In the Northern Suburbs, Visiting a Deracinated World of Tomorrow

Categories: Schutze

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So dear to my heart, so very dear is my anti-suburban bias, born of the political battles of yesteryear, back when we actually believed white people could fly. Ah, those were the days, were they not? Good was good, evil was evil, and the city limits lay between.

Now it's so perplexing. Last night we had a great late dinner at an Indian restaurant up in the north suburban realm. I venture up there fairly often. I almost always come back to the inner city perplexed.

While we ate, an Indian engagement party was taking place in the back of the place. The proprietor, who was Indian, stopped by our table to chat and mentioned he was having trouble keeping up with some of the strange customs of foreigners like the ones in the engagement party.

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2012: A Suburban Odyssey
Turns out they were from a part of India far from his own. They did things like order desert as the first course of dinner instead of the last. You know: the suburbs north of us have become so diverse, they give whole new meaning to the word.

Everybody in the place last night was from somewhere far away, not necessarily India. I saw families and groups who may have been Korean, maybe Chinese, possibly Southeast Asian. Whenever I go north, I catch glimpses of the same thing -- a gang of middle school kids buying Slurpies at a convenience store, looking like their parents are probably from everywhere in the world. But they are all, for better or for worse, all-American teenagers.

Here's the thing. Back in my world, I just spent the last couple weeks watching a drama unfold in City Hall that was a word-for-word re-play of the 1980s council fights between white council members and the two black firebrands on the council, Al Lipscomb and Diane Ragsdale. I'm talking about the fight over municipal court reform.

In her speeches asserting that the reform was racist, I swear council member Vonciel Hill was actually channeling Ragsdale. And for maybe 30 seconds, I would like to deviate from the question of whether those assertions had any merit. Let's put that to the side for only a moment.

What strikes me whenever I travel outside the city is that, no matter where we may stand on our own ancient divisions in the city, a whole universe out there is simply moving past it and beyond. Tons of people in that realm are not from Goa, Lagos or Abdijan but from South Dallas and West Dallas, among the thousands of families moving up and moving out.

The whole vibe is different. People know each other less well, and that seems to be a good thing: I just don't feel the centuries-old shoulder-heavy burden of grievance and bigotry. The sheer newness of the place seems to be an animating oxygen. Everyone is deracinated from tradition and apparently better off for it.

Sometimes I get the feeling the whole region operates like a huge distillery and we in the old city are what is left in the bottom of the tank, a residue. We're Rip Van Winkle before he woke up, wandering an antique dreamscape unaware of what's real and what's not.
I can't go up there into the 'burbs for long. I get the bends. I need the city. I guess that means I need the past. Well, maybe not THE past but A past -- something, anything to tell me I'm not just tumbling in space. Too bad the past has to be so unpleasant.

My own theory is that the suburbs of Dallas are probably globally important, because they are so much more perfectly featureless and generic than anyone else's suburbs. The region between here and Fort Worth is where man will learn to escape not just his place of origin but all place - place itself. It is where mankind will learn to be at home without a home, tumbling in space and liking it, at ease in the post-geographic era.

I like it up there for brief visits, long enough for a great Indian dinner. Any more than that, I need a space suit.

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54 comments
Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

It's generational, not geographical. My inner-city kids and their inner-city friends are a diverse bunch who just don't give a damn about the stupid biases of many of their elders.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

If you want a real shock to your preconceived notions about diversity in the burbs, attend a high school graduation and enjoy reading the surnames in the program,    

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

All that a city will ever allow you is an angle on it—an oblique, indirect sample of what it contains, or what passes through it; a point of view.  Peter Conrad (b. 1948), Australian critic, author. Independent on Sunday (London, 11 March 1990), said of New York.

 

Randy
Randy

I was ready to troll this comments section with something racist but this article is just too cool and too true.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

The irony for me is that this article was a paean, a song of praise for the suburbs. But here they go again, all thin-skinned and defensive about it. 1,000 years from now their descendants will all be foaming at the mouth with pinwheel eyes screaming about how much better the reading scores are on their new space station than on the old space station and what losers those scumbags are back on the old one.  It may not be how the west was won, but it could be why.

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Once again, I have no dog in one of your hunts, but I sympathize with your dilemma. On one hand we have all that crusty, edgy, diverse humanity, and on the other hand we have a relatively greater level of safety and comfort. Try this option, Mr. Schutze. Swap your hybrid for a Harley, move to the country, and hang out at biker bars on the weekend. Best of both worlds, and you don't have to sell your soul to survive.

