dealt with Sanchez in the past.

DART’s Cotton Belt Will Be Called the Silver Line. The name was chosen, apparently, because “dumb” isn’t yet considered a color.

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Media

Who Will Buy Texas Monthly? A Special D Magazine Guesstigation.

| 2 days ago

News broke this morning that Paul Hobby, with the help of Goldman Sachs, is exploring a sale of Texas Monthly, which he bought three years ago for $25 million. Who is the most likely buyer? An extensive and exhaustive and intensive coffee-fueled bull session this morning at the D Magazine studios has produced the following uninformed, expert prediction: Ray Washburne will buy Texas Monthly.

As was revealed in our 2010 profile of Washburne, he has had an interest in the publishing business since he was about 10 years old. He later launched the short-lived Texas Business and owned a scrappy, award-winning, groundbreaking alternative magapaper called The Met (full disclosure: I worked there at the time). So he’s got the bug. That’s a hard thing to shake.

In recent years, the M Crowd restaurateur and Highland Park Village co-owner has gotten more involved in politics. After Washburne served as vice chair of the 2016 Trump Victory Committee, the president put him in charge of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Politics and publishing can be complementary endeavors.

Then there’s Washburne’s recent $28 million acquisition of the Dallas Morning News’ former downtown headquarters. Known as the Rock of Truth, the old building could use a high-profile, head-turning tenant.

Connect the dots, people. Washburne will buy Texas Monthly and move it to Dallas. None of the hippie Austin liberals who currently edit and design the magazine will want to make the move north. Washburne will staff it up with his own hand-picked, more conservative crew. He’ll use the publication to amplify the already-powerful Texas voices in D.C. The magazine’s slogan — “the national magazine of Texas” — will be changed to “the national magazine from Texas.” He will, in short, make the magazine great again.

If Hobby paid $25 million for the thing, Washburne will get it for $10 million, $2 million of which will be paid in Mi Cocina gift cards.

You heard it here first.

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Local News

Another Weekend in Dallas Marred by Murders

| 3 days ago

Six days ago, the Dallas Police Department published a blog and a Facebook post with this message: “12 consecutive days without a murder in Dallas.” The following days seemingly treated this as a challenge.

There was a man found dead in his apartment on Lucas Drive, near Oak Lawn, which police are investigating as a homicide. A 26-year-old was gunned down off Scyene Road in Pleasant Grove, apparently the outcome of a shootout. There was the killing of a couple in their Lakewood home. The alleged shooter had come back for his ex. A 17-year-old honked his horn at another driver in Pleasant Grove; the driver answered by shooting into the kid’s truck, killing him. Early Saturday morning, a 28-year-old man was found shot and killed in a Deep Ellum parking lot. Early Sunday morning, another man was shot and killed outside the La Zona Rosa strip club off Stemmons. And last night, a 54-year-old man was found shot and killed in the 1100 block of East Hobson, about five blocks south of Illinois Ave. in southern Dallas.

We’re now above 100 murders on the year; my tally after the weekend puts us at 105. Through May, there had been 48 arrests on 97 murders. Police department higher-ups have been predicting this sort of a spike in crime for years. We’re down 700 officers compared to staffing levels in 2011, despite having added another 100,000 residents in that time. There is a brain drain in the department. Officers are leaving for safer suburban jobs that for years paid beginners more. We’re out from under the pension collapse, but that mess left a stain on the department too.

In 2017, before Chief U. Reneé Hall began, I sat down with Mike Mata and Fred Frazier of the Dallas Police Association. Mata had an interesting point.

“This is one thing that the public doesn’t understand. Before, we were just losing the five to seven year officer. That was bad enough, okay? Or the officer that just came out of the academy and is getting hired to go somewhere else. Now, with this pension problem, now you’re losing your 20-plus. Your 20-plus are your most seasoned veteran investigators. Those are the ones that you want investigating the homicides. When your father, your mother, your sister, or brother are killed, you don’t want a seven-year cop. You want the 25-year cop, who’s got skins on the wall and knows how to do it.”

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