In case anyone wants to accuse me of romanticizing the town. This jumbled mess is what you see when you emerge from a short highway that links the West Bank to Downtown. Non-residents of the Twin Cities may wonder what exactly is GUARANTEED, and why the man is spreading out his arms. I cannot answer the latter, but the former refers to the realtor's boast: a guaranteed cash offer on your house!

Of course, a dollar is a guaranteed cash offer, so I don't know why I'm supposed to be impressed.

Light snow and no sun. The sun has been absent for a fortnight, with a few exceptions, a few rare appearances that brighten the mood. Then you turn away from the window, busy yourself in this and that, and when you look back it’s grey again. The forecasts say we're in for hard bad cold, inevitably described as brutal. The winds? Bitter, of course. I prefer malicious. There's something cruel and envious about a sharp February wind.

Let's see, what great issues were borne across the sky on the wind of the mid-afternoon . . .

   
  Ask yourself what this might be about.
   

It’s a reaction to a piece in the paper that puts forth an idea aimed at restoring a safe and clean environment on the light rail. Right now there's smoking, drug use, and (probably) universal fare evasion among those who are using it as a rolling shelter. The council that controls the mass-transit system has a 40-point plan they’re discussing; the op-ed writer said there need only be a one-point plan when it comes to the guy who’s sitting in the middle of the car doing meth.

Are you ready? Here we go, the first step to the jackboot-on-a-human-face-forever world:

Here's the one-point plan we need: people who are brazenly breaking the law will be arrested.

I mean, we’re talking 1934 Germany here. The author begins with unassailable bona fides:

I do not own a car. I have never owned a car. I do not want a car. I want to take the train and ride the bus. I arranged my entire adult life around living in the most urban neighborhood in Minneapolis. I devoted many hundreds of unpaid hours over the past decade to advocating for investing in and improving the transit system in the Twin Cities.

And I feel like a fool.

I don't take the train at all, and I love my car. But I want the transit system to be clean and safe. The subject comes up all the time on the local subreddits, and the conversations are always split between those who want a safe ride without smoke or meth fumes or some skeez in the back making busy-hands in his pants, and those who don't think anything should be done until the state intercedes in the life of everyone who does drugs and, consequently, is homeless. The outcome of the decision to use meth - assuming it was a decision, of course; some are struck by great bolts of electrical meth that crack down from the sky at random and instantly addict a person - should be socialised as widely as possible. In the absence of a concerted effort to change people's behavior, which cannot involve enforcement of any laws or accepted codes of civic decorum, all public spaces shall be allowed to degrade to the level of the addict's behavior.

Then I read a tweet thread about fare-jumping in the subways of New York, which consisted of liberals and conservatives arguing for restoration of order, and the DSA-types insisting that the subways should be free and theft is good actually. Then a few more stories about some Brave Disruption of the old horrid paradigms foretelling a marvelous new world that casts off all the sins of the old, but somehow seems, for all its transubtantiating language, a place of joyless, shallow, constricting imperatives organized around struggle and resistence. And I think: this isn't what most of us want, really. Was there some plebescite I missed?

No, of course not. There never is; things just happen, somehow. Perhaps we weren't asked because they knew we don't want this, so our answers would be irrelevant.

 

Our weekly example of the happy pasttime of our era: clicking and clicking with no objective in mind. Where do we start? Where do we go? And how . . .

   
  . . . do we get from here . . .
   
  . . . to there?
   

I was going through some old Esquires, looking for ads, and was surprised to see this. I mean, really surprised.

Bleatniks will recognize the artist right away. We spent a year looking at the wonderful art of Gluyas Williams.

But tarry a moment, friends.

It's not Gluyas Williams. "Drawing by Robert Schulenber, after the style of the late Gluyas Williams." And here we start our googling.

I came across a website called New York Social Diary, which appears to be just that. Robert Schulenberg wrote many entries recalling NYC in the 70s. He appears to have know everyone in the arts community. His entries have a this happened then that happened then there was this and anyway, there was the first thing style. Upon hearing of the death of Edward G. Robinson Jr:

I was a close friend of Edward G. Robinson Jr. while I was a graduate student at UCLA.  He was a genuinely tragic figure cursed with an addictive personality regarding alcohol.  I would notice that with his first sip he would be tipsy but he’d be drunk with the second.  He had many run-ins with the law and even spent time in a correctional institution.  He had an attractive mistress who was actually old enough to be his mother and she told me that I was the only one who could influence him a little.

Evidently not enough to keep him out of trouble!  She was responsible for me getting my first job with Western Costume as a freelance designer of movie costumes for period movies.

Then, immediately upon graduating from UCLA I was drafted into the army and sent to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama where I was surrounded by Werner von Braun and the German scientists who were busy inventing rockets!  Shortly after I was drafted, Eddie G. had a car crash while drunk and his passenger was severely injured and Eddie was sent to a prison farm.

Eddie Jr.'s wikipedia entry, if you're curious. Heart attack at 40.