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

Every week I go looking for great conversations to reverse publish in our newspaper, which I acknowledge is a hilariously anachronistic pursuit. This week it seems easier. You guys are bringing the heat. 

J_A_
J_A_ topcommenter

Let me get this straight. The suburbs continue to lack character because minorities have found a way to blend in with the white folk? And that's just a little bit too progressive for you because you don't know who you're suppose to feel sorry for? Jim, you're slackin' with this blog post.

Amazona
Amazona

Visit the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson on week day.  Very different from when I was in college in North Texas. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

And here we find the hidden pitfall of progressive activism.  What do you do when there's nothing to progressively activate for or against? Jim's problem with the suburb in question is not that there isn't racism there, for it is everywhere.  Jim's problem is that race relations in that area have progressed farther than Jim has.  The diversity in Richardson, Garland, Addison and other northern suburbs are not the result of some GrowSouthPlano scheme to empower minorities, but only within their specified area.  No this diversity sprang from immigrants working their asses off and saving money and sacrificing so their kids could have a better opportunity.  They took the 'Hand Up' that America offers everyone, so they don't need the 'Hand Out' that Jim's 60's throwback progressive liberalism so desperately needs them to.  So Jim is reduced to arrogantly declaring that HIS neighborhood is so much more vibrant, has so much more character than the bland ol' burbs.  The racial stagnation in Dallas, itself not having progressed much since the 60's may just be the real reason Jim stays on here.  It gives him meaning, purpose, something that makes him still relevant.

Gurdonark
Gurdonark

@Dallas_Observer Mr. Schutze may have nostalgia for replays of tired cliches but most folks, including we in the northern suburbs, move on.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

It's the new century Jim.

 

People aren't segregated by race anymore, people are segregated by wealth.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

I used to like this town. . . . Dallas was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but good-hearted and peaceful. . . . Now . . . we’ve got the big money, the sharpshooters, the percentage workers, the fast dollar boys, the hoodlums out of New York and Chicago and Detroit—and Cleveland. We’ve got the flash restaurants and night clubs they run, and the hotels and apartment houses they own, and the grifters and con men and female bandits that live in them. The luxury trades, the pansy decorators, the Lesbian dress designers, all the riff-raff of a big hardboiled city with no more personality than a paper cup. - Redacted from Philip Marlowe, in The Little Sister, ch. 26 (1949) . Raymond Chandler (1888–1959), U.S. author.

 

Prejudices are useless. Call Dallas any dirty name you like—Six Suburbs in Search of a City, Paradise with a Lobotomy, anything—but the fact remains that you are already living in it before you get there. - Redacted - Clive James (b. 1939), Australian writer, critic. Flying Visits, “Postcard from Los Angeles 1” (1984; first published in Observer, London, 16 June 1979).

 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

I would be entirely uninterested in watching Vonciel Hill eating cheese.  She's no Diane Ragsdale.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Until DISD gets fixed, Dallas City is just a way station for most people. Immigrants with children stay until they get enough money to move to a suburb. Hipsters without children stay until they get children when suddenly the bland and boring suburbs with good schools start looking pretty good. You can forget about that wave of empty nesters moving to the city. The big enlightening we have seen is yes they want walkable and downscale, but are finding it in bona fide small towns, not exurbs, not too far from urban areas. Yes we have pockets of stability in Preston Hollow and Lakewood, but otherwise our most stable are typically the sad cases that have no other options. Eventually people that value diversity are going to have face the facts that the suburbs are diverse in every possible category except for wealth and income. Then what will they say?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

The immigrants, especially from Asia and India, want their kids in excellent schools (eliminates DISD) that happen to be easy drives to their offices that are also located in the suburbs. Hell of a concept.

 

The burbs need Dallas and Dallas needs the burbs. Got it? Good. Deal with it.

todd
todd

I live in the burbs but play in the city.  I really don't see that big a difference between the two.  Yeah, if I lived in the city I'd walk more instead of drive.  But I like a lot of different areas (Cedars, E Dallas, OC, Arts, etc) so I'd probably still drive quite a bit as well.  I can't live everywhere.  For the most part, the people are people.  There are some extremes, but they're few and far between.  The one big difference is parking.  In the burbs it's easy, almost mindless.  In the city, it requires a little thought.         

