Have you ever revisited an album from high school and been surprised to find how much you still like it? Of course. Perhaps not the whole thing, but a few gems twinkle in the ossified cow patty. If I never hear “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” again I’ll be happy, although I’m sure it’ll play at the old folk’s home in constant rotation. A few songs on the album I visit once a year or so, and they make me seek out the rest of the album so I can say “oh, right, filler. All that filler.”
There’s another category, though - albums your friends adored that you couldn’t understand. How you can be close friends with someone and share musical tastes, but they have one band that you not only don’t get, you absolutely loathe the sound of it. Possibly because music meant so much more then, but also possibly because you’re right.
My friend Kent was a musician in high school, formed bands afterwards while in college, ended up teaching jazz in a Texas college. He knew his craft, and had eclectic tastes - Led Zep, Ohio Players, Brecker Brothers . . . and Return to Forever. I just stumbled across “Romantic Warrior,” and suddenly I’m back in high school thinking: this is meaningless show-off riffing for the sake of impressing everyone with your CHOPS.
But for those who liked prog jazz, it was the pinnacle of the genre. Listen to the riffing!
But there’s no riff.
Who needs a riff when there’s riffing?
I had another friend who could not be dissuaded from believing that Jefferson Starship was a great rock band. It’s got an old guy who plays violin and they were around in the 60s! Yeah, you could say the same thing about the Berlin Philharmonic.
Obligatory caveat: you know what I said over the years about DJT, and you know I'm not a fan of the man himself, didn't vote for him, etc etc. I only bring it up because I am interested in how other people react to him. That's more interesting. For some,
Trump explains everything bad, the Guardian want you to know he ruined Atlantic City.
The story of Trump in AC is interesting, and wikipedia has the bones, here. I remember all that, and it's one of the reasons I'm not what you call a fan.
To the Guardian, a picture about about Atlantic City reveals the true nature of America and Capitalism, and I think it goes without saying that these are bad things.
The resulting book, Atlantic City, contains a foreword by Pulitzer prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger. “Bleakness,” he says, “forms the constant theme of these images, a sense of emptiness and an utter lack of urbanity.”
True; the Vegas Strip at night is a cartoonish garish blare, but it’s certainly not empty, and has its own kaleidoscopic, hallucinatory form of urbanity.
The book is full of dystopian imagery, with Trump’s failed casinos looking as if they could be part of a Blade Runner movie.
I love lectures from the British about dystopian landscapes. At least ours have neon.
But Rose insists this work goes beyond the “aesthetic of an abandoned amusement park”, believing it says just as much about America in 2019.
Not 2014, or 2015.
He believes there are Atlantic Citys all across the country.
Everywhere you look, empty seaside gambling dens surrounded by acres of blight?
“Tourists,” he says, “go to Atlantic City, go straight into their hotel and the casino, and then they don’t leave, which means the town outside is very isolated and dangerous, with the casinos cannibalising all the local businesses. Drug use and crime is so high, and this is something we see in other American cities, too, like Baltimore and Cleveland, where a commercial centre dwarfs the rest of the society.”
So . . . downtowns are . . . bad? Society’s ills come from being dwarfed by large casinos in the center of town? Or perhaps he means the revitalized showplace areas of Baltimore and Cleveland, which people visit because they’re nice and the chance of having your head stove in is lower, compared to neighborhoods that have nothing to offer the tourist.
I gather that those showplace areas should not exist, and everything should be blight.
No, of course that’s not what they’d say. They would want everything to be nice, which is possible if you get rid of monstrous capitalism.
Nor were Trump’s the only casinos to close. The gigantic Revel, now known as the Ocean Resort Casino, was another expensive failure. One of the book’s best photographs shows two wooden houses dwarfed by the Revel’s flank as an American flag flaps off to the side. The building feels monstrous, uncaring or unaware of its tiny neighbours, a symbol of capitalism’s empty conscience.
The tiny houses in disrepair preceded the construction of the Revel. It is entirely possible that the people who live in the small houses - stay with me here, it gets a bit tricky - might have found employment at the Revel.
