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Block E, then and now

  • Blog Post by: James Lileks
  • 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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