The best things in life
"People pay for value, and most people disregard free things because they intrinsically have no value because people don't pay for them.

That bit of, um, wisdom spilled from the lips of D magazine publisher Wick Allison, as quoted in The Dallas Morning News. He was commenting on plans by Magnolia Media to create an upscale magazine in Fort Worth, similar to D. Magnolia intends to give away its magazine--at least at first--to selected, affluent Cowtown residents, the News reported. Allison advised them to charge right off the bat.

OK, maybe it's because Buzz works for a freebie, but we're puzzled by the Wickster's contention that the intrinsic value of anything is determined by how much it costs. That's a touch grasping and materialistic. Of course, that pretty much describes the target audience of D; the upcoming Fort Worth, Texas; and Papercity, a slick Houston rag that's coming soon to a Highland Park newsstand near you.

Buzz received a recent copy of the Houston Papercity. It seems as though its primary mission is to provide its readers with the answers to three questions: What's hot? How much does it cost? Which of our advertisers sells it? By our count, it used the word "hot" approximately 2,978 times. (For more on Papercity, see this issue's Hash Over.) Our favorite headline: "Does a Jacobsen and a Saarinen beat a pair of Eames?"

We're not sure--because the writing in Papercity is a bit dense--but we think they're talking about furniture. Since a good chunk of Buzz's home furnishings arrived in flat cardboard boxes labeled "assembly required," we don't really know the answer to the question, but we can tell you this: A pair of Targets beats a Wal-Mart any day.

Condemned to read it
For those of you who want more life lessons from Wick Allison--and who doesn't?--head to your local bookstore and check out Condemned to Repeat It, sort of a Wick's Little Red Book of life lessons culled from history.

The book, co-written by Allison, Jeremy Adams, and Gavin Hambly, offers up little snippets of history and aphorisms laying out what we should learn from the past. Here's one: "Money is at best a means to an end...but it is not an end itself."

In all, the book has 50 such pearls and is priced at $18. That's 36 cents per aphorism--14 cents less than a can of Coke and 31 cents more than their total intrinsic value by our count. Nonetheless, the book's dandy for leveling the legs of our non-Eames furniture.

Come fly with Ron
This time, Rick Finlan, the self-appointed litigious pest of public officials, may have been too clever by half.

Finlan, the bane of DISD, informed Buzz this week with unconcealed glee that he now has his sights set on Mayor Ron Kirk. He intends to visit the Collin County district attorney's office next week to persuade the prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against Kirk. The case, as Finlan draws it: On the night of the Trinity River bond election last May, the mayor accepted a helicopter ride from Ross Perot Jr., who recently won the right to build an arena in Dallas, thanks largely to the efforts of Kirk.

The mayor, who was at his daughter's Indian Princess campout, needed the lift to get to the victory celebration for the Trinity River bond proponents at the Fairmount Hotel. That little ride, according to Finlan, most likely violated Texas law, which forbids public officials from accepting anything of significant value from a prospective or existing contractor of the city.

Nice theory. Nice, but probably wrong.
As much as Buzz enjoys taking the odd potshot at the mayor, we did a little checking and found out who paid for the mayor's whirly bird: The Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce footed the $1,125 in airfare.

Rick Douglas, the president of the chamber, says that about a week before the Trinity election, the mayor mentioned that he wouldn't be able to attend the victory party. (Isn't it nice to know our mayor keeps the chamber up to date with his schedule?) At first, Douglas tried his usual commercial helicopter sources, but none of them wanted to land in an athletic field to retrieve Kirk from the Indian Princess affair. So Douglas says he contacted Perot, who provided the lift while the chamber provided the price of the ducat.

Sorry, Rick.

Shady deal
They haven't chained themselves to any trunks yet, but the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition has gone on record against plans by the A.H. Belo Corp. Foundation and Downtown Improvement District to chop down 21 live oaks on Ferris Plaza in front of the Morning News' offices as part of plans to "upgrade" the park.

As the coalition points out in its position statement, the 50-year-old trees "shaded tearful Dallasites as they grieved the assassination of their president. They have seen this and much, much more." (They also provide a home to grackles, whose poop, we suspect, is the driving force behind Belo's "upgrade.")

Then too, the trees shade sweating Dallasites melting through this never-ending heat wave. Even the News, which is owned by Belo, noted the value of shade. Check out this quote from a story on the cooling value of trees in last Sunday's edition: "When we lose shade trees, we lose more than a pleasant place to sip lemonade on a hot July afternoon. Experts speak of an 'urban tree crisis'...old trees are dying out or being cut down faster than new trees are being planted."

Too bad the writer didn't look out his office window--he might have seen a good case in point.

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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