Once and for all, the city of Dallas is not in a state of panic and has no reason to be

Rawlings_Watson

Mayor Mike Rawlings, left, and County Judge Clay Jenkins

To hear Good Morning America tell it, “The city of Dallas is in a state of panic.” That piece of stupidity was how the show started one morning at the beginning of the media-driven Ebola panic and is the reason I no longer watch the show.

Here’s some of the things that went on in the city in a state of panic.

The State Fair of Texas —  which this weekend ended its run, roughly corresponding to the 21-day quarantine period for the family and neighbors of Thomas Duncan — set a record. Coupon sales were estimated at $41 million, up from last year’s $37.

Sounds like the city’s in a state of panic to me.

During the last three weeks, Southwest Airlines increased the number of cities it flies to from Love Field by 15 and increased daily flights to the city by 30. At the same time, Virgin America began flying from both coasts to Love Field.

That’s what happens during a panic — businesses expand and travel to the city increases.

Another good thing that happened over the past three weeks was just as an Ebola case was reported in Dallas, Gov. Rick Perry left the country. He spent the “Ebola crisis” in Europe, but that’s good news. Instead of having to deal with stupidity coming from the governor’s mansion, Mayor Mike Rawlings, County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas County HHS Director Zach Thompson only had to deal with stupidity and misquotes coming from national and local broadcast media.

The Dallas Morning News has done a good job covering Ebola. They’ve devoted quite a bit of space to getting out actual facts. Jacquielynn Floyd’s column on Ebolaphobia is brilliant.

But here’s something they did that seemed, well, peculiar: “Dr. Seema Yasmin answers Ebola questions on Twitter.”

If people have questions about Ebola — how you can catch it, how to prevent it, what precautions to take, why we should or shouldn’t panic while taking this dangerous and deadly virus seriously — how can anyone answer in 140 characters? If pages of articles don’t answer the questions, a tweet certainly won’t.

But I guess her column served a purpose. If people won’t read an article, maybe at least they’ll read a tweet — like this one: Hey, @MarkDavis, a travel ban won’t work. Happy to explain to you in person why it won’t work & how bad it would be for public health.

I guess her tweets do serve a good purpose — she’s using them to call out stupid. (Mark Davis is a local right-wing shock jock).

Here’s Rawlings’ message telling the rest of the world Dallas in not in a state of panic.

—  David Taffet

Of Madonna and Big Tex

Oct. 19, 2012, may we be considered Dallas’ Black Friday — or at least, Blackened Friday.

The day began with the surprising news that Big Tex, the animatronic corporate logo for the State Fair of Texas (the Fair’s website is even BigTex.org), caught fire and burned up faster than a joint in Snoop Dogg’s trailer. Pictures of the flamer (I knew it!) became the latest meme to dominate Facebook; news sourced from as far away as the BBC reported on it.

Then, less than 12 hours later, came more devastating news: Madonna was canceling the first of her two concerts at American Airlines Center. I was at an event with tons of gay folks, and the news spread faster … well, faster than flames over Big Tex.

How much can one community be expected to endure?!?!

The thing is, neither of these event is, really, such a big deal. Oohhhh, Madonna has laryngitis; it happens. She still performed last night (and, by all accounts, was fully recovered) and so many of her fans still got what they wanted. And Big Tex? Well, the fair was almost over anyway, and while the majority of the skeleton may have been around for 60 years, it was, in the end, a badly dressed scaffolding with a loudspeaker in his chest. It was not, in the end, a tragedy of any sort.

So why were people acting as if both of them were?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gays of the Midway: A 9-foot-tall flamingo — and other stiltwalkers

Shawn Brown is the 9-foot flamingo

During the day, Shawn Brown is a giant living tree in the Greenhouse on the Midway at the State Fair of Texas. At night, he becomes a 9-foot pink flamingo in the State Fair parade.

Brown is one of four gay stilt walkers in the nightly Starlight parade at the fair. He’s the flamingo. His friend Joe is an octopus. Each of the four stilt walkers has his own character.

Brown said he loves his job. Kids run up to him, but adults love it, too.

“It’s hard to see a 9-foot-tall pink flamingo and not smile,” he said.

This is his second year at the fair. Three years ago, gay-owned Eclipse Entertainment in Arlington held a stilt camp he attended. He was taught by his friend Patrick Thompson, who also appears nightly in the fair parade.

Joe (the octopus) and his partner, Patric, join Brown and Thompson on stilts. But Brown is the only one of the four that works at the fair all day as well.

During the day, Brown is the tree

During the day, Brown can be found in the Greenhouse on the Midway every hour on the half hour from 11:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. As the giant living tree, he walks around the greenhouse for 20 minutes entertaining and surprising fairgoers.

Outside of his 24-day engagement at the fair, Brown works parties and events for Eclipse. But he uses his skill at another job as well. He mounts recessed speakers in ceilings in homes and small offices. Rather than using a ladder, he walks around the room on stilts.

“It’s exhausting, but I love it,” he said.

And what about all that fried fair food? Does he blow up like a balloon every October?

