Staff Directory 6134704

James Lileks

Columnist | Variety
Phone: 612-673-7858

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
If you get a letter with this symbol on it, the sender wants you to help them rule the world. Or maybe they just want your money.

Help wanted: Rule the world

These are hard times for secret societies, it seems.
white cotton t-shirt on wooden background

Lessons from the semiannual closet purge

No one is sentimental about socks.
Two osprey tended their nest atop a platform placed on a utility pole near the Edina water tower at Gleason Rd. and Hy 62. The bird on the left appear

Lileks: My gazebo may have squatters

Red-breasted North American Squatters, at that.
Workers remove Sargassum seaweed at a beach in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, Mexico on May 2, 2021. Sargassum—a brown seaweed that lives in

Lileks: How to write a one-star review

Some people are never satisfied, so why not be one of them?
A grocery store customer using selfcheckout.

Lileks: What's the cost of self-checkout?

We no longer can make inane chit-chat with cashiers.
Minnesotans' success with the lottery is one of the reasons we've been declared the second luckiest state.

Lucky for us, fortune smiles on Minnesota

Survey says that this is the second luckiest state.
Is your iPhone judging you? Of course it is.

Don't fret text losers, help is on the way

Is the color of your messages an insult?
A man runs a snowblowers to clear his driveway during an early spring snowstorm in Lakeville.

Lileks: True Minnesotans appreciate the benefit of miserable work

Storm brought us snow, ice and — most important — a chance to build character.
An upward look at Ramp C in Minneapolis.

Parking ramps are ugly — but we need more of them in downtown Minneapolis

What if any new ramp could be designed to enhance the city, not just store cars?
Eva Biswas' account of sexual harassment by her manager at Target is both detailed and upsetting.

Lileks: Is the undie swap dirty dealing?

Store will trade old underwear for a new pair.
James Lileks' dog, Birch, is out his second breakfast and after-work treats now that his owners are home all the time.

A dog takes a walk down memory lane

It's the people — and, yes, the snacks — that they remember.
Do you believe the preidctions that a snow storm is on the way?

Lileks: Do you believe the big bad snow predictions?

At some point we began to lose confidence in predictions. Cast your vote!
FILE - In this Wednesday, May 22, 2013 file photo, a woman looks a mural of photos in the exhibit "Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President an

Lileks: Are you a bad boomer? Take this quiz

"Worst Generation Ever" say ungrateful youths.
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2014 file photo, cars line up for a car wash at the Washery System Touchless Automatic Car Wash on Terry Reiley Way in Pottsvi

Expiration dates have outlived their usefulness

So it's expired. So what?

Can we have spring without winter?

For Jupiter's sake, of course we can.

He's not tuned in to streaming TV

You can't even find the show you don't get.
Mmm, bacon.

Lileks: Overcharged for bacon? Soowee! Or is it sue?

If you've got the class, we've got the action.
The Nelson Cheese Factory in Nelson, Wis. — across the river from Wabasha, Minn. — is the place to stop for an inexpensive ice cream con

Ice cream is so much more than just a dessert

It's part of our youthful memories and our adult indulgences.
FILE - A replica of Ray Kroc's first McDonald's franchise, which opened on April 15, 1955, was a museum in Des Plaines, Ill.

Minnesota's fast-food chains once boasted garishly fun designs

But you knew what they were at a glance. Now the buildings are nothing short of bleak.
This Tuesday Nov. 24, 2020 photo shows a bottle of Cholula Hot Sauce. Spice maker McCormick & Co. is buying the parent of Cholula Hot Sauce from priva

Minnesotans have moved past ketchup onto bona fide hot sauce. So what's our fave?

And what's with South Dakota's love for Heinz?

Is it odd to mourn a microwave?

It's almost a member of the family.
U.S. singer Alicia Keys performs in Oslo, Norway, Tuesday, March 11, 2008.

Lileks: Does the truth matter anymore?

When we shrug at rewriting what we know
Are you a toothpaste crimper or squeezer?

What have they done to our toothpaste tubes?

Crimpers lament, but squeezers rejoice.
If your idea of chocolate is a stale candy bar, you could be in big trouble on Valentine's Day.

Lileks: What men don't get about chocolate

A necessary Valentine's Day lesson

Lileks: Turn off your Christmas lights, people

Unless you can convince your neighbors that they're for a different holiday.

Updating your phone can ruin your life

Nothing works correctly after that.

The Minnesota method: hot dish-based protests

French protesters threw soup; we'd go with a Tater Tot casserole.
Reese Witherspoon arrives at the 24th annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards at the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Los A

Lileks: Is it gross to eat snow?

Reese Witherspoon sets off an internet uproar.

Lileks: When State Fair memorials get benched

How do we honor Uncle Bob now?
It was too much Howard Stern that finally drove our columnist from SiriusXM.

Lileks: Why is it hard to dump streaming subscriptions?

Many Boomers grew up perfecting their bubble gum skills.

Gum and its lessons of life for boomers

Lileks: Tired of kids who don't text back?

Lileks: Tired of kids who don't text back?

"Every Boomer probably got a missive in that script, and if we think back, the letters were perfect."

Is it a snack or a deodorant — or both?

Pedestrians crossed the street and skyways along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis on Dec. 13.

Once celebrated, the skyways of Minneapolis are now being blamed for downtown's empty streets

Since the early 1960s, the elevated connections between buildings have been a hallmark of the core of both downtowns.
A year ago, cross-country skiers reveled in the fresh snow at Theodore Wirth Park.

Lileks: Do true Minnesotans crave snow?

Lileks: Is it best to ignore 'best by' labels?

Viewers will have to pay $2.99 a month to stream Amazon Prime ad-free.

Lileks: Prime's ad-free service won't be free

Streaming is now officially worse than broadcast.
As another year fades away, we look back and reflect on our experiences.

Lileks: How was your visit to 2023?

Satisfied? Extremely satisfied?
A Santa hat.

Lileks: Santa just one of the Christmas myths

The holidays abound with odd stories.
There is nothing like the tried-and-true Christmas songs that come year after year no matter what.

Lileks: Do good Christmas songs choke you up a bit?

That's life: We muddle through somehow.

Lileks: A new name for that old winter thing we hate

What to call the intermediary step between sleet and snow.

Lileks: New phone comes with old frustrations

Airfare fees becoming extra baggage

Booking flights these days involves getting nickled, dimed, quartered and half-dollared to death.
This is the vibrant heart of a great city? It’s an anti-human bunker.

Four ways to save Minneapolis: Demolish City Center — or most of it

The 1980s blank wall of a building fails to offer what a vital city center needs: connection.

Lileks: Ranking the downtown trees

Lileks: Let there be light (if you have the password)

Lileks: Let there be light (if you have the password)

Mildred Mullowney, 3132 Columbus_Avenue, is the first customer to make a deposit at Northwestern National Bank after its removal to the new building.

A ferocious fire in 1982 destroyed a Minneapolis bank but left a Charles Lindbergh plane unscathed

The Northwestern National Bank Building, full of tall columns and grand marble, was completely lost.
James Lileks’ dog is named Birch, a reflection of his color.

Lileks: What your dog's name says about you

"Huntington" is not one of them.
Lileks: The Christmas catalog season is a gift all its own

Lileks: The Christmas catalog season is a gift all its own

The mail brings a sheaf of catalogs every day, and they all fall into one of several categories.
Be careful how you use — or don’t use —  punctuation in texts.

In praise of proper punctuation

Want to comment on your shopping experience? These days, you can submit a video.

Lileks: Ratings aren't enough — now stores want your video praise

Resetting our clocks twice a year has become a ritual that isn’t likely to change.

Lileks: It's too late to argue about daylight savings time

We will revisit this in the spring, have the same conversation, and change nothing.
If Beer World is half as enchanting as the ads make it seem, who wouldn’t want to visit?

Lileks: A toast to the enchanted land of Beer World

One difference between men and women: the number of pillows on a bed.

