The Games Game

Houston and Dallas go for the gold.

Fort Worth and Austin say “Uncle”—Miltie, that is. Plus: The art of rock and roll in Austin; college athletes in the swim in Dallas; an operatic debut in Dallas with a familiar Ring; and a post-war jazz master plays San Antonio.

I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT THE IMAGES OF both Dallas and Houston were based on the social life of the cities rather than their political life. Dallas is supposed to be strict, exclusive, even repressed, while Houston is supposed to be more open but also rougher, less refined, more brawling and individualistic. Those clichés, while exaggerated, aren’t entirely wrong, as anyone who has attended a major social event in either city will testify. But politically, Dallas is the more disjointed city while Houston, although moving in a wild, freestyle dance, always seems to be moving in the same direction. It’s true that more than sixty years ago Dallas, in a moment of rare civic unity, managed to snatch the state fair from other Texas cities, and recently it has built a rapid transit system. Otherwise it’s been all Houston. The Ship Channel, the Astrodome, the medical center, the Johnson Space Center, and the new sports stadiums in progress were all the product of a unified civic will that Dallas hasn’t been able to harness since 1936. Even Texas Stadium, where the Cowboys play, and the Ballpark in Arlington, where the Rangers play, are in suburbs, not the city itself.

Now both Houston and Dallas are making bids to host the Olympic Games in 2012, and they both have a respectable chance to win. Of course everyone assumes that the rivalry between Houston and Dallas is on the brink of bursting open again. If that happens, the feud will be revved up to an intensity we haven’t seen before because for once it will be clear who wins and who loses. And the stakes are high. The

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