Archive for culture

Apr
17

Mustang, Untamed

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Our daughter just turned 21. And, parked in front of our house as I write this, is the car in which we drove her home.

I remember strapping her tiny, 4-lb. body into her car seat and securing her in the Mustang’s back seat that day in June, 1993 in front of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. She was born two months premature, and thus weighed just 2-lb, 14-oz. when she was born via emergency C-section.

The Mustang was purchased in September, 1992, just before my bride and I were betrothed. Little did we know that some 21-plus years and 115,000 miles later, we’d still own the car.

But that’s OK. It’s been a good car. How could it not be, if it’s old enough to legally drink alcohol?

It’s starting to come apart at the seams now, which is to be expected. Rust is spreading like cancer.

But the Mustang still runs and it gets me front Point A to Point B. We just make sure that the distance between those two points isn’t too far. We have a 2003 Mercury Sable for that.

The Mustang almost bit the dust some two years ago. It’s a two-door, which means the doors are very heavy and put great strain on the hinging mechanism. It got to a point where you would have to do a lift-and-yank maneuver and then slam in order to properly close the driver’s side door.

One day in 2012, I slammed the door shut after getting gas and the driver’s side window shattered from the impact. It scared the bejeebers out of me.

So I took it to the collision shop and the proprietor delivered bad news. He could fix the door but it would be a job of monumental labor, because of where things were located and the work it would take to get to said things.

He suggested that I put the Mustang to sleep, due to inordinate repair cost.

Well, this was the Mustang. You don’t just put a Mustang to sleep without getting a second opinion.

Collision shop #2 had a brighter outlook. Second opinions are good because you can always play the doom and gloom of the first opinion against the second. Often, the second opinion person likes to play the hero. And, stealing business away from a competitor is never a bad thing.

So second opinion guy said he would give it a whirl, and for a reasonable price.

Over two years later, the repaired door is still working. The Mustang was saved from euthanasia.

I still get compliments and inquiries about the Mustang. Usually it’s at a gas station. Another customer will ask me if I am interested in selling.

Mustangs have a mystique.

Some seven or eight years ago, on a Saturday night, I drove the family to Royal Oak, ostensibly to get some food at our favorite Thai restaurant, Siam Spicy. We took the Mustang.

It was evident as we got closer to the city that something was going on. Traffic was very heavy. By the time we got to Woodward Avenue, it was all too apparent what I had done.

I had driven us right into the Woodward Dream Cruise!

I had no choice but to turn north onto Woodward. The bystanders and lookers-on assumed we were part of the Cruise, tooling around as we were in a Mustang.

They urged us to beep the horn and shouted words of encouragement from their lawn chairs, tipping their beer cans in honor of the great American Mustang.

I tried to tell them that I was just trying to grab some dinner with the family. Nobody heard me.

And, Siam Spicy was closed that night. So the trip was all for naught.

But the Mustang got one of its last moments of glory.

It’s seen its days in various mechanic shops over the years. It has had brake jobs, new starters installed, new exhaust systems and sundry other work. It’s been the Joan Rivers of cars.

But it still turns on when I stick the key in the ignition. And it still is the car we drove our daughter home in, and you can’t put a price on that.

You probably couldn’t sell it now, but it never was for sale anyway.

Long live our ‘Stang!

Categories : cars, culture, Enotes
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Apr
11

Utash: We Can Only Hope

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Sometimes the 24-hour news cycle gets extended.

Sometimes it’s a 48-hour or 72-hour news cycle. And, on occasion, a story manages to stay in the public’s consciousness for a week or more.

News stories anymore are like pieces of pasta thrown against the wall. Only some stick.

The Stephen Utash beating has beat the 24-hour news cycle, by far. Now the question is, Will it matter?

The Utash story is right out of a novel or a made-for-TV movie.

White suburbanite hits a young black boy with his pickup truck, in the city. The suburbanite stops to check on the condition of the boy and is then beaten senseless, perhaps to death (that’s a part of the story that has yet to be resolved), by a mob of black men.

It’s a story that almost had to happen, to provide the most recent litmus test of where we are as a society, particularly when it comes to violence and race relations.

The elements are all there, and if they weren’t, the story wouldn’t work as well. It would be a flawed test.

The driver was white, the hit boy was black. That’s the only way this can work. Any other combo would either not tell us anything we don’t already suspect, or it would be less newsworthy.

