People & Places

  • Best Hero

    Vince Young

    There was a certain inevitability to it. All observers, whether they wore burnt orange or crimson, knew that once the Texas defense stuffed LenDale White on fourth and two at the Texas 45-yard line with two minutes left on the clock, the ball game was over and the Longhorns would seize their first national championship in 35 years. Vince Young,… More >>
  • Best MySpace Page

    Dyk-A-Tron

    "Wrestling in the present to fight for the future!" is the slogan greeting visitors to Dyk-A-Tron's page. The so-called cybernetic lesbian from the future -- shown in full costume and holding her title belt/trophy -- is known around Houston for her Doomsday parody wrestling matches, and the page is a tribute to the doppelganger. Dyk-A-Tron's "friends" list consists of her… More >>
  • Best Place for a Kid's Birthday Party

    Incredible Pizza

    Other places have the same ingredients: buffet, birthday cake and Skee-Ball. But at this '50s-themed place, birthday kids are made to feel truly special. A hostess keeps the pace of food, games and celebration going strong, often in a private room. Party packages and add-ons such as cakes, goodie bags and well-filled piñatas are surprisingly affordable. The buffet rivals any… More >>
  • Best Religious Leader

    Joel Osteen

    One part egomaniac, one part friendly next-door neighbor, Joel Osteen preaches a positive-vibes-only brand of nondenominational Christianity that's helped his membership grow exponentially in the past few years. Although we don't appreciate the unholy amount of traffic Lakewood's services bring to Highway 59 every weekend, we do appreciate the lack of fire, brimstone and sexual scandal that tends to accompany… More >>
  • Best Landmark

    Williams Tower

    Co-designed by architectural legend Philip Johnson, the 901-foot-tall Williams Tower has the kind of power and grace that impresses people who aren't normally impressed by buildings. Completed in 1983 and originally known as the Transco Tower, the edifice was built as two separate structures, one atop the other. The building has separate elevator banks and lobbies for the two parts,… More >>
  • Best Local TV Personality

    Dominique Sachse

    Dominique's got personality to spare. Whether she's sharing the joys of her pregnancy with viewers or talking about her bulldog, Butkus, she's hypnotizing. Mostly, it's the lips; just look at those things. When she first announced she had a "secret," we feared the worst. Was she leaving us? Was she really a man? So when she revealed that she was… More >>
  • Best Local R-Rated Blog

    Over-Educated Nympho and Single By Choice, Damnit

    For more than a year now, a self-described nympho identifying herself only as "Vix" has been telling us about her need for constant sex. Up until a few months ago, that need was met by her boyfriend, although not as often as she wanted. They split, so she started a new blog to chart her activity as a single nympho… More >>
  • Best Local City Life Blog

    Slampo's Place

    Though this mysterious fellow's real name is a secret, regular readers of his blog know that Slampo is an ex-employee of the defunct Houston Post, a native of southwest Louisiana now living in the Westbury area, a fan of both baseball Hall of Famer Enos "Country" Slaughter and primordial swamp-bluesman Slim Harpo, and a guy who can, on occasion, be… More >>
  • Best Public Information Officer

    Beth Rickert

    Earlier this year, we submitted public information requests to 63 Houston-area school districts, just to see how they'd respond (see "Needling the Haystack," by Keith Plocek, May 18). We wanted to measure how each district would treat a taxpayer who'd walked in the door and demanded to know what was what, so we didn't out ourselves as reporters. What we… More >>
  • Best Cheap Thrill

    Fiesta shopping cart racing

    When we were kids, we loved to ride in or underneath the shopping cart while Mom propelled it along. Now that we're older, we shop at Fiesta -- not just for the value, but because their carts can easily be wheeled off the premises and used for a little extracurricular activity. Here's what you do: Gather three friends, retrieve two… More >>
  • Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill

    The Penthouse Club

    Of all the places one could wish to spend one's FEMA relief money, The Penthouse Club is the place where one can drop some serious cash in a seriously quick amount of time for a seriously not-so-cheap thrill. Whether you're scoring some champagne for your party, getting some VIP treatment from an exotic dancer or doing both at the same… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    Byzantio Cafe & Bar

    For those initial getting-to-know-you interludes, you want a place like Byzantio, where there are plenty of cozy nooks and hideaways with plush sofas under dim lighting. Start off the date with a coffee to maintain awareness during the "So, do you have any brothers or sisters?" phase. Move on to some wine or a tawny port to show off your… More >>
  • Best Place for a Last Date

    Taft Street Coffee House

    This cozy spread is way too quiet and intimate to accommodate anyone making a scene. If someone were to try, they'd likely get shushed -- or ministered to. (More on that later.) The vast offering of free-trade coffees proffers an air of rightness and justice, setting the tableau for your breakup as being "the right thing to do." The lack… More >>
  • Best Nonprofit

    Grassroots: Art in Action

    The do-gooders at Grassroots: Art in Action, which only recently received 501(c)3 status, are determined to improve the state of art education in our public school system. Promoting creativity and critical thinking in the classroom and the community, the group develops innovative and collaborative teaching and learning experiences by focusing directly on the isolation and marginalization of artists and art… More >>
  • Best Activist

    Juan Alvarez

    You wouldn't expect a group of drywallers and bricklayers to be vulnerable dudes, but when the Minutemen and other anti-illegal-immigration advocates started shouting that the city was "coddling" day laborers, these workers were left standing alone on the corner. But Juan Alvarez, founder of the Latin American Organization for Immigrant Rights, jumped aboard their cause and drove all over town… More >>
  • Best Protest

    April 10 Immigration Rally

    For once, this city saw a protest in which most of the marchers were directly influenced by the issue. Sure, there were some anarchists and LaRouche drones sprinkled throughout the crowd, preaching solidarity and handing out pamphlets, but most of the estimated 30,000 folks who marched from the Second Ward to Allen's Landing on a bright Monday were just regular,… More >>
  • Best Local Blog

    HoustonSoReal

    Matt Sonzala's blog is all about Third Coast hip-hop, which is fitting, considering how integral the man is to the scene. HoustonSoReal always seems to have the word on H-town haps, whether it's flicks from a video shoot in the Fifth Ward, a write-up of local rappers doing their thang in Europe or a link to a download of Sonzala's… More >>
  • Best Rail Station

    TMC Transit Center

    No, there's not much to do at this particular stop on the light-rail line. Unlike Ensemble or Preston, this is not an entertainment hub, nor is it a sports stop like Reliant; it's mainly a place for people to transfer from the bus to the train or vice versa. But we're not rating the stop based on what's around it… More >>
  • Best Court Ruling

    The Enron convictions

    It wasn't so much a court ruling as it was a jury verdict, but Houstonians everywhere let out either a sigh of relief or a gleeful shout of schadenfreude when a jury of their peers came down hard on Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. The city had lived through five years of the post-collapse soap opera, enduring all of it… More >>
  • Best Parade

    Martin Luther King Day Parade

    Far too many parades are bogged down by rinky-dink floats, processions of skinny high school kids in silver helmets and quasi-military uniforms, and convertibles full of D-list local dignitaries. Screw that. Parades should be about bands -- bands that bring the big beat. And no parade in H-town booms like MLK Day. For the first time in years, 2005's MLK… More >>
  • Best Local Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Blog

    Keeping an Eye Out

    Local musician and occasional Houston Press contributor Greg Wood sets up one of his blog entries thusly: "So there I am, pouring teaglasses full of Wild Turkey, inhaling fat lines, when I had a GREAT idea. Why be alone? Female company was but a phone call away, this being the great country it is. Let's see...where's the phonebook? Hmm, here… More >>
  • Best 15 Minutes of Fame

    Will Makar, American Idol Also-Ran

    Wholesome Will Makar of The Woodlands was cut from utterly different cloth than Katy’s Kimberly Caldwell, the only other local Idol contestant to make it to the late-stage TV rounds of the show. Where Caldwell was the type of bad girl you’d bribe your son to dump, Makar was the type of guy you pray your daughter brings home from… More >>
  • Best Public Restroom

    Nordstrom, third floor

    The kind folks at Nordstrom have made service their No. 1 priority, and this extends to the deluxe restrooms on every floor of the upscale department store. The third-floor facilities are the apex, however, featuring a generous family restroom that flustered moms and dads of small children can especially appreciate. The women's restroom houses a lounge area for those who… More >>
  • Best Hidden Neighborhood

    Old Sixth Ward

    Going to traffic court can be just a little more bearable if you take a slight detour off the beaten path: Venture into the Old Sixth Ward, which is tucked behind a mishmash of busy thoroughfares on the western edge of downtown. There you'll discover 1,000 acres of Greek Revival, late Victorian and Craftsman bungalow homes. The Sixth Ward, the… More >>
  • Best Renovation

    Elder Street Artist Lofts

    Just two short years ago, those who happened upon the Jefferson Davis Hospital on the periphery of Old Sixth Ward didn't hold out much hope for the long-abandoned building. With a barbed wire fence protecting its graffiti-riddled exterior and glass shards hanging tenaciously in every window, the red brick Classical Revival-style structure, completed in 1924, was more an eyesore than… More >>
  • Best Demolition

    AstroWorld

    No one wanted to see AstroWorld go after 40 years, but you have to admit that once the decision was made, it was fun watching it get torn down. First went modern, sleek rides such as the Viper and Serial Thriller, and then some of the buildings and the waterpark. Looming above it all was the Texas Cyclone, the huge… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Frank Billingsley

    Until something bigger and badder comes along, Houston weathercasters will be measured by how they did during Hurricane Rita. Rita was tailor-made to induce widespread panic (and, of course, sky-high ratings) -- as it followed in the wake of Katrina. And for the longest time, it looked like it was headed straight for Galveston and Houston. Such an opportunity makes… More >>
  • Best Local TV News

    KHOU/Channel 11

    KHOU is like the New York Yankees of old: sleek, classy and unbeatable. When other stations in town grabbed ratings with crime-heavy shtick and eye-scalding graphics, the team at Channel 11 just kept on putting out solid, information-filled newscasts that didn't ignore City Hall for the sake of a fire in an abandoned warehouse. Viewers soon flocked their way. The… More >>
  • Best Local TV News Anchor

    Gina Gaston

    For many, many, many years, the anchor desk at KTRK/Channel 13 was a Mount Rushmore of never-changing faces. And we're not referring to the Botox-caused immobility of the stars' faces. Gina Gaston finally broke into the Ancient Anchors Club five years ago, and she's since grown into a steady and commanding presence on the desk. The California native initially came… More >>
  • Best Local TV News Reporter

    Cynthia Cisneros

    In a city where much of the TV news talent tends to cycle through quickly, it's a relief to have someone who can tell Bellaire from Baytown. Channel 13's Cynthia Cisneros has the city in her bones -- she grew up in South Houston, worked summers at AstroWorld and graduated from the University of Houston. She's been at KTRK for… More >>
  • Best Local TV Commercial

    Hilton Furniture

    With the advent of TiVo and various other DVRs that give us the ability to fast-forward through the most annoying aspect of TV -- commercials -- there's still one ad we actually take the time to view. Hilton Furniture's commercials are so insanely funny, bizarre and somehow endearing that you can't help but watch. You find yourself saying, "Ooh! I… More >>
  • Best Local Magazine

    OutSmart

    For a dozen years now, Houston readers -- gay and straight -- have been entertained and informed by the glossy monthly magazine OutSmart. Beyond the great Q&As with celebrities who are coming to town and meaty listings for folks unfamiliar with Montrose (or those who still think the city's gay world begins and ends in Montrose), there's plenty of other… More >>
  • Best School

    T.H. Rogers

    It's not often you go to a middle-school graduation and see a student who's finally moving on after 18 years and see that student get applauded as if it were a real accomplishment. But that's the beauty of HISD's T.H. Rogers school. Former district superintendent Billy Reagan, an Asia buff, says he experienced "satori" -- what he calls a type… More >>
  • Best Criminal Court Judge

    U.S. District Judge Sim Lake

    Technically speaking, Sim Lake isn't a criminal court judge, since he sits on the federal bench and hears both criminal and civil cases. But this year he heard the biggest white-collar-crime case to hit Houston since the Allen brothers started the ball rolling with real estate fraud. We mean, of course, the trials of Enron co-defendants Ken Lay and Jeff… More >>
  • Best Civil Lawyer

    Mark Lanier

    Mark Lanier is an ordained minister in the Church of Christ, but he's also a God-given pain in the ass to pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Lanier is a leading lawyer among the legions who are suing Merck over the arthritis drug Vioxx, and he was the first one out of the gate with a big, big victory: a $253… More >>
  • Best Criminal Defense Lawyer

    Dick DeGuerin

    What can you say about a lawyer who's a Kinky Friedman supporter but whose most prominent client is Tom DeLay? How about: Tom DeLay sure knows who to hire when he gets indicted. Attorney Dick DeGuerin has amassed a truly eclectic clientele, including David Koresh, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Robert Durst. DeGuerin not only won an acquittal for Durst --… More >>
  • Best Civil Court Judge

    Tracy Christopher

    Good civil judges tend to stay under the radar until they get a headline-making case. During that low-profile time, however, they can make life awful for an awful lot of people. Sometimes they do it through rulings that are either baffling or tend to favor one side (usually, since this is Houston, big bidness) over the other. More often, they… More >>
  • Best Bureaucrat

