Tim Rogers, Editor, D Magazine
This is like telling everyone who your favorite child is. It’s unfair and reductive and is likely to cause hurt feelings. That said, I love my son more than I love my daughter, and these are my favorite stories from 2022, in chronological order: we did a story about the Dallas convention center that was fine, but the art we used to illustrate it is beautifully insane, maybe one of the silliest things the magazine has ever published.
I attended the second drag race in my life as a result of this story about racer Nancy Matter. Bald eagles! There is a person from Dallas (actually Highland Park) who is an insufferable scourge at city council meetings all across the country, which makes me proud to be the first publication to expose him.
This story involved cadavers and a funeral home that once had its own reality show. Everyone has been to Half Price Books—excuse me, HFB—but only Holland Murphy could profile a bookstore like this. Brian Reinhart started as our dining critic in 2022, and this funny, smart review of the Mexican let all of North Texas know that there’s a new food sheriff in town.
In September we dedicated an issue to music, and Zac Crain’s profile of the D.O.C. brought me straight back to my college years (and gave us an excuse to record one of my favorite EarBurner podcasts of all time). Mike “The Looch” Piellucci finally got to the bottom of the legend about the Stanley Cup and the Pantera pool party. The Longhorn Ballroom!
Kathy Wise told a story about a Collin County judge, and that story wound up getting cited in a U.S. Supreme Court case (which is sorta cool). If you aren’t interested in a famous British painter writing about a car storage facility, then don’t read Richard Patterson’s story about The Shop Club. And, finally, is there another publication in town that could get Old 97’s guitarist Ken Bethea to write about starring in a Guardians of the Galaxy holiday special? NO!
Kathy Wise, Executive Editor, D Magazine
This was a strange, challenging, expectation-surpassing year. For one thing, I turned 50. For another, I broke the top 11 at the 9th Annual Lois Goldblatt & Barbara Wilpon Mah Jongg Tournament. But perhaps most significantly, I ended 2022 with bunch of talented new coworkers who weren’t here at the beginning of my semicentennial rotation around the sun.
Before I get to a couple of them, I’d like to start with a former colleague who left us several years ago for some dumb reason but still deigns to write for us on occasion: S. Holland Murphy. Did you read her July feature, “The Store for All Sorts,” about the 50th anniversary of Half Price Books? If not, do so now. It’s the kind of story she’s best at, and it’s the kind of story I wish I had written. She got really mad at me for making her cut the unusual animal and Santa bits for space in print, but, as always, she got her revenge by including some of the hilarious outtakes in a blog post that you can read here.
About halfway through the year, we managed to entice Brian Reinhart to join the team as our new dining critic. He manages to surprise me daily—sometimes by silently sidling up when he sees something interesting on my computer screen (today, it was a pair of leather gloves I was gifting myself), but mostly with his pull-no-punches reviews and humorous insights into everything from Belgium-based Dallas Sauce to Nick Badovinus’ schticky menus to the best fish sandwich in Dallas. (I immediately tried the one at Loro; it was truly spectacular.)
Then there was the September issue, our first ever music issue, which was primarily a joint effort between Lesley Busby, our visionary new creative director (and returning D Mag staffer), and Zac Crain, our longtime senior editor (who has never bothered to leave but did bother to move his desk across from me and Tim a few months back so now we can see the tip of his shaved head instead of the back of it). I still don’t understand how they pulled the whole thing together.
The pièce de resistance is Zac’s feature profile of the D.O.C., which includes an iconic photo of the legendary rapper releasing a dove, which was shot by our own Elizabeth Lavin under the direction of Lesley, who, it turns out, is deathly afraid of birds. Gillea Allison even managed to coordinate an entire Under the Stairs concert series featuring some of the featured musicians in our office. The whole thing was incredible, and you can’t possibly get the full experience by reading the individual pieces online. So be sure to renew/get/gift a subscription for 2023 here.
Zac Crain, Senior Editor, D Magazine
Kathy had a really great year, both in quality and quantity. Somehow, even while working on other stories and editing and everything else, she was able to report and write “The Most Lawless County in Texas.” It’s the kind of story only she could do. She’s got a big heart and bigger brain, or maybe vice versa. And Holland Murphy’s piece about Half Price Books (“The Store for All Sorts“) was a classic of our made-up genre “A Holland Story.” She hangs out at various people’s elbows until you forget you’re not there yourself. Personal highlight, if I may, was being involved in our first (since I’ve been here) music issue.
Matt Goodman, Online Editorial Director, D Magazine
I begin this post with Kathy Wise, the magazine’s executive editor, who showed her range in 2022. In March, she profiled the drag racer Nancy Matter in “A Quarter Mile of Redemption.” Matter is a 60-year-old driver who once rode with the Satans Slaves Motorcycle Club and now pushes a dragster to up to 250 miles per hour on courses in Tulsa and Ennis and elsewhere. Photographer Elizabeth Lavin’s images are incredible, too.
