Bum Rap

In 1989, after reading Texas Monthly’s annual Bum Steer Awards, Fort Worth resident Kevin Neal thought something was missing—namely, Fort Worth. Anxious to see his hometown razzed, the journalist started clipping stories from various periodicals, saving them “in a junk drawer,” and sending them to the Texas Monthly office; every year since, a handful of his submissions have made it into the pages of the magazine. “He understands what a Bum Steer is,” says executive editor Paul Burka. “They can’t be too complicated or have tragic consequences. They just shed a little light on the human condition.” In 1990 it was Neal who let us know about the Dallas Zoo’s “Wilds of Africa” exhibit, which featured replicas of elephant dung and ostrich droppings for visitors to touch. That year, he was also the one who pointed out that President George Bush had proposed June 19—the day Texas celebrates the freeing of the slaves—as Watermelon Feast Day (“Politicians are a good source,” Neal notes). His favorite Bum Steer was awarded in 1995 to two Texas Christian University students who stole 1,759 forks from a campus cafeteria to protest the quality of the food. “There are just so many strange and quirky people in Tarrant County,” he says. “There’s always good material.”

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