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Blues Brothers may return to television August 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Music, Television.
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The Blues Brothers, the musical duo that Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi made famous on “Saturday Night Live” during the 1970s, may soon return to television as a prime-time series.

According to Variety, the screenplay for a pilot episode has been written. Aykroyd and Judy Belushi, John’s ex-wife, own the TV rights.

Script has the pair out of jail and Elwood, who was raised in an orphanage, looking for his real dad. Casting has yet to be determined.

Beatts, Belushi and Eric Gardner of Panacea Entertainment would exec produce. Aykroyd will participate in the project as the voice of Jake and Elwood’s parole officer.

Entertainment Weekly magazine reported:

Finally, “It would be Route 66 meets Glee, and it all goes to hell in a handbasket,” Beatts said. For people not around in the 1960s, Route 66 was a TV show about two young road-dogs cruising the country in a Corvette. The Glee reference reflects an intention to include a musical number in each episode. Unfortunately, both shows seem like something Belushi would raise an eyebrow over.

Also, the first “Blues Brothers” movie was shot all over the Chicago area, including a scene in front of the state prison in Joliet, Ill. The prison sat very near Route 66. And Joliet tourism officials have been playing up the Route 66 and Blues Brothers connection for years.

A lot of folks act skeptical about this TV revival of the Blues Brothers, but it seems wise to reserve judgment until we actually see an episode.

It also should be noted that “The Blues Brothers” movie initially was regarded as a flawed and bloated film. But it’s aged well, especially because of the musical numbers:

And not many people know this, but Aykroyd and Belushi were inspired to form the Blues Brothers primarily because of these two guys:

Bike MS event on Route 66 aims for $500,000 August 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Events, Road trips.
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The annual Bike MS Oklahoma Ride cycling event next month on Route 66 is aiming to raise $500,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oklahoma chapter, reported the Edmond Sun.

The 26th annual Bike MS Oklahoma Ride is a statewide cycling event heading from Tulsa to Oklahoma City for fun along Route 66 with stops along the way at many of the historic landmarks.

Cyclists will ride about 150 miles during both days. Along the ride cyclists can find rest stops every 10-12 miles and support and gear vehicles will be available between stops. [...]

The ride begins at 7 a.m. Sept. 17 and at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 18.

Day One starts at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Tulsa and goes to Chandler, and Day Two starts in Chandler and ends in Oklahoma City at the state Capitol.

Here’s a report from last year’s event:

Bike MS is truly one of the great charity events in Oklahoma. And I’ve heard so many people like the trek on Route 66, they come back to do the Mother Road on another date just for their own enjoyment.

To register to volunteer or to sign up for bus transportation, go here or call 918-488-0882.

The father of “Route 66″ August 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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A recording by Bobby Troup of a song he wrote in 1946 that has subsequently been recorded by hundreds — perhaps thousands — of acts over the decades.

Pale Blue Whale August 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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Do not adjust your computer screen. No, the Blue Whale has not died, so you’re not seeing a ghost. And the Blue Whale hasn’t turned pale because he saw a giant harpoon.

But the Route 66 landmark in Catoosa, Okla., is undergoing an extensive repair and repaint job by Bill Haynes Co. of nearby Tulsa. The Blue Whale has turned white because the company has applied a primer coat before returning it to its normal color.

The Blue Whale, last repaired about 15 years ago, had developed cracks in its concrete. It became iffy whether the blue behemoth, which has graced Route 66 since 1970, would survive another winter of punishing ice and snow.

When I visited the Blue Whale on Tuesday evening, the mouth of the Blue Whale was barricaded to allow the primer coat to dry. Otherwise, the rest of the grounds remained accessible.

Blaine Davis, longtime caretaker of the Blue Whale and son of its creator Hugh Davis, said Bill Haynes Co. had offered to repair and repaint the roadside attraction for free. In return, the company would use the Blue Whale’s image in its advertising for a three-year period.

Haynes started its work at a good time — a summer-long drought has lowered the pond’s water level, allowing the company to paint more of the Blue Whale’s surface.

The company is expected to be finished by the end of the week.

The Bill Haynes Co. also recently repaired and repainted the iconic Golden Driller of Tulsa.

Haynes is using the UltraCoating system, which provides a lot of flexible protection from heat, cold and precipitation. Davis says the company expects the new coating to last 35 years.

The roof of the Blue Whale’s bathrooms is getting a new coat of paint as well.

