Archive for the ‘Urban Hangouts’ Category

A Good Cause for the Next Generation

April 29, 2010

Some of my friends work with the Marcus Graham Project. My friends in MGP are very dedicated to mentoring the next generation of media professionals. My friends get involved, and there is a whole crew of us moving in this great city.

Their next event is on Saturday, May 1st. They need support to mentor the younger people they’re taking on. Read below, and support where you can.

(after the video, their full press release is here)

Our mission is to identify, expose, mentor and train ethnically diverse men between the ages of 16 and 34 in all aspects of the media industry, including advertising, entertainment and marketing.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a Supply Drive + Fundraiser for The Marcus Graham Projects (MGP) Summer Bootcamp, iCR8.

Saturday May 1, 2010
The Tastemakers Suite

1409 S. Lamar #111
Dallas, TX 75215

9am to 6pm

We are collecting the following items for our summer bootcamp:

CREATE * Three (3) Laptops (New, Gently Used or Refurbished) * Notebooks/ Sketchpads/Pens * HD Video Camera/ Digital SLR Camera (Canon 5D preferred) * Software (Adobe Creative Suite, Final Cut Pro)

LIVE * Eight (8) Travel Scholarships ($250 Each 5 Roundtrip flights, 3 gift cards for Gas) * Gift Cards for Meals (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) for 12 * Gift Cards to Wal-Mart or Target for Toiletry Items for 9 * Beds, Cots, Futons, Air Mattresses for 9 * Bedding (Sheets, Comfortable) for 9 * Bottled Water, Fans (Items to help with the TX Heat) * Dressers or Storage Containers * Bath Towels for 9 * 12 DART (Public Transportation) Monthly Passes * Kitchen Supplies (dishes, cooking utensils, pots/pans) * Sofas/Futons/Chairs (3)

*many of these items can be found at Wal-Mart & Target, however we will accept used items

THINK * Books (including: Emotional Branding, How Brands Gain the Irrational Edge by Darryl Travis; Truth, Lies & Advertising by Jon Steel; Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising by Luke Sullivan (Third Edition); or other books that could benefit their learning * Informative marketing case studies, presentations, decks * DVDs/Links to relevant documentaries, speeches or presentations

Schedule of Events in the Gifting Lounge
9AM 11:00AM SOUL
Join us in for a fellowship breakfast as we prayer for our next generation of leaders, as well as the success of programs build to develop youth and young adults. This event will focus on fellowship and collective prayer led By Larry L . Yarrell, Sedderick Raphiel, & JD Garza. Breakfast will be served pot luck style at 10AM. Please bring muffins, juice, fruit, yogurt or other items. We will host a special edition of our On Line Radio show, where we will be joined by several of the young leaders that we have selected for The Marcus Graham Project boot camp and join with them in prayer & fellowship for their successful arrival to Dallas. Music to get your soul right provided by DJ Frances Jaye

12PM 3PM – BODY
Rejuvenate your body and unwind to simply good music provided by DJ M*Knight and massage provided by Massage4U. RSVP for your massage by emailing your First & Last Name, as well as info@marcusgrahamproject.org

4PM- 6PM – MIND
Enjoy a stimulating conversation and cocktail, as DJ Jay Clipp spins some true school tunes. The topic of conversation is progress, and we invite each of you to share on camera, how you are making progress in the world and how young people can continue to strive forward and accomplish their dreams.

Realities and Misconceptions about Lowest Greenville

March 27, 2010
(UPDATE: It’s obvious that a lot of feathers were ruffled by this blog post. Some of them are cowards that run to other blog’s comment sections to make up lies that can’t remotely be substantiated.  They are likely backed by some of the same bloggers that called us all “gangbangers” in the first place.  They know I can be found at City Hall at every City Plan Commission meeting if they would like to have a thoughtful discussion about this issue.  
I didn’t mention names of people in this article because it’s not about who it is, it’s about the issue.
Some of them are writers for other publications that live in $350,000 houses in affluent neighborhoods but act like only their neighborhoods can be cleaned up.  They run IP addresses of people that comment on their site that they don’t like.  They don’t like the fact that we are not ignorant enough to lump people in one basket when it comes to clubs and places that people don’t look like them tend to go.  They resent the fact that we are educated about the process of improving our neighborhoods, which we have done. From cleaning up motels and other nuisances, the Deep Ellum zoning club process and other accomplishments, my track record speaks for itself.
They use their paper for undercover political motives as well.  They soft-shoe pieces on their buddies, while other people’s every step is reported ad nauseum. I wonder if we put a dent in their escort service ad business when we shut down the motels, and they want payback.  It’s something to think about.
Read my entire blog post, not excerpts written by someone with an agenda, and make up your own mind).
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Lower and Lowest Greenville.  Many different people seem to hold to the belief that all the bars in Lowest Greenville are “thug bars” and need to be closed.

