We will never tire of journalists who frame career moves with a Hunter S. Thompson quote. After shifting over to American Airlines to oversee an in-house newspaper, Joe Pappalardo has joined Texas alt-weekly the Dallas Observer as editor. As he puts it, he would “rather fly with the pigs than wallow with the eagles.”
Pappalardo also tells D magazine’s Tim Rogers that the Observer will need to rumble over his dead body if it wants to try and abandon print. And, in the brief Q&A, he revisits the crazy way he started contributing in New York to Time magazine:
“I walked into Time magazine and offered my services as a freelancer. I met Howard Chua-Eoan, the news director, because we had a mutual friend. He said, “We don’t know when we’ll use you, but when something comes up, we’ll call.” That was the Thursday before 9/11.”
“I got there right as the second tower fell. There was this moment where I had to decide whether to put the notepad down and volunteer or just lurk on the sidelines and gawk. I had some first aid training, so they put me on a bleed team, which is exactly what it sounds like. And then I got back to the apartment, sat down, and wrote all of it out in time to file the story to Howard. That got me hipped on national defense and security reporting. That’s how I moved to D.C. and worked for National Defense magazine and got involved with Smithsonian Air & Space.”
A couple of recent Observer articles caught FishbowlNY’s eye. One is the paper’s coverage of “Indie Publisher Night” at local bookstore The Wild Detectives, a panel discussion that featured Kendall Storey of New York-based Archipelago Books. The other is a check-in with the Fort Worth fixture who helped inspired David Bowie to create Ziggy Stardust:
Norman Carl Odam didn’t know he inspired Bowie until he read about it in a story by Chet Flippo, the legendary journalist from Fort Worth, published by People magazine in 1984. “That was an honor,” says Odam. He was driving a taxi in Dallas at the time, but the article attracted enough attention for him to attempt a comeback by recording new music, performing live and moving to California. “I tried to get on MTV,” Odam says. He says he even approached the president of the network, but was told they never pay attention to anyone over 30.
The Observer, founded in 1980, is part of the Voice Media Group portfolio of alt-weeklies. Pappalardo, who joined the staff in November, also worked as senior editor at Popular Mechanics.