Monday, April 30, 2007

Quote of the Day: Tom Waits

Thanks to Tom Waits Library for this:

"I heard "Nessun Dorma" in the kitchen at Coppolas with Raul Julia one night, and it changed my life, that particular Aria. I had never heard it. He asked me if I had ever heard it, and I said no, and he was like, as if I said I've never had spaghetti and meatballs -`Oh My God, O My God!' and he grabbed me and he brought me to the jukebox (there was a jukebox in the kitchen) and he put that on and he just kind of left me there. It was like giving a cigar to a 5 year old. I turned blue, and I cried." (Source: "Tom Waits artist choice, A poet's heart on Saturday night". October 1999)

Tom Waits and Old 97s Notes

  • Tom Waits plays on Conan O'Brien this Friday.

  • Old 97's return to Greune Hall on Saturday, May 12. Also, word is they are in the studio in Big D working on a new album.
  • Redesigning News

    Well the big Startlegram redesign came out, and in all fairness, I must say it looks nice. But that wasn't the only point now, was it?

    The goal was re-imagining the newspaper. The result: As George W would say, mission accomplished.

    The paper I read wasn't really transformed. For one thing, how do they respond to the needs of time-challenged readers who don't have time to read the paper -- they ADD MORE CONTENT! Really?! For all of the talk of radical transformation, the newspaper looked pretty much the same. With the exception of the reader's guide, I pretty much read the same old stuff I always read.

    What Did I Read?

  • A section: Apart from Jan Jarvis' story on the nurse who adopted the two abandoned girls -- there wasn't anything in the A-section worth reading. Does anyone still get national and international news in the newspaper anymore? I get all this online. TIME SPENT: 20 seconds.

  • Fort Worth: I read this section pretty thoroughly, but didn't get much out of it this Sunday. We had a little bit of Pastor sleaze, but not much else other than the obits. Oh, yeah, Bud Kennedy's mugshot has me concerned for his health. TIME SPENT: Three minutes, tops.

  • Business: Selling stories on home values to yuppies is like selling nihlism to teenagers -- it's like shooting fish in a barrel. You had me at "Price Per Square Foot." Nice graphic with the story. Why no flash version on the Web site or a database of home values. ANY kind of a tool. And Mitch Schnurman, let's just say Mitch owns this town, bitch! He's always money. TIME SPENT: 10 minutes

  • Sports: Sports kinda sucked. NFL draft coverage failed to meet expectations. Jennifer Floyd looks like she got a makeover for her mugshot and the haircolor looks kinda creepy. TIME SPENT: 120 seconds in and out.

  • A&E: Got my hopes up on the Denton Rock City story, but I thought it was kind of a fizzle. TIME SPENT:Five minutes.

  • Opinions: I read it. I retained nothing. Didn't seem there was anything important there. TIME SPENT:20 seconds.

  • Life: Really wanted to read the Oakhurst neighborhood story because I think this is a great little part of FW, but that story was like watching paint dry. TIME SPENT: 90 seconds.

  • Other sections: I always hit the Classified for estate sales and Sunday homes. I read the Circuit City and Best Buy inserts. And the inside cover of Parade Magazine. TIME SPENT: Five minutes.

  • So What?
    So, where does that leave us? Nothing really changed. Everyone in the newspaper industry knows that change is inevitable. This redesign was supposed to put the Startlegram ahead of the game. When I look at the Sunday paper, I just see more of the same. Is there no real willingness to change on the part of the editors and reporters who put out the paper? Or do they just not know how? I suspect a little of both. And the worst part is -- the Web site still sucks.

    Ideas, anyone?
    If you have any thoughts on how the paper should be fixed, drop a comment below. Here are my ideas. They aren't comprehensive, just a little scattershooting:

  • Local news first: This is the real value of the paper. It is what the paper does well. Make the most of it. National and International news? Keep it minimal.

  • Alternative storytelling This is a S-T term, not mine. They have been trying to find new ways to tell stories, but I didn't see any of it in the Sunday paper. A missed opportunity: The Oakhurst story. How do you tell stories about a neighborhood? What we got was feature writing 101. How about getting the people who live there to write about it, then put together a Rashomon like narrative with audio, video and photos? An epic poem? What about asking everyone in the neighborhood to tell their life story in 50 words or less. ANYTHING different. Take some chances. Don't be afraid to fail.

  • Make the paper smaller: Be respectful of readers time. You aren't just competing against other news sources, you are competing against the Mavericks game, YouTube, IM, 30 Rock, dinner, sleep ... just about everything. You are the filter. Make it more efficient to go through you than gathering news on your own.

  • Fix the damn Web site: The Web site and the paper work together. They needed to be redesigned together.

  • Be interactive: Encourage dialogue between your readers and reporters. Your reporters' time is better spent exchanging ideas with readers rather that running down a bullshit story no one is going to read.

  • MORE MEDIA GEEKERY: The circulation numbers are in and they do indeed suck: The Startlegram is down on weekdays 3.6% to 210,990, Sunday decreased 5.7% to 304,200. At the D(a)MN ... well, does the word Gotterdammerung mean anything to you? Lessee, they lost 14.2% of daily circ to 411,919. Sunday fell 13.3% to 563,079. The Houston Chronicle lost some daily and Sunday circ down 2% to 503,114 and 2.1% to 677,425, respectively.

    Catching Up On The Weekend

    Haven't been on top of my blogging game the last couple of days. Maybe it's just spring fever. It seems I've been one step behind this weekend.

  • I missed a chance for block walking with Bernie Scheffler on Sunday. I'm seriously bummed because I really believe that Bernie is the kind of candidate we need in Fort Worth: a young, energetic business person who is not an "establishment politician."

  • I also missed the PrairieFest because I was busy working with my daughter on her history project. I just thought my days of homework were over.

  • I missed a nice read from the Stash Dauber on his parents. But do you really miss anything on the Internet?
  • Friday, April 27, 2007

    Thought For The Day

    My friend at Pogo's Lonnie shared this with me yesterday. It seemed appropriate with all the hub-ub over the earthlike planet in the news. It's a William S. Burroughs quote:

    "After one look at this planet, any visitor from outer space would say 'I want to see the manager.' "

    True dat.

    Fort Worth Foots the Bill for Dallas Project

    A Dallas bureau chief for one of the Houston papers once said that he had the easiest job in the world: all he had to do was look for stories that made Dallas look bad. You could use that same rationale for any Startlegram story about Dallas.

    In today's S-T under the headline "We'll pay for Dallas project," we find out that electric ratepayers in Fort Worth and elsewhere will get stuck with part of the bill for a tourism and economic development project in Dallas because of a Texas Public Utility Commission agreed to take more than $12 million in construction costs for the burial of a new power line near downtown Dallas and pass those costs on to ratepayers statewide.

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    That Sinking Feeling

    Is anybody worried yet?

    The Audit Bureau of Circulations releases its spring numbers on Monday and industry sources told E&P that overall daily circulation for the six months ending March 2007 is expected to sink approximately 2.5% while Sunday will drop around 3.0%. Major metro papers are bearing the brunt of the responsibility for the declines. Lots of papers that are showing daily drops of 5% or more, according to circulation sources, include: The Dallas Morning News and The Austin American-Statesman. According to the rumor mill, you can add the Startlegram to that list, too. Gary Pruitt, CEO of McClatchy -- the S-T's parent company, explained during a Q1 earnings call on Tuesday that his company will continue to experience declines in circulation. (It was not too long ago that McClatchy could boast of constant circ gains). To give a taste of what is to come, during Q1, McClatchy executives said daily circulation fell 3.6% and Sunday dropped 3.9%.

