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Making Dallas Even Better

I Walked Every Block of Downtown Dallas

A couple of months ago, I started walking every day at lunch. Like any number of things I’ve done — like most things I’ve done, actually — it started on a whim and kept going on its own momentum. There was no real plan. One day, I went for a walk at lunch. A week later, I realized I’d gone for a walk every day. A month later, I realized I craved it.

At first, I just sort of wandered. I don’t remember those early walks very well, because they weren’t the point yet. I needed a break from the office, and I decided to walk instead of sitting on a bench somewhere, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I was retracing steps I’ve taken probably 200 times since we moved downtown. Was I looking at my phone? Probably. There wasn’t much to see.

But I got bored and curious, so I started leaving my phone in my back pocket and began doing something close to exploring, going a different direction every day, maybe a little bit further. Pretty soon, I’d walked every block in downtown, and then some. I’ve walked to Deep Ellum and through various parts of Uptown. I walked through the triple underpass by Dealey Plaza and back again. Last week I went to the Cedars a couple of times, and I went again today. I’ve realized everything is a lot closer than you might imagine. Is it all walkable? Not the way an urbanist means it. But you can certainly walk it if you want to.

Beyond just going different places, I started paying better attention to my surroundings, seeing the details that pass by too quickly when you’re in a car. Some stray thoughts:

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Let Me, Zac Crain, Play QB For the Cowboys

First, a few caveats. I’m 41. I haven’t played football since I was a sophomore in high school, and I missed most of that season due to a really nasty illness that required surgery, and when I did play it wasn’t quarterback. I played, very sparingly, center and defensive tackle, and honestly I wasn’t great at either. (I preferred — and was actually decent at — basketball.)

Also, I’m left-handed, and so all the formations and plays will have to be adjusted to reflect that.

Furthermore, I don’t have a “prototypical QB body,” either. I’m 6 feet tall and of average build. Actually, that’s not a caveat. I’m taller than Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, so forget that. But, physically, yes, I do have some issues: I’ve got creaky knees, one ankle that is just this side of fictional, and an inherited tire fire of a back that has been going out on me since I was 18.

I also can’t throw too well. Not in terms of accuracy, or distance. I mean, I can throw, OK? But basically you’re going to have to just rip any sideline outs or deep passes right out of the playbook.

Also, I don’t have a passion for the sport. As I mentioned before, I prefer basketball, and after that soccer, and after that The Challenge on MTV. But I do watch football. Some. I mean, I’m not going to freak out if my Sunday takes me away from the games.

OK, and I have a demand for perfection that sometimes rubs my co-workers the wrong way, and that may be a problem if my co-workers are 300 pounds.

Now that all that is out of the way, here is my case: I’m available, I’m cheap, my clavicle bones are in perfect working order, I’ve never lost an NFL game, I definitely won’t be out hunting for my own stats, I already live here, I’m interested in a new career challenge, and I’m friendly with all the sports radio hosts that matter. You probably could use someone who can run a charm offensive right now.

And it’s not like I’m asking to play defense. That would just be dumb.

Rob’s Chop Shop Celebrates 20 Years

The old-school barbershop in Exposition Park run by third-generation barber Rob Villareal — and recent Best of Big D winner — will celebrate two decades in business on Saturday with a shindig from 6 to 9:30 pm. Plus, it’s Rob’s 50th birthday. So after drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the shop, there’s an after party at 10 at the brand-new Eight Bells Tavern (in the old Amsterdam space) with a performance by The Rhythmaires and tunes by DJ Mr. Rid.

Delete These Phrases From Your Vocabulary Forever

World class: Unless you are talking about the late, great World Class Championship Wrestling promotion once ruled by the Von Erichs, or are saying it in a derisive manner (“another ‘world class’ idea by the mayor”) followed by a dismissive wanking motion, or — actually, those are the only two instances in which it is okay, and even the last one I’m not so sure about. We need about a solid century of never putting those two words together to make up for the damage done by constantly chasing approval from big-brother cities like New York or London or who cares. Stop saying it. Stop thinking it. Stop kind of saying it. Stop.

Signature: This is like a cousin to “world class.” How do you get a world class toll road? With a signature pedestrian overlook, of course. “Signature” is what gets us into messes. “Signature” bridges, etc. and so on. We are too old of a city to manufacture anything “signature” about ourselves, but we keep trying, which is actually our “signature” quality. Just to be safe, when you need someone to sign something, ask for their John Hancock instead of their signature. That will become tiresome pretty quickly, so then you need to start saying it in a funny, dorky voice, like you know it’s a corny phrase. That will buy you some more time. But that, too, will get old. Then start asking for someone’s “Juan Hancock.” Say it in an elaborate accent. Not offensive. More just … florid. Regal, almost. Then, when that stops working, just silently put one of those “sign here” post-its where you need the s_gn_t_r_.

“Feels like Austin.” 1) Screw that place. They hate us. 2) There are now enough establishments around Dallas that have that leafy, repurposed, jackasses-in-flip-flops-and-beards thing happening that you can just reference one of them instead. Yeah, it’s on its way out. Kill it completely.

Poll: Would You Care if the State Fair of Texas Left Fair Park?

Yesterday Mitchell Glieber, the president of the State Fair of Texas, released a startling statement. Responding to a proposal put forward by Boston-based planner Antonio Di Mambro that completely rethinks the layout and use of Fair Park, the State Fair said that adopting such a plan would “effectively end the 129-year tradition of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.”

