Driving west on Northwest Highway this morning and being “blinded” by the sun glinting off the Richards Group office building near Central Expressway, it was hard not to believe this singling out of Museum Tower for its “death-ray reflection” is becoming a tad bit unfair. First, a very simple, seemingly logical solution to the Nasher center’s light problem is proposed—to be paid for by the tower in full. But it’s quickly dismissed by the sculpture center as a “publicity stunt” that’s no good because the glare problem affects the entire Arts District. (It does? Klyde Warren Park told Tim last year that the jury’s still out on that.)
Then, in seeming record time yesterday, an extensive interview with the center’s landscape architect appears in The News, blasting the proposed solution as “insulting” and “absurd” and “unthinkable,” in part because it failed to address the Nasher garden problem. If you look a little closer, though, you find the tower itself retained a respected horticultural expert to study any potential damage there. This very reasonable-sounding expert explains in this video—posted on a web site put up by the tower owner—why his conclusion is that there is no damage to the garden from the Museum Tower death ray.
Sure, this gardener guy may be a shameless shill who’s sold his soul for dollars. The condo building may yet be the death of the sculpture center as well as the entire Dallas Arts District. And, this whole mess may not have been caused by lapses and inadvertent error on all sides—the Nasher and the city of Dallas included—but by greedy commercial interests motivated strictly by the lust for money. That, or there’s a wonderfully slick PR campaign being spun by the culturati with the help of the media, and quite a few seem happy to buy it.
DISD Superintendent Mike Miles was the keynote speaker this morning at the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce’s annual Education Forum. After detailing the progress of the 10 goals he set for the district when he took over nearly a year ago, Miles discussed a new initiative: With teachers’ help, he wants to create an evaluation system that ties educators’ compensation to their students’ achievement. He said 450 teachers are supposed to gather at Adamson High School on Monday to help craft such a system.
But Miles said he won’t bring such a system to the Board of Trustees if an underway survey doesn’t show that the community supports the idea of basing teachers’ paychecks on kids’ grades and test scores. “I’ve been through this before,” Miles said. “If the community doesn’t want it, it won’t work.”
The portion of the community that had just finished breakfast at the Doubletree on Central seemed to want it. The man sitting to my left, Bob Trice, punctuated a couple of Miles’ statements on the topic with “amen.” So I asked Trice if such a system had proven successful in his field.
“I work in insurance,” he said with a laugh. “What do you think?” Trice then went on to compare himself to a theoretical colleague: “If he brings in $100,000 worth of business to our company, and I bring in $1 million, which one of us should get paid more? I mean, duh.” Indeed.
Do you know it’s Flag Day? It is, and a very important holiday. We’ve got the half-day here to prove it, so I’ll be frolicking somewhere with the infamous Pam, who is here from Staten for the weekend. Where and what shall we do?
This afternoon, for us lucky ducks with the day free, there’s the Nasher’s Day at the Trinity event, in which they will unveil even more details about the Nasher XChange citywide public art project. The official start date for the exhibition isn’t actually until October 19, and the exhibit will run through February 16, 2014. However, the Nasher will make an announcement of cool things to come and liberate a bunch of pigeons to commemorate the occasion. From there, enjoy guided bird hikes, food trucks, crafts, and an art project. Also, kids can get their photo taken with a real, live owl.
Keep in mind, too, that the Festival of Independent Theatres is heading into its second-to-last weekend. You can catch productions by Wingspan Theatre and Audacity Theatre Lab out at the Bath House Cultural Center this evening.
Over at the Latino Cultural Center, it really is your last weekend to see Dreamers: A Bloodline. It’s part of a series about three female immigrants who traveled from El Salvador to the United States in order to carve out a better life for their children. It was pieced together from both conversations with immigrants who currently reside in North Texas and research of the stories of contemporary immigration from Central American by way of Mexico.
As entertaining as I find Gordon Keith in the morning on The Ticket, I think his true talent is writing. His recent string of columns for the Morning News has been exceptional, and here is the latest example. It may have gotten a little dusty at my desk when I read it just now, and only partly because my kid has been out of town all week and I’m ready for him to be back. It also reminded me how alike Michael Irvin and I are.
MacRumors says that Apple is working with Flextronics to create its revamped design of the Mac Pro desktop computer in the Alliance development in the north of Fort Worth. It’s especially significant because it fulfills Apple CEO Tim Cook’s earlier declaration that the company would bring some Mac production back to the U.S. from overseas.
The new Mac Pro is supposed to hit the market later this year.
The market approves of Gannett’s bid to buy Belo. Yesterday, Gannett shares packed on 34 percent. But if you don’t own Gannett or Belo, you’re wondering what this deal means to you. Aren’t you? Yes, you are. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s good news for Dallas.
Robert Decherd has made himself a little more liquid (or he will when the sale is approved). A.H. Belo will shore up its position when it sells the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California, and the Providence Journal (either together or in separate deals). Why all the selling? Because money is fun to have. And because it will allow Decherd to take the Morning News private. As one close observer of the company put it to me: “It’s time for him to tend to his rose garden.” Freed from the tyranny of shareholders, the paper will be better positioned to serve Dallas and figure out the future of journalism.
