The Coffee Lab aims to fill void on Cedar Springs

With Buli converting to a piano bar, the strip was going to be minus a coffee shop where people could convene with their laptops and spend hours nursing a latte. But I snapped this quick pic today while driving that way to find The Coffee Lab slated for the old Obscurities place next to Hungdinger. According to co-owner Neil Delaney, we should be enjoying their fine coffee drinks pretty soon.

If all goes according to plan, Delaney said, the shop could open on its target date of May 1 for the new “third wave” coffee house. Third wave has something to do with the all the coffee in the shop is no more than two weeks out of being roasted. The coffee comes from Counter Culture out of North Carolina. Pretty much after that shelf life, the coffee is out of there. Otherwise, Delaney is intent on providing the freshest coffee (that is also fair trade and organically certified) possible to customers.

“Every time we make a drink, the coffee will be ground right before it’s made,” Delaney said.

Delaney wasn’t specifically looking in the area for his new upstart company, but as he discovered Buli’s metamorphosis, his real estate agent suggested the spot. Delaney saw the timing as pure luck and got a lock on the spot. The signs went up Tuesday.

Delaney and his business partner Darin Danford are aware also of their location (they’re straight) and hope the Lab will fit right in to the heart of the gayborhood.

“We’re so excited about being a part of the community and we want to support it as well,” he said. “We know down there, a business either stays open two years or 20 years.”

They are shooting for the latter.

The Coffee Lab is currently hiring. Visit their website for details.

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 02.25

Poundstoning the pavement
We love our Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho, but Paula Poundstone was right there with them on the up and up. She’s carved her own queer comedy path which comes this way. We give her props for her stand-up, but she’s crazy hilarious each week on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me trivia comedy show. DEETS: Majestic Theater, 1925 Elm St. 8 p.m. $31–$106. PaulaInDallas.com

Sunday 02.27

Is that an Oscar in your pants?
One of these men (don’t forget Javier Bardem, too) will walk away with a best actor Oscar. You can watch that at one of many gayborhood watching parties, but first, listen to Dallas Voice’s Arnold Wayne Jones and David Taffet talk Oscar on Sunday’s Lambda Weekly on 89.3 KNON at noon. We predict Colin Firth wins. Yeah, we said it.
DEETS: Airs on WFAA Channel 8 at 7 p.m. Red carpet coverage at 6 p.m. Oscar.com

Thursday 03.03

Be Out of the Loop by being in it
WaterTower Theatre knows how to give a theater festival. The Out of the Loop festival returns with 11 days of shows. Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories, pictured, is one of the opener shows and ends with a three-day run of Robert Wuhl’s Assume the Position.
DEETS: WTT, 15650 Addison Road. $10–$20. Through March 13. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

DEALING with it

A LEAGUE OF OUR  OWN | Flirting can be used to your advantage when playing poker in a gay league. Just ask Pocket Rockets founder Jeff Teller. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Even with Lady Gaga’s advice, poker face does nothing to help the couch potato know when to hold ’em and fold ’em in gay traveling card tourney

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Playing for money without really playing for money is my kind of betting. With gas at three bucks a gallon, my wallet is screaming for help, but Pocket Rockets turns me into one high roller. All I really have to dole out is a couple of bucks for drinks and put on a poker face for some Texas Hold ‘em action at three clubs around the gayborhood. The best part — total exhilaration — comes even when my ass is handed to me by my opponent’s full house.

“We go out of our way to make sure people are comfortable in poker setting,” says owner Jeff Teller. “It’s just about fun.”

At Sue Ellen’s on a recent Tuesday, I got my game on. Activities that involve sitting while partaking of alcohol are ideal for the dedicated couch potato. The cardio behind it is just my speed at the deal … but seriously, poker is stressful. Thinking it would be all drinks and laughs, the “fun table” was just as serious as the tournament final table dealing across the dance floor. I’d played Texas Hold ‘em once before at some friends’ loft. Once. And that was three years ago. Without Cliff’s Notes in hand, I was about to be “that guy.” But once people figured I was the speed bump, they all pitched in to help.

“Lots of people are intimidated by poker, but we’re really friendly,” Teller assures. “[My partner, Aaron Ahamed and I] were nervous our first time. The one thing we do at our league is, we emphasize good sportsmanship. I really feel that enables us to bring in new players.”

By day, Teller is a yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist, but his interest in poker got him started on the path with his new company.

Poker isn’t new to Dallas gays: The Round-Up Saloon hosts a Wednesday tourney that goes on hiatus for a while after each championship. Pocket Rockets, however, runs continuously, offering prizes each night (which I didn’t win).

