On a sunny Tuesday morning, Jane McGarry walks up to a patio table at Eatzi’s 20 minutes late and smelling strongly of—is that?
“Relish,” she says, noting the question mark above my head after we share an air kiss. “I had it on my face for two hours last night. Yeah, uh-huh, just like you’d put on a hot dog. It’s part of a new beauty regimen I’m trying out.” She smiles and tilts her head. “For the magazine!”
The magazine is Real Jane, where McGarry has served as editor-in-chief since it launched in July. An online guide to the beauty products she uses, the food she eats, and the thoughts she has about domestic violence in the NFL, Real Jane is the setting for a second act McGarry never planned.
For three decades, she was a reporter and anchor for NBC 5, best known for her partnership with Mike Snyder. But McGarry left the station following a DWI arrest in May 2012. She spent much of the next two years on the sidelines.
“I couldn’t figure out, you know, what was next. I didn’t want to end up like Mike.” She’s looking down, absent-mindedly running her hands over the shiny fabric of her Chico’s blouse, smoothing out invisible wrinkles. She stops and takes a long drink from the Starbucks cup she brought with her. “I mean, I’m not saying I didn’t have options! Of course I had options! It’s not like I am—oh, what’s her name? From Channel 33?” She shrugs. “I had options. Offers! But I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” She leans over to make sure I’ve written down her quotes with the exclamation points included. “That’s sort of my brand.”
That brand began to take shape when she ran into Cynthia Smoot at a press preview for Ferley’s—Tre Wilcox’s since-closed attempt at a modern-day fern bar—late last year. Smoot, the editor of the lifestyle blog Oh So Cynthia, cornered McGarry and encouraged her to start a site of her own. The conversation continued the next night when they both ended up at a fundraiser for Courtney Kerr’s charity, Most Legible Dallas, which funds calligraphy classes for homeless teens. McGarry was convinced and gushed about it on her Facebook page:
“Two nights with this amazing, amazing editor has left me unbelievably inspired. Doesn’t get better than journos.”
Still, McGarry had her doubts. Even though it often seemed as though she had sprinted from her car directly to her spot at the anchor desk, she was comfortable in front of a camera. Not as much behind a keyboard—or, at least, the touchscreen of her iPad. “I like to work on this,” she says, gesturing to the first-generation model sitting on the table between us, encased in a thick, zebra-print OtterBox, “so I can write whenever and wherever I get inspired. Well, I mean, wherever there is free wifi.”
And she didn’t know what she wanted the site—“eMagazine,” she corrects me—to be about. That’s why she wanted to meet me at Eatzi’s. It was here where she finally Figured It Out. It was a Sunday night. She had stopped to pick up a bucket of the store’s fried chicken while on her way home to watch Showtime’s Ray Donovan.
“I was standing in line, and it hit me—‘Jane, this magazine should be about you! You were one half of JAM! That means something in the Metroplex! You mean something. And just because you’re not on TV every day doesn’t mean people are done with your story. People care about what you care about.’ ” As proof, she points to the September story about her fried chicken/Ray Donovan Sunday routine that got 10 comments, including five from readers.
“For 30 years, I had to wait on the news,” McGarry says. She takes another long drink from her Starbucks cup, then closes her eyes and licks her lips. “Now I make it.”
Then a fissure opens in the Eatzi’s parking lot, and Satan emerges, riding a flaming chariot, to drag us both to Hell, where Jane and I are forced to share a two-bedroom, one-bath ranch with a detached garage. The wifi is great.