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Back in May, the Observer took its hard-hitting journalism to new heights when we reported on arguably the most important story of the year: the phallus of North Dallas. City Council member Cara Mendelsohn broke the news of an uncomfortably detailed penis graffiti drawing on a portable toilet in North Dallas. She believed that the john and its johnson may have been placed there by Dallas Area Rapid Transit because of certain residents' opposition to a rail line. In addition to the drawing, it looks like someone also wrote, "right up the butt." Just like the city's Leaning Tower in 2020, the Phallus of North Dallas will forever remain in our hearts. You say you don't remember the Leaning Tower? Exactly.

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The art of political impersonation has been sullied thanks to a certain president with a certain head of hair that looks like a cat coughed up a half-digested gerbil. This person is already such a caricature that impersonations on the mainstream level have to be even cartoonier. That's why it was so refreshing to see comedian and actor Carl Merritt bring an adaptation of a major political influencer, businessman and philanthropist to the stage that focuses on more than just his memorable voice or choice of hairstyle. His performance as H. Ross Perot in the Coppell Arts Center's production of Perot! American Patriot, written by playwright Dave Lieber, offered a measured, honest, unflinching and uncanny portrayal of a man most people probably know more from his imitators on Saturday Night Live. There's more to Merritt's performance of the independent presidential candidate than the attention he paid to Perot's mannerisms and voice. Merritt also captured Perot's entrepreneurial spirit and drive that fueled a career, a campaign and a city to its highest potential.


It takes a lot of planning and work to pull off a really epic prank that doesn't cause a felony level of mischief and damage. Sky Elements Drone Shows and marketing maven Jared Guynes, the Jared behind the annual Jared's Epic Blaster Battle at AT&T Stadium, came up with a great way to catch an entire city's attention at just the right time to pull one giant rug out from under everyone at once. Guynes had the idea to flash a giant QR code in the nighttime sky on April Fools' Day. The lighted drones formed the QR code in the sky, and it led people to the music video for Rick Astley's immortal classic "Never Gonna Give You Up." They "Rick-rolled" an entire city. The stunt caught on locally and then got picked up by every major news outlet as one of the year's most impressive pranks. They made us all, as the kids say, look.

As it becomes increasingly clear that the home of music is in the digital sphere, good old-fashioned radio has sought to keep up with the times. To that end, North Texas' beloved independent radio station, 89.3 KNON, launched an entirely online expansion of its already diverse roster of shows called KNON NOW. Among those new shows is '80s New Wave, hosted by concert promoter and ubiquitous Deep Ellum figure DJ Crash. Starting at 6 p.m. every Wednesday, DJ Crash and a special guest from the North Texas music scene spin two hours of music either originating from or inspired by '80s new wave music.

Olivia Julianna

This summer, Texas teen activist Olivia Julianna got even with far-right Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz after he body-shamed her on social media. Julianna, the political strategist for Gen-Z for Change, soon launched a fundraiser for abortion rights, a move that garnered her national headlines. It took only around a week for the 19-year-old to generate more than $2 million in donations. Those contributions are getting evenly distributed to 50 abortion funds nationwide to help safeguard reproductive health care access. Even though abortion is now illegal in Texas and other red states, activists like Julianna have continued to fight.

Mike Brooks

Charlie's Star Lounge is a colorful heaven. Whether you're drunk-singing karaoke, bumming a cig from a fellow rock lover or chatting it up at the bar with resident bartender Big Fun, Charlie's feels like home. So step up to the mic, belt out those vocals and don't be afraid to bust a move or two. Or, if you're not too keen on performing, you can play one of the bar's several classic arcade games. As Nirvana would say, this place is very much "Come As You Are," so be sure to wear your most festive outfit.

Lauren Drewes Daniels

When AT&T recently expanded its headquarters space with a public plaza known as AT&T Discovery District, Downtown Dallas gained the kind of exciting, urban high-tech spot you'd sooner find in an Asian city. The new destination area offers visitors innovative art installations, a large media wall that displays trippy digital art and a food hall with endless options. This summer, they added musical performances to the mix, with a Juneteenth show by Keite Young and a Fourth of July event with Old 97's. We've come to find that this is the perfect spot to watch a live show. It's outdoors but mostly contained away from traffic; it's family-friendly and picnic-friendly as the ground is covered by comfortable artificial grass. And you're just a few minutes from Deep Ellum if you want to keep the party going afterward.

To watch Hailey Summers dance is to dive into an exploration of the psyche. From dance battles to showcases, Summers' dance technique has enlivened stages. Summers is a two-time World of Dance Dallas champion. Her most recent win took the audience's breath away on May 21 at South Side ballroom to Flying Lotus' "Land of Honey." Through movement, Summers evokes and expresses raw emotion beyond what the voice could communicate. Grief, love, resilience and triumph flow from each limb as Summers embarks on experimental dance movement. Music of all genres guide her inner exploration. Her movement embodies her spiritual journey and draws audiences in with a gentle invitation to join her. Through her dance community Discovery Movement, Summers invites dancers to embark on their own explorative dance journey through classes and events.

You might be wondering why we have a category for "Best Starbucks" when the cafe can be found in nearly every city in America. It's because the good baristas at Mockingbird Station's Starbucks have joined in the nationwide push to unionize. Earlier this year, nine workers wrote the coffee company's CEO to tell him they intended to unionize. Although the road to forge a union has faced some hurdles, Mockingbird Station's baristas recently announced that they were victorious in their efforts.

For 36 years, Pegasus Theatre has given DFW theater fans the novelty and unique marvel of their signature stage productions made entirely in black and white, achieving the look of old films through expert makeup and stage design. And there's also RadioVizion, a series in which they emulate old-time radio tapings. The not-for-profit group, which got its start in Deep Ellum in the mid-'80s, is still delighting audiences with original productions in their style of vintage, zany, murder-y comedy that we've long loved.

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