Dallas, a Polka City in a Rock and Roll World

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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A couple weeks ago in my guise as Jim Schutze, really cool hipster (instead of crazy old man with gun), I wrote a post for DC9 At Night about Michael Seman, a research associate and doctoral candidate at University of North Texas' Center for Economic Development and Research, who is developing a theory linking rock and roll with the ultimate success or failure of cities.

Among those who commented on my post, some were doubters. Some said they'd have to see a whole lot more evidence before they were going to believe pop culture in general and rock in particular can be serious economic generators for a major metropolitan area.

I say the proof is now in, and I gladly rub it in your faces, damned doubters! I present to you -- ta-da! -- the entire last week in Austin.

South by Southwest now draws the kind of running team coverage from major media that one associates with events like the Davos World Economic Summit, the runway season in Paris, or ... the Super Bowl? Nah. We just had a Super Bowl here. It got nowhere near the attention SXSW did -- not even close!

If people used to associate us only with George Bush, now they might associate us with George Bush and Jerry Jones. I don't think this is moving in the right direction.

The New York Times published wall-to-wall stories about SXSW including one of the more curious accounts I think I have read about any event in a long time. It was a story about how people around the country were getting depressed by all the tweets they were receiving from Austin, because the tweets just reminded them how jealous they were about not being there themselves.

michaelseman.jpg
Michael Seman -- maybe you can build a city on rock and roll.
Be honest. Dallas would give it's eye teeth and also run over its mom with a tractor for one day --- one day! - of the kind of attention Austin just got for an entire week.

Folks, right now our big play for glitz, glamor and world-class cityhood -- in addition to George and Jerry -- is a faux suspension bridge dreamed up and promoted by a battalion of Park Cities dowagers.

Maybe we can have a big bridge festival every year in which ladies from the Park Cities come downtown and play bridge on the bridge. All the big bridge reporters will cover it.

Oh, I think I want to cry. Just ... cry. I can see that bridge from my office window. The more they build on it, the more it reminds me of cemetery art.

Only one thing can save us now. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Yeah. Dallas needs the big one. Regime change.

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97 comments
Nuancey Asseta
Nuancey Asseta

Big Bridge Fest.. hilarious! haha~ oh wow, yes... I need to understudy this guy. Two unique commodities, completely juxtaposed.. I've wanted to do a study like this forever.. !

3rd Wheel Marketing
3rd Wheel Marketing

I have put on a motorcycle/scooter rally every year for 5 years and you guys at the Observer are the only news outlet that ever covers it (And I do appreciate it).

TV News, fuhgetaboutit. If you do something that doesn't fit in the event checkboxes none of the local news know how to wrap their heads around it. Plus doing voiceovers for VNR's is simpler than actually being a reporter.

My point is, there's plenty of brilliant things happening in Dallas by the creative class. These types of events just gets zero news coverage, the city doesn't support them & a lot of the people putting them on really don't give a shit about anyone attending outside of their circle of friends.

Dan Brantley
Dan Brantley

What Austin has that Dallas never will, is 40,000+ students downtown at UT. And college students tend to spend money and party. I don't think the new UNT-Law School, when it opens in downtown Dallas, will turn the tide much.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

Exactly. Austin is cool fundamentally because of a large high-powered and well-respected university. And better scenery. Good luck with that, Dallas. UT at Dallas in Richardson is too small, and, well, it's in Richardson.

Jeannette
Jeannette

Dallas has way too many conservatives and too many social climbing wannabees.

dallasmay
dallasmay

The mistake you make is in thinking that Dallas is a stand alone city. It's not. If anything, the Texas T-Bone (DFW-Austin-Houston-SA) should be thought of as districts of a single city. That's how people treat them, and that's how our culture reacts to them.

Think about it this way.San Antonio is the Historical DistrictAustin is the Arts and Educational District (no slight to TAMU.)Houston is the Industrial DistrictDallas is the Business District.

That's not saying that aspects of each district aren't found in the others, but this is primarily what they are known for -much the same way a city planner would lay out the zoning in a city.

