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Making Dallas Even Better

Podcast: The Future of DART Rail Through Downtown Dallas

The July issue of D Magazine (on newsstands now, but not yet available online) includes a story about the future of DART light-rail through downtown Dallas. This week’s podcast guest was our own Peter Simek, who typed that story. He chatted with Tim and Zac about the options for the future of the public transportation system, the lawsuit State Sen. Royce West filed against Dallas Cowboys player Dez Bryant, and Galveston, for some reason.

First a few notes and corrections before you dial up the show in your iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcatcher:

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Chewbacca Mom Gets an Action Figure

The Grand Prairie woman whose Facebook Live video went viral hasn’t seen the end of her 15 minutes yet. Hasbro turned her into a toy:

The figurine is all Chewbacca from the neck down, but feature’s Payne’s famously smiling face and a tiny little version of her favorite mask. A Hasbro spokesperson told CNN the talking toy is loaded with 13 quotes from Payne’s video, including a version of her laugh and the now-iconic line “I’m such a happy Chewbacca!”

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D CEO Named Best Regional Business Magazine for Fourth Straight Year

The Alliance of Area Business Publishers presented D CEO Magazine with 10 Editorial Excellence awards Saturday, including a record nine gold (or first-place) awards. One of the nine awards was for best magazine, marking the fourth straight year that D CEO has won the top magazine honor. The annual competition recognizes excellence in journalism, photography and design achieved by regional business publications. The 2016 competition drew nearly 650 entries from newspaper and magazine business periodicals in the United States, Canada, and Australia. It was judged by faculty members from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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What You Missed at D Magazine’s Happy Hour With an Agenda

Do you enjoy drinking drinks and listening to spirited discussions about some of the most significant issues facing Dallas today? You do? Then why weren’t you at Tuesday evening’s “Happy Hour With an Agenda” here at D Magazine World Headquarters?

You missed your chance to hear City Councilman Philip Kingston, CitySquare CEO Larry James, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance president and CEO Cindy Crain, and Ikenna Mogbo of Metrocare Services talk about which top prospects the Texas Rangers should select in tonight’s MLB Draft — kidding, no, of course their conversation focused on the difficulties of humanely and effectively aiding the city’s homeless population.

Never fear: You can feel like you were there by viewing the Periscope video. You’ll have to provide your own beer, however.

If you’d like not to be left out of future opportunities to attend events like this, sign up for an email alert right this way.

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Generally Excellent D Magazine Wins Awards

D Magazine took home the biggest prize available at Monday evening’s City and Regional Magazine Association awards, which were handed out at a star-absent ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Denver.

“General Excellence” honors the top magazine of the year in each of three circulation classes (D Magazine is a middleweight). Our print product beat out the other finalists at our readership level: Cincinnati, Indianapolis Monthly, Portland Monthly, and Seattle Met. All excellent magazines themselves, which makes the prize all the sweeter and far from a sure thing headed into the ceremony.

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Podcast: Skip Hollandsworth, Author of The Midnight Assassin, Talks Serial Killers and Costco Jewelry

You can make an argument that Skip Hollandsworth is the all-time champ among D Magazine writers. He’s the only staffer, current or former, to have placed three bylines in our list of our 40 greatest stories ever, which we put together a couple years ago. (If you haven’t read “The Black Widow,” “Max’s Last Hurrah,” or “The Fall of the House of Von Erich,” you should.)

Hollandsworth defected to Texas Monthly in 1989 and is now one of five (!) executive editors on that magazine’s masthead. He still lives in Dallas and is the author of a well-reviewed new book called The Midnight Assassin, about the unsolved mystery of a serial killer in 19th-century Austin.

He was good enough to sit down with us at the Old Monk for a chat that spent far more time focused on the merits of Costco than I would’ve expected.

You can have a listen via the player below, or find EarBurner on iTunes, Stitcher, or through your favorite podcatcher. But first, please note:

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Friday Night Lights Edition

Last weekend, voters in McKinney approved a bond that will fund a nearly $63 million high school football stadium, and national press outlets have taken note. At that price, it would be the most expensive in the country, supplanting the troubled Allen ISD ball yard.

Today’s nomination goes to a Forbes contributor, Maury Brown. He writes:

This all gets back to keeping up with the Jones’. McKinney may be the biggest Taj Mahal high school football stadium now, but only a fool would think that there isn’t already boosters from other areas trying to mount a charge to get theirs built. Everything is bigger in Texas… including stadium envy.

Pray this newfound trend doesn’t gain a foothold outside the state. Imagine what the response from the state that prides itself on saying, “don’t mess with Texas” might be.

