A smoking legacy A while back, Arlington, Texas, dedicated its new $5 million living science facility featuring neat stuff like tile made from recycled auto windshield glass.
But the real crowd pleaser, said the Dallas Morning News, seemed to be an 11-minute film that takes viewers on a video raft ride down the Trinity River, moving through hundreds of years and four seasons. Visitors watch while sitting in a replica raft that simulates motion.
A narrator tells how, over the years, people forgot the river's environmental importance. Scenes in the film show mountains of tires piling up along the shores, killing fish and animals. Creeping closer and closer to the tires, which begin to smoke and burn, the raft suddenly crashes into the pile. As it pushes through the tires, viewers see groups of children picking up trash along the shore.
Sounds like an Oliver Stone conspiracy flick: Burning tires—the principal agents of pollution and doom. Watch for it.
To air is human
An ``entrepreneur'' operating in downtown Tampa, Fla., got caught with his air pressure down, poor guy. And all he was trying to do was follow that sage marketing adage about what's important: location, location, location.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, this chap was working the old ``flat-tire'' hustle in the area—deflate a tire on a parked car, then hit up the owner for a couple of bucks to put the spare on.
A memo from the Tampa Downtown Partnership said this hustler met his Waterloo after being captured on film by newly installed exterior video cameras on Tampa's federal office buildings that have provided police with footage of misdeeds in that area.
The cameras apparently have a bit more range—a three-block zoom—and resolution than the average convenience store model.
``We have pretty good visibility,'' said a security specialist for the General Services Administration, which operates the 24-hour cameras. ``We're trying to be a good neighbor.'' Tell that to the poor flat changer. Geez, sure is tough to make a living nowadays.
Don Garlits wannabe's
The sport on a section of Louisiana highway 1088 northeast of Mandeville is not crawfishing. It's the ``Redneck Nationals''—rubber-burning, engine-roaring, tire-screeching drag races.
Problem is, it's an illegal word-of-mouth event. On a Sunday night last October, cops issued 107 tickets—27 to juveniles.
Zoo be doo be doo
If you're ever passing through the prairie east of Fort Collins, Colo., you may want to check out the fantastic creations of retired dairy farmer Bill Swets, who built his own version of Jurassic Park out of iron and tires.
This heavy-metal artist doesn't advertise his odd 130-character, three-acre zoo—all from the mechanical parts of cars, trucks, tractors and other farm machinery. But word-of-mouth draws about 25,000 visitors a year, and it's open all the time, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
An insomniac, Mr. Swets creates many of the metallic sculptures—an assortment of dinosaurs that never existed and mythical creatures from his imagination—in the middle of the night. ``They're my nightmares,'' he says with a chuckle. ``Many of these were born between 2 and 6 in the morning.''
Although he doesn't charge admission, donations are accepted. Visitors to his gift shop also can pick up a ``Swets-shirt'' that says it all: ``Too Weird for One World.''
Ridin' in style
No doubt about it: the Lexington, S.C., Sheriff's Department has one of the best-lookin' bomb disposal trucks around, thanks to Michelin North America.
A press release from the Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker said the department recently mounted some Michelin truck tires on the bomb—or is it ``boomb,'' as Inspector Clouseau would say?—transport vehicle, which is a reinforced, customized Ford that began life as a dump truck.
Michelin donated the needed tubes for the tires, ``as well as chrome wheel covers to enhance the exterior of the vehicle.''
Everyone knows you gotta look good when transporting a load of explosives.
Prowlin for business
If you're dying to own Chrysler Corp.'s distinctive Plymouth Prowler street rod, but can't afford the real thing, check out the Bird Corp., in Elkhorn, Neb.
The company has been licensed by Chrysler to manufacture in its Omaha, Neb., assembly plant a limited edition—only 2,500—of the 1997 Plymouth Prowler Jr. It's powered by a Briggs 3.5-hp gas engine, with optional 5 hp, electric start and torque converter drive. Bird says this rod will carry an adult at speeds to about 25 mph.
Each Prowler Jr. has a serial number, and is shipped with the owner's name engraved on a brass plate and mounted on the dash. For those of you in second childhood, the '97 model sells for $1,395. Reach Bird at (402) 289-3779.
No word on whether ``junior'' sports run-flat Goodyear-made tires like its daddy does as standard equipment. But there's no mistaking its characteristic color.
This 'n that
A headline in a recent Automotive News read like one of those personal classifieds: ``Breed owners seek partner, talk sale.''
Some new genetic experiment? Naw, a story on Breed Technologies Inc., a Lakeland, Fla., airbag manufacturer looking for a business alliance.
A sight: Continental General Tire Inc. (CGT) execs swiveling their hips and gyrating on stage to the driving beat of the ``Macarena.'' It occurred during CGT's recent international dealer meeting in Puerto Rico. Their version was a lot livelier than the wooden one performed by Al Gore at the Democratic National Convention last summer.
And a sound: CGT President Bernd Frangenberg opening the meeting with a multi-worded greeting, in impeccably fluent Spanish, to all the international dealers on hand. He then repeated it in English: ``Welcome.''
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk