My car repair — not much of a repair at all, but a simple oil change/wiper blades/fix-the-rear-window-squirter deal — took forever. Fortunately, I had “The Looming Tower,” which now occupies the On the Nightstand space on the right rail, and which you should all run out and buy, because it is a terrific book. It enabled me to pass hour after hour in the customer lounge at the Buick/VW dealer without even being tempted to get into a snit. Also, there was a TV in the lounge, and at one point it was showing something called the Dr. Keith Ablow Show, specifically an episode featuring Kim Mathers, ex-wife of Eminem.
I want to lay out a few things up front, the most important being that I spend very little time thinking about Eminem, at least not compared to, say, George Clooney. But Eminem’s a local, and even though he’s not the kind of guy who you might see eating a media noche at the Cuban joint downtown — he seems to be well into his Graceland period — he’s still a presence here. Once when I was driving home from the Apple store with my friend John, he got off the freeway at 9 Mile Road, two exits earlier than he should have. I pointed this out and he said he just wanted to drive me past a restaurant called Gilbert’s Lodge, where Eminem once worked as a busboy. That kind of thing.
Anyway, in the very little time I’ve spent thinking about Eminem, I sometimes think about Kim. His muse, you might say. They say Bob Dylan wrote “Just Like a Woman” for Edie Sedgwick, and Eric Clapton wrote “Layla” for Patti Boyd Harrison. Kim got “97 Bonnie & Clyde” and, of course, “Kim”:
Get the fuck away from me, don’t touch me
I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!
I SWEAR TO GOD I HATE YOU
OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU
How the fuck could you do this to me?
The first time I heard that song was around the time Kim went on the lam from some drug charges, and was arrested at Weber’s Inn, a pleasant but decidely unhip hotel just down the road from our house in Ann Arbor. I imagined her sitting by the pool in dark glasses and brown lipliner, an inch of dark roots showing in her blonde hair, drink in hand, and I thought: Can’t blame her, really.
So I was amazed to see this woman on this cheesy afternoon TV crapfest, looking not just presentable but lovely (she has excellent bone structure, evident even in her mugshots), speaking coherently and calmly about her ex-husband. I closed my book and watched for a while. Eminem, whom she calls Marshall, has an ego problem (big surprise there), and a zipper problem (ditto) and a problem expressing love for women, which she blames on his mother, who may be the only other female in the world who has fared worse in Eminem’s lyrics.
None of these are penetrating insights, but coming from Kim, whose life has been nearly as action-packed as her ex’s, it struck me as actual maturity. Dr. Keith played a 911 tape from one of her escapades, in which Kim’s mom lays out the crime in progress, which involved Kim taking her dad’s Navigator (you gotta love Detroit; no one says “the car” when they can sneak in a make and model) and her other daughter’s son, and leaving, which was specifically against a court order, or whatever. The 911 operator gets confused, because these situations are confusing. Whose son? Whose car? Who has custody? She gets it straight, and then asks where Kim might be going in the Navigator.
“I think down to Harper and Cadieux to buy some drugs,” the mom says.
(The other woman in the waiting room looked at me, and we both acknowledged that we knew that corner, although we declined to do a fist-pump. The hometown name rings out.)
At this point I was unsure what this show was supposed to be about, but as with “Springer,” it doesn’t really matter. Dr. Keith asked Kim what she wants now, and she said she wants to be a good mom. I imagine she has the usual supplies — big house in suburbs, Navigator of her own, good help — and is starting to understand the ones you can’t see with your eyes, like self-knowledge. If she’s still able to hold her head up after “Kim,” I’d say she has the backbone to start.
On the other hand, she supposedly capped off this interview — which, in the Detroit hip-hop world, had the gravity of a full hour on “60 Minutes” — by calling a radio station and telling the DJ, on the air, that her ex has a small weenie and needs Viagra to make it work. Sigh. Hell hath no fury, etc.
What? This content is unbecoming to the blog? OK, how about some Britney Spears head-shaving? Please, no cuffs/collar jokes.
So, we’ll try to raise the tone with some bloggage:
Why I love David Sedaris: Because if you’ve ever been in the sort of house trailer described here, you know he nails every detail. (Yes, we’re continuing the white-trash theme here, but this is from The New Yorker.)
