Alert! Alert! Molemen begin invasion! Massive drill bit pokes through the crust of Chicago!

Actually, I like it. I like it a lot; it’s very elegant; I just hope it’s nailed down, lest it fly off in the wind and impale some other town that is simply minding its business. This is a rather interesting building as well – from Russia, too. Who knew? Don’t miss the fourth photo; the lobby appears to have some giant soul-mincing device for converting former proles directly into a convenient slurry, should the need arise.

The things you learn, checking the architecture boards. I didn’t know that the Studebaker Building in Times Square had gone down. Never mind the auto history; never mind that Big Spiderbeck himself played there with his band before he flamed out and died; this was the home to the Fleischer Studios, animation pioneers who created Betty Boop. Towards the end it was just something to hang billboards on, and now a new residential tower will rise on the spot. I don’t mind the new building, but it’s one more step towards the day when there wouldn’t be an old piece of Times Square left, aside from 42nd street. Which, admittedly, is a lot.

Friends, I am hashed. Rode hard, put away wet, fed mealy oats, etc. Stayed up too late, got up too early, and spent the night with Gnat – my wife was at a goodbye party for a former colleague (it’s either a welcoming party or a goodbye party; no one ever seems to have a “Let Us Presume This is the Midpoint of our Professional Arrangement Party,” no doubt because the date is difficult to fix with any degree of accuracy.) I had the afternoon off, as Gnat was attending one of her many classes; showed up early, sat in the lobby
and read “Public Enemies," an account of the crime wave of the early thirties, the criminals who cut a bloody lead road through the Midwest, and the remarkably inept attempts of the newly-formed FBI to bring them to justice. It’s nicely done, once you get used to the episodic back-and-forth structure; instead of staying with one gang the author take a chronological approach, so you see what Dillinger was doing while the Karpis gang was hiding out and the Barker gang holing up and the Parker gang laying low, or not. The book isn’t as saturated in period detail as I’d like, but he throws out nice images, such as a moll who’s arrested wearing a coat trimmed with monkey fur. I think the monkey-fur market is rather dry these days. Not a lot of call for monkey fur. And what part of the monkey did this come offa? I don’t want no butt fur, mister. Madam, we use only the finest back hair. Okay, then.

After classes we came home, and I slept for half an hour. Woke with a start during a dream where I was scrolling through the TiVo listings and came across “If You Hate James Lileks,” a documentary. While I was pleased that TiVo had automatically recorded the program, I was rather crestfallen nevertheless, and was trying to erase it unseen when Gnat woke me up and announced it was time to go to McDonald’s.

It wasn’t. Not for an hour. I made some coffee, turned on Hewitt, and felt my heart drop like a brick through a box of feathers when I heard the SAME GUEST, the CAIR spokesman from the previous day. But this time he was up against Frank Gaffney, who had this guy’s number. (Including Zero!) After a while we drove to McDonald’s Moon, so named by her for the hideous lunatic god-head robot in a tux who sits behind the player piano. Happy Meal Toy: a Neopet. Underwhelming. My meal: the cheese resembled either fresh, oiled vinyl or very old wallpaper that had just been steamed off. I felt instantly nauseated afterwards and spent the rest of the early evening tamping down my gorge. But! We had a mission. Gnat wants a fish. In a tank. So we went to a pet store, a large chain, and examined the underwhelming selection of neon tetras, whiskery miniature catfish, and tumor-headed goldfish. I got a bright idea:

Why not a big tank? Why not? Who doesn’t like to look at fish? If I ever designed the house of my dreams, I’d have a big tank two stories call with windows in every room. Not because I love fish; I’m rather indifferent to them, unless I’m snorkeling. A fish tank is the cable-access channel of the natural kingdom. But still, it’s better than nothing, and adds color, life, shifting patterns, and the reminder that one can still imprison and dominate some lesser creatures for your own aesthetic amusement. The Supreme Court hasn’t taken that away! Yet!

There’s a paragraph that will show up, read in a nasally voice by some ichabodnik on that documentary. (An “ichabodnik” is a thin, unattractive humoreless lefty nut. Just made the word up. Feel free to submit righty versions.)

Anyway. We were there for a fish and a bowl, not a big tank. I didn’t want this to turn into some typical tale recounted in a biography of President Gnat (“Her father, not surprisingly, was seized with the idea of buying a larger tank and filling it with spectacular fish from around the world, and so they left empty handed, but with many promises of the tank to come. He never bought it.”) I bought a tank – and noted that the water had to be filtered for 24 hours, or the fish would expire. It took some doing to explain this, but she relented once she realized that the alternative was no tank, no fish, and a less than damning anecdote in the biography. Would reflect rather poorly on her, for that matter. Do you want your biography to find hints of your characteristic impatience in your early years, foreshadowing your preemptive strike on Paris? No? Well, then. So we bought the tank.

Hit the grocery store for distilled water. On the way out a kind chap said “Keep up the Screedblog!” So I will. Expect a post around 11 AM.

New Fence yesterday; see you tomorrow.

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