    Pruitt attributed half of the McClatchy decrease to the culling of third-party circulation and the typical run rate, meaning the natural losses in circulation due to readers flocking to the Internet for news. Third-party circulation includes employee, hotel, and Newspapers in Education copies. He said that when ABC relaxed the third-party rule in the 1990s, McClatchy opposed the moved. While the company was more judicious using third-party circulation, Knight Ridder wasn't. "Many newspaper companies used [third-party] to grow circulation. McClatchy didn't rely on it to a great extent but Knight Ridder (the S-T's former parent company did," he said during the call. McClatchy is busy trimming third-party circulation from the 20 former Knight Ridder papers it acquired last year.

    So what does this mean for Cowtown's daily? Considering that they are moving heaven and earth to launch the radically re-designed newspaper on Sunday and you can always count on some people to hate change -- I think Monday, with release of circulation figures and all of the bitching that will inevitably come from readers, won't be all smiles in the newsroom.

    PSA: PrairieFest on Saturday

    Just a reminder: PrairieFest is this Saturday starting at 11 a.m. For those of you so inclined, you can get your bike on and get your Rahr on with these guys. Saturday's musical lineup is:

  • 11AM - Event Opens

  • 11:15 - MONDO Drummers (Drum ensemble)

  • Noon - The Ackermans (Cowboy/cowgirl music)

  • 1PM - Theater Fire (Eclectic acoustic)

  • 1:45 - Politicians (Lon Burnam, Kathleen Hicks, Mark Veasey, introduced by Louis McBee

  • 2:00 - Howard Garrett (Dirt Doctor)

  • 2:15PM - Trigger Fish (oldies rock)

  • 3:00 - Jim Sargent (Green builder)

  • 3:30PM - Darrin Kobetich (solo guitar)

  • 4:15 - Mimi/Rhett/Darrin (Dance/Poetry/Guitar)

  • 4:30PM - Electric Mt. Rotten Apple Gang (Bluegrass)

  • 5:15 - Jarid Manos - Keynote speaker (GPRC)

  • 5:30PM - Brave Combo

  • See y'all there.

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    The Wendell Baker Story

    Because I know you've been waiting for it, The Wendell Baker Story, which Luke Wilson wrote for he and big brother Andrew (aka Futureman) to direct, will have its Dallas premiere at 7:30 p.m., May 7 at the Inwood Theater. The film stars Luke, who plays a seller of fake IDs to migrant workers who winds up trying to save an old-folks' home run by Owen. Got it?

    FWIW, Russell Hobbs Update

    If'n you remember Russell "Theatre Gallery" Hobbs from the go-go 80s, there's a little update on him at Big D little d.

    David's Coming Back to FW

    If you missed him at Hecho en Tejas, David Garza is coming back in May. He's playing Bend Studio on Thursday, May 24 at 8 p.m. with special guest Deadman. Bend is in the Soul Fitness Yoga Space at 1901 Montgomery Street. It'll cost you $20. If you miss him then, he'll be at Bend in Dallas the next night. He's also at the Lakewood Theater on May 3.

    Final FredsFest Lineup

    The Stash Dauber has the final FredsFest lineup. Bottom line is reserve the 3-5 slot on Sunday afternoon, May 6, for serious rocking.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Not What I Expected

    So, the storms came early today and not wishing to get another car destroyed by hail, I sought refuge at the only place I know how: a bar. So here I am, sitting in Trinity Hall in Mockingbird Station, watching Man U battle AC Milan in the 83rd minute of the Champions League semi. This place is packed at 3:26 on a Tuesday afternoon. And it would be wrong not to share a Guinness with these good people. Go, Wayne Rooney, go!

    In an effort to keep this local though, here's a poem I found on Tammy Gomez's blog. It's about the Friday the 13th tornado. Cheers!

    UPDATE: HOLY SHIT! What a shot! Man U, 3-2 in the 90th minute.

    American Taliban

    Paige Patterson, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth has told male students there that in a situation like last week's Virginia Tech shootings, he would expect them to charge the assailant, sacrificing their lives if necessary.

    OK, that's a stupid thing to say. It's easy to be John Wayne when you are shooting the breeze. But when bullets start to whiz by your ear, most people let self preservation kick in and head the other direction. However, the most disturbing part of the article was this:

    Dr. Patterson also elaborated on why he thought Christian men should rush an assailant in a a similar situation.

    "My own perspective is that Christians – who believe that heaven is their real home and that they are prepared for eternity as result of a life changed by Christ – are even more obligated to act courageously and sacrificially.

    Now, substitute "Christian" for "Muslim" and that sounds a lot like something Osama bin Laden would say. You know, ordering young men to die because their religion commands it. Kind of creepy if you ask me. Reminds me of the old Dennis Miller (before he became Republican) routine where talks about the worst thing about being on a plane full of born-again Christians is being the only one who gives a shit if the plane crashes.

    David Halberstam, R.I.P.

    David Halberstam, a guy who knew what it meant to be a journalist, died yesterday from injuries sustained in a car accident south of San Francisco. He was 73.

    He made his reputation reporting from Vietnam in the early 60s. His reporting there won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1964.

    Sez the Times: "His reporting, along with that of several colleagues, left little doubt that a corrupt South Vietnamese government supported by the United States was no match for Communist guerrillas and their North Vietnamese allies. His dispatches infuriated American military commanders and policy makers in Washington, but they accurately reflected the realities on the ground."

    If you could find a point where scotch-drinking, red-meat eating, SUV driving Republicans really started hating the so-called Mainstream Media, this was it.

    But for Halberstam, this was just the beginning of a brilliant career. His book on the 1949 pennant race is maybe the best book on baseball I've ever read. “The Fifties” is another one of my favorites, a look at a decade that he argued was more monumental than many believed.

    “A writer should be like a playwright — putting people on stage, putting ideas on stage, making the reader become the audience,” he recently told an interviewer for NY1 News.

    In the end, he was still reporting. When he was killed yesterday, he was on his way to an interview with Y. A. Tittle, the former New York Giants quarterback, for a book about the 1958 championship game between the Giants and the Baltimore Colts, considered by many to be the greatest football game ever played.

    Godspeed, David. You will be missed.

    Stars Lose

    Stars lose. There really is only one way to respond to this. Ha-HA!

    Startlegram To Return Katie Awards

    This is really the only thing to do. These are meaningless awards anyway. Kudos to the hometown paper for doing the right thing. Is D Magazine next?

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Is Everything Meaningless?

    This post started as a comment on CultureFeast, but it really kind of hit on things I was thinking anyway.

    I've been suffering from one of my occassional bouts of existential dread (or existential anxiety. I guess the first thing I think about the question of meaninglessness is the episode of Six Feet Under where some asks Nate why people have to die. He answers, "So life will mean something." Sure, life may be meaningless and in 100 or 200 years time you and I and everyone we know will be completely unknown and forgotten. However, is responding to meaninglessness with meaninglessness a meaningless response?

    In his 1946 book Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl found that living life and searching for meaning IS its own meaning. "It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual."

    Frankl survived the Nazi death camps and found that people who had a rich inner life and believed in the future survived, and people who gave up hope perished. Having a child is the ultimate act of faith and belief in the future. But for that matter, so is getting haircut. If everything is pointless, why bother?

