Well, that answers that: yes, there’s a tree.

The building lobby is festooned with garland, or garlanded with festoons. Without the usual noontime musical concerts, it’s a bit forlorn - like the product of automation, somehow. The calendar date clicks to post-Thanksgiving, the tree rises silently from its silo, waiting until the program hits the date when it is retracted.

Back to the office, to toil alone, with only the soft hum of the white noise for company. Maybe it’s the ventilation system. It’s comforting. If it suddenly cut out, I’d be alarmed, right? As if Hans Gruber and his team had compromised key systems. If it happened when the office was full, everyone would look up, as if that would give any clues. Hmm, sound no come from breathing sky wall!

How did I get up t the office? I have a private elevator. I've had a private elevator since April. Never shared it with anyone. I'd like to say there's an attendant in a uniform - you know, something that llooks like bellboy or movie usher mufti, but it somehow different in a key aspect (different thickness of braid? Smaller buttons?) No one's waiting. I'm on my own, and that includes the decontamination process.

There's an Antiseptic Wipe station on top of the trash can by the elevator doors. It dispenses pop-up wipes. The first one is always dry. You pull out a wet one, rip off the top dry part, and leave another wet tissue exposed so there will be a dry one the next time you use it. It'll probably be you.

What do you wipe? Well, you can push the elevator button with the tissue, or use your knuckle (this part of your body has powerful immunity) or use your knuckle then wipe it off with the premoistened piece of paper, which has germicidal powers because it is, after all, moist with something.

Make sure you wipe off the card reader, even though no one touches it, and wipe off your card, because it touched the card reader, then use the wipe to disinfect your palms, because they touched the card.

And oh yeah probably no one got it from touching anything. From what we're told, it's the ventilation system that spreads it!

You know, that comforting whoosh of white noise.




I’ve been watching old Harold Lloyd shorts. It’s good therapy. They make me focus: you can’t multitask while watching a silent. They remind you that there is a vast gulf between 2020 and 1920, and at the same time you feel as if you could bridge it with a simple skip. No broad jump required. The world is completely recognizable. Think of it: one hundred years ago, and it’s familiar in almost every way.

If people know Lloyd these days, it’s from the famous shot from Safety Last, the fellow in the glasses hanging off the clock. When I was a teen and I discovered the silent comedians, I was drawn to Lloyd more than the others, partly because of the brilliance of that image. The movies weren’t available at the time - oh, the library may have had some 8mm you could check out, but who had a projector? Maybe they played at a film festival. Don’t know. I know that I was fascinated with the 20s, and Lloyd seemed to sum up the era more than Chaplin.

Why? The Tramp was outside of the culture; Lloyd’s go-getter can-do American lad was inside of it. The Tramp was left behind when the Circus picked up and left; Lloyd would have figured out a way to run it. He embodied the era without critique. It wasn’t capitalism’s fault he was hanging off the clock. It wasn’t a commentary on the relentless march of mechanization that put him in that spot. It was his own pluck and heedlessness that got him the jam. He triumphed through ingenuity and endurance and dumb luck. He was terrified one moment, then relieved, then full of stern resolve, then gobsmacked with horror.

The last two movies I watched were full of inadvertent documentary - Number Please is set at Ocean Park, Santa Monica. Never Weaken is more successful, a triplet of scenarios that ends with thrill comedy. The shots of downtown LA in 1920 are stunning.

It teems with life, and it doesn’t anymore. Both the stuctures survive, though.

Street level:

Don't you wish you could go in the Drug Store?

It's not particularly big. The Murad cigarette ad in the back is the only thing I can ID in the gloom.

Speaking of drug stores: do you see it?

You may lord your 1920s Los Angeles chain-store know-how over others in the comments.

"But I only know old pre-war LA department store know-how!" you say. Okay then:

Today it doesn't have the same vitality, to use the stock word. Wander around on street view, and everything looks depopulated. Lloyd would have walked along those streets, noting the buildings that still stand, and wondered:

What happened?

There’s an answer, but there’s no good answer.




It’ll be Christmas ads all month. Now it’s 1931.

The Soup Orphans:

Do we ever see their kids? What if they’re related to Snap, Crackle, and Pop? And what does the -tide suffix mean?


Yuletide, a word used as a synonym for Christmas, is a combination of Yule, from the pagan winter festival Jol, and tide, which here refers to an annual festival or the season of said festival. Tide is also related to the Old English for “time.”

So . . . time and tide wait for no man? Time and Time, you mean? Or does that tide have a different root? No; same thing. Time. Interesting.

More fat! MOAR FAT!

Brookfield had the loveliest packages, but when they add “Swift” I just see packing house gore.


I still find it astonishing that people put LIT CANDLES on their DEAD TREES, INDOORS.

Rather generic name, no?

Insurance Company of North America (INA) is the oldest stock insurance company in the United States,[2] founded in Philadelphia in 1792. It was one of the largest American insurance companies of the 19th and 20th centuries before merging with Connecticut General Life to form CIGNA in 1982, and was acquired by global insurer ACE Limited (currently Chubb Limited) in 1999.

I'd rather be insured by ACE than CHUBB.

If so, there’s going to be blood

What the figure means: 94% of all men want a girl who’s “natural,” which I take to mean not slathered in pancake makeup and over-rouged.

I like how the copy cites a “young newspaper reporter” as an authoritative voice on the subject.

She’s not taking any guff from anyone.

I am, at this moment, two blocks from WCCO, the radio station named after the company that placed this ad. Washburn-Crosby. My daughter went to Washburn school, and I live in the Washburn addition of Minneapolis.

Crosby gets nuthin’ around here.

As for the picture, Mrs. Oldroyd’s name was Ruth, according to the census, and they lived here. She died in 1962 at the age of 76.

Here is her confection, lovingly rendered.

Coming to you from radio station Radio Station, it’s “Rip” himself:



Wonder how many they sold? About 25,000, which wasn’t bad for the times.

The times, of course, being bad.

I never really knew what he looked like. And now we know!

That'll do; see you around.






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