The Lope: April 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

One Year Anniversary Post: Lebanon MO on Route 66

This is our one-year anniversary post. On April 26, 2005, after much urging by friends, I started this blog and used only three photographs from the following post; I didn't quite have the hang of it. The trip this post relates was made on April 16 and 17 of that year and was part of a stay in the Ozarks of Missouri. Ace did not yet have his custom made travel clothes, but he had already been on a few journeys with me, including trips to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and much travel on Route 66. Perhaps we'll eventually get those online.

We started from Strafford, MO on Route 66 going east. About six miles west of Conway, we encountered what is left of Abbylee Modern Court.

The motel business is defunct and the cabins appear to be apartments.

Before we reached Lebanon, two nicely painted Meramec caverns barns presented themselves.

It wouldn't be a trip through Missouri without Meramec Caverns barns every few miles.

The coolest thing we saw in the city of Lebanon was this ghost of a Mobile Oil Pegasus.

The Bell restaurant has been here since 1964, according to its current owner. This is the west side of its sign; thats Route 66 in the background.

Shortly after the Bell, Route 66 turns north (left), and up the hill we saw the beautiful sign for the Munger Moss Motel at 1336 East Route 66.

Bob and Ramona Lehman have owned the Munger Moss since 1971; it was built in 1946 as a 14-cabin motor court. The garages between the rooms were eventually filled in and many more units were added.

We secured a room and moved on to the northeast on Route 66.

Across Route 66 from the Munger Moss, on the west side of the highway is the Starlite Lanes bowling alley.

Northeast of the Munger Moss and the Starlite, spectators were pouring into the Lebanon I-44 Speedway, which is actually on Route 66.

Moving on northeast toward Waynesville, we relished the site of redbud trees in the Ozark Spring.

Ramona Lehman helped me to identify the following three structures. This is an old tavern just west of Hazelgreen; she says it operated even into the 1990's.

Also near Hazelgreen, nature reclaims a gas station. Ramona says it was a recycling station by the mid-1970's.

This set of cabins near Gasozark was probably once a motel. I didn't see any remnant of a sign, though.

We turned off Route 66 onto Highway 7, well before Waynesville, and did some exploring.

We returned to the Munger Moss after nightfall.

The sign dates from about 1955 and used to be closer to the ground; it was later raised for greater visibility when a bypass was constructed and traffic moved farther from the motel.

This is the north side of the sign.

Across Route 66, The Starlite beckoned.

We settled in for a long and fitful sleep.

In the morning, I shot the main sign with the much taller generic "MOTEL" sign that was erected in the late 1970's or early 1980's by the Lehmans.

We headed back down Rt66 to the Bell Restaurant for breakfast.

The building dates from 1964 and, according to the current owner, who has had it for 25 years, it has not been altered. I love the 1960's colored panels.

I don't know if the structure above the the work area behind the counter has a name, but it appeals to me.

The cantilevered stools are nice too. Unfortunately, the front of the restaurant is a smoking area.

This is the non-smoking section in the back of the building. It's pretty dull.

Breakfast was fine. I'm afraid I'm not much of a breakfast connoisseur, so unless it's something really unusual, its all the same to me. You know, I'm pretty marginal on whether to include food shots, but some of the emails we receive indicate there is a sizable contingent of people planning trips who like to see them.

After breakfast I took a look at Wrink's Food Market.

Wrink's was opened on June 10, 1950 by Glenn Wrinkle and operated for almost 50 years.

At the time of this writing, the building is vacant.

Sadly, we had missed Mr Wrinkle by a month or so; the store had closed on February 21, 2005.

Glenn Wrinkle died on March 16, 2005; he was a Route 66 institution and I'm sorry I never met him.

Some other nice Route 66 theme signage on the front of the store.

Heading back up to the motel, Starlite Lanes is framed by the portico of the Munger Moss.

This old sign was not functional last year, and when I called to check for updates on everything before writing this post, the management told me they had disposed of it a few months ago. It's a shame, and just one of way too many justifications for photographing everything while you can.

Inside, most of the place is nothing unusual.

