If New Year’s hasn’t been the same for you since Guy Lom-bardo died, here’s a good reason to dust off your basic black and get out your dancing shoes. Midnight at the Meyer-son promises to be a very civilized way to ring in ’91, with music by Vicho Vincenzo and his 13-piece orchestra, and Larry and the Blue Notes, plus dinner catered by Don Strange-Monday, Dec. 31, at 8 p.m.; tickets are $100 each. For more info, call 827-8474.


Faces It’s fitting that rancher/rodeo guyturned actor Brad Johnson got his big breakbecause he’s a real cowboy. While filming abeer commercial in Wyoming, he was tappedto play the cowpoke lead when an L.A.actor’s fake swagger and drawl was deemedridiculous. “The director just pointed at meand said, ’Okay kid, you’re in.’” It was easyenough for Johnson, who says, “I’ve beena cowboy all my life.” But after StevenSpielberg picked him for the hunkish lead inAlways, he’s also been branded a futuremovie star. His new flick, Flight of theIntruder, co-starring Danny Glover andWillem Dafoe, debuts this month, and he’ssigned a two-picture deal with Paramount.Yet Johnson (married, with a year-old son)keeps his feet on the ground-in Lewisville,where he’s using the bulldozer he bought lastyear to finish his dream ranch. “It’s all I’veever wanted.” -Eric Celeste

Land Cruising

RAIL THINGS After a heavy dose of home and hearth during the winter holidays, wanderlust hits and, for many, it’s cruise season. Consider skipping the Caribbean: A pair of elegant private rail cars are now available for charter. You can hitch your cars to an Amtrak engine and roll almost anywhere in the U.S. The cars, owned by Gauer Estate Vineyards, have been restored to beyond their original comfort: the “Golden Mission” Pullman car has five double bedrooms with sofas and easy chairs so they serve as private silting rooms by day; the “Sonoma Valley” club car retains its original 1946 cherry wood paneling, but has been updated with a color TV/VHS stereo system, an AM/FM cassette sound system, and a washer and dryer, Charter rates are negotiated depending on where you want to go-price includes the services of a chef and porter. Contact: Sonoma Valley Railcars, 7500 Dry Creek Road, Geyserville, CA 95441. (707) 431-8012. -Mary Brown Malouf

Too Cool for School

THEATER I’m at Mesquite’s J.C. Rugel Elementary to see Young Audiences perform its First of 300 children’s shows this season, and problems begin immediately. The three performers that comprise this performing group (Opera, Opera, Opera!) are moved into a tiny gymnasium. I have to sit in a munchkin chair, with a back as high as my knee. “You’ll be able to see how versatile they are,” says marketing manager Judy Garlick. Easy for her to say: She’s sitting in a big-person chair.

About 50 fourth graders shuffle in. They don’t seem impressed that Young Audiences of Dallas’s 19 professional ensembles plan to perform topics such as poetry, African performing arts, and mime for 75,000 area students this year. They just want to have fun.

Eddie Coker, a baritone, imitates boring, self-important opera soloists. The kids giggle. Eddie and soprano Diane Guthrie effortlessly move through their awkward setting (Eddie shows how to sing a solo and shoot baskets at the same time), while the kids use huge flashcards to learn opera words (like overture, aria, recitative).

The pianist, Jami Heemstra, demonstrates how important music is in defining character. The kids help Jami find a theme for the two characters, The Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood. Ten kids are selected to be woodsmen in the show, but three more brave tykes jump up and participate anyway. After much terrified screaming and cajoling, the remaining munchkins practice being the chorus. The teachers sing as loud as the students-even the grizzled gym coach hums along. By the end of the show, the kids are laughing and clapping frantically, they know the difference between a song and an aria, and my chair doesn’t feel so small anymore. -Eric Celeste

Whild Things

Music The latest musical dessert to come from Deep Ellum is the band Whild Peach. Although the band has been around for several years, the latest incarnation is the one that’s getting the attention.

Peach is the lead singer. Whild is the keyboardist, guitarist, and singer. The duo came together in 1985 and began performing at the Prophet Bar and the Theatre Gallery in 1986, where they opened for the New Bohemians. Now they include Peach’s sister Cleo as backup singer, Darrell Phillips on bass, Mike Merry man on keyboards, Doug Neil on guitar, and Gerald Iragorri on drums.

In concert, this band lives up to the “Whild” part of its name. Combining the psychedelia of Jimi Hendrix with the soul of Sly and the Family Stone, Whild Peach uses strobe lights and frantic, rhythmic dancing to create quite a show.

