Finally: I nabbed an recording of the Al Swearengen Diamond commercial that’s been running on the radio. Every day I mean to  turn on the devices at the top of the hour and snag it off the network feed; today I remembered. It’s Ian McShane reading love poetry. Combined with a few choice Al quotes and some banjo-ahppy  yee-haw music assembled in Garageband, I think I have a hit on my hands.

Not the high-water mark for the day, but close.

Turned in all the works, finished up around one. Did housework. Looked out the window, checked for snow: nay. Swabbed  the floors with those pre-moistened Swiffer towels (“Because you’re too lazy to get out a fargin’ bucket, and we know it”) and sprayed the stainless steel surfaces with stainless steel surface cleaner. It does nothing, as far as I can tell, and whenever I catch the slightest whiff of the stuff I cannot catch my breath for half an hour, but it comes in a nice retro can, so I cannot resist. I also recommend their glass cleaner, which has an aroma that will bring middle-aged persons straight back to grade school. It’s not exactly ditto fluid, but it’s close.

I’m not in the usual Bleat-writing spot; I’m in my studio, surrounded by heaps of Things that need to be categorized and organized, spindled, folded, mutiliated, et cetera. With a heavy heart I realized I have not yet turned the archival compulsions towards the matchbooks, and that means I’ll spend my leisure hours in 07 separating the books from the combustible elements. Fine; some people do yoga, some people meditate, I arrange. Serves the same function. And in the end after 30 years of yoga, what do you have? A supple spine. Can anyone sell a supple spine for $3.00 at an estate sale after you’re dead? Depends on the disposition of your remains, I suppose. But it’s not just the separation. It’s not the sorting. It’s not even the ironing. (Yes, they must be ironed. Ironed FLAT.) What do I -

I caught myself, since I was about to say something stupid, like “what do I put them in?” Duh. I should also note that occasional forays into matchbook collection sites reveals that the genre is one of the ugliest on the web. And the dorkiest. As one site puts it:

As far as categories go, restaurants are a good starting point. They easily break down into cafes, lunches, seafood, ethnic, and so forth. Ethnic restaurants further break down into Chinese, Mexican, French. Sub- classification by city and state can include chain, single-site restaurants attached to hotels, out-of-business restaurants, and more. Adjunct eating places such as bars, grills, taverns, and pubs can also be included.

Hell, for me, consists of sitting in a close, ill-ventilated room with a fellow who has a complete restaurant collection of the United States arranged by sub-classification. “I wondered whether I should go state, city, district, café, ethnic, out-of-business, or group the collection by Ethnic, in-business, state, city, then of course out-of-business, state, city – but that just plays heck with your city collection! What to do, what to do.” He would never hear the soft whistle the folding chair made as I swung it through the air at his head.

But yet I am that fellow, I suppose. We're all that fellow to someone else, about something.

Went to the office to hear a lecture from the newspaper’s parent-chain Jerusalem correspondent. It would have been frustrating for people expecting Naked Bias one way or the other; the fellow was assiduously neutral. Of course, you could say that’s bias in itself, and I understand; I only mean to say that he dealt in the facts of the region without editorial shadings. This takes effort, particularly if you’ve been kidnapped for a day while reporting in Gaza, as he was. But people seem to expect that. Ah, those impulsive Hamasserites – Hamassians – whatever. Always with the kidnapping and the demands! Ya knuckleheads. Every foreign correspondent in Jerusalem knows that they will not be kidnapped by the Mossad in exchange for Jonathan Pollard; they know it’s unwise to  visit lovely Gaza without a car behind you stuffed with hired muscle. Yet the tone – the goal – is a neutral voice, as though they were dealing with regional managers for Pepsi and Coke. I understand why. But on another level, I don’t.

Got an email today from a photo editor at the Fargo Forum; they wanted a copy of a picture I had on the old Fargo site. Nixon at the Public Library. I said I’d try to find it. Incurious me, I didn’t ask why – but tonight while googling for Fargo blogs I discovered the reason. The old library is closing. The old library will suffer the Ball and the Claw, and a new one will rise on the spot. Presumably they’re getting the books out first. It’s a good idea, I suppose – the old library (built in 1967) was a perfect expression of library design at the time, and that’s the problem. It had two wings of equal size – kids and adults- and this, as you might imagine, put a crimp on the grown-up collection. The building was two stories tall, but the rooms had only one floor, with a mysterious librarians-only mezzanine connecting the wings. (Mortals were not allowed up there.) The previous library was a cramped drafty Carnegie joint with clanking registers and creaky floors, and I’m sure they wanted the latest modern design for intellectual contemplation. White walls, stark black chunky letters, stainless steel fixtures – I tell you, it was like a lab from “The Andromeda Strain,” and I loved it. All libraries are embassies, and this one represented a logical place ruled by benevolent rationality. All hail Dewey and his blessed decimals.

Over the years the original design was lost, and it looked . . . overgrown. You can’t update modernism; you either leave it alone or tear it down. I’m sad to see it go, but  understand: something with windows would be nice. That’s right:  the designers were so besotted with their empty spacious interior that they only allowed thin slits through which the outside world could be observed – and these were constrained by slabs of aggregate that jutted out around the glass, as if to shield you from Stabby the Sun. The new one, I expect, will be Fun and Engaging and a Vital Part of the Community, and I’m certain books will always be involved. But I’ll miss it. One day in 197x or so, I wandered back to the bound periodicals and discovered the entire run of Life magazine, and nothing was quite the same after that.

I should post pictures, but alas: I was working on the all-important Banks subsite. Ten pages with a punchline. Here you go, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Oh, and thanks for voting! I won, as it turned out, and that was a nice little kick. Something I can mention to the new editor, whoever that happens to be.

Speaking of which – I’d like to introduce myself to the new editor as “one of your carbon blobs from Sector 7-G,” but do you think an editor would get the reference? More to the point, should he or she get the reference? Probably not necessary. But I’d dissolve with relief if she did.


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