1 La-Z-Boy Dr. No, that’s not the address of your aunt or uncle’s favorite recliner. It’s the world headquarters of La-Z-Boy in Monroe, Michigan, a short drive south of Detroit.
That’s right, La-Z-Boy – pronounced “lazy boy” – is made in Michigan.
What, you’re surprised?
The ’90s, when commercials with talking animals were the funniest shit ever.
Thinking about some of Michigan’s major contributions to the world – like cars, the assembly line, corn flakes, Gerber baby food, $5 Hot-N-Readys, Exit 1A – yeah, sure, all that stuff is nice, but it pales in comparison to the legendary La-Z-Boy Reclina-Rocker. When the company introduced the revolutionary chair in 1961, the company’s sales rocketed from barely over a million to over $50 million by 1971.
It put La-Z-Boy on the map and finally made the nation’s man caves complete.
As you probably gathered from the Reclina-Rocker’s name, the chair not only reclined, but rocked, too. And what do Americans love and venerate more than the rocking chair and lazily reclining? It was an obvious, patriotic combination that, for some strange reason, nobody had ever thought of before.
Heck, if someone would’ve bought Archie Bunker a new Reclina-Rocker, who knows? Maybe he would’ve relaxed a little and realized racism and close-mindedness is for meatheads. The chair was the final culmination of our country’s progress up to that point, a glorious personal throne for the connoisseur of fine home entertainment. What goes better with TV and a beer than a La-Z-Boy?
Photo by Tyler Neu. I’m not 100% sure if that’s a true La-Z-Boy brand Reclina-Rocker, but it gets the general idea across.
The Reclina-Rocker was so overwhelmingly popular that La-Z-Boy pretty much stopped making it old recliners, dropping the product line that had carried the company since 1929. Jim Backus, otherwise known as the voice of Mr. Magoo and the character Thurston Howell, III on Gilligan’s Island, was on the money when he declared in a print ad (surely in his very own words) that the new chair was “certain to be the focal point in any surroundings.” You can almost picture one now, placed at an odd angle to the TV, the imprint of a flabby butt worn into the cushion so that you can always feel the faint presence of its owner.
The sound of all that metal moving when you pull the footrest lever on a La-Z-Boy is comforting, musical even. It’s an iconic part of the American living room experience, right there with the crack of a freshly opened beer can. We all stand and remove our hats for “The Star-Spangled Banner”; I do the same for the crank of that lever. My country, ’tis of thee.
But that sound may soon be ancient history. The new La-Z-Boy PowerRecline allows recumbent freedom lovin’ Americans to adjust their chairs with the mere push of a button. Because, you know, levers are exhausting. The company has even experimented with adding beer coolers to its chairs, for those moments when the kitchen feels perishingly far away.
Bing Crosby once said: “My La-Z-Boy gives me that relaxed feelin’ after a day of golf.”
I think this is for real? Jim Backus loses his cool trying to read an ad for La-Z-Boy! I’ve felt that same way while writing a few particular blog posts.
Of course, he lived in a day and age when women were duty bound fetch the beer, make sandwiches… possibly even adjust your recliner for you. Given that we exist in a more egalitarian age, perhaps it’s wrong of me to decry La-Z-Boy’s attempts to modernize its flagship chair. Their just trying finding a way for us men to stay as lazy as ever.
Thank you, La-Z-Boy. For everything.