La Vida

  • Best Hidden Neighborhood

    Sharpstown

    While everybody else is jumping on the Westbury bandwagon, you'd be wise to check out Sharpstown, which is less a "hidden" neighborhood than it is one that's undervalued and underrated. Like Westbury, Sharpstown offers spacious, mid-century mod houses on generous lots and is pretty convenient to everything worth going to — in fact, perhaps even more convenient, as Westbury's freeway… More >>
  • Best Community Newspaper

    Examiner Newspaper Group, Houston Community Newspapers

    These community newspapers in West University, River Oaks, Memorial and Bellaire are as thoughtful and researched as they are feisty. Bellaire Examiner Editor Charlotte Aguilar keeps things going at a steady pace, making sure these papers provoke discussion as much as they celebrate neighborhood achievements. Reporter Steve Mark stays on top of Houston Independent School District business, and not always… More >>
  • Best Radio Talk Show

    Partisan Gridlock, KPFT

    As everyone knows — because we've been told so over and over — talk radio from the left side of the political spectrum is boring, earnest and dull. Unless you listen to Partisan Gridlock on KPFT-FM Friday afternoons from 3-4. Host Geoffrey Berg, an attorney, is funny and sharp; he gets good guests (from the right as well as left)… More >>
  • Best Sign

    "Homescholers for Perry"

    When Texas favorites Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent showed up for a rally at the Berry Center in Cypress, the crowds followed. Wearing camouflage and hats decorated like American flags, the people listened to The Nuge shred the "Star Spangled Banner" and Palin say things like, "A lot of us in our states proudly cling to our guns… More >>
  • Best Remembrance of Houston Past

    The Big Rich by Bryan Burrough

    Vanity Fair reporter and Barbarians at the Gate author and native Texan Bryan Burrough was raised on tales of the exploits of the great oil men, and The Big Rich is likely the only book you will ever need on their successes and excesses. While Dallas-Fort Worth barons like the wise Richardsons, the crackpot Hunts and the dissolute Murchisons do… More >>
  • Best Twitterer — Arts

    @dancehunter

    A better moniker for this year's winner for Best Arts Twitterer, @dancehunter, might have been @artshunter. That's because Nancy Wozny, the force behind the constant stream of news, critiques, discussions and, from time to time, a little gossip, doesn't limit herself to just dance. Nor is the conversation aimed solely at dancers and choreographers. Civilians, as some of @dancehunter's followers… More >>
  • Best Twitterer — Politics

    @anniseparker

    Most times after politicians are voted into public office, they stop reaching out to the people altogether except for fund-raisers or photo-ops. Not so much with Mayor Annise Parker, who is actually one of the more accessible Houston leaders in recent memory. The mayor takes to her Twitter account to talk about what she's up to, not just regurgitate boring… More >>
  • Best Twitterer — Humor

    @brandius

    We didn't get to include her in our cover story on Twitter a few months back, but we still think everyone in Houston who's worth their social media real estate should be following @brandius. Brandi Aginagua weaves sweetly profane tales of daily life with each of her updates. She digs her husband, wine, lady friends and unicorns. Granted, you may… More >>
  • Best Twitterer — Food

    @Houston_Foodie

    A former food blogger for Eating...Our Words and current food blogger for 29-95.com as well as his own personal food blog, Chris Reid is also one of the best people to follow on Twitter if you're interested in food — Houston or otherwise. Reid live-Tweets adventures like barbecue crawls that take him from Acres Homes to central Texas and is… More >>
  • Best Twitterer — Sports

    @SteveintheKT

    As his name indicates, Steve Shalagan lives in Katy. He also makes regular sports-related Twitter updates that are so funny, you'd think they were written by a team of sitcom writers somewhere in Los Angeles. A random sampling of some of his finest work includes gems like: "Now that the NBA season is over, Pau Gasol can finally get back… More >>
  • Best Crime

    Michelle Gaiser: Three Strikes and You're Out of the Murder-for-Hire Game

    Jeffrey Stern and his wife Yvonne seemed to have it all: a million-dollar home in Bellaire and an Aspen getaway for the long hot summers, two adorable kids and a foothold on Houston's social scene. Unfortunately, police say, attorney Stern had another accoutrement of the high life, and this one Yvonne did not share: a mistress named Michelle Cabrera Gaiser.… More >>
  • Best Democrat

    Annise Parker

    Annise Parker has spent years being a quiet, middle-of-the-road Democrat in the putatively nonpartisan world of City Hall politics. This year, though, she became a worldwide celebrity. Why? Because she loves the ladies, of course. (One lady in particular for the past 20 years). This hasn't caused much stir in Houston in recent years, and was barely brought up in… More >>
  • Best Republican

    Thomas Ratliff, State Board of Education

    It might be a stretch to call Bill Ratliff a Houstonian, but his district includes some of our northern exurbs, and you can't argue that the dude deserves a pat on the back. He's a solid Texas Republican through and through, but he — like so many other Republicans — was utterly embarrassed by the rightwing-nut zoo that the State… More >>
  • Best Route into the City

    Highway 288 North

    If you start out onto Highway 288 from Lake Jackson, you have one of the best vantage points for watching our Houston skyline come into view. From the wide-open spaces starting around the Stephen F. Austin statue, you can watch the skyscrapers steadily become more focused as you traverse expanses of trees and pasture. In the early mornings, you end… More >>
  • Best Local iPhone App

    Houston Zoo

    Tired of wandering aimlessly around the zoo and staring at a bunch of animals that you don't know much about? Say hello to the free Houston Zoo iPhone App. The App opens up onto a live Twitter stream where fellow zoo-goers post helpful tips, such as which exhibits are air-conditioned, and then leads right into a list of all the… More >>
  • Best Flack

    Norm Uhl, HISD

    The life of a school-district flack can be frustrating: The media ignores all the "good" news you point them to, while constantly hounding you for more info on all the "bad" news they prefer to go with. Norm Uhl does a great job of being patient, returning phone calls and e-mails promptly, and getting answers almost as quickly as reporters… More >>
  • Best Bureaucrat

    Jim Robinson, Harris County Appraisal District

    No property owner likes appraisal districts. After all, organizations like the Harris County Appraisal District play a key role in determining how much property tax a homeowner pays, and that's never a good thing. And HCAD deals with so many properties that horror stories do crop up from time to time. But Jim Robinson, HCAD's chief appraiser, does a remarkable… More >>
  • Best Place to People-Watch

    The Texas Medical Center

    For a city of our size, Houston's not a great people-watching city. It's so spread out and so segregated, by class if no longer by race. Take downtown, for example. For the most part, the middle-class office drones stay below decks in the tunnels while the poor people sizzle in the heat topside, and (relatively) seldom do the twain interact.… More >>
  • Best School

    T.H.Rogers

    Somehow, T.H. Rogers keeps coming up with great principals who embody the school's unique mission. That mission involves melding two distinct populations: Vanguard students who attend the gifted-and-talented magnet program from kindergarten through eighth grade, and deaf and multiply impaired students of all ages. Managing things can be a tricky adventure requiring lots of patience, but principal David Muzyka manages… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Casey Curry, KTRK

    KTRK is home to one of Houston's most enthusiastic practitioners of "Hype the Tropics," Tim "Hurricane" Heller. Luckily, the station also has a more realistic meteorologist, Casey Curry, who doesn't portentously announce the need "to keep an eye on" every thunderstorm that might form in the Caribbean. Curry ably describes conditions and possible scenarios without trying to make everything seem… More >>
  • Best Ruins

    Love Street Light Circus

    Nothing about the decrepit, avocado-colored three-story building on the banks of Buffalo Bayou just west of the Main Street bridge advertises the fact that it used to be the focal point of Texas's fertile psych-rock scene, which was both bluesier and more adventurous (musically and pharmaceutically) than its better-known San Francisco Bay Area counterpart. But the top floor of the… More >>
  • Best Local TV Talk Show

    InnerVIEWS

    Local TV talk in Houston tends towards either somewhat dreary, earnest discussions of public works budgets, or breezy, content-free slam-bang interviews with celebrities plugging projects and repeating what they've said in a dozen cities. Ernie Manouse's InnerVIEWS, despite its terrible title, is a welcome exception. He goes the national route, since his KUHT show is syndicated, but he actually prepares… More >>
  • Best Hero

    Lima the Cat

    When Pearland resident Cherry Woods found herself being attacked by two large pit bulls, she found salvation in the most unlikely creature. "She's the most reclusive, timid animal I've ever seen," Cherry's husband, Harold, told KHOU about the couple's cat Lima. But Lima sprung into action during the attack, hissing and scratching until the killer dogs turned their attention away… More >>
  • Best Criminal Defense Attorney

