Punching Rocco's Ticket
It didn't take long. Less than a week after the Dallas Observer's story about KTCK-AM (1310) appeared ("Talking up The Ticket," March 18), Ticket noon-to-3 p.m. talker Rocco Pendola was fired by station management. Not that the Observer story had anything to do with the talk-jock's firing.

At least, that's the word from the boss.
Ticket program director Bruce Gilbert tells Buzz that the article's appearance and Pendola's firing coming so close to each other was nothing more than "an unfortunate coincidence."

"I am man enough to accept the blame for my own decisions," Gilbert says. "Everybody wants to come up with their own reason why this happened, and the fact of the matter is, we decided not to renew his contract."

See, it's as simple as that. Or is it?
Apparently, Pendola didn't take too kindly to being referred to as "obtuse" and "invidious" in these pages. On Friday, he went on the air ranting about how upset he was by the story. He claimed, among other things, that he and the article's author, Robert Wilonsky, were old friends and that Wilonsky had betrayed him. In fact, the two have met only once--for about five minutes at Dallas Cowboys training camp last August.

On Saturday, Gordon Keith replayed the diatribe on his 9 a.m.-noon show, The Bohemian Rant. Pendola and Keith had what one die-hard Ticket fan describes on the Internet as "a personal conversation that you really had no business hearing." According to some who heard the exchange, Pendola ripped into Keith and, for some reason, Hardline co-host Mike Rhyner, claiming neither of them gave him a fair chance at the station.

Gilbert says those ugly episodes "aren't worth commenting on," but claims they didn't directly lead to Pendola's dismissal. The program director says he's looking for a new host to fill the time slot, which is currently being subbed by other sports jocks. When asked what he's looking for, Gilbert says only, "I hope I'll know it when I hear it."

What's in a name?
It seems only right to Buzz that American Airlines should have its name on the new arena. Linking Tom Hicks, Ross Perot Jr., and American in a tax-financed project has a nice end-of-the-millennium ring to it: Dallas' own holy trinity enshrined in a cathedral to sports. Taxpayers genuflect! If only it were football instead of hockey and basketball, but the Arkansas Antichrist has a lock on that local franchise.

It would be nice if some of that $195 million American will pay Hicks and Perot for being able to call the arena the "American Airlines Center" were sent back to the people who helped pay for it--alms for the poor, you know. But who are we and Councilwoman Donna Blumer, who suggested the same thing, fooling?

Still, Buzz hopes to see some benefit from the union. American has loads of experience in ticketing and reservations. Maybe the Mavericks might one day be rid of Ticketmaster surcharges. Purchase your Mavs tickets two weeks in advance and save 40 percent, provided the game's on a Friday and you stay over at the arena through Sunday. Those sitting courtside will receive a warm towel, slippers, and complimentary champagne. OK, then--just offer Advantage Miles for season-ticket holders. There has to be some reward for watching the Mavs play.

But in the "American Airlines Center"? You'd think if a mighty corp. were going to lay out those kind of bucks for a name, and with all the money it spends on marketing, it could at least come up with something catchy. Like Fly High Stadium or Deep-Pocket Pavilion or One Terminal Place or The Hub--or just about anything else.

Get used to it
Glad as we are that Hicks and Junior stand to make a ton of money from selling the arena's name to American--Lord knows they need it--don't they realize that they are getting in bed with a globally renowned Sodomite that has been castigated by Christian right organizations as a gay-friendly corporation? Which suggests to us another possible name: "Big Gay American's Big Gay Arena," taken from Buzz's favorite South Park character, Big Gay Al. (Don't watch the show? You loser.)

Maybe that name would finally pierce the thick skulls of the American Family Association and other right-wing anti-gay groups. Evidence that these religious homophobes just don't get it can be seen in last month's American Family Association Journal, which bore the headline, "American Airlines breaks word/Company continues promoting radical gay agenda." The article claimed that the airline disregarded a verbal agreement made at a meeting last March with "pro-family" leaders to discontinue "actively promoting the homosexual agenda." (Buzz tried to get American's response to the article, but its press people took the question and never called back. We can't imagine why.)