The white man is beaten by a mob of black men. Again, reverse it, and it’s just another example of what so many people already suspect, and what so many other people vigorously try to defend.

The person who intervened and got the mob to stop beating the white man was a black female nurse. Author, author!

The white man lies in a medically-induced coma as the suspects are rounded up. Score another for the fiction writer.

Oh, and whites and blacks come together in churches around town and try to pray the violence away. Money is being raised for the white man’s medical bills. Not bad, not bad at all.

And Detroiters did it all by themselves. They didn’t need anyone to zoom into town to rally the troops.

The author did a bang up job on this one.

Ah, but it’s all true.


Steve Utash

The Utash beating has a shot—an actual, legitimate shot—at bringing white and black folks together in an effort to take a collective look in the proverbial mirror.

Thankfully, the words “vigilante justice” have been rinsed off this story, revealing it to be what it really is—senseless, animal-like violence that wasn’t advocating for anyone or anything, other than an opportunity to take something out on a poor man. A chance to get your licks in, for whatever reason.

Unlike others, though, I’m not convinced that the mob saw a white man and decided to go to town. Maybe we will never know for sure. Maybe the five (so far) suspects that have been arrested—four have been arraigned—will start chirping, even against each other. Maybe a motive will trickle out.

Maybe had the driver been black, he would have been beaten, too—once identified as the man who hit the boy. Again, we may never know. But we may, eventually.

The fact that no one in the beating mob—according to witnesses’ recounting of the incident—appeared to show any concern for the boy’s physical condition before they started whaling on Utash, is the most damning piece of this horrible crime.

And that’s why the vigilante label doesn’t fit and has been ripped off, rightly so.

You can’t have vigilante justice if you don’t know what the heck you’re justifying.

The facts, of course, weren’t all in when the mob sprang into action. They didn’t know—or didn’t care—that the child stepped off the curb into oncoming traffic. The boy was 10 years old—certainly old enough to know not to step into the street without looking both ways.

But that’s another discussion entirely.

It’s terrible, but often it takes something terrible to finally drum something into people’s heads.

We can only hope that Steve Utash—and let’s hope he survives and regains his wits—evolves into a turning point of sorts. He will not only be a man but a landmark.

Then again, the beating of Vincent Chin didn’t necessarily change anything.

But that’s the thing about hope. You’re willing to throw the history books out the window and say, “Maybe THIS time.”

Maybe this time.

Categories : crime, culture, Enotes, society
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Jan
03

New Year’s Revolutions

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Happy New Year. Or happy new year, however you choose to look at it.

As I watched the big ball drop on Tuesday night in Times Square, I jokingly asked my daughter what life would be like if we did that for the change of every month instead of year.

“Three…two….one….HAPPY APRIL!”

Seems silly, of course.

But so does, when you think about it, going through all the expense and effort to mark the start of a new year. Or New Year.

It’s perhaps too cynical—even for me—to say that January 1 is “just another day,” but it truly is. It is different, however, in one respect: It’s the one day when no one has ditched their new year’s (or New Year’s) resolutions—yet.

Ahh, about those resolutions.

There’s a funny commercial playing on TV right now where a small boy calls it the New Year’s “revolutions.”

I kind of like that.

You do have to revolt, in a way, if you’re going to commit to doing something different from how you’ve been doing it, which is essentially what a resolution is.

The revolt is internal. A civil war going on inside your body and brain.

The little dudes inside your head have to declare that there is a revolution, and then they have to start symbolically dumping tea into the harbor, i.e. those bad ways you are trying to get rid of.

A new year’s revolution.

I don’t do resolutions—or revolutions—per se. I make mental notes to change and then hope for the best.

Not working out too good for me, but there you go.

I don’t do anything involving weight. I’d like to drop a few pounds, like anyone else. But I don’t do any numbers crunching or obsess with the scale in the basement. Notice I said basement.

I don’t resolve to change my eating habits, which goes along with the above. My wife is Italian and Polish. I get what I get, and I scarf it down happily. If I lose weight because of diet, it’s akin to finding a dollar bill in the laundry.

I don’t make any commitments professionally. I don’t set out to write X-number of blog posts or set any goals at work. That may sound lazy and uninspired and displays a shocking lack of motivation, but I figure, why set myself up for failure?

In short, my revolutions internally are weak and quickly squashed. I’m the Bay of Pigs of self-improvement.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a success and that I don’t care about my body or that I have indifferent feelings toward my fellow man.

