Best & Worst 2001

Yes, it’s that time of year again—time to reflect on the best and worst of our great city, from food to sports to media. The biggest story, in case you live in a cave, was the election, starring Dallas’ own George Dubya and Dick

Who didn’t feel a lurch at the pit of the stomach while riding the Great Political Roller Coaster of Indecision 2000? For political jumkies, a tied electionwas the answers to their prayers. And, just as the old adage warns, they came to regret it. For the first week they relished every up and down: a recount here, a butterfly ballot there. In the second week they began to cringe: a court ruling here, a manual recount there. By the third week they were suffering: a pregnant chad here, a postmark there. Every hour brought a victory or a defeat, an up and a down. Into the fourth week the nation staggered, while families rummaged for their schoolchild’s textbook copy of the Constitution.

Undeterred, your D Magazine Best & Worst team soldiered onward, conscious of the weight of history, knowing that empires may crumble and dynasties fall, but the search for the best watermelon margarita must go on.

Politics & Media

Search Committee

Best: After leading a well-publicized and extensive search to find a running mate for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney found—himself.

Worst: Three black DISD trustees insisted on hiring a black superintendent candidate. After they were voted down, they discovered he belongs to a political party established by George Wallace.

Secret Ballot

Best: When asked which presidential candidate they’d rather date, 69 percent of women on match.com voted for George W. Bush.

Worst: After W. announced that Dick Cheney was his running mate, reporters learned that Cheney hadn’t bothered to vote in 14 out of the past 16 elections.

Photo Opportunity

Best: John Wiley Price produced a calendar with 12 narcissistic photos of himself in poses from half-nude to lying on a bear rug.

Worst: A campaign flyer for Rep. Martin Frost used a photo of two children (“the future is in their hands”) found in frames sold in Wal-Mart stores.

Cameo Appearance

Best: After communications mogul Scott Ginsburg said “I do,” to his bride Heather Wellman, Mayor “preacher pro-tem” Ron Kirk asked, “Is that your final answer?”

Worst: Singer LeAnn Rimes showed up as a bizarre, incoherent character in the movie Coyote Ugly.

Job Interview

Best: During a tryout as co-host on Live With Regis, hick radio personality Kellie Rasberry asked Regis if she got a clothing allowance.

Worst: Auditor Robert Melton was fired after a reporter contacted him at his new job in Florida, where he had started working six weeks earlier without bothering to tell the city of Dallas.

Fits to a T

Best: Director Robert Altman described Dallas as “a very weird place…known for two things: the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the John F. Kennedy assassination. There’s nothing else in Dallas other than shopping—and women in silly hats.” Hats?

Worst: Actress Kate Hudson, who played a lesbian character in Dr. T and the Women, called the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders “homophobic” when the group refused to let her wear the official cheerleading uniform.

On and Off Air Time

Best: After four months off the air due to severe panic attacks, talk host Kevin McCarthy returned to KLIF-AM 570.

Worst: After 31 record-setting years on the air for KVIL-FM 103.7, deejay legend Ron Chapman moved to KLUV-FM 98.7.

Political Gaffe

Best: During a heated exchange about a new ethics code, City Councilman Don Hill leapt to his feet and screamed, “We’re not all crooks!”

Worst: Laura Miller, who relentlessly badgered the city council about the need for an ethics code, was the only member who failed to submit her financial disclosure statement on time.

Food & Drinks

Frozen Fru Fru Libation

Best: Ciudad chef Jo Ann Bondy can do more than cook—she’s also a wiz at the bar. Her special watermelon margarita is made with Patron tequila mixed with a watermelon liqueur. It’ll set you up and knock you back.

Worst:  Cuba Libre’s Cuban sandwich may be the best, but its signature cuba libre cocktail is a wimpy frozen blend of rum, Coke, and lime. Why would anyone prissify Papa Hemingway’s drink into a knockoff Slurpee?

North Dallas Nightlife

Best: The Londoner continues to offer North Dallas barflys the best atmosphere, even in its bigger digs.

Worst: City Streets is supposed to be four clubs in one, each with an individual theme, catering to several types of club-goers. But there’s one common ingredient in both the décor and the clientele—cheese.

Late-night Fix

Best: The French Corner on Lowest Greenville serves nutty, sweet Crepes Normandes—baked apples, almonds, and caramel sauce—until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Worst: Avoid the below-average burgers and the gummy Cajun gumbo at the Wild Turkey on Walnut Hill. Believe us when we tell you a hangover is preferable.

Restaurant Remake

Best: New owner of Lola, Van Roberts, maintains the British restraint and charm of Barclays, Lola’s predecessor. And, to back it up, the food is good, not glitzy.

Worst: Changing Bizu to Mangia e Bevi was smart, but the decorating redo sure isn’t. The ’70s-style Gulden’s Spicy Mustard-colored paint and tired Nouveau posters are a sort of redo redux.

Cool Bird

Best: Pyramid Grill may have adopted a less formal tone, but thankfully, the mid-course sorbets are still served in illuminated swan ice sculptures.

Worst: We’re not sure how they managed, but even though it was floating in a hot Romano sauce, our serving of pheasant at Mel’s on Main was cold as ice. Fresh from the walk-in freezer, perhaps?

Fort Worth Showdown

Best: Chef Tim Love, the new kid in Cowtown, opened with both burners blazing, and now Lonesome Dove is the connoisseur’s home on the range.

Worst: Reata survived two typically Texas disasters: a major tornado and a greedy landlord. But when chef Grady Spears rode off into the sunset, the restaurant reached the end of its trail.

A La Francaise

Best: From the first bite of the salade de Mais—colorful chunks of corn, ham, apples, Swiss cheese, tomato, and red cabbage bound with a homemade mayonnaise—to the tender taste of the last grilled lamb chop gently rolled in herbes de Provence, L’Ancestral accomplishes easily what every new restaurant in town this year seems to have been aiming for: a simple, lovely French dinner.

Worst: On a recent visit,  our meal at Clair de Lune began with a surly waiter and was capped off by a duck à l’ orange that was crisp on the outside and completely frozen on the inside. When we complained, the surly waiter handed us a steak knife. Mon dieu!

Campy Moniker

Best: Bubbacito’s Taco Rama in Allen. How fun does that sound? And the food is good, quick, and cheap.

Worst: Horny Toad’s Cantina. The name was as unappetizing as the food—which is why this Mesquite Tex-Mex joint is history.

Place to Look Down on People

Best: From the patio at Il Sole, you can overlook the taut and trendy crisscrossing Travis Street below.

Worst: The Milk Bar is too cool, too hip—and too much. Beware.

Service Under Pressure

Best: We were seated at Liberty the same time as a busload of 80. What could have been a dining nightmare was a dream—everyone was served promptly, politely, and professionally.

Worst: The belly dancers at Marrakesh are going to have to do more than roll pennies up their stomach to get us back. Dallas’ only Moroccan restaurant has turned itself into a third-rate, third-world experience.

Bang for the Buck

Best: Andrea’s isn’t easy to find, but this East Dallas hole in the wall  on Gaston, in a nondescript strip mall, is a favorite among foodies and bargain hunters alike.

Worst: The waiters at Blue Goose tout the portion sizes, but the massive serving of salmon—enough for four meals—would be obnoxious even if it were edible.

Goods & Services

Going Postal

Best: Pak Mail in South Arlington claims they’ll “ship anything anywhere.” True to their word, they recently shipped a 7-foot tall Jar Jar Binks to Yakima, Wash.

Worst: The Downtown Post Office closed for renovations  until 2002. To serve disappointed downtown patrons, the Postal Service opened a temporary office—two miles away.

Dry Cleaners

Best: Jay and Marzella Fox bought Turner’s Dry Cleaners near SMU in 1969. Jay has carried dry cleaning to, and chatted with, three generations of Dallas society.

Worst: Seven area Comet Cleaners franchises need to clean up their reputations. The Better Business Bureau reports they have not responded to complaints of unsatisfactory service.

Disappearing Act

Best: O’Brien Rottman Talent Agency vacated its premises and skipped town after D Magazine exposed its highly advertised model search as a “glam scam” in our March issue.

