This place, of course, does not exist. You can tell that in a second.

But for a fragment of a second, did it seem real?

We'll get to the origin in a while.

Instant summer, as often happens in these parts. Ninety degrees. That’s 110 degrees warmer than a few months ago. I’m wearing shorts to the office, because A) who cares, B) it’s summer. Did my stint wearing a shirt and tie in the summer in DC, because we had a dress code.

Can you imagine such a thing today? A dress code? A requirement to wear a tie? I don’t remember if it was spelled out when I was in DC, but it didn’t have to be spelled out. It’s what grown-ups did. We had one guy whose tie was always poorly threaded in his collar. If the collar rolled up exposing most of the tie, it was a Full Vickery; if the collar was partly in place, a Half Vickery. It became office lingo and remained so for my tenure, and I was always grateful when someone pointed out that I had a half-vickery there, might want to fix it.

You could loosen the knot of the tie in the afternoon, undo the top button around four. You didn’t take it off at the bar after work and you didn’t take it off before you got on the subway. It just wasn’t done. The last stand of the Obligation Culture, the waning hours of the Should Ethos. Maybe it’s still the same in DC. Wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Says the man in a T-shirt.

Bear with me while I get this out of my dark seething soul, will you?

  This is an ad. This is an ad on Twitter. It has all the hallmarks of a fake brand: the meaningless name, the supposedly personal evaluation, the infantile emojis, and an overamped reaction. SO COOL! CANNOT LIVE WITH OUT IT (smiling emoji with hearrs for eyes)

So what? you ask. Agreed; no big deal. Except that we are in a strange world of pseudo-brands, nonsense-named places that resell Chinese junk. It's like waking up in a world where all the familiar brands have been replaced, and no one notices!

"Tell me, brother, where can I pick up an Electrolux product?"

"What is that? What strange word do you utter? I know not of this A-legtro-luck!"

Let's take a look at a week's worth of ads.



I want this for my life! So get it and shut up about it already.

A window groove cleaning brush. For your life.



You want this! so cool! It is desireable! Other persons on the World Wide Web where we share and to join, love the cool!




Utter junk. And no, you did not buy this for your sister, because you're a liar and do not exist. And your typeface choice is crap.

  Noticing a pattern?
  Good for the unemployed dog that your love

This one's quite popular. Another tweet that seemingly stumbled across this item and NEEDS IT and had to share it before actually buying it

Heart-eyed emoji




Not everyone can succeed selling these, I guess.

Hurry! They will close properly because of rent.

  "Shirley" - unsolicited testimonal to SWIBBY, located at the Swibby Tower, in Swibbyville, in the county of New Swibby
  Again, "I want this!" Well, then, surely I will want this too! I have been influenced!


Sorry guys, I'm looking for something that streams to my mobile device.

  Just in time for legalized weed

In case you want more:

Catu: not to be confused with Lato, as you see above.

Lato, not to be confused with Lobu.

Firro's website's owners are "redacted for privacy," but appears to be registersed in Iceland. Okay.


My search for a good backpack leads to "storefronts" on Amazon where the stock photos are absolutely not photoshopped at all, you guys

You guys going to pick up that bag, or leave it for security to worry about?

  When part of the family goes on a trip, the bag will fade in the sun for a short time, though.
  Now that I'm on a train, I can make it to a very small
  An endless rabbit-hole of ersatz brands. And that's just one product line.

Why do I care? Because there's nothing there. Just a nonsense word plastered on a reseller page with garbled illiterate copy, over and over, category after category. A world awash in half-assed fakery, fatuous bot-conjured ad copy, and interchangeable "brands" that are just masks over Chinese junk merchants.

And now, the weekly dream-journal entry, illustrated by artificial intelligence.

Road trip. I had stopped to photograph the ruined facade of an old grocery store.

I was with a group of friends, one of whom I haven’t seen in years. He was showing me his new Amazon purchase, a small needle used for executions. He pricked me with it and laughed, and I became quite irate, noting that as a child I had a fear of needles driven through the ear canal into the brain, and he laughed some more then became irate, and we almost came to blows - except, dear reader, the most unlikely thing happened.

That’s what I literally saw on a page, a piece of paper floating past: "except, dear reader, the most unlikely thing happened." As if to explain away the cliched plot development. A young woman interceded and took my hand and began to talk about the healing power of Art, and I said “what is this, a Philip Roth novel?” I got the impression that I spent a lot of time with her, but wearied of her company because everything was always a problem and the smallest difficulties confounded her.

Prompt: abandoned grocery store on rural Main street yielded the one above, and also this:

That's what I used for the banner art, using Photoshop's new generative AI function. More iterations:

Prompt: Philip Roth with a needle to show the healing power of Art





"No, I didn't. Gosh officer that was a terrible oversight on my part"

Solution is here.


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

Speculate on the etiquette foh-paw in the comments; extract any story you wish. Answer on Monday.


Now two ways to chip in!

That'll do! Have a grand weekend, and we'll start it all up again on Monday.




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