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Reaction to Art Ball Video is Over-the-Top and Ridiculous

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.

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The One Thing Missing From Jordan Spieth’s Masters Win

Once upon a time, the Dallas Morning News had one of the best sports sections in the entire country. For a refresher, read this story by Eric Celeste that we published in 1993. As one measure, not too terribly long ago, the paper sent golf writer Bill Nichols to every major (full disclosure: he’s the brother of our own Nancy Nichols). In today’s paper, Bill has a front-page story about Jordan Spieth’s big win. He wrote it by watching television. In the SportsDay section itself, Keven Sherrington has a column about Spieth. He wasn’t in Augusta either. A Virginia-based stringer was there for the paper. Anyone familiar with the work of Leonard Shapiro?

I get it. Newspapering isn’t what it used to be. Tough times and all. But it’s sad that a hometown kid could be poised to make history on golf’s biggest stage and the DMN couldn’t send someone to watch it happen in person.

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Leading Off (4/13/2015)

Jordan Spieth Wins Masters. The 21-year-old Dallas native finished ahead of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy to nab the green jacket.

Thousands of People Watched Katie The Giraffe Give Birth. It’s a girl. And already six feet tall. Here are some photos of the as-yet-unnamed baby giraffe.

Gas Well Leak Prompts Evacuations in Arlington. Residents were displaced Saturday night while Halliburton-owned Boots & Co. attempted to seal the leak, which had something to do with the “flow back of pressurized fracking water” well into Sunday afternoon.

Major Crash On I-30 Kills Five Early Sunday Morning. It started as a minor accident in Fort Worth. Then an 18-wheeler carrying the Sunday edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrecked and caught fire. Nine cars and 17 people were involved. Be careful out there.

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Rangers Co-Owner Ray Davis Sits for His First Interview Ever

Funny thing. Earlier this week, Mike was throwing around some story ideas for the magazine, each one involving a prohibitively hard-to-land interview. I said something like, “Next, you’re going to suggest a Ray Davis profile,” the joke being that Ray Davis has never sat for an interview. In fact, when he bought the Rangers, I wrote Davis a letter laying out my best argument for why he should be profiled in D Magazine. No response.

So congrats to the DMN’s Brad Townsend, who landed the big one. Here’s the first interview Davis has ever done. Nothing terribly earth-shattering there. I doubt Longform is going to tweet it out. But it’s worth a read.

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‘The Last of a Breed': Grantland on Dale Hansen

Following the increasing nationwide, even worldwide, fame that WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen has enjoyed for his “Unplugged” commentaries on Michael Sam and Greg Hardy, Grantland’s Bryan Curtis followed him around one recent evening as he drifted between bar and newscast and back again:

At 9:43 p.m., Hansen walked from the bar back to the Channel 8 studio to do the sportscast. “Let’s see how primed he is,” said Delkus, the weatherman. Hansen was no worse for the wear. He’d met a group of car dealers from San Antonio at the bar. He performed an old trick — telling them to watch the TV because he’d be on it in a few minutes. The men were stunned.

His performance — three and a half minutes, again to the second — was vintage Hansen. He blasted Alabama’s Nick Saban for giving an accused domestic abuser another chance and then releasing the player after a second incident, even though the accusation had been recanted. “The hypocrisy about second chances and the argument we all make mistakes ” he said.

The Channel 8 chyron said it was 10:28 p.m. The two anchors were still at the desk, awaiting the final segment, when Hansen unhooked his microphone, strode back out the studio doors, and returned to the bar.

“He’s the last of a breed,” said Bark, the former Morning News TV critic. “Once he goes, there won’t be anybody that will have the freedom to do what he does.” The way the digital frontier has absorbed Hansen’s voice feels oddly profound: a local sportscaster being celebrated via a medium he barely understands but whose passions and rhythms he knows better than just about anyone. Boom!

When Hansen got to the bar, he spread his arms wide and asked the car salesmen, “How’d I do, boys?”

Hansen’s new fans rose to their feet and began to cheer.

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Leading Off (4/10/15)

Jordan Spieth Blows 15th Hole at the Masters. He went with the hybrid instead of the 4-iron. Seriously? Sure, he finished 8-under par, one stroke shy of a tournament record, with a three-stroke lead after the first round at Augusta National, but the 21-year-old golfer from Dallas clearly still has a few things to learn. I mean, c’mon, dude’s lost two of his last three tournaments. How good can he be?

Rawlings Has Far More Money Than Ronquillo. Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of 2015 show that Mayor Mike Rawlings has raised $546,227 for his re-election effort while challenger Marcos Ronquillo has collected $101,957. All that cash to win a job that pays $80,000 a year.

