So it’s a night without the daughter. Put her on the bus this morning for another camp, this being a real camp with cookouts and s’mores and ghost stories told with flashlights under your chin. She loves it, and was keen to go – but spent the minutes before the bus pulled away drawing imaginary tear-streaks down her cheeks with her fingers, a parody of actual emotion. when we showed up at 1 PM I chatted with the counselors, and introduced her:

“This is Natalie. She has severe anger issues.”


She punched me, but it was a friendly punch. Later I was informed that she had not given me permission to videotape the departure of the bus.

“What are you, the police?”

“Huh? No.”

“Anyway, it’s not videotape. There’s no tape in this machine.”

“Stop being so LITERAL you know what I mean.”

Then she ran for the bus, stopped, came back, and gave me a hug. I watched the bus go with none of the emotions I’d felt the first time she went off for a few days at camp. The bonds never loosen, but they don’t seem as tight. If that makes sense.

Since there was no family dinner, I nuked a box of butter-chicken, left a note for my wife about the status of the dog (Fed, no Frosty Paws) and headed off to do an errand. There’s a sprayer in the laundry room sink that leaks a little. About which I could not care less. But it must be fixed, I guess. Last week I bought a new nozzle; last night I discovered the old nozzle is wedded forever to the supply line, so I have to replace the entire thing. Picked up the relevant part at Home Depot, and was idly strolling around wondering if I should get Hooks, or Lightbulbs -

“Excuse me, sir,” said a young man. “Are you thinking about kitchen remodeling?”

“Not at the moment, but – well, yes. Yes I am.” As it happens we are planning a kitchen refit, mostly paint but perhaps more, because my wife has come to feel an inexpressible animus towards the general scheme of things, specifically, the hue of the countertops.

“Were you thinking about new cupboards?”

“You’re a mind-reader,” I said. “I want to replace the top of the cupboard doors with opaque glass and install some lights.”

So I’m pretty much this guy’s target market. Can’t imagine there were a lot of men walking around Home Depot at 6 PM thinking about cupboard door replacement.

“We’re offering a free in-home consultation,” he said. “Would you be interested?”

I said that I was.

“Are you married?” I said that I was. “Would your wife like to be involved in this?”

“Are you married?” I asked. He nodded. “Then you know the answer to that question.”

He said he heard that, all right, even though he was out of the country half the year, but yes, marriage. I asked him what took him out of the country – Air Force. National Guard, I suspect. He said he’d been deployed half the year “since the war started.” Postal division. Just came back from Iraq, but mostly Pacific and a stint in Rammstein. Smart guy, personable, high-and-tight haircut, tats, pipes, easy genial confidence. He laid out what the company could do, then said he’d set up an appointment, and I would have to talk to an operator to confirm that I was doing this of my own free will.

Seriously. So I told the operator, Shaniqua in Somewheresville USA, that he had given me a fast line of sales talk and I just wanted to buy a sprayer hose and go home. She laughed and said yeah, he’s slick. So they’re coming by next week.

When the phone conversation was over I told Dario – that was his name – that we’d been talking about the kitchen overhaul, and if I came back with a brochure and an appointment I would be looking at some serious husband points for taking the initiative.

“I like your attitude,” he said. We shook hands and I thanked him for his service, paid for my hose, and left.

It had been a punishingly hot day, too hot to rain; now the storm was coming in, and the sky was full of popcorn clouds, bruised, heavy. Soupy air. Summer and then some: I love this. I didn’t want to go home just yet, so I stopped at Best Buy to pick up some headphones for a new series of video podcasts – but we’ll get to that later in the week. Had a nice chat with a camcorder salesman about things, possibly because I just wanted to talk video with someone, and he seemed to enjoy talking to someone who didn’t say “is there a button that just puts it on YouTube?” Went to the register; was behind a woman buying a copy of the Percy Jackson movie. Was she a RewardZone member?

“No. And I’m not interested,” she said.

I understand that. However, I am a Reward Zone member, and get five-buck coupons now and then. For that matter I have a card for Fry’s, which is a grocery store in Arizona, and I use it once a year. Anyway: bought my headphones, walked back out into the soup, and drove home. Chatted with my wife about the Mortgage Refi, and confirmed our plans to buy down the mortgage. It’s a tremendous act of faith, the housing market being what it is, but Jasperwood is unique. The house is good, and the quantity of land for a city property is un-fargin’-real. Then I worked out and showered and put in a few hours on this, and / or that. Mostly scanned and OCR’d the “Falling Up the Stairs” book. Aiming for that sweet, sweet Christmas Kindle market.

I said I bought some odd things at the postcard / ephemera show. I did. Would someone please, please explain this cigar band.

Please. (Larger version here.) I cannot decipher this, except to wonder whether the statue is some sort of Guernica reference, and “Washington” refers to an anti-fascist brigade. Ideas?

This was something I had to have. I paid seven dollars for it. A luggage sticker from 1939, the year of the World’s Fairs.

Was the world was more interesting when it was bigger?

Later today: well, tumblr’s loaded up with five posts, if the automatic queue feature works. We’ve gotcher Out of Context Ad challenge around noon, and PopCrush all day – including the noontime video. Watch it! The more hits, the happier my overlords are. Black and White World: Summer SciFi will post around seven PM or so. Hell YEAH I’ll have done my part for the internet this Wednesday. ;)

Have a grand day; see you soon.


68 Responses to The Mysterious Cigar Band

  1. hpoulter says:

    Great find on the scuplture.

    So we have the destruction of Rotterdam by the Nazis in 1940, a CSA battle flag with what looks like too many stars, a USA Flag with a too-short star field and what lookss like too few stars, the Great Seal of the United States (the olive branch looks funny), and the word “Washington”.

    I think this is the key to the whole Bilderburg-Illuminati-CFR-Trilateral-Xenu conspiracy!

  2. GardenStater says:

    The solution is simple:

    The cigars are custom-made for members of the Bohemian Grove.

  3. Pieter says:

    You’re all getting close. The Washington Sigaren company is in Baarn, Holland. They issued a series of historic cigar bands over the years. This series ended in the sixties. One was “Generals of the Civil War” and is the first example I could find of the U.S. and Confederate flags being used. They later had a number of series called the “History of the 20th Century”. Series 15 number 29(of 90) was the bombing of Rotterdam. The same series, #43, was of Rommel, go figure. The Eagle appears on all of the History series but not the Confederate flag, which is sometimes replaced with the Statue of Liberty. God, I love the internet. So much info, so little time.

  4. “Maybe the cigar band celebrates a mashup of the Civil War and “War of the Worlds”. The evil tripod stands over the ruins of Washington, D.C., about to get his comeuppance from Johnny Reb and the Yankee Doodle. Grant and Lee join forces at Appomattox and march North when they get word of the Martian invasion. “No army of three-legged freaks is gonna violate the Monroe Doctrine!”

    You just gave away the plot of the latest Harry Turtledove novel. *G*

  5. swschrad says:

    if the Germans had won, we’d know this answer.

  6. Baby M says:

    Come to think of it, “Mysterious Cigar Band” would be a great name for an indie alt-rock recording act.

  7. I have two theories. My best guess is simply that the printer pulled the wrong clip-art.

    The other guess is, that there is a painting in Washington of ‘The Destroyed City,’ and that the band shows an excerpt therefrom, as some sort of commemorative series. Like “Great Cities and Their Art: Here’s Washington’s Sample.”

    GardenStater, that’s an even better guess, but when you say “the solution is simple,” are you being ironic?

  8. Hmmm, looks like Pieter got it. I once had a collection of 50 cigars bearing identical portraits of King Edward VII of England. But it burned, one at a time. I shoulda made an insurance claim.

  9. swschrad says:

    @Wagner von: let me guess, the bands were mounted on combustible backing. contributory negligence, no check forrrrr YOU.

    but a free matchbook from Yaw’l Snakes along with a complimentary booklet on insurance discounts if you put your oil, gas, kerosene, paint thinner, and propane under an umbrella policy.

  10. GardenStater says:

    @Wagner von Drupen-Sachs:”GardenStater, that’s an even better guess, but when you say “the solution is simple,” are you being ironic?”

    That’s privileged information….

  11. Patty D. says:
    July 28, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Yard Crashers was at a Menards in the Chicago area in this Saturday’s episode.

    Sorry – but the shows are filmed about a year in advance…

    The production company for DIY is based in Sacramento ( Hassan does two shows for them, Yard Crashers & and a Landscaping “competition” show. They have two other shows on DIY with different hosts “House Crashers” and another coming out soon. All of them filmed in Sacramento. They added Chicago last year for a small run. Last I heard from my friend, they are back filming in Sacramento.

    So I shall continue my stakeout of the Folsom CA OSH store…..

  12. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – one guy actually got a court to rule in favor of making his insurance company pay on his claim of individually smoked out cigars. they turned around and had him arrested for arson.

  13. swschrad says:

    LOL shesnailie.

  14. hpoulter says:

    @Pieter: I stand in awe of your Googlemeistership (Googlebekwaamheid?). I hope Lileks reads the answer.

  15. Patty D. says:

    Juanito, I figured they had long left the region. Still – so close. Oh so close to a backyard paradise. And minions doing at least part of the work we generally have to do all on our own in a fraction of the time it would take us to do so. It breaks the heart.

  16. MJBirch says:


    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  17. rivlax says:

    Funny how things happen in life. I stumbled on 10 years ago and have been reading it ever since, and I just heard my daughter on the radio with James from 3,000 miles away. Ah, life, and technology.

  18. Harriet says:

    If you have time (ha)you might want to check out Five 1951, on Fascinating, some glaring flaws but all in all quite well done I thought

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