The Great American Novel by Phillip Roth is simultaneously one of the most ridiculous as well as cuttingly accurate pieces of American literature that I have ever read, and it is easily one of my favorite novels. At one point in the story, the protagonist is discussing the potential of A Great American Novel with none other than Ernest Hemingway while out fishing for marlin; although they do not agree who will be the writer of said novel–perhaps a dentist from Westchester County, New York…Continue Reading “The Great American Travelogue”

Every once in a while, a star suffers an untimely death at the hands of tragedy. Only a handful of these celebrities and artists become cult heroes, who – since their star burns out long before ever fading away – are remembered just as they were in their heyday. But what about the sacred places where these legends came to their sudden end? Sometimes the loss is so agonizing and heartbreaking that their devoted followers build shrines at these sanctified dwellings to honour the memory…Continue Reading “Cult Hero Hotel Shrines”

The Main Street of America, as it has come to be known, is arguably the world’s most famous route, which is exactly why I’ve decided to focus this post around Motel Signspotting on Route 66. With no shortage of visual splendor –old-fashioned service stations and iconic water towers, all-American diners straight out of the 50’s and charming small-town cafes, big blue skies blanketing rolling hills and deserts, famous rivers and landmark bridges  – one of the most iconic sights on this historic route remains the colorful…Continue Reading “Motel Signspotting On Route 66”

If this blog has proved anything, it’s that old school motels can be alternately cozy or seedy, depending on how you look at it. The world of television certainly caters to both sides of this spectrum, as evidenced in the wide array of fictional motels that have become pivotal settings for a number of iconic television programs, such as Bates Motel. We’ve decided to rank three of the most memorable fictional motels from television’s recent past.   The Bates Motel from Bates Motel Our rating:…Continue Reading “Bates Motel and Beyond: Rating the Best and Worst Fictional Motels from the Small Screen”

Why have so many songs have been written about Route 66? In case this is news to you, here is a brief history lesson on the Mother Road, also known as the Main Street of America, also known as the Will Rogers Highway, and its deep-seated relationship with music. In 1946, American songwriter, Bobby Troup wrote (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66. The  song has been recorded by 11 artists including the Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode, and John Mayer. In 1994, there was an entire album featuring a…Continue Reading “Making Your Route 66 Playlist”

Motel neon signs once ruled America. They gave life to cities from New York to LA. But on the road they became truly mythological. Down Route 66 and the interstate highways, their wild colors blazed in the night. Beckoning the weary driver with the promise of modern comforts, they made far-off places seem welcoming. The history of American motel neon is fascinating, and it starts, oddly enough, in France. In 1910, French electrical engineer Georges Claude made a research breakthrough in lighting, making neon usable…Continue Reading “When Signs Ruled America: The Surprising History of Motel Neon”

Motel keychain

When check-out time comes along after a stay at a retro motel that has preserved its original accoutrements (like this great vintage Washington motel), I’m always a bit reluctant to give my room key back to the front desk clerk. This is not only because I’d like to prolong my stay but also because I have a penchant for the old-school motel keychain. After a quick browse through kitsch-friendly online marketplaces such as Etsy, I soon realized I am not alone in my appreciation for…Continue Reading “The Motel Keychain: Take Home A Piece of Retro Motel Kitsch”

Nearly two decade after Alfred Hitchcock first incited the horror genre’s fascination with creepy motels through his presentation of the ‘Bates Motel’ in Psycho, this particular choice of setting was revamped in the wake of 80’s slasher film genre. Injecting the setting with a twisted kitsch factor that is characteristic of the era’s cinematic offerings, the motels presented in certain campy horror outings really touches on a particular brand of nostalgia that pander’s to our love for the meeting point between motels and kitsch. Let’s…Continue Reading “Motel Hell and Beyond: The Motel Trope in 80’s Kitsch Horror”

Prior to the demise of the Jim Crow law brought forth by the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, journeying across America proved to be extremely difficult and often dangerous for African American travelers. Victor Hugo Green, a black New York postal worker, created the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide that mapped out black-friendly businesses. Published from 1936 to 1967, the Green Book became an indispensable reference for black motorists traveling throughout the segregated South and all-white Sundown Town municipalities along the Route…Continue Reading “Motel Sites Listed in the Green Book”

It’s no surprise then that famous writers and motels fit together easily. Motels are a fixture on the real highways and backroads of the USA. In books, they appear as a places of transience, refuge, solitary contemplation, or a place to get up to no good. Famous authors have holed up to write in some of America’s many motels. We have a look at some of their stories here.   Truman Capote Lived in a Kansas Motel While Writing In Cold Blood Speaking of famous writers…Continue Reading “Famous Writers and Motels”