Turkey Awards 2020
We’re not saying we don’t make mistakes. We all do, even the most “woke” among us, even us “lapdog liberals” here at the Weekly. Unlike most public figures, voices of authority, or elected officials, though, we typically apologize if necessary and move on. Many of them don’t even suffer a nasty comment. Thankfully, we are here to “award” these scofflaws some anti-tasty bird. Dished out annually to the most deserving public figures, voices of authority, and elected officials in Fort Worth and beyond for dumb or hateful things said or done, our angry little blurbs of disdain and mad disrespect cover all the usual suspects (Abbott, Patrick, Waybourn, even Price this year) and more. Sit down at the table, stay a while, and see for yourself. Like a fresh slice of pumpkin pie, we think you’ll enjoy it. — Anthony Mariani
Some Tanglewood residents may need to hire a PR firm to revamp their community’s image after the chickenshit stunts they pulled this year. Or they may just need to learn to keep their beaks shut when it comes to matters of public health.
This past summer, a small but boisterous contingent of wealthy white parents made their stance on school reopenings clear — well-to-do public schools must open now! Following a mid-July decision by Tarrant County Public Health directors to delay public school reopenings until September 28, a few dozen wealthy parents (largely from the Tanglewood neighborhood) approached county head Glenn Whitley to discuss this “overreach” by trained public health professionals who were taking steps to promote, ya know, public health.
When school boards were given the authority to reopen campuses days later, the same parents began squawking at Fort Worth school board meetings. Through public comments and asinine posts on the Facebook group Back in School-Back to Safety, the white parents cast mistrust over county public health officials and school district trustees while simultaneously feigning concern for Fort Worth’s minority communities.
If the schools don’t reopen, their self-serving argument went, then colored folk would be disadvantaged. The privileged parents were right about one thing. Minority communities do suffer from school closings. Those communities also suffer from lopsided PTA funds that lavish resources on Lily B Clayton and Tanglewood Elementary while schools on the East Side rely on bootstrapped public school budgets. Schools in predominantly minority neighborhoods suffer from that bedrock of American society, systemic racism, that continues to divert development toward urban core districts that are owned by the uber-wealthy while simultaneously over-policing Como, Stop-Six, and Polytechnic Heights. The Tanglewood parents had their way. Fort Worth’s Tanglewood-area elementary schools were the first public schools to reopen, but the self-centered efforts of a small group of white parents to force their agendas on the broader community were a reminder to many that white privilege is alive and well in Fort Worth.
Fun fact: Jesus was not an asshole. The messiah was a forgiving, kindly prophet who fought for the poor and downtrodden. If only there was a book or something about his wondrous works on behalf of the disadvantaged. Hmm. Have to look into that and share it with Stephanie and Daniel Wright.
The co-owners of the Near Southside vintage store W Durable Goods made their views on homosexuality known via a Facebook post in June. Stephanie shared a post by local fundamentalist pastor Jason Stidham that quickly drew backlash from the local community.
“Homosexuality is NOT like any other sin,” the message read. “No other sin claims to love so much yet manifests such hate toward anyone who dare stand against it. The sin seeks to divide and conquer. The only cure … Jesus.”
Screenshots of private messages sent by Daniel to Felipe Gutierrez, an openly gay community leader, and shared with us confirmed that the co-owners feel no remorse for their hateful social media blathering. This country has largely moved past the bigoted notion that loving someone of the same gender could be in any way, shape, or form a bad thing. Our advice for the Wrights and Stidham is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. It’s a rule of thumb so universally accepted that some say it’s golden.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, turkeys are more agile than they might seem and can achieve surprisingly quick and speedy flight for such large birds. However, the turkey is not built for endurance, and most flights are short in duration, so congratulations to everyone who temporarily abandoned mainstream social media for right-wing centered Parler and MeWe. We missed you turkeys for those entire two days you fled following your unsolicited announcements you’d be logging onto greener pastures. You yearned for an environment where fake news wouldn’t gather pesky warnings identifying it as, ya know, fake. Apparently, Facebook and Twitter weren’t efficient enough with their cutting-edge algorithms to craft a cozy and finely appointed enough echo chamber for you. The majority of reasonable non-Trumpers offended you to such an extent that you required a non-challenging safe space (dawww). Unfortunately, you and many others found out these platforms are garbage. Parler serves as the personal Twatter feeds of people such as Ted “Insult My Wife, Please!” Cruz, Sean Hannity, and the grandfather from that Duck Dynasty show, who are all featured in an impressively anti-diverse list of suggested people to follow when signing up for the platform. We tried briefly to engage with these new sites but discovered quickly that all the people we knew who’d dramatically exited post-election had returned to their big-tech roots to share family photos interspersed with unproven voter fraud allegations and reassurances that the 2020 election won’t be legitimate unless the Cheeto in Chief serves another four years. We’re confident no one will be offended by our assessment of Parler, because we’re just the lamestream media, and unless you’re reading this on Newsmax or OAN, it’s all lies anyway.
The pandemic has exposed where folks stand on the role of medical science, law enforcement, and public school teachers. On a September 21 Facebook Live conversation with Mayor Betsy Price and two doctors from Cook Children’s, the mayor said as people return to work, they need childcare and that schools provide it. Public schools provide child-care-like services, but during a deadly pandemic, Price’s statements seemed cold and out of touch. Through the Weekly and other local media outlets, public school teachers let it be known that they were downright terrified to return to classes, especially given the minimal PPE that the district was giving teachers. Around that time, Price sent a letter to the Fort Worth school district, urging that classes reopen. The mayor’s public statements were curiously in line with those of many parents in the wealthy Tanglewood neighborhoods.
We’re not done yet. Last month, the family of Atatiana Jefferson commemorated the one-year anniversary of Jefferson’s killing by organizing a parade and vigil. Jefferson, a young Black woman, was killed by Aaron Dean, a white police officer, at Jefferson’s mom’s home. Dean was responding to a nonemergency call that reported the front door of the house had been open all day. Dean shot through a window, striking and killing Jefferson. He posted bond soon after and is currently awaiting trial. Amber Carr, Jefferson’s older sister, recently told us that Price has yet to substantively speak to the Jefferson/Carr family. Not one local elected official attended Jefferson’s memorial, and the crowd took notice. It takes a pretty big turkey to snub Jefferson’s family on the anniversary of her killing by a Fort Worth police officer for playing video games in her mom’s house.
Earlier this month, when commuters headed east from downtown, they passed a campaign billboard with Bill Waybourn’s unsmiling visage, looking like an aging Marlboro Man giving them the once-over as they picked up speed going downhill, but that paper likeness of the sheriff’s unswerving gaze never quite made it a mile west to the Tarrant County Jail, where shenanigans of all kinds have taken place this past year.
With his cowboy hat and boots and his weather-beaten look, Waybourn seems like the ideal Texas sheriff, though perhaps not a 21st-century one. Like most of us, he’s had a tough 2020, even recently testing positive for COVID-19 while the Tarrant County Jail, which he’s tasked with managing, has bounced from one scandal to the next all year long. In April, an inmate committed suicide. After investigating, state regulators learned guards weren’t doing their required cell checks and found Waybourn’s jail out of compliance with minimum jail standards. In May, a woman delivered her baby, with no help, inside her jail cell. Unsurprisingly, a short time later, the baby died. Then three county detention officers beat up an inmate, collapsing the prisoner’s lung and, for good measure, fracturing his ribs and cheekbone. In the melee, one of the officers had the forethought to body-block the security camera. Another detention officer later admitted that beatings like that were a “normal thing” at the Tarrant County Jail. And if that’s not enough of a horror show for you, in 2020 so far, a dozen prisoners have died in jail, a drastic increase over past years.
One reason for the rise in deaths has been Waybourn’s stubborn refusal to release nonviolent offenders in the face of the novel coronavirus. No matter what you think about prisoners in the country jail, many of whom haven’t been convicted of any crime but are awaiting trial, none of them deserve to catch a disease that might kill them.
So while multiple scandals have been swirling around his mismanagement of the county sheriff’s department, what has Sheriff Waybourn been up to? Not much other than strutting his conservative bona fides around the country: appearing on the right-wing’s chief propaganda outfit, Fox News; jetting to Washington; and, in general, living up to the appellation of “Trump’s favorite Texas sheriff” to actually do the job he was elected and now, sadly for us, reelected to do.
Skip Inviting Skip to Dinner
Football players are human beings, and sometimes human beings have emotional problems. You could understand Dak Prescott experiencing depression after his brother committed suicide this past spring. You could sympathize with the Dallas Cowboys quarterback for going public with his feelings. You could admire him for trying to use his fame to help others who have suffered in similar fashion. You could, but then you wouldn’t be Skip Bayless. The national sports media disgrace from here in North Texas blasted Prescott as weak, taking an outdated “manly men don’t talk about their feelings” line. When he predictably was blasted for it, he responded by blaming you and me, saying his comments were “misconstrued by many.” Because this is 2020, Bayless did all this during National Suicide Awareness Month, which was emphasized during a rebuke from his own TV network. For his well-deserved roasting, we present the old fossil with some roasted turkey and the compassion he so clearly lacks. He could use it for the holidays.
Most North Texans by now are familiar with the Dallas salon owner who refused to close her business during the state shutdown this spring, a move that could have landed her a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail. She was even sentenced to a week in jail for her violation of the governor’s executive order, but she ended up serving only two days. Why? Because state republicans pressured the Texas Supreme Court to release the salon owner after Gov. Greg Abbott changed his shutdown order by taking jail time off the table for violators.
Would she have received such support if she’d not been a white affluent Republican? No way. And would Sen. Ted Cruz have shown up at her salon later for a photo op? Not a chance. Instead, she became a figurehead for local Trump fans and anti-maskers across the state, appearing at rallies and making a point of tearing up her cease-and-desist letter from local authorities –– much to the glee of right wingers in the crowd.
We have chosen not to name this woman or her business because we know that free publicity is all she wants. After all, she’s since used her ignoble posturing and disregard for public safety as a motivational tool and is running for Texas Senate. She even made the December runoff, because clearly people don’t care that she’s been using the pandemic and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans to her advantage this whole time.
Here’s to hoping she doesn’t make it to the Senate, since the last thing Texans need is more ignorant politicians who will ignore the COVID-19 pandemic for the sake of money.
Pass the Biscuits
Cultural appropriations are everywhere, some even unintentional. No, being white and naming items on your restaurant’s menu after hip-hop people and phenomena isn’t inherently racist, especially if you love hip-hop as much as Hot Box Biscuit co-owners Sarah Hooton and Matthew Mobley say they do. It’s when someone asks you about the “Pimpento” cheese and the “Puff Daddies” and the “Miso Corny” and you essentially blow them off that’s the problem, which is what happened to a local woman when she messaged the owners of the popular brunch spot to inquire about their cultural appropriations during a time of so much racial injustice. A simple “thank you for writing, and we will give it some thought” from Hooton and Mobley would have worked just fine, and we probably wouldn’t even be talking about this. Instead, their nonresponse went viral, and the Hot Boxers had to change all of their hip-hop-influenced items to less hip-hoppy and certainly less fun names. Though most folks are on break, there’s always time to learn a good PR lesson.
How racist do you have to be to feel comfortable talking about murdering Black people in the face of everything that happened this summer? While Fort Worth and other places were convulsed by protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police, Fort Worth police officer Roger Ballard posted on Facebook a picture of a Black man in a coffin with the caption “The face you make when you don’t understand ‘stop resisting.’ ” For this, the 18-year police force veteran was made an ex-cop, and his bosses all the way up to the mayor made the usual noises about bad apples and isolated incidents. What a load of crap. There’s plenty of evidence here and elsewhere from officers’ own social media accounts that Black lives truly do not matter to the white boys in the blue uniforms. The online hate is just a sign of institutional rot that our publication and many others have found. Addressing that will take a long time, but for now, we’re giving ex-Officer Ballard some white meat, which we’re sure is the only kind he wants.
There are many reasons Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick deserves a Turkey Award, but what concerned us most this year was his gross attempt at pseudo-patriotism in March when he claimed that American seniors “like him” would be willing to risk dying from COVID-19 if it would preserve the economy. His comments were a response to shutdowns designed to keep Americans from spreading the virus.
Patrick received major national criticism for his statement, but instead of backtracking and admitting his claims were tasteless and blatantly false, he doubled down in April. This time he insisted “some things are more important than living, and that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us.”
Patrick obviously thinks the value of the nation is measured on its stock market ticker, no matter the cost to the people’s rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but he was speaking to what is clearly the focus of the modern GOP –– money over matter.
Since Danny Boy is willing to die purely for political points, he surely won’t mind if we don’t slice up his rotten turkey into tiny bites for him.
Recipe for Disaster
We’ve all made bad jokes at some point in our lives, but while we may (or may not) have been forgiven, what we’ve said lasts forever, especially when said “joke” is racist. Case in point: Lil’ Red’s Longhorn Saloon. In response to the Black Lives Matter protests that pulsed largely peacefully throughout the country this past summer, Red’s owner Craig Copeland posted to Facebook, “We are planning a protest march for Honky-Tonk Life Matters at a yet to be determined date. No statue destruction or destroying of police equipment will be tolerated. Keep in mind, this is a protest, and no one has to wear a mask since the Chinese virus can not [sic] be spread by protesters.”
Among the 140-plus comments, many were supportive. “This is nonsense!” one pro-honkytonk-lives person wrote. “They can close down people’s livelihood and let those trashy protesters get away with all of their crap!”
Just as many did not agree with Copeland. One wrote, “You are an establishment owner in my city mocking the deaths of young Black lives and the pain of the Black minority trying to find peace and justice. Because you do realize that’s precisely what everyone in this city will know was … your intention. It is horrifically racist, insensitive, and you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Copeland eventually said he was only kidding and that no honkytonk “protest” was actually planned. In return, he needs to spend Thanksgiving dinner at the kiddie table and the rest of his life in racial sensitivity training. Plus, “Chinese virus”? Wonder who let him know it was OK to say that.
It’s one thing to “back the blue,” and I think we all do to some extent –– cops have hard, thankless jobs and are liable to be killed anytime a call comes in. We respect that and appreciate their service. We also know that that “blue lives matter” crap is a bunch of racist bullshit. It’s victim blaming on a high level. It’s the argument that if you just followed the law, you wouldn’t be in trouble, which, as we all know, is a rhetorical device not tethered to reality. Atatiana Jefferson was playing video games in her mom’s house when a white cop shot and killed her. Breonna Taylor was at her apartment with her boyfriend when police forced their way in. The list goes on. Mostly white cops end up killing mostly Blacks because systemic racism has trapped Blacks in crime-ridden neighborhoods with few conventional means of transcendence. Breaking down systemic racism by providing more, not less, opportunities to the people who live in these environments is a big step toward reversing the trend. Good luck to the politician or police chief who’s going to step up and say as much.
We back the blue, and you should, too. We don’t back “blue lives matter,” so forgive us for labeling you a racist if you raise one of those obnoxious flags on your small-peter truck. It’s one of two things. You’re either racist and don’t care who knows anymore because the guy soiling the White House says racist words and actions are OK, or you’re ignorant and have no idea what “systemic racism” means. Chances are that if you knew about it, your entire worldview would be turned upside down, and that’s just something too uncomfortable for you to fathom. Someone get you to a safe space with OAN on TV STAT!
A Side (Swipe) of Snowflakes
Not only was it dangerous for Trump supporters to surround the Biden/Harris campaign bus on I-35, it was also proof that the term “snowflake” doesn’t just apply to woke millennials. Texans already look bad on the national political stage. (Please refer to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz for further reading.) We don’t need the help of Trumpanzees with their dumb flags mounted to their vehicles trying to run people off the road. So it goes in the age of Trump, when bully tactics and small-mindedness have been the flavors of the day the last four years. In that context, what happened to the Biden/Harris bus in October perhaps wasn’t surprising. Still, it was shameful and pathetic, so welcome to the Hall of Shame, ladies and gentlemen of the Toupee Troupe! We don’t have a plaque for you, so instead please accept this proverbial middle finger –– may your beer always be lukewarm and your turkey undercooked. It’s the least you deserve.
Crying Fowl on the Guv
Gov. Greg Abbott has gobbled a record number of Turkey Awards over the years. This past summer when Black Lives Matter protests erupted across Texas and the nation, it didn’t take long for the Guv to remind Texans that corporate profits and the status quo matter more to him than reforms. Speaking at a prominent Fort Worth police department headquarters this past August, Abbott launched his rebuke of Black Lives Matter leaders, who were calling for reforms such as ending the over-policing of Black communities and implementing policies that would reduce the killings of unarmed Black men and women by police officers. As Mayor Betsy Price stood nearby, Abbott announced that “any city in the state of Texas that defunds law enforcement will have their property tax revenue frozen as of that time.” The gubernatorial admonition was directed at supporters of police defunding. The childish threat may be bluster, or it may become a priority during the 2021 Texas legislative session.
Abbott again came to the rescue of deep-pocketed police departments two months ago when he proposed harsher criminal penalties for protesting. Speaking at a Dallas press conference, Abbott proposed felony-level offenses with mandatory jail time for individuals who engaged in activity deemed to be a riot. Who does Abbott trust to make that call? The police. The same uniformed officers who were on the receiving ends of boisterous chants of “Fuck the racist-ass police” throughout much of this past summer would be given leeway to hand out felony charges like candy if Abbott has his way. Texas and the nation need greater police accountability and transparency — not the police state that Abbott wants.
Anyone who doubts the medical effectiveness of face masks should defer to every U.S. surgeon since the 1920s who has uniformly used the devices. A recent study published in Nature found that the “wearing of surgical masks or KN95 respirators, even without fit-testing, substantially reduce the number of particles emitted from breathing, talking, and coughing.” Masks slow the spread of COVID-19, but the preventative steps are effective only when widely used. Enter: Texas, where self-serving misinterpretations of liberty, a great disdain of science, and dumb tweets by the guy loitering at the White House have led to heated public comments about mask-wearing rules at Tarrant County Commissioners Court meetings and at anti-mask rallies in Austin. During the mid-June protests when several hundred Fort Worthians marched daily against police brutality, few Fort Worth police officers wore face masks. Public shaming from protesters eventually pressured police into following that most basic of public health measures. This past July, The March for America could have been mistaken for an anti-mask rally given the dearth of protective masks visible at the “nonpartisan” event. The push by wealthy white parents to reopen schools last July and August drew many unmasked supporters. If concerns over contracting or spreading COVID-19 aren’t enough to convince you to wear a face mask in public, understand that, in the eyes of many, not wearing a protective mask without a medical excuse is akin to carrying a sign that reads, “Hey, everybody! Look! I’m a dumbass!”
A Red-Bearded Turkey in Dodger Blue
The World Series at Globe Life Park could have gone worse: At least those lying, cheating Houston Astros didn’t win the title on our turf. The Los Angeles Dodgers finally breaking through after 32 years should have been a great feel-good story for baseball, and it was, until third baseman Justin Turner violated quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 and went onto the field to celebrate after his team won. Look, we don’t begrudge the 36-year-old player his happiness for becoming a World Series winner, and Major League Baseball made a bush-league move covering up its own shortcomings over the incident. (Why didn’t he receive his positive test result until the game had already started?) Even so, the former All-Star not only made headlines for the wrong reason during the Dodgers’ history, but he also put people in danger. Five other team members tested positive for the virus after he did, and who knows whether he might have spread the disease to people in the Arlington area? For his reckless behavior, we present him some virus-ridden turkey with bacon and avocado, the way they like it on the West Coast.
Shane Carruth filmed both of his highly regarded feature films (Primer and Upstream Color) in the Dallas area. The 48-year-old director and actor has said that he’s retiring after his unspecified next project, which may or may not have something to do with the restraining order taken out against him by his fellow filmmaker, sometime co-star, and ex-girlfriend Amy Seimetz, who alleged that he had strangled her and threatened to kill her. Whether he’s actually guilty of these things or not, it sure was a dick move tweeting a picture of said order shortly before Seimetz came out with her own film this past summer. (It’s She Dies Tomorrow, if you’re interested.) Nor did he help himself by repeatedly interrupting the judge on Zoom during an August court hearing that made the order permanent. All this made him come off like a creep, and now is a particularly bad moment to be a creep who directs movies, even if they still seem to appreciate those in France. We send Carruth off with some barbecue turkey to remind him of his Texas roots as he sails off into retirement.
Rolls for the Rambler
The elevated pub fare, deep craft beer offerings, and spacious patio at the Southside Rambler will be missed. The Near Southside restaurant had a good thing going before the business was abruptly closed this past July after numerous female employees accused one male manager of sexual harassment. Leading up to that dramatic moment — most of the female staff walked out en masse to protest the dangerous workplace environment — the Rambler suffered from months of racist social media posts by one of the co-owners. Near Southsiders are tolerant of pretty much anything except intolerance. Screenshots of the co-owner’s Facebook posts (including memes equating quarantines to the Holocaust and images describing sagging pants as a sign of past incarceration) soon made the rounds online. The restaurant’s battered public image, accusations of workplace harassment, and reputation for not enforcing social distancing made eating at the Rambler just too much to stomach. The Magnolia location is now home to Maggie’s R&R and hopefully new ownership who understand that even the best food can’t save a business from a poor reputation.