“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.”
― Hugh Hefner
Over the last year or so, the Dallas Design District has become one of my favorite destinations – especially for riding my bicycle.
Right off Riverfront, in the heart of the district, appeared a huge steel replica of the Playboy Bunny logo, alongside a black-painted muscle car on a tilted slab of concrete.
On group bike rides there was some snickering and snide snarky sermonizing about these incongruous objects. I, on the other hand, never really gave it much thought – except to get out my camera and take some snaps.
Today, I was surfing around this internet-thing, and stumbled across the story of the Playboy Marfa. The mystery was solved.
Marfa is this strangely cool West Texas town – half old-school West Texas ranchland, a throwback to the old wild west – and half postmodern hip art colony. A mix that doesn’t always agree – but somehow gets along to the betterment of both.
One thing that both groups don’t like at all is crass commercialism.
So when the Playboy Corporation rented some space and erected this faux-artistic giant steel advertisement the locals were appalled. They resented the use of their wilderness artistic tradition for advertisement. Everyone was up in arms, including the Texas Highway Overlords.
It didn’t take long for the site’s permit to get itself yanked – Playboy Marfa had to go. The locals were happy.
But, What is Art?
Luckily, there is Dallas. You see, Dallas doesn’t care about crass commercialism. The crasser, the better. As Dallas updates itself it is careful not to fully abandon its past – its history of tackiness, moneyed kitsch, and big everything. And I like it.
It is embodied in the phrase I’m starting to see – partially in response to the popular “Keep Austin Weird” campaign down I35 a few miles…
“Keep Dallas Pretentious”
…which is interesting on several levels – once you think about it and embrace it.