Giant Iguanas, Record Setting Boots and Six Dancing Frogs - The Art of Bob 'Daddy-O' Wade













Bob "Daddy-O" Wade said it all started for him with one gigantic iguana. If you go by the entrance of the Fort Worth Zoo, you'll see the current resting place of the Iguana. But it more infamously sat atop the Lone Star Cafe in New York City during the 70s and 80s. (aka The Unofficial Texas Embassy)

The Lone Star Cafe, the Unofficial Texas Embassy - The Most Famous Iguana Perch

   Before its New Your City days, the Iguana lived near Niagara Falls. The lizard was created for display one summer in the 70s for Art Park, a music and art venue near Niagara Falls. After the summer, Wade had to find a new home for the Iguana. Through friends, he contacted the Lone Star Cafe who purchased the Iguana for their roof.

   Some New York neighbors felt the Iguana was an eyesore, an oversized code busting advertisement. A court battle designated the Iguana as art, but nonetheless, the owners of the Lone Star Cafe lowers the sculpture below the roofs parapet, so it wouldn't be seen from the street, thus quelling neighborhood dissent.

   In 1983, Mayor Ed Koch led an effort to have the Iguana redisplayed (after tiring of wrongly directed complaints that he banned the lizard)  The rededication of the Iguana was attended by Ed Koch and Texas Governor Mark White, (who just happened to be in New York City on state business that week).

The Iguana being lowered by helicopter at the Fort Worth Zoo

   When the Lone Star Cafe closed in 1989, the iguana went though series of hands, including an east coast horse ranch and a pier in Tribeca. It was finally purchased by patrons in Fort Worth, where it sat in a barn for 11 years. Eventually it found a home atop the Fort Worth Zoo, where it was delivered by helicopter.  (check out the trailer for an upcoming documentary on the Iguana)

   
                        


   The notoriety of the giant Iguana begat the World's Largest Cowboy Boots, perhaps San Antonio's most iconic site, following the Alamo and the Riverwalk.


The boots were created in 1979 for the Washington Project for the Arts. The large scale work of public art was constructed and displayed just a few blocks from the White House for over a year on 12th and Avenue G. After the exhibit was over, the Rouse Corporation offered to buy the boots to place outside North Star Mall.

The Boots being constructed for the first time in downtown Washington DC

Bob "Daddy-O" Wad across the street from his boots

   The transportation of the giant boots was an adventure in itself. The boots got stuck in an overpass before leaving the Washington DC. The trucks transporting the oversized footwear had to take back roads all the way to Texas to avoid police, using CB radios to alert the drivers to possible trouble.
   
The boots being reassembled in San Antonio
   In the early days at the mall, KTSA radio became the talk of the town when they built a broadcast booth atop the boot.  For a short time, a homeless man had made a home inside the boot. Today the World’s Largest Pair of Boots has become one of San Antonio’s most recognizable sites. 

   The Iguana begat the Boots, the Boots begat the Frogs.  The six frogs were originally located in Dallas on lower Greenville Ave atop a club called Tango were Bob Wade's next iconic commission. The club was opened by Shannon Wynne, the son of Angus Wynne, the developer of Six Flags.

   The club was originally to be named Six Frogs over Tango. Like the Iguana, Dallas neighbors complained about the frogs. Eventually, the frogs were removed and took a circular tour of Texas. For a while they rested above a gas station south of Dallas called Carl's Corner.

The Frogs atop the Chuy's in Nashville
   Today, 3 are in Nashville atop a Chuy's restaurant and 3 are back on Greenville Ave atop the Taco Cabana which sits at the same address as Tango.

Bob Daddy-O Wade,  who lives a larger than life existence, passed away on December 23, 2019 at his home in Austin.  

   On a personal note:  These stories come from an afternoon I spent interviewing Bob when I was finishing my book San Antonio Uncovered.  Of all the interviews I did for the book, that was by far my favorite. He was so generous of his time and his stories were as wonderfully outrageous as his art.  He was a true Texas treasure. 

The Frogs at Taco Cabana





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Baseball is Killing It in the Digital Age

  I recently heard a sports talk show host lament about record low television ratings for baseball’s All Star game, throwing out the possibility of perhaps retiring the mid summer classic  
  Recent reports about falling national ratings, attendance numbers trending down and the lack of national stars for the national pastime give the impression that baseball is in trouble.

  May I suggest the opposite.  Baseball is killing it right now.  Consider that the Kansas City Royals, a small market team just went on the market for over $1 Billion dollars. Why so much? I believe that no other sport has positioned itself as well as baseball for the digital age. When in comes to creating content and revenue from digital content, baseball is king.

  Probably the biggest revenue generator is television.  Not so much the national broadcasts of FOX, FS1, TBS and ESPN but the regional networks.  According to Forbes, baseball ranks #1 in primetime cable broadcasts in every major league market except Miami. In all primetime broadcasts, 12 teams broadcasts beat everything on network TV in their market, and another 8 are in the top 3.  In 2018, ratings increased by 2%.  And advertisers covet live sports, where time shifting rarely happens.

   MLB continues to blaze new paths for showcasing their sport. Facebook has been showing games for 2 years and on July 18, 2019, 2 million people watched the very first MLB Game of the Week on You Tube.  To compare, a recent Wednesday night ESPN broadcast of the Mets - Yankees game drew 756,000 viewers.  Ask your college aged kid if he watches more Cable TV, Netflix or YouTube. You may be surprised by their answer. 

