best and worst

Mayor R. L. Thornton said, "Keep the dirt flyin’," and Dallas is once again heeding his advice. Tom Hicks and Ross Jr. certainly are-this was the year of the big deal in Big D. Here’s the real dirt: best and worst

They’re not exactly sci-fi monsters, but you sure can see their giant-sized footprints all over Dallas. Tom Hicks and Ross Perot Jr. have made a huge mark on the city this year, or at least showed us the blueprints. Hardly a week went by without us reading about something one of these two was building, buying, or bargaining for. Their arena deal with Dallas has the backhoes busy and the critics carping. Arena architect David Schwarz-who managed to make Arlington (Arlington!) glamorous with his Ballpark-has already redone downtown Fort Worth, finishing with the flourish of his Bass Performance Hall. This may be the first case of Fort Worth envy in Dallas history. The arena development (or “Victory” as Perot-istas call it) will connect the West End with the world-and beyond. Ils New Urban influence may ultimately influence downtown Dallas, whose new residents can only hope that Perot’s grand plans include a grocery store.

Hicks is reshaping Dallas’-and the world’s-business landscape even faster than the cityscape is changing. His monster-sized, deal-a-day diet keeps Hicks Muse Tate & Furst and its compatites selling, merging, and buying. Hi.s voracious appetite has mutated from a financial services and manufacturing menu into a strange spread including a Danish flower seed company, a suing of cinemas, and a home decorative accessories business. You know-mirrors, figurines, sconces, artificial flowers, baseball teams. Wail, that was another deal. But who can keep trade? Hicks, Muse alone has completed more than 230 deals valued at over $30 billion- including two oil companies in one week. The biggest Hicks gobbler was Chancellor Media Corp.. the radio conglomerate that picked up Capstar Broadcasting along the way, making Hicks king of the country’s airwaves.

Chancellor bought another outdoor advertising company to add to his Hicks-sized billboard collection-enough to plant signs Burma Shave-style along Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Sherman. Mayor Ron Kirk will leave some big footprints of his own on the Dallas landscape. Kirk did what few other Dallas mayors have been able to do: He delivered s the votes. Not only did Perot-Hicks gel their arena, but the Trinity will also get a SI billion 1 facelift that will revive the southern corridor and should turn Oak Cliff into the city’s most prized urban neighborhood.

And there were some high-heeled footprints, too, only they made impressions that were less impressive-Laura Miller, the Martha Stewart of muckraking, decided to roll around in the mud herself and got elected to the City Council (after the “Stop the Arena” wavelet. Oh, well.). Still, she’s made an impression in her first year, managing to alienate nearly everyone except, presumably, her constituents. With Miller in the chamber, broadcasts of Dallas City Council meetings are giving Dr. Laura a run for her money.

White Rock Lake was dredged, ahead of schedule and under budget. There’s rumbling of similar dig-ging over at Bachman Lake. Even the Reunion Tower Hyatt Regency is starling a redesign.

If “all goes according to the Hicks-Perot Dallas plan, in two or three years, this city will look entirely different. Here’s how it looked to us this year:

LIFE and LEISURE



MUSICAL MOMENT

BEST

After nine years of playing country-western around Dallas-Fort Worth, the Dixie Chicks won two Country Music Association awards, including the Horizon honor for most promising career development.

WORST

At a Pearl Jam concert, Dallas native and basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman bounded on stage at Reunion Arena-shirtless, shoeless, guzzling wine from a bottle-for an impromptu sing-along with friend Eddie Vedder. Several songs later, somebody backstage (finally) cut off the sound to get Rodman off the stage.



LOATHSOME BEANIE BABY STORY

BEST

Toyco gave away 10,000 Beanie Babies to the first customers at its new Grapevine Mills store. After hours of waiting, one customer went into diabetic shock and was taken to a nearby hospital He was treated, released, and returned to the mall, where his wife had thoughtfully saved his place in line.

WORST

In Grand Prairie, 32-year-old Billy D. Geer used Beanie Babies to lure a 10-year-old girl into his house, and then sexually assaulted her.



SIGHT FOR SORE EYES

BEST

Oak Cliff businessman Ralph Isenberg is on a one-man anti-graffitti campaign, spending $10,000-$ 15,000 a year on paint and labor and risking tres-passing tickets to paint over gang trash art everywhere he sees it. Gogh for it, Ralph.

WORST

The giant balls and mysterious, cage-like sculptures on the new Central Expressway are an aesthetic attempt to prevent cars from careening off overpasses. Which is one more reason aesthetics should not be left to highway engineers.



PARANOIA

BEST

David Hicks of the American Environmental Health Foundation sells anti-electromagnetic panties and slips for women-as well as underpants for men- lined with conductive silver-plated nylon designed to shield the wearer from electric fields and radiation. The high-tech lingerie bears the slogan “Surround what you want to protect.”

WORST

A homeless man in Fort Worth who stole a van and ran down a jogger told police it wasn’t his fault. It was the president’s. “President Clinton killed my wife, daughter, and the American dream,” said John Mark Webb, 47. “I am going to get back at everyone because I can’t get back at him.”



STUPID SCHOOL DRESS CODES

BEST

Piano schools banned “South Park” T-shirts and other garb because the cartoon falls under the “provocative, offensive, violent or drug-related pictures or slogans” clause. We can buy that: If you’re going to be tough, be tough.

WORST

Lakewood Elementary School’s oxymoronic “optional” uniforms are a result of a DISD policy that requires 80 percent of all students in a school to vote for uniforms in order for them to be mandatory. If you’re going to be weak, don’t even bother to try.



KITSCH

BEST

The. “Daddy-O’s Stuff’ exhibit at Contemporary An Center of Fun Worth. Bob “Daddy-O” Wade showcased his collection of stuff-piaster Menus de Milo statues, ;i velvet painting of Jesus, a trained Tecate beer can. vintage postcards featuring romantic images of cowboys and cowgirls.

WORST

Dallas Symphony’s American Music Festival featuring a triple bill of Peter, Paul, and Mary, the world premiere of the concert version of The X-Files theme, and an orchestral tribute to, yep, John Denver.



ADDITIONS TO THE ARTS SCENE

BEST

The Margaret and Trammell Crow Asian Art Collection is a jewel-box of a museum, filled with a fabulous collection, beau tifully displayed and lighted.

WORST

Fort Worth Dallas Ballet and the Kimbell replaced nationally respected directors Paul Mejia ant Ted Pillsbury, respectively, with no-names from nowhere.



INSECT INVASION

BEST

October’s monarch butterfly mi gration brought the graceful black-and-orange creatures to town on their way to Mexico. This year, the festival-happy (oiks In Grapevine even managed to make a dime on the deal by staging their first annual Butterfly Flutterby weekend, which attracted tourists from as far away as, well, McKinney.

WORST

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. Last summer, Dallas was the windshield: In addition to heat, drought, and smoke, the city was visited by a third plague-a scourge of crickets, who set off a horrendous stink as they died by the shovelful.



HISTORICAL TV MOMENTS

BEST

KERA-TV/Channel 13 produced “The U.S.-Mexican War 1846-1848,” on a sub-shoestring $2 million budget. Its first major PBS telecast since LBJ (in 1991) put the station back on the national map.

WORST

We wish it were all a dream, like the time Bobby Ewing died and Pam woke up to find he was really in the shower. But J.R. and the gang were back at Southfork tor a cheesy reunion in Dallas: War of the Ewings. Next time we’ll shoot J.R.



PR GAFFES

BEST

At the end of Barney’s new sing-along cassette, (touted as “perfect for a short or long car trip anywhere!”), a voice-over announces, Instead of having those little s- clamoring to stop at the next McDonald’s, or those interminable whines of ’When we gonna get there?’ or T really gotta go, Mommy,” plug their ears with these latest banalities…and you’re guaranteed to arrive free of stress.” The real Barney was not amused. We were.

WORST

A medical company tried to score brownie points by donating favors for the guests at a Dallas Rotary Club luncheon. Goodie bags were filled with a set of bed sheets, a YWCA pass, a pen and note pad, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a bath robe. But as the guests began arriving the Rotarians discovered a goodie they had not expected: a set of six Trojan-Enz condoms stuffed in the pocket of each robe.



REMEMBRANCES OF DIFFICULT MEN

BEST

Dolly Kyle Browning, a classmate of Bill Clinton, penned the fictional, semi-autobiographical Purpose of the Heart, the story of a girl’s lengthy love affair with an Arkansas teenager who has his heart set on the White House. In the book, die woman chastises the presidential character for lying. He replies, “Don’t you see? If someone prints a story and even one word of it isn’t true, then the story isn’t true. I can just say, ’It isn’t true, and that’s that.”’

WORST

When Hope Can Kill, Dr. Lucy Papillon’s book about the emotional battering she endured over a two-year relationship with a man named “Jonathan.” The author didn’t say whether “Jonathan” was actually Dr. Walker Railey. Papillon writes, “I felt like a piece of ice in a cup of hot coffee. My startling initial attraction to him awakened every molecule of me.. .the tone of our voices, our eye contact, and our body language were not just intimate, but absolutely steamy.



TIME TO INHALE

BEST

Two Grand Prairie residents looking in Mountain Creek Lake Park for a lost dog at midnight stumbled across a field of 284 marijuana plants about 6 feet tall, along with gardening tools, a hammock, and a radio. Police torched the entire field.

WORST

Fires in Mexico caused a haze of dirty smoke that blew north and hovered over Dallas for weeks. Too bad they weren’t burning marijuana.



GETTING THE WRINKLES OUT

BEST

Dallas was officially recognized as the “best pressed” city among five cities surveyed by Rowenta, a leading manufacturer of irons. Dallasites have “meticulous ironing habits, pressing everything from jeans to socks,” and they out-press the competition (Minneapolis. Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix). In the poll, several Dallasites admitted to ironing in the nude.

WORST

Dallas plastic surgeon Sam T. Hamra on the best time to go under the knife: “Do il all at once, like a house, and do it between the ages of 44 and 48,” he says. “You’ll never have to do it again…” Unless, of course, you keep aging.



REEL NEWS

BEST

The Granada movie theater took its quirky dinner-drinks-and-a-show concept and citified it with the opening of the Granada Prestonwood, a five-screen theater with ergonomi-cally correct seats, a gourmet menu, and-thank God-a full bar. for those nights when the feature happens to be something like Leaving Las Vegas.

WORST

At die General Cinema Town East 5 in Mesquite, moviegoers expecting to see The Ride-a Billy Graham film about a rodeo cowboy who teaches a Christian boy to ride a bull– saw. instead. Ride, an R-rated film starring rappers Snoop Doggy Dogg and Luther Campbell. The Morning News had printed a review of the latter. alongside a list of theaters showing the former.



LIVE MUSIC VENUE

BEST

The Gypsy Tea Room gets points for easy bar access, good acoustics, and a mellow back room where you can lounge between sets. Plus, for smaller shows, waitresses actually come and take your drink order from the middle of the SRO space.It doesn’t get much better than that.

WORST

Starplex. There’s a reason why concert promoters refer to this kind of venue as a “shed.” You ’d have better sound and ventilation inside an actual shed than you do at this poorly constructed amphitheater.



TABLE MANNERS

BEST

The Mansion is cultivating the next generation of epicureans- with a kids-only course in fine dining. Peas on a fork isn’t as easy as it sounds.

WORST

Robert Arthur Krimm broke into a house, stole cash and jewelry, and then nonchalantly finished off a plate of leftover spaghetti he found in die fridge. Police knew they had their man when they saw the spaghetti sauce on his chin.



DESIGN DECISION

BEST

The Cathedral of Hope-the largest gay and lesbian congregation in the world-declined Philip Johnson’s suggestion that the outside of the giant church be a brilliant salmon pink. Nobody wants to come out that much.

WORST

The Mushroom House. Tom Workman’s creation on the corner of J Preston and Arm-strong proves once again de gustibus non disputan-dum. Maybe he could call ’ Philip Johnson. Cheesecake Factory. Aqua-Knox. Star Canyon, Palomi-no. Truluck’s…



TYPE RE-CASTING

BEST

Emmy-winning Wishbone, the locally produced series about a Jack Russell terrier, was almost cancelled due to lack of funding. At the 11th hour an angel appeared, bringing back the lovable mutt for another season.

WORST

Barry Switzer’s walk-on role in HBO s Arli$$ called for him to portray a small-town Texas high school football coach. That way. he only had to act like a football coach, not actually te one.

shake it, shake it, baby official taste test # 1



BEST:

Clip’s

ALSO RANS:

Prince Highland Park Pharmacy Lucky

WORST:

Wild about Harry’s

They know how to shake, so we figured they must know a good shake when they slurp one. Unlike other dancers, belly dancers can afford to indulge In the sweet stuff because their art is not about hard abs-to belly-dance, you’ve got to have a tielly. Every Saturday,Neenah Crocker teaches belly dancing at Marrakesh, the Moroccan restat rant on Lovers Lane-and her students are a motley bunch. One girl is working her way through law school belly dancing. Another is taking belly dancing because it was recommended by her chiropractor. We suspect most of them belly-dance so they can wear those cool costumes. We dropped in with a selection of what we considered contenders for the title of best milkshake, and sure enough,these belly-flutterers knew their shakes. “Tastes like frozen SlimFast,” said one.”Tastes like something you get in a hospital.”added another.

FOOD and DRINK



DINING TREND

BEST

The proliferation of small, not-too-expensive, chef-on-the-premises, neighborhood restaurants like Tarantino’s, Liberty, and Bistro A means that Dallas is at long last regarding dining as an experience instead of an event.

WORST

On the other hand, the chain gangs are creeping into the high-dollar range. “Chain restaurant” used to mean “cheap restaurant,” but not anymore. Chef-artists have become chef-businessmen at Dallas’ fine dining establishments, which are mostly multiples or replicates of restaurants elsewhere. Count ’em: Mediterraneo, Maggiano’s Cheesecake Factory. Aqua-Knox, Star Canyon, Palomino. Truluck’s. Count ’em again in Orlando. And Las Vegas…



HOT DOG

BEST

Wild About Harry’s on Knox Street serves our favorite Chicago hot dog, but it’s just part of the nostalgic trend back towards the all-American, un-PC tube steak. Asher’s serves a kosher dog; Angry Dog a great chili dog; and PD Johnson’s entire business is based on the dog. Even the Ballpark’s hot dog has been improved.

WORST

7 Eleven. It’s time they upgraded their weenie program.



CELEBRATION OF TEXAS FOOD

BEST

The annual Corny Dog Styling Contest in October at Sons of Hermann Hall pays humorous homage to the revered Stale Fair corny dog, one of the few seasonal foods left. Imagine a corny dog as the Virgin of Guadalupe, com dog as Albert Einstein, com dog as Monica Lewinsky. Open wide.

WORST

We’re almost embarrassed to mention it, but The Fort Worth Vegetarian Society hosted the 10th Annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cookoff in Cowtown in October. Isn’t “Vegetarian Chili” an oxymoron? Does anyone in Terlingua know about this?



CARNIVOROUS EXPERIENCE

BEST

Texas de Brazil, En garde– waiters come at you with swords from every direction at this Brazilian churrascaria, a hyper- kinetic South Ameri-can steakhouse where lamb, pork, sausage, chicken, and beef from almost every part of the cow are skewered before serving. And they never stop serving here until you beg tor mercy. Or dessert.

WORST

Surf ’ n’ turf. On steroids, apparently. Your basic steak and seafood dinner, the ’70s big night out, is back, but this time the huge hunks of meat cost $25 or $30, and the gigantic lobsters are twice that. Three Forks, Pappas Bros., Sullivan’s, and Capital Grille are the latest to join the beef parade, and they all serve the same humongous meat and potatoes at the same astronomical prices.



