It's another Taste Test from the Teaberry Gum People, reminding you that taste is not a subjective matter. Be careful! Taste can be empiracally proven.

So: which one is preferred by people with good taste? Answer at the bottom.



As you’ve probably gathered by now over the course of the years, I live a dull, small life punctuated by peculiar interjections of abnormal experiences, all of which quickly recede. I work at home half the day, knocking about on my own, and then I’m sitting in my studio doing a video interview for a major newspaper, and then I’m getting greens at the salad bar at the grocery store, and then occasionally: cruise ship speaker! In Europe! I spend so much time on my own, doing things in my own peculiar schedule, that I’m always surprised to see my face in the paper over my column, because as far as I’m concerned I write things and hit SEND and out they go and the dishwasher needs emptying.

Last week I had set up an interview with my friend Manny, who is the principal horn for the Minnesota Orchestra. I met him years ago by a roundabout situation that makes total sense for me: I posed a trivia question on the Diner, my late-night radio show about a composer who was known for 9 symphonies but actually wrote 11. Yes, that’s the key to a big audience when you’re leading into Art Bell at midnight. But the light when on and I took the call, and he said “Bruckner,” which of course is correct, since he numbered his first two symphonies 0 and 00. Later Manny would invite me to MC the Minnesota Youth Symphony, which led to standing onstage in the Symphony Hall, knees knocking, addressing the largest audience before which I’d ever appeared. That was, oh, 16 years ago. I got a clock for my tenth anniversary. I’ll be starting the next season next month. I used to practice my remarks over and over again. Now I just go out on stage and chat, because I realized long ago that the last thing anyone has come to hear is Me; the shorter and sharper the better.

My first time on stage I was so nervous I called Manny “Maury,” and there’s not a time I introduce him - and there have been, oh, 50 times since - I don’t think DON’T SAY MAURY.

Anyway, the studio was set up, and I was in my talk-show-host suit with an autumnal palette in the shirt and tie, and alas: he didn’t show. The orchestra had whipped together a concert to say goodbye to their conductor, who was leaving because the orchestra hasn’t been playing for a year. Labor difficulties. Towering idiocy. I figured he was busy; things came up, like nailing down “Firebird” for the umpteenth time. (That’s one of the pieces they played, and it always makes me think of a conversation with an old friend that will probably strike you as the most pretentious thing uttered here thus far, but it was about the time signature at the end of the piece. I insisted it was 7/4, and she said it wasn’t. Mind you, I’d played the piece in high school -

back in the days when an orchestra in a Fargo High School played the Firebird -

and I knew it was 7/4. Her belief was unshakable. In retrospect, this was a foretaste of the arguments that would end the friendship a quarter-century later.)

So Friday I finish the work blog at home, as usual, then went to the office, thinking about what I might write for a column. No ideas. Feet up on the desk, laptop, clicking for inspiration. Phone rings. Front desk. “Manny is here for the 1:30 shoot.”

We had a miscommunication about the date. Ran to the video department, got Shari the Indispensible to go down to the studio and set up, ran downstairs, got Manny. Mind you, I’m wearing jeans, a loose sweatshirt, battered Converses. Not mufti. But ah, to hell with it. We did the interview with ease - Manny is a talk-show host’s dream, voluble and smart and funny. At the end he gets out his golden horn and plays the off-stage horn solo from “Pines of Rome.”

So my contribution to the newspaper was a long blog entry about tech and pop culture, a column about new urbanism and a downtown park, and a video interview with one of the best trumpet players in the country. Best Friday ever.

On the way out we were talking about the upcoming MYS concert I’ll be MCing; they’re doing “The Planets.” I mention that I was at a funeral a few weeks ago where the middle theme from “Jupiter” was played, and Manny stops.

“That was me,” he says.


He pats the case that holds his flugelhorn. “That was me.”

He didn’t know John but he did things for the Basilica, and they asked him to play. So in this great big city it came to pass that one fellow I knew blew the aching farewell for another fellow I know, and neither knew the other, but I think they would have liked to meet one another. You could say that they finally did.

Later that weekend, I get an email from Peg Lynch’s daughter. She read the Bleat where I noted I blurbed a book that also contained blurbage from Harry Shearer. As it happened she met Mr. Shearer at a dinner a fortnight ago IN LONDON, and he is a great fan of Peg Lynch. Keen to explore the matter, I emailed a friend who’s a good friend of Harry Shearer to get his email, and sent off a note referring to a podcast I’d done with Harry and our mutual friend a year or so ago.

