Drawing Dallas

Cosmopolitan designer Douglas Allen is always a stranger, yet always at home

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Douglas Allen, 48

Spotted at: Carlisle and Knight, walking his beagle, Belle

Occupation: Designer

Dallas is the landing pad for this world-traveling designer, who splits his time between the Big D, San Francisco, Chicago and London. This grey-topped quadragenarian certainly doesn’t blend in with his heavy black frames set against thick salt-and-pepper hair.

Born in Alabama, at 14 Douglas moved with his family to Saudi Arabia — the first leg of a life-long journey that has led him across the globe and back, and continues today. He speaks Arabic, French, Italian and a bit of Swedish. His trek continues next month, when he leaves for Cartagena, Colombia, where he’s designing a home interior. As soon as it gets hot, he’s off to London.

Definitely a character, for three months in London he only wore pajamas. “I threw a proper English summer jacket over them when I went out. I got some interesting looks.”

Grey hares: Inspired by Bugs Bunny, Douglas’ musical instrument of choice is a ukulele. He began playing on a whim. His favorite tunes include “Aba Daba Honeymoon” (a turn-of-the-century musical composed by Arthur Fields) and Hawaiian medleys.

Social currency: Douglas doesn’t take much of an interest in money, fancy clothes or the trappings of excess. He uses what he calls “social currency,” a value that is unquantifiable. With roots everywhere and friends scattered all over the far-flung corners of the world, Douglas says, “I’m always a stranger, yet always home.”

His philosophy: “There is only one person, one power, one life, and each of us is a finger puppet on a big hand. Don’t freak out over the journey or circumstance of your finger puppet identity because in reality you are the big hand. Accept 100 percent where you are. Don’t resist. Accept and let go. That is the only way forward and out.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Gay Saudi diplomat in Los Angeles fears execution after being fired, ordered home

Man seeks asylum, goes into hiding

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A gay Saudi diplomat seeking political asylum said his position was terminated and he was ordered to return to his home country where he fears he will be killed.

In an e-mail to news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, Saudi consulate official Ali Ahmad Asseri said his passport wasn’t renewed and his position in the Los Angeles office was eliminated after Saudi officials learned that he is gay and he befriended a Jewish woman.

Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia.

“My life is in a great danger here, and if I go back to Saudi Arabia they will kill me openly in broad daylight,” Asseri wrote in the message.

Asseri, who has been in the U.S. for five years, is in hiding, according to supporters.

His lawyer, Ally Bolour, told NBC News — which first reported the story last weekend — that his client applied for asylum because he was a member of a particular social group that would subject him to persecution if he went back to Saudi Arabia.

Asseri was questioned Aug. 30 by a Department of Homeland Security official in Los Angeles, said Bolour, who declined further comment until the case has been decided.

In July, Asseri posted an appeal to King Abdullah on a popular Arabic website in which he railed against the “backwardness” of Saudi officials and “militant Imams who defaced the tolerance of Islam.”

—  John Wright