Good magazine reporting comes in many different forms. In this issue, those forms have a common thread – to fulfill our promise of exploring the multi-faceted character of the city for our readers. As anyone who has travelled by canoe down the Rio Grande or hiked through the Rocky Mountains knows, exploring can be a thrilling experience. As our writers know, it can also be tedious, frustrating, amusing, fascinating and – sometimes – frightening.
In making her choices for the cover story on eight knockout rooms, interior designer June Baker began by surveyingher colleagues in the profession. “The ground rules I laid out were simple,” she reports. “We wanted to spotlight homes which were personal creations, reflecting the tastes and the work of the residents. By showing what other Dallasites have done with their own homes, we hope to give a morale boost to the reader who’s been thinking about fixing up the kitchen or re-doing the den.” June’s first compilation of homes contained 52 suggestions; these were narrowed down over a three-week period to 21. At that point the going got a little tough. “Two or three people agreed who later had to back down on the advice of insurance agents or attorneys; they didn’t think it prudent to advertise their art collections and rare furnishings to the world.” The selection process whittled down the list to our final selection of eight homes, which we think reflects an appealing diversity of tastes, moods and purposes.
A not-so-appealing mood was discovered by associate editor Robert Finklea in his exploration of the meanest bars in Dallas. Finklea came up with the notion that we widen our horizons: instead of bringing you only the best of Dallas, he thought we should, for once, bring you the worst. Once he started out on his new assignment, he began to have doubts. “You feel a certain apprehension when you lock your car doors and head for the door of one of these places. In my 10 years on the police beat (for the Dallas News) I’ve been shot at twice, nearly smashed on the head by falling debris, from a burning house, punched by an irate hoodlum, threatened by none other than Stanley (The Creeper) Cook, spat upon, urinated upon, slapped by an angry prostitute, and generally made to feel that I should apply for early retirement.” Besides spending hours meticulously poring over “beef sheets” and comparing notes with police officers, Finklea visited each of our nominated establishments personally. He emerged from his research unscathed, but with a word of warning: “If any of our readers think we’re kidding, tell them not to test us. If anyone wants to try, he should take along a buddy – somebody who can help in his get-away or notify next of kin.”
Associate publisher Susan Hoffman and her husband, Robert, showed considerably more common sense in their suggestion; they had decided some time ago that the magazine centers its restaurant coverage too much on the finer elements of Dallas dining. “I’ve peeked inside the Pyramid Room once since I’ve lived here,” Susan says, “and I’ve never visited half the exclusive restaurants recommended in our dining guide.” Susan and Robert determined that it was time to rank the restaurants where average folks regularly dine. All in all, the Hoffmans ate dinner at 43 restaurants and cafeterias (!) before selecting the best in four categories. “Two of the chains, Wyatt’s and Fred’s, served food that was unpalatable; however, for consistently well prepared food and good service, you can’t beat chains such as Steak & Ale and El Chico.” Even so, I think the Dallas Restaurant Association should award a special medal to a couple who would consume so many similar meals in so short a space of time.
But it’s all a part of our job, to fulfill a promise we made to bring you the “other” Dallas which you may never have the time (or, in the case of the bars, the inclination) to experience personally. We hope you enjoy reading about it as much as we enjoy writing about it.