Of course, we have no harbor for the tall ships to float into. No signature bridges to decorate. No peaks or buttes to illuminate with fireworks. We are a seat of commerce, a maze of office buildings and malls stitched together by roads. So why not celebrate the reopening of our own Mother Road with a parade? What could be more fitting in a city where there are more cars than people? So make your own parade and drive it while it's congestion-free. We hear 2.5 million more people are on the way, and at least 1.25 million of them drive fat-assed Suburbans.

Of course, we have no harbor for the tall ships to float into. No signature bridges to decorate. No peaks or buttes to illuminate with fireworks. We are a seat of commerce, a maze of office buildings and malls stitched together by roads. So why not celebrate the reopening of our own Mother Road with a parade? What could be more fitting in a city where there are more cars than people? So make your own parade and drive it while it's congestion-free. We hear 2.5 million more people are on the way, and at least 1.25 million of them drive fat-assed Suburbans.

2000 Best of Dallas

The Observer debuted on August 20, 1980, for 50 cents an issue. Flipping through archival copies to glance at covers for the remainder of that year, we noticed prophetic places where the publication vaguely resembled its current incarnation: a story about the local consequences of the drought-stricken Texas summer and how scientists predict it will only get worse, and a piece about how Dallas televangelists and The New Right are working to get Ronald Reagan elected. Then there are topics that were unique to the young paper's personality--that essay about why singles at The Village Apartments are deciding to have less sex. (In the article, we are warned not to be fooled by the pouting, bikini-clad woman on a nearby billboard that says "MORE FUN" as she points to an apartment building).

Luckily, Dallas and Observer have evolved simultaneously into...well, we're still not sure. We just know that we wouldn't be able to fill our pages every week with such provocative people unless something was happening in this neck of the woods. For the "Best of Dallas" issue in 2000, the paper's 20th anniversary, we have revisited individuals who appeared on our cover throughout the past two decades. Played catch-up, asked for comparisons of then and now, explained how hindsight has allowed us to see what they contributed to the development of their specialties. Some, such as Stanley Marcus, are obvious and global; others, such as Russell Hobbs, who forged a Deep Ellum scene that still benefits developers, have played an even more crucial role than we first realized.

So, as you flip through these pages, ask yourself, "What was I doing 20 years ago?" (We were outside a pizza palace, puking up a sausage deluxe at our grade-school graduation party.)

Hopefully, you're in a better place now too.

-- Jimmy Fowler, Best of Dallas editor

In these highly litigious times when frivolous lawsuits are filed by too many lawyers clogging up too few courts, it's a rare judge that can remain even-handed as well as even-tempered. Hartman is part of that rare breed. Believing that talk is cheap and mediation is even cheaper, he is the most ardent proponent of alternative dispute resolution. His views on its propriety as a prelude to legal warfare have been adopted throughout the county. In recent years, he has been plagued by illness (Parkinson's disease). Lesser men would have succumbed to its ravages with growing impatience, but you can still get a fair hearing in his court, as well as a helping hand and a kind word. Judge Hartman still rides high in the Dallas Bar Association popularity contest known as the Bar poll, scoring in the 90 percentile range ever since he was a baby judge.

In these highly litigious times when frivolous lawsuits are filed by too many lawyers clogging up too few courts, it's a rare judge that can remain even-handed as well as even-tempered. Hartman is part of that rare breed. Believing that talk is cheap and mediation is even cheaper, he is the most ardent proponent of alternative dispute resolution. His views on its propriety as a prelude to legal warfare have been adopted throughout the county. In recent years, he has been plagued by illness (Parkinson's disease). Lesser men would have succumbed to its ravages with growing impatience, but you can still get a fair hearing in his court, as well as a helping hand and a kind word. Judge Hartman still rides high in the Dallas Bar Association popularity contest known as the Bar poll, scoring in the 90 percentile range ever since he was a baby judge.

At intermission during this remarkable, semi-autobiographical world premiere from resident playwright Linda Daugherty, a DCT official commented that Webb's unnerving submersion into the role of a Down's Syndrome teenager was especially striking, because "he's the pretty boy in the company." Generally speaking, we don't shower accolades on pretty performers just because they've decided to black out a tooth or revel in a disability just to prove their "range." Yet we were so startled by Webb's wet, gaping mouth, his half-sensical spray of speech, and the cursiveness with which he went from temper tantrums to eager hugs, that we attributed facial prosthetics that weren't there to the performance. This production was a difficult, even dangerous step for Webb and Dallas Children's Theatre as a whole. It was important that the kids in the audience be able to stare at his character and ask questions so they could be educated, yet similar cruel curiosity helps make life with a Down's person so arduous. How to indulge drama without encouraging a freak show atmosphere? All parties acquitted themselves beautifully, mostly because they were so honest about painful emotions. Webb reported some personal flinch-worthy moments when older children would laugh, but for the most part, the theater was silent as a graveyard when he shuffled onstage, fearlessly authentic.

