Type A, positive.

like cheers
The real 8 Mile Road, Detroit

How many times have I said reading a daily newspaper in Detroit is hardly ever boring?

Two years ago, 1-year-old Deante Reid died in his parents’ care — and, to avoid funeral costs, his parents tried to cremate him in a barbecue grill, the boy’s mother told police. But the bones wouldn’t burn completely, so the couple hid what was left of the baby in the ceiling of a home on Dickerson in Detroit.

Jesus Christ. The story gets worse: The authorities found about the barbecue because they’re investigating the abuse of another kid in the same family. Burns.


Well, don’t want to bring you down too early on Monday. I’m writing this on my birthday, a big birthday, one that ends in a zero. It doesn’t make me happy — I don’t feel 50, although I’ve looked it since 40 or so. And while I’m happy to be 50 in the 21st century, when 50 is the new 35, nothing really changes. Women are invisible past 50. Nature is a bitch. Cronehood is scant compensation, but what the hell, we all can’t be Charlotte Rampling.

Self-pity over. I’m glad to be alive, even in a world where people barbecue their children.

Besides — [jarring change of mood; distraction by shiny object] — I got a cool present. I knew it was cool when I couldn’t even play with it the whole first day because Kate was downstairs with her friends, making a series of experimental films involving mutant werewolves and delinquent teenagers. As soon as I retrieve it from the werewolves, I think it’ll be a nice new resource for NN.C. More to come.

So how was everybody’s weekend? Good, I hope. I celebrated my impending midcentury doom by giving blood Friday. I mean, why not? I’ve always been a blood donor; all anyone has ever had to do is ask. This was my 49th unit, and yes, I noted the symmetry. I started when I was young and healthy in Columbus, Ohio, and have seen quite a few things change since then. Image-wise, blood products have gone from being the very stuff of life to agents of contagion more akin to toxic waste. The usually put a sticker on your shirt as you’re leaving, something like, “Be nice to me! I gave blood today.” If they were redesigning the stickers today, they should say, “Bow down before me! I have no communicable diseases, nor do I take Plavix, coumadin or Accutane and to my knowledge have not had sex with a man who’s had sex with another man since 1977.”

I’ve learned that the blood you give isn’t immediately rushed across the street to be infused in an accident victim; sometimes it’s exported to another part of the world. Blood is a commodity, and the Red Cross treats it as such, and you shouldn’t be shocked or offended to learn this. Remember those horrible pictures of 9/11, of all the emergency medical personnel lined up in ambulance bays, waiting for injured that never arrived? Remember how America responded? (The ones without stupid blogs, that is.) Feeling helpless in their living rooms, watching the carnage on TV, they went down to their local blood banks and donated a pint, blood that was, quite frankly, of no use to the thousands who died that day. Blood has a shelf life; gallons had to be discarded, rivers of blood now soaking into bio-waste landfills. Lesson: Think before you give.

Of course, there’s always a need. Most blood stays in the communities where it’s collected. Every year it gets scarcer, and once you’ve donated blood in the 21st century, you understand why. When I started donating in the late ’70s, the questions were about hepatitis and recent vaccinations, and the nice nurses touched you with their bare hands. Within a few years, they started asking about AIDS and HIV, and everyone wore latex. A few years later, they instituted a private-moment interlude in the interview, when you could slip behind a screen and put an anonymous bar-code sticker on your chart that told the computer what you were too embarrassed to tell the nice nurse — that you were an IV drug abuser or a catcher at last Saturday night’s bareback anal-sex orgy.

Friday was my first donor appointment in four years. The last one, in 2003, was memorable because it was in our office, and was marked by two faintings (Emma’s husband swooned, and Emma, watching, swooned in sympathy. Or maybe it was the other way around.) and a set-to between a gay editor and the bureaucracy of the American Red Cross, who found his protestations of rigorous HIV testing, safe-sex practices and mutual monogamy unconvincing, and rejected him permanently. This year, I was told by a gruff nurse to read the manual before I even signed in.