But the lockers look like they might be original to the building's late 1960's vintage.

I've always been a fan of the Creature from the Black Lagoon but didn't know there had been a pinball machine.

Nadine Davidson has been a bowler nearly all her life and helps with many bowling activities. I enjoyed the way the diffused lighting enfolded her amid the overwhelming purpleness of the place.

I seem to find tiki in the oddest places; it shadows me like a welcome friend. The back of this bowling shirt reads: Tiki Tiki Lounge We Shake You Shimmy.

Back over at the Munger Moss, we got a chance to look at two of the themed rooms before we left town. This is the Coral Court tribute room and features many photographs of that defunct St Louis Route 66 institution.

I love the tile in the bathroom.

The "Route 66 Room" is the first theme room Ramona Lehman decorated. It features over 80 photos of Rt 66 locales.

One of the things I've learned in the last year is to include motel room interior shots when possible. This is because one of the main questions I am asked in email is, to paraphrase: "nice neon sign, but what are the rooms like?" I don't stay at most places I photograph from the road, but when I do, I try to take a picture before I trash the room with all the stuff I bring in from the car.

Here's the bathroom.

It was time for us to go. On the way to Joplin, where we were staying, I shot this probable former gas station east of Marshfield.

This was the perfect Sunday drive.

Sometimes I drive over the crest of a hill and Route 66 takes my breath away. This can happen on any road, for that matter. All roads go somewhere, and until we've been to as many somewheres as we can get to in a lifetime, we'll keep driving.

To all of our readers: thanks for sharing the last year; see you up the road! - Ace Jackalope and entourage

Update, July 29, 2007 - Starlite Lanes no longer has the cool old sign, it was replaced with a backlit plastic one. However, there is good news: Wrinks is back in business, run by Terry Wrinkle, one of Glen Wrinkle's sons. Change, death and renewel continue along the Mother Road.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Great Plains Renaissance Festival

The Third Annual Spring Great Plains Renaissance Festival was held April 22nd-23rd at Sedgwick County Park in Wichita, KS, this past weekend. We'd gone to the one last fall and enjoyed ourselves, so we thought we'd go again. It's an impressive gathering and less expensive to attend than Kansas' other similar festival in Bonner Springs, though it could benefit from a move to a more wooded and shady area like the Bonner Springs "renfest."

At last fall's festival, Ace Jackalope met Chuck Sawyer, who subsequently made him a suit of chain maille.

Sawyer's chain maille isn't just for men and jackalopes.

We didn't see any women modeling this stuff.

Wichita-based group, Heavy Metal Combat, uses plate armor in their shows.

Ace seemed oddly interested in battle tips from Frank Keith before combat.

Members of the group make their own armor.

Women...ya gotta have a few handy at battles.

Yep, thats a baseball bat.

Other styles of plate armor were available from vendors.

Pirates seem to be a growing theme in performance and costuming.

We saw a few people we'd taken pictures of last fall. This is "the Tree Lady."

Latifah Israel enjoys participating in costume.

Rhonda Holm (left) and Christine Ulrich, both of Hutchinson, give Ace a perch from which to observe people in costume.

One of Ace's readers, a girl known as "Boo", enjoys a camel ride.

When Boo sees Ace online, she thinks he's a reindeer.

After leaving the fair, we hit Target and discovered that Easter stuff had dropped to 90% off. Ace bought a cart full of chocolate bunnies and Peeps and kept talking to them: "soon, my brothers, soon" he whispered before becoming strangely silent.

Coming tomorrow: The Lope's one-year anniversary post.

April Miscellany

Sunset in the Flint Hills of Kansas, April 14.

Sometimes you don't have a good foreground; you just jump out of the car and shoot.

Dogwood tree in Joplin, MO, on Easter weekend.

Dusk on the square in Fredonia, KS, on April 17.

Our friend Terry and his Tai Chi instructor, Joya, demonstrated along with Joya's class at the Fifth Annual Soroptimist's Women's Show on April 22.

Peaches the Cockatoo entertained people at Burdette's Birdies' booth.

