Everyone forgets you but the pigeons.

Today’s Snapshot of Blogging Laziness is Gov. Stevens Mason, Michigan’s first. He stands in a park in Detroit and birds poop on his head.

governormason

And for those of you who don’t follow the comments, but who did follow our brief chat a few months back about Ben Stein’s weird column in the American Spectator, this story, about some fairly run-of-the-mill skeeviness on Stein’s part, is for you. You know the sick making passage? This one, from Stein’s own version of what happened when he met a pregnant escort and tried to get her to let him “touch and kiss” her for money. They’re talking about her now-estranged baby daddy:

“I really didn’t like him that much,” she texted me. “I just wasn’t into him that much.”

“Well, you must have been into him pretty much and he must have been very much into you because you’re carrying his baby.”

“I know,” she said, “but I’ll just be a single mom. Will you help me out?”

I am so pro-life that I can never say no in these cases but I am worried about it.

He gives her money because he is so pro-life. I can’t stand it.

Anyone else? Tony Dungy takes the easy way out on welcoming Michael Sam to the NFL. Which is to say, he doesn’t.

No blog tomorrow, but! I think you might enjoy Thursday’s — a friend and I are going to see a Mitch Albom play today. JUST BECAUSE.

Happy hump day, all. Over and out.

Posted at 12:30 am in Uncategorized | 49 Comments
 

Back to the grind.

I bused it into work today — ozone action alert — to find myself all alone in our little office. First day back from vacation, and apparently I missed the memo about everybody working in Ann Arbor today. No problem. It was a hot day, and I had a lot to do. So I sat in the air-conditioning and went for a short bike ride at lunch and that was that.

Actually, as working Mondays go, it’s pretty good. I love summer, riding past the baseball stadium on the way to lunch, where my favorite pizzeria was CLOSED?!? Well, damn. It was still a lovely day. And there were some good links. This one was horrifying:

Vassar — When people opposed to housing young Central American immigrants here claimed the youths worked for drug cartels, Adam Barden was frustrated.

When the opponents attended demonstrations armed with semi-automatic rifles, he was perplexed.

And when they threatened to boycott his hardware store for not agreeing with them, he got angry.

Yep, the debate over the Central American children has washed up in Michigan. It’s happening everywhere. And the protestors are open-carrying. This will surely work out wonderfully.

So, change of subject? How about this one? I swear, I don’t know why any of the big billionaires waste their money in Washington; the real power can be wielded in state legislatures, and the prices are so much lower:

Missouri is the only state in America that has declined to keep a prescription drug database — the primary tool the other 49 states use to identify people who acquire excess prescriptions for addictive painkillers and tranquilizers, as well as the physicians who overprescribe them. …But while proponents say the vast majority of the Legislature supports the measure, it has been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy. After successfully sinking a 2012 version of the bill, Mr. Schaaf said of drug abusers, “If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool.”

See how easy? One guy can gum up the works.

And speaking of one guy, how about a Kennedy? RFK Jr. and his mad crusade against thimerosol, the boogieman chemical of the anti-vaxxers:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine, no evidence supports a link between thimerosal and any brain disorders, including autism. But parental concerns of such an association in the 1990s spurred vaccine fears. This owed to a confluence of factors: highly publicized warnings of mercury-contaminated fish; rising awareness and diagnoses of autism; and vaccines added to the childhood schedule. The CDC urged vaccine makers to remove thimerosal as a precautionary measure.

Some parents took this as proof of thimerosal’s harm. The controversy, which Kennedy helped fuel in the 2000s with a notorious, widely publicized article, prompted additional vaccine fears that linger to this day.

The greatness was rinsed out the Kennedys a generation back, but the publicity remains.

A new week! It’s going to be a hot one. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 31 Comments
 

Cultural exchange.

When we travel, we make plans to see national landmarks, great museums, the crown jewels. And then we get there, and we remember things like one of our German guests last week, who, when asked about her impressions of America so far, mentioned the toilets.

Apparently they have a button system in Germany – one button for liquids, another for solids. Kate immediately chimed in, having traveled there last summer: “Yes! The buttons!”

So I guess that’s how memories are made: In the room you visit multiple times a day.

Later in the week, Johanna showed us an aerial photo of her house, and I asked what the crops were in the surrounding fields. “I don’t know the word,” she said. “It is a seed for making oil.”

Soy? No. Canola? No. She reached for her translator, pecked out the word and blanched.

“Oh, rapeseed,” I said. You can imagine how awkward.

