What Do The Kessler, the Trinity River Toll Road, Forest Lane Have In Common? This Item.

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That's a mighty nice piece about The Kessler in The New York Times this morning; nice illustration too, courtesy the great Paul Rogers. The story's by local boy Ben Fountain, the att'y-turned-author who wraps up his semi-regular from-the-mean-streets-of dispatches with a trip to the Oak Cliff venue -- the polar opposite of his July '10 destination, the Highland Park Village. (In between, as you may recall, Fountain speculated on real estate and toured a few topless joints, just to make sure they hadn't gone economically flaccid.)

Fountain visits The Kessler and discovers, why, hey, lookie there, you don't need big money in this big-money town to make something good happen. All you need is "a fifth-generation Texan" with connections and experience working for "finance behemoths" (Edwin Cabaniss), "a sleepy-eyed Dr Pepper addict with grizzled blond dreadlocks" (Jeff Liles, duh) and a small bank in Waxahachie to churn economic development where none existed before. And, sure, maybe Urban Acres and Luckie's Smokehouse and Cliff Notes would have eventually taken root there, but they hadn't till The Kessler became the anchor for that stretch of Davis. Writes Fountain toward the end:

Meanwhile, Big-Deal Dallas continues to struggle. The vast plan to renovate the Trinity River area with parks and a billion-dollar tollway is going nowhere fast. Budget pressures are chipping away at the city's plans for a trio of "marquee" bridges, and the Riverfront Boulevard "gateway" project is looking D.O.A.

Who knows -- maybe the Ewings can bring some of their big-deal magic back to Dallas once again? In your dreams. Meanwhile, for a slice of real life, there's always the Kessler.

Oh. Right. That billion-dollar Trinity River toll road. That reminds me: You have read this this morning, right? No? For those without access to what lies behind the pay wall, here's the takeaway: "The corps' assurances were never so direct as the city and the road's chief cheerleaders made them out to be." No, you don't say. I gotta roust Schutze.

Also: Last night's Forest Lane cruisin' reunion brought out thousands -- and turned a fast-food, Big Box stretch of Northwest Dallas into an honest-to-God ... community, that's the word. Live music, parking-lot sixers, classic cars for as far as the eye could see and a food trailer selling fried pies. That, right there, that was a Better Block -- a Better Mile, matter of fact. Take that, Oak Cliff. Didn't see a TV camera anywhere, nor a News reporter, and we stuck 'round till it turned into a Taco Bell midnight. (Thanks, Albertsons, for your canned goods.) I think next time I'll look into filling up some of that empty retail in the old FedMart strip -- pop-up Hit Records, anyone? Brother Hurley shot a million photos. Look at 46 of 'em. Hard. Much more to come tomorrow.

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