Monthly Archives: April 2014

Come on and slam

 

Dear Mason Brown,

I saw a billboard today advertising an indoor trampoline complex that included a basketball hoop. This brought back fond memories of watching and wishing to play SlamBall. It’s been years since I’ve seen or heard from the sport and wanted to check in.

I played a lot of NBA Jam growing up. Despite its 2 bit graphics, the game was endlessly entertaining for a few key reasons: it encouraged tackling in basketball and it understood people’s desire for huge dunks. SlamBall also also keyed in on these aspects of basketball and brought it a reality. Basically every play was a massive dunk or block. Forget post-up basketball. There was no Tim Duncan in SlamBall (and definitely no Spurs). Every player was somewhere between Blake Griffin and Vince Carter. Pure action.

So where does the sport stand today? Wikipedia says the last year was 2008? Unfortunately, the last I heard/saw of SlamBall was of that gruesome ankle injury. Did that guy ever walk again?

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These are a few of my favorite things

Dear Rembert Browne,

We share an affinity for two particular things: OutKast and South-by-Southwest (not necessarily in that order). I want to briefly lament on these important topics.  First, SXSW.

You and I actually chatted two years ago during SXSW at The Roots/Band of Horses. I thought it was a dope show and up to Roots’ standards, even without ?uestLove. Now that I’ve vainly tried to build some common ground I think we can agree that SXSW is a unique and very special beast. Ten solid days of seemingly random once-in-a-lifetime musical experiences. If you’re organized and a little bit sneaky (how I got into that Roots show) it it is mostly free, drinks included. I could expound on SXSW for days and often do, but you already know. Meanwhile the “traditional” music festival experience of paying $300+ to stand in a field for 3 days to see a lineup that will be exactly repeated in a week has lost all appeal to me. It is This brings me to our other favorite topic:

Outkast.

I too have fantasized at length about what their reunion concert might/could/want to be. I was instantly disappointed when I heard that their tour would be restricted to the mega-festival experience. Your piece on their first show at Coachella confirmed many of my fears about seeing them in that setting. Though discouraged, I will go see them no doubt. I owe it to them. They deserve for me to be there, a fan who knows all the words and will pass their music down to my children.

In a perfect world they would have debuted at SXSW this year, right? Maybe Willie Nelson would have opened for them, who knows.

In The Cut

Dear Bill Minutaglio,

As a writer, you specialized in telling stories from niche African American communities throughout Texas. I currently live in the Hamilton Park neighborhood of north Dallas and I chose to live here for a few different reasons. Primarily, it is because the neighborhood is accessible to the whole city yet still very affordable. Why is it still affordable in a city where the real estate market is bursting at the seams? That’s because it is and always has been a black community. I’ve been reading about the history and establishment of this planned black community and the transitions it has gone through. I’m trying to understand this place. I live here because it is interesting to me and a different world from where I grew up, which ironically is only about 2 miles away.

Your illuminating stories about pockets of black culture are an inspiration to me. I first came across In Search of the Blues through a family friend who knew Louis Canelakes. I was a student at UT and he recommended I look you up. Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet Louie but I understand he was universally loved and is dearly missed. My favorite piece from the book is Congo Street Blues. I found and drove down the street after I read it just to get a first hand point of view.

Do you have any experience with or opinion on Hamilton Park? I hope to write a piece about the area and would love to hear your insight.

Thank you.

RESPONSE:

Dear Hayden — anyone who invokes the name of Louie Canelakes, one of the greatest, smartest men I’ve ever known, will receive a reply from me. It’s quite sad he passed away because 30 minutes spent in an audience with him would have illuminated Hamilton Park and many other things, places, people in Dallas. Dallas is/was a malleable city subject to the whims of wealthy city “sculptors.” That doesn’t make it any different from any other major city. But the point is that things in Dallas don’t  happen by accident. As Hamilton Park was planned, so were many other things that “set Hamilton Park in motion.” There is at least one book out there about the history of Hamilton Park — I have it in my stored archives, so I can’t recall the name right now. But I’m sure you can find it. It is, if I remember right, a good, clinical study of the history and evolution of Hamilton Park. The folks at the Dallas History division at the downtown Dallas Public Library will also steer you to many things in their collection about Hamilton Park — perhaps some archival material that not many people have seen. I wrote a book about Oak Cliff, called The Hidden City, and I was surprised to see how much unread, unseen, local history was in the Dallas History division. My biggest recommendation? Seek out a man named Donald Payton in Dallas. He is the leading historian of “black Dallas” – a wonderful, generous, smart man. He used to be the lone black person at the Dallas Historical Society at Fair Park, and had accumulated pieces of Dallas history that would blow your mind. It blew my mind. Documents, posters, bits of history, letters, that pointed to a city in the grip of unyielding racism.
Dallas was once the headquarters of the national Ku Klux Klan. The Magnolia Building – the one with the Pegasus, the city symbol, on top — was built by a Grand Dragon of the KKK. R.L. Thornton, the former mayor and for whom the highway was named, was a Klansman. A Confederate general was mayor. The Confederate Reunion was held in Dallas. Some of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Dallas, including the one where former President George W. Bush now lives, once had restrictions prohibiting blacks from living there. There were bombings in South Dallas when blacks moved there in the 1950s.  When Dr. King came to visit, a bomb threat was issued. There was white flight in Oak Cliff beginning in the 1950s. What was once called “North Dallas” – and is now the apartment-and-office-complex area immediately north of Woodall Rogers — was a poor black neighborhood that was often visited by arsonists trying to chase black residents out. This was only 20-30 years ago. I would recommend, too, that you read a book called “The Accommodation” by Jim Schutze that explains much of the racial history of Dallas. It is a complex city, for sure — find Donald Payton and he will explain Hamilton Park and many other things to you. 
All the best, 
Bill Minutaglio
Clinical Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Free Boosie

