Warm and windy. Warm and windy as a June afternoon in an underventilated burrito restaurant! No, that’s not right. The breeze doesn’t have the spring fragrance yet – that will come when the grass grows and the trees bud and the morning air has heft and presence. But soon. Busy day – most of Tuesday morning was spent dealing with a head full of Kapok. Didn’t sleep well. Absurd as it sounds, I got thinking about what I’d tell the Mayor if I saw him at the grocery store, and I just got irritated. I think it had to do with learning that the city spends 100K to publicize the quality of the public water supply. I could pay house taxes for ten years and never cover what they spend to tell people they might want to drink tap water.
But I got the mojo back in the afternoon, and good thing too: much to do. I’ve done it all, too: there’s a Mpls update with a fresh picture taken this afternoon, the Smartflix review (up later today, I hope), the buzz entry for Wednesday, the XM POTUS radio commentary, and now this. If I finish soon I can talk to my wife and perhaps watch some TV – I’m coming to the end of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour episodes, unfortunately. Last night the guest star was a young Bruce Dern, and surprise – he played a creepy fellow who could parrot back social conventions without inhabiting them entirely, while adding a mocking sense of sociopathic lunacy. Dude had range.
I should talk. We’re launching a video channel at the Strib, and I’ll be doing some stuff in front of the camera as well as behind it, and you’ll be able to jeer aplenty when that debuts.
The final piece of the postcard show haul results in the predictable semi-annual display of old downtowns.
First, it's Phoenix - old Phoenix. I believe that's the old Professional Building in the distance on the right. If I have my Phoenix landmarks correct, that giant mast actually sat on a buildling down the street, the Hotel Westward Ho.
What we're really interested in, of course, is the signage. Metal, glass, and neon gas:
The same corner, with a different store on the right side:
Lerner brought streamlined retail to cities across the country. And they even invented the Neutra font ahead of time too, it seems. I love the trio crossing the street, the Mom and Daughters. Who were the girls? Did they remember coming downtown with Mom. How did they all deal with the heat back then?
Another shot of downtown Phoenix:
This site, which has more info on the Fox, says the photo was taken around 1953. I'd love to have seen it in its prime, but I'm equally fond of Jones' Western Store:
Chain stores may have been hard on local downtown merchants, but at least Penney's brought a smart crisp modernism to the street.
Next stop: Butte, Montana.
Dig this: Schwartz knew how to spiff up an old storefront. Don't forget to put your money in the Hotel Clark, a mutual savings institution.
Now, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Howdy!
This postcard makes the town look like the Mystery Spot; everything is leeeaning to one side, as if the mines have collapsed the very earth itself.
Guns, loans, a cheap room, a bar: howdy!
Another view of downtown Cheyenne. Don't know why you'd send this when you could send the other. Looks much, much smaller:
You can see the influence of the shopping centers here: signs are now flush with the street. That's what makes all the other streets look so interesting and vital; the signs project from the building to catch your eye as you drive or walk. If Cheyenne and Phoenix were like many other American cities, they banned hanging signs. All it probably took was one or two signs falling down. The anchors were old, the bricks split, and down it went.
Down they all went, eventually.
New Mpls, a short one. (But a tall building.) You might also want to check out the new interface for Long Gone - finally settled on a unified style for the Mpls site overhaul, and this one does away with frames. Finally. I’ll see you at buzz.mn!
The Rifftrax project is here. Buy it! Cheap at twice the price, and if I don't screw up their sales too badly, I get to do another one. In case you don't know what it's all about, well, it's a Mystery Science Theater 3000-type snarky commentary track for Spider-Man 3. You pop the movie in your computer, start the Rifftrax audio file, and voila: MST3K-style comments on a big-budget, heavily copyrighted movie.