Duty done.

Well, that was easy. A morning spent like cattle being sorted into pens ends with “Have a blessed year” around 11 a.m. and I was outta there. This time I actually got out of the assembly room and was sent to a specific courtroom, but never crossed the threshold. I had a feeling we’d not be called after we started cooling our heels, and they got cold indeed. We were asked to wait in the hallway outside, then told to take a 15 minute break that stretched to 35, then thanked for our service and sent back to the assembly room, where we were freed by a clerk who passed out excuse letters to all.

I had but one objective at that point — to supplement the 4.5 hours of sleep I’d gotten the night before — so I detoured into Greektown for an early lunch to put me in a soporific state by early afternoon. I was not the most pathetic nerd in the place, eating lunch at 11:15 a.m.; that would be the table of four ordering saganaki at that early hour, i.e., the Full Opa. Some things should only be enjoyed under the cover of darkness. An incomplete list: The music of Tom Waits and Miles Davis, single-malt scotch. To this I’d add flaming cheese.

My morning at the courthouse wasn’t wasted, however. I got 100 pages into the new nightstand volume and enjoyed seeing the sights. You’d have to go to Hieronymus Bosch to find a more interesting canvas of humanity than the courthouse in Detroit. I took my time returning to the bullpen, letting the claustrophobic elevators pass, and was rewarded with a ride down with one of the lawyers in the case. At least that’s what I assume he was. He came out of the courtroom we’d been teed up for, carrying a battered leather briefcase, the old square-bottom kind; it looked like something from the 1940s. His hair needed a trim and his jacket was of the same vintage as his briefcase, its lining drooping below the hem. He wore his reading glasses Carl Levin-style. If I were a painter, I’d ask him to sit for a portrait, and call it The Old Barrister. The bailiff said it was an embezzlement case we’d just avoided, and while I knew it couldn’t have been the fun couple from the Palace (wrong county), I wondered what I’d have said if the judge asked if I had any particular interest in the subject. Probably, “Ummm…”

Still, we were freed by that miracle of American jurisprudence: The plea bargain. Remember when inveighing against plea bargains was the hot topic for certain smartypants pundits? Remember how prosecutors started calling them plea agreements, on the grounds it sounded less sleazy? What a waste of time that crusade was. Without plea bargaining we’d have a prison on every corner. Informants would stop being forthcoming in exchange for a little consideration. Mutual back-scratching would cease. Negotiation — a skill everyone who hires a lawyer should place high on the must-have list — would become irrelevant. And we’d do a lot more jury duty.

I can’t remember where I read this, but I suspect it was a Scott Turow novel, since I’m not exactly a legal scholar — the idea that for most offenses, a trial by jury should be considered a last resort. Not exactly the nuclear option, but something that should be avoided if it can be. It explains the contempt we feel toward all involved when stupid, obvious cases come to trial; you think, someone didn’t do their job here. The phrase “rack twelve” sticks in my head. If you rack twelve, you better be ready to play the game.

Oh, well. Done for another year now. A blessed one.

I’m surprised you guys didn’t toss the Obama speech around a bit more yesterday. I had it on as I worked, and even with divided attention, it was a beautiful thing. I got the same feeling I get when I watch video clips of Secretariat, that tingly sensation that tells you you’re seeing one of the greats. I tried to remember this when judging Bobby Jindal, that even Abe Lincoln would have looked like a punk, cleaning up after Barry. Still, I think we can all agree Jindal was more than a disappointment. I’ve read a bit about the guy and know he’s considered one of the short-list best hopes for 2012, which is why watching him sing-song his way through that Toastmaster disaster left me with another tingly sensation, the one you get when you realize just how bare the opposition’s cupboard is. You can dress up thin content with a great delivery (which he didn’t), or an attractive package (Mrs. Palin’s forté), but when you don’t have either one, it’s just embarrassing.

And speaking of embarrassment, I want it on the record now that I’m going to disrespect Jindal’s religion if he doesn’t do some ‘spainin’ about that exorcism. I can respect an awful lot about someone else’s beliefs, but when they’re running for office I think I have a right to ask what the HELL about some things, and I draw the line at casting out demons. No way he’s hiding behind the “deeply religious” veil on this one. Michael Gerson did the kneepads duty Tuesday morning with this piece, the patented George Will allow-me-to-introduce-you-to-this-fascinating-outlier treatment, with whoppers like this stuffed in there like butter under the chicken’s skin:

He converted to a traditionalist Catholicism, in a nation where anti-Catholicism has been called “the last acceptable prejudice.”

