Strike up the band.

Well, finally: Spring came in with a great gust of southwesterly breezes. They promised us warmth, but warned it would be mitigated by storms. Instead, the storms were pushed far off to the north, and we got — mirabile dictu — sun. I’m writing with the windows open. I should be outside, but I was already outside plenty, earlier. Got the bike out and rode far enough and fast enough to induce a little fatigue in the legs; ate a hot dog from the grill for lunch; opened the windows. Now I’m getting a jump on tomorrow, because tomorrow will be Monday.

Still, it felt like a full weekend, in the sense that I got a few things done and mostly stayed away from the computer. Got a big chunk of the way into “Super Sad Love Story,” had many naps and cooked a little. Alan and I had planned to enjoy Detroit Restaurant Week Friday night, but nothin’ doin’ — when this town wakes up, it wakes up all at once, and you couldn’t get a table anywhere for love or money, not with the Wings in town and Opening Day and the symphony coming back from a long strike and about a million other things afoot downtown. We ended up at our Mexican taqueria, followed by a couple beers at P.J.’s Lager House with a few dozen drunken baseball fans. And it was fun, because Detroit is fun like all winter-bound towns are, once winter finally goes away.

Milwaukee has a festival pretty much every weekend throughout the summer, because warmth + beer = party.

What did I drink Friday night? Bell’s Oberon. Cuz duh.

The Times did a nice job with the symphony’s return, and I give the writer credit for knowing a few simple facts about Detroit-the-city and Detroit-the-metro-area, but I stumbled over this:

The city’s decline has sapped donations and ticket sales. Its reputation keeps some wealthy suburbanites away. “Downtown is still a tough ticket for people,” Mr. Slatkin said in an interview. “It has some frightening images.”

Much bitterness remains. “I resent what’s gone down,” said Joseph Striplin, a Detroit native who has played violin in the orchestra since 1972. He blamed board members and orchestra executives, “a mix of politically reactionary right-wing figures who never saw a union they didn’t hate” and a leadership with a “distorted vision of what a symphony orchestra should be.”

I guess “some” wealthy suburbanites are afraid to come downtown to park in a guarded garage a couple blocks from the freeway, and walk a few dozen yards, among throngs of other concertgoers, to the front door of the DSO’s lovingly restored concert hall, but it’s hard to imagine who they might be, as well as where they’ll get their classical music otherwise.

As for the angry Mr. Striplin, he’d have a better argument deriding their fiscal management; one of the biggest millstones hanging over the organization is the debt for last decade’s construction binge. But that was a different time here, and it was before I got here, so I’ll reserve judgment. (Although I think he’s got a point. It’s amazing how many people think artists should work free, or for close to it. Even top-tier players like the DSO.)

Oh, well. Let’s move on. Feral swine are taking over the state. That link goes to a column from a agriculture-industry poobah, which means the numbers are probably inflated significantly. But he’s certainly right that there’s a problem here, and it’s getting worse, and guess where it started:

Before a few hunt clubs began importing the nonnative species into Michigan, it was a problem we associated only with places like Texas and the South. Now, herds of feral swine — each averaging around 300 pounds — wreak havoc by destroying land and damaging important crops and plants.

Thanks, Ted Nugent! He owns at least one of the canned-hunt concerns that bear responsibility for wild pigs gaining a beachhead in Michigan. Clubs turned these critters loose on their fenced holdings for their members to “hunt.” A highly adaptable and intelligent species known for its prodigious digging skills; what, really, could have possibly gone wrong?

Mr. Whack ’em and Stack ’em thinks the problem is exaggerated. Let’s put him on a cruise, eh?

Speaking of which, the coverage of the Kid Rock cruise appears to be winding up. Verdict: A huge disappointment. So much potential, yet the stories read like it was covered by telephone. I was hoping for a rock ‘n’ roll version of “Down the Volga on the Ship of Fools,” P.J. O’Rourke’s account of touring the Soviet Union with a group lured through an ad in The Nation.

Alan said of the cruise, “I would have thrown myself overboard by the 15th woooooooo.” And yet, no wooooooos came through in this copy. Just bum-smooching:

Out in the water, a trio of teen girls in a kayak had paddled over from a nearby resort, oblivious that they were 10 yards from one of the era’s best-known music celebrities. A pair from Kid Rock’s entourage crept up underwater and tipped the kayak to the squealing girls’ surprise — prompting the star to swim over and assist them back on their boat.

