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We're Denton Dammit: Nov. 16, 2017

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Lucinda Breeding

Over the weekend, a large group of students at a party at the Ridge at North Texas apartment complex fell through the third floor after it collapsed while they whooped and danced. Only minor injuries ensued, with roughly 50 residents displaced.

Vice media called the event "the college party by which all other parties will judged."

Well, that title might go to a party that caused (or hastened) structural failure in a Denton residence in the early 1980s. Carl Finch, the frontman for the two-time Grammy-winning polka band Brave Combo, survived a similar event at a house that's now Oak Street Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor.

Finch said the house was called Shipley Manor when the band played and the floor beams broke in nine places. "But we were on the ground floor, so no one could fall very far," Finch said. He said he stood on a speaker during "Ice Machine in the Desert" to assess the situation.

"I was more worried about the ceiling falling in on top of everyone," Finch said. "The walls started closing in from the top. The place was totally packed. ... It became obvious the room we were in was about to start collapsing." Finch said the band told the crowd to get out, and the crowd departed.

"The owner, John Foust, took it very well, but he also had a hearse for a car," Finch said. "But, I must add, Denton, in those days, was insane."

Other Denton old-timers remember a legendary house show around 2000 when the Riverboat Gamblers and their fans caved in the house's pier-and-beam floor. Says one newsroom staffer: "The Riverboat Gamblers seem like the kind of band that would inspire structural failure."

Kristin Abbott was featured in the Denton Record-Chronicle in 2016 for her work as a music therapist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.

A year ago, Abbott was using music to help patients heal. Since April, Abbott, a board-certified music therapist, expanded her hospital stops to newborns in the hospital's 10-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Abbott sings lullabies and plays her guitar at the bedside of the premature and low-birthweight babies. 

Civic gadfly Sam Alexander is about as big a fan of Texas open records laws as we are. But in the race for the most interesting redactions, Alexander pulled ahead this week. We've received plenty of public documents with selected information blacked out — after the Texas attorney general sends a letter approving the redactions. But Alexander rung the bell after he got a redacted letter about redactions. Yeah, we're dizzy, too.

The Denton County GOP has rarely, if ever, needed to check the rearview for approaching Democrats since former county Constable Mike Ballard — the county's last Democratic officeholder — retired in 2012. This week, members from Indivisible Denton, one of many local groups inspired by the national movement, volunteered to help the local Democratic Party get people elected. Given the propensity of certain city precincts to vote blue, the county's new GOP leader John Dillard may have to adjust his mirrors.

Outgoing Denton County Judge Mary Horn read a prepared statement when she announced her retirement toward the end of Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting. In that prepared statement, she endorsed Commissioner Andy Eads in his bid to succeed her. Denton County taxpayers paid for the courtroom and the audio-visual equipment used in that endorsement.

We've mentioned a feral hog ambling along Shady Oaks Drive — maybe two. But last Friday, a straggler in the newsroom heard frenzied coyote calls in the wooded area across Duchess Drive from the Denton Record-Chronicle and saw a single coyote slinking into the brush. 

American Pickers — the reality television show about antique collectors and dealers Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and their team sifting through shops, private collections and even the occasional hoard to find treasures for their business — is headed back to Texas. The show's producers are on the hunt for collections (and the characters who love them) during Wolfe and Fritz's visit. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can search through, send your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to americanpickers@cineflix.com, or 1-call 855-OLD-RUST.

Here's a tale of two committees. The committee reviewing plans for City Hall West is almost gender-balanced, but only because Mayor Pro Tem Sara Bagheri saw the need and appointed three women. But a citizen committee reviewing that other bit of downtown history, the Confederate monument, has only one woman. County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell says her appointee, Ronni Cade, can bring ideas to the table. Here's hoping she doesn't have to make noise.

Parting Shot

"The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots." 

— H. L. Mencken, Notes on Democracy

Denton Dammit is an old-fashioned gossip column about people, places and things in and around Denton. Send your submissions to Lucinda Breeding at cbreeding@dentonrc.com.