Shrinking pains.

My little narcissistic suburb is going through some agonies at the moment — falling enrollment in the schools, which leads to less state aid for education, which means schools operating well under capacity, which means schools closing. This is a community that Values Education, which means these decisions are Fraught With Drama, with lots of Impassioned Speeches at the Podium, etc.

Last night they voted to close two elementary schools and reconfigure middle school into a 5-8 arrangement. OMG THE DRAMA TODAY. But it made me think about my own schoolin’, way back when, and how it compares to the educational trends of today.

My high school class was around…750. Whew. Peak of the baby boom, 1957 was. We only had three grades in the building, so we’re talking over 2,000 kids under one roof. Nowadays that would be considered a warehouse, an abuse factory, a place where kids can’t get Personalized Attention and a Supportive Environment, but man, I loved it.

Two thousand kids in one building means you can find 20 or 30 who want to take Russian, and hire a teacher to take them through four years of it. Two thousand kids means one-English-class-fits-all ends in ninth grade and for the rest of your time there, you take one-semester classes that can pick up everyone from the dummies (Reading for Pleasure and Profit) to the smarties (20th Century Novel/Poetry/Drama, plus about a dozen more high-level electives). There was World History, European History, U.S. History, Ancient History. Math and science were similarly diversified.

The other great thing about a big school is, you can get lost in it. With every classroom in use every period, there was no study hall — we had “free periods” in which you could go to the library, the open cafeteria in a non-lunch period or to the smoking area. If you were Nancy, you might also slip away to the trouper deck in the auditorium, various janitorial supply rooms or my favorite — the room under the pool, where the pumps and barrels of chlorine powder were kept. There was a window there that let you observe the swimmers underwater, digging their suits out of their crotches after a feet-first landing off the high board. The janitor was very cool and let us sit with him. My friend Jeff, a gay misfit, was a genius at finding these secret spaces. We spent a lot of time in them.

When I went to college, I found it no harder than senior year, and a lot more interesting.

I guess my point is, if your parents are on the job and your teachers aren’t total idiots, things tend to work out, no matter what your brick-and-mortar setup is. Also, schools in that period had not yet been defunded and charter-ized and otherwise manipulated by yokel legislators. Although they certainly were during Kate’s public-school years, and somehow she got through OK.

Might have been one of the lucky ones, I fully acknowledge. Probably was.

So, Wednesday dead ahead. I’d post links, but I’m tired and as we all know by now, anything I post today will be outdated in four hours. So enjoy your Wednesday, and let’s see each other going on Friday.

Posted at 9:41 pm in Uncategorized | 30 Comments
 

Of course he did it.

I see you guys pounced on the Carroll story, as I figured you would. I wish I could say I was surprised by the reaction, but I’m not, not at this point, anyway. And the reaction? At least on social media, it boils down to a few main themes:

1) It’s entirely made up by a crazy woman to sell books, I guess because it’s so much fun to interrupt your career as a successful writer to have people sending you death threats.
2) It never happened because she’s so old and ugly. That it happened 20 years ago is still incomprehensible to these people, because she was 52 at the time, and 52? OMG gross, etc. That was even older than Trump at the time, and anyway…
3) …he has a type, and you’re not it, you crazy lying attention-starved crone. That E. Jean Carroll was once young and lovely, and middle-aged and still lovely, is too hard for them to understand, so they have to default to her not being a Trump Type, i.e., Melania/Ivanka/Lara/Kimberly Guilfoyle/Hope Hicks, et al, i.e., long legs and big fake tits and barrel-curled hair.
4) Maybe something happened, but not like that. This last was a one-off, admittedly; I read one comment from an incel who suggested that what really happened was, she actually tried on the lingerie and modeled it for him, capping it off with “probably the last time she was able to have natural lubrication,” which is how I know this guy must be an incel.
5) I’ve been to Bergdorf Goodman, and based on this knowledge I am certain there is no way they could have been alone in the lingerie department. I imagine these people are the ones who examine satellite images of FEMA death camps and blueprints of Comet Ping Pong to find the hidden child-trafficking sex dens.
6) Finally, where’s the evidence, bitch? Because of course a department store keeps tapes — and they would have been tapes, then — of its fitting-room cameras for 20-plus years. And so on.

