Monthly Archives: September 2014

Buddy Boy

Dear Bud Selig,

Seeing as how you proudly do not use e-mail, this letter will not won’t be nearly as relevant by the time my carrier pigeon reaches New York City.

Tonight we got to watch a spectacular baseball game.

It really had it all. The hot upstart team from a city hungry for a taste of the postseason facing a team learning to play up to high expectations and hopefully exceed them. True grit was on display. I remember when my fair Texas Rangers were in both those positions over recent years, though it feels far longer ago than that. We the people of DFW missed out on basically all the MLB action this season and tonight was a taste of what makes October baseball great.

The game itself tonight couldn’t have been any better, but I still believe that an entire baseball season (162 games! Way too many!) should not be decided by a one game play-off. My friend had a clever idea: best of three with a double header on the first day and if necessary, the deciding game a day later. Home field advantage would be given on the doubleheader game. It would be an entire day of baseball (and ad revenue).

Maybe I should be sending this idea to the Commissioner in wait, Rob Manfred, since you’re retiring after this season. Or maybe you can implement this like a lame duck president might and let the new guy untangle the mess.

Enjoy your final postseason as commissioner, Commissioner.


Just Do It

CEO Week

Dear Phil Knight,

What is a brand? I’ve heard dozens of definitions, all of which are true at some level.

A brand is a symbol.

A brand is a feeling.

A brand is concept.

A brand is a promise (-Stan Richards) .

At it’s best, a brand integrates itself into a person’s identity and contributes to their sense of self.  The term “lifestyle brand” is thrown around a lot but rarely does a brand live up to this big label. In my opinion, Nike is the quintessential lifestyle brand. How did that happen?

Weiden + Kennedy had a lot to do with it no doubt, but I think you were the first entrepreneur to really embrace the power of indorsement. Michael Jordan wears these shoes and he’s the best basketball player in the world, surely they’re good enough for your Sunday morning pick-up game. Nike wasn’t known as a golf brand until Tiger woods used Nike equipment as best golfer in the world.

This interactive list of the world’s most recognizable brands has Nike at #24. I think that is wayy off. I would place it somewhere just behind Coca-Cola. Athletics transcend all economic and geographic boundaries. Apple may have the most money, but Nike has touched every level of society in every corner of the globe.

Sweatshops aside, it’s an incredible brand.

PS: I found it interesting that you were the single largest contributor to the Oregon Ballot Measures 66 and 67 which increased taxes on large corporations and individuals making or than $250,000. Not to make sweeping generalizations about billionaire CEO’s, but wouldn’t that be the last thing you want? Maybe you’re actually self aware enough to realize that there the we’ve let the wealthiest corporations and people grab far too much of our nation’s capital.

Shop House

Dear Steve Ells,

I crave burritos a lot. On a separate but equal level (actually though) I crave Chipotle a lot. Chipotle is it’s own unique craving for me, different than the traditional and usually very greasy hole-in-the-wall type burrito.

Needless to say, I eat a lot of burritos.

This past week I tried Shop House, your Southeast Asian concept. Personally, I love the bold flavors and spices in Thai / Vietnamese / Indian cuisine but wonder if the rest of America is ready for them. It has been proven that the demand for spicier foods is growing, especially among Millennials. My kale and corn toppings had a nice kick to them and I added the spicy red curry for good measure, bringing it to a solid 7/10 on my spice chart.

I enjoyed Shop House and hope it makes an expansion to Texas soon. Will it be the next Chipotle? I have my doubts. I think the flavors are still too unfamiliar to most Americans. There are too many who still believe that Taco Bell is Mexican food and Panda Express is Chinese. But a concept like Shop House could be a nice stepping stone into a whole new arena of flavor for people.

Until my next burrito,




Thanks for being such a huge fan of Chipotle, and now ShopHouse! I hope you don’t mind that I respond on Steve’s behalf. He is currently out of the office and he wanted to be sure you heard from us before his schedule would allow. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we don’t have any current plans for a ShopHouse in Texas. We are working on slowly expanding, making sure people are ready for the deliciousness before we arrive. I’ll definitely take note of your suggestion, though, to keep in mind for the future.

It is interesting that you would mention that people may not be very familiar with the flavors at ShopHouse. That is very similar to some of the comments we heard back when Chipotle was starting out. Although people were familiar with Mexican food, in the early days of Chipotle, people didn’t really associate Chipotle with the usual Mexican flavors. We’re proud to have recreated this with ShopHouse to push people just a little further on what their concept of Southeast Asian food tastes like.

Although it sounds like you won’t be able to stop into a ShopHouse in the near future, we’d love to see you for that burrito sooner rather than later. If you send me your mailing address I’d like to send you a meal-for-two card (to be used in a single visit) so you and a friend can come into Chipotle for a meal, on us. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you soon.


Customer Service Manager
Chipotle Mexican Grill

The Grim Eater

Dear Leslie Brenner,

After seeing the movie “Chef” last night and having recently returned to the restaurant industry I feel like it’s time to write your letter-a-day.

I’m a blogger but not a food blogger. I enjoy a nice meal but I’m not a foodie. I’m a work in a restaurant but hopefully not forever and I’m a Dallas native who’s proud of our dedicated food scene.

When it comes down to it, there are essentially three things to do in Dallas.

We shop like every store at NorthPark is going out of business. We watch and discuss sports like they actually affect our personal lives. And most importantly we eat out at restaurants as if every meal were our last. In so many ways, Dallas has elevated dining beyond a casual habit to something of a sport like hunting exotic game. For those who can afford it’s s an entire lifestyle unto itself.

We don’t have any Michelin Star restaurants like New York City and it’s not a dining destination like New Orleans. Our food scene can be myopic and self congratulatory to a dangerously high degree at times. But despite it all, our passion for dining is undeniable and is to be celebrated. Criticism can be both honest and constructive.

Unlike many, I’m not here to bash your reviewing style or stance on certain restaurants. I’ll even pretty much side with you on this whole John Tesar Twitter fiasco. He must have seen “Chef” also and realized there was an opportunity to get more press for himself. I’ve never been to The Knife myself (I’m but a lowly waiter) but I thought your review was more complementary than not.

Try to be a friend to the industry. When you crush someone’s favorite restaurants, it feels personal because it’s the personal touches that makes a restaurant special for most people. Food and wait staff all add up to an experience that, when done right, makes you feel like part of the family. A great Dallas restaurateur once printed on their menu that, “The love is free”.

Love and be loved Mrs. Brenner.

PS: Of course laziness is inexcusable but if possible, be sympathetic to the waiter who doesn’t know as much about food as you. They don’t get to eat out for a living.


Dear Mr. Bernstein,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I am honored that you choose me as today’s recipient. 
I understand where you’re coming from, but I cannot be a “friend to the industry” — that is absolutely not a critic’s role (nor any serious journalist’s) role. My work is in service to our readers. I am aware that it may not feel very nice to have a critic say that a dish a reader loves had some technical flaws, and I wish that part were otherwise. But honesty is a key part of a critic’s role, and I’m paid to express my honest opinion. When I express my views of a restaurant, its food, service and ambience, I’m trying to help the reader experience the restaurant vicariously, and helping them understand the restaurant in the context of our dining scene. After that, it’s up to the reader to decide whether he or she wants to spend his or her hard-earned money there.  
I do feel sympathy for waiters whose food knowledge is lacking, but it really is up to the management to educate the servers about the menu they’re being asked to sell and serve. That’s why I’m always writing that better training would be in order in so many situations. On the other hand, if training isn’t forthcoming, waiters can always learn what’s need by asking the chef, or reading. Getting information about food and cooking is easier than ever. And waiters don’t have to master a whole world of food knowledge, just what’s on the menu at their restaurant. Meanwhile, “I don’t know off the top of my head, but I’m happy to go in the kitchen and find out” is always a great answer.
Thank you again for taking the time to write. I truly appreciate your sharing your thoughts — and reading The Dallas Morning News.
All best,


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Dear Mattson Plummer,

I was heading to a show in Deep Ellum when I noticed a gallery full of people and decided to see whats up. It was the opening night of your show at Kettle Art after which I started following you on Instagram. I told myself I was going to go back and buy one of your surprisingly expressive watercolor skull illustrations with my next paycheck until I realized that you give them away.

Now it’s not that I’m too cheap to buy one; it’s the thrill of the hunt, or “#headhunt” as you call it.  I want to earn it. I want to say it’s mine because I was on top of my Instagram game, tracked it down, and beat everyone else to it.

And what an engaging way to promote your art. I think it’s awesome and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to find one of your pieces. *cough* in Hamilton Park *cough*

PS: Might you be a fan of surf jazz duo The Mattson 2? Here’s a favorite of mine from them:

Zuck It

Mark Zuckerberg when he became a man. Mazel Tov!

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

Ah the Internet. It’s probably the most important “invention” since the printing press. That was the first major leap in mass communication. But even as we’ve progressed from the printed word onto radio and television, it has always been a one-way form of communication.

The Internet is different.

For the first time in human history, there is the opportunity to connect every single human on the planet with one another. To share ideas and culture through a direct, one to one, unfiltered (right NSA?!), visual/written/spoken medium. And while the greatest inventions often are credited to a single person, a la Facebook and yourself, the inspiration and collaboration of ideas is the core of any great innovation. More ideas shared translates to more opportunity for great things for everyone.

