Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Logo Overlook™©®: Special exhibit

Where dung, dough and dreams collide.
By my wife's special request, the Logo Overlook©®™ has been cleared out to make room for these two pieces, representing the first of many times my wife and I wished to escape the rat race and take the road less traveled (and wring out whatever other overwrought metaphor is appropriate for the occasion).

This particular wish is the closest we came to embarking on a plan, and the only one that has come with its own logo.

Buffalo Bagels (funny, we hoped, with not too much barnyard scatology to render the business unappetizing and worthless) was our dream. We would take it anywhere people loved a good bagel and a memorable coffee, which we seemed to crave at the time.

We could open it in Hanford, where we lived and worked at the time, but not bloody likely; though we met many people who grew up there and wouldn't live anywhere else (touting the proximity of vacation destinations Sequoia National Park and Pismo Beach so often, I proposed as the city slogan whatever’s Latin for, “Two hours away from everywhere else you’d rather be”), we were strangers in a strange land. We would go back to our roots, to San Luis Obispo, where we went to college, or somewhere on the coast, somewhere enough regulars would support us in our dream.
We would make friends of these regulars, and become part of the weft and woof of their lives. I would use the little shop as a place to force myself to socialize with the people of Wherever We Lived (I'm an evergreen wallflower), but have a place to go in the back to cover myself in dough and coffee grounds and be by myself. Nancy would be the brains and soul of the operation, as she has proved on a daily, hourly, basis in our household for 26 years. She'd be the reason people came in, and the bagels and coffee would be something extra.

I was never crazy about how the descending letterforms
dripped into "Bagels," and time hasn't improved my view.
We dreamed of our bagel shop early into our early careers. Our jobs as newspaper reporters were not what we expected; I'm sure our disillusionments were not uncommon, though I don’t really know what we were expecting; I wanted to become a feature writer somehow, some way, and got distracted by new ideas of becoming an editorial cartoonist.

Plus, it was tough being husband and wife and co-workers. Most of us young reporters and editors at The Hanford Sentinel would get on each other's nerves on a regular basis, either for what we did or did not do for each other. Bosses would bug us for what we perceived them doing to us. It was difficult to have lunch and dinner and weekend conversations, because we lived each other’s lives in the office and had nothing new to tell, good or bad, because we already knew it.

Our vacations, always camping somewhere as far away from Hanford as we could afford, invariably fueled our dreams for doing Something Else, and Buffalo Bagels grew out of those vacations.

We were serious enough, at least, to design the signage. I talked the chief photographer into showing me the machinations of the image reproduction equipment, and wandered into the photo shop after hours.

This was all cut-and-paste. I copied the Frankfurter typeface out of a type book for its bagel-y chewiness, enlarged the letterforms, pasted them together and inked out the seams with a black marker. I drew “Buffalo,” “Ltd.” and “The Gathering Place” were drawn with a brush on woody paper towels, no doubt from the break room at The Sentinel, to let it bleed. I'm fairly sure I drew “Buffalo” in one shot, but the others might have been pasted and tweaked with a marker and a razor blade.

They were drawn to match the image, an homage to the animals rendered millennia ago in the caves at Lascaux, both to say “We ‘Buffalo Bagels’ as a joke,” and “We’ve got a few cultured brain cells floating around in our heads.”

We envisioned the little shop as a showcase of art and maybe a place for folk groups to play weekends.

That’s as far as we ever went with our pipe dream. It's possible that we looked into the reality of opening Buffalo Bagels, and blanched at the infusion of cash we would need, and the regulatory quagmire, and the taxes and licenses and skill in basic math we needed but lacked, and decided we would take the course that life seemed to be leading us instead, wherever that may still be.

But we dream our pipe dreams still, usually involving living somewhere else. Not long ago we found ourselves in Port Townsend, Wash., a town on the Olympic Peninsula, just off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a town served by the Washington State Ferry system. We were waiting for one of the ferries, which I find endlessly fascinating. The odd town sat high on a bluff over a cove, and the calm cove looked like a great place for a daily swim.

“Why don't we live here?” I asked aloud. “Why don't we just move right here.”

“The woman at the ferry terminal says it rains a lot,” my wife answered.

Rain doesn't bother me, especially in a place that is built for rain. I wonder if the townsfolk desire bagels and good coffee in a friendly shop …

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