JimS
JimS

The problem with that is this: the one that is the arts and education and entertainment district will become the business district, because that is where thje Bobos will want to live. The era of the Organization man is kaput, along with his cul de sac.

Daniel
Daniel

That's true to some extent, but there's no shortage of bobos (also known as "the creative class"; in some cities, they’re disdainfully called “loft yuppies”) in Dallas. The difference is, they're actually making a living here, which, of course, makes them less cool by orders of magnitude. Austin does not have the kind of diverse economy that provides a wide and deep client base for creative professionals. It's a paradox, of course: Creative types can flourish better in Dallas because the town is largely dominated by suits.

The guy Seman makes valid (if rather less than trailblazing) points about the necessity of attracting the creative class. But the promise that the "new economy" would render where we live a consumer choice turned out to be mostly hollow. Austin doesn't have so many bobos as it does actual bohos. And their parents are tired of paying for their cell phones and car insurance.

busterkeaton
busterkeaton

Are you one of the so called creative class(loft yuppies)?

rain39
rain39

Too bad the impact of getting from one city to another requires psychotherapy from the impact of traffic trauma. Just imagine if we could just glide from one to another on safe, clear roads or trains.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Scott, SXSW was started 25 years ago by Louis Black, Nick Barbaro, Roland Swenson and the gang at the Austin Chronicle. I was there -- a freshman at UT. Been to every one. And it started small -- a few regional acts, a small hotel, a tiny roster of clubs.

scottindallas
scottindallas

OK, being the Dallas "Austin Chronicle" it sounds like this article should be used for internal criticism. Get it rolling, the Ticket would give you some free pub, 91.7 & KNON would plus any locally operated stations that played music that fit their playlist.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

What you just can't water color render or Photo shop these mega events into existence ?

dallasmay
dallasmay

Hey, don't complain. You passed up your chance to run for mayor, remember?

Hansome Lance Manion
Hansome Lance Manion

The problem is Dallas' own self esteem. Austin is Austin, Detroit is Detroit, New York is New York. It only contributes to Dallas' identity crisis when people want this city to "be more like Chicago," or Manhattan, or like any other city other than Dallas. Developers come in and try to "recreate" atmospheres like Times Square by building something like Victory Park. Jim, one could try manufacture our own SXSW here in Dallas but we are too smart and would see right through the facade and it would be a dud.. Why not start with things that Dallas already does well and making them bigger or expanding them into week long events. The Savor Dallas Wine Stroll was too crowded this weekend and the Savor Dallas event the next day was Huge. Why not make a week long wine, food, and.....music event. Grenville Avenue St Paddy's day could easily be turned into a 3-4 day long festival replete with local music. Deep Ellum could hold a music festival while the annual State Fair is buzzing with activity. I'm sure there other ideas. I'm Just tired of hearing how we need to be like other cities, rather that cultivating our own.

Jeannette
Jeannette

Awesome commentary. Savor Dallas could definitely be extended into 4 days and be an event to celebrate Texas Wines and Food. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said.

scottindallas
scottindallas

You don't know what SXSW is. This isn't any one venue, it's a coordinated agreement with a number of bars initially to the point that basically everyone is in. Bands only play for an hour, and they don't bogart the slots. SXSW isn't concentrated in any one part of town, and that would be a nightmare, btw. Did you try to go to St Pat's festivities? The traffic would destroy a SXSW format. In fact, 6th St. isn't all that busy during SXSW, most of the venues, bars that play live music aren't on 6th. I always took my bike and had my agenda set. See band A here, ride two miles across town to see band B, then roll down to Auditorium shores to see bands C & D then go somewhere else for the last show or two somewhere else.

It would better if the few bars that host bands did, all across town. When I was there in the mid 90's 20-30 venues had bands, generally the music was of a kind in each venue, but I think the bars either cede some control over scheduling or they coordinate with a central body. In Austin, I think the Chronicle, KUT and KGSR helped coordinate this initially and the Dallas Observer should consider trying something along these lines.

