Could Dallas Host the Olympics?

With Dallas (North Texas) hosting the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the NBA All-Star Game, College Football’s National Championship, is there any possibility that we will host the Olympics? CF

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Yes there is, but only if the people of Dallas get behind the idea. See Dallas’s people are our best assets. You know the Final Four agreed to come to Dallas before AT&T Stadium was even built. We couldn’t take them on a tour of the stadium and show them all the bells and whistles, we had to sell them on the idea of the stadium and what a Final Four in North Texas would be. It’s only one of many examples (more have been provided my popular request here) of why and how the people of this great community have turned a simple stretch of prairie into the home of 7 million people. That’s more than the metro areas of Athens, Berlin, Johannesburg, Barcelona, Munich, and Rome. So if we want the Olympics, we just need to muster our collective to landing them.

There’s a certain drive in the people of Dallas, a certain civic boosterism that has us to where we are today. Columnist A.C. Green once wrote that Dallas has been “led since birth by a citizenry that believed a golden destiny was assigned the place where they lived, taking its ambitions seriously whether anyone else did or not.” That belief as lead us to build airports the size of Long Island, the largest Fine Arts district in the world, to develop and perfect our own cuisine (Tex-Mex) and even make scientific breakthroughs (integrated circuit). We, as a town and a region, succeed where others fail because we don’t rely on scenic beauty, natural resources or strategic location for our success. We rely on ourselves. When it comes to the Olympics, it’s just a matter of deciding to pursue them. Of deciding to marshal the best assets of this city for the purposes of hosting the greatest spectacle of all of sports.

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Openning Ceremony directed by Wes Anderson, starring the Wilson brothers and featuring Willie Nelson

Should we want Olympics? Why the hell not? Anyone who was out and about in North Texas for the Final Four could feel something special in the air. A certain energy that only happens when some of the best athletes in the country live out their hopes and dreams in front of 100,000 of the most dedicated and enthusiastic fans. Now take that energy, bottle it up for 4 years, and then multiply it 50 fold. The Final Four is the pinnacle of one sport for one country that occurs once a year. The Olympics are the pinnacle of several dozen sports for several hundred countries that happens only once every four years. If you thought the fun./Springsteen show was amazing (and many did) the Olympics would replicate three different shows of the same quality each night for two straight weeks. All of us should want to host the Olympics. We should want to witness the pageantry of the games, the grace of the athletics, and the spectacle of the ceremonies. We have civic mottos telling us to “Think Big,” and aspirations to be a world class city. Well, there is no bigger event than the Olympics, no bigger world class stage. We should want to host the Olympics, simply put, because they are the Olympics.

2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

Be proud.

Now I know some of you may be jumping up and down or breezing through everything above in search of an economic viability argument for hosting the games. Fine go here for a thousand words on the topic. But those who don’t have the time, here’s the back of the envelope math.

It’s not this complicated

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More like this

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Dallas will end up spending less on venues than other cities. We can leverage some of the costs for ancillary (but important) regional goals, and ultimately benefit from a huge amount of increase spending from tourists that will help offset the operational costs of the Olympics. In practical examples, we’ve already built AT&T stadium, the Olympics Village can help revitalize South Dallas, and the lack of tourists in Dallas over the period when the Olympics happen means a large influx of spending that can help to pay drivers, ushers, or cops that we pay to help run the Olympics (many of whom would be local).

Plenty of these signs during the Olympics

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The answer to whether there is a possibility that Dallas could host the Olympics is that Dallas and North Texas has the potential to host the Olympics. Once we realize that potential then the possibility of the Olympics turns into a reality.

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Closing Ceremonies by Robert Rodriguez

 

An Agrument for the Olympics in Dallas

Sure everyone wants to host the Olympics theoretically, but is it economical feasible to host them? The nay-sayer’s argument’s most common refrain is “Olympics, no way, costs too much.” But often there’s little discussion beyond the “they cost too much” refrain. Someone cites a buzzfeed article that says the Olympics costs London 50 billion, or that Russia spent 100 billion and that’s that. But when you really take a look at that argument in reference to Dallas it doesn’t hold as much water has initially they would lead you to believe. In fact an opposing view comes to light.