This is a little Grosse Pointe-centric, but I know we have some history buffs in the readership, so here goes: The GP Historical Society has a fine online exhibit of the old days here in the GP, including some great pictures of the staggering homes our local plutocrats erected along the lakefront. Nearly all of them are gone now, reduced to rubble by the simple fact that even today’s plutocrat has little need for a house with 60 rooms, requiring a staff of 25. I especially recommend the section on the Dodges, and their jaw-dropping domiciles (Rose Terrace I and Rose Terrace II), not to mention this little bit of ephemera:
LETTER FROM THE WALLET OF HORACE E. DODGE SR. – CIRCA 1920
“For the following reasons I am unable to send you the check asked for:
I have been held up, held down, sand-bagged, walked on, sat on, flattened out and squeezed. First, by the United States Government, for Federal War Tax, the Excess Profit Tax, the Liberty Loan Bonds, Thrift Stamps, Capital Stock Tax, Merchants License and Auto Tax, and by every Society and Organization that the inventive mind of man can invent, to extract what I may or may not possess.
From the Society of John the Baptist, the G.A.R., the Women’s Relief, the Navy League, the Red Cross, the Black Cross, the Purple Cross, the Double Cross, the Children’s Home, the Dorcas Society, the Y.M.C.A., the Boy Scouts, the Jewish Relief, the Belgian Relief, and every hospital in town.
The Government has so governed my business that I don’t know who owns it. I am inspected, suspected, and examined and re-examined, informed, required and commanded so I don’t know who I am, where I am, or why I am here. All I know is I am supposed to be an inexhaustible supply of money for every known need, desire or hope of the human race; and, because I will not sell all I have and go out and beg, borrow or steal money to give away, I have been cussed, discussed, boycotted, talked to, talked about, lied to, lied about, hold up, hung up, robbed and nearly ruined; and, the only reason I am clinging to life is to see what in the H-ll is coming next.”
Only a guy who lived in Rose Terrace I could whine like that.
Finally, speaking of local celebrities, we were eating dinner the other day, and as usual, one end of the table was strewn with the day’s mail, including a copy of Car & Driver. The cover featured three jillion-dollar sports cars, Maserati, Lotus and something else, I forget. Alan tapped the Lotus and said, “I saw one of these downtown the other day. Guy asked me for directions.”
“Anyone famous?” I asked.
“I dunno,” he said. “Some black guy, about seven feet tall. I was surprised he could fit in the thing, actually.”
“He was probably a Piston,” I said. “Did you say anything to him?”
“Yeah. I said, ‘Is that a Lotus?‘”
My husband. Such a Detroiter.
Cathy Dee said on February 19, 2007 at 12:39 pm
Eminem fascinates me — so much talent, so screwed up — and I can’t wait to go home to watch the interview with Kim.
LA mary said on February 19, 2007 at 1:09 pm
Speaking of trashy behavior, I saw this photo on msnbc. It says Paris Hilton is taking a picture at a Vienna Ball. Looking closely, you can see she’s pointing the camera at herself.
brian stouder said on February 19, 2007 at 1:20 pm
Nance draws an interesting parallel (as always) between eminem’s outward-directed, career-defining angst and Britney’s inward directed, career-crashing variant of the same thing.
Enjoyed what I saw of the link to historic Grosse Pointe, too. Say – I bet there are more than a few sites around the metro-Detroit area that can legitimately claim to have been part of the ‘Underground Railroad’. The book on my nightstand at the moment is Bound for Canaan by Fergus Bordewich (I hope I spelled his name right), which takes a broad look at the origins and the history of the Underground Railroad. Pennsylvania Quakers figure prominently in the story, as do the Quakers who came west into Ohio and Indiana….and Detroit comes up a lot, as people struggled to get into Canada (and out of the reach of slave-catchers and kidnappers)
Danny said on February 19, 2007 at 3:16 pm
I really liked defamer’s take on Brit:
Since we kicked off for the weekend, recent rehab window-shopper Britney Spears did two of the following three things upon her return to L.A.:
1. Visited a salon in Tarzana [Ed.note–Really, Britney? Tarzana?] and asked that they shave her head. When the request was refused, Spears grabbed the clippers and began to liberate her skull from the oppression of her flowing, chemically damaged locks.
2. Went to a tattoo parlor in Sherman Oaks, where she had a cross etched on her hip and a pair of lips inked on her wrist, demonstrating that even a meltdown cannot override the part of her brain responsible for always maintaining her white-trash aesthetic.
3. Drove back over the hills to Cedars Sinai, where she demanded to be immediately taken to the “angel department.” When a nurse politely informed her there was no such place at their facility, Spears calmly corrected her, stating that she had an appointment to have a pair of beautiful cherub’s wings implanted on her shoulder blades, which she would then use to fly up to Heaven to make sure that someone remembered to feed the baby Jesus.
Someone in comments over there said that they really wish the third one was true.
Bob said on February 19, 2007 at 5:48 pm
I love the David Sedaris item. Some trailer trash has (have?) endearing qualities.
Having encountered homophobia in school, the Air Force at the workplace, I’ve often wondered how it is that some men who claim to be strictly heterosexual can get worked into a state of severe agitation when they contemplate two men having sex.