Your work with aims to bring internet access to all people. Could there be a time when Internet access is as basic a need as electricity? I have an irrational faith in the power of human collaboration to solve the biggest problems in the world. Although I don’t think your motive is purely altruistic (7 billion Facebook users would be great for the stock price), I think we share this ideal.

Here’s to an open Internet for everyone!

Roger That

Dear Roger Goodell,

I am a sports fan. I’m also from Texas so of course I’m a football fan. Watching the Cowboys, no matter much they continually disappoint me, it is something I look forward to all week. For various reasons, some people are quick to dismiss sports. They don’t understand why we “waste” our time keeping up with leagues, players, and teams that we ultimately have no connection to.

This past week in the NFL exemplifies exactly why sports are important. Sports have a unique way of highlighting the best and worst aspects of society. Through sports and high-profile athletes, we have a means to discuss these important issues on a broader societal level. Domestic violence happens every day but it takes a Ray Rice situation to open the conversation. Parents have beaten their children for generations but it took Adrian Peterson beating his son for people to question the practice.

We could brand these players as steroid raging monsters and condemn the NFL for harboring these nasty people, or we can look at ourselves as a whole and ask the bigger questions. Why do we need video/photographic evidence of abuse? At what point does an organization have the authority to comment on the way a parent raises his or her children? What responsibility does an organization have to combat these issues overall?

Beyond how the NFL (…you) have handled this situation, it stands as mostly constructive way to discuss these issues.

PS: Don’t be so reactive.

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Mitt Flops

Dear Mitt Romney,

Watcha been up to Mittens? Is it ok if I call you Mittens? Cool thanks.

Last week, you emerged from the privileged ether to proclaim that you would have done a better job than Barack Obama has in his second term. Well that’s constructive.

I can sit here and say that I would have made that free throw or caught that pass. Or I would have avoided that car accident if I were driving. It all looks so easy from the sideline with perspective and instant replay.

I guess we’ll never know how you would have handled these situations. You weren’t elected. Or will we… There are rumblings about a potential 3rd try at the presidency. I don’t see many other GOP members stepping up.

It that somehow becomes the case, I expect you to use the “what’s past is prologue” argument that Vice President Biden aptly used to describe the situation he and Obama stepped into in 2008. And that’s fine, it’s a very applicable Shakespeare quote, just don’t expect any sympathy from me when the going gets tough.

Watch This

Dear Tim Cook,

When Samsung was advertising their Smartwatch product last holiday season, I kept asking myself : “Why is this necessary? My smartphone is right in my pocket with all the same features and more.” Then someone (granted, an acquaintance who works in their marketing department) gave me some perspective.

The goal is not to replace your phone.

It comes down to a simple social cue. Pulling your phone out is a nasty habit we’ve developed in so many social situations. Depending on the place, looking at your phone ranges from rude to downright dangerous. Sometimes we want insulate ourselves from those around us (the bus) and it works great. Other times we are trying to be social and it gets in the way. Consider this scenario:

You’re sharing a dinner out with a friend. The conversation is deep and engaging but then you feel your phone buzz in your pocket. You don’t want to be rude and check but the curiosity is almost literally burning a hole through your pocket. Maybe it’s that girl you texted earlier and she wants to meet for a drink. Maybe your house is on fire or your dog escaped from the backyard.

With a smart watch, you can casually glance at your wrist and see that it’s just your mom leaving a voicemail saying, “Hey it’s Mom, call me back.” (I knowww it’s you mom.)  And now you’re not that guy with his phone out.

The Apple Watch looks killer sleek of course but what caught my eye is the fitness component. You’re taking it right to Nike+ and FitBit which I like. Hopefully the competition forces them to improve their products and we all benifit. There is no doubt that wearable technology segment is going to continue grow in all kinds of innovative ways. Apple wasn’t the first to market with a Smartwatch but here’s to hoping you lead the way.



Nicolas Ivanoff

Dear Nicolas Ivanoff,

Congratulations on winning the Texas Red Bull Air Race. I was there to witness the winning flight and am glad your taking the gold cowboy hat home to France to wear proudly. Please do wear it.

I was rooting for you mostly because you have to coolest aircraft in the bunch. Your bright orange plane just looks faster, so I assumed (correctly) that you would win. I also assumed (incorrectly) that you all raced head to head, in the air at the same time. But I guess it makes sense only one plane is in the course at a time for obvious safety reasons,  though it would make for some great television.

I guess the Red Bull Air Races have been around for a few years now. Does it get old racing the same dozen guys at every event? It probably builds pretty intense rivalries but also friendships. Who’s your bitter rival on the circuit? The German guy would make sense.

Congrats and good luck in LasVegas!

PS: I’m thinking helicopter races for next season.