“I’ve got some experience with this,” I said. “Is there anything new?”

“The FDA requires us to make you read the manual,” she replied.

OK. The manual: Do you feel well today? Are you prone to fainting spells? Had a recent tattoo? Positive drug test for HIV? All familiar questions, then a new medical horror: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Variant. Had a dura mater transplant lately? God, no. Cancer? Chemo? Infections? On to the contraindicated drug list, which had grown by a page, now encompassing many of the wonder drugs advertised on prime-time television. Insulin from bovine sources, blood thinners, acne drugs linked to birth defects. I began to wonder if this was worth it for a couple of cookies, a glass of orange juice and a free blood-pressure check.

It took 45 minutes to get through the screening. After that, the needle stick was a relief.

The whole operation was understaffed, and I didn’t have the usual post-donation experience of being walked to the canteen by an old man who keeps a firm grip on your elbow, lest you pass out. They waved me over to the Lorna Doones with a gesture and told me to call if I developed any alarming symptoms or recalled a previously forgotten interlude with a Village Person. The experience was, like so many things these days, not what it used to be.

So be nice to me. I put up with a lot of shit to keep the country’s blood supply safe.


Meet a 3-year-old drum prodigy. Does he have a website? But of course. Sounds like his career’s well underway, which is good, because his parents have enrolled him in a school that will require many record sales to meet the tuition bill.

Amy Winehouse is Judy Garland, 2007 version. What the hell is that hanging down between her legs? A tampon string?

More later, but less of it. I have so much work to do this week I’ll barely have time to make videos. There’s a problem to have, eh?

Posted at 9:50 am in Same ol' same ol' |

39 responses to “Type A, positive.”

  1. 4dbirds said on November 26, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Thank you Nancy. When my 2 year old daughter was undergoing chemo, she needed blood tranfusions on a regular basis. Those anonymous donors saved her life just as much as the doctors who treated her. I used to give on a regular basis also until anyone who lived in Europe in the 80s was banned. It makes me wonder if the ARC is over-compensating for how they didn’t take AIDS seriously or if Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is more a problem than we’re being told.

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  2. brian stouder said on November 26, 2007 at 10:04 am

    And interestingly enough, Amy Winehouse could well qualify to be a blood donor (I do pheresis – where they give me my red stuff back, and just keep the platelets…but you usually get stuck in both arms, and it takes 70 minutes or so – and if you’re lucky in your arrival time, you get the remote control for the tv), as long as the tatoos are more than 6 months old, and she only snorts her cocaine (and doesn’t inject it!)

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  3. nancy said on November 26, 2007 at 10:11 am

    You’re welcome. I don’t know if the ARC didn’t take AIDS seriously or not, however. Certainly, blood and blood products were a big contagion vector early on in the epidemic, but once the test was devised, that took care of things. Where they erred, I think, was in education. I recall being regularly stunned at how often the Red Cross would feel the need to say, “You can’t get AIDS from being a blood donor,” because fear of AIDS was really doing a number on their donor ranks.

    It seemed like such a no-brainer — you can get AIDS from receiving blood, not giving it, and the needles were always one-use disposables. People must really be criminally stupid.

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  4. Dorothy said on November 26, 2007 at 10:12 am

    My first official weekend living in Ohio again was celebrated by visiting our son in Columbus, and we (me, Josh & Mike) all donated blood together. There was a Bloodmobile outside of Best Buy in Polaris Shopping Center (I think) and it was fun, sitting there and razzing each other while we filled out the paperwork. I think we made the nurses dizzy with all of our goofing around. It was fun. I’ve only gotten light headed once when donating, and it was during the drip, not getting up afterwards. And once a co-worker fainted in my cubicle when she stopped by to chat after donating. Scared the crap out of me.

    Our holiday was nice for the most part. But it was also a little sad because Josh and his fiance called off their engagement. That’s small potatoes compared to the news that my cousin Nora’s son Jeff (32 years old) found out he has a large tumor in his stomach. He sees a specialist a week from today. We’re all pretty stunned by this. Jeff’s dad died almost 20 years ago from leukemia. Needless to say, we are all hoping for the best possible outcome.

