It’s difficult to write outside because of the infinitesimally small flies, or ISFs. They go straight to you, perhaps because you’re warm, or are outgassing CO2, or because they are starved for love. The ISF is a very vague fly.

That last line tells me I should write a column on this, just because the idea of a “vague fly” makes me smile, and perhaps might have the same effect on others. I was going to write about the Snapchat Gender Swap filter, and how I can tell my twitter audience is not full of millennials is because my feed wasn’t full of people looking like the opposite gender. I’d post mine, but - did I say this already? I look like the woman who drives a Volvo plastered with angry bumperstickers and one COEXIST sticker who demands to talk to the manager because the last time she was here they didn’t put enough cinnamon on her latte, or something. My wife, who has short hair, was turned into a strange anime creature with big eyes and long hair and a narrowed jaw, which was hilarious.

So I’d best write that, and get a leg up on tomorrow. I assume that when you get a leg up on something that there comes a time when your leg is down; if you work too far in advance you have both legs up on something, which sounds like you’re relaxing. Right now I have both legs up on the table outside. I should take at least one down if I’m going to be honest.

Lovely summer day; 80. Something sad happened, which is not serious sad, but an end-of-an-era thing that made me sag a bit. Until I was grateful for having experienced it at all! That’s the spirit! Remember all the good and let your heart be filled with joy,

But I’m never going to experience that again, and -


I had one of those architectural detective jobs I love to do. A co-worker tweeted out this:

It’s a huge picture of Minneapolis in 1908. I mean, it drops the jaw. So much detail. If you know your old landmarks, you can name them off in a roll call of fallen citizens, and orient yourself right away, figuring out where it was taken, which streets are which. He called my attention to this:

Good luck finding that in the picture, but it’s there.

Ah: but where? What building had a statue of a man on the top?

It took me a few minutes, since I have my entire Mpls collection on my laptop, and I could fix the location easily. Nicollet, lower, by the old hotel, up the street . . .

Found another picture, zoomed: the Palace Clothiers.

Off to the newspaper archives, where stories abounded about the new building Palace’s owner, Mr. Rothchild, was building next to the building with the man on top - the Rothwell building, originally.

But nothing in the stories about the statue. It’s a mystery who put it up, and when. One odd detail in a picture teeming with life and vitality and pride. All that in so few years. People are remarkable. Americans are remarkable. Minnesotans are remarkable.

UPDATE, which is an odd thing to say since as far as you know this is all happening at the same time:

Same fellow? I think so. But . . . the arch indicates that it's a post-war Victory celebration, after which the fellow was hoisted to the top. But did they do classical arches for wars after 1907? More research awaits.




This, I know, will come as a surprise. The width, I mean. It changes everything! But I like it. Sets context. What's the harm? So let's begin 2019 with something that isn't really a Main Street at all, but conforms to the feature's theme, aka old haunting crap.






Queer as a clockwork orange upper class it's just not cricket numbskull have a kip is she 'avin a laugh Union Jack clotted cream knows bugger all about nowt, crumpets fancied a flutter Shakespeare cotton

We start on the edge of town. Not a nice building. It will get better, right?

Pressed-tin decoration, the original pre-fab. Must have looked nice at first, though.

Paint and time are a building’s worst enemies.

An earlier visit.

After the supernova, perhaps.


We have to go back to a previous year to make out the name:


D. H. Davis, local man of means; ran the bank. Among other things, I presume. The main hotel in town once bore his name, but it’s gone.

This building is affordable housing now.

OUMB . .

Next to its much more dignified and stately parent.

Note the pot of flowers: urban renewal galore, there.


The building on the right looks like an old dog standing on spindly legs.

Typical clueless 60s / 70s overhaul of the bottom floor. It’ll look up-to-date! For a week, maybe.

The storefront on the left seems almost disgusted - okay, I’ll do what I can with what they left, the fargin’ vandals.



Usual Buckaroo Revival, loved by none.


That’s how you do it.



The door-to-upstairs problem vexed many an architect whose preferences tended towards symmetry. Best, perhaps, not to care too much.

2013: The sixties styles will come back and this place will be in great demand!



2016: never mind


The Telephone Building. Given that modern examples are always windowless bunkers, you wonder if this ever looked different.


I’m pretty sure it did, and looked better.

2013: A theater? Looks like it had its facade and lower floors converted for department store use.


Ah hah! I’m a genius. Now:

Cinema Treasures:

The Lark Theatre dates back to 1924. By 1950 it was operated by Affiliated Theaters Inc. of Indianapolis, IN. It was closed as a movie theatre in the 1950’s. The building was then used for retail by JC Penneys. Today the building is used as a community theatre.




I think it was a bank. Let’s take a look at the side.

The ground-floor stone says bank.

As does . . .



This is rare. 2013:


It’s like we almost caught them doing it. We always think they stopped doing that decades ago. No.

Wherever they brick 'em up, the effect is the same: don’t look go away


If we wanted to interrogate the building a bit more, we would see this:

You don't see these very often. G. C. Murphy, a 5 & 10 chain. The usual end: bought by Ames, which later sold it to McCrory's, which filed for super-extra bankruptcy in 1992 and ended the story for keeps.

Here’s something of a puzzler.

Built all at once, or in two stages? Again, the problem of the upstairs-access door. Here the architect took pains to extend the element all the way up the side of the building. It looks less unbalanced with different coats of paint.

But why does it have different coats of paint?

The Times, they are a fadin’

The newspaper Times, of course. We read that yesterday.

Poor thing’s trashed upstairs - and wearing a Buckaroo Mansard hat, too.


The Walnut:

Not much on the outside, but that was the style. Remember yesterday, when I said I'd explain the Sourwine Ad? I just did.

That'll do, I hope - and if not, Motels await. See you around.





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