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.