I can’t find my belt. I have one belt, and it is reversible, the man’s equivalent of those 3-in-1 shampoo / conditioner / soap products. I wish I had a pair of reversible shoes, but that’s asking too much.

There are only so many places the belt could be, and all are contained within the walls of this house. Another search is in order, I guess. But since I needed one today, I grabbed one of my wife’s. She has about 30 belts. It went under a sweater, and was just a standard belt - no rhinestones! - so it wasn’t like I was taking a walk on the wild side.

The Wednesday Review of Modern Thought will return. Hasn’t gone away; I’ve had a few of them, but they lacked the relevant graphic that warned of incoming screedyness. It’s all a matter of finding myself in that spun-up mood, and I’ve been avoiding that. Not tamping it down, but not jumping on the treadmill. Part of this is . . . self-care! There’s the term. And oh how I hate it.

In the previous adult culture they had another way of saying “self-care,” and it was “cocktail hour.” When you read the novels and stories of the poets of East Coast exurbia you’re struck by the amount of dinner-time drinking. A quick one before you got on the train, another when you came through the door to dinner, then the friends came over and everyone had more cocktails and ate canapés on TV dinner trays and smoked and gossiped. And then they had dreadful rows and infidelity.

The closest I ever got to that was DC. The newsroom shut down at 6 and everyone went down to Wollensky’s and drank. One before the Metro trip. All right, two. It was loud and fun and intensely social, and aided the sense of the shared mission of the bureau. You drained your drink, tottered out a bit spifflicated, headed home for supper and TV and a book and the bed.

The last few times I was in DC I went back to the building where I worked. In those days it was, to use the tired word of the urbanists, Vibrant. Located at George Washington University - soon, I’m sure, to be renamed, lest the foul inky stain of history seep into the tender souls of the students - the office building was constructed behind a series of ancient commercial structures, with a courtyard that bore the regrettable ideas of 80s interior courts. But it bustled. Tower Records on one ends, Tower Video on the other, a pricey fish restaurant for the expense-account crowd, a big sit-down Italian joint, Wollensky’s for hooch and meat, a newsstand run by a thin old guy named Howard who knew everyone by name, a shoeshine stand, Au Bon Pain, a Gap, little shops and kiosks. It was a great place to work, and the population was half office workers and half students. A world unto itself.

The last few visits were grim. The landmark burger joint, the Red Lion, was gone. The fish restaurant closed years before, but the sign was still up. There was a CVS: what a surprise. Can’t have enough of those.

Okay nevermind the “oh woe are my memories.” It’s the idea of the post-work belt. It’s been on the wane for years in the office class, right? But COVID and remote working and the permanent establishment of working from home will eliminate it entirely, and people in the future will look at “Mad Men” scenes of crowded bars and restaurants full of commuters grabbing a brief moment of self-care, and marvel: you know, that . . . that looks like fun. Not every night.

But now and then? If only.

Anyway, self-care, no screeds, right. I don’t listen to the talk radio show I used to listen to, because . . . I just don’t. I’m tired of being REALLY ANNOYED BY MANY THINGS BETWEEN 11:05 AM AND 11:45. Used to stomp to the office chewing over the Great Things that Vex and Trouble A Man, and now I have this anodyne distanced ambient music playing. It seems far more apt for the deserted world. Today I was walking around the lobby - all the sofas around the fireplace are roped off, lest people sit and exchange Covid, and the fireplace is cold. There was a promotional video playing on the monitors. Time-lapse photography of flowers and seeds growing. The music was straight-up elevator music from the late 60s.

I thought: I am Dave Bowman.

Considering what happened to everyone else on the ship, could be worse.






It’s 1920. Not the most peaceable or settled time. Post-pandemic, with domestic strife.

"U. S. Security Risk Firings." Lots of people canned for Red sympathies. Two thousand had “subversive” materials in “their files,” which I assume were their personality dossiers. Five grand resigned before the hammer came down.

Is this another demand? This paper’s awfully pushy.


Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was not messing around.



K. Mountian Landis had another job: he was . . .

. . . the first Commissioner of Baseball from 1920 until his death. He is remembered for his handling of the Black Sox scandal, in which he expelled eight members of the Chicago White Sox from organized baseball for conspiring to lose the 1919 World Series and repeatedly refused their reinstatement requests. His firm actions and iron rule over baseball in the near quarter-century of his commissionership are generally credited with restoring public confidence in the game.

But back to the Reds.

On September 5, 1917, federal officers raided the national headquarters, in Chicago, of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, sometimes "Wobblies"), as well as 48 of the union's halls across the nation. The union had opposed the war and urged members and others to refuse conscription into the armed forces. On September 28, 166 IWW leaders, including union head Big Bill Haywood were indicted in the Northern District of Illinois; their cases were assigned to Landis. Some 40 of the indicted men could not be found; a few others had charges dismissed against them. Ultimately, Landis presided over a trial agains 113 defendants, the largest federal criminal trial to that point.

The trial began on April 1, 1918. Landis quickly dismissed charges against a dozen defendants, including one A.C. Christ, who showed up in newly obtained army uniform. Jury selection occupied a month.

Journalist John Reed attended the trial, and wrote of his impressions of Landis:

Small on the huge bench sits a wasted man with untidy white hair, an emaciated face in which two burning eyes are set like jewels, parchment-like skin split by a crack for a mouth; the face of Andrew Jackson three years dead ... Upon this man has devolved the historic role of trying the Social Revolution. He is doing it like a gentleman. In many ways a most unusual trial. When the judge enters the court-room after recess, no one rises—he himself has abolished the pompous formality. He sits without robes, in an ordinary business suit, and often leaves the bench to come down and perch on the step of the jury box. By his personal orders, spittoons are placed by the prisoners' seats ... and as for the prisoners themselves, they are permitted to take off their coats, move around, read newspapers. It takes some human understanding for a Judge to fly in the face of judicial ritual as much as that.

From the sound of it Landis thought they shouldn’t be sent to jail. But they were.

  Ah, the old Trunk Murder. A more genteel age.

I had to poke around a bit, but I think this explains it:

Maude Tabor and her unborn baby had been buried in the trunk at the Tabor home for two or more years, it was brought out at the trial.

Mrs. Tabor was accused of manslaughter as a result of her daughter's death from complications resulting from what the state contended was an illegal operation. The aged woman, testifying in her own behalf at the trial, accused Joseph Virgo, Maude Tabor's husband, of performing an illegal operation. She said her daughter died from an overdose of narcotic to ease pain. The secret burial of the body in a trunk in the Tabor home was explained by Mrs. Tabor; as the result of a promise to her daughter that she would be buried only with her mother.

A later story told by Mrs. Tabor was that Virgo was not present when Maude died. Virgo later was released.

Maude was Virgo’s fifth wife. They’d lived together for exactly one day before Maude left and went home.

Virgo, it seemed, followed.

One heck of an ad. So many things to sell!

And a mere fraction compared to what we have today.

The Auto Show’s in town.

The site today:

The Court & Case Building, once a factory for cars and tractors and other things.

I recognized this right away:

I see the name when I drive home.

Cars were changing everything. A new era was en route, and you can see it in this ad:

Elsewhere in the paper was a big story about women proposing marriage to men, instead of the other way around. Everything was in flux!

Instead of excerpting some hectoring old editorial or wheezy jape column, I’ll leave you with this: a reminder that the old papers were frequently quite beautiful.


That'll do; see you around.



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