Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Slice of America

What's life like in a small town? Today's Iowa City Press-Citizen provides some insight. Seems that a local grease joint was pictured in The West Wing, much to the delight of regulars:

Seconds after the image of an unmistakable yellow diner sign flashed before "The West Wing" viewers nationwide, it generated a burst of applause and whoops from a crowd gathered Wednesday inside the actual Hamburg Inn No. 2 restaurant.

"It was really neat to hear them say Hamburg Inn and Coffee Bean Caucus," owner Dave Panther said.

A crowd of about 50 people gathered at the Iowa City landmark for a viewing party to see how writers for "The West Wing" would portray their beloved 1950s-style diner. Writers chose to portray the Hamburg in an episode after actor Martin Sheen, who plays fictional president Jed Bartlet, visited the restaurant during the 2004 Iowa Caucuses, Panther said before passing out red, white and blue balloons.

The episode, named "King Corn," placed the show's fictional presidential candidates in the caucuses. The camera twice panned seven glass jars filled with beans to re-create the Coffee Bean Caucus that the Hamburg held in 2004. In real life, and on the show, participants use coffee beans to cast a mock vote for their favorite candidate.

The viewing party included drawings for coffee mugs, travel mugs, gift certificates, and T-shirts signed by "West Wing" actors, Sheen and director Rob Reiner.

Each time the actors walked by a red brick building, the sounds of clattering forks and balloon bursts seemed to stop as patrons craned their necks for a clear view of the 52-inch TV. Some patrons even screamed at the TV, "Go back and eat breakfast!" During commercials, others stood to take pictures of fellow patrons with their cell phones.

Yeah, I ate there too, usually with much regret hours later. I was never a big fan of the Hamburg Inn - it's the type of place that omits the limp parsley next to your omelet and is staffed by too many unwashed people with tattoos and piercings.

No comments: