Why does downtown Fort Worth suck way less than Dallas? Still the investigative reporter at heart, Mayor Laura Miller wagon-trained west last week to find out, and Buzz suspects she may not have liked at least part of the answer: because the people there are willing to pay for it.
Between 25 and 30 percent of the money that has gone into remaking downtown Cowtown has come from public subsidies, both the direct sort and future tax breaks designed to pay developers back tomorrow for building today, like we use here. Nearly $300 million in public dough has gone into Fort Worth's core. Miller, meanwhile, is among those holding back a public subsidy of less than 7 percent for the Victory retail/residential development project at American Airlines Center.
Why is Fort Worth so generous with subsidies? Partly, Buzz suspects, because they have a better--or at least smarter--collection of rich people, who have figured out that no one can call you a liar if you keep your big mouth shut.
The Bass family, widely credited with revitalizing Fort Worth's center, almost never speaks to the press, which means it spouts far fewer empty promises than Dallas' Tom Hicks and Ross Perot Jr., the men behind Victory. To say the latter have credibility problems with local taxpayers is like saying Enron's accountants simply forgot to carry the one. If you think they're fibbers, you probably voted for Miller. If you don't, you probably think Miller is stopping Dallas dead in its tracks.
Business types in Fort Worth say the Basses are making money on Sundance Square, although they seem willing to settle for modest returns in the short run to make a go long-term. Here, Hicks, Perot, et al are seen as greed merchants, and it's a reputation they've done a lot to build. Just recently, Hicks planted a story in The Dallas Morning News saying he's selling his Victory land. Less than a month later, he conceded to The New York Times that this was an empty threat intended to turn up the heat on the Victory "debate."
That's the sort of crapola that helped elect Miller, who should have been sent home from her Fort Worth field trip with one of Cowtown's more interesting souvenirs. It's a T-shirt with the slogan "Life's too short to live in Dallas."
Of course, it could be that Fort Worth is filled with suckers, but you don't see their leaders cruising to downtown Dallas to learn how we do it. They're probably all too busy hanging out at Sundance Square, going downtown to catch movies, drinking at nightclubs, visiting the Barnes & Noble bookstore and relaxing in their tony downtown apartments. Or maybe they figure they already have enough cheap lunch counters, convenience stores and empty storefronts.
Buzz read with interest the May 4 front-pager in the Morning News about the North Dallas mom who got Blockbuster to pull the racy DVD version of Swamp Thing off the shelves. Seems the DVD, labeled with a "PG" rating, was instead the international version, not the American release of the 1982 film starring Adrienne Barbeau. In the world of movie distribution, "international version" means "frame after frame of gratuitous nudity."
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"Clearly a mistake was made," an MGM spokeswoman told the newspaper. "It's going to be corrected."
Now, Buzz is all for parental guidance. Whether it be not letting your 9-year-old boy see boobs, or whether it be bitch-slapping your brats when they bray behind Buzz in the checkout line, we're cool with instilling family values.
But let Buzz make this clear: Two wrongs don't make a right. Because now there are none of these videos available for Buzz to purchase. Try as we might, we cannot locate that damn international version anywhere now. What, does Ms. North Dallas Mom think we wasted so many of our formative hours watching Maude in order to hear Bea Arthur spout off on liberalism? No, we watched it for two other reasons, both of them attached to Barbeau. (Straight men reserve special places in their hearts for the adult women who inflamed their boyhood lusts. Don't get Buzz started on the subject of Lynda Carter.)
Because of this responsible parental jihad against Blockbuster, Buzz is now being denied a view of Adrienne Barbeau's fantastic chest hams. Which is a shame, really. Now Buzz is going to have to go out and get a passport.