Casa Flamingo

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Archive for the ‘Popular Culture’ Category

November 1st, 2015

Nashville (Nov. 1, 2015) - I’m finally getting back to my blog, which I started, with great intentions, several years ago. However, along the way, I became absorbed in my passion for writing biographies.

First, it was Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow. He is now 85 years old and a true legend, having run away and joined the circus when he was a mere 14 years old. That book came out in May, 2014 and Ward and I enjoyed several book signing ventures along the way. No sooner had I finished Ward’s book, I came up with the idea to create a series of biographies about the living legends, those whose timeless wisdom energizes the world’s greatest entertainment venues – theme parks, amusement parks, fairs, carnivals, circuses, sideshows, museums and unique one-of-a-kind attractions.

I call the new biographical series, Legends & Legacies. These books are quick and easy reads about the innovators and their insights and secrets who created these irresistible pleasure palaces. The books reveal the best of those who spent a lifetime delivering smiles and creating value. Unlike many biographies, I only write about living legends because I don’t like to rely totally on secondary research, which one has to do when you cannot personally interview the subject. I’m lucky on that account, because during my 40-plus years chronicling this industry, I have had the privilege to not only know, but to have interviewed the biggest names in our industry!

Each person chronicled in this series has been personally interviewed extensively by me and each biography is based on that primary research. All secondary research has been vetted for accuracy by not only myself, but by the subject of each of my books. My first two are of the legendary and celebrity Imagineer, Tony Baxter. The other is Dick Kinzel, the roller coaster king of Cedar Point. I have spent the last two years on these two biographies and they both are now available. Please check them out.

August 11th, 2013 Metropolis, Illinois, Home of Superman

METROPOLIS, Ill. (Aug. 10.2013) – The man in the Superman Museum, here in Metropolis, told me this is the only city in the US named Metropolis, so the annual Superman Celebration during the second weekend in June makes a lot of sense.  Few towns have such a celebrity of which  to theme its town square and annual celebration. They tell me that the town preceded the super hero by several decades and that the creators and owners of Superman now embrace the connection. The featured attraction is the 15-foot tall statue of Superman in front of the courthouse, located on the aptly named Superman Square. The Super Museum is a retail store where just about anything connected to the man of steel can be found for sale. A couple blocks down the street is a nice bronze statue of Noel Neil, known as the First Lady of Metropolis, who starred as Lois Lane in the TV Superman series and starred in more than 100 movies.  You’ll also find a big hunk of bright green kryptonite in front of the Americana Hollywood museum and gift store, just outside the front entrance to the huge Harrah’s Metropolis Casino & Hotel complex.  Fun place. I was a great tourist the day I visited, snapping photos of everything in sight. Check out my SUPER gallery.

July 22nd, 2013 Pacific Park & The Historic Santa Monica Pier

SANTA MONICA,  Calif. (July 22, 2013) - We ended our short, fun trip on the Mother Road last week at the symbolic terminus of Route 66, on the Santa Monica Pier. I can’t imagine a more scenic spot for a historic road to end! It had been more than a decade since I visited Pacific Park, a nice little family amusement park on the pier and it was good to see that it was still looking good and by the look of the crowds, still very popular.  By the way, the Ferris Wheel here is the world’s only solar-powered wheel.  And it was nice to see that some extensive work was being done on the infrastructure of the pier, hopefully guaranteeing that the park, the historic carousel building and the nostalgia will be around for many years to come. Check out the photo gallery.

July 21st, 2013 Meet Elmer and His Bottle Tree Forest

HELENDALE, Calif. (July 21, 2013) – In my quest to finally get around to traveling the Mother Road, we experienced the first leg of Route 66, of what will be a several year project.  We started in Kingman, Ariz. and ended up at the historic Santa Monica Pier. I’ve never seen that part of the world, so this was a fun trip. One of the highlights of the weird side of Route 66 was the discovery of Elmer Long’s Forest of Bottle Trees, just outside Helendale. We stopped, walked in and were soon greeted by the bearded man himself. The funky man Elmer told us all about his passion and some great stories about the creation, which started in 2000. Here’s Elmer and me. Many more photos in the gallery.

