DALLAS GETS EVALUATED: Back in July, North Texas author Ben Fountain (Brief Encounters with Che Guevara) wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times that used the lightly filled parking lot at Highland Park Village to assess Dallas’ consumer debt as a gauge of the American economy (“With more shopping centers per capita than any other place in the country, is Dallas the most American city?”). Sunday he was back with Live Large, Think Big, Skip Town. This time, he’s talking about our real estate economy and how it looks great to outsiders (high growth, low unemployment) but not to those in area real estate circles: 45 percent of home sales this year in Mesquite have been foreclosures. And then there’s our high tenant failure rate — we skip out a lot. For a fiction writer, Fountain has become a fine and sobering journalist, taking this town’s measure in ways you don’t find much in local media.
. . . AND THE AT&T PAC GETS MEASURED, TOO: October marks the first year anniversary for the AT&T PAC, and the News offered a package deal as a present: a front-pager about the center’s financial straits and a double assessment of the Wyly, the Winspear and the new Srauss Square by Scott Cantrell and Lawson Taitte. With no new word on former director Mark Nerenhausen’s sudden departure, Michael Granberry’s money story didn’t add much we didn’t already know (capital campaign slowed because of economy, first season ran in the red but then they often do). He did get ahold of their 2009 tax filing, though, so we got to see people’s salaries. As for the critics’ evaluations, if you’ve been there, you’ve probably had similar thoughts: The buildings are stunning and technically sophisticated, parking’s still a pain, both spaces have noisy floors and major lobby bottlenecks for audiences. While the Arts District as a whole is a major cultural accomplishment, it still — after three decades, mind you — lacks any real retail or street life. Oh, and Sammons Park is a complete dud, while the Strauss is a good-looking afterthought.
DRAMA ONSTAGE AND OFF: African-American Repertory Theatre opened its new season with August Wilson’s Jitney — and stopped it after the first act. An actor had taken ill and was rushed to the hospital. AART expects the run to resume Friday with tickets for the canceled performances accepted during the run. . . . Second Thought Theatre, which hadn’t announced a 2010-2011 season, announced new co-artistic directors, both with ties to the Dallas Theater Center: DTC associate general manager Chris LaBove and actor-playwright Steven Walters, currently playing Prince Hal in the DTC’s Henry IV.