    Harris County District Clerk Charles Bacarisse

    If the word "bureaucrat" refers to paper-pushers, then Charles Bacarisse -- who deals with all the paper generated by judges and lawyers working in 74 courts -- is a bureaucrat of the first rank. But he's trying hard to change that. Bacarisse is leading the effort to make the district court system as paperless as possible, gently nudging the sometimes… More >>
  • Best Republican

    Harris County Judge
    Robert Eckels

    For someone who has 3.6 million constituents, County Judge Robert Eckels has kept somewhat of a low profile -- which, considering the colorful, if not entirely legal, activities of some county court predecessors (like, ummm, his father), is a good thing. All that changed in 2005, when Eckels teamed with Mayor Bill White to handle the wave of evacuees from… More >>
  • Best Democrat

    Mayor Bill White

    Bill White had some flubs in his first two and a half years as Houston's mayor: the fight against capping the city's ability to generate tax revenue, the enthusiastic push for a light rail referendum that's grown only more controversial since its passage, and the growing crime rate. But he is also remembered -- and will be for a long,… More >>
  • Best Cemetery

    Glenwood Cemetery

    Glenwood Cemetery is a treat for amateur genealogists who go to trace their family's history back to the Civil War. Headstones dating to the 19th century are scattered throughout Glenwood's woodsy 84 acres, which house the remains of three Texas governors, more than 20 Houston mayors and a bevy of lesser-known architects, clergy, educators, lawmakers, judges and philanthropists. The 130-year-old… More >>
  • Best Church

    St. Vincent de Paul

    Veterans know that if they're going to the 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. mass on Sundays at St. Vincent de Paul, they'd better get there early: Good seats go fast. Why? A welcoming, friendly atmosphere, engaging sermons and a dedication to helping the greater community. Parishioners were at the forefront of offering shelter, food and clothing to Katrina evacuees, an… More >>
  • Best Tourist Attraction

    Bolivar Ferry

    The Bolivar Ferry has been entertaining kids for more than 70 years. Shuttling back and forth between Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula, the boats often attract frolicking dolphins as escorts. You can head to the back with some bread or chips and feed the seagulls by hand as they politely hover near you. You'll pass the sunken remains of an… More >>
  • Best Secret

    The button behind the Wortham Center

    No night in the Theater District is complete without a stroll over to the Magic Button, a big red disc hidden in a tower on the Preston Street bridge. Push it, and you'll hear the sound of water being released into Buffalo Bayou. Now, we could make some phone calls and ask what the deal is, and then somebody or… More >>
  • Best Window Display

    Pig Stand No. 7

    At Pig Stand No. 7, the popular greasy spoon on Washington, the window display cases are filled with ceramics, dolls and figurines of all things pig. There's a pig nativity scene and a pig beach scene. Pigs kissing and pigs eloping. Pigs pumping iron and pigs pumping gas. Pigs chomping cigars and pigs slinging hash. Pigs firing guns and pigs… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Single Women

    Bond Lounge

    Meeting chicks, especially hot single chicks, is a challenge for guys in this town. SM ISO HSF (single men in search of hot single females), we suggest you pay a visit to Midtown's Bond Lounge, a one-stop shop for fit, busty blonds and brunettes. Of course, the easiest way to lure the hotties is by reserving a table for bottle… More >>
  • Best Sanctuary from the
    Fast Track

    Sam Houston Park

    Every kid has a special place where secrets are whispered and whisked away by the wind. It might be in a forest, a cemetery or along a river's edge. Adults, too, need a sanctuary from the fast track, and there is none better than Sam Houston Park. Set directly behind City Hall, the park opens onto expansive, neatly manicured lawns.… More >>
  • Best Benefit to Living Downtown

    Light rail

    Slowly but surely, downtown Houston is coming back. Its revitalization lags behind that of other major cities, which long ago converted their warehouses from ugly eyesores into coveted loft spaces. Houston presses forward with the opening of many new restaurants, clubs and plans for a huge urban park. But surely the best benefit to living downtown is the light rail.… More >>
  • Best Community Newspaper

    Fort Bend/Southwest Sun

    Scrappy and hard-hitting with a generous dollop of sugarcoated sentimentality: These are the ingredients for a great community newspaper. The front page will devote as much space to chili cookoffs and church socials as burglary trends and city hall scandals. After all, the paper exists not to bash the community but to celebrate it. The Fort Bend/Southwest Sun provides this… More >>
  • Best Show of Houston Pride

