Oh, man, if there is one thing I really really hate to do, it's explain myself. But The Dallas Morning News devoted an entire page of its editorial section Sunday to a deconstruction of me. I don't think they understood what I meant. So that means I have to explain myself. And, like I said, I hate that. But here goes.
In the January 25 issue of the paper version of Unfair Park, I wrote a cover story called "Goodbye, Groovy East Dallas," in which I started off with the following grito: "I am frightened. East Dallas, once a funky, diverse refugee camp for people on the lam from the real Dallas and maybe real life, is now well on its way to becoming the one thing none of us ever wanted. A nice neighborhood."
I implied that niceness sucks, and I said, "In the old days we took pride in how crappy our part of town was. It took guts to live here. But that's all gone now."
I was sort of kidding.
The first thing that happens when the story comes out, I am verbally and spiritually assaulted by the youth-culture storm troopers who work at the Observer. They say it's patently absurd and a transparent fiction for an old coot like myself to try to pass himself off as having been some kind of hipster. I am so old, they say, I must have been born old, and if I was ever hip, it must have been before my multiple transplant operations.
Now Rod Dreher, a Morning News editorialisto and the author of a recent book on crunchy convicts (I may be a degree off on the details there), has devoted an entire page of the Morning News' "Points" section to a passionate deconstruction of my article. He takes me so seriously as a hipster, he thinks I may be a serious threat to civilization.
I like that.
In his article, Dreher uses a French phrase, Nostalgie de la boue, which he calls, "a sensibility given to romanticizing what is crude, lower, even degrading as somehow more authentic." Then he says, parlant a moi, "Fine, dude, let your freak flag fly. But I've got little patience for this sort of thing."
So now I should worry the youtharati at the Observer will come at me today with taunts and accusations because I'm passing myself off as a dude who has a freak flag, but, fortunately for me, the youtharati don't read daily newspapers.
Dreher argues that Yuppies are good for the city, the middle class makes the trains run on time, old hippies who whine about the loss of a more colorful past are boring, and Giuliani saved New York.
As the lawyers would say, I stipulate to all of the above.
Dreher also uses the term "Schutzism" once and "Schutzian" twice. How do I feel about that? Oh...(blushing)...sorta flattered. Dreher's a real smart guy, and I'm pleased that he takes me seriously.
Our Robert Wilonsky was on KTVT-Channel 11 two weeks ago very eloquently talking about what's wrong with recently announced plans to turn Deep Ellum into a wimped-out white-bread shopping mall of fake funk. Our Jonanna Widner has written about authenticity and sense of place, "some kernel of connection [that] just won't die, some shared primal thing about Texas that we refuse to let go of because we can't."
What kills everything, bleaches away the soul of the city and sends the children away behind pied pipers, is sterility. And Dallas has a huge sterility problem. Scrubby-scrubby-scrubby!
Dreher quotes from a column I wrote a long time ago as saying the city needs a solid middle class. I still believe that. His point seems to be that I have contradicted myself. I say consistency is the mind of small hobgoblins.
About this much I have never strayed: What we do not need is the kind of cleanliness, neatness, safety and security that reproduce the vibe of the gated communities to the north of us. Why? Look, Dreher is a very devoted parent, I can tell. He should know that boredom kills more kids than violence any day.
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Life wants an edge. There's a fine line between common sense and sensory deprivation. In those places, the kids all shoot up brown heroin and run away because it's so...
And now I am too. Because I've been explaining myself, which is so...arrghh!
I need to learn karate. Instead of writing about this stuff, I'm just going to go around hitting people. --Jim Schutze