Welcome to Fun City U.S.A.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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We had a nice little chat here yesterday, didn't we, about South by Southwest in Austin and all the attention Austin got and all the attention Dallas didn't? I thought it sparked some really interesting comments about what is and isn't and ought to be in our fair city.

The best stuff was aimed at me, taking me to task for offering a bad syllogism: If Austin's cool, and if we want to be cool, then we have to be Austin. I didn't think I said that, but, eh, you never know: I get that big old gun in my hands, I just don't know what form of lunacy may come rolling off my lips.

A number of commenters suggested that the worst thing we can do here is keep comparing ourselves with other cities. I stand corrected, and I agree totally. The secret ingredient is not giving that much of a damn what other cities do.

The trick, though, is having the confidence to do your own thing. One commenter suggested that the St. Paddy's Day Parade on Greenville could be grown into a kind of indigenous music and film festival of sorts. I also thought of the fledgling Mardi Gras celebration in Bishop Arts. Other people nominated several small events that could be nurtured into bigger things.

But do you have any idea how hard it is to put on anything fun in this city? The first major hurdle you have to get over is the shake-down operation run by the police department: They won't give you an event permit until you agree to hire half the police force off-duty at a hefty hourly rate so they can come arrest all of your guests.

Then you have an even tougher barrier in the old culture of the city, which sees any inkling of fun, especially if it involves drinking, as the first slippery step on the muddy slide to hell. Oh my gosh, should a tipsy adult person try to urinate behind a bush in an alley, well, we need to sic Gaddafi on that bastard.

no fun guy.jpg
Meet Wilbur T. Dillmeir, City Hall's head of the Department of Fun Task Force.
In fact the first impulsive response of Dallas City Hall to any expression of fun or celebration, from community gardens to parades, is the crackdown. It's like, crackdown first, ask questions later.

We all know that Dallas has its own unique personality -- a cool personality. I remember driving back into East Dallas after a visit to Seattle, thinking, "Thank God, a little relief from the Bobos." We just have to figure out how to get it out from under the crackdowners and the no-funs. We need a way -- our own way.


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51 comments
Handsome Lance Manion
Handsome Lance Manion

There does seem to be an almost Libertarian attitude of the DPD on St. Paddy's day. As if it is the one day of the year where they look at things and say, "Hey, as long as you don't cause physical harm to other people or property or just blatantly break the law, we'll be cool." Which is needed in an event or festival atmosphere. We do need more days of this in the year so that the citizenry can feel that they can let off some steam without being cuffed and stuffed and the DPD may learn to trust that any Dallas crowd won't instantly form into an angry European Soccer mob. Dallas is kinda like a Librarian that can be one sexy bitch when it takes its glasses off and lets down its hair.

T-Bone
T-Bone

Someone really needs to fund a large scale music festival at Fair Park. We already have an awesome name for it, Texxas Jam, and plenty of venues between the Coliseum, Bandshell, Music Hall, Cotton Bowl and Starplex/Smirnoff/Gexa whatever it is called amphitheater. Unfortunately this city is too concerned with sports too make something like this happen.

scottindallas
scottindallas

why not keep the love with the bars, rather than a the Fair Park extorters.

T-Bone
T-Bone

I feel Dallas has tried to keep the love with the bars in the past. Remember Wake Up Dallas? The North Texas New Music Festival? Or, as someone already mentioned, Melodica. This things were all semi successful, but failed because after the first year local bars and local bands got greedy. As was pointed out, Dallas likes things to be big. This is why something spread throughout Fair Park might succeed.

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

I think the mistake here is the focus on BIG. Why does fun have to be big? Big is when the problems start. Big is when city hall takes notice and gets all crackdown-y.

What I love about Dallas is that there are TONS of -small- things to do. Every weekend, something is going on. EVERY night, someone is playing a show within driving distance. Deep Ellum is BACK, which tons of events, clubs, restaurants, and the monthly Deep Ellum Outdoor Market which is free, family and pet friendly, and the best event of it's type you're going to see for thousands of miles in any direction.

