Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mack Brown in Fort Worth

Yeah, I'm a big college football nerd. Here I am with my daughter and our good friend, Mack Brown, at Joe T. Garcia's on Monday night at the Longhorn Foundation shindig. He signed my Mack Brown Wheaties box. And my Rose Bowl ticket. And my Big 12 Championship game ticket. And my daughter's hat. He's just a good sport that way.

We had the big Mexican feed and sat at a table with Jack Rattikin, who was a really cool guy. He's pals with Dan Jenkins, he was in Dan's first wedding and told us a story about being in the book Baja Oklahoma. I also saw my old Startlegram boss, Gary Hardee, one of the nicest guys I know.

The speaking portion of the evening wasn't much I hadn't heard before. However, there were a few highlights:

  • "There aren't any particular games y'all are interested in?" Mack joked. He knew damn well there was one game we in Fort Worth were very interested in: TCU on Sept. 8. He told us about what a good team TCU is, fast, well-coached. He's a big Gary Patterson fan. He said that it was important for the team not to take the Horned Frogs lightly.

  • Some asked about Henry Melton, but the answer could have applied to the recently DWI'ed Sergio Kindle. "We don't want to embarass the kids by talking about there private business any more than we have to. But trust us -- the team punishment is serious and severe."

  • Regarding future schedules, he said that a lot of teams say they want to play UT publicly, but in private, they have no interest in playing at all. He didn't say it, but he means you Michigan and Notre Dame. He said the Irish didn't even return the phone call.

  • Mack says he favors a playoff but doesn't think it'll happen anytime soon.

  • Former Longhorn Michal Ungar, the special teams tackling artist from Fort Worth Trinity Valley, was there. Evidently, he had a recent bout with cancer, but is doing fine now.

  • That's it. Hook'em!

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    An Open Letter to Johnny D. Boggs

    Dear Johnny:

    I just love that photo and I'm looking for an excuse to run it, so rest assured, it's nothing personal. You are still mi amigo grande. I've been thinking about country music this morning and I'm writing because I respect your knowledge on these matters. Also, you're a handy foil for my morning rant. I'm writing about the Star-Telegram’s Top 100 country songs, compiled by Shirley Jinkins and Malcolm Mayhew. Now Shirley and Malcolm are both fine folks, let’s just get that out of the way right now. Nothing I say has anything to do with them. This is just business. But now that the niceties are out of the way, let’s slash and burn.

    Putting together a list like this is bound to provoke people -- you and I both know that. You can't win at it. In fact, you and I have been down this road before when you invited me to participate in the History of Country Music issue in 2001 for Old West Journal, a choice I’m sure you regret daily. Looking back on that list, there’s plenty I disagree with. But of course those are everyone else’s choices. Mine were perfect, I’m sure.

    But that’s part of the problem, I don’t remember what I even voted on, and it doesn’t have anything to do with all the booze. It’s just that what I like depends on the day. Ask me next week and you’ll get a different answer.

    That said, there are some absolutes.

  • First, some people don’t belong on the list. I don’t care how many albums she sold, Lee Ann-fucking Womack doesn’t belong on this list ever -- especially not at No. 28. Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, the Judds, Clint Black, Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn – I have no place for you either. You are the vile spew launched from the mouth of Nashville focus groups. You have no place in the history of C&W. Randy Travis, Vince Gill, George Strait -- you do nothing for me but I will grudgingly allow your presence. Garth Brooks? I haven’t forgotten about Chris Gaines yet. You are the Tom Cruise of country music. For that you will pay. You’re out.

  • Second, you can’t ignore alt-country: Or Redneck Rock. Or Americana. Whatever you want to call it. It all belongs. You might as well ignore bluegrass. Sez the story: “We kept this list, in the words of Strait, pure country: No Wilco. No Flying Burrito Brothers. No Old 97's. No alt-country -- there's a time and place for honoring those heroes, and this ain't it.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wilco’s AM was a better country album than most of the people on the list ever produced. And you know what else? I’d put up Neko Case’s “Running Out of Fools" over LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue” any day of the week. There’s more Patsy Cline in Neko’s song that in Rimes has been able to muster in her entire career. And if you don’t want to get into the purple hair crowd, at least answer me this: Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely? How can you ignore these guys?

  • Third, too much kitsch. Oh, my God, where to begin? “Elvira”? “Flowers on the Wall”? “Love in the First Degree”? If you played any of these songs to a detainee at Gitmo, it would be against the Geneva Convention – not that we Americans worry about that kind of thing, mind you. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” at No. 11? And you’re telling me alt-country doesn’t have a place? One Steve Earle song has more musical nutritional value than the entire oeuvre of the Oak Ridge Boys.

  • OK, so as not to be too negative, I’m offering up a Top 10 for others to trash as well. I mean, why be a part of the problem if you won’t be part of the solution? So here it is:

  • 1. “Mama Tried,” Merle Haggard. If listening to this doesn’t make you want to get drunk and start a bar fight, well, you’re not me.

  • 2. “Crazy,” Patsy Cline. Patsy’s best vocal with Willie Nelson’s best song. Perfect combo.

  • 3. “Folsom Prison Blues,” Johnny Cash. Because he shot a man in Reno just to watch him die!

  • 4. “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” George Jones. You can’t fight the Possum. Because he’ll get drunk and run you over with his golf cart.

  • 5. “London Homesick Blues,” Jerry Jeff Walker and Gary P. Nunn. Blame ACL, but this song just sez Texas.

  • 6. “Cold Cold Heart,” Hank Williams. I don’t say Senior because Bocephus is irrelevant to me. And this is probably Hank’s most enduring song.