WhiteGuiltLibtard
WhiteGuiltLibtard

Jim thinks that living on Swiss Avenue, surround by crack-heads and shitty apartments full of illegal aliens makes him so much more "tolerant" and cooler than suburb dwellers. Newsflash: most Indians and Asians can't stand blacks, which is why they move as far away from black areas as possible. If you weren't a naive white-guilter you would know that.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

Jim,

    What a random, rambling bit of prose......are you well, sir? 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Jerik: Yeah, I think Daniel (see below) is well-meaning but full of it. First of all, the old neighborhoodsare not spittle-flecked but beautiful.   And there is much to be said for people who sink and anchor and stay. If you associate old with decay and new with virtue, then, yeah, go to the 'burbs. But like you say, those places are designed to be used like Kleenex -- disposable by design.  

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

Whoa!  Those last 2 paragraphs are some seriously flowery chauvinism.  I'm no fan of the 'burbs either, but may I suggest that your sense of post-geographic confusion is born more of ignorance of those areas' histories than of their actual featurelessness?

JoeAristotle
JoeAristotle

 @JimSX Jim, we have been trying to tell you this for years now, but all you did was insult us and not listen. Can we at least get an apology? For a long time we have been pointing out that the burbs (especially the older ones) are not homogeneous and in many cases not rich. They have their share of poverty and in many cases are far more cosmopolitan that vast swaths of central cities. You are a smart guy Jim and maybe its time to sit back and rethink your ideas about metropolitan issues. The fact is Jim.... some of the burbs you backhandedly shove off ARE the old space station.  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @JimSX .....and the scumbags on the old space station will just as vehemently declare how much better their space station is because it's just  a short 1-mile space walk to Albertson's and the duct tape/bailing wire gives their space station more 'character' than the blandly modern and boring new space station.

It really has nothing to do with suburbs and cities, rural or urban, black or white, Jim.  It's human nature to find the superior in your own choices, even if the only way to do that is to find something inferior in others' choices.  You should know, you've become a self-taught master at it.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @PerryMoore Don't torture me with visions of a paradise I cannot attain.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

 @RTGolden1 The race-jousting today seems a bit too casual.  Obligatory.  Righteous indignation by the players appears contrived.  

 

I just get the feeling their hearts aren't in it, hence the nostalgia Mr. Schutze wistfully emotes.  Ah yes, those were the days.

 

Then and Now was a strip run in Mad Magazine in the the 1960s. Fist plate shows a bunch of white kids chasing two black kids.

 

The second plate shows two black kids chasing a bunch of white kids.

eastdallasite
eastdallasite

Not in East Dallas - it's like a small town - that's why we love it so..Coco types would recoil in horror...that makes us happy.

getrealalready
getrealalready

@mavdog Don't worry, Section 8 apartments will ruin that soon enough.

eastdallasite
eastdallasite

Then they are misinformed and are missing out on some of the highest-ranked schools in the country.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

 @todd You can't walk anywhere even if you live in the "walkable" neighborhoods. Everything's still too spread out, and it's too fucking hot 6 months out of the year. Ever tried buying groceries in July and walking a mile home? I live in the "walkable" Uptown area, twixt Knox and West Village. It's a mile to Albertsons (shittiest grocery store in town). That's supposed to be close.

Oak Lawn was better before it got "revitalized". There was a Tom Thumb on Knox, Turtle Creek Village, Lomo Alto, and Cedar Springs. That's walkable.

All the daily needs type of things are gone.

ASaneHumanBeing
ASaneHumanBeing

 @WhiteGuiltLibtard It's true.  There's the "diversity" of functioning intact families who value education, which can be immigrants from anywhere, or white or black Americans too.

 

Then there's the "diversity" of drug dealers, single mothers, gang-bangers, teenage delinquents, and failing schools, which is overwhelmingly Black and Latino.

 

Unpleasant but true.  And more government money isn't going to do anything about it.  We should however, aggressively re-stigmatize single motherhood.

James080
James080 topcommenter

 @JimSX Hmmmmm, remind me again why you left Detroit? Sink anchors and stay, is that how it goes? Hey, I like old neighborhoods too, but I just can't afford anything in the Swiss Avenue Historical District.

Daniel
Daniel

 @JimSX I agree my own self, Jim, but I didn't sweat and save and risk everything to escape a place that was filthy and teeming. I want more density. I want more character. Asian immigrants, speaking generally, apparently do not.

 

And FTR, I'm pretty sure I live within blocks of you. Take a walk across Live Oak and down Bryan to about Haskell or so. This will take you through the heart of what used to be "Little Asia." It's flecked with more than just spittle, my friend. I like the area, I find it vibrant still -- but can you really expect immigrants to put down roots in such an environment if they have other options? I may be full of shit, but you tell ME why they all up and decamped for Richardson (and, from there, to Allen). 

