Back on the radio today. You can hear the fun here. I like going to the studio putting on the headphones, hitting the mike button (don’t worry, Mr. Producer, I’m a seasoned pro!) and just enjoying the atomosphere of an actual talk radio studio. Last week I found some news stories on YouTube about KSTP AM-1500 from the late 80s, right before I got there, and it brought back all the stored memories of the booth and the boards. That machine, yes! I remember that! Those crappy yellow-foam headphones, I remember those!

Most people don’t have documentaries about their workplace from 30 years past.

But that’s another Bleat. Oh, did I say something yesterday was going to be a Bleat topic today? Did I do that to myself last night? Checking . . . whew. No.

Anyway. Midafternoon bleh; had to resort to a rare cup of post-noon coffee from the office kitchen. Also made a new batch, since that’s good citizenship. We have two enormous urns in the kitchen area upstairs, and it’s free. Free! Newsroom coffee used to cost money at the old place; it was one of those Coffee Club arrangements whereby you paid a certain amount each month. Honor system, which is another term for “came up short all the time.” Upstairs in the cafeteria there was tepid old coffee from industrial urns - Starbucks, whoo hoo, aren’t we upscale. But before that there was Wall Coffee. Two spigots. The coffee came out of the wall, which seemed like such a newspaper thing to have.

While waiting for the new batch of beans to grind I had a conversation with a co-worker about communal kitchens and the strange way people behave. There were two bowls soaking on the counter, which you could understand if someone had used them to bake ziti to the consistency of Chernobyl slag, but this seemed more like “I haven’t the time to rinse them, so I’ll fill them with water and let it soak for six hours because then everything else will magically float away.” There was a pea floating in one of the bowls. Somehow a pea floating in someone else’s dish is disgusting. A pea on the floor is just a pea; a pea in the sink is annoying. But a pea in a dish on the counter is so presumptuous.

By the way, the urn coffee is good. It’s an institutional roast, granted. It seems like a throwback to the coffee of a previous era, before tastes supposedly improved and Starbucks taught us what real coffee should taste like. (Burnt, winey, with notes of burlap and graphite)

Anyway. Read a piece about this statue: the little girl who faces down the Wall Street Bull. How brave the little girl is, how impressive it is that she doesn’t move even though it’s snowing. Here are a few things:

1. If your daughter stood in front of a bull like this you would probably want to pick her up and go someplace safe. It is not a good idea to hang around large, powerful creatures with pointy horns.

2. While the little girl may indeed be Fearless, it is bravery born in ignorance - unless this is a children's story in which the bull is just in a bad mood and she talks some sassy wisdom that makes him realize he should be in a better mood, and abandons the typical manifestations of bullhood.

3. The only reason the little girl is not tossed up into the air like a lifeless doll is because the bull declines to do so. The only reason she can be theatrically defiant is because the bull has decided not to exercise his power. It’s a peculiar message.

It reminds me of the FTC statuary in DC, Man Controlling Trade.

The two statues, although similar, are not identical. In "the Pennsylvania Avenue version, the horse has a sinister look. It appears to be biting the man, and the man’s weak positioning suggests that he will fail to bridle the menace. In the other, on Constitution Avenue, the man appears sinister, and he has a more powerful hold upon a more elegant and sympathetic animal. Perhaps Lantz’s statuary captures our ambivalence about the regulation of trade.”

You might wonder: Lantz? Yes: Michael Lantz was Walter Lantz’ brother. The animator, of course, of Jerry on the Job. And some woodpecker. He closed his studio in ’72 because the economics were so bad; DePatie-Freleng was one of the few shops left making stuff, and it’s painfully cheap. Oh, I watched everything they did when I was young, but even a small kid can tell the difference between a 40s cartoon and a 70s cartoon - it’s not just the style or the music, it’s the generosity of the 40s and the cheap, bare quality of the 70s. Animated shorts, we were told, were done - and when you realized what it had become, you didn't really care, because none of it was really very good. I mean, the Ant and the Aardvark. Basically Jackie Mason yelling at Dean Martin. In a jungle. With ragime music.

And now there’s more than ever, and computer animation is an art form we didn’t know would even exist, and couldn't imagine would be as incredible as it's become in a few short years. There's more of all the good stuff now, but no one seems that much happier. If anything we get annoyed at how there's just no time to experience all the good stuff. What, we're going to get immersive 4K Virtual Reality now?

Great. And when am I going to have time for that?



Side view: could be anyone. Front on: Johnny Killer:

Wanted for knocking over a bank.

Note the last detail: "Pharmacist." You might be thinking that a man with a trade's more likely to go straight after he gets out of jail, right? Well, Harry's rap sheet is 95 MB in PDF. Looks like his criminal career officially began with a KC torch job.

I don't know why he has a website; looks like he was part of a noted gang. Sprung eventually; died in 1960.




We divert from the parade of small- and medium-sized downtowns painful and vacant, or heartening and vibrant, and wander down the streets of Chicago. Or rather one street: Grand Avenue.

Grand Avenue was originally known as Whiskey Point Road, a muddy American Indian trail leading to the West Side of Chicago, near Western Avenue. On the Near North Side it was called Indiana Street. Thomas Jefferson Vance Owen, Chicago's first town president, is believed to have named it in 1833 after naming Chicago, "a grand place to live."

It has its good stretches and bad, but as you may have suspected by now, it's the ruination that provides this feature with its weekly parade of damnation. This week: the depressing effect of bricked-up windows.

Probably a bar, once, or a cafe; I'll bet that circular divide above the Dumpster traces the contour of a 30s rounded window that once had metal trim. There are three types of brick in that space - the red brick filling up most of the window, the light bright on the end, and the grey brick filling up a hole in the hole that was filled up.

It's like a sample case for urban undertakers.

For every five abandoned buildings, there's one bright bird chirping with promise:

Not what the architect intended, but who cares? It's lively.

The accidental compositional skills of the Google Street View strike again:

The brick around the door - original, or applied when stone fell off because someone's brother got the winning bid?

It's rare you'll see this color scheme and a facade renovation like this, intact, and touting its original owners:

I've no idea why some panels have lines and some don't. You'll have to ask the brothers.

Smushed-up smeary palimpsent ghost ads:


Some variety of angel float over the concept of IDEAL WELDING, it seems.

The church filled in the window, sor someone else did.

Why must they always fill in the windows.

You know this has to be some sort of power plant:

Were those spaces ever glassed? I'd say yes; the brickwork filling in the area is haphazard and patchwork.

It must have been beautiful, once - imagine that window glowing in the twilight.

I wrote that for picture #8 a few entries ago, but it applies here as as well.

When you want to brick up all your windows but can't quite shake the feeling that some light might be nice:

Small windows surrounded by glass blocks. Brilliant if everyone's walking around without pants.

There's something . . . I don't know, Druidic about this one. As though it's cowled and silent and will not tell you about its ceremonies.


The ground floor is bricked; the second floor isn't. Glass or wood.

Perhaps the bricks are meant to keep out the criminals, and the criminals don't bother with anything that's not on street level.


Not so much windows as gun ports.

Nice arch; bricked. Big windows: gone./The overall effect is a bored robot toad:


This I love: big proud entrance. Looks like a latter renovation of a 20s building; don't think the corner cylider was original.

You know it had a big sign, too. It had to.

Oh, I give up.


And so did they, it seems.

There's more: have a look.

Bonus fun: look at this photograph, and see if you can find the street. The 7th building from the corner is still around.


Restaurants, of course. It's Thursday, my favorite day of the week! See you around.


blog comments powered by Disqus