Robert Pitre and Johnny Johnson have come up with a gadget that may make being stuck on Central more bearable-a Television Auto Signal Convert-er!aimply put, once this gizmo Is hooked up to your car, you can listen to any TV station on your radio. Now you can catch the “Today” show while you drive to work and the six o’clock news on your way home. Still in the production stage, look for this product to hit the market in about 6-8 months.
A WILD LIFE
PARADISE FOUND Serendipity rules a McKinney garden where nature, a wildflower lover, and a hardware-happy engineer all find free rein. Out among the meadow grasses and twisted Japanese black pines are Marcia Coale’s (at right) drifts of wild violets, purple coneflower, and clumps of Texas bluebells. Here and there, her husband Cecil’s odd sculptures dot the landscape, with creatures far stranger than any nature ever grew. Besides tending her four-acre Eden, Marcia also tends her “Wildflower Hotline,” giving callers insight into what’s blooming and where to buy it. Occasionally, she shares her philosophy on gardening: “To me, a garden should be changing, because the earth is always changing. People tend to make their flower beds fixed and treat plants like objects.” -Julie Ryan
HOLY BAT TREND Remember comic books? Cheap newsprint, disposable adventures for adolescents? Brace yourself, things have changed. Comic quality and publishing standards have risen dramatically, while plots and heroes have increasingly become more sophisticated and adult-oriented.
The renaissance began with two cutting-edge comics, The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, published in 1986. Since then, comics of all sizes, prices, formats, and qualities have sprouted for every type of audience, G-through R-rated. The average reader’s age is now in the mid-20s, meaning that as many “thirtysomething” parents are reading comics as are their kids. Our recommended comic outlets:
Clint’s Comic Book Stores: comics, games, sci-fi. 581 W. Campbell.
Keiths Comics: has a discount plan for regulars. 3406 Rosedale.
Valley News Book Store: current and back issues; honors competitors’ discount cards. 7522 Campbell Road.
Lone Star Comics: Lone Star was comics before comics were hip. 11661 Preston Forest Village. -David Schulz
Fame Finds Ronnie Dawson
PAST LIVES Veteran Dallas musician Ronnie Dawson says he has never regretted turning his back on the fickle linger of fame and doing it his way, even if his way didn’t always pay much more than the rent on the North Dallas apartment he has lived in since I960.
Everybody who remembers the Levee, the once-popular pub on Mockingbird adjacent to Campisi’s Egyptian Restaurant, knows about Ronnie Dawson, the A-string-thin, blond-tressed main attraction with the Levee Singers for many years. Before that, he was the 18-year-old phenom with the “Light Crust Doughboys,” one of Texas’s premier western bands. By the time he was 20, he was a “rockabilly” sensation, with his own album of black-inspired doo-wop lyrics and teen-speed thunderation licks on his 1957 Fender Telecaster. His raw and relentless talent took him to Vegas and New York and even to national TV before the whirlwind subsided. The money disappeared before it ever reached his pocket, on rhinestone suits, long cars, and fast women drinking sloe gin.
“It was makin’ a livin’, livin’ a lie,” he says about the New York-Vegas-Nashville experience. And on that note he came back home. Ten years later, at 49, Ronnie’s big again. He’s a cult idol for thousands of Europe’s blue-collar rockers who crave rockabilly.
After “The Cramps,” a popular rockabilly band in Britain, recorded “Rockin’ Bones,” a tune of Ronnie’s from the Fifties, he woke up one morning and found himself famous-in another country. So for the last three years Ronnie’s been touring overseas, wowing his fans. His new album, still-a-lot-of- rhythm!, is just out and available on this side of the Atlantic at The Melody Shop at Northwest Hwy, and Abrams. Give it a listen. -Tom Dodge
Ah, the eternal questions of time travel: what if you killed your own grandfather? Can we do anything about Nixon? is mileage deductible? Some cinematic answers:
The grandfather of beat-the-clock films is The Time Machine (I960), with Rod Taylor as time tourist H.G. Wells. The special effects won’t dazzle your kids, and the Morlocks won’t scare anyone, but this poig-nant “message” movie is still highly watchable.
In Slaughterhouse Five (1972), Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks) has a problem: he’s coming “unstuck” in time, bouncing in one era and out the other, from his childhood to his grisly wartime service to the planet Tralfamadore, where Valerie Perrine is an unlikely consort. The skillful transitions reinforce the theme: what do we mean by “now,” anyway?
In Time After Time (1979), Jack the Ripper steals Wells’s time machine and flees Victorian England. Wells, a Utopian liberal, pursues him into present-day America and a culture so violent that the Ripper feels right at home. Nice touchLittle is clear in The Navigator (1989). especially the muttered British dialogue, but the film fascinates nonetheless. Four men from plague- swept medieval Europe journey to modern England in search of a cure, led by a precocious lad whose dreams may foretell the future- and the death of one traveler. Makes you wonder: what would a modern super-highway look like to a man from 1450?