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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.

When It Comes to Green Space, Houston Is Kicking Our Ass

Awhile back (there’s no date on the thing, so I can’t say when for certain), Mark Lamster wrote a great piece for the Morning News titled “What Dallas Can Learn From Houston’s Buffalo Bayou for the Trinity River Project.” It was a little depressing. Houston has — or had — a situation not unlike the one presented by our Trinity River. They’ve figured it out — while we’re once again going back to the drawing board on that road along our river. Now comes this 6,500-word piece by Mimi Swartz in Texas Monthly. It covers some of the same ground (in a lot more detail). A taste:

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Leading Off (10/6/15)

Susan Hawk Offers To Rehire Fired Employee. Jeff Savage was an investigator in the DA’s office. He’d worked there 26 years and was 10 months from retirement when Susan Hawk fired him. Yesterday she apologized and offered him his job back. Good sign. While that was happening, James Rose of Fox Channel 4 came by the D Magazine offices to talk yesterday about how our story about Hawk came together.

More Details Emerge in Killing of Kendra Hatcher. The plot that led to the shooting death of the dentist in Uptown sounds like something from a bad direct-to-cable movie. Brenda Delgado, the jilted ex-girlfriend who masterminded it has been on the run since Friday.

Stephen King Shuts Down Dealey Plaza Today. James Franco stars in the miniseries based on King’s book 11/22/63. You can thank both men for the traffic problems today.

Ahmed Mohamed Inspires Halloween Costume. The “clock boy” getup includes handcuffs, an aluminum case, clock guts, glasses, and a NASA shirt. It costs $79.99.

Rangers Schedule Released. Get on the bandwagon! What’s your problem?! CLAW! ANTLERS! The first two games against the Blue Jays will be played early. The fun starts Thursday.

AA Pilot Dies In flight. A red-eye from Phoenix to Boston had to stop in Syracuse, N.Y., after the unnamed pilot died. Horrible.

Was Susan Hawk ‘Committed’ or Wasn’t She?

Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk has taken issue with one important part of the story we published online Sunday. Here’s the way Jamie Thompson reported the details of the most intense period of Hawk’s treatment for depression:

[Hawk] says she began thinking of ways to kill herself. She studied the blow-dryer in her room. Was the cord long enough to strangle herself? What about the strap on her purse?

That night she told a nurse, “I’m going to kill myself anyway. Just let me go home.” But once she uttered those words, she no longer could leave the facility voluntarily. Hawk was officially committed. She was placed under one-on-one supervision, a nurse following her at every moment, to every class, to every meal. At night, a nurse sat beside her bed, watching her sleep.

Hawk now says that’s not what happened. Here’s the way ABC Channel 8 put it:

Hawk … issued a statement, disputing the notion that she was ever in the facility involuntarily during the nine weeks she was there. “I was there voluntarily the entire time,” the statement said. “To say that I was there involuntarily at any point is factually wrong.”

First, I’d like to emphasize that what we reported is what Hawk told us. And in our fact-checking process, Jamie read that passage back to Hawk to make sure it was accurate. Hawk didn’t object at the time.

Here’s some more context to understand what happened when Hawk was in treatment and how she described it to Jamie. To provide more details, Jamie went back to her notes from a 10-hour interview she conducted with Hawk.

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The State Fair Made Errol McKoy Rich. Now He Plans To Make Even More Money.

Errol McKoy used to run the State Fair of Texas. He retired last year. In 2010, when he was making about $760,000 (when directors of comparably sized fairs were making about $200,000), we published a story that basically asked: WTF? I bring this up so you have context for the story that Cheryl Hall wrote McKoy’s next venture, a magnetic-powered jet boat amusement ride that will cost about $15 million to build and that McKoy projects will earn him up to $1.5 million a piece in royalties. Here’s the line in Hall’s story that caught my eye:

For the last decade, McKoy has worked with engineers to refine his propulsion system.

So McKoy was doing all this work on the weekends? I mean, I know for the past decade he was working for the Fair. And, judging from his salary, he was working hard. Maybe the jet boat development was just after hours? Or when he took vacation time?

Asking for a friend.

Susan Hawk Returns to Work, Outlets Scramble To Publish Stories

On her first day back at the DA’s office after two months of treatment for depression, Susan Hawk held a brief press conference, said she was excited to be back and stronger than ever, and then took no questions. Last night, Texas Monthly put online a 4,500-word Hawk story written by Skip Hollandsworth. He got some good quotes, some of them anonymous. If you’ve been following the story from the start, there isn’t much new. What is new is the take from the Texas Observer. Headline of a 1,200-word post by Amy McCarthy: “Sexism, Stigma and Susan Hawk: Let’s Find a New Way to Talk About the Dallas DA.” The first sentence tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this thing: “There was no hotter topic in the Dallas political gossip mill this summer than the ‘disappearance’ of Susan Hawk, Dallas’ newly-elected district attorney.” If you’ll allow me, I’d like to examine the quotes around the word “disappearance.”

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Why Is Deion Sanders Inviting Me To Go to Church in the Downtown Library?

Over the weekend, I got an email from Deion Sanders inviting me to church. The subject line of the email read: “You’re VIP | Sunday at Kingdom War Church | Downtown Dallas, TX.” The content of the email was a crazy GeoCities mishmash of images of Deion at church, invitations to join him, and, well, other stuff. After studying this email for three hours, I have been able to determine the following:

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Leading Off (9/29/15)

All Ahmed All the Time! Now he’s going to Qatar.

