One of those days where you don’t see any good reason not to walk around the skyways listening to Bobby Hackett. Not Buddy. I don’t have Buddy Hackett routines on demand on my phone, and it’s likely no one in the world does. That’s what YouTube is for. That sudden urge to see a Buddy Hackett routine while you’re walking through a tube suspended above the sidewalk. BOBBY. The trumpet & cornet player. The guy on all the Gleason albums. He’s amazing. When he appears it’s like the moment your plane breaks through the clouds and you see the world all bright and blue.

I used to think this stuff was schmaltzy elevator music, and I suppose to some it is. Maybe Des Moines Me does.

Who? Wait. I was talking about the skyway walk. I’m doing a piece in defense of the skyways - it needs to be said, because there is a small band of vandals who want them taken down, and while that’ll never happen, they moan every time a new one is proposed, and try to guilt the skyway citizens for not bundling up and striding around the streets making everything Bustling and Vibrant.

It was Monday and it was 3 above and everything looks like January and everything has looked like January since December and everyone has the thousand-yard-stare - or perhaps the thousand-yard-squint, since the wind is trying to get into your eyeballs and turn them hard as marbles. Once we get inside, though, you can open your eyes all the way after 30 seconds, after you wipe your eyes, which are streaming with tears. By the way you touched a door handle so you just gave yourself a cold.

Or, you can take the skyways! Cafes, stores, scents of bread and pizza and coffee. The old Venice analogy works - each skyway leads to a different island with its own culture. Lacks only a church and a cistern, like all the islands of Venice have, but you could consider the elevator a type of church, albeit a literal one without a spiritual philosophy.

I found so much stuff I’ll have to wait until a slack day to show you. Yes: after all these years, I found something I’d never seen.

Here’s something else I didn’t see.


If you remember last Friday, I mentioned a big sound-baffling thing was under construction at the atrium in my building. It was like an umbrella, with much more elaborate struts and bracing, and hung from the ceiling four floors above.

Today: nothing. No sign it was ever there.

Did I step into an alternative universe for a while? I was talking with Wife last night about how my life might have been different if I'd gone to the U of I instead of M, how I might have ended up in Des Moines, which is like Minneapolis except not as interesting or attractive. (Sorry.) In some incrementally different universe, I'm probably there, and write for the Nation, or the Nation Review, or Review of the Nations, and old people tell me I remind them of Donald Kaul. But that would mean I got crankier as I got older. Maybe Iowa Me is cranky as hell, because he suspects Minneapolis Me is enjoying life more.

And when I don't, I listen to some Buddy Hackett.

That guy's hilarious.










I’ve seen more opening credits than movies; it’s not even close. I’ll gladly watch the opening for a movie I have no desire to see, just because the art of the credits is an interesting genre. Right? Bond title credits, that’s just the start. The golden age ended . . . when, well, can’t say. At some point we even got sick of Pink Panther credits, because they seemed as tired as the movies themselves. I found a clever example the other day and figured I'd share it with you. Found it on YouTube, copied the embed code, gave it no thought . . . until I watched it.

What the hell is this?

Wait, Ollie Johnston? He was one of the Nine Old Men, the great Disney animators. My eye stopped there and went back, and sure enough they're all animators. Even T. Hee.

Okay hold on here.

The movie is "Bullwhip Griffin," and yes, it's based on a book by Al. So that's correct.

Okay, some kid’s screwing around.


I realized I'd jumped ahead to the credits, and skipped the stuff that came before.

It's all very odd. Find the spot where you'd first say "hold on. Hold on a minute here."

I bring it up for two reasons: 1, the movie itself, which bored me because I'm not 11, but I did have to smile at this:

That's an excellent fake. Except for the price. They went for a nickle.

2. This strange, distorted, mauled version is the top search result for "bullwhip griffin credits."

Trust nothing.

(Unless you hear it from Des Moines Me)


Remember this feature? We never met Bela Lanan himself. We never will.

This was a daily feature, with the solution on Saturday. We'll do it the way they did it then - one entry per day, with the expectation that you'll be following the story.

Every day, with the solution on Friday.




Back to the 1896 Clothing magazine. In a decade and a half advertising would look completely different - sophisticated, evocative, alluring, suggestive. But in 1896 . . .


Brass, so your help always has something to polish.


  Did they nail them down?


I can’t find this facililty

. . . but there are a few industrial ruins in Norwich, and they’re spectacular.

And sad, as well. At least they're not pumping cyanide into the river anymore, so there's that.

There’s quite a bit going on here.

I’m confused by the “Fac-simile of tip in our McKinley hats,” and have no idea what it means.

What I call the Omega Man typeface:

Or, if you wish, the Godfather typeface. It was quite popular back then, even though it looks as if it could prick your skin and draw blood.

Not a bit creepy at all:

It’s the mechanism that perplexes me. Perhaps it made the figurines maintain a particular posture. What’s interesting is how it was meant to be concealed, but they felt compelled to add ornamentation nevertheless.

A remarkable piece of marketing:

Let’s look at some details.

The character, known to all - I assume - is the proto-comic character, the Yellow Kid.

Ugly litle thing, wasn't he.

The Yellow Kid was the name of a lead American comic strip character that ran from 1895 to 1898 in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, and later William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. Created and drawn by Richard F. Outcault in the comic strip Hogan's Alley (and later under other names as well), it was one of the first Sunday supplement comic strips in an American newspaper, although its graphical layout had already been thoroughly established in political and other, purely-for-entertainment cartoons.[1] Outcault's use of word balloons in the Yellow Kid influenced the basic appearance and use of balloons in subsequent newspaper comic strips and comic books.

The Yellow Kid's image was an early example of lucrative merchandising and appeared on mass market retail objects in the greater New York City area such as "billboards, buttons, cigarette packs, cigars, cracker tins, ladies' fans, matchbooks, postcards, chewing gum cards, toys, whiskey and many other products".[16] With the Yellow Kid's merchandising success as an advertising icon, the strip came to represent the crass commercial world it had originally lampooned.

Only lasted three years, but the term “yellow journalism” still has a faint hold on the modern vernacular.


. . . but there are a few industrial ruins in Norwich, and they’re spectacular.

And now, the thing: As i said, Daughter has sent the picture, but I am two days behind sending out the link, because I got ambituous. Everyone who contributed, or does contribute, will get a link to a little members-only site. It's not a big deal. But it's something!


Give me a few days to build it out a bit. It'll have previews of all the sites to come - and there are so many, dear Lord there are so many. It will have some old bygone sites that fell off, and I'm even considering a novel serialization of the current 1920s mystery I'm working on. More on this tomorrow.

Anyway, it's an opportunity to throw a few bucks at the site once, or recurringly, like a subscription for something that appears every day laden with random junk of marginal interest!

Let me work on that sales pitch and get back to you. Also, I need to get an audio file from her, and for some reason she's busy. Something called "Carnivale," which apparently is some little party Brazil throws.

See you around, and thank you for your patronage & patience.






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