Worst: Joan & David, the wonderful high-end shoe retailer, closed its stores at the Galleria and NorthPark.

Delivery Service

Best: Mark McDevitt pulled his Lexus into Park Place Lexus of Plano and asked if they could deliver. His wife was having a baby now. The workers at Park Place brought into the world the aptly named Isabella Alexus.

Worst: Of all the takeout services we tested, Ez2get.com makes its takeout hardest to get. On one occasion we waited one hour before calling to find out where the food was, only to be told the restaurant we had ordered from was closed.

At the Car Wash

Best: The Car Spa offers everything to keep your car happy—a car wash, oil changing services, and gas. There’s also a convenience store, a waiting room with several TVs tuned to CNN, and a play area for the kids. And the new car scent lasts for weeks.

Worst:  After four test trips to Aladdin Car Wash, the rearview mirror still hadn’t been wiped clean, and the new car scent was gone in 30 minutes.

Dog Days

Best: Pet Butler, Dog Waste Removal Service claims to be “#1 in the #2 business.” Which means you can finally pay someone else to do the dirty work.

Worst: The Dispoz-A-Scoop encourages you do it yourself with a built-in cardboard handle and miniature plastic baggie attached. Nice gadget, but we have our own plastic baggies.

Leather and Lace

Best: Brunner Trim & Glass specializes in repairing car leather and upholstery. These folks even managed to get rid of cigarette burns in leather seats.

Worst: Dallasite Misty Holden, 25, serving 18 months for forgery, posted a picture of herself in black lace lingerie on www.meet-an-inmate.com, a web site linking imprisoned women with pen pals and potential mates. In case you’re interested, she’s a non-smoker.

Pharmacy

Best: Preston Road Pharmacy  is a standout for their polite and knowledgeable service. Plus, they deliver.

Worst: Eckerd’s pharmacy on Lovers and Greenville is always packed, the service is lousy, and they are consistently out of stock on common prescriptions. And why do all Eckerd’s stores have to be so messy?

Crime & Punishment

Savior

Best: A heavily armed fugitive—involved with his family in a standoff against law enforcement on his Henderson County farm—told the media he admired Chuck Norris. So Norris, who plays a Texas Ranger on TV, waded in to negotiate. His intervention had no discernible effect.

Worst: Chris Larson invited a single mother with four children at a Dallas homeless shelter to live with him. But when the apartment’s manager saw Larson’s face on America’s Most Wanted, it turned out he was actually Kyle Bell, 32, a prison escapee convicted of murdering a child.

City Service

Best: Seven of the 15 employees at the Flower Mound Public Works Service Center were fired for theft of city property, racial slurs, and sexual activity conducted on town time and town property.

Worst: Twenty Dallas Water Department workers were fired or put on leave for stealing water.

Reliance On Experts

Best: Dallas defense attorney Tom Mills on client Gary Karr, charged with extortion and theft in the disappearance of Madalyn Murray O’Hair: “I just visited with Gary and he tells me that the other inmates at the Travis County jail are overwhelmingly optimistic about his acquittal.” Karr was convicted.

Worst: In only 10 months, the News ran 77 headlines with the hedge phrase “experts say.” Our favorite: “Parents’ rage over school, sports matters harmful, experts say.”

Hiding In Plain Sight

Best: Stuck in a holding cell at Lew Sterrett Justice Center, Charles Steptoe persuaded Ricky Holmes, who was being held overnight on traffic tickets, to swap ID bracelets with him. When police discovered Steptoe had used Holmes’ ID to get out of jail, he was quickly recaptured. Holmes now faces two to 10 years.

Worst: Dallas police finally apprehended a suspect wanted in five vicious assaults on women—at police headquarters. The suspect had been cleaning police offices for 14 months.

Attorneys in Action

Best: Judge Janice Warder, prosecutor Howard Blackmon, and court reporter Mary Belton leapt in a car and gave chase when they spotted a suspect fleeing a police officer. They got their man.

