By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
It's January again, time for us to take one last gratuitous unkind swipe at the various adults who spent the past 12 months doing the grown-up stuff that keeps Dallas a functioning city, such as it is.
Maybe it's because we're getting older, but Buzz is feeling kind of bad about it this time around. Could it be that we're developing a conscience? Seriously, that's not a rhetorical question; we want to know. Never had one before, so we're not sure what it's like. Is it kind of a nervous, gassy feeling, or is that just the burrito and large latte we had for lunch?
Perhaps what's troubling us is that picture of Terrell Bolton on the cover, his face tracked with tears. Last summer, the man was unexpectedly fired from his well-paying job as chief of police then broke down in tears while speaking to his supporters, and now here we come to give him one more swift kick while he's down. Really, now, is it so wrong for a grown man to blubber in public? At long last, does Buzz have no sense of decency?
Poor ol' Terrell. Poor, poor Terrell.
Listen, buddy, let Buzz try to make it up to you with a tiny, embarrassing confession concerning the one thing that without fail puts a catch in our throat. It's a poem, and not even a good poem at that, but rather "Barbara Frietchie" by John Greenleaf Whittier, about Confederate soldiers shooting at an American flag while marching through a town in Maryland. "Bowed with her fourscore years and ten," Frietchie grabs the tattered, falling flag and shouts to the rebels. "'Shoot, if you must, this old gray head/But spare your country's flag,' she said."
Gets us every time. Sniff.
So really, Terrell, sorry about the cracks about your weeping. Turns out we're just a big softie, too. If it makes you feel any better, just consider this: Even Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, who's tougher than a $2 steak, reportedly shed a tear or two in the locker room after the team's upset victory over Carolina in November. Of course, the Pokes lost the next two games after that by a combined score of 76-31, so maybe that's a bad example.
Oooh, oooh! Here's one: Last fall, one of the people falsely arrested by your department in the fake-drug scandal--you remember it; it's the one you failed to investigate--broke down in tears on the witness stand during the trial of narcotics officer Mark DeLaPaz and...no, wait...DeLaPaz was acquitted. Those tears were fruitless, too, which likely is also a pretty good word to describe the city's long-delayed investigation into the scandal.
You know what, Terrell? Forget what we said. It is wrong for a man to cry in public--especially in undeserved self-pity--and Buzz, at long last, has no sense of decency. (A trait we might share with a certain former Dallas civil servant.) We're going to have a Tums to put our "conscience" to rest, and you can take your lumps along with everyone else. But that whole "Barbara Frietchie" thing--let's just keep that between us. We'd never live it down at the office.
For the rest of you, here it is, Buzz's look back at the local news of 2003. Read 'em and weep.
Fresh air:In January, the Dallas City Council votes 10-3 to ban smoking in restaurants, effective March 1. Outraged smokers gather to rally against the ban, but their effort fizzles when wheezing protesters halt halfway up the steps to City Hall, complaining of shortness of breath and rapid, irregular heartbeats. "This...huh, whew, give me a sec...is an...hack, hack...attack on our...cough, cough...oh, screw it, I need a cig to settle my nerves," complains one of the rally leaders, the late Chester Field.
Blind leading blind:A police anti-narcotics "street squad" that was once home to two officers implicated in the city's fake-drug scandal, in which Mexican immigrants were planted with ground-up billiard chalk and gypsum and framed for drug possession, is dissolved, The Dallas Morning News reports. One of the remaining squad members is reassigned to training within the narcotics unit. "We figure if anyone in the department knows the difference between chalk and cocaine, it would be him, and he should share that information with the rest of us," a police spokesman says.
Rolling billboards:The Denton County community of Hickory Creek becomes the first in the Dallas area to sign up for a new service that provides low-cost police patrol cars featuring commercial advertising on the vehicles. Dallas city officials consider a similar deal but reject it when the only advertisers willing to take part are a billiard-chalk manufacturer and a Sheetrock supply company.
Tuna salad:Coach Bill Parcells comes out of retirement to take the helm of the struggling Dallas Cowboys, eventually leading the team to its first playoff berth since 1937. In a successful effort to refocus the team's attention on the game and remove pointless distractions from the clubhouse, Parcells bans loud music and games from the locker room, revokes owner Jerry Jones' season tickets and parking pass and changes all the locks at Texas Stadium.