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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 lileks.com, and those who don't are probably grateful for the heads-up, and will avoid it," Lileks says.
Recent content from James Lileks
TOM WALLACE � twallace@startribune.com Assign#20011445A Slug: ���night022610 Date: Feb 18, 2010 It's party time every "Third Thursday" at the

Lileks: Best Father's Day gift? Listening.

He doesn't need a goofy apron or funny socks. Especially funny socks. Let him tell you something embarrassing,
Students from Kenwood Elementary School in Minneapolis worked with a plow that scores the surface of the ice during an ice harvest history day at Hyla

Lileks: The cold truth about a stubborn ice maker

Does it seem as if nothing lasts like it used to?
Funny portrait of a dog Siberian Husky on a white background

Lileks: Minneapolis dogs aren't the mailman's best friend

The Postal Service has released a study on dog bites, and we don't come off very well.
iStockphoto.com, The constellation "Boötes" star

Lileks: The stars are aligning on Tuesday. What does it mean?

Either the universe is ending as the Mayans foretold, or nothing will happen at all. Doesn't mean it's not going to be interesting.
What happens when our beloved childhood treats no longer are availalbe?

Lileks: Do you even want to live in a world without Push-Ups?

Pondering the scarcity of the popular ice cream treat.
Thank you, May Showers

Lileks: Right here, right now, Minnesota is the best place to be

Summer starts the moment the brats hit the grill.
TOM WALLACE • twallace@startribune.com Assignment #20012890A Slug: buns062410 Date: June 16, 2010_ Baking Central in Taste - the usual series o

Lileks: How many hot dogs do Minnesotans eat? Not enough.

We're falling behind in tube-steak consumption status, and even worse, we add — gasp — ketchup.
Bad times: the emptied Mervyn's store at Southdale in 2009.

Malls are in trouble in Minnesota and beyond. Will your mall close or evolve?

We used to love our malls. They were where your mom bought your first pair of jeans, where you hung out as a teen. But their future may be in doubt.
The Minnesota accent is nothing if not distinctive.

Lileks: Is Minnesota accent really the 9th sexiest in U.S.?

You betcha!
Bugles are billed as the No.1 finger hat. What's No. 2?

Lileks: What's your snack-food zodiac sign?

Check out your daily hunger scope.
Ricky Gervais, who co-created the TV show, stars as misguided manager David Brent in the BBC series The Office. ORG XMIT: MIN2013040917550895

Lileks: New 'The Office' spinoff takes place at a Midwestern newspaper

The show, still untitled, features the creators of the popular office sitcom, shuttered in 2013.

Lileks: Of course we spend too much on coffee

Fancy drink titles aren't enough to justify paying so much for a cup of Joe.
Lynn Jaffee of Edina caught the morning light on the tulips at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. [focus052117

Lileks: What are coyotes good for? Urine for a surprise

Gardeners know a secret we don't.

Note to readers

The Dyckman, one of downtown Minneapolis' early hotel towers, went down in 1979.

Minneapolis may lose one of its skyscrapers. Should we mourn or rejoice?

Losing a tower wouldn't necessarily be bad for the city — unless it's replaced by a parking lot.
C'mon, you guys, stop fighting, I don't want to watch a four-minute video to fix your squabble

Lileks: All I want is advice, not a video

Just tell me what to do, k thnx bye
FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 27, 1989 file photo, actors Adam West, left, and Burt Ward, dressed as their characters Batman and Robin, pose for a photo

Who's Minnesota's favorite superhero?

And also, who cares?
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
istock

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?