Anyway. Another entry was called “Video Killed the Radio Star,” a more current reference than the Polanski and Coppola chat in the one I’d just read. And it was written in 2021. I gathered that Schulenberg worked in the costume business, and was a professional illustrator. Magazine and advertising work. Tons of stuff. He liked to listen to the radio while he worked, so he was thrilled when he got the chance to - well, I’ll let him explain it.

So in 1977 there was a radio show CBS Mystery Theater that was produced by Old Time Radio producer Himan Brown reviving the old style of radio drama. I knew the actor, Paul Hecht, who was a frequent personality on the show.

As I may have mentioned, I’m not a fan of the CBS Mystery Theater, for the most part. It was a valiant effort to bring back old radio, but the scripts were lame. Too much supernatural stuff, with thin scripts stretched out over an hour, and the peculiar decision to make square-john E.G. Marshall the inheritor of the Inner Sanctum host. It's like habing Raymond Burr do the Michael Jackson Thriller narration. But that’s just my opinion.

Anyway:

Paul had been nominated for a Tony Award, won an Obie award and been continuously featured on many popular television shows and this was an enjoyable and easy way to work!

I told him how much I enjoyed the show and he invited me to visit during a broadcast! I was thrilled and excited to go!

He took his sketchbook everywhere, and thanks to him we have this:

As far as I know, the only picture I’ve seen of the making of the show. It's nothing unusual for a radio studio, but it has a you-are-there quality.

Anyway. My GOD the stories the man has. Facebook has this picture he took of Phyllis Diller and her opening act, Barbra Streisand, in the dressing room. He’s credited with giving Streisand her “signature look,” the “Egyptian eyes,” and all that.

I'm sure people in the industry who know the era and the greats are well-familiar with the name, but it was news to me and perhaps to you. He drew McGruff the Crime Dog, btw.

If you're wondering whether I have permission to run the illo above, I do. I found him on Instagram to ask if I could run it, and explained how I found the Gluyas Williams illo and found it a remarkable job. He didn't have a copy, and I was delighted to send him one.

Oh, one more thing: the line "The late Gluyas Williams" on the Esquire page indicates that proofreading was a bit lax. It took a few months, but eventually . . .

I suspect she wrote the letter with Mr. Williams' approval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wikipedia: "Mexico was laid out as "New Mexico" in 1836 and was a major stop for settlers heading to the Republic of Texas (thus the name "New Mexico")"

Thus, of course. Notable former residents include:

Lebbeus and Xenophon: wonder what Dad did for a living.

So how's the town today?

This ain’t good. Then again, I always start at the edge of the downtown, and you frequently find seedly old structures that hung around too long. I haven't seen this batch since I clipped it a year ago, so let's see what we can see.

Oh, it’s going to be one of those.

Your basic Walking Dead town, then?

Places like these do exert a grim hold on the imagination, don't they.

 

The Fellows of Oddness are still convening? That’s good

But the building looks like a church they bought at an auction.

What the hell happened upstairs, I’d like to know.

Someone was trying to take off the stone, got mad, kept making things worse, then quit and decided not to do the other three?

More of that creepy Buckaroo’ing that makes the second floor look as if it is stuffed with giant owls

1885. LAKENON & BARNES had a vision, and a few dollars as well.

But . . . what about that structure on the right? It has to be older than Lakenan & Barnes, but it doesn't look like it, aside from the thin windows.

Ugh.

The ground floor renovation didn’t make anything look better, it just made it look newer. And did anyone think how those shingles would look down the road? Anyone?

“Oh, Miss Bates lives up there, all alone. You might catch a glimpse of her on October 12, the day her fiancee was supposed to come, and they’d elope from her bedroom up there. He never came. They never found out what happened.”

Nice attempt to make a painted lady of the building. Wonder who did it, and when, and whether anyone will try again.

DECORATIONS ARE FOR WHORE BUILDINGS

“What goes on in there? Can’t rightly say. It was a sex club for a long time. Mebbe it still is.”

Of all the rehabs, vitrolite is the best. It just is. Modernizes without disrespecting.

Well, an old drug store, of course.

You can tell, can’t you?

The whole town seems to be redesigned around hiding.

The roof collapsed long ago. The facade has been carefully and respectfully maintained.

SO MUCH BUCKAROO

Ancient details, like finding something unearthed in a lost Roman city in Tunisia.

“I ever tell you about the time my brother doused his beard with lighter fluid then lit a cigarette?”

Dammit, Bob, now folks are going to realize we got a secret third floor. They'll know that's where the sex club went!

I guess they’re buying them on Amazon now.

A very old gas station; tells you the dealership building went back to the 20s, too.

Bet the cornice got shaved off at some point.

Lovely old signage. It was a bridal shop, if the internet is correct. Seems to have closed fairly recently.

From a prosperous time.

I’ll bet it was surrounded by trees, once.

An oddly empty and dispiriting centerpiece for a town whose geist fled long ago.

   
 
Now two ways to chip in!
 
 
   

Well, there you have it. Another slab of Internet Stuff, served up gratis. What's that? You want more? FINE, there's five pretentious Google Street View additions below. See you around.

 

 

 

 
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