Former mayor Ron Kirk wouldn't engage in a little nyah-nyah-toldya-so last night at the everybody's-a-VIP opening of the W Hotel in Victory Park; said the last thing he wanted to talk about was Mayor Laura Miller and other naysayers who'd insist even at this late date that the W and its attendent surroundings were bad business for our good city. "It's not about the negative," he said, standing poolside on the 16th floor as the lovely and lubricated ogled the half-naked models taking showers and floating in the chlorinated agua overlooking scenic Stemmons. He then took a sip of whatever he was drinking, which didn't look as strong as what I was drinking, and patted me on the shoulder and said, "You guys are gonna have to get over it and just enjoy this." To which I said, "Do I look like I'm having a shitty time?" Note to self: Try to use fewer curse words around former mayors and, Christ, their wives.
I'm all ready to let the man take his victory lap around Victory Park; damned if we'll stand in his way, mostly because we could barely stand when all was said and done and the valet finally brought round the family truckster. (Those who bitched about waiting for their cars last night, and well in to the early morning, really should have thankful for freebie gallons of bottled Voss water, which just might have been the thing that spared many of us the hangovers we so richly deserved this morning.) As the missus said last night, Ron Kirk deserves his shit-eating grin. I believe she said this right before telling me to get her another vodka and soda, pronto, Chachi. Gotcha and gotcha; free booze and gratis foie gras will make anyone forgive a lack of introspection from 16 stories up.
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Everybody with a notepad and a blog attended this mother of all shindigs last night; it's barely sun-up and no doubt 34 people have already posted their items about the fabulosity surrounding the soiree attended by the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr. (licked a friend of mine, said said friend), Kevin "Hercules" Sorbo, Ross Perot Jr. (greeting everyone at the front door, along with W Hotels president Ross Klein, like they were working the toniest Wal-Mart in the county) and...uh...well...uh...Rolando Blackman and Don Nelson and the Malouf brothers, owners of the Sac Kings. (I gotta be honest: I began writing this thing at 12:14 a.m., and I was stunned to sit down at the eMachine to find that The Dallas Morning News and FrontBurner weren't live-blogging the event, since every person employed by Dallas' Only Daily and D seemed to be at the party.) What's left to say, really, except that it was the kind of party everyone in Dallas dreams of attending when they visit Hollywood; as an old party pal said from the rooftop, "Welcome to El Lay, bitch."
I guess I could run down the list of famous faces there, or gripe about the long lines for elevator rides to the pool on 16 or the Ghostbar on 33, or dish on the dishes at Craft, where, if you were crafty and got there early, you got your own table and access to the chow line of short ribs, roasted mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet corn and a little bit o' everything else from the menu washed down with wine, wine, wine. Or I could recount Ro Blackman's explanation about which was worse: playing in the 1988 Western Conference Finals and losing in Game Seven to the Lakers, or watching the Mavs blow a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals last week. (He actually went with the latter; couldn't believe it, or maybe I just couldn't hear him.) Or I could tell you that Don Nelson started smoking cigars again after a six-year layoff, as long as he doesn't inhale, which is just about the most fascinating news you could ever not want or need to hear. Fact is, said a real-estate developer friend, it wasn't about the famous people there, just the people themselves--"fashionistas and city employees, real estate people and lawyers, somebodies and nobodies." Or, in other words, everybodies wanting to claim a slice of the latest It Thing for themselves on a night when an invite to the W meant pretending Dallas wasn't just Dallas for a few hours. (Actually, it very much was a Dallas event: When your biggest celebrity's the star of Snow Dogs, and people are jazzed just by the rumor of Ludacris, and there's no real People person around, you know it's just Dallas.
Before the buzz wears off, then, consider these words from John Sughrue, chief executive officer and founder of downtown developer Brook Partners, Inc., which is responsible for, among other things, Stephen Pyles new place on Ross Avenue and the next-door Fashion Industry Gallery. Sughrue also helped put together the West Village deal, which has become sort of the template for future retail-residential development in the city (cf. ForwardDallas!). Sughrue and I stood on the 16th floor last night peering down at the Victory Park development taking place in front of the American Airlines Arena--the "Times Square of Dallas" Perot once promised and is within a few months of delivering, if you lower your expectations just a bit. And we talked about how downtown was more than mere potential now--more than just a pile of what-ifs and could-bes. Maybe it was the booze or the rust-colored sunset sky or the sight of a dozen cranes jutting out of the horizon, but it was enough to make you feel like Dallas wasn't a city of diminishing expecations after all.
"I am gonna talk as a fan." Sughrue says. "I almost feel like cheering what they've accomplished there. They did not play it safe. They put together a business plan to create a unique urban setting, and we're beginning to see the manifestation of that at the W. The Standard in LA has its Skybar, and the space Ross has delivered is much more attractive, much cooler. All this is helping put Dallas back on the radar as a cool city. What does it mean for Dallas? It's big. It's too late to scoff. Between Uptown, Victory, the Arts District, it's not going to be just a real city but a great city. It's been a slow painful death by a thousand paper cuts waiting for downtown to turn itself around, and it's finaly happening. Thank God. It's about time." --Robert Wilonsky