  And the MLB Network is in over 69,000,000 homes and was the most successful cable network launch of all times. It’s also now available on SlingTV for those who are cutting their cable cords. 

  But where baseball is really on the forefront is the digital world. Consider that in 2010 when Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPad, he invited Major League Baseball to be part of the presentation to show how the new device could live stream games. The invitation to participate in the historic conference was made to BAM, MLB’s digital arm, aka Baseball Advanced Media. 

   In 2000, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf convinced then Commissioner Bud Selig and the other owners to pool their digital rights. Many compare this to Pete Rozelle’s efforts in the 1960s to get NFL owners to pool their TV rights. Reinsdorf said few realized how historic this was,  “A lot of [MLB] clubs thought, Okay, we’ll go along. We don’t think this will amount to much."

   Each owner agreed to invest $1,000,000 million a year for 4 years in the digital start up. By the second year, they were making profit. By 2010, BAM was generating $620 million a year. As bandwidths increased, baseball was ready with the AtBat app, MLB.TV and MLB.com.  Every game,  highlight and stat is available on your phone, your smart TV, your tablet and your XBox.  Baseball has 162 games with dozens of highlights and videos per game.  No other sport creates as much content for the digital age as baseball.  Football may draw huge national ratings, but they play one game a week. In an era were everything is available on your phone 24 / 7, no other sport creates as much opportunity for digital revenue as baseball. 

   We sometimes forget how streaming games, movies and Game of Thrones on your phone is a relatively new phenomena. And you can thank baseball for that. As bandwidths increased, it was BAM that created the technology to live stream games. Technology that was later licensed to ESPN and HBO for their apps.  Baseball’s streaming technology became so valuable that  MLB owners and BAM spun off a separate company BAMTech which they later sold a 75% share to Disney for $2.6 Billion dollars.  Yes, 2.6 Billion.
  
   MLB has become so adept at making digital revenue that in 2015, they made the unprecedented move to purchase the NHL’s digital and cable rights for $100 Million a year for 6 years.  The NHL Network is now run by the MLB Network and broadcasts out of their Secaucus, New Jersey studios.  Forbes calls BAM the “"the Biggest Media Company You've Never Heard Of”

“I think (BAM) it’s not only one of the great stories in American sports business, but one of the great stories in American business.”   Bud Selig former Commissioner of Major League Baseball

   How much revenue is baseball generating from their digital platforms?  Baseball doesn’t seem to offer those numbers anymore.  Is the players union even aware of the exact amount of money BAM makes for the owners? Did they see any of the revenue from the $2.6 Billion BAMTech sale?  If one league can buy the digital and cable rights of another sport for $100 million a year, does that suggest that MLB has morphed from baseball’s governing body to a sports content provider? 

   Which takes us back to the All Star game.  When articles are written and sports talk hosts comment on the falling ratings of the mid summer classic, they are thinking old school. The All Star game and its other events generate so much revenue for Major League Baseball, that the prize for this year's Home Run Derby increased from $250,000 to a cool $1 Million, almost double the $555,000 winner Pete Alonso will make for playing a full season with the Mets.  

   Or consider that since 2013, only one team has been up for sale, the Miami Marlins, arguably the lowest revenue team in baseball.  They sold for $1.3 Billion. 


   Is baseball a dying sport with low TV ratings and falling attendance. Or a sport that is killing it in the digital age? 

The Grave Sites of Bonnie and Clyde (Plus the Barrow Gas Station Location)



Just Added:  Hear Mark Stuertz author of Secret Dallas discusses the gas station owed by Clyde Barrow's father that still exists in West Dallas.  Hear the interview at the 10:15 mark 





 I recently set out to visit the grave sites of notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde. Both  are buried in Dallas. Despite their wish to be buried together, the Parker family denied their request.


    Bonnie Parker was originally buried in Fishtrap Cemetery off Singleton Road in Dallas but in 1945 her body was moved to the new Crown Hill Cemetery.





Directions to Crown Hill Cemetery 

Enter Through the Lombardy Lane Entrance



   Clyde Barrow was buried next to his brother in west Dallas' Western Heights Cemetery off Fort Worth Avenue. The cemetery has a fence and a locked gate, which causes a lot of visitors to think that that cemetery is off limits.
    But at the east corner of the lot, the fence ends, and there are welcoming steps into the cemetery.

Directions

No criminal mind could penetrate this fortress of security. 

A few years from the locked gate are steps into the cemetery






   Not far from the Barrow gravesite is a old gas station that was once home to the Barrow family. Located on 1221 Singleton, the building is vacant and for sale.

  Directions 

The gas station in its early days

Available for purchase, the gas station today 




Enjoy My Blog?  Check out my book,

The Travis Club

Intrigue + Mystery + Romance + San Antonio


"What a surprise! . . .a page-turner . . . extremely well-written and well researched. . . I highly recommend this book to all mystery lovers . . . a great read. . . couldn't wait to find out what would happen next . . . I love a book you can't put down, and this certainly fit the bill . . . very engaging . . .  I really couldn't stop reading it . . . a fantastic and completely believable story"


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Will This Bridge Ever Open? Does Anybody Even Realize It's Closed

The city of Dallas built two dramatic pedestrian bridges (The Margaret McDermott Bridge) over the Trinity River.  What's more amazing; the bridges can't get certified because of cost cutting measures or that no one realizes that the bridges never opened?


             


How did we get to this point?  Read the story in the