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Making Dallas Even Better

Parsing the Aldredge House Controversy

I keep trying to ignore the Aldredge House controversy, because I guess I keep thinking it will just go away. In addition, people whose opinions I like and respect have come down on opposing sides of the issue.

As I understand it, the deal is that the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance, a fairly well-heeled group of individuals, owns a fantastic, well-preserved old house on Swiss Avenue. To support its mission, the Society has turned day-to-day management of the space over to a special events company, which makes it available for weddings, parties, etc., much to the chagrin of surrounding neighbors.

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Edwige Belmore, Parisian Punk and Starck Club Tastemaker, Has Passed Away

Maybe you were lucky enough to be there. Maybe you just saw one of the documentaries or read one of the many articles. But those who remember Dallas’ legendary Starck Club at the beginning, in those heady early days in 1984 when Dallas, of all places, opened one of the most lavish and well-appointed nightclubs in the world, remember that to get into the club you to meet the demanding high standards of the woman manning the door. Her name was Edwige Belmore, and, sadly, she has passed away.

Edwige was in Dallas by way of Paris, London, and New York, where she hobnobbed with just about anyone who mattered in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Via Vogue:

[She] palled around with Yves Saint Laurent, Loulou de la Falaise, Bianca Jagger, and Farida Khelfa. She was photographed by Helmut Newton, Maripol, and Pierre et Gilles; reportedly dated both Sade and Grace Jones; kissed Andy Warhol on the cover of Façade (“The Queen of Punk Meets the Pope of Pop”); and walked the runway for both Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler. At the former’s 1979 James Bond extravaganza, she took to the catwalk in ripped fishnets and a black feathered jacket, singing “My Way” (the Sid Vicious version, bien sûr).

Yes, there was a time in Dallas when you couldn’t just hobble up McKinney Avenue with your drunken sorority sisters and stumble into the latest hot night spot. You had to impress someone who went to Studio 54 for the first time with Andy Warhol on her arm. Not many made it through the door at first (the crowded Starck in the old photos largely came after management relaxed its standards in early 1985), but those who made it into Starck in those early days were greeted with something Dallas — or the world — had never imagined before: black polished terrazzo floors, Romanian crystal champagne flutes, one of the best sound systems west of the Mississippi, a one-of-a-kind sunken dance floor, and, of course, legal Ecstasy.

Dallas isn’t the same city it was when the Starck Club opened, and, in part, it has the Starck to thank for that. And the style and soul of the Starck owes much to Edwige Belmore. It is sad to hear of her passing.

The Convention Center That Ate Dallas

A couple of weeks ago, after reading that the taxpayer-funded Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau apparently wanted to lend us the letter “D” from their “DALLAS” logo to replace the City of Dallas’ existing letter “D” logo, I got to thinking once again about the outsized influence the DCVB wields over municipal affairs.

Late last year, after Philip Jones, the DCVB’s president, tossed out a plan to have taxpayers pay for a $300 million addition to the convention center, I took a look into the finances and found that it lost $37 million per year before debt service and $54 million after interest expense — amounts that were virtually identical to its losses prior to the opening of the half-billion-dollar city-owned Omni Convention Center Hotel in 2010 (one of the primary justifications for building the hotel was that it would drive more business to the convention center and stop its losses). Some of the most interesting observations, however, came from reader comments to my post. Former city council member and the executive director of the Dallas Arts District, Veletta Lill, made the following observations:

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A Concise Review of Last Night’s Best of Big D Party

If you joined us last night at the Bomb Factory for the Best of Big D party, you’re probably moving a little slowly this morning. Get some coffee. Have a Dirty Dusty at lunch. You’ll be okay.

If you didn’t join us, you’re probably wondering how it went. To satisfy your curiosity, I offer you the above picture of Brendan Higgins, former CBS Channel 11 morning anchor. As everyone knows, the severity of a thunderstorm can be judged by ABC Channel 8 weatherman Pete Delkus’ shirtsleeves. The higher up his arms he rolls them, the worse the weather will get. A similar phenomenon occurs with Higgins’ clothes. The lower he unbuttons his shirt, the better the party. Last night, as you can see, was a three-button party.

Thanks to everyone at D Magazine and the Bomb Factory who made it happen. And thanks to our sponsors, too: Ben E. Keith, See’s Candies, Pinstack Bowl, and Topo Chico. Congrats to all the Best of Big D winners. Let’s do it again next year.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: How Much to Tip For a Growler of Beer

Question: No doubt you are enjoying the beer renaissance in Dallas. In your day, did they have growlers? That’s what confuses me a bit. How should one tip when one gets a growler filled? The bar wench does the same thing she’d do if you’d ordered a pint. The effort, for her, doesn’t increase much. So do you tip her a buck, same as you would if you’d ordered a glass? Or do you tip her based on the value of your purchase, which, depending on your druthers, could mean upwards of $20 (meaning a $4 tip)?  — Thirsty in East Dallas

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Jerry Jones Lawsuit Settled This Morning After Late-Night Lawyering

So that dancer dropped her sexual assault suit against Jerry Jones. Oddest detail from this story: the settlement was reached at 3 a.m. today. Surely they didn’t start early this morning and work for a couple hours. What time did they start yesterday? Did they take a dinner break? At, like, 11 o’clock, why didn’t they say, “Guys, let’s all go home, get some rest, and then get back at this at, oh, say 9:30 tomorrow”? More questions: does this mean that Jerry is guilty and didn’t want this thing to go to trial? Does this mean that every exotic dancer he encounters in the future — and surely there will be future exotic dancers — will file a lawsuit against him? The dancer initially wanted $1 million. Did she settle for $50,000? Does she have to pay taxes on that?