For the record, I believe her. Because:

1) This fits a pattern, well-established by now and testified to by a couple dozen women — the abrupt push against a wall, the forceful kissing, the fumbling.
2) He grabbed her you-know-what. He’s said he likes to do that.
3) He’s impressed by people who are on TV; that’s how he recognized her.
4) He told her, “you’re in good shape,” more or less precisely what he told the French first lady on one of their meetings. It seems to be how he expresses amazement that a woman older than the man she’s with might actually be appealing.

As for her old-ass looks — ooh, gross! a woman over FIFTY? — not only is E. Jean Carroll still quite striking, in her youth she was — and I have this on good authority — an absolute knockout. Tall, slim, beautiful.

You know what? Fuck this guy, and fuck all the guys who defend him, and then set fire to the whole pile of them. The fat between their ears should make for a nice blaze. Reading that article ruined my Friday afternoon. I was in a bad mood for hours. A beautiful young girl got on the #31 a few stops after me that morning, and I got to watch the so-called male gaze, as many turned to look at her as she passed. That’s never a good feeling to be on the opposite end of, and not much fun to watch. I know men will always look — it’s their nature — but it’s one thing to shift your eyes, and quite another to turn your head and bug out your eyes like something in a Tex Avery cartoon. Practice the first kind.

Palate-cleanser: I got my hair cut this weekend, and as I came in, a man was checking out with two exquisitely groomed standard poodles, both white. Neither had the full Westminster Kennel Club clip with the strategically placed little balls, but they looked like they got their hair did about every five minutes. I petted one, and he left. Asked my stylist what-the, as the salon only handles human heads. She said he comes in every few weeks with both dogs. For a pedicure, or rather, to have their nails painted. No, I didn’t notice the color.

I’m reading a wonderful novel now, too — “Fleishman is in Trouble,” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, an NYT magazine staff writer, and one of those bylines I always turn to with pleasure. It’s fantastic, but I’m not done yet. A fuller review when I am, but if you’re looking for something to read on vacation, you won’t be disappointed.

It’s been a lovely weekend, but it’s coming to an end. Time to start thinking about children in concentration camps again. Not to bum you out.

Posted at 6:55 pm in Current events, Media | 63 Comments
 

A half-dozen items in search of a blog.

My god, when was I here last? Sunday? Now it’s Thursday. It was…a week. A few snapshots from it:

1) I’ve been trying to take the bus as often as possible this summer. Saves on parking, saves on gas, saves on peace of mind when I can spend the ride reading or relaxing or doing anything other than gripping the wheel and getting driver’s blood pressure. I generally ride the Detroit city bus coming in and take the suburban system home. There are differences.

The Detroit bus fills up about halfway to downtown. It is hardly ever not full, no matter when I take it. And it is overwhelmingly full of people wearing the polo shirts of various downtown restaurants, or otherwise dressed like people who have to take the bus because they don’t have a choice. The suburban bus is never more than half full, going home. The Detroit bus often features…conflict. Last week, two men yelled at each other for a few blocks, making less and less sense until one shouted, IF THERE’S ONE THING I CAN’T STAND IT’S A DOPE FIEND and the other one shouted back ME TOO and then the argument was over, just like that. It’s good when we can all come together and agree on something.

I’m going to write an epic poem at the end of the warm season, all about DDOT bus #31. I’ll call it “#31.”

2) One day I didn’t drive, because I had to go up to Bloomfield Hills for lunch. It would take, literally, six hours to get to where I needed to go via bus, so I drove. Bloomfield Hills is a wealthy area, and I drove past strip malls of boutiques, specialty groceries and high-end chain stores, because god forbid you do yoga in stretchy pants from Target — they have to cost $90 and come from Lululemon. Beautiful late-model cars glided past in oncoming traffic. If I hadn’t been expected at lunch, I might have stopped at one deli my boss is always raving about. It’s very good, but a tuna sandwich costs $14.