SMU Golf, Basketball Teams Learn About possible NCAA Sanctions Today. Pony up!

DMN Editorial Writer Doesn’t Like expensive stuff. Tod Robberson doesn’t like the high prices that Whole Foods charges. Also, he doesn’t like Whole Foods’ parking spots that are reserved for electric vehicles. And he doesn’t like that Whole Foods chooses to locate its stores where the company thinks they will have the best chance of succeeding. Tod Robberson is indignant. Presumably, he will next assail Neiman Marcus, Lululemon, and Apple, all retailers whose business model — charging a premium for high-end goods — deeply offends him.

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Carrie Fisher Gives ’Em Something To Talk About at Fundraising Luncheon

In years past, the annual Metrocare fundraiser luncheon has been a smallish, subdued affair. This year was different. The nonprofit — which, among other services, helps people suffering from mental illness — landed Carrie Fisher as its featured speaker. Fisher talks frequently about her own struggles with mental illness (she’s bipolar) and past substance abuse. About 500 people packed the Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom (a wonderfully apt name, given Fisher’s most famous role). It was an interesting lunch.

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J.J. Watt of Houston Texans Endorses — Gasp — Dallas Shirt Company

This will come as no surprise to you, but J.J. Watt and I are a lot alike. The most recent example of our near identicalness is the news that he is now endorsing Mizzen + Main, the same shirt company I have endorsed. I’m sure you remember the Great Tuxedo Challenge of 2012, the stunt where Zac challenged me to wear a tuxedo every day, all day, for the entire month of August. Hearken back to Day 8 of the Challenge, if your memory needs refreshing. That’s me, endorsing the greatness of Mizzen + Main — and looking very much like J.J. Watt. See the resemblance in the triceps? Anyway, as I was saying, Houston sucks.

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What’s Going On in This Picture?

I have three questions about this photo that I spotted on DISD trustee Miguel Solis’ Twitter feed. It was accompanied by the message: “No State of the District is complete without a pic with THE @Tawnell. @dallasnews.”

1. Am I an old person for having qualms about a trustee posting to social media a selfie taken with the DMN reporter who covers the district because it suggests a certain level of chumminess?

2. Has anyone else noticed that Solis, in the right light, bears a resemblance to John Leguizamo?

3. Seriously, I really am out of touch on that whole selfie thing, aren’t I?

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Leading Off (9/22/15)

Ahmed Pulls Out of Irving ISD. While Ahmed Mohamed’s dad was pulling his three kids out of Irving ISD, his famous clock-making son was hanging out in California, at the invitation of Google. I’ll just throw this out there: Mark Cuban has spoken with Ahmed. On Friday, taping an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, he said, “All [Ahmed] had to do was engage with the teacher, and he didn’t. That’s the point that was missing. It was wrong that he got arrested, but all that he had to do was talk to the teacher, but he didn’t.”

John Wiley Price Item GIVES ME EXCUSE TO CALL ATTENTION TO COOL NAME. This thing isn’t really big news. JWP wrote a strongly worded letter to the vice president of advocacy for the League of Women Voters of Dallas. Read more about it, if you’d like. What I’d like you to know is that the name of the vice president of advocacy for the League of Women Voters of Dallas is — Susybelle Gosslee. Put her name in the Pantheon. She joins the ranks of Shamoil Shipchandler and Bruce Sherbet (do your own googling, if you’re curious).

DMN Begins ‘Hawk Should Quit’ Drumbeat. Read this Jacquielynn Floyd column and tell me if — seeing how thin the column is on fist-hand observation or cited sources — you think it reads like someone suggested to J-Floyd, “You should write a column titled ‘Does Susan Hawk Even Like Being Dallas County DA?’ in which you engage in wild speculation and imply she should step down.” Meanwhile, Cindy Stormer, that recently fired prosecutor, is unloading both barrels, describing what the DA’s office was like when she worked there, and Hawk has said she won’t return to work till October 2 (which is a Friday).

Gene Simmons Comes to Dallas. Yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, Gene Simmons, the former Kiss frontman who will soon open a restaurant in The Colony, gave a pep talk at the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Conference. Read that sentence again. Go ahead. Really let it sink in.

Cistercian Prep Wins North Texas Giving Day

Jason provided the top-line stats in Leading Off. Yesterday was a great day for North Texas nonprofits. But it was an especially great day for one very special nonprofit. That would be tiny Cistercian Prep, my alma mater. Yesterday, the school received $486,575 in donations, putting it atop of the leaderboard. A little context: there were just 30 kids in my graduating class, in 1988. The school has grown a bit since then, but not by much. It has 346 students in grades 5 through 12. There are only about 1,400 alumni walking the planet. SMU, on the other hand, which landed at No. 5 on the leaderboard in terms of money raised, has about 110,000 alumni, with about 40,000 of those living in North Texas. Pow! Scoreboard!

And here’s where I stop bragging — Go, Hawks! — and point out that I’m just kidding when I say that Cistercian “won.” (Not really.) More than $33 million was raised for 2,022 nonprofits. They are all winners. (Disclosure: my wife’s company does PR for the event. More disclosure: that meant she worked until 2:30 this morning, and, as I said would happen, I fed my kids takeout Thai that included no vegetables while I watched the Rangers game. Even more disclosure: I don’t regret it.)

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