In October, we published her investigation into the crooked Collin County District Attorney’s office, “The Most Lawless County in Texas.” It’s one of those stories that hid in plain sight for years, how one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties was watched over by a district attorney who weaponized his office to go after political opponents. You must read it.
S. Holland Murphy’s “The Store for All Sorts” was a beautiful tribute to Half Price Books told through the people who built it and those who sustain it. Eleanor Cummins’ “The Worst Part About Dying” took a daily news brief and made a magazine story of it; it’s an emotional gut-punch and it provides a history of funeral homes that you might not be aware of.
We lost the local historian Dr. George Keaton this year, and Bethany Erickson wrote a beautiful piece honoring what him and his work. Late last year, Taylor Crumpton was on hand to see the ceremony for Allen Brooks, an enslaved man who was lynched downtown in the early 1900s. Keaton was instrumental in getting that marker placed at Main and Akard.
Our Catherine Wendlandt investigated how a buzzy Dallas furniture company went dark after accepting thousands of dollars worth of purchases in “The Mysterious Disappearance of The CEH.” I loved Nataly Keomoungkhoun’s profile of El Rincón del Maíz, a tiny Garland restaurant that was catapulted into fame after Bon Appetit named it one of the country’s best new restaurants. Her first-person writeup of her sister’s experience at Tatsu Dallas was also a must-read.
Every one of dining critic Brian Reinhart’s reviews is worth reading, especially considering he’s the last full-time critic left in town. I don’t think anyone in Dallas covered sports better than Mike Piellucci and his StrongSide team; just poke through their work here. If I must pick one thing, it’s Mike’s terrific chronicling of how Frisco used sports to rise to prominence, “The Great Frisco Caper.”
There was the incredible music issue—ushered through by Zac Crain and creative director Lesley Busby—and Bethany’s daily newsletter, Leading Off, which is a must-read if you care about this city.
I loved a lot of what we did this year, and I hope you’ll subscribe. (Or at least start with Leading Off or my weekly newsletter D Brief.)
Mike Piellucci, Sports Editor, D Magazine
I’ll preface this by noting that StrongSide did so much great sports coverage this year that I dedicated a separate post exclusively to that, and I hope you check it out. Otherwise, how couldn’t I shout out the impossibly talented people I work with on different beats here at D?
On the print side, that starts with Kathy Wise and a story impossible to sum up beyond saying that it’s why a publication like ours exists. It’s Tim Rogers doing capital-J Journalism with his piece on why Lauren Davis probably shouldn’t have been eligible to challenge (and lose to) Clay Jenkins for the top spot on the Dallas County Commissioners Court. It’s also lighter fare like Zac Crain profiling The D.O.C. and Aileen Jimenez on Tejano music.
Online, Matt Goodman does essential work all over town, but I, a child of North Dallas, gravitated to his dispatches on Valley View Mall’s slow death. Ditto Bethany Erickson, who has a knack for finding important news in our city and making it digestible. She did that for her son, too, in this piece that’s stuck with me all year.
Catherine Wendlandt writing about castles was a total delight. So was Brian Reinhart on the miracle of Dallas Sauce. Nataly Keomoungkhoun is just getting started, and already she’s taught us about Uzbek food. And I’d be remiss not to share some offerings from my favorite departed comrades: Eve Hill-Agnus and Rosin Saez on Mex-Mex, and Taylor Crumpton on TRUE BRVND.
Hell of a year. Here’s to an even better 2023.
Brian Reinhart, Dining Critic, D Magazine
I loved the stories this year that tracked down some of Dallas’ most eccentric, lovable, despicable, brave, and peculiar characters. Stories like those of the D.O.C. making his comeback, the guy who got cut from Love Is Blind for freaking out too bad, the lawless maniacs who ruled Collin County like a medieval fiefdom, the woman who’s worked her dream job at The French Room for 37 years, and the baseball league where drinking beer while playing is basically required. Also, a shameless plug for my own work: Dallas Sauce! This is the year that Dallas Sauce takes over the world!
Bethany Erickson, Senior Digital Editor, D Magazine
This is a lot more difficult than you’d think, which actually says a lot for the team here. I think the story that jumps out immediately is Kathy Wise’s piece about Suzanne Wooten—it took six months to report out, and it shows in the scope of the incredible story. I also think that Trinity Hawkins’ profile of the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” Opal Lee, is something that everyone should make a point to read if they didn’t when it was originally published, in June.
But we also did some great work introducing people to Dallas lore that they may not have been aware of, like Will Maddox’s piece on Lory Masters, the namesake of the northwest Dallas neighborhood known as Loryland. The music issue in September was great because not only was it just a well-written and edited issue, but it also meant that local acts like The 40 Acre Mule and Joshua Ray Walker visited the office to sing us through lunch.
