Saturday, January 6, 2018

Full tilt: the Silverball pinball museum of Delray Beach, Florida

How do you think he does it? I don't know!
What makes him so good?

If you're a pinhead with a yen for flippers, bumpers, and a biff or two, there's a museum where you can play real, authentic pinball on 88 vintage machines dating back to the 1930s. They've also got a couple-dozen new-fangled videos games like Donkey Kong and Pac Man for the "youngsters" who grew up in the 80s. The Silverball Museum/Pinball Hall of Fame is housed in a 9,000-square foot, two-story former nightclub just off the thick of restaurants, shops and galleries of Delray Beach's Atlantic Avenue. And you don't need quarters — an admission fee depending on how long you want to play does the trick. After that you're free to sample all you want. The games act like a bit of pop culture history, and depending on your age, you'll probably be drawn to the games iconic to your era. Being late baby-boomers, we found the Evel Knievel and Elton John Captain Fantastic games reminiscent of the bowling alleys of our youth. This is owner Rob Ilvento's second vintage pinball emporium — the other in in Asbury Park, New Jersey — and this article mentions he only half-jokes he picked Delray Beach as a good excuse to visit his parents who live nearby.

They've also got food ranging from hot dogs and pizza to crab cakes and hummus platters. And there's beer and wine, too. Perhaps the sommelier can tell you what wine goes best with a 1977 Charlie's Angels. Game over!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Painting the town: Wynwood, Miami, Florida

Back in 2003, some forward-thinking folks created an arts district in a run down part of the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami that would eventually turn it into one of the largest open-air art installations in the world. Tony Goldman, a real estate developer and arts visionary, came up with the idea of capitalizing on the graffiti in the area due to its dilapidated state and spearheaded the painting of exterior murals by some of the world's premier street artists in an effort to increase pedestrian traffic. The area now houses art galleries, museums, restaurants, shops and art fairs and draws in locals and tourists from around the world. The art evolves, too, with new murals being created all the time. The neighborhood is still quite gritty, which adds to the credibility of the artworks' subject matter but the juxtaposition of a double-decker tourist bus with socks-and-sandals-wearing out-of-towners trundling through this ultra-urban art scene is amusing.

So if graffiti is welcomed by a community, does that diminish its credibility and rebellious nature? Will whitewashing a building become the new form of renegade art? Do pretentious
questions about what is and isn't art give you a headache? I think we've hit the wall here.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Key and appeal: A visit (pre-Irma) to Key West

We were lucky to take a brief trip to Key West, Eccentric Roadside's first, one week before Hurricane Irma hit. The Keys got beat up but bounced back and opened up to tourists a few weeks later, and the famous Southern-Most Point marker, a classic Key West tourist attraction people line up to get their picture takeen in front of, has been restored to its pre-hurricane luster after getting pretty badly bruised.

Good on you Key West, for restoring the laid back Jimmy Buffett vibe, and please, Eccentric Roadside readers, please go visit there because the local economy depends on you. As Mae West said, "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Now you've seen a mall: the retro-tastic Southgate Shopping Center of Lakeland, Florida

There's a shopping plaza in the central Florida town of Lakeland that's celebrating its 60th birthday this November, and it doesn't look a day over the Eisenhower administration. The Southgate Shopping Center on South Florida Avenue was the brainchild of George Jenkins, founder of the Publix grocery store chain. He figured a plaza with many stores would attract more customers than just a free-standing supermarket, a rather "no duh" idea by today's standards, but revolutionary at the time. The beauty of this location is the fact that that the stupendous parabolic arch with its mid-century modern lettering and style hasn't been updated to something more current and, in most cases of older places being "modernized," made bland. Say what you will about Southgate, bland it ain't. Director Tim Burton thought as much, and he chose the Southgate as a location for his 1990 movie "Edward Scissorhands." It's where Edward, played by Johnny Depp, has his hair salon.

Bravo to the Publix grocery store chain for keeping the retro vibe alive in Lakeland. It's Fat city,  the place to make the scene Daddy-O, and we dig it the most.