Telephone Exchange Bldg., Fairview Avenue, St. Paul

Back on the coffee house tour. Another Dunn Brothers. They’re everywhere. They’re like the secret chain. This one is located in a late 80s or early 90s strip mall; fireplace, Mission furniture. The music is blues. The singer has been down so long it is beginning to look like up. On a positive note, however, he did get up this morning.

There’s very little music I like less than blues. Polka, perhaps. Not really very enthusiastic about bluegrass, either. Or most folk music. I know some people absolutely adore the “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack, but I’d rather have shards from the broken CD jabbed in my gums than hear it again. I am a man of constant sorrow, are you. Well, here’s why: because your music is unlistenable! You wouldn’t be happy if you were a veterinarian who was deathly afraid of animals, either. (To ward off the angry letters: yes, I know the fellow is a venerated icon with a fascinating life story; I read all about it in the New Yorker, and by the time the piece was over I considered getting on the back of an old pickup and joading my way out to Californny, so deep and true and spiritual did the artist’s mileu and lifestory seem. Then I listened to the songs, and thought: nope, not for me. No sir. I’ll be over here with the guys with skinny ties and thrift-store suits and checked Vans, listening to New Wave. As we called it, in our hubris.

(Oh, you mock the footwear of my time? Like it’s gotten better.)

While googling around I got sidetracked, and discovered this: a site devoted entirely to colors. Or Colours, as the Brits spell it, while they’re walking to the lift to get the alu-MIN-ium out of the boot of the Mini. In case you’re curious, and I cannot imagine why you would have wondered such a thing, but the colors from the new main index page came from a 1958 paint ad in a magazine. New hues! The ones I loved the most made for the worst design, oddly enough; it wasn’t that they looked wrong, they just looked clueless. Random.

Anyway. Working on a 70s tribute site, and you want to capture all its horrors? Here you go.

It occurred to me today as I was leaving the office that I have lost my purpose in life. Not my will, just my purpose. Gnat goes to school this fall, and she’ll be there all afternoon. Back to the office for me. We’ll still have our mornings, I suppose, but this is more or less the end of How Things Have Been. My job, my role, my purpose as the More Or Less Constant Presence is about to be subsumed in a sea of teachers and friends as I slowly retreat to the sidelines and shadows. I hate it.

Then again there are more pressing matters, such as the fact that the fellow behind me is either removing a loose tooth or having sex with a clementine; it’s an odd small squishing sound, and does not surprise me at all. He entered weird, talking to himself, said “puppy!” out loud when he saw a small dog on the sidewalk, went out to look at it, came back in, and unpacked his computer – which, from the sound of it, was secured with seventeen inch-wide NASA-grade Velcro strips.

Update: the blues singer is a man. That’s spelled M, A, N. A man. He’s one. Yes he is.

Anyway. It is natural to count for less in your child’s life; it’s a sign things are going well, and you did not raise something the authorities have requested you keep at home, chained to a radiator. Doesn’t mean my work is done. Just that I’m coming to the end of the way things were done. I have to come up with something new. I don’t want to spend all the time at the office, since nothing is less conducive to work or imagination. My ideas, such as they are, come from being out here! Among the people! The soup-sucking over-velcro’d people and their cell phones with their amusing rings. (Bolero? BOLERO? Did you get that in case you wanted the phone to ring for 16 minutes?) It doesn’t make sense to stay in a newspaper office, where nothing happens of interest to its customers. I don’t want to go to the office, twiddle my thumbs, clean out the mailbox, then walk around downtown looking for urban details. I’ve done that. I’ve found them all. There aren’t any more.

Amend that – the telephone above is new to me. I drove by it daily all the time I lived in St. Paul, and never noticed it; if I did, I forgot. Snapped it last Saturday.

Well, there’s still cooking. Maybe I’ll really get into cooking.


Update: the singer hasn’t been right since his baby done gone.

That one I get.

Many riches: new Fence, new addition to the Archives, new screedblog. See you tomorrow.

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