Situated back in their kayak, one of the soaked girls at last gave him a long look. “Did you know you look like Kid Rock?”

Rock began to swim away.

“I am!”


OK, time to hit it and get the week going. Hope your day is a cruise. Mine will be more like an upstream paddle.

Posted at 9:47 am in Detroit life |

42 responses to “Strike up the band.”

  1. Kim said on April 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I wondered why the Kid Rock story wasn’t like a P.J. O’Rourke culture excursion, so I read the story. Ick – it suffers from the “I’m the pop rock culture critic writer” disease, which is self-explanatory.

    Yay on the Symphony. Cities need those cultural anchors. Their construction timing sounds phenomenally bad; it’s not like Detroit has been a growing city for a long while.

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  2. coozledad said on April 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Hunters imported coyotes down here so they could have dogs to shoot at. If you ask one of them, they’ll tell you it was the state wildlife federation, environmentalists and hippies that brought them in. Once the damage really starts to pile up, these folks always back away and try and rewrite history. Give Nugent a few years. He’ll be claiming he didn’t have a thing to do with it.

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  3. Deborah said on April 11, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Little Bird and I had a Bells Oberon each on Saturday afternoon at Whole Foods. It tasted good after a long walk. I’ve gotten used to having a beer while grocery shopping. Sunday in Chicago had temps in the 80s, and sun too. Today is less warm but more normal, upper 50s. They’re predicting rain and snow for Saturday naturally.

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  4. ROgirl said on April 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I hope these guys didn’t lose any of their funding in the recent budget fight.

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  5. moe99 said on April 11, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I have never heard a Kid Rock song. There, it’s out.

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  6. Judybusy said on April 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

    moe99, I couldn’t name one if my life depended on it. I couldn’t even swear to his ethnic identity: African American, right? OTH, I was able to talk somewhat intelligently to my visiting 13-year-old niece about the exhibit of works from the Venetian golden age at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I also learned tons about art in Venice in the latter 1500s.

    The day began at the dog park and included a side trip to Minnehaha falls. Of course, it wasn’t quite this green yet….

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  7. Suzanne said on April 11, 2011 at 11:31 am

    “It’s amazing how many people think artists should work free, or for close to it.” Amen. I have a daughter studying music in college so I know this all too well. I am asked way too often why in the world we let her pursue such a line of work. She and her musician friends work harder in school than I ever did and get so little credit for doing so. Without art, think how sad and empty our lives would be…

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  8. Mindy said on April 11, 2011 at 11:43 am

    You and me, Moe!

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  9. Sue said on April 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Moe, Judybusy and Mindy, you’ve heard his songs. You just thought you were hearing “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Werewolves of London”.

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  10. kayak woman said on April 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I was a music major in college back in the Jurassic Age and I agree that it is a *lot* of work.

    I get annoyed these days when people ask me why I “let” my daughters major in the arts (theatre for both of them). First, no, they did not graduate from college and immediately walk into fancy, highly paid jobs. But they’re doing all right and they are young and smart and they’ll figure things out and I think they will have interesting lives and careers in the long run. Also. “Let” them? “LET” them? We are talking about adults here! “Let” them?

    Sorry. Back to work KW.

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  11. Sue said on April 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    A wonderful example of politicians working together.

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  12. paddyo' said on April 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Words to avoid in the same sentence, let alone in person: “Ted Nugent” and “hundreds of hunters” and “intimate campfires.”
    I think we know who the biggest feral swine in Michigan is . . .

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  13. LAMary said on April 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Paddy’o, it has a distinctly “Deliverance” tone to it.

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  14. JayZ(the original) said on April 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Kayak woman, I used to get those same queries about my son who was a religious studies major. “How will he be able to earn a living?” “How could you ‘let’ him choose such a field?”

    He is in his late 30’s now, and he is doing very well.

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  15. prospero said on April 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I thought Absurdistan was very good. Misha Vainberg reminded me a great deal of Ignatius J. Reilly (“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” ). I’m looking forward to Super Sad True Love Story. Have to love native-Slavic speakers that become English language novelists. Shteyngart does Conrad and Nabokov proud.

