Arts & Entertainment

  • CULTURE: Whore Wars

    Not so long ago, down the highway apiece in the town of LaGrange, there was a place called the Chicken Ranch that had nothing to do with laying eggs but a whole lot to do with getting laid. For decades it operated as an illegal bordello where bad-boy politicians could get done to them what they were doing to constituents,… More >>
  • Best Buried Outlaw

    Clyde Barrow, Western Heights Cemetery

    The final resting place of notorious outlaw Clyde Barrow and his brother Buck is located just west of downtown on Fort Worth Avenue, mere minutes away from the glittering, soulless façades of the New Dallas (cough, cough, W Hotel, cough, cough). Sure, Old Clyde wasn't the best behaved of fellows, but living in this town you have to admit that… More >>
  • Best Reason to Outlaw Skating

    The Rise of Roller Derby

    Someone in Austin is gonna pay for this. When the all-female roller derby leagues of Central Texas reared their heads during our college days, we thought it was novel enough--after all, we almost went to a match once to catch And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Thankfully, we abstained, so we can't count ourselves responsible for… More >>
  • Best Fake Mayoral Candidate Promise

    Putting Big Tex on Top of Reunion Tower

    When Mayor Laura Miller announced that she wouldn't seek re-election, speculation about who might succeed her spread like a West Texas grassfire, prompting the men of KTCK's The Hardline to ask: Why not Mike Rhyner? When the beloved radio host was asked that afternoon what platform he might run on, the Old Gray Wolf responded with a stroke of political… More >>
  • Best Home Tour

    Summer Strut

    In only two years, the Summer Strut Home Tour, which takes place in early June, has leapt to the top of the list in this otherwise moribund category of entertainment. After all, how long can you really stay interested in Swiss Avenue? Sponsored by the AIDS Resource Center, the Summer Strut so far has presented tours in the Turtle Creek… More >>
  • Best Newscasts

    WFAA-Channel 8, 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

    What's going on with investigative TV reporting lately? For a while KTVT-Channel 11 had pulled ahead of WFAA's News 8 with a consistent string of hard-hitting, well-reported stories on local government and politics. What happened on 11? Recently their biggies were "New cameras can change the way you look," "Katie Couric's day in Texas" and, our favorite mind-boggling exposé, "Schools… More >>
  • Best TV News Anchor

    John McCaa, co-anchor, News 8

    John McCaa is a serious person. He has a master's degree in politics from the University of Dallas (not easy to get) and has been at WFAA since 1984, with a solid history of street reporting behind him. But look, how do you judge news anchoring, as opposed to news news? Let's be honest, McCaa is this year's best anchor… More >>
  • Best Radio Station (Tie)

    KHYI-95.3 FM, The Range KTCK-1310 AM, The Ticket

    Outlaw country and baseball chat--what's next, an award for our fave bait shop? Not really, and this shouldn't insinuate that other genres aren't doing well on Dallas' dial; the heated battle between KBFB-97.9 FM (The Beat) and KKDA-104 FM (K104) is good news for mainstream rap fans, and KNTU-88.1 FM delivers more worthwhile, bop-era jazz than most stations in the… More >>
  • Best Southern Sector Radio Show

    Liberation Nation with John Wiley Price

    Want to know what's going on politically in the southern sector? Or all the sectors, for that matter? Well, heck, you've got the top elected official in southern Dallas talking about it every week on the radio. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price spices his show with humor and leavens it with uplift, but then he also just goes off… More >>
  • Best Fired DJ

    Frank Hejl

    Since we take pride in celebrating local failures, we're honored to shine our Best of spotlight on Frank Hejl, the former KNTU DJ who hasn't seen a microphone with proper wattage since May. The creator and voice behind Frequency Down lost his job (an unpaid one, no less) after airing an uncensored version of "Shake It Off," a song by… More >>
  • Best Radio DJ

    Tom Urquhart

    As the quality of musical radio dries up, the search for a great local DJ becomes ever more desperate. Really, if an on-air personality doesn't have the right combination of personality, humor and taste, then why bother ejecting the car tape adapter for our iPods? Thankfully, Tom Urquhart nails that combination every Sunday at 9 p.m. with The Good Show,… More >>
  • Best Club DJ

