Do We Even Care About Dallas?
When the State of Texas asked Dallas to house 40,000 disabled evacuees from the Houston area in case of another hurricane – these would be the blind, babies on life-support, lame octogenarians – Dallas said, “No.” Why are we not surprised? Big D’s reply was in keeping with the city’s tradition of welcoming friendliness – especially to visiting presidents.
So that’s yet another reason for Houston to hate Dallas, right? Wrong. To hate someone/something, a person has to feel strongly, even passionately. But Houstonians don’t feel strongly toward Dallas. Actually, we don’t feel much of anything toward, or even think much about, that city up I-45, not nearly as much as they think about us.
It’s rather like the UT-OU game. Do you ever notice that it is a big deal in Oklahoma if OU beats UT in the Cotton Bowl? Beating the Longhorns makes the Okies’ season, while on this side of the Red River, for UT fans it’s just another game. Ho-hum. There is the OU game, the A&M game, the USC game, the whoever-is-next-to-beat-for-the-national-championship game. Sooners spend a lot more time worrying about UT than any Texan ever spends wondering about the Sancho Panza of the Big XII.
Thus, it is that Houstonians go about their business with scant regard as to what is going on in Dallas. For one reason, the two cities have very little in common. Oh, sure, to the uneducated outsider both are big cities in Texas and both take pride in being Texans, but Houston far more so than Dallas, because the Bayou City is certainly more Texan than Dallas. Big D is penny loafers, brie and chardonnay. It looks toward the East. Houston is cowboy boots and hard hats, “a whiskey and trombone town,” that looks in the mirror. The Dallas social season starts when Neiman’s throws out the first catalogue. Our biggest social event is the Houston Livestock Show &Rodeo. I rest my case.
Houston has a strong form of mayor, which is a full-time job and pays $198,205 a year, although Mayor Bill White has not accepted the last two raises and takes home $165,817. Dallas hires a professional city manager while the part-time mayor gets $60,000 annually.
The hugely successful TV show “Dallas” portrayed to the rest of the world a city filled with scheming, adulterous, greedy and fairly stupid people. In Houston, “Dallas” was considered a reality show. Big D has zoning, but Houstonians have the unique possibility of building a million-dollar mansion while still having the convenience of a muffler repair shop or topless bar move in right next door. Houston has River Oaks. Dallas has Highland Park. Advantage: Dallas.
According to the latest stats available (2004), Dallas led Houston and the national average in crimes per 100,000 – repeat, per 100,000. This includes murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and auto theft. Houston, however, leads in white-collar thieves, causing the loss of billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
Houston has given civilization Howard Hughes and Walter Cronkite, the first domed sports stadium, the space program and the world’s largest medical center. Unfortunately, Houston gave Dallas Nolan Ryan. Dallas gave the world Bonnie and Clyde. Houston was founded in 1836 and was named for one of its residents, Gen. Sam Houston, victor at San Jacinto, president of Texas, signer of both the Texas Declaration of Independence and the Texas Constitution. Dallas was a buffalo hunters’ trading station when founded in 1841, and was named for an obscure vice president, George M. Dallas, who never set foot in Texas and never had anything to do with the city or the state.
Dallas gave us the first convenience store (7-11), the first car radio, suburban shopping center, drive-up bank window and frozen margarita. The first integrated circuit, which became the microchip, was invented by Jack Kilby in 1958 at Texas Instruments in Dallas. Houston was home to the first Weed Eater. Dallas’ Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, inspired by his daughter’s Super Ball, coined the term Super Bowl. The Cowboys have been in eight of them, but Dallas has not hosted a Super Bowl. Houston has hosted two – as spectators.
The Cowboys’ Texas Stadium has a hole in the center of the semi-roof so that – all together now – “God can watch His team play.” Notice that the unique design was so successful not a single other stadium in the world copied it, and now the Cowboys are building a new stadium that will look remarkably like Reliant Stadium. We built a Galleria and, guess what? A few years later Dallas built a copy – although smaller.
Populations are hard to compare. For example, Dallas has Fort Worth right next door and counts it in the population of the Metroplex. Houston doesn’t have a large city next door. On the other hand, Houston doesn’t have any kind of plex – metro, com or otherwise. In more comparisons, there are 663 million trees in the Houston area. That breaks down to 87,000 trees per square mile. Dallas has so few trees they have nicknames.
True, the Dallas Morning News saluted Houston for all the help we gave Katrina evacuees, and Houstonians have to fly through D/FW to go to hell. But from Dallas that’s a commuter flight. Still, after all is said and done, Dallas and Houston don’t hate each other. Actually, the two cities really get along like brothers – Cain and Abel.
Ashby is a proud second-generation Dallasite.