I’ve had enough Gatsby, to be honest; it’s a good book, required reading to understand the times - or at least how the times wanted to be understood by the smart set and the era’s subsequent critics. Watched the Redford version: gauzy and inert. Watched the Alan Ladd version: yeesh. Now there’s another, and while I’m not a fan of DiCaprio - he always seems to be angry about constipation - it's a tough character to play. Perhaps if they'd cast an unknown to play the cipher? But then no one would see it. 

I’ll go to the 3D version just for the scenes in Times Square.


But there’s some peculiar stuff in the trailer’s brief look at the Crossroads of the World: The Hotel Sayre, for example. There wasn’t any such place.


That’s the Astor.

Why would they do that? I’ll bet the shot lasts just a few seconds, hardly long enough for anyone to notice, unless you’re struck immediately by the obvious contours of the Astor. (The curved lights at the top give it away. Even then, only a few would get it.

“Sayre” was Zelda’s maiden name. Nice.

Then there’s this:


Edmund Goulding was the writer of “Broadway Rose,” so it’s doubtful he’d have second billing. Doesn't look genuine; looks too modern. Why the nod to Goulding? I'll bet the director is a fan, or someone who did the design for Times Square was a fan. Goulding had an interesting and varied career but isn't remembered much because he didn't make one of those 100 Greatest of All Time movies. So he doesn't count.

I think the reason I don’t feel that something has been Violated is because I don’t hold Gatsby as some sort of Iconic Figure of the times. I never felt any sorrow for Gatsby, because Daisy bored me. Yes, yes, I realize that she was supposed to represent something, just as he was, just as the light across the water was, just as the big enormous eyeglasses represent Fate or the prevailing moral sense or conscience or whatever you please. It’s a good book. It’s a great book. It spoke to the dreams and fears of a society that was suddenly flush and young and bent on fun. It was a Cautionary Tale. It channeled the romantic flush of one’s early twenties into a story that mistook those passions for tragic signifiers of the human condition in general, and the American experience in particular.

Really? We all stand at the end of the dock looking at the blinking light, wondering what could be, boats against the tide? Now and then; yes. I suppose. Maybe it’s just me, but life’s too short to marinate in regret - and life as we live it is too interesting to think the Question at the end of the dock has more meaning the answers we find on the shore.

It’s Tragic because it’s Deep. It’s Deep because it’s Tragic.

Okay. So. Jay Gatz is born on a farm in North Dakota, goes to college in Minnesota. I can understand that. I lack the grinding-rural-poverty portion of his narrative, or the restless desire to remake myself by seeking quick advancement in criminal circles to amass the wealth that will give me social stature, but everyone wants to be something more, and in college I certainly did. Question of what, and how. That’s everyone’s question. What do I want to be, and how do I want to get there?

The truth of the American experience is not found in a cypher like Gatsby, but the millions of people who moved out and moved up and found themselves in a better place - the story, in other words, of everyone in my parents’ families. No one had a Long Island mansion, but compared to a shack by the river with rats? A rambler in the new development and a car in the driveway and a business of your own, or a job with the city running the municipal garage, or a job flying jets for an airline, or any of the other things my aunts and uncles did - that’s far more impressive than anything Gatsby did. Gatsby was the guy who sweet-talked himself into the cockpit and BSd the crew, but in the end, he puts the plane into a mountain.

Which would be a damning indictment of the principles of flight, right?

I have no animus against the superrich. I have no interest in them. What they do, what they buy, where they go. Nothing they do means anything, really. Discovering that there’s a $50,000 iPhone cover encrusted with diamonds means nothing. Realizing that millions of ordinary people have iPhones is far more significant.

The music in the trailer is probably placeholder stuff while they come up with something that’s either scrupulously correct or remixed for modern audiences who regard anything other than thump-a-whump techno with moans and gutteral grunts as the musical equivalent of Shakespearean dialogue.

Working on the Motel Site, which premiers today in typically rag-tag form, half-finished. What’s new? Whenever possible, you’ll see how it looks today.

Finding the locations of these motels on Google Street View is usually depressing, because nearly all the places have gone to seed - if they’re still around. The neighborhoods were once the outskirts, but the outskirts moved on, and the rot moved in. The grand signs came down; the pool was filled; the chairs for sittin’ and watchin’ stored away or stolen; the sheets got thin and scratchy, the rooms accumulated too many ghosts, all trying to speak at once through the vacant howl of the air conditioning unit; the maid no longer put a belt around the toilet, the TV took to wobbling on its stand; the drawers squeak and there’s no stationery anymore, just an uncracked Bible with the gilt edges the only sign in the place that there’s anything like gold in the whole world. It smells. The couple next door is arguing. There aren’t any children anymore.

They’re all Bates motels. It could be a chain. It probably should be.

Anyway, there's about 28 of them, right HERE. Expect interface adjustment as we go along. Enjoy! See you around.





And now, a boring account of why, for the love of God, I decided to redesign the Motel Postcard site, and why it required rescanning the entire collection.

Because: I wanted the pictures to be bigger.

Because: since I first put up the site - ten years ago, with two subsequent overhauls - Google Street View has made it possible to see what these places look like today.

Because: the way I write these sites makes them opaque to Google. The name of the motel isn’t always on the page. The title of the picture is numerical, which doesn’t help. Why? you ask. Why would you do that? Originally, the pictures had the motel’s names, but about five or six years ago I switched to numbers, because there was less chance for screwing up the navigation buttons. I make a template, I put in the picture, I code the buttons to go to ../index, and then to 2.html. Duplicate the page. In the main image pane, replace 1.jpg with 2.jpg; in the navigation panel, replace ../index.html with index.html, and 2.html with 3.html. Repeat until done. I still screw it up, but it’s simpler.

But that doesn’t help anyone who’s looking for a picture of that particular motel, for whatever reason. This was the same rationale behind the Matchbook museum overhaul - now there are indexes for each section with the name of the matchbook, so they have a presence in the great and all-seeing Google. Same with the motels.
I’ll be rolling these out every Thursday for the rest of the summer - motel season! - and there’s new stuff interspersed with the old, and Google Street Views whenever possible.







blog comments powered by Disqus