Speaking of Germans, here are ours:

germans

Johanna and Henrike are the ones on the outside – ours. The inner pair stayed with a friend, and this was the day we took them to Comerica Park, duh, where they capered under the big Tiger and took many pictures. We didn’t take them to the game, because they would have been bored, so we took them to the mall, where everything is so cheap! Their suitcases were already hernia bait when they arrived, and that was before two shopping trips, with Windsor and Boston still on the itinerary.

So it was a fun trip for them, I hope. The first night we went to a bar in Hamtramck where Kate’s band was playing, but the music was delayed and the bar is one that doesn’t enforce the smoking law, so they mostly stared at their phones.

“I dunno, I thought a couple of German kids might want to see an authentic Detroit rock club,” I told a friend afterward.

“Oh, come on,” he said. “You know there are pictures of that place all over German Twitter hashtagged #fuckyeahdetroit.”

If only. They mostly seemed to enjoy the shopping, and watching “Mean Girls” on Netflix. (German-dubbed name: “Girls Club.”)

And that was just one part of the last action-packed week. There were also trips to and from Port Huron and Mackinac for the race. Kate took off for the weekend, so there was an airport stop-off. Essentially, this weekend was the first down time I’ve had. Did some yoga — man, did that feel good after a few hundred miles of driving — and took a long bike ride. We ended up at the Eastern Market’s new Sunday market, where the vegetable stalls are replaced by crafts and other summer-festival sorts of stuff. I had a booze-infused popsicle and headed for home.

This week, and the next few, threaten to be just as crazed, but I will strive to keep up here. Thanks for being such great commenters in my absence. You all are the best.

In the meantime…

Pro-Russian separatists are said to be collecting the bodies of the dead plane-crash victims and? Holding them. Who ARE these people?

I can’t stop watching this Elaine Stritch performance of “The Ladies Who Lunch,” and I thank Roy for finding it:

And another crazy week begins. In English.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 31 Comments
 

I been workin’.

Sorry no post for a while; in the past few days I’ve been up and back to Port Huron twice, then up and back from Mackinac. I have a freelance assignment to write/edit the 100th anniversary book for the local yacht club that sponsors the Port Huron-to-Mackinac race, and it was last weekend. Today, two German teenagers are arriving for a few days; we’re a host family for their summer-camp arts tour, a way to close the circle on Kate’s trip to Europe last year.

So it’s been one of those weeks, and will continue to be so.

But here’s what the sunset over St. Ignace looked like on Monday. As the kids say, it’s all good:

mackinacsunset

Carry on. I’ll be in and out as circumstances allow.

Posted at 11:27 am in Housekeeping | 103 Comments
 

Saturday afternoon sailing.

I scored a spot on one of the press boats for the start of the Bayview/Bell’s Brewing Port Huron-to-Mackinac race.

It’s a downwind start. Very spinnaker-y. Pret-ty sweet.

mackrace

Posted at 12:33 pm in Uncategorized | 73 Comments
 

Ain’t nothin’ but.

A distant neighbor owns a hound of some sort. He’s baying now. Hounds bay because you’d never call the sound they make barking. I always kind of wanted a hound dog, maybe a bloodhound, but hound people are always waving me off. “They have that hound smell,” they say, without actually elaborating on it. Oh, the hound smell. OK.

Foxhunters call it “the music,” the sound of the pack baying as one. I don’t think they mind the smell, but a pack of working foxhounds generally lives in a kennel and not in a home, so there.

I just like the way making noise seems to take some effort, and the bigger the dog, the more effort is required. A bloodhound starts with some awrs, and then some awr-roo, and only after priming the pump can he do a full-throated awr-roo-roo-roo. It sounds wonderful. Surely the hound smell can’t be that bad.

Just checked the internet. I guess it is. Particularly with bassets. Noted.

As you can surely tell, I’d really rather watch “Orange is the New Black” or something similar on the telly right now. I think I’ll do that. The week is winding down, and my mind is seeking another gear. So a little bloggage:

This story is pitched as a medical miracle, but honestly, it’s a story about child abuse. An infant mauled in her crib by a “pet” raccoon? Because she had a propped bottle in there with her? It’s sick-making. (Note: The current parents are not the ones who let this happen.)

Before “Seinfeld” is eclipsed by the brilliant Twitter of @SeinfeldToday (“Jerry gets paranoid about his girlfriend’s past when her iPhone automatically connects to the wi-fi at Newman’s apartment.”), let’s remember when it was new. Really new.

I do yoga, so does Lady Gaga. Only she dresses a little differently.

That’s all, folks.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 66 Comments
 

Come and sit by me.

How do we feel about “co-working,” friends? Or has the hyphen been dropped entirely by now? In which case: How do we feel about coworking?

I think we need to keep the hyphen. Autocorrect tried to make that “cowering.”

I ask because co-working is the new dance craze that’s sweepin’ the nation. When Bridge was setting up its Detroit office, we looked at a couple of them. My boss asked only that it not be a place where if you stepped away from your desk for a minute you risked being run over by a hipster on a skateboard. We went through a couple, and they were beautiful places, but we couldn’t make them work, or co-work.

For starters, we needed at least a little privacy, and this seems to run contrary to the ethic of co-working. While there were lots of cubbies and cul-de-sacs and other places where you could make a phone call demanding the abortion money without too much risk of being eavesdropped upon, the co-working office where you can lock away your computer monitor, keep a private copier and a file cabinet or two wasn’t easy to find. No one really wanted to modify their lovingly restored reclaimed-wood loft into cubicles with locking doors, because hey! It’s CO-WORKING, not a bunch of veal-fattening pens. Get with the program.

The program, as near as I could tell via direct observation, was sitting at long tables staring into a laptop, feeding off the collective energy in the room. Bikes parked right next to your desk. An office kitchen with a few local craft brews in the fridge, takeout menus in the drawers. Funky signage. Funky everything. Maybe some old photos from the ’20s silkscreened, in heroic scale, on the walls. A few office dogs.

We ended up in a plain old traditional office with a locking door. I still park my bike near my desk. But every time a new co-working space opens, and the local Curbed website runs a shitload of photos, I feel a little bereft. I bet I’d like hanging there.

What am I thinking? In a month, they’d hold a vote and kick me out, after my third announcement to the room: SHUT DOWN YOUR COMPUTERS AND GO MEET SOME GIRLS, PEOPLE.

It does make you wonder how the office of the future will look. I’d much rather work in one of these places than in most of the offices I’ve endured, including the one in my spare bedroom. Cube life isn’t good for anyone.

So. Today the big time-waster on social media was the remarkable photos of ex-Tiger Prince Fielder, nude, published in ESPN magazine. I found myself poring over them, for no reason even approaching prurient. I just liked marveling at the size of the guy’s legs. There was a lot of talk of “eye bleach” and “things you can’t unsee” from the guys, a few clicks will take you to Venus Williams and her astounding booty. Plus many other sculpted athletes, all tastefully nekkid. Go waste some time of your own.

Me, I’m going to bed. I had a class tonight called Yoga Flex that taught me an important lesson: Yoga and weight-lifting are both fine workouts, but they really shouldn’t marry. It’ll never work out.

Happy Hump Day, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Popculch | 66 Comments
 

Some housekeeping.

First, an announcement and some general air-clearing: There may be gaps here in the next few days, and over the course of the summer. I’ll be doing some traveling next week for my book project, and I won’t necessarily be near wifi and all the rest of it. And then I will need to double down on the book project, so that might mean some dark nights or days. I think I will put up lots of photo posts this summer, sort of like T-Lo’s lounge posts, for general chitchat in the comments and something to look at in the bargain.

Next week I will be in a pretty place for a couple of days. (Mackinac.) So we’ll start with that.

And today, I’m a little wrung out. Slept badly, drove a long way (to Lansing), drove back. Thank God for the iPod, so I could sing, loudly, all the way home. I love me some public radio, but after a while, the only thing that keeps my heart beating is the original cast recording of “Oklahoma!”

Gonna give you barley, carrots and potaters, pasture for the cattle, spinach and tomaters – that’s my favorite line.

Hello, am I ever out of gas. So.

J-Lo, don’t ever change. Don’t ever change the batshit outfits and especially don’t change your makeup.

Taylor Swift, optimist, takes apart the contemporary music business. Of course I don’t believe she wrote a word of it, but nice try.

He shot his eye out, kid: Local TV weather guy loses an eye messing around with fireworks.  Not at my neighbor’s house.

 

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Housekeeping | 35 Comments
 

A short fuse.

Two years ago, apparently seized by a desire for FREEDOM, not to mention revenue, our state legislature eased restrictions on all sorts of fireworks. They imposed licensing and a 12 percent tax on sales, with the proceeds split between firefighter training (really) and the general fund, then said, “Have fun, kids!”

The law says people have a right to shoot pretty much anything the day before, the day of, and the day after federal holidays, and as you can imagine, the one that gets the most action is not Martin Luther King Day.

So I have this neighbor. I already knew he was a jerk; he likes to shoot squirrels with his pellet gun, I guess for target practice. I haven’t spoken to him about the dead ones that have fallen into our yard, but I scooped the corpses up on a shovel and dumped them over the fence. I know he saw me do it because he was standing in the back doorway one time, and shrank back into the house.

