Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. James Lileks: National Treasure

 

I know that just about everybody here knows who James is, probably largely from the podcasts where he stands athwart Rob Long, enticing him into breaking into his segue, but I’ve only sporadically checked out his Bleat blog, which he has been doing since Moses took two tablets of Advil down from Mt. Doom and rebuilt his lightsaber to defeat the Sith on a volcano planet somewhere, out there, in the galaxy.

Today, he’s documenting what’s happened in his town, pictures of the buildings, many of them with boards on the windows, but he’s also got these fantastic tidbits on the architecture and the background on the buildings.

But that’s just part of it. It’s a page of amazing, old-timey, referential “stuff” that really seems to demonstrate the idea that some good things are lost over time — and some not so good things are lost over time, too, and good riddance — but the chronicling of the change is what’s interesting to me. The spaces where people lived, and then lived no longer.

Thanks, James!

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  1. JosePluma Thatcher

    I agree. James Lileks was the reason I came to Ricochet; sadly, I’ve neglected the Bleat as I become more engaged here. 

    • #1
    • June 5, 2020, at 4:58 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hear, hear! His books are unalloyed delight; I have given several copies of Interior Desecrations to friends for Christmas and birthdays, and they all love them.

    I had the chance to have a brief conversation with him on an NR cruise while waiting for an elevator. I got to thank him for being the anti-Keillor.

    It has been a different experience to read his reports from war-torn Minneapolis. His love for the place is always present, and while absolute spittle-flecked outrage would be perfectly justified, he is always articulate. I’m sure that many Minnesotans feel just as bad as he does right now, or worse, but I’m also sure that few of them could say so in a way that makes us all feel it the way he does.

    • #2
    • June 5, 2020, at 5:08 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Something or other, probably inertia, led me to Hugh Hewitt’s radio program. Thursday evenings were fantastic. Hugh regularly had Mark Steyn, and some columnist from the StarTribune (as they now style themselves) named Lileks. Excellent radio voice, cogent commentary, and he could talk faster than I could think. I tracked down his website where I was regaled with more cogent commentary and tales of the Gnat, plus matchbook covers, ghost signs on the sides of buildings, hotel and motel postcards, and all manner of such ephemera as to keep me clicking away for hour after misspent hour. All the while listening to “The Diner.”

    Sooner or later, mention was made on Hugh’s show of a podcast I had been already listening to. I was finally moved to buy a membership when it was announced that the podcast would be retreating behind a paywall to exclude moochers such as myself. Eventually, the paywall on podcasts idea was retracted, but by then I was having too much fun on the site to care.

     

    • #3
    • June 5, 2020, at 5:12 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  4. danok1 Member

    I read the Bleat before I hit Ricochet. It’s always a delight.

    But let’s not forget the rest of @jameslileks site, Lileks.com! “The Institute of Official Cheer”, “Roadside America”, “Engraveyard”, etc., each with its own subsections. One could easily spend days surfing his site!

    Although I do wonder if James ever sleeps, apart from the occasional nap.

    • #4
    • June 5, 2020, at 5:20 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  5. Stad Thatcher

    The guy is witty, intelligent, and has a pool of knowledge the depth of which will astound you . . .

    • #5
    • June 5, 2020, at 5:50 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. Kephalithos Member

    I used to frequent the Institute of Official Cheer in elementary school. Then, years later, I found a website called Ricochet and . . .

    . . . Lileks. James Lileks? That James Lileks? What are the chances!?

    • #6
    • June 5, 2020, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  7. Richard Fulmer Member

    From Lilek’s piece:

    It’s a full bin, isn’t it? Things That Aren’t Now. I had a section of a column I took out for space, and it considered what would happen if suddenly doughnuts were over. 

    Sometimes I’ve wondered what the world would be like if we ran out of humor. The headlines might read, “Jimmy Fallon Uses Last Joke on Tonight Show.” That’s it, over, nothing’s funny anymore. Then I remember that Congress is still in session.

     

    • #7
    • June 5, 2020, at 7:48 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “I could not tread these perilous paths in safety if I did not keep a saving sense of humor.” –Horatio Nelson

    • #8
    • June 5, 2020, at 9:16 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Gary Robbins Reagan

    I love James. A highlight of my life was to win the James Lileks’ coveted “Member Post of the Week” and almost went off of the road while speeding down the freeway.

    Also, when James tells me that I have gone too far, I immediately pause and reconsider.

    • #9
    • June 5, 2020, at 9:22 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. ddavewes Member

    He’s done well for a guy from Fargo :)

     

    • #10
    • June 5, 2020, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Stad Thatcher

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    almost went off of the road while speeding down the freeway.

    Hands on the wheel!

    • #11
    • June 5, 2020, at 1:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. kedavis Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Something or other, probably inertia, led me to Hugh Hewitt’s radio program. Thursday evenings were fantastic. Hugh regularly had Mark Steyn, and some columnist from the StarTribune (as they now style themselves) named Lileks. Excellent radio voice, cogent commentary, and he could talk faster than I could think. I tracked down his website where I was regaled with more cogent commentary and tales of the Gnat, plus matchbook covers, ghost signs on the sides of buildings, hotel and motel postcards, and all manner of such ephemera as to keep me clicking away for hour after misspent hour. All the while listening to “The Diner.”

