Sunday, September 11, 2011

Air Force Artist's Paintings Capture 9/11 Heroism

"Ground Zero, Eagles on Station" by Rick Herter
Aviation artist Rick Herter built a career out of two of his childhood passions: airplanes and art. His success as an artist would soon intersect with history, however, when the U.S. Air Force called on his talents after the attacks of September 11. Herter was asked to capture the Air Force response in the first moments of the War on Terror, and the resulting paintings have become a source of inspiration to many, including those in our armed forces.
Like most Americans, Herter first heard of the 9/11 attacks through media reports.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sure, Dallas Morning News, you can steal my scoop

Around 1:30 pm on Thursday, July 21, The Dallas Morning News ran the Oswald t-shirt story on their website's main page, on their "Scoop Blog." Initially, they credited me with breaking the story and linked to my original story on Yahoo. An hour later, using quotes gleaned by their reporter, they changed the story, dropping any mention of me and re-writing the story as if they dug it up themselves. I guess they define "scoop" as taking someone's work without the courtesy of an acknowledgment.

A basic rule of thumb in journalism requires that you cite your original source if you did not break the story. That does not always apply on national stories, but in this case, they should have at least acknowledged that I broke the story. On Friday, they wrote a feature story about it for their online and print editions and still did not even give me a shout out. Or a mention, Or a link. Or even the finger. I guess when you are the big dog, you can blow off independent journalists like myself and use our work as your own.  

A big thanks to NBC-DFW, Pegasus News, and the other sites who linked to my story and gave me credit. As a freelance writer for Yahoo, a portion of my pay is based on readership. When The Dallas Morning News doesn't have the courtesy to acknowledge my story, which they used to write a story on their own on a page full of ads, it costs me in actual dollars. Stay classy, Morning News.

Is the Texas Theatre's Oswald shirt in bad taste?

A new T-shirt being sold by the historic Texas Theatre in Dallas is getting a lot of attention - and criticism - from local residents. Detractors say the shirt is in poor taste, while supporters say it is art that reflects the theater's history.

The shirt in question features the mugshot of Lee Harvey Oswald , the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Oswald was arrested at the Texas Theatre a short time after the assassination, forever linking the tragic events of 1963 with the movie house located in the north Oak Cliff section of Dallas . Some critics are claiming that the T-shirt, which can be viewed at The Texas Theatre's Facebook page, is disrespectful of the tragedy and is using Oswald's infamy to make money.

Jason Reimer of Aviation Cinemas, who operates the Texas Theatre and created the T-shirt, said it is about accepting history. For better or worse, Oswald's arrest at the theater (which Reimer prefers to call "the incident") has defined the theater's identity. "Dallas has not come to terms with a lot of its history," he said. "Oswald is a part of the theater's history. Everyone knows it. We are acknowledging it."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Try saying "Calatrava Bridge" three times fast

I had the chance recently to write about Dallas' new Calatrava Bridge and the plans the city has for the area. To read it, just click right here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

7-11's Free Slurpee Day celebrates an American tradition

Mark your calendars, America: Monday, July 11, is Free Slurpee Day at 7-Eleven. To commemorate its 84th birthday, the convenience store chain plans to give away 5 million free Slurpees to hot, thirsty people at over 8,600 locations in North America in an event officially known as 7-Eleven Day.

One might think that giving away so many free Slurpees would put a dent in 7-Eleven's bottom line, but according to the company, they sell enough Slurpees each year to fill 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It sounds like they can afford it.

The free Slurpee tradition began in 2002 with 7-Eleven's 75th birthday , but for most of us, the personal tradition of shopping there goes back much further. Indeed, 7-Eleven is part of our social fabric, a concept uniquely American yet shared with the rest of the world at over 41,000 global locations.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not everyone's a Pepper, apparently....

I had the chance to cover the lawsuit Dr. Pepper is bringing against Dublin Dr. Pepper for apparently being too successful and offering a great product. Seriously.

To read all about it, and see how fans are reacting, click right here. There's even a "I Support Dublin Dr. Pepper" page on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League's Preservation List

I failed to post a link to my article about the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League's efforts to save significant structures around the area. It was posted to Yahoo News two weeks ago, but you can read it for yourself right here. You can find out more about the League right here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Most Powerful People in Dallas

My latest column for Yahoo counts down the ten most powerful people in Dallas (you can read it right here). While I expected disagreement, I didn't expect it to blow up the way it did. It seems most folks are upset at my inclusion of John Wiley Price at #2 on the list. The reasoning by some readers, as best I can tell, goes something like this: JWP is a racist, I don't like him, so he shouldn't be on the list.

Should I make excuses for who I put on the list? Normally I wouldn't, but I think it is important to realize that not liking someone does not diminish the realities of county politics. Anyone who knows me and has read my past work knows I am not a personal fan of Price, but I cannot deny that the senior member of the county commissioner's court has a lot of sway in this community. My original column went into more detail on Price, specifically his shortcomings, and how that negatively affects us all. It was edited for length, but even so, I think my point was clear.

If folks want to have a problem with my choice of Price at #2, I say complain all you want. I also suggest you sit in on a few county commissioner meetings (held at the School Book Depository in Dealey Plaza). You will soon see why I have him on the list, and you'll probably agree with me. Either way, I think we can all agree that being one of the most powerful people in Dallas doesn't make you a good person. It is one of the reasons why Dallas has the problems it does. Our leaders define our community, good or bad.     

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Yahoo article about Oak Cliff development

My latest Yahoo article covering local news in Dallas looks at all the recent commercial and residential development popping up in Oak Cliff. To read all about it, click right here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dallas County Commissioners are at it again

You DO get the government you deserve. After Dallas voters effectively put John Wiley Price and several of his good friends (including former neighbor Elba Garcia) in charge of Dallas County, decorum and transparency have gone out the window. The latest shenanigan involves Commissioner Price submitting a plan for new district boundaries for their positions. That would be fine, had anyone actually known this was going to happen. Instead, Price submitted the plan and it was voted in by the Democratic majority in a matter of minutes. No one got to see the plan beforehand or comment on it.

The action would have hardly made news had not Commissioner Maurine Dickey pitched a fit about it. The new plan changes the boundaries of her district enough to include Democratic neighborhoods, which would likely give Democrats an additional seat during the next election. Commissioner Mike Cantrell, a Republican who has sided with Price on many occasions, saw few changes to his district, leaving him safe for re-election.

When the Dallas Morning News reported on the issue, they seemed more concerned about Dickey's outburst (she claimed she would gladly go to jail just to have her objections heard), than by Price's backroom maneuvers. Of course, they missed the point: Dickey is not running for re-election, so she has no personal stake in changes to her district boundaries. Why, then, would she protest so much? Perhaps it is because Dickey is arguing about something much greater than personal political survival. She is holding her fellow commissioners to account. She wants their motives to see the light of day, and she wants us to take notice.

Price's changes, had he submitted them to the public and media in advance, would almost certainly have passed anyway. So why didn't he do that? Why not be more forthcoming? The answer is simple: Price is trying to avoid the citizen uprising that occurred when he railroaded Bruce Sherbet out as head of the elections department. He knows with his short temper, he is likely to have another "white people can go to hell" moment. Why stir up all that trouble when your fellow commissioners will help sneak changes in?

Commissioner Elba Garcia promised transparency at the Commissioner's Court when she took office. Now, the only things transparent are their lies: we all see through them.   

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

4/19/2011: We have no fate but what we make

According to the Terminator movies, today was the day Skynet became self-aware and started Judgement Day by nuking us all. Didn't think much of it, until my computer lost its web connection, then crashed. Then, I heard lightning outside. Gotta admit, I peed myself a little. Hasta la vista, sanity.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dallas politics have become embarrassing

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has made headlines again, but his antics are now getting national attention, as the rest of America is wondering how a major metropolitan city can have a racist loon holding a major political office. In case you missed it, Price told a group of people speaking at a recent commissioners meeting that since they were all white they could "all go to hell."

Local citizens are upset that Price railroaded the current county elections administrator (Bruce Sherbet) out of office for no real reason other than the fact that he refused to play along with Price's political games. There have been multiple charges over the years of voter fraud in south Dallas, mostly against Democrats loyal or in league with Price. Sherbet was well liked by Republicans and Democrats alike, and his departure is a blow to fair and honest elections in Dallas County.

Finally, it looks like our local media and political leaders are holding Price's feet to the fire. Citizens are planning to attend all future meetings to voice their displeasure with Price, and even his biggest supporters are falling silent. Unfortunately, Price remains popular among voters in the area of south Dallas he represents. Whether or not they will decide to make a positive change remains to be seen.

Of course, the Morning News had plenty of chances to call Price out for his actions before, but during the 2010 elections, they actively criticized County Commissioner Ken Mayfield, the only other commissioner to stand up to Price, for being too uncivil. They blamed him, not Price, for the constant fighting on the commissioner's court, and endorsed his opponent, Elba Garcia. Mayfield was voted out, and Garcia is now falling in line behind Price, not criticizing anything he has to say. Had the Morning News, the rest of the local media, and the voters held Price to a higher standard, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dear Time Warner Cable: Se Habla Ingles!

Several times now, Time Warner Cable has sent me letters and flyers offering me their other services (I already get my cable from them). For some reason, however, they send me correspondence in Spanish. I've never spoken to TWC in Spanish when I call them for service, so I assume they are seeing my last name and guessing I don't speak a lick of English. I can't decide if this says more about Time Warner's attitude towards Latinos, or the reputation of Latinos in general.

Contrary to popular belief, Time Warner Cable, Latinos DO speak English. Some of us were, believe it or not, born in this country and can communicate without you trying to cater to us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Super Bowl articles for Yahoo Sports

Yahoo Sports asked me to write several articles about the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for those attending the Super Bowl. If you'd like to check them out (especially if you're looking for somewhere to go before or after the game) the articles are linked below:
Local Guide: Public transport to and from Super Bowl XLV
Local Guide: Where to eat before going to Super Bowl XLV
Where to go after the Super Bowl XLV in Arlington

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thanks for nothing, Dallas Morning News

I try not to criticize the Dallas Morning News too much, especially since they've given me so many opportunities in the past, but then again, a little healthy criticism never killed anyone.

In yet another case of "what were they thinking," posted audio of - gasp - GUNFIRE on New Year's Eve in Oak Cliff. There is no context or additional information given about the audio, except that the minute long clip was recorded somewhere in Oak Cliff. Now, the Morning News has spent the better part of two years analyzing and investigating Dallas' southern sector and how best to address the needs there. One problem is that, despite the progress, Oak Cliff can't shake its poor reputation. Why, then, would they continue to perpetuate the image that Oak Cliff is a war zone unfit for anyone to live in? Is this even really news?

We can't even be sure if all the sounds we are hearing in the clip are actual gunshots. Some of them certainly sound like it, but it could be a lot of fireworks as well. It's also not unusual to hear this in parts of north Dallas and the suburbs, so why bother posting it? We know it's a common occurrence in the OC, but without verification, context, or even location, what's the point other than to make the area as a whole look bad? We get enough stereotyping, and we don't need any more from our only major daily, thanks Morning News.