Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Zippy Code: 20705
Beltsville, Maryland

Last Thursday I was reading the Washington Post, and I glanced at the cartoon "Zippy the Pinhead" and did a double take. For those who aren't familiar with Zippy, he is a coneheaded clown given to wandering around the U.S., pontificating nonsensical word play which offsets a satirical view on current culture. The readers of Zippy send the artist photographs of weird landmarks around the country, and he incorporates them into the cartoon. This particular strip caught my eye because I recognized the landmark: Vet's Liquor's in Beltsville, Maryland.

Last night, with nothing better to do (sarcasm), I drove through rush hour traffic to visit Vet's Liquors and take a photograph of the original sign. Vet's has been a landmark in the Washington area since the 1940's, and the sign is much admired for it's strangeness and longevity. The s
ign is colored in faded red, white and blue chipping paint, and it portrays a soldier with light bulb eyes: one green and one red. Stop and buy our booze, then go.


While I was in the parking lot taking pictures, a rust
ed out car honked at me to move, then whipped around and backed into a spot, like he had been parking there with some regularity. The man driving waved at me to come over and speak with him. His face was weathered with wrinkles beyond his years, and he was wearing rainbow eyeglass frames: multi-colored pink, blue, yellow and green. He introduced himself as "Gene," and he said, "I don't wish to appear rude, but may I ask why you are photographing that sign...and do you know how old that sign is?" I told Gene about the cartoon strip, which interested him, and we discussed the history of the place.

At this same moment, the Korean owner of the shop came running out of the store into the parking lot and said, "You take picture of sign because of cartoon?" I told her "yes" that was exactly why I was there, and she told me that the cartoon had increased their business over the weekend. People were coming in just after reading Zippy to talk about it. She told Gene she could show him the cartoon, so off he went, but not before shaking my hand and telling me how nice it was to meet me. You meet the politest drunks at Vet's.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of cocktail does this spendidly eccentric sign bring to mind? Isn't "O" the next cocktail, Cube?

Perhaps an Old Fashioned with a crayfish garnish?


12:20 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

"O" cocktails are coming up, and I need to do my homework on that one, K. They used to make the best Old Fashioned's at Polly's on U Street.

12:25 PM  
Blogger A Unique Alias said...

Badass! :-)

12:40 PM  
Blogger KOB said...

Excellent work, Cube. Very impressive that you took the time out there to do this.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:23 PM  

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