Dutchday, anyone?

This isn’t my idea — it’s John Carpenter’s, my former Grosse Pointe buddy who now lives in Chicago — but it’s a good one, and I’m stealing it. A little background:

Today’s issue of the Metro Times features a remarkably lousy interview with Elmore Leonard. It’s lousy for many reasons, starting with the cliché on the the cover (“The Dickens of Detroit”) and running throughout the copy, which in several thousand words manages to turn up practically nothing about the man that isn’t already known. With no obvious hook — a new book or movie to promote — the writer asks no questions that haven’t already been asked a million times. Leonard gives the same answers he’s already given a million times, which makes him look like a bore, but what else can he do? How many times can he describe his writing routine, or why he thinks the movies made from his books almost all suck?

What’s more, there are some remarkable omissions. There’s no mention of “Justified,” the TV series based on his work, which is running new episodes now and would have presented some new ground to plow, had the writer noticed. There’s no mention of his son Peter, who recently launched his own writing career and now appears with his father when he (pére) is book-touring. And there’s a ton of description of Leonard’s painstaking research that fails to mention that he doesn’t do his own research anymore. He hasn’t for years. He pays a guy to do it for him, which is an unusual arrangement right there. His researcher, Gregg Sutter, has been the subject of many stories in his own right, and I for one find their relationship interesting. But Gregg isn’t mentioned anywhere.

You expect crap like this from Entertainment Weekly, but not from the alt-weekly in Leonard’s own hometown, which should know him better than anyone.

But that’s not the point of this. The point is that if someone is looking for a fresh angle on Leonard, I have an idea. Or rather, John Carpenter had it: We need a Dutchday in Detroit.

Dutchday — I like the one-word usage better than Dutch Day — would be based on Bloomsday in Dublin. The whole city celebrates on June 16, the day described at great length in “Ulysses,” in which Leopold Bloom wanders the city and has lots of interior monologues. Among the many activities of Bloomsday is to retrace Leopold’s steps, stop at places mentioned in the novel, and read those passages aloud.

I think we could easily put together a tour of Detroit where we could do the same thing. There would be some problems I can see right up front. Leonard’s books range widely over the metro area, from Detroit to Macomb to Oakland to Port Huron, and doing it by bus wouldn’t be the same thing. So, say, we’d limit it to those places that can be easily reached by bicycle. A bike tour of Elmore Leonard venues, on a weekend close to his birthday, which I believe is in early October. So, a bike tour of Leonard’s Detroit venues in the fall, one of the prettiest months of the year here. With a small PA system for the read-aloud portions, which you could tow in a bike trailer. It would all wind up in some pub for lager and discussion. Maybe the Dickens of Detroit could be persuaded to join us for a signing, and to sell a few books. Now that’s a story, Metro Times.

Who’s with me? I’m serious.

If anyone in Baltimore hasn’t done this with the works of Laura Lippman, they should do that, too.

So, bloggage:

So now it’s a right-wing group here in Michigan who’s gone a-FOIAing for college-professor dirt, that’s if you describe union activities as dirt:

The Mackinac Center, which describes itself as a nonpartisan research and educational institution and receives money from numerous conservative foundations, asked the three universities’ labor studies faculty members for any e-mails mentioning “Scott Walker,” “Madison,” “Wisconsin” or “Rachel Maddow,” the liberal talk show host on MSNBC.

The Mackinac Center hasn’t stated a reason for the request — it doesn’t have to — but the conventional wisdom is that public employees are prohibited from political activities on company time or with company resources, so if they can find one e-mail where a professor says, “I saw on Rachel Maddow that the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, is a fink, and that he lives in Madison,” well, jackpot!!!!!

Note to the Mackinac Center: One of the libraries at Wayne State is named for Walter Reuther. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. I don’t know what to say about this, other than: Enough. I know it’s fashionable in some circles to fly-speck every minute of public employees’ time, to find whether they’ve cheated, somehow, using “taxpayers’ time” to send personal e-mail or shop for shoes online or whatever. I know every job in the world includes some down time, which may be used to call one’s doctor or fill out NCAA brackets or whatever. Let me know when it gets ridiculous, but for now, this is cheap bullying and harassment, and the people who run the Mackinac Center should be ashamed.

