We search for our first subscribers, Cool River chef Bob Stephenson busts a rhyme, the Old 97’s face off against Lisa Loeb, and more.

Our First Subscriber

In October, D Magazine will mark its 30th year of (nearly uninterrupted) existence. To celebrate, we are searching for the subscribers who signed up for that first issue in 1974. We hope to photograph those people and use their smiling faces for our evil marketing schemes.

One such subscriber we’ve already found. It wasn’t difficult. Jenny Lea Allison, 90, is the proud mother of the man who sits at the top of our masthead, Wick Allison, the founder, editor, and publisher.

Mrs. Allison says she hasn’t missed an issue of D in three decades—even when, in the mid-’80s, her son sold the magazine and moved to New York City for 14 years. Not only did she keep subscribing, but she also saved every issue. When Wick returned to Dallas and the magazine, he absconded with those copies, which serve today as our archive, such as it is.

Unofficial librarian, long-suffering mother of the publisher—and still she gets no discount. Mrs. Allison says, “I’ll tell you, frankly, I thought I was going to get a free subscription when he started it because I was his mother. He said nobody got one free.”

If you subscribed to the first issue of D, please contact us. Our e-mail and street addresses are on p.16. And remember: no discounts. —Tim Rogers

Photo: Sean McCormick


A Few Questions from TRACY ROWLETT

At age 40, Vinny Testaverde has come to Dallas to take a job away from a kid 13 years his junior. Or, you know, do whatever’s best for the team. Because the family man is just here to help.

ROWLETT: How strange is it for you to be coached again by Parcells and throwing to Keyshawn? Sounds like the Dallas Jets.
TESTAVERDE: [laughs] I guess when you really think about it, it’s a little strange. But at the same time, it is very comforting to me. This is probably going to be my easiest transition.

ROWLETT: A lot has been said about your age. Does that concern you?
TESTAVERDE: I don’t feel like your average 40-year-old. I feel like I can go out on the field and still play at a very high level. If I didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t do it because I don’t want to put myself in harm’s way. I’m still able to get out of the way of those big guys who are barreling down on you and want to put a little punishment on your body.

ROWLETT: How was your first interaction with Quincy Carter?
I just told him, ‘Hey, you and I are going to have a great relationship.’ I’ve always gotten along with the guys I’ve worked with. We need to help each other, support each other, and let the coach decide who’s going to play for him. I think he accepted that.

ROWLETT: You wouldn’t have any problem with Parcells naming Quincy the starter?
No. I believe 100 percent that Bill Parcells will make the right decision, and I trust him. Now, if it is Quincy, of course I’m going to continue to do what I can to help this football team win games.

ROWLETT: Are you the kind of guy who likes to go out with the team to have some beers?
TESTAVERDE: I’m not much of a beer drinker. I spend a lot of hours in the office, getting physically fit and studying the playbook. But there is a time and a place for the other. With the Jets, I always took the linemen out to dinner and had some laughs and some fun. I do that a couple of times a year.

ROWLETT: Are you planning to live near Valley Ranch, or does that matter to you?
No, it doesn’t. We just want to find the best place where our kids will be comfortable. [He and wife Mitzi have three.] We want a good school system. I know some guys who live in Frisco and other places, so we are just looking for the best place for the family.

ROWLETT: What do you think of Dallas as a city?
TESTAVERDE: First of all, we’ve noticed how friendly everyone is, not just with me, but with each other. Secondly, I’m impressed with how clean everything is. May lightning come through this window if I’m lying to you. We were in an IHOP the other day with the kids, and I said out loud that it was the cleanest IHOP I’d ever been in.


Expect More, Pay Less
A couple wins a dream home courtesy of Target.
by Virginia Postrel

Becky LaChance and Jarrett Rice haven’t gotten married yet, but they’re already collecting presents from their wedding registry at Target: a Michael Graves can opener, a Michael Graves blender, a Michael Graves cheese grater, a Michael Graves house.

The last item wasn’t on their list.

When LaChance and Rice registered at Target, they didn’t know they were entering a sweepstakes to win a house designed by the renowned architect-turned-Target-brand name. Rice thought the FedEx package announcing that they’d won was a hoax.

