Well, it’s a cold. Woke stuffed and aching. Minor one, though. First in two years, since the really bad one on Queen Mary. No big deal, but since I was probably throwing off virus mist somehow, I worked at home. Did two columns. A nice throwback to Olden Times, since Daughter - also scratchy and stuffy - was not inclined to go anywhere, so it was just us and the dog, the house, the winter views outside, the lazy progress through the day. It’s the best thing in life.
Took down the tree, finally - a bit late; usually do it on the second of the month, but we weren’t here. There comes a point where you don’t turn on the tree’s lights, and it stands there looking a bit abashed and ashamed, as if it had done something wrong. Like it told a joke that was met with silence. Putting everything away is always a sad job, inversely proportional to taking things out. Without the festive items the house is suddenly ordinary, and you’re facing the bleak midwinter without the prospect of gaiety to bear you though it. Now it’s you vs. January.
Anyway. In Arizona last week, after the killing of Mr. S., Soulful Architect of Iranian National Pride, I wrote a piece that was going to run yesterday but has been completely eclipsed by events. Not that anything I wrote was wrong - heaven forbid - but because A) the issues raised will immediately be forgotten, and B) I realized I was arguing with someone who writes in Sputnik, for heaven's sake.
Reflexive anti-Americanism as a default intellectual position is a self-own and I needn’t pile on. I’m just so bored with these people. If they believe we are Klingons harassing the borders of the wise and peaceable Federation - yawn.
If they wave away the deeds of a illiberal theocracy to burnish their internationalist bonafides and declare their membership in the World Community, which as we all know is devoted to Engagement and Dialogue, they are fools. They feel ill-at-ease in their own country, and perhaps have managed to convince themselves that their unhappiness and alienation do not flow from within, but are a natural and rational reaction to being a Thinking Person stuck in the United States.
If they panic about everything, they should be asked two questions: what about the thing you were panicked by last month, and what about the similar things committed by “your side” that did not panic you at all? This isn’t whataboutism - well, no, to be honest, it is, and let me hereby state I am a big fan of whatboutism. I don’t hold hypocrisy as some great sin, because I am not an adolescent who just finished “Catcher in the Rye,” but it is instructive to note what does, and does not, prompt panic. It calls into question one’s commitment to the Ideals that supposedly motivate your actions and statements. If nothing else, we can all learn from the exceptions you justify - maybe you’re right! And maybe there are matters that transcend the smelly little orthodoxies you feel obliged to insist cannot be questioned.
Can be applied to everyone on all sides. Should be. Often.
I hate to say this, lest it be thrown in my face some day, but I do not hate Trump. This seems to be the baseline requirement for entry into political discussions these days - hate or love. Hate is a powerful motivator, and you feel righteous when you stoke your fires. (Political love is another form of hate, because you hate those who don’t love your guy.) I think I would sorta kinda like Trump in an amused, low-key, and meaningless way if he wasn’t President, but just a guy on TV or a businessmen who made news for various reasons. He’s colorful! Nutsy! Brash! And so on.
But he is President, and one of the reasons I opposed him was forged in an interview he did with Hugh Hewitt. I come back to this a lot. Trump did Hugh’s show a lot, and Hugh was asking foreign policy questions. Asked what Trump would do about the Qud forces in Iraq. Trump heard “Kurds” because - I am 99% certain - he didn’t know who the Qud forces were. When corrected, he got spiky, interpreted it as a “gotcha” question, and later insulted Hugh at the debates because Hugh had revealed a shortcoming. Didn’t matter whether that was the intention - it wasn’t - he had temporarily pierced the carapace every narcissist wears, and that required the diminishment and ridicule.
Oh so you’re a shrink now. No; they’re all narcissists, to some degree. Trump has less enamel around the nerve than most. Point is, he certainly knows who the Qud forces are now, and you have to ask what you prefer:
Someone who can give a smooth detailed answer about how they will deal with the Qud forces in Iraq but fails to confront the source and ends up doing nothing of consequence, or
Someone who blows up the son-of-a-bitch as payback for his sins, and to concentrate the minds of his associates.
Again, it depends on your ultimate objective - whether you want to harrow and weaken the mullahs, or use a bouquet of carrots to draw them back into the World Community they perhaps secretly wish to join. If you say it was the wrong thing because it was done by the bad man, thank you for playing. If you say it was the right thing but it was done by the wrong man and hence we have to worry, understand that all men are the wrong men to some people. If you say it was the right thing because it was done by the right guy, thank you for playing. If you say it was the wrong thing done by the right guy, you are Tucker Carlson.
Personally I am glad the SOB is dead, and think it was wise not to respond to the missiles. Everyone knows we could destroy the country’s modern infrastructure and plunge its people into chaos, if we wished, but we don’t, and everyone knows it, but it is necessary for some to pretend that we might. They enjoyed the years of Obama because they saw hints of what they thought America could become, a less-enlightened Europe that could still do good if the proper politicians signed the proper pieces of paper. But I think they are more gratified in the Trump years, convinced that they are seeing what America actually is. Rotten, mad, cruel, and doomed.
Virtuous hate is remarkably satisfying. For a while.
Two thousand souls. Originally called “Paris,” but that Francophilia was soon corrected, and it was renamed after “Charles William de la Poer Beresford, 1st Baron Beresford, (10 February 1846 – 6 September 1919), styled Lord Charles Beresford between 1859 and 1916, was a British admiral and Member of Parliament.” He had a wild life that had nothing to do with South Dakota, at all.
I don’t know why I started here, except to say that the building looks smaller than it is.
Look at the door.
This is odd.
Often a big door meant a garage or car dealership, but that doesn’t seem right. The residential upstairs doesn’t fit. But perhaps that’s what it was.
“I took down the wall between the two buildings, but had to put it back up. People kept tripping.”
OUMB (Obligatory Ugly Modern Bank, if you’re just joining us) - it looks like it’s from the early years of mass-market beige PCs.
The glassy-eyed stare.
Annnnd the “bring back downtown” Buckaroo-revival (not my term, but I can’t remember who coined it; has to do with those damned shingles from the 60s / 70s) awning across several distinct buildings.
Ghost-town effect completed.
This Flickr page says “Built in 1895 by William and Ida Kundert.” Harness making company, if you believe one trade publication, but other entries in other business magazines mention hardware and automobile supplies, sporting goods, athletic gear.
The town could stand a lick of paint, I think.
All that’s left of the other building is the plaster on the common wall, if that’s what it is.
This has the sober heft of a bank, doesn’t it?
Some stories here, I think.
The building that’s gone - can’t say. Fire, or it fell down. The one on the right has a shiny facade at odds with the green painted wood, so it got a refresh at some point by some optimistic merchant.
I can smell what it’s like behind the glass and the dusty shades. The omnipresent smell of old small-town commercial buildings. Dust on the radiators, slowly roasting.
People used to come here once a day; then one person came every day; then that person came by now and then. Now it’s this.
The lummox and his nimble little pal:
The glass block doesn’t quite work.
Originally a bank, of course. Dead sure of it. The pillars look as if they think the other one has cooties and they want to stay away as far as possible.
Next door - an annex for the same bank? Seems too small to be its own bank, and you don’t know why anyone would open up a bank right next to the big one.
An odd little post office, almost somehow New Englandish in style.
The sign of the faraway power, the liege of these lands.
And there you have it! Now a new site in the Urban Studies site, devoted to Portfolios. Those are the thick linen postcards sold accordian-style. They're often tidy ways to collect old views of city streets, and since Serious Collectors tend to shun them, they can be had quite cheaply at the Postcard convention. We start today with Atlantic City. I just realized that if I post all the ones I have, it might mean no Main Streets postcard updates or Restaurant postcard updates.