  • 7. “Faded Love,” Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. This or “San Antonio Rose.” Flip a coin.

  • 8. “El Paso,” Marty Robbins. Did you ever see the music video to this that Steve Martin did with chimpanzees dressed as cowboys? Well, it’s pretty cool.

  • 9. “The Road Goes On Forever,” Robert Earl Keen. You cannot ignore the magnitude of this song.

  • 10. “Wabash Cannonball,” Roy Acuff. The first rock and roll song.

  • Thanks for reading. You’re thoughts are appreciated. Just remember, it goes straight on the blog, so write accordingly.

    All my best,

    Drilling and Tandy Hills Park

    A thoughtful post from Pete at Cowtown Chronicles about his recent nature walk at Tandy Hills Park. Here's a bit: "The link is to an article about the park and how people are afraid it’s going to be ruined by gas drilling. It mentions that the city has vowed not to let trucks drive onto the parkland, but that’s apparently a lie, since Jenna and I nearly got run over by a big diesel pickup with 4 workers in it. It missed us, but it took out a couple of small trees on its way out, which is always a nice way to start a hike in a nature area." Thanks for the post, Pete.

    Sunday, July 29, 2007

    Girl Talk Speaks

    The guys at The Owl and The Bear had a cool interview with those musical anarchists Girl Talk. They'll take samples from five or six top 40 songs -- Boston, Elton John, Smashing Pumpkins, whatever -- and mix it all into a tasty little musical gumbo. If you haven't picked up Night Ripper, please do so immediately. You'll be glad you did.

    Artoo -- Beer Me!

    Science may not have given me a flying car or a jet pack yet, but there is progress to report -- the beer-pouring robot. The Asahi Beerbot ($800) stores and refrigerates six cans and features a programmable voice, cleaning mode, and child lock. Next up -- keg on wheels?

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    NED?! Ned Ryerson!

    I love the movie Groundhog Day. But who would've thought that Ned Ryerson, played by Stephen Tobolowsky was in a garage band with Stevie Ray Vaughan during his Kimball High School days in Dallas? If you don't believe me, check out the Filter magazine interview with Tobolowsky, or skip to the good parts at Unfair Park.

    TCC 1, Ed Bass 0

    Color me shocked -- Tarrant County College District trustees withstood pressure Tuesday night from some downtown business leaders to revamp its plans for a sunken plaza at its new downtown campus, saying the college can't afford the time and money a redesign would take. The seven-member board instead unanimously voted to proceed with its original plan. The board heard from its staff and members of the construction team who said a redesign could cost tens of millions of dollars and possibly delay the opening of the campus from 12 to 18 months.

    PREVIOUSLY: Mitch Schnurman sez cool it Ed.

    Abstinence of Malice

    Congratulations, Rick Perry, your state had the nation's highest birth rate among teenagers ages 15 to 19 in 2004, according to a newly released study of children's health.

    The Kids Count study, which is updated annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, said the Texas rate of 63 births per 1,000 teens remained the same from 2003 to 2004. "It's a touchy subject," Robert Sanborn, president of Children at Risk, told the AP. "We can preach abstinence quite a bit, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't affect some kids, and apparently it's really not working in Texas."

    Good job, Rick. Texas may not be No. 1 in any education or healthcare access categories, but at least we're No. 1 in this. You've made us proud.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    For My Austin Peeps

    This just in from mi amigo maximo Rick Poss, he’s got a regular Wednesday gig at CafĂ© Mundi at 1704 E. 5th. Go by and check him out and maybe even buy a CD.

    Glen Rose Soldier Killed in Iraq

    Cpl. Rhett Allen Butler, a 22-year-old graduate of Glen Rose High School, was killed Friday in Khan Bani Sa'd in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, the Defense Department said Monday. He was a 2003 graduate of Glen Rose High School and played linebacker on the football team. "He had so many friends; everyone loved him," his stepsister Melissa Ganer told the Star-Telegram. "His smile filled up a room."

    Wes Anderson's New Movie

    Wes Anderson's new movie, The Darjeeling Limited, a comedy about three brothers re-forging family bonds, is due in theaters on Sept. 29. The eldest, played by Wilson, hopes to reconnect with his two younger siblings (Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) by taking them on a train trip across the vibrant and sensual landscape of India. The film's script has been bouncing around on online bulletin board for months and according to one web description, the three brothers are on a trek through India to find an albino tiger that’s actually their reincarnated father. Sez Anderson, don't believe everything you read on teh internets. I agree. View the the trailer here and see for yourself.

    Monday, July 23, 2007

    Getting My Bike On

    Getting back on the bike meant I finally got my ass down to Panther City Bikes to meet Bernie Scheffler live and in person. And I must say that his kickassitude is even greater in person. We had the weigh in and a nice little chat over a Rahr IPA Stormcloud, talking about Fort Worth South, his next run for city council and blogging.

    I came back on Sunday with my daughter -- she's really growing and needed a new set of wheels. Bernie hooked us up with a sweet ride and gave us a good deal on our trade-in. The girl child is cycling in style on her first multi-speed bike!

    So remember, for all of your biking needs, shop at Panther City. Bernie will do you right. Now, if I get my biking legs back, I'll be joining the guys on Monday and Wednesday nights at 6:30 for their regular ride. I'm looking forward to it.

    Living In a Great Big Way

    Well, I blame Pete. But he didn't get me into this mess, he's just trying to get me out of it.

    When he suggested joining the Panther City Bikes Weight Loss Contest, I knew I needed to jump on board. I haven't been biking much lately, just hoovering up burritos, brats and beer. So when Pete suggested that the contest would be a good way to lose about 60 of his pounds, I told him that his 60 and the 60 I need to lose would probably make a pretty kick-ass guy to drink beer with.

    So Friday night I made my way down to Benito's for Fat Friday, loading up on sausage quesadillas and barbacoa tacos for one last huzzah before jumping on the health wagon. Saturday's weigh-in confirmed what I already thought: 260, although Bernie was kind enough to not post my poundage online. My goal for the challenge is to get back down to 230 in the next 60 days. My dream weigh would be 200, but doctor's preferred weight is 220-225. Hey, why fight medical science?

    So how do I propose to get to 230? Diet and exercise. Bye-bye Fredburgers, hello fiber. Lots of fruits and vegetables. Biking every morning. I went for my shakedown cruise on the Hardrocker on Sunday and it ... was ... painful. I went late morning and the combination of the heat, humidity and going too far pretty much kicked my ass. All the people driving down Bellaire Circle were saying, "Isn't that interesting ... look at the fat guy having a heart attack in that stranger's yard." When I get home, my wife was appropriately exasperated. "You don't do anything in moderation, do you?" That's not how I roll, baby.

    This morning's cruise along the Trinity Trail was better -- cooler, flatter and no sun. Anyway, it's a start. I'll keep you posted.

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Marc Ribot, Live and Free

    The New York Times reviewed Marc Ribot's free concert
    , performed yesterday at at the World Financial Center Plaza. Ah, to have been there!

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Random Thoughts

    I've been a little busy at the office and haven't had time to get my blog on. So please bear with me while I take care of a little housekeeping:

  • Church of the Sub Genius (right): As if there wasn't enough conspicuous consumption to make me feel small and inadequate, the new must-have transportation gizmo for the ultrarich is a private submarine. Kind of makes your iPhone look like a piece of crap, doesn't it? For example, one sub maker's midsize model is the $25 million Seattle 1000, a three-story-tall vessel with five staterooms, five bathrooms, two kitchens, a gym, a wine cellar and a 30-foot-long by 15-foot-wide observation portal. It has a range of 3,000 nautical miles. Sheesh, where is a depth charge when you really need one?

  • But I have a plan: I will find and sink the secretive submarines of these wealthy fops the same way the Allies did it in WWII -- with my very own Enigma machine! There's one for sale now on eBay for a mere 10 large. Can someone write me a check?

  • Show Me The Money: This big project in the Startlegram today looked a little familiar. I wonder why.... Oh, yeah, now I remember - I wrote the same damn thing three months ago! That map kicks ass, though. I'll give you that.

  • Lili's Bistro: Kevin reminded me of a dining destination on Magnolia I had not yet experienced. Yes, you had me at Gorgonzola. Dropped in late Saturday night. Had the Asian crab cakes, grilled halloumi and mini cristos. Dessert was the Italian cream cake and chocolate almond torte. Not exactly health food, but plenty of yum. A little spensive (Entrees are $16-$18) but good food and a great vibe. Steve says check it.

  • Dutch's Burgers N Beer: Grady Spears' newest venture occupies the old Jon's Grille space on the TCU drag. Bernie's already given his take, so once again, I'm playing catch-up (no pun intended). Grady makes a mean burger -- a big fat patty and a fresh baked bun. The onion rings are awesome but the fries had an unexpected fishy taste. WTF? The frito pie made me care a little less about the fries -- it's a little more upscale than the heartburn-inducing versions I usually prefer, but plenty good and I'll be back for it again. As for the vibe -- well, no one will confuse it with Fred's. It's a little more tassled-loafer than I would prefer. I like a little raunch with my burger -- my inner redneck, I guess. And spensive yes. Terry Chandler, you don't got nuthin to worry bout, Brutha. Still, can Grady make it? My wife and her co-workers were wondering the same thing. Their conclusion -- nope. My conclusion -- as long as you can drag the TCU kids and their fat wallets in -- you'll be fine.

  • Not Wrecked: Stash reminds us that the Wreck Room is not closed. Brian ... that fella can hang on.

  • Birthday Greetings: Speaking of Stash, as we discussed on Sunday, July is a good month to get older. Ken wrote this touching birthday greeting to his oldest daughter and reminded me of two things: 1) Daughters are awesome. 2) Ken really isn't a blogger, he's a poet. Good on ya.

  • Cindy has left the building: Miss Cindy from the Fine Line now calls San Antone home. Wahh!

  • Good news / bad news for newspapers: Good news: The Audit Bureau is adding "audience engagement" (read: Web site visitors) to its measurements which will make dismal circulation numbers a little less dismal. Bad news: It's earnings report week for the industry. Let the bloodletting begin ... er, continue.

  • PSA from our robot overlords Bret and Jemaine: "The humans are dead!"
  • Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Trinity River Developments

  • LaGrave Field Development Plan: Fort Worth Cats owner Carl Bell has put his development plan on the fast track. "Bell plans 1.5 million square feet of space for offices, restaurants, shops and other service-related retailers. There will be about 850 residential units, he said. Closer to the ballpark, there may even be a mid-rise condo tower, and perhaps a hotel, he said. ... As a part of the deal with the city, Bell agreed to build 15 percent of the planned residential units, or about 125 units, as affordable housing, giving middle- to lower-income families the chance to live there." My take: 1) How long until this comes together? I look at the photo above and think 20 years. 2) Affordable housing, eh? Why does it always seem like development throws in the idea of affordable housing but it takes so long to come around? Is it the lure of the big payday from luxury developments is too strong? What I really wonder is this: are there really enough fat wallets around to absorb all of these high-end residential developments in the downtown area?

