His Airness



Michael Jordan Free Throw Line Dunk

Dear Michael Jordan,

I come bearing a letter of general thoughts concerning basketball, my of favorite sports, the sport which you so dominated in your time.

Basketball has become a global game. Second only to soccer, basketball is played in the most countries around the world. First off,  it doesn’t take much equipment to play basketball. A ball and a public hoop; a wire hanger bent and hooked onto a closet door plus a few rolled up socks and you’re “playing basketball”. The sport is accessible.

In your time, you helped plant the seeds for basketball to become a global game. Through the hard work of the NBA and coaches across the globe it has fully come to fruition in recent years. The most dominate franchise of the last decade (whom I will not name) has been lead by 3 foreign born players. And just last week, Dirk Nowitzki, who you are on record saying would have excelled in your era just as he does today, became the number 9 all-time leading scorer in NBA history. Now kids all over the world have NBA superstars to aspire to, from China to Israel, Argentina to Puerto Rico.

Its an American cultural export that I’m proud to be a part of. And as hard as the NFL may try, I have no expectation that it will ever be widely played outside of the USA (even in England).

Hope to hear some more inflammatory comments on the state of the NBA from you soon.

PS: Thanks for the great years at Jordan Flight School.

My favorite Veteran


Dear Jack Bernstein,

Happy Veterans Days! You are my favorite veteran by a longshot. As a veteran of a foreign war, I want to thank you for preserving the peace that was fought for in the Korean War.

From what I know about your service, you, thankfully, did not see combat because you arrived after the July 1953 armistice (or if you did see action, you’ve never mentioned it to me). Did you receive a Korean Defense Service Medal for serving after 1954? Apparently George W. Bush created the honor in 2002. It’s time to collect if you haven’t!

Any time that you’ve talked about your time in the Army, it seems like it was a good experience for you overall. A favorite story of mine is about “Stinky”, the stray dog you kept while stationed there. I remember being so sad that you had to leave Stinky behind when you returned home and always wondered what happened to him. Stinky is the legacy you left in Korea; perhaps his descendants are still wandering the streets today.

You’ve always talked about traveling back to Korea all these years later. I’m ready when you are and hope we can make that trip happen someday. What are some of your favorite memories from your time in Korea? Any moments of cultural exchange that helped shape your outlook?


Hayden: You made my day.that you remembered some of my “war stories” means so much to me.
also that as you have grown up and gone in your own directions our bond has only grown stronger. How lucky and proud I am to have you as a grandson.

I didn’t reply to your question. without getting into to much detail and thought which we can discuss when we are together I will say that my 2 years in the military and 18 months in Korea changed me as a person in a very positive way and helped me become successful in my career.




Dear Jimmy Wales,

I just donated $3 to Wikipedia, a laughably small amount considering how often I reference Wikipedia. The little disclaimer called me to action and I donated. A simple appeal to Logos is all it took. How do I know what Logos mean? I looked it up on Wikipedia.

How did people settle petty arguments around the dinner table before Wikipedia (or the Internet in general)? Fistacuffs I assume.

Cumulatively, I’ve probably spent days of my life just surfing through links on Wikipedia. It never gets old because there is always news direction to go, another vein of information to discover. Sometimes I’ll click around and see how many links it takes to get from one article to a seemingly totally unrelated one. Here’s are some good examples:

Spongebob Squarepants to Hitler- 4 clicks

Steve Jobs to Jesus- 3 clicks

Texas to Obseity- 1 click (obviously)


Search for “Wiki race” on Youtube – there are some funny videos of
people racing to get from one place to another on Wikipedia in the
fewest clicks.



Booze Week

Dear Tito Beveridge,

Ok right off the bat, your last name is Beveridge and you are in the beverage business.

That raises some red flags. It’s just is too perfectly matched and I’m a bit skeptical. Are you a real person “Tito”, or are you the creation of some copywriter? Because if you are just a skillfully crafted personality, like the Most Interesting Man in the World for instance, I’d be ok with it. Your story is still darn good.

Assuming you are real, there is one part of your story in which I’m particularly interested. The press I’ve found doesn’t goes into much detail about how you came to hold the first distillery permit in Texas. Was it simply persistence and a careful read of the TABC codes? That seems even less likely than your name.

I want a story about a smooth-talking Texas moonshiner who came to legitimize his illegal distilling activities through a series of back channels and shady go-betweens that eventually landed him (you) in the Texas Governer’s office. A deal was cut that night between you and the Governer, the details of which never left that room. Alls we know is that you walked out with a golden ticket to turn corn into fun. They could make a movie about you starring Matthew McConnahay. Don’t you want to be played by Matthew McConnahay? Yes you do. Every Texan  wants to be played by Matthew McConnahay.

Well however it went, way to stick it to the Ruskies and make some great Vodka right here in Texas.


