Weekend of disappointment.

Mitch Harper advised his readers to visit a farm market over the weekend. I did, but I was going to anyway. I usually go to the Eastern Market downtown, but Saturday decided to offset a little carbon and ride my bike to the West Park Farmers Market, down in GPP. Now that I’ve lived here a few years, I realize the mistake of not buying in GPP, Grosse Pointe Park, or just “the Park” around here. That’s where my people live, but hey, it’s only a couple miles down Kercheval. The market, alas, is less wonderful. It’s festive and market-like, but with only a few sellers of actual produce — everyone else is hawking bottled gourmet sauces, handmade jewelry and that sort of thing. I bought four lovely-looking Georgia peaches, took them home, bit into one and immediately spit it out. It had that interior mealiness that suggests weeks spent in cold storage, with a dark hint that perhaps it wasn’t even a Georgia peach at all, but maybe one of the loathsome California variety.

Note to California readers: I’m sure the peaches you buy are pretty good, and I expect some defense of home-state produce, so save your protests. The lousy California peaches are all exported to the Midwest, where they sit in supermarkets looking like the platonic ideal of peachiness, truly beautiful specimens. If only they weren’t rock-hard and inedible. I used to buy them and put them in paper bags on my counter, waiting for ripeness to arrive. Ripeness = Godot. When a lovely peach sits for two weeks and can’t soften even incrementally, something very strange is going on.

That was dispiriting. The tradeoff in being able to ride a bike to market is always variety — the Eastern Market has the critical mass of customers to support such local treasures as Mushroom Man, Organic Egg Guy and the vital-to-our-emotional-well-being Gratiot Central Market, for all — and I mean all — your meat needs, but still. It’s six more days to next Saturday, and I really wanted some Georgia peaches.

Even more dispiriting was that the bike ride sapped my energies, and the rhinovirus came in for the kill. What’s less exciting than a summer Saturday night spent at home with a worsening cold? This must be why we pay big bucks for digital cable. Nothing particularly good was on, but hey, “Summer of Sam” was coming around on the Retro channel. I have two major allergies in today’s multiplex — Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee. Where critics see (and say, endlessly) “gifted,” “accomplished” and “national treasure,” I see only “overrated.” But now that Spielberg’s made a movie I can not only stomach but actually enjoyed (“Munich”), it seemed time to see whether my immunity had changed with Lee. “Summer of Sam” it was, then. And the short answer is? No. He still sucks*.

Overdirected? Check. Half-baked script? Check. Casting of capable actors in parts that hogtie their talent? Check. Obscenity-strewn** dialogue scenes that go on three times as long as they need to, until you hold your head in your hands screaming stop stop someone please make it stop? Check. Oh, and wait — is there a Message Stick lying around, and is it used to beat on us at regular intervals? Certainly, yes. Finally, did Roger Ebert ladle an astonishing dollop of praise over the whole mess, as he has over pretty much the whole Lee catalog, proving everyone has his blind spots? Yup. Am I saying there wasn’t one good thing about it? No. I liked Adrien Brody, and I thought the “Baba O’Riley” montage was OK, but then, it’s hard to go wrong with “Baba O’Riley.” So there.

(*”S.O.S.” was made in 1999, so I acknowledge “still” may not be accurate. One always hopes for growth in an artist. I only saw part one of the Katrina thing, and it was OK, but it didn’t make me want to watch parts 2, 3 and 4.)

(**As for “obscenity-strewn,” I yield to no one in my tolerance for rough language, but there’s a point at which it becomes annoying, distracting background noise, especially in an overlong scene, because you want to shake the characters and say, “If you’d stop saying ‘fuck’ so often you could maybe get to the point, you fucking asshole.”)

Enough about my little problems. Bloggage!

Evil, evil, evil, evil, stupid: A surgeon general’s report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration’s policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.

A declaration: I don’t give a fat rat’s ass about Hillary Clinton’s cleavage — I have my own to worry about — but evidently others do. Thousands of words were spent in the last week discussing whether the junior senator from New York did or did not display uncontrovertible evidence that yes, she does indeed possess a pair of breasts, but by far, the stupidest of all came, fittingly, from Dan Quayle’s former aide Lisa Schiffren. She, mind you, also doesn’t give a fat rat’s ass about Hillary’s cleavage, although being a Republican wife and mother, she puts it more delicately: I overcame my desire to comment on this tempest earlier this week. But then she does — it’s “legit” to talk about the big C, she opines — and then ends with one of those sorority sister, it’s-for-your-own-good-that-I’m-saying-this lemon shake-ups:

But let’s be real here. The fact is, Hillary was wearing a fairly low cut summer top. She was not displaying cleavage, as the shot on Drudge indicates. Someone else wearing the same outfit might have done. But Hillary Clinton does not have cleavage to display. Period. Indeed, Hillary never forgave her mother-in-law, Virginia Kelly for pointing this out decades ago to the young Bill Clinton, a cleavage man if ever there was one. So…it’s OK to discuss something that doesn’t exist? Thanks, girlfriend.

And now, because I believe in saving the most important, depressing, vein-opening stuff for after the trivial, whiny, vein-opening stuff about bad peaches, crappy movies and cleavage, “Inside the Surge,” excellent photos and video from Guardian photographer Sean Smith, embedded with U.S. Marines in Iraq. Just about as depressing as you’d imagine. But required viewing.

Posted at 12:05 am in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

29 responses to “Weekend of disappointment.”

  1. Jolene said on July 30, 2007 at 6:13 am

    Well, Nancy, as I read though your, as always, witty and interesting blog, I was preparing to write some chirpy little thing about how we’d spent our weekends in a similar way–wishing for good peaches, not feeling terribly well, being outraged about the never-to-be-released Carmona report and irritated w/ Lisa Shiffren. I even considered pasting in the clever comment I wrote re Lisa Shiffren’s remarks on another blog.

    Then I saw the Sean Smith photos and video. I may go find that post anyway, but it’s going to be tough to come up w/ additional chirpyness.

    In lieu of that, however, how about a quiz? For three points, who was Dan Quayle’s chief of staff?

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  2. alex said on July 30, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Confession, Jolene — I googled it. That little neocon twerp? I wouldn’t have guessed it in a million years. I just assumed chief of staff would have been one of the numerous sinecures given to fellow IU students of my generation who took political science 101, thought they knew everything and joined the Nazi Youth Corps. Er, rather, the Young Republicans. They were even more tedious than the lefties who took sociology 101 and thought they knew everything.

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  3. brian stouder said on July 30, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Tom Snyder, RIP

    He was my first late-night fave, many many years ago. It was the age before cable/satellite, when conventional broadcast networks ruled the roost. He was refreshingly different….and he smoked during his show!

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  4. Dorothy said on July 30, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Good peaches are going to be hard to come by via South Carolina or Georgia this year, as we suffered a freeze in early spring. So those probably were California peaches you purchased.

    Back to work after being out a week so I’ll have to look at your links later.

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  5. Jolene said on July 30, 2007 at 8:17 am

    I get a kick out of the idea of Kristol being Quayle’s CoS. He’s so impressed w/ his intelligence and eloquence. It must have killed him to be subservient to Dimwit Dan.

    Now, for all the money, what nickname have bloggers been using to refer to Kristol in light of his recent delusional WaPo op-ed?

    Apparently, President Bush liked it a lot.

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  6. nancy said on July 30, 2007 at 8:21 am

    I got Bill Kristol out of the depths of memory before reading the comments, but the nickname eludes me.

    Your last link is bad, Jolene. Don’t keep me in suspense!

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  7. Jeff said on July 30, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Oh, why not — i feel like being a punching bag this week: when the surgeon general’s office tries to say something should be part of our nation’s foreign policy, should they be surprised when there’s pushback? Most of the intra-office political rondelay in the White House has to do with traffic-cop-ing all the cross-purposing that naturally goes on in the Executive Branch, let alone when people are trying to torpedo their perceived competing factions (see any interaction between Defense and State for the last fifty years, f’r instance). Let’s wrangle about how naive the Bush Admin was about how broken the Iraqi nation was and how quickly they could put a democratic country together out of the bits, and what that says about how we usefully intervene in places like Sudan, North Korea, or southern Louisiana. But this is much less malign thuggery than it is an inability on the part of this administration to understand the limitations of their ability to effect change (see entry: abstinence education). They think the “bully pulpit” of Teddy Roosevelt is Harry Potter’s magic wand.

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  8. danindy said on July 30, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Georgia peaches??!! We ALWAYS waited with patience until the Michigan peaches were in season. Sooooo much better than georgia or Cali..gag peaches hands down.

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  9. John said on July 30, 2007 at 8:52 am

    “Magic wand”, hmmmm, not good. Promotes Druidism and Witchcraft. Goes against core values. Must get “Turd Blossom” to weigh in on this.

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  10. nancy said on July 30, 2007 at 9:04 am

    I think one reason the politication of the surgeon general’s office is so offensive is that it’s one office that should at least give the appearance of considering science and facts before making pronouncements.

    In this case, it’s true the report recommended policy changes/initiatives. But look at what they were: Acknowledging that health has an effect on poverty rates. Urging corporations to work to improve public health in the countries where they do business. That’s like approving of motherhood and tasty food. Talk about stating the obvious:

    The draft report itself, in language linking public health problems with violence and other social ills, says “we cannot overstate . . . that problems in remote parts of the globe can no longer be ignored. Diseases that Americans once read about as affecting people in regions . . . most of us would never visit are now capable of reaching us directly. The hunger, disease, and death resulting from poor food and nutrition create social and political instability . . . and that instability may spread to other nations as people migrate to survive.”

