I just noticed that no one's watching the TV. They're enjoying its presence, though. It has brought new excitement to the home. but something is amiss. Mother, Daughter, and Junior are all wearing the same shade of grey. Dad is on the other side of the divide, in brown, smiling at two people who are not conversing with him. Junior is looking at dad as though seeing him in a new way, and while it's something of a revelation, and not an entirely good one, it's something he can use later.

The new oven comes tomorrow.

This is not a repeated Bleat, or a "Bleatpeat." There is no such thing, although now that I've thought of the word, I want to use it. No, the oven is coming again, and if all goes well they will fix the gas connector and install the range, or the oven, or the stove, I don't know what the hell the difference is and don't care except when I use the wrong term and look stupid.

Point is, I expect failure. I don't think it's going to be installed. Something will happen. Or, if it is connected, it will blow up. It's been nice knowing you all, and glad I made it to 25 years.

The other day I got in the car, hooked up the phone, and some music started playing from Apple Music. This is not unexpected; the devices do stupid things. I pump the HomePod, and it starts playing Dire Straits. I don’t know why. I have to tell it to stop. They have their own agendas and interests and I’m not interested in indulging them. On the contrary: SHUT. UP. I got my wife a clever device for her office, so she can listen to Minnesota Public Radio classical, and before you say “why not just use Apple Classical playlists?” They have 17 pieces in constant rotation, it seems. There are workarounds and workflows and solutions I could suggest, but before you come up with any ideas I’ll stop you right there: it ain’t gonna happen. She wants one command, and endlessly variable music. So that is what she has.

I should note that for the last three mornings the device has awoken at 5:30 and played a bright classical tune. It was Holst the other day. This morning, Haydn. I asked the machine if it had any alarms set. It assured me that it didn’t.

Anyway. In the car. The tune was jarring, inasmuch as I had no idea why the phone was playing it. What’s more, it was wrong. It was one of the songs I had on my phone, but it was a different version. I scowled at the phone, and realized that I was not listening to my library, but to Apple Music’s playlist for this artist. I had “Cook,” the live album; this was another tour. Same piece, different performance. Crappy mix.

I wanted to hear the original, so I hit the TALK button to tell the car to talk to the phone to talk to Apple to get the tune, but then I remembered:

There’s an Italian version and an American version. The latter has lyrics, bad ones. The former is an instrumental, but the title is in Italian, so I can’t quite recall it. I guess we’ll have to wait for a stop sign to do some frantic scrolling.

Finally found it. Hit the highway. And I’m reminded: these guys were incredible. Warning: this is 1972, so it’s going to be CRAZY. It’s prog, so it’s going to be WHOA, COMPLEX FOR COMPLEXITY’S SAKE MAYBE? But listen to the piano under that blown-out guitar, followed by a bare piano line, the drummer indicating his impatience, the return of the guitar.

Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this. I do not expect you to like this.

YES, VIOLIN, because of course.

  This is all prelude, leading us up to this cock-of-the-walk guitar segment, which I've faded out.

Chaotic but tight.  Here's the thing: the pianist was 23, the guitarist 25.

The Italian version is an instrumental, and rather episodic, and I had it playing LOUD as I drove. When I parked and walked to work, the playlist offered up Il Banchetto, a song about a Renaissance prince inviting friends to his house: a poet, an assassin, the priest. For some reason, the American version was released with the original Italian, and I memorized that. So I’m walking through the skyways finding the words have been stored away since 1975. Of course, the song is mostly instrumental, but I know how it ends - chissa perche? I had asked my Italian teacher what that meant, idiomatically, and he said, who knows?

Really? No one knows?

No, it means, who knows.

By the time I got to the office it was the end of Via Lumiere, which I suppose is Beatleseque. All that prog complexity and fugue-work and classical jokes, they drop it all for a long goodbye. I was still basking in the best news I had heard in months, perhaps in a year, and I was still so astonished by what was going to happensoon , I stood at the great window in the office and held out my arms to the skyline, steam pouring out of all the stacks, and blared this on my office bluetooth speaker as loud as I could, because there was no one there to hear it or care.