LUNCH DEAL FOR TWO

BEST

Twenty-five years later, you can still pick up fool-long poorboys and drinks for two at Antoines on Harry Hines for exactly $6.04.

WORST

At Neiman’s FreshMarket, two chicken salad sandwiches and a couple of Cokes cost $ 16.40. It’s not the laminate ambiance that runs up the tab. Bottom line: This is a lunchroom with a logo.



LASAGNA

BEST

Cipriani’s in Las Colinas makes lasagna the way it’s supposed to be-lightly constructed, not overwhelmed by thick layers of meat and cheese. The noodles are housemade, the cheese is imported from Italy, and a thin layer of ground veal gives it substance, not weight.

WORST

PoPolo’s overwrought lasagna is a Tower of Babel on the palate.



BAR NEWS

BEST

” Japan s economy may iv sinking, but one import is rising: Sake is now the drink for drinkers in the know. Tei Tei, Sushi and Sake, and Blue Fish all carry various brands, some to be served warm and some cold. It’s up to you to be cool and know the difference.

WORST

We think of it as a coed cocktail. The pretty but precious Cosmopolitan (cranberry juice, vodka, and triple sec) is the most-requested cocktail right now in Dallas bars, unfortunately replacing the pristine, cold elegance of a classic martini with-how can we say this in PC terms?-a chick drink.



PERSON TO KNOW

BEST

Al Biernat (owner-manager of Biernat \s) and Brian Perry (Al’s replacement as manager of the Palm) are going mano-a-mano for the highest number of mentions in the gossip columns. (Biernat is ahead with 22 in Alan Peppard’s column last year). Basically, to have fun at their restaurants, you need to make friends with these guys.

WORST

No, he’s not dead. Harvey Gough doesn’t care if you’re a friend or a stranger. Al Goff’s Hamburgers, everyone is treated with the same even-handed rudeness.



WINE LIST

BEST

We prefer usable to impressive: The Bistro on Lovers Lane has 100 wines, and only six bottles cost more than $60.

WORST

You could read the Pappas Bros.” wine list-or War and Peace. And out of 1.500 wines on the list, 80 percent cost more than $75. Makes a box of Franzia sound good.



RIBS

BEST

Main Street Barbecue, at 406 N. Main in Euless, is open only on Thursdays. Fridays, and Saturdays. The line starts on Wednesday.

WORST

Eatzi’s. Face it, guys, ribs are not-and never will be-fast food.



SALAD

BEST

But the salad bar at Eatzi’s beats all. For $6.99, you get a head’s worth of wild and garden greens topped with your choice of bacon, blue cheese, chickpeas, sprouts, croutons, and a big piece of grilled salmon (or chicken, for $ 1.50 less).

WORST

Traci’s strange concoction of sugary dressed, cheese-topped, broiled (shudder) spinach is one of the most awful ideas to make it out of a kitchen.



BURGER

BEST

Prince of Hamburgers serves the best burger in town-a thin patty and appropriate condiments on a thoroughly toasted bun. made when you order it. And while we’re at it, the onion rings are fabulous.

WORST

Balls. A hundred T-ball teams can be wrong.



AMBIANCE

BEST

Everyone’s happy at Mecca, the venerable coffee shop on Harry Hines. The Spam cans tilled with fresh flowers, the archaeological layers of magazine articles, kitsch, and clippings on the walls, and waitress Becci’s nev er-failing cheerfulness make even a Monday morning mellow.

WORST The only way to approach the Gold Bar is to pretend you’re a minor character in a John LeCarre spy novel. The half-baked elegance and the bowling-alley acoustics are just what you’d expect from the poshest bar in the Eastern Bloc.



CLOSINGS

BEST

Glad to see them go: Clive & Stuart. Yegua Creek, Fabulosa!. Joey’s, NorthSouth. Fog City Diner.

WORST

Sad to see them go: Mark’s on Henderson, What Else. Tarazza, the old Watel’s.



CHOCOLATE CAKE

BEST

Truluck’s. Do not even pretend to resist the triple-layer, dark dessert with its thick milk chocolate icing.

WORST

Maggiana’s. Don’t drop it-you might hurt yourself.



NACHOS

BEST

Each little nacho at Mice’s Taco Diner in Preston Center East is an individual creation-the components are carefully layered so that every one is like a little work of art-team, cheese, chicken, gua^ camole, and salsa, with a swirl of sour cream on top.

WORST

Old-inner Casa Dominguez is sadly Hit of step with modem Mexican food, trailing the bell curve even with the basics.

holy guacamole official taste test # 2



BEST:

Prime’s

ALSO RANS: Cantina Laredo Herrera’s Rosita’s

WORST:

Mi Carina

We come alive-gospel singers became our judges of Dallas’ best guacamole, Betty Lewis and the Angelics, a tra- ditional gospel-singing group, sing at a different kind of church-Dick’s Last Resort-because Betty feels that “the love of the Lord” can be experienced anywhere. And they have a loyal following, Congregations come by the busload for brunch and music. After Betty and the Angelics finished their inspired performance, they approached the taste test with more amazing grace, as serious as kids in Sunday school about their chip and dip assignant. All agreed that all the entries were good, but different strokes for different folks, and the Angelics like it spicy. The most common criticism was “too bland.’” A little mixture of this and that makes it holy,” proclaimed one band member.

“I smoke a few cigarettes, drink a little whiskey, and cuss sometimes, but I love the Lord, And Lord knows, I love my guacamole,”said Betty, Amen.

