A rainy day. Fine; rainy mood. I like spring rain, and warm humid days where the sun doesn’t drone on like an idiot trying to tell a funny story, and you’re expected to grin until it’s finished. More than three such days in a row, and you yearn for light. But this was fine.

Had our meeting tonight to see if we're fit to be Rotary exchange family. I think we passed. Although I may have ruined it by saying that one of the trips we could take would be a journey to Fargo. But I was serious. They'll be taking a bus trip to DC and Chicago and other fine big cities, but if you want to understand more of the country it helps to get out in, well, the country. For every shining modern city there are 10,000 small towns with their own history and culture, and a drive up a highway that's not a featureless interstate helps understand the size of this place.

So hell yes Fargo, thank you.

Why would France want to have an international competition to restore Notre Dame? Isn’t this an admission that they’re not up to the task? Is this some attempt to make Notre Dame a European symbol first and a French symbol second?

It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like the White House burns down and the President says “I’m flying to the Netherlands tomorrow to talk to some architects.” Some would applaud the move - global village, we’re all interconnected, invite everyone to participate in symbols known the world over, and more blather to disguise the fact that the input of other nations would be equal to, if not somehow superior to, the ideas of your own countrymen.


Unless you don’t believe there’s really such a thing in the first place. Not now. National identity is just a form of fandom. Intellectual cosplay, where you assume ancient or fictional garb to amuse yourself.

It’s an odd thing to come from the French, who have done such a nice job of being post-nationalist in a way you can only achieve if you’re co-ruler of the post-nationalist order, regard your nation as having quite a few obvious superiorities, and have as a coequal partner a nation that harbors great shame. (Or perhaps great resentment at the fact that it is expected to harbor great shame Or great pride over the fact that it feels great shame.)

Of all the people I’d expect to fix Notre Dame without any outside design input, it would be the French. It makes you worry that the steeple will be rebuilt in a modern style, because after all, the Cathedral was built over centuries and reflected the design of its eras. True. But overall it is an object that displays consistency to the modern eye, because we don’t detect the fine variations between this century’s chisel-work and that century’s style for carving noses of saints.

It is a coherent whole. Put a glass thermometer where the old steeple was, and you’ve put a nose ring on the Mona Lisa.

And now, the Department of Misc presents, for no reason I can think of, the Carpet Preferences of Lucy and Ricky:


It's a big ad for carpet, and I clipped it lawd knows when. As part of my ongoing project to fight my way through the folders of stuff I've set aside over the years, we're going to consider some details. First, look at that house up there: that's a lot of stone.

It has a historical website.

In 1954, Ball and Arnaz moved their family into the informal ranch home Williams designed for them. The house, on a lot Desi reputedly won in a poker game, was located near the 17th fairway of the Thunderbird Country Club and was the first residence completed in the club’s development. 

The lot was later subdivided, with more homes built. By then these carpets had been replaced by other styles. But in Lucy and Desi's era, you could buy . .


  The Bonneville, good for rooms that tended towards the mossy . .
  . . . and the Beauvais, which looks like they selected the patter and dragged it in Photoshop
  It was a time of great nubbiness

You're not missing anything by not seeing the whole ad. But you do need to see this completely unstaged happy domestic scene.

Six years after the carpet-choosing trip, they were divorced.

The lot was later subdivided, with more homes built. This Flickr site says it was owned by Kaye Ballard - who died four months ago.

At home.








Why am I here? Why are we here? What happens after we die? I can answer the first two. It’s a non-main street in a medium-sized town on the Plains, a place that once had more commercial vigor than exists today. Every town of a certain size has one of these - cast-off, tired, half-abandoned, but full of history.

I think that’s why I went here. Let’s see if there’s anything interesting. (Again, I clipped these a while ago, and am now looking at them one by one without looking ahead.)

This is not a good augur.



Hey! That’s nice

Googling . . . uh oh. “Yelpers report this location has closed.” No Facebook updates since 2015.

Nice little shame-door there, Bob.

Once a gas station, always a gas station.

That view, with the old two-story commercial structure in the background, could sum up this entire feature.

If you get the sense of a place time sprinted past without a second glance, you might be right. It's as if downtown just decided to go elsewhere and start anew.

And here it is.

Car dealership? I don’t know. The garage doors and big display windows suggest so.


It’s literally Main Street.


White noise makes it easier to sleep:


"Was there ever anything between? That’s an old ghost.


Pelletier’s. Old pic of the interior of the store at Christmas time, here. The original store was demolished long ago; the store itself closed in 1943, merged into another.

As has happened a thousand times in towns across the nation.

The new - or rather, most recent brick makes it look like the chambers the Pompeii discoverers spoiled when they hit a wall and dug down, destroying the frescos.

What happens when a building goes into the witness protection program, perhaps



They’ll open eventually. It’s this or church.”


It’s like someone pulled the plug



Two ways of dealing with it.

The most recent photos show it’s been spruced up a bit.

Planters. That’ll do it.


That'll do - see you tomorrow.





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