Oh, really? Who has called it that? How would we explain that, given that half the Supreme Court, a huge chunk of official Washington and various other well-paid sinecure holders are just so? They like to throw around charming phrases like “culture of death,” but say, “let’s hear some more about that exorcism, Bobby,” and they run to the fainting couch, sobbing into their hankies. What a tool.

Well, maybe all that no longer matters. I can see Obama in 2012, batting this guy around like a cat with a mouse.

Look at the time. Look at the word count. Look at my to-do list. Time to sign off, get to the gym and make up for losing Wednesday.

Posted at 8:48 am in Current events, Detroit life |

53 responses to “Duty done.”

  1. Michael said on February 26, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Any whiff of anti-Catholicism is likewise condemned by even the fallen. You can take the person out of the Catholic church but you can’t take the Catholic church out of the person.

    Yesterday Diane (my wife) asked if I wanted to take my lunch to work. The option was left over chicken. My reflex reaction, “No, it’s Ash Wednesday. No meat”.

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  2. Snarkworth said on February 26, 2009 at 9:46 am

    You have a point, Michael. My mother was among that minority of ex-Catholics who made a clean break and never looked back. But nothing got her Irish up like Catholic-bashing. She had no love for the theology or its apologists, but she was loyal to her peeps.

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  3. brian stouder said on February 26, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Nance’s link to the Gerson ‘knee pads’ piece was a lot to chew on (so to speak); too much, in fact. After reading the proprietress’s take (and therefore forewarned about the pablum awaiting on the other side of the link), I never made it past this passage:

    At a recent meeting of conservative activists, Jindal had little to say about his traditional social views or compelling personal story. Instead, he uncorked a fluent, substantive rush of policy proposals and achievements, covering workforce development, biodiesel refineries, quality assurance centers, digital media, Medicare parts C and D, and state waivers to the CMS (whatever that is).

    Pablum is exactly the word for this bit of punditry. They guy completely destroyed the magic trick he was attempting; his gratuitous “(whatever that is)” bit of condescension was an unmistakeable glint off the mirrors.

    See – nobody really understands all that policy mumbo-jumbo, any more than anyone really gets all that religious stuff…but the Amazing Bobby does! etc etc

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  4. Connie said on February 26, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I think today is the second day in a row that I have posted the last comment in the previous day’s discussion just as our proprietor posts a new entry.

    So here I go again. Demons, Ouija boards, all the various gods, all in the same category as far as I am concerned. Made up stuff.

    I’ve said this before and many of you either flamed me or offered to pray for me, (don’t waste your time) so do your thing.

    And yes I was raised in church, Dutch Reformed in fact. I probably had spent more hours in church by the time I was 18 than many believers do in their entire lives.

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  5. vince said on February 26, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Jindal’s getting compared to the “NBC Page” thanks to his weird delivery the other night.

    Who better than to respond than the Page himself:


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  6. Kirk said on February 26, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I fiddled with a Ouija board a few times many years ago, but I always considered it a toy rather than a great speaker of mystical truths.

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  7. mark said on February 26, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Oh, where to begin. Obama’s speech. He’s a great orator. Easily as good and as effective as Reagan, though different styles. Lincoln had much better material.

    Obama needs better speech writers or at least a few willing to break from the conventions of the last 30 years. They limit him. The laundry list approach seems to be standard fare, especially for a SOTU like address. Obama could rise above it.

    I’m really tired of the need by every politician to always tell us about somebody they just met who’s suffering/succeeding/drowning/heroic and just happened to impart wisdom so great it has to be shared with the world. Thank God Lincoln didn’t interrupt the Gettysburg address to tell us about joshua from Massachusettes who told him “Mr. President, just get the boys some shoes and they will march to the Gulf for you.”

    Again, Obama is better than this.

    Favorite rhetorical moment: the early reference to the First Lady. Natural, gracious and very classy. Speaks volumes about him.

    Least favorite rhetorical moment: “Nobody messes with Joe.” It’s like Biden is the affectionately thought of class clown, who will probably do something goofy to grab some attention unless you throw a little his way first.

    Obama has the Lincoln/FDR/Reagan skills but he needs their material.

    Connie: No prayers for you. Everybody should be so easy to please.

    On 2012: I anticipate that race being less about personality/personal history quirks than any I’ve seen. To the extent it is, Obama wins those points because he is really cool.

    But he is forcefully taking us in radically different policy directions. If they succeed, he wins in a historic landslide. If they don’t, and have negative consequences, 2012 should be about conservative verses progressive policies much more than who did what in college. Four years ought to be long enough to make some initial judgments.

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  8. del said on February 26, 2009 at 11:13 am

    The CRC did the same thing to director/screenwriter Paul Schrader, Connie. (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Last Temptation of Christ) Wikipedia includes this nugget about him:
    Paul Schrader’s early life was based upon strict Calvinist principles and parental education. When he disobeyed his mother, she would stab his hand with a pin, asking, “You think that felt bad? Hell is like that, only every second and all over your body”.

    I’ve never seen Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. Too heavy. I like farce. I know the Apatow films can border on awful but the wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Storyline includes a hero who writes a musical about a lovelorn vampire who sings a song that ends: “I want to die. But I can’t.”

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  9. jeff borden said on February 26, 2009 at 11:20 am

    One point Nancy hits on the Jindal response that is right on the money is the paucity of GOP talent available. It’s not that Jindal can’t overcome a lousy performance. As Mark pointed out yesterday, Bill Clinton was hammered for a terrible, career-destroying speech at the 1988 convention and he was the nominee four years later. What’s painful is to hear how little new was in his remarks. This is the kind of boilerplate we’ve been hearing from Republicans since the late 1970s. And the irony that all this talk about economic discipline comes from the governor of a state that sucks up far more federal dollars per capita than my state of Illinois is just rich.

    Who else might’ve given the response? Sarah Palin is now a national punchline to all but the Kool-Aid drinkers. Mike Huckabee?? Maybe. At least he seems to have a sense of humor to pair with his fundamentalist religiousness. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell? They are so widely hated all they need are handle-bar moustaches. Tim Pawlenty? Drying paint has more charisma. Eric Cantor or Mike Pence? The Democrats couldn’t get that lucky.

    Oh, but wait! All the great and mighty thinkers of our rightwing world will be gathered in one giant coven today in D.C. as CPAC convenes with the mighty slice of man cheese that is Rush Limbaugh as the keynoter. No doubt some bright and shining star will emerge. Right?

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  10. brian stouder said on February 26, 2009 at 11:44 am

    No doubt some bright and shining star will emerge. Right?

    Hard right, baby!

    Maybe that can be their advertising hook – why not aim to be as hard as possible, all the time, on every issue?

    With a young guy like Jindal, or a vibrant presence like Palin (instead of white-haired white male), it would at least NOT look like one of those ‘erectile dysfuntion’ commercials with lots of bare trees and logs scattered about

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  11. del said on February 26, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I agree with you Mark about presidential speeches including references to particular average joes. It seemed sweet when Reagan started it but by the time the Bushes and Clinton employed those pandering theatrical devices it made me cringe. Cut the crap.

    As for 2012, I think the critical issues won’t be the actual successes of Obama’s policies as much as how effectively the message of successes and failures are conveyed by our news/infotainment sources. But I’m a cynic. There are some alternative reality “news” sources out there. We’ve witnessed it already with competing histories about what caused and resolved the Great Depression.

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  12. del said on February 26, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Brian, perhaps, a shining star like this razor clam will emerge at CPAC.

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  13. adrianne said on February 26, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Ah, yes, the old “Catholic-bashing” chestnut rears its ugly head with Bobbie Jindal as the poster child. I can just hear William Donohue revvin’ up the old fax machine at the Catholic Anti-Defamation League, or whatever he calls his horrible organization these days. I actually had a reader accuse my news organization of being “anti-Christian” because we didn’t have a story about Ash Wednesday ON Ash Wednesday. To which I replied: You don’t really believe that, do you? Do you? Because if you do, we just can’t have a conversation and we might as well call it quits now. I also told him I didn’t think it was the job of the secular press to REMIND people it was Ash Wednesday. Leave that to our priests, I say!

    As a semi-observant Catholic, let me just say this: We do NOT embrace the exorcists! They’re weird! ‘Nuff said.

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  14. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 26, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Walt Whitman — “I am infinite, i contain multitudes.” In that spirit:

    I can be psychological: the subconscious is where some of our darkest longings seek to find expression.

    I can be Jungian: there is a collective unconscious, and it has a Shadow side.

    I can be clinical: there are many elements of epilepsy, addiction, obsession, as well as simple neural disease or insult, that manifest in strange behaviors that are impossible to neatly classify.

    I can be poetic: the Void is hungry, and must constantly be fed.

    I can be anthropological: human history is filled with different ways we try to understand both inhumanity and illness as departures from an ideal norm, often personalized and anthropomorphized.

    I can be cheerfully liberal: We fear the dark, but there’s really nothing there except for our need to learn and understand and grow beyond our fears.

    I can be grimly liberal: Greedy selfishness can and should be eliminated, but as long as it is allowed to flourish its ultimate expression is in oppression, discrimination, racism, and genocide. (But a mandatory addition to the public school curriculum or government program can slow or stop greedy selfishness at its root!)

    I can be nihilistic: The Dark is ultimately All.

    I can be cautiously political: Some people believe that there are others who often are influenced somewhat by factors beyond their understanding or control, and i think we all agree that those people need and deserve our help, with the best tools available in our society today.

    Or, i can be a fairly mainstream Christian: I think we dismiss the Bible’s talk of demonic influences and possession too easily; i’m not always sure i see what scripture is getting at when demons are described and dealt with, but it certainly has some powerful analogies to lives i see playing out around me, let alone in my own erratic heart.

    Hey, i can be a really liberal Christian: Haven’t you heard of Walter Wink? “The Powers That Be” helps us see demonic possession as less a matter of an individual issue, but of structures and systems, governmental to congregational, and reminds us that the spiritual realities of change are as important as the politics of transformation.

    But some days i’m just a traditional, basically Orthodox Christian: I believe there are demonic forces at work in the world that wish me ill and drag me down, within and without, that affect relationships and communities and events, on which prayer and fasting have a very real impact. Those acts often help in stopping and changing those assaults. Those acts help me stay on the path i try to follow, but am often tempted to stray from. I might not participate in an exorcism, but i would never mock someone for choosing to do so — i might ask them if they really think they know what they’re doing, the same as i would someone “playing” with a Ouija board. I don’t want to burn them, wouldn’t laugh at someone for doing so, but i would walk away.

    Of course, for saying i contain many contradictory aspects of my personality, some might say “He has a demon in him!” I’m with C.S. Lewis, who said we don’t help matters by being too interested in the demonic any more than we do by claiming there is not and could be no such thing.

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  15. alex said on February 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    In four years it may be too soon to tell whether any of this administration’s current efforts are successes or failures. But one thing’s for sure: Obama has raised the bar as a communicator, and if the GOP expects to win it had better run someone who doesn’t insult the average person’s intelligence the way Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin or Mike Pence do.

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  16. MichaelG said on February 26, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Add my concurrence to those who are tired of presidents introducing members of the audience. It wore out after the first time back whenever. Drop it. Please. It’s sooo Ed Sullivan.

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  17. Sue said on February 26, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I love how we can discuss demonology more calmly than politics. And to pick up on yesterday’s comments: Dexter mentioned the 40 pounds he has lost since last June, to which I say, good for you, and I’m at 7 myself. Not for long, though; today was girl scout cookie delivery day and my lunch will consist of a glass of milk and a whole box of caramel delites. Oh yes it will.

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  18. Kirk said on February 26, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    It seems like maybe Daddy Bush institutionalized the audience recognition thing with his 1,000 points of light. And it’s become very boring and predictable.

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  19. beb said on February 26, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    I don’t think there’s nearly enough Catholic-bashing, that Prada-wearing, boy-raping and holocaust-denying apologist bastard. Oh, wait, that’s just the Pope. Ah, but the taint goes all the way down.

    The most hated religion in American isn’t Catholism, or Islam, it’s atheism.

    Jon Stweart compared Jindal’s speech to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. The pace and delivery were eerily similar.

    I suspect by 2012 the Republicans will be back with Rudy Gulianni. Rudy could give a good speech while Mitt – he always looks like he’s looking at you through a mask. Spawn of the Devil.

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  20. del said on February 26, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Jeff tmmo, your point is well taken. I recall a quote simlar to yours from Whitman from a letter, I think, mentioned in the Norton Anthology of Eng. Lit. intro to Lord Byron in which he described himself as “a strange melange of good and evil.” We’re complex beings.

    But that leads to my comments about the Ouija and exorcism. I certainly did not intend to mock by expressing skepticism — though I did mean to speak plainly, directly and truthfully, especially after reading as much of the Jindal exorcism article as I could (without buying it). According to the article Jindal and his fellow “Christians” falsely imprisoned the “possessed” girl in a room and started ritualistic incantations that led her deeper into hysterics.

    From my perspective, the group dynamics of that particular situation were appalling. These religious zealots were cloistering the poor girl into an alternative reality. A psychological hell, really. Poor kid probably thought she was going insane when the insanity was foisted upon her. That being said, however, I do not doubt Jindal and others’ good faith in acting as they did. They were simply following the reality which they had been led to believe.

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  21. Kirk said on February 26, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Scary thought: Unless Obama can get the economy back in some semblance of health, it won’t matter much who the Republicans run in 2012. Nor will it matter whether four years is too soon to judge the success of his efforts; that’s all most Americans will be willing to give him to straighten things out.

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  22. mark said on February 26, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Funny, kirk, I was going to say the same thing. I think Reagan started it with the guy who dove into the Potomac to rescue passengers on the plane that overshot the runaway. Bush I put them on a team, gave them numbers and handed out T-shirts. Bleah!

    The more I think about it, the more Obama ought to make it a priority to get some great speech writers. Noonan is a ditz but she knew her boss and put some great words in Reagan’s mouth. I used to joke with a contrary thinking friend that I could give 5 memorable Reagan lines for every one from Clinton. The ratio for Reagan to Bush II might be fifty to one.

    Allowing for my bias, here, from present memory are a few that I recall:


    …sinned in my heart…?


    Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

    These are the men who scaled the cliffs. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc.

    I paid for that microphone.

    Honey, I should have ducked.

    …slipped the surly bonds of earth, and touched the face of God… (cribbed, I know)

    Evil empire

    “shining city on a hill”

    Are you better off than you were four years ago?

    With Reagan I could go on and on.

    Bush I-

    thousand points of light

    read my lips, no new taxes

    this will not stand (Kuwait invasion)


    Bridge to the 21st century

    I feel your pain

    The era of big government is over.

    I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.

    …what “is” is.

    Bush II-

    “Bring it on”


    axis of evil

    mission accomplished

    Maybe the rest of you have a larger list for the non-Reagans. To me, even the “memorable” remarks post-Reagan have been pretty pedestrian. The field is wide open for Obama.

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  23. Joe Kobiela said on February 26, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    we all know most people on this board would have voted for Hitler if he would have run for President this last time. I personally don’t think what the Messiah is doing in Washington now, is going to make one bit of difference in the long run for the economy. We should have let the free market make the necessary corrections. Yea some people would lose their homes and some business would close, but in the long term things would have worked out. But I hope things turn around and if they do maybe I’ll vote for the incumbent in four years. My question for everyone on the board is this. What would have to happen to make you NOT VOTE for Obama in 4-yrs?
    Pilot Joe

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  24. alex said on February 26, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    What would have to happen to make you NOT VOTE for Obama in 4-yrs?

    His failure to run for the office.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 26, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Bush I —
    Naa, gaa, daa, wouldn’t be pruuudent.

    (Wait, that was Dana Carvey. Didn’t George prime say it, tho’?)

    Oh, and the inimitable “Stay the course” with hand gestures.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Del – “group dynamics of that particular situation.” I’d say bingo. That’s the problem with folks who actively seek out an encounter with creepiness, whether they want to cast out demons, speak in tongues, go sit in empty rotting farmhouses next to graveyards, or even sometimes just with kids in a dark basement playing “Bloody Mary” with a spoon dangling over a candle, let alone a Ouija board. Five and a half days out of seven i’m pretty much entirely in the psychological approach personally, let alone professionally, but then i have another conversation with some individual who starts out a story with “Look, i know this is going to sound stupid, but . . .”

    The group reinforcement does something, i’m just not always sure what to call it, but you have people starting to say and do stuff out of these pseudo-seances or paranormal “explorations” (it’s amazing how much money is to be made with selling IR meters and high-freq audio recorders to wannabe Ghosthunters, who really could more cost effectively just go back to the thread and spoon and candle, but then they couldn’t call it “science”!), stuff that isn’t so much uncanny as it sticks with and haunts and unnerves people for years and years to come.

    Plus, he said with his official hat on, thinking of files in the desk right now, they keep pushing for more of a thrill, and next thing they’re torturing cats to death, or digging up rural cemeteries, hoping for a skull or at least a good femur. Call it the taint of Cthulu if you like, but they very often find they can’t just laugh it all off the next day, and they can’t get past it, and they want someone to help them feel free of it. In my day job(s), the most i do is ask if they’ve talked to a counselor or pastor, and try to help them find a sympathetic listener somewhere. Off duty, i say a prayer for ’em.

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  27. paddyo' said on February 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Off-topic but FYI to ink-stained wretches, present and former:

    Denver’s Rocky Mountain News publishes its final edition tomorrow, two months short of its 150th anniversary.


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  28. brian stouder said on February 26, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Hey – for the first time in living memory, I had an interesting food experience at lunch time!

    The fellers and I went to a Korean restaurant (which used to be a gas station, I think) and after reading over the menu, I settled on binbinbap (all the dishes had names akin to sound-effects from comic books), along with kimchee and cucumber salad…and of course, an icy cold Diet Coke

    And lemme tell ya, binbinbap is GOOD stuff! (although my head began to sweat)

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  29. Connie said on February 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I highly recommend Sonny’s Korean Garden Patio Restaurant in Mishawaka. (6th and Spring Sts.) I have no idea what I have had there, but it is usually a mixed up bowl of lots of stuff with fiery hot sauce to put on it. Try for a nice day when you can eat at one of the patio picnic tables.

    When one eats Korean one should expect one’s head to sweat.

    Can you tell I am bored at work today? I did send out one news release today so at least for today I can class myself with the rest of you journos. 🙂 Library and WorkOne cooperate to assist filers.

    Whoops, back to edit, make that two. Library Celebrates Young Artists in 2nd Annual Art Show . I didn’t actually write that one myself though.

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  30. MichaelG said on February 26, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    It looks like the Seattle P-I and the (sob) SF Chron will possibly bite the dust in the next few weeks. If they do, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an avalanche.

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  31. jeff borden said on February 26, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Michael G,

    Unfortunately, I think you’re correct. There are going to be a lot of good, well-established publications going down for the count in this economic climate. There are many who will celebrate the demise of these old print operations, but their loss will be felt in so many ways. I truly wonder how local TV stations will get by when they no longer have a 75-cent “tip sheet” every morning to work from, or what local radio talkers will have to gab about when the local daily is either kaput or grotesquely downsized. This economic situation is going to hurt a lot of businesses.

    Walking to the movies in our North Side Chicago neighborhood a few days ago, the growing number of empty storefronts was quite striking. And even in Wrigleyville/Lakeview, where there is a large population of young people, a significant number of bars, taverns and restaurants are simply not opening the doors on Mondays or Tuesdays. A buddy and I went to the Music Box Theatre several weeks ago to see “The Wrestler.” We walked several blocks before we found a bar open on a Monday night.

    These are some ugly, ugly times.

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  32. Dexter said on February 26, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    brian: I used to frequently stop a little place in Ann Arbor called “Steve’s Lunch”. The casual passerby would have had no idea it was Korean-run and had the cheapest, best Korean food in town,sadly long-gone now…best bi bim bop I ever had…
    FROM ANN ARBOR WIKI: “Steve’s Lunch was a diner on South University that served typical diner breakfasts and the quintessential bi bim bop and oh-moo rice. It was a cultural institution; probably the first Korean diner in Ann Arbor. It’s gone now, replaced by Rich JC in the same place. ”
    Tom Waits is best enjoyed on a cold windy October night, or anytime the melancholy is wafting about…I just watched Tom Waits is a supporting role in a 2006 movie ( I think it was 2006) called “Wristcutters: A Lovestory”—quite a strange movie set in a kind of purgatory.
    I am a Waits fanatic…all the albums, cds, have seen all his movies, have seen him several times live in Chicago (Chicago Theater, Steppenwolf Theater)…love the guy, always will….

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  33. Jolene said on February 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Interesting details, Jeff. I’ve been hearing, too, that weeknights are dead in restaurants and bars.

    I worry a lot about who is going to do the reporting once newspapers are gone. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good ideas except substantially higher prices. There are people who might pay a couple bucks most or all days of the week for a paper, but I suspect there aren’t many of them. So many people are so ill-informed now. It’s a little frightening to think that things will get worse and, equally important, that there will be fewer people keeping an eye on people in high places.

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  34. Sue said on February 26, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    My daughter is putting herself through college as a bartender in Milwaukee, and we used to laugh about the pay cut she would have to take when she graduated and got a big-girl job. One-two punch: she probably won’t be able to find a job in her field (or any field), and the variable income that comes from a tip-based job is hurting her just as she enters the home stretch and needs to concentrate on getting those last classes done and her various internships/work requirements completed. She doesn’t have a second to herself and still is looking around for a second job, except no one is hiring. And this is going on even as we are helping her out.
    And re newspapers, I have been trying to start a subscription to the local paper for five weeks. Five weeks of getting kicked off the website after completing the online subscription application (three times!), five weeks of refusal of the website to recognize my account number, and, oh yeah, five weeks of no delivery. I can’t even get an email back anymore from the guy who was helping me (Steve, we’re on a first-name basis now). My credit card transaction went through fine, though.

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  35. coozledad said on February 26, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    When I saw Bobby the other night, the only thing I could think of was sitting in a dorm room with the bong being passed around, and suddenly on the TV there’s the majesty of Itchy Popkin hawking furniture to the Marines. I thought his ass was lost to history, but I looked him up. And he’s in this month’s issue of the New York Times online. Go Figure.

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  36. del said on February 26, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Jeff Borden, I’m surprised to hear about Wrigleville/Lakeview. My brother’s place is a few houses off Clark on W. Cornelia, a locale I likened to Bourbon Street north.

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  37. Jolene said on February 26, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I’ve actually begun to feel sorry for Jindal. He has really been getting hammered. The speech was terrible in both form and content, so the hammering isn’t surprising but the performance was. The guy has a long-standing reputation for being really smart.* I think he got really bad advice about his speech style. A WaPo article described him as “fast-talking”, and I suspect that someone told him to slow down and that’s how he ended up w/ the sing-songy, Mr. Rogers delivery. As I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t find his speaking style appealing when I heard him on Meet the Press, but it was, at least, a mature, natural style.

    I can’t say that I’d be sorry if he doesn’t reappear on the national scene, but I hope he has a resilient psyche and a sense of humor. It’d be touch to have every TV comedian and cable talk show host making fun of you, not to mention having multiple copies of your embarrassing performance available on YouTube.

    *His apparent ignorance of what “volcano monitoring” might be raises some questions about his awareness of what goes one in the world. You don’t have to be much of an expert to know that scientists measure seismic activity.

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  38. harrison said on February 26, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    regarding catholicism …

    just wondering if any of you folks saw the 30 rock broadcast, iirc, on feb. 12.

    in it, jack donaghy (played by alec baldwin) wants to take his main squeeze, a hispanic nurse whose name escapes me (played by selma hayek) to a fancy restaurant on valentine’s day. hayek’s character, however, drags him to church that day to celebrate the feast of saint valentine.

    she asks him, and i paraphrase, if he is a catholic of convenience who goes to church only on sundays.

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  39. alex said on February 26, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Jindal’s problem is that he’s hogtied by a rancorous and simplistic ideological message that he’s not allowed to deviate from. Even someone with Obama’s oratorical gifts couldn’t make that sow’s ear into anything but what it is.

    I’m surprised to hear about Wrigleyville/Lakeview, my old stomping grounds. But then I went from being able to afford dining out seven nights a week to hardly at all in the post-9/11 economy. I’m only now earning again what I grossed in 1994.

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  40. moe99 said on February 26, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Pilot Joe,
    If we’d let the free marketeers free rein instead of the adults currently in charge, I can tell you we’d be in a death spiral now. We still may be in one in a few weeks, months or so, but it was of the making of the previous administration. Not the current one.

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  41. whitebeard said on February 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    moe99, my thoughts indeed; the free marketeers have had their days of infamy, now let sanity prevail. And it would be really really intelligent, Pilot Joe, if you would drop the Messiah crap; your guys lost big, live with it.

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  42. caliban said on February 26, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Inserted into penis ends? Bada fada bada. The Obamaspeach was awesome and the Republican response was …weak…

    We just watched Frozen River. Have to say, I’m a Melissa Leo fan since Homicide. But this is stunning. Her performance is as good as Tommy Lee Jones in Three Burials (if you haven’t seen that movie, that’s kindqa like missing Hamlet, coming up.)

    Anyway, Frozen River is superb. Better than the Ozcar nominees. Why are the best movies about Americans on the fringe of polite society? Eight years of marginalizing everybody that wasn’t rich or a Halliburton catspaw?

    Redistribution of wealth is a belleweather of conservatives, and we’re supposed to believe Obama is a dangerous socialist. While W was pretzeldent, CEO salaries went from 30 times the average worker’s takehome to 300 times.That’s a fact.

    Who was contracting the middle class to benefit the wealthy class creating derivatives and other crooked schemes? Who was keeping the invasion and the occupation off the books by making all that funding ’emergency’?

    WaPo says Obama is playing a budget trick by including the occupation cost? Where were these bastards the last eight years? And that fiscal responsibility shit from Republicans?

    Bobby Jindal, Great Brown Hope? Jimma Ed without the sincerity, genuineness and intelligence. Also lacking any sort of humility in the face of his ambition. But gawdamighty, that jackass was Barney Bibe on the national stage.

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  43. Dexter said on February 26, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    At least Jindal has totally taken the heat from my man Dennis Kucinich as the gnome-in-da-spotlight.
    All summer I had my blood boiling when Kucinich, who espoused all the ideas I believed in, was ridiculed by msm before and after every debate, then unceremoniously cast aside — booted to the sidelines to commiserate with Mike Gravel. It’s good to see Jindal take these lumps; it does my heart good.

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  44. caliban said on February 26, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Dexter. Re.:Jindal.

    Everybody that ever fade dun of Jimma, they can ear it. First, he looked like a joke. Then, he sounded hilarious. Then everything he said was a demonstrable lie. The fact that he anchored his most obvious lie to his participation in fucking over Katrina victims? that’s those Republican scamps. Heckuva job. Republicans? Self-inflicted wounds.

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  45. Gasman said on February 27, 2009 at 12:44 am

    If Jindal can’t critique Obama’s speech without lying his ass off (his apocryphal post Katrina tale, the mythical train from L.A. to Vegas, the $30 million mouse), how confident can he be in the strength of his own message? If you are confident in your position, you don’t lead off with lies.

    I think that it bespeaks the incipient arrogance that pervades the upper levels of the Republican Party. The Rs honestly think that they can say whatever the hell they want and no one will call them on it. They have been conditioned by the dittoheads that swell their ranks and willingly swallow anything that they are fed.

    It also demonstrates that despite their love of Twittering, they really don’t fully understand the implications of the internet and YouTube. It’s too damn easy to instantly fact check the lies. Why do they keep trying to get away with them?

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  46. Dexter said on February 27, 2009 at 1:05 am

    So…racist? No? Can you believe this asshole didn’t know about the racist history of old time cartoonists portraying African Americans as bumbling fools slobbering over a slice of watermelon?

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  47. Gasman said on February 27, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Mayor Dean Grose of Los Alamitos, CA would have us believe that

    he was “unaware of the stereotype that black people like watermelon,” and didn’t mean to “offend” African Americans.

    Right. Everybody who believes that, stand on your head. If Mayor Grose is to be believed, then what was the meaning of his e-mail that contained an image of the lawn of the White House turned into a watermelon patch? What possible meaning could it have if it wasn’t one of racial debasement? Where precisely is the “humor” in such a broadside?

    Why is it not surprising that an elected Republican official would issue such a bigoted circular? Could it be that it is because there have been many such “jokes” that have come from the ranks of the Republican Party within the last year? That Republicans so readily engage in this brand of “humor” is evidence of a great moral deficiency within the party.

    This is not funny and it should not be regarded as anything other than the basest, the meanest, the most inhumane type of degrading racism that exists in our society. Why does the public face of this type of bigotry seem to reside nearly exclusively among the Republican Party?

    Is this the “big tent” philosophy that the Rs are using to swell their ranks? I guess they think that the darkies will flock inside if there’s enough watermelon and fried chicken to be had. Add some refried beans and the wet-backs will be there too.

    This is but one of MANY reasons that I am NOT a Republican.

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  48. Dexter said on February 27, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Gasman, it looks like we will deal with these Neanderthals from now on. It also appears we will have little difficulty in sorting out these creeps. And they are EVERYWHERE.

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  49. Connie said on February 27, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Dexter: I have been a fan of Kucinich ever since he said: Our health care should not be a place for profits. And I think that was way back in the 2000 election primary.

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 27, 2009 at 8:01 am

    Connie, you will never be welcome among the Ferengi.


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  51. Connie said on February 27, 2009 at 9:25 am

    You’re right Jeff. Religion and capitalism all in one. My IT guy here is a published “alternate Star Trek” author, I’ll have to mention this to him, as he and I think alike on most things political.

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  52. LA Mary said on February 27, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Connie, we are on the EXACT same page. The Dutch Reformed Church makes great atheists.

    Mark, you left out the most memorable of Bush II’s quotes. You know all the stuff about putting food on your family or obstetricians being unable to practice their love on women.
    We won’t get fooled again.

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  53. brian stouder said on February 27, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Mary, today the president stated that the troop draw-down in Iraq will be complete – as in zero combat troops – by 2011 (and will be substantially reduced by 2010).

    If this comes to pass, then on that basis alone, he will win re-election in a crushing electoral landslide, and generations will pass all through the 21st century, wherein the common wisdom will be that Republicans start wars and Democrats end them…just the opposite of the old saw in the 20th century

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