Feature: Wednesday, November 19, 2003
The 2003 Turkey Awards

Gimme That Ol’ Time Religious Schism

Back in August, some startling evidence showed that, for some here in the Fort, homophobia is still the last “acceptable” prejudice. The incidents were surprising, coming as they did from the Episcopal Church, an institution with a long history of tolerance and support for social progress. Or, that is, they would have been surprising if the reader didn’t know about the non-progressive history of local Bishop Jack Leo Iker (former turkey recipient).

In the wake of a decision by the general convention of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. to allow the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, Iker let loose a blast of vituperation in the guise of a pastoral letter. Following that lead, Father Deuel Smith, during services at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Richland Hills, alarmed parishioners by casting his church’s flag onto the floor in front of the altar and repeatedly walking back and forth over it while repudiating the Episcopal Church. In this feverish atmosphere, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Graham was repeatedly vandalized, and its vicar’s office was set on fire by persons unknown who left a scrawled message: “God and Jesus love Homosexuals.” It’s a colossal irony that all of this occurred in a year when the Episcopal Church is closer than ever to a rapprochement with, uh, the Methodists.

Up With That

They Didn’t Put

Hey, we’ve got nothing against a theater group that’s located in a shopping mall, just like we’ve got nothing against one that aims to provide family entertainment. However, when the Artisan Center Theater, a North Richland Hills-based troupe, tried to stage Neil Simon’s Rumors in August, they wanted to remove the profanity from the script. Are these the same people who try to establish video stores that cut offensive bits out of movies? Do they think libraries should black out passages from books? Whatever happened to a little thing called artistic integrity? Where is their respect for the material that they’re working with? Luckily, Simon’s lawyers put the kibosh on the bowdlerized production, and the troupe put on You Can’t Take It With You instead. But the bad taste from that whole episode remains. For their attempt at censorship: a serving of unseasoned, unidentifiable turkey parts with greasepaint gravy.

A Big Whiff

of Turkey-tosis

Turkey lungs to Joe Barton, the congressman from hell (actually Ennis) who’s never met a polluter he didn’t like — or from whom he didn’t accept campaign bucks. In The World According to Bart, all that bad air in the Metromess that’s causing old folks and kids to cough up their guts in docs’ offices and emergency rooms — or just give up and keel over — is coming from an alien planet called Houston. It’s not coming from Midlothian’s concrete kilns spewing out tons of deadly toxins from the hazardous waste and tires that are burned for fuel or from TXU’s old and dirty coal-fired power plants in East Texas — all upwind of and a hell of a lot closer to this neck of the woods than the Bayou City is. Barton’s solution? Stick a dirty-air amendment onto the latest congressional energy bill that gives Fort Worth and Dallas more time to clean up the air before that mean old EPA takes away highway funds. Of course if the real polluters had to clean up their stacks, they might not have any money left to put in Barton’s campaign coffers. And wouldn’t that be a loss.

The Itty-Bitty End

of Civilization

Perhaps it’s less a sign of the impending Apocalypse than it is an indication of just how tough the bar business can be in a sluggish economy; nonetheless, we’ve been disturbed in the past few months to see the profusion of bikini nights at a number of local watering holes (including 6th Street Grill and the Bronx Zoo in our neck of the woods). Sure, it’s clear that sex sells. (Yes, we do read our own advertising pages.) And yes, it’s true that for lots of guys, bars are some of the best places to ogle other men’s wives ’n’ girlfriends. (Other places: the supermarket, the laundromat, the mall, the gym, the PTA meeting ...) It’s not the expanses of uncovered female flesh that bother us — it’s just the cheapness of it. This appeals only to guys who are too frugal or ashamed/embarrassed by their own appetites to visit an actual strip joint. Let’s face it: Bars are for serious things like drinking, smoking, and listening to loud music. And ogling other men’s fully-if-scantily-dressed wives ’n’ girlfriends.

No Room at

the Kitchens Inn?

It’s hard to decide what to put in a Thanksgiving gift basket for the Rev. Ted Kitchens, minister of the church on Birchman Avenue whose mushrooming presence is threatening to eat Arlington Heights. Here’s a pastor who buys out old folks and widows in a historical neighborhood at ridiculously low prices, all for the sake of more parking lots for his rapidly growing flock at Christ Chapel Bible Church, while amassing for himself prime private property from Azle to Arlington worth more than a million dollars. One might think that maybe the Christian thing to do would have been to build his church’s new sanctuary on some of that property — and leave those little old widows alone.

That barefoot guy that Ted professes to follow seemed especially keen about taking care of the widows and children — what a fruitcake! We all know how He wound up. Ah, that’s what we’ll put in Kitchens’ basket. A fruitcake. He can give it to some widow for Christmas.

Fear of Fouling

Cowtown has many places and people to bray about. The Kimbell, Van Cliburn, the Stock Show — the list is longer than the string of public jobs held by Mike Moncrief, but we’ll save that rant for another day. Anyway, add to the bragging list the name of Fort Worth’s Asad Qureshi, featured in a recent press release about an invention he calls the Smell of the Roses. “One of the most awkward and embarasing aspects of the human experience is the odor produced by our waste.” A close second might be not knowing how to spell “embarrassing.” “Although often joked about, for many people using the bathroom to defecate in someone else’s home is a very nerve-racking experience, due to the fear they have of leaving a foul odor when they are finished.” Smell of the Roses, the promotional release continues, allows “the user to attack the problem of foul-smelling waste at the source.” We don’t know if or how or where this thing works because “no product photos, prototypes or graphic illustrations of the design will be made available to the media until a licensing agreement and /or patent protection has been secured.” Pardon our skepticism, but if ol’ Asad wants to make true believers out of his hometown, we suggest he whip up a mega-sized Smell of the Roses and see how it works on the stench wafting our way from 30 miles east.

It Was Pure L-Tryptophan

It’s a little early for newspapers to be preening for the Pulitzer judges. And it’s not clear whether the editors at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram intend to enter this particular clip in the commentary or poetry competition. It is, however, a cinch for an equally prestigious Gobbler bestowed here annually. Beneath a standing blurb bragging about the Pulitzers won by two long-gone journos, the newspaper on Aug. 8 published a photograph of parched, cracking earth with this headline: “Ode to 109º: A hot weather haiku.” In toto, the Startlegram’s lead editorial that day read:

It’s too hot right now

to write more than 15 words

about the darn heat.

We give the writer credit for crafting a proper haiku — a short verse about nature comprising three lines with a set number of syllables each. And our gimme cap is off to their wise selection of careers — only editorial writers and turkey judges get to opine anonymously. But when the next year’s heat again renders the editorial board lame as a flock of crippled turkeys, we suggest they try their hand at a senryu, which even a cowboy poet knows to be a similarly constructed observation, on the need to fill up space. Something, perhaps, like:

Just because we have

nothing to say will not stop

our blatherskiting.

Return of the Screw

To make sure no one ever forgets that politics, first and foremost, is about power, God sent the people redistricting. Redistricting, for those needing a refresher course, is the process through which those in power make sure they keep it by redrawing political maps to screw their opponents. Every now and then, the process becomes so obscene that federal judges step in, take over, and screw who they want because it says right there in the Constitution that they get to pick and screw who they please. We may need to deploy the entire federal judiciary to unmuck the mess our pols made of redistricting this year.

For starters, Tom Delay, the Republican U.S. House Majority Leader, decided the state’s political lines needed redrawing this year — even though they weren’t due a makeover. Delay, who made his living exterminating insects before discovering politics, figured he’d smash a handful of Texas Democrats out of Congress, thereby increasing the chances that he would remain in power after the 2004 general election. Democrats in the Texas Legislature lacked the muscle to stop him but had just enough votes to temporarily render the Republican majority impotent by depriving both House and Senate, in turn, of the number of members needed to conduct business. So instead of holding ground and fighting like real women, they tucked tail and ran like yelping dogs, first House members to Oklahoma, then senators to New Mexico, for some unscheduled R&R. Their inevitable return (who wants to stay in Oklahoma?) led to the whipping they knew was coming. It’d be easy to feel sorry for the pitiful Democrats were it not for the fact that, when they were pulling the strings of power, they never hesitated to gleefully screw Republicans, minorities, and liberals — anyone who threatened their stranglehold on state power. So, a turkey pox on both their houses. Call in the feds. And someone tell Delay to get after the cockroaches in Washington.

A Brass Gobbler

for Your Entry?

We humbly offer an overpriced, oops, we mean “high-end” gold-plated turkey to Element of Design, a “modern home fashion” store apparently stocked with extra holiday helpings of gall. Element of Design opened a showroom Oct. 15 in the Chapel Hill shopping center, heralded by a breathless press release describing how customers can meet with a design consultant at this one-of-a-kind boutique to find contemporary furnishings and fine art from the world’s cutting-edge designers to develop your very own “individual style, color scheme and custom arrangements.” Well, lemme tell ya sumpin ’ere, buddy: Folks around these parts have gotten along fine for years by sprawling out on skid-mark stained couches, brightening our living rooms with wagon-wheel light fixtures and Chinese love lamps, and hanging our Last Supper prints onto nails left behind by previous tenants.

OK, it’s probably true that some Westside ladies who lunch will find this place mahvelous. What really stuck in our craw was the press release, which gobbled on about how the store is “the first in what is sure to be a wave of high-end shopping that is making its way to the western side of the Metroplex.” It goes on to suggest all of us deprived folks will no longer have to be “burning up the pavement between here and Dallas for home décor.”

First off, there are plenty of home décor places in town already. We don’t know anybody who thinks they have to drive to Dallas to find a decent coffee table. Goodwill is full of them, and if you go to the drop-off boxes, you don’t even have to cough up any dough. High-end is just a hyphenated word for “come pay out the ass for some costly furniture and design advice so you’ll feel good about yourself, even though it’s a false, empty feeling that ultimately means diddly squat in this sorrow-staggered world where people are dying like flies of AIDS, being slaughtered under the name of religion and oil, starving in abundant countries, or simply waiting to die in a planet doomed by the greenhouse effect.” But hey, happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey under Cellophane

They banned the selling of dyed chicks in these parts long ago, thank goodness, but every once in a while a real birdbrain still creeps into the Easter celebration. An unnaturally colored turkey, therefore, goes to the manufacturers (unknown) and distributors (K-Mart, Albertson’s, Walgreen’s, Eckerd’s, etc.) who put toy weapons into the pre-filled Easter baskets offered for sale in North Texas last spring. A local peace activist complained, and many stores pulled the baskets. But undoubtedly, some North Texas kid excitedly opened a basket Easter morn and found, nestled next to the chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, a little toy machine gun. And wait, could it be, next to that, a toy landmine? Who cares about eating the head off the chocolate rabbit — let’s just blow it off! At this rate, the Easter bunny will need a weapons license — or a job in Iraq with Halliburton.

To the Greater Glory

of Rick

Poor Rick Warden. The burden is so heavy on his shoulders, warning straight people that gays might be breathing — openly! — next to them. We had never heard of this homophobic freakazoid from Mansfield until this fall when he made it his noisy mission to ensure that any homosexual who attended a Texas Rangers game would be vilified by a protesting gang of morality thugs who are offended that gay people are so bold as to venture out into public places. His hate campaign against “perverted, sodomite filth” didn’t stop after a group of gay and lesbians attended a Sept. 14 Rangers game and ... what? Since then, Warden has sent one e-mail after another to news outlets ranting about sodomites and organizing protests. After gays began leaving nasty feedback on his web site, Warden’s followers complained of being “persecuted” for practicing free speech. Kinda like Nazis complaining about being called mean names by Jews.

In November, Warden was livid that the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network was hosting a black-tie dinner featuring speakers Goldie Hawn and former Texas Gov. Ann Richards to raise money for the national organization whose stated mission is to ensure that “each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.” Warden interprets that as a “homosexual organization successfully infiltrating public schools and recruiting our children.” Warden is entitled to his opinion, even if it smacks of McCarthyism, elitism, and, uh, stupidism.

The Bird is Hoopless — and Classless

An entire team of tall, skinny turkeys to Mark McClure, former owner of the Texas Rim Rockers, Fort Worth’s struggling minor-league basketball team. McClure, one of the least classy public figures Fort Worth Weekly has run across in a while, apparently got into the business world by convincing a landlord in Maine to toss McClure’s own cousins out of a Portland bar they were operating and give him the lease. He briefly ran the Portland U.S. Basketball League team, but the league took the squad back following news that the team owed $55,000 in unpaid expense after its first season. At some point McClure became — surprise — a “motivational speaker.”

Last spring, he told a Weekly writer that he paid the USBL $300,000 for the franchise here. Turns out McClure had “not one dime” invested, according to Don Wesley, the guy now running the team. Following the Weekly’s guest column about the Rockers, who seemed to exist mostly on paper just a few weeks before their first scheduled game, the paper received nasty letters from McClure, filled with personal attacks on the writer. McClure said that his “many contacts throughout the U.S.” would have a “nice surprise” in store for the Weekly scribe. Oh well, McClure also wrote that the Rim Rockers were going to “have a great season.” (The team’s wins for the entire year could be counted on one hand with a couple of fingers left over.) The team never paid its rent to the Fort Worth Convention Center and ended up playing home dates elsewhere. Because of McClure’s actions, Wesley said, the team lost some players because they weren’t getting paid, and fans were almost as scarce as wins. This particular bird has flown the coop, and plenty of local folks were glad to see the last of his tailfeathers.

Grass: Trendy and Easier to Mow (Down)

When Anne Marion, the primary benefactor of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, tore down the Seventh Street Theater last year, we sort of understood. Not that we agreed, but with the museum starting an art film series, it made sense in some greedy capitalistic way to get rid of any competition, even if that meant bulldozing a beloved and historic old movie theater.

