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
Are you caught up on your ketchup shopping?

Lileks: Do you relish the thought of a ketchup shortage?

A story from revealed the ways people are dealing with the ketchup shortage. They're paying a premium price to buy fast-food ketchup packets…
Got the shot yet?

Lileks: How to let everyone know you're jabbed

After deciding on a vaccine, we have to pick a way to announce it.
Lileks: Do all husbands have a genetic shopping deficiency?

Lileks: Do all husbands have a genetic shopping deficiency?

Guests were due in an hour for brunch. My wife was doing kitchen things. You know, sautéing, reducing, clarifying, crisping, probably broasting, whatever that is.…
Cleaning like there are rats among us.

Lileks: Will we ever get over our pandemic cleaning fetish?

The pandemic has taught us to assume the worst.
Do you remember what this is? It comes in handy in restaurants.

Lileks: Remember restaurants? A refresher course

Washington Post headline: "Help, I've gone feral! After a year away from restaurants, I need a refresher course."Oh, come on. It's like riding a bike.…
Northstar Center

Northstar Center, once building of the future, is emblem of Minneapolis' past

At the time it was built, the Northstar Center embodied the hope of urban vitality.
Lileks: How to know Netflix is on to you

Lileks: How to know Netflix is on to you

Password sharing will be softly discouraged.
Emerald ash borer infestations lead to removal.

Lileks: Time for the tree-reapers again

You hate to see it: The green band of paint around a tree trunk. You cycle quickly through the stages of grief: No! Looks fine…
Girl Scout Cookies aren’t a controlled substance, but they should be.

Lileks: No snow, so it's Thin Mint time?

Is it Girl Scout Cookie season?
There was high hopes for the Sheridan Hotel at 11th and Marquette in Minneapolis.

The dashed dreams of the Sheridan Hotel in 1920s downtown Minneapolis

Marquette Avenue and S. 11th Street. They dreamed big in the '20s, but their visions exceeded the depth of their pocketbooks. The envisioned Sheridan was…
Lileks: Winning the extended-warranty game

Lileks: Winning the extended-warranty game

The Amazon reviews were almost unanimous: One star. Total junk. Don't buy.Naturally, I clicked "Add to my cart." And then I clicked the one button…
The perils of post-melt grit.

Lileks: What to do with winter's grit?

If it's not one thing, it's another.
Lileks: 'Fork-split' and other lies

Lileks: 'Fork-split' and other lies

English muffins often split into two unequal parts, and then fall apart in the process. Don't you hate that with an unreasonable, all-consuming fury?Rejoice. There…
A revamped Crystal Court in the IDS Center will feature new seating and canopies of trees expected to grow 24 feet tall.

Crystal Court, the heart of Minneapolis for almost 50 years, gets some TLC

The Crystal Court in the IDS Center is getting its first upgrade since 1998.
Look: Tempus fugit!

Lileks: If we save some daylight, will it earn interest?

What if we never had to change the clocks again?
Deep Nostalgia animates faces in still photos.

Lileks: Deep Nostalgia uses artificial intelligence to bring Grandma's photo to life

Have you brought a dead relative back to life recently?I've revived a half-dozen in the past few days, with varying degrees of success. Grandma was…
Joseph Long cleared a sidewalk in Minneapolis in February. Still might be too soon to store the snowblowers.

Lileks: In Minnesota, March Madness refers to weather, not basketball

If it snows, it's normal. If it doesn't, it's normal.
It’s time to talk about what’s wrong with some of you people, and what’s wrong with me.

Lileks: On the weary feeling you have to have an opinion on Post Office trucks

If I can be honest, it's time to talk about what's wrong with some of you people, and what's wrong with me. But first we…
Shoppers made their way through Rosedale Center as some of the stores opened for business last spring.

Lileks: A double sawbuck to get into a mall?

How we can save shopping malls not named "Rosedale."
Laughing emoticon with tears of joy

Lileks: Who's crying for the Face With Tears of Joy?

I regret to inform you that the Face With Tears of Joy emoji is over. It is not cool anymore. It is actually hated.This is…
green bowl with spoon on white plastering plate

Lileks: Another shortage stuns a weary nation

The nation grapples with another shortage.
Lileks: If there's no office, can we dump office jargon?

Lileks: If there's no office, can we dump office jargon?

Every profession has its own particular jargon. In the military, it's cumbersome, technical and oddly evasive: a smoke bomb is a "kinetically deployed obfuscatory visual-hindrance…
Scott Boie, on a walk around Lake Nokomis, said “There is no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing.”

