Column night etc etc., short Bleat, weak beer, wet bread, etc. I just made up “wet bread” as something unsatisfying, but you know, that’s not bad. It sounds unappealing in all respect, because you think it’s wet with water. Bread that’s soaked with sauce is different. I don’t know what term you’d use. Mopped is crude; you could say “he’s as sloppy as mopped bread,” I guess.

Anyway, a sodden baguette, that’s what you’ll get. Interesting day, though; miserably cold, with a wind that makes you feel like a human dental filling in a blizzard of aluminum. I walked without coat a few blocks to the Minneapolis Club, where I had lunch with a very interesting fellow. I hadn’t been inside that place since the early 80s, I think; crashed a party, and was underdresssed. So I would not be underdressed today. A man needs to have coat-and-tie lunch in a wood-lined room now and then, especially if your life is mostly reheated substances jazzed to life by the office microwave.

Looking back, you wonder how under-dressed you were in situations that required a bit more polish. Literally, polish. Did you go to a nice event with a ghost of road snow on your shoes? Even if they were under the table, you knew, on a subconscious level, that everyone else probably had polished their shoes before they came. My dad was a great shoe polisher of the old school; he had a kit, with stiff brushes and tins of Kiwi, and would punish those shoes with vigorous strokes the night before Sunday morning. Now he wears tennis shoes. At his age he’s entitled. They’re always spotless.

I suppose that was the highlight, except for finishing off a piece at work and catching an error before it went into print. A stupid error, and I couldn’t believe I wrote it. I just looked at it, thinking: how could I have said that? What the hell was wrong with me, thinking the Commodore Hotel in New York was the Roosevelt? Granted, it was written off the top of my head, and I’m not a New Yorker, but I have a website about both. Just to make absolutely sure I walked to the building that appears in the article, wincing for a different reason: I’d found another website that quotes the building’s wikipedia page, and I’m quoted on the page saying harsh things about the building I really don’t believe anymore. I have to edit that. It would be fun to see the edit challenged. Yes, the quote is correct, but the opinion is not, and as the person who had the original opinion, I’m entitled to change it.

I should change it from a bit dismissive to gentle admiration. If anyone ever checks the page and notes the difference, I wonder if they’d remember. An architectural Mandela moment. Could've sworn that guy was cruel to the building, and here he's praising its vigorous rustication.

If something has rustication, it stands to reason it's been rustified, but I've never heard that word. I like it. A strong word. Strong as the crust on a rustic loaf, by God. Is the act of baking bread considered crustification?

Okay, I'll stop now









Because Twitter is important, the Wednesday Review will spend some time this year picking apart various controversies or exchanges. Here's the hook: I am deliberately doing these entries a week after the spat happened. Because stuff just scrolls away, forgotten, and the Etch-a-Sketch gets upended and shook every day anew. It shouldn't.

Will 2019 be the year of diminished jerkwaddery? Magic 8-Ball says answer unclear. There was a hopeful note, in which a blue-check Twitterer apologized because A) it was the right thing to do, and B) he realized he was making fun of someone’s death for the wrong reason. A young writer had died from the flu and menengitis adn people were passing around a seven-year-old tweet where she appeared to be an anti-vaxxer. She was actually satirizing them. But hey, there's a few pennies of political capital to be eked out, so get out the tiny pixaxes and start chipping. When the error was pointed out, he changed his tune.


See, she didn’t say that thing about vaccines, so yah, sorry, fam. Implied: if she did say it, he wouldn't have apologized.

Okay. Well, we’ll see how long that lasts. Vast numbers of internetty snark-ogres regard it as their duty to shitpost, to keep it real, perhaps. When enough of the trend- and tone-setters swear off conspicuous inhumanity, it might help. It also matters that people forgive, provisionally. If there’s no forgiveness or absolution or understanding, no one will expect it, or grant it. Sometimes people say stupid things. They say a lot of stupid things. And then, perhaps, at some point, they learn.

