I was downtown shooting video for an upcoming piece, and took the elevator up to the second floor to see if construction had finished. Construction had not finished. It was nothing but. A workman looked surprised: “That’s the first time anyone has come out of that elevator,” he said, as if I had been summoned up by a jinn. I explained I was doing a piece on the building, showed my credentials.

“There’s a vault for the Federal Reserve downstairs,” he said. “Wanna see it?”

Oh my yes, I did. Down we went. The vault door is open - Lord knows when it was last shut - and the space behind it was the old room where the big money was kept.


I shot as much as I could in the dim light, and listened to another guy explain how the door operated.

Such a friendly town.

Anyway, the video will be up later. I had gone to get exterior shots. I got the bank vault doors. Something like that just makes your day.



About those vinyl records: part of the fun, and by “fun” I mean a difficult enterprise that encourages well-meaning advice from others I will not take, is getting the covers into the files. I’m shooting them with a camera, but the lighting is never right; if I don’t get a bloom from a distant bulb, it’s too dim and fuzzy. And I am NOT going to set up a lightbox to shoot these things.

Okay, I’ll set up a lightbox to shoot these things. But until then, I put them on the floor and take pictures. It’s another world, these images.


Torso and a tiny TV to indicate Modern Progress. Of all things, it’s a Singer. I had no idea they made such a thing, but sure enough. The startled face on the tube is Frank Crankshield, or Chacksfield or Crankshaft, who arranged these hits. The woman, we have no idea - but the back of the album gives us more.


I am not sure how much credit Frank should get, because a few of these arrangements seemed . . . familiar. When I dropped the needle on the record I was actually startled, because I had heard it before. It’s the incredible swank causing finger-popping Nelson Riddle version of “Route 66.” Shall we compare and contrast? Warning: there is no contrast.

The Original.


The K-Tel Version.

As for Frank Chacksfield: he was an English easy-listening music king, and sold 20 million records. Wikipedia notes that he recorded mostly on the Phase 4 label, a Decca / London joint that used a 20-track recording set-up, and provided fuller sound. Supposedly. They had a million gimmicks. The London label also had the fffr / eardrum logo. Which meant:

Full frequency range recording (ffrr) was a spin-off devised by Arthur Haddy of British Decca's development, during the Second World War, of a high fidelity hydrophone capable of detecting and cataloguing individual German submarines by each one's signature engine noise, and enabled a greatly enhanced frequency range (high and low notes) to be captured on recordings.

Somehow when you dropped a blunt dusty needle on a grungy record, these subtleties were lost.

Notes on the ongoing Pumpkinification of Everything: Remember when cheesecake was a rare thing and didn't have any flavors except cheesecake? Pepperidge Fahm does, but prefers to bring your attention to this new innovation:

I draw your attention to the "Limited Edition" sign, which a) is hanging from the scalloped awning of the Dessert Shop, and B) is using a sturdy 19th century serif font that's quite popular these days. It connotes trust, manliness, tradition, strength, and honesty. Probably used in its time to sell tractors or dentures. The leaves are falling to validate the reason for the pumpkin, and lend a bittersweet note to the treat. Everything dies. So eat a cookie.




How did he escape the car plunging in flames over the cliff?

They really put a lot of thought into these. Reminder: That made 10 times Batman had started a fight or tried to get one over on the guys, and failed.

Back at Evil Japanese Villain HQ, they’re babbling about how “Chuck White” was a member of Batman’s organization, when of course he was Bruce Wayne, who is Batman. But never mind! They have the radioactive material, and that means one thing:

Well, he’s on the right track, but you almost hate to break it to him.

New non-Batman sequence! Bruce, in his “Chuck White” disguise, goes to jail so he can interview Marshall, the guy Batman caught and gave to the police.

So let’s break that down. Batman catches him, uses him to get the location of the crook’s HQ - the Sphinx Club, you’ll recall - then gives him to the police without additional interrogation. Then the police get a call from Bruce Wayne, asking if he could be booked under another name right next to the guy Batman dropped off. Cops: “Sure, dilettante man-about-town who’s always with a young boy.”

Turns out that’s not right. Chuck got himself arrested somehow, intending to find Marshall, and since Gotham has only two jail cells it was a cinch he’d be placed next to his target. He starts talkin’ about how he was prowlin’ around lookin’ for a place to knock over, and the next thing he knows he’s in this crazy cave with a guy dressed like a Bat sittin’ at a desk. Marshall asks if he could find the house again. Sure thing, pal. Marshall gives him the address of some other crooks’ lair we’ve never been to, and says go give them the address in exchange for a handsome reward.

Meanwhile, Evil Japanese Villain hears that Chuck White has been arrested on burglary charges BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE REALLY CARE ABOUT. CHUCK FARGIN’ WHITE.

He’s bailed out, and the crooks follow his taxi, and - Holy Crow, look at this backlot building:

If it is a backlot building. I’ll be looking for that in a movie for the rest of my days.

They take advantage of a sudden lunar eclipse to gain the element of surprise:

The henchmen congratulate themselves for that. “Much better than running him over,” one grins. Really. Of course he’s fine. He suits up and goes to the HQ in the woods, annnnnd fistifight. I like how the second guy steps in, because now it’s his turn to punch! But what’s this? Pay attention to the end:

Robin finally gets wise and picks up a gun. IT'S ABOUT TME. But then the thug in the next room gets a gun and hits Batman hard on the head, guaranteeing 11 straight losses in the fistfight department; Robin is also struck hard in the jaw, but instead of spitting out teeth he waits for the thugs to drag the unconscious Batman to a chair and runs into the next room, where the Secret Radio is. The thugs are otherwise occupied deciding what to do with Batman. Take him to the boss for zombification! That’ll be great. But first, let’s rip off his mask and see who he is:

IT’S CHUCK WHITE, they all say.

Meanwhile, Robin’s called the cops, so the bad guys decide to scram - but first they’ll take care of Batman and Robin the easiest, most simple way possible: blowing up the shack with dynamite. Of course Batman wakes up, and for once I think we have an idea how this cliffhanger might be resolved:

As they say: don't fail to see the Embers of Evil of Batman!




Work blog around 12:30, maybe - big column & interview day tomorrow. Tumblr around noonish or so - see you then!


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