Time runs in one direction.

Before the rainbows fade or are pushed aside by the next news event coming down the pike, I have to spare a moment more for the people who are so unhinged by the SSM decision. I always ask, what do they want? And every so often one will answer, in so many words: For homosexuals (because it’s always “homosexuals,” never “gay” or “LGBT”) to just go away. Back into the closets, the bars, the bearded marriages, the three-martini cocktail hours and all the rest of it.

How can they not see it? The world never runs that way. Well, let them yearn.

All-lite bloggage today, because why not:

I’ve said before that Reductress is the Onion of women’s magazines, and here you go: This beautiful destination wedding really inconvenienced everyone.

Guests were told to come “dressed to impress,” looking sleek and sharp in their black tie attire at the base of the mountain, though many became noticeably fatigued and regretful of their footwear choices as they hiked up to the ceremony site.

“I shouldn’t be doing this at my age,” said the groom’s grandmother at the beginning of the ascent. “I’ll be lucky if I don’t collapse a lung.” She did, in fact, collapse both lungs.

“We miss her dearly,” says the groom now, looking at a framed picture of his grandmother. “But she died doing what she loved: watching me get married.”

One of the trainers at my gym got married at a five-star resort in the Dominican Republic. I’m sure it was a lovely ceremony.

Hey, e’ry body, watch this: The first fireworks casualty of the season. (OK, so not lite, but funny in a newspaper-y sort of way.

Martin Scorsese talks about “The Third Man,” one of my favorite movies.

Another damn basement hog in Detroit! (OK, Highland Park. Practically Detroit.) Three makes a trend, so I’m waiting.

Posted at 12:07 am in Current events | 28 Comments
 

We’re gonna need a bigger news hole.

Friday night is traditionally cocktails-with-friends night, and last week’s debrief took place at St. Cece’s, which used to be a bad Irish bar/restaurant and is now a much better one, not Irish anymore but with all the decor left mainly untouched.

Everyone was sitting outside, summer being short and this summer particularly so. We sat inside.

Of course, topic one was SCOTUS, followed immediately by the president’s eulogy in Charleston. I said there what I said in the comments Friday, that this is truly an extraordinary presidency, one I don’t expect to see again in my lifetime. If you missed the speech, I urge you to look it up online and watch it. First, you might find it helpful to read James Fallows’ analysis. That’s because the speech is so good you’re going to want to just let it wash over you, and knowing why it’s so good will help you appreciate it so much more:

Here are the three rhetorical aspects of the speech that I think made it more artful as a beginning-to-end composition than any of his other presentations:

— The choice of grace as the unifying theme, which by the standards of political speeches qualifies as a stroke of genius.

— The shifting registers in which Obama spoke—by which I mean “black” versus “white” modes of speech—and the accompanying deliberate shifts in shadings of the word we.

— The start-to-end framing of his remarks as religious, and explicitly Christian, and often African-American Christian, which allowed him to present political points in an unexpected way.

I’ve noticed something over the weekend; I’m not hearing much discussion of this from the usual suspects who bemoan the lack of religion in daily life. Rod Dreher, as previously noted, it having a nelly-ass meltdown over same-sex marriage, and the coming purge of Christians he is dead-set convinced is going to happen ANY MINUTE NOW. I won’t link to a specific post. You can just hit the home page and scroll.

Pretty much everyone, from right to left, is melting down in one way or another over SSM. It is a big, big moment in our history, a real arc-of-justice thing, so I totally understand. This was the other big topic at Friday cocktails, and for once, I don’t think I have to give you a linkage roundup, although I thought this column, by the Freep’s consistently excellent Brian Dickerson, was, yes, excellent. It’s about an estranged gay partner who had the misfortune to have her custody battle in recent years, when she was a legal non-entity in the lives of three children she helped raise for a decade. It’s moving and sad, and when you contrast her story with Dreher’s chicken-littling, it’s even more so.

