Join the discussion on Fair Park’s future

Posted on 23 Jun 2017 at 1:50pm

The city wants your feedback on the future of Fair Park. City officials are holding a meeting on Monday, June 26, to discuss management and use of the park.

Other city parks are under public-private management, including Lee Park, Dallas Heritage Village, The Dallas Zoo and the Arboretum. The zoo has thrived since control changed, and has recorded several record-breaking days this year, as well as opened new exhibits including the new rhino environment. The Arboretum has also expanded since coming out from under control of the Park Department.

The meeting takes place on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the women’s Building at Fair Park. Take the Green Line to Fair Park and the Women’s Building is right inside the gate to the left. For more information, call 972-716-0070.

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The date from Hell

Posted on 23 Jun 2017 at 7:50am

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Brent PaxtonSome things in life that happen are just too wild, bizarre, extreme or otherwise “interesting” that you cannot help but think, “Someone just has to hear this story.” Well, a recent series of incidents that took place in one evening proved that to me. And I just can’t keep this to myself.

Let’s start at the beginning: I’ve been chatting with a certain someone for years on Facebook. He’s an attractive man in his late 30s, with a successful career, a beautiful home and a nice dog. We’re both introverts at heart but love the limelight to an extent.

We’d chat about how we need alone time, but that we’re both getting to a place in our lives when we need to be more social and spend more time developing friendships and potentially find a romantic partner. We had a lot in common in that department.

Mild flirtations back and forth seemed to build into something that could really go somewhere. So we finally decided to meet.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was doing something good for myself. I was putting myself out there, and I was going to have fun — whether we had chemistry or not. I wasn’t expecting to be swept off my feet, but I was hoping, at the very least, for a good night.

We decided to meet at his house on Friday night and I arrived at 7 p.m. sharp, as we had agreed. The house was gorgeous, with a perfectly manicured lawn and a grandiose front door with a large dungeon peephole. The drapes were open and I could see into an open space designed to immediately relax you and impress you. Things were looking up.

He came to the door and I saw that he looked just like his picture (Not to be shallow, but so many do not). Another good sign. But little did I know what the night would bring.

We made our way into the living room. He made me a drink and we began to make small talk. It was actually divine; either he was an expert schmoozer or we were definitely hitting it off. When I caught a glimpse of my watch, I realized an hour had passed. Wow! Time often feels like it’s crawling in these situations, but with him an hour just blew right by. I was in heaven.

Then, the doorbell rang. Frantic knocking immediately followed.

My future husband looked as surprised and confused as I did. He poured me another drink then went to shoo whoever it was — probably a door-to-door salesman pushing a security alarm service or something. No problem.

He peeked through the peephole and — “Oh, God!”

Did he just “Oh God”? Are we about to get burgled? Who could it be at the door. Then came a booming female voice with a British accent: “Open that door NOW!” Mr. Dreamboat turned to me, mouthed “I’m sorry,” and opened the door.

A woman that could have walked right off the set of The Stepford Wives barreled inside, marched right into the living room and poured herself a drink. She was a 40-something woman that obviously took very good care of herself, was wearing a pink pantsuit that was both businesslike yet very girly and playful. But she wasn’t in a playful mood.

“I need to talk to you right this instant!” she insisted, not even noticing me until she poured her drink. When she did notice me, she demanded to know who I was, and when he explained he was on a date, she deigned to allow me to stay.

I can stay? What is this, The Bachelor? Do I need to compete for my date’s attention all night or what?

I probably should have left right then and there, but the feeling that things were just getting interesting kept me on the couch. She brushed her long brown hair behind her shoulders, straightened her $2,000 pantsuit and sat down beside me.

We introduced ourselves and I soon learned she and Mr. Husband-Material were not only best friends, but were also launching a new business venture that was in the midst of some major difficulties. Those problems had pushed her husband into full-on meltdown mode over those problems, and she was there because she and my date had to do something to fix it immediately.

It all sounded too personal for me to be privy to the conversation. But they just kept going while I sat there sipping on my drink. Ms. Pantsuit’s concern for her husband seemed very real and very urgent. But she stayed calm, obviously having navigated his nervous breakdowns before. “We’ve got to find him before he does something rash,” she declared.

My date pulled me aside, acknowledging how crazy the situation must seem and telling me I could leave if I wanted. But his eyes pleaded with me to stay. I told him I could leave, or if he really wanted, I would stay. I was calm, as if I watched these kinds of scenarios play out all the time.