My neighbor's Iris

Storms over Kansas

Storms over central Kansas did extensive damage Monday, most of which was caused by baseball sized hail.

These scenes in Pleasantview, looking northwest (above) and southwest, pretty well summed up the day.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Kon Tiki Party!

Ace's favorite tiki bar, Kon Tiki in Tucson, AZ, is holding a big party to celebrate a sprucing-up of the place on Saturday, April 22. There's a pop-up window at their website which gives details of this "Grand Re-Dedication Party." I've seen pictures and it looks like the place was handled with great sensitivity to its character. This is no surprise, since "Bamboo Ben", the man who did the work, is the grandson of the original interior designer of Kon Tiki, Eli Hedley.

We won't be able to be there, but thought we'd mention it here since we get email from fans of all sorts of mid 20th century architecture and pop culture (some of whom live in Arizona), and this classic 1962 tiki bar certainly qualifies as both.

We visited Kon Tiki most recently in May of 2005; here are some photos from that visit, and other previous ones.

Kon Tiki serves drinks in mugs (seen at top with Ace) based on this Milan Guanko tiki just outside the building.

If you can get there, we envy you!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter Island

I'm sure you're familiar with the form above, even if you are not a tiki fan or an archeologist. The big stone heads, or "moai", are the enigmatic sculptures on Easter Island in the South Pacific.

"Easter Island", it was called, by the crew of a Dutch ship that ran across it on Easter day in 1722. It is called Rapa Nui by its indigenous people.

The history of Rapa Nui - sociological, religious, anthropological and ecological - is frequently in debate. As recently as a month ago, previous presumptions about time-frames of its history have been called into question. I shan't get into it here, but will refer you to the Wikipedia listing, from which I obtained the two public domain photographs above and below.

A Rapa Nui enthusiast recently started a blog for news of the island; Ace highly recommends it.

I'd always been fascinated with moai; I think I saw a real one in the Smithsonian years ago, but the closest I've gotten recently was when I photographed a casting last August on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.

As with many beautiful things one encounters, this casting gets more interesting when you research it.

In 1968, Lan Chile Airlines and Air France planned to construct a jet refueling facility on Easter Island for their trans-oceanic flights. To make room for this - you guessed it - hundreds of Moai would have been displaced or destroyed.

Enter Samuel Adams Green, descendant of the Boston beer manufacturer, friend to the likes of Garbo and Warhol and quite an interesting study unto himself. He was then Cultural Consultant to the City of New York and was asked by retired U.S. Army Colonel James Gray to help prevent this archaeological and anthropological disaster by bringing it to public attention.

He succeeded. Green became Special Projects Director with Gray's organization, The International Fund for Monuments, and, working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), he traveled to Easter Island and brought back a small (8-foot) moai which had been knocked off its torso by a storm in 1960.

He arranged for the moai to be shipped to New York City where it was displayed at Park Avenue's Seagram's Plaza.

The display generated enough publicity and funding to stop the refueling base and to expand a University of Wyoming archaeological study of the island. UNESCO managed to stop all commercial development of Easter Island.

Above two photos used by personal permission of Sam Green. I was fortunate to be able to question Green, via email, about the eventual fate of that particular Moai. He responded: "On its promised return to Easter Island- having toured Washington and Chicago after NYC, it was kidnapped by the Chilean authorities - Chili being the protector of Easter Island - and is now mounted outside the Chilean National Museum in Santiago."

A number of castings of the New York moai were made by Lippencott of North Haven, CT, a firm which apparently specialized in producing giant sculptures for public view.

According to Green, "Our arrangement with the now defunct Lippencott sculpture manufacturers in North Haven CT was that they could replicate up to 100 heads in cement when orders were placed provided them with six thousand dollars more than the manufacturing price (which was to go to Easter Island). I believe they only received orders for 6 and so there are 94 more that could be made if they had not gone out of business years ago."

Those marks on the casting's face may be simple graffiti, or may be someone's attempt at a religious symbol from Easter Island.

The imagery of moai spread from Easter Island, carried by books like Thor Heyerdahl's 1958 "Aku-Aku", and burrowed into the public consciousness.

