Took Daughter to a college for a tour, because that is what you do when they're shopping for the incubators of adulthood. Here’s a place you don’t want to go to; compare it to the other places you don't want to go to. In my heart I am pulling for the U of M for obvious reasons, and would gladly pay for an apartment in Dinkytown in one of the nice new structures. Wouldn’t even have to text every day. Could just drive past on the way back from work, and think, all’s well. Dinkytown is a good place. It’s always been a good place.
On the way to the college - in St Paul - I took the parkway, and saw some signs, saw places where there were signs, but had been removed. Someone came along and yanked up a nice LOST DOG sign and threw it in the back of the truck; just doing their job. Or they were someone who thought it didn’t look nice.
The signs stick around in the crappy neighborhoods.
I tried to get across the river but the street to the bridge was blocked, so I took another route; bad idea. Not thinking. I went down a narrow street leading to the VA Hospital, because my map showed a road connecting to another street I could take. When I got to the location the road was a bridge that had been closed to the public for some time - I'd walked past it a few times while looking in the area for Scout, and cursed myself for not putting 2 + 2. It’s an old bridge sealed on both ends, and it - was - just - so - damned - symbolic, I had a sudden burst of temper.
Earlier I’d tried to file a piece for the paper, and the online remote access program informed me that I needed to change my password. Thanks for that. Just as well. The old one had Scout in it. I changed it, entered it again for confirmation, then tried to log in. Refused.
This happens every time. It never takes. I called IT, as I always do, and got the guys in India, who at least don’t have to say “I apologize for the problem and I am sorry you are having difficulties,” because I’m not a customer who could swan off to some other service at any time if I wanted. I’m stuck. He changed my password, and it did not work. ALL RIGHT BOYS, LET’S CLEAR THE CACHES. Finally went to another computer and it worked, but it was wasted time, and it felt like there was a crow on the back of my neck pecking pecking pecking.
So when I saw the road I couldn’t take, the bridge from here to there that wasn’t open, I snapped -
But calmed down, because you have to, and I found a way through cones and narrowed lanes and construction over the river and up to the college.
I should note that it was cool, and grey, and rainy; August hasn’t been a preview of September. August has been September.
Get this: Daughter had a personal tour guide. They had more volunteers than applicants on this day - one kid from Poland. One kid from Fargo. A few more.
Daughter was paired with the Giant Swede’s daughter.
Afterwards we drove back through a nice part of town that turned into the crappy part of town, and I found a spot where I could hammer a sign. Someone’s boulevard, but from the looks of it, he didn’t care: nothing but weeks. Thick-stemmed evil purply weeds. I cleared a few away with the claw of the hammer so the sign would be visible, and then I went home and made more signs. Wife made more signs. Printed off more dog pictures for the signs. Heard her ripping the clear tape for an hour or so.
The pointlessness of this seems overwhelming at times, and I just want to shout HE’S GONE. HE’S DEAD. But we don’t know that. I did check the Dead Beasts log at Animal Control the other day, though. They have logs of dogs people say they found but won’t turn in, and logs of remains. I called to see if there was anything in the former log (which, now that I think of it, it not be former at all in that sense) for a dog lost August 4, and was told I’d have to come in to check. Couldn’t say over the phone.
Okay. Fine. Drove to animal control. It’s beyond the Warehouse District on Washington - no nice condos, no rehabbed industrial spaces. Empty blocks.
The street once had dozens of buildings like this.
People looked out that window once. Looked down at the horse-drawn carts, the snow-choked road, the new noisy automobiles. Every time I see these windows blinded I have to ask: what's in there now? There has to be something.
My tour of the town to find spots for Scout signs has made pause at places I would usually drive through without engaging. This is in a nice residential neighborhood, and I'm mystified. A four-bay gas station / repair shop? It doesn't belong.
Bricked up and refitted with Buckaroo Revival shingles, painted blue years later. Its last incarnaton?
Video store. It's interesting how Blockbuster was the only video-store chain that really left a mark - well, maybe Hollywood, too. The early days of video stores took place in strip malls and old corner stories, reused gas stations - repurposed facilities. They didn't leave behind thousands of free-standing buildings you could identify by vestigial signage or structure design, like you can with an old Pizza Hut.
Then there are the alleys of Central, destitute and unloved, the driveways abandoned to unnervingly aggressive weeds.
In case you're squinting at your screen:
When I got to animal control they showed me the log. There was one entry for a lost-dog report after the 4th. One. A Pomeranian.The person on the phone could have asked one question and saved me the trip, but hey: not her job to lean over and pick up the binder and say “well, only one dog was reported. Describe yours.” Nope. Rules. You gotta come in.
I asked the young lady behind the window about Lost Dog reports, and she said they didn’t take them. I said yes, that’s what your site says. But when you click on the link to see the dogs you have at the pound, there’s a link to file a lost dog report, and I did that. Where does that go?
“Oh that’s . . . petharbor.com?" She turned to her co-worker. “Where do those reports go?”
“They were talking about connecting those,” said her co-worker, “but I don’t know. It’s not clear.”
“So people file lost dog reports and think it goes to Animal Control, and you don’t know if it does?”
They shrugged: not their department.
A day later, looking at a bridge that wasn’t a bridge anymore, I snapped. Not because of that, but yeah, because of that. And the rest of it.
This is an old, old site I'm reusing here because I'm hard up against it. Usually I'm a few weeks out on this stuff, but as you might suspect there has been a dearth of leisurely hours to scan and sort.
Gah. Gah. Anyway.
1949 must have felt like a strange, promising, unusual year - the Forties had seen hell, then the transition to peacetime, inflation worries, nuclear fears, restoked animosity towards the Reds. The start of a new decade always felt like you were living in the future, all of a sudden. Things would be different in the Fifties. There would be push-button vacuum cleaners and more cars and televisions for everyone, and things would look new in a way they hadn't looked since the Crash. Oh, many of the readers of this magazine remembered the Crash. If you were 40, the Crash was like 1991. Hitler's war was like 9/11. This issue would have landed during the chilly days of February, in the last year of the 40s - in this case delivered to a rural address.
BOSTROM, Lillian G., age 67, 2186 Mt. Baker Highway, passed away Sunday, June 14, (1964) Mrs. Bostrom was a fifty-one-year resident of this community, a member of the Garden Street Methodist Church; Past Matron, Order of Eastern Star, Maple Leaf Chapter No. 58; Past Royal Matron, Order of Amaranth; Past Worthy High Priestess, White Shrine of Jerusalem; Mother Advisor, Rainbow Girls; Girl Scout Leader and 4-H Club leader.
If that's her, she lived long enough to see the world of 1949 pass from her eyes; almost entirely. Following are few excerpts from the magazine - ads, illustrations, ordinary examples from mass-market publications.
The more you study the ad, the more you realize she's trying to figure out what she has to take out to Make Space for the bowl. She certainly didn't get it out of there; everything's packed too tight.
So the amount of space it makes is zero, then?
It's the long-lost prequel to 28 Days Later:
That's unusual. Why would that happen? Seems unwise. Well, let's meet the five people. Contestant number one likes to recline around in a Communitst Country, stabbing her spy lovers:
Number two - let's call him Ivan - forgets all his training the moment he sees something in the sky.
Don't worry, friends: aside from the prominent woman in a swimsuit - her profession apparenrtly being "British Bathing Beauty," which it isn't - we have Truth and Science on the case.
The year is 19XX, when you could start to say "German Science" with reassurance again."
It's a high-concept sci-fi movie saturated in Cold War dread. Can't sum it up any better than this imdb summary, written by Craig Chilton:
Five individuals from five nations, including the "Superpowers," USA, USSR, and China, suddenly find themselves on an alien spacecraft. An alien gives each a container holding capsules. No power on earth can open a given container except a mental command from the person to whom it is given. Each person has been provided with the power of life and death. Any of these individuals has the capability to instantaneously launch the capsules to whatever coordinates he/she chooses, and each capsule will then eradicate all human life within a 3,000-mile radius of its designated location.
We see them captured by an unseen but genial-sounding presence. Naturally, the Red freaks, because they're all cowards anyway:
They've all been beamed up to a spaceship, where they sit around wondering if the aliens eat enormous hard-boiled eggs for sustenance.
Then the lead alien appears, and as the genre demands, he's tall, wearing a jumpsuit, does not use contractions, and appears to be SUPER-INTELLIGENT.
This remarkably slack trailer does a poor job of describing the movie:
Science attempts to learn the secret of the devices - I'm sorry, German science.
Let's just say the Rooskies figure it out through their trademark blend of Science and Torture.
And the bronze throw-rug claims the moon!
None of this does the movie justice; it's one of those sci-films predicated on something other than saucers and rays and destruction of iconic monuments. You might wonder why the alien offers us the power of self-destruction? It's because they're high-minded and moral, and will not destroy anything themselves, but if you don't mind our sun is about to explode, so would you all be so kind as to kill yourselves? Kthnxbai.
But there's more to it than that. Doesn't mean it's better or well-executed; it's not. If it was a Country Western band it would be Flatt & Earnest.
A rare on-camera role for the man whose voice was heard in just about every since sci-fi movie of the era, as well as the old Suspense show, and cartoons, and commercials. At this very moment, somewhere in the world, his voice is playing in a Haunted Mansion ride. Paul Frees.
The voice everyone knew, for a while.
That'll do; see you around. Week three of The Search begins. Of course we're not giving up; we have new sightings, and put up 15 more signs the last few days.