Double Wide
Matt Nager

The party celebrating The Southern Unknown was one for the books. Too many bands are content to stack a show with their friends' bands and just call it a "CD Release Party." Dove Hunter and the Double Wide actually held up the "party" end of the bargain, hauling out a snowcone machine and bringing in an all-female mariachi band from Fort Worth to open the festivities. Honestly, we had so much fun before Dove Hunter played that the band's actual set is something of a blur—but we certainly remember the party. Here's hoping the band gets to work fast on album No. 2 just so we can go to the bash.

She hits the switch every year on November 1. And for the next two months Liz Simmons' house is ablaze with 100,000 lights, a glowing 6-foot snowman and half a dozen blinking snow-pals, a twirling spider, an 8-foot sleigh and an illuminated tree on the tippy-top of her roof. Last year Simmons' display made it to the top 20 in a nationwide Home Depot contest. She adds new features every year with the help of a friendly electrician who makes sure her yard art doesn't black out the area in a surge. The energetic Simmons is a much-loved character in her Hollywood/Santa Monica neighborhood, which uses the display as the centerpiece of an annual block party. Let's be glad the neighbors are cool with all the hot wattage.

The Barking Dog out to keep Lower Greenville free of "scumbars" and the sumbitches who populate them is a filmmaker now—or, c'mon, don't you read our blog Unfair Park? Because, seriously, every Monday morning we know Avi will provide us with a must-see video in which a drunk or 10 are getting busted by Dallas' Finest. And Avi's no sideline cinematographer: He's up in their shit, taking their taunts, asking for more, getting plenty of action, yeah, that's it, hotter, let the camera see you seethe, bleed. We don't know that it makes one bit of diff—he's become quite the director, not so much the deterrent—but that's half the fun, watching Avi out on the mean streets in search of the trouble that usually comes right to him and, sooner or later, right to us via the Vimeo site to which he's now posting his widescreen wonders for which the Academy thanks him very, very much.

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When the City Council debated a living wage for garbage truck crews, Angela Hunt went out and rode a truck for a day. Management in Sanitation Services wanted to put her on one of the new air-conditioned vehicles, but a worker whispered to her that the old un-air-conditioned trucks are the real story. So that's where she spent a very long, very hot day seeing the issues for herself. Of course, we wouldn't name her the city's best council person if she did things like that and then came to totally screwball conclusions. Nor would we choose her if all of her efforts were narcissistic and self-promotional. The overall package here is of high energy, deep focus, rock-hard integrity, a generally intelligent take on issues and an open heart. But more than any of these, the quality that always impresses is her vision for the city. She is a rare gem in a box of bolts—the very best we've got.

Faced with a need to refurbish many aging shade structures and build more new ones, the Park Department has been using shade structures as a way of bringing public architecture into neighborhoods all over the city. Assistant Director Willis Winters, an architect, invited leading architects in Texas and from around the world to submit designs. Scott Marek of Frank Welch & Associates designed a pavilion for the Lake Highlands North Rec Center near Skillman, with a floor that slopes up gradually to form a stage at one end for neighborhood gatherings. It is one of more than 40 unique pavilions that will be built in city parks. The pavilion program includes full restoration of nine 1930s WPA pavilions. When you think about the relationship we have with the sun here in North Texas, there couldn't have been a more thoughtful way to infuse meaningful civic architecture into the day-to-day landscape.

Just by looking at them, you'd never guess that Markus Underwood, Will Rhoten and Scott Quinn were especially hip guys. By day, they're just your average-looking alterna-dudes. But by night they become (respectively) DJs Nature, Sober and $elect, the finest dancehall DJs in Texas, let alone Dallas. When their powers combine, they go by the name "The Party." It's simple, but it tells audiences exactly what they're in store for when The Party's slated for an appearance at a dance club or a music venue. Heavily influenced by the '80s, the '90s and the cutting-edge tracks of today, The Party, thanks to its impeccable feel for crowds, has a knack for playing the song you want to hear but can't remember the name of.

Reunion Arena

Based on the election results of 2004, the city of Dallas is actually the 32nd most liberal city in the country. But you wouldn't know it, thanks to all the suburban interlopers running around. So it still came as somewhat of a shock when a crowd of thousands turned out on a bright morning—February 20—to attend Senator Barack Obama's pre-primary rally at Reunion Arena. Honestly, the rally itself was a hit-or-miss affair. Obama mostly repeated talking points from other speeches, while the introductory speech by Emmitt Smith left a little to be desired. But the 20,000-strong crowd put on a heck of a show, lending a palpable sense of excitement to the festivities and giving some of us our hands-down favorite memory of a seemingly cursed arena.

Skip the Metro section, and why bother reading a sports column when we all know those guys save their best bits for radio and ESPN? (We're talking to you Cowlishaw, Galloway, et al.) If you want to find a column worth your time—one that offers an original opinion and actually makes you think—you'll have to wade deep into the paper's editorial section to find the wit and wisdom of the much maligned (in these pages anyway) Rod Dreher. You may disagree with much of what he says—you may hate it, in fact—but at least the Crunchy Con does what a newspaper columnist is supposed to do, which is to make you pause for a moment and consider another viewpoint.

Dallas Black Dance Theater

When Ann Williams started her modest dance company more than 30 years back, she probably had no aspirations to become an icon. From its humble beginnings in recreation centers, her company grew into the internationally acclaimed Dallas Black Dance Theatre and is soon to be one of the glittering jewels of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. The ensemble of 12 professionals performs a mixed repertory of modern, jazz, ethnic and spiritual works by choreographers who include Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Donald Byrd and Alonzo King. These dancers enjoy a singular luxury in the world of dance: an 11-month contract. To keep up with demand, Ann Williams formed DBDT II, a semi-professional company of 12 aspiring artists from around the nation. When wishing good luck to dancers, never say "break a leg." But let's wish Ann Williams and her company another 30 years of great moves.

Fallout Lounge

Fallout Lounge is small and intimate with just enough room to dance. There's a down-to-earth vibe that's the antithesis of the city's see-and-be-seen, must-be-on-the-list meat markets. Fallout can be mellow, a perfect place to go on a weeknight or after a show to sink into comfy couches while DJs spin lounge sounds. But on the weekends it's a great place to dance with a packed house and fast-movin' beats. Whether full or empty, weeknight or weekend, the drinks are strong, the tunes are solid and it's never pretentious.

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