A motorist pulled up next to me while I was riding my bike the other day to say she found me “difficult to see.” I was wearing a black top and beige shorts — monochrome, c’est moi — and I could see her point. So yesterday I put on a pink top and headed out to Target for some exercise gear in colors to induce eyeball hemorrhage.

My local Target is in a mall that is becoming increasingly racially segregated, and I’m not the race it’s selecting for. That means the local Macy’s has a men’s millinery department, but it can be difficult to find a jean skirt for Kate that doesn’t say BABY PHAT across the butt. However, it has a Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears and Target, so we spend a good deal of cash there.

I quickly identified the bright-eyes tops and snagged two, one of which makes my complexion look like I’m in the last stages of a terrible liver disease, but this isn’t intended to flatter. I wandered over toward the skin emollients and was drawn into the orbit of a woman in the uniform of the U.S. Postal Service, having a very loud conversation on her Bluetooth:

“Well, that’s some BULLshit, then, because we’re getting three GPS errors a block on that system. …uh huh…uh huh…I’m telling you, until you get out there, you don’t know what I’m talking about, but it’s the truth.” Her tone was decisive edging into belligerence; who in the world was she talking to? Surely not her boss. A union rep? A colleague?

“You don’t know that because you never been a clerk. I’ve been a clerk! I know what it’s like!”

Whoever was on the other end had better be listening, because I believed every word she said. Eavesdropping is one of my favorite things to do, and I recommend it to anyone who aspires to put words in another’s mouth. Of course, no one eavesdrops like Lance Mannion. Read and imitate.

And that’s pretty much all I did yesterday, other than writewritewrite. I don’t like to self-pimp, but here’s something I wrote yesterday, for the other site I run, on a topic that increasingly interests me these days — what is to become of our public institutions as public money falls short of sustaining them. The solution reached in Grosse Pointe schools isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty big step forward, at a time when many municipalities and school districts around here are still wringing their hands. In the Pointes, many are still fighting over tax increases that translate to lower tax bills, i.e., raise the millage while property values are falling, which means a lower tax bill, but not quite as much as if rates were left alone. Some of the rhetoric is ugly, and suggests some won’t be happy until every employee who draws a paycheck from the public is living on bread and water. Anyway, what I mainly want to do is pimp a really good “This American Life” episode we listened to en route home from Canada, “Social Contract,” which was sort of the inspiration for my column.

And which leads us into the bloggage:

Elena Kagan, funny lady: Where were you on Christmas day, Ms. Kagan? “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”

I swear I saw a classified ad once for three pairs of men’s underwear, “like new.” I was not surprised to find u-trou on a list of 20 things you should never buy used, but on the other hand, do you have to tell people this? And who in their right mind buys used makeup?

Rod Blagojevich hates Carol Marin.

Finally, the miracle man, Mark Bittman, does it again — following last summer’s hugely popular 101 salads feature, here’s 101 foods to grill. With delicious-looking pictures. I know what I’m doing for the rest of the summer.

Posted at 10:53 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

67 responses to “Eye-catching.”

  1. Sue said on June 30, 2010 at 11:04 am

    ‘some won’t be happy until every employee who draws a pay­check from the pub­lic is liv­ing on bread and water.’
    No, until the employee pays the taxpayer for the privilege of working for them. Unless the taxpayer hears about a job opening, that is, then all bets are off.
    In my municipality we had people applying for a DPW job two days after the employee was murdered – they saw it in the paper and wanted to be first in line to join the ranks of those lazy useless overpaid workers.

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  2. LAMary said on June 30, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I’ve given my used crib and car seat to someone who needed it. I know they weren’t unsafe. I also have bought a used vacuum and a used wetsuit (when the ex fancied himself a surfer) and never had any problems. Maybe I’m just a cheapskate. The old git across the street from me buys everything used, including shoes and underwear.
    On another note, that driver did you a favor telling you about your visibility. The street lighting in lots of neighborhoods here is terrible and I’m frequently surprised by some barely visible cyclist or jogger at night, dressed in dark colors with no lights or reflective material.

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  3. MRMARK said on June 30, 2010 at 11:20 am

    How about this ‘eye-catching’ photo of Sunflower Row.

    Its HOT and its Summer down here in Georgia. Heading back to Fort Wayne next week to see family.

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  4. 4dbirds said on June 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I was in Target on Sunday, standing at the Starbucks when a couple in their fifties walked past me. I caught this little snippet that left me wanting so much more. “Remember dad’s wedding, the one before this last one.” So there have been at least three, right?

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  5. Dorothy said on June 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

    My sunflower row is going to be spectacular. I’ll post a picture after they all open. I have them out front so the trucks and cars flying up and down our country road will see them and perhaps slow down to (a) peruse the pretty flowers or (b) avoid hitting the kitties who play around the road edge from the home nearest ours.

    I donate hats to Goodwill; not the fancy kind but the knitted or crocheted kind. In other words the kind you can launder. I agree about the shoes thing, though. I’ve had to wear some shoes from Goodwill for a stage show once in awhile and they were awful enough to almost distract me from remembering my lines.

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  6. John said on June 30, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Just a note, I’ve been off the grid for a couple weeks now. I was having heart problems again and was concerned about the state of the stent I got in April. So, went in for another angiogram (cardiac catherization) and discovered the April stent was blocked on both ends (the middle looked like crap too). So, another trip to Yale-New Haven ensued. I had a triple bypass a week ago last Monday and got sprung last Saturday. Recovery at home is going slowly, but I feel much better. It’s been unbearably hot here so I spend most days down in the basement watching TV. (Who wouldn’t want Elana Kegan as a dinner/party guest?) Doc said the heart was in great shape, pumping plenty of blood now that it has 3 big pipes to feed itself. I am taking off the summer at least, but hope by Labor Day this is but a distance memory.

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  7. nancy said on June 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Safe recovery, cuz. Remember depression is an extremely common side effect of heart surgery, and will pass. Courage.

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  8. Snarkworth said on June 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    John, we had the same observation about Elena Kagan in our household. She’d add to the fun. Sen. Sessions, on the other hand, would have to sit at the kids’ table.

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  9. moe99 said on June 30, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Someone said that Sessions reminded them of the Keebler elf. Only grumpy. I can agree with that.

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  10. S said on June 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I hate to de-lurk with a terrible confession, but … there is a whole Internet subculture of women who swap makeup, new and used. Go to makeupalley.com and you will find a huge message board dedicated to this very purpose. (You will also find some helpful reviews of cosmetics; that’s why I go there, truly).

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  11. nancy said on June 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Why, that’s a …TERRIBLE confession.

    Actually, thanks for the delurk. I’d swap new, unopened makeup, but not the used stuff. And I’d appreciate actual consumer reviews of products over the bought-and-paid-for beauty-magazine swill. But makeup really does get germy, and anything that goes that close to my eyes is probably worth paying full retail for.

    The last eye pencil I bought has a small notation on the side: 6M. I bet that’s a recommendation of how long you should keep it.

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  12. Rana said on June 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    John, I hope you heal up soon. fwiw, my dad found sleeping in a LazyBoy was the best thing after his bypass surgery.

    Nancy – you might also look into one of these for the visibility. It’s surprisingly comfy and can go over things like rain jackets and windbreakers, plus there’s a handy pocket for stuff.

    I basically agree with the don’t-buy list, with two exceptions: the camera lenses and the vacuum cleaners. In both cases, if you know what you’re doing, or if you’re buying it from someone who is experienced in refurbishing, used is perfectly fine. Especially with regards to the lenses – the nit-picky expert likely to be bothered by a less-than-perfect lens is usually a person capable of identifying a crap lens. Especially in this age of digital, it’s not that hard to do a test and preview the images before buying.

    Edited to add –

    I can see the appeal of selling used make-up. Unless you go to a place like Sepphora, where you can pretest, buying most make-up is an exercise in faith. Usually you’re stuck with the product after you take it home and discover that the lovely pink on the label looks nasty on one’s person. You can’t return it, you can’t use it, it was expensive, so…

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I really liked “The financial firestorm sweeping Lansing has reached the barn where the sacred cows are kept, and that includes school funding.” That will have to be stolen at some point. Albeit with the name Columbus inserted.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on June 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    John, glad to know you’re doing better and I hope it continues. Wear the hateful pressure stockings and do all the physical movement you can. You sound like you’re in a lot better shape than my sis was afterwards, if you’re doing stairs.

    Yes, Kagan kept her humanity, but what a row of old white men she faced. It brought to mind again how out of touch they are with our country.

    Sunflowers always remind me of my late FIL who planted row after row every year, just for the pleasure of seeing them. I had lousy germination this year and have only one growing. So, for Dorothy and other gardeners, is there a seed company you favor?

    I harvested three more cherry tomatoes and a handful of green beans, and I’m headed back out to enjoy the pleasure of working in a garden at only 70 degrees and 38% humidity. For the second day in a row, alleluia.

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  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    . . . by the way, y’all did know that Bob Bradley is an OU alum? Somebody get the Bobcats some green vuvuzelas!

    And huzzah for Ghana; I think we’re only right & proper to root for the Black Stars to the finals.

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  16. Sue said on June 30, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Sunflower growers and garden putterers, if you don’t know about this, you should:

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  17. moe99 said on June 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    I thought this was an interesting take on finance:


    Plus this was in the comments:

    Bruce Sterling:

    Large financial centers in certain cities around the planet are certainly going to kill millions of us by destroying our social safety networks in the name of their imaginary financial efficiency. You’re a thousand times more likely to die because of what some urban banker did in 2008 than from what some Afghan-based terrorist did in 2001. Financiers live in small, panicky urban cloisters, severely detached from the rest of mankind. They are living today in rich-guy ghetto cults. They are truly dangerous to our well-being, and they are getting worse and more extremist, not better and more reasonable. You’re not gonna realize this havoc till you see your elderly Mom coughing in an emergency ward, but she’s going there for a reason.


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  18. nancy said on June 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Jeff, you are hereby granted one-time license to steal that line, without attribution.

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  19. Rana said on June 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Julie, I’m really fond of http://www.seedsofchange.com

    I’ve never had bad luck with anything I’ve bought from them, if the planting conditions were appropriate. They have lots of interesting heirloom plants, too.

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  20. Jeff Borden said on June 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Wonkette is sponsoring a contest that many, if not most, NN.C denizens will enjoy. They’re dubbing it the Wonkette’s Weeping Eagle award and they are looking for nominations of politicians, political operatives, media members, pundits, business executives, etc. who have demonstrated douchebaggery of the highest order.

    There are so many worthy candidates. . .maybe the cracker from South Carolina who referred to the GOP gubernatorial candidate as a “raghead,” or perhaps the dirt-eating shitheel in Arizona who spearheaded SB 1070, or maybe Sharron Angle, the Nevada senatorial candidate who recently said a woman who conceived after a rape should be denied an abortion because it was “God’s will,” or maybe a group award for the pinheads on “Faux and Friends?”

    The possibilities are endless. It’s easy to register for comments at Wonkette and many of the suggestions are sidesplitters.

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  21. Sherri said on June 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Carol Marin has experience interviewing slimy governors who have the FBI on their tails: before Chicago, she was a news anchor in Nashville where she once did a memorable interview with Gov. Ray Blanton, who was being investigated by the FBI for selling pardons (and was convicted and served time.) I’m sure Blanton hated her the most, too.

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  22. mark said on June 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I really enjoyed your piece on the school budget difficulties and proposed solution. You explained a fairly complicated concept in a clear fashion with few words. Nicely done.

    It’s a shame the federal government isn’t being as creative.

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  23. Dexter said on June 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I always get raised eyebrows and “OH NO” when I tell how I bought a dead man’s underwear at a garage sale. I always pause before “splainin’ that the wife had just stocked up on Jockey brand’s finest briefs before the old gent keeled over dead…the underwear were new, packaged. I have no idea why she didn’t take them back to the store for a full refund instead of selling them at a garage sale for a buck a pack.

    Just a couple weeks ago I wanted a few shirts for lawn mowing and touch-up painting so I went to a Goodwill and it was 2 for 1 day. I bought a couple shirts that were perfect and looked brand new…a buck a piece.

    My daughter and wife keep me in nice new clothes, birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas…and were mortified when I came in from Goodwill with two shirts.
    But, I ain’t proud.

    I always wear a reflective vest when cycling. It’s just a nylon reflective thing that slips over any shirt easily. Second hand store…very “new”…50 cents. 🙂

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  24. LAMary said on June 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Two makeup tips: on the expensive-ish side, Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. Much lighter than foundation and the oil free one is great in the summer.
    On the cheap side, from Target, Bootes #7 eye shadow. 5.99 each. I find most cheap eyeshadow pretty thin on the pigmentation, but Bootes is as good as any pricey stuff. Bootes lotions and shower gels are great too. The lemon/orange shower gel is great.

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  25. Dorothy said on June 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Rana the name ALONE on that thing would be worth the price – Amphipod Xinglet. It would be a valuable addition to any biker’s accessory closet.

    John I’m glad you are feeling better after a new surgery to right things. I worked for a woman at Consol Energy who had to have two bypass surgeries a year apart and I can’t imagine having your chest cracked twice and then having to go through the recovery all over again! I hope you continue to feel well.

    Julie I don’t recall the brand of seeds I used. I don’t think they were Burpee but I can check (the seed envelopes are on my gardening table in the garage) We got all our seeds at a a local nursery called Glass Gardens. They were on sale buy 3, get 1 free back in April. We spent $85 on seeds this year. Here’s a shot of some sunflowers that I did NOT plant last year. The sunflower seed bird feeder was above this spot and the birds helped out by dropping a bunch of seeds:


    Sue thank you for that website about the sunflowers and the pollinating bees. Have I mentioned that my husband wants to become a beekeeper? There’s a club/group here in town and he’s been to a couple meetings. Not this year but next he’s going to get a hive to help with pollination in our garden and all the flowers we have planted. This year’s big project is our retaining wall and the brick walkway and patio we’re doing ourselves. We hope to get most of the bricks laid this weekend if he can rent the compactor to compress the gravel and sand mixture that we’ll be spreading tonight and tomorrow.

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  26. coozledad said on June 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I was shopping at a store the other day that specializes in tools made by Chinese prisoners. For my punishment, I got in line behind two different customers who were returning broken items. The cashier was a young, heavy set woman rocking the “Country Goth” look. The guy directly in front of me decided that since the previous customer had been combative, and had gotten his money back, he’d use similar tactics. Error.
    She asked “Name please?”
    “Lewis. L-E-W-I-S.”
    “First name?”
    “Your name is Lewis Lewis?”
    I took this as a sign I should go look for more stuff and come back to the register later when I wasn’t pissing myself.

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  27. Angie said on June 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    That amphipod is definitely eye-catching, but it reminds me of Borat’s swimsuit.

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  28. paddyo' said on June 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    A sunflowery cornucopia of stuff here today, everybody. Fine reading throughout, and it ain’t even noon here in the Forgotten Time Zone . . .

    Jeff TMMO @ 13 beat me to complimenting “financial firestorm . . . has reached the barn where the sacred cows are kept,” but I won’t request one-time user rights. I’ll just savor it and say, you’re free to self-pimp anytime, Nance, when you toss in word-gems like that one.

    Eavesdropping is a fine practice, when used in moderation and when not, well, pimped into excess. There’s a local three-dot-item columnist hereabouts who concludes with an “OVERHEARD” item each day. A few of us cynical present-and-former journos have wondered how many were truly “overheard” and how many were written and then read aloud by one or another of said writer’s pals.

    That said, I employed the technique (actually overheard!) on occasion for more than one news feature on this or that over the years, and I think with decent results. Mannion’s waiting-room piece, however, is in a league — hell, on a planet — all of its own. Nice.

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  29. Rana said on June 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I have to agree, the amphipod is both hilariously named and silly-looking in the picture. But, hey. It’s comfy and keeps me from being whacked by cars. Given that the rest of my running gear includes ratty t-shirts, cheapo shorts, bandanas, and shoes with toes, I am obviously not all that concerned by my appearance while exercising.

    (Indeed, a slightly disturbing appearance has the additional bonus of fending off the comments of the skeevy dude who likes to proposition any women who have the misfortune to run past his perch on his peeling front stoop.)

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  30. coozledad said on June 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    That Amphipod looks a little breezy to me. But at least it gives you more options for key storage.

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  31. 4dbirds said on June 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Wishing you a speedy recovery John. As a ginger and having sparse, light brows I cannot rave enough about Brow Tech from Smashbox cosmetics. Expensive but it lasts a long time.

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  32. Julie Robinson said on June 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Rana, the Seeds of Change site looks like a great place for info as well as buying seeds. The prices didn’t strike me as much higher than what I paid for Burpee this year. I also have been learning from Urban Garden Casual and Cheap Vegetable Gardener.

    Since I’m a big cheapskate I often buy at secondhand stores but I too draw the line at shoes, socks and underwear. When our daughter was home we went to the Goodwill over on the rich side of town and found beautiful and professional clothing for her hospital chaplaincy internship. I think she spent about $25 total.

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  33. coozledad said on June 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Rana: These kids find some interesting seeds, too. They also have similarly high standards for their seedstocks.

    If you’re interested in the looking at the widest possible selection of heirloom vegetables,There’s also Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Sand Hill Preservation Center.

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  34. Rana said on June 30, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks, cooz! Those are good to know about. When I can match company and growing region, it’s a blessing. I love Territorial Seed, for example – my mother, a Master Gardener, raves about them – but trying to get species that are great in the PNW to grow well in the Midwest is often an exercise in futility. Some day I hope we’ll stay in one place long enough that I can start saving seeds from the plants that do particularly well, and breed our own locally-tailored variants.

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  35. Dorothy said on June 30, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Cooz – I got to shop at Baker Creek Seed Company in May when I was in Missouri. It was certainly out of the way – good thing I had my GPS with me. http://www.flickr.com/photos/truvy57/4658006100/in/set-72157624052495417/

    I already had that trip planned – the Laura Ingalls Wilder one I had referenced awhile back. My husband sent away for the catalog to Baker Creek and when it came we were surprised to see it was in Mansfield, MO – where I was headed anyway. So I went and shopped for some interesting seeds, which we’re going to plant next year. (This year’s garden was already planted when I left on my trip).

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  36. Julie Robinson said on June 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks to everyone for seed sites, I will be spending time looking at all of them. For years I have just bought the cheapest seeds or plants, mostly flowers, thrown them in the soil and hoped for the best. But last year I found new joy in growing veggies. One thing, though: I’m kicking myself for not having a deeper interest earlier in my life when my dad and FIL were still alive. They were both incredible gardeners and it saddens me to think I didn’t develop that special bond with them.

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  37. judybusy said on June 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Here’s another great source for sunflowers, and a really great organization to boot!

    I have bought used shoes at a nice consignment shop. They are still one of my all-time favorite pairs–just Steve Madden Mary Janes with a bit of a heel. I still wear them five years on! On the same trip, I got a pair of Banana Republic pants that get a lot of wear in the summer. I try to take care of stuff so it lasts forever, practically.

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  38. brian stouder said on June 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Let me second (or third or fourth) the motion on Nance’s GP Today piece; excellent, clear-eyed, informative stuff. And, not for nothing, but I also liked the Proprietress’s photo there, which was (in keeping with today’s title) altogether eye-catching.

    edit: And here’s wishing strength to John

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  39. velvet goldmine said on June 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Rana, it is a little known fact that you CAN return used makeup to major chain drugstores. At least, that’s according to those “useful” tips sidebars. I see this one every year or so; I must admit I’ve never tried it myself. Bring the receipt and don’t try it if you’ve gone through half the bottle before deciding it isn’t your shade.

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  40. Sue said on June 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Nancy, a question for you. You write in your GP piece: ‘A complicated formula links salaries and benefits – the major cost of running any school system – to the district’s income and its biggest liquid asset, its fund equity, the rainy-day cash on hand. If the district prospers, the teachers will, too. If it doesn’t, and it probably won’t, for at least a few more years, the teachers could see pay cuts.’
    Ok, fine, but when all this was being discussed did anyone mention that the benefits most union members enjoy usually came about at the expense of higher pay? In other words, union members who get such excellent health care do so because in the past it was part of a negotiation when health care was actually a cheap thing to offer in exchange for no raise or a lower raise.
    So, if excellent benefits for teachers and municipal employees have been savaged for years as an example of greed, complacency and a stubborn refusal to face economic realities, what guarantees are teachers being given that the teachers will actually prosper when the district does? When it comes to anything funded by taxes, there’s never a “prosperous” time, even when there is, and linking teachers’ compensation to some future time of prosperity just means people will forget what teachers give now and attack them for ‘taking’ later.
    I’m sure this was all discussed as they were hashing it out, but I would like to know how secure this link is expected to be, long term.

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  41. Bob (Not Greene) said on June 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Sue, I don’t know where you live, but in suburban Cook County teachers make a fine living from both salaries and benefits. I just wrote a story about one of the local high school districts, whose board just approved a new five-year contract with its teachers. A first-year teacher with a B.A. makes $51,185. Factoring in raises in base pay and step raises (that’s the raise no one ever mentions) that teacher in five years will be making more than $60,000. Salaries escalate quickly if a teacher gets an M.A. If that teacher gets an M.A. in the fourth year, the fifth-year salary would be in excess of $70,000. Interestingly, this contract does tie base salary raises to district revenues based on a formula I won’t bore you with. But the step raises and salary columns for those with advanced degrees and continuing education credits remain. It’s no wonder that more than 100 teachers employed in the district made in excess of $100,000 in 2009. I’m not begrudging them their money (well maybe a little), but there isn’t a teacher in the area who can say they’re underpaid. Those days, at least around here, are long gone. Teachers are, in fact, handsomely paid. And it’s simply unsustainable in a shrinking economy.

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  42. nancy said on June 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I can echo not-Bob too, Sue. In fact, our teachers are the best-paid — not among the best, the very best — in the state. The old step system pushed them to $86K in 11 years (if they bothered to get a master’s, I believe), and that’s before you throw in extras like coaching and department-head bumps. And until the new contract, the district picked up 100 percent of their health care; all they had to carry were the usual co-pays, etc.

    All of which made them a target, for sure. There are those who would like to force them to accept a pay cut, plus a health-care share, plus 20 lashes by random taxpayers. The thing I like about this contract is how “third way” it is. It offers retirement incentives for those at the top, adds steps to slow the rise to the top, and gives most of them a very small raise (around 1 percent). And when the new system kicks in, unless Michigan is found to be sitting on Saudi-like oil reserves, they’re going to give it back, most likely. But this way, everyone saves face. Everyone accepts the new reality. The district’s finances are very transparent, and while I’m sure there’s a potential for shenanigans, it’ll be hard to pull off. In the meantime, there should be peace in the valley for a good long while, and that has to be worth something.

    The other thing is, our teachers are good. There are clunkers in every bunch, but of the ones Kate has had so far, most were at the very least competent, many were very good and a few were gifted. Compare that to my nephew’s experience in suburban Columbus, and it’s practically a miracle. I think it’s important they understand the old ways aren’t sustainable, but no one’s punishing them out of malice.

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  43. MichaelG said on June 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Been in Monterey for work the last couple of days. Wonderful place and wonderful weather.

    Easy on us old white men.

    Some years ago we bought a beautiful used crib for when my daughter visited with the grandchild. It was a beautiful, very expensive crib. We got it for next to nothing because there was a plastic part that had broken. I took the crib outside, disassembled it and thoroughly cleaned it even though it appeared immaculate. Of course, we bought new bedding. I got a new plastic part from the manufacturer in a matter of a couple of days for five or six bucks via the internet.

    Gotta go for Brazil in the Cup. Too many friends and old associations with Brazil.

    Herb Caen, the greatest three dot columnist of them all was always posting “overheards”. One of his funniest gigs was “Overheard in Marin” which skewered the folks in Marin County.

    I loved that young mother in Lance’s post. I might have mentioned this once before. One day I was in Safeway and came around the corner into the paper goods aisle. The toilet paper section had been picked over and there was some empty shelf space. A young mother had her year or two old kid on the shelf and was walling him in with toilet paper packages. The two of them were laughing absolutely fit to bust. It was a beautiful, intimate moment and I turned around and tip-toed out of there so as not to intrude.

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  44. prospero said on June 30, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Why do women wear makeup at all?

    Jeff Sessions wanted to be a judge. He wanted to be a judge so badly he could taste it. He couldn’t be a judge because when you get right down to it, he is a 19th century racist. Back in 1985, Sessions was a prosecutor, and he went off on three voter registration activists over 14 votes he claimed were fraudulent. That’s 14 votes. Later, apparently, he thought hijacking the Florida recount and anointing a pointy-headed nitwit was consistent with Original Intent. Sessions is Lester Maddox weithout the sense of humor.

    The way Senate SC hearings work, the parties seem to pick a pointman. What the hell are GOPers thinking settling on this bitter old fuck? And voter fraud? Gross Oil Polluters can beat this dead horse all they want. It simply does not exist. They say a few phony registrations by canvassers paid hourly by Acorn. I say, Acorn weeded out every one of them and self-reported. In the last ten years, there have been fewer than 20 cases of voter fraud prosecuted successfully. Voter fraud is actually less likely to occur than lightning striking a person other than Lee Trevino.

    In the general context of Session’s public career, it’s not hard to get to what’s really behind Republican weird obsession with voter fraud and their heebie-jeebies about the census. They do not want black folks voting if they can do anything about it. I mean, can you say screwing with polling spots in Volusia County?

    These aholes do not believe in anything resembling democratic ideals. And they deploy moron thugs like Sessions (kinda funny, actually, because this little wuss takes genteel to dainty).

    Of course, the other prong for the GOP was to make out that Thurgood Marshall was an activist judge. Seriously? About what? Jim
    Crow? You wanna go that way? And Roberts and Scalia and Clarence Thomas haven’t ignored Original Intent on the subject of guns, and they didn’t appoint a fucking unmitigated and undeniable draft dodger President? Seriously, you morons, that conditional introductory phrase regarding the militia, they didn’t really mean that part? And stopping the Florida recount is assuredly the most despicable POS judicial behavior in American history, and it was absolutely, purely partisan.

    Their supporters get slugged in the gut same as the rest of us. How do Republican tax and spenders on unfunded invasions and occupations convince their cannon fodder they’re in a big tent? One of life’s great mysteries. Like how Scalia and Roberts aren’t activists. Or how anybody smart enough to breathe actually buys any of this shit.

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  45. LAMary said on June 30, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    “Why do women wear makeup at all?”

    Because we can.

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  46. prospero said on June 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I used to sub teach. I loved it. I could pretty much do anything I felt like, but I was always true to lesson plans if they didn’t involve worksheets and wordfinds. I had a reputation with the school administrators for taking classes that normally ate subs alive and not needing help.

    There are poor excuses for public school teachers, but there are very few of them. Teacher pay is something people can actually live with, if they love the job, but I bet there are places you make more trying to get lattes right. On the other hand, it’s a difficult and crucial job, and should be paid three, four, five times as much.

    Americans always bring up athletes and entertainers. How ’bout them CEOs? They get fired and paid multiple $millions for running companies into the ground, and these days, get to run for office in California. Is there a teacher in the US that writes lesson plans and goes to work everyday that doesn’t deserve more cash than Meg Whitman? No. She’s one of those austerity folks that doesn’t think laying off teachers matters. I imagine she went to some Prep School that specializes in producing twats that can fail at running companies and extract $millions when they get fired. And leave it to private schools to raise racist sexist pigs.

    I’m pretty sure Meg Whitman would like to help Grover put public education in a small enough bag they could drown it. Then we’d have Griff and Will endlessly trashing companies and taking the parachutes and the zero-sum tax breaks, just like mom and their classmates at Cholmondely Prep.

    It’s not a stretch to see that the modern Gross Oleageanous Plutos rely on stupidity from their base. These people pay for the rich people tax cuts and believe beyond comprehension that their own taxes have been cut. Don’t they needed a continuing supply of morons to perpetuate this scam. Oh, I know. Fuck up public schools.

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  47. beb said on June 30, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Due to a silly arrange with my employer, the city of Detroit, I had to take most of today off or lose the hours of comp-time I’d earned during the past year. The city could have let me roll-over my comp-time for the new fiscal year , or paid me for the time left on my bank. But no…. they would rather insist that workers take time off from work before paying them. This seems to be the conundrum behind so many owners v workers relationship issues. Owners/managers would rather spend $10 is it will deprive workers of $5. The concept of paying people a “fair” wage or even a “living” wage is beyond them.

    LAMary wrote: “The street light­ing in lots of neigh­bor­hoods here is ter­ri­ble and I’m fre­quently sur­prised by some barely vis­i­ble cyclist or jog­ger at night, dressed in dark col­ors with no lights or reflec­tive mate­r­ial.”

    A big “amen” to that. Here in Detroit often the only way to tell if someone is crossing the street is their white tennies. Now admittedly my winter coats are dark colored, too, but it might help if people at least crossed streets at crosswalks instead of any ol’ place like they do now.

    Many years ago when my grandfather was still alive the family got him a winter jacket with the triangular slow-moving-vehicle stitched to its back. He thought it was pretty funny, but also very practical.

    Sunflowers don’t do well with us – the squirrels bit off the flowers as so as they begin to seed.

    If Kagen’s line about spending Christmas at a Chinese restaurant was impromptu, sign her up for Comedy Central. I wonder, of course, where Sessions spends his Christmas.

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  48. prospero said on June 30, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Oh. And have any of y’all read a David Foster Wallace novel? I’ve read the first and the Great One. I liked them, but I don’t get it. He’s not good like Wallace Stegner, because Tom McGuane nailed that down and added an uproarious sense of humor to the letterperfect dustbowl Woody prose.

