Friday, November 16, 2012

Naming Rights

I would like to mention here my longtime love of station names. If I'd been paying attention in Dallas, I should already have an affection for such comely monikers as "Mockingbird" and "Lovers Lane," but public transportation is not so dear to me here as it is in other cities and so indeed I haven't been paying attention, and now I'll have to be quick if I am to care enough to take umbrage when they start changing them.

Indeed, if I'd been paying attention I'd know this is actually a common scheme: big cities like Boston, Philadelphia, DC all experimenting with revenue generation through naming rights to public transportation. Dallas isn't actually selling anything yet, and the experience of other cities suggests it shouldn't bother. But I try to keep an open mind. True: every time I pass the exit for the center it strikes me as an unfortunate revision and an ungainly mouthful. But if corporate interests can't be trusted, we may be just the kind of place to name things for individuals.

T. Boone Pickens is already ubixitous in my life; I can't pick up my boyfriend from his office building or go by the YMCA without re-reading his name. And however influential and supremely powerful the man, his name positively curls and winks with whimsy. I love the high "ee" of T dropping into the long swooping bass of "oon" undercut by the staccato attack of "icken." In the right context I'm sure it's formidable, but encountered unexpectedly on very serious buildings it just seems Seussian, charming, one of the great brands of Dallas, and hardly unwelcome on a light rail line.

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