Is this wild-ass speculation? Yes, it is. But it’s wild-ass speculation from the guy who, over the last several years, has done the best, most consistent coverage of the media in Dallas. So it’s, like, grade-A, primo wild-ass speculation.
(As a bonus, if you read the history of the company that was published in the paper today and found it dull, then maybe you’ll have more fun reading this lengthy profile of Decherd published by Texas Monthly in 1985.)
Arts District Agrees to Levy Tax for Klyde Warren Park. Back in March, a petition was circulated calling for the creation of a public improvement district to collect a tax from neighboring property owners that would fund upkeep of the downtown green space. Arts District leaders didn’t care for the idea, since they felt the museums and theaters in the neighborhood had just as much right to benefit from such an influx of cash. Well, a deal has been struck between the park and the rest of the district to use 10 percent of the expected $600,000 in annual revenue for their joint benefit. The City Council still has to approve the PID.
Dallas Arts District Annexed by the Park Cities. Certain bathrobe-wearing, shotgun-toting local reporters have remarked that this corner of downtown is nothing more than an upscale playground for the residents of Highland Park. Seeing that today’s Morning News article on Klyde Warren has been classified as Park Cities news, this area has apparently gone from being a mere sphere of influence to full-on occupied territory.
North Texas Can’t Take Oklahoma’s Water. The Supreme Court says so. Our region’s population is supposed to double within the next 50 years. We’ll need to speed up plans to build new reservoirs, or we’re going to have a whole lot of thirsty people.
Arlington Fires Cop at Center of Steroid Ring. The police department intends to expand its drug testing program after an investigation into the sale and use of HGH and steroids by officers led to the dismissal of one and the suicide of another.
8th-Grader Offered College Football Scholarship. Lindell Stone is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, and just finished Dawson Middle School. Stone said he’s grateful for the offer from UCLA, but he’s more focused on giving us all another reason to hate Southlake by playing for Carroll High School this fall.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings doesn’t seem impressed by that solution proposed today to settle the spat between Museum Tower and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Buttonholed at an event in South Dallas, the mayor said he was already familiar with the condo tower’s proposed “oculi” fix. “It was something I had seen before,” said Rawlings, who helped previously to seek a mediated solution to the flap, to no avail. “It will be a good solution when the Nasher says it will work. Obviously I want a two-way dialogue on this, a 100 percent solution.” That solution will be one that satisfies the Nasher, he added—and helps “sell out” the units at Museum Tower, too.
(*ADORABLE CHILDREN ALERT*) First, the girls were visited by (some grown adults dressed up as) Papa Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, and Smurfette who are promoting the upcoming release of their new movie, Smurfs 2. (Fun Fact: That comatose-looking kid in Lisa’s lap is my cousin.)
Then, (some more grown adults dressed up as) Wiley the Wolf and Rachel Raccoon stopped by to talk about the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine.
However, no explanation as to why Courtney is dressed as a giant Native American baby in that Navajo-print onesie.
Why to watch tomorrow:
The Frisco RoughRiders put on a (potentially hilarious) pitching clinic for the hosts, preparing them to take the mound at Saturday night’s game. If you don’t have tickets to see the girls throw out the first pitch, you can get them here.
D-TV is available on all local cable providers.
AT&T 47 | DirecTV 47 | Dish 47 | Charter 22 / 746 (HD) | Time Warner 24 / 429 (HD) | Verizon 18 / 518 (HD)
There’s been a rush to the exits of top talent at WFAA-TV (Channel 8) in recent years, and WFAA stalwarts like Gloria Campos, John McCaa, and Dale Hansen have seen their paychecks slashed, TV critic Ed Bark reports. Even so, today’s announced sale of the station and others in the Belo Corp. stable to Gannett Co. Inc. marks the “impending end” of an era in local TV news, Bark writes. And, while the sale did not include the newspaper entity called A.H. Belo, whose “crown jewel” is The Dallas Morning News, he adds, “some expect the other shoe could drop.”
First, a side note. I’ve never been bitten by a snake, but the idea terrifies me. So much so that, last weekend, when I was invited to a party at Grapevine Lake celebrating a friend’s graduation from the Air Force Academy, as almost everyone wore bathing suits and flip-flops, I walked around in jeans and boots. It was warm and uncomfortable. But at this particular house, there have been at least two copperhead bites in the last five years — both resulted in multiple-night hospital stays — and I didn’t want to take any chances.
There’s good news and there’s bad news. First, the bad news: there seem to be more snake bites in North Texas this year than in the recent past, according to this Star-Telegram story. They almost all happen at dusk, in tall grass, when people aren’t wearing foot protection, most often around water. Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth has already seen 10 snakebite “victims” (not sure that’s the right word, but it’s the word people use for such things) since April 20, a considerable uptick over years past.
