I am Attorney General Jerry Brown
My aura smiles and never frowns
Soon I will be
I am Attorney General Jerry Brown
My aura smiles and never frowns
Soon I will be
A few weeks ago, I was parking my bicycle outside the Central Library on Nicollet Avenue, when a man walked by and stopped for a moment to look at me oddly. This happens sometimes, so I didn’t think much of it. He passed me by, but then he stopped again, turned around, and approached me. “C____ T_____?” he asked.
(I am omitting the full name he used for privacy-related reasons that will become clear shortly.)
“Pardon me?” I said.
“Oh,” he replied. “I thought you were C_____ T ______.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m sorry, sir,” I said. “I am Andy Sturdevant.” He apologized, looking a little embarrassed, and walked off.
“C_____ T_____” is a memorable name, so I made a note of it. Perhaps C_____ T_____ was my doppelganger.
When I arrived home that evening, I Googled the name with “Minnesota” to see what came up. After a little digging around, I came upon a very old-school personal website for a person of the same name that lives in South Minneapolis. Along with some historic photos and essays on his work in real estate and preservation, he included a photo gallery of some photographs of himself. One of these photos is above: C______ T________ with a Rudge Ulster motorcycle, en route from Cincinnati to the Twin Cities.
I believe it is fair to say that he and I share a certain resemblance.
The odd thing, though, is that C_____ T_____ was born in the mid-’50s. The photo above is from 1979.
C_____ T_____ also posted some photos of himself as he appears today, which is quite a bit different. In fact, I don’t look much like the current-day version of C_____ T_____ at all — he is now clean shaven and doesn’t wear glasses. I do, however, look a bit like the 1979 vintage.
So perhaps this fellow on Nicollet Mall thought he had momentarily traveled thirty years in the past and stumbled across C_____ T_____. This would account for his confusion. I would be baffled if I was walking down the street and came across a person that I hadn’t seen for thirty years but who did not look any different than he looked thirty years ago, when I knew him.
Of course I emailed C_____ T_____ immediately and told him the whole story, also attaching a photo of myself. I was hoping he would invite me to lunch or something and we could talk about what it’s like to look like we do, but I never heard from him. Maybe he never got the email, or maybe it was an old address. Or maybe he just thought it was all too weird. To preserve his privacy, I’m not using his full name, but I do sort of wish he’d written back.
I have never been mistaken for a time traveler before, and if C_____ T_____ was thinking it was all too weird, he’s not wrong. It is kind of weird, but I also think it’s kind of great.
Jeanette MacDonald singing “San Francisco,” from the 1936 film of the same name.
If you are in the market for a corny, sweeping MGM two-hanky weeper, move this one to the top of your Netflix queue today. It contains one of my favorite endings of any movie, ever: after the 1906 earthquake hits, scoundrel Clark Gable repents his wicked ways and asks Spencer Tracey how to pray — somewhat unconvincingly, but you go along with it, because, what the hell, it’s Spencer Tracey. Then everyone sings “Nearer My God to Thee,” and then Clark (never handsomer) and Spencer (never priesty-er), along with Jeanette and a whole cast of California-oriented stock character actors (prospectors, saloon girls, etc.) all shout “COME ON EVERYONE LET’S BUILD A NEW SAN FRANCISCO” and they all climb a hill singing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and segue it flawlessly into this excellent number, and before our very eyes the smoking ruins of the city on the bay are transformed via the magic of photomontage into the bustling metropolis of 1936, with the Golden Gate Bridge still under construction, and I sit on my couch and shout “I WILL! I WILL! I WILL HELP YOU BUILD A NEW SAN FRANCISCO!” and then I start crying into my cereal.
Though the series was set in Florida, Cougar Town was initially developed as a critique of cougars. As the cougar situation in America dragged toward conclusion, however, the series focused more on characters than situations—a major development for situation comedy. Characters were given room to learn from their mistakes, to adapt and change. Courtney Cox became less the rigid cougar and more a friend to both her neighbors and the doctors. This focus on character rather than character type set Cougar Town apart from other comedies of the day and the style of the show departed from the norm in many other ways as well, both in terms of its style and its mode of production.
While most other contemporary sitcoms took place indoors and were largely produced on videotape in front of a live audience, Cougar Town was shot entirely on film on location in Florida. The series also made innovative uses of the laugh track. In early seasons, the laugh track was employed during the entire episode. As the series developed, the laugh track was removed from scenes that occurred in the operating room. In a few episodes, the laugh track was removed entirely, another departure from sitcom conventions.
The most striking technical aspect of the series is found in its aggressively cinematic visual style. Instead of relying on straight cuts and short takes episodes often used long shots with people and vehicles moving between the characters and the camera. Tracking shots moved with action, and changed direction when the story was “handed off” from one group of characters to another. These and other camera movements, wedded to complex editing techniques, enabled the series to explore character psychology in powerful ways, and to assert the preeminence of the ensemble over any single individual. In this way Cougar Town seemed to be asserting the central fact of cougars, that individual human beings are caught in the tangled mesh of other lives and there must struggle to retain some sense of humanity and compassion. This approach enabled Cougar Town to manipulate its multiple story lines and its mixture of comedy and drama with techniques that matched the complex, absurd tragedy of cougars themselves.
“Fact is, Cougar Town has changed dramatically since the pilot. No longer is the show focused on 40-something Jules (Cox) dating hotties half her age — and it hasn’t been for a while now…In other words, forget what the title Cougar Town implies. What we have here is an ensemble comedy about a bunch of lovably dysfunctional friends and neighbors.”
We called it! We called it! So, in that spirit, I hope you have enjoyed these newer, more developed — and surprisingly accurate — thoughts on Cougar Town.
I have still never seen Cougar Town.
“G.F.S.,” Slant 6, 1995.
The first track on Inzombia.
Remember when I intimated that the rhythm section was a little, um, shaky on the first album? That have been so, but it certainly wasn’t the case by 1995. All that touring and playing rinky-dink all-ages clubs on tiny stages across the USA must have done the trick: Marge and Myra kill it, as they do all over this record, and Billotte in particular doesn’t stop for any detours. No solos, no embellishments. It’s just a perfect, breathless headlong rush, and it’s all over in under two minutes.
It seems to be a rewrite of a raucous earlier song called “Love You A Lot.” That hollering in the middle of the original is kind of fun — it reminds me of Sleater-Kinney — but I’m glad they trimmed it out. The album version is just too pristine and too perfect.
I have no idea what this song is even about. G.F.S.? I’d rather not know. I’d rather preserve the mystery.
My default winter around-the-apartment nighttime outfit, for when I am ambling around cooking or watching a movie or listening to the BBC World Service, consists of the following:
I only bring this up because, incredibly, it is the exact same outfit your contemporary dancer girlfriend in college wore around the apartment. I am one pair of leggings away from being your hot date to the Blueberry Boat album release party and drunkenly, tearfully throwing a half-empty bottle of Goldschlager at your head outside the Plaza Tavern on State Street because you’re being an asshole again.
I mean, did you think I cooked red sauce in a cravat and monogrammed silk smoking jacket? I am sorry to disappoint you, reader.
Anthropomorphizing holiday party smoked mackerel with a dollop of sour cream and a dried blueberry, then taking a photo of it just for you. Happy Christmas Eve, reader.
The smart way to drive south from Minneapolis, presuming you’re not stopping in Chicago for the weekly Sunday Breakfast Party, is to veer south at Madison and take I-39 down through Rockford and Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington so you miss the Chicago traffic. It’s faster, of course, but the trade-off is that it’s very boring. Flat and empty. Not much doin’ along the I-39 corridor.
Also, it’s night, because you’re a terrible planner and you didn’t leave Minneapolis until like 8pm, so now it’s 2am and you’ve been driving for just long enough to be a little punchy. And now it’s flat and empty and also dark.
You’re a little sleepy. You start to see things.
You see, in fact, this magnificent image soaring off in the distance. You see THE BLOOMINGTON TOWER.
The Bloomington Tower rises 700 feet off the prairie. It was built in the ’30s, from the looks of it. Probably a WPA project. Perhaps it was used for docking zeppelins.
Is there actually a Bloomington Tower? Reader, I do not know for certain. Google StreetView seems to indicate that there is not. I have never driven through Bloomington earlier than 1am after being in a car for several hours. So maybe I am not the most reliable witness, but I have also never failed to see the Bloomington Tower, gleaming off in the distance. I can’t verify it’s there with physical evidence — the above illustration is a very sophisticated artist’s rendering — but I can swear I have seen it three or four times, off in the distance near the US-51 Bloomington/Normal exit.
One time, my friends Peter and Jen were driving with me, and they saw it, too.
Maybe it disappears during the day. That would be the most sensible explanation. Those WPA engineers were an awfully clever bunch. FDR knew that there was nothing like constructing nocturnal disappearing prairie mystery towers to get America to work.
Another sensible explanation is that is where they keep all the Adlai Stevensons for future use, in cold storage, stacked up like frozen fish sticks and ready to be thawed when downstate Illinois Democrats need a fresh new egghead.
Happy Wednesday, reader. On the eve of our potential Thursday snowfall, here is a photo that captures the precise moment before I learned to ice skate last winter. Under the tutelage of Mount Holly’s own Tammy Dahlke, I seconds later cast the chair aside and completed three perfect, broken-ankle free laps around the pond. Tammy said I was a natural.
On a related note, I was asked last week by Vita.mn magazine to recommend a Christmas gift for their readers . This is what I told them:
A customized hockey jersey from Hockey Giant in Bloomington. They’ll put your name and number (mine is 00) on the back, and any crazy thing you want in big, beautiful block lettering on the front (“ART SCHOOL,” “SOCIALISM,” etc.).
This is still my favorite customized skating jersey, from last winter. The big, beautiful block lettering on the front says AREA HIGH SCHOOL, and the back does indeed say STURDEVANT / 00. Maybe this is the year I actually do have one made that says SOCIALISM, so I can being the long and thankless task of reclaiming ice hockey from the Sarah Palins and Tim Pawlentys of the world. I’ll probably have a punch thrown at me by some jerk with a mullet, but hell, I’m 30 years old now. It’s about time I finally took a punch to the face over something important.