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When catastrophe wipes out a family of small businesses, the second generation must rise from the ashes.

Every industry has its own mini-lexicon.  Why shouldn’t it?  These neologisms might originate from journalism, where they achieve enough prevalence to become mainstream: e.g., the press’s notably unecological use of the word “ecosystem”, the cringe-inducing phrase that begins “help me unpack…”, or the use of “ask” as a noun.  The US Department of Defense has

Vandalism as a marketing campaign?  Apparently it’s just the City Way.

I caught wind of these competing, brightly contrasting layers of graffiti on a side street during my last visit to Indianapolis.  A rainbow of vandalism, so it seems. Sure, it sort of looks like tagging, but is it really fooling anybody?  The barely discernible reflection should indicate that these tags are behind a pane of

College Park: the Maryland uni town where retail should thrive. And doesn’t.

By this point, after two years of intermittent lockdowns and the ensuing impacts on businesses, we can all see it with our own eyes: retail is fickle.  I’ve written about this more times than I can count, since the very onset of this blog, waaaaay back when the biggest issue I could see was that

Black bollards: the Las Vegas Strip’s newest no-armed bandit.

I made an unusual and subtle discovery during my last trip to Las Vegas. (Let’s be fair now; it was only my second time there ever.  I’m hardly a regular, and I was a kid during the previous visit.)  Despite my limited experience there, I could tell almost immediately that the powers-that-be were engaging in

As roadside travel plazas get plush, why not make every old rest area a more welcome center?

The fate of interstate highway rest areas in the 21st century has been checkered, to say the least.  As privately owned service stations become larger and posher, state-operated rest areas have found it increasingly difficult to justify their existence.  In the eastern US, familiar names like Wawa, Sheetz, Pilot, and Love’s have expanded their convenience

Arlington Temple United Methodist: the gas station church gets its own catechism.

The primary photo in this article features a landmark that is widely known to people in the greater Washington DC area, particularly those on the Virginia side of the river.  But it isn’t significant or important enough to have any clout nationally or even outside the region.  It’s a visual landmark in the sense that

How can we tell if a restaurant is an ascendent chain? It calls itself “local”.

It’s been over a decade since I wrote about the fish, chop, and steakhouse known as Kincaid’s, a chain with a location in Carmel, Indiana (an Indianapolis suburb) that, based on my fleeting observations, was doing everything it could to downplay its very chainy-ness.   And that was the point.  The interior of Kincaid’s included

Sweet Escape: cleverly combining two fun pastimes so the axe hits the bullseye.

As the year winds down, I intend to avoid any aphorisms or wisdom accrued over the past year—far too cliché.  New Years Day is, after all, a capricious imposition of significance to a 24-hour period that otherwise if fundamentally like any other.  Just an arbitrarily agreed-upon point on the elliptical orbit.  Why impart words of

White stripes: in this context, the drums may be the most essential part.

It’s amazing the world of difference that a few stripes of paint can make.  Thirty years ago, the notion that various municipal public works departments would overtly reserve portions of our roads as exclusive lanes for bicycles was essentially an extravagance—a weird provision relegated to a few choice roads in college towns, which were the

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