You could say they’re starting to dig the pit for the new towers, but I prefer to think of this another way:

They’re demolishing a parking lot. Which is true, right? They’re scraping up the asphalt and hauling it off. This is all moving very quickly; the sale was just last month, it seems. But I suspect they had the plans ready to go. This is interesting, for two reasons:

1. The enclosed walkways are up waaaay in advance of anything going up a few floors - although I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re up two or three floors by the end of the summer.

2. This block was the home of the Federal School of Applied Cartooning, which put out those “Draw Me!” matchbooks for decades. They moved away a long time ago, but for a while all those letters with poorly-drawn pirates and pretty gals were dropped off here, sack after sack.

We'll visit the site once a week and watch it all rise. Just so you know, this is a large project, and while I wish they'd doubled down and built the tallest damned building in town, I fear it would have been something that aged poorly, as so many modern skyscrapers tend to do.

So Daughter is home, and jet-lagged, and all is well. The plane got in late and I drove to the airport, weary, and sat outside listening to the radio. As I noted in a tweet, she came out of the terminal as the sweet slow part of “Rhapsody in Blue” was playing, and your heart swells and you think this is fatherhood. This is life. Something this simple, a happenstance soundtrack.

We went home and stayed up until 2:30 going through her photos on her phone and looking through the things she brought back. Many pictures of vending machines. I can't get my brain to process Japanese package design. It's like trying to find a melody in a tornado siren.

On the way to the airport I ran through the satellite channels; started at the 40s channel, as usual, and hello: Billy Joel. He was advising someone to tell her about it. Or he was telling someone to leave him alone, this being his life. Since Billy Joel was not recording in the 1940s I looked at the readout, and it said BILLYJOEL CHANNEL.

This was not a good thing to see. I don't mind Billy Joel, and like some of his songs very much, but anyone who wants a channel that has nothing but Billy Joel has all the songs on the iPod, and they can plug it into their car and let the rest of us listen to Duke and Glen and assorted Dorseys, okay?

I wondered if they’d moved the 40s channel elsewhere, and went up the line, including a hard slog through about 47 heavy metal channels. (By the way, Spotify, just because I listened to Judas Priest does not mean i want to listen to Dio, although thanks for the reminder that I do not want to listen to Dio.) (Why was I listening to Judas Priest? Because I remembered a riff from “Changes of Destiny” or “Destiny of Changes” or whatever the first EPIC track was on that album with the winged angel slumped over in hell. That was by Patrick Woodroffe, who also did the art for an album I liked by Greenslade, a rather obscure prig-rock band noted for having TWO keyboard players. Googling around for information about the artist, I came across a sentence that says everything about the pretentions and ambitions of that branch of popular music at the end of the seventies:

The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony is the combination of a hardback book and double vinyl album released in 1979, conceived, written and illustrated by Patrick Woodroffe, with music written and performed by Dave Greenslade.

The name is enough, but the combination of a book and a double album - it’s perfect. Or is there more?

Greenslade contributes the 74 minutes of music as his second solo project, enlisting Phil Collins amongst others to help.

Back when Phil was a “progressive” musician.

Anyway, I didn’t find the 40s channel. When i got to the airport and was waiting in line, I called up the website for XM radio and learned that the channel will be devoted exclusively to Billy Joel through the summer.
I was irritated, until I realized that I had just used a thin little slab - whose existence was pure sci-fi when I was in a dark dorm room listening to heavy metal - to contact the global information network to find out exactly what was playing on the radio that was connected to satellites overhead, and that I was doing this while waiting for my daughter to return from Asia.

A world of wonders, and we get so jaded. And for good reason. Yesterday I was reminded that I wanted to watch a new series on TV, so I picked up the iPad to record it. The iPad talks to the internet which talks to the box on top of the TV, and tells it when to turn on and what to do.
I needed to update the app. It would not work unless I updated the app. From 1.07b to 1.08, I guess. Instant irritation: c’mon. It’s one thing to update to add things or fix bugs, but to render the app useless? It’s like going to the shed to get a tool, and finding out the rake won’t work unless you hold it up to the phone for 45 seconds.

On the other hand, thanks to the internet, I am now listening to an excerpt of the Petauteuch of the Cosmogony. Awful. Sounds like those cheap late 70s sci-fi movies full of pew-pew lasers and people running around in cardboard sets in white jumpsuits and all the women have Dorothy Hamill hair. (Which was a projected follow-up to “She’s Got Bettie Davis Eyes,” btw. Vidal Sassoon thinks it’s not fair / she’s got Dorothy Hamill hair.”

On the gripping hand, thanks to the internet, you can listen to this, if you’re a mellotron fan.

There’s no sound like an old mellotron; the most haunting instrument ever invented. To really understand the mid-70s, though, consider that the same album had this. On a ROCK album. Made by guys with shaggy hair.



Our weekly look at the look of other weeks. The commercial culture, examples low and high, mean and great.

I think this is the very definition of “easy for you to say.”


You don’t know why she doesn’t burst out in tears and bang her hooves against his chest in frustration. It’s not enough she has to keep the house neat, work tirelessly as a spoke creature in public appearances, worry whether her necklace of daisies is fresh when she leaves the house because everyone says “oh, there’s the cow who walks erect and speaks,” she has to submit to period teat-kneading for the war effort, and this - this bull has the gall, the utter gall, to put up hectoring posters to make her lactate more? Really? Really?



1939 high-tech. The equivalent of big shoulder-mounted tape cameras whose products were put in shoe boxes and languish in attics and basements:

Overr a grand in modern money. To put it another way: fifty percent of the median income. It's about $50K. So imagine seeing an ad for a home stereo that costs $25,000.

Eventually the company changed their name to Wilcox-Gay-Majestic, which will be a search term that brings people here for the wrong reason.

I know I discussed this before; somehow missed this piece by Alexis Madrigal over at Atlantic. It has actual recording from one of these discs.




An odd name for a motor oil. It goes back to 1905; this logo is based on the refinement of a 1907 logo. It’s one of those words that sounds strange if you repeat it four or five times. Remember doing that as a kid? Why, still works as an adult.

It’s a good logo; I’ve no idea when they dropped it.


I include this for the usual reason: caught my eye. If you’re curious, Mobil was Socony-Vacuum for a while, a name that strikes modern eyes as unwieldy and obscure: what do they do? Well, SoCoNy was Standard Oil Company of New York, and Vacuum - it’s complicated. They were bought by Standard, sold off when the company was busted up, then merged again in 1931. Gargoyle was a Vacuum brand.


“Even cleans little boy’s knees.” No, Mom! It’s bleeding! It’ll hurt!

Well, let me clean the wound with this Paddy first.

Dobie is owned by 3M today; Paddy Pads were made by Brillo, which was sold to Armaly brands at some point. Armaly isn’t well known, but it’s an old company that goes back a hundred years. They sold sponges. From the website:

In 1926, the Ford Motor Company and the S.S. Kresge Company were added to the company's growing list of customers. John Armaly and Henry Ford (who referred to John as "Spongy"), traded bales of natural sponges for cars at Ford's Highland Park plant.

A lunch with Sebastian S. Kresge at the local hamburger grill usually resulted in a debate: "Why spend an extra penny for a slice of cheese?" was a favorite topic. During the depression, Armaly accepted K-Script from Kresge as payment for goods shipped to Kresge stores. Armaly's employees received the script as part of their pay and would use it to buy goods and services at Kresge stores.

K-script! I had no idea. No images that I can find. Spent and burned.

Wonder how employees reacted to the news that their pay would now include K-script.



Yum, leeks:



Borden bought the formerly independent Wyler & Co. in 1961. It traded the Wyler's drink business with Lipton for Pennsylvania Dutch noodles in 1986. Jel Sert bought Wyler's from Lipton parent Unilever in 1994.
When Borden left the food business, it sold Wyler's to Heinz.

Hard not to take that personally. But who was Wyler?


But who was Wyler? Silvain Wyler was his name.

Born in Switzerland in 1894, Silvain Wyler was educated in business administration and began his career in textile manufacturing. Through family connections, he met Arma during her visit from Chicago to Zurich. The two returned to Chicago and were married at the Drake Hotel.

Encouraged by Arma Wyler's parents, the couple sought entrepreneurial opportunities in the food processing industry. Silvain and Arma Wyler founded the Wyler Company in 1931, beginning by importing bouillon products from Europe. By the 1940s, the company had begun manufacturing its own products, and soon diversified into other areas of dehydrated food processing. The company merged with Borden in 1961, though the Wylers continued to be involved with the company.

They had no children. The University of Chicago’s Children’s Hospital is named after her.



There is no denying that assertion at all.

A reminder for modern package designers: simplicity sells.

Usual usual here and there; see you around.




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