There were six sheriff’s deputies in Lobby Pizza. I should say “Skyway Pizza.” I should say Andrea’s Pizza, since that’s the name, but for some reason I called it Lobby Pizza one day when describing the exciting day ahead to Daughter, and it stuck. All of the deputies were looking at their phones.

This was last week, BTW. I don’t know if they were coordinating tactical plans and catching up on pre-weekend-Capitol-threat instructions, but I doubt it. One of them looked up at the TV and she melted and said AWWW and everyone looked: two cute puppies. Adorbs!

There were two guys in line in front of me, dressed in overalls. Most of the people who come down to Lobby Pizza these days are in uniform of some sort - LEO, construction, maintenance. The days of the casual snarky doughy lads from PR or marketing or web development sites, long gone.

The short square-headed guy who handles pizza orders - he scoops your slice from the tray and puts it to the oven - looked at me and pointed to the last slice of pepperoni / sausage, which is what I always order.

“That’s the one,” I said.

He’s never anticipated my selection before. I had no idea he noted my existence as a thing distinct from the river of patrons.

“He’s good,” the guy in the overalls ahead of me said.

“The amazing thing,” I said, “is that I have half my face covered and he still can tell what I want. I’m too predictable.”

I noted his uniform tag: SHINDLER.

“You guys doing a lot of work these days? Not much wear and tear. Or are you getting stuff done when there’s low traffic?”

It was the latter, he said. Building owners were taking the opportunity to do things now, without disrupting traffic.

Also I was really pleased that I didn’t make the obvious joke, given what they do, and start singing a Spielberg melody.

Later I walked around downtown, hit the IDS center to see if anything had changed, expecting nothing. But no:

They’re fixing the fountain, or revising it, or doing something else. Good time to do it, I guess. Anticipating the time when all will be back.

I noted something on the doors of the 333, the magnificent 80s skyscraper I pass through daily. The new doors have tubes for handles:

Easier to use with your forearm.

The old doors required grasping.

The old doors were elegant, and referenced a historical mode. They said a lot. The new doors are modern and safe.

All these small details, rewritten, revised, altered. It’s not important, really; it’s just a door.

But someone has to note it. And so it has been noted.


The file name: image_marckl_louis_pauline_gaudin_de_witschnau

It's an illustration from a book.

Known in English as The Wild Ass' s Skin is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850).

Let's jump right into the drama:

The text, translated, cuts off at a key moment:

Petrified both, they looked at each other for a moment in silence. Ralphael saw Pauline in a toilet

The description of the book:

Raphaël de Valentin is an unlucky young marquis, ruined and lonely, on the verge of suicide. He owes his survival to an antique dealer, in whom he finds by chance a talisman, a "skin of sorrows" supposed to fulfill the least of his desires. Desperate for his odious life, the young man decides to give in to whims and excesses. He seizes the wealth and the love that had eluded him until then. But every wish expressed shrinks the skin of sorrow, and diminishes Raphael's existence. Aged, ill, he is terrified by the power of this skin which carries with it fragments of his youth. The reckless use he makes of his talisman will force him to fight his new addiction, to avoid the fulfillment of this strange and disturbing prophecy.

I think this page might be this scene:

With the skin no larger than a periwinkle leaf, he is visited by Pauline in his room; she expresses her love for him. When she learns the truth about the shagreen and her role in Raphaël's demise, she is horrified. Raphaël cannot control his desire for her and she rushes into an adjoining room to escape him and so save his life. He pounds on the door and declares both his love and his desire to die in her arms. She, meanwhile, is trying to kill herself to free him from his desire. He breaks down the door, they consummate their love in a fiery moment of passion, and he dies.

Her eyes are bigger than her mouth.

There’s a name; are we to assume this was the model?

Smarter, more learned Persons, who are no doubt French, would know more, and also care.








Eighteen thousand five hundred souls in the 2010 census. What’s more, “Laurel is the principal city of a micropolitan statistical area named for it.”

This is promising:

There’s something perfectly Midwestern about this.

Ugly sidewalk work, though. The curb cuts used to be enough; now there’s a grate of raised metal nubbins so your feet can provide information to the blind.


That would be Wenzl Huttl - really - a tailor who immigrated from Austria. Married a local gal, who bore 14 children. FOURTEEN.

There are still Huttls galore around the area, I’ll bet.

Look at this fine old street!


Don’t you wonder . . .

. . . whether the weathered sign was an homage to old times when it went up? Or has the lot next door been vacant forever?

Most honest store ever:

I wonder what explains the different storefront designs.

You have to think the architect of the latter building felt a touch of shame. The two-story building, however ragged and old, has better ideas than the modern one.

Actually, it has no ideas at all. Except “brick around the window!” Because brick lends dignity, I guess.

On the other side:

One hell of a palimpsest. Probably had all the usual players over the course of time.

I think I just liked the composition on this view.


You can tell two things: the height of the building that’s gone, and the fact that Mr. Sunday’s ad buy preceded the owner’s desire to get some more air in this joint.

Fine building, cruel 70s groovy rehab.

What’s the crest say?

I didn’t know they had a mortgage branch.

All newspaper offices built in the late 40s and early 50s seemed to look like this. At least around here. Kaasota Stone, no ornamentation - a journal of the people!



Who in the name of God approved this terrifying thing? The era of punch-card windows was the worst thing to happen to buildings - and people, and cities - in note entire century of design.

Of course it’s a public building. Few private firms wanted this, unless it was a bank, and they liked it for other reasons.

Why would you build something like the monster above, when you had lessons like this down the street?

Or . . . like this?

The First National, a fine piece of Prairie school.

The building eventually built by Ellerbe and Round for the First National Bank involves a likely case of stolen designs. Looking for a new building, First National officials approached Carl K. Bennett of Owatonna, Minnesota, who connected them with the famous Minneapolis-based architectural firm of Purcell and Elmslie in 1912.

According to several accounts, Purcell and Elmslie drew extensive sketches for the proposed building which they left with the bank officials. Later informed by mail that the bank would not be using them, they requested that the sketches be returned. The sketches were, but only after a delay of many weeks, during which time the bank hired Ellerbe and Round to be their architects.

It appears that their 1913 design made extensive use of the Purcell and Elmslie sketches. Purcell and Elmslie even received several congratulatory letters from people familiar with their work who had assumed the design was theirs.


Love the whole thing,.

Meanwhile, nearby, we have a winner for the King of OUMB:

It has a certain whimsy to it, but this era of architecture didn’t age well. If you’re going to do something pointless, make it pleasing.

Let’s end now by stepping back eighty years.




That'll suffice; see you tomorrow.






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