The Deep Ellum Arts Fest Is Just The Worst.
Dear Main Events International,
We know you guys are busy putting the final touches on your annual takeover of Deep Ellum this weekend, so we’ll keep this brief, like we hope you’ll keep your time in the neighborhood.
We should probably start by saying that we love Deep Ellum. Like, this is way past the point of infatuation and we should probably just go ahead and commit to this relationship.
Sure, we flirt with other parts of the city. Oak Cliff can be fun, Lower Greenville is improving every day and some members of our staff will even tell you that Uptown isn’t all that horrible once you get to know it a little bit.
But, when push comes to shove, Deep Ellum is the neighborhood we come home to. And that’s something we couldn’t be happier about.
There are so many reasons the neighborhood is so close to our hearts. There’s Adair’s, Trees, Dada, AllGood Cafe, Angry Dog, Baker’s Ribs, Murray Street Coffee, Kettle Art and The Prophet Bar. There’s the Double Wide. There are newer spots that feel like they’ve been there — or at least should have been there — forever. Places such as Three Links, Twilite Lounge, Cane Rosso, Black Swan Slaoon, Glazed and Uncle Uber’s.
The list could go on and on.
No matter how long it went, though, it wouldn’t include your obnoxious, patronizing, carpetbagging festival.
It would be one thing if you guys, who are only local in the most charitable sense, brought in your festival apparatus from California and highlighted all of the things we just mentioned. That’s not what happens, though, is it?
No, you guys basically turn Deep Ellum into that one episode of The Sopranos — y’know, the one where Paulie tries to throw the block party on the cheap and then that ride breaks down and everyone is upset — for three days. You promise “Delicious, festival Cuisine!” whatever the hell that means, and then, on the very same page of your site, you tout that all of the Deep Ellum restaurants participating in the festival are being relegated to their own special “village” along with the rest of the Deep Ellum-specific stuff at the festival.
You tout that village as follows: “Local Deep Ellum restaurants will be selling samples of their most popular dishes accompanied by Deep Ellum visual and performing artists displaying and playing the original compositions one would expect to find in the ‘hood.” Which sounds a lot like — and, who knows, maybe it’s just us — you’re ghettoizing the denizens of the very place you’re supposed to be celebrating.
It’s something you have to do — along with only allowing food to be bought with non-refundable State Fair-style coupons — to maintain the ambiance of the festival, we suppose. After all, it’s not like delicious hand-crafted, small-batch doughnuts or achingly authentic Neapolitan-style pizza go with what the Deep Ellum Arts Festival is all about — which, as far as we can tell, is cheap and ugly jewelry, food court food and those terrible spray paint and stencil paintings that “artists” make for tourists “while they wait.”
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that there are still, somehow, some really good local bands on y’all’s bill. And, normally, we very much would encourage our readers to check out a bill featuring local talent like Rania Khoury & The Stone Wolves, The Phuss and -topic, but, in this case, we just can’t do it in good conscience. We’ve seen the way artists get treated at your fest — as a waystation to recover from all the lukewarm beer and foot-long corn dogs on offer.
By all means, we hope people check these acts out. You can do it in Deep Ellum almost every other weekend of the year. We just don’t suggest anyone do it this weekend. Not in support of something that is in Deep Ellum, but certainly isn’t of Deep Ellum.
Listen, we get why these artists and local restaurants participate in your deal. They have every right to make the best of a terrible situation and get paid.
But, I mean, it’s fitting that your event’s acronym is DEAF, is it not?
The whole thing just sucks. We, the people who dote on and defend Deep Ellum the other 51 weeks of the year, are doing just fine, thank you. So we’ll stay away.
As for the people who use this fest as their one chance each year to venture east of Good-Latimer, we suggest they come back another weekend — that they hire a sitter, come down and go to a show, or a bar, or a restaurant, or some combination thereof. They’ll have a better time doing that than by visiting the Deep Ellum Arts Festival.
That, we promise.
Stephen Young and the rest of the Central Track staff
P.S. OK, the pet parade can stay.