Staff Directory 10645306

James Lileks

Columnist | Variety
Phone: 612-673-7858
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

James Lileks is a Star Tribune columnist. 

Lileks, a Minneapolis resident since 1976: "I've never repeated myself once. I don't like to say I write a 'humor' column, since that's subjective. What might be amusing to me might leave you poker-faced. Let's just say my columns are not intended to be taken seriously." He also writes "Streetscape" pieces, which detail the delights and errors, past and present, of the Twin Cities urban environment. He's the author of four novels, four pop-culture "humor" books on vintage subjects and two collections of columns. "People who like my stuff will probably like, and those who don't are probably grateful for the heads-up, and will avoid it," Lileks says.
Recent content from James Lileks
The Wesley Temple building.

The story behind a downtown Minneapolis building that never reached its potential

The Wesley Temple building (West Grant Street, between S. 1st and 2nd avenues), built by the adjacent church with the same name, was finished in 1928…

LIleks: Blame not bars, but loud ones

  I’m not an epidemiologist, unlike everyone else on the internet who reads a brief description of a scholarly article whose title reaffirmed what they…
One string of lights leads to another.

Lileks: There are never enough Christmas lights

We're battling decoration inflation.
Birch, after the latest skirmish in the war between digs and raccoons.

Ever seen your dog mix it up with a raccoon? I did, and it isn't pretty

We may think of dogs and cats as enemies. But wait until you witness a dog-raccoon duke-out.

Lileks: Ready for lean-back French-style TV?

It’s fun to consider phrases or conversations that would’ve made no sense last year. For example: “The governor is supposed to speak this afternoon. Do…
Mashed potatoes — full of Cheddar, Parmesan and sour cream.

Lileks: Another annoying click bait Minnesota fact

For these spuds, we give our thanks.
Online archives let you explore America's attic – from comedy and radio to newspapers of yore

Online archives let you explore America's attic – from comedy and radio to newspapers of yore

Need to kill some time? Consider getting lost in these illustrative archives.

Lileks: Finally surrendering to the infomercial

“Let’s go shopping!” someone says. One type of person says “yes!” The other asks a sensible question: “For what?” “I don’t know. That’s not the…
The marquee of the Landmark Uptown Theatre in Minneapolis reflects the state of business in Uptown.

Lileks: Uptown Minneapolis is Schrodinger's neighborhood

Is Uptown dead? Yes, of course. It’s always dead. Everyone who moves to Uptown is informed by a grizzled veteran who’s lived there since 2018…

Lileks: When your fridge says no

I’m afraid I have to issue a correction, because I lied. It goes like this: “In a recent column, the short guy who ceased to…
Brock Kaplan illustration • Star Tribune

Lileks: Ho ho, hey hey, Daylight Saving Time has got to stay

Who has the time to do something about the time?

Lileks: What killed Tab? COVID, of course

You might have heard that Tab’s been discontinued. Possible reactions: “What is Tab?” It’s a soft drink — or pop, as we say up here…
The 1991 Halloween Blizzard: Why we all roll up the sidewalks around here in October. A Minneapolis resident shoveled his walk on Nov. 1, 1991.

Lileks: We'll never shut up about the Halloween blizzard

At least it kept the riffraff out.

Lileks: Calling a different kind of lid

I'm about to discuss something about which I know absolutely nothing but nevertheless have opinions. That seems to be all the rage these days.A few…
A maintenance worker dusted in a deserted skyway over 3rd Av. S.

Lileks: Oh, sure, we'd miss the IDS, at first

A new vision for the city: Less is less.
Choosing security camera may cause insecurity.

Lileks: Doing battle with home insecurity systems

We had a prowler last week. According to my neighborhood watch groups and security apps, it was only a matter of time. If you look…

Lileks: A sign of the times – scoffing at red lights

The unsettled air of 2020 has turned us into a society of miscreants.

Lileks: After cutting the cord, the cookies go missing

As a public service, I have been detailing my attempt to "cut the cord" and get the idiot-box bill below the weekly grocery bill for…
I Voted stickers are sent along with absentee ballots.

Lileks: How to vote with absolute safety?

Vote in person? It's perfectly safe.
Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health has already put the kibosh on Halloween traditions such as haunted houses and parties and recommend

Lileks: Rudolph can't save you now

We can all agree that packing people into small rooms and scaring them so they scream and emit fine mists of personal fluids is probably…
Baker Project 12 4.

Archives of an architecture firm reveal a Minneapolis that was never built

Ed Baker's drawings and models of past projects give us a glimpse of what might have been.
Pileated woodpeckers add to the fall color show Up North.

Lileks: Already late for peak leaf viewing?

Too late for peak leaves? They'll come to us.

Lileks: I come not to praise vinyl but to scratch it

News story: Sales of vinyl records have overtaken CDs. You think: They’ve sold 11 records this year, and only 10 CDs? No. About $232 million…
A trip down transit memory lane includes red MTC buses.

Lileks: So much depends upon a red bus

Driving down Nostalgia Lane in a crimson chariot.
The University of Minnesota’s campus before the mall was built -- pre-1904.

What happened to Old Main, the former heart of the University of Minnesota campus?

It’s a rare part of the city that’s been untouched by time, but this place is still around: the University of Minnesota’s campus before the…

LILEKS: Oh, right, that other virus

Saw a sign the other day that made me think: Ohhhh, right. That thing. Are you kidding me? Of all years, are you kidding me?It…
There’s an app to tell you more than you really wanted to know.

Lileks: Crime-fighting apps deliver on paranoia, but little else

There are plenty of apps that keep you apprised of crime. But they may offer more information than you bargained for.
Feeling fumble fingered at the keyboard? There’s a word for that.

Word of the week: Unkeyboardinated

If you can't type it, you are it.
Flavors of the Food Building

Flavors of the Food Building

When the Fair's epicenter for food is packed with people, you never notice this funny feature.

Lileks: It isn't always nice work even if you can get it

A Labor Day axiom: “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Says the man who loves to spend his…
James Lileks explains why the 4-H building is so tall

James Lileks explains why the 4-H building is so tall

A peek behind the scenes, including the barracks.
Fairgoers on the swings at the “Kidway” at the Minnesota State Fair in 2019.

Lileks: Now we have an excuse not to do what we usually don't do

All the things we can do next year.
Fair Minute: Reminiscing about what happens at the Grandstand

Fair Minute: Reminiscing about what happens at the Grandstand

Counting columns and reminiscing about what happens at the Grandstand.
What happens on the Midway...

What happens on the Midway...

Its skeevy past included rigged games and whoopie shows.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many home renovations and repairs will seem superfluous. Maintaining your roof is not one of them.

Lileks: Stop calling me about my roof

The other day my phone rang, which is never good news. What brute calls people? And talks? We all text now, and soon that will…
RBC and 240 Hennepin.

While workers were away: Six new buildings on the Minneapolis skyline

The pandemic hasn't stopped construction in downtown Minneapolis, where the skyline continues to change.
Take a peek at State Fair landmarks you know and (maybe) love

Take a peek at State Fair landmarks you know and (maybe) love

Seed art, beer and winning crops show up here in a normal year, but this year isn't normal.
It’s the time of year when summer slowly segues into fall.

Lileks: When does summer really end?

Quibbling over important things.

Lileks: Can you handle a bag shortage?

We have been taunted in our neighborhood for a month by a passive-aggressive ice cream truck. If that’s what it is. We haven’t seen it.…
Fairgoers took a ride on the Sky Glider.

Lileks: No fair! But what about next year?

Of course we'll miss it. Are memories enough this year?

Lileks: Ground bees are our latest infestation

With no joy I bring you news of the lawn-eating beetles, which will add their distinctive unpleasantness to the chunky goulash of calamity we call…
The seasonal aisles may not be as picked over as some years.

Lileks: The seasonal aisle tells the future

Back-to-school supplies aren't flying off the shelves. But will Halloween skeletons be wearing COVID masks?
What’s in your mailbox?

Lileks: Please, more junk mail

It's always a shock when you get that AARP card in the mail. What? I'm not old. Although the actual sound of surprise and indignation…
West Virginia University researchers were part of a team that discovered how Massospora, a parasitic fungus, manipulates male cicadas into flicking th

Lileks: Murder hornets are so passe now that we have zombie cicadas

Something else not to be alarmed about.
Fergus Falls is a small town in northern Minnesota with a quaint and walkable downtown area.

What's the future of Minnesota's small-town downtowns? Hint: It's not Mayberry

Minnesota's small-town downtowns have a future, but it won't look like past.
The Boundary Waters could be a good place to set a Minnesota scream project.

Lileks: Let's vent to the wilderness, Minnesota-style

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Iceland.
Does your face mask say I want this to be over?

Lileks: Letting your mask speak for you

Spare me the mask culture.

Lileks: Is this the end of the men's suit?

  Brooks Brothers, venerable men’s clothiers, has declared bankruptcy. Let us blame changing societal standards. I do not know if that is really the reason,…
COVID may have killed cash transactions.

Lileks: Plastic on the barrelhead, pal

How COVID killed the double-sawbuck.
At peak pandemic panic, shoppers found empty shelves for high demand products, such as toilet paper, bottled water and hand sanitizer.

Lileks: What does hand sanitizer cost? Who knows

At some point while restocking the home supplies, I realized I was preparing for the next pandemic. When flour was in short supply, I bought…
When the sunglasses vanished, things looked bleak.

Lileks: How will we cope with the looming stick shortage?

It was time for the celebrated Minnesota tool.
Minnesota law limits the bang you get for your buck.

Lileks: Why are fireworks in Minnesota so wimpy?

