Category Archives: Places

Tom Lee, patriot

Frenchygate……..

So, we’ve had several of days of the Frenchy flag citation fiasco.

Here are the facts: Frenchy has been operating out of the same lot for TWENTY-NINE YEARS with a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for the property, but not for his business. Community Improvement Services…….a feel-good alternative name for CODE ENFORCEMENT supposedly got an anonymous complaint about Frenchy’s lot…..anonymous in that CIS won’t divulge who the person is.

That is pretty convenient.

How do we know that CIS didn’t just make it up due it’s longstanding dislike of Frenchy??

CIS then tells Frenchy that he must get a CO for his business AND he has to take down the 15 AMERICAN flags (CIS calls them “wind devices”) flying on his lot. Frenchy is a Vietnam vet, proud of his service, proud of his fellow veterans, proud of his country and proud of Denton.

Frenchy's flags

Frenchy’s flags

Our Nation's flags

Our Nation’s flags

Can there be really be too many AMERICAN flags??

First of all, if Frenchy has been in the same location, flying flags for 29 years, why wasn’t he issued a citation before now?………..say 29 years ago. That looks like ineptitude on the part of Lancine Bentley and the rest of CIS.

There has been a pattern of selective citations with CIS. I have talked to several ex-CIS employees who say they were fired for refusing to issue citations they were directed to issue at the selective whim of Lancine Bentley.

Discretion is one thing, selective targeting is something completely different.

Something else which many find strange and a possible conflict of interest, is the fact that Lancine Bentley is married to Brian Bentley, a commissioner on Denton’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Hmmmmmm……

Does that seem right to you?

As I said in the last thrilling episode of Dentoning, codes/ordinances/laws are there for a reason. They should be enforced evenly across the board, not selectively, and certainly not because someone might hold a grudge. They should also be enforced with discretion.

It seems to me that if something has been in the same place for TWENTY-NINE YEARS without a citation being issued, then that establishment should be grandfathered in, or as CIS likes to call it,……… “legally non-conforming”.

Frenchy is an iconic example of Denton’s eccentricity, liveliness, uniqueness, and vitality. Frenchy also has MANY supporters both in Denton and elsewhere.

On Friday, a Vietnam comrade in arms of Frenchy’s, Tom Lee, saw a DFW news story on TV about the situation, jumped in his car, drove to Denton from Rowlett and spent all day Friday in front of Frenchy’s flags…………..in his wheelchair…….because of two amputated legs…..which he lost in Vietnam………while defending our right to fly the AMERICAN flag(s).

Tom Lee, patriot

Tom Lee, patriot

Another veteran who wishes to remain anonymous, soon joined Mr. Lee and spent several hours in the sun, holding an AMERICAN flag as people drove by, waved, thumbs-upped, honked, yelled support, or stopped to visit.

A petition in support of Frenchy, posted by Dentonite Lezlie Mitchell Haynes, has over 5000 signatures in the first 48 hours of existence……

Glenn Carlton of the North Texas State Fairgrounds installed THIRTY AMERICAN flags along the fence bordering Carroll Blvd on Friday in a show of solidarity with Frenchy and his flags…….

Frenchy is Frenchy…….and Frenchy is an asset to Denton in multiple ways, some of which I mentioned in my last post. For CIS to go TWENTY-NINE YEARS without citing Frenchy for the flags,…….only to do so on Friday is silly.

The flags are a part of Denton………

I think the best solution is for the City of Denton to declare Frenchy’s flags “legally non-conforming” and walk away…….

I think if the City of Denton presses on with this issue, most of those 5000 people (and quite a few more) are not going to be very happy……

Dentoning….We-Do Walnut….Dry run

The vision to close permanently Walnut St (1/2 block south of the Square) is growing legs. A dedicated group of local business people and interested citizens is working diligently to create a block-long oasis in downtown Denton. As covered in previous Dentoning blogs, the plan is to close Walnut Street to vehicular traffic, clean the “alley” and then create an urban park……with trees, grass, shrubberies, benches, other seating areas. This would be done with the City of Denton doing only what it has to, with the remaining labor, materials and talent provided by volunteers.

Much work has already been done, including discussions with the City of Denton. One thing the City requested was having an event or three to provide an example of how the idea would work. So……..on Friday, February 28, Walnut Street will be closed and the first Mardi Gras on Walnut will happen starting at 5:00 pm.

We-Do Walnut

On the 28th, Walnut Street will be closed at 8 am and clean up of the unsightly alley will begin. The street will then be transformed into a mini- New Orleans, pedestrian-only area for that day. The festival will start at 5 pm. There will be a stage featuring Dixieland/Zydeco music. Community Market vendors, jugglers, surprises, Cajun food, and libations which can be freely carried within the festival area will be available. There will also be mask, costume and float contests (floats can be kid’s wagons or anything 6 feet long or less).

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut

Mardi Gras on Walnut will be the first of what is hoped to be an annual event ……..and is FREE!! The event will be family-friendly and the Farmer’s Almanac is calling for awesome weather………..!!! Tell your ma, tell your pa and tell all your friends. Put this on your calendar now!!

What better way to spend a pre-Spring evening in Denton!!

Dentoning….life

I am coming up on an anniversary. It is one that I celebrate for a couple of reasons. One, the experience changed my life and gave me a completely different outlook on it. Second, I am extremely glad to be alive, living in Denton and having the family and friends that I do.

Life is good.

I’m going to write about this not to be a showboat or to draw attention to myself. I had nothing to do with the final outcome. I have found through the years though that sharing my experience has been helpful to others either going through what I did or to those taking care of someone who is. I know that talking to someone at the time sure helped me with questions and expectations. People DO survive even nasty forms of cancer…. The recent scare with my brother’s health also re-enforced my appreciation for the fragility of life……

Thirty-three years ago, on December 12, 1980, I had surgery to remove a small knot under my right arm. When my primary care physician Dr. Croissant, recommended having surgeon and friend, Dr. Gill Adami remove it, I had no thoughts of it being anything serious….I mean, I was 23 years old, people that age don’t get cancer. Well, I was wrong.

When I woke up in the hospital room after the surgery, I was surprised to see the room filled with family and friends. In a post-anesthesia haze, it almost seemed as if I was going “toward the light”. After all, I’d just come in for a knotectomy……why were they all there?

It turns out that I hadn’t gotten all the information they had.

I went home to my duplex on Carroll Boulevard after a day or so and waited for the pathology reports. I could tell people were acting a little strange around me, including my girlfriend at the time, Mindy Rue. Mindy was in nursing school and she knew “they” were thinking I could have cancer, but not what kind. I began to suspect, but said nothing, probably in hopes that it would just to go away.

The pathology report took about 3 days to come back, as I remember, and I called Dr. Adami’s office and asked them to let ME know first when the results came back. On the morning of the 3rd or 4th day, I was sitting in my living room, watching the news. John Lennon had been murdered just a few days before, and there was still a lot about his death on TV. As I was watching, I heard two car doors slam shut outside. I went to the window, pulled back the drapes and looked outside. What I saw sucked the soul of my body for a few seconds.

Walking up to my front door were my parents, arms around each other and both crying. That was when I KNEW. Having sons of my own now, I can’t imagine the anguish they were feeling. I let them in and they told me that they had just gotten a call from Dr. Adami (pre-HIPPA days) and that the tests showed that I had a malignancy. We talked, cried and planned. I told them that I didn’t want anyone to know because I didn’t want to be treated differently. They told me that they had requested prayers from friends at church and that my situation was already well known in Denton.

I remember feeling numb….literally numb. It took another day or so to get the final pathology tests back which would identify the type of malignancy I had. When the tests were in, Dr. Adami himself called and asked me to come to his office. Dr. Adami was/is a good friend. He and his family had lived down the street as I was growing up (?) and I was great friends with his kids. Dr. Adami’s personal call gave me the first gut-punch that this was not a run of the mill cancer. (If I do something, I do it right!).

Mindy went with me to Dr. Adami’s office and there I saw for the first time, a certain look in the faces of his office staff, a look that I would be seeing for the next several years. It was a look of hesitancy, of pity and of the fear of what to say. I got used to it. Dr. Adami guided Mindy and I to his office and thoughtfully, but without delay, told us that I had a malignancy that was probably related to a mole I had had removed three years before. Mindy asked if it was melanoma, the good doctor said “yes” and Mindy began to cry.

With Mindy having a medical background, I realized that this was REALLY not a “good” type of cancer to have. Dr. Adami went on to explain that what I had was metastatic malignant melanoma. “Metastatic”, for those of you lucky enough not to know, means that cancer has spread from a primary site to an outlying part of the body. With most metastisis, the odds of survival go down precipitously. I was soon told that I had 15% chance of living another 2 years.

After leaving the office, Mindy and I drove quietly to my folks house. We arrived to a house full of family and we all had a good cry after Mindy explained the diagnosis and prognosis. Dr. Adami is not an oncologist and had told us what he had quickly researched about my cancer and what his colleagues had told him. He said that basically, chemotherapy was not effective with this stage of melanoma and nor were any other forms of treatment. Thankfully, I soon found that Dr. Adami was misinformed.

