I was walking to the Foshay Tower to take a few pictures, as has not been my wont for far too many years. If this had been my wont, I wouldn’t have to do it today, and I would have been able to redo the website about the tower long ago. Instead, it has languished. I’m going through the MPLS pages to check for bad links and questionable design decisions, and I was horrified to find the Foshay Tower page was c. 2000, or worse. Gah.
En route I saw a couple staring at a skyway map, and I offered to help. They said they were looking for the Foshay Tower. Rather, the woman said so; the guy was somewhat sullen. Well, follow me! En route I gave the a history of the building, the fate of the man who built it. When we got to the TCF atrium I pointed out how there’d been a big party here in ’29, with a specially-commissioned Sousa march - and by the way, the check bounced, so the march couldn’t be played for years until the estate ponied up.
Since the Foshay is a hotel, I asked if they were staying there; no, they were here from Chicago, interested in architecture. Ah! Well, you’ll love this - it’s early Moderne with genuine Art Deco.
At this point I got the definite impression that I should leave them alone, and I obliged. I’m not saying “why would anyone want to get rid of moi?” But if you’re interested in architecture and you suddenly have your own personal tour guide . . . wouldn’t that be cool?
Well, I suppose I flatter myself.
By the way, here's the full photo from which the banner was taken. It was cold and it snowed, which has the virtue of freshening up the world.
Only one building from the pre-war period - well, one that wasn't rehabbed. You can't help but hear horse-hooves clip-clop when you look at it.
Anyway! I took pictures, and the new Foshay site will go up soon, if you care. It has images not previously posted to the internet, and it's the best thing on the subject anyone's done. THERE, TAKE THAT, CHICAGO COUPLE WHO DIDN'T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING MORE. Hmph. The only problem was shooting the lobby, which is now a hip hotel and hence has ridiculous lighting. It's pink.
I've been spending a lot of time in the 20s these last few days. While I was working on the site I was watching a 1929 movie, and at night I watch Babylon Berlin, set in 1929. The Foshay went up in 1929. None of this means anything, except everyone should study a particular year from time to time, and I don't mean study a history book. Get some old movies off YouTube, buy a short subscription to newspapers.com, and see what they saw.
As usual, this is not about TV, but the things that follow from watching TV.
I watched the new Blade Runner, set 120 years after the Foshay Tower was built, and 31 years after the Chicago couple blew of my offer to tell them more about it, Hmph. Went into it with arms folded across my chest: okay just try to move me. Was utterly engrossed. It just worked for me, although your views may vary. I take it as a good sign that a movie about which I am indifferent at the start wins me over, and I realize I can't argue with what the movie's doing.
I did have some tweets, based on the original movie's conspicuous use of corporate logos - many of which touted brands that had faded by the turn of the century.
Sony, Johnny Walker. SELL ALL SHARES IMMEDIATELY
Additional “Blade Runner 2049” investment advice: SELL ALL GAMING STOCKS
Additional “Blade Runner 2049” signage: ATARI, so I guess the brand is resurrected. RECOMMEND: BUY
What I thought about before I watched the movie was my experience watching the original. There’d been nothing like it. Don’t remember the theater, but I saw it with my girlfriend at the time - which of course makes you wonder if she remembers seeing it with you. I remember thinking “eh, Vangelis?” He was too airy-old-style somehow. I’d first encountered him when I was hovering up every bit of electronic music available - Kraftwerk, Stockhausen, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tomita. Vangelis had released an album called “Heaven and Hell,” and it struck me as leaning too much on the upper registers, with predictable synth sounds. It was insubstantial.
See, I knew my electronic music. There was the early work of Stockhausen, which I studied and learned so I could drop the name - even though jeez, no, what noise. There was Jean-Michel Jarre, who was Serious and French but also emotional; listen to the first side of Oxygen and it puts Vangelis’ “Heaven and Hell” in purgatory. Or so I thought. There were the serious electronic acts like Synergy, which was really one fellow - Larry Fast.
Which requires I reset a few years back to Iowa.
The first year of Debate Camp I had a friend, Rich from Chicago. Heavily into prog. I mean, deep. Tull. Magma, for God’s sake - a group that sang in their own made-up language. I was more on the romantic side of prog, which at the time meant Genesis and Supertramp. DO NOT LAUGH. You have no idea how the “Crime of the Century” album sounded at the time, and even though “Breakfast in America” was poppy, the first song had Rick Davies' sad howl: ain’t nothing new in my life today / ain’t nothin’ true, it’s all gone away” which was a despairing sentiment right out of the predecessor albums. If you only know the group from fun retro montage sequences, stay your chastening hand.
