Arizona, Day 2.

I just walked from the housing complex to a Starbucks! Yes, you read that right - I walked. In Scottsdale. Ask me anything!

Q. “Did you have to scramble over cactuses? Dodge traffic by walking backwards through the gutters waving your arms to attract the attention of the oblivious motorists?”

No, the entire walk took place over broad clean sidewalks that wound through a variety of local plants, from big cactuses to small cactuses to round cactus-things and buses that had long prickly fingers. It was quite nice.


Q. “Did you choke on the pollution of all the cars? I understand everyone is always driving everywhere.”

I was on 76th by Hayden; traffic was steady. The air had a crisp snap of the desert in winter.

Q. "Where is the Starbucks?"

It’s inside the Fry’s. I’ve had longer walks for the afternoon coffee, but that was back when everyone we visit lived in different places. Everyone has moved. Everyone's lives are different.

Q. “How is everyone dealing with WW3?”

No looting so far. No radioactive ash clouds. Reddish sunset, but I think that’s just how it is around here.

Seriously, WW3? I’m writing this on Friday, so who knows, Russia may decide to launch a zesty array of ICBMs on behalf of Iran in the next 72 hours. Or the US may commence the 3 - 6 month buildup of ground troops necessary to invade and occupy Iran. But I’m 100% sure neither will happen, because those days are over. It’s not the generals who are fighting the last war.

Q. “Did you see an angry looking six-foot-three man with a square jaw wearing a dress and heels at the grocery store?”

I did, and I was convinced it was the IT’S MA’AM guy, who wikipedia says lives in New Mexico. He certainly had the same energy, stalking around with barely-contained fury, as if he was gleaning DOUBT from everyone’s indifference.

Q. “Do you still want to live here?”

Even in this dense area - dense by the local standards - you come across a vista of absolute desolation, and all the manifestations of civilization fall away in a second, without consolation.

Swing around and you see the consolations in their most elemental form:

It's bracing.

I wouldn't mind living here, but it feels like this is where you go to dry up and play out your skein. Florida has more of an appeal in the abstract because it’s greener, and you can live by water. This is like a place to submit to your eventual desiccation mentally before the real thing happens. But I’m not in the mood to submit to the eventual yet, which is different from accepting the eventual. It’s different from the rage-rage-against-the-dying-of-the-light bit, which always struck me as a theatrical bit of business that just makes everyone else unnerved. Good for him, he went off yelling and complaining and weeping and cursing! I’ll always remember how he made noise and coughed and spat, bringing tears of sorrow to everyone at his inability to accept the inevitable.

Look, pal, by your own definition it’s a good night; why the fuss?

You see Old People around here all the time, and they all have stories of Elsewhere. You know it. I was talking to a guy today who had a long history with a big famous company that made big famous things and invented lots of products. Fascinating stuff. The amount of concentrated knowledge and history walking around here is almost incalculable, but there’s no central repository for it, not sense that this is a place of the revered elders whose stories must be told! It’s just Dad or Grandma going to Fry’s for groceries. They’re doing okay down there. They have friends. They’re doing yoga now!

Q. “Can you stop eating?”

It doesn’t seem so. There are so many opportunities. You know how those family things go. Still on the last notch on the belt, though, and I’ve made sure to take regular long walks around the complex during which I can sneak a small cigar. The lefse continues to be irresistible. There are remnant fragments of peppermint bark, which are still in the mix because the holiday decorations have not been put away. If there is a red-and-green table decoration, or a small Santa on the shelf, you can be excused for having a piece of peppermint bark outside of your normal confection-consumption windows.

“Has your daughter discovered any ornamental plates in your mother-in-law’s house that employ the exact same painting as you find in the logo at your grocery story back in Minneapolis?”

How. Did. You. Know?


Good eye, that one.




It’s 1897.

At first glance, “malt powder ad from a beer company” probably isn’t your immediate conclusion, is it?

“Strength of character is based upon mental power normally exerted. A calm mind, steady nerve, and rythmatic action of the intelligence are absolutely essential.”

So do like Lincoln and preserve the union!

It seems like a large claim to make for Malt Extract.

  Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise: SEX SELLS
What I always call the Omega Man typeface.



One of those drugs that cured everything! Which is to say, it cured nothing, but had some drugs that made you feel a little happier, or drowsier.


It was compounded by a man named Dixi Crosby.

Dixi Crosby (February 8, 1800 – September 26, 1873) was an American surgeon and educator at Dartmouth College. He created a new technique for reducing metacarpophalangeal dislocation and was the first surgeon to open an abscess at the hip joint.

On the other hand:

Crosby was also the first surgeon in the United States to be sued for medical malpractice.

He was dead 20 years by the time this ad ran.

  Is it coconut? Is it cocaine? Is it a zesty, scintillating combination of both? Nope: just coconut.
A sovereign remedy - and a prophylactic against! URAEMIC POISONING.

What are the symptoms? Aside from OEDEMATOUS SWELLING, well, DEATH. Also Coma.

So if you see someone in a coma, give them this lithiated water.

I can’t think of a better way to sell bicycles, can you?

Stop the colic that comes from NIPPLE COLLAPSE
Take no others. They were always stern about that. Don’t. Just - don’t.
Wikipedia: “Sapolio was a brand of soap noted for its advertising.” I’ll say.

As the article notes:

Sapolio is often cited in marketing and advertising studies[by whom?] as an example of the result of diminishing or discontinuing advertising. After decades of maintaining some of the best known advertising in the U.S., Sapolio's owners decided that their position was sufficiently insurmountable as to let them discontinue most advertising. Despite the brand's overwhelming market position, it was overtaken by competitors within a few years and disappeared from the market before World War II.

Happens to them all, in the end.


I have spoken. No, wait, I've more: we start the year's examination of H. T. Webster today. I've enjoyed his work since I discovered it in high school, but only through the Casper Milquetoast panels. There was more. There was a lot more.



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