    Brian – my husband has done the pheresis too. To Rich, the one who died of leukemia. He hasn’t done it in a long time, but I think he would if anyone asked him.

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  5. alex said on November 26, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Glad to know the blood supply’s in such good hands. Remember the old Plasma Donor Center here in the Fort? Wasn’t all that long ago when the worst skanks would line up in the morning outside of that place to get their drug money.

    All this close-up fuss about Amy Winehouse’s nasal lesion and they ignore her tampon string? Jeez.

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  6. Julie said on November 26, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Just had to stop by and wish you a most happy birthday. I check in every day, and your posts are always a thought-provoking (and oftentimes, laugh-provoking) interlude in my day. I’m going to be right behind you on the approach to 5-0, and my son is Kate’s age, so very best wishes from a Georgia fan.

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  7. Dorothy said on November 26, 2007 at 10:17 am

    I don’t think that’s a tampon string. It doesn’t look sturdy enough. I think it’s hanging from the hem of her garment.

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  8. Laura said on November 26, 2007 at 10:20 am


    I’m sorry to hear your news. But please know that what they can now do for cancer verses what was done 20 (or even 5) years ago is nothing short of amazing. I’ll keep good thoughts for you.

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  9. Connie said on November 26, 2007 at 10:38 am

    My kid had major jaw surgery when she was 15, and the surgeon had her donate her own blood before the surgery, just in case. She was completely freaked out when the nurse asked her if she had sex with any men from Africa in the last year. They didn’t need her blood during the surgery and I was dismayed to learn it could not be used for someone else and would be discarded.

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  10. MichaelG said on November 26, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Happy Birthday!!

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  11. John said on November 26, 2007 at 10:55 am

    What Dorothy said about the raggedy-ass “singer”.

    And a Happy Belated Birthday to you! We celebrated Betsy’s 50th in Cancun, you should have beaten up Alan to take you somewhere nice (and left Kate behind!). Remember, 50 is the new 30!

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  12. Dorothy said on November 26, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Thanks, Laura. That’s exactly what I told Nora when we heard of the news. But Nora’s reply was “Yes, the brain is saying all those common sense things about the advances in the treatment of cancer. But my heart is exploding at the very thought of what he might have to go through.”

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  13. LA mary said on November 26, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Happy Birthday, and trust me 50 is not so bad. Just keep moving and keep your eyes and ears open and it’s all fine. Until the hot flashes, but that’s another thing.
    I am occasionally anemic, so I go to the blood donor room here every month to see if I’m not too anemic to give blood. Twice I haven’t been. They’re a lot nicer in there than you described. Good cookies, choice of juice, and a coupon for a pint of Baskin Robbins. And I get out of my office for 45 minutes or so, which is always a good thing.

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  14. colleen said on November 26, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Happy Birthday…I’m ten years behind you and still feeling trauma from the big 4 0.

    I started giving blood over the summer…face the fear and get over it kind of thing. Last time I almost got sick and passed out. They tipped me ass over teakettle and handed me a red plastic bag before I finished the sentence “I don’t feel well”.

    Next time I will eat before I go…..

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  15. Danny said on November 26, 2007 at 11:33 am

    A very Happy Birthday to you, Nancy! WooHoo. In two years, my wife will join you.

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  16. Danny said on November 26, 2007 at 11:34 am

    About the blood thing. A few of you might remember what I shared a couple of years ago here. I have a cousin who is a hemophiliac, now in his late 20’s. He has also been HIV-positive since the age of four due to a tainted blood transfusion. Talk about messed up. Try to imagine going through childhood and adolescence with HIV and the propensity to bleed lke a river.

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  17. Sue said on November 26, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Happy Birthday, youngster! I really don’t mind being invisible so much, but I have a real fear of becoming a Thoughtless Impolite Old Person. Seems to start around 50 or so and gets worse. Maybe time’s getting short, but that doesn’t entitle me to hate young people, push to the front of the line, be rude and cheap to servers, or make my family’s lives miserable. Seems like the older you get, the more pronounced your bad characteristics become, and I really watch myself for signs that I’m “turning”. So far so good. I think.

