News and Features

The High Five: Dallas Really Wants To Host The 2024 Summer Olympics

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Dallas has Olympic dreams; Fort Worth comes closer to naming a new city manager; Wichita Falls’ toilet water could be transformed into drinking water; and more.

  • Dallas really wants to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. And North Texas might know by next month whether it’s still in the running. The Dallas Morning News reports that the U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to soon make a decision on which American cities will still be considered. If Dallas is awarded a bid – and that’s still a big if – Fair Park would play a key role. An Olympic Village would be built near Fair Park. A renovated Cotton Bowl could host track and field events. Fair Park could host other competitions, too. “American Airlines Center, Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, the Trinity River corridor, Toyota Stadium in Frisco and existing and proposed facilities at Southern Methodist University would all be major event sites,” The Newsreports. And don’t leave out AT&T Stadium – it seems to be an obvious choice for hosting something big during a proposed North Texas Olympics. North Texas would have some stiff American competition: Boston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Philadelphia are among some of the cities that apparently want to host the 2024 Games. KXAS-TV explored the possibility back in February. Texas Monthly analyzes the news. But if Big D were to land the big event, what would we call it? The Dallas-Fort Worth Olympics? The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Olympics? The North Texas Olympics?
  • It’s down to three city manager finalists in Fort Worth. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports all three are from out of state and that the City Council will conduct more interviews later this month. They are Roderick L. Bremby, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services; David Cooke, the director of business development for Mulkey Engineers and Consultants in Raleigh, N.C.; and Penny Postoak Ferguson, deputy county manager of Johnson County, Kan., who was previously an assistant city manager in San Antonio. “The council tossed out all four of the original finalists in February and started over, re-advertising for the job and bringing in new candidates,” the newspaper reports. The council is seeking a new city manager after Tom Higgins announced his retirement. But he’s staying on until the council finds his replacement.
  • Last week, Mayor Mike Rawlings told KERA that Toyota chose to move its national headquarters to Plano over Dallas in part because of the state of the Dallas ISD. “The big elephant in the room is we don’t get Toyota in Dallas because of the school system,” Rawlings said. But Rawlings told The Dallas Morning News he made a mistake when he said that, saying he “spoke out of turn.” The Newsreported: “He [said he] believed what he said about the school, but shouldn’t have presumed to speak for Toyota executives as to their reasons for the move.” Rawlings said: “Plano [over Dallas] was a smart move for Toyota,” because workers could live in northern Dallas and have a manageable commute.
  • What goes down the toilet might come back through your faucet as drinking water. Wichita Falls could become the first city in the country where half of the drinking water comes directly from wastewater. Yes, that includes water from toilets, which for some citizens is a little tough to swallow, as KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports. She traveled to Wichita Falls to explore the issue. Water supplies are still expected to run out in two years, which is why the city has built a 13-mile pipeline that connects its wastewater plant directly to the plant where water is purified for drinking. “I think it’s gross,” said Marissa Oliveras as she ordered a glass of tap water with her sandwich at Gidget’s Sandwich Shack in downtown Wichita Falls.
  • SMU has announced speakers for its 33rd season of the Tate Lecture SeriesThe season starts  in late September with a trio of big political names: Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright, who both served as Secretary of State, as well as David Gergen, the former presidential adviser. Other speakers include PayPal founder Peter Thiel, New York Times columnist David Brooks, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and statistician Nate Silver.
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Theater Folk – Try Howling A Little This Week

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jona2North Texas playwright Jonathan Norton has started a conversation over at HowlRound, the do-it-yourself theater dialogue-advice-swapping-ongoing-symposia website. He’s posted about the plight of local playwrights, and I know what you’re thinking: Just what we need, another artist going on about why doesn’t anyone produce my work, why can’t I get any media attention, what’s wrong with all you people? Trust me, if that were the case, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

No, actually, what’s interesting about Norton’s post is that his proposed solution(s) to the problem of how do North Texas dramatists get anywhere, even a first leg up somehow, is not More Productions From Local Theaters Now, Especially From You Know Who You Are (The Dallas Theater Center) And Lots of Happy Reviews for Everybody. Nope, Norton recognizes the DTC’s mission is broader than just new plays, and if there’s one slot per season that’s devoted to brand-new plays, his work may be  considered against a whole country’s worth of new plays.