We have every kind of sport, at every level. We have galleries of every kind. We have TWO aquariums, a zoo, nature walks (complete with dinosaurs).

We have a thriving performing arts culture. Theater, ballet, orchestral music, etc. Heck, even our House of Blues is regularly rated the best club in America.

We have a thriving multi-national culture that presents events big and small from all over the world. They may not be easy to find unless you live near a Korean grocery or an Indian spice store, but they're out there.

So yeah. LOTS of small, to me, makes up for two or three 'bigs' and all the headaches they can bring. Let's commute down to Austin for SXSW, and just keep doing our own thing up here.

RJ
RJ

Jim you need to go to Halloween on Cedar Springs. Besides Dallas has one of the biggest 'fun' events in the world - the State Fair of Texas.

Joseph Steffen
Joseph Steffen

It's companies and promoters like www.FullAccessDallas.net that keep this town musically relevant. People come from all over to see these shows. Keep supporting live music. Become involved in culture as you see fit. Have a little bit of fun and don't be boring. It can grow organically.

Wilbur T. Dillmeir
Wilbur T. Dillmeir

move along, troublemaker

Joseph Steffen
Joseph Steffen

Point was only that a music scene exists, and need only to be cultivated a bit more.. The discussion stemmed from SXSW, no trouble intended but to point out that city hall could reach out to local promoters, maybe even make it a less of a pain for them to host big events. The previously mentioned company hosts events at Fair Park and the convention center, both spaces could be used more often if it were not for the miles of red tape and overhead created by city hall.

Schmidty Says
Schmidty Says

I write a blog about events in Dallas and I agree it's not for everyone. It's fast paced and hardcore no matter if you’re rubbing elbows with richy rich or moshing with the Gravediggers. The difference between Dallas and most other cities is the diversity. The reason a huge music festival probably wouldn't work here is everyone has their own scene. Austin is hippie music festival central; we definitely can’t compete with them in that arena. But that’s why I love Dallas it’s a melting pot of cultures, music, art and entertainment. I personally want to throw an event of my own soon featuring burlesque, live art, DJ’s and bands. Can anyone provide me with some event guidelines?

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

@schmidty. I am sorry, man, but that is completely ignorant.

1) "The difference between Dallas and most other cities is the diversity." Dallas is in no way diverse musically2) "everyone has their own scene." - NO! Hanging with the DB's in uptown vs. Henderson does not make it a different "scene"3) "Austin is hippie music festival central" I'm sorry - have you ever actually been to SXSW, or FunFunFun, or ACL or anything else down there? Calling Austin "hippie" makes you sound like an SMU freshman.4) "melting pot of cultures, music, art and entertainment." Having a few non-white areas for you to go try new kids of food in is not a "melting pot".

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Good lord, I should have looked at your website before I commented...LOL!

scottindallas
scottindallas

That's the beauty of SXSW, multiple venues allow for many different bands and styles. A simple festival doesn't allow for the diversity. Further, by including the bars, offering music that is representative of what they do already, they may get patrons in they really want, who will really connect. All the savvy concert-goers at SXSW had to spread open the Chronicle and figure out who they wanted to see. SXSW isn't about local bands, but foreign acts and bands from across the USA that seldom make it this way on tour. Think bigger, many venues, and it might become someways easier--as the booking persons at each bar would love the opportunity to spiff a special event. Another neat feature is getting wife swaps going on-stage, with surprising combinations.

Erich S
Erich S

everybody's always complaining about Dallas -- okay, we're not Austin -- but at least we ain't Corpus Christi or Abilene or Amarillo or Midland or Beaumont or Odessa or Lubbock or...

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

and hence the real "Brand" of Dallas. It's wayyyyy less shitty than the shittier places, much worse than the better places.

bobby
bobby

2nd the bullshit...Fort Worth (downtown) is fine to catch a show and something to eat...but I there is nothing about Fort Worth that screams "FUN". That is one dull ass town.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Forget the event ...Dallas Is about the Exclusive "After Party".

