Yesterday was my birthday; I went to a wedding and came down with a cold. So this year will only get better.
I was outside on Friday night around midnight and spied this fellow hanging from a beam in the gazebo.
Now, I hate spiders. We’re supposed to hate spiders. There is a natural revulsion that comes from millennia of training, and while I admire the inquiring minds who find them fascinating, and study them, and enjoy peering into their dead godless faces and letting the hideous things skitter along their forearm, JEEZ NO. NOPE. But interested in taking a better picture, I went around to the other side to see if I could take a flash picture, thinking “this is just typical spider life, building a web, hanging around HOLY CRAP” because an insect had flown into its web and the spider had sprung into action. Fumble for the slo-mo feature . . . and.
A capper on a fine Friday. All the basics were observed in their most perfect form. There was a moment when I picked up the pizza; I’d put 7 PM as the pick-up time, and I arrived at 6:54, and there it was on the hot shelf. Pizza is like Veal Prince Orloff. You leave it on the hot shelf too long and it dies. It just loses its essence, and becomes a leathery circle with the sauce hammered out by industrial warming lamps. I asked the clerk if it had been there long, and he said no, no, no, it just came out, really, see? It’s still warm. I wanted to say “but if I had come at 7 as we had mutually agreed, would that not mean it had been under the lamps for six minutes at the very least? It would be crisp but not fresh. It would be pizza, technically, but I don’t see the name on the sign outside is TECHNICALLY PIZZA.
But I just took it and left.
After dinner I went on errands with Daughter, a four-store shot performed with brutal efficiency. Earlier I had picked her up at the end of her week-long internship at a vanity press, where she’d been asked to write a blog post about books. She wrote a critique of Young Adult novels that tread the same territory - dystopian future, teen fratricide, and so on. Quote:
...with so many people dying to strike gold just like J.K Rowling and Suzanne Collins did. But what's THE POINT IN BUILDING AN EMPIRE IF YOUR THRONE IS MADE OF RECYCLED MATERIAL???
She was proud of that. While I waited, I took some shots of a disused industrial building, because I’m always interested in bricked-up buildings. They turn their backs on the world and tell you something changed for the worse. Light begone. Light be banished.
Anyway, shopping. At Target she came up with a theory that the attractive packaging of bleaches and detergents is a plot to cull the dim, who would drink it thinking it was candy. Proof: the bottle was vaguely triangular, which suggested the Illuminati. Proof: the Target UP AND UP logo, when reversed, has an arrow that points down, and the words look like DN and DN. Really:
The truth is out there, and also in here, in the Bleach Aisle. We sampled some air fresheners, and I found one I actually liked. It’s called Summer Swim and has a hint of tanning oil. The entire line was on clearance, half off, which means it’s dead and will never be seen again. I bought three cans. I don’t know why. You spray the stuff, it falls to the ground, and that’s it. Useless. But it did smell like summer, and summer in a week will feel as if it’s about to be in short supply.
Not now, though. This is a perfect time. Warm night as we drove home. Last time we did the shopping and drove home we listened to Rhapsody in Blue, which I CRANKED; this time it was “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” if that’s the title of the Croce song. “This one tells a story!” I said, feeling like Homer Simpson. And it’s not really much of a story. So there’s this tough guy who shoots pool on 42nd street. We are reminded by the iteration of the chorus lyrics that he is a tough guy with whom no rational mortal would contrude, But then a guy named Slim comes along and beats the living crap out of Jim, which put the lie to the earlier assertions about Big Jim’s stature.
It seems unlikely that a country boy with a slim build would come all the way from South Alabama to perform this act of retribution. I mean, it’s a long way to New York City, and what assurances did he have that he would find this Jim? For that matter, why wouldn’t you tug on Superman’s cape? Maybe you need to get his attention.
“I was in gym class when we heard he had died in a plane crash,” I said. Because every time I hear a Jim Croce Song I remember that.
Now, “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” came after the story of Jim, and features the same anti-climatic beatdown of its titular alpha male. But the lyrics do not adjust to reflect his diminished status; after his humiliation, they still sing about Bad Bad Leroy Brown. Apparently he was still impressive after looking like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone, and learning a mess about messing with the wife of a jealous man.
What constitutes a Mess, anyway? I doubt it’s a quantifiable amount. If you resembled a puzzle with four pieces gone, that wouldn’t be Two Messes.
Once home I set about the usual Friday duties, cutting up scans and arranging pages for future sites; stumbled across a folder that made me realize the 60s site will continue long into 2016, because I have a huge department store catalog to post. Not that it matters now, but it matters For History. Every day I stumble across a site that consists of scans of Old Stuff, and the pleasure at finding a comrade is tempered by the fear that these things will vanish if the site’s owner gives up or the blog platform dies or the Wayback Machine doesn’t hoover it up. For those about to scan, I salute you. It is a gesture of hope and faith.
I still want to print it all off. I have to print it all off. Time is a spider: it freezes and cocoons its prey. But it eats them in the end.
So they say. Can they prove it? This week we'll take a look at the 1955 (or so) Fords, not to prove their do-it-all-ness, but just to enjoy the style.
And there's so much style.
Behold the sleepy-eyed clown car. EIGHT people can get in. A motto for our times: rear seat out! Tail gate down!
Unfunny, crass, banal, poorly written, riddled with cheap innuendo, and populated with decent actors: this thing is utterly irredeemable.
Except for one thing, and you’re looking at it.
But we'll get to that. The movie stars Mamie Van Doren, who does a superb job of being precisely what the script requires her to be, which is To Be. Tight clothes and competent line readings. It has Martin Milner, who goggles with disbelief - the same expression in almost every scene:
It also has Louis Nye, who overacts a little. Surprise.
It has the scion of one of America’s most notable acting families, John Carradine, and the kid from a famous tear-jerking Chaplin movie:
Jackie Coogan, who is already in Fenster mode. It has:
Bridgett Bardou's sister. To cap it all off, it has that staple of the era’s wacky comedy guarantees . . .
. . a Monkey. What else could it possibly provide? This:
That’s edited to make it safe for work. Yes, in 1960, the movie had a striptease with three, count them three, actresses revealing six, count them six, actual naked breasts. The segment was self-contained and could be dropped in or removed depending on the morals of the day. But here's what makes it special: The women are stripping for a robot and a monkey. If you wanted to sum up the cheap youth-market quickie movies of the day, that would be it: The women are stripping for a robot and a monkey.
More about that in a minute. First, let's look at some inadvertant documentary, as the characters speed through suburban LA streets. Old shabby Los Angeles, ripe for renewal or inhabitation by industrious newcomers. There's lots of this:
Knudsen! That would mean nothing to me if I hadn't done this site years ago.
A clue to the location:
f you wish to drive up and down the streets of Northridge looking for these buildings, my hat is off to you. Note: I do not wear a hat. It would be an imaginary hat, but the sentiment would be the same.
Brown's lifted someone else's trademark.
Which one? First person to identify it in the credit gets DOUBLE HAT DOFFING.
A classic Texaco, like my father had.
Finally, back to this fellow.
It pained me to see him like this. He’s THINKO in this movie, but you might know him by another name:
The road from '39 to utter crap teen culture was shorter than we think.