Sometimes a retail store is more social institution than Mecca of mammon. In the case of Dallas, there exists a causal relationship: the more mammon in the Mecca, the greater the social institution. Here retail provides ballast for the community in the most abstract ways, by giving it a sense of identity through its consumerist aplomb. Flowing generously from Neiman Marcus on Main Street downtown, that pillar of the community, is a flamboyant culture of fashion, art and high-price value that Dallasites know to be their own. North of downtown there's that other beacon of society, Ray Nasher's NorthPark Center. Talk about one-stop shopping. Once a humble 97-acre cotton field on the outskirts of town, NorthPark is a civic center today where shopping takes on a sense of public pride--a lesson in artistic rumination and cultural Bildung, or what the Germans know to be "personal development." With its gamut of artful offerings, NorthPark collapses all distinction between high and low culture, giving it something of a perverse cutting-edge effect. Little did you realize how truly avant-garde you could be, that perusing a sculpture by Jonathan Borofksy, Henry Moore or Frank Stella while sipping on a frothy Starbucks and holding a Foley's bag was an act of transgression almost on par with the Happenings and performance... More >>>