Has anyone mentioned that this guy looks like Paul Frees? If it is, then it really wraps this installment up in a neat little package.
No Diner. Here's the thing: I was going to do one, but I couldn't find the microphone cord. The long USB with the little crimpy end. Its location is now an utter mystery. Why? Did I take it out of the room, wrapping it around my knuckles like barbed wire because I was about to fight a bully twice my size? This I doubt. The cord evaporated, its atoms suddenly unable to maintain cohesion, everything spinning out of its tight whirring orbits into a mist the eye apprehended for half a second, if that?
I think that's the likely explanation.
Surely you have more cords like that one, you say. Yes, but they're all short. I need at least four feet. And so that was that. I'd been walking around for a few days thinking about what the next few Diners would be, if they were indeed to be the last ones, and I had an idea. Now I had all the brushes and paints but no canvas.
It wasn't exactly a relief, just an anti-climax. Which turned into a relief. Let me explain:
I'm digitizing the old "Crime Story" DVDs so I can sell them. Also watching them, just for the heck of it; a great show, much better than 90% of "Miami Vice," and the mid-century look was ahead of its time. I wonder if anyone's done a website about the locations; when it was shot, the mid-60s were only 20 years away, even though they seemed at the time like a foreign era, what with the thin-brimmed hats and honking Deeetroit iron and beehives and heels. I'd bet that half of the locations and signs and interiors are gone. They weren't still around at the time of the shooting because they were landmarks; they were just old places, and no one would start to argue for their preservation until most were gone.
As it turns out, the DVDs have degraded, and half the episodes are unplayable. I'm sure there's a means to clean them, even though there's no scratches. What's the secret recipe? Windex and steam from a pot of rice? Draw a pentagram with a Red Sharpie? (Which sounds like the name of a Crime Story character, really.) But if I coaxed them back to life, would I ever watch them again? I checked out the opening of the pilot, which is pretty good for TV of the era. Ray Luca is a great mobster. Andrew Dice Clay - yes, I know - is very good. I'd missed Shotgun Walter. I remember the plotline with the lawyer, how good the show could be. But I've seen it. Twice. Once when it ran, and was marvelous, and once when I revisited it with knowledge of how it all turned out, which was a different experience.
If you have it, though, you might see it again. Wouldn't you want to be able to see it again?
But. The availability of so much old stuff feels like an obligation that turns into an aversion that turns into guilt: I never did watch that 40-DVD documentary set about 12-century England, did I. Well, I'll rip them and watch them on the train. Hold on, I don't take the train. Well, I'll watch them at some point. Maybe I'll live by the train some day. So the DVD sits on the shelf and your entire collection just glares at you: hey, what was the point? Buddy? Hello?
Not to say this is a great burden and it was better before. It was just different: when I was growing up, a show went away and it never came back. You might catch a summer rerun, a concept that seems to have fled. Yes, children, in the summer time you had only TV that had been on before, with the exception of short-run summer variety shows predicated on America's newfound appreciation of the Hudson Brothers! Seriously, it's all crap, go out and play. When something ended it was permanent. You would NEVER SEE IT AGAIN. When a Disney movie came to town - first the small coming-soon ads, then bigger ones, then huge NOW PLAYING ads, then diminished ads that gave way to a single line of type (LAST DAY) - you had to see it, because it would go away and NEVER COME AGAIN. (Or so we thought.) Today kids know it'll be out on disk in six months with bonus features. Nothing ever goes away, you assume - until you find a disk is defective, and there are no plans for a Blu-Ray reissue, and Netflix doesn't have it and while you could probably find a torrent you do don't that.
It's like the Sopranos. I realized one day I would never watch them again. Sold the lot. Also realized I'll probably never go to Disneyworld again either. I'll never assume my child will be home on weekends. There are a lot of those realizations lately, and they accumulate and weigh on you. It's not that the doors behind me are locking, but they stick in the frame and the knobs turn without unlatching. Best to walk away before you know they're locked for good.
Which is to say I'll walk back to the Diner when I get the right cord. If only so I can walk away. This is hard for a professional nostalgist to say, but I really need something new.
For the construction update, a new perspective. They're everywhere if you bother to look.
I was on the second floor of the Haaf Parking Ramp, named for a cop ambushed and shot almost 25 years ago. I always think of that when I pass the ramp, which is the point of a memorial. What I like about this view is that it didn't exist two years ago. A year ago. If you want to be technical, every view of every moment is new, but a wholesale reinvention of an area this large is unique. In a year there will be people living here. No one has ever lived up in that space created on the left, ever. It is a space where no one ever slept or ate in the history of Mankind.
As I passed behind the site today, I saw excavation for another project. There's a small boooo-tik hotel going up. Oh, and a developer announced a 50-story structure to rise on the site of an ugly brick mushroom vacated by a bank. Holding my breath on its design, but it won't be taller than IDS. By gentlemen's agreement, it seems, nothing is.
Like every other actress of the early days of film, she was the Most Popular for six or seven weeks, during which she made 84 films. Or so the bios always seem to read. And then, because fame is eternal and beauty unchanging, the usual end:
Under contract to Paramount Pictures, Carroll often balked at roles being offered to her and earned a reputation as a recalcitrant and uncooperative actress. In spite of her ability to successfully tackle light comedies, tearful melodramas, and even musicals, and as well as garnering considerable praise by the critics and public (she received the most fan mail of any star in the early 1930s), she was released by the studio. In the mid-1930s under a four-film contract with Columbia Pictures, she made four rather insignificant films and was no longer an A-list actress.
Insignificant? Really? Sixteen seconds of credits:
She's got top billing over - well, you know.
Something different for Halloween.
The eerie "Quiet Please" episode, "The Thing on the Fourble Floor."
It's the best horror story ever done on radio. I say that with reservations, since some people may find it distinctly unhorrible. Where's the blood-curdling screams? The murders? The flesh-ripping monsters? There were many shows like that, and they all date quite poorly. They're not scary.
Example. One of my favorite introductions for a lousy show: the Weird Circle. I think we're supposed to think of some wizened crypt-keeper, but the guy sounds like a bumpkin dullard. The short introduction:
It's meant to draw the listener into a fantasy: you belong to a strange society that meets in this place to hear the ancient tales. This was appealing for the same reason 15 year olds send away to Rosicrutians for membership information.
Finally, our ad of the week: a promo for the 1968 horror movie, Green Slime.
Open the door, you'll find the secret!
How did I not know this movie existed? Okay, this is Listen, devoted to audio-only culture, but this demands a clip.
Well, of course:
I was unaware of the Haunted Mansion until they made a movie about it. Really. Then I encountered the fury of the fans who couldn't stand to see it ruined, and I thought: it's a ride. What's the big deal?
Never knew about it growing up; never heard the record; never made a blip on my cultural radar. I suppose that made my eventual trip all the better - one of the strangest moments of one my strangest years. A few clips here before D!sney finds out and sends me a take-down notice.
It's grrrrrrreat! You know why I say that? You're rolling your eyes? Well, you're a mean one, Mr. Reader.
They could be singing about puppies and rainbows and spring flowers, and it would be creepy. Why? Because repetition of certain musical tonalites has wedded the sounds irrevocably to the spooky scary genre. There's nothing inherently scary about it. Even if nothing else was ever made in this genre, and music like this was never played again, it would take two generations to erase the connotations from the popular imagination.
That'll do it - see you in the usual places!
Did I forget to explain the second sentence of the Bleat? I'll leave that to you.