July 10th, 2013 Two Sides of the Dells – Whimsy and Nature

WISCONSIN DELLS, (July 10, 2013) – The wonderfully tacky and fantastically beautiful areas around the Wisconsin Dells offers photographers a diverse canvas of photo opportunities. From magnificent rock formations  and waterways to oversize gorillas on front of family attractions, this place has it all.  There’s even a plane coming out of the front of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!  The proliferation of waterparks and advanced and world-class rides in its amusement parks along with the natural surroundings, makes this a great vacation mecca. Be careful, the police are very vigilant of non-residents going as little as five miles over the speed limit.  Just Saying.  Check out my photo gallery.

February 22nd, 2013 Dr. Evermor’s Amazing Forevertron

NORTH FREEDOM, Wisc. (Feb. 22, 2013) – My friends insisted I didn’t want to trek out to Tom Every’s amazing  futuristic garden of welded wonders. It was snowing, it was cold and it was getting near dark, but I said I couldn’t come this far into the northern hinterland without seeing what very well may be the most amazing display of folk art in the state.  The centerpiece, pictured here, is called the Forevertron, a 40-foot tall, 320-ton compilation of scrap, built single handedly by Every.  Steampunk fans will love this place. It’s a science fiction masterpiece, some of it from up-cycled  NASA Apollo decontamination units. All the large pieces have names and a back story, and I was told Every used to show up a lot more than he does now. It’s still a work in progress and it’s truly an alien carnival of outsider art.  See more of Every’s creations in my photo gallery.

September 14th, 2012 The Tale of Paul Bunyan & Babe

RUMFORD, Maine (Sept. 14, 2012) - I have always loved the tale of Paul Bunyan and how he found Babe the Blue Ox.  On our Oct. 8 episode of Ripley Radio (Ripleyoddcast.com), our contributor Chad Lewis talks about Paul’s ties to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Maine.  I guess all three states are proud to claim him.  Here is how the Maine legend goes.

One cold winter’s night near Bangor, Maine, it was SO cold, the snow turned blue.  While Paul Bunyan was in the woods he found a baby ox that was so cold that it had turned blue. Paul saved him, took him back to the camp and warmed him up. But he never lost the blue color, so Paul decided to name him Babe the Blue Ox and they became friends forever. 

As I was driving through Rumford, Maine on vacation, I first spied this great statue of Paul, then as we drove up to Rite Aid, who should we see? I think the drug store sign in the background adds a great deal of flavor to the photo.  Now we know.

September 13th, 2012 Maine – A True Piece of Heaven

MOOSEHEAD LAKE, Maine  (Sept. 13, 2012)  - My wife is from Maine and I have chosen to love it and adopt it as my home state. (Sorry Ohio) Each year we make a pilgrimage back to that beautiful piece of paradise and explore different areas.

Aboard the Historic Vessel

This year, we spent nearly a week near Greenville, on Moosehead Lake, and nearly a week on the coast in Ogunquit.  As a photographer, I went crazy in both areas.  Below is a gallery of photos I shot when we took a 4-hour tour on board the Katahdin, a former steamer that was christened on August 20, 1914.  For years, she plied the waters of this behemoth known as Moosehead Lake towing and pushing huge logs from the prolific forestry industry in the area.  It is now owned and rightly operated by the Moosehead Marine Museum.  It’s a neat old ship and I had fun shooting the shoreline, the various parts of the ship and I played with my fisheye and sepia settings as well.  ALL ABOARD FOR THE GALLERY (AND GALLEY).

May 16th, 2011 The Artistic Trashcans of the Coney Island Boardwalk

CONEY ISLAND, NY (May 2011) - As I took my annual May stroll along the wondrous boardwalk of Coney Island, New York, I found myself paying more attention to the colorful array of trash barrels lined up on the boards than the ocean or beach itself!  I couldn’t resist pulling out the ole Nikon and spending an hour chronicling this unexpected view of New York’s playground!  Take a look.