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Dallas City Council Bans Exxxotica From Using Convention Center, Ctd.

Jason, that was an excellent recap of the City Council meeting today. This reminds me of the city’s erstwhile war on topless clubs under Mayor Laura Miller. Read this great essay titled “The New Puritanism,” by Joe Bob Briggs, that D Magazine published in 2004. (It entered our archives via OCR scanning, so be patient with the many typos. It’s worth it.)

Leading Off (2/9/16)

New Details in Johnny Manziel Case. NBC Channel 5 obtained the affidavit signed by Manziel’s girlfriend, which details his alleged assault and led to a protective order. Colleen Crowley says they had dinner at Victor Tango’s and later went to Manziel’s room at Hotel ZaZa, where he threw her on a bed. It got much worse as, she says, he retrieved her car from the valet, kidnapped her, and threatened to kill her and himself. Even Jerry Jones has to realize by this point that Manziel needs treatment, not a contract.

Mike Hashimoto Unleashes a Humdinger on Exxxotica Convention. If you’re still trying to make up your mind about the new DMN Metro columnist, read his column today about the Exxxotica foolishness. He lays out how Ray Hunt has gotten Mayor Mike Rawlings to change his stance on the porn convention and possibly even lead the city into a losing lawsuit (stay tuned for Wednesday’s City Council meeting). It’s a smart, sharply written column—and a huge upgrade from Steve Blow.

30th Anniversary of Spud Webb’s Awesomeness. Watch the dunk again.

What Do David Foster Wallace and Barrett Brown Have in Common?

Barrett Brown, as you might know, won a National Magazine Award earlier this week for a jailhouse column that began right here on FrontBurner and then migrated to Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept. Well, he won for three installments published by The Intercept. We’re happy to have been part of the process and aren’t looking for any credit (we totally deserve all the credit).

And, as you might also know, I won a National Magazine Award for a profile I wrote of Barrett. Which has led me this past week to remark to several people that Barrett must be the only subject of an NMA-winning story to have won an NMA himself. Right? I mean, because how could that have happened twice? So I asked the kind folks at the American Society of Magazine Editors, which bestows the awards, to confirm that it had never happened before.

Well, it has.

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The Travails of Sandbranch, the Poorest Community in Dallas County

In 1985, Richard West wrote a story for D Magazine titled “The Lost Community of Sandbranch,” about a poor, unincorporated part of Dallas County. At the time, the folks there were fighting for access to clean water. Today, more than 30 years later, they still don’t have clean water. The wonderfully named Doyin Oyeniyi, writing for Texas Monthly, has an update:

Now, water from the few wells and tanks in the neighborhood is used for flushing toilets and sometimes cleaning (if it’s boiled). Water in tanks is covered in algae, and the well water comes through old pipes and hoses with sand in them. Unable to rely on the wells, residents now buy and bring water by the gallons from work, family, friends, and stores in surrounding areas such as Balch Springs, Oak Cliff, and Seagoville. They’ve had to resort to burning trash in their own backyards. This lack of access to basic services such as clean water and sewer services is especially frustrating considering that the Dallas Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant is just a few miles away from the community.

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They’re Going to Frack Under Lewisville Lake?

An alert FrontBurnervian points us to this story in the Lewisville Texan Journal from a few days back about an upcoming auction for the right to drill for gas under Lewisville Lake. The Bureau of Land Management will sell a 10-year mineral rights lease in Santa Fe on April 20. If you think that some folks question the wisdom of drilling under a lake with a bad dam, a lake that Dallas uses for drinking water, then you’d be right. From the Lewisville Texan Journal:

Lewisville Lake has been the subject of recent news reports including the LTJ regarding dam deficiencies. [Wendy Park, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity] is concerned that the fracking process for horizontal wells under the lake could cause increased seismic activity — a concern echoed by [Rita Beving, of the Clean Water Fund]. She worries that either fracking, or any possible wastewater disposal that might occur in the vicinity could weaken the dam and cause a breach.

The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter echoed the concerns of the others. Cyrus Reed, the group’s conservation director, emphasized his concerns about water contamination. He thinks contamination could happen if a well’s cementing or casing were to fail or if a spill were to occur.

The public has until February 19 to file a protest with the Bureau of Land Management. That has to be done either by fax (!) or snail mail. Here’s how.

