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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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A Little Bit of Blackie Sherrod’s Greatness

As Jason noted this morning in Leading Off, legendary writer Blackie Sherrod passed away yesterday afternoon. I remember reading his “Scattershooting” column in the Morning News when I was a kid, and while that was great, it was only a little bit of what Sherrod did. For a little more, here is “A Legend In His Own Mind,” which not too long ago appeared on our list of the 40 Greatest Stories in D Magazine history.

Leading Off (4/29/16)

Cowboys Select Ezekiel Elliott. With the fourth pick in this year’s NFL draft, Dallas took the Ohio State running back. Reviews of the decision are mixed, with some suggesting they should have gone with Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey instead. The Cowboys also tried — and failed — to trade up to get another first-round pick with which to select Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch as Tony Romo’s heir.

Dallas ISD Votes to Buy New Headquarters. The $46.5 million purchase was approved by board trustees in the earliest hour of Friday morning. The building, at 9400 N. Central Expressway, will consolidate the district’s headquarters and 15 other offices in one place. DISD anticipates the change will produce tens of millions of dollars in savings by 2021. Trustees were divided on the matter, which got the go-ahead on a 5-3 vote. Trustees Bernadette Nutall, Joyce Foreman, and Lew Blackburn opposed the purchase, expressing concerns about how it’s being funded and about the district headquarters moving six miles north of its current relatively central location. Some employees could be relocated to what’s being called the Dallas ISD Education by the end of the year, with the entire moving process taking about four years.

Blackie Sherrod, RIP. Sherrod, who died of natural causes at age 96 on Thursday afternoon, is being remembered as “the greatest Texas sportswriter of his generation.”

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GQ Says WFAA Just Killed #RunningManChallenge

Monica Hernandez and Wes Houx of WFAA-Channel 8 gave the latest viral dance craze, the #RunningManChallenge, a go yesterday on their morning news show.

GQ was less than complimentary of their efforts:

And yet, you never really know how strong a dance craze is until it’s attempted by a couple of daytime local news anchors. Yesterday, Monica and Wes of WPAA in Dallas became the unfortunate pair to do just that. First, after falsely attributing the dance to the U of M players, Monica then went on to explain how her fiancé challenged her and her co-anchor, and then, like pure dumpster-fire poetry in motion, they launched into it.

Cause of death: an astounding dearth of rhythm. But then, with a swift dagger of white dorkiness as if to ensure the running man challenge’s death, Wes comes in and dabs.

However, there might actually be something nice about the running man challenge dying before it ever really lived. After all, if this went on for a few more weeks, we’d probably have to watch Hillary Clinton do it on Ellen.

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D Magazine HQ to Host American Conservative Talk on U.S. Foreign Policy

Former FrontBurner contributor Wick Allison, chairman of D Magazine Partners, is also chairman of the American Ideas Institute, a D.C.-based nonprofit that publishes The American Conservative magazine in print and online.

In that capacity, he’s asked that I let D Magazine readers know about an event being hosted here at our downtown office this Wednesday. Four editors from TAC will have a discussion about what impact the 2016 presidential campaign will have on U.S. foreign policy.

If that sounds like your jam, click right here to RSVP, space permitting.

Why TV Networks Love the Dallas Cowboys

Here’s Ad Age on why your Dallas Cowboys — a team that finished a lousy 4-12 last season — are set to have 11 of their 16 games this fall broadcast nationally, including five in primetime:

“America’s Team” last season still managed to reach a massive TV audience. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Dallas over the course of its 11 national games averaged 24 million viewers and a 13.5 household rating, making it the No. 2 draw behind the Green Bay Packers. During their own 11-game stretch, Aaron Rodgers and Co. delivered 24.4 million viewers and a 13.8 household rating, offering further evidence that (in the NFL, at least) the size of one’s home market has no bearing on one’s national footprint. (With a reach of just 433,860 TV homes, 68th-ranked Green Bay-Appleton is the NFL’s smallest DMA.)

The meeting of the league’s two biggest ratings dynamos is obviously good for business, and securing a rare rematch of last year’s Cowboys-Packers game was a top priority for Fox.

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Slowly, Surely Dallas Writers and Editors Are Taking Over ESPN The Magazine

Let’s see. The first person I know of who swam through these waters and then wound up at ESPN The Magazine was Paul “Tall Paul” Kix (like the cereal, he always says). Paul was a senior editor (or something) at D Magazine. He left us for Boston Magazine but eventually found his way to Bristol, Connecticut, or wherever it is that ESPN people live. Then there was Cristina Daglas, who was the editor of D Magazine for a time. She left us and took a job at ESPN. And now Mike Drago is joining the Dallas contingent up north. Mike works at the Dallas Morning News and happens to be Nancy Nichols’ brother-in-law. Below you’ll find Tom Huang’s note to the staff about Mike’s departure.

I’ve started laying odds on the next Dallas media member to take a gig at ESPN. Eric Celeste, obviously, sits at the top of the board with the shortest odds. Right beneath him: Krys Boyd. Controversial, I know. But I have my reasons.

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