    I mean: Duh. But this hack, with his PhD in Latin American studies and close friendships with the Bush/Cheney orbit, refuses to release it until it contains some rah-rah about how much this country is already doing to alleviate these problems. It goes to the question of what these reports are even for, and with this administration, as always, the answer is: To polish our halos and subsequently cement our power.

    I’m sensitive on this subject because this is what I do at nights in my editing gig — comb the world’s English-speaking media for health-care news, from tiny nuggets about IPOs at biotech companies in India to panoramic views of epidemics and international policy issues. To say it’s been an education is an understatement; my doctor and I now spend more time chatting about drug and insurance companies than we do my puffy knee. I’ve learned a few things, and one of them is that the main points of the report are only STATING THE OBVIOUS, and it’s good to get these things on record somewhere. To think they’re blocked and held up — like so many things in government are blocked and held up — by this collection of third-rate hacks is just galling.

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  11. Jeff said on July 30, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Yah, but this report wanted to say from the Surgeon Gen’l office that certain public health initiatives should be part of our foreign policy. Which, i strongly suspect, is correct, but the infighting and the fellow’s resume aren’t at odds.

    If this were a policy paper on public health initiatives *within* the US, and it got stuffed by political concerns, we’ve got a whole new discussion.

    I just worry that looking for malign thuggery in every Bush admin action is going to muddy the path to figuring out whose policy approach in the ’08 election should be affirmed. My biggest concern about Hillary Clinton is that her approach is Bush-ian in assuming the government can do a bunch of stuff it really can’t . . . Romney is Bush on smarm-steroids. I’m not really a libertarian, but there’s a breath of common sense that they fan onto the embers of rational debate that i admire.

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  12. LA mary said on July 30, 2007 at 9:41 am

    I go to an orchard to get peaches. Otherwise we get the sucky hard ones that never ripen. I bought some at the farmers’ market two weeks ago and they stayed hard and tasted like raw potatoes.

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  13. Jeff said on July 30, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Wow, don’t buy the new mutant strain of so-called “grape tomatos.” Like a cherry tomato with an egg shape, and all the taste (and texture) of eggshell. I’m sure these are shelf stable and unbruisable, but unless you’re a food photographer, give up.

    OTOH, the deer love my plot o’ green peppers and cherry tomato plants, even despite my fringe of marigolds which has always resisted deer infringement before. So i gotta find a farmer’s market that has cherry tomatos alongside the peaches . . .

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  14. Connie said on July 30, 2007 at 11:24 am

    We decided long ago to only buy locally grown peaches. Saturday we bought our first Michigan peaches of the season, at the Orchard Farm Market between Manistee and Ludington, on the way home from our vacation. Season lasts about 6 weeks, so we will be pigging out on peaches for the next couple of weeks. And making our favorite dessert, which we have named “Peach Slop”.

    As for vacation, well if it hadn’t been for the septic tank issues it would have been perfect.

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  15. LA mary said on July 30, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    For something to be sold in a certified farmers market here it has to be grown within a certain number of miles. Don’t know what that number is but it makes everything essentially local.

    Other than the funky peaches, I got some great things on my last trip. Great corn, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and different lettuces. I’ll buy my peaches at Blum Ranch starting next month. Pears and plums too.

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  16. Jolene said on July 30, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Sorry, I had to leave. Several bloggers have begun to refer to Bill Kristol as “Kristol Meth”. Fits w/ the delusions he seems to be suffering from.

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  17. Danny said on July 30, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I rarely eat raw peaches because good ones are hard to come by.

    But this does remind me of a song I saw a music video for years ago where the main lyric was something like, “Gonna move to the country and eat a lot of peaches.” The video was pretty funny. The band members had to use there martial arts skills in the peach orchard where they are attacked by a bunch of ninjas. Still didn’t make up for the fact that the song wasn’t very good and nothing will ever make up for the fact that video killed the radio star.

    I’m going to see Rush tonight. First time since I saw them in their heyday (Hemispheres tour twice in 1979, and the 1980 and 1981 tours). I watched a 1975 video of them last night. They definitely would not have made it in the MTV era.

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  18. brian stouder said on July 30, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    I saw Meet the Press discussing HRC’s cleavage, which took me aback; I hadn’t heard any of this before. Being a red-blooded American man, I immediately Googled up the picture (Meet the Press let me down by not showing me what they were talking about), and I thought I had mis-Googled, and gotten the wrong pic. The Senator is seen addressing the chamber, and she looks formally dressed, and that’s it.