Later that day, the freeway was clogged, and I drove home from downtown on surface streets, along my bus route, some of the poorest neighborhoods of the city. It was…a contrast, shall we say. Nothing like a big city to give you a constant slide show of drama.

3) Here’s a police brief from my community:

4) Here’s a headline from Detroit:

5) Are we going to war with Iran this week? Anyone know?

6) This is old news by now, but check out the pictures and consider: This photographer did his job while a gunman was shooting at him. #EnemyOfThePeople, right?

Into the weekend we lurch. Stay on your feet, people. You never know what’s going to happen.

Posted at 9:58 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 28 Comments
 

Too much about vacuums.

A productive weekend, all things considered. Nothing like all-weekend clouds and rain to get your errands run. Grocery, dry cleaner, drugstore and — because the weather was at least warmish on Saturday — a bicycle run to handle those chores that never seem to get done, like a stop at the vacuum store to get bags. I got two packages of three, which means I won’t have to do this one again for quite some time, nor make small talk about my Kenmore vacuum, and the declining quality of the old Sears brands.

I also started a new novel — about which I’ll have more to say, once I finish it, but it was written by an infrequent member of our commenting community — and did some yoga on the bedroom floor. Got up covered with dog hair, so I vacuumed, but with the upstairs vacuum, which doesn’t use bags (a Dyson, bought secondhand, and a steal).

Why not take the upstairs vacuum downstairs, you might ask? Because I like the downstairs vacuum, too, and it’s kinda heavy, so a pain to lug up and down the stairs. When a friend offered to sell me her recently restored super-lightweight Dyson for a very good price, well, no-brainer. My upstairs rugs are cleaner than ever, but I still have a dog that sheds.

I live in a community where people have second-floor laundry rooms, master suites with wet bars and fireplaces, spare bedrooms converted into closets with dress forms to rehearse outfit combinations and all sorts of luxury foofrahs. I refuse to feel guilty for having two vacuums.

(Jeff Borden has a bedroom-turned-closet, said the tattletale. He calls it “Imelda’s Room,” and I totally approve. They don’t have kids, and when you can see everything you own, clothing-wise, you get more wear out of it.)

In a while I will finish this blog and paint my toenails, and my weekend chore list will be over. I just got a call from a pollster, testing my attitude toward the 2020 U.S. Senate race here, as well as the presidency. I portrayed myself as an independent of moderate political attitudes who wants Joe Biden to reconsider how he wants tp spend the latter years of his eighth decade.

(Now Wendy, sleeping next to me, is having a dream. Her hackles are raised, and she is wagging her tail furiously. This must be some kinda dream. Maybe a pollster called her subconscious.)

So on to bloggage, so I can get back to my book:

I’m not a fan of online video, but in 60 seconds, you can learn everything you need to know about Marianne Williamson. And then never think about her again.

Starts strong, finishes weak, but if you like snark: The Man Who Was Upset, an essay about oh-god-of-course-you-know-who:

The thing about impressiveness, however, is that it resides entirely in the eye of the beholder—and in Trump’s case, he typically invokes it in a crass gambit to annex and manipulate the inner workings of that beholder’s eye and generate maximum ego-gratification for himself. As with most things Trump-related, the form that this ascriptive impressiveness takes can be mapped with laughable ease over whatever failing he is most keen to conceal at that moment. When his marriage was falling apart on the front pages of New York City tabloids, Trump called the editor of the New York Post to vouch, on behalf of his then-girlfriend Marla Maples, that “Marla says with me it’s the best sex she’s ever had.” During his years in the cultural wilderness, Trump reportedly made it a stipulation for film productions that wished to shoot in the properties that he owned that there be a scene in which Trump himself appeared. “Martin Brest had to write something in Scent of a Woman,” Matt Damon told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “And the whole crew was in on it. You have to waste an hour of your day with a bullshit shot. Donald Trump walks in and Al Pacino’s like, ‘Hello, Mr. Trump!’—you had to call him by name—and then he exits.”


