Tag Archives: history

Two Minutes in Canada

25 Jul

July 25, 2014

tribute2014

Americans have always looked towards Canada with fear and mistrust. But all that worry really just hides our own national insecurity. If Canada is America’s funny hat, what does it say about us? Why would we, as a nation, wear such a hat? Is America hiding a bald spot? Is it a hipster?

Fear not, Americans, the good ol’ US of A still has a full head of hair. It turns out that Canada is more than just a geographic chapeau; it has a rich history all its own, one that many of us who live under the Canadian brim are not aware of.

Being so far north, Canada has more than its share of hardships: Ice, snow, even many people who speak French. And worst of all, despite being so far north, Santa Claus shows it no special treatment and usually delivers Canadian presents last, on his way back to the North Pole.

But what do we learn about Canada in school? Fur trading. Canada has a lot of fur traders. At least it did back when the text books took place.

First, Americans traded with the Native American Indian* trappers.
Then, they traded with French fur traders.
December 10, 1984: New York Mets traded Hubie Brooks to the Montreal Expos for Gary Carter.

*Notice they don’t call them “Native Canadian Indians.”

Why was there so much trapping in Canada? Beavers. There were so many beaver dams in Canada that in 1833, official records show that a full 63% of Canada was underwater.

FUN FACT: The Montreal Expos were named after the expo, a small burrowing mammal hunted to extinction by French fur traders.

 

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Picture Postcard: 7up and Kentile Signs

12 May

May 12, 2013

New York can sometimes seem like a city of non-stop progress to those who don’t live here, but to New Yorkers, it is less a city of gleaming skyscrapers and more of a city of hidden enclaves. This is one of the not-so hidden ones. Most people have heard of Little Italy in Manhattan, but the Bronx boasts its own little Italy, on a stretch of Arthur Avenue. As I was walking down the avenue, I spotted an interesting sign down the street and sprinted over to see it up close. This is a very old 7up sign, on 187th street two blocks off Arthur Avenue.

100_0269TWT

There just aren’t many old signs like that left in the city, and the ones you do find often aren’t intact. I don’t know if this still lights up, and unfortunately I may never know as the luncheonette it is attached to is closed and empty, for sale. Luncheonettes are also a dying breed.

Here is the full street scene:

100_0268TWT

And here’s a dramatic shot of the other side of the sign, showing that both sides are intact:

TWT

And here’s a bonus. Last week, the iconic Kentile sign by the Gowanus canal and BQE highway in Brooklyn was lit up for the first time in years. This sign has been unlit for decades, but a tech company aimed lasers at it and lit it up from a distance for one night only. This isn’t just an old sign lit up again, this is an old sign lit up by focused laser beams.

Kentile

 

 

 

From the Mr. BTaRchives

6 May

May 6, 2014

This blog has been on WordPress since 2009. It has been around a lot longer than that, but you had to be on MySpace to see it, and we all know what happened with that site. So when everyone upped and moved out of MySpace one day, leaving me all alone (“Hey, where’d everyone go? Huh? What’s a “Facebook”?) I moved most of my old posts over to WordPress and continued on.

But while the posts were the same, the look was not. Although I didn’t keep any screencaps, I found a lot of old images of the blog on the Internet Archives site. Here is a smattering of the old looks of Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride.

1btrnov2009

Here we are, back in November of 2009, and I love the white text on a black background. However, I got a few complaints that it was hard to read so that didn’t last long. There are a few things worth mentioning here. First, the header. I took that picture myself in Coney Island. Since then, Astroland has been sold and the rocket has gone with it. If you go there today the burger boy is still there, but the rocket is long gone. The header also features one of my old taglines, “It is what it is.” We’ll see some more tags later on. That page also features my old bio, before the current one written by Mac of BIOnighT.

 2btrfeb2010

This is from February 2010. The black background is gone and you can see a little more of the Coney Island header. (There is much more to that image, still unseen.) I liked this theme because it leaves the header image clean. The sidebar has one of my favorite “raves,” from Jim at relicradio.com.

3btrapr2010

This is April 2010 and we’ve gone to a more modern header. In fact, I’m currently using a variation of that header right now. Do you see the grammatical error in this one? It isn’t really an error. At the time this was made, the software didn’t support apostrophes. I figured it looked good and no one would notice. The tag has also changed, to “some guy’s idea of fun,” which I still think sums this blog up.

4btrjune2010

June 2010 and we’re starting to look familiar. I changed to the current theme, but I’m using one of the generic WordPress color schemes. The tag has changed once more, to “Based on the novel “Mr. Blog” by Sapphire,” which is making me chuckle as I type but may be too dated to reuse.

5btraug2010

August of 2010 brought a new tag (“A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Wait- that’s Knight Rider.”) as well as a new “rave,” from the multi-talented JRD Skinner of flashpulp.com. He picked right up on my Superman obsession. There is also a “contact me!” link, which today can be found at the bottom of the “About me” page. I have to warn you, though- now, as then, I never check that email. All I ever get is spam about people wanting me to run their ads.

6btrjan2011

January of 2011 and I’ve changed to the green color scheme, which won’t last long. The tag has also changed to something close to my current tag. The header image is the first of a few city scenes and highway signs I’ve used over the years. This version of the blog added a few new pages, including the Scrappers page which is mercifully long gone. I added the Invisible Man founder image, and it popped up once or twice more over the years. I also wasted a lot of space with more “raves,” none of which appear on the blog anymore due to, quite honestly, my embarrassment. This particular Conway Twitty post still gets a ton of hits and the occasional angry comment.

7btrapr2011

In April 2011 I added the custom background which looks a lot better now than it does here. It still isn’t quite finished yet, but this is close to the way the blog currently looks. The founder is gone, replaced by my teaser (and I still love that ad) for the return of Mr. Know-It-All.

8btraprlate2011

Here we are. I added the sidebars, and there’s my Conrad Bain plaque. (Why? Why not?) You can also see an early version of the long running city header, which ran for longer than any other image.

There have been some other changes along the way, including a ton of American Chopper headers, and the Tepid Zombie header, which I still dust off when appropriate.

zombie-header

By the way, here’s the full Coney Island rocket header:

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The graffiti on the windows is my addition, but the rest of the building looks the same if you go there today, except for the rocket.

The blog hasn’t changed much in the last three years. The tag changed yet again, and there are some other small alterations. The site is due for another change, but no matter what, I promise not to go back to the white letters on black background.

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