Exit at the courtroom.

Another stifling weekend, although it didn’t start that way. The older I get, the more I feel like all my sweat glands are rerouting to my head. I shlepped my first load from the Eastern Market back to the car, and could almost feel my head turn into a sprinkler, pore by pore.

I’m sure this is yet another age-related horror, but for the time being I’m choosing to see it as a tribute to my thick hair.

Or it might have been the load, which was mostly blueberries and tart cherries, so that pie season may continue in spectacular fashion. I go to a particular stand for both, presided over by a man who’s a bit of a grump, but whose product is superior in every way. A woman walking by asked if she could try one of the tart cherries. He nodded, she popped one in her mouth, and commenced to squealing about how horrible it was, “so sour! How could anyone eat this?!” She was older and, you’d think, of the generation who might actually have baked a pie with her own housewifely hands and know the difference between eating cherries (sweet) and pie cherries (tart), but I guess not. Thank You brand pie filling has been around for a while. Thank you, Thank You, for doing your part to diminish our national supply of food knowledge.

Eh, who cares? More tart cherries for me, although today’s pie is blueberry. So rich in antioxidants, it’s practically a vitamin.

I haven’t written much about the Banksy business of late, mainly because I only recently learned who Banksy is (a real graffiti artist, as opposed to graffiti vandals), and whenever I come late to a story like this, I always fear I’m missing huge chunks of the background, but here goes:

Banksy did two pieces recently in Detroit, at our storied Packard Plant. The abandoned plant is usually called the city’s most notorious and certainly its biggest eyesore, at over three million decaying square feet. Our little gang of filmmakers has shot two shorts there, and it routinely turns up in the national press, perhaps most memorably when a bunch of hooligans pushed a truck out one of its windows and ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Anyway, Banksy stole in, did a couple paintings, and stole out, his usual m.o. Apparently, the way you find out about Banksy works is by watching his website, where he posts photographs of it in situ, with enough visual clues to tell you its location. Word was slowly getting around about one of them when the owners of a local gallery arrived with jackhammers and other heavy equipment, and physically removed the entire wall, taking its half-ton bulk back to the gallery, where it’s on public view. They said their concern was that the work be preserved, that sitting out in the lawless Packard site, it was only a matter of time before someone painted over it or otherwise defaced it. And since people have been stealing the plants in bits and pieces for years, it didn’t seem like much of a crime.

(Editorial aside from an admitted art moron: Isn’t that part of the point with graffiti? Its impermanence? Banksy is miles beyond your local bonehead taggers, but he still operates like one. There have probably been hundreds of Banksy pieces covered by building owners who didn’t like what he’d done to their property. I know he’s now famous and chic, but …whatever.)

The gallery owners say they never intended to sell it, just to preserve it, and so far, they’ve been true to their word.

Now comes a party with a lawsuit, claiming ownership and saying gimme back my Banksy. But here’s where it gets weird:

Bioresource Inc. sued 555 Nonprofit Studio and Gallery on Tuesday, asking a judge to force it to return a mural by famed graffiti artist Banksy that it removed from the plant. In the lawsuit, Bioresource Inc. claimed it owns the Packard Plant and that Romel Casab is the company’s president.

Casab has been rumored to be owner of the plant for years. But prior to the lawsuit, the only owner or agent of Bioresource on record was Dominic Cristini, who is in prison in California on Ecstasy charges.

Talk about OID! For years now, I’ve been driving guests past that place, struggling to answer the inevitable question, “Why doesn’t someone tear it down?” At first I assumed the plant, obviously abandoned and presumably in tax forfeiture, was owned by the city, which couldn’t afford to demolish it. (It would cost millions and millions.) I knew there had been until recently one business, Bioresource, operating out of a small part of it, and I once saw Casab referred to as its owner, but I didn’t know until now that the plant’s legal ownership is a mystery. The dispute over one painted wall has flushed out someone willing to be the owner of record, with all that implies — responsibility for doing something to a dangerous hive of lawlessness and anarchy.

So far, the strategy seems to be: Allow the place to be overrun with arsonists, scrappers and all manner of crazy Detroit types, and maybe, in time, it’ll just fall down, and the earth will reclaim it.

My guess is, nothing will be settled by this lawsuit. But if it leads to anything important down the road, I’d say that was a consequence even Banksy couldn’t have predicted.

See, art does matter.

Any more bloggage? Oh, a little:

Lance Mannion went to the post office and got into a chat with some LaRouchies. Do you know what Lyndon LaRouche’s middle name is? Hermyle. Now you know.

Finally, a note of condolence to my friend and old radio co-host Mark GiaQuinta, whose father Ben died yesterday at Mark’s Fort Wayne home at 87. While this obit has some nice moments — Ben was a state legislator for some years — I think I’ll prefer the Facebook notes Mark has started posting, promising more in the days leading up to his Saturday funeral. From today’s, about his experience in World War II. His company was fighting around a German town called Welz in November 1944, in what sounds like the runup to the Battle of the Bulge. They had taken the town and cleared out some snipers and German 88s when something else happened:

As dad stood on a ridge outside the Welz and overlooking a road, he spotted a wounded German writhing in pain from his injuries. Dad then saw a jeep with an American army medic. Somehow he got the attention of the jeep driver and was able to point to the wounded German who was unable to rise from his fallen position. The jeep stopped and the medic and driver attended to the German soldier, lifted him to the jeep and drove him away. Just a few minutes later, and directly in front of where dad stood, something quite dramatic occurred. The door of a camouflaged pill box (a concrete bunker holding a machine gun crew with a small slit for the gun turret) opened and out came the German soldiers with their hands up. With them were a number of women and children who had been hiding in the pill box.