(Most people know other conservative groups are doing this in Wisconsin, and if you haven’t read the target’s extremely reasonable response, you should.)

A couple of you have asked me, over the years, why I wasn’t more taken with Jennifer Granholm, the now-former governor of Michigan. She appears on national chat shows from time to time, and always impresses the rest of the country as attractive, personable, reasonable and articulate. She is all those things. She is also not much of a leader, who let two terms pass while the state’s economy went into a ditch, without doing much more than talking about it — in a very articulate manner, granted.

Now she’s taking a page from the Evan Bayh playbook. She just accepted a richly compensated seat on the board of Dow Chemical.

A Michigan company, granted. Still. I’ll also grant the absurdity of a conservative editorial writer calling this “a payoff” for tax breaks Granholm steered the company’s way when she was in office, as this happens regularly in Republican politics, and is called Works Well With Business. Still. The ex-guv and her husband both recently accepted two-year teaching positions at the University of California at Berkeley. I guess this is part of the let-the-well-refill strategy all politicians seem to think they deserve once they leave office.

Finally, an obit for a San Francisco food writer, whom I wish I’d known. Among her last words: Never eat margarine! A woman after my own heart.

Work beckons. Have a great day, all.

Posted at 9:51 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media |

54 responses to “Dutchday, anyone?”

  1. Connie said on March 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I just read nn.c on the taxpayer’s time.

    When I saw the DutchDay headline I thought it would be something special for your resident “Dutch girls” LAMary and I. Oh well. Elmore Leonard will do.

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  2. Dorothy said on March 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Speaking of San Francisco, in about a week I should know for sure if we are going there in May. Mike is waiting for approval for a class he wants to take and I’m going along if he gets the green light for the class. I’m very excited! I’ve never been further west than Wichita so you can imagine how much fun I’m going to have on this trip. I have to force myself to remember that it’s not approved yet. But the minute it IS – BANG – I’m making my flight reservations! We’re going to spend a few days in Napa Valley after the class is done. I’m putting the idea out there now in case any nn.c fans are in the area and could meet me for lunch May 9-10-11 that week.

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  3. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Dutchday is a great idea, but shouldn’t it be named for a character? Although Mr. Leonard, as I knew him as a kid in the mid-60s, is certainly acharacter. The summer swimming team for me and my brothers was the Birmingham Surf Club, of which Elmore Leonard was a member. the club did not open for recreation until after our 9-11 practices every day, with one exception. Elmore Leonard would take a lounge chair armed with one of those lap desks (which he may have invented, nobody’d ever seen one before), Bic pens, and yellow legal pads. He’d spend the two hours writing. We thought he was fascinating because none of were used to seeing an adult that scruffy in J. Walter Thompson territory.

    To this day, I wonder why he found the raucous swimming practices a background conducive to writing, and why no adults ever thought it a bad idea to let this shady looking guy into practice with a bunch of 7-15 year old kids in tank suits. He would occasionally buy a round of Eskimo Pies and Drumsticks from the snack bar for the team, but he never showed up for a meet.

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  4. Deborah said on March 30, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I think your Elmore Leonard Dutchday idea is brilliant. I love to find the real places that have been settings in books I’ve read. I know I’ve mentioned this before but on a business trip in Ireland I went to the Martello tower that was the setting for beginning of Ulysses. I saw the fireplace where Buck Mulligan cooked bacon (rashers), etc. I love stuff like that.

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  5. Laura Lippman said on March 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

    He deserves Dutchday and it’s a shame they didn’t speak of Justified; I’ve heard he’s quite pleased with it.

    There is a Tess Monaghan map of Baltimore, designed and distributed in ’08 by my lovely publisher. I have a copy in my office, waiting to be framed. More people probably come to trace the steps of the “Homicide” cops and “The Wire’s” criminals.

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  6. LAMary said on March 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I’m with Connie on this one. If Dutchday is going to be used for someone else, we’ll take Frisian Day, and I for one am willing to share it with those huge horses and the cows who give milk so lovely it’s the only kind used to make Reggiano Parmagiano.

