Best Poetry Slam 2016 | DaVerse Lounge | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

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.

Doing something well once is easy. Doing it again — and again — is quite another. Clint and Whitney Barlow have made a habit of doing great things in Deep Ellum. First there was Trees. Then there was The Bomb Factory. Back for the first time in 20 years in March 2015, The Bomb Factory had an impressive, if sometimes a little patchy, first year, but that's to be expected when you're getting things off the ground. 2016, however, has seen the biggest room in Dallas' most important music neighborhood hit its stride. The big shows have been more regular — Ms. Lauryn Hill, Robert Plant, Erykah Badu's 45th birthday party — and so too have the big crowds. So it's only natural that the Barlows should be looking to do it yet again, with plans to reopen The Bomb Factory's old next door neighbor, Deep Ellum Live.

Readers' Pick:

The Bomb Factory

The venue formerly known as Red Blood Club has had a checkered history, to say the least. Stabbings, closures, infighting — RBC has had them all. But at the beginning of 2016 the old speakeasy got a new lease on life, first under the booking hand of Moody Fuqua and later Anton Schlesinger. Long known as a metal and punk bar, RBC embraced a new taste for hip-hop and dance music — thus the new name, Rhythm Beats Culture — and consequently the club enjoyed some of its most successful months in its history. The drama didn't entirely disappear. Fuqua abruptly left after only a few months on the job, but RBC's renaissance has been great news for owner Tammy Moss and for Deep Ellum, which has yet another essential music spot to check out.

This year has been transitional for Denton, and that may be putting it nicely. Since the start of the year, the college town/music hub to the north has lost two of its longest-running and storied music venues, Hailey's Club (which closed after one last New Year's Eve party) and J&J's Pizza, which lost access to the basement that had been home to free all-ages shows for two decades. But no loss hurt more than that of Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, the rough-and-tumble embodiment of Denton's gritty DIY roots and the soul of the music scene since Fry Street went to Valhalla. It even doubled as a practice space for local bands. Denton can certainly recover, but clubs like Rubber Gloves can never truly be replaced.

Mike Brooks

Think all-ages venues, and a few stereotypes probably come to mind: X's on hands, dingy venues with bad sound systems, probably punk bands onstage. Point being, the places that cater to the kids aren't always the ones offering the blue-chip concert experience. Gotta earn your stripes, you know. But The Kessler bucks that trend, offering an entirely different type of show, one that entails seeing living legends — Mavis Staples, Nick Lowe, Robyn Hitchcock — in an intimate setting and with a great sound system to boot. Like those scrappy all-ages shows we all grew up on, however, the young 'uns are peers with their elders, especially with the frequent meet-and-greets where the stars themselves are there to say hello, give an autograph and even take a photo. These are the sorts of memories that will stay with any budding music fan for a lifetime.

On sight, the dog run at downtown's Main Street Garden park is nothing special. There's a lot of concrete, half an agility course and a water fountain that works about half the time. It's pretty small, too, but weekday afternoons, just after everyone gets off work, the concrete patch turns into dog happy hour central. It's packed with big dogs, small dogs and a group of owners who've all gotten to know each other. Everyone gets their play time in and everyone goes home happy.

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