Best Of :: People & Places
On those rare occasions when a north wind blows, we know to pack up the kid and his toy airplane collection and race to DFW Airport's observation area, where he'll see jumbo jets--747s, A340s, 767s, L-1011s and DC-10s and the many smaller varieties--practically landing on top of him, and he'll watch the results of those tiny, precarious adjustments the pilot makes just a few feet from the end of the runway as he's coming in to land. (You'll also notice that it takes forever for those ancient 727s to get off the ground.) You probably didn't even know this "Founders Park" existed, with its panoramic view of the airport's east runways and piped-in control-tower chatter. But a few of us have found it, and it's perfectly suited for an outing with a plane-obsessed child (or adult). It's almost entirely fenced in, and it has picnic tables, litter-free grass and lookout binoculars (very blurry; we suggest you bring your own). Hey, and it's all free. To get there--DFW doesn't make it obvious--take the south entrance to the airport and follow the signs to the south shuttle parking area. Go past it and keep following the road until you reach an overpass. Turn left before the overpass, and you'll end up at the park. You can watch outside or in your car. It's best to come when there's a north wind, because the planes approach from the south and land right in front of you. Other times, you get a better view of the takeoff. (At press time, Founders Park had survived the new security measures at DFW and remained open.)
No ferns, no frills, no food (unless you count chips and peanuts) and no TV sports at this 50-year-old establishment, which is what a real, honest-to-goodness beer joint is supposed to be. Open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 2 a.m. Sunday, Ship's offers $2 domestic beer and can serve from a couple of dozen brands. The stools along the bar are filled with patrons ranging in age from 21 to 71. There's a pool table and one of the best jukeboxes in Dallas, offering everything from Don Williams to Ray Charles. If they ever decide to open a Beer Joint Hall of Fame, this one's got to be in it.
You'd think, judging by the fact that pretty much every car south of Mockingbird Lane sports at least one sticker on its bumper/windshield advertising the driver's Tejano radio station of choice, this city runs on the upbeat of a conjunto soundtrack. You're probably right. The Arbitron ratings might not reflect that yet--maybe they would if Arbitron actually reported in all the areas that matter, not just North Dallas--but it's true nonetheless. Perhaps the best place to see and hear for yourself is Tejano West, the McDLT among local Tejano venues, where the cerveza is cold and the dance floor is hot. Feel free to explore others, but we guarantee your boots will scoot back to Tejano West.
Lizard Lounge is the closest thing Dallas has to Studio 54, and depending on how uptight you are, that's either a good or bad thing. OK, so it's not that close to Studio 54, but it does have everything you want in a dance club: good music (provided by, among others, Edgeclub host DJ Merritt), good-looking men and women (clad in materials usually reserved for the interiors of cars) and the good chance that you'll see at least one person with a lot less clothing than he or she walked in with. The last part isn't exactly crucial for a dance club to be entertaining, but it sure doesn't hurt. Madonna tried to buy it at one point; how much more of an endorsement do you need?
Call us naïve, but we were shocked to learn the predominantly female audience at Melissa Etheridge's recent Fort Worth concert booed when she pulled a fan onstage to share a tequila shot...because she chose a man. Being of the male persuasion ourselves, we've always felt welcome at most of the area's lesbian clubs. We've heard tales that gay places like the gargantuan Village Station and Moby Dick aren't nearly as hospitable to women. Hell, there have been nights when the Station wasn't nearly as welcoming to us as, say, its next-door neighbor, Sue Ellen's. Over the years, Sue's has admirably maintained its balancing act of charming opposites--friendly but sorta elegant, universal but very specific in its identity, streamlined but able to hold a spill-over crowd. You can walk in dressed up or dressed down and feel right at home. And the small dance floor prevails as a place for socializing, not exhibiting your gym bod or your rhythmic skills. Maybe it's just the Cowtown gals who get pissy when a guy occasionally steps into the spotlight.
Some nights end badly. Some nights end with a public humiliation by the jackboot of the state in front of the teeming crowd of your peers, the assorted boozers and ecstasy-addled clubbers of Lower Greenville. After midnight you can witness the local cheese rousting belligerents on this corner, usually stuffing them into the white paddy wagon. The best part's the public frisk--always look for signs of amusement or disgust on the cop's face.