  • First, the Olympic athletic venues wouldn’t costs us that much because we’ve already built so many of them. We don’t have to build a billion Olympic Stadium or other minor facilities because we’ve already built them. When you start to add up our professional sports venues, our minor league venues, our collegiate facilities, our high school facilities; it doesn’t take very long to realize the assets we already have. Assets that other cities don’t have. I mean how many cities out there have half a dozen high school stadiums that seat 15-20,000?

cotton bowlThe Cotton Bowl is largest stadium in the Americas that’s not a team’s home stadium

  • Leverage athlete housing and other supportive infrastructure costs in areas of the region that need revitalization or would requirement government investment over time. They did it in London, and the Dallas Morning News already suggested that the Fair Park and South Dallas could benefit greatly from revitalization efforts caused by Olympic facilities. Or perhaps downtown Dallas with its millions of square feet of un-used mid-century office buildings. Funding for athlete housing could be leverage to retrofit those buildings and ultimately leave them in modifiable live-work-retail-loft space that would be more favorable to the market.

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Helping South Dallas statler hiton

And Downtwon

  • The operational costs of the Olympics can be used to generate local jobs were the money tends to have large multiplier effects. Many of those who are against hosting the Olympics concede the above two points, but they claim that the operational costs of the Olympics are so great that Dallas should not pursue them. The costs; that includes money for security, for event staff, for drivers and more; will be high. And if we hired a bunch of ushers, cooks, drivers and security guards from out of town, who saved all their money and ultimately went back home after the Olympics were over, then the naysayers would be right. But we aren’t’. If we hire locals, then we’re creating thousands or tens of thousands of jobs for the people of DFW. And money in local’s hands tends to get spent or reinvested locally a second or third time creating a multiplying effect of each dollar. Now where does that money initially come from, well speaking of.

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Local Jobs Abound

  • Operational and other costs can be partially recouped by the increased spending of tourists brought by the Olympics. The Olympics will bring tourists to Dallas, tourist that wouldn’t normally be in Dallas. They will spend money here, money that would not normally be spent here. That increase in spending will help to pay for the costs. And before you point out that this didn’t work out so great for Athens, I’d like to remind you that Athens is a popular tourists destination in the summer for Ivy League trust fund kids, European Royalty and African Despots regardless of whether or not the Olympics are in town. Dallas in the summer is not a top tourist spot. The increase spending from tourists in Dallas will be far far greater.

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  • Lastly, it’s not all about the costs. Looking at the above four paragraphs from a results point of view, you’d see all the benefits Dallas receives from the Olympics. We would have built or more likely upgraded a number of world class athletic venues. We would have begun the process of revitalizing certain areas. We would have created thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions or perhaps several billion in economic activity locally. Taking it further, with all those important decisions makers in town, think of the connections to made, deals to be hashed out, and contracts to be inked. And for you non-profits out there, think of the all the fund-raising galas to be thrown or big donations to be courted. I could go on and on about all the benefits, but I’m fairly confident in saying that pretty much everyone from poorest school children, to the wealthiest billionaires will benefit in some way if the Olympics come to Dallas.

In short the argument is that, it won’t costs as much as people say, we can leverage some of that money to help do other things in Dallas, much of the money will go into the hands of locals and come from the wallets of tourists, and the many benefits of the Olympics ultimately outweigh the costs.

I know that some of you out there can’t wait to point out the one problem unaddressed in this argument so far, mass transit. I saved that for the last because I believe that it best sums up the whole argument. If we pursue the Olympics, and the Olympic Committee tells us the only thing getting in the way of the Olympic is that we need an expanded and intensified mass transit system, well our history shows that we’ll build it. If we’re truly determined to host the Olympics, and will do anything to host them, then we’ll build the transit system. There are recent local examples like the DCTA or the Oak Cliff Street Car where we built rail lines. And there are initiative proposals to fund and build others. So it’s possible, we just need to political capital to see that it’s accomplished. And speaking of capital yes, it will cost a lot of money to build the rail line(s). But we’ll be leveraging those costs with the costs of Olympics. In simple terms if the line will costs 100 dollars to build, and we have access to 10 dollars in some types of grants or private funding that won’t be available unless the Olympics came to town, well then it’s actually cheaper to build the rail line with the Olympics. The rail line(s) also creates a number of jobs, and we’re left with the benefits of having an expanded and intensified transit system after the Olympics are over.

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Russia built a rail line for the Winter Olympics.  Dallas surely could do the same.

Examples of Dallas Following its “Golden Destiny”

A.C. Green once wrote that Dallas has been “led since birth by a citizenry that believed a golden destiny was assigned the place where they lived, taking its ambitions seriously whether anyone else did or not.” Below are a few of those examples

Historically, Dallas has thrived not because of nature or providence, but by the collective will of its citizens. It goes back to our founding. Dallas wasn’t founded by a government as a natural fort, or by some company as a mining camp, nor did merchants flock to our town’s natural harbor or port, and farmers didn’t congregate here because of our great climate or soil. No we were founded by one man. One singular solitude man, who was so determined to build a great city that it literally drove him mad. His vision, determination, and ambition helped Dallas get off the ground and begin its growth.

