Last week when I was walking through 333, the rival building, I did the usual hail-fellow-well-met with the security chief. We inhabit the same corner of downtown, and have chatted over the years. "Last good day of the year," I said, refering to the marvelous weather."

"There'll be one more," he said. "Wednesday, I think." I scoffed and told him he was lucky I was going down the elevator or I'd come up and bet him on it.

Today it was almost 70. So. I have to bring crow tomorrow for lunch. Too bad, because I was planning to have that fine delicacy known as Excess Taco Meat. One of the great things about doing the Atkins / Keto business is the abundance of meat. I mean, I've had a lunch that consisted of meatballs. That's it. Well, pepper. Savory and filling, and who needs bread?


NO, no, that's weak. One must focus and think of bread to come, bread as a reward. Allowed bread. Hence it must be spectacular bread in the best context possible. Enveloping a hamburger. Bracketing a Reuben.

By the way, I was giving the proprietor of Lobby Pizza today for one of his creations, asking if that was a ribbon of concentrically-arranged Cheez Whiz on one of the pies; he grinned and said no, that's 1000 island on the Reuben pizza. I told him that surely his Sicilian ancestors would soon come to him in the night making exaggerated gestures of ethnic distress, and he agreed that he made made pizza combinations that would horrify them. And he had an enormous smile as he said it.

The classics he makes are, of course, the best downtown.

I had the pizza on a table in the atrium, reading the news. Back up to the office, finish the column, then hit the gym. That's what you do: you hit the gym, and you hop in the shower. Some people hit the showers as well. I've been trying some new machines and consequently have doubled the quantity of muscles that are sore. I'm so damned fit I can hardly walk.

As I was saying, Excess Taco Meat. Don't even need a burrito. Empty carbs!


Okay. Are you ready for some Above-the-Fold filler material repurposed as our new Thursday idea, the This-to-That Rabbithole? Hope so.

I've been having fun tracking where I go on research missions, and why, and where end up. So: how do we get from here . . .

. . . to here?

First: take a look at the picture.

What is going on here.

You know that everyone important in town dropped by the studio to sit for his portrait. Everyone here was someone, and one of the ever-so-miniscule percentage of people whose faces survived their time on earth.

Beardy lot, aren't they.

Says the museum:

In 1614 politics and religion are inextricably bound up with one another, as is very clear to see in this painting. At the left are Protestant ministers and leaders of the Republic , and at the right the archdukes who govern the South, with countless Catholic clergymen. The North, according to the painter, has a promising future: the sun shines there, the trees are full of leaves. Whosoever wants to be saved is better off swimming to a Protestant boat.


Fishing for Souls shows an allegory of the jealousy between the various religious denominations during the Twelve Years' Truce between the Dutch Republic and Spain. The river signifies the split between the Northern and the Southern Netherlands that occurred with the Beeldenstorm. In the original painting the Protestant fishermen had successfully fished up some believers while the Catholic nets were empty. The "souls" near the Catholic boats were added later.

This kid doesn’t seem particularly bothered by the plight of the drowning.

Don’t go to that church! They have misinformed arrogant persons.

Wikipedia again: "A large fly is painted on as a trompe-l'œil wink to Jan Brueghel the Elder, who created many similar amusing allegories with visual jokes in them."


We do know who a few are.

Wikipedia: "On the right bank of the river are the Catholic cardinals carrying their pope accompanied by Albert and Isabella."

Anyway, what was the Twelve Years' Truce? Why, a ceasefire in the Eighty Years War. Netherlands vs. Spain, a combination you don't hear about much, but it was no small affair. There was also a Thirty Years War. The Eighty Years War was part of the Thirty Years War. These guys never stopped:

The Thirty Years' War was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European history, lasting from 1618 to 1648.

Fought primarily in Central Europe, an estimated 4.5 to 8 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of battle, famine, and disease, while some areas of modern Germany experienced population declines of over 50%. Related conflicts include the Eighty Years' War, the War of the Mantuan Succession, the Franco-Spanish War, and the Portuguese Restoration War.

My GOD you say. The War of Mantuan Succession? Pity the poor bastards who died in that one, because that’s not exactly in the top ten memorable wars.

Except that it might be, for people of a certain generation. As this nostalgia site says:

Remember in the early 70s coming downstairs on a Saturday morning and switching on the television set (then waiting an age for it to come on). Tuning in (with those huge chunky buttons) to the BBC's morning children's selection would often result in this classic program being in front of you. The music and lyrics will start to drive you mad though as it is one of those pieces that you cannot get out of your head.

That's right: they made an adventure show about the events of the War of Mantuan Succession. The theme seen in the single above can be heard here, in the opening credits.

He's right: it's damned catchy and exciting, at least if you're 12. Ready? En garde!

Lesson: always follow the links that look obscure.








Part Two.

We see this over and over and again and again. Once a department or furniture store. An old building sleeps behind the metal panels. Inevitable Antique Store finale.

Central Wisconsin coin. Don't think you're dealing with those stupid downstaters.

That’s . . . new?

Or not? I’ve never seen that caliper-style decoration. The entrance is wrong. The bricks are too new. But the HOWARD is old.

It hasn’t been a bank for a long time, and you can tell by . . . ?

By the windows on the ground floor. The awful windows.

If your feet are below ground and you’re on the first floor, something’s wrong.

If you’re in the basement and there’s a full-height window in the room, something’s wrong.

There is such a thing as Mansard Brutalism, I just decided.

Yes, I know, “Brutalism” doesn’t mean “brutal.” But it’s come to mean that now, partly because the word fits exactly.

This is a nice rehab. Awning is superfluous, but that's a small complaint.

The windows look like they're dealing with allergies.


Didn’t Hemingway’s mother dress him up as a girl?

One of those signs that nothing’s going on upstairs anymore.

New sign in front of an old remnant, a reminder of a name Mom and Dad knew from their times, but now is mostly forgotten. Twenty years, no one will know.

Perhaps it’s cursed

Fantastic original pre-war modern commercial design and materials.

The beige color had a long run, popping in and out from the 30s to the 60s.

Sounds like an exhortation from a children’s game.

You have to wonder if the guy who paid for this rehabbing stood back when it was done, gave it a good thoughtful look, and thought “well that was a bad idea.”

I’ve never seen this before. FOIL! YES, THE EXCITEMENT OF FOIL!

It’s not original, obviously; that’s a standard Midwest Kasota-stone small-town theater, possibly a Leibenberg & Kaplan? Googling. . . well, built in 1937, remodeled in 1996.

Something of a mess, but who cares.

OUMB, transitional style between 70s and 80s.

“Is there any way we can double our utilities bill? I’m tired of not paying more for air conditioning."

I suppose I would’ve thought this was cool if I was a kid. Now it looks like a gross injustice on the building.

Ho ho.

With no snow around, and the location being Wisconsin, it has that “Walking Dead” feel.




That'll do! Motels await.




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