She's going to really creep me out by Wednesday
Thrill-seeker that I am, I have decided to go to a different Dunn Brothers coffee shop. This one is downtown, and hence funkier. How funkier? The usual one in Edina was built in 2004. This one was built in 1879. It’s an old industrial building – an office most likely, since it’s very small, and I can’t imagine what they would have made here besides eyelets for corset laces. The floors are “distressed,” bearing the mark of the hobnailed men who tromped through here so many decades ago. The brick wall is cracked and poorly made – I’m guessing an extremely fine quality of rum hit town in 1879. There’s a door that was bricked up with somewhat finer precision, and it’s about nine feet tall. So perhaps this was some sort of center for the detention of giants. Where the door went we don’t know; the building on the other end is gone. I can only imagine the reaction of some ancient Minneapolitan to his office’s current incarnation, full of bare-limbed women typing on some sort of silver letter-confabulation devices. He’d probably like the coffee, though.

Lost power most of Saturday. I was working on the New York City site, content to stay indoors when it was 94 outside, when click! Everything shut off.

And never came back. Well, we got one hour around dinnertime, but most of the day was conducted in a pre-industrial state. At first I thought the power would be back soon; it always comes back within an hour. I went outside to read “Life at the Bottom,” an account of the
British underclass by Theodore Dalrymple. “Bracing” does not describe it, anymore than “Brisk” describes the sensation of a bucket of lemon juice poured on a sucking chest wound. The book concerns the ideas that animate, if you can use that word, the sullen masses of the impotent and indifferent, where they come from (two guesses) and how uncouthness becomes chic, and trickles up. I finished it three hours later. The power had still not returned.

I’d been reading another book, which my wife had taken to the pool. She thought I was done with it. “No,” I said. “I just started it.”

“But it looks read,” she said.

“That’s because I put it in the bag and put Gnat’s wet bathing suit on top of it, and the pages got wet and expanded.”


Authors never think that this is how people talk about their books, but that’s what happens. And often that’s all they say.

“The Rule of Four” is one of those DaVinci-code books where people puzzle over the mysterious secrets of an ancient text – in this case an impenetrable allegorical book that makes Pilgrim’s Progress look like a a bucket of lemon juice poured on a sucking chest wound. (Sorry. Just realized I lean too heavily on that particular construction.) The passages about the book’s embedded secrets were occasionally intriguing, and some of the Academic Intrigue is interesting in a nasty tweedy sort of way, but it’s also a college story and a romance, neither of which are particularly compelling. Also murders. The authors are young, and have some elegant metaphors, but after a while the herky-jerky plot construction, windy world-weary remarks on the Nature of Life and the incessant fellating of the Joys of Princeton make the book feel like you’re pitchforking rutabagas out of a truck ed. (No, I don’t know what that means, but it feels right.) Imagine my dismay when the solution to the book was announced fifty pages in advance of the novel’s conclusion.

Skimmed the rest, read the obvious last chapter, and thought: meh. According to the book, the authors have been working on the book for six years. I think that was the problem.

Wife and Child gave up around eleven. I stayed up, wrote the column until the battery died, walked Jasper around the eerie world. (It’s all eerie; there’s something disconcerting these days about walking around the house with a flashlight; everything it touches looks dead and abandoned, as if it takes a house full of electricity for your own home to recognize you.)

Listened to music – the shuffle coughed up “Supper’s Ready,” one of those prog-rock classics I hadn’t heard in a while. You can date yourself, and your variety of nerdishness, if you recall the thrill you got when you turned the album over and saw it was all one song. Whoa. “Supper’s Ready” is a side-long work from Genesis that contains the usual gibberish imagery about the usual apocalypse, laced with biting social commentary (military bad, mom and dad repressed automatons) but I have a soft spot for these guys, so I listened to the entire thing. (And it was the PC version, if you know what I mean.) The ending is quite effective, and as far as I can tell the lyrics describe the Second Coming – a rather large piece of subject matter for 20somethings to carry off, but they managed. Amusing: the album version fades out, as songs used to do. The live version fades out as well, until it’s over – and then the audience erupts. That’s a reverent audience.

Then I listened to old radio broadcasts in the dark. The lights were on elsewhere in the world, I could tell – the sky had the pale glow to the south, so apparently the world was not yet over. I looked at the trees and found faces in the branches. Once you start looking the mind finds them everywhere; no wonder our ancestors were so fearful of the world and the woods. The brain is hardwired to find gargoyles and demons leering down from the trees.

I went to bed at 1:20 AM.

The power came back ten minutes later. Like lemon juice in a – well, you know.

PS: Today's locale:

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