Friday, September 26, 2014

Nude kid on the block: The naked man carpet store of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

If you're going to emulate someone, you could do a lot worse than the great Burt Reynolds, you know.

Eccentric Roadside recently moved from its home base in Rhode Island to Bradenton, Florida, and then a couple of months later to southeastern Florida and I think I speak for the blog when I say, boy are we tired of moving. We're slowly getting acquainted with our new region, called South Florida by the natives, and the eccentric roadside wonders it has to offer. Case in point: Don Bailey Flooring, a chain of carpet and flooring stores from Miami to Deerfield Beach. What's so eccentric about a flooring store, you ask? Well, the sign, for one. It depicts its namesake, Mr. Bailey, posed ala 1972 Cosmopolitan magazine centerfold Burt Reynolds. As a non-native driving past their Fort Lauderdale emporium, I really had to do a double take. Now there's something you don't see everyday, I says to myself. Turns out Mr. Bailey went into the flooring store business the same year the Cosmo centerfold was published and his borrowing of the idea for his corporate identity turned his business around and made him a controversial local celebrity. Burt's people saw it and complained that Bailey had taken his head and put it on Burt's body, which Bailey disputed. In 1988, the city commissioner in nearby Miramar tried to get Don to cover up and remove his signs and billboards, but she stopped complaining when Don donated the carpet for Miramar's youth center. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the sign in 2012, Don, then 78, posed again in his Speedo, looking, well...we all get old, you know (check out a video here). But good for him for seizing the day, or, bare with me here, carpet diem.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sven ball in the side pocket: The Viking-themed billiard mural of Riverhead, New York

If you look at a map, the eastern end of Long Island, New York looks like a fish tail, with beautiful Orient Point on the northeastern tip and tony Montauk on the southeastern tip. In between the two by land lies the working class town of Riverhead, with its cool, revitalized old downtown and hardscrabble outer regions. We recently delighted upon an eccentric sight next door to our humble motor lodgings: a mural combining the unlikely duo of Vikings and billiards, painted on the back exterior wall of Billiard World, a pool table sales and service company. It is executed with wit and craft, depicting Norsemen with pool cues and darts, and a mermaid or two also thrown in for good measure. Why this unlikely combination? Could the owners be of Scandinavian heritage? Vem vet? (That's "who knows?" to you non-Swedish speakers). We just know that, as with ABBA, Ingmar Bergman movies and Volvos, it's Scandanavian, we like it and we don't know why.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Unfortunately named business of the week

I suppose this is where you go to be fitted for the clothes you'll be buried in.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

As Fargo the eye can see: the great water tower of Fargo, North Dakota

 I ramped up the color contrast...cue the dramatic music.

 I never met a water tower I didn't like, but this one takes the cake.

I love looking at water towers on a cross-country trip. Their grand scale and proud proclamation of each hamlet's names break up the monotony of traveling through places where there isn't all that much to look at. One of my all-time favorites is this beauty from Fargo, North Dakota. The very name Fargo gives you the sense of being somewhere you wouldn't normally expect to be (unless, of course, you live here). And the fact that the eccentric Coen brothers made a famous movie with this same name adds to the je ne sais quoi. We hit it under perfect conditions: dark clouds in one direction, bright sun over the shoulder illuminating the white huge bulbous monolith and gray Times Bold lettering. Thanks, Fargo, for such an awesome water tower, so Fargo from the maddening crowd.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

West stop ahead: Scenes from Durango, Colorado

We had the pleasure of staying the night in the southwestern Colorado town of Durango a few years ago on one of our long, cross-country treks and were delightfully surprised at what a cool place it is. As is the case with many of our trips, we wished we had budgeted more time to see this awesome city, with its authentic old west feel and retro vibe. Much of it looks as it would have a hundred years ago to this untrained eye, and a grizzled Walter Brennan riding down the main drag saying the word "pie-annie" instead of "piano" would not have been out of place. There are lots of amusing signs and great storefront windows to peek into. All of our usual budget motel suspects were booked the night we pulled in, so we ended up staying at the General Palmer Inn, a fabulous downtown old west hotel from 1898...the kind of place you picture Wyatt Earp frequenting. We salute you're the rootin'-tootin'-est, six-gun shootin'-est, cowboy bootinest town this side of the Rio Grande (and I don't mean Mahatma Gandhi).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I'll meet you on the corner: Four Corners USA

 One man, four states.

 That's Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, bub

 Photo ops abound...

And don't forget to visit the snack bar

There's only one place in all of the USA where you can be in four states at the same time (U.S. states, that is, not states of confusion, shock, grace or decay). That would be what's known as Four Corners USA in the upper southwest, where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona gather at one quadripoint. You'd think such a cartographic wonder would be in a hugely populated area, but au contraire. It's way, way out in desolate semi-autonomous Native American land, and you have to really be up for an eccentric roadside outing to get there. It doesn't disappoint, though, and it's set up nicely, with benches, plaques, concrete markers, flags...the whole shooting match. And if you sit, kneel, or squat just right, you really can be in four places at the same time -- kind of like a geographic version of Twister: right hand Utah, left foot Colorado. There are booths surrounding the intersection where Native Americans sell their wares to help you remember this momentous occasion, along with all the awesome photo ops to make your friends and relatives back home jealous. And we love this delicious irony: this truly American landmark site is administered by the Navajo Nation Department of Parks and Recreation. But you don't need reservations.