Some side dishes.

One of the things I like best about living in a metro area this size is the way the various ethnicities assert themselves. Columbus, while no tank town, is (or was) a place where a certain mushy pan-European generic culture stamps out the details of what it means to be, say, of Greek heritage (except during Greekfest). Fort Wayne’s foundation of German bloodstock eclipses all but a few other early-immigrant groups. (One of these is the Macedonian community, but they sort of stamped themselves out by invading the restaurant trade, where they proved excellent hosts mainly by offering what you like, not their own tastes.) The preceding is obviously a little like painting a portrait with a whitewashing brush, and I’ll disavow all of it soon enough.

But I’m always pleased to do my holiday shopping here and see details of old-country culinary culture I thought had been long-forgotten — Easter cakes made in the shape of a lamb, corned beef by the truckload for St. Patrick’s Day, paczki for Fat Tuesday, kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola, tamales at Christmastime in Mexicantown. Of late the big meat mall at Eastern Market is selling chitterlings by the truckload. Every vendor is having a special, and hand-lettered signs are everywhere. (No one can agree on a spelling: chitterlings, chittlins, chit’lins, chittins.) It seems to be a seasonal thing, although whether it’s connected to Thanksgiving, Christmas or cold weather in general is hard to say. (I should learn to check the Google first — it is, indeed, a pan-cold-weather-holiday thing.)

I recall a passage from “Gone With the Wind” (the novel) where Scarlett, in the grip of post-war hunger at Tara, finds herself fantasizing over the bounty of years gone by, when at hog-killing time the results would be shared from the big house to the slave quarters. Obviously the white folks claimed the ham and bacon, but there was offal — the chitterlings, maws another other queasy-making parts — for the Negroes. It’s always interesting to me how many cultures still eat the foods of poverty and deprivation long after they no longer need to. (Someday I’ll publish this as a scholarly thesis called, simply, “Lutefisk: WTF?”) Personally, I think nothing short of starvation would get me to eat a pig’s intestines, but like Barack Obama and gay marriage, I’m always willing to be persuaded otherwise.

Thanksgiving is a great blank canvas for ethnic cuisine in general. I stood in line behind a black woman in September who was buying a bushel of assorted greens at a bargain prices, and told the seller she would cook and freeze it all for Thanksgiving. One of my favorite Sopranos episodes is the one where Paulie Walnuts lays out the typical Italian-American Thanksgiving feast, starting with antipasto, manicotti, “and then the bird.” So maybe chitterlings have a place there. All I know is, if you’re interested, they’re having lots of sales downtown.

Thanks for all the birthday greetings yesterday. The day was pretty average for my own natal day, which I’ve de-emphasized in recent years. I got a chocolate-raspberry cake, yum, and Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” Which I asked for. A good day.

Holiday-week bloggage:

Despite my brief sojourn as a sports copy editor, I didn’t know why so much attention was being paid to whether the disgraceful Lions would sell out Ford Field for their traditional Thanksgiving game. (That’s because my time reading sports copy ended when I stopped being paid to do so.) They finally did, barely, probably by handing out tickets to the homeless guys who panhandle on the freeway ramps. Now I know why: If they don’t sell out, there’s no TV broadcast, and that — the broadcast — is an important part of many Thanksgiving traditions, not only here but around the country. So, whew: We can still watch the Lions on TV tomorrow. At 0-11, they’re playing the Titans, who are 10-1. There was some hope Tennessee would win last week, so we’d get that symmetry thing going: 0-11 vs. 11-0. That would be the last symmetry such a matchup would yield, as the Lions suck so badly this year they need a new word for it, and the score will probably be 425-3. You can watch the game on TV, or let Detroitist live-blog it for you.

Maybe if he’d said “asshole” and “tyrant,” he could have killed the guy: Dubious Seattle Times story tries to draw a line between a heckler and the collapse last week of U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Have a good weekend, all. I think I’ll take tomorrow and Friday off — unless the mood strikes me otherwise. I expect we’ll be seeing “Twilight” at some point, even though I’d rather take Kate to see “Milk.” Anyway, we won’t be seeing “Australia,” although I loved Hank Stuever’s capsule description via his Facebook status: “It’s a movie about Hugh Jackman’s chest, and some other stuff around him.” And what a chest!

Be thankful for something tomorrow. You know you have a long list.

Posted at 10:50 am in Current events, Detroit life |

44 responses to “Some side dishes.”

  1. Julie Robinson said on November 26, 2008 at 11:11 am

    What a chest indeed! Almost enough to overcome Nicole Kidman, but it’s probably a Netflix for us.

    Pumpkin pie in the oven. Is there a better cooking smell? Apple anything, and chocolate anything and pumpkin anything have to be the top three. Notice there’s no healthy food there. Hmm.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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  2. MichaelG said on November 26, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to Nancy and family and to all the nn.c habitués! Eat happy, eat hearty and drive safely.

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  3. brian stouder said on November 26, 2008 at 11:59 am

    The article about the loud-mouthed crank Justice on the Washington State Supreme Court(!) (Moe99, call your office!!) was remarkable, and mystifying.

    an excerpt (or two):

    The state’s Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to be “dignified” toward those they deal with “in their official capacity.” Asked if his outburst might violate that code, Sanders said: “Well, it’s so open-ended and vague, maybe someone would think that it could apply. I don’t know. I think it’s a free-speech activity. In my mind this had nothing to do with my role as a judge.”


    Sanders said he wouldn’t call what he did heckling. Afterward, he said, he heard from a number of people — some supportive, others not. “Some people think it was the wrong thing to do,” he said. “To other people, it was heroic.”

    Heroic? Really??!?

    Sanders said he now regrets what he did: “If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t.” Alternatively, he wishes he had said “Tyranny” instead of “Tyrant,” “because in my mind, these policies can lead to tyranny.”

    Hahahahahahaha!!! So the indecisive Justice “regrets” his outburst, and wouldn’t do it again…except that he’s still fine-tuning what he SHOULD have blurted!!??

    Asked if it was dignified, Sanders said: “I think it was an impulse. … At that particular time, I didn’t have a chance to reflect on it. I didn’t plan it out in advance. It just happened.”
    He left before Mukasey’s speech was finished, Sanders said, because “I wasn’t enjoying myself”


    Well, if they put “Judge Retention” questions on the ballot in Washington State, that impulsive, indecisive, and attention-deficit-disordered Justice oughta get the heave-ho.

    Other than that – Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

    PS – Pam and her sister LOVED Twilight. The reviews of that movie are flat-out funny…more than one reviewer has seen fit to include disclaimers and so on, so as to minimize the amount of hate-mail that they get (from bookish Twilight tweens, et al) for any criticism of it.

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  4. moe99 said on November 26, 2008 at 12:00 pm


    As an attorney in Seattle, licensed to practice in Washington state for 27 years, I can attest that Richard Sanders probably did do what he said he did. He’s a huge ego-driven libertarian, and real pain in the butt to have as a Supreme Court justice, if you, as I do, represent the state.

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  5. nancy said on November 26, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Moe, I don’t doubt the facts of the incident. I’m just amused by the implicit attempt to tie the outburst to Mukasey’s collapse.


    [Chest-clutching, collapse. All eyes turn to the heckler.]

    “I mean…look at that GIANT spider!”

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  6. beb said on November 26, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Several bloggers suggested that Mukasey’s collapse was God’s judgement because he had just been trying to defend torture.

    However if God was really opposed to torture he would have struck down that ass in the White House years ago.

    I’m an athest because the wicked rarely get their just reward. If there is a God he’s a lot more passive than indicated.

    Enjoy the weekend. I’ve got an overdone club mailing to get out.

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  7. coozledad said on November 26, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve never eaten any chitterlings, but I’ve smelled them being prepared. A woman who was a dishwasher at a restaurant where I worked was permitted to use the kitchen vats to cook some. When I showed up for work I thought the toilets had backed up, or there’d been a sudden outbreak of cholera.

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  8. Danny said on November 26, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Michelle Malkin knows Judge Sanders personally. Here, she blogs about it. Disappointing how the guy tap-danced around direct questions in the beginning of their email exchanges.

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  9. Colleen said on November 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    When we had big gatherings of the whole family, there was always a pot of stuffed cabbage to go along with the bird and other beige food.

    Sigh. I miss those days.

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  10. Lex said on November 26, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    If you think chitlins are bad, Google Vai Sikahema and horse rectum.

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  11. Dexter said on November 26, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I have a couple old friends who shared what it was like to share a holiday meal in their Italian-American homes in Jersey circa 1945. The thing that I remember was that they always started out the meals with a “bowl of macaroni and gravy” ( I call it spaghetti and sauce) before any antipasto or green salads , and the turkey was served then. I guess they must have been very small bowls of macaroni…
    Here, I’ll miss our oldest daughter’s Polska kielbasa w/sweet cabbage dish, as she now lives in Las Vegas. We are heading to Toledo at dawn for the holiday. Turkey, pies, maybe the Lions game.

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  12. Dorothy said on November 26, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Somebody in my office just mentioned that they are having corned beef and cabbage tomorrow. We’ll be traditional at my sister’s and have turkey and all the usual sides: stuffing, gravy (the non-Italian type), homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans. I’m making fudge since I don’t care for pumpkin pie.

    This year I’m most thankful that it’s my last one in an apartment.

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  13. brian stouder said on November 26, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Things I’m most thankful for:

    healthy thriving children

    wonderful wife (who married DOWN!)

    reasonably secure job

    national election correctly concluded

    health (physical, anyway!)

    being a Hoosier

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  14. LA Mary said on November 26, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Dorothy, I came across this recipe when looking around for variations on pumpkin pie. It takes all day,it’s not pumpkin, but lord, does it sound good:

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  15. alex said on November 26, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Trying to find the link to that NY Times garbanzo recipe from Jeff tmmo and having no luck. It was wonderful, I want to make it again, but didn’t save the link. (And my printer’s out.)

    Anyone remember which thread that was in?

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  16. nancy said on November 26, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I have it, Alex. I’ll email it when I get home.

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  17. Jolene said on November 26, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    Alex, try these search results.

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  18. caliban said on November 26, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    First thing is, instead of killing all the lawyers, make some restuffed potatoes with the orange ones. Real deal doesn’t taste that much different from an Idaho. No allspice, no cinammon, just some nutmeg.

    And whack a progressive. If this is ‘we wanted and we got it good and hard, are you people joking? Obama’s the savior, Hillary’s the demon. Why doubt Barack’s vision now? He’s surrounding himself with people that know what they’re doing.

    If you think you thought you were getting Kucinich in wolfs clothing, as a veteran of Grant Park and the worst of times, I’d have to say, you’re morons. Read The Savage Detectives.

    You make your bed and lie in it

    There’s always the one book I should have read.

    Anyway, there’s still time. Some of you appreciated the headsup about The Presidents Analyst. If you can get God knows who. John Gielud, you idiot.

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  19. alex said on November 26, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks Jolene. That search didn’t do it, but I tried another and voila:

    It was an outstanding dish and simple. (Although I increased the ginger considerably.) Taking this to a potluck tomorrow at noon. Then coming home to do beets, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, etc. for the evening meal. I’m cooking for the family this year as my mother is recovering from pneumonia.

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  20. Michael said on November 26, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    You’re gonna go to a potluck at noon and then come home and cook “ beets, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes”? I wanna know how this comes out and when. I’d be glad to help, but I don’t think I could get there in time. Seriously, best of luck.

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  21. jcburns said on November 26, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    I was just going to say “you know you can search the content of the comments on, right?”

    And then wisely, I tried it. Had a plugin misconfigured. Now, when you search (use the little search box on the home page) here at nn.c, you will find words like ‘garbonzo’ when they only appear in the comments.

    New! Improved! Make a note of it!

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  22. basset said on November 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Chitlins? Creek-washed and stump-whipped, as the old saying goes… you turn ’em inside out, dip ’em in the creek, and whack ’em against a stump to knock off the fecal residue.

    Even though I live in Nashville, work within sight of the Titans’ stadium, and married into a Michigan family which watches the Thanksgiving game religiously, I’m gonna miss it… will be in the woods trying to kill Bambi. Again.

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  23. Jen said on November 26, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    My sister and I saw “Australia” today, since I am reviewing it for the newspaper. Despite what could be some weighty subject matter, it’s a pretty silly, fun epic movie. The first half is a western, then they throw in a little tawdry romance, then the last chunk is a war movie. My sister and I enjoyed the movie, if for nothing else than Hugh Jackman (drool!) and the gorgeous scenery.

    I saw “Twilight” Friday night with a friend of mine (my husband absolutely refused to go). I’ve read all the books, and it was pretty much like the books – a LOT of longing gazes, except that the main vampire looks more constipated than longing most of the time. The tweens and teens in the audience LOVED it and squealed and giggled the whole time!

    I would absolutely love to see “Milk,” but it’s not even in Fort Wayne, that I can find. There’s no way it would ever play up here in Conservativeville. We miss a LOT of movies around here.

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  24. brian stouder said on November 26, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Forget the chitlins basset; now we can track Nance’s garbonzos! Well done, JC!

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  25. JGW said on November 27, 2008 at 12:00 am

    I can vouch for the Italian-American T-day fare. My grandmother would pass out cold cut platters and an anti-pasto tray once family started arriving.
    Then we had to pretend we were hungry until the main meal started; a famished 3 hours or so later. Once we were all there (a shout out to Aunt Kathy, who tortured an entire generation of cousins waiting for turkey dinner or a chance to rip open Christmas gifts by being four hours late for life).
    Once Aunt Kathy was there, Thanksgiving dinner started with manicotti or stuffed shells, an even fancier anti-pasto. We never used the word gravy. I think it’s more a Philadelphia and mid-western Italian term. To NY&NJ folks it was always sauce.
    Once we finished that course, the normal t-day fare was unveiled. Then at some point Grandma would “remember,” she had more pies and a roast beef, just in case we didn’t want turkey.
    Of course the real treat was to be at her house for Christmas Eve and to get the Seven Fishes. My grandmas threw caution to the wind and went for more like 14 fishes. All this preceeding the sprawling Christmas meal(s) with ham, turkey, lasagna, bracciole, goose.
    No chitlins though. A goat head for each adult, possibly, but no colons.

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  26. Jonathan Arnold said on November 27, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Not that you probably care, but even if Ford Field didn’t sell out, everyone else would get to see the game. It would only be blacked out locally – and how lucky would that be!?!?

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  27. del said on November 27, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Nancy, you’ve gotta go to the Randazzo’s market at Gratiot just north of 696 — it’s like a mini United Nations. You’ll hear 5 different languages while shopping. Be ready for vegetables and fruits that you’ve never seen before too.

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  28. nancy said on November 27, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I have been there, Del. Try to stop by if I have time on my monthly Costco runs, and you’re right — it really is a place where every oddball cuisine in the world finds its raw ingredients. Bought fresh fava beans the last time I was there, which required far more work than they were worth, but so what?

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  29. alex said on November 27, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Garbanzo salad all ready to go. Last time I read the ingredients as one one-inch piece of ginger, and added more because I couldn’t taste it. This time decided “1 1 inch piece of ginger” must in fact mean eleven. Very gingery. The NYT needs a better copy editor on the food page.

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  30. Jolene said on November 27, 2008 at 10:53 am

    It’s definitely 1 piece of ginger, one inch long, Alex. Check the hyphenation. Your salad must be gingery, indeed. The people at the potluck will, no doubt be impressed w/ your culinary bravado.

    Have a great day, everyone!

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  31. moe99 said on November 27, 2008 at 1:39 pm


    Garnet Yams with Maple Cider Glaze in Puff Pastry

    (Serves 4-6)

    This is the most requested winter-season dish in my repertoire. It can be done ahead of time and popped into the oven at the last minute. It’s absolutely gorgeous to serve and there’s not a marshmallow in sight!

    2 medium or large organic garnet yams

    1 cup maple syrup

    1 cup apple cider

    1/2 cup pecans

    1/4 cup fresh cranberries

    Zest of 1 lemon

    2 sheets Aussie Bakery frozen puff pastry, thawed

    Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)

    Prepare the yams: Up to two days ahead, wrap the yams in aluminum foil and roast in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool and peel. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

    Prepare the syrup: (You may do this step two days ahead as well. It will be quite thick once refrigerated, so let it come to room temperature before finishing the rolls.) In a heavy saucepan, combine the maple syrup, apple cider and the pecans. Bring this mixture to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until mixture is reduced by about half. Stir in the cranberries and lemon zest. Set aside to cool.

    For the pastries: (You may prepare these the day before, just be sure to refrigerate them right away.) Lay one sheet of pastry on a baking pan lined with parchment or a silicone baking sheet. Brush very lightly with the egg wash. Lay the yam in the center and cut it into 8-10 slices, (being sure not to cut thought the pastry). Gently press the slices down to fan them vertically. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper. Spoon half of the pecan mixture over the top of the yams. Roll the pastry up around the yams, tucking in the ends and sealing the seam well with your fingers. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet. Cut a few slits in each roll and brush the surface lightly with the egg wash. You may cut out designs from extra puff pastry and apply them to the surface. Finish them with a light coating of egg wash as well.

    Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and cut each roll into 4-6 slices.

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  32. Woodwards Friend said on November 27, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Tamales at Christmas time…yes! One of this town’s under-rated traditions.

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  33. basset said on November 27, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    our yams for today are still cooking… late dinner, just put the turkey in… but I am saving that maple cranberry recipe for Christmas.

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  34. Dexter said on November 28, 2008 at 12:56 am

    We had turkey in Toledo at daughter’s place. Her man, the pilot, got called to work Wednesday; he had to fly to Miami FL to fly a big shot rich person somewhere.
    He missed Thanksgiving, so the bird was oven-roasted instead of deep fried. I prefer the old-style way anyway—I am tired of those damn deep fried turkeys.
    We took both cars because my wife went a day early to bake and prepare stuff…I had to wait until Thursday because we have an older big black dog and they have 2 Weimaraners and we also have a Jack Russell…a lot of dogs for an overnight stay.
    I love her Weimaraners…they are just great dogs! If I was a country gentleman with room to spare I would have a Weimaraner too.
    I am home now and of course my wife is hitting the stores at 5 AM to grab some presents, so she stayed another night.
    And dig this: Gas in Toledo is $1.51 a gallon!! I overfilled my tank at that price.
    How’s this for timing? As I got to Toledo, “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie came on the radio…I got to hear the whole thing before I got to the house.
    I got to see the Lions get creamed by the Tennessee Titans but then the women took over the TV for “Survivor” and some Hallmark movie.
    And I hope you gentle folk had a turkey or something else nice.

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 28, 2008 at 9:04 am

    This Hank Steuver piece is both funny, and not-funny — having watched malls die while living in West Virginia, and now watching our local go on life support (some vital signs, but a few extremities and internal organs shutting down), you see how a downtown can go into hibernation and come back, but a mall is like a shark. If it stops moving through the waters of commerce, it dies, from the head down, and the rot isn’t pretty.

    What are some new business models for a mall? Churches in the former anchor store spaces? Remodeling into senior housing on one end? I’m not kidding — they need some ideas beyond the newest tchochky outlet . . . unless Les Wexner figures out how to make us all believe we need another overpriced personal care product in 43 varieties to stave off personal bankruptcy: “Follicles, Defoliation, and Finance” might do it.

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  36. coozledad said on November 28, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Bismarck was on to something:

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  37. beb said on November 28, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I think the problem with malls is that there are just too many of them. My parents live just east of South Bend. Around when I moved to Detroit 30 years ago a mall overed on the corner of I23 and Grape road. Every year since when my wife and I visit my folks we are amazed to find more development in that area. What started out as a 20-40 site now over well over a square mile (maybe two). I can’t believe there’s enough business to support all these stores. As it is a mall to the south of South Bend has closed – presumably because everybody was going to this farther away University Mall. It’s crazy.

    The idea of converting one or more of the large “anchor” stores into a retirement village is an intriguing idea. It makes a weird sort of sense because so many elder travel to malls for their daily exercise.

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  38. basset said on November 28, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Two words… New Urbanism. Cities of “smaller distances”… where, instead of having a whole bunch of homes over here, work way over there, shopping somewhere else, no sidewalks, no communities, get in the car to do anything at all… you mix that stuff up so you can live your life without nearly as much driving.

    Last time I checked, maybe a month ago, there were no traditional malls under construction anywhere in the USA. The new trend is toward “lifestyle centers,” walkable areas with some residential and office stirred in among the retail… the huge mall stuck in the center of a sea of pavement is over, gone with dollar-a-gallon gas.

    that said… a mall about two miles from our house is getting turned into one of those if they ever get the funding worked out. leave Sears, Macy’s, and Dillard’s standing, tear down the rest, build a couple of big pads for anchor retailers (hoping for a Cabela’s myself) and smaller retail and restaurants in between. in return for a tax break, the developers have agreed to convert the Dillard’s building into a badly needed public library.

    related link:

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  39. basset said on November 28, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Coozledad… think one could do that with deer liver? hmmm… and where is this wonderful sausage-selling coffee shop?

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  40. caliban said on November 28, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Bassett. Last I heard, Flint was part of Detroit. Mark Farner sure thought so. ? mark was a better appropriation. Not really, but the Grosses are pretty much Bushco, not Whitney Young territory. But there’s always the boy from Ann Arbor.

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 28, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Bass, i’m down with New Urbanism — word. But what to do with these vast carcasses, like the Mishawaka Mall-Zone Beb notes? They’re all over the most unlikely spots on the landscape, but we seem to be slow about finding repurposing for them. One on Morse Rd. in Columbus, Northland, is slowly getting re-used along with the Fountain Square district nearby for state offices, which i suppose is better than another office tower named for a not-quite-dead politician in downtown.

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  42. Ricardo said on November 29, 2008 at 1:50 am

    I think I got a book to write. It will be called Computers For @**holes. It will be based on my tech support experiences. See, when “Computers For Dummies” came out, I thought “why stop with dummies? Why not Computers For The Brain Dead?” The natural conclusion was Computers For @**holes.

    The basic premise for the book is if you have any kind of computer problem, you pick up your phone and scream and verbally abuse tech support people. Forget your password? Just pick up the phone and demand they get their tails over to your desk right now! Don’t know how to use the program you were hired to run? Scream bloody murder at your tech support to fix it. Kind or writes itself.

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  43. coozledad said on November 29, 2008 at 8:27 am

    basset: That shop’s in Kuala Lumpur. I think you could make those out of any kind of liver. You’ve just got to douse everything in rice wine and ginger before you load the casings.
    I’ll stick with Tofurkey brats.

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  44. basset said on November 29, 2008 at 8:44 am

    well, from what I’ve heard of Malaysia they’d probably jail me on sight, or at least the first time I said anything, so I guess I’ll have to miss out on those sausages.

    Ricardo, I’m going to copy your idea to someone I know who has many similar stories, many of them involving a cube-mate who chewed ice and farted all day.

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