By this time, I was really feeling numb….out of fear, the unknown, shock, the “why me” and from the looks on the faces of my loved ones. After we had been sitting at the house for a while, the doorbell rang. I answered the door and there stood Father Joseph Schumacher, the priest from the Emaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton. I had grown up Baptist, yet the first person to come visit after “the news” was a Catholic priest. I have always had great admiration for “Papa Joe”, and his being there really meant a lot to me. (I had been the president of the Catholic youth group, “Shalom Sharers”, in high school, and thus my connection with Father Schumacher)..

The next few days are a blur. Dr. Croissant and Dr. Adami contacted a mutual oncologist friend, Dr. Merrick Reese, to decide on the best plan for my treatment. They eventually agreed that my best option was to go to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It was several days before I could get an appointment in Houston, so I stayed at the folk’s house and waited.

Many of my friends came to visit and some really good ones did not. I’ve heard of the same thing happening from other cancer survivors, especially those who were young at the time. My friends and I were in our very early 20s and some were just not prepared to face mortality in the form of a friend having cancer….they just could not face me. I wasn’t, and I’m not bitter about this. I completely understand. It is what it is….

We had a great Christmas with a sad, underlying feel of foreboding. For the 2-3 weeks between the surgery and my first appointment in Houston, I think most people thought I was going to die….including me. My folks, Mindy and I drove to Houston a couple of days after Christmas. I remember as I walked in the front door of M.D. Anderson for the first time, a very young girl in a wheelchair was coming out. She was bald, had a leg missing and had tubes running in and out. I immediately wondered if that was my future.

After hours of paper work that first day, I met the man who was to be my doctor for the next 25 years, Dr. Carl Plager. Dr. Plager had looked at slides from a mole I had removed 3 years before and told us that I had melanoma back then. This news hacked me off of course, but my new outlook on life was beginning to take form and I decided again…it was that it was….The next several days were FULL of every bodily diagnostic test you have ever heard of and several you haven’t.

Once all the tests were in, Dr. Plager told us that the information would be taken before a board of physicians (Tumor Board) who would analyze the info and decide what actions to take. The Board is a form of triage. He told us that one possible option was to do nothing. We waited for their recommendation at the home of my dear great-aunt and great-uncle, Joyce and Bill. It was very nice to have a place to stay other than a hotel during those first weeks in Houston.

During the first couple of days of January 1981, we met with Dr. Plager and he gave us the decision of the Tumor Board. They had decided that even though the statistics were against it, they were going to have me do chemotherapy and immuno-therapy for two years….and 10 days of radiation. At the time, the French were using extremely heavy doses of radiation in cases like mine, and the Tumor Board thought that since I was young and strong, they would try it on me.

On Jan. 5, 1981, I began a 5-consecutive-day-a-month regimen of chemo and 10 days of twice-a-day radiation treatments. I think it was on that day I relaxed, the fear left me and I decided that I was doing everything I could and that fear and worry would be a waste of time. It was what it was….

My outlook on life had changed. I did the first round of chemo in Houston, but was able to do the rest of it at Baylor Hospital in Dallas in order to avoid monthly trips to M.D. Anderson. As it turned out, I completed 18 months of chemo and immunotherapy. One of the drugs I took was cardio-toxic and the people at Baylor said after 18 months that they would not continue the chemo for fear of damaging my heart. Dr. Plager agreed.

The months of chemo were hellacious. I was sicker than I’d ever been before or since….for three weeks out of every month. Thankfully for those facing cancer now, things have improved and chemo is much easier to handle.

The only long term side effects I’ve had are 33 additional years of life (so far) and both my sons were born naked…….

The surgery performed on Dec. 12, 1980 was the last sign of cancer in my body. It’s a somewhat arbitrary anniversary, but it’s as good as any to celebrate survival. I am thankful for each and every day of life. Since that day, through good times and bad, I have realized that life is a blessing no matter what.

No matter what….

Enjoy life and enjoy Denton!!!

Dentoning….a new attitude

Again……this is just my own personal, correct opinion, but I think every Texan and especially Dentonites have every reason to have an attitude. What is there NOT to have an attitude about?? It’s basically a birthright, or a moved-here right……whichever. We live in a COOL place……….and it’s about to get cooler.

When I first saw the brick façade coming off the front of the old Denton Independent Hamburger Company on the south side of the Square, I wasn’t very happy about it. I saw destruction of old Denton, but as it turns out, that particular part of the Square is not that old….. Then I saw the roof top bar going up and I thought “there goes that part of Downtown”. But what I saw today completely changed my mind and won me over. The new can co-exist with the old, the roof top adds to the Square…it doesn’t take away, and Denton is about to have a place to add to its swagger.

