Look at this miserable block. I'm actually ashamed.

Gosh, you think - the Nicollet Mall could stand a redesign!


There's only so much you can do with this bunker, this monster, this inert civic-black-hole called "City Center," of course, but at this point I think it's absolutely necessary to demolish the entire thing. This was once the home of the Donaldson's department store, before it was absorbed by another chain that slapped their name over the venerable hometown brand. Less of what you know, more of what you don't care about. It was Carson Pirie Scott, by the way. A great Chicago name. We're not Chicago. As for them:

Sold to the holding company of Bon-Ton in 2006, but still operated under the Carson name, the entire Bon-Ton collection of stores, including Carson's, went into bankruptcy and closed in 2018. Bon-Ton's intellectual property was quickly sold while in bankruptcy, and the new owners reopened shortly afterwards as a BrandX virtual retailer.

Which means nothing to anyone. The website for Carson's is under construction, and promises "The store you know and love is coming back - bigger and better than ever!" What nonsense. The famous Carson Pirie Scott in Chicago is a masterpiece of Louis Sullivan architecture, a city and culture unto itself, and some website selling Chinese merch is going to be BIGGER and BETTER.

City Center is a shell of its old self, with most of the stores gone, the food court shuttered. When it first opened it had a videogame arcade, an Aladdin's Castle. A big bookstore. It wasn't the most interesting structure, but it had its day, its vogue - and like every other attempt at a downtown shopping mall, it faded and failed. But it always looked like it does in the picture above.

As for the mall redesign, let's check in on the footings for the meaningless, non-functional mirrored pole-things:


Quality work there, lads

At least we have embedded LEDs

For vibrancy


Well, as long as I'm complaining, let's just call this whole thing an example of . . .

This is my lobby.

It's a big spare space that gets more incoherent every year. The rug is supposed to tie the room together, I guess. It covers up the tile, and makes everything a bit warmer and inviting, but to be honest it doesn't all work. On the other hand: there's something to be said for having a big space to visit every day, right? It beats never leaving the house.

Let's compare this public space with one a block away.

Let us zoom.


What a gift.


It's a bit kitschy-coo for modern eyes. I wish there was more of it around.

The exit to the street is like stepping back centuries.


But of course, there's art in my building, too.





And now, the weekly dream-journal entry, illustrated by AI, because that's what this week is all about.

Suddenly, I was in China. It was a part that looked as if it had been colonized by the British, thanks to the architectural details. It was a run-down industrial area in a city that didn’t seem to have much more. I found myself in a dead-end area, empty rubble surrounded by tall old brick buildings with faded painted signs.


A street urchin was wheeling me for money, and I tried to ignore her. She was well-dressed in a white pinafore. I turned away to leave her presence, to let her know she was not going to get anything, and out of the corner of my eyes I saw her pedaling fast towards me on a bike as if to hit me. I pretended to stop out of confusion, when I had ever intention of checking her ability to hit me - the bike went down and she went with it, glaring.

I walked away. I noticed that a doughy western-featured and attired fellow had stopped to help her up and perhaps assist. Then he followed me and called after me. He wanted to commend my savvy, for he knew all about these wheedling scam artists. For some reason I thought I should buy him a beer, so we went through a new-construction lot, although nothing was being done at the time, and went to a tiny place with a horseshoe bar and perhaps six seats, all taken. It was loud. Everyone was English or American.

He had a portfolio, with papers spilling out; one of them referred to a famous child criminal named Bruised Peach, and indeed that was the one who had tried to work on me. (Now I recognize my new friend as the fellow who does travel videos on reddit, but I gave no indication. He recognized me, though, and wondered what I was doing in China.

At this point the bar lurched and moved, and it turned out we were in a train bar car. This was disconcerting, as I did not want to go anywhere; I wanted to go to my hotel. He said he understood but that’s just the way it was in China, sometimes the bar was a train. It wasn’t a long run, and when we stopped he said he would show me the other part of the station on the other side of the block, where I could find the entrance to the line going the other way.

But I lost him in a crowd. He didn’t really seem to be too keen on making sure I was behind him. So I lost him, and had to return to the block to find the train station. I couldn’t. I went into a nice hotel, and they shrugged their shoulders as if to say many have asked, but the answer remains unknown. I went to a drug store, and they only laughed

. . . , and they asked what sort of fool brings him family along when he doesn’t even know about the train?

Family? I turned around, and was startled to see Natalie standing there, waiting for the answer about where the train station might be. Then I woke.


Nice to see Lori around again!

Lance is shaded a bit ominously here. Solution is here.


This year's old newspaper feature: a social no-no single-panel illustration. Can you figure out what's wrong?

The answer will be provided on Monday.


Now two ways to chip in!

That will do! Thank you for your visits, and I'll see you on Monday.




blog comments powered by Disqus