Hope you had a good weekend. Mine was mostly free of any fungoo; I believe this is the most effective use of zinc to decoldify myself, ever. The cold limped away, discouraged and surly, before it could make me congested. A really good anti-cold cure will make you wonder if you really had one.
Had the final concert for the Minnesota Youth Symphonies on Sunday; the end of my 22nd season. The kids in the orchestra my first year hit 40 this year. And I feel no older, really. That’s the terrifying part: you mean I’m going to just be the same forever? No moment where wisdom and peace settle in, and all is revealed, and the parts click together with the satisfying schnick of a completed Rubik’s cube? And is schnick really the right sound? Should I be listening for something much softer, or wetter? Tell me O Swami
Which reminds me: I think we have seen the end of two tropes that infested single-panel cartoons for decades: 1. The bearded man sitting on top of a mountain, containing wisdom, answering a query posed by someone who has hiked up the cliff to seek enlightenment, and 2. The hairy guy with a sandwich board that says The End is Near. Maybe a sign on a stick. Neither means much to anyone today.
Babbling already; fine start to the week.
I had a chuffing intermittent motor on my vacuum cleaner. It’s a Dyson. I love it. Cordless, light, the antithesis of the vacuum cleaner experience. But it started pulsing, as the internet description has it. Obstruction was the likely culprit. But nothing was blocked. I took it apart, cleared everything. Still: Whoosh INHAKE Whose INHALE and so on.
When I had an Oreck - that’s the other cult - I took the vacuum cleaner to be repaired, and it was all upsell upsell. It worked, too; I almost felt as I had to acknowledge the salesman’s still. The Dyson store, like the Oreck store, was in a strip mall. The vibe was different. We are a new paradigm. We also have special fans.
The tech was named Jim, and he had seen this all before: many a customer has come complaining of Pulsing. I explained that I had eliminated the head, the pipe, and the motor unit, and was flummoxed. Ah, he said: if it’s not the intake trap, it’s . . . the filter.
Can’t be! I washed it!
Ah, but washing can solidify the subatomic particles, you see. He opened it up and shook out some fine powder, then took it in the back to pressure-clean it. I was impressed and grateful, and told him I would give him the maximum number of stars on Yelp. He smiled and nodded and probably thought oh, they all say that.
Back on the highway, off to work. As I was heading up north on 35W I checked my speed, and noted something interesting: I had no gas. When was the last time I filled up
Oh gosh. The light was on, too. The needle was long past E. I knew there was a station on 46th, so I got right off and had a nervous minute at the intersection, thinking how stupid it would be to run out here. How stupid it would be to run out anywhere. Did the gas station even have a gas can I could use? It has a convenience store, but did they sell gas cans? I couldn’t use a gallon milk jug, because that wasn’t an Approved Container, and even if it was I would be certain to contaminate the gas with the milk. Then again, do we know for certain that cars wouldn’t like milk? Buy some skim. It’s a lean mixture.
I made it to the station, and groused at myself because it’s not the brand where I get a grocery store discount. Full price, $2.79 a gallon. That’s almost 70 cents more than it was a month ago, because the refineries shut down to switch to summer blends.
From anxiety to irritation, from gratitude to annoyance, in less than a minute.
OH GOD I’M GOING TO STALL to JAYBUS PRIEST THOSE FARGIN’ CALIFORNIA BLENDS RUIN EVERYTHING
This isn't a review. It rarely is. We're just looking at images, cliches, phrases, faces, and the like.
IT'S THE DEPRESSION
Type-wise, that's about as 1931 as 1931 got:
Wikipedia says Kubeec was "an American screenwriter from Poland." Blonde Crazy was his third movie.
Rotten Tomatoes tells a Hollywood story:
At a time when the studios were struggling to make almost everything connected with talking pictures work, and work well, Glasmon, in partnership with his 15-year-younger, American-born contemporary John Bright, authored screenplays for such successful movies as The Public Enemy, Taxi!, and Blonde Crazy at the outset of the 1930s.
Kubec Glasmon was born in Rocioz, Poland, in 1889, to a Jewish family that later emigrated to the United States. He studied dentistry and pharmacy, and it was as a pharmacist in Hollywood that he hired a young John Bright to work the soda fountain. The two began writing crime stories together and had their first success when Warner Bros. transformed their story Beer and Blood into The Public Enemy
He did two or three a year until 1938, then died at the age of 40. Heart attack. Bright was blacklisted for Red activities, fled to Mexico, and lived until 1989.
This will be important later:
Well, will you look at that: the guy at the desk.
Lane was born Charles Gerstle Levison to a Jewish family in San Francisco, California. His father, an executive at the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, was instrumental in rebuilding San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake of which Charles was one of the last remaining survivors.
Despite his stern, hard-hearted demeanor in most of his film and television roles, friends and acquaintances have unanimously described Lane as a warm, funny and kind person.
He died in 2007 at the age of 102 at his home during a conversation with his son. He opened his eyes wide, the story goes, then closed them and stopped breathing. Just moved along.
Of course, this is what everyone came to see. Besides Cagney. Modern girls!
But she's not the main attraction. That would be Joan Blondell, who plays the crooked-but-decent gal with whom Cagney teams up to rook the swells.
In 1931, swell-rooking was in vogue with a large part of the audience.
Louis Calhern. Great go-to guy for cold charm and devious, amoral actions.
Why YES it is pre-Code:
I've no idea how many Americans had showers in 1931. But I know from the ads that this was the height of luxury - a bathtumb built-in to the wall with STEPS? Like royalty.
See? They're coming up in the world!
It's a bustling place, too, full of hard-edged types in white hats, and if your knowledge of the early 30s consists entirely of breadline photos, you may be surprised to see that economic activity is still going on.
Just not enough of it.
Two more things. One: a late-night chase gives us some inadvertant documentary.
That doesn't tell me anything. How about this:
Pardee Drugs. That helps: there was one at Wishire and LaBrea, and it was a two story building with a neon sign on the roof. I'm pretty sure this is it.
You know, I'll bet this is all on IMDB. Now I feel stupid.
Well, we learn by doing. Another shot:
Ah, that nails it.
It's another building at the corner of Wilshire and LaBrea, and early photos have the sign with the words you see above.
Here's the thing: if you know the commercial vernacular of the era and location, the words jump right out. If you don't, it takes a bit more work.
This applies to about 96% of everything.
Last point: supposedly this is the first movie - or perhaps the only one - where Cagney said you dirty double-crossing rat. I missed it. But perhaps this is it.
Making cinema history, with his back turned.
That'll do; here we go for another week, and I hope it rewards your visits.