Blowed up real good.

Someone is remaking “Red Dawn.” I know, I know: why? It’s perfect the way it is. What could ever top this mid-’80s Cold War paranoid fantasy? What’s the new story, now that the Evil Empire has been defanged and we still have the memory of those indelible performances — Patrick Swayze, at 32, playing a high-school boy; Ron O’Neal as an alternate-reality Che Guevara; and who can forget Harry Dean Stanton behind the wire at the drive-in/re-education camp, hollering “Avenge me, son!”

I can’t answer those questions. All I can say is, thank God Michigan is giving out these fat tax incentives, so the “Red Dawn” crew can come to Detroit and blow shit up:

(If you’re impatient, drag the playhead to the 40-second mark.) I don’t know what other American city would let you get away with that. Fortunately, we have a lot of empty buildings to spare.

On the downside, sometimes a post-apocalyptic wasteland behaves like one.

A little Googling tells me the updated story involves a military invasion of the U.S. by the Chinese. There’s a blog, too, with some great deets. A military convoy was photographed rolling down one of the downtown freeway legs on Sunday, something you likely haven’t seen in Fort Wayne lately.

I’d like to see the Chinese try to take this city. Of course, first they’d have to want to. I envision a scene like Tiananmen Square, only in reverse.

OK, enough small talk. Count me among one of the 1 million subscribers who will miss Gourmet magazine. It hurts even more because I’m a latecomer; I only started subscribing it a year ago. Before then, I thought it wasn’t my cup of expensive tea, but I was stupid not to trust that anything Ruth Reichl put her hands on would be worth my time. Far from being a snooty festival of luxury, it’s a well-written tribute to food and food culture, and the recipes are wonderful.

Kim Severson, another food writer I’d follow anywhere, takes a look at the death of Gourmet in the NYT today, and I think she gets to the heart of it right here:

Although it was easy to paint Gourmet as the food magazine for the elite, it was a chronicler of a nation’s food history, from its early fascination with the French culinary canon to its discovery of Mediterranean and Asian flavors to its recent focus on the source of food and the politics surrounding it.

In the decade since Ruth Reichl took over as editor, she underlined everything from the exploitation of tomato pickers in Florida to dishes like chicken and dumplings that could be on the stove, simmering, in 15 minutes.

That’s what I’ll miss about it, anyway. It really chaps my ass that Gourmet had to fold so that Vogue and Anna Wintour could live to fight another day.

Finally, I took Kate to see “Whip It” over the weekend, another shot-in-Detroit movie that seemed worth our time, and it was, although I’ve now come to see the PG-13 rating as the enemy of parents everywhere. It’s funny — after we came home and Kate went to bed, Alan and I watched the R-rated “Adventureland” on cable, and the latter, while more explicit in its F-bombs and so on, took much of the same material (young-adult sexuality, in part) and treated it with more respect and less snickering than the PG-13 “Whip It.” It’s not that one was exploitive and the other one not, it’s just that “Whip It” had several scenes and dialogue exchanges that seemed tacked on to avoid a straight PG and make the film edgier, somehow. All I know is, I feel more protected by lead actresses who refuse to take their bras off on camera than the MPAA ratings board.

Other than that, however, it was a pretty good little movie, exploring female empowerment through roller derby. I know Jeff Borden’s a big fan, and I had a twinge, remembering our departed Ashley Morris, whose wife Hana was a New Orleans roller girl. (Ashley chose her stage name, and crowned his wife, a native of the Czech Republic, “Soviet Bloc.”) Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore and Kristen Wiig do most of their own skating, and those girls certainly tear it up. I almost — not quite, but almost — forgave the cheesy product placement Barrymore snuck in there. Did you know a roller girl can never wear too much Lash Blast? Now you know.

After two nights, I think I’m finally caught up on my rest for the next few days. Sorry to be getting here late again, but ah well. Now to the giant pile of copy I’ve been putting off editing. Next time you see me, I’ll be cross-eyed and ink-stained. Have a good rest of the day.

