[Plura-list] A stroll through Magnolia Park

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sun Jun 13 11:47:48 EDT 2021


Note: For obvious reasons, today's edition is best viewed with the
accompanying graphics. Here's a link to the blog version!



Today's links

* A stroll through Magnolia Park: Mask deniers, studio surplus, vintage
stores, and the re-emergence of Zap/Action Haunted Mansion kits.

* This day in history: 2001, 2011, 2016, 2020

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


🦶🏾 A stroll through Magnolia Park

One of the weird ironies of living in the US and having family, friends
and colleagues abroad is the vast, iniquitous gap in vaccine
availability based on where you live, and, more particularly, whether
you live in a poor country or a rich one.

Vaccine Apartheid is a global terror and horror, but that's not the
"ironic" part. That would be the American vaccine deniers who have
effectively killed the dream of herd immunity, and taken anti-vax from a
threat to public health to a threat to civilization itself.

The way this manifests is often quirky and personal - like the news that
some of my beloved cousins in Canada and the US have become anti-vax,
anti-mask conspiracists, losing themselves in the Qanon cult.

They're never far from my thoughts, but doubly so yesterday. You see,
here in LA, we have high levels of vaccination and a general lifting of
restrictions that - in contrast to the premature "re-openings" elsewhere
that led to lethal outbreaks - feel prudent and safe.

That's given my neighborhood - Burbank's Magnolia Park - a new vitality.
The centerpiece of the neighborhood is a couple miles' worth of
pedestrian friendly, retail, dominated by independent and idiosyncratic
retailers that draw people from all over the city.

Many of these did not survive the pandemic, but a heartening number of
them held on, and it's great to see crowds out there on a Saturday.
Yesterday, I rode my bike up to one end of the strip, outside Porto's,
the regionally famous Cuban sandwich shop, locked up and strolled.

Magnolia Park's retail is dominated by vintage clothes and memorabilia
stores, a legacy of our proximity to the studios (Disney, Warner and
Universal are all a few minutes' drive), which created demand for
wardrobe and set pieces, and a supply of post-shoot surplus items.

It's also got some great restaurants, like The New Deal. Unfortunately,
thanks to Burbank's antiquated blue laws, almost no one has a real
liquor license (wine and beer licenses are easy to get, but spirits
licenses are all but impossible).

The sole exception on the strip is...unfortunate. Tinhorn Flats (AKA
"Tinfoil Hats") is a fake saloon with a nice back garden that had one of
those rare liquor license, and paired it with mediocre bar food. The
best thing about it is its fantastic neon sign.

The worst thing about is that it's owned by mask-denying, covid-denying
far right Trumpian conspiracists who defied public health orders,
flooded their social media with culture war bullshit, and became a
rallying point for every Bircher, Klansman and Qanon in the Valley.

I do mean "rallying point." As Tinhorn Flats waged war - installing
generators after its power was cut, removing the boards over the door,
etc - it hosted weekly Sat gatherings of unmasked, unhinged
conspiracists waving American flags and signs decrying "Hollywood pedos."

They're still out there, every Saturday. If you're one of the many
people who comes to our great family owned grocery Handy Market (whose
neon is *better* than Tinhorn's!) for their weekly Saturday parking-lot
BBQ, you've seen 'em, screaming about frazzledrip and "small business."

They were there yesterday, between my stops at The Mystic Museum and
Halloween Town, two of our three goth superstores (the third being Dark
Delicacies) - Burbank will costume you, sell you an articulated bat
skeleton and fill your bookshelves.

Then you can tour the museum-grade replica of the horror section at a
1980s video store:


and buy merchandise from a wholly hypothetical slasher summer-camp:


It's such an odd juxtaposition, to be walking around a neighborhood that
is making a brave recovery from the lockdown, stopping in at these
improbable, scrappy shops, and then walk past these superspreaders
screaming in front of the chainlink-surrounded derelict bar.

But my first fully vaccinated Saturday stroll down Magnolia was rescued
by a discovery at Halloween Town: the discovery of Round2's "Haunted
Manor" model kits, cheeky remakes of the classic "Zap/Action" MPC
Haunted Mansion kits of the 1970s.


The original models were from the high-water mark of Haunted Mansion
merch, the era of the UV-paint-doped "changing portrait" cards, the
magnificent board-game, and Randotti skulls, models and plaques.


They ingeniously incorporated rubber bands into their interiors to
create pop-up effects, like a corpse that popped out a grave, causing
the poor grave-digger to spin about. Between the kinetics,
glow-in-the-dark plastic, and a good paint job, these were just fantastic.

Even if you never owned one of these kits, if you read comics in the 70s
and early 80s, you can't have missed their distinctive, brilliantly
conceived full-page comics ads. Small wonder that these kits sell for
stupid money in the secondary market.

The Take2 models (sold under the Polar Lights mark) are not quite
replicas of the MPC models (presumably they couldn't get a license), but
they're fabulous reinterpretations of the vintage designs and I love the
renaming (i.e. "Play It Again, Sam" becomes "Play It Again, Tom").

Alas, I couldn't find any sign of a Polar Lights remake of the MPC
Zap/Action Pirates of the Caribbean models (whose ads were even better!).


After all that, I confess I didn't buy the kits (though I may go back
today and rectify that). My daily work-load is so high that I'm lucky if
I can manage to carve out half an hour every couple days to read a book,
let alone put together and paint a model.

But of all the aspirational hobbies I'm wishing I was engaging in,
assembling these models tops the list. Building a "Grave Robber's
Demise" kit wouldn't quite be a "nature is healing" moment, but I know
it would give me joy.

In the meantime, I hope you get vaccinated, too - and if you're ever in
Burbank, be sure to patronize our wonderful indie stores (and don't miss
Iliad Bookshop, one of the great used bookstores of the region!).


🦶🏾 This day in history

#20yrsago Nerve interviews Samuel R Delany

#20yrsago Disney workers' union wins right to wear your own underwear
under full-body costumes

#10yrsago A dog with persistence-of-vision LEDs in her shirt writes my
novel Makers in the park at night

#10yrsago My head is a 3D scan

#5yrsago Microsoft will buy Linkedin for $26.2B

#5yrsago Rio: your quadrennial reminder that the Olympics colonize
host-states with Orwellian surveillance and human rights abuses

#5yrsago China’s online astroturf is mostly produced by government
workers as “extra duty”

#1yrago Facebook endorses Terra Nullius

#1yrago Secrets of a seventeen year old scraper

#1yrago Facebook Workplace can block employees from discussing


🦶🏾 Colophon

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. Friday's
progress: 264 words (5483 words total).

* A Little Brother short story about remote invigilation.  PLANNING

* A nonfiction book about excessive buyer-power in the arts, co-written
with Rebecca Giblin, "The Shakedown."  FINAL EDITS

* A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause."  FINISHED

* A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues."  FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: How To Destroy Surveillance Capitalism (Part 06)

Upcoming appearances:

Recent appearances:

* Darts and Lasers podcast:

* Nicole Sandler Show:

* Fireside Chat with Beatriz Busaniche (Rightscon)

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:
(signed copies:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

Upcoming books:

* The Shakedown, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics,
Beacon Press 2022

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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
Guy" DeVilla

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