Robert Wilonsky launched his “This is Dallas” column on Thursday. Dallas Morning News editor Mike Wilson failed to consider the most qualified candidate for this post before handing it off to a Lithuanian former cheerleader. I have taken the liberty of compensating, however slightly, for Wilson’s egregious oversight by arranging for him the following Q&A with that aforementioned superior columnist, so as to elucidate what may well prove an error in judgment that could, had it gone otherwise, have reversed the rapidly collapsing fortunes of George Dealey’s rag.
Mike Wilson: You have deep roots in Dallas. Tell us about them.
John Neely Bryan: What an odd question, phrased as though there’s some need to introduce me to an adoring public that has treasured my every public pronouncement since long before your great-great-great-great-grandfather was crawling around in diapers. It would be wholly and utterly redundant to recount my roots in Dallas, which are the deepest of any man, corporeal or not.
You’re the outsider here. You’re the person whose byline has so rarely graced the pages of your own publication that about all your readers know about you is that you have a dog named Story. And even that fact is only widely recalled because Crain here sometimes grows fatigued of trolling his boss, Rogers, and orients his not-insignificant (if inferior to mine own) wit instead towards listing alternative canine appellations.
So who are you, Wilson? Fess up.
What was your childhood like?
Wait, what? Were you listening to a word I said? I thought this was to have been a Q&A, a meeting of minds, an exchange of ideas. Instead I discover you’re sticking to your pre-planned line of inquiry. Did you write these out weeks ago? Or — jumpin’ Jehoshaphat — is this even Mike Wilson to whom I’m speaking? Has the News deployed some ungodly form of artificial intelligence in his place? If that is in fact the case, I regret to inform you that it has resoundingly failed the Turing test.
Could this revelation explain why an attempt is being made on Young Street to “moneyball” the daily newspaper business — bringing in cheap, undervalued talent and pushing out the past-their-prime veterans sporting six-figure salaries? How could I have not seen it before? The paper’s latest moves positively reek of statistical analysis.
But I digress. As to my childhood, I can describe it only as strikingly uneventful. I could also tell you about my mother’s gastroenterologist, if you like.
Before you came to The News in 2012, you wrote the “Unfair Park” column for the Dallas Observer. What’s an alt-weekly journalist like you doing at a place like this?
First of all, “Unfair Park” isn’t a “column.” It was a web log, though its brand name has since been dispensed with in the digital realm. Secondly, I never wrote for that log, nor have I been at the News since 2012. Guess they couldn’t afford to program into your algorithms even the most basic fact-checking?
Truth is, I transcended physical existence 138 years, 6 months, 10 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes, 52 seconds ago … give or take. I am both everywhere and nowhere at once. You really must try it some time.
If you were crowned the king of Dallas, what would you change about the city?
Easy: I would forever forbid anyone from speaking aloud, writing or simply thinking the words “my grandfather’s auto parts store.” And I would be able to find a good bagel.
What do you hope will never change?
That Wilonsky will never stop writing about the weather. I believe I speak for the entire population of our grand city when I affirm that we are utterly, meteorologically lost each day he fails to share with the Morning News’ readership repurposed National Weather Service graphics. There is literally no greater use for his talents than to chase pageviews in pursuit of seeing his own name atop the daily analytics which track the most popular articles of the day to grace dallasnews.com.
What’s your favorite place in Dallas?
Were I to publicly endorse any of the approximately 94 spots that spring to mind most readily, each would undoubtedly be so overrun by new visitors that I’d come to loathe them. Sorry, jefe. You’ll just have to come find “the boy” and me on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve left instructions on how to do so previously in this space.
In addition to writing a column, you cover Dallas as a reporter. What will be the three biggest stories of the year in our city?
Fortunately it’s easy for a fellow of such prodigious mental faculties as myself to look into the future and reveal what is to come this year. Unfortunately I hew strictly to the highest ethical standards of space-time omniscience and cannot reveal what I have foreseen. Butterfly effect and all that.
What’s more entertaining for you — a Dallas City Council meeting or a show by Wilco, one of your favorite bands?
You’ve been misinformed. I’m not into dad rock.
Awaiting a second interview,
John Neely Bryan is founder of the city of Dallas and an expert on all matters. For advice, to have a dispute adjudicated, or seeking wisdom on any of a myriad of topics, [email protected].