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Making Dallas Even Better

Ask John Neely Bryan: How Do I Get a New Street Light in Dallas?

Question: One portion of my street gets disconcertingly dark at night. How can I get a new street light installed? — Roberta H.

Let us first consider the double-edged sword that was Edison’s electric bulb. You know what we used to do when it got dark? We went to sleep, and we didn’t feel much inclined to arise until the sun peeked out again across the eastern horizon. Even a gentleman of my much-accomplished verbal dexterity is hard-pressed to communicate the fantastic mode of living this engendered.

Don’t misunderstand. Fire had been invented by the 19th century. We had access to torches and candles and lanterns, et cetera, and you would be amazed at how brightly the moon and the vast array of stars themselves can illuminate the landscape when their luminosity hasn’t been subsumed within the visual pollution cast skyward by your modern cities.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: There’s No App Superior to a Night Out in Dallas

Question: Camden decided a few months ago to stop accepting all resident parcels. Is it not our god-given right to compulsively shop on Amazon? What if other Dallas business/residential properties follow suit? Where would all of the city’s packages go? Local FedEx and UPS locations certainly don’t have the bandwidth for all incoming items to just stop at their local drops. Right? — Chelsey P.

I am continually astonished, confounded, damn near bewildered to encounter once again a prime example of just how lazy you 21st-century folks have become. You have the high privilege of living, working, and playing in the greatest city God ever gave man, and you’d rather just stay inside ordering footwear from Zappos? Instead of taking advantage of the loveliest of evenings while nestled within the bosom of the fraternity of your fellow man, you prefer the life of an agoraphobic?

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Ask John Neely Bryan: What’s the History of Munger Place?

Question: I’m trying to do some research on my new neighborhood, Munger Place. What’s the history of it, and why are there so many damn apartment buildings? — Ricky F.

Congratulations and felicitations on settling into the Swiss Avenue Historic District’s disreputable older brother, Munger Place. You’ve arrived in time to surf a wave of urban renewal and nouveau gentrification. These days your new next-door neighbor is as likely to be an associate at some dandy-pants downtown law firm as a hooker — not that there’s much difference.

Time was, a ways back in the 20-aughts, that more “respectable” citizenry frowned upon the goings-on in this corner of Old East Dallas. But, from my vantage point, you missed out on much of what made life in the neighborhood an invigorating experience.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: What Place Do Highways Have in a Great City?

Question: What makes a great city? — TxDOT

It could be argued — and it should be, for what follows is the undoubted truth of the matter — that Dallas’ greatness reached its zenith shortly after a visionary entrepreneur from Tennessee first established a settlement near the banks of the mighty Trinity some 170-odd years ago.

Understand that this is not to imply that our city has lost any of its power to inspire the virtuous and strike fear into the hearts of the wicked in the intervening decades. It has, in point of fact, been rocking along pretty well since.

My point, such as it is, is that Dallas became the most remarkable urban center ever known to God or man (in the history of forever) before asphalt roads had so much as had been first dreamt up — as I recollect, by some mid-19th century science fiction writer. Roads, Mr. TxDOT, do not make cities great.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Decluttering Mockingbird, the Ugliest Street in Dallas

Question: What the holy heck happened with those pendant lights on Mockingbird? A few years ago, Patrick Kennedy wrote about the eyesores. A few months later, most of the broken lights were fixed. But then they started going out again. And now most of the poles have been removed — but not all of them. So did the city just give up or what? — Joe C.

Whoa there, boy. I can read the barely disguised resentment hidden between the lines of your message. You’re right to feel angry, embarrassed, even a little ashamed, about how deeply hurt you were that last week I didn’t see fit to communicate with my public in this space as per usual.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Advice For Donald Trump Ahead of His Dallas Visit

ATTN: Mr. Donald John Trump Sr.:

It was with the greatest interest that I received word of your impending plans to escape that coastal hellhole you call home for a visit to the greatest city God ever gave man in the history of the world: Dallas, Texas.

As you know, a not-inconsiderable time has passed since you queried me — asking that I keep the matter out of this public forum — in search of an outline as to the most strategic means by which you might launch a bid for the second-greatest office to which a personage might be elected by the common rabble.

While I was as pleased as Punch you heeded my advice that no thing beats the modern marvel that is a de-escalating staircase when it comes to making a dramatic entrance, I was perturbed not to have received so much as a memorandum of gratitude ahead of your campaign’s initiation.

