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BEST LOCALLY GENERATED WEB SITE Minneapolis 2001 - "Bleats"

Forget about his namby-pamby column in the Star Tribune; the real James Lileks can be found on his peculiar Web site, which is equal parts personal diary and urban archaeology. Lileks's daily dispatches for the site, which he calls "Bleats," offer curious meditations on the ambiguity of the human psyche without ever veering into self-pity or -aggrandizement. Mostly they resonate with pathos, like powerful little tone poems. There's also an ongoing photo-essay devoted to his daughter, born last summer. But Lileks has a worldview--or rather, a localview. His "Minneapolis Past and Present" section is a startlingly vast collection of photos old and new that, along with the Web master's brief commentaries, combine to deliver a bittersweet take on the burg's ever-changing cityscape. On the goofier side, Lileks has combed the microfilm archives for old newspaper ads going back as far as the 1920s, with hilarious running commentary that never degenerates to the point of mere snickering. So extensive is the site that the hours one happily whiles away here can take on the feel of a visit to a very groovy museum.

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