Above: a view from a skyway area, cut away to show us the inside of the building. They always look like solid cubes from outside, but the old ones had a light court that kept people on the inside connected to the natural world. Before air conditioning it was nice to open the windows and let the air flow take out the BO and cigar smoke, too.

They didn't lavish a lot of extra details on the light courts, did they. Except when they did: I remember taking the stairs in the Toy Manufacturers Building in New York, formerly the Fifth Avenue Office Building, and seeing a great wall of old terra cotta, gleaming under the grime - a picture of pre-20s NYC that seemed to belong to a different era.

The more I study the time between, oh, 1910 and 1920, the more I'm convinced the decade was thrown down the memory hole. It has no public image. It has no attribute people don't slyly drag into the 20s. But it's the start of modernity, for better and for worse.

One of the sites I think you'll like next year concerns another cartoonist - better than Scoop, in terms of skill, and in terms of comedy, so basically better than Scoop period. I'm 120 pages into the site now, and reading these vignettes from a hundred years ago is like reading yesterday's papers.

ANYWAY; sorry. Mind wandered. Our light court is a big atrium, and on Thursday we learned something:

No one wanted to play checkers.

Our building has Fun Things on Thursday - crafts, baking, coloring books, the sort of thing you’d put out if everyone was seven. It’s an excuse to do things with friends over lunch hour, and it’s year-round - unlike the seasonal pursuits over at our enemy building, 333. But now they have their bag toss games out, so we had to come up with something similar.

No one wanted to play with those either. Jenga was untouched, because no one wanted to be the person who failed in front of everyone else.

How many people know how to play checkers? They might think they do, but it can’t be that simple, can it? There’s Kinging involved, and after what do you do?

Now: fun history! Warning: fun not guaranteed.

Some construction, but not a project we've been following. It went up quickly, and I'm surprised it's not all sticks. Grim slushy day, and the neighborhood looks drab and unappealing. But that's not quite accurate. Anyway:

The site, just a few months ago. Why am I bothering? You'll see.

Let's go back a year or so:

See those stones?

They're the last remnants of the most hated structure in town: the Washington Avenue Viaduct.

  The viaduct was first proposed in 1909. The tracks would run from the station by the river and the industrial area over Washington, a wide and busy avenue.
  1935. This wasn't the first crash; oh my no. If I remember the viaduct correctly, two lanes narrowed to one, and it was dark, poorly lit, and did not yield when struck.

A few years later, in 1939:

It happened all the time.

Of course, there were constant calls to fix it.

That was 1941.

That was 1951. Finally:

That was 1983; it was gone soon after. There's no sign the tracks were ever there, no signs the trains crossed the street and headed down to join the other lines. No sign, that is, unless you get waaay up high and look down.


The angled street, I believe, is the path of the old rain line.



It's finally fixed. A bit late, but finally fixed.


Yes, it's the return of Lance Lawson! All new strips! New in the sense that they're from 1948, but weren't posted before.

He won't bit! Or bite. Solution here.




Another installment of America's purveyor of imaginative history.

Which is one way to put it.


Profile . . . of 1912. The entire year?



Instead of the swank old sounds of Goodwill albums, this year we're going to share bad 1960s pop music. The second- and third-tier tunes.

Hey, let's get the kids together and make a hit! Can they sing? Ahh, doesn't matter. The rest of the kids will dig it.


It's from a musical touted as "an extension, an amplification and a continuation of Hair."

Maybe the flip side's about conditioner.




Hold on, another peanut butter ad? Why do I have so many?








And now, the rest of the story.

Wikipedia on the 1912 Olympics:.

For his skill with running and fencing, Patton was selected as the Army's entry for the first modern pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. Of 42 competitors, Patton placed twenty-first on the pistol range, seventh in swimming, fourth in fencing, sixth in the equestrian competition, and third in the footrace, finishing fifth overall and first among the non-Swedish competitors.

There was some controversy concerning his performance in the pistol shooting competition, where he used a .38 caliber pistol while most of the other competitors chose .22 caliber firearms. He claimed that the holes in the paper from his early shots were so large that some of his later bullets passed through them, but the judges decided he missed the target completely once. Modern competitions on this level frequently now employ a moving background to specifically track multiple shots through the same hole. If his assertion was correct, Patton would likely have won an Olympic medal in the event. The judges' ruling was upheld. Patton's only comment on the matter was:

"The high spirit of sportsmanship and generosity manifested throughout speaks volumes for the character of the officers of the present day. There was not a single incident of a protest or any unsportsmanlike quibbling or fighting for points which I may say, marred some of the other civilian competitions at the Olympic Games. Each man did his best and took what fortune sent them like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivals in a severe competition, yet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success."

Bill Stern didn't read his book, that magnificent bastard!


Hope you've enjoyed the week - see you Monday!


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