The temp got up to 10 today, and it felt like 40. I suppose that’s why we stay. That, plus inertia, mortgages, habit, and the immense weariness that descends when you consider starting a new life elsewhere, since you’re just dragging yourself along and will actually not be a different person.

Although there have been places where I have felt like a better person, which is certainly different. There are climates that make me happier than this one. There are several, in fact. But I don’t know what I would do there.

Hey, wait - since we can work from home now, does it matter where home is?

When it comes to a newspaper, I think so. Also, I expect we will be brought back to the office by the late summer or fall or early 2022 or perhaps by 2037, and also, I talked to a guy today about putting in a new fence. He says the cedar supply chain is empty. Everyone's hurting. Why? COVID, probably, but in an unexpected way: people were home now, so they put in a new fence. Same reason ovens are hard to come by. Once the cedar pipeline fills up, though, it's johnny-goes-to-town!

Note: he did not say this. No one has ever said that. But you know what I meant, right? It has the same cadence as Katie-bar-the-door. If you said it to someone they'd nod, thinking perhaps "My knowledge of archaic American vernacular did not include this phrase, but I will give no outward indication I am unaware of it."

Anyway. We'll put in a new fence, come spring. Not a small expense. There’s a lot of fence. But it’s 20 years old, and it looks it. I could get by with a fresh coat of stain, but there are too many boards with rotted feet, and one of these days Birch will hit the fence to chase a squirrel and go right through like the Kool-Aid Man. Maybe we’ll get the kitchen just the way we like it, too.

That will be the sign to move.

A sign unheeded, I’m sure. A year ago I was looking forward to going places, and after the last year I don’t think I’ll go anywhere ever again. This, I know, is probably just pandemic psychology talking. Or whispering in an evil, cozening tone. But . . . dang. Anyone else feel like they just lost the plot? Or rather had the book come to a conclusion with 200 pages left?

Part of it might be due to feeling disconnected from a shared space - the workplace - and connected to a place that does not actually exist, and seems increasingly foreign, i.e., online. You see the shift in mores and beliefs happen in real time, reinforced by humorless Javerts. I mean, I used to count on people in the press to be in fabor of things like Free Speech, but . . . well. 




There’s backstory to one of the piece’s authors, who strikes me as an utterly third-rate mind without any leavening agents such as intellectual humility or a sense of history beyond the early years of Nickelodeon. The idea that people are using a private means of communication that is - what’s the word? - PRIVATE, well, it just galls. Misinformation might be spread! No - it’s probably being spread! People are saying things and using words and there’s no one from Snopes or Politico to stop them and say “hold up now, let’s run that assertion past our panel of people whose vested devotion to a particular set of ideological concepts do not align with yours, but are considered True because they believe in all the Good Things.”

There's a spirit of busybody bossy vengeance abroad in the land, and I hate it. And by "land" I mean that nowhere place that shapes the culture. On the real land, the ground is covered and frozen hard, but in a few months some guys will come by with machines and bury wood in the earth. It'll look great. I can't wait to see it. I can't wait to catch the scent of fresh cedar for a day or two, sitting in the twilight in the gazebo, wondering what year it is exactly, and not particularly caring.





It’s 1922, and we're in Grand Forks.

The Gummer Case:

Eighteen-year-old Marie Wick of Grygle, Minnesota (note: actually Grygla) had gotten off the train in Fargo, North Dakota and was going to spend the night at the Prescott Hotel. When she checked in, she asked to be woken up at 6 AM so that she could get ready for the train ride out of Fargo to visit her aunt.

On the morning of June 7, 1921, Marie’s body was found inside her room. She was gagged and tied down to the bed with the bed sheets and a blood stained pillow case. She had been raped, choked, and strangled.

Gummer went down for it. But:

In 1934, three people came forward claiming that they knew who had actually killed Marie Wick. It was two men named Arthur James and Blackie Carter.

Arthur James was investigated and there was no evidence to prove he was anywhere near Fargo at the time of the murder.

As for Blackie Carter, he was located ten years later, in 1944. The States Attorney Ralph Croal found Blackie at a filling station and, after interviewing him, believed that Blackie had murdered Marie, not Gummer.

It was this discovery that led to William Gummer receiving his pardon 23 years after being convicted of murder.

They probably gave him a double sawbuck and a new suit.


  And therein hangs a tale, no?



Stay with me: this is interesting.

By 1912, Townley owned considerable area near Beach, North Dakota, and was being called the "Flax King of the Northwest". In August 1913, a freak snowstorm together with the fluctuations of a speculative grain market ruined him financially, causing an abrupt change in vocation.

Politics, in other words.

In 1916 the Nonpartisan League candidate, Lynn Frazier, won the North Dakota gubernatorial election, and in 1919 the state legislature enacted the entire NPL program, consisting of state-owned banks, mills, grain elevators and hail insurance agencies.

However, the political winds soon turned. Newspapers and business groups portrayed the NPL as socialist, and the NPL's lack of political experience led to infighting and corruption. Frazier became the first U.S. state governor to be recalled - the only one until California's Gray Davis in 2003.

Townley's popularity declined along with the NPL. Near the end of World War I, Townley was arrested in Jackson County, Minnesota for "conspiracy to discourage enlistments," based on League pamphlets that questioned the motivations of the American war effort. He was convicted by a jury hand-picked by a virulent anti-League judge and served 90 days for the offense in 1921, after appeals were exhausted. One of the only other inhabitants of the Jackson County jail was a boy who was serving 30 days due to his inability to pay the fine for stealing an old automobile tire. Townley paid his $25 fine and gave him train fare home.

Finding himself increasingly irrelevant to NPL affairs, he drifted from one failed project to another. He founded the short-lived National Producer's Alliance in 1923, and later promoted the drilling of an oil well in Robinson, North Dakota in 1926. Through the depression he lived hand-to-mouth as a traveling salesman.

Townley was an insurance salesman, trying to raise money to pay his legal bills, when he was killed in a car-truck accident near Makoti, North Dakota on November 7, 1959.

Not a lot 'round Makoti. It's not like you can't see the other guy coming.

Our old friend Briggs takes a dig at the gootchie-goo coven:


  The simpler times look back at the simpler simpler times.


Here's the town in the Old Country!

They were quite proud of this one:

  The genius of Grand Forks, the city some call the Fargo of the Further North!

The music room. I’d love to know what it looks like now.

It's still there. And it's bigger!

Finally, some scandalous hot stuff from DeMille:

Wikipedia: "Saturday Night is a 1922 American silent romantic comedy film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Leatrice Joy, Conrad Nagel."

It’s a comedy?

Get a load of this carload of cliches:

Shamrock O'Day, a poor laundress dreams of a marrying a rich man. Her neighbour Tom McGuire, the chauffeur of socialite Iris van Suydam, is secretly in love with his mistress. On the other side of the city, Iris is not happy with her pampered life and she dreams of living in a vine-covered cottage. Her rich young fiancé Richard Prentiss is just as tired of women of her class as she is bored with men of his.

Whole synopsis is here.

Or you could just watch it now!



That'll do. See you tomorrow.




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