Dallas, Where Dumb Ideas Have Thrived

A friend of mine on the FaceSpace posted this, and I overthought my response when I should have just written a blog.

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I’ve been thinking about this too, and of myriad reasons, I’m drawn to two: 1) Old South politics (see Colin Woodard’s American Nations for clarification) doesn’t exactly understand democracy. Nor does the local population, 6% of whom participate in municipal elections. Dallas just isn’t very experienced in the democratic process, which entails research, transparency, debate, and compromise.

American Nations by Colin Woodard

2) Being home to advertising firms such as the Richards Group, Dallas responds well to marketing. Even our mayor is an accomplished marketer. We’re really good at crafting a story of the region that inflates our pride. Conversely, the stories that require a nuanced understanding of culture, history, and economics are much more difficult to craft and require longer range thinking, which are not particularly strengths of marketing and advertising. So it’s easy to sell the people who advocate the Humann Plan and the Trinity Toll Road because they’re so susceptible to a good story. Ultimately, these well crafted stories built on shaky facts are supported by a fragile and insecure few, who are able to withstand the the voices of hundreds.

The Dallas Myth by Harvey J Graff

The irony of Dallas is that while we’re so good at crafting a story about ourselves, we don’t have a solid foundation that defines our identity. Dallas has always leaned on its business class for leadership and direction, and after the Kennedy assassination in 1963, Dallas did as it always did, when we really needed leadership from cultural and spiritual communities. As such, we swept our problems under the rug and allowed JR Ewing and the Dallas Cowboys to define this city (Prof. Graff’s Dallas Myth provides a great treatment of this story. Find it at your local library!).

Moving forward, we’re currently seeing a new life and dimension to the history, events, and personalities that define Dallas, which those hundreds of voices Nathaniel refers to have taken on. Still, we haven’t really developed a comprehensive vocabulary for discussing these changes, but it’s just something that you can feel happening. Right now.


How to do the State Fair of Texas

After many years of practice, I’ve figured out the State Fair. Consider this a resource to get the most pleasure out of this month long, yearly event. Further suggestions are welcome in the comments below!
1) Purchase season pass
2) BIKE to Fair Park. Exercise is important and parking sucks. Even DART is too much.
3) Eat 1 or 2, but no more than 3, fried things. One should be new and weird, and one should be a classic (Fletchers and fried pecan pie, obviously)
4) Get cheap and decent beer at the food court in the Tower Building only if you’re trying to impress friends because fried stuff and beer shouldn’t be mixed together often this far into your 30’s.
5) Must see butter sculpture. And the crafts are kinda cool anyways.
6) Leave immediately. Over 2 hours at the Fair makes you start to hate it. And you limit your spending.
7) Come back to see animals. And that big old pig! Fried pecan pie is nearby. Plan accordingly.
8) Come back to half off rides on Tuesday. It makes a huge difference.
9) Boycott Fair Day. Not only is the odor of children is terrible, but the history of that day incredibly offensive.
10) The car buildings are your friend. They have AC and lots of in-car seating.

11) The Fair ceases to exist on TX/OU day and becomes the ninth circle of hell. Even the fabled “empty lines during the game” is a fate not worth tempting.

12) Opening Day is surprisingly not busy. Watch the pomp and circumstance and get your annual fletchers corn dog in early.