If you like it build a museum to it, Houston may get Beyoncé monument

I'm sure the plans for the failed 555 ft "Spirit of Houston" statue are still in a drawer somewhere. Just make it more bootylicious and put a ring on it.

Hometown heroes have always been honored with monuments; from Hannibal, Missouri’s Mark Twain Museum to Cleveland’s memorial to President Garfield, from Atchison, Kansas’ Amelia Earhart museum, to Concord, Ohio’s John Glenn historic site. Pity Houston! Which scion of our fair burg will rise up from the shackles of obscurity to clasp the liberty of immortality that only a dedicated monument can bring?

Beyoncé Knowles, that’s who, at least according to two men who skyped with Fox 26 and are expecting the Mayor to endorse their plans any day now. Steve White and Marcus Mitchell of Armdeonce Ventures say they want to honor the newly minted musical mother with a “statue or museum.” According to Mitchell,

““Our biggest thing is a lot of people get honored when they die, so our goal is to why not honor people why they’re still here? We felt as though it’s her time to be honored. We wanted to construct, like, a massive hall so as the doors open, if you donated to the monument, you’ll have a separate nameplate.”

Armdeonce Ventures has offices in Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Houston according to it’s website. The Beyoncé Monument is the only project currently listed on the site.

Watch the Fox 26 interview with the visionary twosome after the break.

—  admin

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Ooh-la-la

There’s a reason The French Room has a rep as one of Dallas’ best restaurants — because it is

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

MAIS OUI | The food at The French Room is as impressive as its decor.

Overall Rating 4.5 Stars

The French Room inside the Hotel Adolphus, 1303 Commerce St. Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner,  6–9:30 p.m. 214-742-8200. HotelAdolphus.com.

There’s fine dining, there’s special event dining, and then there’s The French Room. Chef de cuisine Marcos Segovia has maintained the high standards of this jewel box restaurant, with food as elaborate and impressive as the decor. Despite a mix-up on the bill that was quickly resolved, service is almost impeccable

Food: 5 stars
Atmosphere:  4 stars
Service:  4 stars
Price:  Expensive

……………………………………

Mark Twain defined a literary classic as a book everyone praised and nobody read. The same might be said of any creative undertaking with a long-standing reputation, even a restaurant. Sure, it was once great, but has it maintained those qualities, or do people’s expectations simply mask its weaknesses?

So after years of The French Room at the Hotel Adolphus getting credit as Dallas’ best dining establishment, a reassessment was in order.

Wow. Or rather, still wow.

Some things just resist diminishment. Certainly the room itself — an ornate rococo jewel box of space that almost makes Versailles look like a double-wide in Abilene — has retained its bones.  Soothing seafoam blues and angelic pinks on the walls and ceiling, soft ecru linens and comfy medallion back chairs inject a luxe Gallic panache into the boots-and-denim familiarity of most Texas-based restaurants. (It’s one of the few places in town where men are still required to wear a jacket.)

The mechanics of service are also intact. Waiters invisibly replace silverware for each course and refill water glasses with stealthy precision. The sommelier introduces the wines with authority but not pomposity. Plates are deftly serves from the left and removed from the right. (A mix-up on the bill on our visit was unfortunate but quickly resolved.)

But while bad service or a shabby atmosphere can ruin a good meal, it’s the food that should be the star, and here, it still is.

The menu at The French Room permits one of two prix fixe choices: An elaborate feast chosen by chef de cuisine Marcos Segovia ($110), or a three-course dinner (usually $80, but $50 Tuesdays through Thursdays) that allows some a la carte selecting by the diner. We went with the three-course, without disappointment.

The meal, of course, begins with a bread basket (the fennel wafer and oat bread were fantastic) and a complimentary amuse bouche of lobster salad with white grape and chanterelles, where crisp, earthy texture of the seafood combined seamlessly with the rich, soft fruit. But that’s just the beginning.

VERSAILLES REDUX | Compared to the usual denim-and-leather style at most Dallas restaurants, The French Room still requires men to wear a coat to dinner. Nice.

The appetizer of Hudson Valley foie gras was a perfect starter for the season. With its autumnal influences of cranberry reduction (so thick and tart, it almost tasted of raspberries), it’s a soothing cold-weather bite. The spongy fluff of banana bread, topped by a wedge of pecan crust, melted effortlessly on the tongue — helped along, no doubt, by the glass of Sauternes-like Torrentes wine that came with it. The floral, apricot-like notes with a bit of pear educed the fatty richness from the liver and bread.

The crab cakes took on an herbaceous quality, with lobster sauce imbuing the crab with a distinct muscularity, while the combination of goat cheese and polenta, pancetta and figs on slightly warm spinach elevated the salad to haute cuisine. (An apple cider sorbet, served in a charming bloom of a cup, makes for an excellent palate cleaner.)

The veal tenderloin, turned a vibrant red from the intense Chambord sauce as well as the medium rare prep, can only be described as creamy, with the beef nearly blue alongside an equally rich risotto with Spanish chorizo spicy. The boldness of the chorizo is not exactly French in character, but then who needs to be a purist? The black angus beef entrée melted in the mouth.

A rare misstep was with the halibut. It came as a beautiful piece of fish: big, white as a mountain with its top of toasted cocoanut. The cooking was also spot-on, though the sauce was too salty, interrupting the flavor of the fish.

Any place calling itself The French Room better know something about pastry, and naturally it does, under the eye of Joe Garza. If there was anything wrong with the Grand Marnier soufflé, it was just the strength of the orange sauce, which swirled around inside the lightest custard balloon imaginable. Soufflés can be tricky, but this one nearly floated out the dish.  Just as delicious was the banana bread pudding: Chunky but smooth, served warm with pralines and bourbon glacé.

There’s fine dining and there’s event dining, but The French Room is something else entirely: A restaurant whose food brilliantly mirrors the extravagance of its setting, where style is confluent in all disciplines. A classic? Yes. But one people definitely want to come back to again and again.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens