At six PM Sunday the clouds broke and the sun blared through, just like that moment in the end of Mahlers first when the brass lurch up into a new key. We sat in the Giant Swedes backyard, basking, soaking it in, marinating in the glorious photon broth until we all realized: were all wearing long pants. This is kinda uncomfortable.
And so summer begins.
Memorial Day was observed in a desultory fashion, I guess; I had no family obligations so I went to the office, wrote a column, then walked around downtown for two hours taking pictures while listening to Dennis Prager talk to callers whod lost people in combat or conflict. I ended up at the Armory, an old Moderne gem by the Strib building. Its a parking facility now. Several years ago I toured the ruined interior with a kid whod called me up, said he was a patron of the site, and had been granted access to the offices and halls. Like to come? Uh yeah. I thought of him today as I walked around the building. It has a tidy memorial garden now. The rusted signs bomb shelter, National Guard recruitment center still hang off the bricks, impervious to anything that would dislodge them. For all our storms and winds and blizzards, we have nothing capable of pulling an old nail from the ancient mortar, it seems. The building itself seems safe from time and the swinging ball all the proposals to rehab it have fallen to the side, but the renaissance of the area means itll probably find a new life in ten years or so. It has that Hitler-Whuppin vibe that still evokes respect. It has stern eagles and streamlined sides. It has the words ARMORY carved in stone, good Minnesota Kasota stone, and while no one would insist that it helped keep the world free, it looks like a place that holds the ghosts wed like to see granted flesh again. It looks like a place where guys in hats smoked Luckies and read the war news in Life. When all the boomers dads are gone, someone will get the bright idea to make it a museum. Not a War Museum, of course; cant have that. But thats what it would be. Thats what it wants to be, but all it can do is wait.
Oh, and the kid who invited me - he showed up at the Strib office months later, around 10/01, to drop off some pictures. He was wearing a uniform. He'd enlisted. I thought of him today, too. I think of him most times I pass the building, for that matter. With gratitude. And admiration: he's a submariner now. Me, I got claustrophobic in the Armory.
Watched The Aviator, which was fine. Cant decide if Leonardo DiCaprios performance as an unknowable cipher was so good it seemed effortless, or whether he was just highly adequate in a film with outstanding art direction and supporting actors. Doesnt matter, I suppose. He did nail the latter Hughes much better than the earlier version, but that was mostly the work of oily hair and peevish annoyed scowls. Again, doesnt matter. It was a pleasure at the end of the night to turn off all the TV equipment, though. TV: Panasonic. Amp: Harmon Kardon. DVD player: Samsung. Satellite receiver:
Note: if you saw the movie, you recall that Alec Baldwin, the eeeevil Pam Am chief, had his office in an incredible space atop the Chrysler building. Not so, I think. The set was based on the Cloud Club, about which more can be read here. (NYT, RR - maybe.) One of the great lost spaces of New Yorks aerie culture.
This is the week things end; Gnats school concludes, she has her last piano recital. Tomorrow is already the Day of Labor and Surcease, the day when two columns are due and Im relieved from copy-desk bondage by four so I can take Gnat to swimming lessons. It always feels like the end of the workweek, in an odd way; things dont ramp up again until Sunday night. But that means Im writing this in the thick of Monday, when two columns have to be finished. The three-day weekend threw off my rhythm, so I have to get back to work. More tomorrow; new Fence; see you then.
Perm link: here.