Tuesday, October 30, 2007

He Steals A Base, You Eat A Taco.....

It takes a LOT of nerve to walk into a store and ask the clerk to give you free product.

Fortunately, Barbara behind the counter at the North Charleston Taco Bell at 4:01, knew about the Free Taco offer from 2-5 today (Nov 30) due to the World Series base stealing success by Red Sox rookie Jacoby Ellsbury.

The big surprise: there was no crowd at the store on Rivers Avenue. Well, it WAS after lunch and a little early for dinner. There are 10 stores in Charleston..wonder if there were freebie-seekers at any of the others?

In fact, as I was getting details, a trio came in that had NOT heard about the Free Taco offer and, listening to my story, each was quick to order a crispy 89 cents beef taco.

Like me they also ordered other things..additional tacos, soft drinks, etc.

Barbara DID mention that four other people had been in just after 2pm and two had walked out with just the free taco. Maybe they were disgruntled New York Yankees fans?

The great American Pasttime...free tacos.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

An Honorable Place.....

Washington is filled with monuments, memorials and museums.

The newest one in D.C. - honoring veterans of World War II - was dedicated in 2004.

A 4th Presidential memorial in the District (Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln) was dedicated in 1997 and features four "outdoor rooms" to represent the four terms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. .

One sculpture, entitled "Breadline," is set during the Great Depression and guide books say tourists often step into the line to be part of the picture.

Others like to remove their hat and pose with the bronze gentleman seated at his radio, listening hopefully to an FDR "Fireside Chat."

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1995 and features a squad of 19 men on patrol, wrapped in wind-whipped ponchos in the harsh terrain. A highly-polished wall containing images of unidentifed participants reflects and doubles the stainless steel statues to 38, the exact parallel latitude number that divided the country at the beginning - and the end - of the Korean Conflict.

A smaller replica of the 1982 "WALL" portion of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
has toured around the U.S. bringing the poignant listing of the 58,256 killed/1,200 MIA to citizens everywhere.

The complete memorial includes the The Three Fighting Men, a sculpture of armed combat soldiers looking toward the wall.

The Marine Corps Memorial, dedicated in 1954, is often called the Iwo Jima Statue.

It is over in Arlington Cemetary, along with the Kennedy Eternal Flame and the new Air Force Memorial that was dedicated in 2006, styled after the "bomb burst" jet contrails left by The USAF Thunderbirds.

As an aside, the height of the Washington Monument(dedicated in 1884) is 550 feet and 5/8 inch. Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima is exactly 550 feet high.

Semper Fi.

(Click on pictures to enlarge for detail)

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Monumental Place...

Hey, I just got back from a vacation trip to our Nation's Capital and, while I was there, I remembered that when you write about the actual "building", it is spelled Capitol.

We English majors have a lot of rules and regulations to keep stored in our heads.

All the museums are free in Washington and all of the monuments - being out in the open - do not charge admission either. I probably saved money by being there for a week. Except for the professional hockey game at the Verizon Center where the N.Y. Islanders beat the Caps.

I looked for celebrities but missed the motorcade when President Bush and
the Dali Lama met at the Capitol for a medal presentation.

The guide books said the President always traveled in a motorcade (Or in a Marine helicopter that lifts off the lawn in front of the South Portico.)The view from atop the 550 foot Washington Monument shows off the White House ...as well as the secure fence that keeps anyone from getting too close.
The FDR outdoor park has sections devoted to each of
President Roosevelt's four terms and the Depression era was, well, depressing.

Bronze statues depicted men lined up at a doorway to beg for food and, since we all were wearing hats, I fit right in.
The Iwo Jima Statue, the Marine Corps Memorial, is in Arlington Cemetary between two Metro stops so a cab was needed.

The weather was nice, slightly cool, so outdoor monuments and sights were done until the first cloudy day. Then it was the time to explore the Air & Space Museum in the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court.

The guide at the Library said there were 29 reading rooms and there used to be a backlog to use them.

Apparently the internet has shifted the focus so usually there are seats available now.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Free Broom Parking Outside....

Customer service at my bank is very good.

They are courteous, have a ton of ATM locations and now offer 7-day banking with tellers in Wal-Marts on Saturdays and Sundays. Their marketing techniques are exceptionally good.

When you appeal to all sorts of bank customers, sometimes things can get very seasonal.

I expect to see Santa in there in a few months if he's short of cash and needs a loan.

He's already showing up in Wal-Mart.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Welcome Pinko Commie Visitor...

A recent conversation about the good old college days reminded me of the time in 1961 when a Communist was invited to the campus in San Diego to brag how they had kicked the French out of Vietnam.

I was the official photographer then at the young University of San Diego and quickly became excited that I would probably be the "pool photographer" providing my pictures to not only the Union-Tribune local paper, but also to AP, UPI, Time and Life magazines and... The World! Not bad for a 22-year old former Marine photographer.

Posters popped up all over the College For Men and excited, animated groups clustered in hallways, classrooms and the cafeteria to talk about the commie bast**ds or Freedom of Speech. A Vietnamese priest who taught us French vowed to stand up and debate this Russkie.

Since I was on a photography scholarship I went to my Journalism professor Father Bremner for details on how "we" would handle coverage of this impending international event. He had me close his office door and he explained it was a hoax. I was sworn to secrecy. He wanted to shake up the faculty and students and get them to think.

Well, the students assembled, the phony Commie came up to the stage and remained seated when we all stood up to say a prayer and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He started speaking with a raspy accent and, in a few moments, the young Vietnamese priest was exchanging facts and challenges and my classmates were getting riled up, chanting and taunting...in an early 60s polite student way.

Father Bremner took the microphone and stopped everything to reveal that the "Communist leader" was actually a local DJ called "Happy Hare" (Harry Martin) and they planned to do this at several other schools around the area.

The overall feeling by the students was "we had been had."

John B. Bremner in 1980 wrote "WORDS ON WORDS," a sharp and witty handbook to the ordered tangle of the English language. At that time he was the Oscar S. Stauffer Distinguished Professor of Journalism at the University of Kansas.

I DID have a full page photo published in LIFE in 1964. On an entirely different matter.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Good Old Time Weekend...

Helping to plan my 50th high school Reunion was a great way to meet again with some people I had not seen since graduation back in 1957.

The actual Friday and Saturday gathering was more of the same and some had gone very far. One couple had gone to California and another had gone to New Jersey. Naturally, I asked "what exit?"

These class gatherings are great. I had driven up from Tallahassee for the 35th Reunion and must have liked it a lot ..I moved back here the next year.

Friday night we met on Daniel Island and toured the 8-year old version of our former Bishop England. When the young guide proudly showed us the Computer Science room, one classmate at the back said "Yes, OUR "computer room" was filled with typewriters. Manual ones."

Several people did not recognize me - thank goodness for large-type name badges - but as soon as I held a camera up to my eye, they all said "oh yeah, the school photography guy."

Saturday night we met on Folly Beach for Mass and then walked over to the church hall off Center Street for food, nostalgia and even some shag dancing. Well, SOME people danced, I saved my energy.

Sunday, after the Reunion was over, I drove down to Freshfields Village at the entrance to Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, to enjoy the American Music Celebration staged by Gary Erwin (Shrimp City Slim) of Blues Festival fame.

Keep an eye on this unusual island music venue. Gary announced he plans to bring in a lot of acts there. During the summer, there's music every Friday.

As usual, there was a slate of talented performers and, as a salute to Americana, included a country western trio, "the CEO of Zydeco" from Louisiana, Johnny Rawls and his Southern Review and a finale of Harper, a talented blues singer from Australia.

As Harper blew into a native didgeridoo horn, I raised an Aussie toast with a 25 oz. FOSTER's beer from Melbourne, an old-timer's favourite.

G'day mate.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

The Farmer LEAVES The Dell...

OK, so this story involves a "swap" I made with a farm family in Missouri in the 1970s.

So far, we have seen the "city-slicker" side of the story and now it's time to have Mr. & Mrs. Joe Farmer come to the teeming metropolis of Kansas City!

You probably know that Kansas City has side-by-side twin stadiums for the Royals baseball and Chiefs football clubs. But, did you know there also is opera and fine dining on the Country Club Plaza and that the city has "more fountains than Rome and more boulevards than Paris?"

(Hey..I was the Director of Tourism for the KC Convention & Visitors Bureau so slogans come back easily to me.)

Since my family was going to host and house this couple from the hinterlands for a fun-filled urban weekend, I wanted to repay the kindness they had shown when we huddled beneath their under-construction-house and froze our butts off stomping around their farm dodging cows and pigs.

But, I decided NOT to expose these simple folk to Opera In English and took them to a hockey game. Farmer Joe almost decked the guy sitting behind us who was VERY drunk and using VERY salty language to encourage the players to do better. Joe was more than ready to defend his wife's honor.

The next day I decided to inject some Big City culture and we drove off to the ritzy
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

I wanted them to see Regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton's 1939 PERSEPHONE. Besides, I knew that admission is free every day to view the 33,500 collected objects. Something for everyone.

Well. Joe was impressed. We walked into the massive gallery and he stopped dead in his tracks. He looked up to the lofty ceiling. To the left. To the right. He sighed.

"Man, you could pack a load of hay into THIS place."

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