This will sound nuts, but: I finished the BTF (Below the Fold) features for June!

Of 2024!

I used to do them the week before. Like, on Thursday and Friday. At one point waaaay back in the blog history, I used to feel ahead of the game if I did the Monday Matchbooks on Friday.

I also finished my Tue-due column on Sunday, so I’m just waltzing through the early days of the week. Gives me more time to prepare for the new Mac mini. It’s like getting a room set up for a new baby, except for anything remotely like that at all, but there is a certain amount of prep that needs to be done. Get the .dmgs for all the apps I want to install, reauthorize, etc. It’s tedious, and the end result is the exact same computer you had before.

But it’ll be different this time! Cleaner! More organized! No, it won’t. It will still have the same latticework of alias folders that connect everything everywhere, the same fonts, the same graveyard of apps I swear I will use this time but never do. Here's an app that lets you link your calendar to your music program to trigger weather alerts! Okay.

How are you dealing with the Reddit boycott? Quite well, I imagine. Here's the story if you don't know or care about this vital part of Our Democracy: The management is killing off a third-party app people use to access the site - not directly, but by making it economically unfeasible - so the mods of many subreddits are going dark for two days to give the company the ol’ what-for. That'll show 'em who's boss! Then it'll be back to business as usual, because the moderators cannot bear to have some small petty corner of the internet they can rule.

I couldn’t read a couple of subreddits I follow today, and it was instructive: oh right, who cares, really. I did miss the daily dip into local trainbrain arguments about banning cars from the city and how the greatest sin was building cities to accommodate cars, because cities were not meant to have cars, as one of the posts said the other day, and the problem is single-family zoning. MOAR DENSITY. BE AMSTERDAM. Now is the time on Sprockets when we BIKE

Look, that’s fine, and I love dense old walkable cities. In Boston were were one block from the T, and it was great, aside from the changing and waiting and the miserable ancient dusty corridors of the downtown stations, which made you feel as if it was 1962 and Riff and the rest of the Jets were going to dance down the stairs and start mocking all the square-johns. But I’m not going to take the light rail to the gardening center and drag back ten bags of mulch, and my wife isn’t going to take the light rail to the U to play tennis and ride back at 10PM with all the shady smelly shambling men in six raincoats nodding away in their seat.

They can’t eliminate the car, so they can only inconvenience it. But the inconveniences will never match the inconvenience of the transit system, and their desire for everyone to live in small flats with tiny fridges and thin walls will not take purchase in the American mind. Ideas so good, so attractive, so manifestly beneficial, that people have to be forced to accept them.

Maybe I did miss Reddit more than I thought! It's like the imaginary people with whom you argue in your head come to life and say exactly what you figured they would.









The Dragnet TV show may look like stilted, fake, cheap TV today, because it is - but as we've seen in this space now and then, it provides some interesting inadvertant documentary.

You get a feel for the shabbiness of Los Angeles in the 60s and 70s.

The transition point in downtown, where commercial modernism lapped at the second floors of old buildings, completely out of step with the building's gestalt:

The kitschy-googie futurism of the new LA:

We're fortunate that it still exists:

. . . And the chaos of an ordinary street, the interesting arrays of declarations and enticements.

This was considered blight.

After beautification and anti-sign efforts had their way - not always through regulations, but changes in social attitudes, and a change in styles - we got this. Same block.

This is the city, as the man said, but in many ways it's not the same one.






It’s 1930.

Newspaper ads from Pennsylvia.

Does not harm the heart? On the contrary, we’ve been told lately, but in 1930 people had to be reassured, I guess. What was the scuttlebutt on aspirin for colds?

The guy looks like he’s responding to a request to “Eat an imaginary hot dog sarcastically.”

Beauty, you say.

Probably my least favorite period of car design was the 20s, and this still has some of the boxy lines and tiny cabs. They’d improve, and do so with impressive speed. It's just a pity that the great design innovations coincided with an economic contraction, and there weren't more made, so more could survive. OR it was the contraction that drove innovation.


We will lend you money to pay people to block the door of your living room and bow in supplication!

“Borrowing money to pay taxes” is a sign things are not going well. Or to paint your walls, for that matter.


The old mountain:

Wait a minute, 40th to 50th streets? Is that what it says? No, it’s 49th to 50th. Still around. I'd post a picture, but it's about as rote a 20s hotel as you're going to see, eclipsed by its neighbors.



A new racket! A new thrill! Snappy saucy spicy stuff, lads:

Watch it all, if you like.

The aristocrat of theaters brings you the greatest screen drama of all time. I mean, you can go back two thousand years and you’ll never find see a screen drama as good as this one.

Full of human things and also kaboom-war and pathos and all of that stuff. An imdb review:

James Whale had served in World War 1, and this powerful anti-war film has a strong feeling of authenticity as a result. Whale obviously understood the feeling of being in the trenches of World War 1, and manages to convey this feeling strongly to his audience. In a way the terrible technical restrictions of early sound recording help to convey the claustrophobia of trench warfare - the lack of camera and actor movement make the audience feel like they too are stuck in the trenches. Of course it would have been great if the rare action sequences were less confusing and better filmed, but in the end the film is still quite overwhelmingly emotional.

Ah, Whale. So it’s probably good, limitations aside.

And you can watch it now if you like. What a world!


The Music Defense League is taking a stand: no robots!

From the union's page:

1929: The union launches an extensive public relations campaign aimed at swaying the public against the "dehumanizing entertainment of canned music."

1930: Less than three years after the debut of the first talkie, the AFM estimates that 22,000 theater jobs for musicians accompanying silent films have been lost. However, fewer than 200 jobs for musicians performing on soundtracks have been created.

The AFM establishes the Music Defense League to gain public support for its fight against "canned music" in movie theaters.

1935: Congress passes the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

1937: President Weber takes a strong stand against the encroachment of recorded music on radio. Threatening a nationwide radio strike, he negotiates a deal with radio network affiliates that requires the networks to spend an additional $2 million on staff musicians.

1939: The FCC upholds a rule that all radio stations must announce when they are using recorded music, and rules that they must keep a log of all recorded music use.

The Robots, of course, would win in the end.

Relief, as well as a renewed committment to vegetarianism and eugenics:

Here's his house. At least that's real.

Now two ways to chip in!


That'll do - see you tomorrow! And thanks for stopping by.



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