Saturday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Heh, came across this while searching for a recipe: How Salty-Velvety Provel Cheese Became a St. Louis Icon

    I’ll never forget the look on my boyfriend’s face as we sat down at Frasher’s Smokehouse, a Southwest-meets-barbecue joint in the heart of my hometown of Phoenix. His mouth twisted into a crooked smile and his eyes twinkled, an expression reserved only for moments of pure joy. He then pointed at the wall where, instead of the more traditional smoked meats and BBQ sides on the paper menu in our hands, there was a list of St. Louis classics. “Oh, man, St. Louis-style pizza?” he exclaimed. “I haven’t had that in years!”

    As we eyed another customer receiving a very thin, piping hot pie, I asked what the difference was. Having grown up in Quincy, Illinois and lived in St. Louis, he gave me his patented “I’m about to drop some Midwest insider knowledge” grin. “It’s made with Provel cheese,” he said, “and it’s totally unique.” Pronouncing it “pro-vell,” he went on to explain that it was a regional delicacy—and that its flavor was love-it-or-hate-it. I would simply have to taste it to find out.

    True enough, it is a love-it or hate-it food. I love it. My older brother hates it. Not that either is a recommendation. I have the palate of a jackal, and my brother’s tastes are even more questionable. Regardless, it is unique to my old hometown, STL.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages

    The carpet cleaner heaves his machine up the stairs, untangles its hoses and promises to dump the dirty water only in the approved toilet. Another day scrubbing rugs for less than $20 an hour. Another Washington area house with overflowing bookshelves and walls covered in travel mementos from places he would love to go one day. But this was not that day.

    “Tell me about this stain,” 46-year-old Vaughn Smith asks his clients.
    “Well,” says one of the homeowners, “Schroeder rubbed his bottom across it.”

    Vaughn knows just what to do about that, and the couple, Courtney Stamm and Kelly Widelska, know they can trust him to do it. They’d been hiring him for years, once watching him erase even a splattered Pepto Bismol stain. But this time when Vaughn called to confirm their January appointment, he quietly explained that there was something about himself that he’d never told them. That he rarely told anyone. And well, a reporter was writing a story about it. Could he please bring her along?

    Now as they listen to Vaughn discuss the porousness of wool, and the difference between Scotchgard and sanitizer, they can’t help but look at him differently. Once the stool stain is solved, Kelly just has to ask.

    “So, how many languages do you speak?”
    “Oh goodness,” Vaughn says. “Eight, fluently.”
    “Eight?” Kelly marvels.
    “Eight,” Vaughn confirms. English, Spanish, Bulgarian, Czech, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian and Slovak. But if you go by like, different grades of how much conversation,” he explains, “I know about 25 more.”

    Vaughn glances at me. He is still underselling his abilities. By his count, it is actually 37 more languages, with at least 24 he speaks well enough to carry on lengthy conversations. He can read and write in eight alphabets and scripts. He can tell stories in Italian and Finnish and American Sign Language. He’s teaching himself Indigenous languages, from Mexico’s Nahuatl to Montana’s Salish. The quality of his accents in Dutch and Catalan dazzle people from the Netherlands and Spain.

    In a city where diplomats and embassies abound, where interpreters can command six-figure salaries at the State Department or the International Monetary Fund, where language proficiency is résumé rocket fuel, Vaughn was a savant with a secret.

    “A real, live polyglot,” Kelly said.

    It’s a very good read, about polyglots (like my wife, 4 languages) and hyperpolyglots like Vince. It is also the story of Vince and how he came to know so many languages. As to the why,

    When his niece liked the way the word chicken sounded in Salish, they started studying it together, befriended leaders of the language school on the Flathead Indian Reservation and road-tripped to Arlee, Mont., twice. Vance Home Gun, who worked at the school, was stunned to hear an East Coaster speaking his language — and even more stunned that Vaughn could actually pronounce it.

