Alice, again.

Every time I get irritable about terrible health quackery peddled on the internet, something happens to remind me that newspapers were really on the bleeding edge of this stuff. Behold:

clip

I felt like sending away for some, just so I can see how those pads manage to pull all that gunk out of the soles of your feet. Toxins!

Another mixed grill of bloggage today, because my life is just that boring.

You know a city has arrived jumped the shark when the people who left a hundred years ago come back and everybody makes a big stupid fuss over it. In this case: Alice Cooper and John Varvatos. The former called the latter “pure Detroit,” and delivered this stunningly dumb line, although he gets a pass because he was the paid entertainment and it’s not like we expect pith or intelligence:

“This is great,” Cooper said before his performance, “because Varvatos is pure Detroit, and this is the beginning of building this downtown area the right way. The restaurants are all here. People are coming into these old buildings and they’re opening these really cool restaurants, which is going to draw people and they’re gonna start drawing in the boutiques and everything, and pretty soon it’s going to be a very hip city.”

Back to Arizona on the first flight, I expect.

Evildoers II: Change one letter, go back to war! Coming soon to a campaign near you!

Alan, today at breakfast: “In any other city, this would be on Page One.” In Detroit? Page three: It takes cops five tries to find a body in a house. The house was being looted the whole time. Now there’s a contrast with that gala boutique opening, ain’a?

Bridge had some good stuff this week, about a class-action lawsuit filed by juvenile prisoners incarcerated in the adult system. You can find the links on the right rail.

OK, I gotta get on the horn with some people. A great weekend to all, and to all some nice weather for a change.

Posted at 10:09 am in Current events, Popculch | 16 Comments
 

The circle of Stones.

Among Kate’s graduation presents is a ticket to the Rolling Stones show coming up in July here in Detroit, at the baseball stadium during the All-Star break. No, I won’t be going, too — I already saw the Stones, coincidentally in the first days after my own high-school graduation 40 damn years ago. I recently ran across a photo of the event on The Plain Dealer website. I’m stealing the photo with great guilt, because I couldn’t figure out how to link to just the picture, and I wanted the impact of seeing it right here on this page in all its gray monumentality:

stonesconcert1975

Photo by Robert Dorksen, The Plain Dealer.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, June 14, 1975. The “Tour of the Americas,” a fairly snooty name for a Stones show, but if you were facing a crowd like that night after night, you might think you were some sort of Lord McDonowrong, too. Anyway, I don’t remember much other than that the crowd was so huge and thirsty and toilet-flushy that there was zero water pressure in the fountains. This being before everyone went around with huge water bottles all the time, I was feeling woozy in the heat in no time at all. I went to the first aid area, took a seat and said, “If I don’t get some water, I’m going to need some first aid.” They gave it to me, took my blood pressure, had me sit a bit and drink a little more, then released me back to my seat. I don’t recall much of the show, except for “Fingerprint File,” sung by a tiny figure way off in the distance who might have been Mick Jagger, but in those pre-Jumbotron days, who’s to say?

But I left with what I came for — the ability to say I’d seen the Stones. If you’d told me that night that in 21 more years I’d give birth to a daughter, and that she too would see the Stones in the first days following her high-school graduation, I’d never, ever have believed you. But life has symmetry that way.

Man, look at that crowd. Insane.

Kirk’s wife once told me an incredible story about crowds at Cleveland rock shows. It has a terrifying setup, which I’ll try not to gloss over too much, but basically: She and a friend were kidnapped, more or less, one night in Cleveland. I forget whether they invited two strangers into their car or they forced their way in, but basically, they thought they were doing two guys with a broken-down car a favor and almost immediately realized they’d made a terrible mistake, as the guys either showed or said they had a gun and directed them on a long, terrifying route through some very dodgy neighborhoods. They didn’t know if they were going to be raped, murdered or both, and it went on for some time. Then, abruptly, they were both put out of the car and the two guys sped away. It was very upsetting, of course, and the police came, there was an investigation, but nothing came of it. Almost a year later, she was at a big show like this, in a crowd that was being herded like cattle toward a gate, with another crowd coming the opposite way for some reason, and in this sea of faces her eyes lit on one and it’s THE GUY. He looked right at her, and she knew he knew who she was, but before she could even open her mouth, the crowd swept them both in opposite directions and she never saw him again. Freaky.

I’ve also been neglecting my Saturday Morning Market posts, not because I’m not spending time there, but because WordPress’ mobile app will no longer let me post custom photo sizes, and the posts were getting all fubar with huge pictures, and I just didn’t care enough to do them after I got home. But I really want to show you this bike:

grocerybike

The guy who owns it is one of those dyed-in-the-wool, no-bullshit, back-to-the-landers-in-the-middle-of-Detroit folks. He and his wife sell all year, specializing in sprouts. They don’t own a car, but they own this bike-truck thing. I think he said it was custom-made for them, or maybe not — anyway, it’s European. The middle section is where the cargo goes. The kids — they have two — have their own trailer and they may even have more add-ons. I wonder how that thing is geared.

Finally, here’s a story to turn your head inside out, about a 78-year-old man on trial for having sex with his Alzheimer’s-afflicted wife in her nursing home. Just when you think you’ve heard every detail you didn’t want to think about, about pulling those nursing-home curtains around beds for privacy, etc., it gets into some interesting discussions about consent, about how we’ll live our last years, and of course, yet another area in which the baby boomers are changing things.

Another late night last night. Man, I gotta stop this stuff. Happy Thursday — the weekend draws nigh.

Posted at 7:45 am in Popculch | 71 Comments
 

Bitches be crazy.

Back in 2008 I was sitting with an acquaintance in a bar, one of those funny loudmouths who likes to troll you in casual conversation, and especially in bar conversation. He said he was voting for Obama over Hillary, because you couldn’t trust a woman with her finger on the button. Hormones, you know.

I laughed, even as I understood that there were people in the world who believed that, and weren’t joking when they said the same thing. (Although probably all were voting for Mike Huckabee instead.)

So imagine my non-surprise when I saw this thing, written by an author whose work I sorta respect, if “been meaning to read ‘Weekends at Bellevue’ ever since I heard a thing on ‘Fresh Air'” counts as respect, on that very topic. I guess Time magazine, like all media outlets, is just click-whoring these day, but for cryin’ out loud:

The long phase of perimenopause is marked by seismic spikes and troughs of estrogen levels, which can last for more than a decade in many women. But afterward, there is a hormonal ebbing that creates a moment of great possibility. As a psychiatrist, I will tell you the most interesting thing about menopause is what happens after. A woman emerging from the transition of perimenopause blossoms. It is a time for redefining and refining what it is she wants to accomplish in her third act. And it happens to be excellent timing for the job Clinton is likely to seek. Biologically speaking, postmenopausal women are ideal candidates for leadership. They are primed to handle stress well, and there is, of course, no more stressful job than the presidency.

In other words, bitches be crazy, but after they dry up, they’re wizened crones, natural-born healers and midwives and oh go fuck yourself.

I am not, repeat not, a woman who sees sexism lurking around every corner. I understand that social change takes time, and am buoyed by the different gender landscape I see forming in the young people of today. And even though this piece reaches a crescendo of a group hug about women’s beautiful differences and the necessity of treating our moods as nature’s “intelligent feedback system,” I just don’t need this crap right now. Totally.

Although it did bring back a flash memory I haven’t recalled in ages, about a former Washington bureau chief at the Columbus Dispatch who once told a reporter doing a “girls on the bus” feature in the ’80s about how he didn’t think women were suited for campaign-trail work, because Periods, and he always knew when one was in progress, because of his very sensitive nose.

It was a good thing that guy only came to town twice a year, is all I can say.

Speaking of moody bitches, there’s not much in Slate that gets me reading past the first take, but I did enjoy this piece on “haterbragging,” i.e., the practice of using one’s online critics as self-promotion, with novelist Jennifer Weiner as the queen of all haterbraggers, citing her epic online joust with Jonathan Franzen, who always comes off as a dour old poop while she runs giggling rings around him.

A final female-centric story to make it a hat trick: The return of sidesaddle riding. Charlotte comes from an old horsey family, maybe she knows better, but as for me, this is one style I was never, ever tempted to try. One thing I learned from this, though: If conventional, leg-on-either-side horsemanship is known as riding astride, sidesaddle is called “riding aside.” Two letters makes all the difference.