In 1991, as his divorce and a series of pyrotechnically misconceived business ventures ushered in the beginning of his long tour through our popular culture as an overleveraged punch line, Trump went ahead and just spelled his super-hero aspirations out. The story Trump told the New York Daily News was this: While driving to a Paula Abdul concert in New Jersey with Maples and another couple, Trump had seen “a big man with a big bat” committing a “brutal-looking” mugging. In Trump’s telling, he ordered his limo driver to stop and got out of the vehicle. “The guy with the bat looked at me, and I said, ‘Look, you’ve gotta stop this. Put down the bat,’“ Trump told the Daily News. “I guess he recognized me because he said, ‘Mr. Trump, I didn’t do anything wrong.’ I said, ‘How could you not do anything wrong when you’re whacking a guy with a bat?’ Then he ran away.”

How does a 25-year-old hairstylist clear a quarter-mil a year? This way. I respect the guy; I certainly wouldn’t pay $2,000 for hair extensions, but someone will, and he’s found enough to make it work for him. But this line blew me away:

He studied at Paul Mitchell The School in Sterling Heights on Van Dyke Avenue, near 18 Mile Road. It was about $22,000 total in 2011 for a 10-month program, he said.

That’s cosmetology school, mind you. He started out making $30,000 a year, and I’ll bet almost all of his classmates never go all that much higher. Talk about highway robbery.

Happy week ahead, all. Off to paint my nails.

Posted at 4:23 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 62 Comments
 

The gang will all be here.

Because I know you’ve all been on pins and needles: The battery surgery was a resounding success, in fact, quite simple. Made all that running around after a professional fix pretty stupid, in hindsight. Yesterday and today I am calibrating the new battery, which means I let it run all the way down and charge it all the way up, and then it’s more or less broken in.

Current status: 24 percent, running down steadily. Let’s hope it continues.

How’s your crazy life at midweek? We learned today that the DNC debate here next month — July 30-31 — will have a complement of 20 count ’em 20 candidates. And they are, via USA Today to the Freep to Deadline Detroit:

(Those meeting both the 1 percent-polling and 65,000-individual-donors thresholds are) former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; entrepreneur Andrew Yang of New York; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; former HUD Secretary Julian Castro of Texas; Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, and activist Marianne Williamson.

In addition, Politico reported that that seven other candidates have met the 1 percent polling threshold:

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.

Marianne Williamson? Andrew Yang? Eric Swalwell? What a field. I’m assuming most will be gone by Christmas, but in the meantime, it’ll be one wacky two-day spell in the D later this summer.

Trying to think of some story ideas around that now. I keep coming back to: Get Bernie Sanders to the Old Miami. (It’s a bar near Wayne State with a big back yard.)

Are bar yards a thing where you are? It’s weird — lots and lots of bars here have them, and I’m not talking about patios, but back-yard hangout spaces, and they predate the smoking ban, so I’m not sure why that is. In nice weather, they’re glorious; the best ones aren’t really “developed” in the traditional sense of having service or anything — just a couple of picnic tables to sit at if you’re so inclined, and just get away from the hurly-burly inside. Although some are quite large, and clustered seating areas tend to happen. Like at the Old Miami. I think Bernie should go there and declaim, see who gathers round.

So, some quick bloggage? Whatever:

Arizona jury hangs rather than convict a teacher accused of giving water, food and lodging to two migrants illegally crossing the border. Interesting.

A tiny crack in the wall of I CAN’T HEAR YOU NAH NAH NAH:

Listen, I don’t have any use for either Donny or Bette. I don’t agree with their politics, I have always been confused at their relative popularity and celebrity status, and don’t doubt for a second that they were unfairly criticizing the president before he retaliated on Twitter.

