Wingspan Theatre

She might look like your benevolent aunt, but Anne Carlson is a pit bull. Her quiet but determined approach to uncovering the sleaze of City Hall politics is a refreshing change from the E-histrionics of Sharon Boyd or the eco-tinged good government babble of the Green Party types. They are her allies, but she puts the best foot forward with a more professional approach. She knows the fight isn't about herself but her issues, and she sticks to them tenaciously. As a champion of electoral reform and government ethics, she seldom misses an important meeting and always has coherent material to back her positions. Combine that efficiency with her smarts and even temper (even when goaded), and you have a badass gadfly who could possibly drive real change in Dallas politics. The odds are stacked against her, but hell, we can dream, can't we?

Hmmm...This category was impossible to nail, because we had to choose between the four-screen Inwood Theatre and the two-screen Cine. Both bring the latest in independent and foreign cinema to Dallas and are much appreciated by their patrons. Aesthetically, however, Inwood is tops. You have to give props to Landmark Cinema for keeping a beautiful vintage theater like Inwood in good working shape. But Inwood suffers in the comfort factor. The legroom upstairs leaves much to be desired. The Cine has more than enough legroom, and bless them for it, but lacks the architectural heritage (and full bar). Regardless, we're willing to deal with missing legroom to see our favorite films, and there is always something good at one of the two theaters. Until Landmark builds its proposed new mega-art house on McKinney, or the Lakewood dips full-tilt into the huge pool of edgier fare that never makes it to Dallas, these will be our haunts.

This was a tough category. Exactly how, we asked ourselves, should we judge Dallas' top news anchor? We finally nailed down our criterion: Whoever doesn't put us to sleep on the couch. Gloria Campos, practically a Dallas institution, has been around for a while, but she still fronts the most smoothly professional newscast in Dallas, even if it has gone softer in recent years by switching to a fuzzy, "Family First" focus. We're not going to chirp about how much we like her hair, make-up, or voice, but we think she's an engaging pro who has a genuine bond with her audience. While her handsome henchmen John McCaa and Scott Sams are both able TelePrompter readers (the three switch during the week), watch out when McCaa and Sams anchor the news together sans Campos! The Hunter-Brinkley thing just isn't working. We're catching Zs before weatherman Troy Duncan makes it onscreen.

Hurricane Harbor

Get real. Unless you're 12-going-on-13, the only place that promises around-the-clock cool is a seat that faces the window unit. But for those who insist on getting out into the summer sun without baking, Arlington's newest water park is hard to beat. Think a day at the beach with a little Disneyland thrown in--or as one comedian put it, you can think of it as a ride on the enema express.

No other jazz joint touches Sambuca in terms of atmosphere (which is pretty much what a jazz club is all about) and talent (which is everything else). It's dark, moody, and subtly lit, as if a fire were flickering somewhere underneath the floor; stepping into Sambuca is like walking into an underground jazz club in Paris in the 1940s, we imagine. While the "jazz" in some places is from the school of Kenny G, the lineup at Sambuca is the closest Dallas can get to Harlem in the '50s. OK, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But in comparison with everywhere else, Sambuca deserves the highest praise possible.

We've given The Rock grief for years, but like it or not, it's as rock-and-roll as a bar can get without slipping into a pair of leather pants and a conch belt. (Find any video by The Cult, and you'll see what we're talking about.) The joint, dubbed by its owners "the rock 'n' roll palace of downtown Dallas," actually had to include "rock" in its name. Can you beat that? Actually, yes, but one look at the wait staff, tricked out in acid-washed jeans and feathered hair, and you'll have a few second thoughts. The bands that play there (ASKA, for one) are across-the-board bad, but maybe we're just jealous because they rock so hard. Nah, couldn't be. In all seriousness, if you want the rock, well, you want The Rock.

Blue Goose Cantina

Chain-drive twin cams and fitments, fin area and piston cooling jets, crankcases, straight crank pins, bearing areas, reshaped combustion chambers, reworked exhaust, and intake ports and valves that optimize emissions efficiency and power output, single-fire ignition systems, glossy paint, and fast as hell. Pretty maids, all in a row. If these are a few of your favorite things, take a trip to Lower Greenville on any given Sunday. It's like bedlam when the bikers gun their hogs, so this is no place for the weak.

Sitting on Thai Soon's patio, it's hard to believe that the traffic on Greenville is just a few feet away. It's really quiet. Well, it's more quiet than you'd expect when you're close enough to read the odometers on slow-moving cars. A lattice covered in vines and plants surrounds the patio, shading it from the sun. Flowers and other stretching plants are nestled into the walls with birds occasionally dropping by to snatch up rice and egg-roll crumbs. The stone benches and tables stay cool in the afternoon, but the curry, rice, and noodle dishes are served hot and fresh.

When we arrived in town two decades ago, way back when Reunion had rowdies and there were more Von Erichs alive than dead, a lifelong resident told us that the only naturally beautiful thing in Dallas was White Rock Lake. We had two reactions to this statement: 1. Does this mean that Bambi Woods--who played the lead cheerleader in Debbie Does Dallas--really doesn't live here? and 2. You've gotta be kidding. Now we realize he was correct. There are topographically beautiful areas of town (Oak Cliff), impressive sights to see (uh, give us a minute...) and all that, but if you want to have a true at-one-with-nature experience, you must circle White Rock Lake. Preferably in jogging shorts, not in a car. Go at sunrise--sunset is a cluster-run of joggers and bikers--and talk to your inner child amid the dew, the view, and the hotties running next to you.

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