The difference between this aching cold place and the reasonable warmth of LA is so great it seems that I was there months ago, not hours; the entire trip feels like a mirage. I woke this morning in the proper bed to the proper sound of the proper alarm, and it felt as if I’d dreamed the whole journey. The “proper alarm,” by the way, would have sounded in LA if I hadn’t woken up early from the elevator sound - nowadays, in one of those shifts you don’t notice until you look back and say “oh, it’s been that way for a while” your alarm clock is the same every place you go, because it’s your phone.
Which renders the hotel alarm clock useless. Good: they are hateful things and everyone loathes them. You can’t figure them out. All clocks have their own interfaces, and you bring nothing but the memory of different clocks to the experience; it’s late, you’re tired, and you’re pushing buttons, remembering the old days when you called the front desk to wake you up. (Something I’d forgotten years ago - don’t remember when I stopped doing that. Wonder if anyone does.) (Well, yes - the people who don’t have smart phones and can’t figure out the got-damned alarm.) When you fumble with the buttons to set the time you’re reminded of the previous occupant, who got up at 5:45, poor devil. When the thing goes off it’s always the worst possible alarm sound, a monkey screeching from the metal mouth of a robot, and you don’t know how to turn it off.
Once you silence the obscenity you sit on the edge of the bed and recollect the number of steps between you and the world. I love evenings in hotels. I hate mornings in hotels. In the evening you’re a welcome guest. In the morning you’re either something that’s sticking around and making demands, or you’re on the way out, in which case vamoose already because HASS-KEEPING. In the morning you see the crack on the wall, the way they patched it up with paint. The goo on the remote. The scuff marks on the furniture. You get out the ironing board, which screams in pain when it’s unfolded; you get out the iron, which is always busted, missing a part, never works up enough steam, and dribbles all over your shirt. I’m always glad to leave, because home is next, and home is where you want to be.
But then comes the time I used to hate the most: the limbo between the hotel and the point beyond the airport security line. You’re all out there with no place to be, no claim on anything, no residence, just an atom waiting for another nucleus. Or rather a subatomic particle that passes through everything without leaving a trace. It’s only when I’m through security that I feel, well, secure: you’re back on the rails, pointed towards home. The proper bed, the proper sounds, the proper pillow - and the same alarm as you had in the strange place, except now it wakes you to the same sights your mind reaches for when it stirs and beholds. Home and dry.
A few more things from the trip, which aren’t about the trip at all. There’s this:
It’s a different place, California; here in Minnesota the drug stores don’t sell this particular type of chemical, and if they did it would be off to the side in an aisle of shame. The idea of dropping down to the drug store to pick up whiskey just doesn’t compute in the local mindset.
The CVS was in a shopping mall that also had a Pavilions, which I gather is a high-end grocery store. You can tell from the font. The signage. The type of store that puts up signs telling you it will cease using plastic bags in advance of any proposed ban, because that’s who they are: they’re sustainable people.
I went back to the Deli to see what they had for pre-packaged sandwiches, since I thought I’d have something on the plane. It was the rudest, cheapest, most unappealing batch of grub you can get outside of a gas station: white bread you know was cold and stiff, flavorless meats, slabs of industrial cheddar. Around then I noted that the logo for the store was familiar.
Underneath at it all, it was Safeway.
Another shot of the grotesques of USC:
What I love about these is their uselessness. There's no reason for this fellow to be here. He's not holding anything up, except centuries of tradition. Speaking of which:
Ah, College. The pursuit of wisdom. The elevated plain on which the mind seeks truth. Unless they're reading eugenics manifestos or perhaps college-humor magazines. Given the grave expressions, the latter seems likely; college humor magazines were horribly unfunny things.
He: Why did the chicken cross the road?
She: because there was a speakeasy on the other side
I exaggerate but not by much.
Finally, you can't go to LA with taking a picture of this.
It's a beautiful thing, an embassy from a future that never came - and for years I thought it was an old air-traffic control tower. If so, it would have been the worst one ever designed. So, that plane that just took off, did it make its climb? Don't know; there's an overhanging roof in the way.
We return to the thrilling days of yore when FX were cheap and budgets ranged all the way up to $7.98 per episode. King! King of the Rocketmen!
Handy recap, reminding you that Jeff King, King of the Rocketmen, uses a line between lip and nose to keep you from noticing how far apart they really are:
When last we met our hero, he was in a cabin with flames licking at a box helpfully labelled EXPLOSIVES. There was a tremendous boom! However will he escape?
He stood up and ran out before it exploded. Whew!
By getting up and running out the door. Then it’s back to Science Associates, where A) there’s a recap to use old footage and chew up soe running time, and we learn that Dirkin’s Confederate - which sounds like a - wears a distinctive signet ring. Because if you’re skulking around and letting in henchmen to ransack your company, you’ll want to wear easily-recognized jewelry.
Sure enough, at the next meeting of the Associated Scientist at Science Associates, he goes down the line, looking at pinkies. Could it be . . . this fellow?
Ah, the old gat-under-the-hat trick. You have to get there ahead of time, and set it up; when the investigator springs the Tell-Tale Ring Test on a board meeting, it’s difficult to get out your gun and hide it on the table. Just in case.
He drives away, and of course that means Rocketman will go after him, because . . .
I’m sorry, what’s going on here? A Scientist from Science Associates obviously knows about the Rocketman project, so who cares if there’s a photo that could be enlarged? Who cares? Awesome rocketing:
For a serial, those are great shots. Heck, for any movie of the era.
He loses the Dirkin Confederate, who holes up in a hotel that looks like an Art Moderne building slowly digesting a 1923 apartment tower:
Of course Rocketman finds him there, swoops in the window, fires a pistol, fails to prevent a stabbing, gets beaten with a wooden chair and pushed out the window.
Because if you want to get rid of a bothersome man who wears a powerful flying suit, don’t shoot him with the gun you had earlier in the scene. Push him out a window.
Tune in next week!
Updates on the right - more horrible French food, although for all I know it's delicious. Work Blog between noon and one, but it'll be a short one.