Worst: Walter John Kowalski, 44, known as Dallas’ highest-volume divorce attorney, was revealed as Dallas’ highest-volume cat burglar when police nabbed him with the goods.

Mastery of Technology

Best: A 15-year-old Plano high school student was charged with forgery after trying to buy his cafeteria lunch with a computer-created counterfeit $20 bill.

Worst: After his neighbor’s alarm clock went off at 5:30 a.m. and blared for 45 minutes, a 53-year-old Bedford man tore off her window screen and reached in to shut it off—just as the woman awoke. He faces criminal charges.

Loser With Luck

Best: After serving time in prison for his role in the Sharpstown stock and loan scandal, John Osorio of Richardson won a $60 million Lotto jackpot.

Worst: Rockwall County Sheriff Jacques Kiere lost his re-election bid after his office came under investigation. To relieve the post-election blues, he went to a Bossier City casino, put three $1 coins into a slot machine, and won $1,884,675.14.

Follow Through

Best: After a daylong argument with her 68-year-old husband, Charles, who used a walker to get around, heart patient Eddie Mae Dudley, 71, pulled out a gun. “He told me, ‘Go ahead, shoot me, shoot me,’” Mrs. Dudley told a reporter. So she did.

Worst: Sammie Luckus Cook, 30, was arrested and charged with rape after he fell asleep—while holding a knife—in a victim’s bed.

Biting the Hand that Feeds

Best: Cookie Rodriguez, called the “Mother Teresa of Dallas” for her work with troubled gang members, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for fraudulently collecting almost $2 million in Medicaid payments.

Worst: Arrested in an alley at 2 a.m. carrying a microwave oven, Leldon Douglas, 35, was linked to burglaries of more than a dozen Oak Cliff churches that had given him refuge or meals.

Father Knows Best

Best: No. 2 on the state’s list of “Most Wanted Child Support Evaders,” Harvey Joe Herndon, 62, was arrested for failing to make $172,602 in payments for his disabled son.

Worst: Robert S. Pestinger, 56, who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 190 pounds, was charged with a felony injury to a child after using a football block on a 10-year-old boy who had tackled his son in football practice.

Fun & Games

Sign that Mark Cuban is Crazy

Best: The Mavs’ radical owner signed off-the-wall forward Dennis Rodman, drawing fans to Reunion and media attention to his young team.

Worst: Cuban decided to be Dennis Rodman, throwing fits at the referees and racking up major league fines. Next we’ll expect to see him tattooed from head to toe.

Place for a Shot

Best: The Gold Club at The Ballpark provides an air-conditioned haven and a great view.

Worst: Cowboy tight end Dave LaFleur’s pubis, where cortisone shots injected through 7-inch needles were required to alleviate the pain from bone spurs on his pelvic bone.

Former Cowboy Rehabilitation

Best: Thomas Henderson won a Texas Lotto Jackpot worth $36 million. Hooray for Hollywood.

Worst: Michael Irvin was arrested for marijuana possession, his second drug arrest in five years. While authorities later dropped the charges, the incident cost Irvin his Fox broadcast job.

U.S. Olympic Contribution

Best: Clad in shoes gilded with real gold, Skyline HS grad Michael Johnson notched his fourth and fifth career gold medals.

Worst: Mavs assistant coach Donnie Nelson led the Lithuanian squad to a near upset of the U.S. Dream Team. Where is he when we need him?

Stars’ Courting Behavior

Best: Rookie left wing Brenden Morrow exercised good judgment in dating the lovely Ann Marie Carbonneau, daughter of since-retired teammate Guy Carbonneau.

Worst: Veteran goalie Ed Belfour arrived intoxicated with a female companion at The Mansion, slammed a hotel guard against a wall and applied a headlock, letting go only after police sprayed him with pepper spray. He then vomited while struggling in the squad car.

Debut

Best: Ranger outfielder Gabe Kapler, a renowned fitness buff, belted two home runs in his first game as a Ranger, prompting the nickname “Gabe the Babe.”

Worst: $42 million dollar free-agent receiver Joey Galloway blew out his knee in the final minutes of a Cowboys 41-14 loss. That he was on the field at all makes Coach Dave Campo runner-up.