Anyway, I like much of what you wrote, and perhaps TX/OU weekend, or maybe some week, just before or after, coordinated with the State Fair might be a good weekend. Fall weather is sweet. TX OU would make sense to me, the DO could get bars to agree to share revenue from sales of $50 ( or whatever) passes for cover to all participating venues. You'd likely get additional ad revenue as publisher of the exclusive official guide to the shows. But, you have all these TX/OU jackoffs looking for something to do, it's already a big weekend, and this would offer the bars a way to announce they're open for the big weekend.

So, really, you and public/local radio need to pull this off.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Denton is better suited ultimately for this, I believe

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

@HLM - because the brand that is "Dallas" is not sellable outside the corporate weenies and bible beaters

yeah, O.K. dude
yeah, O.K. dude

hey, crazy old fart w/a gun, nobody's doubting sxsw's media coverage. however, let me/we doubters re-inform you w/regards to the UTTER FUCKING hyperbole that was/is 35's intrinsic and integrally vital importance to denton's economy. now, GET OFF OUR LAWN!!

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

There was that Guitar player from Oak Cliff that it seems had to pass on to the other side before he made it into the Rock Rotation in Dallas . Except for the clock song. which was being played every now and again.

Now everyone knows who is is and most claim to have gone to school with him..

Then again he did play the blues......

scottindallas
scottindallas

I remember getting an earful of at least 10 of his big hits here in the 80's on KZEW and the Q

mozey along
mozey along

Every review of every indie band ever -

*insert cutesy animal name of band here* will blow you away with their unique take on 60's garage rock/60's coffehouse folk.

*insert picture of band here with regulation salvation army clothes, beards and buddy holly glasses*

MattL1
MattL1

I assume then that your take on that particular show was different?

Montemalone
Montemalone

Rock n' roll is toooooo pedestrian for la Dallas.Remember the Dallas Gran Prix back in the 80s? We were gonna have worldwide coverage!

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

And guess which city is building a track for an American 2012 Formula One race?

http://www.formula1unitedstate...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I beleive that about as much as I believed that the US was starting a F1 team! they need to ground, 2012 will be here soon

scottindallas
scottindallas

I'll too lazy and incurious to click on your link, why not just tell us, Double O Joe?

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Austin TX will get the F1 Euro trash nirvana

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

The one that cultivated it's "Brand", into being a worldwide destination

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Until Dallas city manager Mary Suhm is gone, we will continue to repeat the same activity expecting a different outcome for a long time to come.I think that's called........

Jerome Weeks
Jerome Weeks

Jim:

For shame. Did you intend this entire post as an insult to Brave Combo?

JimS
JimS

yikes. unintentional.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

To be fair, Jerome, Carl and Co. are Denton-based.

Jerome Weeks
Jerome Weeks

Sigh. My point was Jim's quite clear insult to 'polka music' -- by labeling Dallas with it. If anyone's made polka cool, it's Carl Finch and Co.

Ed D.
Ed D.

True, but Dallas is more of a Rebecca Black city than anything like BC's brand of polka.

MattL1
MattL1

What's wrong with polka? I like polka. It's the only music that drunk white people can dance to properly.

In all seriousness, Austin has spent DECADES cultivating their image and growing their reputation as an artistic and cultural mecca. It's not something that happens in a month or a year. From what I've seen, there's quite a talent pool in the region and some good places to see them perform. A start would be for everyone who is aware of these things to invite someone who is not to a show or two.

Or we could just open up the world's first Polka Ultra-Lounge...

scottindallas
scottindallas

You have to consider that Austin is a beautiful town. That is thanks to geography and there's nothing we can do about that. Artists of means would rather live there or Santa Fe like all true Texans. Dallas is where people live who have to really work for a living, Austin is where we'd all consider moving, if we didn't have to work or family... You can swim in any of a few spring fed, crystal clear rivers, or a brown lake or chlorinated pool.

MattL1
MattL1

No argument here. Austin does have Dallas soundly beat on the natural beauty front. You can't teach that...

