Sorry about the lack of a tweet on the new blog, but A) Twitter was hosed today, and B) there were technical difficulties with the blog. Should be rolling tomorrow. A good day. Sunny and busy. But because it had no consistent narrative, I give you:
Odds and Ends.
I was FF through “Rancho Deluxe” the other day - I like to call up old movies I really don’t want to see and speed through them, in case they ever come up in conversation, and I feel required to say something like “an understated cult classic with gorgeous Montana scenery” - when I caught one of those frames that made me hit STOP. Which is stupid, because it shut down the movie. So I hit PLAY. And then PAUSE, if you’re anal-retentive about these things.
An old downtown. Livingston. A Coke ghost ad.
How about today?
The sign’s still there. In fact, if you look right, you’ll see another.
One of those “I have no idea how I got here” web sessions that started with a search for the history of a particular hotel in New York and turned into Bollywood and ended at a site called SantaBanta.com. It’s Indian. A joke:
Once Santa and Banta got duty at the airport for the assistance to the foregin tourists.
One traveler asked Banta in Spanish, "Where to find city bus for Connaught Placeâ€, but Banta could not answer since he did knew the language.
The traveller repeated the same question in French, German, Japnese, and English but Banta couldn`t answer because he didn`t know any of the languages.
Santa asks Banta, â€œI asked you to learn atleast one foreign language and it will help you one day.â€
Banta said, â€œThat man learned five languages and couldn`t serve any purpose, then how one language to me would have served any purpose."
Source: B.N. Nagpal
I wondered if the jokes were named after the site, or vice versa. Turns out Santa and Banta are Dumb and Dumber, and there’s a wealth of jokes about their merry idiocy. Around here we call them Ole and Lena jokes. Is there a culture that doesn’t have them? Did Stone Age people grunt Ogg and Bog stories? Ogg go to hunt tiger. Bob already eaten by tiger. huh huh huh huh.
On the main page of SantaBanta:
Apparently we're supposed to supply our own green-screen backgrounds.
Google Maps has a million secrets. While mousing around, this popped up:
So much anger and heartbreak lurking in the code, waiting for a stranger's pointer to pass over.
As for that hotel, it was the Drake. One of those big Manhattan piles that had a vogue, slid down, limped along, and was felled for redevelopment.The replacement is HOLY HANNAH LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT THING.
1,300 feet tall. Eighty-four stories, 128 condos. You know what might be hard to sell? The fourth floor. What’s the point of living in the tallest residential tower in the city if you’re on the 4th floor? Bring people over to see the place, and they expect an Olympian view.
New York is full of new construction, including many hotels of immense dimensions, utterly lacking in any architectural merit. The building above, for example - really? A flat roof? That’s it? Others are sheathed with the most overused idea from the late 70s, reflective blue glass - something perfected with our own IDS center decades ago. It's a building that worked best as it stood for years: alone, like a tentpole for the sky.
One of the foremost chroniclers of roadside culture is John Margolies - if it’s a good clear straightforward picture of an old theater or diner or rusty gas pump or motel sign, it’s probably his. He has some great books, and a rather outdated website with tiny pictures. I got one of his collections for Father’s Day, and was perusing the drive-in theaters when this hit me:
(closeup of a picture by John Margolies; the full-sized original can be found in Roadside America.)
And I mean it hit me. I haven’t seen that since it went down in 1981, but I could feel the relevant brain cells just ignite and let loose whatever chemicals had stored the sight, unretrieved, waiting. That shape, those letters, those colors - this is a primal childhood memory. Stuff looked like this when I was a little kid.
The Star-Lite was alongside the highway that went to the farm; on Sunday nights when we came back, and I fell asleep during the ten-mile ride, I always knew we were getting close to home when the car took the curve that led into Fargo. If I was still awake I could see movies playing on the screen, big silent spirits moving and talking. I recall one trip as a child, when I got to go in my pajamas - parents were encouraged to bring kids and let them run around in the playground underneath the screen. The slide and swingset was still around when I went to the drive-in in high school, but it was rusty and disused, and stood as a Sad Reminder of Bygone Childhood.
Hey, good news! This site, which seems to be one of those informational sites assembled by robots, says it’s still around!
It was demolished 31 years ago. Anyway, this aerial shot shows the theater in 1952. The area that would become my neighborhood is still farmland. The big circular track is the old Fairgrounds.
Can’t remember the last movie I saw there. Probably Rancho Deluxe.
New Wards 1961! See you around!