    “You got to remember, there are very few people left, even in our tribe, who can talk Salish,” Home Gun said. “For him to know how much he does without actually being taught in our classrooms and schools or spending time with the older people who still speak it is pretty amazing.”

    Vaughn makes an effort to get to know people in the language that shaped their lives. In return, they shape his. Welcoming him. Accepting him. Appreciating him.

  3. CSK says:

    Evidence of Don Junior conspiring with Mark Meadows to over throw the election:

    I guess Junior still hasn’t learned that writing an email is like writing a postcard.

  4. CSK says:

    Text, not email. Same difference.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Paul Cogan

    FUN FACT: The first law the Taliban changed when they came back into power was to lower the age at which a girl could marry to 7 years old.

    I guess Tennessee Republicans have more than a few things in common with the Taliban.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: And in that vein:

    Tennessee Republican Rep. David Byrd admitted to molesting three children.

    Democratic Rep. @VoteGloriaJ
    tried to expel him from government, but the Republicans refused and continue to support and protect him.

  7. CSK says:

    I’d never heard of Provel before your comment, so I looked it up. Lo and behold, there are three places near me that sell it. Swiss, cheddar, and provolone. Quite a combo.

  8. Kathy says:

    Once again I highly recommend Severance on Apple TV+.

    And once again, the premise is employees have their memories severed. This means when at work they don’t recall anything about their lives, while when not at work they recall nothing about work.

    It seems simple enough, but there are many complications. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I’ll just say you should expect stranger things than severed memories.

    I’ve been thinking about the core idea. Naturally it’s impossible. if it were possible, it would be useless. if you recall nothing outside of work, then you could’t speak, write, read, nor do anything you were hired to do. Here the show’s writers rely on an audience conditioned by time-honored amnesia cliches. Not that amnesia isn’t real, but it’s nothing at all like what we see in movies or TV. And we also are trained in suspension of disbelief.

    But assume it were possible and useful and worked as it does on Severance. Things can get pretty bleak pretty fast.

    The show does say why employees would accept such severance. But why would an employer want it? the obvious case is a Holmes or Balwani type who elevate secrecy past clinical paranoia, even when no fraud is involved. It would be more secure than NDAs. Even if you wanted to talk a reporter’s ear off, you can’t.

    For criminal maters, it would be even better. You could lure people with job offers in finance, then have them do tons of illegal stuff they can’t rat you out for. You’d have to secure things on your end, but you’d never worry about more than that.

    I can think of a few more, but some might spoil the show. So maybe later.

  9. CSK says:
  10. Sleeping Dog says:


    You shouldn’t be. The cultural restraints that kept that type of comment out of public view and likely only shared with close friends are gone. Quite likely Dietrich has received hundreds of atta boys from the deplorables. That the local R party leadership is asking for his head is a recognition of bad optics rather than principle.

  11. Mimai says:

    I can certainly enjoy some St. Louis style pizza!

    Another regional cheese quirk: Mississippi State University is known for their Edam cheese.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Another day ending in “Y”.

  13. CSK says:

    @CSK: @OzarkHillbilly:
    I know, I know. It still shocks me.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: You definitely want to avoid the hills and hollers.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Lara Logan, the latest victim of cancel culture.

    The former CBS reporter Lara Logan, who compared Dr Anthony Fauci to the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, has claimed she was “pushed out” at Fox News because the conservative network does not want “independent thinkers”.

    “I was definitely pushed out,” Logan told Eric Metaxas, a conservative radio host, this week. “I mean, there is no doubt about that. They don’t want independent thinkers. They don’t want people who follow the facts regardless of the politics.”

    Fox News has not commented on reports that it “quietly benched” Logan over her remark about Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser. On Friday, a spokesperson for Fox News said the network would not comment. Logan has not appeared as a guest on Fox News since making the comment about Fauci. There have been no new episodes of her show on the Fox Nation streaming service, Lara Logan Has No Agenda, which is still available.

