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I was very struck by segments on three different showgrams -- The Musers, The Hardline, and The Orphanage -- that the nation is not going to have a positive reaction to the City of Dallas when it visits for the Super Bowl.
There were various reasons given. One common theme was that downtown Dallas is nothing. It was pointed out that pockets of enjoyable nightlife and retail are few and isolated. In general, I got the impression from almost every host that they didn't think Dallas was much of a city, for all of its apparent belief that it's world class.
Even ESPN is making its home in Fort Worth.
I arrived in Dallas in 2004. I moved here because I love Mrs. Plainsman and Mrs. Plainsman's family is here and it's a great family and it was inevitable. So at an appropriate juncture, we found jobs in the area and made the move. We were living in a certifiably great city at the time, but I wasn't feeling too bad to leave it. I'd lived there a long time and had experienced what it had to offer and could always go back to visit. I had a vision of Dallas as vibrant, young, on the move, putting its money -- it has lots of money, doesn't it? I mean Dallas and oil and money, right? -- to good use with exciting urban projects.
When I got here, I was stunned. Compared to the other American cities I'd lived in (East Coast, West Coast, Midwest), Dallas wasn't even close to being in their league. And yes, a lot of it had to do with the wretched downtown, the decaying West End and Deep Ellum, the stark southern border and western borders that fall off instantly into poverty and junk, the incomparably ugly public buildings. As noted, more strip clubs per capita than most anyplace else. The view along many of our expressways is simply appalling. I came to understand that local government dominated by the city council was a joke -- no city so constituted ever gets much done, and it does, it's so corrupted and compromised that it's a disaster in the making. Dallas was a poster child for weak-mayor civic government.
And you know, even in its best parts -- it is really not an extremely attractive city.
Now, if I were a single guy with tons of free time on my hands to zoom from one island of reasonably cool stuff to another, I might feel differently. It's not that there isn't good stuff in Dallas, it's that its almost randomly scattered about the place. A couple of good museums. Dallas is a restaurant capital as well, among the most if not the most restaurants per capita of any city in the US. (In my judgment, many of the finest by reputation are overrated.) But what's good about the city is almost random -- you can find good museums, restaurants, night life, architecture anywhere you go, but Dallas doesn't convey an identifiable singular urban experience. It's entirely generic. What cities do convey that experience? Well, Fort Worth; San Antonio; Austin; and, I would argue, even Houston has a better brand than Dallas.
The city has many, many good people, and some gorgeous women.
But, and you must trust me on this, absolutely no more than elsewhere, and, like everything else about the place, and despite the evidence of that photograph, they're so scattered that even the pulchritude in this city is seriously diluted.
Ah . . . but Dallas has The Ticket. It is no surprise that in resident surveys on what is best about DFW, a little light-bulb of a guy-based radio station consistently ranks at or near the top of the charts. This is testimony to The Ticket's greatness, but it must also be counted as a serious rebuke to the city, that so many of its residents can't think of ten things better than a sports-talk station. I am not entirely sure what I would do without The Little One to elevate my Dallas experience.
In discussing Dallas with others, I am always fearful that I would come off like a snob, so I don't talk much about my disappointment with the joint. Which is why I was so startled to hear so many Ticket hosts believing that visitors were going to come away with a bad impression. Yeah, they will, but it amazed me that these long-time Dallas guys believed that.
What do you think, Confessors? Does Dallas have an inferiority complex? Does it deserve to be mentioned alongside the great cities of our country? Tell me what I need to do -- other than listen to The Ticket even more than I do now -- to get into the good things that Dallas has to offer, to learn to appreciate the place.
I can be educated.