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  7. Connie said on March 30, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Dorothy, if you go to SF, ask me about fabric shops before you go.

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  8. Dorothy said on March 30, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I will, Connie. But we aren’t renting a car until the class is done – that would be Thursday morning when we get the car. I could conceivably stop at a store that morning on the way to Napa. I am going to research yarn shops as well. Better bring an extra suitcase, huh?

    Deborah I did something sort of like that in May 2004 when I went to Ireland. I was thrilled to walk through Trinity College where they had filmed “Educating Rita”, one of my favorite movies. Of course the college itself had some mighty neat things to see, one of which was the old library and the Book of Kells. The dust in the library about killed me, though. I don’t mean I was sneezing – I just had to resist the urge to get some Kleenex out of my bag and wipe down the busts that were coated in it!

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  9. Connie said on March 30, 2011 at 11:16 am

    You won’t need a car. There is a phenomenal high end fabric store just off Union Square in the central city, and the BART train will take you right under the bay to within a block of Stone Mountain and Daughters in Berkeley. And Chez Panisse is almost across the street but make your reservation as soon as you can.

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  10. LAMary said on March 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Dorothy, don’t rent a car in SF. The public transportation is good and the parking is expensive and bad. There are so many great places withing walking distance of each other as Connie said.
    Trust us, we’re Frisian.

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  11. 4dbirds said on March 30, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Dorothy, my husband and I are taking a similar vacation only in the fall. We fly into LA to spend time with my sister, will take the train to SF and visit friends and then go up to Napa to meet other friends. I’m so looking forward to it as we haven’t had a vacation in years.

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  12. Deborah said on March 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Dorothy, I saw the Book of Kells too. It was a big event for me because I’ve done a lot of book design in my day. I was disappointed that I could only see one spread in the case though. I loved Dublin, and one of my favorite parts was having Guiness Stout there. Here in the US, I can’t stand Guiness in cans or bottles, but over there on tap it was heavenly. I don’t like it on tap here either. Why is that?

    Regarding looking for locations in movies, one time in New Mexico we went on a hunt for locations in the movie Easy Rider, we found the natural hot springs in Taos where the characters were skinny dipping and we think we found the place where the commune was in Rio Hondo or Rio Seco, I forget which. Also there is one scene from that movie where Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda are on their motorcycles and we swear they ride right by our land, you can see Sierra Negra which is the mountain that our finger mesa comes off of.

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  13. Dorothy said on March 30, 2011 at 11:59 am

    We aren’t getting a car for the first part of the SF trip (if we go – I have to keep saying that or I’ll jinx the trip) because Mike will be in the class Monday thru Wednesday. The car will be for when we check out of the hotel on Thursday morning and head to Napa Valley.

    Arrival will be Mother’s Day – and we’ll be staying in the downtown area I believe so I’ll get around on a bus, on foot or other public transportation. Thanks Connie for the two excellent suggestions! I hear thrift shops are a big deal there, too, so I might have to browse them a bit. I’ll have lots of time to fill – but I can sit and read or knit and thoroughly enjoy the chance to rest my brain from work and just soak up the surroundings.

    edit: Just found out the hotel where the class/conference is – the Marriott in Union Square. How luck can I get?!

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  14. JC said on March 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I rarely comment, but read daily, but had to come by to thank NN.C and followers for alerting me to the greatness that is The Wire. I’m a very late adopter, despite the rave reviews I heard at the time, and I have no excuse (well, except that I was in law school and working full-time during its initial run on HBO). When I saw it was being re-run starting with season 1, I began watching. Last week was the season finale of season 3 and I am so hopelessly hooked. And I love that every time a character is reading a paperback, it’s a Baltimore author. I would love to take a Tess Monaghan tour of Baltimore.

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  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Of course, Deborah, you can always hunt locations for “Red Dawn” up in your occasional neck of the woods . . .

