"James Dean Died Here: The Locations of America's Pop Culture Landmarks"
(Santa Monica Press; $16.95)
Road trips are meant to be fun. Author Chris Epting seems to know that better
than anybody for he has gathered historical information on more than 600
pop-culture landmarks across the country. Some of the locations are, to say the
least, morbid (the Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas), some trashy (the
Washington, D.C., townhouse where the tryst between Gary Hart and Donna Rice
reportedly took place) and some poignant (the Baptist church in Georgia where
JFK Jr. got married). Along the way, Epting showcases many murder sites, from
the exact spot in Gibsland, La., where Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed by police,
to the house in Beverly Hills where the Menendez brothers shot their parents
to death. Epting also covers celebrity death spots (including those of John
Belushi, Kurt Cobain, James Dean, Marvin Gaye and Tupak Shakur) and, on a
lighter note, locales for movies, television and sports. "James Dean Died Here" is
an addictively irresistible tour through pop culture past and present. (ISBN
"Roadside Baseball: Uncovering Hidden Treasures From Our National Pastime"
(Sporting News Books; $16.95)
Chris Epting (see above) is one busy fellow. He is also the author of this
wonderful guide to baseball's most sacred and not-so-sacred spots. It includes
historic plaques, gravesites of famous ballplayers, birthplaces, monuments,
memorials, parks, statues, museums, notable stadiums (Oriole Park at Camden
Yards, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field) and miscellaneous inclusions, such as the
Manhattan hospital where Babe Ruth died. It's a perfect gift for anyone who loves
baseball and travel. One complaint though: No index. (ISBN 0-89204-714-3)
Here's an interesting reference to take along when hitting the road this
summer. A California writer, Chris Epting, has compiled a book called "James Dean
Died Here: The Location of American's Pop Culture Landmarks." He describes
more than 600 sites where pop culture history was made. We're talking Americana,
movies, music, tragedy, crime, television and sports. Complete with hundreds
of photos, the book will show you where the "Planet of the Apes" finale was
shot, where George Washington crossed the Delaware, the California bank robbed by
Patty Hearst and her kidnappers, Seinfeld's Manhattan diner, the Hindenburg
crash site and the Brady Bunch house. Sites also include the location of the
1980 American Olympic hockey team "Miracle on Ice" victory; the diner from the
movie "Diner"; the subway grating where Marilyn Monroe's skirt was blown
upwards in "The Seven Year Itch;" the gym from the movie "Carrie" and yes, the
intersection where James Dean crashed his Porsche Spyder.
Among local sites are the Bloomfield restaurant where Jimmy Hoffa was last
seen publicly and the Holiday Inn in Flint where Keith Moon, the late drummer of
The Who, caused $40,000 in damage while celebrating his 20th birthday.
"James Dean Died Here," a 312-page paperback, costs $16.95 and can be ordered
Commuting columnist Tom Greenwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at
(313) 222-2023 or by writing to The Detroit News, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit,
Chicago Sun Times
1 June 2003
I have high standards when it comes to road baseball books. After all, I
spend about three-quarters of my life on the road and in baseball stadiums.
Los Angeles-based writer Chris Epting has delivered a stand-up triple
(baseball's most exciting play) in Roadside Baseball: Uncovering Hidden
Treasures From Our National Pastime (Sporting News Books, $16.95).
Epting doesn't miss a beat in the 288-page atlas, loaded with pictures but
short on maps.
Roadside Baseball is divided into regions with each section including a
list of Hall of Famers buried in that area. (If you're heading to
Cincinnati, go see Waite Hoyt and Miller Huggins at the Spring Grove
Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave.)
Roadside Baseball includes the Maryland church where Babe Ruth got
married; the Starkville, Miss., birthplace of Negro League legend James
"Cool Papa" Bell, and really out-of-the-way places like former Yankee
pitcher Bill "Goober" Zuber's Dugout Restaurant in the Amana Colonies
section of Iowa. I've been there. Good call.
There's a passion in Epting's approach that goes beyond some guy sitting
at a computer and gathering information off the Internet. Epting does,
however, lose points for his Wrigley Field section, citing the upscale and
terminally crowded Murphy's Bleachers as the area's most notable watering
hole. An umpire could even find that place.
I also wish Epting had gone more in depth on some of his subjects, but
that would have detracted from the glorious breadth of Roadside Baseball.
And don't bypass broadcaster Joe Buck's foreword, which is written
straight from the heart.