    A very wise person once told me that life is hard and accepting that life was hard actually made living it less difficult. Bad things happen, people die, dreams don't pan out. This is the way things go. So should we forget the whole deal? That's one response, but a pretty weak one. So what's a better one? Well, like the bumper sticker used to say: Keep On Truckin'.

    UPDATE: The conversation continues.

    Weekend Odds and Ends

    Catching up on a few things today. I'm tired because I stayed up late watching The Sopranos and Entourage and I'm not feeling that it was a better use of time than sleep.

  • You know you're in trouble when your company is a news story in The Onion. "Even RadioShack CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business."

  • I'm not sure how much people outside the media are interest in >all the navel-gazing over the Katie Awards scandal, but here are the Cliff's Notes: The Press Club of Dallas is investigating whether former president Elizabeth Albanese truly earned the four awards she won in a contest for which she helped arrange the judging. Documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News show that Albanese has a criminal record under the name Lisa Albanese centered on allegations of theft. Her successor as DPC president doubts the 2006 awards were judged at all. And angry Dallas journalists are throwing around the word "fraud" quite a bit.

  • Michael Davis at Dallas Progress amplifies his comments in Sunday's S-T S story on Dallas' Victory Park.

  • KZPS is going commercial-free and I expect them to continue to suck. UPDATE: Perhaps declarations of suckitude were premature. We'll see.
  • Friday, April 20, 2007

    Cotton Bowl Keeps Hangin' On

    Gil LeBreton discusses the Texas-OU game staying in the Cotton Bowl until 2015. Hey, I'm happy about this. I actually like the freaking Cotton Bowl. And if this game moves to campus sites or JerryWorld, it will not be the same.

    One thing that is the same: OU sucks.

    Cowtown: The Week That Was

    There are plenty of odds and ends around Cowtown that I've been meaning to catch up on from fellow bloggers in the Panther City:

  • Bernie over at Cowtown Chronicles got us up to speed on the doings at the Rahr Brewery and their new German-style IPA, “Stormcloud.” Also, Rahr's got its own blog that's pretty good, so check it out.

  • Over at Stash Dauber-land, Ken's got an update about WRECK ROOM STORIES: True Tales from the Home of Rock 'n' Roll in Fort Worth As Told By the People Who Were There, which will be for sale at the Woodeye/Daddy's Soul Donut show this Saturday (4.21.2007) at the Wreck. And, just for you Paul, there is a cool post on Japanese Rock that you need to check out.

  • At Fort Worthology, I think we need to give a nod to Kevin's general excellence keeping us posted on all the new development going on. I'm quite shocked by just how much new stuff is getting built. In five years' time, the downtown skyline is going to be radically different. Hell, the 7th Street corridor and the whole Fort Worth South area will be different.

  • General Rumor-mongering: I heard that the old Black Dog was going to be re-born at the old 7th Haven space on West 7th. ... Also, during the latest round of layoffs at Radio Shack, supposedly someone had a heart attack when they got their pink slip. (Ouch!) Don't forget to pay you're COBRA premiums.

  • FRED'S UPDATE: I went to Fred's Thursday night and did not have a positive dining experience. I ordered my all-time favorite Fred's meal, the Chipotle-butter ribeye, and to make a long story short, I left an hour later with an empty stomach, a refund and a surly attitude. So I sent an e-mail to Terry Chandler and this is the response I got: "Friend Steve, Terry Chandler from Freds here. I am flabbergasted to say the least. Please do not let this affect your opinion about Freds Cafe. I know its hard to swallow but if you would come back I'll buy you a steak." THAT is customer service. All is forgiven. You had me at 'Friend.'
  • Thursday, April 19, 2007

    Hell Freezes Over, Part 2

    Governor Goodhair actually does something I approve of -- designate Steve Fromholz as poet laureate of Texas for 2007. Another great story from FWWeekly's Jeff Prince

    Alejandro Escovedo Update

    If you want to catch Alejandro Escovedo in the Lone Star State, Friday at UT's Cactus Cafe is the last chance you'll have for a while.

    BTW, check out this feature on Al. It's a good overview on the past four years battling health problems and his holistic approach to dealing with them. Also, Al's writing music for the soundtrack to Jonathan Demme’s forthcoming documentary on former President Jimmy Carter.

    Mamet Papers Headed to Austin

    Score another one for The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at UT-Austin. The HRC has acquired the papers of playwright, writer and film director David Mamet, author of more than 50 plays and 25 screenplays that have earned him a Pulitzer Prize, Oscar nominations and a Tony Award.

    Let me just say this: "Coffee is for closers."

    Have a cup of coffee, HRC. And maybe some steak knives.

    Privacy and Packing Heat

    In Texas, you need a license to drive a car or cut hair. And these are public record.

    You also need a license to carry a concealed handgun. But if the Lege gets its way, this won't be open to public scrutiny. I'm always one for more transparency, so I'm not favorably inclined toward this.

    Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, said Texans who go to the trouble of getting fingerprinted and licensed to carry a concealed handgun should enjoy complete privacy.

    “They’re law-abiding, they’re hard-working, they’ve gone to extraordinary steps to protect themselves and their family,” Rose said. “I believe they ought to have their privacy protected.”

    Rose’s legislation, House Bill 991, had strong backing from the gun lobby but was opposed by advocates of open government. It was approved in a matter of minutes on a vote of 135-7. It is up for a final vote today; its fate in the Senate is less certain.

    Only one legislator — Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth — rose to speak against it Wednesday. ...

    Joel White, immediate past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said more is at stake than an individual’s right to know about a neighbor or co-worker.

    “There is another broad purpose to keeping this information public, and that is to oversee law enforcement and determine whether they’re actually following the law,” White said. “There is no way to know if they’re passing out permits to convicted felons if you don’t have access. That is not hypothetical, because in the past DPS did hand out hundreds of permits to felons.”

    Thanks for at least trying to stop the juggernaut, Lon.

    A Few Words About Tragedy

    I really don't have anything to add about this week's shootings in Blacksburg other than offering my condolences to the grieving and prayers of peace and healing. However, I was touched by the words of the right reverend Tim Carson... and Verdi. Please take a moment to read.

    Jill Bryan Update

    Well, Jill Bryan didn't reach the finals at the Poor David's Pub songwriting contest, I'm sad to say. She really is a fantastic talent that I have been lucky enough to see hang in there on same stage with Texas songwriting greats like Steve Fromholz and Mark David Manders. Sorry you didn't win it, but keep trying. You'll get the judges to drink the Jill Bryan Kool-Aid.

    Anyway, you have another chance to check her out at Poor David's on Thursday, May 10, when she plays with her hubby, the mighty Doug. And I will try to make that one.

    Fair and Balanced

    Her are some radical word from Gian P. Gentile in the Army Times:

    From my foxhole-view as a tactical battalion commander in western Baghdad in 2006, the American press, although not perfect, has reported the reality of the Iraq war.

    Contrary to what most believe in the American military, as well as some conservative columnists and a few politicians, the American press does give a reasonably full, fair and balanced picture of what is happening in Iraq. ...

    It is my opinion that the American military’s ongoing condemnation of the American press’s reporting of the Iraq war has more to do with its own mistaken belief that the American media lost the Vietnam War and has less to do with the current reporting on Iraq. I also believe that because the American military fears so deeply the loss of support of the American people over Iraq as an outgrowth of Vietnam it tends, wrongly, to allay these fears by blaming the American press for not reporting enough of its successes in Iraq.

