Listened to some of the “lost” tapes of Orson Welles, having lunch and dishing about everyone who was less talented or made more money, or both. They’re delightful, funny, and tremendously sad. He was hard up. He had no work. He was inordinately large and his closest companion seemed to be an indifferent poodle. Hated Hitchcock; hated “Rear Window.” Thought Chaplin was overrated and noted that he had gag writers, despite the image of the Lone Genius. (Yes and no; there’s lots of film of Chaplni at work, where you can see him refining bits and visual gags, and I doubt anyone was feeding him ideas while the cameras weren't rolling.) (Then again, maybe they were saying things; who'd know? They're silent.)

The saddest thing - aside from the alternating bouts of pride and pity - was the remark by one of the narrators that Welles doubted he’d be remembered down the road. I suppose that’s easy to see, in retrospect; couldn’t see the day when films would be sold on shiny disks to all the streamed over the air with the ease of birdsong, when you didn’t have to wait for a movie to come around, you only had to summon it.

He might be dismayed to find that Amazon will give you a gift card for “Chimes at Midnight” in the amount of $1.50, though.

He didn’t like Woody Allen, at all, and detested him for the same reason Chaplin annoyed him: the parade of vulnerability. Cloying in Chaplin’s case, brittle and needy in Allen’s. He called it the Chaplin syndrome, and defined it thus: “Look at what a small penis I have. And don’t you adore me for it?”

The narrator said “I’ve never understood completely what he meant.”


As I noted before, the coffeemaker broke. It used K-Cups. They sent another one - thank you, Hamilton Beach - but I’ve avoided taking it out of the box, because A) the timer only stays on for two hours, and b) ever since I read reviews that said the coffee had a plastic taste I seem to remember that the coffee had a plastic taste, although I probably didn’t notice at the time. Thanks, implanted memories! I was shopping around for a K-Cup machine, simply because my wife likes the convenience of making a single cup, and discovered that Keurig has complicated matters somewhat. They're introducing a new line of machines that make better hotter stronger coffee with foam if you like, and that’s great!

They don’t use K-cups.

They’re changing the format. They’ve gone all HD-DVD on us. So do coffee lovers take the plunge and embrace the new, or stick with the old? In my case I have about 30 K-cups left over, and I’ll be switched if I toss them out to experience the new Vue Lifestyle, only to have the format die when customers say “hey, wait a minute. Hold the phone. Put the phone down. Click the thing so you have a dial tone. Now call me up and tell me why I should invest in a new format with complete confidence you won’t come up with something new in a year or two.”

Because they will. Of course they will. People forget the VCR tape wars of the end of the 20th century. In the beginning there was just videotape - same black box with the window, same labels you could use for annotating content so they looked nice on the shelf. Then came SuperVHS, and you absolutely had to get SuperVHS my God it’s Super what more do you need to know. Look at that picture! Look at it!

If you’d showed us HDTV back then I think we would have hid behind a chair and thrown bones and stones at the set, like monkeys confronting the monolith in 2001.

Of D-VHS we will not speak.

Sorry for the small portion today - why, you could say it's K-cup sized! - but it's column night and I have nothing. But I do have the stuff for you below, as well as a Restaurant interior update.


Huzzah, a new feature!

When I google the locations for the Restaurant Postcard site I often end up in towns I’ve never heard of. Nothing unusual there. Most of the towns in this country are familiar to few. You know the ring of towns around your own, the prominent ones in your state, the second tier-towns in an adjacent state, perhaps, but a Florida burg with 10, 000 people near nothing you ever visited? You never hear about those towns unless someone who lived there once moved away and got famous. Then it’s trotted out as proof of Humble Beginnings or some such flavor to enhance the broth of biography.

So: Petlaska. Petaska. Peterka - no. Palatka, Florida. Here’s the hub of downtown.

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It has a banner that says “welcome to Historic downtown.” The last time I saw that banner it was another town whose core was deserted, falling down, barren and bereft of proof humanity still walked the earth. This is better, but it’s another example of Neutron-bomb urbanism. Spin that map around. There are buildings, but no stores. Bodies, but no spirits.

Let's take a look around. These places have distinct facades and styles for different purposes. Care to guess what this was?

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Of course it's a bank. Or was; its sign now says it handles deliquent tax collection, which seems apt.

Pristine - and empty:

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You can tell from the windows it was a substantial store; big window displauys you could walk around, and if you go in close I think you could walk around them. Mannikens striking dramatic poses, drapred with the latest.

Nothing on the right side anymore:

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. . . but they spruced up the street nicely, eh? Turn left and there's a block whose final building is determined to yield no secrets, admit no people.

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Not to say it's all gone. Here's the Bingo parlor.

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Penneys or a Wooldworth. If I had to guess I'd say the latter; dime stores would seem more likely to have two entrances, but the sign fits the word PENNEYS quite nicely, too.

I don’t want to romanticize the past; it doesn’t give me any intellectual satisfaction or righteousness to dislike Wal-Mart. But the difference between seated in an arid, sealed, windowless food court, and a booth along the window at the downtown cafe? It’s one thing to know the world is milling around out there, and another entirely to see it, watch the action, the way everything moves and stays out of everything else’s way.

The gains are intangible, difficult to quantify. The losses are right there, up and down the block. When you look at city after city with an aching hole in its heart, the whole thing looks like murder.


Updates on the right - restaurant interiors! Also, See you around.



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