Best seat in the house.

Kate noticed this weekend that Wendy prefers men to women. That she does, but it helps that some men let her be a lapdog.


Hope your Thanksgiving was what you wanted it to be, and that you still have a lap-like space on your body. I feel like I ate my weight in butter, so off to the gym for me on Black Friday. You?

Posted at 11:29 am in Uncategorized | 54 Comments

Sip Bacardi.

Whatever happened to that playlist service where you could embed a sound file in a blog post like this? I feel like we need some 50 Cent all up in here, “In Da Club,” cuz shawty, it’s my birfday, we gonna party, cuz it’s my birfday.

Actually, probably the partying will be kept to a minimum, although the year 58 must be celebrated somehow, and it is the biggest bar night of the year. Some friends and I discovered one not too far from here that has the best jukebox I’ve seen in ages. (Detroiters: Better than Honest John’s, oh yes it is.) So that’ll be da club for tonight. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m cooking, so I have to get up ready to rumble in the kitchen.

That’s middle age for you.

I accept and thank you for all your tributes in advance. We’re all buddies in here.

A few links to get out of the way, some of which you folks have already posted in comments:

Gin & Tacos on security vs. freedom, bringing the Obviously sauce to the picnic:

By giving Americans the freedom to move about as they please and buy whatever they can afford (including some things that could be used to do harm) we are choosing (reasonably) to live with some risk. We’re never completely safe. As I tell the students, the only way to guarantee that you won’t be stabbed on the way to your next class is to create a society in which either cutlery or the right to walk around outside are forbidden. It’s certainly not likely to happen, and that’s why we choose to live with the minuscule risk that it will.

This is all incredibly simple, yet here I am explaining it because half of adult Americans do not appear to understand it. At one moment we appear to believe that we can protect ourselves from a nebulous and ephemeral threat and at the next moment we are willing to increase vastly the risks to ourselves and to society. The same people, for example, who oppose admitting Syrian refugees because doing so might pose the slightest increase in risk of danger from terrorism are most vocally in favor of letting everyone carry any kind of gun anywhere and at all times. We’re so concerned about our security that we are willing to let Syrian refugees die (literally) to protect ourselves, yet we don’t see a problem with handing out powerful, high-capacity firearms to any possibly unstable, possibly deranged white guy who can pass a laughable background check (or use one of the many loopholes in gun sales to circumvent even that) and hand over the purchase price. Our national principles can be jettisoned when we’re confronted with scary brown refugees but when we deal with the desire some of us have to avoid being murdered at work or school our freedoms are sacrosanct.

Neil Steinberg, touching on the same themes:

The right side of our political spectrum is devoted to marrying Islam to terror, Which makes them on the same team as ISIS, because that’s precisely why they commit these acts. Western culture is a big, warm, inclusive blob that absorbs and alters everything. Joan of Arc rides in, clad in armor, her eyes aglitter with passion for the Lord, and 500 years later, Miley Cyrus swings out, straddling a wrecking ball in her underwear. ISIS wants to separate Islam from the West, so men like them can be in charge forever and women never get to drive or sing. Thus they strike at the West in nihilistic acts of terror, counting on the Bruce Rauners of our nation to leap up and shout, “Golly, do we really want all these Syrians here?”

Yes, yes we do. Because the way to manufacture patriotic Americans is by letting their grandparents into the country after their homelands go to hell. My grandfather, Irwin Bramson, didn’t end up in a trench in Poland because a relative, Ira Saks, plucked him at age 15 out of the jaws of doom. So my mother, June, got to be born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1936, and not in Bialystok, Poland, where she’d end up another 5-year-old butchered by her neighbors.

I liked that image of Miley Cyrus swinging out of western civ. Made me chuckle. Of course, others see this as evidence of decadence; Rod Dreher — look up his stupid blog if you want to read it, I’m not linking here — has had his panties so bunchy lately, between terrorism and the hoo-ha on college campuses, that I’ve come up with a new rule: If it upsets Rod, I’m for it. Personally, I can’t wait until he makes good on this Benedict Option crap he’s always threatening and fucks off for good. Unfortunately, I’m sure he’ll be fucking off to someplace with wifi and a sinecure.

