Seven o’clock AM plus change; wife’s already gone to work. Gnat appears at bedside. Daddy, I had the worstest dream.

Wha whazzit.

You gave me a Hello Kitty and you had a horrible hairdo.

S’justa dream.

I know. Can I have Spongebob ceeral an sosages?


And so it begins. Stay at home dad, v. 4.0. This year is shaping up to be the best; she’s not just talkative and curious, she’s funny. On the way back from the big indoor play-place today, she was silent for a few minutes. Finally:

Do you have a baby in your tummy?

Well, what do you think is the answer?

You say.

No, think. Do you think I have a baby in my tummy?



‘Cause you’re not a mommy. Can we have speghetty?

At the playplace I was pushing her in a swing, and I paused for a moment. Her momentum decreased. “Push me, Daddy,” she said. “I’m losing my going.”

We’ve all been there; we just didn’t know how to describe it. I’m losing my going.

You know what brings peace? Not worrying about your going. You know what makes that possible? Not losing your going. It’s complex.

Long damn day. Long damn day. Usually I drop her off at Nana’s for three hours, and go to the office to work, but not today. (This makes Tuesday a three-column day. O joy.) I felt like baked dog crap most of the day, thanks to this mild cold and the insufficient sleep. But a productive day, for reasons too boring to relate. Now, before I bail on you and finish the column, some photos of my nasty ugly city:

I drive by this daily. It’s part of the Franklin / Portland intersection, a neighborhood that once was high-toned but fell into disrepair. Most of the elegant old apartment buildings have been mauled by time and malice; the cornices and balconies have been stripped, the trees chopped down during the Dutch Elm infestation.

A boarded-up building looks as though it’s been blinded; it looks like it doesn’t want to see anything anymore. It’s old and crazy and humming to itself, pretending it’s 1917 and the ladies are making the lemonade for the church social, dum de dum de dum. (There’s an extraordinary church around the corner, and another a block away.) This picture is actually a testament to Minneapolis’ vitality, thought – the area is being redeveloped to meet the needs of the community, not a yuppie influx that wants to live 15 blocks from the office. The corner of Portland and Franklin used to have three gas stations; all died. Each site is being redeveloped with mixed-use / “affordable housing” projects, and the result will be the opposite of the gas-station aesthetic: instead of one building placed on the shore of an asphalt sea, you’ll have four buildings pushing out to the street. This apartment building will knocked down for the latter phase.

I lived in a place like this, once. They’re all the same. There’s only so much you can do with the floorplan. Original fixtures; bathroom across the hall; painted woodwork. Across the narrow alley lived a team of jugglers. At night you could watch them practice, throwing bowling balls and hammers at one other. At least I think they were professional jugglers. I certainly hope so. If not, they should have been.

The picture above will, I hope, look odd some day when power lines are gone. I include it as your Obvious Urban Grit picture. But this one is more representative of the area today:

This is one damn big king-hell skyscraper condo going up, and it's just ten blocks from the boarded-up building above. It’ll soon be joined by another of equal height across the street. That’s about 80 stories of new dwellings, and soon they’ll break ground on a 45+ story condo by the river.

Hell of a depression we’re having, eh?

Okay, tomorrow I unleash the music. Part of my Naked To The World! Scheme. It’s the first of the “original compositions,” and you get to hear me play the piano. It’s a lousy job – I rush the beat, and there’s a conspicuous frack early on, but I just don’t have the time to perfec these things. I will keep working on this piece, though, and you’ll be able to hear how it goes from utter sucktitude to triumphal mediocrity. All this and a site update tomorrow! And now back to the column.

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c.. 1995-2004 j. lileks