So, Dallas, Buzz Bissnger regrets what he said about you, and your schools, and your freeways, and your collective IQ, and more or less everything else that defines you as a city. Not what he said about that lousy book review. No take-backs on that. But everything else? Yeah, he's sorry. It's a problem, this Twitter thing. Something he should maybe quit.
Bissinger told me this late on Friday, a couple days after the Friday Night Lights author penned one of his signature Twitter meltdowns, eviscerating Dallas one 140-character sonnet at a time. The tirade was ostensibly his response to a harsh review of his new book in the Dallas Morning News, but it also was part of an ongoing series of theatrical Twitter performances that star Bissinger as an angry, blustering, unyielding asshole.
I suppose I get it. Even our best authors have to hustle their brand these days. But Bissinger is such a thoughtful writer, I was having a hard time believing that he didn't eventually regret these meltdowns. So Friday morning, I sent him an email:
I'm having trouble letting go of your Dallas rant. Love your writing, love your point of view on most things. ... But the Dallas stuff: Ugh. I know it's performance art, but it's just so patently dickish, even when it's grounded in truth. You do realize that the city didn't collectively write that shitty review, don't you? I feel like you think we were all standing over his shoulder, egging him on. "Selfish! Say Selfish! That will really piss him off!" That would be a highly inefficient way of writing a book review.
Anyway, I guess I wondered if, with some distance between you and your tirades, whether you ever feel lousy about them. And this one in particular.
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After a game of phone tag, we eventually talked on the phone. But he couldn't say it better than he already had in my voicemail. He left this message not long after I emailed:
I'm not sure what the takeaway is. My colleague Jim Schutze, who holds a PhD in Rantology, blames the immediacy and permanency of social media. Bluster that used to be reserved for the bar is now broadcast far and wide, he says, and it can't be taken back with a drunken hug at the end of the night or a hungover call in the morning.
There are no hugs on the internet, in other words. Funny, though: It sounds like it's Buzz who could use one.