63e3828fd7a0b6a41bf94110_LThe man on the left John Neely Bryan founded Dallas

It doesn’t stop with him though. Early settlers in the 1840’s (all twenty of them) were so convinced that Dallas was a great community that they persuaded the state (technically the Republic at the time) to build the very first state highway through our tiny town. Several decades later in the 1870s, town fathers bribed one railroad to run its north/south line through Dallas, and then they tricked another railroad to run its east/west line through the town. And by tricked, I mean something straight out of Blazing Saddles, or to use an up to date reference, we “Frank Underwooded” them a la House of Cards to come to Dallas. As a result of the junction of those two railroads, Dallas became a hub for commerce and a 19th century center for trade.

There’s also the story of the aviation firm that was planning on moving to Dallas from Connecticut in the 1950’s, but discovered at the last minute that the runways at Love Field were too short. When they called mayor R.L. Thornton to tell him the bad news, he told them “…hold on a minute let me call you right back.” He called back later that day to let them know that construction had just started on lengthening the runways at Love, and that it would be finished within the month. What Dallas wants, we get.

Perhaps the best example for the purposes of the Olympics comes from another story involving Mayor R. L. Thornton and Dallas’ bid to host a prestigious event. In the early 1930’s, the state of Texas was debating which city would host the states’ centennial celebration which was to coincide with a World’s Fair of such. The celebration would be a large and elaborate event, a spectacle spanning several weeks, in which people predicted would bring in millions of visitors, create thousands of jobs, and generating millions in the local economy.   When the state was deciding where to hold it (Austin as the state capital had been taken of out of contention), there were two clear favorites. San Antonio, with its cultural and historical significance (i.e. the freakin’ Alamo, was one favorite). As was Houston, the largest city in Texas, a port city (very important in the 1930’s) and the closest big city to the battlefield of the final decisive victory in the War for Texas Independence. Dallas was in the running but considered an afterthought, as we lacked the cultural and historical depth of San Antonio, or the size and accessibility of Houston.

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Notice this doesn’t say Houston or San Antonio

 Funny thing happened though. Dallas won the bid. How? It was a combination of our package of incentives, our salesmanship, and our politicking. We offered more in our bid, more land to host the celebration, more building for the states’ use, and more money to help cover the operational costs. We also sold the s*** out of our bid. Dallas if nothing is a town with some of the best salesmen. We presented such a vision of what the celebration would look like that in the end it was more appealing than the other cities. Then ultimately, we also won the politicking game. I mentioned early that Dallas “Frank Underwooded” a railroad to come to Dallas, R.L. Thornton wasn’t exactly Frank Underwood, he was more like LBJ but without the presidential ambitions. Thornton, along with civic and business leaders, were so determined to win the bid that they shook more hands, slapped more backs, and made the deals that helped win Dallas the host privileges. In short we out sold, outbid and out worked the other cities. People in Houston are still bitter about Dallas’ tactics and the way things went down.

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Okay not really

For a more modern day example, take Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban is the personification of a Dallasite. He bought what was literally the worst team in the NBA. A laughing stock of a franchise that hadn’t had a winning seasons in a decade. But he was convinced that he could build a championship team. He went about building a roster centered around an awkward 7-foot jump shooting German. He surrounded that German with cast-offs, rejects from other teams, players past their so-called primes. The majority of the NBA didn’t take his team seriously. No one thought they could win. They worked their way through the playoffs with each successive win seemingly more improbable than the last to the majority of sports writers. In the NBA finals they came up against a team that every odds maker in the country labeled as a favorite. The Mavericks ran into a team that had been built with the high priced free agents to win back-to-back-to-back-to-back titles. No one thought the Maverick’s group of “no-names, has beens, and never weres,” could win. That is except Cuban, his coaches, and players. I’ll go back to that quote from A.C. Green, the one about Dallas’s people believing in some grand golden destiny for their city, and taking it seriously as others didn’t. Cuban believed in that golden destiny for his team, whether anyone took his beliefs seriously or not. As it turns out they should have. The Mavericks won.

