Well, the fickle finger of fate writes — sometimes in faint pencil, sometimes in Day-Glo markers — and these days it seems to be writing that Fort Worth is turning a corner of sorts. Or maybe, turned it a long time ago and perception is finally catching up with reality. Yes, Fort Worth still has a world-class rodeo for several weekends each year, plus a bunch of other excellent rodeos, horse shows and competitions, and Western events. Yes, folks still are justly proud of our Western heritage and of the Western-themed institutions like the National Cowgirl Museum and the Stockyards.
But think about it: How many actual cowboys and/or cowgirls do you know? How many people who live on farms or ranches or otherwise make their living by agriculture? OK, now think about how many lawyers you know. Or construction industry folks. Or truck drivers. Or people who work at bars and restaurants or at a local college. Chances are, any of those categories will top the number of folks who actually poke cows for a living. And speaking of bovines, how many of those critters have you seen inside the city limits of Fort Worth, or even in Tarrant County, in the last little while (excepting, of course, the Herd that ambles tamely down Exchange a couple of times a day for the tourists). The Walsh Ranch, one of the last major working ranches in the county, is fast becoming a new satellite town on our western edge.
So, many Fort-ians don’t hear much resonance in “Cowtown” these days. And a bunch of them have picked up Funkytown as the city’s new reference. We wish it were original, but sorry — the tough but musically rich town of South Memphis, for one, got slapped with that label long before us. For now, though, it’s apt here as well. As Fort Worth Weekly’s writers have been chronicling for several years now, this is a place that is becoming more urban every day — mostly in good ways, as in the revitalization of inner-city neighborhoods and the surge of people moving back to downtown proper. But it’s also happening in bad ways, like our increasing traffic and, thanks to our leaders in Washington, the smog that just rips your heart out some mornings while doing more lasting damage to your lungs. The city’s getting funkier, as well, in the sense of a great and diverse music scene, an increasingly diverse population, and an uptick in appreciation for the arts and artists of all stripes. Someday, perhaps, city hall and the downtown crowd may even realize that the funkiest side of town — the East Side — is actually within the city limits and adds some great people, food, neighborhoods, and other stuff to our civic bottom line. Why, there are actually some residents in this city so funky that they’ve decided they value safety, quality of life, and neighborhood preservation over gas drilling royalties. Now that is fun-keeee.
In light of all that, we — the Weekly’s staff and freelance writers and Vishal Malhotra, our inimitable (and indefatigable) freelance photographer — have tried to bring you the best of Fort Worth’s funk, in all its sizes, shapes, smells, and assorted glories. Enjoy the issue. And then when you’re done, sit down and think about how we can all keep next year’s issue from being labeled “The Best of the Barnett Shale Wasteland.”