One thing I forgot to mention about yesterday’s outing with Daughter: on the way home, flipping through the music stations, she insisted on listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which of course required singing and gestures and the head-thrashing in that one spot as dictated by the scene in the Pacer in “Wayne’s World.” Afterwards I shifted into pedantic Dad mode and explained who Scaramouche was, along with Bismillah and Figaro and the rest. And really, why do we feel bad for the singer? He killed a man. Idiot.
Shoot. Had a big thing for today until I realized it would make for a good Sunday column, and if there’s one promise I have here, it’s this: I will shiv this site in the side at a moment’s notice if I can use the idea for work. Nothing personal. It’s business.
I am still enjoying the new life in the new building. The boss came around the other day, and I meant the BOSS Boss Boss, the fellow who bought us. Glen Taylor, owner of things. I was walking past and the publisher, aka the Boss Boss, waved me over to chat; all the situation needed was the Editor, so there could be Three levels of Bossdom in the same spot. Anyway, I thanked Triple-B for the new home, and we had a nice chat. Then I left to go around the corner to pick up some brochures from a countertop company owned by a guy who probably knows Triple-B, because we have decided that the kitchen needs to be updated.
Not saying this place offers expensive countertops, but the showroom has valet parking.
That was my first clue that buying this stuff would be like opening the money vein. The second was a man in a suit opening the door as I approached. He handed me off to a sales associate who walked me to a wall of samples that seemed to anticipate the arrival of Michelangelo or Bernini. This was a different experience from Home Depot, where a guy shot a thumb at the rack where the brochures were kept. You have no idea how tempting it was to say: by the way. I know the owner. I know The Boss.
Well, I do, but it’s not because we travel in the same circles. Actually, no, we do: once a year we literally travel in a circle, or at least a round-trip itinerary. He goes on the same cruise where I speak annually, along with his delightful wife and sometimes his industrious children. Long story, but they started out as dairy farmers, and now they own a countertop company, and also WHAT THE HECK WHY NOT an airline. The last time I saw him I was plowing through the ship’s main dining room in my suit on casual night, and he came up behind and said “Hey Jim! Are you going to go marry someone?” He can call me Jim because he owns an airline.
No, I’m going to drop THE NAME in the showroom, or call him up and say can you do me a solid here, but the next time I see him, and if I say I bought his countertops, he’ll probably give me a slightly hurt look and say you should have called. And then say “because I would have made sure they charged you more.” That’s what I love about the guy: when I asked him if he took his airline down to Florida to catch the cruise, he said of course, and when I asked if he paid - knowing the answer, because I know my dad - he said hell yes, company doesn’t make any money giving things away.
So that’s my brush with Minnesota money. I met the new boss, who is not the same as the old boss. As far as we could tell the old bosses were confused about what a newspaper was supposed to do, except generate diminishing amounts of money until it was dismantled and the property sold to developers. As my colleague Jon Tevlin likes to point out, during the ownership by the mysterious investor group we actually ran out of pencils, which may have been the nadir of the paper’s existence. Any paper’s existence. And now, thanks to this guy who grew up on a farm reading the day-old big city paper when it came in the mail, spreading it out on the floor to catch up on the war and the funnies, we have - literally - a new lease. Two months ago I slouched to the office in jeans and a sweater and walked around the same declining dump I’d been walking around for almost two decades, and now it’s the escalator to the elevator bank, the soft bong! that announces a car, a swift ascent into the heavens, and a bright room with a view.
I wear a tie every day. I buff my shoes before I leave the house. A new set, a new stage, a new costume.
Got home from work; envelope on the stoop. A copy of the next book from the publisher. But that’s Monday’s Bleat.
I will not do a recap of a show from a year ago you’re not watching. Who cares? BUT THOUGH HOWEVER I watched a ep of Louie set in high school in the 80s, and it’s shown, as usual, as place of sorrow and uncertainty, confusion and self-doubt levied with the occasional moment of compassion or understanding from a teacher. (Not a parent.) The school dance is shown as the mortifying thing it always is, and it made me wonder why schools inflict those on kids. The anxieties leading up to the event, the horrible act of asking someone out - your stomach compacts like a collapsing star - and the sense that you will always be standing against a wall in a dark room while a few shiny people who have their lives aligned twirl in the spotlight.
But that’s not what it was for me. Or was it? How do I find it all familiar, unless that’s what it was like?
Because things have turned out well so far, and that enables a retroactive continuity-job on your whole life. If there were no dark obstacles of note to overcome, no bleak moors to wander for weeks alone, no tragedies, no calamitous mistakes, then your perception of the past improves. But the fact that I knew what I wanted to do and was always doing it - writing - doesn’t salve the long abrasion of the early years, particularly the second act of my 20s. The fact that I got a neat job in DC is now a trophy memory, when I was hideously unhappy most of the time there. I seem to clock the Good Times as starting when I moved back in 1994, and that’s more or less true. But it ignores all the troughs.
Is it temperament that makes you pick which plot you go with? The eventual circumstances that give you the luxury of forgetting, or time’s ability to plane everything smooth, or other pretentious formulations?
Don’t know why I’ve been thinking about this lately, but I have. It's the constant reminders that everything is better - which, of course, leads directly to gnawing anxiety that it'll all come thundering down. Whom the Gods would destroy they first imbue with calm acceptance and gratitude, or something.
Later I’ll explain the Modal Shift of Brand Identity, aka, why nothing I buy now is the same as what I used to buy, except for Apple and Creamettes. Oh what a barn-burning bleat that’ll be.
Downtown construction update, with a sad final note:
The note on everyone's car warned us that the parking lot is closing today, and no more shall we park here. It was bittersweet; I've been parking here for, oh, man, a year and a half! So not so bittersweet. My previous parking spot is the site of the second tower.
I have the strangest feeling about this project now, and it's not good. I work in the heart of the city - a whole three blocks away - and this area feels like a backwater when I go back to the old parking lot with the abandoned Strib buiding. I'm sure it'll change when the park is built and the stadium looms.
Odd how something ceases to feel like the center of the universe when you don't hang around there every day any more.
As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. Of course we begin with the Couple Next Door, with its cheerful soundtrack of the mid-century domestic scene.
CND Cue #540 An old favorite, but for the first time in 600 episodes, we hear the B section.
CND Cue #541 Old Dobbin’s moving slow as he drags the milk wagon ‘round town.
Moving along with the innumerable Gunsmoke cues. If you listen to a show a day, as I've been doing, it really is amusing how just about every episode is the same, right down to the voice actors. But the music: always just a bit different.
Gunsmoke #78 We’re all agreed, then; no burials! Rare snare drum here.
Gunsmoke #79 Someone just learned a sad lesson about Life on the Frontier, I suspect.
The late-season Johnny Dollar cues, drawn from the library of big bad boss sounds:
YTJD #29 Would make for a dazzling cigarette or car commercial, too
YTJD #30 From the same batch; man, I’ll bet the full thing really swung, In the old sense of the world. Well, the sense between “Swing” music” and the 60s connotations.
To round out the radio offerings, this week's advertisement. It's from 1959, and it's for a . . . .
What should we got Mom for Christmas? I know, let's sign her up for that Readers Digest record collection!
It's all the hits of today, played by clean-cut people who don't do drugs.
Note: none of the above is present on this record.
Not a song that lends itself to the daba-daba style or the Ray Conniff-type arrangements, but there it is.
Is that enough? Strange week, it seems; all over the road. But I do love doing this site. I enjoy all these things. Only hope you enjoy 51% of it, at least.
Friday! Huzzah! Have a fine weekend, and I'll see you on the other side of the break.