Ash Wednesday.

I got my paczki yesterday, in a distinctly un-Polish bakery down the main drag from my house. They’re as French as ooh-la-la, but if everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody’s Polish on Paczki Day, at least in Detroit. So I had one raspberry-filled paczek for lunch, and spent a couple of hours riding the sugar high at a reporting assignment, which ended in guffaws with a couple of real-estate agents. You think cops see a lot? Real-estate agents see everything, and what they don’t see, they hear.

“Someone called our office looking for 30 acres up north to grow medical marijuana,” one said.

“I saw an MLS photo once where someone left their artificial penis on the bathroom counter,” replied the other. I wonder if she said “artificial penis” because it sounds better than “dildo,” the way “handyman special” is an improvement on “a real dump.” She reads this blog, so hey, welcome! You know what she said about it? “You have such smart readers.” You bet I do.

I wondered if I could find the MLS photo of the artificial penis. I figure it has to be on a blog somewhere, so I Googled around a bit. Didn’t find it, but I did find this, via this page, which is another one of those places you should avoid if you don’t have about five hours to kill.

And now it’s Wednesday, when the week shifts into another gear. Office hours this week, so I have to get moving in about six minutes. Fortunately, we are bloggage-heavy today:

Ke$ha, the pop star who makes Madonna look like Maria Callas, has an unusual deal with LifeStyles condoms. Well, I wouldn’t touch her without a pair of gloves on.

This story broke yesterday morning and was updated through the day — a woman rushing to the hospital ended up giving birth in a car, pulled over on the shoulder of I-94. When it first appeared, that was about all the detail available, and the racist, vile comments started to pile up so fast the staff couldn’t delete them fast enough — another welfare recipient comes into the world in a rusty Pontiac with the muffler wired on, etc. At one point the story said 50 comments had been made, but you could only read about 10; the new Gannett website is whack and I’m not sure how it works, but I think the other 40 had been deleted, and the counter hadn’t caught up.

Then about noon a fuller story was posted. The woman is married. To a doctor, who wasn’t with her because he’s doing his residency in New Jersey. And she’s Muslim. She had the guts to allow photography, although of course she was fully covered in the usual fashion. Cute baby, proud mother, married parents, what’s the problem? The comments took a turn from welfare and wired-on mufflers to terrorism and cracks about honor killings (“I sure hope the EMS “guys” were all female. Otherwise, this woman is in big trouble.”). If I worked for a newspaper nowadays, I’d find it hard to concentrate on anything other than hating my readers.

But not everyone in the world is awful, and that’s why we close with this wonderful short essay about who helps you when you need it. May I just say, nothing in this story surprised me one bit. “Today you, tomorrow me.” It washes a lot of rancid comments away.

Remember, one day we’ll all be dust. The important part is what we did beforehand.

Posted at 9:22 am in Same ol' same ol' |

71 responses to “Ash Wednesday.”

  1. velvet goldmine said on March 9, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Top o’ the morning, top o’ (or nearly the top) of the thread:

    I’m passing along Phoebe’s thank you, albeit an electric one, for the beyond generous help she got from Nancy and the community here to enable her to enroll for that leadership conference. I don’t know if it’s kosher or not, tacky or not, to state the final figure, but you all came up with the entire deposit. That not only allowed us to send out the enrollment form for her, but makes it much easier to plan the final two payments. (That is not a hint — it won’t be a problem to make those payments now that we have enough time to plan).

    Anyway, here is Phoebe:

    “I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who has been so generously contributing to my “cause” these past few days. When I got the letter from my guidance counselor inviting met to go to this program, my heart immediately sank because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to pay for it. But I realize after this to never completely give up hope. The thought that complete strangers would do something so wonderful is incredibly heartwarming, and makes me believe that there truly is good in the world. I’m a sophomore, and I spend so much time stressing out about junior year, which everyone says is supposed to be the hardest, and I’m trying to do everything in my power to get into a good college. This extraordinary gift you all have given me may be just the golden brick I need to begin paving my way. I hope everyone realizes how sincerely grateful I am, and know that I will never in my life forget the generosity I have experienced.”

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  2. Suzanne said on March 9, 2011 at 9:48 am

    The NYTimes piece reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me. She got a flat tire on the Dirty Dan Ryan in Chicago and was terrified; a white woman alone where a lone white woman did not feel comfortable and well before cells phones existed. Car after car passed and finally one stopped. Out came a very large, very black man with a big screwdriver in his hand. Her only thought, as she related it to me, was that she never thought her life would end being stabbed with a such a blunt instrument. End of story? The man had grabbed the screwdriver to pry off the hub cap, which he did, changed her tire as cars whizzed by, refused any money for his help, and went on his way, probably unaware that he had changed someone’s view of the world forever.

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  3. Julia @ Hooked on Houses said on March 9, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Did you ever find it? I had a lot of readers forward that MLS photo to me. They have since taken it down, but you can read about it here:!5747324/before-you-sell-a-house-remove-all-dildos

    Just when I thought I’d seen it all…

    (Thanks for the shout-out!)