The Germans, having seen the humane treatment offered to their comrade, decided to surrender to dad and his buddies. Had dad not seen the soldier, those in the pill box and certainly some of the Americans advancing toward it would likely have been killed. Think of the changes that have occurred in our lives as the result of dad’s instinct to direct the saving of the wounded enemy soldier. Of course, we will never know what this meant with respect to the Germans and others, but dad probably saved his own life that day. I and my wonderful brothers and sisters can look at loving spouses, our beautiful sons and daughters, and the lives we have been blessed to share with each other and say thank you dad. Your instinct to help another human being gave us each other. We saw that drive to help others many times in the years we had you with us.

Sometimes the most important shots in any battle are the ones you don’t fire.

Off to start another crazy week. Here’s hoping you enjoy yours.

Posted at 8:45 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |
 

58 responses to “Exit at the courtroom.”

  1. coozledad said on July 12, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Lance’s Larouchnik conversation reminds me of one I had with one of the locals Friday. He was railing about “race mixing”.
    The Romans were more enlightened than we are.

  2. Dorothy said on July 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Mr. GiaQuinta sure sounds like a helluva guy. That was a great story and made me think of my dad. I can’t believe he’s been gone almost five years now. Thanks for sharing.

    It must have been Crabby Old Lady weekend in several cities. My daughter was in line to see The Big Lebowski with about 200 other people and some woman, over the age of 75, Laura said, asked what the movie was about. “Ummm, well have you ever seen any of the Coen Brothers’ movies?” Laura asked. The response was no. “The ‘F’ word is used a lot.” She wrinkled up her nose, her lips sort of curled and managed to say “thanks” before she walked away.

  3. brian stouder said on July 12, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Nance’s link to Lance’s (marvelous) LaRouche adventure includes this link –

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/14/AR2009081401495_pf.html

    which covers old ground, but that’s precisely the point

  4. brian stouder said on July 12, 2010 at 10:18 am

    by the way, I didn’t get the connection between the headline and the post. I get “courtroom”, with regard to the neglectful owner of the Packard Plant, but not “exit”. Then again, though, my lovely wife will attest that I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed

  5. ROgirl said on July 12, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Graffiti impermanence meets greed. It’s hard to believe the gallery owners won’t eventually try to sell the Banksy piece, and now that the “owner” of the ruins of the Packard plant has sniffed out the potential value of it, it will be interesting to see what happens as the case winds its way through the court system.

    Banksy did another piece near the GM Tech Center and I got some pictures of it in May. I haven’t driven past it lately.

  6. moe99 said on July 12, 2010 at 11:09 am

    There was another artist who got his start doing graffiti. Was is Basquiat? I just remember that he turned into a conventional artist and eventually died of AIDS.

  7. Sue said on July 12, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I was at the farmer’s market on Saturday picking up first crop green beans, because I spotted a patch of volunteer dill in my garden on Thursday – time for dilled green beans. I think I’ve mentioned that I always feel for the one or two old-guy farmers at the markets who have a small table set up, usually with some wilted-looking produce and sometimes some “hand-crafted” stuff, like crocheted potholders or something. So, in addition to my green beans from a bigger vendor, I bought some old-guy sad rhubarb and scary-looking cider. I froze the rhubarb and threw away the cider.
    So I prepped the beans on Saturday and started getting everything ready on Sunday morning, water boiling, vinegar mix heating, and went out to pick my lovely dill.
    Did you know that when parsley goes to seed it looks just like dill?

  8. Joe Kobiela said on July 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

    With the main csx train line running thru the old home town, I get stopped a lot by trains, The art work you see on some train cars is nothing short of stunning. I can never figure out how they can paint and run along those moving cars at the same time.(snicker)
    Pilot Joe

  9. Julie Robinson said on July 12, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I blame my sweaty head on my Dad. He was a prodigious sweater.

    What a beautiful tribute from Mark to his father, the kind we all hope we can earn someday from our own children.

    We were on vacation last week, and the weeds were busy, so I will be too. I also picked tomatoes, green beans, and zucchini. Good eating tonight.

  10. Peter said on July 12, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Hermyle? That’s right up there with Hermoine.

    I have a couple of house guests over, and yesterday morning I came back from the store to see the two of them watching Fox News, so I had to ask them what they thought of it – “it was the funniest thing we could find until Sponge Bob comes on”.

  11. ROgirl said on July 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Basquiat OD’d (sp?). Keith Haring died of AIDS.

  12. velvet goldmine said on July 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Sue, I know from doing the farmer’s markets as a vendor that sometimes the reason the wares look so sad is that they, and the farmer, have been to a couple of other area markets during the previous week. Or the produce may be the rejects from the farmer’s roadside stand. So don’t feel TOO bad. It’s the food version of factory seconds.