    I am probably in a minority for saying this, but the so-called "culture wars" make me weary. A bunch of people still fighting about the 60s isn't helpful or relevant today -- I just see ideologues using worn-out themes and storylines while trying to mobilize their "base" to go to the polls or open their wallets. All of this is tearing the country apart and it isn't helping us find constructive solutions to very real 21st Century problems.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Follow the Money: Fort Worth

    I have a confession: I love Paul Burka. In another life, I will be Paul Burka. But I am no Paul Burka. I am not worthy to rinse out his coffee cup. Sad, but true.

    However, Paul had a fun play-along-at-home game today called Follow The Money. Thanks to this handy link in the Left Coast Media Conspiracy (also known at the NYT) anyone with a CPU and an internet connection can dial up 2008 campaign contributions to presidential campaigns thru March 31 or this year. Heh. (Gawd I love the interweb.)

    Anywhoo, Burka and associates have been looking at where the money is flowing around the state:

  • Austin: 78703, 78746, and 78731

  • Austin: 78701

  • Houston: 77002, 77019, 77006, and 77027

  • San Antonio: 78208, 78212, 78209, 78257, 78258, and 78207

  • Dallas: 75220, 75229, 75225, 75230, 75209, 75219, 75244, 75093, 75254, and 75201. (Funniest line here: "Merrie Spaeth, $2,300 to Giuliani. Founder of Spaeth Communications; widow of Tex Lezar. If the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were the cast of Ocean's 11, she would be Angie Dickinson."

  • CEOs

  • But what about Cowtown? I just couldn't let this one go. So I did a little searching. What did I find?

    One thing jumps out: FORT WORTH LOVES THEM SOME RUDY. (And you wondered why Rudy was smiling up there.) In a town full of money from investments and oil, it's not much a shock that money would flow toward Republican candidates. But it is by far going toward Giuliani, with McCain in second and Mitt Romney third. Among the Democrats, trial lawyer money is flowing toward John Edwards. Hillary is a distant second among the left leaning fat wallets. What was surprising: No Bob Simpson from XTO Energy. No one named Bass. Anywhere. Now for a a look at the West Fort Worth zip codes:

    76109 (Tanglewood/Overton Park/Colonial)

  • Socialite Kim Baldi gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Preston M. Geren, Jr.*, Father of Pete, the acting secretary of the Army, gave $500 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • William Reimann, of Barbnet Investments (affiliated with the Bass Family), and his wife, Ruth, each gave $1,000 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Dr. Joseph Milne, an orthopedic surgeon, gave $1,000 to Mitt Romney.

  • William Jones of Richard Carbon and Energy gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Henry Stewart of Bass Enterprises gave $2,000 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Randall Lyle of South Platte Energy gave $1,000 to Hillary Clinton.

  • 76102 (Downtown)

  • David Bonderman, Founding Partner of Texas Pacific Group Capital (they're buying TXU and everything else), $2,300 John McCain.

  • Greg Blaies, Partner at Blaies and Hightower, $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • David Chappell of Chappell Hill LLP and his wife, Ann, each gave $2,300 to John Edwards.

  • Tom Chambers, Chairman of Chambers Interests, gave $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Investor Richard Davidovich gave $2,300 to Mitt Romney.

  • Socialite Karen Davis gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Ben Fortson, independent oil producer and trustee emeritus of Texas Christian University, $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani. Kay Fortson, president and chair of the board of directors of the Kimbell Art Foundation since 1975 and as a director since 1956, gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani. Lisa Burton, daughter of Ben and Kay Fortson, gave $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Mark Hart of Corriente Advisors LLC, and his wife Shannon each gave $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Dee Kelly of Kelly, Hart and Hallman, really loves to cover his bets (in true lawyer fashion). He gave $2,300 to John McCain, $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani and $2,300 to Mitt Romney. Yeesh! Pick one already!

  • The Moncriefs: Richard Moncrief gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani and $2,300 to John McCain. Marsland Moncrief gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani and $2,300 to John McCain. Charles and Kit Moncrief gave $2,100 to John McCain. W.A. Moncrief gave $2,100 to John McCain.

  • Katherine Wynne of Wynne Petroleum gave $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Richard Rainwater, investor/fund manager/billionaire, $2,100 to John McCain. Darla Moore (aka Mrs. Richard Rainwater), gave $2,100 to John McCain.

  • Geoffory Raynor, lead partner of the unfortunately named investment group Renegade Swish LLC, gave $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Robert Schumacher, President of Texland Petroleum, L.P., gave $2,000 to John McCain.

  • 76107 (Arlington Heights/Westover Hills)

  • The Corbetts: Brad Corbett of S&B Technical Product gave $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani. His wife, Jennifer, gave another $2,300. Gunhild Corbett gave another $2,300. Todd Corbett gave another $2,300.

  • Cliff and Georgina Condrey of Moncrief Oil each gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • James Dunaway of Dunaway Associates and his wife, Carol, each gave $2,300 to Mitt Romney.

  • Pediatric dentist Gene Kouri and his wife, Moselle, each gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Wade Nowlin of William Rigg Company gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Charles Shewmake, Associate General Counsel for BNSF Railway Company, gave $1,000 to Mitt Romney.

  • 76132 (Mira Vista)

  • Dave Gillespie, Q Investments, gave $2,300 to to Rudy Giuliani.

  • Darrell Keith of the Keith Law Firm gave $2,300 to John Edwards.

  • Donald Mason of Bass Enterprises LP gave $2,000 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • 76116 (Ridglea/Ridgmar/Westover Hills)

  • William Harvey of Harvey Properties gave $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani.

  • 76110 (Mistletoe Heights/Ryan Place)

  • Paul and Barbara Grunde of S&B Technical Products gave $2,300 each to Rudy Giuliani.

  • * CORRECTION, 6.22.07: I mistakenly reported that Army Secretary Pete Geren donated $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani's campaign. He did not. According to FEC records, his father donated $500 on March 27, 2007. I apologize for the errors. You can find my letter of apology to the Secretary here.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    4Sale: 1 Longhorn Championship Ring

    Albert Hardy put his 2005 National Championship Ring up for sale on eBay. Kinda sad, but he can do what he wants. You'd think he'd regret it someday, but maybe it just doesn't mean that much to him.

    Hell Freezes Over

    The D(a)MN calls for a death penalty moratorium! "In Texas, state lawmakers have introduced measures ranging from repeal of the death penalty to the imposition of a moratorium so lawmakers can appoint a study commission. We think repeal is morally right; a moratorium is a positive step in that direction. Short of a willingness to support either, lawmakers must at least find the political courage to create a commission to thoroughly analyze our system of capital punishment and the causes of the growing list of wrongful convictions."


    Who Judged The Katies? NO ONE KNOWS!

    How is this possible?! "Five months after the Press Club of Dallas handed out 179 awards for the best journalism and mass communications in the Southwest, the group's leaders said they can't name a single judge involved in picking those winners." Read the rest from the Dallas Business Journal.

    Johnny Cash's Home Burns

    I blame Barry-freaking-Gibb! Thanks to Leslie T's Texas for the tip.

    Lou Chapman at Gallary 414

    Another old S-T colleague, Lou Chapman, evidently is quite a photographer. I never knew! He's got an exhibit at Gallery 414 now through May 13.