Whatever. I know he’s also fond of fireworks, but this year was a cake-taker. He invited people over and shot shit off from nightfall to after 11 p.m. July 3, 4 and 5. One night I don’t mind and two nights is pushing it, but by the third night I was feeling hostile. That third night is a Budweiser-scented belch in the face, followed by, “It’s a free country.” We adopted Wendy last year about this time and our vet agreed she was about a year old, and she came through 2013′s fireworks season like a champ, so we decided her birthday would be celebrated on July 4. (Yes, we celebrate animal birthdays in our house; don’t you?)

This year I spent her birthday jury-rigging a Thunder Shirt for her out of a hand towel and Ace bandage. She was so scared Alan could hear her teeth chattering.

I should add, these weren’t normal backyard fireworks. I have seen less impressive displays at civic celebrations, and keep in mind, these were going off in a densely populated area, flying into mature trees, raining sparks over roofs and lawns and parked cars. Our driveway was littered with cardboard from the shells after the first night. The dog next door was so upset he voided both his bladder and bowels, and barking resounded throughout the neighborhood. I cannot be the only one who is growing tired of this shit, I thought as the clock ticked close to midnight (the legal shutdown hour) on July 4. The following night, that became clear.

We had a friend over for drinks and a fire in the back yard, and close to 11, in between blasts, I heard a woman screaming in anger: “Who’s going to clean off my car? Who?” I asked my friend to call in a possible disturbance to 911 and we went around the corner. The cops were just arriving, got out and proceeded to yell? At the complaining neighbors. “Take it up with the state legislature,” they said before threatening to arrest the group for public intoxication, which seemed odd, as no one appeared to have been drinking all that much. (Except for me, and I only had a delicious Michigan sour-cherry Manhattan early in the evening and two glasses of wine afterward.) The biggest complainer, the woman with the car, asked quite reasonably why she could be arrested for making too much noise at 5 p.m. on any other day of the year, but this guy could essentially turn a multi-block area into a war zone for three nights running. The answer: Take it up with Lansing. The guy making all this noise had a simpler reply — his middle finger.

I really, really don’t understand someone like this. I certainly understand the appeal of fireworks, but this campaign — every night for the whole legal three-day period, in the face of open revolt from one’s own neighbors — suggests a level of hostility that makes one unsuited for urban life. And the fact this is happening all over the state only makes me wonder why we haven’t had a few shootings already.

And that was our weekend! Well, plus some sailing and grilling and yoga and all the rest. FREEDOM.

Bloggage? Sure:

“Rolling coal” — proof there really is no bottom to some people’s stupidity. (I bet these guys LOVE fireworks, the louder the better.)

This is a very good analysis of reactions to the Hobby Lobby decision, and the fact it came from Cosmopolitan magazine seems like a damn miracle.

More Dahlia. Sigh.

And with that, the week is off and running. Hope it’s good for you.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 39 Comments
 

A chill Fourth.

Seventy-one degrees as I write this, on July 3. I’m lovin’ it. I think I said here before that I wanted to live someplace where you sometimes need long sleeves, but it’s never terribly cold. Didn’t we agree I was made for the California coast, the expensive part? I think so. (Just as soon as I monetize this thing.)

Anyway, after a day of overcast drear, the clouds have cleared, the sun emergeth, and all looks in order for a bandbox-perfect Fourth of July. For which I have planned…nothing. I guess I’ll make some potato salad and throw some protein on the grill, but beyond that? Maybe sail around in the boat, maybe go to the pool, where the city traditionally springs for an all-day DJ to spin the tunes.

All you really need for the Fourth is a good attitude. One of my favorites.

The only sour note is one of my neighbors, currently in the midst of an extremely loud ad hoc fireworks show. When we got Wendy she was very cool about these things, but this shit is so off the chain she just came upstairs and hid behind my office chair. This guy is a jerk — he’s the one who shoots squirrels for target practice — and I’m thisclose to calling the cops.

Oh, well. Smiles! Three-day weekend!

I’m thinking Dahlia Lithwick is my favorite SCOTUS writer:

I find myself worried about a court in which five members are convinced that we sorted out all those pesky race problems in the ’60s, and that women need to be “gently counseled” before they can make a medical decision. (We don’t need “sidewalk counselors” to tell us about “botched abortions.” We have Google.) I worry that this court finds women’s health concerns so unserious that it won’t even engage in a meaningful discussion about them. (It does not afford me great comfort when the court assumes, without explaining, that women’s health care is probably important for argument’s sake, the way Ricky did with Lucy back in the day).

I’m afraid that’s the shape of it.

Happy holiday, all, however you choose to spend it.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 51 Comments