Staff Directory 10645306

James Lileks

Columnist | Variety
phone: 612-673-7858
James Lileks writes a Variety column. He also blogs under Lileks@Lunch.
Recent content from James Lileks
Would urbanist Jane Jacobs have approved of Mpls. changes? New collection offers hints

Would urbanist Jane Jacobs have approved of Mpls. changes? New collection offers hints

"Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs" from the influential urbanist has lessons for us today.

You could have puce and teal Christmas lights, if you're insane

Every year when I set up the outdoor Christmas decorations, I think I'll break down and go LED, but every year I get the same…
Old real estate maps of the Twin Cities contain details of a forgotten history

Old real estate maps of the Twin Cities contain details of a forgotten history

Decades before Google Maps, plat maps displayed a wealth of information with hand-drawn care.

For a fake news year, why not a fake tree?

Artificial Christmas trees keep improving, but is that for the best?
To save $300, sure, I'll squint

To save $300, sure, I'll squint

A cheapskate focuses on buying glasses online.

New Yorkers have no idea what good pizza is; pity them

Are there any New Yorkers in the room? Can I see some hands? OK, we're going to be talking about pizza here, so you need…
Holidays and other family disasters

Holidays and other family disasters

With stores closing on Thanksgiving, we'll be forced to spend time with relatives.
Have we got a deal for you! Here's the scoop on Twin Cities pitchmen

Have we got a deal for you! Here's the scoop on Twin Cities pitchmen

Being a pitchman is a dying art, but that doesn't mean it's dead. Consider, for instance, Fancy Ray McCloney. Nothing he does could possibly be called dead.

What's a good punishment for bike thieves?

You there. With the bolt cutters. You're the worst.

Scammers and the mother-in-law: the phone company's only friends

Oh, you'd better believe I listened closely to the menu options. They may have changed. I pressed "2" for the "Change service" option. I was…

Burning leaves: The only forbidden Nixon-era smell

Why can't candle makers give us Flaming Leaves?

Of all the Halloween ad cliches, here's the worst one

Halloween ad slogans show a frightening lack of creativity. "Snacks so good they're scary!" Really? No.
Thinking of going sugar-free for Halloween? Don't!

Thinking of going sugar-free for Halloween? Don't!

Our misguided guide to the best and worst sugar-free candies.

Of course you've been hacked. Now buy some horse tranquilizers.

Somewhere in the latest WikiLeaks e-mail dump there's probably something about our family.A real bombshell: On Aug. 27, we ordered paper plates with a tennis…
It's time for Minnesota to stake its claim in the mega-Ferris wheel wars

It's time for Minnesota to stake its claim in the mega-Ferris wheel wars

With everyone else getting giant Ferris wheels, we need a Minnesota version.

Peak leaf color is over at 1:37 p.m. Floor it!

It's that time of the year when you feel as if you should drive north and look at leaves. You see the pictures of the…
With sweeping array of murals, Mpls. is a living, changing art gallery

With sweeping array of murals, Mpls. is a living, changing art gallery

With a sweeping array of murals, Minneapolis is a living, changing art gallery.
Onboard the world's largest cruise ship, living large

Onboard the world's largest cruise ship, living large

With 6,000 passengers, can the world's largest cruise ship float your boat?

Lileks: How many robots are too many?

Google (company motto: "We know what you're doing, pal") has announced a new personal assistant. It's called "Assistant." It sits on your countertop, answers questions,…
St. Paul's Pioneer Endicott complex stands the test of time

St. Paul's Pioneer Endicott complex stands the test of time

If a building's famous for its height or style, someone may tell its tale. If a building's lucky, it gets Larry Millett. The Pioneer Endicott at 4th and Roberts streets in St. Paul is lucky.
James Lileks: Have a nice, crispy, tart, crunchy Nonnetit Bastard apple

James Lileks: Have a nice, crispy, tart, crunchy Nonnetit Bastard apple

Let's stick to our favorites — or at least the ones we've heard of.
Pumpkin spice is great – and you're a bad person if you don't agree

Pumpkin spice is great – and you're a bad person if you don't agree

It’s October, and that means it’s time for jaundiced, worn-out columnists determined to wring all the joy out of life to complain about Pumpkin Spice…
Lileks: Are you ready for the Satan weed?

Lileks: Are you ready for the Satan weed?

We're being invaded by a nasty strain of super weeds.