It just means that when all is said and done, the status quo is OK. I’ll continue to help out my wife around the house, put in my 40 hours at work and be as good of a dad as I can be. I’ll say my prayers at night and make it a point to perform a random act of kindness now and again.

Wherever that leads me, so be it.

Happy N(n)ew Y(y)ear!

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Jan
03

Location, Location, Location

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Well, that didn’t take long.

The year 2013, the year of the next Detroit mayoral election, was hours old when the first salvo was fired by a candidate at another, and—surprise—it had the tinges of race baiting to it.

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, by all indications a pretty smart guy, said something un-smart that was clearly aimed at presumed candidate Mike Duggan.

Napoleon told a reporter that Palmer Woods, one of the city’s jewels when it comes to neighborhoods, wasn’t really a part of Detroit.

Come again?

Palmer Woods is where Duggan has recently taken up residence as he presumably prepares for a run at Dave Bing’s job—whether Bing runs for re-election or not. Duggan, as we all know, is white.

The day after saying flat out that Palmer Woods is not Detroit, Napoleon backpedaled.

“Palmer Woods is not Detroit? Nothing is further from the truth,” Napoleon wrote on Facebook. “It is one of our prized neighborhoods. However, the Palmer Woods experience is far different from that of the average Detroiter’s neighborhood experience. Most Detroiters, including those in Palmer Woods, understand that without clarification. But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”

Nicely played. For now.

It didn’t figure to take long before Duggan, aiming to become Detroit’s first white mayor since Roman Gribbs left office on December 31, 1973, was taken a shot at by the (so far) rather small field of fellow candidates. And it wasn’t surprising that the shot taken focused on Duggan’s choice of residence.

Duggan lived for years in Livonia, which is as white as salt, for the most part. He moved to Palmer Woods last year.

Wayne County Sheriff and Detroit mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon
Napoleon recovered nicely, for the most part, from his gaffe. But it still displayed, within him, the old refrain.

You’re not a Detroiter unless your trash doesn’t get picked up. You’re not a Detroiter unless your street lights are out for months. You’re not a Detroiter unless you live among abandoned homes and crack houses. You’re not a Detroiter unless you are out of work and are bereft of hope.

Is that how we want the next mayor to look at things?

We’d rather have him (or her) look at the city the way Napoleon did in his backpedaling statement on Facebook.

To wit: “But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”

Too bad that’s not what Benny Napoleon said the first time around. Then again, political candidates often need two tries to get it right. At least.

Categories : culture, Enotes, Politics
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Nov
29

Holy Bidding, Batman!!

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It was one of the coolest things I ever saw on television, and I was just a wee lad of four years old.

Oh, how I loved to watch the Batmobile in the Adam West-ravaged, 1960s TV series, “Batman,” leave the Bat Cave.

First, there was the firing of the ignition, which always included the stock shot of flames shooting from the Batmobile’s exhaust. That was cool, too.

But there was something about the black, souped-up 1955 Lincoln Futura zooming from the cave that captivated me.

That’s because there was this small guard rail that would flip down, enabling the Batmobile to pass through. THAT was the coolest thing.

Some things just grab us and don’t let go, particularly from our youth.

There was something about that guard rail flipping down that I thought was just so awesome in its simple auspiciousness.

That image comes to mind as I read that the Batmobile is going up for auction. It’ll happen on January 19, 2013, at the Barrett-Jackson auction house in Scottsdale, AZ.

The Batmobile is a 19-foot long, black work of art—maybe the coolest vehicle ever, something that Henry Ford could never have conceived in his wildest imagination.

So how much will it fetch in auction?

No one is saying, which is appropriate, because mystery has always been such a large part of the Batman character, from the comic books to the “Dark Knight” movies.

George Barris and his original Batmobile creation


The original Batmobile (there have been some replicas) was created by George Barris, a Los Angeles-based car customizer. I don’t know if Barris was given a blueprint, a clay model, or was just left to his own devices, but regardless, he created a masterpiece. The machine (it seems too small to call it a car) has been kept in marvelous condition over the years.

There was so much for a small boy to love about the Batmobile. The flaming exhaust, the bubble top, the siren, the wings, etc., all captivated. And, come on—it was 19 feet long!

Thanks to YouTube, here’s a 29-second clip of the boys racing to the Batmobile and leaving the cave. Watch for the guard rail flipping down just before the machine hits the highway!

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Oct
31

Extortion for Fun

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I was never a Halloween guy, as a kid. I could take it or leave it as a youngster. Too much effort, I suppose.

I never knew what I was going to dress up like, or even if I was going to go door-to-door at all, until sometimes hours before sundown on October 31.

One year, I recall, I was particularly tardy with my decision. I was planning on staying in, passing out candy, when I got a phone call from a friend. It was dusk, at the very least, when the phone rang in our Livonia home.

“You going baggin’?” was the question. It was my friend, Bob Bernard, who lived a couple blocks away and who I never had gone Trick or Treating with prior to that year. I still don’t know what prompted the call. It wasn’t that Bob and I weren’t friends; we just weren’t very close. Certainly not “baggin’” close. Or so I thought.

I initially rebuffed his request, but he pressed me.

“I don’t have a costume,” I pleaded. It fell on deaf ears.

I hung up, scrambling. What to be? WHO to be?

I don’t where it came from, but I asked my mom if she had a nylon stocking that she didn’t care much for.

Voila! I went as a bank robber, the stocking pulled over my face. I think I had a toy gun. Not sure. Regardless, I had a “costume.” I was ready to go baggin’. Bob’s term.

A pillow case served as my “bag.” Out we went into the Halloween night, soliciting for candy door-to-door.

Halloween—the only holiday based on extortion.

Trick or treat!

Give us candy, or something bad will happen to you or your home. Or maybe even your loved ones. Who knows.

It’s a holiday built around candy used as protection money. Just cough up the goodies and we’ll make sure nothing untoward occurs.

But as an adult—more specifically, as a father—I came to enjoy Halloween more. The decorations got more sophisticated and fun to look at, number one. One of our family traditions has been to drive around neighborhoods, admiring Christmas displays. Now, you can pretty much do the same with Halloween.

Then there are the cute little kids, made even cuter when stuffed into bumble bee or pumpkin outfits. I can’t wait to see who comes to our door next.

Our daughter has always been a big Halloween person, starting from when she was two years old and won a  costume contest at a campground in Canada. She was dressed as a pumpkin, of course. Every year she has dressed in something different and never without creativity. In recent years she’s been Captain Jack Sparrow, The Joker, and Harley Quinn.

As usual, even at age 19, she plans on dressing up. She doesn’t go “baggin’” anymore, but she’s taken over the candy passing out duties at home. Tonight it will be friends coming over for pizza and to watch scary movies.

My wife and I will be safely ensconced in our bedroom, dressed as ourselves and eating pizza while the kids take over the front room, passing out the candy.

Yes sir, I’m liking this Halloween thing more, the older I get.

 

Categories : culture, Enotes, holidays
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Oct
24

On the Record

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There’s an episode in one of my favorite TV comedy series of all time, Everybody Loves Raymond, where Ray Barone’s dad, Frank, chastises his son for ruining (accidentally) dad’s jazz album collection when Raymond was a youngster. Seems Ray moved the albums to make room for his new Hot Wheels car track, received for Christmas. Unfortunately, Raymond moved the albums next to the furnace. You can imagine what happened to them.

So Ray tries to make up for the lost music by replacing as many of the albums as he can, with CD versions. He professes to have visited a bunch of independent music stores in his effort to replace the albums.

Frank is skeptical of the discs and won’t even listen to them, which frustrates Raymond. Finally, Raymond basically forces his dad to listen to the discs by having them in a portable CD player, ready to go, when his parents return from a shopping trip. They enter the home, Raymond hits the remote button, and the jazz fills the house, loudly.

But still Frank isn’t happy. Raymond tries to convince his father of the discs’ grandeur by declaring that it’s like the band was right there, in the living room, thanks to the crystal clarity of the sound.

Still no sale. Frank gets belligerent (nothing out of character for him) and orders the music turned off. Raymond is incredulous; how can his dad NOT enjoy these discs?

The answer arrives a few minutes later, when Raymond’s brother Robert and his fiancee Amy arrive with some of the actual albums, purchased at a used music store. They are not CDs but vinyl, 33-1/3 RPM platters of jazz.

The album is played on the phonograph, with all of its crackling and hissing, and Frank is in heaven.

“Now THAT’S music!” he declares as the songs pop.

I know where he’s coming from.

CD technology is wonderful; digital is always best, in terms of cleanliness in sound. But I get what Frank Barone is enjoying—the music in its original form; static and crackle and hiss and all.

