AM Radio Vs. Old Buildings

March 11th, 2011

I love old architecture. I love live local radio, AM in particular. We have a rare abundance of both in Buffalo. When I compare a similar rust belt city I am very familiar with, Cleveland, to Buffalo, in both regards, it makes me truly appreciate the treasures we have here in Western New York. Our talk radio station, WBEN AM 930, is phenomenal with both local talk show content and local news coverage. I remember once being stuck in Cleveland because Dead Man’s Curve on the I-90 had flooded. So I thought, WBEN In Buffalo would cover this in depth, as they did with the “Arborgeddon” October Surprise of 2006, so what is the radio equivalent in Cleveland? Well, I thought of common denominators here – WBEN carries both Rush Limbaugh and Coast to Coast AM, which I know are heavily-syndicated AM talk radio shows of the highest quality, so I decided to search who carried those programs in Cleveland, then I would probably stumble upon WBEN’s sister station, if you will. I found the woefully disappointing WTAM. No extensive news coverage of local, then-happening events. No local talk equivalents to WBEN’s Tom Bauerle, Sandy Beach or Ron Dobson to further expound about those events worth expounding upon. I had to guess when Dead Man’s Curve (shouts out to Jan & Dean as heard on WJJL singing its theme song on occasion) was passable again. So I stayed an extra day and hoped for the best, as the radio THERE sure wasn’t going to inform me! Well, today on WBEN, both Tom Bauerle and Sandy Beach were discussing the wonderful old architecture here in Buffalo. The Statler Hotel being saved. The Central Terminal(my favorite building of all time) re-use plan.

Buffalo Central Terminal

Buffalo Central Terminal

But to my disappointment, the hosts of these shows and many callers were railing against the preservation of the Statler (as $5 million in public funds are sought by the developer to rehab it), and touched on the Grain Mills (another love of mine) and were also against THEM as being worthy of the LaBrea tar pits. But both these classic buildings and the great local talk shows on this station are part of what makes Buffalo, BUFFALO, and makes me love this area. I feel torn when two such wonderful things are at odds with each other. Usually I enjoy these talk shows and their topics of discussion that can range from local, state and national politics, to weather emergencies and traffic updates when the weather makes driving tough, to issues of local concern of every variety imaginable. Well, WBEN has an awesome building of their own. The one near their broadcast towers, which looks so much from the same Art Deco school as the beloved Central Terminal it appears as if it came to life from the comic book pages of Gotham City. How’s that for a resolution? A real “two for one” there! A great local talk station that utilizes an incredible classic building. And without both, great buildings and great talk radio, Buffalo just wouldn’t be as awesome as it is! A true jewel in the rust belt crown it is!

WBEN's Transmitter Building

WBEN's Transmitter Building

Indiana’s Lure

February 25th, 2011

Listening, as usual, to our favorite medium of choice, AM radio, has inspired yet another posting. Not only did I hear one of my all-time top pieces of AM pop on there the other day, “Indiana Wants Me” by Motown producer turned incredible singer-songwriter R. Dean Taylor on WJJL AM 1440 (which I understand has two different single mixes – the standard one with the police sirens in the background ambiance, and a special one for California radio stations which were forbidden from playing the siren sounds over their airwaves as they may trick drivers listening to the radio to mistake them for real, which did not have them),

Indiana Wants Me

Indiana Wants Me

I also heard on WBEN AM 930, my favotite talk station,  that some of the Democrats from Wisconsin fled the state to hide out in Indiana, and now, on top of that, all kinds of trouble (not the pop-o-matic dice kind, either, which is, by the way lots of fun!) is (like Richard Pryor’s fine 1981 cinematic offering of the same title) Bustin’ Loose! While we were in Indiana ourselves, this lovely state which brought us the Jackson 5ive (and it should be spelled “5ive” not “Five”, because spelling it “Five” is JIVE!) offered some the visual loveliness that we so love at O & D. Perhaps the runaway legislators stayed, as we would choose, given the chocie, at the lovely Dollar Inn. Heck, they have HBO (and we hope it doesn’t stand for the punchline to a childhood joke “Horrible Body Odor”!)

Dollar Inn

Dollar Inn

After some golden slumbers (as sung about by Sir Paul McCartney on “Abbey Road”) there, it is time to get up and forage for sustenance. So many options as you “ease on down the road”. Let’s see – there’s this great place with a gigantic hot dog caricature painted on it…

Andy's on 20

Andy's on 20

How about this charming mid-Century burger stand now known as Shrimp-A-Licious?

Shrimp A Licious

Shrimp A Licious looks so delicious!

No! Hold everything! How can we help but be lured by the allure of  The Lure?

The Lure

The Lure

If the fine building doesn’t snare you, how about the incredible sign in cheery retro orange, and that great lantern in the center as a beckoning beacon to what greatness hides inside?

Big orange Lure sign

Big orange Lure sign

Beckoning Beacon

Beckoning Beacon

Need some more convincing? Well then, this awesome ARROW should point the way!

The Lure Arrow

The Lure Arrow

The arrow definitely did the trick. Who could resist its subtle urging forth? Not I! Well, then, let’s go inside. The interor did not disappoint either! There were these groovy mechanical fans in the ceiling to cool you off in style…

Wouldn't you agree? It's a "Groovy Kind of Fan"!

Wouldn't you agree? It's a "Groovy Kind of Fan"!

How about the continuation of the old school orange and brown-centric color styling inside? Check out the menus!

Sandwich sign

Sandwich sign

Breakfaast anyone?

Breakfast anyone?

We ordered! And the food was amazing! The best burger and fries this side of 1975 at Henry’s Hamburgers!

Taste-tempting trayful

Taste-tempting trayful

And the seating arrangements were simply superb! Fluffy, puffy booths added to an overall enjoyable experience for all of the senses! Laid out in an interesting geometric fashion.

Comfy seating arrangements

Comfy seating arrangements

Booth detail

Booth detail

“Indiana Wants Me”? Well, we want more of the beautiful classic style Indiana has to offer! No wonder those Wisconsin legislators chose this charming state as one of their destinations for hanging out recently!

Indiana Wants Him

Indiana Wants Him

WJJL & Lenny Rico

February 22nd, 2011

Our favorite electronic media medium at Obscurity and Decay is the “original and best”, as miraculously dreamed of by Nikola Tesla, not Marconi. Again, the wrong person gets the “credit” in mainstream ‘thought’…

Our favorite radio station is the truly unique and one of a kind, WJJL 1440 AM, with main studios in the beautiful Southgate Plaza (which is itself a beautiful thing to behold) and satellite studios in the Niagara Arts And Cultural Center, which is a wonderful old “high” school which has been put to most excellent re-use, a concept we wholeheartedly endorse, just as the old Moog Synthesizer factory on Walden Avenue currently houses the most wonderful Super Flea!

Red Door Entrance

The NACC

We were treated to actual visits to WJJL when our friends Bill & Skitch hosted “The Go Show” on the station in the Summer of 2009.

Bill Lannen Scott "Skitchy" Steele

Bill Lannen & Scott "Skitchy" Steele

With “a little help from their friends”, Zeus and the mysterious Mr. Ski-Mask, which seemed like something out of the Counter-Culture of the 60′s paired with some of the modern aspects of “shock”.

Look at these random freaks

Outside of WJJL

That’s where our “vintage” Southgate Plaza pictures originate, as the station is now in a different location – so glad we were able to document this time in history – note the superb Elvis wall hangings in the lobby, no doubt in honor of one of the station’s best programs, “WJJElvis”, one solid hour of Elvis music hosted what appears to live by Uncle John Phillips, on Fridays 11AM to Noon! We never miss it!

"Vintage Studios"

WJJL

Also at the top of our list is “Casa Rico”, the oldest running heritage program on radio, hosted by one of the most talented, entertaining, and humorous radio hosts I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, Lenny Rico. The show specializes in “Paisan favorites”, often incredible remakes of 60′s hits with vocals sung in Italian, and often with some pleasant fuzz, as in the cover of the Monkees song “I’m A Believer” this week that literally blew my mind. Interjected in between is some old school humor. My favorite segment, though, has to be “Spaghetti Spotlight” – the introduction Lenny Rico has put together to start this segment of the program is pure genius – a sonic pastiche worthy of George Martin, if you ask me. There are sound effects of creaky-sounding decrepit machinery when the guest pepperoni stick spinner spins the pepperoni stick to rate the song sent in by a local artist. There is a rating system, as explained by Lenny, in which the pepperoni stick will fall on a range of between 1 and 10 meatballs, which are arranged “in circular fashion, just like a clock”. The pepperoni stick, by the way, is nailed to a piece of plywood, for as Lenny informs the listener of constantly, “this is a low budget show”. It is a living example of what radio must have once been like when the likes of the Mad Daddy from Cleveland were running the airwaves before the days of demographic market automated bot programming. The show is on both Saturday and Sunday mornings for a Power Paisan Weekend!

Mr. Ski-Mask, Lenny Rico, Scott "Skitchy" Steele

Mr. Ski-Mask, Lenny Rico, Scott "Skitchy" Steele

As for “The Go Show”, to quote Lenny, “The Go Show WENT“…just like most of the things we enjoy here at Obscurity and Decay!

Madison, Wisconsin Road ‘Trip’

February 19th, 2011

With the Deee-lightful city of Madison, Wisconsin being in the news (it’s all we have been hearing about lately on our favorite media medium, the AM Radio, all week long), we thought it only proper to treat you, the visitor, to one of the most charming things in that great locale – the Octopus Car Wash! Complete with a gigantic mobile green octopus spinning around on a pole. Actually, it was the OTHER one on the roof that first caught our attention from the high-way.

Octopus Car Wash as seen from highway

Octopus Car Wash as seen from highway

We were pleasantly surprised by its big brother up front in that lovely mid-Century boomerang!

Octopus Car Wash boomerang sign

Octopus Car Wash boomerang sign

Its tentacles include squeegee, bucket, brush, rag – well, there MUST be 8 things there right?

Octopus Car Wash customer entrance

Octopus Car Wash customer entrance

You can best believe that I became a customer with such tasteful signage! The crest of golden waves a wonderful compliment to our green octopi friends. I wonder if this is what Ringo had in mind when the Beatles recorded “Octopus’s Garden” ? I hope it was.

Liquor Party sign

Liquor Party sign

Republican Party? Democrat Party? What about the Liquor Party as referred to by this other awesome mid-Century beauty complete with patriotic light- up Starr?

Three Keys sign

Three Keys sign

And what about the Key Party? You know to which I refer – those swinging parties of the 70′s! Signs like this truly have the key to my heart!