Ah, hell.

More of the shooting and wrecking and opportunistic destruction / spontaneous property redistribution. Uptown was hit, but not as bad as before. Downtown was quiet today, answering the question of whether it was possible to feel more deserted. More on all this tomorrow, although I'm not sure what to say except ah, hell.

I went downtown on Saturday to write at the office. This represents the total inversion of my modus vivendi. From treating the office as an option to going on a weekend. But I wanted to write, and the office is now my place where I can be alone. Too much time at home, and I rot.

The weekend downtown is different. It’s just as empty as the weekdays, but feels . . . emptier. Less traffic. Perhaps it’s all psychological. Your brain says “Monday,” you assume there’s people about doing Monday things. A cold unpopulated Saturday is different. I have a reason for being here, walking the four blocks. That guy, loping along, hands in pockets . . . what’s his reason? And why is he shouting? Who is he shouting at? What is he shouting about?

The entrance to the office on weekends requires a card beep and a chat with security. But . . . things are different, because of Presumptive Trial Violence. The entrance interface is behind the barricades. You have to call security. Someone comes down and lets you in.

To my amazement the barricade door was secured by a wooden cross-beam, like an ancient castle fortification.

For years I’ve used this entrance, annoyed only by the door’s pneumatic calibrations: takes heft and force to yank it open from outside; it fights. It always fights you. But now it’s a matter of raising the beam on the drawbridge.

I bring this up not to get to the Unrest - that’s tomorrow - but because I did something I haven’t done in over a year. The building was deserted; the skyways are closed. There’s no one here. And so I thought:

Why am I wearing a mask?


I took my mask off as I walked through the atrium to the elevators. It felt subversive. It felt wonderful. I wondered if security would say something through the hidden speakers, having seen me flout the rules on the cameras in the ceiling. Probably not. Perhaps they take off their masks on Saturday, too.

Perhaps not. Rules, after all. The thought of a security officer in an empty 50 story building wearing a mask behind a plastic shield in a deserted lobby is two things simultaneously: absurd, and likely.









Last week, if you'll recall, I was talking about dreary jokey Bond knock-offs - in particular, "The Silencers." It bears more study:  For a big-star film, “The Silencers” has a crappy lair.

As we all know, the lair is a critical location for spy films. It has to be impressive, to indicate the global reach and power of the nefarious shadowy organization bent on world domination. We have to think it’s cool. The hero must destroy the lair at the end of the film. That’s it.

The best lair, without question, was the SPECTRE volcano base in “You Only Live Twice.” It had everything from a monorail to an office with a bridge that went over a pool of pirañas. Anything by Ken Adam was fantastic.

The “Silencers” lair was painful. Oh, it had the basics, like the tunnel hewn from rock:

That’s Arthur O’Connell, noted for playing second-string authority figures with an air of competence, as if he’d been passed over because his temperament was too mild.

The main meeting room is pathetic.

Again, it’s carved out of rock, because a good lair is always underground, but this looks cheap and unconvincing, and the lighting is harsh.

For the control room, they just put up some fabric dividers in place of the cheap-veneer wood:

But there’s a control panel! A good lair always had a lot of control panels.

This is surprising:

It’s a nod towards Adam, but they didn’t do anything there. It’s just an area. It should be full of desks with control panels. Instead it’s . . . I don’t know, the reception hall, where they planned to have the party after they’d taken over the world.

The Spoof Movies always had Sex Lairs.

A reminder that the chic of the early 60s went flabby and stupid in the middle of the decade and never recovered. Influence of the Youth Culture, perhaps, but also a general exhaustion with the official styles of restraint and refinement. Not that they were ever entirely restrained; the ornate lamp or candelabra lived side-by-side with the most stripped-down Scandinavian styles.

This is just junk, really.



It’s 1908. Almost the 10s.

This name may mean nothing, but it was everything then:

Glastonbury was once known worldwide as the home of the J.B. Williams Co., the nation's first soap factory and perhaps the world's first maker of shaving soap.

The extensive Williams clan became a major political and philanthropic power in the town for several generations.

They also made something called “Ivorine,” which they sold to another company. The soap’s name was shortened to - guess what? Right. Ivory soap was probably more attractive than Jersey Cream.

The cheerless of the last day of vacation can be soothed with alcohol? No kidding

It’s not often we have a brand that started in 1786 that has a website.

One of the cited reasons to have a good pistol: ANNOYANCE

Can’t argue with that.

Muscling in on the ol’ Masters Voice territory, eh?


Zonophone (early on also rendered as Zon-O-Phone) was a record label founded in 1899 in Camden, New Jersey, by Frank Seaman. The Zonophone name was not that of the company but was applied to records and machines sold by Seaman from 1899–1903. The name was acquired by Columbia Records, Victor Talking Machine Company, and finally the Gramophone Company/EMI Records. It has been used for a number of record publishing labels by these companies.

It was actually a cheaper record.

Go ahead, read the page, and see how far you get before a headache sets in.

It’s Borated! Not refillable! No samples! Gerhardt knew exactly how he wanted things.

Note how Tony can be relegated to a tiny picture, but they’ll still use Grrrr-reat, because the assumption and connection by now is baked in.

You know, I don’t think this is a good advertisement for quality tailoring, unless you’ve had half your intestines removed.


Everything we take for granted now was an innovation then, worthy of hailing as a new advance.

I wonder why they sold menthols with the color blue. Menthol tastes green. Perhaps they’d ceded that to Kool and knew there was no way of clawing that color back.

“Not the largest and probably not the best” is one hell of a come-on:

I wonder if the lads had social events with this institution.

That will do for today, I hope. Thanks for your visit. Tomorrow: more aftermath.




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