Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – All Aboard THE WIENERMOBILE!!! – Part 2

Category: Advertising/ Promotion, Art, Brands, Celebrity, Clothes, Fashion, Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Los Angeles, People, Place, Sculpture, Self expression, Sign, Toy, Transportation, Travel

If you’re just jumping aboard The Wienermobile, please exit through the rear and check out Part 1 of my adventure with Susan Olsen,a.k.a. Cindy Brady, and Charles Phoenix, without which Part 2 lacks context. Wagging the tail without the (hot) dog as it were.

Now, assuming you’ve fully digested part 1, join us aboard the Wienermobile as we head east from the Brady Bunch house…

…to another iconic wiener in  the neighborhood, Larry’s.

The Wienermobile ate up quite a lot of real estate in this four- table parking lot eatery.

So we turned the vehicular wiener towards another vintage hot dog-related gem a few blocks away:

Isn’t this where you would go if you were a hot dog?

We knew Chili John’s has very early hours but we jumped out anyway, praying the chili palace still might be open:

If you haven’t been to this place, spit out your food and head there now. It’s as authentic as the day it was born in 1941:

The counter is (perfectly and beautifully) makes up the entire restaurant.

You can see the handpainted mural that runs the length of the restaurant better in this shot with Charles:

Up close it’s apparent that the artist, Mr. Chili John himself, captured each and every crevice of the exploding Vesuvius terrain as possible. Perhaps this was to illustrate the constant lava-like flow of chili that runs through his namesake establishment daily.

While we were there, there was an incredible photo opp for The Wienermobile:

With hot dogs and chili under our belts, it was time to move on to burgers. Very few food symbols are as iconic as The Wienermobile, but surely the Big Boy at Bob’s a few blocks away on Riverside has an equal place on the mountaintop.

The sheer magnitude of these two sculptural icons together was overwhelming for kitsch lovers such as ourselves.

So we took lots of photos:

But, alas, the sun was starting to set and there was one place we knew we had to hit while The Wienermobile was still under our control:

The Circus Liquor neon clown, on Burbank Blvd. just west of Chili John’s, has been in countless movies and tv shows, not to mention I’ve dropped coin in there every time I need a bottle of anything, just so I can visit the clown.

The height of the Wienermobile was an INSANELY perfect fit. If only the clown were permanently mounted on top of it.

With the evening approaching fast we headed back to Willis Wonderland,…

…already upset that our Wienermobile afternoon would soon be but a memory, albeit one grilled into our braincells forever.

When we dislodged from The Wienermobile we got some parting gifts:

Some Wienermobile whistles, some of which were glow-in-the-dark, a plush toy Wienermobile, as well as this larger plastic one:

It was like we had all been dropped out of a time capsule. I’m someone who likes to have a good time but once I’m done with an activity I gotta clear the house and get back to work. But it was as if we all knew that when we separated we would somehow have to settle back into reality, hopefully just little bitty pieces at a time, that’s how strong the magnetic pull of the Wienermobile was for all of us. So was only natural we sat down to a hot dog dinner to extend the wiener coma we were all in.

The dogs were cooked, as I said in part 1, on my newly acquired 1958 golf ball barbecue:

It was comforting to have such statuary in the yard, softening the blow of the departed Wienermobile as it disappeared into the night.

Thank you, Hot Doggers Traci and Yoli. You drove the Wienermobile like it was a delicate little Smart Car and put up with three drooling adults for longer than anyone deserves to be in ecstasy.

And thank you, Mark Blackwell, for documenting the trip, and I mean Trip.

Susan, Charles and myself are forever grateful to have such a childhood and adult dream fulfilled, especially one that provided such insanely magnificent photo opps.

And we are grateful for the joy of celebrating a junk food that was a building block of nutrition throughout most of our lifetimes. Truth be told, although it has killed me, the foolishness of subsisting exclusively on such foodstuffs is starting to be rectified in my old age. But even Martha Stewart enjoys munching on a good wiener every now and then.

The Wienermobile experience was pretty heavy.

But alas, all things must end.

We love you, Wienermobile. Until we meet again…

Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Riverside Redeux

Category: Advertising/ Promotion, Afro, Architecture, Music, Place, September, Sign, Transportation, Travel

I’ve blogged about Riverside, CA before. I hit it at least once a year because my favorite soul food restaurant in the state is there.

You can read more details about Gram’s and see some incredible old vintage signs like this that are thankfully left standing in this post as well.

On a typical trip, I also try and hit all the thrift and secondhand shops that are further into town on Market Street once you hop off of the 60. But this was a very short trip, just to eat at Gram’s and see The Larry Dunn Orchestra, he formerly of Earth, Wind & Fire and who played keyboards on “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” for me at my recent Allee Willis Soup to Nuts live show.

So on this trip I just took a closer look at Market Street in the heart of downtown Riverside. I don’t know what this building was but the shimmering powder blue stone edifice is beyond gorgeous. I shudder to think what that construction fence around it means…

Here’s an excellent use of Chrysler-Imperial-as-awning. Perhaps I should do something like this with my 1955 Desoto Fireflyte:

Despite being a health food store now, The De Anza Theater is a still knockout:

The Mission Inn, a hotel built in 1876 and where the Reagans were married, is Riverside’s top historical landmark. But I’m much more interested in the topiary that tops the columns on the backside of the hotel. If you have any idea what this is let me know. They’re all over the place.

 

I’m guessing this one is a boxing pig:

A little further out on Market, there’s a little time-warp street that intersects it, right before the secondhand shops start.

I know this foot establishment isn’t vintage but I can never resist a name like this:

Leaving the street for a moment, I’ve never seen a Bereavement Center inside a thriftshop before but such is the case at the Goodwill at the top of the block:

Just a hop down the 91 in Corona is this excellence in architecture and signage. Though I would imagine that any Greek might be mystified that a restaurant representing that heritage would feature roast beef and quesadillas.

I always love a good trailer park…

… especially one featuring a curved wall of cutout Atomic cement block.

I love that two trains form the wings of this building. Too bad it’s not a diner and is wasted on a driving school.

I also can never resist the charm of a nice porta-potty  in the front yeard. I love the elegant door on this one, as if that makes it more acceptable to be plopped where it is.

I could have used that facility at the point in the drive I was. Luckily I made it back to the hotel and up in the elevator before duty called.

Be back soon, Riverside.

 

Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Music Saves My Soul Tote, Food and Concert

Category: Allee Willis' Soup To Nuts live show, Earth Wind & Fire, Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Soup To Nuts Party Mix live show, The Color Purple

To a purveyor of kitsch such as myself, spotting a 99¢ or dollar store, Dollar Tree or whatever other buck or below establishment that bases its name on that spin and carries bargain merchandise, shoots the same kind of joy and anticipation through your body as what Columbus must have felt when he spotted America. I never ever used to be interested in anything that wasn’t vintage but, especially since establishing the Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch at AWMOK.com and seeing the crap, I mean treasures, real treasures, that people have posted that were acquired at such bargain emporiums, I’ve become a ravenous beast for the contents that lay within. Some of the most popular Bingo prizes at my recent Soup to Nuts Party Mix live show, like jam and jelly room deodorizers, Malted Milk Balls lip gloss, Pen/Stylos, and flowers in a can were purchased for mere pennies compared to their actual kitsch value had they been located on slightly loftier shelves.

But far and away, my most favorite purchase last week in Riverside, CA., where I went to see Larry Dunn, founding member of the group that gave me my start, Earth, Wind & Fire, and his orchestra play in White Park, was this paper-thin metallic tote telling me just what music does:

If I had had enough time to plan I would’ve taken my new flimsy tote to one of the spots I met up with Larry and crew. But I always travel with a digi recorder, a couple pairs of glasses, two phones, an Ipad, three cameras, two Flip cams, a bottle of water, and other away-from-home essentials, all of which would have been too much for this excessively-and-thankfully- kitschtastically-cheaply-made tote to bear, and I’d rather have it in my permanent collection than in the wastebasket at the Marriott where we all were staying. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t have been the perfect accessory to complement the fine meal I had at my favorite soul food restaurant in CA., which I’ve blogged about before and where we all went to eat as soon as we checked in.

Just as Music Saves My Soul on the tote, Fried Chicken, Yams and Greens Save My Soul on the table.

When Larry told me he was performing in Riverside I told him he had to go to Gram’s. When Larry called Gram to tell him he was playing in Riverside, Gram threw a party for the band.

I put my rep on the line when I said Gram’s had the best fried chicken in the state. Larry and his fabulous wife Luisa, also in the band, completely agreed.

As a customer, it’s always a good sign when the only poster on the wall is something you wrote.

The concert was great. As always, I photographed and videoed everything as soon as my songs were played, in this case ‘September”, “Boogie Wonderland” and “In The Stone”, all of which Larry also played keyboards on on the original records. He also played them for me live at Soup To Nuts Party Mix.

So all in all, a very productive and soulful weekend was spent in Riverside. A l’il bit o’ Soul at the 99¢ store…

…a l’il bit o’ Soul food at Grams…

…and a whole lotta Soul music with the Larry Dunn Orchestra.

Which is good as I need a whole lotta Soul this week to write a write a whole lotta:

Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Kitschlicious Riverside, CA.

Category: Food, Forgot to Categorize, Furniture and Housewares, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Place, Sign, Transportation, Travel

Last weekend I drove to Riverside to see a performance of The Color Purple, the musical I co-wrote. I tend to pick and choose the performances of the show I see based on how good the thrifts shops and vintage architecture is in the cities it’s playing in.

Riverside is only a little over an hour east of LA and has at least two blocks of nothing but thrift shops so that being a target city was pretty obvious. Besides, it gave me a chance to go to one of my favorite barbecue joints on the planet:

It’s always a good sign when your favorite joint is pushing your show as hard as the deep-fried turkeys and hams.

I discovered Gram’s Mission Bar-B-Que Palace, at the time in its original location two blocks west of where it is now, the first time I ever went to Riverside in the late 1980′s. Paul Rubens, a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman, and I took my van for a weekend thrift shop extravaganza. We stayed overnight at the famous Mission Inn, an architecturally historic hotel where Ronald and Nancy Reagan spent their honeymoon, and then, starting in Riverside, we hit every significant thrift shop between there and LA.  My bed at The Mission Inn was directly under an astronomically huge stained-glass window of Jesus Christ. I woke up about 8 am. with Jesus’s light raining down on my body, which now itself looked like a stained glass Jesus. This felt somewhat blasphemous as a Jew so I ran to a open window across the room to get some air and there, rising like a miracle before me directly across the street, was a big ass barbecue smoker with plumes of rib greased smoke billowing out of it. I can’t even tell you how fast we bolted down there.

The only thing better than the ribs, fried chicken, catfish, meatloaf, yams, greens, mac ‘n cheese and cobbler we inhaled was the bridge table next to us that was covered with an extra long shag fake fur chessboard and foot tall handcarved chess pieces. I know I have a rib grease stained photo of it somewhere but all I can put my hands on right now is a photo of the cover of the menu.

All categories of chewables featured on the cover are excellent at Gram’s.  By now, after all these years of coming here, I think I’ve only missed one thing on the menu:

Back to this trip, I left Gram’s stuffed like the pig that used to be attached to the ear and hit the thrifts. This spectacular 1950′s pushbutton ashtray was one of my more significant finds, especially as it was only $16 and I already own the matching desk fan and calendar.

Here’s Riverside on the ashtray:

For $1 I also got this incredible 1950′s beer and parfait glass.

Fish were a very popular design motif in the 1950′s.

Thank God, a few other things from the 1950′s abound in Riverside like these incredible vintage neon signs:

This sign isn’t neon but beautiful and 50′s nonetheless:

The matching restaurant is even better:

Thank God it was dark by the time I got back to the theater…

… because I parked just across the street and changed in the back of my van. I like having a van because not only does it accommodate any size of  thrift shop purchase but it’s a portable dressing room as well. This would not have been the case had I been driving this vehicle that whizzed past me on my way back to the theater:

All in all, my day was fantastic. The show, the food, the sights, the thrift finds, all fantastic. So what’s not to love about a day trip to Riverside? Especially when everything but a Pigs Ear awaits me.

Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Crazy California Cars I’ve Seen this Week

Category: Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Los Angeles, Transportation


That’s my 1955 Studebaker Commander. There’s nothing crazy about it; it’s just beautiful and an expression of part of who I am. I love people who still drive around in classic cars. But who I love even more are folks who play with their cars, decorating them full tilt as they see fit. It may not mean much to the rest of us that these people are expressing themselves to the world but as long as they’re not slamming into other cars or hurling obscenities out of the window, it makes the landscape more exciting and for that I’m ever thankful. Because of its forgiving climate, Southern California is Mecca for these cars. Here’s just a sample of what has crossed my eyeballs in the last week alone.

THE ROCK CAR, resting quietly in Burbank:

Definitely a homemade job. The top lump is pretty neat:

The bottom’s a little more chaotic:

My guess is that the whole car will eventually be covered to add a little weight as it schleps this around all day:

Here’s THE ZEBRA MONKEY CAR, spotted whipping down the streets of Riverside:

Zebra seems to be a common car motif, though it’s usually confined to the fake fur lining the dash or covering the seats. Less common are stuffed monkeys hanging on your car:

A nice attractive rear end provides the animals a nice home:

THE TIGER CAR, spotted racing down the 101:

THE FLAME FORD, parked in Burbank:

THE OBAMA BLING ESCALADE, with a totally jeweled ensignia and license plate cover. I had to hang a right just as I spotted it so I never saw if the sides or front were embellished as well.

THE CHEVY TRUCK WHOSE PARKING BRAKE DOESN’T WORK:

THE ‘VORK FROM HOME’ TRUCK:

I’m not sure what kind of pest control work someone can do from home and I’m not sure I would let anyone who allowed ‘work’ to turn into ‘vork’ and hasn’t washed their truck in a year teach me anything.

I definitely spotted a few others but my camera wasn’t close enough to snap them as they whipped by. I did, however, have my camera when I tried some eyelashes out on my own little souped-up Beetle: