Wednesday, January 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022
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EDITOR’S PAGE

From the Publisher: D and Dallas on a roll
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EDITOR’S PAGE

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We create a magazine each month. It has words and pictures, crafted stories and colorful ads-just like Time, Harper’s, Motor Trend and hundreds of other lesser-known publications. But unlike many other magazines, D is a thumping financial success. We’re not boasting, just stating facts. Over 400,000 educated, acquisitive readers pick up D each issue, and we’ve carried more pages of advertising in 1985 than any other Texas magazine. Though still young, we’re one of the largest and most stable city magazines in the country. Our financial edge gives us the luxury to hire the best writers, artists and photographers and to invest time and money in doing what a city magazine must do: find the elusive stories hidden in the “creases.”

But a profitable magazine, like any business, can become imprisoned by its own success; bureaucratic inertia can set in, brought on by the fear of tampering with a winning formula. Too many publications fail to learn the lessons which all good sports teams know: You must replenish and rebuild while you are strong, not while you are weakening. If you wait until your veteran players are fading and your coaching staff is exhausted, the process of rebuilding-or even keeping pace-may be long and painful.

The same is true of cities. By many measures of success, Dallas is on a tremendous roll. The stories of our wealth, our booming economy and our entrepreneurial excellence are too well known to need repeating here.

And yet, there is a dark side to our boom town. For the past few years, Dallas has been facing the inevitable identity crisis that comes to all strong young cities. The traffic nightmares on Central and the Parkway are just symptoms of our dilemma: how to chart a livable course between runaway growth- which destroys the quality of life-and economic stagnation, which just as surely destroys the quality of life. Meanwhile, landmarks fall to the wrecking ball. Just getting across the city becomes a tedious task many people would rather not face. Without qualified management (an executive director and chief financial officer have yet to be hired), DART is prepared to make irreversible route decisions that will significantly affect demographic trends in Dallas.

One election does not make a revolution, but the message of the last city elections is hard to mistake. Even in solidly “establishment” precincts, many voters seemed eager to reexamine the hallowed “Keep the dirt flying” motto that has ruled Dallas for much of this century. In handing Starke Taylor the narrowest of victories, voters seemed to anticipate the words of poet Wendell Berry, a stern critic of urban overgrowth who was one of the speakers at the recent Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture seminar. The topic was “What Makes a City.” Chris Tucker’s report on the conference begins on page 168.

Of course we can’t turn the clock back to the smaller, slower Dallas of earlier decades. Still, it’s nice to look back once in a while, as Richard West did in his search for the oldest things in North Dallas (page 56). As West learned, there are some things north of LBJ more than fifteen minutes old.

But change goes on. Besides throwing a scare into Starke Taylor, the city elections brought new power to homeowner groups with the City Council victories of Lori Palmer and Bill Milkie. Large developers will have to work even harder than before to convince this Council to grant them their wishes. Some of my best friends are developers, but it seems likely that during the next few years, many overextended builders will fall victim to a Darwinian struggle. If un-trammeled growth has not finally sparked a counterreaction, it has certainly left us precariously overbuilt.

In a city of so much change-some of it swift, some imperceptibly slow-we at D must work to keep pace. We’re taking the steps necessary to guarantee that your city magazine remains the fresh, provocative and compelling publication that Dallas needs and deserves.

Which brings me to the recent changes at D. After a three-month search for a new editor, I finally realized that I had the best person right here at home. I wanted:

●an organized, critical thinker who could evaluate good writing and generate ideas and excitement,

●a strong, committed point of view,

●a sense of balance, style, pace, grace and chutzpah,

●a basic iconoclasm, ?obdurate resourcefulness,

●a keen knowledge of the local scene and ?a sense of authority that says, “This is our town. We love it and nobody knows it better than we do.”

Ifound those qualities in Ruth Miller Fitzgibbons, a former senior editor of D and a staffer at Cosmopolitan and The New York Times who had decided to go free-lance a year ago. Working closely with executive editor Chris Tucker, who next month will become our regular back-page columnist, Fitzgibbons will make you want to keep on reading D-even when you disagree with our thoughts on city government, social problems, the arts, entertainment or dining.

Some things at D, however, will remain unchanged. We’ve never wavered in our commitment to covering the problems of young people, who after all will inherit the city we build. Hence our constant interest in the Dallas Independent School District, the changing nature of the family, child abuse and a host of other issues. That concern continues in this issue with Jan Jarvis’ disturbing report on the Legion of Doom, the misguided teenagers who set out to impose their will on a Fort Worth high school (page 53). Are they merely an isolated case of patriotism gone wrong, or symptoms of deeper ills in our society?

We also focus this month on the phenomenon of latchkey kids, the thousands of Dallas/Fort Worth youngsters who come home each day to an empty house. Are such children being given too much independence too soon? What are their alternatives? How safe are they? We wanted to do more than just outline the problem, so we sent free-lance writer Mark Donald around the country to see what other cities are doing about after-school care. His story starts on page 62.

On a lighter note, we welcome popular author Prudence Mackintosh to the pages of D. Her story may remind you that the more things change, the more they remain the same: Kids still stumble, awkwardly and amusingly, into sexual awareness. Those who enjoyed Mackintosh’s Thundering Sneakers (and those who haven’t met her yet) are in for a treat on page 47.

Another fact of life: More than 68,000 people move here each year. Where will they live? What will they do? Our annual newcomers guide, beginning on page 65, gives the answers.

Dallas isn’t yet the Athens of the world, but it is emerging as one of the more powerful city-states in America. By the year 2000, we may-but wait: First we have to get through 1985. And you can count on one thing. We’ll be here to help you do that.