    I love the story about Mark’s father, but I am unclear about why the American soldiers and those in the pillbox would likely have been killed if the pillbox contingent didn’t come out. Is it because the hidden German soldiers would have opened fire, and a lot of people would have been killed in the crossfire? I know it’s probably right there in the story, but I’m missing it.

  13. Dexter said on July 12, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    There’s a lot of soul in Banksy art. I felt the same way about Peter Max 40 years ago, even though these two artists are worlds apart. I have used a Peter Max orange-blue Manhattan skyline as my desktop for a couple years now.

  14. Catherine said on July 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Great NYT article about the show “Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries,” at the National Gallery in London. Lots of art sleuthing, plus a bit of meditation on the nature of looking. Appropriate for the appropriated Banksy; this is, is it still the original work when it’s ripped from context?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/arts/design/13abroad.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

  15. Deborah said on July 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Jean-Michel Basquiat did indeed die from an overdose of heroin. I like his work even if Madonna used to own many of them. I saw an exhibition of his at the Whitney once years ago. I think he was discovered by Warhol. And the artist Julien Schnable directed a movie about his life. It wasn’t a great movie. Schnable is one of my least favorite artists.

  16. Dorothy said on July 12, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    velvet I’m guessing that Mark’s dad would have been an easy target once the medic and other soldiers left with the injured German. He (Mark’s dad) could have been alone, or had just one or two other soldiers with him on patrol. The Germans in the pillbox were hidden and could have easily shot them, even if they realized they were outnumbered.

    We picked yellow wax beans and Italian green beans yesterday and they were delicious at dinner last night. Sue we have dill coming up from last year, plus we planted some new this year (Mike’s pickles were a huge hit last year so he knows he’ll be making more this year). Come on by for some non-parsley dill!

  17. Deborah said on July 12, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Banksy actually comes up a lot on my projects because his work is so environmental (that’s “environmental” as being a part of the environment, not “environmental” as in sustainable or green). When you take his work out of the context of where they were created, they lose their meaning and impact. IMHO.

  18. ROgirl said on July 12, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Deborah, I think what the gallery did in tearing the Banksy work out of the wall and away from its context is just wrong. If he’d wanted to create a work of art that would be preserved, he would have done it on a gallery wall, but he didn’t, and the symbolism of the art amid the ruins is as meaningful as the image on the wall.

  19. mark said on July 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    OK, I read the Mannion piece. What did the LaRouchies do to invite Manionn’s suggestions of racism? My sense is that “racist” is increasingly just a smear term to be enlisted as necessary to denigrate people you disagree with. But maybe I missed something.

  20. paddyo' said on July 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Hey, Brian S. @ 5:

    Speaking, as Perlstein did in that nice piece from last year, about “the crazy tree” blooming . . .

    Something like that happened here in Colorado over the weekend when some of the leaders of Right-Wingnutistan met in the whitest, rightest of Denver ‘burbs for the first-ever “Western Conservative Summit.” Many tinfoil-hatted types were there — Tom Tancredo, Michele Bachmann, Michelle Malkin, and a “Freedom Brunch with Dick Morris” on Sunday — sunny-side-down, presumably . . .

    Anyway, the summiteers had the breathtaking gall to craft something ahead of time called the “Lone Tree Declaration” (named for the young, conservative suburb where they were meeting), as if they were all posing ’round the Founding Fathers’ Philadelphia table, waiting to sign and defend their sacred honour . . . (It was no accident, BTW, that they staged the gathering during “Independence Week”)

    Tancredo was his typical hyperbolic self: “All of the external threats to the United States pale in comparison to the threat that Barack Obama poses to this nation …”
    Really.
    Even one of Colorado’s GOP Senate candidates (there’s an actual primary going on here), who had demurred when Tancredo spewed the same bile earlier in the week, came to his senses (or abandoned them) by Saturday and amended his remarks: “The other day my good friend and supporter, Tom Tancredo, said that the greatest threat to this country is the man who occupies the White House, Barack Obama. There is a lot of truth in what Tom Tancredo says.”

    The rest is at
    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15488109

    But here’s the gist of the “Lone Tree Declaration.” I don’t know if it was delivered in puffy shirts and powdered wigs, but the language . . . well:

    “Our signatures on this declaration . . . affirm six tenets of who we are and what we stand for:
    “1. In our adherence to the self-evident truths of the American Founding, we are conservatives.
    “2. In our debt to the civilizational heritage of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia, we are Westerners.
    “3. In our concern for the mounting threat to liberty, seeing freedom in the balance, we convene with solemn purpose at this Summit.
    “4. We seek a conservative renewal for our country through civic action that puts principle above party, resists the corruption of power, bridges intramural disagreements or rivalries, and protects an open public square centered on the nation’s Judeo-Christian core.
    “5. We commit ourselves unswervingly to a political and social order that upholds individual freedom and personal responsibility, limited government and the rule of law, free enterprise and private property, traditional family values and sanctity of life, compassion for the poor and voluntarism in service to others, natural law and morality, strong defense and secure borders, all in keeping with the original intent of the Constitution.
    “6. We reject, and will resist, the socialist temptation, transnational progressivism, secular utopian illusions, appeasement, disarmament, or capitulation to jihad and sharia.”

  21. nancy said on July 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    What a good discussion you brainy people are having today. Just got home from police rounds and my Russian lesson, and I owe Brian an explanation for the headline — it’s a too-obscure, and WRONG, reference to the new documentary about Banksy, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” I wrote “Exit at,” etc., so, basically, I suck.

    Well, it is Monday.

  22. nancy said on July 12, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    OK, Mark. I’ll bite:

    Lance doesn’t accuse the LaRouchies of racism, but he does point out the obvious, i.e., all the things they are complaining about were well under way during the Bush administration, particularly the bankrupting of the country via firehose military spending and budgetary shenanigans. Lance poses a quite reasonable question: Where were you then? I’ve heard it asked many times, and the answer is always the same: We didn’t like it under Bush, either. So why weren’t you waving signs at tea parties then? Do you honestly expect anyone with half a working brain to believe you when you say racism isn’t the base note to the entire birther movement, which with few exceptions the entire mainstream conservative movement regarded with averted eyes, hands behind the back, and a little whistle at the very least, and with “you know, it’s a valid question to ask” among a few brave souls.

    There probably would be a tea party movement if Obama was a white Democrat. But all this “I want my country back!” bullshit raises an unanswered question: Back from whom? I was raised to believe that if you lost an election, you went back to HQ and the drawing board. My country? Whose country? It’s my country too, and I lived under eight years of George W. Bush, with whom I disagreed on nearly everything, without once bursting into tears in public and waving my birth certificate in the air.

    Those LaRouchies may not think of themselves as racists, but when they throw in with people who are — and please, what do you call all the Photoshopped pictures of Obama with a giant ‘fro, of Obama in a watermelon patch, of Obama shining Sarah Palin’s fucking shoes, the ones that turn up in nice mainstream GOP e-mails and flyers — then what else do you call them?

    Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. And cry me a fucking river.

  23. brian stouder said on July 12, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Hah!

    Bravo!!!

    And all I have to add is – what she said

  24. mark said on July 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Nancy,

    Thanks for the response. So, basically, you really do think it is fair to characterize “conservatives” (or choose another major right-wing label) as racist, because you think large numbers of them either are racist or associate without criticism with those who are racist? Or do I take your view too far?

    As for the “back from whom?’ question, for myself the answer would be “from the government.” I like freedom and don’t care to trade much of it for security. Bush, I think, attacked freedom from one direction, Obama attacks from another. And for all the promises from Obama, I can’t think of any executive power grabbed by Bush that Obama has given up. I grew up with the simple notion that adults get to make choices and suffer the consequences. When we decide that government will shield people from the consequences, I think we pretty quickly start removing their choices,too.

    At any rate, if I am close to being accurate in summarizing your view, then I do think you paint with a brush much too broad.

  25. nancy said on July 12, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Fair enough, and no, I don’t consider all conservatives racists. But I am disappointed that, with only a few exceptions, they haven’t addressed the racist undercurrents of some of the most vigorous elements of their party. All those internet funnies I mentioned before were passed along by nice Republicans who either a) didn’t see what was objectionable about a doctored photo of a black presidential candidate shining a white woman’s shoes; or b) thought they could get away with it. These aren’t, by and large, fringe elements. What is any reasonable person to think when they see a that the Repubican mayor of a California city has passed around an e-mail showing the White House lawn covered with watermelons, and when confronted, actually tries to claim he was “unaware of the racial stereotype linking black people with eating watermelons.” I mean: Are you fucking kidding me?

    Yes, he was forced to resign. But I guaran-damn-tee you that dozens of others have been forwarding the same image and haven’t been caught. I know that people who are strongly pro-life believe that because I disagree with them, I eat fetal hors d’oeuvres at my liberal soirees. But I don’t, and today, I take this pledge: If I ever see them being served at someone else’s soiree, I will say something. Publicly! I invite my conservative brethren to join me in this campaign for a better America.

  26. Joe Kobiela said on July 12, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Where was the out cry from the left, when there were cartoons of Bush as a nazi or a druken frat boy???. Not saying the ones of Obama are ok but come on. On a lighter note,have you ever watched a Golden retriever attack a rain bird lawn sprinkler?? My Golden, “Baxter” is running up and biting at the water as it comes out. the dogs having a riot.
    Pilot Joe

  27. coozledad said on July 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    “Freedom’s” just another word for protecting the rich from the consequences of their actions.
    And that country they want back? Near as I can figure it would look like Pik Botha’s South Africa, or Franco’s Spain, or the Confederacy, or the eight years of Bush, because regardless of what they tell you they were happier than pigs in shit with all the torturing and the rolling back of the legislation that made us a powerful, forward looking industrial democracy. Every time a Republican gets in power they skullfuck the country.
    And they worship a corpse. Fucking anti-Americans.
    EDIT: George Bush was a drunken Frat boy. And he still hasn’t paid for that chandelier he went swinging on while he was AWOL in Bama.

