Today: Angry stuff, chipper stuff, then angry stuff. Begin:

Let me just say for the record that this four-column Tuesday stuff has to end. All work / no play / dull Jack-boy = ax through family bedroom door inevitable.

Gimme the bat! Gimme the bat. Gimme!

<composing self>
<resisting voices of demonic lodge bartenders>

Okay. Let’s get on with Column Number Four!

What’s the left-wing equivalent of “Goose-stepping?” I was watching a story on TV about a new lefty talk-radio network, and they interviewed this desiccated husk named Mike Malloy, and he mentioned that this new net would counteract all the “goose-stepping” that was pumped out by right-wing talk radio. Hmm. I listen to Prager, Medved, Hewitt. The first two guys are Jewish, so “goose-stepping” isn’t a word I’d toss in their general direction. I’ll admit that the field has some regrettable figures like Michael Savage, about whom I’ve written before: he has Michael Moore’s factual grasp, Al Franken’s warmth, and Paul Begala’s temperate nature. He’s the worst of the lot.

Any left-leaning talk-radio network will eventually produce a Savage of their own. How the more moderate voices deal with him will be instructive - but that’s yet to come. I repeat: what’s the left-wing equivalent of Goose-stepping? We know what that means: Right-wing = Nazis. This idea is so commonplace and unremarkable it made its way to the comics section of my paper, where the dreadfully unfunny Lalo Alcaraz did the Repubs = Nazis thing last Monday. An amusing charge, coming from a guy who shows up at MEChA seminars.

But Communism doesn’t have anything that can be expressed as pithily as “Goose-stepping.” Except, of course, for the goose-stepping: May Day parades featured some marvelously crisp leg-swings. And the parallels just keep coming! By some peculiar coincidence, the attributes of National Socialism are quite similar to the Soviet system: forced relocation of ethnic groups, the extermination of economic classes, the subservience of Art to the needs of the State, the imposition of Terror as a means of enforcing Party loyalty, the mass arrests, the hasty graves.

The one thing that made the Nazis distinct from the Sovs was the former’s fixation on racial identity. Blood Uber Alles. What’s your race? C’mon, we need to know. What - is - your - race?

How can we understand you if we don’t know your race?

I’m lucky; I don’t know where I come from. We have some theories, but they’re just that. One side of my lineage dead-ends in an adoption; the other trails off in Europe, east of Paris. Don’t know.

Don’t. Care. I’m a mongrel. I’m a race mixer. Everyone into the blender; fine by me. What I do know is that anyone who believes as I do today would have been shoved on a train by the real goose-steppers circa 1943.

But that’s irrelevant. I freely admit I’d like to see control of Head Start grants handed over to the states as per the Bush proposal, instead of controlled from Washington in perpetuity. Heil Hitler!

Friday had a merry computer moment. It was quittin’ time; I was ready to slide down the dino’s tale and head home. All I needed to do was hit SEND and whisk the copy off to the desk . . . but there was no send button. To be honest there was never any send button before; in ATEX, the mid 20th-century program on which our gazette depends, you’d type PMRIM-p2g, and hit F1. (I used to send it to the delightfully named GASLOT-p2g, but no more. Ah, those halcyon gaslot days. It meant General Assignment Slot, but I always thought of a Gas Lot, some black-and-white corner station from a 20s Disney cartoon with vacuum pumps and Model Ts with patched balloon tires. Surely they had a series of comic shorts starring some knockabout kids: the Gas Lot Gang.) Now we’re in DTI, which stands for something I can’t remember. You have to select the story in your “Data Center,” choose the destination, and hit the send button. Incrementally more intuitive. I’m all for this DTI thing, mostly because we’re working in an Adobe word processor (yes, they make one; who knew?) and it’s more wizzywigger than anything we’ve ever had in this business. So I call up my Data Center.

It’s not there. The options are grayed out. Hmm. Consult manual. The Data Center is in the “Novell delivered applications window,” which shows up when you log on. Well. For seven years I have begun every day at the office by closing this window, because it never had anything I needed, and I like a clean desktop. Now I need it - and hello, there’s no way to get it. Once you dismiss it, it sulks and leaves and goes in the garage and smokes cigarettes, and it’s not coming up to say goodbye to Grandma no matter what. So I reboot. I say nice things to the Novell window; I open the “Data Center.” (WHATEVER the hell that IS.) I will not open my copy. It doesn’t tell me why; just says that it can’t.

