Friday, May 11, 2007

Re: Dallas Morning News

Scooter, regarding your question about local news here. I normally watch ABC (channel 8). They are the leader, by far, in this market. Several months ago, they started broadcasting all their newscasts in HD. They also moved their studios to "Victory Park", which is the new development around the AAC (American Airlines Center). The setup is like a mini Times Square, with video screen and access for the public to see into the studio. Dale Hansen is the #1 sports guy. An arrogant s.o.b. One of the week-night female anchors (Macie Jepson) is mentioned all the time on 1310 The Ticket (she is rather well-endowed). The NBC station (channel 5) is #2. We sometimes watch them. Newy Scruggs is their sports guy and I like him. He's pretty funny and has a running thing with one of the guys on the Ticket- they REALLY don't like each other. CBS (channel 11) sucks and we never watch them. I think that is where the old color guy for the Cowboys (Babe Laufenberg) is the #1 sports guy. The main anchor, Tracy Rowlett, has been there forever and i thin k is retiring sometime this year. Or maybe not, I"ll never know because I never watch them.


"What a maroon!" is a Bugs Bunny quote, instead of "What a moron!"

The "lumberyard" Chevy Chase quote is from Caddyshack, a term to indicate the hitter will make it to manual labor rather than the tour.

Update: This link is a bit more direct.

Language questions for Scooter

"Hit it into the lumberyard" means what, and where does it come from? 'Maroon," I assume is a play on "moron.' I've seen it a couple of times recently. Where does it come from?

Dan Patrick

I've admired him as an entrepreneur having missed his sports broadcasts. He's making a lot of noise in Austin.

Steyn on Miller today about 56 minutes into the show.

Dallas Morning News

While I only read it rarely now, I still love it. (Disclosure: I slung the Dallas Times Herald in my youth.)

That doesn't mean it isn't suffering the fate of the NYT or the LAT in circulation.

LJ, I'd be interested on your thoughts about local TV news. Since I lived there while so young, much of my view is colored by the local sports anchors. Verne Lundquist at the ABC affiliate and Brad Sham at the CBS affiliate (back when it was channel 4)...glory days. The NBC guy died at least 15 years ago but he was great, too. I'm embarrassed that I can't recall his name. He was play by play for the Cowboys with Verne before Sham came in to sit in with Verne as color. I think I have that right.

And the NBC affiliate had a great, crusty, genuine meteorologist Harold Taft. Bob Shieffer began his career there.

Texas weather

Ok, Colorado weather. The state tourist board touts 300+ clear days per year.

Houston and Dallas

Couple of more thoughts:

LJ is right about the dry parts of Dallas and its 'burbs. I remember growing up in what used to be North Dallas in the 60s and would be driving around, cross a major street and all of a sudden there would be trash everywhere. Why trash on one side of the street and not the other? The trashy side was wet and the other side dry.

Zoning and No Zoning: As my compadres know or probably suspect, as a free marketeer, I favor Houston's approach. The less regulations the better, notwithstanding any "nimby" feelings I might have about where I might live. I would NEVER live in a community with "deed restrictions" and an HOA. As Michael learned, busybodies have way too much time on their hands. Living in a city with zoning laws (and boy do I ever) gives the guvmint that authority that I don't even want to cede to an HOA over which I theoretically could exercise more control. If I want to put my truck up on blocks, then I'm going to do it. This misanthrope would rather live out in the boonies...but close enough to enjoy the benefits. And here I am living in the most meddlesome city in the state.

I'd say the weather is a draw...October/November and March/April being the best months in either city give or take.

Having lived in Dallas for my 18 formative years and in Houston for 10, my main conclusion is that the two cities are more similar than either would like to admit.

What about "friendliness?" I know this is Tejas, but I honestly found Houston a bit friendlier. Not sure what to make of that.

Ricky Williams hits it...

right into the lumberyard.

If this is correct, what a maroon!

Texas weather

These numbers come from CityRating.Com ( No idea what period of time they claim to cover or even if they're accurate, but they match my preconceived notions so I'll go with them.

Average temp in Dallas for June/July/August: 81/85.3/84.9. Same for Houston: 80.4/82.6/82.3. Houston is indeed a couple of degrees cooler.

Relative humidity for Dallas in A.M. for same months: 85/80/79; in P.M.: 58/52/52. Same for Houston: 92/92/93; 63/61/61. Ouch.

