It’s now The Season. It’s now the time of Cheer and Merriment and TV commercials with soft-focus views of boughs and candles with red velvet boughs, the soundtrack accented with sleigh bells. Scrooge was bah-humbugging it all in an era when the wind-up to Christmas was probably 36 hours, if that; he’d go mad today.

There are four flavors of Christmas: the holidays you experienced as a child. The holidays you reprised in your parents’ home. The holidays you made your own, for your own family. The holidays you reprise when your children come back. The second and fourth are more fraught than the first and third. It all depends on the tensile strength of the family’s connective tissue, the power of a few carols heard at a vulnerable time, the sight of an ornament you’d forgotten, the strength of the Tom and Jerry’s. All I know is that I would, I think, be happiest spending this one on a Caribbean beach, in the heat, with a Santa hat placed on the plastic flamingo that sits on the cabana bar.

I wrote last week of a visit to the reopened Dayton's building. The old grand department store, reborn! They had great plans, which were dealt a crippling kick by the lockdown and contractions. It opened nevertheless. It lacks a few things - the promised food court and permament stores. Pop-up stores now, with more ot come. We hope.

They took out floors to make a three-story atrium, which is filled wth this fixture.

The space looks desolate and careworn here, but it's not. The wide-angle gives you too much information. It's actually a nice space, with lots of room to move, and lots of things to see.

I have to admit it looks like a flea market, or one of those "antique malls" that fill old disused downtown real estate space.  What interests me, of course, is the stain on the floor, and what its story might be.

Nothing downstairs but a Christmas tree. The red provides a nice note.

 

Yeeeeahhh, I don't know.

 

 

The merch? Jewelry, soaps, chocolates, various and sundry gifts. Nice stuff. I bought some Christmas gifts, although I didn't pick up this one.

 

I have no nostalgia for Moby Dick's, because I never hung around Hennepin. It had a bad rep, but that was probably an exaggeration.

At night, it had a different vibe. The “whale of a drink” slogan referred to the potent pours you’d get at the bar. At Moby’s, shots of liquor went for a dollar, for which you got almost two ounces of rail booze, well below the prices at other bars. As a result, Moby’s was the best place to get drunk on a budget, which was why it attracted almost every type of boozehound in the city: black and white, rich and poor, office stiffs and bums, men and women, hustlers and rubes, tourists and locals, conventioneers and pool sharks, drunks and more drunks, and “swarms of pool players and pinheads.”

They have some other local logos, too. Including Dayton's. Distressed to simulate wear and tear. They had a sweatshirt that aid FAVORITE DAUGHTER, with a star. That's all. No fancy typefaces. Sixty-four dollars. For a sweatshirt. I passed. She'd probably never wear it - too daddys-little-girl / boastful. She'd rather have the money.

I walked out with three things, Christmas gifts. To repeat: I walked out of the Dayton's with a bag with handles, with gifts. That hasn't happened since the start of the 21st century. I walked through the skyway, noting the increased traffic, and into IDS, where the trees were up, and the new seating and greenery is quite nice. One of the empty stores had been converted into a shop for local artists. People were queued at the Potbelly. The Yogurt Lab store, which had closed, had new signs advertising a forthcoming donut shop.

It was all the most normal thing in the world, except that it hadn't been for a long time, and I felt happy in a way I haven't felt since the world went mad.

 

 

 

As efficient and predictable and satisfying a movie as was ever made. Title to come. Surefire hit: just look at the cast.

And:


Stop me if you’ve heard this: two childhood friends end up on different sides of the law. In the middle, a great dame who’s a square deal.

It starts in the early years on a pleasure boat, where we meet the characters as precocious fully-formed archetypes:

It's a bad outing. I mean, bad.

 

They’re rescued, but orphaned. Luckily, there’s a kind man who can take them in.

An important lesson:

 

Later: more of that old-time movie patriotism. Seems quaint now.

 

 

After we see a scene in casino, where Myrna Loy expresses her dissatisfaction with Gable’s career - but not in a judgmental way, because everyone loves Gable and Loy, and we don’t want to see them angry and bitter from the start. She’s not a goodie two-shoes, but she’s not bad, so that must mean he’s redeemable.

That's the calculus in these old movies.

Anyway, not a review. We have some inadvertent documentary: Times Square.

The mess and press of the day, preserved for us to watch:

 

 

The interesting thing about the movie is the way it flips the script on the gangster drama. Little Caesar was 1931. This is 1934, and Powell’s character has to get up in front of the jury and demand the death penalty - Prohibition is over, and we cannot excuse the lawlessness we ignored because we wanted a drink now and then. The public mood on gangsters had changed by '34 - but not so much that Gable is an ugly, brutish sociopath. He's may be bad, but he's Gable! Also the other way around.

Because they’re old friends, Powell sends Gable a note after his speech: sorry Blackie, had to do it.


That’s okay kid. I can take it.

It’s broad, yanks on your heartstrings, goes all out for an emotional finale, and does something so ridiculous only Powell could carry it off. If you think it’s a bit much, well . . .

They were up front from the start about it all.

 

   
  That will  have to do. Matches await!
   

 

 

 

 
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