    Laura, I’d be a bit nervous about looking for location shots from “Homicide” or “The Wire.” As a tall, nerdy, middle-class white guy, that’s probably not entirely fair, but when I was last in Baltimore and mentioned at dinner in Camden Yards that my wife and I had gone looking for the Poe House and walked around it, frustrated that the place was closed with no sign for when it was next open (this was about ten years ago), the whole table of Baltimoreans swiveled to gaze at me oddly. Eyebrows cocked as if to say “and yet you sit here among us, the living.”

    A “Diner” movie tour I might try on my own . . .

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  16. hexdecimal said on March 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Dorthy – A few must do’s for a first visit To San Fran.

    Ride a cable car down to the pier.

    At the pier, if your lucky, you’ll see Golden Gate and Alcatraz. I got to see the bottom half of the bridge and no Alcatraz because of the fog.

    Next, while at the pier, smell the seals. Look at them too, but you’ll smell them long before you see them.

    Next, hike up the hill to Ghirardelli’s and have some chocolate. Then hike back down and ride the cable back to town.

    Finally – catch a cab over to AT&T park and see the SF Giant’s in night game. You’ll get to see the world series trophy while there.

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  17. Little Bird said on March 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    About the Red Dawn movie locales, I’ve seen at least one of them. In Las Vegas New Mexico, there is an old hotel where parts of the movie were filmed. It is right next to the train station. The hotel used to be a famous place, and had a a really fancy restaurant. No idea why it was in that particular location. The hotel is abandoned now, but is an amazing building.

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  18. MichaelG said on March 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I was at the Santa Ana / Orange County Civic Center and had time to kill before an appointment. I happened to be reading a T. Jefferson Parker novel. There was a scene in the OC Sheriff’s office and lo and behold, I looked up to see the OC Sheriff’s office just across the street.

    It’s also fun to follow Harry Bosch in downtown LA and in the Valley. If you are going somewhere it’s easy to take a little detour.

    Chez Pannise is in the heart of the Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto. I used to live two blocks away on Bonita St. The original Peet’s coffee is just around the corner from CP. Great neighborhood. I miss it.

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  19. Rana said on March 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    My two brushes with movie locations were both unintentional. The first was when some company decided to film a pretty awful supernatural-nuns-horror thing on our college campus. Not only did they manage to do profoundly weird things with the geography of the campus in the editing process, but they also royally pissed off the students who had the misfortune to be in dorms next to the cast trailers. Those things had loud generators that ran all night, and when they were filming next to the dorm, the residents were supposed to stay inside and not make any noise or disruptions. This being Reed, it didn’t take long before people were shouting rude things out the windows and hanging annoying banners.

    The other happened during a family road trip in the Pacific Northwest. We stopped in at the town of Roslyn, Washington, looking for lunch. There was only one promising-looking place in town, a sort of restaurant-café-bar, so we headed for it. It wasn’t until we got close and got a look in the windows that we realized it was a movie set – Roslyn was, it turned out, where Northern Exposure was filmed, and we’d mistaken The Brick (where much of the interactions between the characters occurs) for a real restaurant. Since at the time none of us had heard of the series (I later came to watch and enjoy it), we were very disappointed. (And hungry.)

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  20. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Eric Cantor takes the third rail in both hands. What a maroon. And he’s the GOPlutocrat whiz kid.

    Justified is excellent, and the characters and settings are nostalgic for me. My dad worked in a hospital funded by Kaiser that provided free care, mostly for UMW members, across the river from Williamson, WV, in Turkey Creek KY. One of my brothers was born in Turkey Creek. My dad was also chief of Pediatrics at Metropolitan Hospital12th & Tuxedo, Detroit, which was associated with the UAW, and Walter Reuther’s grandchildren were some of his patients. I met Mr. Reuther on several occasions as a teenager. Yes, we were raised pinko.

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  21. Connie said on March 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I saw the Dr. Doolittle circus scenes being filmed in San Francisco. Circus was next to Fisherman’s Wharf.

    For great seafood I recommend Scoma’s, http://www.scomas.com/?, several piers down from Fisherman’s Wharf. Actually all of my SF seafood experiences have been excellent. And the best late night bar view in town is the restaurant at the top of the Grand Hyatt near Union Square.