Teller says up to 45 players will play on any given night, which (as of now) takes place four times a week. Along with Sue Ellen’s on Tuesdays, Pocket Rockets hosts poker tourneys at TMC: The Mining Company on Thursdays and at the Brick Saturdays and Sundays. Teller and Ahamed plan to keep players going at each of those venues while adding more.

“We’re making an effort to get out there, be involved,” he says. “We started going and went to a couple of other leagues and thought how nice it’d be to put emphasis on gay community.”

My night of play, despite my half-hearted efforts in true CPAJ style, left me a total loser. My first plan of attack wasn’t working: Fold and never bet until people fell out of the game. This was not a good idea. Confusion led to checking which led to unfortunate bets. When I looked down I had less than 10 chips — just over a $1,000. This was the inevitable “fuck it moment” and I went all-in with a hand that I felt confident about … too confident as it turned out.

With an ace and a queen in hand and an ace and queen on the table, I had a strong two pair hand. I was edging, trying not to jump ahead to do my “in your face” dance. Something about a side bet would have put me back on track but another player won with his ace and king, also mirrored on the table. One other player had his ace but a weaker hand. It was climactic and the table rallied with “ohhhs” as each hand revealed.

“Yeah, there’s that drama because queens are playing,” Teller says. “ Some people take their game so seriously that you’d think the Super Bowl was going on. You can’t help the drama.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Going in as a novice, margaritas and beers obviously did not affect my judgment, but Teller still gave me tips on how to be ready for the next time.

“Sense you’re players and if they are cute, that could work in your favor,” he says. “You can distract with flirtation and then all of the sudden take him out. And glute exercises, because sometimes you’re sitting for hours at a time.”

Wait, exercise? Ugh.

For more information, visit PocketRocketsDallas.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Hunt draws another challenger in District 14

Chad Lasseter

IT Sales professional says differences of opinion with council incumbent led to candidacy

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Chad Lasseter said this week that he decided to run for the District 14 Dallas City Council seat after meeting with incumbent Angela Hunt in January and discovering he has “a basic difference in philosophy” with her.

While he called Hunt extremely gracious for taking the time to meet with him, he said he found that he differed from her on how to approach a number of issues.

“From that meeting, I found I would do things differently” in a number of areas, Lasseter said.

Lasseter said one of District 14’s biggest challenges has always been Lowest Greenville Avenue, where business owners are often pitted against neighborhood groups on questions of parking for area bars and restaurants, noise, litter and destruction of property by patrons.

While a solution for the area is in the works, Lasseter said that the problem has been around for years and that only after Hunt faced opposition in her re-election was anything done.

Lasseter also said he would have taken a different approach to solving the area’s problems, and that he would have chosen an approach that didn’t involve homeowners in the area giving up property rights.

Walking up and down Cedar Springs Road and talking to storeowners along the way as he talked to a reporter, Lasseter said he believes the gay entertainment district should be used as a model for the East Dallas area. But the gayborhood has issues, too.

Lighting in Oak Lawn on streets around the Crossroads area has been a problem. Lasseter wants to expand sodium arc lighting into the neighborhood to increase safety.

Lasseter said the deciding issue in his decision to run was property taxes. He called Hunt’s vote to increase taxes last year the deciding vote on the council and said raising taxes on senior citizens”criminal.”

“These are people who spent their lives paying into our system,” Lasseter said. “These people are, for the most part, on fixed incomes and we’re now running them out of their homes.”

He wants to freeze property taxes for seniors, look into rolling them back and implement a senior tax cap.

“I’d like to see a government that’s more responsive,” he said. “I’d like to see a government that’s more transparent and a government that’s more accountable.”

Lasseter called public safety the first responsibility of local government.

“We have mounting debt services and a budget shortfall,” he said.

With a billion dollar budget, 75 percent is for essential services, which doesn’t leave much fat, he said.

There are three ways to balance a budget, Lasseter said: Raising taxes and cutting spending are the first two, but he’s against tax increases and said that there’s little room for cuts that allow for maintaining the quality of life the city’s residents expect.

The third is to increase revenue and Lasseter believes there are a number of things the city can do in that area.

“Create additional revenue and grow the tax base,” he said.

Lasseter said that he’d like to make it easier to do business with the city by limiting the amount of paperwork and permits a business needs to operate in Dallas. And he called public-private partnerships like the Lee Park Conservancy another example of how the city can work with organizations to increase revenue.

Lasseter said he has been looking into the possibility of bringing the Texas Rangers to Dallas once their lease at the Ballpark in Arlington expires in 2018, a move he said would generate more revenue.

Creating incentives for businesses to return to the city from the suburbs and to move here from out of state would help the tax base grow, Lasseter said, pointing at the growth and development in downtown Austin as a model.

He mentioned a number of quality of life issues he supports including maintaining the parks, expanding rail and trolley lines and repairing roads.

Throughout the campaign period, Lasseter said he plans to issue platform position papers. The first will be about public safety and include his ideas on reducing crime and lessening the burden on the police force. Others will follow.

Lasseter, 37, is director of sales and services for NorthWind Consulting Services. He lives in the Hollywood Heights neighborhood of East Dallas.

He said that a number of public forums are being planned for the candidates to discuss the issues as the campaign progresses. •

Meet the candidate campaign launch party at Barley House, 5612 SMU Blvd. Feb. 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, visit ChadLasseter.com.

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

—  John Wright

Borders to close West Village store

You may have heard Borders books is in dire straits owing millions to publishers and having thus declared bankruptcy. But now we hear that the West Village store is among 10 stores in Texas to be closed. NBC posted on their site that clearance sales could start as soon as this weekend at the stores marked for closure.

The West Village location has already posted this on their site:

This store is expected to close no later than the end of April. We?ve enjoyed serving the many customers who have shopped this store over the years. Please use our Store Locator to find another store in your area, or purchase from our vast selection of books and other merchandise here on Borders.com.

What sucks is that pulls another bookstore out of the gayborhood. Crossroads Bookstore’s closing a few years ago was monumental to the ‘hood because that was the gay bookstore of Dallas. Half Price Books used to have a location off Oak Lawn as well. Borders in West Village has a respectable LGBT section, and its closure is a bummer for the neighborhood — gay and straight.

The Preston location in Dallas is also the home for the Lesbian Book Club, which meets monthly. I’ve called their contact number for a response but only reached voicemail.

—  Rich Lopez

A look at what the newly famous gay couple from our cover story is doing for Valentine’s

KC, left, and Larry Jansson

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I seem to be the only romantic in the Dallas Voice office. Valentine’s Day was my anniversary.

To counter the lack of Valentine’s Day cheer around here today — senior editor Tammy Nash and wife Sandra will be going to the gym together, advertising director Leo Cusimano did Valentine’s things with his kids over the weekend, classifieds manager Greg Hoover thinks a poker game tonight might be fun — I spoke to Larry and KC Jansson. Fast becoming Dallas’ most popular romantic couple, we featured them in the cover story of Friday’s Dallas Voice.

“So of course you know we are romantics,” Larry said.

Duh.

Yesterday they checked into the W-Dallas hotel, where they held their wedding reception in December 2009.

“It was so cool to be here again,” he said. “This place will always be special to us.”

But of course that wasn’t all of the romance.

—  David Taffet

Holiday kick-off

LIGHTING THE WAY  | The DFW Sisters perform a ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Tree on the patio of TMC during the Cedar Springs Merchants Association’s First Wednesday celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The event marked the third year in which businesses in the gayborhood have welcomed the holidays with a First Wednesday party. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Cedar Springs Kroger officially upgrades today

Um, have you been to Kroger on Cedar Springs yet? Likely if you’re in the gayborhood you have, but if not, head there today. They are celebrating their official “reopening” after an interior overhaul. And did they do a good job.

Gone is the dreary white space from before. They’ve spruced it up big time from wider aisles to more hot food options and warmer decor. Think Whole Foods, but more affordable. I was pretty excited about the new look so I dragged John Wright out and we ran over and snapped some pics to give you an idea of the new digs. We didn’t however partake in the barrage of samples they were handing out. I hear they’ll be doing that most of the day. And most of ‘em smelled delish. More pics below.

—  Rich Lopez

PD offers tips on staying safe as crowds come to Oak Lawn for Pride

Shooting, recent uptick in muggings raise concerns in the gayborhood

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin
LGBT Liaison Officer Laura Martin

Pride weekend is expected bring huge crowds to the Oak Lawn area. But will the extra crowds translate into safety in numbers, or will it offer more chances for random attacks?
Dallas Police Officer Laura Martin, the department’s LGBT liaison, said that there would be at least 40 off-duty officers patrolling during the parade and festival in Lee Park.

Depending upon the size of the crowd, additional on-duty officers will also be in the area.

Martin said that any time crime is reported in an area, patrols are stepped up. But that doesn’t mean that officers will be found on every corner, and she warned anyone coming to Oak Lawn to take safety precautions.

“Parking in well lit areas makes a difference,” she said. “Don’t walk alone. Be aware of your surroundings.”

She said to be aware of groups of people that look they might be up to no good.

“Don’t be afraid to offend them,” she said, advising that people turn around or cross the street.

Because of the number of people who will be in Oak Lawn, Martin said that parking will be a problem. Available parking may be farther from the bars than usual. And she warned visitors to the area not to park illegally or in lots marked for towing.

“A lot of cars will be towed this weekend,” Martin said.