Finally, I remember a friend whose sister went to work for Yugo, the now-defunct car company, in the former Yugoslavia, which was at the time a guaranteed-employment economy. The day she first toured the plant, the leader was embarrassed to come upon a large bin of upholstery scraps with two or three loudly snoring workers catching a midday nap. I guess this story shows it could have been worse.

Happy Tuesday! Sorry for the late update today — I did Kate’s taxes last night. She’s getting a refund.

Posted at 10:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 41 Comments
 

Owie.

So, after the thrilling return of “Mad Men” last week, this Sunday brings (brought) “Game of Thrones,” “Silicon Valley” and “Veep.” So it’s a happy day, except that I’m having trouble writing this, due to having sliced my finger yesterday trying to get through a bagel. I have three stitches in the left index finger, a very big bandage and if I weren’t backspacing and correcting constantly, this sentence would look like this. No, too much right hand there.

It would look as though a person who couldn’t find the T, G, V and B keys very well. And now I’m hitting them pretty well.

The guy who stitched me up was swell, an orthopedist from the Philippines who had to settle for being an urgent-care physician’s assistant (or nurse practitioner, can’t remember) here. He would have had to go through another residency, which he couldn’t afford and didn’t want to do, anyway. I liked him right up until I changed the dressing this morning and discovered he didn’t use non-stick gauze, at which I would have favored execution.

A little soak in salt water put things right, although it violated the don’t-get-it-wet rule.

So now here I am, lame but happy because spring is here, tra la and it’s warm enough to open the sun roof and the workload has eased a bit for now. Just a bit feels like a vacation.

Anyway.

Bloggage? Not much, but…

… Actually, I don’t think I have any, but I’m sure you do. Take it away. Bring on Monday.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 43 Comments
 

Wha gwan Internet?

Storms moving through right now. We were promised temperatures in the 60s, but hour after hour passed and things couldn’t seem to get past 50. Then there was sort of this big exhalation out of the southwest, the temperature went way up and as soon as I thought bike ride the rain started, and the tornado warnings started, so none of that stuff.

The tornado warnings were ridiculous. Nothing spotted, just some sketchiness on the radar, but it robbed me of my simple early-evening pleasure – “Jeopardy,” of course – as the weather guy broke in and riffed live for A SOLID HOUR on some stupid thunderstorms, as though Miss Gulch and Toto were right outside the door.

It is not for myself that I weep, however, but for the old people who missed “Wheel of Fortune.”

But now we slide into the weekend, and my soul is at peace, now that Proposition 1 is done, edited, published and filling the comments queues. Tomorrow I’m heading downtown; maybe I’ll have lunch with adults! So wonderful.

Today I took Kate in for a check of her jaw, after she reported “a lump” that wasn’t on the other side. The doctor pronounced it a hematoma. I told her, “That’s ‘hema,’ meaning ‘blood,’ and ‘toma,’ meaning ‘something bad.'” The doctor had just started to say, “that’s right,” then did a double-take and said, “So what do YOU do?”

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“So you’re supposed to have a command of the English language,” he said, already sorting me into that surgeon’s hierarchy of People Who Are Beneath Me, But Whose Order Is As Yet Undetermined.

“I do,” I told him. I hope it came across with the right amount of smugness. As a person with scintillating scotoma, I’ll be the one who decides what “toma” means, asshole.

Bloggage:

Orthodox Jews, seated next to women on airplanes, demand the woman move. I would have but one question: Is the seat I’m being asked to move to in first class? Yes? Then I am happy to do so.

I had never heard of this creature until he killed himself last week, and I learned he was the model for a Martin Short cameo in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Seriously.

“Wha gwan Jamaica?” This guy. I mean. This is going to be a fun last couple of years.

Hope your weekend is good. Hope mine is, too.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 55 Comments
 

Like a dog with a deer leg.

Dead eyes on this one, don’t you think?

Well, you better angels were right: The reaction to this shooting on one side of the cultural divide was hardly the shrug that I’ve come to expect. There was the odd Facebook page, and surely there’s something more out there, but to my relief, the country does seem to believe that shooting an unarmed fleeing man in the back is a bad idea.

Glad that’s settled.

