You will have to forgive me - you will, you know; there's just no choice here, and I am handing this down from on high, hoping that sugarcoating the facts by wrapping them in a sugared request will soften the impact of the obvious arrogance - this will have to be light, because I MCd a concert tonight and have to write a column.

WHY DIDN'T YOU WRITE ANYTHING IN THE AFTERNOON you may ask. I was working. But I wrote something the other day and tucked it away for an emergency. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CLOSET, you ask.

There I can help you: it is done.


You may note, and I'm sure some will, that vertical braces on the right-side shelf seem a bit off-center. There's a reason for this: I wanted the second vertical from the left to be right under the support for the clothes rack, since that's where most of the weight will be. The shelves support boxes that hold gift-wrapping material, like bows, and they're light-weight. As for the durability of the structure, I anchored that SOB with six deep screws, two of which were drywall clips. Two of the others go right into studs. So it shouldn't fall down for at least three years.

Also, the lower bar is just for some lightweight tops. Also, I can redo it if i have to. Also, I didn't really notice until I'd finished attaching the verticals and installed the shelves, and had to come up with a justification, like theone you just read.


This is not about music you don't care about. Not one of those dreaded YouTube Bleats; don't worry.

I used the word "egghead" in a piece recently, and thought again of "Random Brainwave," a tune by Godley and Creme. The Giant Swede had heard "Freeze Frame," and liked the dark title track (I can recite it from memory: Going up like an air bubble caught in a vein / Going down like a thermos flask thrown from a train) and also a line in "Brainwave" - eggheads in a huddle. I bought the album and was somewhat alarmed by it and captivated as well - brilliant production, gorgeous singing, sounds the likes of which you'd never heard before. "L," its predecessor, was even more difficult; like "Freeze Frame" it matched heartfelt singing with production that made it all seem tremendously precious and so damned smart. And empty. But it wasn't.

Anyway. I was listening to "Brainwave" when I picked daughter up from the coffee shop after running evening errands, and she pressed "I Pity Inanminate Objects" on the iPhone playlist. Starts out with this beautiful repeating acoustic guitar pattern, intimate and insinuating, and then introduces this shrieking hell-hawk of a guitar that leads right to electronically manipulated vocals - quite novel for 1979.

OH GOD NO! she said and changed the tune. THAT'S HORRIBLE.

Yes, but it's fascinating. The song she chose was "Art School Canteen," a languorous account of being pretentious in college. This she enjoyed.

Why do I mention it? Two reasons. One of the lines in "Freeze Frame," a song that makes no particular sense:

I find myself a child again
Asleep in Baby Lotion
The air was thick
With Scalextric
And the cars were in slow motion

Scalextric was an unnerving word, and I looked it up a long time ago. A brand of British model cars that ran on tracks. How could the air be thick with it? The smell of the motors?

The other was a line in "Mugshots," a jokey song that tells a story of young lovers on the run from the law; it's got a great hook and a cheerful spare sound, but - well, again, acquired taste. It was the line "give me a hint of style, give me that kray profile."


Remember, there's no Wikipedia. What do you do?

You wait for the internet to be invented. Or you wait for a magazine article or a movie or something to explain, and you'd better be alert to put it together. Eventually I did, and it was a lightbulb moment. Mugshots. That Kray profile. Of course.

I wonder if lyrics today have similar bits of new info - and whether anyone spends more than a minute in ignorance before getting the answer. To be ignorant of something's meaning isn't really ignorance, because at least you know what you don't know, and you're eager for the answer.

Anyway, they're brilliant albums, and when Daughter asked why I had them on my phone now I said I hadn't thought about them in a long time, and one day I wanted to hear it again, and found them in the cold-storage archives. I would take them out in a bit, save one or two, and maybe hear them again in few years again.

PS: I remember when ISMISM came out, and I was so happy to be one of the smart few who knew what it meant to hear a new Godley & Creme album, and how disappointed I was with the first song. Really? Cheeseburgers? Snack Attack? SERIOUSLY, an eight-minute talking song about a Los Angeles party with one riff and no variation? I am listening to it now, and it's cruel and hilarious - but the moment an artistic ensemble starts complaining about the shallow milieu of fame, it's time to step aside for a while.

Of course, they would come back with "Cry," which is just a beautiful song. Whether they meant it be taken as a beautiful song, and not some subversive reassessment of something or other, I don't know, and I couldn't care less.

Oh do they now.

Bessie was a pioneering female journalist, and like many in her cohort was on the good side of some important issues, and like many did a stint as a Bolshie shill:

Beatty accompanied fellow journalists Rheta Childe Dorr, Albert Rhys Williams, Louise Bryant and John Reed on a trip to Russia in 1917. There she interviewed Leon Trotsky, and members of the Women's Battalion, whose courage and strength impressed her. Her book about that trip, The Red Heart of Russia, was published in 1918. "I had been alive at a great moment, and knew it was great," she wrote of her time in Russia.

Poor Leon.





Is there any other city whose name sums up Midwesternness? Not Peoria; not Dubuque. Fargo is up there, somewhere, but Wichita, in the public imagination, is in the middle of everything. It's bigger than most of the cities this feature examines, but I was struck by some of the modern buildings. For good and for ill.

This has a certain appeal. It shouldn't, but from this view, it's a fine post-war product, imaginatively hued.


When would you say this one was built? Right: 1920. You can't tell from here, but the first seven floors have sunken windows, and the top five floors don't. That's because the bank was originally an nondescript but solid commercial structure from the early part of the century given a modern makeover - new floors and aluminum siding.

This stolid hunk of corporate modernism, Kansas style, replaced a hotel of the same overall shape - and that building was as boring a version of the era's prevailing style as this one.


Year: 1966. A dangerous year to build tall - fads were getting broad and banal, or just foolish. This one opted for dull.

Speaking of faddish, foolish styles: let's have a Moorish revival!



No idea what purpose it could have seved; seems a bit much for a restaurant.


The inevitable end of modernism on the cheap:



Decorative rocks! A concrete screen! Dark threatening recesses. A city - on the grow!

I've a fondness for the colored-panel school of inexpensive modernism. The hue of the marble completes the style. Very corporate:



The style gets no love, and perhaps it oughtn't, but some like would be overdue.

This is not how downtowns ought to turn out, but that's how it happens. Again, name the date the building was erected:



Correct! 1919.



The Staley building. White stone on the base, red brick all the way up, an elaborate cornice at the top. Mauled in 1982.

There's lots of old architecture in Wichita, and I don't mean to suggest it's all like this.



I'm just selecting the modern buildings.The thin slitty window phase may have summed up a certain skinny-tie Mad-Men ethos, but it made buildings look like jails inspired by computer punch cards.

Oh, there are trees? It must be a vital, bustling place.



The building style reminds me of an old Woolworth's in St. Paul, but the style was rather common. The sign would tell us what it was, but it's had its tongue removed.

Abandoned signage:




And yet no one's stolen all the bulbs.

One final note - an old building whose rehab is older than the building was when they redid the facade.


Cities were better when such signs were common. Cities are lesser for their absence.


Not bad for a light day, eh? More on that subject tomorrow. See you around.

Restaurants! They end today. Motels start next week; huzzah.


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