A Daily Conversation About Dallas

Arts & Entertainment

The Photographer Who Chronicled Downtown’s Protest Murals

| 5 hours ago

During the first weekend of protests after the killing of George Floyd, storefronts in downtown and Deep Ellum were boarded up with plywood following a violent Friday night that ended in millions of dollars worth of property damage.

In the ensuing days, Dallas artists arrived to decorate them, painting pictures ranging from George Floyd himself to images calling for equality. After a muralist friend mentioned the Black Lives Matter-related murals, Danny Hurley decided to photograph the collection. Much of his work had been canceled due to the pandemic. This subject gave him plenty of material to spend time with.

“I thought it would be about a dozen and it turned out to be more than a hundred,” he says.

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Sports & Leisure

Here’s Why the Stars Really Lost Last Night

| 7 hours ago

SMDH. So our mayor and the mayor of Tampa Bay have a bet going on the Stanley Cup Finals. Mayor Jane Castor is putting up cigars, Cuban bread, and craft beer. The story doesn’t say which beer, but it better be Cigar City’s Jai Alai. On our side, Mayor Eric Johnson is putting up, yes, craft beer, brisket, and candy apples. What?!

OK, first, the beer should be Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer. I think we can all agree on that. The brisket, though, is going to cause some debate. Pecan Lodge? Cattleack? Should we just smoke Daniel Vaughn so Mayor Castor gets a taste of the best Texas barbecue all combined into one meat?

That brings us to the apples. If Johnson loses, he plans to send the Tampa mayor some Sweet Connie’s candy apples from the State Fair. I have lived in Dallas almost as long as Johnson has been alive. I have never heard of Sweet Connie’s candy apples — certainly not in the context of being a local foodstuff that locals are proud of. Fletcher’s corn dogs, Mariano’s frozen margarita, La Popular’s tamales, Mia’s brisket enchiladas, Neiman Marcus’ popovers, Liquid Paper — those are all things I associate with Dallas. But candy apples? The mayor may as well have wagered some Borden’s milk. It’s the kind of bet that could jinx a team.

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Local News

Leading Off (9/22/20)

| 7 hours ago

Stars Lose. From the Tampa Bay Times: “The Lightning sent a message in the first period Monday night of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final. It was to themselves as much as to the Stars: They are a better team than the one that showed up to start Game 1. In Game 1, Tampa Bay let Dallas set the tone, failed to execute and lost. In Game 2, the Lightning scored three goals in the opening period — two on the power play — and went on to a 3-2 win at Edmonton to even the series at one game each.” BTW, Joe Pavelski tied Mike Modano for the second-most playoff goals by an American-born player. My analysis: In Game 3, the Stars absolutely need to play hockey. They can do this.

Pandemic Numbers. Dallas County reported 316 coronavirus cases yesterday; 177 of those came from the state’s reporting system. There were two deaths. Collin County reported 45 cases. It looks like we did a good job distancing and wearing masks over the Labor Day weekend, as we haven’t seen a bump in cases. Here’s a cool website for masks. I used it to make a Luka mask that I can’t wait to wear.

Old Exxon Mobil Building Lands Tenant. Remember the building on Stemmons from Logan’s Run? We wrote about it in the September issue. Now it’s part of a development called Pegasus Park, and it has its first tenant, Massachusetts-based BioLabs. The 37,000-square-foot life science coworking center with shared laboratory spaces will open next year.

Today Is National Voter Registration Day. Here’s a rundown of North Texas events aimed at getting folks registered. The Mavs are hosting a drive-through registration. If you aren’t registered, get to it.

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Today EarthXR Brings You a 360-Degree View of Africa on Your Phone

| 1 day ago

If you’re sitting at home pondering what it would be like to go on an African safari, EarthXR’s “Wild at Home” is right up your alley. Today EarthXR launches a 360-degree virtual interactive wildlife experience right from the ease of your smartphone or tablet. EarthX, a Dallas-based nonprofit environmental forum has partnered with Wild Immersion, endorsed by Jane Goodall, to create an at-home viewing experience of the African savannah, as well as Asia-Oceania and Amazon immersions. The goal of “Wild at Home” is simple: educate and entertain. EarthX strives to connect global communities and create a sustainable world for future generations. Each wildlife experience gives its audience an up-close look at some of the most diverse biomes across the world, giving you the power to move your screen and pinpoint different places within each environment. The African savannah comes to life with live footage of lions, giraffes, and zebras roaming about their surroundings. The Asia-Oceania brings its audience up close and personal with Sri Lankan wildlife as well as at look into Australia’s koala and seal populations. EarthXR’s final experience, the Amazon, immerses its viewers in the tropical rainforest, home to jaguars and sloths. Go here on your mobile device to check it out and get a tutorial on the VR experiences.

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The SWAT Crisis Negotiator Who Helped Blow Up a Bad Guy With a Robot

| 1 day ago

Over the weekend, I told you about a Zoom I’m doing tonight at 7 with Jamie Thompson to talk about her new book, Standoff, about the 2016 shootings in downtown Dallas. It’s sponsored by Houston’s Brazos Bookstore. You can register for the gig and buy the book here. What didn’t dawn on me until this morning was that Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals starts at the same time. I think our Zoom chat just got a whole lot shorter. It’s funny, though. I can promise you that Jamie has no idea that hockey is happening tonight. The lady does not watch sports.

So then. Whether you can join or us not, here’s something for you to read. We excerpted a chapter of her book in the September issue of D Magazine. We are putting the excerpt online today. Perfect for getting ready for the Zoom or for skipping the Zoom to watch hockey.

The chapter we chose is all about Larry Gordon, a SWAT negotiator who played an important role in the events on that July night. He talked to the shooter for hours, after SWAT had cornered him in a hallway at El Centro. Eventually a robot was rigged with explosives. You know how it ended. Gordon is a fascinating character. As Jamie writes, he’s too blue to be Black and too Black to be blue. Having spoken with him a bit myself, I can tell you he’s also a really nice dude. A screenplay based on Jamie’s book has already been written. With good reason, it centers on Gordon. So I’m sure Jamie and I will talk about him tonight. Maybe we’ll even talk some hockey. You’ll have to Zoom in to find out.

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Local News

Botham Jean’s Family and Amber Guyger Now Agree on One Thing

| 1 day ago

In the many heartfelt observations of the recent two-year anniversary of the death of Botham Jean, one aspect of the full saga went largely untold. Scant if any mention was made of the fact that Jean’s family and Amber Guyger, the Dallas police officer who killed him, are now on the same page about the proximate cause of his death.

A lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Jean family against the apartment building where he was killed quotes directly — with quote marks — from many parts of a criminal appeal filed last month by Guyger. The family’s new lawsuit concludes, “Botham’s death occurred as direct result of the faulty poorly maintained door and locking mechanism and the confusion with the layout of the Southside Flats, which Defendants knew or in the exercise of ordinary care should have known to exist.”

Waterton Residential LLC, the property management company, issued a statement soon after the suit was filed denying responsibility and saying the Jean family had made contradictory claims elsewhere.

The Jean family suit against Waterton follows the family’s unsuccessful civil rights suit against the city, tossed out by a federal judge in December 2019, in which the family blamed his killing on what the suit claimed was a “practice or custom” within the Dallas Police Department of “shoot first and ask questions later.” That culture, the suit said, was “a major problem since the early ’80s, when the DPD was the subject of a Federal Investigation, that continue[s] to exist today.”

The federal suit didn’t get to first base. A magistrate judge, later affirmed by a circuit judge, ruled that the family’s lawyer, Daryl Washington, had failed to “state a claim,” meaning Washington had not presented enough evidence for the suit even to be tried.

