You’re probably wondering about the Keilllor thing, eh?

It’s fun being in a newsroom when things happen. The joint was on fire today. It was like living in Ancient Rome the day a bolt of lightning knocked over a statue of Zeus. You might not believe in him, but you know it’s news.

I write a big thing about it, but I’m going to wait a day. Something else might come out. Or we might be talking about the resignation or dismissal of someone else. Wienie Roast 2017 is just getting started.

This follows from something I mentioned yesterday in passing; when I got home, after I'd finished all the day's work, I wrote it up as the event occured in my head.

SCENE: Church basement. Two people in folding chairs. We see them both in profile, medium shot.

INTERVIEWER (leaning forward, paper in hand): So how do you feel about your Daughter going abroad for ten months?

FATHER (Medium shot. His legs are crossed, arms folded - then he gestures with both hands, palms raised to the heavens, uncrosses and recrosses legs. Smiles): It’s a nightmare come to life, personally, but that’s the least important factor.


FATHER (Interior voice, slight echo) This thing was sprung on me literally an hour ago. When she said she was applying to the Rotarians I thought it was some social-service thing that would look good on a college application. Now I learn that it’s ten months abroad with a host family - NAY, A REPLACEMENT FAMILY, and it starts in June? JUNE? Family summer vacation knocked into the old cocked hat, countdown to departure shaved from nine months to six? Here, Life, my kneecaps! Two of them, quite hale. Kick them, and kick them hard! It seems to be your joy these days.

INTERVIEWER: (Smiles) (Details her own experiences with the program when she was young, and how her kids did the program as well and learned so much and made so many friends)

FATHER: It does sound like a wonderful opportunity! (Interior voice, slight echo)Oh, no doubt! It’s a tremendous program. But everyone’s been scoffing at my predictable, boring complaints about how this is the Last Christmas, and they always say she’ll be home from college next year! It’s not the last! So all of a sudden she’s not coming home for Christmas. Do you know what this means?

It means we decorate the tree because it’s tradition, and then kennel the dog and go to Arizona and I spend Christmas night in a hotel looking at a popcorn ceiling because my wife’s parents sold their homes and moved into, well, Homes. Or my wife goes to Arizona, and I stay back because I’m going to go up to Fargo to see my father. I will be alone on Christmas, visited by four spirits, the first of whom I blame on a piece of underdone potato. Which is just bullcrap, frankly. No one who ever ate undercooked potato hallucinated an old business partner, even if the potato was coated with argot.


FATHER: I’m sorry; I was thinking - no it’s great that she wants to do this. She’s adventurous, wants to meet new people and experience new cultures. On the way here she said she enjoyed our European trips, but the experiences, quote, "were always pier-to-pier. " Because we were on ships. I thought she said Peer to Peer, as in P2P, the internet protocol. Anyway! Ha ha no it’s fantastic.

INTERVIEWER: If there was a medical emergency in the family, would you want her to come back?

FATHER: Yes, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem. Everyone’s hale. My father is 92 and he just drove 300 miles to deliver 8000 gallons of diesel and then he drove across the entire state of North Dakota to walk around the woods with a rifle and shoot birds. He’s invincible.

INTERVIEWER (muted talking, unintelligible)

FATHER (Interior voice, slight echo) The other night he told me he picked up a hitchhiker. Well, he wasn’t hiking; he was walking along the road. My dad stopped and gave him a lift. Native American guy. His grandfather was a code-talker. Smart, grateful, asked for nothing. Upon additional interrogation he said he slept under bridges, and ate at fast-food joints by staying until closing, at which point they gave him food to make him leave. My dad took him to a motel and paid for a night and gave him money in honor of his Grandfather’s service. Okay? Someone like that will live another ten years, or more, because they’re so rare and God needs to have a few examples walking the earth.

INTERVIEWER: I said, how do you evaluate your child’s ability to get along in unfamiliar situations?

