As Arizona celebrates its 100th year of statehood this month, The Arizona Republic has chosen to mark the occasion by choosing Weird Arizona as its book of the month for February!
The 14th officially marks the Copper State's centennial, and I am honored to have one of my books mentioned in conjunction with the celebration. As the Republic explains, "with all the official observations and speeches, we thought it might be good to remember it isn't all solemnity and that Arizona's weirdness goes way back."
Today, February 4, marks the 100 year anniversary of the high-speed death of Franz Reichelt, the man known as the Flying Tailor, and would-be parachuting pioneer. (Video below.)
In 1912, the Austrian-born French dressmaker, having realized a dire need for a proper parachute that could be worn by aviators, sought to invent such a device himself. While the parachute was nothing new, earlier forms required that the canopy already be open before the jump, or were otherwise too bulky to be worn by pilots. And so, Reichelt worked to develop a lightweight suit that could be deployed as needed.
His initial experiments, which employed the use of dummies dropped from buildings, weren't very successful. Believing, however, that part of his problem was a lack of available height, Reichelt petitioned authorities to allow an attempt at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. ... Continued
I don't think it will ever become a beloved roadside attraction like The World's Largest Ball of Twine, but one man has certainly earned his place in the record books by creating the largest ever ball of chewed nicotine gum.
Let's ignore the fact that the reported 95,200 pieces that make up the ball divided by 6 years of collecting equals more than 43 pieces of gum per day, and the fact that he's kept that habit up for 9 years on top of that, and the fact that he has to heat piles of the stuff in a sauna to soften it up for addition to the sphere ...
His bizarre collection of metal creatures, which inhabited every square foot of his front and side yards, was one of the most fun assemblages of so-called "junk" art I've ever encountered. And Jerry himself, a very generous and welcoming individual, was a pleasure to talk with.
The 1964 Cadillac hearse that carried the body of President John F. Kennedy after his assassination, mentioned in a post last week, sold over the weekend for $160,000. (Video below.)
The hearse was made famous when it transported the body of John F. Kennedy, and his wife Jacqueline, from Parkland Memorial Hospital to Dallas Love Field, where Air Force One was parked.
The vehicle's seller previously put the vehicle up for auction in 2007 with a reserve price of $1 million, but the bid reached only $900,000 before auction's end. Of course, that still would have been $740,000 more than what it earned on Saturday.
In retrospect, that makes it an absolute steal for Saturday's winning bidder, Stephen Tebo, who says he plans to display the hearse in a yet-to-be-built car museum along with 400 other vehicles he already owns. Tebo expects to open the museum in the Boulder, Colorado, area in about 10 years. ... Continued
90th Anniversary Bean Boot and 100th Anniversary Bootmobile
Nothing will ever beat the beloved Oscar Mayer Wienermobile for coolest promotional vehicle, but L.L. Bean, purveyor of outdoor clothing and equipment, is giving it their best shot with their brand new Bootmobile.
Designed after their signature Maine Hunting Shoe, the Bootmobile measures 13 feet tall, 20.6 feet long and 7.6 feet wide. Not to be confused with a giant roller skate, it's built on a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck.
L.L. Bean rolled out the giant boot in commemoration of the company's 100th anniversary. For their 90th, they constructed an immobile version in 2002 outside their flagship store in Freeport, Maine. ... Continued
I wouldn't say the method by which one reaches his destination is nearly as important as the destination itself, but there is something to be said for comfort and style. In that vein, I've compiled a handful of rides I've recently come across that, if nothing else, would catch the attention of fellow travelers.
First up is one of the most jealousy-inflaming RVs I've come across in some time. Christened the Decoliner, it's a one-off, not-to-be-duplicated motorhome that embodies the showiest side of the art deco scene.
Designed and built by Randy Grubb and his Grants Pass, Oregon-based team of custom-car enthusiasts known as Blastolene, the Decoliner is a luxurious work of art with the coolest of features: a flybridge that allows you to drive from the rooftop. ... Continued
Dublin Dr Pepper, the only version of the soft drink to have never switched formulas to incorporate high fructose corn syrup, has been lawyered out of existence.
The small-town Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company, located about 80 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, has been producing the original formula, which uses Imperial Pure Cane Sugar rather than the cheaper sweeteners, since 1891. Folks, including myself, overwhelmingly insist their version tastes better than that available on regular store shelves.
As such, the quiet town of Dublin has enjoyed a great deal of tourism from those looking to buy the uniquely produced soda and to stop by the visitor-friendly bottling plant. The town even held an annual celebration and linked much of its identity with the drink. ... Continued