Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hooray for Olliewood: The Laurel and Hardy steps of Los Angeles, California

This photo comes from the swell blog Dear Old Hollywood. Check it out!

It was movie studio head Hal Roach's idea to team up a skinny dimwitted guy with a heavy pompous dope in the 1920s. Little did he know they would become the world's most famous comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy. Probably their most famous movie, a short actually, is "The Music Box", better known as the one with the piano and all the steps. It won the first Oscar given for Live Action Short Film, back in 1932. In it, Stan and Ollie are two nincompoops commissioned to deliver a piano to an address at the top of a very, very, very long outdoor staircase. About a half an hour of slapstick hilarity ensues, with the boys leaving everything in shambles, and I still laugh every time I see it. Laurel and Hardy used a real outdoor location at 923-935 Vendome Street near  Del Monte Street in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles and the steps are still there today and open to the public. It's a lot different today --with houses, trees, shrubs -- compared to the barren look it had back in the thirties. There's a marker and a plaque, and a park nearby named in Stan and Ollie's honor. The steps get visited often, most notably by the Sons of the Desert Laurel and Hardy fan club, but I'm not sure anyone has attempted to carry a piano up to the top. That would be another fine mess, wouldn't it?

(We also visited Harlem, Georgia,Oliver Hardy's birthplace. Check it out here).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Running on empty: Some abandoned gas stations seen along the way

There's something beautiful and melancholy about a once-thriving gas station left to rot among the weeds, like so many bald tires, its pumps forever reflecting the prices of the day they died. That's oil, folks.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A pigment of my imagination? The big paint can of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

There's a giant can of Benjamin Moore paint near Exit 24 along Interstate 81 South in central Pennsylvania that will have the eccentric roadside attraction fan doing a double take (or coat, as the case may be). Seems a storage tank was transformed into a huge can of MoorGlo Soft Gloss to promote a nearby paint store. Trouble is, it's not so easy to access, so you have to snap away through the windshield while it whizzes past, unless you take the time to do it right, like our kindred spirit WendyVee at Roadside Wonders. She got a GREAT shot of it, while mine is more of the catch-it-while-you-can-without-causing-a-20-car-pileup variety. Always nice to see something large and goofy along the open road, especially an over-sized version of something mundane (fortified acrylic housepaint, notwithstanding). I won't whitewash it -- it's truly a brush with greatness and a stroke of genius that leaves us rolling in the aisles. Don't hue agree?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dead of Nite:The Nite Owl diner of Fall River, Massachusetts

There's a cute-as-a-button diner in the working class city of Fall River, Massachusetts that's been sitting unused for an astounding 11 years. Diner aficionados will tell you The Nite Owl, on Pleasant Street, is a custom-built DeRaffle model dating back to 1956. It replaced a smaller Worcester Lunch Car (#786 if you're keeping score) that was on the same property perhaps since 1945 (thanks, Larry Cultrera). There's a photo here of the two side by side (along with a really great article about diner historian Richard Gutman). And the great photo realist painter John Baeder painted the Nite Owl in 1991 (looky here). One pictures some of the clientele over the years...Owl Pacino, Owl Gore, Owl Roker, the Rev.Owl Sharpton, Muhammed Owli, The Who. How sad that this comfy place went out of business, yet encouraging that it hasn't been demolished. Any Quixotic diner fans out there ready to give it a go and take it over? That would be a real hoot.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ironically named medical practice of the week

They're located varicose to the cemetery.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pop culture: Some Coke-related sights seen along the way

 Providence, Rhode Island

 Atlanta, Georgia, birthplace of Coke

 Chattanooga, Tennessee

 Chinatown, San Francisco, California

New London, Connecticut and what, may I ask, constitutes a Coca-Cola emergency?

 Quakertown, Pennsylvania, where apparently they like their fatty roast beef and lettuce on white with a glass of the Real Thing.

A self-deprecating video about the New Coke debacle at the World of Coke, Atlanta Georgia.

 John Pemberton, inventor of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Georgia

 Pop Art, Atlanta, Georgia

 Route 19, West Virginia

Weston, West Virginia

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No more calls, we have a wiener: The Wienermobile makes a stop in Seekonk, Massachusetts

 What's that off in the distance? Could it be...

 It is!

They give out free postcards that you can send to envious loved-ones, and mail right there on the spot, postage paid!

Allow me to be frank: I relish the Wienermobile. Okay, now that we've got the pun formalities out of the way, here's the skinny (sorry, I can't help it): the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile made an appearance in Seekonk, Massachusetts last Saturday as part of its Price Rite grocery store tour through Rhode Island and Massachusetts. It's not every day you see one of the true icons of eccentric mimetic roadside vehicles parked among the Corollas and Accords of suburbia, but there it was, all red and yellow and bulbous, with its gull-wing door wide open inviting all to take a peek at the plush wiener interior. Some of Oscar's dedicated wiener recruits, known as Hotdoggers, were there braving the 20-degree winds to offer photo ops, free whistles and your own copy of the sheet music for both the Wiener Jingle ("Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener") and the Bologna Song ("My bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R"). It's not the first time we've seen the W-M in the, er, flesh (check out this post) but it still boggles and amazes, and is a real crowd pleaser, with its smiling front and chassis reminiscent of the Monkeemobile. Two suggestions for the Oscar Meyer marketers: 1. a dachshund, in a hot dog costume and perhaps named Little Oscar to serve as a canine mascot, because who wouldn't love that, and, 2. an actual wiener-shaped hot dog cart, selling, you know, hot dogs. If you put these ideas in action, I'd take that as a supreme condiment.