  28. 4dbirds said on July 12, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    “I like free­dom and don’t care to trade much of it for secu­rity.”

    Do you have any personal examples?

  29. Sue said on July 12, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Here’s some racism from a non-conservative. Or maybe not. What do you think? Other than to say I am a Joel Stein fan and guessed when I read this there would be hell to pay, I have no comment.
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html

  30. nancy said on July 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I never saw cartoons showing the president as a drunk. I have seen a few comparing him to Hitler. They were waved by a few trolls at a few demonstrations. For the record: I condemn them!

    I will also point out that when you put up a sign with a swastika reading BUSHITLER, you are reacting to the president’s actions. When you snicker over a cartoon of the president as a shoeshine boy, you are commenting on his race.

  31. Dorothy said on July 12, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Sue I read the letters to the editor about that Stein piece during my lunch break. I had not read the original Stein article because I’m always hopelessly behind on my reading. But my God what was he thinking?

    And thanks Cooz for saying what I was about to say, and that is to agree that Bush was a drunken frat boy. And there is a huge difference between political lampooning someone for their views and making fun of them with racial stereotypical words and images. All of us are adults here and the difference should be crystal clear.

  32. mark said on July 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    4d-

    Ther are many, but the first large one that comes to mind is our zeal for incarcerating people, about half of whom are being punished for alcohol and drug offenses. Yes, intoxicated people sometimes do harm, but we pay a huge price to protect ourselves against drunk or impaired driving accidents and related mayhem, and create secondary harms with the imprisonment.

    I don’t like (for competent adults) mandatory helmet laws or smoking bans in places that people choose to visit. Absurd licensing restrictions for busineses like taxis and manicurists and tattooists (sp?). Public taking of private propery not for public purposes (like schools, roads and utilities) but for public “good” (like the developer has promised to build a nice resort on that beachfron property you and your neighbors own, yielding more property tax revenue than the assorted double-wides that are there now).

    A current big fear is government deciding what the price of a good ought to be, in order to coerce people into consuming the proper amount of it. Cap and trade and possible taxes on soda and other high calorie items are examples, and ones where the cost of the government action will be disproportionately shouldered by the poorest.

    I’m opposed to laws against gambling, particularly where the government then sets up its own games and advertises to encourage people to engage in the very activity that has been outlawed (“Play responsibly!”).

    Edit: I’ll add one more that is in the works through the current administration. Through IRS reg changes unpaid internships will be essentially outlawed except for not-for-profit businesses. I think I ought to have the right to intern for experience, a recommendation or just because I want to.

  33. ROgirl said on July 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    It’s OK to make fun of politicians. They deserve it. I was no fan of W, but I thought comparing him to a chimp was childish and stupid and didn’t help the cause of the serious-minded people who opposed him and his policies. The slimy and hateful stuff about Obama that has oozed up from under rocks and between crevices – that seems to come so readily from certain small but vocal corners – has been there all along, just waiting for its moment of exposure. For some people, it’s like the last 50 years never happened.

  34. brian stouder said on July 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    So, basi­cally, you really do think it is fair to char­ac­ter­ize “con­ser­v­a­tives” (or choose another major right-wing label) as racist, because you think large num­bers of them either are racist or asso­ciate with­out crit­i­cism with those who are racist?

    I liked Nance’s use of a watery metaphor in her response to this –

    they haven’t addressed the racist under­cur­rents of some of the most vig­or­ous ele­ments of their party.

    I think the impulse in discussions like this is to steer toward some murky water, wherein we can disclaim any individual racism or race-based malice, which is true enough. But in the ocean of public opinion, wherein just your opinion, or just mine, isn’t malicious enough (by themself) to equal racism, the net result of enough of them equals a wave; and flatly racist surfers of those waves (political operatives and political commentators) take advantage of/encourage/ride them, for their own ends.

    As for the “back from whom?’ ques­tion, for myself the answer would be “from the gov­ern­ment.”

    In a society where we careen toward one another in shiney metal boxes every day, and have machinery loaded with freight and people hurtling overhead, and have stores and warehouses full of animal flesh and mass-farmed produce that I’m supposed to reach my hand into, and then feed to my children….I not only want government intrustion, I DEMAND it!!

    I grew up with the sim­ple notion that adults get to make choices and suf­fer the con­se­quences.

    Not sure how far you want to go with that “consequences” thing. I don’t want to see people (or their children) starving in the streets, or writhing in pain and untreated sickness

  35. coozledad said on July 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    One of the commenters at Roy’s had a succinct definition of what Republicans and libertarians mean by freedom. I forget precisely who said it, but they deserve a damn statue:”They feel they are unfairly burdened by anti-asshole laws.” These are laws that have to be enacted because some assholes will just never get the word.They do not understand the social contract, and if they had their way, they’d return us to bellum omnium contra omnes, which is Latin for a cockfight in Dillon, SC.

  36. paddyo' said on July 12, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    And they’d do it “per omnia saecula saeculorum,” Cooz . . .

  37. Sue said on July 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Cooz and paddy:
    SPEAK ENGLISH OR GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM!