    OK. He sure as shit can’t touch TC Boyle for gotcha plots and teeming vocabulary. Or Tom Robbins for being flatout hilarious and outrageous. Or Peter Matthiesson’s perfect style and certitude.

    Seems like he’s trying for Thomas Pynchon, but he falls short of Benny Profane, much less the Khyrgyz Lights. Gabriel Garcia Marquez isn’t a comparison to consider. That’s one-off incomparable genius like Tolkien and CS Lewis,

    Tom McGuane got more done in 250 pp. at a time. Panama for instance, as did Kurt Vonnegut. The latter may have nailed the political 20th and 21st Century state of politics in The Euphio Effect and Harrison Bergeron than anybody that wrote anything else over the last five of six decades, and not only was he succinct, he undertood that in the long run, love may fail, but courtesy will prevail.

    So David Foster Wallace, maybe shoulda been just Dave,
    is a good and very entertaining writer that killed hisself. Why does he have acolytes?

    Did a fine writer succumb to some idea of producing an ultimate novel. Fool’s errand. My opinion, that would be V, but every single reader has a different opinion, and I’m just starting 2666, and The Savage Detectives is ridiculously good. Too bad he never got to try a book as an actual adult. It would have been exceptional.

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  49. prospero said on June 30, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I’d imagine Beauregard Sessions goes to a whites-only men’s club for Christmas. Those are people he’s attracted to, and it hasn’t dawned on Jeff that the Savior believed in fair distribution of wealth and rights guaranteed for human beings.

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  50. Kirk said on June 30, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Not to mention that the Savior wasn’t white, despite all those pictures in Bibles.

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  51. coozledad said on June 30, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    “92 In The Shade” struck me as really promising work, but the only McGuane I’ve read since is periodic articles on fly fishing. Then again, I thought “The Centaur” was better than Updike’s Rabbit novels.
    I didn’t even know there was a film of 92 In the Shade with McGuane directing. Warren Oates. Harry Dean Stanton. Damn.

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  52. nancy said on June 30, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    You missed nothing, Cooz. It sucked.

    If you want to read some good McGuane, I was very fond of “Nothing but Blue Skies” about 15-20 years ago. He’s disappointed me since. Jim Harrison is my go-to ’60s-era literary wunderkind, these days.

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  53. coozledad said on June 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks for the tip. It must have been like those “supergroups” they formed out of the Cambridge set in the 70’s. Sheer unlistenability.

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  54. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 30, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Prospero, I will be very interested in your opinion of “2666.” I have an assortment of opinions, all based on my blood sugar and serotonin levels. Not sure which one to trust . . . the number of Bud Lite Limes may have something to do with it, too.

    And I still need to look at “Antwerp,” which I read is much (muy) shorter, and Bolano apparently thought was his best work.

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  55. Sue said on June 30, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I agree that most teachers make decent to good salaries. My point is that when times are good the first thing anyone will say – the first thing – is “why are those teachers stepping up to the trough? Why shouldn’t this money be invested back into our schools, sent back to taxpayers, etc. etc.? WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?” And whoever has by that time succeeded the elected people who put this into place will usually say, “Yeah, why?”.
    That was my question. What’s protecting the link between salaries/benefits and fund equity that’s supposed to reward employees when times are good?
    It’s not unheard of in my community for people to vote against school referendums because they’ve noticed too many ‘nice’ cars in the teacher parking area. No way no how are they going to support that kind of high living. That’s the ingrained mindset I’m thinking about when I ask my question.

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  56. prospero said on June 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Disappointed you, Nancy? Ninety-two in the Shade is about as good as anybody can write. I also think the whole bat-tower and Blappeople coleslaw bidness in Bushwhacked Piano is something I’d be proud to have made up. Nobody’s Angel is better than the Coens, and they should make it into a movie, but they’re years late because that’s a Jeff Bridges part, and who’d play it now?

    I’d say Tom McGuane might be America’s version of Martin Amis, and it makes me happy to be Murrican. Both guys, their mediocre books are mighty damn better than whatever sells well. McGuane’s not a flaming asshole friend of Hitchens, and he’s the absolute opposite if anything anybody could call effete. He might smoke cigarettes, but if he does, he rolls ’em, not buy’s Gauloises at the shop. You see, I like books by both these guys. But, I’m an American jock. We’re supposed to be dense. We placed out of every English but choosing Joyce and Yeats. We wrote brilliant papers about both guys, because we love them both. Dumb jocks. You never know.

    I don’t think McGuane actually tries anymore, but this sumbitch wrote more good books in a short time than anybody but Walter Mosely and James Lee Burke. If the guy just decided he likes to fish and ride horses, he’s already written a bunch of spectacularly good books. What would you say? Richard Brautigan? Jesus, I think not.

    Whaddaya think Nancy? Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler? To me this is obvious. And I think you have the finest blog on the net. And you write beautifully, and with attitude, skill and taste. But if you answer that question incorrectly, well that would be like my brother taking Wilt over Russ. One of those guys cranked procedurals. The other had existentialism more perfectly than and poseur.

    Bonus Question: What’s the best book by Don DeLillo? That would be Great Jones Street. Far and away.

    Jim Harrison? That’s Oprah-ready. He’s like that White Dog Terry Mitch Albom clone. These are atrocious writers.

    No joke. If you’re talking about detectives, if you don’t mean Walter Moseley, no clue. Seriously, Nancy, what detective you like? Don’t tell me it’s Bogey.

    I think people can write bonafide lit in socalled genres. I’d say that Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville, is a very fine novel.

    There actually weren’t any supergroups cooz. I mean. who?

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    • nancy said on June 30, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      The book was fine. The movie sucked. I think even the director, McGuane himself, would agree with me on that.

      But you are so, so wrong about Jim Harrison.

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  57. Deborah said on June 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I’ve been holed up at work all day and into the night. I had a pitch in the morning way out in the burbs so I was up at 3:30. Ugh. And then I was at work until 9 pm and didn’t even crack nn.c once. So I’ve missed a lot today. I love the book talk, so I’ll just add my 2 cents about David Foster Wallace. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this here before but he was my favorite author for quite awhile, still is, I like his novels and his essays both. I love the way he put words together, even in the footnotes. I also like Jim Harrison. It’s been ages since I read anything by McGuane. I never quite got into DeLillo, I’ve tried though. I have recently gotten into T.C. Boyle after hearing him lecture in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple about his novel concerning the women in Wright’s life. I read that and then a collection of his short stories which was wonderful. I’m a schizophrenic reader, I’m all over the map in what I like, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I guess I had more to say than just about DFW.

    Oh, and I’m a huge eavesdropper. It’s one of my favorite past times.

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  58. coozledad said on June 30, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Prospero: One measure of the musical tastes of my cohort is we regarded Henry Cow, The Art bears, Robert Wyatt and Soft Machine, and even Gong, as the shit. Whenever they interbred or cross fertilized they were going to sell at least fifty records to us. “Supergroup” I guess, just refers to people who beat off in similar ways. That music had its uses, though. Whenever I got tired of hearing my roommate plonking whoever he dragged home from the Opry House, all I had to do was put Dagmar Krause on the turntable, and perhaps spare another hapless cowgirl from the ravages of clap.
    EDIT: An illustration.

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  59. Deborah said on July 1, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Moe your comparison of Sessions with the Keebler elf reminded me of my thoughts about Barton when he apologized to BP. He looks strange, like a cartoon character. I think Coozledad compared him to a Dr. Seuss drawing, which is pretty good. At the time I thought maybe the Lucky Charms leprechaun or the Keebler elf but neither of those seemed right for Barton.

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  60. Dexter said on July 1, 2010 at 12:25 am

    coozledad 26: Louis Lewis was Richard Lewis’s cousin in an episode of “Curb…”, when the bit was that Richard Lewis needed a kidney and Louis Lewis was on death-watch after an accident.

    The new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is currently filming in New York City.

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  61. Denice B. said on July 1, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I overhear a lot of phone conversations in public. I often wonder if the bluetooth lady knows she’s practically yelling at the poor bastard on the other end of the line. Ah, The Mall. The one of which you speak is right there on Beaconsfield and just a mile or two from my house. Beaconsfield in Harper Woods is a notorious speed trap–so watch out! Beb got a ticket or three on that 25 MPH road…

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  62. prospero said on July 1, 2010 at 6:11 am

    How about Lawrence Norfolk, AS Byatt, and Susanna Clarke? Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell is spectacular, and Lemprierre’s Dictionary is even better. Peter Carey? Richard Powers? Steve Erickson? Ishmael Reed? Holy crap, Mark Helprin. If somebody’s written something better than Refiner’s Fire in the last 30 years, I missed it.

    OK, Jim Harrison isn’t completely hokey. But teetering on the Terry Kay cutesy line. No joke, y’all, Read The Sporting Club and The Bushwhacked Piano. Pretty close to perfect novels.

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  63. Linda said on July 1, 2010 at 6:11 am

    As a long running public employee, I just love all this talk about how P.E.’s are living high on the hog. For many, the ideal public employee is a kind, self-effacing genius with no material needs who really wants to work for $20,000 a year. I know well-intentioned people who really believe that crappy public salaries would weed out the greedy, and insure that only idealistic people (as opposed to hacks with no other options) would work in the public sector.

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  64. beb said on July 1, 2010 at 8:36 am

    One – one! ticket for speeding on Beaconsfield, a four lane street without street parking I might add. (Since repainted into a two lane road with a center left-hand turn lane.)

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  65. LAMary said on July 1, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Ishmael Reed was a visiting scholar at DU when I was there. I only spoke to him once and I was a lame 20 year old at the time so I didn’t ask any good questions. Interestingly, I think I was in a Tom McGuane phase at the time. He was up in Montana playing house with Elizabeth Ashley or something while I was reading one of his books which had the dedication “for Bec…,” his wife Rebecca I assume.
    I got hooked on Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 71. I had a class in art school with Raphael Ferrer, who dragged us around Philly to do things like create an art piece by altering the flow of a public fountain by using our bodies to block the spouts. I remember re-reading 100 Years of Solitude because I loved the magical parts so much.

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  66. Denice B. said on July 2, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Sorry, Beb. Love ya anyway.

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