Hello, once again, fellow fans of pop culture travel. In the year or so since writing the introduction to my last book, we’ve had some wonderful adventures. I can speak for myself and my family when I say we’ve logged some of the best miles in our lives; meeting people and standing where spectacular things happened. And I know from the communiqués I’ve received from many of you that you’ve also been out exploring. To that end, I’d like to first thank you for all of the great ideas, suggestions, critiques and support. It makes this process much more fun and memorable.
If you’ve been with me through the books leading up to this one (James Dean Died Here and/or Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here), welcome back. If you’re new to the adventure, welcome aboard. Here, in what I’ll refer to as Volume III, the same rule applies: pinpoint the exact places where things happened. Just what things am I referring to? Pop culture landmarks, of course. Events that have shaped our memories and public perceptions, thrilled us, mystified us, horrified us and everything in between. Historic events. Not-so-historic events. Events that, for some reason, have gotten stuck in our collective consciousness (or that maybe should have gotten stuck if they haven’t already).
What makes this book different than the last two? One thing I’ve done more of this time out is to trace as many origins as I could think of—the exact spots where things like Memorial Day, Flag Day and “America the Beautiful” were inspired. Birthplaces of famous corporations and classic American brands where our foremost captains of industry changed the world, from Coca-Cola to Kool-Aid to Hilton. (Though I came up short locating exact site of the first Denny’s, then called Danny’s, back in 1953 in Lakewood, California. Anyone?) Places that inspired such famous paintings as Grant Wood’s American Gothic or Georgia O’Keefe’s The Lawrence Tree.
With this collection I’ve included other little-known origin spots such as where Alcoholics Anonymous was created, a section of where certain religions were formed and a collection of sites related to children’s literature.
Couple that with the inclusion of more exact sites from rock and roll, jazz, film, crime, TV, Americana and the just plain weird and you’ve got, well, the next book I always wanted to write. You’ll discover hundreds of places and events, arranged in clear order, loaded with the facts, figures and trivia that I hope helps bring it all to life.
So there you go. In case you’re interested, from here I will continue mining this concept of travel related to pop culture history. I have begun to outline the book that will result in the European version of this idea. I’m also currently working on The Ruby Slippers, Madonna’s Bra, and Einstein’s Brain— a book which locates specific cultural artifacts, as opposed to sites where events took place. And a few other projects I’ll save as surprises.
I would once again like to thank you most sincerely for being a part of this ongoing adventure. Without your support and interest, this would be a much different kind of project, and so I am indebted to you. Also, I want to acknowledge the many people I have met in researching these books, who have helped piece the places and events together. Historians, librarians, townsfolk and others, from all around the country—thank you for the stories and good remembrances. You help bring these events back to life so others can experience them.
Until our roads cross again, remember to appreciate and cherish that ground you walk upon every day. After all, something interesting may have happened on that very spot.