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  4. Jolene said on March 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Here’s another remarkable kindness-of-strangers story, noteworthy not only because of all the people who pitched in to help but because I’d have thought the outcome was medically impossible.

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  5. Deborah said on March 9, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I can see now that this thread is going to have me blubbering at my desk today.

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  6. coozledad said on March 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Those MLS photos remind me of a book that came out a couple of years ago “Dictator Style“.Maybe we’ve got a bunch of would-be Ceaucescus and Hitlers* wandering around with too much money, or too much credit.
    My best guess is that their struggle to get that MBA left a lot of folks too distracted to absorb the concept of vernacular architecture.

    *Sadly, Hitler seems to have had a better interior decorator than most of these examples. Even his snuff-film screening room is a study in understatement compared to these yobbos.

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  7. Heather said on March 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

    This past summer I had a spectacular wipeout while riding my bike on a relatively busy street here in Chicago. I was OK, but it took me a while to get up and extricate myself from underneath my bike. Some cars at least stopped and waited for me to get up, but not one person even rolled down a window to ask if I was OK–until an Asian man who had been loading up his groceries in an adjacent parking lot ran out into the street, helped me get up and move my bike over to the side of the road, then he spent about 15 minutes helping me get it in enough working order to walk back home while his family waited patiently in his car. I will always remember that.

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  8. Dave said on March 9, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I was born in the backseat of a 1949 Plymouth, on Easter Sunday, 1950, in the alley behind White Cross Hospital in Columbus and no, I don’t know where that was, somewhere in downtown Columbus. (Riverside Hospital replaced it). There was no newspaper story, no TV, of course, no radio, no newsreel, nothing, that’s just as close as my parents got to the hospital. They had been married nearly two years by then, too.

    Had there been a way to make them, the comments would have probably been different then,anyway, being a different age and all.

    Poor little insignificant me has never been able to grasp onto why people would want to live in those gaudy, excessively crass abodes.

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  9. 4dbirds said on March 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I wish I had more to send Phoebe and I hope you have a wonderful and memorable time.

    I agree with the “realtors see everything”. My first job after getting out of the army and my daughter was well enough for me to work was as a ‘portfolio rep’ for the real estate owned department of Freddie Mac. After forclosure, the property would revert to Freddie Mac’s ownership. My portfolio was a product called 2 – 4s which were owner occupied duplexes, triplexes and quads. They are an odd duck in the real estate market. An owner buys the entire building, lives in one apartment and rents the remaining to tenants. They can be great if you have stable tenants but when one doesn’t pay, owners often get behind and go into foreclosure. These properties would come back to us with not only the owners still living in them but often the tenants too. My job was to coordinate the securing, evictions, repairing and selling of these properties. We would find starving dogs, dead animals (one place was being used as a slaughterhouse) and once a dead body. If we couldn’t secure a place in time, vacant properties were stripped and vandalized in rapid time. We would often have to go to court to get owners out and in states such as New York and New Jersey this could take years. We had one owner in New Jersey who would constantly file bankruptcy, which would stop the process, he wouldn’t follow-up then we would start the eviction process and he would file again. One time when the sheriff came to evict him he faked a heart attack so the sheriff would go away. We usually paid the tenants to leave. We gave them enough to move and pay a security deposit at another place. The things people would leave were funny or break your heart. As Nancy said, sex toys, family heirlooms, children’s toys and as mentioned above, live pets. It was a stressing job at a very stressful place and I was glad when I left.

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  10. 4dbirds said on March 9, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I was ‘almost’ born in the Pentagon parking lot where my mother in active labor drove to pick up my father. I managed to wait until they were at Ft Belvoir before arriving.

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  11. Dorothy said on March 9, 2011 at 10:34 am

    You have company, Deborah – swimmy eyes here right now! I’m delighting in Phoebe’s sweet words. Sounds like she’s a terrific girl and on her way to big places very soon!

    Heather that sounds like a “pay-it-forward moment” to me. I’m very glad the man was so kind to you.

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  12. nancy said on March 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

    For those who didn’t see it, the artificial penis picture has been located. See comment #3, which went into moderation because she’s a first-timer.

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  13. velvet goldmine said on March 9, 2011 at 10:39 am

    A first timer? Wow, what a debut!

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  14. ROgirl said on March 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

    In the Gawker column photo the item is blacked out, but if you click on the photo of the Reddit post you can see it sitting on the toilet tank.

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  15. coozledad said on March 9, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I clicked on the Gawker link and found that dildo that attaches to a reciprocating saw.
    I used to joke with my wife that our neighbor had a 2-cycle vibrator that she ran on a lean mix.
    I’ll bet someone’s already built one.

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  16. Kirk said on March 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for that, ROgirl. I feared I was going blind.

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  17. LAMary said on March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I would bet that gaudy house with the “models” in Woodland Hills, CA was owned by one of our many local Russian Mafia affiliates. That is the style of choice for that crowd. Gilded furniture and marble floors are mandatory.

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  18. Dorothy said on March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Blubbering AND laughing – what a great combination on this awful rainy day! (Kirk you’re the one who made me laugh cuz I thought I was going blind, too.)

