The last weekend in July, and all is well. At the moment we are enjoying full gazebo delights, no bugs, a Parrish sunset, the occasional owl. The accustomed growl of the planes, which is actually something of a memory trigger lately. I don’t know why. What was once either an irritant, or something you learn to ignore, now seems to be a source of bittersweet nostalgia.
Then again, what isn’t. I got a bit verklempt today as I was walking down the stairs from the office kitchen, thinking about the days when the office was much more populated, and how that’s all gone. I mean, I lived through a lot of changes in the industry. When I first came to work the StarTribune building was action-packed, Pee Wee, every floor occupied with some division, nearly every desk in the newsroom filled. There were librarians. There was a guard in the lobby, a cafeteria with workers in the old yellow-tiled humid kitchen. There was probably a company nurse.
On the way up the stairs I saw the Rare Co-Worker carrying a cup of coffee, and I said I was glad someone was taking advantage. I’d made the pot a few minutes ago and was coming back after the 4:55 brew cycle to get some. He said he’s gone up expecting it would be cold comfort as usual, and was surprised to find there was real, fresh, hot coffee.
“I make it at noon,” I said. “Sometimes I use the Northwest Blend beans, sometimes the Cafe Java, just to switch it up. And then the next day I empty out most of it.”
He was grateful and I was grateful to know someone else had enjoyed proper coffee.
In the old building it came out of a spout on the wall. The urns were constantly replenished. When the cafeteria changed hands and a new team was brought in to Improve The Experience, the spouts of industrial coffee were replaced with urns of Starbucks. The sign said, of course, that they were proud to serve Starbucks. And you think, well, no you aren’t. You’re not ashamed, but this isn’t a matter of pride. The buttons on your shirt do not pop out as you stick your thumbs in your suspenders in your and beam with pride.
That was coincident with the decline in our fortunes, as if Wall Coffee had been a link to our stable past, and once it was cut off some ancient curse descended. At some point the cafeteria stopped serving, I think. I really don’t remember. The entire place just faded and diminished, divisions closing, floors emptying out. And then, of course, we were bought, and saved.
But our beautiful new modern office feels like the old one in its latter days. I'm used to it. I'll never get used to it. Everything that was changed by COVID is like a fishbone in the throat.
Outside of downtown, though, it's all normal. The suburbs are bustling, inasmuch as they can bustle, I suppose. Lots of cars at Target isn't the same as throngs in the skyway at lunch hour.
I was talking to the proprietor of Walkin' Dog today, because it was the day for my weekly hot dog. His old store in the corner has been covered with boards, as the building is being restored. He told a tale about the sign that was painted on the pillar, the logo of the Walking Hot Dog: he'd paid a bellboy at the hotel to do it. The guy wasn't a professional, but he could draw a walking, happy hot dog. Turned out it would be the logo for decades, a little visual element of the neighborhood. It's been saved, pried off by the renovators.
It belongs in the Downtown Museum. Alas, there is no Downtown Museum.
Lighten up, Frances. Okay! Here's some new stuff en route.
Aview we rarely see here, since we mostly approach downtown from the south. This location is right by Target Field.
There's a new apartment / office block going up. I've been remiss in capturing its progress.
That's okay, though. We missed all the dull stuff. As for its eventual shape . . .
I think the phease "Missed Opportunity" comes to mind with remarkable velocity.
On the other end of town, the Stadium Apartments.
The steel frame should follow in two weeks.
Here we learn about Blinky.
Blinky and his gang.
Solution is here.
I was driving around, listening to one of the Edmund O'Brien Johnny Dollars, and this caught my ear. You might recognize him right away.
If you're schooled in the genre, and the six actors who did most of the work, it seems, you'll recognize him. He's doing a very serious character here, and dropping all the start-stop ooooh / chuckle mannerisms. If you don't recognize the voice right away, you soon recognize the style, the way he leans into certain words, trails off on others. Makes me realize how much of his work I've heard.
It's the way he says loan and robbed.
This year we're counting down the top hits . . . of 1922. Why not?
I love this one. Madcap!
This would make everyone get up and want to move their ankles.
Summertime: wouldn't you like to be beneath a tree? It's the hot-weather advice from Alka-Seltzer in 1946.
G'wan, name another one-man operation that gives so much! Just try! Okay besides that one.
There: that should do. See you on Monday when we start it up again. The update link below will take you to lots of color Frank Reade, the return of which fills me with bittersweet nostal-
Oh, right, I said that.