I called up the Apple Music app to find something apt for a mid-week session, and was pleased to see it had an “Elevator Music” playlist. Mid-week, mid-century, that’ll fit. The first tune was a Walter Wanderley number, and the minute you hear that beat and the organ you are in a Panavision movie set in an elegant European playground, possibly Monaco, waiting for Claudia Cardinale to float past, and perhaps there is Peter Sellers in the corner studying a clue. In between sets I get a news alert: Raquel Welch dead at 82. Aww drat. There’s always something about those sex-symbols whose vogue preceded your own adolescence - they were like trailers for movies that intrigued and unnerved.

The elevator playlist was not all mid-century, though. Mostly contemporary soft jazz. Which isn’t played in elevators. Nothing is played in elevators, except in commercials, trading on a long-dead cultural norm.

I’ve had a hard time today finding a subject that yields more than a paragraph of commentary. It’s happening more and more. The problem: the reaction to the tweet or the piece is obvious, and requires no explication. Either you see how it’s dumb, in which case you think sigh, that is dumb, or you do not, in which case there’s just no bloody point. Oh, it’s fun to Fisk away for those already trudging alongside in the muddy bloody trench, but it doesn’t make the clouds part or the birds sing. It’s just discourse.

That’s the midday mood. Last night around 11:30 I was seized with the certainty that I could write a tight 800 words about a disappointing - nay, an infuriating French Dip au jus sauce, and that I could make it a masterpiece of outrage pettiness so dense, so meaningless, that it would stand as a timeless example of small-mindedness. And so I did! It just flew out. I would put it in the next collection, if there was a next collection.

There should be a next collection. I have a thousand columns from the last ten years; ought to be 150 worth solidifying into a bid for the Bookshelf of the American Practitioners of the Humorous Form. The best of them absolutely belong next to the big names. The other day in a column I wrote, without thinking, about Sleep Number mattresses: I was afraid to learn that my Sleep Number was pi, in which case I’d never wake up. You break that down to three sentences, you have a classic Steven Wright line.

I bought a Sleep Number mattress
My number was pi
I never woke up again

Okay, enough horn tooting, time to write something else.

LATER I did, indeed, write something else. What follows is not that.

Our weekly example of the happy pasttime of our era: clicking and clicking with no objective in mind. Where do we start? Where do we go? And how . . .

  . . . do we get from here . . .
  . . . to there?

This quasi comic made me think more about Folgers than I had intended.

Our house was a Butter-Nut house, but Folgers was around in the mix somehow. Perhaps Grandparents bought it. The commercials made sure everyone knew it was Mountain Grown, which was the Richest Kind. Thanks to Mrs. Olson, counselor of women worried their husbands would leave them because they made bad coffee.

Never seemed to occur to the husbands to make their own, or investigate why the coffee was bad. Was it weak? Too strong? Bitter? I mean, most of the commercial roasts of the day were probably just fine. You didn’t make any money selling lousy coffee.

You’re probably thinking it’s named after the guy who said “you know, coffee in these parts of the country isn’t that good, and it’s cumbersome for everyone to roast their own. I think I will start a coffee business.” Ye and no. It was founded by William H. Bovee. When he went into the coffee trade, he needed a mill, so he hired a carpenter named . . . James Folger.

That’s right. It’s named after the guy who built the factory.

After working at Bovee's mill for nearly a year, Folger had saved enough money to buy part of the company, and went to mine for gold. He agreed to carry samples of coffee and spices, taking orders from grocery stores along the way. Upon his return to San Francisco in 1865, Folger became a full partner at Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills. In 1872, he bought out the other partners and renamed the company J.A. Folger & Co.

Folgers went on to become the country’s #1 coffee. P & G bought it, then it ended up in the sticky hands of Smucker. There was a Mr. Smucker - the name was changed to Smoker for a few generations, wikipedia says, but the family changed it back to dispel the tobacco connotation. Mr. Smucker got his start selling apple butter, and family lore says his trees had been planted by Johnny Appleseed.

There’s a name I hadn’t heard in a while. Real guy, regarded as a saintly nut.

Supposedly, the only surviving tree planted by Johnny Appleseed grows on the farm of Richard and Phyllis Algeo of Nova, Ohio. Some marketers claim that it is a Rambo; some even make the claim that the Rambo was "Johnny Appleseed's favorite variety”, ignoring the fact that he had religious objections to grafting and preferred wild apples to all named varieties.

A Rambo, you say. As in . . . John? Yes:

According to author David Morrell, the apple provided the name for the hero of his novel, First Blood, which gave rise to the Rambo film franchise. The novelist's wife brought home a supply of the fruit as he was trying to come up with a suitable name for the protagonist. It is uncertain whether David Morrell's wife brought home Rambos or Summer Rambos. Summer Rambos would have been much more common, but since his wife bought the apples at a roadside stand, either is possible.

Summer Rambo sounds like a hippie chick in a Billy Jack movie.

Anyway, the role of John Rambo looked intriguing to Steve McQueen, who wanted to play him. The producers turned him down. Elsewhere in McQueen’s wikipedia page we learn that his name was found on a hit list held by Charles Manson. He was supposed to be at the Tate house the night Manson’s gang killed everyone, but he decided to spent the evening with a woman he’d started dating. (I know, I know, “dating.”)

You know who was at the house that night?

Abigail Folger, the great-granddaughter of the man for whom the coffee was named.

And that’s how we got from here to there.











We’ve been here before. Long ago, I think. Back when the Google cameras were new, and I did a site on North Dakota small towns.

From the brown ’n’ round era of OUMBs:

“I want a design that really tells everyone who passes by where the staircase to the second floor is located.”

The rare Buckaroo Revival face mask:

Bonus: the sheet-metal cornice replacement.

We all have that nightmare of meeting a man with no face:

In this dream he’s wearing an amazingly colorful hat.

From the Stan Laurel school of architecture:


Modest facade for a movie palace, but the sign looks original.

Love those lions. Classes up the joint. Do you know those things on the side of the sign that tells you what’s playing? The things this marquee doesn’t have? They’re called “Attraction Panels.”

Here is the May 1932 roster.

I LOL’d, as they say

Interesting modernization; they were looking for the classy man-in-the-grey-suit look. The little pediment poking up is almost sad, as if the building is trying to stay alive in a flooded room.

I don’t know: could be new, trying to fit in. The stone at the bottom left, a bit dinged by time, suggests it could be old and well-preserved.

Oh for heaven’s sake

Looks like a dumb, sleepy-eyed bully. Why they don’t just hack off the top and be done with it, I don’t know. It’s just cruel.

Nah, we didn’t hire a designer. Knew a guy who said he could do it. Looks fine.

Yes! Here’s an old bank that puts everyone in the shade.

I don’t know where the name comes from.

Annnnd that’s Chamberlain.


Now two ways to chip in!

That will do. Some accidental art on Streetview awaits, if you wish.



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