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Tod Robberson Puts Pressure on District Attorney To Do His Job

Editorial writer Tod Robberson has a bylined op-ed in today’s paper that you should read. Essentially it says: “What the heck, people? I did a bunch of really solid reporting on a slumlord in southern Dallas who has been breaking the law for years and bragging about it. DA Craig Watkins? U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña? Are you guys paying attention?”

Here’s the first story Robberson did, a serious bit of reporting into the operations of Douglas T. “Chase” Fonteno, a self-described “real estate cat burglar” who takes poor people’s houses and then resells them. I know, right? It sounds insane. It sounds like something that authorities should put a stop to. Robberson wrote a series of stories about Fonteno back in May. Then he brought his findings to the authorities. But as Mayor Mike Rawlings told Robberson, there isn’t much the city can do besides slap Fonteno on his wrist. So:

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Why Dallas Was Chosen the Best Skyline in the World

You may have seen, on any number of other sites accessible via the World Wide Web, that Dallas was chosen the best skyline in the world — let me repeat, the best skyline in the world — in a readers’ poll on USA Today.com. In other words, not only do we have a world-class skyline, we have the world-classiest skyline.

Here’s what the newspaper’s site had to say about that:

“Dallas became initially identifiable by the opening credits of an infamous ’80s TV show,” says expert Preston Kissman. “The contemporary Dallas skyline tells a story of big banking, big oil, big money, and the occasional big bust.” James Adams add, “Dallas has continued to stay flashy. Controversially, it has done this not with the height or style of its newest architecture, but rather through an internal race to adorn its existing and new icons with colorful interactive lighting that cannot be ignored.”

We’re among friends here, so I’m sure we can all agree that ranking Dallas the No. 1 skyline on the entirety of planet Earth is ridiculous. What about Chicago? New York? San Francisco? Sure, we beat the pants off places like Houston, Omaha, and Atlanta, but do we even belong in the top tier once you factor in locales in all hemispheres?

So how did we win?

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Death of a Poet

I’m going to spoil a pivotal event of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, but if you’ve not yet gotten around to seeing that brilliant, now 15-year-old film, then face up to the fact that you likely never will and don’t hassle me for spilling the following secret.

Magnolia tells a collection of interconnected stories of people in Los Angeles. There’s nothing too far-fetched about its plot lines about ordinary people moving about their fairly ordinary lives when, without explanation, it begins to rain frogs. By which I mean, full-sized frogs fall from the sky. There are apocalyptic, Biblical overtones, but no vengeful god appears to take credit for the act. It’s ridiculous. Makes little sense. Comes out of nowhere and alters lives.

The best explanation for the sequence that I’ve ever heard came from the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who appears in Magnolia as a nurse caring for a man dying of cancer. He said — and I’m sorry that I can’t locate the interview anywhere online, so you’ll just have to trust my fading memory  — the rain of frogs began to make sense to him when he thought about cancer.

Why we shouldn’t we accept the possibility of a downpour of amphibians when we’ve become accustomed to a plague like cancer? Cancer is your own body turning against itself for ultimately mysterious reasons. It’s ridiculous. Makes little sense. Often comes out of nowhere and alters lives.

I’m sure that when, in 1976, 30-year-old Judith McPheron began to suffer an onslaught of clumps of tissue growth all over her body — a rare form of cancer known as liposarcoma — she could hardly have been any more shocked if she’d glanced out the window and seen frogs descending from the sky.

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Can We Please Stop Conflating Michael Sam and Josh Brent?

Josh Brent drove drunk, after a previous conviction for doing just that, and was going between 110 mph and 134 mph in an area with a 45-mph speed limit, when he killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown.

Michael Sam is the first publicly gay player drafted into the NFL.

Both are defensive lineman who have a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys at some point this season. The comparisons should end there.

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That ESPN Profile of Jerry Jones

If you haven’t read Don Van Natta Jr.’s profile of Jerry Jones, you really should. The access Natta had is a writer’s dream. (And possibly an editor’s nightmare.) And you will probably end up liking Jones more by the end of the story.

