Above: a place I’d never been. It’s the skyway lobby of a downtown office building I’ve never had reason to visit. It’s near the end of the system, a backwater for most downtowners. The lights are meant to be a visual abstraction of the skyway system, which is a bit sad: it’s like someone who rarely gets visitors putting makeup on mannikins to represent the people who might drop by. The ceiling has Fashionably Exposed Ductwork, which is a way to signify the place is Hip, I guess. We need to attract some tech startups - take down that suspended ceiling! Ducts and pipes, that’s what these crazy kids want. Ducts, pipes, brick walls. Expose some bricks while you’re at it.
Er - there aren’t any. It’s a steel frame building.
Well there have to be some interior spaces with concrete blocks. Say, the stairwells?
Yes, but they’re painted.
Strip the paint! It’ll be authentic then.
I didn’t go any farther, since the security guard was looking at me. Why are you taking pictures? Because I’m going to commit a terrorist act, of course. Now that I think about it, years ago a guard came out of this very building to ask why I was taking pictures, and I said it wasn’t his business and I was standing on the sidewalk, so that’s the end of our tete-a-tete, chap.
He said no, I can’t take pictures. I said I could. He said I couldn’t. That’s all I remember, so I’d be lying if I asked if it was okay to look at the building, memorize its general shape, then draw it on a piece of paper later. Could I sketch it now? No? Could I build a replica out of sugar cubes and cigarette package foil?
I do remember telling him that this was my city and I could take any picture of downtown I wished, and he said it was his city too. And . . . therefore he could tell me where I could point my camera.
Stand somewhere and take endless pictures of yourself, and no one thinks it’s odd. Take a picture of a building and people get suspicious. It's as if they don't think buildings are something that deserves a picture. Makes you wonder how many people think about buildings at all.
Anyway, I'd walked over to the edge of downtown today to a condo. The building is pure unalloyed, unaltered 80s.
It's mid-early 80s, if you're curious; the 70s have been shaken off and replaced with new materials that say we are done with burlap and rough wood and brutal concrete. It's the 80s, and it's already the future.
Okay, a little bit of 70s remains, but it's the latter part.
I went to visit a coin shop. Note: I do not collect coins.
He used to be in the middle of town on a skyway, but negotiations for rent made him look elsewhere. Now he has a bigger store with all sorts of cool stuff. Coins, paper money.The floor has a huge printed design of notable money, including this famous bill:
It’s worthless, right? I mean, rocks for a historical figure, a shareware font (A SHAREWARE FONT) and an absurd valuation. Well, as it turns out, they’re worth something after all. He had a bid for a sheaf at 6 bucks plus per note. Why? Because they’re so fantastically, flamboyantly worthless - but they’re real. If you or I printed up a batch of 100 trillion notes, you could maybe give them away, or sell a few as novelty money. But the fact that this is real money, even though it’s worthless, gives it a special psychological advantage.
Basically the idea behind all fiat currencies, I suppose.
AND NOW, from the Dept. of Misc., our Thursday feature:
Last batch of this year's cast-off photos, found unloved in an antique store.
A normal day of everyone wearing as much clothing as possible and going out in the woods to read:
This next fellow actually has a name. What would you say?
Frank. I wonder what the pin might be - a fraternal organization? School pin? It probably still exists, somewhere - in the earth, perhaps. In a box of stuff inherited from Grandpa. If made of metal, it's unlikely it was destroyed, right? Just cast away.
Finally: the jock.
You get the horrible feeling he died on an island in the Pacific.
Three thousand souls - and that seems drastically insufficient for the architecture you’re about to see.
And it’s lit up at night, too.
Opened as the Roxy in 1936; changed to the Utah in the 50s, perhaps because the name fit on the marquee.
More photos here. The interior seems the least of it.
Nice clean renovation: a boon to any downtown.
“The president jumped out of the window in ’29, and we closed it up out of his memory.”
The outside doesn’t match the interior splendor:
The website says:
The theatre was built in 1923 after the original Thatcher Opera House burned in 1912, with a recent restoration to its original splendor in 1991. The Ellen Eccles Theatre is home to the largest full-production stage north of Salt Lake City.
It had the usual story:
By the 1980s, the Capitol Theatre had suffered from years of neglect. The ornate plasterwork had been painted industrial green, burlap sacks covered the stunning murals portraying the mythical phoenix bird, and a massive plywood wall blocked the stage. Some spoke of demolishing the building to provide additional parking
OF COURSE THEY DID. Idiots.
More great script signage. I’m rapidly growing quite fond of this place.
It had better light up.
Old J. R. was slightly deaf, and tended to shout his words:
From the Logan historical page:
Here in 1895, at what was Logan’s nest saloon and billiard hall, the president of the agricultural college of Utah confronted proprietor Edwards because students from his college were frequenting the premises. After an exchange of stinging letters, president Joshua paul took action and after entering the hall was struck on the back of the head by one J.R. Edwards. after being ned $5 for assault, Edwards did post notices to exclude minors and President Paul returned to his more mundane duties on college Hill.
Don’t know if it was a bank, but it wanted to be.
It’s the corner position that makes it seem banky, as well as the vague suggestion of columns.
It’s so clean. Everything is so clean.
Even the trees, for once, seem apt. And you know how I feel about the tree-planting-downtown-revival idea. They don't necessairly make downtowns more attractive. Stores and signs, that's what does it. When a tree dies - as they always do downtown, always - there's a big grate in the sidewalk with an empty space or a stump.
This I cannot explain.
Avert your eyes, children. Don't point at the poor unfortunate.
Into each town, a little 70s must fall.
Those brick arches and odd windows were all the rage for a while, and have dated poorly like few other architectural designs. Possibly because they're ugly, and seem so sure that they aren't.
Hurrah for perpendicular signage, a downtown's best friend:
More neon next door, too.
I'm sure a place as clean and prosperous-looking as this hides Dark Secrets and Hidden Passions, etc., but which place doesn't?