As they say in my dad's old family romping grounds, well, "excusez moi!", but most truly great cities in the United States and beyond have little-to-no problem with "messy vitality" in terms of "organic growth"--as in an oak forest. One of the striking things about the ever-so-vain quest among Dallas real estate developers is their obsession with class and its riding partner, luxury. Every little thing, from the store next door, to the grand archways of, well, whatever, luxury, special, elite, express, lofty, etc, etc, are all little bits of vocabulary that seem to override absolutely everything else. Why is that?
Dallas seems to have a serious problem with simply not liking itself very much. Back in 1965, my dad, a postal data supervisor way ahead of the curve in the development of computerization as a solution to federal bureaucracy (today, that is a true "mission accomplished"), took me to Rudolph's, the almost ancient butcher shop and delicatessen in Deep Ellum, and as I struggled to keep my chin above the counter with a huge Reuben sandwich in my hands, he told me, "When you're in your Thirties, this area is going to be really big!" I looked at him as if he was out of his mind, and although indeed he was to a degree, I couldn't help but look at a warehouse wasteland and wonder, "What is he talking about?"
Fast forward to the mid-Eighties, right here under the nose of Nancy Reagan (we used to call her Nurse Nancy), and up sprang the then-called "music district of the Third Coast" and indeed, Deep Ellum was in some senses even bigger than Austin ever was. Then it drooped like a dying tulip when essentially-conservative landowners decided to so jack-up the rent that the organically-grown entertainment district's club and shop owners literally could not meet the "new rules" and had to close shop. In its place, well, nameless, faceless warehouses and "spaces" housing well-heeled urban professionals with about as much "cool" as Thurston Howell III and his wife "Lovey" from "Gilligan's Island", a Sixties-era 30-minute sit-com about a "three-hour tour" of tourists marooned on an island.
Sure. There is a lot of hub-bub about Uptown (in the late 1970s, a friend of mine's girlfriend excitedly told us as we rode in his Beetle down McKinney that "someday, this area is going to be...POSH!" as I silently responded, "whoop-de-doo"), and indeed, while Uptown is nice, complete with so many bars another Sixties-era 30-minute sit-com character, one Otis Campbell, the bumpkin-alkie of "The Andy Griffith Show" who simply checked-into to "his" jail cell at the end of a binge, most likely would enter the precincts of Uptown and never be seen again, another victim of black-and-white comedy done disappeared and gone.
Uptown is "nice"--lots of pretty people, plenty of people who have literally no idea of the greater world beyond, say, The Dish, and yup: enough "luxuriant" restaurants to supply badly-needed grease for the next 1,300 years. Indeed, I have been to Uptown. I yawned.
Back in the mid-1990s, I had a wonderfully mind-bending opportunity to work side-by-side with a REAL conservative--as opposed to the Great Texan Know-Nothing variety of herd mentalities--and having grown-up near Langley, Virginia, and having gone to school at The University of Virginia, he bluntly took me to the window that overlooks the wasteland of parking lots just beyond Plaza of the Americas and asked, "What is this stuff about?"
"Trying to pry the average Dallasite out of the car is like trying to get a dead mermaid out of a sardine can."
Quoth the real conservative: "You Marxists are really quite observant!" Then we both laughed at the joke and got-on with the daily conversation about politics. There is intelligence--and then there is fashion statement. The secret emperors of Dallas are all clothing. Nothing like a clothes horse, is there?