In my imagined future world of urbane perfection my friends always drop ‘round unannounced for coffee and cigars; we sit outside, toast the high noon sun, chew over current events, chuckle like gentlemen who’ve seen a few things. In my very real present, my friends actually do drop by, unannounced. Idiots! What are they thinking? Fer criminey’s sake! The doorbell bonged at 11 AM this morning; Jasper went nuts, and I headed to the front porch expecting to see the UPS man trotting away. But no: the Crazy Uke, suited up for the money wars. What the hell? Oh: right: I wrote about his church yesterday. But the house is a mess! I’m in curlers! I have to get Gnat dressed! Come in, come in, excuse the mess.

He wanted to see the Oak Island Water Feature before, as he put it, I erupted in homicidal rage. I get letters expressing the same curiosity from Europe, so I guess I should post a few more pictures soon. Along with a PayPal bail-fund link. Just in case.

Since he’s reading this: thanks for stopping by. Please to be coming in subsequent times between 1:10 and 1:37, which is officially scheduled downtime before I go to the office.

Not that I went to the office. Oh, I tried; I suited up, wore good khakis and sharp shoes; I wrote the column standing up, as usual, at the kitchen table, wearing a tie. But then I remembered that Thursdays are now the day where I go out and look for things to write about. There is nothing in the office to write about, after all. So I took off the tie, and went to work in my own way. And now I am here.

For variety’s sake I am at the local Caribou Coffee shop – a term I’ll have to qualify soon, since they’re putting up another one a few blocks south of Jasperwood. That one will live in the dead husk of an old movie theater; this one stands inside an early 20th century commercial node. This building is here because streetcars stopped at this spot. Or vice versa? In any case, it’s a perfect record of how neighborhoods change: once this corner had a drug store, a butcher, a gas station, a small grocery. Things you could walk to get and carry home. Now it’s all interior design, restaurants that don’t bother to put their name on the window, a coffee shop, and a gift store with 9,000 varieties of scented-soap and anti-Bush collectables. There’s nothing here anyone needs.

Nice little coffee shop, even if they ask if they can start a coffee drink for you. It makes that sound like such a long and arduous procedure. Great! We’ll begin the work on the blueprints promptly, and we should begin construction within the month. But they have a trivia question. “What kind of gum did Walter Diemer invent?” Hmm. You immediately rule out the Wrigley varieties. How about . . . Chiclet? No; I suspect that name is attached to small shiny exoskeletal gum not because it was unique, but because it was the only one of its kind that survived. The clerk pointed out the hint on the chalkboard – several spheres nestled in what appeared to be a field of small marbles. They had fizzing lines on top. Bombs? Bomb gum? Anarchist Gum?

“They’re BUBBLES!” she said. Oh! So he invented soap gum? Ha! Ha! Oh, I’m good.

Actually, he invented not just bubble gum, but “Double Bubble.” I’ll have to investigate this; I thought “Double Bubble” was one of those brands that upped the ante, put the industry on notice, threatened to set off a race: gentlemen, we have a Bubble Gap. But if there was a Treble Bubble, no evidence survives. Maybe everyone just pulled back from the brink, realizing where this could lead. But if “Double Bubble” was the first bubble gum, why emphasize the doubled quantity? For one thing, bubble-blowing is usually performed one at a time, and if you were introducing the product you wouldn’t want people to think they could exhale a perfect set of chicle-based mammaries. Instead of making them amazed by the ability to blow one bubble, they’d be instantly disappointed by their inability to blow two.

People are like that.

Surprise: ran into a local radio legend here at the coffee shop. Haven’t seen him in 12 years, perhaps; last time was the balcony of the Calhoun Beach Club, I think. He was between radio gigs at the time, radio being what it was, and was doing proto-podcasting via cassette tapes; now he’s trying the subscription model. I think that’s the future; we just have to work out the economics. A buck per 30 minutes seems right, if the show moves at a proper clip and the participants are leaning into the enterprise. I am loathe to ever think about charging for the Diner (oh crap crap crapity crap, the FARGIN’ DINER, I have to do that tonight) because that seems presumptuous, and because there’s so much other good free stuff out there, and because it’s drivel. Just buy the books! Twice, if you have to.

Anyway. Another cool dim day. The Oak Island Water Feature All-Star Repair Team showed up this morning. Actually, one of them showed up yesterday. Same guy I’d seen the day before, I think; I’m not sure. There are many men working on this project. The Saturn V booster had a smaller work crew. This new guy is young, presents a fair amount of unnecessary metal, but he takes the project seriously. He said he thinks there’s a leak.

Really! You don’t say. Do tell.

Right here, he said. He showed a piece of loose rubber in the liner. (They ripped up some of the stone facing to inspect the liner.) I said I doubted that it was small enough to drain the tank after an hour. It may be responsible for the tank draining after the project is shut off, which is an entirely different leak. His general opinion: rip it all up and do it again, because he’s not going to be responsible for someone else’s lousy job.

I liked the sound of that. Unfortunately, one of the other guys showed up this morning, slathered patching material on the liner, and reattached some stones with clear gunk. (The story of this particular stone, and why the sight of it rankles me, I will save for next week.) I expect that’s it for a while. The OIWF has been ripped up now for seven days – ten next Monday. And by “ripped up” I mean heaps of dirt, a mudslide, stones everywhere.  Pictures, and grim murderous commetary, to follow.


The Diner is done; that was easy, if stupid. Some audio problems, but that’s because I’m shouting over a cover band that set up in the Diner while I was trying to have a civilized discussion of British Depression-era dance music. Also, at one point I say the punks looked like they came from 1997; I meant 1977. Note: I am not kidding about the letter from the BBC. That's all I'll say for a while.

The Diner MP3 is here, but must you? Really?  Click the link below for the page  that has the embedded art. (Hit the archive page, since iWeb seems to take its sweet time to update.) Screedblog is not up. Sorry. I'll try again Monday, but you'll forgive me? All in all, a good week for the site, no? I’m happy. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you in three days with a report on the last of the Minnesota Youth Symphony concert. This time I'm shooting a video, so you'll finally see what I'm talking about. Thanks for the patronage! See you Monday.


c. j. lileks 2006. Email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.