The red carpet.

The 48 Hour Film Project awards were this weekend. The event was held in a loft with the sort of sci-fi-apocalypse-hello-America-this-is-your-future view Detroiters take for granted:


That’s the Packard plant, beloved of lazy photojournalists looking for a tragic symbol of Detroit’s industrial decline; Jim at Sweet Juniper (and many others) reminds us frequently that the plant’s been closed more than half a century, but don’t let that bother you, Mr. Parachuted-in Freelancer. Its history is long and complicated and — standard for around here — tragic, but the bottom line is, it’s been abandoned for decades, fell into receivership years ago and presumably belongs to the city. Yes, it should be torn down, but a conservative estimate on what it would take to demolish and haul away more than 3 million square feet of Albert Kahn-designed factory is in the eight figures, and the city doesn’t have that kind of money. A search on Flickr demonstrates the site is a favorite of urban explorers; it stands open to the world now, but even they’re getting bored with it, and it now belongs to the scrappers, who are busily trying to take it apart from the inside, with some success and occasional self-injury — here’s a pretty good Bill McGraw column on the state of things.

The latest craze is arson, and as we stood on the deck drinking and socializing, we could hear the sound of glass breaking, as restless vandals and scrappers worked out their excess testosterone on the few remaining windows. There’s a stripped car sticking halfway out one of the windows two or three floors up; for a while I thought the project was to push it out, but no, they were firebugs, too:


It wasn’t much of a blaze, and it didn’t last long. According to McGraw, the city fire department doesn’t even bother responding to many alarms there, and never at night — it’s just too dangerous. But 3 million square feet holds a lot of puzzlement, and some of it will burn:

Kirschner said Engine 23 and other fire companies responded to a fire recently during the day and discovered about 25,000 square feet of shoes burning. The smoke, partially from the shoes’ rubber and glue, was dangerous for the firefighters and anyone in the neighborhood who might have breathed it.

Hazardous-materials crews monitored the air Monday night and found no need for evacuations. The cause of the fire was not known, but firefighters were certain it was set. They called for an arson car, but none was available.

(I hope you get a sense of the weirdness life in and around this city is, on almost a daily basis. Twenty-five thousand square feet of burning shoes? Shrug.)

The fire was only the appetizer. The main course was the awards, and how did we do? Reader, we won:


(The award says Best Film, but I’m calling it Best Picture until someone tells me to stop.) This puts us in the running for the nationals, and enters us automatically in Filmapalooza, held next year at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Las Vegas. I have very few illusions about our chances up against the fearsome teams of Los Angeles and New York, but on the other hand, I’ve never been to Vegas, and don’t you think I should go before I die? The NAB meets in early April, a little late for spring break, but what the hell.

Yes, I’ve never been to Vegas. Atlantic City, yes, but once you’ve seen “Casino,” do you even need to go to Las Vegas? I don’t think so.

We were lucky. Ideally, when you make a film, you start with a story and add your elements. In a challenge, you start with your elements (genre, prop, character, line of dialogue) and craft the story around them. The time constraints and guerrilla element means you have to work with what you have, and this lends a certain Mickey-and-Judy air of homemade chaos. Stories get shoehorned into places where someone had a friend who would let them shoot — a haunted house, a tattoo parlor or, in our case, the Theatre Bizarre, which was easy to work into our thriller/suspense genre draw. One team drew Musical and put on a fun show called “Love Between the Lanes” at the Ypsi-Arbor Bowl (which has one of the great names, and great signs, in Michigan business). Another, faced with a dud genre (fantasy), threw up their hands and did a “Princess Bride” takeoff that was pretty funny. But there was a lot of crap, too; I haven’t heard so much expository dialogue since, well, the last 48-hour challenge.

(Expository dialogue: “Hello, Bob, let me introduce my sister Sally Mae. You may recall her from last August, when she fell into the punchbowl at our other sister Julie’s barbecue, which required her to take an immediate shower. While she was rubbing the stains from her shirt, the door opened and our brother-in-law Simon came in. He was drunk. Sally, why don’t you tell Bob what happened next?” And so on.)

Watching the screenings, I was reminded of my pal Lance Mannion’s observation about the terrible dialogue in “The Deep”: No one gets out of here when they can get the hell out of here. One film had that intensifier in, seemingly, every other line: What the hell are you doing? Who the hell do you think you’re talking to? Where the hell are we? And so on. I vowed to never, ever write that again. And then watched our film, where a character tells another, “Lady, you need to get the hell out of here.” Wince. Live and learn.

So, then, any bloggage to start the week? Not very much, but some:

Hank liked “Julie & Julia.” So did everyone else I know who saw it this weekend.

Overheard in the Newsroom, one in a series of Overheard blogs. Makes me miss the crazy places:

Intern: “I know what happens when I assume.”
Editor: “Yep. You run a correction.”

We had one crashing thunderstorm a few hours ago, with another one expected around dawn. Best sleep while I can.

Posted at 1:38 am in Detroit life, Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

75 responses to “The red carpet.”

  1. Dexter said on August 10, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Congratulations to your film crew! That is one hell of a photo. Get the hell out! Fifty years and still a monument to the great Packard automobiles, eh? I had no idea it was still standing. The HELL you say!

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  2. mark said on August 10, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Congratulations on your victory. That’s really great.

