I’m doing a piece on the sad fate of the Northstar Center. At the time, in 1963, it was proof of progressive Minneapolis, our innovative approach to downtown. Step one: raze all the old buildings in the bum district. Step two: build new charmless inward-looking blocks that put a pillow over the face of the street life and pressed hard until it stopped breathing. I get mad about the Gateway, but I have affection for Step Two, because the project is soaked in Mid-Century urban optimism.

While poking through the papers, looking for ideas, I came across a special section printed to celebrate the Center.


Cigarettes, hamburgers, Percy Faith.

The whole of the 20th century fascinates me, and I can never quite choose where I’d want to live if I was shoved into a Time Machine and had 30 seconds to set the dials. The WW1 era? No. The 20s? Absolutely. The 30s? It might be interesting, to know the whole plot in advance, and see how it played out day to day, year to year. The 40s, I think, would be a disappointment. The 50s - well, it depends. There’s a sweet spot, ’56 to ’65, and I think I’d like to experience that. I’m interested in all the other eras, but that period is the one where I would see the world of my parents in their 30s and early 40s, as well as see the things that are just gauzy phantoms in my own recollections.

There’s just something about it. Cigarettes, hamburgers, Percy Faith.

Anyway. I saw this piece:


St. Paul housewife makes models! She was named as Mrs. Wilmot Macklin, in the convention of the day, which was awful. Later she’s described as “the former Frances Galpin of Appleton, Wisconsin.”

Okay, that’s helpful; off to google and hit the genealogy sites . . .

Holy fargin’ crow. Boom:

Alfred Galpin (1901–1983) was an American literary academic and musical composer of classical works. He is now best known as a close friend and correspondent of the author H. P. Lovecraft.

I think he was her uncle.

Alfred Galpin was a young prodigy, the son of the banker and inventor Alfred Galpin, Jr. (1841–1924) of Appleton, Wisconsin. As a teenager he was mentored by H. P. Lovecraft, who had been alerted to the boy's brilliance by his teacher Maurice W. Moe and his participation in amateur journalism. Lovecraft quickly came to think of Galpin as an honorary "grandson", and nicknamed him "Alfredus"; the two wrote a number of poems for each other and engaged in the Gallomo correspondence circle together. Galpin most notably introduced to Lovecraft the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith.

Can’t be her father, since I found a yearbook that put her as 19 in ’41, meaning, born in 1923.

In the mid-1920s Galpin went to Paris, where he lived the bohemian student life and married a French woman. He attended the Sorbonne in Paris in 1931–1932, thereafter during the 1930s living with his wife in fascist Italy where he was a professional composer and pianist. Upon H. P. Lovecraft's death in 1937 Galpin wrote a moving piece for solo piano, "Lament for H. P. L.”

Anyway, it’s just one of those things. Peer a bit closer into any collaborative endeavor, and the depth and range of stories you find are amazing.

The building itself? Well. Alas. I have talked about the loss of the odd museum, the murder of the food court by the pandemic, the lone hold-out, Mr. Walkin’ Dog. The closing of the hotel. The interiors have been reconfigured and modernized over the years, so there’s little of the original design left, apart from the terrazzo on the floor of the first skyway.

But for the first time, ever, I decided to take the escalators down to the basement. Or the Concourse, as they loved to call it.

The original stone and tile in the tunnel.

Everyone loves secret tunnels. This one went to the Minneapolis Athletic Club across the street. It’s closed now. For the duration. But it might as well stand in for my entire relationship with the era. I can see it; I can grasp the handle; I can pull it; it gives, just a little, but in the end, it’s locked.


It's Jacky Badteeth! No - John Plaguedpc-schnozz!

"The name for this cartoon is 'the power of riches to surmount personal aesthetic deficiencies"



Serial time!

Who’s this?

Noir. Forties. Who else could it be? And what else could be the result, except . . .

Yes, it’s Bogart. This isn’t one of his better-known movies, and he’s the bad guy. He’s a man who doesn’t love his wife anymore. He’s in love with his wife’s little sister.

Forties styles were quite . . . different. She wore that around the house?

We start the film with Bogart’s character, Mason, and his wife, getting ready for their 5th anniversary. The dialogue is sharp and brittle; the marriage hasn’t aged well. He’s in love with his wife’s little sister. After the anniversary party there’s a car wreck; he ends up in the hospital, where he is taunted by a swirling montage.

He wakes up in Noir General Hospital:

Mason seems to come out of the crash okay, but is he mentally changed? Quite quickly he decides to kill his wife, and we get this shot of her car going up the hill:

Hell of a matte shot. Anyway, he kills her, pushes her car over the cliff, and it dislodges some logs, burying the car in a jagged pile of shorn tree trunks. This is important. He becomes haunted by the sight of the pile.

You can sum up the entire BS “Freudian” mental stuff by this:

Later, he passes a campfire:


It’s also one of those movies where people are afraid to love, unless you argue them out of their fear. It’s one of those movies in which someone commits a crime and is haunted by the victim, who doesn’t seem dead. I’m not here to review it or recap it, except to say A) it’s okay, Bogie’s good as a man consumed by doubt, and B) it has all the visual hallmarks of 40s movies, which is what we really love in the Black and White World feature.

Everything is ominous:

The interiors are stuffy, which we sometimes forget:

Phone calls are DRAMATIC

There’s always something projected on the back wall:

Even in restaurants, innocuous yet ominous shadows:


The backlot! We’ve seen that theater in the background so many times.

A look at an ultra modern apartment:

The lady showing it says “it’s a studio, in case you wish to paint.” As one did.

Bogart in shadows is unmistakably Bogart:

If the movie ends like this, you’re heading for death.

Watch it if it comes on, just to watch Greenstreet and Bogart, and pick apart the ending miles in advance.

That will suffice! Now, as ever, the Matchbooks.





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