Or they don't:

If they learn not to be this person, their lives will be better. Professionally, though - well, Thor’s a writer. There are lots of writers. We have more “writers” than ever, and there are probably a few out there who haven’t made a Twitter jape about a young girl’s death. Forgiveness doesn’t mean anyone’s obligated to give him work, of course.

Here’s an example from a wide-swingin’ big-hitter dude:

This is not a case of compassion fatigue, or someone who has exhausted their stock of empathy in a cruel world, and needs replenishment. This might someone who doesn’t care because he thinks the news media insists that he must, in which case it is very important to tell everyone that he does not.

That’s the most charitable reading.

Alexandra, whom I met on the last NR Cruise and is a smart and delightful person, pointed out that public declarations about such things is unwise and telling:

She was repaid by the usual indignant huffy sniffy pinched-soul sycophants:

Lazarus adds lots of cruise ships because Kurt adds lots of cruise ships, because Kurt hates Bill Kristol, who was part of a Weekly Standard cruise, and cruise ships are the new Washington DC Cocktail Parties. Also, Lazarus doesn’t know what he’s talking about; the dead child was not dragged across the desert. More fun:

Trump4eight doesn’t know the particulars of the story, since it had nothing to do with parents dragging children 1000s of miles. The boy who died, and his father, were citizens of the USA.

Alexandra is a leftist for criticizing Kurt, according to the scotch-bonnet-strength-stupidity accounts; the milder ones were concerned that she was criticizing the Right, and she shouldn't be helping the Left.

Most Twitter comments are like this - mice rustling in the chaff. And they never work. When the original author reads these comments, it doesn’t make a bit of difference. But the postures must be struck, or someone might go to bed thinking they hadn't been OWNED ON THE INTERNET when they were surely most certainly owned.




It's 1927. This week we page through some old LA Times pages. Different editions, one theme. The Los Angeles paper in the 20s is a fascinating thing - you can see a fresh new world arising at astonishing speed. It’s the building adverts I like. Huge new structures replaced small shacks, which had been preceded by nothing.

We’ll start with a landmark:

The Biltmore.

I’ve stayed here. Like many grand hotels, it has fantastic public spaces and small rooms.

The Rendezvous Court, once the hotel's lobby but now used primarily for afternoon tea, is decorated with a Moorish Revival styled plaster ceiling painted with 24 Carat Gold accents, two original imported Italian chandeliers from 1923, and a grand Spanish Baroque Revival bronze doorway, whose astrological clock still keeps time today. Two figures appear on the stairwell front—on the left is the Roman goddess of agriculture Ceres, while on the right is the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa.

The last place the Black Dahlia was seen alive. Some say her ghost haunts it still! Actually, no, I’ve never heard that.

The Commodore! Just kidding, the Roosevelt!

End-of-the-boom bulk; now residential.

Old LA was a fantastic place when it was new. I suppose they always say that.

Something quite minor, but it's the details like this that never get any historical attention.

Get this: their raw materials come from cows! And we have more trucks such as these!

Amazing: still around.

This is astonishing: in any other city it would be a landmark office building. And it’s not even an office building.

Oh, there's a novel here:

It was built in 1928 as a glamorous repository for people's overflow belongings. But it does have some excitement in its past; during prohibition, its top floor housed multiple speakeasies, as Eastsider LA wrote about recently. According to a long-ago Curbed tipster, the freight elevators were used to bring guests secretly to the top floor, and there are some remains of what might have been the bandstand still up there.

The roof was also the location for Thirteenth Heaven, a sacrilegious-sounding club where angel-winged servers greeted guests and St. Peter manned the elevator.


I’ve always been a fan of the style called Skyscraper Gothic.

Platt was an electronics retailer; think records, not pianos.


Finally, another piece of 20s faux Spanish design, for the rest of the ages:

That’s the plan.


Well, part of it was built. And its occupants would never know what it was supposed to be. You could say the same thing about Los Angeles, right?

I don’t know; just sounded like the obvious thing to say.

That'll do; enjoy the update, and I'll see you around.



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