LIFE (OR LACK OF IT) DOWNTOWN: SMU professor Willard Spiegelman is usually busy talking about what makes him happy (as he did this spring on Think TV). So it’s a bit of a switch that he writes in today’s Wall Street Journal about what he’s currently unhappy with – namely, life in downtown Dallas. His primary reason for writing is to provide his (mostly happy) thoughts on the new Arts District buildings. But he ends his piece lamenting downtown’s lack of actual residents. “To be a real part of the urban fabric, a true Arts District will have to foster a range of services (read: grocery and hardware stores, shoemakers, pharmacies) and housing, not just fancy bistros and soaring condominium towers with prices to match,” he writes. It’s the old chicken-or-the-egg problem that has plagued the area for as long as anyone can remember: people living downtown need a grocery store, but no grocery store will move in without people living there. What’s the solution? If I knew that, I’d be making the big bucks in real estate.
CONGRATULATIONS ALL AROUND: Kimberly Whalen is living quite the charmed life these days. She recently wrapped up her turn in WaterTower Theatre’s Grey Gardens – one of the biggest hits of the fall season. And up next is a plum role in the Off Broadway revival of The Fantasticks. And if all that weren’t enough, she just got engaged to local actor Curt Mega. If you saw Whalen and Mega onstage last year in Theatre Three’s A Light in the Piazza, then you know now that their lip-lock wasn’t all acting. Whalen recently told Theater Jones all about how she landed her new role and how Mega landed her. Let’s just say he put the rest of us married guys’ proposals to shame.
MUSIC BITS: Denton’s Midlake inspired a round of critical huzzahs with its 2006 album, The Trials of Van Occupanther. And then … nothing for the past three years. Word came yesterday, though, that that wait is close to being over. Quickdfw.com has the details. … Did you catch Norah Jones performing last week on Dancing With the Stars? Of course you did. If you liked the first song she played, “Chasing Pirate,” Preston Jones has embedded the video on his dfw.com music blog. … Over on Unfair Park, Robert Wilonsky reminds us of TCU illustration professor Don Ivan Punchatz’s contribution to the local scene through his album cover artwork. Punchatz died last week.