Phone rings as I’m slicing the meatloaf. (That was not a figure of speech.) I see it’s my dad, so of course I pick up.

“How’s Natalie thinking about your weather?” he asks. I tell him I sent her a picture of the weather story in the paper, with the -30s / -60s headlines. She sent back the word “PARADISE” but also confessed that she missed the snow. The cold, no. The snow, yes. I asked him how cold it was in Fargo.

“Oh it’s 30 below,” he said. I asked if he went to West Acres Mall this morning to walk around with the others and have the traditional morning coffee. I think it’s the best part of his day and it’s a damned shame it has to be the first.

“When I walked in this morning I said my throat hurt,” he said. “They asked if I was coming down with something, and I said no, I had to swallow my pride, because I was walking in doors today.”

Wait - what?

“Don’t you always walk inside the mall?” I said.

“No, I walk outside,” he said, laughing. “It’s what a man does. You don’t worry about how cold it is.”

“How cold was it yesterday?”

“Oh, twenty below.”

“And you walked around the whole mall outside at 7 in the morning.”

“Well, sure. But it was too cold today.”

“Did you go to work?”

“Yes, I had to deliver some oil-“

“Still short a driver? How far did you have to go?”

“I just delivered some pallets around town.”

So he loaded up the pickup instead of one of his semis, and probably used the Tommy Lift to get the barrels off the pallet on the lift, then down to the ground, and I presume someone took it from there, although I remember him rolling those barrels around on their bottom rim.

In case you’re joining the Bleat a bit late, my father turns 93 this year.

In the apple-falling-a-certain-distance-from-the-tree department, I left the house at eight, when it was 22 below, because the store had a sale on ice cream and it ended today.









I am suspicious of all internet outrages. We all should be suspicious. If a story about an Internet Outrage quotes a couple of tweets that vow to never use the product / patronize the chain / etc, you should probably consider the percentage of the population doing anything about the issue is .002%, if that.

Having said that, here's a recent Internet Outrage: People have issues with this Netflix show that features a nice lady telling you to throw out things. She's getting knocks for telling people they should part with their books, if they don't "spark joy." Ridiculous! Not everything has to spark joy! What if it's Dostoevsky? Not a hell of a lot of joy there, ya perky puritan. What if I need that book in nine years? It stays right where it is, on the pile on the floor next to the shelves.


How about a v. clean set of shelves with an iPad that has a massive section of books inside?

Can I have that?

Also, you are permitted to throw out your knickers.


The preferred model of the smart person is someone whose living space is overwhelmed with books - piled on tables, chairs, shelves, heaped in the corner. Occasionally the occupant will think “now, what was it that Arnold Hasgrove said about agrarian populism in the late 19th century? I just saw that book - ah, it was on this stack. Shoo, cat who is sitting atop these emblems of learning! Ah, now let me adjust my pince-nez, and see . . . yes, here it is, the exact quote I was looking for. But I think also I shall get lost in this passage while the dust motes swirl in the late afternoon light, for I live the life of the mind.”

Nothing wrong with that; if that's what you wish, enjoy your life. As long as your dwelling doesn't consist of cramped tunnels that lead from fridge to chair to bed, and everything else is books and circulars and magazines and paperbacks by the bushel, never read, but picked up for a quarter when the library was winnowing its stacks back in 1985. Then you have a problem. You really on't need the 1991 catalog from MacWarehouse until you're still carrying a torch for the phone-support blonde in the lower-right hand corner of the cover.

One tweet noted that the loss of prominent book collections meant you couldn’t judge someone as easily as before. Another noted that book collections are a way of reminding ourselves of our own constructed identities - you look at the spines, note the authors and topics, and you are reminded of who you are, or rather who you wish to be at your best.

Both are correct. It has been my experience over the years that if people have explicitly political / social books in abundance, they are not really interested in contrary observations, no matter how genially offered; criticize the citizens of the shelves and you are criticizing them in an intimate fashion. The oft-expressed desire for a “conversation” on these matters rarely results in such.

As I have noted here, I winnow all the time, and have mostly reference books now. They say to me:

These are things you are interested in, and as such, these are the topics that make you You.

By no means do they make you unique. Keep that in mind.

Now that I think about it, he said, spitballing for no particular reason, having a lot of art books of a certain sort is a political statement: if people suspects that your choice of subjects implies a rejection or at least a lack of interest in modernism or other cultures, they infer things.

My architecture books would be a rebuke to some, since they're focused on particular eras and styles. I don't have any books about other styles or cultures because I am not interested in them. At all. I know it's a sign of a robust and well-rounded mind to be utterly fascinated by everything, but I'd rather spend the time knowning more about what I'm interested in. I mean, there's no way I could begin to pretend I care as much about Japanese art as I do about Western art. I know it has its own complexities and meanings I don't understand or recognize, but I simply don't care.

Then again, my books are rebuke to my own culture, since the architecure and art they contain are better than the tiresome products of the contemporary art establishment. This remarkable article in Forbes - not recent, but recently discovered - contains some gas-inducing quotes about the function and purpose of modern architecture, and it’s basically this: the brightest minds of the profession believe it is the duty of the architect to startle, confront, unnerve, dissolve, destroy, and also whip out the willie t irrigate the fusty bourgeoise notions like beauty and tradition.

The article discusses a piece that took modern architecture to the woodshed, where it said "look at this woodshed. It's more humane than anything you design." Someone wrote a defense, but had to be honest with himself:

Yet Betsky then admitted, “All those critiques might be true.” They are irrelevant, he claims, since architecture must be about experimentation and the shock of the new. (Why this should be the case he does not say.) And sometimes designers must stretch technology to the breaking (or leaking) point: “The fact that buildings look strange to some people, and that roofs sometimes leak, is part and parcel of the research and development aspect of the design discipline.” Ever brave, he is willing to let others suffer for his art.


Most of the new buildings going up in Minneapolis play it safe. One after the other, the residential towers and blocks of flats hew to a particular model that’s non-controversial. They are square with a few bits of flair on the facade. The end result may be stark, but it is not displeasing:


These will age well, inasmuch as they do not try to blare out whatever contortions the tech of the day made possible. I’ve railed for years against the Guthrie, a starchitect product I’m supposed to love - but for God’s sake, this is just unfriendly.

Does this say "theater" to you? Is blue glass what you'd choose if you were designing a structure for an old industrial district made of brick and stone?

The ongoing project to unmoor Western Civ from its roots can only be enabled by people who believe the world has to be remade with its core memory wiped. I don’t share their hatred; why do I have to be forced to experience it, over and over again?

Somehow this relates back to Marie Kondo, but I'll be damned if I know how. I've written myself into a corner! Help!




It's hard to keep this from becoming an advertising feature, or a main-street-type feature, but I can also tell you I don't care. Because sometimes the trip ends up in unexpected places, and this is one such entry.

Two completely disconnected things today from 1916. Neither would be a Clippings entry on their own, but together? They’re two insubstantial things on the same page. So there’s that.

I just couldn’t get rid of this next sequence, because it’s an early example of teaser advertising. It was substantial, a big ad, and it appeared in a 1916 New York Tribune. I may be wrong on the date, since the product was introduced 6 years earlier. Perhaps this was a relaunch or a reminder. Anyway. Ad # 1

  And the next day . . .

And the next. There's a hint in this one.

What do you think the teaser campaign is promoting? I left some white space below so you could whistle the Jeopardy theme and write down your final answer.


Wikipedia says the cigarette was introduced a few years before the date I have on these ads, and that would be a real head-scratcher if it mattered. In the same paper, in the comics section, there were daily ads for a place called Rogers Peet. An indication of how times have changed.






Rogers Peet was a men's clothing company founded on November 6, 1874. Rogers Peet introduced several innovations into the men's wear business: they attached tags to garments giving fabric composition, they marked garments with price tags (the established practice was to haggle), they offered customers their money back if not satisfied, and they used illustrations of specific merchandise in their advertising. By 1877, it was headed by William R. H. Martin.


The company's reputation was strong enough that the song "Marry the Man Today" from Guys and Dolls mentioned Rogers Peet as one of the finer things in life:
(Adelaide): Slowly introduce him to the better things; respectable, conservative, and clean
(Sarah): Readers Digest!
(Adelaide):Guy Lombardo!
(Sarah): Rogers Peet!
(Adelaide): Golf!
(Sarah): Galoshes!
(Adelaide): Ovaltine!


In 1919, Cole Porter wrote about them in the song "I Introduced" from "Hitchy-Koo Of 1919": Refrain:
[...] I presented Mister Peet to Mister Rogers [...]
Other couples the character claims to have introduced are Morgan/Hajes, Lord & Taylor and Moet & Chandon.[2]
The last Rogers Peet store closed in the mid-1980s. One of their green delivery vehicles can be seen in a street scene in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's.


I remember the name from an old ghost ad I saw in New York, and I can’t place where. It’s gone now, I’m sure - the block had been cleared for a new office tower, completed at least 16 years ago.

The name stuck in my head, and I was pleased to see it appear briefly in one of my favorite movies, “I Wake Up Screaming.”


Which location was that? Well, we can use the ad, which listed four locations, none of which square up to the painted ad, wherever it was. It was here.

That’s from the 1939-1941 New York Property Tax photo database, a remarkable resource for IDing the quotidian details of the street at the time. It’s the location outside of the Public Library on 5th.

Which leads us . . . to this fellow.

That was his job: hold up the sign to indicate which record this would be.

Somewhere in the bowels of the building where the old records are kept, there must be a piece of paper that gives us his name. But I doubt it’ll ever be matched to his face.

It's the Eighties! Let's do coke and vote for Ronald Reagan! See you around.



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