In “The Virgin Suicides,” Grosse Pointe native Jeffrey Eugenides’ first novel, he uses the dying elm trees of the 1970s as a metaphor. Leans a little too heavily on it for my taste, but that’s me and J.E.; I like his books fine, but stop short of love.
Anyway, this is another Summer of the Doomed Trees. Cock an ear, and you can hear chippers almost every day, somewhere around our neighborhoods. It’s not elms this year but ash trees, thanks to the emerald ash borer. Our next-door neighbors have a particularly nice specimen in their front yard, and have spared no expense in trying to spare it; a man comes every month or so to treat it with pesticides and other potions.
But it’s an exception. All over the Pointes, you can see ash trees wtih neon-colored Xs on the trunk, the arborist’s kiss of death. Oh, it’s so, so sad. I feel a metaphor coming on.
Sometimes a tree disease is just a tree disease. Diversify your rootstock and prune regularly.
Alcohol: Cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. More on the missing-arm case. (Warning: As of this morning, the Freep servers were either drunk or had molasses poured in their works. FYI.)
Lance Mannion delivers a lecture I’ve heard a few times in person already: Why Taxation Isn’t (Always) Theft. Part 1 and Part 2.
Slate offers an amusing slide show on the history of the bikini. I loved the part about the bathing machines. Of course, if you can’t wear a bikini, there are alternatives.
Have a great weekend.
Mindy said on July 7, 2006 at 4:02 pm
The remains of ash trees around here have been a sobering sight. It’s enough to drive me to drink.
Once upon a time when I was sixteen, I ordered a “Bikini in a Bag” from the classifieds of Seventeen magazine. It arrived in an envelope. The top could be tied in six different ways in order to make a whole wardrobe of bikinis. I still have the bag it came it; it now holds a few old shirt buttons. That slimming suit is now more appropriate for my forty-something arse.
mary said on July 7, 2006 at 5:05 pm
I remember those, Mindy. At least half of the ways to tie the top only worked if you did not move much or had very small boobs.
brian stouder said on July 7, 2006 at 5:14 pm
The NYT review of Virgin Suicides dovetails a bit with the movie about the rise and fall of Bob Crane – Auto Focus. (It was on IFC last night) It is a bit of a period piece – the free-love ’60’s and then the gauche ’70’s – and the movie is cleverly made with just enough humor to be captivating. Greg Kinnear’s beguiling talent made what could (easily) have been an unsympathetic character instead quite compelling.
And the bikini ending of NN’s piece also transported me back to that movie; thinking about bikinis and the female form after watching Auto Focus is akin to sitting down at a buffet after spending 92 minutes watching one of those weenie-eating contests
deb said on July 8, 2006 at 12:07 am
i want to know who actually buys those frumpy swimsuits. the amish? really observant mormons? my mormon ex-brother-in-law and his wife used to wear knee-length undies. they were like the pettipants some of my friends wore back in the ’60s, minus the lace and frills. i came upon my sister-in-law folding these one day and couldn’t puzzle out what they were, so i asked. never dreamed she was handling the family unmentionables. she was pretty embarrassed.
p.s. glad i never bothered with the bikini-in-a-bag.
nancy said on July 8, 2006 at 9:10 am
Those swimsuits are purchased by religious nutcases of all stripes, although Muslims have their own idea of what constitutes modest swimwear.
Google “modest apparel” or “modest clothing” someday if you want to be led into this fascinating shadow universe. Much of it is tied to specific faiths, like Islam or LDS, but there are also Jewish, Catholic and Protestant/evangelical communities who are always looking for below-the-knee skirts, voluminous jumpers to accommodate more or less contant breast-feeding, head coverings of all sorts and, of course, swimsuits with so much fabric as to constitute a drowning risk. (All for women, by the way. The only reference to modest clothing for men I ever saw on those sites was for knee-length shorts.)
As for your Mormon in-laws, what you saw were their “garments.” There’s another Google for you — “Mormon garments.” Those are the top-secret special undies you get when you’re baptized (I think), and they’re a rich vein of cultural commentary right there. You saw passing references to them on “Big Love,” and in one locker-room scene at a country club, you could see men in the background putting their pants on over knee-length undies.
Dorothy said on July 10, 2006 at 8:30 am
Has anyone ever actually seen someone at the beach or at a pool wearing those awful things? I tend to think they’d be too humiliated to be seen in publich. Imagine how cruel kids would be to someone dressed in one of those coverups? Adults might just snicker and stare, but I’d bet kids would just erupt with whatever comes to mind!
You mentioned and linked to some of these sites awhile back, Nancy, and that was the first time I’d ever seen them. They still sort of stun me.
Bill said on July 12, 2006 at 9:58 pm
From the moment I saw this as a little news brief in the paper I knew it was the classic, boy meets girl, boy and girl get in a drunken fight, and girl’s arm gets torn off somehow and never found story we’ve all loved through the years and can’t hear told enough.