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 brick faade, the South Side manages to look friendly and engaging, cutting a distinctive figure in a city where just about every other apartment looks like it came off an old Soviet assembly line. Every city has a short list of buildings that define its character. The towering South Side stands out amid the nighttime sheen of Dallas' empty glass towers.
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 SMU's Dedman College, invite human rights scholars to campus and take students abroad to see up-close where historic genocides were committed (he recently guided a group to Rwanda and will return to Poland in December for an annual pilgrimage to the sites of Nazi death camps). This year's winner of SMU's top teaching award, Halperin has a reputation as a tough but fair professor whose classes change hearts and minds (not an easy task in W-loving environs). "If students want a world without torture, terrorism, genocide and other human rights violations, they must be prepared to become both better-educated and active in the struggle for social justice and human decency," Halperin says. At a school expected to erect a multimillion-dollar library for a war-starting prez, it's good to see some bucks being used to teach peace.
Matt's Rancho Martinez
Taryn Walker
A friend once said, "Well, you know it's a good patio if my mother will sit there." She went on to discuss the cool temperatures, ease of seating and the lively but not too intrusive atmosphere required to appease her high-maintenance madre. We had one in mind, but she had already begun to confirm, "She'll really only sit on the patio at Matt's." Matt's Rancho Martinez has been a long-time provider of mouth-watering Tex-Mex to the residents of Lakewood and beyond, but over the years, the restaurant's patio has become a beloved place to experience said mouth-watering. Festive lights, ample shade and rustic tables offer a homey feel and Old World vibe while the cold beer and hot food are nothing but fresh.
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 after year. The key is the tremendous diversity of the talent. Staged at the Meyerson Symphony Center, recent benefit concerts have included knockout performances from a deliciously wide range of musical stars, from Tony Bennett to k.d. lang to Tom Jones. The legendary Ray Charles gave one of his most memorable performances at the 2003 event just months before his passing. Plans are already well under way for the 2007 concert on April 1, again at the Meyerson.
Lee Harvey's
There are many bars you can go to around town if you're looking to hook up. Of course, the blaring music, exorbitant drink prices and plethora of douchebags in striped button-down shirts may make it a challenging task, but it can be done. Enter a revolution in the bar scene: a cool, cheap dive known for great music, a diverse crowd and an excellent name. Lee Harvey's. Take a stroll through Lee Harvey's giant front yard one breezy weekend evening. If you meander around the picnic tables, listening to the live band tear it up in the distance, you'll note one important thing. You might actually meet somebody at this bar. Outdoor seating--and Lee's has plenty of it--just makes people friendlier. So does a bucket of Lone Star for your hottie of choice and his or her friends. In no time, you'll be enjoying the benefits of an outdoor romance, no matter what the temperature. If it's cold, you can snuggle up around one of Lee Harvey's outdoor fires. If it's hot, well, we may need to head home a little early, since that tank top just looks so, so very constricting.
You'll spot her dressed in expensive workout clothes as she comes in search of yogurt-covered pecans, free-range chicken and organic strawberries. She looks a little harried and more than a little forlorn. Her husband is working late while her kids are easily placated with a frozen pizza from Minyard's. She's not here for anyone but herself, looking for fresh produce and lean turkey so she can retain her youthful figure. Not that he'll notice, but that won't stop her from trying. The Whole Foods Market on Lower Greenville offers the freshest grapefruit juice, the richest chocolate, a range of natural foods and some of the best-looking older women in Dallas, many of whom seem like they're looking for love in all the organic places. Maybe it's Whole Foods' close proximity to Lakewood or the surrounding M Streets neighborhood, or perhaps the allure of Lower Greenville reminds many a MILF of a more exciting period in their lives, but this particular natural grocery store brings all the girls to the yard.
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 Robyn Flatt (daughter of Dallas Theater Center pioneer Paul Baker), DCT goes all out on every production, casting the best actors, using top directors and spending what it takes to make shows artistically masterful. While other theaters struggle to sell tickets, DCT plays to packed houses, garnering international acclaim (they took their tour version of The Stinky Cheese Man to China this month for the 2006 Shanghai International Children's Culture and Arts Expo). In their theater education classes, they're developing young theater lovers, for which all theaters should be eternally grateful. Financially, it's in great shape too. And they do have eyes for talent. Emerson Collins, who co-starred in the road tour of Southern Baptist Sissies at the Majestic recently, got his start as a teen at DCT, playing Hans Brinker. On this season's DCT lineup, catch Night of the Living Dead (October 13 to November 4), The Velveteen Rabbit (November 17 to December 17) and The Miracle Worker (January 26 to February 18).
The Old Monk
This selection is perhaps unduly influenced by the unfortunate fact that we're reporters. Attorneys might prefer Ghost Bar; doctors drown their sorrows at Primo's. Laborers at insurance firms likely choose to forget about life for a while at any chain restaurant offering some variation of the Bloomin' Onion. We prefer the Old Monk, which is an affable and engaging setting for anyone who likes to talk to old friends and meet new people. The haphazard way the Old Monk is laid out allows for friends to drink together and strangers to stumble onto each other, which basically is a reporter's MO: Meet new sources, maintain old ones. An impressive selection of import beers on tap, a spacious outdoor patio and a central location contribute to the Old Monk's allure.
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. Among them: actors Ian Leson, Rhonda Boutte, Shelley Tharp-Payton, Christina Vela and John Flores; playwrights Lee Trull and Vicki Caroline Cheatwood; designers Christina Dickson, Russell K. Dyer and Emily Young; and co-artistic directors Tina Parker and Christopher Carlos. Opening the current season with Neil LaBute's controversial Fat Pig (through October 21), Kitchen Dog just keeps turning up the heat.
Ginger Man
The Ginger Man offers 77,343 different beers on draft. At least that's what it looks like when you're saddled up at the bar staring at the glorious line of taps offering visions of a beer-soaked paradise. Offering every type of beer imaginable, including those flavored with apricots and coffee, the Ginger Man is to discerning drinkers what the Apple Store is to people with a Mac fetish. Located on Boll Street on the fringes of Uptown Dallas, the Ginger Man has its share of 30-something frat boys who refer to beer as brewskies and inexplicably appreciate the bar's frumpy taste in live music, but after a drink or seven even Kappa Alphas don't seem so bad.

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