Bin O' Skeletons, Party Store

I have 27 radio interviews next week. Spread over three days. The first day they start at 4 AM, I think. Radio Botswana, or something. The earliest interview I ever did was around 5 AM, for WLS in Chicago, many many years ago. Gruesome. I got up at 4:15 or so and started pounding coffee back. I should have eaten a can of Folgers Crystals. I fear next week will be much like that - and I have no idea what I will say about the book, either; I never have anything prepared. I’m sure by #27 I will have the patter perfected, but I never like the interview subjects who rattle of a pat neat summation at the start of the interview like they’ve had the jacket copy etched on the inside of their eyeballs. Well, we’ll see.

I’m at work, at the office. Not the desk, where the computer sits, but the coffee shop. Here I have a window view. From here I can see the big condo conversion project a few blocks away, the American Trio building. As long as I’ve lived in Minneapolis I’ve driven last the American Trio building. Anyone who’s attended a game at the horrid Metrodome has walked past the American Trio building. Not one person in a thousand could name it if you showed it a picture. And no one knows what the American Trio was. Or who. It was built 95 years ago:

It’s the sort of big dull blunt brick building cities have in abundance, a remembrance of when the riverfront was the city’s industrial center. Factories and storehouses. The buildings make spiffy lofts – unobstructed floorplates, picturesque columns thick, lots of windows to admit sunlight so the workers didn’t accidentally put an axe through someone’s arm. Then you’d have someone slip on the blood. Then you’d have someone trip on the arm. You’d lose a whole hour’s productivity.

It’s very modern, in a way – no ornament save some ornate pseudo-Sullivan designs writhing atop the columns where the capitols should be. But the columns aren’t really columns; they’re just suggestions of columns formed by recessing the spandrel - the space between the windows - and by placing some Romanesque arches atop the capitals:

The columns are implied without actually existing. Neat trick - and it only works because 2000 years of Western architecture has taught you to expect the column. You see it even it it's just suggested.

Now that it has new windows and a sense of purpose again, it’s a rather handsome building. It’s like the Sexton building, and yes, I am just writing off the top of my head here, without respect to who might give a fig about any of this. The Sexton was a dump – an ancient office building whose ground-floor row of stores looked like a blackboard that had been written upon and erased a hundred times. All the windows had been replaced long ago, with the upper row replaced with opaque material. Why? What fool looked at the windows and said “huh. Too much light comes through these things.” Maybe the landlord wanted to cut down on solar gain; maybe he just didn’t want to pay for more glass repairs. Maybe they dropped the ceiling and put in fluorescents. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it gave the building a sullen and bruised look. Imagine one of those pictures of a compound eye, like those a fly possesses; now imagine every individual eye half-closed, and you get the picture. Well, it’s getting turned into condos too. The first thing the new owners did was replace the windows on one sample unit, to show you what the new building would look like. Made all the
difference in the world. Then they removed all the windows and gutted the place. For a glorious fortnight the building was nothing but floors and columns. Now the windows are going up, and the building looks fresh, new, crisp – and anything but home.

I can see living in an apartment building, if it’s one of the giants going up downtown; sure, I’ll take the 37th floor. Thanks. Or this place: whoa. (Flash intro with music.) But living in an old office building does not quite connect. It would feel like my life had been filed here, placed here, delivered: Now go to Ikea and fill the place up. Have a crisp clean modern life.

Ahhh, what am I talking about. Clear case of writing myself into saying something I don’t quite believe. The right place, the right view; sure. But one of the units around the corner from here goes for an absurd amount of money – can’t see the river, limited view of downtown, and it’s twice the price of Jasperwood. Without the yard or a tree to call your own.

Well, trees aren’t for everyone.

But of course:
New today!

Today’s Wacky Old Europe link: Rome bans fishbowls on cruelty grounds. It gets better: they also have decreed that dog owners must walk their dogs daily. Or be fined. Said the author of the fishbowl ban:

It's good to do whatever we can for our animals who in exchange for a little love fill our existence with their attention," said Monica Cirinna, the councilor behind the by-law.
"The civilization of a city can also be measured by this," she told Rome daily Il Messaggero.

I hate to break it to a Roman, but there are these places? In your city? Where they have these little meetings every day, complete with candles and songs and lectures? While I’m not Catholic myself, I’ve heard that they do wonders to “fill our existence.” At least for some. If nothing else, they’ll give fish a run for their money.

The fine for not walking your dog, incidentally, is almost $600. If you were charged with such a thing, I recommend feeding high-denomination Euro notes to your dog, waiting 24 hours, then and leaving the money in a bag on the boulevard outside the city hall.

New podcast up; Halloween music is the subject. 8.6 MB download. Have a fine weekend, and I'll see you Monday.


Nutball wingnut sweet neocon nonsense