    DJ Nature

    Denton's DJ Nature calls each of his gigs "The Party" for a reason. Whether he's spinning on Friday nights at Zubar or forcing his hometown hipsters to stay up late on Wednesdays at Rubber Gloves, Nature packs rooms with the freshest live mixes in town. And we don't mean "fresh" as slang--his whirlwind blends of baile funk, indie rock and… More >>
  • Best Local Stand-up Comic

    Corey Sutton

    Some comics are like grizzly bears, assailing their prey with vicious jokes. Others are like weasels, slyly creeping up on their targets before quietly taking them out with evil sarcasm. Corey Sutton is more like a puppy, all innocence and fluff until he takes a great big verbal pee right in the middle of your comfort zone. Sutton's got a… More >>
  • Best Daily Newspaper Columnist

    Scott Burns, The Dallas Morning News

    Practical but adventurous, logical but entertaining, business columnist Scott Burns made reading about boring stuff like retirement savings, estate planning and buying the perfect used Airstream trailer a lot of fun. OK, if not fun, then interesting. Burns was not part of the financial establishment, so he had no vested interests, almost impossible in the business of financial advice where… More >>
  • Best Local CD Release

    The Theater Fire

    Is there a better way to describe the Theater Fire than "the Fort Worth sound"? It's the phrase co-songwriter Curtis Glenn Heath picks when asked about the "border sound" tag the band has received countless times, thanks to its blend of mariachi and country. But there's more than a mix of classic AM radio signals at work on Everybody Has… More >>
  • Best Hateful Computer Columnist

    Dr. Emilio Bombay

    Nobody wants their tech support guy to be evil. It's emasculating enough that you can't make that 279-Error window go away, but does the guy really have to act like it's just so freaking easy? Dr. Emilio Bombay, the Star-Telegram's computer columnist, would likely answer a hearty "Yes!" to that question, followed by a long tirade about how you are,… More >>
  • Best DMN critic

    David Dillon, ex-Dallas Morning News

    An insightful writer in spite of--or perhaps because of--his reflective hatred of everything suburban, Dallas Morning News architecture critic David Dillon was a must-read in a city that is rapidly redefining how it looks. As new high-rises sprang up overnight, Dillon deftly cataloged the good, the bad and the sprawling, often making you wish planners had bothered to consult him… More >>
  • Best Political Blogger

    Michael Davis

    Although he would hate to be referred to as the conscience of southern Dallas, Michael Davis has claimed the holy ground between the unethical and hapless political leadership of the southern sector and their bigoted and hypocritical detractors. A smart blogger whose reporting on city events is often a step or two ahead of the lumbering Dallas Morning News, Davis… More >>
  • Best Local Guilty Pleasure Blog

    Although the formula for pop culture blogs is relatively simple--a mix of embarrassing photos, a little gossip and quick, bitchy put-downs--few people know how to do it really well. Some try to make their pop culture blog a scholarly treatise on entertainment, while others try to reinvent themselves as the next Janet Maslin (the New York Times' notoriously picky culture… More >>
  • Best Book Reviewer

    Dr. Lurline Morrow

    Dallas supports a strange and wonderful little industry of professional book reviewers. Not the ones who read a new best-seller and type 500 words of yay or nay. These folks perform the books. At churches, country clubs and women's luncheon groups, the book reviewers bring their tomes alive. More than 75 times this year Dr. Lurline Morrow, currently one of… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Metrognome Collective - CLOSED

    Rising gas prices be damned, bands from across the country still fill their van tanks with enough unleaded to reach our city's rock clubs. But with no money left over for a booking agent, how's an upstart band supposed to find a decent place to play? Surprisingly, the area has a few booming do-it-yourself venues that are happy to accommodate,… More >>
  • Best Hipster Art