  • TCC Design: I'm a few days late, but Mitch Schnurman did a great column on the Tarrant County College campus design. Basically, Schnurman throws his support behind the design of Vancouver architect Bing Thom and his sunken plaza design. "Thom's design for a campus entry does what it aims to do: dramatically and elegantly, it turns the Trinity River into a vital part of civic life downtown. That's design job No. 1. It also recognizes that there are much better places for the kind of plaza that [Ed] Bass wants to see, including in the middle of his Sundance Square district, about four blocks to the south. Finally, the Thom design brings a bold new architecture and attitude to central Fort Worth, just when the city is trying to stretch beyond its traditional styles and borders. So why hire a world-class architect to do a groundbreaking project and then change his design?" Well put, Mitch. But don't count out Ed and his billions. If he doesn't get his way, I'll be shocked.
  • Again ... Slow News Day?

    Previously, this effort to blow the lid off towel theft in the Mid-Cities was my favorite Startlegram story. Well, move over towels because there's a new king of lame news in town -- UNDERWEAR THEFT!

    What really makes this story is the locator map. Not only did someone take the time to report and write this story, someone filled out a request with the art department, a designer put together the locator map and a copy editor checked it, all to tell you -- YOU! Because it's all about YOU THE READER! -- about a $17 underwear theft from a Dollar General. Now that's the kind of commitment to news that I want from my daily newspaper.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    A Few of My Favorites

    I've already offered my views on the AIA Fort Worth list of favorite local buildings, and, as I mentioned, Anthony Mariani of the FWWeekly is putting together an Unsung List of Architecturally Significant Things to serve as a companion piece of sorts. I would like to submit the following buildings for consideration. I'm a modernist at heart, so that's pretty much the direction we're headed.

    The Young Residence, Burleson: OK, it's not Fort Worth. Shoot me. This 950 square foot residence designed by Aledo architect Richard Wintersole is located on a half acre lot in an established 1970s suburban neighborhood in Burleson. According to the Fort Worth AIA site: "The design consists of three parts: a stucco clad double volume living room, a wood deck and galvalume clad support spaces. For budget and aesthetic reasons the material palette is simple: wood floors, drywall, plastic laminate counters, sandblasted steel and sealed plywood subflooring." I like this building because it shows what affordable residential architecture could be. I'm aware that most people want to live in those mass-produced David Weekley monstrosities. And, hey, that OK. BUT I wish there was more room in the panoply of home choices for something like this.

    The Works of C.M. and Zoe Davis, Fort Worth: Charles M. Davis (1884-1974) was a civil engineer who helped develop slip-form concrete construction for use in large concrete structures, such as the Ralston Purina and Universal grain elevators built around Fort Worth in the 1920s and 1930s. Davis and his daughter Zoe became fascinated with the streamlined modernist works of designer Norman Bel Geddes and architects Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. They also were interested in the potential of concrete as low-cost building material.

    Of course, during the Depression, there wasn't much going on, so Charles and his daughter began to experiment with concrete construction by building several small, apartment-sized single home projects dubbed "Aparthomes" in the TCU area. They were able to purchase a few lots for $250 to $350 and persuaded the Portland Cement Association to sponsor the construction. Even still, the Davises had to cut as many corners as possible to make these houses affordable. One interesting feature of these houses was a ventilation system designed to remove hot air through the roof.

    Four of the Davis Homes are extant. The one that has fared best is 2945 Lubbock pictured above as it exists today and as it did in years past. This home was purchased a few years ago by a couple of TCU professors who -- though they have significantly expanded and changed the structure -- have maintained the original integrity of the building. They've really done a marvelous job with the place.

    Another Davis Aparthome that has fared well is 3241 Waits, which looks remarkably similar to the photo from the 1930s. The other Davis home directly across the street at 3240 Waits has not fared quite as well.

    The only other Davis house is at 1010 Devitt, the lower photo of the house with the two windows with awnings. This house appeared to be in the worst condition of the four. However, even this house appeared -- at least from the outside -- to be restorable. Obviously, concrete structures have a durability of their own. Here's hoping that all of the remaining Davis structures get the chance for a rehab. Charles and Zoe Davis were homegrown modernists. I hope that their remaining work can be saved so future Fort Worth residents can see how modernism was interpreted in Fort Worth back in the 1930s. (Source: Cowtown Modern by Judith Singer Cohen, pages 99-101, 1988, Texas A&M University Press. The black and white photos are also from the book. The color photos are mine.)

    Martin E. Robin Residence, 3817 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth: This house, designed by Fred W. Murphree in 1941 is across the street from my first apartment in Fort Worth. As Singer described the house in Cowtown Moderne, the house is "an amalgam of the curves of the Streamline Moderne, the angles of the International Style and the decorative features of the Mediterranean Style." Built by contractor Martin E. Robin as his residence, he included a lot of unique features into the home, including a rooftop deck reached by an outside flight of concrete steps and -- my personal favorite -- a matching doghouse with its own rooftop patio for a little canine sunbathing. Awesome. (Source: Cohen, pages 105-106)

    Fort Worth Public Health Building, 1800 University Drive, Fort Worth: I know it may not be sexy, but I have a soft spot for Mid-Century Modern municipal architecture, the sort of postwar government modernism that you are familiar with whether you grew up in the US or Europe. I don't know who designed it, and I guess it really doesn't matter. I love the glass, the brick, the angles and -- what is that? -- green marble? I don't know. There just something kind of optimistic about it. And I believe (but I'm not certain) that it has a date with the wrecking ball. (If someone out there knows for sure, please comment.)

    However, I couldn't imagine this building holding off demolition for long. As Fred Bernstein wrote in an article for The New York Times in 2004, this style of architecture may be loved by some, but not by most: "In a society otherwise enamored of the styles of the 1960s, the architecture of that decade is rarely loved and frequently reviled. All over the country, '60s buildings are being torn down while much older buildings survive. Functional problems, like leaky roofs and inadequate heating systems, are often to blame."