 

I'm not sure they embrace the facelessness of these places any more than you or I do. They make that trade-off for the same well-thumbed reasons that white Americans do. 

 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

This should have been addressed to DallasIMay.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @jerikjonsson Right. I love it when people up there try to give directions. Turn right at the Wal Mart, left at Home Depot and then right again at Starbucks.  Thank God for GPS. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @JoeAristotle Apology, eh? Give me a minute here. Where is that damn dictionary when I need it? 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

getrealalready

 

oh, I see. in your opinion lower income people "ruin" the world.

 

thanks for letting us know what is in your head. it's very informative and revealing.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @James080 Not everybody had the good sense to get into print journalism where you score the really big buckaroos.

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

 @JimSX It's more polite than if they were to say "turn left by our academically exemplary high school and then left by our newest Fortune 500 headquarters; then enjoy our billiard-table smooth roadway for about a mile until you come to our EMTALA-exempt specialty health care facility."

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

 

now it's "gitreel"? you should seek help for your dissociative identity disorder.

 

you're dancing now, and I don't blame you, frankly your positions are not only indefensible they are idiotic.

 

what about the areas of town that have section 8 housing but don't exhibit high crime, or aren't as you put it "shitty"? yeah, those don't fit into your predetermined views so they don't count.

 

you'll have to define what "white guilt ridden" means, your venacular just doesn't make any sense. you have no idea if I'm white, and I'm certainly not feeling any guilt.

 

of course, that's understandable, if your bigotry doesn't make any sense how could your obtuse ramblings about lower income people make any sense?

gitreel
gitreel

@mavdog Question one: no I don't think that. Question two: those areas certainly did not have a lot of the problems they have now since section 8 went in. Your second paragraph is just a couple of stupid straw-man arguments. Don't worry, I had a big hard laugh a how naive and white-guilt-ridden you are.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

getrealalready

 

you are very myopic. you think these areas that you mentioned are the only areas with section 8 housing? or those areas didn't have their issues before subsidized housing was provided?

 

oh yeah, these are the only areas of our community that have any crime, or are "shitty and dangerous". clearly you believe that only low income people commit crimes.

 

yeah, you did help me. I now know just how stupid you are.

 

thanks. you gave me a good laugh.

getrealalready
getrealalready

@mavdog Yeah because Section 8 apartments totally improved Lake Highlands, the 635-Forest-Audelia area, Frankford & Marsh, etc etc. oh wait no they didn't. They made them shitty and dangerous. Always glad to help a naive white-guilter like you, you are welcome.

James080
James080 topcommenter

 @JimSX Ha. Print journalism. So its a money deal.....I should have known. And I thought I was going to hit it big with my "Guess Your Weight" booth at the State Fair. I should'a paid more attention in English class instead of physics.

eastdallasite
eastdallasite

 A shitrag like The Washington Post ranks W.T. White and Woodrow above most high schools in the northern suburbs.

getrealalready
getrealalready

@Daniel @jerikjonsson @JimSX It is a comment on an article about race, so it is relevant. I used quotes so you can choose your favorite PC term like "Latino" or even "Mexican" if you so desire. Also, your fantasy about Plano heroin is over 10 years out of date, thought I'd point that out again. Try looking a little closer to home for the heroin, like WT White, North Dallas High School, Woodrow, Bryan Adams, etc etc etc. if you weren't so naive you would know that though. I'd bet money you get all your "news" from shit rags like the DO and Huffington Post.

Daniel
Daniel

 @jerikjonsson  @JimSX 

getrealalready,

 

They were "Hispanic"? What the hell does that have to do with anything? And why are we putting it in quotation marks? 

getrealalready
getrealalready

@Daniel @jerikjonsson @JimSX The Plano heroin craze ended well over 10 years ago, and was replaced by the DISD "cheese heroin" craze. If you were at all informed you would also know that 100% of the cheese heroin dealers and a large percentage of the Plano heroin dealers were "Hispanics". "Hispanic" teens also made up 100% of the cheese heroin overdoses in DISD.

Daniel
Daniel

 @jerikjonsson  @JimSX Okay if I make a quick pit-stop at the high school to score some H? As the kids discovered long ago, it makes the endless landscape of Home Depots, Fortune 500 headquarters and  Wal-Marts seem more bearable somehow.

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