She suggested that people who are staying to go to the bars or restaurants on Cedar Springs after the parade and festival in Lee Park either move cars closer early in the evening as the crowds thin or take a cab back to their car later at night.

Martin also suggested that visitors “avoid ATMs in the area where you’re going to be.” She suggested going to the ATM near home or stopping off for cash the day before, and said visitors to the area shouldn’t carry too much cash with them.

A robbery in Oak Lawn last week involved someone who was carrying cash that he had not gotten to deposit in the bank.

On Sept. 10, a 21-year-old man was held up at gunpoint at as he was retrieving keys from a friend’s car on Dickason Avenue, one block from the bars on Cedar Springs Road.

Two Latin males in their 20s demanded money and property and got away with $500 in cash and a cell phone valued at $500. The incident happened at 10:15 p.m. The victim, who asked not to be identified, was not injured.

Several other incidents have occurred in the area over the past month.

On Aug. 30, Oak Lawn resident Doug Tull was shot in a robbery on Brown Street just a couple of blocks from his apartment. After two emergency surgeries, he was scheduled to be released from Parkland Hospital on Thursday, Sept. 16.

On Aug. 19, Kellen Sullivan was at Uncle Julio’s on Lemmon celebrating a friend’s birthday when he stepped outside to smoke. He was standing about 10 feet from the entrance when he was assaulted. Although Sullivan willingly gave the mugger his wallet, the man still hit him in the face with his pistol and ran.

“My nose was a complete bloody mess,” said Sullivan. “I had a gash on the side of my eye.”

He said that his has three scars from the attack and left the side of his eye is misshapen.

Two witnesses saw the attack. One said that he saw the suspect take the wallet and run through an alley toward Wycliff Avenue. He and another witness followed the suspect down the alley and reported to police that he jumped into a waiting gold Chevrolet Cavalier parked at an apartment complex off Wycliff Avenue.

The suspects drove off with their lights off, and the witnesses were unable to get the license plate number in the dark.

Allison said Sullivan came back into the restaurant with two black eyes and a cut on his cheek. Dallas Fire-Rescue treated him at the scene.

Violent crime is down in the city of Dallas by 7.3 percent for the year. The biggest decrease is in the murder rate. Rape is the only category that shows an increase.

Aggravated assaults are down, but only by less than 1 percent.

Overall crime is also down in the reporting district that includes the Cedar Springs entertainment area and surrounding neighborhoods, but reported street attacks on members of LGBT community appear to be on the increase.

Martin said that she would like to see increased reporting by witnesses. Although she said she hopes most people feel comfortable working with officers assigned to patrol the area, she said she is there for anyone who was not.

Martin said she understands concerns of people who are not out, have employment concerns or are married and she can take witness information confidentially. She can be reached at a non-police department e-mail at police@rcdallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas BiNet marking ‘Celebrate Bisexuality Day’ with mixer at Bronx

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

The local chapter of BiNet will mark Celebrate Bisexuality Day on Thursday, Sept. 23, with a mixer at 6 p.m. in the back patio area of The Bronx on Cedar Springs Road.

Nationally, this is the 19th annual event according to BiNet USA.

“We’re getting together to bring visibility to bisexuals in North Texas during Pride,” said Latisha McDaniel. “We’re trying to make the B not silent anymore.”

She said bisexuals often just blend.

“They just lump the B’s,” she said. “We’re either in a same-sex relationship or we’re in a straight relationship,” so bisexuals are often seen as either gay or straight.

McDaniel said that coming out as bisexual is often risky in any relationship. In the gay and lesbian community, she said that bisexuality is often treated as a transitional phase.
“We’re treated as 2 percent milk, kind of lukewarm,” she said.

McDaniel said she has even been asked why she cares about marriage equality.

“It’s as if bis come to the gayborhood for their kicks and then go home,” she said.

Morgan O’Donnell said she has been with DFW BiNet since April.

“I had been in a job that was fairly supportive,” she said. “I left that job and didn’t have support. When I went to BiNet, they went all out to welcome me.”

She said DFW BiNet’s support group meets the first Saturday of each month at Resource Center Dallas to discuss issues of particular concern to people coming out and living as bisexual.

“We’re considered to be sitting on the fence,” O’Donnell said, adding that is the number one issue bisexuals regularly address to straights as well as to gays and lesbians.
“It helps to be with a group of people who share similar experiences,” she said.

O’Donnell said that the event at The Bronx is for allies and supporters as well as bisexuals and those who are questioning.

“The evening will give people an opportunity to celebrate their bisexuality,” O’Donnell said, adding that she hopes the event brings more visibility to DFW BiNet.

A $5 donation at the door is suggested. Reservations are not required but are suggested since seating is limited. Reservations can be made on the group’s Facebook page found under DFW BiNet.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens