Best City Council Member 2008 | Angela Hunt | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

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.

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.

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 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.

Want to know where some of your tax dollars are going? Just watch the gritty detective work showcased on A&E's The First 48. The premise is simple: "For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a case is cut in half if they don't get a lead in the first 48." For regular viewers, you'll know the intro, but for those unfamiliar, flip on the show and you still might recognize something: Dallas. The detective unit of our fair "City of Hate" is one of the current over-worked and underpaid teams followed on the show. More often than not, we've recognized intersections and neighborhoods and for that very reason, we feel grateful to The First 48 for showing us the pavement-pounding and crazy interrogation skills of our brave badges.

Director Bruce R. Coleman likes to say he's been around Dallas theater so long there are 12 companies on his résumé that don't even exist anymore. That includes New Theatre Company, which he ran for seven seasons. These days Coleman is in demand from almost every theater in Dallas and Fort Worth. He's recently put up shows at Theatre Three (House and Garden), Uptown (Bent) and ICT (Dracula). His specialties: comedies and musicals. And the bonus: He's also a whiz at designing sets and costumes. Coleman's a big fan of the local talent he gets to put through their paces in plays. "The not-so-famous folks I work with are tons more talented than most of those big names you see in New York or L.A. I'll take [Dallas actors] Regan Adair and Arianna Movassagh over Nicolas Cage and Julia Roberts any day." His enthusiasm for theater is infectious. "It is a visceral and communal experience that electrifies for the sheer glory of sharing it with our fellow beings," says Coleman. "People should go to the theater because it reminds us how to be human."

It's not easy to find a laidback, just-dingy-enough bar that acts both as a backyard filled with fire pits and picnic tables, and a place to get down to your favorite DJ. And that's why we love it. The yard is sprawling, with a stage for local acts like folk-country band Eleven Hundred Springs. The inside of the little shack is about as big as a matchbox. Yet somehow it fits a pool table and games such as Ms. Pac-Man, as well as an itty-bitty dance floor. Which brings us to the DJs. At least three nights a week, the shack rocks with tunes spun by EZ Eddie, DJ Chikki G or, our personal favorite, DJ Sista Whitenoise. Forget the painfully monotonous and sterile house mixes of Uptown's exclusive clubs. Sista Whitenoise combines complex, layered beats and rhythms with the best of dance music, from Steve Wonder and Parliament to the Beastie Boys and MIA. She spins at Lee Harvey's every Saturday night.

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