GOODS and SERVICES



OPTICAL SHOP

BEST

Suburban Optical has been making eyeglasses for more than 25 years-the staff offers friendly, expert, and fast service. But the big bonus is the collection of Eugene Goldbeck early Texas panoramic photographs on the walls. They provide a wonderful testing ground for your new glasses.

WORST

Our relationship with EyeCare Associates in Richardson was combative. We got our eyes checked here, then practically had to tight the staff to get a prescription because we wanted to buy frames elsewhere.



VALET PARKING

BEST

A tie: The Mansion, where you expect the best, and Javier’s, where you get it.

WORST

The Crescent Court. The guys try their best, but the courtyard design creates traffic quagmires. There’s no alternative but anger-if you try to self-park, chances are your ticket won’t be validated, and it’ll end up costing you more.



ATTEMPT TO MAKE CITY LIFE EASIER

BEST

You don’t have to worry anymore that you spent your last dollar in Aspen and don’t have enough cash to get your car out of DFW Airport. Credit cards are now accepted. It only took 26 years, but we celebrate progress wherever we can find it.

WORST

DART’S ticket machines. Who designed these malfunctioning little monsters? And who snookered DART into buying them?



CITY DRIVING

BEST

Central Expressway. And who among us thought we’d live long enough to say it?

WORST

LBJ. It can’t be fixed, only endured. The new old Central.



WAY TO KEEP COOL

BEST

Water misters. Walking along Greenville Avenue this summer was like strolling through a greenhouse. Every restaurant, it seems, had invested in a mister to send out cool clouds over al fresco diners at regular intervals, and create a Seattle atmosphere on the steaming sidewalks of Dallas.

WORST

The wave pool at Hurricane Harbor-which did record business this year–holds 1 million gallons of water. The problem? It also holds 1200 swimmers at a time. Better hope there’s plenty of chlorine.



PLACE TO BUY A BIBLE

BEST

Piano is the only place in the country where all four of the major Christian bookstore chains (Mardel Christian Office Educational Supply, Family Christian Stores, Baptist Bookstores, and Berean Christian Stores) are going head-to-head in a purely mammon-driven competition.

WORST

After being mistakenly identified as a religious bookstore in the Morning News, Forbidden Books near Fair Park received a number of calls for Bibles. The only one in stock at the store, which specializes in the occult and arcane, was the Satanic Bible, whatever that is (and we don’t want to know).



COSMETICS COUNTER

BEST

Shawna Patrick is a roving cosmetics saleswoman at the downtown Neiman’s, and she knows every make-up line on the floor. She’s also got a free hand with the samples so you can try before you buy. But she’s good-you’ll buy.

WORST

Whole Foods has a cosmetics counter, and evidently the staff wishes it didn’t. Be prepared to help the salesperson rummage behind the counter for the products you want. Of course, you’d better know what you want before you walk in there.



BARBER

BEST

The Grooming Room, just off the Culwell and Son on Hill-crest, is a little strong with the men’s club atmosphere but after all, this is a barber shop. The haircuts are not too expensive, and the big leather chairs, stacks of magazines, and free Cokes remind us of the good old days.

WORST

Inwood Barber Shop was touted for years as one of the last real barber shops-the kind of place you took your son for his first “boy’s regular, with whitewalls.” So we were horrified to learn that a haircut now requires a reservation-like a ladies salon. The good old days are going fast.



REASON TO GO TO GRAPEVINE MILLS MALL

BEST

The Vann shoe store. It has the biggest selection of certified cool shoes for teenage boys- even the squarest of parents can pick a good pair here.



WORST

Off Rodeo Drive Beverly Hills promises 30 to 70 percent discounts on “complete wardrobes and acces-sories for men and women” from designer lines including Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, and Hugo Boss. Dream on. All we found was picked-over junk.



DRY CLEANERS

BEST

Sunshine Cleaners is one of the older (and still family-run) cleaners in town. They provide same-day service-even for those who can’t drop off their clothes before 9 a.m. They also do a good job mending, sometimes finding lost buttons or tears without having them pointed out.

WORST

Bibbentucker’s. Yes, we know we rated this one “best” last year, but maybe we were dazzled by the free lemonade. We’ve soured on this cleaner now, after realizing that though the lemonade was free, the cleaning was not only expensive, but ineffective. We’ve heard numerous complaints from our Uptown readers, many of whom have left the fold for clean er pastures.



USE OF A CELL

PHONE

BEST

In exchange for permission to use microwave frequencies, PrimeCo. Personal Communications gave the city of Dallas a $9.5 million digital radio system to carry messages for all city departments, including police and fire.

WORST

Acutel made microwave frequencies a nightmare for wannabe customers signing up for cell service. The company advertises monthly consumer costs of $20 or $30, but the provisions in fine print more than double that. Customers who call to complain get-guess what?- a busy signal.



VIDEO STORE

BEST

Starlight Video is a treasure trove of hard-to-find videos for sale and rent, specializing in foreign, art house, and classic films. As a test. we called to buy all six films in the “Thin Man” series. All were in stock and available for $ 19.95.

WORST

The bigger the store, the worse the selection-how does that work? And yet it’s true. Just browse any Blockbuster.



CAR WASH

BEST

The A laddin Car Wash on In-wood Road has some of the friendliest staff in town, and every lime you gel your car washed, you get a rebate on the next one. For the well -organized customer who keeps his receipts, the 11th wash is free.

