Dropped Daughter off at the gym and went to Cub to buy kitchen sponges, because my life is a non-stop whirl of drama and peril. I buy them in four-packs, and usually when I use the last I’m Johnny-on-the-Sponge-Spot about reupping, but I’ve been lax. You know how it is. I assumed there were croutons in the basement larder the other day. Turned out I’d used that package the month before. And where were we now? Salads without hard bread squares dusted with Caesar flavors. Since I’d made that discovery I had been to the grocery store / Target three times, and neglected to redress the crouton situation, let alone the sponge deficit.

Well mister that’s not happing today. We are mission-oriented. We are goal-specific. Sponges and croutons.

Turned on the radio: ANGRY GUY ANGRY ABOUT THINGS. Checked the BBC; a guy was calm and apologetic. Hit the Symphony Hall channel, and hello, Mahler 6/4. As I drove to the store I realized I’d come in at the start of the movement, and this was quite a performance. Cleveland. Perfect tempo. All the angst and beauty.

Sat in the parking lot until it was done, with the volume turned up to 11. I don’t think I’ve heard a more titanic performance. Beethoven was Zeus, Mozart Apollo; Mahler was Modern Man in his earliest form, sarcastic, ironic, mocking the schmaltz at the same time he luxuriated in its sentimental power.

Then the symphony ended and I went inside and bought sponges and croutons.

On the way out I snapped a picture of the sky. That's the Bleat Banner for today.


We had a creature situation. Scout was on Defcon 5, and had identified the threat between the Oak Island Water Feature’s North Wall and the fence. When I went outside to see what was riling him up, I found this guy:



Looks cute there, but he was in full toothy rabid hiss when I got there. Took me a while to figure out what he was - a possum, of course, but I’ve never seen possum around here. (“That’s the way we like it - Possum Spokesman) Raccoons, sure; squirrels, always. Bunnies, yeah, hundreds of those bouncy fluffy morons. But possums. You never know in the city how much fauna abides in your bushes and trees. I’ve always loved the small woods in the backyard, if only because they give the dog a place to skulk and lurk and pretend. Scout can be a real dog in our backyard. If we’d had a boy he would have built a fort in the thick part. He would have come up with stories and dramas I never knew.

In Fargo our backyard had six towering trees, thin, NINE STORIES HIGH - or so it seemed. Rhubarbs, which Mom harvested for awful pie I never ate because yuck, rhubarb. The trees formed a wall between our back yard and the one on the other side of the street - that was a mysterious realm, a strange mirror universe of our own block. We never went down that block, which seems odd to me now. It was 8th street or nothing. We had more in common with people two blocks up or down on 8th, because it was 8th. The people on the other side of the treeline? Seventh streeters. Who knew what they did.

I’m serious. It was shocking when the trees came down, and there was nothing between our back windows and theirs - as if we were staring across a no-man’s-land in a war. I dimly remember something critical of those people; they had a screen porch, and my mother could see them doing things in the porch, and didn’t approve.

That may be a horribly inaccurate recollection, but it fits with what I remember: my mother disapproved. Not strongly. She wouldn’t offer it. But if the subject came up. And then it was said as if passing along something that people should know, not that it really mattered, but, well, you know.

It just kills me that I think like that. Of course that wasn’t the entirety of my Mother’s personality, but certain things get wood-burned into your brain with a Tandy tool in the teen times, and if there’s one thing I have tried to apply sparingly as a parent, it’s that: OVERHANGING JUDGMENT. At a certain point I became someone my mother could not understand, and she feared I was taking drugs, and was mentally troubled because I was listening . . .

. . . . to Mahler. Seriously. She watched a talk show where someone said that mentally unstable people were attracted to Mahler. She made an appointment with a mental health counselor. She went into the meeting first, came out weeping. The counselor’s first question to me: why do you want to make your mother cry?

Let me tell you how absurd this got: I also listened to Led Zep and prog groups, and this was Drug Music. (I was not doing drugs. No one in my peer group was doing drugs.) (We drank.) When my parents - Mom mostly, Dad in tow - confronted me about Drug Music, I pointed out that I also listened to Berlioz, and his Symphonie Fantastique was based on DeQuincy’s “Confessions of an Opium Eater,” so technically that was drug music too, right?

This made matters worse.

And my mother classical music. She was heartened by the sounds of Grieg and Schumann piano concertos coming from my bedroom; that was nice. The tortured sounds of Mahler, that was worrisome.

I have great guilt about that period; not anger at the way teen angst was pathologized, but guilt over whatever idiocy I manifested that amplified the rift. Basically, I was perfect cherubic smarty-pants angel boy until I got into Speech and Debate, and then the pull of peers, the intensely cohesive social group I found, replaced family. I think my mother felt abandoned.

And, I know how she feels. Every parent does, to some extent. Daughter lipped off the other day, all sarky and cynical, and I thought: you ungrateful little so-and-so. Everything I have done for you for years, and this is how you treat me. I lipped off to my mom once, and was probably proud of the quality of my riposte; she slapped me. The betrayal must have been unutterably profound. I had no idea.

I spent so much time researching and documenting the commercial detritus of the magazines and consumer items of the 60s, because it’s the cheerful remembrance of a happy time. It’s my Mom’s time. A lot of this site boils down to one simple emotion: I’m sorry.

