It’s been a beautiful fine week with sun and joy: as good as it gets in these parts. The pianos are out, too. Downtown has a few pianos placed here and there, and there’s one outside our building. People sit down and play. I was consulting with a small cigar when a young man sat down and played Claire de Lune, and everything slowed and stopped for me. I thought: here I am in an American city in the middle of the North American continent, and someone from France in 1900 is alive, for a moment. It made me want to live in Paris between 1890 and 1910 - to see and hear all the ways in which the old world was being dismantled, and something new and beautiful and intelligent built in its place.
It would all end in tears - hideous grimaces and horrible noise, ugly art and mass national insanities, but they didn’t know that. So you would want to take your leave in 1910 and float up above the city at night, hearing Claire De Lune coming from an open window, and think “the good news is that everything now is possible. The bad news is that everything now is possible. We’ll do what we can with what’s left.”
Later while walking around downtown taking pictures I passed another piano. A guy sat down.
The art you’ve been seeing this week up on the banner is the old Northwestern Life Insurance complex, given a painterly look by the careful application of some filter recipes I’ve concocted over the years. Or did I just push a button on an app? Well, this is the original, and it has two different decades of architectural errors. On the right, the skinny-window look - originally inflicted on everyone in the computer punchcard era, it was inexplicably revived for this early 80s tower which has never done anything for the skyline except remind you of the permanence of folly.
On the left, a building I like, but it’s part of the baroque period of modernism. When everything started to go off the rails. Those curvy column capitals would spread and get bigger. You’ll find small-town banks with this look, and while it has a late-60s charm, it was a dead end, and makes you think of sitting in a motel room on a chair with a scratchy fabric, looking at Rowan and Martin. You’re wearing orange and brown. You have sideburns. You wish Vietnam was over. Your wife is restive. Underneath all the stone and metal of the world you feel something queasy.
Maybe it’s just you. Somehow that’s no consolation.
Another wall is about to be built; no one will be able to pass through a certain space, and all the people who remember it will fade away. I take it for granted that I can walk from Point A to Point B, the latter being the Apple Store, but that will end.
Penneys is closing. No! you say. Impossible! How could a Penneys store not be minting money? O sadness! O nostalgia! O teen memories, lost to the dust! People remember hanging out there, and now it will just . . . go?
IT'S SAD, right? It's change, and that's sad.
It’s in Southdale, the Mother Mall that got an upgrade a few years ago - restored to midcentury woods and hues, in fact. The mall is doing okay, I gather; the area certainly isn’t in decline. New housing and stores going up all over the place. But Penneys . . . its time is done.
This is the exterior. This is every doomed mall in the country.
I always felt heaviness when I entered by the ramp side, because I remembered when the area had the catalogue desk and the photo studio - and then it just went empty. Parts of the store were walled off. The escalator developed a persistent clank. The clerks were all sullen and slow-moving (except for one dapper fellow back in Men’s Furnishings, who brought the old-world charm fastidiousness to the job.) Everything about the place spoke of decline and futility.
They're going to tear it down and build a big lavish high-end fitness center, with a wall between the old space and the now-pointlessly-large escalator landing area. Here's the point I wish to make:
SOMETHING OLD AND WELL-REMEMBERED IS GOING BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE IT'S DUMP TOWN NOW
Anyone tries to preserve a single brick of this place, they're daft.
Sometimes change and destruction makes you nod and say "by jickety! Do it."
The Opus site will get tall by summer. It's still deep and dull now. Here's a flyover for context:
What a horrible mess they made of it. Newcomers may believe that part of the building resides along an interdimensional gateway, and periodically the other dimension's building appears to occupy the same space. In that universe, it's a Lever House-inspired structure.
They can't leave it at this, can they? Oh yes they can. The only way to salvage this would be to redo everything, but that's it. Th horizontal lines of the renovation will clash with the verticle stone cladding; the glassy corner will argue day and night with the existing window grid.
The interior will be much better.
Here's part of the corridor near the new glass-corner spaces, apparently based on Dr. Strange's lair:
Better than it was, which was simple and dull. It'll look dated in ten years, but won't we all.
As noted, I'm going through the entire Gildersleeve series this year - and there's a lot. We're still in the early days, when the show had found its footing.
Why, it's a new theme. After a few months no one could remember the old one. Note the tumbling winds: how merry!
More of that big band travelin' music at the end before we hear from GG again. But first, Kraft!
See text above.
Coming out of the commercial, there was even more music.
Just a little clip of Peary bobbling a line and recovering nicely.
Gee, I wonder what you could treat your guests to? Cheese, perhaps?
AD: It's 1946 and American Cheese is BACK!
Not someone you associate with either concept, you say? Scott was quite an interesting fellow, what with the electronic music and Warner Bros. cartoon contributions.
Liner notes except, whicih I have painstakingly transcribed:
The idea of this unique album came as the result of a question a friend had asked Ramond Scott: 'What can you do with rock and roll so that adults don't hate it?' Scott thought about the problem for several days, and it finally occured to him that, as he explains it, 'Nobody hates a good beat. When something swings - regardless of its era- it's appealing. The one thing rock and roll in particular may leave behind is a new kind of swinging rhythm section sound, and people really don't hate swinging. What has irritated some adults about some rock and roll have been the crazy words, the outlandish screaming and other exaggerated effects.
His solution: lots of strings over a rock beat. Whether it works I'll leave up to you. (It doesn't)
Thank you for your visits this week; hope you enjoyed your stay. See you Monday!