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  18. James Moehrke said on November 26, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Happy birthday Nancy! It’s mine, too, and I’m here at the newspaper working when I’d rather be lollygagging at home (if you consider reading blogs working, that is). I’m now officially closer to the big six zero than your 50, but having a 15-year-old is helping to keep me young. At least that’s my story.

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  19. ashley said on November 26, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Happy 50 Nance. You’re still a “1” on the Ashley Morris Binary Hotness Scale (TM).

    I think you should celebrate by a) getting a tattoo and b) getting a cheap drunk. That’s the other benefit of giving blood.

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  20. MichaelG said on November 26, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    I wish I was 50 again and knew what I know now. If I don’t forget it.

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  21. Jeff said on November 26, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Congrats on the half-century mark, Blogmistress Ours, and thanks for the donation — that’s a nice review of the peculiarities of the system in your post, said an every 60 day O neg donor. Eleven and a half gallons, and i still can’t quite figure out what they’re doing when they do it, except gaming the price of certain tests versus the downside of rudely screening out major subpopulations (read, gay men) they’ll need back someday.

    There’s clearly still a major worry about Mad Cow/BSE/C-J floating around out in the global medical community though, as those questions have been in the interview for a long time, and get more focused, not less. Just a few weeks in the British Isles can get you spiked for donation, while your safari in Kenya draws a “s’OK.” When i was in seminary running blood drives, a short stay in Africa and the shots you got were just casually told “lifetime deferral, thanks for playing.” Ditto tattoos. Now it’s 30 days for licensed piercings or tattoos, a year for (ahem) more informal workmanship, unless you got your jailhouse tat from the confines of a cell you held down for more than three days, in which case . . . lifetime (for now) deferral.

    Dorothy, watch out on the trip home! The deer, they are a ‘runnin’. A friend’s step-daughter accordioned a car in front of her that hit a buck (six point, throw ’em back) darting across the road. Oddly, the shelves where the small, pint-sized flat bottles of scotch and whiskey normally sit are all empty this morning . . . ah, deer gun season.

    Now there’s a way to celebrate a b-day, Nancy.

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  22. Dorothy said on November 26, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks, Jeff. I was actually cautious at lunch time when I ran home to walk the pup. I’d rather just stay indoors for the next 8 days or so, except for my job. It’s just easier that way.

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  23. ie said on November 26, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Happy Birthday! Today is the first day of the blah blah blah.
    Just be glad that ol’ skanky Amy Wino wasn’t in the booth next to you, racing for the Lorna Doones.

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  24. beb said on November 26, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Ah yes, the Booby Trap. I’ve seem that message on their sign. It’s good for a laugh.

    In the time of the premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – that would be 6-8 years ago, my daughter and a classmate were going to the opening, I was driving. My daughter is 15 now so se must have been 8-9 at the time. We were driving down 8 Mile because it was rush hour and 696 would have been impassable. When we passed BT’s my daughter’s friend volunteered that that was a topless bar. Up till then I don’t think my daughter had ever heard of topless bars, let alone considered what people do inside one. My fear for the rest of the drive was that she would ask that question. Fortunately she didn’t, but talk about awkward…

    bebe (20 years an eastsider)

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  25. brian stouder said on November 26, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    and really, if you walked into Cheers and it was topless, wouldn’t you run out screaming? (Diane??!! Carla??!! George has a bigger rack than all of Sam’s staff combined)

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  26. Cosmo Panzini said on November 26, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    That skinny-ass young singer(?) reinforces my long-held belief that tattoos, no matter how artfully done, are merely displays of self-loathing. I can imagine no other reason to have them. Oh, and Happy Birthday Nancy. The 5 0 is tough for a while, but like everything else, the horror fades.

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  27. Peter said on November 26, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday to you Nancy. I hit the 50 last year, and other than realizing that I’m on the B side now, it’s not bad.