WORST

Nothing about Vintage Car Wash on Preston Road is easy. First, you have to navigate your way into the three lanes of traffic in the driveway; then, you have to negotiate your way around a strong sales pitch for an expensive wash. Inside, there’s only one chair for the non-shoe shine set. and the junk for sale looks like it came from a Stuckey’s in West Texas. Whatever happened to a row of chairs and some month-old magazines?

cops & donuts official taste test # 3



BEST:

Sunrise Donuts (They were “lighter,” according to our officers.)

ALSO-RANS:

Donuts For You Donut Palace Mustang Donuts

LOSER:

Southern Maid

Everyone Knows the cliché that cops eat a lot of doughnuts, So we served doughnuts to seven policemen (sheriffs,actually), including one tough female officer who patrols trie highways for big-rig violations.Though doughnuts now come in as many flavors as ice cream, we figured our group to be an old-fashioned bunch: We took glazed raised doughnuts as the standard and put five varieties before our expert panel of picky police,Their comments tended to be as succinct as Joe Friday’s, Jlust the facts,ma’am.)”No.2 tastes like it was cooked in chicken grease””Too doughy.””l can’t swallow it.” “The best.” Anyway, they claimed that cops don’t eat doughouts anymore,They prefer bagels.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT



LEAP TO THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

BEST

Dallas model/actress Angie Harmon hit the big time with the intelligent role of Abbie Carmichael on NBC’s show “Law and Order.”

WORST

Piano hit the big lime, too, with news slories on ils epidemic of heroin deaths in Esquire, The Economist, The New York Times, and Dateline NBC. MTV aired ’True Life: Fatal Dose,” showing teens in Piano injecting and snorting heroin. “I kinda feel like I’m already dead,” said “Eric,” shown plunging a needle into a vein.



COP STORY

BEST

Kyle Grimes became the Dallas Police Academy’s oldest recruit at age 50, following in the footsteps of sons Gabriel and Ezekiel. both Dallas cops.

WORST

Dallas officer Don Hutson accidentally shot his partner, Shawn Freeman, when the duo responded to a call. Hutson is left-handed; Freeman is right-handed. Evidently the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.



MAKING CRIME PAY

BEST

An Arlington couple was arrested and charged with stealing more than 500 pieces of luggage from D/FW Airport. They used the contents to slock their booth at Trader’s Village flea market. Used underwear, anyone?

WORST

Timothy E. Wheeler served two years in Dallas county jail for possession of cocaine, complaining of a toothache the whole tune. He was rewarded-uh, awarded-$8,937 for dental costs and “pain and suffering” by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan.



LIFE IMITATES E.R.

BEST

Capital murder suspect Charles Don Flores, at Parkland hospital for treatment, overpowered a deputy and was grappling for his gun when a medical student grabbed the weapon and an anesthesiologist wrestled the suspect to the ground and cuffed him.

WORST

Cameron Olivers, 22, arrested for robbery in Fort Worth, escaped from two officers into rush hour traffic and was hit by a truck. Taken to the emergency room, Olivers, half-naked, again tried to escape-only to run into the arms of a guard.



PRESCRPTION EXCUSES

BEST

Jason Berke, 27, was arrested at D/FW Airport and charged with illegally importing 42 tablets of Rohypnol, the so-called “date ; rape” drug. Berke told a federal judge he’d tried to buy sleeping pills from a Peruvian pharmacist, who suggested Rohypnol instead. He had to buy two bottles, Berke claimed, because the pharmacy would not make change for a 30-dollar bill. (He was later acquitted.)

WORST

Ten months alter a nurse at St. Paul hospital was fired, officials opened his locker and found it stuffed with medication intended for 74 patients. David Mark Anthony. 29. told authorities he failed to administer the medication because he got too busy.



BODY COUNTS

BEST

UT Southwestern announced a surplus of cadavers for students to dissect.

WORST

Denton City Council members voted this summer to charge ambulance patients who weigh more than 300 pounds an extra $25.



COURTROOM JUDGMENT

BEST

A jury in Denton handed Eddie Dwayne Perot two life terms for his third and fourth DWI offenses. Perot didn’t kill anyone, but he was so drunk at his arrest he didn’t realize that two of his tires were shredded to the metal rims.

WORST

Two months after pleading guilty to bribing a prosecutor and receiving a two-year prison sentence, Dallas lawyer Vivian Ray Davis was still practicing law; his law license had not been revoked. The courts may be slow, but the bar is even slower.



EXPRESSIONS OF REMORSE

BEST A driver at the Greyhound terminal in downtown Dallas left his bus unattended at 2:30 a.m. When he returned 5 minutes later, it was gone. At 3 a.m., customers in a DeSoto Waffle House watched in horror as the bus burned. A man strolled in, remarking that he stole the bus and blew it up. “He started saying that he is against the government and was being tracked by a computer,” the restaurant manager said. “I asked him if he was crazy. He said no.”

WORST

Charged with the 1994 slaying of two Blockbuster Video employees. Leon David Dorsey IV. now serving a 60-year term for another murder, told the victims’ families: “Why are you going to sit there and worry yourself about thai? Move on. I could have come in here and been, ’Oh, I’m sorry; I’m so bad.’But I don’t feel like that.”



FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT

BEST

When Stacie Drew Lawrence filed for divorce from singer Tracy Lawrence, her lather also filed suit against Lawrence for the $63,000 he wishes he hadn’t spent on the wedding. In the suit, John Drew says Lawrence “had no intention of honoring his wedding vows” and staged the elaborate event to attract publicity.

WORST

Heather Dolan wanted to take her daughter to the Spice Girls concert in August, but the girl’s grandmother, who has custody, said no. So Dolan sued her mother-in-law. Judge Pat Andrews ruled for Dolan. You go, girl.

pizza & kids official taste test # 4



BEST:

AL’s

ALSO RANS:

Campisi Piggie Pies Sal’s Marco

WORST:

Arcodoro

We figure kids eat more pizza than any other segment of the population. So we cast as our pizza judges five children performing in Showboat at the Dallas Summer Musicals. We obligingly delivered pizza between the matinee and evening performances in the Green Room at the Music Hall. We didn’t allow for how sophisticated kids are these days:The girl with the pigtails didn’t eat much pizza, she told us. She prefers Japanese food and maintained that pizza isn’t pizza without real mozzarella cheese. But all these kids were opinionated. One pizza merited the comment,”lt’s the sickest thing I’ve tasted in the whole world,”Another pie was spit out, with the comment that it tasted like cockroaches, We were fearful for Al’s cheese pie, which elicited”lt’sthe bone!” from one boy, but we found out that this was a good thing. They all preferred cheesy pie with a thick crust, so our favorite pizza from Marco’s didn’t have a chance, Still, we think it’s the bone.

POLITICS and MEDIA



PEROT PONTIFICATES ON THE PRESIDENT

BEST

“I had to go public because we cannot be leaderless in a ship without a rudder right now.’’ (Maybe later?)

WORST

“When we smell something we don’t smell until our heart tells us what it is.”



BYE-BYE BIRDIES

BEST

The Beau Nash courtyard attracted too many birds for diners’ comfort. So the Crescent built a $6,000 cat hotel and moved in a pair of SPCA inmates to patrol the premises. Don’t lake your eyes off your sea bass special.

WORST

When Carrollton officials bulldozed a migrant egret rookery in “Operation Excrement” last July, scores of birds were killed or injured, outraging residents. “If these people had just waited a month, it all would have been over,” said a state biologist. “They go south.” The cost to treat survivors? About $126,000.



NEWS, ON THE NET

BEST

Dallas Examiner, an African-American weekly newspaper, put the DISD’s financial information on ils web site (www.-dallasexaminer.com).

WORST

In a fever to be first with its scoop that the Secret Service would confirm a presidential tryst with Monica Lewinsky, the Morning News rail the story on its web site and then,”doubting its source retracted the story- before it appeared in the next morning’s edition. but after it had made Nightline and the wire Services.



FUTILE INVOCATION OF GOD

BEST

“I want the Messiah.” Dallas school board member Jose Plata on his hopes for a new DISD superintendent.

WORST

“You can take what we predicted as nonsense. I would rather you don’t believe what I say anymore.” Hon-Ming Chen, leader of the Taiwanese UFO cult that believed God would appear at 12:01 a.m. on March 25 on Channel 18. (He didn’t show.)



AD VEHICLE

BEST

The Book. Neiman’s own high-concept magalog, blends short, well-written articles about lifestyle and sheer style with gorgeous, imaginative fashion photography. You hate to throw it away, it’s so elegant, fun, and expensive-looking. And it’s free-if you have a Neiman’s charge account.

WORST

The Dal lus Observer is free, too. And we understand they need to keep the ads apart. But does that justify 17,000-word articles about anything and everything!



EXIT

BEST

Bob Cran-dall left American Airlines at its peak. On his last day, water cannons fired streams of water as the airplane carrying him to a post-retirement vacation taxied down the railway. But the boat he and his wife tried to sail across the Atlantic broke down. Stick to the air. Bob.

WORST

Last year PageNet founder George Perrin was forced to stop construction and sell his S20-mu-lion-plus. 76,605-sq.-ft. mansion on Strait Lane. This year he was forced out of the company. Looking forward to ’99. George?



STOCK SWAP

BESTT.I. took stock instead of cash when it sold its DRAM chip plant to Micron. The deal closed October 1. A month later the stock had soared 50 percent.

WORST

Within three weeks of acquiring DSC Communications for stock, the French company Alcatel’s shares plummeted by a third. Now. former DSC shareholders can’t see a baguette at La Madeleine without tossing up breakfast. They’ve filed a class action suit.



POLITICAL PHENOMENON

BEST

GOP Rep. Dick Armey of Irving was voted second-meanest member of Congress by 1,200 House staffers polled in Wash-ingtonian magazine. Fortunately, staffers can’t vote. Republican members re-elected Armey as majority leader anyway.

WORST

The Democratic Party once had a stranglehold on local county offices. Then Republicans made their case that good government requires a two-party system. The argument worked too well: Now the GOP has a stranglehold on every elected office in Dallas, Collin, and (almost) Tarrant counties. Hey, guys, good job- but what happened to the two-party system?



COMMUNICA TIONS BREAK- THROUGH

BEST

911 was a good idea, but 311 is a wonderful idea. Instead of clogging up the emergency system with cat-in-the-tree problems, operators at the new number handle life’s little annoyances. And they know what time the Cowboys play.

