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“Long May You Run” December 31, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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With the new year, Neil Young‘s performance of this song in 1993 will serve as a message of good wishes to roadies everywhere.

Young’s longtime steel guitar player, Brian Keith, is on dobro. Sharp-eyed folks might see on guitar Nils Lofgren, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and a good solo act in his own right. And Nicolette Larson is one of backing vocalists.

Dining in Albuquerque December 31, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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The Examiner.com provides a decent overview of the wide diversity of cuisines seen in Albuquerque restaurants.

The range is this — New Mexican/Mexican, Native American, Asian, Barbecue, Brazilian and Just Plain Fun. The Route 66 Diner fills the latter.

The article also says there is a “smattering” of Persian, French, and Greek.

So if you can’t find a place in ABQ that suits your tastebuds, you’re not looking very hard.

Last call coming at the Riviera December 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Restaurants.
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Chicago Sun-Times columnist and longtime roadie Dave Hoekstra paid a visit to The Riviera restaurant and roadhouse bar on Route 66 in Gardner, Ill., before it closes after New Year’s Day. Longtime owners Bob and Peggy Kraft, both in their 80s, want to retire and haven’t yet found a buyer for the property.

Go read the whole thing, but I’m gleaning a few tidbits about the Riviera:

  • Peggy will serve her usual spaghetti and fried chicken on New Year’s Eve, along with a holiday special of barbecued ribs. If any food is left, the Riviera will open again on New Year’s Day until it’s gone.
  • Whisperin’ Joe will sing road songs starting at 8:05 p.m. New Year’s Eve.
  • If a buyer isn’t found by April, the Riviera will be auctioned. One area restaurateur is looking at buying it (fingers crossed).
  • The Riviera’s bar originally was a coal miners payroll office. A Methodist church building was moved in and converted into the restaurant.
  • Peggy makes 32 quarts of her spaghetti sauce each week. I’ve heard it’s mighty tasty.
  • If no buyer is found, the historic streetcar diner sitting next to the building will be moved to downtown Gardner.

And then there’s this oddity:

Over the years it has hosted Gene Kelly, cowboy Tom Mix and Al Capone, recognized in the funky men’s bathroom with a poster that reads: “Al Capone passed gas here in 1932.”

That sounds like a Bob Kraft joke. It is no joke, though, that former Gov. George Ryan dined with his family at the Riviera two weeks before he went to prison.

Perhaps current Gov. Rod Blagojevich should have a meal there, too. That way, he and Ryan could swap Riviera stories in their cell.

Motorcycle museum vandalized December 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Motorcycles, Movies, Museums.

Route 66 Vintage Iron, based in downtown Miami, Okla., was vandalized early Saturday when someone tossed a sledgehammer through one of the museum’s front plate glass windows, reported the Miami News Record.

Nothing was stolen, but two of the vintage motorcycles were damaged by the flying glass. A surveillance video is being checked by police.

Images captured on a digitally recorded surveillance feed indicate that at 3:13.58 a.m. a white “Jimmy” truck rolled up to the front of the store and a passenger threw a mid-sized sledge hammer into the glass. The vehicle then sped away, according to Martin. […]

Holden said he is hoping that the public can help to identify the vehicle and offer tips as to who may have caused the damage. He plans to release surveillance images to the public as soon as possible.

The museum has about two dozen vintage motorcycles, including an extremely rare one dating to 1919. It also contains memorabilia of late movie star Steve McQueen.

Route 66 kiosk coming to Tucumcari December 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, History, Towns.
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KFDA-TV in Amarillo, Texas, is reporting that the Route 66 town of Tucumcari, N.M., will install a Route 66 interpretive exhibit at the Tucumcari Convention Center.

The kiosk will having photos and information about the Mother Road’s history in Tucumcari. Also, a DVD about Route 66 will be available for visitors.

The kiosk will be paid for with a $52,500 federal grant, plus $13,125 in matching funds from the city.

Yet another reason to watch the Rose Parade December 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events.
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The Pasadena (Calif.) Star-News has a list of all the entries for the annual Rose Parade, set for New Year’s Day. Here’s one float that will interest roadies:

NEW MEXICO: “Hats off to New Mexico – Beep Beep!”
Zooming down the roadway of old Route 66, cartoon character Wile E Coyote, strapped atop an ACME rocket, is making yet another futile attempt to catch the Road Runner, just as he shifts into high gear.

Incidentally, the parade itself is right on Route 66’s Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. It will be broadcast on ABC, NBC, Univision,  HGTV, Travel Channel, RFD-TV as well as KWHY and KTLA in the Los Angeles area.

Only in America December 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Road trips, Vehicles.

Here’s a letter to the editor by Larry Matulich, which was printed in the Marysville (Calif.) Appeal-Democrat:

Is there still a Ford in America’s future? Not only is the question for one American car company, it goes for GM and Chrysler too.

The future of American truck and car brands like Ford, Chevy and Dodge, and many others, now really rest in the buying decisions made by U.S. consumers in 2009. And not what the politicians decide in Washington, D.C., on a big loan for the big three automakers.

Personally I still drive an Oldsmobile, a great GM car, that is still going strong with over 200,000 miles on it. With the price of gas under $2, now is the best time in a generation to buy that bigger American-made vehicle and hit the road for a trip. I just returned from a 6,000-mile trip over the old Route 66 route to the Midwest. It is great time to see our beautiful country, and to keep these American companies in business.

Remember in World War II it was Ford that built the planes for us that won the war, and it was Mitsubishi that built the planes for Japan’s war effort. Support America now. Buy American.

I’m compelled to comment on a few things Matulich writes, plus air a few other thoughts:

  • I’m optimistic Ford will survive the economic slowdown. It had already made cutbacks before the current meltdown, and its cash position is far better than Chrysler or GM’s. And, according to Consumer Reports, Ford is building more reliable cars.
  • Matulich says it’s the best time “in a generation” to buy a large American car because of lower gas prices. However, I remember gas dropping to less than 70 cents a gallon in the St. Louis area in the late 1990s. Of course, we know what happened after that — oil prices began a long, upward trend. The current low prices will be temporary, also. So it’d be foolish to buy a big American car when plenty of smaller, fuel-efficient American cars are available.
  • I find it ironic that Matulich praises his Oldsmobile — a brand that was phased out in 2004.
  • Americans in recent decades grew weary of Detroit vehicles that were terrible at worst or OK at best. So, many frustrated Americans eventually bought cars from the quality-conscious Japanese. It will take a long time — or radical changes at the corporate level — for the Big Three to overcome that erosion of market share.
  • I made an effort to buy an American-made car — a Saturn — during the early ’90s. It was still a very good car when I traded it in in 2003. But my next car was Japanese. I was reluctant to switch, but it was hard to ignore  when guys at the Saturn dealership grumbled about the line’s sliding quality after it was taken over by GM. One of the reasons I initially bought a Saturn was it didn’t have GM’s crappy fingerprints on it. Ceding Saturn to a mediocre overseer was no way to retain brand loyalty.
  • No one is making money at cars now. Even Toyota will finish in the red for the first time in its history. The difference is Japanese automakers have enough cash on hand to ride out the hard times.
  • Interestingly, the Japanese don’t want the Big Three to go belly-up. Detroit automakers going bankrupt would badly hurt Japanese automakers because it would cause many parts suppliers to go out of business.
  • Matulich’s “they bombed Pearl Harbor” argument against buying Japanese is a tired thread amid the 21st century. Japan is one of the United States’ strongest allies and has been for decades. Ditto for Germany. Those former enemies changed for the better, and time marches on.
  • Between the first time I bought a home in 2001 to the next one I purchased in 2004, I saw a marked (and disturbing) relaxation of mortgage-loan standards. I qualified for a maximum loan amount that was far beyond my ability to pay. Fortunately, I had no intention of getting a loan that big. Look no further to this story about the now-defunct Washington Mutual to see how far loaning standards plummeted in recent years. And there were reports about the danger signs of a housing bubble three years ago. This atmosphere of lax regulation and cavalier attitudes is the reason we’re in this economic mess today.
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