Latest Entries

Flying blind


In the garage of the semi-detached house in Dublin where I grew up there were three large timber shelving-units divided into many neat square boxes for the storage of tools, cans of paint or – memorably – my father’s large and unwieldy collection of American magazines from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I used to watch him put the shelves together from a safe distance most evenings one summer. Mindful of sudden rages at the loss of a hammer or inability to find a special nail I kept my distance. I observed in grave silence as the wood was hammered and sawn and screwed together. Continue reading…

Grand Luncheonette

A wonderful gem of a short film about the now defunct Grand Luncheonette on Times Square in New York that was created by New York-based documentary filmmaker Peter Sillen.

The Grand Luncheonette was closed as part of the Times Square redevelopment project in 1997. It was a seven-seat, 250-square-foot piece of old-time New York on West 42nd Street, owned by Fred Hakim, who recently died. The Luncheonette lived on 42nd Street for 58 years, offering hot-dogs and sauerkraut to the passing trade.

Writing about the demise of the Grand Luncheonette, a New York Daily News journalist pessimistically concluded: “This is bigger than 42nd Street, bigger even than the Disney Corp. This is about New York being colonized by The Gap and Banana Republic and Starbuck’s and all the rest.”

Snow White hits the bottle

Drunk on Love 2 Rodolfo Loaiza

College Green in the 1970s

No internet. No email. No wi-fi. No cable tv. No mobile phones. No twitter. No webcams. No euro. No contraception. No divorce. No personal computers. No Apple. No Sky. No Premiership. No RTE2. No PDs. No Greens. No EU. No breaking news. No this just in. No U2. Wait…maybe…when did they start again?

Close Encounter

shark hunt

“The victim, Shirley Anne Durdin, was snorkelling for scallops with her husband, Barry, and a friend, Keith Coventry, out from Wiseman’s Beach, Peake Bay, South Australia. Peake Bay had always been a popular picnic spot and the beach was dotted with families, including Mrs Durdin’s four children. It was a beautiful day with clear calm water. Keith Coventry told me that he was just swimming away after comparing his scallop catch with that of Mrs Durdin, when he heard a strange sound, but definitely not as the papers reported, terrible screams… Continue reading…

New York Subway, 1905

Dell map mysteries

The Dell Map Back mysteries of the 1940s and 1950s were something very beautiful. No publisher seemed to put more effort into producing mass-market paperback books than Dell. The one thing above all others that set them apart was the beautifully rendered scene-of-the-crime representations on the back covers.

Opening of Charles de Gaulle airport

On 8 March 1974 Charles de Gaulle Airport opened. Terminal 1 was built in an avant-garde design of a ten-floors-high circular building surrounded by seven satellite buildings, each with six gates. The main architect was Paul Andreu. The first terminal was built in the image of an octopus. It consists of a circular central part housing central functions like check-in and baggage claim. The passage between the third, fourth and fifth floors is done through a tangle of escalators arranged in the centre of the building. These escalators are suspended over the central court and covered with a transparent tube for insulation. Andreu initially had envisaged building several terminals on this model. Nevertheless, the first years of operation identified several defects due to the original design of the building. While adequate for journeys originating or ending in Paris, the terminal is not very suitable as a hub since it cannot be expanded. Many passengers have been disappointed to have no view of planes from the main terminal, in contrast to the situation at the airport of Orly.

Los Angeles 1940s

The above film clip is an outtake from an unknown feature film (specifically, a “process plate” intended for rear projection behind characters driving in a car). If it was ever used, it was seen fuzzy and out of focus. Today, however, it’s an amazing documentation of a lost neighborhood. It is odd to think that almost all the buildings you can see have now been demolished and replaced. The Internet Archive’s HD transfer of the 35mm nitrate negative is crisp with detail: shiny cars, palm trees, and depression-era shop fronts.

I apologise for the short ad for those blood-sucking vampires Goldman Sachs before the video. I couldn’t edit it out. Hold your nose and cover your ears for a few seconds.

Thanks to The Atlantic and Prelinger Archives.

Go Sammy!

Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.