A Daily Conversation About Dallas


New EarBurner: A TCU Professor Walks Into a Dallas Bar

| 3 weeks ago

Last week, D Magazine editor Tim Rogers wrote a post detailing how someone had complained at a grocery store about the cover of our November issue, causing the magazines to be pulled from racks. The cover bears these words:

“If the poor Negroes in their shacks cannot be seen, all the guilt feelings … will disappear, or at least be removed from primary consideration.”

The quote was taken from a 1966 report commissioned by the State Fair. The report laid out a plan: seize the homes next to Fair Park, about 300 owned by mostly Black residents, pave over the land, and the White fairgoers would not have to see who lived nearby. That’s exactly what happened, as our Zac Crain explains in the cover story.

But back to that grocery store. Tim intimated that it was likely a White customer who complained—the store “happens to be in an affluent, predominantly White part of town,” he wrote—and a lot of the comments under the story and on Facebook fell right in with that assumption.

Out west in Fort Worth, Jean Marie Brown trained a skeptical eye to Tim’s words and wrote him an email. “I was struck by your assumptions, as well as the comments from readers, that the objection came from a white person,” she wrote. “While that’s possible, I would also think it’s possible that the cover language could have been jarring to a black person standing in line.”

Brown is an assistant professor of professional practice and the director of student media at the Bob Schieffer College of Communications at TCU. She noted that her 87-year-old mother “despises the word negro because it was used so pervasively through the late 1960s.”

“There’s a part of Dallas, a part of the U.S., that doesn’t need to be ‘confronted’ with this history because they have lived it,” Brown wrote. “It’s important when trying to heal old wounds, not to inadvertently create new ones.”

Part of the goal of our November issue was to spark a conversation: about race, history, and how our city has treated Black people. But that extends to our own work: the language we use, the audience we target, the editorial decisions made on the cover and inside the pages of the magazine and on this website.

We’ll be recording a few podcasts around Zac’s cover story. But we’re starting with Jean Marie Brown, who graciously drove all the way from Fort Worth to the Old Monk to chat with us. The episode is after the jump.

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New EarBurner Podcast: Alex Macon Talks D’s First Daily Newsletter

| 4 months ago

Beginning tomorrow, August 17, D Magazine subscribers will find Alex Macon in their inbox each weekday. Our senior digital editor is launching what we’re calling LeadingOff, a title that readers of this space are surely familiar with.

He is calling it a “daily roundup of everything worth knowing today in Dallas.”

Think of this newsletter as your cheat sheet to what’s happening in Dallas, a daily pulse check on the state of the city. You’ll be hearing about the latest news from across North Texas as well as the weather, things to do, and more, along with stories about the people who make this such a strange and wonderful place to live.

It will be delivered directly to your inbox, five days a week, around the time you’re waking up. I know it’s early, and you’re busy, so I’ll be making all of this as engaging and to the point as possible. It should pair well with a cup of coffee.

This is D’s first daily newsletter. We have our weeklies—D Brief, SideDish, FrontRow, AtHome—but we saw a need to deliver the most important information about the city every morning. We want to help you cut through the noise. And there is no one better than Alex to do that.

So we invited our colleague to the Old Monk and recorded a half hour EarBurner to introduce himself and what he’ll be working on. And how everyone with microphones is afraid of bridges and why you should be, too.

Head here to sign up for LeadingOff. It’ll cost you a whopping $1 a month, but you’ll also get it for free with a subscription to the print magazine. If you’re on the fence, shoot me a note and I’ll send you a sample for free. (Just don’t tell our wonderful audience development department.)

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EarBurner Podcast: Introducing Mike Piellucci, Our New Sports Editor

| 4 months ago

Are you ready for some stuff to go down? Seriously. This is about to happen.

