Architecture and Color

Paleo Retiree writes:

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As Far as That Will Carry Us

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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SUMMER as it was, the east wind set poor Hepzibah’s few remaining teeth chattering in her head, as she and Clifford faced it, on their way up Pyncheon Street, and towards the centre of the town. Not merely was it the shiver which this pitiless blast brought to her frame (although her feet and hands, especially, had never seemed so death-a-cold as now), but there was a moral sensation, mingling itself with the physical chill, and causing her to shake more in spirit than in body. The world’s broad, bleak atmosphere was all so comfortless! Such, indeed, is the impression which it makes on every new adventurer, even if he plunge into it while the warmest tide of life is bubbling through his veins. What, then, must it have been to Hepzibah and Clifford,—so time-stricken as they were, yet so like children in their inexperience,—as they left the doorstep, and passed from beneath the wide shelter of the Pyncheon Elm! They were wandering all abroad, on precisely such a pilgrimage as a child often meditates, to the world’s end, with perhaps a sixpence and a biscuit in his pocket. In Hepzibah’s mind, there was the wretched consciousness of being adrift. She had lost the faculty of self-guidance; but, in view of the difficulties around her, felt it hardly worth an effort to regain it, and was, moreover, incapable of making one.

As they proceeded on their strange expedition, she now and then cast a look sidelong at Clifford, and could not but observe that he was possessed and swayed by a powerful excitement. It was this, indeed, that gave him the control which he had at once, and so irresistibly, established over his movements. It not a little resembled the exhilaration of wine. Or, it might more fancifully be compared to a joyous piece of music, played with wild vivacity, but upon a disordered instrument. As the cracked jarring note might always be heard, and as it jarred loudest amidst the loftiest exultation of the melody, so was there a continual quake through Clifford, causing him most to quiver while he wore a triumphant smile, and seemed almost under a necessity to skip in his gait.

They met few people abroad, even on passing from the retired neighborhood of the House of the Seven Gables into what was ordinarily the more thronged and busier portion of the town. Glistening sidewalks, with little pools of rain, here and there, along their unequal surface; umbrellas displayed ostentatiously in the shop-windows, as if the life of trade had concentrated itself in that one article; wet leaves of the horse-chestnut or elm-trees, torn off untimely by the blast and scattered along the public way; an unsightly, accumulation of mud in the middle of the street, which perversely grew the more unclean for its long and laborious washing,—these were the more definable points of a very sombre picture. In the way of movement and human life, there was the hasty rattle of a cab or coach, its driver protected by a waterproof cap over his head and shoulders; the forlorn figure of an old man, who seemed to have crept out of some subterranean sewer, and was stooping along the kennel, and poking the wet rubbish with a stick, in quest of rusty nails; a merchant or two, at the door of the post-office, together with an editor and a miscellaneous politician, awaiting a dilatory mail; a few visages of retired sea-captains at the window of an insurance office, looking out vacantly at the vacant street, blaspheming at the weather, and fretting at the dearth as well of public news as local gossip. What a treasure-trove to these venerable quidnuncs, could they have guessed the secret which Hepzibah and Clifford were carrying along with them! But their two figures attracted hardly so much notice as that of a young girl, who passed at the same instant, and happened to raise her skirt a trifle too high above her ankles. Had it been a sunny and cheerful day, they could hardly have gone through the streets without making themselves obnoxious to remark. Now, probably, they were felt to be in keeping with the dismal and bitter weather, and therefore did not stand out in strong relief, as if the sun were shining on them, but melted into the gray gloom and were forgotten as soon as gone.

Poor Hepzibah! Could she have understood this fact, it would have brought her some little comfort; for, to all her other troubles,—strange to say!—there was added the womanish and old-maiden-like misery arising from a sense of unseemliness in her attire. Thus, she was fain to shrink deeper into herself, as it were, as if in the hope of making people suppose that here was only a cloak and hood, threadbare and woefully faded, taking an airing in the midst of the storm, without any wearer!

As they went on, the feeling of indistinctness and unreality kept dimly hovering round about her, and so diffusing itself into her system that one of her hands was hardly palpable to the touch of the other. Any certainty would have been preferable to this. She whispered to herself, again and again, “Am I awake?—Am I awake?” and sometimes exposed her face to the chill spatter of the wind, for the sake of its rude assurance that she was. Whether it was Clifford’s purpose, or only chance, had led them thither, they now found themselves passing beneath the arched entrance of a large structure of gray stone. Within, there was a spacious breadth, and an airy height from floor to roof, now partially filled with smoke and steam, which eddied voluminously upward and formed a mimic cloud-region over their heads. A train of cars was just ready for a start; the locomotive was fretting and fuming, like a steed impatient for a headlong rush; and the bell rang out its hasty peal, so well expressing the brief summons which life vouchsafes to us in its hurried career. Without question or delay,—with the irresistible decision, if not rather to be called recklessness, which had so strangely taken possession of him, and through him of Hepzibah,—Clifford impelled her towards the cars, and assisted her to enter. The signal was given; the engine puffed forth its short, quick breaths; the train began its movement; and, along with a hundred other passengers, these two unwonted travellers sped onward like the wind.

At last, therefore, and after so long estrangement from everything that the world acted or enjoyed, they had been drawn into the great current of human life, and were swept away with it, as by the suction of fate itself.

Still haunted with the idea that not one of the past incidents, inclusive of Judge Pyncheon’s visit, could be real, the recluse of the Seven Gables murmured in her brother’s ear,—

“Clifford! Clifford! Is not this a dream?”

“A dream, Hepzibah!” repeated he, almost laughing in her face. “On the contrary, I have never been awake before!”

Meanwhile, looking from the window, they could see the world racing past them. At one moment, they were rattling through a solitude; the next, a village had grown up around them; a few breaths more, and it had vanished, as if swallowed by an earthquake. The spires of meeting-houses seemed set adrift from their foundations; the broad-based hills glided away. Everything was unfixed from its age-long rest, and moving at whirlwind speed in a direction opposite to their own.

Within the car there was the usual interior life of the railroad, offering little to the observation of other passengers, but full of novelty for this pair of strangely enfranchised prisoners. It was novelty enough, indeed, that there were fifty human beings in close relation with them, under one long and narrow roof, and drawn onward by the same mighty influence that had taken their two selves into its grasp. It seemed marvellous how all these people could remain so quietly in their seats, while so much noisy strength was at work in their behalf. Some, with tickets in their hats (long travellers these, before whom lay a hundred miles of railroad), had plunged into the English scenery and adventures of pamphlet novels, and were keeping company with dukes and earls. Others, whose briefer span forbade their devoting themselves to studies so abstruse, beguiled the little tedium of the way with penny-papers. A party of girls, and one young man, on opposite sides of the car, found huge amusement in a game of ball. They tossed it to and fro, with peals of laughter that might be measured by mile-lengths; for, faster than the nimble ball could fly, the merry players fled unconsciously along, leaving the trail of their mirth afar behind, and ending their game under another sky than had witnessed its commencement. Boys, with apples, cakes, candy, and rolls of variously tinctured lozenges,—merchandise that reminded Hepzibah of her deserted shop,—appeared at each momentary stopping-place, doing up their business in a hurry, or breaking it short off, lest the market should ravish them away with it. New people continually entered. Old acquaintances—for such they soon grew to be, in this rapid current of affairs—continually departed. Here and there, amid the rumble and the tumult, sat one asleep. Sleep; sport; business; graver or lighter study; and the common and inevitable movement onward! It was life itself!

Clifford’s naturally poignant sympathies were all aroused. He caught the color of what was passing about him, and threw it back more vividly than he received it, but mixed, nevertheless, with a lurid and portentous hue. Hepzibah, on the other hand, felt herself more apart from human kind than even in the seclusion which she had just quitted.

“You are not happy, Hepzibah!” said Clifford apart, in a tone of approach. “You are thinking of that dismal old house, and of Cousin Jaffrey”—here came the quake through him,—”and of Cousin Jaffrey sitting there, all by himself! Take my advice,—follow my example,—and let such things slip aside. Here we are, in the world, Hepzibah!—in the midst of life!—in the throng of our fellow beings! Let you and I be happy! As happy as that youth and those pretty girls, at their game of ball!”

