I gave a speech the other day to a fraternal organization. It was fun. The subject, you might ask? Well, that’s the problem. I don’t have a set speech I can give. No one wants to hear about matchbooks or motel postcards. Look at them, perhaps, with a small expenditure of patience and indulgence, but what am I going to say about them?
"Let's all just pause a moment and contemplate the lonely neon, burning in the dark with the promise of Magic Fingers and perhaps a cold Coke, sipped as one sits on a metal chair outside one's room, watching the occasional car speed past into the oblivion of the American road. . . . next slide, please"
"Annnd that, again"
I could give a talk called “What I know about cartooning in the early years of the 20th century” but so could you, after the last few years of updates. So I talk about journalism’s last 40 years, which happens to coincide with my own experience. Imagine my relief at discovering that handy confluence! Never saw it coming, really.
The fun party is always the ending, because I don’t have one. In my head it’s “something something ta da thank you very much,” but if all goes well the opening remarks - retooled for each group - will connect in my head at the last minute. And they did! Whew. Wire-walking for a moment there. The opening remarks, btw, were about fraternal orgs, and I had some fun with the mission statement of the IOOF. It includes laudable ideas that sound a bit outdated - “educate the orphans” - and one that sounds quite jarring: “Bury the dead.”
I suppose that could be taken as a figure of speech these days: "let us vow to form a new comity, and bury forever the passions of yore” or something. But it was meant literally, I think. You joined a fraternal organization to get some help in tough times, and if the family’s on their uppers or the survivors are too downcast to move, yes, you want someone to assist in the burial arrangements. But, as I said, you would put off some people who did not want to get together every third Thursday of the month to BURY THE DEAD, and you would get some people who were dismayed to find that there was hardly any dead-burying at all. C’mon, when are going to get to burying the dead? I’ve had Clyde in the shed for a month and the bluebottles are so thick you can’t get to the door without a machete.
Good group, good questions, a perfect way to spend a lunchtime.
It was also cold, about 5 below. At the moment it has warmed up to Naught. It was seven below when I set out for the office. WHY you might ask. WHY. If I don’t, that’ll mean five straight days at home, everything smearing together into endless hours at my desk, or in the kitchen, or walking back and forth between the two. It is warm here in the office, too - although the idea of an empty 50 story building with the heat on might prompt some to think “we should go back to the office,” although the reddit introvert response would probably be “no one should ever go back to the office.”
Speaking of reddit, the things you learn:
Okay, that’s dumb. But:
I have never encountered “Elvis was really Black” before but why would anyone be surprised it’s out there?
A preview of something you won't see for another year. I found a collection of Coming Attractions from Sono-Art, something I'll be running later this year. The film will follow in B&W World in 2023. I just had to put this here, because I saw something, and I wondered, and I was right.
What did I see?
Yes, new and old. Have to spice this up somehow.
Thrivent Apartments, phase two: so it's not all wood, I see. That's nice.
All empty lots a few years ago.
It says New and Old up there, remember. The city is full of details that catch my eye.
I want to talk about this.
The middle, the glass, is the saving grace - if such a word can apply. It's two buildings joined by an atrium. Inside it's bright, and the light court is welcome on any day.
But the rest of it. The vast blank walls. It is, of course, a public building - the GOVERNMENT CENTER. The other side:
Contempt and a bunker mentality was baked into the style. Those aren't windows. Those are Normandy cliff-top bunker slits
The stiff's laid out nicely:
The amount of calculatin and denial going on in that guy's head is off the scale. How - what - he can't possibly - how?
Solution is here.
At the risk of turning this into "Name that Voice" for the third week, I'm turning it into just that. This is from Theater Five, a syndicated radio program that ran in the mid 60s. Anthology show, mysteries and twisty stories. Most of the shows that tried to bring back Classic Old Radio were noticeably lame, but Theater Five was good.
Anyway, I heard this and thought, could it be? Well, it was.
And he is . . . ?
Perhaps better: which one was he?
Bonus question: if he asked for tea, what would he request?
This year we're counting down the top hits . . . of 1922. Why not?
Whiteman again. He owned the charts in '22. This is the "Gypsy Blues." I'm hard pressed to see how this charted higher than last week's number.
You can imagine everyone slowly moving back and forth in the ballroom, a bit stiff and mannered, some of them nervous, some bored and chatting with their partner, some sitting it out, waiting for something red hot.
Ah, but wait for 2:30 or so. As with last week, lots of things going on, even as the pace stays the same. All that energy constrained in the confines of the tempo.
I guess I had more 1968 South African commercials than I thought. Behold: Grandpa Headache Powder.
G'wan, name another one-man operation that gives so much! Just try! Okay besides that one.
There: that should do. See you on Monday when we start it up again.