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Fort Worth’s Kimbell Displays Dresden’s Undying Beauty

February 8th, 2019 · Tags: Arts · Cities


When meeting author Kurt Vonnegut at Texas Tech University in the mid ’80s — as a college journalist — I asked for his best, professional advice for a budding writer.

“That’s an easy one,” he said, laughing.  “Marry a rich woman.”

Well … I write.  I’m not married … but I know a rich woman.  … That count, Kurt?

Perhaps more appropriately stated, this rich woman and her family are philanthropists, and coincidentally they founded and run the foundation for one of the top museums in the world —The Kimbell Art Museum.  And it is because of The Kimbell that I am thinking of Vonnegut today.

If you know the author’s work at all, you know his biggest claim to fame is “Slaughterhouse Five,” a science fiction novel that also weaves in Vonnegut’s first-hand account of one of the most controversial acts of war during World War II … before we eventually ended that mess.


Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany and an eye witness to Allied bombing — both U.S. and British — that killed estimated hundreds of thousands of civilians and decimated a city that was not known for military significance, but for a Renaissance-like artistic culture.

The pre-WWII Dresden is what brings PingWi-Fi to Fort Worth’s Kimbell Museum for this blog … for the unveiling of “The Lure Of Dresden” — running Feb. 10 to April 28.

If you like detail and perfection, this is the exhibit for you. Imagine dozens of over-sized depictions of some of the most majestic architecture Europe had to offer, captured by the brush of master Bernardo Bellatto — a Venetian, a.k.a. Canaletto — who painted with overwhelming scale, detailed accuracy and colorful scenes of everyday life in the shadows of the 18th century Court of Saxony … a predecessor to Germany. (The Saxon rulers largely were responsible for the protecting the spread of the Protestant Reformation — a turning point in faith that “drew lines” and later brought war to the city …)


Dresden from the Left Bank of the Elbe above the Bridgehead of the Old Town



The architecture in the paintings includes massive fortresses perched on seemingly impenetrable hills, timeless stone bridges fending off the dark waters of the River Elbe, and immaculate houses of all things Holy, as well as governance.  To this day — after near total destruction in both WWII and an earlier assault on the city in The Seven Years War — Dresden is still known as “Florence On The Elbe,” likening its important role as an artistic center to the most culturally rich city in Italy.

Seven Years War


Pirna Viewed from Copitz (cropped)

Augmenting Bellatto’s huge, imaginative and artistic viewpoints of this glorious city, is somewhat of an air of controversy as well, regarding the genius’ use of simple drafting tools and the technically-advanced-for-the-time’s camera obscura in the initial stages, as he plotted out the designs of his paintings.  But have no doubt … the paintings are all about the brush.

It was Bellotto’s accuracy and attention to detail that made his painting instrumental in the rebuilding of Dresden:


Rebuilding Dresden

Camera Obscura


Stephan Koja


After the initial press preview of the exhibit, I think I will go back and spend more time, getting up close and personal with the paintings.  But, quickly, I took the time to spot an unusually large eyeball in one cow as it roamed the foreground of Bellato’s work “Sonnenstein Fortress” — an easy catch for a guy who knows more about milking cows than mixing paints.  I said to my German self, “Well, how German!” as I reviewed the precise repetition of uniformed soldiers in another painting.  And I thought, “Now there’s a social media angle” (selfie) as the host of the media tour pointed out a tiny representation of Bellatto, seated and sketching in the foreground of one of the expansive city scapes.


Dresden from the Right Bank of the Elbe Above the Augustus Bridge



As the tour guides explained the significance of various views of the bank of the Elbe, is seemed to me that Bellatto had almost duplicated the abilities of today’s aerial camera drones with his ability to show various views of the same setting.  But, the painter’s variations are at ground level, for the most part, providing a much more abundant depth of field than that of an aerial perspective.  Pretty cool.


The Breite Gasse (cropped)


Landscape with Schloss Moritzburg


The Zwinger Complex in Dresden


Nancy Edwards


DFW media legend Bobbie Wygant, Edwards

Lastly … I gotta say … touring an exhibit with one of the world’s most renowned experts on the featured painter, is the way to go.  Stephan Koja* shared anecdote after anecdote about the painter, his techniques and the art world’s reaction to the painter’s greatness. And Nancy Edwards, curator of European Art at The Kimbell, provided additional information throughout the tour and one-one-one after the tour.  Hmmm … I wonder if an audio tour with a pre-recorded tour guide can compare?  

I doubt it.

Know what I sayin?

* Stephan Koja, director of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden


Simmer Down Woman … I Do Not Encroach … Much

February 3rd, 2019 · Tags: Coffee Shops · Satire

Well … someone is wound up just a little too tightly, now aren’t they!?!

“Starbucks … security!  Someone has been over served.” 

There I was, sitting at the coffee shop, minding my own business, drinking a venti black tea and also the 120 gallons of water my docs recommend daily … when it hit me.

The urge … ha .. the dire-necessity, surprise attack in my case these days … simmer down … we’re talking #1 for the record … 

But like Charlie Rich once sang, who really “knows what goes on behind closed doors …”  I digress …

As I got up from my chair, I noticed the friendly barista had just come from that part of the cafe, so I was all like “woohoo … possibly a clean bathroom.” (Such a delicacy … ha … wrong word … rarity at a Starbucks …)

I put the computer safely in my leather easy chair and approached.

Behind door number one … well, someone was using it.  Door locked … no success … not for me anyway.

I tried the second and last door available to me, gently trying to tug on the door.  

Foiled again.  It too was locked.

(No … you should be ashamed of yourselves if you are laughing, thinking the old Ping dint get to the Fi before he Wi’ed:) … so to speak.)

I took a step backward, preparing to wait quietly … ok … I might have been dancing around a little big …

When all of the sudden, this gut-wrenching, screaming, mad, coarse female voice yelled at me from behind the door.

“Stop it!  The door is locked!  It’s occupied you stupid son of a b….  You’ve knocked … you’ve pushed on the door … you’ve twisted the knob … Leave me alone you ’SUPER TRUCKER*.’” (* She did not say ‘super trucker’ … she actually yelled another term of non-endearment so that pretty much everyone in the cafe stopped all caffeine intake, turned and stared at me …)

I meekly backed up against the wall … smiling … as some of the other patrons in the cafe smiled, but whispered among themselves speculating just what the commotion was all about.

Then this woman flings the bathroom door open, kind of gets in my face a little bit, as I continue smiling.

She again gives her account of how she wrongly thought I had tried to interrupt her special time behind the door.

I smiled bigger … and going back to a more genteel time addressed her with respect.  “‘Lady’ … I just tried the door handle for the first time … I haven’t knocked or anything … I just walked up and tried the door for the first time. You do know there are other people in Starbucks, right?”

I deduce the friendly barista had probably wanted to clean the facilities — to scratch that off her to-do list and probably gave a quick, but courteous knock.  Then walked off …

… Leaving the Ping to wear the blame bling.

I continued to assure the crazy person that it wasn’t me, and I thought about reassuring her that she is totes cray cray (if I truly understand the meaning of the jargon).

She stormed out … still muttering, as me and everyone else made funny mental notes about her apparel.  Her … for a lack of a better word … nasty looking little boots were black … but around each was a generous little wrap of goldish … brownish … blonde-sh animal fur.

I don’t know fashion, but I know when I don’t see it … to paraphrase and old patron of the arts.

Imagine some crazy woman stomping out of the cafe wearing gaudy boots that kind of look as if two of your old, dowager great, great aunts are clinging to each foot trying to hang on for the wild ride, while wearing their best fox-hair stole. Imagine it looking sort of like that … no wait.

Image a woman wearing stiletto heels that had accident stepped on two rescue animals, piercing them … and just kept on walking …

She was like that.

I hope her fiber works for her and that the rest of the day gets better and better.


Dang it … more water calling my name.  Wish me luck.

Know what I sayin?