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The New York Times Tries to Explain Texas

Over the weekend, writing from his home in Houston, Manny Fernandez of the New York Times speculated about what makes Texas so Texas:

Before he was elected in 2014, Sid Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner, traveled the state using an unofficial campaign slogan supplied to him by his campaign treasurer, the rocker and conservative provocateur Ted Nugent: Keep Texas “the last best place.”

The notion of Texas as the best place, the exceptional place, is an old one. In his 1961 book about Texas, John Bainbridge described the state as “a mirror in which Americans see themselves reflected, not life-size but, as in a distorting mirror, bigger than life.” He called the book “The Super-Americans.”

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Uninformed New Yorker Edition

Hotels.com recently brought a young writer for Bustle — a site “for & by women who are moving forward as fast as you are” — on a junket to Dallas. She mistakenly believes she was visiting “the South,” and her primary experience in her 24 hours in our fair city was attending an FC Dallas game up in Frisco.

She concludes about Texas:

Lindsey and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas, which felt like it was the size of a small country. Expansive views, spacious rooms, panoramic elevators, 50 stories — one wrong turn and I’d get lost for sure. But it wasn’t just the hotel that was huge. We couldn’t help but notice how larger than life everyday things were all over the city: couches, restrooms, restaurant chairs, food portions, drinks, sidewalks. Some things really are bigger in Texas.

But hair? Where was the big hair?! Is that in Houston?

In case she follows the linkback to this post, here’s what Sarah Hepola wrote for us about the big hair myth.

Attorney General’s Office Accuses Morning News Reporter of ‘Stalking’

Yes, I am highly skeptical of the complaints reported by right-wing news site Breitbart, that Dallas Morning News reporter Lauren McGaughy is “stalking” staffers of the state attorney general’s office and their families in pursuit of her work on how AG Ken Paxton continued to pay a couple of ex-staffers months after they left their government jobs.

I am highly skeptical, but these claims go so over-the-top that they veer into the realm of pure entertainment, and so I pass them on:

“ This is insane. It’s like she is stalking us. She is waiting outside of both public and private buildings to demand that we answer her questions,” said the high level staffer who spoke with Breitbart Texas on the condition of remaining unnamed. “We feel stalked by her.”

Indeed, a quick search of the writer’s name and her coverage of the Texas Attorney General shows that she forced a cancer survivor to reveal private personal health information when she went after former First Assistant Attorney General Chip Roy for being on leave.

The staffer went further and told Breitbart Texas, “The Dallas Morning News reporter has called spouses of AG staff, the offspring of AG staff, and a sibling of AG staff. In one instance, another top level staff member was outside of the Attorney General’s office building on a phone call with someone who had just lost their spouse. The reporter came up yelling and demanding that he speak with her. He was on a private phone call.”

Several sources in the office gave the impression that they are fully expecting to get home and have a rabbit boiling in a pot on their stoves at some point. Another source in the office told Breitbart Texas, “Is this reporter going to start showing up at our homes? At the schools where we pick up our children? How far will the Dallas Morning News allow her to go?”

Mary Mapes on KERA’s Think Today at Noon

For the May issue of D Magazine, Mary Mapes wrote a story about a murder that gripped the city of Dallas in 1953. The victim, Venice Parker, was white. A black man named Tommy Lee Walker was put to death for the crime — though he had nine people who testified in court that they were with him on the night of the murder. One of those alibi witnesses was his girlfriend, who gave birth to their son that night. Tommy Lee rode in the ambulance to the hospital with her just hours after he’d supposedly raped and murdered someone miles away. None of that testimony mattered. District Attorney Henry Wade got his conviction just three months after Tommy Lee had been arrested. I encourage you to read the story and then listen to Mary on Think, with Krys Boyd, today at noon on 90.1 FM.

(Side note: the online version of our story is titled “When Henry Wade Executed an Innocent Man.” I love our talented web team. They work hard to optimize SEO and so forth. Nearly all of our headlines get rewritten for the web and nearly always for the best in that medium. But I much prefer the presentation of this story in print, with the headline “Who Was the Real Killer?” For what that is worth.)

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‘There Is a 100 Percent Chance Mark Cuban Becomes President’

That’s what Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca, a former Google employee and sometimes co-star of Cuban’s on ABC’s Shark Tank, told CNBC this week:

Sacca noted that Cuban could be at least as successful as Trump were he were to campaign for leader of the free world.

“The minute you’re coined a billionaire in this country, everyone just takes everything you say as gospel. You can say no wrong,” Sacca said. “And that’s why we see Trump skating in. He says asinine things and everyone says ‘well, he’s a successful business guy.’ Cuban has all of that, but is not an idiot.”

So if we factor in a massive Trump flop this fall, and the Republican Party still trying to stitch itself together in the aftermath come 2020, then we’ll get two terms of Hillary Clinton.

Cuban 2024?

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