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