We don't like to toss around the term world class, 'cause Mayor Mike Rawlings likes it too much, but unfortunately that's one of the best ways to describe the annual Soluna Festival. Right out of the gate, the interdisciplinary festival, which merges classical music with other artistic mediums such as dance and visual art, had the clout to foster huge collaborations. And for its second year it was able to maintain that momentum, following up the St. Vincent performance with "Rules of the Game," a world premiere collaboration between pop artist Pharrell Williams, choreographer Jonah Bokaer and New York-based visual artist Daniel Arsham. And that was only one element of the two-week long festival sponsored by Nancy Nasher and David Haemisegger and built around the Dallas Symphony Orchestra: The symphony's Jaap Van Zweden conducting Mahler and performances by Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret set to music at the Nasher Sculpture Center and Dallas Contemporary were also highlights. Soluna has already proved the first year wasn't a fluke, and Dallas is lucky for it.

Readers' Pick:

Deep Ellum Arts Festival

Whether or not Dallas' Barrett Brown deserves to be serving 63 months in federal prison for linking to data obtained from Anonymous' hack of Stratfor, an intelligence contractor, is beside the point. In the time he's spent in prison, Brown has proved himself as one of the best magazine writers in the United States. He doesn't write for D anymore, but the work he churns out for The Intercept — featuring a perfect mix of humor, insight and melancholy — is as good as anything one could ever hope to read about prison life. Brown's literary criticism, as evidenced by his essay "Stop Sending Me Jonathan Franzen Novels," is pretty great, too.

In the midst of what would end up being a not-so-competitive battle for the Democratic nomination for a Dallas County Commissioner Court seat, the incumbent John Wiley Price and his challenger Dwaine Caraway got into a brawl at Dallas radio station KHVN. Caraway accused Price of sleeping with his ex-wife, one of Caraway's staffers sued the commissioner and a radio station employee was left to lament that KHVN was a "Christian station." It was a side-show that was better than the actual show, as Price beat Caraway handily in the March 1 primary.

The literary arts upswing in Dallas continues, but some of the best contributions to the scene retain that do-it-yourself spirit. Spiderweb Salon is a group out of Denton run by Connor Wallace and Courtney Marie. The collective casts a wide net for poets, authors, musicians and artists throughout North Texas. They host a variety of events throughout the year, they publish a zine, host a literary podcast and lead writing workshops. Find them on Facebook.

In the run-up to the 2015 Dallas City Council election, Tiffinni Young could easily have been mistaken for more of the same. She was endorsed by Carolyn Davis, District 7's outgoing council member, and didn't do anything to stir the imagination before taking office. Since doing so, however, Young has done exactly what any constituent would want from his or her representative. She's stuck up for her Fair Park and South Dallas neighborhood every time, whether it's been fighting southern Dallas' enormous loose dog problem or trying to get a full-service grocery store into Dallas' biggest food desert. Granted, she was sued recently, accused of illegally soliciting the daughter of dog-mauling victim Antoinette Brown on behalf of a lawyer. But that case hasn't been decided yet, and this is Dallas City Council we're talking about — a little legal trouble is to be expected.

Language is a skill. Language is a tool. Language is a weapon. DaVerse Lounge empowers young people to express themselves through language. With the goal of helping middle and high school students find their voices, DaVerse offers after school programs that build up to an open-mic night. The nights are rowdy, poetic adventures that will renew or strengthen your belief in the next generation.

If you are voting for Donald Trump, Mark Davis is for you. The longtime conservative firebrand has hit all the usual marks heading into the 2016 election. Hillary: bad. Trump: not perfect, but way better than Hillary. Benghazi: definitely a real important thing, just like Hillary's email scandal, which is worse than Watergate. If you aren't voting for the Donald, Davis is perfect for you, too. Listening to his weekday morning show is like staring directly into the coming abyss with your crazy but congenial uncle. It might be a little scary, but it's always entertaining.

Readers' Pick:

Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, 106.1 KISS-FM

Sometimes, the dulcet tones of KERA can be a little too much. When that happens, there is no better antidote than KSKY, 660 on your AM dial, which provides a daily smorgasbord of the purest, crystalline conservative talk imaginable. Trump apologist Hugh Hewitt in the early morning, then Dallas' best radio talk show host, Mark Davis, before lunch and Fox News' own Sean Hannity in the afternoon. It's a balm for whatever ails you, be it blood pressure that's too low or hope for the future that's a little too high.

Readers' Pick:

KERA 90.1

It says something about Dallas that the conscience of the city is a sportscaster. But in a city this obsessed with sports, who else could it be? At age 68, Dale Hansen still knocks it out of the park on a regular basis with his sports commentary, but there are nights when he veers far afield from sports and deep into the moral heart of matters. On those nights you could hear a pin drop in Dallas while Hansen speaks. In 2014 when NFL draft candidate Michael Sam came out as a gay man, some voices in the NFL whispered that his presence on a team might make other players uncomfortable in the locker room. Hansen delivered a scathing account of instances of criminality, including brutality to women, that NFL players and coaches had seemed to stomach easily. He reminded them all that white players and coaches once had said the same kinds of things about allowing black players into locker rooms. It was vintage Hansen of a sort he has continued to provide on an irregular basis as the city has needed it. And the city always needs it.

If you have lived in Dallas any time and if you watch the news, you have seen John Fullinwider, though you may not be fully aware of it. In the ongoing protests over police shootings, he is often the old white guy with the bird's nest beard, sometimes with a megaphone in his hand but more often in the background and off to one side a bit, as if he got swept up in it by accident stepping out of a Starbucks. Take a look at his resume, however, and you will see that nothing about Fullinwider is an accident. At age 64, he has been hunting down the same villains and pursuing the same social goals his entire life. A founder in 1978 of Lumin Education, one of the city's most successful operators of private and charter schools for inner city kids, he has been on the board of 13 important social agencies and commissions in Dallas and has a fine-print list of civic awards and honors longer than his beard, which is very long. He's a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Texas in Austin with a master's in library science from TWU who earns his living as a medical researcher. In his work these days with Mothers Against Police Brutality, Fullinwider is the same smart, tough, trouble-making hippie he was on the day he got out of college. Even his foes tend to admit that Fullinwider brings integrity, intelligence and basic fairness to the fight, and Dallas is a better city for that.

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