Saturday, August 1, 2009

Top 10 Roadside Rhymes: Number 4

4. Frankie Doodle's Restaurant (Spokane, Washington)

So, in the world of roadside rhyming, it's no surprise to find rhyming phrases such as "Shield your Field," "Gentle Dental," "Ditch Witch," "Camp with Pride Nationwide," or "Click It or Ticket"—all of which caught Poetry & Popular Culture's attention and which comprise the first part of this Top 10 list. The poetics of the American pavement is most often realized in phrases like these that one might say rhyme internally with themselves—signs that offer, within the text presented, all the necessary words for catchy end rhymes and even front rhymes (such as "Best Western").

Less common, however, is the phrase or sign that has an exterior rhyme—a slogan that rhymes with language outside of its immediately posted context. Take, for example, the slogan of Oregon's sexy Naked Winery & Orgasmic Wine Company (pictured above), which is "We aim to Tease." Here, in order to work, Naked Winery embarks on, um, some risky textual behavior because it relies on the consumer to supply the missing rhyme. If that consumer doesn't recognize that "We aim to Tease" is a rhyming pun on the reg'lar commercial promise "We aim to Please," then the ad is a bust and no one goes home happy. Before you underestimate the sophistication of the language work required to make "We aim to Tease" function completely, consider for a moment, dear driver, how easily or not easily a non-native English speaker would complete the chain of associations leading to this rhyme in the second or two available while cruising on by at 75 mph.

Other companies put their rhyming fates in the hands— ears, rather—of the consumer. Such is the case (to a somewhat lesser extent than the Naked Winery, we think) with the Java Jive-Thru Espresso of Salem, Oregon, which relies on the commuting, caffeine-deprived customer to supply the phrase "Drive-Thru" in order to complete the rhyme. In compiling this Top 10 list, Poetry & Popular Culture could have gone with "We Aim to Tease" or "Java Jive-Thru," but we've opted for the Spokane, Washington, restaurant "Frankie Doodle's" instead (see picture in previous paragraph). Not only does Frankie Doodle's make a rare if not stunning double (some might say quadruple) external rhyme with "Yankee Doodle," but in punning on a well-known song tune and character type, it evokes a fairly specific soundtrack and generic national image only to immediately contradict that image and tune by raising a set of unexpected questions about "Yankee's" improbable and unimagined backstory. Could there have actually been a Doodle family? Could Yankee have had a brother—and why haven't we heard of him until now? What was the fairy-tale relationship between Yankee, the national East-Coast figure, and Frankie, the uncelebrated restauranter who struck out West? It's the untold Doodle history that this Spokane restaurant conjurs up—in a name that asks us more generally to re-examine the potentially untold histories behind national characters—in combination with the double external rhyme that lands "Frankie Doodle's" at the number 4 spot on our list.

1 comment:

Heather said...

That was pretty clever. You've inspired me. I will keep my eyes open.