    Dick DeGuerin

    If you or I were in a bar in Waco, Texas, and we got into an argument with somebody, and then went outside with that person in full view of several patrons, and then shot that person point-blank in the face in front of several witnesses who would later testify that we fired without provocation after asking our victim, "Where… More >>
  • Best Principal

    Bertie Simmons

    Bertie Simmons is the septuagenarian principal of Furr High School on Houston's East Side, where 15gangs have been identified on campus. Despite this, calmness prevails and test scores are rising, thanks to the former district superintendent who came out of retirement to take over the then-troubled school in 2000 and uses "positive reinforcement" as her motto. Biggest exploit to date:… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    103.7 FM

    Nowhere else on the Houston dial this past year could you hear Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie, both within the same hour, at least on a major corporate radio station. It was sometime last fall that we heard the former's single "You Never Know" while driving around town, and we immediately had to make sure we didn't have our… More >>
  • Best Criminal Court Judge

    Shawna Reagin

    While a few Republican babies were thrown out with the bathwater of the 2008 Democratic courthouse landslide — Caprice Cosper, anyone? — such was not the case with the election of veteran defense attorney Shawna Reagin. In defeating crotchety old Jack Rains, she had support from both ends of the political spectrum and both sides of the bar. Somewhat miraculously,… More >>
  • Best Charity

    Child Advocates

    Children caught — through no fault of their own — in the bureaucratic maze of the court system: It can be a recipe for disaster. Someone has to stand up for them, but it can be a frustrating job. For the past 26 years, Child Advocates has been taking on that job, working on behalf of kids who are in… More >>
  • Best Local Blog

    Swamplot

    Want to know what that new construction is all about on your street, or why there is a wrecking crew aiming for that quirky little building on your favorite corner? With its fingers on the pulse of the Houston real estate game, Swamplot more than likely has the skinny. This mostly daily blog keeps you abreast of the happenings both… More >>
  • Best Demolition

    Savoy Apartments

    How many places in the world have to shut down a whole city block because chunks of concrete are literally falling from the sky? That happened in Houston when pieces of the old Savoy Apartments — built in 1906 and the first building in Houston to have electricity — started crumbling away after years of neglect. But the city jumped… More >>
  • Best Tourist Attraction

    1900 Great Storm Memorial, Galveston

    No one paid a great deal of attention to the memorial statue for victims of Galveston's 1900 hurricane when it first went up on the seawall in 2000. Then came Ike. Gripping, dramatic shots of Ike-powered waves crashing over the wall and above the statue were irresistible to photographers and were published all over the world. Now people flock to… More >>
  • Best Cemetery

    Old City Cemetery

    For the crowd that enjoys touring cemeteries in hopes of having a paranormal experience or just to take in a bit of history, the Old City Cemetery in Galveston is a favorite. Parts of the cemetery are starting to deteriorate and the grounds are often covered in yellow wildflowers, a combination that gives the place an extra-spooky feel. Many of… More >>
  • Best Lawsuit

    Charter school teacher beating

    If not the shot heard 'round the world, it was at least the beating seen 'round the country: Jamie's House teacher Sheri Lynn Davis whomping on a 13-year-old boy. Thank goodness some enterprising student thought to record the event, rather than rush to the child's aid, because the video will no doubt be the centerpiece of the lawsuit against Davis… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet MILFs

    Children's Museum of Houston

    It's a given that it's much easier to meet women in places that are less threatening — just try to hit on a stranger in, say, a parking garage for negative confirmation of that adage. And where on Earth is less threatening than a children's museum? And where are adults more starved for a little adult conversation than after an… More >>
  • Best Parade

    Art Car Parade

    For 23 years, crazy-ass folks have been tricking out all types of vehicles in all kinds of guises in what is truly a uniquely Houstonian tradition. Erstwhile Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd (himself the driver of a certain infamous 1974 Dodge Monaco) was the Grand Marshal of the 2010 installment of this family-friendly frivolity that, as always, did not fail to… More >>
  • Best Local TV News Reporter

    Mark Greenblatt — KHOU

    When it came to reporting on the ever-expanding Metro scandal, Greenblatt led the pack. He broke the news on the document shredding, and then, like a hungry pit bull's jaws locked on a limb, he asked question after question and dug deeper and deeper, until it became virtually impossible for the beleaguered agency to issue empty statements while hiding behind… More >>
  • Best Bus Stop

