Sometimes you just want a damn good cup of coffee, but here I am at Starbucks. Sorry. I know that's an annoying thing for a lot of people, and I understand why:

1. Assertion of some cultural values I think are familiar and known to all, and widely respected, but aren't shared by all and in fact are actively loathed by many.

What might those virtues be? Oh, I don't know. Coffee snobbery. The idea that having coffee of middling quality in a space carefully designed to connote global citizenship and sustainability means you think you're a good person because they plant one coffee tree for every bag of coffee you buy. (Not that you bought a bag of coffee.) You may roll your eyes at this.

2. Or you may be on the other end of the spectrum, and hate Starbucks because it drives out local coffee houses or manipulates the coffee market or sold something to Israel once.

Your choice or none of the above. But here's the thing: this is a nice space. I'd have these chairs in my house. I'd have that sofa and matching easy chairs. There's a long wooden table in the back room with an interesting overhead light fixture I haven't seen at any other Starbucks, and half a dozen people are doing something Collaborative, with laptops. Do you know where you could get coffee around here before Starbucks? Nowhere.

Well, that's not entirely true; there's a restaurant up the street, and they had a counter, but you got that watery stuff served in a cup that sloshed the contents into your saucer and cooled quickly. That was it for coffee around these parts. As for the general pretentious level of Starbucks, I agree; when I came in, the speakers were playing some bebop version of "Salt Peanuts," a song I hate, and hate even more in Bebop form. And then some smoky Dexter Evans saxophone, throaty, bluesy, rueful. No one was listening, but it consciously registered as serious music for people who recognize the contribution jazz has made to our, you know, culture? And if you said you found the story of Dexter Evans to be inspirational, considering what he faced in his day, people would nod. The struggle was real.

(There wasn't any Dexter Evans, but it does sound like a good jazzman name from the era.)

So I have no problem with Starbucks. I'm not a partisan or a hater. It's a handy place and all I get is espresso with hot water.

Anyway, as I said, I'm at Starbucks. Sorry. Mentioned that to set the scene: daughter is upstairs at the dentist. She will not be going to choir because she'll be numb, so I'll have the chance to make fun of her when she tries to eat soup and it all dribbles out. (Kidding.) (Somewhat.) We were at this Starbucks about 13 years ago, when she did a spit-take and got hot chocolate all over a new shirt. She insists that she not only remembers it, but that it was intentional. She was being naughty, and pretended it was too hot.

Before she was born I used to walk here from the house, which was something of a hike. Did it every day in the winter, keeping my daily walking regimen alive; wasn't working at an office at the time. Wrote fiction longhand. Walked home.

So I've been coming here for 20 years? Never considered that. Never gave it a moment's thought. It's not an important place. Just a surprisingly persistent one.

The coffee, by the way, was weak, and had a slight aroma of fish. I am not a coffee snob but "top note of perch" isn't something I want. For that matter, I don't want notes of anything. I just want a damned good cup of joe, and I want it strong. Do not pass off the flavor as "earthy" if the word that comes to mind is actually "dirt."

I got some Lunds & Byerly's K-cups the other day (because it was Monday, when they're on sale, along with lots of other things, so Monday has now been added to shopping rotation day along with every other fargin' day of the week) and I chose the Espresso variety. My reaction:

It's entirely possible that you know who's spitting out the coffee. It's likely you've heard his most famous composition. Yes, that's him doing a cameo as a man with very exacting tastes in espresso. I had no idea when I began this thing that would loop back to Coop, but that's what happens when you open the laptop and start typing without a destination.

Oh well. Here's a dog to make up for that. Weekly pupdate. Semi-weekly. Occasionally.



Does he blend? He blends.



Done! The whole block is done:



Here's some context. This wasn't here a year ago. Well, two. It's



The last shot of the video approximates this 2011 Google Street view:



I'd say that's an improvement.


Annnnd the excitement of the Sexton / Portland building continues to build to a frenzied peak. We're all watching it grow together! Yeah. Here's some context:


That's the big Downtown Rast project in the back, of course. You'll note a gap between the Sexton / Portland and the twin towers in the back - they're not that far apart, but the blocks in between aren't well-populated. It's a neighborhood waiting to happen, but until it happens, it isn't a neighborhood.



We'll put the Little Things cues aside for a while. As I mentioned on Monday, this is Lum & Abner month. Why? I've no idea. It's not something everyone likes. It's something most people forgot. But there's a lesson in the music cues.

For years the show started with the same phrase: And now, let's see what's going down in Pine Ridge. Then announcer - from the mid-30s on, I think - always said well to set up the story. Well, as we look in on the Jot 'em Down Store, we see Lum telling Squire about his amoebic dystentary or something like that. And then he'd say: listen. When the show went to its long half-hour self-contained eps show - something that destroyed the show, as I noted last week - they had to punch it all up. Like this. From the wheezy organ grinding out an old standard, to this.


Big production.


I can imagine that the show's creators didn't mind sounding like the big leagues; all the popular shows had their own orchestra. But it turned the show into one of those popular shows, which was contrary to its nature. The music cues got quite lavish - and completely uncharacteristic.


For a rural show?


I like it, but that doesn't fit. This is a bit more like it - but it's still overproduced.




Someone had to write new ones every week.


Lum & Abner's 1935 Sponsor: Horlicks! Yes, this is a different one. They were all different.


It's just malted milk, for heavens sake


Two minutes with the Conklins family. That's an interesting story! Really!


This week's Bob & Ray sketch, as we continue to play out the intentionally banal parodies of the tedious serial, "One Man's Family."



One Fella's Family



"Going like Sixty." Jack is the son whose obvious criminality is never recognized by the family. While this isn't a particularly funny piece, it has that honking horn sound you hear in every radio or TV car crash EVER.

EVERYONE of them.





If there were Fathers of the Purple Sage, they didn't come out and endorse their kids.

Not the most . . . Western voice, is it?




The Streets of Laredo. Wikipedia: "a famous American cowboy ballad in which a dying cowboy tells his story to another cowboy."

"I see by your outfit, that you are a cowboy."
These words he did say as I slowly passed by.
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story,
For I'm shot in the chest, and today I must die."

There were many parody versions, including two similar ones by the Kingston Trio and the Smothers Brothers, which I've heard. There's one by Alan Sherman, which I haven't, and for that I am grateful. Sorry. A couple of amusing songs, and lots of braying mediocre ideas.

That'll do. That's a lot! See you Monday.




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