When you got nothing, the great Bob Dylan once sang, you got nothing to lose. Maybe perennial mayoral candidate Bill Jack Ludwig has been jamming to "Like a Rolling Stone" lately. Or maybe he's just loopy.
Whatever the case, in recent days Ludwig provided some much needed, if unintended, levity in what has so far been a surprisingly dull mayoral race--surprising when you consider that bomb-throwing candidate Laura Miller is leading the pack. Not a bad bit of work for a man whose name is not even on the ballot. Not that a trifling thing like that would stop Ludwig.
Ludwig's recent campaign stops included a visit to the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, where, according to people who were there, he informed them that, "I like your women," and said specifically that Asian women are attractive because they tend to be "petite." All of which may be true, but it's not the sort of thing you expect to hear from a candidate.
He followed up his visit there with an uninvited stop at a candidate forum put on by the League of United Latin American Citizens. Denied a space at the candidates' table because he had missed the filing deadline for mayor, Ludwig was nevertheless determined to be heard. So he dragged a chair up to the table from the audience and began delivering non-sequitur diatribes in response to questions from the panel of three Dallas Morning News staffers, who sort of smirked and looked helpless.
A sample Ludwig response, to a question about whether the new mayor should be concerned about reaching out to the Latino community (duh, the audience was about 80 percent Latino):
"Spanish are mostly po' folks. Anybody that hasn't been poor doesn't understand poor folks. We got a group of millionaires up here. I'm included. But I understand poor folks, because I was one..."
When the moderator tried to interrupt, Ludwig blared over him, "I was the one who helped invent dirt. What you need to do is pay attention to people who haven't been poor in their lifetime."
That doesn't make a lot of sense, and is sort of insulting, particularly if you're a Spaniard. On the other hand, if you ask a stupid question...
Over the course of a long evening in which the other candidates mostly gave predictable answers to meaningless questions, a strange thing happened. The audience warmed to Ludwig in spite of his gaffes and ethnic slurs and began applauding him warmly and laughing at his awful jokes.
OK, so maybe they were laughing at, not with, him. Ludwig still contrasted nicely with the other candidates, who gave the usual polished, vapid responses. The night was made especially uncomfortable, according to one person who was there, by restaurateur Tom Landis, who kept going on about how the Mexican laborers who work in his restaurants are the most wonderful people in the world. In response to almost every question, Landis named another employee who had been able to buy his first home thanks to working for Landis. It seemed that the audience was relieved every time Ludwig lurched to his feet because they knew that whatever he said, at least it wouldn't be as smarmy, condescending and creepy as Landis.
Eventually, the moderator deferred to audience opinion and began addressing Billy Jack as "Mr. Ludwig." Toward the end, when yet another question was asked about whether the mayor should care about people, the moderator said, "Mr. Ludwig, why don't we start with you on that one," and there was wild applause. It was the consensus of the print press in the second row that Billy Jack had emerged as the clear winner.
Pass the torch: Maybe cabin fever has addled former city council member Al Lipscomb's brain. Or maybe the man just really knows how to hold a grudge. Or perhaps--let's apply Occam's razor here--he hates Laura Miller's guts. (The correct answer, class, is B and C.)
That would certainly explain Al's comments in an edition of The Dallas Examiner earlier this month in which Lipscomb unloaded on Miller and her candidacy for mayor.
"If Hitler, Satan and Miller were running, I wouldn't vote for her. Dallas has gone through a lot of changes, and we never torched our city. If Laura Miller gets in, Dallas will be torched," he told Examiner writer Y. Denise Caldwell. Unfortunately for him, neither Satan nor Hitler is on the ballot. Not that it matters much, since convicted felons can't vote.
Lipscomb presumably made the comment from the comfort of his own home, where he has been confined by court order since his conviction for taking bribes from the owner of a local taxi company. Miller's reporting for this paper on Al's ethical lapses was cited in the case the federal government brought against him.
Not that Lipscomb is bitter. Heck no.
But will Dallas actually be set ablaze by mobs if there is a Mayor Miller? Al apparently is willing to strike a match, but Buzz doubts it. He can't even leave his house. We figure that at most a few tire shops on Davis Street will be knocked down.
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