I apologize for yesterday's mistake. The main page banner was still set on July when it was obvious to all that August had begun. Multiple upload attempts were unsuccessful, but the matter was corrected today, and the last banner of summer is up. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Could've kept it up forever, though. It's almost the complete expression of the site, with its cheerful bright modernism and Howard Johnson-summer mood. And I'm already a bit unnerved by the Mr. Steak family, and the belief that I saw that daughter in TV shows or commercials.

You wonder: what if they were a real family? and part of your brain says what, you mean they're not?

Went to the vet for a heart worm test. Thought I’d get one for Birch too as long as I was there. (Ha ha! What a caution.) It had been two years at least since we were allowed in the lobby. They prefer that you call them from the parking lot, and then they come out to get your pet, because - well, you know. But the number went to voice mail. I tried the front door. Open!

I asked if anyone was there, and was it all right to enter the lobby?

Someone came out and said yes, you can come in. And then she asked a question I’ve heard in a long time:

Do you have a mask?

What? No, of course not I wanted to say, but I just said “no,” probably with an inflection that seemed surprised. I wanted to say I didn’t have any ambergris or dodo eggs, but that would be jerkish. She handed me a mask and I put it on for the first time in months.

It felt bizarre. It felt silly. It felt useless. I asked the vet if they ever planned to drop the requirement, and she didn’t know when that would be.

It was like entering a time machine. Ah well, when in Rome, etc. She swabbed Birch’s ear to see if he had an infection, and went a millimeter too deep - he yiped and drew back, and looked at us with alarm with a big long Q-tip sticking out of his head. Whomsoever shall withdraw it will be King of the Veternarians!

While I waited for the results a pregnant woman came in to get medicine for her dog. She was not wearing a mask, because she goes about her day as one does in these parts now, and the desk clerk did not ask her to wear one. I guess the infection is no longer transmissible after 6.

No infection, big bill for medication. Couldn’t wait to get that thing off.

It’s odd: I don’t think about COVID at all. And then I run into people - perfectly healthy people with as many shots as I have - who think about it all the time.









By which I mean, tangents I took after watching something. This is not about Perry Mason.

The full run of Perry Mason is on Paramount, which I will have to cancel after I finish Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. But of course that means I can’t do screen grabs, because all the new modern monitors won’t let you do that. You might steal something and post it on the internet! Well, there’s Fair Use, where we use images to highlight and critique and also perform a valuable service: reminding people that you can find the entirety of Perry Mason on Paramount +.

Anyway, while looking for that fellow we saw last week in the 1929 movie feature, I saw an ep that started in a developer’s office. There was a model of their proposed project, and it’s so very, very early 60s.

Behold Osmond Acres:

These things ended up everywhere, eventually unloved. Lots of concrete inside, a certain dankness. I’m sure this is the model for something that was eventually built. But what?

Behold the rote office block:


There was a period after the rise of the International Style where they decided that indistinguishable glass buildings were not, in fact, the future. Indistinguishable brick buildings, that’s the idea.

Flank it with giant windowless boxes!


By the way, the episode had another appearance by Mrs. Ernest Talosian.

It got me thinking about another building I’d seen recently. One of the grand hotels of the 20s, this one in New York. I’d passed it many times, and never gave it much thought; it’s overshadowed by the Lexington down the street, a massive 28-story structure that came at the end of the midtown hotel boom. Like the Lincoln Tower, it irritated the forward-thinkers who wanted new styles and new architectural vocabularies. It’s relentlessly historical, except of course for its size and massing.

  This hotel was the Shelton. It had historical details, as we’ll see, but the design was absolutely modern, the first real design to inhabit the 1916 zoning ordinances enacted after the construction of the Filedrawer Building, aka the Equitable. Why was this lauded, but the modernist blocks we see above considered dull? Familiarity?

When something is copied by dozens of buildings that come afterwards, you don’t appreciate the original until you know it was one of the first. It was lauded when it went up: a structure of startling clarity.

You can imagine living there in 1930, enjoying the commanding views. Georgia O’Keefe did.

Some of the exterior elements:

Corinthian order really does't work with the rest of the style, but it doesn't matter.


S is for Shelton!

Say . . . why is that window boarded?


Bankrupt, bereft, boarded up. COVID casualty, story goes.

Closed forever, doomed to suffer the depredations of the claw?

I doubt it will be demolished. But I don't think anyone in the 20s thought it would be empty some day, either.



It is, God help us, 1976.

I didn’t know Josef Albers did shoe ads.

Really, that’s just awful, but typical of 70s newspaper graphics. Mod!


Few remember the chain. It was their answer to K-Mart.

Opened in 1962, had hundreds of locations, eventually totaling 336. Failed by 1983.

1976 in a nutshell: please call ahead to make your appointment to buy your meat

Why would they pass along the savings? Gouge ‘em, and give it to ‘em hard.

  Any more fine print and he would have stood six yards high.


Meanwhile,  it's this fellow again:



“What kind of fish do you serve?”

“Lady, it’s fish”

“I know, but cod? Pike? Walleye?”

“It’s got a crunchy coating, that’s all I know. And it comes with fries.”

Trademark application: “Three or more stars. Other fish. Costumed fish and other costumed sea creatures and those with human attributes. Anchors. Plain single line rectangles." Doesn't mention the Piscine Quisling we see here.

No info on the chain, other than it existed, and then it didn’t.

Ha ha Jugs get it


Joseph Barbera, of Hanna-Barbera cartoons fame, had an idea to make a movie about ambulance driving. Twentieth Century Fox gave him development money to deliver a script. Barbera heard that Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, who'd written several James Bond movies, was interested, and hired him. Barbera set up Mankiewicz with a local ambulance company for some "real world" experience. Mankiewicz rode in an ambulance driven by Tom "Hap" Hazard, and witnessed the results of a stabbing on the Sunset Strip, as well as potential suicide and heart attack victims. After these ride-alongs, Mankiewicz know he had the makings of a terrific movie, and wrote the original script for this movie.

One of those special 70s "black comedies."

Sheer amiability!

Joe Camp. There’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. Made his pile off the Benji films.

Plot: “A cavalry outpost in the Wild West of nineteenth century U.S. is in need of horses. The Captain of the outpost gets word that they're about to receive a shipment of fine Arabians. What he gets, is a shipment of camels.”

Gentle misadventures followed, no doubt.

Excuse me but I am unclear on the name of the movie you are advertising

Buddy, do you think it matters?

I can’t find any information about the theater. The location is impossible; you can’t be two blocks west of the St. Paul airport and be located on West Kellogg.

I wonder if this led to great frustration, suffered in shame and silence.





That'll do: now kick off your Tuesday with the inevitable humiliation of Mr. P. Pain. See you around.



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