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It’s time to address this Lileks for Senate 06 thing. But first, an open letter to the Bounty Towel Company:


Your research may not have told you this, but one roll of your quilted spill-locker paper towels can dry off one medium-sized dog. If I may explain:

I would like to thank you for the matching towels and napkins; the autumn-leaves border is a welcome addition to my kitchen, and provides a visual coordination between the disposable paper items heretofore not offered. Lest there be any confusion, this is the style to which I am referring:

To bring out flowery themes at this point in the year would be a mistake, as we both know, and you have avoided this. I offer my congratulations on a successful product line, and I look forward to a similarly integrated theme come the spring. However, you are surely aware that of the disparity in usage patterns that exists between towels and napkins, which makes it likely that a customer will run out of one before exhausting his stores of the other. This would not be a problem were it not for the seemingly random fashion in which these matching patterns have been distributed to the retail outlets. Yesterday, for example, I found three bales of leaf-bordered napkins at the store, and no such paper towels. This presents the consumer with a dilemma. Having become accustomed to the tight thematic consistency, one is forced to consider abandoning it entirely, and returning to the pell-mell ways of yore. Yes, the customer could keep using the towels without the napkins, but the presence of the former would mock the latter, make it seem somehow lesser. Which in fact it would be.

I would not bring this to your attention were it not for the introduction of a towel pattern specifically aimed at October, i.e. “New Fall Prints.” They have an orange cast, with pumpkins and leaves. See below.

They showed up in the pipeline the second week of October, and given the presence of pumpkins this gives them a narrow window of usefulness. What’s more, there are no corresponding napkins. This means one must abandon the careful metering of the towels and napkins to ensure simultaneous draw-down of stocks in favor of immediate deployment of the pumpkin-themed towels. This means that the customer will have a surplus of leaf-themed towels when autumn has obviously passed; by then we expect to have adopted a red/green seasonal paradigm.

In the future, I would request more careful attention to the timing and distribution, because when I went to store the paper goods after the last trip to Target, six frickin’ rolls of leaf-themed towels tumbled out. Why did I overstock? Fear, sirs; fear and uncertainty. I will grant that my towel usage dropped dramatically when I stumbled across the leaf-border print, as I liked it so much I was loath to use it and hence run out before the snows came. I started using cloth towels for everything. Now I am forced to use paper towels for everything, including the drying the dog after his bath. Normally I would not do such a thing, it being an expensive indulgence, but my child unrolled an entire column tonight for fun, and spoiled it. Oh sure, you can reroll it. But it’s lumpy and weird and unnatural. It’s never quite the same. Damaged goods. It looks like a decent chap who had a hard night with the bottle, frankly; you can sense its gratitude when it’s used on the dog. Oh thank you sir. I feel as if I have some purpose again.

These myriad indignities can be avoided, if proper care is taken.


James Lileks

See, this is why I would be a bad Senator. I have a simplistic (if correct!) view of the big issues, a tiresomely detailed view of the small things that matter not, and no time for the big muddled middle where most of life actually takes place. Yet the draft efforts continue.

At first I said I would run only if I could work from home, but apparently this was fine. Alas, I would have to be in DC to be an effective Senator, because you cannot teleconference the little greasy smiley moments that form the webs of obligation between politicians. I know they have to give each other backrubs, for example. No thank you.

Plus, I am not Mr. Clean. You can’t tour for a year with the Munchkinland Chippendales without expecting some photos to surface eventually. I would be unable to resist the temptation to staff my DC office with nothing but fashion models who would sit around smoking making bored faces, and this would be murder on constituent service. (“You want a swimming pool in your city? Lady, I want a shoot with Helmut Newton, but he’s dead, okay? Who do you think is happier about the future? At least you can go get in your bathtub and pretend. What am I supposed to do? Well? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?”)

Plus, I would have to say things like “my esteemed colleagues” about people whose ambition is so naked and all-consuming they say things that would, in other contexts, earn them a fierce slapping with a rotten mackeral. Sen. Edwards’ comments on the expiration of Christopher Reeves is a fine example:

“If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again," Edwards said.

Of course it’s true in the sense that it’s sort of true, in the sense that it’s not entirely false, in the sense that it could possibly happen, in the sense that it probably won’t, which he knows. It plays well with those who think that the only way we can cure snapped spines is by applying those magical Federal Dollars, which are unlike any currency on earth – they make things more efficient, they turn negative lab results into positive ones, and they make everyone work faster. Wonderful things, those Federal Dollars. Rub enough on an injured spine and the patient actually feels sensation in his pinky toe.

This is why private donations simply won’t work, and why Sen. Edwards hasn’t let the charge for a massive private-fundraising effort. There’s simply no point. Anyway, we’re all screwed, because Bush had all the top doctors shot or shipped to Gitmo, and all the embryonic cells dressed up in pink and blue bonnets with tiny microscopic rattles, because he thinks they’re human for some peculiar reason. Life does not begin at conception; life does not begin at birth. Life begins the moment you’re dropped off at day-care or the day you walk through the doors of a public school. Prior to that, you’re just a lump of wet clay shaped by the rough and ignorant hands of your hapless parents.

That’s one response. “Blow it out your jaw-hole, Hairboy” is another. Neither works in the chummy, collegial atmosphere of the Senate. They might work in the cloakroom, where you’re allowed to use small sharp knives such as might fit into the handle of a walking stick, but really, I’m not a stabby kind of guy, so that won’t work.

If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. If mailed the paychecks nevertheless, I will cash them with a heavy heart: really, the people of Minnesota deserve so much better.

On the other hand, I would have the power to truly screw with the Bounty towel people.

On the gripping hand, tonight I was talking about judicial races with my wife, and inadvertently coined a new word for the incompetent wood that occupies some political positions: incumbitant.

I meant “meat slicer” yesterday, not “meat sliced.” Damn spellcheck doesn’t read minds. I should also note that no Russians came to avenge the honor of the cheese-wheel minder. But on the way home today I noticed that the funeral parlor on the corner by the highway was being restucco’d.

Hey great! Then I saw the big new sign.


If this site goes down and is replaced by ads where Lt. Pavel Chekov tries to sell you Wiagra, you’ll know what happened.

(Note: Gnat just saw the Lileksforsenate website and asked: "is that George W. Bush?" No, Mommy said. But should Daddy be President? "No," she said. "He's not on TV." She has it all figured out.)