    Ted Nugent? All that blather about never having used drugs, is bullshit.I witnessed the ahole smoke dope and drop acid at a house that MC5 lived in in HIghland Park. Feed him to the Wild Baors, or better yet, train the pigs with crossbows and compound bows and let them hunt him down. If they undercook him before consumption, they’ll all croak of trichinosis, because he is purely a porker. Birds, pigs, rats, humans, Republicans will all eat their own species, dead or alive.

    And y’all, Kid Rock has a fairly ubiquitous song out now called, totally without irony, Born Free (Mean Machine!), which is such a note- and tone-perfect imitation, anybody that didn’t no better would swear it was a Seger tune they’d never heard, if such a thing is possible. I suppose that’s why he calls himself Bob when his name is actually James. But I suppose Faux Bob Seger is an improvement over his previous oeuvre of (lame) white guy rap, a genre that only the Beasties seem really to have pulled off. He does lend his name and presence to what sound like some worthwhile charities, makes frequent tips to entertain American troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and he can plays guitar about as well as that pretentious fop John Mayer, along with sax, drums and keyboards.

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  16. Dexter said on April 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I just knew that if I didn’t watch HBO’s conclusion to “Mildred Pierce” in real time (not OnDemand) I would hear the ending, so I skipped NYY-BoSox and watched Mildred’s life completely unravel. It had the absolutely perfect ending (SPOILER ALERT) though, because after everything in her life turned to nothingness seasoned with treachery, unfaithfulness, manipulation and opportunism, all at the expense of poor Mildred, she sees the light and commits the day to simply deciding to “get stinko.” And I assume she stayed that way for quite a long time. If you like Kate Winslet, this may be her greatest TV role, if not maybe any acting role.

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  17. Dexter said on April 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    JudyBusy, wrong. His baby mama be African American, though. Custody battles and all, Kid Rock gets Bob Jr. full time now, if you believe the gossip sites.
    For a while it seems Kid only got Bob Jr. one week a month.

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  18. John G. Wallace said on April 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    If you want to hunt wild boar just pay me a visit. They are right on the other side of a drainage canal at the end of my street. At night you can hear them in the grapefruit groves foraging for food.
    I just finished “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand. The research is meticulous and her ability to comprehend and link even the most minute references astounds me. The footnotes are easily 50 pages long, and it’s even more impressive that she put this all together while bedridden and homebound due to her illness. I learned so much from this book that I never really considered about the POW’s held by the Japanese, and the psychological impact that the B-29 had on the Japanese even before the atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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  19. prospero said on April 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Dexter, you never saw the movie? A spoiler would screw the pooch for sure. My gf S. talked me into watching it a while ago (with my choice, The Big Sleep, close to the top of my Bogart list). I’d say that was an outstanding performance for Joan Crawford. Not quite as good as Baby Jane, but mighty good, as was Johnny Guitar with Sterling Hayden, and the Women. All worth watching for sure.

    Kate Winslet? My favorite is probably Finding Neverland, although I don’t think I knoww anybody else who has seen it. Johnny Depp is also superb in it, and the kid actors are spectaculary good. Heavvenly Creatures is a hoot, too.

    Right now, The Killing has my attention. It is relatable to Twin Peaks, but without David Lynch”s gratuitous perversity and weirdness. And the new Upstairs Downstairs started extremely well, but I’ve been a fan of Jean Marsh since meeting her in 1974 at a cocktail party after a performance of The Cocktail Part (T. S. Eliot) at Brandeis, around 1973. She was extremely impressive. Her portrayal of Rose Buck’s emotions returning to 165 Eaton Place, with facial expressions alone, were gorgeous acting. I was disappointed that one of the Hollands didn’t instigate dumping the drinks on the Nazi bastard. The set design on first view of the ruined house is also stunning.

    My family used to see the Detroit Symphony in the summer outdoors at Meadowbrook on the Oakland campus. With picnics. Wonderful memories, particularly of guest soloists like Yusef Lateef and Detroit’s adopted son, George Shearing. I’m not sure how , but my parents were acquaintenances of the musical director Sixten Ehrling, who frequently showed up at their parties.

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  20. Kirk said on April 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Marsh indeed is a fine actress, but my introduction to her work came when she was host of “The International Animation Festival,” a PBS show that featured extraordinary cartoons from all over the world. A substantial portion of them were produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

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  21. Jolene said on April 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Is anyone watching The Borgias on Showtime? It’s a luscious production w/ great costumes and sets and a truly impressive amount of vice, murder, and mayhem. Jeremy Irons stars and is great. There’ve only been two episodes, but the body count is already significant. Makes me want to read more about the period, the early papacy, and the real Borgias, if only to see how much of what is in this show is true.

