Saw this taxi in front of us the other day while tooling through our nation's capital. We were about four blocks north of The Mall on 19th Street at the time, if I recall. Just a couple blocks west of the White House.
Nope. Not me.
PREVIOUS ADVENTURES IN TRAFFIC
Live long and prosper. In an Altima.
Just two good ol' boys.
Nicotine is my crash helmet.
Jazz hands moms.
Ugly lug nuts.
My honor student can kick your ass.
Horse and buddy.
Then there's the automotive decorative motif. Corvettes and Indian motorcycles dangling from ceilings and load-bearing walls. A TV showing races in the lobby that is lodged in the floor and surrounded by diamond plate.
Being a NASCAR freak, I entirely and completely dig the place, to the extent that I bring friends there who have yet to witness its greatness. I wear a black ballcap (yes, I'm 40 and immature) with the words The Lube stitched elegantly above the bill.
To complete the American dining experience, I of course paid for our meal with a credit card. The same card that a while back I used to register for that Upromise program that allegedly takes a percentage of your spending on certain items and tucks it away for college savings. Hey, I'm an optimist.
Load up the truck, Jethro. Time for the hillbillies to eat.
Twin sons of different mothers?
PREVIOUS SEPARATED AT BIRTH:
You'd make brownies, of course, because you're a geek.
Well, columnist Dave George at the Palm Beach Post on Saturday said the franchise has no parallel.
When the Devil Rays allowed 13 runs in one inning Tuesday night, for instance, and lost 20-11 to the New York Yankees, were you shocked? Of course, not.
This is the same outfit, after all, that lost 18-2 to Pittsburgh earlier in the month. With a $29 million payroll, lowest in the majors, and a roster lined by raw kids, the Devil Rays are on pace to challenge their franchise record of 106 losses in a season.
The Florida Marlins, in St. Petersburg this weekend for an interleague series, may not be pleased with their recent run production or their lack of a new stadium plan or even the bad luck of Josh Beckett's blister, but there is absolutely nothing to complain about compared to Tampa Bay.
The Devil Rays are simply the lousiest franchise in the history of American professional sports.
Worst in terms of never giving fans anything to cheer. Worst in terms of name recognition, home and away. Worst in terms of totally abusing the patience of a market that endured years of false promises before finally fielding an expansion team in 1998.
Put it all together and you've got an organization that appears to be no better off today than it was for the inaugural game eight seasons ago.
Talk about your bad weekends... Baseball writer Peter Golenbock tagged them on Sunday for the way they've drained the fun out of going to the ballpark:
My biggest peeve is that the Devil Rays management has a policy that no one who goes to the games is allowed to have any fun. I am certain this is true. Perhaps this has something to do with fun being the work of the devil.
Because the team has been crushingly bad for so many years, the 7,000 or so die-hard Rays fans who religiously show up at the Trop have found small pockets of enjoyment over the years. The first was the devotion to rightfielder Bubba Trammell. I'm not sure why - maybe it was his name - but Bubba had a fervent, loyal following. His fans all sat in a section of the stands right behind him and rooted for him like a son. It didn't take long for Devil Rays management to decide those fans were having too much fun. They traded Trammell and Rick White to the New York Mets for Jason Tyner - one of those favored good-field, no-hit journeymen who never made it - and pitcher Paul Wilson.
No one ever had a fan club for Jason Tyner, though the Devil Rays did make 15,000 Jason Tyner bobblehead dolls just days before sending him to the minor leagues. He's still in the minors, with another organization. A bobblehead collector, I wonder what happened to all those dolls.
The next impromptu nightly celebration came from an unlikely source: groundskeeper McArthur Church, who would walk onto the field in the middle innings with a broom to sweep the infield, then would break out into a dance routine that would thrill the fans. For several years, Church's nightly performance was the highlight of the game. But then Church was accused of stealing used baseballs, and he was fired. Management didn't care that he brought all this joy to the fans. Rather than give him a second chance, they summarily banished him forever from the field. He is missed to this day. Where have you gone, McArthur Church?
With Church gone, yet a third entertainment highlight appeared one evening, when a group of ushers spontaneously walked onto the roof of the home dugout and spelled out the letters YMCA with their arms while the song blared on the loudspeaker. This was unadulterated fun, and it inspired the crowd to sing and dance along.
Then one day YMCA was no more. Someone in the killjoy Devil Rays organization decided that it had to go. Ushers relayed to me several reasons, all of them stupid: The song went on too long. The Devil Rays don't want any entertainment unless a product is being hawked. It was distracting to the players.
Whatever the reason, the Devil Rays have gotten their wish: All fun has fled from Tropicana Field. You'd think the Rays were handing out Ritalin and Prozac before the game, the fans are so subdued. The Kiss Cam is now the highlight of the game, perfect family entertainment, though when the two gay guys who were pictured on the Jumbotron to get a laugh actually kissed each other on the lips, I thought the Kiss Cam would be history as well. I understand the spot is taped now to keep spontaneity from ever breaking out again. Too bad.
Whenever unruly fans begin to carry on in the box seats, ushers rush over to tell them to keep the noise down. Fans who want to sit near the field in the ninth inning are summarily returned to their seats with stern admonitions. If the Trop is a church, it's a Puritan church.
Well, we're back from the District. Had a blast. Everything went like clockwork until Sunday, when we missed our tour of the Washington Monument and, later, two of our bags decided to stay in D.C. with the Transportation Security Agency for a couple more hours instead of coming home with us to Tampa.
Only got lost twice in the rental car - both times at the same infernal spot on the Beltway.
In all, a pretty close to perfect trip.
No injuries that I can tell, other than sore calves and a couple of paper-cut-thin slices on my hands delivered by a dozen Maryland crabs that didn't want to give up the fight during dinner Saturday night in Baltimore. When the Old Bay seasoning found its way under the skin, it made the experience that much more authentic and satisfying. Now, every time I hit the spacebar on the computer with the tender and painful part of my thumb, I get this Pavlovian urge to crack open a claw for a mouthful of delicious white crab meat.
Anyway, all this is to say that photos and stories are inbound during the next couple days. But to give a sample of some of the sights, here's a pic I shot on Thursday night while we were sitting along the Potomac in Georgetown. In my mind, this guy was a super-secret emmisary sent to make contact with us to deliver precious information.
His code name?
A couple observations after a day touring through Washington D.C.:
* If you haven't been here, you cannot imagine the level of security everywhere you go. Police everywhere. Baggage checks in nearly every building. More barricades than you can count. Men walking the Mall with M16s. Jets banking hard after taking off at Reagan National Airport, so that they don't fly over the District. Helicopters buzzing treetops over the Potomac.
It takes a while for your brain to absorb it all to the point where you barely notice, but the impression that you are protected is overwhelmingly clear.
* It is remarkable how well the city functions with the influx of yahoos like me coming in for a pilgrimage at the nation's capital. You soon learn to stand to the right on the escalators into and out of Metro tunnels so that the locals can quickly pass. Traffic is horrid for extended periods during rush hours, but it flows fairly well after that. Still, no one knows where the hell they're going. Cars veer back and forth aimless across lanes like the drivers have had seizures behind the wheel.
* When the temperatures are moderate, this is a spectacularly beautiful city, full of European flavor and grandeur. When the temperatures are not moderate, this is the seventh circle of Hades.
* People are grumpier here on the whole than they are in New York City.
* Arlington continues to be hallowed ground. It still has the power to hush through awestruck respect for the sacrifice made by the thousands buried there. It also holds many surprises. Who knew that Joe Louis was buried next to Lee Marvin? Who knew that the man who was the stenographer the night Abraham Lincoln was shot - a man who's legs had been blown off during war but who still wanted to serve in the military - was buried in the cemetery? Who knew that there was a Civil War tomb of the unknown soldier with almost 2,000 remains inside, not far from the more famous Tomb of the Unknowns? Not me.
* It's alarming how much people use iPods and headphones to keep from making contact with each other, especially in the Metro. Alarming because in a city where observation and awareness should be at the highest level possible for security reasons, most people sit on buses and subway cars like musical zombies. If one woman sitting near us yesterday had been wearing them, we wouldn't have had her introduce herself, tell us she was from Bradenton or invite us to the FBI for a tour. She was warm and welcoming and more than gracious in her advice on where to go in the city. And if she had been a member of the iPod Davidians, it never would have happened.
Ten years ago today, my life changed irrevocably for the better.
Father's Day may have been last week, but my Father's Day will always be today.
How could anyone not adore a child like this one:
So we're bopping along the highway, driving an interminable distance from Washington Dulles airport toward the District of Columbia this morning, when it begins to hit me: The guy driving the shuttle van has no idea where we're going.
We're in D.C. to celebrate my son's 10th birthday. This was supposed to be a fun, long weekend.
Instead, we're lost on the Road to Morocco.
We were among three passengers in the airport shuttle. First stop was somewhere in Chinatown. Second stop was somewhere near the Pentagon. Then we were next. Our stop: the Best Western Key Bridge in Rosslyn.
Only we were back on the eastern side of the Potomac River. And driving like we had no idea where we were.
In the process, we drove by the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the White House, the Capitol, the FBI building, the Jefferson Memorial. You name it, we drove past it. A couple times.
Then I realize that the driver, a very nice man who spoke broken English, has no clue where we are and is listening to the computerized voice of a GPS directional guide mounted on the dashboard.
"Go... 2 Point 1 Miles, then turn right..."
"Go... 3 Point 2 miles, then turn left..."
We started joking with him about the lifeless voice dragging us around by the tail.
"Please... drive... through... McDonalds..." we joked, imitating the voice.
Then came the uh-oh moment.
"Please... correct your... course."
We spent so much time in the van, the driver had to refill the gas tank.
"Look there,'' I joked to Brian as we sat parked in an Exxon station. "It's the George Washington Memorial Gas Pump."
Eventually we made it to our destination, settled in and then got a little lunch. We then made our way to the Metro, got our fare cards and later went bopping around town.
We punched out near the White House at the McPherson Square station and walked the two blocks to the northern gate of the White House.
The house is simultaneously beautiful at night and smaller in person than you imagine in your mind. There also at night are fewer onlookers lingering along the fences.
Across the street at Blair House, the vice president's residence, a motorcade was getting ready to roll. The lead car was hidden under a white tent in front of the house. We soon realized the Iraq flag was hanging from the flag pole extending off the exterior of the upper floor. That signified that the Iraq president was visiting Vice President Cheney.
We lingered for a while, watching Secret Service agents, police officers and Iraqi security guards mill about.
Then in rapid succession, the motorcade came to life. An agent pulled a drape in front of the car, hiding the people getting into the vehicle. The crowd, standing along a long row of retention railings, booed for a few seconds.