“I bring my own lunch,” he said. “A sandwich. Vegetables.”

More pictures are on his Facebook page. And he asked to make sure we mentioned that he’s single and 9 feet tall.

Got an LGBT-related State Fair story? Email it to Editor@DallasVoice.com to be featured on Instant Tea during this year’s fair.

—  David Taffet

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

When the State Fair is in session, it’s hard not to recommend it every week, but if you’re looking for some good reasons here are two: The Addams Family and Chinese Lantern Festival. The two couldn’t be more different: Addams is a musical version of the cmapy TV sitcom, and while the plot is reed thin (and a rehash of La Cage), the performances, especially by Douglas Sills as Gomez, make it a hoot-and-a-half. .  (If you’re looking for more theater, Uptown Players’ season-ender Hello Again opens on Friday, a very adult musical about bed-hopping across a century.)

Farther into the park is the Chinese Lantern display, a gorgeous festival of color and beauty. If you can, go at night — it’s that much more special.

Sunday Funday is code for “brunch” in Dallas’ gay community, and if you wanna try something different, head over — and up — to Five Sixty at Reunion Tower. On Sunday, it inaugurates its new dim sum brunch with some familiar selections but plenty of new ones … including a Texan Mary that packs a kick with hickory-smoked rim-salt and a jalapeno olive. Yee-haw!

Before Sunday, though, check out the events hosted for Dallas’ Black Pride celebration. We plan to see Nehemiah Akbar perform at The Brick Friday and Saturday night. His music was made for dancin’ and groovin’.

After the rain-out last weekend at the Lone Star Ride (and rainy-but-still fun Pride Parade a few weeks ago), the prospects for this Sunday’s weather is positive, so it might be a good time to get out for LifeWalk. And you can enjoy the outdoors again on Thursday when lesbian twins Tegan & Sara perform at Annette Strauss Square.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Concert Notice: Out musician Ruthie Foster announced for 2012 State Fair concert series

I was excited to see that this year’s list of State Fair of Texas concerts on the main stage includes just a little bit of gay flair to it. In today’s announcement, they mention that out folk and blues musician Ruthie Foster will be among the line up. The Gause, Tex.-born musician returns home in support of her latest album Let It Burn released this past January.

Foster blends her folk, blues and gospel styles with fluid grace. She is set to perform after the Rebirth Brass Band on Oct. 6.  I do hope she’ll perform this gorgeous cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Watch the video of it after the jump.

Other shows for this year’s line up include Rebirth Brass Band, The Commodores and  Kevin Fowler.

“Although the entire lineup hasn’t been finalized, State Fair officials are providing a sneak peek at this year’s entertainment calendar,” the release mentioned.

The State Fair runs Sept. 28–Oct. 21.

—  Rich Lopez

State Fair of Texas closes today

So long, Big Tex

Today is your last day to get in that Fletcher’s corny dog, ride the Texas Star or see the pig races. The time has come and today the State Fair closes taking a little piece of heart with it. Of course, it’s leaving the calories behind, but they were oh-so worth it.

DEETS: Fair Park, 1121 First Ave. $13.95. BigTex.com.

—  Rich Lopez

‘West Side Story’ today at Music Hall

A boy like that (or a few boys, rather)

The new production of West Side Story, at the State Fair courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, was re-imagined by the show’s original writer, Arthur Laurents, with the addition of Spanish dialogue and lyrics (from Lin-Manuel Miranda) for the Puerto Rican street gang the Sharks, as well as a timely design: Although a product of the ‘50s — especially evident in Leonard Bernstein’s still-relevant jazz score and dialogue resplendent with daddios talk of hoodlums — this version could just as easily take place today. The Jets, usually so easy to mock for their balletic street fighting, are by-and-large beefier here, more threatening. They may plie like Nureyev, but you sense they’d beat the living crap out of you for making fun of ‘em.

After all that excitement, head into the State Fair for a corny dog. Read the entire review here.

DEETS: Fair Park Music Hall, 901 First St. Through Oct. 23. 8 p.m. $20–$85. DallasSummerMusicals.com.

—  Rich Lopez

UPDATE #2: Apology letter for State Fair incident

 

—  David Taffet

Gay Day at State Fair disputed

On Thursday we reported that Saturday, Oct. 8, appeared to be this year’s unofficial “Gay Day” at the Texas State Fair, based on a Facebook page which now has more than 200 confirmed attendees.

Not so, says one Jason Bradberry, who wrote the following on Dallas Voice’s fan page in response to our post: “Gay Day at the State Fair of Texas is ALWAYS has been and ALWAYS will be the Sunday before National Coming Out. State Fair PR offices can confirm this. Please put out the correct information, not what some Facebook event was created.”

According to Bradberry’s calendar, “Gay Day” is Sunday, Oct. 9, since National Coming Out Day is next Tuesday, Oct. 11.

I say we just call it a whole gay weekend and dedicate it to this guy.

—  John Wright

Anti-gay tirade ruins family’s State Fair outing

STATE UNFAIR | Dondi Morse, left, and Latisha Pennington say they attended the State Fair of Texas with their seven-year-old daughter and were verbally attacked by one vendor.