Instead, given Will Power’s suggestion — if, god-like, you could make anything happen to better things for local dramatists, what would it be? — Norton sets aside the whole gimme-a-staging-or-two idea in order to consider other possibilities that might help. Like, more dramaturgical support. Or more exposure to professional theater practices through mini-residencies (during which playwrights would attend production meetings, assist with script readings, etc.). Plus, road trips to “new play development hot spots” (the Humana Festival, PlayPenn, New Dramatists, etc.).

Admittedly, his proposals may well be more costly than simply staging a new play or two, but they are also more pragmatic and considered in that they address systemic weaknesses in the whole non-profit theater production line. As Norton points out, the Dallas area has actually been a surprisingly rich though completely erratic source for new playwrights (Beth Henley, Doug Wright, Octavio Solis, Regina Taylor, he neglects Preston Jones and D. L. Coburn). So we’ve got that legacy (although, of course, as with most of our talented actors and designers, most of these people promptly moved elsewhere.)

But consider: We got all those writers without even consciously doing much. What, Norton asks, could the theater community do if it actually put some thought and resources into it?

You can offer some of your thoughts/responses at HowlRound.

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The High Five: Texans Have A Lot Of State Pride, Survey Shows

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: a significant K2 overdose in North Texas last week; the Mavs lose to the Spurs in Game 7; Texans have a lot of state pride; and more:

  • We all know Texans have a lot of state pride. And here’s more proof. Nearly 70 percent of Texas residents who were polled say their state is the best place to live in the country — that’s one of the highest rates in the United States. Meanwhile, only 24 percent of Texas residents — or about one in four — say they would like to move out of the state if they could. That’s among one of the lowest rates of any state in the country. That’s according to several new Gallup polls. Read more about how Texans feel about their state.
  • Four legendary NPR journalists are in North Texas. Cokie Roberts, Susan Stamberg, Nina Totenberg and Linda Wertheimer will speak at 8 p.m. Monday at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium as part of the SMU Tate Lecture Series. The event is sold out. The four women are known as the founding mothers of NPR.
  • Within 48 hours late last week, about 40 people in Dallas overdosed on K2, a synthetic drug that mimics marijuana. WFAA-TV reports that 20 patients were treated at Baylor Medical Center, while The Dallas Morning News reports 18 went to Parkland Memorial Hospital. K2 is sold over the counter. On Friday, several arrived at Baylor with symptoms similar to psychosis, including altered mental status, a doctor told WFAA. The station reports: “The patients, who ranged from teenagers to people in their mid-50s, were so sick some had to be sedated and others had to be watched to keep them from hurting themselves.” No deaths have been reported. Dallas police and the Drug Enforcement Administration are investigating. In Austin, at least 15 people were treated last week for overdoses, KXAS-TV reports. “Police are trying to determine who sold the drugs and whether synthetic marijuana was mixed with another substance, possibly heroin,” the station reported.
  • It’s game over for the Dallas Mavericks. The San Antonio Spurs on Sunday crushed the Mavs 119-96 in Game 7 of their playoff series. Tony Parker scored 32 points. At one point, the Spurs led by 31. The Associated Press reports via ESPN: “The finale featured Tim Duncan diving into Dallas’ bench to save a ball and the Spurs’ reserves continually on their feet to celebrate baskets. But no one had as much fun or hit the floor more than Parker. The All-Star point guard was 11 for 19 from the field and 10 for 13 on free throws as Dallas was unable to keep him from attacking the lane, despite a series of hard fouls.” For a couple of weeks, Dallas was a playoff town with the Mavericks and Dallas Stars both in playoff series. Now it’s all a distant memory.
  • So why is Toyota leaving California to move its headquarters to Plano? The Los Angeles Times reports: “Taxes, regulations and business climate appear to have had nothing to do with Toyota’s move. It came down to a simple matter of geography and a plan for corporate consolidation, Toyota’s North American chief told The Times.” Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American chief executive, said it didn’t make sense to have employees spread out in three states. “Geography is the reason not to have our headquarters in California,” he told The Times. The newspaper reports: “The automaker will be eligible for $40 million from [the] Texas Enterprise Fund, plus some local tax breaks in Plano. But Lentz said incentives were a minor factor in the decision.” Catch up on the move here and here.
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A Lotta Dance, A Lotta Design Make This A Bold ‘Carmen’