Fort Worth Stock Show Is Forever; Caravan Long Gone

January 19th, 2019 · Tags: Music

Although cold/wet weather stifled the parade today, it is Stock Show in Fort Worth.  Interesting, the Martin Luther King Jr. parade is still on for Monday and the Right To Life parade went as planned yesterday. I digress …

Yesterday was day one of the 123rd edition —the oldest continuously running livestock show and rodeo … anywhere. Sadly, the 2019 event will be the very last time all these thousands of boots and beltbuckles and their high-dollar animals will amass in the iconic Will Rogers Arena.  Next year, the event goes Hollywood — or perhaps ups the ante a bit — in the huge, bright, shiny Dickies Arena still under construction nearby. (Did I hear “King George” — as his fans call the guy who ripped off Terry Stafford —will open the place?)

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Looking Forward To Another Great One!

January 1st, 2019 · Tags: Uncategorized

Motel 6 Leaves Something To Be Desired … But Wi-Fi Is A Win

December 30th, 2018 · Tags: Cities · Hotels · Wi-Fi

Since the early days, I have played this game on PingWi-Fi where I see just how cheap I can be … or rather … how inexpensively I can travel.  It’s just who I am … Mr. Frugal:) … I do it to excess … just a crazy game I play.  Ha … I have lived on jerky samples at gas stations, slept down the hall from ex-cons in dubious hostels, used hotel points out the wazoo, packed many a lunch of sandwiches and carrots and water … whatever it takes.

On The Cheap At Sundance Film Festival

Now, given a recent illness and an outpouring of support and love from family and friends … I think it more important than ever before to be a good steward of my finances … especially if I get to do something fun and call it work. 

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Playing The C Card – A Media Relations Farce Of One

December 30th, 2018 · Tags: Satire · Sports

You have my word.  If I am ever invited back for a second time to speak in front of the hundreds of members of the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association, or the Dallas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, or the Fort Worth Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, or to be on a panel at Mass Communications Week at Texas Tech University … or to address journalism students regarding new media at Texas Christian University, I promise that I will tell this story.  You have my word.

If I am ever interviewed again by The Dallas Morning News, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The San Diego News-Tribune, The San Antonio Express-News, eWeek, The Washington Times or any of another couple of dozen or so national publications and Web sites, they will hear this story.  I promise.

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Washington State Cougars, Pirate Take ‘State vs. State Bowl’

December 30th, 2018 · Tags: Cities · Sports


I can barely remember The Alamodome from the first time the PingWi-Fi Blog visited. But I remember all too well the circumstances. Now, a decade later, Coach Mike Leach’s charges returned and recorded a second win in the Valero Alamo Bowl … and this time the captain was there with them to swing his sword.

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ServPro First Responders Bowl … Ain’t Happenin

December 27th, 2018 · Tags: Music · Satire · Sports

All roads leading to the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas seemed to be clear for a timely arrival, even through some rough neighborhoods, west of Fair Park.  I had remembered to bring my media pass and my parking pass, no easy feat for me.  The grayish blue clouds parted for a few moments, as I parked my ride and a few traces of sunlight snuck through.  For a moment, it appeared the weatherman’s prediction of rain around 6 p.m. might be insignificant for the noon kickoff. Things were looking good for the 2018 ServPro First Responders and PingWi-Fi had answered the call.

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Army Destroys Armed Forces Bowl Records, Annihilates Houston

December 26th, 2018 · Tags: Sports


What a spectacle of pride, dedication, competition and patriotic spirit there must be at the annual  Army/Navy Game … I’ve never been, but I am reminded of that classic as I read the final stats from the Black Knights of Army’s most recent win. 

After destroying the Houston Cougars in the 2018 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, 70-14, again and again on the stats sheet, Army broke bowl records … numerous records, many established by The Navy Midshipmen in previous years at The Armed Forces Bowl (with a few BYU and Cal records mixed in.)

161 rushing yards in the first quarter … 592 total offensive yards … 10 sacks for 71 yards … 254 yards on the ground in the first half … 

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Vega … The ‘Circle V’ Unbroken

December 15th, 2018 · Tags: Cities · Music



When I was a young kid and then continuing on through the teen years, I was led to believe — particularly from the coaches who were so crucial in our development, body and soul — that my hometown Vega, Texas was much more special than all the other special, tiny, farm towns throughout Texas … especially in the rugged Texas Panhandle … The “Real Texas,” I like to call it.



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