Category Archives: Life

35 DENTON: Parking…

35 Denton is about to happen. The 2016 edition of the world-renown music festival occurs March 11-13. An amazing line-up is poised to take over Denton for those three days and will take place, as usual, within walking distance of the Square. If you haven’t gotten your tickets/passes, what are you waiting for?


All the information you need is at:

Four to five thousand people are expected to attend the festival. A good question to ask is “where is everyone going to park”? The festival is walkable, the trek from parking maybe not so much. The festival itself will consume Williams Square, the large parking area southeast of the Square, eliminating a little over 200 parking spots.

So…..again…..where to park?

For the second year in a row, Lucky Lou’s, Cool Beans and Riprock’s, in the heart of the Fry Street district will answer that question by providing parking AND a free shuttle from the ample parking around Fry Street to the festival site.

It works like this:

You can park directly behind Lucky Lou’s for $3/day or at the free UNT parking lot at the corner of Welch and Mulberry to the southeast of Lucky Lou’s. Then enjoy a sparkling adult beverage at one or more of the three bars while you wait for the shuttle which leaves (and returns) every 15 minutes.

Parking areas in red

Parking areas in red

The shuttle departs from the front of Lucky Lou’s at 1207 W. Hickory, delivering you safely to the front of East Side (where if you you think about it, another beverage could be obtained) after a quick, chauffeured ride through the historic Hickory St area.

After the festival, simply do all this in reverse. (Including a stop at one or more of your 3 generous shuttle hosts!!).

This year’s 35 Denton promises to be bigger and better than ever. Parking near the Square will be difficult at best. Avoid the hassle of parking downtown and use the easy shuttle service provided by Lucky Lou’s, Cool Beans and Riprock’s……you’ll be glad you did.

And remember …….35 responsibly…..

Angels among us…..

One year ago, a dear friend, Tina McCurley, was diagnosed with liver disease. Those close to her knew something wasn’t right, and Tina tended to dismiss it, but the diagnosis brought it home. The decline of Tina’s health began slowly, but soon picked up speed.

Condensing the story a bit, within 6 months, Tina was on a donor list for a liver transplant.

There are basically two types/sources of transplants, cadaver transplants and living donor transplants. Of the two, the cadaver source is the most frequently used for obvious reasons.

Of the two though, the live transplant is the best option.

Tina’s story is a chill-up-the-spine story…….a story which highlights the good in people and renews faith in humanity. It did mine anyway.

On October 17, a group of Denton High School graduates met at the Greenhouse restaurant for a spur of the moment reunion. People trickled in, swapped stories, told lies and caught up………. At some point my dear friend, Patti Pennington came in followed by someone I didn’t recognize …….at first. It was Tina of course, and having not seen her in a few months, I was stunned. First of all, the bubbly, outgoing, vivacious woman I knew was not there. The person I saw was extremely thin, walked slowly, spoke with a quiver, looked 30 years older than she is and was very pale. I seriously did not recognize her until she sat down.

I spent the next hour talking only to her. She told me the basics of what was going on, but only what she wanted to……or maybe just what she knew. Another friend of mine, an RN walked Tina out to the car that night. When she came back in, she told me that she thought Tina had less than 6 months to live without a transplant. I didn’t think that was an option.


Tina is an angel.

The next day I began to snoop. It turns out that Tina was on a cadaver transplant list, which would require her being at Baylor Hospital in Dallas within 45 minutes of the death of the “donor”. An iffy proposition at best. Additionally, Tina’s son-in-law, Jarett Monschke, was being assessed to be a living donor. The assessment is rather time-consuming, requiring a lengthy psychological evaluation and two days of physical testing, some of it invasive. At the time, they didn’t know how long it would take to determine if Jarett was a match.

Jarett is an angel.

Well, after hearing the unofficial, yet dire prognosis by my friend and knowing everything was being done to get a transplant, I thought of one more very desperate long shot……..a real long shot. I went to Facebook. In a post, I gave the bare basics of Tina’s story and asked if anyone might consider, or know anyone who might consider, donating 40% of their liver to someone they most likely didn’t know.


With a live donation, 40 % of the liver is donated and within a very short period of time, both the patient and the donor regenerate full, healthy livers. The transplant is, of course, major surgery and requires up to two MONTHS to recover. I didn’t have much hope….well, truth be told, I had no hope of anyone responding, but it was worth a try.

Less than an hour after making the post, a private message popped up from someone I’d met long ago, but not someone I really knew. The someone was Kelli Conway. Kelli lives in Ft. Worth, but used to live in Denton. Kelli asked for more information about the entire transplant process. I told her what I knew about the matching procedure and then the massive ordeal of the actual surgery and recovery.

Without asking anything about Tina, Kelli said “I’d be happy to be tested and if I’m a match, I will donate”.

I was God-smacked. I asked her if she was positive. Without hesitation Kelli said, “Of course! If I can help save a life, why wouldn’t I?”

I am NEVER at a loss for words, but then……….I was. I remember calling her an angel and thanking her, but I had a thousand things suddenly running through my head and the rest of the conversation is a blur. I was truly bumfuzzled that someone could be so selfless, so generous, so kind, so incredibly caring that they would risk giving away part of a vital organ to someone they did not know.


Kelli is an angel.

I immediately called Tina’s husband, Roger, and told him what had just happened. I don’t think he believed me at first. I got all the contact information at Baylor and sent it to Kelli. We talked the next day, she told me that she’d done extensive online research overnight about transplantation and that she had already spoken with the transplant liason at Baylor and was about to start the psychological evaluation which comes before the physical testing.

I was astonished again when I realized that she hadn’t had second thoughts, she hadn’t backed out. She was still willing to do it!

Kelli is an angel.

Kelli continued to talk to Baylor, take the evaluation, work, and get mentally ready to do something VERY few people have the chance to do and even fewer volunteer to do. Meanwhile, the results came back and Tina’s son- in-law Jarett was a match. You’d think that would be the end of the story with a live donation from Jarett, but Tina was too weak and frail at the time to undergo surgery. So the patient, who on a good day weighs 100-nothing, needed to put on weight and gain some strength. The thought of a cadaver transplant seemed like a distant possibility, but with a rock solid donor ready to give, Tina set about getting ready for the life-saving surgery.

Then, Tuesday morning, two days before Thanksgiving, the phone rang, it was Tina’s daughter. She told me that a 29 year old mother of two, Jennifer Markgraf, had been found unconscious and unresponsive by her husband, Kirk, in Ferris. He performed CPR, got her to Baylor in Waxahachie and she was then taken to Baylor Dallas by LifeFlight and tragically pronounced brain dead. Tina’s daughter let me know that Kirk was a firefighter in nearby Red Oak. Tina’s husand is also a firefighter. The fraternity of firefighters has an extremely strong bond which stretches from department to department, state to state……heart to heart.

Kirk is an angel.

The stage was set…….it was a God thing

Roger, Tina’s husband, was teaching a class that Tuesday and during a break, one of his students overheard him talking about his wife needing a liver transplant. The student slipped away and made a call. Before long, Roger was asked if he would talk to Jennifer’s mother. Roger was astonished, but quickly said he would love to talk to her. The two talked for 30 minutes or so about their loved ones. Jennifer’s mother related what a loving, caring, wonderful, vibrant, spirit-filled woman her daughter was. Roger described Tina in the same manner. They spoke of the firefighter connection and at the end of the conversation, Jennifer’s mom said, “Roger, we’d like for your Tina to have our Jennifer’s liver”.

Jennifer’s mother is an angel.

Overnight, Jennifer was assessed to be a perfect match for Tina. Unbelievable!
One of Tina’s daughters called Wednesday afternoon and said that her mom was on a LifeFlight helicopter going to Baylor in Dallas for an immediate transplant. Due to logistics, the transplant didn’t start that afternoon. Tina was taken into pre-op about 9:30 that night and the surgery was complete about 3:30 am on Thanksgiving day. Within a couple of hours the first blood tests came back showing that Tina’s liver enzymes were climbing which meant her new liver was working and working well.


Jennifer is an angel…

By early that morning, most of Tina’s friends had gotten the news and were elated. Elated that their friend would grow old with them and get to watch her young grandchildren grow up……..but their elation was tempered with the knowledge that a very special woman had given Tina this incredible gift but would not grow old with her husband, her two children, her family and friends……..

Jennifer is an angel……a double angel.

And two amazing women will live on………

(Donations to Jennifer’s young family can be made at: Angel)

Dentoning………35 Denton 2015

After a break in 2014 to take a step back, regroup, and re-evaluate, 35 Denton, the monster music festival founded by Baptist Generals frontman Chris Flemmons, came roaring back to life March 13-15. With 265+ band playing in 13 venues within walking distance of the courthouse, the break proved worthwhile…….35-2015 was beyond amazing.

What is now 35 Denton (there were a handful of name changes) began as an invitation-only house party in 2004 according to Flemmons. After five years in a self-limiting environment, it was decided to take the next step and splash it across the Denton canvas.

Denton is home to a variety of music festivals. 35, the Arts and Jazz Festival, the Blues Festival and Oaktopia all bring specific genres to the music-hungry population of Denton. This years 35 was a slightly scaled back version compared to past festivals and included the best of local bands with a perfect pairing of national/international bands.

