Oh, to hell with the news. I have a backed-up drain in the floor in the basement dumping rusty crud everywhere. Have to get Roto-Rooter in soon, despite the impending Depression. It reminds you that life goes on. Or rather money goes out. No doubt people all over America had plumbers in to fix the toilet on the worst day of the Cuban Missile Crisis; must have seemed odd and futile, but at the same time a comforting reassertion of normalcy. Things may be grim, but we can still flush. In fact in times like these we need to flush more than ever.

Heh: odd how “flush with cash” meant one thing in 2005, and something else entirely in 2008.

I’m of two minds on the bailout – reasonable people object, but on the other hand, let’s not just wreck everything today because we want to stand on principles, okay? I don’t mind people standing on principles except when they’re also standing on my throat, and if it’s a choice between Liquidity with Troubling Implications and A Firm Stance On Sound Ideas that Incidentally Throws Everyone Into Super-Harsh Bankruptcy A-Go-Go, well, I cave. I’d also like to see the Congress manage to pass something without yoking a hundred dead-eyed hobby-horses to the bill, too; when I learned that Sen. Reid wanted to attach an amendment that extended the ban on shale oil exploration and drilling, almost 16% of my brain liquefied and shot out my ears.

Economic perturbations aside, a fine day, except for some problems at school. Natalie put a “kick me” sign on a classmate’s back. AISOT, I’m glad she respects the classics, but she got in dutch. She owned up to it right away when the teacher asked WHO DID THIS, which is good. We have to initial the note and she has to write an apology. It weighed on her, which is heartening. You don’t want your kid to be sad, but if she’s sad for the right reasons, well, let that be a lesson, as parents are fond of saying. She cheered up in time for her piano lesson, and when it was done she played a new composition she wrote. Her wonderful teacher wrote it out, so we have a record of the composition. She wanted to call it “Animal Parade,” and I liked that – it’s almost toddleresque. You expect Pokemon Battle March at this point, and the idea of woodland creatures tootling wind instruments seems sweet.  Unless it’s the ones in the third movement of Mahler’s First. They’re having a sarcastic funeral.

No one wants a sarcastic funeral.

Did you spend too much time on that old-sign flickr to which we linked yesterday? If so, you learned a new term: Vacuform Sign. It all makes sense now. Signs like this – cheap and ugly (and that’s one of the better ones) infected the landscape in the Seventies, and they had a depressing generic ugly uniformity that reeked of cheapness and urban decline. The term “Vacuform” revealed how they were made – I assume the plastic was warmed, then pulled over a template arranged to the customer’s specifications. These jaundice-blots were everywhere.

Compare to this. So what happened?

I’ve been asking that question for the last 20 years. You can’t blame it all on some great amorphous cultural shift, and you can’t conclude that everything looked this good. It didn’t. You can’t delude yourself into thinking that all the men wore hats and cool ties, and the women smart dresses with nets around their hair and flame-red lipstick, and the air smelled like bread and the night sounded like crickets and frogs and big-band wafting from a window down the street. I’m sure it was like that, now and then, but that’s editing out the toothaches and drunken husbands and money worries and war fears and all the other details that make up the innumerable mental landscapes we can never reconstitute. The mute metal and dumb bricks survived, though, and we think they have a lesson or a moral.

They don’t. Right? It’s not like this tells you anything about the culture that produced it. About its optimism and prosperity and ability to remake the days to come in its own image, and make a buck in the process. Nope.

The cumulative effect of these pages is sad, and not a little disturbing. You begin to wonder if Ohio emptied out entirely, and is populated mostly by fathers and sons pushing over-laden grocery carts through sooty, deserted cities.

On the other hand: probably not.

New Diner! Pertinent and timely as today’s headlines. Here, or here. Also a new column at Startribune.com.

Now, something else. I mentioned the other day that I’d finally seen the Twin Peaks pilot again, after all these years. Netflix got the new re-re-release. It also has the European Ending, which wraps up the mystery – then drops the Red Room and the backward-talking dwarf on you, without explanation or conclusion. In the European Ending, Laura Palmer’s mother has a vision of her daughter’s room on the morning she found her missing, and who should appear at the foot of the bed?


Bob is actually dead in real life, and he still freaks me out. Turns out he was a set dresser who worked on other Lynch films, and stumbled into the part by unusual circumstances. While watching the pilot, I noticed something:

See it?

Says wikipedia – and believe me, this really isn’t a spoiler:

"Later that day, a scene was being filmed in which Laura Palmer's mother experiences a vision which frightens her; at the time, the script did not indicate what Mrs Palmer had seen to frighten her. Lynch was pleased with how the scene turned out, but a crew member informed him that it would have to be re-shot, because a mirror in the scene had inadvertently picked up someone's reflection. When Lynch asked who it was, the crew member replied that it had been Silva. Lynch considered this a "happy accident," and decided at that point that the unnamed character to be played by Silva would be revealed as Laura Palmer's true killer."

The best art always has an accidental element.

For the weekend, a reminder:

Doesn't narrow it down, does it? They sing everywhere. Beauty doesn't have to mean a thing, which is why it matters when it does. I suppose. Ever heard of Herbert Harty? Conductor and composer from the Sceptered Isles. He gave us this - Ode to a Nightingale.

Birds sing pretty here too. Have a fine weekend; see you at buzz.mn, and here on Monday. With a surprise! I hope.