Devastating Tornado in Oklahoma: Another horrific tragedy. There are dozens dead, a lot of them children who were taking cover in the hallway of an elementary school. Thousands more are left homeless, their possessions in shambles. And while the death and destruction will eventually be quantified and ranked historically, the grief and suffering is immeasurable. In Dallas, we all know people from that part of Oklahoma, people in that part of Oklahoma. They are strong, proud people. They will rebuild. There will be places for you to volunteer, places to donate money, places to give blood. There will be stories of victims, stories of survivors, and stories of heroes. There will be more terrifying images–and likely some superb journalism. Our thoughts are with the people affected by the destruction. For now, for the rest of us: find a moment to hold someone you love.
Dallas Firefighter Dies in Six-Alarm Blaze: Here are some remarkable photos by Sonya Hebert-Schwartz, from the giant condo fire in northeast Dallas that killed Stanley Wilson, a 28-year fire department veteran, and the large impromptu farewell salute afterward.
DISD Poised for Fast-Track Pilot Program: Yesterday the State Senate approved a bill that would allow some Dallas students to graduate high school in three years (paywall), with the savings earmarked for a pre-kindergarten program. The bill now heads back to the House.
D Magazine Wins Big Industry Award: Last night at the City Regional Magazine Association awards banquet in Atlanta, D Magazine won General Excellence in our circulation category for the second year in a row. Tim and Zac are there, almost certainly celebrating in true gentlemanly fashion, refraining from all forms of debauchery, inebriation, coarse language, and sarcasm. I assume from the lack of national headlines that Tim did not give a speech. (Really though, if I can be earnest for a second: This entire staff is stacked from top to bottom with incredible, smart, talented people who work ridiculously hard every month to put out a magazine that truly serves Dallas and makes the city a better, more interesting place to live.) I expect a detailed recap of their trip soon.
Anthony Swofford, a former Marine and the author of Jarhead, has made one of those newfangled electronic books about the tragic death of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. It’s titled Death of an American Sniper. In this excerpt, Swofford writes of the first time he ever heard of Kyle:
I would have liked to get down on my belly in a patch of dirt somewhere with a sick-ass sniper rifle against my shoulder and blow out some rounds with Mr. Chris Kyle. Bob was right: if I was famous for anything, it was for not killing with my sniper rifle. I thought about this Kyle guy. I wondered how he’d learned to shoot, what rifle or rifles he’d used, why he favored a two-pound trigger weight, and just how many goddamn people he might actually have killed. A few hundred? That seemed impossible.
But I also wondered about other things beyond such technical issues. Had Chris Kyle really been able to kill that many men and feel no guilt, as his book suggests? Was he perfectly adjusted to the stark reality of how he had achieved his fame? I know that normal men do not suffer from an addiction to bloodshed. But men trained to kill do. I suspected that the psychic toll of being such a proficient and excellent killer would have finally worn Kyle down. There surely must have been times when he was alone with his thoughts and a blunt nausea took over and he realized that he, a proud son, had slayed son after son, and that he, a loving father, must have vanquished many fathers who left children behind. Like most soldiers who’ve killed in combat, Chris Kyle could not have experienced many days when his train of dead men wasn’t bearing down on him, a chorus of ghosts.
I wondered about all these things, and I had no reason to think that I would never be able to ask the man himself.
I would recommend you purchase this work if you’re interested in reading more about Kyle, but only after you first purchase the (presumably) superior electronic book on much the same subject authored by our own Michael J. Mooney, The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL.
I promise I’ll stop talking about The Big Read Dallas soon. I just have one more thing to share. The great folks at TZOM Films gave a lot of their time and talent to shoot this teaser video for us from our Read-In at Klyde Warren Park a couple of Saturdays ago. If you weren’t able to make it, that’s okay. The video above shows you everything: the dramatic readings by actors from Undermain Theatre, a flash mob/dance party put on by dancers from Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts, music by DJ Tyrone Smiley, the mural created by the guys at Sour Grapes, another dance party spurred on by the Mavs ManiACCS, and a rap session by our Librarian of the Year Pam Brown. All these people and all of you who joined in make reading look good. Thanks for a great month.
If you want to learn how you can become one of the people to plan and execute something like The Big Read Dallas, go to the jump and learn about D Academy.
This morning, DISD superintendent Mike Miles, city manager Mary Suhm, and the wonderful step team from Garza Early College High School all joined us at Union Station to hand out 1,000 books to commuters to officially kick off The Big Read Dallas. It went really well. By 7:40, we were out of books, and we lost only one volunteer on the train.
Since today is our official kick-off, I thought what better way to get Frontburnervians reading than to give them a copy of our special edition book. There is a catch (or five):
1. In order to get the book, you must send me (email@example.com) a picture of your favorite place to read. If you need help finding a spot, the folks at bcWorkshop have you covered.
I’ve told you about it before, but just a quick refresher: The Big Read Dallas is a citywide reading initiative. We’re asking the entire city to read Fahrenheit 451 in April and join us at various events throughout the month. We’ve tasked ninth- and tenth-grade DISD students to lead the charge, so we’re giving every single one of them a free special edition copy (that’s more than 21,000 books).
Next week, we’ll be distributing the books to the 29 high schools that have agreed to either host an assembly, a pep rally, or let us join their English classes. We’ve got an app on the way, DART buses with our posters are starting to run, and, soon, you’ll be seeing the wonderful PSAs that were produced by Reel FX. The above PSA is what we’re showing to students. It’s a little long to run on TV, so I thought we’d show it to you here. The man who put these together, Greg Sunmark, just moved here from Chicago. He’s our new best friend. Not only did he produce the PSAs, but he also did the voiceovers, wrote the music, and then performed the music. I think he’s a good addition to our city.
So, take a look at the PSA, then pick up a copy of Fahrenheit 451. We’re all reading it next month. You should join us.
It’s only one day, but to quote our partner, London Broadcasting’s Phil Hurley, “This just doesn’t happen in this business.”
D Living, hosted by Kimberly Whitman and Hilary Kennedy, was #1 in its 10 a.m. time slot yesterday among adults 18-49, beating out The View at #2.
D: The Broadcast with Lisa Pineiro, Suzie Humphreys, Pat Smith, and Courtney Kerr came in at #2 in its 9 a.m slot against — ugh — Jerry Springer. But don’t despair about the DFW market: we were only a tenth of a rating point behind. My bet is that Jerry will be toast in another week or two.
Here’s the deal. We launched these programs on Monday of last week. As of today, they’ve only been on the air for nine days. (How long has Jerry been on? How old is that guy?) We launched on an independent station — KTXD, Channel 47 — that until now, few people have heard of, with Daniel Boone re-runs as our lead-in. It is a credit to Phil Hurley’s vision that he believed the D brand could break through to grab the attention of Dallas viewers.
To Phil’s point, the only promotion we’ve done during what we thought was a soft launch has been in D Magazine, dmagazine.com, and through social media — no radio, no billboards, no promotional give-aways or tricks. In a way, we’ve done an experiment in exercising the power of the D-branded print and online channels to launch us in a new medium.
Congratulations to our stars, the lovely ladies who are creating hilarious and informative local television every morning! When we first started talking, Phil told me this TV business was kinda fun. Now I see why.