Politics & Personalities
2012 Readers Poll
2012 Critics Picks
Best Answer to a Bad IDEA

When Austin ISD hatched their plan to turn Allan Elementary and Eastside Memorial High over to IDEA Public Schools, PRIDE of the Eastside formed to speak for the community the district ignored. The district writes them off as professional protesters, but it was PRIDE standing in the rain to speak against closing Allan. It was PRIDE members tending students at the summer fete when the district shuttered the campus. And it’s PRIDE that’s never given up the fight for their kids and their neighborhood.

PRIDE of the Eastside

Best Artistic Trend in a Recession

Big Medium, MASS Gallery, Flatbed Press, The Zü, Pump Project, Super! Alright!, UP Collective, Tiny Park, Okay Mountain, Splinter Group (North and South). Need we go on? Okay: Clayworks, In House Gallery, 701 Tillery, Ginko Studios, Bay6 Gallery, Pigoata Studio, Cobra Studios, Artpost. Had enough? Edwood Studio Co-op, East Side Glass Studio, Boom Gallery, Phoenix Trades Depot, Fisterra Studio, Merge Art Collective … and on and on and on. You know what would be great? Some city/county/state funds apportioned to grow and support this vibrant and vital limbic system of Austin's art corps.

Best Ballot Box Brain

Every time election season rolled around and journalists found themselves stumped by some weird corner of voter law, there was only one solution: Call Mary Fero! The calm voice of the Travis County Elections Division, Mary has solved queries, settled conundrums, and clarified calamities for the whole press corps. Now she heads into a happy retirement, and we wish her bon voyage. Before you go, Mary, we've just got one quick question about filing deadlines!

Travis County Clerk's Office
5501 Airport

Best Beer Truthiness

Where is a lager not a lager? In Texas. The Lone Star State’s loopy labeling regulations meant drinkers were left baffled, as the laws bastardized internationally accepted terms. The mix-ups were so bad that Texas beers would have trouble getting sold out-of-state, as a stout could get called a malt liquor. Finally, a distributor, a bar, and a craft brewer all said, "Enough" and sued the state. And now you know what you’re getting in your glass.

Jester King Craft Brewery
13187 Fitzhugh Rd.

Authentic Beverages
1305 W. Oltorf #500

Best Champions for Equal Access

ADAPT has been championing the rights of disabled folks for decades. Over the last few years, our local branch of these awesome activists launched lawsuits across Texas to expand access to public places for folks with disabilities. Lots of local faves – including bars on Sixth Street, legendary restaurants – and the Domain shopping center, are on that list. Let's get rolling, folks!

ADAPT of Texas
1100 S. IH-35 Frontage Rd

Best Creamy Unifier

Under the pink dome, we may disagree on a few issues: voter ID, the budget, Planned Parenthood, yo momma. But when Thursday rolls around, whether you're lawmaker, lobbyist, staffer, or aggrieved voter, you line up for the frozen yogurt machine at the Capitol Grill. It may not sound like much, but in the once-a-week line for that chilled deliciousness, and the sumptuous array of toppings, political enemies become unified over the sprinkles versus hot fudge debate.

Capitol Grill

Best Double Entendre

Shh – don't tell Milton Glaser (the I ♥ NY logo designer). Texas State University's chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization developed a version of Glaserâ's design for the hilly university home of former President Johnson. To use some academ-ese, their Glaser emendation, "I ♥ SM", has a kind of useful polysemy (ewwww?). The shirt communicates a palpable love of place, and, uh, another love that dare not speak its name – for strongly dyadic consensual sex-power relationships. If these students have any trouble getting rid of their stock, they could always just set up camp outside of the Chain Drive. Now, that's entrepreneurship! ¡Viva SM!

Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, Texas State Chapter

Best Educational Inspiration

When Eastside Memorial High School students and teachers were rallying and lobbying the Austin ISD trustees, begging them to save their school, there was one name that stood above all: Principal Connor Grady. As the campus got split, merged and redivided, Grady was there, raising test scores and raising spirits, proving that the right principal and the right team can change a school. Even though he’s now an assistant principal at Austin High, the impact he had on the lives of East Austin kids remains.


Best Guardians of the Flame

Advocacy group Los Hermanos de East Austin is a collective of locals banding together to fix and fight for their neighborhood. Whether it's sourcing volunteers to help elderly neighbors with yard work or calling on each other to fill the back-to-school backpacks of neighborhood kids, this collective of neighbors helping neighbors works to get out the vote, lend helping hands, and keep East Austin growing in the vision of the people who live there.

Hermanos de East Austin

Best Hope for Puppies Everywhere

The THLN fights to provide a voice at the Texas Capitol for the furry, feathered, and four-legged among us. This is no small feat. Yet they're back, session after session, to advocate for humane practices for all animals great and small. And last year, as lawmakers fought over how to close a $27 billion budget gap and nearly everyone walked away feeling that it was the most depressing session in years, THLN scored several major victories, including the passage of a groundbreaking (for Texas) law to regulate large-scale dog and cat breeders, and to put out of business those among them that operate unsanitary and inhumane puppy mills. For that alone, they deserve a nice, sloppy, wet puppy kiss.

Texas Humane Legislation Network
PO Box 685283

Sandy Carson

Best Thong

Like a shooting star, Thong Rider appears in Clarksville, on East Sixth, or the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge, or in your dreams with a flash of a smile and flashy underwear to match. If you spot him, he'll brighten up your day. And before you know it, he's riding off, without a care in the world, to spread his cheeky cheer to all the girls and boys. Next time you see him, make a wish.

All around town. In a thong.

Best Way To Find a Good Mystery

So you like thrillers, suspense, mysteries – Elmore Leonard, John Sandford, and Michael Connelly. But do you know Joe Nesbo? Or Attica Locke? If not, that could be because you've never had a chance to get a recommendation from Bill Donaldson, a city librarian at the Carver Branch in East Austin. He's down with the latest Prey books, knows when the next Alphabet Mystery is due out, and can point you in the direction of something that just might actually scare your socks off. Go in for a book, come out with a read.

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Way To Stay Safe on Campus

What do three stolen iPhones, a missing bike, and a drunkard in a parking garage have in common? They've each made the weekly blotter roundup of crime on campus put together by the University of Texas Police Department and sent out with the subject line "Campus Watch" to thousands of people. Not only does this give you a sense of where, and what kind of crime, is occurring on the UT campus, but the cops also offer the occasional snarky aside to make you giggle or helpful hints to keep yourself, and your property, safe.

University of Texas Police Department Campus Watch
2201 Robert Dedman

Best Way to Turn Some Green Even Greener

Austin is home to a smart-grid test community, and this nonprofit organization is the research muscle behind the energy and water systems necessary to develop it into sustainability. Three years ago, the Department of Energy gave the Pecan Street Project $10.4 million to help fund a smart-grid demonstration project at Mueller. Along with the help of nearly a dozen private companies, this project leads the way for a cleaner, greener world. By offering rebates to participants, the project has helped to solar-power the Mueller neighborhood, which now boasts over 200 homes with rooftop systems and the highest concentration of electric cars in the nation.

Pecan Street Project
3925 W. Braker

Best Welcoming Preaching Couple

Yes, we know many of you aren't into organized religion, but some of you may be looking for some spiritual fellowship or counsel, albeit with a progressive, liberal bent. If so, check out this Downtown church for size. It's run by the low-key (yet so dynamic) duo of the Reverends Wright and Ruth, who, as they put it, "don't believe in sad, judgmental religion." Can we get an amen?

First United Methodist Church
1201 Lavaca

Critics: Outdoors & Recreation
Critics: Services

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