We have our Japanese student, who is verrrrry quiet. I find myself making gestures to explain or point out things, and wonder if they’re culturally sensitive. What we think means “little” may mean “smells like a mouse.” So I’d best leave off those.

We ate dinner at a local burger-and-shake place, which survives on proximity, good will, and the general understanding that no one has any right to complain if there are 2-year-olds. A family place. Until you have a small child you have no idea how crucial these places are. The family next to ours had a tot who was right smack in the unbearably winsome age, and I had to smile when the kid ordered spaghetti and meatballs, knowing that most of the sauce would end up in her hair and 82% of the dish would be uneaten.

Our houseguest reacted to the size of her meal with something close to alarm, and we assured her it was large, don’t worry, you aren’t obligated to eat it all. It wasn’t that big; it’s just that she was that small. Wonder if she worried that it would be disrespectful not to eat everything.

For that matter, wonder what it’s like to worry about disrespect when everyone’s so breezy and laissez-faire. How do you navigate the shoals of Respect when you don’t have any maps? Surely we must have cultural taboos, no-go areas, expected modes of behavior that cannot be learned, only discerned through violation. Surely we can’t be this carefree.

Oh but we are. That’s the thing.

As I warned, it’s a busy time for the rest of the week. But there are Restaurants to enjoy. By the way, while googling around next week’s batch, I came across a sight that looks dowdy and off-puttingly pre-fab now, but was The Future when it went up.



It’s adjacent to the Deauville, a big old hotel whose optimistic modernism - as opposed to the dour bunkers or chilly towers - still lifts the spirit, especially when it’s near the beach in a tropical locale. Alas, the reviews. the smell of mold and urine will suffocate you is one take-away line.

bloody finger prints on the mirror and vanity light might be another. Or:

police everywhere blocking the street, later found out someone had died from suicide jumping from the roof top hotel, body parts scattered everywhere




When I was talking about the "Gong Show" the other day I forgot to mention the essential character a game show has to have: the impression that you're invited to a little party that meets every day. You know the host, who’s on your side and thanks you for showing up. If there are celebrities you are glad to see them, because they’re friends of the host and hence friends of yours, too. The new contestants are the strangers, with eager ingratiating smiles. If they win a lot and come back you root for them, usually; they’re now part of the circle as well.

Every show had its own tone - the cheap garish nonsense of the “Gong Show,” the snickering juvenile single-entendres of “Match Game” - with its unspoken assumption that Richard Dawson was not only cool and suave version of Andy Capp, but the best player EVER. Then there was this one:

It's Peter Marshall in his moire-arama jacket!

Oh boy! Who will be the guests this week? Of course Paul Lynde will be in the middle. It never struck you that a game based on Tic Tac Toe was an odd thing, since you’d been playing it all your life and become accustomed to 99.5 of the games ending in a tie. Well, let’s see who’s on this week.

Er . . .

Hmmm . . . .

Oh, no: it’s the dreaded Special Something Week. This time it’s “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” which in this year - seventywhatever - meant all that Happy-Days doo-wop crap and not REAL ROCK at all, I mean, where’s Alice? Bowie? Elton? Real rock. And not everyone seems to want to be here.

That's Bobby Vinton. Wikipedia: "From 1962 through 1972, Vinton had more Billboard #1 hits than any other male vocalist, including Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra." Surprised? But let's go back to the guy above, who was ROCKING OUT during his introduction.

Bobby Vee is a guy who owes his career to Buddy Holly. But not in the way one would prefer. Buddy’s plane crashed en route to Fargo, and since the show had to go on - either for contractual obligations or to live up to the showbiz cliche - the promoters rounded up some local acts, including a young Vee. Fame resulted, and Fargo is proud to call him their own. Or would be if you reminded them he was from Fargo.

We'll get to the guy on the top in a moment.

Then there were the guests:

Work those tresses! Work them!

What interests me are the ads - items that appeared between segments to give you an idea what fabulous prizes awaited. Or might be given. Or which companies had paid a fee for consideration.

Sperry & Hutchinson. This brand was the gold standard for trading stamps, I believe. Nationwide. As seen on TV! We were a Gold Bond family, since that's wht the nearby grocery store chain gave. I remember looking through all the catalogs, and thinking: who wants this crap?

It's hard to explain to subsequent generations the appeal of Wella Balsam. It smelled different than anything else, and had Farrah Fawcett behind it.

What we never knew was this: Wella was a company. "Wella" did not modify "Balsam" like we thought.

It would take 30 years, but both these devices would go in opposite directions. TVs would get smaller and bigger. But the idea of the TV as a piece of furniture like this was on its way out; consumer electronics would start to stand alone as objects of design again, the way it was in the 50s.

On the other hand, standing along as objects of design was not always a wise idea in 1979.

Let's check in with Frankie, and see if his body language indicates he is beginning to enjoy this week:

Nope. Back to this guy:

The hair was a given for guys with rectangular heads. His song can still be heard now and then today, and for good reason: while it's not particularly novel, it has that distinctive circus organ riff - and it just kicks for 1:53 without letting up. Frankie Boom-Boom Cannon: he sells this one well. Two facts under the video.

#1: it's a b-side. A DJ played it by mistake, the legend has it, and the phone went wild.

#2: Guess who wrote it?

Yep. Chuck Barris.

The GIF of Dick Clark was taken from the show, of course. Ask anyone from my generation which position he would have had, and the answer's obvious. There's only one.

Center Square.


New Restaurants, as you see below. Work blog around 12:30 and Tumblr as well. See you around!





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