James Lileks: Putting the cart before the kid

Target introduced tiny shopping carts for tots, then realized that everyone over 3 feet tall hated them, and the carts were removed. Good. Now let's…
Minneapolis' Loring Park offers a mini-history lesson

Minneapolis' Loring Park offers a mini-history lesson

Before the weather gets chilly, let's take a stroll around Loring Park. It's a nice amble — and it's also a history of the city written in miniature.
James Lileks: All's fair in love and grocery price wars

James Lileks: All's fair in love and grocery price wars

Competing grocery stores are out for blood (sausage).
Johnny Appleseed of north Minneapolis grows gardens, inspires kids

Johnny Appleseed of north Minneapolis grows gardens, inspires kids

Former TV news cameraman and founder of Project Sweetie Pie envisions a food corridor he calls the Nile of the North.

Lileks: Get your flu shot here, there, anywhere

Well, it's time for the annual flu shot. This year's strain, HBN6-3.14, probably started the same way as the rest, with some sick goose in…
James Lileks: No hot dog cart at hardware store? Autumn has begun

James Lileks: No hot dog cart at hardware store? Autumn has begun

A sure sign that summer's over? No hot dog cart at the hardware store.
James Lileks: Get an exclusive look at the iPhone38

James Lileks: Get an exclusive look at the iPhone38

After 40 years of splashy product demos, a new iPhone barely makes the news anymore.
James Lileks: There's no place like (this) home

James Lileks: There's no place like (this) home

Model house showcase creates an image of a world that will never be.

James Lileks: Curb alert! Free mildewed shower curtain! Act fast!

Want to meet new people? There's a magic word. It's ...Hold on, there's a back story. Last year I ordered a wood shed from FlimsyChineseExportsReseller.com,…
Streetscapes: The Minnesota State Fair is built to last

Streetscapes: The Minnesota State Fair is built to last

The unique – and enduring – buildings on the fairgrounds show a range of architectural styles.

James Lileks: The end of the State Fair, and all it symbolizes

As the State Fair ends, we're left with warm memories and grease-stained shirts.

James Lileks: An interview with a woman who's been to every State Fair since 1859

We're pleased to present an interview with Emma M. Emmerson, the state's oldest fairgoer. She is 160, spry as a cricket and walks unassisted thanks…
Lileks: Some creative new fair offerings

Lileks: Some creative new fair offerings

You can't say this is the same ol' State Fair stuff.
Every Minnesota town should have a motto, and boy there are some doozies

Every Minnesota town should have a motto, and boy there are some doozies

Mottoes aim to share civic pride, even if some fall short of a shout-out.

James Lileks: He's finally coming clean about shampoo

There are 47 bottles in the shower. Thirty-eight contain various thick, scented substances that detangle hair, add bounce and shine, impart luster, weld split ends…
Three travel questions (and three answers) about Iceland

Three travel questions (and three answers) about Iceland

Iceland is like Minnesota, on the moon, with whales and trolls. You should go.
'Stranger Things' Netflix series sells nostalgia — and gets it right

'Stranger Things' Netflix series sells nostalgia — and gets it right

"Stranger Things" Netflix series is a dead ringer for the ugliness of the early '80s.

James Lileks: When it's time for a tree to come down, do you call the pros or lose some toes?

Real men chop down their own trees. Real smart men call in experts.
James Lileks: At last, an honest school supply list

James Lileks: At last, an honest school supply list

For weeks, the giant yellow pencil has hung over the seasonal aisles of dry-goods stores, looking like a guillotine blade raised to sever summer from…
In defense of cargo shorts

In defense of cargo shorts

Let's stop the shorts-shaming and admit that these practical pants have a place the closet.
Why your passport might be useless

Why your passport might be useless

A few years ago, I made plans to fly from Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Bucharest on the day before Thanksgiving. I was going to be…

James Lileks: Jiminy! Crickets can raise a ruckus

Their annual serenade is a loud reminder that August is here — and fall is coming.

Who's got your number? A robot.

Directory assistance used to be quite simple: You dialed 411, and a complex informational retrieval and processing system responded. We called them "human beings." If…
James Lileks: Family pet is in dogged pursuit of critters (and cookies)

James Lileks: Family pet is in dogged pursuit of critters (and cookies)

True to his breeding, our dog treed a raccoon. I didn't end up a hero in that battle.

James Lileks: Burglars steal his peace of mind

Our neighborhood has suffered a spate of burglaries — I think that's the technical term. A spate. Don't want to say a rash of burglaries,…

James Lileks: The AC was out, but old tech is still cool

During the recent heat wave, an antique fan went from novelty to necessity.
Going to a family reunion? Brush up first on the survival manual

Going to a family reunion? Brush up first on the survival manual

Of all the strangest kinds of family reunions you can attend, the most unusual is the one that isn't your family. Here are some types of people you'll meet at every reunion.
The end of the VCR? WHO. CARES. But maybe you should

The end of the VCR? WHO. CARES. But maybe you should

News from Japan: The last company to make VCRs is shutting down production. If you know what a VCR is, you don't care, but if…

James Lileks: He can't wait to get home, but he'll have to

The trip through airport customs is a long, slow ending to vacation.

James Lileks: Self-serve checkout experience was no bargain

I did not steal the Steak Strips. But anyone behind me in line at the self-serve checkout would be justified in thinking I had made off with some cow slices, and in case you were there, I need to explain.
U.S. Bank Stadium looks beyond the bowl for its design

U.S. Bank Stadium looks beyond the bowl for its design

Our new stadium looks to the future, not the past, for its design cues.
James Lileks: What's a parent to do when the cola wars hit home?

James Lileks: What's a parent to do when the cola wars hit home?

The news that Pepsi was bringing back Aspartame and dumping Sucralose was met with great merriment in our house. I still remember the anguished look…

James Lileks: All laud the parade's slightly-less-than grand marshal

He had absolutely no power, but he did have lots of fun.
New Twin Cities website can locate where memories were made

New Twin Cities website can locate where memories were made

A new website lets metro-area residents locate where their personal histories were made.
Things you must do before summer's over! Or not

Things you must do before summer's over! Or not

We’re always amazed when July 4th rolls around. So soon? No one ever says, “I can’t believe it’s June 4th; where is this late-spring early-summer…
Fireworks used to have packaging that pops

Fireworks used to have packaging that pops

The old-style Chinese graphic designs on fireworks were part of our very American celebration.

James Lileks: Hundreds of channels and everything to watch

There has to be a term for this condition: the empty, vacant emotion you have when you've finished bingeing on a show on Netflix and…
Like your car? Then you'll like development happening around Southdale

Like your car? Then you'll like development happening around Southdale

Southdale is one example of evolving suburban design that accommodates cars, rather than trying to banish them.
James Lileks: Mosquito remedies can really bug us

James Lileks: Mosquito remedies can really bug us

The insects laugh in our faces – and bite our ankles – at our desperate attempts.

James Lileks: When driver's ed takes a turn for the worse

Hey Dad, Daughter said. You know how we've been driving around for 15 years having conversations and listening to music, forming a lifelong bond? It…
James Lileks: Summer drivers see lots of orange, then red

James Lileks: Summer drivers see lots of orange, then red

To save time, MnDOT could just surround the entire state with construction signs.

James Lileks: On a scale of 10, consider the virtues of being a 5. OK, a 6.

A friend noted something that happened the last time he got an oil change, and, of course, that's when I stopped listening. Dang, I needed…

James Lileks: Tiny Toast! It's Toast! And it's Tiny! Science marches on

A tiny new cereal generates big hopes for breakfast traditionalists.
Though nostalgic, slides will never be hip

Though nostalgic, slides will never be hip

My wife’s uncle said he had some old pictures of Minneapolis, taken in the early 1980s for a promotional effort. Would I like them? Oh,…
At 100 years, the Uptown is the theater that built a neighborhood

At 100 years, the Uptown is the theater that built a neighborhood

Uptown wouldn't be Uptown without the Uptown. The movie theater's tall mast broadcasts the neighborhood's name with crisp 1930s style.
James Lileks: The curse of the boulevard trees

James Lileks: The curse of the boulevard trees

Despite my minimal efforts, each new tree planted in my boulevard inevitably succumbs.
Lileks: Square doughnuts? A great debate is starting to take shape

Lileks: Square doughnuts? A great debate is starting to take shape

Looking for something small, mundane and meaningless to anger your friends? Try celebrating National Doughnut Day while humming "It's Hip to be Square."
James Lileks: Answers to some of your burning questions about grilling

James Lileks: Answers to some of your burning questions about grilling

No one ever gives tips to people who have no idea what they're doing. Allow us to help. Herewith some common questions and concerns.
Walker Art Center's mini-golf reaches new heights

Walker Art Center's mini-golf reaches new heights

Mini-golf at an art museum? Why, it's enough to make you drop your monocle into your tea.
Lileks: Joggers and extendible dog leashes are not a good combo

Lileks: Joggers and extendible dog leashes are not a good combo

Did you know there's a debate about extendible dog leashes and the walking paths around the lakes? No? Probably because there isn't one, but that won't stop me from pretending there is.

James Lileks: The past was just a phone call away

This will earn me scorn among the technologically adept, but it must be said: I picked up the phone and called the airline with a…
Why are there such slim pickings for outdoor eating in Mpls. and St. Paul?

Why are there such slim pickings for outdoor eating in Mpls. and St. Paul?

Downtown workers won't get their fill when looking for a place to lunch in the sun.
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