UPDATE 9/6/2011: KOTV in Tulsa filed a report about the Blue Whale’s renovation. According to the report, the wooden deck will be refurbished next. And there’s this little item:

The Blue Whale will undergo a mini-makeover in late October when an elaborate lighting system will turn it pink in honor of breast cancer awareness and Blaine’s sister, who died of the disease in 2006.

UPDATE 9/26/2011: A story about the whale’s restoration by the Tulsa World.

Mural painter keeps getting work in Needles August 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Restaurants.
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Back in April, the Needles Desert Star reported about Dan Louden, who’s been painting murals and brightening the Route 66 town of Needles, Calif.

Today, the Los Angeles Times caught up with him. Since the initial report, Louden and his girlfriend Vicky Bowden have painted a few more walls in town. A slideshow of his work can be seen here.

Susan Alexis, owner of the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in town, was the one who discovered that Louden possessed artistic talent:

When he mentioned it to her while breezing through town earlier this year, she hired him on the spot. Alexis had wanted to paint the restaurant’s side wall ever since noticing how ugly the bank of cinder blocks looked on Google Maps’ street view.

“I just wanted to bring some nostalgia to the building. We have so much history here, but our town doesn’t reflect it,” Alexis said. “Now, everyone around town is talking about the guy.” [...]

With work pouring in, they have camped out at the Needles Inn for weeks at a time, working almost every day. It help that he’s affordable — $500 for a mural covering the side of a small building — and fast. Most jobs are wrapped up in a day. When they overheat in the scorching Mojave sun, they take a dip in the Colorado. [...]

“It’s certainly brightened up downtown, and hopefully it’ll help bring more tourists in,” said Needles Mayor Edward Paget. “It’s not like this was planned. People are doing it on their own — and they’re being greatly encouraged by both myself and the City Council to improve downtown.”

It appears Louden isn’t finished, either. The county’s fire department may hire him to repaint its fire station in Needles.

Murals have become an increasingly popular way to dress up Route 66 towns, including Cuba, Mo.Tucumcari, N.M.; Atlanta, Ill., Bethany, Okla., and Pontiac, Ill. And an artist also is leading a charge to paint about a dozen murals on Route 66 in Oklahoma.

Requiem for The Coliseum August 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Museums, Music.
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A story today by Jason Nevel in the Springfield State Journal-Register all but confirms what we’ve suspected — that the historic Coliseum Ballroom in Benld, Ill., won’t be rebuilt after a fire destroyed it a month ago.

The story instead serves as a sort of requiem for the former music venue, which opened in 1924 a few years before Route 66 was certified. The property sits on an alignment that served as Route 66 from 1926 to 1932.

Some interesting nuggets from the story:

  • A group of six people is encouraging the Coliseum’s owner to donate its porcelain neon sign to the Illinois Route 66 Museum in Pontiac, or build a Coliseum Ballroom museum.
  • By my count, the Coliseum played host to 11 future members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Shadow of a Doubt, the band that was performing on the Coliseum’s stage when the fire broke out, lost more than $40,000 in music equipment in the blaze. Two of the band’s members were hurt. Electrical problems are suspected in the fire.

With the fire, the Natatoriumin Amarillo probably has emerged as the most historic music venue on Route 66. It dates to 1922, and was converted into a music venue in 1926.

Pay it forward … over and over August 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in People.
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Stephen Box of CityWatchLA tells the story about a Spaniard couple, their Route 66 trip, and the aftermath when Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Stanton, Ill., inadvertently shortchanged them $10.

He told the Route 66 yahoogroup about his mistake:

Rich put out the word to his network and urged everybody on Route 66 to keep on the lookout for “a young Spanish couple in a white vehicle” and then he pleaded “please give them a $10 bill and I will reimburse you ASAP for it.” [...]

Passing through Afton, Oklahoma, population 1073, they met Laura Kane of the Route 66 Afton Station who reports “They couldn’t understand why everywhere they went, people were offering them $10. They indicated that the folks on Route 66 must be the nicest and most honest people in the world.”

The folks in Phelan, California kept on the lookout in anticipation of their Spanish guests, this time with a microphone in hand instead of a $10 bill. In the words of James M Conkle, editor of the Route 66 Pulse, “This story is really what Route 66 is all about.”

At least three other people gave the couple $10, probably more.

This saga proves that Route 66 is essentially a 2,200-mile-long small town.

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