And there it is, the boon of civilization. The thing that makes life tolerable, and bears us through the worst of the day. Also, there’s air conditioning!

Kidding. They’re probably drinking iced tea - with those cubes that came from another brilliant invention.

Look at that poor man, coming home from a hot office with one fan indifferently shoving the air around, or a miserably humanly humid commuted train. When he steps inside, it will be a tonic to the soul and a sign that he is home, where life is goof, even if the drapes look like birch trees with a mossy-fungal condition.

Who’s the guy who has such keen interest in our hostess? Obviously he’s not coming home from work. He put on a suit to come over for cocktails, because that’s what one does.

The women are communicating a private protocol with their hand signals.

One last thing: before hubby gets to the front door, he has to pass through another furnace blast from the backside of the machine. But that will be his final trial.

Well, we had a wonderful Fourth, and I mention it only because it was different from recent iterations, but similar to the days of yore. We all used to gather here, at Jasperwood, for the Fourth - the Giant Swede's family,  the Crazy Uke's family. I have pictures of them all as very small humans holding out sparklers, miming awe at my firewords, laughing sticky grins over a slice of watermelon. The tradition abated in recent years, but this year - after all we've been through - it seemed right.

To see all our kids grown and prospering, clever and capable and talented and fully inhabiting their individual grooves  . . . well.

As with most hosted events, I have a blurry memory of it all, since there's the prep and the cooking (hey let's stand by a 500-degree grill when it's 91 out!) and the serving, and then it's a celebratory shot of the good clear cold stuff, and then you want to take a nap.

It couldn't have been better. The whole damned day. From putting up the big flag to taking it down at sunset, carefully folding it correctly, then heading over to the neighbor's for firewords, exploding over our heads like a private personal birth of the universe.

Summer now settles into the permanent rhythms, the newness gone. It is anything but permanent, of course, but it feels like it, and that's what we love about the month.











I was trying to explain the strengths of Bosch to wife and daughter, who were casting around for a new show to watch.

Typical cop shows are like this - sorry, sorry, it's "cop shows be like" in the modern parlance. Cliches: quips and moody lighting in the station, cops who shout “let’s roll” after someone did some fast typing and called up a camera that showed the person who was never a suspect getting into the car ten minute before the murder, and zoomed in on the license plate, then the back of the REAL KILLER, then zoomed in on a birthmark on her shoulder, WHICH PUTS HER AT THE SCENE.

Bosch is not typical. The station is realistic - cluttered, unglamorous, but not beaten and stained and weathered to reflect the Cop’s Lives. It’s often about petty politics, in storylines that meander and have unsatisfying conclusions. The hero is solid, depressed but not Wallander-depressed, has inexplicable tattoos, and cocks his head to the side a lot. You find yourself cynical about mayoral races. When there is gunfire, which is rare, it is hard and shocking. Also, lots of weary jazz played at night on a turntable, although that feels like an authorial tic grafted onto the character. There is a dog, but not a lot of dog.

That doesn’t quite capture it. You can’t quite find anything specific that makes it great, but it has rabid fans. (Of which I, foaming, am one.) It’s just solid. One of the things I enjoy derives from the source material: there are usually two stories going on simultaneously, two crimes, and in contravention of all the cliches, they do not combine in a stunning revelation at the end. They’re just two stories, because cops work many cases at once.

It is also pro-cop, inasmuch as it holds forth the possibility of good cops. (It also has bad, very bad cops.) It was rather unsympathetic to cop protestors a few seasons ago, or at least it was cooly neutral. It was also unsympathetic to 3-percenter cop haters. I wonder if the audience is mostly people who are inclined, in the end, to believe in the Good Cop ideal without having to add a dozen caveats to the sentiment so it is acceptable to polite society.

Something I saw online but did not penetrate my twitter feed: the guy who created COPS died. In Mexico, heart attack, during a Motorsport event. The obit noted that the show was quite popular, until George Floyd, at which point it was removed from television, because we can’t have that.

Pity. It’s a fascinating artifact. No one would set out to intentionally collect the anthropological details of shirtless intoxicated drunken Iowans, but thanks to COPS, we have a record.



It’s 1965.

Brighten up with a Micronite Filter!

Imagine that: a cigarette for people who smoke.

About that filter, though.

Kent widely touted its "famous micronite filter" and promised consumers the "greatest health protection in history". Sales of Kent skyrocketed, and it has been estimated that in Kent's first four years on the market, Lorillard sold some 13 billion Kent cigarettes. From March 1952 until at least May 1956, however, the Micronite filter in Kent cigarettes contained compressed carcinogenic blue asbestos within the crimped crepe paper.

You’d think it wouldn’t be hard to keep asbestos out of these things.

Coupon cigarettes: we’ll get you hooked for a whole new reason.

I’d never heard of Galaxies.

I love this picture. Gilbert  Gottfried assists a desiccated Lorne Greene:

Your gas station operator is trained to send you to a good family restaurant and never gets a kickback at all, no sir.


I remember these. Texaco had a huge version, a Rand McNally map book with Stuckey tie-ins. I spent hours looking at lines wandering through the country, imagining what a Stuckey might be like.

I assume the campaign used many pieces of classic art.

The art, I also assume, had to match the preferred palettes of the day.

The joke would have been a bit more immediate at the time, when the term was all over the magazines smart people read.

You have to note the absurdity of modern art revealed by this photo. The picture of the Campbell’s soup can is worth virtually nothing, simply because it came after Warhol’s ironic repositioning.


I’m not sure that "COME TOUCH!" is the best way to sell this.

But what a boon! This was the true sign of luxury. The next level. It was as if the ice came in infinite quantities from a different dimension, summoned at a touch.

Clunky, to modern eyes - but it looked new and different and rugged! Also stylish, because obviously women like to drive it.

The commuter train image didn’t resonate beyond certain cities, I think. No guy who wanted to head into the countryside felt a kinship with the typical cliched East-Coast commuter.


Larger version here.

This is a perfect sign of the Great Shift from old names and logos. Everyone modernized their logos, and the bold new shapes went up coast to coast. No one really loved them. In fact it’s possible a lot of people felt alienated when everything got abstract.

What does that shape mean and what does it have to do with gas?

Nothing, of course. That’s the point. It’s supposed to signify the availability of a product. Could be paint. Could be an airplane.

That'll do; our weekly visit with Mr. Williams awaits.



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