But none of that justifies the President of the United States of America using his unrivaled platform and bully pulpit to…well…bully American citizens who may disagree with him. When has that ever been okay? I am firmly of the belief that President Obama stoked an immense amount of division needlessly during his time in office, and have even written recently that our only hope of unity in this country requires that he go away.

But President Obama was not rage-tweeting in the wee hours of the morning, calling his critics “total losers” and “washed up psychos” from his official platform. If he had, the right would have rightly condemned him for violating decency norms and the standard expectations of dignity for those holding the office of President. It disappoints me beyond words to see so many of those same folks actually enjoying and applauding President Trump’s decimation of those norms and expectations all in the name of political payback.

Cry me a river, dumbass. You made this bed. Lie in it. “Firmly of the belief,” are you? Tough.

Finally, influencers! The wacky things they do:

With that, I’m off to attack Wednesday. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 9:35 pm in Detroit life | 66 Comments
 

Sunny skies, few clouds.

A delightful last few days and I refuse to let anything harsh my mellow — dinner with friends three nights running, people I like and don’t see often enough. There’s very little that is more restorative, made more so by the dawning realization, as life goes on, that it won’t last forever.

That’s not a cryptic note that I’m dying or anything, just a generalized observation that in the grand scheme of things, we all are.

The lovely weather helped. Motor City Pride ran all weekend, and on Saturday, a small group of Nazis marched past Hart Plaza, surrounded by Detroit police. This led to the usual outrage about police “helping” them somehow, although the alternative — five Nazis march and are stomped by 100 angry counter-protestors — would have been far worse. These folks know exactly what they’re doing and depend on the police to keep them safe in the bargain. They work the system. The system is available to be worked.

In my happy glow, I have only two pieces to recommend, both stone bummers, sorry — this one on how a so-called incel spiraled down into perpetrating a mass shooting, and this one on the radicalization of a similarly rootless young man, via YouTube. And justlikethat, the once-promising technology of the future turns out to be a perfect reflection of our worst selves.

Right now, though, I’m going to turn the laptop over to Alan for the previously discussed battery surgery. Fingers crossed that when the blog comes back, it’ll be on this machine.

Posted at 6:12 pm in Detroit life | 41 Comments
 

Royalty and the family.

Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been approximately 45 years since my last confession. Um…I forget the rest, but here’s the deal:

I AM FINDING IT SO VERY, VERY HARD NOT TO SAY MEAN THINGS ABOUT TIFFANY TRUMP, AND ALSO IVANKA AND MELANIA.

I was inclined to cut Tiff a break, but seeing her lined up with the rest of the gang before the state dinner at Buckingham Palace about made me blow a gasket. I was googling for a particular photo, and came across this slideshow (Daily Mail link, be forewarned!!!) of Tiffany “showing off her curves” in a swimsuit, which is apparently British tab-speak for “has gained 40 pounds since last we saw her.” This made me feel bad, then good, because one of the pictures in this insanely big gallery (80-some frames) is of her hair extensions revealing themselves, and while it’s bad to fat-shame women, we still can surely still extension-shame them.

Another question: Is white the protocol color of choice for women attending a state dinner with the queen? Melania wore white, as did Cathy Cambridge and Lilibet herself. Then I went googling for past photos, and found one of Michelle Obama wearing white in the same venue, but also black, so I was confused. Then I rabbit-holed down a bunch of angry tweets from conservatives, yelling about Trump-haters daring to abuse Tiffany, who after all keeps herself out of the family business, except when she doesn’t, like when there’s a chance to have dinner with the queen. Most of the Tiffany abuse wasn’t particularly abusive, at least not compared to the conservative comments about Mrs. Obama, which concerned deep analysis of her trapezius muscles, vis-a-vis their long-held belief that Michelle Obama was born a genetic male.

For the record: Melania’s state-dinner dress was nice, Ivanka’s was weird, Tiffany’s was tragic, Lara’s was bleh. Lucky Barron got the night off, for once.

