Kultur: Wednesday, May 09, 2007
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As the rest of the world will look from afar with envy on Dallasí forthcoming performing arts complex, featuring contributions from Norman Foster (above) and Rem Koolhaas (right), Fort Worth will have a front-row seat.
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Thanks to a web forum, and one crotchety wonk, the architecture debate that wonít die returns. Aggghhhhh!

By Anthony Mariani

In response to one of my recent columns, about the aggressive architecting of Big D (ďAlarming Heights,Ē April 11), the forum at John Robertsí award-winning FortWorthArchitecture.com lit up. And ó amazingly, for such a ďlazyĒ article, according to one contributor ó the forum continues fielding responses. Naturally, most of them are sober and informative, even the ones in opposition to the chief tenet of my argument, that Dallas is quietly becoming an international public architecture mecca and will have staying power while Fort Worth is being sold down the Riverwalk and might be reduced to a soggy tourist destination. For the record, as much as I love gazing thoughtfully upon a placid body of water before heading off to an Andy Williams concert, Iíll be happy if I continue getting my water-íní-Andy fix only in Branson, Mo. And as much as I love boozing on dollar Hurricanes at frat bars and trying to capsize gondolas, Iíll be happy if only San Antonio continues to afford me the pleasure.

FortWorthArchitecture.comís forum, predictably, has a few stupid, intellectually inadequate loudmouths who are there seemingly only to launch petty and wildly assumptive personal fatwas. ďYo,Ē redhead, yes, I am Italian, and, yes, I speak like Rocky Balboa. Yes, Sam Stone, I once worked full-time as a writer/editor at Architecture magazine in the Big Apple and I live in a roofed structure among many other roofed structures ó I think I know enough about architecture and whatnot to engage the general public. Not the Foucault-reading public. The general public. (However, Mr. Sam Stone, I must admit that I didnít know that having a soft spot for Modernist public architecture is a capital offense. Sigh! Guess Iíll have to turn myself in to the Taste Police.) And, yes, AndyN, I do have poor self-esteem. Incredible, how well you three complete strangers know me!

(Note to web-posters on every forum: Making unwarranted, unprovoked, drive-by ad hominem assaults does nothing more than undercut whatever argument youíre trying to make by exposing your root ignorance. Even if what you say is funny. Even if what you say is, well, true. Itís still not cool, man!)

The moral of the story: Though intended primarily for romantic puffing of the professorial pipe and untrammeled gas-baggery, FortWorthArchitecture.comís forum is an invaluable cultural resource, especially since itís one of the only ó if not the only ó virtual locales where esthetes can pick and prod one anotherís brains. The closest we have to a visual arts forum are the comment sections at Glasstire.com, an online Austin publication that covers Texas. (And you think some of FortWorthArchitecture.comís posters are full of hot air, big thesauruses, and bad intentions?! You ainít seen nuthiní ítil youíve spent a few seconds in The Octagon, a.k.a. Glasstire.com. Iím talking, like, left hooks and roundhouse kicks coming out of your computer screen.)

As for the other fine arts in town, I havenít discovered any solid forum dedicated to ballet or contemporary dance. Same for theater, jazz, and classical music.

But then again, Iím lazy.

Thereís one specific, recurring topic in the ďAlarming HeightsĒ thread that I would like to address.

To many respondents, comparing Fort Worth to Dallas ó or one city to another ó is a foolís errand. Suggesting that thereís some sort of rivalry between Cowtown and Big D is an even bigger affront to reason. But twin cities such as Minneapolis-St.Paul, Winston-Salem, and Fort Worth-Dallas arenít ďnormalĒ metropolises. Especially in regard to a potential visitor or residentís perception of the city, twin cities must be evaluated differently, meaning that one twin cannot be assessed as a place in which to live or sightsee without considering the other. The identity and vitality of each depends on the cross-pollination of ideas and, more significantly, location-specific cultural resources. We have the Cultural District and are either loved or envied by Dallasites for it. Dallas will have an enormous, spellbinding performing arts complex and will be either loved or envied by us for it. (The normal folks, not caring about city limits and hotel-motel tax income, will be glad just to have more cool stuff in the region.) Each twin feeds off the challenge of meeting or surpassing the otherís cultural resources, for the sake of fueling the health of the entire region.

My hope is that we continue upholding our end of the bargain. Otherwise, weíll be letting everybody down.

Contact Kultur at kultur@fwweekly.com.


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