I started to collect 45s when I was as young as a pre-schooler. Actually, my mom would buy me the records, based on my likes. The Monkees were high on my list back then. The 45 collection grew as I became old enough to pick them out on my own at K-Mart, which sold them for 96 cents, in their plain white sleeves on hooks behind the cashier in the music department.

My first record player was plastic and the “stylus” was a clunky needle that was bigger than a pencil lead.

This record player is very similar to my first one, circa the late-1960s





In 1977 my parents bought me a brand new stereo system, and the phonograph was much more sophisticated and the stylus was diamond. Plus, you could stack the records/albums, and play hours of uninterrupted music.

The cracking and hissing was part of the deal. So was the occasional skip or crack that would cause the same four notes to play over and over until you moved the stylus.

I don’t know; there was something magical about turning on the record player and lowering the needle/stylus onto the vinyl platter and hearing that first crackle and hiss, moments before the song began.

You don’t get that with CDs. I’m not so sure that’s progress.

I know Frank Barone would agree with me.

 

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Oct
10

Clara, Meet Big Bird

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Clara Peller was a retired manicurist who found fame after the age of 80, in early 1984, when she barked out three words that became a national catch phrase. Then the phenomenon dovetailed into the 1984 presidential campaign, and Clara enjoyed a new wave of popularity.

You never know who will be plucked from obscurity or the recesses of our consciousness when it’s an election year.

In 1984 it was Peller, who famously and angrily asked, “Where’s the beef?’ in a Wendy’s commercial mocking competitors who rely on big buns and not-so-big hamburger patties.

It didn’t take long before we were all saying, “Where’s the beef?” in a variety of situations. It started on TV, of course, and then filtered its way to the water coolers and barber shops.

The commercial hit the airwaves in January, 1984 and a few months later it got a second jolt of awareness when, in the Democratic presidential primaries, Walter Mondale used the catch phrase as a way of attacking rival Gary Hart’s economic plan. Mondale didn’t feel that Hart was offering much in the way of details.

Sound familiar?

Wendy’s campaign with Peller didn’t just create a catch phrase; sales jumped 31% in the year after “Where’s the Beef?” first aired.

According to Wikipedia, Wendy’s senior vice president for communications, Denny Lynch, stated at the time that “with Clara we accomplished as much in five weeks as we did in 14½ years.”

Lyndon Johnson had his scare tactic ad against Barry Goldwater in 1964, juxtaposing a little girl pulling petals off a flower with the images of a countdown to a nuclear attack. Ronald Reagan had his “It’s Morning in America” campaign. Michael Dukakis battled the spectre of furloughed felon Willie Horton, who committed rape while on release in Massachusetts.

All those, plus Clara Peller and more, became iconic in their respective presidential campaigns.

Clara Peller, wondering where the beef is (1984)

Add Big Bird to the list.

It’s becoming apparent that the tall, gangly character from Sesame Street is going to be 2012′s pop culture icon thrust into presidential politics.

It’s been just one week since Mitt Romney brought Big Bird into the discussion, when he targeted in his debate with President Obama, PBS as a potential victim of a President Romney administration’s efforts to pay for his tax plan.

In this day and age, a week may as well be six months. For it only took a few days for Big Bird to enjoy a spate of popularity he hasn’t experienced in maybe decades, if at all.

Heck, it hasn’t been since 1976, when Mark “The Bird” Fidrych enthralled America pitching for the Tigers, that Big Bird has been mentioned this much in mainstream media.

Big Bird is doing the circuit now. “Saturday Night Live” came calling, and the Bird is making appearances here and there.

The president these days is quick to mention Big Bird in mocking Romney’s tax plan and how it is to be paid for.

Clara Peller died in August 1987, aged 85 and her 15 minutes of fame drained from the clock. She did make some other commercials for products like Prego spaghetti sauce, but nothing close in popularity to the “Where’s the Beef?” campaign.

Fortunately, Big Bird is immortal. Although after a few more weeks of the tall, yellow, feathered creature being shoved in our face, maybe that won’t seem like such a good thing.

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Sep
26

I’m Two Dads Now

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The other day, I officially became my father.

It’s inevitable, they say. One day you’ll become your parents.

Pop culture is usually the killer.

My induction into the Crotchety Old Man Hall of Fame occurred a couple of nights ago.

I was in the kitchen and on the TV in the front room was a video of a performer having a tantrum on stage. I couldn’t see the video; I could only hear the audio.