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Local News

Leading Off (09/21/2020)

| 1 day ago

Stars Up 1-0 In Stanley Cup Finals. I’m not going to pretend like I watched (you’re better off without me, Stars fans) so here are the key takeaways from their 4-1 series-opening win. Game 2 is tonight.

Cowboys Win. Somehow. I did watch this one and I don’t think I can tell you how many times I said out loud, “What are they doing?” Two botched fake punts, going for two early, running down the clock as they played for a long field goal to win it—I had a lot of questions. That doesn’t even count all the turnovers that got them down 20-0 in the first quarter. But thanks to one of the best onside kicks I’ve ever seen, they came back to beat the cursed Falcons.

COVID Update. Dallas County reported 771 more cases and one death. If my math is correct, since 572 came from the state’s reporting system, and most of those are older, the number of new cases is 199. Data on hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and ER visits won’t be available until Tuesday.

Mayor Hasn’t Talked to Council Members in Months. Outside of meetings, of course. Am I surprised? No. Am I disappointed? Yes. Do I think the mayor is going to brandish a sheaf of emails at the next meeting? Yes. Does it make me laugh that I have seen some people call him the “Milk Mayor” on social media? Absolutely.

Bryson DeChambeau Wins U.S. Open. Great name. DeChambeau, who played at SMU, shot a three-under 67 on a Winged Foot course where no one else could break par on his way to his first major title. (I didn’t see this, obviously.)

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Join Jamie Thompson and Tim Rogers Monday Night for a Conversation About Her New Book

| 3 days ago

This will be fun. Is “fun” the right word? One of our former contributing editors, Jamie Thompson, has a new book out. It’s called Standoff (Henry Holt & Co.), and it’s about the 2016 shooting in downtown Dallas. That part is pretty heavy stuff. But talking with Jamie about her book will be fun. You can catch us Monday night at 7 on Zoom. The deal is sponsored by Houston’s Brazos Bookstore. You can register for the event and buy Jamie’s book here.

Some things you should know: this book is really good. I’m not just saying that because I helped with a little editing. Jamie had access to body cam footage that the public hasn’t seen. She has reported this story for years and gotten pretty close to about a dozen SWAT cops who poured their guts out to her, describing what happened that night. So in terms of details and access, the book is amazing. But it goes beyond that. The book is partly a meditation on race and policing and politics. What happened here in Dallas four years ago turned out to be a good lens through which to look at what we’re experiencing today.

The other thing you should know is that Jamie is funny and smart and one of the coolest people I know. Hell if I know right now what questions I’m going to ask her, but I’m sure her answers will keep you entertained for the two hours of our scheduled conversation. I’m kidding, of course. It’s actually three hours.

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A Bandwagoner’s Guide to the Dallas Stars

| 4 days ago

I know it’s hard to remember anything before March, but close your eyes, breathe deeply, and picture yourself in the summer of 1999 (use your imagination, Gen Zers). It was an innocent time. George Lucas had only just begun ruining Star Wars, Y2K and White House BJs were all we had to worry about, and all of North Texas found itself in the throes of Stanley Cup fever, with no inclination whatsoever to flatten the curve.

In just the sixth year since they had fled Minnesota winters, the newfangled Dallas Stars were competing for the greatest trophy in sports. Back then, we were all hockey bandwagoners, falling in love for the first time with a lovable cast of characters. Hitch. Hully and Mo. Niewy, Zubie and Luddy. Jamie and Jere. Carbo, Derian, Keaner and Syd. Eddie the Eagle and the Little Ball of Hate.

We tore the roof off Reunion Arena when they toppled the mighty Avs to reach the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. And in the early morning hours of June 20, we lost our collective minds when Brett Hull tiptoed the edge of the crease and banged home a triple-overtime winner to clench the Cup (still a good goal, Sabres fans).

But when the quest to repeat ended with a heartbreaking Finals loss to the Devils, it set off a 20-year death spiral. The Stars made it out of the first round just five times and missed the playoffs entirely in nine miserable seasons, effectively emptying the bandwagon of all but the most die-hard fans. Not even seven coaching changes, new ownership, and a full-on “Victory Green” rebrand seemed to make a difference. Until this year.

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Local News

The Problem With Politics on NextDoor—and Inside City Hall

| 4 days ago

Updated 9/18 at 1:20 p.m. with additional emails. 

On Sunday, NextDoor users across the city logged in to find a message from Mayor Eric Johnson via what appeared to be the city’s official account. The post read that he did NOT (his caps) support cutting $7 million from the budget for police overtime. The post cited a 28 percent increase in aggravated assaults not related to family violence over the last 10 months. It noted that the murder rate was on track to match last year’s, the most homicides Dallas has seen in a dozen years. The NextDoor post did not include the total amount of what was budgeted for overtime.

“With the police department hundreds of officers smaller than it was a few years ago,” the mayor wrote, “the overtime budget supplements patrol officers and detectives working to keep people safe and to catch the offenders responsible.” It said to “let your council member know where you stand” and included a link to the contact information for all 14 of them.

Here are some topics of other recent posts from the city’s NextDoor account: a request to take the U.S. Census, locations for mosquito control spraying, COVID-19 testing locations, bulk trash pickups skipping a week. Nothing political. That made the mayor’s post stick out. It didn’t mention the other side of what he’s referencing. Why would it? It was a political ad — if not as defined by the Texas Ethics Commission then at least in its intent.

The mayor’s strategy of getting his message out wherever he can despite lacking support from his colleagues has drawn the ire of city staff. Last week, he even tweeted a link to a favorable story published by the Empower Texans-owned Texas Scorecard, which he claimed contained “actual facts” about the amendment. It was a bizarre move; Johnson, a Democrat, elevated a website owned by an organization that is funded with dark money and has for years used its resources to get Tea Party and other far-right conservatives elected to state office. His email newsletter has repeatedly advocated for his amendment, which some on city staff suspect violates state ethics rules. Johnson’s staff maintains all of the mayor’s messaging is above board.

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Livable Cities

We’re Now Closer To Quantifying Just How Bad Our Air Is

| 4 days ago

As I’m typing this on Wednesday afternoon, the air in the Joppa neighborhood of southern Dallas is about three times as polluted as what UT Dallas students are breathing up in Richardson. It was difficult, if not impossible, to compare those two things before this week. The SharedAirDFW Network now offers new insight into daily pollutants in a few North Texas neighborhoods with the goal of expanding its monitoring reach more than tenfold.

It took three years of grant applications, donations, and planning—and even more years of research—to pull off what one environmentalist described as a “garage sale-funded moon mission.” The air monitoring network uses a series of stationary sensors to determine the amount of particulate matter in the air, segmenting them by size of said pollutants. The network launched with eight sensors in southern Dallas, Mesquite, Richardson, and Fort Worth. It has plans for 100 more in the next two years and can expand even further with more funding.

Known as PM, particulate matter includes all manner of microscopic pollutants emitted by cars, plants, construction sites, unpaved roads, fires, and many other sources. Their size is important. When small enough—2.5 micrometers for instance, which is about 100 times smaller than a human hair—these particles can get into your bloodstream through the lungs. They have been linked to respiratory symptoms like asthma and neurological problems like Alzheimer’s. For neighborhoods like Joppa, which is next to a concrete batch plant and other polluters, knowing how much particulate matter is in the air could help adjust behavior. And public policy.

When people live and work in or near such poor air conditions, adverse effects are more likely. Think of the research into lead exposure via gasoline emissions and the associated complications: everything from hyperactivity to attention deficit disorder. The more you’re breathing this stuff in, the greater the chance of harm.

“If there are particles in the air, and especially those smaller ones, they can get into our bloodstream and into the brain,” says Dr. David Lary, an atmospheric scientist and a University of Texas Dallas physics professor who has led the project. “The particles are like a Trojan horse for getting into our brains. I don’t think any of us want that.”

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