SNAFU

Buzz looks back on 2001 and proves once again that the boy just ain't normal

September & October
 
Goodbye, kitty:Belo Corp., owner of the Morning News and WFAA-TV, announces that it is abandoning the CueCat, a computer device that allowed Web surfers to scan bar codes printed in the newspaper to direct their computers to Internet sites. The move comes several weeks after Digital Convergence Corp., creator of the device, laid off most of its workers and announced it was "restructuring," as in "restructured until further notice." Belo had invested more than $37 million in its partnership with Digital Convergence in a move business and Internet analysts described, in their highly technical jargon, as "dumb as a bag of hammers." At the height of its popularity, three, maybe four, people--all of them Belo employees--used the CueCat. A Belo spokesman says that in the future the company will invest only in more promising new technologies: "I don't want to give away the store, but let me give you a hint--perpetual motion machine."

When the levee breaks:The White House Office of Management and Budget releases a letter sent to the secretary of the Army that accuses the Army Corps of Engineers of deliberately deceiving the public about the supposed benefits of the Trinity River project. Among OMB's concerns is the fear that the joint city-Corps plan to extend levees will actually make flooding worse. A city council majority, apparently unaware that deceiving the public about high-dollar, business-backed projects is in fact wrong,votes to press ahead.

Not even a bronze:Just days before voters are scheduled to decide on financial guarantees for the city's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, U.S. Olympic Committee officials cut Dallas from the list of potential host cities. The remaining finalists are Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. "There was room for only one hot, humid, entirely inappropriate Southern city on the list, and Houston got here first," a USOC spokesman says.

Blank check:Less than a year after the opening of the American Airlines Center, built with the help of more than $125 million in tax money, arena developers ask the city council to set aside another $44.5 million in future taxes to help build a retail, office and residential district around the center. The request comes despite earlier assurances that $125 million would be the limit for public financing for the arena project. "What, you mean deceiving the public about large projects they helped pay for is wrong?" says a clearly puzzled spokesman for developer The Palladium Co.

Here's the story...:Laura Miller reveals to the Morning News--she stopped talking to the Observer after that unfortunate quote--that her decision on whether to run for mayor hinges on a family vote. The newly matronly Miller says the household gathers in the evenings at family meetings to nosh on Alice's meatloaf, hear Greg's latest song, chart the future of Dallas politics and stare at Marsha's developing hooters. ("It's always Marsha, Marsha, Marsha," Miller's middle daughter, Jan, complains. Miller tells her to "shut your fucking pie-hole and vote 'yes' for mayor.")

November & December
 
Washington or bust:Mayor Ron Kirk resigns to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Phil Gramm. Kirk announces that his campaign slogan will be, "Vote for the person who looks like Ron Kirk." Facing the loss of its favorite mayoral son and the upcoming Laura Miller and Domingo Garcia candidacies, the downtown business establishment scrambles to field a candidate. Members of the Citizens Council assemble a crack team of computer, puppetry and animatronics experts from Disney World who work feverishly to produce challenger Tom Dunning, whom they tout as appearing "almost lifelike."

Lord no: Authorities in Denton County drop cocaine-possession charges filed against former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin because the evidence against him was obtained through an unlawful search. Irvin credits divine intervention. "This is a God thing," Irvin says at a news conference. A spokesman for God issues a statement denying responsibility. "The good Lord has all he can do looking after fools and drunkards," the spokesman says. "There are not enough hours in His day to deal with the drug problems of former Cowboys."

Out of the pink: Mary Kay Ash, founder of Dallas-based Mary Kay Cosmetics and purveyor of everything pink, dies. Mourners reveal that for the first time in history, a comment commonly heard at funerals turns out to be true--she really did "look just like she did when she was alive."

Florida-style:Judge Richard Mays discounts 32 ballots found to be illegal and voids the city council election of Maxine Thornton-Reese, who defeated District 4 challenger Larry Duncan by 16 votes in May. Thornton-Reese denies any wrongdoing and retains her council seat while she appeals the ruling. The Bush administration files a friend-of-the-court brief on Thornton-Reese's behalf, stating "the notion that to win the election you have to receive more lawful votes than the other guy would set a dangerous precedent."

Meanwhile, at the plantation:Mayoral hopeful Tom Dunning draws fire for his membership in the Dallas Country Club, which has no black members. Dunning shrugs off the criticism, noting that he has tried to attract African-Americans to the club but has been unable to locate any self-respecting black person willing to hang out with a bunch of white, upper-middle-class stiffs in Highland Park.

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