We have plenty of time to get downtown to see the fireworks, but there’s still a note of urgency. Parking will be scant, and the riverfront will be jammed. There are five of us, so we’re in my wife’s car, and she’s driving so I don’t have to adjust the seat and change the radio. She pulls out of the garage SCRAWWWWEEEEEE

The back passenger door was still open, and it hit the support pole. Let’s just say it was bent. Somewhat.

So me and French Brother-in-Law spring into action, being Men of Cars and Things that Go Click and Clunk, and it’s an amusing competition: neither wants to be the guy who gives up first, but neither wants to be the guy who doesn’t realize it’s hopeless. Tools are produced. Flashlights are found to interrogate the inner disharmony of the latching mechanism. The bolt assembly is studied, and no deformations found. Eventually we both agree at the same time that it will have to go into the shop; there’s naught we can do.

Technically, Daughter is at fault, for not closing the door; she thought Uncle Frenchman was coming in. Technically, Wife is at fault for not checking her six and listening to the bong-bong-bong sound warning her a door was open. But since no one wants to make Daughter feel bad and Wife did all the Fourth cooking, it’s kinda my fault for suggesting we take her car, but I only have four seats, so: it’s no one’s fault. It just is one of those things.

I said I would run it into the shop first thing in the morning - by which I meant I would make some calls. Local garage: we can give you an estimate next Tuesday and fix it a week later. Same everywhere else. I expected this; you can’t just go to the body shop and say “could you fix this? Thanks, I’ll be over here looking at my phone.” Eventually found a MAACO in the burbs that would give me an exam at 2 PM. Ubered to work. Did the radio on WCCO; did some work work; Ubered home; tied the door down with rope and spent 20 sweaty minutes driving to MAACO, aware of several things:

Acceleration would make the door be more inclined to be shut, but deceleration would strain the rope. Traffic circles would exert centrifugal force. There was a possibility the rope would snap, the door would swing out, and sway a cyclist.

Made it without incident. Went inside, announced my problem to a guy who was riding one of those one-leg scooters you have when you’ve got a busted wing. He said “let’s take a look.”

“Take a tumble?” I said.

“Actually,” he said, “I was shot.”

“Oh - jeez. I hope they . . .”

“He’s in jail.” (Wife later asked “did you find out what it was about?” and I said it’s a man’s choice to volunteer such information, and if he doesn’t, you leave it at that.)

He looked at the door. Nodded. He called Mike.

Mike was good with these things. Mike, he said, liked a challenge. Mike liked to fix things.

We chatted a bit - he was the owner. Calm, genial man who radiated this comforting Zen: all things can be fixed.

Out of the dark garage came Mike, who was about my height, bald to the top of his crown, long long hair after that. Wiry. Cheerful. Eyeballed the problem, pushed the door down, went back in, and came out with a long metal bar and some wrenches. Scronched and squarnked the door, whirred the bolts, adjusted, grabbed the door with both hands, bent the corner, carefully closed it: nope. Scronch and whirr so more.

It fit.

It fit perfectly.

You dodged a big (effin) bullet, Mike said. That could have been a disaster. Whose fault was it?

“My daughter left the door open -“

“Did she have the keys in her hand? No? Who had the keys in their hand?”

“My wife.”

“Well then.”

“You a married man, Mike?” He admitted that he was not. “It’s not always that simple.”

“Whoever has the keys in their hand,” he repeated, and grinned. “What happened here?” He pointed to two empty sockets where the pointless spoiler had been.

“Someone backed out of the garage too soon,” I said. “My wife had the keys in her hand but it could have been anyone.”

It was fixed, and I said now the only problem is you guys figuring out what to charge me. Let’s go settle up.

The man who’d been shot waved me off. “No charge,” he said. I was astonished.

“It was nice to work outside for a while,” Mike said.

I shook their hands and asked if they could fix the busted spoiler; sure, of course. I said I’d be back to give them whatever business I could, and drove away amazed.

Good men. They’re everywhere, you know.



Our last entry in the DC Misc feature this week, such as it’s been: this merry fellow.

One of the most influential architects of the 19th century: H. W. Richardson. He had a style named after him, which is rarely happens. As in "never."


You get the sense of the man, don’t you? From the description on the wall:



He certainly looks Falstaffian and merry in the picture, doesn't he?

But he's not smiling.


He was buried in Walnut Hills Cemetery, Brookline, Massachusetts. Despite an enormous income for an architect of his day, his "reckless disregard for financial order" meant that he died deeply in debt, leaving little to his widow and six children.

But the work survives.




This is the Middle of Things, the Middle of Places, the middle of the day in the middle of the week.

“What’s that? New building codes? Fire escape? FINE”

Interesting how they worked that in. Obviously they knocked out a window, but why did they have to step it down?


If you look closely at the building in the middle, you’ll see the real building behind the facade. That’s old. That’s old.


A little Buckaroo Revival in full strength, and the embassy of the outside world up the street in red. That’s the original Pizza Hut design, so it’s been there forever.


Keep in mind that brick was supposed to modernize the building. Make you think it was up to date. No one looked up to notice how it was different on the second floor. Everyone had a crick in their neck from working at the mill.

Two more signs and she could play the Twilight Zone theme on the bar’s answering machine



The rough-and-tumbled stone was fake, or at least prefab - it brought some SoCal Googie style to the rest of the country, but it looked different when it composed the wall of a coffee shop otherwise enclosed by plate gl


If you have a check from this bank I don’t think it’ll be honored.

Did the bank succeed and go on to a better location, or fail? Doing some elementary googling on the address to see if there was any history to be found, I discovered that the back-cracker went kaput since the picture was taken. Well, let’s move along and see if there’s anything else that flourishes.

Some signs have more appeal when they’re ruined.



Doesn't matter what it says; you get the point. Drinks.

A modern church from the rational corporate period. God as the CEO, Jesus as the regional manager. Nothing reaches up. The steeple its the glass basement foundation of heaven and flattens.



I think we can deduce the date and the theater’s status as a going concern by this image:


They bricked up the poster windows. That seems almost vindictive. Movies, fantasies, dreams - that’s what got us in this trouble in the first place!

From Granola at cinematreasures.org. a reminder of the simply beauty and importance of the small town theater.


It's a horrible day when they close. It's a wonderful day when they open again.


Have a look, if you wish -


- and give my regards to Ely..

That'll do; see you around. Motels await.



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