Ah, the warmth. The healing sun! Wait, no, now it’s warm enough for coronavirus . . . eh, nevermind, we’re all going to get it. At least one epidemiologist says so, in the Atlantic. Did I mention last week that I read a story about how people wash their hands but usually forget their thumbs? Once you know you should wash your thumbs you become quite self-aware when washing up. You become unnaturally aware of your thumbs.

UPDATE Just washed my hands, and it seems as if thumb-washing is inextricably bound up in the action, no? Or have I incorporated extra thumb attention into the process because I am aware of the issue

Had the boiler-replacement guys in this morning to do some recon on the system, and discovered some interesting things. The guy who installed a Nest a few years ago did something that screwed with another thermostat downstairs. It didn’t matter because we used the fireplace, and heat from ZONE ONE kept the room comfortable. They fiddled with some stuff and disabled the Nest. I’ll miss it; looks cool. But onward we go.

So I walked into the room that had the inert Honeywell muffin (am I the only one who calls it that? I thought that was a common name) and hello, the heat’s on.

I can tell by the smell. Not by heat, but by the smell. The tell-tale aroma of incinerated dust and sloughed-off particles. Memories flooded back. Memories of being in here when Daughter was a tot. It not only brought back the memories, but the mental state, the set of assumptions and expectations and concerns, as if my brain had been wiped and reloaded with a very old backup. It was uncanny.

Ding! Text from Daughter.

Took me a second, but when I opened it up I saw it was the last of three texts responding to a question I’d sent last night about “how much does it cost.” The hearts were by way of thanking us. I responded that the amount of money only justified one heart, and she should avoid heart inflation.

Then she texted me her first contribution for the college humor site - picture first to set me up, then the caption - and it caught me unaware and I laughed out loud.

I rarely laugh at anything out loud.



Narcos is back! Yes, it’s another series of pointless, bloody labors to reduce the quantity of drugs in North America by a statistically insignificant amount. This season is the second go-round for Mehico, which is as Mehic-o-ramalama-ding-dong as you’d want. Big mansions! Lurid taste in decoration! Tragic characters who might have been legit if society was different! The smart guy who applies sci-en-tifical methods to growing and distribution! The idealistic DEA agent who soon loses his gung-ho sheen and settles into a grinding war that seems to have no end, no winners, just a bloody staggering parade of attrition!

I haven’t watched it yet. Just saying that might be how it goes.

It has, as I probably mention every year, a marvelous theme - sinuous and seductive and untrustworthy.

The first seasons are notable for the Miami-Vice vibe, except it’s “real.” They feel quite 80s, and it’s hard for me not to retcon the era and pretend that I was different than I was, or that I didn’t think differently. I did. But here’s the thing about the past: we often apply our current self-conception to the past, like a change in a Wordpress template that ripples back through time. The most challenging part about the past is being honest backwards and forwards: if I thought that then, and regard that opinion as wrong, am I not in the same state today, waiting to be judged or rewritten by future Me?

Or is that too much of an obstacle to having convictions, period?

I’m sure Past Me in my prior ideological makeup would have been appalled by the CIA actions in Narcos, but I would have experienced them only as news stories or briefs in Rolling Stone. CIA operatives accused of torturing Mexican lawyer. Well, yes, they chained him to a chair and punched him and eventually took off a finger. They wanted the names of the people who had killed an American agent. (This part is true.) The story is not about justice, at this point; it’s just revenge, and how it affects the arc of the country’s biggest drug trafficker. (Felix, the somber man who smokes and stares, also a real guy, who was brought down by his participation in the DEA agent torture.) I would have also been appalled by the headline that said CIA agents kidnap Mexican businessman, and now I’m watching the scam unfold and come to fruition, and grinning: nice work. I mean, you’re bailing out the ocean with teaspoons, but at least these carbones are getting what they deserve.

None of it will stop anything, because people want to take drugs, and the customers are the reason for the cartels. If the cartels wee selling rock-hard Dots that taste like insecticide, they would not make money. Then again, if the political and social infrastructure of Mexico was not so pliable, the society not so striated, the poverty not so profound, you might have gotten off the mat earlier and made a more successful country.

I love Mexico; I think it’s a fascinating place, and I wish it all the best. It’s just amusing, in a grim sort of way, to note how the North American countries form their own object lessons in culture. Why isn’t Canada more like Mexico? Why isn’t Mexico more like Canada?




It’s 1972.

Hah hah it’s been years since guys who dressed like this killed a lot of people and poisoned who knows how many with bad hooch

It’s an odd way to assure customers you’re honest, isn’t it? Unless they’ve given up hope. I mean, even the non-lethal interpretation of “taken for a ride” isn’t good.


  Anything that brings back the 70s as fully and completely as this fills me with substantial dread and sadness

These are newspaper ads, obviously. I don’t know why I chose this one, except . . .

. . . that floral-print sofa would end up in the front room covered in plastic, until it moved to the basement, and then someone's house in college when they left the dorm to live with friends, and then it went to the porch, and then the curb.

Oh Lawd that typeface.

Perhaps my point here might be . . .

. . the number of store names that have gone out of business. Wikipedia:

Gatelys Peoples Store was a department store at 11201 S. Michigan Ave, in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. It was described as "the biggest store on Michigan Avenue”.

James Gately purchased the Peoples Store in 1917 and added his name. The store thrived until the late 1960s, when the economy of the area changed. The Michigan Avenue store closed in 1981, while another store in suburban Tinley Park lasted until 1994.

The mostly abandoned structure in Roseland, which ranged from three to five stories in height, was engulfed by an extra-alarm fire during the early morning hours of June 7, 2019. Demolition crews began razing the structure later that day.

There are remnants.






“Built-in 8-Track” - why, it’s practically future-proof.

They’re still around - they specialize in home tech.

That’s an ever-so-cheerful tagline.

Tell me this isn’t an early 70s set-up: "After a deadly confrontation with the racist local sheriff in the town's whites-only bar, the half-Apache, Pardon Chato, flees into the unforgiving desert. Hell-bent on making Chato pay, the famed former Confederate officer, Captain Quincey Whitmore, assembles an angry posse of blood-thirsty men; however, who is the hunter, and who is the hunted?”

I’m guessing the hunter is actually the hunted.

Groovy homes for young modern people who like the idea of burnt-orange tile floors:



Here it is.


Quite the substantial Tuesday Bleat. Will tomorrow tax your patience as well? We'll see.




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