Find a back issue

Making Dallas Even Better

A Look at the Curious Board of the State Fair of Texas

The State Fair is a ways off, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the three-week event that dominates the city’s largest and most underutilized asset. Today, I have two thoughts. I’m happy to share them.

First, you may have heard about the hubbub at the Wounded Warrior Project. The nonprofit fired its two top executives for overspending. In 2013, the Wounded Warrior Project had revenues of $342 million, and its CEO was paid $496,415 (.14 percent of revenue). The State Fair is also a nonprofit. In 2013 (the most recent year that Guidestar has its 990 form), it had revenues of $47 million, and its head honcho, the now-retired Errol McKoy, made $880,805 (1.87 percent of revenue). Two different nonprofits in two different industries. But still. It’s something to think about.

Second, I plotted the home addresses of the State Fair’s board members on a Google map. Have a look. Click around. I couldn’t help but notice that none of the folks live near Fair Park. Not that living in, say, Preston Hollow should preclude you from overseeing the three-week event that dominates the city’s largest and most underutilized asset, which happens to be in South Dallas. But, again, still. It’s something else to think about.

Read More

Are ‘Dallas Office Developers’ Building Too Many Buildings?

There is no more concrete indicator of the booming North Texas economy than the number of cranes filling-out the skyline. Just how booming? Well, with 7.6 million square feet of new commercial real estate construction coming online, Dallas ranks second only to New York in terms of new office real estate construction, according to a new study.

That prompted researchers to wonder: is Dallas building too much new real estate?

Read More

Texas Monthly on the Dallas Housing Boom

The cover story of the November Texas Monthly is all about the Texas housing boom. You should read it, if only because it will likely be the only story ever written that quotes Eric Celeste, Jim Schutze, and Candy Evans. I’m trying to imagine another possible story for which it would make sense to quote those three. The Venn diagram doesn’t provide much overlap. Let’s see. Eric and Candy are both huge Tottenham Hotspur fans, but Jim doesn’t follow soccer at all. And while Jim and Candy are both avid scrapbookers, Eric couldn’t give a damn. So I think this story is it.

Anyway, give it a read. The three make Dallas sound like the best place on earth to live. Which, of course, it is.

Read More

Who Really Loses When the Uptown Sam’s Club Construction Starts on Sunday?

This Sunday, the Trammell Crow Company, on behalf of its clients Sam’s Club and the Metropolitan Life Corporation, the primary investor in the project, will blow up old Xerox building just off Central Expressway in order to make way for a big box store right in the heart of the fastest growing, highest tax base, densest area of Dallas.

It is utter madness.

And while I know you have heard the story in some form or fashion, on the eve of destruction, I believe it is worth recounting. There are many  lessons in the sorry tale of Uptown Sam’s, and the story should enrage you—not provoking the kind of idle anger where you throw up your hands and go, “Ah, there’s Dallas, yet again,” but rather provoking the kind of rage that makes you want to run down to city hall with pitchforks in your hands. Let’s get to it.

Read More

Aftershock Rocks North Dallas

I didn’t feel the earthquake earlier today, but my house a mile north of LBJ and Preston just rocked big time. I’m no rookie to quakes. My house in Sherman Oaks, California, was almost demolished by the Northridge Quake in January 1994. That was one of the main reasons I moved back to Dallas. Amazing how you never forget what it feels like when you watch your house sway. We are but small things on this planet.

Update: Someone just emailed me and asked me the difference between an aftershock and an earthquake. I’m no seismologist, yet I did study geomorphology and climatology in college. It is my understanding that aftershocks usually occur near the original fault line or epicenter of the quake and are not as strong. This knowledge I learned from living in California. After a quake, you rushed to fill up your bathtub with water, grabbed whatever liquor bottles didn’t break, and hunkered down in the bathroom to wait for the aftershock.

But this isn’t the San Andreas fault line, and these shakes we are experiencing are, in my opinion, man-made. So wheels off on these little frackers.

Read More

Just as the Scriptures Predicted, 2014 Has Brought Dallas Its First Classic Hip-Hop Radio War

A sampling of texts/emails/Facebook messages/conversations from Saturday:

“This new 94.5 is amazing.” “So is the updated 93.3” “That one is bullsh*t. 94.5 plays Lil Keke. And Fat Pat.”

“Please blog ASAP about the new format for 94.5: classic hip-hop.”

“If I were the editor of Morning News, Vognar would already be hard at work on a front-page story about this.”

Read More

Further Thoughts On The Guy That Ordered That Giant Starbucks Drink

1. Now that I see the details of Andrew Chifari’s stunt — as a Gold member of their loyalty club, he was entitled to a free drink, basically limited only by whatever dumb thing he could come up with and whatever the baristas would allow, and, I mean, what do they care — I sort of respect the hustle.
2. THAT SAID, it took him five days to drink it. That I do not respect. The way I see it, Starbucks called his bluff and then he folded. Sure, it would have been borderline suicidal to drink that many shots of espresso in one day. Look at it this way: when you order one of those gag 72-ounce steaks, you clean your plate or you lose. You don’t get up on the steakhouse wall with a doggie bag. Same rules apply here, as far as I’m concerned.
3. The name he came up with for the drink — Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino — lacks panache. I mean, OK, it’s Starbucks, so maybe he felt he had to abide by the naming conventions. But you bring your own 128-ounce vase and manage to get them to fill it with caffeine slurry, you get naming rights, and you need something that doesn’t sound like an Idiocracy deleted scene. Say you want a “DEATHBRINGER” and have them Sharpie your name on the side.
4. Finally: “I think the fact that Kelly Ripa said my name and Michael Strahan said I was smart has been the most exciting.” DREAM BIGGER, FELLA.

Read More

Brantley Hargrove Lands Book Deal with Simon & Schuster

I want to say something funny here. I want to poke fun at Brantley’s affinity for “cat facts,” or his life in “the bubble,” or his fear of ghosts, or his inexplicable desire to climb–and then jump off of–things he shouldn’t. But no. Today we celebrate.

It’s official: Simon & Schuster will publish D contributor Brantley Hargrove’s forthcoming book about famed storm chaser Tim Samaras and the gigantic tornado–the widest ever recorded–that killed him. The book, tentatively titled The Storm is likely to come out some time in early 2016. It grew out of the reporting Brantley did for this Dallas Observer story last year. I know David Patterson, his agent, is very excited. So is Brantley, though he knows he has a formidable task in front of him.

Read More