Downtown sign

Lone Star Attitude

Lone Star Attitude Burger Co. opens it’s doors November 11 and it will amaze. As you enter the street level floor, you are greeted by greatness. The mural on your left has sparked a little controversy, but the God I know has a sense of humor. The mural is “The Last Supper” of Texas music (my title). Jesus is still at the center of the table, but he is surrounded by Texas musicians of today and yesterday.

image

The mural was produced by a group of artists and is chock full of minutia and hidden meaning. It’s one of two centerpieces on the lower floor. The other is a giant metal Texas behind the bar…….covered with Texasy musical instruments…….a star emblazoned on an electric guitar sits squarely over Denton on the musical map. The place radiates the music of our great State and that of our fair city. I don’t want to give away all the secrets, but the walls, nooks and crannies of LSA tell a story………and it promises to be an ever-changing story.

Music/Texas

Instruments of Texas

Morrison Milling

Back view

The upstairs of the downstairs overlooks the mural, the map and multitudes who are bound to frequent the place. The leather booths are finished with shotgun shell butts and and what Texan doesn’t like ordinance nearby while eating?

The rooftop far exceeds what I expected. The openness of the area provides views of Denton none of us have ever seen. The Courthouse dominates the north end of the building and will be an incredible backdrop to the live music coming from the stage above the keyboarded staircase. The roll-up doors/walls provide protection from the elements, but won’t detract from the views. I really don’t want to oversell the place…….it will sell itself.

Denton Courthouse

The Courthouse view

And the food……..it’s typical Texas fair with lots of surprises……..good surprises. I think anyone who really misses Denton Independent Hamburger Co. will get over it. Lone Star Attitude is a great replacement and a great addition to our already remarkable Square…. It opens Monday……..check it out.

Disclaimer: the author of this somewhat (deservedly) gushy post received no swag for its publication.

Enjoy Denton!

Dentoning….Invisible Denton

There is the Denton we all see and love……..vibrant, fun, comfortable, familiar, busy and diverse. There is another Denton that few see and many don’t know exists. Homeless Denton co-habitates with our daily lives and is anchored in places that would amaze many.

We all see people we suspect are without daily shelter…..we may even be approached on occasion by someone asking for a handout, but we don’t have the obvious clues of people at busy intersections, signs in hand, asking for money for one need or another as we do in larger cities. The absence of this does not mean there are not people struggling to live beside the roads, under the bridges and in camps in the woods of Denton.

A Denton home...

A Denton home…

Denton has programs to feed and provide essential needs to the less fortunate. Our Daily Bread is probably the most noticeable of these essential centers. Our Daily Bread has food, personal hygiene items, some transportation and even medical care for the homeless. When it comes to shelter though, the pickings are slim. The Salvation Army has very limited space, with separate areas for men and women. But they cannot begin to handle the numbers that live within the City of Denton.

The homeless are homeless due to many different reasons. Some have mental issues, others substance abuse problems, some are homeless due to the economy……….some just chose that life. I think the average Dentonite would be dumbfounded at, for the most part, the invisible population of homeless people in our city.

Some live in alleys, under bridges, in abandoned buildings, but a large number of the homeless live in camps within a mile or two of our Square. These camps consist of visqueen (yes, that is the correct spelling) covered mattresses and sleeping bags, in tents, boxes, or out in the open. Often tucked in thickets which provide additional protection, these “homes” are the only shelter from the elements these people know. Some are bunched together, but most house just one person.

Homeless camp

Homeless camp

The people who live in these “towns” within our town are fiercely protective of their locations. The less people know, the better. A couple of the camps are amazingly large with populations of elderly, runaways, baby-boomers and even children. The police are aware of these camps, but for the most part allow the residents to live as they must. During the daytime, they are mostly abandoned as people go about their lives. As dark settles, small fires are lit, cooking stoves started and bags are occupied.

These areas, of course, do not have the simple things like water, sewers, trash collection etc.. that we take for granted and thus have the looks of a refuge camp which, in fact, they are. Piles of trash, large collections of empty bottles, clothing, bikes and “natural” bathrooms litter the camps. The people get by, but it is a very hard life. The “real” world to these people has very little resemblance to the world we know.

Homelessness

A home

A home

The homeless “problem” is around us and is part of Denton. We may not see it, but it is here and it is close. Society struggles on how to help these people in towns and cities around the world. Here in Denton, we can give to our Daily Bread, the Salvation Army, and support Dr. Filipo Masciarelli, who along with his wife, provides medical care to Denton’s homeless population……..there are other ways to help if they are sought out. The Holiday Season is usually a time we think of giving to and helping others, but there so many who need assistance year-round.

Transportation

Transportation

We are so fortunate to live in Denton, let’s think of ways to help those who live in Invisible Denton……….