What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

IMG_0627Dragon’s Teeth, Maui – courtesy of The TexPatch

What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding … Elvis Costello

I got a peaceful, easy feeling … The Eagles

The TexPatch has been on a bit of hiatus.  The back-to-school/work season and end-of-summer madness have caused their usual chaos at the homestead.  At the same time the world around us seems to have plunged into what feels like greater than usual chaos – ISIS, Iraq, Ferguson, Ebola … Ebola in my Texas hometown, no less!  In reality, the world is continuing on its typically chaotic course – it’s just that the crises are hitting closer to home.

I think of Dragon’s Teeth – waves crashing against molten rock.  Treacherous and turbulent.  But there is an ebb and flow.  A give and take.  Crests and troughs.  I will seek the troughs between the crests and crashes – the peaceful easy moments to write and process everything that is going on and hopefully come up with some semblance of peace, love & understanding.  A constructive way to understand and deal with what’s going on in the world.  This is, of course, a cosmic way of saying that the TexPat is getting back to work.


Hot Time in the City

imagePhoto of Nantucket Sound courtesy of The TexPatch

The TexPatch has been on a brief hiatus, celebrating the end of summer.  Back in the Big Apple from the beach, most days it has felt like the thick of the sunny season, rather than the advance of autumn.  We’ve been shedding instead of adding layers in September as the mercury has spiked up and down.  An Indian summer that feels like home – though a lot more humid than Big D’s swelter.

I encourage my fellow Texans to experience New York, even if it’s just a short visit.  To open your mind and shed your fears and jump into the pool.  It’s not a cesspool, really (for the most part).  And though the two places seem to be polar opposites, there’s both an extravagance and a wilderness vibe to the City that a Texan can truly appreciate.  There’s a swagger in the step that feels familiar.  There’s a haughtiness about the supremacy of the Yankees that is similar to our love of the ‘Boys.  And New York has actually done well by many Texans: Liz Smith, Tommy Tune, Tom Ford, Lela Rose and, of course, goddess Beyonce, to name a few.


Beyonce – image via instagram.com/beyonce

Ride the subway.  Not during rush hour, of course, but riding the rails gives you a fuller flavor of the City, its tribes, its idiosyncrasies, its characters.  Over the past few days alone, I have experienced: fashionistas in their full NY Fashion Week plumage (toting handbags worth a decade of Metro Cards); a Mexican acoustic guitar serenade; a self-published poet-preneur in a pink blazer and a straw hat hawking his most recent collection, “Don’t Beat Your Kids or They’ll Turn Out Like Me!”; not to mention every ethnicity, age, gender, class and orientation imaginable.

I have friends who only tackle the City via car service or taxi.  It is certainly more luxurious and sensitive to the senses that way, like a Woody Allen film or an issue of Vogue.  But sometimes it’s worth it to throw your feet into the fire and dance on the coals. Otherwise, what’s the point of living in a crazy place like NY?

Hey, New York Times: Oak Cliff is NOT the South Bronx!

imageThe New York Times Online, Dylan Hollingsworth Photographer

I will preface this post by saying that I’m thrilled that my beloved Oak Cliff is getting so much attention in the national media. From New York Times travel profiles to Cooking Channel star strolls down Bishop Avenue, this is the sort of recognition that will benefit our economy and will finally give Oak Cliff a little bit of the respect it deserves but has long been denied.

But…….They should at least attempt to get their facts straight when they talk about us.  This Sunday an article by Carol Huang will appear in the print edition of The New York Times’ Travel Section entitled, “In Dallas, Turning the Page Marked Nov. 22, 1963.”  Ms. Huang does a fine job of listing fun dining, shopping and entertainment hotspots in Oak Cliff’s funky Bishop Arts District.  But her knowledge of the history and demographics of Oak Cliff is nonexistent, and the premise of the article borders on the absurd.  According to Ms. Huang’s article, it would appear that the entirety of Oak Cliff consists of Davis and Jefferson, and the reason why Oak Cliff has been neglected by the rest of Dallas for decades is, wait for it, THE JFK ASSASSINATION!!!!!!!!  Because Oak Cliff is home to Oswald’s house and the Texas Theater, don’t you know?  I agree with the Dallas Observer‘s opinion that “attributing the neighborhood’s recent growth to declining institutional memory of the assassination is just lazy.”  

