Column night, so you'll excuse the thin pickings. YOU WILL excuse them. I will not provide an option for thin-picking refusal.

There is so much white noise at the Hub I don’t know how the editors stay awake. It’s the best aural anesthesia around, and it certainly brings peace and calm to the place, but I’d be out in five minutes. Where I sit there’s less of it; I only notice it when I pay attention. But at the Hub it’s like they’re being gassed.

(The Hub is the news nexus, the circular table around the video monitors.)

Can’t nap without white noise. Well, brown noise. White’s a bit too hissy after you’ve gotten used to brown; it’s like the difference between red wine and champagne. We have a small humidifier with three settings: Hardly Anything, Goldilocks, and LISTEN TO ME. There’s also an air purifier that removes bad stuff in allergy season (Wife’s afflicted, not me) and it operates at a similar frequency. The two combine into something almost as good as ambient airplane noise. Speaking of which: I cannot fall asleep to the real ambient sound when I’m on a plane. I put on noise-canceling earbuds and listen to the airplane noise setting on my white noise app.

The app, if you’re curious, is Noisly, and it has many sounds you can combine to create the perfect background sound. There’s a crackling fire - nice, but I imagine that everything in your instincts fights against letting that sound lull you to sleep. That would make a good alarm. Waves: good. Throbbing Ship Sounds: a nice throwback to the days when you could hear the ship and feel the ship. There’s no sound of the engines when you’re 12 stories above the engine room. Wind through the trees? Too much of a Twin-Peaks vibe. Rain is good, but you know it’s not real. You have to experience rain by other means, the way the atmosphere saturates, the tap of the drops on the window. Otherwise it’s just synthetic.

Of course, it’s all synthetic, which is why I use Brown noise to drift off.

How did I sleep before this?

Because I didn’t need noise. Because I hadn’t thought I needed noise. The quiet of my childhood house was punctuated, if at all, by a passing car, a barking dog, the wind in the tall trees in the backyard. That’s what night sounded like: nothing, sullied infrequently by something, then instantly repairing itself. If there had been Brown Noise I would have wondered what it was, fixed on it, tried to explain, and gone to sleep despite it - at least until I got used to it.

When was the last time you heard a strange noise? Not a noise you could identify but not justify - a squeaking sound of a trod-upon board, the shriek of a window sash going up, and no one around to make the sounds. I mean a sound outside of the realm of your experience.

There’s a sound that comes from the cold square throat of the exit ramp across the street: for a while I was convinced he said CAUTION. CHIPOTLE. That's what it sounded like from across the street.


The rest of the ramps say CAUTION. CAR APPROACHING. This is not that. Again:

Caution! The Chipotle.

The slightly misplaced accent is what knocks it out of true.

This week we take a look at the treasures to be found at my favorite museum / antique store . . .

Obscure sodas abound.

What did it taste like? Ain't gonna tell ya.

Okay, I will. Berkshire Eagle:


Squeeze Beverages Inc. was founded in Adams in 1920. According to Eagle files, Adams resident Piotr Gwozdz (pronounced Ga-voosh), began the company by bottling soda in the same building as the Gwozdz dry cleaning business at 102 Summer St.

In 1931, the company became affiliated with the Orange Squeeze Bottling Co. of New Orleans. In 1947, the operation was moved to Howland Avenue.

When the New Orleans plant went out of business in the 1940s, the company kept the name and continued bottling and selling the Adams version of Orange Squeeze.

The iconic logo, featuring a boy and girl sitting on a bench, arm in arm, is actually adapted from a cover from the Saturday Evening Post.




And there you have it. And I'm sure that's just a tenth of the story. But we tell what we can.



Nice little town of 3100+ souls. Part of the Green Bay area. It was named something else before it settled on Algoma in 1897; an Indian work meaning "Park of Flowers." Maybe. It has an interesting characteristic, and you may have differing opinions on the matter. But we'll get to that.

Whoever did the bottom floor makeover was, I'm sure, quite certain this was doing the building a favor.

Note how the building just gives up and goes back to wood after a while. Makes you wonder if you could just pick off that brick facade with a claw hammer.

A person deciding to paint a building might wonder why no one had done this before.

Ground floor: 50s-style modern brick facade; has nothing to do with the rest of the building, which is an entirely different animal above the awning.

This is not a good idea.

Another late first-floor rehab, and here the stone - no doubt slightly polychromatic - are painted the same grey. Still not the greatest idea, but it's better than the Mustard Palace above.

You can detect the outlines of the old display windows on the ground floor.

Pizza Bowl! It sells pizza and there's bowling.

Nice! Masons? IOOF? Don't know.

Everything looks original, or restored. This may have hailed from the prosperous era when Algoma had one of Lake Michigan's biggest fishing fleets. There's money in that building, and pride in 1906.

Late sixties / early seventies blunder, and perma-wood shutters. But . . .

What's that on the side? Nice little mural. Not the sort of thing you find in towns these size.


Now you may see why I chose Algoma. Not one mural. Not two. No ghost signs - all fresh and bright. Here's more:


This one looks like a fresh tattoo:

I love these, but - and this will sound odd - I will like them more when they're faded. There are lots and lots of murals, and the town has assembled them all in one page. At press time, not a damned link works.

There will come a time when no one reads the building on the right for what it was, and just thinks it's a strange little structure that had more roof than it needed.

Old gas stations like this are rare, and I suspect the tanks are still down there.

Finally: this used to be something else. Either you recognize it or you don't.

I ran this picture past a few friends in my demographic, and everyone got it in seconds. What's the key to understanding the sign?

The key, that's what.

And that'll do it for Thin-Pickings Thursday. Oh wait no, it won't: some Fargo stuff below. Only one more week, and then it's the seasonal return of Motel Postcards, a great favorite far and wide. See you around.


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