12340HEADS UP. On a rare trip to Minneapolis without his kids, my friend Kirk seemed like a different person, noticing details and cues he usually ignores. We laughed that the difference was just 15°—the angle between a person’s eyes chasing a three-year-old and ones raised to a grown person’s face. This struck me as poignant and a little tragic. Keeping your head down and doing what you think you’re supposed to may prevent everyday shit from derailing. But it’s entirely at odds with finding new experiences and challenging the status quo, our own or the world’s.

My angle of repose may be higher than Kirk’s right now but lower than I’d like it. The conditions of my work—ever-shifting, emergency-prone—keep me mired in the moment (or actively trying to suppress it). But the future looms larger to me lately. Maybe it’s turning 40, or Johanna’s transformation from a little kid to a half-adult who asks less of me each year, freeing me to ask more of myself.

So what else is supposed to happen? My sister’s friend David, who does things and knows things, spoke persuasively of the advantages of employment over of carrying all your own water. No doubt he’s right, but just the thought of wedding myself to a company or a job makes me panicky. My agenda may be muddled, but it’s my own, dammit.

Braver people are going there. Linda X. wants to start a Lao food truck. A lady I know just bought a store in South Minneapolis because it sounded fun. Travis O. is shopping around his pet project to get it funded. My sister is reducing her hours to focus on becoming a yoga teacher, or maybe a professional officiant. Lucas will become the Twin Cities’ next architect-impresario of the Autonomous Dwelling UnitWith the value of Portland real estate through the roof, Travis D. is seeing a retirement endgame in 5 to 10 years (business keeps you busy, but land is forever). Paul has launched a national conference on arts criticism. What are you up to, slacker?

This month Sarah was awarded a grant to develop her artistic practice, recognition of awesome stuff she’s been simmering for the past year—from textiles to teaching artist to community/social engagement. My hopes are pinned on hers and all the others. May their changes change me.

They Might Be Giants (11/3, First Ave) was one nostalgia show I didn’t bother with this year (X and Sonic Youth were solid; De La Soul was a long, tiresome harangue to put your hands up—or is that every hip-hop show I’ve seen for a decade?). TMBG now makes music for children, which means I’ve run a full generational lap with college rock.

A poem by Kurt Schwitters, a collaging hero of mine, animated in type.

In the right frame of mind, the Country Teasers’ hypnotic rants sound something like Truth.

Add “Lisa Bonet Ate No Basil” to the list of things I find endlessly funny AND mark me as a total dweeb.

In more nerdcore news, Sarah and I saw the Mountain Goats at the Cedar Cultural Center (my new favorite old venue), with opener Final Fantasy, who stepped in with his violin for the tune “Going to Bristol.”

>> Richard Buckner talks about finding a new career after your last one dries up.

>> I have never before this month been thinking so much about Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwiches. Or eating so few.

>> Global Culture Snippet: Latvia’s Ethnographic Mittens.

>> On the tragic scarcity of street food in Mpls/St Paul.

>> Bodaciously browser-rockin’ art GIFs (hit the arrows to peruse) (thanks, Kate)

>> Bank robbery communiqués and their authors.

>> We are contemplating a trip to Colombia. I am cautiously optimisitic.

I recently went to TruValu looking for a manual aerator. Something to loosen up the soil for grass without the full-on assault of a fume-belching engine. Reasonable enough, right?

I was unprepared for the scorn I received. Such a thing hadn’t been manufactured since the 1970’s, I was told. Instead of helping me find what I wanted, Mr. TruValu really heaped it on, calling a friend to underscore how out of touch I was: “I got a guy here who wants to live in the 1800s…”

Sarah found one on the internet that day (it looks a like a crutch with two tubes that plug the soil).  Aside from debating the wisdom of hardware storemen, or the merits of manual aeration, why is there such a deep disrespect for technology that’s passed its prime? Of the 100 or so things I do in an average week, I’d say 95 are accomplished using devices three or more generations (about 10-20 years) behind state of the art. It’s not really about the aesthetic of the old for me. And it’s only a little about cheapness and retailphobia. Isn’t there any virtue left in working with what you have?

Like a mobile phone that excels at the two things you need it to do—and no more. Or a functional but junky bike that no one bothers to steal. Personally, I love the feel of non-technical fabrics against my skin, and look forward to moving an inert toothbrush back and forth under my own power.

If you stall long enough, the rewards are huge. Imagine the thrill of having decent 8 Tracks handy when suddenly all you’ve got to play music is an 8-track jukebox with pumping disco lights (true story). Good ole Craig has wrought a new techno-psychadelic style from the death throes of his ancient Canon Elph:


Sure, worship of obsolete formats can be taken too far. But a practical popular movement couldn’t arrive soon enough for me.

Did you know that the discipline of experimental philosophy (or “X-Phi” if you’re in a hurry) has its own emblem, like Special Forces or The Illuminati? It’s an armchair in flames (something about philosophers needing to get out more). I’m designing one in glass for a friend who’s a practicing philosopher, that rarest of species. Except not flaming, I guess—just the chair (as a born contrarian, he’s well-suited to his field).

I’m contemplating projects to respark my joie de vivre and mining for inspiration in word art: Ed Ruscha, Raymond Pettibon and Jenny Holzer, new names as well. My riff might have a stained glass angle, though maybe not (man, stained glass typography—there’s a niche in desperate need of rehabilitation).

Back on the philosophy tip, my personal one is up in the air right now. So I’m especially receptive to Making-Sense-of-Life Lessons like DFW’s mega-circulated and recently published Commencement Speech to Kenyon College. Garden-variety empathy as a cardinal virtue? That I can do.

Meanwhile, my media diet for May—Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, We Shall Remain on PBS and the late-run of Gran Torino at the Riverview—is telling me that we’re all just flotsam swatted about by forces much greater than ourselves.

What if employment (and other forms of membership I don’t go in for right now) is what binds us to these forces? Like if you’re not banding together to make the movement, you’re just being moved. To be independent, then, is to risk irrelevance. You look only to yourself for value, without a handbook (or holy book or brand book) when you come up lacking.

You gotta write your own manifesto. Pay your own FICA. Empty your own garbage. Order your own business cards. For 30 more years? Unfathomable.

Sorry. Cue the movies of music:

Kate Stelmanis – Join Us

Micachu & the Shapes – Lips

The Fall – Totally Wired (live in NYC, 1981)

Turns out Harry Allen a/k/a “the Media Assassin,” doesn’t just lurk around the PE water cooler like Professor Griff, but is, in fact, out there assassinating media ignorance. A short essay on racism in the new Old Navy commercial that white people probably can’t see.

Why my local dry cleaner rocks (not only because it’s staffed by teenagers using pre-1970’s technology).

I avoid blogging about creative/media/advertising work, but this social networking application by Zeus Jones suggests what can happen when smart ad people divert their energy from helping us to consume more, like to enter a contest.

A well-worn technique hits sardonic new heights: The Nietzsche Family Circus. (Thanks, Sytsma)

The only weather site I will ever need.

My 89-year-old grandfather’s hip broke two weeks ago. He didn’t break it exactly, it just broke. Since that time, he’s been operated on, put in traction and left to languish in a hospital room until they get around to doing more surgery. It is not clear when he will be ready to leave. At his age, this is especially unpleasant and scary.

I drove to Dubuque this morning to stay with him for a couple days (my mom and sister have been here on and off for two weeks). As he naps fitfully in the adjacent bed, I’m applying internet therapy to a mild case of boredom.

I write like a girl: Enter a blog into the Gender Analyzer to query the probable gender of the site’s author.

Voting is hard: Judge for yourself which candidate, if any, should tally a vote from these disputed Minnesota ballots. And try not to judge the voters too harshly.

Squid cam: Glimpse an otherworldly, deepsea creature caught on camera near an oil rig.

What you eat is what you get: Ol’ Eric King finally resurrected and we’re all richer for it.

One touchup too far: PhotoshopDisasters.