The AI's ability to endlessly recycling Renaissance images is impressive. More on Friday, when you'll see how it swipes all the classic compositions.

I tried Google's AI and it's ridiculously restrictive. Tell it to do something in the style of a particular artist who died 45 years ago and it says "The prompt goes against our policies." I read the policies. I don't see how. There's nothing NSFW or violent suggested. I literally gave it a date and the artist's name as the suggestion for a style, and it thought I was trying to defraud the world.

Well, perhaps it's worried about copyright . . . let's try another artist. Say, Raphael.



I don't care, because the google output is junk. All the faces look like something from a Francis Bacon painting.

Also, Francis Bacon is blocked.


The other program I use gets oddly prudish at time. It will process the request but have a strange impure thought, and refuse to show what it came up with. And then it'll kick out something its filters tell it looks okay, but actually has a naughty implication, or at least a double meaning it doesn't understand. (Examples on Friday.)

It's terribly worried about unsafe content. I loathe that word. Unsafe means "climbing a power pole and using a bolt cutter on a transmission line." Unsafe does not mean "it might make people feel bad." Not bad about a situation or condition - I might feel bad about a particularly nostalgic image that suggests a lost culture - but bad about themselves, because some component of their "identity" was treated with sarcasm or mockery.

I understand that they don't want people making pr0n or gore, but here's the thing: public AIs, having been born with restrictions, will only move towards more restrictions, until the ability to conceive of wrongthink is throttled on the user end. See also, Newspeak. Meanwhile, you'll see the spread of underground AI cafes that run their own versions of Stable Diffusion or whatever, where people can "create" whatever they want. That'll be the modern Kit Kat Klub, the modern Plato's Retreat, without the humid decadence - just a bunch of big dorks sitting around computers making naughty pictures tailored to their precise directions, talking to no one, all extraneous thought drowned out by thumping 2-note German techno.

Perhaps that's why I'm working on the AI art book as fast as I can. My secret-sauce prompt for generating American images of solemn gravity, heedless delight, and utter absurdity will probably get throttled

An ordinary day, except once again I feel sore all over, from the gym. I was sore yesterday, so of course you work out because you’re not sore while you’re working out, and you will be able to explain tomorrow’s soreness by pointing to the previous day's workout. My forearm is permanently unhappy from the bicep curls, but you know what? That's it's problem.

Okay, it’s 12:30, let’s go to the gym

1:40 Back, and not sore at all. Just frustrated. The music is all wrong. Playing classical music for background at home all day completely wrecks the “discovery” algorithm for me at the gym. I want up-tempo 2011 European remix versions of American pre-punk idioms, DAMMIT, I DO NOT WANT ERIK SATIE. I can’t hit “show less” every time because it takes forever, and I can’t like anything, only favorite it.

Some days I think I have it, I got the right playlist, it knows me now, here we go! And the next day it’s all Sophie Blutter-Vaelmenschatz playing solo violin pieces.

Not a day where I'm happy with technology.

Our weekly recap of a Wikipedia peregrination. Expect no conclusion or revelations, but if you've been with us since this started last year, you know . . . sometimes we learn interesting things.

  So! How do we get from here . . .
  . . . to there?

In the old days - you know, the 60s, which were a long time ago - you couldn’t call up a hotel on your phone. I mean, you could, but that meant actually calling up a hotel.

Now calling up a hotel on your phone means “type on your glowing glass slab and get 1,342 pictures and reviews.” You had to trust your travel agent, or perhaps some vague word-of-mouth or reputation. Barbizon. You’d heard of that, right? Or was that the company that made the blue stuff the barber had in the glass containers?

Here’s the hotel.

  That’s gorgeous. You may note, on second look, that the corner portion stands out. It’s not part of the whole structure. That’s because it was an apartment building constructed in 1917.

The reality is a bit more prosaic.

It has a fine entrance . . .

Which looked like this in 2022 . . .