Haltom City lesbians say vendor’s verbal gay-bashing left their 7-year-old daughter in tears

UPDATE: Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America has sent an apology to the couple and the man in the booth who verbally attacked the couple has been removed from the fair.

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When Latisha Pennington and Dondi Morse of Haltom City took their 7-year-old daughter to the Texas State Fair last weekend, they just wanted to have a fun day seeing the animals and trying out the fair’s famed array of fried treats.

But the women said this week their plans were ruined when one vendor verbally gay-bashed them in front of their daughter, leaving the little girl in tears and forcing the family to cut their outing short.

Although Pennington acknowledges that it isn’t hard to look at her and know she is a lesbian, that same isn’t true for her partner. And the two of them weren’t doing anything that day to attract attention; they weren’t holding hands and they certainly weren’t kissing or engaging in any kind of public displays of affection.

“We were just there to have fun with our daughter,” Pennington said, adding that PDAs “just aren’t our style.”

But that wasn’t enough to ward off some unwanted attention from the men at the booth for the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America.

Pennington said she and Morse and their daughter had just left one of the animal buildings when she heard a man call out to them. He said, she recalled,

“Hey, come here, come here. I got something for you. Got a couple of questions.”

The women noticed that the man was one of several at the booth that were giving away T-shirts and visors so they decided to go over and see what was being offered.

Each man in the booth was holding a sign that said, “What would you take for $1 million?” And the man who called them over did indeed have a question for them: “Would you take $1 million for your right eye?”

Pennington said she closed one eye, and the man asked her what she was doing. She told him she was just checking to see how well she could see out of one eye before she answered.

She said the man laughed at her answer. But his next question was no laughing matter: “Would you take $1 million for your soul?”

That’s when Morse jumped into the conversation, telling the man that if he was trying to engage them in a religious debate, they weren’t interested in going further.

Pennington said the man assured them he wasn’t interested in a religious debate either. But his next statement proved otherwise. That’s when the encounter began to turn ugly.

Pennington said he asked them, “What do you think will happen to your soul when you die?” Then he answered his own question with, “I know what’s going to happen to your soul. You’re going to hell for being a homosexual.”

The man then began “slinging biblical quotes at us” that supposedly condemn homosexuality. And as his harangue continued, their daughter began to cry, prompting the mothers to get her away from the booth and the man there as quickly as possible.

“We were at the booth no more than two minutes,” Pennington said, adding that the first thing to go through her mind was, “Oh, wow! Nothing like this has ever happened to us before.”

Besides just ruining their family outing with his remarks, Pennington said she questions what sort of family values the man who accosted them thought he was teaching her.

They tried to calm their daughter, Pennington said, but she continued to cry, asking Morse, “Mommy, why are you going to hell?”

The couple soon decided that they needed to leave the fair as quickly as possible to get their daughter to a safer environment where she could begin to calm down.

Pennington said they contacted state fair officials immediately to complain. On Wednesday, she said, they had heard back from State Fair Director Kelly Pound, who offered the family free tickets to return another day.

But Pennington said that while she appreciates the offer, she and Morse feel their daughter was too traumatized by the encounter to risk a return visit to the fair this year.

Pennington also said she doesn’t think just offering the family free tickets was an adequate response, and that she worries that other families could be attacked and other children traumatized by the man’s anti-gay tirades, even if they aren’t LGBT families.

Pennington suggested that fair officials should remove the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America and their booth from the fair. Sue Gooding, a spokeswoman for fair officials, said Thursday, Oct. 6, that while the group wouldn’t be asked to leave the fair, such behavior violates fair policy and will not be tolerated.

“That’s not the way we expect our vendors to act,” Gooding said, adding that vendors are expected to stay in their booths and should not call people over.

She said that Pound had gone to the booth already to have a discussion with the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship after the incident was reported, letting them know that “We’re not going to put up with this.”

Gooding said that while “the conversation went well,” Pound may decide to have a second conversation with the group before this weekend, when some 200 people have indicated on the “Gay Day at the State Fair” Facebook group page that they will be attending the fair on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Fairgoers who would like to visit the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association of America will find its booth outside the Pan Am Arena located behind the Cotton Bowl, on Nimitz Avenue.

………………………

The FGBMF

For more information on the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America,
go online to fgbmfamerica.com/wordpress. According to the website, the group’s
mission is:

“• To reach men everywhere for Jesus Christ, taking particular note that in many instances men can reach others of their same social, cultural or business interests more readily than anyone else.

“• To call men to God: to help men become born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, operate in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and take the Good News to the nations.

“• To mentor young men who have never had positive male role models by being a spiritual father to them.

“• To provide a basis of fellowship among all men everywhere: by creating a fellowship not directly associated with any specific church, but cooperating with all denominations and inspiring our members to be active in their respective churches.

“• To bring about a greater measure of unity and harmony in the Body of Christ; where members are united in a common effort to spread the Good News and to be in full fellowship and submission to the true Head of the church . . . the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  John Wright