Yes, New York Times – the venerable gray lady that arrives on my doorstep and in my email box every day – your reporting, in this instance, is lazy.  Oak Cliff is not the South Bronx.  Though it suffers its fair share of crime, it is not a cesspool of violence and depravation, and it never has been.  Though the small portion of Oak Cliff surrounding the Bishop Arts District may feel like current-day Brooklyn, Oak Cliff as a whole bears a closer resemblance to Brooklyn’s middle-class, more sedate neighboring borough of Queens.  And, as a multigenerational Oak Cliff’er and  daughter of one of Dallas’ leading African-American educators and historians,  I think I can say with some authority that the reason Oak Cliff was ignored for decades by the rest of Dallas had nothing to do with Oswald or the JFK Assassination or the location of the Texas Theatre.  It was the result of a phenomenon known as “white flight” that occurred in cities all around the country and is well-remembered by most Americans over the age of 30.  And Oak Cliff’s current resurgence is a reflection of the migration of urban Americans back to neighborhoods closer to city centers around the country for all the reasons most of us already know.  Duh.

As The TexPatch has repeatedly reported, Oak Cliff is a diverse, middle class area of Dallas with pockets of both poverty and privilege, and a predominance of middle class residents and brick ranch-style homes.  It is much larger and more diverse than the shabby-chic craftsman cottages and hipster brew pubs of the small, but bustling Bishop Arts District.  Many white residents never left – relishing their secret, tranquil location minutes from the center of downtown Dallas.  And it was an aspirational neighborhood for Blacks and Hispanics that desired an alternative to South and West Dallas but were shunned by our North Dallas neighbors. I grew up surrounded by Black doctors, lawyers, educators, politicians, athletes and civil servants in a neighborhood that was all white when my parents moved there in the early ’60s, but soon became predominantly African-American.  It has its share of problems, but Oak Cliff is a great place.

This “seedy reputation” that Ms. Huang refers to sounds like the unsubstantiated stereotypes that were perpetuated by wealthy North Dallasites for many years.  For no other reason than the fact that too many Blacks and Hispanics resided there for comfort (recall The TexPatch’s post regarding a young ’80s-era Highland Park’er referring to “those gross Blacks and Mexicans” in D Magazine).  The TexPat is not North-Dallas-Bashing – in fact, I went to private school in North Dallas from K-12 and had an ideal experience during a time in Dallas’ history when the City’s general atmosphere was not exactly “we are the world.”  But when a young, Northeastern reporter spends a couple of days in my neighborhood and spews stale stereotypes and tenuous theories with no basis in history or even reality, The TexPat has to speak up.  As a person of color, and a native of Oak Cliff, I’m offended.

I wrote a letter to the editor.


Oak Cliff’s Oddfellows – Worth the Wait, Indeed!

imageimage by The TexPat

Congrats to one of my favorite Oak Cliff haunts, Oddfellows, for being designated one of the top 10 “worth the wait” restaurants in the entire U.S. by Yahoo Travel! I’ve never had to wait in line there, but I hear that Sunday brunch requires patience. But is well worth it. Even the puppy loves it.

imageThe puppy’s perch on the patio at Oddfellows, Oak Cliff, Dallas

Flavor of the month


TexPat has to thank Chef Tom Colicchio‘s team at NYC’s Colicchio & Sons for one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. This texpatriate has lived in New York for a long time, and this may have been the best meal I have ever had in this City – and there have been many. Mr. Colicchio is truly a Top Chef who also served up superior service and a welcoming atmosphere. Colicchio & Sons may have replaced Daniel as my #1 NYC restaurant.  Though the late Judy Rodgers’ Zuni Cafe in San Francisco is still my sentimental all-around favorite, Colicchio & Sons may be my left brain’s best.

What are some of your favorites? Formal, casual, food truck, whatever or wherever they may be. I love reading and watching shows about food – even write iPhone notes of Cooking Channel suggestions and NY Times reviews. But the best bets usually spring from personal recommendations. Share your A-list with The TexPatch!

What Do You Talk?


Look, what do you talk?
What do you talk?
What do you talk?
What do you talk?
Where do you get it?
What do you talk?
You can talk, you can talk, you can bicker
You can talk. You can bicker, bicker, bicker, you can talk
You can talk. You can talk, talk, talk, bicker, bicker, bicker.
You can talk all you wanna, but it’s different than it was.
No it aint, no it aint, but you gotta know the territory

From Meredith Wilson’s classic musical, The Music Man – Rock Island Lyrics | MetroLyrics

To talk or not to talk?  To bicker or not to bicker? To blog or not to blog?  These are the questions that are vexing the TexPat; too difficult to address before my morning coffee.  But while waiting on my first cup of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters‘ Hidden City Espresso, brought back from my recent trip home to Dallas, I will attempt to shake loose the cobwebs and fire up the neurons.

The “why not to’s” are easy.  Particularly when it comes to blogging.  There are a million reasons not to blog: the ever-expanding stack of mail and bills on my desk, the expanding waistline when I sit at my computer instead of on a LifeCycle, perpetually hungry people in my house (including one bacon-loving Westie), perpetually privacy-seeking people in my house, finding a real job, keeping my ego in check, keeping my d*#! opinions to myself, etc.  I mean who really cares about my obsession with grilled avocado or Oak Cliff?

The question of “who cares” actually explains why I blog.  As long as I care, that is all that matters.  The TexPat was a nerdy teen who processed the world best through writing about it.  When I’m perplexed, upset, euphoric, angry, curious – writing down my thoughts has always been therapeutic and cathartic for me.  With blogging, unlike journal writing, one is forced to edit one’s thoughts and rants.  That editing process, for me, typically leads to understanding, calm, reason, thoughtfulness.  It keeps me from launching an ICBM of an email in the heat of the moment when a paint bomb – or possibly a white flag – would be the more appropriate response.  So often I take my amusements, disagreements and opinions to the blog, where I place them into some context and add to a narrative, rather than an argument.  It helps me.  If it helps someone else, that would be thrilling, but it’s OK if it only makes the world a better place for those who unfortunately find themselves in the TexPat’s path when she’s mad or wants to talk ad nauseum about avocados.  Now I can take it to the blog and leave my loved ones alone!

The “why not to’s” when it comes to talk – particularly when the talk turns to bicker – are still easier than the “why to’s.”  Though I’m a Texan and an attorney, by training, the TexPat actually doesn’t love conflict.  A paradox, I know, but one glance at the daily headlines confirms that life itself is a paradox.  Little makes sense, other than nature – though our human tendency toward the nonsensical has turned nature wacky as well.  Anyway, it is typically much easier in the short run to still the waters.  To keep calm and carry on.  To avoid unnecessary conflict.  Talk – particularly virtual talk – can often add fuel to a fire rather than dousing the flame.  It wrecks friendships and families.  It starts revolutions.

But sometimes the status quo and the safe is far more dangerous than the incendiary, isn’t it?  Isn’t it the truth, not the safe, that will set us free?  Didn’t Thomas Paine’s revolutionary writings more aptly constitute “Common Sense” than the Crown’s tariffs and tyranny?  (For purposes of this argument, the TexPat will analyze Thomas Paine’s talk in a vacuum that doesn’t address the universal tyranny vis-a-vis the native population or my slave ancestors).   Though silence calms the waters, it is much more difficult to refrain from talk when you feel something is unfair or unjust, or when it affects your personal well-being. Do you talk? Do you bicker?  Do you keep it to yourself?  It’s a delicate balance.  And the fine line between when it’s best to say something or keep your mouth shut is often a high wire without a net to brace your fall if you stumble.


From the blog, They All Hate Us.

On the personal and political level, the TexPat still struggles to figure out when to bicker, when to talk it out or when to “give up and have a margarita.”  When to follow Public Enemy’s clarion call to “fight the power!”  Or when to “whisper words of wisdom, let it be,” as Paul McCartney so eloquently composed for The Beatles.  On the political front, our representative democracy works best when we remain engaged, when we talk, when we bicker, when we express ideas, when we seek truth and justice for all.  There’s always an issue of timing and strategy that affects when and how we talk and act in the political arena – the tension between the urgency of now and the long arc of justice.  There’s an obvious line that should be drawn when talking and bickering turns to terror.  And if we are only talking to hear ourselves talk, instead of seeking truth, then silence might be the best path. I guess you gotta know the territory to select the best route.

Personal talk is trickier.  Sometimes speaking the truth in personal situations is akin to ripping a fresh scab off a wound. You have to determine when the benefits are worth the ouch.  There’s no benefit, or healing, if you never get past the ouch.  So I suppose you have to determine whether the person you are talking to is open to what you have to say, and vice versa.   Whether it expands your potential for mutual understanding or shrinks it.  Or, on the other hand, whether you have nothing to lose by speaking your mind.  The TexPat had two recent experiences – one where she talked, one where she didn’t – that didn’t go well, and she’s still trying to figure out what the lesson to be learned should be.

In the first instance, I shared my opinion with a family member I felt was taking me for granted, when I should have kept my stupid mouth shut.  She was not in a state of mind to hear me objectively, the method of communication was the fatally flawed realm of the virtual, and the well-meaning talk unleashed a torrid of venom in response that ended our ability to talk at all, much less bicker.  Thankfully that situation is beginning to turn around.  I have learned that there was nothing to gain and a lot to lose for being truthful about my feelings and trying to talk it out in that moment, no matter how “right” I deemed my talk to be.

The second instance involved a friend – I should probably refer to her as a former friend.  In her legitimate concern and agony re the feelings of her very sensitive child, she unleashed a torrid of accusations against my child and, by extension, me.  I don’t take “mean girl” accusations lightly – demanded that my daughter immediately call and apologize for the other child’s hurt feelings, provided my own apologies, invited her to tell me what we could do to help make her child feel better, called all the other parents at the two weekend events we both attended to investigate what my daughter said to make sure I appropriately addressed it.  Every single person – none of which had any interest in defending me or my child – stated that my former friend’s accusations were untrue and completely off base.  The child became upset, but my daughter neither said or did anything mean, intentional or otherwise.  The child left the first event quite happy, so if she was upset that evening, it was a complete mystery to everyone.  Every single person, adult and child, confirmed my daughter’s version of the story.  My daughter even urged that we shouldn’t be upset at my former friend’s child – she felt that there was a legitimate misunderstanding at the second event that unintentionally made the girl upset, even though she may have amped up the drama of her discontent in order to prompt her parents to immediately take her home, where she felt more secure and at ease.  I never responded to the untruthful, “heat of the moment” accusations my friend made in her email.  She is going through enough, and given my recent experience with my family member, I felt that maybe I shouldn’t rub salt in her wounds.  Is being “right” worth causing additional pain?  Sometimes it is easier for people to feel that other people are the sole cause of their pain rather than dealing with their own contribution to it.  I should just let it go and move on.  I did let it go – in that when the question of “what do you talk?” was raised, I said nothing other than “I’m sorry.”  But it has been eating away at me.  I gave my former friend the benefit of the doubt and took great pains to ease her pain and make sure I pursued the facts of the matter so that I would handle the situation appropriately and do right by her.  But that truth-seeking revealed that this “friend” never gave me the benefit of the doubt or made any efforts to seek the truth of the situation – if for no other reason than to help her daughter work through her feelings in a meaningful, not superficial way.  This friend accused us for causing her daughter pain over the years of our friendship, but she regularly sent her daughter to our house.  Common sense?  No, just raw emotion.  The kind of raw emotion that can’t be reasoned with or turned into anything constructive until it turns to reflection.  I empathize with her situation on many levels.  But as a human being, it is very hard for me to be the constant waste receptacle for the projection of others’ pain because I’m better able to handle it.  Because their pain is “more important” than mine.  So I try to analyze it, write about it, edit it down to the essentials to stop myself from starting an unnecessary war – either with them or within myself.

What do you talk?  Particularly when talk isn’t cheap?  Perhaps I should just shut up and put on the blinders and convince myself that the other person is “crazy” not malicious, to enable me to hold my tongue.


From the blog, Shiny Starr Light

I don’t want my talk, or my silence, to generate the sort of venom that is no good for anyone.  But it’s hard.


Corporate America has a Hard Head and a Soft Bottom


Image of “Meryl & Jonathon, 1988” by artist Robert Longo, c/o AW Massey Fine Art

The TexPat majored in International Economics. But it doesn’t take an economics degree to understand that Corporate America is sometimes dumb as a post when it comes to acting in its own best interest. Everyone acts like capitalists have some sort of sixth sense superiority gene that places them somewhere on the hierarchy of the Universe between God and the preachers that love Him, but it just t’ain’t so. As a corporate veteran, I can say from experience that Corporate America makes just as many mistakes – honest and otherwise – as the rest of us. Perhaps it’s because corporations are populated by those perpetually noble but flawed creatures called human beings.

That being said, one would think that Corporate America would at least act in its own self-interest. It’s good at doing so when the risks are slim, but when it requires thinking outside of the box, like the conflicted humans that run them, companies run the gamut in their willingness to think beyond the status quo in their quest to win the long game. In the current economy with the significant skills gap American companies are facing vis-a-vis their international competitors, common sense would suggest that our companies would be grabbing the best talent they can find, in whatever package they find it. But the difficulty faced by middle-aged or other “different” workers who desire to work hard and contribute to society and their own well-being to be hired for jobs for which they are often over-qualified is head-scratching. Companies are scared to hire folks who are “overqualified” because they think they will rock the boat, whereas most experienced workers are eager to offer their experience and work-ethic to an enterprise, regardless of whether their superiors will be seniors or Doogie Howsers. Folks want to work! And our economy depends on our ability to reintegrate these ready-and-willing workers back into the workplace rather than their becoming dependent upon the already-fragile social safety net when they don’t have to be. Particularly at a time when our educational system is not generating the volume of high-skilled individuals that will enable our enterprises to continue to compete in the international economy. Why not hire a fifty-something?! The TexPat sounded off on LinkedIn on this subject today.

Keeping hope alive @ Dallas’ Paul Quinn College


Image by Evans Caglage/Staff Photographer, Dallas Morning News

Have to compliment my friend, Michael Sorrell, for his great work, energy, vision and dedication to Dallas’ Paul Quinn College, where he serves as President. And thanks to Trammell Crow for recognizing this vision through his recent gift of $4.4 million. As long as Mike Sorrell is at the helm, I’m confident that this generous donation is in good hands.