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  3. Joe Kobiela said on August 10, 2009 at 2:57 am

    Congrats on the movie and nice picture of you and I assume Kate?
    Just got back from a tissue harvest charter to Evansville and could see the lightning flashes up your way from south of Indy. Looks now like the worst is from Lansing to Grand Rapids but it is moving north east and will miss Detroit.
    Sleep well.
    Pilot Joe

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  4. Jolene said on August 10, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Nancy, how understated of you. Ever since your Friday evening Facebook post saying you’d won, I’ve been looking here for a post that said, “We won! We won! We won!”

    But perhaps I shoudn’t assume that everyone would react the way I would.

    Again, congratulations.

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  5. coozledad said on August 10, 2009 at 6:47 am

    I saw a Packard baby grand piano once, and wondered if they were manufactured by the same company. I’ll have to look it the hell up.
    EDIT:Turns out they were a different company altogether. They were in Fort Wayne.

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  6. Connie said on August 10, 2009 at 7:31 am

    My daughter Julie and her good friend Julia felt they were destined to go see that movie together. Verdict: OK but too long.

    We headed up to Saugatuck yesterday to see the final performance of the equity show my brother was doing, and got all caught up in a really nasty thunderstorm mess on our way home, probably what Joe was seeing. And worse, because after being tied up or stopped in traffic on US 31 for almost an hour we got off and began to make our way home on country roads. Just in time for the raging thunder storms that promptly flooded low spots on the road.

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  7. Julie Robinson said on August 10, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Woo-hoo! You go, girl! (Isn’t that how Oprah says congratulations?)

    Yesterday a friend at church named Julia suggested we see the movie together with the other four Julie/Julias in our congregation. But I think we should get in free.

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  8. beb said on August 10, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Speaking of old buildings in Detroit, some guy in the NYT, (David From?) suggested that the problem with Detroit was that it doesn’t treasure its old buildings enough. In particular he mentioned the old train station, which certainly is a lovely building — from a distance! But if you’ve ever actually driven anywhere’s close to it, you’d know it has been so thoroughly trashed that it would be cheaper to demolish and build new then try to renovate.

    He also thought Detroit was planning to use its TARP money to do the demolision, which is a laugh because TARP is money for the banking industry.

    Meanwhile, the thunderstorm Nancy mentioned knocked out the power on our block. That hasn’t happened in a number of years. Without the A/C it immediately became too stuffy to sleep so I went to work early and wrote this.

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  9. coozledad said on August 10, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Those buildings look a little too far gone for a rescue effort, but strictly in terms of scale, they’ve managed some adaptive reuse for similar structures in Durham.

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  10. ROgirl said on August 10, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Congrats on the movie — excuse me, film.

    More stormy weather in the forecast. Welcome to a hot and steamy August day.

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  11. nancy said on August 10, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Cooze, I think I had dinner in one of those repurposed tobacco warehouses once. Alan had a month-long fellowship at Duke in the early ’90s, and I went down to visit him. The food was good, but the memory stays with me for the dessert — the best chocolate cake I’ve eaten before or since.

    I’ll have to look for that David Frum column.

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  12. beb said on August 10, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I think I kind of talked around my point above, which is that if you are looking for “shovel-ready” jobs to use your Stimulas money on, Detroit has a huge list of buildings which, like the Packard plant or the train station, are just too old, too huge, too decrepid to ever be reused, and just out of public safety ought to be torn down. Detroit could easily burn through $100 million a year on clearing ground in hopes of new construction.

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  13. nancy said on August 10, 2009 at 8:36 am

    You know what always strikes me about these old factories and other facilities? How close-in they are. They’re not so much from a pre-zoning past as a pre-wealth one, a place where you could sell houses that were literally across a residential street from a huge smokestack complex. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that workers walked to their jobs when the place first opened in the early part of the century, and the idea anyone would expect peace, quiet and clean air in their neighborhood was a luxury only the rich could afford.

    I always heard one of the things that doomed the old Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne was its place in a built-out neighborhood, that without room to grow (without demolishing housing), it couldn’t thrive.

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  14. brian stouder said on August 10, 2009 at 8:47 am

    You know what always strikes me about these old fac­to­ries and other facil­i­ties? How close-in they are. They’re not so much from a pre-zoning past as a pre-wealth one, a place where you could sell houses that were lit­er­ally across a res­i­den­tial street from a huge smoke­stack com­plex.

    That exact impression struck me, as we approached the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. That complex is directly beside major Ford Motor Company facilities (a huge Design Center was right there, plus other stuff), which was all right across the street from rows upon rows of pleasant brick houses -almost ALL of which had Ford cars and trucks proudly parked on their driveways.

    The thought occured that generations of FoMoCo employee families must have lived (and continue to live) there

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  15. coozledad said on August 10, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Nancy: That may have been Taverna Nikos.

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  16. ROgirl said on August 10, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Here’s the Frum article.

    I agree that Detroit has always been very ready to destroy its past to advance its fortunes, but that went on in all big American cities in the ’60s. Ironically, the lack of money over the past 20 to 30 years has allowed the downtown skyline to remain, with a few exceptions, remarkably unchanged. Of course it also caused the abandonment of the rest of the city as residents and employers fled.

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 10, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Woo-hoo! Congrats, and pack up for Vegas. I’ve never been there, either, but i’d take a trip if there was a reason to do so. It isn’t so hard to go and not gamble, i’m told, if you like people watching. Kind of like going to the State Fair and not ordering a turkey leg, but enjoying the sight of how people try to wrestle them into their mouths without wearing most of the sauce.

