A big globe lightbulb went out in the kitchen. No problem; I have a spare. But the spare sparked once and fell dark. The socket still worked. The bulb was just surprised after four years in the storage closet, I guess. Performance anxiety. Well, off to the Big Box hardware store, where I bought them before.

Surely they’d still have an unusual-sized low-demand incandescent bulb, even though everything’s gone LED, right?


I rode up the long escalator - more of a people mover, like you have in airports, but slanting up to the second floor. The piano player was back. The store installed a Grand on the second floor, and hires someone to sit and play old standards. This player really laid on the sustain pedal, and gave everything a Liberace flourish, so it took a while to figure out what the song. Ah: “Somewhere,” from West Side Story. As in somewhere there might be my bulbs, but not here.

I passed her again as I was heading downstairs, and started singing along. We’ll find a new way of living. She picked up and really laid into the dramatics, so I was compelled to sing out SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE, SOMEHOW in my best voice as loudly as I could, because why the hell not. They put a piano in a hardware store, you have to expect these sort of things.

Took the edge off the day, for some reason. I ended up doing the weekly errands while listening to meandering ambient music (Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie, if you must know) and it put me in a state of unparalleled tranquility that led to strange purchases. The sort of mood where you think “it’s probably been a long time since I opened that worchestershire sauce. I’d best buy a fresh bottle.”

I also bought a new bottle of sriracha. Not that I’m out: far from it. The last bottle I bought was huge. Almost the size of a half-gallon milk container. (So, you say . . . almost a half gallon, then. True.) I can’t finish it. I want to finish it. I swear it replenishes itself. The sauce has turned the darker red you get when it’s been opened - something you never see in restaurants, because they go through so much of it. But I swear I bought the Sisyphean-style, and it’s unnerving.

At the spirits department at Traders Joe I looked up some reviews for their single malt, and they went to reddit pages the reviewer called it drain pour and peaty gasoline and other names. It’s probably okay. Reviewers love to dump on anything that isn’t (one of six holy brands everyone worships and uses as a benchmark to gatekeep.) Well, then, I guess I’ll pick up another bottle of the Winter Wheat Bourbon.

Except . . . do I really like it? I can’t tell. It's different. It has a bright flavor that contrasts nicely with . . . well, with whatever I had before.

When I got home I showed my wife the good price I'd gotten on some steaks, and the new simmer saucenI intended to use for a good curry.

"Did you find the light bulb?"

The what now?

I went to the Music building, Scott Hall. Nice Italianate style.



Here's the doorway through which everyone has streamed in and out for almost a hundred years. Nothing new should look like this anymore, of course.



Let's take a look at this bas-relief. It's actually quite modern, and amusing.



"What is the MATTER with you?



She's pressing her IRRITATED STARE button.

"ME? What'd the matter with YOU"


They're quite stylized, and very 20s. For all the classicism of the building, they added modern touches that fit quite nicely.

The faces of the music teachers, perhaps:



Another bas-relief:



He just blew a mad riff and slowly lowers the horn while staring artistically. Also, he has a groupie from the other carving:


It's not bad enough that these kids thing this is music, he has to blow that junk when I'm in here trying to pinch a loaf, and since I'm the teacher I have to pretend to evaluate it





It’s 1936, and it’s the Los Angeles Times, the standard for newspaper and ad design.

Clean your shameful parts with the tissue named after a famous luxury hotel! It’s what all the smart set folk are doing:

Why is there a roll in the wall at that location? Why is the woman wearing her coat? Was it actually 46.6% softer but they rounded down so they could defend the claim better in court?

“Today there’s a NEW name.”

Not that new.

Look at that huge beaut!

A reminder that 1936 saw an economic upswing, and people were feeling a bit more confident, more likely to buy big ticket items. A reminder, again, of how 30s ads were capable of great pizazz and impact.


It’s peerless, yes, but is that enough? No: it’s Peerless Zoric cleaning.

Fluff dried! It’s really a cluttered ad, with everything clattering to the bottom, but it still stands out and looks nice.



Known for a long time as the 5th Street Store, co-founded by Ralf Walker. The original was knocked down and replaced with this structure in 1924.


Walker also owned what would later become known as the Houdini Mansion in Laurel Canyon. He died six months before the opening in San Diego of the first Walker Scott store – which would go on to become a regional chain – on October 3, 1935.

It's no small thing to found a regional chain. Brings a whole new set of worries.


If that’s what you’re calling yourself, you’d best live up to it:


Painless Parker (born Edgar R.R. Parker; 1872–1952) was a flamboyant American street dentist described as "a menace to the dignity of the profession" by the American Dental Association. However, "Much of what he championed—patient advocacy, increased access to dental care, and advertising—has come to pass in the U.S.”

He created the Parker Dental Circus, a traveling medicine show with his dental chair on a horse-drawn wagon while a band played. The band attracted large crowds and hid the moans and cries of patients who were given whiskey or a cocaine solution that he called "hydrocaine" to numb the pain.He charged 50 cents for each extraction and promised that if it hurt, he would pay the patient $5.

At one point, he claimed to have pulled 357 teeth in one day, which he wore on a necklace. He legally changed his first name to "Painless" when he was accused of breaking a false advertisement law by claiming that his dentistry was truly painless.

I'm still grappingnwith the phrase  "street dentist."


A serious picture.

Get this: an American guy with traditional unexamined boosterism values comes into conflict with his more enlightened, forward-looking wife!

The second feature was a Perry Mason; interesting how they didn’t note it.


Remember “hidden taxes,” that Hearst hobbyhorse? This is about that.

It concerned  mandating a “State license, and payment of license fees, required to operate a retail store.”

It failed.


Barker Bros:

An American story:

Obadiah Truax Barker had owned upholstery and mattress shops in Cincinnati, Ohio and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In 1880, was visiting Los Angeles on a trip from Colorado Springs to San José, Cal., and overheard an outraged Otto Müller at a horticultural exhibition complain about the high cost of furnishing his home from the only large furniture store in the city at the time. Barker approached Müller and together they founded a furniture shop on N. Spring Street near the Los Angeles Plaza, called Barker and Mueller.

Did they do okay? They did okay.

The store closed in 1984. Burdened by debt, the chain closed in 1992.


  That'll do. Off now to the clean-up portion of this year's comic updates. To be specific, the Hulk and Thor selling Hostess Pies.




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