If you were to create a word cloud featuring every term used on the covers of our magazines, perhaps the largest item visible would be “Best.” Â We love to tell you what’s the best in Dallas. Why do we do this? Because there’s no denying that you love to read about everything that’s the best in Dallas. Even if you think we’re wrong on every count, it gives you supreme pleasure to peruse our picks while shaking your fist in the air in protest.
But which of the bests did you rank the best in 2012?
Those expanses of black-and-white renderings of ancient Roman symbols aren’t just randomly cast onto the page to fill space between doctor’s ads, no sir. They’ve been carefully assembled and arranged by a team of professional writers and editors. It often takes hours upon hours to get those letters grouped into words, and those words placed in precisely the right order. We separate some ofÂ these symbolsÂ from others, as a distinct block, and package them as a single unit that we refer to as an “article” or a “story” or (if we want to pretend we’re highly trained and uniquely qualified specialists) a “piece.”
And sometimes something really special comes of it. Sometimes one of these compositions fires the imagination, or is just plain fun to consume, and it becomes extremely popular. That’s the case with most** of our list of feature stories that drew the most attention online in 2012.
**Admittedly, in a few cases, yes, readers came around for the pretty pictures.
I reread all our blog posts from the last year so that you don’t have to. Jokes aside, 2012 was good to us. I present to you the year that was, in Dallas arts and culture. (Items are numbered, but in no particular order.)
2. The hotly anticipated ABC television series, GCB, finally arrived. Based on Kim Gatlin’s Highland Park-inspired book, Good Christian Bitches, the show inspired a flurry of controversy over its titleÂ as well as some speculation about who’s who in Gatlin’s thinly veiled HP doppelganger, Hillside Park. And then the TV show slipped away, canceled after one season–fortunately this came after we forced the very funny Laura Kostelny to watch and recap every single episode.
3. We, as a nation, officially returned to Southfork Ranch with the premiere of TNT’s Dallas. We got one full season with the late, great Larry Hagman reprising his role as J.R. Ewing before he died of throat cancer in Dallas on November 23. By then, he’d filmed six of the 15 episodes we can look forward to in season two.
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Magazines like ours are often referred to as “glossies” because of the shininess of our pages and the prettiness of our photos. Online we lose the brilliant sheen of the paper, but we can still bring you the memorable images.
Having sorted through the best of what our talented staffers and contributors offered in 2012, we’ve compiled the most remarkable pictures of the year.
Find them right over here.
Chris Jones was asked to pick his best stories of 2012 by Longreads. He led off with this bit about Mike Mooney, despite Mike’s noted wrongheadedness about his ability to take down a giraffe with his bare hands:
Favorite new writer discovery of 2012
I’m always scared of making lists like this, because a year is a long time, and I read a lot, and invariably I’ll forget writers and pieces that I liked very much. But this category is easy for me: Michael J. Mooney. He wrote back-to-back stories for D Magazine this summer that are so different but the same in that they both knocked me on my ass. First he wrote about a brutal rape inÂ “When Lois Pearson Started Fighting Back.”Â (It is a difficult read, but the ending is more than worth it.) And then he wrote the most amazing bowling story ever inÂ “The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever.”Â Plus, he’s a straight-up good dude. Love this guy so much.
4. Can my gun now carry a gun?
(Some of them are better than others.)
I understand some of you are still mourning. Hopefully not too much. There is a sweet spot between hurriedly readying a Burned Big Tex Halloween costume (or, God help us, a Sexy Burned Big Tex costume) and comparing it to an actual national tragedy. Find it, linger there for a moment, then move on. I dealt with it the way I always do: hoping I was the first to makeÂ this joke on Twitter. But now I’m ready to start thinking of the future. Specifically, what will — and, more important, whatÂ should — greet fairgoers next September. I have some ideas that I tried to hide carefully after the jump, but my efforts were clumsy, so they’re just sort of there. Enjoy them at your leisure.
There’s not a detailed methodology on the website, but the list apparently factors in the value of homes, job growth, how well jobs pay, what the climate’s like, how clean the air is, how young/rich/single the residents are, and how long are the average commutes.
They don’t seem to consider crime data or quality of schools, which were important in our own recentÂ Best Dallas Suburbs list. That could explain why none of our top 7 suburbs make their list, as well as other disparities.
We had Flower Mound ranked the highest (No. 8) among the four cities also on their list, whereas it was the lowest (No. 32) among this group on theirs. Allen wasÂ No. 9 for us,Â No. 13 in the nation for them. Mansfield was way down atÂ No. 33 for us, andÂ No. 28 for them. Â And, of course, we rated McKinney only theÂ 26th-best Dallas suburb, a far cry from being the second-best small city in America (trailing only Carmel, Indiana).
I see you are still on the fence (maybe) (hopefully). In addition to what I offered yesterday, I am now willing to include:
My other ticket to see Louis C.K. on October 20. And I promise to try not to repeat his material poorly. Try not to. I can’t promise I won’t.
An old photo of John Wiley Price hosting a radio show. It’s been on my desk forever. I don’t know why.
My New Edition Icon CD. It doesn’t have “N.E. Heartbreak” on it, for some reason. But it does have “If It Isn’t Love.” Which is awesome.
