Before besting a miserable field in District 8, James Fantroy told constituents at a debate this spring at Singing Hills Recreation Center that people in his district are worried about being poisoned by water siphoned specifically to South Oak Cliff from the spill-infested Lake Tawakoni. Paranoia is always one of our favorite traits in an elected official. It's even more fun when it's spiked with racial overtones. No wonder nobody votes in this town. It's kind of a logical choice to simply bag it and go to a movie.

Dallas Museum of Art

The DMA does not win by default. Dallas' one and only combines the best aspects of art museums from across the metroplex. It has the regional art and historical objects of the Amon Carter and Kimbell. It showcases new talent and cutting-edge, contemporary works as do the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Arlington Museum of Art. Its large, continuously displayed permanent collection puts it over the top, allowing it to highlight acquisitions in special-themed exhibits and retrospectives. Plus it looks ahead with community-centered exhibits (Dallas Perspectives on Art and Religion, its home companion to Seeing God: Art and Ritual Around the World) and its Concentrations series, which has focused on young artists such as Annette Lawrence, Shirin Neshat, and Richard Patterson.

If you had bought Theatre de Marionette season tickets for the little ones this year, you could have assured them of seeing fun, professionally done, European-style puppet performances of such kiddie classics as Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin & His Lamp, Peter Pan, and The Littlest Angel. This is not Freddie the Clown or Howdy Doody stuff. Russian puppetry artist Tina Gromova, who toured Eastern Europe and Asia with the renowned Moscow Puppet Theater, is this year's headliner. Recommended for kids 3-4 years old and up. Individual tickets are still available: $8 for adults, $7 for children.

Undermain Theatre stalwart Bruce DuBose excels at roles in which self-absorption can be easily confused for intensity. Onstage, he's often as serenely soporific as one of his voiceovers for KERA Channel 13 or a truck company, and veteran theatergoers have grown so accustomed to his rich-throated narcotic stylings, they forget that the role can be played in a way not dependent on Nyquil chic. Imagine our surprise when we discovered what has been a widely known phenomenon in the Dallas theater scene for quite a while--DuBose's tendency to pitch major, lung-blasting hissy fits with little provocation. Late last year, we called DuBose at home--he'd given us the number a couple years ago--to invite him to lunch, with the expressed intent to nail down those rumors about the Undermain Theatre's uncertain future. Straight out of the gate, DuBose's voice was a self-righteous sneer ("We're not interested in addressing rumors"), but it quickly gathered into a thunderhead tantrum of adolescent bohemian outrage. Why, he wanted to know, were we calling people at home? Because messages left at the Undermain office are not returned. We, in turn, asked why calls weren't answered, and why press releases weren't sent out to help us inform the public of the Undermain's status. "I don't consider the Observer press!" (get in line on that one, Bruce) was not the corker of the short conversation. That would have to be: "Why should we conform?!" The yelling made his sentences incomprehensible, so we had to hang up on him. The Undermain's imminent displacement after 16 years of excellence is truly tragic, but to have one of its founders represent the company's legacy with such petulance is confounding.

Best Place to Attend a non-stuffy book-signing

Dick's Last Resort

Dick's Last Resort

For several years now, Dick's has been doing its part to promote local authors with book-signing parties that are really parties. No boring "readings," no scholarly lectures allowed upstairs where the highly successful gatherings are held. Just lots of friendly mingling, munchies, cash bar, the opportunity to purchase the latest by a local writer and, most important, a good time.

Recycled is more like a library than a bookstore these days. There's no high-priced coffee bar or a section to purchase book accessories such as the Itty Bitty Booklight or stainless steel bookmarks. Instead, it smells like old books. That's because every room, level, nook, cranny, and minute space is filled with tomes, novels, and volumes. Size and quantity, however, don't make Recycled great. It's the selection. This oasis on the Denton courthouse square is the main selling spot for students and professors at the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University. (Denton's other bookstores concentrate on the more lucrative business of college texts.) This gives the selection more diverse and worldly flair than most used bookstores and makes it well worth the drive and an afternoon of browsing.

Best evidence that the local music scene is better than Austin's (Despite what Texas Monthly says)

The Adventures of Jet, Baboon, The Baptist Generals, Budapest One, Captain Audio, Centro-matic, Chomsky, Corn Mo, Darlington, [DARYL], Todd Deatherage, The Deathray Davies, Dixie Witch, 41 Gorgeous Blocks, every band John Freeman is in, Fury III, The Hundred Inevitables, Last Beat Records, Legendary Crystal Chandelier, Lewis, Lift to Experience, Little Grizzly, Lo-Fi Chorus, The Lucky Pierres, Lucy Loves Schroeder, Mandarin, The New Year, The Paper Chase, Pleasant Grove, Pinkston, The Polyphonic Spree, Quality Park Records, Red Animal War, The Riverboat Gamblers, The Rocket Summer, Shells, Slobberbone, Stumptone, Sub Oslo, The Toadies, Union Camp, Vibrolux, When Babies Eat Pennies, Wiring Prank, Yeti. And there's more where these came from.

God bless D. They tried. Really. You can tell they made a serious effort in this April's issue, with its focus on the local music scene. Well, you can tell they made a serious effort thinking about doing a local music issue. Let's put it this way: Any magazine that claims it's going to prove why Dallas is better for music and musicians than Austin, then puts on its cover, as an example, Sara Hickman (a musician who has lived in Austin for years), is in way over its head. As for the rest of the issue, going into Deep Ellum one night a year does not count as local music coverage. Make it two nights, and then we'll talk.

Barnett graces After Dark on Cedar Springs with her vocal gifts and presence on Saturday and Sunday nights. Her loyal fans are much happier for it. This powerhouse knows when to belt out a song and when to keep her voice soft and whispery. She's at her best when warbling jazzy, upbeat tunes. Somehow you can't help but feel lighter on this planet when you listen to her sing. Check out her happy, breezy version of "Pennies from Heaven" to see what we mean.

This haven of artistic talent just across the Trinity in Southern Dallas is named after the artist who we'd seen paint a mural in a Lutheran church many, many years ago. It was astounding. His wife opened a gallery in March 1997. All the pieces are eye-catching, and there's a lot to eyeball--anywhere from 30-50 artists' work is on exhibition. There are sculptures in wood and carvings and figurines. The owners host several small art shows each year and one major exhibition in the fall.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of