LA mary said on February 19, 2007 at 6:05 pm
My neighbor, the man whom I took to the hospital in December, died this morning. He was gay, and had the same partner for about 50 years. He was as dear a man as has ever lived, and his partner is as devastated as any married partner could ever be.
When my younger son was in preschool, and the kids had to stand up and say what they were thankful for, he said he was thankful for Uncle Bill, which is what everyone called him. Pretty high praise from a 4 year old.
The last time I saw Bill we were singing the Ode to Joy in German, badly, to distract him from the nurse trying to find a good vein. Actually Bill was singing beautifully, as he was a trained tenor who had taught voice.
nancy said on February 19, 2007 at 7:17 pm
I remember you talking about him a few weeks ago. Very sad.
LA mary said on February 19, 2007 at 7:35 pm
This is part of what’s sad: he saw how messed up my marriage was and said nothing until it broke up. Then he revealed just how incredibly perceptive he was. He knew. Anyone who has been through the break of a marriage knows people come out of the woodwork to tell you what a schmuck your soon to be ex is, but Bill knew exactly what was happening, and bit his tongue. And when I was really at the worst part of the break up, he was so good to me, and so fiercely on my side.
basset said on February 19, 2007 at 7:54 pm
I could not name you a single one of the collected works of Eminem, nor would I care to, even less so now.
Sedaris, on the other hand, seems pretty hard to avoid. I suppose that if I were brighter, or more cultured, or had never lived in a trailer, or in the South, I would appreciate his rarefied talent. Way I figure it, though, this is the English language and you’re not supposed to use umlauts. “Preengaged,” (imagine the two little dots over the second E), my butt.
Or some other body part, considering.
joodyb said on February 19, 2007 at 8:57 pm
ok, here’s where my head’s at:
was your rear washer actually not functioning? was it in the line or at the spout? Dealer wants $200. almost wish i’d bought extended warranty.
Danny said on February 19, 2007 at 11:40 pm
Some of the nicest people I have known in my life have lived in trailers.
But something else was askew with Sedaris’ piece. I don’t believe it. No one would call a remote control a “nigger” and the couple he descibes and their interactions are so implausible as to pique my suspicion that he is writing fiction or at most a grain of truth smothered in a feculent load of fanciful embellishment.
Danny said on February 19, 2007 at 11:42 pm
Joody, you have a “rear washer?” I think they call those bidets and I fro the plumber to ask if it was in the line or the spout seems somewhat personal.
nancy said on February 19, 2007 at 11:45 pm
The repair sheet said the hose had become detached somewhere along the line, which made it a warranty repair. Whew.
basset said on February 20, 2007 at 12:42 am
and nobody has yet mentioned that “Layla” is not the only rock standard written for Patti Boyd Harrison… “Wonderful Tonight” and “Something” were for/about her as well. For Yoko we have… various manifestations of Lennon’s whipped-ness.
Danny said on February 20, 2007 at 1:05 am
For Yoko we have… various manifestations of Lennon’s whipped-ness.
Hilarious. I just bought “Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon,” the other week. And though I do like some of his ‘whipped songs, “Oh, Yoko!” just absolutely sucks.
Of course, then there is a track on disc 2 titled, “Woman is the Nigger of the World.” Wonder if he thought of a TV remote that way.
nancy said on February 20, 2007 at 1:39 am
Yes, but “Wonderful Tonight” sucked ass, so I didn’t mention it.
Didn’t know about “Something.”
If I were to have a song written about me, I’d want it to be “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.” I just like the title.
Danny said on February 20, 2007 at 2:02 am
Wow. Read the wikipedia entry for Patti. Her and her sister had quite the resume with rockers.
There were a few links with small pictures. She looks fine, but to inspired all of those songs, she must have been a real sweetheart as well.
Either that or she was like Lot’s wife. A pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.
Bob said on February 20, 2007 at 8:32 am
Danny, I, too, have known some wonderful people who live in trailers.
I’ve also been acquainted with some who are very much like the couple that Sedaris described.
A relatively small number of the residents of my home town live in trailer parks, and a very large number of police reports involve people with trailer-park addresses. Sometimes they’re domestic fights or incidents of malicious tresspass usually involving alcohol or drugs, and sometimes they’re tavern brawls, drunk driving or drive-offs without paying for gas.
brian stouder said on February 20, 2007 at 9:09 am
and we know there are no ignorant, bigoted, selfish oafs who live in brick townhouses in NYC.
I’ve never lived in a trailer, but many years ago I lived in an apartment, in close proximity to many other people, and learned more about them than I wanted to know (as I am sure they could also say about me)
Carville may have been correct that you could drag a $100 bill through a trailer park and get any kind of story you wanted….and Mr Sedaris’ New York City has lots of stinking rich folks – willing to be an ‘un-named source’ for whatever party gossip is wanted.
By way of saying – people are people; even if some – such as Mr Sedaris – are more accomplished at presenting their prejudices as “perceptiveness”
Danny said on February 20, 2007 at 10:54 am
Totally OT, but last night, my wife got appointed president of our HOA.
God, help us (me).
Actually, it will probably be ok. The guy who had been serving in that post was responsible for a lot of dysfunction and acrimony. With his resignation (which came after a several hour repudiation of all of his ill-conceived ideas), things should run smoother.
But as most people know, serving on an HOA is a largely thankless task that occasionaly turns into an emotionally arduous one.
LA mary said on February 20, 2007 at 11:43 am
Patti Boyd’s sister married Mick Fleetwood. Her grandson, Wolf, goes to school with my son Peter, showing that brush with greatness tendencies run in families.
LA mary said on February 20, 2007 at 11:44 am
David Sedaris doesn’t live in NYC. He’s from North Carolina and lives in France now.
nancy said on February 20, 2007 at 11:56 am
True about Sedaris, Mary, although I think he might be one of those “divides his time” writers. In any event, you’re right — he grew up in Raleigh, went to college at Kent State and the Chicago Art Institute’s school, etc. If you read his body of work, you really can’t call him an east coast elitist; he didn’t start making much more than a poverty living until his mid-30s and has earned the right to make observations about people who live there.
Actually, the detail that killed me was the thread through the guy’s newly pierced ear.
brian stouder said on February 20, 2007 at 12:06 pm
he didn’t start making much more than a poverty living until his mid-30s and has earned the right to make observations about people who live there.
hmmmmm. I cannot discern whether the “there” in “people who live there” is intended to refer to people who live in North Caolina, or people earning “a poverty living”.
Either way – my point is that dopes live all across the social spectrum, and they dot the landscape from coast-to-coast (and in France, too!)
LA mary said on February 20, 2007 at 12:11 pm
He lived in NYC when he wrote the Macy’s Elf story that sort of built his reputation. I like his story about taking French lessons, myself.
nancy said on February 20, 2007 at 12:18 pm
Trust me, Brian: He cleaned houses for a living. His snark is omnidirectional.
Read “Naked.” I liked that one best.
MarkH said on February 20, 2007 at 12:40 pm
I hear you, Danny. I got conscripted ino the presidency of my HOA over a year ago; my term is up next October. When volunteers were asked for, I was the last one to step backwards. Thankless job, indeed. But I feel lucky as we have more than our share of levelheaded, common sense homeowners; not much acrimoney as all. The red tape and paperwork seem insurmountable sometimes; right now we are in the middle of a water issue with the EPA that’s really no big deal, but will be awhile before it’s put away.
brian stouder said on February 20, 2007 at 12:42 pm
OK – I’ll check him out.
Anymore initial reactions to Looming Tower?
That book seemed to me to have the ring of truth; The road to 9/11 may have a certain (arbitrary) clarity in hindsight, but it certainly wasn’t clear in real-time.
Have you gotten to the remarkably on-the-ball well-dressed FBI special agent with the Goodfellas ambiance and the enormously complex personal life, yet?
LA mary said on February 20, 2007 at 1:11 pm
My black Lab mix, Smokey, would like to point out it was a black Lab mix who kept hikers warm until they got rescued on Mt. Hood, this weekend. He would have done the same if called upon.
Lab mix pride, boo-ya.
Ricardo said on February 21, 2007 at 12:54 pm
OK, Here is the current score card between young women stars Christina Aguilara and Britney Spears
Christina a child star is on the New Mickey Mouse Club. Britney is a child star is on the New Mickey Mouse Club.
Christina has hits with “Genie In A Bottle and “Come On Over”. Britney has hits with “Baby One More Time” and “Oops I Did It Again”.
Christina marries “music executive” Jordan Bratman. Britney marries part time backup dancer and full time slacker Kevin Federline.
Christina has a hit with retro album “Back to Basics” and performs a great show on the Grammy Award show singing “This Is A Man’s World” in tribute to James Brown. Britney files for divorce and displays her shaved jack in the box while night clubbing in Hollywood, New York, and Las Vegas.
Christina has another great performance in the 2007 NBA All Star Game half time show singing her hits. Britney leaves rehab at Crossroads after 24 hours, gets her head shaved, and gets new tats.
This week (I project): Christina will perform at the Academy Awards singing the tune voted Song Of The Year. Britney will be found passed out in a small alley off of Bourbon Street by New Orleans street cleaners with her top missing, but wearing lots of plastic beads. Even they will be overwhelmed by the smell.