Prosecutors Probing Jerry Jones’ World Trade Center Deal. The Dallas Cowboys owner’s company, Legends Hospitality, won the contract to operate the observation deck of One World Trade Center in 2013. That building is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is partly controlled by New Jersey Gov. (and Cowboys fan) Chris Christie. The Manhattan district attorney is investigating whether Jones’ and Christie’s friendship influenced the procurement process. As if we needed another reason to feel dirty when we see this.

Collin County DA Asks Texas Rangers to Investigate AG. Watch out, Ken Paxton. Walker may be coming for you.

Ellis County Fire Chiefs Arrested in Sex Assault Case. The two men were allegedly aware of the incident earlier this year that involved a volunteer firefighter violated by chorizo and a broom stick, and they worked to keep the matter quiet. They were suspended from duty on Thursday and face felony charges of tampering with a witness.

McKinney Teen Wasn’t Bullied. Fourteen-year-old Raymond Howell killed himself last week. Dozens of people rallied outside Boyd High School on Thursday to protest bullying, which some of the boy’s family members said contributed to his suicide. But police report they’ve found no evidence that Raymond was being harassed.

High Heels, Dog Urine Harming Downtown Parks. “It’s one of those only-in-Dallas things, I guess,” says Tara Green, president of Klyde Warren Park.

Opening Day at the Globe in Arlington. First pitch for Rangers vs. Astros is at 3:05 p.m. You’ll have to bring your own Blue Bell.

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CultureMap Acquired by ViewMarket

Update (2:23) I called and emailed Alex Muse, one of the ViewMarket guys. He says, via email, that the $15 million figure didn’t come from him, that it’s his understanding the reporter got it from CultureMap’s lawyer. “I think we’ve got 30 full-time employees,” he says. “ViewMarket purchased the company using its stock, and part of the deal included ViewMarket putting money on the combined balance sheet, hence the mezzanine debt from MCP. The combined company is EBITDA positive — i.e. profitable — the mezz provides working capital.”

Original item: Last night the Dallas Business Journal posted the news that Dallas-based ViewMarket (formerly called Haul) had acquired Houston-based CultureMap, which has outposts in Houston, Austin, and here in Dallas. The story was headlined: “ViewMarket Buys CultureMap in Deal Valued at $15M.” Who says it’s a $15 million deal? And using what metrics? The story doesn’t offer that information. The $15 million figure is only used in the headline. The story does report that the ViewMarket people say CultureMap currently generates $4 million in revenue and that it had $1.4 million of debt when they acquired it. All this information was contained, by the way, in a ViewMarket press release that was crafted as an FAQ (see below for full text).

I’m skeptical. I was a liberal arts major, though. So what the heck do I know? But I look at $1.4 million of debt with $4 million in revenue, and then I count on CultureMap’s payroll at least 25 employees. Then I see that ViewMarket describes itself like this: “You can think of ViewMarket as a combination of VOX Media (raised $107M) and Maker Studios (acquired by Disney for $900M).” And my reaction is kind of like this:

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Glenn Beck Now Sells Women’s Clothing

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:

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Leading Off (4/9/15)

Woman Shot In Head Manages to Drive To Convenience Store For Help. After a bullet struck her temple during what is believed to be a robbery attempt at an apartment complex on Park Lane, the woman drove to a 7-Eleven a block away. She is expected to recover.

Mavericks Beat Suns, Clinch Seventh Seed In Western Conference. Technically, the Mavs secured the seventh seed before they knocked off the Suns, when Memphis crushed New Orleans. But it was nice to see them get a win against a decent team. It was even better to see Dirk come back from an ugly airball in the final minute to hit this dagger. I SEE YOU, BIG GERMAN™.

Bob Schieffer Announces His Retirement. The longtime CBS anchor and reporter told the crowd at the 11th annual Schieffer Symposium he will retire effective this summer. Then he will take a few months to figure out what to do. Then he will start painting again and going to see movies every week with a group of senior citizens who get mad at him because he refuses to order the senior special at the Whataburger where they meet beforehand. Sorry. That is my dad I’m thinking of.

Mayor Rawlings Hopes People Don’t Read the Paper. That’s all I can assume when he says this: “Traffic congestion is the No. 2 issue facing the city. Anybody that has been driving on our roads lately can tell you this and I’m a believer that we must figure out how to alleviate that issue.” Because this just happened. Also, apart from getting the expected opposition quote from Philip Kingston, that Channel 8 report is basically written and produced by Michael Morris.

Hunt County Sheriff Guesses Why One of His Deputies Punched a Pregnant Woman Twice During An Arrest. Sheriff Randy Meeks admitted he hasn’t spoken to the deputy, but just for the hell of it trotted out a narrative anyway saying that the woman reached for the deputy’s gun, even though, again, he has no idea if that actually happened, and the video of the incident doesn’t show that, but hey, why not?

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Leading Off (4/8/15)

Ellis County Firefighters Charged With Sexual Assault Involving Chorizo. Five were charged with what looks like a hazing-related assault, and one was charged with videotaping it. There are more details in this story, and all of them are unpleasant.

