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Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Tales of Future Past

Remember the past? Remember when the past imagined the future, and it looked like this? That's from Lileks's site. I'd love Lileks just for his writing, but he's also fascinated with those beautiful old buildings of tomorrow. Why, as he asks in this picture, shouldn't the world look like this today? It was going to, once, going to look even better---clean, sweeping lines, rounded and streamlined.

Here's another one, also from Lileks. I don't even know what to call this style. It always makes me think of California. I have to rely on Lileks because I can't even google on a style name.

Whoops. Spoke too soon. It has a name, and its name is Googie. Not Google, Googie. Named after a Los Angeles restaurant. Aka Populuxe, Doo-Wop, Coffee Shop Modern, Jet Age, Space Age, and Chinese Modern. (Chinese Modern? That's from an I Love Lucy episode.)

The author of this site says:

Googie was about the past, the present and the future -- But mostly the future. It was part of the popular culture, which reinforced a unified vision of a utopian future built on mankind's work and ingenuity.

Like most art forms that told a story or inspired with optimism, Googie went out of fashion in the mid-1960s. It died when the story of our grand future died in the hearts of Americans.

*sniff* That's about the saddest thing I've ever read.

But anyway, what I was going to say was, suppose the past's future survived into the future's present. That is, suppose that the Googie future (a little less pink, please) was today. What would it look like?

Why, it would look like this. Best if used with Flash. This, children, is the 59 Diner in Houston, a chain of three restaurants. I had dinner at the Katy Freeway location on Saturday night. The exterior is a bit too self-consciously Googie (sorry, could not find a picture). Yesterday's Restaurant of Tomorrow would have its own animated web site, where you could look up the menu on-line, and find out what this week's Blue Plate Specials are. You only need on-line ordering---and beyond that you only need a tiny little bubble-shaped ship to whisk it piping hot to your door---to find yourself smack dab in a Jetsons episode.

Why don't we have tiny bubble-shaped vehicles like the Jetsons did? Whose fault is it, and can we hurt them?

By the way, I had the meatloaf Blue Plate Special---meatloaf and three sides (mashed potatoes, "lima" beans [they were butter beans], and broccoli casserole) plus cornbread. And a chocolate malt, and yes I was stuffed. The meatloaf was not great, but you don't often see meatloaf on a menu these days, so I went for it.

The Future's here, and it's cool, but it's not as cool as it could be.

For more Googie, check out these sites:

Motel Americana

Diner City

Society for Commercial Archeology

For you home decorators and do-it-yourselfers:

An Amazon book link: Retro Style: The '50s Look for Today's Home

Retro fabrics and wallpaper Some genuine leftovers, some new designs in the old style. I seriously dig the Atomicburst fabric pattern, but I wish they had it in blue background. I need one of those pillows. Jetson White, yeah...