Stephen King once advised aspiring writers, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings — even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart — kill your darlings.” What did popular culture’s most prolific horror writer mean by that? That good storytelling often requires nixing superfluous parts, no matter how much the author loves them. Each month when we publish the Advocate magazine, photos and anecdotes we adore are often left scattered about the figurative cutting-room floor. Please allow us to indulge our egocentric little hearts as we share the more fascinating photos and tidbits from 2014 that almost lost their lives in the interest of brevity and limited page space.
Les Skroks perform at Bastille on Bishop
By 3 p.m. on July 14, the temperature had reached 107 degrees. “I was worried, but then about 4 o’clock, a big thunderstorm came and cooled the temperature about 10 degrees,” says Bastille on Bishop co-founder Pierrette Lacour. By the time Bastille on Bishop started, at 6 p.m., it was drizzly but pleasant considering it was July in Texas. Lacour, who is from France, had invited Les Skroks, a brass band from Angers in western France, to perform at Bastille Day. It was a last-minute deal. The band was in Texas because Austin and Angers are sister cities. “Austin celebrates Bastille Day, just like we do, although they don’t have as big a celebration,” Lacour says. The city of Austin had invited brass bands from Angers to its Bastille Day celebration, which was July 13, a Sunday. A friend of Lacour’s from Austin phoned to say Les Skroks would be available to play at Bastille on Bishop, always on July 14; this past year, a Monday. “So I said, ‘Of course!’ ” she recalls. All 13 band members needed a place to stay for the night, so Jason Roberts of Go Oak Cliff put out a call on social media to see if anyone could put them up. A Kessler Park neighbor offered a bed to all 13 in one big house. With wine flowing, mussels to taste and games to play, Bastille on Bishop is a great time on its own. But add a street-performing brass band? It was magic. “They created a great French ambiance,” Lacour says. “They played through the streets, and people were following them under their umbrellas. I just thought that was one of the best of the years we’ve had it.”
A retired cop revisits the beat
C.S. Tull was so disappointed to see Austin’s Barbecue gone. He says he wouldn’t have recognized the corner of Hampton and Illinois. Tull worked this intersection as part of his territory when he was an Oak Cliff beat cop in the 1960s. Now in his 80s, Tull lives out in the country, but he happily drove into town for a photo shoot, which was to be part of an Advocate story that wound up going a different way. Austin’s was friendly to cops, and the old-school Dallas’ finest ate there all the time, Tull says. J.D. Tippit, who was slain by Lee Harvey Oswald following the JFK assassination, worked as a security guard at Austin’s, and Tull says he knew the strapping World War II vet. “I worked with Tippit quite often,” Tull says. “I remember he was a lot of fun to work with.”
On the day of the Kennedy assassination, Tull was assigned to a detail at Market Hall, where the President had been scheduled to speak. Tull had reported at 7 that morning, and he was assigned to secure an area near the kitchen. As the staff began preparing filet mignon and baked potatoes for lunch, Tull says, his stomach began to growl. “We were about starved to death,” he remembers. “We tried to figure out how we were going to get one of those steaks.” They heard the news over a walkie-talkie. “We did get word that J.D. had been shot, but we didn’t know there was any connection,” he says. Once the crowd started leaving Market Hall, the cooks offered those fancy lunches to the police officers. No one ate. Tull says they didn’t know whether there was “an all-out attack on the United States.” There was much confusion and sadness. He worked until about 7 p.m. “They’ll be talking about the Kennedy assassination for as long as this ol’ world still stands,” he says.
Mardi Gras parade goes renegade
Climate change is real, y’all. An ice storm the second day of March 2014 in Dallas, Texas, could not even snuff out the inimitable Oak Cliff Mardi Gras parade.
Ice on the roads resulted in official cancellation at the last minute. The 8,000 revelers typical for an Oak Cliff Mardi Gras stayed cozy at home in their wool socks and whatnot. But a dedicated few would not let freezing temperatures and a little North Texas sleet cancel the tradition, nor the party, in reality. Too much had been invested. So they fished out their earmuffs, costumes and beads to skitter down Davis. Among those floating on ice were the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association, winners of multiple past parades. After several years of decades themes — ’70s, ’60s and ’20s, in that order — they moved into classic film last year with a “Casablanca” float.