    BUT – didja see the article on her 40 year old letters to a college friend? Interesting stuff; she sounds like a great friend


    Although, I felt like a snoop reading the article

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  19. Jolene said on July 30, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    I thought those letters were interesting too, Brian. They were soooo baby-boomerish. Hillary seems to have gone through the same kind or political transformation as did many white-bread American kids her age, and I’ve often read that she is a great friend.

    It struck me as peculiar, though, that she was not really friends w/ that guy. She seemed to have been barely acquainted with him before they left the Midwest; they never met during all the time they corresponded; and they never communicated again after they stopped writing toward the end of their time in college.

    Odd, but I can’t say it bothered me. Growing up is a weird process.

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  20. Jolene said on July 30, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Re your comment about HRC being a great friend, Brian, see this WaPo story re her staff. They are devoted to her and she to them.

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  21. nancy said on July 30, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    My last word on peaches:

    Michigan Red Haven peaches are fine, but you can’t beat Georgia and South Carolina for those freestone varieties that seem to slice themselves in your hand. And Peach Slop sounds very good, a lot like my own Peach Crisp, which is awesome (if the peaches are good).

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  22. Jeff said on July 30, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    But Michigan cherries, from Berrien County hard by the lake . . . mmmm, cherries . . . on oatmeal, in cobbler, or just eat ’em fresh ’til ya get sick, and then eat three more.

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  23. Connie said on July 30, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Mmmm, Michigan cherries. But Jeff they really come from far north of Berrien County – we just spent our vacation up north, pigging out on cherries.

    When we lived in southern Indiana we once gave some of those vacation cherries to the old guy next door. He told us he had been camping up there years ago and was delighted to have some of the cherries he remembered so fondly. Then he leaned over and said, “but you know what happens when you eat too many cherries?”

    Thank you Dick, we do.

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  24. nancy said on July 30, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    We just finished the one non-disappointing part of the weekend’s activity: A cherry pie made with none other. The cookbook calls it Once a Year Cherry Pie, and notes the shortness of the season. I think you only make it once a year because it takes that long to forget what a pain in the ass it is, pitting three pints of those suckers.

    But mmm, good.

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  25. Mitch Harper said on July 30, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    I just finished eating sweet corn that was picked this morning and sold in the early evening. Great stuff. Not a farmer’s market but just a house that had posted a sweet corn sign.

    I deposited my buck-fifty in the honor box and took home 6 ears. Marvelous.

    As for Michigan peaches – enjoy. Two years ago, Dawn and I drove through Michigan during peach time. I think we stopped at three roadside stands. Delicious!

    I was expecting what my grandmother would have called “summer complaint.” However, that was not the result from indulging in so much peach essence.

    I was at Hardy’s Farm Market in Fort Wayne on Friday. A pickup truck had rolled in just before I got there. It was loaded with crates of Michigan peaches. As I walked up to the farmstand the truck turned out of the parking lot and went back on the gravel lane.

    I had expected to see peaches for sale. However, the clerk told me that she was unsure about OKing the purchase and had sent the truck up to the owner to get his approval. She said that, generally, Hardy’s had gotten southern Illinois peaches (which ripen about two weeks before Michigan’s) but that a spring frost had destroyed the Illinois crop.

    Unfortunately, there were not Michigan peaches to be had. I hadn’t checked back today. There better be some tomorrow or Wednesday when I visit or I will be sorely tempted to head toward Grand Rapids.

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  26. Jolene said on July 30, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    This talk of cherries and peaches and pies is making me both hungry and nostalgic. I grew up on a farm, long enough ago so that canning fruits and vegetables was just what people did.

    My mother used to buy peaches by the crate; she’d can lots of them, but we also had pies and sliced peaches w/ sugar and cream for supper. The peaches, as I recall, were from Georgia and consistently wonderful. Of course, that was back in the good old days, when, as we know, there were so many more consistently wonderful things.

    One more note re Hillary. Like Brian, I watched MTP yesterday AM. I had already heard the cleavage brouhaha, but I hadn’t previously heard of her visit to the convention of the National Beauty Culturists’ League last Friday. Here is the poster for this event, which I guess was also on her website.

    I liked the humor. It’s another instance of humanizing Hillary. Her decision to appear before this audience shows, as if we needed another example, that she is a smart politician. It’s hard to imagine any professional group whose members have had more experience in listening to and sympathizing with women who’ve been done wrong by men than hairstylists. Or so I hear. I always talk about movies w/ mine.

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  27. basset said on July 30, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    >>I have my own to worry about

    So when’s Nance going to address the Senate?

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  28. michaelj said on July 31, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    On the other hand, Spike Lee did Inside Man, which was an excellent movie. If I’m allergic to anything about movies, it’s definitely Kevin Spacey.

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  29. LA mary said on July 31, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I just saw Inside Man on cable. I thought it sort of sucked.
    I’m with you on Kevin Spacey, though.

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