The Observer debuted on August 20, 1980, for 50 cents an issue. Flipping through archival copies to glance at covers for the remainder of that year, we noticed prophetic places where the publication vaguely resembled its current incarnation: a story about the local consequences of the drought-stricken Texas summer and how scientists predict it will only get worse, and a piece about how Dallas televangelists and The New Right are working to get Ronald Reagan elected. Then there are topics that were unique to the young paper's personality--that essay about why singles at The Village Apartments are deciding to have less sex. (In the article, we are warned not to be fooled by the pouting, bikini-clad woman on a nearby billboard that says "MORE FUN" as she points to an apartment building).
Luckily, Dallas and Observer have evolved simultaneously into...well, we're still not sure. We just know that we wouldn't be able to fill our pages every week with such provocative people unless something was happening in this neck of the woods. For the "Best of Dallas" issue in 2000, the paper's 20th anniversary, we have revisited individuals who appeared on our cover throughout the past two decades. Played catch-up, asked for comparisons of then and now, explained how hindsight has allowed us to see what they contributed to the development of their specialties. Some, such as Stanley Marcus, are obvious and global; others, such as Russell Hobbs, who forged a Deep Ellum scene that still benefits developers, have played an even more crucial role than we first realized.
So, as you flip through these pages, ask yourself, "What was I doing 20 years ago?" (We were outside a pizza palace, puking up a sausage deluxe at our grade-school graduation party.)
Hopefully, you're in a better place now too.
-- Jimmy Fowler, Best of Dallas editor