You found it. Good for you. Yes, it's old-style and ugly. That's the point. This is what the Bleat looked like the day it began a decade ago. Ten years! In internet years, I’m already dead. The graphic above is an approximation of the original banner, which was intended to mimic the look of the KEDS logo on the back of my childhood sneakers. Really. The first entry was nothing special, but it contained references to Jasper Dog and the Giant Swede, both of which are still with us. Otherwise, a few things have changed.

I was living at 5226 Girard Avenue South, writing on an underwhelming Performa with a  630 X 480 screen; no iTunes, rudimentary video-in, no TiVo, no broadband. The site was hosted on AOL. Yet we were happy. Why, we didn’t know we were poor. The main index page had a link to the Gallery of Regrettable Food, which was about 30 pages long with tiny grainy graphics. I didn’t have a scanner – I imported graphics by shooting them with a video camera and using a rudimentary screen-capture card to get the image into Photoshop. Of course, back then we called it “Rotogravure Shop,” and we wore onions on our belts as was the custom in those times. If you’d told me that I’d get a book out of the Gallery in four years, I would have been delighted. In 1997 I had come to believe my career had stalled for good, after all. I started the Bleat because “web diaries” were all the rage, and the website  - begun a year earlier – had become my primary means of filling my empty hours.

I had a lot of empty hours.

Within a few months, everything would change; I got the Diner radio show, and was hired by the Strib, and I found myself with everything I had ever wanted. There was a perfect moment one summer Friday night: it was 12:30 AM, I was driving home from KSTP in my new sports car with the sunroof open, music blasting, warm air flowing in the windows; I’d started at the Strib but hadn’t yet written a column. (They gave me a month to come up with the first one.  A month!) I had it all. This was as good as it got. I’d done it.

Now what?

I left the Diner, because it was hard to stay up late and go to the office in the morning. I settled in to a nice comfy groove – three columns a week, five quick Bleats. Dog photography, magazine scans. I hit forty. I sold a book. Then the three big life-changing events: Gnat, the new house, the war. It’s surprising to realize that I’ve spent half of the ten years  - more, really – here at the kitchen table, banging it out on the same broad slab of granite.  Now I’m back doing the Diner in a form I find easy and delightful; the site is a thing of its own, a hobby-job job / hobby; I still have the column, industry convulsions notwithstanding, and I’m working on the fifth book in the series of tomes spun off from the site.

For all this I am grateful, and for your patronage and encouragement I am doubleplus indebted.

Some Bleat graphics from the early years, stacked on top of each other in '97 style:

Back when I drank te stuff. Note the size: in the old days that filled half the screen.

From a 1930s book on the perils of indigestion, it's Mr. Cheeks O'Vomit:

I have no idea what I intended this to mean. I know the source - it's an old TV commercial for a soap or coffee or aftershave; whatever the substance, it made good wives Naughty.

Not bad - an early attempt at remixing an old ad. In those days text-rotation options were quite limited.

An urchinoid!

Those fonts, they're like old friends.

Anyway: here's to another ten. There's a Diner today - I prefer that you hit this link, which is remarkably compact, and has the embedded art that gives you the Full Diner Experience. If it doesn't work, the twice-as-big MP3 version is here. Have a grand weekend, and thanks again. See you Monday.