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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Little View of New Orleans

  I am nearing my departure date for Paris, which will be in a little over six weeks.  To prepare for this, I've been studying the history of the city, as well as maps and online sites that tell me the best places to eat and the best places to visit.  Once there, I'll be able to share pictures and tales of wild adventure.  For now, I'll take a time out from my preperation for Paris and I'll turn my eye towards the city that is just a few hours from me and even closer to my heart.

New Orleans.

I just wanted to share some of the sights that we regularly enjoy in this wonderful town.  I am aware that many of you do not have the amazing opportunity we have to visit this jewel of the Mississippi Delta.

First off, we'll take a look at one of my favorite spots in the Quarter.  This is Pirates Alley.  It is tucked in on the western side of St. Louis Cathedral.  We are early risers, and love to walk this part of the Quarter in the mornings when there are not many people out, and it is quite peaceful in what is really just a little French village.

The doors with the yellow paint are the entrance to the Faulkner House Bookstore.  It was here that Faulkner wrote his first novel, Soldiers' Pay, in 1925.  The bookstore is on the first level, in the rooms which Faulkner rented.

If you follow the fence in the above picture back towards the photographer, then turn the corner off to the east, you will come to this corner, which is the intersection of Pere Antoine Alley and Royal Street.  Presently, George Rodrigue's Blue Dog is featured in the window, spinning in three colors.  Check out this corner from the satillite photo on Google Maps and you'll see Blue Dog peeking up at the big eye in the sky.
A few years ago, I snapped a shot of my wife Jennifer at this corner.
You can see why I think of this as my Breakfast at Tiffany's shot.  I knew I had to take this picture when I saw these two ladies get together for a once in a lifetime photo opportunity.  This is in the same window that is seen in the picture above.  I'm not sure which looks better in the window, Red Dog or Audrey Hepburn.  Only time will tell which of these iconic images will become a classic.

Just a block and a half down the street to the west (Red Dog is looking west from his window), is a lively part of Royal Street that is nicely captured in this shot.  Royal Street is full of art galleries and antique shops.  Here you can see the white sign to one of New Orleans' top restaurants: The Court of Two Sisters.  If you're looking for the best Jazz brunch in the world, this is it.  Royal is full of scenic balconies.  Bring your camera and take as many pictures as you can.  You'll be glad you did.

Now if you go back to Pirates Alley and head down to the south end of it, you'll come out at Jackson Square.  Turn to the left and you'll see the Stanley Restaurant on the corner of St. Anne and Chartes Streets.  Since I added a picture of Jennifer above, I thought I'd throw in a rare picture of yours truly.  I'm drinking coffee at this wonderful little cafe.  Let me explain.

One of the newest, chic, and expensive places in town to eat is a place called Stella!.  Now if you know the story, then you know that where Stella is, Stanley can't be far away.  But Stanley's not that chic.  He's a bit more down-to-earth.  So is his restaurant.  It's the place to stop on the Square to get a late night milkshake.  Or a great breakfast.  Great atmosphere, and t-shirts are allowed.  My kind of place.

Always a hit with the kids (and the guys too), you'll find The Sword and Pen Le Petit Soldier Shop also on Royal Street, just another block west of the Two Sisters.  They sell hand painted soldiers of every kind, and it is said to be the second oldest toy shop of this kind in the nation.  I once made a puzzle of this picture, and I know every nook and cranny of its facade.  From the column in the entry on the left to the bay window on the next shop over, this is one of the most pictuesque shots in all of New Orleans.  (Update: This store is no longer open.)

 This was a rare chance indeed.  Usually, the carriages are lined up at the south end of Jackson Square on Decatur Street.  However, due to an NFL party that was being thrown to kick off the 2010 season in honor of the New Orleans' Saints Super Bowl win, the Square had been cleared, and a stage was built on the south side of Decatur facing St. Louis Cathedral.  I was not aware of this until I showed up that day.  And here was this great shot further west on Decatur.  I'd never seen it before and I've never seen it since.  Perfect.

Even as we plan to visit Paris, Jennifer and I still talk about our next trip to New Orleans.  It is a city you can never forget.  There is no other place like it in the United States.

Don't forget to check out our New Orleans Calendars for 2014:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My View of Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University Campus, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

On a nearly perfect day I was fortunate to be able to spend an afternoon on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge.  After a late lunch with one of my sons, who then had to rush off to class, I had time to wander the school’s magnificent grounds.

LSU's Greek Theater
One of the many beautiful buildings that adorn the campus grounds.

 I began my tour at the Memorial Tower.  This 175-foot clock tower was built in 1923, though it was not dedicated until 1926.  Inside are the bronzed names of the 1,447 fallen Louisiana World War I soldiers for whom the tower was dedicated.  Every quarter hour, the Westminster Chimes can be heard.  I was too late to hear the LSU Alma Mater being played at noon.

From the open field to the east I was able to catch this view of the flag pole.  The Stars and Stripes were rippling in the brisk wind along with the Louisiana state flag.  The LSU banner, however, had slipped a clip and was doing its best to hang on to the cable.

 Facing the Memorial Tower is the impressive facade of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center.  Louisiana being a civil law state, the only one of its kind in the United States, LSU’s Law School requires the most hours of any in the nation.  So this is the place to study if you want to be a lawyer and you want to go to school where it will take the most time, which just doesn't sound that fun to me.

 But who cares about how much law you have to study?  Why not drop the law books and spend time studying the artwork above the entrance?

 The original center of life at LSU was the Quad, though now most of the activity can be found over at the Student Union.  But here at the quad the real beauty of the campus can be seen.  Amidst the Italian Renaissance flavor of stucco walls, red-tiled roofs, and airy porticoes, this quiet piazza is populated with ancient live oaks.  These oaks, along with the many magnolia trees on campus, are said to be valued at over $50 million dollars.

 Despite the students crisscrossing the courtyard, and the groups milling about, the whole scene manages to remain peaceful enough to allow for an afternoon nap.

Over at Tiger Stadium you might notice the windows that make up the perimeter of the stands.  It turns out that when Huey Long (then Governor and Kingfish of Louisiana) wanted to increase the seating capacity of the stadium, he was told there were no funds allocated from the state budget for such an expansion.  There were, however, funds set aside for student dormitories.  So Huey built dorm rooms at the stadium and built seats above them.  Students lived in these dorms until the 1980’s.  Good ole’ Huey.  Always thinking!  It wasn't the first time beds, money, and politics became tangled in Louisiana.

The original idea was to call this ‘Deaf Valley’, but it quickly became known as ‘Death Valley’.  You might think this moniker is alluding to the extremely high temperatures down here but that isn't it at all.  Visiting teams know the real reason; the Tiger’s record in ‘Death Valley’ at night is pretty tough to match.  (Since 1960, the Tigers are 219-60-4 in night games at home.)  And when the sun goes down during a game, the announcer makes sure everyone knows that ‘it is now night in the Valley of Death’.  It was here, in 1988, that the unranked Tigers came back to beat #4 Auburn with under two minutes to play.  ‘The Earthquake Game’ crowd made such a racket that it registered on a seismograph in the Geosciences building.

Just across the way from Tiger Stadium is what the students call the PMAC.  The Pete Maravich Assembly Center is the home of the Tigers basketball team.  Also known as the ‘House that Pete Built’, it opened in 1972.  (And thank God and Pistol Pete it was built, since LSU played in ‘The Cow Palace’ prior to this.  Not the best name for a sports venu.)  What I love about the PMAC is its futuristic design.  This is what I thought the world would end up looking like when I was six.  At this time, many buildings were built in this style.  Advertisers, movie-makers, and even illustrator's for children's books (Child Craft, anyone?) seemed convinced the world would soon abandon the right angle and build everything with acute angles, obtuse angles and wild curves.  I'm still mad that we don't all live in geodesic domes!

