Every week, managing editor Patrick Williams disappears into his office and reemerges a cranky, anti-depressant-gobbling, third-person-referring superhero we like to call Buzz.
At last, Buzz has begun to share some of the emotion driving the city's 50th anniversary celebration of the Kennedy assassination. (Official motto: "Yep, still dead.")
Sadness. Anger. Crushed dreams.
Thanks to ginormous security preparations for the 50th events planned for Friday, it'll be virtually impossible for us to drive from our office to the downtown Omni on Thursday, the only day of the week our fave food truck dishes out some really fine barbecue sandwiches there. This makes us very sad. Thank you, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Mob, Castro, LBJ, whomever. We really look forward to those sammies, you bastard dream-crushers.
Yeah, that's crass and silly, but at least it's an honest emotion, which is more than we've been able to glean from all those tiresome essays flooding the media about Dallas' wounded, guilt-ridden psyche 50 years after what apparently is the only day that matters in the city's history. We read this crap and ask, "Who? Who are all these souls still bearing the burden of The Fateful Day?" Buzz has lived in Dallas 17 years, and not one person we know walks around ready to burst into tears if you say the words "City of Hate." And do you know anyone who, given the slightest choice, would willingly drive downtown Friday? Aren't most of us just so bored with it by now?
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Please, Lord, spare us from one more writer blowing wise in some East Coast mag about Dallas' long battle to reconcile its complicity in JFK's death. Here's a news flash for those writers: Treating this city as some sort of anthropomorphized character in the Kennedy drama demeans both the city and Kennedy. We appreciate the fact that it's near the holidays and the media loves nice round numbers like 50 and it's so easy to fill pages with archival photos and reminiscences instead of, say, news. But give it rest.
Mayor Mike Rawlings says he doesn't want the city's ceremony to be about the voyeurism of a murder, which is a good call, seeing how that's not the paying proposition it once was. But the truth is that bloody voyeurism has always been at the heart of Dallas' relationship with the assassination. When Buzz first arrived here, there was a guy offering tours of the motorcade route in an open-air limo just like the one JFK was in when he was shot. You could ride past the School Book Depository and make pretend gunshot sounds. Kew-pow! And there were more guys selling conspiracy newsletters and gruesome photos on the plaza. Their psyches weren't damaged. They were trying to make a buck from tourists stuck downtown.
That's a little tacky, maybe, but it's better than the pious smarminess being ginned up today by a bunch of nostalgia-ridden old boomers who view their generation's place in history as worthy of an Icelandic saga. (Camelot? Oh shut up.) Listen, guys, we know. You remember exactly where you were when you heard Kennedy was shot. You were in school, probably. It was November and you were 11. Assuming nothing in your life in the intervening five decades had any impact at all, we can see how that still haunts you. Our suggestion: Be like Dallas -- the real Dallas, the city that clips along, burying its past as quick as you can say "next new thing."
Look to the future! Like when the sandwiches return next Thurs ... no, wait. That's Thanksgiving. Goddamn history.