I have to write something up here that wraps around the "go to comments" button, so this is that. Can't just put up a picture in the first two lines, because it throws everything off. I could say something about Building Culture, a subject I brought up a few weeks ago - how office buildings are devising brand identities to make you feel like you're part of a larger community than the one in your office. You can cue the usual wailing about herds of corporate drones shuffling around in their empty lives, basted with false joy to paper over the inequities that separate them from their overlords, but A) drones do not herd, B): drones do not shuffle, C) you cannot use basting juices to paper over something, and D) lighten up, Francis: what's the harm?
As I may have mentioned, the 333 Building seems to be my building's main rival. The Capella Tower (which incorporates the StarTribune building) has a nice fireplace, conversation pits, a coffeeshop that serves really, really good coffee at preposterous prices, probably because each bean is hand-delivered on donkeys to avoid any excess carbon impact (the place is named Peace Coffee, which tells you you're going to be in for it good and hard) and a Farmers' Market in the main atrium. The upgrades were nice, but couldn't overcome the chilly deficiencies of the atrium. They just plugged in a big tree, but it's still a remote and sterile place.
I don't mind; this is just so much better. So much. But 333 has a big lawn, a symbol of the Crash of 1987. The second tower wasn't built, and there are no plans to fill in the space, so 333 markets itself as the Turf Club, and hangs banners in the skyway warning you that leaving 333 is like going turning your back on nature and heading back into the artificial world. Not the best message in winter, but they're trying. Anyway, they just put up reindeer on the lawn, and I like them.
Next in Building Culture: why their lobby says "small" without "intimate," and why our public spaces are better.
Something I didn't have time to mention the other day, because I was under the hammer - no, under the gun. No, not really; neither hammers or guns were involved. Just didn't have time to write much, since I was out to the theater and got home a bit before ten, and evening writing usually requires an hour or so of sitting before the screen moving things around or resizing scans to clear my mind. Also, it didn't occur to me.
The Nabe. The theater is the Heights, an old theater in the upper reaches of Minneapolis. Columbia Heights, really. On the romantically-named Central Avenue in Northeast, a part of town I don't get up to visit much. Always been a southsider. Lived for many years in a neighborhood on the border, but just crossing from SE to NE was like entering a different world. Because it was a different world. More old bars and commercial areas that had nothing to do with the University population. People up here worked for a living. My friends who grew up in NE regarded SE as part of a seamless world, but not me. How these boundaries form, and how they're reinforced, and what preconceptions we come to accept as truths - fine topics for an essay that uses big gassy words to describe the obvious. Anyway:
It's a charming little theater, lovingly restored. It has a small lobby with a ticket cage and a concession stand where they will, for a fee, concede any assertion you make, and then you walk into the comforting darkness to find your seat. It's the opposite of the modern multiplex, with theaters lined along a broad hall, and a concession area that could serve a football stadium. It's single-minded. It's local - a term that has high holy meaning these days when applied to produce or roasted coffee beans. Sustainable! Local isn't good or bad; it's just a fact. No one, for example, wants locally produced computers. But a neighborhood theater has a quality no multiplex can match. Everyone here is your neighbor. That doesn't mean anything, but it makes it comfy. These are people who share the quotidian details you experience, whose minds have routines and expectations and habits of the most ordinary sort - how long that traffic light lasts, whether you turn right or left when you enter the grocery store to get to the milk, what the Christmas decorations look like when the businessmen hang the streetlights. All the details that cohere to make a place. Everyone in this room shares the same references and expectations and gripes in the most general sense for a most specific place.
That's all. But it's not a small thing. Now we drive to the suburbs to see movies, and I don't mind; that theater is Mine, the place where I've seen just everything. It's daughter's theater as well, the place where she saw her first movie. (Or slept through it: we took her to a matinee when she was a newborn.) But going to a movie is always a production, which is why I don't see many. It's not the same as strolling down the block, going into the lobby - warm in the winter, smelling of butter - and sitting down to see a story. I had that once, in Dinkytown, with the Varsity.
There's just something about walking to see a movie. Then walking home when it's done.
As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. Of course we begin with the Couple Next Door, with its cheerful soundtrack of the mid-century domestic scene. Actual bits of script are left in now and then for surreal effect.
CND Cue #600 The Chord of Domestic Ease with a surprising dose of wah-wah.
Hold on. Didn't we just hear that?
CND Cue #595 But it's different.
The ad of the week, from a series of Casite commercials. They bought TWO MINUTES.
We really don't have a chance, do we? It's time. Let's admit it.
They started in 1955, and Wikiedia says "they continue to tour." Impressive.
Didn't make it past the first line, did you? Too soon.