    Historic footnote: first national candidate to push for a national health care plan? Theodore Roosevelt. (Same wild eyed crazy to argue for eight hour workday, tight limits on child labor, the vote for womenfolk, and vacation as an employment standard, not a perk — of course, he thought every full-time worker should get vacation so they could spend time out in the wild shooting animals, butchering them yourself with a buck knife, and eating them around the campfire with beans and black coffee, but still . . .)

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  18. nancy said on August 10, 2009 at 9:29 am


    But here is one thing that I do learn from the book: Detroit has never been protective of its past. In the prosperous early 1960s, it used federal urban renewal funds to pull down its grand Romanesque 19th century city hall. (Detroit wants to use today’s TARP money to repeat its vandalism, this time on the old train station.)

    Detroit sacrificed a handsome row of pre-Civil War mansions built by then-leading citizens to allow the Detroit News to erect a bland new office and printing block. It has erased almost all traces of its pre-automobile past from the downtown, and only lack of demolition funds preserved its oldest surviving downtown neighborhood, now faintly recovering as a yuppie-gay historical enclave.

    Name one American city that’s different, Mr. Frum. There are degrees of preservationism, true. But just as Frum would object to modern thinkers using 21st-century morality to shame and condemn Christopher Columbus, you can’t look at isolated incidents of urban development, some made decades ago, and imply that if we’d done it differently the city would be different today is simply fatuous. I’m not sure when those Civil War-era mansions were demolished, but chances are they were standing empty at the time; today’s downtown-living urban pioneer is not necessarily interested in a vastly expensive Victorian pile standing smack in the middle of a concrete downtown. And as for this:

    The second factor in Detroit’s decline is the city’s defiant rejection of education and the arts. Pittsburgh has Carnegie-Mellon. Cleveland has Case Western Reserve University. Chicago has the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and a campus of the University of Illinois. Detroit has… Wayne State.

    A city that celebrated industrial culture spurned high culture. The Detroit Institute of Arts is very nice. But it does not begin to compare to Cleveland’s museum, let alone the Art Institute of Chicago. Detroit has a symphony orchestra, but its history has been troubled and unstoried in comparison to Philadelphia’s or Cleveland’s.

    Detroit also has the University of Michigan a few miles down the road, Michigan State within 100 miles, and many smaller private institutions Frum might find easier to swallow, including one of the best prep schools in the nation (Cranbrook). The DIA is not the equal of Chicago’s museum, but it certainly is as good as Cleveland — it’s a top 10 museum in the U.S. by almost any measure. Of course David and Danielle loves them some symphony, but to say the city suffered a lack of culture because it doesn’t have a world-class orchestra is laughable, especially when you consider it’s one of the great bottom-up entertainment cities in the world, from Motown to John Lee Hooker to the White Stripes to Eminem to…you get the picture.

    In my next life I want one of these right-wing sinecure gigs. I bet that piece took him four hours to write, and he’s probably spending August on a beach somewhere, thinking deep thoughts. Jerk.

    On edit: I’ve been thinking of the people who, in my experience, howl the loudest about historic preservation, about property rights and the inevitable onward march of progress, etc. Republicans all. Irony, you live on.

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  19. brian stouder said on August 10, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Well, and indeed – the aforementioned Henry Ford Museum is enthralling, and Greenfield Village is marvelous; very ‘hands-on’ history, before ‘hands-on’ was in fashion. World class stuff, I’d say – that’s nowhere else but Detroit.

    It was appealing to the young folks, and indeed the display on Women’s Suffrage made a huge impression on Shelby (our 11 year old) and me; as did the Rosa Parks bus.

    We’d go right back.

    PS – it WAS funny to see the Detroit News auto-gyro hanging from the ceiling at the Henry! Now THERE was an extravagant outlay, from the newspaper’s salad days!

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  20. Linda said on August 10, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Of course David and Danielle loves them some sym­phony, but to say the city suf­fered a lack of cul­ture because it doesn’t have a world-class orches­tra is laugh­able, espe­cially when you con­sider it’s one of the great bottom-up enter­tain­ment cities in the world, from Motown to John Lee Hooker to the White Stripes to Eminem to…you get the picture.

    Nancy, that’s popular entertainment, and it doesn’t count. Detroit has an incredible confluence of musical influences from the Southern black and white diaspora, but none of it counts, I guess, because you don’t wear a tux to listen to it. It’s a city that birthed enormous social transformation–turning millions of sharecroppers, coal miners, and peasants into urban factory workers, so that their kids could be the suburban middle class. I’m proud to call this my hometown. Of course, it helps that everybody thinks you’re a tough SOB if you grew up there. 😀

    And congratulations on your victory!

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  21. Duffy said on August 10, 2009 at 10:09 am

    My new favorite Canadian band has a great tune and video about Detroit.

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  22. MichaelG said on August 10, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Congratulations on the film win! There’s nothing as romantic as April in Vegas. You’re gonna love it. Kate is really growing up. Saw my grand kids this weekend and the same thing is happening to them. So when do we get to see the film?

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  23. jeff borden said on August 10, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Congratulations. I look forward to seeing you and your crew on the red carpet in the near future.