But as the Observer reported last year ("Straighten up and fly right," April 16, 1998), American never promised the anti-gay leaders anything, despite their frequent claims to the contrary. Those claims were, in a word, lies--big fat ones. Apparently, the Observer article never made it to the offices of the AFA.

We can't imagine why.

Thumbs Down
Certainly Buzz is not one to cast the first stone where reporter error is concerned, since we have been known to make a few doozies in our day. Witness our Dallas Morning News blunder when we reported that Belo's stock price was set to soar last year, or our editorializing that President Clinton could never have groped Paula Jones because she was so butt ugly. "Conclusive proof," we called it.

Well, hypocrisy be damned. When D Magazine appeared to screw up in its March issue, we just couldn't resist. That paragon of investigative journalism, known for such hard-hitting stories as "Ten Great Getaway Vacations with the Ten Best Doctors of Highland Park, a Bored Housewife's Dilemma," only recently got bold enough to reclaim its coveted "Thumbs Up Award," which it felt had been co-opted by the Morning News during D's long hiatus.

The monthly mag, which generally celebrates local business leaders and serves as a cheerleader for every City Hall initiative that tries to boost Dallas' world-class image, decided to stick it to one of its own. It gave St. Mark's School of Texas--a kind of Dallas Citizens Council on training wheels--the old "Thumbs Down" for inadequately disciplining its boys for their role in the now infamous Deep Ellum beer bust. Dallas Gazillionaire and D fave Tom Hicks, whose son was arrested and attends the prep school, was accused of compromising St. Mark's ethics when he "coincidentally donated $6.8 million to the school's fundraising campaign the week after the party."

Only he didn't. Not according to Allen E. Cullum, president of the prep school's board of trustees. "I am writing to inform you that an item in this month's D Magazine is completely false and unfair," says the prez to a concerned parent. "The Hicks family made its financial commitment to St. Mark's School IN ADVANCE of the warehouse beer bash in Deep Ellum that mostly involved students from Highland Park High School." So there.

Regrettably, D not only got its facts wrong, but missed the big picture altogether. Buzz has learned from certain anonymous sources that Tom Hicks' $6.5 million donation was actually made to purchase the naming rights to the school. Beginning in the year 2000, the St. Mark's School of Texas will be rechristened "St. Tom's School of Texas."

Mr. Coffee
Buzz has a soft spot in its heart for Mayor Ron Kirk. He cusses like a stevedore. He has an explosive temper and, now and then, a biting sense of humor. If he were two feet shorter, wore a housedress, and read Harlequin romance novels, he could be our mother.

Unlike Mom, however, he sometimes displays a disappointing sense of civility--like a couple of weeks ago, for instance, when Buzz tried to persuade him to needle Councilwoman Laura Miller about coffee.

He was civil. We hate that.
We called the mayor after reading in the Morning News about his meeting with former Los Angeles Laker Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Johnson is contemplating business projects in southern Dallas, perhaps a Starbucks Coffee shop. As economic development goes, a Starbucks isn't exactly a Ford factory, but in our mean little way we like it much better. Shortly after she was elected, Miller began trying to persuade Barnes & Noble Bookseller and Starbucks to open shops in her Oak Cliff district. North Dallas has more Starbucks than traffic lights, but you pretty much have to drive north of the Trinity to get a $4 cup of latte. This is a travesty.

So while Miller's looking for a cup of joe for her district, the mayor has an NBA star already set to grind the beans. Don't you want to gig your pal Miller over that, Mayor? we asked. Please?

OK, so this was a bit of cheap troublemaking on Buzz's part. It pays the rent.

The Mayor wouldn't bite.
"We haven't delivered squat yet," Kirk said. "My efforts to bring economic development go on notwithstanding any disagreements with any particular council member...That gig may be coming a little too early." Damn.

--Reluctantly compiled from staff reports by Mark Donald

(Nevertheless, send e-mail or hate mail to [email protected])

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Mark Donald
Contact: Mark Donald