(Oh, and I don’t know if you’ll get the same autoplaying ad on the autoplaying video that I did, but man, it’s fucking weird — a “Michigan Celebrates Marriage” campaign from the Catholic church, of all entities. Horrifying bad taste, considering the circumstances, if you ask me.)

The above got us through two rounds of drinks, and then someone checked Twitter, and it was all about the hog story, a real OID about a guy who died — not in his own house, but nearby, very OID — and a couple days later the cops get a call that there’s a live pig in the guy’s basement, who’s allegedly been surviving on human remains. That last part turned out to be b.s., but the pig was very real, a female living up to her hocks in her own shit. Poor piggy! And when the cops got there, it turned out the steps to the basement were missing, because of course they were. So there was a several hours-long situation, with neighbors gathering at the yellow tape line and everybody joking about barbecue.

We talked about dropping by, maybe with a six-pack or something, but then they somehow fashioned a ramp that the pig found agreeable, and she was free. She’s going to a shelter or sanctuary or something, and as long as she doesn’t have any serious medical conditions, she’ll be living out her days there. Thank god, because that pig earned her some retirement.

More happened over the weekend, but let’s save something for the rest of the week. Lord knows what it’ll be like. (The prison breakout story is already wrapping up.) Let’s hope for the best.

Posted at 12:26 am in Current events | 41 Comments
 

Overcast.

Coolish, cloudyish, sort of an -ish day. But a good one. I spent it in shorts and a T-shirt, watching the SCOTUS reaction and reading about sexual assault at the University of Michigan. Among other things. Stirring the noodles, planning the rest of the summer.

Reading stories I find infuriating:

Marquette has been hit hard by a tactic that the country’s biggest retailers are using to slash their property taxes. Known as the “dark store” method, it exemplifies the systematic way that these chains extract money from local governments. It’s also the latest example of the way that, even as local governments across the country continue to bend over backwards to attract and accommodate big-box development, these stores are consistently a terrible deal for the towns and cities where they locate.

Marquette is one of the countless places that has bought into big-box economic development. Over the years, the township in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan spent millions extending water mains, law enforcement, and other infrastructure and services to its big-box commercial corridor along U.S. 41. When the Lowe’s opened there in 2008, local officials including the mayor turned out for a “board-cutting” ceremony—the home improvement center version of a ribbon-cutting.

Then, less than two years later, Lowe’s flipped the script. The mega-retailer, which reports annual net sales of about $50 billion, went to tax court to appeal its property tax assessment. Marquette had pegged the taxable value of the store, which had just been built for $10 million, at $5.2 million. In front of the Michigan Tax Tribunal, an administrative court whose members are appointed by the state governor, Lowe’s won assessments that were, instead, $2.4 million in 2010, $2 million in 2011, and $1.5 million in 2012.

It goes on. It gets more infuriating. Read, because it’s probably happening where you are.

Reading stories that should be news, but aren’t anymore: The Romeo Observer, a weekly newspaper, is folding. Tragedy, right? I learned about this via the Facebook page of a Republican consultant I connected with when I wrote a different story. His take:

I have never rejoiced at the demise of a newspaper, until today. Good riddance to the flea-bitten Romeo Observer and its cranky luddite Editor and Publisher Melvin Bleich. In the article proclaiming its own demise, the Observer attributed its downfall to “the internet.” Bleich hated technology. He refused my press releases releases sent via fax, and then later by email. He once told me, in the most caustic possible way, that he would only accept press releases via the postal service or by hand. So, thank you internet for righteously claiming this most worthy of victims in your relentless drive to actually inform people in a timely fashion!

There are Luddites, and there are Luddites. Hilarious. We once had a stringer in Fort Wayne, a man in his 80s, who would send in his dispatches typed on onionskin paper, in envelopes with RUSH written on them in a shaky hand. On the other hand, when there was a propane explosion down in Berne, he got out of bed, pulled on his pants and dictated a few grafs to the desk on deadline. God bless Simon Schwartz, who I assume has gone to be with the God he believed in so fiercely. (After the propane explosion, in which some victims were burned, he wrote a chatty note to an editor speculating on whether their pain might be equal to the fires of hell.)

Bristol Palin is pregnant. No comment. (She doesn’t want any lectures.)

And so we lurch into the weekend. Happy weekend to you.

Posted at 12:20 am in Current events | 91 Comments
 

Here comes Bobby.

Who was it who first called the GOP presidential primary field a clown car? Could that be any more apt, what with the entrance today of Bobby Jindal, who announced today with…are you kidding me? A hidden-camera video of him telling his kids?

I’m all for modernity and all, but I’m also for taste of the good variety. I expect Louisiana’s in for it the way Wisconsin is:

Leaders of Mr. Walker’s party, which controls the Legislature, are balking at his demands for the state’s budget. Critics say the governor’s spending blueprint is aimed more at appealing to conservatives in early-voting states like Iowa than doing what is best for Wisconsin.

Lawmakers are stymied over how to pay for road and bridge repairs without raising taxes or fees, which Mr. Walker has ruled out.

The governor’s fellow Republicans rejected his proposal to borrow $1.3 billion for the roadwork, arguing that adding to the state’s debt is irresponsible.

“The governor rolled out $1.3 billion in bonding,” Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader, said in an interview. “It’s not been well received, is the best way to put it.”

Predictably, Charles Pierce is no fan, but also predictably, he’s smart/entertaining about it:

His speech, later on Wednesday afternoon, just as the daily apocalyptic thunderstorm was rolling in across Lake Pontchartrain, was completely of a piece with that persona. The applause invariably was a perceptible beat behind his applause lines, as though his audience briefly had to ponder the intellectual abstractions behind clinkers like, “I am not running for president to be someone. I’m running for president to do something.” before cheering. And, make no mistake, I realize that Jindal is running on a shoestring, but he really should pay his speechwriters because the folks who are working that job, evidently for free, really need to go.

OK, then. So how was your day? Mine was enervating, a slog, an afternoon of staring out a window at an ugly view, trying to build a head of enthusiasm and mostly failing. But I got done what I needed to get done, ate a sandwich and some chips and basically chalked it all up to a C-minus.

Not that there weren’t bright spots. I hope Sarah Palin saved her money over the last five years. A review of a truly awful movie is frequently a pleasure to read.

And an excellent piece by Rick Perlstein on the disintegration of the American left in the ’70s. Long, but worth your time, lest anyone get smug about swinging pendulums and suchlike.

Sorry this site has been such a bleh-fest lately. I’m in a rut. Speaking of pendulums. They always swing back, so let’s keep swinging and hope for the best.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events | 61 Comments
 

It won’t go quietly.

I don’t know if it’s the pollen forecast or not, but today was a big improvement. It might have been the Claritin, too. But it was just all-around better, so yay me. Early-morning swim, midday productivity, lovely blue skies, a big fatty ribeye for dinner. Now the neighbors are having a drunken get-together in their back yard, just loud enough to be entertaining, not so loud to be annoying. It’s summer. Can’t complain. About anything.

Late in yesterday’s thread, Sue said something about the Confederate battle flat thing, to wit, how interesting that in less than a week, we’re no longer talking about guns and instead talking about a stupid flag. Not that it’s not a worthy issue, but there’s a certain squirrel! component to it. So quickly, we’re not talking about nine dead people, although I guess it makes sense — it’s easy to feel like you’re making a difference with a flat, whereas before, it’s all just despair.

Neil Steinberg brings up another point:

“Winds shifting on rebel flag” the Tribune headlined Tuesday.

Pretty to think so. They’re reacting to news that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the flag to be removed from its prominent place across from the State House in Columbia. Apparently the photos of Roof preening by Confederate flags prior to his alleged crime was too much in the wake of the slaughter at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.

But anyone who thinks the matter is settled hasn’t been paying attention.

Yep. This is too easy. It won’t go away.

However, along the way, we might have some fun laughing at these intellectual knots some wingnuts are tying themselves into. Fortunately, Roy handles that stuff.

A Neil Sternberg two-bagger today: A long, great read about the nature of facial disfigurement, and the people who try to mitigate it.