    If you are not enthralled by the man-made attractions of Las Vegas, may I recommend you rent a car and drive into Death Valley? (Make sure you have a FULL tank of gas, by the way.) We were there about 15 years ago for the President’s Day weekend, and had quickly run through what small amount of cash we had to spend on the gaming tables. We rented a car and drove off, first, to an Alpine-like development above the tree lines north of Vegas, then into Death Valley. It was a phenomenal experience, particularly as we drove out under a full moon. Man, that is some desolate territory, but absolutely gorgeous in its austerity under moonlight. I have one photo we took during the afternoon using one of those panorama cameras: There is not a speck of green visible.

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  24. Rana said on August 10, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I can point you to a few good places to visit in Las Vegas, if you like – from the perspective of an academic without much money and not much inclination to gamble. (Though if you do wish to do that, Circus Circus is good for nickel machine poker, and the Hard Rock Casino is good for everything else.)

    Other places to visit – the Luxor (see if you can bribe a security guy into letting you ride one of the diagonal elevators – we’ve never managed it), is mind-bending weird inside, with a miniature city inside the pyramid. There’s a great Japanese restaurant in one of the big fancy shopping centers (on the side with Caesar’s Palace, a bit down the strip away from the newer casinos). If you keep heading north down the strip into the older parts, the casinos become entertainingly seedy (and increasingly smoky).

    Off-strip, the gardens at the University are really nice (and rather an oasis when it’s hot), and if you can, rent a car and go see the Hoover Dam. Words can’t describe how amazingly huge it is, and you can get a squished penny with an Art-Deco worker telling you that “they died to build the dam.”

    The one thing that’s a real pain about Las Vegas is getting around, at least if you don’t park yourself in one of the casinos and sit there. Las Vegas is big, and the blocks are going to be much longer than you might expect. Driving, at least on the strip, is a hassle, because of all the tourists walking and the busses and the elderly sunbirds driving badly (and the younger hot shots driving like nuts). Off-strip, a car is probably a good idea. The Las Vegas bus system is quite good, and you can get to it by heading east from the strip (I’d check with Google before going). Again, be warned that walking there might be longer than you’d think, even if it’s only a few blocks. Since you’re going in April, you shouldn’t have to worry about heat (but bring jeans and a fleece for nighttime), but it’s hard going on pavement. Wear comfy shoes!

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  25. LAMary said on August 10, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Sorry to be a dissenter on Vegas. I used to work at a headhunting firm that sent the moneymakers to Vegas as a reward. Even free, with a nice room and all expenses paid, I hate Vegas. Gambling doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t drink. I won seventy bucks playing video poker while waiting to check out of the hotel. I guess that’s something.

    Congratulations on the film. Excellent news. Nora Ephron started directing at about your age, no?

    It looks like Kate has entered that stretch where one occasionally considers trading the kid in for a hamster or something easier to maintain. She may be an exception. I’m not seeing anything in the photo to assume she’s entering that phase. I just know I’ve survived the 12-14 phase twice and I don’t miss it.

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  26. alex said on August 10, 2009 at 11:03 am

    So what kind of car was sticking out of the third-floor window of the Packard factory? There’s still Packards in there?

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  27. Rana said on August 10, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Gam­bling doesn’t do any­thing for me and I don’t drink.

    LAMary, I hear you on that. That about describes me as well. My trick to surviving Las Vegas is to focus on the things like eating and (window)shopping that are also on the strip, and, more, to simply get away from the strip entirely. UNLV is worth a visit, and some of the surrounding desert is quite nice for cool weather hikes and such. Again, though, the consideration is transportation. If you’re stuck on the strip in the summer, doing anything other than blowing money while sitting in the AC is going to be challenging.

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  28. moe99 said on August 10, 2009 at 11:18 am


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  29. brian stouder said on August 10, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I’m not see­ing any­thing in the photo to assume she’s enter­ing that phase.

    Well, our 11 year old daughter recently talked her mother into doing the highlights-in-her-hair thing, which was a fairly large….not ‘concession’ – but more like ‘accord’; if those two ‘tangle’ over anything, it’s the younger lady’s hair care.

    They went lightly on this first-go at highlights, and then after a very pleasant 2 days on the beach (near Holland, MI), the highlighting became more pronounced….and everyone was pleased

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  30. LAMary said on August 10, 2009 at 11:31 am

    It’s not the highlights. It’s random exasperating moments.

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  31. Sarah Kenny said on August 10, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Sooner or later the Packard Plant will collapse on top of a bunch of homeless people and everyone will be asking why it was never imploded.

    Julie and Julia was fantastic. I dragged my husband to it and he ended up loving it too.

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  32. ROgirl said on August 10, 2009 at 11:41 am

    If we’re going to bemoan the wholesale destruction of neighborhoods that had long existed and the relocation of their inhabitants in the name of civic planning and urban development, we need only look at the handiwork of Baron Haussmann in 19th century Paris (hired by the emperor).

    He destroyed the old medieval Paris and created the wide boulevards, buildings of uniform height and style, and gardens that make up Paris today. He also cleared the slums from the central districts to build middle class housing, and moved the poor to outlying areas, the suburbs.

    He also established a clean water supply and built the sewer system, but the wide boulevards also allowed the government to crush rebellions with greater ease, and he was criticized in his day for destroying the old Paris.

    David Frum was born in Toronto, so he grew up in a city where most of the arts and cultural institutions were subsidized by the government.

