During summers in high school and college, I worked as a gravedigger, longshoreman, pizza cook, roofer, and shipyard laborer. I thought that was a uniquely eclectic résumé—until I met Dan Solomon. A senior editor at Texas Monthly, Dan is a throwback to the days when journalists often skipped college. They learned their trade by practicing it and learned about the world by soaking up as many varied experiences as they could.
After his graduation from high school, Dan moved to McAllen, where he had relatives, and signed up for courses at what is today the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “I lasted about three weeks,” he says, before deciding that he could educate himself better and faster by reading widely and trying out different occupations.
He worked at a music store and in a T-shirt factory. He wrote for an alternative weekly paper. He managed punk bands. He penned poetry that he read aloud for tips in clubs and coffee shops. After moving to San Antonio, Dan clerked in a comic-book store—“my dream job at the time,” he recalls—and later brewed espressos at Starbucks. He helped a friend develop movie ideas. He became a paid guinea pig for pharmaceutical companies that wanted to test new drugs for side effects. “Worst I got,” he says, “was symptoms that felt like a cold.”
He and the woman he would marry, Dallas native Katherine Craft, moved to Chicago and then to London. But they were quickly drawn back to Texas, where Dan launched his journalism career, freelancing for such publications as the Onion’s A.V. Club, MTV, the Austin Chronicle, and Fast Company. His topics ranged from popular culture and sports to politics and business. He wrote fast. And he wrote often. “When you get paid $50 a post,” he recalls, “you have to do a lot of them to make a living.”
Dan began freelancing for Texas Monthly in 2013 and became one of our most prolific contributors. When I arrived, six years later, I was surprised that he wasn’t on staff, so we fixed that. Dan’s work became a model of what we seek to deliver on our website: timely stories, distinguished by fresh reporting and smart writing, that readers can’t find elsewhere.
Our beloved state produces truckloads of weirdness, and Dan has a keen eye for those stories and an entertaining way of telling them. Take his 2019 piece about the kangaroo that escaped from an exotic game ranch and was seen hopping around Wimberley. Or his recent reporting on a conspiracy-minded political candidate who spread lies about school cafeterias lowering their tables so kids who identify as “furries” (e.g., dogs or cats) could eat on their knees. A few weeks ago, Dan was distraught that his looming deadline on a politics story prevented him from telling the tale of a Texas woman who punched a six-foot shark in the nose. (Associate editor Rose Cahalan picked up the baton on that one.)
As that scheduling clash suggests, Dan’s interests span both the silly and the serious, and the latter category includes the persistence of sexual assault and harassment in sports. Writing for Texas Monthly in 2015, Dan and freelance writer Jessica Luther broke the story of Baylor University and its football team’s attempts to cover up a player’s rape of a female athlete, a case that then attracted national attention. In this issue of the magazine, Dan and Jessica, the coauthor of Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back, have paired up again to produce an investigative article about seven Texas gymnasts who have reported incidents of sexual abuse going back decades, all by the same coach. Those complaints have so far resulted in no action by the sport’s governing bodies or by law enforcement.
I hope you’ll read this important story and the rest of this issue of Texas Monthly.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “A Dan for All Seasons.” Subscribe today.