Posted at 11:10 am in Detroit life, Media, Movies |

40 responses to “Blowed up real good.”

  1. Jim Wetzel said on October 7, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Au contraire, I think “Red Dawn,” viewed correctly, had a relevance that is evergreen. The thing that one needs to keep in mind is that the heroic high-school “Wolverines” are what you might call “insurgents.” And the big question is: when the evil Commie invader-soldiers get sent home in boxes, does their government permit the Commie press to photograph their flag-draped coffins? And do the Commies at home sufficiently “support the troops?” And how can we imagine that those Commies are supporting the troops if they fail to support the troops’ mission?

    And don’t ever, ever watch “Red Dawn” (remade or original) and think of Iraq, or Af-Pak. Because such thoughts would be very, very bad.

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  2. JOe Kobiela said on October 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Wife and I saw whip it last Sat, We both enjoyed it. Kind of reminded me of a female version of the Fort Wayne Rugby Club but with you know (Chicks)
    I got bounced all over the sky last night. That wind was wicked, blowing at around 50knt at 11,000ft.At 4:00am it was 70 in Knoxville Tenn.
    Pilot Joe

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  3. MichaelG said on October 7, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Worse still, they’re killing Gourmet and saving Food and Wine. I guess Gourmet didn’t have enough reality shows going. I had a whole closet full of Gourmets, some of them dating back to the ’50s. Kind of feel a little bad about getting rid of them when I moved two years ago.

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  4. nancy said on October 7, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Jim, David Plotz at Slate wrote a piece along those lines late last year.

    The DetNews has a photo gallery of the explosion scene here. Man, you couldn’t pay me enough to be a stuntman.

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  5. Sue said on October 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t buy the excuse that Gourmet is going because of fewer “ad pages”. Name a mag these days that hasn’t been hit by loss of ads – my Sports Illustrated is the size of a church bulletin. They’re making a big mistake thinking that somehow the brand (cookbooks, website) will survive the magazine. I really liked the magazine for its excellent, broad reporting (that article about virtually-enslaved farm workers in Florida put me off buying tomatoes during the winter months unless I can find some from CANADA, for crying out loud). I also loved, loved, loved the unintentional silliness, from the every-few-months article praising some famous chef’s mentor, who always cooked with no more equipment than two matches and a bottlecap (seriously, one article had the mentor cooking in a cave), to Ruth’s comment one day about the casual dinner she prepared for friends that included whipping up a turkey (that doesn’t take long) and pans of mocha brownies. And I’ll really miss Road Food.
    I have about five years of back issues, divided by month. I bring out the old issues at the beginning of each month and sometimes it’s like reading a new issue.

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  6. beb said on October 7, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    When publishers kill off magazines like Gourmet or Modern Bride its usually because the advertising base has collapsed and has nothing to do with Senior Staff deciding they hate the magazine. One of these magazines, probably Modern Bride had a 50% fall-off in advertising over last year. I don’t know that any magazine could survive that kind of loss of revenue. At the same time, it’s not like Conde Nast is getting out of the Bride or Food magazine markets. There is a third Brides magazine that being promoted from bimonthly to month, and will probably npick up the best features from the two canceled magazines.

    Like Food and Wine will carry on for Gourmet. I suspect that too many readers and advertisers considered “Gourmet” too snooty a sounding magazine for all the good material inside. Food and Wine just sounds friendlier. And hopefully will pick up the best writers from Gourmet, perhaps even becoming Gourmet under a less pretentious title.