Snugged between the sports arenas and the campus buildings are two little hills.  The LSU Campus Mounds are believed to be 5,000 years old; older than the Egyptian pyramids.  Prior to football games, in the carnival atmosphere of Game Day, many kids whiz down the hills on makeshift cardboard sleds.

I leave you with a shot of Mike the Tiger.  He's just a big kitty who likes to sleep all day.  Below Mike, I'll toss in a few more shots.  The trolley was just a fun picture, as was the mailbox.  The whole campus was filled with color on that sunny day, especially purple and gold.  If you are ever in the area, make sure you take a few hours to walk this impressive campus!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My View of Gumbo

A great way to kick off the Mardi Gras season here in Lake Charles is to grab a bowl and join in on the fun at the World Famous Cajun Extravaganza and Gumbo Cookoff.  All you need to do is get about fifteen or twenty Krewes in one place, offer a prize for the best gumbo in the room, and then get ready to eat a lot of Gumbo.
  For those of you who do not live in an area where Mardi Gras is important, let me explain something to you.  This is serious stuff.  I've lived in dozens of places, all over the United States.  I've never been anywhere that cancels school for three days for Mardi Gras.  But they do here.  In fact, they don't just close down the schools.  The headline in yesterday's paper points out that a long-awaited trial would not start until after Mardi Gras.  It makes sense, since the local government is shut down till then.  There's just too much to do this weekend.
  And what better way to start than to have a Gumbo cookoff?  If you've ever had that silly little bowl of fake gumbo restaurants serve outside of Louisiana, you'll have to change your way of thinking.  The thing to remember is that gumbo can come in many different tastes and combinations.  The common thread is that they all have a roux base.  I'm not an expert on it but I know that it is made from flour and a fat of some kind (which could be butter, oil, or the more traditional animal fat).  You really have no idea how different gumbos can be until you get more than a dozen of the best together in one room where you can try them out.
  And that's what we get to do.  As you can see, these gumbos are mixed in great big pots, stirred with big sticks, and it is usually done by big guys.  (Usually with a big beer in their hand, too.)  Each of the gumbos is prepared by one of the many Mardi Gras Krewes.  Don't ask me to name them, I can't remember them all.
  Now, I've learned in my more than two decades in Louisiana what kind of Gumbo I like.  I'm not picky when it comes to the meat.  Most of it is chicken and sausage, and that's great.  Some of it is wild game, which in these parts, could mean...I'd rather not think about what that could mean.  I'm sure it's just duck.  Really.  Tasso is a favorite of mine.  The level of spiciness starts at pretty spicy, and goes up from there.  I can identify some Gumbos as mild, but I think I've been conditioned over the years and I suspect that there really isn't a mild gumbo in that room.
  The first time I went to this event I was surprised to discover how different the rouxs can be.  I like the dark ones.  Today, we found one that wasn't too spicy, and had a smoky flavor, which was the best I'd found.  I could have had three bowls of that but there were too many others to try.
  Before the gumbo is ladled into the bowl, a scoop of rice is dropped into the bowl.  Potato salad can be added right into the gumbo.  Crackers are offered on the side, though that is not too common.  One of the great  treats is if you can find a bowl with an egg in it.  The hard-boiled eggs soak in the gumbo pot and as you can imagine, they are fantastic.
  Before the gumbo is served, there is plenty of King Cake (a Mardi Gras sweet roll), cracklins (if you have to ask, don't), and boudin.  Boudin is a personal favorite of mine.  It's like a rice sausage with all kinds of goodies stuffed in with it.  And it is almost always really hot.  It took this Yankee a long time to get use to all the cayenne pepper around this here place.  A note to all you newbies--keep a glass of water with you at all times. Even when you taste something and say 'hey, that's not really spicy'.  Yeah.  Just wait.  And hold the water close to your lips just in case.  And don't, don't drink Sprite if you're trying to drown cayenne pepper.  That is a bad idea.

And where else can you get great food like boudin in a camoflaged bowl?  Ya'll in the other parts of the world just ain't that lucky.
  So all of this great eating is going on while a local band knocks out great blues and cajun music.  The pretty cool part of this is that the entrance fee is only five bucks a head.  For the amount of food you can eat, that's a steal.
  And this year's cookoff was in the middle of a heavy rain and thunderstorm.  With the trees blowing in the background as seen through the floor to ceiling windows of the Buccaneer room, it looked like a Hurricane party.  Just the way we Louisiana folks like it: rough weather, loud music, and spicy food.
  I had to add this little guy here.  They start their zydeco players out at an early age here.  Just look at him go!

I'll add a few more shots of the festivities.  Now, is anybody hungry?
Costumes abound in purple, yellow and green.
That's quite the prize-winning duck!
The gumbo is ready to be had.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My View of Germany from Louisiana

  One of the most unexpected joys that has come out of this blog has been the wide range of readers that have visited my page.  Many of you who read my blog are from Russia, Great Britain, France, Pakistan, Brazil, the Marianas Islands, and many other fantastic countries.  This is one of the most amazing factors of the Internet: so many people have met who would have never interacted fifteen years ago.

  My wife Jennifer has also met many people outside the United States.  One of those new friends lives in Germany.  We were quite pleased when he took the time to send us some postcards from that beautiful country.  (For you young people out there, a postcard is something like a status update on Facebook.  It shows a picture of some place you have visited, and you send this picture to a friend, with a note on the back of it.  See?  A Facebook status sent through the mail!)  I've had dozens of photos sent to me on Facebook, but none of them were as exciting as getting one postcard in the mail.  Maybe I'm old fashioned, but it really says something when a friend takes the time to drop a postcard in the mail.  Especially from over five thousand miles away.

  What the postcard sender did not know is that I took two years of German language class in High School, and my teacher, who had spent a great deal of time in Germany, use to tell us of his many travels in Germany, filling our heads with stories of snow, autobahns, and lots of German beer.  We loved it.  Sadly, I allowed much of my knowledge of German to fade away, but I never lost my interest in Germany.  It is why I was so happy to see our German postcards in the mail.

  Here's what struck me after the third postcard arrived.  Though we travel a little, we are pretty busy, and don't get out from our home town too much.  And yet, through friends, we have been able to peer into a part of Germany (and Austria) we would not have been able to see from here on our own.  Of course, the name of my blog is Room With No View.  And it has a meaning.  I have a small bedroom, which is really a walk-in closet, that I use when I work the night shift.  It has no windows and I can sleep in the dark during the day.  Often, I sit in there with my laptop, surfing the web, seeing the world from this room with no view.  Little did I guess, when I started the blog, that so many people from other parts of the world would be able to see into my small world.

  This blog, through the Internet, is a window through which I can see out and others can see in.  So, without further explanation, I would like to share with you what has been shared with me.  Jennifer's friend Gunther(and I would certainly count him as a friend, as well), sent these postcards to us, and I pass them on to all of you readers.  My sincerest thanks go out to Gunther for his kindness and thoughtfulness.

The first of the cards was a collection of photos of the churches of Gorlitz.  The easternmost city in Germany, Gorlitz, once on both sides of the Lusatian Neisse river, is now a divided city.  The city on the east bank of the river, now part of Poland, is called Zgorzelec.  Today, the residents of both cities can cross freely from one side to the other.

  As you can see in the postcard, these large churches are simply beautiful.  I'm sure the interiors are even more stunning.  I am intrigued by the modern design of the Kruezkirche (top right), but I am partial to the traditional architecture of the Kreuzkapelle (Cross Chapel) and the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche (Holy Cross Church) on the bottom row.

  Next we see a wonderful view of Munich.  Gunther tells us there is a pretty Christmas market where one can eat Lebkuchen cookies while drinking spicy mulled wine.  The cookies sound great.  Googling them tells me they are traditionally large cookies that are somewhat like gingerbread.  That would certainly hit the spot!  And Jennifer is a big fan of mulled wine, which she usually gets at our annual Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston.

  Again we see magnificent churches, eclipsed only by the Alps in the distance.  In the foreground you can see the Siegestor (Victory Gate) of Munich.  Built in the mid 1800's, with lions pulling the chariot instead of horses, it was partially destroyed near the end of the war in 1945.  What remains is still impressive, and its inscription now reads "Dem Sieg geweiht, vom Krieg zerstört, zum Frieden mahnend", which translates as "Dedicated to victory, destroyed by war, reminding of peace", according to Wikipedia.
  Munich must be a very colorful city.  Just in this view, we can see red roofs, a yellow cathedral, a while cathedral, and the blue-green copper domes of the Frauenkirche.

  The third postcard of the set is a winter wonderland of snow and fun.  Zell am Ziller, a town in Austria, is certainly picture perfect for a postcard.  This looks nothing like the cross-country skiing I use to do in Michigan.  This is the real deal.  Set in the Tyrolean Alps, our friend on the scene tells us the fresh air is exhilarating.  It is also -20 degrees Celsius!  That's -4 degrees Fahrenheit for us in the States.  For us here in Louisiana, that's more like...death! 

  As you might know, I'm an avid reader and film buff.  I can't help but think this location would be great for an Alistair MacLean novel or movie: vast scenery, yet isolation in a cold setting.  That would be delightful!

These three postcards stay on our refrigerator, and now you can enjoy them too.  I hope that those of you who are in distant lands might consider sending me pictures from your country as well.  I would love to share them with everyone here.  If you'd like to send me pictures by e-mail, you can do so at  If you'd like to send me postcards (I'd so love to see them in my mailbox) then just e-mail me for my postal address.

Thanks again to Gunther for the excellent postcards! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Good Art (Part 1)

  I have recently been having conversations with friends and family regarding art, and what constitutes good art vs. bad art.  (Pardon my simple labels.  If you are looking for highly educated criticism, please, don't continue reading.)  A co-worker related his experience at a local museum.  He was intrigued to hear that our local museum had an exhibit of Andy Warhol paintings.  He announced his intentions of going to view the exhibit.  I did not comment.  I thought I'd let him form his own opinions.  When he returned to work, he told me that he was less than impressed.  In fact, the words he used to describe Warhol's work are words I'd rather not use in my blog.  Needless to say, he felt the seven dollars he spent on the viewing would have been better spent on two coffees at Starbucks.
  I could have saved him the loss of cash.  A Warhol fan I am not.
  But many people are.  And that's the magic/frustration of art.  Anybody can like nearly any type of art.  And I'm fine with that.  If there are people who wish to ignore serious skill and beauty in art for the crass, mundane, or even the ugly, so be it.  As far as we know, there are people in the world who actually enjoy eating bugs.  As they say, there's no accounting for taste.
  This sort of logic calms me when I realize that people would rather spend money on the latest Stephen King foolishness instead of a book by a more sensitive author like, say, yours truly.  It is comforting to know this happens because some people just can't recognize real talent.
  But I digress while attacking another artist in my field.  (Which, by the way, is the number one pastime of just about every artist who ever lived.  Seriously.  I'm not joking.)
  So let's look at what I consider to be good art.  (Great Art sound better?  Or maybe Exceptional?)
  For this post on Good Art, I'm going straight to the top.  No fooling around.  Let's look at the master.

File:Van Gogh The Road Menders-1889-Phillips.jpg
The Road Menders (Wikipedia image) 

Here you can see Vincent Van Gogh's "The Road Menders" (1889).  Please take to the time to click on this image and enjoy the detail of this exquisite work.  Gaugiun, who spent time painting beside Van Gogh, once remarked that Van Gogh's painting looked nothing like the scene they were both painting.  Van Gogh's reply was along the lines that he was painting what the scene looked like to him.  And that's what makes this so wonderful; the chubby trees, the golden swirl of the sun.  There is so much to see in this moment that he has captured; the women passing by, the men working, backs bent to their tasks.  Doesn't matter that they are not fleshed out with detail.  The real focus here is on the trees.  They not only hold the center of the painting, they also seem to be holding up the top of it.

Churchyard in the Rain (1883)
Image from The Van Gogh Gallery
In this pencil and pen drawing, Van Gogh sticks with the image of workers, only this time, they are not hidden by the overpowering trees and golden sun.  They are more centralized, though now the rain covers them.  In fact, so many of his workers are covered by something.  His famous wheat field series portrays sowers and plowmen and reapers with storm clouds overhead, or the sun beating down, or even just the full blue sky bulging overheard as if the workers are about to be inundated with blue paint.  I don't think I've ever seen one of these workers looking up at the sky.  They are always bent low, their backs turned away.  They are too busy in their work to pay attention to the stunning views that surround them.  That is for Van Gogh to see.  It is his job to paint it so that the rest of us may see it. 

Le Moulin de la Galette Terrace
 and Observation Deck
 at the Moulin de Blute-Fin,
Montmartre 1886
(photo by Jason Reeser)
This next painting I had the honor of seeing in person at the Art Institute of Chicago a few years ago.  The photo on the left is my own.  What strikes me about this is that fact that nearly every artist would make an effort to perfect the alignment of the streetlights.  Symmetry!  But not Vincent.  He is far more interested in the whole.  Seriously, look at the lights.  They don't really even match.  But in the end it doesn't matter.  Standing in front of this I was taken in by the whole scene.  I didn't care that the lights look mismatched.

  If we are to believe the history, Van Gogh only ever sold one painting in his life.  That did not stop him from producing over two thousand pieces in a ten year span.  It, however, keep him from earning enough money to promote politicians on his day-time television show.  So maybe his obscurity was a good thing.
  But it was, really.  Do we really believe he could have kept up this pace if he had been a public sensation?  Probably not.

The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles  At this point let me add that if you are interested in Van Gogh, there is a book that you must read.  I mean it.  It may just be the best book I've ever read on art.  The book is called The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in ArlesIt details the time when Van Gogh and Gauguin spent time together.  It is a great chance to learn about both artists as well as learn about what makes an artist, and you might learn what art means to you in the process. 

What do you consider to be great art?  I will come back to this subject again, and add to my examples.  It won't all be paintings.  It won't always be from famous artists.  And it will always be my opinion.  So add your own to this by leaving my your thoughts.  Because art should always hit us on a personal level.  If it doesn't, it may not be good art.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Lost Art of the Television Intro

  Though I have not been a big fan of modern television, I will admit to having watched every episode of 24 and Lost.  And while I think that these were excellent productions, I was always bothered by their abbreviated introductions.  Lost's intro could actually be called non-existent.  The word Lost slowly revolving, and getting closer while an eerie sound accompanies it?  Underwhelming.
  So just yesterday, while watching an episode of one of my favorite all-time detective shows, I was reminded of just how excellent a TV intro could be.  Which led me to do a mental inventory of what shows really hit the nail on the head in this category.  I'll leave out the iconic story-telling intros that are too obvious--The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan's Island, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Instead, I just wanted to look at the ones that really set the mood, both visually and musically, for the show being introduced.  And really, when I look at it, there is little difficulty in coming up with five great examples.
 I'll start with Hill Street Blues.

  This intimate look at police work starts with the typical siren and lights of a police cruiser rushing into action.  But right off the bat, the music fades in with a soft jazz that lets us know this show was not about car chases and shoot-outs.  Instead, it was a landmark show that spent season after season highlighting the personal costs of maintaining law and order.  The intro was sublime, and nearly impossible to take your eyes off it as it played each and every week.  (And that's not just because it lingered on Veronica Hamel at the end, but that didn't hurt.)

Get Smart

  This was a no-brainer.  And by that I mean choosing it, though the intro certainly gave us an indication that this show was a no-brainer.  But just watch this intro and soak in the genius of it all.  We see a sporty little car careen around the corner, we see the suave agent emerge, we watch him penetrate layer after layer of security protocols as he enters the spy inner-sanctum, we watch him drop through a devilishly clever phone-booth, all to a hip, jazzy beat that is really easy to dig.  What?  Wait a minute... that's really a pretty dorky little car, and Don Adams is hardly suave (more like cornball), the security system opens door after door with the simplicity of a grocery store electric eye, and the man falls down a hole just to enter the office!  And that's the genius of it all.  Get Smart took the hip, cool spy genre and flipped it upside down.  And this intro demonstrated this perfectly.


  There's two things here that really stand out.  First of all, the images are just perfect.  After the glimpse of modern times, we fade back to an earlier time, the Boston of old, where we see dapper bartenders and gay party-goers.  At no time do we see the stars of the show, yet as each name appears, we see vestiges of the characters in these dated pictures.  Just enough to remind us who populates this authentic, Boston pub.  And speaking of pubs, that's the second part of this intro that is so perfect.  Through the use of a ballad, with lyrics that millions of Americans could relate to at the end of a hard day at work on Thursday night, with one more day of work left in the week, we were easily convinced that a bar was such a wonderful place for these characters to spend their lives.  It just made sense to us.  And made us want to be able to join these people, regardless of the fact that they were, for the most part, a pack of idiots.

The Rockford Files

  This is one of the best of the best.  Here we see Jim Rockford, on the job as a private detective.  But we don't see images of car chases, we don't see him going toe to toe with thugs.  We don't even see him in the arms of lovely clients.  What we see is him sitting at a diner, patiently watching from his car, from a street corner, we see him putting on his coat, heading out the door, shopping in the frozen food section, and basically leading the mundane life of a two-bit gumshoe.  There is very little glamour about these shots of Los Angeles.  And there's no video, just the compilation of photographs, as if we are on the stakeout, staring at so many photos of this man's daily routine.  The music is the extra touch here.  This was the seventies, we'd just seen a decade of the greatest jazz music with TV intros like I Spy, and The Saint, yet the music here is nearly honky-tonk, letting us know that we're not dealing with the hip crowd.  Rockford deals with the lower classes, which are often masquerading as the upper classes.  I'll just add one more thing.  That image of Rockford with the sunglasses, reflected in the mirrored glass, is one of the coolest images ever to grace a television set.


  This has to be the best of them all.  A situation comedy that uses the song "Suicide is Painless" with images of an Army Mash Unit rushing about as wounded are flown in.  Hardly makes sense, unless you've watched the show.  Then it all makes perfect sense.  Here was a show that pretended to be a comedy but in fact was merely a window into the rotten world of war.  This show was on so much, as I was growing up, that I must have heard this theme thousands of times.  And yet each time I hear it, it still makes me stop and stare.  Which, I'm sure, is what war must be like.  Interestingly enough, each season had a different version of the song, and some of the seasons had multiple version of it as well.  Yet, the overall effect was never lost.  The sound of that helicopter in the background seals the deal.  Knowing that no matter what silliness was going on during the show, every petty fight, love tryst, and sweet moment could be brought to a halt by that one word:  Choppers!

So remember these gems the next time you see one of these three second abbreviated intros to today's modern shows.

Let me know what intros were your favorites!  I had to leave out so many...Magnum, Charlies' Angels, CHIPs, Emergency!, and Welcome Back Kotter, to name a few.