When we were in San Francisco, Kate asked how cold it got there in the winter. Easy enough to check in the land where they invented wi-fi, and lo it was revealed, the chart of average monthly temperatures a gentle undulation, like something lapping a Caribbean beach. If it were a hill, it wouldn’t even make a cyclist breathe hard.

“Let’s check how that compares with us,” I told her, and a few keystrokes later we beheld the brutal sine wave of average Detroit temperatures. It was one of those tell-me-again-why-I-live-here moments.

And yesterday was one of those tell-me-why-I-live-here days. Hot and muggy, the sort of day where pumping up the tires on the bike sends sweat pouring down your face. Over the years, I find my sweat glands closing — I now have a cool, dry handshake, something that eluded me throughout my dewy youth, when I was doing a lot of job interviews — everywhere but from the neck up. I guess this is another sign of creeping geezerism, but it makes me feel like the human sprinkler, schvitzing like a firehose pointed at the sky. I came home from the gym with a wet head, looking like Scary Sweaty Woman, and it set the tone for the day, spent mostly indoors, glaring at the thick air outside.

I got out to vote, of course, stopping a moment to marvel at the brave souls who volunteer to be poll workers, a 14-hour day in Michigan. Turnout was barely noticeable, but they still seemed to be in a dither. They’re always in a dither — there’s something about the rituals of voting combined with the natural ditherhood of senior citizens that makes the process seem ridiculously complicated. First you fill out a request for a ballot. Then you sign in, have your ID checked, get your name crossed off the list, get a ballot and step into the privacy booth to fill it out. Our precinct uses optical-character scans — the fill-in-the-oval, paper-ballot method — and along with your ballot you’re handed a complicated modesty shield, a cardboard folder with strategic cutouts, designed to let you feed your ballot into the machine without revealing a single oval to prying eyes.

Only there are never any prying eyes, and frankly, I don’t care if they see who I voted for. I’m an open book. The folder is cumbersome, and once I tried to reject it at the source. “That’s not necessary,” I said. “I know the procedure.”

Klaxon horns might as well have sounded. A voter is rejecting the folder? Unleash the hounds! The lady looked so flummoxed I finally said, “Well, OK,” took it and did my bit like a good citizen. Some rules aren’t worth the trouble of breaking.

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick pulled it out. It was close, however; if there had been only one opponent instead of two, I’m confident she would have gone down in flames. Alan was listening to her victory speech, and she said she planned on staying in Congress until she was damn good and ready to leave. In some cities they pretend to serve at the pleasure of the electorate, but not here. (Well, at least she’s honest, because that’s how long she’ll be there.)

My own Michigan House district was a livelier race. The seat was opened up by term limits, with a 10-candidate scrum to fill it. The most interesting race was the Republican primary, where a well-funded Grosse Pointe CPA with three names pulled out a decisive victory over a couple city councilmen and assorted novices. She was the victim of last-minute robo-calling; a woman’s voice with a heavy southern accent (yeah, I know — weird) said she wasn’t really a CPA nor a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, as claimed on her campaign literature. Two rounds of calls went out, both with female voices, suggesting a tone of nasty gossip. Fingers are pointing on the blogs, but so far no one accepts responsibility.

Anyway, she won. Water under the bridge.

Today looks clearer and a few degrees cooler — hello, high pressure — so I’m headed out to enjoy it. In the meantime, I hope the rest of you are reading Coozledad’s blog, Rurritable, with his amusing accounts of life on his North Carolina farm. The animal pictures are the best, as C’dad spurns the usual Holsteins and Yorkshires in favor of cattle with horns and emus. (What is that cow wearing in that milking photo, dude? A girdle?) I also like his animal naming, a true sign of a vegetarian farmer. The current calf is Calpurnia, and she’s growing up at her mother’s side, unusual for a dairy calf on most farms. She’ll be a well-adjusted and contented cow when it’s her turn, I expect.

Oh, the bull’s name: Llewd. Best bull name ever.

My fascination with the Detroit News’ Tax Blog grows by the day, as it seems to be building to an inevitable conclusion: Everyone in Detroit owes the IRS something. For now, some owe more than others, including Aretha Franklin, whose money problems don’t interest me as much as the engineering of her evening wear; she keeps showing up in these strapless numbers. Why can’t we harness this power for the struggling automotive sector, I ask you?

That’s it for me, folks. Off to the library.

Posted at 10:24 am in Current events, Detroit life |

25 responses to “Mugged.”

  1. coozledad said on August 6, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Nancy, it seems to me I owe you some artwork or something. If I ever post any stuff out there you want, let me know. God knows no one will buy it.

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  2. LAMary said on August 6, 2008 at 11:11 am

    It’s been weirdly muggy here in LA for a few weeks, which is actually preferable to the usual 100 degrees with 20 percent humidity. It doesn’t feel like everything is about to burst into flames. The sweaty face and head thing is a pain though. Putting makeup on a damp face is no fun. You’re right about the shifting of the sweatiness. No more wet palms, but my hair looks like a damp dead animal.

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  3. Dorothy said on August 6, 2008 at 11:12 am

    “…including Aretha Franklin, whose money problems don’t interest me as much as the engineering of her evening wear; she keeps showing up in these strapless numbers.”

    This nearly made me spit ice water all over the screen! Good one, Nance.

    And “dither” must be the word of the day. Five minutes before I read today’s entry in your blog, I sent an email to an absent co-worker, who forgot to tell one of the higher-ups here that she’d be out sick today. I described this lady as being in a dither. How ’bout that?

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  4. LAMary said on August 6, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Goodness, that Aretha pic with the strapless dress is a doozy.

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  5. Dorothy said on August 6, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Does anyone dare to click on the “enlarge” button under that picture??

