When I got to work:
And when I left.
I know what you’re thinking: seems it got cloudy. Why yes, it did, but that was a temporary thing. Also, the ugly building went down for good, and the end, as they say, came quickly. The demolition machine, or Demolator, was fascinating to watch; there was an eerie sentience to the claw’s movements, a fluid grace that made it seem alive. A testament to the precise controls, of course; it was alive, in the sense that it was an extension of the operator’s brain, just made of different materials.
At one point the claw picked up a big pole and started knocking the bricks off the facade, revealing the cinderblocks underneath; they got a good punch and tumbled into the rubble heap. Yay destruction! It makes one feel alive, somehow. Something different is happening, and that’s exciting! Probably the cause of all the worst things ever to befall mankind, that one. Then the claw worked on the girder where it met the foundation, and I thought: he’s just sick to death of the damned thing and is going to cut it off and let it go - but no, of course not, there was still enough steel standing straight to carry the corner if he snipped the beam. His purpose became clear later. He wasn’t going to snip every beam on every floor. He was going to grab the top and pull it down to its death.
The Last Day from James Lileks on Vimeo.
Daughter wanted to watch a TV show tonight as it happened, which is a throwback to the old ways. One of her favorite characters got shot in the neck. “And his life hangs in the balance,” she said with great drama. In my early days no one got shot in the neck, and nothing hung balance-wise; at most they got one of those Flesh Wounds that Induce Wincing, and they’d have their arm in a sling in the epilogue, and that would be it. Next episode, no scars, no therapy; back to punching. I think this was why I loved Wo Fat and Harry Mudd: recurring characters suggested that the stories were not hermetically sealed.
Great wail from the family room when the show was over: it was a CLIFFHANGER! A two-parter! I realized she was still unaware of Arc TV, series where every bloody show is a fargin’ cliffhanger, where you’re drawn out over the course of years. If you can’t handle one series-ending cliff-hanger, well, here’s one word: LOST. Here’s another: DON’T. Or do; it’s a fascinating rabbit-hole, but in retrospect, I can’t tell you what the hell that was about. Remember the part where the atom bomb in the parallel universe was defused by Talies who had worked with the Others and Hurley used the numbers in a flashback at Oxford in a room with a Foucauld’s Pendulum to stop the billionaire from drowning the bass player from a rock band who found heroin on a ship only to see it stolen by a polar bear? WAAAALLLLT! Good God, the amount of time I put into that thing. Like juggling flaming Rubik’s cubes glued into Mobius strips.
I did like the last episode, though.
Anyway. Asked her when the show returned, and learned she had to wait a whole week to find out what happened next.
Sat her down, googled Star Trek Best of Both Worlds, showed her the three-minute clip of the end of part one. She’s seen the Star Trek movies, so it looked incredibly slow and low-budget - but it still held her attention.
That, I said, was the greatest cliffhanger of all time, and do you know how long we had to wait? Three months.
So don’t give me any of your next-week boo-hoo-hoo.
Might be wrong about it being the greatest; perhaps the end of “Empire Strikes Back,” which an article somewhere on the internet the other day discussed - that was the movie that changed Hollywood, not “Star Wars.” I think the author’s right. It didn’t reprise the original. It added to it, implied a vast world of stories beyond the one you saw, and ended with the most resolutely irresolute ending of any major motion picture: all your heroes in a condition best described as NOT DEAD YET staring out the window at the last hope of the Rebellion, and at that moment you knew the movie was over, and while there would be another one, it was years away.
But we didn’t complain. One was great, two was a gift, three was incredible. I still wonder what my reaction would be if I went back to my self sitting in the theater in 1978 watching “Star Wars” for the sixth time, and saying “Hey, Me, I’m You from 2014, and it looks like there will be ten more Star Wars movies in the twenty-twenties, on top of the five to come. Even better: over a dozen Star Trek movies, and hey, what the heck, four more Star Trek TV shows, most of which last seven years. But the one thing you can’t see coming? There’ll be a point where you say ‘For God’s sake, stop making $200 million Spider-Man movies already.”
You’re not future me! I’d never say that!
You will, Oscar. You will.
A Monty Python reference - you are future me! Tell me, what else? Fantastic Four movies?
Two. Eh. We’re hoping the third is better.
Two? What other Marvel characters were made into movies?
Who wasn’t? Two Hulks, two Thors, Iron Man out the wing-wang, you’ll tire of him - some wonderful Captain America. But you know who you’ll really like? Batman.
Now you’re lying again. That’s like saying they made a movie about . .. I don't know, Hawkeye.
Well, now that you mention it, yes. In a way. The Avengers are big. Oh, and I forgot the X-men. Must be seven of those by now.
(stunned silence) When are you from again?
I hope Stan Lee lived long enough to see it.
Oh, he’s in every movie. It’s a running joke. Well, must go. Excelsior! Remember, Han shot first. You saw it. Never forget.
Something else that just occurred to me: when Han is going down into the Carbonite, and Leia says I love you and he replies “I know,” that’s the 80s equivalent of Renault saying “round up the usual suspects” at the airport. It’s not the same, but it has the same effect on the audience: everything just clicks and becomes something more. People remember the movies that flooded them with satisfaction and emotion and amusement in an unexpected way. We had waited years for this and it was so good.
Never had that emotion in a Star Wars movie again. They became things to be observed and endured.
Ten more to come. If I live long enough I’ll see every damned one.
I click on a state and zoom until I find a city that looks like the right size for a downtown. That's all. Once I choose I don't go elsewhere; I have to stick with the choice.
And so we find ourselves in . . .
This sums up downtowns of a certain size all too well.
There's an old brick building under there, I'm sure, smothered with metal for the bright post-war world.
It's not long for this world, perhaps. One big summer storm.
A tiny tiny shop can only be one thing:
The Don Pratt Hotel. Scant records on the web about the identity of Don Pratt, but there are many men whose biographies are available online, but don't have their name blaring down from the third floor of a hotel. Smart move, Don.
An old sign, I believe, spiffted up and given a chance for a second century:
Excep that it's a fabric store, now. Bakery Fabrics. I also like the old AMC sign peeking in on the right.
Thinnest structure in the West:
Why bother to build that structure at all? There's not enough room to do anything. It's not as if anyone had a desk in the nice corner window.
I think it's safe to say this one has had some work done:
They covered up one store front, and put in windows, and then covered up the windows. I'm reasonably sure the newer stuff isn't stone, but pressed metal, painted over.
Did the guy who finished the job step back and say "now there's some quality remodelling, right there. Right there indeed."
Gloomy civic building made worse by the Second-Story Blinding.
Hey, Harv, those windows are letting in entirely too much light. Cut 'em down bout 43 percent if you could.
Sure, boss, but why not get some blinds? Maybe some curtains?
MAKE THE WINDOWS SMALLER, Harv, that's what I said. Now get on it.
Finally: Name the decade.
Late 30s, possibly early 40s. I love the black enamel with the yellow stripe - no reason to do that except pride and small-town improvement. Wonder who signed the checks. Wonder what he sold.
Take a stroll; I'm sure I missed something.
Short work blog today, if at all - but there's a spiffy little thing in the 30s section, now that we're done with those Bobby Sherman cartoons.
Never thought I'd write that sentence, but I'm glad I did. Have a fine day.