Here's the view from Google.
“It looks like the end of the world to me,” says Rose. “It looks like the death of the American dream. The Revel is this surreal modernist glass world. When you go inside it, it’s like you’re in a utopia, but a totally empty utopia, bar a few old people on the slot machines. It reminds me of that Talking Heads lyric, ‘Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.’
As it turns out, nothing did - the Revel was a spectacular failure. Huge amounts of public money were wasted, because politicians of all stripes love big projects that will bring back prosperity.
The author does admit that while Trump’s Atlantic City - which was destroyed by Trump - is emblematic of Trump’s America, there might have been other factors:
The fact that Atlantic City is freezing cold for at least two thirds of the year doesn't help
Yeah, not true. Nevertheless, the headline says it all: “Atlantic City: 'Trump turned this place into a ghost town.'" Oh also:
It would be unfair, however, to put the blame solely on the 45th president of the United States. One of the reasons Atlantic City’s gambling industry started to fail was because the New Jersey town was no longer the only major draw on the eastern seaboard, with Pennsylvania and Connecticut offering attractive alternatives.
“Attractive” being an important attribute, because Atlantic City was an ugly, depressing dump, even when things were going well. I went down there in 1991 to audition for Jeopardy! (I passed! Then quit) and walked around downtown and on the Boardwalk. It was a tattered, faded, sad place. The casinos in 1991 were stinky barns populated by sallow old people hunched over garish machiens pressing buttons while nonsensical melodies burbled around them. It was miserable.
Gambling made a place that was already a ghost town an open grave.
Here's something odd.
That's the proper order for the pictures. Not even the reasonably nice places by the sea could survive.
Perhaps they were razed for Revel Phase 2.
Let's go back to 1954:
It looks hot and salty and seedy and a bit dangerous.
I'd rather go there than the Revel.
Remember this feature? We never met Bela Lanan himself. We never will.
This was a daily feature, with the solution on Saturday. We'll do it the way they did it then - one entry per day, with the expectation that you'll be following the story.
It’s 1970. A year where we all vomited the worst of times, or “Ralph Nadir.” Ha ha! Sorry.
If it seems as if I do a lot of StarTribunes, it’s because I find these en route to researching something else. The research, in this case, was not about “Layout styles we have moved past, thank God.”
So much here.
Start with this: no one could tell it was slanted? Of course. But no one cared enough to fix it.
Ah yes, the Nigerian War. Does anyone here remember the Nigerian War? What country split away for a while, and managed to produce its own money? Big deal for a while, and then most people in the West moved on. But the underlying cause still smolders.
I don’t think we did this. Then, no, but in the future, perhaps.
||But the second story was typical; POLLUTION was the national shame.
Ah, this is why I clipped this
A story about plans for downtown revitalization. The one above would have created a corridor of boredinary boxes, a second-rate Brasilia. That was one plan.
Here's how that worked out when left to individual organizations:
This . . . was the other plan.
Before CAD, they used slices of corrugated cardboard.
How it worked on when they didn't raze, pave, and stack 'em up high:
Paisley was hip! And forward-thinking and mod.
And also reminded me of some unicellular organism that spread disease in water.
The over culture adapted and coopted the styles of the counter-culture with great speed when it wanted to, and didn’t sense a push-back.
I loved this strip when I was growing up, even though I didn’t always get it.
The latter years were not kind, but those are still a few years off. The art never failed to delight. As a teen it was a link back to the 50s, which interested me as much as the 20s, and it was almost unaltered in style. Now I see that the backgrounds were less dense, but the characters didn't drift, and the handwritten text was gorgeous - clean and expressive.
Something I did not know then: Kelly modeled Mam'selle Hepzibah, the Fronche skonk lady, after his mistress. And he married her.
||In your “nothing changes, ever, what’s the bloody point” file, you may place this.
Joe Califano, a name we saw in the papers quite often:
YOU HAVE FIVE HOURS
The logo on the bottom right, the Dayton's Logo, was ubiquitous around here for a while. Then one day: never again.
No one ever knew what it was supposed to mean
That'll do; see you around.