The picture in this post is from a recent party attended by me and many friends in Lowest Greenville.  You see me, Pikahsso (a well-known Dallas rapper and one of my best friends in Dallas), and others.  None of us are “gangbangers,” which is a term used by some elected officials and residents to describe the people the club in this area.  (I will keep putting that word in quotes because I don’t know anyone not named Bill O’Reilly that uses that word in normal conversation ).

I don’t go to “thug bars,” and I don’t hang out with thugs either.  I hang out with professionals, people involved in the art and music scene, and other working people. We like to go out just like everyone else. We don’t drink to the point of intoxication.  The reason that our generation doesn’t have the legendary places that evoke memories years down the line is that people throw all of the spots into one basket and everything gets closed.
I think the viewpoint that’s missing from a lot of the articles written and opinions given are that very few of them are from people that actually go out on a regular basis.  Even the club owners will tell you about the other bad actors, because they want them closed as well.  Is the answer to shut down the whole strip and sanitize the nightlife scene in that part of town? No.
Being the Vice Chair of the City Plan Commission (CPC), if there is an attempt to enact zoning regarding that area I will be a part of it.  I think we as an appointed body do a pretty good job of keeping suspect clubs on a short leash, and rewarding good operators for a job well done and a club well-run.  From the beginning of my tenure on the CPC, I was the first to push to have crime stats as part of the public record when it comes to clubs and bars, and questioned when that did not occur. I did it on every case, regardless of district. Such records are now part of every applicable case.
As I have done in the past I hope to provide a bit of balance to the conversation and what appears to be pending zoning discussions about the area.
I speak as someone that has attended clubs and parties on Lower and Lowest Greenville since I moved to Dallas eight years ago.  I was first brought to the area by a peer from my old job.  I would estimate that his yearly income was at least $250,000.  Now you wouldn’t think that someone like that would hang out in the “dangerous and wild” Lowest Greenville “gangbanger” club district, but it’s true.  I also don’t remember him checking on his 401(k) one minute and tying on his bandanna the next.
In this city, we constantly talk about vibrancy.    In other cities that are perceived as vibrant, people from clubs park everywhere.  We already have the Resident Parking Only (RPO) process, which helps those streets that want to get relief from weekend parking issues.
I respect the efforts of any neighborhood to clean up its problem spots.  There are a couple of places that seem to breed most of the problems; they should be closed.  If there is a move to close all of the bars and clubs because they’re all thrown into the same boat, that is something with which I will have a problem.
I have been part of such a movement before, when dealing with the Deep Ellum and Expo Park neighborhoods.    In the end, we voted to keep some places open and we closed down the bad guys (Club Uropa, for example).  Contrary to the opinions of some writers and blog commenters, Deep Ellum is far from dead.  Multiple new clubs, bars, and restaurants have opened are more are on the way.  Also, service-oriented businesses like barbershops have opened along with mainstays that never closed (Rudolph’s Meat Market, Mozzarella Company). In that case, I felt it was necessary.  I feel the problem in Deep Ellum was way worse than what’s going on in Lowest Greenville.
Some of the people that claim that every club on Lowest Greenville is filled with “gangbangers” act as if crime doesn’t occur unless a bar is open.  We know that’s not true.

NEWSFLASH: the people that hang out on Lowest Greenville also had birthday dinners and functions at the beloved Terilli’s, Mick’s, and Blue Goose in Lower Greenville.  Does some magical transformation from professional to “gangbanger” happen once we have dinner and drive below Belmont Avenue? I don’t think so.
The times that I have hung out on Lowest Greenville, which are many, only on a couple of occasions have I seen some sort of mayhem or been told about such instances.  I’m not discounting what others have seen, but I do speak from the standpoint of someone that is actually in some of these establishments.  I rarely use parking lots because I still don’t trust most of the operators with respect to booting and towing. I loathe valets.  I’m old school; in most places I park on a street and I walk 2-3 blocks to wherever I’m going.  The times that I’ve been down there, most of the police do a great job dispersing club goers once the night is over and the patrons do a great job of being good citizens.
To me, it’s an issue of balance. If there are problem places, the city should do something about it.  Such actions help everyone from residents to party goers to business owners.  Back home, the city padlocks the problem places and asks questions later.  Here, something strange happens where officials and club owners do a weird dance which results in nothing being done.
Closing everything is a bad idea.  You can look across the street at the retail space in Vue  Greenville (located at the NW corner of Greenville & Lewis, shown below) and see that the retail market is struggling – that building is struggling because of the strong restrictions which don’t allow decent restaurant hours, not because of the bars. That building was built long after clubs had set up shop. It’s just like when Good Records set up a free outdoor show last year and it was shut down due to various unknown forces.  Is that the kind of image we want to project as a city?

