Rainy again. Cold again. Bleak again. Drove daughter to a movie theater in the Longfellow neighborhood, then drove to work up some streets I haven't taken in a while. It's rare to see a neighborhood bar anymore; there used to be lots, little pocket joints where you could walk after work and stagger home, or stop off after the streetcar deposited you in your general vacinity with your lunchpail and work overalls and have City Club. So:

Gets the point across. Serious offers only.

It's the plural that somehow lifts it above Proletariat Intoxication Station #23. LIQUOR would be too blunt. LIQUORS suggests a range of choices you might enjoy, depending on the vagaries of taste. No one who wanted a drink ever balked because the sign said just LIQUOR, but the extra consonant said "it's not rock bottom. Yet."


Here’s today’s entry in the Save Cuba From Horrible Western Things Like Logos genre. It’s in our newspaper. The author is a homeopath who specializes in infectious disease and homeopathic alternatives to childhood vaccination. She is worried that Cuba will get consumer goods, signs of which pollute the modern mind in our vacuous land of wretched consumption.

In Cuba, on the other hand, I found a reprieve from this bombardment. The local economy, while bereft of many necessary items, was untouched by this influence — virgin-like, and really a breath of fresh air. It spoke of the promise of a free land that was really an expression of the people who lived there rather than what executives drum up in marketing campaigns.

The promise of a free land, for some, is always preferable to the actual example of a free land itself.

More than that, you did not feel that the people were individually corrupted by a consumer culture.

There being none, that seems likely. Remember: a consumer culture is a bad thing; you needn't explain why, just say the words, and the proper heads nod in agreement.

In the marketplaces, there were no U.S. products, no U.S. advertisements, no Coke, no Gap, no U.S. cigarettes, no chain restaurants, no multinational products, no GMOs. Only those Cubans who were able to travel to Mexico could import their rations. People had what they needed as far as food, clothing, education, medical services, employment and housing.

The “need” being less than they might want to need, but wanting to need is the sickness of capitalism, no? Of course, if they had U.S. products and the rest, they couldn’t afford them. From Michael J. Totten’s account of his trip in 2013:

In the United States, we have a minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.)

The people who work in hotels supposedly get a living wage, but the government insisted that the foreign companies pay them directly, and then they pay the workers. Sixty-seven cents a day. By the way, those “Cubans who were able to travel to Mexico” would be the richest of the rich, and hence part of the ruling class; as Totten noted, the price of a round-trip ticket to the other end of the Island cost a year’s salary.

Back to the defense of the totalitarian paradise:

Yes, they lived in a socialist economy, but individually it looked like they were free.

That’s a rather revelatory remark, and not as convincing an argument as she might think. But this is what you expect from someone whose sympathies lie not with the people who suffer under the imperfect application of her Nobile Ideas, but with some theoretical peasant who is spared the searing, shredding sensation of seeing a Coca-Cola ad on a bus shelter. It’s a sort of freedom, I guess, in the same sense that having a foot chopped off frees you from buying shoelaces in pairs.

We might think we are free, but in reality we are controlled by the media, banks and corporate interests that run this country and influence every thought we have.

And yet that sentence is published in a major newspaper. It’s odd: if you were to cast your eyes about the hemisphere for a country with a media that beams one standard line of thought, a closed monetary system that serves the rulers, and enterprises whose sole function is to enrich the oligarchy, you might find Cuba a more potent example than the United States.

As Totten points out, Cuba isn't an example of a developing country that's trying to make its way. It was a developed country that was ruined by one-party Communist rule, and the better parallel wouldn't be some struggling place that never got its feet under it, but Warsaw or Berlin. There's no question the people are worse off than under Batista, the ruler whose circumstances required a Romantic Uprising that still flutter the Aeolian harp strings of the progressives. But a revolution that knocked down the faces of Che and Fidel from the public square would be a step backwards, because there might be a Gap store.

Homeopathy is the belief that "a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people." By this logic, you'd think fans of modern Cuba would be delighted to see capitalism infect the island.





I don't know how I stumbled on this one.

It may have been this building that caught my eye. It makes me wonder if the mirror image of the building was renovated, and no one thought it would look a bit uncomfortable.

Looks like it's shrugging one shoulder: eh.


Sometimes a city looks like it got stretched on a rack. Note those stars - it's a way of capping the rods that held buildings together.

If you have OCD that trashcan placement will bother you. It's not completely wrong. It's not completely right.

Ah, the 30s! You can spot them a mile away. Unless it's the 40s. Could be the 40s.


Now that I think of it, the angled windows suggest the 40s. Or the early 30s. The middle-late 30s would be curved. But the angles also suggest the 20s

Something tells me Suzie didn't put up that big metal wall.

All these great canvases, now just empty or filled with doodles.

And something tells me this cornice was shaved. Why would I suspect such a thing? ?

Because of this.

Mr. G. Y Byrd. Geneological records show there was a Guy Byrd, but he died the day he was born, so I'm thinking it wasn't him. There was a Gussie Byrd, who also didn't make it to day two. Maybe it's C. Y Bird? Because there was a Calhoun Yancy Byrd who fits the timeframe. This page says he was a lawyer, city councilman, city attorney, and county commissioner. Unless it's talking about his son, who had the same first and middle name.

You'd think there would be an easier way to know these things. But no one cares. No, that's not right. Some people care, but it's hard to make others interested. It's just letters on stone.


Some old duffer drives by this and remembers what used to be there. Or do they? There are blank spots in Minneapolis I can't remember.

The sidewalk ignores the old evidence of doorways, but you can't pretend there wasn't anything here. The floor is pretty stubborn about insisting there was.

A classic old gas station; I'm guessing it's the Twenties. Wonder if the tanks are still down there.


I wonder if people still read that as a "gas station."

I probably wouldn't have done Live Oak except . . . for this.

Question: was the sign revealed when a buiding was demolished, or was the sign put up after the building was gone? I go back and forth, and can't decide. Wrigley's Spearmint hit the market in 1893. Live Oak was founded in 1858. If the sign came after the building was demolished, then the taller building would reflect the town's improving fortunes . . . but it's just as likely someone built a smaller one next to the larger one, and it was lost for fire or some other reason.

But: who builds a smaller building next to a taller one? Perhaps the lot had an old wooden building or something old and decripit. It fell in the teens or twenties, and the sign was up for a few years - and then something else was built, and it went down decades later.

I go back and forth and my brain hurts.


I'd say "that's all!" but that's never the case. Five motels await. Due to an excess of motel postcards, this site will continue beyond summer, and yes, I know that violates the long-established rules of lileks.com. You know where to send your complaints.


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