HGO - Carmen - Dress Rehearsal - Photographer Lynn Lane-149Ana Maria Martinez as Carmen, Brandon Jovanovich as Don Jose in the HGO’s Carmen. All photos by Lynn Lane

HOUSTON — Larry Kelly, co-founder of the Dallas Opera, liked to say that opera was superior to the other arts because it encompassed all of them. While the “superior” part of that proposition is arguable, there’s no question that a well-thought-out and well-integrated inclusion of the non-musical arts can add greatly to the success of an opera.

That certainly is the case with the Houston Grand Opera’s latest production, Georges Bizet’s Carmen. There is far more dancing, dramatic directorial intervention and design coups than you would expect to see in the typical Carmen. Yet instead of overwhelming this great musical drama, they consistently enhance it. This is one Carmen that has a strong emotional pull.

Major credit should go to Rob Ashford, who is listed as both director and choreographer of the production. His résumé includes far more Broadway credits and Tony Award citations than operatic listings. This, combined with the fact that the printed program lists thirteen solo dancers, was a signal that this was going to be a dance-heavy production.

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The High Five: Plano Hosts New Suburbia Music Festival This Weekend

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Plano hosts the new Suburbia Music Festival; the George W. Bush Library and Museum celebrates its first year; if Sriracha expands to Texas, could it head to San Antonio?; and more:

  • This weekend, a big new music festival is actually happening in Plano of all places. The Suburbia Music Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday at Oak Point Park & Nature Reserve. The lineup includes dozens of musical groups, including Alabama Shakes, David Guetta, J. Cole, Violent Femmes, Third Eye Blind, Blue October, Reverend Horton Heat, Midlake, Slightly Stoopid and Tegan and Sara. The Dallas Morning News takes a look at how the event puts Plano on the musical map. A colleague of the senior vice president of Live Nation regularly jogs at Oak Point Park and suggested the spot. “It’s like this oasis in the middle of a large amount of population,” Danny Eaton told The News. “You feel like you are getting away, but you don’t have to drive 100 miles and camp out. You can sleep in your own bed.”
  • The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum had more than 438,000 visitors in its first year. The library, on the SMU campus, on Thursday celebrated its first anniversary of being open to the public with events that included a video presentation recapping the last year. Some documents and artifacts that haven’t been displayed previously also are being shown. The National Archives and Records Administration says that of the previous two presidential libraries to open, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Ark., had more than 493,000 visitors in its first year, while the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station had 309,000. Margaret Spellings, president of the George W. Bush Center, talked with KERA this week. [Associated Press]
  • On Thursday, former President George W. Bush gave a wide-ranging interview to CNN. He said he hopes his brother, Jeb, will run for president. But he said he doesn’t think he’ll make a decision on running for president for about a year. He says he hasn’t talked with his brother about whether he will run. The former president called “despicable” the racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Bush on Thursday kicked off the Warrior 100k, an annual, three-day 100-kilometer mountain bike race designed to highlight military members.
  • Expect more drought conditions across North Texas this summer. The Dallas Morning News reports: “AccuWeather, a private forecasting service, expects drought to intensify across Texas and the far West through summer. It also forecasts a tranquil year in the tropics, particularly in the western Gulf of Mexico, which could limit tropical storm activity and the heavy rains they can generate.” Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is reporting rainfall nearly 8 inches below normal for the year. We might not see substantial rains until fall or winter when an El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean could push more rain to the Lone Star state, The News reports.
  • If Sriracha expands to Texas, might it head to San Antonio? Texas officials are heading to California on May 12 to try to lure the company that makes the popular hot sauce to the Lone Star state. Huy Fong Foods Inc. has been in a legal tangle with the town where its plant is located – residents have complained of strong odors and the company had to shut down part of its operation. Huy Fong has hinted that it could be open to expanding, but that it probably won’t be relocating. The San Antonio Express-News reports: “San Antonio is an ideal location for production of the spicy condiment because it is close to the Rio Grande Valley, a region with a large agriculture industry that could easily grow chilies for the product, [Texas state rep. Jason] Villaba said.” The newspaper continued: “Because the chilies must be transported to a factory for production soon after being harvested, San Antonio, the largest city in South Texas, logistically would be a prime location for a manufacturing plant.” San Antonio officials say there are numerous locations around the city where a plant could operate without offending residents.
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Takashi Murakama’s ‘Jellyfish Eyes’ At The DMA