The access starts with the writer finding Jones alone in a bar outside an owners’ meeting. We see Jones in his suite during the George Strait concert, hear him whispering in his son’s ear in the draft room, and drinking like the guys on Mad Men. He really, really, really wanted to draft Johnny Manziel. He’s apparently a big fan of Johnnie Walker Blue. (In plastic Dallas Cowboys cups.) And even at 71, he is irresistible to certain ladies. Or, as one of his close friends puts it: “Good women won’t leave him alone.”

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Local Magazine Person Talks About D Magazine on KERA

The folks at KERA 90.1 were kind enough to show some interest in our 40th anniversary project. On Monday, Rick Holter, the station’s vice president of news, interviewed me in Klyde Warren Park, where we’ve installed an exhibit of staff photographer Elizabeth Lavin’s wonderful portraits. Here’s the “Friday Conversation” between me and Rick that aired this morning. In the short slideshow that accompanies the audio, you’ll see that I dressed for radio — and to prevent skin cancer. Anyway, the exhibit (shown above) is up for another few weeks. It’s on the east end of the park, in an area called The Commons. If you’re in the park, check it out.

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Behind the Scenes of the Dallas 40 Cover Shoot

The September issue of D, celebrating the magazine’s 40th anniversary, should be on a newsstand near you soon, if it isn’t already. The centerpiece of our celebration comprises 40 stories about 40+ people who represent some aspect of how Dallas has transformed in the last 40 years, or who epitomize some aspect of what Dallas is today. Those stories are truly brought to life by the astonishing portraits taken by our own Elizabeth Lavin.

Hear her and our creative director Todd Johnson talk about what made this project so challenging, and why we were motivated to do something special to mark our company’s birthday, in this video about the cover shoot. (And thanks to Robbie Curtis for producing this and the other video clips in our Dallas 40 online package.) Enjoy.

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The Dallas Skyline Turns Red For D Magazine

If you were any near the vicinity of downtown Dallas last night, you likely noticed that the familiar red hue of D Magazine had taken over Reunion Tower, the Bank of America building, the Hunt Oil building, and the Omni hotel. As Tim noted a little while ago, it was in the celebration of the publication’s 40th anniversary.

We asked our Instagram and Twitter followers to share their photos with us using the hashtag #DTurns40. The response was terrific, and here are some of the best.

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Hunt Oil Building Gives a Shout Out to Wick Allison

Our 40th anniversary issue will arrive in subscribers’ mailboxes this week and hit newsstands this weekend. You’ll hear more about it on FrontBurner in the coming days and about a related photography exhibit that we installed at Klyde Warren Park yesterday. Right now, I just wanted to share the below video taken last night. Several of the buildings downtown turned red last night to celebrate our anniversary. Thanks to everyone who flipped their LEDs for us. But a special thanks to the Hunt Oil building, which really did it up right:

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DMagazine.com Seeks Online Managing Editor

We’re hiring. Here are the details:

A website is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies. DMagazine.com seeks a managing editor not only adept at keeping our shark in motion, but also capable of helping to steer the beast in new directions. Our average site traffic has nearly doubled just in the past year, and with that great success comes the great responsibility of keeping fed the insatiable appetite of our readers for a continuous rotation of ever-changing content. The responsibilities of this position involve management of two of our most important annual contests: the Best of Big D and the 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas. Regular tasks also include planning, editing, and publishing articles and galleries to the travel, fashion, nightlife, legal, and health channels of our website. The perfect candidate will boast top-notch organizational skills, have an eye for what makes a great online story, know how to craft great headlines, obsess over minor details without losing sight of the forest for the trees, hit every deadline, possess a great sense of visual style, and love reading and writing about life in Dallas. Previous experience working for a magazine, newspaper, or online publication preferred. Send cover letter and resume to jason.heid@dmagazine.com.

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