But it was true. At press time, the couple’s three-bedroom home on the Trinity River in Benbrook was almost done. On a wooded acre in a neighborhood of custom homes, the cedar-clad house isn’t what these college students juggling part-time jobs pictured when they imagined their first home together. “It’s not going to have 8B on it,” Rice says.

The couple is shopping garage sales for furniture, and they’ve figured out how to pay the property tax bill (a home equity loan). But mostly they’re just excited.

LaChance says, “My grandfather, who used to be in construction, keeps saying, ‘They don’t build houses like this anymore.’”


The Requisite Item About LAURA MILLER

When Mayor Laura Miller wrote for the Dallas Observer, she published the cell phone numbers of two city officials. Well, turnabout is fair play. In June, the Observer’s Eric Celeste wrote a satirical piece in which he published Miller’s city-issued cell number. A week later, we called Miller to see how she was taking it.

“It doesn’t bother me because it’s a city cell phone that the taxpayers have paid for, and I published other city employees’ cell phone numbers when I was a young reporter,” she said. “So that’s why I didn’t call anybody or whine and complain, because I’ve been there, done that.”

Miller got 14 calls. “They all sounded like 16-year-olds at a beer party who went, ‘Hey, wanna call the mayor?’” —T.R.



Exposing Himself
Hyper-fabulous event planner Steve Kemble has been on a tear lately. In addition to his day job putting together parties for the rich and famous, he has launched a side career as a reality TV star. Kemble has done turns in the Style Network’s Whose Wedding is it Anyway? and the Family Channel’s My Life is a Sitcom. Then, earlier this month, he was a contestant on ABC’s Great Domestic Showdown, in which he pitted his skills in decorating, cooking, entertaining, and event planning against five others (the winner, unknown at press time, was to get a book deal and a shot at a TV show). As proof that Kemble is a real comer, his name has appeared in Alan Peppard’s column five times so far this year.

Pick Me! Pick Me!
Speaking of gay men and reality shows, it seems everyone in town has been contacted by casting agents for the Bravo network’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which plans to tape several episodes in Dallas. Folks who are either in the running to be made over or to help make someone over: Evan Grant, bald, goateed sportswriter for the Morning News; Eric Celeste, bald goateed staff writer at the Dallas Observer; Eric Hill, rugged restaurateur and owner of Hannah’s in Denton; Omar McNary, dapper, dreadlocked trainer; and Betty Payne, co-owner of Studio One Ten. As Carson would say, “A girl? Ick.”

Vanilla Ice, You’ve Been Gunk’d
For our money, Feargal McKinney’s new Idle Rich Pub owns the best bar name in town (pause a moment to remember the defunct Idle Rich Bar that used to be in the Desco Tile building, downtown). More noteworthy, though, is the pub’s attack on Vanilla Ice (aka Robert Van Winkle). On a recent Wednesday afternoon, barely a week after the Idle Rich had opened, McKinney spotted Ice getting out of limo across the street, at the Hard Rock Cafe. He and his staff pelted the lyrical poet with two dozen eggs. “I yelled, ‘Hey, Robbie!’ and then let him have it,” McKinney says. “That’s our new corporate policy. Anytime we see a washed-up singer pull up to Hard Rock in a limo, we’re going to egg them.” Watch out, Kelly Clarkson.


O-FACE: Stephenson likes to practice in the shower (not pictured).

The Def Chef
Cool River’s Bob Stephenson takes his rhymes on the road.
by Stacey Yervasi

 In a theater just down MacArthur Boulevard from his Cool River Cafe, executive chef Bob “Whoopeecat” Stephenson puts on an impromptu poetry performance for an empty house. Still wearing his blue chef garb from work, he’s lost in his freestyle rhyme, oblivious to the slow trickle of team members arriving for rehearsal.

Stephenson and the other four members of the Dallas slam team are gearing up to compete at this month’s National Poetry Slam contest in St. Louis. Eighty teams will meet in a weeklong battle of rhymes to crown a new national champion. Dallas took the title in 2001. The team comprises the top five finishers in the annual Dallas Slam Off, in which Stephenson placed third this year. In June, he also took fourth place in an individual competition filled with better-known rhymesters from San Francisco and Austin.

Stephenson started out as a musician, but after he got his first restaurant gig as a corporate trainer for Chili’s, he found it difficult to practice the trombone while traveling. So he turned to poetry, a quieter pastime. Then, one night in 1996, he went to Deep Ellum’s Club Clearview and discovered slam poetry—a way to take the stage and perform, to compete. He’s been hooked ever since.

At 6-foot-5 and 350-plus pounds, Stephenson has an impressive stage presence. He moves with grace and has a versatile voice, capable of alternating between intensity and gentleness. One minute he’s crooning a doo-wop background for team member Amy Weaver’s tribute to her vagina; the next, he’s doing an impassioned protester of the “new America.” He admits to lending the “40-something-white-guy-who-rides-a-motorcycle” perspective to his diverse team.

Although he has held posts at some of the area’s most beloved restaurants (Houston’s, Patrizio), Stephenson rarely takes inspiration from his job. He prefers to do “caricatures of people who have impacted my life,” sometimes practicing in the shower, because of the acoustics, or during his commute to work. In one piece he’s working on, Stephenson gets pulled over by a cop who, after seeing his behind-the-wheel routine without the benefit of sound, suspects the chef is suffering from road rage. Following an encore performance for the skeptical officer, he says the cop “would give me a 9.5 and tell me to work on the ending.”

We know how he feels. Endings give us trouble, too.

Photo: Dan Sellers


FLYBOY: Ross Jr. was grounded by Hughes & Luce.

Sacred Cow
The Morning News refuses to milk a good story.
by Adam McGill

Here’s one theory as to why the Dallas Morning News hasn’t reported the story about Ross Perot Jr.’s ill-gotten supersonic jets and the resulting imbroglio that eventually led his law firm, Hughes & Luce, to fire him: it’s hard.

Three things you need to know: one, Ross Perot Jr. is the CEO of Perot Systems, the data-services company of which his dad, Texas billionaire Ross Perot Sr., is chairman. Two, Hughes & Luce has represented the family in personal and business matters for more than 20 years. Three, Ross Perot Jr. likes airplanes—so much so that he skirted the law to buy two of them.

The story goes like this: in 1999, Ross Jr. founded and funded the nonprofit Alliance Heritage Museum in Fort Worth, with the intention of housing two run-down Air Force T-38 Talon supersonic trainer jets. He set to refurbishing one of them for about $5 million. Federal law says retired warplanes still belong to the government, must remain grounded, and can be loaned only to approved museums or civic groups, which Alliance Heritage was not. The Pentagon began an investigation. Hughes & Luce said the whole matter needed to be disclosed in Perot Systems’ SEC filings, but Ross Jr. chose to ignore that advice, so Hughes & Luce ditched him. (A remarkable move, since Ross Jr. was such a high-profile client that his picture appeared on the firm’s web site.) One last detail not be overlooked: Col. Steve Donnelly, who was involved in the dispute, quit his job with the Air Force when Ross Jr. offered him one with him. Donnelly has since resigned from Perot’s employ, but the inspector general is still investigating that little transaction. Oh, and Ross Jr. has retained a criminal attorney.

The above is an oversimplification. Texas Lawyer did a better job of explaining the events when it broke the story on May 24 with the front-page headline “Hughes & Luce Splits with Client Perot Systems.” The next week, an item appeared in Fortune (“Ross Perot Jr. Loses His Wings”). The week after that, the Star-Telegram reported on the story (“Perot’s Jet Dreams are Grounded After Air Force Probe”). Then, finally, a month after Texas Lawyer broke the news, the AP reported that Ross Jr. had been forced to give up the jets. And that’s the story that the Morning News ran—sort of. The News cut the 700-word AP article in half, left out any mention of the Donnelly affair or Ross Jr.’s split with Hughes & Luce, and forgot to mention Ross Jr. in the headline (“Museum Forced to Give Away Air Force Jets”).

Dallas’ only daily can be forgiven for getting scooped. But waiting a month to run the story? Then running a neutered AP version of it, rather than putting one of its own business reporters on it? And then burying the story on page 8 of the Metro section—on a Friday?

Laziness? Or kowtowing to a powerful businessman? You decide.

Photo: Kim Ritzenhaler/Dallas Morning News


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