As I always tell my daughter, if you don’t know what you’re going to write about, just start writing. Something will happen if your fingers are moving. It’s like walking: you’ll go somewhere, although the destination might not be obvious at first. Just one foot in front of the other - and in my case, where I am now, that would mean I’d end up in the river. If I headed east.
I usually do, when I take a stroll downtown; to the west there’s little except for one big blue blunt skyscraper they built on the edge of the core in the hopes that others would follow. As far as I know it’s fully leased but its skyways always seem a bit forlorn, like a party thrown by someone on the same night as a more popular person in the social circle. It doesn’t help that the building is connected by the longest skyways in town, and require novices to carry a sack of rice with a small slit on the bottom to leave a trail should someone want to find them. Oldest trick in the book, you say - wasn’t it used in “The Lady in the Lake”? It was. I think. And it didn’t work.
Wasn’t it used in an episode of “Hopalong Cassidy” I heard on the radio while waiting for daughter the previous night? It was, and it led Hoppy to the place where Pecos Pete had taken two people to kill them so he could have their share of the Mine. It’s always a mine in the Old West. Hoppy dropped Pete from a distance with a high-powered rifle, and the hostages were relieved, as you might expect. None the worse for wear, even though they’d just seen a guy’s head explode. Hoppy’s sidekick, by the way, was named “California,” and I’ll bet it had to do with being from California. His full name was California Carson, but naturally people went with the longer, vague name.
Speaking of Raymond Chandler: I dreamed the other night that I walked into a bad motel at night - the pool lit up a gaudy blue, palm trees spotlit from beneath, a man in the shadows with an axe he sheathed as I approached. The next thing I knew I was in a motel room emptying my revolver into Moose Malloy, who had crashed through the wall and was trying to claw through the bricks to escape. I said he should have tried tunneling down. As he died he handed me a picture of himself handing a check for a million dollars to my favorite charity, and I suppose I thought I should feel bad, but I really didn’t. At this point I was no longer the main character, but observing a movie, since I saw three old ladies dressed in the garb of the batty spinster who carried Tweety Bird around; they were cowering in the next room while the shooting went on. The shooter, upon leaving the motel room, turned into one of those plastic ants you could buy as a kid - Cooties, that’s what they were called. He continued to morph into various cartoon and children’s TV show characters until he attained the form of a vending machine with a sign in Yellow and Red:
YOUNG EGG YOUNG, it said. A hole appeared on the side and out popped Yosemite Sam and THAT’S when the alarm went off. It was not a happy dream at all. I was struck by the use of the Cootie, though; in the dream I understood this as a symbol of evil masquerading as something that had innocent childhood connotations, and in the dream I had thought this was just sub-Tim-Burton stuff. Thinking later about the Cooties I remembered that the legs always fell out, eventually, and probably got lost. Not a Mom in the 60s would didn’t find a plastic insect limb under the sofa at some point.
Speaking of parenthood: Had parent-teacher conferences at daughter’s school today. It was heartening, except for that One Teacher about whom you hear pained tales, and finally meet, and think: behold, the immovable object. Could God make a teacher so bad He could not move him?
Got home; daughter, on break, was making lunch. She pointed with pride to her laptop, open to her novel. “I’m writing again,” she said. And I’d forgotten about that when I began this entry. Wonder if she took my advice.
So there’s where I ended up after starting to type. Maybe I’ll go take a walk now.
Let us begin again with the seasonal benchmark: the view outside the door. Almost peak fall. Almost.
And that must mean, of course, this:
I took that picture at Home Depot.
Two weeks ago.
These, the family said, are delicious:
It's the only thing anyone's asked me to get again.
They've been sold out for two weeks.
But pumpkin-spice coffee filters, they're stacked to the rafters.
God Bless America and the WPA.
As I always say when we encounter one of these buidlings, it's as modern today as the afternoon they cut the ribbon. A complete break from the past, except for its classical proportions.
So: will Moberly have more of this, or less?
I think you know the answer to that.
They carved out a lot of floor space for those windows, and divorced the bottom of the building from the top. But I'm glad they did.
From their website: "The current store was opened by the Forney Clothing Company in 1890, then was purchased by the Reid and Duval families in 1928. The third generation of Reids are now caring on the proud tradition of fine men’s clothing at this historic store.
Entering the store is an one-of-a-kind experience; the antique counters, the hardwood shelves, and the brass hooks whisper stories of a regal past."
If you told your doctor about hearing brass hooks whisper, he would try to figure out which expression best masked his concern.
THESE ARE THE NEW TIMES. CONFORM, COMRADE FACADE, CONFORM TO THE NEW WAYS
I wonder what's under there. I'm in no haste to find out; every small downtown needs a metal facade from the post-war era. And inevitably, they fall. All it takes is one absent panel to make the whole building look like it's on the way down.
This looks like a skull with the lower mandible removed:
Authoritative bay windows, ruined by someone who either had no taste or did the job with bitter sadness.
They really do excell in bollixing up the lower floors of Moberly, don't they:
It's like a big wide rogue bulldozer plowed down the street and cleared away everything below the second floor. Look up at hte corner "tower," by the way: someone painted it turquoise. And was pretty darn proud of the choice, I'll bet.
This one escaped the blade's shave.
Why a driveway? Doesn't look like a garage or a dealership; why would they need a bay? Take a closer look, and you'll figure it out.
The light shines, but there's nothing to see.
However much they paint, the bricks assert themselves. The bricks cannot bear to be parted from the sun!
Or, they just don't prime them right. No, it's the first! They yearn for the sun's warmth, reminding them of the hot birth of the kiln!
I say, my good man, where can a fellow get some fennel around here?
Looks like a movie marquee of some kind. No, that's stupid. It is a marquee, and not of some kind. It's a marquee.
The rest of the building:
The window shutters could be controlled by motorized switches, so they could send Morse lamp signals to other buildings.
Oh, the Sixties.
I can think of one excuse for this building, and it's this: they make barcodes.
Have I missed anything? Yes. I've saved the best for next week. It's a good town that takes two bites to grasp.
That'll do, pig. A few motels - I'm shorting the rations as the 2015 batch comes to a close, but it'll be starting up in March again. See you around!