35 Denton

~Ed Steele Photography LLC

Denton, which always glows, burned a lot brighter for 3 days in March.

35 Denton is often talked about as being SXSW’s little brother. With Austin’s SXSW becoming an almost unattendable behemoth, that comparison is much more appropriate than calling it a twin. Let’s hope 35 never becomes a SXSW……

The size, scope, footprint and attendees make 35 a magical event.

With over 265 bands, there was music to satiate almost any musical need. Denton oozes music and is internationally known for its concentration of incredible musical talent. 35 is a showcase for that unique feature of our great town…..with bands from around the nation and world thrown in to round it out.

35 Denton has become such a mainstay of the culture of Denton that it has been decided to give it a year round presence. The festival will continue to be a yearly event every Spring, but will become more a part of daily Denton through fresh, ever changing website content, sponsorships and much more.

35 Denton

~Ed Steele Photography LLC

35 Denton 2015 was a huge success. The year round hard work of an unseen, un-named and uncredited cadre of mega talented people made 35 what it was this year. 35 will be back in 2016 bigger and better than ever.

From a humble beginning as a house party to an internationally recognized music festival, 35 Denton is an anchor in the most touted aspect of the fabric of our special town…..MUSIC.

Watch for music news, events, videos, interviews and more at until the festival blossoms again Spring 2016…..!!!

Dentoning…..a story of love.

Let’s review the definition of Dentoning:

DENTONING: \dent\un\ing
(intransitive verb)

1: the experience of enjoying/discovering/exploring all that the great City of Denton, TX
has to offer

2: the discussion of pertinent/impertinent/fun/serious
/political subjects involving the great City of Denton (or anything else this blogger wants to discuss)

3: an event/occurrence /incident happening in the great City of Denton

I’ve said many times that Dentoning is anchored in its people. An event happened recently that was the epitome of our beloved pastime. This event was born from the love of two people, Steve and Karen Yount, for their son, David. The soiree was the wedding reception for David and his bride, Angela. Numbers 1 and 3 of the definition above come heavily into play in all that led up to the reception and the magical evening itself. Denton itself helped pull off the amazing, wondrous, extra-ordinary (not sic) night in the backyard of a house in our fantastic city.

Entrance to reception

Entrance to reception

The idea was spawned in an open-air outdoor kitchen in the same backyard. With cigar smoke waifing through the air, Steve explained what he envisioned. He talked about adding a roof to an existing deck, but “extending it out a little”. That was an understatement. The Younts have three children, two daughters, Andra and Katy and a son David. David is the first to get married and Steve and Karen wanted to do something special.

They did.

If you’ve lived in Denton for more than a couple of days, you know that the end of February is not the best time to have an event outdoors, but that’s when the wedding was so, of course, the reception. They decided to take the chance and work began.

Steve, my son Ryan and my spare son, Kyle did most of the work. As I watched them drill holes for the support beams, I realized that the “little extension” was a massive understatement. This thing was going to be huge!

Two 40′ X 40′ and 16′ high connected gazebos.

Steve is a master of construction. The guy can build anything. Over a period of a few weeks, the three of them erected what turned out to be the PERFECT setting for an outdoor event. As the day of the wedding approached, everyone with anything to do with the wedding fervently checked the weather forecast. It changed from hour to hour even a couple of weeks out, so we didn’t know what to expect.

The rafters go up.

The rafters go up

Construction of venue

Construction of venue

While all this was going on, there were other things to do… plan a rehearsal dinner. Since everyone else was busy doing everything else, I volunteered to make arrangements for the dinner. I asked David and his wife-to-be, Angela, what they wanted. They said they wanted something cool, something fun, and something “Denton”.

I knew where to go.

Now there are lots of cool places in Denton for such events, but I decided that the rooftop floor of LSA would best fit their wants, their needs and their friends. This is when the event became a Dentoning event, with different Denton people playing parts that led to the grande finale.

I called my friend Sparky Pearson, one of the owners of LSA, and told him what I was thinking. I had no clue what it would take to make it feasible for both sides of the equation to have the entire top floor of LSA for an evening. Sparky said “I think we can make that happen, talk to Kjell”.

I ended up working with Kjell Knutson, Steve Watkins and LSA manager, Krit Allen. It was a pleasure. They bent over backwards to make the dinner…, fun, and “Denton”…..exactly what the couple wanted. It was a huge success. Thanks to LSA from me and the Younts for an incredible evening.