When the drape withdrew, the motorcade proceeded and pulled away from the house. As it did, we saw Iraq president Jalal Talabani in the back of the second vehicle, sitting next to Dick Cheney. My mom waved and Talabani waved back. Then Cheney waved. My mom just about fainted.
After the crowd dispersed, we walked past the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building, which is being refurbished. It still looked grand in the golden glow of spotlights.
We happened upon a gaggle of tourists perched on Segway people mover vehicles. Wearing protective safety helmets, they were on a four-hour tour through the capitol that takes them throughout the scenic highlights for a meager sum of $55. Daytime tours were also available, someone in the group told us. Pretty nifty idea, but I got the sense that after the fun of being on a Segway wore off (read: 15 minutes), the tour would probably start to seem like work, standing and balancing and navigating through traffic and pedestrians for four hours.
We then walked around the southern side of the White House, at the northern edge of the Ellipse. Salad Boy then displayed the energy only a 9-year-old has at 10 o'clock at night, chasing fireflies on the lawn adjacent to the Corcoran Gallery, catching one and eliciting a recollection by La Madre del Salade about how she and a cousin would catch the bugs as kids and pull their lighted parts off.
We then made our way past the Treasury Building, ogled the Washington Monument winking its red aviation lights at us from the top of the obilisk and then made our way back to the McPherson Metro stop.
"That was the best night ever,'' my son said.
Not a bad way to spend your last night as a 9-year-old.
Looks like I won the caption contest over at Wizbang this week.
Hey, at least it had a Washington D.C. theme. Sort of.
* A word of warning: Do not click if you are easily offended by off-color poltical jokes.
You have been warned.
I'm tired. I'm weary. I'm not, like, bike-160-miles-in-16-hours weary, but I'm whooped nonetheless.
Keeping up with Snel on any level and on any platform is a tremendous challenge. I've tried it on a bike. I've tried it as a journalist. I've done it as a compadre. His appetite for life is voracious. His energy reserves are bottomless.
And his friendship is endless.
I was honored that he let me blogcast his big ride today. The amount of exposure that Alan generated for Side Salad was amazing:
Blogging the ride brought in roughly three times as many visitors to the site than on a normal day when I'm not taunting miscreants or making ridiculously bad jokes. I have no doubt that if this graf were an actual hill, Snel would be chugging up it on his Trek, always pushing, always pedaling.
There will be photos to post. A lot of them, if I know Al. It says a lot about a man that so many friends helped his cause. If the rest are like me, not only was it worth the effort, it didn't even require a second thought to do so.
So I'll sign off for today, comfortable in the knowledge that my friend is safe and back home and happy that I helped a friend achieve a goal that meant so much to him.
I'll be attempting to blog from our nation's capital for the rest of the week. It'll be a bit monotone for a couple days, but hey, I hope to make it at least a little bit weird and interesting.
::::raising my virtual glass::::
This one's for you, Al.
Time: 7:59 p.m.
Place: Albany, N.Y.
Alan: I'm finally here. Six friends were here to meet me at the state capitol. I can't believe how the whole thing worked out. Of course, I'm going to go tomorrow and find out someone stole my car, but...
Seriously, though, every little detail worked out. The timing worked out so well.
You get so few days like this in life that everything you wanted to happen falls into place the way you planned and expected it.
I feel fantastic. I'm a little tired, but it's a beautiful night. It's scary when things work out.
Training at 1 in the afternoon in Florida was just unbelievable. Biking up and down hills here was no big deal. After Florida gets through with you, you can do anything and go anywhere. It's a wicked state in which to train.
Right now we're just drinking sodas and chatting. It's a day I'll cherish forever. It's a unique thing, like college graduation. Things are happening so fast, you're almost overwhelmed. All of these people who have entered my life at different phases all came together to support this.
Time: 7:46 p.m.
Place: Rensselaer, N.Y.
Alan: I'm standing on the bridge between the city of Rensselaer and the city of Albany, right in the middle of the Hudson River.
I'm at Mile 157. Looks like I'm going to be at the state capitol at Mile 158. Looks like I overestimated by two miles, but I'm still going to call it a day at 158 miles.
It's just been an unbelievably marvelous day. I've really pushed the envelope but it felt great.
I'll give you a call in about 5 minutes when I get to the capitol.
Time: 7:14 p.m.
Place: Castleton-On-Hudson, N.Y.
Alan: I think it's time to call it a wrap, my man.
I've pulled into Castleton-On-Hudson, which is this really cute, old-time village right on the Hudson at the 148 mile mark. It's a little past 7 o'clock and my crew, Rosemary Evans, showed up with the CRV and a little cooler action.
I downed some waters and juices and walked into Stewart's Ice Cream Shop for a little scooparooni - chocolate brownie fudge. I sprinkled a little trail mix on top of course for that healthy touch and fueled up for the final leg.
I expect to be at the capital lawn between 8 and 8:15 p.m.
It's just been an inspriring and awe-inspriring day. I really couldn't do the trip without great friends. It's been a real testimony to all the great support of the people who got behind this.
The sun is finally starting to hang a little low. It's the longest day of the year. I expect the sunset will be at about 8:30 p.m.
Like I said, I hope to get to the state capitol lawn by 8 p.m. We've got the cooler full of refreshments. We obviously don't have the park permit to party on the state lawn, but it'll will just have to be a little informal gathering.
Next stop: AL-Bany Noo York.
Until then... out!
In 1921, Percy W. and Charles V. Dake began making Dake's Delicious Ice Cream at the farm on Daketown Road in Greenfield, New York.
Saratoga Dairy was started in 1935 in the Old Patsy Hayes barn on Franklin Street in Saratoga Springs, NY. Owned and operated by P.W. and C.V. Dake, this plant pasteurized and bottled milk from many local farmers. With New York passing a law in 1935 stating that all milk had to be pasteurized, many dairy farmers would have dissolved had it not been for Saratoga Dairy and its modern equipment. In 1938, the Dake Brothers purchased the old city water works building on Excelsior Avenue, which became the new home of Saratoga Dairy. It provided the necessary space for anticipated growth and expansion.
In 1940, Stewart's acquired the "Big Barn" in the town of Greenfield, where cheese, powdered whey and casein were made. Milk was shipped to this plant from most of New England and as far away as Maryland. It was truly a blessing for farmers in the Eastern United States, since, at times, it was one of the few markets for their milk. With the fluid plant well underway, Stewart's Ice Cream Co. would become the next step in the dairy business for the Dake Brothers.
In 1945, the Dakes purchased a dairy, ice cream freezer, hardening room and shop from Donald Stewart of Ballston Spa, New York. The purchase of this plant coincided with the discharge of Charles S. Dake, son of C.V. Dake, from the Army. This young veteran, intrigued by the ice cream plant, decided to start production and sell ice cream in the shop located on busy Route 50, in Ballston Spa. The first Stewart's Shop was born! Two more shops were soon opened in Saratoga Springs and South Glens Falls. Since these were post-war times, people were starved for sweets and would stand in line waiting for cones.
In 1948, Stewart's was the first to introduce the square, folding half-gallon ice cream carton. During this same year, Phyllis E. Dake, Charlie's wife, introduced the idea of letting people make sundaes their own way with a choice of toppings and a bowl of ice cream. "Make Your Own Sundaes" were created and made famous by TV advertising on WRGB (the first TV station in the Capital District).
In 1950, Saratoga Dairy and Stewart's Ice Cream were incorporated. The ice cream manufacturing operation was moved from Ballston Spa to the "Big Barn" in Greenfield. By 1955, there were over 50 Stewart's Ice Cream Shops in operation. In 1957, Stewart's challenged the Department of Agriculture to get permission to sell their own milk, from Saratoga Dairy, to their own shops. With this approval came a 25% drop in retail milk pricing in the Capital District, and within a few months, the company held 10% of the milk market.
In 1959, Charlie took over the operation of Saratoga Dairy from his uncle. In 1960, he brought his brother, William P., into the company. As a graduate engineer of Cornell University, Bill brought with him the engineering expertise the company needed. In one year under his guidance, the dairy turned from a loss to a profit. The new combination of Dake Brothers, Charles S. and William P., developed Saratoga Dairy and Stewart's Ice Cream Co. to become one of the larger, more profitable privately owned dairy companies in the East.
In 1978 Charlie Dake died at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer. Following this devastating loss to the Dake family, friends and Stewart's, William P. carried on with the management of the Company as President.
In 1984 Gary C. Dake, son of William P., joined the company.
In 1994 a new dairy was built. The $4 million, 35,000 square foot building will maintain high quality standards into the next century. Stewart's also purchased the Bonfare chain, which included approximately 40 shops and 8 franchises.
In 2000 Stewart's increased its contribution budget to charitable organizations in their local communities to $1,000,000. Stewart's donates 5% of profits annually.
In 2003 Gary Dake became President of Stewart's Shops; William Dake is Chairman of the Board.
Today, more than 80 years later, there are over 300 Stewart's Shops. The company continues to sell the same fine quality dairy products and ice cream that made them famous, and has a complete line of convenience groceries, food-to-go items, bank machines, and, in most shops, gasoline to meet the needs of their customers' ever-changing lifestyles.
Time: 5:50 p.m.
Place: Stuyvesant, N.Y.
Alan: I'm at Mile 136 and In north Colonial County on Route 9J, which is a road that hugs the river's east shore.
I crossed over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and said goodbye to Chris O'Connell. I also said goodbye to Hudsonian photographer Katherine Van Acker, who joined the trek in her car with her equipment. Look for her photos on Side Salad as well as Hudsonian.
I'm climbing a steep little hill that's gradually going off the Hudson River. It's kind of a neat little village that typifies that notion of what people think of upstate New York.
With Chris heading back and Katherine heading home to Catskill, I'm having a little more reflection time now and I'm thinking more about the memorial aspect of this ride. It's dedicated to Bill Fox. I think I'm really carrying on Bill's tradition as far as long-distance cycling and living your life in the spirit of long-distance cycling, which is getting to know people and towns via the bicycle.
I'm heading up this hill now and what it does offer is a really beautiful perch to look at the Hudson River to my left. The river now is slightly more narrow. It's still majestic as it heads up to Albany.
I'm about 25 miles outside the state capital. I'll have to cross over eventually to get over to the west bank to get to Albany. I'll be looking forward to my partner in this bike ride, helper Rosemary Evans. She's coming in with what's called in the business as "The Sag Car." It's a support car and she'll have drinks and snacks for the friends who will be gathering at the state capital.
At this rate it looks like I'll get there early. I was aiming for 8:30 p.m. but at this point it looks closer to 8 p.m., maybe 8:15 p.m.
