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Ask John Neely Bryan: Issuing a Challenge to the Dallas City Council

Friends, I must report that my editor and I nearly came to blows this week over the contents of today’s column, which I am officially filing under protest. I badly wished to give his proboscis a good wringing after he required that I supplant the golden prose I had spun for both your entertainment and edification with a tepid pool of my second-best work.

Granted, my second-best work is more satisfying to the mind and the soul than 99.9 percent of the pabulum churned out by other so-called “professional” scribes. That does not change the fact that I must live with the knowledge I have done you a disservice, dear readers. You’ll learn nothing of my extensive knowledge of weaponry or hand-to-hand combat, and all because some yellow-bellied stuffed-shirt down at the D Magazine offices is afraid the company might be charged with inciting a riot or threatening the lives of public officials if we’d run my original, superior text.

Oh, hang it all. Let’s get this nonsense disposed with.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Let Us Give Thanks For ‘Dallitude’

I am of two minds about the forthcoming holiday. On the one hand, it was that lousy crook Abe Lincoln — father of the federal income tax, a progressive income tax — who instituted the Day of Thanks Giving as a late November national mandate instead of letting each state handle its own business like the Good Lord and the Founders intended. Maybe Texans don’t like being limited to a single Thanksgiving each year. Maybe we’d rather not do it in the fall. Maybe we’d prefer it on some Sunday morning in May when we might celebrate with a light brunch. The federal jackboots force turkey and gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce down our gullets and call it freedom? No sir. Not on my watch. Not until I’ve at least been given the option of a mimosa with a small plate of cantaloupe on the side.

On the other hand: pumpkin pie. It’s what the Creator himself eats for dessert.

Now to the business at hand.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: How the Yankees Conquered Dallas

I am truly humbled — (Ed.: You mean “honored” (I damn well know what I mean — JNB)) — to see the response elicited by my first foray into the dispensing of well-earned opinions, advisories, and judgments onto the World Wide Web. Most of you magnificently performed your duty of piling missives into the inbox at ask@dmagazine.com, and I shall endeavor to address your queries with all the timeliness of a bow-legged bobcat returning to its native soil during the first moon after the spring equinox to suffer the slow death it deserves for being such an abomination before God.

Some of you, I’m sorry to say, didn’t take my invitation seriously enough. “Boxers or briefs?” What sort of community icon, such that I am, would dare degrade himself by answering such impertinence? And what man in full possession of his faculties wears anything other than boxer-briefs these days?

Onward to more significant inquiries.

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Poll: The Greatest D Magazine Story in the History of Ever

By now you’ve had a chance, obviously, to read all 40 of the greatest stories ever published in the pages of D Magazine. In honor of our 40th anniversary, we revealed them over the course of 39 weeks between February and November. Now it’s time for a little scoreboarding.

Four writers landed two bylines apiece on the list: David Bauer (“The Sexiest Woman in Dallas” and “Akin vs. Dahl”), John Bloom (“Ole Anthony and the God Thing” and “Misty Crest: On the Frontier of the New American Dream”), Mike Shropshire (“Clayton Williams: Texas Crude” and “How Willie Nelson Saved Carl’s Corner — Again”), and Zac Crain (“Charley Pride Turns 70 and — Galdurnit — He’s Still Got Something” and “Love and Loss in a Small Texas Town.”)

One scribe boasts three — or two-and-a-half, depending on how you look at it. That’s Skip Hollandsworth (“Max Goldblatt’s Last Hurrah,” “The Fall of the House of Von Erich,” and “The Black Widow.”)

So one of those gents has got to be the greatest writer in the history of our humble publication, but we’re not here to debate that. We’re here to ask you to vote on the single-greatest story ever in D. The nominees are listed below. Write-ins accepted in the comments.

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How Should Gainesville Memorialize Killing 42 Men?

The Texas Observer has a piece about the recent unveiling of a memorial in Gainesville — in Cooke County, on Interstate 35, just south of the Red River — to the deaths of 42 men killed by the town for alleged treasonous activities in the midst of the Civil War. What duty does the city have to recognize this horrific act of mob violence?

The Medal of Honor program helped Gainesville get nominated—and then win—Rand McNally’s 2012 competition for “Most Patriotic Small Town in America,” a designation the town’s mayor, Jim Goldsworthy, loves to mention.

Around the time the town won the Rand McNally award, the Morton Museum of Cooke County leased a billboard to advertise a 150th anniversary: “October’s Reign of Terror, Commemorating the Great Hanging of 1862.” Within days, the city’s mayor pro tem, Ray Nichols, had voiced his disapproval. “Gainesville was voted most patriotic city in America this year, and we are very excited about it and our Medal of Honor Host City program. I think those are important. That other thing? I don’t think that’s important to anybody,” Nichols told the Austin American-Statesman at the time.

Though no explicit demands were made, the Cooke County Heritage Society pulled its sponsorship of the anniversary event, according to former Heritage Society President Steve Gordon, for fear that city officials’ anger might mean funding cuts to the town’s history museum. Gordon, an Oklahoma native and engineer who retired to Gainesville, was livid. “This story’s got to come up,” he says. “A lot of these people’s [families] weren’t even here in 1862. Why are they so upset?”

“These are good people,” McCaslin says. “They want their town to look good. You want to live in a town you’re proud of. That’s not a bad thing. Where does the Great Hanging fit into that? The town killed 42 people. It’s kind of a clunker.”

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New Lease on Life For Two Historic Buildings Downtown

Two buildings downtown that have sat vacant for decades are set for major redevelopments. Yesterday, the Dallas Business Journal broke news that the historic Dallas High School has finally found a developer, and what’s encouraging is that it’s South Side on Lamar developer Jack Mathews. Mathews has a strong track record with regards to turning around historic properties. Dallas High School has sat on preservation lists for years, and with its odd lot – adjacent to I-345 and Dart – it was clear it would take a creative developer (plus a rebounding downtown residential market) to make the property work. Mathews hasn’t said what he’ll do with the building, but it’s reasonable to expect some mix of residential and commercial.

The other historic property long considered in-danger is the 508 Park, the four story art deco (or, “Zig Zag Moderne,” if you want to nit-pick architectural styles) that was famously the place where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson made half of his recordings.

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