BEST CITIZEN TWITTER 2013 | @kenlowery | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Spending your day buried in a Twitter feed is a lot like watching The Matrix code. It's headache inducing, sometimes interesting and always absurd. Somewhere in there is Dallas citizen and captain of snark Ken Lowery. Co-creator of the feed @FakeAPStyleBook and the Web series The @Variants, his acerbic wit reliably skewers pop culture, films, comics and whatever makes you #headdesk in Dallas.

With his victory over Delia Jasso for a redrawn council district in Oak Cliff, voters sent a resounding message to City Hall: We don't want go-along-to-get-along representatives who toe the establishment line. We want intelligent, diligent representation that demands answers when, say, it turns out that the city manager has promised to massage a deal for a local driller in spite of the fact that the deal runs afoul of long-standing city policy. Council member Scott Griggs held Mary Suhm's feet to the fire over her backroom side deal with Trinity East. He's consistently been on the side of common sense, opposing a toll road within the Trinity River levees. He may not be the flashy, back-slapping politician we've grown accustomed to, but he's young, cerebral and informed, and we need more people like him in elected office.

North Texas is in the middle of an epic drought. It's struggling to find enough water to quench a swelling population that's expected to double over the next 50 years. Replacing water-gulping St. Augustine with drought-tolerant native plants seems like something that should be encouraged. But when a trained horticulturist named Burton Knight did exactly that at his home in the Junius Heights Historic District, he ran afoul of the city, which decided that cacti and grasses that have grown in the area for centuries are insufficiently historic. Knight fought back and ultimately, after agreeing to some minor adjustments, got to keep his water-friendly yard.

As a rule, evangelical megachurches eschew the city and establish themselves in the suburbs. The farther flung, the better, where the land is cheap and the people God-fearing. First Baptist Dallas is a notable exception. Not only has it stayed in the sin-ravaged big city, but it has invested $130 million in a massive, recently completed renovation of its downtown campus. Aesthetically, the building is meh, full of cold, not-particularly inviting steel and glass. The fountain, on the other hand, which occupies a circular plaza on San Jacinto Street, is unabashedly magnificent, with its massive white cross, dancing jets of water, lights bright enough to land a jumbo jet and schmaltzy, Vegas-style hymns audible from blocks away. Jesus would be proud.

OK, so listening to the news on AM radio has been a pretty infrequent use of our car stereos since the advent of the cassette deck, let alone the podcast. But the moment we hear the wail of a tornado siren or come across an alarming news item while scrolling through our Twitter feed at a stoplight — err, we mean when our passenger is scrolling through his Twitter feed — the first thing we do is dial in to 1080 AM, knowing that when there's a crisis, we aren't going to hear some blowhard blaming it on Barack HUSSEIN Obama.

In the era of hot-looking models reading the news on TV (remember now, it's sad face for tornado deaths, happy face for Shriners in parades, never the other way around), WFAA somehow manages to get enough pretty faces on camera and still maintain depth of field in the actual journalism department. Byron Harris, David Schechter and Brett Shipp continue to bring serious game to the newscast as investigative reporters. Jobin Panicker and Todd Unger do yeoman work as fire-chasers (but work on that closing squint and head-nod, Todd) and Teresa Woodard manages to be both hot-looking and downright credible as a street reporter. Pete Delkus always makes the weather sound like something you might even find faintly interesting in a place where it's just hot as hell all the time. For some reason they've decided to cast sportscaster icon Dale Hansen as the newscast clown, which is off the mark, since Hansen often brings the only biting grownup commentary on the show. As anchors, John McCaa and Gloria Campos are master and commander, with great backups in Jason Wheeler and Shelly Slater.

News Update is like every other news show on local, network and cable TV these days: lots of joking around and horseplay between stories to make us love them. The owners pay for focus groups, polls and consultants. Presumably they know what they're doing. We're not here to second-guess. It's when the cast gets a bit too mischievous, goes off script and begins to ad-lib the horseplay that things can drift precariously into inappropriate land or just-stupid land. Over all of this, the singular glower of news anchor John McCaa reigns like a Jovian thunderbolt: You can see him physically push back from the bench and blast the pranking weather and sports rascals with the look — a look that says, "Sober up, now." McCaa, a seasoned, serious journalist who often writes his own copy, knows a sad-face story from a happy-face without being prompted. His delivery is incisive and persuasive. He and his talented co-anchor Gloria Campos always treat each other with respect and dignity. Every good circus needs a ringmaster. McCaa is one of the best.

"We don't read newspapers any more. Do you? No way," begins Central Track's "About" section. It would hurt our feelings if we believed it. But former Dallas Observer music editor Pete Freedman and his staff of freelancers are obviously keeping up with Dallas culture, fashion, nightlife and, of course, music news, whether they're getting ink on their hands from the dead-tree versions or not. Presented in an attractive side-scrolling format meant to mimic the pages of a magazine, the blog is mostly unapologetic Dallas boosterism with light, fun features such as taste-testing $4 wines, asking bands about their vans and culling Yelp reviews of local strip clubs. Their enthusiasm for Big D is almost contagious, especially in the "100 Things to Do in Dallas Before You Die" list. Even the occasional bit of criticism comes off as simply wanting the city to live up to what the site's 18- to 35-year-old demographic wants it to be.

If you take the Commerce Street bridge or Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and head southward into Oak Cliff on Sylvan Avenue, you'll get a closeup look at the Sour Grapes Crew's handiwork on the Belmont Hotel's retaining wall, a long stretch of colorful art next to work by famed street artists Shepard Fairey and JM Rizzi. The Sour Grapes piece, fittingly, gets the most real estate. Done freestyle, it's a collection of anthropomorphized cartoon pyramids, paletas, humps and blobs with the word "DALLAS" contrasting in big white letters. It's brightly colored and feels childlike and fun yet with a bit of urban grit to it. In other words, it feels like the Oak Cliff you're about to enter.

Since it opened two years ago, the Omni in downtown Dallas has drawn nightly crowds to the spectacular light shows playing every night on more than one million LEDs in four miles of light bars stretched across the hotel's stunning boomerang-shaped glass exterior. But last year's "Expanded Video" show at the hotel, produced in conjunction with the 25th Annual Dallas VideoFest, was maybe even historic, featuring works like, "Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Knock-Knock" by Dallas street artist and gallery owner Frank Campagna — a riot of giant fruit flying all over the front of the hotel. Keep your eyes peeled, because it's supposed to happen again in October, and anybody who saw the first one will tell you not to miss it.

The Clubhouse has the scuzzy yet welcoming feel of your favorite dive bar, pretty good music most of the time, and a diverse roster of talent offering something for just about every conceivable preference. The dancers actually, you know, dance, and the place has a feature that we thought was standard for strip clubs but is becoming increasingly scarce: a pole. The BYOB status doesn't just save you money on booze — it means it can stay open after 2 a.m. and that the ladies can show you everything, whether you want to see everything or not. Catered monthly customer appreciation parties, visits from touring musicians, a sincerely welcoming attitude to female patrons (straight or not) and the occasional appearance from Vinnie Paul Abbott himself (who cofounded the place with his brother and Pantera bandmate, the late "Dimebag" Darrell) make The Clubhouse a must-see.

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