“Happy—” thought Hepzibah, bitterly conscious, at the word, of her dull and heavy heart, with the frozen pain in it,—”happy. He is mad already; and, if I could once feel myself broad awake, I should go mad too!”

If a fixed idea be madness, she was perhaps not remote from it. Fast and far as they had rattled and clattered along the iron track, they might just as well, as regarded Hepzibah’s mental images, have been passing up and down Pyncheon Street. With miles and miles of varied scenery between, there was no scene for her save the seven old gable-peaks, with their moss, and the tuft of weeds in one of the angles, and the shop-window, and a customer shaking the door, and compelling the little bell to jingle fiercely, but without disturbing Judge Pyncheon! This one old house was everywhere! It transported its great, lumbering bulk with more than railroad speed, and set itself phlegmatically down on whatever spot she glanced at. The quality of Hepzibah’s mind was too unmalleable to take new impressions so readily as Clifford’s. He had a winged nature; she was rather of the vegetable kind, and could hardly be kept long alive, if drawn up by the roots. Thus it happened that the relation heretofore existing between her brother and herself was changed. At home, she was his guardian; here, Clifford had become hers, and seemed to comprehend whatever belonged to their new position with a singular rapidity of intelligence. He had been startled into manhood and intellectual vigor; or, at least, into a condition that resembled them, though it might be both diseased and transitory.

The conductor now applied for their tickets; and Clifford, who had made himself the purse-bearer, put a bank-note into his hand, as he had observed others do.

“For the lady and yourself?” asked the conductor. “And how far?”

“As far as that will carry us,” said Clifford. “It is no great matter. We are riding for pleasure merely.”

“You choose a strange day for it, sir!” remarked a gimlet-eyed old gentleman on the other side of the car, looking at Clifford and his companion, as if curious to make them out. “The best chance of pleasure, in an easterly rain, I take it, is in a man’s own house, with a nice little fire in the chimney.”

“I cannot precisely agree with you,” said Clifford, courteously bowing to the old gentleman, and at once taking up the clew of conversation which the latter had proffered. “It had just occurred to me, on the contrary, that this admirable invention of the railroad—with the vast and inevitable improvements to be looked for, both as to speed and convenience—is destined to do away with those stale ideas of home and fireside, and substitute something better.”

“In the name of common-sense,” asked the old gentleman rather testily, “what can be better for a man than his own parlor and chimney-corner?”

“These things have not the merit which many good people attribute to them,” replied Clifford. “They may be said, in few and pithy words, to have ill served a poor purpose. My impression is, that our wonderfully increased and still increasing facilities of locomotion are destined to bring us around again to the nomadic state. You are aware, my dear sir,—you must have observed it in your own experience,—that all human progress is in a circle; or, to use a more accurate and beautiful figure, in an ascending spiral curve. While we fancy ourselves going straight forward, and attaining, at every step, an entirely new position of affairs, we do actually return to something long ago tried and abandoned, but which we now find etherealized, refined, and perfected to its ideal. The past is but a coarse and sensual prophecy of the present and the future. To apply this truth to the topic now under discussion. In the early epochs of our race, men dwelt in temporary huts, of bowers of branches, as easily constructed as a bird’s-nest, and which they built,—if it should be called building, when such sweet homes of a summer solstice rather grew than were made with hands,—which Nature, we will say, assisted them to rear where fruit abounded, where fish and game were plentiful, or, most especially, where the sense of beauty was to be gratified by a lovelier shade than elsewhere, and a more exquisite arrangement of lake, wood, and hill. This life possessed a charm which, ever since man quitted it, has vanished from existence. And it typified something better than itself. It had its drawbacks; such as hunger and thirst, inclement weather, hot sunshine, and weary and foot-blistering marches over barren and ugly tracts, that lay between the sites desirable for their fertility and beauty. But in our ascending spiral, we escape all this. These railroads—could but the whistle be made musical, and the rumble and the jar got rid of—are positively the greatest blessing that the ages have wrought out for us. They give us wings; they annihilate the toil and dust of pilgrimage; they spiritualize travel! Transition being so facile, what can be any man’s inducement to tarry in one spot? Why, therefore, should he build a more cumbrous habitation than can readily be carried off with him? Why should he make himself a prisoner for life in brick, and stone, and old worm-eaten timber, when he may just as easily dwell, in one sense, nowhere,—in a better sense, wherever the fit and beautiful shall offer him a home?”