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  7. brian stouder said on October 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    This is what struck me –

    It hurts even more because I’m a late­comer

    Makes one stop and wonder what else one is missing out on. For example, I came to the Fort Wayne Lincoln Museum a good decade later than I should have; missed out on some hugely good stuff (they were still buzzing about Lerone Bennet’s visit, several years after the fact!), and now it’s gone.

    btw – saw several fairly large military convoys here and there on I-80 last week, especially in western Iowa. But indeed, not in Fort Wayne! (although I have a childhood memory – must be from the late 1960’s, or early ’70’s – of the sky being FILLED with columns of helicopters one day. Must have been more than a hundred Hueys [or something similar], flying southwest toward Baer Field. That made a lasting impression!) (coulda’ been related to riots and so on? who knows)

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  8. Jolene said on October 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Food & Wine is published by American Express, not Conde Nast. CN’s other food mag is Bon Appetit.

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  9. moe99 said on October 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    My dad subscribed to Gourmet. Once in high school, I made Chicken Kiev and some fruit tarts from its recipe pages. It was good but it took way too much time for my liking then. Now I realize the preparation is part of the whole

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  10. crinoidgirl said on October 7, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Re: editing and writing –

    How do you keep your motivation up? I have a couple of white papers I should be writing, and my own stack of editing, but the last few days I have not been able to do a damn thing. And I’m getting a pretty big chunk of change for it, too. It’s been a big help as a supplement to my unemployment check. Arrrrggghhhh

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  11. crinoidgirl said on October 7, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    “I’m interrupting my career. It’s not like I want my new career in politics. But I’m willing to interrupt it the same way that somebody interrupted their career and joined World War II and went off to fight the Nazis.”
    — Connecticut GOP candidate Peter Schiff, on running for the U.S. Senate

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  12. Sue said on October 7, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Has anyone read Ruth Reichl’s book about her years as a restaurant critic? It’s a fun read.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on October 7, 2009 at 1:24 pm


    You just have to start writing. When I worked at Crain’s Chicago Business, we spent Monday through Wednesday reporting our stories and Thursday was writing day. Many were the times when I arrived in the office on Thursday, laid my notes out alongside my keyboard and stared at a blank screen. And stared. And stared.

    For me, the solution was to write the “nut graph” the night before. This was a requirement for all stories –a paragraph that more or less told you what the story was and why you should give a damn– which usually was the third graph of the story. This was an amazing help.

    Bottom line: Start writing and getting it down, then go back and clean it up, smooth it over, fill in the gaps, etc.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on October 7, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    “Red Dawn” to me was always a great combination of silly action and hilarious humor mined from every teenaged boy’s wet dream. Who cannot chuckle at the scene of the Wolverines peeing into the busted radiator of Patrick Swayze’s pickup truck? Or the newbie forced to drink a cup of blood after killing a deer? Or how a group of high school kids, even if they have grown up in a gun and hunting culture, defeating highly trained Commie troops? Or the January-December romance of Powers Boothe and Lea Thompson? Folks, it is comic gold. The fact that “Red Dawn” is viewed as a documentary by some of the louder chickenhawks in wingnuttia makes it even tastier.

    The roller derby of “Whip It” is a far cry from the banked track game of the late 1940s through the 1970s, which was the subject of the classic “Kansas City Bomber” starring Racquel Welch. Roller derby was a great spectacle for early television because all the action occurred in a confined space, like boxing and wrestling. The greatest star of the old-style roller derby was a blonde amazon named Joanie Weston, who was reported to receive scores of marriage proposals per week.

    The flat-track derby of “Whip It” is more of a club sport. We have several teams in Chicago including the Windy City Rollers, who play at the UIC Pavilion, the same place where the UIC Division 1 basketball team plays. The women who skate do it for the fun, the competition, the fellowship, etc. They put on a great show –none of the phony baloney fights from the old stuff– and work hard to entertain the fans.

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  15. Ann said on October 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Chicago would let a film crew blow up a building, too. Proof here

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  16. nancy said on October 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    That building looks like a parking garage.

    I like comparing it to the finished scene (which shows up in the “related” column on YouTube. Love the chopper circling for the wham-o.