    Who’da thunk it? I thought all of FOX’s standards were low.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:


    Aren’t Murdoch’s Jewish? Otherwise, maybe there is a bottom for Faux, that it’s in a deep dark mine isn’t surprising.

  17. becca says:

    @Kathy: we started re-streaming Severance last night. It’s almost as good as seeing it the first time. Almost more engrossing, too, because of all the aha! clues.
    In Her Eyes is a really interesting limited series. Upload is fun. The Outlaws, with Stephen Merchant and the suddenly ubiquitous Christopher Walken, is worth giving a shot. Just a few shows to bide time until Severance Season 2.

  18. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Rupert Murdoch is a self-described “Christian.” He attended the Roman Catholic church with one of his wives, and was made a papal knight at some point.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    Further proof that there is no more important petty governing body than a faculty senate.

    Allegations of racism roil UMass Boston campus, new dean

  20. Kathy says:


    I expect I’ll re-watch it in a few months.

    As is, much of it is fresh still from having streamed 8 eps over one weekend.

  21. Jen says:

    Former Stonyfield yogurt CEO Gary Hirshberg is considering a run for NH governor. I doubt he’ll be elected, since he’s in favor of an income tax, (which would likely end up being more fair than our 100% reliance on property taxes here), but the “no sales/no income tax” is pretty ingrained in the political culture here.

    Still, interesting.

    On the STL pizza–I’m in the “hate it” category. The first time I had Imo’s Pizza was memorable and not in a good way. Flavorless cracker-like crust, topped with too-sweet tomato sauce and the inexplicable addition of Provel was a shock to my system after having lived in Europe and eating amazing Neapolitan pizza from Naples.

  22. CSK says:

    Well, I assume it at least didn’t have pineapple on it. What an abomination. I first encountered pineapple on what passed for pizza in Scotland decades ago. Ghastly.

  23. steve says:

    Texas just arrested a woman (last name Hispanic) and charged her with murder for inducing her abortion. Under what law would they do that? I thought the most recent law just let people get sued.


  24. CSK says:

    Excellent question. And it’s the provider who’s supposed to be sued.

    Perhaps because the woman self-induced the abortion that makes her the provider.

    But it still doesn’t explain why she was arrested for murder.

    Nice of the hospital to report her. Sarcasm off.

  25. James Joyner says:

    Clip test

    Edit: Nothing special intended by that clip, which was on YouTube’s front page. But, yes, even from the regular commenting front end, users should be able to embed videos. (A question raised in a thread earlier in the week.)

  26. Mikey says:

    I tried the embed code from YouTube but it shows nothing. Are there additional tags I need to use to wrap the thing in?

  27. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yesterday I tried embedding a YouTube video using the embed HTML that YouTube provides and it didn’t work. From that experiment, I assumed that WordPress has list of allowable HTML actions and that insert a vid wasn’t one.

    What did you use for the embed format?

  28. Sleeping Dog says:


    Assuming Sununu seeks reelection, why rush to be a sacrificial lamb?

    On the other hand, perhaps Chris is thinking about spending time with his family. His cracks about TFG won’t deny him the nomination, but they’re getting the rubes riled up, which is creating avoidable turbulence. I wonder where he sees himself in 2-4 years?

  29. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I have been wondering roughly the same thing.

    Why would Hirshberg want to run? He’s been very vocal about the need for an income tax. I can’t imagine that does anything other than secure the job for Sununu. In fact, if Sununu doesn’t run, this will frighten me a bit.

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    I like to watch the kids dance!

  31. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @James Joyner:
    Yes, that’s what I tried for my Gilda Radner and Arte Johnson clips earlier in the week. I’m pretty excited, as until recently I had to rely on the kindness of the commentariat to imbed links to articles I found insightful/amusing/confusing. If I copy the link (as I do when I send them to Cracker) they seem to work here too.

    Ain’t technology wunnerful?

