October 8, 2011

A random street in Baird

I went through Baird, Texas, primarily because the tiny town was the county seat, and, therefore, has a county courthouse. The 1929, Classical Revival building wasn't all that unique, but the sky was a deep blue, and the clouds were white and billowy. So I think the pictures came out really well, despite the plainness of the courthouse.

callahan county courthouse

But on a complete whim, I took a slight deviation from my planned route and made a sudden, left-hand turn onto what turned out to be Baird's main street. I was rewarded handsomely almost immediately with this stunning, repainted Bull Durham ad. These are usually "ghosts" when I find them.

repainted bull durham and coca-cola ads in baird
repainted bull durham ad
repainted bull durham ad

The repainted Coca-Cola sign must be from 1923-1925, as variations of the "Refresh Yourself" slogan were being used during those years.

repainted coca-cola ad in baird

A ghostly Dr. Pepper sign.
ghostly dr. pepper sign in baird

At the end of the street was the reason for all of the ads, the 1911 circa Texas Pacific Railroad Depot.
down the street from texas pacific railroad depot
texas pacific railroad depot

August 27, 2011

August 20, 2011

Big Spring (or is it "Big Sprang"?)*

*I prefer the twangy version.

west texas' finest theatre ghost sign
This is a ghost sign on the back of the Ritz Theatre in Big Spring. It says: "West Texas' Finest Theatre."

August 15, 2011

"I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me"

Tom Neal and Ann Savage

First appearing during a 1925 Broadway show, the Jimmy McHugh song "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me" was featured prominently in the 1945 film noir classic Detour. Being such an integral part of the plot and soundtrack, I thought perhaps it had been introduced in the film. I was wrong.

August 9, 2011

"P.S. I Love You" (Mad Men moment #4)

I far prefer Frank Sinatra's version of the Gordon Jenkins (notes)/Johnny Mercer (words) classic, as recorded for his relatively obscure (but great) Close to You album. But Bobby Vinton did a really heart-felt, plaintive take on it.

August 8, 2011

"A Short History of America"

I just re-watched the documentary Crumb about artist Robert Crumb for the first time in about seventeen years. It has this great segment depicting his brilliant "A Short History of America" panels:

Real sugar in Sweetwater

I was going to make a diabetes joke, but opted for a milder post title...

palomino motel neon sign

August 4, 2011

Abilene, Abilene - prettiest town I've ever seen

Today's history lesson, chitlins, is about Abilene, Texas. Now, first I must admit that every single time I saw the word Abilene, whether it was on a city limits sign or anywhere else, I was compelled forced to loudly belt out George Hamilton IV's 1963 single "Abilene" with a desperate, whimpering cry in my voice. After having been there, I could see why someone would write a song about Abilene, Abilene....

July 21, 2011

Mad Men moment #3

In the fifth episode of the third season of Mad Men, "The Fog," Betty Draper gives birth to the Draper's third child. She is also dealing with the death of her father, which occurred in the previous episode. While in the hospital, Betty has a drug-induced delivery room hallucination, in which, among other things, she converses with her deceased parent.

July 12, 2011

5 Least Favorite Beatle Songs

I just recently purchased a new copy of Nicholas Schaffner's excellent, out-of-print, The Beatles Forever. Back in 1981 when I first came across it, the book was (for all practical purposes) my introduction to The Beatles. I read every word and studied every one of the hundreds of photos included, several times. Looking at it today brings back a lot of memories. And because it came out in 1978, the book ends on a positive note.

July 8, 2011

King Cole Trio's "Route 66"

To commemorate a year since my Route 66 road trip of a year ago (and ponder the possibility of a return to uncharted portions), Nat "King" Cole (and Trio) would like to play their version of Bobby Troup's musical tribute to the Mother Road. This is from around 1946:

July 7, 2011

I sort of gorged myself on Cuero...

intersection of north esplanade and east church streets, cuero
...and for that, I must apologize, because there's a whole lot of great stuff(!) I got for the hour and a half or so I was there. If you are one of those EBiN readers who thinks "meh" or "wtf?" whenever you see the latest post is one of those 100-year-old-houses-ghost-signs-and-vintage-neon-signs-kind-of-posts, you may want to move along. Sorry, there's nothing to see here this go around. The rest of you should prepare to receive a face full of Cuero.

