Best Forrest Gump 2012 | Jeff Liles | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Talk to Kessler Theater artistic director (basically, a booker with style) Jeff Liles for a few minutes and the conversation will likely turn to a strange encounter with a rock star, relationship with a famous rapper or some momentous musical event in Dallas history. Whether it's his role in the infamous Nirvana show at Trees, how he was the first DJ to ever play NWA on the radio or the time the Red Hot Chili Peppers stole his parents' towels, he has an interesting anecdote about a pretty wide swath of culture. It doesn't necessarily sound like bragging, more like the excitement of a fan and participant who truly loves and supports music local and otherwise. Someone who's been around for a long time, but still has the enthusiasm and passion of a teenager.

Food porn is not easy. Any photographer who's accidentally flashed their ground meat, or viewer who's been subject to the nasty, fluorescent hue given to a dish under poor light knows bad food photography. Which is why it was impressive when YouPlus Dallas, which we gave Best Dallas Website last year as well, managed to put together a sexy, slow-mo Food Trucks of Dallas earlier in 2012. The video's a perfect summary of how they're tapped into Dallas: the growing food scene, egregiously sexy sandwich photos and long shots up the shafts of Dallas buildings. It's all so hot. You're sexy, YouPlusDallas, and you're constantly finding ways to represent the best cultural nuggets of our city. Keep making us all sweaty, YPD.

We're pretty certain that the gaudy color-changing neon curves of the new Omni Hotel and the sparkling, newly colorful lights of the city's One Big Ball are eventually going to distract some poor driver enough to cause a vehicular accident on northbound Interstate 35, if they haven't already. Hopefully that won't precipitate any cries to tone it down a bit. The city has long had a reputation for big, oversized glitz and glamour, and yet beige seems to be the dominant color of its skyline. It's refreshing to see a couple of architectural accessories that match the gleaming pretty people.

When a Dallas comedy show calls for edgy, dirty and shocking, Clint "Paco" Werth is one of the go-to comics. His Twitter ruminations are consistently funny, and in the past year, he opened for two of the most cringe-inducing, line-crossing comedians working today, Neil Hamburger at the Texas Theatre and Doug Stanhope at Trees. And Werth held his own with jokes that included reflecting on how sad it was when a mother killed her baby in a microwave — though it wasn't sad for the reasons that anyone else would lament. Edgy, dirty and shocking are our three favorite adjectives in describing the work of a stand-up artist, so we're always glad to see his name on a bill.

You can't get work done at your house. Your dog and Netflix subscription are constantly jockeying for your attention, luring you into a state of nap-time entropy. You have to venture out. At Murray Street you get what you need and more: an abundance of surge protectors for your electronics, good music played at not overly aggressive volumes, great coffee, delicious healthy food and an impossibly friendly staff. It wouldn't occur to them to give you the stink eye for staying all afternoon; they like it when you better yourself. With three tiers of naturally lit chill zones, peppered with modular furniture, you can choose whether to sit in a more communal, chatty space or a quiet remote corner. The best part? It's rare that you'll walk into a distracting night of singer/songwriter mayhem, which all remote workers know is like someone holding a drill to your head as you try to concentrate.

There's something sexy about a man launching a child off his shoulders in a swimming pool. If that child is dressed like a superhero or princess, your womb will actually quiver. The scientific phenomenon is one that even women who don't want kids are unable to resist. It's primal: You see the man as someone who can accept responsibility, probably has a job and can almost certainly make you a grilled cheese sandwich or pancakes with smiley faces on them. Hot. To find single dads in the wild, it's best to go to their natural environment, the watering hole. Every weekend the F.O.E. becomes the best of joint custody. Here you'll see tattooed papa types playing "shark in the pool" and floating children around on inflated rafts shaped like fish. You sit poolside, sipping a bevie, watching lady porn at its finest. Ain't life grand?

Thank you, Civilian Conservation Corps, for creating this lake from farmland in the 1930s. Thank you, members of For the Love of the Lake, for keeping it clean and pretty with your monthly spruce-up crews. Thank you, dog park (Dallas' first), for giving our fur families places to romp and splash with their fur friends. Thank you, squirrels, rabbits, possums, foxes, bobcats, minks and even you, skunks, for giving us cuteness to photograph on the trails and among the flora. Thank you, turtles, big and small, salamanders, lizards, horned toads — but not you, rattlesnakes — for giving our kids nature lessons as you sun yourselves on rocks and logs. Thank you, 217 species of birds, including swans and loons, for using White Rock as your stopover on migration. Thank you, bass, crappie and catfish, for giving city anglers something to hook. Thank you, oaks, pecans, sweet gums, cottonwoods and pear trees for shading the banks and scenting the trails. Thank you, 11 miles of trails, for helping us walk, run and bike off the pounds. Thank you, Lady of the Lake, for the best ghost story in town. Most of all, thank you, 1,088 acres of White Rock Lake, for keeping the sailboats afloat, and for giving us a huge patch of beautiful water in the middle of our hard, hot concrete city.

Back in the 1980s, a local trickster used to pull the same stunt every November. Around the anniversary of the JFK assassination, November 22, he'd sprinkle a few shell casings around the Grassy Knoll, that hillock just below the Texas School Book Depository and across the street from Dealey Plaza. He just wanted to watch the tourists when they thought they'd found new evidence. The place was picked clean long ago, of course, but it's still a primo observation spot to see crowds of out-of-towners — more than 325,000 visit the Sixth Floor Museum every year — getting their first looks at the historic "triple underpass," the "sniper's perch" window and the railroad tracks where the mysterious "hobos" may or may not have been aiming their own weapons at the president that day in 1963. Wanna really thrill the lookie-loos? Sit on the knoll under an unfurled red umbrella. You'll end up in everybody's vacation pictures.

It's almost ridiculously easy to trespass into this downtown luxury hotel's gorgeous swimming pool. Stroll over to the north elevators, push "T" for terrace level and exit onto the massive pool deck. No card key necessary (yet) and nobody bird-dogging interlopers. We've done it. More than once. There are comfy lounge chairs, free towels, shady areas with tables and lots of greenery. It's like SoHo House without the attitude, right in our own Arts District. Just be subtle when you go, OK? Don't ruin it for the rest of us.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

It's right there on the wall above the urinal, staring back at you mid-pee. Amid the gibberish and wild-scrawled drawings: "Ayn Rand had some big ass titties." Mid expel, you find yourself questioning the veracity of this bold statement. It's nearly too descriptive to be false, right? And let's not discount the talent it takes to pen this during urination, which is the only way we can imagine it happening. Anyway, welcome to the Lakewood Landing, where cold beer, a jukebox playing Sam Cooke, and vexing wall graffiti lives. Enjoy yourself. We always do.

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