Lileks: Why do we say the cold is bitter?

Is there such a thing as a happy, grateful cold?
Got your tools ready? How about the number for the furniture instruction hotline?

Lileks: What if a furniture assembly project ...was easy?

Ikea, which is Swedish for "three screws left over," has announced that it no longer will put out a catalog. What's the point of felling…
Dale Findlay is eager to work and dismisses suggestions that he’s overqualified for some jobs.

Eagan man downplays his disability. He just wants to work.

It's not just a matter of money, but a matter of losing one's ability to make a difference.
Are your washer and dryer wedded even after death?

Lileks: A permanently pressing question: What to get for Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day again? Rinse, repeat.
No matter what you name your dog, will it come when you call it’s name?

What are the top dog names in the Twin Cities?

Pet owners in the Twin Cities tend toward the classics.
MeWe Homepage

Lileks: Do we really need a new social media platform?

First, the good news: There's a new social media platform!Now, the bad news: There's a new social media platform!It's called MeWe, which could be the…
Registered nurse Darcey McCampbell measured a dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

Lileks: Knowing the vaccine timing would be a real shot in the arm

When will someone jab you with a sharp stick?
Remember when paper towels were plentiful on aisle endcaps? These days we select any size.

Lileks: Size really does matter sometimes

Does paper towel size change our usage habits?
Icy sidewalks are a challenge even if you don’t need a cane.

Lileks: All of Minnesota is a skating rink

How not to fall.
Delivery tracking can make you wonder if you could have walked there faster.

Lileks: Shippers' tracking numbers track our frustration

My wife was on the phone. She had the posture of a floor lamp, which indicated both concentration and irritation."NO," she said. She paused. "NO.""Are…
Alex Riley, an associate librarian with the Arvonne Fraser Library in Minneapolis, processed returned books.

Lileks: Out: fines. In: gentle shaming

The Hennepin County Library System has announced that it no longer will charge fees for overdue books. You know this has the Grumpy-American community duly…
High resolution 3D render of Planet Earth.

Lileks: Turning to Martha Stewart for the latest spin on science news

This is good news or bad, depending on your view: The Earth is spinning faster than ever, and that means the days are shorter. Have…
istock What color are the Yellow Pages on the internet?

Lileks: Yes, the phone book still exists

They still produce phone books? Why?
A city of St. Paul snow plow worked near the Minnesota State Capitol.

You can name a Minnesota snowplow

The kooky contest, which started in Scotland, is gaining traction here.
These hunters found the elusive Golden Gnome in a St. Paul park Thursday. From left: Mason Thorson, 7, and Mack and Mace Peterson, both 5. The tree gn

Lileks: Can you find the nonexistent hidden prize?

Follow the clues and earn big bucks — well, buck.
Ceiling fans are the latest worry to cap 2020.

Lileks: The last story of the bad year? Killer ceiling-fan blades

It will be nice when we hear that honeybees are plentiful and monarch butterflies are returning in record numbers, and the evenings are full of…
Star Tribune illustration  TCF Bank name changes

Lileks: Another local name, kaput

With TCF sale, another familiar local name passes from the banking scene.
A man walks toward the McDonald’s near the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis as a car waits at the drive-thru window.

The Dinkytown McDonald's has closed: Remembering the U of M's golden arches

No one's nostalgic for the Dinkytown McD's. But some of us are nostalgic for who they were when they went there.
What’s your plan for a tornado?

Lileks: Who knew masks prevented sirens

The butterfly effect and you.
What obscure gadget will land in your Amazon cart this year?

Lileks: Never Trust The Amazon Reviews

Did you miss Cyber Monday? It's the only thing anyone calls "Cyber" anymore. In the '90s, they slapped "cyber" on anything to give it a…
There’s a move to eliminate license plate tabs in Michigan. One less thing to stand in line for.

Lileks: The Glitch that Stole Tabsmass

The secret to balanced budgets.

Lileks: The neighborhood drugstore might be next to go

  News story: Amazon was casting around for another part of the world to take over, took a look at the pharmacology industry and said:…
Better click before you drive and be turned away.

Lileks: Keeping tabs on the new rules for license plates

Now we need an appointment just to give the state money?
4300 Nicollet Av. S.

Vast photo archive of the Twin Cities lets you compare then and now

Walter Norton and Clifford Peel left an extensive collection of commercial photography.
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.