226 Dallas, TX: Deep Ellum

If you were from Dallas, and particularly from Dallas of many years past, you might call the far end of Elm Street "Deep Ellum." That was indeed what Dallasites still called it, and it was home to many local artists and art groups.

I ducked into the post office there to buy stamps for my post cards. Inside, the only other patron was a lithe, six-foot blonde with big blue eyes and a ratty old T-shirt that read, "as is." I asked her my question, and she locked onto my eyes, talking and moving quickly, "Oh yes. Everybody is. This is what my book talks about. Over the past 45 years, we've moved from an agrarian society to where women are in the workforce and financially independent and we don't have to marry any more. So there are so many more choices, which had made everybody more isolated and made dating more difficult, which is why there is a need for my book and my Web site, which is the world's largest dating advice column. I reach a worldwide audience of 1.6 million people. I used to be a capitalist psychologist, which means I was in advertising and marketing. Now I'm in dating."

She proceeded to invite me to her apartment the following night for a presentation. "It's forty dollars. There's a case of wine to go through. We're all going to eat our words. There are 54 qualities you can look for in a partner." [How she managed to whittle it down or up to 54 or arrived at that number, who knows.] "You'll write down ten words that describe your ideal partner, and then you're going to have to talk about why you chose those words and what they mean to you."

I saw her eyes shift down to my T-shirt from the Cincinnati Art Museum. "We want someone who is artistic. Well, what does 'artistic' mean? I've traveled the world over to just see the art in the museums all over the world. And the kind of event I want this to be, it's going to be a cultural event. Not a, you know, 'hey baby I want to pick you up and fuck you.'"

With that, she handed me an invite and drove away.

I drifted over to the Deep Ellum galleries, where I interviewed Jeanette, working the desk at one. "Um," she hesitated, "I think the isolation is not the subjects' in the paintings, but how the artist feels." She had a round face with pale, freckled cheeks, dark brown eyes, and brown hair cut shoulder-length and cellophaned purple. She sat in black pants and a tan lightweight shirt with its lapels pulled wide from her collarbones.

"That's probably part of why he's so popular. Because he's able to convey that. The painter we have showing now has the flatness in his paintings similar to Hopper's flatness. His paintings are being equated with Japanese. The Hopper at the McNay in San Antonio, I remember. I'm not familiar with the one that is in the Dallas Museum."

"It's fairly famous one of a lighthouse."

"OK," She nodded, "The visuals come to mind."

"So," I clarified, "you think Hopper's paintings are more a reflection of the artist and his feelings than the people in these cities?"

"Definitely," she confirmed. "Or to a lot of other places. Like the suburbs. Like a basic floor plan for a house. Each person thinks of it as their own, but people are walking into the exact same house. And how you can feel alone and be part of a group at the same time?"

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