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He believed in his golden destiny, no pun intended

 

Tracking down the Oldest Bar in Dallas

What’s the oldest bar in Dallas?  AH

To begin with, booze and bars have always been big in Dallas.  The very first store in Dallas in the 1840’s sold nothing but fabric for clothes and whiskey.  Early Dallas was a frontier town with saloons like Dick Flanginan’s (featuring boxing every Tuesday) all along north Main Street and dance halls to the southwest.  Dallas even had its own opium’s den in downtown, The Black Elephant run by Charlie Chunn.  An account of Dallas in the 1890’s said that it had, “a nice lemonade stand, an ice cream parlor, and three hundred saloons.”

One of these

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Three hundred of these

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But the oldest bar, well got to admit it, this isn’t the easiest question to answer.  And in fact I don’t have a simple “this is the oldest bar in Dallas” answer below.  There are questions as to what constitutes a bar. Is a fancy restaurant that serves food and booze a bar?  How about a place with live music and booze?  Furthermore, when do you mark the beginning of a bar’s existence?  If either ownership or the operators change, is it still the same?  What if it moves but keeps the same concept, employees and ownership?  I don’t have the answers to those questions, rather I have several contenders below which you yourself and make the determination about the oldest bar in Dallas.

Ships

Let’s begin with an example of how complicated defining a bar and it’s beginning is .  Consider The Loon on McKinney.  The Loon itself has been around for almost thirty years in the same place, under the same ownership, with the same concept, which is quite old for Dallas nightlife.

 

The-Loon

The Loon

But before it was known as the Loon, it was operated under different ownership and known as Joe Miller’s.  Before that it was operated as the Villager Club a cool jazz club in the 1960’s.  Further complicating the matter is the fact that The Loon itself will soon be moving (if it hasn’t already) to make way for some CVS or bank or parking lot.  The march of progress is a common reason for older bars in Dallas not being around.  Anyways, when The Loon reopens at a different location, which date does one consider its beginning?  The current 2014 date, the 1985 date when Joe Miller’s widow sold the place, or even further back to its 60’s roots as a jazz club.  Convoluted right?  Okay let’s try a less complicated example.

Ship’s Lounge on Lowest Greenville.  Ship’s started  slinging beer and wine 61 years ago, and hasn’t changed much since then.  It’s in the same location, with the same concept, with stable ownership, and in some cases bar stools from when it opened.

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Ship’s the same since ’53.

Putting a beginning date on Ship’s is easy, but going back before ’53 it gets complicated again.

Club Schmitz is just as old as Ship’s Lounge, perhaps even older.  Schmitz on Old Denton Drive in northwest Dallas has been serving beer in the same spot since 1946 when German brothers started a bar in an old farmhouse.

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Present day Club Schmitz

But that farmhouse burned down and the German brothers had to rebuild Club Schmitz in 1953.  They rebuilt in the same location but managed to contuinely operate their bar as the brothers sold beer out of coolers to patrons who leisurely drank beneath the trees in the shade.  The same family still owns Club Schmitz and hardly a thing has changed in the past 60 years.

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Yesteryear Club Schmitz.  As you can tell not much as changed

If you’re a not inclined to give Club Schmitz those years before there “new” building was built, then you might consider The Longhorn Ballroom on Industrial.  The Longhorn was built in 1950 by eccentric millionaire O.L. Nelms for his friend Bob Wills.  Bob Wills and his band the Texas Playboys played a lot of early shows at the Longhorn, which is more of a dance hall/honky tonk/punk rock showcase/professional wrestling venue, then a traditional ballroom dancing…ballroom.  Greats like Elvis, James Brown, Otis Reading and The Sex Pistols have all played the Longhorn.   The Pistols show produced this famous quote from Noel Monk’s book, 12 Days on the Road: The Sex Pistols and America. “Sid Vicious’s face is smeared with blood. Not all of it his. The Sex Pistols have hit Texas, and Texas has hit back.”

Also this famous picture.

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The Longhorn Ballroom has been though more than a dozen owners and operates in the past 6 decades. Hell, Jack Ruby even ran it for a while.  And to consider it operating continuously since 1950 is a stretch.

Going further back before 1950 or 1946 and finding pre-war places that are in old buildings with owners and operates that have ties to the originals, and have managed to stay up and running while also staying true their alcohol propitiating ancestors is even more difficult.  The older dance halls and music venues like Lu Ann’s or The Aragon Ballroom are long gone.  The bars and saloons have been bulldozed over like the Loon or Dick Flanigan’s (The Wilson Building circa 1904 now sits where Flangian’s used to be).  And trying to find pre-prohibition places is incredibly tough, because you have to find places that survived by not selling booze while still serving booze but still not “serving” booze.

