Still summer.

Unseasonable warmth here of late; today’s high is predicted to be in the mid-80s. Of course journalistic objectivity requires me to insert the phrase “so-called” in front of “global warming,” so I’ll refrain from bringing it up.* I’ll only say it makes for some strange mornings.

Summer flip-flops, for instance, are not made for my driveway these days, littered so heavily with acorns it’s like walking through a landscape of marbles and broken glass. The birds are quieter as the sky lightens, so the earliest sounds of the awakening city come from the freeway, half a mile as the (less talkative these days) crow files. Zoom. Zoom. The rumble of a truck. The blat of a motorcycle. I lie there and think: I went to bed 4.5 hours ago. Why am I awake? Answer: Because the universe hates you and wants you to suffer. The leaves are changing right on schedule, the mums replaced the coleus and impatiens on the front porch two weeks ago, but they have to be watered just as often, because the fall rains aren’t coming. Also, 85-degree temperatures take it out of even hardy mums.

Meanwhile, Charlotte died. She was a spider that spun her web in a corner of our back doorway. I watched her the other evening, catching her just as the spokes were complete and she started on the orbital sections. She didn’t look quite like E.B. White’s description of her namesake — she was a pale beige, not gray, and smaller than a gumdrop. When she finished, she took her place at the center of the web to wait. The next morning, the web had a few torn spots in it — left by the ensnared bugs, I expect — and Charlotte was gone. The following night, the web was unrepaired and Charlotte was back, but she wasn’t moving. I touched the web, and she raised one leg, rather weakly, it seemed. The next day, the web was in tatters, Charlotte was gone, and that evening, she didn’t show up at all.

I dunno. Maybe she moved.

Thus concludes the Annie Dillard wannabe portion of today’s post. As I occasionally point out, at least 50 percent of the reason I started this blog was to force myself to keep a daily journal of some sort, and sometime in the future, I’ll be glad I wrote all this down. Also, low-rent woolgathering about the weather keeps me from thinking about the Grosse Pointe News, my local weekly. Motto: One of America’s many lousy newspapers..

Just to show you where I’m coming from: The state of Michigan narrowly avoided a government shutdown early this week. Unemployment is up, revenues are down, deficits are huge. The state needs more money, but opposing taxes, any taxes, is now an actual religion among Republicans. The no-new-taxes crowd said the deficit could be made up by cutting services, but when pressed to be specific, couldn’t be. The stalemate dragged on for months. At the very last minute, quite literally the last minute, the legislature passed a sales tax on services and an income-tax increase, crisis averted.

The Pointes’ representative voted for the tax increase. His name is Ed Gaffney. Page One headline in this week’s edition: Gaffney defends tax gaff. See, it’s a play on words! And, oh yeah, “gaffe” is misspelled, but what the hell. And the headline is outright editorializing. Never mind that. He had his reasons for voting for the increase, which he explains in the story. He doesn’t say that he’s a lame duck thanks to term limits, and the story doesn’t mention it. An editorial does, but that’s on another page. (It also speaks of his “gaff.” I’m wondering if I missed a photo of my representative running around Lansing brandishing a long pole with a hook on the end.)

The editorial makes a big deal out of noting how fiscally conservative the community is. On the facing page, a man-on-the-street interview asks locals how they thought the crisis should be solved. Of six people interviewed, three were Pointers. Of the three, two answered: With new taxes. Ha.

One more amusing detail: At the end of the angry editorial, there’s a subhead. Late breaking news. (Yes, no hyphen, my copy-editing friends. Argh.) Under it: While going to press we heard that Mr. Gaffney, in budget negotiations, was able to get an additional $800,000 to $1.2 million for the Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods school districts. Oh.

It’s like no one edits this paper at all. It’s like it just assembles itself. The Weekly Miracle, indeed.

Are you ready for some bloggage?


LOS ANGELES—A Malawi couple has completed adoption paperwork for Sean Preston Federline, 2, and Jayden James Federline, 1, after their mother, Britney Spears, lost custody of the children Monday.