Which brings us to a final link, to Foreign Policy magazine, on terrorism in general, arranged in a helpful list:

Occasional terrorist attacks in the West are virtually inevitable, and odds are, we’ll see more attacks in the coming decades, not fewer. If we want to reduce the long-term risk of terrorism — and reduce its ability to twist Western societies into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves — we need to stop viewing terrorism as shocking and aberrational, and instead recognize it as an ongoing problem to be managed, rather than “defeated.”

The Israelis have been living with terrorism for generations. I don’t know that they’re the model we want to follow in our response, but they don’t hide under their beds, either.

So with that, I leave to go pick at a light breakfast before a 9:30 workout. The link between terrorism and birthdays isn’t an obvious one, but some years, maybe so. Not this one, not yet anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving, too. Look for photo posts through the weekend.

Posted at 8:11 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments

Saved in the nick.

I told you Monday would be a bear and it was, and I screwed up and didn’t blog, but then I woke up at 4:30 a.m., and this mega-Jezebel post of terrible restaurant stories fell into my lap. It is, as the kids say, everything. Enjoy and I’ll be back later.

If you don’t have time, control-F to Santa and just read that one. (Wait, there are multiple Santa stories. Santa trucker is the one you want, but they’re all good.)

Posted at 5:38 am in Media | 25 Comments

The pace quickens.

Short week ahead, and I’m hosting Thanksgiving, so much to do. Expect outages ahead, or maybe just a lot of food pictures. I can’t believe how fast the weeks whip by. On Sunday, I scan the week ahead and before I know it, it’s Thursday and I’m pulling myself out of the pool, telling the old lifeguard-coach, “See you next week, Tim.” That’s when my weekend starts, mentally, although two days of work remain at that point. But the attitude is different, no longer a climb but a coast. And then it’s Friday, and I head out to meet pals at a venerable local watering hole. The view across the street:


The scenery around here isn’t for everyone, but it grows on you. The Instagram filters help, too.

I was trying to grab the neon, admittedly in hail-Mary fashion, but I like the way it turned out. Just a tetch of Hopper-ness.

The broad-daylight shot:

But Sunday comes along eventually, and only a short week ahead, but Monday will be a bear. So let’s do this thing.

I work with public-radio people fairly regularly, so this story — about the graying of NPR — struck me. It’s a mix of reactions, equally “that’s too bad, because younger people need to be listening” and “it’s their own damn fault.” The latter is mainly due to the fact one of the local public stations is still playing “Car Talk,” years after half the team died. This seems like the public-radio equivalent of classic-rock stations refusing to move on because the Stones still sound so good, right?

This drives me nuts, too:

Some of the other brand-name talent at NPR illustrates the situation: Talk-show host Diane Rehm is 79; senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer is 72; legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg is 71, and “Weekend Edition Saturday” host Scott Simon is a relative youngster at 63.

I enjoy 25-50 percent of the aforementioned hosts. It’s true, though, that when I go to a book-signing or other event that features a public radio-popular personality, I frequently feel like the youngest person there.

Any other bloggage? If you missed this, which someone posted in the comments last week, don’t. It’s good.

As is this companion piece. They’re both about people voting against their own interests, both absolutely worth your time.

Me, I’m off to tackle Monday.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media | 74 Comments


As it looks like we have another developing terrorism story abroad, and I know you’ll want to talk about it, I’ll keep this brief. No blog posted last night because I did The Most Detroit Thing Imaginable, i.e., attended a popup dinner thrown by an up-and-coming chef, in this case a Detroit sushi artist. The theme was a Japanese home-cooked fall meal. If you’re expecting the sushi rolls you buy at the grocery, no dice. There was a squash thing in a dashi stock, fried smelt and tofu with pickled onions, everything vinegar-y and tart. Then there was this:


Salmon in three states of curing — none, one-day, three-day. I’m sorry I didn’t get the picture before the wasabi doodle was smeared. As a pop-up is basically a religious ceremony, eating before one has done the traditional Photograpy of the Food is sort of like chewing your communion host. Trust: It was very good. And I ate the flower, too.

Then there was this:


Noodles with sea urchin and salmon roe, as rich as anything you might be served in Paris or New Orleans. Then a little dish of ice cream then home to an early bed, and– psyche! Of course we rolled into the Motor City Casino. But just for a nightcap, and I was in bed by 11.

Let’s all turn our gaze to Mali, and allow ourselves just this one glimmer of grim amusement, from our commander in chief, just four paragraphs, on his favorite Obama conspiracy theory, with a great walk-off quote.

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 8:35 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 65 Comments

Caught in the rain.

So today I awoke to an astonishing 57 degrees at 5:30 a.m. For November, that’s, well, astonishing. But then a front blew in and I walked to the parking garage in a driving rain. To wit:


I hope this isn’t the turning of my marvelous luck of late. I’m hoping it’s just a wet head.

So much has been going on the Syrian-refugee front, it’s hard to keep up. And it’s best I keep my mouth shut, as Michigan has been snatched up in this, and southeast Michigan in particular. So I’ll leave that to you people.

In the meantime, I leave you with an amusing column about Bobby Jindal, a great correction from the NYT (scroll to the bottom) and yet another suicide bombing. Because that’s the way of the world these days.

Let’s get through the end of the week, and keep your powder, and heads, dry.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments

The visitor.

Let’s make this a quick one today. I’m tired and need some light lifting. But I don’t want to let another day pass without showing you who stopped by Jeff TMM’s back yard a few days back:


I count eight points on that bad boy, how about you? A trophy on any hunter’s wall. But I’m rooting for him to make it through another season.

The other day I showed up for my Monday boxing class, and was the only one there. No biggie, it just means a private session with the trainer, always a good thing. Traffic was light on the way to work, at a time slot where it’s never light. And even Alan came home early on Monday, reporting that news didn’t happen because the auto plants were closed and everyone was on light duty. Why? Gun season opened over the weekend.

It’s a big deal in Michigan. In West Virginia, it’s a school holiday, or so I’m told.

What is there to report?

Charlie Sheen has HIV, and has spent millions, he says, keeping it quiet over the last four years. I guess it was to preserve his reputation, because it’s so sterling.

Ben Carson is hung out to dry by an advisor, quoted by name, in the New York Times. And what an advisor to choose in the first place. Later, doc.

Paris isn’t over, and now it’s Germany. Ai-yi-yi.

With that, let’s drag ourselves through hump day together.

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

Worth a listen.

Monday was the birthday twins’ special day, so Kate came home over the weekend to eat cake with her father. We drove her back on Sunday and ate at a fairly awful Chinese restaurant in Ann Arbor before dropping her at her dorm. But! It was a worthwhile experience, because we sat next to a table of athlete/frat bros, and eavesdropped shamelessly on their conversation, which ended up being about women, of course.

What women are 10s? they discussed. The main point of contention seemed to be whether Victoria’s Secret models were 10s by default, having been admitted to the most exalted realm of female pulchritude, or whether there were gradations of heat within the Victoria’s Secret pantheon.

“They’re, like, the primo examples of humanity,” one protested. Another was pickier. Heidi Klum, well past her VS years, was a permanent 10, a hall-of-fame 10, but the rest of them? They would have to apply one by one.

The Derringers sat with ears cocked like cocker spaniels, listening to this. The best entertainment is our fellow human beings.

Which is why today’s bloggage kicks off with examples of humanity at its most confounding, including a man who paid $718,000 to a series of psychics, because he was lonely:

He knew none of it made sense: He was a successful and well-traveled professional, with close to seven figures in the bank, and plans for much more. And then he gave it all away, more than $718,000, in chunks at a time, to two Manhattan psychics.

They vowed to reunite him with the woman he loved. Even after it was discovered that she was dead. There was the 80-mile bridge made of gold, the reincarnation portal.

“I just got sucked in,” the man, Niall Rice, said in a telephone interview last week from Los Angeles. “That’s what people don’t understand. ‘How can you fall for it?’”