    Gettin' Hitched

    Congrats to Jill Johnson and Brian McCorquodale for jumping the broom. Jill's an old photog friend from my S-T days and her new hubby plays keyboards for Cowtown alt-rock gods Black Tie Dynasty.

    Ornette Coleman Wins A Pulitzer

    Fort Worth's own jazz legend Ornette Coleman won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for his latest work, Sound Grammar. "It means to me what it would mean to any American person, that ... America has a very good heart for artists and creative people," the saxophonist told the Startlegram's Preston Jones. "I was shocked to realize that I have actually made logic into something that has meaning, which I call music."

    Although he's touring in the fall, right now their are no plans to come to Fort Worth or anywhere else in Texas. "I haven't heard about coming to Fort Worth," said Coleman, an I.M. Terrell High School alumnus. "I haven't given up hoping that it happens. I'm sure I'm going to get there one day."

    Bring it on home, Ornette. And congratulations!

    RELATED: Dallas' Lawrence Wright, author of one of my favorite books about Texas -- In the New World -- also took home a Pulitzer for general non-fiction Monday for The Looming Tower, his best-selling investigation of the 9-11 attacks. Congratulations!

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    Drawing Attention to the Fort Worth Circle

    Jeff Prince at the FWWeekly highlighted the print work of Fort Worth Circle artists and how it is getting attention from major print collectors on the East Coast.

    In the mid-1940s, a small group of Fort Worth artists who liked to drink wine, smoke cigarettes, and discuss techniques and theories began gravitating toward an abstract style that was rare among Texas printmakers. Veronica Helfensteller, Kelly Fearing, Dickson Reeder, Flora Blanc, Bill Bomar, Cynthia Brants, and Bror Utter were among the most daring. All were painters of talent but became collectively enthralled with printmaking and challenged one another to see how imaginative and vivid they could get in their work. They trained at some of the world’s best art schools — in New York, Chicago, and abroad — but settled in Fort Worth and stretched the traditional regionalist style to new dimensions.

    Eventually, they would come to be known as the Fort Worth Circle, and their original etchings are considered by many to be the apex of Fort Worth’s glory days of printmaking. “It takes the right person to appreciate them because they’re not big and colorful,” said local antiques dealer Carter Bowden. “But people who know Fort Worth art like the prints as well as the paintings.”

    Some of the prints show interesting views of old Fort Worth buildings like the Sinclair Building and the T&P Terminal, but there are also some really fantastic images of animals and dream sequences, like the print above from Kelly Fearing. What the hell is that? I don't know but I love it! I guess I now have something else to hunt for at estate sales.

    Randy Bacon Exhibit This Week

    I missed this item about Randy Bacon in last week's Startlegram. His MFA exhibition is scheduled for April 16 through 20 (or 18-22, I've seen it both ways) at the Moudy Building gallery at Texas Christian University. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1- 4 p.m. weekends. Free admission. For more information, phone 817.257.7643. You should also check out his Web site.

    Joe Ely Book Signing

    The great Fort Worth writer Jay Milner once said about Joe Ely that just by looking at a picture of him and not knowing anything about him, he knew Joe was from West Texas. Joe just exudes that sense of place. And although I've seen him many times over the past 20 years, Joe's sense of authenticity never grows old.

    On Saturday, I got to see a different side of Joe. Although he's best known as a musician and a songwriter, he's also a poet with a voice and a love of everyday life like Jack Kerouac. And although he will always be connected with Austin and Lubbock, he used to live in Fort Worth and still has connections to the place.

    "I used to play in Fort Worth when I was just starting out," he said. "I played at the old Cellar club downtown opening for a band called the American Blues that later became ZZ Top. Well, I had some other opportunities and I decided I needed to be moving on, so went to talk to the manager of the Cellar, a guy named Bad Bob. He pulled a gun and pointed it at my head and said, 'No one quits the Cellar.'"

    "He was one bad mother."

    Still, Joe quit the Cellar and lived to tell and even come back to Fort Worth. He played a few songs, "On the Run Again" and "All Just To Get To You." He read from the book and talked about the process of keeping a journal, about losing years along the way when a cab drove off with several years while he unloaded equipment at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City or a few more years floated away during a flood in New Braunfels.

    "But enough stayed together that I was able to put together a book." The result was Bonfire of Roadmaps. Check it out. What I've read so far is quite good.

    David Garza (et al) at Hecho en Tejas

    You know, few things fill me with more dread than a tornado siren. The sirens went off right as I was picking up my daughter from school, and the radio was reporting a tornado heading basically right for my wife's office downtown. Not a fun few minutes.

    Even though the Haltom City tornado missed the dealer where my car was, the baseball sized hail didn't. Bottom line was about $2200 worth of damage, but I guess it could have been worse. What's the saying, once is tragedy, twice is farce? All I could do is laugh at that point.

    Anyway, I didn't let the weather or the circumstances keep me from the Hecho en Tejas book signing at the Rose Marine Theater. Unfortunately, the crowd was pretty sparse. I saw David coming in the door and talked to him for a few minutes. His brother, Joel, is moving back to town from Houston and I'm happy to have another buddy around. Joel told me I needed to get a better picture of David for my blog. "He looks like he just got out of Gitmo," he said. David and I watched Tony Diaz and Daniel Gomez from Goodwin for a couple of songs. "Wow," David said. "These guys are pretty good." He was right, those guys are pretty good. You can catch them at the Moon on May 11.

    Dagoberto Gilb, the editor of Hecho en Tejas, was up first. He's got this great East L.A. Chicano accent that is wonderful to listen to. He read a funny short story about a young guy trying to pick up girls. Christine Granados from El Paso followed him. She's the author of the short story collection Brides and Sinners in El Chuco. Her reading was about a woman who goes on a job interview with her entire family and along the way reveals major differences in the Anglo and Chicano way of looking at life, work and the world. Fort Worth's own Tammy Gomez was the biggest surprise of the night for me. Her poetry borrows a lot from music -- especially hip hop and country. Her images are strong and her voice confident.

    Then came David. When my wife and I talked about it later, she said the same thing I was thinking. When you meet David, he is so quiet and unassuming. But get him on stage, and his charisma fills the room. It's like he becomes another person. He's got "it" -- whatever "it" is. He played three songs, the last one was one of Dagoberto Gilb's works that he set to music and it was fantastic. "I hope I can be as cool as this guy one day," David said about Gilb.

    Had to take off after that. I had been a bad dad and I didn't feed my daughter before we went. If anyone caught the last part, let me know how it went. Also, what was the deal with the woman who was ironing? Sorry about the crappy photo. I've been having some issues with my camera. It's called user error.

    Jill Bryan at Poor David's on Wednesday

    Mi amiga Jill Bryan has been chosen as a semi-finalist in Poor David's Pub's annual B.W. Stevenson songwriting contest. You can check her out this coming Wednesday evening, April 18 at 8 p.m. She will be performing the songs she entered in front of the three judges with the other semi-finalists.
    Best part is there's NO COVER.

    For a little laugh, below is Jill doing her best Crystal Gayle with a song that her and her brother Russ did last year before the mid-term elections. It's pretty funny.

    Rhett Miller interview

    A short Q&A with Rhett Miller. Turns out Rhett also snuck in an unannounced solo appearance at Dallas' Barley House on Wednesday night. Damn.

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    O Cruel WInds of Fate!

    OK, my car WAS fixed. But the dealership where I took it just got creamed by hail. Not looking good right now. I'll update again soon. On the positive side, me and mine are OK right now.

