I put together a fire pit today. Obviously, if I’m talking about it here and not making a big deal out of it in a column, it went well. Lousy design, though. I don’t know how people with big hands and sausage digits would do it. You had to get the screws in just so, and they mated with all the enthusiasm of an arranged marriage. Of course one screw fell into the depths of the assemblage, but spares were provided - their way, I think, of recognizing the kludgyness of it all.

It will provide warmth for nice fall evenings, of which there will be seven. Its predecessor was cheaper, and had to go when I detected a hissing sound that did not emanate from where the gas was supposed to come out. It also had a tendency to not ignite when you clicked the button. Click, click, click, click, click, FWOOMPH. It had ten settings for the flame, which came down to ALL ON and “guttering out.”

Cheap Chinese stuff, of course. Makes you wonder if American versions - surely there were one, once - were better, or whether we made cheap junk, too. I’m sure we did: the market fills all niches. But when you bought it down at the hardware store and told Bob about it later, Bob would probably not order them any more, because he felt bad he’d sold you something he didn’t know was krep. Now if you complain to Home Depot, it goes in a database, and as long as the number of aggravated customers is below a certain level, it’s the cost of doing business. Besides, they already ordered from another company. There’s always another company over there stamping this stuff out.

I’ll have to get another tank of propane tomorrow. Always hate doing that, because the person at the store picks up the empty and gets a look that says “heck, you could get 10 more burgers out of that.” But I know this one is empty because I did not, in fact, get 10 more burgers out of it.

The old one went out on the boulevard a while back for the trashcan, with a notice that it was junk, unsafe, did not work, and leaked. I should’ve added “has rabies” because it was gone before the junkmen arrived. The scrap gleaners move in the middle of the night.

The other day Daughter sent a message with this, with no explanation or context:

  I asked what prompted that, and she said it just popped up in her twitter feed, for some reason. I said I found the big guy a little unnerving, because he had no mouth, and she said no, the little guy was worse. True: he could scrape your face off with that  maw.

Thing is, she shouldn’t remember that. It’s too distant. Pre-K? Maybe. Morning TV. We had an allotment. I worked at the kitchen island, she watched Rolie Polie Olie, then . . . oh, I can’t say exactly. Elmo, until he became too unsophisticated. Stanley. Out of the Box. Clifford. Dragon Tales. Backyardigans. Various degrees of enjoyment. As any kid will tell you, lousy TV is better than no TV.

Tiny Planets was fine. It wasn’t mindless, it tried to Teach Lessons, but logical ones. Problem solving. The only reason I paid it any mind was the theme.

The YouTube comments are full of deep, sweet angst.  There’s the bittersweet nostalgic reaction, and then there’s tears. Why? Obviously, because you were a kid, and everything was warm and safe, and now you're out bodysurfing the belt sander of life.

But this one seems to hit people harder. The clarity of the melody, the cheerful hopeful tone, the guitar solo that takes you by the hand, perhaps.

It probably affects me more than Daughter. That was the last show before the TV went off, and was replaced by computer-game sounds. Educational games, mind you. I ripped as many as I could, but not enough; the disks got scratched, the OS changed so the programs could no longer run.

Think about that. You spend your childhood enjoying these things, and then the tech changes and nothing works. It’s like going to the library and seeing a Winnie-the-Pooh book, and you try to take it down from the shelf, but it’s stuck. If you do get it down, the covers won’t open. If you pry them apart the pages are blank.

So thanks to the people who upload these things:

But those accounts will go away, vanish, get suspended, change, edit, whatever.

The lesson: download everything.

This has the exciting title of “Supplying the Halles, sketch for the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.” Well, if art is going to valorize the streets and the common man, it had best get to it.

Wikipedia: "Léon Augustin Lhermitte (31 July 1844 – 28 July 1925, Paris) was a French naturalist painter and etcher whose primary subject matter was rural scenes depicting peasants at work."

He did his own Gleaners, and it’s interesting. But back to the painting above:

You can understand why some were thrilled by the new style, and formalists were annoyed.








Our first look at the New but possibly not Improved Kensington. The locals call it New Ken, Wikipedia says. There are about 13 thousand of them.

This . . . isn’t hopeful.

But I start wherever I start, and this was the first thing I saw. It has to get better - I’ve two folders for this town, so I clipped a lot. Either we’re in for fantastic quantities of decay, or it gets cool and interesting.

Another empty lot, this one reclaimed by nature, with a nice gazebo so you can contemplate the ghost:



This is rare:

I’d say . . . 45? 46? It’s the color that says so, to me at least. The materials and the hues are rarely found intact these days. It might have spent forty years under something else, but I don’t think so.

Oh god no

Doesn't look permanent, thank heavens.

My heart, she stops, and I am in love:

Did they freeze this town? Was it covered by volcanic ash?

All the original details:

If it was buried by a volcano, at least we know it hit in the mid 60s.

I love how it’s glaring at the two-angle-window building across the street, who glares back.


GENE had a nice store.

Can you fill in the blanks? It’s not hard. Again, he must have done well to pay for a front like that.

The CLOSING sign is still in the window. For how long, you wonder.

Hmm. Why did I snip this old building? It’s handsome, but noting special.


Jeez, that took out a chunk.

Again, what it was. I wonder what happened?



Say, that’s a nice little building, with lots of terra-cotta add-ons to give the street some class. Give it a little more love, and -



A neighborhood historical / preservation org has a Facebook showcasing the terracotta bits they saved. It says the building was lost to fire.

Annnnnd again.

Whew: something sturdy, stable, and built for the ages.

You’re waiting for a punchline, right? No; still there.


Ah, but that's just part of the story. More next week.



  That will  have to do. Tomorrow: Friday! In case you didn't know.





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