I got an Apple Card because of course I would, wouldn’t I? It was easy. Right there on the phone, a few clicks, ding! Hello here is a lot of money. Of course you’ll have to give it back to us, but here is a lot of money.

Okay thanks, but just so we’re clear, I’m not paying any interest; don’t do interest. I will pay it all at once every month.

Fine! Would you like us to give you money for using the card?

Excuse me?

We give you cash back when you charge things.

Great, but why?

Why? Uh - that’s how it’s done these days. You get cash back!

Great, right, forgot about that. My current cards give me points, which I can use for things. Amex used to send catalogs, I think, and that ended up feeling like a Gold Bond Trading Stamps arrangement. I can get a Sharper Image espresso machine with 147,000 points!

Wouldn’t it be more exciting to get 42 cents back? And get a text alert saying you got 42 cents?

I suppose. So let me get this straight: you’ve given me a line of credit I can run up to the max, I won’t pay you interest, and you give me money back. I see what people say when they talk about being held hostage in a capitalist hellscape.

Yes! We make our money elsewhere. All sorts of places. For example, we charge the merchant, which of course gets factored into the price of goods you pay. It all sloshes around, and we manage to make a profit. Once the technological infrastructure is in place, it throws off a lot of money. Do you have a problem with that?

No, not at all. I find it all impressive. The fact that I can push a button on my phone and it displays three cards, and I can flick to choose, then hold up my watch to the payment device, and everything passes back and forth without friction and generates profit from the ether, is commendable. I mean, getting out my phone to pay is practically the equivalent of a lady of a certain age digging in her purse for a checkbook.

That’s rather sexist.

Oh? You regularly find yourself behind an AARP-qualified man digging around in a capacious backpack to find his checkbook?

Still, it’s a stereotype.

Backed up by decades of experience. Anyway, why do you care if I have an opinion on the matter?

Offensive stereotypes are not in compliance with our company’s values.

Oh please. Your tantamount value is making money, and after that metric has been met you indulge yourself with various public postures. I’m sure you have well-intentioned and sincerely believed policies about working with any organization that advocates for destructive, hateful, illegal behavior, but what mild offense I may give to an easily aggravated person who collects grievances like a space between molars collects jerky residue - that's surely irrelevant to our relationship.

Would you like to continue this fictional dialogue and score points against a straw man of a PC dystopian future where your tweets are examined by your credit card company to determine your fitness as a financial citizen?

No, thanks; rather complain about people who say VR has lost its potential because it’s insufficiently narcissistic. But that’s for another day.

Thank you.

I will note that the card is pristine and white, and since Apple has cautioned that it will discolor after constant contact with two extremely rare substances - namely, DENIM AND LEATHER - there are now skins for your credit card to keep it from getting sullied.

Twenty dollars, I believe. A protective skin for your credit card.

You can charge it!








A city of nine thousand souls, and old by American midwest standards; founded in 1852, but occupied decades earlier. This might be what you want to know:

With the end of Prohibition in 1933, saloons no longer operated under the euphemism of "soft drink" vendors, and these and related gambling concerns flourished. Although illegal, gambling proliferated in LaSalle, supporting the abundant and related tobacco, liquor, food, and lodging businesses.

Travelers arrived by car or via the Rock Island Rocket from Chicago for a Saturday night's revelry in such numbers that the streets of LaSalle are said to have been standing-room only. There was wall to wall entertainment along First Street, at the heart of which was the Kelly and Cawley liquor and gambling house. LaSalle became known as "Little Reno" and boasted dozens of clubs. With between 60 and 80 saloons in LaSalle from 1940 to 1950 this continued to be the town's primary commercial enterprise. In 1953 a federal raid on Kelly and Cawley's ended the era.

And it’s been diminishingly quiet ever since, you suspect.

“The days when people liked natural light are over, and I can’t imagine when they’d come back. Brick it all up. We’re using it for storage.”

“How about just putting in blinds? You could raise or lower -


A handsome classical bank, but the additional floor above the cornice makes it look as if it’s compressing the two columns.



On the other end of the nicely-preserved bank building situation, you have these four hobos assembled for a police line-up:

Pizza Hut’s world HQ in the 70s!


No, not at all. But why would I say that?

Makes you wonder if there’s a giant thumb in the back of the building, pushing on the wall so it pops out an eye, like a novelty toy.


The bay window is the only original piece of the facade still showing.

I can’t even begin to decipher this, and it’s not worth trying. Sorry, old timer.


Note the little urban-renewal touches intended to make the downtown spring back to life.

Uh -


Your eyes are not wrong; the right side is scaled slightly smaller. What makes this even worse, if possible, is that I think those are terra-cotta fluted pilasters, which means it comes from the 20s or early 30s.


The amount of architectural vandalism here is quite remarkable.



If you think that’s a bit harsh . . .


. . . it’s not. Here they kept the 20s terra-cotta, and filled in the rest with something else, BUT kept one window on the left for no reason I can imagine, unless it’s light and ventilation over a staircase.


Ahhh. Much better. Is this a hopeful sign that the worst has passed?


Perhaps. A modern entrance, but not entirely out of keeping with the rest of the structure.

A harness maker, according to the local newspaper’s history page.

What went on with the twins, can’t say; looks like one had a post-war facade, but don’t know if it extended all the way across, or just on top FOR SOME REASON.



The same reason that drove them to Buckaroo-Mansard the one on the right.

The department store, perhaps. Or a furniture store. I guarantee it didn’t look like that when they built it.




So. The white building had windows that came RIGHT UP THE EDGE, or, the late 20s / early 30s building next to it stole some of its wall for itself AND the building on the left let the top of the window encroach on its facade . . . Something happened here.

It not only looks like an addition, it looks as if it has a different owner: someone said “screw it” when it came to historic window maintenance.



This type of post-war renovation just screams . . .


. . . BAR


Next door, the same type of stone - but the hue’s off, perhaps because one was cleaned and the other wasn’t.



It has no business being on that building.



That will have to do.





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