I try to engineer my week so that Fridays belong to me and only me. I start working on Sunday afternoons, and I front-load my work week to the point that by Wednesday, I am starting to get a little breathing room. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but if all goes as planned, by noon Friday, I’m cruising.
Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. Last Friday, I got a call from one of my friends from my fellowship year, an Israeli who’s now U.S. bureau chief for Yedioth Ahronoth, the largest daily (I think) in Tel Aviv. Could I put together something quickly on the Flint Slasher? For actual money? Anything for you, Adi. (And anything for a little money. I spend so much time writing for little or nothing, I’d forgotten what that’s like.) And so off I rolled around lunchtime, cruising for Genesee County instead.
And? A very sad place. Granted, I was on the po’ side of town. I remember, after “Roger & Me” insulted conservatives with the suggestion that perhaps capitalism isn’t win-win for everyone, reading something specific to Flint in one of their ideological house organs, which arrived by the truckload at my paper’s editorial page. Yes, downtown Flint retail was dead, the writer said, but that’s because everyone was shopping at the brand-new mall, etc. etc. Perhaps. (That’s certainly what happened in Fort Wayne.) And surely a comprehensive tour of the area with experts would have revealed a fuller picture of the place. But I drove around a bit, and my overwhelming impression was Springsteenian: Foreman said these jobs are goin’, boys, and they ain’t comin’ back to your hometown. In Detroit, the ruin is Roman — you can see what was once a great city under the decay. In Flint, the disaster befell someplace far more ordinary. Which made it starker, and sadder.
The term for these sorts of excursions is “parachute journalism.” I was happy to pack my chute and leave at the end of the day. And the result? Your basic fly-by visit by some empty suit.
Poor Adi. Deadline was 2 p.m. Saturday, but that was for the final, finished product. Translation is a bear, especially on deadline.
And so the week begins. It’s a special one for one of our group: Laura Lippman’s latest, “I’d Know You Anywhere,” drops tomorrow, and oh, how the praise has flowed. Amazon says it will be arriving by tomorrow, but hasn’t shipped yet. “Three Stations,” which I also pre-ordered and is published the same day, has shipped. So I’ll pay twice for shipping. But I’m happy to give my fave writer all-important “velocity” in first-week sales.
A little bloggage? Ohhh-kay:
An outsider experiences fair food, swoons. A nice wrap-up of what’s being deep-fried this year.
The Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts, reconsidered.
I noticed this when I was in Ann Arbor a few years back. It blew my mind then, and still does: College students who check in with their parents multiple times a day. I called my mom once a week, and that was because we had free long distance (Ohio Bell was our family’s coal mine).
And now, having flown by, I must fly. Ta ta.