Rainy, as a fall day should be from time to time. A leap two weeks forward before the weather turns warm again. The foretaste that turns into the main course.

It seems to make the season last a bit longer than its usual 72 hours.

None of the Fall Feelings, as I'm sure they're called in modern marketing, have kicked in yet. Everyone gets those bittersweet moments of recollection, always related to school. Eventually the strength of the memory fades, but by then you have kids of your own so now you're nostalgic for their early school days, for Halloween. And then you outrun all of them.

I saw something interesting on a van as I walked to the office today. What does this say to you?

It says "1920s" to me, or before. That's the original logo. The company's been around since 1915, and it's in the same family. Here's my thesis: this is the longest-lasting piece of individual public art in the Twin Cities.

That's the work of one hand, a personal job for hire, perhapas done by someone in a local ad agency, or someone who did signs. It's not perfect, and you might think the artist was young, incorporating new flourishes he'd seen in a magazine, or making up his own. The style was fashionable until it wasn't, but they kept it around. Good for them.

The look of things, the way they nail down a particular era - it's never given the full accounting it deserves, because it's regarded as beneath serious study.

For example: this means something to you, or it doesn't. If means something because it was ubiquitous at a formative age, or your just have the mental habit of storing away the visual tics and tropes of an era.

It has "an oddly passionate fanbase." Someone will come across the pattern in 2038 and find themselves pitched back to youth.

Ah, but do you remember what it replaced? I hadn't thought about that for decades and I thought oh yes of course.


This sentimental bit of nonsense reminds you why some things are in the Wallace instead of the National.


Don’t get me wrong - I love the Wallace. But one of the reasons I love it is because everything isn’t a masterpiece.

You can guess the basics without resorting to encyclopedias. The people on the left represent . . . well, France, I guess, with children and women seeking solace. On the right, the military, or perhaps the ghost of military figures who died in his service. I think they’re ghosts because they’re on the other side of the grave from the living. Also . . . well, I don’t know.


General Charles-Tristan Montholon (1783-1853) and General Henri-Gatien Bertrand (1773-1844) with his family, who were present on St. Helena, console one another.

The Ghosts:

I don't know the story bnehind the kneeling guy's mufti.

Can you believe this? They didn't even bury him deep, just dumped some dirt over our boy.

Guy on the right: he wasn't that great

What’s this?


Tilt it . . . yes, a list of famous battles. Probably not going to find Waterloo in there.

Or maybe you do: the Wallace website says this in the “marks and inscriptions” portion: RIVOLI / PIRAMIDES / MARENGO / AUSTERLITZ / JENA / WAGRAM / MOSCOWA / MONTMIRAIL / LIGNY / WAT…


The artist:

He is best known, however, for his many paintings celebrating French military prowess, including a series of large battle pieces for Versailles. Louis-Philippe, who had first bought his work in 1817, favoured him with many commissions. Although he achieved notoriety when some of his paintings were rejected by the Paris Salon jury of 1822, allegedly because of their anti-Bourbon character, he received a number of honours from the restored Bourbon monarchy, including in 1828 the Directorship of the French Academy in Rome (which he retained until 1834).

Popular and successful, and capable of good work. But take a look at this self-portrait:

You’re waiting for the stove to collapse or move backwards and dump him on his derriere. Unless he’s leaning up against that canvas . . . which is unlikely since it seems to be leaning on him. Also, he’s going to get his pants dirty.

Also: (tiny shoes)


In Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", Holmes claims to be related to Vernet, stating, "My ancestors were country squires... my grandmother... was the sister of Vernet, the French artist.", without further clarifying whether this is Claude Joseph Vernet, Carle Vernet, or Horace Vernet.

Possibly left undefined for a good reason.






It's 1944. I think.

This certainly is an attention-grabbing trademark, but in certain circumstances it looks a bit creepy. Like you’re about to be mauled by some Cerebus-Rabbit.

Please note: No whisky has been made since October 1942. It’s all going to beat Hitler.

“The base whiskies you now enjoy in Three Feathers blended whisky were drawn from our ever-diminishing inventories.”

Puts a pang of fear into a man’s heart, it does.

This is a detective pulp mag, so everything in the back is going to be pathetic.

The Clarinet Harmonet! Or the “recorder” as we’d call it decades later, when we had to fit our hesitant mouths around that plastic-tasting mouthpiece.
  This happy family tableau could be yours but it probably won’t be


This is absolutely for looking at girls. Okay, planets, stars, fine, but you’re buying it to look at girls without them knowing.

They didn’t send it on credit, which was a good idea. People would use it for a few days and throw it away out of shame and ignore the dunning letters.


This makes sense if you are secure in belief that playing the guitar is something cowboys do.

Be in demand at parties, camps, public entertainments, on the radio, etc.

That’s a quickly escalating set of assertions.


I love the idea that accuracy is related to weight.

Used by the Deputy Collectors of the IRS, and if that isn’t endorsement enough - well, consider how you could look like a real Businessman, as you walked around, adding things.



“Character and earning ability are the only requirements.” “Friends, relatives, employers never contacted.” No one need know you’re in trouble.


You’ll be charged “Iowa’s low lawful rate.”

This always seemed like the craziest business to me. But obviously it worked.


See what I mean?

  Hey if it wasn’t okay to do it they wouldn’t put it in the ads


Okay okay I get it, I’ll buy a telescope and look at girls in between my cowboy song lessons. I guess that’s what the culture wants me to be.



Now two ways to chip in!

Now what? We finish up with the Doolittles, a strip that began with great fanfare and faded into the same old rut as all the others.

All the others.



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