Before the onslaught

Before the onslaught

Rehearsal- LSA

Rehearsal- LSA

Just before the dinner, the weather outlook for the day of the wedding took a drastic turn for the worse. Typical Texas winter weather was on its way. At this point, the plans became a bad symphony of change, panic, bewilderment, frustration and even possible cancelation of the reception.

Again, the people of Denton stepped up and made things happen.

The basic structure of the temporary venue was finished. Now it had to be weather proofed. Enclosing it with wood was financially and logistically impossible. Things looked bleak and a “plan B” was thrown about, but the groom made an executive decision and said “there is no plan B”. The wrapping of the venue began in earnest. Now wrapping 3200 sq ft in plastic is not an easy endeavor, but with the help of friends and family…………the gazebos were weather proofed by the morning of the wedding.

The groom- before the leap

The groom- before the leap

The temperature was in the 20s, which is a little cool for a wedding reception. Several friends were contacted in regards to borrowing propane heaters. John Williams owner of East Side/OSDH, John Cartwright of Cartwright’s and even Matt Arnold, co-owner of the as yet unopened, Harvest House volunteered the use of their heaters. Thanks to all of them! By noon that day, the “outdoor” space was warm.

Next came decorating the private venue. The groom’s mother, Karen had spent weeks getting ready to splenderate the space……and that she did. Karen, several of her friends and a couple of husbands went to work and turned the space into incredible. Tables, benches, and bars were built and the place set aglow with lighting. Everything was ready.



The weather for the reception turned out to be a worst case scenario.

Sleet, snow, rain, mud and ice surrounded the “tent”, but inside was warm and dry. About an hour before the wedding, the groom got a call from the un-named (here) little chapel asking him if he’d consider rescheduling the wedding. I’m not sure exactly what he said, but in essence it was NO.


The wedding went off without a hitch (other than the bride and groom) and at about 6:30pm on February 28th, the guests began to arrive from the little chapel. The weather went from rain to sleet to snow to rain to ice and back. There were around 150 people present and getting them in and out was a chore. A plywood walkway had been laid from the driveway to the “tent” due to the mudhole the yard had become.

The opaque plastic, the lighting, the decorations, the dance floor and the people made for a surreal, magical……almost mystical night. After the requisite razzing by friends of the groom and sister of the bride, Denton’s Mariachi Quetzal began to play outside and filed in to the surprise of everyone there. Everyone in attendance was amazed with the setting. The festivities lasted until about midnight and would have lasted longer had the streets not become treacherous.


David and Angela Yount

David and Angela Yount

The love of a couple for their only son led to this epic, phenomenal, distinctive Dentoning event……

Epic by definition and epic due to the kindness of many Dentonites. We live in magnificent city and a magnificent community. The city of Denton helped create an extremely unique event and showcased its love.


I love Denton…….

Denton……….and CHOICE. Should the City Council butt out?

No one likes smoke. Most smokers don’t like smoke. But, the fact is smoking is legal and people do smoke. Being legal, people have the right to smoke and if a business decides to not allow smoking, then there is no smoking. If a business decides to allow smoking, then people who smoke can and those who don’t are free not to go into said business…….at least for now.

The Denton City Council is about to consider a total ban on smoking in businesses.

That’s right, they are thinking about taking away the right of a business owner to run their business, legally, the way they want. Do we really want the Council to make decisions about what we can or cannot do with our businesses?

I really don’t care about smoking.

That is not the issue here. The base issue here is freedom. Does the City Council have the power or the right to tell a business it cannot do something which is legal? The issue is also responsibility. Do you feel you have the intelligence to decide what is right for you? Are able to decide for yourself not to drink a beer if you think it’s not good for you? It should be your decision, not the decision of seven men at City Hall.

Let’s keep it that way.

Let’s take smoking out of the equation.

Instead, let’s substitute rental property. If you owned a bunch of rental property, what would you think if the City Council voted to ban renting YOUR property to other people due to potential liability? Would that seem right?

Or what if the City Council banned bicycle riding because people have died while riding bikes. Would you approve of that?

Or what if you had an incredible program to help parents guide their children to excel in life, but the City Council banned the use of video in such programs? Would that be right?

Or what if the City Council decided that caffeine should be banned? It’s a drug, like the nicotine in cigarettes after all. Would you be OK with that?

Who should make these basic decisions? All of these examples are legal. Should the City Council really make such decisions for business owners? The smoking ordinance adopted by the City Council two years ago, sensibly allowed Denton business owners the CHOICE of allowing smoking in their establishments……..or not. The ordinance also gave Denton citizens the CHOICE to go into a business which allows smoking……..or not. No one forces anyone to enter a business.

Again, this is not about smoking, it’s about personal responsibility, boundaries and CHOICE.