Will this be the day Heidi the receptionist at Daughter’s orthodontics office reads the Bleat? If so, she just got a jolt: it’s not often you go to a recommended site and it’s looking right at you. Consider that the equivalent of the old Paul Bunyan statue in the wilds of northern Minnesota, the giant with the wide dead eyes and the head that swiveled your way when you entered and called out your name. I’ve mentioned this before. An early memory of terror and wonderment: a child has never seen anything like this, a true giant, and it has just spoken your name.

It looked like this.

That’s from a video I hadn’t seen before: late 50s footage of the park. Search for Paul Bunyan Minnesota, though, and this sad moment pops up:


It’s the removal of a Paul & Babe - sorry, the iconic Paul & Babe, that word must be appended these days - from a Brainerd bowling alley. But was that statue always Paul? Of course not. This is a test of the emergency roadside statuary network. This is only a test. There’s something about that statue that tells you exactly what he was designed to sell. Who will be the first in the comments to get it?

Anyway, let’s all give a big Howdy Heidi to our new reader! Pity her name’s Beth. No, it’s Heidi. She’s hilarious and has exceptional taste in newspaper columnists, and she’s retiring soon so we won’t see her again. This is probably as good as the Bleat will ever get for her, though. It’s like the day I finally got my Dad on the internet, and we searched for his old ship; found a website devoted to the vessel and a picture of him with the crew on the deck. Okay, well, that’s probably going to be your highlight, Dad. It’s all a series of diminishing surprises from here, with an accumulating lack of faith in your fellow man.

Our comments section is the Sarlac of Miserabilism - a great eternal hiss of pissy disapproval seething with envy or humblebragging. Now and then I dip in to see what some of the more cheerless observers of our times will say

So Restoration Hardware announces it’s building a new store in Edina. It had one in the Galleria; now it’s putting up a free-standing four-story retail showplace. It takes the place of a parking lot. I'm not a big fan of RH's styles, but I saw this and thought "hey, good!"

Of course, what do I know.

Ish- the store is already practically untouchable in pricing to the common man (even in Edina except for the elite few homemaker types spending big daddy's dough), and has gone through variable failed venerations of changes eliminating much of the affordable stocking stuffer type items and replacing it with the much ado about nothing crowd with gaudy trends. Pretty much makes Gabberts Design Studio and Restoration Hardware officially irrelevant now... Except that big leather couch set in the back of the store that is pretty cool and has probably been sat on by tens of thousands. Why has that thing never $old?

Because . . . it's the floor model, and people order fresh ones? I agree about the lack of Affordable Stocking Stuff Type Items, but that's the only time I used to go to the old store. For the stuffing. Of the stockings. Even then I dind't buy anything, because it was all so preciously retro. A Ball and Jacks! A Bag of Marbles! A Tiny Harmonica! No kid ever wanted that stuff. You just wanted to be the person with taste who appreciated the classics.

Some of the furniture I liked, but at some point they went for the expensively distressed look that made your house look like an aristocratic French country house in 1849 after peasants had revolted and no one had planted everything and the economy crashed. Everything was grey and beige and depressed, and in the post 9/11 world it seemed like they were anticipating the collapse of everything, and trying to invent bleak chic for the forthcoming hard times.

But some people like it, or there wouldn't be a big new building full of the stuff - and might I add that if the building is as big as advertised, it may have room for . . Affordable Stocking Stuff Type Items. But that would be hopeful and no one should be hopeful about things that are being built, changed, improved, redone, or proposed. STOP DOING THINGS ABOUT THE THINGS.

We move along. As I like to say, when you make assumptions, you make an ass of you and mption:

It costs a lot to fit in while living in Edina.  But, Restoration Hardware is the perfect complement to the red knobs on the Wolf stove.  You will be so respected among shallow people who care only what you do for a living.

All those people in nice homes in Edina? They’re shallow and status-conscious and superficial and their lives are empty. Please let that be so. Please oh god please let them be shallow I would just die if they were really smart nice people who loved their lives


Unless it is a tasteless roofline of a McMansion, anything built above a second story will cause heart palpitations of Edinans as far away as Interlachan Blvd.

The Southdale area is now home to many taller residential structures - ten, 15 stories - and no one’s bothered. No one is building McMansions close in, either; the new construction homes may be over-scaled for the lots, but they’re quite tasteful inside and out.

Great. more congestion on France.