And you need to read Ta’Nehisi Coates’ piece on what, exactly, the Confederate cause entailed.

So we climb to the crest of the week, and look forward to the downside.

Posted at 12:03 am in Current events | 41 Comments
 

Sandy.

Yeesh, did I feel like crap this afternoon. Someone must have rubbed gravel in my contact lenses, or maybe it’s just allergies. I think I’m going to start speed-dating Alan’s antihistamine array and try to figure something that works, or it’s going to be a difficult summer, eye-wise.

On the other hand, I boxed at 6 a.m. today. The older I get, the more of a morning person I am. I’m perfectly happy riding my bike to the gym at 5:45 and hitting a heavy bag for half an hour. Just don’t expect coherence at 2 p.m.

An enormous storm threatened all day, and I watched it march relentlessly across Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and the lower peninsula. Words like derecho were in the forecast, which is a Spanish term meaning “charge your phone.” I believe it’s a straight-line wind, very concentrated. When Fort Wayne got hit by one a couple years ago, thousands were without power for days. So I came home, charged the phone, charged the laptop and…nothing happened. I mean, a sprinkle, followed by sunshine. The fearsome clouds punished Lansing, but not us.

So, then. Quickly, because I’m headed to bed:

It’s not over for the stars and bars, but when you lose Walmart, well…

And you know what? I don’t have much more. Think I’ll rub my eyes and hit the hay.

Posted at 12:48 am in Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments
 

Hostess with the leastest.

This month is a whirl of graduation parties. We won’t be having one for Kate until August, and I can tell you right now, guests will not be finding anything like this on the tables:

bubbles

I thought they were salt and pepper shakers, but on closer inspection found they were bubbles. The party was lovely, but so Pinterest-y I shook in my flip-flops. I just don’t have the gene that allows for such self-expression. My idea was for a non-catered backyard thing (but with food, meaning I’m the cook), maybe a tent but maybe not. Tables yes, bubbles no, balloons no. My big idea was to have everybody who’s a musician bring their instrument, and we’d have a hootenanny jam when the sun went down.

I get the idea that’s as ridiculous as expecting a room full of 6-year-olds to amuse themselves at a birthday party, rather than hiring a clown or makeover artist or whatever.

Whatever.

Next week we have another grad party — in Fort Wayne — and then that’s it for a while. Speaking of which…um, Alex?

I hope all the Fathers had a good Day. Kate and Alan saw “Inside Out” and I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It’s a fairly complicated assembly process (I use Nick Malgieri’s recipe, from “How to Bake,” fyi), one of those that reminds you why this is a once-a-year pie. The weather was sticky, and although it was the first day of summer, I mostly stayed inside, because it was a day of rest, exercise-wise. But I got the laundry and a hell of a lot of cooking done, so it was hardly a lost cause.

It’s hard for me to start the week if the laundry isn’t done and the larder isn’t stocked. Funny how these little rituals of daily life sustain us. Reading in the comments about Brian Stouder’s grievances — his house flooded — makes my eyelids twitch. That is NEVER fun, even if you get a new kitchen out of it.

Bloggage:

So what’s going on with Jeb!? It looks like he’s unloading his gun into his other foot:

“I stood on the side of Terri Schiavo,” Bush said at the Faith and Freedom conference. Bush rarely brings up the Schiavo case on the campaign trail but his brief mention of it was made to a religious, conservative audience receptive to his role in the case.

Thanks for the reminder. Because I might have forgotten, otherwise.

On Saturday night, while Alan and I watched “Nightcrawler” on Netflix (recommended), this happened in Detroit — a shooting at a large block party that left nine wounded and one dead. I expect it’ll be a Long Hot Summer OMG Black-on-Black Violence Chicago-Style dog whistle, and whaddaya know, here ya go.

Now that the inevitable Dylann Roof “manifesto” has surfaced, look for more dog whistling, because of course this had nothing to do with, y’know, the R-word.

Another week lurches off the starting line. Hope yours is good.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 49 Comments
 

Bleak Friday.

