The Father of Oz

Happy Birthday, L. Frank Baum!

Born a sickly daydreamer in Chittenango, NY, he wrote his way across the USA. He raised chickens, he ran/bankrupted a general store, he tried editing a small South Dakota newspaper, he taught theater, and he married the daughter of one of the most famous Suffragettes in her era.

Baum was restless and always writing. His obsession with theater partnered with his finely honed childhood imagination led to one of the most popular series of books of all time. We forget that he did not even publish his first Oz book until he was 44 years old. His financial situation was never particularly stable because even after the books were popular, he would throw money into theater productions of his characters, radio plays, and eventually try early film.

The popularity of the Oz series led him to relocate to Los Angeles eventually. He was the J.K. Rowling of his day. He allowed his books to be adapted into many plays and musicals by anybody who wanted to do it. He dreamed of his characters becoming American Fairy Tales and wanted them to live on. He had no problem having his characters rewritten in a million different voices. Baum dreamed of the day when his characters were so woven into American culture that fan fiction would outlive his originals. I would say he has succeeded in that. Anybody can see that by looking at the Judy Garland ‘The Wizard of Oz’ film, the book and musical ‘WICKED’, and the Wiz.

And still in his lifetime he dreamed of more. He wrote numerous tales and other adventures but nothing could really capture the world’s imagination like the Oz series. He even dreamed of opening an Oz theme park in California in 1905 many years before Disneyland was even a possibility. Do not forget that Walt Disney and his brother did not even get to Los Angeles until 1923. Baum was years ahead of his time and nothing that he tried seemed to work. The highways and car culture were years away at this point so the theme park idea never could get off the ground. Then Baum ran a film production company in Los Angeles around 1910’s with hopes to adapt his tales into children’s films. But the technology was still behind the kind of stories that he wanted to tell. Nothing seemed to click except his Oz characters.

Unfortunately, Baum had a stroke before he could complete his dreams fully. His children’s story empire however did not die. His last official Oz book was “Glinda of Oz”. It was published after his death but the series was continued on by numerous ghost writers for a long, long time. This is similar to the V.C. Andrews name continuing long after her death as well.

L. Frank Baum may not be as popular a name as J.K. Rowling but everybody knows who the Wicked Witch of the West is so I would say he got what he always wanted. A true American Fairy Tale that will live forever.

He is buried in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

L. Frank Baum - writer

An added bonus: here is the dog who played Toto in the film’s memorial.

Terry aka Toto from Wizard of Oz

This one is in the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Terry aka Toto from Wizard of Oz

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Happy Birthday, Bessie!

Happy Birthday to the Empress of Blues! You were an inspiration. Her Wikipedia states she was born April, 15, 1894 but her headstone says it was 1895.

She was not from Philadelphia but she was well loved here. Bessie was born in Tennessee and never stopped moving. Singing and dancing across the nation on the infamous Chitlin Circuit. She did some movies. She lived fast and loved many.

Bessie was a force. She partied hard. Sang like a bird. Slept with men/women. Loved her drink. She was the highest paid black entertainer in her day for a time. Her career spanning vaudeville to Broadway to talkies. But she never stopped touring and singing. She was a force.

Here are some of the items in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame featuring sweet Bessie.

Bessie

I need this poster. I adore Bessie

Bessie Smith

Bessie died from injuries that resulted from a nasty car accident on the Tennessee/Mississippi border while on a tour. Many surmise that she would have lived had the local hospitals not refused her because of her race. Bessie died with very little money, a husband who was mismanaging her finances, and with a legion of fans in the black community. She was moved to Philadelphia where she lived and worked for years. Philadelphia fans raised money and threw Bessie a proper funeral with over 7,000 people attending. Bessie’s death inspired J. D. Salinger’s 1948 story “Blue Melody” and the The Death of Bessie Smith by Edward Albee (1959).

Bessie Smith

Her husband ran off with most her money so her grave did not have a headstone or marker for years until singer Janis Joplin purchased one for her idol. Bessie is buried outside of Philadelphia in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania at Mount Lawn Cemetery. Another famous songbird interred there is Tammi Terrell.

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Much Respect

My dad was a huge Rodney Dangerfield fan so it kind of stuck. We watched all of stand up on television and every single movie that we could get our hands on.

Throwback to when I saw his grave in Los Angeles —

Rodney Dangerfield - There goes the neighborhood

There goes the neighborhood!

So basically, I had to have this as soon as I saw that it existed.

I found it! #boardgames #comedians #comedy #vintage #rodneydangerfield

Ebay is a hell of a place.

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Oxfords for Summer

Hey girl hey

Caterpillar Women’s Worksong Sneaker

These are made by the CAT (Caterpillar) supply company. They do a lot of work boots and industrial stuff. But I found these cute rubber souled tough as nails lady “sneakers”/oxfords from them on Amazon. Gonna go good with my summer dresses. They are rather comfortable so far and are very lightweight while being highly durable. They are more turquoise than the photo makes them appear.

Caterpillar rubber souled oxfords. These are more turquoise than they appear

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December 11 – RIP Bettie Mae Page – Queen of all Pin-Ups

One of my biggest hobbies is cemetery hunting. I like to find unusual gravestones or famous graves of writers/artists/history figures, etc. That’s why when I visited LA, I knew that I had to find Bettie Mae Page. She is buried in Westwood Cemetery in Los Angeles. If you look straight up at the nearest crypts, you have a direct view of Marilyn Monroe’s grave.

RIP Doll.

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Welcome to Love: The Remaining Poconos Honeymoon Resort

My grandparents had a time share in their most favorite place in the world. The Poconos. They were from the era when the Poconos were basically the Christian Catskills. Campgrounds, hiking, camp fires events, and scavenger hunts were all the rage. Vacation communities thrived for a few decades up in the region. It was kitschy and rustic in that DIRTY DANCING kind of way. So naturally, they took me there every single summer too.

I have so many 80’s era hazy Shawnee Inn memories which all feel eerily similar to parts of that film…minus the abortion storyline. It really was so wholesome and white bread from my point of view. Canoeing, swimming, and horseback riding were my main events. We had skating nights where I’d wallflower often. There was BINGO in the Inn where adults could win cheap champagne and kids won Hersey bars. I never won. Strangers would show up and break into mixed groups for Village wide scavenger hunts just to win a cheap ribbon and some cred. People made new summer friends that you never would see again. Everything felt fleeting and this made every minute count. It was all very, very cheesy and felt so iconic and historic. The Inn had been there since the 30s or so and had that classy Hotel New Hampshire kind of feel to it.

Once I relocated to the NE as an adult, I had to go back to the Poconos to see what was happening now. Surprisingly, things are still very much the same but also widely different. Some of the old outlets and scary animal farms remained but many old amusement parks were long gone. Their trails are now turned into parks or just overgrown and gated with guards. A lot of the old Inns disappeared too. Then there are the new shopping centers and chain restaurants that are slowly coming in and sitting along side gaudy places that have been there for generations. They are paired with the new fancy casino and newer resorts that are popping up.

As an adult, I’ve become obsessed with dying Americana, Roadside Attractions, and oddball history in general. Probably, in part because of my involvement in places like the Poconos as a youth. This led me to head back and then I discovered things hidden that I never knew in all my summers there. Sordid things. Things beyond my wildest imagination based on my fun family time there.

This exists in the Poconos and you can stay in a room with it:

Heart shaped jacuzzi. Yeah #poconos #roadtrip #kitsch

A heart shaped jacuzzi that is in the living room of your suite!

This is when I discovered the Honeymoon Hotels. Honeymoon Hotels were an amazing phenomena of the early 60s Mad Men era. They resided in many mountain resort retreats that would take couples to another world but yet are close to home. There were many of these resorts scattered throughout mountain communities in the Poconos and Catskills mostly. They sat in isolated resorts that were designed to be COUPLES ONLY. Many of them had clauses that you had to be legally married or opposite gender couples only too. It seems the ones that still exist dropped a lot of that and have embraced the cheesy and somewhat sleazy element attached to these places. There were outdoor activities, night clubs, restaurants, sport activities, and outdoor pools all designed for couples to get their freak on and hang out with other couples doing the same thing.

Oh yeah, Morris Wilson invented the heart shaped hot tub and IN ROOM SWIMMING POOL and started it all here. So anytime that you’ve had your ass inside a heart shaped tub anywhere in the world, thank the guy who invented the Honeymoon Hotel concept right here in the Poconos. In the 80s, this beautiful Wilson family invented the 7 foot tall CHAMPAGNE GLASS SHAPED HOT TUB that still is used in many of the rooms. That’s the largest draw for people. Apparently, in the 80s, there were even communal ones by the pools but we didn’t see any at our particular resort. I don’t even want to think of what happened here during the swinging era. The towers were all in room only these days from the looks of things. Unfortunately, those rooms are STILL very pricey so we sized down and got the pool with the heart shaped hot tub and pool in the room instead. So that’s another first for Pennsylvania, you guys. The invention of the heart tub, in room pool, and 7ft tall champagne glass hot tub!