“Okay, good,” he told me, “because I may need backup.”

Then he patted me on the back and went back into the living room like we were marching into battle. The thought occurred to me that maybe I should have run for the door.

Soon they get Stepford Wife’s husband on the phone and the pleading begins: “Where are you? For God’s sake, you’ve had me worried sick.” Barely intelligible words slurred at her through the phone; obviously, he was knock-down drunk.

My date asked where he was, told him they were coming to get him but — Click! he was gone. Ms. Pantsuit really started to worry and poured herself another drink. She paced the floor, a drink in one hand while the other waved wildly as she debated loudly over her husband’s whereabouts.

I stayed calm, chiming in when I thought I could be helpful: “Where does he normally go at this hour?” She looked up at me with a blank face. I couldn’t tell if she was suddenly grief stricken, about to lash out like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada or just deep in thought. Then I realized she was staring at a photo, on the wall directly behind me, of the three of them at a famous steak house. She barked at my date, demanding that he “call them, immediately,” as if he were her assistant. I could tell she was a loving friend but could be very demanding.

My date calls the steak house, and they confirm that he’s there and very drunk. They want him out of there ASAP, they say, explaining that since he’s a long time customer who spends lots of money there, they’re glad a friend or spouse can pick him up instead of them having to force him to leave.

Before I knew it, the three of us had piled into luxurious Mercedes-Benz with a ride so smooth you barely noticed the tension and worry in the car.

We pull up to the restaurant valet and Ms. Pantsuit and my date look at each other expectantly, both seemed to be waiting for the other to get out and get the man they were so very concerned about moments before.

“Everybody knows me in there, I don’t want to make a scene,” she said in her British accent that made everything sound posh and elegant.

“Everybody knows me, too! How many meetings have we had in there,” my date replied. It seemed odd to me that they would care about reputations when their dear friend — and her husband — was belligerent at the bar. Who cares what anybody else thinks?

They both look at me, their eyes begging: “Oh no, I don’t think that I could …”

Flash forward five minutes, and I’m walking up to the bar, having easily spotted the plastered husband. I politely tap him on the shoulder and let him know that a car has been sent for him. Motioning to the bartender, he answers, “Can you hear that? They sent a car for me! Guess that means

I’m big time now!” The bartender smiles weakly, looking at me with his own pleading eyes that beg me to “get him and go!” I tell him the car is right outside, and he starts to get up, putting his hands on my shoulders for leverage. But I wasn’t expecting to be holding up his weight, and we both tumble to the floor.

The entire restaurant is looking at us now, and I am mortified. No wonder Date and Pantsuit didn’t want to go in. While I am embarrassed, Drunk Husband is sprawled out on the floor, laughing hysterically. Is this man The Joker?

He starts to get up, then thinks better of it and starts to crawl toward the door. Oh my gawd! “Here…get up. Let’s get you home,” I tell him.

Finally, the poor man gets up and I really start to feel sorry for him. I resolve to not judge him, to just get him safely to the car. But at the very moment he stands upright and begins to walk, a beautiful young woman in a tight dress walks by. And somehow, the man who could barely walk seconds before has the energy to hold on to me with one hand and slap her ass with the other.

Smack! Right on the side of her right butt cheek. It was so loud you could here it echo through the restaurant. We both turn to look at her. Me in total disbelief. She snapped around, face red and eyes full of fury, and slapped him hard across the face. I couldn’t believe her laser precision; her hand came so close to my face that I thought a fingernail was going to slice right through my cornea. But she missed me and instead left his cheek as red as her face.

I pick up the pace, alternately pushing and dragging him toward the door. He was so drunk he barely registered what had happened. If I hadn’t been practically attached to him at the hip, I would have broken out into a full-on sprint for the door. He barely knows me but is holding on for dear life, struggling not to fall again AND he just assaulted some poor girl! Somebody get me out of here!

After what felt like an eternity, but was probably less than a minute after the booty-slap, we made it to the car. I swung open the door and practically pushed him into the back seat. At lightning speed, I zip around the car, hop into the backseat yelling, “Drive! Now!”

Date and Pantsuit knew instinctively that something went terribly wrong, and Date-turned-Taxi-Driver slams the car into drive. But before we can leave, a man who looks like John Cena’s bigger brother starts crawling over the patio barrier. My eyes lock with his, and I feel sheer terror: This must be 20-Something’s boyfriend. Oh my God! He gets over the barrier, leans back to grab a full glass of some alcoholic beverage and throws it at the back window of the Mercedes, shattering the glass into a million pieces. It sounded like someone had just shot into the car.

I couldn’t believe this was happening! Am I dreaming? No! “Drive!” I yell.

I thought glass from the window was going to rain in on us, but it didn’t. The glass and its contents were scattered across the parking lot, but the window was still intact. I was so thankful, praying to God that John Cena’s more muscular brother wasn’t going to follow us home and murder us all with bare hands.

We pulled up to Date’s lovely house and I jumped out, leaving my date/getaway driver to wrangle his drunk friend. My eyes were darting up and down the street, waiting to see if the angry Spartan had followed us.

My God! Only hours ago I stood in this driveway full of hope. Now, I was full of terror. It took about 20 minutes for me to believe that the murderous muscle man hadn’t followed us and we weren’t about to live out a scene from Scream. Thank you, Jesus!

By then, I had decided I had had enough of this highly interesting trio for one evening, and I took my leave. How did a simple date turn into such a complete and total disaster?

I can’t say that I regret the evening, because it was a little fun to watch this shit-show unfold. But I definitely had had enough drama for one evening. God knows what happened after I drove away, with Mr. Wonderful watching me from his front steps with the “I’ll probably never see you again” eyes. In fact, that’s exactly the text I got later that night: “Never see you again?” I thought about it and realized I may be an introvert, but I don’t mind a little drama here and there. You only live once, right?

I responded, “Never see you again, huh? I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
Until next time,
XOXO

Brent Paxton is a writer, screenwriter and filmmaker living in Dallas. You can follow him on Facebook at Facebook.com/BrentPaxton, and contact him at bpax@outlook.com or 903-922-4988.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

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WATCH: Story on gay men tortured in Chechnya

Posted on 22 Jun 2017 at 2:59pm

Photo by Daniel Bateman/Vice News (HBO)

If you missed it when it aired earlier this week on HBO, you can now see (for free on YouTube) the Vice News segment about how gay men were allegedly tortured at Argun prison in Chechnya. The officials deny it, of course — one honcho, named Kataev, bizarrely offering correspondent Hind Hassan the contradictory argument that gay men are so disgusting, his men would never even touch one, so how could they beat them? (Imagine all gay bashings defended that way: I hate gays so much, I would never beat one up cuz I don’t want to be that close.)

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Ted Cruz opposes Republican healthcare bill

Posted on 22 Jun 2017 at 2:54pm

Cruz.TedAfter Republicans released their healthcare proposal, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he opposed the bill. Also opposing the bill are Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Republicans can lose just two votes to pass a bill, unless they have any Democratic support.

In a statement, they said, “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

The Republican bill eliminates the individual mandate to have insurance and the requirement for employers with 50 or more employees to provide insurance. The bill phases out a number of benefits including an annual health exam and maternity care. Medicaid would drastically be reduced.

The bill keeps the pre-existing conditions policy and allows parents to cover their children until age 26.

The Senate bill maintains subsidies to buy health insurance through 2019 and then eliminates them.

The prohibition on lifetime limits remains, but states are allowed to change that.

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Callahan and Kleinman nominated anti-LGBT bigot

Posted on 22 Jun 2017 at 10:49am

Councilmen Lee Kleinman and Rick Callahan are the ones who nominated anti-LGBT bigot Vonciel Jones Hill to the DART board, according to a city document.

Callahan has voted against the LGBT community before. He teamed with Hill to vote against extending the definition of spouse to include same-sex partners who have been legally married for purposes of pension benefits. That vote came months before the U.S. supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

Kleinman, on the other hand, has led a fight on both the Dallas city employees pension board and the Dallas Police and Firefighters pension board to include same-sex spouses for benefit purposes.

Hill is one of 14 nominees including five incumbents. There are no term limits for DART board members and Dallas appoints seven members to the 14-member board.

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Before you see Melissa Etheridge at the Majestic, read this

Posted on 22 Jun 2017 at 10:01am

Last month we ran an interview with music legend (and gay icon) Melissa Etheridge. Next week, the lesbian rocker will be performing live in Dallas at a concert at the Majestic. (You can get tickets here.) Before you see her in concert, though, you might wanna check out the interview, in which she talks about how she relaxes before a concert, dealing with the Trump presidency how she feels about gay activism. Read it here.

