Oh, dammit. Terry Teachout died. Just like that. We had an agreement to meet in NYC when this was all over, but it never was, and now it is.
We had supper here when he came to town to review a play, and it was a delightful evening. Witty, erudite, full of hearty passions, never boastful, funny. One of those evenings where you’re sad you haven’t known him all your life, and glad you met him for a single night.
We corresponded over the years, as many did; he was generous on Twitter, where he kept a running account of music and movies worth your attention. We would get into the weeds in DMs about certain films and actors, but the great pleasure was tossing back and forth a link or a photo to something that spoke to our common bond: Smallville. Our luck to grow up in a decent place in the middle of the country in the waning days of mid-century culture, and how it shaped us - sometimes by what we experienced, and sometimes by what we sensed about the time that immediately preceeded our tenure.
For him, Smallville was small: see above. The downtown is much less impressive than Fargo, but of course it was different, once. Local stores, no doubt a bustling 5 and Dime. A lunch counter with the swirling smells of hamburgers and cigarettes. Unlike some who run off to the big city and paint themselves as special orchids who could not bloom in the arid land of flyover America, Terry was proud of where he came from, and regarded it with affection and rue. The mark of a good and generous soul.
I used Google Street View to walk around downtown for a while, looking for the signs of the movie theater where he fell in love with film. They were embassies for the great world beyond, a place of small rituals and great amazement. No other place hit you with that popcorn smell or faint must. I couldn’t find anything, so I went to Cinema Treasures.
There were two. Both are gone. There’s no picture of one; the Malone has this, submitted under CC by Chris1982. I've cleaned it up a bit. It's from 1953.
One of the obits said he was so excited to see a movie when he was a kid, his parents had to keep him from running up and down the aisle.
You can understand why people from these places rue the toll.
There ought to be a plaque.
The theater has been gone since the mid 80s. Sometimes you think the weight of a building's history salts the earth somehow, and nothing can be built on the site again.
But that's melodramatic. You could say it's just a small town; it was just a theater. And Terry was, in the end, just a man.
None of that, of course, is true.
Yes, new and old. Have to spice this up somehow.
Thrivent Apartments, phase two: so it's not all wood, I see. That's nice.
Still not happy about the way it blocks off the view of the new Thrivent building, but that was the plan.
The new Firehouse. Still no signs of the residential complex intended to rise around it.
It says New and Old up there, remember. The city is full of details that catch my eye. From the facade of the old Chamber of Commerce annex:
I wonder about that wire.
How long has it been cracked, I wonder. Also, it's a bit overstuffed. But I'm glad it's there.
Makes Lance's job easier when they crumble on contact:
Solution is here.
Last week we had an appearance by William Conrad on Lum & Abner. It was odd, in a way, but only if you think that L&A wasn't a big show. It was small-scaled, but popular. Now, another familiar voice in a courtroom scene. Rather, two. But one.
The court clerk and the lawyer are the same man. He uses his dissolute voice for the first one. I'm sure of it. I've heard that slurred, sullen voice a lot on shows like The Line-Up.
And he is . . . ?
This year we're counting down the top hits . . . of 1922. Why not?
In the top 100 of 1922, I'm Just Wild About Harry charted at #49, cresting at #4.
He chose a rather sedate tempo. You could really rip up a room with this if you wanted, but he doesn't. But then, oy: listen to the clarinet go crazy at 1:10 or so.
The second of our exhaustive look at 1968 South African detergent commercials. It is also the last. Yes, the musique concrete is part of the sci-fi theme music; it's quite grating.
G'wan, name another one-man operation that gives so much! Just try! Okay besides that one.
There: one week of 2022 in the bank. See you on Monday when we start it up again.