View Larger Map

One thing that is bad around Lowest Greenville is the street lighting.  Dark streets breed problems.
After leaving a club at 2am on the night which the picture of me and my friends was taken, I walked some female friends to their cars on the east side of Greenville on Richmond Avenue, then walked through the club crowd by myself to get back to my car on the west side of Greenville near the Newflower Market.  I saw a couple of people being arrested and no major fights.  This is typical of any club area – you mean you never see the cops arrest anyone at a Cowboys or Stars game for being out of hand? 
Everybody has a right to their opinion.  There are neighborhood issues that can be addressed, but in my opinion this area is a city asset and should be treated as such.  If it gets to this point of zoning and planning, I will make sure everyone has a say in what happens to the area.

Community Gardens – Just a Thought

March 26, 2010
There are a lot of different articles and blog posts out right now with respect to community gardens.

I saw a comment on one post suggesting the city sell some of its vacant land to various neighborhood groups, and those groups could use it as a garden. Then the parcel would be considered private land. I’m sure Dallas is spending a fortune on mowing city-owned land parcels, so maybe this would help.

Thoughts?

NBA All-Star Weekend had Dallas Rocking

February 15, 2010

The headline to this post says it all.  More than 108,000 people attended the game.  Even more importantly,  the game brought approximately $150 million into the area.

Arlington may have hosted the game, but Dallas owned the weekend.  Despite the weather, the crowds hit the streets of Downtown and other areas.

On Saturday night, the city center was jam packed from 8pm on.  Downtown Dallas was rocking.

Even farther north there were many events filled to capacity.  Kenichi, Trece, Go Fish, and Hibashi had daytime events and a couple were closed off by the fire marshal because they were so packed. You heard right, daytime parties.  They started at 12, ended around 6pm.

The Erykah Badu/Jamie Foxx concert at the Palladium on Saturday? Filled to capacity.

Northpark was packed like it was Christmas Eve for four days straight. Ditto Galleria.

There was some traffic-related frustration, and yes a couple of Dallas’ finest could’ve been more polite with their requests to our visitors but overall they did a great job. Dallas has never hosted an event like this. Texas-OU and other major events don’t compare to All-Star weekend.

By 4am, the streets were clear except for a traffic accident near the Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

Everybody was spending money. This is what All-Star Weekend was about. And all of those who predicted Armageddon because it was an urban event, I am more that happy to say you’ve been disappointed.

I just hope we don’t have to wait 24 years to host our next All-Star game.

DART Plans and Security Plans for All-Star Weekend

February 12, 2010
I hope everyone has a great time in Dallas for NBA All-Star weekend and our city shines like we know it can.  I wanted to pass along some items which may be of interest regarding street operations downtown and DART Rail service.
Street Restrictions and Operations
All parking meters on Main Street will be hooded and no meter parking will be allowed through Sunday.
On Friday night from 6pm-3am, access to Main Street will be restricted to residents needing access to their homes, limos, and taxi drivers. Drivers may be asked to show IDs or resident parking passes.
There will be no parking allowed on Main St. Please use Elm or Commerce.
DPD is prepared to shut down Main Street as needed over the weekend. It is recommended that you avoid Main Street if at all possible.
DART and All-Star Weekend Train Service
(link to DART’s All-Star Weekend info)

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person working on this issue, but from the media exposure, concerned council people and others DART will be run trains from downtown until 3am-325am depending on the line. A week ago they were going to stop at 12:30am, which would have caused headaches for Downtown Dallas.
A lot of progress was made and now we have a more reasonable service plan for this weekend.
A special shout goes to Councilwoman Linda Koop, the head of the City Council’s Transportation Committee for her assistance, as well as various officials at DART.
As I mentioned to fellow city officials and other interested parties, we also need things to run smoothly for reasons larger than this event. As Dallas is trying to attract larger events, good PR from our train service would go a long way. Conversely, no one wants the opposite to happen. The eyes of the tourism and business worlds will all be on Dallas for a weekend, and we all want to see the city shine like we know it can and will with everyone’s help.

Snowball Fight – Thanksgiving Square- NOW

February 11, 2010

Need I say more..as seen from the KPMG building

Towing & Booting Revisions are a Good Idea

February 10, 2010

Today the City Council voted, by an 11-4 margin, to change the ordinance involving booting of cars in parking lots.

While the previous ordinance was only in effect in Deep Ellum (downtown lot operators had another six months), today’s vote expanded the rule citywide that prohibits booting of vehicles in parking lots that do not provide drivers a receipt.  In addition, it also eliminated video audits as an alternative to providing parking fee receipts.

Because of the way parking lot operators and tow truck companies have been running their businesses, I have started a practice of only parking at meters.  As much as I dislike nighttime parking meters, at least I know that I won’t return to my car with a boot on it (or towed and missing altogether). 

