By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Chris Beamon, the Ponder seventh-grader who landed in the pokey in Denton County last fall after writing a Halloween essay that described shooting a teacher and students, has moved beyond Big Chief notebooks to having his work appear in a tonier rag, Harper's magazine. (True quote from a Dallas Observer staffer: "That son of a bitch was published in Harper's before I was? Damn!") The March issue of Harper's includes Beamon's essay among an eclectic selection of prose and poetry. ("Eclectic" is the sort of word that appears regularly in Harper's, and we know what it means -- editors please note.)
Beamon's arrest last year prompted an outcry from free-speech advocates and focused media attention on the tiny community of Ponder, which is a polite way of saying everyone wondered what sort of slack-jawed boobs live there. (That's the sort of comment that got the Observer sued after we published an article lampooning the Denton County judge who ordered Beamon jailed. Damn the torpedoes...) Ironically -- perhaps deliberately -- the writings published along with Beamon's essay include quotations from a calendar honoring the memory of Benito Mussolini. Among its aphorisms: "Fascism is not only action, it is also thought."
A curtain of ice has fallen between the two mavericks on the city council, Laura Miller and Donna Blumer. Apparently Blumer was angry with Miller for failing to back her up when Blumer called for a special audit of the deal involving former Councilman Al Lipscomb and the topless-club owner who says he gave Lipscomb cash "gifts." Blumer wanted to get to the bottom of it -- who said what to whom and why did the Dallas Police Department stop enforcing the law inside gentleman's dry-hump clubs?
The duo appeared last week at a meeting of the council's public safety committee where Lipscomb's contact with the police was discussed. Neither Blumer nor Miller is a member of the committee, and they weren't allowed to speak until its members had their say. Miller says it was clear by then that the committee wasn't going to go for an audit, so she decided not to push for one.
Unfortunately, she neglected to tell Blumer first.
The committee, led by John Loza, is taking a let-bygones-be-bygones philosophy -- -understandable given Loza's driving record. But friends say Blumer expected better of Miller. At the next full meeting of the council, Blumer wouldn't even look at Miller, let alone talk to her.
"It's the first time she's been angry with me," says Miller, who tried to patch things up the next day. "My only regret is, I should have told Donna."
Billboards in Dallas have never been exactly what you might call tasteful. Roughly nine out of 10, by our count, shill liquor, beer, cheap lawyers, titty bars, DNA paternity testing, the TV show Divorce Court, or TV news people.
Is there a theme here?
They're a bit seedy, but easy to ignore, except possibly for one new billboard facing northbound Interstate 45 just south of downtown. Its terse message: LEGALIZE DRUGS.
OK, there is definitely a theme here.
The billboard, which went up last week, is a project of Americans Against the Drug War (AADW), a Dallas-based radical action group fighting to end what they call the "tyranny of oppressive government policy."
"We want people who silently agree with us to see there are others" who believe drugs should be legalized, says group spokesman Rick Day. "If this country can handle alcohol, tobacco, pornography, wife swapping, and homosexuality, we can certainly condone drug use among adults."
AADW, formed last year after its members quit more moderate drug legalization groups, paid $5,000 to rent the billboard for three months. Several companies refused to lease them space, Day said, before Eller Media, an outdoor-advertising firm owned by media behemoth Clear Channel Communications, accepted their ad.
The other companies, we suspect, didn't want their nice, legal drugs -- like scotch -- associated with evil, illegal drugs such as grass. Who says outdoor-advertising companies have no scruples? (Answer: We do.)
ó Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams