Sitting in a saloon in Tallinn, Estonia, some years ago, it struck me: why would an Estonian entrepreneur (Finn actually as it turned out to be) put his hard-earned money into an eating and drinking establishment, dressing it up like a saloon of the American Old West, circa about 1880, and calling it the Arizona Saloon? What was his attraction to the American West? Why the fascination?
It turns out that Petri Huovinen – that’s the general manager of the Arizona Saloon – has been to Arizona and has also traveled to 39 of the 50 states. He lived in the states for about 18 months, and decided to call the place Arizona Saloon because, as he says, “I like hot Tex-Mex food.” He also volunteers that his wife is Estonian, blond and six feet tall, a “very good reason to live here!”
Over time I started discovering many more establishments with an Arizona name and theme. The obvious thing to do in this case was to write a book about it. The result is Not in Arizona: Around the World from Australia to Zimbabwe, which, if you’re paying attention, is A to Z or the two-letter US Postal code for Arizona. Kinda cool, huh?
Petri notwithstanding, I discovered, in my travels that most folks around the world know about Arizona because of Hollywood and the great American Western. And the great American Western movie, I believe, is to a large degree the result – almost – of a 30-second gunfight on a street at about 3:00 pm on October 26, 1881 in a little place called Tombstone, Arizona. Yes, the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. Even though it wasn’t at the OK Corral but actually near it and on Fremont Street though Gunfight near the OK Corral on Fremont Street just doesn’t have the right ring to it.
That fight was blown way out of proportion first by writers and then by Hollywood, the result being – as I postulate – a plethora of eating and drinking establishments around the world named the Arizona BBQ, Arizona Café, Arizona Restaurant, Arizona Espresso Company (yes, it’s true) and a host of others. No offense to you fine folk from, say, Rhode Island, but the Rhode Island Saloon or Café just doesn’t have the same clever ring to it as does the Arizona one.
So, the manuscript is finished, the website is in progress and I’m still looking for a publisher. Which is why this is a tab on my website in the first place. Once the site is up and running, I may tease you with chosen selections of the work.
Or maybe not.