And the same band, an album before, had done something this simple and lovely:
That's because you had two different sensibilities that only connected when playing each other's work.
Anyway, Rich from Chicago pronounced Larry Fast “Fost,” with a jokey mocking sound in his voice, and I always thought, well, he’d know, because that’s probably how the DJs on the FM station in CHICAGO pronounced it. They had real radio in Chicago.
The noir themes of the "Blade Runner" just put a hook in me, and the startling idea that the future would be familiar but damp and worse, that tech would lead to just more of the same with tiny letters imprinted on eyeballs, that you’d go to the bad part of town to learn who engineered this robot - it was fascinating, and of course I loved it.
Here’s the thing, though: being a young man in the Midwest, I had no idea the Million Dollar Theater existed, let along was across the street from the Bradbury building. I didn’t even know what the Bradbury Building was. Years later I found myself there, there, on that spot, and I kept waiting for something to come to me - but it didn’t. And why should it? That future hadn’t happened.
What did happen was the skies were scrubbed and the day was clear; the Bradbury was restored and venerated. And if I find myself in LA on 2019 I would love to go there and feel the sun on my face, and look around at all the people staring down at their phones convinced everything actually turned out for the worst. The worst of all possible worlds, that’s where we are.
But consider for a moment if that’s not so. What then? What possibilities does that admission admit? Wouldn't that be a relief?
No; nothing is a relief for some. It can't be. That would spoil everything.
Another artist whose work appeared often in ads of the 70s, defining the look of the era:
Folon published his drawings in newspapers, mostly in the USA, where he was recognized earlier than in Europe and illustrated books by Franz Kafka, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Luis Borges, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jacques Prévert, Boris Vian, Guy de Maupassant, Albert Camus, Herbert George Wells and Jean de la Fontaine. He never really changed his style.
The tag line is odd: meet someone halfway. I guess one stands on the steps and the other stands on the level walkway.
"Yes, please, a pickle with my English Muffin"
I blow hot and cold on these. Some months I think they’re bad. Then I just want them every Sunday.
The twin pack seems like a single pack, doesn’t it? The package is square. Now it’s rectangular, which takes up less space.
Serve and save? That's a horrible slogan. By the time you're preparing them, the act of "saving" money has passed.
The company was founded by Samuel Bath Thomas (1855–1919). In 1874, he immigrated from England to New York City and after other menial jobs began working in a bakery.
By 1880, he had purchased his own bakery at 163 Ninth Avenue, where he featured his namesake muffins which were baked on a griddle, not an oven. The business expanded to 337 West 20th Street (a plaque designates the building as "The Muffin House”) Citation needed
Photography had been ubiquitous in ads for a decade; illustration had been pushed off to the side. But now and then you’d get something completely hand-drawn. Yes, the first ad was an illo, but this is different. That was a picture used in an ad; here, the ad is the picture.
Hand-drawn gradients: those were the days.
Hair was bad in 1970. Bad was hair. Hair: bad.
There weren’t any cigarettes that ran out of flavor. And even if they did, no one cared.
To be honest, some hair was better. Supposedly this is from 1970; it's certainly from the same campaign.
This is a lot of technical information.
Sharper is the other half of better. The Trinitron was regarded as the Really Good TV the “smart” people got. Wikipedia:
One of the first truly new[vague] television systems to enter the market since the 1950s, the Trinitron was announced in 1968 to wide acclaim for its bright images, about 25% brighter than common shadow mask televisions of the same era.
I thought brighter wasn’t necessarily better!
Sony's patent on the Trinitron display ran out in 1996, after 20 years. After the expiration of Sony's Trinitron patent, manufacturers like Mitsubishi were free to use the Trinitron design for their own product line without license from Sony although they could not use the Trinitron name. For example, Mitsubishi's are called Diamondtron.
It’s hard to describe how impressed we were by all this. We got a Sony said it all.
And we’re talking 23” tube TVs. To our eyes, they were like 4K.
You may be a stoner with no money, but you’re a better person.
The ad for those who want the best possible musical experience, and are thus inclined to be influenced by the sight of some dude’s feet. As if he’s listening through his soles.
All of these products are still around. There’s something to be said for finding a niche and making sure your brand name is the first thing people think about when the subject comes up.
We have ancient English metal salve; Manic Mailman; a plea to feed the starving leather of other countries, and the expunger of horrible, horrible masses.
The 60s staple: helpless hausfrau in a coat:
By the end of the decade, they were groovy and with it. Ten seconds:
That will do. Brace yourself: it's the dreaded Tuesday.