Rain. Hot. The first day of the year to which muggishness could be applied. It will be interesting to see if my Tie Resolve maintains through the hot times; I remember well walking through DC's malarial swamp to get to work, soaked by the time I reached Dupont Circle. When I entered the building the AC froze the shirt, and when I leaned back in my chair it was like reclining against a sheet of thin ice. That was how the day began.
All told, though, the 90s were good. I say that in light of what I mentioned last week - the way you pick a theme and mood from a decade and declare it Good, even if the light outweighed the dark by a score to 51 to 49. I regard the 70s as bad, because, well, the Seventies. And adolescence and those first wayward years at college. My first roommate was a genial fellow who festooned the dorm room bathroom's door with tiny pictures cut out from pornographic magazines, something that must have just delighted the housekeepers. (Whom I called the Zolas, on account of their expressions. J'accuse. They had cause.) He had something of a breakdown and left school; we met once afterwards, but it was strained. You form a certain bond with someone with whom you room, but take away the common space, and an absence of purpose, like a war, and you end up with a box made up of puzzles from two different pieces.
The fellow next door I saw about ten years back, maybe more. He was a guitarist of no small talents, and had a Jack Nicholson grin. Googling . . . well, well. Still at it. Bravo. The squirt who lived in the single unit, the one who has been gradually replaced in my mind with Michael Pollard Jr., I've no idea. There was Jeff B., who I got in touch with years ago because had mutual friends, all of whom I've forgotten. Or at least forgotten that they were mutual friends. Lost to me now, although A) I'm sure they don't consider themselves so, inasmuch as they give the condition no thought, and B) they could pop back up at any time.
Is it odd to remember the names of people from your first dorm year? Middlebrook hall was different; each floor had four wings, and each wing was a neighborhood. Most occupants receded into archetypes - the thin hippie guy who was into kites and frisbee, the dude who played Fleetwood Mac and was big with the lay-dees. I wish that year had been better. There were days I regretted going to the University of Minnesota, because I was absolutely lost, a minnow with a lame fin in a cold ocean. It all clicked in '78, but not enough to redeem the decade.
When I get together with the Seventies, I'm cordial, but I can't forget what happened.
So I started wearing ties when I moved to DC, and bought many from street vendors. Three for ten dollars. Street ties. Oh, sure, finest silk, said so on the cellophane. I still have a few, and wear them to work now and then. Why ties in the first place, though? Why dress pants now instead of jeans, shined shoes, a good crease? Because they make me stand up straight and feel like an adult. Better late than never.
I wore a tie in college as well. Same reason. Comportment. I sat in the restaurant and wrote while wearing a tie, sure that my heroes had done the same. They wore ties in all the pictures. A man with a good job wore a tie and being a writer was a good job. Today, as I said, it rained, and I had a long umbrella, and when I entered the building and closed it I walked along tapping it like a walking stick, and had to smile: surely I did this in college. In fact I know I did. Oh look at me, interesting character with a stick. But there's something satisfying about walking along with a stick in your hand. Knowing your tie is sharp. Knowing your shoes are shined. Knowing you're on your way to the job you always wanted and still love.
Then you get in the elevator and tuck in your shirt and realize that all through your lobby parade, your fly was open.
Anyway, that's how it is now. I go to work with a true sense of being an early-late-middle-aged guy who works in a nice place in a tall building in a beautiful city, and I'm content.
Yet it all comes off as soon as I'm home. The key word in "Silk Noose" isn't "silk."
I've been watching Masterpiece Theater's "Wolf Hall," aka "The Thomas Cromwell Stares Impassively at Things and People hour." It's very good. I was struck by the lighting, something that also set "Boardwalk Empire" apart - there's not a hint of artifice, just natural light in all its moods and hues. It reminds me of the shows I watched as a kid, which had uniform bright saturated light for everything. It was how you knew you were watching TV, because TV looked different from the real world, just as it sounded different, just as it had its own brands. The world of TV was a parallel universe that differed in the details you wouldn't notice unless you paid strict attention, and then you wondered why a certain off-kilter wrongness seemed to flavor its familiar world.
Anyway: I noticed something last night. Here's the famous Hans Holbein the Younger portrait of Cromwell.
Snapped this with my camera, so the color's a bit off.
I paused because - like so many moments in the show - it had the lighting of a great painting. And it does! But the painting on which it was based didn't have the Northern European style of the television show.
Anyway: it's a far cry from a Quinn Martin production.
Construction update: this one is shaping up nicely. It was a brave move not to go with the usual glass with occasional strips of stone. The windows are indented, which will give the facade an interesting look at sundown.
It's residential. I remember when it was first announced, and I thought "That's a lot of apartments." More buildings have been announced since. Peak residential downtown; the end of the boom is nigh.
Pupdate for this week: waiting to hear something he understands, and is relevant to his interests.
As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. Of course we begin with the Couple Next Door, with its cheerful soundtrack of the mid-century domestic scene.
Lots of new cues in the 600 episode series. I'm surprised - and I wonder where they were keeping them, and didn't use them before.
CND Cue #542 Extra mournful mocking here.
CND Cue #543 A little bit of Holst’s “Mercury” may have fallen into the composer’s mind.
Moving along with the innumerable Gunsmoke cues. Like the show itself - all different, and all the same.
Gunsmoke #80 Don’t count on it, Chester.
Gunsmoke #81 Matt is not surprised by this likelihood.
Until I find some different shows, a one-off from a serial / soap called "Whispering Street." Interesting idea; people who were minor characters in one ep would be the major characters in the next. Soapy and sappy with women having Problems, and caddish men who were shown up by better men. You get an idea of the time from this.
Whispering Streets Oh Diane. Music for the bored and dreaming housewife.
To round out the radio offerings,this week's advertisement. It's from 1960. Millions love them!
Sensational Sound! Whitest Calypso ever.
More from the excruciatingly ordinary Readers Digest record collection.
It's all the hits of today, played by clean-cut people who don't do drugs. This time:
Swing Era people llike you can enjoy the mopheads! Here, give it a try and don't think about their hair or the part about the gurus that came later.
Well, that'll do! I hope. Thank you for your visits this week, and you might want to head over to startribune.com to read my column. I'd be gratified if you did. See you Monday.