Dallas missed an opportunity

Posted on 22 Nov 2013 at 7:45am

Instead of showcasing the city’s evolvement into a cultural center since the 1963 assassination, it’s showing off it’s paranoia

Screen shot 2013-11-21 at 8.58.16 PMEvery Dallas hotel room should have been booked this week for a celebration of the life of President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dealey Plaza.

Instead, the city has perpetuated the idea of Dallas as the City of Paranoia.

People from around the world should have been invited to come to visit the Sixth Floor Museum to learn about history. Instead, on the anniversary, the museum will be closed. Our editor was allowed into the museum earlier this week after preregistering for an invitation-only press event, and photography was only allowed on the seventh floor.

The main focus, however, should have been a week of events celebrating JFK and commemorating the event that defined Dallas. Cultural events should have filled the city’s calendar.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Turtle Creek Chorale could have mounted a production of Mass.

Jacqueline Kennedy commissioned Leonard Bernstein to compose Mass in honor of the president. Stephen Schwartz wrote the lyrics for the work for the grand opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 1971.

The Dallas Opera could have filled the Winspear with visitors to the city by staging, well, any classic opera in its repertoire. City Performance Hall and the Wyly Theatre should have had two or three performances scheduled each day through this weekend — dance, music and lectures.

Local choreographer Bruce Wood might have been commissioned to create a new piece, while Ballet Folklorico and Dallas Black Dance Theater could have staged some of their classic works. TITAS might have brought in a nationally known dance troupe.

Local music groups like the Dallas Wind Ensemble should be performing. Name entertainment should have been booked in every venue from the Meyerson to the American Airlines Center.

Lyric Stage that specializes in staging Broadway musicals with orchestrations restored to their original glory should have mounted a production of Camelot.

Every museum should be part of the commemoration. Sure, photo exhibits about the life of Kennedy should be there, but maybe the Nasher would focus a gallery on sculpture from the 1960s and the Dallas Museum of Art would feature artists who came of age during Kennedy’s 1,000 days in office.

While collaboration with Fort Worth is something that still horrifies most people in Dallas, this would have been the perfect time to do so.

The Kimbell Art Museum is opening a building next week. The new Piano Pavilion almost doubles display space and adds a beautiful new auditorium to Fort Worth’s cultural map. With coordination, that city could have timed the opening to this week’s commemoration and dedicated the unveiling to the memory of JFK giving his last speech in Fort Worth the morning of Nov. 22 before traveling to Dallas.

Instead, Dallas has gone from the City of Hate to the City of Paranoia. The only people allowed near Dealey Plaza on Friday have gone through complete background checks. They will be bused in from American Airlines Center or the Winspear. Even though it’s supposed to rain, no umbrellas will be allowed. They won’t be allowed to carry anything to the site with them.

Dallas County offices near Dealey Plaza are closed for the day. The Sixth Floor Museum is closed for the day. Two DART lines will stop running for a few hours because they run over the Triple Underpass and wrap around the Sixth Floor Museum’s parking lot by the pergola where the second shooter stood.

Everyone is being told to stay away. The “X” marking the spot where Kennedy was hit was removed last week.

In the national press, Dallas looks ridiculous.

David Taffet was in the fifth grade in Yonkers, N.Y., when President Kennedy was assassinated. He can be reached at taffet@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 22, 2013.

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