Lileks: Pillow-piling and other tactics in the battle of the sexes

The very name of the sham pillowcase tells you it's a lie.
Margaret Hamilton and Peg Lynch, from the “Ethel and Albert” TV show.

Lileks: What if the most evil being in the land of Oz was your aunt?

Growing up with the Wicked Witch of the West.
The briefcase, once a symbol of corporate clout, has fallen on tough times.

Lileks: The once prestigious briefcase has lost out to backpacks

They're more practical, but lack structure and purpose.
When you have to put up photos and awnings to make the building look human, something’s wrong with the original design.

One of the ugliest buildings in downtown Minneapolis will likely be demolished. Should we care?

The YWCA sticks out like a sore thumb. But it is an example of a certain style of architecture.
Too bad we can’t negotiate for everything the way we can for cable TV.

Lileks: Need to cut costs? It might be easier than you think

What if just asking works everywhere, and we don't know it because we never think to try?
Lileks: It's time for a new Halloween candy

Lileks: It's time for a new Halloween candy

We have become complacent and stagnant, and a national initiative to regain our confectionary edge is needed, stat.
The latest trend in decorating with pumpkins: stacking them. Connie Nelson, Star Tribune

Lileks: Stacking is the new pumpkin paradigm

Arranging them in a row is passé.
Sir Michael Palin. London, 2023. Credit: James Lileks

From Monty Python to WWI: Michael Palin's new book resurrects his long-lost great uncle

The prolific actor, comedian, writer and producer has created the silly and the sublime.
A list of “iconic” Minnesota locations could include all the places that Mary Tyler Moore never actually lived, worked or visited.

Lileks: Our pop-culture landmark status is far from famous

We just need more history.
Does your dog understand you better than your partner does?

Lileks: Does your dog understand you better than your partner?

The relationship between dogs and humans is not about ice cream and TV.

Lileks: Our coffee may be weak, but ... OK, there is no but

Worse than New Jersey?
Northrup, September 2023

The University of Minnesota's Northrop Mall is grand — but it could've been glorious

Cass Gilbert's original plans called for a European-style plaza leading to an open-air theater, a botanical garden and a small harbor.
We mocked so-called elevator music in the 1970s, but now that it’s gone, we miss it.

Lileks: It's time to bring back 'elevator music'

Perhaps we'd be a less jangly society if vapid mood music was the norm.
Salesman Ron Falato demonstrated a paring knife at the State Fair.

The fair is over but the stuff we bought lives on

May 27, 1967 New Miss downtown Minneapolis Sandra Lee Larson on Nicollet Mall. The Young men who have passed up a dance with sandra Lee Larson because

Who were the Miss Downtown Minneapolis winners and what did they do?

For years, young women were selected to serve as civic champions, winning mink coats and accolades in the process.
A small portable iron.

Lileks: The boomer skills have outlived their usefulness

Lileks: Has your phone's speech-to-text sap cotton wurst?

Lileks: Has your phone's speech-to-text sap cotton wurst?

I know the technology is amazing, and we take it for granted — but I'm convinced it's broken, and I'm not alone.
Instead of new foods, the State Fair needs more welcoming entrances

Instead of new foods, the State Fair needs more welcoming entrances

How about a giant gopher? We know just where it should go.
The State Fair is crowded with strange people wearing stranger T-shirts and eating even stranger foods, but many people consider that part of its allu

Lileks: Don't love the Minnesota State Fair? You're not alone.

Here are six reasons you may not want to go.
Ron Kelsey, owner of the world’s largest seed bag collection

Lileks: Minnesota State Fair history? It's in the bag

75 years of rural design.
The lure of getting back on stage overcame the anxiety of auditioning.

Lileks: A star is born ... well, not even close, actually

We're all acting, a little. Our early years are full of auditions.
Mill City Church, at 685 13th Av. NE. in Minneapolis. In the background to the right is Christ Family Kingdom Center.

A Minneapolis block may hold a world record for churches

The four houses of worship in Northeast have long histories.