This relates to something down the page, so don't be like this guy: angry or confused or just annoyed. It's a Google Street View clip, obviously. Not from around here.

Wife's Hen Party is going on now. The mojitos went over well, especially with fresh mint from the garden. Too much food, as we say in America. And not enough ice, as they say in Europe, or would, if they were American. I'm up in my study, staying clear except to wander out and see if anyone wants refills.

Update: they have moved to Aperol Spritzers, which sounds like some middle-European lesser nobility. Perhaps he is the man in the Austrian secret service who hires Offlo Jabaggage to do the dirty work of the state.

Aperol: for when you want something that reminds you how much you really don't like Campari all that much.

UPDATE: Turns out I didn't spend my exile entirely in my room. I made a few swings to refresh drinks and chat, and then do the clean-up while they're all outside in the gazebo have a merrie olde tyme, and then the post-party clean-up, which involved rebagging and reboxing the myriad forms of crackers. Then I went to the storage room and got out the give-away plastic containers and started loading up the perishables to press on everyone as they left. And now it's eleven. Good thing I've other things to tell you about.


So: another account of an internet peregrination, as we go . . .

  How do we get from the here . . .

To there?



As I noted a while ago, I started watching old Columbos. The stories are usually fine, often great. But it’s Falk we come to see. The character had the benefit of not airing weekly, so his tics and mannerisms and tricks didn’t wear out their welcome. The secondary pleasure is the appearance of an old actor who’d be familiar to part of the audience, but not to all. When I was 12 I didn’t know who Myrna Loy was. The fourth appeal is one that’s been added by time: inadvertent documentary of the way we lived in the early 70s.

Well, the way they lived. The plots usually involved perfidy by rich people, so the sets are overstuffed and garish, the standard TV idea of wealth and style. There aren’t a lot of exterior shots you can place today, but sometimes you get lucky. When I saw this . . .


. . . I had this little ting! That told me I might be able to find that location. And what do you know:

The interior was not used for the ep, though. I had to snag this tableau, because it’s something people of my demographic cohort will recognize right away. Not only recognize it, but know how it felt when you grasped it, and how much it weighed.

That candle. The candle with the plastic mesh. I hadn’t thought of those in a long time - why would I? But the object was back in the brain, stored away, a prop waiting to be brought out and put to use.

As for the building down the street, that’s not hard.

Why the design? Why the lack of windows?

It was a Bekins storage facility.

The Wikipedia article on Bekins is sparse.

In 1891, in Sioux City, Iowa, John Bekius and Martin (né Bekius) Bekins, brothers, started a furniture moving business.

Eventually they moved themselves to LA in 1894. By the 20s the company was doing well enough to put up big buildings like this, helping people store unneeded things.

I had, for a while, the original location, but I can't find the file and the search isn't helpful. Odd, considering that's where I got it. Well, doesn't matter. The original location is gone, and the current state of the area is worth a look. Wandering down the street and using the time machine, you can see how graffiti spread and covered every wall.

Once upon a time:


Gone, with only Google to remember what was there. A lot of the neighborhood was like this:

But subsequently cleaned, and much better for it.

It’s something you never see in the old Columbos, but perhaps that’s because it was a TV show, and wouldn’t show graffiti unless they were making a statement or wanted to let you know this was a Dangerous Place. But the California of this era does look cleaner. The most anodyne street looks normal and safe. This California looks dirty and done-for.

Down the street there’s this monster:

It’s a courthouse. Maybe Columbo showed up here to testify. Maybe he saw what the street became in the end and wished he’d called Bekins to arrange a move to some place that wasn’t California.

Odd how it has no grafitti. As if they cared to discourage such a thing.











Almost 19 thousand souls. "The city was the heart of the 1920s oil boom in the area. During World War II, it became a center of the chemical industry, which still plays a part in the economy, as do oil and timber." The Wikipedia entry says it has a downtown arts district, so let's check it out.

The sheet metal actually works here, or would, if anything was working. It looks like one of those modern interiors where sheet metal is supposed to be authentic, treated as an aesthetic object with some inherent virtues of simplicity and hard work.

I like it. Even like this.

An old Texaco from his horrid stone period. The move from the clean white walls to this says everything about changing styles, how things we admire today were once just old and tired. This was new! This was classy!

Recognizing these old Texacos is a rarified skill; aren't you glad you have it?

Those old, old doors.


Not a fan of the lettering, which says “Title of counterculture cartoon in a hippie mag” but fine. Vitrolite renovation, Coke signs: I’ll take it.

More Vitrolite and glass block: looks like original 30s construction. I’ll take it!


I think they extended the ideas of the new building to rehab an older adjacent structure? Could be wrong.

Odd half-finished Amontillado project there.

A search for the name turns up a gnarly court case.

I think the Vitrolite agent stopped at quite a few places on his visit to El Dorado:

Old future, meet new future!

This was how they made an old corner building look chic and special, for an upscale shop.

Didn't age well.

Always nice to see a downtown church; this one, if it lost its congregation, could open up as a submarine museum.

Absolute rote design for the era. These were reproduced by the hundreds all across the land.

Sometimes a severe office block in the style of the 30s or 40s adds a nice sober note . . .

. . . but extensions tend to carry forward the lack of detail, without the grace notes or interesting details.

I think that’s stone.

Fine plain sign; hope it’s reopened.


Gorgeous 20s commercial building. Doesn’t need the awning. Did they put a tree in the middle of the sidewalk?


Almost looks painted.

I really, really hope Phase 2 involved the restoration of the facade. That’s more Vitrolite. Opened in 1929.


Some sort of Spanish-Moorish auto center? That had to be a showroom; Surely it had walls and window.s

The fine classical embassy of the Federal Government, with its rote classical design. Can’t be anything other than a gummint building. If it was an educational facility, it would have had brick.

The brief 20s vogue for Egyptian architecture finds a good partner:

G for Go!


Well, here’s a surprise.

Always odd to run into something this big when you're not expecting it.

"Hailed as the tallest building in south central Arkansas at its completion, the eight-story building constructed for Lion Oil Corporation indicated El Dorado’s sudden rise to prominence in 1921 as the oil capital of Arkansas.”

And behind these doors?

"A 1960s modernization of the banking facilities, however, obliterated the original gloriously ornate beamed, tiled, and stenciled bank lobby."


Oh: I must have missed the arts district. Or did I?

Now two ways to chip in!

That'll do; motels await.



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