I have some news, except I don’t, and anyway, I can’t say it, which is okay, because if nothing happens, I won’t look too bad.

Other than that, let’s see. The Christmas tree is still up. That’s a record. Usually I take it down promptly, a bittersweet chore undertaken after the new year begins. Kid goes to school, wife’s at work, I get out the boxes and call up the Midwinter playlist on the speakers. It’s so named because it has a nice version of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and yes it’s a very Minnesota thing to say “a nice version of a song about winter that has bleak in the title.” But there is no off-to-school anymore, wife works at home, and the quiet little ritual is no longer observed. No more putting back the ornaments and remembering the little tales that attend them. At least it’ll give me something to do tonight while I’m putting off column writing. Always nice to find a new excuse.

Bright day, with enough sun to warm the world. Walked around downtown, avoiding the slush, nearly slipping twice on newly-formed sheets of ice caused by yesterday’s melt. You do that strange spasmodic dance, flinging up your limbs like a 20s jazz enthusiast, then of course you have to look back to see what that was. Hmm. I dare say that was ice. Yes, my years of experience and observation permit me to say, I think, without fear of contradiction, that was ice, and hence my abrupt, uncoordinated attempt to remain upright.

I usually have one good hard fall each year. I’d like to make it through this one without having one of those bare-hand-scrapes-raw-sidewalk interludes. It hurts, and you feel rueful shame. It’s not as if you’re to blame; it’s not as if it doesn’t happen to everyone. The observer, however always concludes that this might have been avoided. Last year after the Fair I was walking back to my car, and a woman was running across the street in flip-flops, heading for the bus. She tripped and fell with such velocity there was no time to get her hands into a mitigating position, and her melon thonked on the street with such force it knocked her cold. One moment you’re off to the great Fair, and the next you’re dog paddling in Lethe. I wonder if she was okay. Hope someone called 911.

Kidding. We all called 911. Everyone got out their phone on the spot and dialed while the husband tried to bring her around. The opposite of the Kitty Genovese effect.

(Pause while someone heads directly to the comments to contest the idea of the Kitty Genovese effect. I know, I know.)

By the way, Genovese’s killer was a real piece of work. Wikipedia:

He became eligible for parole in 1984. During his first parole hearing, he told the parole board that the notoriety he faced due to his crimes made him a victim, stating, "For a victim outside, it's a one-time or one-hour or one-minute affair, but for the person who's caught, it's forever.”

He was not granted parole. Died in prison at the age of 81, one of the longest-serving inmates in the NY system. Good.

Anyway, it’ll be more slippery tomorrow. It’s the time of the year when people are reminded of the word “Coccyx,” and the difficulty of remembering its spelling. Did I get it right?

I did. By the way:


Wonder why. Perhaps you can trace this to the increasing popularity of bananas, and the lax standards of sanitation that led people to discard the peels in the street.



And now, this year's Above-the Fold Kul-chah Feature, or ATFKF.

Yes, it's 1:1 scale. The painter was very small.

Says the museum:

Banquet at the Crossbowmen’s Guild in Celebration of the Treaty of Münster, Bartholomeus van der Helst, 1648

A banquet is taking place at the Amsterdam crossbowmen’s guild. The occasion was the signing of the Treaty of Münster, which marked an end to the war with Spain. The captains of the civic guard company shake hands as a sign of peace, and the drinking horn is passed around. The poem on the drum proclaims the joy of Amsterdam’s armed militia that their weapons can henceforth be laid to rest.

I wonder how long the truce lasted. At least as long as it took to paint the tribute, I hope.

Let's examine some of the faces. An important man, being watched with weary, slightly contemptuous amusement by an allegorical pinup gal:

I love the details on the goblet. And the reflection on the glass!

Brothers? Twins?  We have the names, but I can't line them up correctly.

I wonder if those glasses were popular because they enhanced the drinking experience, or because they were unique to the time and place and everyone else in Europe thought it was just the thing to consume your wine in the Dutch mode.

Okay, you two, get a room

Cornelis Witsen on the right, shakikng hands with Johan van Wavere.

I wonder how long everyone had to sit for this. Individual sittings, of course, but how did the artist do it? Morning sittings for sketches, afternoon work on the main canvas?









Almost three thousand souls. Original name: Dallas. The residents didn't like it. Bethany was proposed, along with Carthage. Bethany sounded nicer.

“I don’t care what folks say. I’m going to live there, and I’m going to make it look as much like a house as I can.”

I feel bad for the building, for so many reasons.

It’s wearing a mask.

Did it lose some cornice? Don’t think so; the corner portion terminates most definitively.

Borderline OUMB. You know I am partial to small-town mid-century modern, and . . .

This cinches the deal.


I don’t know if one building is digesting the other, or one is slowly taking over the larger one.

Most unobtrusive theater ever.

Opened in 1935.

I don’t know why, but this shot makes me feel wistful, and a bit sad.

The sign was so confusing the building next to it self-detonated:


Almost a full Buckaroo.

Obligatory yearly note: that is not my term. I came across “Buckaroo Revival” used for the wood-and-shingles look, can’t find it, and now I fear that if I google it only my usage will come up. APOLOGIES TO ORIGINAL COINER.

Playful rehab, which brings out the spirit. Of the top part, anyway.

The bottom is a post-war rehab.

Something else was up there . . .

. . . but fewer and fewer recall what it was.

“So, Mr. developer, how exactly do you wish the space to depict your name? Just so we know what letters to order.”



1884. I’ve never seen something like this before.

This site says it’s not original, but was added in the 70s. Okay. Now it makes sense.

You may have noticed lots of these prints.

Must be booster week for the Bulldogs.


Originally a drug store, according to an old history page that turns up in Google but doesn’t seem accessible. . . . Ah.

Still not much.

Good thing they blurred him out.

Looks like a nice little shrine, or just basic small-town civic improvement. Makes it look as if people around these parts care.

They usually do.

You know that was a bank.

Even if you didn’t see the hint of the drive-through.

Sometimes this gives you a feel for the age of a place . .

And sometimes the old, ordinary sense of slow decay.

But the streetlights are nice, and the building looks rented.

They pay a lot of money in big cities to get that distressed look.

I’m sure the lads at the Eagle’s Nest thought it was an improvement; everyone did, back then.

Oh look, it’s a little diorama of Baltimore:


. . . and then this, a nicely maintained old bank with a Frank-Lloyd-Wright-style window.


I can make out Shop, and no more.

When they remade the small-town Main Street, they usually had no care for anything that wasn’t on the ground floor.


My God, what an Ogre


Oh no, no no


Ghastly from conception, I thnk. Nice 50s stone on the ground floor, though - you rarely see the vivid-hue variety these days.



Another utterly ill-advised knee-capping. Did the original offend sensibilities so much it had to be replaced with nothingness?



More off-centeredness.


Finally, an WPA-Moderne number, solid and grave . . .


And just a leeeeetle bit under-proportioned.




That'll do! More Main Streets, in postcard form, await.




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