    Am I Turning In To Stash Dauber?

    OK, last night I am chilling at the Wreck Room West, shooting the breeze and drinking a couple of Shiners with my friend Dominick, and I’m thinking this good post material. But then I see this morning that Mr. Stash already has a Wreck Room West post. And a Vonnegut post. And a Hecho in Texas post. So am I turning into Stash Dauber, or is he turning in to me?

    Does Non-Fiction Need To Be True?

    Slate takes to task those who are going easy on David Sedaris for maybe playing a little fast and loose with the facts. But is a little embellishment in the name of a good story such a bad thing?

    Sedaris and company want to erect a penumbra that shields humorists from criticism when they blend fiction into their nonfiction but still insist on calling it nonfiction. The logic behind this is difficult to follow. If writing fiction is the license Sedaris and other nonfiction humorists need to get at "larger truths," why limit this exemption to humorists? Let reporters covering city hall, war, and business to embellish and exaggerate so they can capture "larger truths," too. I'm sure that Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Christopher Newton, and Slate's "monkeyfishing guy" would back this idea, especially if applied retroactively.
    Jon Carroll thinks humorists require "latitude" to make things funny, a notion I find bogus. I find stories that are absolutely true—like the time one of my neighbors, dressed up to party on Saturday night, fell into a 55-gallon drum filled with human excrement and urine—the funniest.

    OK, that is pretty funny about the neighbor. But is it really so wrong that some don't want to hold David Sedaris to the same standard as Judith Miller?

    The Element is Fixed

    Thanks, GEICO. That little green lizard means business. See the damage below.

    More information on catalytic converter theft.

    Catalytic converters may seem like an odd thing to steal, but law enforcement agencies say they are being stolen at a high rate across the country. Cindy Burdette, crime prevention specialist with Sacramento County Sheriff's office, said Toyotas provide the biggest target because their catalytic converters can be removed easily and quickly. They are attached by only two bolts.

    For criminals in the know, converters are as good as gold. Actually, better.

    Catalytic converters contain tiny amounts of three precious metals - platinum, palladium and rhodium - that have seen their commodity rates skyrocket in the past two years. According to online commodities Web site, the price of rhodium has shot up in the past five years from $380 to $6,000 per ounce. It closed this week at $6,075. Palladium rose from about $200 per ounce two years ago to $360 in April 2006. It has remained steady at the higher price for the past year, and closed this week at $352. Between April 2005 and November 2006, the price of platinum rose by more than 60 percent, from $865 per ounce to $1,355. This week's close was $1,264.

    John Shegerian, chairman of Fresno-based Electronic Recyclers, said the building boom in China and India is creating an insatiable appetite for everything from precious metals to plastics. That's driving up commodity prices.

    "All of those products that come out of our waste stream are reusable," Shegerian said.

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    David Garza Coming to Cowtown

    Well, I found out about this better late than never. David Garza will be in town tomorrow at the Rose Marine Theater for a book release party for Hecho en Tejas: Palabras del Barrio, a celebration of the newly-released anthology of Texas Mexican literature. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are encouraged. To RSVP or to get more information on this event please call the Rose Marine Theater at 817. 624.8333 or Tammy Gomez at 817.924.9188. The Rose Marine Theater is located at 1440 N. Main St. in Fort Worth. I've seen 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. as kick-off times, so please call.

    This collection is edited by Dagoberto Gilb, the author of four books of fiction and nonfiction, including the 1994 PEN/Hemingway Award-winning The Magic of Blood, as well as The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña, Woodcuts of Women and Gritos. He currently is on the faculty of the Creative Writing MFA Program at Texas State University, in San Marcos. And if you are not familiar with him, he is the stuff.

    R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

    The above image is from the Wilco Web site. I can think of worse quotes to go out on. In the interest of full disclosure, I have never read anything by Kurt Vonnegut, but I did see him on Bill Maher once and thought he had cool hair. I may have to join the Stash Dauber reading challenge and put Slaughterhouse Five on my list right after Ulysses.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    On The Patio at Central Market

    Hansford at Big D little d has the skinny on the Thursday shows on the patio at Central Market, my new favorite grocery store. See you at The Weary Boys on May 24. And the Drams play tomorrow night.

    Keeping Up With The High Cost of Living

    I found a link on Frontburner to a fascinating piece called Where Are the Braniacs Going? It's from a public policy institute focusing on urban governance called the Manhattan Institute. The gist is that cities like Dallas (and I'll bet Fort Worth) are picking up more educated migrants. Why? The low cost of living.

    Our analysis of the 2000 Census and the 2005 American Community Survey makes one thing clear: the strong net “brain gain” of places such as Boston, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles over the past 40 years appears to have been reversed in most of the premier “knowledge” regions since the mid-1990s. The San Francisco Bay Area and Minneapolis have both suffered especially dramatic reversals from net in-migration of educated people to a strong out-migration over the past 15 years.

    So where are these people going? Riverside-San Bernardino, Phoenix, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston have been picking up educated migrants over the past decade. Most of these cities are not usually ranked among the most “hip and cool” areas. Houston (energy), Dallas (technology) and Charlotte (banking) possess some highly concentrated, high-end industrial clusters, while others do not. But all these areas have also enjoyed stronger job growth over the past fifteen years than the traditional brain centers. In most cases, this job-growth pattern also applies to higher wage fields such as financial and business services.

    One critical factor in attracting educated workers may be “relative” costs. The Portland and Seattle areas, for example, have continued to show fairly consistent net in-migration of educated people over the past decade and a half. Although not cheap compared to Dallas or Houston, these metropolitan areas are bargains for people migrating from the Bay Area, Boston and other elite high-tech centers.

    After all, see what $800,000 gets you in San Francisco and in Fort Worth.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Arlington, You Are Dead To Me

    So I'm coming from a meeting in Arlington. I'm out early, so I drop by Whole Foods on Lamar to pick up a few things for dinner. I'm in the store five minutes, when a voice comes over the loudspeaker, " Would the driver of a Honda Element ..."

    Oh, shit. That's my car. This is going to suck.

    I figure someone broke into my car, stole my briefcase, maybe backed into my car. Nope.

    They stole the catalytic converter. The catalytic freaking converter. Turns out this is actually a big problem in Arlington. Who knew?

    Newsflash, this just in: Arlington -- YOU SUCK! You are dead to me! The only two crimes committed against me and my wife in the past 15 years have come in Arlington. This one today and at the Barnes and Noble right across the highway. Some yanked his shwantz out of his pants in front of my wife. Both of these things in the middle of the day. What kind of scummy town is this? I leave you to the crack-smoking, catalytic-converter-stealing, crank-yanking, Jerry Jones-loving lowlife douchebags that people your crumbling burg.

    And Whole Foods, you've gotten my last dollar. If I can't walk in and pick up a loaf of bread without having parts sawed off my car IN BROAD DAYLIGHT WHILE PEOPLE FREAKING WATCH, well, you can just suck it. I like Central Market better anyway.

    RELATED ARLINGTON SCUMMYNESS: A couple of blocks from Whole Foods and stealing $27,000 from the little cheerleader girls -- NICE.

    Last Letters

    Newsweek published the unedited letters of fallen service personnel in Iraq, including the last letters written in their own hand.