This, on the other hand, is a scary-as-hell story about how life and law enforcement works in the Deep Souf’, and how it led to the death of a little boy in the proverbial hail of gunfire.

And with a shift, we pivot to a topic near and dear to my heart: The meeeeedia. Which, it would seem, is getting tired of being a punching bag. In three pieces:


There absolutely is room for debate about the proportionality of coverage of an incident like this compared to something like the Paris attacks that happened on Friday, but to say that the media don’t cover terrorism attacks outside of Europe is a lie.

They do.

But as anyone working in the news will tell you, if you look at your analytics, people don’t read them very much.


We live in a world now where no one wants to pay for news. Newspapers are struggling, and foreign bureaus have been shuttering for years. Many of the buzzy new media sites don’t have foreign bureaus or even much original reporting from overseas (with a handful of notable exceptions, and good on them). Publications are increasingly dependent on freelancers abroad, who do their work for low pay, with virtually no institutional resources behind them, often at significant personal risk. To suggest that “no one” is reporting on Beirut, on Garissa, on Baghdad is an affront and an insult to the great many professionals who put their lives in jeopardy to do just that.

We complain that we don’t see the reporting we want. But aside from an outraged Facebook status, many of us in the U.S. don’t actually seem to want the kind of reporting we claim to value — we’re overwhelmingly not paying to subscribe to the outlets that do good, in-depth reporting about places around the world. Aside from when tragedy strikes, we’re not sharing articles on Beirut or a city we’ve never heard of in Kenya nearly as often as many of us are sharing pieces about Paris, or even 10 Halloween Costumes for Feminist Cats.

And three:

Since college students are free to vent what they feel about the media, it’s only fair that the media return the favor.

So allow me, based, not on biases absorbed from my parents along with my Maypo, but on actual experience, teaching college courses, including one at Loyola.

College kids don’t know shit. The average college student couldn’t find his ass with both hands and a map. I once taught a journalism course for the State University of New York’s Maritime College. At the end of the final exam, I prefaced the extra credit questions with, “A journalist should have a rough idea of what is going on in the world.” One question was: “With the collapse of the Soviet Union, one Communist super power remains. What is it?” Some students guessed “Cuba.” Others, “Iraq.” Some didn’t even hazard an attempt.

That should give you enough to chew over for a Tuesday. Me, I’m back at work.

Posted at 12:36 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 68 Comments

A virus.

Like a lot of you, I have a love-hate relationship with social media — Instagram, Twitter, but mostly Facebook, which is the 900-pound gorilla of social media. Just when I think, hope, that Facebook has peaked and I can leave this party sooner rather than later, I see the referral traffic from Facebook for the publication I work for has only grown. For many people, Facebook is the main portal to the internet, how they get their news, how they communicate with friends far and near, an ever-changing TV channel tuned to You, starring Your Friends, reflecting Your Excellent Opinions. In my business, you can’t ignore that.

Things I love: Keeping up with all your vacations, meals, children, sunsets, etc. I genuinely enjoy these, because you people live lives far better and more fun than mine.

Things I hate: Seeing how the ever-running Facebook newscast of events like Friday’s go, because people? Y’all suck as editors. When bombs explode, when many people die, when we are shocked by breaking news, there seems to be a way these things unfold.

First, there’s the great Profile Pic Transformation. Once these were grassroots efforts, now they’re one-click deals offered by Facebook. Change your profile picture to the French tricolor. Change your profile pic to the gay-rights rainbow. Change your profile pic green (I think that was for the Arab spring). Or find an image of your own and change it to that. Why? To “support” the French, because apparently without this gesture, they might think the whole world is yawning over a rock club stacked deep with corpses. They might feel, y’know, unsupported.

Then the memes arrive, the quotes and jokes and zingers rendered in the display-size fonts, maybe with photos, suitable for sharing on your Facebook wall. Because my friend circle is lefty-heavy, I see these most often; they come from groups like Occupy Democrats and so forth, but I see them on the other side, too, from Tea Party Patriots, a group with an apparently limitless supply of eagle photos, always combined with their equally limitless supply of flag photos.

