As St. Paul wonders what to do with its old Dayton’s building - sorry, the iconic Daytons building - Minneapolis zoning solons are grappling with the Neiman Marcus site. The new tenant doesn’t want retail. The city wants retail. Says the new tenant, according to Business Journal:

The only potential retail tenant that has expressed interest in a larger retail space at the Neiman site in the past year is a restaurant that would require five years of free rent and substantial renovations, Galatz said. Other likely retailers interested in the property could be CVS or Walgreens, which he argued, "do not create the urban retail environment the city seeks to create on Nicollet Mall."

At first one thinks: CVS would be a step down from Neiman Marcus. On the other hand, Neiman Marcus didn’t make enough money to keep the store open. There aren’t many CVS-type stores in the area. People who live downtown might not object. It’s not high-end speciality destination shopping, no. But it would be better than office space. And better than nothing.

The article cites the city's brief against the variance, which says there’s been retail on the block since 1890. A bit earlier, perhaps; the site was occupied by the Syndicate Building, construction of which began in 1885. The building survived, more or less, until they knocked it down for the Gaviidae Expansion.

This was the final incarnation: the metal-shrouded Penney’s facade, which had a pinkish hue, if I recall correctly.

SANITY IN THE SKIES All those electronics which are really, really dangerous to planes during take-off and landing? Nevermind:

This week, an F.A.A. advisory panel will meet to complete its recommendations to relax most of the restrictions. The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, according to several of the panel’s members who requested anonymity because they could not comment on the recommendations. The ban on sending and receiving e-mails and text messages or using Wi-Fi during takeoff or landing is expected to remain in place, as is the prohibition on making phone calls throughout the flight, the panel members said.

Great! No phone calls but iPods permitted. The NYT article notes:

The panel will recommend its new policy to the F.A.A. by the end of the month and it will most likely go into effect next year.

Why so long? Because it’ll take months to untrain the flight attendants who’ve acted like you’re putting 300 people at risk by looking at a Kindle? Let’s go to the comments:

The real problem here is that people are unable or unwilling to turn off their devices for a mere twenty minutes. Once the plane is airborne, they can turn them back on. This is not a hardship, and refusal to do it constitutes a simple lack of consideration that is endemic in our society. I have no sympathy for such behavior.

Here’s a stool so you can get off your high horse without falling on your face. It’s a matter of having something to read and something to listen to. I bring magazines on the plane just to have something to read while taking off. No other reason. So is that so bad? Why not read SkyMall? I have no sympathy with people who can’t read SkyMall for 20 minutes. Right. I also would like to listen to music during take-off, and I don’t believe it would make me unaware of any safety-related situations that might arise. The sudden lack of altitude would probably get my attention.

CRIME Another one of those “Jack the Ripper case finally solved” stories. This one has a twist: there was no such thing as Jack the Ripper.

I liked this quote from the author of the new theory:

Around 80 per cent of the books about him have a picture of a chap on the front stalking the streets of London in a long black cape and a top hat.
“They were the clothes of an upper class, wealthy man. But back in 1888  if someone dressed like that had actually walked around Whitechapel in the dead of night they wouldn’t have lasted five minutes.

“It wasn’t just one of the most crime-riddled areas of London, it was one of the worst areas in the country. It’s a false image that has been created by the likes of Hollywood film makers.”

Yes: imagine someone in a white dinner jacket with tails swanning around Hell’s Kitchen in 1915. I don’t think any of the local toughs would shrink away, saying “such aristocratic dress in these parts surely means he is a fearsome killer whose horrible crimes are characterized by a surgical skill that speaks of considerable intelligence.” That said, the article notes that some of the crimes were done by a German seaman, who probably did more here and there. So, Johann the Ripper. But Jack? Made up by a newspaperman.

That’s the theory du jour, anyway.

THE WORST DECADE EVER This is either proof of how the concept of “cool” is different for every generation, or a very short documentary about the decline of popular music:

Reminded me of something a friend said: you can't really understand 70s culture by listening to an oldies channel. You have to hear Casey Kasem count 'em down, because he played a song that made the charts for a week or two then faded out for good. The bad stuff - and that’s saying something when the subject is the 70s.

Likewise for TV: oh, a golden age! All in the Family, Mary Tyler Moore! Right. Well, consider the following compilation of short-lived sitcoms themes. I swear: growing up, everything was like this.

That's Ted Knight up there. One of the last ones looks like something from a parallel universe, where Fred Sanford never existed, and some strange Not-Redd ran a hotel instead of a junkyard. Wikipedia explains:

The attempt to continue a popular series without its two main stars turned out to be a failure. The ratings were dismal and the show was cancelled after four episodes. When Redd Foxx returned to television as Fred Sanford in the 1980–1981 spinoff Sanford, the events of Sanford Arms were completely ignored.

In case you were wondering whether Sanford Arms was canon or not.

PAGING DR. JONES Poor Etruscans. The Romans get all the press. Perhaps this will help to rekindle interest

The skeletonized body of an Etruscan prince, possibly a relative to Tarquinius Priscus, the legendary fifth king of Rome from 616 to 579 B.C., has been brought to light in an extraordinary finding that promises to reveal new insights on one of the ancient world’s most fascinating cultures.

“Fascinating” because we know so little. More here at

That's it for today. First Monday of fall looks rather nice so far. As much of this as possible, please; we deserve it.