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  33. Connie said on August 10, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Brian, you went to the beach near my home town and didn’t even sk me for tourist tips or a restaurant recommendation? Hope you had fun.

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  34. LAMary said on August 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I don’t remember if it was Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, or Harry Shearer who said it, but one of them described David Frum as the guy who created a three word quote and has been running a victory lap about it for the past five years. The quote was “Axis of evil.”

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  35. 4dbirds said on August 10, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Congrats Nancy, or as we say in poker, SHIP IT!!. I love poker and visit Vegas about once a year to play. There’s lots to do if you have some free time and you don’t have play a single slot or table game. The only game you can ever consistantly win at is poker, everything else the house will get you eventually. That’s real poker not that 3 card thing played on a blackjack table. Hubby and I love to people watch while there. We’ve seen it all from tragically sad to rip roaring funny. We like to hike in Red Rock Canyon. Our favorite pool with a lazy river is at the MGM Grand. We usually have a steak dinner at Gallaghers in New York, New York. There’s a boat ride on Lake Meade and you can actually see wild life. Hoover Dam is boring, to me but I guess you have to go to see it at least once. I hear you can’t drive on top of it anymore. There are horse back riding trips through the desert. My backside hurt for hours after that. You can also get in a side trip to the Grand Canyon. My sister lived in Vegas for five years and never once stepped foot in a casino. It can be done. 🙂

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  36. brian stouder said on August 10, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Connie – we LOVED it! The Old Dutch Village was pretty kitschy, which is to say – boring to our 14 year old, but delightful to our 5 year old, and interesting to the 11 year old. (walking the goat became a mini-drama, but I digress)

    Pam had been there as a little girl, and the contrast between what she remembered and what we saw was hugely funny to her and I!

    Anyway – we did the dinner cruise (from one end of Lake Macatawa, out the channel and into Lake Michigan, and back again), which was very nice until the captain’s wife did karaoke (between songs, Shelby asked for a dollar to place into her tip jar, and a crusty fellow across the way stage whispered “Why do you want to tip HER?”), and the beach, and a very nice steakhouse near the hotel, and a franchise Italian place that was VERY nice (can’t recall the name, but it was something like Cabellas)….and we were very impressed with how nice the park and playground was, near the east end of Lake Macatawa.

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  37. Connie said on August 10, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Brian, many years ago I was one of those teenaged girls in Dutch costume and wooden shoes doing exhibition dancing at Dutch Village. Perhaps I am in Pam’s childhood photos.

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  38. Julie Robinson said on August 10, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Experimenting with hair color is pretty small change for early teens; no dangerous consequences and it’ll eventually grow out. Our son was in 6th or 7th grade when he visited his big sister at collge and came back a redhead. Apparently this was a big shock at school because we were known for being strict parents. It looked good on him, actually–even more like the Irish laddie that he is. He did it a few more times before getting bored with it, and so far, no mohawks or blue hair. I’d be okay with those too but I don’t think he’d look his best. His form of hair rebellion these days is that just when it gets long enough that we like it, he gets it cut. Cue chorus of “Kids, I don’t know what wrong with these kids today…”

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  39. Dorothy said on August 10, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Hip hip hooray on the win!

    And count me among the ones who’d rather not go to Vegas. But I hope you have fun there, and continue winning. I’m not a gambler or a drinker either, but I hear it’s a great place to do some people-watching. As a sometime-actress I can’t get enough of that kind of stuff.

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  40. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 10, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Re: Axes of Frums: It was his wife who came up with the line, as a matter of fact.

    What we need is a modern day Dickens to reframe the current scene along the lines of Chapter XIII of “The Pickwick Papers,” of which i append this small selection out of the electioneering in the borough of Eatanswill —

    ‘Hurrah!’ shouted the mob, in conclusion.

    ‘One cheer more,’ screamed the little fugleman in the balcony, and out
    shouted the mob again, as if lungs were cast-iron, with steel works.

    ‘Slumkey for ever!’ roared the honest and independent.

    ‘Slumkey for ever!’ echoed Mr. Pickwick, taking off his hat. ‘No
    Fizkin!’ roared the crowd.

    ‘Certainly not!’ shouted Mr. Pickwick. ‘Hurrah!’ And then there was
    another roaring, like that of a whole menagerie when the elephant has
    rung the bell for the cold meat.

    ‘Who is Slumkey?’ whispered Mr. Tupman.

    ‘I don’t know,’ replied Mr. Pickwick, in the same tone. ‘Hush. Don’t ask
    any questions. It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob

    ‘But suppose there are two mobs?’ suggested Mr. Snodgrass.

    ‘Shout with the largest,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.

    Volumes could not have said more.

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  41. brian stouder said on August 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Connie – when we took in the wooden-shoe dancing show, Pam got a kick (so to speak) out of the moment when one of the dancers’ wooden shoes flies off (as we had been warned could happen!) and splashes into the creek. She whispered to me that the exact thing happened when she was a little girl, and then (cue trumpets flourish) it hit her that it was part of the act!

    Sure enough, sometime later we took in a Delft pottery demonstration, and upon walking out, saw one of the girls fishing a wooden show from the creek again.

    Somewhere, we have a VHS tape (made from an 8mm home movie) of Pam’s trip there….and now I shall have to find it!

    edit: re: hair: The ‘highlight accord’ wasn’t really the source of contention. Instead, the (continuing) issue is keeping one’s hair regularly brushed, so as to avoid tangled wreckage… or at least, that’s what I gather, from a safe distance

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  42. whitebeard said on August 10, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    As everyone, including NNC, should know, winning isn’t everything, but hot damn, it surely feels good. My congratulations on your win.

