Did the early Monday errand, out of duty: toilets needed fixing, so it was off to Home Depot.

There was a rope-line outside to facilitate the crowds.

There were no crowds.

On the other side of the door, a series of reminders:

Cover your sneezes, cover your coughs - man, if you have to be told at this point, there's no hope.

Inside no one had a mask. Perhaps it’s the burly spirit of the place, but it just seems peculiar these days when no one’s wearing a mask, and you can walk around . . . a store, and there’s someone sitting at a desk selling . . . appliances.

When I got in my car I noticed that the lot was actually quite full. So was the lot next door at Sam’s Club. Drove to Lunds, because as long as I’ve committed to an Exposure Day I’m going to cram in everything else for the rest of the week (not counting Wednesday’s no-contact no-indoors downtown walk around the empty streets.) Aside from the TP shelf being half-empty, it was normal, if a bit understocked. I mention that boring and obvious fact because you wouldn’t know it was understocked until you took an item, and there was only one or two behind it. Or none. That’s when I noticed that the store had at least a half-dozen clerks whose sole job consisted of moving merchandise to the front of the shelf.

Either to maintain the illusion of abundance, which was temporarily sullied, or to maintain a sense of order, or both.

Traffic was a bit heavier on the drive home. Passed the pet store; open, lot full, although there were other businesses in the complex. Restaurants open, but only to go, of course.

Point is . . . it was all vaguely normal. Except for the part about going to the big box store for toilet-tank repair parts instead of the local hardware store six blocks away. I felt chastened for not going local, but the store is small and cramped, and the Home Depot is spacious. You're damned right it was a factor.

Irrational, perhaps, but there it was, and I wasn't going to argue.

I'm sure that'll change quickly, right?

No lingering suspicions of smaller enclosed spaces. No, that'll pass.

And all the plastic barriers at the checkout counters will come down, too.

 

   

   
   

I think I enjoyed “The Mire” more than any other Netflix import I’ve seen in a while. Five episodes. It’s the most ridiculously cliched setup I’ve seen in a long time: a cynical, tired, wry, world-weary journalist who’s seen it all is ready to retire, but he gets saddled with one last story - and wouldn’t you know, he’s thrown in with an idealistic cocky young journalist who doesn’t care about anything except getting to the truth! The story - now, get this, it’s really out of left field - concerns a murder of a young woman, and even though it seems cut and dried to the authorities, it’s possible this might be a story that goes to the highest levels of power, and the well-connected and wealthy might to anything to keep the truth from coming out!

Did I mention that the investigation is thwarted by intermediate elements in the society who would prefer not to stir the hornet’s nest? And that there are elements of the demimonde who flit between the world of the powerful and the downtrodden, and the old wise cynical journalist knows both hookers and cops?

Let me add one other element you might not expect: in a strange way, it might relate back to a horror in the town’s history that many would prefer to forget.

In short: the most rote premise I’ve ever seen. I absolutely loved every single episode, and here’s why: It’s in Polish!

No, it’s more than that. It’s set in Poland during the Communist era, and that makes it fascinating - at least from an art direction point of view. Everything is grey, shabby, ersatz, gimcracked, with all these bizarre simulacra of Western styles. The Soviet tourist-facing architecture, the old-world flats, the 80s music that sounds like from an alternative universe where they could get the shape right but not the soul, and likewise the modernist touches that seem like misguided, earnest failures to ape the Western ideas.

Let's look at the shelf:

An Orbita fan? Look at that chonky thing. The can isd turnef to the site, perhaps because someone would say "no, that design wasn't used in 1985."

Let's go to the town's newspaper . . .

Inside:

The chief editor, not shown, has a Smith Corona. The newspaper office, I just realized, is the only location that seems to have any sun.

More of the newsroom. What interests you?

Right. What the hell is that thing?

A printer?

Hanging over this tired world, seeping into every seam, is the culture of Communism, with all its hoary hollow hortatory bullshit. What’s interesting is how nothing feels too paranoid or oppressive - it’s in the air, it’s built into everything, but there’s no Dreaded Gestapo or other manifestations of the police state. By this time it was just a matter of people shunted aside instead of shot outright, the mood seems to suggest.

One of my favorite elements is the flat of someone who’s connected and prosperous. It’s like a 70s apartment of a mid-level coke dealer in New York, more flash than taste.

It also has one of the creepiest villains I’ve seen on TV in a long while.

Five eps, as I said.

 

 

It’s 1962.

Absolutely nothing creepy about this series of ads at all, no sir.

Those Northern kids seemed so . . . knowing.

I don’t know enough about Philadelphia’s downtown to say for sure, but I don’t think it turned out like this.

This building . . .

I can’t find, and even if I did, eh. I will give it credit fro being ahead of its time, 1962 tall towers usually didn’t have that much glass.

Well, the thing is, Snoopy, it not only cracks and looks ugly, it gets hot as hell.

A reminder that Snoopy adverts were ubiquitous. They sold that dog to hawk a lot of stuff.

Call ahead for reservations, rather than just drive and hope you find a place? Was that how families did it?

Maybe the kids are running from a giant sea beast they just saw.

Big Pharma propaganda! Everyone knows drugs are inexpensive to develop, and they shouldn’t sell them for profit.

Doesn't say what it is; I'll bet it's a Miracle Drug, though.

YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF GLASS

Well, maybe nothing except grease and hair.

Muffy and Scooter liked to add a bit of yachting life to all their outings, and were also widely regarded as unbearable by a class of people everyone else found unbearable, so that’s saying something.

Downright smokable cigarettes? Will wonders never cease

The association of cigarettes with fruits was a clever touch, but Pall Mall was doomed, as filtered cigarette would so dominate the market that they were regarded as the default. Unfiltered cigarettes would be called as such.

1962 seems like a nice place to live, all things considered.

That'll do; enjoy your Tuesday. It's possible! Give it a shot.

 

 

 
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