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  22. coozledad said on April 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Speaking of the Borgias, another cog in the international evangelical freak show goes down. Looks like another setback for genocide boy Pat Robertson.!5790889/top-american-evangelicals-will-miss-ivory-coasts-captured-dictator

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  23. prospero said on April 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Jolene, which of the Borgia Popes does Jeremy Irons play, Callistus (Alfonso) or Alexander (Rodrigo)? Does the teleplay also involve the Medicis? Sounds a lot like I, Claudius, which is better than just about any TV production I can think of. Jeremy Irons (Waterland, Dead Ringers, Brideshead, Reversal of Fortune) isn’t quite Derek Jacobis acting equal, but he’s damned close. The creepy quotient as von Bulow and the deviate twins is exceptionally high.

    All of this warfare and treachery and Church/state corruption is the subject of a novel of which I like a lot:

    The Pope’s Rhinoceros, by Lawrence Norfolk, who wrote the brilliant novel Lemprierres’s Dictionary (recommended highly for people that like Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    A long hard day, I come here, and no one is talking about “Upstairs, Downstairs”? Drat. Just a bunch of cat scratch fever riffs, and potential bacon on the hoof . . . or foot, or pig’s whatevers.

    I learned more about “homeless unaccompanied minors” today than I wished I needed to know, so I’d love to hear more about people’s reactions to delinquent juveniles in 1936 who can only find one reference to get a job “in service” (which is not quite “in the service” but almost as hazardous).

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  25. moe99 said on April 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Another good book to recommend in the period isThe Scarlet City by Hella Haasse. Recounts the time when Rome was sacked by the French. A minor Borgia plays a key character.

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  26. prospero said on April 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    They’re called trotters on pig farms Jeff. And you can buy ’em buy the lb. iin the grocery store down south, though why anybody would, except to bait crab traps, is just way beyond me. I suppose you could pickle them at home and put ’em up in ball jars, but, again, why the hell would you want to?

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  27. paddyo' said on April 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Prospero, I’m liking “The Killing,” too — but what I’d like even better is a new season of “Breaking Bad,” which AMC says is coming . . . in . . . (groan) JULY.
    (Ring wheelchair-mounted, hotel-front-desk bell here)

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  28. Jolene said on April 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Jolene, which of the Borgia Popes does Jeremy Irons play, Callistus (Alfonso) or Alexander (Rodrigo)? Does the teleplay also involve the Medicis?

    Irons plays Alexander VI. The Medicis have, I believe, been mentioned in passing, but so have several other families–Orsini and Sforza come to mind, but there are others. There’s lots more to come, so it may be that the Medicis may play a more prominent role later.

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  29. prospero said on April 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I kinda got down on Breaking Bad when Walt grabbed all the meth and let Jesse’s girlfriend cholke to death with no remorse. But the fly in the meth lab episode was brilliany.

    Jolene, I just watched the first Episode on the net. Very good, but they killed Derek Javobi off too soon. It’s on the Showtime site, but delayed, and they put all the naughty bits out of focus. Not enough to pay $25 bucks for Showtime. What’s disconcerting is how much Jeremy Irons looks like Harry Dean Stanton these days. excellent acting and writing, and a good bit of very dark humor.

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  30. prospero said on April 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Jeff, best line on Upstairs Downstairs so far, the Grand Dame describing somebody, maybe Mrs. Simpson:

    She’s relentlessly well-dressed.

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  31. Rana said on April 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    moe99, Judybusy, I have to admit until this post I hadn’t realized that Kid Rock and The Rock are not the same person.

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  32. Linda said on April 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Judybusy: African American is an honest guess for Kid Rock–he has a sort of Midwest/Afro/Southern accent common to Detroit east of Woodward Avenue. I LOL’d when the Chicago Tribune called Born Free “the 70s Bob Seger album Kid Rock always wanted to do.” Well, yes.

    I like his rap and his countrified stuff. That he has done both seems appropriately east side too. In my mind, the quintessential Macomb county guy–married a gal with a giant rack (although it didn’t last), and hangs out at home w/his kid or at the bar as his main forms of recreation.

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  33. Deborah said on April 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I only know Kid Rock from the silly hats. I have no idea what his music sounds like. And Rana who’s The Rock?

    I just watched The Kid’s are All Right on my iPad and loved it.

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  34. Dexter said on April 12, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Kid Rock is one helluva entertainer. He’s also apolitical, and he really gives his all in supporting the troops. I know how this “supporting the troops” thing gets old and all, but The Kid doesn’t question the motives for the wars, doesn’t care about any of that stuff, he just straps it on and goes where the military happens to be and entertains them. That makes him a soldier of sorts, I guess…he just gets down and does what he thinks is his part. I am damn sick of these 3 American wars we are in, but it’s still a good thing that somebody cares for these people “over there”.
    About four years ago The New Yorker ran a piece on these feral hogs. I suppose one could find it in the archives.

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  35. Dexter said on April 12, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Younguns, history time. Fifty years ago today, this was really big news.
    Yuri Gagarin was a worldwide household name, believe it or not.

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  36. alex said on April 12, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I think I was on my third cup o’ joe before I realized Nance wasn’t talking about Chris Rock, which tells you just how much I know about Kid Rock or for that matter The Rock. And I’m someone you’d otherwise have to drag screaming and kicking to a cruise ship, but if Chris Rock were the entertainment I might go willingly. Yikes, when did my pop culture IV site heal itself shut?

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  37. basset said on April 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I can only imagine what the New Yorker’s take on feral hogs might have been – I would expect either gentle but oh so witty mockery of the pitiful rustics who live where those hogs roam, or food-porn descriptions of wild hog meat as prepared by the froggie chef of the moment in a darling but as yet undiscovered little bistro tucked away somewhere on Manhattan island. Maybe both.

    I have a friend who brings me a stack of New Yorkers every few months, in return for Texas Monthly, Vintage Truck, Hemmings Classic Car, and the Tractor Supply in-store magazine from me; I try to read them, but they seem to be mainly about reminding New Yorkers how bright and clever they are compared to the rest of the country. Never been there, don’t care to go.

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  38. nancy said on April 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Don’t be judgey, Basset. You’re confusing the New Yorker with Vanity Fair. The New Yorker did a really great piece last year on invasive species in Florida, concentrating on a particular python. By the end of it I was convinced I’d be killing these bastards with shovels outside my house in Michigan someday.

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  39. Dexter said on April 12, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Not only am I an unabashed ophidiophobic, I have trouble understanding why some people adore snakes and even worship the things.
    I grew up alongside Indiana Route 327, and in the summer when I walked to my friend’s home , just a quarter mile away, I would frequently see huge Blue Racer snakes slithering across the roadway, and also see dead ones on the hot tar road, smashed right into the driving lanes. Garter snakes in the yard, multi-banded water snakes in the creek, or crick…and even a rattle snake was killed in a hedgerow beside our country schoolhouse.
    Imagine my terror to read that python piece in The New Yorker.
    My fear doesn’t extend to all reptiles. My friend in Cape Coral, FL (Fort Myers) told me of the Nile Monitor lizards there. These creatures would terrify a lizard hater, I am sure. She told me that people get used to them, and also she reported how her cat eats the little lizards. Well, if these big-ass Nile Monitor lizards don’t bother her why does she come north every chance she gets? Hmmmph.

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  40. coozledad said on April 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

    One of my friends in college had a very proper southern aristocratic mother. When her husband’s command transferred from Quantico to Hawaii near the end of the Vietnam war, she was the first one to visit the new house on the base. When she was inspecting the bathroom, she hit the switch for the ventilation fan, unaware a Gecko was nesting there. She was instantly sprayed with pureed lizard.
    My friend said she didn’t speak for days.

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  41. basset said on April 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    no reason not to be judgey, out here with all the other flyover people. some urban northerners think “dumb redneck” any time they hear a Southern accent… I can’t help but think something less kind every time I hear that NY honk.

    and I actually subscribe to Vanity Fair, somehow it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

    have also been on a hog hunt, watching rather than shooting. we were in a ground blind when our hunter shot one square in the chest about thirty yards away and all it did was shake its head and glare at us. so what happens if it comes after us… hunter was in a wheelchair, I had a camera and no gun, guide ended up killing it with a Glock and a sheath knife.

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  42. Cara said on April 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Perhaps the Michimaniac has spent so little time in MI recently that he is unaware of the more attractive tourism opportunities. Pack him and the pigs back off to TX, one way ticket, of course.

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