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  43. derwood said on August 10, 2009 at 3:12 pm


    I went to Vegas a few years ago and spent most of the time finding all of the arcades to play pinball. I rode the coasters too.

    When can we see your creation?


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  44. Dexter said on August 10, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    The shuttered Auburn, Indiana foundry on 15th Street is an example of urban close-in businesses that could never operate now, I assume.
    Houses line the street just a few feet from the walls of the place. The pollution was horrible, the stench wafted through the windows of the McIntosh School just a few blocks away, my brother told me.
    The loud banging foundry noise was awful, even to ride by quickly on a bicycle.
    Good riddance…but then there are a few hundred more unemployed….
    Jenflex…what do you think?

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  45. Dexter said on August 10, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Rana: your description of the NV drivers reminds me of what a cop told me in Florida a few years ago regarding US 19 drivers on the Suncoast.
    “You have old people who are disoriented every time they drive, doctors roaring around in sports cars, confused tourists, locals, and teenagers who can drive here at age 15…that’s why we have wrecks on this road all the time.”
    We saw wrecks at three consecutive intersections near Dunedin and I was ever-so-cautious the whole week after that.

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  46. Scout said on August 10, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Nancy, great news about the big win! You’ll likely enjoy Vegas for the visuals, especially at night. For most, once will usually do it for the been there, done thats. My daughter and family live there and we might check out the strip every couple of visits. I enjoy the dancing fountains at the Bellagio, with a quick pass through the Venetian and Paris, then I’m done.

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  47. crinoidgirl said on August 10, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Brian @ 14:

    Henry Ford built most of those homes for Ford workers, actually. (I worked as an engineer at Ford for 24 years. Several years were spent in that building you describe that was the design studio long ago.)

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  48. LAMary said on August 10, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    When I worked doing general scutwork and research for the NYT Rocky Mountain Bureau in the seventies, I dealt with bales of info about water use and the lack of water in the west. We also worked stories about the power plants in Utah that create the cruddy air that hangs over the Grand Canyon. When I see Vegas, with the fountains and the lights, I think of the cost. That probably makes me a real jerk about environmentalism, but I can’t get past it.

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  49. nancy said on August 10, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I always thought that was the point of the Bellagio fountains — scarcity and luxury. (They probably have some ginned-up PR explanation for how “green” it is, how the water is extracted from the tears of departing gamblers and, hence, infinitely sustainable.) It’s like the indoor ski slope in Dubai, i.e., looky what we can do.

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  50. LAMary said on August 10, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    It is the point and it offends me. I don’t have any problems with people going to Vegas to gamble and drink and make asses of themselves. Personally, I’d rather take that money and either buy something tangible or stick in the kids’ college fund. I’m not a Vegas sort of person. I want to go around switching off lights and turning off the water. To the untrained eye, I’m no fun.

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  51. basset said on August 10, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Never been to Las Vegas, don’t care to go. Nothing there for me except the Beatles remix show, wherever that’s playing, and I suppose there are a few places to get a good steak, otherwise I don’t even want to pass through their airport.

    Back to factories for a minute – here in Nashville we have a whole neighborhood of streets with Ford-related names:

    Ford had an auto-glass plant here for awhile, it’s still running but I’m not sure if it’s Ford, Visteon, or what. In true mid-20th-century fashion, it’s surrounded by a highway, a junkyard, and a small airport; Joe, if you ever come into JWN from the north, it’ll be the smokestacks to your left.

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  52. brian stouder said on August 10, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    To the untrained eye, I’m no fun. For some reason, this struck me as very funny – and I’m still chuckling! (I suppose it begs the question, what would the proper ‘training’ consist of?) I’ve no doubt that Mary is great fun to be around, with her perceptiveness and her wealth of funny stories.

    and another thing that made me laugh this evening is this article, about my fave race car driver of all time (other than the late Greg Moore), Michael Schumacher. He’s 40 and has been retired for three years, and this article details the struggles of the out-of-shape 7-times World Champion as he works to make a credible comeback to the sport, in the wake of Filipe Massa’s season-ending injuries at Hungary.

    Actually, skip the text, and scroll down to see the picture of shirtless Schuie, and all that flab he has to somehow work off

    Basset – the one thing I couldn’t talk the young folks into was the Rouge Factory Tour; whenever we go back there (and, I’d go back tomorrow!) we’re doing the factory!

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  53. 4dbirds said on August 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Bassett, are you talking about LOVE, the Cirque du Soleil show? We saw that but to tell you the truth, I was more intrigued by the mechanics and timing of the whole production. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the ceiling to check where all the gears and pulleys were in relation to the acrobats.

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  54. MichaelG said on August 10, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I was also really tickled by that “untrained eye” comment, Mary.

    Brian, I never could stand Michael Schumacher, although I give him full marks for his talents and skills. He always seemed like an asshole to me. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise but I’ll take a lot of convincing.

    When they get around to blowing up the Packard plant, maybe they could hire that Turkish demo outfit. I’m sure that after the other day they’ll be willing to work cheap.

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  55. Old Lino Operator said on August 10, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Re: Health care. Samuel Milton Jones was not a national political candidate, but he was mayor of Toledo, Ohio, and ran for governor of Ohio. His company ran by “the golden rule.” It provided employee benefits in the 1890s that the adjunct professor teaching the history course in the 1990s did not have. According to Mantle Jones’ book, everyone in Toledo who was not in jail was at his funeral or lining the route to the cemetery.

    Mantle Jones. Holy Toledo: Religion and Politics in the Life of “Golden Rule” Jones. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998. Pp. 232. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. Cloth, $29.95.

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  56. Linda said on August 10, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    L.A. Mary:
    Re: your non-love for Las Vegas. It reminded me of a Mike Downey quote: “There’s nothing wrong with Las Vegas that a neutron bomb wouldn’t fix.”

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I love the regrettably apocryphal tale of Thorsten Veblen, the economist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption,” using lawns as his original explantory metaphor. The story that turns out to be too good to be true is that he wore a safety pin in place of a tie bar, and his students liked his lecturing and style so much that they collected funds from the whole class and bought him an actual, jewelry store tie barand gave it to him on the last day of class.

    So he flunked them all for not getting what he was saying about conspicuous consumption.

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  58. Joe Kobiela said on August 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    I’ll keep my eyes open.
    Brian, I want to due the Rouge also. I flew over it tonight, the place is huge with a lot of history in there.
    Pilot Joe

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  59. basset said on August 10, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    We did the Rouge tour in about 1978 or 79, I remember they were making Fox-body Mustangs and Capris. Don’t know why Ford let anyone see inside the place, it couldn’t have been good for the image – dark, trash everywhere, guys on the line goofing off and making rude comments to the women on the tour, basically looked like everything you expect is wrong with a US auto plant.

    Nissan and Saturn were the exact opposite a few years later – well-lit, clean, organized, much more of a sense of purpose.

    4dBirds, I did mean the LOVE show – the audio cd was interesting, if only to experience the old stuff mixed so you could hear everything. Sounds like the Thompsonian approach would be best for that.

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  60. moe99 said on August 10, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    LA Mary: My grandmother, Helen Cullen, from Paulding OH, told me about taking the train to Las Vegas in the early 50’s. It arrived in Vegas at night and she said you could see the sky lit up for many, many miles before the train arrived there.

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  61. brian stouder said on August 10, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    the place is huge with a lot of his­tory in there.

    Joe – I remember reading a remark in Watts’ biography of Henry Ford that back in the day, the River Rouge plant received train-loads of iron ore on one end, and Model T’s came out the other – and that the only component they purchased from elsewhere was Firestone tires.

    It was said that the River Rouge plant was the closest thing to hell on earth, with the unceasing fire and heat from the blast furnaces, and the cacaphony attendant with the unceasing production and assembly process.

    I wanted to see the place where the Model T’s came from….but indeed, I gotta say – riding in one at Greenfield Village was a genuinely delightful highlight.

    The fellow driving said only two components in the Model Ts they run there are non-original; safety glass in the windshield replaces the plate glass they once had, and…the nut behind the wheel!

    One last thing about Greenfield Village that made a big impression on us was how consistently friendly, informative, conversant, and indeed proud all the people who work there were. It certainly helped that Ford had just announced an operating profit; the folks there simply radiated pride and purpose

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  62. basset said on August 10, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    The Highland Park plant is the real home of the T, the first place they were manufactured; believe it’s a storage building now.

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  63. Dexter said on August 11, 2009 at 1:23 am

    It’s ten bucks but it’s worth it…the Piquette Avenue Model T plant.

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  64. Dexter said on August 11, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Ben Stiller is an interesting guy…check out his Twitter page:

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  65. basset said on August 11, 2009 at 8:40 am

    ahh, you’re right, Piquette Ave. was first… didn’t know it was a museum, looks interesting.

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  66. LAMary said on August 11, 2009 at 10:57 am

    My sons developed a dislike for Michael Schumacher. I understand he has a reputation for being a real bastard.

    I took the train from LA to Flagstaff once and yes, you can see Vegas glowing for many miles before you get there. Glowing doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s like it’s daylight in Vegas and midnight fifty miles out.

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  67. brian stouder said on August 11, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Mary and Michael –

    Well, if I hadn’t been smitten with Michael Schumacher in 1994, I guess I’d agree with these unkind assessments of him! But back at that time, Schuey was driving a Benetton car (quite beautiful, with its “united colors of Benetton” livery!) with a customer Ford engine, and Ayrton Senna was killed in a Williams with the almighty Renault engine – I think 3 or 4 races into the season (at Imola, Italy). From that time forward to the end of the year, it seemed like the FIA was working overtime to stop Schuey from winning the World Championship. They banned him from races for passing a car on the installation lap (BEFORE the race began!), and for wearing out the skid plate beneath the car (!!), and in one race he lost everything but 3rd gear and still finished in the points…and he won the World Championship versus Damon Hill….who I SHOULD have liked, since he manfully took over for the departed Senna, in a potentially unsafe car, and who nearly won the championship. That MIGHT have been the year Schuey smacked into Hill in the last race, taking each other out, and locking in the championship – or maybe not….but the deal was sealed, and I was a Schuey fan then and thence forward, forever.

    Then, Benetton switched from the Ford power to the almighty Renault, and Schuey made it look easy in 1995….and meanwhile Ferrari looked comically bad, with Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger haplessly scoring few points and generally being non-factors….and then Schuey went to Ferrari in 1996, and raised the level over there, ’til people ultimately said “well yes, Schuey wins, but he’s always in the best car” – ignoring the fact that Schumacher himself raises the game of whatever team he’s on, and improves the performance of whatever car he’s in, until the team and the car become “the best”.

    Anyway – he’s going to run a few more races, and I think he’ll get a win or two – and light a fire beneath Kimi Raikkonen (who I think is the most over-paid guy in racing!), and he’ll leave things better than he found them, as always.

    As for folks who DON’T like Schuey – I get it; And – it’s all in fun, really – at least from the cheap seats! You know, speaking ‘cheap seats’, when Formula One would come to Indianapolis, I always went to the Saturday practice/qualifying…lots and lots of racey cars (and racey other things!) to see, and for cheap! And – I’ve been in marvelously funny conversations with other fans in the stands time and again. One older fellow – who had flown in from California with a buddy while their wives shopped in Chicago – saw my Schuey shirt and started a mock-serious harrangue about how terrible Schumacher was. Somehwere in there, he mentioned that Schuey would have been a death-camp guard for the Nazis, if he had been born 50 years sooner! – and I said ‘No, no – he’d have been an ace pilot in the Luftwaffe’ – and the guy didn’t miss a beat, immediately retorting “and he’d be strafing civilians every chance he got”!! Had to laugh – they guy just didn’t like Schuey!

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  68. brian stouder said on August 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    And speaking of the devil –

    an excerpt:

    Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher has abandoned his comeback with Ferrari because of a neck injury.

    Too bad on the one hand; and a relief, on the other

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  69. Dave said on August 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Late comment, as usual, but never been to Vegas, other than maybe some entertainment, don’t care to go. The one casino boat I’ve been to, I couldn’t get off fast enough, noise, smoke, not a gambler. OTOH, Vegas may be one of those places you should see once. Maybe.

    Ah, Route 19 on the Suncoast, my MIL lives in Palm Harbor, just north of Dunedin. Route 19 is always an adventure and we got a rental car totaled by a completely inattentive 40-something driver with a suspended license near the Dunedin-Palm Harbor border. She got out of the car and sat on the pavement with her head in her hands, she wouldn’t talk to us and barely spoke to the police. Luckily, we walked away, more or less, although it didn’t do my MIL any good.

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  70. poochlover said on August 11, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Shut up! That CANNOT be Kate!!!

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  71. basset said on August 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I don’t understand the appeal of F1 at all. Back in the Sixties, when Dan Gurney and Phil Hill were running, well, maybe. Now, though, with no American cars and no American drivers… who cares? Nobody to pull for.

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  72. brian stouder said on August 11, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    A good point, basset. I’ve stopped to ponder why F1 appealed to me – and one real reason (back in the day) was – generally you could watch a live broadcast early in the morning, and then it’s over; as opposed to a 4 hour mid-afternoon NASCAR snoozefest.

    Another thing is, it really does look very cool. The cars are beautiful, and their high-revving engines have a satisfying, powerful sounding scream. And the standing starts are exquisite; and the rareness of having a safety car on the track is neat. If a racer is 1/2 second a lap quicker than another, then the lead he builds up generally doesn’t get taken away by a full-course NASCAR-style “debris” caution…NASCAR makes sure to keep the cars in a pack and concentrates on strengthening the walls (as Dale Earnhardt shrewdly observed), rather than letting the better cars leave the lesser ones in the dust.

    The truth, in my estimation, is that a person can get sucked into being a fan of almost anything for whatver reason – and then once there’s a connection (you develop favorites, or anti-favorites, or whatever), you’re locked in.

    By rights, F1 should have imploded as badly as American open-wheel did, by now….and they keep dancing on the edge of the cliff. They dumped their US and Canadian race dates – thus becoming totally absent from their biggest sponsors’ largest market in the world – North America; they almost had an American style split this summer, they dangled a potnetially fan-pleasing return of Schuey (which ain’t happening), and they seem to be ready to EXCLUDE the Renault team and its handsome former World Champion Fernando Alonso from racing in his home country’s race in 10 days!! They seem to go out of their way to court financial disaster!

    Not for nothing, I USED to be a baseball fan, and fell away from it; and I used to be an American open-wheel fan, and fell away from it…so who knows?

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  73. bo-regard said on August 12, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Congrats on the “picture”! Where/when can we see it? I went to the project website but couldn’t find it…

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  74. basset said on August 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Safety car? How does that work?

    I generally prefer to watch races where an independent has a chance – as late as the Seventies, you could still build a car in your own shop, take it to Indy, and have a chance of making the race without multimillion-dollar sponsorships and marketing plans. Eighty or ninety cars would show up back then, too… and now, they’re having trouble getting a full field of 33. The rules left room for innovation, too – you could always count on Mickey Thompson or the Granatelli brothers or someone showing up with something weird, now the cars are pretty much all clones.

    Bill France the elder is supposed to have said that the ideal field for a Cup race was “five cars that can win, and the rest for them to run through” – but, even back in the old days, NASCAR was notorious for throwing questionable cautions if the race got to be a runaway.

    And, on another topic – Cooz, Packard may not have made pianos, but Studebaker made watches. You could look it up… they were sold under another name, but the same Studebaker family owned the factory.

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  75. Mosef said on August 13, 2009 at 10:40 am

    You are a great writer and storyteller. I am glad to hear about your success in a new medium.

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