A sure sign of fall: the second postcard convention of the year. I know, I know - you wish I’d prepared you for that assertion, sidled my way up to it, instead of dropping something so dramatic and thrilling like a POSTCARD CONVENTION without preamble. Sorry: that’s how we deltiologists are. No rules, man. Take life as it comes.
It was held in the old Kelly Inn, which is now a Best Western. A seven-story hotel by the State Capitol, and you’d think it would be full of storied lore. The deals made here! The late-night sessions in the rooms, hammering out a bill over bonded whiskey! It’s as dull a place as any modern small hotel, one of those hotels where you can’t imagine anyone was particularly happy to check into, and felt equally dispirited upon leaving. My life has come to this, and nothing more. Another expense account entry. Another haul on the road. Another day smelling like someone else's choice of soaps.
So did I find things? I found things. The first table I hit had motel chromes at fifty cents a pop, which is really, really good. I bought forty. That’s ten week’s worth, more or less. I’d say that’s the 2016 batch, but I have 70 cards left over from the spring show, so it’s the 2017 batch. As I say now and then: you have no idea how much stuff remains to be posted here. For example - I found a selection of 1960s / 70s airport interiors, and since they were a buck or two a throw, and there were ten good ones, I figured, well, there’s a site. Just because. And it will grow and grow until there are 30, then more, and then I’ll forget all about it, and then someone in 2018 will send an email about how the writer’s dad worked at the counter in one of the pictures.
At one table I bought something for the Cruise Ships site, the Grand Hotels site, the aforementioned airports, two restaurants, some Main Streets from various towns, and some New York pictures.
“Boy, you’re all over the road,” the lady said.
And then some. Earlier in the show I had apologized to a lady for not seeing her and offering my chair; she had said, with a hint of a growl, that “it’s not that kind of a world.” Okay. Sorry. Or not, I DON’T KNOW. A few minutes later at a different table, a woman asked if she could look at the boxes to my left, and I said sure, I’ll just move over. So I moved over one seat. Except that she had picked up a chair to go sit on my left, and there was nae for me to land upon. Right down on my can with my cards hurled as I dropped. I think I said something like “well, there wasn’t a chair after all” or something equally insightful, because you have to say something to reassure everyone you’re okay. Shake it off! Keep paging through the cards, work through the pain!
Somehow this connected to apologizing for not offering my seat, but I’m not sure how.
A detail from a card, and the reason I do these things:
The Maryland Hotel. It had a rough patch when the neighborhood declined, but for a while its club was a hot spot. More on the hotel here, if you're interested. Its main claim to notoriety seems to be the suicide of a Playboy bunny caught up in a drug sting. Quote: "Based on wiretap evidence, the feds charged that the entire Playboy empire, including Hefner's declining, but still popular chains of clubs, resorts, and hotels, was fronting for a massive illegal drug distribution operation."
And now you know this because a particular card caught my eye, and it was only a dollar.
Drove downtown to watch the crew dismantle the old office. On Saturday they do major work. When I got there, most of the facade of 5th street was gone. Quite a shock, but at this point they’re just flensing a corpse. The more it’s demolished, the less I feel. But when it’s all gone I know I will feel slightly unmoored.
While I was filming a lady of a certain age stopped to ask if I worked there once, and I said I did; I pointed out what was where, how you could see the grand light fixtures from the executive dining room where they had Prime Rib lunch at Christmastime.
“It’s a pity,” she said. “I mean, the newspaper used to be . . . everything.”
“Hey hey HEY,” I said.
“I still subscribe!” she said. “I still think it’s everything.”
Later a fellow who had all the characteristics of a fellow from the nearby homeless shelter - big backpack, long hair, layers of clothing, but impossibly white teeth - watched a big chunk fall as I was filming.
“Bet you got that,” he said. “That was a good one.” He was right. The claw had struck the side of the building and instantly loosened a wall of bricks that had stood for 60 years, and the hunk fell three floors and crashed on the rubble below. It was a good one.
Kept shooting until I noticed that all the onlookers had left, and it was just me, the three guys running the demo, and the building. No one else is shooting its demise, as far as I can tell. Some people walk past and take a picture, but I think I’m the only one observing the funeral rites.
In the evening we went downtown to eat on a rooftop - have family from out of town staying at Jasperwood, Is there such a thing as a niece-in-law? That sounds as if you’re trying to measure some distance. Brother-in-law is a meaningful distinction, but when it comes to nieces and nephews the “in-law” part doesn’t seem right. Anyway: the roof in the city.
Afterwards there followed a long, long discussion about where to go for dessert. In the old days such things were simple. You went to Perkins. Perkins had coffee and pie. But now that’s frowned upon, because, well, it’s Perkins. Bright and ordinary. We want some place that has tiramsu drizzled with something, or something that’s drizzled with tiramisu. Daughter suggested we go to the Uptown Diner, so okay -
Hold on. Daughter suggested Uptown Diner. How did this come about? UPTOWN? That’s my old turf. But ha ha old dude, new troops, every generation occupies anew doncha know. Daughter has a friend who works there. That’s enough. So that’s where we go, two cars, we get there first. Nine o’clock, mostly empty. We order coffee and check the menu.
There’s no pie.
I look at Daughter: this is all on you.
They have cornbread! We could have cornbread. But she knew it was fruitless.
So it’s not her turf. Not yet.
I'm not going to linger long on this one, because what it lacks in humor it makes up for in brevity.
It's the type of movie you remember seeing as a little kid, and you recall how funny it was, how it had a certain magic. You watch it as an adult, and you shrug: meh. I never saw it as a kid, so I have no memories to traduce. I was interested in the inadvertent documentary, of course:
Our hero is the fellow on the bike on the left. Tom Poston, an absent-minded professor, finds an ancient amulet, has the power to make anything happen by saying ZOTZ and pointing at it. Hijinks ensue. Since it's the Fifties, of course he's in analysis:
The actor is one of those fellows you forgot all about. James Millhollin. Wikipedia: known for his portrayal of nervous, excited, and befuddled men with pop eyes and peculiar mannerisms, usually occupying such positions as hotel clerks, government bureaucrats, military officers, or other middle-management authority figures."
Speaking of which: another guy you forgot all about.
Fred Clark. Says imdb: "This popular, baggy-eyed, bald-domed, big lug of a character actor had few peers when called upon to display that special 'slow burn' style of comedy few others perfected. But perfect he did -- on stage, film and TV. In fact, he pretty much cornered the market during the 50s and 60s as the dour, ill-tempered guy you loved to hate."
As long as we're on the parade of actors who were in things for a while and then they weren't:
Mike Mazurski. Imdb: "Nearly always portrayed as a lowbrow muscle, in real life Mazurski was highly intelligent, very well read and a witty conversationalist." In this one he played a Russian, one of those intense, blunt Commies.
There's a shot of Times Square, pre-Pepsi. By which I mean the Nude Bond People have not been converted into sparkling bottles.
It's stock footage, of course; a movie like this would never send the second unit to get fresh material. The only reason it appears is to provide a background for a fake paper at the end.
So why bring up something so unremarkable? It's the way it starts.
I don't think that happened before, or perhaps since, and for William Castle to be the guy who did it - well, it's like Larry Flynt buying a Rembrandt.