These are worrisome times, it seems, for our neighbor to the west. (Please note that The Dallas Morning News did not use the term "little brother." We would never say that.)
Fort Worth leaders, like responsible leaders everywhere, are looking for ways to ensure the city's future economic security. Like responsible leaders everywhere, they occasionally turn to consultants for some hard-nosed advice on how to go about it.
A massive report recently prepared by Austin-based TIP Strategies cites Fort Worth's advantages, including rapid population growth and an abundance of undeveloped land. Like all cities, it has its negatives, too. One of theirs is, well ... us.
The report cites Dallas repeatedly, making us sound a little like a voracious galaxy-ingesting black hole: "Fort Worth struggles with establishing visibility and name recognition, especially in comparison to Dallas." "The city often struggles to step out of Dallas' shadow."
And ominously, "Fort Worth appears to be on its way to becoming a suburb of Dallas County."
Strong words, these.
Mayor Betsy Price told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that she has already had a serious chat with hometown corporate giant American Airlines, perhaps with a reminder that inbound passengers be greeted on landing with "Welcome to Dallas-Fort Worth," without abbreviation.
And buried way down in the trenta-sized executive summary's guts, in a section flagged "threats," is the city's potentially negative image "as 'Cowtown' and a 'country club' environment."
One City Council member suggested that it might, indeed, be time to consign all those cows to the dusty halls of history -- starting with the city's iconic longhorn-head logo.
"I like cowboys and culture," said council member Brian Byrd, but added: "How much does it contribute to irrelevance? I want to see us grow."
Consultants also floated a murmuring suggestion that the city's popular spring music-and-art market, Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival, be techno-fied and hipsterized to resemble Austin's determinedly cool South by Southwest event.
Fort Worth, pardner, old neighbor pal, please: Don't do it.
By all means, compete. It's often every-town-for-itself in the aggressive incentives-and-recruitment free-for-all to land big-city economic deals.
But don't stop being Cowtown. It's your history; it's who you are -- and sometimes, just a little bit, maybe we're a speck envious of your unique identity.
Plenty of Fort Worth residents clearly agree: On the Star-Telegram's Facebook page, a chorus of locals expressed their alarm, joining in a chorus of -- yes, we heard them from over here -- "Don't Dallas my Fort Worth!"
We're us and you're you, and we both make Texas unique. Even if we're casting a shadow that blocks out the sun itself, it will be a poorer region for all of us if you quit being Cowtown.