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  17. Deb said on October 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Fort Wayne has its own girls roller derby team, the Derby Girls. I think they skate for charities. Also, the Sterns are featured every week on The Splendid Table with Lynn Rosetta Kasper on NPR, if you need a fix of Road Food.

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  18. coozledad said on October 7, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    For my money, the best movie where the good guys whip the invaders is Little Big Man. If you want tanks, Mosfilm’s “Liberation” shows to some extent what a horrific clusterfuck occurs when you pit colossal mechanized armies at rough parity against each other. It’s not graphic, but it’s enough to give you an idea.
    I can’t believe anyone could watch Red Dawn without thinking how the Russians were going to get all that equipment through Canada, and why would they do it anyway.
    I was taking a course in American military history at the time that movie came out, and the instructor walked into class one day and said the movie was horseshit, period, and he didn’t wan’t to hear the slightest reference to it, ever.

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  19. Jeff Borden said on October 7, 2009 at 3:39 pm


    You hit on one of the absurdities of “Red Dawn,” namely, why is this huge occupying force in a backwater Colorado town? The explanations throughout the film are beyond absurd. If I recall, the Powers Boothe character talks about flights of paratroopers “disguised” as charter flights. I’m no military strategist, but wouldn’t this mean hundreds of aircraft entering U.S. airspace simultaneously? I’m thinking the air traffic controllers would be going ape at all those airplanes converging over the nation. Then again, we did learn on 9/11 that there were only two jets patrolling our own air space and they were unarmed.

    The movie was the work of John Milius, who had written “Conan the Barbarian” and was (maybe still is) an outspoken conservative. He wove all the usual fears into the script including the use of Cuban and Nicaraguan troops as part of the invasion force. To say he has a grim view of human nature is putting it mildly. Remember the passage where Boothe tells the Wolverines not to complain about the canned beans they’re eating? In Denver, which has been surrounded by the Soviet forces, he intones somberly, people are turning to cannibalism to survive. And, of course, the first guy gunned down is the black teacher who goes out to see what those darned paratroopers are up to. Nice touch. The coddled, presumably liberal educator is murdered by those bastards!

    Interesting that the new version will have the Chinese as the villains since Boothe tells the guerilla kids that most of our allies have deserted us, but not the Chinese, though they have suffered something like 400 million killed in nuclear attacks. Maybe our allies will be the Russians in the new version, LOL?

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  20. nancy said on October 7, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Alan had never seen the movie, and when I sketched the plot for him this morning, that was his first question: “Why do they attack some little town in Colorado?”

    I see they’re still looking for extras here in Detroit; I just e-mailed my very thin resume (“Michigan resident w/ documentation, light in acting experience, average in every way”), along with a couple of pix. But! Now I see the formal call for extras says the occupying force is a mix of Chinese and Russian. Should I risk making a pest of myself to add that I govoryoo a little pa-Rooskie? I think, given my decidedly Eastern European figure and mean, beady eyes, I’d be a natural for the role of the lesbian prison-camp guard who tells Alyssa Diaz it’s time for her shower.

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  21. brian stouder said on October 7, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Now THERE’S a movie I’d pay full evening price to see, twice!

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  22. Sue said on October 7, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Why isn’t liberal Hollywood remaking Dr. Strangelove or The Russians are Coming…? I want to see Nancy in those. I really can see Nancy in “The Russians are Coming – to Detroit, Because They Didn’t Learn Anything in Afghanistan”. Get a hockey angle in there and the movie practically writes itself.

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  23. brian stouder said on October 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Well, damn! Now the wing-nut machine has to come to a grinding halt, and reprint all the crap they were gonna spew, if the CBO had said that the healthcare reform plan would increase the deficit

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 7, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    John Mil­ius, who was the model for Walter Sobchak. If you don’t know who that is, don’t worry about it. But it tells some people all they need to know.

    Did anyone see James Lileks’ clips from “Zero Hour!” in his Bleat yesterday? I had no idea that much of the . . . remake was taken verbatim from an earlier movie.

