Went to Walgreen’s downtown to get a few things. The store is in the Gaviidae Center, once the most elegant shopping mall downtown, and occupies space once held by Neiman-Marcus. On this spot long ago was Donaldson’s. I remember, dimly, going through the skyway to the Donaldson’s store; I remember, a little better, going through the skyway to the tony women’s clothing department of Neiman-Marcus, people shopping, cutting through the store to head off to lunch. It was a beautiful place. Jewelry in the cases. Someone could snatch them and run away, but of course no one did.

The Walgreen’s has all the Tide soap locked up behind plastic, because of course, that is the way of today.

I was standing in line behind a couple trying to buy something. His card was declined. The small woman with him said she would pay in cash. While she tried to find the money, I saw a ridiculous thing: a big cardboard cutout of Shaquille O’Neil with a red nose, for Red Nose Day - something Walgreens keeps trying to make happen, and never does. It was imported from England. Never caught on. Shaq was wearing a sign, printed out, not part of the original display, that said PLEASE KEEP DISTANCE - as if it is 2020, and we’re keeping six feet apart.

It seemed unlikely that they put that up this year. They’d put it on the year before or the year before that, stored the cutout picture, and no one had thought to take it off when they put it back up. Thus these idiocies are ever with us.

I had my phone in my hand to swipe the Walgreens card at the POS terminal, so I zoomed in and took a picture of Shaq to show to you and discuss the various meanings of the image.

HE TOOK A PICTURE OF YOU! the woman behind me in line screamed. HE TOOK A PICTURE OF YOU!

The man in front of me turned around. He was, of course, fully masked. YOU TAKE A PICTURE OF ME?

I said, to her, that I did not. I said to him, I did not. I took a picture of Shaquille O’Neill


I opened my camera app and showed them that I had not, in fact, taken a picture of him. The top half of the back of his head, covered in the hood of a beige jacket, was visible, yes, but -


Of course by now there’s a crowd. Of course by now I want to tell her that she’s being an utter idiot, but she is, shall we say, het up, and the guy is now in my space, shall we say, and staring daggers and wanting to know why I took a picture of him.


I repeated tahtI was taking a picture of the Shaquille image, and he takes down his mask and sneers in a rather threatening fashion, saying WHY YOU GOT TO TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT, THAT’S WEIRD, YOU WEIRD, and to be honest I don’t think an explanation of how the Covid mentality has persisted long into the middle portion of the decade would have satisfied him. WHO ARE YOU? WHO YOU WORK FOR?

You can’t show you’re intimidated, because it will embolden him. You can’t push back, because it will enflame him. You don’t answer the welter of questions WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU DO?

The answers will be irrelevant and lead to more angry questions. You say the minimum necessary to close the issue of the photo of the top of the back of his head, and move along, because spreading your arms and saying “we are in the presence of thousands of items, each designed with intentionality, and the combination of them all is a record of society and how things come together in unexpected ways,” will not suffice.

There’s not a single concept in that sentence that will penetrate his adamantine carapace.

I inform the clerk that I would like some Ronsonol fluid, and we walk to the area of the shelves where it can be found. The aggrieved man is still shouting. YOU GO TO ANOTHER STORE. YOU DON’T GET ANYTHING HERE. YOU GO, he shouts, as if I’m supposed to leave. I do not.

Whereupon Security intervenes and says a few words and ushers them out.

After I’m done I thank him for his service, and he shrugs and says she was in here earlier trying to shoplift, and was doing it again and probably caused a scene so she could get out without anyone knowing that she was shoplifting.

I admit to a certain elevation of the circulatory system while this was going on, because I did not know if this large shouting man was going to take my phone or otherwise make, shall we say, an affront to my person.

So much fargin' vibrancy these days.

I suppose it is hard to explain to someone why you are taking a picture of a cardboard cutout of Shaquille O'Neil wearing a red nose and a COVID-era relics. Especially when the person doesn't care at all that he's being filmed by three cameras up on the wall, pointing down at everyone.



It’s 1918.

There’s a lot going on.

Mr. Fargason, you have the floor!


On second thought, that’s enough


Okay really that’s enough

“Quit visiting.” Man has a point, there.



  Front page item! Well, surely that’s all they have to say about the sock matter.
  I spoke too soon

We cannot lose soldiers because of improper socks

From the distance of a century it seems as "yes, good socks are important for our fighting lads" but things were different. We had a socks gap.

This ad makes a reference to a new regulation:

A humorous way of settling in the customer’s mind, although they probably knew that Mr. Lehman was not a bumpkin at all.


The modern world just sucked.



Here’s your new food rules. Remember, there’s a war on.

Not here, waaaay over there, but a war nevertheless.

The interminable run of European competition has manifested itself in porkless days here in the middle of America.


Nice to see the Yellow Kid got a job as a professional Ferengi impersonator:

  When catarrh strikes, old folks beware!

Catarrh, remember, is just generalized nose and throat goop. What we'd call "congestion" today. But man, they were always on about catarrh


News for those who haven’t paid much attention.

The extent of French colonization seems underplayed in the general narrative, doesn't it?


Trust me, I selected the highlights.

That'll do! See you hither / yon. Cellophane ads await. So many cellophane ads

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