Best Donation 2012 | Mark Cuban Saves the Parade | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Dude. Duuuude. Remember when Cubes saved the parade? Back in February, there was a minor earthquake in North Texas. Not the geological kind, the emotional one: The Greenville Avenue St. Patrick's Day parade was on life support. Preparing livers quivered with fear as the news spread, and reporters (like us) were dispatched to follow up. Then came Mark Cuban: He flew in on a golden Pegasus leaving behind a forest-green trail of gorgeous cash. OK, so what he actually did was cut a $40,000 check to the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association to save the parade, while pledging another $25,000 to the parade's scholarship fund. And the parade and our booze-soaked livers miraculously lived on. That was awesome, bro.

What is it about Texas pride? It's a feeling that pumps around with your blood. That bath-like heat in Austin, the cold Lone Star beer and spicy barbecue. It's taking photos of Luckenbach, your Whataburger or ice on a bottle of real Dr Pepper. Fortunately, there's a Tumblr that has no problem visualizing it for you. It'll get you through your day — under a big, blue banner that reads "FUCK YEAH TEXAS" is the subtitle for the most entertaining Texas Tumblr out there: "a collection of what makes this state great." Damn right.

Just after midnight on Sunday, January 15, Erykah Badu pulled up in a black Stingray to lead a funeral procession down Main Street. Only it wasn't for a body. No, this processional was the New Orleans-style jazz-funk Rebirth Brass Band trailing behind Badu playing melancholy, sometimes whimsical tunes to signal the last breath of the PM Nightlife Lounge in the basement of the Joule. Badu, topped in a tall hat and wearing a trench coat, danced with the band and gatherers who jumped in after Main Street was closed. Then, she went inside and DJed into the tiny hours of the night. Take that, Dealey Plaza strip session.

A little more than three years ago, Nicole Stewart was in Venice Beach, California, and she was heartbroken. She'd been pursuing acting since she was 14 and was looking to be in a sitcom. Then her agent dropped her. Fast forward to 2012, when Stewart, minted in a city she knows well (her grandparents are legends in the art scene in Dallas) kicked off a non-fiction storytelling series known as Oral Fixation. Oral Fixation is a curated night of real-life stories, but it's no open mic. It is raw, emotional, often funny performances of true tales. But Stewart wants more. She wants to be a leader in the arts community, and, if the innovation behind Oral Fixation is any indication, Dallas is certain to see exciting moves from her chess board. You can follow Oral Fixation on Facebook at for upcoming shows.

The best thing about community gardens in older urban areas is their sheer obduracy — the grit and patience, the sweat equity involved in digging down through rubble to find real dirt again and bring it back to green abundance. A great example is this garden, four-tenths of an acre of serenity just off a noisy intersection in Old East Dallas. In the early '90s it was an overflow garden for Cambodian refugees not able to find plots in the busy Southeast Asian refugee garden a few blocks away. Later abandoned and neglected, it has been adopted again by families fleeing turmoil in Bhutan, a Himalayan nation sandwiched between China and India. You can wander in and watch them work their beds in rhythms and tones of ancient practice, their garden a soft prayer to our city's roaring heart.

It's not even one of the official canoe trails designated by the state, but some of those you're not allowed to use anyway, like the one downtown on the Trinity River. White Rock Creek north (upstream) from White Rock Lake has the appeal of some bushwhacking, getting out where you don't need no stinkin' official canoe trail, thank you. Half a mile up White Rock Creek, after you paddle under Northwest Highway, it splits. Jackson Branch comes in on your right, flowing down from northeast, and White Rock Creek, which is bigger, continues on up northwest. Unless it's right after a big rain, paddling upstream is easy. Is there trash? Oh, yeah. But there are wonderful little oxbows and side channels, too, where there is very little trash and where you're surrounded by verdure and bird song, with the sounds of the city far, far away. This is a place where you can go explore, right in the heart of the city. How can you beat that?

Every year on the first Saturday in June the city of Dallas teams up with Addison, the Texas Agrilife Extension Service and the Master Gardeners of Dallas County to present a tour of gardens and landscaping that demonstrate sound water conservation techniques. The gardens and landscape installations on the tour always present a delightful and surprisingly broad spectrum of possibilities, from true xeriscaping with lots of gravel and cactus to more verdant transitional gardens. In the verdant examples, gardeners have marshaled combinations of drip irrigation with native species to show that a luxuriously green garden can be water-wise at the same time, even in Dallas. Every year there's a new, better way to do it. The tour presents 30-minute talks on water-wise techniques at the various headquarters.

Arcades are officially on the endangered species list of entertainment venues. Blame the cost of coin-op upkeep or those whippersnappers with their fancy schmancy home systems, but these watering holes for nerds are few and far between. That's why finding one that's not only survived, but also maintained its eccentricity as Nickelrama has, feels like a bizarro throwback to an earlier era. Or a pit stop on the drive to Atlantic City. Either way, it's beautiful, strange and infectious (literally, hand sanitizer is positioned everywhere). The business' slogan, "Worth Every Nickel," sums up the experience perfectly. Sure, roughly half of the games you play will gobble up your Jeffersons without apology, but the other half will work in 5-cent denominations. When's the last time you played pinball for 15 cents? Never, that's when. Also, Nickelrama has great knock-off versions of games you kinda know, as well as a whole mess of others that act mostly as a nickel-for-tickets exchange, like Shoot The Quarter In The Gorilla's Mouth. You'll feel so wealthy at this Garland hideaway, playing for hours on five dollars, that you won't even mind when swarms of dirty children steal the redemption tickets from your games, like tiny pickpocketing gypsies.

As any apartment dweller can attest, bathing your pooch at home is a messy task, one that inevitably ends in an emergency call to a plumber. Add on that your fur child requires several hours of cross-fit daily just so he doesn't destroy your home, and you have yourself a dog park challenge. Central Dog Park is a lovely secluded hideaway tucked behind Central Christian Church that anyone is welcome to visit. It's inviting, with a shady, hilly stretch of fenced-in play space for the pups and dozens of lawn chairs scattered around for human socializing. But wait, it gets better. Those chairs are positioned under rows of misters and in front of two industrial box fans: You'll unapologetically pose like that fella from the Maxell cassette ads. The real deal-sealer is the dog washing station. This park knows that your dog is a filthy, disgusting creature, so it's taken mercy on you. A wooden ramped platform constructed at the park's entrance, lined with soaps and towels, acts as your safety net. What's that? Your dog just rolled in crap? Dog washing station. Ooh, he found something dead in a bush? Dog washing station. He was distracted by excitement at the park and pissed all over himself? Dog washing station. Peace will return to your household, as well as your shower drains. Praise be.

Pro Wrestling Onslaught has everything the WWE offers and more, and also less. More great characters, more humor, more originality, more fun. Less in the way of 'roided-up muscleheads, less cost to enjoy the bouts live, less distance between spectators and the action. The characters include skinny everyday-looking guys, a longhaired chubby burnout who runs in terror from a more muscular fighter, and masked behemoths sporting enviable but not chemically created muscle tone. The first time we caught a match, we went in expecting amateurish, poorly acted second-rate stunts. By the end we were screaming for our favorites as they pulled off impressive acrobatics, aerial stunts and painful-looking takedowns.

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