The roofers concluded the two-day job of putting a new lid on the house. The noise has driven everyone insane. I spent five hours at the office and I was still jangled by it. On the other hand, they woke me up so early I was able to take a nap while they were working, and that includes dog barking. LOTS of dog barking. He cannot believe we are letting these strange men appear and take our house apart.

Well, sorry for this, but I have to do it.

Do you know what I’ve been plinking away at, for ten minutes a morn, for the last month or so?

   

 

   
   

 

I have no idea how this happened, but I do know why. No site is ever fallow forever.

I think Jerry on the Job website goes back to the early Oughts. I wrote it as brief examination of the odd and tiresome convention of comics of the 20s, the way that characters always responded to the mildest of snapbacks by somersaulting, rocketing out of the panel, and so on, reacting out of proportion to the japery. The Flip-Take was in response to the Violently Ordinary Rejoinder.

Well, I finished that site, then redesigned it seven or nine years later, then somehow managed to set aside 60 strips I’d found here and there. The sight of a Jerry on the Job folder with a red dot, meaning not done, nagged me, so I resized all the pictures, and numbered them for some day. About a month or so ago I realized I had to finish Jerry on the Job for good, because I learned several things:

The strip was huge. Wildly popular. Look at this Winnipeg newspaper, putting Jerry in local context, just as the other paper did with Emmett True and his Outbursts.

2: I found a story arc, of all things. Thanks to the invaluable resource of newspapers.com, where I have an all-access super-duper pass, I found lots of old Jerrys, and discovered a very long plot. The strips were one-offs all the way until 1926, when the artist told a story that lasted quite a long time, suggesting that there was a period of linear time in the Jerryverse. (Sorry.) So obviously I had to do something about that.

Why? Because I feel a strange obligation to the old sites, and eventually an obligation to the artists themselves. No one deserves to have their work forgotten. Not when the web is so wide and so deep.


3: At the height of its popularity, the artist embedded hat-tip to other cartoonists in his strip. Like Mr. Sterrett.

4: Its wincing stereotypes aside, I came to love it. It is impossible to enjoy 20s culture without setting aside the things that are manifestly objectionable, and seeing them in their context. Which is rancid, when it comes to race, but there it is, and no one should be surprised.

So I finished the site. What was once a 30-page site that made fun of a comic convention became much, much more, and dare I say the most authoritative Jerry on the Job site on the internet.

The difference between now and the time I first started the site? There’s lots of information on the old comic artists now, including this site and this site. From them I learned that the artist - a fellow named Hoban - decided to bring out some other strips, but they didn’t catch on. He failed and then he quit and then he died. And I learned something else, as you'll see.

Now for the kicker. Wikipedia.

Comics historian Don Markstein :

He specialized in what some call the "flip take", which left the character undergoing it (usually Givney) as flat on the ground as Charlie Brown after trying to kick Lucy's football.

I was surprised to see that, because I didn’t know that was an accepted term in comics. I know I’d used it; where had I gotten it from? Googled the term for images, came up with . . . my site, and also this from TV Tropes:

There are usually two variations. One, nicknamed the "flip-take" is very popular in comic strips and animated cartoons. Early American comic strips often used it in the final panel of a gag. 

Oh, so it was an accepted term in comics. Let’s check the link in the TV tropes piece . . . oh.

It goes to my site. Go back, check the copy I wrote:

“. . . hence the Flip-Take, our term for . . .”

I invented the term. You know, like spit-take, or just a take, a reaction. The Flip-take. AND IT’S IN WIKIPEDIA.

And that is one folder in one subfolder in another subfolder in the vast mess that is lileks.com, of which I am quite proud.

Because I have lots and lots of stuff yet to be uploaded, and 2022 and 2023 are full up in the Comics section update schedule, I'm going to do something rash and put it all up. It began, almost 20 years ago, as a site with 28 pages.

Let's just say it's grown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

For some reason I was surprisd to find out there were only eight thousand souls. Then and now, a center of Norwegian-American society. Every year, a Nordic Fest!

What’s always notable about these little buildings in old downtowns is the side-by-side proof of how different owners and circumstances change the look and personality of identical structures.

Did they have the same owner once, the man who built one, then said “That worked out well. Here are the plans, builder; make me another,” and did he have to sell one years later?

The twins hated each other, but their father knew they both liked to look out the window to see if there were any handsome young fellows coming in from the farms on Saturday, so he accommodated them as best as he could.

The low slung building is like a compendium of half-assery, post-post-modernism division.

 

HAUGEN

Apparent that the bricked off third-floor is original.

Somehow it’s okay when they did it.

Unique OUMB: not entirely U, but an ungainly attempt at “Traditional.”

I’m thinking of renting the second floor to lizard people who like to slither, instead of stand erect.”

That it is.

More peculiar window decisions. I suppose the turret glass was hard to replace. But the other window looks like it’s wearing an eyepatch. Neither contributed to the building’s attractiveness, and makes you realize it was better when it had more glass.

Well, that’s a mess.

So: the long lines of brick indicate it was either a new building in the 30s - 50s, or a total facade makeover. But the second floor is late 50s / early 60s, and doesn’t quite match, and doesn’t go all the way to the edges. A bit unnerving.

You know what this is:

Still open, or rather open now after a possible stint as a flophouse and/or senior housing.

Given the case study of the Haugen, I’m wondering if these were ever unbricked.

I think so. And if that’s the case, DAMMIT, DON’T DO THAT.

Either there’s a day care at the end of the alley or a white rusty van with a sign that says CANDY

There are enough buildings like these; we can applaud the occasional modernization that sacrificed the history for a new modern look on the Main street.

 

The vestiges of the sign tell you a lot about Main Street and the fortunes of national retailers.

Great job filling in that arch, fellas; really adds some pizazz and personality to the streetscape.

Next door: bank, or wannabe.

Never trust the bank in the middle of the block.

JOHN CURTIN

He was proud of the thing and everyone had better well know who built it and spent a little extra for that fancy top. You could charge $5 more a month with a cornice like that.

Ah, there it is, the OUMB in its purest late 70s / early 80s form.

Whoa! The Bank Block.

That thick column in the corner by the entrance was a staple of the times, and makes you wonder if they were making it difficulty for robbers to escape quickly.

Mod . . . modash?

The Google view lets us go back to its previous facade:

Kitschy but fun, and more interesting.

 

Finally:

The Court house, the thing around which the main streets are organized, the civic center, the embodiment of the body politic, the connection to eras and civilizations past.

It’s a wonder they didn’t knock them all down.

That'll do. Did I say there would be less today?

Sorry!

And now there's more!

 

 

 

 
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