This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Goodbye Coquette

Posted by: James Lileks under Minnesota History, Praise Updated: May 19, 2014 - 12:21 PM

This is no small change, if you’re a Target shopper:

You may not care, but at least they hope you noticed. The old Archer Farms logo is gone, replaced by something that doesn’t have the same compact, if wordy, logo. Now it’s instructional. The panes on the bottom tell you how to construct a well-balanced meal, I presume.

Pasta is starch? Who knew!

Here’s the old logo that will, I presume, fade away as stock moves through the channels.

(The "Satisfaction Guaranteed" font is Coquette, by local fontographer Mark Simonson.)

MUSIC And she’s borrowing a stairway to heaven: allegations resurface that Jimmy Page’s opening to “Stairway” was, shall we say, inspired by “Taurus,” a song by Spirit. Business Week:

 . . . what if those opening notes weren’t actually written by Jimmy Page or any member of Led Zeppelin? What if the foundation of the band’s immortality had been lifted from another song by a relatively forgotten California band?

You’d need to rewrite the history of rock ’n’ roll.

 In 1968 a Los Angeles area band called Spirit put out its first album, the self-titled Spirit. Among the songs was an instrumental piece, Taurus, written by the band’s guitarist, Randy California. (Born Randy Wolfe, California got his stage name while playing with Jimi Hendrix’s band in New York in 1966. Hendrix took to calling him Randy California to distinguish him from another Randy in the band. California, only 15 at the time, chose to make it stick.) Taurus runs just 2 minutes and 37 seconds. About a minute of it is a plucked guitar line that sounds a lot like the opening measures of Stairway to Heaven.

Yes, indeed. Zep opened for Spirit on their first US tour, and that’s where the surviving band members suggest they heard the riff. The stakes aren’t small; the song has generated over a half a billion in revenue. Listen here, and make up your own mind.

HEY YOU Today’s bossy, know-it-all headline is from Gawker’s “The Vane” site:

I'm surprised the site doesn't say it's so Vane, You Probably Think This Site is About You. It’s about humidity and relative humidity, but you wouldn’t read that if you weren’t told someone is lying to you, intentionally, and that here’s one weird life-hack trick to figure it out. 

Also, WE are responsible for mass murder.

It’s an interesting piece, nevertheless - an interview with an observer of the trial of a Pol Pot prison warden. Relevant graf:

At the genocide museum in Phnom Penh, Duch’s victims are presented as victims, which they certainly were. But eighty per cent of them were themselves Khmer Rouge, and if they instead had been asked to be perpetrators the overwhelming majority would have obeyed. To accept that Duch tells us something about ourselves doesn’t mean we accept his crimes, and it doesn’t mean we risk showing him sympathy. It makes us think in more realistic terms about how mass murder operates and how it relies on people like us.

On ordinary people, in other words, doing horrible things for different reasons. This isn’t news. But the idea that 80% of the dead were Khmer Rouge was news to me.

Anyway, back to the original point: why must everything have to be about YOU to make it interesting?

LITERALLY Disappearing, that’s what the 90s are doing. Literally. You could make the point that they have already disappeared, literally, but what the guy’s talking about are the cultural artifacts in old formats. Salon:

My struggle is partially an artifact of the creakiness of my generation. My kids will never wrestle with this transition. They won’t knock their heads against my nerdy paradox: Even as I hang on to the Neil Young triple-album anthology “Decade” that I purchased as a 13-year-old, and pay 70-year-old men to keep my record player humming, I am letting go of the notion that music is something that should even be owned.

It’s another piece about giving up records and saying goodbye to CDs, which are not eternal. The article’s illustration is a TV with a fuzzy picture of the “Saved by the Bell” cast, which makes you think it’s about VHS. It’s not. The article notes a resurgence in vinyl, which is due to nostalgia and interest in all things “vintage,” not a generational shift to the sound of vinyl. VHS is different; it’s in a dire state. The number of tapes in boxes in basements probably numbers in the tens of millions, if not more; few people have the desire or time to transfer them to digital formats, to say nothing of the means. There might be a market for the old shows, but will people accept the low-res versions when they’re used to HD, or will future generations wonder why everything was filmed through a haze of Vaseline and hair spray?

Unless, of course, they were Super-VHS tapes. Those things were razor-sharp.

VotD If you could see this coming from the first seconds of the video, why couldn’t the driver?

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