IQ
IQ

Major changes in leadership are needed. There's no doubt about that. Maybe this time around, we'll actually get some "leaders" for a change. Wouldn't that be a pleasant surprise!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

As someone already pointed out, this strategy did not work for Detriot. You know, Motown. Maybe the cost of living there will bottom out so low that people will finally move back, but if they've got further to fall before the rebound, I'm depressed about what the city infrastructure will look like at that point.Secondly, you get a free pass on your knowledge of NYT coverage because everything that happens in a corporate-controlled city like Dallas is written in liberal-proof ink (I had to have a conservative friend point it out to me), but they do write quite a bit about Dallas, and they did write about the Superbowl. Sure, lots of it was negative, but read about these big events that come into Austin in their local papers - they piss off the Austin-area Schutze's plenty. Also, last I checked, ESPN and ABC are media behemoths compared to the NYT and their coverage of the Superbowl blows the NYT features about SXSW out of the water. There's no reason to try and make a good point (Dallas should encourage the arts/music scene for types other than snotty Nasher/DMA crowd) by trying to use anecdotes/fact/etc that are just not true.

JimS
JimS

Anon: I wouldn't be too quick to write off Detroit. I'm not aware of anything Dallas has done in the arts, including our vaunted arts district, that has garnered the amount of international reknown that has gone to the Heidelberg Project in Detroit. http://www.heidelberg.org/

Anonymous
Anonymous

I'm not writing off Detroit musically-speaking. For better or worse, people care enough about Detroit to write about it in song. Even Eminem wrote about it in 8 Mile, even though he's from a white suburb. I was talking about writing off the economic viability.

Jay
Jay

Detroit didn't crash economically because of motown...and Schutze never said ONLY rock and Roll as if music or culture can be the only economic driver. Only that these things ARE drivers. And they are.

Guest
Guest

And Hell, they (Detroit) very quickly raised $50,000 to build a statue of a character from a movie that was shot in Dallas.

I don't know much about music, but I know a little about movies, and it seems like there's a collaborative "hey, let's lend a hand and put on a show" attitude that's more prevalent down there in Austin while we've got more of a "what's in this for me" kind of attitude going on.

Plus, we (as a city/metropolitan area) spend all sorts of time, effort and money to get some Hollywood TV show to shoot here for a few weeks but do very little that I've seen to support a lot of the homegrown stuff.

I assume there's a similar kind of thing happening with local music.

Or not.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I think the Austin Chronicle, KUT and KGSR sort of collaborated to get this going in coordination with the University. So, maybe Schutze should stop bitching, and start thinking what he can get coordinated. October is really nice time to be in Dallas, and that Barton Springs is a bit too chilly by then. We have the Fair going on, perhaps throwing something on or around TX/OU would be best. But, really, here when you point your finger, you literally have 3 others pointing back at you. After all, those TX/OU revelers are a rapt audience. Call ol' Jeannie Moscorro and get something going you ornery old cuss.

JimS
JimS

Thanks, Bill.

Anonymous
Anonymous

For what it's worth, your point is very valid. Dallas pitches itself as a "convenient" place to hold your event. We use selling points like these: 1) We've got a huge airport with (expensive) flights from everywhere; 2) We've got lots of (toll) roads so you can drive your rental car (that we've taxed as much as possible) everywhere you need to go; 3) what's that? you don't want to rent a car, oh, sorry, you sort of need one here unless you plan on being a hermit while you're in town or spending a fortune on cabs; 4) If you tell us that you will only hold your convention here with an attached hotel, we will build it by taxing your future convention attendees; and 5) We're in the middle of the country, so yea, we've got that going for us as well.Meanwhile, New York does far more convention business than Dallas, despite a convention center that is in the most inconvenient spot in Manhattan and no attached hotel (in fact, there are no clean hotels within walking distance). Their pitch is: we are New York. Austin's pitch is: you get to hold your event in Austin. Maybe Dallas doesn't ever need to be the city whose sales pitch is simply that we are who we are, but that's certainly what people who get elected in this town like to try and make us into. Maybe their better course of action would be to get out of the city promotion business and just let their citizens live, and just maybe some of them would do things that would make us worthy of anything besides relocating your company headquarters here to get out of paying taxes and to be able to pay your employees less. It's not like Austin or New York have people at City hall in charge of Awesomeness.

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