Interesting arc to the day: ordinary, annoying, bad, vocal, lousy as hell, better, relieved, satisfied, hopeful. If there’s one thing I accomplished for certain, beyond the usual scribbling, it was scanning about 60 pieces of money for the eventual redesign of a very old site. It’ll take me about two weeks to complete, and then I can redo it all for 2019.

The other thing that was good and necessary was throwing the ball to Birch and watching him bring it back, ears flopping, bouncing with glee.
He is a mellow little pup, though, and I’ve been googling “my puppy is too calm.” Seems a common concern. Msot of the reassurances say if he's eating a lot and his poop's dense, count your blessings.

Well, we're back to the vet next week for more heartworm pills, so I'll take it up with them.

Long story, but I started watching some YouTube videos on this guy’s channel, because he tears apart - often literally - bad comic books. He’s dinging the work for its manifest faults - bad art, meritorious storytelling, infantile dialogue, and characters that tick all the boxes for the Interminably Outraged. Apparently, it’s more important to make comics for people who don’t read them, but want to live in a world where comics are correct. It is too annoying - no, intolerable - to think there are comics that appeal to the wrong element for the wrong reasons; they must be replaced with alternative visions that instruct the reader about the humanity of the previously marginalized. It is wrong to have a comic aimed at predominately male heterosexuals that appeals to predominately male heterosexuals.

I don’t care a whit if someone starts a comic company and fills the pages with whatever they wish. But it’s not enough. The old archetypes have to be reconfigured. There’s a Pokemon character who wears its dead mother’s skull as a helmet, and that’s the idea here.

So Thor has to be a woman; Iron Man has to be an African-American teenage girl; everything has be recast to eliminate the dominant paradigm. It’s not an organic evolution. It’s a hammer on a bar of cold taffy.

It’s the callow, childlike nature of the characters that seems so peculiar - the dissection of the Mary Sue “Squirrelgirl” idiocy in particular suggests that 20 is the new 12. Reminds me of one of the most memorable comic experiences of childhood.




It is impossible to summarize how much he had screwed up right here. Now, Spidey was a teenager, but he had a sense of responsibility; he was supposed to get a crucial medicine to Aunt May, and ended up trapped in Dock Ock’s underwater lair. All the glib quips were useless now; the costumed bravado stripped away. There was no daddy-o slang in his words He had always been one of us, and in this posture he was a stark lesson that we could fail - not because of some institutional forces bent on victimizing us, but because we were personally fallible despite our own estimation of our capabilities. There’s no race, gender, or age in that picture.

None of that occurred to me at the time, sitting on the front porch in the summer twilight, feeling that sense of evaporating alcohol in the skin you got from a piece of art that hit you where you lived.

There is, however, a masculine aspect to his actions in the next issue.




Boys had a vicarious moment of identification here, because that’s how we see ourselves in our dragon-slaying reveries. The question is this: do an equal number of girls feel the same sort of identification? If not, why?


Eh. My wife is fit as a whippet; she can play tennis for 3 hours, and has much more stamina than I do. But she will hand me a stuck jar or ask me to open something because I have a different kind of strength, and I assume I can open it because I have always had that kind of strength. I can carry a dozen 40 lb. sacks of dirt up two flights of steps. Daughter works out every night and has better wind than old Dad, but I can carry in six bags of heavy groceries: STRONG LIKE BOOL. I could imagine doing what Spidey did, because it’s an extrapolation of what I always thought I'd be capable of doing. HULK SMASH. MAN LIFT.

It is fiction for Spidey to lift the object, but it’s ridiculous to think that young men had been programmed to relate to the moment of triumph because they’d been socialized by the patriarchy. It’s how you already feel about yourself. Not to say it’s accurate: show young women a picture of a female superhero, and they might think “well, a year in the gym, yeah, I could be that.” Guys think “I’m sort of almost that already. Couple of days with the weights, I’m there.”

These are all generalties, which become redefined as bigotry or male chauvinism. If men are generally stronger, then this truth somehow denies the existence of strong women. If men are generally more aggressive, then male aggression is pathologized, and female aggression - indistinguishable in the comics from physical male rage - is elevated as self-empowerment, which absolves it from its base, elemental violence.

All to satisfy a scant customer base that approves of the plot lines in blog entries with AWESOME EXAMPLES of ART from the comics that show the characters BEING BADASS, but doesn’t really buy the comics. It’s enough to applaud as something else gets dismantled.

Anyway: If they’re all interchangeable and characters need to be refreshed by turning them into something they have never been, then why not make Wonder Woman a man for a while? Luke Cage a white guy? That’s a predictable response, but there’s no good answer. Sex and race are part of the character; it’s one of the things that define them. Which is great! Until it’s bad.

From what I read, this stuff isn't selling, but they’ll still push it until Bruce Banner is recast as someone who can keenly detect microaggressions, and turns into the Hulk when he overhears someone misgendering someone else, or someone behaves in a way that indicates she is unaware of her privilege. HULK CHECK.


I don't like the local cut-rate department store. It's depressing, it's messy, it smells, and the store-brand stuff is ugly.

This is a rather desultory performance.



Here, have some Double-Filled Halloween.




It's one of the larger towns we've done - 117K souls. The Wikipedia entry sounds like it was done by local boosters, calling it "a tourist destination." Paris, watch your back. It also notes it's been featured in film and television: "The Daily Show has featured Evansville in two episodes. The first featured a story about comedian Carrot Top's reopening of the historic Victory Theatre. "

TPC, aka The Phone Company, built a lot of these bunkers around the country. Some were better than others.

The only thing worse than a Brutalist building is a windowless Brutalist building. I guess there’s lots of stuff in there that needs cooling, and windows would screw it up, but these were deadly.



Add the lovely sight of the old building on the corner, stripped and bricked, and you have to wonder once again why people thought the mall was more pleasant.



An 80-year-old rich guy and his 50-something Botoxed 3rd wife:



The Romanesque building on the left is quite handsome. I wonder about the one on the right - probably a post-war facadectomy, with nice thin brick on the ground floor for a modern look.

So of course they fix the thin white brick with vertical slats of wood.


Never put a suburban office park downtown. Just don’t.




If you ask yourself, would this look at home in a suburb, and think “Yes! So it will help revitalize downtown,” it won’t. It’ll just break the streamline.

That said, it has a certain crisp appeal.


L. E. Long would not be happy about this:



Miserable rehab, but things are looking up. From a may 2017 story:

The L.E. Long building at 18 and 20 NW Sixth St. currently has two business on its ground floor: Psychic Readings and attorney David Shaw's office. Brothers Danny and Kevin Fulton, who bought the property recently, are pursuing a  new tenant, possibly a restaurant

Shaw is moving out at the end of June, but it is possible Psychic Readings could stay put.

The story says downtown is blossoming, so a lot of what you’re seeing here could change, or could have already changed.

According to city records, the building dates to 1906. Original owner Lewis E. Long was a dealer of saddles and horse supplies. In the early 1920, Long shifted to  automobile parts sales. He and his family lived in the upper floor apartment.

The article also notes that the building is across from the Victory Theater, which I missed in my first pass through the area; lacks an impressive marquee, but it’s obviously a big 20s theater.

Lovely little Art Deco details.



It's part of this:



It’s the Hulman Building. Handsome structure.

It was initially built as the new Central Union Bank Building and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as "Morris Plan (Central Union Bank)". However, the bank failed on 11 January 1932 during the height of the Great Depression.

That happened a lot. All over. Everywhere.

Another piece of civic architecture from 20s, when such things had a grave, classical solemnity:



Sober Doric below, exuberant stonework above:



She looks as if she’s making them take a time out for being naughty, and they know they were naughty, but don’t like the time out anyway:





“1968?” you say.

“Possibly, yes.”



Yes. The tallest building in town, and proof that you didn’t want a skyscraper in the late 60s. The podium just ruins the streetscape; it’s blunt and dull and featureless.

So, is it salvageable? Yes: there’s an impressive amount of good building stock in reasonable shape, at least from the outside. The downtown seems too big, right now - no critical mass of pedestrians or housing. But if the lesson of Fargo teaches us anything, it’s that these places can fill up again and succeed.

Of course if the lesson of St. Paul teaches us anything, it’s the opposite.

Or there’s the lesson of Evansville: when your Main Street looks like this . . .


It’s harder to come back. But I wish them luck.

That'll do; see you around.


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