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I’m skipping a block party; too much to do. The kids will be watching Shrek on a sheet strung up in the alley. Or at least that’s what I think they said. Maybe Shrek will be strung up in the alley then wrapped in a sheet. And maybe by “Shrek” they meant “Mr. Shank,” who moved in a few weeks ago and put up a really ugly fence everyone hates. Singly, we can only scowl as we pass, but get a mob - especially one enflamed by unpopular aesthetic choices, I mean, for heaven's sake CHAIN LINK - and you never know. I might amble down and see, later. Now I have to finish this and a Diner and the buzzwork before I watch a little TV. I’m going back to the first season of the Sopranos. Compared to the last, it’s almost like “Happy Days.” 

Did Fonzie have a job? At all? What did he do, sell reefer and Spanish Fly to the high school kids seven years after he’d been kicked out? If you had a daughter like Joanie, would you let that guy live over your garage?

Meetings at the paper today, including one with a chap who did buzz before, and gets the site right down to the electrons; he has some nifty ideas, and can’t wait to have him writing again. (Paternity leave  kept him off the site.) More the merrier. If I can get the site up to 12 posts a day, I’ll be happy. And of course there’s the redesign, which looms large in my mind – no more dog-faced kid, for starters, but a new look that just pings off the screen. If recent Bleat graphics have seemed a bit rushed, it’s because I’ve been spending spare time on that. (The picture above is an old Sears store in St. Paul, a classic piece of mid-60s-style architecture that will someday fall, unloved. None of that stuff will survive.) But enough about that. Anything else?

Well, cool clouds:

I shot those outside the school where Gnat had a make-up piano lesson. It seemed odd to go in the middle of the week; usually piano is the sign that everything’s done, and now it’s pizza and the weekend. But nothing is done anymore, of course. The Off switch has been soldered in the On position. As I’ve said before, fine: all that weary where-are-we-going weltschmertz was flushed out a month ago, and the strange, useless, reflexive sadness that so many commonplace things evoked is gone as well. No time for it, for one thing, but for another I’ve just had to let it go. It may be true that the stairwell of the school reminds you of “Back to the Future” set, and that reminds you of the whole post-war spirit of cultural confidence and optimism – which was of course underscored with Red Dread and saturated with racism and conformity, but let’s not go there now, because that light fixture is like Proust’s madelaine, you could stare at it for hours, so much does it evoke. Fine, fine, but we have to go do things now.

It’s not like I let it go; it feels more like it let me go, odd as that seems. Maybe it was something I realized last weekend, when posting that Back to the Future YouTube link  -  the movie, which I still think is a perfect little thing, was made in 1985. Marty was sent back to 1955. If they made the movie today, he’d go back to 1977.

Think about that. 1977 would look like today, minus computers. Same clothes, same Pink Floyd tunes on the classic rock station, same smear of gimcrack commercial architecture interspersed with stalwarts from the 20s. Color TV, Star Wars, angry Iran. Marty could order a Pepsi Free in 1977, and they’d think it was a sugarless brand they hadn’t gotten yet. 

Loved this entry at Tim Blair’s site, but of course I love them all. He’s discussing a play called “Osama, My Hero,” which is a brave piece of dissent that forces us to confront our preconceptions. Or would, if anyone in the audience didn’t already share the author’s preconceptions about other people’s preconceptions.

The play is described as “provocative.” Naturally. There's  no finer word in the modern artist’s lexicon. That’s the role of art: to resist the affirmation of societal confidence, because it leads to things like war and big cars and bigger houses in cul-del-sac burbs where pot-bellied yobs have an entire room for their NASCAR cap collection. This cannot stand; the center must not hold. That rough beast isn’t going to birth itself, you know; we have to rip it out, saddle it up and ride all the way to Bethelem so we can get on with whatever comes next. And whatever it might be it has to be better than this, because THIS is television-as-anesthesia, food packed in tinfoil, guns in all the wrong hands (citizens and soliders, neither of whom can be trusted) and a general willful refusal of everyone else to understand that this is possibly the nadir of human civilization right here, and if they’d stop enjoying their life for one – single – second for a change, they’d realize it. Over here, look at us! We are provoking you! Come and give us a grant, or we shall be forced to provoke you again with a play in which the Pope wears a suit made out of wet fresh placentas and goose-steps around the stage singing Lili Marlene!

As Blair notes, a play that makes fun of the other side would be provocative, but it would never enter their minds to do a play about a kid who’s head gets lopped off because he declares Salman Rushdie his hero. On some level they realize that the backlash would be dangerous, but they’ve laid a nice thick moist layer of rationalization over the worries: the nutters may be nuttery, but the people who oppose them are doing so for the wrong reasons, and that’s the real threat. It’s a long way from “Our Town” and “Ah, Wilderness.” And well it should be, because “Our Town” was built on a toxic waste dump and the wilderness was cut down to print TV Guides and Wall Street Journals, man.

Ah, but that’s more of that right-wing nonsense I’ve been sticking in the buzz, right? I loved the stories floating around about my Takeover, and how there was a staff boycott underway. Heh. Yes, the people who didn’t write for Buzz before, because they were busy, were now going to really, seriously not write for Buzz, because I had the incorrect opinion on marginal tax rates, or something. This assumes that people around the paper gave more than 6.3 seconds of thought to the matter, which would be generous.

I wrote about 1,600 columns for the paper in ten years, and maybe two or three had political shadings. This site certainly isn’t a daily slab of neo-con loathing, the mad daft sentiments above aside. I mean, do they read the stuff? Not to say they have to; hardly essential. But if they’re basing this on a recollection of a City Pages article from a few years ago instead of the actual work, as a whole, well, that would make them look silly. As for bringing along my vast army of knuckle-dragging cronies, I expect they will be disappointed by the topics, which have been local and non-partisan. Yes, Instapundit links -  to dangerous rants about Washington Av. Redesign and roaming kids and National Sauntering Day. (I should have hat-tipped that one to Americandigest.) The terms are useless nowadays anyway. There are statists, and there are individualists. There are pessimists, and optimists. There are people who look backwards and trust in the West, and those who look forward and trust in The World. Those are the continuums that seem to matter the most right now.

Back to work; see you at this very minute, and throughout the day.