The news was so horrible today, I took a rare break from it. I had plenty to do in other corners of the internet, and it made for a good excuse. Thanks to Jolene and others for keeping us informed of the high points of the day’s developments (and Coozledad for serving as the voice of my id Thursday); it meant I didn’t have to wade into the swamp. I’m sure there are not only alligators there, but snakes, mosquitoes and stinking mud.

These events are awful in so may ways beyond the obvious. I simply dread the weeks of bullshit, the moronic discussions on cable news, the self-promoting talking heads who simply aren’t helping in any way. How did we get to a point that this much static is simply expected? Maybe it’s time to do that thing people do and stop paying attention.

At least, stop paying attention to most of it. If anyone comes across the inevitable men’s rights advocates talking about the dangers of “low-status males,” let me know so I can go to ground for another week or so.

While we wait for a few things to settle out, and we learn more about those involved — like this roommate who apparently listened to this guy’s murder fantasies for six months without saying anything about it; talk about a piece of work — let’s look at a few other stories.

I’m not much for most newspaper think pieces, but as a swimmer, I found this one interesting:

Once a mainstay of cities nationwide, public swimming pools are becoming relics, waylaid by budget cuts, changing tastes and perception issues that touch on race and class. In the past few years alone, public pools have closed from Westland and Dearborn to Detroit and Royal Oak Township.

That’s not to say there’s nowhere to swim. There are 1,200 outdoor pools in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties that Michigan regulators define as “public.” More than 90 percent are anything but, tucked behind gates of subdivisions, marinas or swim clubs where membership fees of $2,000 aren’t uncommon.

It’s hard to imagine for me; I grew up in a bathing suit, living at the pool all summer long, along with everybody else in my neighborhood and school. Lessons were in the morning, then we came home for lunch and went back in the summer for general goofing off. The rules: No running, no horseplay on “the deck” (it was tolerated in the pool), few others. In this wildly unstructured block of summer, we all came of age. So this was interesting:

A simple swimming pool doesn’t cut it anymore, Yack said.

“If you don’t have a pool with lots of gadgets, gizmos and slides, chances are it’s going to be under-utilized and the cost of maintaining it will be difficult,” said Yack, who retired as supervisor in 2008 and is now serving as a township trustee.

We had diving boards, and that was pretty much it for gadgets, gizmos and slides. Of course, we were allowed to take floaties into the water, something verboten at our pool. We have a slide, with a million rules — no jewelry, no metal of any sort on one’s suit, only so many people allowed on the steps at a time, and so on and on and on.

I hate to see this, though. Swimming is a life skill. It shouldn’t be yet another thing divided by class and money.

GOP outreach to the younger demographic continues.

I had one more story to share, but I see it’s about Rachel Dolezal, and her 15 minutes are up.

Happy weekend, all.

Posted at 12:40 am in Current events | 113 Comments
 

Crazy nation.

For some reason I can’t quite explain, I’m a member of a Facebook group for Grosse Pointe moms. Here’s a post from today:

We want to have our daughter baptized but my husband and I aren’t currently members at a local church. Anyone know of a church in the area that will baptize her without a waiting period (seems the ones I’ve contacted require us to become members for six months before they will baptize her)? Don’t want to wait that long because she’ll be too big then to fit into the gown I was baptized in.

I held my tongue, but on this issue I’ve been rather influenced by my brushes with the orthodox Catholics in my circle, as well as our own Jeff the mild-mannered, and am tempted to say, where do you get off, lady? Churches aren’t public utilities, and if you don’t believe enough to even join a church, why bother to baptize your child at all? It’s not just about baptismal gowns, and if it is, again, why even bother?

Religion. Go figure.

