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Saturday before piano, we’re waiting for the class ahead of us to conclude. Little kids. Probably playing the same Yamaha songs.

“We’re the adventurous kids,” I sang.

“The ones,” she said. “You went and got those rocks. Did Mom make you?”

I don’t think so. But I remember that there was a moment in the recital when the kids were singing the Adventurous Kids song, where the line “all the treasures in the world” was the cue for her to open a box and show aforementioned Treasures, and we didn’t have them. I left the recital and drove to Pier One and bought a box and rocks, and I remember my odometer turned 1,000 in the parking lot.

Of course I have it on video.

After piano daughter wanted to go Thrift Store shopping. She wanted a vintage cheap windbreaker made from unnatural fabrics, because it was Retro. (Meaning: 90s.) I suggested the Ragstock at the mall, and she said sure, but the Uptown store was bigger. Click; click; balance the convenience of the nearby mall vs. a Real Authentic Urban Experience in Uptown. No question. Hit the freeway, got off at Excelsior, and there we were staring at five cop cars and a fire truck and an ambulance and two white cars at sick angles, plastic puked up on the road, airbags hanging out like sad spent condoms. A week ago it was me. Now it’s them. It’s always someone, every day.

On the way to Ragstock I gave her some info on the building, how it had been a Pier One, how the building was originally a Hastee Tastee restaurant back in the day, designed in the modern style by the famous team of Liebenberg and Kaplan who also did the extraordinary movie theater down the street. She loves Uptown, because it’s so . . . hip, even though she jokes and waves away the word. But I know what she means. It’s what drew me there so many years ago. So it’s History Time, as I tell her what that was and why it matters, how that bar there is in my last novel, and this building was the site of the Chinese restaurant the characters went to after that scene, and so on.




That vintage smell. Mothballs? Rot? Mold? It’s not unpleasant. The basement location, the funky decor, the whimsy and idiosyncratic decor - it’s anti-Target, it’s anti-Macy’s, it’s REAL! in a way that chain stores aren’t. and she loves it. She found her windbreaker on a rack with a sign that said 90s JACKETS and all was well with the world.

But here we are on a blustery day with time; let’s stroll. Hit Calhoun Square, sadly depopulated; showed her the location where I passed a pet store and saw Jasper Pup in the window. Down the block to Cheapo, the reseller of CDs and albums, and here we had great fun. (CDs are already dead tech to her, of course.) She not only saw vinyl, but 8-TRACK TAPES. She found a postcard that was too cool. She discovered the posters, and to Dad’s enormous happiness decided to get a picture of a Miami Beach Deco hotel. If she’d chosen something with tie-dye colors and Bob Marley I would have thought well, a phase, I love her anyway. But this? Deco? A tailfin car out front?

Obi-wan has taught you well, I thought. Okay never mind that Vader had the line.

I bought a record for the Vinyl site. We walked down the block to a pizza place and did that cool urbany thing: we had a slice. Went to Lunds to get salad for dinner, and I told daughter that back in the 80s this was the grocery store where the hip young urban singles supposedly met on the weekend.

“That’s so romantic! Exchanging meaningful looks over the apples.”

Having lived there at the time and made absolutely no romantic connections at all, and remembering standing in line looking at New York Times headlines about how AIDS WILL KILL EVERYONE WHO HAS SEX, yeah, well. The last person I met at Lunds I knew was Mose, if that was his name.

We gave him an old Bluesman name the first year in college, or he asked that we call him that. I can’t recall. He was a tall gawky guy with 60s black-rimmed glasses and mid-60s hair, before the hippies, after the tight-and-high buzzcut of the folk singers. The vibe that year was Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, so a big geeky guy who was really, really into the Kinks would have been out of place, except he made his case and made everyone understand why the Kinks were great. Plus, he was always cheerful. Big hearty laugh. One night everyone got drunk and dragged him out of bed, including his mattress, and sent him down to the girl’s floor.

Several years later - many, perhaps twenty - I ran into him working the meat counter at Lund’s. Hadn’t changed. Hadn’t aged. Same glasses. Same hair.

“Mose,” I said, realizing that may or may not have been his name.

It’s been a decade and I still expect to see him there. In the wind, alas.

