Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Propaganda Panther Rocks Tonight With J.D. Granger's Big Dose Of Hubris

I think I may have mentioned previously that after I  moved to Texas I became a fan of propaganda. I'd never really had the opportunity to witness hyperbolic propaganda up close and in person before, til Texas.

I tell you, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and its step-child,, could have taught the old Soviet Union and Pravda, a thing or two about making their citizens think they are living in Paradise on Earth.

The Soviet Union was able to fool the Soviet people for a long long time, in part, by controlling what the people knew of the world outside the Soviet Union. Controlling what their people knew of the rest of the world became increasingly difficult for the Soviets, and eventually impossible.

When I first experienced Star-Telegram propaganda I was totally perplexed, with me thinking is propagandizing this stuff based on knowing the majority of its readers have not been out of the Soviet Union, I mean, Fort Worth?

For example, soon after my arrival in Texas, the Star-Telegram acted as a cheerleader for a public works project called the Santa Fe Rail Market, touting it as modeled after Seattle's Pike Place Market and public markets in Europe. And that it would be the first public market in Texas.

This, to me, set a very high bar, but, at that point in time, I was open minded, did not realize the extent to which the Star-Telegram will actually out and out lie to its readers. When I visited the Santa Fe Rail Market soon after it opened, I was appalled to find it bore no resemblance to Pike Place. It was more like a really sad food court, with shops, one might find in a bad mall in a small town.

And it was not even the first public market in Fort Worth, let alone Texas!

And then there was the propaganda the Star-Telegram foisted in its readers regarding the Cabela's sporting goods store. Over and over again, in article after article, the Star-Telegram told its readers that this sporting goods store would be the #1 tourist attraction in Texas.

Within 6 months of opening, not only was the Fort Worth Cabela's not only not the #1 tourist attraction in Texas, it was not the only Cabela's in Texas, and eventually the Fort Worth Cabela's was not even the only Cabela's in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Have you read a mea culpa in the Star-Telegram regarding their part in the Cabela's scam?

And then there is the Trinity River Vision. When the Star-Telegram first brought this vision to its reader's attention a huge headline announced that this project would turn Fort Worth into the Vancouver of the South.

Vancouver of the South? I remember thinking has no one working on the Star-Telegram been to either of the northern Vancouvers? Nothing could possibly be done to Fort Worth to make it even remotely resemble one of the Vancouvers of the north. Both Vancouvers have big rivers rolling through town that dwarf the Trinity River ditch, with the Washington Vancouver rolling the Columbia and the British Columbia Vancouver rolling the Fraser. The B.C. Vancouver is in one of the most scenic city settings in the world. Surrounded by water, with mountains.

The original vision of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle conjured images of canals, of riverwalks, of a big lake. The original vision made no mention of wakeboard parks, inner tubing happy hour parties, drive-in movie theaters or restaurants.

But, now in 2013, over a decade since this bizarre project was foisted on the public, who had no voting say in the matter, all we can see of the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle is the Cowtown Wakepark, Coyote Drive-In, Woodshed Smokehouse and Rockin' the River Happy Hour Inner Tube Floats at Panther Island.

Panther Island brings us back to At the top you are looking at the cover of this week's ink edition of

The propaganda starts on the cover with the headline "The Panther rocks tonight" with a sub-headline of "A barren patch of earth along the Trinity River has become Fort Worth's unlikely music mecca. We chart the rise of Panther Island Pavilion."

The above propaganda leads to the feature article in this week's, titled "The rise of Panther Island Pavilion."

First off,  pavilion seems a rather grandiose term to use to describe the nondescript bandshells being touted.

Panther Island? But, there is no island. That's fine. With propaganda you just make up stuff. It is sort of like how there really is no vision in the Trinity River Vision.

Where "Panther Island" sits, un-surrounded by water,  is at the confluence of the West and Clear forks of the Trinity River. That being the location of what the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle claimed would be a lake of over 30 acres, later shrunk to a pond a third that size. Is what is being called "Panther Island" to be an actual island if the envisioned pond is something someone may actually one day see?

Now, let's start at the beginning of The rise of Panther Island Pavilion and look at some of the choice pieces of propaganda....

The asphalt teems with tents serving craft-brewed beers in 2-ounce plastic cups, and two stages featuring a panoply of indie-rock acts hum with energy well into the night. A few yards beyond the chain-link fence surrounding the city’s inaugural Untapped Festival, the Trinity River flows past, its calm waters absorbing and reflecting the rays of the setting sun.

Stop and take it all in. This is what Fort Worth’s future looks like.

That is, if J.D. Granger and the Trinity River Vision Authority have anything to say about it.

Fort Worth's future looks like a beer soaked music festival if J.D. Granger has anything to say about it?

Over the past two years, Panther Island Pavilion, a 40-acre space tucked away underneath Henderson Street just outside downtown, has risen from a barren patch of real estate you might not even notice on your jog along the Trinity Trails to become a focal point not only for civic planners with an eye on tomorrow, but for the city and state’s music industry.

“The backdrop is crazy,” says Granger, the TRVA’s executive director. “You’re right in the middle of an urban environment, but you’ve got waterfront [access] — it’s a very unique thing.”

Panther Island Pavilion has become a focal point for civic planners and the Fort Worth and Texas music industry? Why not just say it will become the #1 tourist attraction in Texas? Like Cabela's? J.D. thinks this backdrop is crazy? Well, something sure seems crazy. You're right in an urban setting where you have waterfront access, which is very unique? Unlike New York City, Chicago, Miami, Washington, D.C., Portland, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, San Antonio and many many other cities across America, and with their waterfront access not being a slow moving, polluted, un-natural, small, little known river.

The TRVA’s stated mission is “to connect every neighborhood in the city to the Trinity River corridor,” and through a mix of initiatives and ambitious goals, Granger and his collaborators just might help make Fort Worth a live-music capital in the process.

I am a little confused. Has making Fort Worth a live-music capital, whatever that is, now been added to the TRVA's stated mission?

There’s no question that Fort Worth stands poised, creatively, on the verge of a musical renaissance, with multiple bands achieving success at home and beyond the Tarrant County line.

Really? There is no question? Oodles of Fort Worth bands stand poised for success beyond the Tarrant County line! Maybe all the way to Dallas County? Are we sure there is no question as to how near we are to this verge of a musical renaissance? Will this have a cool name, like in the 90s when the Seattle sound became known as Grunge?

The venue’s rise began innocently enough, two years ago. It was conceived as part of the decade long Trinity River Vision, a plan meant to tie Fort Worth to the Trinity River, revitalizing the waterway with an urban infrastructure and amenities appealing to the “creative class” (a socioeconomic designation popularized by author Richard Florida).

So this Panther Island venue's rise was conceived as part of the TRV Boondoggle? At what TRVA or TRWD Board meeting was this plan approved? Can the public read the minutes of the meeting when this decision was made to add making Fort Worth a music mecca to the Trinity River Vision's mission? Richard Florida? Methinks Richard Florida would gag to have his name associated with Fort Worth's macabre vision of urban re-generation gone awry, with wakeboard parks, drive-ins and inner tube floats. With music.

Panther Island Pavilion, so nicknamed by local writer Kevin Buchanan in a 2007 post on his urban growth-focused website (a recent server mishap has temporarily waylaid the site), became, along with Tim Love’s Woodshed restaurant, a way for Granger to show the TRVA board and the city at large how urban planning could jump-start growth along the Trinity.

Well now, we finally find out the reason behind the Woodshed Smokehouse being added to the Trinity River Vision. J.D. Granger has been using Panther Island Pavilion and Tim Love's restaurant to show us how urban planning could jump-start growth along the river. And people thought J.D. Granger was totally unqualified for this job, while he has actually been being a Machiavellian clever boy showing us how the grandiosely named Panther Island Pavilion and a restaurant can do some jump starting of some growth along the Trinity.

“It’s always been planned that [Trinity Uptown] would be an exciting urban lifestyle,” Granger says. “People expect more in an urban environment. We have a blank slate down there, so let’s make sure and create the character ahead of time, be unapologetic about it. If you don’t like the character, this is not the place for you to live.”

When the city’s noise ordinance was revised in early 2012, a special exception was made for the area containing Panther Island Pavilion (it’s right there on page 10 of the Jan. 23 presentation to the City Council: “Large venue in Trinity Uptown”). Granger calls it “the most liberal noise ordinance” in Fort Worth, and it was made with the intention of attracting more and larger events to the space.

So, what I'm understanding J.D. to be saying is if you don't like loud noise this is not the place for you to live. J.D. thinks that he has created something special about which he should be unapologetic? I would like to suggest maybe being embarrassed about that which has been "created" might be more appropriate.

Indeed, an argument can be made that none of the recent flurry of activity along or near the Trinity River — the just-opened Coyote Drive-In (see sidebar), for example, or the Clearfork Food Park — would be possible without projects like Panther Island Pavilion paving the way.

Panther Island Pavilion somehow led to the Coyote Drive-In and a food truck park? Is Vegas taking odds on how long it is til the first drive-in in America in the 21st century goes out of business?

Okay, you get the idea. Totally absurd propaganda. Read the The rise of Panther Island Pavilion for even more absurdity, such as....

“Do I plan to be in the music business forever? No,” Granger says. “We go to a cool business model, turn it over to a concessionaire and let them go. That will be the biggest struggle over the next couple years: Do we go ahead and go to a national model, or can we maintain the character of Fort Worth and keep some real grit? That’ll be a tough one.”

A national model? Model of what? Real grit is the character of Fort Worth?

If I remember right I believe I have mentioned before that the word "hubris" often comes to mind when I am appalled by the propaganda spewed in the Fort Worth zone by entities like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Trinity River Vision Authority & Tarrant Regional Water District Board....

Hubris: Extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.


Anonymous said...

Way to break it down Durango. Thanks. As they tout these small, puffed up attempts at relevance, no one seems to be aware that many businesses and their associated buildings along White Settlement Road near the Pavillion, are being made to vacate by June 30, in order for demolition to begin. I'm sure that we are all in the category that Mr. Granger referred to... His Vision is not for us.

Anonymous said...

Here are some quotes from the Panther Island Pavilion (Trinity River Vision) website. The all caps writing is from their website: