DALLAS – It’s been many years since this city has been so harshly
rebuked by a prominent outsider. (Of course, once the nation labels you the “City of Hate,’’ you hold the title for a while. It’s been almost 49 years, not that we’re counting.)
But the Twitter bombs from Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger, who was in Texas on a book tour this week, were scorchers.
“ To reiterate: I would like to apologize to city of Dallas for intemperate remarks,’’ he tweeted late Wednesday. “ I wasn't nearly forceful enough in my disdain.’’
Bissinger was set off by a critical review of his new book, Father’s Day.
Alex Lemon, a writer and assistant professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, wrote the review for The Dallas Morning News. In it, Lemon suggested readers buy their father a tie than a copy of the book, which focuses on Bissinger’s conflicted feelings about his developmentally disabled son.
Lemon also wrote that “…no book has left me with such a sour impression of its author. Bissinger’s Father’s Day is full of moments that made me cringe at a father’s selfishness.’’
Hence, the Twitter rant from Bissinger. A sampling of the printable parts:
“Qualifications of Dallas Morning reviewer Alex Lemon. Teaches writing at Texas Christian University. I once against rest my [expletive deleted] case.’’
“Based on book tour, if Dallas slid into sinkhole, nation’s IQ would rise by 50 points.”
In an exchange with Lemon on Twitter, Bissinger said the review was “vindictive.’’ In another tweet, he called Dallas “worthless.”
And when a reader suggested that maybe Bissinger was upset because he didn’t have a large following in Dallas, the writer tweeted: “Why did my product not induce an audience in Dallas? Because you have to know
more than half the alphabet to read.”
Bissinger had a far better experience in other Texas cities this week, according to Texas Monthly, but Dallas still got some zings.
“Ft. Worth on the other hand has soul and funk and much better barbecue. Only interesting thing in Dallas is seeing who has the highest hair.’’
At one point, Bissinger indicated that what really set him off about Lemon’s review was the intimation that he was a bad parent.
"I am deeply flawed. But I have never been SELFISH WITH MY son. Misguided intentions. Of course. Like every parent."
And later, of the book: “I swear. It is good. And you will find me flawed because I am honest. But you will not find me selfish.”
Still, that didn’t stop the broadsides: “Okay. Have been unfair to Dallas. Anybody who is boring, dim-witted, no sense of humor and brain-dead must live somewhere.”
“Look, I am sure Dallas is a nice town if you have lived there all your life, never been anywhere else, don't have passport or photo ID.”
“Never seen an easier mark than Dallas. More defensive and insecure
After more Twitter exchanges with followers, Bissinger tweeted: “BTW, before anyone from Dallas makes another unintelligible tweet, please learn the difference in usage between "your" and "you're."
In a reference to the West Texas town he immortalized in Friday Night Lights, the bestseller that spawned a movie and successful TV show, Bissinger tweeted: Dallas makes Odessa look like [expletive deleted] Oxford (for those from Dallas who don't know what Oxford is, it is a university in England).
Even the city’s alt-weekly, the Dallas Observer, which routinely needles The News and the city’s image-makers, had enough of Bissinger.
“Brutal honesty is only funny when it's wrapped snugly in a blanket of actual comedy, and Bissinger's just not that skilled a humorist,’’ Joe Tone wrote on the Observer’s blog. “Smart dude, big thinker, great writer… But he's just not that funny.’’
Lori Stahl is a Dallas journalist who covers politics and culture in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LoriStahl.