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  22. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    profoundly weird things with the geography

    I think The Verdict is a great movie, but Boston area locations can really interfere with my attention span. At some poin, Paul Newman’s character says they have to go to Arlington to interview the key witness nurse. Next scene a long steep, hill lined with ear to jowl three-deckers, and the beach visible at the bottom of the street. Arlington’s flat and landlocked. This happens less with TV shows set in Boston, I don’t know why the lawyers in the movie just say they were going to Reveah, or Southie.

    I’d like to see the Bradbury Building in LA. Amazing setting for tense cat-and-mouse between Deckard and Roy Batty.

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  23. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I once rode several floors on an elevator at the St. Francis with Edward G. Robinson, speaking of SF. Very short, waaay dapper.

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  24. Dorothy said on March 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Hexi a Giants game is on our to-do list! I already checked – they are there for a few games that week. Thanks for the other tips too.

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  25. 4dbirds said on March 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I was watching Bones last week and they did a spoof on a Jersey Shore bunch. The cast navigated from DC to the Jersey Shore in minutes when it is 3 1/2 to 4 hours by car.

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  26. Michael said on March 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Count me in on helping to organize Duchday. Lot’s of fun possibilities there. How about a symposium of both real people who have appeared in the books and the real people that have obviously inspired some of the fictional characters.

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  27. JayZ(the original) said on March 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Deborah, I had the same reaction to Guinness when I was in Ireland. It was my drink of choice in the pubs, and I found it to be smooth and delicious. Whenever I had tried it here in the states I was never even able to finish a glass because of how bitter it tasted. The difference must have something to do with it changing while in containers during the shipping process.

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  28. LAMary said on March 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    There is some movie being shot outside my office door at this moment. Not sure what it is. The exterior of this hospital is used in a lot of TV shows and movies probably because it’s easy. We’re across the street from Disney, NBC Universal and a couple of blocks from Warner Brothers. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but my kids’ high school is in lots of commercials, movies and TV shows. It was in the Hot for Teacher video, Grease, The Hangover. You’d recognize it if you saw it.

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  29. Peter said on March 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    JayZ and Deborah, I may be very wrong here, and of course I could look it up, but I remember from my early days that beers exported to the US have to be pasteurized, which changes the composition. Whatever process has to be done for USDA approval, I know my parents only drink a few brands from the old country that seem to be OK for the US market.

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  30. A. Riley said on March 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    4dbird, if you’re taking the train from LA to SF, spring for a roomette so you can hang out in the first-class lounge car on that run – the Coast Starlight Pacific Parlour Car. It’s worth the extra $$, believe me, just for the pure charm of it.


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  31. paddyo' said on March 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Hey, a very belated (nearly 24 hours later; been too damned busy) reply to Deborah in yesterday’s short thread about McPaper:

    No problem, and no regrets needed, but thanks. I was just in a set-the-record-straight sort of mood. Yours was doubtless not the only first (mis)impression, and that oughta be a lesson to front-page layout editors about how they blend photos and heds and such . . .
    Anyway, no worries, and thanks again . . .

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  32. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Mackinac Center is non-partisan? Sure thing. I guess the Heritage Foundation is too, and Cato too, with which it shares or has shared board members. Oh, and funding from Koch Industries and the Amway People, the Waltons, and Erik Prince’s (Blackwater/XE) mom and pop. Why do they bother to claim nonpartisanship?

    Have mercy on the poor beleaguered Koch Bros.

    Surely, Florida voters were at least tangentially aware of Rick Scott’s Medicare shenanigans that garnered $1.7bill in fines when they voted for this crook. His latest scam should come as no surprise to anybody.

    I think Peter’s right about pasteurization, although I like Guinness on tap in the USA just fine. The most obvious difference for any brand between source and what you can buy here is Red Stripe, which is very good in Jamaica, sub-Pabst here.

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  33. Kirk said on March 30, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve spent far less time in San Francisco than I’d like, but I was there long enough to know that, if you’re at the pier, it takes no effort to smell the seals. In fact, you have no choice.

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  34. MichaelG said on March 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    The Bradbury Bldg is one of the places I looked up while following Harry Bosch. I had a job at the Reagan Bldg just a block away and managed to wander over during the course of one of my trips to Ellay. It’s beautifully restored and what a building. Much money spent on architectural details that you wouldn’t see today and billable square footage wasted. Developers would hate it today. There’s even a souvenier shop.

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  35. Peter said on March 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Oh MichaelG, I checked out the Bradbury Building during a trip in the mid ’70’s. It was spectacular. Between that, the Arcade Building nearby, the public library, and the train station, downtown LA is just just a delight.

    We also checked out Morrison Hotel and the original Hard Rock Cafe (I want to say it was on the street that turns into the main drag of Whittier). Our visit to Hard Rock was the white trash version of the roadhouse scene from Animal House.

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  36. coozledad said on March 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Joyce might have hit on the fundamental difference between Irish Guinness and the stuff served here:
    As he set foot on O’Connell bridge a puffball of smoke plumed up from the parapet. Brewery barge with export stout. England. Sea air sours it, I heard. Be interesting some day get a pass through Hancock to see the brewery. Regular world in itself. Vats of porter, wonderful. Rats get in too. Drink themselves bloated as big as a collie floating. Dead drunk on the porter. Drink till they puke.

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  37. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    GOP presidential nomination field has yet to scrape the bottom of the barrelPNAC original gangster asshole John Bolton, who wants to blow up the UN, is considering a run.

    Yeah, that John Bolton.

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  38. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Stout, and its medicinal and psychological uses (in verse).

    Flann O’Brien is an underappreciated novelist that everyone should read. Hilarious, and more accesible than J. Joyce:

    The Dalkey Archivewith James Joyce as heroic draft-dodger,faked death an hiding out as an humble publican

    At Swim Two Birds

    The Third Policeman

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  39. coozledad said on March 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    We done got ourselves into a “squirmish“.
    These are the people who need to be working in our mines and cleaning our toilets.

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  40. moe99 said on March 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Coozledad, I think it’s important not to forget that this woman majored in journalism……

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    It’s the foam of a properly pulled pint that makes all the difference in a Guinness.

    Little Bird, re: Las Vegas NM, you might enjoy “The Night Journal” by Elizabeth Crook. Lovely novel set in part on that spot, around that old hotel with the Fred Harvey girls and some odd corners of southwestern history. Somebody ought to make a movie of that one, for sure.

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  42. coozledad said on March 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Moe: I think squirmish is a neologism for things Sarah encounters when she’s out of her depth. Like flow charts. Or salad forks.
    Pimento-stuffed olives, pork skins and tanning booths are probably not squirmishes.

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  43. Deborah said on March 30, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Hey, I like pimento stuffed olives in my martinis. And apparently I like rat vomit in my Guinness in Ireland.

    Dorthy, another couple things to do in San Fran, there’s a great souffle restaurant called Cafe Jacqueline, at 1454 Grant Ave, in the North Beach Area. Also in the same area is City Lights Books where the beats hung out, founded by Ferlinghetti. Was also popular with Timothy Leary and his crowd. These are within walking distance of your hotel, not a short walk but a nice one.

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  44. nancy said on March 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Dorothy, whenever you go to SF, bring at least a long-sleeved hoodie. Yes, even if it’s 90 degrees in Ohio when you leave. Trust me. Pack it or buy it — your call.

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  45. LAMary said on March 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    SF also has great cookware stores. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but poke around. I have the greatest long handled tasting spoon and a cast iron grill from my trips there.

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  46. Jean S said on March 30, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I lived in SF for about 7 years, so I have lots of opinions. **cough**

    Ride the 30 Stockton bus from Union Square all the way to the Marina (it turns around near the Palace of Fine Arts). You can walk from there all the way to the base of the GG bridge, through the restored bayfront park. It’s spectacular.

    If you love touristy spots, sure, do the Ghiradelli/Pier 31 thing. But I’d vote for the restored Ferry Building @ the end of Market Street. One of the best restaurants in the city is there–The Slanted Door.