    Nance – just curious – is Julia (commenter #3 today) the one who so-politely called it an “artificial penis” at the meeting yesterday?

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  19. Crabby said on March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am


    White Cross was on Park Street across from Goodale Park by the pond with the fountain. It was absorbed by Riverside Hospital in ’61.

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  20. Peter said on March 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Cooz, apparently you didn’t hear about the incident last week at Northwestern – a prof teaching a human sexuality class had a live demo after class, and that’s exactly the instrument that was used.

    According to the article, the woman climaxed at three minutes.

    My wife told me that I’m fired as soon as she comes back from Home Depot.

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  21. nancy said on March 9, 2011 at 11:20 am

    If no one will accuse me of actually watching “Real Sex” late at night on HBO, I will tell you they had once an entire segment on common household machines repurposed for that sort of play. Two pervs with engineering backgrounds had made them in some sort of personal challenge. (The “friend” who stops by to test ’em out was obviously some sort of porn-star giantess, and may have even been an extra-terrestrial.)

    The most amusing was the Kitchen Aid mixer.

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  22. LAMary said on March 9, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Please tell me the dough hook attachment was not involved.

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  23. brian stouder said on March 9, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Now, is this an eclectic (not to say electric) thread, or what?

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  24. nancy said on March 9, 2011 at 11:36 am

    No, it wasn’t. What keeps that show from being straight porn is, there is always some shred of socially redeeming content in the segments. (Also, the naked people are frequently unattractive.) This was presented as an engineering puzzle to be solved — how to take the mixer’s signature action and translate it into powering a sex toy. Because, y’know, that’s just what every woman is looking for, right? A new way to use her mixer.

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  25. Jolene said on March 9, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Your comment, Nancy, reminded me of something I heard Chuck Todd say on MSNBC a few days ago. In referring to one of Charlie Sheen’s companions, he wondered why people who work in the adult film industry are always “stars.” No porn character actors, no porn adventure heroes–everybody’s a star.

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  26. nancy said on March 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I’ve noticed that too, Jolene. There literally are no small parts in porn, only big actors.

    I took a closer look at that house in Woodland Hills, and I’m sure LAM is right — that’s Russian mafia all the way. The two sylphs lounging around in the photos look like molls, and there’s an onion-dome motif in one of the chandeliers.

    Dorothy, the new commenter runs the site I linked to; must have been watching her trackbacks. She’s not the woman I met yesterday.

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  27. velvet goldmine said on March 9, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Jolene: Well, the omission of character actors makes sense. I, for one, would not welcome Charles Durning or Maureen Stapleton in even soft-core flicks.

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  28. Sue said on March 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I guess I have to ask about the “repurposed common household machines” – so when a wife snidely suggests that her husband acquaint himself with the vacuum cleaner, that might not mean what I think it means? And does that change the whole ‘appliances as birthday/Christmas/valentine’s day gift’ dynamic?
    As usual in this type of discussion, I’m totally confused.

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  29. prospero said on March 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I believe that listing photo is of a half-bath in the Arkansas governor’s mansion, circa 2007.

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  30. Jolene said on March 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Speaking of real estate, Ta-Nehisi Coates has a new piece about a Detroit neighborhood in The Atlantic. Will save my critique, as I’d be interested to hear what you all think of it. It’s short, and there are pictures!

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  31. harrison said on March 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    there are no character actors in porn? obviously you weren’t thinking of ron jeremy.

    he’s a very short, hairy, chubby man who has a long penis and supposedly fellated himself in a movie. he’s nicknamed “the hedgehog.” he gets a lot of work, even though he’s on the plain side, because he has what you’d call stamina before the cameras.

    if you want a picture of him, feel free to use your favorite web browser. make sure it’s set so you can get adult (sexual) material, and then switch it back from that if that’s how you prefer it.

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  32. beb said on March 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Nancy’s comment about “two pervs with an engineering background” working on these mechanical dildos immediately made me think about a very special edition of “Mythbusters” where Adam and Jamie and Grant, but not Kari would come up with ever more bizarre things to motorize.

    As for the kindness of strangers, I like Michigan’s idea of “Courtesy Van” cruising the Detroit freeways offering free help to anyone broke down there. Things like changing tires or providing a gallon of gas.

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  33. nancy said on March 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    That’s Palmer Woods, where I served as a docent on the holiday home tour. My friend Michael lives there, and it is indeed as T-NC describes it — buppie city. It’s also where young Mittens Romney lived before they beat it for Oakland County, and that’s where the “childhood home” that was demolished a year or so back once stood.

    It has its problems. It was hit by the foreclosure crisis like everyone else, but it’s a very strong neighborhood with many powerful residents, and the damage has been mitigated a great deal.

    Michael’s house was part of a home tour they did a year or so back, aimed at gays and lesbians, who are also a significant presence there. It’s a gorgeous place, although one gay couple I chatted with at the Frank Lloyd Wright housewarming last fall said the charm wears thin after a few winters of $1,500 monthly heating bills. But if you’re a lawyer or dermatologist, likely it’s not such a hardship.

