By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Skoal:Vodka maker Smirnoff agrees to temporarily remove its name from Fair Park's Smirnoff Music Centre for a children's concert by teen popster Aaron Carter. For the night of the concert only, the name will be changed to something more appropriate. Thousands come to the God-Awful Crap Music Centre to enjoy the show.
May & June
Blockhead voting:In a radio ad, incumbent city council member Maxine Thornton-Reese urges voters in her predominantly black district to pick the candidate "who looks like you" in her race against former council member Larry Duncan, who is white. Duncan counters with an ad urging voters to pick the candidate who looks like he's not a dim-witted racist.
Ka-ching: Dallas voters agree to a pay increase for the mayor and city council members, giving them their first raise since 1969. Under the plan, council members will receive $37,500 and the mayor $60,000 annually. In keeping with long-standing tradition, the council members' new salaries will be paid in worn, non-sequential $20 bills and delivered in plain brown envelopes in a parking garage at Love Field.
All in the community:St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church, a politically influential black church, is struck by vandals the night before a crucial debate on a hate-crimes bill in the Texas Senate. Though the vandals painted a swastika on the church, fears that the desecration was racially motivated quickly subside when an investigation reveals that the culprit most likely was someone who looks like Maxine Thornton-Reese.
Working blue:KXTA-TV announces that it has given Mark Cuban his own 30-minute television show, to begin airing in the fall. Unlike ordinary sports shows, the new Cuban offering will be scrambled and available only on a pay-per-view basis, between late-night showings of B.J. and the Bareand Lord of the Cock Rings.
Irie, irie:Two Dallas police officers are suspended, and one later fired, for refusing to cut their dreadlocks to conform to department policy. A police spokesman explains that although the hairstyles themselves were not particularly odd, the sight of someone with dreadlocks carrying a pistol "scared the bejabbers out of white folk in North Dallas."
Vote early, etc.: Election officials throw out between 150 and 200 absentee ballots after learning campaign workers for losing city council candidate Dwaine Caraway allegedly violated technical rules governing how ballots may be gathered and delivered. The move stymies a long-standing practice in which paid political operatives cajole, wheedle, pay for or outright steal ballots from elderly black voters in Southern Dallas. Embarrassed voters explain that they didn't know that turning over their ballots was wrong; they merely handed them to someone "who looks like them."
Ramped up: Work tentatively begins on the Trinity River project with construction of a concrete boat ramp near Sylvan Avenue, part of a $246 million bond package approved by voters in 1998. City officials hail the work, proclaiming the ramp a godsend for Dallasites who dump old refrigerators, mattresses and dead bodies in the river.
July & August
They is smart:More than 1,000 members of American Mensa, a group composed of geniuses, gather in Addison for their annual national convention. The first order of business for the conferees will be to figure out why anyone with half a brain would have a convention in Addison in July--or any other month.
Fashion sense: Dallas Independent School District adopts a new dress code that bans body piercings, short skirts, bare midriffs, droopy drawers, untucked shirts and flip-flops. In a later vote, district trustees amend the code so that it applies to students as well as teachers.
He feels pretty: Jerry Jones reveals a new, slimmed-down, less-wrinkled appearance but refuses to comment on rumors that he had undergone a face-lift. The cat exits the bag, however, after comedian Joan Rivers sues the Cowboys' owner for trademark infringement, alleging that he "stole her look."
Thrilled to be here:Six Flags Over Texas celebrates its 40th anniversary. To commemorate the event, concessionaires serve hot dogs left over from the theme park's original opening in 1961. "We would normally do that anyway, but this year makes them collectors items," a park spokesman says.
Tequila sunset: City council members and some in the Hispanic community object to an offer from liquor manufacturer Guinness United Distillers & Vintners North America Inc. to name a planned performance hall at the Latino Cultural Center the Jose Cuervo Performance Hall in exchange for a $1 million donation. Council members opt instead to sell the naming rights to Dallas-based Oak Farms Dairy, saying that "Sour-Milk Breath and Fatty Deposit Performance Hall" has a much nicer ring to it.
Fetch the soap: City council member Laura Miller stirs anger among Hispanics after she threatens to close a small Oak Cliff bus line that offers trips to Mexico. Miller refuses a request for relief from the widow of the company's owner, who had committed suicide. Miller complains that the bus company was operating in violation of city codes. The Dallas Observerstory on the controversy includes this quote from Miller concerning code-busting businesses on Davis Street: "I'm going to go up and down that motherfucking street, and if they don't shape up and comply, I'm gonna close those fuckers down." Miller denies making the statement. "Anyone who says I talk like that is a lying cocksucker," she says. In fact, no more than one of the preceding two quotes is made up.