Retrofuturistic Building in Seattle




Following up on my Googie post, Thor Johnson sent the above photos and this description:

There is a googie style building that until about a month ago was a Denny's here in Seattle. It is a stylized Viking longhouse, a tribute to this neighborhood's heavy Scandinavian population. It was another restaurant in the old days before it became a Denny's, and it was a Denny's for about 30 years. A developer bought the building this past summer and is going to tear it down to build hi-rise condos. The googie Denny's did not go out of business, it did gangbusters business. I never went to the Denny's (don't like the food) but I am sad to see the building go.

My preservationist instincts are limited, and I'm not sure all buildings need to be saved, as long as they're reasonably well documented. Or that every architectural anomaly needs to be preserved. The curves on this one are amazing, though. I suppose in a world not ruled by developer sharks, it could be saved by a benevolent state for a town meeting hall, returning it to its original function. Or a long hut to raise young warriors.

"Krypt 112-115"


"Krypt 112-115" [mp3 removed -- a revised version of this track is on Bandcamp]

Have been mucking about in recent songs ("Frienemies," "Cribtonomicon," "I Wish I Didn't," "Salsa Science," "Gro-Rabbit 2," "Dark Materials") with the Reaktor instrument Krypt, trying to learn what can be personalized in the wilds of preset-land. Why Krypt out of the hundreds of factory and user-built synths assembled with Reaktor modules? Maybe it's the techno-Gothic typeface. But seriously, it was a personal challenge. The Reaktor library has all these fascinating looking synth/ROMpler/sequencer combos but I have found them mostly hard to use--so much tedious micro-adjusting of tiny dials and sliders, and forget trying to assign controllers. So I picked one that seemed fairly incomprehensible and tried to learn it and at the same time make songs that are "mine."

Composing with it is like wrestling a squid. The designers built so much randomization in it that it seems to morph as you write. Touch the "wrong" button and you can lose a couple of hours of sounds.

But if you resist the urge to use all the features at once, and patiently write sequences track by track you can get some fairly seductive "raw material" (to my ear anyway). I've been saving the sequences I write as audio files and adding other instruments later in Cubase, so the work product isn't all Krypt. The virtual groovebox is just providing a foundation rhythm track to build on top of, as well as some squiggly, mutated textures of a "modern digital synthesis" nature. (Specifically, the instrument is based on an interesting mix of "grain cloud" tech and reverb, where a hundred samples are minced down to sound-grains and fluidly reassembled as everything from echo-y whooshes to sharp bell-like peals.)

This particular piece is "all Krypt" in the sense that the "steel drum" melody is played in a ROMpler with factory samples made with...Krypt. I especially like the whispery hats in the break, which slightly, arbitrarily change pitch in mid-run.

Two sides of the street: past future, future past

One side of the street (Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ). The Sleep Cheap store has a "googie" facade, a future-looking architecture style of the 5os and 60s. The Valu-Plus logo is a study in minimalism, balloony serif font notwithstanding.

sleep cheap


On the other side of the street, stores are being converted to the Main Street America look as part of a civic makeover. In the future the googie will be gone and the whole block will look like the past. The only thing "tech" about these signs is Nail Tek.

main street 1

main street 2

Update, March 2011: The blue tile on the sleepcheap facade was removed not long after this post. The metallic swimming pool outline is still there, surrounded by a vague yellowish sandstone texture. Some of the above photos were being hotlinked as some kind of stock photography so I changed the filenames.