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  34. Jolene said on March 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Nancy, what did you think of the article as a piece of writing? As you know, I’m a big TNC fan, but I found this piece unsatisfying, even though the writing was smooth and clear. It didn’t really seem to make a point, and it didn’t seem interesting enough to stand on its own as a piece of reporting about how things are in this corner of reality.

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  35. prospero said on March 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    As a nurse and I were wheeling my ex out of the delivery room after my daughter was born, double doors at the end of the quarter blew open and a gurney hurtled toward us at alarm speed. Somebody literally yelled “Gangway” the only time in my life I ever heard the term used in a non-facetious manner. We slewed into the closest doorway. The Howards had made it by seconds from Hopkinton to Wellesley (in both of which, I imagine you draw a police presence if you’re driving a rustbucket with wired-on mufflerwith seconds to go, following the Boston Marathon route, and I actually witnessed two births within half an hour of each other. This was at just about halftime of the worst Super Bowl ever played, Oakland and Philadelphia. The day Rummy/Cheney told the Ayatollah it was OK to release the American hostages, and larry Bird and J famously tried to strangle one another.

    We had spent the day watching the Celts and the hostages in a comfortable labor room. The hospital was a straight shot out the Mass Pike from the South End, we had a brand new Mazda, and left home about 7am, so I figured what the hell and drove on the redline, figuring no cop was going to write me a ticket.With so much nursing attention the whole day seemed impossible. The maternity floor was otherwise devoid of occupants. D was hooked up to a monitor registering contractions, with a recording graph with a needle-pen like a seismograph. All was well, as I watched hoops and thought i might get to see part of the football game., chiivarously inquiring frequently whether D. would rather I turned the TV off, holding her hand, applying cold compresses. The monitor nattered benignly in the background. At exactly 6pm, there was crushing pressure on my fingers, and what seemed to be Mercedes McCambridge voicing Regan (uncredited) hissed “Turn of that Goddamn TV.”

    So back to the dual birth. The babies were a sight to see, side by side in the newborn nursery. Baby Howard was relly a big boy at 11-2, which might have accounted for his precipitous arrival at the end of a short fast car ride. Emily’s surname is Johnson, and the nurses lined up the little labels on the layettes to read Howard Johnson. I think this was a result of the general hilarity, which also produced the de rigeur commentsabout naming the mannikin Otis, because he was born in a…you know. Hospital staff came by constantly to see the child that ran about 1/3 of the Marathon as he entered the world.

    Before we all checked out, a few nights later we shared a filet mignon and somewhat wine-soaked dinner provided by the hospital. In the end, the child was lucky mom was wearing sturdy drawers (emrgency room joke, not mine). According to his parents as they sped down Rte. 9, the kid’s prospective name went from Ashland to Natick. We kept in touch for some time, but damned if I remember that boy’s name. Sorry if this attempted narrative is a jumble. Believe me that whole day was hallucinatory.

    On the sex toy front, is it me or does that blow back your hair ad give anybody else the same sort of queasy feeling as the first mom and daughter tampon and douche ads?

    On the presumed racial stereotypes on website comment boards, I hold Reagan responsible to a certain extent. It’s the welfare mom/ foodstamps for vodka and butts from Morning in America. For some reason, the Seattle area has had a bizzare number of officer-involved shooting deaths of people that nothing to provoke them in the last couple of years. (I love the Seattle Times site, Republican newspaper with obviously sensible and compassionate editorial leanings.) Every story about one of these unfortunat incidents gets kneejerk comments about how the paper is leftwing (not close), cops are always wrong libtard assumptions, and if the victim wasn’t doing anything right that moment, he was nevertheless a career criminal that had probably earned the death penalty, anyway.

    And I know she’s not supposed to have an opinion, since she’s only an entertainer, but Annie Lennox writes a good editorial:

    Women do two-thirds of the world’s work for a paltry 10 percent of the world’s income and own just 1 percent of the means of production.

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  36. nancy said on March 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I think he should have left this blog item, which he describes as an outtake, in the story. It would have made the piece much meatier.

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  37. Peter said on March 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Well, it being Ash Wednesday, here’s something you can’t do in a typical office anymore:

    Years back when my sister was working for the state, her boss would walk through the office in the late afternoon with his full ashtray and offer to dispense ashes for the Catholics.

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  38. moe99 said on March 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    What a great column and comments today!

    Here’s my contribution, stolen from a friend’s FB post:

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  39. Julie Robinson said on March 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Well, you know those Kitchen Aids do have big motors…

    Prospero, our nephew was born the same day as your daughter, or technically the next day in the wee hours. It was a long labor and in the waiting room we watched endless loops of Reagan’s inauguration and the release of the hostages. Why we had decided it would be fun to go to the hospital and wait escapes me.

    About 10 years ago the Parade of Homes advertised Fort Wayne’s first ever million dollar home. (I know, I know, but homes here are really cheap–you can be happy in one for 100K.) We all wanted to go see what the big deal was to cost that much. It was just plain tacky, although it did have an indoor pool, which is forever my dream. If I remember correctly the owner was Indian or Pakistani, so picture a Bollywood musical on steroids to get the idea. And lots of gilding.