Number of days above 90 degrees in Dallas: 97. 99 in Houston.

Average temp in Dallas for December/January/February: 46.9/43.4/47.9. Same for Houston: 53.5/50.4/53.9. Several degrees warmer in Houston.

Number of days below 32 degrees in Dallas: 37. 18 in Houston. (Not even close this year; I doubt we had four days below 32 this winter.)

Here's a surprise: Number of clear days in Dallas: 135; only 90 in Houston.

Big D in the NYT

The Newspaper of Record has a story on Dallas today. We all know that the Times is unbiased and scrupulously fair, so let's see what we can learn about Big D.

Gosh, not a very flattering photo. What else?

"[T]he nation’s ninth-largest metropolis, long troubled by crime, scandals, racial polarization and government gridlock." Yikes.

"[T]here is also Deep Ellum, the once-vibrant blues district that has proved a graveyard of renewal hopes — 'It’s just looking worse and worse all the time,' said Gianna Madrini, a fashion videographer who heads the neighborhood association — and a federal lawsuit is challenging the city’s restrictions on feeding the homeless in public."

"Mr. Hill, the mayor pro tem, has been under the cloud of a federal investigation for two years since tapes leaked from an F.B.I. undercover operation revealed a developer’s negotiating a $50,000 payoff with a lawyer and contractors seeking Mr. Hill’s support for a commercial development."

"The corruption inquiry and leaks have deepened longstanding tensions among blacks in South Dallas, which has historically been shortchanged on development projects, schools and city services. Resentments have festered since Ms. Miller pressured the city manager to fire Dallas’s first African-American police chief after a scandal involving a drug-frame-up in 2003...."

"Dallas still leads major cities in crime, largely because of thefts...."

"A current uproar is over the future of the Trinity River park project for flood control and recreation, which has yet to see any of the sailboat ponds and aesthetic bridges that were promised to voters in 1998."

Goodness, Houston looks like a paradise compared to this cesspool...

Re: Re: Houston and Dallas

Actually, I did mention zoning (only in passing) and I guess I wasn't articulate enough in trying to make my case about excluding the suburbs. Let me try again...

While it is true that in both cases they (the burbs) are part of the whole, at least to me, there is a palatable difference. And I can trace it back to the almost the first day I moved here back in 2000. I went out to eat that first night at a Chili's in Irving. I ordered my food and an adult beverage. The waiter told me that I had to buy a private club membership or something along those lines, but the amount of the membership would be refunded on my final bill. What?????

That was my first taste of the incorporated city concept that is Dallas. Yes, Houston has that in Bellaire and West U, but if my memory serves, other than than the street signs being a different color, nothing else is really different. Here, many things are different. Smoking vs, non-smoking. Liquor stores. Liquor laws. It just has a different "feel" to it. And for the most part, you can't tell visually when you are leaving Dallas proper and entering one of these burbs. It's all clean and nice and maintained. Yes, Dallas has some not as well maintained parts, but you almost have to seek them out. You have to find them. In Houston, it is easy to tell the difference visually between Kingwood and Houston, Sugar Land and Houston, Clear Lake and Houston. The farther out you go from the city, the cleaner it gets (that is a generalization and is dependent, of course, on the direction - River Oaks as an example). But that is the only difference. Liquor laws are the same. Zoning laws (if you can call them that) are the same. The sense I got in Houston when I was growing up, and now, is that it is just one big PLACE, made up by neighborhoods - not a metro area made up of incorporated cities.

Not to always bring up liquor, but in Houston, you don't even have to think about where to buy beer or wine or whatever. Wherever you are, it's there. In Dallas, you have to think about it. I can buy beer and wine all around me - to buy harder stuff, the closest place is about 10-15 miles away. And as big of an adjustment that was to me, for C, it was/is even a bigger one. In Milwaukee (and all of Wisconsin, I believe), they sell all types of liquor in grocery stores. You can also go to a bar/tavern and buy go! Freaked me out the first time we did that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Re Houston and Dallas

Notice the title is not Houston v. Dallas, for a couple of reasons. First, I've spent very little time in Dallas: a handful of short business trips and three or four days for LJ's wedding. It's a bit of an exaggeration (but not much) to say what that I know about Dallas I have seen from an office or rent car window and LJ's backyard. Consequently, I can't say anything intelligent about Dallas. I don't have LJ's perspective, and so can only comment on what I know about Houston, which leads to reason number two: Try as I might, I'm having a hard time disagreeing with much of what LJ has said, although there are some points to address.

