It was 20 years ago today, or thereabouts, that David Byrne shot True Stories in NorthPark Center.

The Mall: It's a Good Thing

NorthPark Center officially reopened Friday, with the kinda-sorta debut of the brand-new wing that houses, among other things, the retro-normous AMC NorthPark 15 and the just-slightly-better-than-the Galleria's food court. (Who knew the Soup Nazi had a franchise?) And though it's actually been open for weeks, thus dulling ever so slightly the glitzy ta-dah on Friday, it is an impressive overhaul of a venerable mall. The place looks like a tricked-out spaceship compared to the stark, cold NorthPark in which True Stories was filmed exactly 20 years ag0. It looks like the old NorthPark--damned if you can tell difference between the old bricks and the new ones; this thing looks like it was built in a time machine--yet it's brighter too, a friendlier version of the same ol' place.

But the best thing about NorthPark is what's outside the mall: the new CenterPark green space, just beneath the theater's wall of windows and patio. It sits upon the old ashphalt parking lot outside Banana Republic and Kenneth Cole. The garden spot is covered in green grass trying to take root, and ringed with a pebble pathway and long benches, each carved from a single tall tree. And the flowers sit along the sides like crowds in an arena--the thing is nothing if not carefully arranged and rigorously tended-to. For that matter, the security guard looks the same way: He's out there watching over Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's 1999 sculpture The Corridor Pin, Blue--or, as my 2-year-old calls it, "The Big Blue Pointy Thing You Can't Touch."

Speaking of, he also has some ideas for the space: It's the perfect place for a Friday-night concert or a "drive-in" movie night with the kids. Just don't clog it up with sculptures; really, isn't that what the inside of the mall's for (or, gee, the Nasher Sculpture Garden)? Keep it open and empty, so we can take the kids and hang out beneath the sunshine after a day of dropping small fortunes in your stores--in other words, so we can shop without feeling like we shoulda been at the playground.

It's the best part of the mall now--and what Dallas needs more of, wide-open(ish) green spaces in the midst of commercial and social traffic. Isn't something like this, on a larger scale, what forwardDallas! is all about? As my wife points out, who would have imagined in this town someone would tear down a parking lot and put up a garden?

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