Hey everyone! It’s Thursday! You know what that means, right?
I don’t know either. All I’ve got is that it’s Thursday.
Don’t give me that look – I’m trying to be positive, so work with me here.
With work going on in the kitchen, Yours Truly is hiding out in his home office, fooling around on the Internet. It’s really the only refuge I have: There’s no place to sit in the living room, and even if I did that, the cable is currently disconnected while the primary line is being redirected. I’ve been a virtual prisoner in my office most of the day, too, but I sneak a periodic peek at the work – and despite my reluctance for the renovation overall, I have to say that this work crew has done an excellent job. They’re still a good day away from completion, but what they’ve done thus far is more than I’d ever expected.
All the same, I’m hoping that tomorrow is indeed the last day. I’ve spent more on eating out in the last week than I did in the six months prior. I’d be different if we were big eaters, but we’ve only hit the chain sporty-type eateries, and they’re generally not that expensive. Today I brought some snacks into my Fortress of Solitude, since I don’t have access to the kitchen, and let me tell you – I never thought I’d ever get sick of chocolate chip cookies. When you’re a kid, you’ve got that fantasy of having good ole chocolate chips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Well kids, it’s not as great as we imagined.
I’d meant to mention in yesterday’s post that I’d seen something on the way home from work that I hadn’t seen in a good while, at least not without some difficulty:
I took a county side road on the way home because – well, just because. I was stressed because of the cold, the biblical-level mess I knew I’d face once home, and my pending dinner expenses. This route, while longer, is relaxing – for the most part.
That’s when I saw it. That big round yellow-orange thing in the sky. It suddenly popped out from behind the clouds and said, “Hey you guys! Here I am!” I can only recall one other day in the last month where the Sun appeared in all of its majesty, unobscured. I was so shocked at seeing it yesterday that I took the photo – while driving – along this backwoods path. It was hard (as well as stupid things should be), but there was a maniac driver behind me. Each time I attempted to slow and pull over, the guy pulled up closer to me than my own shadow. I kept hoping that he’d take a hint by my slowing, but that just encouraged him to drive even closer. Desperate to remember this winter anomaly, I was going to get my photo. So, with one hand on my phone, the other on the wheel, and an eye on each, I snapped this while trying to avoid Mr. Maniac, and not kill myself (or anyone else) in the process.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I love Old Time Radio shows. While I have my favorites, I’ve been especially interested in hearing the old Dragnet shows with Jack Webb, and after a little searching, I’ve been handed yet another reason to be thankful for the Internet.
Dragnet began the police procedural we know and love. Starting in June 1949, and lasting until 1955, American radios gave ordinary folks a glimpse into what it was like to be a police officer in one of the country’s fastest growing cities, Los Angeles. Narrated by the almost monotone Webb, the point was to show that police work was not as glamorous or as exciting as film and crime magazines suggested, and that the end of the day, a policeman was just an ordinary guy like you and me. Centered on an “average” policeman (Webb didn’t care for the term “cop,” and apparently actual police officers complained when Webb used it to describe his character) named “Joe Friday,” the radio show was so successful that it spawned a television series in 1954 (the key reason the radio version ended), where many of the same radio-plays were reworked as teleplays.
Joe Friday was a native Californian, who served in the Army during World War II. After the war, Friday had no clue about his future; after his discharge, he returned to Los Angeles, where he lived with his elderly mother. Friday attended night school, but the two apples of his eyes were his mother and his job (not in that order). Friday almost never dated, despite being practically pimped out by his mother, his partners, and other police officers, and while he periodically mentioned his plethora of friends, one never got the feeling that Friday was close to anyone – even with his mother – as he was with his job.
The radio shows were short and sweet, all boasting that they were based on true stories. Webb gave people the impression that the shows were based on current crimes, when in fact, many were based on crimes that had occurred decades earlier. To make the scenes appear as though they were from real life, the show employed a lot of small talk between characters – a lot of small talk. A popular gimmick was to have a character repeat the same line (or a variation of it) multiple times. It was to show someone either baffled or in shock, but often the repetition served no purpose at all. And Friday wore the loudest shoes on the planet. Personally, I wear a leather-soled Oxford shoe because the “click-clack” on linoleum evokes an air of authority. It can be pretty loud in an empty hallway. Webb’s character must have had stereo speakers installed in his shoes because they’re just too loud. And when Friday has to go somewhere, you’re rewarded with every single step.
Most people are more familiar with the 1967 reboot of Dragnet, where Webb and new partner Harry Morgan, patrolled a very different Los Angeles. Webb managed everything at this point, and he was so determined to maintain the same feel of the original that the later show came off more as a parody than a serious look at criminal justice. Still, Dragnet changed the way Americans looked at police entertainment.
People don’t seem to realize that the original Law and Order is nothing more than Dragnet set in New York. L&O’s producer, Dick Wolf’s said as much, going so far as to attempt yet another reboot in the early 2000s (with Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill as Friday), but the show floundered quickly. It was retooled as LA Dragnet, and that pretty much marked its doom.
The thing about the radio show is that it was essentially a commercial for the Los Angeles Police Department. They had an active hand in its production, and were very keen on making sure that Webb and his writers did things accurately. That said, the recordings provide a very interesting glimpse into what policing was like in the middle of the twentieth century.
Well, I have a sink now, and a number of cabinets. Still no counter tops or a functional stove, so I guess we’re eating out again. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.