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Your right, Dallas is all about the event, the event that only they can get into and you the commoner cant

scottindallas
scottindallas

You are all wrong. A SXSW even needn't draw an inkling of support from the city till it's too late. What this requires, according to Wilonsky's missive yesterday is three people from the local weekly to get a number of bars on board to play a slate of bands and to share revenue on event passes.

The selection of bands probably needs to be a two way street with bars holding true to their natures. Dallas could distinguish itself from SXSW by allowing the bands to play for 2 hours--this would make getting a smaller number of bands an easier task. 16 bars could get this going. Having bars from across town would be better than a massive concentration in one place as that would mitigate great strains with traffic and parking. If the shows were concentrated in Oak Cliff, Uptown, West End and Greenville; those are all relatively close, where bicycles would be viable especially with DART. Hell, make Biking Dallas a theme, that would take away more need for police. Do it within a week of TX/OU weekend and you're guaranteed great weather and a captive audience looking for something to do. The frat douchers would have their own events, often bringing bands that would love another good gig.

An event like this needn't even reach the city's or police's radar for a few years. The only situation would be to host larger free concerts with big headliners. If we point to SXSW's example, the big public shows are something that were late in coming.

Handsome Lance Manion
Handsome Lance Manion

I like the idea of "NO CAR if possible Festival"...Utilize DART, and the trails.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Actually - SXSW is 95% walkable, with an Eastern and Western center of gravity (Red River and 7th, 4th and Colorado) that are less than 20 walking minutes apart. The only non-walkable venue is the Continental Club. The ONLY place where a fest like a mini-SXSW would work is Deep Ellum.

scottindallas
scottindallas

There are venues all along Guadalupe, on MoPac and through out the city. There are indeed centers of gravity, but it is not possible to get to all the shows on foot in less than 30 min.

Coleman
Coleman

Isn't that kinda what they did last year for the Dallas Observer Music Awards? Just make it a weekend-long event with more bands. TA-DA.

scottindallas
scottindallas

coordinating with multiple venues would be great as a primer for the DMO awards. Maybe have the wider, multi-bar lead up Fri Nite and Saturday then do the DMO on Sunday afternoon.

3rd Wheel Marketing
3rd Wheel Marketing

Wanz's Melodica in xpo park was pretty much as you just described only 4 venues & 70 bands. I wish he would do another one but the amount of work must have been staggering.

3rd Wheel Marketing
3rd Wheel Marketing

www.rockersvsmods.com

I'm going to use this opportunity to plug my event. Because the shit's free, we've got good beer (local beer –Rahr & Sons), Roller Derby Girls, A Band from fucking New Zealand (fer christ sakes), Cafe Bike Builders, Vic Fletchall (who won best in show at Amerivespa). 200 Ton Up, 59 Club, Piston Broke, Memphis Mummies members from 18 states all bringing the nicest rides they can muster.

You just very succinctly stated all the bullshit we go through to put on this event, so I think I earned a shameless plug. Besides, I hammer the hell out of you guys every year and this is just 1 more opportunity!

Just Annie
Just Annie

I've tried Rahr & Sons Buffalo Butt beer and found it aptly named. Do they have a brew that doesn't taste like wet furry a**? ;-)

Coleman
Coleman

to be fair, to Rahr & Sons, Iron Thistle is really good, same with the Whiskey Warmer. But then again, those are also seasonals, soo.....

scottindallas
scottindallas

When is that? That would be cool to expand that through out the Downtown area, encourage people to bring their bikes, if they don't have motorized 2 wheel transport. And, congrats

3rd Wheel Marketing
3rd Wheel Marketing

What? Not motorized? You some kind of commie? Check out the web site it'll 'spain.

scottindallas
scottindallas

If'n you don't have motorized transport, getting other two wheelers in on it would be a small concession. Then you can look down on their non-mechanically driven transport.

hey petey!
hey petey!