  32. CSK says:

    One of his job titles at Stonyfield is “Chief Organic Optimist,” so…

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: It does not appear so. From his Wiki page:

    Keith Rupert Murdoch was born on 11 March 1931 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the son of Sir Keith Murdoch (1885–1952) and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch (née Greene; 1909–2012).[19] He is of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. Murdoch’s parents were also born in Melbourne and his grandfather was a Presbyterian minister.[20]

    It doesn’t say much about his mother and iirc the mother’s Jewish heritage is determinative. So I am unable to say with certainty with out further digging. TBH, I don’t care that much.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Or just what CSK said.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @steve: @CSK:

    Woman Arrested for Abortion in Texas, Held on Half-Million-Dollar Bond: ‘This Arrest Is Inhumane’

    The murder charge is an extreme and unprecedented misuse of Texas law that is in direct conflict with the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973. Texas does not have a law that makes self-inducing an abortion a crime (three states do—Oklahoma, South Carolina and Nevada). Two recent laws restricting abortion in the state—Senate Bill 8 and Senate Bill 4—explicitly exempt pregnant women.

    Senate Bill 8, enacted on September 1, 2021, purports to ban abortion at roughly six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law, however, is only enforceable by private parties bringing civil suits against people who “aid and abet” women to get an abortion and the law explicitly exempts pregnant women from prosecution. Federal and state courts have dismissed lawsuits attempting to block the law on grounds that it is not enforceable by the state.
    Texas also enacted Senate Bill 4 on December 1, 2021, making it a crime for doctors to prescribe abortion pills to patients who are more than seven weeks pregnant or who mail abortion pills to a patient at any time of pregnancy. Violating the law is a felony punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of $10,000. But the law applies only to doctors and explicitly exempts pregnant women from criminal penalties.

    Despite these explicit exemptions, the Starr County Sheriff’s Office arrested and jailed Herrera “on the charge of murder after [she] did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.”

    “There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”
    -Frank Wilhoit

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Gee, I dunno. I happen to think that Canadian Bacon or ham and pineapple make a good combination. Especially with green peppers, onions, and olives added. And that would be a combination I think Provel cheese would be good on, although I don’t particularly care for the flavor combination on pizza. (The cheddar and Swiss elements of the flavor are off-putting for me on pizza.)

    My go to combination for pizza when I make it from scratch is still dry salami, Italian sausage, onions, peppers (red and green), and olives with a sauce made from crushed tomatoes and topped with mozzarella and shredded parmesan. Sometimes, I put pepperoni on it, but it’s hard to find pepperoni that’s not too greasy anymore, so add red pepper flakes if you need kick.

  37. CSK says:

    Then Texas will just have to arrest any doctor who performs an abortion. Right? Fair is fair.

  38. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I’ll concede you the bacon and ham, but pineapple? Sorry.
    Salami, sausage, peppers, onion, and olives are all fine.

  39. dazedandconfused says:

    Why one must be very, very careful when ordering pizza in Hawaii… Read the menu carefully. Quick scanning could miss the “s” in front of “ham”.

  40. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    While I’m not a fan of it on pizza(?), I grew up around people of Pacific Island heritage. Personally, I’m a fan of a nice scramble of Spam, eggs, and taters. Some red and green peppers, maybe a mushroom or two.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Oh shoot yeah, Cracker, I’m there!

  41. Jax says:

    @dazedandconfused: I was, quite frankly, shocked at the variety of flavors of Spam available in Hawaii. I had no idea they even made anything besides “Original”. 😛

  42. CSK says:

    It’s been a huge part of Hawaiian cuisine ever since WWII. The G.I.s introduced it to the islands.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I’m guessing that you might not like this recipe either then. This is not the recipe that I learned for this dish, but it does look delicious. I’d have to leave the walnuts out (allergy). The recipe that I know was one that I made for a woman with whom I was having dinner before we went to the opera later. My recipe substituted raisins for the apples and had (IIRC) bamboo shoots and was seasoned with soy sauce. The entree was a Graham Kerr recipe that he called Queensland Duck which featured the duck sauteed so the skin would crisp up napped in a sauce of ginger, green pepper dice and…

    … pineapple. recipe for the interested.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Don’t forget musubi–slice of grilled spam, brick of rice the same size and shape (traditionally, one used the lid from the can, but you can’t do that with pull-tops), wrapped in gim (the seaweed used to make sushi rolls).

  45. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Now that sounds delicious. Pineapple and duckling? Yum.

    I quite like pineapple. Just not with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan, thank you.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Spam is the perfect cave food.

  47. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My Mom used to make fried Spam and cheese sandwiches when I was a kid….I enjoyed them. Little bit of Velveeta on top, some Miracle Whip. I still make them occasionally to horrify my kids.

  48. CSK says:

    My stomach is heaving.

  49. de stijl says:

    This is beyond specific advice about gel ink pens….


    Very specific consumer advice to people who still use pens.

    Pentel gel ink pens are crap. Do not buy them. Especially Pentel Wow! BK440 pens. They suck!

    I normally use Pilot gel ink pens. No huge affliliation or attachment besides they do the job as advertised. My go-to.

    I bought a four pack of Pentel gel ink pens. I stupidly thought gel ink pens were alike. They are not. Pentel gel ink pens skip and scrape and routinely leave no ink where the nib just traced.

    Every time I tried to use it for its intended purpose it chugged and shuttered. Crappy scraggly lines I had to backfill. Stop and start. It failed at its one purpose – put ink on paper consistently.

    I left a notebook on a desk where spring sunshine blasts in at 3 to 4 pm directly on to the desktop this time of year. It faded drastically. In a few days. Pilot notes on the same page held up fine with zero fading.

    My Pentel ink notes on the paper faded to a yellow brown stain. It looked like a week old bruise.

    I have no idea if Pilot is best, it’s just my go to, but Pentel sucks very hard in the gel ink game.

    Do not buy, ever, if your life depended on it.

  50. mister bluster says:

    Fried bologna sandwich on white bread with yellow mustard and cheap beer.
    Broke in San Francisco 1974.

  51. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    et alia,

    You fools! Pineapple is awesome in all sorts of savory dishes. It balances salt, it regulates / informs spicy heat. It adds texture and crunch.

    Tacos, curries, sauces, chutneys. Pineapple is a key ingredient.

    I buy both whole pineapple and canned crushed with juice.

    It works really well with pork. Cut off a slab and sear it hard both sides. A tiny smidge of salt.

    The Indians have this well nailed better than us. Fruit + meat really rocks.

  52. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I’m a big fan of the Pilot’s. There’s nothing better than a good pen.

  53. Jax says:

    @CSK: I always told myself “When I’m grown up, I’m never eating stuff like Spam or hamburger gravy over toast”, but now that I’m a grown-ass adult, I make it on the days I miss being a kid and not having to pay bills and shit. 😛

  54. de stijl says:

    @mister bluster:

    I envy you. You had a hot plate.

    I did cold sandwiches. 1982. My lord, I hate Bologna to this day. You can buy way, way more food for the buck at a grocery store that at a convenience store. I bought a lot of pepperoni, roat beef, rye bread, and various cheese blocks. Potato chips. I had no access to a stove or a cook top.

    Thankfully, I worked at a pizza restaurant or I probably would have died.

  55. de stijl says:


    My thing is patty melts.

    When I was very young I thought them a poor substitute for a straight up hamburger you could get at a restaurant.

    I did not go to a restaurant very often then. Mostly, if somebody was paying for me.

    Nowadays, I do one bad-ass patty melt. Grilled, seeded, Jewish rye bread. A three cheddar blend. Fried onion slices. A smashed burger. German mustard. Tots or steak fries. It is divine. I do it once or twice a week. Sometimes more.

    A meal I made when I was a kid has an enormous resonance as an a adult. I no longer have to dodge a bipolar mom. I can be free.

  56. de stijl says:


    Sausage gravy over fresh biscuits with four slices of bacon is the best breakfast ever.

    My heart and vascular system disagrees, but my soul is totally on board.

  57. Mikey says:

    We’re watching more of “Servant of the People,” starring Volodomyr Zelenskyy. It is really good. Wonderfully dry humor, great production, Kyiv is such a beautiful city. Zelenskyy is great.

    Highly recommended if you have Netflix.

  58. Jax says:

    @de stijl: A good patty melt is about as wonderful as a good pen! I like the twisted rye/sourdough bread, swiss cheese, perfectly grilled/juicy onions and the special thousand island sauce. We don’t have any restaurants here anymore, so sometimes I mix it up if I can find buffalo burger.

    Also, you’ve never had heaven until you’ve had my sausage gravy. There used to be little 24-hour dive restaurant in Idaho Falls, Idaho, called North HiWay Cafe. They had the bomb sausage gravy, I was a regular customer until they changed the recipe and went straight Sysco. I missed it so much I experimented until I found it.

    Now I just gotta work on the biscuit recipe. 😛

  59. mister bluster says:

    @de plate…
    Actually had a full kitchen. Joe and I were limited by two factors. Minimum accommodations so Joe would qualify for housing assistance as he was dis abled and accessibility since he was in a wheelchair.
    Had to be a street level apartment which are virtually nonexistant in San Francisco street level is for garages or an elevator. Elevator buildings tend to be more expensive than walk ups. Since our housing budget was fixed we had to scrimp on food so we could afford beer and weed.

  60. de stijl says:

    Good biscuits are wicked hard,


    When I tried to do it myself I always overdid the wet and made little round scones. The texture was wrong.

    Nowadays, I do the Pillsbury buttermilk tube deal and call it good. It works well enough for what I want it to do – be a base. I do spritz some salt and ground up rosemary on top before I slap it in the oven.

    The gravy is the key. Who knew I could do a decent roux when I was 12? It’s hard to do a good blondish brown roux on an electric stove, but with practice you can figure it out – 3.5 is the about correct temperature for my stove. You have to pay attention at the end.

    I do the sausage low and slow separately and add it later, juice and fat as well, obviously. The best part.

    Maybe a smidgen of water to loosen it up a bit if necessary.

    It gets better the next day. Like chili or curry. Richer.

  61. de stijl says:

    @mister bluster:

    1982 me envies you greatly. You had a functional kitchen. Probably hot, running water, too.

    A few years later I was living high on the hog. I went from squatting in a unused industrial machine shop to a dee-lux apartment in the sky in a pretty short span. It messed with my head. I had a 20th floor balcony. Two, actually. Kinda freaked me out.

    I was buddies with a guy in a chair. We had the same morning schedule. We had the same route. This was right before the ADA was passed. I would walk with him many days.

    It was way easier for him to go on the street as close as possible to the left curb. Sidewalks then had a five – six inch bump up and down. No ramps on corners. Doable with assistance. Dude did not appreciate assistance. I knew where he was coming from. If I were him I would be salty as fuck. Independent as he could possibly be.

    He was kinda a bad-ass.

    I miss the days. Life was simpler.

  62. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I always sautee onions with the sausage as it cooks down. Depending on how many people (sometimes it’s a breakfast for 40), I’ll add some lard, flour, and seasonings (salt, pepper, rosemary, paprika, parsley, garlic) cook that down til sizzling, then add milk and stir frantically. Then I add some cheese, usually some kind of colby jack or cheddar jack. Turn the heat off and let it all sit.

    Biscuits…we haven’t been able to get the refrigerated biscuits in a tube for a while. 4 months or so. I’ve been trying all the good recipes, with middling success.

  63. de stijl says:


    In the mid to late 80s I used to live in a high-rise in downtown Minneapolis. I was neighbors to the chair guy I mentioned above.

    It was way east downtown by the post office. A block off the river.

    I used to wander around in old ruined wrecks of buildings a few blocks south and north. For fun. I like exploring old, disused spaces. Can’t really tell you why. I just do. They speak to me.

    One space was the old Pillsbury mill right on the river. Three blocks south and a block east from where I lived in the dee-lux apartment in the sky-ai-ai.

    I would go there and look at what once was. Take pictures. Imagine back when it was a going operation. Try to not stumble and need a tetanus shot.

    Now, and for quite a few years now, that decrepit wreck of a building has been rehabbed into a museum / commercial space / condos / restaurants. It is a premier space once Minneapolis realized there was gold on the riverfront. The Pillsbury A Mill complex and neighborhood.

    The space I used to bum around in and be super emo in before emo was a thing. Take “meaningful” b&w photos of urban decay in – is now super premium very high end real estate.

    It is used to be so meaningless and worthless no one even bothered to hire security guards.

    The area just north of east downtown where the baseball field is now used to be an unused industrial space. A few pioneering apartment and condo buildings and some cool clubs and bars eager for the cheap rent.

    Now, super duper spendy. All built out and commercialized. It used to be a dead zone if you weren’t clued into the clubs.

    How times change. Tens of thousands of people now live and work in the derelict wrecks of buildings I once explored as a young adult.

  64. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I think I attended a few raves in that same industrial area of Minneapolis in 94/95. Just think….we were a few years apart in the wandering!

  65. de stijl says:

    My building was the far eastern terminus of the skyway system.

    You can go just about anywhere downtown on the skyway.

    It is more than just tubes between buildings. It is its own ecosystem.

    I could walk to work and never go outside. Work was 8 blocks away. If I wanted to I could walk 7 blocks further west past that.

    Getting back to being able to walk to work in the skyway. I did when it was cold. One day in late January I realized I had not been outside except for on my balcony for at least three weeks or possibly a month.

    I took an elevator, walked for ten minutes, and took another elevator. There and back all inside. Passed a couple hundred little storefronts. I knew where to buy coffee. I picked up the paper. I figured out which places had good pizza and which had bad. Same for sandwiches. There was an ATM a block from home and one downstairs from work. Places that were street level businesses had a skyway door on the second level. I could go to bars and clubs and never step outside.

    Living on the skyway was like living in a very long shopping mall. I had to go through Dayton’s to get to work. A quite weird shopping mall.

    The day I realized I had not been outdoors for at least 3 weeks if not a full month, I decided that a workable rule is that if it is warmer than 20F then I walk the street. A few days later I added a wind-chill caveat. I’m not an idiot.

    I found a new place to get coffee. The paper out of a box on the street. I had known these before, but I got used to the skyway making my life more comfortable.

    My coworkers envied me to some extent. Being able to walk to work. Living downtown. Walking the skyway back and forth to home. I believe I was the only person on the whole floor of roughly 300 people who could do that.

    Living on the skyway was a trip. It informed me as to who I am and who I am not.

  66. de stijl says:

    There was one guy, but he was sort of an exception. He lived in Maryland. Had a wife, some kids. During the workweek he lived in a corporate apartment downtown like a block and a half from work. Flew back and forth for months on end during the last gasps of the crunch of a dieing project. The motto was all hands on deck. Typical bullshit.

    M. and I were not great fast friends, but once a week we had a dinner date because I knew if I were him I would want a little distraction. A night out can set your head straight – well, straighter. It’s not a panacea.

    We weren’t friends, but we could be buddies.

    After a few months it got to be 5 or 6 rotating regulars. All hell bent on the notion that if we pretend very hard are jobs don’t suck, then maybe they don’t. We ate good food and talked about whatever came into our heads.

    Spouses got invited. I inadvertently created a club of work friends blowing off stress with food and beer and just jawing at one another and laughing.

    Probably one of the best things I ever did. Kinda by accident.