I have one important stop, and that is at the Big Stew - Stewarts ice cream shop. I'll be meeting Rosemary there for a pre-celebratory ice cream, of course.
Editor's Note: Stuyvesant was named for Peter Stuyvesant, who was governor of New York, born in Holland in 1602; died in New York city in August, 1672.
He was the son of a clergyman of Friesland, and at an early age displayed a fondness for military life. He served in the West Indies, was governor of the colony of Curacao, lost a leg during the unsuccessful attack on the Portuguese island of St. Martin, and returned to Holland in 1644.
After being appointed director-general of New Netherlands, he took the oath of office in July 1646, and reached New Amsterdam in May 1647 amid such vehement firing of guns from the fort that nearly all the powder in the town was consumed in salutes.
Soon after his inauguration he organized a council and established a court of justice.
Among his first proclamations were orders to enforce the rigid observance of Sunday, prohibit the sale of liquor and firearms to the indians, and protect the revenue and increase the treasury by heavier taxation on imports.
He also worked to provide a better class of houses and taverns, establish a market and an annual cattle-fair, and the founding of a public school.
Governor Stuyvesant was above medium height, with a fine physique. He dressed with care, and usually wore slashed hose fastened at the knee by a knotted scarf, a velvet jacket with slashed sleeves over a full puffed shirt, and rosettes upon his shoes. His lost leg was replaced by a wooden one with silver bands, which accounts for the tradition that he wore a silver leg.
Although abrupt in manner, unconventional, cold and haughty, full of prejudice and passion and sometimes unapproachable, he possessed large sympathies and tender affection.
His clear judgment, quick perception, and extent of reading were remarkable. Washington Irving has humorously described him in his "Knickerbocker's History of New York." The illustrations represent the old Stadt Huys, and the tombstone of Stuyvesant in the outer wall of St. Mark's church in New York city.
Time: 4:10 p.m.
Place: Catskill, N.Y.
Alan: We are in the village of Catskill in Green County, N.Y., and I am at Mile 118.
It looks like the end of the road for Chris. He's been a fantastic bike partner today during some serious Hudson Valley road pounding uphill at 10, 15 and 20 miles at a clip. It was really a great experience cycling with Chris. I'm glad he was able to share the day with me. It meant a lot.
Anyway, we're in the village of Catskill and Chris is going to have one of his daughters pick him up. I'm going to follow through across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. I'll be going up the east side of the river for about 30 or 40 miles before I cross over to Albany.
Chris is going to give you a final thought here:
Chris: It was a great ride at a great pace. Couldn't ask for a better partner to go bike riding with. We've seen a lot of beautiful things you could never see from a car. It was a well-worthwhile trip for me even though I'm only doing half of what Alan is doing. I wish I could do the whole thing, but I'm just glad I got to spend the time with him that I did.
That's it for me. I'm headed back home to take a shower.
Alan: I think Chris brought up a good point about when you're on a bicycle you kind of go at pace where you can see things that you otherwise wouldn't see. It's been fun meeting a lot of people along the way.
I'll give you a call from none other than Stewarts ice cream convenience store in Hudson, N.Y.
Editor's Note: A little background about the Rip Van Winkle Bridge:
In 1930, Ellis W. Bentley, a New York State Assemblyman from Windham, proposed legislation to appropriate $450,000 to study a bridge across the Hudson River between Catskill, Greene County and Hudson, Columbia County. Franklin D. Roosevelt, at that time the governor of New York, vetoed the bill, arguing that the state did not have the authority to finance construction. Instead, Roosevelt recommended the creation of a separate entity, the New York State Bridge Authority, to sell construction bonds. In 1932, the new authority applied for $3.4 million in loans from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), a Depression-era agency, in order to build the Catskill-Hudson Bridge.
Designed under the auspices of the New York State Department of Public Works (NYSDPW), the proposed bridge featured a main cantilever span of 800 feet, side cantilever spans of 470 feet, and an eastern approach comprised of ten 330-foot-long truss spans. From end to end, the Catskill-Hudson Bridge, named after the Washington Irving character Rip Van Winkle, measures 5,040 feet long.
Controversy surrounding condemnation proceedings on the western approach delayed construction. The Catskill approach was to be built on land owned by Thomas Cole, an artist of the Hudson River School. The state was prepared to pay up to $15,000 for the land, or condemn it if necessary. However, Thomas Cole's heirs believed the historic value of the land should bring a price of at least $100,000. To expedite construction, the state decided instead to locate the approach to north of the Cole property.
Construction of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in April 1933. To haul materials to the construction site, roads were constructed on the western shore, a temporary narrow-gauge railroad was built on the eastern shore. In addition, cranes were used to hoist steel and other materials from barges in the Hudson River. Two cranes moved back and forth, putting steel girders in place, followed by men who would bolt and rivet them into place.
By September 1934, all 13 steel piers were erected, as were seven of the individual truss spans. Two months later, following a strike that delayed construction, work resumed on the three remaining individual truss sections. The last link was installed on January 18, 1935, when the two arms of the main cantilever span were jointed by the use of sixteen 300-ton hydraulic jacks.
During the spring of 1935, workers installed the two-lane roadway, and completed the Dutch-colonial-style toll plaza and administration building. The Rip Van Winkle Bridge opened to traffic on July 2, 1935, at a cost of $2.4 million and three lives. When the bridge opened, a toll of 80 cents per passenger car, plus 10 cents for each passenger (up to a maximum total of $1) was charged.
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Saugerties, N.Y.
Alan: I'm in Saugerties now, a little village in north Ulster County. We got here at about 3 p.m. We're at Mile 106.
Chris O'Connell suffered two flat tires. He actually got a flat and tried to fix it and then the tube that he replaced it with also got punctured somehow, so he's working on his third tube now. That're really the only mechanical breakdown we've had.
Things are going well. Katherine Van Acker, a photographer, has popped on to the scene and has been taking some action shots. She's going to send those later tonight. Her stuff it top-notch stuff. She's a former Times-Union photo chief from Albany, so she's having some fun taking some photos.
She'll take some shots of us in Saugerties and some more when we get into Catskill on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge so we get a little bridge action.
And if she has time, she's going to follow us on the other side of the river heading toward Albany and toward some of the more environmentally natural kinds of settings. So we have that to look forward to.
The weather is swtill warm and the breeze is out of the south.
Editor's Note: Saugerties is the garlic capital of New York. As the Garlic Festival Web site recounts:
In 1989, Pat Reppert of Shale Hill Farm and Herb Gardens organized the first Garlic Festival held in the Hudson Valley. It was started as a promotional event for Reppert's fledgling herb business and for New York State grown garlic.
The festival reached its attendance peak in 1995, when the turnout was estimated at 40-45,000 garlic enthusiasts. Some logistics problems resulted, including a Thruway traffic jam and Route 9W being blocked for 11 miles or so.
To control the crowds and in order to grow in a more controlled fashion, a decision was made to expand the festival to two days and to begin charging an entrance fee. As a result the first two-day event was held in 1996.
In the tradition in which it was born, the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival continues to be a fun celebration of the harvest of what garlic aficionados lovingly refer to as the ''stinking rose.''
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Place: Kingston, N.Y.
Alan: I've stopped off at a visitors center in the Roundout section of Kingston, Mile 94.
We actually stopped off and saw some new friends, a couple we met at dinner Sunday night. They said to come over and check the art work and it was really neat.
The guy we visited was Alan Beaer. His wife's name is Jan Harrison. She's the artist. She's going to e-mail some information about her art.
We took a break to go up to her studio, which is in this incredible loft.
We're still chugging away. You might hear some of the trucks in the background. (roaring sounds of massive rigs whipping by) We're on Route 9W and our next stop is Saugerties, where we'll hook up with a photographer.
It's been a glorious day. It's an incredible, special day.
My mother is going haywire over it. She gave me a call from the road and she was racing to get back to her computer to check out more Side Salad coverage.
She has a new name for your Web site. She calls it the Salad Bar. She knows it's SideSalad.net, but she refers to it as Salad Bar. I think Harriet is a big fan now.
Editor's Note: You can find Jan Harrison's Web site by clicking here.
Born in West Palm Beach, Fla., Harrison's work can be found in the book "Arcana Mundi, Selected Works, 1979-2000," published by Station Hill/Barrytown, Ltd.
The book covers 20 years of the paintings and sculpture. This web site includes color reproductions of Jan Harrison's paintings, sculpture and installations from the book Arcana Mundi.
The daughter of a railroad telegraph dispatcher and a legal secretary, Harrison, 60, has had her paintings, drawings, sculpture and audio artwork included in more than 100 solo and group exhibitions.
Excellent samples of her work are on her site, including:
Time: 10:31 a.m.
Place: Newburgh, N.Y.
Alan: We have hit Mile 63. We're making a pit stop at the lovely home of John Courtsunis.
Here's the chocolate man right now. Say a few words for Side Salad.
:::hands over the phone:::
John: I'm here with Alan and Chris, who have bicycled all the way from New York City on this beautiful day. They've made record time. I'm trying to convince them to trade in these two pedal bikes for a couple BMWs. I can't seem to get rid of them.
If it was 100 degrees, I could convince them that instead of having the motor inside them, they should have motors on their two-wheel machines.
Okay... well... that's it for now.
Alan: That was brought to you by John Courtsunis, owner of Commodore Chocolatier.
Anyway, things are going well. We're going to take a little pit stop here with the Courtsunis family and we'll take off in about 15 minutes and head up to Kingston.
Editor's Note: The Courtsunis family is no stranger to the news.
In July 2003, they made Barbara Bedell's column in the Times Herald-Record when John and Christine's son Gus raised money to send the Hudson Valley Wheelchair Team to national competition in Long Beach, Calif.
One of the most impressive gifts, according to Plunkett, came from 11-year-old Gus Courtsunis, whose parents, John and Christine Courtsunis, own Commodore Chocolatier on Broadway in Newburgh. The sixth-grader, who attends Horizon-on-Hudson Magnet School in Newburgh, had a week off around Easter. He used the time to raise money for the wheelchair team by selling raffle tickets for a 10-pound chocolate bunny. "This was an incredible feat," said Plunkett, a Vietnam veteran and former New York state trooper who has multiple sclerosis. "Gus spent many hours standing in front of his family's store on Broadway selling tickets. The team is very appreciative."
Time: 8:45 a.m.
Place: Bear Mountain State Park, N.Y.
From Alan: I'm at mile 42 and I've met Chris O'Connell, my bike buddy from Goshen, N.Y., and we've met up at the Bear Mountain Inn, one of the famous icons on the river at the base of Bear Mountain. We're at one of those kind of places where every school within a 50-mile radius has a field trip out here.
Funny story about meeting up with my friend Carrie: I was supposed to meet her at Haverstraw Bay Park. I bicycled about a quarter-mile into the park off the road. Carrie actually stopped at the entrance of the park. So we didn't know we were both at the park for about a good 20 minutes or so.
Anyway, she sees a bicyclist going by her who resembles me and she thinks that bicyclist is me. He keeps going past the park and Carrie is wondering why Al is going past the park. She goes tearing off after him in her Cougar and pulls up and says, "Al, don't you remember me? It's Carrie. I haven't changed that much over the years."
Anyway, the bicyclist thought that this woman was stalking him, because he said, "I don't know you, lady," and kept on biking."
I called her husband at home and asked if Carrie was going to come down. So her husband Donny called her on the cellphone and we eventually did hook up and chatted for about 10 minutes before I had to head out.
Things are looking great. The weather is in the low 70s, really clear with a southerly breeze. It's been a magical ride so far. Couldn't have asked for anything better.
Chris O'Connell is here. He'd like to say a few words for SideSalad.net. Here's Chris, live!
:::hands phone to Chris:::
Chris: I'm very winded. I've biked three revolutions so far, and I'm looking forward to the next 75 miles with Alan.
Film at 11. We're heading down the road.
Editor's Note: This has happened to me and my family numerous times while we've been driving Tampa Bay roadways. Every time, we conclude that it's Al and every time, without hesitation, we're proven wrong.
But we've met some nice cyclists along the way - if by "met" you mean we've waved at some puzzled and sweaty riders.
Place: Haverstraw Bay Park, N.Y.
I'm sitting at a pretty intense 9/11 memorial right on the Hudson River in the town of Havershaw. I'm meeting my friend Carrie, who's going to be here in a few minutes.
It's kind of a Vietnam War-style memorial. There's kind of a twisted piece of metal that's bolted into a granite-type base. There's a square wall with the names of Rockland County residents who were killed in the 9/11 attack. I took some photos of that. It's a pretty intense memorial.
Next stop is Bear Mountain, where I'll meet my friend Chris O'Connell, a cycling pal who will be biking with me for about 50 miles north. So that should be a lot of fun.
Editor's Note: At the Haverstraw Bay Park along the Hudson River, a living memorial called Patriot Garden was created. There are numerous trees and flowers to create a palette of colors across the seasons. It is a symbol of the cycle of life. There are daffodils, phlox, lilacs, and English lavender. There are weeping cherry trees and Japanese maple trees, too. Next to the garden, there is a memorial area. A walkway displays time and events from September 11. There is a 20-foot beam from Tower Two that is on a base in the shape of Ground Zero. A corner wall randomly displays the names of victims from the area.
One firehouse in Rockland County was rededicated to Greg Sikorsky, a firefighter who lost his life at the World Trade Center. At Ardsley High School, some creative students painted a mural of red, white, and blue. It contained many drawings and many messages from students who wished to express their feelings. Many schools planted trees and gardens to remember those who died as well.
JON L. ALBERT
JANET M. ALONSO
CALIXTO ANAYA, JR.
MICHAEL J. ARMSTRONG
THOMAS J. ASHTON
RICHARD E. BOSCO
WELLES R. CROWTHER
THOMAS F. DOWD
BERNARD D. FAVUZZA
SEÁN B. FEGAN
KRISTEN N. FIEDEL
CARL M. FLICKINGER
THOMAS J. FOLEY
ANDREW A. FREDERICKS
FREDRIC N. GABLER
PETER J. GANCI, JR.
DENIS P. GERMAIN
JOHN F. GINLEY
DAVID M. GRAIFMAN
ROBERT J. GSCHAAR
DANA R. HANNON
FREDERICK J. ILL, JR.
YUDH V. JAIN
LAURA M. LONGING
MARK G. LUDVIGSEN
WILLIAM LUM, JR.
MYRNA T. MALDONADO
JOHN D. MARSHALL
PATRICIA A. McANENEY
ROBERT G. McCARTHY
STACEY SENNAS McGOWAN
DENNIS P. McHUGH
MICHAEL E. McHUGH, JR.
DONALD J. McINTYRE
ROBERT W. McPADDEN
GERARD T. NEVINS
BRIAN C. NOVOTNY
DENNIS J. O’CONNOR, JR.
GERALD T. O’LEARY
VINCENT A. PRINCIOTTA
VERNON A. RICHARD
MICHAEL E. ROBERTS
FRED C. SCHEFFOLD, JR.
THOMAS G. SCHOALES
CHRISTOPHER J. SCUDDER
CATHERINE T. SMITH
ROBERT W. SPEAR, JR.
CRAIG W. STAUB
BENJAMIN J. WALKER
STEVEN J. WEINBERG
MICHAEL T. WHOLEY
JAMES J. WOODS
DAVID T. WOOLEY
ROBERT W. KIRKPATRICK - February 26, 1993
The village of Haverstraw was known for its brick-making, according to a 2003 article in theJournal News:
At the height of its prosperity, Haverstraw village was part of a bustling region regarded worldwide as a premier brickmaking area.
Ten thousand people in the area depended upon the bay-area industry for their livelihood. Outsiders flocked to the village, which was a thriving metropolis for more than 100 years.
Though Haverstraw dates back to 1712, it gained prominence when its brickyards began operating in the late 1700s.
Brickmakers were confounded by the problems they encountered in the oftentimes irregular shape of the building blocks, which at that time were made almost entirely by hand. A few rudimentary tools had been introduced to help streamline production, but it wasn't until 1852, when Richard VerValen developed his brickmaking machine, that the industry exploded.
VerValen, who knew the industry and had "an inventive mind," pondered the dilemma for a time, according to the late historian, author and area resident, Daniel deNoyelles, in his book, "Within These Gates."
A Closter, N.J., native, VerValen had lived in Rockland as a child, then left for upstate New York before returning to Haverstraw in 1848, where he worked manufacturing stoves and plows in his foundry, the book said.
According to legend, deNoyelles wrote, it was in the middle of a Sunday church sermon that VerValen had a breakthrough.
VerValen patented his machine in 1852 and, deNoyelles said, its principles were "so workable and so novel to brickmaking" that they were used until a more advanced machine, incorporating some of his original ideas, was developed in the 1920s.
So successful was his machine that patent holders of other models sued VerValen, who was awarded the right to call himself the machine's originator after carefully explaining his principles. The cases against him were dropped, deNoyelles wrote.
"That machine allowed them to increase the production, oh, I don't know, 10-fold, 20-fold," said Tom Sullivan, a local history buff.
Demand had been on the upswing since a terrible fire in 1835 in New York City's financial district destroyed 13 acres of buildings.The tremendous need for materials to rebuild and to accommodate the city's growing immigrant population gave impetus to the growth of the north Rockland brickmaking industry.
The VerValen machine revolutionized the way bricks were made. Rather than have workers pour the clay into molds by hand, the machine automated the molding process, allowing a stiffer clay mixture to be used. The result was a more uniformly shaped brick.
VerValen's invention so improved the brickmaking process that he quickly got 150 orders from operators in the area.
Wassmer said the machine changed the face of the industry, and of the area. It set Haverstraw on a path of prosperity that would last for 75 years.
Time: 7:05 a.m.
Place: Haverstraw, N.Y.
I'll tell ya, I feel very old because I was a cub reporter at the Journal News in West Nyack and I was covering a controversial garbage burning plant proposal on the waterfront in the village of Haverstraw.
There was an old concrete-type storage area with a lot of weeds. Basically a vacant property with a bunch of concrete pipes.
I just passed the site about 2 minutes ago and there are these massive condos there on the site. It's amazing how things change over the years. That was 20 years ago, and it kind of tells you how much I've aged.
My legs are very fresh, and the weather is very nice. The training worked out well. I feel as if I'm on Mile 1.
Time: 6:20 a.m.
Place: Near Nyack, N.J.
I just clicked on Mile 22, I'm in Huck Mounain State Park, right on the western shore of the Hudson River.
Believe it or not, I'm on a finely packed dirt trail that I'm going to follow for about 2 miles. I'm about 3 miles north of the village of Nyack in Rockland County.
This is a really fascinating stretch of the Hudson. Pretty much to my left are these severe, vertical Palisades Mountains. Kind of a sheer face wall right to my left.
When I worked for the Journal-News here, I covered the death of a kid who fell off one of these walls. It's very dramatic to see the cliffs immediately to the left and the Hudson River on the right.
The weather is absolutely stunning, probably mid-60s at this point. The river is extremely calm. Very little wind.
You might be hearing a little crunching, which is actually my tires going through the dirt path here. The dirt is so packed I'm able to negotiate it with my thin road tires. There's a number of bicycles coming opposite to me biking through here.
In the village of Haverstraw, I might see a friend of mine, Carrie, at around 7:15, so that will be the first official visit along the way.
Editor's note: A little Hudson Valley trivia for you -- Henry Hudson, an Englishman employed by the Dutch, reached New York Bay and sailed up the river now bearing his name in 1609, the same year that northern New York was explored and claimed for France by Samuel de Champlain.
The bicycle Alan is riding today is a Trek 2200.
Here's a little information about the bike:
Third Dimension OCLV Carbon/ZR 9000
Bontrager Race Carbon
Crankset: Shimano Ultegra 53/39 or 52/42/30
Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 63cm
ADVERTISED RETAIL PRICE
Time: 5:35 a.m.
Place: Near Piermont, N.J.
Hey man, how are you doing?
It's about 5:35 a.m. and 13 miles are in the books.
The bike is running like silk, and the hardcore training on the heavier road bike, the Trek 1200, turned out to be a good strategy. The bike I'm riding right now is a Trek 2200. It's lighter and more responsive. And I'm just zooming up the rolling hills from the George Washington Bridge into Rockland County.
The first 12 miles or so are actually in New Jersey and Route 9W is actually quite beautiful. After three or four miles of offices, including the CNBC studio, it's mostly tree-lined and rollers - rolling hills. I felt like I was floating on air on the bike.
There's a slight tailwind - maybe 5 mph at the most. It's just absolutely beautiful. Temperatures are in the 60s and right now the ride is going unbelievably well.
It was a pretty emotional moment when I left the George Washington Bridge to make the right turn and start heading north.
Time: 4:35 a.m.
Place: George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee, N.J.
I'm on the George Washington Bridge, and the most amazing thing just happened.
I was told that the sidwalk gate would be closed until 6 a.m. I just walked right through the front of the gate and on literaly on cue a New York/New Jersey Port Authority truck pulls up and and some guy gets out, walks up and opens the sidewalk gate. It was unbelievable.
So I'm on the bridge and looking at the New York skyline and it's absolutely beautiful. There's a glow above the northeast horizon. As I speak, I'm looking down the length of Manhattan Island. I can see the Empire State Building. I used to be able to see the Twin Towers from here back in 2000 when I used to work at FoxSports.com. The skyline looks beautiful, although it's not as lit up as I thought it would be.
I'm riding around the base of one of the two towers of the bridge. There's a path that curls around both of the towers. Now I'm heading toward New York City. The sun is supposed to come up at 5:21 a.m.
The official name of the ride that I'm wearing on the back of my yellow jersey is the 2005 Hudson Valley Summer Solstice Bike Ride in memory of Bill Fox. And as I go into the New York side of the bridge, I can officially call it the ride from New York City to Albany.
Editor's note: The Empire State Building offers a schedule on it's site detailing what the colors at the top of the building will be at night. Right now it's just your basic "ESB Building" white, but on June 24-26, it will be Lavender/Lavender/White in honor of the Stonewall Anniversary. And from July 8-10, it will be Blue/White/Blue to comemmorate Argentina's independence.
Time: 4:16 a.m.
Place: George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee, N.J.
I have arrived in Englewood Cliffs, about two miles from the trench of the GW bridge on the New Jersey side. I've parked my car in front of a restaurant where it will sit all day and all night. The name of the restaurant is quite apt; It's called The Bicycle Club, of all places. I actually recall the restaurant from years ago when I used to live around the area.
It's about a block from the Englewood Cliffs police and fire building.
Anyway, I'm going to do about 15 to 20 minutes of stretching to kind of get limber and at 4:15 a.m. I can already see the northeastern sky already kind of lightening up. Ahead is kind of a dark blue.
It's extremely clear out, extemely calm. It's great bicycling conditions. And I'm pretty calm myself. I had a banana and an energy bar as I drove about 60 miles from Newburgh to here on the state throughway and the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
The 2005 Hudson Valley Summer Solstice Bike Ride is officialy underway:
By Alan Snel
Hudsonian Magazine Online
Newburgh, Orange County, N.Y. 2:52 a.m. -- Applied the suncreen, did some stretching and packed the phones, cameras and energy powers.
It's time. Time to start the thousands and thousands of small circles with my feet, rise out of my saddle to slay a few hills and soak up 16 hours of bike trekking.
Weather forecast is looking good. Mid 80s temperatures, no rain and slight breeze out of the south in the forecast.
It's time to go. See you on the road.
Just a handful of hours until the start of the 2005 Hudson Valley Summer Solstice Bike Ride - and the official international blogcast here on Side Salad.
We'll be blogging all day as rider Alan Snel calls in dispatches from the 160-mile route.
Alan's been training for months for this, fine tuning his body and his bike for the grueling challenge. Ever ride 40 miles before work each day? Al did. For weeks.
Day after day he did this, all so he could be ready to honor the memory of a friend.
In advance of the ride, he filed this pre-race report:
Newburgh, Orange County, N.Y. 6:10 a.m. -- It took 1,400 miles of driving, but it's worth the trip to the Motherland, Rockland County, where I grew up 30 miles north of New York in the lower Hudson Valley.
It's here in Harriman State Park, a sprawling two-county park of woods, creeks, lakes and hills where I'll feel the burn of climbing the rolling terrain less than an hour's drive from the Big Apple. Calling this place a park doesn't do it justice -- it's the size of several towns.
I will be pushing off from the George Washington Bridge at Fort Lee, N.J. around 4:45 a.m. and heading north to the New York state capitol lawn, an all-day bike trek of 160 miles, including crossing the Hudson River four times. I hope to reach Albany by 8:30 p.m.
At 4:50 a.m. there is enough light in the Hudson Valley to safely negotiate the roads on a bicycle. On the morning of the Summer Solstice, sunrise will officially be at 5:21 a.m.
The hills where I'll be starting the trek slayed me 20 years when I started as a neophyte cyclist -- but now I negotiate each crest with the controlled frenzy of a veteran. Remarkably, even though I haven't biked these roads for several years, I still remember every twist and grade and texture of the roads like I know the mood and personality and demeanor of my family members.
The weather for the ride is looking fine. Today, Monday, is a picture-postcard day. Temperatures will top out in the high 70s and the humidity is low. For Tuesday, the official 2005 Hudson Valley Summer Solstice Bike Ride in memory of Bill Fox day, the weather will heat up slightly into the mid 80s, with "partly cloudy" in the forecast.
No rain. And here’s a kicker – looks like winds out of the south, which would be a real treat since tailwinds are a bicyclist’s best friends.
The anticipation is exciting. And part of the bike ride's lure are the people I will inevitably meet along the way.
After slamming hills during a training run Sunday with Chris O'Connell, a strong-as-a-horse cyclist who carries the mojo of cycling in his heart, I shared a dinner Sunday night with my friend Rosemary, a second-grade teacher in the Gardnertown Elementary School in the Newburgh School District who tells me her class has surpassed the one-book report-for-every-mile project. A month ago, the class' goal was 160 book reports. The class has topped the 200 mark in four weeks. The kids are pumped to read -- even kids who have not shown excitement in the past are cranking out book reports. They're proud of the chart on the wall -- and that makes me proud about Tuesday's bike ride.
I’ll be meeting friends along the 160-mile odyssey – new ones, too, such as Rondout artist Jan Harrison and her husband, Alan Baer, an architect. Jan overheard my mention of Rondout, a historic waterfront section in Kingston, when I was chatting with Rosemary Evans at dinner Sunday night.
I told Jan and Alan I’ll be visiting Kingston along the bike ride Tuesday and one thing led to another and Alan, the architect, was already crafting a locator map to guide me and my biking pal Chris O’Connell to their home and studio to catch Jan’s art. Jan will be away around 1 p.m., when I hope to be cruising through Kingston en route to Albany, but Alan said he would be there and happily serve as guide. The Rondout neighborhood is a quick hop off Route 9W, the road I’ll be taking through Kingston.
Jan’s work can be found here.
By the way, I’m happy to report the Stewarts ice cream/convenience store chain is alive and well in the Hudson Valley. It’s the Saratoga Springs-based chain with more than 300 stores scattered around the Hudson Valley that purveys gasoline and ice cream in mammoth quantities.
Let’s just say there’s more than a few Stewart’s stores along the bike route – or as I like to call them, “Big Stews” – to carbo-fuel these 160 miles.
Mostly, I'm thinking of the challenge I'll face when pedaling all day Tuesday, the first day of summer -- the summer solstice. But then I think about Bill Fox, the long-distance bicyclist from Middletown, N.Y. who died three years ago in a bike accident. This bike ride Tuesday is in Bill's memory. I wrote about Bill for a local newspaper in the Hudson Valley after he died -- and its impact still motivates me.
Bill Fox shared his enthusiasm for cycling with everyone, wanting to infuse people with the love of cycling so that they, too, would experience the same feeling he did when he sat on a bike saddle. I plan to celebrate that feeling on Tuesday to celebrate Bill's legacy and to mark the first day of summer here in the Hudson Valley.
Not sure what the source of the material is, but a story on the India Daily site gives descriptions of Saddam Hussein behind bars that is, uh, a little normal:
The soldiers say Saddam was preoccupied with cleanliness, washing up after shaking hands and using diaper wipes to clean his meal trays, his utensils and the table before eating. "He had germophobia or whatever you call it" said Dawson, 25, of Berwick, Pa. The article quotes the GIs on Saddam's eating preferences — Raisin Bran Crunch was his breakfast favorite. "No Froot Loops," he told O''Shea. He ate fish and chicken but refused beef at dinner. For a time his favorite food was Cheetos, and when those ran out, Saddam would "get grumpy," the story says. One day the guards substituted Doritos corn chips, and Saddam forgot about Cheetos. "He''d eat a family size bag of Doritos in 10 minutes,"
My Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), clearly has lost his marbles.
Maybe it was the moose traipsing through his Kenai Peninsula homestead. Maybe it was the sighting of bear tracks nearby, but something has made the boy snap.
How do I know this? I got this e-mail from him:
These pictures are being forwarded to the ATLANTA JOURNAL, ST. PETE TIMES , BRADENTON HERALD AND THE TAMPA TRIBUNE.
Hello to the Lower 48, a message from The Bush Country in ALASKA:
AS YOU KNOW IN RECENT YEARS A GIRL BY THE NAME OF "SHANIA TWAYNE" CHANGED THE WORLD OF "COUNTRY MUSIC", A SHOCKING EVENT THAT SENT DOLLY PARTON, LORETTA LYNN AND HUNDREDS OF OTHER OLD TIME COUNTRY SINGERS TO THE GRAVE YARD------SO NOW IT IS UP HERE IN THE SNOW COVERED MOUNTAINS OF ALASKA, BUSH COUNTRY, ONETIME RUSSIAN DOMAIN THAT THIS DARING LADY KNOWN AS "MRS CECILE BORIS" BORN AND BROUGHT UP IN THE HEATLAND OF SOUTH CAROLINA DARED TO CHANGE THE DRESS CODE FOR ALL TIME NOT ONLY HERE IN SOUTHEAST ALASKA BUT ALL THE WAY TO THE ARTIC CIRCLE, EVEN UP TO THE NORTH POLE. THESE ARTISTIC SANDLES MADE BY MRS BARBARA ANDERSON OF MARRIETA GEORGIA ARE IN SUCH DEMAND AND SUPPLY IS SO MINIMUM THAT THE ORIGINAL PRICE ROSE FROM 3.92 CENTS A PAIR ALL THE WAY TO 4.57 CENTS A PAIR.
LADIES, YOUR PERMANANT FUND CHECK WILL BE ARRIVING SOON. INSTEAD OF A TRIP TO HAWAII, WHEN AVAILABLE, FILL YOUR LIFE AND DREAMS WITH THESE "CROKETERSON SANDLES." YOUR HUSBANDS WILL NEVER NEED TO BUY VIAGRA AGAIN. ONE LOOK AND -- LETS GET READY TO ROLL.
SEND MONEY- NO CHECKS, CASH OR CREDIT CARDS WILL BE ACCEPTED.,
P.S. - ADD 12 CENTS SHIPPING CHARGES.
I don't know whether I should laugh at the thought of sandals as a marital aid, put in an order or call the Peninsula sheriff's office to have the wild man committed under the Baker Act.
I'm absolutely devastated that the Tribune was last on his list of recipients. When we get scooped by the St. Pete Times, I hope my colleagues will consider my lineage in this gross oversight.
PREVIOUS LETTERS FROM ALASKA
|Your IQ Is 125|
Your Logical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional
We're almost 24 hours away from the historic, day-long blogcast of Alan Snel's 160-mile quest to complete the Bill Fox Memorial Ride from the Hudson Valley to Albany, N.Y. in one day.
Alan called in from New York earlier today to say that all lights are green, all systems are go for launch at about 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. Blogging should begin soon after.
Alan reports that news stations along the route have been contacted and at least one in Albany seems poised to capture the drama that this ride will undoubtedly showcase. Also, a photographer will be documenting the ride for Side Salad.
Al is driving from Tampa to New York for the trip. On his way, he stopped in North Carolina to visit Willie Drye, Side Salad's Plymouth, N.C., bureau chief and author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.
Willie files this missive:
I can report that Bicycle Guy blew through Plymouth en route to Baltimore, the next leg of his journey to NYC, Albany and a slice of cyber-immortality.
We were expecting him mid/late afternoon Friday, but he spent Thursday night somewhere between Tampa and Savannah (never did get it straight exactly where), awoke fully charged at some ungodly hour of the extremely early morning, and arrived in northeastern North Carolina around 10:30 a.m. As is the custom here, I took him straight to the front porch for a chat, then he unpacked and assembled his "training" bicycle and sped off down NC Highway 32 for what he called a little "loosening-up" ride. I'm guessing he did 30 or 40 miles because he was gone for a couple hours.
After he showered, we had lunch at the Little Man Drive-In, a local landmark where they still make classic Carorlina-style cheesburgers (mustard, slaw, chili and onions), then we cruised around the swamps in my pickup truck for a couple hours, talking mostly about baseball and writing and Tar Heel basketball and history. Gave him a special tour of the Roanoke River Lighthouse. Then Jane got home from work, cooked chicken curry and rice, and basically loaded up Bicycle Guy with enough carbos to power him through the next leg.
An evening session on the front porch, then he awoke recharged again and blew out of here sometime before sunup. I assume he's now in Bahlamore with his sisiter and brother-in-law, making final preparations for the big day Wednesday.
Al's a special guy, just wanted to let your loyal readers (OK, your mom) know that he cleared the first checkpoint today. Jane and I will be closely following your exclusive blogcast Wednesday.
As I've mentioned before, readers can also stop by Alan's outstanding Web site, Hudsonian, to read about the ride.
A couple weeks ago, I ranted about a guy who had e-mailed to ask that I post photos of women with hairy arms. Seems that I had inadvertantly stoked his fetish by posting what I thought was a disquieting photo of a waitress serving food with what looked like Brazillian rain forearms.
Well, I tagged the boy pretty hard, especially since I more or less confirmed that he worked with kids in the midwest.
(All together now: Ick.)
Anyway, I just happened to check an e-mail today that I get every week from Webshots, the service that hosts my online photo galleries of The Sombrero Project, The King Project, The Mullet Project and The Hulk Hands Project (among many others).
Because I'm blinded by the shiny metal glint that thousands of hits can provide to a gallery, I never bothered to check a link to the gallery's "guestbook,'' where visitors can leave comments.
Out of curiosity, I did so this morning.
Now I'm wishing I hadn't. This is what I found:
On Apr 17, 2005 8:10:42 AM, jockdude wrote:
the "hirsute" waitress is AWESOME!!! do u have ANY more of her w/her sexy hairy arms???!-thanks-Joe
On Mar 3, 2005 8:15:41 AM, sandraslegs wrote: the waitress w/the hairy arms was VERY cool-she looked great-I wish women wouldn't wax their arms!
On Oct 26, 2004 8:23:30 AM, dalecov wrote:
m y gawd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! can u get more of the pics of the AWESOME hairy-armed waitress WOW HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To answer them all, no. No, I can't. No, I won't. No, I shan't.
Out of curiosity, I clicked on jockdude's gallery, expecting a vomit-inducing display.
Instead I found this photo:
Friday nights have been hard ever since, because that was when we did our "sit outs" each week. Everyone would bring their chairs and a favorite beverage and sit and chat in one of our driveways and decompress from the week while the kids ran around like lunatics.
Well, some customs must be maintained...
Then hijinx ensued. Someone started begging for the sombrero. Then someone else clamored for the mullet. Before you know it, it was a full-fledged hootenanny.
And apparently our new neighbors, Patrick and Autumn, are game for our brand of stupidity:
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have set a new world record for simultaneous sombrero wearing in Florida:
That's 10 - count 'em - 10 sombreros in one very small El Taco Nazo restaurant.
It's a breathtaking sight to behold. And a photo that will go down in the pantheon of The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco) as among the most impressive feats ever captured on a compact digital storage disc.
Speaking of sombreros and restaurants, I've been meaning to mention that Rommie came back from Alaska with quite a find during his tour of Juneau, the state capital:
As much as I love Juneau - I'd live the rest of my life there, if I could - and as much as I love sombreros, it's hard to think that I'd have the willpower to stay away from eating there for every meal.
But then, sometimes I share too much.
Stumbled across this hilarious press release yesterday:
THE RETURN OF MICHAEL FLATLEY: EMBARGOED INFORMATION UNTIL JUNE 27TH, 2005
Michael Flatley, the original star and choreographer of Riverdance and creator of Lord of the Dance is coming out of retirement to launch his new tour "The Celtic Tiger" - his new and powerful dance spectacular.
Masterful solo performances by Michael Flately (dancing for the first time in 4 years) and the large cast of dancers who excel in the art of precision, skill and movement take this production to a new level of performance.
With the symbolic use of the Celtic Tiger, a phrase that was coined to symbolize the new Economic Ireland, Michael Flatley sets out to dramatize the essence of being Irish through the use of powerful imagery, dynamic music and dancing that once again pushes the boundaries of traditional dance.Given the unbelievable success of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance - this new tour is sure to set the world into yet another dance frenzy.
EMBARGOED INFORMATION UNTIL JUNE 27TH, 2005. Tour dates/cities TBD.
First, as for the embargo, I fart in your general direction.
Second, I don't know about the rest of the world, but I know that news of Mr. Flatley's return sent My Muse into a tizzy.
PREVIOUS PRESS RELEASES FROM HELL
Maybe it was the fact our friends moved to Hawaii and we longed for the islands.
Maybe it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing.
Maybe it was the fact all the tiki stuff was half-price at this store in the mall.
Whatever it was, it inspired Salad Boy and myself to purchase a couple grass skirts and go strolling through the mall.
Loved the look on the face of the girl behind us:
With that display of public stupidity in mind, we ask this important question:
This explains why he kept throwing the Hail Mary last year.
Jolie, we love you too, babe.
We're at T-minus 6 days and counting until the Bill Fox Memorial Bike Ride.
You might recall that Side Salad has negotiated world rights to do the first international blogcast of a long-distance, one-day bike race from the Hudson Valley to Albany, N.Y.
We'll be blogging with frequent updates and photos of the ride as Alan Snel files dispatches during his 160-mile trip.
Great post by Ed Page at Danger Blog about his brush with celebrity while seeing the Conan O'Brien show.
Seems Ed had tried a couple times to get standby tickets and finally got in, only to sit on the front row:
Then the guy who plays Preparation H Raymond on the show came out and did the warm-up. He was really quick and funny. He asked some people where they were from and that kind of thing, but it wasn't corny like you'd think it would be. He was hilarious.
Then Conan came out and interacted with the audience. It was about 5:15 at this point, and the show started taping at 5:30. Conan's face was a veil of makeup. He had a lot of energy and was tossing off hilarious jokes left and right.
Then he looked right at me and asked if I was excited to be there (or some such thing; I don't remember exactly what he said). Then he said something like, "Excited enough to dance?" So then he had me stand up and the two of us danced to the music the band was playing. I threw myself into the spirit of the thing and really went kind of wild.
Conan stopped me, saying, "Whoa! What was that??" Then he said, "Oh man. That took guts. Give me a hug. I love you, man!" I hugged him and said, "I love you, dude!" into his ear. Conan said, "Let's hold the hug until it starts to get really awkward and the audience starts getting creeped out." So we held it and held it.
Finally, the hug ended and Conan had me go hug some other man in the audience. Later, Conan had another male audience member hug Max Weinberg. Conan must have been in a real huggy mood that day.
Ever have one of those moments when you see something in a movie and it reminds you of something in real life, but you have no idea what it is?
It's happening to me after seeing this photo:
It's right on the tip of my tongue. So strong... I can almost hear the voice...
I don't know whether Michael Jackson was guilty or not. I didn't peruse the evidence, nor sit on the jury. And I certainly didn't watch the E! re-enactments every night. I know what my gut tells me, but that's not saying much.
But I have to say that no one throws a post-apocalyptic freak show like California. The lady who released a dove for every not-guilty verdict? The guy who painted his hand silver? The only one missing was the John 3:16 guy in the rainbow wig.
That psychotic band of nutjobs made the goofballs in the Schiavo throng look like amateurs. To paraphrase The Cheesemistress: "There are a lot more people in the world than there needs to be."
Unlike the Rodney King verdict, there were no riots this time. But I did hear that some toddlers overturned a Tonka truck over at the Toys R Us in Santa Maria.
I believe in my heart that there are times in life when consumption can help you attain a spiritual purpose, when pursuit of ultimate gratification can overwhelm the soul with fulfillment and become a grail unto itself. Then again, it depends on what you're consuming.
And since I'm all about consumpting myself to the pinacle of gratification, (motto: Big Truck, Big House, Big Dog, Big Kid, Big Bed, Big Me, Big Life), I thought I'd go with my friend Rommie on Friday to a place in east Tampa we'd heard about named Frank's Fast And Best Sandwich Shop. We'd heard this place had a 2-pound hamburger on the menu. We had to see that freak show with our own eyes.
Near the corner of 50th Street and 7th Avenue, Frank's isn't much bigger than a shotgun shack. I don't think the place has more than 10 booths/tables inside.
You don't spell it, son. You eat it.
Before we could reply, she answered for us.
"Nah. You'll only want one basket."
How right she was. I think Rommie and I only ate one token fry each.
Band name: Token Fry.
Little did we know we were being joined in the dining room by a celebrity:
Care to dispute that fact?
Rommie said this reminded him of an Animal Planet show, "When Predators Attack."
Damn thing should have been served with a defibrillator and a diaper.
After all, we needed to bring the antlers back to camp for proof of the kill.
An aside: Is it me or does Rommie's face in this photo resemble a Russian icon?
Okay. Maybe it's just me.
You'll have to excuse my hallucinations. It's the burger talkin.'
Later the next day, I got this e-mail from Rommie:
Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2005 7:20 PM
Subject: 29 hours ...
… after my first bite, I have finally finished the Monster Burger.
Pure chewing satisfaction indeed.
:::rubbing my hands, hunching my back:::
My evil scheme is working.
Lemings are being drawn to the Salad Bowl with the promise of finding fulfillment for those using these search terms:
Next I'll promise them cheap pharmaceutical "enhancement" pills, only to give them shots of stupid vehicles seen in traffic and my Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose). They will leave frustrated, but I will have captured their mouse click.
:::holding backhanded pinky up to my lips:::
Last weekend we said goodbye to our neighbors Drew and Susan and their boys. This weekend, it was more of the same.
Our neighbors Mike and Autumn and their kids Austin, Travis, Elayna and Peyton moved away to Greensboro, N.C. on Friday. Longtime readers of the Salad Bowl (that's you, mom) might remember this entry introducing the happy couple on April 18, 2004:
There are two types of people in the world: people who were made to wear mullet wigs and those who were made to wear sombreros. Mike and Autumn have clearly found their correct niches.
That party would lead to a whirlwind romance, one that led the two of them to engagement and relocation.
But not before engaging in some horseplay and hijinx. Such as when Autumn came by on Cinco de Mayo of that year to borrow a sombrero.
Here's the scenerio:
Time: 8 a.m.
Date: May 5
Scene: A knock on my door
Action: I open the door to see my neighbor Autumn, who is dating my other neighbor, Mike.
Dialogue: "Mike has a Cinco de Mayo party today and wondered if he could borrow your sombrero.''
Sure, I say, no problem, since I have two.
I give her a new one I bought just for the day.
I go back in the house, discover my other sombrero is M.I.A.
I then realize I will be sombrero-challenged the entire day. That's a bad, bad realization to have on Cinco de Mayo. Take my word.
Then there was the time when Mike attempted to tong Drew's head on the grill during Fourth of July festivities:
Mike's affinity for fireworks was shared by Drew and myself.
I knew Mike and I would be friends when I saw him unleash a foot-long match-shaped lighter that night.
For Mike's explosives, this was a match made in heaven. His son Austin was mightily amused.
In fact, Mike left me a bag of mortars and other gunpowder nasties on Friday because the moving company wouldn't take them. I considered it a high honor that he would entrust me with their safe keeping.
It didn't hurt that our kids became great friends, too. Their lovely children were always up for playing with my son.
Mike and Autumn also were more than game for an embarassing photo or two. I appreciated that. Especially after Grace and I found this bottle in a nearby liquor store:
Mike also had a great idea for cleaning up the fireworks shrapnel after each year's blow out:
I call this suburban holiday ballet the Dance Of The Men With Their Leaf Blowers.
So it was with great sadness that we said goodbye to them on Friday.
We'll miss all of them terribly, but we know that they're going to love their new home in Greensboro and that they'll find great happiness there.
Our best wishes go out to them.
Let's pass on the right. Uhuru, Sulu, attempt to establish contact with the vessel.
PREVIOUS ADVENTURES IN TRAFFIC
Just two good ol' boys.
Nicotine is my crash helmet.
Jazz hands moms.
Ugly lug nuts.
My honor student can kick your ass.
Horse and buddy.
My Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), sends along this photo and note:
Mike's Potato Patch. From last night, you can see the claw and pad marks in the soil. BEAR IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD!!!
Hmmmm, we better be careful.
Uh, yeah. You might.
There's no telling when Gentle Ben is gonna want a side of uncle with his curly fries.
(For a larger version of the above photo, click here.)
PREVIOUS LETTERS FROM ALASKA
By the looks of my visitor registry, there's a whole passel of Rain Men out there definitely looking for, definitely looking for:
A. Pics/photos/video/etchings of race car driver Danica Patrick, either clothed, unclothed naked, nude, semi-nude, driving a car in her bikini or wearing a burlap sack.
B. Pics/photos/video/etchings of alleged actress/singer Jessica Simpson, either clothed, naked, nude, semi-nude, holding hands with the methadone-treatment-appearing Johnny Knoxville or washing a car in her bikini or wearing a burlap sack while singing "These Boots Are Made For Walking" next to what appears to be a scraggly wax monolith of Willie Nelson.
C. Photos of broken female fingernails.
First I'd like to say, y'all are freaks. Climb out from under the sink, take your thorazine and do something with your lives that involves non-threatening human contact. Especially you Lee Press-On fetishists. I've got no time for you, but maybe someone out there in the world will. Try the bus station. I hear the cream chipped beef is great there.
Second, I feel the need at some point to act as an enabler, especially when I consider that my satisfying gutteral and disgusting urges brought on by your manic and misplaced obsessions could lead to at least a mild level of observational comedy on my end. And, after all, this blog is all about me. Or it should be. Or not. But definitely one of the two.
So, you know, here you go. Here's your heroin speedball. I hope you can live with youselves. These women aren't my cup of tea, but that's not really the point here, is it? I'm just the Singapore-level-me-love-you-long-time slut for blog traffic here, scratching your back while you click on mine. (Not really, I'm just hoping that the words "slut," "thorazine," "naked," "Jessica Simpson" and "Danica Patrick" show up in someone's browser search.)
Jessica Simpson: courtesy of The Superficial (Hey, why shouldn't I send you to the source, yanno? At least he'll get the ad money): here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Oh, and you can see the raccoon-eyed skeezix's video for that ridiculous song by clicking here.
Main man Vern. V-E-R-N. Who's on first? Yeah.
My friend Shona (pictured above, far left, on the night after my last day as city editor of the Fort Pierce Tribune) e-mailed me today after a long absence. And she did it from a new e-mail address that included her birth name, Tashonda.
I had never heard her use that name. So when she confessed to hating that name, I, of course, insisted on mocking her and threatening to put it on my blog.
Which I am now doing:
Sorry, Shona, had to be done, babe.
Sing along with me, my peoples...
...back in the saddle againnnnnnnn...
Yes, we're less than a week into hurricane season and what do we have? Our first major storm of the year.
Ain't this fun? Again?
Hello? Phhhhhhhhh. :::taptaptap::: Is this thing on?
Granted, some people in Pensacola and thereabouts are in for a little more than just a ruined weekend, but Arlene, pardon my French, is an ill-timed bitch of a storm.
She's not strong enough to inspire fear. She's not weak enough to ignore. She's mostly just a major nuissance and one we'd rather delay here in Florida until as late as possible, thank you very much.
MIAMI -- Forecasters said Arlene, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named tropical storm, could become a weak hurricane before making landfall in the Deep South late Saturday.
Arlene was then expected to move northward along the Mississippi-Alabama line, possibly reaching Tennessee by Sunday afternoon.
Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches were posted from Florida's Panhandle to Louisiana's southeastern tip, as Arlene's top sustained winds reached 70 mph, up from 45 mph earlier in the day. The wind speed was likely to increase, but forecasters said the biggest impact would be heavy rain.
Arlene would become a hurricane if its sustained winds hit 74 mph.
It's not that I'm ungrateful for the rain. Not in the least. My flowers and grass are soaking it up like Jason Giambi absorbs creatine.
But we've had a week solid of rain. My grass has more moisture than Whitney Houston's upper lip.
Mostly I just want the memory of last year's onslaught of storms to go away. And I know it won't. And Arlene isn't helping much at the moment.
...and his name is Lt. Col. Drew Meyerowich.
Congratulations go out to our great friend and now ex-neighbor on taking comand of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry.
It's been a long path from Drew's days as a West Point cadet, a path that's taken him to Somolia, Afghanistan, Iraq and the treacherous backwaters of Valrico, but he's found a well-earned home back in Hawaii.
Before he and the family left, we took them on a little tour of the Bay area, including:
And we couldn't let them leave without:
We added another denizen to The Sombrero Project (and its subsequent parts (Dos, Tres and Quatro and Cinco), on Thursday, taking new colleague Chris with us to El Taco Nazo to baptize her in the waters of the Mexican hat cult.
Naturally Brother Rommie and Sister Andrea joined us:
It had been a while since Rommie and I had been able to pry away from the allure of a full-contact occular buffet near work, so it was especialy delicious to see that the atmosphere and clientele hadn't changed.
(Love the tribal tat and the gingerbread accoutrement.)
Surely the strip mall across the street on Hillsborough has to be among the best in terms of variety of businesses.
In one little place you can find...
What kinds of things? Flowers and "curtain,'' of course.
Right next door is...
Feeling out of touch? Then drop by...
And if you still need a trim after getting past Heidi's, go next door to...
From time to time, I've alerted to the newest shirts available over at T-Shirt Hell.
You might remember these two faves:
Well, it turns out that running a t-shirt operation that jokes about pedophilia, religious desecration and illegitimate babymaking has a bit of a dark side to it.
About a month ago, the Worse Than Hell section of shirts - none of which I have posted in the Salad bowl (they're that bad) - was removed from the site with only vague explanation.
And there seems to be a bit of a story behind all the shifting:
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 7, 2005—Las Vegas based internet company T-Shirt Hell.com made a name for itself by selling t-shirts that no other site would dare to offer. They had shirts that satirized 9/11; racial and religious stereotypes; even the recent Tsunami. Last month, they took down their most offensive shirts and went as far as to issue an apology. Today, those same shirts are available, again. Why the sudden change of heart, and change of heart, again?
Founder, Owner, and President Aaron Schwarz released the following statement: “Towards the end of April I believe an attempt was made on my life. This was not an idle threat: this was a trip to the emergency room. The doctors tell me that whatever I ingested, it came close to killing me.”
“I believe the motivation behind the attack was the ‘Worse Than Hell’ section of my website.” said Schwarz. “Someone was so offended; they decided I deserved to die or to at least be seriously hurt.” Unfortunately for Schwarz, the list of people with that motive includes just about everyone on the planet. “Who have I offended?” asked Schwarz. “How much time do you have?”
“I took down ‘Worse Than Hell’ because we needed some time to sort things out.” said Schwarz. “I was concerned for the safety of my family and my employees. So, we let everybody know what happened and that the stakes had been raised. Anybody who didn’t want to stay was free to go. With the exception of one employee, everyone has decided to stick it out. My family and friends have supported the decision to bring the shirts back.”
“I take great comfort from the fact that my employees and my family stood behind me. We’ve also received an enormous amount of support from our fans. Most continued to shop with us while they called us cowards and sellouts. That was nice, too.”
Schwarz is sticking with one change he announced last month: that is his desire to help those less fortunate than himself. “Which is pretty much everybody.” jokes the millionaire entrepreneur. He is still going to donate up to 30% of his profits to charities that are involved with the groups, and events he satirizes on his site, as well as groups that support free speech.
"I’ve decided that I'm willing to be a martyr for freedom of speech and even though I may be risking my life, it’s a chance I’m willing to take for a philosophy I believe in." said Schwarz. "If people can’t take a joke, that’s their problem. What I do is comedy. I have no ill intentions, just a passionate, crude sense of humor. If someone wants to kill me over a funny t-shirt, so be it."
Comedy Central should make this into a made-for-cable movie. You heard it here first.
Here's some disturbing news:
NEW YORK … Who would have thought TV viewers would have been intrigued by the idea of Evander Holyfield learning to dance or A Flock of Seagulls and Loverboy singing anything?
ABC's "Dancing With the Stars'' had a surprisingly strong debut last week as a reality-filled summer television season began. The show was seen by 13.5 million viewers, second only to a ""CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'' rerun as the most-watched prime-time program of the week, according to Nielsen Media Research.
NBC's "Hit Me Baby One More Time,'' which took has-been music stars and gave them another chance at the spotlight, ranked No. 17. But it was the week's most popular show among 18-to-49-year-olds, giving slumping NBC its first victory since January in the demographic it once dominated.
As someone who watched "Hit Me" - and I mean every last second of the first show - I can't imagine why it was such a hit...
Summer's definitely here. It's 123 percent humidity all the time. Temps are over 90 by noon. And the normal 4:45 p.m. rainstorm cycle has begun.
All that water makes for a very healthy flower bed at the International House of Salad, where we've been growing...
A year ago this week, Tampa was celebrating the Stanley Cup victory by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I was as caught up as anyone in the hoopla.
I sat outdoors to watch television with thousands of other crazy people. I had strangers sending me photos of people in Calgary getting drive-by tattoos on their buttocks. I was lucky enough to go to Game 5 of the finals. I saw friends carve lightning bolts into their scalps. I watched Game 6 roll into the wee hours of the morning. I hung out outside Game 7 of the finals. I ate good-luck Mexican food on their behalf. I went to the victory parade. Almost got run over by the Stanley Cup.
This year? Well, there's been no hockey to cheer on because of a lockout that smeared away what should have been the Lightning's victory lap season. All I know is, the kids aren't doing this any more. That's the biggest loss here.
In the place where jubilation once prevailed, there was a victory celebration of sorts yesterday on the anniversary of the Game 7 finals win.
But it didn't much feel like a party.
The Lightning hosted a free lunch in the plaza of The Forum That Dare Not Speak Its Name. I went over to take a look.
Saw this truck westbound on the Crosstown Expressway yesterday. I've seen the Ford F-150 a couple times before tooling around Brandon and have always puzzled at some of it's odd symbolism. Such as:
What's next? A plastic prostate perched on the antenna?
Had some time to kill at the mall the other day, so I went hunting for weirdness with my camera phone.
Oh, the big game I bagged...
Interesting fantasy for men who are pushing a 60-year-old wheelbarrow uphill.
Biggie Smalls incense? Not a chance.
PREVIOUS CRAP SAFARIS
A couple years ago, some friends invited me along to assist in conducting a very scientific experiment in which we tried to find the best chicken wing restaurants in Tampa Bay during football season.
This effort, which we dubbed the Asses of Fire tour, nearly killed our intestinal tracts but was so far beyond enjoyable that it was worth every bite. We documented the entire effort on digital photos that were posted here and here.
Included in that documentation was this shot:
Zoom in a little closer and you can see that our server had some follicular issues:
Well, a lot has happened since then. Almost two years hence, the lining of our stomach has repaired as much as possible. We've moved on to ingesting far more harmful dietary intoxicants. And yes, we found the best wings in Tampa Bay.
But the gallery remains online. And like all photo galleries, it attracts some who might be considered a tad unstable.
My proof: I got an e-mail yesterday from this gentleman:
On June 6 [name withheld for privacy reasons] viewed your album entitled "Asses of Fire Part II" and wrote:
Is there ANY chance u could get more pics of the hairy armed waitress or please email me at [e-mail address withheld for privacy reasons] - tell me where she works and I WILL go there --she is AWESOME!!!! thanks
Morbid curiousity being what it is, I ran his screen name through the search engine at Webshots and found a trove of music program photos taken at a high school in Oklahoma.
I saw a name for that school on one of the t-shirts in the photos and traced that school through Google. Then I clicked on the list of faculty and found a name for a music teacher whose initials match the ones in the e-mail.
Now, I don't know who this gentleman is. I'm not sure if I've actually tracked the right guy, but my previously hot-wing-stained gut tells me I'm correct.
I'm not going to reply to this gentleman's e-mail. The photo we took of the kind and gentle waitress was an accidental treasure trove of wing-related comedy, and I'm certainly not going back to the restaurant to take more photos. That would make me a stalker and a freak. Kind of like a music teacher who would ask for photos of a waitress and disclosure of her establishment so that he could fly across country to meet her himself. Key disclosure: Neither I nor my compadres have returned to that restaurant since our previous meal.
(It's at this point I usually state how proud this guy makes me to be a man.)
What I think I'll do instead is go ask the guy at the office with the hairiest arms on the planet, real "Planet of the Apes" opera gloves, and send those anonymously to him every day for a week from a blind Google account. Maybe even use the e-mail address of HirsuteLovinMusicTeechInOkie@gmail.com.
Would this make me a bad person?
Everything was going okay on Sunday during lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Brandon when we noticed something about the fish in the tank behind our table.
The fish had, uh, something on it's lip.
Aw, man. Fish got the herp.
That's just not appetizing.
But it was ripe for imitation.
A dollop of sweet-and-sour sauce and, viola!
Which, of course, begat a similar imitation with watermelon by Mini Me.
Been cleaning out a few file cabinets in the Garage du Salade this weekend. Found a few interesting trinkets, not the least of which was this token of esteem from a previous news staff I commanded.
Seems they were a little taken aback by my rather purposeful direction, so they had the graphics boy draw up this poster:
Naturally, I declared a news jihad on their asses.
I've been seeing a great deal of your recent advertising campaign that focuses on a new style of skirt your retail outlets are offering.
Anyway, I'd like to thank you for taking an already messed-up song, Rick James' hit "Super Freak," and transforming it into a bastardized, weak-sauce rendition with the tag line, "Super Skirts."
And while I applaud you and your advertising agency for their efforts to break new ground in the field of poolside choreography, I feel the need nonetheless to make one simple request:
Next time, screen your dancers for speech impediments. One of your semi-immersed rhythmic movement interpretators appears to be singing the lyrics, "Thooper Freak, Thooper Freak."
This may very well be the perfect press release:
Sent: Friday, June 03, 2005
Subject: Positive Dialogue Response
Thought you'd find this of interest on Dawn Barnes, known as the "Martha Stewart of Karate" - who has created a system called "positive dialogue response," a breakthrough interdisciplinary parenting technique used in schools to inspire self esteem and motivate children with praise rather than fear.
Barnes, who the Director for Children's Education for NAPMA (National Association of Professional Martial Arts), developed the technique at her own Karate Kids, the largest chain of children's karate schools in the country.
The themes are also present in her new graphic novel now out via Scholastic, THE BLACK BELT CLUB (which is now being produced into a major motion picture by Spielberg producers Romano-Shane ("Catch Me If You Can", "I Robot")).
Dawn is and has recently joined forces with the not-for-profit organization Kids Kicking Cancer, which teaches martial arts philosophy and meditation skills to children diagnosed with cancer. Here are a couple links: www.dawnbarnes.com, www.theblackbeltclub.com
Consider the touch points this announcement hits:
* Powerful "Martha Stewart of Karate" metaphor, combining self-defense technique and the doyenne of domesticity.
* Use of baffling "breakthrough interdisciplinary parenting technique" terminology meant to impart authoritative command and discovery of new techniques.
* Use of NAPMA acronymn, inferring that the reader should know what the hell that stands for, just before treating you like Rainman by spelling it out for you as the National Association of Professional Martial Arts.
* Citation of hot Hollywood source material du jour: the graphic novel.
* Subtle droppage of "Spielberg" name as a way of associating filmmaking excellence with disciplinary acumen, ignoring the fact that "Catch Me If You Can" and "I, Robot" each emitted giant sucking sounds from a screenwriting point of view. Use of the solitary "Steven" would have seemed too chummy, akin to mentioning "Bobby DeNiro."
* Using the emotional cancer crowbar to infer that whomever is reading this release would be denying resources to disease-stricken children if this information is not used in a public forum.
PREVIOUS PRESS RELEASES FROM HELL
PREVIOUS SEPARATED AT BIRTH:
Katie Couric and the Florida Rockfish
The Bill Fox Memorial Bicycle Ride on June 21, which we broke the news of earlier this week, is starting to pick up a little publicity. The Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club already updated its Web site to include the 160-mile ride.
The club consists of over 700 members who live and cycle in the greater Capital District area of eastern New York State. They sponsor road rides and also mountain bike rides within an 80-mile radius of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area.
You might recall that the ride will be blogcast live here in the Salad Bowl, which has negotiated exclusive rights to the event in a cooperative multimedia crossover in coordination with Hudsonian.com.
...the new summer hairstyles are in:
The Hitler comparisons are getting way outta control lately. So much so that Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities compiled them into a hilarious list titled: In the future, everyone will be Hitler for 15 minutes.
What else does the future hold? According to any number of variations on the cliche, everyone will be...
I can never remember which is which:
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- With her fiance at her side, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks pleaded no contest Thursday to faking her own abduction and was sentenced to probation, community service and a fine.
``I'm truly sorry for my actions and I just want to thank Gwinnett County and the city of Duluth,'' a weeping Wilbanks said in court.
Judge Ronnie Batchelor sentenced her to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service as part of a plea bargain.
June 2, 1992
Everyone in central Florida has been hearing a lot about Sheikra, the new drop-coaster at Busch Gardens.
Amid the din, they may not have heard about Kingda Ka at Six Flags in New Jersey. I had, but I hadn't seen any video of the ride until I tripped over it at Apsey's.
Click here to see a rider's-eye view of the trip.
My Uncle Pete, (yes, the one who was in the paper posing with a potato he grew that was shaped like a moose), sent me another batch of photos from Alaska.
Just a few pix to let you know the Sun Shines here too. Soon our roads and hill sides will be covered with bautiful Blue Lupin. It grows wild and usually comes after billions of Dandelion plants growing wild also. Someone got a good recipe for Dandelion. We can get rich. The roadsides fields and forests are covered in beautiful Yellow Flowers. Wild Geraniums will come next and then Fireweed. Daiseys, Panseys and wild Iris and lots of others about to pop open.
PREVIOUS LETTERS FROM ALASKA
Either that or the weather guys spilled ketchup and mustard on the screen.