Boo. That's Spooky Ookie up there, in case you didn't recognize him. A Halloween character from the now-deceased Rolie Polie Olie children's show, and our household's version of the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin special.
A potpourri of items today.
There’s the StarTribune column. Subject: Halloween. As you may have guessed. You can’t not write about it, since it’s the event that has occupied the public imagination since the Back to School sales stopped in the first week of September. I’m already sick of it, but intend to have a great time Friday night with the neighbors. I’m going as a vampire of some sort, which shows much I get into this; it’s a cliché, and I don’t like vampires. Your classic Dracula is one thing, but all the subsequent Doomed Yet Eternally Glamorous Vampires are tiresome. Even if they do look like Kate Beckinsdale. We wouldn’t be talking about them if they lived on urine or ear wax, but feasting on blood somehow makes them exotic.
Second: here’s an ad, for no reason at all; found it in the archives the other day, and I just enjoyed the typeface. Unique to this ad, I’ll bet. In the days of hand-lettered ads, they didn’t do the entire alphabet. Just what the job required.
There’s another hair-loss ad on the page; the testimony describes how the actor, Billy Gilbert, no longer worries about “abnormal hair fall.” Apparently it was taboo to say your hair was falling out; just saying that it fell was sufficient.
Third: the annual Halloween Diner is up, banged out in haste over lunch. You’ll find it here in mp3 form, or here where you can sign up for iTunes subscription.
Four: since no site on lileks.com ever goes fallow forever, it’s time for some updates to the New York Postcard site. Six new cards, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And here!
Five: the resized, rescanned & updated Restaurant Postcards site is here. It’s the ignored little brother of the motel site, I guess – not as many pictures, and not as much swank neon, but it’s from the same era before the bigfoot chains homogenized the landscape. As with so many things, I probably have an interest in these because of dim happy gauzy childhood memories – although my love of motels comes from early stays in HoJos and Holiday Inns, the very places that drove out the ones celebrated in the motel site. Guilty, guilty. I did stay in the independent places when I worked down south in the summer of ’79 – they were cheap, and while the towels were thin and abrasive and the sheets had so much bleach in them even your dreams were blindingly white, they made me feel like a Man on the Road. You enter a chain motel, you enter a strange neutral nation scattered across the land. The Hojo Archipelago.
The love of chrome-and-glass modern restaurants is probably due to one place, which I’ve mentioned before – the Erie Jr. in Detroit Lakes, MN. It had a counter, a high ceiling, plastic booths in vivid hues, a roof that looked like it space ships could dock in the back, and it had that space-age vibe that shimmered off so many new things when I was very young. We had a keen sense of the future then; we knew the toys we had today would be the tools of the future. You know how you put your hand out the window when you were going fast, and undulated it up and down like a dolphin, riding the oncoming wind? The future felt like that. The future was a chrome-trimmed triangular window in the front of dad’s car, and it had its own knob to open it up. The future was a hamburger under a light fixture that looked like an atom. The future was going to be awesome.
I still get impatient with people who insist that it can’t be. Pessimists can be such bores, and it’s lazy to believe the worst. What’s the line about Scaramouche: he was born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad. I don’t think that’s the best modus vivendi, but it beats teaching yourself the curse of scowling and the sense that it’s all a grind to be endured until the tomb gapes wide, and the only respectable intellectual pose is a Menckenian disdain for those who refuse to see how shallow, small, vacuous and contemptible they are.
I blame the boomers, of course. ;) If you’re going to make a fetish out of the Authentic Values of Adolescence, with its withering critiques of humanity, then you’re going to value the slouch and the sneer as signs of a Deep and Serious Person. The Boomers were handed a Utopian ideal – practical, technocratic, rational, with silver wheels in the sky tended over by engineers and scientists - and they abandoned it for a Dionysian version based on wrecking and remaking the world they’d inherited. Their patron saint: Holy St. Caulfield, who identified the greatest sin in the human soul: being a phoney. Better to be an authentic bastard than someone who cannot successfully convince a teenager that some ideas have an importance that transcend the ability of the individual to manifest them 24/7.
Of course they got sour; if you believe a Utopia is possible if we just retinker human behavior to eliminate greed and dress codes and football and anything else that reminds us of Dad, be it the specific one or the unseen National Dad that rules the boardrooms and bedrooms and cloakrooms of DC, then the failure of this world makes it a dystopia, the worst of all possible worlds.
Some suggest that the great disenchantment began with the assassination of JFK, and I see the point. But it’s strange that it led to a loss of faith in us, given who shot the President. (Yes, I’m one of those lone-gunman wackos. I’m a freethinker! I refuse to accept concensus!) If Oswald had been a card-carrying Kluxer or a dead-ender Bircher or some sort of far-right-wing nutcase, I wonder if we would have accepted the Warren Commission and moved along. But no, he was a Communist. Well obviously there has to be more to it, then. Same with Sirhan Sirhan: his motivation will forever be a mystery, won’t it?
Once you start to believe in the dark shadowy forces, you’re done with the world. You’re done engaging it, you’re done enjoying it. There’s no point. It’s a sham, a shell, a shiny façade erected by the Jews / Bilderburgers / Trilateral Commission/ Council on Foreign Relations / Project for a New American Century / Masons / Knights Templar / Illuminati / Federal Reserve / Rockefeller-Royal Family Nexus / Bush Crime Syndicate / League of Grim Intent, and all you can do is post on the internet and call talk radio to argue with the hosts who think we’re free people.
It’s nice to see hope abroad in the land again, but I wonder who will be to blame when human nature asserts itself and the manna shipments fall behind. Someone has to be blamed, after all. It’s not the task that’s a fool’s errand. It’s the fools who refuse to believe in the task.
Well, that’s enough tendentious overgeneralization for the week. I would have put it up on the Screedblog, if it still existed. Oh, wait! It does. By the end of the year I should be splitting everything into three blogs – the Strib blog for daily peculiarities, the Bleatblog for personal and pop-cultural stuff, and the Screedblog for remarks on the lamentations of the day. It starts Monday – and expect massive interface tinkering for a while until it feels right. See you then! And don’t forget to hit all the links above; it’s a big serving today, and there’s something for everyone. (Warning about the Diner: contains some profanity and taboo words, but I didn’t say them.)
Have a fine Halloween, and I'll see you at buzz.mn.