    Last time I gave blood I caused a commotion because I wouldn’t eat one of the powdered doughnuts afterwards “You need the sugar” they said, “I’d rather afint than eat one of those sorry excuses for a doughnut” said I. I’m sorry, but in my book doughnuts are raised, big, and covered in chocolate.

    If you believe that good art comes out of suffering or deprivation, Amy Winehouse has got the formula down pat. I love her music, but I can’t help but feel that I’m contributing to her early demise.

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  28. alex said on November 26, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Amy’s only nineteen. Or maybe twenty now. From my standpoint as a forty-something lush she’s got a lotta good years left. Here’s hoping she continues to do her thing for art’s sake.

    Oh, and happy five-oh Nance! I’m looking forward to my big bash in a coupla years. Please don’t make me go to rehab before then.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on November 26, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Happy Birthday, Nance! It’s taken me awhile to get over turning 50, and I had no problem with 30 or 40. It was the first time I thought about how when my Dad was my age, he only had 12 years of life left. Depressing.

    The Red Cross people really love you when you’re O negative and haven’t had the RSV virus (I think that’s the one). They call and gently remind you that you have the special blood they give the newborns. Not that they’d want you to feel guilty.

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  30. basset said on November 26, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    south of Nashville on I-65, just above the Alabama state line, you can see the “Boobie Bungalow”… where, a few years ago, a couple of 400-pound locals murdered one of the strippers, chopped her up, and tried to burn her mortal remains in a metal drum with the trash.

    meanwhile, I am coming up on 35 years of blood donation, starting at IU back in the early 70s when we used to line up for hours in Alumni Hall because Purdue was gonna win the blood-drive contest if we didn’t all turn out and help. never went to a single football game the whole time I was there, no basketball either unless I was working, but I’ll sure bleed for old IU. still don’t have babesiosis or Chagas’ disease, either.

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  31. michaelj said on November 26, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Could somebody explain to me what the J. Geils conection is to actual Detroit music? I hate to come across as some elitist, but I grew up going to the Motown Revue and the Michigan State Fair. We had SRC and MC5 and Bob Seger System. And we had Motown.

    We didn’t lack for musical talent. I know Hideout was before Nancy’s time, but, for instance, Pep Perrine on drums behind Seger on lead on Ramblin’ Gamblin’ was nonpareil, and Heavy Music, those were better than all of the other regional records of that time in space, including Geils. Actually, SRC was as good as MC5, maybe better.

    I went to school in New England (at Holy Cross) about that same time, and there were Bary and the Remains, James Montgomery etc. Those Boston bands put Giles in the also-ran, but Detroit ruled. Good grief, Amboy Dukes were actually better.

    I know none of you ever heard Detroit music first hand in the late 60s. If you think “Somebody Help Me” exists in the same universe as “Shakin’ Street”, well that’s the same sort of mindset that leads to voting Republican. Listen to the Sonic and Brother Wayne Kramer twin guitars on any song on “Kick Out the Jams” and you see where Skynyrd got the idea.

    Anyway, I don’t understand J. Geils hagiography on an allegedly Detroit website. I did kinda get the drinking with Magic Dick reference. I was in Jack’s on Mass Ave. with Peter Wolfe when Reggie Jackson actually cheated in the ’77 World Series. The wooma-gooma voice of the J. Geils Band was outraged about the obvious cheating.

    Amazingly, the only other time I ever saw the guy was the night Isiah threw the inbound pass rightto Larry. Who hit DJ for the game winner. We were on the sidewalk. On Massachusetts Ave. Outside Jack’s, home away fromhome of Bonny, the crazy redhead, Raitt. The club where they both became famous. About 200 back from the TV. He was a DJ before he ever got to sing “Love Stinks”. Good guy. Boston guy.

    Anyway, that was the night Isiah became a legendary asshole pariah by attempting to denigrate Larry when Larry punked him on the court. “If he (WAS) black, he’d just be another player”. Try the subjunctive, moron. Worse than Matt Millen’s ouvre. We went home and played “Tales of Lucy Blue” aka, “Ramblin”Gamblin Man”.

