February 12, 2013

Let's play the feud: Dallas, Fort Worth back at it

Larry McMurtry's “second-rate” remark fans the flames.

Rants, raves, reviews and resources for Dallas-Fort Worth parents

Fort Worth's old prairie rivalry with Dallas is stirring again, and some thanks go to Larry McMurtry.

For its 40th anniversary, Texas Monthly asked the state's best writer to rate cities.

He likes three: Houston, Austin and Fort Worth, the home of "three world-class museums, plus that glorious Livestock Exchange building over by the Stockyards."

Even after $400 million was spent on new parks and bridges, he is less impressed with one city nearby.

"Dallas," he wrote, "is a second-rate city that wishes it were first-rate."

This has the confetti cannons exploding in Fort Worth, which had been falling off the back of the Dallas-Fort Worth hyphen lately, and set off a relapse of insecurities in Dallas.

In The Dallas Morning News, columnist Steve Blow asked whether anyone worries what McMurtry thinks: "Who cares?"

Blow reminded readers that McMurtry has never liked Dallas much.

In 1968's A Handful of Roses, McMurtry wrote about the city's self-consciousness in those post-assassination years, and class and racial tension: "No place in Texas is quite so tense or quite so tight."

Blow wrote that Dallas should "quit looking over our shoulder once and for all. Even having to talk about it seems tiresome."

But Dallas did, not only in The News but also in an essay by KERA/90.1 FM Art & Seek's Jerome Weeks, arguing defensively that "no city gets quite the treatment that Dallas does."

( Texas Monthly also celebrates the Kimbell Art Museum's anniversary and calls for moving the state capital to Houston.)

Disclosure: I wrote a short piece for the issue on Fort Worth's side of the rivalry and how Google users worldwide have settled the name of our region as "DFW" or "Dallas-Fort Worth." It was a topic Tuesday on KERA's Think.

Fort Worth has been working up a mad for Dallas lately. First, Dallas left Fort Worth out of the assassination observance, even though our city was very much part of Kennedy's 1963 welcome.

Then we found out that the "North Texas Final Four" is coming to Arlington next year, but the guests mostly will stay in Dallas.

Now there's a brewing dispute over whether the new bullet train to Houston should end in Dallas or continue to Fort Worth.

This rivalry is more than just a magazine line.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @budkennedy

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