Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Great Loss

Things are a bit darker about the Hall right now- The Halls are mourning the loss of a dear family member.

(Source: Binghamton Mets website)
Jack Pranitis, a fixture in both clubhouses at NYSEG Stadium for the past 15 years, died peacefully on January 27th after a lengthy & courageous battle with cancer. He and his wife Pat of 52 years adopted visiting and B-Mets teams as their own and touched many lives throughout professional baseball. His devotion to the Binghamton Mets extended to his “vacations” in Port St. Lucie, Florida for spring training where he assisted with the New York Mets minor league clubhouse operations.Everyone associated with the B-Mets and Chenango Forks athletics for which he served as an athletic trainer passes along condolences to Pat, daughter Jude, sons Paul, Mike and wife Kelly plus the rest of the Pranitis family and many friends. He is greatly missed, but his legacy will live on forever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Remembering Randhurst

In 1962, in a quiet suburb outside of Chicago, well-known contemporary architect Victor Gruen, and three major department store chains forged not only an alliance, but the future face of shopping in the greater metropolitan area.
When Randhurst Center, as it was first known, sprung to life in Mount Prospect, IL, it was a breath of fresh air and a welcome boon to suburban consumers, who were no more likely to venture into the city to do their shopping than venture into the Serengeti to get their groceries.
It was close at hand, had a youthful airy feel and while many of its original design features are staples in malls around America now, they were unheard of in the early 60s. For instance, at the time of its opening, it was the first enclosed regional mall in the Chicago area and the largest enclosed air-conditioned space in the United States. One component, however, was entirely evocotive of that era; because the mall was built at the height of the Cold War, it included a fallout shelter presumably big enough to hold the citizenry of Mount Prospect.
Less than a decade after it was built, its supremacy was challenged by its much larger cousin, Woodfield Mall, only fifteen miles away. Randhurst held its own for a while, despite competing against a rapidly expanding suburban landscape, but by the 1980s, it was struggling. The mall underwent a major facelift, including a newer food court in the center, but the writing was on the wall. Another attempt at restructuring was made in the 1990s, effectively obliterating what was left of Gruen’s original design. In December of 2008, Randhurst Mall closed its doors forever.
There are plans to make a “new” Randhurst village, an outdoor community in its place. Oddly enough, while they may be “new” to that particular piece of real estate, the proposed concepts for the village appear to be no where near as fresh and as innovative as the groundbreaking designs once executed by Victor Gruen and his associates, over 46 years ago.

Getting the Dead to shut up, already!

Slabs” Coletti, trade embalmer for a prominent funeral home in upstate NY, tells the Monitor that dead men talking is becoming a regular problem.
“No, seriously”, he said, washing up. “They used to say, ‘Dead men tell no tales’. That may have been the case years ago. Maybe the dead were raised with better manners then, like kids used to be. Like removing your hat indoors and respectin’ your elders, it’s gone the way of the wringer washer and meals-in-flight. Nowadays, everywhere you look, the dead are talking.” He pulled on the rubber gloves. “Or snitching. In ‘The Sopranos’, death seemed to make snitches out of everyone. In ‘Dr. G- Medical Examiner’, we have to learn how to hear what the dead are trying to say; in ‘Pushing Daisies’ we’re supposed to figure out why the dead talk in riddles.” Slabs is renowned as a prep room philosopher, who takes pride in his work. It’s common knowledge around Central New York that one can always tell when Slabs had done the embalming- you can lift the guy by his big toe.
Said “Slabs”, while cursing out his old aspirator, “It’s a wonder we can get a word in edgewise. It doesn’t matter what kind of life you’ve led; people are more inclined to listen if you talk when you’re dead. Frankly, this is nothing new in Chicago. The dead have been toiling tirelessly in politics for decades. ‘If yer well, vote; and if yer dead- don’t!’ has been as popular a phrase there as ‘Vote early and vote often!’ Now, any ordinary slob off the streets, whose entire allotment for expression is spent when he wears his tee-shirt proclaiming: “I’m with stupid!” (-That always leaves me wondering, who could be considered more stupid compared to that?”) -that jerk gets credit for trenchant insight; after he dies.”
To make things worse, the recent trade magazines have been touting the slogan, “Every life creates memories- Vidstone© creates a legacy.” When asked by the Monitor what he thought of the newest innovation in the monument industry, “Slabs” only became more animated. “See, there’s just what I was complainin’ about!” he said, waving the trocar. “It’s a talking headstone,” he sputtered. Actually, to be specific, it was “the only solar-powered weather proof tribute player” according to the magazine.
Closer examination revealed a small TV screen affixed to a granite monument, documenting a sanitized, scrubbed clean and majestically scored biography of the dearly departed. Any digital video could be recorded on it, for the benefit of future generations.
“Now that’s just what we need. Have you ever watched kids in a Wal-Mart when their moms aren’t around? What’s the first thing they do? They push all the buttons on the talking toys and run away! Now picture those same errant youths let loose in a cemetery full of talking tombstones.” “How long did it take those hackers to break the iPhone? How long do you think it would take before some computer prankster has Uncle Aloysius intoning, ‘My baloney has a first name; it’s O-S-C-A-R….’?”
While this paper would no doubt enjoy the lively new advertisements that would likely arise from just such an innovation taking hold (i.e.: “Kids, lets all go to the cemetery and watch the iTomb, don't forget to bring your headphones.... Apple™® and iTomb™® are both registered trademarks of Apple Corporation. ©2008- All of Eternity. All souls reserved”), it is the opinion of the editorial staff that it is unlikely folks are going want to think, after hearing their Unka Al hawk hotdogs, “Gee, that’s the funniest he’s ever been”.
“Slabs” summed up the situation the best he could. “Apparently, Vidstone© anticipates future generations continuing to have ever-shrinking spans of attention, because they thoughtfully included a fast-forward button”, he said. “That’s for when you really want to hear ‘The end is near’”!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Winter Woes

While Mrs. H. has always professed a penchant for zippy little sport cars with overcharged engines and seriously unstable suspension systems, she admits to liking not a little the charming accessories attendant in luxury vehicles. So even though the thermometer had been dipping precipitously into the single digits, Mrs. Hall often indulged Mr. Hall's desire to keep the shine on the big black car blindingly bright and the interior showroom clean.

A quick trip to the car wash Tuesday afforded a hasty glow, but unfortunately, only spurred the weather gods on to further wrath. By Wednesday the freezing rain and ice had left only the most adventurous on the roads (the schools were closed for the second day in a row) and by Thursday, most DPW employees were throwing their hands up in disgust and meekly walking the impassible side streets home. Mrs. H. complained it was no longer possible to discern what color her 2002 Dodge Grand Saltlick actually was; and in fact, for all she knew, she could be driving someone else's family flivver. And the snow continued to fall- by 7:00 am Friday morning another nine inches of lake effect covered the back forty. Things were looking pretty serious and Mrs. Hall knew there was only one remedy for these blues- she sat Mr. Hall down in the big leather chair and re-introduced him to Rand McNally.
Images of deserts and cactus, blue mountains and the open road again filled Mr. H's head, the atmosphere in the Hall took a turn to the more lighthearted, and no amount of weatherman's gloom and doom could penetrate his concentration. While Mr. Hall is still in the throes of finalizing his flightplan, the Monitor feels it is safe to report that it will surely involve long hours under a blazing sun and lots of off the beaten path delights. Watch for the next installment of their travel plans: "The Road Less Graveled"- stay tuned!

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