Monthly Archives: October 2014


Dear Robert Wilonsky,

Dallas is changing and for natives such as ourselves, that is either exciting or concerning. Very often it is both.

I moved back to Dallas about a year ago after living away for 6 years during college (Hook ‘em). When I go looking for info about this building being demolished or that botched city plan, I, more often than not, find an article you’ve penned. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the guy who understands the evolution of Dallas as well as any one person can.

By all measures the city is booming. Everywhere I turn there are cranes building new generic mid-rise apartment buildings. I wasn’t quite conscious for boom of the 80’s so to me, this feels like an unprecedented time of development. As a city grows up (hopefully Dallas is mostly done growing out), growing pains are to be expected. Room must be made for all this development, I understand that. But must development come at the expense of our few old, historic buildings?

Albeit, we’re not talking about demolishing ancient Greek ruins here (though if we did have ancient ruins, my guess is that they would have been razed in the 70’s for a freeway). Where does this ‘out with the old, in with the new’ culture stem from? It’s an inherently Dallas trait that I’ll never fully understand.

At least I’m not totally alone in my point of view. There are people are working to slow down this ‘demolish now ask questions later’ mentality but I’m afraid the tradition runs too deep. Other cities find a balance of restoration and new but this seems to escape Dallas.

I’m not trying to stop the progress. I’m excited about the direction our city is heading and I fully believe Dallas’ best days are ahead of it. I just don’t think you can understand where you’re going if you don’t remember where you’ve been.

PS: Are we every going to have a usable Trinity River?


Identity Theft

Me VS Linguine

Dear Brad Bird,

I’m want to know where you saw me. Was it at Disney Land? Maybe at a baseball game, or perhaps I served you a plate of food? The resemblance is too close to be a coincidence. To top it off, I even sound like him.

I am your character Linguini.

You appropriated my likeness without my expressed written consent. My personality rights as a citizen of the United States of America have been violated as (broadly) protected under the 1st Amendment. Even all these years later, people still make the connection. Because it is my image you’re selling. Luckily for you, Ratatouille is one of my favorite Pixar movies and I don’t mind the association. So instead of demanding my cut of the $206,445,654 gross domestic revenue, I just want a response for the blog.

You have 30 days to comply before you hear from my lawyers (Uncle Mike, lets get ready for court).



Free at last, Free at last

Dear Richard Branson,

Yes, Martin Luther King said it best. Great God Almighty, we are free at last from the oppression of the Wright Amendment. It really is a great day for the city of Dallas and all Dallasites who consider themselves travelers. It’s hard to believe that it took this long to repeal the dumb thing.

There is easily enough demand to fill both airports’ gates with flights across the globe, but American Airlines still won’t let Love Field use all it’s gates. Maybe if they took more pride in the quality of their product they wouldn’t need to use these corporate lobbyist bully tactics to withhold a tiny handful of gates from operation. ‘

Southwest Airlines has been running a massive advertising campaign celebrating their freedom (and new flights). By all measures it will be a boon for them but don’t think they’re not looking over their shoulder at you. I’ve noticed some Virgin America ads recently as well, but it’s not even close to their scale. I think you’ve got them shook a bit.

I’ve yet to fly Virgin America but I look forward to the new opportunity to do so. Furthermore, I look forward to my opportunity to fly to space with Virgin Galactic as well. Maybe I’ll ask for a trip to space for my birthday. (time to sell the house Dad?)

PS: What did you do with your day in Dallas?


Not Keeping it Weird

Dear “ The Charlies” (Charles Attal, Charlie Jones and Charlie Walker),

Everyone remembers their first time. It was 2006 and I was only a junior in high school. No, not my first time for that…it was my first music festival experience at Austin City Limits.

While it’s well documented that I’m mostly over the traditional mega-festival experience, I will say that ACL will always have a special place in my heart and I did make it down for the first Friday this year. I had to see my favorite hip-hop group of all time, Outkast, and the performance did not disappoint.

Tonight wraps up the second weekend of the Festival for yet another year. Was this year bittersweet for ya’ll as a buy-out from LiveNation looms of your heads?

The news comes as a bit of a disappointment to me, and here’s why. C3 Presents is (was?) an independent Austin company that rose up to become the third largest concert promoter in the country. That’s something to be really proud of;  something for the city to be proud of. A buy-out from LiveNation takes that away from Austin. That’s not keeping it “weird”. That’s moving up and out (a microcosm for what’s happening to Austin in general).

I’m always skeptical when the second largest company in an industry buys the third largest. How does this keep happening in our economy today? I don’t buy the notion that it makes for a better product or that it enables you to bring the experience to more people. It makes for less competition and a watered down experience. To that point, I do feel that the festival market is already over-saturated so maybe it’s a good time to sell.

