Ted Forth Drives Aimlessly Around Long Island (and Apparently Attended My High School)
Some readers may look at today’s Sally Forth strip and wonder if they’re visiting family on Long Island then why didn’t Ted’s parents simply pick them up at the airport? (For those who wonder which airport, MacArthur Airport in Islip). Well, that’s because the Forths caught a very early morning flight. So then why did the Forths fly out at such an unusual hour? Because I wanted them to be stuck in a hopelessly lost cab so Ted could have an excuse to point out countless childhood landmarks that otherwise would never be on the same path.
Now, I’m sure like me you get a certain sense of joy when you see or hear a mention of your hometown in a book, TV show, or movie. Alas, I grew up in Dix Hills, Long Island, a town only really notable for scoring an out-of-the-blue namecheck in Bonfire of the Vanities and sounding just PG-13 enough for me not to be able to mention it in a family comic strip. (It’s also the town that when I told anyone in college where I was from they would curiously respond, “Oh, I knew a guy from there. He was a real asshole.” Then I would spend the next few seconds wondering is that guy was in fact me.) So while Ted–who is me with sadly very similar wrist bone structure–is for all practical purposes from Dix Hills, I decided to play it safe and make mention of the larger Huntington Township as a whole. Huntington has scored a little more pop culture recognition by being the hometown of the Seavers in Growing Pains. It also appears in the opening credit sequence to The Daytrippers, a movie by Dix Hills-born movie director Greg Mottola, who also made Superbad and Adventureland, based on very same amusement park that Ted mentions in today’s strip and where I did indeed learn I am deathly afraid of roller coasters.
The flip-side to seeing your hometown in a movie, of course, is noting how fast and loose films plays with the geography of your city, as Sally points out in today’s strip. Being a resident of New York City, I get quite more than a few opportunities to see my address appear on the silver and small screen, often leaving me to wonder why Manhattan suddenly seems to have the mass transportation of Vancouver or the six-lane streets of Los Angeles in Seinfeld episodes. But what really stands out are such moments as when the Empire State Building appears not simply on but right smack in the middle of Fifth Avenue in Independence Day or the dissonance of seeing the Flatiron Building being called The Daily Bugle in the original Spider-Man trilogy. This in turn leads me to wonder just what the hell kind of copper is the Statue of Liberty made of that it can withstand both the colossal global cooling of The Day After Tomorrow and the massive simian revolt of The Planet of the Apes yet be so easily tossed in Superman IV: Quest for Peace (a movie for which I accidentally stumbled up the royal premiere for in London in 1987, allowing me a glimpse of Prince Charles and Princess Di).
And so the “changing topography” approach is one I use in today’s strip, allowing Ted to namecheck my childhood haunts like the Walt Whitman Mall (because we people of Huntington know how to honor our literary hometown heros), the aforementioned Adventureland amusement park, and even my high school where Ralph Macchio also attended, leaving me to wonder how the hell Ted has gone this far without making note of his link to The Karate Kid at least six times in some business PowerPoint presentation.