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if such people as these are in charge of developing this border town the best we can hope for is a caricature; the worst, a direct cloning of the generic suburban schlock which characterizes a dozen other “metroplexes” across the country. There is, however, a fair amount of town. And this money has been used to resist some of the sleazier development concepts while saving the center of town from the sort of inner decay that has become typical of American cities. And it’s still the case that many of the people who make decisions about the town have lived here all their lives. The regular dinner at Joe T’s and the rib plate at Angelo’s are still just as good. There’s still R&B at the Bluebird Lounge. And there’s still a fair number of old guys in hardware stores and salvage yards and garages and cabinet shops that are only too happy to tell you about the days when this town was wide open when the boys at the White Elephant were not wearing deodorant and designer jeans, when a breeze from the stockyards would stop a Yankee cold, and when they had dreams of owning their own little spread. The forces from The East the M.B.A. squad will probably take over in the end. New money grows faster than old. We’re probably doomed to total fern-bardom. But as long as we’ve got a few of those old guys left this will still be as close as a city can be to the place where The West begins. “What you have to remember about Fort Worth, is that it’s a fort.” Advice to a newcomer from a lifelong resident An Anecdote of Old Fort Worth BACK IN THE ’50s there was a gambler and minor crime-figure on the west side of Fort Worth, whom I will call “Biggy,” who weighed in at about three hundred pounds, favored Elvis pink and black apparel, and drenched himself with industrialstrength lilac aftershave. As everyone knew, Biggy had but four passions in life: Losserro’s pizza, five-card stud, big-breasted strippers, and this miniature poodle he called Fred and kept clipped in the most artificial and effeminate manner imaginable. So, it was not altogether surprising, when “Biggy” fell into arrears with a local shylock, that said shylock by way of providing incentive for payment should strike out at one of the objects of Biggy’s passion.. In this instance, the victim turned out to be Fred the poodle, whom Biggy found on his front porch one morning with his throat cut. Needless to say, Biggy paid off the shylock with some alacrity. But not before preserving the body of poor Fred among steaks and frozen peaches in the brand new Amana deep-freeze locker which he kept out on the back porch. Then, two weeks later, Dave Hickey, art critic and essayist, is leaving Fort Worth. Biggy’s shylock was discovered on the kitchen floor of his Samson Park home. He had apparently been beaten to death with the once-frozen poodle now melting into a puddle on the linoleum beside him. Naturally, the pivotal question at Biggy’s trial was whether his freezing of Fred the poodle constituted premeditation. The defense contended merely the act of a sensitive man’s devotion to his dead pet. Everyone else knew that revenge is best served up cold. General Fort Worth: An aggregation of homes, shops, stores, malls, museums, parks, zoos, honky tonks, office buildings and light industrial areas occupying an expanse of otherwise undistinguished Texas real estate on the lip of the prairie plains, facing west. Not a city, really. \(In a city you can get what you want, and in a great city you can get what you want Nor a town, exactly. \(In a town you know who your neighcertainly, not a community. Probably, Fort Worth is best described as a piece of West Texas, kinda bunched up to keep it from spilling over into Dallas, for, even though the physical distances between structures are not so great as in the rest of west Texas, the psychic distances are, if anything, greater since the place manages to coextend and compound the alienation and isolation endemic to the Prairie Plains of Texas with the alienation and isolation which is characteristic of American Mass Culture. To give you an idea: Conceive a marginally civilized, post-war land-and cattle town full of west Texas autocrats and independent businessmen going obsessively about their own private businesses; suburbanize it after the manner of the ’50s; forget the ’60s, \(In infuse it with a heavy dose of ’70s “Me Generation” self involvement, and intensify that mix with a garnish of ’80s “New Greed,” and priggish elitism. What you get is a very strange and private place, indeed where the modalities of social interaction are virtually non-existent and the populace at large is segregated not only according to the traditional race, color, creed, and national origin but also according to age, sex, income, education, neighborhood, mode of transportation and line of endeavor. There are exceptions, however, and on the whole, Fort Worth is not a bad place to live, if you bring a friend. And since there are better pictures in the museums and better bands in the bars, it’s certainly preferable to its adjacent metropolis. Also, in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, being an asshole is optional although it remains a very popular elective. The Seven Wonders of Fort Worth The Kimbell Museum: Louis Kahn’s great building houses what is probably the best collection of PreModern European and Oriental Art between the coasts. This is important since sensory deprivation is a very real option for local inhabitants. Delbert McClinton: One of the best living blues singers of any color and archetypal local-badass out of a long and rich tradition. Billy Bob’s Texas: A confluence of all the red-neck bullshit in Christendom in a space which resembles nothing so much as the Canal Street Subway Station. The Water Garden: Philip Johnson’s great work of public art where you can descend into a declivity of Le Ville des Vache By Dave Hickey 22 MAY 29, 1987