Fake Fight

Best: At the WWF’s “Fully Loaded” pay-per-view event at Reunion, wrestling superstar The Rock defeated Chris Benoit by flinging a beer into his face and clobbering him with a sledgehammer.

Worst: After his first inside fastball in Arlington as a Detroit Tiger, Juan Gonzalez waited for several players to grab him before pretending to charge the pitcher’s mound.

Team Spirit

Best: Winston School footballers responded to an 0-9 season (including 80-0, 60-0, and 40-0 losses) with nary a discouraging word. Says Eagles senior Jason Berliner, “You can’t quit; you need to stay together during tough times.”

Worst: Ranger outfielder Chad Curtis and shortstop Royce Clayton squabbled loudly and publicly over rap music in the clubhouse. And this was during the first week of the season.

Finish by a Bad Team

Best: The Mavs raised hopes for this year by winning nine of their final 10 games last season.

Worst: The Rangers ended their season with an Oakland sweep that included a 23-2 thrashing—the worst loss in 29 years of Rangers baseball, a truly historic achievement.

Life & Leisure

Happy Trails

Best: Jim Lowe, the warm, welcoming voice of Big Tex at the State Fair for nearly 40 years, rode off into the sunset.

Worst: “I hate Texas,” commented Victor Hugo Soldano, an Argentine laborer, after he was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of Paul Ray King of Plano.


At Risk of Sudden Wilting

Best: To fill one customer’s order, McShan Florist delivered 100 long-stemmed roses to 100 different locations—in three hours—with no mistakes.

Worst: On Sept. 5, 2000, the temperature hit 111 at Love Field—marking the third hottest day ever recorded in Dallas.

We’ve Got the Whole World…

Best: Flower Mound has joined Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Arlington, and Mesquite in hiring an urban forester.

Worst: Animal rights activists threatened to spill tranquilizer into Lake Palestine to thwart a fishing tournament. Their theory: Sleeping fish can’t get caught.
 

Magnet

Best: Artist Justine Wollaston inadvertently created a tourist attraction when she painted spectacular Texas and American flags on her Aubrey horse barn.

Worst: The Scientologists refurbished the Grandwick Mansion on Buckner Boulevard to operate as a “Celebrity Centre.”

Asian on the Run

Best: The teriyaki bowls at Rice Boxx are a great solution next time you need to take your wok and roll.

Worst:  Poor grades from the Health Department make the sushi-to-go at Kazy’s Gourmet a risky solution next time you want to catch a quick nibble.

Sign of
Intelligent Life

Best: Four-year-old Priya Purewal of Valley Ranch became one of Mensa’s youngest geniuses with an IQ measured between 148 and 170.

Worst: An occupant placed a lighted candle in an apartment closet to mask cat-litter odor. The resulting fire caused $250,000 in damages.

How Do I Return It?

Best: The Dallas Public Library commissioned a 36-foot Library on Wheels to foster reading in low-income neighborhoods.

Worst: Free puppies were handed out at a softball tournament in Denton. After biting its new owner, one mutt tested positive for rabies.

Bodily Fluid

Best: J.W. Wood has donated blood 417 times since 1977, for a total of 50 gallons. Carter BloodCare gave Wood its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Worst: Contractors punctured a pressurized sewer pipe spilling 4.3 million gallons of wastewater into a creek near Renner Road, wiping out fish for half a mile.

“I’ve Been Working
Out On The Railroad…”

Best: The Katy Trail, a four-mile ribbon of concrete for joggers, replaced the abandoned MKT rail line.

Worst: In March, the Tarantula Train jogged into a railroad tank car filled with fat near the Stockyards. Officials say the fat vat was coasting at 7 miles per hour at the time of the collision.

Moving Words

Best: Sponsered by Richland College, DART placed poetry posters on buses and trains featuring the works of Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and local poet Frederick Turner.

Worst: At a rally following Al Lipscomb’s sentencing on bribery charges, Rev. Zan Holmes cried, “Al is us.  Let’s go out and do what Al would do for Al.”
 

Romantic Ending

Best: Little Jennivine, the charming

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