His friends and family members gave Dallas leader Jeff West a loving sendoff Friday with laughs, toasts, songs and tears. They did it at the South Side Music Hall, one after another taking the microphone to recall the Matthews Southwest vice president as a positive, funny renaissance man who played leading roles in everything from the Dallas Theater Center and The Sixth Floor Museum to the Omni Dallas Hotel. West, 54, died suddenly Monday at his desk at Matthews Southwest, a real estate development company.
PR guru Carol Reed said, “Jeff loved a trashy woman, and he loved me!” State Sen. Royce West called West “my brother, by another mother.” Craig Holcomb of Friends of Fair Park told about an outdoor party where Jeff and others made a “conga line in the rain.” Donnie Nelson of the Mavericks, remembering West’s role in South Lamar Street redevelopment, said he “took an eyesore of Dallas and turned it into a place of creativity and beauty and art.”
West’s business associate Jack Matthews, the Matthews Southwest founder, said he shared a “last laugh” with West just yesterday — three days after he died. How could that be? It happened at a big luncheon downtown, Matthews said, when he was introduced to someone as “Jeff West’s partner.” Not knowing, apparently, that Matthews is straight but that West had come out of the closet in the early ’90s, this person said to Matthews, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know Jeff was gay.” At that, Matthews told the Music Hall crowd, “I looked up and laughed. Then I just said, ‘Thank you,’ and moved on.”
Alas, Josh Hamilton hasn’t homered in 11 games. As a result, the entire Padres team combined has finally matched his total for the season, with San Diego’s Nick Hundley hitting the team’s 18th last night. Despite the relative drought, Hamilton still leads the majors. And San Diego is last in the league in home runs.
I’d heard a rumor that the Dallas Museum of Art might switch to a free admission sometime this fall. You’d still pay for special exhibits, naturally, but the permanent collection would cost you nada. I asked Jill Bernstein, the DMA’s communications czar, about the rumor. Her response: “We are exploring the return to free general admission, and the ramifications of a possible transition are currently being reviewed. We anticipate finishing our analysis within the coming months.”
I’m trying to remember when it was last free. About eight years ago? Anyway, the move makes sense to me. A membership will still be the most cost-effective way to see traveling exhibits. People who buy memberships won’t buy fewer memberships just because general admission is now free. On the other hand, with free general admission, it stands to reason that a greater number of casual, curious guests will be drawn to the museum — and might be enticed to buy a membership.
The short answer is that the 11-foot alligator that lived in the Trinity River near the Fort Worth Nature Center and was killed by a couple of rogue disc jockeys earlier this month is worth $5,300 because the state’s game wardens say so.
I wanted to know how they arrive at that figure, so I called Mike Cox, a spokesman for Texas Parks and Wildlife, today. He explained that the agency is “statutorily authorized” to seek restitution for illegal game hunting. Wildlife is considered to belong to all the people of Texas, and so poachers (as these fellows are accused of being) are expected to pay us back. That $5,300 would end up in the pocket of the state agency.
But why exactly $5,300? Do they make that number up out of thin air? If an alligator is worth $5,300, what’ll other animals run you?
UPDATE: Turns out the alligator may not have been worth $5,300 after all. Â See details below.
To catch you up: Richard Connor was publisher of the Star-Telegram from 1986 to 1997 (then called the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, before it dropped the “Fort Worth” in an effort to woo Arlington and the richer parts of northern Tarrant County). He also owned the Fort Worth Business Press, which he and his wife sold in 2007 — and then repurchased in 2010.
But before he repurchased the FWBP, in 2006, he bought the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader for $65 million. Now, that’s a lot of dough. Connor had some help from his buddies at HM Capital Partners, which helped secure $45 million in financing through Goldman Sachs. You know HM Capital better as Hick Muse Tate & Furst (or at least I do).
