From Shorpy


I hate to start an entry with “man, I’m done, tapped, drained, bereft of even a trace of remnant zilch” because then I know I’ll go on for 1,395 words on something of no consequence. And it’s such a boring way to begin.

But what if it’s true?

What if a combination of a podcast and a column and the annotation of some sound cues has extracted every jot of initiative I have, and I just want to sit back and watch “The Killing” second season until they solve the damned mystery? I still don’t like the show, but it’s something.

What if I didn’t supply an update at the bottom of the page? Would you forgive me? Think, “oh, he slackens off at the end of the week. Always the same. Burst of energy on Monday, posts of diminishing length, pictures substituted for content. I’ve been reading since 1999 and I can tell you it used to be much better.”

You would be wrong, you wrong person you. It was not much better. There was no golden age for this site. Some things are better and some things less so, but there’s always something, and besides I don’t believe in Golden Ages at all, anyway. Time removes the anxieties and leaves only the certainties. In an upcoming Motel Update - I write those two weeks in advance, so I always have a batch on hand - I was researching a really cool joint that had the most amazing circular lobby-restaurant-bar, and you think: man, what I wouldn’t give. Research revealed that it sunk into sin ten years after it opened, all that 60s glitz dated by the onslaught of the Age of Shite, and the hookers and the mob moved in. Before that, it was the site of a civil-rights case: the manager of the restaurant slapped the plate out of the hand of a Black man and told him he couldn’t eat here.

So even when it was cool it wasn’t. I love the old postcards and the neon and the ads and the facade of cultural confidence and shared values, but you have to remember that it was a stage set and a play program. Not entirely, no, but.


How much you focus on the BUT colors your view of everything, doesn’t it? If you concentrate on BUT then you probably regard the past - up to a few years ago - as an irredeemable prelude to the faint stirrings of enlightenment we’re still experiencing today. But you admit the BUT as an obvious precondition of studying the past, i.e., norms change, progress is made, good things are squandered - then you have a better chance of seeing it for what it was.

But. It’s obvious to anyone that there are breaks, changes, new assumptions, paradigm shifts. This, for example, is proof of an artistic discipline gone mad. I find myself so annoyed and dismayed by modern architecture it makes me wonder whether I’ve really lost the ability to appreciate it - a painful fact if true, since I’ve been a lover of architecture all my life and cheered on post-modernism and the new ideas in the 80s and 90s. But. My God, that thing is literally monstrous. And it’s in Paris. It’s like something you would see looming in a nightmare, a glass slug, the tentacles on top waving.

Anyway: context matters. That’s the thing that annoys me sometimes about the Internet: mining the past for yuks without context or useful annotation. Why, look: someone on Buzzfeed discovered a tumblr that put up some Interior Desecrations-style pictures because Mad Men OMG. As it turns out, some of the pictures might well be from my site, or book; some are from another tumblr. The source doesn’t matter; context doesn’t matter. A LIST OF THINGS PEOPLE LOOK AT THIS IT’S A LIST

By calling them “Mad Men” era pictures, Mr. Copyranter demonstrates that the term means “back then before disco and Reagan,” unless he’s anticipating the new season’s timeframe, which I doubt. Someone in the comments - bless you - notes that I was on this oh, ten years ago, and he curtly responds that he credited the source from which he took the pictures. As opposed to “really? There was an internet that did those things when I was in middle school? Cool; I’ll check that out.” But that’s normal. Expected. I just wonder if context and precedent matter much anymore, or whether remix culture regards everything as a punchline undeserving of context. Because the past sucked except for when they were 12 and had that Mario game and if you remember jumping for that mushroom you’re awesome.

Empathy is always held up as a great virtue, but it’s remarkable how so few people have empathy with the total sum of the American experience beyond their own self-definition. It’s possible that somewhere in their heart of hearts they think “I am a milky-pallor wisp-chested neutral with thick-framed glasses well aware that my grandfather was being shot at in Italy when he was my age, and I am writing posts about the 23 Sloth Babies That Will Make Your Day.” That can sting.








No, I'm not running out of this stuff. It's remarkable: every week I find something new. Some of these might be dupes, or quotes from passages already played. And there's a surprising bit at the end.

These, of course, are from the Couple Next Door. Plot this week: the wife had the baby; the baby is actually rather ugly; they forgot the daughter's birthday. An emergency party is convened; wife ticks off all the things they must have, including gifts for the attendees, some sort of entertainment like a magician. Husband protests, noting that in his day kids just came over and played and had cake and went home.

This was broadcast in 1958. It could run without updates today.

So, keeping that in mind, some cues.


Sarcastic mocking waltz macabre:



All-purpose first-act closing music:



Children's song: "This is the way we blank the blank."



This is what they'd use to indicate a wifely eyebrow cocked in a way that says "remember? I was right, wasn't it?"



Wholesale throw-up-your-hands forget about it YOU DEAL WITH IT music, or just broad things-are-happening transitional music:



Once again, I'm trying to figure out what mood was intended here. You have hints of someone who's self-important, and wrong. (Husbands, in other words.



Crisis! Panic! The Birthday Party is underway! Mad crazy circus cue:



But the Birthday Party is done, another milestone passed: cue up alls-well-that-ends-well #52



Now, another show: Dimension X. It was an early 50s sci-fi program, a precursor to "X Minus One." Used some of the same scripts. It had a great closing theme:



Dimension X used library music - but this wasn't library music. I'm convinced this is Universal Monster-music soundtrack material.


Finally, a PSA for something that probably didn't need a PSA, but this was broadcast on Armed Forces Radio, I believe. So this is what you're doing here, guys.



Some context, there. You provide the empathy. ;) Have a grand weekend.












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