    Yes, it's mostly a matter of dollars and cents, but taste also has something to do with it. Bernstein continues: "But just as often, the buildings are simply disliked by institutions that have enough money to replace them."

    This building and others like it may yet have their day, but I'm not expecting them to endure like the Courthouse and Post Office. This style is just not as easy for most people to love. And like many, many examples of Mid-Century Modern Architecture around the Fort Worth and Dallas area, I expect most of them to be gone before most people think preservation is important.

    Please don't get me wrong. I like the buildings on the Fort Worth AIA list as much as anyone. And we're lucky to have as many fantastic modern structures here in the Fort -- from the ziggurats of the Art Deco skyscrapers downtown to the sublime minimalism of the Modern Art Museum. Fort Worth architecture has covered a lot of modern ground over the past 80 years. But there are some unsung beauties out there, too. They may not have been designed by the biggest names or had the biggest budgets. Let's recognize their beauty before they're gone.

    BTW, I'd like to tag my other Fort Worth blog buds -- Ken and Kevin and Pete and Bernie and whoever else wants to play to name their favorites. I can't wait to read 'em.

    UPDATE 7.17.07: Kevin at Fort Worthology brings it strong with his list!

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Metrognome Collective Art Auction To-nite

    For those so inclined, the Metrognome Collective Benefit Art Auction is scheduled for tonight at The Chat Room Pub. The silent auction begins at 7 p.m., and contains work by: Noel Finney (Austin), Dylan Oriley, Paul Leicht, Jesse Barnett, Andrew Kendall, Nick Pendergrast, John Bell (Austin), Andy Amato (Dallas), Elizabeth Colonna (Austin), Christopher Blay, Randy Davis, James Watkins, Karolina Phillips, Kelly Rien, Mark Penland, Rene West, Robby Potts, Adam Meese, Kate Symanovich, Olivia Saldivar and more. Cover is $5 at the door, and works will start bidding at as low as $10. The Chat Room Pub is located at 1263 West Magnolia, Fort Worth, 76104 (between Hemphill & 8th, 2 blocks south of Rosedale)

    Also, beginning at 8 p.m., Sarah Reddington will be performing, followed by Clint Niosi at 9:30 and Tame... Tame and Quiet at 11. Bidding stops at 1:30 am, during the final bidding of the evening, Wanz Dover will be spinning, winners will be announced, and payment will be accepted by cash, check, or via credit card (through paypal).

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    RIP, Lady Bird Johnson

    I can't say it better than this. "When all the volumes written about her are stacked up and analyzed, here is God's truth: The woman was a marvel — a combination of ability, intellect, purpose and charm that resulted in a rare beauty. Mrs. Johnson was, as we say in Texas, 'the real deal.'"

    Can We Get a Do-Over?

    I was rocking the Google the other day when I got to thinking about my old boss from my Star-Telegram days, Mac Tully (pictured). Actually, he wasn't my boss, he was the boss of my boss during the big, bad Arlington newspaper war of the late 1990s. Anyway, I knew he had gone to Knight Ridder corporate, and I wondered what happened to him after McClatchy bought the Knight Ridder chain. Turns out he is now the publisher of the Kansas City Star. Well done, Mac. He's a great guy and great newspaper guy. KC is lucky to have him.

    Anyway, I found this interview he did with Karen Brown Dunlap, president of the Poynter Institute, back in 2004 before he took the KR corporate job. The most interesting part for me:

    Dunlap: What's one thing you wish you could call back?

    Tully: Gosh. Biggest mistake I've made. I've made a few big mistakes. I think I would have tried to work with the Dallas papers, instead of being such a competitor of the Dallas papers, because in the end we have got to start growing our share of advertising dollars. If we don't ... then we're going to continue to have the kind of cost pressures that we have now. We should be working together to solve problems as opposed to fighting each other. It became so competitive and such an adversarial fight that there was no way ... for either paper to back out gracefully. So in the end, we said one paper had to walk away the winner. I do feel as though newspapers have so many enemies — not other newspapers. We should be working together to take out ADVO and we should be working together to fight TV and radio. We would be stronger if we were working together rather than trying to compete with each other.

    It was crazy to hear him say that because I remember thinking that same thing at the time. But that was a long time ago and newspapers have earned a lot of hard lessons since then. And it looks like there may be more to come, especially with McClatchy reporting yesterday that its stock is down 31 percent since the close off last year's acquisition of Knight Ridder.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    A Year Older, But Not Wiser

    Dave Barry once wrote that there is an age to stop expecting people to make a big deal over your birthday and that age is 12. Well, today is my birthday and I don't expect anyone to make a big deal over it, but sometimes, it happens anyway. And I am much older than 12.

    So here I am. I just finished lunch with my colleagues at Chic Barcelona (or, as I like to say, Bar-THE-lona) and you can see what I had pictured at the left -- rotisserie chicken with a side of of roasted apples and grilled asparagus. We also had an appetizer of olives, pan con tomate -- toasted bread slices rubbed with tomato, salt, pepper and virgin olive oil with some slices of manchego -- and a shot of gazpacho. Washed all this down with a bottle of tempranillo so I've got a nice little red wine dronk right now and I'm not anticipating much productivity this afternoon.

    Tonight, I'm going to party like it's 1959 -- red meat, martinis, champagne and Sammy Davis Jr. Schmelkus, babe!

    Is There A Blue Texas in the Future?

