Matthew Fields, who manages parking at Trammell Crow Center in the Dallas Arts District, is suddenly a very popular guy. “My phone’s been ringing off the hook,” Fields says, adding that his email’s been blowing up, too–all from people who want to park in his underground garage. The reason: the nearby Hall Arts Parking facility is jacking up its monthly rates a whopping 100 percent, effectively doubling monthly rents as of June 1, from $75 to $150 or $65 to $140 for unreserved parking spots.Full Story
In the May issue, Peter Simek wrote about The Accommodation, Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze’s out-of-print book about the city’s racial divide that has seen a surge in black-market popularity among the young and civic-minded. You should read Peter’s story, and not just because it is both timely and contains a fascinating aside on how a certain embattled county commissioner came to possess the book’s copyright.
You should read it because it could make you rich. Well, richer. And only if you happen to have a copy of The Accommodation already in your possession, and only if you feel like divesting yourself of that copy. As we were finishing up the issue, I happened to mention to a longtime Dallasite and FrontBurnervian that the cheapest copy was selling online for $989. This Dallasite owned a copy in good condition. And because I am a triple threat of nice person, shrewd businesslady, and believer in the free market, I suggested she list it on Amazon. Yesterday, it sold to someone in the Park Cities for $599. She emails that “two other people posted books for about the price I’d listed when the issue came out—and they sold too.”
I can’t tell you where the copy that was in our office went. No clue. I am just saying that if I did know, drinks would be on me.Full Story
Dallas-Fort Worth Earthquake Risk Has Tripled. That’s just since 2008, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Granted, the risk is still pretty low, and we have yet to experience any catastrophic seismic activity. Yes, the energy production business — pumping chemicals and wastewater into the faults — is to blame.
Central Expressway in McKinney Temporarily Closed Due to Flooding. St. Delkus promised us a deluge, but thing were pretty light around my place in Oak Lawn. Meanwhile, the Collin County suburbs are being punished by our creator for their insolence?
Dallas Cop Fired For Sex With Teen, Prostitutes. Jorge Guzman had an inappropriate relationship with a teenager in the Dallas Police Explorer Program.
Plano ISD Will Stop Locking Unruly Children Away. Sounds like a sensible policy change.
We Should All Just Go Work For Southwest Airlines. The carrier has posted a record $453-million first-quarter profit.Full Story
Today a new study was released in the journal Nature Communications that determined the causes of the unusual seismic activity (earthquakes) around Azle (northwest of Fort Worth) in November-December 2013, which Brantley Hargrove wrote about in the May 2014 issue of D Magazine.
Researchers from SMU, the University of Texas at Austin, and the U.S Geological Survey determined that activities related to oil and gas operations in the area, as the Morning News notes, are responsible for “shifting faults below Dallas-Fort Worth that have not budged in hundreds of millions of years”:
The scientists zeroed in on an unusual mechanism behind the quakes: workers pushing liquid into the ground on one side of a fault and sucking gas and groundwater from the other side of the fault.
“The combination of these activities seems to have triggered the earthquakes, and that was a real surprise to us,” said Matthew Hornbach, a geophysicist at SMU and a lead author of the paper.Full Story
Can you say s-t-r-e-t-c-h? Yesterday, our colleague Peter posted Saturday night’s Art Ball video, a knock-off spoof of the song “Uptown Funk” starring the likes of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, DMA director Maxwell Anderson, Deedie Rose, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, and other art-crowd bigwigs. Peter also recalled a previous (admittedly tone-deaf) ball video spoofing “Downton Abbey.” Then he proceeded to rip Rawlings, throw a bouquet to mayoral contender Marcus Ronquillo, and somehow relate it all to the Trinity River tollroad debate. That opened the floodgates for commenters (here and elsewhere), who variously accused the video cast of elitism, racism, ripping off taxpayers, and making a “mockery” of … something or other.
Give me a break. Please. This blowback is so over-the-top and ridiculous, it’s embarrassing. First off, the “Funk” takeoff was a sponsor video, intended to thank the sponsors of Saturday’s fundraiser in a light-hearted and creative manner. (The sponsors are those who help pay for the event.) Second, the video was actually entertaining, imagined and edited with a deft touch. Third, the people in the video were making fun of themselves as much as anything (Rawlings in hair curlers? The usually buttoned-down Anderson looking like Nathan Lane in “The Birdcage”?) Last, the racism charge is offensive. Leaving aside that the video cast was not all-white, the fact is that it’s people with money—regardless of the color of their skin—who bankroll institutions like the DMA, which has been able to offer free admission and free membership to all comers precisely because of events like Saturday night’s. Welcome to the real world, people.Full Story
If you’ll recall, last year I spent some time with Glenn Beck. We talked about a lot of things, including the empire of businesses he’s building in North Texas. And while he was already making movies, producing radio and television shows, writing and publishing books, and selling clothes (and accessories) to men, one thing he wasn’t doing — not until now anyway — was making women’s clothes.
According to a press release, the clothes are manufactured in Texas, with Beck “overseeing every step of the clothing design process including fabric selection, stitching, buttons, etc.” The nice people at The Blaze sent over a few shots from the new all-denim line.
Judge for yourself:Full Story
With its fast-growing population of wealthy people, Dallas has been a magnet for filmmakers looking for investment cash for awhile. Movies financed by North Texans include the 2008 Ben Stein documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” Rob Allyn’s “Java Heat” starring Mickey Rourke, and several from Gary Cogill’s (now-shuttered) Lascaux Films, a company that was basically bankrolled by local doctors.