    How does a 19-year-old sum up their life and say goodbye in two pages of notebook paper? Here is the letter of Lance Cpl. Anthony Butterfield of Clovis, Calif. I found it hard to forget -- full of the poetry of daily life and the ultimate tragedy of his death.

    Photography As Commodity

    My friend Phil and I have this conversation all the time. Phil is an old school photographer, back from the days – and I say this without irony – when photographers used film. He laments how stock archives and digital photography have destroyed his craft.

    As someone who appreciates photography as art, I’m inclined to agree with him. However, as an avid weekend photographer, I love my digital camera. And as a graphic designer, I love sites like iStockphoto that offer me low-cost stock photos a few clicks away. There’s the conundrum, I love the sausage but I hate how it’s made.

    In this morning’s New York Times, this article shed a little bit of light on how we got here and where we are going with photography:

    In some sense, the iconic photograph of Rosa Parks recreating her quiet act of rebellion on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., belongs to every American. But as a practical matter, it belongs to Bill Gates.

    Anyone wanting to use that image in a book or on a Web site must first license it from Corbis, a corporation founded and owned by Mr. Gates, who is better known for starting Microsoft. The photo is among the 11 million prints and negatives in the legendary Bettmann archive, which Corbis bought in 1995.

    Since that first purchase, Corbis has spent tens of millions of dollars acquiring image collections and other companies, hired more than 1,000 people and set up two dozen offices worldwide. Although Corbis says it brings in some $250 million a year in sales, it has yet to turn a profit.

    Not making money? How is that possible?

    What Corbis did not foresee was the rise of so-called microstock agencies like Fotolia and iStockPhoto. These sites take advantage of the phenomenon known as crowdsourcing, or turning to the online masses for free or low-cost submissions.

    Turns out that Bill Gates can’t make money because of me, my digital camera and voracious appetite for $2 stock photos. And if Bill Gates can’t make money at it, does that mean professional photographers and their craft are doomed?

    Probably not. Just like newspapers, they will need to find a new business model, undoubtedly online. But will the fact that anyone can be a photographer or a writer or a publisher and dump it all on a blog destroy the art and expertise that go into these endeavors?

    Certainly something will be lost, but this is just evolution: adapt or perish. There will be those who figure it out and thrive. And with any luck, some of those will include people who wouldn’t have found their way without all of this democratizing technology. Crowdsourcing won't kill photography (and blogging won't kill newspapers or other "old" media), but it will make surviving in the future much more challenging.

    And don’t look so smug all you graphic designers – your work is next.

    Monday, April 09, 2007

    Scat Jazz Lounge Update

    Because I got tired of waiting, I e-mailed Ricki Derek and asked him whither the Scat Jazz Lounge? Here's his reply:

    After some logistical challenges and a few push backs... It looks like we will be trying to open sometime this summer. I hesitate to give a date as we have a couple of minor hurdles yet. Just keep checking my website and in a couple months or before there should be some concrete info and dates. Not only will info be posted, but eventually we will have the site for the club up and running. (before the opening, but it is not up yet) It's gonna be cool.

    So know you know, too.

    Waiting for The Other Shoe to Drop

    In case you missed it, Texas Monthly's Paul Burka has an excellent recap on how TXU got bitch-slapped back into reality after threatening to close some of its power plants. Hmm, you may ask yourself, what about the shadowy hand of Slick Rick Perry? Well, here it is:

    What worries me about this is that the PUC, like many state agencies, is run by a former Rick Perry staffer, and, as we learned from the HPV controversy earlier this session, the governor has been known to involve himself in agency actions and decisions. Perry has also taken six-figure contributions from TXU and its officers. Will he intervene to help TXU again, as he did in trying to fast-track the licensing of their power plants?

    Cronyism and graft in state government? Not in Texas!

    Does The System Work?

    DNA evidence clears another man, James Curtis Giles, who was wrongfully convicted in Dallas County. Sez the D(a)MN:

    On Monday, State District Judge Robert Francis ruled Mr. Giles should have his record cleared because DNA evidence shows his arrest was a case of mistaken identity. The recommendation will be forwarded to an appeals court for formal approval that would make Mr. Giles the 13th person in Dallas County since 2001 to be cleared with the aid of DNA testing. No other county in the nation has had more DNA-related exoneration.

    Is Dallas' criminal justice system worse than any other big city in America? Probably not, but the facts aren't pointing in that direction right now. The saddest fact of all is this: if you are poor and a minority, don't get arrested in Dallas County. Even if you are innocent, don't expect the facts to shine in court.

    But eere's what I really wonder: because Texas leads the nation in executions and Dallas County leads the nation in wrongfully convicted criminals, has Texas executed an innocent person? The Houston Chronicle says yes, Texas has already killed an innocent man -- Ruben Cantu. But, hey, it could be worse. At least Dallas isn't New Orleans.

    Unfair Park has more on what is being done to fix the problem:
    Eric Ferraro, communications director for The Innocence Project, says they will testify in support of three bills: SB 263, which would create an Innocence Commission to investigate the causes of wrongful convictions and develop remedies to prevent them; SB 162, which would increase the amount of compensation for people who have been wrongfully convicted; and SB 799, which would enhance eyewitness identification procedures.

    Law students at Texas Wesleyan have signed on to investigate hundreds of other cases tried in Dallas County in which DNA testing has been requested. They will have their hands full.

    St. Vincent Doesn't Live Up to the Buzz

    Ever-body has been all up in St. Vincent lately because of this new album coming out. Well, Well, Gorilla vs. Bear had an advance piece with a link to an MP3 download for a track on her new album and it just didn't do it for me. It's interesting in Bjork-y kind of way, but after reading that review, I'm thinking Beth Orton ... wow. Then I listen to "Now. Now", and I'm thinking, "Is that it?" On the basis of that one track, I'm probably going to have to lump St. Vincent in with Black Tie Dynasty and the other bands that I'd like to like but find I really kind of don't.

    Tentative FredsFest Lineup

    Stash Dauber has the skinny on who's playing the FredsFest! I will be there with bells on. And probably a hat.

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    Feeling the Love from the NYT

    The East Coast Media Conspiracy loves them some Cowtown. Now, all I ask is this: how long did they have to wait to get a guy to walk a horse past the Paris Coffee Shop? For those too lazy to click through, here the Cliff's Notes: If you visit Dallas, and don't go to Fort Worth, you're an idiot. Kimbell, Amon Carter, Modern, Worthington, Paris Coffee Shop, Billy Bob's, The End. See how much time I just saved you?


    Great news today: Proud parents Ernie and Rebecca welcomed Diego Ernesto Thursday night at 8:18 p.m.. Diego weighs 7 pounds, 7 ounces and is 21 inches. Mom and baby are resting while Dad is busy creating a training schedule for the next great midfielder for the U.S. National team. Ernie's got a great band called Rosedale that I'm betting you won't be able to see for a while because E's going to be on diaper duty.


    Think of It as Retro Weather

    If you loved the Dust Bowl, you're in luck! Scientists say that Texas is headed toward Dust Bowl-like drought in the next 15 years. The best news: it's permanent. Sez the D(a)MN:

    Texas almost certainly faces a future of perpetual drought as bad as the record dry years of the 1950s because of global warming, climate scientists said in a study published Thursday.

    The trend toward a drier, hotter southwestern U.S., including all of Texas, probably has already begun and could become strikingly noticeable within about 15 years, according to a study led by Richard Seager of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

    Drought conditions are expected to resemble the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s and Texas' worst-ever drought of the 1950s, Dr. Seager said. Unlike those droughts, however, the new conditions won't be temporary, the study found. "This time, once it's in, it's in for good," Dr. Seager said.

