No, the bathroom isn't finished. Hell no. It was stalled for two - three? weeks because of a plumbing nightmare, and once they figured out what might work they had to wait two weeks for the plumber to find time. Today they showed up as I was leaving for work - I went in early because I didn't want to hear them tear my beloved house apart.
I'm driving home from the office and the phone rings; it's the contractor. Good news, I hope. Punch speaker button.
"James . . . do you have the dog?"
Er. No. I do not have the dog.
The dog is gone. At some point he got out and we don't know when. He could be miles away. Contractor is, as you can imagine, mortified - but one of his guys finds Scout a few blocks away, and here comes the dog, grinning, eyes bright: that was fun.
I tell you, it shaves a week off my life every time this happens.
Okay, here's the deal with the Patreon site and the Bleat. I don't fundraise often, but now and then I get this feeling that I am . . . what's the word, an idiot. Yeah, that's the word. I give away too much stuff. This isn't the place for the big boo-hoo about how much work it is - it's a hobby, I like making websites, I like sharing the stuff I find. But it's May and I was actually getting nervous about what I would roll out in 2017. Oh, I have all the matchbooks done. I have enough Main Streets and motel postcards. I have three department store catalogs still unscanned. If I pull the trigger on the 1950s site I have 52 weeks of material.
But I don't have enough exterior restaurant postcards. Yet.
I do. Like this a job, or a duty. But it is! But that's nuts.
I'll be honest: this week was fun, because I wrote nearly everything above the fold over the weekend; everything below the fold was done three weeks ago; all the updates were done months ago. It was like a week without worry, and it was wonderful. Of course, my lesson is "write tons on Friday and Saturday night," but I know that'll become Normal and I'll start to get twitchy if I don't have big chunks in place by Monday.
It's all my fault. No one asked for it and no one's demanding it.
The Bleat will never go away, ever; that's my promise. Lileks.com will always be updated. But if I'm going to put this much effort into the project, I don't think it's unreasonable to think I should get something back. So the Patreon site, or the usual contributions site.
What do you get? More of the same, which is lots. The Bleat and Lileks.com will continue in its current form for the rest of the year, simply because I've already written and designed all the sites to come. Next year would be different, and maybe that's as it should be: maybe the 20th anniversary of the site is a time to just let it stand with a few tweaks and quality updates, and find something else to do for a while.
And if no one wants to contribute? I understand. No hard feelings.
Recall the video a few weeks ago re: the destruction of OKC? Here's one that spells it out on a broader scale. Smash we must for a new car-friendly featureless metropolis.
The point of the video is how cities have to move beyond the old narrow lots, and build broad, modern, and car-oriented. There's a shot of New York that's interesting for two reasons: one, how dirty the stone of Rockefeller Center had gotten, and two . . .
"Better Building. Same SAGER'S." It's going into the new modernist addition to Rockefeller Center. So it was in the old location - photo here, and by all means note the pulsing object in the thumbnails; how about that - and would now be reborn. (EBay listing of a postcard of the interior here.)
Anyway. The narrator lays out the problem faced by modern cities: small lot sites, built around the old standards, horse-drawn transportation. The film has a paen to the suburbs, where cars and roads have made new wonders possible. Like this!
O joy. Believe it or not, that's a Vegas casino - the Riveria.
The narrator sings the hymns of early shopping centers, which offer free parking close to the stores in landscaped environments. They are attractive, especially compared to the state of downtowns, and they're much easier to get to. This would have seemed nicer than sad old downtowns:
Cool and new and convenient. Why would anyone drive all the way downtown?
But just like the people who insist on throttling the suburbs on behalf of the cities, the urban renewal people had their own blind faith in what's good for you:
Only by destroying the narrow-lot buildings and repurposing the land could cities compete with the suburbs. Yes, that's right: remove the distinguishing characteristics of a town, because they're out of fashion (the narrator tut-tuts over "architectural obsolescence") and no one will ever want this style of living again.
They sound like Soviets:
"Our progress is certain to be steady as we clear away the structures that block progress." Actual quote. Behold the glories that arise from certain progress:
As ramps go, it's not bad, but it's like a soulless-robot version of Sullivan's Marshall Fields store.
Elsewhere, hotels are adapting by building motels to make drivers happy.. Like San Diego's El Cortez:
It's still a motel, but it's boring and nowhere near as interesting as the real El Cortez. (I include it just because it's an old motel sign, and I am obligated to memorialize it.)
To be fair, there was great rot near the urban core:
But you could sandblast these facades and save some charm. Or at least take a cue from it. Look at the new Progress-Oriented Apartment building we're supposed to admire:
Then it's off to Columbus Indiana. This street is okay, they admit . . .
. . . but it's "horse and buggy." So:
It's the least impressive thing on the street these days. Google Street View:
Here's an example of the new trend: apartments and offices in one proud modern tower:
That's the Price tower by Frank Wright, in Bartlesville OK. The narrator describes how buildings like this will "stimulate future development."
Finally, we see some old pile that's grimy and lost, and we're supposed to cheer the way it's cleared for progress:
Brought to you by . . .
Hats off. Hope your survivors bought a wood-grained plastic casket.
Here's the whole thing.
Back to music cues for "The Little Things in Life," Peg Lynch's last continuously running sitcom. The cues run from substandard 60s cues to cringingly 70s.
In case the script has to mourn a Klezmer musician.
This next one would also make good incidental music for an instant coffee commercial in 1966.
Swingin', but not unruly.
This one, I swear, comes from the same collection as the ones used in the Monty Python skits.
Same orchestration and arrangement.
From Minneapolis radio in the late seventies, a restaurant ad:
I don't know where I got this, but it's been in the radio > local > ads folder for a long time awaiting additional research on Froggies. Which I haven't done. I remember where it was, in Uptown - and I believe it inhabited a building that had been built for another restaurant. It had a 60s vibe that Froggies didn't share.
This week's Bob & Ray sketch takes on, again, the grinding banality of . . .
Dean A. Archer
He really needs those dentures tightened up.
Many stories of glory, war, and valor have been told by one of these people. Guess who.
The actual story lasted a bit longer, but that's the gist of the pith.