Anyway. In the tree line in the backyard I carved canals, built cities with Lego, ran the garden hose as far as it would go and flooded the canals and cities. Then I climbed the Monkey Bars we bought at Southdale on a fabled, fare trip to The Cities.

She probably watched from the kitchen, doing something by the sink.

Twenty years after I’d left for college, the Monkey Bars were in the back, in the bushes, overgrown. She couldn’t get rid of them.

I toppled Daughter’s two-story play set a few years ago, and put down sod. It’s still a different color than the rest of the lawn. Looks like a grave.

The dog doesn’t notice that it’s different. It’s all the same to him. It’s all about the now . . . except, no, they remember. Two hours after the possum incident, I let him out - and he ran straight to the place where the possum had hid.

It wasn’t there anymore, but he knew it had been, and he barked.

Like I said: that could describe this entire got-danged site.



The last of this batch. Herewith the solution to Leg Sores. Do you have Leg Sores? Ulcerous Leg Sores? Hideous, suppurating leg sores that cause your face to darken uncontrollaby?

Or do you like to look at funny tiitty pictures? You do, don't you? You're just the sort of guy who carries these things around and reads them when no one's looking. The best ones are the ones with ropes, aren't they? ROPES AND WHIPS;.





As I said last week: "I marked this entire folder MYSTERY, and I must have meant something." I did, and it turns out I gave it away last week without realizing it. But let's pretend you forgot, or didn't notice, or that I'm really hyping up interest when there's no mystery at all. (Hint: C) (No, I didn't say that!)

What was the mystery? Well, it’s not when this was built; if there’s glass blocks and a curved corner, it’s the thirties or early 40s.

Can't someone put aa coffee shop in there? Just don't cover it with pictures of 30s movie stars alternativing with faux-weathered signs for coffee and hamburgers.

HELLO you have traveled back to 1965. Enjoy your stay.


Guns, Ammo, Pawn Shop - but not here. There’s nothing here. Move along.

Poor building looks like someone got rid of all their excess putty and didn’t care how it looked.

That’s quite an overhang. Why would they need one? So people could pump gas in the shade.


It has the strange effect of miniaturizing the cars. The gaspump islands are gone; don't know about the tanks below. Some places had laws requiring the tanks come up, and that drove many a place out of business. Couldn't afford it. Didn't matter that there wasn't any gas to leak. Didn't matter at all.





Colors aside, an absolutely correct restoration. Narrow entrance to upstairs units. Glass over the store fronts for maximum light / ventilation. (The windows may have opened, once.)


Shuler theater.



Cinema Treasures:

The Shuler Theater opened on April 27, 1915 in the city hall in downtown Raton, and was designed by architects Issac H. Rapp & William Rapp. It was named after Dr. James Jackson Shuler, an early 20th century Raton mayor.

I'm sure no one thought that was the least bit self-aggrandizing.


Can’t be a store. You know it’s not a store.



A bank, once, if I had to say. Now it’s offices for an educational cooperative, whatever that might be

Remember: there’s a mystery. I said there was a mystery. Moving right along . . . .





They really have every possible archetype, no? 70s banks, 50s Government buildings, 19th century survivors . . .


. . . Like these two, which seem to have grafted together. Different buildings, if you judge the windows and brickwork at the top.



I have the feeling that people who wanted dance supplies might be disappointed.


If you know something of the stores of the bygone era, you’ll read this right away:



Mode O’Day.

The first Mode O'Day shop was founded in Glendale, CA, and by the mid 1960s, there were over 700 stores in over 30 states. Most of the stores were independently owned franchises. The individual owners would be able to purchase the dresses, on consignment, directly from the factory located in Utah.

More here, including old store pictures.



Another post-war metal grid, for Modernity’s Sake:



This has the look of a chain store. I can't say why, except that it looks like a standard idea they imposed across the land, a trademark look that said "we're that store."

Dead now, and from the looks of it likely to stay that way.



Peculiar decision: stick some columns in the corner to make everyone think they’re really not holding up the building at all. They’re not consistent with the stripped-down style of the building, and look like the builder picked them up cheap somewhere.



My Stars + Bars I took, what, 30 shots of tis town? Perhaps because of odd sights like this.



The broad sidewalk, the squished first floor, the expanse of empty metal where the name once was displayed, and the old original building up top.


“Damn it all! I said six floors! I don’t care what the plans say. I don’t care if you can’t get the same damned brick. Build it. ”



Why not work some ancient good-luck symbols into the project? They’ll always be attractive, and make people think of good things.



I say, what shall we call it? Oh, capital idea!



A good place to end.



Cinema Treasures:

The Raton Evening Gazette for April 18, 1930, reported that the ceiling was painted in a “….soft deep blue of the southern sky, studded with many twinkling stars, and here and there, (clouds) floating leisurely across the arched expanse are so real that we can hardly believe we are surrounded by four walls and a roof.” The side-wall murals were painted over sometime in the past (possibly in the late-1940’s when some remodeling was done by architectural firm Brittelle, Ginner & Neuner) and the ceiling’s stars and clouds have also disappeared.



Restoration began in 2008. A gallery of pictures here.


So what’s the mystery? I also wrote “two main streets” on the folder of images, and sure enough, that’s what it seems to have. One facing the railroad tracks, and another a block to the West. It looks as if they just started over, like Los Angeles in the 60s.

Have a look around. Nice little place.



And give my regards to Raton.

RAY-ton, thank you.


Hope that suffices! If not, a few motels await.


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