Of course my friend in London has no idea I hosted a show with Mr. Shearer as the guest from my studio, and that the venue where the podcast appeared will be hosting the return of the Diner this month, or that the Diner was where I first met Manny.

Everything’s connected. Goal for the rest of the year: get Harry Shearer in a booth at the Diner.

Stay tuned.


Yesterday, I was speculating about the location of this:



Helpful googling by Bleatnik Jim D.:

Judging from this 1940 San Francisco phone directory on page 826, Clyde S. Mahoney dealt used cars at 1714 and 1750 Market Street.  Looking at San Francisco streetcar maps that would make sense as the overhead electric streetcars seem to run on Market Street, and you can see a streetcar behind the actor in your still photo.

He's right! Let's roll back the reel a few seconds.




Built in 1914, it's part of a Historic District. This does not exactly narrow it down in SF, of course.

Actually, it's the Market Street Masonry Discontiguous District.



For a while the Borden ads centered entirely around Hemo.

It was fortified . . . something, probably milky. The effects, however, were short-lived; in ad after ad, Elmer is bushed, worn to a frazzle, asleep, grumpy - only to be revived in short order with Hemo. But memory loss seems to be one of the side-effects, since he’s always exhausted the next week, slumped in a chair, scowling, unable to join the festivities until Elsie slips him another can of Hemo.


The second I saw this guy I knew which comic he drew.

He looks like his main character, Jiggs. Sort of.

“Bringing up Father” was a popular strip:

The humor centers on an immigrant Irishman named Jiggs, a former hod carrier who came into wealth in the United States by winning a million dollars in a sweepstakes. Now nouveau-riche, he still longs to revert to his former working class habits and lifestyle. His constant attempts to sneak out with his old gang of boisterous, rough-edged pals, eat corned beef and cabbage (known regionally as "Jiggs dinner") and hang out at the local tavern were often thwarted by his formidable, social-climbing (and rolling-pin wielding) harridan of a wife, Maggie, their lovely young daughter, Nora and infrequently their lazy son Ethelbert later known as just Sonny.

I encountered the strip in high school as I entered the phase of comic nerdery that involves Historical Research. From the examples it seemed as if every strip concluded with Jiggs running from a fusillade of rolling-pins. The fact that people called it “Maggie and Jiggs” isn’t surprising; my dad called “Blondie” “Dagwood.”

The strip ran until 2000, which I find astonishing. Can’t think of any new strip running in 2087, but you never know.

You can still order a Jiggs Dinner, if you're in Canada.



Why did they advertise trains? Were the existence of these vehicles still a surprise to most people? Did anyone refuse to take a train because it didn’t have Pullman coaches? It’s not like brand loyalty gets you anywhere when there’s only one train that comes through town.

But let’s check the details. A church in the background, sanctifying the carnality implied by the picture:

How old is sonny boy? Mid 20s? That would make Mother in her fifties, and she’d undergone the great stodgification that beset women in those days. She grew thick, her hair went bone white, and was gathered into a bun; she assumed the clothing and attitudes of someone who goes to lunches at the club, and talks about Generaniums, and China. (Everyone was reading that Pearl Buck book!)

Meanwhile, to the left, a fad-fashion pops up and sticks out:


White-frame sunglasses.


I don’t think they’d get away with this one today.

The phrase “Beard of the Prophet” meant something; it’s like a Catholic saying “By the knucklebones of St. Ignatius!” Which they don’t. The Beard was saved and placed on display, this wikipedia entry says; the barber who did the job was named Salman, the first Persian convert to Islam. Of course that’s where Salman Rushdie’s name came from; in his culture, people would know what it meant. It’s like knowing a guy whose name is literally “Jesus’ Hairstylist Peterson.” We continue:

Not only is Prince Ali smitten, he’s ready to drink alcohol.


“The next morning” implies they slept together, but that’s just White Rock’s way of saying the hangover’s less punishing.

Ah, the innocent years of cavalier incomprehension.

Now, the solution.

What's in the background, though? Was she a morgue attendent when Jayne Mansfield came in?

Work blog around 12:30 and Tumblr as well. See you around.





blog comments powered by Disqus