Beer? What beer?  Oh you mean root beer, yes this is all root beer.

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One place that has stood the test of time is the Adolphus Hotel in Downtown Dallas.  The Adolphus Hotel opened up in 1912 and the restaurant/bar followed in 1916. Originally named the Bambooland Room it was one of the classiest restaurants in town.

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Not what you pictured when you thought of “oldest Bar in Dallas”

The restaurant, now known has the French Room has remained classy, while the bar, now known as “Walt Garrison’s Rodeo Bar” has been developed as cowboy chic for tourists.  The place has had its up and downs, there have been revamps, re-launches including sponsoring an on premises Ice-capades style show for 15 years, so it could be easy to question whether the Adolphus ‘s restaurant and bar are the oldest in Dallas.  However if you can afford having a glass of wine in the French Room, you can make a claim that people have been sitting there drinking wine in the same place, in much the same fashion, for almost 100 years.  And as far as Prohibition goes, well, Nochi Thompson from Boardwalk Empire will tell you  that as the classiest hotel and restaurant in Dallas, you had to have a way of getting your guests booze.  After all, the Adolphus was built by the heir to the Anheuser-Busch beer brewing empire, Adolphus Busch pictured below.

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The man responible for Busch Light

One last contender I’ll throw out there comes from a social organization.  Dallas has had a lot of social organizations throughout our history, including Masonic lodges, VFW’s, Kiwanis clubs, Knights of Columbus, The Bonehead Luncheon Club, debutante clubs like the Idlewild and even country clubs. As for the oldest bar, I’m going to single out one, the Sons of Hermann.

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Outside of Sons

The Sons of Hermann is a fraternal organization of mainly German-Americans who founded a lodge in Dallas in 1890.  Two decades later in 1911, the four Dallas area lodges pooled their resources together and built a joint Hall for brotherhood, camaraderie, and because their country invented Oktoberfest, for drinking beer.  The building itself hasn’t changed much the past 103 years; it’s still a place for people to gather together to eat, drink, and be merry.  What has changed is how the Sons’ have operated it.  Years ago you had to be a member or a member’s guest to enjoy Sons,  today anybody can walk on in and have a beer at the bar.

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Welcome ya’ll

So there’s that little kink, but other than that the place has remained pretty much the same.  As for the Prohibition problem, well, it wasn’t illegal to brew beer for your own “personal” use.  So if a few Sons (what the members are called) brewed a few gallons every month and brought it down to the beer hall they built to “share” with their friends and their friend’s friends, so be it.

DIBTA: 20 reasons why Dallas Is Better Than Austin

DIBTA – it stands for “Dallas Is Better Than Austin.”

1.  We built a park on top of our freeway.  You built a freeway on top of your freeway.

Austin

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Dallas

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2.  Dirk Freaking Nowitzki.

Both as a MVP world champion athlete

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And as a person (seen here in Kenya with his wife at their wedding.)

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3.  Our biggest contribution to Tex-Mex is the frozen margarita, yours is a contest to see how many potato egg and bacon burritos you can eat.

So famous and delicious that there’s one in the Smithsonian.

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Um…Man V. Food famous?

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4.  An actual African American community with a strong musical history that dates back to Robert Johnson and runs all the way through to Erykah Badu (quick name one black person from Austin that didn’t play for UT).

Dallas

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More Dallas

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Austin

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5.  Roundup is better than, wait do you have any gay cowboy saloon dance club that Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lawrence like?  No, okay just checking.

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Lady Gaga at Roundup (Not pictured Austin)

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6.  We’re not inundated by 200 of the biggest blowhards every other year for several months. (The Texas legislature)

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This looks like a conversation I want to be a part of said no one ever

7.  120 miles of light rail and commuter rail service versus 50 (DART versus the Capital). 

Dallas’s extensive DART network

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Austin’s, um…extensive red line north?

Capital MetroRail Red LineAlso DART’S least busy rail line carries three times as many passengers as the enitre rail system for Austin does.

8.  Our festivals aren’t sponsored by huge corporations, or over run by tens of  thousands of people from LA, Chicago or New York.  But they are headlined by local bands and not arena bands like Coldplay, The Eagles, or Van Morrison. 

Polyphonic Spree playing at Dallas’ Homegrown Festival

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Coldplay? Van Morrison? Journey???? playing at “Target presents the Samsung South by Southwest Festival sponsored by Pepsi.”

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9.  Ron Washington 

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He’s having more fun in life than you Austin.

10.  Arguably the strongest and most vibrant LGBT community in Texas.

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Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has been a proud lesbian for years and the elected sheriff since 2006.

11.  Our “off the beaten path hang out spots” stay that way.  They aren’t inundated by hipsters every weekend and over exposed.

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We like to keep our hidden gems hidden.

12.  Our basketball coach named Rick is better than yours.  (Mavs coach Rick Carlie is better than UT’s Rick Barnes).

Notice the background behind our coach named Rick

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Now notice the background behind yours

rick banres

Hmmmm….what’s the difference

13.  White Rock Lake is better than Barton Springs.  (where’s the Barton Springs Marathon).

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Lake > Spring

14.  Denton is better then Round Rock.

Denton below.

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Round Rock below

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15.  High fashion in Dallas is more then a nice pair of jeans.  Cough, cough Neiman’s  cough.

High Fashion in Dallas (that’s Neiman’s head Stanley Marcus with French designer CoCo Channel at Neiman’s in Dallas)

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As opposed to “High” Fashion in Austin

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16.  Petilocas is better than Live Oak, – at least according to the medals they win at all those American Beer Award thingys.  Haven’t heard of it, well that’s simple you arrogant beer snubs.  It’s because according to their owner, “…calls from Austin to sell his beer there are largely ignored. ‘For years I drove down there for good beer, now they need to come up here.”

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This is Michael Peticolas, founder of Peticolas brewing. If you look closely you can see that he’s flipping off Austin.

17.  Our suburban minor league teams are better than your yours.

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Go Allen Americans!!

18.  Lee Park Easter Hat Derby

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Celebrate Pride

19.  The Red River Rivarly.  The biggest annual football game your team plays doesn’t even happen in your town.  Plus, when do the Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars or Rangers play a meaningful game in Austin.

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Texas-OU at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (Again Not Pictured Austin)

20.  Our skyline. Nobody ever wrote a song about how great Austin looks at night from a DC-9.

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Top Ten Historical Places in Dallas you might not know about

Where are all the big historical places in Dallas – CF

Dallas has no shortage of historical places.  There are over a hundred places list on the National Historical Registry, and more than three hundred places have those historical markers from the state.

Like this one

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And instead of listing the most popular ones, or the best known ones, I’ve listed ten that for various reasons are noteworthy but generally not well known.

The Very First Hilton Hotel – Before Hilton hotels became a name brand, before Paris Hilton became Paris Hilton, even before the founder of Hilton Hotels was portrayed by Chelcie Rose in Mad Men, Conrad Hilton was a small time hotel operator.  His very first hotel to bear his name was the 14 story tall Hilton Hotel in Dallas.  Seen here below shortly after opening.

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Built in 1925 for 1.3 million dollars, Hilton also had his personal office in the building.  Currently it operates as the Hotel Indigo, a chic boutique hotel.

Enjoy Conrad’s first beauty at ­­­­Main Street and S. Harwood Street in Downtown

The First Highway in Texas – Chances are you’ve run by the historical marker for the very first highway in Texas.  Or biked by it maybe.  The first highway in the state was built back when Texas was a republic 170 years ago (yes they had highways before cars).  It ran roughly from Texarkana to Dallas and the road that most closely mirrors its path in present day Dallas is highway 78 or Garland Road.  As such the historical marker is located at the southern end of White Rock Lake above the spillway, right about at the damn.

If this is your view of the lake, turn around and walk up the hill, the marker will be on your left.

white rock spillway

Walk down the same path that the first Texans did at the intersection of San Raphael and Garland in East Dallas.

Sons of HermannThe Sons of Hermann Hall is a 100 year old fraternal hall.  A building that harkins back to an older era and it has more then a few claims to fame.

Known more commonly as “Sons”

sons of hermannFor one, it’s the oldest wood frame two story commercial building in the City.  Okay not impressed, well they filmed part of Robocop there and Kelly Clarkson’s American Idol auditions were there.  Still not, okay, well Pat Green played there, so did Townes Van Zandt, the Dixie Chicks, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Todd Snider and more.  It also happens to be the first spot in Dallas where Robert Earl Keen played, Wlico too.  And that little old band from Dallas, the Old 97’s, played their very first gig at Sons.  If you’re still unimpressed by all that, well it’s haunted too, so there.

Go see ghosts and the next big alt-country band before they get big at 3414 Elm Street in Deep Elbum.

