Deep Ellum: The Neighborhood that Refuses to Die

May 15, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

By Fernando Valdes

Barry Annino, president of The Deep Ellum Foundation, moved to Deep Ellum during its heydays in the 1990s. Annino saw Deep Ellum thrive. He remembers having a Deep Ellum MasterCard, starting the Deep Ellum Film Festival and driving through a graffiti covered tunnel to enter the neighborhood.

Today, none of those things exist.

Deep Ellum was once one of the most vibrant entertainment districts in Texas, known for its rich history, live music venues and restaurants. Today, after having survived a major downfall, Deep Ellum is once again transforming into an integral piece of Dallas city life.

During the mid 2000s, Deep Ellum became plagued with crime and saw many tenants go out of business. The decline of Deep Ellum led to the abandonment of the neighborhood. Empty streets and vacant buildings filled the landscape.

Many residents and loyal visitors knew the community had gone through this before and would once again revive itself. Today, community residents and organizations, such as The Deep Ellum Foundation, are working hard to give the streets of Deep Ellum new life.

“It’s booming now and thriving and going on its own,” said Kayce Phy, a Deep Ellum resident for more than 12 years.

The green line of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has helped improve the neighborhood by connecting Deep Ellum to Downtown and other parts of the city. This has alleviated parking issues and brought more visitors to the area.

According to Paula Ramirez, a Deep Ellum resident and a member of the Deep Ellum Enrichment Project (DEEP), the streets are no longer desolate during the day. Ramirez has seen an influx of people walking in the streets and enjoying the neighborhood.

During the past year, many new businesses have sprung up in Deep Ellum. Several iconic restaurants, bars and music venues, such as Trees and Club Dada, have also reopened.

Mike Turley, co-owner of Serious Pizza, is one of many business owners who decided to open their new restaurants in Deep Ellum. After searching around the country for the perfect location, the Orlando native and his business partner, Andrew Phillips, discovered Deep Ellum and immediately knew they had found the perfect location.

According to Turley, the culture of the neighborhood combined with the cheap rent sold them on the neighborhood.

“Deep Ellum has been a great time,” said Turley. “The community is awesome.”

According to Annino, restaurants, bars and music venues are opening in Deep Ellum because the rent is cheap and it is conveniently located close to downtown, Baylor Medical Hospital and a major police department center.

Additionally, Annino said venues will benefit from the plans the City of Dallas has to improve Deep Ellum. The city has proposed making all streets two-way streets, widening all of the sidewalks and adding more benches and trees around the neighborhood. This will allow restaurants and bars to have patios on sidewalks. It will also make streets pedestrian friendly and slow traffic down exponentially.

Although Deep Ellum is well known for its nightlife and restaurants, visitors sometimes overlook another aspect of the neighborhood.

“People are going to realize people actually live here,” said Ramirez. “It’s not just bars. There is a community.”

Members of the community have been putting in the work necessary to revive Deep Ellum and make it a unique and vibrant place to be.

“People talk about Brooklyn, they talk of these neighborhoods, like cities it reminds them of, but they can’t say they have the closeness of their neighbors like they have right here,” said Phy.

The 170-acre community, which houses nearly 2,000 residents, is mostly comprised of people in their 20s and 30s who are looking for an inexpensive, diverse neighborhood near downtown Dallas.

Inside the walls of Deep Ellum, you will find people brimming with creativity. The neighborhood has always been known for its diverse and eclectic artists.

“There’s a lot of talent here,” Annino said. “It’s not a sophisticated talent in that it’s not a rich group; there’s not a lot of money necessarily… but they do what they do special. You can see it in the art, the pillars, the music.”

The residents of Deep Ellum know their neighborhood has a history of ups and downs. During the 1920s, Deep Ellum was known as one of the premier areas for jazz and blues musicians in the South. Several iconic artists, such as Blind Lemmon Jefferson and Bessie Smith, played in clubs all over the neighborhood.

By the time World War II ended, the city had expanded and Deep Ellum had lost many iconic music venues and nightclubs. Slowly, the residents moved out of the neighborhood and Deep Ellum became a warehouse district.

Deep Ellum came roaring back to life in the 1990s, when it became known as Dallas’ liveliest entertainment district. By 1991, the neighborhood had 57 bars and nightclubs. Artists from all over the country started to book performances in the area.

But once again, crime, zoning restrictions and the rise of other entertainment districts led to the decline of Deep Ellum.

History seems to be repeating itself. Residents and enthusiasts say Deep Ellum has a bright future.

“The city is making a lot of changes,” said Phy. “I think it would be hard to tear apart the love that this community has for the actual history and for what we all together see as the future.”

Dalai Lama Visits SMU, Receives Honorary Degree

May 9, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Praveen Sathianathan

His Holiness the Dalai Lama told an audience of 2,000 high school and college students Monday afternoon at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium, that they are the ones who can shape the future.

“Young people belong to the 21st century, you can make this century, peaceful and democratic,” the Dalai Lama said.

Wearing a traditional maroon and saffron monk’s robe and at times a red SMU baseball hat with a Mustang on it, the revered head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet, spoke about democracy, responsibility and his optimism for a free Tibet as part of university’s 10th Hart Global Leaders Forum. He also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from SMU.

“Basically we are the same human being. Different faith, different race, different language, even different culture,” he said. “Everyone has the right to achieve happiness.”

He advised the audience to celebrate their commonalities and unify.

“When we come from mother’s womb, no difference of nationality, no difference of religion, no difference of culture,” he said.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for using non-violent methods in his opposition to Chinese rule in Tibet.

“The world belongs to humanity, not to kings or spiritual leaders,” he said. “Each country belongs to the people of that country.”

He said the U.S. belongs to 300 million people and not to any one political party.

His Holiness then praised the country for being a champion of democracy, freedom and liberty, but later said, “Democracy is not an American possession, it is universal,” citing India and Japan.

Acknowledging Laura Bush, who was seated in the front row, he then talked about George W. Bush’s policies as sometimes giving him “reservations,” but that the former president’s motivations were “excellent.”

He also stressed the importance of education to the students, who represented 45 Dallas schools.

“Education must be broad and holistic,” he said. “Your mind must be calm. Too much emotion and you can’t see the reality.”

He also told the audience that he became the 14th spiritual leader at age 2 by recognizing and reciting scriptures of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama. He described the search process and then discussed the optimism he felt toward his country.

He said in the last two years more than 1000 articles were written by the Chinese on Tibet “all supporting our way” and criticizing the government.

The Dalai Lama took over political leadership of Tibet in 1950, after China’s attack on the Himalayan nation, but was forced into exile nine years later.

Since his exile, his Holiness has visited more than 62 countries spreading his message of peace. He is the recipient of 84 awards and honorary degrees and has authored more than 70 books.

In mid-March, the 75-year-old leader said that he will retire as head of state for the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Dallas resident Poonam Shah said the Dalai Lama’s message of peace and compassion is easy to follow, but sometimes lost by people’s daily lives.

“The beauty of what he said is that these things are so simple, they are right there in front of us, but a lot of us are so engrossed in out lives that we don’t realize that it is just that simple as that,” she said. “All we need is to be a friend and develop trust in yourself and others and vice versa and just be nice.”

Jasmin Roman, graduate student in engineering management who attended the forum, said she has the pocket Dalai Lama book at work and reads it when she is having a tough day.

“This has been one of my life dreams. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “Being in his presence, his holiness and his spirit touches you in a way. I have a final tomorrow and I knew this would re-center me and re-energize me and the good karma would come back in and I feel that now. I’m ready to study for another 12 hours!”

The stop at SMU was part of the Dalai Lama’s five-state U.S. visit. According to his website the next stop on his itinerary is the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

The Hart Global Leaders Forum is dedicated to turning younger generations into accountable, ethical beings, is sponsored by gifts from Mitch and Linda Hart.

Linda Hart, an aluma of SMU Dedman School of Law, said the forum may have “reached a pinnacle in global leaders by bringing his Holiness to SMU.”

Previous speakers for the Leaders program have included former Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Video By Fernando Valdes

McDonald’s Corp. Holds National Hiring Day

May 9, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Meredith Carlton

Juan Hernandez seems like a typical McDonald’s employee. He knows the fast paced environment of the company, interacts well with others and has memorized the regulars’ orders. However, this wasn’t always the case.

“I’m not a fast food person,” Hernandez, who works for a McDonald’s in Irving, said. “I just knew the basics, McDonald’s and the happy meal.”

Hernandez applied for a job at the fast food giant in Irving in July 2010, but within four months, he had worked his way up to a crew trainer position. Now thousands of other people may get the same shot.

McDonald’s Corp. held its first national hiring day on April 19, hoping to hire 50,000 new employees across the United States. In an effort to keep up with increased business and new menu additions that require more employees, they felt this was the perfect opportunity.

Behind the counter at McDonald's. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

“The reason we’re doing this is because we want to staff our restaurants,” Mike Ray, the director of operations for the greater Southwest and Houston regions, said. “To be able to continue to grow the business, we need great people in our restaurants.”

The Dallas/Fort-Worth area McDonald’s were hoping to hire between 1,200-1,400 new employees, officials said. Although specific numbers on the area are not yet available, Nicole Neal, McDonald’s communications manager for the Greater Southwest Region, said the region, comprised of North Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and parts of Northwest Arkansas, received more than 31,000 applications, conducted more than 23,000 interviews and hired 2,979 new managers and crew.

However, the number of hires per store would be based on each store’s staffing needs analysis, which tells owners how many employees they need to hire based on their turnover and the current number of staff members.

Ray started his employment at McDonald’s 25 years ago as a security manager for the Southeast United States and the Caribbean. Since then, he’s had the opportunity to go into an accelerated management program and ended in the position he holds today.

The McDonald’s at 8435 North Belt Line Road in Irving was just one of many McDonald’s across the country that held a special hiring day.

Hernandez, a crew trainer at the restaurant, and his black-shirted counterparts across the nation are responsible for making sure new crewmembers know the proper protocol and procedures of the restaurant. These positions are vital to McDonald’s success, teaching employees things such as how to keep the kitchen clean and deliver a fresh meal in less than 90 seconds.

As summer approaches, Hernandez and other crew trainers typically have a handful of employees to take under their wing. This usually happens at different times throughout the country, but this year things have changed because of the hiring day.

Texas has kept its unemployment rate at or below the national rate for the last few years, during the worst of the recession, and the economy appears to be slowly recovering. In March, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, down .1 percent from February and .7 percent below the national rate. Because of this, McDonald’s jobs are believed to be beneficial to the area.

“We have such a diverse and competent work force,” Herbert Gears, mayor of Irving, said in an interview. He visited the Irving McDonalds on the national hiring day to promote the hiring and to give the restaurant an award. “We’re known for that, which is part of the reason why we’re the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.”

However, according to Dr. Dale Boisso, SMU adjunct economics professor, unemployment is especially high for persons with less than a college education and those older (40+) who have been laid off. He believes the jobs are a double-edged sword.

“Some jobs are better than none,” he said. “However, it is unfortunate our economy seems to be generating low-skill work, regression into a service-oriented verses a manufacturing economy.”

Others believe the jobs are marketed to a certain group of people.

“Most of these jobs will go to people who are just starting in the labor force,” Dr. Nathan Balke, SMU professor of economics, said. “This is a very important time in their labor market careers.”

According to, the average salary for these 50,000 jobs is $8.30, a little above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. If all 50,000 people were hired as fulltime positions, it would put about $863 million into the hands of people that may be currently making less or, nothing at all.

“Just based on those raw numbers, that’s an additional billion dollars into the economy on an annual basis, and that’s just McDonald’s,” said Simon Mak, SMU adjunct lecturer and assoc. director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship.

“I anticipate that employment growth will start picking up,” Balke said. “Maybe this is a signal of what’s happening.”

Stories like Ray’s and Hernandez’s of working up the hiring ladder aren’t uncommon. Officials said 75 percent of managers and 50 percent of all owner/operators at McDonald’s started as crew members. Even Jan Fields, McDonald’s own president, started as a crewmember.

Critics have said hiring 50,000 people in one day could only mean one thing—a publicity stunt—but Jeffrey Smith, owner and operator of four Texas locations, said the sales tell it all.

“Our sales dictate that for us to be able to meet the needs of our customers, we have to hire more people.”

Although some might believe a potential job for these 50,000 people, will be just that, Hernandez knows it ends up to be more.

“Some people think I do it just because I need the money,” he said. “But I just like it.”

VIDEO: Is Yoga Straying Too Far From its Origins?

May 6, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Wesleigh Ogle

Hot yoga, prenatal yoga, laughing yoga, even mouth yoga. Some Hindus are concerned that this ancient religious practice is straying too far from its origins.

Yoga is a Sanskrit term meaning, “to unite” the body with the mind, or the individual with the godhead. However, modern yoga is transforming into something different.

“It’s the time of the day when I can take all of my focus and take it from the outside and put it on myself,” said yoga student Lauren Mishoe.

Yoga became a secular workout in the 19th century when British presence in India put an emphasis on strong, vigorous bodies.

“Yoga transformed itself in the popular consciousness as being a practice of health and well being, and started to become in that way less religious,” said SMU religious studies professor Steven Lindquist.

Although both forms share values of healthier bodies and minds, they differ in their end goals. Westerners seek reduced stress, flexibility and muscle strength, while Hindus are looking for ultimate realization.

“It’s a way to get closer to God, it’s a way to understand your position in the universe,” said Lindquist.

However, some Hindus are concerned that modern yoga is straying too far from its traditional form.

“For some, it’s an issue of cultural pride, it’s an issue of maintaining their cultural heritage,” said Lindquist.

But secular yoga students, like Lauren, don’t see it that way.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem, I think it’s a different kind of experience. I’m not a very spiritual person, so, for me, this is a different kind of spirituality,” she said.

“I think we’ve come a long way as far as knowing what exercises are good for your body. I think that I can create stuff that’s good or better than it was done a hundred years ago,” said yoga instructor Bryan Robbins.

Some Hindus are also concerned about charging a fee for yoga, because they say spirituality should not be sold. But Lindquist says it’s not a problem unless the motivation is solely profit and greed.

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Students Begin Preparing for Finals

May 3, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Photos By Elizabeth Erickson

Finals week is upon us and students can be seen in Fondren Library cramming. With classes ending May 2 and no reading days, students started studying for their finals which start May 4. Check out what Fondren, and most of campus, will be looking like for the rest of the week.

SMU Students Speak Out On Bin Laden’s Death

May 2, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Shana Ray

With a 24-hour period to let the shocking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death resonate with the SMU student body, various opinions arise.

Freshman Parminder Deo was behind his computer when he first got the news.

“I felt an immediate sense of relief and happiness for the innocent families who will finally receive some sense of closure,” Deo said.

Deo also said he understood that our battle with terrorism was not over, but showed no signs of nervousness.

“It’s America and we can handle it, when we set our minds to something we do it,” Deo said.

The death of Bin Laden marks a historic time. Many people are elated with the news and some seem to take a different approach to the situation.

Senior Darren Baucham who was not fond of the idea of rejoicing over someone’s death.

“I would be more comfortable if they arrested him and had a trial, that is more justifiable than murder,” said Baucham. “Regardless of what he did it is not our right to judge.”

Baucham felt it was not just for the life of another person to be taken away and it certainly is wrong to celebrate.

“I value life more than anything,” he said.

Freshman Chris Chung agreed with Baucham on disapproving of the idea of celebrating death.

“I don’t think death is the best solution for anything, Bin Laden killed thousands of people, but he has family too,” Chung said.

He was definitely not sad and even glad that another terrorist threat is gone and unable to do anymore harm. He believes the U.S will handle any difficulties relating to an aftermath but there is a need for greater security.

Sophomore Erica Murphy, however, reveals that she was shocked and in complete disbelief.

“America had to do what was best for our country, however, I don’t feel like we can kill him and terrorism is all over,” Murphy said.

Whether you believe the killing of Bin Laden was justified, or you are strongly against America’s decision, we cannot ignore the future implications this has for our country. We are definitly headed on an unknown journey and the end did not come with the killing of one man. We have a much bigger battle ahead of us, and whether we want to or not America has to be ready.

Shana Ray is a communications student at Southern Methodist University.

Tina Brown’s Tate Lecture Cancelled

May 2, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

By Aida Ahmed

UPDATED: MAY 4 10:05 A.M.

The Tina Brown Tate Lacerte Family Lecture has been rescheduled for May 11. It will be the final event for the 2010-2011 Tate Lecture Series.

The lecture will begin at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium and tickets for the May 3 lecture will be honored.

The Tate Lecture schedule for 2011-2012 will also be announced.

SMU News and Communications announced Monday that the Tate Lecture scheduled for May 3 has been cancelled.

Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek and founder of The Daily Beast, is unable to travel to Dallas for the lecture because of breaking news on the death of Osama bin Laden. The lecture will be rescheduled and announced soon.

Tickets for the May 3 lecture will be honored on the rescheduled date.

For more information visit the Tate website.

The Daily Update

May 2, 2011 by · Comments Off 

North Texans gather outside President George W. Bush’s home to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden and Texas prisoners may be getting a new kind of health care. A mustang football player is taking on some new skin and Texas high school football is getting a bigger area, literally. All this and more on your Daily Update.

Locals Gather at Former President Bush’s Home to Celebrate Bin Laden’s Death

May 1, 2011 by · 134 Comments 

By Daily Mustang Staff

SMU students and other Dallasites held posters Sunday night in front of former President George W. Bush’s home in Dallas thanking him for his dedication to the country after news of Osama bin Laden’s death hit the news.

The home on Daria Place in Preston Hollow, about a mile north of SMU, was a meeting place for Bush fans and those celebrating the death of man who the U.S. government holds responsible for the worst terrorist act on American soil.

Visitors waved American flags and held signs like one that read “President Obama forgot to say…’Thank You President Bush!’” Others began to chant “U.S.A.” and some even brought red and blue balloons to hang on the gate of the residence.

Dallasites celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden in front of the residence of former President George W. Bush Sunday night. (PHOTO BY STUART PALLEY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

In an e-mail statement released by the office of President George W. Bush he said:

“Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

Check the Daily Mustang for updates and follow us on Twitter.

SMU Rides: On the Road to Success

April 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Katie Simpson

After a major shift in management last June, SMU Rides has undergone substantial changes.

Originally the program was run by members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) service fraternity. It was created on a volunteer basis and was funded by the Student Senate. The idea was that any student could call the SMU Rides hotline on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and would be provided with transportation back to campus, entirely paid for by the university. Student volunteers would take ride requests from callers and then forward the information to SMU Rides’ partner company, Executive Taxi.

“The idea of SMU Rides is great,” said former volunteer Celine Haikal. “It offers a free ride back to SMU or a student’s apartment to ensure students have a way to get home safely.”

Although the idea may have been a good one, it had never been properly executed. Before undergoing the recent reconstruction of the program, SMU Rides had proven to be less than dependable. The program had three main issues that needed to be addressed.

First was the problem of understaffing of both the volunteers who received the calls and the number of cab drivers available.

“APO did not have the time SMU Rides needed, and because there is such a quick turnover from officer to officer in APO, it was hard for the SMU Rides Chair to keep up with the details about [the program],” recalled Haikal.

Sophomore Tashika Varma reported having called the service twice last year; both times no one picked up.

“I think they should maybe have more drivers. Also they need a better answering system so that even if they can’t pick up every person who calls, it doesn’t come across to students as if they’re not doing their job,” said Varma.

Staffing issues weren’t the only concern the program was experiencing. According to Mark Rhodes, the current director of SMU Rides, students had been abusing the service since day one. Instead of asking for a ride back to campus, they were using the program to hop from bar to bar and with no proper documentation, it was hard to prevent this from occurring.

Now under Park n’ Pony’s management, SMU Rides has revamped its service to ensure the program is no longer taken advantage of.

It does still uphold its guarantee that the program has no connection with the SMU police. It is completely confidential and students will never be asked any questions about their night.

However, the new rule is that upon pickup students are now required to give their names, student ID cards, as well as their drop off location. This is to ensure that the service is used for the right reasons.

“The program is not a drop cab,” Rhodes said, “It’s an emergency ride home.”

The last issue was the lack of awareness within the student body.

“I think I’ve heard the name before, but I have no idea what the service does,” said SMU junior Clare Viglione.

SMU Rides now promotes itself all over campus. Along with a banner ad posted on the Park ‘N Pony website, it also places business cards in campus mailboxes and sends out e-mails to the entire university.

“If you need to get back to campus we’ll get you here, we’ll send a cab for you and we’ll bring you home,” said Rhodes.

“On a good night we got three calls,” Haikal recalls the state of the program before the changes took place.

But with over 280 calls last fall, SMU Rides is finally on the road toward success.

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