Now. Put yourself in my Converses: I agreed when I took the stripped-down instruction test that I would not call tech support. That was the deal. They gave me the fast & brisk version, and I would not forget everything the moment training was over. So let’s see what we can do. I find the column: generic Windows icon. Oh, great. I assign it to the Adobe program. Still doesn’t work. Try to open it in other word processors, like, well, Word.

Word hangs.

Try to open it in Notepad: gibberish.

Well, relax: the way DTI is set up, there’s always a copy on the network!

Except that there isn’t.

I called tech support. Now it’s 5 PM on a Friday.

It took them half an hour, but they got the column. And here’s the punchline: It was my computer that was wrong. Not me! I rule! The computer had managed to corrupt the Adobe program somehow, and the entire machine will have to be “refreshed.” As for the network copy that did not exist: whoever wrote this program didn’t think that someone might start a story offline. If you start writing offline, the program doesn’t spray a copy onto the network when you eventually connect. The programmers were so fixated on the network that they never considered the fact that someone might start working on a laptop on a bus somewhere. And we never would have known that if my machine hadn’t turned on the program and took a bit bite out of its haunches from sheer spite.

Hell. If I had an Apple laptop instead of an Evo (that’s the name of the thing: Evo. They want me to think “evolution” but I think “the Axis of Evo” or “The Evo-doers) I’d just set up iSync to wake up the laptop, connect via wireless, and sync the work folder in the wee AM. But of course the phrase “if I had an Apple laptop” shows how deep in the gauzy mists of la-la land I am. Cue the Tevye tune:

Oh if I had an Apple
Daidle daidle daidle daidle daidle daidle daidle dee
All day long I’d daidle daidle type
If I had a daidle book

I wouldn’t have to reboot!
Daidle daidle daidle (etc.)

I meant to put this in the comments of Michele’s entry on a trip to Ground Zero, but remembered: hey, I have my own site. Read the entry, and click on this link.

The building is 87 West, aka the Coal and Iron Building, aka the Railroad and Iron Building. The old names are as evocative as they are utilitarian, remnants of an age when you could look at the name on the stationery and tell what the company made. Remantia; Cobian; Lucent; Thrivent; Accenture; Brabrantia - who knows what these mean? (And two are fictional.) When you walk into the Coal and Iron Building, you know what you’re in for. You wouldn’t be surprised to see COAL written over one bank of elevators and IRON spelled out over the next.

For such rude commodities, such a lovely building. The Coal and Iron building was the work of Cass Gilbert, one of the finest architects of the early 20th century. He worked in the classical mode; he was the sober version of Stanny White, the stone beneath the gilt. Several New York skyscrapers - the Woolworth, of course. The Coal and Iron. The Met Life building - not his best, and proof that among artists the architect’s fate is unparalleled: The painter’s bad canvas is relegated to a side gallery; the author’s unreadable novel languishes in the back stacks of the library. The unsuccessful skyscraper, however, stands there every day, every week, every month of the years that make up a century, and more.

I always enjoy seeing Gilbert’s work when I’m in New York; even though he was born in Ohio and moved to NYC in 1907 or so, we consider him one of those honorary Minnesotans who left his mark and left with regret. He had a practice here. He designed the State Capitol. He designed the Mall of the University of Minnesota. Even though the final design wasn’t exactly his, and an associate did the details on most of the buildings, the Mall breathes with Gilbert’s spirit. I laid on the grass in the summer, laughed at the itinerant god-botherers, proposed to my wife on the steps of the great Auditorium.

The Coal and Iron Building was heavily damaged on 9/11. It’s still wrapped in scaffolding. The building is regarded as an early draft for the ideas that flourished in the Woolworth building, another Gilbert masterpiece stained by that fatal day: one of the shots I could never get out of my mind was the image of lower Manhattan consumed with smoke and fire, the lone spire of the Woolworth building visible through the pall coughed out from the collapse of the WTC. It paralleled a picture taken decades ago, a picture of lower Manhattan’s famous spires wreathed with clouds. In the old picture heaven had come down to grace the towers’ tops; in ‘01 hell had risen to pull the towers down.

Years will pass before the human horror will fade, but now and then it’s necessary to spare an hour or two for the aesthetic and historic damage those sons of bitches wrought.

Their crime spared nothing.

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