Buzz is not a regular at Dallas City Council meetings, but after sitting in on last week's session, that may change. This isn't because of any newfound fascination with City Hall, we're ashamed to say. It's because we're swine, and we would hate to miss what's shaping up to be a good cat fight between council members Barbara Mallory Caraway and Laura Miller.
Hey, we said we were ashamed.
Our piggish hopes rose when the pair traded hot words during a long, confused debate over the council's move to require the 2012 Olympic Committee to please, if it's not too much trouble, tell the council what the committee's doing that might cost the city money.
As Michael Saul reported in the next day's Dallas Morning News, Caraway accused the cantankerous Miller of dragging the council back to the bad old days of bickering, though she said it was nothing personal. "Let's get personal. Come on now...Let's get personal," countered Miller-Ali.
Saul's a good play-by-play man. Allow Buzz to provide the color: While the pair shouted at one another, others in the council chambers generally had looks of disgust, sheepish grins, or the distracted stares that polite people get when they try to ignore embarrassing situations.
Then there was Buzz. Sitting in the cheap seats, our tongue between our teeth, we fought the urge to shout, "It's GO TIME!" just to see whether Mayor Ron Kirk, who eventually calmed things down before fists flew, would intervene or join Al Lipscomb under the table as Miller and Caraway rumbled. (Note to the mayor: Think about what the city pays you, then tell Al that Buzz says, "Hey.")
It made for great street theater, if not informed debate. If the council could be persuaded to sell long necks and hot dogs, it's the sort of thing that could draw Buzz away from our comfy office more often. (For you sportspersons out there, Miller probably has the reach on Caraway, but the latter looks pretty quick. We call it even.)
Insert your headline here
There's a danger to Buzz if we spend too much time at council meetings. We might end up getting a big head.
This became obvious during the calmer part of the discussion about the Olympic issue. As the council debated exactly how much public information the Olympic committee should be required to make public, council member Donna Blumer said she hoped she didn't see any headlines stating that the council voted for ignorance. Mayor Kirk said it seemed schizophrenic for the council to tell the committee to pursue the Olympics, then second-guess its moves. (In other words, if you're going to hand over the keys to your car to a friend, don't ask them where they're driving. If that makes sense to you, you've been in Dallas too long.) Then the mayor allowed that he would rather not see a headline calling the council schizophrenic.
Council favors ignorance? Council schizophrenic? Those don't sound like Morning News headlines. They sound like Buzz.
Could it be that Blumer, that even the mayor himself, reads us? They really, really read us? Our head turned. We started scrawling Ron, Ron, Ron in our notebook, the "o" a little heart shape.
But that's the danger with having easy access to a printing press. You think people read you. You confuse writing about with doing. Your noggin swells. Next thing you know, you're running for council and offering to clean the clock of anyone who disagrees with you.
Fortunately for Buzz's soul, there are several stumbling blocks to keep us where we belong, chiefly money, sanity, money, the fact that we're not registered to vote, and money.
Still, we do know to keep our chin low and our hands up, and to lead with our left...
Standards? What standards?
Of course, it's just vain supposition on our part that Kirk and Blumer were referring to Buzz. Not everyone has the discerning taste needed to read the Dallas Observer. Take, for example, DMN managing editor Stuart Wilk, who was quoted in this month's American Journalism Review in an article about New Times Inc., the Observer's owner.
"I look at it, but I don't read it religiously," Wilk told AJR, referring to the Observer. "Their reporting standards are such that I don't feel compelled to stay abreast of what they're reporting."
The story continues: "Asked to elaborate, Wilk says there was a time when he'd be able to cite examples. Now that the Observer's not on his radar screen, he can't."
Slander our reporting without citing examples to back it up? That's sounds like pretty poor standards, but we understand, Stu. You're a busy man. So, here are a few examples you can cite the next time someone asks:
There was the time that the Observer made a national ass of itself with a story on the Lewinksy affair based on eighth-hand informa...no wait, that wasn't us.
Wait, how about the time our publisher ordered a rewrite to slant a story about the Trinity Proj...oops, that wasn't us either.
OK, here's our favorite: The goofy story we swallowed about the guy who thought he found an archeologically valuable tombstone, but it turned out to be a roof tile. What? That was the News?
Gee, Stu, we're kind of at a loss about what you mean. But in the spirit of the holidays, we're willing to do whatever it takes to help. Here's an example you can cite:
Rumor has it that the only parts of the Observer that Wilk reads are the ads in the back, where he looks for good deals on latex-wear and nipple-piercing.
We just made that up, in violation of reporting standards everywhere. Feel free to pass it on, Stu...
--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams
Can Buzz's standards get any lower? Send your most scurrilous e-mail to [email protected] and find out.