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brake bob silly

Part of the pan*o*rama of silly signage on our roadsides. Photos by Bob Smith.


Why do people think it’s useful to name their businesses using puns and wordplay? It doesn’t make them memorable; it makes them silly. And I happen upon them so often. Last Sunday, as I drove through a semi-rural area of Passaic County, New Jersey, I came across a spate of silly-named businesses. First there was BRAKE*O*RAMA. As we all know from reading Wikipedia, “Rama,” is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu in Hinduism, considered by some to be the supreme being. So it makes perfect sense to have a car repair shop named after him.

That same god has also inspired a floor covering store in Neptune, New Jersey called RUGARAMA, and a chain of door and window stores called WINDOWRAMA. Years ago there was even a beauty shop in Asbury Park named OH!HARRIET’S GLAMOUR-RAMA. I think Rama as a business-naming convention is on the wane, having been supplanted in recent years by the ubiquitous DEPOT.

But it survives in Haskell, New Jersey (named after the first avatar of teenage wiseguys from the ’60s – Eddie Haskell). Then there was FABRICADABRA, an apparently magical fabric and interior decorating store. fabric bob silly

It had an ugly, bulbous, green awning, and didn’t look magical at all. A block away from that was THE MEATING PLACE, a butcher shop that I suppose might also be the local pickup bar. I was late for a meating (I was en route to a barbeque, after all), so I couldn’t stop to get a photo of that.

Finally there was PASTABILITYS, featuring a concrete bunker facade, and the chance for al-fresco dining on plastic seats in the parking lot. The possibilities seemed – well, frankly, limited. But the name? Totally unique. And silly.bob pasta silly