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Making Dallas Even Better

Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Oct. 8

I worry that Billy Idol, 59, has sneered so much his face is now stuck like that. I wonder if Idol’s mother warned him about this. Does Idol wake up in the morning with his teeth bared, his face registering revulsion at a plate of delicious eggs and bacon? Does Idol sneer that way when he’s rehearsing for a show? When he’s watching television? When he’s sitting at a computer, writing a memoir? Does he look in the mirror at night, brush his snarling chompers, and wish he’d spent more time smiling, or frowning, or puckering?

Life’s too short to sneer at. Among the reasons to smile today: the Dallas Symphony performs, Billy Idol raises a ruckus, and we learn more about an outfit of notorious Austin gangsters.

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Poll: How Far Will the Texas Rangers Go?

The Texas Rangers’ improbable season continues this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Canada. (Do they even play baseball up there in that frozen wasteland?) They’re considered the underdogs in their best-of-five series against the Toronto Blue Jays for the right to advance to the American League Championship Series.

But the Rangers weren’t even supposed to make it this far, so what do you think will happen?

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Garbage Time’s Katie Nolan on Greg Hardy’s Return

This week, Greg Hardy returns to the field after missing almost all of the 2014 season (when he was a member of the Carolina Panthers) and the first four games of this season. Finally, Cowboys fans will have to confront their feelings about the team signing a man accused of beating his then-girlfriend, dragging her around his apartment by her hair, throwing her onto a futon covered in assault rifles, and threatening to kill her. Nicole Holder testified to that at Hardy’s first trial, which resulted in his conviction by Judge Becky Thorne Tin. By North Carolina law, Hardy was allowed to have a jury trial, but the case was dismissed when Holder wouldn’t participate, likely because she and Hardy came to a settlement.

Even if his conviction had stood, Hardy would already be out of jail, and he probably would already be allowed to play again, and the Cowboys very well may have signed him then, too. This season was an all-in year for the team, and I’m not saying they’re getting punched by karma, but I’m not not saying it either.

Either way, given the nature of what he was charged with, you’d assume that Hardy would 1) keep his mouth shut about everything except playing defensive end for the Cowboys and 2) even then, watch very carefully what he said. Of course, Hardy did neither, wolf-whistling at the wives of various NFL quarterbacks and saying he was going to come back “guns blazing.”

Katie Nolan, host of FS1’s Garbage Time, nails everything that is wrong with this in three minutes right here.

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Barrett Brown on Jonathan Franzen’s Purity

The Intercept brings us another dispatch from Barrett Brown, who is still in the hole. This time, he reviews Jonathan Franzen’s book Purity. I say this without hyperbole: it is a brilliant piece of writing. It’s 2,500 words, so don’t click over now unless you’ve got 15 minutes or so of uninterrupted reading time. It deserves to be read carefully, savored.

Leading Off (10/8/15)

Last day of filming in Dealey Plaza for 11/22/63. Downtown traffic will return to its “normal” rate after today, when filming wraps on the JFK miniseries. It may be your last chance to see James Franco in action. It will not be your last chance to get stuck in Dallas traffic.

Dallas will file lawsuit against Volkswagen for car emissions violation. Speaking of cars, the city of Dallas plans to sue German automaker Volkswagen for installing software in its diesel cars sold in the U.S. that manipulated emissions tests and therefore failed to meet air quality standards. The car company has already taken a lot of heat for this bump in the road after admitting that 11 million of its diesel cars have this software, created to cheat on U.S. emissions tests.

Woman in Fort Worth arrested in death of son. 23-year-old Shakira Bickerstaff was arrested this week on a capital murder warrant after confessing that she had shaken her 10-month-old son and covered his mouth to make him stop crying in August of last year. She had previously told police that her son died after falling off a bed.

Inequality and Texas Independent School Districts

Today Rudolph Bush responds to criticism he’s heard from some Park Cities residents since last week he argued the unfairness of the way schools are organized in Texas — via independent school districts. It’s this governmental structure, more than any other factor, that has turned Highland Park and University Park into island communities increasingly out of reach of any residents other than the uber-wealthy. The ISD creates a cycle in which the great public schools result in higher property values, which can then pour even more money into those great schools:

I can understand the sentiment of people in HPISD who have sent me notes over the past week. Their home is often their life’s major investment. And they made that investment in Highland Park precisely so they could send their children to school there. And any suggestion that the ISD system we have is not a good system feels like reaching into their pockets, or worse, chipping at an important foundation of their family life.

But they are benefiting from government no less than the welfare recipient. A structure was put in place that benefits them according to their means. And they are taking advantage of that structure in the same way the welfare recipient is.

Neither should be blamed for that. We accept what is given to our best advantage and to the advantage of those we love. That’s human nature.

But without casting stones at one another, we can step back and consider whether the system we have is the best system we could have.

Bush proposes a system wherein ISDs would have to accept a certain number of students from outside their geographic borders, chosen by lottery. I think we’d be better off blowing up ISDs entirely and administering schools at the county level, which is how it is done in many other states. That way tax revenue generated by homes on Beverly and Armstrong could find its way equally to South Dallas.

His idea is likelier to get off the ground. But, yes, we need a change.

The Cubs Pitcher From Plano Who’s About to Win the Cy Young Award

Tonight Jake Arrieta, a Plano East High School graduate and former TCU student, will take the mound for the mighty Chicago Cubs against some team from godforsaken western Pennsylvania in the National League Wild Card Game. This season Arrieta posted the best second-half earned-run average in the history of Major League Baseball (0.75) and is the favorite to win the Cy Young Award as the top pitcher in the National League.

In a column today, Rick Gosselin looks back at Arrieta’s high school days:

So how does a guy go from compiling two wins pitching against the likes of Lake Highlands, McKinney, Richardson Berkner, Rockwall and the Plano schools to a major-league-leading 22 victories with a microscopic 1.77 earned run average in 2015?

“That’s a good question,” said Plano East baseball coach Travis Collins.

But Gosselin actually undersells just how much of a late bloomer Arrieta was. Even after he’d established himself as a starter with the Orioles, he was not particularly good at getting batters out. His last full season in Baltimore (2012), he posted a 6.20 ERA. Which is why they were willing to trade him to the Cubs.

The Cubs’ pitching gurus don’t have Baltimore’s irrational hatred of pitching “cutters,” which has a lot to do with why Arrieta became an ace in Chicago. Watch him work his magic for the good guys tonight.

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Things To Do In Dallas Tonight: Oct. 7

Alice Cooper, Keanu Reeves, and James Franco all popped up around the city yesterday, three semi-unexpected celebrity appearances that, taken together, probably don’t say anything about Dallas, or about things to do in Dallas tonight. If Cooper, Reeves, or Franco want to hit the town tonight, though, they’re in luck: the State Fair continues to rage, and the National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China pay the Meyerson a visit.

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Hawk, Hinojosa, and Highland Park — it’s the return of the SAGA Pod

We’re back! Jim Schutze promises to make this at least a bi-weekly exercise. We’ll see. This week we talk about the D Magazine story on Susan Hawk’s return, why Democrats are wrong to call for her resignation (at least over this), the real story behind the end of Michael Hinojosa’s honeymoon, and whether Highland Park has a pocket of racists located within. Oh, and we ask Jim why he’s such a baseless speculator. There’s also a some light cursing. Fun for the whole family.

Because we live in a wondrous era, there are many ways to listen. You can click on the link on the jump. You can subscribe on iTunes here. (There’s usually a delay before it shows up there, FYI.) The direct link is here. You can find all episode direct links here. As always, please listen with your ears.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: What Place Do Highways Have in a Great City?

Question: What makes a great city? — TxDOT

It could be argued — and it should be, for what follows is the undoubted truth of the matter — that Dallas’ greatness reached its zenith shortly after a visionary entrepreneur from Tennessee first established a settlement near the banks of the mighty Trinity some 170-odd years ago.

Understand that this is not to imply that our city has lost any of its power to inspire the virtuous and strike fear into the hearts of the wicked in the intervening decades. It has, in point of fact, been rocking along pretty well since.

My point, such as it is, is that Dallas became the most remarkable urban center ever known to God or man (in the history of forever) before asphalt roads had so much as had been first dreamt up — as I recollect, by some mid-19th century science fiction writer. Roads, Mr. TxDOT, do not make cities great.

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Leading Off (10/7/15)

Superintendent Returns. Old is new again in DISD. In a 6-1 vote, district trustees named Michael Hinojosa superintendent yesterday, four years after he left the job. Also, Brett Shipp has a look at the questionable spending of some marketing money the district allocated.

Traffic Returns. The City of Dallas apologized yesterday for the way traffic was handled downtown during the filming of 11/22/63. They say they didn’t have enough police officers on-hand. Filming — and traffic — will continue today.

Greg Hardy Returns. His four-game suspension for domestic violence now over, the defensive end addressed the Dallas media for the first time yesterday. He deflected questions about the horrific incident that led to his suspension, joked that he’s hoping Tom Brady’s wife brings a sister this Sunday, and talked a lot about God. He said his only regret was “not being there for his teammates.”

The Heat Returns. I hope you enjoyed the brief window of potential hoodie weather. The sun will be back today with a vengeance.

Toronto Columnist Bad-Mouths Arlington Ahead of Rangers-Blue Jays Series

As the baseball playoff series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers approaches, a writer for the Toronto Globe and Mail explains why it’ll be difficult to jumpstart a rivalry between the respective homes of each team: the fourth-largest city in North America and “the strip-mall wormhole you pass through on the way to Fort Worth.”

Three hours before a game in Arlington, there’s no one around. An hour after a game, it returns to that state. You find yourself drifting toward the light – which is always a highway. It’s as if the city itself knows you don’t belong here and would like to point toward somewhere a little more happening.

But when a game’s on, people just appear. Where are they from? How did they get here? No one knows. Or, at least, I didn’t bother asking. The press box is air conditioned, and only a maniac with reptile blood would go out into the stands for more than a minute.

It’s generally a good crowd, buoyed by a few years of good teams. They play Deep in the Heart of Texas mid-game, which is fun. I’ll take their word for it that that’s where we are. If so, it’s a weird place. Friendly locals, but an odd locale. It’s like Robert Moses doing the set-dressing for David Lynch.

Arlingtonians – our temporary enemies. Since the whole point of the postseason is picking a (gentle) fight with the fans of the other city, this could be a tough one.

There’s no history between us. Beyond the most tiresome clichés, they have no idiosyncrasies to poke fun at. Also, I’m still not sure if they actually exist.

You really should read the whole thing. (H/T Bud Kennedy)

Seattle Seahawks Player Blames Matthew Stafford for JFK Assassination

Sure you’ve probably seen the traffic downtown today. As Tim mentioned in Leading Off, James Franco and Stephen King are making a movie about this thing that happened here a while back where a President got killed. D Magazine has written about that thing a little. It’s the kind of event football players who were not born yet blame on other football players who were not born yet.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford grew up in Dallas. He graduated from Highland Park. Last night his team lost to the Seattle Seahawks. The victory was especially sweet for Michael Bennett, a defensive end on the Seahawks who told reporters that he had been holding an insane grudge against Stafford. Bennett, whose brother Martellus used to play for the Cowboys and says plenty of strange things himself, went all 1963, saying, “I don’t like Matt Stafford much. He’s from Dallas. They killed the President (JFK). … I hold it against him.”

People are funny.