James Lileks | Star Tribune
Columnist | Variety

James Lileks writes a Variety column.

Then and now: Small shops ruled City Center block on 1960s Hennepin Avenue

From the Gopher Theatre to a giant Hamm's billboard, the street corner across from Block E was a bastion of old, storied businesses in 1960.

Lileks: Call centers challenge our resolve to be nice

It is not my intention to be the nation's foremost chronicler of customer-support phone-call tales, but things break. Items fail to work. Calls must be…

Lileks: For real drama, nothing can beat a thunderstorm

We don't have storms anymore. We have "periods of rain" or "life-extinguishing weather pain horror," with nothing in between.

9 things you didn't know about Twin Cities streetcars

Perhaps you have a romantic notion of quaint streetcars clattering along, carrying office workers and shoppers. If you'd been around when they stopped running in the Twin Cities in the 1950s, you would have been in the minority.

Lileks: Sometimes you need a philanthropic Door Whisperer

Public service announcement No. 1: Make sure all the car's doors are shut before you back out of the garage. Public service announcement No. 2:…

Block-by-block photo survey in 1960 shows Minneapolis' thriving retail scene

A 1960 photo survey by the Star and Tribune of the city block where City Center now stands left a remarkable account of what Minneapolis looked like at a time when the urban core was aging, but still vital.

Lileks: 4 conversations you'll have about Minnesota while visiting NYC

New Yorkers know Minnesota is superior, and they hate us for it.

Lileks: Yes, these are contentious times, but we fly the same flag

A bright bloom in the night sky, a burger on the grill: It's the 4th.

Lileks: How to best enjoy fireworks? By staring at your phone, of course!

This year, try watching the fireworks instead of photographing them.

Lileks: What's the proper punishment for credit card crooks?

It was a nice little French cafe in Washington, D.C., chic and sophisticated. Why, look — it's an intellectual reading a book. You thought he…