Clifford’s countenance glowed, as he divulged this theory; a youthful character shone out from within, converting the wrinkles and pallid duskiness of age into an almost transparent mask. The merry girls let their ball drop upon the floor, and gazed at him. They said to themselves, perhaps, that, before his hair was gray and the crow’s-feet tracked his temples, this now decaying man must have stamped the impress of his features on many a woman’s heart. But, alas! no woman’s eye had seen his face while it was beautiful.

“I should scarcely call it an improved state of things,” observed Clifford’s new acquaintance, “to live everywhere and nowhere!”

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Naked Lady of the Week: Patti McGuire

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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Are people still named Patti? I can think of a few ’70s-era Pattis, but I don’t encounter the name a whole lot these days. I suppose it’s short for Patricia. I don’t encounter many Patricias either. My completely made-up-on-the-spot theory: Peppermint Patty ruined the name for generations, perhaps forever. I hate Peppermint Patty, don’t you? I’m not even sure why I hate her, but I do. No, it’s not because she’s a lesbian. Actually, now that I think of it, I hate pretty much every Peanuts character with an undying passion, even the one or two straight ones. I notice that no one is named Lucy either. Coincidence?

Patti McGuire was the Playmate of the Year for 1977. The ’70s were a great era for Playmates. They still tended to be wholesome and somewhat middle-American. Patti definitely fit that type. She looked like a top-shelf version of the Irish-American girls I knew in high school. If only they’d looked at me like Patti looks at the camera…

That’s quite a look, isn’t it? While Patti’s smile made her look fresh and sweet, like a lemon-lime soft-drink, her come-hither look, which involved a slight lowering of the chin and a cobra-like stare, was like a shot of bourbon. A look like that either puts hair on a man’s chest or sends him home to play with mama.

She ended up marrying tennis great Jimmy Connors, who wasn’t in the habit of playing with mama.

I found this interesting statement in an old interview:

When [King] Kong first meets Fay Wray, he peels off her clothes, fondles her and then sniffs his fingers. Later, when he’s climbing the Empire State Building, he reaches through a window and grabs a blonde. He sniffs her and, realizing that she is not his beloved, casually tosses her some 50 stories to her death. That’s my idea of a faithful lover.

The lady demands fealty.

Nudity below. Have a great weekend.

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Sucker Punched

Fenster writes:

I wrote here about the many relatively reputable news outlets that got suckered by a bogus story about a public masturbation booth in midtown Manhattan.  It seems like some stories are just too juicy to pass up.  Why bother with shoe leather when hell it is only a quick, pleasurable hit, and others are doing it?

A somewhat similar tale is unfolding.  This time, the story is of a Fellatio Cafe planned for the formerly Calvinist Geneva by the end of the year, with one to follow in London and in other swinging locales.

Here is a website that describes the concept and points to the many press outlets that have covered the development.  None of the outlets are to my knowledge pure fake news providers, though they vary in terms of how much probity, to use that term correctly, is to be expected.  Put another way, the HuffPost is on the list of outlets that have run with a story.

At the high end of the credibility spectrum, Instapundit linked to a story along with a wink-wink-nod-nod just yesterday.

So it’s true, right?

That is not so easy to establish.  Your humble correspondent was able to put on some decent shoes and trek over to the site of the alleged masturbation booth in Manhattan to debunk that story.  That option is not available here.  Not only is a flight to Geneva prohibitive for a mostly pajama-journo such as yours truly but the first cafe is not yet even open.  The London cafe is mysteriously off in the distance as well, as are the spinoffs such as a cafe for the ladies in which the tables are turned.  That one sounds at least as fishy.

