Three consecutive retail experiences over the course of an hour.

Traders Joe: switchover at the register, drawers swapped out. The incoming clerk is some sort of low-grade cinema student, because he is telling the outgoing clerk the cast lists of the movies “Clue” and “Con Air.”

He takes my basket, and asks how I’m doing, and I say I was murdered by Colonel Mustard in the Library with the lead pipe.

It takes him a second, because most people in retail have two non-continuous streams going, but then he lights up and says “Yes! Colonel Mustard. In the study! With the candlestick!?”

“I don’t know why Colonel Mustard was never a KFC tie-in for the movie.”

“It’s a minor classic.”

Yeeeah, well, when it came out we were all amused - a movie based on a board game? What’s next, a movie based on GI Joe and the Hasbro Cinematic Universe? Actually we didn’t say that, because we didn’t know about Cinematic Universes. Except for Star Wars but that was literally a cinematic Universe.”

“Receipt in the bag?” I said yes. “Travel well,” he said, that being his signature sign-off.

Next door to Infinite Intoxicants; a clerk greets me as soon as I enter.

“Can I help you find anything?”

“No! I know where everything I want is.”

“But what if there’s something you don’t know you want?”

Whoa: unknown unknowns.

“I’d still find it. I know this store like the back of my hand,” I said, hoping that she didn’t say “describe the back of your hand in close detail,” but I’d probably miss a spot or a scar. “In fact, ask me where anything is.”

“Really? We just moved some things around,” she says.

“What. NO.”

“Moved the Sauv Blanc”

“You moved the suavignon blanc? Where?”

“All the way over to five.”

“I am updating my files . . . complete. Okay thank you.”

Fun! Then Target. In the electronics section there were lots of TVs and a small shelf of disk players for the Grandpa Demo. Really: what was once the most exciting, modern, amazing technology was now relegated to a few boxes that might as well have been next to Depends and Ensure. I did away with DVDs a long time ago, and while I don’t mind streaming there are some things I want to own, and some things I want in the absolute best quality possible, which right now is 4K Ultra SuperDeepBlack with Underpoint OLEDeeHue ™ etc.

Problem is, my only 4K disk player is my Xbox, and controlling the disk player with either controller or phone app is like trying to circumcise a fly while wearing oven mitts. So yes. Yes I need a 4K player. They were expensive last year. They are less so now. But they still seem to be a niche product.

The clerk wanders over and asks if I have any questions, and I point to the unit that’s discounted $50, and has a discolored box.

“Is the price discounted because the box got wet?”

He said probably not. Oh. Well, the original price six $50 below the only other one you have, the Sony. Is that because the Sony has High-Res audio? He said it was. I could take it home and try it and if it didn’t work I could bring it back within 30 days.

He had that bored disengagement you often find in people who probably know a great deal about something and are tired of boiling it down for idiots who buy Monster Cables.

I put it in my cart and moved along to meat and produce. Couldn’t take my eyes off the stained box corner, though. They had one of these things and the box was stained. If you’re sad enough to buy a disk player you deserve stained merchandise.

Stopped, called up Amazon on the phone, saw the same unit for $50 less. Okay then. Bought it then and there, then proceeded to the self-checkout. I used to enjoy checking out at Target - most of the time - but eventually the quality of the clerks declined to sullen teens who couldn’t bag. Now, moral dilemma: do I just leave the player on the floor by the check-out, or do I tell someone about it?

If it’s the former, there’s the chance the guy who monitors the area will see it and say “excuse me, sir, did you intend to buy that,” and I have to either confess to forgetfulness, feign ignorance, or say “oh yeah, I decided against that, could you have that restocked” - which makes me that guy the one who just walks off and leaves stuff for others to deal with.

I imagine that happens so often the staff is inured to it, but I don’t want to be that guy who just leaves it because someone else is paid to put it back. It seems ill befitting a citizen of a republic.

I'm serious.


You don't think last month's entries would be it for the year, do you? Oh no. There are dozens more contrived scenarios with diminishing comic effect.

This was a lot of money in 1916:

Sympathize with the man who had a bad fishing day, for his continued overfishing has left the lake underpopulated, and now he will be fined a great sum he cannot afford. Between the fine and the poor fishing, the children will go hungry this month.

Is that . . . a wife-type creature?

I'm guessing the sock is meant to be a woman's slipper, and she will now strike him with a rolling pin. Because the worst is yet to come.

This seems to be a bit too commonplace to be The Worst, but perhaps her inability to finish the stocking will somehow remind her that she is alone and barren, and weeping will result.

Wellington didn't exactly spend the whole afternoon doing the pictures on the wall.

Dad didn't have to dress up to do this:

The "Worst" part here is either Dad bursting into flames and gets horribly burned, or the kid runs to hug Santa, which puts Dad off balance, and he tips over the tree, and the house burns.




Another entry in our long stroll down the humble ruins of Dexter Avenue.

And another one of those strange, hard-to-reconstruct ruins. There was a building on the side of the three-story block? No, doesn’t seem likely. The string course along the first floor indicates otherwise. There was probably a facade that wrapped around the building, and of course was ripped off or fell off.

From the looks of the roofline, it simply caved in.

Anyway, that was then. Now:

Another view of the surviing building in the corner of the picture, with its nice trim 30s facade all blasted to hell:

Somewhere there has to be shots of this block when it was prosperous. Or will it leave no record except for Google Street View's autopsy report?

Well, I’ll be switched: someone tried to match the brick when they closed up the storefronts.

Concrete in the door, wood on the second floor: that’ll keep out the squatters.

Two views. Find the difference.


It’s always a subtraction, not an addition. Unless you count the trees.

Another modern, or moderne facade. Prosperous enough, once; now gutted and groped by dying trees.

Again: you can shoot “Walking Dead” on this street without paying a dime to a set director.


Are any of the trees doing okay?

This is the fourth installment of the Dexter Detroit stroll. Surely I saved the saddest for last:


But there’s one more week to go.


That will do; enjoy your Thursday. I will, because it's Thursday.



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