Photo by Katya Horner

One of the best parts of living in the fourth-largest city in the country is that it's a people-watching paradise, and no spot better represents that than Discovery Green. No two trips to Discovery Green are ever exactly the same, and that's a good thing. It's a location that brings in all sorts of folks, including but not limited to families looking to spend a day in the sun; people killing time before a concert; and couples in all stages of relationships, from first date to engagement photos. Add a dog park, a seasonal skating rink, the Gateway Fountain, special events and more, and you get a space where there's always something going on and always someone to watch.

Swishahouse was a local institution even long before many of its priceless mementos were cataloged into the Special Collections at Rice University's Fondren Library in October 2012. By helping commercialize the late DJ Screw's slow and low rap style, the label helped the careers of artists like Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Mike Jones bloom and became one of the most successful independent record labels in music business history. Steered to this day by cofounders G Dash and Michael "5000" Watts — who showcases the latest Swisha wares on his long-running Sunday night 97.9 The Box show — the label keeps right on cranking out a steady supply of albums from artists such as Southside stalwart Lil Keke da Don and often updated mixtape series like The Day Hell Broke Loose, which gather top rap names both local and national into the fold. For a record label that became both a brand name and an enduring culture unto itself, calling Swishahouse the Motown of the South doesn't seem like much of a stretch. As its motto says, "You don't grind, you don't shine."

How could a bar with a Flickr Hive Mind page devoted to photos of the awesome potty-wall scribbles not be the recipient of a "Best of" award? No matter what kind of bathroom graffiti you're into, Rudyard's bathroom walls have it covered. Be it your old-school "For a good time, call 555-5555" type of scrawling, a multi-person debate on feminism or some deep thoughts with Jack Handey kind of stuff, there are plenty of Sharpie musings to gaze at while you wait in line or, of course, hover above the seat.

Directing out-of-towners to the area's two major airports might be seen as a hostile gesture, but we're not hating at all. For months, Houston has been all over this national magazine or that Web site as one of the country's best places to visit, eat, do business, buy a house or find a job. As many as 100 people a day are already moving to Houston, according to some estimates, so the only reason we recommend visitors visit Bush or Hobby is so they can fly back home and rent a U-Haul. Honest.

The Queen Vic redefines "pub grub" with unexpected twists on bar food favorites, both British and American, thanks to chef/owner Shiva Patel's Indian influence. Bar bites during happy hour are only $4 and feature such diverse dishes as ground lamb and potato croquettes with cilantro chutney, or try the deviled eggs with pili pili sauce. For a few bucks more, you can indulge in spicy lamb keema or gravy-soaked poutine, sausage rolls or vada pav sliders.

Now in its fifth year, the KUHF Silent Film Series is one of the best free events in town. The series pairs a silent movie from the early 1900s with a Texas-based musical act that creates a score for the film and then performs it live during the screening. The films are shown on the lawn at Discovery Green, where large crowds bring blankets and pack picnic baskets to take in unique productions you won't see on the big screen anywhere else. Get there early to get a good spot, and hide your wine in a paper bag — everybody does it.

In order to inject culture, one must first observe, collect and acknowledge the culture that is already in place. "What does it mean to have a home?" is the question posed to us by this Voices Breaking Boundaries production that digs deep into the history of Freedman's Town and its current residents, who are dealing with an elimination of history through gentrification. For comparison, the filmmakers also look at the Baloch and Sheedi community of Karachi, Pakistan, whose roots are also in Africa. Music and visual artists also provided their talents during the community events that were held on and near several streets within the neighborhood west of downtown between West Gray and West Dallas. Near the end of the film, director Sehba Sarwar says: "It's clear that neither community is gone, histories are not lost and struggles are not over."

Whether your child wants to be a princess, a superhero, a pirate or simply a Nerf-sharpshooter, Wonderwild can assist with making that happen. They're the go-to guys for birthday magic, and they've got a menu a mile long of add-ons to customize little Mikey's pirate extravaganza. Want a sweet treats candy bar to sugar up the little monsters before you send 'em home with Mom and Dad? Check. Need a balloon artist to provide less deadly pirate swords? They've got it covered. There's Bubble Magic, face painting and inflatables to make planning your kid's birthday party as seamless as possible, and you don't even have to clean up the mess when it's over and done with. See? Life does have its little miracles.

The Station Museum of Contemporary Art made its reputation with exhibitions of international artists such as Mel Chin's "Do Not Ask Me" in 2006, the group show "Iraqi Artists in Exile" in 2008 and Andrei Molodkin's "Crude" in 2011. More recently the museum has focused on local artists, as with its 2012 exhibit "HX8 (Houston Times Eight)," the first in a series of shows by local painters, photographers, sculptors and videographers. That one included work by Daniel Anguilu, Forrest Prince, Floyd Newsum and Prince Varughese Thomas. The museum's current show, "Call It Street Art, Call It Fine Art, Call It What You Know," builds on "HX8" with work by street artists Skeez181, DUAL, The Death Head, ACK! and KC Ortiz. Station Museum, a non-collecting organization, is making sure local talent gets time on museum walls, something sometimes overshadowed by the bigger museums' blockbuster, big-name shows.

It hasn't taken long for this intelligent, provocative, smart-ass — and sometimes infuriating — local talk-show host to spread to markets as diverse as Nashville and Portland. So the dude must be doing something right. Even though we generally know where he's going to stand on the day's or week's major events — generally on the redneck end of the spectrum — we also generally rush to hear his take before giving a rat's ass about anybody else's, because Berry is just so damn good at what he does. There are few others in radio — national hosts included — who can hold our attention, and just plain entertain, like Berry can. Houston is lucky to have him.

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