A column night with no good ideas, as usual. Something will shoulder to the front of the queue of shuffling, silent, shamed ideas, and I’ll be off. I’m limber up with this, even though the day was utterly without distinction and nothing of note happened. I wrote, I scanned, I walked the dog. I was awakened too early by my phone, which had a Periscope notification because I forgot to put it on Airplane Mode. Interesting how that’s the new Do Not Disturb sign: a picture of an airplane. Just as a floppy is the sign for saving. Will the floppy survive and take on a new meaning in the next generation, disconnected from its identify as a storage medium? Will churches have a picture out front with a Cross and a Floppy?

Anyway, that’s the modern world: you have to disconnect your personal computational / communication device so it doesn’t whistle at you an hour before you wake: hey! Someone on Twitter is scrambling eggs! All of these things seem like details in a dystopian comedy, but like so many other details we could have never imagined, they’re just annoying.

Which reminds me: season 2 of Black Mirror is on Netflix now, I believe.

Related, somewhat: at the grocery store today a nice lady was getting some money out of the cash machine by the doors. The screen said HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

I could not help myself. As I walked past I said “Happy Birthday!” I was f six or seven feet away on the other side of the rail, so I figured that would mitigate against the startling effect of my words, which of course I instantly regretted, but not entirely. I mean, Happy Birthday! Why not.

She was of course surprised that a complete stranger said Happy Birthday, and I said “Wells Fargo is telling everyone,” and she was amused.

You can’t hide anything from them, she said.

Machines programmed to be friendly have no way of interpreting social cues; if you punch the buttons hard, or the camera detects a scowl, it will go right along with its idiot cheer. i suppose it would be worse if it said “You seem upset,” because you know it doesn’t care but you might start talking to it anyway. And once you do that you have to wonder about the conversations you had with human clerks. They didn’t care much either, yet they asked.

I am between TV shows for midweek watching, so I’ve been filling some time with oddities I would not watch except that it’s late and I’m in the mood for something fast that says something about the times, and that means Dragnet 1967. You have to ask yourself if everything looked that cheap and unrealistic on TV, and for the most part, yes. TV was a place without brand names, for example. Everyone lived in some strange world without Tide or Coke or Bud or Heinz. The music was always wrong, and it was always so wrong you thought it had to be a conscious choice. When they played “rock and roll” in the early 60s it had a sax and a jangly Bill-Haley guitar, and when they played “psychodelic music” in the late 60s it was always a sitar glissando up and down, with gourd drums. The stores on Dragnet are barren, garishly lit places - in fact, everything looks like it was a USSR production, because that was as good as their earnest TV probably got.

But now and then, there’s a shot that seems to show they gave a small-sized hoot on occasion.


The Passion of St. Joe doesn't seem like an apt title. Any ideas?



A while ago in the local paper a writer who delights in pointing out how America is hypocritical and religiously intolerant - I do wonder if he regrets coming here - wrote something about Las Vegas, and how it sums up the American soul. This was an unoriginal idea by the time Ben Siegel got a lead headache.

But to show that not all Nevada is the strip, here's a simple unassuming part of the state whose charms have survived. Small-town wise, it gets no better than this:

It's attached to this structure, which isn't a drug store anymore - but I'll bet that's the original drug-store sign. The corner bay is unusual, and once you see it you wonder why it was unusual. Seems like every building should have had one of those.

Why the blank wall? I'll bet that's where the fountain was.

The Civic Building / Firehouse.

I wonder if the entire building was set back to give the firetrucks room to back in, or because the style required that Civic structures should be removed a few yards from the teeming masses. Just in case.



Another Oddfellows building. I wonder how many people who belonged to these mutual aid societies ended up needing lots of mutual aid. Whether there was a cut-off, or people who joined to scam them. I'm sure of both. I mean, you get sued for $750,000 and the local IOOF is set up to help the Widder Johnson make her mortgage before the crops come in, you're not handing everything over to someone who took a flier on Peruvian silver mines.

From the Richarsonian Romanesque period, another block with Elephant Man Disease:

Either it was never ruined or it was well restored. I love the way the entrance tries for a grand enobling portal, but looks like something they bought at the Louis Sullivan Trade Show and glued on, thinking it would fit.

I don't think this style has a name, so let me give it one.

Californian. At least before 1950.

Another look at that drugstore block, with all the fine notes of a small downtown preserve for the 21st century. The public time piece. The ornamental details over the original storefronts.

Vegas may be false horrid glitz, as the facile writer referenced above said, but don't blame all of Nevada. Why, even the old / new bank pairing we've seen so many times works well here, because it's restrained:


The architect did that addition with the motto whispers and tiptoe. It's a good companion.

I'm guessing this was someone's name, but the removal of apostrophe does make the name sound as generic as possible.

Finally, the movie theater. Try to reconcile the name with the marquee sentiment.

Because the internet is glorious, Cinema Treasures has a comment thread on the site where someone said: "The Theatre name was the intials of my Great Uncles children – Sara, Eddie, Richard, and Fannie." The comment came from someone whose last name matched the owner of the place, Maloof. the family got its start distributing Coors around the time the SERF was built, and they went to do all right for themselves. Owned a casino in Vegas for a while.

Oh, by the way? This isn't the town of Surprise.

It's Vegas.

And yes, I've used that Gambles before, on the work blog. That'll learn you miss the work blog! See you around.


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