    Art Prostitute

    At a time when restaurants, music venues and other generally sane business owners were running with tails tucked between legs away from Deep Ellum (or being shuffled out by landlords owed back rent), the Art Prostitute Gallery bravely took up residence in a ground floor loft on the east end of Commerce. Mark Searcy moved his gallery south from Denton,… More >>
  • Best Onscreen Unwind by Blockdot

    Normally, we'd log onto before we'd pick up our PlayStation 2 controller, but that's just because we're bored with our games. We've played them a hundred times over, and we're typically too lazy to pull out the DDR mat. But we've discovered something that tops surfing bulletins and hoping you have a "New Messages!" alert: Blockdot, the Dallas-based… More >>
  • Best Secret Waiting to Happen

    Stone Street Theatre - CLOSED

    A night out at this new downtown theater might find you in the middle of an adult clown act or an evening of Cole Porter. Comedy and cabaret rule at this small, elegant theater tucked between Campisi's and the Thomas and Leggitt Tavern on Main and Stone Streets. While Stone is more of an alley than street, you walk in… More >>
  • Best Cheap Date

    Cool Thursdays

    For three months every summer, stingy but smart 20- and 30-something couples pack a picnic and a bottle of wine and head to White Rock Lake for the free concert series, Cool Thursdays. Actually, the series is not exactly free and it takes place at the Dallas Arboretum, but you can hear the bands just fine on the freeloading side… More >>
  • Best-Looking Apartment Complex

    South Side on Lamar

    For the thousands of harried night commuters glancing at the illuminated signage of the stately South Side on Lamar apartment building, urban living has to seem awfully tempting. Instead of living in a garden-variety gated apartment or soulless McMansion, you could hang your hat in a stylish-looking set of rooms that is almost universally described as cool. Despite its massive… More >>
  • Best Karma Balance to the Bush Library

    Embrey Human Rights Education Program

    With a $1 million grant from the Embrey Family Foundation, human rights activist and educator Dr. Rick Halperin fulfills his longtime dream to bring more attention and more students to the study of human rights. With this four-year grant, Halperin, recently elected to his third term as chair of Amnesty International USA, will offer new classes on the topic in… More >>
  • Best Annual Charity Benefit Concert

    Special Care & Career Services

    Special Care & Career Services supports children, adults and families with developmental disabilities by providing key services to Dallas, Collin and Denton counties with two age-determined programs: Early Childhood Intervention and Supported Employment Services. In addition to the great work they provide to the community, they also offer an annual concert that has proven to be a smashing success year… More >>
  • Best Theater

    Dallas Children's Theater

    Time Magazine calls it one of the top five professional theaters for kids in the nation. But at any performance in the gorgeous, audience-friendly acting spaces at the 58,000-square-foot Rosewood Center for Family Arts, more than half the crowd will be happy grown-ups, many seeing the show without any children in tow. That's how good they are here. Founded by… More >>
  • Best Theater Company

    Kitchen Dog Theater

    Now in its 16th season presenting plays they hope will "provoke, challenge and amaze" (according to their mission statement), Kitchen Dog Theater, founded by SMU theater grads, is one of the few local theaters to host a full company of artists. Some 29 actors, directors, designers and playwrights comprise KDT's professional company, making for a diverse and exciting artistic family.… More >>
  • Best Theater Director

    Cheryl Denson

    Actors trust Cheryl Denson, a longtime Dallas theater actor and now a much in-demand director. She's not a crack-the-whip type, doesn't bury herself in trivial research, never screams at the slackers. She just gets it done, making the process a lot of fun. An expert with comedies but no slouch with musicals and dramas, Denson, a Baylor grad with an… More >>
  • Best Local Actress

    Heather Henry

    In Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at the Bath House, she was Roberta, desperately needy and starved for a sexual connection with somebody, anybody. In A Moon for the Misbegotten at Circle Theatre, she was Josie, an Irish-American pig farmer's wife, desperately needy and starved forÉwell, you see the pattern. Playing beautiful but quirky women with a certain seething… More >>
  • Best Local Actor