That show stars Peach, who wears a leather-fringed mini dress with black fishnet stockings emphasizing her long, Tina Turner-like legs. Her sister, Cleo, adds to the spectacle with her full Sixties afro and get-down dancing style. Whild and bassist Phillips bare their chests fur an added “savage” touch, and you can’t miss the lamp-shade hat of guitarist Neil.

The interesting thing about this band’s hard-edged funky rack is that it should be danceable, but the audience is so absorbed with the goings-on on stage that they actually forget to dance. -Lisa Taylor

Bats, Bird Feeders, and Pastel Pith Helmets


Shopping local museums, libraries, and parks reveals scads of surprising and, shall we say, unusual items. No mere souvenir emporia, these gift shops restore the fun to shopping while yielding fairly priced and memorable good stuff. The possibilities include:

Dallas Arboretum (327-8263). Outdoorsy items get the accent here, so you’ll find things like bird feeders, butterfly nets, plants, herbs, and wind chimes.

Dallas Museum of Art, downtown (922-1256) or Galleria (788-5361). The new Galleria museum store stocks some, but not all of downtown’s treasures, most notably more than 2,000 art books and the most dazzling jewelry in town.

Dallas Public Library, downtown (670-1727). Printed things abound, including cards, stationery, note pads, calendars, even travel guides.

Dallas Zoo (670-6825). Fresh from the wilds of merchandising: animal masks, snouts, and slippers (shown here), and pastel pith helmets.

Science Place (428-5555). Get lost among the kaleidoscopes, hand puppets, nifty scientific posters, and oodles of deliciously creepy-crawly spiders, snakes, bugs, bats, and frogs. -Derro Evans

Spanning the Globe With Earthvvatch

GETAWAY Come fix the planet, urge (he organizers of Earthwatch, which since 1971 has recruited 26,000 lay volunteers as research assistants on scientific projects spanning the globe. Members of Earth Corps (ranging in age from 18 to 70) abandon their workaday worlds for a week or two to join expeditions on goals ranging from working with malnourished villagers in Zimbabwe to tracking endangered Bengal tigers and other carnivores in Nepal.

Here’s how it works: After joining Earthwatch for $25, members are eligible to choose from 130 environmental, wildlife, or cultural projects. Working at sites in the U.S. and around the world, the volunteers assist scientists by performing chores from the mundane to the rigorous. It’s adventure, but the impoverished and the weak-hearted need not apply. Volunteers fork over fees from $800 to $2,750 (plus transportation costs to and from the work area), and the housing can range from tents and huts to dorms and villas.

Still, Earthwatch may be the ultimate getaway for eco-minded travelers of the Nineties. By allowing real people to do real things to help the environment, this organization allows us to turn talk into action. It sure beats reeling helpless about threats to endangered wildlife and vanishing rain forests. Junkets for 1991 will enlist volunteers to climb Mount Olympus, track orangutans in Borneo and black-lipped pikas (tiny rabbit relatives) in Tibet, teach artificial language to dolphins in Hawaii, observe forest inhabitants in Poland and Papua New Guinea, look for remnants of dinosaurs in Australia and mammoths in Mexico, and probe the depth of blue holes in the Bahamas.

For more information, contactEarthwatch, 680 Mt. Auburn. Box403-BAL, Watertown, MA 02272, or call(617) 926-8200. –Derro Evans

Ballet, South of the Border Style

DANCE Dallas’s Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico performs dances from all regions of Mexico and the American Southwest. Under new artistic direction, and with new props, costumes, musicians, and an additional dozen dancers fleet-footing and flouncing their way across area stages, the troupe promises to dazzle Dallasites and win legions of new fans with its ambitious upcoming season.

The rapidly growing company’s repertoire includes dozens of folk dances that are distinctive to the individual regions of our neighbor to the South. The company’s own newly formed musical ensemble keeps pace with the vigorous, outdoorsy ranch-ero dances with its blaringly bold and brassy mariachi music. They also accompany delicately stepped dances from the eastern coastal regions of Mexico with lilting melodies and charming waltzes. Haunting, ancestral rituals harken to the mysterious roots of native Indian dance. Each dance, performed in its distinctive, colorful costume, celebrates the joy of movement in rainbows of rhythm.

January marks the beginning of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico membership drive, as the troupe warms up for its second performing season, which officially kicks off in June. For the new season, besides performing in Dallas every other week, the dancers will tour other Texas cities during July and August. For more information and performance schedules, call 526-7755. -Phyllis Williams and John Trimble


Unplug your kids from the boob tube and take them to the USA Film Festival’s 7th Annual KidFilm Festival celebrating excellence in children’s film arts. January 18-20 at AMC Theatres on Walnut Hill Lane. Tickets are S2.50 each. Call 821-6300 for more info.


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