Also, I’m not 100 percent down with the Maggie Haberman-hate that rains down every time she files, but man — pieces like this make it hard:

On this visit, another family opportunity surfaced: The Kennedys have long occupied the American political culture as the unofficial royal family, but this week, the Trumps appeared to present themselves as the 2019 version.

“He’s surrounding himself with his family in this kind of certainly royal family, prince-and-princesses way,” Gwenda Blair, the author of “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire,” said in an interview. “Just as traditionally crowned heads surrounded themselves with their progeny, he has surrounded himself with his progeny.”

Read it closely, and its claims are held at arms’ length: “appears to present themselves,” etc. But that quote!

Anyway, they’re all back stateside by now, and thank God for that. Camilla was positively dying for a download with a chum and a double gin, you could just tell.

I hope I live to see Charles’ coronation, whenever that happens, should it happen. Camilla is my second-favorite royal, world division. (First is Princess Charlene of Monaco, of course.) Her motto: Whatever “Living is the best revenge” translates to in Latin.

OK, then. Wednesday approaches. My ass is beaten to a pulp by seasonal allergies this week, but I’m carrying on. A note to Brian Stouder: I’m glad you enjoyed the Grand Prix, but be advised, there is a loud and growing group of locals who absolutely HATE it. Not the race itself so much as the set-up and tear-down, which takes one-third of a state park, the city’s best and most unique, out of commission for more than two months, in high season. It’s pretty appalling, but never you mind that. You had fun, and that’s a good thing.

Posted at 6:23 pm in Current events | 84 Comments
 

Ducking (responsibility), goosing (geese).

I didn’t have a terrible week, but much of it went like this:

The battery in my computer has been in failure mode for a while, with “a while” = “a year.” Finally took it to the Genius Bar and the genius told me sure, they could replace it, but it would have to be shipped elsewhere, because they don’t do that in-house, and with shipping/repair time, I could expect it back in 10 days.

“That’s out of the question,” I said flatly. I use my computer for hours, every day that I work and for an hour or two every day that I don’t work. With no two-week vacations coming up, sorry, a non-starter. A battery replacement ought to be simple; you can’t do it while I wait? Even with an appointment? Nope, sorry, the genius said. “But Micro Center might,” he added, proving his bona fides as a genius. “Try them.”

So I called Micro Center, described my problem, and they said sure, they kept those batteries in stock, and if I showed up very first thing when they opened, they’d do it while I wait. Excellent.

So a few more weeks go by, and there’s a day on my schedule when no dogs are barking for my ass, so I get up and head across town to Micro Center — because of course it’s across town, because nothing I need is on the east side — and am there, as instructed, bright and early at 10 a.m.

I’m first in line at the repair counter. You know what’s coming next, right?

“We can’t do that,” I’m told. “Apple won’t let us work on anything newer than a 2011 model.”

“They literally told me to come here,” I said, using that word correctly in a sentence. “They looked at it, diagnosed the problem” — that’s another Genius Bar rant, how you come in knowing exactly what the problem is, and tell them so, and they run all their diagnostics and tell you to your face, without a hint of irony, what you just told them, in your exact words — “and told me to come here. What’s more, the person who answered your phone when I called said you could do it while I waited, if I came first thing in the morning.”

I didn’t add a second “literally,” but probably could have. The guy was just a serf. He didn’t deserve it.

“Well, that person was wrong,” he said. “We can’t fix it.”

Plan C: Alan and his fearlessness in the face of complex repair problems, as long as there are YouTube tutorials (there are) and Amazon carries the parts (they do). He is my all-purpose Genius Bar.

Also, I hate — and by “hate” I mean with the white-hot fury of 10 million suns — dealing with any Silicon Valley- or tech-based company. I know I’m going to have a ram-butting-heads thing with Hulu next week when “The Handmaids Tale” starts, and it’s going to be ugly.

