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Road trip with friends October 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips.

Three pals explore Route 66 and other parts of the Southwest in this well-edited video:

Music is “On the Road Again,” by Willie Nelson.

Manning’s Coffee sign project will receive state preservation award October 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Signs.
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The project to restore the Manning’s Coffee Store sign in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles will be among a dozen or so honored by the California Office of Historic Preservation, according to an email from Future Studio.

Several officials from the Highland Park neighborhood will attend the awards ceremony in Sacramento in November.

Manning’s Coffee went out of business in the 1960s, and the sign’s neon hadn’t functioned for many years. A cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program helped restore the sign, and it was relighted in January. It’s believed the sign dates to 1933. Las Cazuelas restaurant occupies the building now.

The area is part of the North Figueroa Street corridor in Los Angeles, which included Route 66 from 1931 to 1934 and again from 1936 to 1960.

It’s the second such honor for the neighborhood; the moving and restoration of the Chicken Boy rooftop statue was lauded by the state in 2010.

(Hat tip: Scott Piotrowski)

Cadillac Ranch patriarch faces serious charges in lawsuit October 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, People, Vehicles.
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Stanley Marsh 3, owner of the Cadillac Ranch landmark near Route 66 near Amarillo, Texas, may face ugly days in a courtroom.

We’ll excerpt a couple of parts of the Amarillo Globe-News story, filed late Thursday:

An Amarillo woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Stanley Marsh 3, alleging he gave her teenage son cash, vehicles and drugs to engage in sexual acts in closed-door sessions with Marsh 3 in his downtown Amarillo office. […]

The suit claims that in 2010 and 2011, the 74-year-old Marsh 3 performed sex acts on the teen, then 15 and 16, and engaged in various sexual acts with him in Chase Tower offices.

Marsh’s attorney pledged to fight the allegations in court.

In case you’ve missed out a lot of stories on this website, Marsh in 1974 collaborated with the Ant Farm art collective to create Cadillac Ranch — 10 old Cadillacs planted nose-down at an angle into the soil west of Amarillo. Marsh also created the Dynamite Museum, a series of wacky road signs sprinkled along Route 66 corridor in the Texas Panhandle.

A few observations and other details from the newspaper’s story:

— The woman reported the allegations about Marsh and her son to police, but no charges have been filed. A civil suit actually could jeopardize any criminal investigation of Marsh, if there is one.

— The newspaper’s story makes clear Marsh has been previously sued and even criminally charged with indecent acts with children during the 1990s. However, in each case, the lawsuit with settled with no admission of wrongdoing by Marsh, or the charges were dropped.

— The lawsuit cast a wide net. In addition to Marsh being sued, so were his wife, son, a business associate, one of Marsh’s companies, and the landlord for Marsh’s offices. Such a lawsuit has the appearance of a money grab. If the plaintiffs were so concerned about other people having information about Marsh, a subpoena would suffice in getting those details.

— It appears Marsh is in poor health, including suffering a series of strokes in late 2011. He apparently was in such bad shape, his wife was appointed his guardian. It brings up the question of whether Marsh will be competent and/or healthy enough to testify.

I’ve never met Marsh, so I have no opinion on him personally. Reactions of Route 66 people who have met him have been mixed. Depending on who you talk to, Marsh ranges from playful and capricious to grumpy and ego-maniacal.

I do admire his whimsy and audacity with his art projects. Cadillac Ranch is the stuff of which legends are made on Route 66 — regardless of the character of its creator.

UPDATE 11/1/2012: Two more civil lawsuits on the behalf of alleged victims have been filed in recent days.

Marshfield chamber moving into reopened RV park October 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Businesses.
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New owners reopened RV Express park in Marshfield, Mo., after it was closed for about two years. And, soon, the park will have a notable new tenant — the city’s chamber of commerce, reported the Marshfield Mail newspaper.

RV Express was known for years for its big Route 66 mural. The mural will remain with the new owners. Here’s a photo slideshow of the mural:

Ellis and Donna Floyd, tired of seeing the RV park deteriorate, purchased the property and reopened it Sept. 1. They welcomed overnight guests almost immediately, they said.

Inside the park’s office is a large mural depicting sites along the route, and over the years, the mural itself has become a draw for tourists along the highway.

“That whole building over there, the previous owner themed it Route 66,” Floyd said. “It’s really neat.”

The connection to Route 66 tourism also makes the park a practical location for the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and tourism office, which will be relocating to the park’s office area.

“I think the chamber being there will be a huge help to them and to us,” Floyd said. “We get so many people in this town because it’s on Route 66,” agreed chamber director Lois Farnsworth.

The Marshfield Chamber will be moved in by Nov. 1, the newspaper said. RV Express will have a website, RVExpress66.com, online by Nov. 1 as well.

Building a better beast October 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Businesses, Restaurants.

In July, Sweet Pea, an 8-foot-tall mummy-like mascot that stood in front of the Cigars & Stripes restaurant and lounge for years on Route 66 in Berwyn, Ill., was spirited away.

This brief clip shows what ol’ Sweet Pea looked like:

Sweet Pea from Jay Hagstrom on Vimeo.

It turns out Sweet Pea wasn’t stolen. Daryl Harris Studios spent the past five months or so “reinventing” Sweet Pea. The “futuristic space-alien-borg-mummy” now is 10 feet tall. Just in time for Halloween, the revamped Sweet Pea was unveiled Thursday during the opening night of Cigars and Stripes’ annual Freaktoberfest.

He now looks something like this:

According to one report, the new Sweet Pea has “a giant rotating chicken wing in his stomach.” Cigars and Stripes is located at 6715 W. Ogden Ave. (aka Route 66) in Berwyn.

In a news release, Harris said his artistic style meshed well with making a bigger and better Sweet Pea:

“I like to tinker with electronics and build creative things with recycled parts,” said the artist. “Experimental musical devices are where my true interests lies, this is an extension of that.” […]

“Accepting this job was a no-brainer. I grew up a sci-fi kid and thought I could design a classic monster with a futuristic cyborg presence using tubes and wires — not to mention the wings at this place are the best I have ever had! I just had to take on this project.”

Cigars and Stripes owner Ronnie Lottz aims to make his establishment “a strange place for nice people” and urges customers to “drink responsibly, eat recklessly.” This video by the Berwyn Development Corporation captures the place’s irreverent and cartoonish vibe fairly well:

People like Lottz and his affable but unique vision make the Mother Road more memorable.

(Photo courtesy of Berwyn Development Corporation)

Other half of East Meets West statue arrives October 25, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions.
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The other half (or practically speaking, two-thirds) of the massive “East Meets West” statue arrived Thursday at Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza near the Route 66 intersection of Southwest Boulevard and 12th Street in Tulsa.

One part of the bronze that arrived Thursday is the two carriage horses rearing.

The other part is a farmer and his dog in the horse-drawn wagon.

“East Meets West” depicts Cyrus Avery, the “Father of Route 66,” stopping his early model Ford car on Tulsa’s 11th Street Bridge after his vehicle spooked the horses. The statue was funded with a Vision 2025 sales tax for Route 66.

A lot of work remains with the statue. This is a vantage point from the overpass near the plaza, with the original 11th Street Bridge in the background:

A formal dedication of the artwork hasn’t yet been scheduled. I’ve been in contact with one descendant of Avery who’s champing at the bit to attend.

Here’s a mock-up of the finished work:

The 135 percent-size sculpture suffered through cost overruns and three years of delays, including sculptor Robert Summers sustaining serious injuries in a fall.

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