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Fight! Fight! Rich People Duke It Out Over Art and Real Estate! Someone Lend them a Knife!

Fight! Fight! Rich People Duke It Out Over Art and Real Estate! Someone Lend them a Knife!

Art fight! Art fight! Everybody ditch class and run out in the halls to watch! The rich kids are fighting about their art!

On this day when the national economy is still on life support, Texas schools are sinking into Dickensian poverty and the city can't afford sewers, our city's one and only, sole and lonely daily newspaper, The Dallas Morning News, gifts us with a big front-page story about a battle between a sculpture garden and a shiny new office-tower over ... glare.

Reflected sunlight from "Museum Tower," a new 42-story $200 million building that is not a museum, is causing unwanted glare to fall upon the nearby Nasher Sculpture Garden. I say that The Morning News "gifts us" with this story, because I mean it.

Nothing takes our minds off this misery we call middle-class survival in America like a rich kids art fight. It's like our own little hometown Brangelina.

Light from the Museum Tower, future home to rich guys, is threatening the Nasher Sculpture Garden. Oh, the humanity.
Light from the Museum Tower, future home to rich guys, is threatening the Nasher Sculpture Garden. Oh, the humanity.

In the piece in the paper today, John Sughrue, developer of Not-A-Museum Tower, says of the fight between his project and the sculpture garden, "... there's an element about this that is heartbreaking."

Apparently, reporter Mike Granberry did not ask which element. It's a little hard to tell. He does allow Sughrue to go off on a tangent about how he doesn't have $200 million to fix the glare. What, the only way to fix the glare is to implode the building?

And Sughrue does another little monologue about what a bitch Laura Miller is. She's the former Dallas Observer columnist who became mayor for a while. That's fun. (Sorry, Laura.)

In the story, Miller does a tangent on how the glare is very disturbing for Ray Nasher, the shopping-center magnate who paid for the sculpture garden, which is a little much, I must say, on account of Nasher being dead at the moment.

But, you know, what counts for most of us is that the rich kids are out in the hall pulling each other's hair and insulting each other's footwear over their art, which is just plain fun. We can use a little fun, right?

In The New York Times today there's a story about how teachers in Texas are working 12 extra hours a week unpaid and having to do janitorial duties because of the education funding cuts forced through the last session of the Legislature by Governor Rick Parry and the Texas Tealiban.

Lots of people who aren't even in education are putting up with the same kind of crap in life. The rich get richer and the rest of us get hosed. So what else is new? At least we've got an art fight going.

Why do rich people care so much about art? These are mostly money wonks who have devoted their lives to things like debentures. They've got about as much art in them as they have gills.

It's something about buying class. People in America can't just get rich and let it go at that. As soon as they get their hands on some loot, they have to start trying to convince the rest of us that they're British aristocrats. Who has time to wonder why? It's how it is.

I did pick up one note of extreme danger in the Morning News piece, however. When Sughrue isn't talking about what a damn bitch Miller is, he says something very ominous about taking this whole thing out of the hide of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.

That's crazy, right? Why would the Police and Fire Pension System care about an art fight? Oh, dear. You didn't know? While you weren't watching, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System owned it. Yup. Bought the whole farm.

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System put up most of the money for Not-a-Museum Tower. Why would they do that? According to The Wall Street Journal, it had a lot to do with the fact that no one else would.

You think of a pension fund as having sort of a sacred trust, right? They need to hire a professional money manager to do arms-length investments for them spread all over the map so they won't be in the tank over any particular investments. The last thing they would want to do, of course, is take a big flyer on a politically wired local real-estate gamble in a down market with all kinds of City Hall pressure to make it happen.

All I can tell you is, the pension fund owns the building, so now they own the glare. Granberry's story includes this paragraph:

Sughrue said last week he's "on a jihad to push the Museum Tower regime to get it right," referring to the owners of the building, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, which purchased it for $200 million from Sughrue and his partners, Lyle Burgin, Dan Boeckman and Greg Green.

The story sort of explains that Sughrue and the people behind the Nasher really don't want to be in a jihad against each other because: A) Presumably they're not Muslim; and B) They are partners together in other rich people arts stuff like art fairs and art parties and art picnics and so on.

So why not take it out of the pension system's hide?

Am I feeling all mushy-face sorry for the pension fund here? Nah. If the cops and the firemen in this city are so slack and so dumb they can't control their own pension fund, if their unions are that piss-poor at looking out for them, then to hell with them. They deserve whatever.

My regret is this. I think if the pension fund gets in the middle of it, they'll wreck the art fight. Then it will be all about serious stuff like conflict of interest and due diligence and I.Q. tests.

I just want the art fight. That's what's fun.

Oh, damn! Here comes the assistant principal! Stop laughing, man! Look scared and get back to class! I can't believe that responsible adults would expose us to this kind of violence!


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