Best Of :: People & Places
North Oak Cliff combines all of the best parts of Austin with none of Highland Park's pretense or the West Village's douchebaggery. Instead of cookie-cutter tract housing, the oak-lined streets are populated with Tudors and craftsman bungalows like a sprawling mosaic. Depending on your location, your neighbor is rehabbing a Spanish Eclectic or chilling in his front yard, bare-chested, drinking beer, listening to conjunto and waving at you. Take a walk or a short drive and you'll find three-dollar Maker's shots and the best smoked brisket in town at Lockhart Smokehouse, a delicious licuado de fresa at El Jordan Cafe, or legendary mac 'n' cheese at Oddfellows. Used to be, people worked on one side of the river and lived on the other. Then everyone moved to Plano. Now North Oak Cliff is on the rise. Of all the neighborhoods in Dallas, it feels most like home.
Forget the women up around Northwest Highway — the ones "working their way through college" or whatever. The best stripping act we've seen for years in Dallas came last year when Erykah Badu strolled up to Dealey Plaza and stripped with a purpose at the spot where John F. Kennedy was killed. Oh yeah, then she died (metaphorically, on film). The act was shot as the music video for "Window Seat," the lead single off of Badu's brilliant New Amerykah Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh, and the message was a simple stab at the world we live in: If we let society look through us, if we let others dictate our actions, if we're too scared to show our true selves to the world, then we're killing the best parts about us. The Dallas Police Department didn't think it was a very powerful statement: They slapped Badu with a $500 fine for disorderly conduct after a single complainant, after the video was released (and months after it was filmed), came forward. Our stance? Dallas could use more daring and provocative types like Badu. Progress shouldn't draw a fine.
"Hotel art" is a phrase that makes many cringe because, well, there's a whole lot of underwhelming abstract prints and landscape scenes to be seen in most hotels. But the Belmont is just too cool for bad art, and that's why the hotel displays art from local talents on the walls of the lobby in their Art with a View series. The hotel has always been a hip destination for poolside parties and now even pop-up shops, but Art with a View brings a certain refinement to the kitschy hotel.
We don't think we'd offend local NBC affiliate KXAS-TV news anchor Jane McGarry if we called her a cougar — mostly, we think, because she seems to know she is and embrace it. Such is especially true in the social media world of Twitter, where McGarry uses her fairly dirty mind to express herself — and pretty much never on the topic of news. Where would she find the time, between sending flirty tweets to KTCK-AM 1310 The Ticket radio personality Gordon Keith and D Magazine editor Tim Rogers, and flippant innuendo after flippant innuendo? Not long ago she tweeted about a producer pointing out "poles" on the news set. Then she tweeted — and, for reasons we're not altogether sure about, with a winking emoticon — about somehow losing her skirt somewhere. Are we reading too much into this? We don't think so. And, before you accuse us, no, we're not jealous of the other media types getting her attention, either. We just prefer to watch.
They say Deep Ellum is Dallas' premiere neighborhood for music. Well, "they" must never travel down to the just-east-of-downtown neighborhood during the day. With its classic brick wall backdrops, splashy murals and — get this — buildings that are more than 10 years old, Deep Ellum's greatest export these days is most likely its wedding photography. Every single day, it seems, another couple can be seen, dressed in tux and white gown, following a hip-looking, camera-toting cat around the neighborhood, looking for romantic — yet undeniably urban — settings for their wedding photo collections. It's easy to understand why: Shooting your wedding photos in this setting says, "Hey, we're cool! We don't just get our music from Starbucks. Hell, we probably even have tattoos!" True or not, that's a sentiment people like to express about themselves.
Because it's The Mansion. What? You were gonna say something else? Let's hear it then. Didn't think so. Next.