FEEDBACK: Cancel DMN subscriptions, Saving Easter in the Park, Tell TCA what you think

Cancel DMN subscriptions

The policy of the Dallas Morning News, which excludes same-sex marriage announcements while printing “traditional” marriage announcements, is discrimination, pure and simple. I just cancelled my subscription to the News, as I do not want my money supporting such discrimination. I urge other News subscribers to do the same, telling the News the reason for your cancellation.

Joe Ball, via e-mail

Saving Easter in the Park

Over 20 years ago, Oak Lawn was different. Known for our gays residents, artists and bohemians, Oak Lawn was a destination and a diamond in the conservative rough that was Dallas, Texas. People traveled miles for the safety, solace and solidarity provided just entering Oak Lawn’s boundaries. Events dotted the year. Obviously they were heavy on the gay side but they also were heavy with people that loved and didn’t judge us.

Easter in the Park was one of those events, and it was the most diverse of them all. Even the Dallas Symphony showed us the love by spending a cherished religious holiday with the scourge of the Christian community — we, the lowly homosexuals, and our proud brethren.

Fast forward to 2011. Those people we sought refuge from, that always showed us fear and contempt, infiltrated Easter in the Park and took our tradition away from us. The event was to be moved and made more “family friendly.”

I guess no one told them we were family already and our traditions bind us.

Gentrification is the same dance in any country and in any city. Bohemians, artists and gay people move to architecturally rich but neglected parts of town and make lemons into lemonade. Transformative magic happens, property values go up, tourism increases and good press abounds.

Then waves of yuppies come, each being a little less tolerant than their predecessor. They do not share the live-and-let-live mentality that allowed the first batch to come in the first place. They demand chain establishments and upscale amenties and folks with the income to afford them.

Long ago created to protect Oak Lawn’s character and history, the Oak Lawn Committee abandoned that mission ages ago. The last bit of history they let be destroyed were all the apartments that fell between Wycliff, Douglas, Rawlins and Hall. What were once charming duplexes and apartments are now what John Waters might call a “communist day care center.”

The committee is chock full of developers, and their last decade seems to have been dedicated to the three-story rectangle and the wonders it bestows on mankind. If you are unable to reside in one of these for $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000, then pity you, please leave. Be careful Oak Cliff. You’re next.

It isn’t just developers’ fault. The block on Cedar Springs where JR.’s resides used to be a historic collection of quaint storefronts that mirrored across the street. Now a collection of cavernous cinderblock buildings house our bars. They are so large and impersonal, they require a few hundred people to achieve the intimacy 50 used to provide. If we lose Easter in the Park, then we lose a piece of ourselves and where we came from. Those that fought for where we are today would be mortified. I hear them turning in their graves.

I intend to show up in Lee Park on Easter and have a contest with myself to see how gay I can look for the family-friendly crowd. When it comes to respect, I give what I get.

Michael Amonett, via e-mail

Tell TCA what you think

Please call the Turtle Creek Association and Cathy Golden at 214-526-2800 and voice your opposition to the hijacking of the Easter in the Park event, done apparently to exclude gays this year, which was thwarted only by heavy arm-twisting. Read the press; join the Facebook fan page and, most importantly, show up! Ms. Golden can have her own “family-friendly” Creek Craze on April 17 if she wants. I was born into a family and have a family of choice and consider myself friendly. Doesn’t that make me “family-friendly”? Perhaps not in Ms. Golden’s “hetero-Republican-marriage-and-two-kids” world, but the world has changed a lot. I remember when Lee Park was a cruise spot with a popular tee room; it was all some people had. I personally think it’s fantastic that youth today have no clue what a cruise park or a tee room is. There are real role models to aspire to today and real, healthy community events —including Easter in the Park.

This is really quite typical of how things tend to operate. We move in to an area, organization or event and make it fabulous — and then get run off. I will oppose any change that Ms. Golden wishes to bring that would take us all back to the “golden days” when gays were marginalized on a grand scale, forced into the bushes, darkened cruise spots and closets. Change is coming folks; change is here. We’re here; we’re queer; get over it! Oh and one more thing: Thank God for drag queens and trannies. If it were not for them, we as the gay community would not exist. Look back on Stonewall and remember; we must never forget to honor the bravest amongst ourselves. I stand in awe of people who are just who they are and live life day after day against threats of violence, hatred, homophobia, misogyny (which is where I personally believe that homophobia has it’s real origin), and just live out loud!

Daniel Shipman, via Instant Tea

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Slight, off-hand: Oscar-nominated ‘The Illusionist’ aims for twee more than wow

BOTTOMANIA | Flouncy rockers The Britoons show the gay side of a Beatles-like band.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

The French filmmaker Jacques Tati was a latter-day Chaplin with Gallic sensibilities. In just a handful of nearly silent films in the 1950s — 30 years before the Griswolds — his guileless M. Hulot got embroiled in a cascade of fiascos that delighted audiences at the time, and some film enthusiasts since.