But this year, Anne and her minions decided to tear down the Chevron gas station at University and Seventh. Apparently, the gas station did not fit into the “vision” of the Modern’s architect, Tadao Ando. So they tore it down and planted that goofy, feathery grass. The logic here is lost on us. Does Anne think people want to sit in a little park and watch the traffic pass? Does a gas station reduce the artistic integrity of the museum? Or does Anne simply want to save her Manhattan and Santa Fe socialite art friends the indignity of having to look at something as pedestrian as a gas station on their way to gander at Pollocks and Warhols? All we know is that the Chevron station had nice people working there, had one of those automated car washes, and we could use our gas credit card to buy beer. Note to Anne: There is a popular Chinese buffet restaurant at that intersection. The common people seem to like to eat there. But we’re sure it doesn’t fit into the “vision” of the museum. Might as well plow that under too and plant that fashionable feathery grass. But who says you can’t like Wegmans and wontons?

Beauty Better Left Unsaid

It’s one thing to be beautiful and brainless. Quite another to be beautiful, brainless, and sanctimonious. Take Kristin Holt, a blue-blood TCU type who recently spent a year or two splitting her time between schoolwork and shaking her T-’n’-A on Sundays as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. All fine and dandy, right? Well, the terrible thing about celebritydom is that — thanks to tv shows, magazines, and newspapers — everyone who qualifies as something of a celebrity hands over her private life the moment she smiles for that camera and allows what comes from her mouth to be documented by loving reporters. Kristin Holt could be the sweetest, most caring, most giving human being on the planet. But thanks to an interview she gave in Texas Monthly not too long ago, we’re inclined to suspect that she’s a shameless self-promoter who’s out to protect her girl-next-door-with-daddy’s-black-AmEx-card image with bared teeth. It’s not like she secretly trades puppies on the black market or knocks old ladies from their walkers or anything. But dig this: According to the article, eye-candy Kristin — the wet dream of every beer-guzzling, Tony-D-shirt-wearin’ bloke who ever set foot in Texas Stadium and the freeze-frame fantasy of American Idol, the wildly popular tv singing contest on which Holt appeared briefly last year — reads scripture. With her boyfriend. Over the phone. Now let that sink in: Relatively attractive woman who fought for the chance to bump and grind before thousands of drunken louts on the Lord’s Day repeatedly reads scripture. With her boyfriend. Over the phone.

Gag us with a frickin’ spoon.

Here’s the bottom line: Keep your hubris to yourself. Describing for everyone the inner mechanisms of your “divinity” isn’t gonna win you any friends. We’re not Bible beaters over here (no way), but we respect ourselves and our faiths enough to realize that some things are better left between us and that big casting agent in the sky.

And we’re not even the type of people who could get by on our legs and lips. Maybe we’re just ... divine.

Oven Cleaner, Please

We present a large serving of burned bird to the management team of the local Major League Soccer franchise for a season to forget. The Dallas Burn’s cost-cutting move of relocating from the Cotton Bowl to Southlake’s Dragon Stadium backfired, as their average attendance dropped from more than 13,000 fans per game to less than 8,000. League watchers universally panned the high-school football stadium’s artificial-turf field on both tactical and aesthetic grounds (nothing like playing on end-zone and yardage markings to remind you which sport is the really important one). The players couldn’t adapt to the new, faster surface, and this, plus injuries and midseason roster moves that reeked of desperation, added up to a team that couldn’t score and couldn’t defend. (You don’t need a soccer expert to tell you that that’s a bad combination.) The Burn finished in last place overall, missed the playoffs for the first time in its eight-year history, sent no players to the MLS All-Star Game, and saw both general manager Andy Swift and coach Mike Jefferies fired during the season. All this for a team charging the highest ticket prices in the league. Now the team is fleeing Tarrant County, moving back to the Cotton Bowl next season before their new stadium in Frisco opens in 2005. A year that was the equivalent of an own-goal means that not many soccer fans here will miss them.


To The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a couple of boiled turkey tails for their fine showing in journalistic fair play.

Back in August, S-T staffers were rightfully miffed when they broke the Story of the Year and were not credited with that coup by the DMN when the Snooze reported the same story a day later. That was the secret taping of Baylor University basketball coach David Bliss plotting to cast murdered player Patrick Dennehy as a big-time drug dealer to cover up Bliss’ role in making illegal cash payments to players and their girlfriends.

Ah, but how quickly the self-righteous forget — especially when they’re the ones who get beat. By October, when the S-T wrote that the Fort Worth school district had spent $3.6 million on a 75-year-old printing plant to be used as an elementary school before it found out that the place was a hell-hole of pollution that the taxpayers would have to clean up, three news stories failed to mention that this little ol’ paper had broken the story a month earlier.

Still, because one ethically grounded columnist saw to it that an editorial condemning the purchase credited the Weekly, the S-T gets its boiled tail with a little tasty sauce from the goose thrown in.

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