Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dick Balch Quit Smashing Cars Decades Ago But People Still Remember Him

You're looking at the late 60s, early 70s version of Dick Balch, he of car dealer/ car smashing/ in car ads fame.

Dick Balch's sledgehammer antics made him quite famous in the Pacific Northwest, pretty much a Northwest icon, like J.P. Patches and Captain Puget and Ivar Haglund.

Dick Balch came back fresh to my memory this morning when I saw that someone had linked to a blogging I wrote awhile back about Dick Balch.

I met Dick Balch and his amusing wife, Melissa, in 2005, in Tacoma, where they now live in a cool house that belongs, style-wise, more in Taos, than Tacoma.

On the visit to Washington and Tacoma in 2005 I went out for dinner at an Indian place in Tacoma with Dick and Melissa. Dick is now, maybe, in his 70s, but he's like me, he acts like a teenager. I'd never enjoyed someone wreaking havoc in a restaurant as much as what I watched Dick Balch do. He had multiple waiters flustered, the manager flustered, me laughing. Hard. And then when it was all over Dick left a humongous tip that I think cost more than the dinner.

I recollect being at the Tacoma Dome, with Melissa, spent 2 days in her booth at some sort of collectibles deal. At the end of that event when it was time to pack stuff up, Dick showed up to help. I think that was the last time I saw him.

When I was in Tacoma in April of 2006, Melissa showed up where I was housesitting, asking if I wanted to go out to lunch. I declined because I'd been attacked, savagely, by one of the cats I was housesitting, due to the cat being startled by my sister's wicked poodles. The cat attack left me with a big gash on my upper lip, that had me not in going out to lunch mode.

Now that you are making me think about it, that was not the last time I saw Melissa Balch. She came over later that week when a friend from further north, in the Skagit Valley, came to Tacoma, via bus, to spend the day, then missed her bus home, which had her staying til midnight, with Melissa showing up at some point in time. I think that was the last I've seen Melissa.

Anyway, below is what Time Magazine had to say about Dick Balch, July 31, 1972...

In the painful recession that has gripped the Seattle area's aerospace-sensitive economy since 1969, many merchants have managed to survive only by using a hard-sell technique. The hardest of all belongs to a luxuriantly mustachioed suburban dealer of Chevrolets and Fiats named Dick Balch. He moves his wares with the help of a 12-lb. sledgehammer.

In ten-second TV spots, Balch has used the hammer to bash in the windshields, headlights and fenders of some 200 of his shiny new cars. His cockeyed routine often includes a devil's costume, a maniacal post-impact laugh and the question, "If you can't trust your car dealer, who can you trust?" This bang-up if nonsensical commercial has drawn attention as well as plenty of customers and has made Balch a local celebrity.

Psychologists may ponder the reason: perhaps people admire his gall, or perhaps they harbor fantasies themselves of working off frustrations by bashing in a car. Balch's agency was riding in the red before the commercials started two years ago; it showed a profit of $22,000 the first month they were broadcast, and sales have been climbing steadily.

In this year's first half, Balch sold 1,596 cars, grossing $4,500,000. The victims of his on-camera carnage are fixed at local body shops. When repaired, these autos can be sold as new goods, just like new cars that have been damaged in shipment. Repairs so far have cost Balch $60,000, but in some cases he is able to get higher prices for the hammered cars. "After all, you've got to pay more for a car that has been in show biz," says Balch with a devilish wink. He claims that many customers ask specifically for the repaired cars, and a few have even insisted on buying his props, dents and all.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The New 520 Floating Bridge Across Lake Washington

Almost $5 billion to replace the 520 Floating Bridge. Is it still called the Albert D. Rosellini Bridge. I remember when it opened. I must be old. Rosellini was governor, the first governor of the State of Washington that I can remember.

I remember it being odd to no longer hear "Governor Rosellini." Was he replaced by Governor Dan Evans? I don't remember.

I was surprised recently to learn that Albert D. Rosellini is still among the living.

So, Monday the State Senate approved changes made to SB 6292 in the House. The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Gregoire.

Didn't she just recently sign a bill to build a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct for about $4 billion? Where is Washington get all this money for these big projects?

I've not read when the new bridge is expected to be open. I have read there are a lot of groups fighting for their concerns to be incorporated into the final design.

I watched a fairly lame video, this morning, of what might happen if the decrepit, current 520 Floating Bridge is not replaced. As in, it might sink in a storm. This would not be the first, or even the second, Washington Floating Bridge to sink in a storm.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tootsie Gets Raided by the Tonasket Gestapo Stormtroopers Again

A few days ago I blogged about a bizarre Gestapo Stormtrooper raid on Tootsie Tonasket's home.

The reason for the raid was someone had reported that a deer had been shot in his backyard. And pointed the Game Warden/Okanogan Sheriff & Tonasket Police towards Tootsie Tonasket's alleged gang of Deer Killers.

Well, at the first raid, after being handcuffed and interrogated, Nosh confessed to killing the deer. But, for some reason Nosh was not charged, a lawyer called and told the police to either charge Nosh or let him go. They let him go.

This morning I talked to Tootsie Tonasket and learned that the Tonasket Gestapo Stormtroopers invaded her home again. Searching for more evidence regarding the Deer Killing to which Nosh had already confessed.

Now, here is where this story gets really stupid and unsettling. The Tonasket Gestapo had a fresh search warrant. Among the many items being searched for was the computer that Nosh, Tootsie's son, Blade and Tootsie's ex-husband, Delbert, used.

The Gestapo located the computer and, after, I suppose, making sure it was not a bomb, proceeded to open it up and remove the hard drive! Putting the hard drive in an evidence bag.

And then, after having gutted the innocent computer, the tower which housed the hard drive was also taken.

Can we all say Pure Idiocy together?

When I blogged about this outrageously, out of proportion to the alleged crime, bad police behavior, the first time, I heard from someone named Randall Newton, whom I later learned is a not too well regarded Tonasket teacher, who is known by many Fig Newton based derivations of his name.

Mr. Newton informed us that one of his close relatives is in local law abuse, I mean, enforcement.

Did Mr. Newton inform his relative that their Gestapo Stormtrooper violations of rights behaviors were being publicized nationally? If Mr. Newton did not do so, I really think he should.

Meanwhile, Tootsie and her gang of wanton criminals are heading to where their stolen property was taken, to assert a claim on it. Tootsie's ex went to a doctor after he was injured and jailed in the first raid, and has talked to a lawyer and is in contact with officials in Olympia.

Through all this pain and suffering, Tootsie endures. But she is not sleeping too well.

Any lawyer out there willing to help Tootsie? I'm thinking Tootsie's local Gestapo needs to be on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saturday's Seattle Choo-Choo Train

Apparently in downtown Seattle, this past Saturday, the Emerald City Improv initiated a new Seattle Outdoor Activity.

A lot of people grabbed the back of the person in front of them and then proceeded to move the conga line-like Seattle Choo-Choo Train around town.

Onlookers were amused. Some joined in.

Seattle is one of those places that has been known to spark fads. I don't know if I see this one spreading like the human wave in football stadiums fad that started way back in the late 60s or early 70s in Husky Stadium.

Or over consumption of over priced coffee concoctions, another Seattle fad that turned into a virus.

Was that Seattle Grunge music thing a fad? Or just a musical trend phase that faded?

I am due to be at a downtown Fort Worth, Texas group event tomorrow morning. I wonder how much effort it would take to turn it into Fort Worth's first Choo-Choo line?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Are the Olympics Coming to Seattle Any Year Soon?

This morning I read someone speculating as to why Seattle may or might not ever stage an Olympics, either Winter or Summer.

What seemed to me to be the best reason why Seattle might never stage such a thing is due to the way doing something in Seattle comes about, with an awful lot of citizen input and voting.

It'd be really easy for a group of Olympics Objectors to block such a project in Seattle.

But. Seattle did somehow manage one of the most successful world events in history, that being the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. I believe this was one of the, if not the only, World's Fair to make a profit.

The Seattle World's Fair was so successful that 12 years later Spokane staged a World's Fair. I did not enjoy the Spokane World's Fair all that much. I do remember the USSR and Iranian Pavilions to be interesting.

And then in 1986 Vancouver had a World's Fair called Expo. I went twice. I was embarrassed by how bad the American Pavilion was. The Washington State one was not as embarrassing. Overall I did not enjoy Expo 86. It gave me two of my all-time worst headaches.

Seattle staged a sort of Olympics called the Goodwill Games, fostered by Ted Turner back in the Cold Wars days, to foster, or try to, goodwill between the USSR and the USA. I don't remember much about the Goodwill Games. I attended none of it.

I'm thinking it highly unlikely Seattle could ever stage a Winter Olympics, what with Vancouver barely managing, snow-wise. Seattle's ski areas are way less reliable than Vancouver's. Maybe Seattle could invent a new way to make artificial snow to guarantee the Snoqualmie slopes are white.

If you could get the people on board, I would think Seattle could pull off a Summer Olympics. Why the town would want to though, I don't know. There are already way too many tourists flooding that town. Seattle already has a lot of the facilities covered. They could put on a bargain type Olympics due to feeling no need to put on an over the top display of new buildings, like Beijing did.

Okay, that is enough about the Olympics for another 2 years.