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Anti-LGBT bigot nominated for DART board

Posted on 21 Jun 2017 at 4:22pm
Hill.Vonceil.Jones

Vonciel Jones Hill

Vonciel Jones Hill, who spent her eight years on the Dallas City Council opposing LGBT equality, has been nominated to the DART board.

One job of the city council is to welcome people to the city. It costs nothing and brings in revenue. However, for eight years, Hill refused to sign a letter welcoming visitors to the city to Dallas Pride. That event brings thousands of people to the Dallas each year. Those visits generate revenue for the city.

Here’s one of an annual series of stories about Hill being the only council member to refuse to sign a letter welcoming visitors to Pride.

Several months before marriage equality went nationwide in 2015, the Dallas City Council voted to change the definition of spouse for pension purposes. Same-sex spouses would be treated equally with opposite-sex spouses for pensions. Hill voted to deny pensions to same-sex spouses of retired city employees.

In 2013, Hill protested a Greater Than AIDS billboard placed in her district, an area that is among the highest in HIV infections in North Texas.

She protested the billboard presenting gay African-American men as acceptable and said “engaging in such conduct presents health risks.”

Her objections sparked protests outside Abounding Prosperity. County Health Director Zach Thompson did a good job of refuting her. Does she understand that some DART employees have HIV and will she begin discriminating against those employees? Is the city council looking for a new DART board member whose presence will spark protests?

Hill may be a quite competent attorney and talk to her about any other subject and she comes across as bright and engaged. But her bigotry against the LGBT community disqualifies her as a board member to DART, which many people in the LGBT community rely on.

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8 finalists considered for DPD chief

Posted on 21 Jun 2017 at 12:23pm

Eight finalists will be interviewed for the position of Dallas Police Chief to replace David Brown. Three are DPD deputy or assistant chiefs. Another is from the North Texas area and four others are from across the country.

The candidates are:

· Malik Aziz, deputy chief, Dallas Police Department

· Carmen Best, deputy chief, Seattle Police Department

· Steven Dye, chief, Grand Prairie Police Department

· U. Renee Hall, deputy chief, Detroit Police Department

· Michel Moore, first assistant chief, Los Angeles Police Department

· Luther Reynolds, assistant chief, Montgomery County (Maryland) Police Department

· Gary Tittle, assistant chief, Dallas Police Department

· Rick Watson, deputy chief, Dallas Police Department

The three-day interview process takes place in July and a candidate reception will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 10 that is open to the community.

Of those local chiefs on the list, Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman pointed out that Aziz has worked in the command center for years during the annual Pride parade. He called Aziz inclusive and said he has worked well with the LGBT community.

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‘Fun Home’ tickets to Dallas show go on sale Friday

Posted on 21 Jun 2017 at 9:55am

Fun Home, the Tony Award-winning musical about a young queer girl who grows up in a funeral home, and only later discovers secrets about her father, will be coming to Dallas’ Winspear Opera House in September (just in time for Pride!). Starting on Friday at 10 a.m., single tickets for the production will go on sale. The show runs Sept. 13–24.

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Carlo elected to AMA Council on Science and Public Health

Posted on 21 Jun 2017 at 9:03am

John Carlo

Dr. John Carlo, CEO of Prism Health formerly known as AIDS Arms, was elected to an American Medical Association leadership position.

Carlo was elected to the AMA Council on Science and Public Health and will bring his experience of leading the many uniquely integrated HIV medical treatment programs of Prism Health North Texas, as well as his experience leading the Dallas County Medical Society physicians during the 2014 Ebola crisis in Dallas. Dr. Carlo is currently the President of the Dallas County Medical Society and also chairs the Texas Medical Associations’ Council on Socioeconomics.

The AMA Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) works to represent the AMA’s core belief that scientific evidence is the basis for improving the quality of patient care, promoting medical progress and enhancing the health of the public. The Council meets bi-annually.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to bring our experiences here in Dallas to the national level where we can hope to shape better policies that meet the health needs of patients,” says Dr. Carlo on why he was interested in serving. “How we have been successful in tackling some of our biggest public health challenges here in Dallas hopefully will serve as good models and ideas for future health care programs and designs.”

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