QUICK BITE: GOOD 2 GO TACOS

2011 was the year we leapt the threshold between “taco” and “burrito” and the distinction began to seem meaningless.

In Mexico, tacos are petite things meant for quick snacks: A shaved bit of protein, a dollop of salsa, some melted cheese, a garnish of cilantro, maybe garlic. Whatever. The are designed to be small bites — one is rarely enough for a meal. You want a big meal? That’s a burrito.

But Texas proudly claims it does everything bigger, and that counts for tacos, too. And few are as big as the tacos at Good 2 Go.

At about four bucks each, they’re pricier than Jack in the Box — for good reason. I’ve never had more than one at a sitting, though I’ve certainly craved them.

The menu (it’s open for breakfast and lunch only, five days a week) is limited but endlessly inventive and devilishly clever, thanks to the camp sensibilities of partner-owners Colleen O’Hara and Jeana Johnson.

Feel like chicken spiced with jerk seasonings? It’s called the “Navin R. Johnson” — after Steve Martin’s name in The Jerk. Unlike Martin, I doubt this taco was born a poor black child, though it does have the taste profile of Jamaica, with coconut rice and mango conjuring a day in the islands — a terrific fantasy as the winter weather sets in.

The equally groan-inducing “swine bleu” (pictured) is actually exactly what its name implies: braised pork and blue cheese slaw. And boy is there pork:  The flour tortilla is as bulbous as a cast member of 16 and Pregnant: The ladle of slaw looks like it might smother the pork, but no: The flavors meld better than a barbershop quarter, the tang of blue cheese pitch-perfect.

Service is friendly and knowing. A taco I ordered to eat-in came out faster than a male drum major at band camp; a few minutes later, when I walked back in to grab some utensils to tame the cabbage and pork overflowing the large tortilla, the busboy barely glanced up before grabbing a fork and walking it toward me. They’ve seen this kind of behavior before. It’s weird feeling like you’ve been bested by a taco. But so worth it.

— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Tenant says request for repairs led to threat of eviction from Chevelle Apartments in Oak Lawn

REPAIRS IN THE WORKS? | Jack Gian, owner of the Chevelle Apartments in Oak Lawn, said this week that repairs on the complex’s roof should begin Friday, Feb. 11. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Owner of Chevelle Apartments says repairs have been delayed by winter weather, should begin on Friday

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Michael Howard claims that he has been threatened with eviction by managers at the Chevelle Apartments on Throckmorton because he asked management to repair a leaky roof in his apartment.

Jack Gian owns the property.

Howard said this week that he first let the management office know that the roof was leaking into his apartment on Nov. 3. On Feb. 6, he left a message on the 24-hour maintenance line.

Howard said he had not been in touch with the management about the problem since Thanksgiving, and he said he believes that removing some of the melting snow from the roof could have prevented at least part of the current problem.

Howard filed a complaint about the problem with the Fair Housing Office in December, and on Dec. 17, city code compliance officer Nilandra Roy put in place an order preventing Chevelle management from evicting Howard, refusing to renew his lease or terminating his lease.

Howard said that he would like to move but cannot do that by the time his current lease ends on March 1. Because he is currently battling lymphoma and complications from AIDS, he said he isn’t physically able of looking for an apartment or packing and loading a truck to move.

This week he sent his landlord a certified letter “requesting reasonable accommodations under the Disability Act of the Fair Housing Code.”

“I have been on disability since 2005 for AIDS/HIV and Lymphoma Cancer, for which documentation can be provided at a later date, if needed,” Howard wrote. “I do not have the necessary resources at this time to find a new place of residence. I am expecting to have the means to move at the end of my next renewed lease. But until that time, I am once again requesting reasonable accommodations under the Disability Act of the Fair Housing Code.” But he acknowledged that the comment he left on the 24-hour maintenance line — “I would then once again be contacting the Dallas City Code Officer OR take legal action if necessary in order for me to get my roof/ceiling repaired” — might have been taken as a threat.

He said it was after that message that the management threatened to evict him.

“Someone from G&G Properties called me at 10:01 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 7, and left a very rude, mean voicemail message,” Howard said. The message warned him to “stop calling and harassing the management here at Chevelle about my repairs, and that if it did not cease then they were warning me that they would proceed with issuing me an eviction notice.”

He said he felt as if he was the one being threatened and harassed.

Howard is not the only one who has complained about the roof leaks. At least two others have requested repairs.

Nor is this the first complaint against the property owner. In June 2010, tenants complained about the air conditioning being out for several days. That service was restored after WFAA Channel 8 television station ran a story.

Gian said repairs will begin Friday, Feb. 11.

“The roofing was ordered a week ago Friday,” Gian said, adding that weather had delayed repairs. He said has to get as much ice off the roof as possible before the crew can begin.

