No matter how powerful you were in your office, no matter how much you terrorized your family and browbeat the clerks at the grocery store, no matter how many imperious glares you shot at the idiots who crossed your path every day – in short, no matter how great you may have been, it will not prevent you from being a foul old bastard in a pink shirt eating a Wendy’s hamburger under a loudspeaker playing “Blondie.”

Oh, I’m making all that up except for the last part, but the fellow seemed to be one of those grousy bastards who’s been a bastard all his life, and turned grousy when he got old. He growled at the clerk to give him a spoon for his Frostie, unaware perhaps that the act of growling about anything connected with something called a “Frostie” ought to unman you right away. She pointed out – cheerfully! – that the spoons are behind you. He looked around with a startled look, as if he lived a nightmare life in which the spoons are always behind you, silent, waiting, ready to strike, worse than forks in ways you cannot imagine – they go for the eyes, don’t you know - and my God she sees them too? He took his meal over to a planter filled with plastic ferns and ate. Judging from his clothes and his general comportment, he wasn’t mad, and he wasn’t needy. He was, however, a bastard. You could tell. It just rolled off him in waves.

As for “Blondie,” the song was “Tide is High,” which I loathe, right up to and including Debbie Harry’s yips at the end. Some people said that the song marked the End of New Wave, but for heaven’s sake New Wave ended with the first Blondie song. Okay? New York “downtown” ethos meets pseudo-Moroder synths, uses square-headed frontperson for sex appeal, that’s it for New Wave. Don’t talk to me about this. I’m still bitter.

Not really. Although I do matter when these things mattered a great deal, and how we had to come up with new genres to describe every deviation from the style of the times, since it was the style that nurtured our souls and gave our lives meaning. We are living in an era when New Jersey garage rockers are successfully using the raw, nervy Kinks style and adding post-Beatles sensibility to create an entirely new style, which is as impossible to dance to as its antecedents!  Actually, to tell the truth I did think the term “post-Beatles” today, and in the correct sense of “stealing specific chords and/or harmonies.” I was driving around Lake Harriet shooting a video for – a big summer-long project about all the lakes, released sometime early in September – and “It’s a Livin’ Thing” came on the radio.  Electric Light Orchestra. 

There’s always that moment of shame when you find yourself liking a song from a group that has long passed out of favor and into the realm of ignored bands good for a punch line, but not if you’re talking to anyone under 20. I liked ELO when was in high school. Now and then I get the urge to hear some of it, just like you want a chili dog once a year. The trouble is when you get the chili dog, and it’s really, really good – like the one at the State Fair in the big Rendered Pig-Food building or whatever it’s called, and then you go back the next day for another and it’s not the same.

Anyway, it’s a silly song with discolicious trimmings, but for driving around the lake on a summer afternoon, it’s good enough.  Jeff Lynne loved to accentuate the treble in cellos.

Not the most Beatleseque song in the ELO catalog, now that I think of it. Sooooo never mind. I’d wager the old jackass in the pink shirt didn’t like the Beatles in his time – and they were his time – but faked it at parties to impress girls. I wish I knew the exact point at which it became required to love the Beatles in order to be a reasonably enlightened member of western civ. Not just like them enough for their catchy tunes and winsome ways and insouciant follicle arrangements, but believe that they were somehow the zenith of all music, the apogee of song, the toppermost of art. I agree there’s some brilliant stuff in there, some lovely tunes and new ideas. Compared to a Beethoven Sonata, though, it’s monkeys pounding on a xylophone. And I like monkeys pounding on a xylophone; don’t get me wrong. But the reverence sometimes mystifies me. Recently someone found some “lost” interview with the lads, and you’d think they found an early version of the Magna Carta.

Those are but two highlights from a fascinating day. I did enjoy shooting the video, although, as I mentioned on, you feel suspicious when you’re alone and taking pictures. The default assumption of solitary men is danger, and if he has a camera, it’s perv. In the evening I went to get a new pair of sunglasses at Penney’s, the only place that carries clip-ons around here. I don’t know why, but I took pictures outside the place; it’s the oldest mall in the country, and has some godforsaken spots. At least the paint is fresh:

Who deposited a bottle by the hydrant, or why, we will never know. Well, the “Why” part is easy; it was empty.

Stopped by the bottle shop to buy a bottle. Pace the Bleat a few days about three-word ad slogans separated by a period:

No, that doesn’t quite work as well as they think it does.

Big new Minneapolis addition: the Grain Exchange. A preview:

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