Hi, neighbor.

I talked to JohnC yesterday, who also lives in the Pointes, and he said he was about to send me an e-mail passing along the latest civic rumor: That soon-to-be-ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had closed on a house in Grosse Pointe Shores, at a two-digit number — i.e., close to the lake — on Oxford Road. John’s a reporter too, and we batted around the possibility this was true before deciding it probably wasn’t. He doesn’t have that kind of money (the house is $1.5 million), no one would lend him that kind of money, leaving the city of Detroit would send the wrong message to the constituency he hopes to lead again one day and, finally, it just didn’t pass the smell test. It dovetails a little too neatly with some Pointers’ need to believe everyone wants to live in the 48236, and of course it rings the lizard-brain bell about the Threatening Negro come to disrupt the peace in Whiteville.

The Pointes haven’t been all-white for a couple of generations, but they’re pretty white. There are affluent African Americans here and there, but not in any kind of significant numbers. A black family of the Kilpatricks’ demographic and education wouldn’t raise eyebrows, but Kilpatrick himself would raise them, believe me. It’s hard to describe how spittle-flecked the loathing of him is in the suburbs, which always seemed a waste of energy to me. While it’s true his administration has been a disaster, a virtual carnival of pocket-lining and perjury, the specific objection to him suggests things would be different, and better, with a new mayor, and that I’m not sure of. What’s going on in Detroit, what was going on before Kilpatrick and will continue later, isn’t administration as much as it’s looting. It’s a brutal comparison, but to me you could change the name Kilpatrick to Duvalier, and get a pretty rough parallel.

Anyway, the media checked out the rumor and confirmed our suspicion: No sale.

Let’s deal further in ethnic stereotypes, shall we? I was struck by this photo from the New York Times today. This man is evacuating ahead of Hurricane Ike:


Story here. His name is Juan Rodriguez, which I assume in a Texas Gulf Coast resident suggests Mexican heritage, and he owns a chihuahua. Does your dog share your ethnic heritage? Do dogs share any part of their human equivalent’s ethnic stereotype? It’s hard not to see Deutschland’s personality in its German shepherds and Rottweilers, but what France has to do with French bulldogs remains a mystery to me — although, now that I think about it, a French bulldog is generally more fashionable than its English equivalent.

Ah, Friday. Time to clean the house. Any bloggage? Not much, but this:

Roger Ebert, my hero. Are all New York Post writers thugs? Or is this just indicative of the mood at overstuffed, overhyped film festivals?

Have a good weekend, all.

UPDATE: Speaking of chihuahuas, I need to add a link to this, one of my favorite commercials ever. (Embedding is disabled, alas.) It’s from the short-lived Viva Gorditas campaign, and I loved it because, in the late 1990s, it referenced a whole lot of things that were already far out of date and way over the heads of the target Taco Bell demographic, i.e., teenage boys. The classic banana-republic, ruler-who-speaks-from-a-balcony tropes — the red banners, the cheering crowds, the tinny speakers mounted on a pole, the old-fashioned microphone, Che’s beret — just cracked me up. I notice this version is 22 seconds, an odd length, and I recall one that ended with an image right out of a Soviet May Day poster, with the dog leading the cheering crowd down a dike or embankment, with farm fields spreading out to the side, while three jets pass in formation overhead. How on earth did they sell that one to corporate?

When we were in Argentina, and were taken through Evita’s Casa Roja, I longed to step out on the balcony, cup my hand in a wave, and call out, “Viva Gorditas.” Because that’s just the sort of ugly American I am.

Posted at 9:53 am in Detroit life, Movies |

44 responses to “Hi, neighbor.”

  1. alex said on September 12, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Well, I have a rescued Doberman. Before adopting it, I made sure to read up on the breed, which I’d always found somewhat menacing owing to popular stereotypes.

    They’re actually very timid and tend to be loyal to only one person. They’re very intelligent and trainable. And I read that they were bred in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century to be a “master race” of dog.

    The book I read said the early ones were very aggressive, a trait that has mostly been bred out of them. I believe it. Never have I seen a dog tolerate small children jumping on it and just being children without snapping.

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  2. moe99 said on September 12, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I have an elderly black lab (Max) and a miniature dachshund (Scooter) who make a great Mutt and Jeff pair for walks. This summer Scooter decided to fetch in the water just like Max and it makes quite a sight as he has to whip his tail back and forth to remain upright while swimming back. I’ve had a number of folks comment on it as they mosey past us.

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  3. Colleen said on September 12, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I had a co-worker who always had dobies, and the one she had when I knew her was a sweetie. She used to sit by me, and then lean against me in a very affectionate way. I’m not a dog person, but this was a great dog.

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  4. alex said on September 12, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Colleen, it’s funny but my dobe does the same thing with certain people. I guess you must give off an easy-going vibe. She gets very agitated around some people, and I don’t know whether she’s picking up on my dislike of them or she dislikes them for her own reasons, but I think her instincts are dead-on.

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  5. JC said on September 12, 2008 at 10:54 am

    My retired greyhound and I obviously do not share a heritage. Walking that dog will give a person a body-image complex. But we both like curling up on the sofa to watch movies, so we have that in common.

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  6. Dorothy said on September 12, 2008 at 11:00 am

    For the whole month of September last year, Mike & I rented the 2nd floor of a great Victorian home here. The owner had lots of acreage, a barn, and several other out buildings. He had a Doberman named Bullett. I was always nervous around Dobes because of their reputation, but this dog was sweet as can be. They had a shock collar on him, and he’d worn out a path around the barn where the electronic fence was buried. But out behind the barn there was a large area where he could run and play.

    Since we didn’t have Augie with us, I was out there every single evening playing with Bullet, loving on him, and he’d do that “lean” thing to me, too. The owner would grumble at me “You’re gonna spoil that dog!” I never once saw the owner pet him or interact with him. The dog craved attention. I’d love to take him off their hands when we finally move into our house in a few months. I’ll never ever understand why people keep a dog outside like that. It’s no life for the dog.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on September 12, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Because of our stupid allergies we don’t get to have pets. But the neighbors behind us got a couple of adorable puppies earlier this year. Our son often goes out to play with them and it breaks my heart to see the mutual love. But I’m with Dorothy and wouldn’t consign dogs to a completely outdoor life.

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  8. LAMary said on September 12, 2008 at 11:17 am

    English Bulldogs are now very fashionable. They are overtaking the little cute things that overly made up young ladies carry around.
    I will go out on a limb and say that Mexicans do like chihuahuas. I have many Mexican neighbors and by casual observation I’d say Chihuahuas are the dog of choice. Young tough Latino guys seem to favor pitbulls in my zip code, but I think the little bug eyed ratty dogs outnumber them.

    Here’s nine pages of chihuahuas or mixes of same from my neighborhood animal shelter:


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  9. alex said on September 12, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Dorothy, that’s the kind of life I rescued my dog from. Their disposition is such that they are very needy dogs to begin with. Anyone who knows anything about them will tell you they’re not supposed to be left alone like that.

    The leaning thing is kind of funny. She sleeps against walls or furniture in what looks like it would be the most uncomfortable of positions, but she always has to have her head leaning against something. She also latches onto her hind leg with her mouth and sleeps curled in a circle in this fashion. It was explained to me that this is kind of like thumb-sucking, or regressing back to the womb. When these dogs are puppies raised in kennels, they sleep bunched up together very closely and become accustomed to this closeness.

    I think there’s something to it. My dog will often wander off and go to sleep in another room. When she awakens and finds herself alone she cries pitifully, a very strange and mournful howl, until she gets her bearings. She’s very attached to my dad, and recently she went into one of these howling fits when she heard his voice as I played back voice mails on the speaker phone.

    Dorothy, if there’s any way you can get ol’ Bullet away from that guy, I urge you to do so.

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  10. LAMary said on September 12, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Great Danes do that leaning thing too. Once I had a 200 pound Dane nearly knock me over by suddenly leaning on my leg.

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  11. Jolene said on September 12, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I think lots of dogs do the leaning thing. My departed (sniff, sniff) Australian Shepherd used to lean against me too.

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  12. Connie said on September 12, 2008 at 11:36 am

    My girlfriend’s Staffordshire bull terrier (did I get that right?) loves me, will not leave me alone, knocks me over regularly and trips me on the stairs.

    My dogs have always found me, my old man Shih Tzu had five homes before we took him in at the age of 4. His first night in our home he pooped under the Christmas tree.

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  13. moe99 said on September 12, 2008 at 11:46 am

    LOL!! My dearly departed cats used to do the same thing towards the end of the Christmas season. I think they were telling me it was time for the tree to go.

    My dachshund sleeps under the covers at night. All three of my dachshunds did this. I ask every dachshund owner I see if their dogs do this and to a person they agree. I think it was because they were bred to hunt badgers in their dens that they like dark, enclosed spaces. That breeding also explains why mine fiercely barks at all the bigger dogs we encounter.

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  14. Danny said on September 12, 2008 at 11:46 am

    The Ebert story reminds me of Herbert Kornfeld, the freshest, dopest accounts receivable supervisor of The Onion fame. Rest in peace Herbert K.

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  15. brian stouder said on September 12, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    That was a bizarre Ebert story, on several levels; and what a great ending!

    I have a dog-related question: What IS the sexist difference between a pitbull with lipstick, or a pig done-up similarly? I mean, the one sounds pretty cute, while the other is just an ill-tempered bitch; but I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder (and maybe pitbulls are even-tempered animals….who knows?)

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  16. Kirk said on September 12, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Thank goodness we finally found a way to get back to Sarah Palin.

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  17. nancy said on September 12, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    I was wondering if, until the day of the election, I should open a separate daily thread for electoral fighting, with a perfunctory cut-n-paste opening, and the rest of the discussion of non-electoral topics can go elsewhere. Maybe I’ll do that now.

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  18. brian stouder said on September 12, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Hah!! In that case, I go into the books as the Last Straw!

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  19. Danny said on September 12, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Thank goodness we finally found a way to get back to Sarah Palin.


    Brian has even dropped the “apologies to basset” preamble.

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  20. LAMary said on September 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Yesterday I got a phone call from an admin assistant at one of the other facilities this company has, asking me, “what is the difference between a staff nurse and a staff nurse II?” and I answered, “lipstick.” It’s the all purpose answer.

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  21. Kirk said on September 12, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks, Nance. Working at a sizable Midwestern daily, I am bombarded with political stuff fairly constantly. A little tea-party dog talk is nice once in a while. Of course, maybe I’ll be talking to myself.

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  22. Jolene said on September 12, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I dunno. I kind of liked the interwovenness of things. . . the better to overhear what the people at the next taable are saying.

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  23. Kirk said on September 12, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    True. I just get tired of the screeching and screaming (mostly in the world at large, beyond these confines). Of course, it’s like TV; I don’t have to turn it on.

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  24. Dorothy said on September 12, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Jolene speaking of overhearing what people at the next table are saying, that’s actually an assignment I have for my Intro to Theater class. We have to eavesdrop on a conversation, and record it as succinctly as we can, and then transcribe it in play writing format. I can’t decide how to go about this, and the only thing I can think of is to go eat lunch by myself one day next week at Fiesta Mexicana, and bring along a notepad. I’ll pretend I’m writing a letter, but in actuality, I’m spying. We are NOT supposed to make up a conversation, but I’m severely tempted to do so in case all I overhear is someone complaining about the junk mail they get every week.

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  25. Kirk said on September 12, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    The tricky part of that is that no one actually converses in complete sentences or waits for the other person to finish. Probably best to sit by a table of two.

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  26. MichaelG said on September 12, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    My daughter has a Chihuahua which she refers to affectionately as ‘the bug eyed freak’.

    Here in Sacratomato I live in the hood. The dog of choice is a Pit Bull. Each one chained in the yard. A few have some half assed shelter but most just live in the yard all year ’round. No wonder they’re so mean. I just can’t figure out why they don’t eat their owners first.

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  27. brian stouder said on September 12, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    What really makes ’em mad is when the lip stick is applied

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  28. nancy said on September 12, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Come to Ann Arbor. I once sat in a restaurant and switched eavesdropping channels between two adjacent couples, one of whom was discussing Hugo Chavez with no small authority, the other a symphonic work one was composing. More IQ per capita than any place I’ve lived.

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  29. Danny said on September 12, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    (Speaking of mixed martial arts, Alan and I had our first extended look at Ultimate Fighting last Friday — the bar TV was tuned to Spike while we waited for the Dirtbombs. It was, without question, the most awful thing I’ve seen in…well, maybe ever. We watched a man get his face pounded to a pulp while another man straddled him and [shudder]. The winner welcomed his 7-year-old son into the ring afterward to accept the crowd’s cheers. “That kid better enjoy it,” Alan said. “Because in a few years he’s going to be changing his dad’s diapers.”)

    Nancy, I wanted to snag this from the above thread and chat a little about it.

    I too have had a lot of trouble watching this spectacle. I’ve watch one match that was thankfully over very quickly due to TKO and I watched another one that grinded onward and I could not finish. Frankly, it is brutal and reminds me of what I have heard of dog-fighting. The only thing that piqued my interest in it is that several of the prominent fighters have come from a collegiate wrestling backgrounds. Two of the newer fighters who have not yet debutted on the national scene, but who soon will, are multiple NCAA title holders (Jake Rosholt 3X NCAA Champ and Johnny Thompson 2X NCAA Champ). But so far I am really disappointed in the MMA “sport.”

    Apparently the grapplers (those with good wrestling backgrounds) have an advantage in at least two areas.

    1. They are used to the intensive training regimen and training for 8 weeks for a fight is a walk in the park compared to training for a complete wrestling season.

    2. Wrestling maneuvers are ineffective against them. It is almost impossible for an opponent to take them down and keep them down while beating them in the face and head (or “ground and pound” as they call it in MMA).

    But, sadly, that is it for the wrestling element. The wrestling skills rarely come into play. So as a true wrestling fan, there is very little to entice me to watch MMA.

    Regarding Alan’s comment about changing dad’s diapers, I am not sure about this. He’s probably right, but I did hear an interview a few years ago that suggested boxers have a much higher chance of developing a speech impediment later in life. The reasoning (possibly incorrect) was that there is just a lot more strikes to the head over the course of a boxer’s career than there is for the MMA guy. Who knows. It still doesn’t help warm me to the sport.

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  30. LAMary said on September 12, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I’m going to just make a general positive doggy statement.
    If it wasn’t for my dogs, I probably would be a lot crazier. My lab especially, but really all three of them are good company. Sitting and reading with one of the dogs resting his head on my foot, is one of the things I really treasure in my life.

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  31. Danny said on September 12, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    …We have to eavesdrop on a conversation, and record it as succinctly as we can, and then transcribe it in play writing format.

    Dorothy, don’t know if this is true, but I had heard that the following two stanzas of lyrics John Lennon wrote for “Strawberry Fields” came from a partially overheard dinner conversation:

    No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low.
    That is you can’t you know tune in but it’s all right.
    That is I think it’s not too bad.


    Always no sometimes think it’s me, but you know I know when it’s a dream.
    I think I know I mean “Yes,” but it’s all wrong.
    That is I think I disagree.

    Kirk, do you know?

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  32. nancy said on September 12, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    The guy sitting next to me in the bar said the same thing about MMA being “safer” than boxing — there must be a memo somewhere. But I saw what I saw, and I watched a guy taking blow after blow directly to the face for several minutes on end. The ref only called it when the poundee could no longer swing back ineffectually. His nose was flattened. If it had been taking place in a bar, someone would have separated them with ice water and billy clubs far sooner.

    The next bout, though, was the equivalent of a pitchers’ battle — hardly any fists landed, and it was all circling and a few kicks that didn’t go anywhere.

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  33. Kirk said on September 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Not for sure, Danny, but that definitely rings a bell.

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  34. Jolene said on September 12, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    You might be interested to know that John McCain also deplores ultimate fighting.

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  35. Danny said on September 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    In honor of the upcoming USC v. Ohio State game this weekend, Jim Rome just interviewed LenDale White, current Tennessee Titan, former USC Trojan. He didn’t even want to talk about professional football. Right out of the box he started talking college ball. He started the interview by calling them the “Ohio State Suckeyes” and ended the interview with:

    “Ohio State still sucks. Thanks, Jim”


    EDIT: Now the Buckeye fans are getting after LenDale White; “Hey, you still can’t spell ‘sucks’ without the USC!”


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  36. Kirk said on September 12, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    All the Buckeye lunatics around here already are making whiny excuses that Beanie Wells might not play, Beanie Wells might not be 100 percent, etc., etc.

    I would be very surprised if Beanie Wells doesn’t play. All the obfuscating about the condition of his foot is typical college football baloney.

    Meanwhile, I just looked at a few Web sites that purport to know all about the Beatles’ lyrics, and found no reference to those words from “Strawberry Fields” having come from an overheard conversation. But I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that before.

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  37. kayak woman said on September 12, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    “More IQ per capita than any place I’ve lived.”

    Having lived on the planet Ann Arbor for almost 30 years, I have some definite opinions about this but it’d prob’ly be better if I just sat on my hands.

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  38. Kirk said on September 12, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Well, remember that she’s lived in Columbus, Fort Wayne, Detroit and Ann Arbor.

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  39. Catherine said on September 12, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Our dog is a mix, which is a good fit for our family. I dread “International Day” at school, where we’re supposed to bring something representing our family’s heritage. I mean, what can you make that’s 1/8 Norwegian, 1/8 Scots, 1/8 Irish and 5/8 Who the Hell Knows?

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  40. nancy said on September 12, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I should probably add: IQ ≠ common sense.

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  41. Danny said on September 12, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I should probably add: IQ ≠ common sense.

    But how many of us have hit the trifecta of IQ/Common Sense/Good Personality? I’ll just go ahead and save you all some typing by throwing my hat in the ring for nomination.

    {Elvis}Thank you. Thank you very much.{/Elvis}

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  42. moe99 said on September 12, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I note you didn’t add ‘good looking’ to the mix, Danny. (vbeg)

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  43. Danny said on September 12, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Moe, the speech from Young Frankenstein that the good Doctor gives to the monster comes to mind…

    Hello handsome. You’re a good looking fellow, do you know that? People laugh at you, people hate you, but why do they hate you? Because… . they are jealous. Look at that boyish face. Look at that sweet smile. Do you wanna talk about physical strength? Do you want to talk about sheer muscle? Do you want to talk about the Olympian ideal? You are a God. And listen to me, you are not evil. You… . are… . good.

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  44. joodyb said on September 12, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    my weimie pup leans. it’s endearing and unsettling. it seems like more of a personality thing than a breed thing. he also has this comical habit of hiking his hindquarters onto whatever furniture you’re sitting on, Harpo Marx-style. his most comfortable posture seems to be on steps, his ends a riser apart. he’s ultra-affectionate, and way smarter than i.
    i observe lots of leaners at the dog park.

    the eavesdropping issue reminded me of my stop at the neighborhood grocery this morning. as i approached the checkout, i overheard the clerk, her voice raised and agitated, telling a customer of her own demographic (it was soon clear they were not acquainted) that ‘we’d better be watching out for these people because they’re coming over here after us,’ then some muttering, then ‘do you know what’s in that Koran? i’ve read their Koran. i have a copy!’ the recipient of her diatribe nodded uncomfortably and fled the store. i looked around, prepared to shoot her the ‘Please, don’t’ look. a noncaucasian was behind me in line. she resumed her task.
    this was not one of those don’t-look-at-the-guy-talking-on-the-bus deals. i’ve seen this woman dozens of times. she says ‘that’ll be $24.66 please,’ and that’s it.
    our neighborhood has been diversifying for decades, a fact some of the old-timers refuse to reconcile. they comment loudly and openly, and in oddly fatalistic places. the twin cities has one of if not the largest population of somalis in the U.S., many of whom live w/i a 3-mile radius of this store.
    such blurting out of statements ranging from inappropriate to suicidal seems to be on the rise.

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