I got in the elevator at work, and pressed 12. That’s my number! Other people have other numbers - 11, 13 - and they feel the same way about their number as I feel about mine. Home. Each floor with its different cultures and societies - uniform to the outside, because it’s someone else’s floor, but diverse to you. When I step off the elevator there are four directions I can take, and each leads to a different function of the newspaper - but to a newcomer it’s terra incognita. Actually no, it’s not; Tera Incognita, she works in accounting. Eleventh floor.

The doors closed. The first thing that happens is liftoff, followed by the replacement of the L in the LED panel with X. This is the elevator’s sign you should watch a high-budget porno from the late 60s. I think it was “Midnight Cowboy” that was the first mainstream X, and then there were the ports with plot and posters and radio ads. To assure everyone it was much more “adult” than something that had Dustin Hoffman walking around looking cold and coughing up quarts of phlegm, they added two Xs. Double-X didn’t sound right, perhaps. Triple X sounds OVER THE TOP.

So the X changes to 12 before the cab stops. It’s all very fast.

Except it wasn’t. The LED said L. It didn’t change. Something was whirring and screeching a bit.

The button for my floor went out.

Now, this is the point where you start to remember how everyone really ignores what an elevator does. You enter a little zen-zone where you’re preparing yourself for stepping off. You rarely think about getting stuck, even though it happens to some.

And I was thinking that it was happening to me. I would be in here for an hour, and then I would pry the door open, see that the car was three feet above the floor; I’d squeeze out, and it would move and cut me in half. There are four fears for elevators: getting stuck; the car falls without brakes; you fall down the shaft; you get cut in half climbing out.

But ding! The door opened. Still on L. Okay I can take a hint. I got out and went to another car that had just opened up, and rode up thinking “I’ll never trust that elevator again. Well, no, I will, but it’ll take a while. Didn’t this happen once before? It did. Same car? No. Which one? Gah: this one.

There was someone else in the car, a young woman who worked on a floor I never see anyone push. I said “odd, I was just in that other elevator and it shut the doors, made noise, never moved, then the doors opened.”

She stared straight ahead. I could understand if she was looking at her phone but she was staring straight ahead.

Okay, I died, and no one can see me now.

Ding! Doors open; I get out. Across the 12th floor elevator lobby . . . the doors the non-functioning elevator open. And no one gets out.

At which point I realize this would have been a much better entry if I’d gotten out, but no. Also, the woman was wearing earbuds, which is why she didn’t respond.

Highlight of the day, I’m afraid to say.

Some political cartoons from 192X, suggesting that the French were on to something when they said the more things change - well, you know.

Then again, maybe not. We don’t have our politicians literally in league with the criminal syndicates so much any more.

The old divide, as wide as ever. Hello, Mr. All The Farmers!

"We're starving!" Ha ha screw you.

Damned ferriners:

The continental painter is a nice touch. Let’s look at the details of Europe’s Ideal America:

“Unlimited funds to pay for imperialistic wars” isn’t something Europe would ask for today, so there’s that.

This one is . . . complex.

I deduce that Maw American Public is smacking the physical embodiment of four Senators to underscore the sentiment behind their defeat, tied to their pro-World Court initiatives.

A newspaper of the day noted (OCR transcription): The very first primary of the year in Illinois witnessed the downfall of the late Senator McKinley. administration candidate and then followed In rapid succession reverses for his colleagues. Pepper of Pennsylvania. Stanfield of Oregon. Cummins of lowa and Lenroot of Wisconsin.

They’re by Carey Orr.

Carey Cassius Orr (January 17, 1890 Ada, Ohio – May 16, 1967) was an American editorial cartoonist.

In his youth, Orr was a semi-professional baseball pitcher, and he used the money he made from baseball to study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. After a $15 a week job at the Chicago Examiner, he was 24 when he began at the Nashville Tennessean as a full-time editorial cartoonist. In 1917, he signed on with the Chicago Tribune, where he stayed for 46 years. He drew the Kernel Cootie comic strip.

I can't find any Kernel Cootie, but trust me: two years from now I'll probably have a site on the strip with 50 examples.




Back to Dexter Avenue in Detroit, once a thriving commercial street. Now?

I don't think it's open Sundays anymore.


Monday through Saturday, either.

Those garlands over the rounded corner bother me. One must have fallen off; the replacement brick is a different color. But it seems like a cheap, rote thing to have stuck up there in the first place.



Explain that right bay door. Explain how all those bricks and colors ended up as they did.

I’m sure it’s for sale for the right price.

That's a tiny tiny gas station, but such things weren’t unknown. Some post-war gas stations didn’t sell much but gas and candy bars and maybe oil, so having two bays wasn’t necessary.

Either they don’t want someone to throw a rock through their stained glass window . . .



. . . or someone already did.

Once prosperous commercial / residential building . . .

Now bricked up with extreme prejudice. “MEDICAID PHARMACY.”

Old citizens like this make it seem unlikely that anything will come back and inhabit these spaces - they’ll have to be swept away and replaced. Or just swept away.


What was the thinking behind the deployment of small strips of glass blocks?

What went on inside after the glass storefronts were bricked up, and what events led up to that decision? Multiply the questions X1000 and you have Detroit.


I don’t know. Y?

Check out the sign on the left - just a frame now, but once a bright fixture with an arrow pointing down. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bulbs lit up in sequence, pointing to the store.

All these strange old frameworks for long-gone signs: they look like strange insects feasting on the nectar of the building’s despair.


If that’s not too melodramatic. Which it is.

Huh. Hmm. Somehow the paint came off the cladding in exact squares.

The cladding, by the way, looks like a rehab from long ago. Brick beneath at the bottom. But how did the bottom look? Is that a framework left when some strange sidewalk-level bevel was attached to the building?

More next week. It keeps going and going, and going. Down. Hey, it's cold, grey February. This stuff is apt.



That'll do! Tomorrow, the exciting tale of the escalator that wasn't working for a while.



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