It can feel like there are two Dallases these days: the physical one in which we drive around, go to work, eat our food, and go to sleep each night; and the one that exists on Facebook. Facebook Dallas is a tiny microcosm of the broader internet culture, and so it is typically a bit more fever-pitched, hyper-reactionary, conspiratorial, and vicious than physical Dallas. It is the place where seeming level-headed discourse rears off suddenly into incomprehensible discourses on the morality of state executions of the perpetrators of Target muggings, or where Dallas’ politics are run by a kleptocratic Illuminati, and things like that.
But just as the collective brain we call the internet spawned Pepe the Frog and Cash me Outside, Dallas Internet serves up its own brand of off-color humor. And so, behold: the Dallas Ebola National Monument.
The page, which seems to have only existed for about a week, has a tagline: “Who Remembers? We do.” The conceit is an imaginary and massive artistic undertaking: plans for a campus-sized sculptural monument that commemorates Dallas’ role in stopping the spread of Ebola into the United States. (Remember that? We do.) The joke is that the monument is really a commemoration of everything inept and idiotic about Dallas government. The unstated subtext is that Dallas is truly “world class” when it is at the center of some kind of national tragedy. Here’s a taste that, intentionally or not, carries a whiff of Borges:
The moment you have been waiting for has arrived. It is time to unveil one of the most important monuments to be part of Dallas Ebola National Memorial at Dallas Ebola National Monument Towne Center:
The A.C. Gonzales Cenotaph, also known as the #AC400 Monument of Learning!
Plano sculptor Lynda Caucasian crafted this cenotaph to symbolize empty library shelves, because it is impossible to commit to writing all the important lessons AC taught Dallas, as there are so many. Theempty bookshelves dually represent the vacancy in the hearts and minds of Dallas without AC as City Manager, as well as the vacancy of competence that was AC Gonzales.
Hardy har. It’s all pretty corny, but it’s Dallas-specific corniness. Much of the satire is directed at southern Dallas council members, and there are some jabs at tepid, white bread public art and the culture of officialdom that spawns it. At times, it’s almost funny (“the Dallas Parks and Recreation And Spreading RoundUp Department”), other times it’s borderline offensive. But then, that about sums up the internet. Now Dallas has its very own silly, diversional manifestation of a broader contemporary inclination to shrink from the shock of the present via mockery.