Best Of :: People & Places
If you've gotta watch Dallas' magnificent skyline burn on Judgment Day, there is no better spot than the collection of white stucco buildings perched above Sylvan. It is a hipster ecosystem unto itself. The boutique hotel's rooms are spartan — some might call that retro — but honestly, you need to get used to a little austerity now that society as we know it has reached its nadir. Because that's an awful realization to come to, you'll probably need alcohol. The Belmont barkeeps make a great gin martini. While you're at it, take a stroll around the hotel grounds. The sidewalks are stone inlaid with pastel ceramic shards, and the landscaping is desert chic — the cacti and desert flora will outlast us all. By now, you're probably worked up an appetite, so check out Smoke before its food stores are raided. If you're feeling brunch, they have a spicy Bloody Mary that will slap you awake. Rapture or not, this could be the closest some of us will get to heaven.
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.
"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.
Because it's The Mansion. What? You were gonna say something else? Let's hear it then. Didn't think so. Next.
Yes, the Dallas attorney writes about only one thing: Texas Rangers baseball, and all the minor-league properties associated with the big club, but he does it better than anybody — with thoughtfulness, an understanding of the game, an affection for the players and the passion of a fan willing to forgive but critical nevertheless. Sometimes that adds up to greatness. From mid-June: "Reminder to self: It's not easy. It's not supposed to be easy. It wouldn't have the chance to be as great if it were easy." So goeth 40 years of Rangers fandom, and Newberg's been there for all of it as fan, as chronicler. The team's lucky to have him. Guy's money, ball.
From the moment you park your car in the lot of Carrollton's no-kill shelter, Operation Kindness, you can see the oversized screened-in cat patio full of cats palling around. Inside, there's an open play area where most of the cats hang out and kennels for kittens and cats with "special needs" and behavioral "issues." The open spaces, though, are literally crawling with cats, bounding over toys and each other. It's a revealing environment and a great way to check out your furry friend's demeanor, how he acts around other felines and how he may behave in your house before you commit to him forever.
Lily Pad Cafe sits at the sidelines of Main Street Park like a charming little oasis, its covered patio shading the sun and creating a mini-fort among skyscrapers. With a name like Lily Pad and bright green adornments, it might truly be the most adorable place to hang out in the city. While pedestrian life in downtown Dallas generally leaves something to be desired, an afternoon snack of hummus and pita or a post-work beer on the cafe's patio offers a peek into a more vibrant slice of downtown. It's the perfect stage for people-watching as locals walk their dogs, children play in the fountain and kickball leagues compete in the park. Homeless people drawn to the surrounding park benches are typically of the friendly ilk and add some color to what is otherwise a small island of sun-dressed urban euphoria.
Broadcast news is a sweet gig for main anchors in big cities, with such perks as six-figure salaries and wardrobe allotments. It's a long way up the ladder, but Fox 4 anchor Steve Eagar has a naturally competitive nature. When his pro-baseball career went south, he switched to an equally cutthroat career in journalism. The bosses at KDFW make good use of Eagar's smooth delivery by placing him at the helm of the only local 5:30 p.m. show and pairing him with Heather Hays at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. They're the quintessential homecoming king and queen everyone wanted to be in high school. Eagar's sardonic edge makes local news worth watching, especially the often hilarious Viewer's Voice segment.
With apocalyptic drought still choking us, worrying about water-logging your wheels seems unlikely. But with inconsistent curbs and questionable drainage systems, rushing water is an occasional reality come rainy time in Little Forest Hills. Leave the neighborhood and navigational concerns still exist: There's the spillway heading south on Garland Road that could be called a spillover. There are the low areas of Buckner Road that turn trying to get to Northwest Highway or Mockingbird Lane into a dare. There's Buckner Road's nosedive before the Loop 12 and Interstate 30 overpass. And there's that one part of Garland Road near Centerville that doesn't flood, per se, but gushes. Sure, Little Forest Hills is a great neighborhood — and so are Forest Hills and Casa Linda Estates, for that matter — if you get to work using water wings. Winter? We'll let that topic just slide on by.
Anything you need on a Saturday afternoon (or any afternoon, really) can be found on or around the intersection of North Henderson at McMillan avenues. Get a damn good coffee at the Pearl Cup, a funky art print or gift at We Are 1976, a couch at Again Design Studio, Sputnik Modern or Form, a Bloody Mary at Barcadia and a pomerita at Café San Miguel. Do some yoga at Padma Yoga if that's what the day calls for and you're still sober. Groceries and bulk snacks at Sunflower Farmers Market are only a block out of the way. By then, Louie's, the Slip Inn and Beauty Bar will be open and you can drink knowing you have helped save the world through capitalism and fuel conservation.