It was Ms. Spears’ inability to provide car seats that initially brought the plight of her children to the attention of the Malawi couple, who wish to remain anonymous, and who will be referred to here as Mr. and Mrs. M. But it was the widely circulated photograph of Ms. Spears’ vagina that really drew their concern. “In our country, a good mother does not show her business to the press,” Mrs. M said. “It is very bad luck.” After Spears’ “performance” at MTV’s Video Music Awards, the adoptive couple knew they had to do something. “We could not allow innocent children to live under such horrific conditions anymore,” they explained. “The Third World can no longer turn a blind eye to the tragedy affecting so many U.S. celebrity children.”

Chris “Leave Britney Alone” Crocker is coming to Detroit Saturday:

On Saturday night, Crocker is scheduled to appear at Ice in Hamtramck, which bills itself as Detroit’s premier gay nightclub. What will he be doing there, other than being his fabulous self? “It’s a surprise,” said Crocker, who uses a pseudonym. “It’s going to be worth it, for sure.”

If you get on the road now, you can still make it. I’ll change the sheets in the guest room.

Oh, and finally, the Freep takes a look at how Islam is lived on the majority-Muslim football team at Fordson High School in Dearborn, sneeringly referred to as “Dearbornistan” by people who have never been there. Join us as we see how the high-school athlete copes when Ramadan falls during football season:

Last season, Fordson High’s football team, which is about 95% Muslim, started 4-0.

Then Ramadan came.

The team lost its next four games, all held during the holy month. After Ramadan, the team won its last regular game of the year, squeaking into the playoffs.

Did the fasting affect their performance? Maybe.

But this season, new head coach Fouad Zaban isn’t making it an issue.

“It became an excuse, whether legitimate or not,” said Zaban, a former star running back at Fordson. “It became a distraction, something we had to deal with the last four to five years. …But our motto this year is: ‘No excuses.’ We will not bring the issue up, and we haven’t.”

Zaban is a devout Muslim and fasts. But he’s leaving the choice up to his players: There’s water on the sidelines if they want to drink during workouts. During a practice last Thursday, though, the players chose to sweat it out.

Really interesting story.

Have a great weekend.

* Of course I am kidding. We are currently experiencing climate change that is almost certainly man-made and will be catastrophic, and not just to the bottom of our boat when we try to get it out of the harbor this fall, now that the water has dropped precipitously. Sorry for any misunderstanding. That is all.

Posted at 8:38 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' |

7 responses to “Still summer.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 5, 2007 at 9:01 am

    That was really interesting. I was puzzled by this bit –

    They asked him: Can we eat and drink before the game?

    Imam Berry advised them: It’s OK, but they must make it up after Ramadan. Also, they must travel on game days at least 22 miles outside their home city before afternoon prayers, and break the fast there.

    One wonders what the special significance of ’22 miles’ is – but whatever.

    And btw, as the ‘so-called Global Warming’ contingent always retorts, when someone snorts about sub-zero temps in March – “there is a difference between Climate and Weather”

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  2. nancy said on October 5, 2007 at 9:07 am

    My favorite “so-called global warming” argument: Wow. It’s 7 degrees outside. So much for global warming!

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  3. LA mary said on October 5, 2007 at 10:25 am

    A very sad photo in Flickr:

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  4. brian stouder said on October 5, 2007 at 10:28 am

    And we thought Brit had hit the skids! Looks like Chairy was ridden hard and put away wet (as they say)

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  5. LA mary said on October 5, 2007 at 10:33 am

    I like the comment someone made about chairy having to work the street to support her loose change habit.

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  6. MichaelG said on October 6, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Over the last several years I’ve watched with scorn and disgust countless athletes and public officials apologize. Yesterday I watched Marion Jones’ shot at it. For the first time I saw an apology that appeared to me to be heartfelt and genuine. No “I’m sorry for what happened”. No “It’s time to move on”. She stated her sin, she expressed her sorrow for having committed it and her sorrow at having hurt those who trusted her. While she didn’t (at least that I saw) mention the consequences (six months in the pokey) she didn’t try to weasel out of them either. So I’ll buy it. Besides, it’s returnable isn’t it?

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  7. LA mary said on October 8, 2007 at 10:00 am

    I agree with you, Michael. She wasn’t being careful with her words on advice from her attorney. I think she feels the weight of her lies.

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