FATHER: She’s become quite confident, but knows what’s not wise. Her calculus is certainly looser than mine, but my safety parameters are set too strict. I suspect she would decline a posting to Zimbabwe. I mention this only because someone in the earlier orientation said that someone was sent to Zimbabwe. I do not think I will be depriving my child a life of grand experience if I put my foot down and say “let’s wait a while, and not go directly from a Minneapolis high school to Zimbabwe.” Someone also mentioned Madagascar as a destination. That’s great, island nation, vanilla and all that, but they have plague. I know I am generally protective, which comes from 17 years of having your child’s location in your head at all times, but I think it’s probably okay to say “maybe Denmark? Instead of the place where the fleas bite you and you get buboes and die Medieval style. Do this for your old man.

Okay, it wasn’t like that exactly. I The interview was great and sprightly and informative, and while I hate hate hate the idea of Daughter flinging off for ten months (it’s August, not June, it seems, which hey ho, is better) it’s a great opportunity and of course OF COURSE, Thunderbirds Are Go. I just get to silently scream about the duration and the distance and all that.

The amusing and particularly piercing part of all this: at the end of the interview the wonderful woman who did the questioning said she’d read me since college, and her husband followed me on Twitter.

So I got that going for me which is nice.


I think this is their way of saying "we know these are lame, but there are certain standards in mass-circ magazines that require creaky, inoffensive jokes that you can tell to your mother, prompting at best a slight smile."


If you told the first one to someone, they'd nod, and wait for you to continue.



The second one is rather sly. Then there's this:



I wouldn't say that's a joke. Men wouldn't laugh at it.

Wives certainly wouldn't.

Suspicious? Really? Do I have cause to be?




It'll be months or perhaps years before you see the matchbook or ad or postcard that prompted this visit; I can't tell you why I went there, only that I did.

It’s possible there was something else here, and it’s one of those towns that doesn’t rebuild after a fire but just plants grass, and shrugs.



Yes, it does look like there was something here.


Or perhaps they built a new street on top of the building and put in roads and streetlights and ornamental planners and everything!

Why did I choose this town? There has to be something more impressive than this.



Well . . . not yet. But they do have patterned sidewalks and trees and bike racks, so everything should be snapping back to life any day now.



The sidewalk is wide enough for traffic.


Ah! That’s nice. You know I’m always happy when I see an old marquee that isn’t falling apart, hanging over doors long locked.



Cinema Treasures:"The Capitol Theatre opened in 1934 and closed as a movie theatre in the 1970’s. It is currently the home of the Heath Claiborne Gallery, and serves as a special events facility in a dinner theatre setting."

W. A. Dunlop, eh?



From their history page:


The site of the present Capitol Theatre was originally the WA Dunlap Building, built circa 1922. It was open as a furniture store and undertaking establishment. The building later housed the J.C. Penney Company until the company lost its lease circa 1934. Crescent Amusement Company then began construction of the Capitol Theatre that same year.

Interesting. That doesn’t happen very often.


Whoa: town suddenly got BIG.



The seventies style of large downtown apartment buildings - often for the elderly - was one of the worst things to happen to small towns. Fargo got one. It's a dump now.

Another theater that isn't shuttered? Yes:


Cute little place; more here.

As dead a tableau as you’ll find.

But the lamppost is faux-old, so everyone should be flocking back downtown to shop any day now. I mean, c'mon. It has a banner!



I am sensing a trend.

Even when it was new, it was bad.

What architect would ever be proud of that?



Empty, but it has its dignity. Pretty sure the cornice was stripped. What’s unusual about it?



The tension caused by those small columns on the third floor. It looks as if the building could spring up and sprout another floor.


Some banks look like Roman temples carved out of rocky hillsides:


The original ground-floor windows and door were different. At some point they decided the building needed to be humbled a little.

The door sign says they sell pies now.






Anyway. Then:


The tall building in the distance, on the right? It’s now the Preservation Plaza, an office building. “Enjoy the resurgence of Downtown Maryville and free parking,” says the site. It has a restaurant on the top floor - at least it did when this website went up, which looks like 1997.



More trees, that'll do it.


I love Thursday. It's my second-favorite day of the week. Hope yours is good enough to make you move it up in your estimation as well. See you around!


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