Jubilee Theatre
Being distinctly carnivorous ourselves, we have no problem with other members of the animal kingdom getting their meat fix--especially if they're lions and big African birds in captivity at the Dallas Zoo. The only reason we became a little apprehensive was the apparent discomfort of zoo officials, who sent out an internal memo that stresses sensitivity on the topic of what happens to the baby chicks at the Lacerte Family Children's Zoo. Just as these cute little spring chickens begin to turn big and autumn, they're snatched from their super-tactile petting environment and gassed in an apparently painless microwave-sized cell. They're then fed to hungry animals or tossed in the bin. Warning to employees: When referring to the "CO2 Unit," NEVER use words like "gas chamber" and "execution."

Individuals destined to become victims of natural selection managed to stay in the lines when they painted a very professional sign over Farm-to-Market Road 455 and FM 2164 in Sanger. It read "James Earl Ray Day." It was put up just in time for January 15, the holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated by Ray. The sheriff's department quickly ordered the sign removed, and The Dallas Morning News declined to mention it, fearing readers--very possibly the same ones who fill their rabid Sunday "Letters" page--might be encouraged to do something similar.

Disagree with City Councilwoman Laura Miller if you want--there's no shortage of people in Dallas who do--but try to find a better way of expressing it than carrying signs that say "Bitch" and "Whore" while Miller's small children are at home. These were brandished by John Wiley Price-supported protesters, who pulled a strange punch with placards that referred to two Morning News writers as "homosexuals." Did they not have the courage to express their bigotry openly, or did they just not know how to spell "faggot"?

People think of lawyers as professionals who are paid to parse the English language until the alphabet bleeds. But James Best of Best & Associates, a four-lawyer firm whose specialty is suing for damages after car accidents, is uncommonly unslippery about the kind of services he offers. To wit: He placed a fiberglass cast of a great white shark atop his offices on Central Expressway. When reached for comment about his courtroom style, Dallas' own Clarence Darrow replied: "If people want to hire a nice lawyer, they [can] ask their grandma. People want a mean, aggressive lawyer, not some pussy." Huh. You don't say.

With only a few months in office, Mitchell Rasansky has taken up the mantle of the Dallas City Council's new scold and all-around grumpy old fart. Already, he has donned environmentalist garb to oppose construction in his district of a new soccer field for a championship-winning team at a Catholic girls' school. He also opposes soccer leagues in public parks, which evidently he feels were intended for blue-nosed old biddies to walk their schnauzers. Somehow we'll have to endure two years of Rasansky's kowtowing to the NIMBY crowd.

Hey, we know what you're thinking: the elections department? If they're so great, how come we have so much election fraud? Look, the county elections department, under the able leadership of Bruce Sherbet, serves us in Dallas the way a good umbrella might in Seattle. So it can't keep off every drop. Would you rather not have it? The county elections department runs city and school board elections under contract. When it goes, give up on local democracy.
There are no trendy sushi spots. No "fete set." No designer dogs. If that's what you want, you don't move to Lakewood. The best local eateries are a pizza joint (Scalini's), a coffee shop (Legal Grounds) and a Tex-Mex joint (Matt's). But don't mistake this lack of ostentation for want of dinero. Nice traps on the boulevard run $800,000 and up, and starter prices in the back sections top $300,000. For that you get the big hardwood trees, the historic architecture, the tight neighborhood association and some of the smoothest streets in town.
After Democratic state Senator Royce West refused to give Republican state Senator John Carona a day's delay to consider changes to a piece of legislation, Carona, who is 9 inches shorter than West, came bounding across the Senate floor and poked his index finger into the chest of West. Carona huffed and puffed, and West told him to back off and may have done some finger-pointing in his own defense. Even though West may have been disrespecting Carona to begin with, the statewide media interpreted the altercation as a huge breach of decorum on Carona's part. That attitude hasn't helped bolster the low opinion some hold of Carona's politics already. They see him as a water carrier for special interest groups, including the apartment industry.

This past year hasn't been uniformly stellar for Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre: Its 2000 production of Black Nativity was watered-down by a mix of amateur singing and movement, and Hedy Understands Anxiety turned a career woman's hunt for the truth about her mother into a symphony of shouting, hand-wringing and brow-knitting. But the glittering successes made us feel like members of the Mile High Club--floating in midair from and ravished by sheer theatrical prowess. Coop De Ville: Time-Travelin' Brother, the sequel to Jubilee's oft-revived Negroes in Space, took musical inspiration from Parliament/Funkadelic and the Stax/Volt label as Robert Rouse saved an order of nuns who worship James Brown and wear Prince's erstwhile name-symbol on their gowns; Fat Freddy's was another rollicking original musical with one showstopper after another, in which Carolyn Hatcher and Sheran Goodspeed-Keyton fend off suitors in a mythical after-hours dive. Jubilee proved it could turn the volume down for equally impressive dramatic forays. Lonne Elder III's seminal 1965 Ceremonies in Dark Old Men vividly explained the easy lure and easier rationalizations of crime in an urban neighborhood saturated with it, prophesying troubles that plagued the black community for the next 35 years. But the modest stunner that carried emotional resonance far beyond its tiny "Christian" apartment setting in Philadelphia--and beyond Jubilee itself--was A Love Song For Miss Lydia. Director Rudy Eastman saw to it that Mary Catherine Keaton Jordan, younger than her aged role but brilliantly believable, was heartbreaking as the title character who gets new hope from an aggressive, flattering boarder (Lloyd W.L. Barnes Jr.) just as she thought her life was winding down.

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