    Keep the heartwarming stories coming, we can all use them.

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  40. LAMary said on March 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Here at the Catholic hospital where I work Father Mark will come to your office and give you ashes. Since I’m not Catholic and I work with a semi-crazed evangelical protestant I don’t see this as a stop on Father Mark’s rounds.

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  41. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Alas and alack, I cannot feel much joy today because of the stunning revelation that some of the people who work at NPR are liberals. (Sob.) Who knew? But there are two less of them than there were yesterday as both Schiller (who are unrelated) resigned after getting snookered by that chinless shithead who brought down ACORN.

    I suppose what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It was a gotcha trick that provoked Wisconsin governor and Koch brothers rentboy Scott Walker to admit to the real reasons for his attack on unions. So,I guess it’s fine that Little Jimmy O’Keefe claimed a couple of public radio scalps after the head of the NPR Foundation described teabaggers as racist idiots.

    The difference, of course, is that Walker will continue to be a creep devoted to the destruction of working people and their protections, but NPR will now demonstrate to the world at large that it is not liberal by going out of its way to fluff teabaggers and rightwing boneheads. Maybe Fox and Friends can host a show over there now?

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  42. Jolene said on March 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Agree, Nance, some of that material would have helped. But mostly, I think the piece lacks a reason to be. Doesn’t seem like, in all his learning about the city, he really struck on an interesting idea about it that he wanted to convey. He gets close in discussing the “interloper becomes defender” idea, but that theme isn’t well developed. Too bad.

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  43. Bitter Scribe said on March 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Nancy–Whenever I read about a Frank Lloyd Wright building, especially a house, there always seems to be a description of how unusable it is (astronomical heating/cooling bills, flooding, a fancy unsupported eave keeps falling down, whatever). From what I know of Wright, he was blind and deaf to such concerns, as though the problems of mere mortals attempting to live or work in the buildings he designed were of no consequence to a genius like himself.

    Plus, I don’t think his boxy style is all that attractive in the first place. Wright is a charter member of my personal Overrated Club.

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  44. Jolene said on March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Here’s another mood-lifter–a sweet song by a woman who wants to have Stephen Fry’s baby. There’s also a clip in which the lyrics are a little less clear, but it’s worth a quick look to see how embarrassed Fry is when she sings the song to him.

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  45. Dexter said on March 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Many of us have had Good Samaritans stop and help us, I see. I have been the benefactor of anonymous help, too, and I also believe that I have the obligation of the heart to help when I can.
    Forty-one years ago I had a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 that I drove all around as much of California as I possibly could on my off-time from my army duties near Monterey. One day I was exploring a rural roadway not far from the Bayshore Freeway in the Palo Alto foothills near Los Altos and Mountain View.
    On a particularly quiet section of the road I spotted an elderly couple standing outside their new car, broken down. I stopped to offer assistance and they were so grateful and happy just for the fact that I was trying to help…they had been there a couple hours, of course this was way before cell phones. They had obviously encountered road debris which had cut a radiator hose and they had lost their coolant. I drove to a gas station and the guy rented a water can to me for a $20 deposit, and I bought some kind of plastic tape at a little store, taped up the hose, dumped the water in, and told them to get home and call somebody to get the car back to their dealer to get a new hose put on. And to me, this was really, really, no big deal.
    Except to them. I remember the man’s name…he wrote it on a piece of paper.
    He told me he would write to me when I was in Vietnam, he offered me a fifty dollar bill, which I vehemently refused. His wife thanked me profusely and said she had prayed for an angel and I was that angel. Me. Right. But whatever, it’s been all these decades and that little event which I experienced and quickly moved away from keeps fresh in my mind when I read stories like this.
    The rewards in helping are so much more than maybe sticking a little cash in your pocket…this is much more than that. It’s really not paying back or forward, or anything like that; it’s just doing the right thing.
    J.O. Whetzel, San Jose California. I am sure he has passed away many years ago…he’d probably be 116 or so if he was alive. And I never wrote him, of course.

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  46. Deborah said on March 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Well Bitter Scribe, I could not disagree with you more about FLW. As a person I think he was probably a royal asshole, but as a designer he was a genius. That meme about his houses/buildings falling apart is a bad rap. Part of it had to do with the fact that he was always pushing the outside of the envelope and contractors had a hard time keeping up with his ideas. Eventually they learned how to build it right (or Wright).

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  47. Jolene said on March 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    David Broder died today. He’d taken a lot of hits in recent years for being too much of an insider, too centrist to call people out in tough ways. But I rather liked his old-school gentlemanliness, his basic decency, and his obvious interest in really listening to people.

    Dan Balz, who is similar in style and spirit, has written an appreciation of him, and the Post has republished a very fine column commenting on the 1992 riots in LA and, more generally, on racial issues in the US. Of course, there’s also a detailed obit.

