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

Lileks: How to troubleshoot the inexplicable

Have you heard of Disney+?It's a new streaming service that lets you watch, for a monthly fee, the movies you saw in theater, then bought…

Lileks: How many gloves have you lost?

Maybe they ran off with the missing socks.
Sure, it looks pretty when it falls. But that pristine white doesn’t last forever, and eventually you’re left with snirt.

Word of the week: Meltschmerz

When snow becomes a dirty word.

Lileks: How to be an idiot at the airport

I had an exciting experience at the airport that I've been awaiting for years. I saw something, and then I said something. I've done that…
Detail of the blue bulbs that illuminate the Christmas ball. ] JEFF WHEELER • There's a new player in the holiday light

Lileks: Are your holiday lights still up?

Yes, it'll be a bit sad to see the neighborhoods less bright. But it's a sign of hope to take down the lights. It means that the end of winter is coming.
Minneapolis’ tallest building was once the Foshay Tower, foreground, an obelisk.

Think the Minneapolis skyline is unique? Think again – we have copycat buildings in our midst

Some of our landmark buildings aren't so unique. Others are ours alone.

Lileks: To read this online, you must accept my new privacy policy

Start setting aside egg beaters, right now. Trust me. Why? I’ll explain. In 10 years you’ll read stories about people who make a nice living…
Vector illustration of a man with a flu or cold lying in bed. He looks tired, has a red nose, is snorting and sweating, has an ice bag on his head and

Lileks: Never mind the flu – there's (always) a cold going around

If you say you feel like you’re getting a cold, someone’s sure to say, “Yeah, there’s one going around.” As if there’s a designated office…

LILEKS: Hot sauce heaven, or hell?

Growing up in North Dakota, the hottest thing I ever ate was a radish. "Angry hard-berries," we called them. They seemed to suggest there was…
A crew arrived to de-ice the sidewalk at the 38th St. Station on the Blue line in south Minneapolis in February.

Lileks: If you can't deal with slipping on the ice, don't live in Minnesota

It comes with living in a state that's frozen half the year.
The Francis Drake Hotel in Minneapolis (shown circa 1931) opened in 1924 and cost “nearly One-Half Million Dollars.”

In its heyday, Drake Hotel offered Old World allure

Built in 1926, Minneapolis hotel lost to Christmas fire slipped into second-tier status after a decade or two.
How spooky is your avatar?

Word of the week: Spookitar

Who's afraid of Twitter?
Are you ready for some '20s?

What we think about decades past might not be so

How we define a decade has to do with what sticks in our collective memory.

Lileks: Easy-to-follow 2020 resolutions

Perhaps we say New Year’s “resolution” because it’s less binding than the word “promise.” No one wants to break their promise. Everyone’s pretty much OK…
The costume helps acheive Santa-ness.

Word of the week: Clausibility

It's what makes a credible Claus.
A scene from the 1946 holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Your last-minute holiday TV viewing guide

In the mood for a holiday show? There are plenty of them.
Here’s what we think about dogs wearing fake antlers: “How cute!” Here’s what your dog thinks about it: “I don’t understand what’s happe

Why you shouldn't humiliate your pet during the holidays

There are approximately 9 hundred million pictures on the internet of dogs wearing Santa caps.

LILEKS: Why do we keep doing the same things for the holidays?

Do you have any zombie holiday traditions?I don't mean dressing up as an undead Santa who tumbles insensate down the chimney and staggers around moaning…

Lileks: Holiday to-do list includes panicking

All the things that are left to stress about.

LILEKS: Cold weather means indoor mice

"Ohgahd! Heww! Yukk! Uhhg!"That's a direct quote.My wife got out the bowl of dog kibble from the cupboard and uttered some improvised phonemes of surprise…
A fresh coating of snow atop of ice along the Mississippi River below St. Anthony Falls Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2109, in Minneapolis.

Lileks: November, you're doing it wrong

Perhaps if we were to sing Turkey Carols?
“Seinfeld” is available for free on Sony’s Crackle service.

4 free streaming options you might be missing out on

Can you deal with a few ads?

Lileks: Watching paint dry was just the exciting start

  This is a story as insubstantial as dryer lint and exciting as watching paint dry. That’s because it is literally a story about dryer…
Large historical panoramas hang in the Wells Fargo Bank building’s skyway in Downtown East.

You can learn a lot about Minneapolis history by walking the skyways

Photos, murals and other collections make the skyways into mini-museums.
Krispy Kreme doughnuts

Lileks: Hail the doughnut smuggler

How do we really feel about our doughnuts?

Lileks: Everyone's got a point with 'OK Boomer'

Perhaps you’ve seen a young person wearing a T-shirt that says “OK Boomer” and thought, “That’s nice. They’re honoring their elders!” No, not at all.…

Lileks: This one weird Netflix trick shortens winter

Let's fast-forward seasons the way we do videos.
Laika, a female, was launched into space in 1957 aboard Sputnik II, paving the way for human space missions.

Remembering Laika the space dog

The Soviet stray wasn't the only dog in space, but she became the most famous one.
Kids played on top of a snowed-in car in Minneapolis after the Halloween blizzard of 1991.

Lileks: Hey, did you know we had a blizzard on Halloween?

“Hey, new guy, have you heard about the Halloween Blizzard?” New guy: “Uh, yeah, In fact, it came up 10 times last week.” Us: “Because…
Security lines can be the worst part about modern travel.

How to make the awesome MSP Airport even better

Here are seven easy improvements that James Lileks thinks the Stakeholder Committee should consider.
He had to wait for more than seven decades, but Dan Cylkowski, 94, finally has proof that he completed his degree.

After waiting 72 years, Minnesota WWII vet finally has his diploma from the U

The 94-year-old thought it was about time he got what he deserved.
There’s a new word for those who are greener than thou.

Word of the week: Ecotistical

The word of the week will turn you green with envy
The panorama revealed everyday details, such as tents pitched in a lawn.

STREETSCAPES: Panorama revisited

Readers help reveal the story behind a massive, rarely seen overview of the city.

Lileks: It's time to outlaw bank checks

If you fill out a survey online, there’s often a question about your age group. The choices should go like this: • Opinion can be…
This notice reads: Protect guests and employees from foodbourne illnesses!

Lileks: City reminds you to wash your hands

A sudden case of dotted lines.

James Lileks: Fitted bed sheets leave us fit to be tied

Blame Bertha. Or thank her. Or both. Bertha Berman patented the fitted bed sheet in 1959, which means this is the 60th anniversary of Not…
It's two seasons in one!

Lileks: Snowblowers and the two stages of winter denial

How to prepare for the coming storms.
Take a photo tour of Mpls. in 1907 with astonishing, interactive panorama

Take a photo tour of Mpls. in 1907 with astonishing, interactive panorama

A panoramic photo of the city taken on a large-format camera in 1907 offers an incredible time capsule. "It reveals things that essentially nobody ever saw before. It's so immersive."
A nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta.

Lileks: Annual flu vaccine is a real shot in the arm

  News: Scientists predict a bad flu season. Oh. Really? One of these years we’re going to be told to expect a great flu season.…
Lileks: What is Minnesota's favorite treat at the movies?

Lileks: What is Minnesota's favorite treat at the movies?

A highly unscientific surveys says we're Almond Joy lovers. You'll never guess Wisconsin's snack.
The dark structure has perched atop the CenturyLink Building for more than 50 years.

After 50-plus years, the CenturyLink building in Mpls. sheds its crown

The $600,000 crown was installed in the late '60s.

Lileks: What do you do with your family's memories?

Anyone who's cleaned out the house of a departed parent has come to the conviction that everyone has too much stuff. You resolve to go…
Dog at the laptop is no doubt a good boi. Or at least a doggo.

Let the internet teach you how to speak Dog

The internet is giving us a whole new language to speak about the good bois in our lives.

Lileks: It's time for us to turn over an old leaf

Fall color season's familiar pattern, this time with grass.
Aaron Douglas buffed the exterior of a car being fixed at New Century Auto Body.

This Minneapolis auto body shop has been fixing cars since the 1920s

New Central Auto Body has been fixing dented fenders since the Ford Model T was king of the road.

Lileks: All you ever wanted to know (and more) about your power outage

Thanks, power company, for making me worry.

Lileks: I am not a number! I am a lot of numbers

Last week, for a few seconds, I wished I were named Aloywichius Phofhenzoller Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. You would have felt the same.Let me back up. Do you…
Dropping off old electronics creates a mountain of problems.
Associated Press

Lileks: Why not a government toxic-relationships disposal center?

If we can throw away broken TVs, why can't we throw away broken promises?

Lileks: Can the internet iron out our problems as well as our shirts?