July 5, 2011

Playing The Little Sparrow

Forget about Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash or Kurt Russell as Elvis. Never you mind Sissy Spaceck as Loretta Lynn or even Diana Ross as Billie Holiday. Disregard Val Kilmer's complete and utter embodiment of Jim Morrison. Stand there, pointing, laughing hysterically at George Hamilton as Hank Williams. No no, put all which has come before well out of your head, for there is a new master of the art of portraying on film a person who has actually at some point existed. And that person's name is Master Mistress Marion Cotillard.

July 2, 2011

"Seems Like Old Times"

As I am driving around the beautifully, authentically reproduced Los Angeles circa 1947 of L.A. Noire, my current favorite tune to come on the radio is Vaughn Monroe and Orchestra's "Seems Like Old Times." It's swingin', yet melancholy (and slightly ominous), and fits perfectly with the overall tone and story of the game:

June 28, 2011

Shrine de Gardner

Much thanks to Ed for doing a very cool thing by directing me to his local paper's write-up on the Ava Gardner Museum, located in Smithfield, North Carolina (the starlet's hometown).

June 26, 2011

"Two of the Lucky Ones"

Played primarily during the end credits of Zombieland, I thought this might be some mid-70s rock/country music or Eric Clapton I hadn't yet heard or something. I was wrong. It's The Droge & Summers Blend. Duh.

The Droge & Summers Blend

June 22, 2011

A ton of fun in Houston

admiral hotel and sign
The main carrot on the stick for me on this time traveling expedition primarily deep, deep into the farthest reaches of southern Houston was the neon sign pictured above. In a really good way, it was my Kurtz, if you will. Will you? I really couldn't tell whether or not the charming little motel was still open, but it looked like it was in good shape and possibly motor court style lodging at one time or another. Maybe now!

June 20, 2011

Rogue Wave does "Everyday"

I really like this re-working, re-imagining of Buddy Holly's song "Everyday." Talk about a cover version. It's practically a different song, but yet not. A bit jarring at first to fans of the original, Rogue Wave's redesign is pretty flippin' cool. I bet even ol' Buddy Holly himself would approve. It's on the soundtrack to a 2005 videogame I've never heard of, and I consider myself something of a videogame nerdingerster.

June 18, 2011

Speedy return to Gonzales (ahreeeba areeeba underle)

Art thou familiar....st with the "Come and Take It" battle flag? This occurred in Gonzales.

So, I went and took. And I didn't even need no stinkin' badgees. No, seriously.

June 13, 2011

Detour on the way to the city on the edge of forever

The A.V. Club has an appreciation/analyses of the writer Harlan Ellison, with accompanying photograph featured above. Of course Ellison is partly known for writing the very best script/screenplay for a Star Trek episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever." Three questions come to mind when I see that pic:

1. Is Shatner gettin' him some?
2. Where are Spock and Kirk's insignia??
3. Were Nimoy and Shatner actually that much bigger than Ellison? They look huge.

June 9, 2011


...a.k.a. 25 neon signs part iv...

harmony wedding chapel neon sign
Houston, Texas

I begin this episode of Neonopolis with a sign I drove by for many years without stopping. Part of the problem was the fairly intense traffic along Interstate 45/the Gulf Freeway. This Harmony Wedding Chapel is on a feeder road off of I45, and one of those times, I finally pulled over and got its weathered old neon sign.

June 2, 2011

Something about loss, preservation, and obscurity

bill smith's cafe
The drive to McKinney, Texas, turned out to be a bit longer (30-40 minutes; Garmin usually shaves at least 15 minutes off the Google time) than either Google Maps or Garmin told me it would be, so I was sort of dreading the drive back before I'd even arrived. But once I got there, it seemed to have all been worth it. I had a list of thirteen items to locate, tag and bag, the majority being Victorian-style homes. But I became bored by the houses after the third or fourth, which worked out, because I was soon reminded that McKinney has a handful of great, vintage neon signs (gems, really). Besides, old signs are far more interesting than homes built 130-150 years ago...

