• Brains of a Spider, the NEW blog, is updated weekly with fresh content. Follow the link.
Spider will produce these discharges at intervals as irregular as he is, whenever his medication wears off. He does actually believe several of the things he says, but some are purest mahooha, and he is utterly disinterested in discussing which ones. Each installment is absolutely guaranteed to contain enough pixels to produce a recognizable picture of him doing something that will astonish you, if you are a fan of nano-puzzle-solving. He likes having his work studied that closely.
24. The loudest Holsters
A guest review by John Varley
My friend Herb (aka John Varley), a produced screenwriter as well as novelist, has the delightful habit of writing short, superb movie reviews, both knowledgeable and thoughtful, and sending them to his friends. More than once I’ve thought of asking him if I could print a few here. But a largish part of the reason he takes the time to type them up is to attract you to HIS website, where he has assembled a very large number of acute and astute looks at movies, conveniently arranged for easy access. I especially like the career-overviews he offers of people like Kubrick and the Coens.
So rather than step in his rice bowl, I’ll content myself with giving you his twenty—https://varley.net/—and offering you a sample of his reviewing that can NOT be found at his own site, because it’s a review, not of movies, but of music.....which he is also qualified to assess, having spent a fair portion of his youth abusing a French horn.
Herewith then, as promised last time, the first-ever full length guest episode of THE BRAINS OF A SPIDER:
Where Tesla Meets Robinson....Near Callahan's Place
(all photos by John Moore)
In the first photo (#546), the buildings visible on the right, behind my brother-in-law John Moore's PT Cruiser, are all that remains today of Wardenclyffe, Nikola Tesla's laboratory in Shoreham NY, designed by Stanford White. All but invisible in the woods directly behind me is the huge circular concrete base of the 187-foot-tall tower Tesla raised for the purpose of giving free limitless electricity to the whole world--until his chief backer J.P. Morgan found out, and pulled the plug. (Perhaps one of the most apt uses ever of that particular metaphor.)
Notice the street sign in the foreground. I'm shown standing at the closest spot a civilian can now get to the surviving structures: the corner of Tesla St. and Robinson St. (See photo #551) No shit. It's within a block or two of Rte. 25-A--which is the only location I ever gave for the original Callahan's Place.
Some, including me, believe it was with that tower, designed by White's associate W.D. Crow (which, by the way, took the best efforts of three successive demolition firms to bring down; a shitload of dynamite was required) that Tesla accidentally caused the Tunguska Event of 1908, which leveled 2,150 square kilometers of Siberian wilderness. See my CALLAHAN'S KEY for details (and see photo #553 for a better shot of the tower's base). He also designed and produced the first Tesla Turbine there, and did the first mass production of Tesla Coils.
The site was subsequently purchased by the Agfa corporation, which polluted it with photographic chemicals so horrifically that it's now a Superfund Cleanup Site, which is why it's surrounded by high chain-link with serious barbed wire on top and camera surveillance. (see photo #559)
By a coincidence even more gasp-worthy to me than the name of the nearest intersection, the Wardenclyffe property is in the path of a huge power-line right of way corridor (seen in photo #562), which was constructed for the purpose of carrying the immense amounts of electricity that were expected to be generated by the Shoreham nuclear power plant only a few miles away--which never opened, thanks in part to the efforts of my anti-nuke friends David Crosby and Graham Nash. The reactor was fired up exactly once before it was abandoned, but never produced a single watt. TWO schemes to bring almost limitless power to the Long Island/NYC area, and both of them failed utterly, the first due to greed, the second to fear. A dispiriting thing to see and contemplate....relieved only slightly by the visible presence in that power-tower corridor of cell-phone towers (see photo #565), a technology that did not fail.
In photo # 579, taken from where John's car is seen parked in the first photo, you can see the back stairway on which I like to imagine Tesla used to catch a smoke between experiments.
There are several groups presently trying to have Wardenclyffe cleaned up and turned into a museum/historic site/tourist attraction--among them the Tesla Science Center mentioned at the bottom of this webpage. Please Google them all, and support all you find worthy. A science center and museum at Wardenclyffe would be a fitting memorial for the man who invented the modern world single-handed, and got screwed out of all the money and most of the credit.
As Wikipedia notes:
Designation of the structure as a National Landmark is awaiting completion of plant decommissioning activities by its present owner. [The Agfa Corporation--SR]
In 1976, an application was filed to nominate the main building for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It failed to get approval. The Tesla Wardenclyffe Project, Inc. was established in 1994 for the purpose of seeking placement of the Wardenclyffe laboratory-office building and the Tesla tower foundation on both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. Its mission is the preservation and adaptive reuse of Wardenclyffe, the century-old laboratory of electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla located in Shoreham, Long Island, New York. In October 1994 a second application for formal nomination was filed. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation conducted inspections and determined the facility meets New York State criteria for historic designation. A second visit was made on February 25, 2009. The site cannot be registered until it is nominated by a willing owner.
Anyway, that's how I spent (part of) my winter vacation. The first thing I intend to do when I get home in mid-January will be to record and post a new podcast for you. In the meantime, I hope you'll find these photos entertaining.