  38. mark said on July 12, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I rather suspect that diabetes and obesity will be a major test. As both increase, the cost of medical treatment skyrockets. The medical “advances” of late consist of ever more expensive procedures for managing diabetes, reducing the side effects even for those who choose not to follow advice concerning diet. At some point I think we will either have to refuse to pay, or dictate diet and exercise with more than a doctor’s advice. Me, I’d leave the adults to figure it out for themselves and begrudgingly consider greater government intervention where parents are grossly inattentive to severe obesity on the part of their children.

  39. Dexter said on July 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    The Stein piece really struck a chord with the locals around Edison. One satellite radio show out of NYC devoted two hours to dissecting it.
    General consensus was that his points were not well thought out, and then written poorly, so much so that the humor was simply lost. I thought Stein was writing straight from the heart, but his points had too much “sticking depth” to them. The further away you are from Edison, the easier it may be to understand what he was driving at. In Edison, it surely must have seemed brutal.
    He made it seem as though he and his friends invented the derogatory designation “dot heads”. That was just grandiose.

  40. Sue said on July 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    ‘greater gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion where par­ents are grossly inat­ten­tive to severe obe­sity on the part of their chil­dren’
    Michelle’s already doing that with her in-your-face organic garden and all her talk about healthy eating and exercise for America’s children. It’s only a matter of time before the nutrition police, who share office space in the White House with the Department of Law, come after us, so build a shelf next to the ammo stockpiles for the cheetos. The future is now.

  41. coozledad said on July 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Fat people are fat because they make poor choices? Diabetes is a choice? This is the Moral Theory of Disease. This is why these people suck at governance. For them, the the only function of government is to dole out punishments for those unfortunate enough to be born outside of the elect. It’s that tight-lipped Calvinist tough love bullshit that is at the core of everything from Charles Murray’s race science to the Republicans blaming the unemployed for their unemployment. It’s four centuries old transparent Amway bullshit.

  42. Jeff Borden said on July 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Political movements and definitions grow and shrink, mutate and adapt. When I look at Barack Obama, who is constantly accused of being a far-left socialist by conservatives, I see a political figure far, far, far to the right of LBJ, who used his considerable muscle and political skills to wrench this country away from institutionalized racism. Obviously, the Great Society initiatives did not accomplish what they promised, but these were big, bold, progressive moves. I’ve seen nothing from Obama that is even close to what LBJ attempted. The health care reform, while a welcome start, still leaves too many people at risk and, of course, it’s not a single-payer plan. The choices of Sotomayor and Kagan for the Supreme Court are hardly the left-wing version of Scalia or Thomas. Don’t ask, don’t tell is still the rule in the military. Guantanamo, that festering wound so useful in the recruiting of jihadists, is still open and functioning.

    And yet to hear the chattering of the right-wing monkeys, Obama is to the right of Stalin. I see a centrist with liberal tendencies who is too goddamned beholden to a political movement that will never, ever lift a finger to help with the massive problems we confront as a nation.

    We’ve gone through the looking glass. No way Dwight Eisenhower would ever be elected today. Richard Nixon might be able to adapt, given his dark side, but I wonder if even St. Ronald of Reagan would get the right-wing nod these days. For as frequently as his name is invoked in religious terms, he raised taxes when it was necessary and attempted some form of immigration reform. Those two things alone would have him tarred and feathered by the teabaggers.

  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    OK, the “overly burdened by anti-a**hole laws” is funny. I’ll laugh. And I flinch, visibly, every time a) someone says “take our country back,” and b) each time Lee Greenwood or anyone else sings the line “and they can’t take that from me.” In my dad’s immortal, ongoing formulation — “who are *they*?”

    Conservatism has a racism problem. Barack Obama the candidate was a neat double-down on the GOP by the Democratic Party judo flipping that issue onto its back, where it still flails, wailing “take our country back.” We all know what that evokes.

    The problem is that if you too neatly racialize dissent from the losing side, you indirectly start to ratify that obscure racism, at least in some minds that don’t get enough light and fresh air. It’s not about the Hitler mustache meme, which is, demonstrably, a LaRouchian icon from the start. And it’s not the Obama/Joker morph, which is just an artifact of the cultural moment. It is about resentment, the JP4 of populism, and resenting the capable black man is a crude bit of racism clearly identified as such from all of Sidney Poitier’s movies right down to Eddie Murphy in “48 Hours.” You want to keep that visceral reflex caged into its proper corner, but if you try to claim any objection to anything President Obama’s team is doing as “racist resentment,” you’ll open up the corral wide enough that too many folks will get included in the enclosure, and they’ll just shrug and say “oh, so you think I’m racist — fine, then I am.”

    I’d rather call crazy people nuts, bad ideas stupid, and let racism be racism. The Republican Party (and Conservatism in general) still has to come to terms with its mixed history and tangled politics over race, just as the Dems haven’t come to terms with progressivism and eugenics, and aren’t going to anytime soon. I think you can all too easily argue that the election of Michael Steele as party chair is one of the most racist things they’ve done since the late 60’s, but they don’t know how to back out of the corner they’ve (the party goombahs) painted themselves into.