May 24, 2011

"On the Street Where You Live"

I like Vic Damone's version of "On the Street Where You Live" all right, but it doesn't swing as hard as Dean Martin's. Dino's version was recorded for his 1960 This Time I'm Swingin'! album. The arranger/conductor on the song and album was Nelson Riddle (obviously), hence the elegant swing rhythm. Riddle was of course the guy who helped to retool Frank Sinatra's sound in the mid-1950s. Heck, this recording even featured Harry "Sweets" Edison, the trumpet player so important to Sinatra that the singer often made sure Edison had his own mike at recording sessions.

May 19, 2011

25 more more neon signs

....or would it be more²?

dutch mill cleaners neon sign

I found this one in a weed-covered, cracked cement parking lot, behind a row of abandoned commercial buildings, in a "rough" part of Houston, while looking for a totally different sign (which was gone). The font on this one caught my eye.

May 17, 2011

Q. & A. with Diedrich Rulfs

The local newspaper, The Daily Sentinel (subscription only), yesterday conducted a question and answer with Diedrich Rulfs (the Master Architect of Nacogdoches). The "interview" was conceived by Sarah O'Brien of the Nacogdoches Main Street organization, and appears to have been conducted with local Rulfs expert, Dr. Jere Jackson. I got a plug:

Q. What book are you reading now?

A. The most complete accounting of Rulfs' projects still standing is an electronic book by Nacogdoches resident Chris Adams titled "Diedrich Rulfs; Master Architect of Nacogdoches." It has contemporary photos of all the Rulfs structures identified so far. It is viewable online at: http://exquisitelyboredinnacogdoches.blogspot.com/2009/06/diedrich-rulfs-master-architect-of.html.

May 16, 2011

Pet Sounds at 45

I was in a Beach Boys phase around the time I was a freshman at the University of Texas, way back in 1985. The only thing I'd ever heard off of Pet Sounds was "Sloop John B" and, of course, the majestically, bittersweet-fully beautiful "Wouldn't It Be Nice." But I knew it was the album Paul McCartney had credited with inspiring him to do Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and it was usually ranked high (number one or two) on "greatest rock album ever" lists. So I had to have it. Back in those days, it was difficult (believe it or not) to find a copy of Pet Sounds on record or cassette. Being in Austin that fall of '85, I was finally (joyfully) able to find a copy of the record at one of the record stores (Waterloo Records) on the Drag.

May 14, 2011

L.A. Noire

There's been a lot made out of the realistic facial expressions of the characters in the latest from Rockstar Games, L.A. Noire. It uses "ground-breaking new MotionScan performance-scanning technology, which utilizes 32 high-definition cameras to capture actors’ faces in 3D, transferring every aspect of the performance into the game, enabling players for the first time to lip-read in-game characters and to read every facial expression down to the finest detail" (source). To me, it's actually the least appealing part of the game. I think the process makes the characters' heads seem disproportionally larger than their bodies, especially if they are wearing a hat, which, because the setting is the 1940s, everyone is.

May 3, 2011

Another Mad Men moment

I just finished up disc 4 of the 4-disc set of the fourth (and latest) season of Mad Men. Season 4 takes place between late November 1964 and October 12, 1965. Main character Don Draper has a young daughter and lives in New York City. So it only goes to follow that a scene such as this would occur:

April 30, 2011

25 neon signs

12 oaks motor hotel sign

There is something about a vintage neon sign that just thrills the heck out of me. I've driven a lot of Tejas (and elsewhere) to find them, and I hope to find more. But the very nature of them (vintage) makes them increasingly difficult and rare to find. Add to that factors such as the climate, like it is down along the Gulf of Mexico (where I grew up, down in Galveston). The salty air causes stuff to rapidly rust away, and the occasional hurricanes do their fair share of destroying signs from the past. So, due to my difficulty in locating them, the joy when finding or stumbling upon one is great. These are some of my favorites (out of a set of 336, taken from December 2005 to April 2011).