    Montrose at Westheimer, Eastbound

    When you're talking about real estate, the only thing that matters is location, location, location. That mantra also applies to bus stops. This year's winner for Best Bus Stop isn't the prettiest, or the most well outfitted or even the most comfortable. It's the stop that allows for the best people-watching (a crucial factor in making the long wait for… More >>
  • Best Public Library Branch

    McGovern-Stella Link Neighborhood Library

    We'll always have a special place in our hearts for the downtown, main branch of the HPL, but let's face it: Driving downtown is about as much fun as a migraine. Thank goodness there are plenty of convenient branches, and right now our favorite is this bright, clean building that opened in 2005. Located in well-scrubbed Braeswood Place, the library… More >>
  • Best Post Office

    U.S. Post Office on Franklin Street

    Okay, sometimes the lines can be long, but they always seem to send someone out to try to siphon off some of the stamps-only and potential self-service customers to keep things moving. The building has a special older, funky charm and we're going to be sad if the feds ever succeed in selling it off. The staff doesn't change too… More >>
  • Best Cheap Thrill

    Hermann Park Train

    With new rolling stock recently expanded to add more leg and ass room, the now-50-year-old Hermann Park train and its $3 ticket still offer some of the cheapest and gentlest thrills in town. The choo-choo travels just fast enough to bring some relief from the heat, and now that it has added actual stops — one at the Museum of… More >>
  • Best Radio Host (Talk)

    Michael Berry — KTRH

    Michael Berry might be too conservative for some, but we like how he has his finger on the pulse of Houston's hot-button issues. We like to tune in after work to see what he makes of the day's events, even if we don't always agree. Often controversial, always compelling, he doesn't talk over his callers like many of his right-wing… More >>
  • Best Court Ruling

    Judge Kevin Fine Kills the Death Penalty

    We knew to expect some fireworks when Kevin Fine rode the 2008 Democratic wave into a district-judge seat. After all, being a heavily tattoed former cocaine addict is not the typical way to get to the bench, unless it's as a defendant. The fireworks came this year when Fine declared the state's death-penalty law unconstitutional. "We execute innocent people," he… More >>
  • Best Window into the Oil Industry

    Sam Houston Boat Tour

    Within Houston, there is a hidden city. No, we’re not talking about the tunnels, we’re talking about the behemoth oil refineries and petrochemical plants that stretch along and dominate the Houston Ship Channel, the commercial engine of the city. These industrial complexes are hidden, tucked behind a security wall of chain-link fences and armed guards. The only way to get… More >>
  • Best View

    JPMorgan Chase Tower

    It's the tallest building in Houston, the tallest edifice in Texas and one of the top 50 tallest skyscrapers in the world. With a résumé like that, it's easy to understand why the 75-story JPMorgan Chase Tower has the best views around. Visitors can't quite get all the way to the top, but there is an observation area called the… More >>
  • Best Tree

    The Old Hanging Oak

    Said to be more than 400 years old, the massive live oak at Bagby and Capitol (behind the Bayou Place entertainment complex) was no doubt a mite smaller back in the Republic of Texas days, when it would have been only about a youthful 225. Even so, it's hard to believe the tree could have grown a whole lot since… More >>
  • Best Local TV Commercial

    Houston Aeros, "I Have a Gun"

    A year ago, local production company TVMan launched its "Be a Fan" campaign for the Houston Aeros, giving us some of the smartest, funniest, most absurd and effective ads we'd seen in some time. They're all excellent, but we have a sweet spot for the one featuring mustachioed Sergeant Larry Hall. Consisting entirely of Hall, in dress blues, standing against… More >>
  • Martha Sobhani is one of the people who make Houston great

    Paint and Perspective

    Martha Sobhani is one of the people who make Houston great

    By John Nova Lomax In defending Houston's good name, after acknowl­edging that our climate, terrain, architecture and history are nothing special, sometimes exasperated lovers of Houston simply throw their hands in the air and say something like, "It's the people. The people make Houston great." That grand vague statement is personified in part by Martha Sobhani — one of the hordes… More >>
  • Best Civil Attorney

    Rob Ammons

    The days of regular jackpot-jury payoffs in Harris County are long gone, but that doesn't mean they have completely vanished. Rob Ammons, who specializes in pipeline explosions, won a big victory this year for the family of a man who was killed in a 2007 blast. Ammons convinced a jury to award the survivors of Joshua Wade Petrie $82.5 million… More >>
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