    When I attended the Breakfast With Burnham event last month, Lon said something that I dismissed at the time at partisan-speak. Lon believes that the Democrats have a chance to capture the State House in the next election cycle. I've more or less resigned myself to living in a Red State for the foreseeable future, so I really just wrote off the comment. That is until I read this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

    Royal Masset, a political consultant and longtime political director for the Republican Party of Texas--who played a key role in organizing the grassroots support that took the GOP from marginality to an overwhelming majority--has been predicting a reversal for years.

    "There's a certain inevitability in demographics," he told the WSJ. "We knew that if we could win 40% of the Hispanic vote," as Mr. Bush did in 2004, "we'd control Texas until 2030." But in 2006, the number of Texas Hispanics who voted Republican fell to between 30% and 35% (depending on the poll).

    This shift alone spells trouble for Republicans. Many conservatives may not want to hear it, but Mr. Masset puts the blame on talk radio and cable TV reaction to immigration reform. He says an uncompromising attitude toward comprehensive reform and appeals to fear sometimes carry a whiff of racism that alienates Hispanics.

    And if the demographic shift continues to gain momentum, there's a real possibility that Democrats could achieve a majority in the Texas House by 2010. In 2003, Tom DeLay helped redraw the state's congressional districts to give Republicans six new seats in Congress. In just a few years, Democrats could turn the tables. Mr. Masset sums it up this way: "This thing with the Latino vote is deadly serious."

    Wow. Could this be true, or is this some doom-and-gloom prediction designed to whip up the Republican base? I haven't been able to imagine a Democrat who could win in a run for a statewide office until I saw this guy -- State Rep. Rick Noriega (pictured above). He'll announce today the formation of an exploratory committee leading up to a U.S. Senate campaign.

    Noriega, a five-term House member from Houston and a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. armed forces, who spent most of 2005 running training facilities in Afghanistan as part of the Texas National Guard. Noriega also ran a National Guard border-security operation in Laredo, and Houston Mayor Bill White had him manage the housing of Hurricane Katrina evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

    "As Americans, it is our duty to stand up and speak when things have gone off the rails," Noriega, 49, said in an Independence Day posting on several Democratic-leaning Internet blogs. "It is in our very fabric, our soul; it is God's requirement of us as heirs to the legacy of this country, to exercise the right to speak out as our forefathers taught us."

    This guy looks like a world-beater, or at least a Cornyn-beater. And it looks like he'll be in town Thursday to help Lon Burnham celebrate his birthday at the Botanic Gardens. I think I'll try to drop by and check that out. For more information on Rick Noriega, check out the Draft Rick Noriega blog.

    Doug and Jill Bryan ... In Print!

    Doug and Jill Bryan ... those kids are going to be alright. Check out this nice little write-up on the dynamic duo at Lakewood Now.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Thoughts on the Fort Worth AIA List

    Well, I am sort of overdue in commenting on the Fort Worth AIA list of their "25 favorite buildings." I guess I wasn't in too much of a hurry because I didn't have many disagreements with the list and I felt that Kevin pretty well covered everything at Fort Worthology (as he always does).

    That being said, I feel more or less compelled to tackle the issue since Anthony Mariani at the FWWeekly tagged me with his kind words. So here goes.

    Favorite 25 buildings ... where? Fort Worth? I assume so. But what are the parameters? Is Granbury eligible? Weatherford? Lipan? The rules don't seem to be defined. If the greater Fort Worth area is eligible, I'd like to say I really like that cool little house in Burleson that was in Dwell a few years back. Richard Wintersole’s Young Residence in Burleson (pictured above) deserves mention far more than the Anne Bass residence designed by the great modernist architect Paul Rudolph for the simple reason that it is far more relevant to most people than Anne Bass’ great white whale. Sure, it may be a great building, but if architecture is an artform that you don't just see, you experience it.

    Where is the Bass residence located? I couldn’t tell you. I’ve never even seen anything other than a fuzzy, Zapruder-esque picture of it. Neither have many of the architecture geeks around the Fort. What’s more, neither I nor most people in Fort Worth will ever see it, much less experience it. It is about as architecturally significant as NORAD headquarters because it can be neither seen nor experienced by the unwashed masses.

    The Young Residence on the other hand, can be seen, experienced and probably built if you have $150k-$200k. I could probably go knock on their door, introduce myself and get a tour. And Wintersole is actually a local architect of ability and renown. So what’s the problem? Too modern maybe?

    Another sort-of local architect who got a big “fuck you” on the list was David Schwartz, who designed Bass Performance Hall, the Ballpark in Arlington, Southlake Town Center and a good chunk of the Sundance Square. Funny that his name doesn’t end up on the list because he’s actually designed some of the highest-profile projects in Fort Worth in years.

    However, there’s a word that often comes up with Schwartz: Disney. His projects borrow so heavily from historical antecedents that they are not perceived as having any character of their own. I think that this is selling the man a little short. If you visit Bass Hall, American Airlines Center, the Ballpark, Schwartz’s projects make sense in their architectural context. Yeah, the Bass Hall angels are over-the-top and cheesy, but the building as an architectural experience works.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d personally prefer a Wintersole building over a Schwartz building 10 times out of 10. Of course, since his American Airlines Center was the only local building to make the National AIA 150, I think we can see why the man doesn’t get his props. A little sour grapes.

    But that’s enough time spent defending Schwartz. He can console himself by rolling around on his pile of money. Me, on the other hand, I’m more interested in Anthony Mariani’s Unsung List of Architecturally Significant Buildings in Fort Worth that he’s working on for future FWWeekly issue. I’ll have my thoughts and nominations on that soon.

    D(a)MN, That Hurts!

    Seems like I can't go anywhere these days without running into a former Startlegram colleague. And that's mostly a good thing, because I think that there are a number of very dedicated and talented people who work their butts off to cover Cowtown. I'm flattered that most of these people still remember and want to take a few minutes to talk to me. Guess I wasn't too big an asshole.

    That said, in case you haven't noticed, there is a malaise in media circles these days about the impending death of newspapers. The chatter this past week has mostly regarded a recent Columbia Journalism Review piece on the aftermath of the layoffs at the Dallas Morning News. Not surprisingly, there's more more than a few sour grapes from people who got a pink slip and unease from the people left behind. From the article: "Reese Dunklin, who received a 2004 Livingston Award for Young Journalists, chose not to take the buyout. At thirty-three, Dunklin wants to remain at the Morning News but concedes he is worried about the paper’s future. 'At times you wonder where it’s all headed,' he says, 'because you sense this air of desperation.' ”

    I met Reese once and I thought he was a pretty neat guy, and certainly the Livingston Award certifies him as a rising young reporting talent. While I wouldn't have wanted to be Reese last week -- "Uh, Reese, this is Bob Mong. Have you lost your FREAKING mind?!" -- he nailed the mood in Metroplex newsrooms right now. Most don't feel very confident about the direction of their profession generally and the management decisions of the local papers specifically.

    While it isn't hard to get someone who was pink-slipped to say something bad about the company who cut them loose, I've always had a more compassionate view of the situation. But one of my former S-T friends I saw on Friday, who is also a former D(a)MNer, had an interesting take on the whole situation.

    "I don't feel bad for most of those Morning News people," he said. "What happened there was way overdue. They were overpaid, underworked, arrogant assholes. They would cruise in at 9:30, shoot the breeze, make a few phone calls, then take a long lunch. Maybe -- MAYBE -- do an interview in the afternoon, then leave at 4. They had no idea what it was like other places."

    I have to say I was a little taken aback by this, but then again, there is a particular brand of schadenfreude that comes from former D(a)MNers. It's not just that they feel bitter about shabby treatment they endure there, it's like they feel angry because the Big Bad Belo stole part of their soul, too. But my friend was right about one thing, the folks at the D(a)MN had it easier than most for longer than most. Welcome to reality.

    While the CJR story paints a rosy picture of life for the RIF-fed 30 percent of the newsroom, I have a hard time believing things are quite so good. Sure, Ed Bark’s blog gets lots of (deserved) praise, but he’s still going to be freelancing for the S-T. If blogging paid the bills – and I assure you, it does not – I don’t think Uncle Barky would be taking that on. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he just wants to get back into the local market.

    But if you want the ultimate contrarian POV, read Matt Pulle’s take at Unfair Park. I think this perspective has some merit. The D(a)MN is going through a painful re-focusing process. They are no longer trying to be a national newspaper that sees itself as a peer to the LA Times, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune or the Washington Post. The paper, like the city of Dallas itself, always thought that the eyes of the country were on it. In truth, they weren’t. The D(a)MN never was the paper it thought it was.

    Nonetheless, it is doing some things right. They did man up and basically admit their Web site re-design was a disaster. Now they are trying to fix it. When the Startlegram’s redesign eventually implodes, will the same thing happen in FW? And the only reason I'm implying that the redesign isn't working is a little reporters' mutiny that the S-T sherrifs are trying to keep a lid on. And the fact that everyone I talk who works at or reads the paper hates it. Other than that, it's just my hunch.

    So as fashionable as it is to bag on Belo, there is still some quality journalism going on there. Pulle is right about that. And not all the former D(a)MNers are spending their time sticking it to their former employer -- Manny Mendoza is working on an interesting looking film that gets to the root problem: what’s wrong with American newspapers.

    I don't know how to solve the problem with American newspapers, but I know what I think would make the Metromess's papers a little more compelling: focus on quality over quantity. By being the best at covering the news in their communities, they will make their papers indespensible to their readers and the community. Don't waste your time with "News You Can Use" infotainment. Give me meaningful local news and put it in context. That's what you do. Do it well.

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Interview: Rick Poss -- Out of the Shadows

    Rick Poss possesses a natural sort of cool that many people try to cultivate but few achieve. In Austin music circles, he's known for his incredible guitar prowess that he has displayed with the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, Jimmy LaFave, Jack Saunders, Jim Lauderdale, Greg Trooper, and Bruce Robison, among others.

    But what I've always thought made Rick a cool cat was not his unbelievable guitar playing ability, but rather his graciousness, his wit, his easy manner and his knowledge of all things pop cultural. The man is truly charming in a way that few possess. I've been fortunate enough to call Rick a friend for many years. He was my boss back in my Sound Warehouse days in Austin and I still remember him ribbing me when I bought a stack of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk CDs in an effort to further my jazz education. "Oh," he said with that wicked Rick grin, "You think you like jazz!"

    Rick, of course, knows jazz. And blues. And rock. And film noir. And baseball. I could go on, but let me just say that I always found Rick to be conversant on just about any subject -- and not in a show-off, look-at-me kind of way. Whenever I talk to Rick, I always leave thinking the same thing -- what a great conversation. And what a great guy.

    So in case you haven't guessed, I think Rick kicks ass. That's why I am excited about his first-ever solo CD, The Dying Man, which you can buy from Waterloo Records in Austin, starting July 17. So now that Rick is stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight, I thought maybe we needed to talk a little and share our conversation.

    The Caravan of Dreams: Why did you decide now was the time for the solo CD?
    Rick Poss: I had some time between projects and had been writing a lot of material that I couldn't use as a side man. After the death of my father in 2001 I had a nagging thought that I needed to leave something of my own behind. I guess it was just the combination of things, the time, the songs, the feeling.

