From Shorpy



Went out to dinner Tuesday night, because another restaurant popped up in the neighborhood. One is obliged. Actually, this one’s been there for a while, and since it opened another new restaurant opened up, another tiny place with exquisite decor and 40 seats and a menu that represents the culminations of someone’s hopes and dreams, so you go. One is obliged.

As opposed to the Doomed Corner, also in the neighborhood; restaurants and coffeeshops come and go in that spot at a rate of one per year, at least, and they all fail for the same reason: bad parking and Papyrus. Every one of them has used Papyrus for its signage. Now, folks ‘round these parts are savvy ‘bout things like typographical cliches, and we ain’t buyin it. Way I reckon, if you don’t have the imagination to use some other font what don’t have such reputation, I figger your food suffers from the same deficit of imagination.

The place we attended tonight was St. George and the Dragon, named for a Kandinsky painting the owner favors. It’s a little English pub with strong local beers - and I mean strong; those things were capable of standing upright without a glass - and meaty delights, plus the obligatory fish and chips. Marvelous food, great service, a grand night out.

I had to ask the owner about the lightbulbs. These. I loved them.


They’d look good at Jasperwood, in the dining room. Must buy some. They’re called “Nostalgic Edison Quad Loop-Style” bulbs. I am not nostalgic for the period they represent. No one is. You can’t be nostalgic for things you did not experience. There, I said it. You can be a student of other eras, you can feel affection for virtues and attributes they possessed, you can feel a kinship with their styles; you can decorate your house like a stage set and imagine that part of you connects with these objects in a way that people connected to them when they were modern, but it’s not nostalgia.

Related: the term “Retro” now means 70s-1999. The term “vintage” means anything from 1890 to 1969. “Nostalgia” is 1980s - 1929. So it seems. I remember, by cracky, when “retro” was 40s - mid 60s, even though you’re talking about three distinct phases of design and style. But they were bound together by a forward-looking and distinctly American ethos, I suppose. But we’ll get to that below the fold.

Dinner was good. It left me entirely full and unable to do much else, really, but call it a day. So I’m calling it a day. It’s not normal to work all night. It’s normal to plop on the sofa and watch some TV in the evening - which no one in this house does very much. My wife, on weekends, for a bit. Daughter rarely ever. Okay, I do it every night, but it’s after midnight when the work is done and I need something to shake the Etch-a-Sketch.

It’s been decades since I ever wondered “what’s on TV tonight?” Nowadays you wonder: what isn't?







A few odds and ends, because I am full of food and unlikely to come up with anything of interest to anyone.


A 1959 ad for a record player. I love this:


Portable music players, the early years. If you ever knew a device like this, you know the feel of the cover - thin fabric over something stiff but eventually pliable, if you put your mind to it. The needle was featherweight and skittered across the platter if you stomped your feet. There was a button for "Tone," which either made the music bright and clear or sound like it was played through a pillow in the next room. You'd turn it all the way down, wonder who liked it like that, then turn it all the way up and delight in the brightness; it was the audio equivalent of putting the covers over your head until you ran out of air and then throwing them back and drinking in the fresh 02.


From the same ad, a console record player:



Or, a TV that just played static. No, a record player - and a minimalist one at that. Apple design, 54 years ago.

I also saved, for some reason, pictures of clocks from the mid 50s.




The clock on the bottom could be from the 30s or 40s; the one top wouldn't be out of place in the 40s, either. So: did clock design lag? Everything else got modern, but clocks, for some reason, remained comfortingly stable.

Silent? Not completely. A faint whirrr. Beside electric clocks remind me of the farm house, for some reason.

My favorite clock in the house:


The Moonbeam. Classic 30s / 40s design, eh? No. 1952.

Then clocks got MOD as hell in the early 70s, and suffered greatly. Or they abandoned the standard clock face for the digital look - first little cards that clicked as they changed, then the start of the LED plague.

I hate LED clock faces. I’ve lived with them my entire adult life, and I don’t understand why their replacements haven’t become ubiquitous. Cost, probably. But I don’t like the way they slant. The weird insect-writing vibe you get if you look at them close-up. There are five in my kitchen alone.

Wherever practical I have an analogue clock. Digital clocks tell you the time. Analogue clocks suggest it.


Motels today instead of tomorrow, because I mistakenly told an emailer that the Key motel would be back today. That's right: someone looked up the page just as I was finishing the update, and it wasn't there. I try to keep URLS persistent for a long as possible, but you know, there are only so many things I can worry about. A couple of days ago I noticed a defect in the motel design - inconsistent font sizes, and HORROR OF HORRORS the little Google boxes were not flush left, because for some stupid reason I'd put them in the wrong space in the table. This required redoing every page. It doesn't take much time, and it's unnecessary, but these things bother me.

I hope they bother you, too. Pay for my sins! Rejoice in my redemption!

See you around the usual places. The STAR below is the Strib blog, which pops up around 12:30. Likewise the T, for TUMBLR. Bookmark 'em. Would it just kill you to bookmark them?

Kidding. Have a grand day. (And bookmark them.) (And if you want those bulbs or the clock, hit the BOOK link over there, skip the book part if you've bought it, then search for EDISON BULBS or MOONBEAM CLOCK. I'd cobble together a product box but I'm just. So. Full.












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