At Starbucks; there’s no other option. Just took a sip of the “Pike Place Roast.” Gawd in der himmel, it’s horrible. It’s like they boiled a bicycle tire to make this stuff. I could make a better cup of coffee simply by not making a cup of coffee.

This week is turning out as long as the last one, and I suppose that’s a good thing; nice to feel life coast and roll instead of speeding heedlessly along. Today I went downtown to shoot photos for – mostly to see what it was like on the first good warm spring day in the city. It was as I expected: some office workers walking around, some people waiting for a bus, a smattering of bummage, and cops on their spiffy new patrol trikes. If you didn’t see it on, here’s 10 exciting seconds of the units in action.

They drive right up on the sidewalk, which is handy for dealing with miscreants. I walked past one goggling inebriate who woke from his slumber on a bench, looked up and saw this cyborg centaur standing over him, telling him to move along. He was a bit unnerved, but it didn’t take long for him to find his voice and start arguing.

The annual neighborhood garage sale
was Saturday, and my wife told me about a place with matchbooks and old magazines. Sigh. Can’t say no. Got a few matchbooks, passed on the mags – all Time magazines from the late 60s and early 70s, a remarkably ugly period for newsmagazines (the covers were usually ersatz “pop” art or unremarkable photographs, and the ads are generally horrible) – and decided, for reasons familiar to anyone who collects small pieces of paper, that I had to have a bag of old airline tags. With the exception of Delta, all the airlines are gone, and most had been gone for some time. Great art this is not. Note how Republic used that classic 70s font found in the opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore show:

But. I’d like to know why those ugly white bar-code tags couldn’t be more attractive. No one collects those. Oh, I have a few here and there; when I put all the accumulated flotsam and ephemera from a trip into a plastic bag and store it in the archives for the year (doesn’t everyone?) (I am not a well man, I know) I’ll toss in the tag. After trimming most of it off. If they were more attractive, people would collect them, mount them, put them in binders, put the binders away, die, and have the collection sold to an antique store for a very low price, because there’s no agreement on what they’re worth. And if no one knows what they’re worth, they’re probably not worth much. You don’t hear the morning business news announcer say that gold is up a dollar and collections of self-adhesive bar-coded baggage routing strips are drifting down in heavy trading.

Speaking of which: over the last few weeks I’ve heard Dow reports that describe the day’s trading in low double digits. It’s almost a relief. The other day the market was up Seven, I think, and it felt like ancient history.

I’m at the Galleria, which is an older high-end shopping center south of Southdale. As the latter’s fortunes have fallen recently, so the Galleria’s have risen. I used to come here with (G)Nat a lot; we would go to the toy store, and she would toddle over to the Groovy Girls section, start playing, and fill her diaper. Every time. She loves that story.  I used to visit Restoration Hardware before they decided they wanted to be the J. Peterman of paint. They no longer carry interesting objet d’art and small items for the home, but sofas and beds. Since neither are impulse purchase items, I stopped dropping by. Barnes and Noble is here, but I don’t frequent bookstores as I used to do; I browse Amazon.

Granted, I miss the rich human interaction of a bookstore (“Do you have a Barnes and Noble Member Card?” “No”) but it might be for the better; at B&N I end up buying too many large discounted picture books, or arguing with the little descriptive cards in the STAFF’S PICKS section. Daughter of a witch and a Harvard-educated spumoni salesman, she grew up surrounded by magic, laughter and sixteen monkeys she called her siblings. A delightful memoir of life in New Guinea, “Tongue-Kissing the Manatees” has been hailed as “more adept at concealing its obvious fictional nature” by the New York Times, and was actually withdrawn by its publisher the same day it was published.”

LATER: Here's a category of books I hadn't considered writing.



I don't know about this. A friend passed along the trailer for The Spirit. If anyone can do it right, it's Frank Miller. But right away I winced: the phone should ring with the commanding sound of a 40s bell, not burble-beeple.

I have my hopes, and will reserve judgment. But the Spirit is not a hard-boiled brooding muser; he's not a rooftop parkeor acrobat; he's a cheerful can-do slab of Yankee brawn given to whistling while he punches out the henchmen and underlings. He's not dark. He lives in a cemetary, granted, but only because he's legally dead and needs a place to hide out. He was comfortable in the shadows and the mean streets and dark alleys, but he was also the sort of guy you'd find hanging out in the Police Commissioner's office, feet on the desk, talking about things. I wonder who plays Dolan. I have my fears it'll be Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Checking . . . Jeez, Samuel L. Jackson as the Octopus? No one should play the Octopus. At least they have all the femme fatales - one-shots like Plaster of Paris, who was a love-crazed Monmartre stabby-dame, plus Sand Seri and Silken Floss (heh: I almost IMd my friend that I expected Scarlett Johansson to play Ellen Dolan, but she plays Silken) . . . well, they got Dolan right.

He's also not a cat guy, as far as I know. At least they didn't do this in the 80s; they would have cast Gary Coleman as Ebony White.

Correction: they did do it in the 80s. There's a 1987 TV movie based on the Spirit, with - of all people - Nana Visitor as Ellen Dolan, and Sam Jones as the Spirit. And they included Ebony White, except he was played by a kid named Bumper Robinson. Who would later play a teenaged Jem'Hadar in Deep Space Nine - which starred Nana Visitor! Okay, we're spiralling down the nerd-hole here. Pull up! Pull up!

Off to write my weekly XM radio / Pajamas Media audio commentary; something about Michelle Obama, I think. Downbeat, resentful, insular, tone-deaf and peevish: when everyone's tired of Rev. Wright, and the Bill Ayers issue has surged and retreated, she might end up the last liability.

New Minneapolis - it's the Plymouth Building. See you at!