As with the masturbation booth coverage, most all of the stories appear to be virtually identical, as though they were simple rephrasings of promotional language.  And that’s one of the problems of getting to “the truth” in our addled era: it is not just a matter of the truly fake news found on bogus sites, or even the relentless big picture narrative promotion at which the mainstream media excel.  It is also this pesky matter of the middleground, of stories that might be true, or partially true, but who knows?

I was not about to fly to Geneva but I did spend some time sleuthing, finding the name of the promoter (Bradley Charvet) in one story and using that to Google in other ways, including in the Swiss press.  There, the concept is referred to as a Cafe Pipe, since “pipe” is the term used colloquially for fellatio, equivalent to “blowjob”.

The best I can make out is that while Charvet and the idea do in fact exist there was never probably never really a serious attempt to open such a cafe.  The impression given is that of a a promoter with a clever idea at self-promotion, a form of ego masturbation all too common in our day and age, and the kind of stunt that our so-called media are only too happy to enable, no penetrating questions asked.

And in fact here is an article from a Swiss newspaper, poorly translated by Google, that reports that the cafe concept is dead.

Cold shower for lovers of morning expressos naughty! The pipe-pipe project will not see the light of day in a public establishment in Geneva. Indeed, the Commercial Service did not validate the coffee at 60 Swiss francs, which was meant to be innovative in Switzerland: fee-based sexual services are still banned in public establishments (see below).

Bradley Charvet, designer of the Geneva project and boss of the escort service www.facegirl.ch gives up: “It is impossible to set up this type of coffee in Geneva in a public establishment. It was a daring idea but for the time being we will not make the project. “In Switzerland, if prostitution is allowed, it must be done in a private setting, so it is impossible to offer a A simple cafe.

What seems most likely is that while prostitution is legal in Switzerland it is regulated and must take place in a private setting.  And that Charvet may well have known it was a non-starter but that he also followed Barnum’s dictum: a sucker is born every minute.

The article ran several weeks back.  Did Instapundit–the prototypical pajama journalist--bother to check, even from his bedroom computer?  No.  Will we likely see more coverage of the Cafe Pipe?  Probably.

Posted in Sex, Technology, The Good Life | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Architecture and Color

Paleo Retiree writes:

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I Walked in a World of Their Invention

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

The-Turn-of-the-Screw-Collier's-7

I scarce know how to put my story into words that shall be a credible picture of my state of mind; but I was in these days literally able to find a joy in the extraordinary flight of heroism the occasion demanded of me. I now saw that I had been asked for a service admirable and difficult; and there would be a greatness in letting it be seen—oh, in the right quarter!—that I could succeed where many another girl might have failed. It was an immense help to me—I confess I rather applaud myself as I look back!—that I saw my service so strongly and so simply. I was there to protect and defend the little creatures in the world the most bereaved and the most lovable, the appeal of whose helplessness had suddenly become only too explicit, a deep, constant ache of one’s own committed heart. We were cut off, really, together; we were united in our danger. They had nothing but me, and I—well, I had THEM. It was in short a magnificent chance. This chance presented itself to me in an image richly material. I was a screen—I was to stand before them. The more I saw, the less they would. I began to watch them in a stifled suspense, a disguised excitement that might well, had it continued too long, have turned to something like madness. What saved me, as I now see, was that it turned to something else altogether. It didn’t last as suspense—it was superseded by horrible proofs. Proofs, I say, yes—from the moment I really took hold.

This moment dated from an afternoon hour that I happened to spend in the grounds with the younger of my pupils alone. We had left Miles indoors, on the red cushion of a deep window seat; he had wished to finish a book, and I had been glad to encourage a purpose so laudable in a young man whose only defect was an occasional excess of the restless. His sister, on the contrary, had been alert to come out, and I strolled with her half an hour, seeking the shade, for the sun was still high and the day exceptionally warm. I was aware afresh, with her, as we went, of how, like her brother, she contrived—it was the charming thing in both children—to let me alone without appearing to drop me and to accompany me without appearing to surround. They were never importunate and yet never listless. My attention to them all really went to seeing them amuse themselves immensely without me: this was a spectacle they seemed actively to prepare and that engaged me as an active admirer. I walked in a world of their invention—they had no occasion whatever to draw upon mine; so that my time was taken only with being, for them, some remarkable person or thing that the game of the moment required and that was merely, thanks to my superior, my exalted stamp, a happy and highly distinguished sinecure. I forget what I was on the present occasion; I only remember that I was something very important and very quiet and that Flora was playing very hard. We were on the edge of the lake, and, as we had lately begun geography, the lake was the Sea of Azof.

