Editor’s Note: This was the first publisher’s note to appear in D Magazine, in October of 1974. There isn’t a better person to explain the origins of D—and why it wasn’t called Dallas Magazine—than Wick Allison. Wick passed away on Tuesday; here is his obituary. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given in Wick’s honor to Society of St. Vincent de Paul Dallas or Coalition for a New Dallas. Please specify Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Dallas, where Wick was an active member.
Two years ago, almost to the day, this magazine was named. As I remember, Jim Atkinson, Jerrie Smith and I were in the middle of an interminable planning session, and one of the topics on the agenda was the matter of a name for our magazine. When we reached that point in the conversation, things went downhill pretty fast.
First we catalogued and rejected every conceivable variation of the word Dallas: Dallasite, Dallasan, City of Dallas, Dallascene, Dalla-scope, etc. Try listing the options some time. A daring hostess could introduce it as the most boring party game of the season. Our reason for doing it was that the most descriptive and least pretentious name for a city magazine about Dallas is Dallas. Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce made the same discovery some decades ago and had the name copyrighted.
The discussion, which by that time involved an unknown quantity of beer, began to get a little off center. I went on one of my moralistic binges, deciding that I wanted a “message” title: The Dallas Way, New City, The Meaning of Dallas. Atkinson, as is his wont, was considerably less serious about the matter, recommending finally that we have no name at all. While the two of us proceeded to make fools of ourselves, Jerrie remained quiet, with a rather perplexed look on her face.
The next day we found out why. She’d been thinking. When we gathered at her home, she announced that she “had it.”
Her suggestion was D.
Jim and I liked it, although we were more impressed with its novelty than its significance. We tried it out in a few test sentences and noted that the single letter looked a little lonely. We tried it out with the telephone operator. The operator, who must have been accustomed to such experimentation on Southwestern Bell’s time, announced her approval. “I don’t know what you’re naming,” she concluded, “but at least you aren’t naming it Big D.” We liked her.
Six months later we were seated in the conference room of the Hous-ton/Ritz advertising agency. Without disclosing our earlier decision, we had asked the agency to recommend a name for the magazine while they were working on a presentation. David Ritz gave a twenty minute opening soliloquy which climaxed when he unveiled a sketch showing our new name.
The agency’s recommendation? D.
For the next several months, the name game was temporarily suspended while we concentrated on lesser matters, such as finances, writers, incorporation, circulation planning and sales strategies. But the good times couldn’t last forever. At one of our regular board meetings someone casually mentioned that the magazine’s proposed name caused a lot of problems. The comment disrupted the meeting, as everyone jumped in with their favorite anecdote of how many ways D could be misinterpreted. Once again, things went down hill pretty fast. Two hours later the board requested that it be presented with some alternatives.
We tried. We really did. All in all I’d guess that at one time we had fifty names on a list, all of them unworkable and most of them embarrassing. Friends got involved. People we’d never heard of got involved. Ritz, getting wind of the latest developments, rushed over for a heart-to-heart talk. He even violated one of the cardinal rules of the agency business by taking us out to lunch – on his expense account.
The board settled on D,
The problems are still hard to shake. Only a few weeks ago, Associate Editor John Merwin had a particularly exasperating experience trying to communicate the name by telephone to a secretary who insisted that he spell it for her. After many questions and answers, he finally broke through, “No, no. It’s simply the letter D.” Sure enough, the next day he received an envelope of material addressed, “Letter D Magazine.” Atkinson counseled philosophic resignation.
In the end, we chose our name simply because we like its style and we like what it says about our city. Dallas is no longer a little D struggling to become a big D, and the city should assume the quiet confidence our single initial implies.
It’s why we founded this magazine, and it’s what we hope the magazine will impart.