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.
As far as I know this is the only video of the destruction of the Merchants building. Even worse: it’s not a video but a GIF. On the other hand, they’re very compact. As videos, they weighed in at half an MB, tops; as a GIF with no compression they waddled in at 13 MB. Thanks to Gfycat, they’re down to half an MB again.
If you can see it, then it works. The Merchant building was next to the Rand Tower; there’s a parking ramp on the space today. The site also included the Thorpe Building:
Both buildings are long forgotten. If you're curious what the block looked like:
The little bank in the middle survives as a facade on the ramp; it was the Marquette Bank, which chose an Egyptian style because people were just nuts about all things Tut at the time it was built in the 20s. Odd choice, but a nice addition to downtown.
Anyway, GFYcat drastically compresses GIFs and saves the world untold gigs of bandwidth. It’s free and you don’t have to sign up. They not only compress your GIFs into versions that can be slowed down or paused or reversed, they host them.
What nice folks!
What's in it for them, you wonder?
GAMING This game review makes it sound like a bowl of spinach, no? “ENCOURAGES PLAYERS TO LEARN ABOUT TYPE BY EXPLORING A WORLD OF FONTS, MARIO-STYLE.” Another review has a warning: “The game freezes if you try to read a recently captured asterisk entry while in the process of dying.” So it’s ultra-realistic! Hard to describe, really - you’re pushing two dots along a landscape made up of letters while atmospheric music lends an otherworldly air. I’ve never liked side-scrolling games that make you jump. I love this thing. You can get it here. I got it free from a Starbucks promotion; you'll have to pay $3 or see if Starbucks still has cards left with a free code.
In related news - art and architecture, that is - here are some buildings made to look like the work of famous artists. For some reason. This one's easy:
This one's a bit more challenging.
Many many more, here.
FOLLOW-UP Wednesday I put up that Schlitz ad to show the difference between the real thing and the one going around the Internet. I was paging through an old Life from the same era, and found another from the series that shows a guy screwing up as well. In fact, "beer as compensation for screwing up" was the point of the entire campaign. So:
See? Guys in beer ads were stupid too.
The term “DRM” doesn’t really fit here, but helps explain the concept. So: will the next-generation of Keurig coffee makers forbid the use of third-party pods? And is there such a thing as a second-party pod? The story appears to originate with this site, but when I tried to copy a quote I got this:
Okay, well, then we’ll just link to someone else, then. Canada Business:
One of the things that accelerated the pod-coffee craze was the 2012 expiry of Green Mountain’s patent on the “K-Cup” design. That freed up other companies to start making generic pods that would still work in Keurig-brand coffee brewers—and those clones typically sold for 15-25% less than the brand-name pods sold by Keurig directly.
It’s been a boon for the consumer, but the company no doubt wants us to buy its machines. They look nice. They cost a lot. People like having other options, though. Different blends at cheaper prices with less plastic. But the company says the new units will be so INCREDIBLE people will be happy to give up the freedom of choice, and choose a new technology that locks them into a particular product.
Because that’s worked out well so many times in the past.
Perhaps the headline made you think of the novel, then. I remember reading it when it came out, and thinking it was flat and empty. I suppose that’s the point! Flat and empty people make for flat and empty novels. Everyone was looking for another Jay McInerney, since the original item wasn’t up to the task. Anyway: perhaps the headline made you think of the Elvis Costello song from which the book takes its title. Which brings us to another bit o’ imdb “trivia”:
In a surreal twist, the sequel novel, 'Imperial Bedrooms', has the original novel's characters aware of the film version of "Less Than Zero”.
Well, now, I wouldn’t say that. Perhaps something like this would be more apt: In a surreal twist, the sequel novel, ‘Empty Donkey Melting Scream” took its name from colliding mollusks on a train that stretches to the horizon but is forever moving.” That’s surreal. Naming a sequel after another song on another album is called “continuity.”
As for Elvis Costello’s song, no doubt he played it on his first appearance in Minneapolis at the Longhorn in 1977. Where is that bar now, you ask?
It turned into Zoogie’s, then closed up, and reportedly it’s just parking-ramp maintenance storage now. The history is left behind is sparse, but a few handbills can be found here, along with recollections of the heyday; the Minnesota Historical Society has some ephemera as well.
Now, let us flashback to those innocent halcyon days of 80s. Prescient moment from Robert Downey towards the end.
ART Photog Tom Nguyen got up early to take pictures of the early hours of bone-rattling March, and we’re glad he did.
SCIENCE! Speaking of the cold, here’s great news: There was an ancient giant virus found in 30,000-year-old ice, and they brought it back to life! Resurrected viruses. I think that’s what everyone’s been clamoring for.
In what seems like a plot straight out of a low-budget science-fiction film, scientists have revived a giant virus that was buried in Siberian ice for 30,000 years — and it is still infectious. Its targets, fortunately, are amoebae, but the researchers suggest that as Earth's ice melts, this could trigger the return of other ancient viruses, with potential risks for human health.
Another researcher quoted in the piece says this is nonsense. There’s a frightening picture of the virus, which makes me think of “The Andromeda Strain” - a fine movie that still manages to terrify with the most rudimentary special effects. The moment that virus moved half the audience came out of their seats.
You have to marvel at the wy the world works: even amoebas have their own viruses. Nothing's safe from those meaningless demons. If there's something to eat, Nature will devise a way to eat it. Speaking of which: time for lunch. See you around.
On an unseasonably warm spring day in 1913, the Westfall Drugstore on Main Street received a special delivery from Kodak in Rochester, N.Y. — a brand-new “Vest Pocket Kodak” that had wowed customers since it was introduced the prior year.
They took some pictures and put them back in the camera. Then they put the camera in a time capsule.
Related, from the Guardian:
On a spring morning in 1912, a man with a tripod and a heavy camera walked out of Liverpool Street station and into the heart of London's East End, capturing the children playing with hoops and skipping ropes, the busy shoppers, the pubs, the horse-drawn delivery carts competing with lorries, the tailors promising individual garments at wholesale prices in an area famous for centuries for textile workers, a now vanished world. He then went home to his new photographic studio at Brightlingsea in Essex, and vanished from history.
Now his work is being shown for the first time in 60s years. But is it art? The article notes that he doesn’t seem interested in the people milling around; he seems to be more concerned with the buildings. Perhaps because he was a real-estate photographer. It’s a venerable trade.
Speaking of old pictures: while poking around the Library of Congress archives the other day, I came across this:
That's right: It’s the Minneapolis delegation. Wonder if anyone in the picture has a relative living in town today? I’d bet on it. I’d bet one of them hits startribune.com today.
SCIENCE! Mount Sharp at the Junda Outcrop! Tanaka, when the walls fell! A panorama from robot on Mars.
More here, including a 3D version.
MOVIES Somehow this became an new art form: movie posters for old movies. The “minimalist” ones get a bit tiresome. Laurent Durieux is taking another approach, which this site calls “Retro-Futuristic.” I’ve no idea what that means,, but they’re good. Name the movie:
Correct! Now, the worst news of the day: Michael Bay’s production company is remaking “The Birds.”
Sixteen below when I sent Daughter off to the bus stop. That was sufficient cause to suspend school a while ago. Today: eh. Perhaps they assume kids have been sufficiently toughened and winnowed.
While I am far from a Luddite who fetishizes a life without tech, we need to consider the consequences of this latest batch of apps and tools that remind us to contact significant others, boost our willpower, provide us with moral guidance, and encourage us to be civil. Taken together, we’re observing the emergence of tech that doesn’t just augment our intellect and lives — but is now beginning to automate and outsource our humanity.
He goes on to describe something called BroApp, which he admits may be a parody. It sends “automated daily text messages” to your girlfriend. This does not turn you into a sociopath; if you believed that automated canned sentiment will do the trick and save you some time, you may be one already. Or more likely just selfish and manipulativeg. Really, if you're buying something called BroApp you’re already a Bro, and the app isn’t going to infuse you with additional Bronosity. BroApp even sounds like a long ripe beer belch.
Related, maybe: Here’s something I didn’t know. The name of the Bitcoin exchange that was hacked and shuttered was Mt. Gox. right? Daily Dot:
The joke here is that the name MtGox doesn’t actually refer to a mountain. It’s an acronym for Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange; the site originally started as a place for fans of of the tabletop fantasy card game to buy and sell their cards.
Somehow that fits.
THE FUTURE The tumblr about “Beer Labels in Motion” is exactly what you think: animated beer labels. Some day they’ll actually look like this.
Related, maybe: the Morton Salt girl is updated for its 100th birthday; here’s a look at the logo’s evolution. Interesting how she looked at the customer with a cheerful expression in 1956, then looked away in 1968, as if contemplating something private. She’s never looked at us since.
DESSERT Ben & Jerry’s has some new flavors. Here’s how the site “Hello Giggle” describes the company:
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are kind of living out a childhood best friend dream come true, aren’t they? Making ice cream as a job, coming up with witty pop culture flavors when they feel like it, working together every day, and eternal fame in New England? What more could anyone want?
In April 2000, Ben & Jerry's sold the company to Anglo-Dutch multinational food giant Unilever. Unilever said it hopes to carry on the tradition of engaging "in these critical, global economic and social missions". Although the founders' names are still attached to the product, they do not hold any board or management position and are not involved in day-to-day management of the company.
