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Form and Function

I’ve always had a fondness for that retro-futuristic styling; possibly influenced by my spending a couple of formative years working at the Griffith Observatory. The old Griffith Observatory, of course, before the extensive remodel. That old building was wild. We, as guides, had special keys that would give us access to places the general public never dreamed of. There was a locked broom closet with a trapdoor in the floor that lead to a strange tunnel system and secret rooms, some accessible only by crawling through narrow passages.  The walls of the whole building were hollow, and we would scurry around in there after hours, like scientifically-inclined rats. The building went five floors down into the mountain, containing things like fallout shelters and mysterious unused machine rooms. And the whole building was designed as a Faraday cage. That bronze latticework over all the windows?  It carried through to similar latticework throughout the concrete walls, and it was all grounded, just so the Tesla coil display didn’t disrupt radio communication for miles. It was a building ripe for a future that never actually happened, and frankly would have been a great setting for a Tim Powers novel.

I visited it recently, and while I understood the city’s decision to rip out all those old mysterious unused underground rooms and replace them with actual income-producing modern displays and snack bars, I did mourn their musty, spiderweb-cloaked loss. But they have, in a small way, been preserved on these pages.  For someone who was only going by my descriptions, Max did an amazing job of recapturing what I remembered of those shadowy subterranean chambers and their art-deco styling and bulky machinery; and it is now reborn in the Strike Gate.

And if Cicerone perhaps bears a certain resemblance to Dr. E.C. Krupp, who was in charge of the place while I was there and still is — well, that’s likely just an inspired coincidence.  But it works for me.

Bob out.