At intermission during this remarkable, semi-autobiographical world premiere from resident playwright Linda Daugherty, a DCT official commented that Webb's unnerving submersion into the role of a Down's Syndrome teenager was especially striking, because "he's the pretty boy in the company." Generally speaking, we don't shower accolades on pretty performers just because they've decided to black out a tooth or revel in a disability just to prove their "range." Yet we were so startled by Webb's wet, gaping mouth, his half-sensical spray of speech, and the cursiveness with which he went from temper tantrums to eager hugs, that we attributed facial prosthetics that weren't there to the performance. This production was a difficult, even dangerous step for Webb and Dallas Children's Theatre as a whole. It was important that the kids in the audience be able to stare at his character and ask questions so they could be educated, yet similar cruel curiosity helps make life with a Down's person so arduous. How to indulge drama without encouraging a freak show atmosphere? All parties acquitted themselves beautifully, mostly because they were so honest about painful emotions. Webb reported some personal flinch-worthy moments when older children would laugh, but for the most part, the theater was silent as a graveyard when he shuffled onstage, fearlessly authentic.

Sometimes putting your money where your mouth is...doesn't taste very good. But not all the time. Sure, multimillionaire Scott Ginsburg has used his considerable shekels to assemble a world-class wine list (1981 Chateau Haut-Brion is served by the glass in the bar) and a stunning array of knickknacks. (They include an exploding dish chandelier by lighting designer Ingo Mauer and a bullet-proof glass case cradling a collection of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.) But if great bottles and swell gimcracks made great restaurants, Woolworth's lunch counter would not have faded away. You gotta have tasty hors d'oeuvres to go with all that eye candy. Or at least tasty liver sans onions (which Voltaire does, only they call it foie gras). There are those rare moments while dining when you slip a forkful of food into your mouth and time stops, or least your Hyundai payments do (Voltaire isn't cheap). This is what eating at Voltaire was like on two occasions months ago. The food was perfectly prepared, the sauces well orchestrated, and the plates brilliantly assembled. But then the restaurant was afflicted with serious stumbles, most notably with service. Missteps spread to the cuisine when Executive Chef George Papadopoulos diverted his focus from the kitchen to grease the gears grinding in the front of the house. All those shortcomings have been smoothed over, however, and Voltaire is once again as good as it was. Now if we could only find some money to put this tasty cuisine in our mouth.

Sometimes putting your money where your mouth is...doesn't taste very good. But not all the time. Sure, multimillionaire Scott Ginsburg has used his considerable shekels to assemble a world-class wine list (1981 Chateau Haut-Brion is served by the glass in the bar) and a stunning array of knickknacks. (They include an exploding dish chandelier by lighting designer Ingo Mauer and a bullet-proof glass case cradling a collection of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.) But if great bottles and swell gimcracks made great restaurants, Woolworth's lunch counter would not have faded away. You gotta have tasty hors d'oeuvres to go with all that eye candy. Or at least tasty liver sans onions (which Voltaire does, only they call it foie gras). There are those rare moments while dining when you slip a forkful of food into your mouth and time stops, or least your Hyundai payments do (Voltaire isn't cheap). This is what eating at Voltaire was like on two occasions months ago. The food was perfectly prepared, the sauces well orchestrated, and the plates brilliantly assembled. But then the restaurant was afflicted with serious stumbles, most notably with service. Missteps spread to the cuisine when Executive Chef George Papadopoulos diverted his focus from the kitchen to grease the gears grinding in the front of the house. All those shortcomings have been smoothed over, however, and Voltaire is once again as good as it was. Now if we could only find some money to put this tasty cuisine in our mouth.

Best play with a local setting that you may never see in Dallas

Killer Joe by Tracy Letts

Set in a trailer park on the outskirts of Dallas, this dark little play that won awards and rave reviews off-Broadway revolves around a dysfunctional family determined to have Momma bumped off so Worthless Son can get together some quick insurance money to pay off a drug debt. When you need a job like that done fast and efficiently, whom do you call? A Dallas cop (played in the original New York production by Scott Glenn) with a busy off-the-clock sideline that has earned him the nickname "Killer Joe." The author's mom, successful novelist Billie Letts (Where the Heart Is), says of her boy, "Everybody in Tracy's stories gets naked or dead." A fascinating evening in the theater unless you work for the Dallas police or the Chamber of Commerce.

Best Of Dallas®