Dinner that night: daughter’s friend and her mom came over. Her mom was in the band I played in briefly, and she’s now a bassist in four bands. FOUR. Six-foot-tall rocker mom who also writes HTML. I remember one of the tunes we jammed on: “You Really Got Me.”

Mose, he would approve.

“That was a fine excursion,” I’d said to daughter as I started the car and drove - past the apartment building where the Giant Swede lived in those old days.

"It was,” she said. “Of course here I am with my father, instead of some cute guy.”

I laughed.

“I’m kidding,” she said, but she wasn’t. But she was. But she wasn’t. I understood.

I mentioned we had gone to piano, as usual. While she was plinking away I took some pictures of the building, When she came out I was shooting video, and of course she was annoyed: WHY.

Well, here’s why. She’s decided that she wants to continue with her teacher to take voice lessons, but piano is over. It didn’t take. It was always hard. The notes on the page never took; she never grasped that language, and while she’s quite musical - she sings, constantly - the connection between the black lines and the music itself was never forged, and piano lessons have become a least-priority item in the busy week of a teen. The recital was the last.

This lesson was the last. When I reminder her that this was the last lesson it was total ton-of-bricks time, and she stopped, stunned, as if seeing the walls made of brick revealed to be constructs of sugar, blasted by hot water.

It was over.

We had switched from Friday lessons to Saturday two years ago, and this was intentional on my part: dynamite the Friday ritual. School bus, piano, pick up the pizza. That had been gone for a while. The lessons were one-on-one, not group, so there wasn’t the camraderie with the other mothers and kids. But it was the same place, the same extraordinary teacher, the same . . . same things, I don’t know. I hope the voice lessons continue; if we’re back there in a week or two all is well, and the inevitable severing is forestalled a bit.

POOP DEAD some kid scrawled on the bulletin board in the elevator, and when she was 6 this was the funniest thing. When we were heading up for the lesson in the elevator I took a video of the bulletin board, and she said “It’s not there.”


“Poop dead.”

“They painted over it. They painted over a cork bulletin board.”

“But we will never forget you, poop dead.”

No, we won’t.

The school.

The good news: she doesn't want to quit. So we'll keep taking lessons, for voice, on Saturdays. And there'll be a little piano involved. One more tradition continued. For a while - but that's everything, no?

For a while.




No Borden this week; there's only a limited number of those wonderful tableaus. But we can't let the entry go by without some anthropomorphic spokescreature. Behold, Quisling Penny:


How the hell would she know it's wonderfully good? Are we to believe she says the rest of the copy as well, exhorting us to find tender young chicken to be richly delicious? What sort of monster wants us to enjoy whole parts of her own species? As usual, she wears an item of clothing to show her solidarity with her oppressors.

Mm-mmm - Iowa chicken!


Ten tons of old bygone package design here. It's an ad for Miracle Milk, which is dry. (Not evaporated.) Look at these things. The colors! The typefaces! (I was surprised by the Kroger logo, which I thought was from much later.)


You can still buy Fisher's mixes. X-pert was made by Modern Foods. Curtiss was known for candy, right?

Airy-Fairy? That's where the term comes from? It was an Archer-Daniels Midland product, if you're curious.

Airy-Fairy was an Archer-Daniels Midland product, if you're curious.


It may have tasted horrible, but I'll bet it did the job:

The stuff had an unpalatable reputation - no one likes the taste of Listerine, which is why Listerine had to come up with Flavored Listerine. Perhaps people respected it because it did taste so horrid; you could well imagine it was killing germs by the millions, because it tasted like death in your mouth. If Listerine Toothpaste had been flavored with mint or Pepsin! or Iridium! or some other brand-new ingredient, surely they would have told you up front. Unmodified "Listerine" is a warning.


As long as we're talking about peculiar brand extensions:

Somehow I'd suspect that Vaseline for your hair would not contain any dying ingredients.

More towels to wrap things up this week: Yes, you'll think it's Christmas all over again, despite the lack of decorations, songs, signs in the windows, shopping, cards in the mail, and so on. Otherwise, yes, just like it.

The coral-and-blue bathroom: ripped out in untold numbers in the 70s, and replaced with rough wood or octagon tiles the size of a dinnerplate.

And so the Bleat concludes and the rest begins - Classic covers, Tumblr, the Work Blog, and so on. See you around!


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