When I went to Europe in 1981, Americans were no more popular there than they are now. As soon as I opened my mouth, hotel clerks and waiters would scowl at me and ask me where I was from. If I said, “America,” I might not get a room or a meal. But if I said, “Texas,” they would break out in a big smile, say, “Bang, bang! Who shot J.R.?” and we would be the best of buddies. So I learned to love Dallas because it probably saved my hide more than once during that journey. As for Dallas, I’d hardly ever been there at the time, and from all reports, I wasn’t missing much. But during numerous visits over the next two decades, I discovered many reasons to love the actual, much-maligned city, reasons that have nothing to do with its well-known tourist attractions (the Sixth Floor Museum, the Dallas World Aquarium, the flagship Neiman’s downtown, Pioneer Plaza’s herd of bronze Longhorns), its 80 billion restaurants, or even a prime-time soap opera. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
1. I thought about claiming that the DOWNTOWN SKYLINE is best viewed from your car as you cross the Trinity River via Houston Street. But since Houston runs one-way here—out of town—the cityscape would be in your rearview mirror. Hmmm. Okay, head back into town via Jefferson (also one-way) for a commanding view of what Norman Mailer once charmingly described as “a collection of Kleenex boxes standing on end”: Reunion Tower, which blossoms like a giant onion, on your left; the Bank of America Plaza, Dallas’ tallest building, outlined in argon tubing that lights up the night with the color of money; and reassuringly, in the midst of it all, the familiar red horse still flying atop the Magnolia Building. I was proud of myself for discovering this particular view—until I learned it was the