    And another terrific fabric shop, besides Britex in Union Square, is Satin Moon, out in the avenues. Not convenient to get to, though, so think about another bus ride. The two sisters who run the shop will know the best bus route(s) to get you there.

    Take your best walking shoes, in addition to that hoodie Nancy mentioned.

    Consider a trip up to Muir Woods. You need to see the big trees at least once in your life.

    Oh, I could go on and on…have a great trip!

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  47. Hexdecimal said on March 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Dorthy – Although Snopes says Mark Twain didn’t say it, it’s still most truly true “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer spent in San Francisco” I was there in Sept 2009 to take in 3 night games between the AZ Diamondbacks and the Giants. And I froze solid in all three. Daytime is mild, low 70s but at night 40s & 50s and with the fog thick enough to hide the outfielders, so I really suggest two hoodies. Also, they don’t sell beer in the isles, but they do sell hot chocolate. Ghirardelli’s of course. Oh, and you’ll be seeing the Diamondbacks, and if spring training was any indicator, you should see the Giants win. Enjoy!

    Edit: It was well over 100 when I left AZ to go to SF, so my freezing may have been due to that. Your mileage may very.

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  48. prospero said on March 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Who votes for idiots like this? Eric Cantor’s Government Shutdown Prevention Act. Jackass apparently needs Constitution lessons from Bachmann, assuming she understands that the House can dictate new laws, Senate be damned.

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  49. brian stouder said on March 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    You know, I remembered seeing a Youtube of Ms Lippman taking us around her Baltimore; went googling and found this


    which isn’t the one I remembered seeing, but it is superb nonetheless.

    Leaving aside city tours from novels, I am always (always always) transported in time and space, when the opportunity to visit a place like Springfield, Illinois; or Sharpsburg, Maryland; or Gettysburg, Pennsylvania arises; places I have read about again and again.

    But so far, I have never gotten closer to Washington DC than the (now legendary) “beltway”, which I foolishly got onto one afternoon around 4 pm.

    The plan is – sometime soon – loading up the whole crew and blocking out one week; and making daily visits into DC. I’m thinking maybe doing a package tour one day, and then doing self-guided visits to the various monuments and memorials and institutions on other days, is the way to go.

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  50. Connie said on March 30, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I will add my vote to Muir Woods. We did it on a Grey Line bus tour. Also don’t miss Alcatraz. Partly for the sight of the silent touring crowd in their audio headphones following the audio directionr, in a most amusing kind of “wave.”

    Britex is the fabric store of which I could not remember the name.

    I remember an ALA conference in SF in June at which everyone I knew went out to buy a coat.

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  51. Deborah said on March 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    One trip to San Fran in the summer I also remember having to buy a sweater. Tis true be prepared, it’s a wet cold, the worst kind.
    One trip out there we rented a convertible and drove down the coast. I remember getting horribly sun/wind burned, but it was a gorgeous drive.

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  52. Dexter said on March 31, 2011 at 2:15 am

    I’ve spent a lot of time in San Francisco but it’s been a few years now since…my last trip I came upon a “hoodie sale war” and bought a pocketed hoodie, very warm, for 10 bucks.
    A lot of people there just give up their cars and join the Zip Car system.

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  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 31, 2011 at 7:24 am

    For Brian and anyone else who cares (and I’m hoping this kind of link is the sort that doesn’t count against your twenty per thirty) — http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/lincoln-and-the-little-giant/

    I, for one, hope that the hat story is true.

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  54. brian stouder said on March 31, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Jeff – excellent link.

    Up ’til reading it, I’d never read anything that questioned whether Douglas held the new president’s hat during his inaugural address. Anyway, I (for two!) hope the hat story is true, too. And of course, Douglas would be dead within a few more weeks; the common narrative I’ve read is that he had worked so strenuously during both the election (in which he very actively campaigned [especially in the secessionist South] which was ahead of its time – but we digress) and the post-election secession crisis and the onset of the war, that he was all used up and died of exhaustion. ‘Course, smoking one cigar after the next, and drinking heavily (even though he was presumably drinking “the good stuff”) certainly cannot have been good for the fellow’s health, either

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