I spent the better part of a day with District 4 councilman Dwaine Caraway for a feature in our July issue. You can read that here. I crammed as much of our day as I could into the story, but there was simply too much. Dwaine likes to talk. Here are a few selections from my notebook.
1. Before Caraway began working on revitalizing part of Lancaster Road, centered on the new Rudy’s Chicken location, he had a different spot in mind, revolving around another beloved restaurant: Glendale Shopping Center and Catfish Floyd’s.
“They love Catfish Floyd like they love Rudy’s. We tried to revitalize this shopping center, and I still have to put a plan in motion. They are working on trying to straighten it out and do some stuff. I had money set aside for this, but I took the money here and put it over on Lancaster. Because management, ownership here was not” — he snaps his fingers a few times — “they were procrastinating. So I chose to move Rudy’s up ahead. Catfish Floyd is out at the State Fair. He has the No. 1 tartar sauce. Everybody’s got their deal. His tartar sauce is like Rudy’s seasoning.”
2. Conversation with a man in the parking lot of the Walmart he helped bring into the district, after he saw a trap in the back of the man’s pickup:
“How you doing there?”
“Alright. What you catching in that cage there?”
“You eat squirrel?”
“No! You got any extra ones?”
3. Caraway is not a huge fan of the parks department, at least as far as its approach to Fair Park.
“I’m pushing for the parks department to come under the city manager form of government. Because, like, they’re sitting on top of Fair Park and not doing nothing? Well, hell, you can’t give Jerry everything. You can’t just sit there and wait on the phone to ring. Goddammit, dial the number. Call somebody. Call Zac. Say, ‘Hey, Zac — you got a family reunion coming, man? We sure got a nice place at Fair Park where you could have it. What’s that? Oh, you don’t have one coming? Do you know somebody that’s got one coming?’ Okay. But, no, they’re waiting on Zac to call. What are they doing today? Sitting there, anyway. They’re on the payroll. What are they doing? Having a meeting. A meeting about what? ‘We ain’t got nothing going on.’ What in the hell they meeting on? ‘Well, let’s just meet to talk about the next meeting that we oughta have, so we can talk about some things, that we oughta be meeting about.’” He laughs.
“I mean, come on, man. Crank. Up. The engines. Goddammit, let’s go.”
4. Caraway stopped his car once to yell at a young man to pull up his pants, continuing his crusade against sagging. We also stopped at the intersection of Ramona and Overton to check in on a pair of convenience stores, and he wouldn’t leave until both owners had removed some signs from their front doors, in violation of the ordinance he had passed in 2008.
He also told one of the owners to get rid of the group of men loitering outside the store. “You can just call my office, and then let my office call the police,” he said. “You just make that initial call so we can know. Because I can’t see this all the time.”
We hung around in the parking lot until he saw both owners take the offending signage to the garbage. “Here’s the deal,” he said as we finally left. “Why I got to be the goddamn police? Huh? Okay? They supposed to see it like I see it, shouldn’t they? They ain’t got nothing else to do. They oughta stop and say what I just said.”
5. Deion Sanders looks like he could still play. Dude is ageless.
“My man!” Sanders said, giving him a big hug, when we dropped by his Prime Prep Academy unannounced. “I’ll feed you next week.”
As far as the embattled Prime Prep Academy goes, Caraway says, “Deion is really sincere. Anybody that’s educating kids, showing them the light, you’ve gotta be supportive.”
6. Caraway is trying to get the city to give him at least one D-Link bus to use as a circular up and down Lancaster. And he has a point. With the DART rail running through the center, it can be inconvenient — or dangerous, if you try to illegally cross over the track — to get around. It’s even more frustrating to him, because they park in his district. As we waited at a stoplight talking about a hot-sheet motel he got to clean up its act, we saw one.
“Leaving the garage. But not driving over here. You see the two stray dogs right here? You hear me talking about this stuff, I want you to see it. So you can understand that it is a problem. It’s not just one I’m sitting here complaining about. Freaking stray dogs. A dog with a curled tail? He will bite your ass. Trust me. But this motel minimized their operation — you see the D-Link? Ain’t nobody on it. They’re getting ready to go to the other part of town, to the other people. Now, the garage is right down here. Okay? But we can’t even get one. All of them are on the other side of 30. We can’t get not one, to be a circular bus, up and down Lancaster.”
7. Oh, also there is still a stray dog problem in District 4, if you did not pick up on that.
8. Caraway’s tiny mother, Mattie, hugged me about 10 seconds after I walked into her house. She was very sweet, even though she was self-conscious about “not having [her] hair on.”
9. One of his biggest successes, Caraway says, was getting the DART police headquarters moved to the former Monroe Shops building, which was in disrepair. At the same time, he had the community court move there as well.
“I put the damn court in here. Can’t say you can’t get to court — there’s a train out here.” It’s presided over by Judge Daniel Ryan. “You get a ticket today, we can get you in court on Friday, and you don’t even have to go downtown.”
10. The Fox gas station/laundromat/taqueria/various other things on 67 and Polk has probably 100 chandeliers inside. I don’t know why, but it is certainly fascinating.
11. Caraway has lived in District 4 since 1961, but isn’t sentimental about all of it.
“You see that sign that says Save-A-Lot? That was the old Crest Theatre. We bought and negotiated the Save-A-Lot to come here, but we had to tear down the Crest Theatre, which that’s where I got my first kiss in life, at the Crest Theatre, from a girlfriend. We tore it down and convinced Save-A-Lot to come into the area.”