Oh yes

My husband and I dubbed the resort: Fuck City.

Or as it’s properly known: Cove Haven Resorts in Lakeville, PA. It’s near the Mt. Airy Casino, Delaware Water Gap, Bushkill Falls, Shawnee on The Delaware. Prime Poconos location. They have three resorts. Cove Haven, Paradise Stream, and Pocono Palace. We stayed in the Paradise Stream resort.

Cove

COME TO BE WOWED

Cove

Get ready for some love.

Cove

The place looks rather unassuming where you go to check in.

The lobby decor is very dated. It looks like the place hasn’t really had anything done to it since the 1990s. But it’s also very clean Lots of friendly staff with flyers all over about events at the place. Many puns. SO MANY PUNS. Prepare for the Puns. Strip Night. Tanlines Bar. Quickys. Also, you can get your picture taken at dinner with this if you want:

Cove

There’s a lot of stuff to do at the resort. They have three different locations too and you can basically hop around and do things at any of them. To be honest, we were just there for seeing the rooms and doing other things in the region so we didn’t experience their horse back riding or volley ball. But from what we saw not many other guests did either.

Cove

There was even mini-golf. But all of the community activities were empty. Pools and hot tubs just running with no one using them. Bars not being attended. It was the middle of August when we went too so this should have had folks hanging out. So it appears people who come to Cove Haven like to keep to themselves a lot…or they’re just not very sporty.

Cove

We drive over to the lot where our rooms are and pass a lot of mini cabins that look like tiny Greek houses with no windows. No where has windows.

This guy greeted us when we parked near our cabin.

Cove

We were in an area riiiight next to the woods. This area gets very dark and loud wood sounds at night but you can’t hear a thing inside the cabins anyway. Just keep that in mind if you are a person who is afraid of that kind of thing though. Because as you can see, everything is basically a cocoon.

Cove

Giant pods just dropped in the middle of the woods.

Cove

Each room is basically a giant wedge in a pie. Think Trivial Pursuit piece.

Cove

We got the Garden of Eden Apple suite. This one was the 2nd most expensive room. Cove Haven has many different rooms and rates. We were aiming for a pool in the room mostly. The champagne tower rooms are most expensive but they don’t seem to have pools inside. Each room comes with free breakfast and dinners as well. You can choose from any of their fine restaurants at all three resorts. The big dinner event is called STRIP NIGHT where you get NY Strip Steak and a show. If you couldn’t drag your tired butts out of bed from all the fucking to make it to breakfast. Do not fear! The QUICKY is here!

Cove

There was a lot of fine entertainment as well like Jim Belushi is coming in November!

Cove

Then of course there are the funniest guys in the Northeast obviously. Don’t tell Louis CK or anyone on SNL.

Cove

We found the nightclub off hours just to get an idea of what kinda venue this was and look at this:

Cove

I really wish these type of nightclubs were still popular! Look at all the seating! Everyone can see! Whatever small dark comedy caves!

So the room. Well, the first thing you see when you open the door is the heart shaped hot tub above. It is right there in the living room area. This features a uncomfortable sofa and chair set and a very dated television. Basically, waterproof deck furniture made to look fancy and technology over a decade old. But who needs TV in FUCK CITY!

Cove

You step down the steps into the bedroom. This room is HUGE. There’s a working fireplace. (You can purchase wood from their gift shop or various grocery stores in the region for cheaper.) Another gigantic decade old television, a mirrored round bed (ours didn’t have a mirror over it for some reason), and an old BOSE radio system and you couldn’t even hook an mp3 player to it. The tech really was the worst. The wallpaper and all of the furniture was very early 1990s too. Clean just dated.

Cove

Mirrors and red carpeting everywhere. The room had a very womblike feel to it. My AT&T phone immediately had NO BARS OR SERVICE as soon as I entered this concrete cave. My husbands Verizon phone one tiny bar when it felt like it. So keep that in mind. There is not going to be much outside contact once you are in the rooms of Fuck City.

Cove

This was my favorite part. The in room swimming pool. This was walled off behind a glass wall/door set up so you can see it from the bed and everything. I guess in case you want to watch someone in the pool do some dirty stuff or something.

Cove

The door at the back of the pool room is a small wooden sauna for two. But since I hate to sweat for any reason at all, we avoided that room and ignored it. I did check inside and couples back to the 80s had carved their names on the wooden walls in there. (Which basically verified to me that this place hasn’t been renovated since the late 80s/early 90s.)

The pool was about 4 feet deep. You couldn’t really do much but float around and swim a lil bit in it. But you could very easily get nasty in it so it definitely was designed properly for the situation.

All in all the bed was decently comfortable. The room was cozy if pricey. The other people seemed to think they were in some fancy place too. It was a very mixed race crowd at breakfast and nobody made eye contact. All heterosexual couples. You could tell people were wearing some of their nicer clothes and acting like they were at some swanky place. We saw a few weird situations too. Like one couple was there an older couple that turned out to be one of their parents. They met up to have breakfast together. So someone at the table was having free bacon and eggs next to their in laws at Fuck City. The food was okay. It was about on par with the old Shoney’s breakfast buffets.

The gift shop had your usual vacation items like keychains, mugs, t-shirts, snacks, lube, and dildos.

Cove

The famous Strip Night in shirt form.

Cove

Honeymooners paradise

Cove

Deadheads and Bikers were around a lot too.

Cove

My souvenir

My classy souvenir

I would say this was a fun experience. It definitely is one of the weirder places that I’ve stayed so far. I don’t think the price is worth it if you aren’t going to be attending any meals or night club events and whatnot. I cannot believe that porn films or boudoir shoots haven’t been filmed in the place yet. (That I know of…) It seems designed for this sort of thing.

I think they have a good thing going here and the place is always booked out a few months. They seem to make money even with the decor and tech being dated. The staff seems well aware of the cheesiness of it all. Everything is said with a wink and a smile almost. If they updated the decor and tech a lot, I think the place could actually attract a larger clientele that would allow them to charge even more for some of the rooms. But I really doubt that will happen considering they are always booked out. I’m just glad the place still exists.

They had a few competitors in the area that have long ago closed down. You can find some of them on photo communities dedicated to abandoned places if you dig a little bit. One of the former Fuck City hotels is now a giant complex for the Poconos school system and houses their Elementary, Middle, and High Schools on the old resort site. I also noticed that along the same street the Cove Haven is located that you can find about FOUR adult novelty and movie stores as well as a few “spas and massage parlors”. This stuff has been hiding in plain site my entire childhood.

So should you stay in Fuck City/Cove Haven? Absolutely, if you can afford it. If you don’t care about the pool, I say splurge and get the Champagne Tower Suite too. Take lots of pictures and have a goofy memory. It definitely will give you a story to tell.

I even found a Youtube video some couple made there so you can see it too. I did not make this video and I do not know these people but they appear to be like most of the couples from breakfast.

Then there is this couple who stayed in the same style room that we did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poiDY1NhE2c

And don’t forget:

Cove

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War of the Worlds Monument – Grover’s Mill, New Jersey

October 30th marks the anniversary of Orson Welles’ famous broadcast of “War of the Worlds”. The legend is a radio broadcast about a small town alien invasion that allegedly drove Americans mad and they took to the streets in fear. Some claim the hysteria was exaggerated yet others claim the panic was real in their neighborhood.

This article states the hysteria legend was a hoax perpetuated by the newspaper industry to smear the newly blooming radio industry.

War of the World's Monument

Welles show was low rated at the time and many say that there was barely a reaction aside from many newspapers preying on the growing anxiety in America prior to World War II. An early ratings grab.

Orson Welles

Grover’s Mill, New Jersey is the small town that is the center of the radio play. Like many small towns, the terror of the legend did not stop them from memorializing the event. I doubt that the monument attracts many visitors anymore or if local folks even realize what it is but I am glad that it’s here. This monument is hidden in the back under some trees and by a small pond. You have to know what you are looking for to find it.

Listening to War of the World's

The park was nicely maintained though and they had some neat artwork on the statue.

Story of War of the World's Broadcast

It marks a time when a small town became part of an international legend in an era when people thought radio would actually do more harm to society than good. People began manipulating the press to bring in big radio ratings. No press was bad press. Old tech was afraid of new tech. A legend that people will hopefully pass on for even longer. Grover’s Mill, New Jersey will keep it going anyway.

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This is awesome.

So I know that I am slack with the whole blog thing and I swear this will change but just hold the phone and look at this amazing thing that I got today.

Look at it.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Oooooooh.

I cannot wait for an excuse to figure out a bitchin’ costume to use this bag. Perfect clutch size for an spooky evening out.

I saw it when Peewee Herman posted it of all things and found it for sale on Amazon.

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