Guilt by Disassociation

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Posted December 13, 2006 by Static in News

Tarrant County Judge Tom Vandergriff’s decision to move out of his landmark house at 1216 W. Park Row in Arlington after 38 years sparked a couple of sordid memories for Weekly staff writer Jeff Prince, who grew up in Arlington when Vandergriff was the city’s beloved mayor.

Prince was an apolitical bumpkin back then, but he always respected Vandergriff as someone who went out of his way to help others. So it bugged him when one of his Arlington High School classmates – are you listening Jaime? – drove onto the mayor’s manicured lawn one night and did donuts.

Worse than that was what happened in 1976, after a new high school choir director dragooned half a dozen football players into learning to sing. Prince – now a musician in his own right – joined, but he and his buddies spent most of their choir time making the director’s life a living hell until the athletes were all “unrecruited” by year’s end.

While the doomed experiment was still going on, Vandergriff invited the choir (his daughter was a member) to the house for snacks one night. The director warned the footballers to be on their best behavior, but you can guess how much good that did, with a bunch of yahoos who, in pre-steroid days, were still full of teen rage and idiocy. One particular athlete turned choirboy – are you listening Alan? – for no particular reason took out his pocketknife and gouged a piece of wood out of the Vandergriffs’ living room door frame, then proudly showed it off to Prince. The future reporter was appalled – not only from moral indignation, but also because he feared they’d all be called into the coach’s office and forced to run wind sprints for the rest of their natural lives. But, strangely, nobody ever mentioned the incident.

In the years since (he begged us not to say how many years), Prince interviewed Vandergriff many times – and often thought of but never mentioned that long-ago bit of vandalism.

Last week, the shame became too much for him and he called to confess. The result was a resounding “whaaaa?” Vandergriff, now 80 and planning to step down as county judge, didn’t recall the injury to the door, or even the visit by the choir. His wife Anna was even less help – she insisted it never even happened.

So much for 30 years (OK, we told) of nursing a guilty conscience.

Do They Come with Remote Control?

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones unveiled plans for his $1 billion Arlington stadium this week, saying that architects had sought to create an environment to draw fans away from their tv sets to see the team in living blue-and-silver. From what we can tell, however, the Jones way of doing this is to hang as many tv sets as possible at the new stadium. Four humongous video screens will hang over the center of the field; others huge sets will glow in the end zone’s standing-room bar areas. Tailgaters don’t even have to come inside – they’ll be able to watch the games on digital video screens hanging outside the stadium. Or they can come in and watch the game … on more tvs, at any of the stadium’s eight clubs and 23 bars and lounges.

Tickets at the new digs will go for an average of $100. So why would anybody pay that much for a ticket, plus parking, just for the privilege of watching the ‘boys on Jerry’s tv’s? Static would rather take the money, buy five cases of beer, and watch from home. In fact, that sounds like a plan – and hey, maybe Jerry would chip in the $100, from all the tax money he’s getting.


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