Steve Earle: He's the baddest of the bad, all right--a survivor who died a few dozen times and refused to crawl gently into that bright light, an addict and an outlaw, a convict and a renegade. For years, Earle's dead-man-walking reputation always dwarfed his output--the first album kicked some tough Nashville ass, but the rest rocked too hard and came off like a bragging bully too chickenshit to actually deliver the goods; he made country safe for the longhairs again in the mid-'80s, then he decided to piss away his life and career doing the things rockers do when they want to end it all. So it has been a long trip back for the Houston-born Earle, but finally he's got the album to prove he's still tougher than the rest: I Feel Alright is the defiant, unrepentant work of a man who tackled his demons, then took them out for an early-morning breakfast of whiskey and eggs; he's made his peace with his addictions ("Cocaine Cannot Kill My Pain," a wrenching country blues) and the damage they wrought ("Hurtin' Me, Hurtin' You"), but he offers no apologies. He knows Nashville was wishin' him luck with a capital F, and he knows everyone used to write his name in pencil. Earle eventually came back on his own terms: "I feel alright," he declares from the get-go, and even if he doesn't, it's nobody's business but his. Steve Earle performs at Deep Ellum Live.
Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff: Designs of the 20th Century: The latest exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art, entitled Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff: Designs of the 20th Century, is not just a fun look at pop culture debris that has washed up on the shores of the millennium. More importantly, Designs of the 20th Century is a freak show created by American consumer culture. Instead of two-headed fetuses floating in murky jars, we get inanimate objects far more chilling--orange "marshmallow" sofas and a TV set that presaged the art design of The Jetsons. Curators have arranged the objects in the show--which also include cars, clothing, and furniture--in chronological order, so we can trace the "evolution" of our collective, oh-so-stylish bad taste. The show runs through July 14 at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. It's free. Call 922-1344.
E. Lynn Harris: Terry McMillan may be the celebrity author du jour in the African-American community, but another black writer has reached The New York Times best-seller list tackling the same subjects of black love and heartbreak within a subculture that many try desperately to ignore: gay, lesbian, and bi. Indeed, it's a measure of the resistance E. Lynn Harris encountered inside and outside black America that he had to self-publish his 1992 literary debut Invisible Life. Two novels and a lucrative contract with Doubleday later, Harris returns with And This Too Shall Pass, another in the continuing saga of characters who discover the spiritual combination of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality bears strange fruit. Harris' people don't wait to exhale; they take a deep breath, say their peace, and watch the consequences fly. Harris appears at 7 p.m. at Crossroads Market & Bookstore, 3930 Cedar Springs. Call 521-8919.
Beds, Graves, And Other Places to Lie Down and Sabor A Mi: This week the Bath House Cultural Center opens a pair of art shows that highlight Texas regions--both on the map and in the heart. Beds, Graves, and Other Place to Lie Down features a trio of women artists--Linda Pace, Diana Rodriguez-Gil, and Kathy Vargas--who call San Antonio home. Various media unite to make explicit references to "places--where we lay and where the heart rests." Vargas was a recent recipient of a Mid-American Arts Alliance grant through the NEA. The second exhibition, Sabor a Mi, features "a taste of Dallas Latino art," with works on all subject matter in photography, painting, sculpture, and drawing on display. Both shows run through April 27; an opening reception for both happens April 13, 6-8 p.m. The Bath House Cultural Center is located at 521 E. Lawther. Call 670-8749.
Angel on Death Row: Now that Susan Sarandon has won an Oscar for her heart-wrenching portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking, pro-death penalty advocates have even more ammunition against Catholic activists. From the instant Prejean's harrowing first-person account was published three years ago and she became the country's leading critic of the death penalty, fans of Ol' Sparky have rushed to paint the tough-as-nails Prejean as a publicity-seeker and a hypocrite. Both sides are examined in "Angel on Death Row," an episode of the PBS documentary series Frontline. Interviews include Prejean and her associates as well as family members of victims brutalized and slain by Robert Lee Willie, one of the characters on which Sean Penn's role was based. The episode airs at 9 p.m. on KERA-TV Channel 13. Call 871-1390.
Christopher Darden: Of all the spotlight-hogging sycophants who've made their dime huckstering outside the tent of the O.J. Simpson circus, Los Angeles prosecutor Christopher Darden is due his a cappella solo. He makes the most of it with his contentious trial-of-the-century memoir In Contempt. Darden understands why racial issues eventually came to dominate Simpson's trial--especially when the investigation of the defendant was conducted by the long-protested LAPD--but confesses enormous outrage at the ruthless tactics employed by Johnny Cochran, who practiced a style of race-baiting that would make Jesse Helms proud. Fielding charges of "Oreo" and even death threats from inside the black community, Darden insists that the only justice which mattered in this case was vindication for the victims. He appears at 7 p.m. at Borders Books & Music, 1601 Preston in Plano. Call 713-9857.