That’s the background. The new stuff: according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court, the Times Leader was sold for just $5 million (not to mention the debt that came with the price). And Connor “forced The Times Leader to set aside cash for his personal use and ordered the newspaper to pay his personal credit card charges … . The newspaper’s executives thought they had ‘reached an understanding’ with Mr. Connor that the expenses covered by the company were loans that needed to be repaid … . [But] Mr. Connor never paid back the loans and instead ‘challenged the validity of the very written acknowledgments which bear his own signature.’”
Anyone these days can run a newspaper into the ground. That’s easy. But doing it while setting aside cash for your personal use? That takes moxie.
Woof. This is going to be a long one. Shall we?
I saw the showÂ Flesh World last weekend, and while I didn’t love it (nor did I appreciate the Dead White Zombie’s taking half my event listing and half of Christopher Mosley’s description in last week’s Weekender and Frankensteining the two together to have a really positive-sounding write up on their website), the site-specific, peripatetic aspect of it is worth a look. The installations, spread out over an old welding warehouse in West Dallas, are pretty great, and highly detailed. Much ado has been made about Sleep No More in New York, a bloody chase tangentially inspired byÂ Macbeth, and I for one am glad of a similar-ish attempt here, even though it didn’t quite work for me. Only 30 people are allowed per performance, so snag a ticket online before you go.
Also this evening, the Dallas Symphony and famed composer Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line, Ordinary People) join forces for the Armed Forces Salute Memorial Day weekend program. It starts tonight and goes through Sunday, so you have plenty of chances to catch Hamlisch conduct the DSO and chorus through uplifting film and show tunes, including a George M. Cohen medley and the wordless “Hymn for the Fallen” from Saving Private Ryan, as well as other patriotic classics.
An alert FrontBurnervian points us to this post on the Save Winfrey Point blog, wherein a link is provided to newly obtained documents showing the Arboretum’s master plan for Winfrey Point. Most interesting is a 2010 email written by Arboretum honcho Mary Brinegar. She says she “darted up in bed” with the idea of taking over all of Winfrey Point.
Hey, I get her side. The Arboretum is growing. The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is going to be super sweet when it opens in 2013. But it really is this simple: you don’t build a parking garage in a park. Green space, not cars. Everyone else everywhere in the world already knows this. And even if you haven’t figured that out yet, you shouldn’t be so secretive about your plans. Because that’s our land. It belongs to the citizens of Dallas. We’d like to have a say in how it gets used.
But it’s not over yet. The best services in Dallas need your support through Sunday. You can vote once a day on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
After the last vote is tallied Sunday night, we’ll print all of the winners in the August issue of D Magazine.
Lost and Found: The Cocaine Edition. It started out last night with everyone thinking yet another white powder hoax had been perpetrated – only this time at the AMC Theater at NorthPark Center. Only, instead of baby powder or what have you, it was someone’s lovely Colombian bam bam that had been dropped right in front of the ticket counter. Dallas police say that if you lost your nose candy on your way to “The Avengers” last night, feel free to drop on by the station to identify and claim it.
Dallas Man Provides PD with Open and Shut Case. Christopher Worley walked in to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center Thursday and allegedly told officers he killed his girlfriend. When police arrived at her home, they did indeed find her dead. Worley remains in Lew Sterrett after questioning from police.
Who Wants to Buy the Dallas Farmers Market? Well, apparently an outfit called VenuWorks, and a collaborative effort called The Farmers Market Group – which is comprised of entities like Good Fulton & Farrell, UCR, and some other real estate folks; Bair Black; Janet Cobb; and The Richards Group.
Where Are They Now: The Jon Kitna Files. Ever wonder what happened to backup Dallas Cowboys QB Jon Kitna? No? Too bad, I’m telling you anyway. He’s teaching high school math.
Garland Woman 56 pounds Lighter. Mostly because she had a 56 pound tumor in her. Yes. 56 pounds. That’s like eight average-sized newborn infants all at once.