Downtown report: still vacant. As I was driving in I got an alert that said some men were fighting on the Mall at 6th, which bookended the alert I got the last time I left downtown; it said men were fighting on the Mall at 9th. Took them three days to go three blocks, I guess.

I see these reports all the time and never see any of the action; when I’m walking around, it’s calm. Or empty But I stay at the top of the Mall, not the bottom, because I guess that’s where the hoopleheads congregate. There’s a Target there, and the Target policy towards shoplifters - basically, go ahead, but eventually we won’t let you in the store anymore - encourages them to swirl around the area, I presume. If you have a store that says “you’d better not steal! But no one will stop you” then all manner of miscreants will appear, much the way green-bellied flies appear on a loaf of dog waste mere seconds after its excretion.

But it’s okay around my building. That crazy stuff, that’s two, three blocks away.

Went to the Hot Dog stand because it’s Monday, and for the first time thought: What if he’s closed? But there he was. Vienna Beef on a seeded roll. Since Thanksgiving is coming up, we talked about how awful turkey hot dogs are. He doesn’t sell them. Won’t sell them. A man who sells Rolexes doesn’t sell Timex LED watches with calculator buttons.

There’s a different sense to downtown, now that winter has come, or is imminent. In the spring, the sense was shock. In the summer, the sense was endurance, with something better around the corner - not next week, perhaps not the next after that, but surely the next after that. Now it feels like this is permanent. Hard to describe or explain, and there’s certainly no outward evidence of it; no more, or fewer people around. Perhaps it’s just resignation. Or me projecting on everyone else.

As for yesterday’s questions about the who-where-why of the outbread, well, ask and ye shall contract:

Restaurants, religious organizations, hotels, motels, doctors’ offices, cafes, and grocery stores have been found to be responsible for roughly 80 percent of all novel coronavirus infection transmissions, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Stanford University, Northwestern University, and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

)It’s based on cell-phone data so I’m sure it’s bulletproof. The link for “grocery stores” goes to a piece called “Coronavirus Has Exposed The Weaknesses Of America's Supply Chains.” It’s dated April 2020. The supply chain turned out to be pretty good, aside from a few hiccups and diversions. The linked article - mind you, the link says “grocery stores” - does not mention grocery stores.)

So it makes sense that Philadelphia has prohibited “indoor gatherings including people from more than one household in private spaces.” Also known as “three guys getting together to watch the football game.” No one can go to the office if they can work remotely, even if there’s no one else there, but you can go to the beauty salon for however long it takes.

It cannot be enforced; it will not be enforced, except for the times when it is enforced, making the entire enterprise look slapdash and arbitrary.

Remember the line about Prohibition? It legitimized lawbreaking. People thought the law was unjust, ignored it in private, perhaps uttered pieties about it in public.

So I did something tonight that would be BANNED IN PHILLY: went to the Giant Swede’s house to watch football, with the Crazy Uke - whose nickname may be readjusted to the Herculean Uke, for reasons that will remain tantalizingly untold.

I guess whatever happens, I got it coming to me.




I watched a documentary called “What We Left Behind.” It’s about Deep Space Nine. I think I had a smile on my face that extended from ear to ear through the whole thing. It really was like no other Star Trek show, and bested them all in many ways. You don’t care, unless you do, so why am I mentioning this?

There was a scene when they were interviewing Nana Visitor about a projected plot, where her character would have an affair with Gun Dukat.

A: I am not a fan of the plots where Opposites Attract, or characters are thrown together into an affair for the sake of stirring things up. But it happens.

B: Major recalled how she was appalled by the idea, and rightly so; her character loathed Dukat, one of the great charismatic villains of TV. But when she described her distaste . . . she used the actor’s name, not the character’s name.

Whereupon someone said “don’t you mean you wouldn’t do those scenes with Dukat,” and she said yes, of course, can we redo the question?

They left it in. Just to let us know.

When we finally see the actor who played Gul Dukat, he’s dressed in jeans and a workshirt, sitting on the sofa with other actors, but he seems apart. He has his long legs up on the table - no one else does - and he’s looking down into a glass of brown liquid, which could possibly be a good Scotch.

He’s interviewed later alone, and there’s this broad pride and unexpected defiance as he recounts his hard path to TV, and how this role was the best thing he ever got.


He’s right. It was the best thing he ever got, and nothing that came after ever matched it. You get the feeling that no one really liked him. He was also absolutely fantastic in the role.

Then again, so was everyone else.

I had no reason to feel bad for the man. But I did.





The science is in!

Believe the science! But what is it?


It’s polish. Science has determined the best polish for talking machines.

Tony address, the Marbridge.


A lot of people are switching from formal summer dancing to something more apt for the hot, humid, fly-infested, sweaty months:

As you can tell, this comes from a trade journal, since it’s telling merchants to make a swing to pushing these expensive devices.

Player pianos for homes of moderate means, where small children can pretend they know what they’re doing:





And where everyone's a bit bored by it all, it seems.


One of the largest piano makers in the country. “Inner Piano” was a player-piano. All that seems to survive is a single office / manufacturing facility, which is now condos.Just don’t buy that cylinder that has the end of the 1812 Overture, is our suggestion.


Sooth jangled, shell-shocked nerves with warbling of song-extruding men vaulting their reedy tenor over wavering brass bands.

Another Marbridge tenant has a remarkable new technological innovation:



“Dear, won’t you get up and switch needles? I would fain to play something quiet.”

Google searches turned up a lot of silverware with the Brilliantone name. The ebay searches turned up packages that said “Bragshaw’s Brilliantone,” and that turned up something more interesting. They still exist. They make pins. Of course they do.


Does this ring any bells?

Another company that’s still with us - although you may know them from their guitars. “Fred” Gretsch, because Fred was actually Friederick, a German immigrant, and, well, that hadn’t been too popular the last few years. Although I may be wrong - his son ran the business, and his son was named Fred, according to the company’s website. Don’t know if that was wartime adjustment or not.

Good Lord: it’s like looking at a 1972 photo of an enormous 8-track factory. That’s a hell of a big site for a tech that would be doomed in ten years.

Nothing on the spot today.

More on the company, here. As for the name:

While advertisements would later suggest that the three letters stood for “Quality Real Service,” the actual origin of the name Q-R-S remains something of a mystery. One theory is that the mail department at the Melville Clark Company was overrun with roll orders, filed under “R,” and that workers had to utilize the adjacent “Q” and “S” pigeon holes on either side. Another article in a company bulletin in 1918 (suggesting the origin of the name had already been lost by that point) guessed that maybe the letters had been a reference to “arousing people’s Q-R-oSity.”

And here you go.


Tempo’s a bit too fast, but I think it rattles along at happy pace.


That'll do; Webby awaits.






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