They say one bad apple can ruin the bunch, but let's hope that's not the case with Los Angeles promotion company Insomniac Events' Electric Daisy Carnival, which back in June returned to the city-owned Fair Park complex for the second year in a row. The electronic music festival, which since coming to Dallas has brought in the celebrated likes of Moby, Diplo, Benny Benassi, Kaskade and Rusko to play for tens of thousands, is a true sensory overload. In addition to the music, there's visual art, decked-out masses and an open-arms vibe from the crowds. It's a great time, even if some of the negative effects of rave culture are present too; at this year's event, dozens were hospitalized after overheating, and a 19-year-old Argyle resident died after his friends saw him take ecstasy. Thing is, you really don't need any drugs to enjoy EDC's offerings — you just need the wherewithal to grasp that Dallas could use this kind of all-are-welcome entertainment. Maybe some earplugs. And some good sense, too — which, we hope, the city showcases next year when the time comes for the festival to return, realizing that, in EDC's case, the good really does outweigh the bad.
Dallas Aquarium
In December 2010 what was once the Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park officially reopened as The Children's Aquarium at Fair Park, and the changes made were certainly for the better. The venue now features interactive exhibits at eye level for the target demographic. Some of the rays in Stingray Bay are touchable for certain tots, but even babies can sit alongside the feature and bond with the graceful creatures through the glass. Other exhibit zones are organized by type of water or the area in which creatures are found (freshwater, intertidal, near shore, etc.). For kiddos who have seen or can visualize a beach, the set-up is easy to navigate and accessible. And, ultimately, that's the biggest draw of the aquarium: While some of the creatures might be considered intimidating or scary (octopus, piranha, eel), the surrounding displays and structure of the museum are anything but.
You've seen chickens before, but have you ever seen a white crested black Polish chicken? Think in terms of the Muppet Big Bird, shrunk down to chicken size but twice as strange. Maybe three times. Another chicken that might set you back apace if you haven't seen one before is the mottled houdan. We can't really describe it, but you can see these and a wonderful variety of regular old chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks and game birds just by walking through the Fur & Feather Building on the weekend of the big Pan Am Poultry Show at the Texas State Fair. Fur & Feather is where the contestants all bed down between appearances. It's open to the public. Be prepared for random loud outbursts of gobbling.
Galaxy Drive In Theatre
A previous Best of Dallas winner, the Galaxy Drive-In is an incredibly fun and affordable night out, starting with the well-worn miniature golf course and ending with the kindly attendants who can jump-start your car in a jiffy if your battery drains in the course of a double feature. But your trip to Ennis just isn't complete if you don't grab a hot dog, burger, funnel cake or bag of cotton candy. Not because you're hungry, necessarily, but because the place would turn into a desolate wasteland without that extra revenue, just as all too many drive-in theaters have before it. That's what the public service announcements playing before screenings suggest, at least, complete with footage of sun-bleached, wind-damaged screens and sad music. There are much cheerier vintage theater commercials advertising concessions as well, but nonetheless, the theater has pulled off an unlikely emotional coup. Usually we feel guilty when we do snack, not when we don't.
Texas Theatre
Barak Epstein
It's hard to walk into Oak Cliff's Texas Theatre and not feel the history thick in the air. The stucco walls on the interior cover up the theater's original architecture that was in place the day Lee Harvey Oswald ducked in without paying, shortly after the death of President John F. Kennedy. Since then, the theater has changed hands several times, and in 2010 was reopened under the management of Aviation Cinemas Inc., which screens an impressive mix of award-winning indie flicks and cult classics. But you don't need to be a film buff to enjoy The Texas Theatre; the bar in the lobby offers craft beers and pre-Prohibition-style cocktails inspired by the 1920s, when the theater first opened.
Who knows how these things happen? An outwardly respectable neighborhood in Old East Dallas has for six consecutive years puts on an increasingly and wonderfully bizarre Easter Bunny parade. Some of the bunnies, especially the ones with coconut brassieres, don't look like Easter Bunnies at all. They look more like Tim Burton scary-cute monsters. On one float a Viking lady with coconuts throws rubber snakes to the crowd from pastel toilets. Yup. You read it here. The thing is run by the "Newellian Bunny Board," whose web page shows them all wearing bunny suits and smoking cigars with guns in their hands. They're a tad short on corporate communications, this bunny board, so you'll have to Google them as the time approaches. But we can tell you one thing: You're never going to see an Easter parade like this in Southlake.
Forget the women up around Northwest Highway — the ones "working their way through college" or whatever. The best stripping act we've seen for years in Dallas came last year when Erykah Badu strolled up to Dealey Plaza and stripped with a purpose at the spot where John F. Kennedy was killed. Oh yeah, then she died (metaphorically, on film). The act was shot as the music video for "Window Seat," the lead single off of Badu's brilliant New Amerykah Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh, and the message was a simple stab at the world we live in: If we let society look through us, if we let others dictate our actions, if we're too scared to show our true selves to the world, then we're killing the best parts about us. The Dallas Police Department didn't think it was a very powerful statement: They slapped Badu with a $500 fine for disorderly conduct after a single complainant, after the video was released (and months after it was filmed), came forward. Our stance? Dallas could use more daring and provocative types like Badu. Progress shouldn't draw a fine.
The Belmont Hotel
"Hotel art" is a phrase that makes many cringe because, well, there's a whole lot of underwhelming abstract prints and landscape scenes to be seen in most hotels. But the Belmont is just too cool for bad art, and that's why the hotel displays art from local talents on the walls of the lobby in their Art with a View series. The hotel has always been a hip destination for poolside parties and now even pop-up shops, but Art with a View brings a certain refinement to the kitschy hotel.
We don't think we'd offend local NBC affiliate KXAS-TV news anchor Jane McGarry if we called her a cougar — mostly, we think, because she seems to know she is and embrace it. Such is especially true in the social media world of Twitter, where McGarry uses her fairly dirty mind to express herself — and pretty much never on the topic of news. Where would she find the time, between sending flirty tweets to KTCK-AM 1310 The Ticket radio personality Gordon Keith and D Magazine editor Tim Rogers, and flippant innuendo after flippant innuendo? Not long ago she tweeted about a producer pointing out "poles" on the news set. Then she tweeted — and, for reasons we're not altogether sure about, with a winking emoticon — about somehow losing her skirt somewhere. Are we reading too much into this? We don't think so. And, before you accuse us, no, we're not jealous of the other media types getting her attention, either. We just prefer to watch.
They say Deep Ellum is Dallas' premiere neighborhood for music. Well, "they" must never travel down to the just-east-of-downtown neighborhood during the day. With its classic brick wall backdrops, splashy murals and — get this — buildings that are more than 10 years old, Deep Ellum's greatest export these days is most likely its wedding photography. Every single day, it seems, another couple can be seen, dressed in tux and white gown, following a hip-looking, camera-toting cat around the neighborhood, looking for romantic — yet undeniably urban — settings for their wedding photo collections. It's easy to understand why: Shooting your wedding photos in this setting says, "Hey, we're cool! We don't just get our music from Starbucks. Hell, we probably even have tattoos!" True or not, that's a sentiment people like to express about themselves.

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