Leading Off (2/2/16)

Joseph Randle Gambled on Sports. The former Cowboys running back was arrested Monday on a speeding warrant (making that his fourth arrest in 17 months), and the DMN is reporting that part of the reason the Cowboys released him last year was because he was betting on sports (though not, apparently, Cowboys games).

Dallas Landmark Commission Votes To Protect Big Spring. After so much bad news recently about city contractors bungling around in the Trinity Forest, it’s nice to hear this. The Landmark Commission has voted to protect Big Spring, one of the last artesian springs in North Texas. Surely the Plan Commission and the City Council will now do the right thing and approve the vote.

Meadows Building Might Get City Protection. Speaking of the Landmark Commission, it also voted yesterday to begin the lengthy process of giving the building on Greenville Avenue a historic designation (much to the new owner’s chagrin).

Dallas City Council To Discuss Bond Package. The Council is holding a retreat today. One of the topics they’ll discuss: putting off a $1 billion bond package till 2018. The mayor says he is concerned about the city’s financial stability. So enjoy your potholes, people.

What the Holy Heck Is Going on With the Greenville Avenue St. Paddy’s Parade?

As I’ve written before, the best day to be alive in Dallas, Texas, is the day of the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The weather is typically gorgeous. The people are plentiful and in good cheer. As long as you can avoid the serious drunken idiocy that transpires after the sun goes down, it’s just a wonderful time to mill about and let your freak flag fly.

Every year about this time, toward the end of January, I begin making my preparations. I check to make sure that my kilt is clean and pressed. (And, yes, I know kilts are Scottish. Don’t care.) I obtain a dumb hat of one sort or another. And, most important, I have a good, hard look at the calendar. The St. Paddy’s Parade always happens on the first Saturday day before St. Paddy’s Day proper. For years and years, this is the way it has been done. Any conflicts must be cleared, etc.

So imagine my shock when yesterday my mother informed me that the St. Paddy’s Parade will this year go down not on March 12, the Saturday before the actual holiday, as it should, but on March 19, a full two days after St. Patrick’s Day. What?! I thought she had to be mistaken. But it’s true. The official Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade website confirms it. Of course, that same website also displays a parade route map with a reference to Saturday, March 14, a date that doesn’t exist in the year 2016. So. Yeah.

But my point is this: you don’t celebrate Christmas on December 27. You can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day two days late. I mean, I will. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be there. But I’m celebrating under protest.

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Leading Off (1/26/16)

Shenanigans at Dallas city hall. A city audit found that a bunch of past council members got deep discounts on their city-owned computers and furniture when they left office. As in: “Sheffie Kadane paid $1,080 for $2,895 worth of electronics, including a 2-year-old MacBook Pro and two iPads. Vonciel Jones Hill pocketed her BlackBerry for $25, while Jerry Allen left with an iPad 3; the city auditor doesn’t know much he paid for it, if anything.” Meanwhile, Fox Channel 4 fought for months to get some public records from City Hall and eventually found that several top-ranking city officials have been taking vacation time without accounting for it. This all falls at the feet of City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, who, if he can keep his job for one more year, will leave office with a pension tied to his $400,000-per-year salary.

Bill Brewer Sanctioned for Misconduct. A state judge in Lubbock found that the well-dressed Dallas trial lawyer broke the rules when he used push polling to influence jurors in a West Texas wrongful death case. The judge said what Brewer did was “unprofessional” and “unethical,” and he ordered him to pay $133,000 and take 10 hours of legal ethics courses. I wonder if there’s a comedy legal ethics course that you can take in Dallas. You know, where a moonlighting standup comic cracks wise about the pitfalls of push polling in West Texas wrongful death cases. I think I just came up with a great business idea.

Woman Uses Child as Pickpocket. Addison police posted video of a woman acting as a lookout while her child swiped stuff from a purse in a Snuffer’s. Let’s be careful out there.

Local Magazine Editor Makes Television Appearance. You Won’t Guess What Happens Next.

Yesterday Jane McGarry was kind enough to have me over to the WFAA studios to talk about breakfast and murder on Good Morning Texas. If you missed it, you’ll find the video below. Perhaps the most salient comment on the segment that I’ve seen thus far came from a gentleman by the name of Bradford Pearson, who tweeted: “He needs to take that tablecloth out of his pocket and give it back to craft services.”