The good news, at least for most of us: though bites are up in Tarrant and Johnson counties, they actually appear to be down in Dallas. There’s only been one case at Parkland so far this year.
Still, watch where you put your feet.
Museum Tower issued a press release this morning to announce that after having a “team of experts” examine 20 possible fixes to the reflection problem that’s causing the Nasher Sculpture Center to overheat, they’ve found that the only solution is to reconfigure the sunscreen system of the museum’s glass roof. It will provide “100 percent remediation of reflected light into the galleries.”
Museum Tower says it will pay for the testing, installation, and fabrication of new “oculi” to reorient the light.
“We know the newly designed oculi work. This solution has been peer reviewed by the best experts in the country,” said Dr. Cyrus D. Cantrell, Ph.D., P.E. ”It only requires a slight adjustment to the oculi system of about 45 degrees to completely eliminate unwanted light and any view of the surrounding buildings. This is a beautifully engineered solution.”
So that’s what they’re offering for the effect in the galleries. But what about the outdoors portion of the Nasher? Well, they’re still claiming there’s no problem for the garden at all.
The impact of reflected light on the Nasher’s garden has been carefully observed for over one year and according to Scott Ogden, a nationally known horticulturist and garden designer, “Reflections from Museum Tower have no demonstrable effect on the vegetation in the Nasher garden, there is no damage from sunlight reflected by the Tower, that the garden is doing well and will continue to do so.”
You can read more about their proposal on a website they’ve set up: oculisolution.com
UPDATE, 1 p.m.: The Nasher has released the following statement about the proposal:
The glare from Museum Tower is a problem for the entire Arts District, not just the Nasher Sculpture Center. Recycling the same grossly inadequate and deeply flawed idea in another publicity stunt is not a way to address the problems Museum Tower is causing for the people of Dallas. The bottom line is that the owners of Museum Tower need to fix their building.
I’m late coming to this report about a gun range in Denton County that allows people to fire at targets from out of a helicopter. A Denton County commissioner is urging nearby residents to file complaints or lawsuits.
My first response to hearing about Helicoptersniper.com was “yeah, seems like a horribly dangerous activity, a glorification of violence and warfare that does damage to one’s psyche, and only of interest to a neanderthal man desperate for a bit of machismo to bring some sense of meaning to a modern world in which he too often feels impotent.”
But then I watched their promotional video (see above) and found that my reptilian brain couldn’t help itself. Kind of looks awesome.
I had a dream last night that I was writing this post, and the thing I wanted to tell you about—a nonexistent Barefoot at the Belmont concert with Father John Misty—was sold out. This is only kind of normal because those Barefoot concerts are, in fact, on Thursdays, and always sold out. Otherwise, it’s weird, and it already feels like I did this.
Good things happening this evening. The first is Rufus Wainwright’s concert at Bass Hall. I sincerely love this man and his music, which I know I’ve mentioned on this blog before, so I won’t go too nuts. He was here last October for a concert at the Meyerson, because that voice just sounds best in beautiful concert halls. He started the show with “April Fools,” and it was just the happiest I’d been in ages. I think I cried twice. Anyway, if you like him even just a little, you can’t go wrong seeing him live. He might even have his musical sister, Martha, with him. Now, listen to “One Man Guy,” a cover of a song his father, folk singer Louden Wainwright III, wrote.
A bit closer to home, we have the Danny Church Band at The Dram tonight, part of their summer live music series. Yes, The Dram made a little bit of an oopsie with their booking a couple of weeks ago. However, Danny Church Band is the cocktail lounge’s resident act and they’ll be joined by very special, super secret (well, not that secret, since I’m about to tell you) guest—The World Famous Tony Williams, a Grammy-winning artist who also happens to work mostly with his cousin, the veritably unknown Kanye West. There’s no cover, and it all starts around 10 p.m.
For more to do tonight, go here.
The Morning News reports that Dallas County school districts account for almost half the total number of truancy cases in Texas that resulted in fines during the 2011-12 school year. On Wednesday, three advocacy groups filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department, claiming that the truancy courts and the Dallas, Garland, Richardson, and Mesquite school districts are violating students’ rights with their policies.
The article begins with anecdote from a former North Dallas High School teacher who once witness a dozen students chained together and marched out of the school to face charges at the court. A parent also complains that the truancy policies in Dallas County don’t take into account individual circumstances:
At the time, all three of her children attended Spring Valley Elementary in the Richardson school district. They were 10 or 15 minutes late on about 20 days because her two youngest children are on the autism spectrum and struggled with emotional and behavioral issues in the mornings.
After a certain number of tardy days, she said, the school began recording them as unexcused absences. Schoneberg explained the situation to a school secretary, who said she could not help her — other than to pray with her.
“I ended up becoming a criminal in the state of Texas,” Schoneberg said.
At court, she felt pressured by a constable and a Dallas County prosecutor not to fight the charges and pleaded no contest. She was fined $600.
The school and county officials mostly just say that they are enforcing the state’s laws. If Ferris Bueller lived here, you can bet he’d end up dragged into court.