Sometimes the usage was blatant.

Aku-Aku restaurant and lounge, Worchester, MA (photo shot in 2003, business now defunct) is a group that frequently deals with the actuality of Rapa Nui, as well as the use of its moai imagery in tiki bars and pop culture. Check out these vintage comic book pages shared by tikicentral member Slacks Ferret. They're good enough that I amended this post to add them.

Indeed, the image of these big stone heads has become so ubiquitous that I cannot easily round-up all of the pop-culture moai I've seen; it's like trying to remember every time you've seen something inspired by a pyramid. Back in the 1970's, when it was all the rage to make those "aliens helped us make everything old and fantastic" pseudo-documentaries (i.e. "Chariots of the Gods") you couldn't avoid seeing a moai on TV if you'd wanted to.

Fans of the animated show, "The Critic" may remember the kid from Easter Island in the United Nations school - he had a moai for a head. More recently, "The Incredibles" featured two large moai in the villain's headquarters.

Moai have emerged in many other artistic or commercial endeavors. Here are just some of the ones I've photographed in the last three years.

This moai keeps company with Hawaiian-inspired tikis at the Bahooka restaurant in Rosemead, CA.

Moai are a natural as tiki restaurant and bar decor in huge metro areas...

...and in bars across from the railroad tracks in Kansas.

Tropics Lounge, Wichita, KS

They've been used on tiki barware, both simple...

...and innovative.

Trader Vic's "suffering bastard" decanter.

They sell groceries...

Trader Joe's Tucson, AZ

This huge moai lords over a miniature golf course.

Magic Carpet Golf, Tucson, AZ

While this one looks on from the green.

Tiki Hut Mini Putt, Overland Park, KS

Hollywood constructs of fiberglass what Easter Islanders had to laboriously render in stone.
C. P. Three Prop House, Los Angeles, CA

Not that I'm not guilty of trivializing the probable gods of Easter Island, myself. This was my Halloween display in 2004.

This big, orange light-up moai was sold by Spencer Gifts in 2004.

Moai have been the muses of artists who sculpt in wood...

Todd Baker, Overland park, KS, with "Ed the Head."

...and concrete.

I am pretty sure that "Giganticus Headicus" at Cozy Corner Trailer Court, Antares, AZ, is the only moai on Route 66.

And I'm very sure it's the most campy use of a moai I've ever personally seen.

Unless...Ace Jackalope surveys a plasma moai lamp and wonders if the gods would be pleased.

The aching question to me is: why, oh why has someone not made available to me - the baby-boomer with disposable income - a bag of plastic Easter eggs shaped like moai. Target Stores, Spencer Gifts, Accoutrements (maker of offbeat toys)...are you listening?

For more moai in a post made a year after this one, see More Easter Stuff.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Egg Mishap

Some people can be trusted with Easter eggs...some can't.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Death Cart

Yeah, that's a nice transition - from pretty Easter eggs in the last post to the head of death herself.

"Herself" you ask?

Yes, Death is a woman.

Meet Doña Sebastiana, the image of death to the Penitente Brotherhood, a lay religious society prominent in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado during the 19th century.

Members of the Penitente Brotherhood, or Hermandad de Nuestro Padres Jesus Nazareno, would do penance during holy week by placing an image of death in a cart filled with stones and pulling it in a reenactment of Christ's suffering on the procession to Calvary.

By the way "holy week' refers to the week before Easter in the Catholic religion; I had to look it up, myself.

The head of Doña Sebastiana often had real human hair, contributed by a female member of a Penitente's family.

That the skeleton in the cart is often identified as Doña Sebastiana may be a reference to St. Sebastian who was martyred by being shot with arrows. The effigy is often seen carrying a bow and arrow, as this one is. It has also been suggested that the bow and arrow derive from the Spanish colonists' fear of Indian attacks.

It may also be that she simply carries the tools of death; this one has a spear.

Aside from the torturous task of pulling Doña Sebastiana and her rocks, the Brotherhood also practiced self-flagellation and other forms of ritual self-torture. Those extremes being noted, they also served the function of a social and financial safety net to many communities, although their ritual practices alienated them from the mainstream Catholic church. You can read more about the shadowy (and therefore, very interesting) Penitente Brotherhood here, here, and read an account from a 19th century photographer, here. More info on Doña Sebastiana can be had here.

Where do you find a Doña Sebastiana today?

We found this one among the permanent exhibits of the Hutchinson Art Center in Hutchinson, KS.

She and her cart are the work of Tesuque, New Mexico artist Ben Ortega, who died in 1998.

Ortega passed his carving skills along to his five sons an five daughters, many of whom are active today. He was renowned for his religious carvings and his work can be seen in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

Aside from the cool death cart, the Hutchinson Art Center has works from local and regional artists including Thomas Hart Benton and Birger Sandzen. They also have a work by Georges Roualt, a French
Expressionist and contemporary of Matisse. I had just happened in there while running an errand; one never knows what one will run across in one's day.

Two photos added April 5, 2009 (shot October 10, 2008):

Monday, April 10, 2006

Mennonite Relief Sale

This past weekend saw the 2006 Mennonite Relief Sale (MCC sale) at the state fairgrounds in Hutchinson, KS. It's an annual event and I try not to miss it for the food and the heavy duty slice of rural Kansas Mennonite and Amish charm.

We ran across Janet Regier of Newton, KS, who has been practicing "pysanky", the art of decorating eggs, for over 12 years.

In the Ukraine, pysanky are often made during holy week and given as gifts to family members and friends. It is then traditional for the recipient to take them to church on Easter Sunday and have them blessed by a priest.

Individual eggs are called "pysanka".

When pysanka are given as gifts, they are often presented in small baskets with plastic "grass". Although pysanky is a Christian and Ukrainian tradition, its roots are Pagan and stretch back well over 2000 years. Both Pagan and Christian symbols exist side-by-side in many examples, and modern artists also incorporate contemporary motifs, like the southwestern examples here.

According to Ukrainian tradition, a pysanka which has been given as a gift is often placed in an oversized brandy snifter and displayed in the home.

Regier says she made about 2/3 of the eggs displayed at her table with the balance having been created by Kathleen Neff, also of Newton.

She says she spent two days making the egg on the left, the longest amount of time yet.

Regier heats a traditional hollow metal stylus called a "Kistka".

The kistka is then used to melt and pick up a small amount of beeswax.

The term "pysanky" is Ukrainian for "things that are written upon", and that is just what happens. Melted beeswax is drawn onto the egg with the kistka. Often, the egg has been dyed a light color before this part of the process.

The eggs are then dyed; the wax prevents dye from reaching covered parts of the egg and is then removed to reveal the underlying color. Often the process is repeated to create more then one color. Dyes proceed from lighter to darker for practical as well as symbolic reasons. The progression from light to dark symbolizes, among other things, the stages of life.

This is the second year I know of that Regier has demonstrated and sold at the MCC sale; she always has a good crowd...

...not to mention an attentive one.

I found a site for basic pysanky instruction on the net.

Regier was set up with other vendors in the Domestic Arts Building.

The MCC sale is noted for a huge German Buffet. Literally hundreds of people wait in line for it.

There's a reason the food picture is small. I find that German food is well...satisfyingly filling and good in context of an event, but it's not photogenic.

Mmm...New Years cookies.

The big event of the MCC sale is the quilt auction.

According to the MCC website, "over 70 Mennonite, Brethren in Christ, and Amish congregations in Kansas, and their friends, donate their gifts and services for this annual festival and benefit auction." That includes the quilts.

Some of these things go for thousands of dollars.

I under-appreciate quilts; I love my electric blanket.

But, they can make nice graphics.

One fish, two fish, red fish, plaid fish?

I wouldn't ordinarily throw in a cardboard advertising sign, but I never expected to find a retro space-age graphic here.

Among the items for sale by vendors were these wheat drill wheels. No, I didn't know what they were; I had to ask. I am somehow reminded of the 1925 silent film, Metropolis, which showed a future dominated by huge machines.

Ace read up on the event and disguised himself as a local farmer to check out this finely crafted miniature barn at the general auction.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Future was so Cool in 1961

If the futuristic architecture of the mid-20th century has a singular icon, it's the Theme Building at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport).

I'd seen the Theme Building online and in books, but nothing could prepare me for the view from my taxi window that day in August of 2005. If you're a fan of "Googie" architecture, a futuristic style so prevalent in the 1950's and 60's, this place is a must-see.

Construction of the Theme Building, part of the "Los Angeles Jet Age Terminal" project, began in April of 1960 and was completed in August of 1961. The building, with its flying saucer suspended on parabolic arches that soar 135 feet high, was dedicated in 1962. Long before the Los Angeles City Council designated the building a Cultural-Historical Monument in 1992, it had already become iconic of the future we were supposed to have.

Architects for the project were Pereira & Luckman Associates and Welton Becket & Associates and Paul R Williams.

According to the University of Southern California, architect William Pereira's brother, Hal, was art director of the 1954 film, "War of the Worlds". The Martian war machines would look very natural here.

From 1961 until 1996 an international cuisine restaurant called the "Theme Room" operated in the building; I've seen no photographs of its decor, but have read accounts which imply that it was nothing too out of the ordinary.

In 1996, the restaurant contract changed hands and Walt Disney Imagineering was hired to give the place a make-over. The result was, inside and out, a beautiful retro treatment which enhanced the already masterpiece-status googie building. On January 31, 1997, work was completed on the "Encounter Restaurant and Bar"; the future had been rediscovered, as it were.

I ran across a 2001 interview with Eddie Sotto the head of Disney team responsible for the renovation. The interview was conducted by Marc Borrelli of the Disney fan website,

Sotto stated that, before the renovation, the Theme Building needed "color and a heartbeat". Lighting designer Michael Valentino added a simple but effective light show. Imagine having a Disney-sized budget and a canvas like the huge white underside of the Theme Building. It can make those of us who are into holiday lighting drool.

When I was there on August 13 of 2005, the exterior slowly morphed through hues of purple, blue, green and orange.

Transition from the outside world into any "differently themed" establishment is a subtle but important step in the customer's experience. In a tiki bar, it can be a walk from city asphalt through dense foliage to a tropical paradise. In the case of the Encounter Lounge, it's a ride in a shiny elevator up to a space port. How does this transition work? Music, mostly.

Sotto: "The biggest issue was how to get someone out of the negative, noise polluted world of an international airport and prepare them for a wild, "Barbarella-gant" evening of Martinis! We used a soundbyte in the elevator to transition you from the world you are in to the one we have staged. The elevator drops you off in the bar, so the moody Therimin music sets the right tone. Most guests inside are surprised by weird elevator music and smile at each other, then when the doors open to lava lamps and the wild room, they "get it" and forget about the airport till much later."

I've got to say the effect works; I didn't know about the music or the decor, but when the swanky retro music started, I hoped I was in for something googie-riffic; I wasn't disappointed. The hostess stand above is the first thing you see when you step off the elevator; it's an indication of things to come.

Inside, the surroundings do overwhelm. There's a 360-degree view here, but it does not do the place justice.

Sotto: " We wanted the inside to feel like an "intergalactic in flight" lounge. The kinda place George Jetson, James Bond and Barbarella could drink together."

The color changes in the pylons are quite visible inside.

The "moonrock" textured walls were base-coated in metallic paints and react to light with the illusion of a faint glow. Incidentally, the Austin Powers wrap party was held in the Encounter. Very fitting, huh?

The bar tops are dichroic glass and reflect slightly different colors depending on the lighting and viewing angles.

The decor of the bar was intended to evoke the swinging 1960's; Sotto said "It is the last glimpse of a culture before people started shooting presidents. You go there to drink the Martinis without fear. There was less of it then. Especially at the bar."

Sotto: "The inspiration of the whole thing is to recall a more optimistic time when jet travel was new and fresh and a "jet set" culture grew up around it. The skies were full of playboys, spies and elegant Martini sipping travelers. I used to watch those Bond films and the Peter Sellers movies with all those cool people at these awesome parties with motorized floors and go-go dancing and wish I could go to one."

Of collaborating interior designer Ellen Guevara, Sotto remarked: "She brought me some samples of pearlescent paints and that kicked off this idea of designing the space so the time of day would change the feel and color of the room as time passed. The "cloud" shaped booths reflected color a certain way..."

The chairs are from designer Lisa Krohn's "Meow Collection."

Ace Jackalope relaxes near one of the Encounter's several huge lava lamps. Some are red and others are blue-green; all have flying saucer-like tops and I'm pretty sure they use the same container that was found in the large lava lamps sold by Target stores a couple years ago.
Sotto: "the lava lamps work for dad as something he recalls, but they are redesigned to look modern so the younger audience will see them as new and cool, and not Hippie-esque."

You knew that somewhere on the world wide web there had to be a site devoted to the history of lava lamps, didn't you? well, you were right, and it's very entertaining. Here's its page on the Encounter lava lamps.

The six-hour soundtrack that plays in Encounter is designed to appeal to those who remember the 1960's with music by period artists like Mancini, Esquivel, and Tony Hatch, as well as more cutting edge stuff from neolounge bands like Ursula 1000, Nicola Conte, and Fantastic Plastic Machine.

It contains such oddities as "Goldfinger" played as a mambo, a Moog Muzak version of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", "Bond Street" (the theme from "Casino Royale") by Les 5-4-3-2-1, "Air" by Moon Safari as well as music from Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds and Pan Am commercials.

Notice that I didn't mention the food or drink; I didn't have any. Surprisingly to me, the restaurant closes at 9:30PM, at the latest, and the bar, at ten. I would have thought LA, especially at the airport, did not sleep. We made it in just under the wire at 9:53. I'm sorry I missed looking at the beer taps; I've read they are illuminated and make a sci-fi sound when pouring.

In 1996, a new 277 foot tall air traffic control tower was built near the Theme Building. It looks pretty cool, too.

In a beautiful case of life imitating art imitating life, the architecture shown in The 1960's cartoon, "The Jetsons" was based on the Theme Building's exterior. Decades later, the interior of the Theme Building was remodeled to give it a "Jetsons" feel.

There's an observation deck atop the saucer, by the way, but it's been closed since late 2001 because of security concerns.

Last Monday's Zippy the Pinhead cartoon strip dealt with Zippy's infatuation with Googie at the Encounter. The restaurant's lettering and architecture made him tipsy.

As I left LA, the last picture I took on the ground was of the Theme Building as my plane taxied down the runway. Abrasions, condensation and grunge on the plastic inner window could not dim the future that was supposed to be.

Excerpts from are used by permission, including the title of this post, which is a quote from Borelli.

Updates: The Encounter was closed in early March of 2007 due to stucco material falling from upper arches. At the time of this update, May 30, 2007, it was still closed. Read more in the L.A. Times.

Also, I've added "" to the photos because parts of this post - and sometimes all of it - have been hyperlinked without attribution a few times. This has also taxed my bandwidth limit. I welcome links to any of my posts; you don't even have to ask permission for that. It's also OK with me if you hyperlink to a photo or two, or save one to your own server and re-post it, but only with linkable attribution, please.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Fine Spring Day

Back in late January, we visited a Five Mile Creek in NE Oklahoma. Today, we were in the vicinity so we spent a bit of time there centering ourselves.

Ace examines some cool fungi growing on a downed tree.

I found this small crinoid fragment in a piece of chert that was stained red by iron.

A frog in its season.

Shadows rule.

I wish I'd had my 35mm camera with its 300mm lens handy. This is my digital on maximum zoom; at least the colors are still striking.

Anyone know what kind of insect this is?

Branches seem to embrace the sunset.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

On the Road with Two Women

Ace has his drivers stop for a moment on the Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge between Riverton and Baxter Springs on Kansas Route 66, Saturday, so that he can inspect a shield. We'll have a post or two on KS Rt66 as we get the time to edit the photos.