Man, this Proposition 1 business has wrung me out. Today I started back to work on other things, and I am happy not to be nose-to-nose with a policy story. But as long as we’re on a dog theme this week, and a photo theme, let me reproduce here a photo shared on Twitter by Charlotte, our commenter. I hope she won’t mind. It’s her dog with a prize he’s been carrying around for a while:

CCHH515UgAAG-iP.jpg-large

How beautiful is Montana? The gravel road, those driftwood-y looking fenceposts, the blue sky — oh, how I’ve missed those ere this long long winter — and, of course, the deer leg in his mouth. (I remember a hilarious story in Outside magazine a few years ago, where a writer in rural Montana attempted to follow his free-roaming dog through a few typical days, to learn exactly what lured him hither and yon in that amazing landscape, as well as what he was eating — it was one of those dogs that would let loud, repulsive farts and then turn around and bark at its butt.)

On the other hand, Michigan has water, which is more than I can say for the American West these days.

Another rough night, and I don’t know why. Sometimes you just have to push through insomnia. I haven’t been taking the best care of myself the last few days, but I’ve hardly been on a bender. Oh, well, this much I know: One rough night is often followed by a great night’s rest, but two rough nights always is. So I have that to look forward to.

So, bloggage:

When Obama announced our rapprochement with Cuba, a friend and I decided this was the beginning of the Fuck All Y’all phase of his presidency, and that we liked it. With the White House bully pulpit now being used to condemn “conversion therapy” for LGBT people, especially teenagers, I’m liking it even more. (The Scott Walker stuff is just the cherry on top. Bone up, son.)

There was a small dust-up here yesterday over whether the University of Michigan should screen “American Sniper” to a student audience as part as some sort of social event. First it was cancelled, then it was un-cancelled, and of course no story out of Ann Arbor is complete without the football angle. It was one of those stories where you can feel equally contemptuous of both sides. Mmmm, misanthropy.

Finally, the return of “Mad Men” means the return of T-Lo’s Mad Style, the appearance of which yesterday nearly made me weep with joy.

Off to work with a lighter heart, but sandier eyes.

Posted at 9:05 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments
 

Breakin’ curfew.

Mama went out last night. Mama did not get hammered, but it was midnight before she walked through the door, and friends, I am no night owl these days. These are the wages of having 25-year-old friends.

Yes, that was the occasion: A 25-year-old’s birthday. “Congratulations,” I told him. “Your brain is now fully mature.” Then we destroyed a few brain cells.

We went to the Temple Bar, probably one of the last — I’m growing to hate this word, but it works — authentic bars of the old Cass Corridor, now rebranded Midtown and movin’ on up. The door has a buzzer to keep the worst of the riffraff out, although some get in anyway. There’s a bar dog, named Jameson. And last night he had a few friends in for a playdate; their owners/foster parents were wearing Detroit Dog Rescue T-shirts and having a few pops at the bar while four sizable dogs galumphed around, play-fighting and mostly moving too fast for photos:

ghostdog

After the visiting dogs left, the other bar pet came out for a visit. Here she is with the birthday boy:

ryanandcat

It was a nice evening. The internet jukebox had the Wutang Clan and Warren Zevon. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

So here we are on hump day, and here’s some bloggage for you:

Via Hank, a nifty piece of explanatory journalism on a heavy-metal drummer. Yes, explanatory:

At what tempo will a series of sonic events fail to register as a beat? Our conception of rhythm roughly corresponds to the span of the human heart rate, and Fox is curious about what happens on those margins. He says he’s been spending his free time trying to build the stamina to drum at the speed of a hum or a drone.

Just a very enjoyable read, which you’ll want before you plunge into the bummer of the day, yet another police shooting, this one in South Carolina. I am eager to hear the justifications that will be offered for this one. I’m also interested to hear what media gurus say about the increasing number of these incidents, as cell-phone cameras improve and improve and improve. I recall when J.C. and I first talked about bystander videos, back when maybe one in a thousand people might be carrying a small video camera when news is breaking. There was a helicopter crash where two people in the crowd were so equipped, and CNN was able to cut between angles. Then everyday digital cameras had video, and then they had better video, and so on.

I imagine the reaction will be something like this: Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying video?

Forty-six comments on my story yesterday on road repair! Hardly a record, but it gives you an idea of how strongly people feel about this issue here. I was telling the table last night, when I was talking to the guy quoted in the lead, and he was describing the pavement disaster that totaled his Honda, I was thinking, “Gee, this almost sounds like getting hit by an IED.” I asked, “What did that feel like?” He replied, “Like an IED,” my soul smiled, and I was happy. A good quote is a simple pleasure to a journalist.