Hot and humid: check. I'm sure Dallas has a higher average summer temperature than Houston, but lower humidity. Unfortunately it's the humidity that makes you suffer. On the other hand, Houston's average low in the winter has to be quite a bit warmer than Dallas' and that's just fine with me. We don't get the occasional snow like Dallas (well, once a decade maybe), which would be neat, but I'll trade the generally mild winter temps for that.

Dirty, yes, more often than not. For the life of me I can't understand why the City can't mow the grass and pick up trash on the freeways and major streets.

The billboards are hideous. It's been a long time since I paid attention to the Billboards Wars, and I guess things are better than they used to be (although I don't see how), but we apparently have a Billboard Lobby that has every Houston politician in its pocket. It's a shame.

The Chronic is a pitiful rag. I've liked the Morning News since I was a student in Austin and picked it up when I couldn't find the Chronic or the Post.

Not mentioned by either LJ or Scooter (maybe because they're not natives) is the fact that among cities in the U.S. of any real size, Houston is the only one without zoning. I used to be able to spout the advantages of the lack of zoning, but they escape me now.

LJ, I'm afraid your dismissal of the suburbs of Dallas (incorporated cities though they are) and those of Houston (unincorporated and subsumed by the Blob that is Houston) doesn't work. The Woodlands, Kingwood, Sugarland, and Clear Lake are Houston, and if you're going to fault "Houston" for it's ugliness, you have to give credit to the parts of it that aren't ugly and in fact are pretty damn nice. For every ugly freeway view and littered corner there are really nice places in Houston, and they are often in the far-flung suburbs. So I can't let you take those out of the equation. Likewise, Dallas is just not the city limits: it's Plano, Irving, etc. for better or worse.

Who's more conservative? LJ's not stating that Dallas is more conservative because he thinks it's favorable; he's just making an observation. I'm sure the numbers are available for the last national election and I'm guessing that there's no discernible difference. I do think that Dallas traditionally, at least the early 1960s, was considered ultraconservative. The right-wingers killed Kennedy, right? Nuff said.

Sports, which started this, I can't really comment on. I hate the Cowboys because I must since I'm from Houston. I've suffered with the Astros since the first time I set foot in Colt Stadium and I always will. I recall with nostalgia the Rockets' run and Scooter, LJ, and the gang on Nina Lee. That's the limit of my sports input.

Maybe more later; Scooter said "more to come." Someone hold him to it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Prager gets Scootered

Dennis Prager has Scooter moment…and the guy stopped.

When the walls fell...

Corner post reads a lot like my Wallpaper looks.

What's your problem?

I really enjoy watching the “What’s your problem?” NRO bits but have to agree with this reader about Peter Beinart’s sound levels.

Old hood is now New Chinatown

Story in the Chronic.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Clarence Thomas on the Constitution

Courtesy of City Journal. I've been waiting to post this, having read it last week.

Alice Cooper...

a right-wing, Christian rock star on Dennis Miller.

Re LJ and Houston

1) That you rented monthly from the owner. It was an apartment to you. And so what? How does apartment v condo change my point?

2) You're right. I'm not a foodie and you weren't either until you met C.

Re: Re LJ and Houston

1) It was a condo, not an apartment.
2) I went to the same restaurants you did.

Don't let being a native Houstonian cloud your judgement. I was as pro-Houston as anyone could be and it pains me to say the things about Houston that I have. I don't think I've ever met anyone that has lived in both that prefers Houston.

Re LJ and Houston

Two quick points. LJ, after you moved out of your parent's house, you chose to live in a crummy apartment in a crummy part of town. You now live in a nice suburb of Dallas. I think that colors your thinking.

Also, you didn't go to decent restaurants until you met C; ergo, you don't know any decent restaurants in Houston.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Carol Platt Liebau...

puts in her two cents on Lileks here.

Hewitt on Lileks...

HH goes above and beyond for his friend Lileks here:

So does a newspaper need local writers with national talent?

I have broadcast four of the past five years from the Minnesota State Fair. Each year Lileks has been kind enough to spend an afternoon with me, and the crowds that come to say hello to James and snatch a photo or an autograph are large and always the sort of people you want reading your paper --the employed, the dads and moms, the folks who patronize your advertisers. They know Lileks. They are connected to him --which isn't surprising since he's been writing for the paper since before Reagan entered office (and he's still on the sunny side of 50!).

