Matt Goodman, Editorial Director
This year, the city of Dallas—the ninth largest in America—elected a new mayor for the first time in eight years. This time last year, Scott Griggs’ boots were on billboards and a long list of candidates began announcing their intention to run. We did what we always do: we discussed how we’d cover the race differently than The Dallas Morning News. We came up with a weekly poll, which was really just a front for a clearing house of all the news that happened across the campaigns over the previous week. We invited each candidate to the Old Monk and recorded podcasts, which, for my money, were the best way to get to actually know the person who was asking for your vote. We went in-depth on how they were running their campaigns, following the race all the way to the runoff. In the process, we found monied donors had been funneling campaign donations through their elementary school-aged children, which allowed them to donate more than what the city allows. And the postscripts we published on the election’s outcome still hold up: Eric Celeste came in a few months later and gave us the epilogue that answered any lingering questions.
It’s solid, sustained work that helped voters get to know the grab bag of candidates running to be mayor and contextualize their promises.
From the Decade:
I’m going to buck the trend a little here—no offense to the awesome narrative features of Michael J. Mooney, Tim Rogers, Kathy Wise, Zac Crain, Jamie Thompson, Holland Murphy, Eve Hill-Agnus, Peter Simek and so many others—and go back to 2014, when this locally-owned magazine was turning 40 years old. That’s a feat in itself in this business. But D celebrated in a way only D could. We republished 40 of its best stories online. And dedicated the print magazine to 40 unique profiles and portraits of the people who shaped this city. I remember how harried and stressed the edit team looked back then as the feature got put together. But what came out of it was worth it: stories about the obvious (Erykah Badu, Brian Bolke, Mike Modano) and the not-so-obvious (cancer researcher Dr. Hao Zhu, DFW Airport Director Ron Barzyk, TI-83 Calculator co-creator Vonnie Howard) that provided a deep look at the people who helped make Dallas the city that it is.
Shawn Shinneman, Managing Editor
My nod this year goes to a piece by Will Maddox, D CEO Healthcare’s editor, called: “I Taught the Teenager Who Turned Himself in for Killing Brandoniya Bennett.” Will, a teacher in DISD until a few years ago, wrote about his former student, Tyrese Simmons, toward the end of a summer in which crime dominated the headlines. The story of 9-year-old Bennett grabbed Dallas more than most, her life taken by a gunshot fired into the wrong apartment during an ongoing feud. Will’s story added another layer. He remembered Tyrese’s work ethic, smile, and a hug he gave him outside a movie theater a few years back. And he wrote vulnerably about the way Brandoniya’s death gutted him twice, on the initial news and on the revelation that her killer was his former student. “The world is a broken place, and what happened to Brandoniya is an absolute horror. … But I am also torn up about a world where this promising young man ends up turning himself in for capital murder.” Will’s piece added nuance to a story that is too often black and white.
From the Decade:
My favorite story of the decade is Michael Mooney’s “The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever,” a classic. The story follows Bill Fong, an underdog character and bowling obsessive—he’s an ultra-regular at the Plano Super Bowl—who danced with enormously rare back-to-back-to-back games of 300. There have been, at least as of 2012, only 21 of them ever. And then he almost died (a fact you may find yourself forgetting once you’ve settled in as Fong explodes the pins frame after frame).
Two things make this story so great. The first is Mooney’s telling. It’s a master class in restraint, the writer disappearing so Fong’s night can shine. The pacing is perfect, too; some moments creep along so they play like slow motion scenes in a movie, Fong there at the end of the lane watching a pin wobble until another slides across to knock it.
The other is Fong’s backstory and the way it’s allowed to seep out piece by piece, woven into the narrative of the night. He was just an underachieving pot smoker who loved bowling too much, gave up on it for golf, and then gave up on that to take up bowling once more. Bowling is Fong’s life, but as Mooney notes, he’s “still only tied as the 15th best bowler in Plano’s most competitive league.” That makes this story that much more special, makes us root for Fong even harder, and heightens our investment in every word and every frame.
Natalie Gempel, Online Arts Editor
There are so many stories I read in D Magazine this year that stuck with me in one way or another. I always look forward to installments in series like Dallas: The City That Hates Pedestrians and Caitlin Clark’s biting Real Housewives of Dallas recaps. I wish I could give a shout out to all of my talented colleagues who routinely make Dallas a more interesting place, but that would make this too long, so I’ll do a little self-promotion instead. My favorite story to report this year was one that left me thinking about the larger community in North Texas and how we confront our past on the road to our future: Fort Worth Grapples With the Future of a Former KKK Lodge. The court-mandated delay on the COA to demolish the building expires this month, so you can expect an update coming soon.
From the Decade:
Choosing my favorite D Magazine story of the decade is a more difficult task. The first one that comes to mind, not too surprisingly, is Dr. Death, the now-infamous story of Christopher Duntsch, which Matt Goodman broke in November 2016. It’s heart-breaking, it’s fascinating, it’s now being made into a miniseries. Give it a read if you haven’t already.
Caitlin Clark, Style Editor
I like when things are a little silly but also serious. That’s what Dallas Hates Pedestrians is. I hope someone makes this series into a coffee table book one day. Maybe the proceeds can be used to make Dallas’ roads a little safer.
From the Decade:
Hidden Dallas / February 2015
It might be because this was the cover story the month I started working at D Magazine, but that image of Marie Gabriel’s hauntingly beautiful hedge maze has stayed with me for years. As did the map navigating our city’s half-abandoned tunnel system (and explaining its odd existence) and the realization that there’s such as a thing as a Cane Rosso black card. It’s sad how many of the places we mentioned have closed in just five years (R.I.P. Sissy’s Southern Kitchen and too-pure-for-this-world Pirch!). I guess D will just have to do Hidden Dallas all over again in the 2020s.