I also should engage in a little bit of nepotism and point out that my 11-year-old wrote a piece in our July issue about spraygrounds where he outright called the staff old. I also can’t leave out the important work that Catherine Wendlandt has been doing with her Shape Up series, this piece about public art in McKinney by Ian Kayanja, and the ultimate palate-cleanser of SideDish editor Nataly Keomoungkhoun’s story about how the staff at Tatsu Dallas learned sign language before her Deaf sister and brother-in-law’s visit.
Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Online Dining Editor, D Magazine
Eleanor Cummins’ “The Worst Part About Dying” drew me in long before I started at D. It’s for a good reason. I’m not particularly fond of funerals or dead bodies, but I remember reading the news of these lawsuits against Dallas’ Golden Gate Funeral Home and the claims that bodies of those who had passed were being mistreated, had decomposed right before the funeral, or that services had gone awry.
I remember thinking about what the families and alleged victims went through. It’s difficult to stomach such heinous things at the last stage of life, and I was desperate to see if anyone would be able to dive deeper than a lawsuit. Eleanor did, and she delivered so much more than just the surface.
Many, if not all, of the allegations in each case were horrific, and Eleanor does an incredible job in this story of showing readers the families’ perspective while also balancing the weight of how important and revered the funeral home is to the Black community in Dallas. Eleanor writes in a way that makes you feel the pain and panic of seeing a loved one who has potentially been wronged in the worst way possible, when they can no longer defend or speak for themselves. This haunting story made me feel a rollercoaster of emotions—most of them dreadful—and left me wondering how anyone could go through something like it.
Jessica Otte, Executive Editor, D Home and D Weddings
Our Best Designers issue is always a favorite, but this year’s edition was packed with intel, opinions, and inspiring spaces from our winners from cover to cover. Most specifically, the Best Designers feature story featured the homes of four of our winners, interspersed with their thoughts on everything from how to mix high-end with more attainable pieces (and their go-to sources for the latter) to how to thoughtfully design for kids’ spaces.
I also loved our story on Round Top, the beloved antique fair in the same-named town in Texas. The expansive market is a treasure trove of unique finds (and a can’t-miss, see-and-be-seen event for the design world) but can also be intimidating for the uninitiated. Our guide attempts to break down the fair from A to Z—how it works; where to shop, stay, and dine; as well as a primer on its past, present, and future.
Catherine Wendlandt, Online Associate Editor, D Magazine and D Home
There have been so many fantastic stories this company has published this year, I don’t think it’s fair that we can only pick a few. But I’ll try: Kathy Wise’s “The Most Lawless County in Texas” was astounding both in the subject matter and the excellence of Kathy’s work. I loved the entirety of the D Home Best Interior Designers issue. Really, because I want to live in the homes of designers like Javier Burkle, but I digress. I’m also forever grateful for D Home’s ultimate guide to the Round Top Antique Show—I’ve always wanted to go, but the thought of navigating the massive antique show is super intimidating.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to list out a few of my own stories that gave me a lot of joy to write this year (with very little context):
This interview with Marcela Marañon, because it inspired Shape Up.
This roundup of pick-your-own farms, because quotes like “I feel like a garden fairy when I’m out here working” can cheer anyone up.
My roundup of Dallas castles because it’s just plain silly. And I sacrificed a laptop to the cause.
My tour of the Turtle Creek Lane house—because I got to this interview on my birthday.
And lastly: my profile of Steven Parker, because I finally got to meet an actual cowboy.
Zoe Roberts, Online Managing Editor, D Magazine
Just over a month ago, I started my new position as the online managing editor for D Magazine. And as you may (safely) assume, with a new beginning at a magazine comes a significant amount of reading. D and I have become fast friends. One of the many pleasant results of my onboarding endeavors is that I have landed on my favorite pieces of 2022 – but really, they’re just from the past few months.
Traveling is my forte. So when Matt Goodman wrote “West Texas Waltz,” documenting his road trip with a stop in Big Spring, it hit home. It’s a place I’m all too familiar with, having frequented the reborn Hotel Settles and experienced the tragedy that is Interstate 20 on the east side of town. Matt’s work had me laughing out loud. What makes this story truly special is that it highlights regions that might not get enough credit when it comes to Texas tourism.
Since we are covering all of the bases that are my personal interests, let’s throw fashion into the mix. Catherine Wendlandt’s “The Most Fabulous Closet on TikTok” beautifully captures Carla Rockmore’s closet, also known as the closet of my dreams. This piece does a fabulous job highlighting the unexpected fame that comes with social media, in this case TikTok, and how reaching a niche audience can impact your path to success and fulfillment.