I had coffee with a candidate for mayor today. Which one? You ask. Will he win? Well, he had coffee with me, so take that for what it’s worth. Then again, I am a Member of the Media. I would never endorse anyone, though. It’s not what I do in that space.

It was interesting. Lots of disagreement, but it was good to engage with a different perspective. Note: scowling at Twitter is not “engaging.” Nothing that happens there is engaging. Sitting face to face in a coffee shop and talking about the city is engaging. We had some big crucial points of agreement, if I can be as maddeningly vague about this as possible, and thereafter I took him over to Napoleon’s to make a point about ahem the problems of small businesses, something he fully agreed was madness.

“After a while,” I said tendentiously, “all government becomes extractive, not constructive.” Ah the Sage of the Mill City.

It was a beautiful day, and I took my usual quota of pictures. I don’t know if this is what people think of when “Minneapolis” comes to mind.

The rest of the day was just irritating of a minor sort; I have three absolutely ordinary low-level chronic conditions, and while they usually have the decency to rotate, they’ve all decided to put on a show at once. The most annoying is wrist pain. I use my right wrist for . . . what’s it called? Work. Also for that other thing, designing on the computer. I’ve probably exacerbated it with a project you’ll see next week, but for now it’s IcyHot galore. Substitutes the usual pain with a different one! I had a brace once, given to me by a copy editor who had carpal tunnel problems, and it wrapped around my arm. It seemed like the sort of thing one should use if you need to produce a Derringer at the end of a card game. Or, if you wish, if you’re going full Bickle a la Taxi Driver.

I don’t know where it is. It doesn’t matter; I don’t think it did much. So we suffer, and apply unguents. Or salve, as my dad used to say: better put some salve on that. The L is not entirely silent. It is almost apparent by its absence.

You’d think we’d have better salves. I mean, there’s still Bengue. Or Ben-Gay, as it’s known. Dr. Bengue’s invention was intended as a topical anesthesia for surgery, and all I can say is ouch. A reference page said it also went by the name of “Anestile, Choryl, and Narcotile.” There was a 1935 legal decision that slapped down Park Davis’ attempt to market a similar product by using French terms, making people think it was the Gallic liniment. Said the court:

“To maintain that the defendants' reasons for designating their product ‘Baume Analgesique,’ and dressing it to resemble the plaintiffs' article, are valid or legitimate, stultifies reason, outrages common sense and disregards the obvious.”

That’s not the sort of thing you want to read when you’re the defendant. I suppose you could appeal on the grounds that reason was not, in fact, stultified, but good luck with that.

Anyway. Just writing this makes my arm twinge up somethin’ pow’rful. Makes you think of the minor sufferings that must have plagued everyone in the dim times before unguents of particular power, and when you toss in a toothache or two you understand why they drank so much.










This is not a review and it is not about Squid Game. (Watched three eps, will watch more, but the violence is just . . . nightmarish in its casual depiction..) I hated Foundation, and gave up after two episodes. You wait your whole life for an adaptation, and you’re alienated in the first half hour.

I was enamored of a high-concept Belgian sci-fi action show called “Into the Night,” where people on a plane have to outrun the sunrise while dealing with their own carefully slotted archetypal character descriptions. It had drive and a strange careening energy. I watched the first episode of the second season, and hello it’s grimy post-apocalypse with sweaty people in burlap in bunkers eating canned food and yelling at each other until someone came up with a plot point to redo the whole “running from the sun on a plane” thing,” and nah.

Then another season of a show I had previously loved beyond measure “dropped,” as they said, and it started with a dream sequence. I hate all dream sequences that are not directed by David Lynch. They’re never right. They’re too specific. We see the dreamer, not the view of the dreamer. The self-conscious unreality is at odds with the convincing reality of the dream. It’s lazy. I went online to read reviews, and everyone’s in a castigating mood: this is crap, what happened, total let down.

They said that about the third season, which was a rather obvious Twin Peaks homage without any of the supernatural stuff. I went back a bit farther, and discovered the reviewers - by which I mean message boards and imdb comments - said the second season was total crap, what happened, total let down.

The last series I watched, The Sinner, also experienced fan atred for the second and third seasons.

What would these people have done in the age of Mannix and Kojak? They would have been happy, because nothing changed, and no show ever tried to rewrite the formula from season to season, or tell big long stories.

The show I’m talking about - Goliath - has an ep that opens with the main villain doing a musical number. It is ridiculous. It is also fun and absurd, and hey: J. K. Simmons. (Who looks about 70 and built like a battleship.) Here’s the thing about some shows: you ride with it, or you don’t. There was never anything challenging about Kojak, and no I’m not saying it would have been better if it began with Telly Savalas singing Who Loves You in a Busby Berkeley set, but there was never any doubt what you were going to get. A crime, a grimy criminal or a polyester mob guy, Kojak snarling CROCK-AH while working a Tootsie Roll, the fat Greek cop saying something from the doorway, the stork-head captain busting Kojak's chops - the brass upstairs wants this one solved! - shoot-out, roll credits.

Goliath is a mess, but A) it has Bruce Dern in his full late-stage wide-eyed chin-up nuttiness with cranky old-man energy, B) a rain-soaked Chinatown setting that has nothing to do with the story and its sumptuously photograpched, C) court-room shenanigans., and D) the irascible Billy Bob Thornton inheriting the gumshoe noir mantle complete with trenchcoat before wrapping it all up.

I’ll take the brave mess over the rote.

Unless it’s Foundation. How I wanted the rote.



It’s 1978. A year of significance for your host. Newspaper ads today.

  This was interesting. Why sever connection to a venerable brand? They dropped the Kent.

They’d up the ante - or lower it, I suppose - with Kent IIIs, which had, I think, 2 mg of tar. (Not III.) These were important numbers, as the rest of the ad points out:


Golden Lights had half the tar of Viceroy, so you could smoke more, if you wanted to think about it that way. And people did.

I started on Golden Lights, and was a Kent man for a few years. Everything up there in that parade of brands just didn't taste right. Or course, the Lark smokers said that about the Kent cigarettes.

Just realized I knew someone who smoked each of those, with a few exceptions. No one wanted the B&H Multifilter. Otherwise, Aunts, Uncles, denizens of the Valli.

The wretched era of the overwhelming Mansard roof:

It actually was, and is, worse:


You will morph into the Better You, but it’s so expensive you won’t be able to afford new clothes:


We guarantee one drink will get you so smashed you’ll fall out of your seat by the time your name is called for your table.




Yes, the ads were full of guys like this. Sensible guys who looked like they lived in Edina and worked at the General Foods building, or 3M.

He’d make some concessions. He wasn’t unreasonable.

One of the worst cigarettes on the market, by the way. Like smoking old cardboard.


Carlton had the low-tar market sewed up. They were the cigarettes for people who absolutely intended to quit, but as long as they were still smoking, well, these were just will-o’-the-wisps compared to your heavy-hitters. You could smoke AN ENTIRE PACK and it would equal ONE WINSTON. Why, they were practically medicinal. The package even looked like a prescription. The ads promised no sex, but implied the thing you wanted to believe:

You could still keep smoking.

Newspapers abounded with ugly ads like this: just stick the logo somewhere, add clip art, voila, that’ll get the point across.


All done by hand with Exact-O knives and glue.


  That will have to do; now, last of the Gluyas. And yet, not.





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