As I wrote a few months ago in my blog entry – Amusing Signs of Detroit – Detroit neighborhoods and commercial strips have plenty of amusing and quirky signs. Several I’ve come across while riding in this city have misspelled words or no punctuation, and some are just hard to figure out. Others are difficult to read because the letters have sagged or dripped because the paint had run before they had a chance to dry. A few I’ve spotted while cycling throughout Detroit are professionally made and yet still have typos.
I admire the entrepreneurial spirit and pride that goes into the many odd signs I see, and I’m especially fond of those found leaning on a fire hydrant, stop sign or nailed haphazardly to a side of a building.
I’ll continue to share the amusing signs I stumble upon on my two-wheel travels.
This entry on Amusing Signs in Detroit is part of an ongoing series. To view the others in this series, simply click on the one of the headlines below.
“The Day Of The Locust” by Nathanael West
Written in 1939 near the end of the depression, this satire on Hollywood’s film industry follows the life of Tod Hackett, a movie set backdrop painter who is also working on an apocalyptic painting – “Hollywood in Flames”. He aligns himself with assorted characters on society’s fringe that have migrated to Hollywood in search of fame.
He meets and falls in love with Faye, a young “starlet”, who was raised by her father, a washed-up vaudeville clown who now peddles silver polish door-to-door. Although she spurns him, Tod doesn’t give up on her. Through his quest to win her over, he’s introduced to a cast of second-rate actors and other crude, screwball outcasts living on Hollywood’s edge. They include a screenwriter who has a dead horse sculpture in his swimming pool; Miguel, a Mexican that trains fighting chickens; a fiery, drunken dwarf; and Homer Simpson, a bookkeeper from Iowa just to name a few. I found it interesting that Matt Groening, creator of “The Simsons”, got the main character’s name from this novel.
West has a clean, concise writing style that reminded me of Raymond Carver. The neatness and his choice of words created strong visuals without a lot of unnecessary hyperbole. The character development was tight and the descriptions of their seedy environment, personalities and lifestyle drew me into their sparse, dysfunctional world where the characters are out for themselves, no matter the cost. I found myself laughing out loud at the antics and situations these characters found themselves in. At other times, I couldn’t help but feel sad and quite sorry for these hapless characters that have built their detached lives on Hollywood dreams that will never come to light.
I highly recommend this small, amusing 200-page book. It is well written and the characters so fresh and engaging that I read it twice over an eight week period. After all, how could one not love the visual image, such as the one below, found throughout West’s writing?
“Tod examined him eagerly. He didn’t mean to be rude but at first glance this man seemed an exact model for the kind of person who comes to California to die, perfect in every detail down to fever eyes and unruly hands.”