    Ian Leson

    If you bought a ticket to any Dallas theater this past year, you probably saw Ian Leson onstage. The guy worked everywhere, getting roles he admits put him on an enviable hot streak. First, Bug, a sell-out at Kitchen Dog with Leson playing a meth-crazed guy holed up stark naked in a motel room. Then Living Out at WaterTower, as… More >>
  • Best Theater Newcomer

    Clay Yocum

    Onstage he burns with the sexy intensity of a young Marlon Brando (head shaved Colonel Kurtz-style), the subtle passion of Ed Harris and sometimes the borderline serial killer rage of Kevin Spacey at his scariest. Standing still, Clay Yocum, 29, is the most interesting actor on any stage and the best young thesp to come this way in years. In… More >>
  • Best Theater Heartthrob

    Gary Floyd

    It's impossible to listen to Gary Floyd sing without smiling. Just can't happen. Long one of Dallas' favorite singer-songwriters, Gary has set hearts aflutter at local nightclubs and piano bars for years with his laid-back charm and velvety voice. He has released five splendid CDs featuring original tracks, cover songs and Christmas music. A favorite is 2004's Unbound, which lays… More >>
  • Best Local Awards Show

    The Column Awards

    With so many awards shows becoming drawn-out snoozefests, the night of theater honors called the Column Awards offers a much-needed change of pace. The creation of actor/blogger John Garcia, this zippy event honors excellence throughout the DFW theatrical community. The winners are determined not by stuffy committees but by the subscribers to Garcia's biweekly blog, The Column. With some 8,000… More >>
  • Best Free Opera

    Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition

    Easily the best-kept secret in the tony local opera enclave is the annual vocal competition for up-and-coming singers sponsored by The Dallas Opera Guild. Usually held in mid- to late March at Gooch Auditorium at UT Southwestern Medical Center, the competition was founded nearly 20 years ago to aid in the development of young opera singers. The auditions are open… More >>
  • Best Acting School

    KD Studio Actors Conservatory

    KD Studio doesn't just teach actors how to hit their marks and not bump into the furniture. It's a place to study acting as craft and profession. Seriously. For 26 years, KD Studio has been training professional actors for stage, film and television and is one of the few accredited, degree-granting conservatories outside of New York or Los Angeles. The… More >>
  • Best Talent Agency

    The Horne Agency

    They say you gotta have a gimmick in showbiz. Well, a gimmick and an agent. The Horne Agency is a full-service, SAG-franchised talent agency representing adults and children in movies, television, commercials, industrials, radio, print and live performances. The agency, owned by co-founder Suzanne Horne, is a member of AFTRA/Screen Actor's Guild, Women in Film, Texas Association of Film/Tape Professionals… More >>
  • Best Intermission Edibles

    Theatre Britain

    Sure, their productions are terrific. Producer-actress Sue Birch and her loverly casts get giggly with British bedroom farces and raise the roof with shows such as the sexed-up Shakespeare they did last season. But adding to the big fun at Theatre Britain's stagings at Trinity River Arts Center are the delicious British intermish noshes. Brought over from the British Emporium… More >>
  • Best Theatrical Comeback

    Theatre Three

    For years this has been the fossil farm of Dallas theater, the place where old plays, old actors and even older subscribers go to take naps. But this year, something happened at this dusty little theater-in-the-square. They woke up and started casting young, attractive, exciting-to-watch actors such as Lynn Blackburn, Ashley Wood, Gary Floyd and David Brown. Artistic director Jac… More >>
  • Best Rockin' Reality Babe

    Zayra Alvarez

    Rock Star: Supernova was the brainchild of Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, who invited two other washed-up former "legends" to follow in the tattooed footsteps of INXS, who picked a new singer in the first season of this CBS talent contest. Making an immediate splash in the first week of the second season was Puerto Rican-born Dallas resident Zayra Alvarez.… More >>
  • Best Christmas Decorations

    Beverly Drive, Highland Park

    Time was we used to motor the kids over there in the van during the holiday season to see the Santa sticking out of the second-story window like a burglar caught in the act. Then the kids grew up, and for the next few years we drove the dog over there on Christmas Eve because she liked to bark at… More >>
  • Best Blog (That Isn't Named Unfair Park, Suckers)