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  48. prospero said on March 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    JeffB, didn’t Mr. Schiller just express a personal opinion about the Teapotties that is totally in sync with what Americans that aren’t members or politically beholden also think about the Mad as Hell? Isn’t it illegal to videotape a private citizen surreptitiously? At the very least, somebody should civil-action his scrawny ass into financial oblivion. Why isn’t that turd in jail for breaking into Mary Landrieux’ office. Why doesn’t somebody thrash him. I’ve made a mental note of his appearance, and he can even tape me applying the beating. And use it as proof there are liberal thugs. And I’d imagine people like Soros, and some of those raving socialist Hollywood types could fund better counter-programming. Will there be airwave access? Problem is, Congressional Republics will try to make licensing part of the purge and turn radio into a vast ClearChannel wasteland? What bugs me more than anything about this, is the “liberal” canard. What bias? Examples please? Best I’ve ever heard them come up with is “Gwen Ifill was mean to McCain in a debate, and they know she’s an anti-American leftist ( what a moronic misapprehension of the term–leftists were Communists and sympathizers that fought Franco, the Gadaffi of his era), because, horreurs, who ever heard of a black woman on TV news”.

    Velvet: Your daughters note is graceful and expressive, and considerably better than most adults could manage. The Oz reference is sharp writing. Electronic medium is sensible for somebody with so much going on. The great thank you note will be some accounts of her experience. I’m looking forward to dispatches, and a small share in your pride of a hard-working, thoughtful kid. Undoutedly, participation is good for college applications, too. Good luck to Phoebe.

    I’ve been to Fallingwater House, to Taliesin, and to the Arizona Biltmore and find all of them gorgeous. I’ve also written construction specs for a very long time, and it’s a fact that if Architectural and construction details and material specs are left to actual architects, things will leak, for sure, and maybe fall apart, and construction and operating costs will be exorbitant. For the Biltmore, Wright wanted a concrete block in a specific design. Nothing else would do, so he purchase a custom block factory from somewhere in SAmerica, had it retooled and imported it to the Mojave.

    This is the kind of thing that causes Architects to use the term “It wants to be…” Like a loony guy I worked with on a restoration of a public Library in Newton MA that got it into his head that new carrels should be custom-built of an endangered wood species called pau lope. Shit is so hard it has to be pre-drilled for assembly with gigantic drill presses, which might good for an anti-graffiti measure, but is a construction and cost nightmare. Standard is red oak. One night, to my horror, he tried to talk a town design board, made up of civic-minded save-the earth types into this absurdity. I put that to a stop by bringing up the tree’s endangered rain-forest status. This is what architects are like, and Wright was an absolute autocrat, and somewhat nuts, kind of like Caligula, or, according to TC Boyle, a great deal like Caligula..

    Anyway, these structures may not function well, but they are fascinating and beautiful work, in pitch perfect tune with their surroundings and settings, perfectly organic massing (admittedly difficult to mess up in the vastness of the desert) and site orientation.

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  49. Dexter said on March 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    David Broder loved Beaver Island , Michigan. I always read his dispatches from there, as I have made the ferry trip from Charlevoix too, a few times. Broder spent his summers there. Here is a story he wrote six years ago telling us about Homeland Security on the island.

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  50. Kirk said on March 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I feel the same way about Broder. I had the pleasure of meeting him several years ago. He was in town for a meeting, and he agreed to come over and address our newsroom staff on his own time. Before he was introduced, we chatted and he was as regular as could be. It turned out that we had similar backgrounds and had gotten into the business in similar ways. He indeed did seem to take genuine interest in what I had to say.

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  51. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm


    O’Keefe and his fellow Breitbartians were given probation for the Landrieux break-in. I can’t see how anything he has done or tried to do –remember his efforts to try to seduce an attractive CNN correspondent– runs afoul of his probation. He’s an asshole of the highest order, but a legal asshole, it seems.

    The bottom line is the guy from NPR should have kept his cool. Yes, the teabaggers do include a very large contingent of drooling racists, conspiracy nuts and just plain shit-scared white folks. Yes, they carried signs advocating violence (remember “We came unarmed. . .this time!”) and racial taunts. Yes, they spit on a civil rights legend as he made his way to the capital. But a man in his position needs to be more circumspect.

    Meanwhile, I am very nervous about the freak show Rep. Peter King, the erstwhile defender of IRA terrorism for many, many years, who will creating when he begins hearings tomorrow probing the American Muslim community, which he says is radicalized and dangerous. This, of course, will play so well with American Muslims, who already are scorned by so much of our country, not to mention the 1.5 billion overseas, who will watch intently as their entire religion is indicted by the nation that fancies itself God’s beacon of truth and goodness

    It will be as nauseating as it is dangerous.

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  52. ROgirl said on March 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Republicans are ginning up a case to cut NPR funding and the secretly taped meeting plays right into their hands. By the way, wasn’t Roger Ailes recorded suborning perjury?