Dear Lil Boosie,

Now that you’re out of jail, I can’t scribble “Free Boosie” in bathrooms anymore. It just doesn’t have the same effect as before. This is a problem for me. I need somebody else, preferably a rapper, to petition for their freedom. And by petition, I mean write it on a bathroom wall. Do you have any suggestions for dudes who might need a bathroom grass-roots campaign manager? I can guarantee at least 100+ views per night, building awareness in specifically targeted areas of the city. All campaign decisions are based on a qualitative study of local demographics and an in-depth understanding of local trending Twitter topics.

If you were as legit as Mac Dre, you might have recorded an entire album through the phone from prison. So now that you’re out of jail, it’s time to get back in the studio and lay down some tracks. Turn the trap up and just get after it please. We’ve been waiting.

Thanks!

Cure for the Crash

Cure for the Crash

Dear Brian Paul,

I picked up a copy of your film while in New Orleans a few weeks ago and just got around to watching it last night. It’s on my bucket list to hop a freight train for a day and see where I end up. I worked this miserable office job where a train that would pass and I would fantasize about where it might take me, away from the confines of my desk and email. I know it’s a dangerous proposition (actually catching the train and getting caught by the yard bosses) and maybe that is part of the appeal, but really its about the endless travel possibilities. I know that I’m not cut out for the lifestyle that you portray in the film, so I’ll settle for a day trip somewhere.

I was expecting/hoping that Cure for the Crash was more of a documentary rather than the “found footage” format you chose. Your talks with the real transient population were what held my interest throughout the film and I wish that had been the overall focus. I understand that the characters you developed were to build a linear story around their daily challenges, but it felt somewhat forced to me. As for learning how to catch a freight train, I’ll have to figure that out myself I guess. Overall though, I’m glad I watched Cure for the Crash.

Thanks

RESPONSE:

Thanks Hayden.

If your out for the adventure… there are no wrong trains out there to board. I always suggest an Amtrak car, the others can harm you. I will never hop a train again.

Thanks for thinking of me and taking the time to write. Safe travels.

Best Wishes,
Brian Paul
…writer.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme

Lord Coy Sevier,

On the fifth day during the four month of our lord’s year two-thousand and fourteen I had the distinct pleasure in attending the opening day of thy seasonal festival, Scarborough Faire. ‘Tis minest utmost pleasure to report that I partook in the libations and turkey legs with the vigor of a well-bred steed. Though the mistresses wandering about thy kingdom left much to be desired,  I did find lady Esmeralda enchanting with her whips and fire and such. As a mere peasant, I hast not the means nor the understanding to supporth the artisans selling their fine goods. Many a laugh wast had at the expense of the numerous village idiots shuffling about, and many a time did I question my own sanity.

Your kingdom, my lord, may be the last bastion of honest adult tomfoolery around.  So the next time I travel to thy his strange and distant land (Waxahatchie), I will hopefully find the true love of mine among the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (just had to drop that reference sorry).

 

 

C.R.E.A.M.

Dear Perry Chen and Yancy Stricker,

First, I wrote you a Haiku:

It starts with passion

Then an idea is born

Now we money

People have great ideas everyday. More often than not, people don’t have the means to bring their ideas to the world which is (or was) a sad fact of life. As a wise man once said “Cash rules everything around me”. Kickstarter fills that void in a beautifully simple way by making philanthropy accessible, for both donors and recipients. I’m continually impressed by the sums of  much that are raised to support peoples’ passions.

I have an interest in all things crowdsourced, especially crowdfunding. More and more crowdfunding platforms are on the market which is exciting, but must present a challenge for Kickstarter. How will you hold down your niche of the evolving crowdfunding market  in the coming years? Do you see these other platforms as direct competition? Of course there is IndieGoGo what are your thoughts on Patreon?

 

In Vinyl We Trust

image (1)

Dear Chris Penn,

Happy Record Store Day! Well it’s basically over at this point, but I wanted to thank you for hosting such a great event today. I initially went to see Midlake and Son of Stan but ended up staying well into the evening, partially thanks to the generous donations from Real Ale and Lakewood, but mostly because each performance was as awesome as the last. Did you have a favorite set from the day? All the Good people were working their asses off to keep the shelves stocked and the beer flowing so I hope the day was a success in ya’lls book. I saw people walking away with STACKS of records so I’m guessing it was a success from a financial standpoint. I came up on a Jimi Hendrix Live at Monterrey album that I’m pretty excited about. In fact, it is playing as I write this now.

Are you optimistic about the comeback of vinyl records? At this point, when I buy a physical piece of music, it’s going to be a vinyl. It’s partially the nostalgic cool factor, partially the analog sound quality, but really because it is such a tangible piece of art. I’ve just started to dip my toes into buying new releases on vinyl but am afraid I might go broke in the process. Good Records is basically the last man standing for record stores in Dallas (as far as I know). It’s a tough gig these days, but I have faith that there are enough dedicated music fans in the city to support at least one awesome record store.

Looking forward to next year already.

RESPONSE:

thanks for the kind words….of course I loved Midlake but I really enjoyed Oil Boom who I had not seen live yet…..it was our best sale day ever….without the resurgence of vinyl we would be closed so it has saved our ass…..thanks for the support and hope to see you regularly…

Toni Rose

 

Toni Rose is the Texas State Legislative Representative for District 110, which encompasses southeast Dallas, Pleasant Grove and Balch Springs. 

Dear Representative Rose,

We were both in attendance at the A Community Cooks event this week. When President Sorrell (my former high school basketball coach believe it or not) was thanking everyone for their support, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a Paul Quinn Alum is a Representative in the Texas State Legislature . It’s pretty cool that you now represent the district of your Alma Mater.

There’s no denying that your district faces many challenges. As the economy in Dallas booms north of the Trinity River, the ‘southern sector’ (a term I’ve always hated) struggles to even provide grocery stores to it’s residents. The food desert problem is real and must be overcome if the community is break from the stagnation and blight. The football field turned organic farm directly addresses the issue in a proactive and immediately impactful way. A core concept of President Sorrell’s “new urban college” model is to foster entrepreneurship to solve the problems in the surrounding community. Teach students not how to get a job but how to create jobs. These are his words, not mine.

As State Representative for the area, how have you battled the food desert issue? What can be done from the State level to better this under-served area?

Hope to hear back!

PS: What is your position on the plastic bag ban?

RESPONSE:

Good afternoon Mr. Bernstein,

Please find below the answers to your questions emailed in to State Representative Toni Rose on April 25, 2014.  Representative Rose personally reviewed the email and this is her direct response — her answers are in red.

If I can be of any further assistance to you, please do not hesitate to call the district office.

  1. As State Representative for the area, how have you battled the food desert issue? What can be done from the State level to better this under-served area?  Currently, I am working with Dallas City Councilman Tennell Atkins on obtaining a grocery store for the district, as well as reviewing State resources to address the issue.
  1. What is your position on the plastic bag ban?  I do not have a position.  The ordinance has passed (March 26, 2014) and I support the decision of the Dallas City Council.

Pomplamoose

Pomplamoose makes VideoSongs, a new medium with 2 rules:

1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice).

2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).

Dear Nataly Dawn & Jack Conte (Pomplamoose),

I’m not sure if you invented the “VideoSong” medium but I had never heard of it until I came across your music. The format engages the viewer/listener beyond the traditional audio experience and in a different way than the standard music video, where the visual component usually has it’s own narrative. The final product perfectly marries the live music experience with a polished, recorded track. I dig it.

But none of that would matter if the music wasn’t great. Your covers and mash-ups are refreshing takes on pop songs and classics we’ve heard way too many times. That’s a serious accomplishment. I’d love to see a live show but you’re totally missing Texas on the upcoming tour? Wassupwidthat? Maybe you’re waiting for SXSW.  Me too…

Keep up the super cool work.

PS:  I didn’t think Get Lucky or Happy could get any more catchy but I was wrong. Proof: Pharrell Mashup

 RESPONSE: