There aren’t many beggars downtown. Not that I run into, anyway. But today a guy yelled me on the street for presuming he wanted money. Sorry. There are only two things he could have asked for:
If you want the second, you say “Excuse me, where’s the Government Center?” This happened yesterday, and I was delighted to assist. “Excuse me, which way is Nicollet?” Or perhaps “Hey, Marquette Avenue - this way or that?” State the purpose up front. It’s been my experience that people who need directions get to the word “where” with brisk speed.
But. If you are standing on the street corner with the intention of intercepting pedestrians, and begin with an oratorio describing how you need to talk about something, and the person you are attempting to stop says “No cash” - a truth! - then the absence of anything other than a request for directions means you were looking for money. Fine.
Perhaps I was wrong, and earned the tourist of racially-specific abuse I got, but I doubt it. A few yards past this guy was another man, perhaps twenty years older, leaning against a fence, drinking a beer from a paper sack. He simply held out an open palm as I passed, indicating the location of where I could put my money.
The first guy was still shouting at me when I passed the second guy.
I ran across a think piece that posed a lamentable development: Singapore’s prosperity threatens the old monuments of its idealistic past - the enormous testaments to the power of government and, in the author’s words, Socialism.
The architects of 1970s Singapore tried to build 'socialism that works.' What will be lost now their buildings are being demolished?
Buildings, I imagine.
Pearl Bank is just one of a number of iconic modernist buildings in Singapore marked for demolition. This is a disaster for multiple aesthetic, economic and environmental reasons. It also represents the annihilation of a unique vision. The destruction of the architecture goes hand in hand with the erasure of important political memories.
This is Pearl Bank.
This is another building from the same period, when the government embarked on an ambitious residential development program.
In March 2006, the Golden Mile Complex was described as a "vertical slum", "terrible eyesore" and "national disgrace" by Singapore Nominated Member of Parliament Ivan Png: "Each individual owner acts selfishly, adding extensions, zinc sheets, patched floors, glass, all without any regard for other owners and without any regard for the national welfare." The residents have also done over their balconies to create an extra room.
The young architects of the new state set to work obliterating the old ways of living.
Just the people you want to remake your city.
Tan Cheng Siong, the architect of Pearl Bank, had been given a job in the planning department aged twenty-two. He did not know what ‘planning’ was when he started; eight years later he had his own architectural practice.
The speed of converting the city to dense residential complexes required the usual egg-breaking:
Thousands of people were moved out of villages (Kampongs) and into something akin to army barracks. Colonial ideas about keeping the city of Singapore separate from its rural periphery were swept away: the entirety of Singapore was to be urbanised. It was a burst of visionary philistinism.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term before. I think the author hopes that “visionary” impresses us so much we give a pass to the philistinism.
Visionary is always awesome! The broader the better! Raze all the things!
‘It was an interesting challenge for young people like us, remembers Tan Cheng Siong, ‘I can remember thinking “very good, we are a free people now” but at the start we were so badly informed and had nothing to hang on to.’
He continues, ‘the neighbours, the community, the streets and the shops all these things were lost in some of the early apartments, but young people like me were rushing to fulfill our ambitions. Our parents were the ones that felt lonely every now and then.’
Because the city they knew had been razed, perhaps, and all the things that bind people to a place were flattened for Pearl Bank. But Pearl Bank was the solution, don’t you know.
Pearl Bank was designed to help address this social dislocation. Its horseshoe shape and curved corridors were designed as an antidote to what Tan Cheng Siong saw as the ‘anti-social’ long corridors of the slab blocks that had dominated the immediate years of post-independence construction.
Aesthetically, curved corridors are more attractive. If your apartment is on the inside, though, your view is a vast hive.
The kitchens faced inwards encouraging people to invite neighbours and passers-by ‘in for curried chicken.’
I’m not keen on people looking in the kitchen as they pass down the hall.
The twenty-seventh floor was given over to the community. There was a kindergarten and shops. ‘We never knew the power of architecture at the beginning,’ he remembers, ‘but the idea of creating permanent shelters to build family and community – I could see it was something special.’
Let’s just pause here and consider what they had invented: a permanent shelter that “built family.” How? It built community - I can see that, inasmuch as any collection of people will form a community. Whether it’s a healthy one is another matter. It had schools, and it had shops. In other words, they’d invented the Neighborhood! Before the construction, no one could shop or school their children, or meet their neighbors.
Anyway. Here’s the part that gives it away.
There’s another interesting political tension here. Despite the Singapore government’s authoritarianism, the rapidity of development made rigid oversight impossible and gave the post-independence generation of architects’ enormous freedom. The government might have banned Cliff Richard and long hair but to a degree they outsourced the opportunity to radically reshape the urban environment.
You couldn’t look how you wished or listen to what you wanted to hear, or even protest the destruction of your house, but hey: the government gave some architects free rein to design massive housing projects.
Today’s supporters of Singapore’s modernist architecture are also unlikely to have been supporters of the authoritarian brand of socialist development that inspired Pearl Bank. There are very good reasons for this. The drive for rapid industrialisation led to the suppression of free speech, political activism and independent trade unions. It was for these reasons that the People’s Action Party was kicked out of the Socialist International in 1976, the same year that Pearl Bank was completed. But it was also a socialism that for a generation rapidly promoted working people and their concerns.
In the very next sentence, he writes:
Housing like Pearl Bank was built to service the needs of upwardly mobile families in the city centre as slums were cleared.
Gentrification is great, if it’s socialism-flavored.
More shots here, by someone who respects and admires the building.
Welcome to the post-war period, not yet nifty or fifties:
“Bingo Ban Irks Catholics” - there’s a sign of times gone by.
What pops out to modern eyes? Not the Hungarian situation. That’s been dealt with. Not Acheson flaying the Reds over some spurious BS charge. No, it’s this:
If you haven't heard the story, it's very hush-hush and confidential, as poor Sid would spritz.
On September 1, 1948, after a string of successful films for RKO, Mitchum and actress Lila Leeds were arrested for possession of marijuana. The arrest was the result of a sting operation designed to capture other Hollywood partiers as well, but Mitchum and Leeds did not receive the tipoff. After serving a week at the county jail (he described the experience to a reporter as being "like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff"), Mitchum spent 43 days at a Castaic, California, prison farm. Life photographers were permitted to take photos of him mopping up in his prison uniform.
The conviction was later overturned by the Los Angeles court and district attorney's office on January 31, 1951, after being exposed as a setup.
Whether despite, or because of, Mitchum's troubles with the law and his studio, his films released immediately after his arrest were box-office hits.
What of Lila Leeds?
Considered a Lana Turner look-alike, Leeds was 20 years old and engaged to Turner's ex-husband Stephen Crane at the time of her arrest. Cheryl Crane, Turner and Stephen's daughter, wrote that Leeds first tried marijuana with members of Stan Kenton's orchestra and that she was introduced to heroin while in jail. After Leeds was arrested, Stephen Crane fled to Europe rather than become entangled in scandal.
Cheryl Crane pops up here? Man, this really is a Confidential tale. She’s the kid who popped Johnny Stomp when he laid into her mom.
Cheryl Christina Crane (born July 25, 1943) is an American retired real estate broker and author. She is the only child of actress Lana Turner, from her marriage to actor-turned-restaurateur Steve Crane, her second husband. She was the subject of significant media attention when, at fourteen years old, she killed her mother's lover, Johnny Stompanato, during a domestic struggle; she escaped charges, and his death was deemed a justifiable homicide.
Anyway, Lila Leeds’ career never came back. As for the others, like Vickie Evans:
In a police deposition, Leeds accused her roommate Vicki Evans of being a police informer, and said that Mitchum was framed for the offense. Leeds said she and her roomate often smoked reefers together but Evans refused to smoke them on the day of the bust, and she was the one who let police in.
Evans (real name: Florence Fidele of East End, Pittsburgh) denied the charge two days later in the same paper, calling it "silly." Neither Evans nor bartender Robin Ford, who brought Mitchum to the scene of the "crime," were tried for the incident.
And off into the shadows of history they strolled, unremarked upon ever after.
That’s a nice story:
She was a clerk in a Berlin bookstore when the Allies rolled in. Her family fortune was gone, and she’d been released from a Gestapo prison after four years.
His son had the same name, and also served in the military.
Ida Lupino was quite the talent:
Her first directing job came unexpectedly in 1949 when director Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and could not finish Not Wanted, a film Lupino co-produced and co-wrote. Lupino stepped in to finish the film, but did not take directorial credit out of respect for Clifton. Although the film's subject of out-of-wedlock pregnancy was controversial, it received a vast amount of publicity, and she was invited to discuss the film with Eleanor Roosevelt on a national radio program.
Perhaps not well known at the time - I really don’t know - she got polio from a Hollywood swimming pool in 1943. Ended her acting career, but her other career began.
||Man, slip this under your more-things-change-etc file.
Norman’s, for . . . what?
A laundry or dry-cleaners. I suspect the ad was sold to whoever wanted to run it and have their name added.
Apostrophes cost extra.
The evening entertainment schedule.
Many eps the shows survive. We have Mr. Chameleon, but only two episodes. Same with Scattergood Baines.
Note who's on the air on WLS at 10 PM. To think his show used to run at the end of mine.
We don’t talk about the perils of Expressionism as much any more:
Finally, the cartoon.
Forgotten, so let's change that:
The Bell Syndicate launched Life's Like That on October 1, 1934. It ran until 1941, disappearing from newspapers during World War II, but returning in 1945.
In 1951, Neher and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he taught cartooning at the University of Colorado for 12 years.
Neher stopped doing the Life's Like That Sunday half-page in October 1972, and he retired five years later, devoting his energy to playing golf, raising roses and growing tomatoes. When he died at age 98 in Boulder, Colorado in 2001, Owen S. Good wrote in the Rocky Mountain News:
“He is survived by pot-bellied businessmen, henpecked husbands, worldly-wise goldfish and babies with thin curlicues of hair, all actors in the everyday comedies he staged on the funny pages.”
Along with a hundred other guys now consigned, uncollected, to the fiche.
The street on which he lived was renamed in his honor.
This was his view.
That'll do; enjoy the update, and I'll see you around.