This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Block E, then and now

Posted by: James Lileks under Minnesota History Updated: September 14, 2012 - 11:59 AM

MPLS The movie theater in Block E is closing. Big surprise. What to do with the space? I don’t know. Rent it out for paintball battles. The fate of this structure is a long, boring, tiresome subject, and you know the one thing that needs to be done - tear it down - is the last thing they’ll ever consider. Now there’s talk of confining retail to the ground floor, where a few establishments do fine, and turn the space above into offices. Whatever. As long as we’ve learned our lesson. This is what they demolished:


This was exactly what cities are supposed to look like, we're told now. A bunch of single-use structures, each with slight stylistic variations according to their date of construction or renovation. Around the corner was the Jeweler’s Exchange building:



Couldn’t have rehabbed that, could we? No: needed something new. Needed an enormous cartoony box with a hideous fauxcade, with movie theaters hidden inside. But the old Block E had theaters:



Wow. Too old and useless? Well, they jacked up the Academy - the Shubert, really -  drove it a block away, and renovated it at great expense. Seems they could have left it right there, fixed it, and saved a buck. Next door: Yes, another theater. Restore it to its 1960s renovation look:



 . . . make it a destination theater for independent films or high-profile imports. If they wanted to build something new, there was a big parking lot that could have taken a hotel or an office tower, and the old buildings - emptied of their seedy tenants - could have been remade into new shops, or used as an entrance to an outdoor shopping area built around a green space with a retractable roof. There: it’s human-scaled, new and old, historical and fresh, and unlike any place in the entire metro.

But let’s just dream some more, and imagine that the same renovate / preserve / add ethos was applied to the block across the street, and they saved this:


But no. Big things. Big boxes. Big blank walls. I think we’ve learned, though. No more of that.


MISC I came across a blog with this review:

The flavor starts strongly artificial, sweet and tangy with only a slight grain to it. Later chewing brings out more artificial notes, including the colorings, which have a slight metallic and bitter note to them.

Do you know what the author is discussing? Fruit Stripe Gum.


So it’s finally happened:


The internet makes all things possible. Actually, I like candy blogs, even though I don’t eat much of the stuff. Like all marketing, it says more about the culture than a dozen thumbsucking articles; if you want to give someone an idea of the underlying values of, say, a copy of Life magazine would help. Not for the articles. The ads.


Here’s a 1960 commercial, with all the usual voices of the time. Kids sat still for a minute to watch this.




Mixed fruit? What could that possibly have tasted like?

Off to write a column; have a fine afternoon and a great weekend. 


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