They should really make a national landmark out of this place. The venerable Five-Points Highway Diner has seen its fair share of drama. It was one summer day in the shadows of the veranda that Vick Banzler pointed to the fulminating sky with the head of a venomous snake and proclaimed that the next installment of the Great Sunspot Dilemma was hurtling toward Earth. These days, the local hangout is home for Morris’ legendary preproduction meetings in advance of the launch of his hour-long national TV talk show Anthracite Tonite. This evening’s discussion veers off-topic to Las Vegas, and Morris hopes his father doesn’t catch wind. The estimable Morris Crimpanfortis IV makes no bones about his disdain for all things Vegas, which is fine – that’s his prerogative. But the rest of the production crew can’t ignore the importance of the market. Morris grows antsy as he contemplates how anyone could question Daddy’s disdain for anything . . .

The Five-Points Highway Diner

You Can’t Miss It – Trust Us

Up ahead, the Five-Points Highway Diner is bathed in light.

The restaurant sits inside a massive traffic circle at the confluence of State Routes 510, 628, 415, 408 and 560. With eight lanes of traffic going five different directions, it’s understandable why the diner has bullet-proof glass. To make the chaotic intersection even more challenging, there are fountains and traffic islands. At various times of the year the water is dyed different colors to suit the occasion. Don’t ask me how they keep the water running in the middle of winter. I wonder why tonight’s designated water color is sea-foam green.

The spokes of the hub of the coalescing highways are brilliantly illuminated to make the diner appear a spaceship ready for takeoff.  When the wind blows from the east, incoming commuter flights, corporate jets, medevac and state police choppers use this building as a landmark on their approach to the municipal airport.

The diner is atypical in design. The stucco building encompasses the sleek deco lines not unlike those found on the abandoned skyscrapers downtown; the overall motif suggests a scaled-down version of the Pentagon. There are blinding columns of light shooting into the sky at each of the five corners of the diner. The lights are reminiscent of the iconic Sky Beam emanating from the top of the Luxor in Las Vegas.

Mindless Las Vegas Diversion

I am quite familiar with Las Vegas, having been in and out of the city on a number of occasions for the NAB and NATPE before the latter confab moved to Miami. I’ve seen the Strip over the years become an international brand. I prefer the old school Vegas when things were a lot more easy-going and friendly. The colorful fountains in front of the Five-Points Highway Diner remind me of the fountains Evel Knievel once challenged on his motorcycle in front of Caesars.

Daddy, I’m afraid, was never a big fan of the desert paradise. If there was ever a town where his sprawling billboards would be a big hit, it’s undoubtedly Vegas. And maybe that’s the real reason Daddy holds ill-will toward the region – to the extent of refusing to do business in the entire state!  He might be afraid that his displays would get lost in the shuffle, and that they’d become one more garish display on the way to perdition.

A couple things wrong with this flimsy line of reasoning: Daddy isn’t afraid of anything. He takes a backseat to no one. And his billboards do not, and let us repeat, do not lead to perdition. They are fresh and genuine in their wholesomeness as the day is long. Is it too much of a stretch to realize he just doesn’t find the atmosphere agreeable to the furtherance of his values?

Making the Most of Your Merge

I look in all directions before entering the circle. Thankfully, traffic is fairly light. You have to get over however many lanes in order to reach the entrance to the parking lot. Sometimes you have to circle the drain a number of times, merging one lane at a time. There was no such need tonight; I made it after only two times around. I park in back where the rest of the employees are parked. I consider myself an employee of sorts. I have a trade deal with the diner in the Silt Ridge Valley Midnight News. I also will provide free airtime locally in the Anthracite Tonite telecasts, whenever the show gets off the ground.

The snow keeps falling. I exit the car, remembering to lock the doors. I debate putting the top up. No, I’ll just keep it down. Besides, the snow blends in with the white bucket seats.