Saturday, January 31, 2015

Showdown: Mesquite 79, Berkner 67

From 2015 01 30 Mesquite vs Berkner

In District 10-6A action Friday night, the Mesquite High School men's basketball team defeated the Berkner Rams 79-67, knocking the Rams out of a first place tie with Mesquite and Richardson. Bummer. But the Berkner Bandolera drill team put on a great halftime show. Come out and support your local school kids. The entertainment is the best value in sports.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Richardson, "Wonderfully Diverse Land of Opportunity"

"Don't read the comments". Always good advice. Still...

After an otherwise too-easy takedown of Sarah Palin by Jim Schutze in Unfair Park (in which he pitches the theory that Texas is becoming the Sarah Palin of states, using the example of the newly elected representative from Belton who wants Texas Muslim visitors to her Capitol office to pledge an oath of allegiance), there was one comment that I just can't help passing along to Richardson readers.
I love Texas. Batshit crazy right-wingers are not Texas. Texas is the wonderfully diverse land of opportunity and the American dream that I see in Richardson, for example, where people have gathered from all over the globe to seek opportunity and better themselves and their families. The crazies like that lady in Belton are like mesquite -- an unfortunate legacy of past mistakes.
Source: Unfair Park.
The commenter was "JimSX," who sounds a lot like Jim Schutze himself, making the comment all the more remarkable as perhaps the first kind thing Schutze has had to say about, not only Richardson, but any Dallas suburb.

Belle (2013)

Belle (2013): Race and class in 18th c. England. Rich costumes and sets. 2D characters. Think anti-slavery movement meets Downton Abbey. B-

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Urban Planning in Lake Highlands

If you are like me, you think the IH635/Skillman/Audelia intersection is a mess. It's not Richardson's mess. It's Dallas's mess. It's Lake Highlands's mess. But it's a mess. People have been thinking about what do with it for years. Maybe something will finally get done.
The revitalization of our neighborhood begins with fixing the 635-Skillman intersection...

The crossroads cause confusion and congestion, resulting in snarls, accidents and dangerous pedestrian scenarios that worsen with each passing year...

The thoroughfare situation, according to experts who have studied the zone for years, makes inefficient use of our land, repels quality retailers and developers, and ultimately perpetuates proliferation of undesirable businesses, problematic apartment and condominium properties, and high-crime zones.
After the jump, what's wrong with this thinking.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Freaky Slow Development on Spring Valley

Spring Valley Corridor
Urban, mixed-use, walkable. Does that sound familiar? Does that picture look familiar? It's West Spring Valley Road. Or at least it was the vision of West Spring Valley Road that was dangled in front of Richardson residents almost five years ago. Since then, State Farm built an eleventy-seven story office tower up north in a whole new neighborhood called CityLine. Raytheon is building a big, new corporate campus next door. Whole Foods is busy stocking up gluten-free pizzas for the insurance agents and engineers who will live and work and shop up there.

Meanwhile, what's happening along Spring Valley Road? You hope I'll say something like what's in that picture, right? But you expect me to say nothin', right? Well, you're wrong... in both cases. After the jump, south Richardson's own development news.

Monday, January 26, 2015

RISD and Open Records Requests

The Dallas Morning News did a year-long study on how responsive local governments were to open records requests. Anecdotally, the RISD didn't come out looking too good:
When asked for a list of employee reimbursements in 2013, some agencies held that the information was only available in hard copy. The News’ most expensive estimate was a $4,050 fee from Richardson ISD for that information. The district maintained that data showing the amount of money paid to reimburse employees wasn’t available electronically.
Now, maybe there's nothing nefarious going on here. Maybe the cost estimate is accurate. But if this kind of external request costs $4,000 to meet, then the costs of internal requests are probably also prohibitive. So, if someone in the RISD with a need to know wants to examine employee reimbursement requests to look for abuse or even just for opportunities to reduce costs, it could be cost prohibitive. Wouldn't you think that would be reason enough to change procedures?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Wizard of Oz at LHHS

The Wizard of Oz at LHHS: Classic movie musical comes to life. Lots of kids, young and old, all having fun. Sound glitches didn't stop fun.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fiddler on the Roof at RHS

Fiddler on the Roof at RHS: 50 year old musical made fresh by enthusiastic and talented young voices. Dancing, sets, lighting all excellent.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tax Revenue: Residents vs. Business

Tax Revenue
Source: Richardson Coalition PAC.
Richardson Tax Revenue: Residents vs. Business

"Our city's success in economic development has resulted in a tax transformation for our city." That's how the Richardson Coalition PAC explained the graph above.

After the jump, unpacking their explanation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rivalry Game: Lake Highlands 46, Berkner 73

From 2015 01 20 Lake Highlands vs Berkner
In District 10-6A action Tuesday night, the Berkner Rams men's basketball team defeated the Lake Highlands Wildcats 73-46 at the Berkner gym. Berkner's Justin Price led all scorers with 20 points.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: Tenth of December

Tenth of December
From Tenth of December, by George Saunders:
Open quote 

So goodnight to all future generations. Please know I was a person like you, I too breathed air and tensed legs while trying to sleep and, when writing with pencil, sometimes brought pencil to nose to smell. Although who knows, maybe you future people write with laser pens? But probably even those have a certain smell?"

After the jump, my review.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Punching Through PGBT

An interesting experiment is being run by Trinsic Residential Group. Steve Brown has the story in The Dallas Morning News:
Construction has started on a large new rental community just across the street from State Farm Insurance's huge campus in Richardson.

Trinsic Residential Group is building the 11.7-acre apartment project on the north side of Bush Turnpike at the DART commuter rail line in Plano

The 386-unit Aura One90 project is just a short walk under the turnpike to DART's rail station and State Farm's office buildings in the $1.5 billion CityLine project.
Note how Steve Brown calls it "just across the street" from State Farm. That "street" happens to be the President George Bush Turnpike (PGBT). The "short walk" involves going "under the turnpike."

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tied for First: Berkner 64, Pearce 46

From 2015 01 16 Pearce vs Berkner
In District 10-6A basketball action Friday night, the Berkner Rams men's basketball team defeated the Pearce Mustangs 64-46 at the Berkner gym. Berkner's Torey Everett led all scorers with 27 points.

More after the jump.

Friday, January 16, 2015

We Are the Best! (2013)

We Are the Best! (2013): 13-yr-old Swedish girls form a punk band, despite not knowing music. Alienation, friendship, adolescent energy. B-

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CityLine, Palisades and Strip Shopping Centers

I pledged to myself that I wasn't going to respond to the straw man argument by Rodger Jones of The Dallas Morning News dismissing criticism of the proposed Trinity tollroad. If I weren't already familiar with Jones's work, I would have guessed that he was merely trolling. "Don't feed the trolls" is advice I usually try to live by. To my benefit, D Magazine's Peter Simek rebuts Jones so I don't have to.
Jones' point, in short, is that the anti-highway and anti-Trinity Toll Road folks argue that highways don't lead to development. Then he points to a handful of developments to show that, yes, highways spur development.

I know, I know. I heard you groan. See, I've been trying to ignore it. But stay with me.

First, let's dismiss the straw men. No one claims that highways don't spur development. Rather, the argument is that highways spur the wrong kind of development in urban settings, development that generally promotes inefficient land use and contribute to broader urban decay. Yes, highways create development. They also incentivize development around cheap, undeveloped land.
Source: Frontburner.
So, enough with Jones and his straw men. That's the easy, obvious part of Simek's article. It's the rest of what Simek says that requires more thought.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

First Place: Pearce 49, Mesquite Horn 46

From 2015 01 13 Mesquite Horn vs Pearce
In District 10-6A basketball action, the JJ Pearce Mustangs men's basketball team beat the Mesquite Horn Jaguars 49-46 at the Pearce gym.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink (1991): Early Coen Bros. NY playwright over his head in Hollywood. Surreal but I already said Coen Bros. Too many loose ends. B-

Monday, January 12, 2015

Still More Thoughts on the Center of Dallas

Last week, I was really provoked by urban designer Patrick Kennedy's assertion that the center of Dallas had moved north to or near Richardson.
The center of town has shifted to swaths of 635 and 75 up through Plano. The center of town is no longer Dallas, but the North Dallas border.
Source: StreetSmart.
My takeaway? That Richardson needed to adopt Kennedy's strategy for Dallas: Densification. Transit. Walkability. I stand by that.

But today, I want to back up a little. Is Kennedy on to something when he says the "center of town" is up near Richardson? Kinda. There's no doubt that significant development in last half century has happened north of Dallas and continues to this day. But, let's face it. Richardson is located somewhere near the geographic center of the area from downtown Dallas to McKinney and Frisco, but it lacks the urban core that most people think of when they think of the "center of town." Dallas is going to remain the "center of town" no matter how much decay it suffers from.

After the jump, what Richardson is instead.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Most Wanted Man (2014)

A Most Wanted Man (2014): Germans, jihad and CIA in a cerebral le Carré spy thriller w/ Philip Seymour Hoffman. What more could you want? B+

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Showdown: Richardson 80, Berkner 74

From 2015 01 09 Richardson vs Berkner
In an early season battle of District 10-6A unbeatens, the Richardson Eagles men's basketball team outlasted the Berkner Rams 80-74 at the Rams gym. Richardson jumped to an early 7-0, but Berkner battled back to take a 33-31 halftime lead. Richardson came out strong again after the break, outscoring Berkner by 12 in the third quarter. Berkner rallied back in the fourth quarter but could never quite close the gap.

More after the jump.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Further Thoughts on the Center of Dallas

Yesterday, I mused on the implications of an assertion by urban designer Patrick Kennedy:
The center of town has shifted to swaths of 635 and 75 up through Plano. The center of town is no longer Dallas, but the North Dallas border.
Source: StreetSmart.
Kennedy had a prescription for how Dallas could wrestle the center of town back south to Dallas: Densification. Transit. Walkability. The implications to me were that Richardson needed to steal a page from Kennedy's playbook in order to hold the center of town in Richardson.

Being the center means that there is something in all directions. Today let's complete a tour d'horizon.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Center of Dallas is Now in Richardson

Professional urban designer (and unprofessional gadfly) Patrick Kennedy makes an audacious claim about Dallas in the D Magazine blog StreetSmart:
My fundamental point of this work and one I make over and over again in my various presentations is that we’ve been applying suburban thinking to the downtown area, which has in effect, forced it to compete with the suburbs. That’s a fight it cannot win. And has effectively suburbanized it (while ruralizing South Dallas as Peter Simek has correctly pointed out) as the center of town has shifted to swaths of 635 and 75 up through Plano. The center of town is no longer Dallas, but the North Dallas border.
Source: StreetSmart.
Kennedy doesn't say by what measure the center of town has moved north (population? economic activity? traffic? world classiness?), so it's impossible to confirm or falsify the audacious claim. But Kennedy is the unofficial leader of the "tear down IH345" movement in Dallas as well as a member in good standing of the "Kill The Trinity Tollroad Project." He makes a living from this stuff (or, if not from his gadfly work for D Magazine, at least from other stuff related to urban design). So, when he says, "I do know cities," we probably ought to listen. So, let's make him king for a day and just assume he does know what he's talking about. Let's just assume he's right -- the center of Dallas is now somewhere in or near Richardson -- and consider the implications.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Overtime: Richardson 71, Mesquite Horn 65

From 2015 01 06 Mesquite Horn vs Richardson
What a game! The Richardson Eagles men's basketball team defeated Mesquite Horn 71-65 in overtime Tuesday night in the Eagles gym. There was never more than a one point difference in the score at the end of each quarter. But someone had to win and eventually the Eagles prevailed in overtime. With the win, the Eagles move to 2-0 in District 10-6A while the Jaguars drop to 0-2. Don't expect the Jaguars to stay down long.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

OTBR: Tidal Waters in New South Wales

Latitude: S 32° 11.538
Longitude: E 152° 27.480

A child on a road trip with his family asks, "Where are we?" and the father answers, "Let's check the map. We're off the blue roads [the Interstate Highways marked in blue on the road atlas]. We're off the red roads [the US and state highways]. We're off the black roads [the county highways]. I think we're off the map altogether." It was always my dream to be off the map altogether.

After the jump, a few of the random places (and I mean random literally) that I visited vicariously last month that are "off the blue roads".

Monday, January 5, 2015

North South Divide In Richardson

The north gets CityLine and Palisades Village. (I've had some reservations about some of the details of these developments (ahem), but I do like their scale and density.) The south gets a restaurant row (maybe), a 7-Eleven gas station and now (maybe) yet another drive-through fast food restaurant.
File No./Name: ZF 14-39 / Drive-thru Restaurant
Property Owner: Jason Ricks / BH Dallas Portfolio LLC
Applicant: Jarrod Blake
Location: 811 S. Central Expressway (See map on reverse side)
Current Zoning: C-M Commercial with special conditions
Request: A request for a change in zoning from C-M Commercial with special conditions to PD Planned Development to allow a restaurant with drive-through service and other site modifications on property located at 811 S. Central Expressway, the northeast corner of Central Expressway and Spring Valley Road.
After the jump, what's going on here?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

District 10-6A Basketball Tips Off

From 2015 01 02 North Mesquite vs Berkner

Now that the college football bowl games are over (technically, the College Football Playoff National Championship game is not a bowl game), it's time to turn our attention to high school basketball. In the tip off game for District 10-6A play for both schools, the Berkner Rams defeated the North Mesquite Stallions 80-57 Friday afternoon at the Rams' gym. Torey Everett led all scorers with 23 points.

It's a great time to be a Ram!

More after the jump.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Repeat Tweets: St Louis Police Upset

Repeat tweets from December, 2014:

  • Dec 1 2014: Headline: "St Louis police upset over Rams players' Ferguson protest." THAT is why they're upset? Not for shooting an unarmed black teen?
  • Dec 1 2014: Headline: "GOP staffer quits after backlash to her criticism of Obama daughters." I was wrong. There IS a limit to the shit GOPers can say.
  • Dec 2 2014: Final: Jesuit 59, Berkner 53. #txhshoops
  • Dec 5 2014: MT @JustinWolfers: "this year, the economy has added 2.65 million jobs, more than any year since 1999." GOP blames Obamacare. Or Malia.
  • Dec 5 2014: Somm (2012): Quest to pass the Master Sommelier exam (in Dallas) that almost everyone fails. I'll never make fun of wine tasters again. B-

After the jump, more repeat tweets.