I don’t know about you, but the talker of the day, for me, was this fantastic story out of Texas, where they want to claim the state’s share of Fort Knox’ gold and repatriate it to the Lone Star state, for…well, let them explain it:

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that will create a state-run gold depository in the Lone Star State – one that will attempt to rival those operated by the U.S. government inside Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s vault in lower Manhattan. “The Texas Bullion Depository,” Abbott said in a statement, “will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.” Soon, Abbott’s office said, the state “will repatriate $1 billion of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve in New York to Texas.” In other words, when it comes preparing for the currency collapse and financial armeggedon, Abbott’s office really seems to think Texas is a whole ‘nother country.

Someone in this readership must live in Texas. I ask you: WHAT THE EFFIN’ EFF? This country is insane. I can’t wait to read the histories of our era, when I’m old.

While we’re on the subject, here’s quite the read from New York magazine. Remember during the last election, when the Mississippi tea party tried to bring down Sen. Thad Cochran, deemed too RINO for the state that ranks 50th in most measures of excellence? They thought if they captured a photo or video of his tragically afflicted wife, in a nursing home for a decade with early-onset dementia, they’d have his scalp, since Cochran had a ladylove on the side. Things didn’t work out for them, and someone took his own life. I’ll say it again: Our country has gone mad.

On a lighter topic, then. Our own Jeff Borden, if he hadn’t been a journalist, would have made a great radio program director. He once told me his idea for a killer rock station: Great music and all-female DJs, none of whom — this was key — would ever show their faces in public. He said, “I don’t care if they weight 300 pounds and have the face of a bulldog. If they had a great, sexy voice they could work for me. But no one ever sees them. Ever.” The idea, obviously, was to create a community where the sound was awesome and the visuals were entirely up to the listener.

So, a local DJ died this week. He was gone way before I ever came here. I never heard him. But from his obit, he had the right idea. There’s a sound check embedded in the story. What a voice.

So we slide down the downslope of the week. More work to do. Do yours.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 58 Comments
 

Watching the river flow.

When I was invited to an all! day! meeting! yesterday — and by “invited,” I mean, “told to show up on time, appropriately dressed” — I wasn’t exactly thrilled. There’s been a lot of sitting in my schedule lately, and besides being terrible for the bum and lower back, it’s just boring.

However.

Today’s meeting had a view:

skyline

So that helped a lot. And there was lunch, too. And the meeting wasn’t boring.

You know I bear no ill will toward Columbus, my hometown, but it does suffer from an acute lack of natural…anything. Like so many state capitals in the Midwest, it’s centrally located in a farm state, near no natural feature more interesting than its two muddy rivers. So I appreciate the blue straits, and Lake St. Clair, and the freighters that pass by during shipping season.

Much news happened while we were confined to the second floor of Bayview Yacht Club. Donald Trump is running for president, and from the photographic evidence, he’s stopped tinting his hair with Tang breakfast drink (as Dave Barry once observed about Strom Thurmond).

Let the jocularity begin, because what else can we have over this? Roy has an early gloss of the reaction from the right.

While we’re in New York, a great slide show from a New York tabloid photographer, c. 1980 and thereabouts.

Remember the Michigan tea party legislator I wrote about a while back? He’s the subject of a hot rumor these days. And, strictly by coincidence, I had another legislator profile in Bridge this week. Of course, it’s getting a fraction of the commenting attention being paid to a story about a toilet.

Science you can use: Why you probably hate the sound of your own voice:

Your body is better at carrying low, rich tones than the air is. So when those two sources of sound get combined into one perception of your own voice, it sounds lower and richer. That’s why hearing the way your voice sounds without all the body vibes can be off-putting — it’s unfamiliar — or even unpleasant, because of the relative tinniness.

Of all the Rachel Dolezal takes, I like Kareem’s quite a lot:

See, I too have been living a lie. For the past 50 years I’ve been keeping up this public charade, pretending to be something I’m not. Finally, in the wake of so many recent personal revelations by prominent people, I’ve decided to come out with the truth.

I am not tall (#shortstuff).

Although I’ve been claiming to be 7’2” for many decades, the truth is that I’m 5’8”. And that’s when I first get out of bed in the morning.

Wednesday! Time to get crackin’ on the story I would have started yesterday if I hadn’t been staring at the river.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 41 Comments