Repairs should continue through Tuesday, Gian said, if they are able to begin work this week. He said about 5,000 square feet of roofing will be replaced.

Chalisa Warren at the Dallas Fair Housing Office said that complaints based on any of the protected categories in the city ordinance go through their office. Those categories include disability and sexual orientation.

She said information is available on Fair Housing Office website. Complaints can be filed online or by phone, or a complaint form can be mailed or delivered in person to the office in City Hall.

The website is DallasFairHousing.com.

Complaints about repairs to multi-tenant properties go through the city Code Compliance office. To file a complaint, call 311. A service number will be issued and an inspector will be sent to the property.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Graying gays face a growing problem

The sad story of one longtime activist left homeless and alone highlights the many issues facing our aging LGBT population

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

Imagine being old, sick, confused and alone without a roof over your head when winter weather arrives. That’s exactly what happened late last year to a well-known gay political activist who had lived in Oak Lawn for many years.

It’s unclear how much he actually understood about his circumstances because he was suffering from either the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of dementia — a condition that left him unable to survive alone or to seek help.

After he came to the attention of a Dallas Police Department social worker, who tried to locate help for him, the activist eventually was admitted to a residential facility where he is now receiving the care he needs.

A plea for information about the identity of his family members, published last year by the Dallas Voice at the request of the social worker, went unanswered. The activist had mentioned in the past he was the father of a grown son, but he has never been located, according to the social worker.

The only response to the newspaper’s blog post was from an individual who had found photographs and others of the activist’s belongings on a curb and wanted to return them to him. Someone apparently had dumped the items there after the activist was evicted from his apartment sometime last year.

The activist had been on the streets for months when law enforcement officers picked him up because he allegedly had tried to break into a car.

The activist may have been confused and only seeking shelter in the car, the social worker said.

He was arrested and taken to jail, where a nurse who realized he was suffering from dementia sought help from the Police Department’s crisis intervention department.

It’s shocking that someone who had run for political office on the Democratic Party ticket, worked with police and other local officials to benefit the community and participated in so many other LGBT endeavors could wind up helpless and on the streets.

Neighbors of the activist contacted the social worker when the Dallas Voice blog post was published and informed her about his eviction. She suspects that he may have gotten evicted because his dementia left him too disorganized to pay rent and take care of his personal business.

The activist’s story reveals that there doesn’t appear to be many resources dedicated specifically to LGBT seniors in Dallas. That’s a cause for great concern because gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are more likely to become estranged from their families than are their straight counterparts.

In years past a few concerned people tried to raise interest in a local LGBT retirement community of townhouses, apartments and a full-care facility that would serve people of all financial situations. But they failed to make any headway after repeated tries.

Resource Center Dallas sponsors a program for LGBT seniors, but its focus is learning, entertainment and social activities, according to the organization’s website.

If there are any local organizations sponsoring outreach to LGBT seniors who need help surviving, they failed to make contact with the homeless activist before police officers put him in jail.

Some of his neighbors — one of whom had let him stay in her apartment several nights — apparently were concerned about his welfare but had no idea where to turn to find him help.

In comparison, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Senior Services program employs four workers to assist gay people 50 and older with social, educational and support issues. About 70 events are held monthly at the center, which is a much larger and older operation than the one in Dallas.

The case management services and referrals sponsored by the Los Angeles group’s program addresses affordable housing, benefits, home health assistance, bereavement, isolation, mental health and legal issues, according to the organization’s website.

The Los Angeles center’s operation is a good model for Dallas’ center to consider implementing — especially in the area of senior services — as its leaders look to the future. The number of aging LGBT people is only going to grow in the coming years as baby boomers continue to mature. It only makes sense to support the idea of providing services to our community’s older population because everyone who lives long enough is going to grow old eventually.

And anyone who hasn’t started planning for their future ought to take a lesson from what happened to the activist and start thinking along those lines.

David Webb is a former staff writer for the Dallas Voice. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Here we go again: N. Texas under Winter Storm Watch for late Tuesday, early Wednesday


The above image was posted late Monday on the website for the Dallas-Fort Worth office of the National Weather Service. North Texas is now under a Winter Storm Watch for late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Here’s the full advisory:

A WINTER STORM WATCH FOR FREEZING RAIN…SLEET…AND SNOW REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM LATE TUESDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

PRECIPITATION WILL BEGIN AS A RAIN…SLEET AND SNOW MIX IN NORTHWEST PARTS OF NORTH TEXAS EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING AS PRECIPITATION OVERSPREADS THE AREA. AS TEMPERATURES FALL TO BELOW FREEZING WEDNESDAY MORNING…THE PRECIPITATION WILL TRANSITION TO A FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET MIXTURE BEFORE CHANGING TO ALL SNOW BY EARLY AFTERNOON.