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  6. beb said on August 6, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I went to bed last night thinking Cheeks-Kilpatrick got what she had coming to her — defeat — and now you say she won! Is there no justice in the world? Are there enough exclaimation points to register my shock and outrage?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Funny how late reporting precinct turned the tide for her. Just as late-reporting precincts in Ohio turned the tide for Bush in 2004. Voter fraud? I wouldn’t put it past them. You know that this means that for the first time in forty years of voting, I’m going to have to vote for a Republican this November.

    For state representative I voted for Ken Poynter who had the audacity to come knocking on my door for his support. He’s the only politician I can remember ever doing that.

    The polling place was insufferably hot. Seems scrappers had stolen the building’s AC a week earlier. The irony here is that the building is the Detroit Area Residents East watch group’s headquarters.

    Reasons to live in Detroit:
    Floods — no.
    Hurricanes — no.
    Earthquakes — no
    tornados — rare.
    Not as cold as Minneapolis.
    Not as hot as Dallas

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  7. Danny said on August 6, 2008 at 11:27 am

    A word of explication about Mary’s “weirdly muggy” comment.

    “Muggy” out here in California means “comfortable” in most other parts of the country. I’ll be back in Baltimore this week to experience what “muggy” means to the rest of you.

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  8. LAMary said on August 6, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I know from muggy, Danny. I grew up in NJ. I consider it muggy when the towel I used in the morning is still wet at 7 pm and it smells mildewy. That’s what it’s been like here.

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  9. Colleen said on August 6, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Ugh. Fort Wayne’s graph is just as fugly as the D’s.

    Natural ditherhood of senior citizens. Yes. What’s that about?! Simple things become time consumin questions and answers and checks and rechecks.

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  10. Jolene said on August 6, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Aretha’s dress actually has straps. Very thin straps, to be sure, but they’re there.

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  11. alex said on August 6, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    A little off topic, but the talker in the Fort Wayne media today is about an exhibitionist arrested on Hanna Street with a claw hammer up his ass.

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  12. Jolene said on August 6, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    News like that, alex, is au courant any time.

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  13. LAMary said on August 6, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Why, if you somehow got a clawhammer stuck up your ass, would you want to show it off?

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  14. coozledad said on August 6, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Not something you see every day, that’s for sure. If he could get a tape measure and a tri-square up there too, he wouldn’t have to buy a toolbag.

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  15. brian stouder said on August 6, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Maybe it is Handy Manny’s twisted cousin

    Personally, Pat the claw hammer wouldn’t do it for me. Squeeze is a hot number….and Felipe is a better conversationalist than Pat

    PS – I was going to try and joke about the parallelism in the post, between Cz’s girdle-wearing cow, and Aretha’s very-ample, strapless (Jolene, straps? What straps?), outreaching attributes, but couldn’t see how to do it and still avoid implying that Aretha is a cow….so I skipped it

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  16. Danny said on August 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I knew that, Mary. I was just poking fun at the others by rubbing it in about our normally very fine weather. In truth though, when I hear native Californians comment on humidity here, I do tend to roll my eyes a bit.

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  17. LAMary said on August 6, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    It’s like when they complain about cold. Anything below 70 is cold.

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  18. Danny said on August 6, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    I know. And then when we get just a little bit of much-needed rain, the local TV news anchors pitch it to the weatherman with a whiny comment like:

    “Well, weatherman Mike, it is a an absolute mess out there today. Can you give us any good news about when this awful precipitation stuff will end?!?”

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  19. brian stouder said on August 6, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    and did you notice the microphones that the well-engineered Aretha, the Queen of Soul, has in front of her, and firmly in her grip? (always good to have a backup, I guess)

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  20. Dexter said on August 6, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I arrived in Cal in January, during the Crosby Clambake, which is what the big Pebble Beach golf deal was called.
    In The City, I remember cool February days, rained all the time, cold rain. The summers were beautiful along the coast, inland, of course, it was summer. Hot summer. In the San Joaquin valley it looked like Indiana, for all the hay baling.

    It gets most unpleasant only in October. It gets freakin’ HOT in San Francisco in October…up over a hundred F sometimes, look it up.
    It’s called “Mediterranean Climate” and I loved it, except for rainy February and hot-as-all-hell October. Back then, one only had to worry about fires in October…now the damn fire season last all year long! Now the rich Californians just move to the South of France, or wherever they want…the California dream has gone up in smoke for many.

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  21. LAMary said on August 6, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Doesn’t that attitude about rain boggle the mind? Three years of drought and a seven month fire season, but please let the sun shine every day. The rain is so depressing.

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  22. Jolene said on August 6, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    (Jolene, straps? What straps?)

    Click on the picture to enlarge it, and you’ll see them. Thin spaghetti straps almost the same color as her skin.

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  23. joodyb said on August 6, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    She dares to enlarge! a lesson for us all.

    Some two decades ago we arrived in the Twin Cities ahead of a signature blizzard that heralded 2 weeks of blinding snow and wind. I was trapped indoors with baby Pete, but eventually i had to go outside and learn to live with it. upside was, spring was a real baby-bird spring, though summer brought a biblical flood, but otherwise gorgeous. people go outside in shorts in march, they’re so happy it’s above 40.

    in the new millennium, winters are rarely so extreme, and we get a month or so of Minneapolis ‘mug’ to rival summers in Philadelphia. i recall my aunt and uncle running the AC 24/7 and thinking man, everyone is doing that, it must cost a fortune! i’d have slit my wrists last month had it not been for Mr. Slim.

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  24. LAMary said on August 6, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I don’t think that’s a microphone in her hand. It looks like some sort of award.

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  25. alex said on August 6, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    The Smoking Gun tells the story even better than the Fort Wayne dailies—with the actual police report:

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