Get Offa Our Cloud

Imagine this: A local purveyor of Serious Journalism begins publishing ads of a sexually and commercially suspect nature, offering "private shows" and "private pleasures" and featuring photos of women with provocative "hey, sailor" grins.

And it's not us. Well, it's not just us. It's The Dallas Morning News, too.

Shocked, we are just shocked.

"I am having a hard time expressing the shock and indignation I felt upon opening the sports section in today's Dallas Morning News [June 6]. I did not believe that I would live to see the day that prostitutes were allowed to openly advertise in the daily paper," penned one irate letter writer to the Morning News.

Buzz hasn't seen that letter published in the DMN, but we received a copy anyway, because it came from the guy at the Dallas Observer in charge of selling similar ads for this paper. He was kidding. The imp.

At least, we think he was kidding. The ads continue to run in the daily, so it could be we're going to have a major pimp fight on our hands. Stay on your block, Morning News, or we may just have to whup on you with our pimp stick. (That's a disciplinary device made up of bundled straightened wire coat hangers, or so we learned from watching HBO--Hookers, Boxing and Other--which relies on prostitution for programming as heavily as The History Channel does World War II.)

Now, some of you may not see the humor in the prospect of prostitution being promoted in print anywhere. Many of our own staff feel the same way, while others take a laissez-faire attitude--or laissez les bon temps rouler. (Buzz's opinion: Better we should sell ads to prostitutes than prostitute ourselves to our advertisers.)

Of course, since Buzz has never tried any of the services advertised, being happily married and with a joint bank account, it may well be that no naughtiness is being promoted in any of the city's Serious Journalism products. In fact, when the Observer once published a news story quoting a man who said he had hired a hooker from an Observer ad, we soon had an ad sales rep in our office insisting that the paper does not knowingly sell ads to prostitutes. She said that with a straight face. We're looking forward to seeing what sort of face the Morning News wears when it says the same thing.

Like minds: In international news: A popular tabloid in Beijing last week apologized for mistakenly picking up a story from The Onion, America's finest news source at, about threats by Congress to relocate the Capitol from Washington unless a fancy new one, with a retractable dome and luxury boxes, was built. The Beijing Evening News apparently didn't realize that The Onion is a satirical publication. The story was a joke, but you could understand how a repressive nation unfamiliar with press and political freedom might not fully grasp the concept of satire.

We mention this apropos of nothing, really. Oh, and while we're cleaning up odds and ends, the Observer is currently asking a Texas appeals court to reconsider a decision denying this paper summary judgment in a libel suit involving a satiric story criticizing a judge's true-life decision to jail a 13-year-old boy who wrote a graphic Halloween horror story for a school assignment in the Denton County community of Ponder ("Stop the Madness," November 11, 1999). The appeals judges apparently didn't appreciate the joke. If you're interested in the case, it's styled "The People's Republic of Denton County vs. The Dallas Observer." Really. You can look it up.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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