Freedmen’s cemetery – Following the emancipation, small communities of freed slaves began to form on the outskirts of southern cities called Freedmen’s towns.  The largest community in Dallas was located just north of downtown and it thrived for many years.  Known as Freedmen’s Town North Dallas, and later “State and Thomas,”  there isn’t much left of it nowadays.  If you couldn’t tell by the State and Thomas name, the area went through a urban renewal/gentrification period, it’s most commonly referred to today as “Uptown.”  But the Cemetery’s still there, along with a nice memorial to the community.

Pay your respects to generations of African Americans at Central Expy & Calvary Drive in Uptown.

At Eastern Entrance to the Cemetery stands this memorial.

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Lee Park – Lee Park’s an interesting Park with an interesting history.  It’s one of the oldest in Dallas (1909).  President Roosevelt (FDR) dedicated the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee back in 1936 on the Park’s grounds.  There’s even a replicate of General Lee’s home in the Park called Arlington Hall that was built around the same time.  Now fast forward three decades to when Oaklawn had become the happening place for hippies and the counter culture.  In April of 1970, the Park was the scene for the infamous “Lee Park Massacre.”  It wasn’t a massacre just a small hippie riot of 3 or 4 thousand hippies when the police arrested a few kids for swimming in Trutle Creek.  And now fast forward to today where the Park is the scene for the magnificent LGBT community staple, the Lee Park Easter Hat Derby.  Truly one of Dallas’s most unique and wonderful scenes.

The three stages of Lee Park

Confederate

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Hippie

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LGBT

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Go be a Fabulous hat wearing Confederate hippie at 3333 Turtle Creek Blvd in Uptown.

Historic West End Buildings – I’m only picking one of the historic building in the West End to point out.  I’m just going to quote from the historical Marker and let me know when something stops you down.  ‘Constructed in 1909, this building was first occupied in 1910 by the Hobson Electric company. The warehouse was next leased to the Maroney Hardware Company, which was bought in 1926 by Rufus W. Higginbotham”…Rufus W. Higginbotham, quite a name.

I know you’re thinking in your head that this is Rufus W. Higginbotham…but it’s not

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This is Rufus, he was much sweeter, but still very Old World-y

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Not to make light of of the name, but if you’re going to checking out a historic buildings in the West End, might as well have it be this one, seen below

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Enjoy Higginsbothaming at 1701 Market St. in the West End.

Buckner Childern’s home and cabin – Buckner is more than just a road. Buckner was a caring Baptist and earlier settler of Dallas.  He has two large contributions to Dallas history.  First, he started a children’s home for orphanages and abandoned children.  Whish was something of a problem in the early frontier days, by the turn of the century it was helping 500 childern a year.

Buckner’s Charter for a Childern’s home from the 19th century

buckner_application_effieSecond, Buckner and his family watched over Dallas history.  They saved John Neely Bryan’s cabin, the first house, nay the first structure in Dallas.  For years he kept it in the basement of the Buckner Orphanage, and when it was recreated for the World’s Fair in 1936 in Dallas, the City used the remnants of the cabin as a model.

Be reminded of Dallas’s charity and early cabins at 5200 S. Buckner Blvd in Southeastern Dallas.

W. Lee O’Daniel – Quick name the only person in history to defeat President Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) in an election.  Need a hint, he was also the inspiration for Governor Pappy O’Daniels  in the Coen Brother’s movie “O’ Brother Where Art Thou”  Yeah that guy, W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel.   O’Daniels was a radio personality in the 30’s with a catch phrase of “pass the biscuits, Pappy.”   Which come to think of it, is a pretty awesome catch phrase.  He ended up running for and being elected as governor of Texas and then ran for the US senate beating LBJ and serving one term.   He retired to Dallas and founded an insurance agency.

Fake Pappy Signing

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Real Pappy Signing

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Share a biscuit with Pappy at Cedar Springs and Oaklawn (the Triangle) in Uptown.

The Davis Building – There are plenty of historical building in downtown, from the Kirby building, to Union Station, to the old City Hall. And just like with the Higginbothaming Building I’m only going to point out one.  So why point out this building, well there’s the wonderful cupola up top and the history with the Republic National Bank.

The cupola as seen at night on the Davis Building.

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But really it’s the 1991 TV movie “Touch and Die” starring Martin Sheen that was filmed at the Davis Building means that its making this list.  It also stars his daughter, I think.    From the imdb summary “Magenta getting involved with a combination US Presidential Campaign and plutonium smuggling ring and almost ending up dying from radiation poisoning in the process.”  Made for TV movie about plutonium smuggling in 1991, I’m sure it’s awesome.