Perhaps we should talk about disobedient internet-connected ovens and what they have to do with Facebook's latest plan to spy on your life, but first…

Lileks: How to take the speed limit to the limit

There's the speed limit, and there's the real speed limit.
Twin Cities Ordnance Plant workers packing cartridge belts made at the arms factory in the 1940s.

Minnesota made: We honor those whose toil helped create the state

On Labor Day, we honor those whose toil helped create the state.
How did fall sneak up on us? Soon we'll be seeing this colorful sight.

Lileks: Summer just got here, and it's over?

C'mon, there's at least 36 hours of summer left.

Lileks: How to cancel your landline in less than 30 minutes

I called the phone company to disconnect my landline ... OK, I’ll wait while you get it out of your system. “Gee, did you have…
Passengers navigated a crowded subway platform in New York City.

The Twin Cities didn't get a subway in the 1900s, and here's why

In the early 1900s, there was talk of building one. It would have put its mark on the metro.
The Midway as seen from the Sky Flyer in 2018.

Lileks: A handy guide for rebutting haters of the Minnesota State Fair

Not everyone loves the state's Great Get-Together.
What’s your attitude toward road construction?

The word of the week: Prostruction

Building a new attitude toward construction.
A game of dodge ball in Brooklyn Park.

Lileks: Why I defend the game of dodge ball

Dodge ball is harsh, but it's not bullying. You might say it builds character.

Lileks: Want less stress? Head for St. Paul

A new and slightly silly survey says it's the most chill place in the whole country.

Lileks: Slow and steady, that's the ticket – literally

State's new slowpoke driver law spurs righteous — and right lane — indignation.
The last Perkins in Minneapolis city limits, adjacent to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, closed its doors on July 14.

Lileks: Perkins may not be 'us,' but we are Perkins

We like to think it will always be there, promising pancakes and a bottomless cup of coffee.

Lileks: Cicadas urge us to enjoy summer

The bugs' calls signal that summer is coming to an end.
Humuttity: That quality to the air that makes dogs decide it’s time to just chill.

Word of the week: Humuttity

Doggone it's humid in August!

Lileks: Only the brave buy pants online

The truly brave don't brag, but sometimes you have to make an exception.Otherwise, how will future generations know what you've done, what you faced, what…

Lileks: Put the cellphone down and listen to the voices in your car

Since we're all going hands-free on Thursday, you now must talk to your phone, or your car. But you don't know how they'll answer.
When you’re in a July state of mind, whatever the calendar says.

The word of the week: Julial

We won't July to you about fall
Jimmy Fallon visited with fans in Minneapolis during a taping for the Super Bowl edition of "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon."

Lileks: How much would you pay Jimmy Fallon to visit?

Did anyone check to see if getting Stephen Colbert to come to the Super Bowl would have been cheaper?

Lileks: Remembering a WWII vet, an American original, a father

What a remarkable fellow. They made so many, once. There are so few, now.
Author Dave Barry with his dog Lucy.

Humorist Dave Barry shares life lessons he's learned from his dog Lucy

We talked with Dave Barry about barking at trash haulers, the improbability of cat parks, dogs in space and, of course, Lucy.
The Van Dusen company placed business card ads in the Saturday Evening Spectator, which promoted the city of Minneapolis.

An 1889 issue of the Saturday Evening Spectator shows a fanciful Minneapolis

A late 19th-century newspaper promoted Minneapolis by depicting it with fanciful buildings.
A lightning storm over Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis.

Lileks: The noisy joy of a summer thunderstorm

We were warned that this summer would be cooler and wetter. But then the thunderstorms come, and everything's forgiven.
The careless use of pyrotechnics has taken a toll over the years.

Why 'safe and sane' was once the July 4th mantra

No one in the past 50 years or so has likely wished you that, but that's something you would have heard a lot back in the day. Here's why.
That moment you hope your phone hasn’t broken.

The word of the week: Droptimism

It's not all it's cracked up to be.
Folks get excited to try the new foods at the Minnesota State Fair.

Lileks: Minnesota State Fair foods that didn't make the cut

Here are some foods you that didn't make the fair's annual list of new foods we'll soon sample.
The Stairs in the Emery Hotel, formerly the Scandinavian-American Bank.

In praise of the iconic staircases of the Twin Cities

The grand staircase is disappearing from our skyscrapers and large civic buildings.

Lileks: Praising dad jokes and their tellers

What's up? The sky! (Child rolls eyes.)