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  53. coozledad said on March 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    King tries to make a qualitative difference between terrorists, saying “The IRA never attacked the US.” So it’s fine with him to support a terrorist organization, one whose early adherents backed away in disgust because its political aims had been completely eclipsed by a program of slaughter for its own sake?
    Maybe one of the major networks will show the picture of the Catholic girl the pricks tarred and feathered because she was seeing a British soldier.
    Paul Theroux:
    The clearest memory I have of the whole nasty Ulster mess, of cruelty and bloody-mindedness, is a newspaper picture of a skinny teenaged Irish girl whose boyfriend was a British soldier: tarred and feathered, gleaming black, with white tufts stuck to her body, her head shaven, terrified, pushed along a street by a howling mob of Catholics. She looked like an alien to me, suffering the alien’s fate of rejection – in her case, extreme and humiliating.
    Or the blood spattered floors of a couple of London pubs cut apart with nail bombs.
    His ass needs to be remanded to British custody, along with Qaddafi, as quickly as possible. Imbecile.

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  54. LAMary said on March 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Cooz, there are plenty of people in NY state and New England who send money to the IRA. I’ve run into them. People who have never been to Ireland but had a grandmother who was Irish feel the need to help the boys out. It isn’t cheap to blow up schoolbuses you know.

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  55. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Yeah, Cooz, but instead this sack of pus is an elder statesman.

    What really frosts me is that no one ever takes these fools behind the barn door to tell them what they are doing hurts the United States. These so-called patriots are doing great harm. Ask our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq how great it is that the legislative body of America looks to be targeting Muslims because of their faith. While these fine men and women risk their lives to build relationships with those who might help them in those godforsaken nations, our elected officials cut their legs out from under them with this kind of bullshit grandstanding.

    And, as noted, having a terrorism apologist like King leading the charge is beyond obscene.

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  56. Julie Robinson said on March 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    May I borrow “teapotties”?

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  57. A.Riley said on March 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    As an auxiliary member of the FLlW cult (we live three blocks from the Home & Studio in Oak Park, Illinois), I have to pipe up. Yes, Mr. Wright was an autocratic monster who went so far as to design the clothes for his clients’ wives to wear so they wouldn’t clash with the house, and yes, his houses are famous for leaking, but he was indeed a genius. His spaces (unlike his furniture) are very human and livable, even when they’re built on a grand scale. The Marin County Civic Center is one of his latest works and it spans a set of small hills and valleys so harmonically, so beautifully — it really is a work of art. You can tour it — they hand out little self-guiding maps. We toured it thoroughly and knew we were in Marin when we came out behind and above the building to find a couple of people doing tai chi in the golden sunlight.

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  58. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm


    Here’s something Rep. Peter King, R-IRA, will not investigate during his Muslim Bash-a-Thon:

    “A magistrate clerk at the U.S. District Court in Spokane said that Kevin William Harpham is scheduled to make an initial appearance Wednesday afternoon in Spokane. Harpham was arrested Wednesday near Addy, Stevens County.

    “Harpham, 36, has been charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of knowingly possessing an improvised explosive device, according to a complaint that was unsealed Wednesday.

    “An FBI source in Washington, D.C., said one man was arrested Wednesday outside a home near Addy. Agents, including a bomb expert from Quantico, Va., were preparing to search a house where others associated with the suspect may be living, the source said.

    “The suspect is believed to be affiliated with white supremacists, the source said.”

    See, white supremacists with real bombs are not the problem. It’s the fucking Moooslims in Dearborn you gotta worry about.

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  59. paddyo' said on March 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    So much to chew on today, so little time . . .

    But when I looked at those MLS pix of the Russian Mafia house, I kept thinking, “Where have I seen something like this before?”
    And then it came back to me: A year ago last week, HuffPost ran a dandy little photo gallery of El Windbaggio Ru$hbaugh’s Fifth Avenue penthouse for sale. (Asking price then? Just a TripleByPass Burger or three under $14 million.)

    OK, I realize it ain’t quite as, um, opulent (awful-pulent?) as today’s example, but it’s packed with much the same overkilling bad taste.

    Just this past Sunday, a friend of mine lost his wallet on a bike ride through Denver, and the next day, a non-English-speaking Mexican woman phoned his cellphone to tell him she’d found it. (Fortunately he speaks fluent Spanish.) She and her husband refused a cash reward from Alan when they returned him the wallet and all its contents, undisturbed, at a burger-joint meet-up. He had posted about it on his Facebook page, and I commented with a link to that fine “The Tire Iron and the Tamale” piece from Sunday’s NYT magazine back page.

    I know we all express awe and wonder when we hear about these cases. Have we so lost the fight to maintain basic civility that it will ever be thus?

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  60. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    For those who doubt the raw, animal magnetism Newt Gingrich possesses, please check out the photograph at Sadly No.

    No wonder the wimmin will not leave this smoking hot hunk o’ political power alone!

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  61. coozledad said on March 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    It’s clear that Newt’s current wife was so concerned about bone loss, she latched onto him for the “rich calcium goodness” of his “downy milkbags”. (He misrepresented those, too.)

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  62. LAMary said on March 9, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Perhaps incorrectly I think of Newt’s wives as having some interest in him. Unlike Rush’s wives who seem like random gold digging women, each more attractive and unlikely than her predecessor. Wasn’t the second Mrs. Limbaugh an aerobics instructor he met on the internet? I get the vibe off that group that Rush never gets near them and they’re happy about that. They wave bye bye as he flies off for another guys only trip to the Dominican Republic.

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  63. LAMary said on March 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I just had the time to read the tire story. In the 28 years I’ve lived in LA, in a part of town that’s mostly Hispanic, I’ve had things like this happen too many times to count. I’ve had help with the kids, help with my car, a group of guys come over and clear my brush and weeds for fire season (they did the house next door where one of them lived and figured they could just come over and do my two lots as a favor). People who don’t have a lot of stuff help each other out because they realize it works better that way.
    Once I was grocery shopping, newly on my own after the ex became ex, and after loading a lot of mostly perishable stuff into my car, the car would not start. An incredibly nice guy named Ed tried to get the car started. He had no luck so he offered to drive me and the kids home, wait for me to unload the groceries and call a tow truck. Maybe I was really stupid for accepting this offer from a stranger, but we did it. And instead of calling a tow truck Ed called his brother who came with us, back to the car, and saw there was a loose wire going to the starter motor. Car was fixed, food wasn’t melted in the heat and Ed and his brother would not accept anything. I’ve seen him around the neighborhood a few times since and he always asks how the kids are.
    So I keep trying to pay it back for Ed and Eladia and Maria Elena and Javier and Mario and Maria and Xochitl and Zaida. At least three of these very good people are here illegally and have kids in the public schools. I’m glad my taxes are spent on those kids.

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  64. Dexter said on March 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Kirk, Broder must have been an amazing child. He entered U of Chicago at age 15 and received a B.A. in Liberal Arts at age 18.
    I never met him but he seemed so familiar, having appeared on Meet the Press over 400 times, which is a record, as Brian Williams reported tonight.
    I read his columns sporadically, but I really loved his posts from Beaver Island; he was most sad when it was time to leave and go back to the grind.
    Oh how that man loved to pick berries on Beaver Island.

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  65. Dexter said on March 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Very nice, LAM. Years ago when I subbed to Bicycling Magazine, a man was interviewed who had ridden a bike “around the world”. He was asked if he had been scared when travelling through the hostile lands, which were plenty on his journey. He said “I was not. I believe there are more good people in the world than bad people–the odds favored me.” Simple, eh?

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  66. moe99 said on March 9, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Looks like the WI GOP revealed their true hand and have decertified the public employees union. That’s what it was all about, all the time.

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  67. brian stouder said on March 9, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Moe, isn’t this amazing? Truly – I find the naked political depravity of this turn of events astounding.

    And Nance’s Michigan is ready to empower a state government man to blow into any town in the state and supercede and usurp ALL local government, and abrogate any and all contracts, and make all decisions going forward?

    The Republican party is “conservative” of what?

    Honestly, as this evening ends, I am gobsmacked.

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  68. Crazycatlady said on March 9, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I was reading an article about that roll of film that was found in New York’s Central Park by a Cross Country skier and his quest for the owner on Yahoo. The guy finally found the person the film belonged to after searching 5 countries. She was in Paris. The vile comments on the message board were so hateful. A man wanted to do a good thing and people were bitching about “why bother” and “waste of time” and “jobless loser” to describe an act of kindness. Doesn’t anybody do good for the Fun of it anymore? And i you would like to see the article- the one on Boing Boing has the beautiful ‘City In Winter’ photos!

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  69. Linda said on March 10, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Crazycatlady, I don’t even read most comment threads anymore, because they are infested by bitter, frustrated people with a grudge against life, and some trolls who amuse themselves stirring up shit. Don’t take it as some sort of cross-section of life or society. The internet has given a megaphone to people who used to gripe in truck stops and greasy spoons during the lunch hour, and could only annoy people sitting a couple of stools away at the counter. Most people are probably like you, and mildly pleased/amused at this act of kindness.

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  70. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 10, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I was born in a cross-fire hurricane.

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  71. Dave said on March 10, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Yes, Linda, you’ve hit it exactly, the Internet, for good and evil, has magnified very much and now we all get to learn about it immediately. Are there truly far more bad things happening or do we get to learn about them instantly? The comments are frequently nasty, with an occasional one that someone put thought into. Sometimes, I scroll through them if its something that interests me.

    OTOH, were it not for the Internet, gathering places like this would also not exist and the conversations that go on everyday, but we all know that.

    Greatest act of kindness ever shown to our family was when we were involved in a freak auto accident in Valdosta, GA, twenty years ago this summer, just off I-75. My wife was hospitalized, our kids were 9, 7, and 3, and the man who managed the Marriott hotel at that exit, came out to us and said, we’ll gather up your luggage and take it to a room, your family is welcome to stay for as long as needed.

    We were there a week until my wife could travel home, he refused to take any compensation for the room, had us to his home, our kids were roughly the same age as his kids, it was a wonderful kindness shown to us in a bad time.

    There were several nice things done for us that week, his, although the biggest, wasn’t the only one.

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