Took a walk downtown today to look at the cranes. So many cranes. An ugly old parking ramp has been clawed into rubble; a new office building will rise on the spot. Next to it, they will build - somehow - a 30 story apartment building of regrettable banality, but it’s something. There’s another housing unit going up by the train station, and of course a forest of cranes are working around my office, building a large new office / housing complex and the stadium. Quite impressive.


Annnd I think: well, time for a crash. Been a while! No one’s announced the Tallest Tower downtown, which might keep us from having the bottom fall out of everything. At least the bottom never literally falls out, which would make cities act like SimCity: when the economy turns bad, shiny tall buildings are replaced by smaller, dingier structures.

Dollar Shave Club guarantees no father will ever buy their products:

Because DADZ R TEH DUMb, I guess. You know, if Dad’s old enough where things like email phishing schemes confuse him, he’s probably old enough to have humped through a jungle or a frozen hill or a beach where people were saying “Yankee Go Home” by firing automatic weapons from the cliff, so slack might be extended. Also, he’s probably old enough to know how he wants to shave.

Oh, there are many.

It reminded me of the #worldstoughestjob video - you know, the one that went viral! So many feels! A fellow was skyping job applicants, listing all these preposterous requirements and obligations, and of course no one wanted to do that; it was insane. Turned out he was interviewing them to be a parent a mom. Now, statistically speaking, that’s probably accurate. But it’s not inclusive, is it? No. But that’s okay.

No, I’m not bitter or angry or want to send letterss, because I don’t look to the general culture for validation. If ads contain images or messages that do not pertain specifically to my life, well, I know I’ll make it, somehow. The ad was made by American Greetings, though, and it made me wonder what they did for Father’s Day . . . Googling . . .

Jeezum Crow. Jumped-up Judas on a crutch. Dads! They try to cook and set the house on fire.

Well, it turns out they also did a #worldstoughestjob Dad version. Which is quite different.

It’s telling that it all comes to being there, as if that’s an accomplishment, and not a given. My favorite part is where the daughter says something that requires a sensible response, and the dad looks at his script, then looks at the wife’s script. Duh. You got a line? I don't have a clue.

The ads tell you that fatherhood - indeed, any sort of domestic entanglement - turns you into a dullard, a dope, a neutered clueless dork who can be reduced down to oversized tools and stammering befuddlement at Important Things. Why would any man want to be that? What rewards does the culture offer in return?



The weekly stroll down someplace I've never been, judging them unfairly.


An interesting downtown; once a major retail center, but not so much anymore. As is so often the case. A history page says "The number of businesses in the town reached a high of 290 in 1940, dropped to 146 immediately after World War II, and climbed back to a postwar high of 210 in 1950. In 1990 the town had ninety businesses."

Nowadays, lots of this:

Whatever was going on once, isn't. Next door, the usual plague of boarded-up windows, stripped cornice, inordinate awning:

Zoom in, and you see one of the mainstays of old downtowns, something rarely removed. It's almost as if people think that would be disrepectful.

Can we find out what it was? Of course.

THE HUB - Dry Goods, Gent's Furnishings - In fact everything you can find in a first class store at prices to suit the pocket. We particularly request the Veterans to call and see us.

Walter Kent, Proprietor.



The big proud bank building. Farmers & Merchants, 1909. Looks as if it's been renovated . . .

But the ground floor, alas, has been stuffed full of shingles in the back. Maybe it's the local shingles warehouse.

Another sad example of a blinded second floor and structural eczema.

Try to read this one: one building? Two, built in stages? The right half stripped of its cornice, its rusticated stone covered up except for the edge; the first-story windows above the awning boarded up on the left side. Conjoined twins that lived different lives.


C'mon, no one's fooled; knock it down:

Add the tiny staircase and the brick cornice and you have a big case of what-the-hell-how-come-and-why? here. Well, let's zoom out a bit.

View Larger Map

Compare & contrast, as they say:


Below: the classic small-town storefront newspaper: stroll by, see the journalists inside pounding away on manual typewriters, smoking, yelling into the phone.

There were three papers in town, once. The Ledger survives - and has a Facebook page.

The side streets haven't been shot in high-def; the view of the theater is old and desolate. (Note: in the week since I snapped these, they've updated to HD. Odd.)

And inaccurate, as well: the theater has been renovated and is open for business. Take a look!

A charming piece of neon; I'm surprised Google didn't blur the face.

Ballinger made a bid for the county seat, and got it away from Runnels City.

Below, a marker commemorating what was once Runnels City. No trace remains.

Have a tour:


I was going to start the Fargo site this week, but pulled it for some tweaking. As a desperate last-hour replacement there's the start of the Downtown East site, which will detail the construction of the largest downtown development in decades. As far as I know, no one else is doing this, and no one has my ringside seat from my office view. So. Expect some inconsistencies and a sundered link here and there; it's late. But it's up! See you around.



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