I love Friday more than any other day, but Thursdays are starting to be like Christmas Eve. Ever since I decided not to shop for the weekly provisions on Saturday - a resolution, yes, an honest-to-Bog resolution (speaking of Bog, I mentioned that I would talk about Fantasia this week, having watched it on Netflix. [Bog is Russian for God; the creature in the mountain in the penultimate sequence is Chernobog.] So much of my views these days comes from its date, the fascinating year of 1939, with all the nightmares gathering in the margins. At least from an American perspective. At least from my perspective. All anyone did was go to the World’s Fair, talk about Hitler, and see Citizen Kane. It’s a benchmark year, especially when you compare it to ’29, and consider the changes in every single aspect of culture: music, movies, magazines, architecture, fashion. The Depression, as we have been taught, was ten straight years of living on sawdust and selling apples to the 3% of Americans who still had jobs, but somehow the dynamism of the American Culture managed to improve and damn near reinvent the way everything looked, or would look in the near future.
Everything I liked about Fantasia I still like, and everything I didn’t I still don’t. Except for the opening. Toccata and Fugue is a bit toooo . . . I don’t know, literally figurative. It enchanted as a yout because the style of the animation was something I hadn’t seen before - the gauzy, shimmering quality of some of the images are transfixing, even if they’re violin bows marching in the sky. The Pastoral sequence’s imaginary ancient-classical setting might be the last gasp of the West’s nostalgia for the Elysian fields and temples of Noble Greece, although I could do without the bare-arse cherubs. The Nutcracker sequence has some beautiful moments, although I think small children parents brought because Mickey! might have been terrified by the dancing Russian thistles.
Something I found today in a 1941 New Yorker:
That little fellow is from the Chinese Dance segment. Which raises the question, as Dance Magazine raised: IS THIS OPERA RACIST?
The whole ballet tradition is inherently racist, so the traditional productions of Nutcracker can also be seen as racist.
Says one. Says another:
There’s not one single thing about The Nutcracker that’s racist.
Said a third:
I don’t find The Nutcracker racist. I think it’s Eurocentric in terms of its perspective. You’re being told a story—even when it’s set in America—from the perspective of a traditional 19th-century European household. Anybody that was not European is presented as exotic—the notion of the Other. I would say it’s exclusive rather than racist. It excludes the Other and reserves its experiences for a particular group: Anglo-Europeans.
As opposed to other 19th century cultures, which regularly included and celebrated other cultures) to do my shopping on Wednesday, it’s opened up the weekend, and shaken up the way I’ve been doing things because I am so immensely bored with the way I’ve been doing things. Like, you know, writing coherent, easy-to-follow blog posts.
This is not a review, and I suppose it’s somewhat spoileresque, but there’s a larger issue. Two, now that I think about it.
I mentioned I was watching “The Fall,” a BBC drama - sorry, a NETFLIX ORIGINAL HAHA YEAH RIGHT - starring Gillian Anderson as a chilly, remote, unemotional, Super-Brilliant Somehow person whose glacial exterior masks untapped wells of empathy and humanity. It started to turn into cat-and-mouse with the bad guy, and then, in Episode Three, decided it would do something so stupid the audience would realize they’d been taken in by good cinematography, excellent lighting, and Gillian Anderson.
They found the place where the killer took some victims, a place that had a female manniken on a chair to remind you know that the killer has psychological issues and is Scary. It’s a deserted cabin with a fabulous view of Glasgow below. The yard is full of cop cars and cops and cops in cars and cars with cops in them, and Gillian Anderson. The killer drives up the road. Sees the cops. Turns off his light. Backs out.
Our brilliant cop notes this with a look of cool . . . amusement, really, then takes down the license number (in the dark, at a distance of forty yards) and forwards it to someone to look for the car. INSTEAD OF POINTING THE COPS IN CARS TO FOLLOW IT NOW.
To me, this breaks faith with the audience. It presumes we won’t notice how ludicrous this is, or will justify it because we like the show, or the actor. As indeed one critic did:
As police looking for Rose's abandoned phone find its case and tyre tracks matching her car, Stella sees a car pull up, lights off, and then drive away – it's Paul.
Praise to Cubitt that he doesn't have Stella running down the road in hot pursuit waving a gun (this isn't an American cop show, after all), instead she approaches, calmly jots down the licence plate number and watches the car depart.
Praise! The minute you realise this is rubbish, as the British comments say, you realize how much you’ve been excusing other things because the first season was so harrowing and horribly compelling. (And Gillian Anderson.) Now everything gets the spotlight, and everything looks stupid, and you turn on the show - but you have to finish it. Now you’re hate-watching.
I wrote that yesterday, and decided to watch another episode before posting. Wise. Now I really look smart. The fourth episode wasn’t as ludicrous, but because it had been ludicrous before you expected additional ludicrosity, and thus scoffed at the small details you would have let pass before. That’s hate-watching.
I hate it.
Yes, I believe this might be Texas.
It opened in 1929, after the crash. The modernization occured in the 40s; here's the old facade, and more details here. It's oversized for the town and surrounding area, which might be why it's been closed for decades.
Speaking of modernization:
It looks like they designed the rehab based on the machines that crush cars into small cubes. You can still see the old cornice; for some reason they didn't cover it up, but gave the old soul of the structure a narrow window through which it could watch the days pass by.
"'Scuse me, podner, but I'm new 'round these here parts; where might a fellow go to get some Trust?"
Construction began in 1908; it has that era's stern simplicity. It looks as though it was built for a big bustling future that never quite turned out.
Another 50s rehab with all the basics - big windows! Angled storefront! Novel, not-quite-explicable facade.
I'll bet it was a clothing store. Still some middle-aged people who recall going there with Mom for a special suit or dress.
I'm thinking "aesthetics" was not at the top of the list of "Things to Do" that year.
Again, a reminder: we're in Texas.
An auto garage, I presume. Someone's great pride.
Or a dealership? No: a piano store! Yes, folks drove in, loaded up the pi-annee on the back and headed home.
You're looking at an untouched building, for better or worse - if the door isn't original, the windows surely are. Perhaps it's remained in its prime state because whoever built it couldn't make a go of it, and didn't have the scratch to bring it up to the modern age. But still: someone's great pride.
Let's take another look at that smothered structure. From this angle it's almost an abstract painting.
Here we see the brick, which is a pretty cool hue. It must have been something remarkable at the time, when you think about it - proof that the town was up on the times. Brick? That isn't brown? Don't know if I cotton to all this change at once.
Now the vanguard style is selling antiques.
Again, whoa: That's a lot of hotel for a town under 100K.
The town's population is about 113K now; I assume it was less in the 20s when Connie Hilton bestowed this one on the town. Tallest building in town. Its website notes that the big public spaces are available for rental - but no overnight accomodations. Empty, in other words. Gaze upon that slab above, and think of the rooms, the closets, the bathroom cabinets. Empty.
One last reminder: we are in Texas.
Probably just Tumblr around noon today, but there are some cool old motels in Fargo, right at this very minute. See you around!