Sitting at a Starbucks in the suburbs, wishing I had headphones. The music is demanding and serious. It’s either serious jazz you should totally appreciate because it’s jazz, or it’s a husky voiced chanteuse who is pouring out her heart while a customer browses pictures on Pinterest. (I can’t help but look at people have on their screens.) Oh God now it’s Adele singing the Skyfall theme. All of this has been chosen to give us a certain experience, and apparently the wonks at Starbucks who manage these things believe that Wednesday night at eight o’clock is a rather dramatic time, and requires wide, broad, red emotions.

We used to make fun of Muzak, and often for good reason; there are few times as bleak as sitting in a coffee shop in the worst of moods, despairing over something or someone, and the chirpy chippy tunes trickling from above sing of endless merry frolic. But I’m not sure at that point you want the music to agree with you.

At least it was a respite from pop music, which now has to accompany every moment. Traders Joe is the only place where I like to hear it, because the selections aren’t the usual hits, but the ones that peaked at 21 or 17 - but you remember them. Other than that I’d be happy to hear some production music out in public again.

I just gave up on an essay I was going to post today; I was 1,926 words into it, although a lot of those were quotes and Wikipedia stats about Mexican social structures and poverty rates in the indigineous population. The screed was about an essay whose most salient aspect was its length, followed by its inability to state a thesis, had to do with redefining American identity. This is a necessary thing and must be done constantly, and once we stop thinking in terms of civic values and assimilation we'll be better off. Because we're redefined!

It was the hed and subhed that caught my eye:

The Making of a Mexican-American Dream

Despite the rhetoric and hate crimes, Mexican immigrants are poised to reframe American culture, if white people would only let them.

Man, they just spoil everything.

So I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say, other than pushing back against the tired but zestily popular idea that the United States is some remarkably novel blight on the planet, and we can learn a lot from Mexico when it comes to class and race and national narratives, but for heaven's sake. There's no point.

First of all, redefinition of American identity in a superficial form is inevitable and constant. The clothes change but not the bones. But they can't see the bones. It's like people who look at skyscrapers and think they're held up by the brick facade. And since there are so many bricks, we can take some out - the ones at the bottom, because they're handy - and throw them at portraits of George Washington.

Speaking of which: this was the object I saw on the shelf in that blurry photo I posted yesterday. It's in the Closet of Wonders and Mysteries now, way in the back. It's cheap plastic; they gave them away by the hundreds.


That's the Weatherball on top. The Northwester Bank had a colored ball that told you what the temps and precip would be. It was removed before the building caught fire. I remember being in Fargo when the blaze happened - couple of juvies with a torch thought it would be fun to set an 18-story building on fire - and I felt far away from my new home, feeling helpless. If nothing else I wanted to be there with everyone else, watching it end.

Looking for footage of the fire sent me down a YouTube rabbit hole that led to something that made my jaw rest on my sternum for 30 seconds, because it's the absolutely last thing I expected to discover, but there it is, and it happened, and it knits together some very personal things in a way I could not possibly have predicted. But there it is.

Annnnd that's tomorrow. ;)

Yesterday I mentioned we had Big Wind. It pushed the gazebo seven feet and tossed the curtains into the trees.

This was the first thing I saw this morning:

Correction: that minus the chairs. Before I left I put the fence panel back up, hammered in a few nails, and braced it. The winds took it down again, and the way the chairs fell made me tweet out "Okay, who turned on the Krell machine"

Someone else said I'd been visited by the Kool-Aid Man. But he breaks things when he enters.

The dog, as you can imagine, was quite interested. It's like a dimensional gateway had opened, and he saw a new world on the other side.



What's the deal with the art? Gnomes, owls, a deer, a Satyr. Sure, why not. It's poetry!

What tidy set of couplets do we have today? Oh, the Evils of Drink.

Prohibition's just a few years away.





"The town occupies the site of an Indian village which was of considerable importance during the Creek War. It was the home of Captain John Brown, a famous Indian, whose daughters, Catharine and Anna, established the Creek Path Mission school in 1820, six miles south of Guntersville. " So says the town's home page. Also:

There are several opinions as to how the town got the name “Attalla” and what this name actually means. In a rare book on place-names in Alabama, the author states: ”Attalla -- a city in Etowah County. The first settlement here was called Atale, which is a corruption of the Cherokee word ‘otali’, or ‘mountain’.”

“My Home” is the most generally accepted meaning for the name Attalla.

Let's see what we have.

I guess Google regards the founding date as private information.

But of course it's a bank:

It's always been a bank. But I'll bet it was the Farmer's Merchant Bank or the First Merchant & Farmer Bank or something that went nips-up in 1930.

Once again, the rejuvinating power of downtown trees is on full display:

If you look closely, and if you care, it seems as if the finish on the black stuff on the facade is different than the black stuff below the windows in the recessed portion. GLossy vs. matte. If I had to guess, I'd say the facade dates from the 30s or 40s, and the front got punched in during the post-war renovation craze.

You know what this used to be, right?

A Flickr page says: "It houses an Antique Store now and the lady manager said it was a Rexall Drug Store years ago. Several locals agreed about its being a Rexall Drug store but couldn't remember how long ago that it was."

The question is where the W came into the picture, but that's obvious: Walker Drug Store.

Of course this once had a name:

The pegs that held the old sign look like notes in a melody no one hums any more. It looks quite tall in that view, but if you look from up the street . . .

No idea what's going on with that ghost ad.

The stone grafted on the facade of the building by the alley suggests it was connected to the white-facade building; same cheap fake stone.

Then again, maybe some guy came through town with a truckload of the stuff, and sold it up and down the street.

Hold on - that's the same name as the music store above. Etowah? So maybe the same guy did buy it for all the stores he owned. Nope. That's the name of the county.

Damned sad looking site, this one.

A nice piece of work from the tail-fin / push-button era:

In the future, things will slant! And the future is now!

The sun knocks on the windows, but there's nobody home:

There was a time when a Tattoo parlor wouldn't be on the Main Street. It would be like holding a grand parade to celebrate a new pool haul.

Sometimes, if you're careful, and choose a wood that'll age to a certain hue, you can give a building the Buckaroo Revival treatment and it'll end up looking like a package of bacon.

Well, not much in this town after all, it seems -

Oh my.


You might say late 30s, or late 40s - nope. Early 50s, it seems, and Cinema Treasures says it did some time as an X-rated house.

In a small town? Everyone would know you went there.

One last reason I'd like to go to Attala:



That's the old Reddy, too. The gangly one.


Did I miss anything? You be the judge.


That'll do; no idea what tomorrow will bring. See you around!


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