The 10 Wackiest Unfair Park Stories of 2013
Dallas County Sheriff's Office
By now, you're probably sick of year-end lists. Too bad. New Year's is still a day-and-a-half away, there's very little happening news-wise, and, most important, journalists have not yet exhausted their onanistic need to rehash their old work.
So, here's our contribution. Part best-of, part most-clicked, part whatever the hell struck our fancy, it's 2013 as experienced by readers of Unfair Park:
Dallas County Now Has Its Very Own Bulletproof, "Mine-Protected" Military SUV: Until this fall, the Dallas County sheriff's squad cars were perfectly adequate for the typically humdrum task of serving warrants. But when the Department of Defense offers up free of charge a half-million-dollar military SUV designed to withstand roadside IEDs and insurgent attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, the opportunity is hard to resist, which is how the sheriff's office came to be in possession of its very own Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.
Concerned about the militarization of local police forces? This story has that. Upset about mind-bogglingly wasteful government spending? It has that too. So potent was this particular example of government excess that our post made the front page of Drudge, which explains the its wild success and the deluge of hate-mail we received condemning us to eternal damnation for casually dropping the F-bomb.
When the school year began, no one at Dallas ISD seems to have been aware that Townview Magnet's new 21-year-old Spanish teacher had, not that long ago, bared all for Playboy. Given the uncanny ability of teenage boys to find nude pictures on the Internet, however, her past wasn't going to stay hidden for long.
So it was that word of Deweese's stint as the magazine's February 2011 "Coed of the Month" began to spread this fall, first among students, then parents, then the global media.
Outrage ensued, with people dividing into two opposing camps: those who couldn't believe that someone who had once posed nude was being allowed to teach impressionable young people and those incredulous that a modern woman was being chastised for showing her body in an artful, not to mention completely legal, context. A lot of erstwhile misogynists suddenly became died-in-the-wool feminists, decrying a society that persecutes women for taking off their clothes.
It was all a bit much for DISD, which wrung its hands for a few weeks before deciding to part ways with Deweese. She has since returned to modeling.
Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
Kenneth Copeland has made a career out of being a self-appointed mouthpiece of God at Tarrant County's Eagle Mountain International Church and his influential Believer's Voice of Victory" TV program. It was interesting, then, to see how Copeland and his ministry would respond when one of his proclamations endangered lives and precipitated a minor public health disaster.
For years, Copeland has expressed suspicion of childhood vaccines and provided a friendly venue to those who peddle the discredited theory that some vaccines have been linked to autism. It was more than a little ironic, then, when a measles outbreak infected at least 21 people at Copeland's Fort Worth megachurch.
The church responded by offering free vaccinations and awkwardly backpedaling from their insistence that good health comes from God and God alone. Turns out, medical professionals also come in handy.
We had no idea, when we warned you on December 4 of the coming Icepocalypse, how much you love reading about the weather. You especially like to read about the weather when it's live-blogged by our wise-cracking, box-wine guzzling British guy web-editor.
While other news outlets were busy providing important, up-to-the-minute alerts about ice storm Cleon and its aftermath, we wasted your time with crowdsourced Twitter jokes, Krampus sightings and by feeding everyone's Pete Delkus obsession.
We take full responsibility for the panicked masses who raided supermarket shelves for bread, milk, meat, bananas, alcohol, and everything else they figured they would need to endure several hours trapped inside their homes.
How Justin Lookadoo survived for so long as a motivational speaker without his name being turned into a #lookadouche Twitter hashtag is a mystery. His dating advice -- "dateable girls know how to shut up"; "Men of God are wild, not domesticated" -- cry out for ridicule.
Justice was finally served when Lookadoo spoke at Richardson High School. Students there, upset about an assembly featuring the Bible-thumping Lookadoo, took to Twitter to air their grievances. Their #lookadouche tweets went viral, and Lookadoo was properly shamed. One gets the idea from the fact that he pulled his calendar of appearances from his website that Lookadoo's public-school speaking engagements quickly dried up.
Working for Dallas' 911 call center requires a tolerance for high stress and mediocre pay, the ability to keep calm under pressure and a willingness to face blame when the system fails and a domestic violence victim gets murdered. It also requires Job-like patience, since the call takers have to wade through a mountain of trivial BS the general public mistakenly decides merits a 911 call.
April Sims couldn't quite handle the pressure, at least not without venting her frustrations on her personal Facebook page.
"Black people are outrageous!" she writes in one post. "They are more like animals, they never know how to act ... Always causing problems."
Sims was promptly fired for her remarks, though she never really grasped why.
"So, apparently there are people who are looking to add me as a friend on Facebook, because they support my message," she would write. "... Hopefully many other people can freely speak their minds with no fear. God Bless America!"
It seems that North Texas just wasn't quite ready for Redneck Heaven's Anything But Clothes Day, in which the local breastaurant chain's young female wait staff cover themselves in body paint, adhesive gum balls, swimming goldfish -- pretty much anything that wasn't a shirt. City after city cracked down, effectively outlawing the use of body paint as a body covering. The panic even spread to Redneck Heaven-less cities like North Richland Hills, where the raciest business is a Hooter's.
Redneck Heaven has abandoned its Anything But Clothes Day. But while it might have failed as an ongoing attraction, it was wildly successful as a publicity stunt. Just in time for the debut of MTV's Redneck Heaven reality show.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Dallas Safari Club, one of the nation's premiere big-game hunting organizations, was very excited to announce earlier this year a fundraiser it was sure would please its members and wildlife conservationists alike: In an auction expected to fetch upwards of half a million dollars, all of it earmarked for the Namibian government's black-rhino-preservation efforts, one lucky bidder would win the opportunity, to shoot and kill -- you guessed it -- a Namibian black rhino.
DSC's case was not without merit. Though the black rhino is endangered, with about 5,000 remaining in the wild, killing one under carefully controlled circumstances would have a negligible impact on the herd and could actually help it thrive by hastening the natural cycle of attrition. Besides, conservation efforts need money, and wildlife photographers aren't exactly ponying up six or seven figures to take a photo safari.
Nevertheless, most people had a tough time getting past the fundamental irony of the project. Not Stephen Colbert, who quoted at length from the Unfair Park piece before giving his enthusiastic endorsement.
When the new, improved Big Tex rose, phoenix-like, to greet State Fair of Texas visitors, there were plenty of legitimate questions swirling in people's minds. How much time was spent debating the size of his Dickies-clad ass? Is Bill Bragg, the fired voice of Big Tex, ever going to stop making us sad? Shouldn't last year's fire be taken as a sign from God that it's time for Big Tex to retire?
But the question that emerged once fair officials pulled back the curtain on the 50-foot cowboy's creepy rictus was a different one entirely: Is Big Tex now a Mexican?
It would be a logical choice, given Texas' vaquero tradition and its changing demographics, but fair officials have declined to say either way. Whether or not it was intended, Big Texas' slightly darkened complexion sparked a
healthy, nuanced debate on race completely predictable torrent of racist vitriol.
Most of the things that come out of Glenn Beck's mouth aren't worth paying attention to. But Beck's plan to build a $2 billion libertarian compound in Texas was breathtaking both for the lunatic audacity of his vision and the prospect, however slim, that some of us will wind up living next door to a few thousand of Beck's merry pranksters.
Beck, who lives in Westlake and broadcasts from a studio in Las Colinas, has made no apparent progress toward achieving his dream of a self-sustaining community inspired by "Galt's Gulch" in Atlas Shrugged, but it could be that we're not paying close enough attention. The man has built himself into an immensely powerful media brand. There's no reason he can't convince a few thousand followers to drink some Kool-Aid.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.