I took the long way back to the office Friday morning, and took some pictures of Detroit blight for our photo bank. Here’s one:

Also rolled through a squatters’ community that appears well-established in this neighborhood. As you can see: Lots of fixer-uppers.

The lovely weather helped my mood immensely, and it turned out to be an OK Friday. Got some good news about a friend, and even this situation ended about as well as could be expected:

This little goose family was on the sidewalk, attempting to cross Woodward Avenue. They’re blocks from any sort of sustaining habitat, but there was no way I or anyone else could herd them down to the river without a hell of a lot of backup.

But I figured I could save them from getting hit by the light rail if I got them into Campus Martius Park, where maybe they could chill until a quieter hour. So I and a couple other animal lovers made a team and got them into the park and beyond the border hedge.

After which I went to work. Good times.

Do note that blue scooter in the photo. This is the latest entry in the scooter market in Detroit, the fourth company to make these grab-and-go conveyances available. I shudder to think what a bunch of half-in-the-bag bros can do on a few of these. I just hope I’m not there to see it.

No links today, except for this one. Mostly for the picture. Sigh.

Have a good week, all.

Posted at 12:51 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments
 

Long weekend.

Ah, a long weekend to start the season that’s always too short. Fitting.

So far it’s been pretty great. I haven’t done much — errands, shopping, a Movement party, “Booksmart” and still a fair amount of time to relax and finally make some progress in “Streets of Laredo,” which is my bedside read, put aside time and again for other stuff. To be sure, it’s only taken Larry McMurtry 225 pages to really get the plot moving, but it’s moving for sure now, and I’m less inclined to put it down after a page or two because my eyelids are so, so heavy.

In a while, I’m going to do some food prep and then a bike ride. Reading for pleasure is deeply calming, and I need to do more of it. Reason No. 2 billion to despise the commander-in-chief.

By the way, it’s Memorial Day — has he pardoned any war criminals yet?

And yes, Memorial Day. That’s also a good reason to stay off social media. Never mind the confusion with Veterans Day (M-Day is for the dead, V-Day for the still-standing), it’s the memes — those thanking the ones who died “so we could be free.” By my reckoning, WWII was the last war fought for our freedom. I guess “our” could encompass a lot more than Americans, however, so OK, I’m not going to quibble. And I guess the dead are still dead. But holidays are funny; what’s supposed to be solemn is more often a good day to go water skiing, but then again, what is freedom for, if not for choosing to go water skiing?

Actually, the reading-for-pleasure part of the weekend has convinced me that I simply HAVE to put up better barriers in my personal time. It’s a mental-health thing. Every time I open my eyes and see something like this?

One of the best-known but least visible former members of President Trump’s White House staff is facing an existential question: whether to comply with a congressional subpoena in the coming weeks.

My head threatens to explode.

The person in question is Hope Hicks. I did not know that complying with a subpoena was a choice, let alone an existential one. There are legal strategies to fight a subpoena, to be sure, but the question of compliance isn’t an existential question. And the picture! Oh my god. As someone on Twitter remarked, she’s a former assistant to the president, not a moody singer/songwriter with an album called “My Truth” dropping on Tuesday.

Of course, what this tells us is, Hope Hicks has been a very good source for Maggie Haberman, and a soft kiss on the cheek like this — known as a “beat sweetener” — is delivered in the hopes she will remain so. But now we have the New York Times noting casually that compliance with a subpoena is a fucking existential question, and so our democracy degrades just a little bit more.

I can already feel my shoulders tightening. Need to not let that happen anymore. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining and I should be on my bike. Think that’s what I’ll do.

Posted at 11:09 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments
 

Bad people.

For the years I lived in Fort Wayne, the abortion clinic was across the street from the library. They only did procedures one day a week, and every week, the anti faction would come down and picket them, in a variety of ways.