We need to have a few words.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Finding Money to Fix Dallas Streets

Question: Firstly, thank you profusely for settling upon an inspired new logo for Dallas. You’ve saved the council hours of back-breaking sitting in chairs and taking turns talking in circles. Now, can you help with the city budget? Starting to think we’re in over our heads. — Mike R. et al

Sir, you know that I love this city with the sort of passion which men generally reserve for their wives and their Barcaloungers. It would be my pleasure — nay, it is my duty — to guide you through these troubled times. The very fact that the mayor of the world’s greatest city has been reduced to the indignity of hosting a Twitter town hall meeting on budget matters beginning this evening at 6 p.m. — how ghastly!

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Ask John Neely Bryan: A Post-Modern Logo For the City of Dallas

Question: How do you feel about this new logo for your city? Sure, it looks a lot like Plano’s starry P, and Arlington has a star shoved up their A too. But, looking at some of the others, what do they say to people? Irving has horses, Desoto’s eagle is proof of their All-American-ness. Richardson, well, people all over Richardson are trying to figure theirs out. The winner in my book is Addison, which with its jaunty logo, really spells “Party!” What is your opinion on this move? Are we turning into a regional star like Plano and Arlington? Should we keep the branch of nature in our D? Do we need more marketing? And if you have a recipe of two from the 1800’s, I’d love to discuss. — Amy S.

If only the current municipal governance of Dallas had the same wisdom and fortitude of character that you have demonstrated with your query, dear reader, I might could have spared them the wasted time involved in consulting those ne’er-do-wells who prattle on around the old horseshoe each week as to the possibility and probability of replacing the current city logo (the one which comes garnished by a side of parsley) with the star-emblazoned iconography devised by the Convention & Visitors Politburo.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Nutria, the Furry Menace in Our Dallas Waterways

Question: The other night, we were standing on the Continental Bridge, taking in the glorious river, when we saw something swimming upstream. We were at first concerned it was a dog, but it was moving with such ease, and going underwater and coming back out, that we decided it must be something else. Our final guess is a nutria. What the hell is a nutria? Are there many in Dallas? Will we have more now, and if we were to jump in to try to rescue it, would it kill us? (Sure, all these questions could be answered on Google, but I’d prefer to hear Mr. Bryan’s take.) — David H.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: How Dallas Police Reach Out to Kids

Question: Back in the day, Dallas police officers used to have trading cards with their names, stats, positions, etc. on them and featured photos of the officers, cool police cars, and K9 units. I remember them being like a super-prevalent thing at any Dallas event — parades, carnivals, and the State Fair. Living now in a time in history where police departments are trying to combat all the negative media and bridge the gap between police force and community, I wonder what happened to the program, if it’s still around, and if not, what the police department in Dallas is doing to facilitate that relationship with Dallas area youth? — Callie L.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Does Dallas Value Its Past?

That pontificating whippersnapper Simek got me thinking yesterday about the fetishism of the past to which a surprising number of you folks cling. A mediocre sub-urban fish joint shuts its doors and that boy waxes rhapsodic about — well, by his own admission he’s not precisely sure what. Lordy!

You want Dallas to return to its imagined heyday of 1906? You soft-shelled ninnies wouldn’t last a minute back then. Why the pungent odors wafting from the great, relatively unwashed mass of humanity alone would knock you flat before you could scamper across Main Street. Even if you could manage the feat, enjoy wiping the paste of dust and well-ground equine excrement from your soles when you reach the other side. And the heat! My god, the heat! No artificial refrigeration to ease summer’s onslaught, no sir.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Why Can’t Businesses Place Signs on Downtown Sidewalks?

Question: Why aren’t businesses allowed to put signs on the street downtown? How are people supposed to know they exist if they cannot? (For example, Hospitality Sweet in 400 N. Ervay; Serj across the street from them.) — David H.

What luck! Just last night, during my habitual bedtime reading, I finished Article VII of Chapter 51A of the Dallas City Code, which governs signage and other signage-related activities. It was among the most riveting passages so far of my trip through the regulations of local municipal governance. I am continuously awed by the ability of lawyers to take the language of Shakespeare and Keats, Twain and Hemingway, and fashion it into the verbal equivalent of pouring out a medium-sized container of thumb tacks and jamming them one by one into the back of your hand. A taste:

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