    Saturday Morning on Magnolia

    We finished up at Paris Coffee Shop on Saturday morning and stumbled into a car show in the parking lot next door. I snapped a few photos and will post a few here. This one is a 1968 Ford Mustang fastback.

    Thursday, April 05, 2007

    Renzo Piano Chosen for Kimbell Annex

    The great Italian architect Renzo Piano will be designing the annex to the Kimbell Art Museum, the museum annouced yesterday.

    It's a rough neighborhood for an architect. Sure, he's the 1998 Pritzker Prize winner, but the museum district already has a couple of those with 1979 winner Philip Johnson's Amon Carter Museum across the lawn and 1995 winner Tadao Ando's Modern Art Museum across the street. Not to mention that the annex will need to compliment Louis Kahn's design. Piano worked with Kahn from 1965 to 1970.

    Sez the Startlegram:

    But Piano will likely be seen as a safe choice for anyone who is worried about the new building detracting from or competing with the late Kahn's design. Piano worked in Kahn's Philadelphia offices in the late 1960s and was as close as anyone to Kahn's thinking and working methods. Since then, he has shown a special affinity for designing museums with great sensitivity to their location and special lighting needs.

    "It's an awesome challenge, but an attractive one," Piano said in a prepared statement. "It is all the more satisfying as an undertaking given my association with Lou Kahn and my deep respect for his work."

    Piano is well known for his museum designs: the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Beyeler Foundation museum in Basel, Switzerland, a museum dedicated to Swiss painter Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, as well as Dallas' Nasher Sculpture Center and Atlanta's High Museum of Art.

    I'm familiar with Piano's two other Texas works -- the Menil and the Nasher -- from personal experience, so one thing to expect from the Kimbell annex is exquisite quality of light. I'm excited to see the design and proud that Cowtown will bring the work of another world-class architect to the museum district.

    Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited

    I wasn't aware of the Serge Gainsbourg tribute album, at least until now (thanks for the tip from Dreams of Horses).

    If you aren't familiar with Gainsbourg's work, check out Couleur Cafe. He's got this kitschy mid-century cool thing down. Even though I don't understand French, it's quite entertaining.

    The Return of Max Fischer

    Jason Schwartzman -- better known as Max Fischer in the greatest movie of all time, Rushmore has a new solo project called Coconut Records. Sez Blogs are for Dogs:

    Schwartzman’s latest musical venture immediately recalls his previous percussion duties in Phantom Planet, crafting delicate pop melodies in his own unquely winsome way. In a sense, Schwartzman imbues his music with the same sensibility as his various onscreen personas, a melancholy mix of Max Fischer and Albert Markovski.

    Follow the linky to get the rest and a free download of Coconut Records - West Coast.

    Check Out CultureFeast

    I discovered a cool blog called Culture Feast today. I knew I would like it because it called out Dale Hansen for pretty much being Dale Hansen. OK, so maybe Dale ain't father of the year material, but he did get fired for throwing Clarice Tinsley in a swimming pool, and that's got to be worth some points, right?[Nope, that was Kevin McCarthy who threw Clarice in the pool. Guess that makes Dale pretty much irredeemable.]

    A Little Schadenfreude

    Back in my newspaper days, we would console ourselves after a really bad night by saying, "Well, it wasn't like the paper didn't go out." Well, evidently yesterday at the Dallas Morning News, the paper almost didn't go out.


    Tuesday, April 03, 2007

    Good Friday with the Hacienda Brothers

    If I had known it was going to rain like that on Friday, I would have never gone out. And as I tromped across Sundance Square in a torrential rain, I thought, 'I must want to see the Hacienda Brothers really bad.'

    By the time I got to the McDavid Theater to pick up my tickets, I ran into a friend and talked for a minute and I started to feel glad I made it out. We talked about the McDavid Theater, which I had never been to. "They're trying to be like the Caravan of Dreams," he said. "But it's not quite working."

    On my way out the door, I was behind these really cool looking Mexican guys, including this one vato with a porkpie hat, Fu Manchu goatee and an untucked plaid shirt. They were goofing around talking to this one guy with glasses. They were funny and I smiled but didn't want to appear to be listening in.

    I had dinner with my family at Uno's (not my choice) and by the time we were done it was really raining. So I went back to the garage to get the truck, picked up my girls, dropped them off at the theater and parked the car again. Not great planning, and by the time my travels were over, I was fairly drenched.

    But I didn't really mind. The McDavid space is nice. It's small, only a room for a couple of hundred and you sit at table rather than stand. Unfortunately, all of this really kills the energy. There's nothing for the band to feed off of because everyone is spread out and no one is moving around. And it didn't help that the crowd was, ahem, a little geezerly. I still haven't figured out what that was about. It's not like this was Lawrence Welk. And it's not like this is the Caravan.

    But even though half the Hacienda Brothers were suffering from the death cold that's going around and Chris Gaffney was hobbled by a bad ankle, they did right by the crowd. These guys are billed as the first Western soul band, but they are really a jazz combo with a country-blues addiction. Everyone gets to take a solo and make a variation on a theme.

    They opened with "Midnight Dream" and they seemed to be finding their bearings. Then for their second song, they played "If Daddy Don't Sing Danny Boy" which led to the coolest part of the night. "It was really important for us to play this date in Fort Worth because although this song is about Barry McGuigan, the guy who won the fight is sitting on the front row." Turns out the Mexican guy in the glasses that I saw earlier was Little Stevie Cruz, the Fort Worth boxing legend.

    The set built up steam from there. Dave Gonzalez was absolutely blistering and Dave Berzansky is easily the best steel guitar player I have ever seen and he reminded me very much of Speedy West.

    At the intermission, I got to talk to Dale Daniel briefly, and although I hadn't seen the guy in nearly 20 years, he remembered me and we had a nice talk. My daughter was very impressed. "Gee, Dad," she said. "You know all kinds of famous people." Well, not really, but Chris Gaffney did sign her hat.

    Thanks for a great show and a great evening, guys. Even if we didn't see Steve Ray.

    Tea Bagging

    Sam Machkovech at Big D little d calls out the DMN's Thor Christiansen for his recent Gypsy Tea Room column and his general suckitude. Funny Thor story: once when he was interviewing Liam Gallagher from Oasis, Liam asked him, "What kind of name is Thor? That's a stupid name." Not sure how Thor responded to that, but it made me like that prick Liam a little better.

    Billy Joe Shaver Caps a Guy

    Billy Joe Shaver shoots a guy in Lorena. I always knew that town was bad news.

    Sounds like a self-defense situation. Stupid guy should know better than this. Billy Joe once drove himself to the hospital in Temple when he was having a heart attack -- in Hillsboro. He's one tough bastard. In fact, I think the only thing that can stop Billy Joe Shaver is another Billy Joe Shaver. Or perhaps Dick Cheney. Or maybe Voltron.

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Dominick Mastrangelo Photography

    On my way to see The Hacienda Brothers on Friday night, I ran into an old friend, Dominick Mastrangelo, a local photographer. He's just launched his new Web site, which I encourage all of you to check out. I absolutely love his picture above -- he's quite a talented guy.

    Bernie Gets Hitched

    Bernie Scheffler jumps the broom. Thanks to Pete for the tip. Best wishes to you and your wife, Bernie! And good luck on Election Day.