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Dukes of de Kooning
In the eternal grudge match between Dallas and every other city in the 'Plex, the little guys came out swinging this spring with a one-two punch that sent Big D sprawling. Wham! Tarrant County's magnificent Texas Motor Speedway opened in all its NASCAR glory. And, bam!, very soon the ponies will be running at Grand Prairie's Lone Star Park.

And what did Dallas officials--who have already smacked themselves bloody on the forehead for losing these two very classy "sports" venues--offer in response? Only the Nasher Sculpture Garden. Pathetic.

It's all fine and good that Nasher's breathtaking sculpture collection (value estimated at $200 million) and setting ($32 million) will make Dallas the envy of every civilized city in the world. But how does Nasher's truth-and-beauty theme park stack up in the Buzz True Test of Bread-and-Circus Amusements?

You keep score: One, will it be horrifically noisy and smell bad? Two, will it cause muddy traffic snarls that will require dancing traffic cops and/or oiled, totally nude wrestlers to unsnarl? Three, does it offer the chance to blow huge sums of money in the simulation of fun? And, finally, does it offer an opportunity to get falling-down drunk?

Sorry, Ray, we don't think so.
Speaking of beer--Buzz has confirmed the rumors that Mayor Ron Kirk is angling for the beer concession at the Nasher Sculpture Park.

And even though everyone says it would be crass to point to any quid pro quo between Ray's spectacular civic benefice and his own self-interest, we couldn't help but notice that a day or two after The Dallas Morning News' front-page coverage of the Nasher gift ended, the paper ran a story on its business page, headlined "Work starts on old Caruth farm across from NorthPark." If you remember, Ray's first hints of contributing his collection to the city, completely coincidentally, paralleled his attempts to get the city to change the zoning on the undeveloped Caruth land across from his shopping mall. Never-crass News real estate scribe Steve Brown tastefully didn't mention the sculpture collection connection, the nasty controversy that surrounded the zoning change, or even that NorthPark is owned by Ray.

Enough to make you go postal
Buzz was fascinated by the March "Editor's Corner" column in the perpetually troubled Texas Business magazine. It seems that TB blundered through a series of bungles with its subscription cards that would be the comedic equivalent of lighting an exploding cigar, stepping in a bucket, slipping on a banana peel, and falling down a flight of stairs.

"The result?" writes editor-in-chief Robert Deitz, "For at least a two-month period--and possibly longer--people who wanted to subscribe to Texas Business by returning the subscription cards...had their orders sent to that great Dead Letter Office in the Sky..."

Which, Buzz would note, is in the same zip code as the great Dead Magazine Office in the Sky. This is a publication, remember, that exists to give business folk advice on how to succeed and, presumably, make money.

Tough love
If you're a parent, you've probably often asked yourself, Hmm, should I try more phonics or put the rod to little Austin's behind? Well, forget thumbing through that hard-as-the-dickens-to-interpret Good Book and get down to Judge Hal Gaither's courtroom.

A wayward 14-year-old was appearing before Gaither in the 304th Juvenile District Court in Dallas last week. The young offender, who was accompanied by his parents, his Baptist minister, and a concerned brother-in-law, had gotten blotto on beer at a family gathering (while the adults were in another part of the house). The incident, unfortunately, was a violation of the kid's probation from an earlier burglary conviction. When his dad found him drunk, he got mad and came after the boy with a belt. The kid, not totally stupid, ran away. When police found the boy several hours later, his father asked that they keep him in detention overnight, claiming he was so angry, he feared he might hurt the kid if he got hold of him that night. (Obviously, not-totally stupid genes run in the family.)

Gaither listened to the sad narrative intently, then asked: "Where did you get the idea, sir, that you couldn't discipline your own son?"

Gaither then read the section from the jargon-packed Texas family code that allows parents to wallop their own flesh and blood. Seems the only thing moms and dads in Texas can't use to keep junior in line is deadly force.

"In layman's terms," deadpanned Gaither, "that means you can do anything but kill him to make him mind."

So kids, if you get caught swilling a little brew while under age, you might want to commit a little wire fraud or rob an S&L. The point being that a minimum security federal pen might look good next to ol' Paw-Paw's cattle prod.

Just when you think the tackiness factor has hit a low point in Texas, someone stands up to redeem the state's reputation. We are, of course, talking about the "Texas Discovery Tour," in which a replica of the Christopher Columbus auxiliary ship, the Nina, will be dragged all over the state on the back of a semi (they didn't call it the Nina for nothing) to raise restoration funds for the replica Columbus ships that are sadly at risk of rotting in Corpus Christi. The promotional material that Buzz obtained points out that, like Columbus' first voyage, the Nina's trip to Dallas "will only happen once!"

The long-suffering Nina will suffer the indignity of being moored in one of Las Colinas' artificial canals as the centerpiece of the very festive "The Grande Boat Parade" during the industrial park's annual CanalFest.

Word on the street is that they're bringing in Bob "Gilligan" Denver to pilot the Nina.

--Glen Warchol

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Glen Warchol

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