Then the inevitable grief-shaming starts. You can’t feel X about Y unless you also feel X about Z. It is accompanied by the bullshit, the clickbait stories that get hastily thrown up and turn out to be utterly wrong, but they’re satisfactory to read in some way: The refugee camp at Calais is burning, the Eiffel Tower has gone dark, etc., none of which happened. I used to make it a point to fact-check “news” stories people post that are total crapola, but stopped when most people either shrugged or otherwise said, “Eh, it’s still a good story.” And that is how Mitch Albom continues to thrive, year after year.

I believe facts matter, that emotions may be part of a story but should never be the whole part; there’s a reason the “how do you feel” question is the ultimate mocking reflection of (especially TV) clueless news gathering. But apparently I’m in a minority here.

But then, always, comes a story like this: A “mystery pianist” showed up at the site of the rock-club massacre to play John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Because isn’t that what the world needs now? To sit and imagine a world that not only will never come to pass, but probably shouldn’t, because what kind of world would it be without countries, religion, greed, hunger, the ideas of heaven and hell? I’ll tell you: Boring. Go get a lobotomy if that’s the world you really want, but I prefer the what’s-around-the-corner craziness of reality. But check out that pianist, or rather, who’s closest to him — photographers with expensive cameras, i.e, professionals. Behind them, the phones-held-high ranks of the hoi polloi, doubtless thinking, I can’t wait to post this on Facebook.

I don’t want to be cruel here. I know people do a lot of these things because they feel they have to do something, and sometimes this is all there is for an average person to do. For much of my career, when terrible news happens, I’ve been called to work. I’ve spent hours in newsrooms while terrible news clips played over and over on the TVs, and all around were editors and reporters, working the phones, tearing up pages, subbing in new photos and headlines. Action is a useful way to deal with the shock of shocking events, and getting a decent quote from some Mideast specialist to throw into a story about to leave the floor feels more useful than hitting a Share button.

But the term “slacktivism” exists for a reason, too. Hey, I support the French, too. (I better; I drink enough of their damn wine.) France, tell me what you need from me and I’ll do it if I can. I bet you need more than my face under the tricolor, but if that’s what you want, OK, sure. On the whole, though, I bet you’d rather I open another bottle of wine. Keep the economy going.

This, exactly.

Disclaimer: If you did the French-flag thing to your Facebook profile picture this weekend, of course I’m not talking about you. You are an angel.

I’d give you some bloggage, but there is so, so much to read at the moment, and many of you have been posting all weekend in the comments of the last post.

Don’t miss Charles Pierce, certainly.

When 9/11 happened, I said that it took some real balls to climb upon a pile of 3,000 corpses to flog your unrelated political opinions, but since then it’s a fairly regular occurrence, as Frank Bruni points out.

Not Paris-related, but something I meant to post last week but neglected to, in my fog of late-week fatigue: A look back at a 1988 Free Press profile of then-unknown Ben Carson. With links to the original piece. Enjoy.

And let’s hope for a less Facebook-worthy week, shall we?

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 64 Comments

Farewell, Carol DDoda.

I knew bringing up Missouri would put everybody in a testy mood, so instead, today, for Blessed Friday, let’s go in a different direction, and mourn Carol Doda, the now-departed former centerpiece of the Condor club in San Francisco. Tom Wolfe wrote an essay about her; she’s said to have invented the topless-entertainment dynamic. And now she has gone the way of all flesh, even flesh that’s had silicone directly injected into its breasts. (Shudder.)

It so happens Alan and I were just discussing her the other day; a local burlesque dancer I follow on Instagram was dancing at the Condor. The local dancer is Roxi D’lite, and she posts excellent cheesecake pictures every day or three, although she’s been a little scant this week. She was at the top of my feed when I opened it once, during a break in a staff meeting a few months ago. I think it was to this one:

One of my bosses was sitting next to me. Awk-ward.

So, with cheesecake, let’s go to some quick bloggage:

Neil Steinberg covers a speech by Caitlyn Jenner.

The poop swastika. It does exist.

And I’m outta gas. Don’t spend too much time with Roxi! See you after the weekend.

Posted at 12:28 am in Same ol' same ol' | 55 Comments