friend in jellyfish

More Pillsbury Doughboy than jellyfish, but what the hey. All together now: Skweeeee! A particularly cute F.R.I.E.N.D. from Jellyfish Eyes

Last night, the Dallas Museum of Art screened the film Jellyfish Eyes by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Murakami is world-renowned for his childlike, colorful artworks, artworks that have sold for millions of dollars. But KERA’s Jerome Weeks says, this time, there’s something darker in Murakami’s art.

  • KERA radio report:
  • Online report:

Takashi Murakami’s Jellyfish Eyes is filled with a whole crowd of happy, cooing, big-eyed, little monsters — monsters that only the schoolchildren in the film can see or contact via their cellphones. Such creatures in Japan are part of a sub-culture or style known as kawaii, often translated as “cute” but covering everything from Hello Kitty lunch pails to adult women dressing and acting (and even getting cosmetic surgery to look) like schoolgirls. Pokemon, the cartoon and toy mega-franchise, is probably the biggest, best-known example of such cuteness. Pokemon, in fact, is short for “pocket monsters,” an apt description of the Jellyfish critters.

Murakami has long had his own take on kawaii – in his paintings, sculptures and now his first film. Murakami says, twenty years ago, when he moved to the US, he searched his Japanese background for something he could bring to the American art scene. That turned out to be a crisp combination of historical Japanese techniques and the big-eyed cuteness of Japanese cartoons: “I want to make a bridge for the Japanese animation style and historical painting. And that was the origin of superflat idea.”

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Saturday Spotlight – ART7

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art7_category Today in the Art & Seek Spotlight, we’re checking out the new ART7 Crockett Community Gallery. The space is a satellite gallery for the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, and it opens with an exhibition of works by the Fort Worth Art Collective. See acrylics, paintings, photographs, and sculptures while enjoying live blues at the opening.

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The Big Screen: Revisiting ‘It Happened One Night’

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert each won Oscars for It Happened One Night.

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert each won Oscars for It Happened One Night.

BigScreen_logoSMALLOn Saturday, Klyde Warren Park kicks off its Classic Film Series with 1934’s It Happened One Night. Clark Gable stars as a newspaper reporter who has the story of the year drop in his lap when he meets a runaway rich girl played by Claudette Colbert.

The Big Screen’s own Chris Vognar will introduce each film in the series, which includes The Big Sleep, Red River, On the Waterfront and North by Northwest. So this week on the Big Screen, we talk about why It Happened One Night is still worth seeing 80 years after its debut.

Be sure to subscribe to The Big Screen on iTunes. Stream this week’s episode below or download it.

