From Shorpy




Rain has diminshed the snowpack somewhat; only a few floes on the boulevards. It's raining now. The forecast predicts it will continue to fall through Friday, and at some point will shift to snow. Half a foot is expected. People are just . . . stunned, really.The mood around here makes wartime Stalingrad look like a Berlin cabaret in the 20s. At least mine anyway; that explains the general uselessness and padding and wandering discursions of the Bleat this week.

I mean, everything's okay, aside from the low-level throb of despair. I just can't gin up any enthusiasm for anything and nothing I'm doing interests me at all, and everything in the exterior world seems to consist of chaos or irrelevancy, requiring a position of pained amazement, but aside from that it's fine.

Walked around downtown today. The wind makes you cry and then the tears freeze. So I headed up into the skyway, which is frowned upon by contemporary urban theories; it takes the life off the street. Well, the wind took the life out of me, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to walk a few blocks without chipping a molar from chattering my teeth.

Interesting: talking is chatting, a little talk is a chat, but the act of banging your teeth together without producing words is chattering. Root word looks French. Googling . . . no, it’s Middle English, “of imitative origin.” So it's onomatopoeia, then. But only for a culture whose language has a lot of long a-vowels in their speech.

Anyway. Tried to take a picture of the lobby of the Medical Arts building for an upcoming site, and the security guard shut me down. Which is her right, but man, some people are just unpleasant, particularly the ones who have the slimmest vestige of authority and assume from the uniform that they are America’s Front Line Against People Taking Pictures of 1920s Light Fixtures. Then I wandered over to the coin store, which I visit once a year; talked metals and stock markets and money with the owner, who’s always up for a chat.

Felt like a cracker-barrel conversation down at the General Store, and I mean that in a good way; a man needs a place where he can just lean against the counter and sound off about the World.

He had some silver coins for sale. One ounce. Stamped in the denominations of various countries, including Somalia. They were selling well, he said. Mostly to Somalians. Well, entirely. It's all psychology: even though the coins are pure silver, and might as well be stamped with the national symbol of Syldavia, people shy away from them if the country seems dodgy.

You’d think a newsroom would be one of them, but you’d be amazed how little news gets discussed in a casual fashion.

When I walked through one of the dining areas I saw everyone watching TV reports about the Boston bomber's arrest. Whipped out the phone. 10% Battery. Hit the twitter feed, scrolled back, and as I walked to the office I saw the story bloom, get accepted as gospel, get debunked and retracted. I'm sure you could make the case that I missed some element of the Real World, some moment that would have immersed me in the physical reality of our shared space and stood as a damning contrast to walking along with one's head bent down staring at a glowing rectangle, but I've walked those blocks a thousand times and there's nothing to see. Really. It's a parking ramp and then another parking ramp. If I hadn't been checking Twitter I would have been thinking about dinner.

If real life wants to rip me away from news on Twitter it's going to have to step up its game, that's all I'm saying. I did look up and see some new planters outside the ramp.

They're ugly.

At home: the drywall man came. Before the hole is sealed - which should be, oh, any week now; they're three weeks behind - I took a picture of the old tub, seen beneath the cowl the renovators draped over the old tub. The original tub, or "OT" as the rappers say, from a hundred years ago:



Red? What was this thing, a sacrificial vessel for unspeakable rites?

The drywall repairman was a nice guy, and smart, too: he has one of my books. Happened with the internet repair guy, too. It's an odd life. I hate when it happens during a week when I feel so lackluster about everything I'm doing - ah, you may say you like the work, but you have no idea what a fraud, what a spent force, a wet firecracker, a dried-up toad baking on a desolate stretch of West Texas hardpan I really am.

"Still working!" says the guy in the coin shop every time I come in. By which he means "still downtown, and therefore still at the paper," but I hear the general sentiment. Of course. What are the alternatives?


I just remembered what I was going to write about today. Gasoline Alley. Why the multi-volume collection of the strip's 1920s run is a wonderful thing. Why I started reading it. Why I realized I do not care. Tomorow then. Oh by all means rein in your impatience.

In this mood I have to write a newspaper column, by the way. Wish me luck.







Clicked on a link for one of those “old-timey ads they wouldn’t run today, steeling myself for the usual suspects and fakes. Sure enough:



Supposedly the internet generation is more visually literate than any other, because they look at a lot of pictures and can tell when something's 'shopped on account of the pixels, but they fall for this because it conforms to their ideas about the dumb old past with stupid ads and stupid ideas.

Where do you start with this?

Mom and child don't look like they're from the same picture. “How Soon Is too soon” - capitalization issues aside - is the wrong typeface for the period. The bottle is a Coke bottle backwards. The slanted copy stuck between the picture and the text is amateurish; the use of "lifestyle" is anachronistic. The use of “sugary,” which they wouldn’t use. (It was DEXTROSE for energy, if anything.) The entire copy is ridiculous - but only if you have that smug unearned superiority over THEM for being NOT US.

I make fun of the ads of the time over at Tumblr, but not for these reasons. Sometimes there's a

But then there's this: sure. Uh huh. You'll often find the "Man From U.N.C.L.E." typeface, which was invented in 1946, in ads from the 1900s.



Someone at the Huffington Post put it up, too. Now, I don't expect everyone to have the sort of familiarity with the vernacular of early 20th century ads as, say, someone who's about to sell an ebook (in pdf form) for $1.25 on the subject of early 20th century ads. But this is what you get when everything before 1999 is "retro" and everything before 1979 is "Vintage."

As for that book . . . well, that's for Monday. Yes, yes, the week of lameness, but it ends with a big huge new site that's FREE, like everything else, and then the book, which will be also free if you want to take it without buying it.

Oh! Motels. Five motels. So there's that, too. Blah. Snow. Blah.













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