Suddenly, in these circumstances, I became aware that, on the other side of the Sea of Azof, we had an interested spectator. The way this knowledge gathered in me was the strangest thing in the world—the strangest, that is, except the very much stranger in which it quickly merged itself. I had sat down with a piece of work—for I was something or other that could sit—on the old stone bench which overlooked the pond; and in this position I began to take in with certitude, and yet without direct vision, the presence, at a distance, of a third person. The old trees, the thick shrubbery, made a great and pleasant shade, but it was all suffused with the brightness of the hot, still hour. There was no ambiguity in anything; none whatever, at least, in the conviction I from one moment to another found myself forming as to what I should see straight before me and across the lake as a consequence of raising my eyes. They were attached at this juncture to the stitching in which I was engaged, and I can feel once more the spasm of my effort not to move them till I should so have steadied myself as to be able to make up my mind what to do. There was an alien object in view—a figure whose right of presence I instantly, passionately questioned. I recollect counting over perfectly the possibilities, reminding myself that nothing was more natural, for instance, then the appearance of one of the men about the place, or even of a messenger, a postman, or a tradesman’s boy, from the village. That reminder had as little effect on my practical certitude as I was conscious—still even without looking—of its having upon the character and attitude of our visitor. Nothing was more natural than that these things should be the other things that they absolutely were not.

Of the positive identity of the apparition I would assure myself as soon as the small clock of my courage should have ticked out the right second; meanwhile, with an effort that was already sharp enough, I transferred my eyes straight to little Flora, who, at the moment, was about ten yards away. My heart had stood still for an instant with the wonder and terror of the question whether she too would see; and I held my breath while I waited for what a cry from her, what some sudden innocent sign either of interest or of alarm, would tell me. I waited, but nothing came; then, in the first place—and there is something more dire in this, I feel, than in anything I have to relate—I was determined by a sense that, within a minute, all sounds from her had previously dropped; and, in the second, by the circumstance that, also within the minute, she had, in her play, turned her back to the water. This was her attitude when I at last looked at her—looked with the confirmed conviction that we were still, together, under direct personal notice. She had picked up a small flat piece of wood, which happened to have in it a little hole that had evidently suggested to her the idea of sticking in another fragment that might figure as a mast and make the thing a boat. This second morsel, as I watched her, she was very markedly and intently attempting to tighten in its place. My apprehension of what she was doing sustained me so that after some seconds I felt I was ready for more. Then I again shifted my eyes—I faced what I had to face.

— Henry James

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Happy Fourth of July!

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

Via Wikipedia:

Oliver was one of three judges during the trials held after the Boston MassacreThomas Hutchinson was pleased with the work that Peter Oliver did, and made him chief justice of the Superior Court in 1772. Oliver complained often about how low his salary was as chief justice. The British proposed a plan to raise the justice’s salary, paid for by the crown. All of the justices declined this offer except for Oliver. He was impeached in 1774 because of the public outrage against him for doing so. In January, 1776, Oliver, who believed absolutely that the Revolution, which he consistently referred to as the “Rebellion,” was illegal and destined to fail, wrote a letter to Massachusetts troops entitled “An Address to the Soldiers of Massachusetts Bay who are now in Arms against the Laws of their Country.” Oliver essentially argues that the Rebellion is illegal and destined to fail and that the Massachusetts troops have been lied to by their officers about the potential for success against Great Britain, which he characterizes as the “mildest government to live under.”

You can buy Oliver’s book, Origin & Progress of the American Rebellion, here.

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