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The High Five: North Texas Has Some Of The Country’s Worst Air, Survey Says

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Our air is bad, but it could be worse; how Toyota’s move to North Texas could help Gov. Perry; Beethoven, baby!; and more.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth has some of the worst air in the country. North Texas ranks No. 8 on a list of most polluted cities based on ozone. That’s according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air survey. Houston was ranked No. 6 on the ozone list. The worst air, based on ozone? Los Angeles. The worst air based on year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution? Fresno, California. Take a closer look at the North Texas results. The report says: “The State of the Air 2014 shows that the nation’s air quality worsened in 2010-2012, but remains overall much cleaner than just a decade ago. More than 147.6 million people—47 percent of the nation—live where pollution levels are too often dangerous to breathe, an increase from last year’s report.”
  • Toyota announced this week it’s moving its national headquarters to Plano – and that could help Gov. Rick Perry, analysts say. “That the world’s largest automaker is leaving the nation’s leading blue state for its No. 1 red one is a victory Perry can crow about as he gears up for an expected second White House run,” The Associated Press reports. “’It’s a walk-off home run for Perry,’ said Republican political strategist Mark McKinnon, a top adviser in the presidential campaigns of John McCain and George W. Bush. ‘His jobs and economy narrative is now complete and real.’” Perry was in New York last week, trying to lure companies to Texas.
  • Underwater robots have found something strange in old shipwrecks off the coast of Galveston. KHOU-TV in Houston reports it’s basically a solidified eruption from an underwater volcano of asphalt. “[It’s] a strangely-shaped structure that’s basically a spectacular tar ball. Inside a command center at Texas A&M Galveston, a team of archaeologists, marine biologists, and other experts have been coordinating the exploration of three sunken ships lying beneath more than a mile of seawater roughly 175 miles off the Texas coast. Artifacts discovered on the sites include anchors, dishes, cannon, and even a clock apparently lost in some sort of disaster at sea about two centuries ago.”
  • And it’s Beethoven, baby! The Dallas Symphony Orchestra celebrates Ludwig van Beethoven’s music starting Thursday with three weeks of performances. On Wednesday, KERA’s Krys Boyd discsused why Beethoven remains irresistible to classical music fans with DSO music director Jaap van Zweden and concertmaster Alexander Kerr. Plus, Beethoven was deaf. “It’s hard to believe, still today, that you write music which will stay there for ages and ages, and is considered to be maybe the most beautiful music ever written, and he did not hear it himself,” van Zweden said. “It’s an amazing thing.” Listen to the roundup from KERA’s Stephen Becker. Or hear the entire show.
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Krys Boyd, Jaap Van Zweden And Alex Kerr Tackle Beethoven

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra will devote its next three weeks of concerts to Beethoven. Today on Think, DSO music director Jaap Van Zweden  and concertmaster Alex Kerr  talked to Krys Boyd about why the composer remains irresistible to classical music fans nearly 200 years after his death.

The festival kicks off Thursday and into this weekend with performances of Beethoven’s 9th.

You can download the podcast of the entire conversation from Think.

Or you can listen to highlights that Think Producer Stephen Becker shared on KERA’s evening newscast:

(Here’s Stephen’s piece, but it’s worth listening – and catching the music):

If Beethoven’s life story were dreamed up by some Hollywood screenwriter, no one would buy it. It’s too far-fetched.

“It’s hard to believe, still today, that you write music which will stay there for ages and ages, and is considered to be maybe the most beautiful music ever written, and he did not hear it himself,” says Van Zweden. “It’s an amazing thing.”

That’s right – Beethoven, certainly on the Mount Rushmore of classical composers, couldn’t enjoy his own work. Alex Kerr is the DSO’s concertmaster.

“He was starting to lose his hearing at the age of 30. And he lived and composed until he was 57.”

Hard to believe that the writer of maybe the four most recognizable notes in music history never heard them.

“How is that possible that this guy didn’t hear?” Kerr says. “I mean, in his head – he heard these things in his head. For me, it exalts him to a level that not many composers can rise to.”

Which makes you wonder – is some of that greatness actually a result of Beethoven’s later-life struggles?

“This guy has a very dark side,” says Van Zweden. “The drama in his music, you can feel actually – quite often.”

This weekend, the DSO kicks off its Beethoven Festival with his 9th Symphony. It premiered in Vienna in 1824 to five standing ovations. It’s thought that the crowd stood, at least in part, so that the composer could see their admiration.



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