That was half a century and a full continent ago, and closer in time to when he wrote The Illusionist than when animator Sylvain Chomet adapted it to the current feature-length cartoon, just nominated for an Oscar. You can see why it was nominated: The faded, painterly images evoke the best of 1960s Disney animation, like 101 Dalmatians: Hand-drawn art, not computer-generated commerce.

But just being old school doesn’t quite get you there, entertainment-wise. The Illusionist is sentimental and twee, with a melancholy tone that feels less earned than foisted upon audiences.

It’s the Cold War era, and the title character is a remnant of the age of Vaudeville: A magician whose once-impressive sleight-of-hand tricks seem out of place when groups like The Britoons — Beatles-inspired rockers who make girls swoon but behind the curtain are as queer as three-dollar bills — can pack in teeny-boppers to bigger venues than he can.

While performing his act in Scotland, the Illusionist meets Alice, a lass anxious to brush the cold dust of her provincial town off and see the world — and he’s as sophisticated as anything she’s ever come across. What follows is kind of road movie tracking the growth of their platonic relationship and its inevitable conclusion as his unrequited feelings leave him lonely.

The artwork is fine if not magnificent (the Illusionist’s hands seems weirdly disproportionate to his body) and the story has its charms, but what’s it all about? The plot, if you can call it that, unfolds slowly even for a shortish film, and you don’t need to be a magician to see where it’s all headed. This is more leisurely, “adult” animation that you might get from Pixar, but that doesn’t make it better: I’ll take The Incredibles go Up making Ratatouille with Wall-E any day. The Illusionist? You need to be in the mood for that.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Chrome drama

Not everyone agrees what qualifies as a collectible car, but Classic Chassis has some ideas

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Classic Car Show
ALL MY FRIENDS LOVE A LOW-RIDER | The author disrespects a 1971 Eldorado owned by Classic Chassis Car Club member Paul J. Williams — although it does have bouncy hydraulics. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street.
Aug. 14 . 10 a.m.

Being the driver of a Ford Escape, I don’t get the double-takes driving down the road. My mini-SUV is functional, it blends in and it gets me places. But something deep inside my Mexican-American bones reacts when I see a 1979 Monte Carlo painted in glossy purple with the Last Supper etched into the rear window, gold rims and (if I’m just lucky enough) an amazing set of hydraulics.

So, any car show on the Strip should put me at a crossroads (pun intended): My Hispanic heritage could celebrate the art and significance of the car in my culture, and the gay side marvel at matching interiors.

To find out more about the show, all roads led to actor/comedian Paul J. Williams, himself a classic car owner and member of the Classic Chassis Car Club.

Like any car show, I wondered if it would have umpteen bikini gals walking around while hip-hop blared out of car trunks. Really, I couldn’t wait to see the pimped out D-bodies with sweet whammy tanks.

“Keep waiting,” Williams told me. “We’re excited to have hip-hop artists Notorious G.A.Y. and Dr. Fab spinning 8-tracks and I plan on wearing my one- piece with the modesty skirt. I can’t speak for the others.”

Methinks he was pulling my leg. Then he set me straight that Classic Chassis will display vehicles in the Cedar Springs Sidewalk Sale and Classic Car Show Saturday. So “classic” for these guys isn’t the low-rider kind; these are true vintage rides.

“By my definition, a classic car is one that is 25 years old or older,” he says. “This, however, does not apply to my definition of classic men.”

The predominantly gay Classic Chassis group of vintage car collectors, aficionados and fans meets monthly, but teamed up with the Merchant Association for the all-day event, which also features arts, baked goods and music. Shoppers and visitors can put their judgmental skills to use by purchasing a ballot for a buck and let loose their fury or delight on the displayed cars.

Williams owns a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado and he’s sold me on its pluses. The Cambridge red ride is badass to see up close. Its architecture has glorious lines long gone from modern bodies and the space inside is, well, useful.

“My Eldorado convertible has inner spring seats, so it’s certainly a comfortable place to make out in,” he says.

Score! Although, he assures this isn’t a cheap hobby, and if I’m anything, it is chuh-eap. The significant O will have to bear with while I lean over the gearshift for a smooch. But Williams says Classic Chassis isn’t just for those who own an old car: They are all-inclusive for those without a hot rod or drophead coupe.

“I love finding a group of guys who can discuss obscure trivia about cars and not look at me like I’m crazy,” Williams says. “Collectors aren’t terribly wealthy, just passionate. Of course, money helps! Come to look, but also find out more about the club. Anyone who has an interest in classic cars is welcome to join.”

It’s a hard sell with triple-digit heat — I’d rather be inside with my TV and Cheetos. But he wasn’t going to have it.

“Run in to one of the Cedar Springs merchants to cool off. There’s ice tea at Buli,” he says.

Looks like my Saturday is booked. Plus if Williams ran over me with that thing, it wouldn’t be pretty. For either of us.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas