From Mass Arrests And Pandemic-Induced Shutdowns To Viral Construction Snafus And Shredded Cheese Meltdowns, Here Are The Moments That Shaped Dallas’ 2020.

They say hindsight is 20/20, and boy are we thankful to put 2020 in our rearview.

If the TikToks we spent the year watching (when not outing imposters in Among Us or tending to our Animal Crossing chores) taught us anything, it’s this: When we’re old(er) and gross(er), we’re going to look back at the entirety of 2020 as one collective, and rather nightmarish, major life moment.

It’s wild how so much took place over the course of those 12 months just in Dallas alone.

The biggest story of all? That’s an easy one: the still-ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For a minute there at the top of the year, we were still able to do things like celebrate the local music scene at our Central Track Music Honors event and explore our curiosities at furry conventions. Then — boom! — March hit, and everything changed.

Think about it: Heading into 2020, how many of us really were even aware of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins — let alone salon owner, Open Texas advocate and failed Texas State Senate candidate Shelley Luther? Who could’ve possibly anticipated a back-and-forth between actor Michael Rappaport and Fort Worth’s Basement Bar over whether they should open their doors? Who might’ve foreseen phrases like “shelter in place” and “social distancing” becoming so commonplace? Or old faithful government terms like “state of disaster” and “state of emergency” being uttered with such nonchalance? Could anyone have guessed we’d all own masks at this point? Or that they’ve become fashion statements? Did anyone expect we’d all become so familiar with working — or, in the case of our kids, learning — from home?

Whether you were out super-spreading, staying the fuck home or just constantly washing your hands this year, so much happened as a result of COVID-19, you couldn’t even possibly be expected to remember it all. Like, remember when the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center was briefly turned into an overflow temporary hospital for a spell in the springtime — only for it to be promptly dismantled because local officials decided it wasn’t needed? Or, hey, how about when Fort Worth megachurch pastor Kenneth Copeland ended the pandemic — only not really — by blowing “the wind of God” onto it all the way back in April?

This year simply refused to allow the status quo to maintain itself. Take, for instance, the American Airlines Center, which became a polling place in time for the presidential election — and even its parking garage, which was transformed into a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility in the summer. The State Fair of Texas was handcuffed into adopting a drive-through model in 2020, too. Another big annual day in the Dallas calendar, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was meanwhile forced to cancel for the first time in 41 years — although, back then in the early days of the pandemic, plenty of people still partied on in unsanctioned affairs.

Mostly, though, the party refused to keep raging as the pandemic continued to do so. It wasn’t long before venues like Blue Light Dallas and Beauty Bar announced their closures. Same with the iconic Dallas venue The Lizard Lounge — this after having only barely survived 2019 thanks to Uber‘s infringement on Deep Ellum, which now might not happen in anywhere near the numbers we once anticipated. Even party promoters like Margin Walker Presents fell victim to the virus’ decimation of the nightlife industry.

There’s no doubt about it: The sheer volume of prominent Dallas-area businesses lost to the pandemic in 2020 will forever remain staggering.

The celebrated Dallas dining community — hailed just one year prior by Bon Appetit as its choice for “restaurant city of the year” — was particularly decimated. Service industry workers were especially hard hit, with Headington Companies being the first major domino to fall in terms of sweeping mass industry layoffs. Still, between switching priorities to curbside service, pivoting to cocktails-to-go, exploiting TABC loopholes, prioritizing their spread-out patio spaces and suing the government, bar and restaurant owners tried all options in their disposal in order to keep their doors open this year. Huge props to those that steadied the rocky waters; same goes for those that managed to somehow open in these wild times, like Deep Ellum’s kickass new Thunderbird Station spot. Additional daps to those that were announced yet remain en route for the time being, like the Design District’s still-forthcoming Michelin-starred Italian spot, Carbone, and the still-to-come elements in Downtown Dallas’ AT&T Discovery District, whose $100 million facilities quietly started opening to the public in the springtime after years of promises.

Even amidst going out of their way to take care of their own — in more ways than one (see: the community rallying to support Salaryman‘s Justin Holt in the wake of his cancer diagnosis) — the restaurant scene still had to deal with non-pandemic happenings, too. There were still cultural appropriation debates, social media tantrums, trend explosions (hot chicken, anyone?) and lawsuits aplenty (the family behind Fletcher’s Corny Dogs had a particularly crazy year) — not to mention some closures that had nothing to do with the pandemic at all (we’ll miss you, Black Swan Saloon).

The sports world was turned upside down this year as well: The XFL came (again) and went (again); the Dallas Stars drafted a Mavrik; the Texas Rangers‘ new Home Depot-resembling Globe Life Field ballpark hosted the World Series even though the home team didn’t partake; SMU had the highest-ranked football team in Texas for a short spell; local boy Bryson DeChambeau broke golf while winning his first major; Wylie-raised soccer player Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 college football game; and the Dallas Mavericks finally “greened it back” with their uniforms. Sports fans also met some additional names they’ll be hearing for some time, including surprise Stars playoff savior Joel Fucking Kiviranta, can’t-miss future NFL quaterback prospect Quinn Ewers out of Southlake and possible future top NBA pick Cade Cunningham, who hails from Arlington but has taken his talents to Oklahoma State University for the time being. Fans also, for the worst reasons, became better familiar with FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon, who bravely stood up for himself in the face of the racism he’s endured in his career as a professional soccer player.

Racism was unfortunately a major player throughout 2020’s trials and tribulations — not just in Dallas, although certainly here as well. In the wake of George Floyd‘s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, protests broke out across the country — and, here in Dallas, activists took to the streets for more than 100 days straight. Through chants, donut-involved stunts and literally dunking on anyone who disagreed, Dallasites voiced their frustration most specifically with the Dallas Police Department‘s systemic and institutional racism — kneeling cops and scared SMU products be damned. (Organizers say they plan to keep that energy going into 2021, too.)

Expectedly, frustrations over social injustices and the pandemic alike often spilled into the Dallas political realm in 2020, where they were joined by concerns over a possible murder spike, an increase in car stunts being performed on city streets and a merciful end to the war on scooters. For the most part, we spent the year wondering where the hell Mayor Eric Johnson was. When we did find him, it was far too often on national television as part of interview segments in which he’d deny even understanding what protesters meant while asking to “defund” the police. (Perhaps he was too obsessed with handing out milk to find out?)

Really, it was citizens who took action into their own hands to really help out their neighbors in 2020 — be it the lawyers who volunteered to help fight back against pandemic-induced evictions, the concert promoters who pivoted to information-sharing with the launch of DFW Corona Connection or the Dallas Army of Artists that banded together to bring a little beauty to the boarded-up buildings seen across the city in the wake of social unrest.

Dallas even managed to finagle its way into the national political landscape throughout the year — and particularly on the Democratic Party’s side of the presidential election. Pretty early on in the year, Bernie Sanders got himself a taste of Texas when he hosted a rally at the Mesquite Rodeo. Next, a Pete Buttigieg at Main Street Garden Park pre-Super Tuesday was canceled mere hours before taking place as his campaign was suspended. Days later, Buttigieg and others — including Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke — chose a Joe Biden rally at Dallas’ Gilley’s complex as the location where the party would collectively fall in line behind its chosen frontrunner. Of course, that didn’t stop Donald Trump for coming to town for a big-money fundraiser in June that was met with its fair share of activism right in the thick of the police brutality protests taking place across the city. Later on, Dallas would further make its Trump disdain known in the form of a crowdfunded anti-Trump billboard and a crude guerilla art campaign that openly mocked him. In the end, despite a viral, campaign material-covered duplex along Lower Greenville showing just how close to home some of our political division can hit, even the historically conservative climes of Fort Worth got in on the action of voting Trump out.

Yes, between all that and more — including lawsuits involving a Plano woman suing Brad Pitt because she thought they were getting married and an Allen person claiming to be from Saturn suing the U.S. government for unspecified reasons — Dallas certainly saw its share of crazy his year.

Fortunately, we had plenty to distract us from it all. On the entertainment front, we saw Cheaters return, we watched Erykah Badu audition to become the future voice of Big Tex, we beefed with Trapt, we watched Dallas’ Cooper Raiff become an indie darling for his directorial debut of Shithouse, we saw Dallas’ own Jonathan Majors battle monsters on HBO’s Lovecraft Country, we cheered the news of possible forthcoming Von Erich family and Vanilla Ice biopics, we celebrated the future rebooting of local product Mike Judge‘s Beavis & Butthead and, yes, we even got dicked down in Dallas, too.

And though we missed out on some amazing concerts due to the pandemic, we still watched loop daddy Marc Rebillet open up the industry’s eyes to the possibilities of drive-in concerts, welcomed back The Chicks and saw area talents like Joshua Ray Walker, Erica Banks, Kaash Paige, Bobby Sessions and Frozen Soul raise their profiles as established names like Leon Bridges, Mickey Guyton, Maren Morris and Charley Crockett only reaffirmed theirs.

There weren’t many laughs to be had in the comedy scene, though, as the Dallas Comedy House shuttered its doors for good and beloved local comic Clint Werth moved on to the next plane following a long battle with cancer.

Yup, we lost of a lot of beloved contributors to Dallas culture this year — country music icon Charley Pride, record store owner Bill Wisener, blues legend Lucky Peterson, buzzing rapper FXXXY, rising emcee Uncle Skitz, hip-hop hero Mo3 and Power Trip pillar Riley Gale, just to name a few.

Meanwhile, D Magazine owner Wick Allison‘s passing was but one of the many game-changing shifts in the local media landscape. A number of titans of area industry signed off from their posts throughout the year — first Mike Rhyner bowing out at 96.7-FM/1310-AM The Ticket, then Robert Wilonsky stepping down from his post at the Dallas Morning News, followed by Jim Schutze relinquishing his longtime role as the columnist of record at the Dallas Observer and finally Mike Wilson resigning from his position as the Dallas Morning News‘ top editor. Even further signaling a changing of the guard? After having had a run on every sports station in town at some point already, favorite area radio sports-talkers Ben & Skin carved out a new niche for themselves at rock station 97.1-FM The Eagle.

As for us here at Central Track? Well, we did our best to fill those sizable voids and adjust to the times by still celebrating the best among us and calling out the local asshats, while also providing resources as best we could to protesters, artists and service industry types in their times of need. Perhaps just coincidentally, 2020 was also by far our site’s most-trafficked year of all time — a tough thing to reconcile considering we pretty much entirely lost our advertising base due to the pandemic’s ravaging of our usual advertisers’ industries.

Lucky us, then, that we’re blessed with readers like you, who’ve stepped up to show their support of our efforts through the Patreon we launched in order to keep our lights in this trying year.

Yeah, 2020 sure was a year.

But, when we look back upon it at some point down the line, which moments will stand out above all others as the ones that shaped the city for years to come? As we’ve done before for the decade that preceded this past year, let’s take a chronological look at the 30 events that shaped Dallas the most over the course of 2020’s 12-month run of misery.

30 Moments That Defined Dallas In 2020:

The Leaning Tower Of Dallas Becomes An Icon Of Dallas Lore (February 16)

Oh, man. It’s hard to believe this even happened in 2020, but: For 15 glorious days in the Before Times, the Leaning Tower of Dallas totally consumed all Dallasites’ lives — well, until it finally toppled, anyway.

Was it roast-worthy? Absolutely.

Was it quickly appropriated as a monument to capitalism by its Richards Group neighbors across the street, who turned it into an ad for a casino via a hi-res projector? You bet.

Did its long stasis period ultimately foreshadow the seemingly endless limbo we’d all soon endure ourselves once the pandemic became a big deal in the states just a few weeks later? Bruh.

Photo by Carly May.

Former Democratic Presidential Candidates Fall In Line Behind Joe Biden (March 2)

The future President of the United States sealed his fate as the Democrats’ candidate of choice before a packed house on a Monday night in Dallas — one that just so happened to also be Super Tuesday Eve.

But the blue lens-colored glasses with which the ruling class viewed their prospects on this night couldn’t be helped from shoehorning some Beto O’Rourke-infused Texas pandering in the mix now, could they? Nope!

As we wrote at the time: “Of course the night couldn’t end without the Biden campaign’s document of a Whataburger run with O’Rourke, though. The former vice president ordered a milkshake and regular Whataburger with cheese. At the risk of editorializing, we at Central Track simply would have gone with the patty melt.”

In the end, we guess it all worked out for the Blue Team. (Mostly.)

The Dallas Mavericks’ Season Suddenly Gets Cut Short (March 11)

Watching it now, the look of shock on Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s face as he glanced at his phone and found out that the NBA had decided to put its season on indefinite pause (until the NBA Bubble, which we’ll get to later) was… well, it was kind of all of us!

As we wrote a few days later about this fateful night: “If SXSW’s Friday reveal was the harbinger, Wednesday was its tipping point. Within a few hours of one another, President Donald Trump announced a 30-day travel ban from Europe, the NCAA announced plans to host its annual men’s basketball tournament without fans (it would later all-out cancel not just that, but also all of its athletic endeavors for the rest of the academic year) and the NBA shared that it would be suspending its season for at least 30 days after all-star Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was “preliminarily tested positive” for the coronavirus.”

More than 10 months later, things still haven’t returned to normal — and they don’t appear as if they’re likely to do so anytime soon.

Folks, if you wanna see the moment when the zeitgeist ceded the floor to a new normal, this is it.

Lee Harvey’s owner Seth Smith. Photo by Chad Windham.

Local Officials Order Dallas Bars, Dine-In Restaurant Services Closed (March 16)

NBA game postponements notwithstanding, the coronavirus pandemic really hit close to home for many of us when Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson pretty much simultaneously ordered the closure of all restaurant dining rooms, bars, taverns, lounges, nightclubs, health clubs, gyms, arcades, theaters, billiard halls and music venues within Dallas County and Dallas city limits, respectively.

Almost a year later, none of these types of businesses have yet been allowed to return to full, 100 percent-capacity operations.

All the more reason to support them where you can, then: Here’s a list of 100-plus restaurants in town whose takeout offerings we personally cosign. Support local.

Hair Salon Owner Shelley Luther Takes A Stand (May 5)

As we wrote while naming Luther one of Dallas’ biggest asshats of 2020: “While many pushed back against Texas’ efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, few were as savvy in their opposition as Shelley Luther was. In May, she essentially dared the state to punish her by broadcasting her commitment to keeping her salon open despite regulations demanding she close up shop. Immediately upon her challenge, several top Texas Republicans… succumbed to their base’s support of Luther’s actions and backed down from their stances, prioritizing votes over potentially lost lives. The seven-day prison sentence Luther was issued for defying lockdown orders quickly ended after two short days — and, after going on Fox News to applaud her direct violation of his orders, Abbott further cucked by retroactively eliminating jail sentences for other offenders of his coronavirus-related directives.”

Alas, her attempts to spin her 15 minutes into a political career — an effort this noted lawbreaker unironically announced at a Back the Blue Rally — proved unsuccessful. But part of you has to admire her chutzpah, right? Right? RIGHT? Anyway, we’d love to check out her cover band sometime once all this pandemic stuff boils over!

Photo via Lizard Lounge’s Facebook.

Iconic Deep Ellum Venue Lizard Lounge Closes (May 9)

Thankfully, Dallas still hasn’t yet faced the complete reckoning that many other music scenes have had to in the wake of the pandemic.

We’re lucky, really, in the sense that most every touchstone venue in the Dallas music scene is still putting up a strong front and promising that it’ll still be around once things get back to normal — or, perhaps better put, once we establish a new normal and the protocols to go with it.

Of course, the obvious exception here is the loss of the iconic Lizard Lounge, which for more than 30 years welcomed Dallas’ biggest freaks into the safe and warm embrace of its dancefloor.

A forever trustworthy destination for EDM heads, goth obsessives and coming-of-age Dallasites ready to finally rebel, an especially sad part of Lizard Lounge’s loss revolves around the fact that the venue had just emerged from a 2019 in which it fought tooth and nail to ensure its long-term survival.

Alas, 2020 had other plans in mind. But history will surely forever look back kindly at a Deep Ellum venue that managed to consistently bring the weird and remain relevancy for more than three decades.

Photo by Shane McCormick.

Dallas’ Summer Of Protests Kicks Off Tensely And Looters Take Advantage (May 29)

It’s funny how things can flip on a dime, isn’t it? I was out covering the protests on this night — and, take this as you will but, as I’ve said from the jump, I distinctly remember the police being the initial aggressors on this night (and over the course of the next few days, for that matter).

Things started out peacefully with a rally featuring speakers at the Dallas Police Department’s Jack Evans Headquarters in The Cedars. From there, a march broke out — first moving toward South Dallas, then moving over toward Downtown Dallas before hypothetically looping back to its starting point. Things never got that far, though, as cops and protesters suddenly clashed at the intersection of Young and Griffin. There was a lot of shouting back and forth but at one point, protesters were lined up on one side of the street, sitting down cross-legged and facing a line of riot geared-up cops on the other.

In the blink of an eye, the cops then started moving on those peaceful activists. What followed was a blur of regrettable action on both sides — but worst of all was the destruction that back-and-forth inspired. Spurred on by the mayhem, some bad-intentioned folks took advantage of the situation and started ransacking and looting businesses in Deep Ellum and Downtown Dallas late on Friday and Saturday nights.

Those shortsighted few, for better or likely worse, provided all the debate ammo needed to those who felt these protesters’ demands for police reform were unfounded. As activists continued their fight for social justice in Dallas throughout the summer, their opponents simply pointed to the destruction caused on these initial protest nights as proof to the contrary, merited or no.

Life sucks like that a lot of the time.

Photo by Shane McCormick.

Protesters And Police Clash In A Warzone-Like Downtown Dallas Setting (May 30)

People don’t talk enough about how traumatic this day was. Whereas Friday was its kickoff and Monday was the climax of a wild first four days in a summer’s worth of social justice protests, Saturday was far and away the most frightening.

This was the day when cops fired a wooden bullet at a man blocks away from them and then were seen laughing as he writhed on the ground in pain. Just while working as a journalist documenting the events, I personally hit in the leg with a flash-bang and was twice directly tear-gassed on Dallas City Hall Plaza alone on this day. And the following skirmishes taking place throughout Downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum into the wee hours of Sunday morning were unrelenting. For more than 12 hours, the stank of tear gas wafted throughout the cavernous, street-level corridors of our city’s skyscrapers as protesters kept establishing new perimeters to make their voices heard and cops kept marching and firing upon them with seeming impunity.

It was authoritarian mayhem — and it was all sanctioned with Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall’s caught-on-audio OK.

Were the protesters at times overly aggressive? Sure. (Remember Machete Bro? That happened on this night.) On the other hand: If you’re out protesting police brutality, and hordes of police descended upon your position with their car sirens blaring and their tires screeching to a halt within 10 feet of you, and then those cars’ drivers hop out of their cars fully geared up and ready to rumble… I mean, wouldn’t you feel threatened?

In the days that followed, police would put out calls for information regarding the people they terrorized on this day. But, in the most bizarre nd fortunate turn of events, an unlikely ally came to the aid of the protesters: K-pop fans (of all people!) united to jam and crash DPD’s snitch app.

Which sounds like a happy ending until you remember how cops left people with lifelong crippling injuries thanks to their overreactions on this day.

Photo by Dylan Hollingsworth.

Police Arrest 674 Protesters On The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (June 1)

Hollywood couldn’t have scouted a better location for this showdown that would later come to be known as “the bridge incident.” Cops facing off against, firing upon and ultimately arresting 674 Dallas protesters on top of a big, well-lit city landmark? C’mon. Talk about a local news helicopter pilot’s dream.

While in the moment a true shitstorm in every aspect — the event was taking place after a curfew but outside of its enforcement zone; most protesters didn’t know the demonstration’s organizers were going to lead them onto the bridge; the police presence on the bridge, however, implied that they somehow did — the long-term fallout of this night would prove just as nasty.

For weeks — until we here at Central Track obtained and published an internal DPD document that proved otherwise — Chief Hall denied that any teargas had been fired upon the protesters (none of whom were eventually charged) on this night. That misstep pretty clearly lost her any support on Dallas City Council — and, just as bad from her standpoint, it only galvanized protesters across the city in their continued clamoring for police reform (and for Hall’s firing).

Proceedings Devolve Into A Shouting Match During An Eight-Hour Council Meeting Over Protest Response (June 5)

Looking for a cut-and-dry example of how poorly Dallas’ city government handled the concerns of its constituents in 2020? Look no farther.

In this marathon Friday night throw-down, our elected officials wanted answers about what happened at the police brutality protests in late May and early June — and particularly about “the bridge incident.” Did they get any? Not really! DPD’s Chief Hall mostly asked for patience and understanding in the face of their justified fire.

Honestly, did anything really come out of this beyond an airing of grievances? Beyond exasperation over local government inefficiencies? You tell us.

By the way, every single seat on city council is up for grabs in the May 1 municipal elections. Please vote.

Photo by Jeff Amador.

Activists Paint The Words “Black Lives Matter” On Dallas City Hall Plaza (June 8)

Was it painted in special chalk material that meant it would wash away as soon as the next rainstorm hit? Yes.

But, hey, the sentiment was right there in front of the faces of city government for at least a week or so before the rains came, right? And that’s something?

Oh, and because some people still need to hear this: Black lives absolutely matter, and this city still could do a better job of acknowledging that from time to time.

Temporary art installations, heartwarming as they may be to see, only account for so much.

A Judge Bans DPD Use Of Teargas And “Less-Lethal” Ammunition On Peaceful Protesters (June 11)

After months and months of extensions, this court-ordered temporary restraining order on DPD’s use of various weapons upon protesters has now finally expired, and both DPD and city attorneys say they plan to adopt some language along this ban’s lines into its own protocols.

But on the mid-June night when this TRO was first signed and news of it broke — after two weeks of tense faceoffs between cops and protesters across town — it knocked about a million tons of weight off of the city’s shoulders.

Which is nice and all, but here’s a question: Why does DPD need weapons like these at all? And, worse, why are so many funds directed toward their purchase?

Dallas’ 60-Foot-Tall Confederate Memorial Statue Finally Comes Down (June 24)

About fucking time, too!

Participation trophies are for lames. Only cowards champion monuments to racism.

Hey, suburbs: You’re on deck.

The Famed “Shredded Cheese Wife Guy” Incident (June 27)

When the walls fell around our society, a delightfully idiotic and tone-deaf man emerged from the rubble — and the world turned its gaze upon him.

For one glorious night, the ne’er-do-wells of Twitter — all of Twitter, it felt like — hyper-focused their ire upon one man who decided to publicly use said social medium to complain about the service he and his wife were receiving while out on a mid-pandemic, indoor date night. Seems their server was taking a while to bring the wife her request of some shredded cheese to go with her fajitas — and she simply would not eat her dinner without that darn cheese.

Paired with a Renaissance-like photo portraying the saddest wife you’ve ever seen, yes, of course it went viral.

That someone would so tone-deafly and publicly complain about service in the middle of a pandemic is one thing; but the fact that it all went down at a Mi Cocina in the north Dallas suburb of Allen was the real chef’s kiss of it all for locals eagerly jumping in on the fun of mocking the absurdity of it all.

The memes were legendary, and our surprise next-day interview with the culprit was wild. What a much-needed break this moment of levity was.

Fiesta Karen Goes Viral For Refusing To Wear Her Mask While Shopping For Groceries (June 27)

How embarrassing.

I just-.

For the record, Fiesta fucking rules.

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall Announces Her Resignation (June 28)

Following repeated public calls for her resignation or firing, Chief Hall took matters into her own hands and decided to bow out of the game amidst a summer filled with ongoing protests across the city.

Her departure wasn’t a surprise: She’d lost elected official and citizen trust alike after being caught in a lie about her department’s use of teargas during “the bridge incident” at the height of Dallas’ police brutality protests, and word always was that her department never really got behind her in the first place after her 2017 hiring.

As we wrote at the the time of her announcement, though: “While Hall’s critics will certainly count her resignation as a win, they should do so with caution: DPD remains as fucked as ever, and its own officers know it. True reform in Dallas policing remains a long ways off.” That remains the case.

The Dallas Morning News‘ Editorial Staff Announces Plans To Unionize (July 20)

Following national trends, the Dallas Morning News‘ editorial staff announced its intentions to become Texas’ first newspaper union in more than 50 years — and succeeded in its efforts. The staff at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram pretty much immediately, and also successfully, followed suit. Now the Austin American-Statesman staff is looking to do the same.

In a media landscape that saw a lot of turnover in 2020, these newsrooms’ intentional efforts toward maintaining input in their industry’s product was a welcome development indeed.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Leads Day Of Fasting And Prayer For Eradication Of Coronavirus (August 19)

In a year filled with curious missteps from our city’s most prominent figurehead, this one somehow manages to stand out.

Meanwhile, the pandemic still rages on. So, OK: What’s going on here? This dude think he’s Kenneth Copeland, or something?

Luka Doncic Arrives As A Legitimate NBA Star By Knocking Down A Playoff Buzzer-Beater In The Disney Bubble (August 23)


No, the Mavs might not have won this series, but talk about a moment to hang your hat on for playoff runs to come in the Slovenian’s bright future career, right?

(Also: Luka bought his first Dallas house this year, just a few months after this moment. We think that means he likes it here! Yay!)

Photo by Vera Velma.

Power Trip Frontman Riley Gale Tragically Passes Away At 34 Years Old (August 25)

In a year already filled with despair, the surprise news of the gregarious Power Trip’s passing came as a wholly unforeseen gut-punch.

It can’t be overstated how devastating a loss this was not just locally but to the global metal and hardcore communities. Hell, despite his outspoken advocacy for marginalized communities, even Fox News mourned Riley’s death.

Here’s what we had to say at the time of Gale’s death: “An unbelievably compelling live performer, Gale reveled in serving as the hell-raising master of ceremony at his band’s uniquely chaotic — sometimes too chaotic — live showcases. After forming in 2008 from the ashes of some earlier upstart acts, Power Trip expediently rose through the Texas ranks to become among the most acclaimed metal bands in the world, eventually sharing the stage with every legendary metal act in the world not named Metallica, Slayer or Megadeth. When the band won the “Metal Song of the Year” award for its song “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” at the 2017 Loudwire Music Awards — beating out some tough competition for the honors, including Pallbearer, Body Count, Obituary, DragonForce and Municipal Waste — Gale accepted the award with a warning to gatekeepers in the scene the world over about Power Trip’s arrival: ‘Watch out old timers; we’re here.'”

Gale will be insanely missed.

On Dallas’ 100th Day Of Police Brutality Activism, Counter-Protesters At A Downtown MAGA Rally Are Attacked — And Then Arrested (September 5)

Whereas Chief Hall’s resignation announcement a few weeks prior had signaled to protesters that maybe their pleas were being heard, the 100th day of continuous police brutality protesting in Dallas was a stark reminder of just how far things still have to go in the name of progress.

Here’s how we described the day’s activity at the time: “Shortly after 11 a.m. — at a “Rescue America” rally held at Main Street Garden Park that was promoting trying to “take our country back from radical leftists” — Next Generation Action Network president Dominique Alexander was aggressively taken to the ground by a security guard while counter-protesting the event and getting into a confrontation with one of its attendees. (Clear footage of the build-up to this altercation can be seen here.) Attendees of the rally then sprayed pepper spray on and aimed guns at the people who rushed to Alexander’s aid. Alexander was later arrested by Dallas Police.”

After battling the heat all summer long, this turn of events came just as much as an emotional beatdown as a clear physical one. Within a few weeks, the continuous streak of daily protest activity in Dallas would peter out after a run of more than 125 consecutive days.

Goalie Anton Khudobin Enters Dallas Sports Lore By Promising His Fellow Dallas Stars Players “We’re Not Going Home!” Amidst Team’s Surprise Run To Stanley Cup Final (September 14)

No. 35 in your programs, but No. 1 in our hearts, Dallas Stars goalie Anton Khudobin cemented his place in Dallas sports history by carrying his team to the Stanley Cup Final and flashing plenty of his patented, meme-able charm along the way.

As we wrote while deeming the Kazakhstan-born goalie one of our Dallasites of 2020: “Few could have foreseen this year’s Dallas Stars lineup offering area sports fans the deepest playoff run this city has seen since 2011 — or that the team’s Kazakhstan-born backup goalie would be the driving force behind its first Stanley Cup Final trip in 20 years. But with starting netminder Ben Bishop injured and usual top goal-scorer Tyler Seguin hampered by his own physical issues, the man they call “Dobby” (he dons a nod to the Harry Potter character of the same name on his helmet) rose to the occasion, posting a 2.69 playoff goals-against average and wholly embodying the team’s “We’re not going home!” mentality.”

It must be said: The Stars’ highly entertaining playoff run really provided Dallasites with a welcome bit of escapism as we collectively rounded the six-month mark of lockdowns. As we onlookers and fans were all stuck at home, it was truly inspiring to watch this personable roster refuse to join us in our misery.

For a spell there, the Stars really were Dallas’ lone set of footprints in the sand, huh? — PF

Dallas City Council Chooses Not To Defund DPD, But Rather Increases Overall Police Budget (September 23)

After months of protests and months of debates, where did Dallas eventually fall on the notion of “defunding” the police?

Here’s how we broke down the city’s annual budget sign-off at the time: “While the new $1.4 billion general revenue budget does include a $7 million cut to the $24 million previously set aside for police overtime pay — that money will now be redistributed to various other efforts, most notably through the hiring of civilians to take over desk job responsibilities from uniformed officers — overall police spending in Dallas actually increase by $8 million in 2021. In voting to raise DPD’s annual budget from $501 million to $509 million, council seems to have ignored its promises from earlier in the summer, when 10 of 14 council members signed a letter promising to explore police reform through budgetary cuts.”

Some things never change in this city, huh?

Dallas Advertising Giant The Richards Group Has Its Day Of Reckoning As Its Founder’s Racist Comments Go Viral (October 8)

Shit hit the fan for the biggest advertising agency in town — and the largest independent such agency in the nation — when the company’s 88-year-old founder and namesake described one of his employees’ newly proposed Motel 6 ad spot ideas as being “too Black” for the motel operator’s “white supremacist constituents.”

The fallout was immediate.

Big-money clients left the company en masse. The famously hands-on Richards was forced into an “early” retirement. Layoffs ensued. Business models were thrown out the window by the dozens of boutique agencies that have become dependent over the years on the Richards Group farming some work out their way.

The reverberations of this one are still playing out, frankly. And while there’s enough talent and clout in this town for some form of the Dallas ad world to survive this sudden implosion, we could very well look back years from now at October 8, 2020, as the day this world’s foundation was irreparably cracked.

Dak Prescott Goes Down For The Year And The Dallas Cowboys’ Season Goes Up In Smoke (October 11)

In the blink of an eye, another potentially promising Dallas Cowboys season turned into another frustrating embarrassment.

Cowboys fans are in a bad place right now, y’all. When they’re not being memed, they’re self-owning themselves by shooting up their own TVs.

As if it wasn’t already known prior to his gruesome injury, Prescott is one of the few bright spots this franchise has left.

Just pay the man already, Jerry.

Dallas Rapper Mo3 Is Tragically Killed In A Targeted Shooting In Traffic On I-30 (November 11)

Just as local TV news stations and elected officials were starting to openly worry about the city’s annual murder counts, the highest-profile killing of the year took place under dubious circumstances.

As we wrote at the time: “According to a press release from DPD, the shooting took place when an unknown suspect approached [Dallas rapper Mo3’s car], leading to the victim running southbound on the freeway as the gunman let out several shots. A second victim — an innocent bystander — was also struck and taken to the hospital, but is not believed to have life-threatening injuries.”

The death rocked the local and national rap scenes alike, as Mo3 had long been buzzing as one of the more successful regional rappers around — and, perhaps frustratingly, a performer intent on cultivating a reputation as a man not likely to back down from a challenge.

Rumors of the motivation behind the hit still fly, but this much is undoubted: Mo3’s cultural contributions, and the way in which he met his end, will be legend around these parts for years to come.

The Owner Of Dallas’ True Kitchen Goes Viral With Rant About Race And Appropriate Restaurant Behavior (November 29)

In late November, a packed Dallas restaurant went viral — and not, weirdly, just due to the fact that it was, y’know, packed despite us all being in the middle of a pandemic!

Here’s what happened: The owner of a Downtown Dallas restaurant was caught on camera chastising some brunch service guests because he didn’t like them twerking to the music that a DJ he’d booked was playing. Then a whole can of worms was opened once the video started making the rounds on Twitter, and a debate over race and cultural ownership ensued. (For those playing at home, both the restaurant owner and guests in this scenario happened to be Black.)

At the time, we described the crux of it all like this: “Though it was saturated with memes, the internet [chatter] sparked a greater conversation. Who decides the culture: ownership or the people? Is one gatekeeping more than the other?”

Interesting stuff, if spurred by a moment in which no one really came off looking particularly great. Yay?

After Years Of Complaints, Workers Finally Begin Dismantling And Removing Southeast Dallas’ “Shingle Mountain” (December 17)

In 2018, a recycling company purchased a plot of land in southeast Dallas and, basically, they turned it into a literal dump. Specifically, they used it to store discarded roofing materials — shingles, mainly.

And boy did they: Before long, this pile of asphalt had grown into a 60-foot-tall behemoth that would come to be colloquially known as “Shingle Mountain.”

Here’s the issue: In a blatant disregard for zoning, this mountain was set adjacent to residential properties — and, as residents started to complain of headaches they’d never experienced prior to the shingles’ arrival, city officials didn’t exactly spring into action to right any wrongdoings.

Fortunately, that finally changed in mid-December as the company that owns the lot finally began its clean-up process.

Will Dallas learn any lessons from this? Probably not! Remember: There’s still a whole-ass neighborhood in this city without running water.

Eddie Garcia Is Named Dallas’ First Latinx Police Chief (December 23)

One in a whole roster of new police chiefs now running the departments in each of North Texas’ three biggest cities, the Puerto Rican-born, bilingual Dallas Cowboys fan now tasked with running DPD comes to our city after almost three decades of service in San Jose, where he also served as chief.

When we first reported on the hire of Garcia, DPD’s first-ever Latinx chief, we covered a lot of ground as far as his backstory and policty stances. Here’s just the fun stuff: “Garcia certainly feels like a modern police chief (whatever that means), although he should really get on updating his Twitter handle ASAP. Looking back on his time with SJPD during his last day on the job earlier this month, Garcia tweeted out a Steve Jobs quote about leadership. The latest in an increasingly long line of Californians to flock to Texas, he is also an avid CrossFit fan — to the point where he was jokingly referred to as the “bro” chief. Say what you will about that, but: Dude is absolutely yoked. (He also has three children and a wife who works in the media.)”

Also: Did we mention he’s a Cowboys fan?

All DFW Airport And Love Field Flights Are Grounded As Coronavirus Spreads To Air Control Staff, Delaying Hundreds Of Flights Nationwide (December 30)

Because 2020 had no mercy whatsoever, it had no problem at all dropping this bonkers moment into the fire right before the calendar cut-off point.

Here’s the lowdown of what happened: “In a statement provided to NBC 5, the Federal Aviation Administration blamed multiple reasons for the delays, among them thunderstorms and COVID-19. The TV news station also reports that at least one pilot told the passengers on his about-to-take-off flight that ‘the control tower was not operating due to COVID-19 and that it could be several hours before flights are allowed to leave’… The FAA’s own coronavirus dashboard states that the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center has reported at least three positive COVID-19 test results among its employee in the past eight days — on December 23, December 28 and even just today on December 30. It is believed that this air control tower’s issues on this front could be the root of the delays; the FAA dashboard also shows that the facility already had one scheduled cleaning for the coronavirus at 3 p.m. today, and that it has another scheduled for 5:30 p.m.”

In the end, planes weren’t able to fly over North Texas airspace for a whole two hours, leading to hundreds of flight delayed across the country. It happened all of a sudden — boom, out of nowhere, just like that.

The flight radar screen-shots (seen above) really illustrate the jaw-dropping nature of the situation better than any words can.

A fittingly wild finale to a year plagued by the pandemic, indeed.

* * * * *

Can’t say we’ll miss you, 2020. Here’s hoping all roads lead to brighter futures in the years to come.

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