And then. And then. The Apple Music kicked in a song I hadn’t heard before. It sounded startlingly well-recorded, unlike a lot of the old mud. I checked to see what I was listening to. It was PFM, all right.

Release date: 2021.

Fifty years later. They had reformed and regrouped and were still making music. I wanted to get in the time machine and go back to high school and tell myself hey: PFM will be releasing new material fifty years from now.

I wouldn’t have believed it. Sure, and they’re still making Star Trek.

Well about that. Yes. Sit down. We have to talk.


Now, this year's Above-the Fold Kul-chah Feature, or ATFKF.

They digitized someone's photo album.

This is a book of bucolic settings and street scenes, with the occasional dog. Why this guy?

Ah: Fotoreproductie van een prent van een portret van Giuseppe Garibaldi, anonymous, c. 1860 - c. 1880

Computer, enhance.


Garibaldi became an international figurehead for national independence and republican ideals, and is considered by the twentieth-century historiography and popular culture as Italy's greatest national hero. He was showered with admiration and praise by many intellectuals and political figures, including Abraham Lincoln, William Brown, Francesco de Sanctis, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, Charles Dickens, Friedrich Engels and Che Guevara. Historian A. J. P. Taylor called him "the only wholly admirable figure in modern history”.

The person who assembled this book found him worthy, and that was enough, I presume.

James Cromwell could play him in a movie, but then he'd have to be a fallible, morally compromised authority figure who does not see his own shortcomings.

Which, for all we know - well, I don't, so leave it at that.








Welcome to Marshfield. Almost 20,000 souls. The origin of the name, says Wikipedia, is unclear:

Marshfield's name is explained two ways. It might have been named for John J. Marsh, one of the original owners of land in the area. Marshfield might also have been named after Marshfield, Massachusetts, since the Wisconsin Central Railway was financed with money from Massachusetts and other stops along the WC's line were named after towns in Massachusetts, including Amherst, Medford and Chelsea.

I can see how people would go back and forth on that one.

There's the usual "Notable People From" section on Wikipedia, and I don't recognize any of the names.

Then again, I'm in the list of notable people from Fargo, so the standards are obviously not stratospheric. Well, let's begin.


“I’m sick of being a twin, and no one being able to tell us apart! I’m going to find a way to be - to be me!”


Someone upsold the developer a bit of stone. Not a lot. But enough.


Misspellings in the original:

Although occupied by a single merchant, the Noll building was constructed in two separate stages. The north most portion was constructed in 1887 after the fire of June of that year; the south most was constructed between 1887 and 1891. Mr. William Noll directed his sown, Frank, to open a hardware store, as well as a warehouse for storage in 1887.

Yes, two parts. This is considered the Noll building:


“As Mr. Noll will tell you, a stone accent doesn’t cost very much, and adds a pleasant note of distinction.”



Nothing much comes back on Mr. G. It’s not a C; I do get a hit on A. M. GREISINGER in the local paper, but it’s just rote government stuff.

Why, I do believe the building eventually had two owners.


I’m sure the renovators meant well.

They did keep the name block; it says LAHR, 1887. The Lahr family lived upstairs - Mr., Mrs., nine kids. The missus died up there in 1913.

As I usually say: some “modernizations” still look modern, even though they’re twice as old as others.


Someone got a little eager, looking through the catalog of off-the-shelf decorations.

Classical pediments, and our old friend, the mail-order pseudo-Sullivan cartouches.

It was an impressive undertaking for a small town, no?


That’s . . . interesting.

The new cornice has a stylized version of the old cornice; bonus points for that. The rest is over-scaled and cartoony, but it gave the old downtown a lift, I’m sure.

Washington sent them to the towns in a big box, which they got off the train with a ramp, and rolled it to the site on logs. Where do you want it, Mac?


“I say medians and planters will bring back downtown, and I’ll fight any man who says otherwise.”

With a name like that, you know it’s not really a bank.

But what a gift to the street! Let’s end with some close-ups of the figures.


American art wasn’t fascist, but let’s just say it was on the same road. Just a few lanes over.



That'll do. Now: the return of Restaurants, part two of our annual survey of Roadside America. See you around.




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