Category Archives: Dallas

Give them Red Bull and circuses

Anyone who claims atavism and blood lust disappeared from modern America, needs look no further than Red Bull Flugtag (Flight Day) to be proved wrong.

“I’m here for the crashes – the same reason you’d go to a race – you want to see some crashes. People are afraid to say it, but that’s what we’re here for,” said spectator James Freese as he sipped a beer in the VIP Dallas Observer beach just yards from the waterfront.

Red Bull called it aviation history – the first national Red Bull Flugtag Day – 5 U.S. cities, roughly 150 flying machines and over 700 foolhardy heroes who followed their contraptions into the water across the United States. The grand spectacle drew crowds greater than 92,000 to the crowded banks of Lake Carolyn in Irving on Sep. 21. People filled the space between the water and the office buildings on the other side of Las Colinas Blvd., spilling around the edge of the lake and onto the roofs of parking garages and apartment homes to get an unobstructed view of the ‘flights.’

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ANIMAL INSIDE OUT proves beauty is not skin deep

The muscular system of a large bull is shown in detail as he engages in a playful game of tug of war with an invisible rival; the clearly defined circulatory system of a dog seems ready to chase a ball, while a camel’s head and neck is captured in three different poses as he bends to the ground. These and roughly 100 other Plastinated and capillary animal specimens are currently on display at the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT, a BODY WORLDS Production in the lower level of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science through Feb. 17, 2014. On a limited tour in U.S., the ANIMAL INSIDE OUT exhibition is Perot Museum’s first traveling exhibition.

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GoPass mobile app makes going on transit easy

Starting Sep. 16, North Texas transit customers can put away paper passes and pick up their smartphones to buy, store and activate passes for DART, The T and DCTA.
The GoPass℠ mobile ticketing application is the new way to buy passes for the region’s three transit agencies. The GoPass is free in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. The Danish firm Unwire won the contract based on its experience overseas with mobile ticketing in large urban markets with multiple agency participants. The North Texas agencies are among the first in the country to offer mobile ticketing and are Unwire’s first U.S. client. Since this is a joint effort, the three agencies chose a neutral name for the product: GoPass.
In recent years, the three agencies have collaborated to improve payment options for customers by issuing a common regional pass and deploying ticket vending machines that accept credit/debit cards. But officials wanted to make transit even easier for riders.
DART, The T and DCTA officials estimate that half of their riders carry smartphones. After evaluating numerous payment systems, the agencies’ staffs determined that a mobile solution was the most versatile approach for giving customers more ways to buy transit passes. 
Customers who tested early versions of the app agree, “The big benefits are speed and convenience. I may misplace my ticket, but I’d never misplace my phone.”
Downloading the app, registering and entering payment information take just a few minutes, and the GoPass app guides users through the process. Once a rider is registered, it takes a matter of seconds to buy a pass.
Before boarding, customers activate a pass from a digital wallet – even when an active Internet connection is not available. Color coding quickly indicates recent activation or expiration to bus operators or fare inspectors. A countdown timer informs customer when the pass expires and prevents riders from using bogus tickets.
”It’s not the ticketing that makes this interesting,” DART CFO David Leininger said. “It’s the convenience factor.”
Mobile ticketing makes budgeting easier because a customer can purchase a block of passes at once and activate them as needed, for up to 60 days. Riders don’t waste fares when plans change and they can skip lines at the TVM – particularly useful during crowded special events. 
”Customers buy passes on their terms, not ours,” DART Chief Marketing Officer Nevin Grinnell said. 
GoPass also contains a trip-planning tool powered by Google Transit. Customers can access rider alerts and schedule information, check real-time bus and train arrivals, and find information about transit-accessible activities and events.
Beginning this winter, corporate annual and college semester pass participants can keep their 2014 “badge” in the GoPass℠ digital wallet. Next year, the agencies will offer combination tickets that cover transit fare and event admission to a variety of North Texas’ arenas, museums, arts facilities, fairs, festivals and expos.
Source: Dallas Area Rapid Transit