But other than that, yes, totally awesome in the dream-coming-true department. The new ice cream flavors sound delicious indeed, but I can’t figure out why no one ever attacks Big Ice Cream when it comes to attacking obesity and marketing. Soda, sugar, fast-food - but never ice cream. It’s almost as if it gets a pass because it’s the one thing the critics couldn’t imagine giving up.
URBAN DESIGN The Pentagon Park plan is on again. They want to tear down the ultra-50s office complex and build a half-billion dollar project. The Pentagon tower is an odd and distinctive structure, but there’s no saving it; no one will say it’s historic. Things come and go. Such as: The Richmond and Landour Hotels.
I ran across this while digitizing some old postcards, and finally found out where it was. Here:
Fair trade. Some details of the site:
Cedar Lake Ice Co. was at Hidden Beach. Wikipedia:
Before 1860, Cedar Lake had a much different shape, and most of the woods surrounding Hidden Beach, particularly to the south east, were areas of water and wetland instead. In 1867 the southeast bay of Cedar Lake was filled in to create a major train yard and in 1878 a large scale ice cutting operation known as Cedar Lake Ice Company was founded on the lake’s north eastern shore, which shipped ice to places as far away as St. Louis. By 1900 Dingley’s boat house occupied the end of a thin peninsula on the eastern side of the lake, which eventually widened and became the site of today’s Hidden Beach. Despite the large railway operations going on nearby, the land surrounding Cedar Lake’s eastern shore was sold to build houses, hotels, and other such structures between 1908 and 1975.
Elsewhere around town in teh 1940s:
Minneapolitans who know what the city used to look like can probably guess: the big rusting falling-down skid-row of Washington Avenue. It’s here:
Not so good a trade.
VotD Stick ‘em up! C’mon, man, stick ‘em up! Please? Hey - hey, let go!
To continue yesterday’s discussion of old vs. historic: here’s the West Bank block where Washington curves into Cedar, circa 1960. Great signs and a marvelous piece of neon - yes, the cowboy’s lariat was animated - but it’s showing its age. One good shove and the whole thing might go down.
Here’s the site today.
The Sgt. Preston’s building is the same, but the two-story commercial structure next to it has been replaced with a four-story structure, an apartment building.
Let’s take a look at that complex from space. (Apologies if there's a hunk of irrelevant post for the next few paragraphs - cut and paste error, and I can't seem to purge it from the post. Yet. If you see a Google view below, NEVERMIND.)
Huge. There’s no way that thing would be considered in character with the rest of the neighborhood, except that the neighborhood itself was blasted to bits by freeways and other projects. But I wonder if they could build it today, or whether the charms and historic nature of the old building would take precedence over anything else. Including an extraordinary amount of useful student housing.
As long as we’re looking the old Seven Corners, here are a few more details from 1960. The block wasn’t exactly at its best. The neighborhood was shabby, like most of the Washington Avenue corridor.
You suspect the clock hadn't worked for a year or two.
Wildest traders in town! Yeeeee hah! The neon cowboy ended up in a bar in the Holiday Inn, called the Neon Cowboy, but was removed at some point. I've no idea where it is now.
The Minnesota Grill: there's a bright merry cove to spend your lunch in a beer-soaked stupor. It was also, at some point, the Mixers:
The octagonal design in the windows, the glass blocks - late 30s or early 40s. The fire escape gives it a picturesque quality we associate with Real Cities. You wonder if they'd come right off the side of the wall if anyone actually tried to use them.
It's cleaner now. It's better. It's not as interesting as the messy old streetscape in the old pictures, but it's more useful. There's always a tradeoff.
INTERNET CULTURE Did anyone still believe the Goldman Sachs Elevator Conversation twitter feed was real? Nothing that good is real. I stopped believing it was real a long time ago. NYT:
The Twitter account, @GSElevator, reports overheard remarks like, “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience,” and “Groupon…Food stamps for the middle class.” The Twitter account, which has an audience of more than 600,000 followers, has been the subject of an internal inquiry at Goldman to find the rogue employee.
Anything that confirms your worst suspicions so effectively and consistently is a fake. Sure enough, the guy who’s supposedly been tweeting Wall Street conversation lives . . . well, I won’t spoil it.
Speaking of fake things: goodbye to 744K Bitcoins. Wired:
Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, has gone offline, apparently after losing hundreds of millions of dollars due to a years-long hacking effort that went unnoticed by the company.
Add this to the legal problems of other bit coin exchanges, and people are saying it’s the end of virtual currency. Nonsense! People are still using this stuff as a medium all over the world, right?
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