I’m in a Starbucks, unfortunately. The coffee is mediocre and trended to tepid a bit quicker than I’d like. The design of the building wasn’t adapted for a cold climate, so when someone opens the door a gust off 17 degree air pours in. What I didn’t expect was the LOUD music, thrashing and pounding. It wasn’t intended to be background music, so its doing what it does, which is demand the foreground. The idea of background music seems lost, doesn’t it? Just about anything connected with the over culture of the 60s got the full sneer. It would take decades to reclaim some of the elements of the swank and subliminal, to rehabilitate “Easy Listening.”

Not entirely sure this just isn’t a case of giving something more credit because it’s old, and evokes a bygone time and place. You can pick any easy-listening piece and think “man, they had a great, what a time,” but of course that’s nonsense. Imagine the piece playing in an empty car showroom with one salesman who’s behind on his monthlies, behind on his child support, hot-dog lunch curdling in his guty, smoking one Winston after the other as the traffic outside the window moves along, never stopping. They all got cars, everyone has cars. No one needs cars. I’m screwed.

Ahh, I have to get out of here.

LATER: in the evening I went to the street you see above. It's the West End shopping center. I think they called them "Lifestyle Centers" for a while. Ersatz streets in the middle of the 'burbs, not enclosed. Much preferable to a strip mall.

Went to a co-worker’s retirement party. It was held at a cavernous place with an incoherent identity. Brewpub? Hard to say. Don’t know what that means anymore. Big themed bar? No discernible theme. It had pinball and some video games. And then I heard a sound I haven’t heard in a long time: bowling!

There were four lanes, and someone was setting them up and knocking them down. The sound of the ball hitting the wood, rolling down the lane and crashing into the pins - a unique, bright sound - was a delight, and took me back five decades to hanging around Red River Lanes in North Fargo. (South side kids had the Bowler.) Both are still open, and I think that’s remarkable -

Hold on. We discussed a bowling alley last Wednesday, too. I don’t think about bowling for years and then twice in the first month of 2023 AD.

The gathering was fun and the food was dismal. I ordered three chicken tacos, and the quantity suggested they did not use chicken but a chicken hawk, specifically the type that annoyed Foghorn Leghorn. It’s possible there was meat in there, and I grant the lights were dim. Some cheese, but not so much that you’d say “at least I can fill up on cheese.” A bowl of chili that had an under-note of motor oil, and no salsa.

I asked for salsa and /or hot sauce and was reassured that it was en route. One taco in, and none appeared. The waiter returned and asked if I wanted anything, and I said salsa and / or hot sauce. When he returned he had my check, and nothing else, whereupon I inquired if hot sauce and / or salsa might be had. Oh, sure, he said, and returned with a bottle of Crystal.

CRYSTAL. The stuff you get for .87 at the Dollar Store, because even they know that a dollar is too much.

I stopped off at Traders Joe on the way home, and picked up some English Muffins. There was a card below that said: “Toast ‘em, and spread some peanut butter and jelly on!” When I went to the check-out I asked the clerk if he’d seen the card under the English Muffins, and when he said no, I told him what it said.

“Never would have occurred to me,” I said.

“I toast them, and add peanut butter,” he said.

“But then jelly, too? I mean, slow down here, let me take this all in, and make some notes.”

“It’s a lot to absorb.”

So that was today. Knocked off two columns and hated them both. Didn’t go to the office because I need to drive wife hither and yon in the afternoon, and spent too much time in the suburban world. All that traffic, all those people coming and going - made me long for the peace and quiet of downtown.

Which is the saddest thing I’ll write this week.










A few weeks ago we took a look at the "transage" nonsense. I quoted liberally from a page friendly to all these identities and different genders, and noted that there was much, much more to explore. Well, this time we'll look at the problem of danger flags. When you see people who use these flags, beware, because they may not be genuinely suffering from something, and may be trying to get attention.

Imagine that.

It's somewhat confusing. It's hard to tell who you should shun and who deserves your allyship. Or, I'm just dense. The page says:

Reminder that if you see these flags, you’re very likely talking to someone who doesn’t have a certain disability or disorder, but ‘identifies’ as having it.

Some who use these flags may have said disability or disorder, but have internalised ableism that make them want it ‘milder’, or face ableist societal pressures that make them want it ‘worse’ - either way beware these flags.

People with a disability or a disorder who want it to be milder because of ablism. Or, just as bad, people who have a disability or disorder who want to be worse, because of ablism.

Reminder: "milder" or "worse" have to be set off in quotes because they are subjective terms, and refer to society's opinion.

As for those warning flags:

I'm not sure why they're harmful. But I guarantee they're not "harmful" because they perpetuate fatuous, narcisstic identity fantasies. I suspect they leach away sympathy from people who have adjacent identities that are perfectly legit.

Disabledfluid. Crutchian.

Evr'ybody, she's-a gotta the flag.

Now, those are all bad. I think. But you'll note that they're gatekeeping "trans" to keep it from spilling out and diluting its original solid-gold unassailable virtue. This is impossible. The emphasis is shifting away from the -gender part towards the trans - part, because it's easier, and one can invent any number of things you aren't but say you are.

I think we need a UN Committee to sort all this out and issue guidelines for the world. Surely there are experts who can tell us why TRANSOSDD-1a is invalid, but TRANSOSDD-1b deserves additional study.





It’s 1922.

Odd dead space we'd never accept today.


  Some people are kicking about having a pole in their front yard. They still want good phone service, but they want the pole somewhere else. This isn’t going to help a forward-looking town like Belding.


No small problem. Gasoline Alley had a plot arc in 1922 about the fellows buying bum oil stock - except it turned out to be good. Because Gasoline Alley was that kind of strip.


  Please adjust your life accordingly.


  Thus it has always been so, I suppose, inasmuch as people play it cool to seem nonchalant about matters of the heart that are truly a matter of torment. But this seems a bit odd. Everyone’s on the same page, no? What’s the harm in giving vent to your emotions?

This is sad.

Why? Because the building isn’t there any more. The paper is full of ads for downtown businesses, and most of the addresses come back to empty lots. When I first went to the town on Google Street View, I thought: odd. It doesn’t appear to have a downtown at all.

But it does. Or rather did. Was there a fire? I googled. No.

Flickr, 2009.

The picture here shows all that is left of the old main street. The "mall" is a total joke. What a complete and utter failure.

Belding's former mayor and president of the mall association is headed to prison for fraud and embezzlement. The loan officer at a local bank, who was also on the mall association board, is under investigation. So is his wife who owned a shop in the mall.

There’s more, about the author’s grandfather’s drug store.

They destroyed the downtown. On purpose.

But hey, the empty mall is showing life again! Plans are underway!

Not good enough, dammit, not good enough.

The Clan Call: a serialized feature. Shall we dance?

Happy's bio:

Hapsburg Liebe, born Charles Haven Liebe, (1880-1957) was an American author and screenwriter. His stories were published in Adventure,[1][2] The Black Cat,[3] The Railroad Trainman,[4] The Green Book Magazine,[5] Boys' Life [6] and Florida Wildlife.

Liebe grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee. He served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. During the First World War Liebe was accused of being a German writer because of his name.

Well, he did choose “Love Hapsburg,” so there’s that.

Liebe denied this, and stated that his ancestors were Dutch and English Americans. Liebe later did propaganda writing for the U.S. military as part of the group of writers known as The Vigilantes.

That's one way to show you're a real American.

Now two ways to chip in!




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