MOWW convention ends in Dallas

The Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW) concluded its national convention at the Omni Park West, Dallas hotel Saturday evening Aug. 18 with a reception and installation of officers banquet. More than 200 delegates and guests from the United States and Puerto Rico attended. At opening ceremonies Dallas mayor Michael Rawlings welcomed attendees and issued a Proclamation declaring Aug. 12 – 18 as “Military of the World Wars Week”.
The Military Order of the World Wars is an organization of active, retired and former military officers from all branches of service. It was founded in 1919 by General of the Army “Black Jack” Pershing to promote the welfare of our nation as a whole. The newly elected MOWW Commander-in-Chief is Captain Debroah A. Kash, USAF (Ret) of San Marcos, CA. She is the first woman to serve in that position.
North Texas has four active chapters. The largest is the Dallas Chapter followed by the Fort Worth chapter. The North Texas Chapter serves Plano and surrounding cities and the Pinson Memorial Chapter serves Irving and other Mid-cities. The four local chapters served as hosts and coordinators for the convention.
Source: Military Order of the World Wars

Dallas again votes to deny gas drilling near Campion Trails

DALLAS — A push for gas drilling wells on the Luna Vista Golf Course failed again on Aug. 28 as Dallas City Council members voted to deny approval for a permit for the drilling.

The request has come to Dallas City leaders, including the City Plan Commission, before, but hasn’t earned enough votes for approval.
The Council, after hearing nearly an hour of public comment both for and against the request, voted 9-6 to approve the permit. The request needed 12 votes to pass.
The Council voted on three different proposed locations for the wells, including the golf course site, and denied them all.
Although Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlins said he didn’t think the proposed locations were the right place for the gas wells, he voted to approve the contract because of the possibility of a lawsuit.
“We have a contract,” Rawlins said. “Not only do we have a contract but many of our citizens have a contract. We have done everything correctly and done it by the book. There is a chance that by voting no we could cost the city of Dallas millions of dollars in legal and other expenses.”
The company requesting the specific use permit is Trinity East Energy, LLC. The company wants to extract natural gas from 3.8 acres of land just west of Luna Road and near Campion Trail. The proposed area is undeveloped.
“I encourage you to not listen to all the controversy but take a look 30 miles to the west,” Tom Blanton, CEO of Trinity East, said. “We have a prime example of what can be done in Arlington and Forth Worth … I understand how to drill with green processes.
“We can indeed drill safely and be good neighbors,” he said.
But residents and Irving officials have questioned the safety and disturbances the wells could cause in the area.
“I’m very concerned because we put millions into Campion Trails,” Irving council member Rose Cannaday said at the meeting. “We’ve got million dollar homes, and your citizens and mine travel that trail and enjoy that quality of life. It’s just not the right thing for that area.”

Hopes run high for food trucks near Love Field

Dallas, TX—Dallas’ newest food truck park opened with an evening of food, live entertainment and free beer on Friday, June 14 at the corner of Mockingbird and Maple. The evening was part of the park’s “soft open,” with free beer and music continuing throughout the weekend.

The park, dubbed “Fly-By Food Park,” is operated by US Food Trucks and plans to feature a carousel of local food trucks parking in the location to provide their services to local residents. Of Dallas’ several food truck parks, it is now the closest to Irving.

Whereas Austin, TX is already renowned for its local trucks, specifically around the South Congress area, truck owners in Dallas have struggled to establish themselves.

“Food truck parks have not worked. They haven’t lasted,” said Audra Denny, Owner of Pompeii, a truck that bills itself as ‘explosive Italian cuisine’. “There was a very short lived food truck park over by Heritage Village. It was not a good location, over off of Harwood. The scenery was great, the music was great, but it didn’t draw the crowds we needed.”

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Youth Target Foundation receives grants from Dallas Safari Club

The Youth Target Foundation (YTF) recently received $24,000 in grants from the Dallas Safari Club for the purchase of shotguns and targets to support the middle school and high school shooting teams. The shotguns will be used as rentals during practices, competitions, clinics and other training for the nearly 200 youth who are members of the Youth Target Foundation.

“This grant will be extremely beneficial to the teams. Good equipment is essential to a successful program. We’ll be able to purchase enough shotguns to not only support the current teams, but also be able to expand next year,” said Jeanie Almond, founder and President of the Youth Target Foundation. “The interest in joining the youth shooting teams is growing exponentially. We had 20 youth last year, nearly 200 this year and already have more than 5 teams in line for 2014.”

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PGA star Rickie Fowler wins Red Bull’s Dallas Off Course competition

Your mother would think it was a bad idea to hit golf balls at a 10 foot green wedged between two glass office buildings, but that’s exactly what PGA stars Colt Knost and Rickie Fowler did May 22 at Victory Park. 

The friendly competition was organized by Red Bull as part of their ongoing Off Course series, a competition where stars from the PGA Tour make trick shots in urban obstacle courses. Previous contests in the series took place in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Augusta and Los Angeles.

“It’s still competitive, even playing against one of your buddies. I don’t want to let Colt win, but it’s tough, trying not to hit glass, trying not to hit people, but once you get out there it’s all about trying to hit the pin, you forget about the buildings,” Fowler said.

The tee was set in three different locations for the competition, and the goal was to see who could get closest to the pin in one shot. The golfers started off with a relatively easy 80-yard shot from the foot of the stairs, with the green set up near the entrance to American Airlines Center.

Later, they moved across the street for a round of 115-yard shots before ascending to the top of a 3-story parking garage for the final round. The last shots were taken from a distance of over 140 yards, with the pin obscured by the corner of an office building.

For most of the competition Knost seemed to have the upper hand, with most of his shots landing on or just near the green while Fowler’s balls flew into the audience (audience members were allowed to keep them as souvenirs). In the final round, both shot balls haphazardly, which pleased many of the fans. But Fowler’s 6th shot was right on the mark, landing on the back of the green before rolling to within 30 inches of the pin, earning him the Off Course championship jacket.

“There were a couple from the garage that were really wild,” Fowler said. “It took a couple of shots to zero in on the green, but even then with the wind there were a couple that came in a little hot.”

Northlake Students Premier Films at Texas Theatre


North Lake College Students got to show off their chops Thursday, May 16th when Texas Theatre showed an hour and a half of student short films. In addition to full fledged short films, the premier showed animation, mock advertisements, and trailers for projects students hope to get off the ground after graduating.

“We’re so happy we’re at Texas Theatre. We were starting to outgrow our auditorium at North Lake, and this gives us an opportunity to show our films to a broader audience,”said June Owens, Video Instructor at North Lake College. “I’m proud of all of them, they’ve all come a long way.”

This is the second time North Lake has partnered with Texas Theatre to present student films. Most nights the little indie theater in Oak Cliff is showing classic, slightly cultish films in 35mm, an increasingly rare format as digital projection rapidly takes over the industry. The films for Thursday’s screening were selected from among the best work the students had done in the past year.

“[to make the list] it had to be as professionally produced as possible, it had to represent what we do in our classes, and we tried to look for things that would be fun for a big audience,” said Andy Chiles, Coordinator for the Video Technology Program at North Lake College. Chiles was one of the faculty members in charge of selecting the films to be shown.

Included on that list was the TXU award winning short film Spirits, written and directed by Jerome “Phoenix” Williams. For Spirits, a film about the consequences of taking technology for granted, Williams took his inspiration from contemporary science fiction and action films.

“Joss Whedon, John Woo, a lot of big action directors inspire me,” Williams said. “I’m also really influenced by Japanese animation. That’s where I get the style that I have. I’m doing live action, but when I look at a concept I think ‘what can I do to make this more stylized?’”

Williams also premiered the trailer for Witchhunter, a short fantasy action film he hopes to release later this year.

Among other films the audience and North Lake faculty were excited to show was Vendetta, a short film by North Lake student Armando Suarez. Vendetta is unusual for being a continuous shot filmed in one take.

“We had so many actors. You rehearse it over and over, but if anything messes up, if someone looks in the camera or the camera gets in the shot, then that’s in there,” Owens said.

“I like to set challenges for myself,” Suarez said. “I want to put the most difficult thing I can find into these movies. Working with a lot of actors is difficult to do, continuous shots are difficult to do. It’s a learning experience. If you don’t set those challenges for yourself you won’t develop.”

The premier also gave students the chance to show off their work for members of the local film industry.

“It gets their faces out there, it allows the community an opportunity to see their work, and hopefully they’ll get to make some good contacts,” Chiles said. “We get a lot of industry people here. I’ve got a really good advisory board that’s made up of professionals in the television and film industry here, and they bring people. I can look right now and see industry people here.”