    Sooner or later, mention was made on Hugh’s show of a podcast I had been already listening to. I was finally moved to buy a membership when it was announced that the podcast would be retreating behind a paywall to exclude moochers such as myself. Eventually, the paywall on podcasts idea was retracted, but by then I was having too much fun on the site to care.

    Are you referring to Hewitt’s site, or to Ricochet?

    I quit Hewitt’s site – and show – some time ago, for a variety of reasons including that their “comments” section had been non-functional for maybe 2 years and nobody seemed interested in – or capable of – fixing it.

    Also, as far as I know, James hasn’t been on the “main” Hewitt show since it moved to early mornings.

    • #12
    • June 5, 2020, at 2:24 PM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I quit Hewitt’s site – and show – some time ago, for a variety of reasons including that their “comments” section had been non-functional for maybe 2 years and nobody seemed interested in – or capable of – fixing it.

    I was a “member” over there too, just to access the downloadable shows. You re right about the comments section. I quit visiting the site and just downloaded the recordings. And I dropped out when he went to early mornings. 

    Doesn’t matter. I have this place instead.

    • #13
    • June 5, 2020, at 2:45 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is shameless shilling for Member Post Of The Week…

     

     

    • #14
    • June 5, 2020, at 2:56 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  15. Vance Richards Inactive
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I love James. A highlight of my life was to win the James Lileks’ coveted “Member Post of the Week” and almost went off of the road while speeding down the freeway.

    Yeah, I when I saw the headline I thought, “Someone is angling for the Post of the Week prize.”

    • #15
    • June 5, 2020, at 2:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Rapporteur Coolidge

    Amen to all. I have been a Bleatnik for many, many years (2007 is the earliest email I can find that I sent to Our Genial Host, as James is known in the Bleat comments). The flagship podcast is richer for James’ presence — yes, there was a time when it just featured Peter and Rob, but adding James kicked it up a notch.

    Also, @percival and @kedavis, even if you’re not a Hewitt listener, Duane Patterson’s Aftershow is worth the Hughniverse subscription price by itself. It’s like Hugh’s afternoon show used to be The Tribbles, as we like to call ourselves, gather for the live Aftershow (8pm EDT/5pm PDT) in the Hughniverse chat. OGH makes an appearance most Fridays, even during really bad weeks in MN like last week.

     

     

     

    • #16
    • June 5, 2020, at 3:04 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Painter Jean Member

    One of life’s great delights is to listen to James Lileks talk about anything. Few people have his sharpness and quickness of wit, his command of language, his descriptive abilities – and all coming out at speed, fully-formed. He is a great artist, his medium being language. 

    • #17
    • June 5, 2020, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rapporteur (View Comment):
    Duane Patterson’s Aftershow is worth the Hughniverse subscription price by itself.

    I do miss the Aftershow, but with all the content here, I wasn’t keeping up with it.

    • #18
    • June 5, 2020, at 3:28 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    One of life’s great delights is to listen to James Lileks talk about anything. Few people have his sharpness and quickness of wit, his command of language, his descriptive abilities – and all coming out at speed, fully-formed. He is a great artist, his medium being language.

    One fine night, Andrew Sullivan had committed some indignity and Hugh got him on the phone, Sullivan adopted a completely defensive posture and wouldn’t give normal answers to any query. Sullivan was paranoid, supercilious, and even more aof a goof than he usually is.

    After a segment or two, Lileks called in. I don’t know this for a fact, but he must have told Dwayne to have him ask about the weather in Minneapolis. What followed was a pitch-perfect parody of the previous interview.

    It was so funny that I almost put my car in a ditch. And I wasn’t driving at the time. I was going to have to get into my car, head out and find a ditch, and put my car into it.

    • #19
    • June 5, 2020, at 3:37 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Jim George Member

    Gazpacho Grande': Today, he’s documenting what’s happened in his town, pictures of the buildings, many of them with boards on the windows, but he’s also got these fantastic tidbits on the architecture and the background on the buildings.

    Thanks for introducing me to The Bleat! What a treat! Rhyming not intended; just happened. Look forward to looking into it more in the future. 

    Which brings up another point I’ve been meaning to bring up with this group and that is this: how in the world do so many Ricochetti find the time to write posts, write comments, listen to what seems like, from some of the comments, an endless list of podcasts (I’m doing good to keep with Andrew Klavan, my #1 pick, and a few others) and still accomplish an apparent wide variety of reading– periodicals, books, etc. If anyone has a helpful tip for me on that score, I sure would pay close attention! 

    Thanks again.

    Sincerely, Jim

    • #20
    • June 5, 2020, at 3:44 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Southern Pessimist Member

    I think it was in 2009 or 10 that I stumbled on the bleat from some other link site. I knew nothing about him. The first pieces I read rambled about taking Daughter to her piano lessons while he went to get coffee and made references to working on his novel when he could and I had this vision of the typical slacker always working on his “novel” while he wasted his life away. Boy, was I wrong. He is a treasure. Understated genius is rarely celebrated to the degree it should be.