In my opinion, this should have been done the first time; I didn’t see the reason for changing the law in Deep Ellum and giving Downtown lot owners an additional six months.  It didn’t take too much deductive reasoning to figure out that the next move would be to take the shady practices a few blocks west of Deep Ellum, a practice which was outlined extensively in recent weeks.

Apparently, the owner of Hawkeye Towing came to speak at City Council.  He claimed that his business would be in jeopardy and that he’s a good operator; in my opinion what he calls a business should be in jeopardy. Fortunately his crocodile tears didn’t sway anyone.  Here’s their BBB listing (h/t to Travis from Pegasus). I didn’t see the video, so I can’t confirm if it was this this guy from Hawkeye or not. 

I’ve been in lots “attended to” by Hawkeye Towing.  After a friend’s car was booted after a show in Deep Ellum we decided to turn the tables on this company.  The boot guy tried to talk tough in the beginning, but once a couple of us whipped out our cell phone cameras and recorded the shady event everything got real polite and calm.  The boot was removed from my friend’s car.

To this day, I haven’t figured out why lots in the West End have receipt machines but it is oh-so-difficult for these same owners to install such machines downtown and in Deep Ellum. But that’s an argument for another day.

Today was a victory for businesses and patrons, and a tear jerker for the ripoff artists.  We must continue to stay vigilant and keep a watchful eye out for and shady practices.  Keep those cell phone cameras charged.  On to the next one.

An Eye Opener – Downtown is not as Dead as You Think

December 23, 2009

Whenever someone talks positively about Downtown Dallas, there are always people that claim that downtown is dead (or that it closes at 5pm, etc).

Such a claim couldn’t be further from the truth.  Even on a Tuesday night, several places were popping. I went to PM Lounge in the basement of the Joule for a party. At 9pm, it was already full. People were lounging on the patio of Charlie Palmer.  A few student-aged kids were walking around taking pictures and surveying the scene.

I left PM to go to a friend’s informal birthday party at Ten Sports Lounge.  By the time I left a few hours later, it was full. I walked past City Tavern, and it was 3/4 full inside the bar the patio was full.  People were hanging out on the sidewalk chatting in front of the tavern.  Again, this is on a Tuesday night.



Other than the French Quarter and Midtown Manhattan, there aren’t many places that are teeming with people 24/7. But Dallas has made great strides, and to claim that it’s the same downtown from five years ago is not looking at the big picture.  Take a walk with me in my new hood, and I’ll tell you all about it.

Smashburger: One of the Best

November 17, 2009
It has been known for some time that Smashburger is coming to Dallas. Everybody that knows me knows that I search high and low for the best burgers in Dallas. With that in mind, I got an invite to the pre-opening for Smashburger.
Leonard Davis and Marc Columbo of the Dallas Cowboys are among the investors. That alone gave me high hopes, because offensive lineman know about good food.
Ever since my beloved Chips on Cole Avenue closed (the building is STILL empty, by the way) I have been on a mission to find the best burgers in Dallas. To me, the best doesn’t mean it has to cost more than $15 and claim it’s gourmet.
(full disclosure per this new rule: I ate for free…and ate WELL for free)
Most places claim to have great burgers, and fail to live up to the hype. Other places have great burgers and terrible fries or vice versa. However, Smashburger has done a good job with all aspects.
Keep in mind that the burger is not expensive; the 1/3 lb ranges from $4.99-5.99, and the ½ lb goes for $5.99-6.99. A full meal will run about $10-12, which is not bad for fast-casual.
The restaurant’s name comes from the way they cook their beef, according to their website:

We start with 100% Angus Beef, smashed, seared and seasoned on the grill, placed on a butter-toasted artisan bun and topped with the highest-quality cheeses, freshest produce and condiments.

I would agree. I got the BBQ, bacon, and cheese smashburger with smashfries (tossed with rosemary, garlic, and olive oil). The fries are excellent, on par with the truffle fries at AMPM restaurant downtown (one of my faves for fries).
After my initial meal was served (you take a number like at Village Burger and they bring it to the table), they showed much love to yours truly by bringing two milkshakes: one vanilla and one lime (yes, lime).  The lime one was interesting; almost like key lime pie but not as overpowering as to go well with the food.  There were also fried pickles and chili cheese fries topped with jalapenos.   I found out they also have chicken sandwiches too. I’ll save that for a future trip (maybe – I’ll most likely try another burger).
Here’s their menu. I say it’s worth the trip, although word is they will open multiple franchises in DFW. For what I consider real burger prices, Smashburger ranks among the best in Dallas.

location (map):
4980 Belt Line
Addison, TX 75254

Fireworks at Dallas Performing Arts Center – Wyly and Winspear Grand Opening

October 19, 2009