WORST

In December, all residences and businesses in greater Dallas were forced to adopt 10-digit dialing. Now, to phone even your neighbor, you have to dial 214 or 972.

chili & rodeo riders official taste test # 5



THE BEST:

Tolbert’s (By a landslide)

ALSO RANS:

Mania’s Daughters Diner Club Schmita Casa Navar

THE WORST:

EI Fenix

Chili being the national dish of Texas and all, we figured rodeo cowboys would be the natural judges. We went out to the Mesquite Rodeo and gathered a wild hunch of bulldogging, steer-wrestling, bronco-busting cowboys to taste our bowls of red. (Wick Fowler’s classic: plain chili con came, no beans.) Dallas isn’t the chili town it used to be when Frank X.Tolbert was chili’s high priest and Shanghai Jimmy served chili rice downtown (“chili rice is very nice”).We hadn’t quite counted on how rugged these guys would be-one claimed he couldn’t eat chili without ketchup, Pretty tough.On the other hand, the legendary Western sentimental side showed,too:”l only eat chili if my Momma makes it,”The losing bowl took hits:”Tastes like it came from the gutter at the State Fair,”and” I’ve seen coffee thicker’n that. The winner took it by virtue of its beef-chunks instead of ground meat.

FUN AND GAMES



SCOUT’S HONOR

BEST

Fourteen-year old Andrew Olsen of Irving received his Eagle badge in April, making Andrew the ninth Eagle of nine brothers in the Olsen family and taking sibling rivalry to new plateaus.

WORST

On a camping trip, scoutmaster James Shepherd of Troop 890 in Lake Highlands ordered a flock of chickens released for his 65 Scouts to chase down and kill with their hands and hatchets.



LITTLE BUGGERS

BEST

When an underground leak of thousands of gallons of gasoline forced nearly 50 North Dallas families to evacuate their homes, Dallas Water Utilities deployed Psuedomanoas, a type of gas-guzzling bacteria, to help scarf up the toxic spill.

WORST

Last summer’s drought-like conditions led to a proliferation of the flesh-eating Naegleria fowleri in North Texas lakes and streams. The microbes killed two boys.



BULL STORY

BEST

Dodge Durango. star bull at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, enjoyed a perfect season in competition, bucking all 26 cowboys who tried to ride him.

WORST

The steer-shaped topiary in Fort ; Worth’s Sundance Square, which had its nominal maleness pruned away by order of the Square manager. “I thought he was very | natural-looking for a steer,” said landscaper Robin Hartmen. “Now I think his face is kind of grimacing.”



USE OF A WEAPON

BEST

At the dedication for the Kenneth J. Mitchum Gun Range near Hutchins, Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles, on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, instead blasted the ribbon with a Heckler & Koch 9 mm submachine gun.

WORST

The Dallas Gun Club-located in Carrollton-trucked in more than 20.000 pigeons for a pigeon shoot, live skeet?



SPORTS MOMENT

BEST

Douglas Singer of Grapevine doesn’t even play baseball, but when he caught hero Mark McGwire’s 67th home run last summer in St. Louis, he linked himself with baseball’s best story in three decades.

WORST

A topless dancer at King’s Cabaret claimed Cowboys lineman Larry Allen had forced her to have sex with him outside the club, but police dropped the inquiry when they found what Allen had claimed all along- that the sex was consensual. Allen’s lawyer said the lineman was relieved and was ready to focus on his two top priorities- football and “his family.” So we’re interested: What’s the family consensus on “consensual sex?”



RESULT OF THE NBA STRIKE

BEST

The Dallas Mavericks may actually end the season in a tie for first place. Of course, they’ll be tied with 29 teams.

WORST

It’s harder than ever to get Stars tickets because Mavs fans have to get their nachos-and-beer fix somewhere.



CLUTCH PERFORMANCE

BEST

The Rangers won their final five games against rival Anaheim to win the American League West and a place in the playoffs.

WORST

Once in the playoffs, the Rangers managed only one run in a three game sweep by the Yankees.



TEEN MANAGEMENT

BEST

In an attempt to eliminate places to hide weapons and drugs, the new high school under con- struction in Allen will not have lockers. We’re intrigued: Where will all the backpacks go?

WORST

An end-of-school party sponsored by KKDA-FM at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor drew more than 8,000 teens and erupted into rioting when employees tried to close admission gates, where another 2,000 students were clamoring to get in. More than 100 police officers were called in to quell fistfights and looting.



SLAP SHOT BEST

The Dallas Stare paid $17 million for Brett Hull’s leg- endary slap shot. He shoots, he scores. At 95 miles an hour.

WORST:

Evidently Stars defenseman Sergei Zuboy didn’t score with his wife. The couple got into a fight after the Stars lost in the Western Conference finals. She slapped him; he went after her with a kitchen knife. He was charged with assault-a game misconduct?



WAY TO GET GIRLS BEST

Travis Dean Crawford, on parole from federal prison ^^ for fraud, was arrested and charged with violating the conditions of his parole by forging credentials identifying him as an 1RS agent, which authorities said he used to impress women. Come to think of it, a tax break does sound pretty seductive.

WORST

Waleed Abdullah Jabar, reportedly “a gu;ird for a Saudi Arabian prince,” told his UNT date that she would be “the perfect wife.” But apparently, he wouldn’t be the perfect husband. When she resisted his advances, he beat her and poked her with a sharp object, costing her an eye. Jabar was arretted and charged with aggravate assault.

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