    Of course, if you love Detroit music, and you’ve got a brain these days, Edwin Starr was clairvoyant, except that it was “war” and not “occupation” he thought was patently useless. Two plus two is on my mind.

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  32. michaelj said on November 27, 2007 at 2:40 am

    Would everybody agree that Warren’s Werewolf is the greatest werewolf song? But of course, he also wrote the great “lawyer” song. Did any of y’all ever see Warren in person? I can play a 12-string pretty well. This guy was ridiculously good.

    But he wrote condensed versions of history, world and personal. “I heard Woodrow Wilson’s guns
    I heard Maria calling
    Saying, “Veracruz is dying
    And Cuernavaca’s falling”

    Cuernevaca was a bad place to get caught up in historic moments.

    Apparently, Warren’s best friend in his later years was John D. McDonald. Surprising he didn’t seek out his fellow LA curmudgeon Walter Moseley, who carries the John D. McDonald flame. Walter Moseley wrote this: “You said don’t shoot him, right? Well I didn’t. I choked him. If you didn’t want him killed, Easy, why’d you leave him with me?” Raymond “Mouse” Alexander. The definitive Don Cheadle role.

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  33. Dave said on November 27, 2007 at 3:12 am

    Wow, what a lot of interesting comments that stray all over. Nancy, happy birthday, I’ve got seven years on you and it isn’t too bad but the next big-0 birthday might make me think otherwise. It’s true, if you’ve got your health, I don’t know if you have everything but without it, nothing else matters as much.

    Julie Robinson, my wife woke up on the morning of her 56th birthday and the first thing she said was, “I’ve lived longer than my dad”. Something I knew she was thinking for awhile but she’d never come out and directly said it.

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  34. elaine said on November 27, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Happy Birthday, Nancy! I’m a year and some behind you, so break fifty in good for me.

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  35. del said on November 27, 2007 at 8:40 am

    michaelj, great stuff. As for its Detroit connection, as near as I can tell Geils just started getting a ton of radio airplay.

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  36. john c said on November 27, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I think, like Metro Times, you had a different idea of Detroit songs. J Geils’ was a great song “about” Detroit, or at least with a Detroit reference … not necessarily from Detroit. And I won’t quibble with how he stacks up with the greats you mentioned. But, even though I didn’t grow up here, I will suggest that Peter Wolf and co embody a certain Detroit rockin’ spirit in the tradition of the MC5, the Amboy Dukes, Iggy and the Stooges, etc., which is to say they were a great rockin’ party band. You didn’t go to one of their shows to stand their and listen to some good songs. You went there to participate in an arse-whoopin’ show.

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  37. michaela said on November 27, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    A belated Happy Birthday from a longtime lurker… I aspire to join y’all in the second half of your first century one day.

    As for Peter Wolf: I have nothing to say about his Detroit cred, but I will say that he showed up at the Springsteen show in Boston last week and, holy cow, is he the worse for the wear. He did a loose-limbed dance/singalong with Patti Scialfa during “10th Avenue Freezeout” and then slithered offstage. He was on the 2nd or 3rd step when he realized he’d left his cocktail on the drum riser; hastier moves were never seen. I only wonder what was in that cup…

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  38. brian stouder said on November 27, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Welcome Michaela!

    I’ve only been to a very few concerts; caught John Mellencamp at Deer Creek – which was marvelous. As Motor City 5 is to Detroit, so too is Mellencamp to an open-air venue in an Indiana cornfield in July.

    One thing about that concert, though, was that Blind Mellon was the opening act. They had one big hit out – No Rain – and they were just terrible!! Awful!! Worse than crashing hammers in a metal beam shop. The lead singer was literally rolling on the stage and groaning and gurgling….he would be dead of an OD within a few months.

    (and in fact, Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder had a little ditty out directed at Blind Melon’s lead singer, but alas – he paid no heed!)

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  39. Kim said on November 27, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Late again, but happy birthday and many, many more!

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