The `Magazine of Dallas’ By Carol Edgar Dallas D, the October-born “Magazine of Dallas,” is a local answer to the state’s Texas Monthly, which is the hinterland’s answer to New York’s New York. These magazines are members of a burgeoning batch of slick, youth-directed publications showing up in cities around the country. D and its kin are cultural amenities founded more for profit and fun than for editorial statement. What these urban slicks do well is draw big pictures of stories that the public gets jig-saw in the newspapers. What they also do is purvey for their money-spending readers tips on surviving life in the big city. These features can often be frivolous: when recession began making headlines, a New York cover story told how to spend your last $10,000. WHAT KIND OF urban slick is D? Like others in its family, it’s chock full of guides: where to eat in Dallas, where to swing, where to find bargains, what movies to see and which ones to avoid. Most of this information can be found elsewhere in Texas Monthly and in the local newspapers. Of all the magazine’s regular features, only the music column by David Ritz has been novel and notable. Ritz, an ad executive, is a talented writer. All his columns have been well-conceived and carefully crafted. He was even clever enough to freshen up the tired topic called Redneck Rock. So far, D’s failing is not so much what it has as what it hasn’t: timing, genuinely good writing, and most important regional flavor. The covers of a couple of issues are telling here. They could easily be about other places. One, on the December D, depicts a holiday scene with snow falling and shoppers bustling. Since when has Dallas had a white Christmas? Another is an indoor scene a room decorated with D’s content emphasizes business and politics natural topics for its affluent North Dallas readers. But these people are also educated enough to find interesting other facets of the city’s culture. Edgar is associate producter of “Newsroom” at KERA-TV in Dallas. An example: Big D seems to have more than its share of eccentrics, like tart-tongued Klanswoman Dixie Leber. D would do well to look at these people, to sketch them verbally, to wonder on paper why there are so many of them here. And what of the past of the city in the middle of nowhere that had no reason to survive but itself? As Charlie the anvil salesman said in The Music Man, you gotta know the territory. Dallas author-historian A. C. Greene does, and he could be spicing the magazine with regional flavor. But D lost him before its first issue went to press. For that premiere issue, the editors planned to splash with The Telling about power in Dallas long a subject of journalistic scrutiny. Greene was commissioned for the task, and he spent many a day last summer embroidering the story’s theory. But the submitted words, numbering 10,000, were too many. Writer-editor negotiations failed, but the story didn’t die. A form of it appeared in the October issue after all. Greene was thanked for his contributions in its italicized preface. With Greene gone, D’s only claim to established talent was dean of Texas letters Lon Tinkle. So far, though, Tinkle’s name has appeared nowhere in the magazine except its list of contributing editors. D’s best young talent is associate editor John Merwin. His November account of the sickness and death of the now-revived Dallas Symphony assimilated five complicated years’ worth of events into a cohesive overview. And in the April issue Merwin scored with the fresh story of a multi-million dollar suburban development that poses yet another threat to an already ailing downtown. Staleness, though, has characterized too many of D’s stories. The January cover story on James Ling \(late of scintillating earlier in the seventies. Stanley Marcus’ memoirs probably interest the magazine’s readers. But, most likely, by the time excerpts from Minding the Store appeared in the November D, copies of the merchant’s book were already on their bedside tables. D’s pre-publication promotion promised a story on private schools in Dallas. Texas Monthly took the idea, expanded its coverage to statewide, and scooped D with its first installment of a better-looking, if not better-reading, two-part survey. All these problems pale, though, compared to D’s big gaffe. Widespread disapproval greeted January’s “Unauthorized Biography of [Mayor] Wes Wise.” The profile, written by editor Jim Atkinson, jabbed repeatedly at a man who seems too average to deserve the hatchet job that some critics were calling it. Atkinson referred repeatedly to the mayor’s mannerisms, mentioning “nervous giggling” at least twice and calling Wise’s gait a “Mickey Rooney strut.” Said one observer about the story, “It’s like shooting a mosquito with, an elephant gun.” \(Atkinson attempted penance the next month with a profile of Wise’s main re-election challenger John Schoellkopf. The story was so careful not to affend that it lacked any real sense of the man and, instead, rehashed the October story about The Wise profile garnered the mayor numerous sympathy votes. People-on-the-street were saying they’d vote for him just because of that ugly piece in D, and that they wouldn’t ever read the magazine again. Despite the fact that the article probably helped Wise more than it hurt him, he wasn’t exactly grateful. The day after his breezy re-election, he filed suit against D for $1.35 million. A former business partner of the mayor’s had done the same asking for $300,000 some weeks earlier. 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