See where Martin and his daughter made a movie at 1309 Main St. in Downtwon

Anyone of Dallas 57 historic cemeteries – This might be cheating a little bit, but Dallas has some 57 different historical cemeteries.  That’s one per each 15 square miles.  There’s probably one your neighborhood or the neighborhood just over. Other then the Freedmen’s cemetery I mentioned earlier, there’s the French Utopian settlers cemetery from 1850, the migrate workers cemetery from the great Trinity Farm, cemeteries for settlers from New York, Tennessee, and the large Jewish cemetery.  There’s even one cemetery for the Pioneers of Dallas, that’s actually a cemetery created to combine several older cemeteries that had to be moved.  As a last note, I’d point out that these 57 cemeteries doesn’t even include the cemetery where Mickey Mantle is buried here in Dallas.

Pay your respects to men and women how helped create Dallas at some little cemetery likely located around the corner from you.

The weather we just went through is called a “Blue Norther,” and why Dallas doesn’t have a Winter as a Season

Is winter in Dallas always like this – TM

No, because Dallas doesn’t have a winter.  We have a season called “northers” and when it ices over real bad that particular storm is called a blue norther or Texas norther.   Seriously this isn’t just a home spun term, the weather channel acknowledges it.  Here let me explain.

In Dallas we have basically five seasons.  Jim Rogers back in 1951 labeled the best I’ve ever heard

Spring, just regular spring with rain, expect ours come with thunder and lighting, from about the end of February to the beginning of May.

Summer, a fairly pleasant time of clear skies, and temps in the 80s and into the 90s that last from May until mid July

Sol, or Latin for the sun, from July into August where the glare of the sun is the most striking thing about the world for ten to twelve weeks

Autumn or porch weather or the best weather in Dallas from September into December 11, 2013

Norther, i’ll just directly quote Rogers here

The fifth and final season ordinarily begins in December and continues well into February.  It is designed as a Norther and not winter because Dallas does not have winter as the northern part of this country knows it.  Mild sunny weather persists and then icy biting winds sweep straight down from Canada and freeze the marrow of Texan’s bones.  This sudden blast of cold when the temperature drops as much as twenty or thirty degrees in an hour and slides from balmy air and open windows to a howl of wind and ice overnight is as a blue norther.  Northers usually blow themselves out in a few days, the wind changes direction, coming from the south and a gulf breeze once more brings mildness.”

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Notice where the longest dagger is pointing? Right at North Texas and Dallas

Does that sound familiar, kinda like what we just went through?  I’ll remind you that the a few days before the temperature dropped as low as twelve, and we had two inches of solid ice; temperatures in Dallas were as high as 80 degrees.  And though this bleu norther as latest longer than normal, next week temps will be back at 65.

The most famous northers and blue northers in the past few years, include the almost white Christmas of 2011, the Super Bowl week storm, the unseasonably early Thanksgiving Day Leon Lett miscue for the Cowboys.  And personally for me once in the late 80’s early 90’s when the edges of White Rock froze and the child version of me got to take a few closely watched and careful steps on the frozen lake.

The norther that blew down during the Super Bowl Week, wrecked havoc with the Super Bowl

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Lett about to botch a Thanksgiving day game with the Dolphins.  It’s okay Leon, you were a two time Prob-Bowler and won three Super Bowls

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This is partly why snow is Dallas is almost always greeted with excitement and enjoinment by most.  It’s here for a day or two, schools shut down for day maybe, people throw snow balls, sled down Flag Pole Hill on cafeteria trays, take a few pictures, drink a little too much wine or bourbon, and then within a short while, everything’s back to normal; and you see people in short sleeves again.  This can be particularly true for adults that are transplants to Dallas from northern cities.  Those who talk about months of snow on the ground, constant freezing temperatures and blizzards that not only shut people in for longer then a week, but also seriously endanger people’s lives.

What happens when it snows in “Winter”

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What Happens when it snows in Dallas during a “Norther”

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Of course it’s always fun to see these new transplants down here the first time they experienced a good icing and blue norther.  Right before the storm blows in, when the news is talking about SNOW…ICE…AN INCH OF ACCUMULATION…SCHOOL CLOSINGS.  They get all proud and scuff at how we freak out about a inch of accumulation.  Of course they are often the last ones into work, coming in all white faced, asking, “how the hell anyone can drive on this ice, cause they were sliding around all over the place doing 180’s every twenty feet.”  Because though Dan in accounting from Cleveland can drive through four feet of snow fall on the roads, every Dallasite and most seasoned north Texans know how to slide over an inch of ice accumulation on the roads.

Or to just stay put, build a snowman and get drunk.

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