Old High School Demolition

They’re knockin’ down the old school, Maw – come see!

It doesn’t look like a school, but it was – this was East High, constructed in 1908, closed in ’24. It was part of a larger complex, the oldest portion was knocked down in ’51 for an inner-city strip mall I drove by daily for many years, and never entered. Not once. Some sort of record, I think. It was called the Eastgate Shopping Center, and had the usual life: whoo-hah fanfare when it opened (the modern age, with its vast & serene blacktop expanse, comes to the heart of town) the tired seventies (the old post-war modernism now looks cheap and sparse) the nineties makeover (let’s put a huge fake roof on the thing and paint it whichever color flatters our sense of modern, up-to-date urban life) and finally, death: the claw tore it apart and the trucks took it away. In its spot will rise a gorgeous new condo for gorgeous new people, and an upscale grocery store. The old neighborhood continues to improve; the rot has been scoured. But.

But. The Shopping Center once had a sports bar, McNamara’s, owned by a former Gopher football player, Bob McNamara. For decades it had a gigantic half-football on the roof of the shopping center, as though Hermes himself had spiked it from on high. It was kitsch, but it was an orienting landmark, a symbol whose meaning no one could mistake: this is a place where you can consume cooked meat and alcohol while surrounded with objects from bygone athletic competitions. The ugliness of the football, the scale of the thing, the honesty of the idea - pure products of its era, and you couldn’t do that today unless you did it ironically. Nowadays it would be the sort of place people would “discover” and make part of a working-class-neighborhood pub crawl, where you can rub shoulders with the professional drinkers as if they were creatures from a petting zoo propped up on stools. (Having been to a few of those in my day, I can testify to the palpable waves of loathing that rolled off the regulars when the Kids burst through the door.) The football was removed a few years ago before the demolition was even a glimmer in a condo-barker’s eyes, and I would like to think they found some treasure in its hollow innards.

Probably just a skeleton.

Wonderful weekend. Hot. Hot! It’s rarely this warm this time of year, but it’s been sixties and lower seventies, with more to come. Friday night I watched one of the worst horror movies ever made on any planet, “High Tension.” From the trailer I thought it would be one of those elegant nail-biting cat-and-mouse movies, as our Spunky Lank Gamine Heroine eludes a killer in a farmhouse, but no. It’s another “tribute to the horror films of the 70s,” a genre for which I have no affection, so I FF’d most of it. It’s French, for one thing, and I think French cinema is generally overrated. Better minds disagree, of course. Fine. Having seen one too many movie in which middle-aged men stare longingly at a young woman’s knee, I have my reasons. But. “High Tension” has one of those post-Sixth Sense “plot twist shockers” that renders the entire movie absolutely meaningless & impossible – but so Fronsh in its own way, non? At least it reminds you that our Eurobetters aren’t necessarily more enlightened about les sujets sexuels. Highlight the next graf if you want the spoiler.

The Spunky Lank Gamine Heroine who battles the mass murderer is – gasp! – a lesbian, and she’s in love with the woman he abducts, but as we learn about 70% of the way through the movie, the murderer is a figment of her psychotic imagination. She’s been driven mad by suppressed lesbianism, and she’s really the lumpy shapeless man who kills everyone who stands between her and the straight chick she likes. As if this isn’t annoying enough, it makes the entire movie suddenly . . . unimpossible, to quote Ralph Wiggums – there’s a scene in which the killer uses his truck to drive our heroine’s car off the road. I’ve heard of split personalities, but this is ridiculous! (Bad-bum.) The more you think about it, the more you realize that none of this probably happened at all, which makes it all a gigantic ho-hum. If the point of French film is to make you shrug your shoulders, Gallically, well, it achieved its objective. My mistake.

Saturday was Gnat’s final soccer game. She got a goal – first in the year – and was horsing around as a goalie, paying no attention, when some kid kicked one in from the other side of
the field. But they won anyway. Everyone got medals, of course. Team picture. Team cheer. Charming. Crisp bright autumn morning, trees in full blazing glory – enough to make me finally give in and admit Soccer into my heart. Previously I had grumped about the rise of soccer and the fall of baseball, as though the bones of George Washington would somehow weep the day soccer pushed baseball out of children’s lives for good – but frankly baseball bores me. Always has. Most sports do. I participated in a phone survey for the Timberwolves basketball team the other day; asked how many games I intended to attend, I pressed the number indicating “Zero.” Asked what was a major factor in my attendance choice, I waited for the option that said “Because it is basketball, and while I have an abstract appreciation of the athleticism and coordination involved in such an enterprise, I would rather sit in a soft chair and read a book. Even a book about basketball.” But the survey seemed fixated on matters of price and seat location and disinclined to press the matter of my general objections. Ah well.

Every sports event I’ve ever attended eventually felt like I was stuck in traffic. And then, after it was done, I’d get in my car, and be stuck in traffic.

Sunday I cleaned out the shed. It contains a large box full of planks of wood with rusty nails sticking out at all angles. The previous owners left it. I have no idea what they were doing with these things; maybe they worked for the Tetanus Promotion League of America, but I hear it was disbanded years ago. I need the space to store gazebo furniture and the generator I hope to buy – I expect the power grid will go down when the bird flu hits - so I finally dragged out all the crap. I found items from previous summers, bittersweet items of green days past – Gnat’s tent, her three-step toddler slide, pinwheels from the garde purchased in March at Target when they put up the garden stuff to make you ache for spring, anti-skeeter candles, and enough bug spray to make the Amazon fall silent. I discovered that I have, for reasons unknown to any of us, a bottle of powered coyote urine, the purpose of which is to make other creatures think you have a coyote about. The instructions listed some advantages of powdered urine over liquid, “ease of use” being first.

Seems about right.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say today; nice happy shiny empty mood, which is always the enemy of nominally interesting bleats. New Matchbook, of course; small Screedblog upate. Almost got the RSS fees ready, so stay tuned. See you Tuesday.