The picture above was taken in an alleyway in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, where Daughter was having her senior portrait taken. What you don’t see, for good reason, is the pile of vomit on the ground. Now, it wasn’t particularly fresh; probably yodeled out the night before. It had strings in it.

Life in the city! If she chooses a picture from that location, I’ll always remember that her smile was a testament to her acting abilities, because not only was there a pile of pink puke on the ground, it was freezing. There were other locations that were warmer and cleaner, but the light was right in this spot. Art: it’s a tradeoff.

For example: sometimes you create big moving images meant to be seen in a way that envelopes your senses, and draws you into the story to the exclusion of everything else - but people insist on watching the images on a device the size of a deck of cards. Whaddya gonna do, right?

Michael Walsh was writing about the NFL, and how you shouldn’t watch it - and I noted this:

My solution is even more elegant: simply stop watching television, except for movies and the occasional compelling series -- and these you don't need a television set for; your computer or tablet will do just fine, and news is readily available on the internet for free.

Oh, please. My computer or tablet will not do just fine. A tablet is a tiny little screen, and it’s fit for watching TV shows or a movie on a plane, but there’s a reason I bought a 55 inch 4K TV, and that’s to get the big-screen experience for a medium defined by the big-screen experience. Even watching "Citizen Kane" on a big TV isn't the same as seeing those overwhelming images on the great grey wall.

Even Stranger Things turned out to take great use of the big screen. I was at Traders Joe and overheard the clerk talking to the customer ahead of me: weekend plans, what’s good on TV. Of course no one says what’s good on TV; it’s Netflix, which is the new TV. The customer said she didn’t have time for long shows that went on and on, so the clerk said well there’s Stranger Things, and the great thing is that there’s only two seasons.

She was unconvinced that something called Stranger Things was for her, because perhaps she thought there were nine seasons of Stranger Things she needed to watch first to REALLY GET IT.

When it was my turn the clerk asked how I was doing.

“Episode 7 broke my faith,” I said. “But episode nine redeemed it.”

He had no idea what I was talking about.

Stranger Things?” I said. “Episode 7.”

“The first season?”

“No - c’mon, the punk episode?”

“Oh! I’m only up to episode 5.”

“You’re only up to five?”

The clerk at the next aisle tilted up her head and said “TOLD YOU YOU WERE BEHIND” and the next guy in line said “I’ve finished it.”

“Whoa no spoilers I’m just on episode five.”

“Well then don’t go telling strangers about Stranger Things until you’ve made your peace with episode 7,” I snapped.

All in good fun. Really, this is the joy of Traders Joe: you can assume the staff watches Stranger Things.

Next I went to Infinite Spirits next door. The clerk had a sweater: I STATE.

“Iowa? Indiana? Illinois?” I asked.

“IOWA!” he said, as if there was any question. “They’re number fourteen!”

“In what?”

He was incredulous. “In the rankings!”

Ah, the rankings. Got it. Two stores, same building, common wall, completely different cultures. You never have a conversation about Stranger Things at Infinite Spirits because you sense there is a smothering corporate culture that moves everything along as quickly as possible in all respects, and there’s no room for Netflix convo. It wouldn’t even come up, because everyone’s having joking simplistic chat to cover the fact that they’re buying massive quantities of intoxicants, but it’s different over at TJ’s.


Anyway, Stranger Things has pulled off the best Aliens throwback-callback-whatever sequence I’ve seen, and yes, it includes some people heading into alien-infested tunnels and saying “stay frosty.” Then there’s chaos. FALL BACK! All it needs is Paul Reiser being morally compromised. OH NO WAIT it has Paul Reiser being morally compromised.

But man, episode 7 it is just krep. It has punks. Not actual 1985 punks but TV punks, and they’re all salty, and live in a big warehouse that has anti-social things spray painted on the walls and windows. But their leader is cool and she’s like dark and complicated and when she uses her powers she gets a little nosebleed.

It was a momentary lapse, though. It’s fun. I’m not deeply invested in the sense that some people seem to be; it’s a notch above its 80s antecedents, but it could still be a two-hour movie. The mythology doesn’t seem particularly unique. It’s the idea of kids-on-bikes fighting evil with Dungeons and Dragons vocabulary that works as a nerd-geek foundational myth.

But it’s that damned theme. It’s a DNA-level callback to those of us who were there at the time.


We thought it was the sound of the future; never occured to us it would have more power when it was the sound of the past.



The styles of 1926, taken from McCalls. The height of the Boom. In between the wars.



  I've seen Saltine boxes that have more curves than these styles.

The hats, the parasols, the chinoiserie. All that fringey stuff.


The dream material of the young ladies who died elderly in the 90s.





It's 1947. War's over. There are things to buy and babies to make.

Dark matter usually describes what comes out of my oil pan, too:



Conoco has made better oil by studying the laws of molecular attraction - the same principles that bind the universe together make your car run smoother! And these laws will apply long after you have sold your car and the sun guttered out and every star exhausted its fuel, empty rules unobserved by an empty universe without life or hope.

Drive somewhere and get a hamburger, why don't you. While you can.





I've not encounted the Sexauer brand before, no doubt a source of sniggering for the middle-school set.

Shouldn't that be Mule-Kik? Misspellings mean it's modern.

It's for the "Closet Bowl," because we can't say toilet, I guess.

"Crapper" is right out.



Hey, it's our old friend G. W. French!



Today's modern remedies are inefficacious when it comes to total relief, let alone a quick cure - but be glad you don't live in a time when the only thing you have to combat a cold is Alka-Seltzer.

I don't know anyone who takes Alka-Seltzer for anything anymore. But now I feel as if I should have some on hand.


The earth submits to the mighty hand of man! Wartime industry retooled to shave off the verdant scalp for the rails of transportation!

Beats a Soviet May Day parade:



Text: "Hurry! A roadbed quick for the New York Central to serve a new, important manufacturing plant!"

Apparently no one thought of it when the plant was going up, then thought oh crap we need a railroad there and called up the boys down in the Flying Squad.

I know I know I'll get the paperwork going as soon as we hang up but can you just get some machinery down there and start grading? Hurry! Hurry!


The attempts over the years to convince people that they like, and want, and need Seven-Up in their lives is a study in the old "never-say-die" spirit in advertising. In this case we're Freshing Up at home - a family affair that no longer has the benefits of lithium, but merely refreshes everyone. The heat's on. It's stifling in here and you can't open the windows.



As I've always said: this is a fairly presumptuous slogan.

Ghastly decor, typical 40s:



Dad never lost the shame of staying behind while everyone else served.

Yes, Florida! Land of warmth, where you can go to the beach and smoke while wearing a three-piece suit.



You've traced them here, to this beach. Your wife, and the "buyer" she said was accompanying her on a "business trip." He doesn't look like a Betty, does he now.

You clear your throat. She turns. Her expression is pure frozen horror.

Wha - strawberries? In winter? Yes! Strawberry taste, well, that's anotehr matter.


No stigma attached to Frozen Foods, not yet. It beat the arduous work of putting up the preserves, and the sight of all those boxes neatly stacked in your freezer compartment put your mind at ease: there would always be something to defrost and serve.

And today's new post-war fridges held up to four boxes!

That'll do; see you around.



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