Sound the alarms! Raise the flags! The State Fair could leave Fair Park! How did we get here?

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DMN Sets Twitter Goal for Its Reporters

Jeffrey Weiss used to cover religion for the Morning News until they killed that beat. Now he covers regional education issues. He has been a reporter for more than three decades. And he needs your help. On Tuesday, here’s what he wrote on Facebook:

I’m shamelessly trolling here for Twitter followers. The DMN has set a goal of 1K per person. I’m not there. I like FB a lot better than Twitter. But when the company sets a goal, to hear is to obey. I’m a sporadic Tweeter. I don’t post much just to kibbitz. Curated, if you will. So I won’t fill up your Tweet stream. If you have a mind, I’m at @jeffreyweissdmn

As of this morning at 9:52, Weiss had only 808 followers. Please, people, if you can find it in your hearts to follow him, it sure would help. Thank you. Also, Tod Robberson has only 724. He could use a little love. Oh, and James Ragland has 307.

UPDATE (11:28) Someone at the paper just passed me an interesting Twitter memo that was sent to DMN staff. It was sent Tuesday by Michael Landauer, whose title is digital communities manager:

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How the Mayor Should Handle Ethics Complaints About His Well-Stocked ‘Officeholder Account’

Mayor Rawlings pinky swears he won’t touch money in his officerholder account that came in before he announced his re-election bid in December. He also said that he became aware of the loophole that allows incumbents to receive unlimited contributions back in 2011, and believes we “gotta change that,” but, you know, hasn’t gotten around to it. Now he will, at some point in the next six months, which sounds like after the election.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t find that response terribly satisfying. Here’s a better idea.

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Everything’s Bigger In SHUT UP

This headline, for a preview of the new Nebraska Furniture Mart, is not word-for-word the dreaded “everything’s bigger in Texas” trope, no. But it is meant to evoke that phrase and for that is is close enough. Too close. It’s hard enough when those jeans-kicking words are trotted out by carpetbagging Yankees, but much worse when the lazy cliche-spouting comes from inside the house.


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If You’re in Town For the College National Championship, Boy Does Dallas Have a Deal For You!

In January 2009, I lived in a two bedroom apartment right outside Washington DC. If you remember January 2009, and particularly Washington DC in January 2009, you will remember it as basically a modern-day gold rush. It was the first time—if memory serves—that Craigslist was used for anything other than “M4BBW; will bring wine coolers.”

It all went something like this:

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Why Does Desoto Need a $733,000 Mine-Resistant Vehicle? And Duncanville, and Mansfield, and Bedford, and…

The town of Edgewood sits 60 miles due east of downtown Dallas, off US-80. It’s got about 1,400 residents and a busy Dairy Queen. The total size of the town is barely one square mile. And over the past 20 years the U.S. Department of Defense has provided the town’s police department with $1,585,908 worth of rifles, trucks, trailers, barbed wire, and dozens of other items.

The transfer is known as the 1033 Program, launched in October 1995 by the Pentagon as a way to distribute weapons, vehicles, and other supplies to police departments nationwide, with little or no oversight as to their need or use. This week, for the first time, the Pentagon released the names of those departments and the supplies they received. The Marshall Project broke them down, and found that the program has given out $5 billion worth of equipment since its inception, including tactical military equipment worth more than $1.4 billion. Close to 7,500 agencies nationwide have been a part of the program.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of every North Texas municipality that received items in the past 20 years. Thirty-four different departments have received supplies, to the tune of nearly $8.6 million. (Overall, Texas has received at least $191 million in equipment; the highest total for a single department is the Harris County Sheriff Department, with a whopping $26.8 million.)

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A Simple Proposal: Tear Down the Convention Center

1. Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau president Philip Jones said we needed a hotel to make the convention center work. We gave him one. Now he says we need we need bigger ballrooms and more flexible multipurpose meeting space, because “he has a list of large convention groups that either have canceled plans to come to Dallas or may cancel because ‘they no longer fit.'” You know what I would love? I would love to see that list.

2. OK, so we spend $300 million or whatever it ends up being so the United American Consortium of Briefcase Salesmen of America will keep coming to Dallas. Super. Do you want me to tell you what happens next, or are you the kind of person that doesn’t want to see the movie until they’ve read the book? You know what? I’m going anyway. OK, OK, next Philip Jones is going to say that the hotel needs some upgrades — let’s say $200 million — because it’s no longer suitable, and the North American Confederation of Pet Accessories Dealers Worldwide is for sure going to cancel because of it. Then the convention center will need something. Maybe a heliport and a series of underground canals, because the Universal Order of Scuba Suppliers likes to be near water. I’d price that out at around $400 million, but that is only if Jones serves as his own general contractor.

3. We’ve spent $500 million, and we’re on a path that will see us spend God knows how much more to do what? Save Philip Jones’ $600,000 job? No thanks. We’re getting pushed around by groups of heating and air conditioning professionals. Is everyone excited that we’re turning into St. Louis?

4. The convention center doesn’t make money. It makes us spend money to construct more and more ornate crutches to prop it up, but it doesn’t make money.

5. Tearing it down gets us off Jones’ handout treadmill. But also: how much would that amount of prime downtown property be worth on the open market? And how much property tax would a new development in that location generate every year? Maybe I’m ridiculously, hilariously wrong here. Maybe I just like blowing stuff up.

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