Long ago and not so very far away, a family night out would be a fifteen-mile drive up U.S. 101 on the Oregon Coast, past Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park to the A&W drive-in just as the highway entered Seaside. The A&W featured car service, so our two young daughters could enjoy their burgers in the comfort of the back seat.
The Seaside A&W is long gone. A McDonald’s thrives nearby, testament to effective advertising and rigid uniformity. A&W restaurants are still around, but fewer than half as many as there were in the seventies. Continue reading “100 Years of A & W Root Beer”
If you are really old, you may remember Olympia Beer and the tagline “It’s the Water.” Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman and Clint Eastwood are a few of the stars who were pictured onscreen drinking Olympia. It also was my Uncle Roger’s favorite beverage. The brewery advertised its product as being brewed using water from artesian wells.
Olympia and Rainer breweries both shut down long ago.
A wet spring has forecasters predicting a less-than-normal fire season in New England. Same in Colorado; they’re hoping the heavy winter snowpack will slow wildfires this summer. The outlook for the West Coast, which also had a wet spring and record snowpack, is not so optimistic. The National Interagency Fire Center issued its report which said precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and California resulted a heavy crop of grasses and other vegetation that will likely be dried out by summer, providing fuel for wildfires.
On cue, a week after the report was released, a wildfire in Central Oregon destroyed a home in La Pine and damaged another. Oh, and 145,000 acres are burning right now in eastern Russia.
Although the stable genius is on record that climate change is a hoax, state government authorities, including Colorado, are planning and budgeting for longer and more severe fire seasons as the new normal. Meanwhile, in Santa Rosa California, where more than 5,000 homes burned in 2017, rebuilding is underway. The certainty of another fire is not stopping property owners from rebuilding their McMansions on the hills of Fountaingrove overlooking the city. (A fire of almost the exact same dimensions burned the area in 1964, before any homes were there.)
Our esteemed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo won’t use the words “climate change,” but he recently did state that melting Arctic ice was a good thing: “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new naval passageways and new opportunities for trade, potentially slashing the time it takes for ships to travel between Asia and the West by 20 days. Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century’s Suez and Panama Canals.” He also didn’t mention how the changing climate has made subsistence farming near-to-impossible in Guatemala, resulting in the caravans of people headed our way.
Perhaps less devastating, unless you’re a third-generation family farmer or not a fan of high-fructose corn syrup, is the declining maple syrup production, a result of shorter winters.
The 17,216th – and last – performance of “Beach Blanket Babylon” is scheduled for December 31. Claiming to be the longest-running musical revue anywhere, the show began in the back room of a San Francisco bar in 1974. It quickly became popular and moved to its current location, the Club Fugazi at 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard (formerly Green Street). The show became a Bay-area institution, lampooning an ever-changing cast of celebrities and politicians, local, national and world. This year’s production features House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Russian President Vladimir Putin, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the current occupant of the White House.
“Beach Blanket Babylon” attracts locals and tourists, and locals with their out-of-town guests. If you saw last year’s show, that doesn’t mean you’ve seen this year’s. It changes regularly, keeping current with the world’s buffoonery. The show’s plot, such as it is, follows Snow White on her quest for Prince Charming. She treks around the world, encountering a variety of characters, such as Elvis or Michelle and Barack or Stormy Daniels. The 1981 show even featured in the cast Annette Funicello – star of the movie that inspired the title.
The spectacle is a frenetic series of costume changes and outrageous headgear, culminating in a musical finale that features a fourteen-feet-tall, nine-feet-wide hat displaying the San Francisco skyline, which has also changed dramatically over the course of the show’s run.
“Beach Blanket Babylon” is still popular says its producer Schuman Silver, widow of Steve Silver who started the whole thing. “I thought I’d be dead, or something. I never thought I would close the show, ever, in my whole life. But I felt it was time.”
Visiting a “New Orleans Bistro” in a gentrifying neighborhood gave me another reminder that I have gotten too old. I ordered Jambalaya (it was delicious) and added “But no crawfish pie or filé gumbo.” The server’s face was a big question mark, perhaps wondering if unlocking the front door that day had been such a good idea. When I rambled on with something about Hank Williams, she forced a sort-of smile, saying something about putting in the order as she backed away from the table.
It had not occurred to me that not everyone – especially in a Creole/Cajun-themed dining establishment – knows who Hank Williams was.
Anything is possible… for one day anyway. Will the San Francisco Giants continue their year-to-year progress? They finished last season next to last in their division, a marked improvement over 2017 when they had the worst record, not just in their division, not just the National League, but in all of Major League Baseball.