Dave Barry chimes in on Lileks...

here. As do his blog buddies.

Re: Houston v. Dallas

Ok, if we are going to discuss this, you're right, we ought to set some ground rules.

It's hard to take the suburbs out of the picture, at least for me. What are Coppell, Plano, Garland, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Katy, the Park Cities, and Bellaire, if not part of their neighboring behemoths? Aren't Kingwood and Clear Lake now actually part of Houston? I thought they'd been annexed. But, I'll try to accept your premise.

I also have to defer to your more recently having lived in both cities. I grew up in Dallas but left there in 1978 and haven't lived in Houston since 1995. I thought that might make me more objective but it may just make me less informed. I certainly agree that towns like that one with the minor league baseball team shouldn't count for Dallas...In my youth I used to camp on the farms/ranches that used to be there.

Fort Worth is definitely its own city (if only by its own proclamation) and its ARTS certainly slam that of Dallas in every area save Music. Thank G-d for the Bass and Hunt families. And you're right about its downtown, too. Very user-friendly, even after hours.

Traffic/Mass Transit: I'll defer to you on the latter but my last few trips through the city, including after peak hours, were hell.

More to come.

Lileks spiked?

The Strib should have just canned him instead of consigning him to hell. I know it might not have been the best thing for Mr. Lileks but why hang him out on a gig he'll hate.

Lileks will only get better, both artistically and materially.

Reese Witherspoon...

robs bank in Austin.

Ok, not my joke but Jeff Ward's.

Re: Dallas vs. Houston

I have to agree to disagree with some of your comparisons between the two cities. At the outset, let me say that I am talking about Dallas proper, not Dallas-Fort Worth, nor all the little mini-cities that make up what most people consider Dallas. On the Houston side, I'm not talking about the far-from-the-city-center suburbs ala Kingwood, The Woodlands, Sugarland, Clear Lake, etc.

On the arts comparison (as I now go against the guidelines I mentioned above), Fort Worth surpasses Dallas easily, which to me makes Houston far ahead of Dallas.

Restaurants - I thought Houston had tons of great ones until I moved here. It is truly unbelievable as to the number of great places. On the plus side for Dallas is the yearly "Restaurant Week" sponsored by KRLD to benefit the Dallas Food Bank. For a $30 fixed price, you get a 3 course meal at any of the many restaurants that are involved. And the week usually stretches to 3. And we are talking 4 and 5 star places (Mansion on Turtle Creek, Nana, Nobu to name a few). It is a great way to go to the places that would normally be out your price range and get the same quality food/service. C and I hit 3 or 4 every year. We have friends that almost go every night.

Traffic/Mass Transit - Dallas again is the winner. First of all, the traffic isn't that bad anyway. There are spots that get backed up and weather can play a part, but unlike 610 between I-10 and 59 that seems to be a total parking lot 24/7, during the day traffic moves quite easily here. Plus I can't think of one freeway in Dallas that is under construction. 45 and 610 and I-10 in Houston seemingly always are. And the DART light-rail/bus system is used much more than I had thought. Plus the train service between Dallas and Ft. Worth. When I worked at Ernst and Young (in downtown Dallas), I drove 5 miles to a train station, caught the train into downtown Dallas, then took the DART light-rail to a stop across the street from my building. From the time I left my house to the time I walked in the building was about 50 minutes. Free parking at the train station and EY picked up a BIG part of the DART/Train pass fee (cost me about $20 a month). Other than the Park-N-Ride system for folks who live WAY out, Houston has what, that stupid rail system between the Dome and Medical Center?

Yes, both cities are hotter than hell, but Dallas (usually) doesn't have the humidity and even when it's 100+, it doesn't feel that hot, especially in the shade.

The Chronicle is a rag, compared to almost any daily paper. It is just "too busy" and difficult to read.

Maybe after the political anti-Christ got through redrawing district lines Houston became more Republican, but I think in general, Dallas is a more conservative place than Houston. SJL...need I say more?

And Houston is just a sprawling, dirty, billboard infested place. Dallas has a much cleaner, newer look to it. If the Dallas mayor and council could just get off their asses and do something to downtown so that it doesn't become a wasteland weekdays after 6 and on weekends. All they need to do is look to their little brother Fort Worth. Their downtown is awesome.