They're harmless fun, if you follow the law — which prohibits anything that goes up or explodes.
Fireworks went off over Target Field in July 2019.

Lileks: Already looking forward to next year's fireworks

I'll miss the oohing and ahhing, but not the traditional race to the car after the show.
Image from vintage postcard Calhoun Bath House.

Did you know? There was once a bathhouse on the shores of Bde Maka Ska

The original bathhouse had one interesting characteristic: no roof.
Some of the best Father’s Day gifts come from the heart.

Lileks: Remembering the useless screwdriver on Father's Day

Skip the wallet. Think of something for the wallet.
You can't negotiate with ants.

Lileks: You can't negotiate with ants

  I am absolutely serious: if you guys can figure out a way to go after mosquitoes, you can have all the patio sand you…
Virginia "Ginny" Anderson

Virginia Mae 'Ginny' Anderson, a longtime bank teller and editorial librarian, dies of COVID-19 at 91

For almost 40 years with the Second Northwestern Bank of Minneapolis on University Avenue, Virginia Mae “Ginny” Anderson was the smiling face at the teller’s…
Dining at a restaurant has been a welcome change from three months of takeout and cooking at home. Diners at Afro Deli in St. Paul took advantage of t

Lileks: Scenes from a post-lockdown meal

To some, the phrase “going out to eat” is akin to a World War I soldier announcing he’s going to stick his head over the…
Bangkok, Thailand - Feb 12, 2020. Cat snack many products in pet shop

A Minneapolis pet food shelf is there when times get rough

Pet food shelves allow owners to stock up on food and supplies they might not be able to afford.
Young woman using cellphone to send text message.

Word of the week: Typerventilated

Take a deep breath before you send that next text.

Lileks: What we'll lose if we lose movie theaters

The AMC movie chain says it might not survive these Unprecedented Times. I have lots of memories of the Southdale AMC complex. Dropping Daughter off…
Shopping cart in supermarket. Caucasian or latin man hands hold shopping trolley in supermarket aisle.

Lileks: We're getting used to getting used to things

Good thing we're an adaptable species.
Using the snake felt like poking spaghetti through a keyhole. Milwaukee Tool

Lileks: How not to unstop a stopped drain

Q: Can someone shove a tennis ball down a shower drain? A: Apparently so. Let me back up. One of the more popular boasts on…
A maintenance worker dusted in a skyway over 3rd Ave. S. in downtown Minneapolis.

Minneapolis' skyways are getting little use now, but they'll eventually be popular again

While they're getting little use now, these essential downtown connectors will eventually come back to life.
Google's reach is broad, and now the internet giant wants to get into the financial services industry by offering consumers checking accounts.

Lileks: Google has a list of words each state can't spell. It's wierd (stet)

You'd think we'd know that word by now.
Now you can control your sprinkler from your phone. Or can you?

Lileks: What was the matter with ordinary sprinklers? No app

The spring rains have been nice, but you know that eventually we'll see a fortnight of hot sun that will turn the lawn to straw.…
Southdale Center, Edina, MN ] GLEN STUBBE • Friday, October 26, 2018

Lileks: An archaeological expedition to the mall

Not a lot to do on Day One.

Lileks: What's open? The tie department

The lockdown has been modified, and no doubt you have questions. I don’t know why you’re ignoring sections of the newspaper with actual facts in…
A sign at a Kroger store in Atlanta limits shoppers to three packages of ground beef on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. Kroger is limiting meat purchases, like

Lileks: We're too cowed by COVID to beef about the meat shortage

Let's try an experiment to see how we really feel.
My dog swallowed a bunny and I ended up learning a lesson in gratitude

My dog swallowed a bunny and I ended up learning a lesson in gratitude

My rabbit-devouring dog ended up at the vet and I learned a lesson about being thankful.
A trip to Walberswick, England, a village on the Suffolk Coast just a few hours from London, leads to simple pleasures, such as a walk on a dirt path.

Daydreaming of the next trip: An English village in Suffolk waits, unchanged

Walberswick, Suffolk, England: It’s a tiny village on the coast that checks off every requisite of the classic English hamlet — minus the murders solved…
Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologist Chris Looney displays a dead Asian giant hornet, a sample brought in from Japan for research.

Lileks: We are already SO over the murder hornets

If you just woke up from a yearlong coma and turned promptly to this column, let me sum things up as gently as I can.A…
Cloth bags have gone from expected to rejected during the pandemic.

Lileks: Without my reusable bag, no one knows what I believe

An unforeseen consequence of our times.
Pain-point case in point? Trying to use a cloth bag at self checkout stations.

Word of the week: Pain-point

Don't get sore at the word of the week

Lileks: We can't mask how tired we are of this

The looser the straps, the itchier your nose. That wouldn’t be a problem if we hadn’t eaten so much lockdown bread. I should explain, and…