Ever run into a person from New York City? Certainly you haven't run into anyone from New York City, but rather someone who, after leaving their farming village or mid-level, mundane existence in some random suburb across the United States who read a romance novel or pseudo-intellectual novel or watched a cinema film of questionable value and decided hey, New York City is the place to be!Because Sinatra sang about it (dude, he sang about everywhere), then it must be A-OK!
So they pack their bags and run up there and maybe five years later, they infest some other city in a more civilized portion of America and say ridiculous things like "I'm still not used to the pace here after living in New York" or or lament the lines into the nightclubs are too short. Or refer to Manhattan as THE CITY and expect everyone to know what they are talking about.
With the exception of the horrible events that took place against America on September 11, 2001 a.d., I love it when bad things happen to New Yorkers. Traffic on I-95, muggings, massive blackouts, the Yankees losing in the playoffs ... these things give me a perverted sense of glee and it honestly is not because of some geopolitical or socioeconomic or historic facet, but rather because of New Yorkers or former New Yorkers or even wannabe New Yorkers. Seriously, after Hurricane Katrina, the country was blessed with a cultured populace who, at their very best, infused their new community with wonderful cuisine and music, but winter brings that class of people from up north who contribute nothing but complaints about the dearth of Chinese food being served at four in the morning.
No, it is not the city that I hate, but rather the people.
Some will jump to defend the arrogant populace, claiming that New York has such great theatre. Really? Those plays aren't reproduced across the country in smaller, more friendly confines? How many of those playwrights are actually from the city? I've seen better plays from writers in Dublin, Brazil, other places... No, you don't get that one.
I actually like Saturday Night Live when it's good, but those players are trained in Chicago's Second City.
The crossword puzzle from The New York Times trumps all other crossword puzzles, but the great Will Shortz is from Indiana and Indiana-proud, so they don't even get that.
You see, with the prolificacy of the Internet, we are no longer reliant on Hollywood or New York City for great works. Film can easily be made, showcased, and distributed without selling out to the Great Western Casting Couch, sucking up to sycophants and braving earthquakes. Theatre and literature can actually exist outside of the five boroughs, without having to deal with the nation's largest taxi queue. Some folks are realizing this, but it is hardly a movement. No, the only thing clinging our art so desperately to these two outmoded cities are the limited mindset of the Perfectly Average.
So hail the land of your birth, or re-birth, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. To have an inferiority complex because you aren't exactly like thirty million other douchebags is just plain ridiculous. There is no need to go packing your bags to run off to The City because of outmoded societal goals. Thanks to brilliant writers like William Gay, Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell and yes, even Faulkner, the South is again beautiful and mysterious and crooked. So why on earth would we need New York?
So with that, I hail a city that, in a steel cage match, would bludgeon the shit out of the City that Never Shuts Up. If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere...
Inspired by the stylings of Jimmie Rodgers, "the Blue Yodeler," Autry celebrates one of Big D's greatest institutions. Known as "The Dallas Hotel" by locals, the imposing structure looms large just South of downtown in the psyche of everyone crossing the river for liquor. It doesn't rate highly on its own Yelp page, but don't let that sway you from enjoying its amenities next time you are in town. True to the nickname, it allegedly was once a working hotel, but contrary to urban myth, not the one where the Beatles stayed during their 1964 tour. That was the Cabana Motor Hotel which, coincidentally enough, is now a minimum security jail.
There is no other song that sums up my experience growing up in Dallas or, more appropriately, South of Dallas. If you've ever driven a Plymouth Turismo, perhaps you understand. In the succession of shitty cars I drove as I crossed the landscape of Lancaster, Duncanville, Wilmer-Hutchins, Ennis and environs, Cedar Hill, and yes, even DeSoto, I spent many days with my car (or my friend's cars - think: shitty VW bug with a skull painted on the hood) on the side of the road. This was before cell phones, when a person had to walk to the nearest payphone. In Texas heat. No, people are pussies now, plain and simple.
Travel the world over and Dallas is known for three things: JR Ewing and Southfork, The Dallas Cowboys, and JFK. On November 22, 1963, Dallas secured its spot for assassination buffs, conspiracy theorists, and rubberneckers galore, cementing words like "magic bullet," "grassy knoll," and "second shooter" into our nation's vocabulary. Previous to 9.11, no other event generated memories from a generation as to "where they were" and for every person in Dallas, there are as many theories as to what happened that day.
