fresh popcorn productions

observations and obsessions, in print and pictures. roadside ramblings, from the pavement to the pasture.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Painted floor number signs in a downtown Pittsburgh parking garage!

Chocolate Tower

When photographed up close, an electric fondue fountain resembles a clay form on a potter's wheel.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Welcome to Boulder City

This Boulder City main street, a mere few miles from Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, was a peaceful and welcoming sight after a day of descending the dam's depths. No strip malls, no fastfood, no Starbucks, no Wal-Mart, just family-owned motels illuminating the big black sky.

Diner Details

Why are diner interiors so comforting to me?

Rubber Maid

One day balmy, the next a blizzard. I collect vintage dishware and Pyrex and had to spend this entire winter afternoon scrubbing off caked-on price tags and wiping layers of settled dust. Dishwashing can be a highly satisfying and theraputic ritual. I like the combination of stainless steel, painted patterns and lemony bubbles.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Winter Night at the Igloo

Last night I learned what "3-D is in effect" means.

Pittsburgh Xplosion: 119

Indiana Alley Cats: 131

Be My (ABA) Valentine

After an extended hiatus of 30+ years, the ABA is back in Pittsburgh in the form of the Xplosion! The Condors called it quits in 1972, while the Pipers are even more ancient. I don't think I've seen the interior of the space-age Civic Arena since Kinks and Grateful Dead concerts of my youth. The seats were uneven, the popcorn was dear, and star player Armon Gilliam, who we went to witness, did not suit up due to an injury suffered at the recent ABA All*Star game, where he was voted
MVP. Coleco Buie led the action on the courts last night. Snapped these mid-air moves in the cold air and articifcal light from the third row. I have always preferred those red, white & blue basketballs. Check out vintage ABA action at Remember the ABA.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

XXX Vegas Valentine

Some provocative neon to brighten your Saint Valentine Day. Our plane landed in Vegas during a heavy rain. We drove up and down the Strip as I snapped pictures from the back seat.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sahara and the Strip

Took these shots with my feet planted firmly on the Strip. I felt dizzy looking up. There is still so much of Vegas that Steve Wynn cannot claim. I kept returning to the lure of the lights at Fun City and the Holiday Motel. They look like completely different structures with the neon turned off.

Neon By Day

On a recent, and my first, trip to Las Vegas, I snapped over 1,000 images of the gorgeous neon that is still hanging on and turned on out there. This series of endangered species features abandoned and underbooked motels along ravaged East Fremont, off the Strip.

As we cased these seedy streets, we even encountered dudes clad in CSI: Las Vegas wear!

You cannot tell from this picture, but the bottom image depicts the Peter Pan Motel.

Weekend in Wicker Park

According to various sources, Jamaica is a popular drink in Mexico made from calyces of the roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa). Dried hibiscus calyces, known in Mexico as jamaica, have long been available in health food stores in the United States, for use in making a tea high in vitamin C. Calyces are sold in bags typically labeled "Flor de Jamaica." Jamaica is prepared by steeping calyces in boiling water, straining the mixture, pressing the calyces (to squeeze all the juice out), adding sugar, and stirring. The drink is served chilled. Variations on the drink are popular in West Africa. Just a few of the many splendid sights along Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

From the Farm to the Feeding Frenzy

Somewhere near the Michigan-Indiana border, a black mare is crying.

Two Very Creepy Guys

Not quite sure how these guys are good for business, but this Army Navy Store's window displays sure do make for some seriously startling photographs.

A Day at the Blue Flame

One of this region's most classic roadside eateries, with a diner decor and neon sign to help extend its legacy for future generations. Once a 24-hour establishment, The Blue Flame opened for business in 1956 (when Route 51 was a two-lane highway), with seating for 25. As a wide-eyed child, I whizzed passed it from the back seat of a car during countless trips traveling from Pittsburgh to Uniontown to visit relatives. The dining area has since been enlarged, and you can order a beer with your eggs anytime!

I Believe in Neon

The restaurant's name and iconic flame design were created because The Blue Flame was one of the first businesses along Route 51 South to use natural gas. The gas company, a precursor to Columbia, even helped finance the sign. This catchy neon roadside advertisement looks stunning day or night. During the 1960s, this neon wonder was damaged by a passing truck. For years the sign announced "Country Fried Steak." Don't miss the animated "mister flame" (not original to the sign) on the side of the building!

Abandoned Chi-Chis

A Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurant reduced to a pile of rubble takes on a deeper meaning here in western Pennsylvania. Strolling the circumference of this "terrain vague," one cannot help but wonder at the remnants of faux tex-mex decor and canned southwestern architecture poking out through the debris, layers of disposable building materials with fabricated cultural flourishes in varying shades of rust, salmon and turquoise. If you stand with your back to this heap, you face the exact spot where, as a child, my mom and her cousins used to watch massive trucks dump slag from the Clarion Coke Works. In her words, it was every bit as exciting as a fireworks display. My brain suddenly creates memories of food smells (manufactured in a New Jersey plant?) from an elementary school birthday dinner held at a different Chi-Chi's location nearby. Scroll down for more visuals from this suburban photographic journey...

Demolished Chi-Chis

An online publication based near the Cincinnati-Kentucky border reports that "fans of Chi-Chi's restaurants will have to find a new way to get their fajita fix."

Chi-Chi's Signifiers

Once, I considered creating a website called