Athlete Almost Worth His/Her Salary
Readers’ choice: Yu Darvish
Critic’s choice: Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas
The first half of FC Dallas’ season was little short of nightmarish, but it started to turn around in January, when the Hoops acquired this 22-year-old striker from the Colorado School of Mines in the MLS SuperDraft. The speedy native of Calgary, Alberta, has been good for a phenomenal stretch of goals, helping the resurgent Hoops back into playoff position. For a draft pick many thought of as a stretch, he has been an excellent value.
Use of Taxpayer Money
Critic’s choice: West 7th Street Bridge
Last year, a new bridge was needed to span the Trinity River and allow motorists to easily navigate between downtown and the bustling West 7th Street entertainment corridor and the Cultural District. The existing bridge, built in 1913, desperately needed updating. City and state transportation officials did more. They oversaw the design of a gorgeous new bridge with 10-foot pedestrian walkways and bold, eye-catching arches, which were built off-site to minimize the amount of time the existing bridge had to be closed. Work was completed a month ahead of schedule and on budget, and the end result says a lot about Fort Worth’s progressive and artistic bent.
Critic’s choice: Riverside Arts District
This feisty group has been working with the Better Block folks and surrounding residential groups for two years, taking on the redevelopment of Race Street into a lively arts district one chunk at a time as part of the Six Points Urban Village. Last year they worked on the south side of the street, helping turn vacant buildings into artists’ studios, offices, a martial arts school, and, behind the buildings, a community garden. When the city was set to re-stripe and resurface the street, the group asked for bike lanes and got them. Change in this part of Riverside has come in fits and starts, but the arts district organization is an important part of a revitalization that seems to be picking up speed.
Example of Gumption or Grit
Critic’s choice: Dorothy Luck
When Dorothy Luck, age 85, saw her life savings being drained away by Fort Worth probate Judge Steve King, she fought back and eventually won. As she found out the hard way, Texas allows its judges to initiate guardianship cases, unlike most states. Thanks in part to reporting by Fort Worth Weekly, King signed an agreement last March that gave Luck her life back, but not before she lost a small fortune in the ordeal.
Readers’ choice: Dave Lieber
Critic’s choice: Jane Lynn
Jane Lynn has been railing against gas drilling in Arlington for several years now. And she’s been heard. A regular at Arlington City Hall, she helps keep the city council apprised of what drillers are doing — from buying water the city can hardly afford to sell to raising a ruckus over XTO’s illegal taking of 1.4 million gallons of water from Dalworthington Garden’s little Pappy Elkins Lake. She was also instrumental in getting Arlington to deny Chesapeake Energy a permit to drill on the Rush Creek site the company wanted. Keep it up, Ms. Lynn.
Critic’s choice: Walkable Dallas-Fort Worth
Scientists say that getting people out of their cars is not only good for the environment but also for traffic patterns, social interactions, and general mental well-being. Patrick Kennedy’s blog (also known as Car Free in Big D) is devoted to changing car-dependent North Texas into a region that is more explorable on foot. Though he sometimes uses statistics to the point of wonkiness, his knowledge and passion for the subject are easy to get caught up in, especially when you’re stuck on I-35 during rush hour. (Don’t read and drive, though.)
Preserver of History
Critic’s choice: Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 1700 University Dr
Since 1987, the scientists of this amazing research and education institute have been finding and documenting the history and present of plant life from around the globe. In the last decade, they’ve discovered dozens of species previously unknown to science. In addition to projects in Europe and the Pacific, BRIT now is working with prairie preservation groups to help save that natural ecosystem so integral to the history and, one hopes, the future of this part of Texas and much of our nation. If in wildness is the preservation of the world, then surely preserving the natural world in all its variety is a link in the process of saving us all.
Unused P.R. Slogan
Critic’s choice: “Save Water — We Can’t Drink Frack Fluid”
Watering restrictions are understandable in a time when lakes are anywhere from six to 20 feet low and drinking water supplies have reached the critical point in many places. But the water saved by reducing lawn watering and fixing leaky faucets seems almost pointless in the face of the fact that it takes three to five million gallons of water to frack one gas well. Texas should be rethinking the downside of the fracking boom on many counts, but this is an important one.
Critic’s choice: West 7th Street Bridge bike stunt
Mat Olson’s BMX bike ride over the arches of the newly built 7th Street Bridge grabbed national attention for a couple of days in January. The daredevil scaled the six arches — sans guardrails –– while friends videotaped his stunt and then posted it on YouTube. And it looks like he’ll be the only one to accomplish such a feat. He hyped his ride so well and earned so much attention that the city placed barriers to prevent future attempts.
Critic’s choice: Dreamy Life Records, 1617 Park Place Av
It’s not by design that Dreamy Life Records is a secret; it’s just brand-spanking new. Located within the Itsee Trading Co. women’s boutique on the Near Southside, Dreamy Life is the place to go for the latest and greatest in Fort Worth music and underground culture. Its still-growing record and tape selection is heavy on local stuff. The non-local selection is fastidiously curated by its staff, a handful of Fairmount residents who are passionate about DIY music and art. Better still, you’ll find fun stuff like local band shirts, guitar picks, and an ever-changing assortment of effects pedals.
Sign of the Apocalypse
Critic’s choice: Texas Railroad Commission’s decision to stop staff from speaking to the press
Talk about government neither by the people nor for the people. This is the same agency that said, on the record, in court, and got away with it, that their definition of serving “the public interest” is to do everything they can to help the oil and gas industry get the stuff out of the ground. Forget air pollution, earthquakes, the fouling of aquifers, the sucking up of increasingly scarce surface water, health problems, noise problems, livestock deaths, the dangers of huge trucks thundering through neighborhoods and down country roads, and the turning of some areas into environmental sacrifice zones. Perhaps if reporters carried stock certificates showing they own a share in Exxon or their mineral lease papers, they might be allowed in the door as being part of the commission’s true constituency. These bureaucrats should be ashamed, and they should be gone.