The expensive blue line.

Again! I swear I published this at 10:30 a.m. Apologies. Maybe it’s a bug, or maybe the bug is me.

The city of Pontiac closed its police department forever this week — no money. Policing the unfortunate city was turned over to the county sheriff’s department, and I hope they go with God on this one, because Pontiac is a pretty rough town, and they may need divine intervention to make it work.

Meanwhile, I visited the home page of my former employer this morning, and saw the cops were driving the hostage rescue vehicle around for National Night Out festivities last night. The website being a p.o.s. I can’t link, but it just so happens I have a photo of that vehicle which I took way back in 2003, during a flood:

As you can see, its high clearance makes an excellent flood-navigation vehicle, although most often, you see it in this situation:

Hey, kids! Ever want to see the inside of a real tank?

The city of Defiance, Ohio, has one of these, too — we saw it in the Halloween parade. I think it was the year they were talking about closing the city’s swimming pools for lack of funds, but I’m not sure.

Do any of you Hoosiers know if this thing has ever been used to rescue a hostage, or is it just trundled around as a gas-guzzling vehicle of diplomacy, like an armored limousine?

I’ve been covering city governments long enough to know that the money for these items rarely comes from the general fund. Homeland Security likes to sprinkle dollars around the hinterlands from time to time, in the event al-Qaeda ever targets northwest Ohio. And never count out a hungry police chief when it comes to finding grant money or weak spots in the armaments of the county treasury. Remember, Fort Wayners, when the Ku Klux Klan rallied at the courthouse in the ’90s? It was a greenmail dream come true for every badge in both city and county. The courthouse, as courthouses tend to do, sits smack in the middle of town, but it’s a county building, so you had two forces elbowing for the right to be on the front lines. The sheriff’s department got to be the primary perimeter around their building, and they turned out in riot helmets and shields so new you could almost see the ghosts of the price tags on them. The city protected the area around the courthouse, and I think the entire force was there, likely on overtime. So few people actually showed up, the police-to-rallier ratio was about 3-to-1. But nothing bad happened, so every penny was defensible. Right?

Ah, it was the ’90s. We had so much, then. Riot shields, functional police departments, rising property values. The good ol’ days.

I still count the column I wrote about that rally among my favorites. Couldn’t find it today at gunpoint. Newspaper columns, like the good times, aren’t made to last.

Folks, the coffee ain’t working today. Let’s pop down to the bloggage, shall we?

Bradley Cooper speaks French, Mila Kunis speaks Russian. The translated title of her movie, “Friends With Benefits?” “Sex Friendship.” Some things just don’t translate. Did I ever tell you about my friend in Paris, who sent me the titles for the porn listings in the local weekly? American porn producers favor dirty versions of existing movie titles (“Pumping Irene”), whilethe French go for a more clinical approach. One, as I recall, used a verb that means “to break in” or “to enter with violence,” for a title that ran, “I’m breaking into you sans Vaseline.” Ick.

The big tree Morgan Freeman finds a letter under in “The Shawshank Redemption” was torn asunder by a storm this week, prompting a wire-service story. Best reader comment? Ooh, you gave the ending away!!! How long are spoiler alerts required for a movie made in 1994?

And that’s all I have today. Off to drink more coffee.

Posted at 12:16 pm in Detroit life, Popculch |

78 responses to “The expensive blue line.”

  1. Connie said on August 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    After 9/11 there was a lot of federal money available for local law enforcement that was spent on things like that tank. Elkhart County got itself a serious SWAT command post trailer kind of thing.

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  2. Sue said on August 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    And on the other end of the ‘let’s throw money away’ spectrum –
    A recent disaster drill involving several local police and rescue departments, schools, hospitals and clinics, revolving around one of the usual practice scenarios (can’t remember – terrorists? accidental toxic leak?) prompted this remark from a co-worker:
    “Can you imagine all the tax dollars being wasted on this?”
    Yes, because if something bad happens I, as a taxpayer, want to simultaneously expect people to figure it out as they go along AND blame them when they make a mistake.

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  3. Rob Daumeyer said on August 3, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Defiance, Ohio, needs a tank like I need a savings account.

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  4. A. Riley said on August 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Nancy & Co., I’d be interested in your comments on this article from yesterday’s Trib.

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  5. coozledad said on August 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Durham got a smaller one of those at the height of the mouth-foaming. It looked like a Suzuki Raider that Clint Eastwood bolted some sheet iron onto and spray painted a glossy black before wheeling it out to have an epic pissing contest with Lee Van Cleef. I wish someone had painted “Deathmobile” or “Toots” on the front, but Durham cops will hit you on the head with a stick.

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  6. brian stouder said on August 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Maybe it’s a bug… I blame the damned golden rods! Aside from that, if the FWPD urban assault vehicle could blow fire like that Maker Faire steampunk thing, we could deter any need for hostage rescue in the first place, and also have the best Three Rivers Festival parade evuh!!, every year

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  7. basset said on August 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    If the Fort has any bike paths, this might be worth trying:

    Or just paint it black with “Eat Me” down the side and use it to break up a parade…

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  8. paddyo' said on August 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    After 9/11, I got roped into covering a newly created “homeland security” beat for a while at The Nation’s Newspaper.
    Before long, I was trundling off to places like Sidney, Nebraska (home of Cabela’s outdoor/hunting/fishing stores, certainly a national treasure, no? . . . Hello?) to do stories about how they were tightening security around “important” regional electrical grid-switching sub-sub-substations and such . . . and tiny cropduster landing strips in western Kansas where they were taking care not to let terrorists get their claws on biplanes to rain anthrax from the heartland skies . . . and of course, Great Plains feedlots where they were, uh, beefing up security to keep the evildoers from contaminating what we eat.

    It was hard at first to see the fear forest for the security trees, but now — what were we thinking? Ahh, yes, just what the GOP funneled freely then but rails against now: More federal largesse.

    Oh, and they also dumped a veritable shitload of that kind of money on Denver for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The million$ bought a big-ass motorcoach command-post-o-rama, and lots and lots of guns, ammo, helmets, bulletproof vests and other classic black SWAT swag.

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  9. beb said on August 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    The other great spoiler is that “she’s a guy!”

    There’s a couple articles about the Detroit maker Faire on today. One is a close of the gas breathing pony. My wife and I talked to the frieind of the guy who made it. A real friendly guy. I didn’t realize at the time that it was fire-breathing. Was amused that the maker had to crack the programming language of this old mechanical toy so he could operate it from a Wii controller pad.

    The other feature was a picture of the old Packard plant with the suggestion that someone should make a movie here. I think more than one movie has been made there, but I could be wrong. The comments, though, were interesting because some people were taking offense that people come to Detroit to take pictures of its ruins. Pictures which play to stereotypes about Detroit.

    Speaking of police toys….how many police departments really needs planes or helicopters?

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  10. LAMary said on August 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    LAPD has lots of helicopters. It seems like lots of entities have helicopters in LA and people complain about the noise and spotlights. Between the cops, the TV stations, the traffic reporters,the tourist helicopters, it gets crazy.

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  11. Deborah said on August 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    My husband designed a homeland security building that’s currently under construction. Inside the building among other things is a simulated main street where they train first responders, this main street has storefronts and even manhole covers. It looks pretty much like a real street. The building is located at a local junior college. A lot of the local police and fire departments will use it for training. It’s actually a cool building.

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  12. alice said on August 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it, or worse, turn it into a wedding theme:

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  13. basset said on August 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I would disown any child of mine who put on a wedding like that.

    And Cabela’s IS a national treasure for many of us. much better than Bass Pro, Gander Mountain, and other pretenders.

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  14. Judybusy said on August 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    The disaster preparedness work we’ve done in Hennepin County/Minneapolis has paid off somewhat, what with the bridge collapse on August 1, 2008 and the tornado on May 15th of this year. They at least have a command structure to streamline tasks in what are typically very chaotic events. I recently went to a training for emergency mental health intervention that was well-done and useful. I hope I never have to use it.

    Shawshank is responsible for one of the best vacations I ever had, in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, where Freeman and Robbins escape/retire to. My partner had it lodged in her brain for years and we went there in 2006. It’s also a fine film.

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  15. Maggie Jochild said on August 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    One thing we lefties learned in the 80s: The recruitment potential for Klan and Nazi rallies is not in the few attendees, it’s among the cops who are in close proximity to their speeches, acting as a barrier between these militarized white men and the DFH who want to kill them. Just as the FBI spends heavy dollars on booths at the BYU campus, the violent right knows where to draw fresh troops.

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  16. basset said on August 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    More car-smashing, same event but video this time:

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  17. Sue said on August 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Alice, then they can continue the theme by having hollow-eyed, malnourished children who die young.
    My mother’s little brother died of ‘a fever’ during the depression because they couldn’t afford a doctor. I can’t wait to get back to those days, can you?
    And Basset, a few years back a Cabela’s development got county economic development money for all the jobs they were going to create. Because, if Cabela’s is a destination place in Nebraska or wherever, it’s obviously going to be a destination place along the 41/45 corridor a few miles from Gander and Midwestern Shooters Supply and a drive over from Bass Pro Shops near the IL/WI border. And all those folks from IL would drive right past the Cabela’s going up in Hoffman Estates to shop in Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, said jobs in the coveted, high-paying-and-benefitted retail sector did not materialize at the expected rate.

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  18. LAMary said on August 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Thank you, everyone, for voting for Trinity Kids Hospice yesterday. We won and now the hospice staff gets a specially equipped van for transporting sick kids to medical appointments. It was a close vote and I think you all put us over the top.

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  19. Deborah said on August 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    That is great news LAMary!

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  20. brian stouder said on August 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I’m thinking we should get to see the black camisole…

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  21. brian stouder said on August 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    …or not!

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  22. Kirk said on August 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Cowboy helicopter cops in Columbus got into trouble in the late ’70s and early ’80s for flying their chopper dangerously low. They spotted a fox on the ground and were so fascinated that they decided to chase it with their crime-fighting machine.

    A. Riley @4:
    Outsourced copy editing is an idiotic idea and a recipe for disaster. Some copy editor in Chicago neither knows nor cares much about a local Hartford story. It’s just dumb.

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  23. nancy said on August 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    That is great news, LAM.

    Someone asked me about those editing hubs. For the record, I’m opposed. Opposed yet resigned. I only hope that if my husband’s employer opts for one, it’s in Detroit. Because we can’t afford to move.

    I’ve been to Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan. It is (I think) the largest tourist draw in the state, or was. Yes, a store full of camo, guns and taxidermy draws more people to Michigan than Greenfield Village or the crack trade. I’m impressed.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Columbus, OH has something like the same number of police helicopters as NYC. No one has ever been able to get a straight answer as to “why?”

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  25. Kevin H. said on August 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    The tank reminds me of when I was living in Chicago, in Dan Rostenkowski’s last days (92-94?), long before Homeland Security. He was so desperate to win, with much fanfare he gave the Chicago Police Department an old military helicopter. The Sun Times called it “The Pork Chopper”.

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  26. moe99 said on August 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Cabela’s has a new store in Olympia. I won’t patronize them because of the politics of the owners. REI is more to my liking.

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  27. basset said on August 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Finally, I post something and it doesn’t immediately sink without a trace… don’t know what the politics of Cabela’s owners are, I occasionally go to REI but they are definitely not a hunting/fishing store so they don’t have a lot of the stuff I need. Probably could find a black camisole there, though.

    I’ve been to the Cabela’s in Dundee and the much smaller one in Hammond, Indiana, they are side trips from the family runs to Cadillac. We were supposed to get one here in Nashville before the recession hit, a failed mall about three miles from my house was going to get redeveloped with a Cabela’s and outparcels off to one side. Didn’t happen, the mall is still empty except for Sears, and I think the nearest Cabela’s is somewhere around St. Louis.

    Probably would have done pretty well here, though, we have a Bass Pro on the other side of town and that’s about it for some distance. There’s a Gander about an hour north and another two hours west… coming at it from the middle-aged hunter, fisherman, and tree-hugger perspective, I would rank Cabela’s as my first choice, Gander second, Bass Pro a little further down, and Dick’s/Galyan’s not even in it. Jay’s at Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, would be right up there with Cabela’s for what I would be buying.

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  28. Dexter said on August 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Not only did the Klan have plenty of cops protecting their backsides at those obscene courthouse rallies (we had them here in Bryan, Ohio and they had them where I worked, in Auburn, Indiana) but even when one rogue hooded KKKer protested , say a judge, the uniformed cops stood sentry. It really looked bad to me…you recall the 1960s and 70s when a common chant at antiwar demonstrations was “cops and the Klan work hand-in-hand!”—this seemed to confirm those chants.
    DeKalb County, Indiana had a judge name Wallace as I recall.
    He ruled on something which infuriated the local (based in Newville, Indiana) Klan, and a lone Klansman was protesting on the Auburn courthouse square.

    I was working afternoons and was on my way to work. At the corner of Main and 7th, I was stopped for a traffic light. Then I saw it, the scene that would have been the best photograph I ever would have snapped, this sherriff’s deputy, wearing a Sgt. Preston of The Yukon hat, cuffing his lighter and lighting a cigarette for the Klan man. It was a perfect shot and I missed it, but it’s indelible on my brain. Taller Klan man leaning over to take his toadie’s offer of a light, the king and his lackey, so perfect.