Regardless of this news, I’m proud that ACL is one of the nation’s powerhouse festivals right here in Texas.

The Teacher

Dear Mr. Hagood,

In my first class with you some 12 years ago, you explained to us that we would be writing every day that year. That unlike math geniuses, greater writers are not born but made. That came as a relief to me because I had been terrible at math ever since two consecutive years of Ms. Owens as my math teacher. We wrote for 5ish minutes before each class started as well as on our own, one page per school night.

I still remember the first quote you had us write our thoughts about:

“Notice: Beach is closed after 10pm.”

I looked up after college and realized that writing is really my best skill. It’s what set me apart throughout college and stands as the one thing I can confidently point to when someone asks, “What can you do?” My motivation for this letter-a-day project spawned at least in part from the idea that if you write (or do anything) every day, you are destined to improve. If I fancy myself a writer, then I better strive to improve, daily.

What I’ve come to realize is that writing is just organized thinking. If you can express an idea in written words, it can be shared, improved on, and hopefully be worth something to someone. And as of today, I can call myself a copywriter (meaning I’m employed, at least partially through my ability to write). Back in 9th grade, I probably wouldn’t have guessed that writing would come to define a major part my professional life.

Every time I sit down to write, it is a challenge. A blank page is, and probably always will be, quite intimidating. So I start spewing broken thoughts onto the page, keeping some, reject most. I build from there until I have a direction and then it slowly comes together. Then someone *cough cough* with a red pen slashes it to pieces, which is frustrating but again part of the challenge. You pick up the (figurative) pieces and work from there. At the end of the process, you look at the finished work and almost forget how you got from that blank page to something worth ($?) reading.

I’ve come to thrive on that challenge and I thank you.

PS: I hope you still start your classes with a prompt/quote and make your students keep a journal. I’ve gone back and read some of my old thoughts and it’s a trip.




Thank you so much for the letter; it was totally unexpected!
I’m so glad to hear that you’re a writer, Hayden, even if you’re still on the first rung as a copy writer. I’ve had former students who started out the same way and one of them recently published an article in the on-line New Yorker over the recent book-banning controversy at Highland Park.  Hang in there!  You have all my encouragement and best wishes, Hayden, because, as you know, writing well is difficult, time-consuming, and the most intellectually challenging task you could ask for. You also have all my respect because sticking with something as hard as writing is rare.  
It was such a treat to get your letter.  Write back anytime, and let me know if I can do anything for you.
ps. As I no longer teach 8th and 9th grade, I do not do the journal, but the tradition is being carried on by Mr. Jennings.

Tim HagoodUpper School English Teacher

Upper School Philosophy Teacher

Lakehill Preparatory School

Missed Connections

To the sad and lonely person who stole the final clue to my girlfriend’s birthday scavenger hunt from the patio of Lakewood Theater,

I try to picture as you on that warm Sunday afternoon. You’re wearing the same ratty black T-shirt you slept in and last night’s beer is stale on your breath. You wanted to watch the Cowboys, but you overslept and now you’ve got nothing to do. The few (very few) people you hang out with are busy getting ready for their work week but you don’t have a job or a girl friend so you’re off kill the day at the bar. Alone.

You stare at the sidewalk as you walk but glance up to notice a shiny pink balloon in the shape of a heart swaying gently in the breeze. It looks like it’s waiting for someone, and hey there’s even a note.

Oh how sweet. It’s some girl’s birthday and this is the final piece to her scavenger hunt. I bet her boyfriend planned it for her and this FINAL balloon is the culmination of an awesome day. They must be so happy together.

You imagine that you planned an awesome day for your awesome girlfriend. How excited she is when finds the final note and jumps into your arms smiling. It’s like a scene from a movie and you lose yourself in the fantasy for a brief moment.

Then the headache from your hangover snaps you back to reality: you don’t have a girlfriend, you smell, and you’re alone. You’ve never actually had a girl friend. That one girl you liked so much in high school only used you for a few weeks to get back at her real boyfriend. And it still hurts all these years later.

So tear the balloon from the patio table and let it go. You watch it float away into the sky knowing that it will never reach the special person it was meant for. Ha! Knowing that almost covers up loneliness. As the balloon drifts out of sight, that familiar feeling of loneliness seeps back to it’s usual place, just below your heart in the pit of your stomach and you walk into the bar. Alone.

Maybe you kept the letter. Part of me hopes that you did. Read it when you feel like there’s no love left in this world and let it stand as proof.