A D Magazine coffee mug. Yes. That’s right. You heard me.
Five (5) More Free Anecdotes. Remember when I got chemical burns from painting the bleachers at the football field during my summer job working on the maintenance crew? I don’t. Because it happened to you.
Free Thigh Drumming Lessons. Ask around the office. I am the best.
A bear cub. (Note: haven’t secured this yet, but I’m close.)
A firm, All-American handshake.
So … thoughts?
As you may have heard, Deron Williams — this summer’s No. 1 free agent target, and former star at The Colony — has apparently narrowed down his choices to the Brooklyn Nets and Your Dallas Mavericks. Williams can make more money with the Nets, and presumably win more games in Dallas playing with Dirk Nowitzki. Being a longtime Mavericks fan and semi-professional dealmaker, I spent some time this weekend coming up with a supplemental package to help Williams decide to come home. Pay attention, Deron.
Rand McNally and USA Today are running a contest called the Best of the Road Rally. Three North Texas cities made the finals.
Specifically, Denton is a finalist for the Most Fun Small Town in America. Â Frisco is a finalist to be named Friendliest Small Town. And Gainesville is a finalist for Most Patriotic. (“Small towns” are apparently any place with a population of less than 150,000, which seems like an overly broad definition.)
Two-person teams will tour the six finalist cities in each of the categories between June 15 and mid-July, when the winners will be announced. Â According to the Denton Record-Chronicle, leaders there are already planning on showing whoever shows up on behalf of the contest a good time:
City officials will plan to introduce the team to the music scene, take them to Apogee Stadium, coordinate with the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, take them to the water park and to visit horse country.
I grew up in Denton. I like the place just fine, and it’s certainly possible to have fun there. But the most fun small town in all of these United States?
So the Texas Tribune on Friday published one of those public-data pieces that they do so well. This one presented a sortable list of the the average annual cost of tution and fees at public universities in Texas. When you sort the list to the find the most expensive, you discover it’s the University of Texas at Dallas.
UTD’s average annual cost ends up at $11,168. That’s 14% higher than No. 2 on the list, UT-Austin. Then there’s UT-Arlington, which is fourth-most expensive, ahead of larger schools like Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Â But why does the Dallas/Richardson branch of the University of Texas system come out on top?
I called the school’s communications department to ask and am waiting for a call back, which I was assured will be coming. In the meanwhile, I’m going to guess that with a somewhat smaller student population disproportionately enrolled in science and engineering courses (for which the school is best known and which are generally more expensive, due to extra fees, than humanities courses), UTD’s averages get tilted up higher than the other schools. Â But that’s just a guess, for now.
(Aside: All of these figures seem dirt cheap to me, even many years after I finished college. Â I attended a private university in Texas, though my school’s generous endowment allowed me to to attend at far less than the retail sticker price.)
Will report back when I get that call.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for UT-Dallas says my guess-planation was “pretty much dead on.”
UPDATE UPDATE: I got some more specifics from UT-Dallas. Out of almost 19,000 students, more than 50 percent of them are science/tech/engineering majors. Another 30 percent are business majors.
Jump to read her more detailed response:
My mother, bless her, didn’t know the sort of inconveniences she was saddling me with when she named me. When she was growing up, in the 1960s, there were relatively few children named “Jason” to be found. She didn’t know that, in the 1970s, when I was born, “Jason” would see a sudden surge in popularity, to the point where it was the third-most popular name for newborn boys. She didn’t know. She just liked the name.
And so, there was I was, the first day of kindergarten with two other boys named Jason in my class. My teacher informed me that I would be known as “Jason H.” And so I remained, saddled with having to use that additional initial, throughout elementary school. As I got older, attending a larger junior high and high school, it only got worse. There was a mix-up in a Little League baseball draft because there was another boy in my town, swear to God, who was named “Jason Head.” Â A coach had made an incorrect assumption that there’d been a typo on the list of players, and one of us (OK, me) ended up being dropped from the list and went undrafted.
All of this is a preface to saying to you expectant parents out there: Don’t do this to your children. Below is a list of the 10 most popular baby names in Texas for 2011.
Avoid any name that ranks currently in the top 10, at least. Maybe even the top 20. Â Otherwise your child will always suspect you’re lying when you tell him he’s special:
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a kid bring a loaded gun to school and, as Bethany mentioned this morning, crack cocaine. What dangerous and/or illegal item should we expect to turn up in school next?
That’s according to GQ. And “scent critic” Chandler Burr means “smelliest” in the best possible way:
Cities, like people, have their own smell, their own body odors and perfumes that take on personalities. Dallas is one of the strangest scents I have ever encountered. Highways of strip malls and gas stations and exit signs. Insanely wide streets. It’s very New World-smelling. It almost has a non-scent scent. Like many cities, you get concrete, car exhaust, and dust. If you really focus, you can pick up on the nearly undetectable Texas live oak. It’s best during thunderstorms, though. The crisp smell of lightning and rain and vast flat space pervades and takes on a three-dimensional quality.
God, I love the smell of the air before a thunderstorm. He’s got that right, but I never thought it peculiar to Dallas.
We’re No. 10 on the list. The best smelling place? Â Los Angeles.
It’s a strange list. Mumbai ranks above us too. Â Paris is singled out as the worst-smelling.