I feel silly for previous complaints about the cold, since it’s about to be minus zero for a week. Well, it has to happen. (Narrator voice: no, it does not - hold on, this isn’t a documentary. Is it? Is it a documentary about an overused literary device that’s worn out its welcome? Damn) It’ll make February seem welcome, even though it’s the lamest month of the year.

The stores are full of Valentine’s Day stuff now. Cookies in plastic bins that will be edible 3 weeks, the plastic frosting still yielding to the tooth, the plastic colored pink-and-red shards still as hard. At Target Wednesday night there was a hand-chalked sign that said “This is a special and wondrous time” and there were two balloons tied to the sign, one of which said Happy Birthday. We’re just lost.

I was making a check on the link health of the Gallery of Regrettable Food the other day. There’s a massive update coming, starting Friday, and I wanted to make sure the rest of the pages were good, and some of the horrible, wretched, idiotic design decisions I made a few years ago had been expunged. Oh Lord. I still remember the mantra I told myself: site-wide consistent navigation elements. I was right about that, but wrong about the implementation. There was one fatal piece of bad code that stunk up everything, and it’s been a long chore to chase it down.

Well, since we’re fixing things, let’s take a look at some other sites . . . ugh.

Okay, there’s a font problem in this subset of this subset of this site. That’s a half-hour of clicking. But it’s therapeutic, calming, and I listen to radio or podcasts. How about the main Institute interface . . . oy, haven’t updated it since 2014? Really? Fix.

Hey, there’s the Gobbler site. I know I did that a while back, and it’s fine. Let’s check.

Oh. Hmm. Last revised in 2008. Things have changed since then. The design worked for 2008, but not for today. Everything is centered now. Nothing hangs on the left side of the page.

So I redid the whole site. (Not yet posted; I'll give you a wave when it's up.)

This was the fourth time. In twenty years. Why? Because it’s an early piece of internet history. The Gallery and the Gobbler gave this site a boost and some Internet Cred a long time ago; a lot of people came here first through the Gobbler. Imagine if they got a jones to revisit the early days, googled, and whoa it’s not only still around it’s modernized and has more stuff.

One of these days I’ll go back.

Yes, I was there, before it closed. That’s why I have a napkin and a matchbook. Took a trip to Wisconsin with a girlfriend in 1984, and she wanted to stop at the Gobbler, and so we did. That’s why I have the brochure. If you’d told me that I would be working on a website about the place 35 years later I would have asked what a website was, and then I think I would have been delighted.

Really? That’s what I do in the future? Cool! What about the gi-

Never mind about her. Let’s just say you wore out your welcome. It doesn't matter. The Gobbler really doesn't matter either.

No, no. It does. It’s a place of a time, a spirit, a style, a moment. It matters. Why am I charged with keeping it alive on this internet if it doesn’t matter?

You’re right. You’ll see. It matters. But a lot of things matter more. The need to memorialize and capture and testify to the way things were, it’s going to fade. It’s going to seem somewhat . . . irrelevant? No. Outmatched by all the other options? Perhaps. But it’ll be your corner, your place, your spot, and you’ll find that old need to remember is renewed by habit. And it’ll go on, and on, and on.

It sounds like a job.

It’s not. But it is your calling.

Oh come on man

Your. Calling. Here’s the thing. The eighties?

The Eighties are rough! Reagan, recession, hard times -

When you look back, you’re going to love the Eighties.

Because the Nineties are worse?

No. It’s like this. You have the ability to look back and find the brightness. Anywhere. It’s not always correct. But it’s a necessary corrective.

To what?

In the future the clever people will think they’re better than everyone who ever lived, and that the present is the worst it could be, and the past was almost as bad in general and usually worse in specific. They only trust the future.

We are worried about the future. I saw Blade Runner. It rains a lot.

It’s not like that at all. No hovercars. No rain. No androids. Let me just say . . . you’ll be surprised.

Okay! Well, thanks for the chat.


Is everything else okay in the future?

It's a long story.









The Ninth Largest City in the state! Wikipedia says: "Alexander Fulton, a businessman from Washington County, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, received a land grant from Spain in 1785, and the first organized settlement was made at some point in the 1790s. In 1805, Fulton and business partner Thomas Harris Maddox laid out the town plan and named the town in Fulton's honor."

Alexandria is classier than Fulton, so good for everyone. Let's begin.



This is a big one. I haven’t much to say; the images speak for themselves. Let’s start with the bank: it’s nice.

If you’re thinking it was built all at once, look closer.

The original entrance has some Luzi-anna lattice:

The clock pins the building to the 50s, I think.


A 1977 newspaper ad: big modern addition that wasn’t too disrespectful to the original.




Now, the postcard view.

Today: kaboom.

If we swing to the left, we see that the loss of the theater block - whenever that happened - hollowed out commercial activity in the area.


Google street view shows a later perspective, which tells you it was either slated for redevelopment, or the metal sheets rotted and fell.


t’s like a geological study of sediment deposits:

Ah, the old signs abide.



Whenever it says “New York” and it’s not New York, it’s usually a sign of a cut-rate boutique.

The anti-street-life initiative seemed quite successful. And hey, trees! That will bring back shoppers. Trees!

Sometimes the lack of economic activity freezes eras in place - like this classic 30s storefront.


GEM. That’s what they sold.


Another dead retailer remembered by the senior set:


The rise and fall of independent small-to-medium downtown department stores is the most sorrowful story of late 20th century retail.

Of course, a municipal structure. It could only be that, or a bank.


Another fine example of the Rapacious Maw school of rehabbing; the weight suggests the late 60s or early 70s.


We’ll take their word for it:

As much as I love anything from this era, I’d have to say . . . a bit too many columns.

Originally made of light butter:


Original signage? I think so.

Postcard view:

From the satellite:

Finally, one of those testaments that downtown is vibrant, modern, alive! On the way up!

Sure, less rentable space - but more impractical rooms!

Have a look around, and give my regards to Alexandria.

That'll do - see you tomorrow. Oh! This again. I STILL can't pull down the audio files I need for her personal message, so that'll be the star of Detritus Friday if I get it working. Thanks!







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