And probably still does, since the scaffolding seems to be a permanent part of New York streets now, adding to the ugliness and sense of decay.

As for the Barbizon:

Note the spare decorations. I'll combine them and correct the perspective for you:

Wikipedia: “The hotel was designed to appeal to artists and musicians.” Hence its foreclosure in 1933, I suspect. Trump bought it in 1981 and turned it into condos, which sparked a legal battle with the rent-controlled residents. According to Wikipedia, in 2015 there were people living in rent controlled apartments who had a Central Park view and paid under a $1000 a month.

Among the residents:

Suzanne Kaaren (March 21, 1912 – August 27, 2004) was an American B-movie actress and dancer who starred in stock film genres of the 1930s and 1940s: horror films, westerns, comedies, and romances.

Kaaren figured prominently in several Three Stooges comedy short films. They are Disorder in the Court, Yes, We Have No Bonanza, and What's the Matador?

Her wikipedia bio links to her obit, which says “Actress defied Donald Trump,” as if she personally laid down in front of the renovators. She was part of the group that refused to move when the building was purchased. Her rent, in the 80s, was $203 a month. Which was pretty sweet.

The obit says that Trump wanted to demolish the building, the original 1917 structure and the Barbican, and build a luxury tower and shopping arcade. Given the year, we’re glad he didn’t. It probably would have been glass. Then again, he had proposed a 150-story tower in 1985, and Helmut Jahn was attached to the project. It was straight out of Metropolis.

Anyway. The newspaper that discusses the attempts to move out the old tenants . . . .

. . . also has a story about the conviction of the United Freedom Front terrorists, a left-wing group that had been accused of bombings, bank robberies, and murder. Howard Zinn and William Kunstler came to their defense, of course.

While they were nice enough to warn people ahead of times about the bombs, “22 people were injured in one 1976 bombing at the Suffolk County Courthouse in Boston, including a courthouse worker who lost a leg. The group was most active in the early 1980s. The UFF's members lived undercover in middle-class suburbs."

Because of course. The prosecution was led by . . . Robert Mueller.

As good a place as any to climb out of the rabbit hole.








Over eighty thousand souls. The downtown doesn't seem to reflect that.

Named for the boulders in the area. It was in the running once for state capitol, but when the votes were totaled, it came in last. Now it spends its day sending back mail intended for Colorado.

Post offices were always emissaries of styles, miniaturized. The 60s brought the skyscraper International style in tiny form. Here we have the 70s and 80s stripped-down Federal non-essence.

Elephant-man fake rock and a Buckaroo Revival awning: well done everyone

Garage or service station? Both, of course. But what’s the brand?

I’m not sure it had one. The style seems homemade.

Is this going to be one of those towns that’s absolutely starved for good architecture?

Of, for that matter, any architecture at all?

Cinder-block construction. I wonder if those chairs were repurposed from the inside - something about them says 60s AMF furniture.

Nice photobomb from the plant.

Bowling alley, so yes, this makes sense.


Not even the motel has any style.

Doesn’t even look like a motel.

Finally, something old and big.

Helpful arrows; not at all confusing

Permanent painted dates for the fair?

“Free Enterprise Health Mine” has a website.

Yeah, about that health part. Radium?

Better. I mean, it’s old and busted, but the 30s rehab is classic.

I bet they never thought it would be called “Classic” one day.

“Nope, turns out folks ‘round these parts ain’t willin’ to go up two steps to shop.”

"Let alone three."

Now it’s a uranium mine.

They love their arrow signs in Boulder.

Did the streets sink?

Faded murals don’t do a town any favors.

Is Sig’s still open? Can one, in fact, still get a swig?

A previous visit of the Google Car answers our question about Sig’s.

PK's or SIG'S, the signs are gone now.

Main Street’s full array. Most of the buildings are too dull to consider individually, if I can judge from my selections in this folder.

What the First Choice in Montana was, well . . .

Some know. But they’re not here to tell us.


That'll do! Back to Google Main Streets now.



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