May have warned of a scant week - well, the ancient prophecies are coming true! I am up to my neck in deadlines, this being the very rare Six Piece Week. And what a zesty farrago of topics - two columns, a TV / podcast contribution, an obit, a piece on pet-food shelves, and an urban-studies piece on the skyways after everyone goes back to work. So I’m busy.

It’s good to be busy, and it was particularly good to be busy at work. I have to pinch myself sometimes and think “this is not normal, the world is not normal, this is not the New Normal, it is the Ongoing Abnormality,” but when you get your traditional Wednesday pizza in the skyway and later talk to a supervisor in the office, it has the vestiges of normal. I think that’s how this works: an accumulation of vestiges until they cohere into the old ways again.

The other fun thing is my stupid bleeping laptop, the worst MacBook I’ve never owned. The keys. Oh it’s so fantastic they’re so thin! I was always typing away thinking “these disgusting fat keys that stick up 1/16th of an inch, if only there was something svelte that had keys that were just 1/32nd high! Where’s my ultra-thin needlessly nonresponsive keyboard and my flying car!!!” The stupid keyboard tends to break under conditions we will call “normal use,” and in my case it’s the space bar that has gone dead. I did an interview today and the entire five-minute conversation was one word, like Latin in Roman times.

I swear I’ve written this before, and used the Latin reference, because this has happened before to the keyboard. I’m sure I wondered why the Romans didn’t bother with spaces between words. It seems like one of those things someone might have started using, and everyone was appreciative and hoisted him up on their shoulders and paraded down the Via - huzzah for Maximus Spacius, cleverest scribe of them all!

Then we go back in the time machine and discover that Romans spoke very quickly and ran all their words together, and ah hah, now it makes sense.

Anyway, that’s the deal with today. Except for everything else below.



Not a whiskey review, but a label / image review.

I used to end every day at the office in DC with a Jim Beam down at Smith & Wollensky’s bar. I have no feelings about the brand one way or the other, and I’ve no idea why I drank it then, other than I liked asking for it. Why not Black Jack? That’s what Sonny Crockett drank! And we all wanted to be like Sonny Crockett, without the part where everyone important to him died.


Maybe I was following the lead of Surly, one of our more colorful and bearded old-line reporters. My age or thereabouts but a throwback, in all the good senses of the word.

But Jack and Jim felt a little raw. Probably because they were.

Anyway, it’s okay. It’s fine! I heartily endorse this bourbon whiskey as FINE. The label, though, is quite good, because it pops off the shelf and avoids the faux-old-tymey typefaces that have infested the bourbon shelf.

It’s not as good as Wild Turkey, which I recently learned was better than I thought - and yes, I thought that when it was my first sip of the evening, not the nineteeth. I don’t like the bottle and I don’t like the name. I suppose I should, since it’s a venerable brand, but the label is generically Modern But Traditional.

No, really, it’s good. It’s my Tuesday pour now, since I inaugurated Tuesday brown hooch as a means of distinguishing the lockdown days. Those days are coming to an end, and this has led me to throw away nearly everything I had adopted to give structure to the Duration.

Really. I've noticed that all the little indulgences and what-the-heck things no longer seem justifiable. They were good for a harsh day in March when no one knew what the hell was going to happen.








As I said last week: you know what they say: as Falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls. Over 100 thousand souls. Fun tourist note: "A flood in 1886 destroyed the original falls on the Wichita River for which the city was named. After nearly 100 years of visitors wanting to visit the nonexistent falls, the city built an artificial waterfall beside the river in Lucy Park. 

More Wichita Falls. I must have really gone clip-crazy, or there was a lot of stuff, or both, or who cares.

Bygone swankiness - nice little sign for what appeared to be a parking garage entrance.

Some of these shots say Sunday, or pandemic times - either way, there’s a depressing sterility you only get with expired modern architecture.

the sight of a colored building makes you wonder why there aren't more.



It has a certain impressive heft, and no doubt was intended to suggest Your Money is Safe Here, but it seems a bit too much, like a roided-up bouncer for a nursing home.


Ah. That’s better.

The Hamilton Building.



During construction of the Hamilton Building in the late 1920's, Mr. W. B. Hamilton had the two top floors of the building designed and specifically built for the Wichita Club. The Hamilton Ballroom was once used as a lounge and dance floor as part of that exclusive club and still retains many of the original features. The Library which is adjacent to the Ballroom is also available for small functions or for additional seating or food presentation for larger events. This intimate room with a stone fireplace was once used by the city's elite for conducting business meetings and for gathering to share news of the day.

The height of urban swank, once:

Now the lights are off and it looks like someone dropped a neutron bomb in 1966.

Nice! Really. Airy.

But a city needs only one or two of these.

Thin brick rehab for a bar, perhaps.

Can’t explain the curves in the boards; not a camera glitch. An old citizen in the last sad years; can’t imagine anyone would spruce it up -


Nice little contrast here: one of these buildings thought it was so solid and impressive . . .

But it’s the neighbor’s light modernism that made it look elegant after its vogue had passed. Right? At least from this angle.

The rest of the building is not good. It seems vise-clamped together and feels like it’s about to explode from tension.

Rather charmless and indifferent mauling here. Those windows must have been nice on a fall twilight when the store was still open.

Empty; you assume the sign would come down if a new tenant showed up. Or it would be painted and reused.

They did love painting that brick, didn’t they.

Either tectonic forces or Google camera slicing edited the name.

A lot of names for such a modest project. Can't blame them.

“No one’s coming here to stay. How about I order a new sign that’s 350% bigger?

This is a mystery.

Old building gutted to make that open area? Or was it always open, and used for something automotive related? I’ve seen those deep cuts on car-related storefronts before, and the driveway would seem to suggests that’s the case -

Except that the driveway is new.

You know this was built with public money.

I mean, maybe not, but it has the look of a civic structure. And nicely done - you usualy don't see that Spanish Baroque style.


No argument here:


Reportedly the result of a fraudulent investment scheme by a confidence man, the Newby–McMahon Building was a source of great embarrassment to the city and its residents after its completion in 1919. During the 1920s, the Newby–McMahon Building was featured in Robert Ripley's Ripley's Believe It or Not! syndicated column as "the world's littlest skyscraper," a nickname that has stuck with it ever since. The Newby–McMahon Building is now part of the Depot Square Historic District of Wichita Falls, a Texas Historic Landmark.

The story, which may be apocryphal, is hilarious: apparently investors poured money into his project, thinking it would be 480 feet tall, never noticing that the blueprints said no such thing. They said 480, yes, but in inches.

That'll do; Friday awaits. But wait! There's more!







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