Ilsa, Rick, the club, the planes … just imagine. The sets, costumes and choreography didn’t get their due that sleety March day, but oh, Winnetka will be back.
Production started in November on this year’s “Wizard of Oz” float. About 25 people will work on the construction, overseen by neighbor Steve Bossay, who procured a garage for the building of the float. “A lot of people will come out to work if you have enough champagne,” says Candace Bossay. Neighbor Chris Barker, an opera singer, does the choreography. It is very serious.
In 2013, the year of the 1920s float, neighbors worked for hours — happy hours, that is — to learn a number that transitioned from ragtime into “Gangnam Style.”
Winnetka Heights, which has a $2,000 budget (much of which is spent on champagne), previously kept its theme top secret until parade day.
“The Wizard of Oz,” which the neighborhood association announced early on, is the equivalent of throwing down a trump card. It’s huge. Winnetka Heights has competitors. Stevens Park, Kings Highway, Oak Cliff Earth Day and the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association are a few of the groups that also produce grand floats. So the champs just can’t put out a gal in a checked dress and groove on down the road. No, this will have the wicked witch, the yellow brick road, the Emerald City, flying monkeys, dance numbers — a veritable spectacular. We would expect nothing less.
Speaking of Paris
Even though we wanted to strangle this one girl who kept drunkenly shouting “Yaaaaaaasss!” during literally every scene of “Paris Is Burning” during the inaugural CineWilde at the Texas Theatre, the night was a total success. Anyone who wanted could walk in a fashion show behind the screen that night. Cody Sanders lives in Richardson, but he drove all the way to Oak Cliff for the event. Advocate photo editor Danny Fulgencio saw Sanders walking to the men’s room with a blonde wig and kimono, so he followed him in and got this shot. “I wasn’t planning to do the drag show, but my brother and I put on a little light makeup, and they provided wigs and dresses,” Sanders says. “I hadn’t even shaved, and I was still slightly bearded, but it was a good time.” Since then, Sanders says he’s come back for several more installations of the monthly event, which celebrates LGBTQ cinema. About 100 people attended that first event, and about 20 of them participated in the after show. Now 1 year old, CineWilde is going strong. This month’s film had not been announced as of press time, but check thetexastheatre.com for more information.
A premature funeral
Rumors of the Trinity toll road’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Celebrants threw a New Orleans parade-style funeral for the Trinity toll road in the Bishop Arts District last year, but it was just wishful thinking. God love ’em. This photo does not portray the actual end of the toll road. Mayor Mike Rawlings announced in November that, using funds from wealthy donors, the city had hired a “dream team” of six out-of-state urban planners to design the toll road and Trinity River park. The six had been expected to present their proposal in a series of community meetings beginning in December. After that, they would rework their plan based on community feedback. The city is expected to find out this month whether the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow a freeway to be built between the levees. After that, the North Texas Tollway Authority will assess whether building the highway would be profitable for them. All of this means that actual construction of a toll road between the Trinity River levees could begin as soon as this year. In other words, it’s not dead yet.
Oak Cliff Cinco de Mayo
The Oak Cliff Cinco de Mayo parade is the biggest of its kind in Texas. The parade travels down Jefferson Boulevard from Zang to Polk, with vendors and party people all along the way. Since former City Councilwoman Delia Jasso first pitched reworking Jefferson in the image of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas a few years ago, politicians and developers have been trying to figure out a way to make over the boulevard while keeping its Latino tradition. The Ramblas idea faded away, but Jefferson Boulevard is changing. Jim Lake Cos. is renovating the Jefferson Tower, leasing ground-floor space to hip businesses — a craft ice-cream shop, a micro brewer, a high-end coffee roaster — and offering loft apartments with rents upward of $1,000 a month. But he says he doesn’t want all the quinceañera seamstresses and western-wear specialists to be shoved out. Lake hired as an intern Adamson High School standout and Georgetown University scholar Adan Gonzalez last summer. Part of Gonzalez’s job was to reach out to Jefferson Tower’s Latino neighbors in an effort to find out what they want for the neighborhood. That’s how Lake came up with the idea for Jefferson Tower Mercado, which he plans to launch soon. The market, in a 7,000-square-foot space next door to Family Dollar, will offer small retail spaces for local artists, crafters and start-ups. Jefferson Boulevard is going to change. But there will always be Cinco de Mayo.