Happy Wednesday, all. No more late nights for me for a while.

Posted at 9:38 am in Uncategorized | 30 Comments
 

Sockets.

So there I was at the oral surgeon’s office, sitting with Kate in the recovery cubicle, enjoying her goofy post-anesthesia brain, remembering my own experience getting my own wisdom teeth extracted in 1978. Like me, one of the first things she asked when she came to was to see her teeth.

The nurse showed me mine; they were in fragments. The doctor told Kate hers were biohazards, and had been thrown away. “Like any body part,” I said.

“Don’t people keep their placenta?” she mumbled through the gauze. Funny what bobs to the surface when drugs are roiling everything underneath.

There was a sign in the recovery area, asking that out of respect for everyone’s privacy, please refrain from taking photos or video. Jesus Christ. I guess everyone wants to get the next “David after dentist” Youtube hit.

She sailed through it, all things considered. Swelling’s not too bad, not even much pain, but we still have tomorrow to get through.

One last note: As I was getting ready to leave her in the operating room, the nurse wheeled in the cart with the instruments. They were covered with a paper towel, and it slid a little, revealing the serious heft of the handles. All at once, I remembered my own surgery, the nurse slipping the needle into my arm just as another one pulled the towel off the tray to reveal…instruments of torture. Hammers, chisels and is that a fucking miniature maul? It was.

No wonder I had a chinstrap bruise for a week.

Closing in on the end of a project about Proposal 1 in Michigan; the first two parts will be published at 6 a.m., and y’all can enjoy the fun I had trying to translate this into plain English. Policy ain’t my forte; I prefer people, and that’s my next assignment. Whew.

So, bloggage? Sure.

Eternally starring in the action movie running in his own head, a would-be hero suffers a flesh wound when his gun goes off in church. During the Easter vigil, no less.

The Rolling Stone report was horrifying, mainly because no one got fired, but also because the offending writer notes how hard it’s all been on her, so that’s good to know. This Slate story rounds up a few reactions that track with my own.

I’ve never heard of the Food Babe, but if this takedown is accurate, that’s probably for the best.

Onward. Good Tuesdays to all.

Posted at 12:47 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments
 

Day off.

Sorry, guys. My Easter weekend was packed, and now I’m trying to finish two stories while nursing an oral-surgery post-op patient, i.e., Kate, newly freed of four impacted wisdom teeth. New thread, and I’ll see ya later when I come up for air.

Suggested topic of discussion: The Rolling Stone fiasco.

Posted at 10:44 am in Uncategorized | 29 Comments
 

Not exactly #crucifixionproblems.

Another day spent staring at the screen. Maundy Thursday, right? I always liked to say that, although as a child, I mainly recall Holy Week as a series of going to church and not liking it very much. Especially Good Friday, when I was expected to sit quietly in my room or elsewhere in the house from noon to 3 p.m. and contemplate the suffering of Christ. (I didn’t.)

In Fort Wayne, the public library closed from noon until 3 p.m. on Good Friday. A public library. I wrote a column about it. The director said it would likely never be changed because it was an employee benefit, and benefits are hard to take away.

Of course, that was years before the great recession, when we all learned how easy it is to take benefits away.

But now it’s the end of the week, and the beginning of the weekend, and lordy, am I ready. So much to do over the weekend — write another piece, shop for a Mad Men dinner party, go to Toledo for Easter brunch, jump down turn around pick a bale of cotton. And on and on it goes until they plant you in the ground.

Maybe I need a vacation. A real one.

In the meantime, I need a bit of bloggage.

Of course, if Mad Men is firing up again, so are Tom & Lorenzo and their essential Mad Style blog entries. Here’s an introduction for you newbies. Sometimes I think they overreach, but mostly? Dead on.

The Hoosier Fiasco reaches a climax as the compromise on the IRFDA basically turns into a total skinback of the stupid bill. Two amusing asides, both passed along by friends there: “Mike Pence has done more for the LGBT community than any politician ever in Indiana,” and “I predict when Pence is out of office, no one asks him to head up a university. Maybe the Montana School for the Tall.” Yup.

If it’s Easter, it must be time for….PEEPS. Enjoy. And happy egg-hunting, y’all.

Posted at 12:25 am in Same ol' same ol' | 49 Comments