I had some banking to do. In person. Yes, yes, I know, apps. I use them. But it’s hard to get money to come out of the charging port, and I wanted some folding green.

First stop:

I walked into a dead lobby, an architectural nullity, the pride of early 80s architecture.

How can I help you? said the cheerful clerk.

“I would like to deposit money that is not mine into an account I do not control,” I said. That was the clearest way of saying it. An errand for the wife, dues to a tennis group, etc etc but that didn’t matter. He processed that for a second, as if parsing it for deviousness, but really, it was airtight. I asked for nothing. I was just the intermediary.

As we performed the act of exchanging symbolic totems of fiat currency, I asked when this building would be torn down. Spring, they said. Soon.

“Will you miss it?”

He looked at the other teller and they laughed, and I gathered: no. I said I hoped they built the new structure quickly and their jobs would be waiting, unless of course they were off to other branches. Oh no, that’s not how it works; they’re going to build a small temporary structure for us, and we’ll move there while the big tower is going up.

Really? That’s heartening. An affirmation of the teller’s trade. I like conducting my banking in person for the casual everyday chat. I would miss the opportunity to walk up to the teller and do some business. Maybe it’s all because I went to the bank with my dad when I was small and they gave me a five-piece roll of Life Savers. I remember being fascinated by it, because it was half-size.

Banks always seemed like hushed, responsible places where you did Business, and there were men at desks with big black glasses who did Business Things. The great banking halls with marble columns were gone by the time I was ready to make a deposit; all the banks I visited were 60s-chic modern or 70s suburban style. I never got to experience the high glorious Roman days of banking.

Next stop: my bank, to make a deposit. The clerk asked how I was and I said “I have mask fuzz in my nose and I’m about to sneeze.” Which was true. We chatted about the Euro exchange rate - this was the bank where I got my euros before the summer trip, back when I had a life that went to places and did things - and she counted out my $235 cash, starting with a hundred dollar bill.

“No, sorry, Twenties,” I said. She apologized and I apologized for not making it clear (she had asked earlier “how do you want it,” which sounds like a gangster asking if you want the kill shot in the head or the belly, and I’d said “twenties,” but, well, whatever.) I said I didn’t like hundreds, because I was loathe to break them. You break a hundred, and it evaporates. You want to put it aside to protect it.

“I’m the same way!” She said. “I hate to break a hundred! I want to keep it in case I need it.”

And that’s why you went into banking, perhaps.

On the way out there was a man in a mask attempting to open one of the locked doors, and because Things Have Changed, I went out of my way to help a masked man enter the bank.

Then to the UPS store to send some stuff to Daughter. The guy behind the counter was the owner. He was in a bright mood, in a way that suggested this was his modus vivendi. I was a bit hesitant about the envelope used - did they have something sturdier? (Long story about envelopes and UPS handling protocols snipped) He said they used to use the Tyvek envelopes, but they were just . . . too floppy.

Now. He said “the Tyvek envelopes” without explanation, as though I would know what that meant. As thought the general population knows what that means. Thing is, I did - and I didn’t.

“Tyvek,” I said. “I only know that as the building material.”

“Right! But it’s used for envelopes, too.”

I wanted to ask if he’d read Zippy, because you never know.

It would have awesome if he had and a convo-dampener if I veered off in a weird direction. Let it slide.

Then I went to Traders Joe, and was pleased to find a new product: Banana Fruit Spread. Oh yes I could see this on the Saturday morning English Muffin. In the line I noticed a big display of Egg Pasta and Lemon accented Alfredo sauce, and thought of the frozen lemon chicken pieces I had in the freezer. I toted up the Monday Pasta meals as I have them on hand: this would be used the third week of March. Seems a bit much to plan that far ahead. Of course I put them in my basket.

At Traders Joe you have to stand on a decal two yards away from the cashier, because otherwise you will spread COVID. When they are finished beeping and bagging, you can approach, because then it is safe and you will not spread COVID. I know, I know - the assumption concerns the duration I would otherwise stand three feet from the cashier and exhale gusts of viruses, but C’mon. I made the mistake of approaching too soon, and was curtly commanded to step back. Sir.

No banter here. Didn’t feel like it now. Went to the adjacent spirits store, found the necessary bottle, brought it to the register.

“And here is the one bottle of Campari you will sell this month,” I said.

“That’s about it,” the clerk said.

“My wife likes it,” I said.

“I tried it, when I was drinking,” the clerk said. There’s a window into a whole big thing. When I was drinking. “I didn’t like it.”

“I don’t like it either. But she adds tonic and lemon juice.

“Oh that might be nice.”

“That would work on windshield wiper fluid.”

Then next door to Infinite Hooch. The guy in the line ahead of me was a very large potato who bought rote beer and cheap mixer-whiskey. The clerk was doing her best to engage about the weather. “At least we got off light this year!” She said. A bit of a southern accent. He nodded and lumbered off with his 12-pack of Blatz or Duff or whatever. My turn. She gave me a bright hello how are you, which might have suggested the start of the shift, the near end of the shift, or just a sunny disposition. I let the question hang for a few seconds, and then said, as if insulted to mah core I said mah core What do you mean we got off easy? It was fifty degrees colder last week! Because I just had the sense that she liked to play.

And I was right. We argued about the cold, and February vs. March, and how people just plain forget what March is like, and do you remember that April, Lord, and how the crops need the late snow, and so on. You need your receipt? Keep it as a moment. You have a good one hon.


Drove home smiling, feeling as if I’d been to a good party.

Something new for Mondays: a never-ending contest with no prizes! Not for you, anyway. I have to preface this feature with a warning: I don't know the answers. I mean, I don't have the official answers. I can guess. It can't be that hard.

Some high-class dames were working the camps in those days:

This one might take one second to figure out instead of two.



Here's a name that got you beat up in High School:

This smacks of one of those “rich guy who knew nothing about the industry but wanted to get into films gave some guys some money” arrangements. Benny popped for . . .

Anyway, right off the top we suspect this might be a slightly mannered 40s crime story:

He can't remember anything! What's wrong, doc?

"Son, you have Plotpoint Syndrome. That shrapnel took away your memory."


This thing is NOIR AS ALL GET OUT. The story is simple: war hero has amnesia, goes back to Los Angel-ease to find out about his past. Turns out he was mixed up in shady stuff. It features John Payne, who never had much of a career, but is never bad or boring; he’s an ordinary joe. This feels like an attempt to bump up his status a bit.

Let’s just enjoy some 40s images. We're not here for the review. We're here . . . for the Black and White World.

You know gats are soon to bark:

It's as if the world of Men is nothing but dark shapes moving in dim places . . .

Unless they visit some quail, in which case the world goes all screwy with the frills:

I'm not saying it's a bit over-the-top, noir-wise . . .

But, well . . .

The director loved this shot: it's above the middle plane and creates these voids over the characters.

And by "loved" . . .

I mean he really . . .

Really . . .

Loved it.

Oh. look! It's him.

You may not know him. But you know how he sounds.

Scenes set in swank 40s nightclubs always interest me - the idealized look of the California nite spot. In this case, nothing is happening until the hero enters, at which point the band starts and the cigarette girl moves. Note the fellow at the bar with the dame.


Catch him?

My original notes here say:

He’d later work with XX.


Probably everyone. Smallest role in the movie. Possibly the longest career, too.


That will suffice! Now, as ever, the Matchbooks. We begin the Hotel updates for 2021.



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