The other day I was riding my bike to the library, a trip of less than a mile, brevity I was grateful for, as it was approximately 450 degrees outside. I was thinking how cold the spring had been, and oh well, Michigan, what are you gonna do, and then I saw this dead squirrel on the sidewalk ahead, splayed. This was in a park.
“Wow, that squirrel died looking just like a pelt. Weird.”
I came closer. The tail twitched, and the dead squirrel jumped up and scampered to safety. It reminded me I’d seen this once before, on a similarly hot day. The squirrel was lying on a picnic table. Every dog I’ve had has sought out cool surfaces to press their bellies on; Spriggy had a tile hearth spot he liked, our old German shepherd Agnes preferred the foyer. So I guess it’s not so strange, and even though I’d gone through my entire life without seeing it until recently, animals do adapt. I did make note that all the ones I’ve seen doing it are the black-coated ones we have around here, who anecdotally seem smarter and more aggressive than their gray cousins.
Then my old neighbor in Fort Wayne, Earl Bowley, posted this on his Facebook. Taken at a local restaurant on, yes, a hot day:
Planking squirrels. What will they think of next?
Its name is Walter, I’m told. Now you know.
Rained all night here, and at the moment all I really want to do is stare out at the puddles, drinking coffee. It’s been so blazing hot of late, the sun so relentless, that it’s nice to raise the blinds for a change and dig it. Or as a certain Seattle-bred left-handed guitar god sang, lay back and groove on a rainy day. (Hendrix must have done little else, in Seattle.) However, we’re promised a 90-degree day once the low pressure moves through, so my guess is, the primary activity of the day will not be grooving, but sweating.
A couple of book notes: I’m working my way through the nightstand selection, “Punching Out: One Year in the Life of a Closing Auto Plant,” and enjoying it very much. Recommended for those of you who’d like to discuss the auto industry, or even the manufacturing economy, with anything other than bumper-sticker phrases. (“The UAW killed GM, really, it’s very simple.” And so on.) The overwhelming impression I get is that building cars and everything large made of metal is anything but, and I stand in awe of the people who do. “Punching Out” is the story of the disassembly of Budd Wheel, a major stamping plant a few miles from my house, which closed for good in 2006. The plant’s equipment was then cut apart and sold, piece by piece and press by press, to companies which then shipped all these items to places like Mexico and India and so forth, for reassembly at other plants, where the evolution of the economy hasn’t quite caught up with ours. Which is to say, where there’s still a growing need for factories and workers.
The author, Paul Clemens, wrote a short version of this for the NYT op-ed page some years back, and I linked to it then. The idea of scrapping, from the illegal street to the respectable factory level, is a pervasive theme in Detroit, and has been for a while. When Kate was still in Brownies, we took a tour of the Ford estate in Grosse Pointe Shores, where Edsel and Eleanor, son and daughter-in-law of Henry, built their Cotswold mansion. The guide pointed out all the details that had been taken from great houses in the real Cotswolds — flooring from this one, windows from that — and I had to smile. Sometimes it seems there’s a finite amount of wealth in the world, and all it does is travel the globe, being bought and sold by those with the means and the need to do so. It’s not that Detroit is a ruin; it’s that its wealth has been taken elsewhere, leaving, in Clemens’ memorable phrase, the working class mopping up after itself.
I sound like a commie, don’t I? Well, I’m just thinking out loud, watching the puddles dimple.
The hour, it grows late. Let’s jump to bloggage, shall we?
“Bridge & Tunnel,” the “Jersey Shore” that wasn’t. A good read from the Village Voice about kids these days, on Staten Island.
I love these things, known on the ‘nets as supercuts: A montage of movie pep-talk-in-the-mirror scenes. Language NSFW.
Tea Party douche who lectures the president on financial responsibility, sued by his ex-wife for $100K in back child support.
House-cleanin’, verb-studyin’, other writin’ awaits the day. Enjoy yours.