Operation Rescue had their moment, when some dipshit preacher was leading the flock. I watched a woman come thisclose to having her hand crushed by a police horse at one of their demonstrations. Later, they settled for the usual posters and “counseling” as women approached the clinic. Thursday was procedure day, and I often had Kate with me when I visited for story time or just another couple of hours whiled away with her. She liked the puzzles and the board books and other amenities of the library, including the big globe.

I disliked leaving with her in the car seat, while these people waved bloody pictures at passing motorists. I always pointed to something of interest on the other side of the street until we were past.

Seriously, is anyone’s mind changed by these tactics? It’s intellectual trench warfare at best, cruel harassment at worst.

Recently this woman, a state senator from the other side of the state, piped up:

Tuesday, when the proposed (later-term abortion) ban finally came to a vote, LaSata’s impatience with all those godless medical experts finally got the better of her.

“Of course it should be hard!” the senator from St. Joseph exclaimed. “And the procedure should be painful! And you should allow God to take over!! And you should deliver that baby!”

…LaSata told colleagues she had delivered a stillborn baby after her own D&E procedure went awry. LaSata cited her traumatic experience as evidence “of God looking out for me,” and suggested that all women carrying medically unviable fetuses would be better off delivering their babies.

A real mind-changer, that one. I still put the over/under on POTUS’ financed abortions at five, and I’ll take the over. We know he enjoys unprotected sex with women he associates with sex — porn actors, Playmates — and there is zero doubt in my mind that he’s paid for more than a few, necessitated by his own behavior.

Of course, the abortion bills all were rammed through last week, and now we’ve moved on to a new outrage, so it all seems so, so far away. Ben Carson’s Oreo thing, another White House tantrum, whatever else happens by noon tomorrow. I notice that when Carson needed to explain not knowing what an REO is, he went on Fox Business. As insane as Fox Original Recipe is, Fox Business is 10 times crazier. Oh, and if you were wondering? He was having trouble hearing.

I see.

We’re approaching payoff on our house — down to a moderately priced Cadillac — and if all goes well (a huge if) we should be slide into retirement with that off our plates. Thank God, as the world migrates to the world’s cities. (And our cities in the Midwest? We have WATER.) This was an interesting piece on what’s become of San Francisco:

For decades, this coruscating city of hills, bordered by water on three sides, was a beloved haven for reinvention, a refuge for immigrants, bohemians, artists and outcasts. It was the great American romantic city, the Paris of the West.

No longer. In a time of scarce consensus, everyone agrees that something has rotted in San Francisco.

Conservatives have long loathed it as the axis of liberal politics and political correctness, but now progressives are carping, too. They mourn it for what has been lost, a city that long welcomed everyone and has been altered by an earthquake of wealth. It is a place that people disparage constantly, especially residents.

Real estate is the nation’s costliest. Listings read like typos, a median $1.6 million for a single-family home and $3,700 monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

Kate applied for a job in San Francisco, which she didn’t get. The top of the salary range was $65,000. “I’ll be so rich,” she said. Um, no. You’ll be commuting an hour on the BART, or living in an apartment with three other people.

This piece was interesting, too, although I think the headline was bullshit: America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals. California may be a case apart, but this is undeniably true:

There are many threads in the story of America’s increasingly unlivable cities. One continuing tragedy is the decimation of local media and the rise of nationalized politics in its place. In America the “local” problems plaguing cities are systematically sidelined by the structure of the national media and government, in which the presidency, the Senate and the Supreme Court are all constitutionally tilted in favor of places where no one lives. (There are more than twice as many people in my midsize suburban county, Santa Clara, as there are in the entire state of North Dakota, with its two United States senators.)

That’s why, aside from Elizabeth Warren — who has a plan for housing, as she has a plan for everything — Democrats on the 2020 presidential trail rarely mention their ideas for housing affordability, an issue eating American cities alive. I watched Joe Biden’s campaign kick off the other day; the only house he mentioned was the White House.

Anyway, stuff to think about as we head into a holiday weekend. Hope to be back before it commences.

Posted at 9:22 pm in Current events | 62 Comments