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In a neighborhood where nearly every tag is gang-related or the work of one particular ubiquitous tool who has written the same three initials on just about every bare surface available, it's refreshing to see some genuinely clever, whimsical street art. In between white road buttons at Kiest Boulevard and Polk Street, and on another street or two we've noticed, someone has stenciled Pac-man, Ms. Pac-man and colorful ghosts from the arcade game. They're just the right size to be in the right proportion to make the road buttons look like power pellets. They're starting to fade, though, so hopefully the artist will come back and insert another quarter with his or her spray paint.

Whatever we may think of this Swift Boat-funding old rich dude, we have to admit he just got a little more cred. How these two worlds collided is a mystery to us, but we're glad they did. The following is an actual transcript of a May 30 Twitter exchange.

@Drake (Drake, rapper and Degrassi: The Next Generation's Wheelchair Jimmy): The first million is the hardest.

@BoonePickens (T. Boone Pickens, Texas tycoon): The first billion is a helluva lot harder.

@Drake: @boonepickens just stunted on me heavy

His story of leaving his lawyer career to pursue full-time fiction writing is inspiring enough to make us consider walking away from our own day job. The New Yorker "late bloomer" write-up by Malcolm Gladwell — about how contrary to popular belief, genius can emerge later in life — reinforced the notion that maybe it's not too late to do so. But then we just have to read a beautiful description from his short story collection Brief Encounters With Che Guevara or a wonderfully original simile in his 2012 novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and we realize we have a long way to go before we can give up that paycheck.

Artisan's Collective has plenty of compelling artworks for sale, but our favorites are the creations of Barry Kooda. There's a series of little spear-wielding warriors made from the rearranged parts of rodent and bird skeletons, along with a few tamer pieces. Those skeletal combatants are what haunt our dreams, though, and yet we can't look away. That's why they're what our kids head straight for whenever we take them inside (and have to pry them away). No wonder collectors of the former Nervebreakers singer include Ministry's Al Jourgensen.

When University of North Texas MFA student Irby Pace first saw her in that Mac store, he knew he had to have her. From the way her earphones balanced out her pouty expression, to the threadbare nature of her thrift-store T-shirt, her composition was irresistible. The problem was, she didn't belong to him. The photograph was one of eventually thousands that Pace downloaded from sample devices such as iPads and iPods used in the retailer's local stores. He hijacked the images, all snapped by individuals who were playing with the camera features while shopping. Those folks who didn't delete their digital portraits wound up as muses for Pace's MFA show. The collection became an investigation of the fusion between modern technology and photography and toyed dangerously with the concept of ownership. Soon, Pace's little act of expression sparked a fire of debate. And once Wired picked up the story, it became a global conversation.

Summer 2012 marked Dallas' first installment of zine camp, a week-long exploration of self-published literature. Those inventive programming brains at Oil and Cotton collaborated with local literary booster The Writer's Garret to make it happen. As local artists heard about the project, they pitched in too, donating supplies and time to help make the camp run smoothly. It worked. The class spaces filled up almost immediately. Then, for two sessions in the summer, the shop's back studio space turned into a youth think tank where kids from late elementary school up to early high school learned the ins and outs of zine culture. Then, they each chose a personal emblem (which ranged anywhere from "Dubstep" to "Wormholes") and created small, hand-bound books on their topic. Each zine was filled with original artwork, short stories and poems. Then, when it seemed they couldn't get cooler, they silkscreened their own covers. It was a celebration of youth creativity at its best, and when camp was over, each student left knowing that their stories were important and worth publishing.

Barak Epstein

Not all romances fit the conventional confines of a mall's megaplex. Some need booze. Recycled junk yard cinema. And reanimated corpses, having threesomes. For those modern age Romeos and Juliets, there is Tuesday Night Trash, a free weekly Texas Theatre series organized by crap's curator, Travis Box. Looking at TNT's monthly calendar is a little like digging through the VHS junk drawer in a dilapidated haunted house. Will you wind up with 80 minutes of demonic blobs, hungry for human brains? A homoerotic prison boxing flick with an evil midget ringer? How about Eric Estrada as a crime-fighting priest? If you can imagineer it, Box can summon it, pat it on the head and present it for show and tell every Tuesday night. The best part? It doesn't cost a penny.

There are weird, artsy things happening between Dallas and Waco, and they're made possible by outsider collectors Bruce Lee and Julie Webb. The pair split their time between road-trip junking adventures through the South and selling the resurrected peculiarities at their historic store front, Webb Gallery. It's a temple to art's unsung heroes and renegade thinkers, and a shrine to the beauty that occurs in convention's absence. Cut paper skeletons? Glittery retellings of alien encounters? An entire collection of vintage sideshow banners, hung with the same respect given to traditional high art in a museum setting? Yes. That's how Webb Gallery rolls. It's a needed splash of psychedelic paint for a region more accustomed to beige walls, and it's improving our art world, one baboon skull at a time.

In the ever-competitive local TV news market, it's hard for one station to distinguish itself, but as much as we hate to admit it, Belo-owned WFAA does just that. The station's stable of veteran reporters — Brad Watson, Brett Shipp, and Byron Harris foremost among them — is unmatched. Certainly they also get kudos for lasting as long as they have in their studios at Victory Park.

At first, we couldn't imagine why we needed another one. We already have the panache of the Dallas International Film Festival, the experimental lean of the Dallas Video Fest and the cinematic halitosis, grandpa wisdom of the USA Film Festival, but the Oak Cliff Film Fest found its own niche: balls-out fun. They brought in the strange, oozing flicks we couldn't see anywhere else, like the singing, dancing delinquents from outer space in The Ghastly Love of Johnny X. They took over historic buildings to hold music video competitions, cult movie screenings and Q&As with directors. They brought Austin band My Education up to perform their haunting backtrack live while the Murnau silent film Sunrise played behind them. And just when you thought it couldn't get better, they took us to the zoo to watch The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Absent was all the corporate hoopla that entrenches bigger fests. Instead, Dallas' film lovers just came together and shared amazing memories and that special feeling that comes from knowing they were there in the beginning of something great.

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