    Absolutely, now that we're in the blogging biz, we're gonna insist till our dying breaths (any second they come...) that Unfair Park's as good as it gets. But we're kidding no one, right? We're still new to the game, and D's been at it for years; we'd be arrogant fools (like FrontBurner--so kidding) to lay claim to the title… More >>
  • Best Local Music Website

    The Fine Line

    It's 2006. Everybody, their mom, their mom's mechanic and their dog have a blog. We've already heard all the hype about the democratization of information. The citizen reporter. What does it all mean? That some dude in Topeka can write an entry every day about advancements in drill technology? That some anonymous jerk in Fargo can opine about bands that,… More >>
  • Best Use
    of Taxpayer Dollars

    The Calatrava Bridges

    What are we smoking, you ask? Uh...we'll take the Fifth on that one, but stay with us on this bridge thing. There's reason in our madness. See, we figure that regardless of what Dallas voters want or need, the city council will always have some large, pointless, high-dollar bauble on its priority list. They're like parakeets: They need something shiny… More >>
  • Best Category We Forgot

    And our readers pick....

    We asked your opinions on this one, and except for the usual load of ballot stuffers--you know who you are--we received any number of different answers. A couple of people suggested some version of "Best Fight Against Corporate America" for local coffeehouse Standard & Pours' trademark battle against financial services giant Standard & Poor's. (See our best coffeehouse entry). Oddly,… More >>
  • Best City Council Member

    Mitchell Rasansky, District 13

    A certain testosterone-influenced contingent at the Observer would give Angela Hunt the nod for this award, and while she's a good council representative, our heart--as opposed to other body parts--belongs to Mitchell. Why? He's rich, so he's beholden to no one; his business is development, so he actually knows something about how the city works, or doesn't work; he treats… More >>
  • Best Design on a Dime

    R. Keith Petersen Design

    Do you believe that a space can be aesthetically pleasing and still serve a purpose? Do you believe that good design can be achieved on a limited budget? Architectural designer Keith Petersen does, and damn, are we glad to hear it from someone local and not on HGTV. Petersen has taken the plunge and gone into business for himself. His… More >>
  • Best Local Comic Book Writer

    David Hopkins

    English teacher by day, comic book writer by night, David Hopkins creates true-to-life characters with remarkable powers that sometimes even they don't understand. The Arlington native released his second series, Emily Edison, through Irving's Viper Comics last summer. Though Emily is a story about a teenage super-heroine geared toward an all-ages audience, Hopkins didn't scrimp on the real-life drama in… More >>
  • Best Live Band

    The Polyphonic Spree

    Want to complain that the Polyphonic Spree has an unfair advantage in this category? Go right ahead. List all of the factors that make the Spree lopsided candidates, from the surplus of members (up to roughly 170 now, and that's not including the lion tamer...kidding) to the major-label support of Hollywood Records, to even the band's infrequent local gigs, and… More >>
  • Best Nurturer of Nature

    Jennifer Morgan

    We've said it before on Unfair Park: To look at a painting by Jennifer Morgan is to be embraced by the artist herself. The incredibly prolific painter has an insane knack for putting herself into each of her works. And neither that skill, nor her raw talent, has gone anywhere despite a transformation in Morgan's work. Over the last year… More >>
  • Best Soul Glow

    Hal Samples

    A good portrait is hard to come by. Olan Mills and its smoky, swirly backdrops just don't cut it. No, environmental portraiture and a more natural expression is so the way to go. A person hanging out in normal surroundings will interact with the camera, not act for it. Conversely, a bride seated on a swing set, or someplace more… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Alone
    in a Crowd

    State Fair of Texas

    Come on, do you really want anyone you know to see you gobbling down that third Fletcher's Corny Dog? That's just one of many reasons to wander the vast fairgrounds unaccompanied. It's so much more fun to hit the State Fair on your own than to have to constantly be negotiating: New cars or Polynesian dancers? The cover band at… More >>

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