Expanded economic activity and employment causes an infinitesimal increase in vehicular traffic, and while I don't care because I don't go there it’s not in my nature to approve of anything (shifts in seat, farts)

Good grief.....only in Edina would something like this be possible…

A store - that sells high-end furniture - is expanding? GOOD GRIEF GAH THIS WORLD I CAN’ T EVEN

JCP sales flagging brings it consider closing but Restoration Hardware sees upside. Kinda tells me the near vicinity middle class neighborhoods are seriously diminishing as places for the middle class to fit. Edina doesn't have much room for the middle class to own homes anymore unless your combined family income of $200,000 counts as middle class. SW Minneapolis likewise is simply becoming Greater Edina.

But Edina has always been cake-eater territory. The immediate area around the mall to the east is post-war first-ring suburban housing, quite affordable. JCPenney is in the mall, and while it's probably not setting any sales records, the chain's problems have to do with the same death spiral affecting Sears. Its customer base is old and cranky.

What those people are doing on a newspaper site I've no idea.

Oh, the plastic pig head I mentioned yesterday? Less to that than you'd think. One arrived at work promoting something or other, ended up on the Swag Table, and I took it home to confuse the dog. I put it on and he ran away and I felt guilty.

Had a great day. I interviewed: the former State Archeologist; the U of M Digital Conservation Librarian; Jim Coudal of Field Notes fame. Each different subjects, completely different conversations.

Here's the full view of the Bleat Banner, manipulated with software programs that make you feel like a real artist. It's the view down the block from the skyway I take to work.

I wish I could feel more personally responsible for these images than I do.


Hard to square the lass on the left - so Gilded-Era / Stanford White - with the character we all know.

As I've noted elsewhere, subsequent generations didn't see "Wizard of Oz" the same way that people did in 1939. They knew the actors from other roles.

Patricia Burke, the daughter, you won't find in the Wikipedia listings, but you will find Patricia Ziegfeld Stephenson. She wrote a little for newspapers, it says. Lived to be 91 - nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Lots of people out there with Gilda the Good Witch's genes.





Say, Heidi? We do this on Thursdays. It started out as a one-off and turned into a regular feature, and I am now obligated to show you one (1) town per week. It's one of my favorite things. Anyway, Lewiston. Says its application for historical status:

Developed as a company town by Boston investors beginning in 1850, Lewiston rapidly grew to become the largest industrial city in Maine. It became particularly important as a textile center for the region. Until its decline in the 1920's, Lewiston experienced fairly steady prosperity.

Decline in the 20s? You don't think anything declined in the 20s. It's still the second-largest city in Maine, with a population of 36K. Well, let's see what's still around.

Chances are, U do:

It looks as if they added those windows at the back later. Or not; could have been done at the time. No sense knocking on any doors to ask.

Vacant lot next door, but of course once it had a building whose exact dimensions you can determine by its absence.

This is nice:

Part of the Lower Lisbon Street Historical District, which no doubt awaits the renaissance promised by such declarations.

Still a furniture building; same name. Look at the size of that boarded up window on the left:

Is there any better way - short of demolition - to tell people that things are shutting down, and shutting down for good?

So you're telling me the demographics have changed since the war:

Hello, my good man, I would like to do some Mogadishu business

Now and then you think: so they were always bricked up, then?






Around the corner:

The town's Wikipedia page said "The city's flagship department store, the four-story B. Peck & Co., closed in 1982 after more than a century in business." I wonder if that's it.

More fine restoration work:


They left their mark everywhere, and made sure it didn't fade.

Good golly Miss Molly:


City Hall. That's a sign of a prosperous town. The tower is completely unnecessary - except as an expression of civic pride and power, in which case it's completely necessary.

I have the feeling the depositors didn't win out in the end.

Depositors Trust Company? I should certainly hope so.


A beautiful original entrance: curved glass and inlaid name.

It was originally a bank, believe it or not. The Lewiston Trust and Safe Deposit Company built it in 1898. It has its own Wikipedia page:

The building was purchased in 1926 by W. Grant, owner of a clothing store. He made alterations to the interior to accommodate the retail function, but retained significant architectural elements, including marble flooring and stairs, basement level waiting rooms, and the bank president's office on the second floor, which has rich decorative woodwork.

Wouldn't you love a tour?


So the holodeck is malfunctioning today, I guess:

You know just how it tasted - thin crust, little crispy pepperoni cups with a pond of grease in each one. Delicious.


Yelpers like it, and we know what a hard bunch they are to please.

This . . . isn't a good sign.

I think it could be occupied, though - those bricked-up windows have smaller windows, indicating a retrofit. The walkway obviously isn't the prefered means of entrance these days, though.

This is even sadder:

There's more. Have a look around.


That'll do. Next: a run of restaurant interiors until the long-awaited return of the Motel Postcards in May. See you around!


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