Took a brisk walk downtown on Wednesday to get building pictures. Fifty degrees! Absolutely lovely. Get back to the office and my watch buzzes with a crime alert:

600 feet away


Okay, well, better go have a look.

(time passes)

Back. Nothing. It may have been a very minor stabbing, like someone who nicked himself with his pocket knife. No EMT, no yellow tape, no pool of life-giving fluid trickling towards the gutter in a WeeGee moment. But people who use the app will add another hash mark to the “reasons to never go downtown again” chalkboard.

I returned through the newly reopened Rand Tower. Damn, what bad timing. Just converted into a hotel. And it’s pretty nice.

The bar, as befits the 20s vibe of the place, is called Whiskey and Soda. I wish I could go there and have a Whiskey and Soda.

They’ve installed chairs by the statue of Flight:

And the staircase looks as nice as ever.

Old jazz playing in the lobby. Two clerks, masked. No one around.


I don’t spend much time on /r/movies, but got sucked into it today, looking for an interesting post. Here’s a real gem from my favorite genre of film writing:

It's a Wonderful Life is a beautiful movie with a very original idea, granted that Original Idea will go on to be down to death to the point where all originality from said idea is now gone, but that's besides the point, the point is, is that after years of not watching it I have finally watch it and I am extremely satisfied.

Uh - okay.

On a related note: A local writer in a neighborhood journal was intrigued by the appearance of theat Monolith at various places around the world. Hey, a chace to talk about 2001!

I’ve always thought Kubrick to be America’s foremost directorial genius and not only saw all his flicks (including the unknown “Fear and Desire”) but thought long and hard about every one.

In “A Clockwork Orange” he warns us of the evils and dangers of conditioning and uses Beethoven (my hero) to illustrate the point.

Well, yes and no. Beethoven is primarily used to show how aesthetic appreciation has no moral component. One can weep to Beethoven and still be a monster. 

In “Paths of Glory” we see cynicism in the use of war. In “Spartacus” he uses a communist’s book (Howard Fast), brings back Dalton Trumbo and depicts class struggle and the charms of slavery. And on and on.

Back to the monolith in “2001.”

Clearly produced by humans, but who? A vanished civilization. Where did they go? Kubrick tells us.

Uh -

To emphasize his point, he shows us another monolith on another planet.

Uh hold on

In “2001” he has a brilliant astronaut easily defeated in a chess game with the computer “Hal.”

The machine is clearly frustrated by the lack of control over feckless humans who are clearly his inferiors.

So, what does Hal do?

He kills the crew to assert control.


The lone survivor hurtles through space faster than the speed of light. As Einstein reminds us, this reverses time, and the astronaut, at the end, is a baby.

Uh hold on

Now you know why I think Kubrick is a surpassing genius (assuming I am right). Of course, I ought to entertain the possibility that the police union is right—that I am a moron.

A humbling thought—and very possibly, true.

And “Lolita” doesn’t contain even one sexy scene. Now that is an achievement.

Still, imagine the event—a brilliant artist conceives a Kubrickian echo, has it secretly and laboriously embedded in Utah’s desert, swears his many helpers to silence and patiently awaits its discovery.

I am floored!

If the boldface makes you wonder: the author is Tony Bouza, who was the Chief of Police in Minneapolis back in the 80s. Quite a character. He's 92 and he'd argue the hell out of the points he just made and you'd probably doubt your own conviction when you were done.









“So, where you from?”

“Frazer Buttermilk Altus Leger.”

“Nice town, I hear.”


The town that would later be named Altus was founded in 1886. The community was originally called "Frazer", a settlement of about 50 people on Bitter Creek that served as a trading post on the Great Western Cattle Trail. Cowboys driving herds northward often stopped to buy buttermilk from John McClearan. Thus, the town was known locally as "Buttermilk Station".

A flash flood nearly destroyed Frazer on June 4, 1891. The residents moved to higher ground 2.5 miles east of the original site. W. R. Baucum suggested renaming the town "Altus", a Latin word meaning "high". This name stuck, although the town was also known as "Leger" from July 10, 1901, to May 14, 1904.

It’s always a sad sign for a downtown when the store closes and the sign remains . . . for a long, long time.

Strange design, when you look at it for a while. The third story doesn't relate.

Classic display case entrance.

We learn that Howard’s was Your Family Store. The corner building had a Moderne aspect that always lends 30s glamour.

I think this is why I clipped this place: the quantity of well-preserved pre-war structures.

The color, the metal panels - suggests the 40s.


Man, when your Thrift Store goes out of business . . .


I think by the time you got to the door to the store on the right, you were in the back alley.



It’s not all 30s. Nice little decorative brick at the top, the little Italianate touches.

The bottom floor renovation seems pointless, but then you realize that just adding brickwork like this was, at the time, MODERNIZING!


A handsome array - built at the same time, or added year by year?

(All at the same time, by the Lilley company, in 1896.)


What was going on in Torrington that provided the money for so much construction in the 30s?


And this:

That was, of course, a bank.

As we often say: whoa.


The Warner Theatre was built as a first-run movie palace by Warner Bros. Studios. This elaborate art-deco building was designed by nationally renowned architect Thomas W. Lamb. The opening was a statewide event attended by then-Governor Wilbur Cross and many other dignitaries. Seating 1,772 patrons, the Warner was a stunning example of state-of-the-art technology and lush, elegant surroundings.

That’s a lot of theater for a town that size. Cinematreasures, of course, has the photos.


Mertz: the department store, finished in 1930. That might be why it seems the Depression was kind to the town: the projects were in the pipeline before the crash, or most people, thought the downturn was temporary.


J. M. Julian. He was a grocer, so I assume that’s what this building was.

Fresh and clean and modern when built, and soon made Old by the Moderne and Streamlined styles.


There’s pre-war Modern, and post-war Modern. Two completely different modes of thought. This is the preferable version of this little jewel box:

I think this is the recent version. Not better, but perhaps better for its purpose - to make kids feel welcome.


Finally, the Library. 1901.

Of all the buildings, it’s the one we can say is timeless.


There you go. A generous helping of Motels awaits.





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