In the next few weeks — OK, maybe a month — D Magazine will launch a new sports thing called StrongSide. It’ll be just like FrontBurner and SideDish and FrontRow. Only it will be totally different and focused on sports in North Texas. Its tagline, until we decide to change it, is: “Smart takes and winning stories about Dallas sports.” And the guy who will call the shots is named Mike Piellucci. In this episode of EarBurner, Mike introduces himself, and Zac insults my bottom. And we discuss competitive collegiate meat judging.

Quick links to stuff that comes up in our conversation: the D story Mike wrote about the first professional bridge team; the Sports Illustrated story he wrote about meat judging; the Athletic story about the discord within the Mavericks organization that Mike edited; and the D story Matt wrote about Dr. Death that NBC won’t even send him a thank-you coozie for.

You’ll find the podcast player below. Or you can subscribe through whichever podcatching app you prefer. Also below, you’ll find a letter of introduction from Mike himself that ran in the August issue of D.

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New EarBurner Podcast: Barak Epstein Is Back With the Oak Cliff Film Festival

| 6 months ago

You know what is stronger than the coronavirus? The Oak Cliff Film Festival. It is one week away, people. You can get tickets and check out the lineup right here. OCFF organizer and noted film geek Barak Epstein stopped by to talk about the pandemic and his lousy home theater setup and why he’s in the tank for Love Field and which films you should be especially pumped to see at this year’s festival. Have a listen. Use your favorite podcatcher, or use the handy player below.

One more thing: it would be a huge help to us if you’d pop over to the Apple podcast app and write a short review of EarBurner. Would it kill you? No, it wouldn’t.

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New EarBurner: Police Chief Eddie Garcia On Violent Crime, Budgets, Marijuana, and More

| 7 months ago

We met with Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia a day after he told the City Council how he planned to curb violent crime. Violent crime, he told council, is largely concentrated in tiny pockets in a few neighborhoods across the city. In Dallas, we’ve known that it has generally—although not always—originated between two or more individuals who are familiar with one another.

And we know that most of the communities that are dealing with violent crime do not have the same sort of opportunities as communities where it is not as prevalent. Transportation is poor, life expectancy is lower, jobs are difficult to come by, and healthy food isn’t always available. Many of those failures are the fault of government, which for too long neglected—and actively damaged, be that through zoning or highways or redlining or other policy decisions—some communities while favoring others.

The city’s violent crime rate increased 14 percent from 2018 to 2019 and another 5 percent from 2019 to 2020. Into this walks Garcia, who, upon his hiring three months ago, was charged with fixing it. I found his three-hour briefing to council interesting, in part because he waded right into the very controversial phrases that are “hot-spot policing” and “broken windows theory.”

Those have both led to over-policing and prejudicial practices like stop and frisk. In some cities, they’ve led to a disproportionate targeting of people of color who live in communities with high poverty rates and a violent crime problem. Garcia says his plan isn’t that; he said it’s not a “dragnet” operation and it won’t lead to stop and frisk. He says the plan is specific and narrowly tailored. It wants to fix some simple infrastructure problems that can improve neighborhoods:

“In one of those areas (I was patrolling) I counted 12 streetlights that were out in a city block. I don’t know what was worse: the fact that there was 12 streetlights that were out or the fact that people thought it was OK to live that way, because it’s not.”

As for the “hot spots,” the department identified grids—these are about the length of one football field and the width of about two—where most violent crime is occurring. This is what the operation will look like:

“We’ve broken down not only the areas but the times that we need to be there. The point is to be there and be highly visible. As visible as possible. It’s not about being there in those peak hours and stopping everything that moves, that’s that historic perspective of hot-spot policing and how it destroys community relationships with the police department. This isn’t that.”

Meanwhile, the city itself will need to figure out investments that can lift these neighborhoods up. Considering public safety is the largest line item on the city budget, balancing those interests is a difficult proposition for the chief:

“On one hand, yes, for long-term, safer Dallas and to get our communities on stable ground, we need to reduce poverty. We need to increase employment. We need to reduce food disparities and things of that nature. But at the same time you also have a report that’s saying you also need police officers to be in these areas to drive crime down. …I don’t want to call them competing interests – you have these two very important prongs that are needed for a safer Dallas, right? I’m not quite sure what the answer is, but especially when I go out into the community, I know these things are long-term successes, but our community is asking for officers now. Immediately.”

Zac Crain and I spoke with Garcia about his violent crime plan, how he reconciles the need for social services and the police department’s budget, what led to his decision to stop arresting for personal amounts of marijuana, and his thoughts on the legislation that would allow for the open carrying of handguns without training or licensing.

Listen after the jump.

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New EarBurner: D’s Peter Simek Talks About His Profile of Mayor Eric Johnson

| 7 months ago

Mayor Eric Johnson hasn’t sat down D Magazine since May of 2019, when the then candidate held a mayoral watch party at Smoky Rose as he made the runoff. Tim Rogers, the editor of this magazine, stuck an iPhone in his face and asked a few questions, including whether local political consultant Jay Pritchard ever “lit him up” during a high school football game and why Ray Hunt didn’t show up to the party.

Johnson quickly answered, walked away, and that was that. Outside of press conferences, the last long-ranging, sit-down Q&A interview that Johnson gave for a local or regional news outlet that was not a TV or radio station—or conducted on a stage—was in July of 2019, to Texas Monthly. Our former colleague Jason Heid conducted that interview. Johnson appeared to take umbrage with a question and asked whether Heid had been a consultant with his opponent’s campaign. (Ed. Note: Tristan Hallman, the mayor’s chief of policy and communication, notes that the mayor has also given interviews to the News‘ editorial board, the paper’s beat reporters, “some sports reporters” and the Advocate.) 

I lead with this context to introduce the triumphant return of the EarBurner podcast. Why? Because it’s all about Mayor Eric Johnson, as told by senior editor Peter Simek. His profile of the mayor went online last week. It explores the things that make the mayor so intriguing: his background, his upbringing, his relationships, his political strategy, his career.

The mayor didn’t sit for an interview, so Peter spent months reaching out to people who know him. He made contact with 89 of them, about a third of whom were willing to speak for the piece. He put together the story using what he learned through them. For the first time in over a year, and for the first time since all of our vaccines kicked in, Zac and Tim and I set up the equipment at the Old Monk and recorded a chat with Peter about all this.

With “normal” rushing back, expect more EarBurner in the coming months. We already have some big guests lined up in May. Listen to the chat with Peter after the jump. And, by the way, lunch service starts up again at the Old Monk on Friday, April 30.

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New EarBurner: D Photographer Elizabeth Lavin on Shooting a COVID Ward

| 1 year ago

Elizabeth Lavin is our incredibly talented, singular staff photographer, without whom we wouldn’t be able to get a magazine out every month while we’ve all been locked inside. It certainly wouldn’t look as good as it does. Since the pandemic reached us in March, she’d been harboring the desire to get inside a hospital ward that was treating patients with COVID-19. UT Southwestern became that hospital. It makes sense. The researchers are creating models to help the public understand the potential risk to hospital capacity if they don’t mask up, distance themselves from others, and limit non-essential travel. Scientists have been digging into the disease, trying to figure ways to impede its development via new therapies. And an army of doctors and nurses and hospitalists and staffers actively treat patients on two floors of Clements Hospital.

Lavin got in there. She wore an N-95 mask and made sure she stayed away from surfaces. We put the story online yesterday, and I hope you’ll read it. I didn’t go into the units, but I did speak to the people who practice there. It was an honor to tell their stories and to share the pages with Lavin’s photos.

Anyway, below is a short EarBurner that Tim and Zac recorded with Lavin in Kathy Wise’s backyard—socially distant, of course. Read the story, look at the photos, then come back and listen to the podcast.

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New EarBurner: Jim Schutze Is Now a D Magazine Columnist

| 1 year ago

For the past six weeks or so, Jim Schutze has only been an old man in Old East Dallas. Since being laid off—his preferred verbiage is “fired”—from the Dallas Observer after more than two decades of service, Schutze has been watching public meetings without an outlet beyond his Facebook page. Now he has that outlet.

In our July issue, which subscribers receive this week, the longtime columnist returns to the pages of D Magazine. He’ll be contributing a monthly column to the magazine and you’ll see his byline once a week or so on FrontBurner. His work will lean heavily into education coverage, but he’ll also be keeping an eye on the city’s operations, as he has always done.

To mark the occasion, Tim and Zac met Schutze on his funky, plant-covered porch and talked about his career. Which is also a quick history of Dallas journalism, from the Times Herald to the early days of the Observer, when the alt weekly was flush with ads and more than a dozen staff writers. There’s insight on, the sex ads fronting as classifieds that grew into a federal case but began “as this little thing in the back” of the Observer’s offices on Oak Lawn. “I watched it metastasize,” Schutze says.

Schutze also shares the story of how County Commissioner John Wiley Price came to own the rights to Schutze’s 1987 book The Accommodationthe text of which is now flowing through a weird Twitter account. There’s a tale of how he got his money from director Larry Clark, who turned Schutze’s Bully into a movie in South Florida. And, of course, you’ll learn more about his role at D and his piece in the July issue before it lands in your mailbox and online. Listen after the jump.

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New EarBurner: Former Mayor Mike Rawlings From His Backyard

| 2 years ago

At his home in Preston Hollow, former Mayor Mike Rawlings is waiting out the pandemic by reading the Bible every day. And by sitting in an Adirondack chair in his backyard, cigar in hand and a gin and grapefruit nearby.

Rawlings does not appear to miss his job at 1500 Marilla. He’d been through something of a trial run for coronavirus, when an African man named Thomas Eric Duncan arrived at a small apartment in Vickery Meadow with Ebola. Rawlings was lockstep with County Judge Clay Jenkins, giving daily press conferences and reassurances to the public.

But Ebola was different. That was a localized event, with messaging targeted at encouraging residents to not to be afraid as they moved about the city. COVID-19 flips that upside down. You should all be staying inside as much as possible, and the city and the county are each under disaster or emergency declarations that allow our leaders to keep you there.

But Rawlings came close to issuing his own disaster declaration, when it became difficult to track the doctors who had come into contact with Duncan. This is one of the many things Tim and Zac discussed in the former mayor’s backyard, including his church situation on Easter, how southern Dallas is likely being hit harder by COVID-19 than the more affluent parts of town, and a full-throated defense of Trinity Forest Golf Club. Even after the Nelson pulled out.

“I’m much more concerned about results than I am of optics,” Rawlings said. “I think we’re doing a pretty good job. It’s amazing we’re shutting the city down without any screwups.”

Also on the docket: the pronunciation of “kerchief” and a revealing game of Marry, uhm, Eff, Kill. Listen below or on your favorite podcatcher.

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New EarBurner: Mike Rhyner Risks It All at Main Street Garden

| 2 years ago

For the second week in a row, Tim Rogers, Zac Crain, and I braved the outdoors to record an EarBurner podcast. We were joined this time at Main Street Garden by a radio legend, Mike Rhyner, whom Zac profiled in the April issue (online soon, P1s!). This podcast will get you excited to read the story, because Rhyner is effusive about it. You’ll hear that.

What you’ll also hear: how a “real Type A guy” feels sitting on the sidelines as COVID-19 changes everything, unable to broadcast his opinion or talk about the 1986 Mets-Red Sox game he caught on MLB Network the other night. (He’s perfectly OK with that, by the way.) He’s still walking downtown regularly despite the shutdown (did you know it has a west-to-east incline?); he sees his daughter, who moved here from California in December; he has to remind himself not to shake hands. Just like all of us.

Rhyner may not be on the Ticket, but he has listened to Bob Sturm enough to do the best impression of him you’ll ever hear. So press play.

“You don’t look back,” Rhyner says. “You move on.”

He moved on to EarBurner, the longest-running socially distant podcast in Dallas, which is still in production, even in the midst of a pandemic. Give it a listen below or on Spotify or your favorite podcatcher.

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New EarBurner: Councilwoman Paula Blackmon, Co-Chair of COVID-19 Task Force

| 2 years ago

Councilwoman Paula Blackmon represents the White Rock Lake area of East Dallas. And she’s the co-chair of the city’s COVID-19 task force. In full city parlance, that’s the Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 Human and Social Recovery and Assistance. Tim had the idea of recording an EarBurner in the parking lot of the Lakewood Growler. Blackmon agreed. We came really close to the 10-person gathering threshold because Tim invited his friends. (We maintained appropriate social distancing.)

But anyway. Interesting things are discussed. The ad hoc committee met last night for the first time. They tried to parse the language of the county’s shelter-in-place order, which County Judge Clay Jenkins announced about an hour before. I say that because the podcast was recorded prior to the order and prior to that initial meeting.

Blackmon spoke with us most about the economic recovery that will be so critical to so many Dallasites. Local officials will need to ask the state government for relief on things like the small business tax, sales tax, and property taxes. Could we suspend the sales tax? Can we freeze property taxes? That’s what Councilman Lee Kleinman will be charged with finding out. Councilman Adam Bazaldua will be working with hotels and restaurants and bars to figure out the relief that works for them and their people. Also on the committee? North Oak Cliff’s Chad West, who’s working with the chambers of commerce; southern Dallas’ Tennell Atkins, who’s also the chair of the economic development committee.

The task force is chaired by Councilman Casey Thomas, of southern Dallas. Blackmon is anticipating unemployment to shoot up to around 20 percent, which is in line with federal estimates. This thing came on fast at City Hall. She said March 1 was the date on which it was “in everyone’s mind, then it got real fast and we were thinking about the parades.” Those got shut down, of course.

But that was the easy part. Now comes something much more difficult. How are you going to provide a safety net for Dallasites who are sheltering in place to protect one another? And figure that out while managing a regular Council agenda: the scooter pilot is expiring, for instance. The Council will need to address that. And what does Blackmon think about neighboring counties not following the same rules that Dallas is? (Looking at you, Tarrant. And you, city of Frisco.)

“Our region has to work together on this,” she said, diplomatically.

Sound interesting? It is! Listen below.

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New EarBurner: Dave Raymond, Voice of the Texas Rangers

| 2 years ago

Dave Raymond has been the voice of the Texas Rangers since the 2016 season, after doing some time with the Houston Astros. It was a bumpy trip to get to the booth in Arlington: the Astros basically let him walk, sending him wandering in the sports desert for about four years. Before that, he’d clawed his way through minor league ball. He was somewhat famously (Sports Illustrated wrote about it, at least) traded from the Charleston RiverDogs to the St. Paul Saints for a case of crab cakes, a wind machine, and a blind color commentator. He found a job in Iowa, at the Triple A squad Cubs, and didn’t report to Minnesota.

Oh, and, in the summers, he worked as a fact checker at Forbes, which led to an opportunity to write. In 2000, he blew the lid off the accounting irregularities at MicroStrategy, a stock plunge that brought about the bursting of the dot-com bubble. And—can’t forget this one—he shares a name with the guy who created the Phillie Phanatic, which actually helped open a door or two for him professionally.

So, yeah. That’s why we asked Dave to drive all the way from his Flower Mound home to the Old Monk in East Dallas to chat. We got into all that and more, like the new stadium and the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. (My take: get better signs. How do teams broadcast such an integral part of the sport so publicly and not expect your competition to try to find ways to break your code and capitalize? This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but everyone’s so up-in-arms because the Astros—and the Red Sox, another buncha techno-cheaters—actually won. And, yeah, they used tech to do it. The Astros are a symptom of a league that’s too long coasted on handshake and gentleman’s agreements, and when technology floods these stadiums, teams and the league need to adjust.)

ANYWAY. Listen below or on Spotify. After the jump, Dave talks about the new stadium.

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