So how’s about you?

It’s been two weeks since we’ve had a current Bleat, and I hope you’ve enjoyed all the hiatal / vacation material. It was a galvanizing, revelatory, reinvigorating time and I’m a new man. A new man, I tell you! Why, I have new glasses.

You may wonder: didn’t you . . . have a daughter? I did. It’s going well, the whole her-not-here thing, helped along by texts. I don’t text her, but I respond to all texts with conversation: dad’s here, always. Don’t want to hover and insert myself into Brazilian life, make sure she’s okay - I am out of the loop on a daily basis unless solicited. When my phone makes the tell-tale ding and it’s her, it’s a delight, and it’s often at the perfect time. In London we had a few chats that just made me marvel at the way life had turned out - sitting in a bar, getting texts from Daughter, chatting back and forth about, well, this.


There was a time when I bought this bread, because she liked it, and then I liked it more, and she didn’t like it at all, but I still bought it because I liked it. Something of a surprise to see it in Brazil - all the world's bread is by Bimbo, it seems - but it was one of those things that warms your heart: she saw the bag of bread and thought of her dad.

It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.

It’s just different. As I said before, the dreading was the worst; realizing it was all coming to an end made everything so heavy and sad.

I mean, it’s still all coming to an end, in the sense that we are mortal and I am not young, but that’s easier to bear than most everything I loved and was used to evaporating in my hands. But. I find myself

And here the entry ended. Perhaps that’s a good enough hook on which to hang the rest of all of this.


I am at the State Fair every day this year, doing a show at the Strib stage. Usually I shoot videos, but this year for fun I pitched a little thing to precede the afternoon distribution of lip balm. People love that stuff, and they’ll wait for it, so I’ll have an audience. So I thought six weeks ago when we started talking about it; that was back when I thought the earth would open and swallow me whole when Daughter left, and the idea of the Fair seemed impossibly remote, but gah there were were last Thursday, looking with horror at the stage.



It’s an actual stage with a speaker system. I was under the impression I would be talking mostly to a Facebook Live audience, not real people. When I showed up no one was paying any attention to the person who was talking, just staring at their phones. Oh great, I’m going to sit here for half an hour and TALK LOUD to people who are just taking the load off for a few minutes. I had a guest, though; that was good. But man, a half an hour?

Every day?

I haven’t been to the Fair like a normal person for a decade. The Fair is work. But I love it. It’s the most Minnesota thing possible and I love this place, and I always wonder where the hell have you people been? Where did you come from? The perfect hot summer days, the cool cloudy afternoons with a strong suggestion of fall, the Midway nights with the slight tang of mischief, the quiet North part of the Fair that has a culture all its own.

None of which I’ll get to see, because I will be showing up and then leaving because damn I am there every day

Well, no, I will wander around - but without the imperative of “finding video fodder” it’s odd to do it by yourself. When I had the camera and was looking for things to put on the video, I wasn’t alone - something I just realized now.

As it turned out it went smashingly well, and I met fans and old friends after the show. I mean, people who used to listen to the Diner on the air. The moment I cracked the mike and started to talk it felt like something new.

Because it was. A new thing in an old place: Act Three.



A somewhat under-noticed Eddie G movie, and I can tell you why.

Since it’s Manhattan, we need some stereotypical BIG CITY music to tell us it’s a bustling place where people walk around with purpose.

Here’s the problem. Check out this nice picture of good ol’ Gotham:




Now this.


Think about it. What’s wrong about the skyline image?

Right! That’s Rockefeller Center, as well as some other Jazz Age skyscrapers. They wouldn’t have been there when the AEF came to town.

If you know what the AEF is, you have a good grasp on 20th century American history. But the movie doesn’t. It doesn’t play like it’s 1918 at all, but late 30s, early 40s - right down to a bizarre nightclub song that’s practically swing.

On the other hand, there’s Eddie G, back from the war, and quite nonchalant about the guys who stayed behind on false pretenses while the guys who couldn’t fib their way out of the service were gassed to death:

Now that he’s back, he wants to start a newspaper like the one he ran for the boys overseas. A smaller one! So you can read it on the subway. But also one full of peppy hot stories that really great people. Murder! Sex! Murder-sex! Sex-murder! Since he can’t convince his bosses to change, he decides to start his own, and since he doesn’t have the money, he takes on an UNHOLY PARTNER, the great Eddie Arnold who’s more or less Benjamin Rothstein.


Complications ensue. It’s okay, but as I said, anachronistic. The newspaper office in 1919:

No no no. You wonder if people knew it at the time; by 1941, had they forgotten what 1919 looked like? I doubt it. Anyway, it’s worth it to see Robinson and Arnold work together, and it’s worth it to see the level of quality that attended a basic A-league studio release - one of dozens. Robinson has his usual snap, even if the script doesn’t.

You know how it ends. I mention it mostly for the anachronisms, and for this:

This is routine for the late teens and early 20s. We remember Lindy, and that's about it. But the newspapers were full of daredevils, record-breakers, pioneers, amateurs, and pros.

Planes went down all the time. The papers were always reporting a flier's death. Things had gotten safer by the time this movie came out - but people remembered the days when every other front page brought the news of a flier who'd died.

It didn't stop them.

That'll do. Odd week ahead, what with the Fair. True Normal still awaits on the other side of Labor Day. See you tomorrow!



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