Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For sale: T. Rex, good condition, wooly mammoth, needs repair

Wall Street Journal photo

The Wall Street Journal (!) had a story about some eccentric roadside attractions up for sale due to retiring Mom and Pop owners and the changing habits of travelers. Check it out here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Unfortunately-named roadside business of the week: The Bunghole Liquor Store of Salem, Massachusetts

"I'm going down to the Bunghole, honey. You want anything?"

They've got a funny history. Read about it here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A sight for sorcerer's eyes: Salem, Massachusetts' "Bewitched" statue

They've taken Sam to heart in Salem with T-shirts...

...and other tributes around town.

A pretty witch marries a jumpy, mortal adman. They live in either suburban Connecticut or New York state (depending on the episode) where she keeps house and has to hide her true identity from prying neighbors. Her disapproving mother and colorful relatives interfere and make the adman even more jumpy. The mother turns the husband into a frog (or worse) and the witch twitches and her nose turns him back. Hilarity ensues. That just about sums up the 1964-72 TV sitcom "Bewitched," starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha, Dicks York and Sargent as Sam's husband Darren, and Agnes Moorhead as Sam's mother Endora. It came from that glorious 1960s TV era when every sitcom had to have a gimmick: The Munsters were monsters, I Dream of Jeanie was a genie, and Patty Duke had an identical cousin. It also had a breezy theme song and fun animated opening credits. When the TVLand network started erecting statues of characters from their stable of classic sitcoms in different parts of the country, they saw fit to a create a likeness of Samantha sitting on her broom in a moon crescent as she is depicted in the show's opening. But where to put the sorceress sculpture? Salem, Massuchusetts, with its storied, witchy past (and its use as a location on the show a couple of times), seemed like a (super) natural location. After a bit of controversy and protest from some of the townfolk who thought it was insensitive to put a TV sitcom statue on the very sight where 19 innocent people were executed in 1692, the TVLand people smoothed things over and dedicated their magical memorial in 2005. It's charming and enchanting any witch way you look at it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Booming business: North Stonington, Connecticut's "Three-Finger" Eddie's

Except for the "Live free or die" state of New Hampshire, fireworks stores have been a rare commodity in the northeast, so when a defunct gas station was converted into a black powder emporium in southeastern Connecticut on the Rhode Island state line, we had to stop and check it out. Unfortunately, it was a few weeks after the fourth of July and the place had already gone, er, bust, but they still had their sign up and a truck parked out front with their spectacularly tasteless name emblazoned on them. Was this place really called "Three-Finger" Eddie's? Really? Yes, yes it was. This reminded me of the fact that a name alluding to accidents or mental illness seems to be a requirement of most retail explosives outlets. An internet search won't turn up any Harvard Educated Mike's or Better Safe Than Sorry Betty's, but you will find Krazy Kaplan's, Crazy Carl, Crazy Herb's, Dizzy Dean, Wild Bill's, Wild Wilma's, Fireworks Frenzy, Pyromaniac Fireworks, and Angelo's Fireworks and Sno-Cones. For sheer tacky fire-power, though, "Three-Finger" Eddie's still has them beat by a sky-high mile. When a customer pays good cash money for retail pyrotechnics, he wants to know he'll potentially lose a digit or two.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The New York Tines: Rock City, New York's fork in the road

We're very fond of the Yogi Berra quote "When you come to a fork in the road, take it"... so much so that it's up there above the big concrete potato on our masthead. So you can imagine what a thrill it was to see a 31-foot piece of tined cutlery at the grassy intersection of routes 308 and 199 in the little Duchess County, New York hamlet of Rock City, near Rheinbeck, where Chelsea Clinton just got married. Local entrepreneur Stephen Schreiber erected the big utensil out of scrap steel back in 2000 as a fun art project and to bring attention to the town. And bring attention it does, even appearing in a cartoon panel of Ripley's Believe It Or Not! "I did it as a goof," Schreiber told the Poughkeepsie Journal. "I didn't think they would let me leave it there. Nobody has said anything." Kudos to Schreiber for coming up with the funky forky idea and to Rock City for being cool enough to get the joke. May the forks be with you.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hyde Park, New York: Everything's coming up Roosevelt

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The Hyde Park Brewing Company cleverly took a liberty with FDR's cigarette holder by changing it into a spring of grain.

Located on the beautiful Hudson River in southeastern New York State, Hyde Park is a charming little town and most famous for being the lifelong home of President Franklin Roosevelt. He was born at the family estate, Springwood, and he is buried there, along with his wife Eleanor and dog Fala. The FDR home is a National Historic Site and well worth seeing, and the town revels in all its Rooseveltness. All around are signs reminding you that our 32nd president was from here, especially in the form of his famous bespeckled cigarette holder-clenching profile. Smokers aren't celebrated much any more, so it's interesting to see so many FDRs puffing away on aristocratic appliances. Happy days are here again.