    If you’re convinced that the only reason anyone has to be conservative is loathing of minority groups and a desire to enrich their social superiors, nothing I’ve said is going to change your mind. But I don’t think all liberals secretly want to reduce the birthrate of the unfit or ban incomes over the wage rate of a social worker, either. Both parties have baggage, everyone wants someone else to carry at least some of their luggage, and political systems are riddled with compromises, each with their own unique history.

    In other words, the GOP will make major gains in November, but never underestimate the mystic powers of the Stupid Party: we will somehow manage not to carry the House, and the Senate will stay in borderline limbo, not the least of reasons being that the unconscious yearning of the Body Politic is exactly that outcome.

  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Only saw Jeff B.’s comment after I posted, but I’ll ruefully agree with all you’ve said, cousin, including the likelihood that a Boys From Brazil Nixon clone today would readily re-adapt to the current situation just fine, kind of like The Thing From Outer Space.

    But I’d go easy on the “teabagger” meme. It’s a cheap shot dismissive tag that misses a big chunk of a group that was, in fact, slowly simmering its way through the Bush years, and only came to boil when Obama entered office. Is there no racism in their passion? It’d be silly to say so, but that’s not at all where they came from or what they’re exercised about.

  45. nancy said on July 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Tattoo practitioners shouldn’t be regulated? Whew. Son, anyone comes near me with a needle, I bloody well pray they’ve at least been schooled in autoclave operation, and had to take a test on it.

    As for the “no one forces you to get a tattoo” argument, I’d plead for mercy for the millions of 19-year-old drunks who couldn’t live without one. One dumb decision shouldn’t mean Hep C for life. On the other hand, it certainly would cut down on business. Maybe you’re on to something, Mark. …

  46. paddyo' said on July 12, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Et tu, Sue-te? (@37)

    “Tough love bullshit,” Cooze? Why, lookie here, I’ve got a fresh steaming pile of it from the Nobama harpy Michelle Malkin at that conservative weekend “summit” I mentioned above @20:

    “It’s not merely that we have the corruptocrat-in-chief sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania with his team of Chicago thugs, it’s that we have too many people who see no shame in waiting for the state to deliver them everything from cradle to career to grave.”

    Perhaps she’ll tell that directly to the millions who are out of work, looking HARD for it now, every day, and NOT finding it . . . and thanks to the cut-cut-cut-the-government yammerers in the Senate, without an extension of jobless benefits in just the kind of economic crisis that needs them — and where a hand up is certainly NOT a handout.
    No career-delivery going on out there now (if ever), that’s for sure.

  47. Jeff Borden said on July 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    You make excellent points, Jeff tmmo, although I’m confused by your reference to eugenics. There have been many huge mistakes on both sides of the political spectrum.

    Many, perhaps most, liberals will agree that a lot of progressive efforts of the 1960s were wrong-headed. Public housing projects, particularly the immense high-rise components, may have been envisioned as a way to allow people to live in decent housing, but they quickly became warehouses for the poor and the marginalized, and in time became horrific places controlled by gangbangers and junkies. Failure to tie welfare payments to some means of eventually leaving it behind such as schooling or employment training or job searches did create a subset of citizens perfectly willing to sit at home and watch TV.

    What I am waiting to hear is a nationally prominent conservative who will speak up to note that allowing businesses and industries to write their own rules and regulations through lobbyists is probably not a very good idea. Or that the marketplace, while often very effective, does not always solve every problem. Or that most immigrants who travel to America are not drug mules or assassins, but mothers and fathers looking for a better life for their kids. Or that bombing and invading countries who have taken no action against the United States is one of the fucking stupidest things we could have ever done.

  48. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Eugenics, public housing blocs, I’ll let liberals pick their own self-castigation. I think 99% of illegal immigrants have no “illegal” intent when they enter the country, but that’s not got much to do with whether or not we should control the border and discourage illegal entry. There is a strand of left/liberal discussion of this subject that pretty quickly goes to “if they can improve their lot economically by coming here, it’s injustice to keep them out or to send them back.” That’s not a logic that goes anywhere useful, but it makes a nice unassailable talking point in church and social service circles.

    Which connects to the conservative “fetish,” as some of you put it, about the marketplace. I don’t know anyone who says the market is *always* the *best* option, but we will say that a market solution should always be considered first, and is usually better than “expert” opinion or central controls. Sometimes, you gotta have centralized controls, but the bias should be towards the least general, least central option for command & control.

    In that sense, I’m horrified by the argument that the solution to state budget problems is to short-circuit state limits on borrowing by turning to federal largesse (i.e., stimuli) based on borrowed/paid by federal tax dollars. The closer a tax decision is to the user, the better, but I’m classical liberal enough to say that the libertarian “user fees for everything, and tariffs for everything else” is not going to work, so we’re stuck with an income tax.

    By the way, “Last Call” by Daniel Okrent — awesome reporting and writing, and a look at what Prohibition did and didn’t do: much cautionary lesson-learning for liberals & conservatives alike. The Kickback Lounge link wd be: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Call-Rise-Fall-Prohibition/dp/0743277023/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278975241&sr=8-1

  49. Dexter said on July 12, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Whoa, heavy stuff here today…a little break, with Daniel Johnston providing a sound track to a buster Keaton short:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z38rIZ7TCKs&feature=related

  50. Kirk said on July 12, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I am at work, and that made me crack up at least three times (so my colleagues again think I’m nuts). Thanks, Dexter.

  51. Denice B. said on July 12, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    The Packard Plant is sort of like the Union Station. It’s been there forever and seems that it will always be there. For treasure hunters, urban explorers, adventurers, homeless, vandals, visitors, druggies, photographers, teen taggers and rabid vermin. It just is what it is. Nobody wants to pay to take them down.

  52. Deborah said on July 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Good stuff today in the comments. I’m just mellowing out listening to old Dwayne Allmann pieces now. It’s Mozart to my ears.

  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Denice, we said that about Old Chicago . . . http://lisawebworld1.tripod.com/oldchicago.html

    I still can’t believe they tore it down, as big as it was.

  54. brian stouder said on July 13, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Jeff, the author of that Prohibition book was on C-SPAN not so long ago, and turned my head. I’m thinking I’ll have to get that book, but a Christmas/birthday book backlog has persisted, owing to Burlingame’s (mostly excellent) 2-volume opus. I did enjoy McCullough’s (surprisingly old) book on the Panama Canal – which Chloe had picked for me because of the picture of a ship on the cover; and Carlo D’Este’s Churchill book (Warlord) still awaits, along with several others (including a Laura Lippman book I have been saving).

    I’d rather call crazy peo­ple nuts, bad ideas stu­pid, and let racism be racism.

    Agreed. An example of something that makes me inhale deeply, hold, and then exhale, is when you hear the same “crazy” from several outlets in concert – such as the following canard, from here:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/07/12/deneen-borelli-new-black-panther-party-tea-party-hate-speech-racist/

    But, despite their morally reprehensible behavior, criticizing the New Black Panther Party seems to yield few political points for progressives. Even allegedly blocking people from voting seems to not ruffle progressive feathers, as the Obama Justice Department dismissed the voting rights case against the Panthers for allegedly political reasons.

    But as Olbermann reported tonight, the “voting rights case against the Panthers” was dismissed in early January, 2009 – BEFORE President Obama was inaugurated.

    I heard this “Obama Justice Department dismissed the voting rights case against the Panthers” from Shit-for-brains Sean Hannity on the way to Game Night on Friday (in Zulu, Indiana), and from the local hard-right radio wannabe on Monday, and from others; and they uniformly missed that same basic fact – that it was the Bush Justice Department (which presumeably would never, ever act for political reasons, right?)

    The level of make-believe within the teabagger/rightwing noise machine is pretty much breath-taking.

    Anyway, I too, got a laugh from the Buster Keaton thing, Dexter.

  55. moe99 said on July 13, 2010 at 12:34 am

    I’ve decided that the right wing/teabagger crap is a virus. I think it is spread by ear worms when listening to Rush Limbaugh and in another fashion when reading Michelle Malkin and others of her ilk. John Cole is on of the few who can speak to coming out from under its influence. Unfortunately, very few are cured but those who are, watch out!

  56. alex said on July 13, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I have the misfortune of living next door to an agitated lady who never shuts the fuck up about her asinine politics. And she’s a racist. She has a porch monkey, which I may have mentioned here before. I think it’s rather funny how she complains about wealth redistribution when she doesn’t really have any wealth to redistribute, but rather wants everyone to think she does. She’s barely hanging onto her house, which she snagged when she married an old widower on his deathbed, and I can only hope and pray that she refinanced it during the bubble so that she’ll be forced the hell outta here when the loan matures.

    That’s the kind of dog you’re lying down with, mark. A two-faced backstabbing bitch who badmouths other neighbors, including the one family that appears to be her only friends in the world. It’s like living next to a toxic dump, I tell ya.

  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 13, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Can’t speak to anyone’s neighbors, but in general, nationally, there’s endless coverage of Rick Barber over Martha Robey, or Michelle Bachman over Paul Ryan — http://weeklystandard.com/articles/think-big — people like Ryan and Blackburn and Cantor are who I hear everyday conservatives talking about, or Kasich and Daniels. Meanwhile, the major/legacy media folk keep running every Palin Facebook note and talking about Limbaugh’s latest comment, with the clear implication “this is all they have.”

    As a trustee of my neighborhood association (which I ran for to keep a group from cutting down a 300 year old tree behind my house, he said conservatively), the guy who sends me letters asking me to threaten a lien on the houses that have poorly maintained lawns and abuse street parking near his mailbox is . . . one of the Obama lawn sign holders from last year. I’ve thought about pointing out to him that a reading as literal and punitive as he wants me to take against the people he’s unhappy about would mean sanctions against anyone putting up yardsigns, but I figure he wouldn’t get the irony. Irony doesn’t seem to be his strong suit.

    Not that I’m saying that’s a uniquely liberal challenge! Plenty of irony impaired folk on both sides of the aisle.

  58. basset said on July 13, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Back to the Packard plant for a minute – anyone know the last time it was used for anything productive? I believe Packard quit making cars there in 1956 – the name lasted till ’58 but the last two years they were selling rebadged Studebakers.