TOTAL SLEET AND SNOW ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM 2 TO 4 INCHES ACROSS THE AREA…WITH THE HIGHEST TOTALS EXPECTED NEAR THE RED RIVER. IN ADDITION…UP TO ONE TENTH INCH OF FREEZING RAIN COULD COAT ROADS AND EXPOSED OBJECTS BEFORE THE PRECIPITATION TRANSITIONS TO SLEET AND SNOW BY MIDDAY.

ALL WINTRY PRECIPITATION IS EXPECTED TO BE HEAVIEST IN THE MORNING HOURS AND TAPER OFF DURING THE AFTERNOON. FREEZING DRIZZLE OR SNOW FLURRIES MAY PERSIST INTO THE EVENING HOURS ON WEDNESDAY.

A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW…SLEET…OR ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL ACROSS NORTH TEXAS TUESDAY NIGHT OR WEDNESDAY… CARRY A WINTER WEATHER SURVIVAL KIT WITH YOU IN CASE YOU BECOME STRANDED.

—  John Wright

Cedar Springs street party to proceed as scheduled

Country singer Chaz Marie, left, and Compete Magazine Athlete of the Year Michael Holtz

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Weather and other factors have affected a number of Super Bowl-related events originally set for this week. But despite the area’s winter weather woes, crowds are still expected to turn out for the Cedar Springs Merchants Association’s Super Street Party Saturday night on Cedar Springs.

Forecasts predict that the week’s record-setting low temperatures should give way to a more moderate seasonal chill by then, and organizers predict that the excitement of the event will be enough to keep party-goers warm — not to mention the chance for some prime celebrity-spotting.

The merchants association has received calls from a number of celebrities and athletes — gay and straight — who will be in town for the big event, all asking for details on the Super Street Party. Why? Because the straight celebs assume that in a straight-laced town like Dallas, it’s the gays who know how to party.

Those requests for information have come from celebrities said to be staying at The Melrose and other hotels in the Oak Lawn area.

Cedar Springs Road will close at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and the party begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free. In case it gets cold, the bars will all be open with most offering specials.

Buli promises hot chocolate and will stay open until at least 1 a.m. Hunky’s and Subway will remain open until 3 a.m., with Subway offering its Fabulous Foot-long as a Super Bowl special. Zini’s plans to operate until at least 4 a.m. and Café Brazil is open 24 hours.

The Bud Light Main Stage will be set up in the middle of Cedar Springs, with Chaz Marie as the featured entertainer. Guest DJs will provide music on the street throughout the evening.

Compete Magazine’s Gay Athlete of the Year Michael Holtz will be the MC.

Woody’s Sports and Video Bar will hold a meet-and-greet with Holtz on Friday, Feb. 4 at 9 p.m. and he will attend a brunch at Dish on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Beer booths will be set up on the street, staffed by some of the local gay sports groups raising money for their teams.

Other Super Bowl week events haven’t fared as well.

A gay-themed concert originally planned for Thursday night was cancelled, even before bad weather hit, because of poor ticket sales. The tent in the Cotton Bowl that was to house that and other concert events collapsed under the weight of the ice and snow, and the concerts were moved to the Fair Park Coliseum.

Dallas had hoped to show off many of its venues to visitors through the week but the ice that arrived early on Tuesday morning delayed the arrival of many visitors when both airports closed. The storm also caused the closing of the downtown museums for two days, as well as a number of other facilities around the area.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

DART fails us when we need it most

DART — running in good weather

Even people who don’t usually ride DART should be able to use it as a fallback during inclement weather. During the current winter weather, DART has been a complete failure.

On Tuesday, the train lines did not begin running until 2:30 p.m. DART was completely unprepared as switching signals froze and ice formed on overhead cables.

Subways in Chicago and New York run with power supplied by a third rail. Ice is not a problem. But in cold-weather cities like Denver, light rail runs despite snow and sleet and cold. The trolleys in Boston run with an overhead power supply despite ice and wind.

In those cities, the transportation systems run the trains through the night to keep the power lines defrosted — and keep the trains running during normal operating hours.

DART failed to keep their riders informed. This morning at Hampton Station, a number of riders arrived by 7:30 a.m. They checked DART’s web page and Facebook page on their mobile devices. DART said trains were running at 20-minute intervals and a Green Line train was stuck downtown because of a switching problem.

Station monitors had no information for riders. The only help offered was calling DART four times to tell them ticket machines weren’t working and conductors shouldn’t fine riders who claimed they boarded at Hampton Station.

Those same riders who arrived at 7:30 a.m. finally boarded a train at 8:45.

—  David Taffet