Another view from the U above from my weekend visit, something that sums up perfectly the perils of having an architecture school on campus. What, we have to build a handicapped ramp? Let's make a statement! Something that channels the linear forms of the old building, but asserts itself with new forms, new materials!

Okay . . . can it blend in?

Blend? In? As if it should connote shame, a desire to hide away its purpose? No! It will proclaim itself! Here. Look.

It's a slab of cement.

Concrete. Cement is a componant of concrete. See? I cannot take advice from someone wo unschooled in the basics.

Okay, concrete. But could it be lower?

(snickers) Could it be lower. Yes, it could be. Will it? No.





Oh, don't worry, this isn't all about TV. That's always the starting point.

I finished Narcos, which is good. Not good that I finished it, I mean. The series was good. Here’s an indication: one of the characters, built up as Your Sympathetic Hook On Whom You Can Hang Some Personal Investment, had such a harrowing experience I stopped about six eps through and googled him, and was relieved to find an interview where he spoke about the accuracies and, er, liberties of the program. Whew: he survived. Even so, the subsequent scenes made me sweat.

It has great charismatic villains, all that BS about honor and loyalty the mob types love to trot out, the now-standard scenes of cornered criminals yelling into phones (what did they do in the pre-film era, march down to the telegraph office and scream at the clerk? YOU TELL THAT PUTA HE IS DEAD STOP YOU TELL HIM I WILL RIP OFF HIS FARGIN BALLS STOP). It didn’t have the blond Yank cop from the first two seasons, but it profited from the subtraction; having Javier Pena - playing a real guy! - carry the show made for a leaner narrative, even though Pena always looked confused that his superiors were as stupid or compromised as they showed themselves to be.

You can’t help think: all these murderous, awful people making sure that Robin Williams and everyone else in the chic circles got their blow.

2/3rds of the way through Bojack, which is as brilliant as ever.

Watched - or rather FF’d through - a schlock movie called “The Tenth Victim,” which posits a future where violence is sanctioned, and people hunt other people! It’s very 60s, except it’s based on a short story from the previous decade, and was turned into a radio play in the 50s. I’d just heard it a few weeks ago. Like many radio shows that took place in the future, it couldn’t see how the everyday, commonplace things would change - i.e., the cabbies would not all be streetwise nervy guys from Brooklyn what knew all the angles.

Anyway, the movie is very 60s . . .


No one in the future wants anything nice. They want empty concrete expanses, but you can always liven things up with casually sprawled, lazy jazz musicians, posed like scupture because it's the Future of the Sixties.



What made me snap to attention was the opening sequence, where a guy is hunting a woman in the Future Ruins:



Whoa. Hold on. Is it? Is it? It has to be. Ah:


Google street view above. So that means this . . . (same first shot)

. . . is the ruins of Penn Station, shot during its demolition.

It brought back something I thought last week when I was kicking around Uptown in the dark of the night while Daughter shopped for a Halloween costume. I know the area well; used to live there. Of course, it’s gone downhill. Uptown isn’t what it used to be. (This I heard when I moved in, in 1986; this I said when I left, three years later. It’s always so.) It’s better, really - big new apartments rising on the old parking lots. The residents are still young and hip, but the central commercial development still struggles. There’s no explanation for this. The population has doubled, and they can’t fill the stores.

I walked past a bar that was closed for a private event, and remembered how the building replaced a one-story commercial structure that had a Johnny Rockets and a comic book store and a pet shop. That’s where I saw Jasper behind the glass, and went inside to ask how much they wanted for the doggie in the window. Looking up and down the street I could place what used to be there, and in some cases what was there before. It’s a curse. Who cares?

No, it’s a blessing, and someone has to; there has to be a record. It matters what happened; it matters what came before.

Eh. You say that because it was your 80s playground. So the Fanny Farmer Chocolates was in the building where there’s now the Juut. A whoop of large dimensions. A big, gaseous whoop.

Here’s the thing. I had time to kill, and nowhere to go. I’d had my coffee. I was just walking around, waiting for daughter to be done. It felt like the Uptown of yore, between the last bad girlfriend and meeting my wife; it felt like nothing had changed, because in a sense, in some part of your heart, nothing does. Part of you will always be alone and aimless in Uptown in the dark on a cold night! It’s so tragic! I looked up and saw a static photo of a beautiful woman in the fitness center on the second floor, and thought I would have mocked that back then for its shallowness and also would have felt the harpoon in the sternum because WHERE IS SHE? THESE PROMISES HAUNT AND TAUNT ME

Back then I was a newspaper columnist who was on the radio, but that didn’t matter; now I am a newspaper columnist with a much bigger audience and I’m on the radio and this internet thing, and it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.

Oh, but it does. It all turned out fine. If only I could go back and reassure myself: it just gets fantastic, and you’ll marry a woman who’s prettier than the one in the picture and is still incredible after decades of marriage, even if you start to describe the column you’re writing and she notes that you dropped cigar ash on the steps she spent Sunday bleaching. And it’s not like she had to bleach the steps.

Do things matter? Of course. Look down Lake Street, brother, and testify! Shout it loud!


Sorry; had to get that off my chest. You know, there’s this thing called the Decade Project here on the site, and I’ve got active sites on the 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, and 70s. You may notice some glaring omissions.

I have too much for the 50s site. For the 80s site, I can’t get past the landing page I designed. It’ll be the last decade I get to.

But I will.



If you get the reference, bless you.


As I said yesterday, and will probably say tomorrow:

Marvel had a regrettable monster phase in the early 70s - but you can't blame them. They were following what the audience wanted. In the case of this magazine, they revived the crappy juvenile 60s books that put "funny" captions on Monster pictures. Why? Because of Madness, of course.

I've chosen these for one reason: they probably make no sense to anyone half my age. Not because the humor has changed, but because they reference common cliches that everyone knew, until everyone didn't.

This one's a bit more common.



What is that monster, though? Anyway:








It's 1921.

I’d think it wouldn’t smell like anything. I mean, I’ve been there, and it doesn’t smell like anything. But if it did, you’d think: hellish sulfur.



Instant charm! Instant beauty. Put on the cream so the powder can take hold, then add Bloom for color. Now you smell like the famous graveyard whose residents suffocated in agony or were buried under tons of rock from the sky. Or burned. It varied.


A fascinating tableau. It’s called “After the Fire.”



But there’s a firetruck in the upper-right rushing somewhere.

“A hot day is just one of the incidents of life that recalls the legend: ‘Drink Coca-Cola, Delicious and Refreshing.”

Yes, what a way to cap a day of property loss and civic terror!




“But here’s one anyway.”



Muir’s has been discussed here before, since this year’s 1920s ads were taken from Maclean’s, a Canadian publication.

I don’t know why the chocolates were so ominous.



I think we can all agree on the usefulness of a good Horrockses Nainsook:



Nainsook is a fabric. But does it say Horrockses on the Madapolam selvedge?

The company goes back a ways:

The company was formed by John Horrocks in 1791. John Horrocks was the son of Mr John Horrocks, a quarry master and manufacturer of millstones at Edgworth near Bolton.

That's in England.

It merged and disappeared. As they do. Why did they have stylized mice for a logo? Search for an answer, and you get . . . an ashtray.

You know the quantity and variety of consumer goods has yet to hit its peak when this much time and money goes into selling you valve stem caps:



Pity the poor allegorical maiden who landed this job. Well, it’s a start! Perhaps after a few decades I can work up to safety pins, or butter!

I don’t think this was news to anyone:


That’s just a lot of hair. Half your day would be spent maintaining your hair.



Splendid for children! Basically okay for men, who shouldn’t be concerned about such things.

It’s MULSIFIED. This is different from being emulsified? The latter means “cause to become an emulsion; make into an emulsion.” This does not help if you’re unclear on the root word. So, Emulsion: “a colloid in which both phases are liquids; ‘an oil-in-water emulsion’”

Oh for God’s sake. Another definition: “ 1 a fine dispersion of minute droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble or miscible.”

Miscible? “Forming a homogeneous mixture when added together.”

So basically it’s goop, not goop and oil.

Puts a “snap and tingle” in your day:


That it does, but the pleasure is fleeting, and replaced by bored distaste for the small, hard piece of gum you are working to no good effect.

1921: Still better than 1911. And not as good as what they could buy in 1931.

That'll do; see you around.



blog comments powered by Disqus