From Shorpy

I had planned to write something long at the Government Service Center, but when I got my ticket - A014 - they were calling A013. That’s this place, this Minnesota. The very last day to get your license tabs, and it’s the afternoon, and it’s


They called me. That was fast. They also gave me new plates, with a new license number. There’s an element of trepidation in the process, since you never know if you’re going to get something that looks stupid. Of course, my last plates began with TEE, so it couldn’t be worse.

I was behind a Porsche Turbo the other day that had the plates IXXI T. Took me a while.

The guy at the government center said I sort of looked like my picture in the newspaper. I suppose it’s time for an update. Tonight I stood next to Steve Forbes and had my picture taken - everyone at the dinner got their picture take with the speaker; it’s part of the deal. It was a grand evening all around, and cheerio to all who came by to say something nice. I loved hearing that one person read me in the magazine, another enjoyed the radio, another was a Bleatnik, and the guy running for mayor read the column. But of course he’d say that, wouldn’t he? Still, it all makes me feel, well, five and a half feet tall.

Of course, what do I remember most? The tablemate who read the last book. Did you like it? “Mostly.” A HALBERD TO THE HEART.

Then there was a moment that just put a bow on so many things: a young woman walked up and introduced herself as the wife of my old radio producer. She called him Kodiak, which was his name back when he was tall and burly and bearded, but he’s always the Dark Chef to me. She showed me pictures of their newborn twins. How it all changes. How we grow.

And how, if you put us back in the studio tomorrow, it would be the Diner all over again, as if we never left. Probably because we haven’t. And won’t.

So that was the evening, and now I am disinclined to babble on much about anything. There will be days like that here now and then.

It's supposed to get cold tomorrow. It was not cold today.






Oh, not much. Just a little. Found this in a sci-fi magazine. A reminder that the war of prudes vs. libertines has been going on since - why, since 1983!



1. Imagine if the readers knew what was in store from Mr. G, not J, but yes Double R Two-syllable name. They couldn't imagine. Oh, we would have come up with something, but it wouldn't have been called Blu-Ray. Never would have occured to us.

2. I guess anyone who disagreed with Clifton could amble on over and punch his face in.

3. Ish. We said that then. It was insider lingo. It has been replaced by "ep."

4. Bookstores that don't sell bondage books are Falwellian scolds. Could anyone make that argument today? I don’t think so. Of course, I’m only seeing one side of someone’s view of what he said. I do love the reminder of Bugaboo Falwell, held up as the enemy to all the fun stuff. Couldn’t have picked someone more easy to caricature, though. I remember the titters about the very name of the group, the Moral Majority, and the smug conviction that they were, of course, neither. By then the word “moral” had become something that was used only to describe repression or hypocrisy. Another word that suffered an inversion was “Wholesome,” which could only be used with overamped Firesign-Theater-derived fake commercial enthusiasm. I never liked the word, myself. It never seemed to describe any particular quality; it was a UL sticker meant to reassure Mom that something was okay for the kids. Be it milk or a comic book.

It has a synonym that should be an antonym: Salubrious. That sounds oily, fat and dirty. If you wanted to name a rancid, smutty, leering Roman Poet, Salubrious would fit - as long as no one knew what it meant, and how it came from the Latin salvus, or safe / healthy.

Now get this: a synonym for Salubrious is Salutary, of course but also Sanative, which I’ve never heard, and the downright hellish salutiferous, which sounds like some substance boiling in the kettles of hell.

Anyway: as I may have said before at tiresome length, it was Carlin and the Firesign Theater and the rest who turned a perfectly useable style of advertising - upbeat, chipper, carefree - and turned into the sound of hateful commercial entitles masquerading the sound of their millstones grinding orphan bones to give cigarette paper some extra zest. The merry upbeat style had a cynical element at heart, at least in its conception - be happy, communicate a sense of warm feelings for institutions, and by all means sell things, whether or not happiness comes from their purchase or use. Mannered as it may have been, it was simply a genre of speech, a collection of vocal pitches and inflections meant to set commercial speech apart from other speech. By parodying it, they made the parody synonymous with the true intent, at least for the generation that came along in the 70s and was inclined to treat all previous norms as signs of Uptightness and Falsehoods.

What did they replace it with? Corrosive cynicism about any utterance that wasn’t coming out of the mouth of the comedian, more or less. Now we’re left with Flat Design in voiceovers, where the actors understate like a wise older brother imparting a truth you need to know now that Dad’s gone. The worst example of these may be the Benz commercials voiced by Jon Hamm, who declined to use Don Draper’s commanding, decisive impatience or emotional directness, and opts for a hesitant, unsure tone that sounds like he has a bad cold.



There's an intonation in commercials today that bugs me, possibly from overuse, possibly because it's a cliche, possibly because it pairs with a mindset I can't quite share for elemental reasons beyond my ken. It's the of-course-and-there-you-are-and-it's-done, usually employed to flatter the target for being the smart person who uses this product. I'll try to find some examples.

Why, maybe that would be a good excuse for a Diner episode.

Done! More to come in the usual places; it's a MPLS update as per usual on Wednesday. May your day be warmer than mine.




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