    TCoD: Where did the title come from?
    RP: The Dying Man is a tribute both to the late John Fahey and my father. Fahey passed away while I was recording the record. He had done loads of work about death and dying, the blues and spiritual issues and since my father was a preacher there was a vague connection to me, a sort of tie in between the two passings. I also feel that songs are often about relationships and with the passing of a relationship can come the feeling of death or ultimate loss.

    TCoD: I know your love of noir fiction and film noir was a huge influence on the CD. How did you incorporate that into the lyrics and sound of the record?
    RP: I think that blues and detective stories have the man against the world in common. A man in search of truth or in search of honor is a common theme in both. The cover art as well has to do with a sort of noir quality. I often write songs from the title first. Titles like "No Answer," "Double Cross," "Lucky 7" are all movie titles. The sound I was going for in "Double Cross" particularly was like a jazz singer, maybe Chet Baker, that could be easily found in a noir sound track.

    TCoD: What kind of a reaction are you getting from people who have only known you as the guy who plays guitar? People actually get to hear you sing!
    RP: Many people have heard me sing in other bands, bits and pieces along the way. I have fronted bands since I started playing. Strangely, there are those who remember me more that way. I guess a few folks, when they heard I was making a CD, asked if it was all instrumental... I got a kick out of that!

    TCoD: My favorite song on the album is "Apologies Don't Come Easy." It's just kind of a straight-ahead rocker. Can you talk a little about how that song came together?
    RP: The sound of the song, the delivery, is somewhat like my music in the 80's. The subject or the character in the song needed to be a guy with an attitude. I've known plenty of people like that, as we all have. I think it's hard for most of us to apologize, even if we need to.

    TCoD: I've always thought of Jimmy LaFave's Buffalo Return to the Plains as kind of minor Texas classic. What are your memories of that recording session?
    RP: Minor? Really, I have Jimmy to thank for giving me so much space on the record. I'm all over it. He was very generous. The basics were a struggle. The drummer was new, the keyboard was new, and so was I, so it took us a while to gel. After a couple of days in the studio, I think we really came together and began to work as a unit. That's really magic when that happens. I agree that it's a great record and probably at the time the best work I had ever done.

    TCoD: You also played on Alejandro Escovedo's Gravity. A lot of famous names on that one: Turner Stephen Bruton, Lou Ann Barton, Bruce and Charlie Robison. What are your memories of recording that album?
    RP: Alejandro is such a great storyteller. It was easy! The ablum was quite different from our live performances from the period so then it took a while to come together. Oddly, most of the people you mentioned were not in the studio at the same time. Years later when I played with Bruce, I joked that we were on the same record and he didn't realize what I meant.

    TCoD: You studied guitar with Paul Buskirk and Chris Florey (Benny Goodman)? What are the lessons that lasted from your time studying with them?
    RP: Paul was a genius, who could play anything. He co-wrote "Night Life" with Willie Nelson and played anything with strings on it! Chris was a great sing player who showed me lots of chords and how to use them in a very different way than I had ever thought possible. The chords in "Double Cross" would not have happened without Chris showing me jazz inversions. I was lucky to run into them both when I did. The right instruction at the right time can make all the difference.

    TCoD: I know that you are quite a record collector? What are a couple of records that have most influenced your development as a guitarist?
    RP: The Blues Breakers record with Eric Clapton, Texas Blues by Lightin' Hopkins, all the Robert Johnson stuff, and A Man and His Blues by Buddy Guy ... Really there is so much it's hard to choose!

    TCoD: Tell me again, WHY are you a New York Yankees fan?!
    RP: Two words: Roger Maris.

    TCoD: One of things I remember about you is you are quite a student of the JFK Assassination? Are you a conspiracy guy or a Lee Harvey Oswald guy?
    RP: You know the answer to that! Seriously, I've always felt Jack Ruby should be considered the central character of that drama. When you think of it that way, it changes everything.

    Thanks, Rick! Hope to see you in Cowtown soon.

    Hipster Librarians -- Dewey Dare?

    What hipper than a librarian? NOTHING!

    Here's the burning question answered: "How did such a nerdy profession become cool — aside from the fact that a certain amount of nerdiness is now cool? Many young librarians and library professors said that the work is no longer just about books but also about organizing and connecting people with information, including music and movies. And though many librarians say that they, like nurses or priests, are called to the profession, they also say the job is stable, intellectually stimulating and can have reasonable hours — perfect for creative types who want to pursue their passions outside of work and don’t want to finance their pursuits by waiting tables." Maybe I should've gotten into library science after all.

    For more information, check out Librarian.net -- puttin' the rarin' back in librarian.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    What The Hell Is An Aluminum Falcon?!

    I love me some Star Wars. And I love me some fake Star Wars too. If you haven't checked out the Robot Chicken Star Wars parody from Adult Swim, you need to watch this. Who would have thought Seth Green could do something so funny?

    Facing The Nation

    Ken isn't the only old Fort Worth guy getting headlines for his musical ability, turns out Bob Schieffer has a sort-of country music band called Honky Tonk Confidential that The New York Times described as "Johnny Cash meets Rex Harrison." And though Ken likes the wifebeater, Bob is sporting a TCU football jersey and shades. Not bad for a 70-year-old. Something new to shoot for Ken.

    Happy (Belated) Birthday to Ken

    I missed the 50th Birthday Party for my man Ken the Stash Dauber at The Wreck this past Saturday. But that doesn't mean I don't care. Has anyone ever made 50 look so young? Check out Ken and his Stoogeaphilia mates playing "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Ken's rocking the wife beater. Peace out!