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Leading Off (1/19/16)

Mavs Beat Celtics in OT. From the Boston Globe: “Celtics forward Jae Crowder stepped to the foul line with 6.7 seconds left in regulation Monday and calmly drained three free throws, improbably sending this game against the Mavericks to overtime. Crowder said he’d had dreams about such a situation. It was his first game here as an opponent, his first since being traded away from a Mavericks team that had used him as little more than a bit player for 2½ seasons. But then the power of Crowder’s Predator-style dreadlocks ponytail failed him in OT, and the Mavs pulled it out 118-113.” I made up one of those sentences.

School Kids in Richardson Possibly Exposed to Measles. From the Morning News: “Collin County Health Care Services sent a letter to parents at Schell Elementary School in Richardson last week, notifying them that the agency was reviewing who might have been exposed. … Jawaid Asghar, the agency’s chief epidemiologist, told the Dallas Morning News on Monday that the child had not been vaccinated. Asghar added, ‘You people in Collin County who rely on prayer instead of vaccines confuse me.’” I’m sorry. I made up one of those sentences, too.

Ethan Couch’s Probation Hearing Is Today. From Fox Channel 4: “Affluenza teen Ethan Couch remains in a holding facility in Mexico fighting deportation. Whether part of a strategy or not, he will miss a court hearing during which the Tarrant County district attorney will ask to have his case moved from the juvenile system to the adult courts. The district attorney will also ask that Couch be forced to shave that ridiculous goatee.” Now the gag has worn thin. I know. The laws of comedy suggest that it would get funny again if I posted four more items. But right now I have to go walk my dog. Have a good Tuesday.

Get Yourself the New Dallas Flag

Dallas May has a great name, especially for a guy who lives in Dallas. Not quite as powerful as the homonymic Dallas Might, but still pretty good.

Anyway, as we’ve noted earlier, May has come up with a new flag for Dallas, because the current one stinks. Now May has made it possible to buy one of flags (I’m not the first to notice this) with an Indiegogo campaign. The $40 he charges only covers his costs. May just wants to see the flags flying, which would hopefully motivate city leaders to adopt the new design. I like May’s moxie. I like his flag even more.

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Has Anyone Seen Anyone Openly Carrying?

There’s a bloke who has been sending me daily emails about this new open carry law. He’s aghast. I can’t tell from the email address who the chap is. At first I thought it was Wick using an anonymous account due to the number of David Bowie allusions and references to “friends in Europe,” but Wick says it’s not him. I suspect it must be a food critic or a museum director. Anyway, I thought I’d share his latest email and then follow it up with a question:

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Barrett Brown Named a Finalist for National Magazine Award

This is a little crazy. And delightful. Here’s what has happened: in 2011, I wrote a story about Barrett Brown that won a National Magazine Award. (An NMA, for those not in the biz, is like a Pulitzer of magazine journalism. (Even though they recently began awarding Pulitzers for magazines, the NMAs are still the country’s highest magazine award.)) Then I spoke at Barrett’s sentencing hearing, and he still got sent to prison for 63 months. But prison, in some ways, has been good to Barrett. He started collecting stories and writing about his Kafkaesque life behind bars in a column for D Magazine called “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail.” It was a pretty dang good column. So good that last summer Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept stole it away from us. No hard feelings. We were happy that Barrett’s work had found a larger audience. Well, yesterday, Barrett’s column was named as a finalist in the NMA’s Columns and Commentary category. Some fun trivia about this development:

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The Making of a Murder Story, With Michael J. Mooney

Facebook recently rolled out a new feature called Livestream. Think of it like Periscope, only — well, it’s pretty much exactly like Periscope. Yesterday, we gave it a go, as Mike and I sat down in an awkwardly framed setting — look at the pretty glass of water in the foreground! — to talk about our True Crime Issue and, in particular, the story he contributed, “My Brother, the Murderer.” It’s one of the stranger stories I’ve ever been a part of. It started with a phone call to our front desk, the sort of call I’d refuse to take 99 out of 100 times. In the video (which is archived here), Mike and I explain what happened next. If you read Mike’s story and want to know how it came together, or if you’re just looking to waste 30 minutes, check it out.

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