UPDATE (11:54) Jerry’s attorney sends along the following statement: “”We are pleased with the Court’s Judgment against Ms. Weckerly. Ms. Weckerly’s allegations were false. This case is over.” He also sends along a copy of the judgment, which dismisses the legal action by the plaintiff with prejudice, giving her no money.

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Watch Strokers Live Webcam, Stuff That’s NSFW

I know that Chris has already told you what to do in Dallas this weekend. But let’s say someone has kidnapped you and locked you in a closet with nothing but 3 pounds of brisket from Pecan Lodge and a laptop with a wifi connection to the internet. Of course, your captor would have to be pretty stupid, because then you could just email the cops to come rescue you. Let’s imagine, then, that you welcome the downtime. There’s a beanbag chair in the closet. It’s not so bad. Anyway, what you could do is point your browser to the the live webcam going at Rick Fairless’ Strokers. It’s their 18th anniversary this weekend, and, having once spent an afternoon at the place, I can pretty much guarantee that things will get dicey — in an entertaining fashion. Right now, not much is happening. Some Led Zeppelin is playing the background. A guy is sweeping up in front of the stage. But just hang in there. In a couple hours, you’ll be happy you stayed in your closet.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Stoneleigh, Heartbreak Hotel

Have you heard anyone refer to the Stoneleigh Hotel on Maple Avenue as Le Méridien Dallas? I haven’t, thankfully. Just like when the Melrose Hotel on Oak Lawn was rechristened with a corporate name — in that case, the Warwick — local tradition has remained important enough that ownership had to maintain the historic moniker.

I understand why these hotel operators feel the need to place established brands on their acquisitions. They want to reassure out-of-town visitors who’ve stayed at their other properties, but who are unfamiliar with Dallas, that they will receive the same quality of experience they’ve had in other cities. It’s the same reason that McDonald’s continues to do big business — familiarity counts for a lot with consumers. Why risk eating at a mom-and-pop burger joint that may not be any good when McDonald’s is right down the street and you know precisely what you’re going to get, as mediocre as it might be?

So there’s financial sense in enticing guests to book a room at Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh (the property’s mouthful of an official name). But I don’t have to like it, and neither should you. It dilutes and degrades the sense of place that the hotel built over the decades — even after its major renovation in the mid-Aughts — to paint it as just another link in a chain. Good for business, bad for the soul.

I feel this loss even more painfully after re-reading A.C. Greene’s November 1977 story about the prevalence of recently separated and divorced men living at the Stoneleigh. It’s one of the 40 greatest stories ever published in D Magazine.

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A Less Than Complete Recap of Last Night’s ‘Best of Big D’ Party That Includes an Appearance by Pat Green

A good time was had by all, I believe, at last night’s Best of Big D party at the Rustic. DJ Sober and Sam Lao were great. The drinks flowed freely. Much food went into many mouths. And so on and so forth. But I will tell you this: before the front moved through, it was a little steamy. The meteorological conditions occasioned my favorite moment of the night:

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Go See Rod Davis This Thursday at Louie’s

Rod Davis, for those who don’t know, has done two tours of duty at D Magazine. His last cover story for us, about the drought draining North Texas lakes, came in 2006. Now he’s the director of the Veterans Support Office for the Texas A&M University System. And he’s a novelist. On Thursday, he’ll be signing copies of his new book, South, America (yes, there’s a comma in the title), at Louie’s. Here’s Gary Jacobson’s review in the News. Signing starts at 6, but if I know Rod, he’ll be there earlier.

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Where I Am Currently Considering Having Cocktails on Friday

My wife is out of town. She left me in charge of our kids for five days. I think I speak for fathers everywhere when I say that as soon as my lovely bride returns to town, I am going to cash in my accumulated brownie points and go on an epic, NSFW rumshpringa the likes of which North Texas has not seen since the days when the Cowboys were running the White House. You heard me. So I’m casting about for something to do on Friday. And, lo, comes the included digital flier inviting me to eat and greet and drink with Courtney Kerr and Tori Gonzalez at a joint in Plano called Blue Martini, where patrons are encouraged to “dress to impress and show off your ego!” This is so me. Who’s in?

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Starck Club’s Prince of Ecstasy

I couldn’t help thinking back to an ancient regret of my own when reading the story of Rodney Kitchens, a man who literally brought Ecstasy to the legendary Starck Club at its mid-’80s hedonistic heights. The article, which first appeared in the October 1989 issue of D Magazine, is the first of the 40 greatest stories in our print product’s history that we’ll be highlighting over the coming months. Read the whole thing here. Our excuse for revisiting the past is the 40th anniversary of the first issue of D, an event we’ll officially celebrate this fall.

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Our 9 Favorite Super Bowl XLVIII Watch Parties in Dallas

Maybe you care about the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks; maybe you don’t. What you might care about is that it’s the last football Sunday for a while. After this week, you’ll have to find another excuse to avoid doing things around the house on the weekend. Until then, you’ve got one more day to enjoy, and it’s a big one. Make the best of it with one of these watch parties.

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