Pet of the Week: Dean

Dean is a stunning black-and-white tuxedo kitty with olive-green eyes. He’s 2 years old but seldom acts his age. Dean loves people and is great with children and other cats, too. Sometimes he’s playful, sometimes he’s laidback, and he’s always loving. June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, and the purrfect time to make Dean a part of the family.

Dean and many other dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are available for adoption from Dallas Animal Services, 1818 N. Westmoreland at I-30, just minutes west of Downtown Dallas. The shelter is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Sundays noon-5 p.m. The cost to adopt is $85 for dogs and $55 for cats and includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchip and more. All dogs are negative for heartworms, and cats have been tested for FeLV and FIV. For more information, visit DallasAnimalServices.org or call 214-671-0249.

—  John Wright

Snap shots: ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ turns the camera on fashion’s most influential paparazzo

LENS ME A SHOE | The Times photographer documents foot fashion in ‘Bill Cunningham New York.’

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

Maybe Project Runway’s to blame, maybe The Devil Wears Prada, but for the past few years there has been a surplus of documentaries about the fashion industry, with profiles of designers like Valentino (Valentino: The Last Emperor), Yves Saint-Laurent (several in fact), even young designers (Seamless) and Vogue magazine’s editor (The September Issue). (By contrast, I can only recall one fashion doc from the 1990s: Unzipped, about a young designer named Isaac Mizrahi.) Is there really that much to say about dressmaking?

Maybe not, but while Bill Cunningham New York fits broadly within the category of fashion documentaries, its subject is unusual because he eschews the trappings of haute couture even as he’s inextricably a part of it — a huge part, really.

If you don’t read the New York Times, you might not recognize Cunningham’s name, and even if you do read it, it may not have registered with you. For about, well, maybe 1,000 years, Cunningham has chronicled New York society with his candid photos of the glitterati on the Evening Hours page. At the same time, however, he has documented real fashion — how New Yorkers dress in their daily lives — with his page On the Street, where he teases out trends (from hats to men in skirts to hip-hoppers allowing their jeans to dangle around their knees). Anna Wintour may tell us what we should wear; Cunningham shows us what we do.

“We all get dressed for Bill,” Wintour observes.

What makes Cunningham such an interesting character is how impervious he seems to the responsibility he effortlessly wields. He loves fashion, yes, but he’s not a slave to it himself. He scurries around Manhattan (even in his 80s) on his bicycle (he’s had dozens; they are frequently stolen), sometimes in a nondescript tux but mostly in jeans, a ratty blue smock and duck shoes, looking more like a homeless shoeshiner than the arbiter of great fashion. He flits through the city like a pixie with his 35mm camera (film-loaded, not digital), a vacant, toothy smile peaking out behind the lens, snapping the denizens of Babylon whether they want it or not.

One of the funniest moments is when strangers shoo him away as some lunatic paparazzo, unaware how all the well-heeled doyens on the Upper East would trade a nut to have Cunningham photograph them for inclusion in the Times. Patrick McDonald, the weirdly superficial modern dandy (he competed as a wannabe designer on the flop reality series Launch My Line a few seasons back), seems to exist with the hope that Cunningham will shoot him. And shoot him he does.

Many artists are idiosyncratic, even eccentric, but Cunningham is supremely odd by any standards. He lives in a tiny studio near Carnegie Hall filled with filing cabinets cluttered with decades of film negatives on the same floor as a crazy old woman, a kind of urban variation on Grey Gardens. He knows tons of people but most of them seem to know very little about him. By the time near the end when the filmmaker, director Richard Press, finally comes out and ask him outright whether he’s gay, Cunningham arches in that prickly New England way, never really answering outright, though he says he’s never — never — had a romantic relationship. Things like that were simply not discussed by men of his generation.

In some ways, we never really know any more about Cunningham at the end than any of his friends do, and perhaps even him. Cunningham comes across as defiantly non-self-reflective. He lets his work do all the talking for him. And that work has a lot to say on its own.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Useless headline of the day: Do teachers sometimes help target gay students?

Like there is a “no” option for this question?! (Montgomery Advertiser):

The 13-year-old Montgomery stu?dent expected to be bullied for being gay, but didn’t expect his teacher to encourage it.

He said that when a teacher ridi?culed him in class, telling him to “quit acting like a girl and start act?ing like a boy,” he was too stunned to react. When the local junior high school student talked to his mother about it, she hired an attorney who wrote a letter of complaint to the Montgomery school district.

The district’s staff attorney re?sponded in a letter that the teacher’s comment had been misrepresented and taking out of context and was not meant to be offensive.

“We wanted a written apology to my son and myself and we never got it,” said La’Daytra Walker, mother of the boy. “We received the state?ment from the staff attorney at the school, but they didn’t apologize.

And this is why headlines like the above are ridiculous. There are studies bearing out the fact that those in the best position to help bullied teens in many cases only jump in on the bullying.

After the publicity that fol?lowed several well-publi?cized cases of gays who com?mitted suicide after being bullied, research has been re?leased showing that authori?ty figures often either take part in the bullying or allow it:


* A Yale University study published this week found that gay teens are more like?ly than their straight peers to be punished for the same bad behavior. The study reports that gay and lesbian teens suffer at the hands of teach?ers, police and the courts.

* In Minnesota, an Anoka-Hennepin School District teacher who was accused of harassing a student he thought was gay is suing the state because the Depart?ment of Human Rights dis?closed his name in a report about the investigation. Walter Filson filed suit against the state of Minneso?ta in late December. Filson was one of two teachers ac?cused of harassing Alex Mer?ritt, who is not gay. Merritt got a ,000 settlement from the school district in 2009.

* A teenage activist noti?fied officials at every school in Arizona that they need to put a stop to the bullying of gay and lesbian students or face a lawsuit, according to the Arizona Republic. Caleb Laieski, 15, e-mailed the let?ter to more than 5,000 school administrators, city-council members and state lawmak?ers demanding improved measures to fight discrimi?nation.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin