Keep Dallas Excessive: Myth, Reality and the Profession of Leisure

I know you are tired of the year-end lists, the resolutions. The time for wishing is over, and the time for doing has begun.

By now you have probably been forwarded or seen some of the observant commentary on The Paris Review's recent piece, "Dallas, Part 1: From Afar," by Edward McPherson. It's a lovely meditation on why Dallas is and how it came to be, and thoughtfully connects our city's truths with Dallas the TV show's fictions, linking our real-life mythologies with our fantastic ones.

But the thing about mythology, I suppose, is it starts with some grain of truth. A year, a crime, a tragedy and the way it plays into our real-life identity, personality and legacy are entirely up to us, and out of any individual's control. Joseph Campbell taught me long ago that myths "... are public dreams, and dreams are private myths," so it makes sense that Dallas' two most popular legends, an assassination and a soap opera, have become so specifically involved in the Dallas personality and so easily adapted by everyday people, new year, after new year. Even a nightmare is a dream we must deal with.

"The business of Dallas has always been business," McPherson writes. Don't we know it; I have made a profession of leisure, even. And this attitude seems at the base of the excess we know so well in Dallas. I am personally wooed by the glamour, but the two values go hand in hand. Austin can have their weird. Keep Dallas excessive.

Fresh off the heels of a New Year's Eve celebration, surrounded by men in bowties and women wrapped like presents, I now sit and wonder what it means to accept this motto, because I do. Go big or go home, or something? If we can't have the pleasure of an ocean and a mountain at least give me a Texas sunset and an open bar?

The days can be long in this town we have willed into existence, and the beauty is mostly man-made, but it isn't any less beautiful. As I launch into another year of being overserved with you, I am thrilled that Mr. McPherson reminded me of the saying, "Texas is all right for men and dogs, but hell on women and horses," because it means if we can make a little glamour here, we can make it anywhere. And hell? We can take it.

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