The latest moviemaker to come knocking seeking Dallas dough is Chris Ekstein, an award-winning cinematographer from Venice, Calif., who’s shopping a Western project set in Texas called “The Last Duane.” Inspired by the writings of author Zane (“Riders of the Purple Sage”) Grey, the flick’s a straight-up oater about a gunfighter and outlaw who eventually sees the light and “gives himself over to service in the Texas Rangers.”Full Story
If you haven’t noticed, my post last week that asked readers how they would react to the idea of moving the State Fair of Texas out of Fair Park got a wee bit of attention. So much, in fact, that I now keep a bag packed and ready to go by my front door so I can flee the state when the angry mobs arrive in the middle of the night with pitchforks and torches ready to tar and feather me. One thing I’ve learned: admitting you’re a Yankee and then saying anything about Big Tex is the online equivalent of suicide by cop.
Regardless, the amount of feedback that post received does seem to warrant a revisit, at least to sort through the noise. So, what have we really learned?Full Story
It’s a great time to be selling a house in Dallas, in that demand is so great that you can make some serious bank on your investment. But what then? As Bloomberg notes today:
Last year, Rick Smith put his family’s house in suburban Dallas on the market, hoping to find a new home close to better schools and the city’s downtown. Selling the old house was a snap; buying a new one wasn’t. In January the family moved to a town home in a rental community, and quickly found they weren’t the only family forced into renting. “If you drive around our community, you’ll see moving boxes stacked up in the garages,” he said. “No one wants to unpack, because they think they’ll be moving again soon.”
Welcome to Dallas in 2015, a city whose bustling economy is attracting new residents at a rapid pace—and making it increasingly difficult to buy a house. New listings get multiple offers in mere days, said Steve Habgood, president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors. Homeowners are increasingly reluctant to sell lest they wind up in Smith’s situation. “People are saying, ‘Great, I can get a premium on the price I paid, but where am I going to live once I sell?'” said Habgood. “The options are pretty limited.”
It’s become a vicious cycle.Full Story
By most accounts, Myron “Mike” Ullman has done a good job stopping the bleeding since returning to the CEO’s office at JCPenney in 2013, following the disastrous, short-lived tenure of former chief executive Ron Johnson. How exactly has he done it, though? That’s what we wanted to know during a recent interview and audience Q&A with Ullman at the Dallas Friday Group, a luncheon forum for businesspeople. Although Ullman graciously avoided mentioning Johnson by name during our conversation, he wasn’t shy about assessing the problems caused by the one-time Apple savant. Ullman, who led Plano-based Penney from 2004 to 2012 before making way for Johnson in 2012, was asked whether coming back to the company wasn’t hard and stressful. “No! Hard and stressful is when you’re building something that people don’t like,” he replied. “Satisfying is when you’re fixing some stupid mistakes that somebody else made. So that’s what we’re doing.”Full Story
The whole kerfuffle about the CityPlace Sam’s Club got my curiosity up. I know what my internal emotions tell me about the construction of more box stores and their barren, concrete parking lots, but what does it really look like? What are the facts? It actually wasn’t the CityPlace Sam’s that drove me to put together the information that follows. Rather, it was responses to rumors about a Costco at the old Steakley Chevrolet location at Northwest Highway and Abrams Road. In a June 2014 Lakewood Advocate blog posting, a reader comments: “YES! this would be awesomeness to have our own Costco!”
But why? There’s a Target (at Medallion Shopping Center) within 1,000 feet of there, a Sam’s Club about 2,000 feet away, a Walmart sitting on top of that same Sam’s Club (at TimberCreek Crossing), and yet another SuperTarget about 3,000 feet down Abrams.Full Story
Before an event last night, I had a conversation about, yes, the Trinity Toll Road. Hard to avoid the topic these days, particularly in Oak Cliff at book readings with anarchist Icelandic politicians. I casually mentioned to someone that a number of people, particularly younger, community-minded people, have told me that if the Trinity Toll Road gets built they are going to leave Dallas.
“That’s funny,” he said. “I was just saying that to someone yesterday.”Full Story
Forbes released its annual Billionaires List this week, with 536 of the world’s 1,826 billionaires residing in the United States. Among those American billionaires, nearly 50 are from Texas.Full Story
Wrapping up a guest appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” program last night, Fox News host/political commentator Megyn Kelly joked that he had become a real “sweetheart” during the last week, and she wryly wondered why. Kelly was right: the usually combative, right-leaning cable news host has appeared more subdued than usual lately, chastened even. The reason, I believe, is the still-unresolved, ticking time bomb over a story O’Reilly seems to have made up involving his work as a reporter in the 1970s at Dallas’ WFAA Channel 8, about the suicide of a figure in the JFK assassination probe. It’s a tale he needs to come clean about publicly—or else relinquish his top-rated news commentary show.Full Story
Over the weekend, legendary investor Warren Buffett, the “Sage of Omaha,” released his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. Each year the financial world pores over Buffett’s words as if they are tea leaves predicting the future of the world economy. And considering that Buffett is the world’s third-richest man, it’s not hard to understand why.
Well, among his advice this year: Read D Magazine.
Before I depart the subject of spin-offs, let’s look at a lesson to be learned from a conglomerate mentioned earlier: LTV. I’ll summarize here, but those who enjoy a good financial story should read the piece about Jimmy Ling that ran in the October 1982 issue of D Magazine. Look it up on the Internet.
Through a lot of corporate razzle-dazzle, Ling had taken LTV from sales of only $36 million in 1965 to number 14 on the Fortune 500 list just two years later. Ling, it should be noted, had never displayed any managerial skills. But Charlie told me long ago to never underestimate the man who overestimates himself. And Ling had no peer in that respect.Full Story