Ralph Isenberg, Fresh Off His Nice Morning News Profile, Really Wants to Sodomize Me

isenberg.jpg
Mark Graham
Ralph Isenberg's security team is totally DTF.
So Ralph Isenberg threatened to fuck me in my ass the other day.

Well, that's not the first thing he did. Before that, he shook my hand and told me his name was Ralph Isenberg. And before that, I drove approximately nine minutes to his office in Oak Cliff to talk to him.

I'm new to the paper and new in town, just three weeks removed from the East Coast. I thought it would be mutually beneficial if I found an immigrant who was fighting ICE deportation. Editors eat that shit up, right?

Schutze kindly suggested that I speak to Isenberg, since he runs a successful legal clinic that aids deportees. We would be a fortuitous pairing, Isenberg and I, since he works closely, both figuratively and literally, to activist Reverend Peter Johnson, my only source in town.

Before heading to Isenberg's office, Schutze left me with a little parting knowledge: We sorta called Isenberg's wife a hooker. Like, several times. It's a long, complicated saga, but basically the gist is: He married a Chinese woman who had been busted for prostitution.

I thought little of it. The story was published a year before I graduated high school and six years before I first learned of the Observer's existence. And, I reasoned, Reverend Johnson's introduction alone would vouch.

I walked into Johnson's office minutes after reading Isenberg's glowing write-up in Saturday's Dallas Morning News. After briefly meeting with Johnson, he walked me to Isenberg's office right down the hall, introduced us and left us to our business.

Upon Johnson's exit, I thought it best to cut to the chase. Perhaps Isenberg would tip me off to a case he's working on that would make a great story in our paper.

Standing up and walking around his desk, he asked what I thought of his Morning News profile. I told him I thought it was nice.

He picked up a copy of the story off his coffee table and read to me a sentence that glazed over his relationship with his second wife and family:

Then, he married a Chinese immigrant with her own deportation drama, adopted her daughter, and together they have a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old.
Isenberg asked me what I thought of that. I was noncommittal. He pointed out that the Morning News had elected not to call his wife a prostitute in the sentence. I conceded that upon a second read, the detail did not escape me. He told me that the next person who called his wife a whore would get fucked up. I told him I understood. He told me he didn't think I did. I did understand, but I told him maybe I didn't.

He placed the glowing write-up down and paced back to his chair behind his desk, upon which he had draped a leather jacket honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I initially thought it an interesting, noble jacket, if unattractive. Later, I thought it poetic.

He reiterated his parental résumé. I offered my congratulations.

Lifting a photo of a stunning young lady, he asked me what his adopted daughter, a student at SMU, would think if she read about her mother's legal troubles in the Dallas Observer. I opined that she probably wouldn't like it.

He then showed me a picture of his son. Isenberg asked me what his son would think if he read about his mother in the Observer. The question was purely hypothetical, and having answered this question before, I told him I understood what I believed to be his point. He told me I didn't understand. I did understand, but I told him maybe I didn't.

He did the same with his daughter. I conceded that it would definitely be a negative experience for anyone to read about their mother performing sexual acts in exchange for money.

Isenberg said that he didn't want anyone to call his wife a prostitute. I was silent. He was red.

Then, for reasons that remain unclear, he told me that he would summon some of his security guards, who would henceforth pin me to his desk while he, Isenberg, fucked me in my ass and made me his prostitute. Or he would be my prostitute, he reasoned, fairly. His wife, though, would not be the prostitute. That seemed to be the underlying point.

He rounded his desk one more time. I eyed his sizable -- though, given his age, reasonable -- gut. He told me he was kicking me out, and that he owned the building. I wondered whether that was true, but since my knowledge of Dallas real estate is, at this point, negligible, I didn't comment. Plus, I reasoned, he would probably summon some of his security guards, a move that, if his description was accurate, would precipitate pain, humiliation and, presumably, a diaper.

He told me the location of his office door: There. I told him I knew where it was. He told me that when I left, I should go back to New York and never come back to Texas. I spoke over my shoulder, telling him I am actually from D.C.

Maryland, I thought to myself. I'm from Maryland.

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73 comments
Heels
Heels

100% of the ads in the Observer are for this exact service.  Maybe he was trying to place an ad?

John
John

I think that Schutze thought it would be funny to punk the new guy. The observers version of being "jumped In" . New guy gets a story on imagration = good deal.  New guy gets gets Gang Banged in the goat ass  by dallas big shot who was dumb enough to marry a whore = pulitzer.

Oh my
Oh my

The guy in the pic is Isenberg?  Or, could it be  Norm Hitzges?  Separated at birth.

ts
ts like.author.displayName 1 Like

It appears hazing isn't just limited to frats.  

scottindallas
scottindallas

Think about the moral high-ground and buzz you would hold if you'd concealed the sensitive fact that he wanted concealed.  Then, he'd have no defenders for his threats.  Hell, you could have written about the threats, even writing the very same piece you wrote (which has it's merits, save my one substantial compliant)   You're writing for a blog.  Perhaps some commentor would have dropped the dime on the "sensitive issue" without tarnishing yourself or unfair park. 

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

Ah, Scott, so now you think the media should "conceal" the facts and truth to make their own high ground and buzz more compelling?

Good lord what a hypocritical stance you take on this issue.

Fonebone Potrzebie
Fonebone Potrzebie

Alright, break it up... Scott's right. He's also wrong.

A presumably innocent young reporter was invited to do a story and was threatened with sexual violence (likely not an actual threat, but a powerful symbol to get his point across) if the reporter intended to repeat the fact that the subject;s wife had once been arrested for prostitution. There is no evidence that the young reporter had any intention of repeating it, however, which makes the subject appear to be paranoid, hostile, and someone who can't let go of a long-expired grudge. The subject is, obviously, kind of a dickwad.

But the young reporter, having no doubt felt a certain amount of fear coupled with a sense of rage at being mistreated for something he never had anything to do with, strikes back with his own weapon- words. 

The subject's misplaced tantrum directly caused the young reporter to do what he was wrongly suspected of intending to do all along.

No one is entirely innocent here, but its hard for me to feel that Isensteinenberg isn't a little more guilty than Jimmy Olsen.

Paul
Paul

So, Greg, the real lesson you learned from all this was...

Right! Good man, just so: what the Dallas Morning News tells you is a good thing can lead you directly to an imminent ass-fucking.

holman
holman

Welcome to Dallas.  

Fonebone Potrzebie
Fonebone Potrzebie like.author.displayName 1 Like

Its psychologically illuminating, no?, that a man who claims to be powerful enough to have you butt-raped would choose to do it himself. Perhaps he only kicked you out of the office because you didn't play along with his "threat" and give him the excuse to cornhole you that he was hoping for.

Can't Wait
Can't Wait

Isenberg is a weird old dude and from reports about his mental status that have been leaking out for some time - he has one fat foot on the edge of the precipice and the other on a banana peel. 

JimS
JimS

Greg, I just feel awful about this. I had no idea Ralph would go off on you like that. I want to find some way to make it up to you. I have another source I would be happy to share, sort of a local financial and market guru who could get you going on some great stuff.I will ship you all his contact info Monday. Best way to do this guy is catch him at home alone at night when he's in his bedtime togs, feeling relaxed. His name is John Wiley Price. Just ring his door, tell him you're from the Observer and you want him to spill his guts about equities.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Jim, you shouldn't make such light of this.  If you did send this young reporter into this ambush, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED.  This IS A REALLY NASTY, UNFUNNY PRANK.  Sadly, the real victim will be the wife and kids, who've tried to leave what appears to be a life as a real victim, and you've rehashed it all, and published your findings.  I don't like hagiographies, nor do I like ad hominem attacks.  You've lost your sense of decency, a horribly petty act Jim.  You have fallen in my mind, and I don't think as well of you.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

By the way Greg there is a very tasty nocturnal bird native to the Trinity called a snipe.  Since it is illegal to discharge a firearm within the city limits of Dallas a hunter has to use a burlap bag to catch them. The best method to flush them out of the weeds is to take two branches and bang them together while making a "whoop whoop" sound.

I'm sure Jim and Robert would love to take you hunting some evening.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

And while you're at it, pick up a left-handed smoke-shifter and 50 feet of shoreline. 

TimCov
TimCov

Don't forget the chem-light batteries, prop wash, and grid squares.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Jesus H Christ Jim, this is dirty pool to the extreme. You're lucky you don't do D C cuz I bet the boy has some contacts up there that're worse than anything you'll find in Big D. I understand hazing and jurnos but this is something that only you buds at the Park City Bridge Club would get off on.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

This journalist congratulates you on an outstanding piece of work. Mr. Isenberg is Oak Cliff's village idiot, a poster boy for the "we're hip and cool and  liberal" crowd over there.

In fact, anyone who has a brain -- and has been around the block more than once -- quickly recognizes this troll as a silly, sad old man with a deranged mind who considers himself far more important than anyone else does.

Congratulations on showing him that the truth fears no one. Too bad it took -- as usual -- someone from OUTSIDE the good ol' boy world of Oak Cliff (and Dallas for that matter) to put him in his place.

I cannot wait to read everything you write. You got it going on.

scottindallas
scottindallas

If Mr Ike has an over inflated ego, why give him any attention at all?  Great way to make a totally counterproductive point.

Doug in DFW
Doug in DFW

Can we get a Venn diagram of Oak Cliff good ol' boys and the hip and liberal crowd?I always thought the 2012 poster boy for Oak Cliff would be a blogger who's actually been on a poster & posts about posting up in a pickup basketball game. Get back to us once you spot Isenberg biking to the Kessler.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

Venn diagram would be difficult since definition of hip, cool and liberal over in Oak Cliff shifts on a time continuum parallel to who is leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Depending on who is leading the pack at the time, Isenberg will either take a bike, in-line skates or rickshaw to the Kessler.

Imagepimp
Imagepimp

As one of those "hip, cool and liberal" good ol' boys that lives in Oak Cliff, all I can say is: Wow Gimmeagreak, I thought that Isengerg sounded like a pompous douchebag.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

As someone said to me a year or so ago -- Ralph Isenberg is Oak Cliff's homage to Icky Twerp.

DallasWatcher
DallasWatcher

Isenberg is a creep -- a creepy creep.  He met his wife in a massage parlor.  She was not a medical therapist.   She did creepy stuff to strangers, including creepy Isenberg -- until he stopped being a stranger -- but not before he stopped being creepy -- because that has not happened.

Sorry the Observer sent this kid to Oak Cliff  to talk to Isenberg in person. 

privateeyes
privateeyes

Funny. Your username is, DallasWatcher, and you think, this guy, is creepy??? Please stop leering at me....weirdo.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Dale Carnegie would not be happy with Mr. Isenberg.

Georgia Fisher
Georgia Fisher

Hi Greg. I write for Oak Cliff People, a sister pub of D Magazine, and had a near-freaking-identical experience with Isenberg a few months ago. He broached the subject of his wife, then went off the deep end — screaming, shaking, calling me a bitch, threatening me legally, telling me my career was all but ruined ... you get it. 

He was enraged and out of sorts to a degree that could've easily beget physical violence. I don't say this for dramatic effect, either; It was just obvious, and made me feel sorrier than ever for his wife. 

All the while, Isenberg left a couple of immigrants to sit near the receptionist's desk, quietly waiting on him for 45 minutes (they'd made an appointment), and finally tried — still howling and sweating and panting — to drag them into our one-sided fight. Anyway. Over the course of the next few days, he blew me up with text messages, trying to coax me into a trip back to the Bank Tower (though he'd supposedly "alerted security to never allow [me] on the premises again") and take a second stab at the story — the same one, more or less, that the News printed this past Saturday. And finally, after sending about eight text unanswered text messages, he gave me a line about having problems with his "medication."

Nice, huh? 

P.S. I promise the rest of us are pretty friendly in Dallas, and am so sorry this was one of your intro experiences. Welcome — and good luck :)

Jd
Jd

There is a good movie script in this Isenberg saga.

Siskel and EggBurnt
Siskel and EggBurnt like.author.displayName 1 Like

Umm, I'm thinking probably not. Unless you take an interest in the remarkably unremarkable.

Montemalone
Montemalone

The Isenberg Saga.

Does that have anything to do with Clint Eastwood climbing a mountain?

dt&ot
dt&ot

I liked that movie.  George Kennedy playing George Kennedy like in airport movies etc.  Maybe I-berg could play more like the cussing GK role.

For the record...
For the record...

You're on a roll today, Montemalone, perhaps after a rolled one? But you're giving away our age with the reference to what was probably Clint's worst movie.

Jd
Jd

Its more like the Thompson Twins

lies lies lies yeah (they're gonna get you)lies lies lies yeah (they won't forget you)lies lies lies yeah (they're gonna get you)lies lies lies yeah

Malcolm H
Malcolm H

Greg, its your brother lol love the article.  You showed your gift at writing as well as your lack of tolerance for being intimidated, or threatened. And rather than cuss him out or get rowdy, you chose to fight back with words, which is what any good writer does. Don't let this guy get to you just because he is self-conscious about his wife's loyalty and career choice (though from the rage he showed I'm sure she puts in overtime).  Show 'em how Maryland does it best.

Sa
Sa

I'll bet they never mentioned this in J school...

Montemalone
Montemalone

Nobody ever offered to fuck me when I moved here. What's your secret? Aramis?

Sa
Sa

Probably Axe.  Seriously, that's a better offer than I've had for never mind how many years.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

I never got any fuck offers either.  Those guys from Maryland have all the luck.  Great story.

LaceyB
LaceyB

Great story, Greg!! Welcome to the big O!

But that diaper part, yikes! The true giving ladies (and some men) who've "been there, done that" for their men know that once you get past the ring, it's actually kinda...off the menu, but worth an order now and then.

I don't doubt that Isenberg's hooker wife has tried it. Maybe not with him. Probably with many men. Some whilst in a diaper, knowing what's out there.

keithplocek
keithplocek

Wait, so Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s face is printed on the leather jacket? I'm confused.

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

You fell for Schutze's old "go interview Isenberg" gag? That's priceless.

Seriously, the first line in this piece should be inserted in the header of every future column.

Nicely done, Mr. Howard!

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Greg, always, always, always, roll tape. Come on man!!!

Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

Funny.  In no way did you call his wife a prostitute.  That would have "opened" you up to more trouble.

scottindallas
scottindallas

This article is really a dick move.  Greg, I think you've mortally wounded your journalism career.   The charge of a journalist is to some degree to report the truth about the powerful, not to afflict and label the already afflicted.  You really don't get it.  None of the dragons that slay democracy were harmed in your story, just the family of a man who seems to be committed to help those who fear for their very existence.  This is a real class act. 

Guest
Guest

It's fair game for journalists to publish stories about a threatened anal rape.  Obviously Isenberg is a prick who likes to intimidate people.  He also happens to be a good person who helps people.  Very nice commentary about the duality of man. 

scottindallas
scottindallas

I like your closing point.  However, I don't think rape was actually threatened.  The threat he made was hypothetical, a lawyer is careful enough to do that, and the story seems to affirm that.  That does mitigate the "threat" substantially, and, the vindictive tone reflected even in the editorial decision to publish this article where he repeats the gratuitous and incendiary point.  Again, it's troubling Isenberg reacted so excessively, but, I can understand his point.  To relish this article, the tone of this article and the decision to publish it are all totally juvenile.  Grow up, and reflect on the golden rule. 

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

No you are the flawed guy, Scott, because you lump all powerful people into the category of those who deserve to be afflicted, and mistaknely assume no afflicted person could possibly have brought their affliction onto themselves.

Your world of stereotypes is very neat and tidy for YOU, perhaps, but the rest of us know people and situations are much more complex and nuanced than that. We can't and dont want to live in your macho Rick Perry it is black or white world.

If the Dallas Observer reported that Isenberg's wife was "a prostitute" and gave no additional insight into how or why, then that was shallow reporting. But if they reported -- as I understand to be the case -- that she was "arrested for prostitution" and that is indeed a fact, then the reader is at fault if they choose to leap to the added connotation she is a bad, bad person.

Same as it is YOUR fault for leaping to the prejudiced conclusion that everyone with power is corrupt and should be afflicted. And I dont feel I have much power at all in the world, but I really dont need you to condescendingly paint me as some afflicted victim, thank you very much.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I think you miss the question of when was his wife arrested for prostitution?  He rescues women who are ensnared in human trafficking rings.  Many of these women are forced into prostitution.  Was she forced into prostitution?  Or was it something she did off a drunken dare playing "truth or dare?"  The difference matters to me.  And, if she was such a victim, and, it's not far fetched to imagine she was, then it strikes me as gratuitous and viscous to repeatedly rub everyone's face in her past victim-hood. 

Afflict the powerful and comfort the afflicted is the principle I take in gossipping.  If you can't understand that logic, you are flawed guy.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

You don't need to threaten to bring your guards in to "hypothetically" rape somebody. He may not have intended to rape the author but he did intend to bully and intimidate him, I don't see any reason for the author to go light on him.

Well written and entertaining story.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

You are completely missing the point, scottindallas. I think most of us "got" that Isenberg did not literally intend to rape the writer. That is beside the point.

The point is the guy's wife was booked on prostitution. Dallas Observer published that fact as the media in any free country has the right to do. But this guy who claims to be the bastion of American ideals and liberty gets mad at The Dallas Observer for exercising ITS American rights, to the point of jerking the chain of this guy who had absolutely nothing to do with that whatsoever. 

Isenberg never had to agree to the interview in the first place. He didnt have to ask the reporter to come into his office when he arrived at the building. This was a planned ambush, pure and simple.

Yet somehow you find The Dallas Observer to be the one who is totally juvenile here.

Amazing logic string there, dude.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak

You are completely missing the point, scottindallas. I think most of us "got" that Isenberg did not literally intend to rape the writer. That is beside the point.

The point is the guy's wife was booked on prostitution. Dallas Observer published that fact as the media in any free country has the right to do. But this guy who claims to be the bastion of American ideals and liberty gets mad at The Dallas Observer for exercising ITS American rights, to the point of jerking the chain of this guy who had absolutely nothing to do with that whatsoever. 

Isenberg never had to agree to the interview in the first place. He didnt have to ask the reporter to come into his office when he arrived at the building. This was a planned ambush, pure and simple.

Yet somehow you find The Dallas Observer to be the one who is totally juvenile here.

Amazing logic string there, dude.

Steven
Steven

Dude didn't have to let Greg in.  He chose to grind his axe on the new guy who had nothing to do with the original article and now there's a fresh link to it and people are reading all about his wife's past again.

barrygoldwater'spetrock
barrygoldwater'spetrock

Grind his axe? Is that some type of "new" sex thing? I must be out of the loop!

LaceyB
LaceyB

woman leans all weight on right elbow with legs over her head while the guy does a pushup maneuver over her. Page 732 of the Kama Sutra. Duh.

Jakenotindallasthankgod
Jakenotindallasthankgod

Mortally wounded! Oh my!

Fuck that noise. This is great, and any editor out there who reads this is gonna perk up because this is a startlingly young kid who can write better than a lot of 20 year vets.

scottindallas
scottindallas

most editors care enough about advertising and their paper's reputation more than this.  His actual writing is fine, and clear, but his wisdom AND THAT OF SHUTZE ARE WANTING.

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