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  25. jeff borden said on October 7, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Jeff TMMO,

    The Dude abides.

    Jeff the Loud Mouthed One

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  26. Connie said on October 7, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Many years ago my husband interviewed for an extra job for a movie being filmed at an ancient prison still standing in Columbus. They asked him one question: would you be willing to shave your head? He said yes, they told him he was too young, and his budding movie career was over. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the movie, but Robert Redford played the warden. You movie nuts can tell me I am sure.

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  27. Jolene said on October 7, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Must have been Brubaker, Dorothy.

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  28. Jolene said on October 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Anyone here planning to enter WaPo’s pundit contest? I think you are a natural for this, Nancy.

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  29. Deborah said on October 7, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Connie, Are you talking about the movie “Brubaker”?

    oops, I see that in the time it took me to type this that Jolene had the same thought.

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  30. Diana said on October 7, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Just a minor detail about that building that asploded – the movie people actually built a new facade on it, and that was the part that got blown off. The building is still there. I saw them working on it a few weeks ago, and at the time, it looked like they were renovating it for something, y’know, real. Not so much. I also realized it was the same building that was dressed up to look like the hip-hop nightclub in “8 Mile.” May it live to see another movie!

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  31. Deborah said on October 7, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Leave it to the internet! To be able to get updated info in comments from Diana who was there… amazing.

    A few months ago we bought a subscription to Gourmet for my daughter, an avid cook. So do we just lose out on that? When they call it quits after she only got a few copies of the year’s subscription? Call me naive but shouldn’t they refund subscribers?

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  32. Connie said on October 7, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Yup, Brubaker.

    Deborah, your daughter should receive an offer to select an alternative magazine from a very short list to fill out the remainder of her sub.

    At the library I have seen more mags cease publication in the last two years than I had seen in the previous 20.

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  33. Dave said on October 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I knew a guy from Amanda, OH, who was a extra in Brubaker. I think that he was a prison guard and I remember picking him out in the movie, surprisingly enough.

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  34. coozledad said on October 7, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Make the video first, Then write the lyrics. Via Durban Bud:

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  35. brian stouder said on October 7, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Jolene – a very cool link! I read the rules until my eyes crossed, and then I entered the thing.

    I think everyone here should jump in there and take a swing. (the entry box counts your words, and dings you when you go over! Good stuff!)

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  36. crazycatlady said on October 8, 2009 at 2:10 am

    I love cooking magazines, but my tastes are simple. I enjoy magazine recipes. I subscribe to three: Taste of Home, Simple and Delicious and Food Network Magazine. I enjoy Cook (Illustrated) for it’s instructional techniques. But I am, and always will be a home cook. But a girl can dream Gourmet, can’t she?

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  37. basset said on October 8, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Mrs. Basset subscribes to Taste of Home and Cook’s… there are some very useful videos on the Cook’s website.

    totally unrelated but I just wanted to share: I do some tutoring at the local community college, mostly with foreign-born students whose English skills are limited, but occasionally I get a native kid from the hood. was helping one of them last night with her essay on a “random act of kindness.”

    I had never seen “lotion up” or “throw me on the bed just the way I like it” in a student assignment before.

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  38. ROgirl said on October 8, 2009 at 8:25 am has recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit, also some good links to other cooking sites.

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  39. Connie said on October 8, 2009 at 8:58 am

    The thing I will miss about Gourmet, is that is the only mag available at my hair salon that is not about hairstyles or celebrity gossip.

    I highly recommend every one of Ruth Reichl’s wonderful books, read them in order. Her early days at a “hippie” restaurant in Berkeley are great story.

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  40. Montag said on October 12, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Red Dawn was one thing before the Iraq War. After the insurrection started, it was a different film: insurgents fighting against foreign troops, Partrick Swayze dressed like a desert bedouin riding a horse…

    It was eerie and uncanny how a bit of our patriotic B movies became real, and we were the bad guys all of a sudden.

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