"That dirty, dirty river" created the city of Dallas, as John Neely Bryan believed people would travel the river from the coast, making Big D a hotbed of activity. This was not to be. Today, the river remains a developmental dream, resting on a levee of promises. Driving over 45 with the windows down results in a carload of passengers eyeing each other suspiciously. During droughts, corpses surface, as the Trinity is a popular body dump. The river's lowlands once gave birth to a notorious class of criminal in the West Dallas bottomlands from which sprung forth such names as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Without the Trinity, there is no Dallas, despite her valiant attempts to forget her and push her aside. For once they are done with her, they no doubt will make another one.
Dallas has more bars and restaurants per capita than any other city in America. That includes THE CITY (you know which one I'm talking about). And the bars ... Wander into any bar (I recommend, after my latest visit home: Cosmo's, Singlewide, Old Crow if Germaine is working, and Lakewood Landing) and you will see just how appropriate this song is. A true lyrical genius, a poet, and probably never saw the confines of New York, bless her heart.
The Flatlanders offer an unusual view of the city -- "from a DC-9 at night," but their metaphors for the city are priceless and spot-on. The Perfectly Average armed without imagination love to portray New York as cutthroat and ruthless, but I double-dog dare them to step into Dallas with their big talk and attend school.
Further proof that pride exists in some. Believe it or not, there are baseball players out there who would turn down pinstripes if the Yankees threw their weight (i.e.Cliff Lee), and there are artists out there who don't need no nonsense. We'd all be in a world of pain had Jim Heath cashed in his chips and headed North, but he stayed true to his roots and, to this day, can be seen frequenting Lakewood restaurants for an early dinner when he's not touring the South with his psychobilly trio. One of the greatest draws when we came home from college during Christmas holidays was heading up to Trees to catch his annual shows, an awesome holiday tradition! Rumor has it, the band travels incognito through East Dallas dives as a low-key swing band, adding to their mystique of cool. And despite more than four decades in the biz, they rock just as hard as they did when they were kids! I nominate the Reverend as the heir apparent to Willie's throne...
Speak of the devil. "Who Do I Know in Dallas" is the perfect booty-call song for a man on the road, showing Willie as one of the original collectors of "hos with different area codes." However, there are no videos online of the song, so I included instead "Dallas," which despite a bit of pandering, gives a shout-out to some of the lesser-known neighborhoods around town that "swing like a blonde with a millionaire."
The velvet-throated Lightnin Hopkins describes a city once known for racing and gambling and, to a man from East Central Texas country towns, represent a mecca of activity and promise. Much like the Perfectly Average view New York City now, folks from the cotton fields and farms near what is now Crockett viewed Dallas as a hotbed of sin and opportunity. While racing is less prevalent these days in Dallas, like most blues songs, seeing one's pony run could stand as a euphemism for nearly anything and, in Dallas, could probably even happen.
Many folks have recorded this song - from Jerry Lee Lewis to Andy Hall to the Biscuit Rollers, to name a few. The streets of Main, Commerce and Elm in Dallas traditionally were an industrial area which housed blacks to work factories and offered segregated living. Famed for its black nightlife, folks came from far and wide to record music, making Dallas a Nashville for the blues. The list of who recorded in Deep Ellum is littered with Who's Who of influential music. Robert Johnson recorded most of his 41 songs there. Bessie Smith, Lightnin Hopkins... when Lead Belly toured Texas, he met a fella named Blind Lemon Jefferson and they regularly stopped at the clubs in Deep Ellum as they toured Texas together. (Anyone remember the logo of the now-defunct club named after Jefferson? Coolest image ever.) Through the 80s and 90s, the neighborhood became the center of the punk and new-wave movement, and it wasn't uncommon to see a society woman posing for vacation pictures with a skinhead. Today, it's a vibrant neighborhood filled with restaurants, bars, and shops that cultivates artists and free-thinkers, as well as the best hamburger in America at The Angry Dog.
Much better than any hamburger you will find in THE CITY!!!