Though we generally prefer eBay or craigslist when it comes to purchasing our axes, we do venture to Guitar Center on Central from time to time for the little things--strings, tuners, cables, etc. Without fail we always see: A) at least one complete emo band loitering in the parking lot, B) at least one past or present member of [DARYL] or the Deathray Davies, and C) some dude playing a slightly off-kilter rendition of a riff from either a Stevie Ray Vaughan or a Red Hot Chili Peppers song--sometimes we can't even tell which one; we only know that it's most likely one of the two.
Someone in Austin is gonna pay for this. When the all-female roller derby leagues of Central Texas reared their heads during our college days, we thought it was novel enough--after all, we almost went to a match once to catch And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Thankfully, we abstained, so we can't count ourselves responsible for the derby's spread to DFW and beyond. Judging by the growing ranks of local leagues such as Assassination City Derby and the Dallas Derby Devils--and all their blood make-up, lame tattoos and piercings--the metroplex has more than its fair share of strained father-daughter relationships. Now that the A&E series Rollergirls has been canceled, we can all hope that this obnoxious trend will be similarly short-lived. All right, we get it already. You chicks are tough. Can we have the Double Wide back now?
When Mayor Laura Miller announced that she wouldn't seek re-election, speculation about who might succeed her spread like a West Texas grassfire, prompting the men of KTCK's The Hardline to ask: Why not Mike Rhyner? When the beloved radio host was asked that afternoon what platform he might run on, the Old Gray Wolf responded with a stroke of political genius, saying if he were elected, he'd put Big Tex on top of the Reunion Tower. He's got our fake vote. Even if he only kept his promise for a day, you have to admit it would be a sight to see. Now if only we could get Santiago Calatrava to work the Texas Star into one of those friggin' bridge designs.
Round-Up Saloon
For more than a quarter-century The Round-Up Saloon has been one of Dallas' premier purveyors of country and western music, dancing and good times for good folks. Although classified as a gay bar, this popular watering hole welcomes those of all genders and persuasions, and any given night will give testimony that all types are present and all feel welcome. The Round-Up features all genres of country music, including old country, new/old remakes, young country and even crossover country. In short, the range of music offers styles, speeds and tastes to satisfy all. Nearly as rangy as the Ponderosa, this large club features six different bars and areas certain to provide the desired atmosphere to comfortably lip a long-neck (read that however you like). New shows and special events are scheduled frequently to ensure things keep hopping and hooting. Regular beer busts (50 cent draft!), karaoke, free dance lessons and Friday and Saturday Howdy Hour are popular mainstays here.
In only two years, the Summer Strut Home Tour, which takes place in early June, has leapt to the top of the list in this otherwise moribund category of entertainment. After all, how long can you really stay interested in Swiss Avenue? Sponsored by the AIDS Resource Center, the Summer Strut so far has presented tours in the Turtle Creek area and Greenway Parks, west of the Dallas North Tollway at Mockingbird Lane. It's not cheap--$50 a head and $90 per couple--but there are hors d'oeuvres at the houses and often live music. Old homes are mixed with new in a blend that is more stylish than what one sees on typical neighborhood tours.
El Ranchito
Kathy Tran
Every night we dine at this Oak Cliff institution we're treated to the best atmosphere of any Mexican joint in Dallas, complete with a roster of the city's finest mariachis. The fervent strumming of guitars, voices raised in perfect harmony, the sound of twin trumpets ringing off the tile--it's the next best thing to San Antonio, only you don't have to drive five hours and fight the River Walk crowds. On our last visit we even caught a touring act, an amplified band complete with twin saxophones, keyboard bass and a guy who had the sole responsibility of playing the hi-hat on the offbeat--with his hand.
What's going on with investigative TV reporting lately? For a while KTVT-Channel 11 had pulled ahead of WFAA's News 8 with a consistent string of hard-hitting, well-reported stories on local government and politics. What happened on 11? Recently their biggies were "New cameras can change the way you look," "Katie Couric's day in Texas" and, our favorite mind-boggling expos, "Schools influencing value of homes." Channel 8, meanwhile, is back in the winner's circle again with hard-hitting stories by Brett Shipp and Byron Harris on airline safety, wacked-out incompetence in the Dallas schools' administration, complaints of meshugga cops in Deep Ellum and others. All the major newscasts have competent newsreaders. It's the individual reporters and behind-the-scenes producers who make the difference. Right now, those are the people who have made News 8 the one to watch at 6 and 10.
Tired of Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville? Sick of getting hit up for change, paying eight bucks to park and constantly watching for muggers? Then head up Interstate 35 a piece and enjoy a night on the Denton town square, where the parking's free and the streets are considerably safer. For starters, we'd suggest a slice or two of delicious J&J's pizza (118 W. Oak St.). Follow that up with a shake at Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream and Soda Fountain (117 W. Hickory St.), which you can work off with a stroll on the grounds of the picturesque courthouse. Finally, take in a show at Hailey's, Dan's or the basement of J&J's; there's bound to be a good one somewhere. If all else fails, keep your eyes peeled for a kid or two busking on the sidewalk.
Lakewood Texaco
If you're driving on Lower Greenville and notice you're being tailed, head for the corner of Skillman and Live Oak streets, where you'll find the Lakewood Texaco, favored on-duty pit stop of the East Dallas cops. Owners Issa and Lena Boeuri have firmly entrenched their station in the hearts of the local community, in the process creating a virtual Shangri-la for cops--full of doughnuts, coffee, magazines and good conversation. If your night ever goes bad, you'll probably be glad they're there--we might, however, suggest you think twice before purchasing that newly stocked issue of High Times in their presence.
John McCaa is a serious person. He has a master's degree in politics from the University of Dallas (not easy to get) and has been at WFAA since 1984, with a solid history of street reporting behind him. But look, how do you judge news anchoring, as opposed to news news? Let's be honest, McCaa is this year's best anchor because he has the best knitted-brow expression of somber authority and the best end-of-newscast chuckle. That's what you call range in the anchor biz. He also does those voice-over previews at the beginning of the newscast with just the right amount of energy, meaning he doesn't sound bored but doesn't sound like a used-car guy hawking repos either. We don't want to go on too much about the others who didn't make it in this category. Tracy Rowlett at Channel 11 was close, but his pompadour has been a little flat lately. Clarice Tinsley and Jane McGarry--their cute wore off awhile back. Karen Borta--still too cute. We know one thing: Nobody better put us in front of that camera. Don't even try. Did you hear that? We dare you. Try it. Just once.

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