Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meet Victor

This is Victor and he has worked at the As Seen On TV Outlet™ off I-75, exit 141 in Campbell County, Tennessee ever since it opened four years ago. The outlet store, which is connected to a Stuckey’s gas station, is a popular stop for highway motorist on their way to and from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Victor says the most unique thing about working at As Seen On TV™ is the people that come through the door. “You see them one time and then you never see them again”, Victor smiles. Once Dave Hunter, author of the guidebook ‘Along Interstate 75’ that is sold in the store, came in and autographed a copy of his book for Victor.
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(Autographed Copy of the book 'Along Interstate 75')

Victor has seen the infomercials for all of the products sold in the store. “Most customers already know what they are looking for when they walk through the doorway”, he says. Mimicking a customer, “I saw the Magic Bullet™… or I saw Showtime Rotisserie™.... can I get it here?” The most popular items at the store are George Foreman Products™, Miracle Blade Knives™, Quick Chops™, Showtime Rotisseries™, and The Original Chocolate Factory™. In addition the Marshmallow Blow Gun™, which simply allows you to blow and shoot marshmallows, was the number one college kid toy in 2004. He says the most ridiculous inventions in the store are the new improved remote control Fart Machines™ and Tee Time™ on a toilet that allows participants to 'play golf while they go'.

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(My friend Peter holding a Marshmallow Blow Gun™)

Victor owns more than his fair share of the products he sells. His favorite items for using at home are the Miracle Blade Knives™ and the flexible cutting mats that lay on your kitchen counter for protection.

If you ever drive along interstate I-75 in Tennessee stop and say hello to Victor. He is there almost everyday. As an exit marker look for the gigantic 100 ft white cross that stands directly in front of Adult World, a huge adult video and arcade store off the highway.

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Victor was excited to meet a new stranger

Showtime Rotisserie™
Fresh healthy food has never been easier to prepare. Our new Showtime Compact Rotisserie & BBQ Oven features a 3 hour automatic timer so you can spend less time cooking and have more time for your active lifestyle.

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The Original Chocolate Factory™
Turn Ordinary Desserts Into Extraordinary! Is your dessert so boring, it's left your family snoring? Not any more. Introducing The Chocolate Factory. The fun, easy way to turn ordinary desserts into extraordinary! Just place in store-bought chocolate, select your favorite treat, then simply dip it, dunk it, fill it or pour it. Regular pots can burn chocolate, but chocolate factory's double boiler is two pans in one. The bottom heats water while the top quickly melts chocolate into a smooth and creamy sensation. You will receive a Dipping Spoon which is perfect for nuts, candies or strawberries. You'll also receive the Dipping Fork which is ideal for pretzels, bananas, or macaroons. And the kids will love the designer molds. Snowmen during the holidays; dark chocolate flowers for a bridal shower; American flags for the 4th of July. Even Teddy Bears and fancy Seashells.

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Quick Chops™
Quick Chop is the fast and easy way to Quick Chop, mince, slice and dice with just a tap. Simply place your favorite vegetables under the Quick Chop, give it a tap, and shred cabbage for coleslaw, chop celery and carrots for stir-fry, and slice potatoes for homemade fries. When you tap down on the Quick Chop, six carbon steel blades slice your food perfectly then the blades retract and rotate so on the next tap the blades chop a different area. Tap the Quick Chop twice for onions to top your burger, one more tap for easy diced onions. And add another tap to enjoy finely minced onions…with no tears! Quick chop is faster than a knife, easier than a food processor and strong enough to crush ice.

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Victor's favorite cutting mats

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Standing outside the store

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Meet Luis

This is Luis and like myself he interviews random people. Luis approached my friend Aileen and I inside the Anglo Mania British Fashion Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Handing Aileen a notebook he asked her to write an anonymous short story about a dating experience in New York City. Luis, who is publishing a book, has conducted over 2,028 interviews with women in Manhattan over the past ten months. He intends to reach his goal of 2,500 stories in 365 days. The Kiss and Tell Project © is sponsored by Moleskine®, Kodak® and Starbucks®, pending a grant from the National Endowment For the Arts and has raised the interest of three book publishers. The book will consist of women's intimate stories about lust, love, and relationships accompanied by Luis's photography. Luis revisits the locations where he has interviewed when no one is around and takes photographs. “I have pictures from all over the city but you don’t see a single soul in any of the photographs. For example you will see a club and it will be completely empty. The point is that everybody has a story and the story that you may share is private but the location where you do it is very public because we all share common space in New York City.” Luis only conducts interviews in New York because he enjoys the perspective of the city and feels that the stories would be more traditional elsewhere.

Luis makes his living as a casting director and fashion photographer, a world he finds very superficial. As a result he felt the need to conquer the reality of the human experience. He choose relationships, dating and sexuality, topics he says that by in large people have in common whether it be a heartbreak or a successful romance. He also confesses that he was a total womanizer when he first started the book. "I dated a lot. I was not quite shy about sex. Love was different though, even though I always dreamt of being in love. Sex was much more accessible, especially in Manhattan. Love was not there. Or maybe I was not finding it because I would look for it in strip clubs, in casting rooms, in clubs, in modeling agencies--anywhere where I could feel exclusive. Also, I must add that I have always been intrigued by it. It did not seem weird but rather, intriguing."

Luis is now in a full-time relationship with his girlfriend Kimberly. "Doing this project when I was single was much easier because I did not feel emotionally drawn to being with Kimberly," says Luis of his relationship. "I would just be a city nomad. But having Kimberly is the best thing that has happened to me since the woman in Miami told me, "hey, I can't find the man I was with. Want to go to my hotel?"

Some days Luis spends the whole night wondering around Manhattan collecting interviews and other days he will just spend ten minutes on his way home from work. “The point is that everyday I get a different story.” Luis has no inhibitions when it comes to interviewing people regardless if his subject is in a club or standing next to a huge boyfriend. “It doesn’t matter, I’ll go after the story.” When he was in college he wrote a successful column that often included stories about dating and sexuality. He chose not to give me the name of the college he attended because he does not want to give them credit.

Luis does not believe in destiny or soul mates. "Different people serve a different purpose in peoples lives at certain times." He says that essentially his project is among other things about being able to let go, one page at a time.

To learn more about Luis's project visit his blog at
<Naked In Manhattan

Outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met)
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View from the top of the Met
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Aileen and I at the Met
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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Meet Andy George, Window Washer

This is Andy George and his official job title is window washer. Andy has been washing high-rise building windows for over twenty years. He says it takes a lot out of you to wash each window carefully with a squeegee while rappelling in mid-air. Andy learned how to rappel when he decided to become a window washer in Indianapolis. Although never afraid of heights, he admits that it was both scary and exhilarating in the beginning but now it's just become a job. 

Andy receives a lot of stares and has seen some bizarre things while washing windows. Sometimes he ends up scaring the people who are inside the building because he does not have to knock or tell them he is coming. It is up to the building management to let people know when he will be there to clean. Once Andy was cleaning the windows at a hospital when he witnessed a woman having a baby, "she was spread out and it was kind of strange".  He has also come across many weird scenes including naked people while cleaning apartment buildings and hotels. 

Today Andy was cleaning the north side of the fifteen story Starks Building in downtown Louisville. He and his partner have been working on the building for three days. Andy works year-round and says it gets pretty cold in the winter. Although most would consider his job an extreme profession after twenty years Andy finds it pretty simple. "It can be pretty relaxing on a nice day but it gets a little scary when its windy". Yesterday he had to use a suction cup to stay on the window. The wind can blow him fifteen to twenty feet and that freaks him out when it happens. The rappel rope also becomes very heavy as he gets higher and can weigh up to 100 pounds.  

Andy has had a couple of close calls while working. Back in 1997, on Carburetion Day (Indy 500), Andy and his partner got stuck on the thirty-fourth floor of the Bank One building in Indianapolis. The construction stage they where on broke and there was no way down. It took twelve members of the Indianapolis Fire Department Rescue Team to save them and they were all over the news. "I couldn’t believe how they did it because they lowered twelve fireman down from the top to get me and my partner in a harness. First they lowered me down from the building and then my partner. Afterwards I went and thanked each one of them." 

Andy is a full-time window washer and does not like to do much outside of work but spend  time with his daughter. 


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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meet "Cuzin" Ray and "Butter Bean" Gene

"Cuzin" Ray E. Rutherford and Gene “Butter Bean” Brewer, local musicians and entertainers at The Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee, spend their time on a porch playing music, sharing stories and cracking constant jokes. “I play somethin' between country and rap and call it crap,” laughs Ray. Gene and Ray are part of the museum's band of nine members that play for tour groups, company events, weddings, dogfights, and anything else that comes up. Ray says out on the porch you have to have a hillbilly nickname, hence the names “Cuzin” and “Butter Bean.” Every Saturday Ray also goes by “Rawhide Ray” on the western television show 'Riders of the Silver Screen.' “Ray, if you put a saddle on that horse you wouldn’t be so raw!” Gene advises. Gene and Ray are from opposite sides of the bridge in Norris and have been playing music since they were kids. Both retired, they play in the Appalachia Band part-time and on the weekends work at local beer joints. Ray's wife works in the museum gift shop.

Ray and Gene have held too many jobs over the years to count. Gene was a race-car driver and mechanic in California for several years. He came back to Tennessee to run a liquor store, worked at a Chevrolet garage and then for the last ten years of his life went back to “his roots” working on heavy equipment, specifically Caterpillars. Gene has been in a few movies, “I was a preacher in one of Barbara Mandrells’ movie. She only made one movie where she was the star in it and I was in that movie. It’s about a guy coming home from the war and finding another pig roosting in his pin. It's called Johnny Bull.” Gene was recently in a made-for-TV movie produced by Mormons.

Ray moved to Cleveland, Ohio in the 1950's to work at a foundry with some friends and would come out of there looking like a coal miner. It wasn't for him. Soon after he attended broadcasting school in Nashville. Once he graduated he became the voice of WGSV, an AM radio station in Gunnersville, Alabama. Ray worked at WGSV for nine months until the draft called him and he enlisted in the army. He never did go back Alabama. He did keep playing music, however, and while stationed in the army formed a little band who performed at a bar called Cactus in Carrizozo, New Mexico on Saturday nights. Released from the army, Ray moved to California briefly and worked at a plant were they made airplane parts, then moved back to Norris where he has lived for the past seventeen years.

Ray and Gene have known each other ever since Gene left California and came back to his Tennessee. They are often featured together on the "Heartland Series" television show in Knoxville, TN.

A quote from Ray, talking about his mother-in-law:

"I wanted to put my mother-in-law in that frame, but I couldn't find a good picture," pointing at a picture frame made from an old toilet seat. "While on her death bed she looked up at me and said, 'When I die and you bury me, I'm a gonna dig out of my grave and come back and haunt yew,' I told her I'd a bury her face down and let her dig. She's about almost to China by now."

Ray's Business Card
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Ray's Ex
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Ray's Pride and Joy
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Promotional Material
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Gene's Tape
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Click below to listen to Ray, Gene and Judy play music on the porch:

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    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Newspaper Article From Saluda, South Carolina

    The following two articles appeared in the Saluda Sentinel. They were written by Ralph Shealy who performs in the talent show video.

    APRIL 27, 2006

    Remember the movies from the 40's when Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland put on a variety show in a barn, and a big producer just happened to drop by, and he's so impressed, he put the kids on Broadway and they became stars?

    Well, that didn't happen at the Emory Variety Show Saturday night at the Shrine Club, but we did have a young lady "drop by." She was driving down Hwy. 121 and saw the sign in front of the Shrine Club advertising the variety show, and decided to attend. The young lady was from Louisville, Ky., and was on her way home. "You've got the Kentucky Derby coming in a couple of weeks, and you stop by the Saluda Shrine Club to see a church variety show?," I asked her. She said she enjoyed things like this. Of course, she said that before we started.

    Actually, we did pretty well, I thought.

    I couldn't figure out, however, why the visitor from Louisville took pictures throughout the show. I hope we are not going to end up on some "Churches Gone Wild" website. I've known about this variety show for a couple of months, so I decided what I was going to sing Saturday afternoon at about 3 p.m. I don't know if the cruise-in was held Saturday. It was raining early in the morning, and none of my old cars handle moisture. I couldn't go anyway, because I was on a mission to find some tapes.

    I had not planned on singing "church music." Instead I wanted to sing a song from the 40's a la Mickey and Judy, like "I'll Be Seeing You," or "You'll Never Know." I have accompaniment tapes for these and knew exactly where they were. They weren't. I tore my bedroom up looking for those tapes. I still haven't found them. So, I sang a "church song."

    We had a good time at the show. There was a lot going on around our little burg Saturday night. "Elvis" was at Saluda Presbyterian, "Peter Pan" was at the Saluda Theater, and Saluda High had its prom.

    Who says there is nothing to do here?

    MAY 11, 2006

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the young lady from Louisville, Ky., who saw the sign at the Saluda Shrine Club for our Emory Talent Show and stopped in to take in the event.

    I said she took pictures through the show and I hoped we weren't going to be included on some "Church's Gone Wild" video.

    Well, we're not on that type of video, but we are on the internet!

    Laura Parker has an internet site,, and has included commentary, photos, and, yes, a video of the Emory Talent Show. She even has a clip of me singing on the video. I may be discovered yet - "American Older Than An Egyptian Idol."

    She also has a photo of herself sporting the Bush-n-a-Bag "purse" Wayne Fulmer gave her.

    This is a great internet site. Not many people want to "meet a stranger," but Laura meets them and writes good things about them.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Meet Kim and Emory United Methodist Church

    This is Kim Porter and she is a loving wife, proud mother of two and active member of Emory United Methodist - a small one hundred-member church located in rural Saluda, South Carolina. I met Kim while driving around the quiet back roads of Georgia and South Carolina one Saturday evening. It was around five thirty when I noticed a sign in front of a Hejaz Shrine Club that read,  "Emory Talent Show Tonight at 6pm, $3.00 Admission". The timing was perfect so I went. Kim was in charge of greeting people that evening. She explained that members of Emory United Methodist were putting on a talent show in order to raise money for new church renovations. Hotdogs, chips, cookies, drinks and raffle tickets were for sale. Several members of the church showcased their talent singing gospel and patriotic tunes. Joining in the celebration and songs was Reverend Joyce Murphy, Emory's first female preacher, who has led the church for the past two years. Kim says that Rev. Murphy is awesome and that congregation just loves her and finds her fantastic.

    The congregation of Emory United Methodist is made of a wide variety of people and professions including: mechanics, school teachers, office managers, barbers and hairstylists, nurses, and plenty of retired folk who enjoy their time fishing, hunting, and staying at home relaxing. Ralph Shealy, one of the singers in the talent show, runs the local newspaper The Saluda Standard Sentential. Kim says they also have one member, Ricky McCary, who is serving in Iraq with the 122nd Engineering Department. "Ricky McCary has a lovely wife named Stephanie and two cute little boys Jacob and Jonah. They were recently really sick and had to go to the hospital for a couple of days. They are waiting for their daddy to come home in May for a two-week visit," says Kim. "There are 122 men and women over in Iraq from our town right now fighting for our freedom. "

    Saluda is a small country town with only five traffic lights, acres of farmland, pine trees and many logging businesses. Kim says there used to be many dairy farms but today only two or three still exist. She also says that they have to drive at least 25 miles to reach the nearest Wal-Mart. Many residents have gardens and grow their own vegetables for food. Kim's husband Randall, a diesel mechanic, says today it's less and less common for people in town to know each other. Many people are migrating to Saluda, especially to the area near Lake Murray. They often come from and commute to the larger city of Columbia, South Carolina. Randall says however that almost everyone at Emory United Methodist knows each other.

    Emory's church dates back to 1882 and has seen many changes throughout the years. In 1966 a social hall was added and two years ago they extended the back of the church, adding a large kitchen and area for Sunday school. As Mr. Frontis Hawkins, the oldest member of the church, said, "After that addition it looked so good that it made the sanctuary look rather tacky." Elaborating he said, "One cold day in January a few years ago during a funeral six rather hefty pallbearers sat down on a pew and the center support split causing a noise to bellow throughout the building. Luckily those men didn't fall in the floor, but that caused us to start looking around and we saw that many of the pews were in bad condition. So about a year ago we decided that we would start working with the sanctuary."

    Emory hired Church Interiors, a company that specializes in church renovations, to do all their work. All of the pews were sent off to be stripped and re-stained, new chandeliers and carpet were put in and the whole place was painted. Emory's was the quickest renovation that Church Interiors has ever completed. Oftentimes they encounter problems with members conflicting ideas, but Emory was completely united and agreed on nearly everything. One thing Emory is especially proud of is a glass rendition of the Lord's Supper, which sits behind the pulpit. During Sunday morning mass as the sun rises and reflects off the glass, light shifts and colors move throughout the church as the service progresses. Emory invites everyone to come by and check out their beautiful new facilities.

    If you would like to donate to the renovation of Emory United Methodist please contact Rev. Joyce Murphy at 3139 Spann Rd. Leesville, SC 29090

    Happy Birthday to Kim's little boy, Will, who recently celebrated his eight birthday with a baseball-theme party.

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    Randall, Kim's Husband
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    Ralph Shealy
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    Emory Choir singing Amazing Grace
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    Reverend Murphy and the Miller Brothers
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    Short Video from Talent Show

    Check out the Bush-N-a-bag. One of Emory's members, Wayne Fulmer, gave me this bag at the talent show. At first I thought it was a purse, and said suprisingly, "Wow Wayne, you make purses?". But it's actually a device used for hunting. I recommend, even if you are not a hunter like myself, to check out his site at

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