    Paul Wall's "They Don't Know" www.djpaulwall.com

    Annual games of chicken with hurricanes, questionable politicians, Enron and suffocating humidity aren't selling anyone on Houston. So scrap the "Houston. It's Worth It" campaign and hire on Paul Wall, who's made sure the world is familiar not only with Houston but with Houston landmarks such as Timmy Chan's Chicken and what screwed-and-chopped music sounds like. His song "They Don't… More >>
  • Best Place to People-Watch

    Cecil's Tavern

    Really cheap drinks draw the Montrose bohemian set like free samiches draw the homeless. Rockabillies, punks, indie nerds, artists, bookish introverts, extroverted exhibitionists and the occasional clump of local comedians filtering out from open-mike Mondays at the nearby Laff Stop flock to the capacious patio of this watering hole to socialize and get fucked up on a shoestring budget. Too… More >>
  • Best Reason to Stay in Houston During the Summer

    Alley Theatre's Summer Chills series

    While most of Houston's arts groups take a breather in the humidity of summer, the Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre turns up the heat. The Alley's ExxonMobil Summer Chills series always brings edge-of-your-seat thrillers to life. What better way to spend a hot summer evening than in the air-conditioned theater watching a mystery unfold? Artistic director Gregory Boyd has a deft… More >>
  • Best Drag Queen

    Miss Kofi

    No one has yet to remove the fabulous tiara from Miss Kofi's head. That's because when she takes the stage, any trace of self-described country boy Terry Nabors immediately disappears, leaving in his place this BBD (big beautiful diva). For a while now, Kofi has entertained discriminating drag-queen audiences with her dazzling karaoke show. Her fab couture and interesting (if… More >>
  • Best Use of Taxpayer Dollars

    The SAFEClear program

    After all the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth that accompanied the introduction of Mayor Bill White's SAFEclear program, and a few tweaks after it was started, it appears that he was right and those of us who opposed it were wrong. Who knew it was such a good idea to get wrecked, stalled and otherwise immobilized cars and their… More >>
  • Best Courtyard

    Market Square Bar & Grill

    This consistently unassailable downtown watering hole-cum-burger joint has a secret weapon, ambience-wise: If it's getting too crowded inside, a quick hustle through the unassuming back door lands you in the equivalent of a medieval fairyland. Surrounded by mesmerizingly high walls covered with creeping vines and intricate molding, entering this courtyard is like stepping into a three-dimensional coffee-table book, where conversation… More >>
  • Best Thoroughfare

    Westheimer

    If you can't find what you're looking for on Westheimer, it probably doesn't exist. This central artery is home to world-class restaurants and cozy lunch spots, shopping that'll suit any budget (the Galleria, antique malls, curio shops, international bazaars), a major university, street festivals, public parks and parades. The thoroughfare ambles across some of the richest and poorest neighborhoods and… More >>
  • Best Hole

    James Turrell Skyspace

    We were going to give this award to your mom, but then we remembered the James Turrell Skyspace at the Quaker meeting house in the Heights. Every Friday night, the Friends open the Skyspace, a square hole in a concave ceiling, and welcome visitors to sit back and watch day turn to night. You can't actually see the sun setting,… More >>
  • Best Nihilist Web Site

    Anus.com

    Many people who click on Anus.com aren't looking for philosophical treatises, but porn seekers just might end up finding enlightenment. A.N.U.S., an acronym for American Nihilist Underground Society, was started back in the '80s by privileged, countercultural hacker-slackers and pranksters from River Oaks, whose taste for highbrow philosophy and lowbrow metal music is featured on the text-heavy site. The writing… More >>
  • Best View

    From the inside of the Dubuffet sculpture

    Looking down on Houston from the fancy restaurant high atop the Hilton Hotel downtown can lead you to ooh and aah. But looking up at the city from street level is even better, especially when viewed through French artist Jean Dubuffet's zany, cartoonish sculpture at the corner of Louisiana and Lamar in the skyline district. Dubuffet's work, a seven-piece sculpture… More >>
  • Best Local Radio Show Introduction

    Mister Misty, KCOH-AM/1430

    It's midnight on Saturday, going into Sunday. It's high time to wind the party down and steer your mind over to matters relaxing and/or spiritual. And there's no better way to do that than to spin your radio dial over to KCOH, where Mister Misty ushers you from party-time to prayer-time with marvelous aplomb. Speaking over a sanctified organ that… More >>
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