“I’m not Justin Bieber!” the male voice screamed, followed by some bleeped out expletives.

“Who’s that?” I called out, because the audio clip was rather shocking.

Our 19-year-old daughter answered with what I thought was “Billy Joel.”

Now, knowing Joel’s occasional drinking and drug foibles, and his notorious temper, I thought that made sense. Joel’s melted down in the past—on stage and off.

“Billy Joel? Really?” I replied, a little knowing chuckle in my voice.

“BILLIE JOE, dad!”

Now I was confuzzled.

“Billy Joe? Who’s that?”

I could literally hear her eyes rolling.

“BILLIE JOE, dad! From Green Day.”

“I don’t know who that is?”

Heavy sigh, followed by, “You’ve never heard of Green Day?”

“I’ve heard of them, yes (barely), but I don’t know the names of the people in Green Day!”

She groaned. “Oh God, Dad.”

Apparently I should know who this is (psst—it’s Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day)


 That capped a day in which when I got into the car, her radio station was on—95.5 FM.

“All this music sounds the same to me,” I told my wife, sincerely. The songs that played all did sound the same to me.

So you combine that comment with the “I thought you said Billy JOEL and who’s Billy JOE?” thing, and I have become my dad.

My father didn’t appreciate all of my kind of music, either, though we did intersect in our like for certain 1970s recording artists like Three Dog Night and Dave Mason.

That’s OK. I loved my dad to pieces, may he rest in peace. I don’t really mind becoming him.

Besides, our daughter’s lucky that I didn’t think she said Green BAY.

Now that’s more up my alley.

Oh, and I got her in the end. Referencing Joe’s meltdown, in which he demolished his guitar on stage, Nicole wondered aloud if I had ever seen that.

“Yeah—Pete Townshend of The Who used to do that regularly.”

She didn’t know who that was.

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Jun
05

Signs of the Times

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Ever wonder what happened to Winkelman’s? Jacobson’s? Uniroyal?

What about Farmer Jack? Great Scott? A&P?

Stroh’s? Twin Pines? Pants Galore?

Fretter Appliance? Belvedere and Bond-Bilt? New York Carpet World?

Highland Appliance? Sanders? Kresge?

Cunningham’s? Red Barn? Burger Chef?

To name a few.

And that’s just a percentage of the businesses, mostly local, that no longer exist but which I remember in my days growing up in Livonia in the 1970s.

I remember the commercials for many of the aforementioned as well.

Ollie Fretter promised us a five pound bag of coffee if he couldn’t beat our best deal. Mr. Belvedere’s phone number was TYler 8-7100.

TV newscaster Marilyn Turner did commercials for Carpet Center, flashing her gams. The Highland Appliance spots were legendary, often featuring local (and sometimes national) celebrities.

Irving Nussbaum proudly said that New York Carpet World was “the better carpet people.”

Mel Farr flew through the sky with a cape, promising a “Farr better deal.”

Remember listening to the radio and suddenly it was “Farmer Jack savings time”?

The Twin Pines man, I have written about before. I can still see the bright green trucks.

There was a Kresge in Universal Mall in Warren, back when it wasn’t unusual to find drugstores and “five and dimes” in malls.

I also fondly recall the outdoor signs of the retailers and restaurants back in the day.

One word comes to mind—two, actually: BIG and garish. And they often rotated on an axis.

Think about the Arby’s signs of the day: the HUGE 10 gallon hat with ARBY’S ROAST BEEF SANDWICH IS DELICIOUS spelled on it.

Now THAT’S a sign!
Little Caesars had its namesake rotating above the pizzeria, a pie impaled on his spear.

Kentucky Fried Chicken joints had the big, rotating buckets. Union 76 gas stations had that round, orange ball with 76 on it, twice. It rotated, too.

If they weren’t rotating or spinning, the signs were lit like the Vegas Strip.

The ’60s and ’70s signs were big on lightning bolt-like arrows and anything that flashed or changed colors intermittently.

I swear the signs of those times must have weighed several tons.

Look at a Holiday Inn sign now and then compare it to those of 35-40 years ago. The older versions were, again, big and garish with the script “Holiday Inn” brightly lit with sparkling lights.

There was nothing compact about those days.

Today, as those companies have long ago withered away, we’re mostly stuck with “big box retailers” and franchises that I don’t really trust.

And their commercials stink. And their signs are too small. And they don’t light up right.

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