    • #21
    • June 5, 2020, at 4:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. kedavis Member

    Rapporteur (View Comment):
    Also, @percival and @kedavis, even if you’re not a Hewitt listener, Duane Patterson’s Aftershow is worth the Hughniverse subscription price by itself. It’s like Hugh’s afternoon show used to be The Tribbles, as we like to call ourselves, gather for the live Aftershow (8pm EDT/5pm PDT) in the Hughniverse chat. OGH makes an appearance most Fridays, even during really bad weeks in MN like last week.

    For quite a while, the Aftershow was just about all I listened to from the Hewitt site. But I got pretty fed up with Duane’s attitude after a while. Even stuff like the comments section of their so-called website, which he said was his responsibility etc, but if you point out that it STILL wasn’t working, he would be like “there’s the door.” 

    Then there would be the stuff like missing segments, sometimes even missing whole shows. Because there was a computer glitch or something. For a business so dependent on technology, they seemed to have neither the people nor the proper equipment to be very reliable. Even just having proper backup power at their latest big expensive studio.

    And if you pointed out the issues, let alone complained about how they should provide a quality service if they expected people to pay for it, Duane’s response would be something like “I’m the radio expert, so shut up.”

    Duane may have been doing radio for 20 years or whatever, but I’ve been doing computers for almost 50.

    • #22
    • June 5, 2020, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    JosePluma (View Comment):
    sadly, I’ve neglected the Bleat

    It is not as easy to navigate as it should be, perhaps because it is not built on one of the standard, well tested templates. Too bad, because ease of navigation is a significant factor in frequency of visiting.

    • #23
    • June 5, 2020, at 4:37 PM PDT
    • Like
  24. Blue Yeti Admin

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    This is shameless shilling for Member Post Of The Week…

    And it just might work. 

    • #24
    • June 5, 2020, at 9:29 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  25. James Lileks Contributor

    Well, my friends, that made my night. My week! And it needed making. I’m honored and grateful for the patronage and kind words, and appreciate the visits – past and future – to lileks.com. I don’t know if it’s the largest 20th century cultural history site on the internet, what with that upstart “Library of Congress” thing, but it’s getting close.

    Again, thanks! I read all the responses to my wife, and said “see? This is why you shouldn’t be mad at me when I forget to unclog the drain that’s been stuck for two weeks. I’m a TREASURE, NATIONALLY.” 

    Didn’t work. Could I have another 20 comments? That might convince her.

    • #25
    • June 5, 2020, at 10:10 PM PDT
    • 18 likes
  26. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    This is shameless shilling for Member Post Of The Week…

     

     

    You’d be wrong. You might be shocked at how little I care about things like that. Shocked, I tells ya.

    Just thought he needed a tip of the hat. That stuff he loads every day onto his site is a ton of work.

     

    • #26
    • June 6, 2020, at 4:06 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Well, my friends, that made my night. My week! And it needed making. I’m honored and grateful for the patronage and kind words, and appreciate the visits – past and future – to lileks.com. I don’t know if it’s the largest 20th century cultural history site on the internet, what with that upstart “Library of Congress” thing, but it’s getting close.

    Again, thanks! I read all the responses to my wife, and said “see? This is why you shouldn’t be mad at me when I forget to unclog the drain that’s been stuck for two weeks. I’m a TREASURE, NATIONALLY.”

    Didn’t work. Could I have another 20 comments? That might convince her.

    If we could get just *one* Canadian to post, you’d ascend to International Treasure, instantly.

    If that doesn’t grab her attention, fold your arms and pout.

    • #27
    • June 6, 2020, at 4:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  28. Richard Fulmer Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Didn’t work. Could I have another 20 comments? That might convince her.

    Here’s one.

    • #28
    • June 6, 2020, at 7:13 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. repmodad Coolidge

    I found lileks.com after hearing James on the Ricochet podcast and immediately loved it. The trouble is that, like the Smithsonian or P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, there is so much stuff buried in the nooks and crannies of it that it’s impossible to find it all. Not only that, but by the time I found it, I was many, many years behind.

    So I used the Shortcuts app on my iPhone to create two buttons on my home screen. One takes me to the current day’s Bleat. That was easy. The second takes me to a random Bleat from the past by generating a random year, a random month, a random day, and plugging it into the URL structure James has used since around 2012.

    Now I can tap a button and instantly be transported back in time to the day when James amusingly told the story of the self-serve checkout monitor believing he put an item on the floor without first putting it on the scale (Sept 10 2015) or relates his disdain for a too-old, ungrateful trick-or-treater who grabbed a Milky Way with nary a thank you (Nov 1 2013). It’s always a delightful diversion.

    • #29
    • June 6, 2020, at 8:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Gallery of Regrettable Food is the funniest damn book ever published.

    • #30
    • June 6, 2020, at 8:48 AM PDT
    • 3 likes