It’s a column night, and I’m in the worst possible situation: an idea that’s only good for half a column. There’s never any shortage of things to write about, but the mandate is local, and finding something local that’s fit for risible skewering is a narrow row to hoe some times, and when the idea only merits 425 words there are still 515 words remaining, unformed, a howling void that must be stuffed.
By the way, the online paper now has a new picture. Or rather a new illustration based on an old picture.
I don’t think it looks like me. Neither does my wife. Daughter says it does. It’s an odd position to be in, no? Who am I to say what I look like? I’m biased. I’m probably the last person to ask. It’s not as if I spend a lot of time looking in the mirror; on the contrary. Once glance in the morning to make sure my tie is straight and my hair is not in Mad Scientist / Prof. Irwin Corey territory, and I’m off. Not really interested in spending a minute or three examining Time’s Handiwork. In fact I’m quite sure I have reached the age when men are more or less invisible, just a walking example of a demographic that’s past the go-getter stage but not quite settled into the fellows you see in ads for drugs, who are sitting on a boat laughing because they are no longer troubled by Chronic Inclination since they started taking Asprinzia, and ask your doctor if Asprinzia is right for you because side effects may include thin blood, thick blood, blood shooting from every pore like water through a pinhole leak in a submarine, inability to digest garbanzo beans or pronounce “superfluity.” That guy. He always seems happy with life. He also looks as if he has about 40 mil in the Caymans somewhere, which helps.
Today: Nothing but sun. Guys in the backyard trimming trees - although what they did to one bush was just brutal. On my wife’s instructions, I’m sure; she told them what she wanted. But now it looks like a hand where all the fingers have been truncated at the first joint. I like the overgrown look, but the lilac bushes were unruly. Not sure if I prefer them to look chastened.
For a while I liked the romantic ruins look where everything’s overgrown, and there’s an old classically-decorated fountain to symbolize a lost order, in case you were nostalgic for enormous formal gardens enjoyed only by kings and bureaucratic lickspittles. As it turns out, I am; there’s something forlorn, in a Keatsian way, about picturesque decay. One of my favorite spots in Rome (oh, get over yourself) is the Borghese gardens, which has enough deshabille foliage and pollution-pitted statuary to make you think you’re wandering through a place that has felt the slow pulse of deep time. There was a ruined fountain I found on the University of Iowa campus when I was in summer debate camp in high school, and it made me think of Holst’s “Venus.” Wonder if I have a picture of it.
Of curse I do. Folder 1990s > 1990s Photos > Screen grabs > Iowa City 93. The real challenge is finding something on the web about the fountain. Back in a second . . . huh. Nothing. I could have sworn I wrote about it before. Hold on . . . yes, indeed. Documents > lileks.com > bleats > archive > 08 > 111108.html. Didn’t say much, though.
At least I remember when I’m reporting myself. So I don't have Chronic Inclination. Thanks to Asprinzia!
Anyway, that's all you're getting, except for what's under the fold and a 30 page update in Fargo. Let's press on anyway.
I've no idea why I ended up here, but I'm glad I did. Otherwise the Celtic Cult that runs this remote community might never have had its rituals exposed. Why, they control the local government:
I do like the building. The ornamental details are unnecessary, but around here we pay for those things. Civic Pride.
If you look closely you can see where the other oculus use to be.
Once upon a time it was cheaper to hang these screens and pretend it was a new building. It was modern, too - at least until the 70s, when it was Natural to stick a big wood sign on the awning and ruin it for everyone.
That's a deep show window. Wonder what they sold originally. Wonder what it looked like at night, lit up, models standing in frozen poses, waiting for the lights to go off so they could move around.
The thin-window style of the 60s and 70s is one of the most insulting ideas in modern architecture.
The building hates you and doesn't care if you hate it back.
Lizabeth, I'm comin' t' join you:
Obligatory 50s ground floor remodel. Obligatory empty store.
When the facade falls off, you get details worthy of note. Or not. Or this:
They tried to do what they could with brick. They didn't have to do anything. But it made the street more interesting, and it's a sign whoever put this up cared about such things. Pride: it has its benevolent aspects.
This strip tease will take a few years.
That tantalizing peek of something.
You go away. No one wants you here.
It's a dance hall of some kind. As is, you hope, this miracle:
Liveliness of that sort is welcome and needed in Burley, where sometimes the graffiti is as repetitive as the architecture. Begun, the Clone Tool Wars have:
But there's hope. Where there's a theater downtown . . .
. . . there's hope.
As I said above, the Fargo overhaul comes to an end today, with a massive set of updates thrown together with no narrative or cohesive arrangement. Just . . . Miscellaneous. I'll add more in the future, but the long, long renovation of the site is finished. WARNING: there are two pages missing between 22 and 25. Don't worry about it.
What comes next? I think we all know the answer to that. MOTELS.
Which is also getting a complete overhaul. My work is never done. Or rather, my old design decisions are never satisfying.