Hi Hayden -
Thanks so much for sending this letter through! I made sure Tito got a copy of it as well :)
Sadly, it was not a shady deal that led to Tito having the first legal permit to distill in Texas. But it was good, old fashioned stubbornness coupled with the ability to read government documents (learned from his days as a geologist in the oil business). The TABC told him he couldn’t do it, so he read the code and discovered there was nothing in there to stop him. They still wouldn’t let him do it, so he went to the Feds and got them to agree, and finally TABC changed their mind. It’s been a wild ride ever since …
Thanks again for writing to Tito. Hope your blog project is going well!

Nicole A Portwood
VP Brand Marketing
Fifth Generation, Inc
Home of Tito’s Handmade Vodka 

America’s Original Craft Vodka


Full Bodied With Hints of Hope

Booze Week

The Austin Winery

Dear Austin Winery,

I am a self proclaimed beer snob but have next to no idea when it comes to wine. Ok there’s red and white of course, and I know that a Zinfandel is stronger (more full bodied?) than a Pinot Noir with Merlot somewhere in between. That’s about the extent of my wine knowledge.

Aside from the advantages it would give me as a waiter at a fine-dining restaurant, I want to gain an understanding and appreciation of wine for my own satisfaction. Beer was easy to get into; it seems so accessible in comparison. The nicest beer at the store might cost $20, when “nice” bottles of wine barely start at that price. Breweries are casual places filled with jolly bearded dudes while the only vineyard I’ve been to was mostly about looking good while drinking the wine. Beer feels inclusive, wine feels exclusive. Basically, I’m a little bit intimidated by the wine world.

Part of the problem is that I don’t know where to begin. The wine aisle a mysterious place. I want to taste the black cherries and currant but I don’t even know what currant is (Google tells me it’s basically a cherry). Sometimes I think my palate isn’t refined enough and that makes me sad. Maybe I’m not cut out for wine.

So as a young wine entrepreneurs maybe you can give me (and other like me, surely I’m not alone) hope that I too can appreciate wine. Maybe you can help re-brand wine to be more approachable for those of us who can’t or won’t spend $100+ on a bottle. Teach us, guide us, and together we will break down the barriers of wine exclusivity and all enjoy.

PS: What grape grows best in Texas? Go!


Dear Robert Wilonsky,

Dallas is changing and for natives such as ourselves, that is either exciting or concerning. Very often it is both.

I moved back to Dallas about a year ago after living away for 6 years during college (Hook ‘em). When I go looking for info about this building being demolished or that botched city plan, I, more often than not, find an article you’ve penned. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the guy who understands the evolution of Dallas as well as any one person can.

By all measures the city is booming. Everywhere I turn there are cranes building new generic mid-rise apartment buildings. I wasn’t quite conscious for boom of the 80’s so to me, this feels like an unprecedented time of development. As a city grows up (hopefully Dallas is mostly done growing out), growing pains are to be expected. Room must be made for all this development, I understand that. But must development come at the expense of our few old, historic buildings?

Albeit, we’re not talking about demolishing ancient Greek ruins here (though if we did have ancient ruins, my guess is that they would have been razed in the 70′s for a freeway). Where does this ‘out with the old, in with the new’ culture stem from? It’s an inherently Dallas trait that I’ll never fully understand.

At least I’m not totally alone in my point of view. There are people are working to slow down this ‘demolish now ask questions later’ mentality but I’m afraid the tradition runs too deep. Other cities find a balance of restoration and new but this seems to escape Dallas.

I’m not trying to stop the progress. I’m excited about the direction our city is heading and I fully believe Dallas’ best days are ahead of it. I just don’t think you can understand where you’re going if you don’t remember where you’ve been.

PS: Are we every going to have a usable Trinity River?

Identity Theft

Me VS Linguine

Dear Brad Bird,

I’m want to know where you saw me. Was it at Disney Land? Maybe at a baseball game, or perhaps I served you a plate of food? The resemblance is too close to be a coincidence. To top it off, I even sound like him.

I am your character Linguini.

You appropriated my likeness without my expressed written consent. My personality rights as a citizen of the United States of America have been violated as (broadly) protected under the 1st Amendment. Even all these years later, people still make the connection. Because it is my image you’re selling. Luckily for you, Ratatouille is one of my favorite Pixar movies and I don’t mind the association. So instead of demanding my cut of the $206,445,654 gross domestic revenue, I just want a response for the blog.

You have 30 days to comply before you hear from my lawyers (Uncle Mike, lets get ready for court).



Free at last, Free at last

Dear Richard Branson,

Yes, Martin Luther King said it best. Great God Almighty, we are free at last from the oppression of the Wright Amendment. It really is a great day for the city of Dallas and all Dallasites who consider themselves travelers. It’s hard to believe that it took this long to repeal the dumb thing.

There is easily enough demand to fill both airports’ gates with flights across the globe, but American Airlines still won’t let Love Field use all it’s gates. Maybe if they took more pride in the quality of their product they wouldn’t need to use these corporate lobbyist bully tactics to withhold a tiny handful of gates from operation. ‘

Southwest Airlines has been running a massive advertising campaign celebrating their freedom (and new flights). By all measures it will be a boon for them but don’t think they’re not looking over their shoulder at you. I’ve noticed some Virgin America ads recently as well, but it’s not even close to their scale. I think you’ve got them shook a bit.

I’ve yet to fly Virgin America but I look forward to the new opportunity to do so. Furthermore, I look forward to my opportunity to fly to space with Virgin Galactic as well. Maybe I’ll ask for a trip to space for my birthday. (time to sell the house Dad?)

PS: What did you do with your day in Dallas?


Not Keeping it Weird

Dear “ The Charlies” (Charles Attal, Charlie Jones and Charlie Walker),

Everyone remembers their first time. It was 2006 and I was only a junior in high school. No, not my first time for that…it was my first music festival experience at Austin City Limits.

While it’s well documented that I’m mostly over the traditional mega-festival experience, I will say that ACL will always have a special place in my heart and I did make it down for the first Friday this year. I had to see my favorite hip-hop group of all time, Outkast, and the performance did not disappoint.

Tonight wraps up the second weekend of the Festival for yet another year. Was this year bittersweet for ya’ll as a buy-out from LiveNation looms of your heads?

The news comes as a bit of a disappointment to me, and here’s why. C3 Presents is (was?) an independent Austin company that rose up to become the third largest concert promoter in the country. That’s something to be really proud of;  something for the city to be proud of. A buy-out from LiveNation takes that away from Austin. That’s not keeping it “weird”. That’s moving up and out (a microcosm for what’s happening to Austin in general).

I’m always skeptical when the second largest company in an industry buys the third largest. How does this keep happening in our economy today? I don’t buy the notion that it makes for a better product or that it enables you to bring the experience to more people. It makes for less competition and a watered down experience. To that point, I do feel that the festival market is already over-saturated so maybe it’s a good time to sell.

Regardless of this news, I’m proud that ACL is one of the nation’s powerhouse festivals right here in Texas.

The Teacher

Dear Mr. Hagood,

In my first class with you some 12 years ago, you explained to us that we would be writing every day that year. That unlike math geniuses, greater writers are not born but made. That came as a relief to me because I had been terrible at math ever since two consecutive years of Ms. Owens as my math teacher. We wrote for 5ish minutes before each class started as well as on our own, one page per school night.

I still remember the first quote you had us write our thoughts about:

“Notice: Beach is closed after 10pm.”

I looked up after college and realized that writing is really my best skill. It’s what set me apart throughout college and stands as the one thing I can confidently point to when someone asks, “What can you do?” My motivation for this letter-a-day project spawned at least in part from the idea that if you write (or do anything) every day, you are destined to improve. If I fancy myself a writer, then I better strive to improve, daily.

What I’ve come to realize is that writing is just organized thinking. If you can express an idea in written words, it can be shared, improved on, and hopefully be worth something to someone. And as of today, I can call myself a copywriter (meaning I’m employed, at least partially through my ability to write). Back in 9th grade, I probably wouldn’t have guessed that writing would come to define a major part my professional life.

Every time I sit down to write, it is a challenge. A blank page is, and probably always will be, quite intimidating. So I start spewing broken thoughts onto the page, keeping some, reject most. I build from there until I have a direction and then it slowly comes together. Then someone *cough cough* with a red pen slashes it to pieces, which is frustrating but again part of the challenge. You pick up the (figurative) pieces and work from there. At the end of the process, you look at the finished work and almost forget how you got from that blank page to something worth ($?) reading.

I’ve come to thrive on that challenge and I thank you.

PS: I hope you still start your classes with a prompt/quote and make your students keep a journal. I’ve gone back and read some of my old thoughts and it’s a trip.




Thank you so much for the letter; it was totally unexpected!
I’m so glad to hear that you’re a writer, Hayden, even if you’re still on the first rung as a copy writer. I’ve had former students who started out the same way and one of them recently published an article in the on-line New Yorker over the recent book-banning controversy at Highland Park.  Hang in there!  You have all my encouragement and best wishes, Hayden, because, as you know, writing well is difficult, time-consuming, and the most intellectually challenging task you could ask for. You also have all my respect because sticking with something as hard as writing is rare.  
It was such a treat to get your letter.  Write back anytime, and let me know if I can do anything for you.
ps. As I no longer teach 8th and 9th grade, I do not do the journal, but the tradition is being carried on by Mr. Jennings.

Tim HagoodUpper School English Teacher

Upper School Philosophy Teacher

Lakehill Preparatory School


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