this IS the bible buckle, IS it not? o.k. then.. maybe you could help me w/something. no, not w/your gun. should'nt you be writing one of your "real" articles, y'know, turning over stones left unturned etc. etc.. well, maybe you've got more time on your hands these days, eh mr. rooney?? anyhoo... wait for it... ...now, GET OFF OUR LAWN!!!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

People come to Dallas for the deads, and Ft worth for the fun

Coleman
Coleman

oh bullshit, Ft. Worth is a hovel.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I believe you have your cities confused, Dallas is much more hovel than ft worth. what? you thought your big word would fly over all our heads

Coleman
Coleman

No, you Negative Nancy. I mean Ft. Worth, outside of the police state that the Bass Brothers set up downtown, is a run-down shifty shithole. Yes, downtown Dallas kinda blows. boo-hoo. We still have better bars, music venues, transportation options, parks and neighborhoods.

Jgreenan
Jgreenan

JS, I think Dallas already shows off its personality in what it does, it's just that it doesn't turn out to be that much fun for most of us.

We're not sophisticated like New York or San Francisco; we're not intellectual like Boston; we're not California cool like LA; not outdoorsy like Seattle or Portland, not even cutting edge like Austin.

Dallas is ostentatious. Biggest stadium; biggest hair; biggest bridges for the least water; most Art Palaces by fancy architects, etc. and so on.

We just need to look at all that crap and enjoy it. Because it's big. If you change your mindset we've got it all here.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Dear JGreenan. Get out of my brain, you are listening to my thoughts

Jay
Jay

I like to say the city that must shine. Regardless of the utility or actual enjoyment to be had from all the tiny trinkets. Thank your lucky stars and kiss the boots of the wealthy god-like entrpreneurs and developers who gifted our downtown with isolated fortresses that make you feel like a fool for taking a walk, and for an arts district that may as well be an industrial wasteland with pretty factories 90% of its lifetime. It's Dallas.

LaceyB
LaceyB

Have you been to LA in the last decade? Nothing "cool" about it. "Green" is far more apropos: no smoking, all driving, and everything costs twice as much.

You got Dallas down, I think. But, why are we a "drinking city" (per a friend of mine), that is so constipated when it comes to giving out drinks?

Amy S
Amy S

But yes, the alcohol issue is problematic. Dallas was the headquarters for the Texas Anti-Saloon League in the early 1900's through the end of prohibition, maybe it's part of our history unlike other Texas cities?

I was at the TABC offices today questioning the ability to conduct off-premise events, and was told the rules regarding did not change with the recent vote. The agent said it's because Dallas didn't vote itself wet, it only voted itself modified wet, so in essence it is still dry. But with the correct permit, you can be wet. See how schizophrenic this all seems?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Fun City USA huh? We have one of those here, we call it Arlington

Amy S
Amy S

I headed the HS homecoming parade committee for three years, and the police never once asked for payment for their assistance in helping with this annual neighborhood event. Neither has the fire department, who always kicks the parade off with an engine drive-by.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

JS, I'm not sure if you mean to indict St. Patrick's with your description of the City response to parties, but if so, you're waaaayyyy off base. The City and the Police have done a very nice job in helping to preserve the fun of that event while making it safe. And they haven't done it by taking all the profit out of it for the operators.

And BTW:

http://www.statesman.com/news/...

Guest
Guest

No, he's not way off base. The city continually ups the number of required off duty cops/security personnel each year (and their hourly pay) in order to grant permits and the parade organizers have to pay for that. That's a HUGE expense. And not all of the parade operators come out "in the black."

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Well, that's awfully strange. Why would they tell me the exact opposite when I talk to them at the planning meetings?

Guest
Guest

Who do you think pays for the off duty cops? They don't do it out of the kindness of their hearts. I'm not saying the city intentionally makes it difficult for organizers. But it is a requirement they put in place that increases yearly. And it is a HUGE expense to incur that definitely affects the bottom line.

Will
Will

"In the black" sounds like a racial slur. Better hire some of JWP's friends as $200k/yr "consultants" to make amends!

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