The picture above, and the one on Monday, were taken at the Baker building in the skyway rest-your-weary-bones area. I was waiting for Judith to finish lunch with friends, and just sat down to stare out the window at my city. When I did go pick her up at the Hen House, I had to explain how the booths and stools and decorations were actually from another restaurant that closed a long time ago. I didn't say it was a place run by a Greek who scowled when you wrote your check for 50 cents more because you wanted to tip the waitress because he wasn't in the business of paying for my tip. As was once explained, with irritation. If you needed to use the restroom you had to go through the kitchen, past the guys in white shouting and hosing down huge pots. I dated a waitress who worked there once, a 30s throwback in the Carol Kane mode but a bit sturdier, and also a stand-up comedienne.

Ah, the 80s.

Did I mention that the escalators at the office are working again? The six-month replacement job has concluded, and I was correct: they are motion activated. Now everyone has to retrain themselves to step on the moving stairs at the right moment. You always had to step on at the right moment, of course, but now the increase in velocity makes you pay closer attention. I'm sure it saves LOADS of electricity. What I did not notice before today was an elevator door on the ground floor, connected to the bank that terminates on the skyway level.

Had that always been there?

Had I somehow not known? No: as I later learned, it was new. They'd added a door on the ground floor, and when I swipe my card, it takes me right up to 12th.

Ergo: now that the escalators are working, I no longer need them. This is maddening. The escalator is now the long way around. But I prefer it. I like the ride.

In other news: I was astonished by this story - and I mean, jaw on sternum, and then furious.

Minneapolis office towers could be demolished as vacancy remains above 30%

I’ll save my ire for a newspaper piece. But for GOD’S SAKE. Fauci, EcoHealth, and Wuhan, and your bloody outsourced GoF research, your gaslighting, all of it. The lockdown of 2020 turned out to be a neutron bomb. The radiation is still lethal.

I walk through that building every day. If it goes - which I actually would be surprised to see happen - it'll mean the severing of the skyway at two important junctions. They'd have to build a skyway over the empty lot, which would be hideous and expensive, and Bog knows how long it would take.

It made me think of another story I saw yesterday. The third-largest shopping mall in the country - well, at the time of its opening, in 1979 - is being demolished. A look at its degraded interior can be seen in this BREAKING NEWS story about some YouTubers trespassing and shooting video.

The stories about the demolition quote boomers sad to see it go, because it was an important part of their childhood and early adulthood. The place where they saw Santa or took their kids to see Santa. A bustling little city, a safe world, a colorful place of abundance.

I spent many hours in malls like this, and never thought they’d go away. Why would they? People needed stuff. Here was the stuff. They said the same thing about downtown retail, I suppose, but the mall was simply the same idea, moved, and made more convenient. The idea of getting everything from a computer at home was the stuff of 1968 speculative documentaries where Dad looked like the patriarch of the Brady Bunch, and mom wore a lime-green skirt as she selected cards from the Meal Library.

My last NR column was about the old video / pinball arcades, and what those spaces represented, and how their loss diminished us. A minor thing perhaps; as with the mall, the computer enabled us to do it all from home.

Just as the computer / tablet / phone did away with thick newspapers and magazines - two other things whose constancy we assumed.

All of these things and places served as connective tissues that pulsed with random electricity, and we replaced them with invisible wires that vibrate at the precise frequencies we wish.

I'm still angry. I will never not be.



It’s 1954.


Oh that’ll do it

It was the Red problem, as usual. Ike cut a billion from European foreign aid and transferred it to Indochina, noting that properly supplied and run, any war to keep out the Reds could be won in two years.

  Bloody good idea, chaps:

The Conqueror:

One feature of particular note was the rotating commander's cupola, which was at the heart of the Conqueror's fire control system and was advanced for its time. The commander could align the cupola on a target independently of the turret, measure the range with a coincidence rangefinder, and then direct the gunner on to the new lay mechanically indicated to him by the cupola.

In theory, when the gunner traversed to the new lay, he would find the target already under his sights, ready to be engaged. Meanwhile, the commander was free to search for the next target.

The editorial page is full of Fifties mush, with no cartoon except “Hambone,” a minstrely little feature I’m sure was much beloved. It has this, though.

  That's some granular-level Bible quiz stuff.

And this. Every day, they ran a “Portrait,” a story of sorts.

Damned if I know how they kept this up, day after day, week after week.


And now, the rest of the story.

James J. Metcalfe (September 16, 1906 – March 1960) was an American poet whose "Daily Poem Portraits" were published in more than 100 United States newspapers during the 1940s and 1950s.

Standard issue newspaper guy bio . . . so far.

Prior to his literary career, he served as a Special Agent for the FBI, where he aided in the ambush of gangster John Dillinger.

After he left the FBI he went to work for the Chicago Daily Times, infiltrated the German-American Bund, then quit and made a nice living off his poetry. Died young, at 53.


This is interesting. Well, maybe not. To me it is.


The story explains that Jim is paid by a “wealthy leather goods manufacturer” who wants to protest what the railroads did to his company a few years ago. A company raised $6 million in the 20s to build an apartment building. It hit the skids after the crash; the railroad forgave some rent. The lease ran out in ’48, the railroads didn’t renew, and “the corporation was evicted from the building.” Which means they didn’t own it anymore, I gather. One stockholder has been protesting ever since.


So what building was it?


This one. McKim, Mead & White, with the latter being long dead, of course. A rather pro-forma design. But look at the inside: That’s some high 20s stuff there.

McKim, Mead & White, with the latter being long dead, of course. A rather pro-forma design, but a high-20s interior.

The site today. Why yes, it is an Emery Roth! However did you know?


The comics page has a reminder that Beetle and Killer used to look quite different.


A little later, we see that the Gumps are still at it - but the contrast with the strip above shows the direction comics are heading.

The rest of the paper is death notices and items about things happening in various counties. It’s all quite sober. Not a particularly exciting paper, but it had gravitas.


That'll do! Is there cellophane?

There is cellophane.

blog comments powered by Disqus