Hurrah, Monday! I say that because the weekend usually has things like “washing the garage floor,” which I did. I have a pressure-washer wand that really gets the grot out of the expansion joints in the concrete. And by “gets it out” I mean it hit the stuff at an angle just perfect for splashing it everywhere. Well, no, not everywhere. The Wall, and Me. A fountain of ancient muck, brought in by my tires over the last few years. If you'd bagged everything I was wearing and sent it to the lab I would have probably become a person of interest in a dozen crimes.
I think this week I will discuss things that are obvious and boring but perhaps need to be restated. A nice change from saying things that are obvious and pretending they're not.
Question: What type of building do you think this is?
Right. It’s not even hard. This is what malls look like. They are boring. This is from the late 90s, a style that was trying not to be boring. At least it gives you something to read - the various squares marking off different proportions, with the smaller ones on the ground floor indicating the human scale.
Is that the ground floor, by the way? Is the upper area one or two floors? The buildings are designed to be inscrutable, because you’re not supposed to be outside. You’re supposed to be inside.
Churches of previous eras did not take this approach; the glories of the exterior enticed you to enter, but also to contemplate the meaning of the building. There is no meaning to this building.
It's anabandoned department-store anchor at the Mall of America. Once it was a Bloomingdales, because for some reason there used to bea Bloomingdales in Minnesota. What did the original store look like? This:
I love it when the name is sunk right into the stone.
Its gestures to tradition - the columns, the capitals - are so stylized they’ve moved beyond their source into ahistoricism. The line between the Soon-to-Be-Future and the past is a taut filament. Ah, the relief when it snaps for good, right? Freedom!
The disused Mall of America entrances have that abandoned-world’s-fair vibe:
Inside, of course, it’s a Wonderland.
The Mall has changed over the years, of course, but some things remain, like this pole that I walked into after a TV shoot in the rotunda.
I can still hear the THONGGGGG it made inside my head.
Anyway, my point? I love malls. They're an important part of late-half 20th century culture. The exteriors are usually unforgiveable, and you find yourself surprised you ever thought they were acceptable.
They don't get any harder.
I think that's Satan. Really let himself go. Anyway, OBVIOUSLY ERROL FLYNN, RIGHT
This week's Obvious Thing that Needs Restating: a lot of classic TV is just . . . well, let's say it's just TV, that's all.
Some people think this is really, really good.
This was the very first ep. Your host:
His tagline here appeared in all his intros:
Eh, I'll be the judge of that.
It’s not the best of the old TV anthology shows; I’d put One Step Beyond ahead of it. But it does have that great black-and-white spooky vibe. Perhaps it’s me, but aside from a handful of shows and the entirety of Perry Mason, the sci-fi / gothic / horror shows are the only ones that still seem watchable. Everything else seems a bit boring now.
Not that I’m an expert. Anyway. Wikipedia description: "Alan Patterson is a businessman who meets a couple of mentally disturbed people, whose envy of him and his life becomes obsessive."
Okay, let’s see the Mentally Disturbed Persons:
The object of her obsessions:
It’s always fun to see him in these early shows, before he became the real Leslie Nielsen. No, that’s not fair. He was the real thing here, too, and I’ve seen enough of the early work so the delightful latter persona doesn’t interfere.
The ep has that B&W Mad-Men early 60s technocratic design ethos I love to see, and would have loved to experience:
It’s well shot, though, and reminds you that you can get nice effects with no budget and a good sense of composition and lighting:
The kitchen looks like a generic set used over and over:
It’s a predictable start to the series, and perhaps they didn’t want to alienate the audience by giving them something too complicated. No, just the same old crazy people staring at themselves in a symbolically cracked mirror while a rescued female sobs in the arms of the hero.
HELLO what's this
A fine director whose career ended with a string of flubs and duds.
Hubbell Robinson Productions?
Was active in American broadcasting as a writer, producer, and network programming executive for over 40 years, and was notable as the CBS executive who championed the 1950s anthology drama "Playhouse 90"; his efforts to develop high-quality programming was self-described as "mass with class."
The NYT obit reminds you that OCR scanning and translation has its occasional glitch:
Prozraminz! It should be a word.
That will suffice! Now, as ever, the Matchbooks.