Dallas: The good, the bad, and the annoying

Before leaving Philadelphia, I wrote about problems I saw and experienced while living there: Philadelphia: The rough and tumble. Similarly, our time in Dallas has been great overall, but the city has shortcomings that we'll consider when deciding where to live long-term. Dallas issues are different from Philadelphia issues. What I didn't like about Dallas sprouted from people and mindsets while much of what was problematic in Philadelphia surrounded aging infrastructure, overcrowding, and entrenched organizations. Many of the things I didn't like about Philadelphia, were handled great in Dallas. The differences make me look forward to experiencing the next city and seeing what's working, and not working, there.


Drivers: Dallas drivers are terrible. I don't care what the insurance companies say. It's a mixture of big city recklessness and aggression mixed with small-town incompetence. They can't merge, don't know how to politely assert, turn left on red, pull into crosswalks, drive slow in the left, tailgate in the right, sit at greens, and run reds. They often weave in and out of traffic despite having a clear left lane. I ended up on a hood when a taxi took a turn into the crosswalk. Pedestrians have the same disregard. Insurance studies are based entirely on reported collisions and don't consider weather, ice, traffic density, or frustration level.

Traffic: Lots of it, but it's a city. What do you expect? No complaint here. Some grid-lock in uptown areas but I love how the downtown lights are timed so you can cruise 15 lights without getting a red.

Confusing and faded road lines: On the highways old line aren't completed erased and new ones are fading so it creates confusion at high speeds among slanting lanes. Downtown, lanes change position after intersections so when you get to the other side cars are straddling lanes and have to make sudden adjustments to get back in place.

Valet Parking: Excessive and out of control. (I wrote a whole post on this one!)


(White powder scare next to our apartment)

Street Harassment: Again, this is something I expected from Philadelphia having lived there years ago, but didn't experience. I have yet to leave our apartment in Dallas without being asked for money. It's not even the kind of passive requests received in New York by someone camped out on the sidewalk. It's all types of people passing in the street or approaching to interrupt what I'm doing in a park or restaurant.

Chicken Bones: Chicken bones all over downtown! This isn't a real complaint, but I see them everywhere as does my dog. It's generally a clean city-- just cut it out with the
chicken bones!

Serious Crime: The city feels safe. There are friendly safety patrol officers and cameras all over downtown. There are sketchy neighborhoods as in any big city, but even those neighborhoods don't feel as many in other cities. Dallas has a bad reputation because of the 90's, but from statistics and what I saw (or didn't see), they've really cleaned things up.

General Environment and Culture

Food: The pizza here is almost as bad as the drivers. Picture Jersey pizza with less grease and a burnt crust. It's expensive ($3-$4 average nasty slice) and not what it claims. What passes as NY pizza is a chuck of melted mozzarella with bread and canned veggies in it. The Mexican food we've found is similar. Being so close to Mexico I expected freshness, diversity, and quality, but it's mostly the same Mexican food slop they sell all over the south. Granted, I'm picky and guessing we just haven't found the right places. Just the fact that these are popular, high-priced, centrally located restaurants-- disappointing.

Lack of soul and culture: I've read multiple posts by Texans bragging about Dallas's diversity. They list all the different types of food the city offers or talk about the arts programs and the museums. They're not lying, but a lot of it looks better on paper than it actually is. Often, it feels that Dallas is trying so hard to create a great city through city-planning and arts, but lacks the discourse, fearlessness, and support to be genuine. I also get the impression that many people living here think their city is diverse but lack the experience, education, or exposure to know the difference between real cultural diversity and having a lot of dining options. I've seen bursts of spirit and movement in the arts, but so much of it seems to just be going through the motions. Having only been here three months, I could be entirely wrong, but I think it will be a long time before Dallas does anything original on a large scale.

Downtown: Look at a map of downtown Dallas and there are restaurants and coffee shops everywhere. It looks good, but come 4pm, they all close. There are a lot of bars and clubs downtown on the weekends, but if you want something besides alcohol, the latest coffee shop closes at 8pm on weekdays and 2pm on weekends. Even CVS closes at 10. This is common in cities that only have offices, but there are a dozen large apartment complexes and they can't support one evening cafe?

People: There are immature people everywhere in the world, but we haven't been impressed with the ratios in Dallas. Many people here seem to be insubstantially pretentious and more than that, grossly inconsiderate. Their priorities seem to involve things I can't relate to. Looking over this list of things I didn't like about Dallas, many are based on its people. The people are the bad drivers, they're the people that don't pick up after their dogs or blast music in the coffee shop or gym. They are the people that are spending their money are expensive cars, valet, and big church buildings. When we go out at night I feel like I'm back in high-school or in a teen club with the ignorant chit-chat and horseplay. There are great people here too and Dallas can be a great place for artists because of the lack of competition. An original artist could really make a difference. It makes it less enjoyable to be out and about. I'm not sure if it's worth living around people who challenge my patience more than my intellect.

I'll be sure to write about all the things I do respect and enjoy about Dallas in my final post and evaluation in a couple weeks. There is plenty!