This is not a summer like others. I’m pale and haven’t worn shorts much. I know those are two infinitesimal criteria on which to base a season, but it’s just been odd. Monday was perfect, but not for reasons you’d say if someone said “June day.” Pounding, lashing storms in the morning. Troubled skies for a few hours, the clouds rushing off to the next job, then a bright patch of sun that poured on the ground like (oh, they’re all cliches. Like gold! Like nectar! Like someone had flushed the commode in Olympus after Zeus saw a man about a horse!) and made for a fine interval to walk the dog. Rain hastened us back to the house, fat warm drops, then the wind and the fronts changed the clouds into furrows that rolled past overhead.

I don’t suppose any of that makes sense to someone who works in an office tower in Manhattan below the 30th floor. There, as Fran Leibowitz said, weather is what you experience between the front door and the cab.

Just got back from returning the box of glasses I didn’t buy. Couldn’t put it in a letter bin, because of terrorism. Had to walk it to the post office, where they taped it up for free and took it off my hands. Whenever I’m at this post office I feel as if I’m in the telegraph office, and there’s an old man in the back wearing a messenger cap, dozing, jerking awake with the occasional snort. Now and then he wakes up all the way.

Got one to go out?

No, Granpap.

Thought I heard the bell.

It was just the TV.

Then I walked around getting ideas for a new project, which I should now write down before I forget them.

On the way out of the office:


LATER: my wife asked if I had any stamps. No, I said. And how about that, I was at the Post Office. And you didn’t buy stamps? No; never occurred to me. Stamps come out of the cash machine. When I put in my card it asks if I want stamps, because the number on the magnetic stripe summons up recent actions, and the bank knows I am a stamp-buyin’ kind of guy from time to time. Not often, mind you, but a man likes to mosey up to the machine and get himself some Postal Enabling Squares when the mood strikes him.

She was amazed I didn’t buy stamps. Well, didn’t send a certified letter, either. Besides, you have a book of stamps right there. Yes, but those are for emergencies. Perhaps if you wake up and it’s December and the cards have to go out, but really, stamps? I have moved beyond them. Everything’s on auto-pay. If something needs a stamp it’s something that can wait.

Makes me realize that Stamps were always something that was two steps beyond the ease with which everything else was purchased. At best you could get them at the grocery store, if they were inclined to offer them. Otherwise, the Post Office, of which there as One - a grave place unchanged since the 50s, if not before. Cold and remote, full of Federal Importance. My dad had a box at the downtown Post Office, and I thought it was impressive: the little frosted glass window, the gold-leaf numbers, the banks and banks of slots, some of which were huge. Maybe Dad would get one of those as the business grew! Old wooden tables with pens on chains. Classical calm, now faded and worn.

Old Glory on a pole outside, of course. This was the North, and if there was another flag it was the North Dakota emblem. I never saw Confederate flags until I worked down south, and don’t recall many. More bumperstickers than flags. Signs in the back of trucks. When I worked in DC I learned what it meant to some Southerners, and while I understood the rationales, the historical importance shorn of the reasons and essence of the Confederacy, it seemed . . . odd to be able to divorce the emblem from the essence of the failed state behind it. I mean: you can’t not know how that appears to some. For good reason.

As I may have mentioned, my great-grandfather fought for the North; laid wounded at Gettysburg for days. Got up and went far to North Dakota to stake out land and farm, and was a grey-haired emeritus at the GAR meetings. He threw his lot in with the Union, and got shot for his troubles. The society that would have arisen from the triumph of that standard would have been - well, Columbia.

(From Bioshock Infinite, in the clubroom of a society devoted to the veneration of John Wilkes Booth.)

That said, I do not look forward to retconning recent history so the things that were an accepted part of the culture in, say, 1975 become unspeakables today, and everyone from that time - the quick and the dead - is suddenly held account to the brilliant enlightenment of This Very Moment. For some people the only usefulness of the past is to fashion a cudgel with which to beat people who are not singing from the same page of the hymnal, freshly published this morning.

Did you get the new pages? No? Then stay quiet until you can pick up the melody. Then join in with as much conviction as you can produce.





Back to the back to the Fifties, where we see some cars fit for low men in long coats:


The style exceeded the technology. It wasn't all perfect smooth machinery with ray guns and televisors and rocket ships. Oh, we would, eventually, but until then, sleek anticipation of this marvelous future.


Not the original color, I think:

And I don't care a bit.




Demoted, but still in the game:

  Where are the twins? Were they taken away? When did Elmer start wearing pants? Why is the little girl trying to conceal a hot dog in her mouth?


The world may never know.


This being the season of growing and life, let's look at some handy things to bring forth some life, and kill some others. Always loved this name, but these packages are marvellous. Look at that idealized house and trees:

The streets are strewn with giant vegetables in this lucky community. But there are serpents in the garden, and must be extirpated by every means possible.



The operative and relevant term here is ENDO.

Doesn't look all that much like cross-section slices of brains:

They should come with a warning: after this, your dog's never going back to the dry stuff. Forget about it. But that's not the point; the point was to feel like you were really doing your dog a favor. You learned to crumble it up when you put in the bowl, because otherwise it was gone in two gulps.

Wonder what was in it. The world may never know.


I'd guess you'd have to feel pretty committed to this:

You'd have to know it was right, that is. Yes, it's plastic drapes. From BAKELITE, known for very hard plastics. I wonder if those things cracked when it got too cold in the house. Turn up the heat, hon, but not too much or the drapes will run.



From the era of pointless prefixes:

Nowadays it's oranges that are the gold-standard for C, no? Amurol was a candy company, or at least it turned into one; Wrigley bought them in '58, a few years after this ad.

It's like Mars making laxative candy.



I wonder if it just smelled like all the rest of the man-face splash stuff, or had something unusual.

There's actually a message board about that very subject. "I have some and I love the smell. It's indeed hard to compare to others, but it's definitely from a time when men did not want to smell feminine."

It goes on to describe the difference between modern Foamy and vintage Foamy. Of such things are daughter's memories made, it seems.

Then again: The world may never know.


That'll do - enjoy some more of Frank Reade's electrical murder-ships! See you around.


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