Second Death in a Week at Argyle High School Construction Site. The first one was Thursday, when some heavy metal framework collapsed, killing a 36-year-old construction worker. Yesterday, it seems a 21-year-old man fell off of a trailer. Work on the new athletic facility was halted.

Dallas Police Front Desk Officers Make A Lot in Overtime. Chief Brown says it’s part of a budgetary balancing act. The 11 officers assigned to work security at police headquarters made a combined $330,000 in overtime pay last year. In other Dallas public employee bonus news: 58 executives at Parkland will not get their fourth quarter bonuses for 2014. The scene looked like this.

Local Fake Navy SEAL Arrested in Puerto Rico. Carlos Luna-Gonzalez was arrested last November in Weatherford, then jumped bail and fled. He was picked up yesterday, far away. Mostly I included this story because Parker County sheriff Larry Fowler (a character Zac may have invented) knows how to give a good sound bite.

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Leading Off (4/7/15)

More Flights from Love Field. Tomorrow Southwest will add nine cities and more than a dozen departures to its Love schedule. New cities: Charleston, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Memphis, Tennessee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Portland, Oregon; Seattle/Tacoma; and Sacramento and San Jose, California. To everyone affected by the increased jet noise: sorry, guys.

Video Catches Oak Cliff Peacock Thief. Watch for yourself. Bonus: do you know the word for a group of peacocks? Because I wrote three jokes before I just decided to let you follow that link if you cared to learn the word.

Rangers Lose on Opening Day. Vegas says the Rangers will win 76 games this year. Last night was not one of those wins. They lost to Oakland 8-0 and were no-hit through seven innnings. Man, the season looks long from here.

Watch a Giraffe Get Born at Dallas Zoo. Katie the reticulated giraffe is going to have a calf any day now. If you don’t mind violating every HIPAA law on the books, you can watch a live cam trained on Katie.

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Glenn Greenwald in North Texas: NSA Surveillance Program is ‘Antithesis’ of Fourth Amendment

Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer and journalist who became a left-wing celebrity for his articles helping whistle-blower Edward Snowden expose the NSA’s mass-surveillance program, admits enjoying the reaction when critics discovered he would be in North Texas to appear on Glenn Beck’s right-wing radio show—and then to address the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis.

Talking Friday to about 250 people at a luncheon meeting of the NCPA, a Dallas think tank that’s headed now by tea party hero Allen West, Greenwald said of the kerfuffle that was particularly created by his Beck appearance: “I love it.” He recalled trading barbs with “people on Twitter who thought it was a terrible thing to do.” But, he added, “I’ve made it a point to find common ground. I find that’s a healthy thing to do.”

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Why the Morning News Should Regret the Al Petrasek Trinity Toll Road Column

As Tim has noted, having printed Al Petrasek’s absurd arguments for the Trinity toll road alone should be enough to embarrass Dallas’ daily. But online commenters to the column have pointed out an equally troubling matter. Namely, Petrasek is identified only as a “former president of the Trinity Commons Foundation” who’s now retired and lives in Arkansas.

What the newspaper didn’t tell its readers is that Petrasek is retired from having worked as a vice president at HDR Engineering, a firm that has been contracted by the North Texas Tollway Authority for design work on the Trinity project and which could reasonably expect to be involved further (and benefit financially) if the project comes to fruition. Here’s HDR touting its toll road services.

In the comments, Mike Drago of the Morning News responded to this oversight:

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In Dallas, Comedian Dana Carvey Recalls Barbara Bush Calling H. Ross Perot and Bill Clinton Clowns

Actor and stand-up comedian Dana Carvey took a few shots at Dallas and Dallasites while headlining a charity event at the Meyerson Symphony Center Thursday. Chief among the targets was businessman/former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot, whom Carvey often lampooned when he was a regular on TV’s Saturday Night Live.

Doing a dead-on impression of the dimunitive billionaire, Carvey said Perot showed real promise as a candidate with his, “We’re gonna study it … we’ll get some charts” schtick, before going off the deep end with nonsensical statements like this: “You can’t put a porcupine in a bar and light it on fire and expect it to make licorice!”

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Al Petrasek Steps Up To Help Kill the Trinity Toll Road

There’s an op-ed in the paper today that you really should read. Because it’s amazing. It was written by Al Petrasek, a former president of the Trinity Commons Foundation who is retired and now lives in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. This Petrasek is a wily fellow. He has found an ingenious way to undermine the Trinity toll road and its supporters. His article, on its face, endorses the road. It’s titled “Building the Trinity Parkway Is the Right Thing To Do.” But every argument he makes is so over-the-top, outer-limits-nutbar insane that it becomes clear, upon a closer reading, that Petrasek is executing Onion-style satire intended to highlight what a stupid idea the Trinity toll road is. He begins his article:

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