It was so hot Friday (hhwi?) I abjured the bourbon, and I am not a bourbon abjurer. (If there’s anything I should abjure it is the word abjure, since it’s obscure and gets in the way of comprehension.) Friday is bourbon night, but when it’s 87 at 10 PM, no. No. Yes, yes, some say: cocktails! Refreshing, delightful cocktails. Have an Upper Manhattan - it’s a twist on the classic drink, with muddled anise and crusted bagel crumbs on the rim! No. I don’t make cocktails. Oh, I’ll have one if I have to, and certainly admire those well-versed in mixology, but at home, on Friday, when sitting down to do some work? Nah. Glass, rocks, pour.

So that’s one weekend ritual cast out. The other: doing a radio show after supper. The host is out of the country, so I went to buy a sofa bed. There’s a sentence I never expected to write, and if someone had told me I would write it some day, I would have been intrigued to see what fascinating circumstances led up to it. Alas, nothing fascinating. Daughter wants a small sofa for her room to sit in and read or a place for friends to sit, and since we saw one at IKEA that was chic & cheap, and since she’s at camp, I thought I would get it and surprise her.

Off to IKEA by my secret route, which does not involve the usual highway approaches to the Mall of America. Figured it wouldn’t be too busy, it being 7:20 on Friday. Wrong. Thronged. I cut my way through the crowd, slicing diagonally through showrooms, following the serpentine path until I realized I’d overshot, and had to go back. Let me tell you, friends, it’s like the scene in “To Live and Die in LA” where they drive backwards on the freeway. But I found it, got the Row and Bin number, dragged the thing from the warehouse and rolled the box through checkout. Fast. Simple. Only 96 pounds; got it into the car without ticker-seizure.

On the way out I had to pause to take a picture of the new developments going up around the Mall. Architecture has entered a phase of theatrical absurdity.

Pity they have to cover up the yellow wrap; it could be an IKEA building. Here's context:

I like the way the building on the right seems like the sober, responsible sibling, and the one of the left is the party-hearty gal who will end the evening with a busted heel. These are not buildings; they are billboards. And there’s a role for that, of course. In Vegas or some megacity. Or, conversely, in a place that is no place, and has no antecedents.

As I cut across the parking lot - empty, being a waiting area for buses and airport transfer vans - there was another car approaching diagonally at the same pace. We were headed for a collision. We were both doing 5 MPH. As the other car passed in front I saw a woman in the front seat, and Douche McSwankbeard in the driver seat. He seemed to say something about me, as the woman turned to look. He glared, as if warning me off something, then went back to twitchy gesticulation. I parked to get out and take the picture. They parked a dozen yards away.

Now I felt as if I was suspicious. I didn’t feel suspicious, but there was something so barbed about the eye contact, and the fact that I had the gall to suggest a perpendicular rival to his preferred approach. It was as if there was so much paranoia in their car it flowed out through the vents and swamped everyone in a 50-foot radius. WHY WAS MY CAR IN THIS EMPTY LOT GOING TOWARDS HIS CAR

Almost wanted to cruise past and make that camera-clicking gesture and then a thumbs-up, then shrug and whip off my sunglasses. Give him something to write about on his blog.

Oh, who am I kidding? He doesn’t have a blog. No one has a blog.

Here's a close-up of the other one. I think it sums up a different kind of empty environment, the one where the comforts of affluence have filled every need except for the one for meaning:


Hit the highway, and realized this was the first of a limited number of evenings left: driving home fast on the open road in the waning hours of a hot evening, summer still strong but no longer eternal, a perfect song playing. I turned everything up as loud as it would go and turned down the windows and took that curve that makes you feel G-forces if you play it right. As ordinary a day and evening as you can imagine, and it had felt glorious from start to this moment. Summer’s the best when it’s new, and when it’s been handled for a few months. Polished and smoothed, like a stone you’ve had in your pocket. Soon enough comes Labor Day when you pull it out and skip it on the water. And watch it sink in a second.

So what’s left for the summer? The lakes next week every day. The State Fair. And after that - the day after summer technically ends, the day after Labor Day - it’s a day trip to the boneyard, and believe me, you’re going to love this story. For those of you’ve been following the site for a while, great rewards await.

What, exactly, does “a while” mean? Who’s the oldest here? I know people come and go, and I shed segments depending on whether I am Doing That Thing Again or Not Doing That One Thing Anymore, but it’s hard to think I drove anyone off because there just wasn’t enough to warrant a repeat visit. There's always a lot of something, even if it's just matchbooks.

And that's it for the above-the-fold portion! But later, matchbooks.



I’ll make this quick.

You might think you’re getting a western . . .

But it’s a social drama. A spinach pic.

That’s a charitable way of putting it. Basic plot: There’s noble flinty old-world Father, hanging on to the old ways of the old people whose oldly oldness is at odds with today’s jumped-up ducktail-hair “rock and roll” ways. There are conflicts and romance across racial lines, every cliche unrolls as you’d imagine. So why am I doing it? The reviews told me what to expect in advance, and it’s not exactly filled with nuance. It has few scenes that have that black-and-white composition we love to detail here. A little inadvertant documentary . . .

And some great street scenes. Note how the outside stairs go all the way up to the second floor to a big windowed storefront.

The movie was shot in Grass Valley, but I can’t find anything that lines up.

There’s this guy . . .

An old favorite here at Black and White World, thanks to his introduction in my childhood as the rat-bastard industrialist who finances the escape ship in “When Worlds Collide” and gets bugger all for his trouble. But that’s not the reason I’m doing it. Tthere's another fellow, who I recognized right away - by sound. Forgive the sync.

I was listening to the movie while doing something else, and this voice hooked me right away. especially the way he leaned on the vowels in the last word. He was the Darren of his generation.

He was even more Darren than Darren. It’s one thing to look like the other Darren, which didn't really matter. It’s another to sound exactly like him.

Anyone care to make a stab at explaining that in the comments?



That's it for today! See you tomorrow.



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