I don’t know about you, but it already seems like Thursday. That was the longest weekend ever, possibly because it just felt like it should be the Fourth the next day and it was never the Fourth. Now, of course, it will be the Fourth. Tomorrow. It’ll be good. It’s always good if you want it to be. If you’re of the sort who brings something troubled to the day, personal or political, and you can’t wait for everyone to ignore how you’re feeling, well . . . I don’t know about you. Lighten up, maybe.
To finish up the terribly important tale of the jaunt out East: Friday was the end. Friday was travel. Ubered to Penn Station; the driver was a young Indian immigrant who was taking classes to be an Air Traffic Controller, so we had an interesting chat. Smart kid, grateful to be in America: couldn’t believe his luck, all things considered. Took the Acela back to DC, sitting in a leather seat while whisked through barren blocks of empty factories. Took the Metro to Crystal City, which I had confused with Pentagon City; thought the former was the mall. It was not. It was an underground collection of stores, but it was one of those malls where you think “all the original big-name places went bust and now there's a Party Store and several 'boutiques; with signage done by the owner's cousin.” Not a place to kill time. It was about four o’clock. The plane left at ten.
The girls went off to the restroom, and I sat down to wait for their return.
Perhaps this story’s already in the comments; I’ll have to check. If it is, trust his account. From my perspective, it was a strange transplanted version of something that happens around here: someone gives me that look.
“You look like James Lileks,” is what I think he said, and huzzah and gloriosky, the Writer’s Reward. A reader! Here, in this place, a casual crossing. I kept waiting for Daughter to come out of the restroom and see this - DAD HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED! - but they’d left by a different hallway and were already buying stickers in the Party Store.
Anyway, it was great. A Bleatnik in Crystal City. Made my day.
We bailed on the joint and went to Pentagon City, the proper mall. The girls skittered off to shop; I had a sad food court meal and treated myself to Haagaaan Daaaz, laughing when the bill was totaled for a single cup. $6.75. Oh, just go promptly to hell, please. Since I had hours to kill I decided to find a belt - the first day in DC my old belt had broken, and the cumulative effect of 10-mile death marches in the heat had taken off some pounds, I swear. My pants sagged. As I walked into a GAP, carrying my luggage, I realized that the strap on my satchel had somehow undone two buttons on my shirt, so I was now officially a hapless, senile Dad wandering around the mall hitching up his jeans while unaware of his chestal exposure.
Couldn’t find a belt. Gave up. Had a coffee.
Back in the metro, back to the airport. I gave the girls a tour of the two terminals, new and old. They went to Starbucks and I had a chat with a guy selling some security clearance service.
“Where are you going, sir?” he said.
"Minneapolis. I hear it’s cold. Nice, but cold."
Naaaah. It’s like San Diego. Sunny and 75, every day.
(laughs) "So how you doing today."
I’m fine. Going home. I wish I was hungry. Last chance for a half smoke.
He did a little mental recalculation.
"Ben’s is open," he said.
"I thought Ben's was closed. Walked right past it."
"Naw, it's open. You from here?" Because being from Minneapolis does not fit with knowing that Ben's is where you get a half-smoke.
I was. said. Even though now it feels like I am.
The girls came back with coffee and we went to the gate. I decided to have a drink before the flight and went to the new bar, checked the menu. Huh: bar pour was Grants. As long as you’re up, get me a Grants. Ordered on up, and it was delicious. Bong! Now boarding flight 256. We all filed on board the dark plane. It was Sun Country. It left on time. It landed early. It's our Minnesota airline.
One last thing: Central Park, the previous day.
While wandering around downtown at night we had a need for the Facilities, as one euphemistically calls them. I figured the Harrington might oblige, since most hotels have bathrooms on the ground floor and let anyone in who’s not pushing a shopping cart.
It was tired and cut-rate, but the reviews seem okay. Cheap rooms in an old property with minimal updating - but that doesn’t mean it has its original design. It looks like it got an overhaul in the 60s, with some stuff tacked on over the years. Like an old Times Square hotel, without the 1-star ratings about crackheads.
A picture on the wall showed the Harrington in its heyday.
It doesn't get the smart set any more, but at least it's survived.
From their website:
Harrington Mills, a hotelier, spotted an opportunity. He and business partner Charles W. McCutchen built a hotel that met "popular one-room-and-bath-demand," an unusual concept at the time, as described by the Washington Post. They set aside special "sample rooms" for traveling salesmen to show their wares to buyers from nearby stores.
Mills and McCutchen officially opened their Hotel Harrington, at 11th and E Streets, NW, on March 1, 1914.
Designed by the architectural firm Rich & FitzSimons, the six-story hotel boasted a dining room and two-story lobby with a mezzanine, all finished in marble. Upstairs, mahogany-trimmed hallways led to 80 rooms, all with running water and most with private baths.
In 1932 the hotel installed Art Deco embellishments, including the stainless steel canopy, with back-lit letters, over the front entrance. Always innovative, the Harrington in 1938 became DC's first air-conditioned hotel. Late 1940s modernization resulted in reduced ceiling heights in the ballroom and lobby, and modern finishes and furnishings throughout the building.
Close-ups of the illustration:
The woman's face is almost Picassoesque:
Summer means cheap sci-fi movies, because . . . well, if I had to say, it's because I have childhood memories of staying up late on summer nights to watch creature features on the weekend. Maybe it's a drive-in thing. Whatever the reason, it's a tradition here at the Bleat, and that's enough for me.
This is a completely stupid movie, because it’s Roger Corman with a budget of six dollars.
But it means something, right? He's intricately bound up in temporal matters! Just to prove it, here's the opening shot! See! Get it? Get it?
We begin in New York. In the middle on the right, the white building is the old Look magazine building. Important for its time - one of the first post-war modernist office blocks.
The plot: an aging cosmetics executive hooks up with a Zientist bit a Churman-accent; he’s convinced that wasp extracts will bring youth back to the aged. Brother, does she need it - for a cosmetics exec, she really does not know how to apply the stuff:
When he gets to work, we have a montage of Industry! with the xylophone indicating concerted labor and Things Happening Science-Wise:
She still has that Princess Leia-in-a-German-silent-film look . . .
Then injections of the Wasp Serum turn her younger . . .
. . . and younger.
Now she’s 23! Of course, there are complications. The test animals start to go mad, because it’s halfway through the second act and NOTHING. HAS. HAPPENED.
So we get this dramatic scene:
At this point the audience is thinking, she better turn into a wasp. At least her head should be a wasp.
You’re in luck.
Er . . .
That’s the worst. Then again, you try subduing a big guy while you're wearing heels. What's that? You have? Well, that's what the comments are for.
That'll do; see you around. But not tomorrow. Back on Wednesday.