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  29. nancy said on August 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I guess it’s possible the cops and Klan had common sympathies, but this group of Klansmen? Were the most uncharismatic gang of terra cotta-toothed pinheads I have EVER set eyes upon — and I feel I’ve seen a few of them. Their leader, Jeff Berry, was able to rise to some national position in the Klan, and the only reason I can think of is, there simply is no real KKK to speak of anymore.

    He was vile, stupid, foul-mouthed, violent, ugly. His speech that day, if you can call it that, was just a 20-minute incoherent ramble from this to that to the other thing. He said the NAACP was started by “Jewish preachers,” that they formed it because “they was losin’ money, ’cause the coons like to dress up on Sundays.” And so on. The only line that drew even a half-hearted response was when he told all the white folks to go home, “git into bed, and breed, breed, breed.” I felt sorry for the black folks and counter protestors, who had to stand in freezing temperatures for hours (this was on MLK weekend, of course) to jeer at this moron. In general I think hatefulness needs to be answered, but in this case? Really and truly ignoring him would be a far better response.

    He ended up going to jail for something. I think he detained a TV crew at gunpoint because they wouldn’t turn over a tape.

    The Berry trailerload is mentioned at the bottom of this ADL roundup. I’m sure they’re all cooking meth now, if they weren’t then. It would explain their public-speaking skills, if nothing else did.

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  30. Scout said on August 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Alice, thanks to your link, I ended up wasting at least an hour at Regretsy’s sister site Lamebook. It’s all good – laughter is, after all, the best medicine.

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  31. prospero said on August 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm


    The Packard plant could be a great setting for a movie, a la the Bradbury Building in Blade Runner. The building was practically a living breathing character in the iconic battle between Deckard and Roy Batty, and shows up inthe original DOA, Chinatown, Good Neighbor Sam and many other movies.

    The way ridiculous cop toys got to places like Defiance, OH, is them Congressional things Publicans and Teabaggers abhor, whaddaya callem? Oh, yeah…earmarks. When I see this sort of idiotic armament of civilians, I always think of Mayor Wilson Goode and his municipal air force bombing John Africa and the MOVE House, and setting Philly ablaze.

    I’ve been an REI member for years. Great store online (closest brick and mortar is many miles away in Atlanta. But I buy fishing equipment and get my reels serviced at a local Bass Pro store. I wouldn’t buy fishing equipment without handling it first.

    Outsourced copy editing couldn’t be much worse than what goes on all over the internet and in print these days, but local news stories would suffer grievously from lack of boots on the ground. Like people new to Boston that don’t know that Quincy is actually pronounced Quinzy. I can easily imagine some copy editor in Podunk editing a Boston news story and snappin things up by calling the Olde Towne Team the Beantown Bruins. Rioting might ensue, the ersatz nickname is so reviled.

    CHEERS!!! to Trinity Kids Hospice. Thanks for that opportunity, LAMary.

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  32. MichaelG said on August 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I had a project in Susanville a couple of years ago. A Cabela’s had just opened in Verdi, NV. Verdi is a hoot. It’s a tiny place on I-80 just across the state line from CA. It has two things: the Boomtown casino and Cabela’s. I stopped in a couple of times while passing by on the way back from Susanville. It certainly is a huge and spectacular place. I don’t know anything about the owners but am not surprised to hear that they’re righties. I wouldn’t make a special trip to one (I’m not much into that stuff anyway and REI is right close to where I live) but if you’re ever in the neighborhood, it’s worth looking at.

    Very nice to hear Mary. I was out of town the last couple of days without a computer so I, regretfully, didn’t get to vote. I’m really pleased you won.

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  33. paddyo' said on August 3, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Before Boomtown and now Cabela’s descended, Verdi was actually a charming little village (former Transcontinental Railroad stop and logging town), just far enough from Reno (about 10 miles west), off I-80 at a bend in the Truckee River (“river” being more like a creek to those of you west of the Rockies and Plains), to be gen-you-wine quaint.

    One of the first newspaper stories I ever wrote, a feature interview during my second week interning at the Reno Evening Gazette, was with old Joe Mosconi, the ancient chief of the Verdi Volunteer Fire Department. One of my J-school profs at Nevada-Reno had a cabin up the forested mountainside overlooking the little town and would occasionally have some of us classmates up for a barbecue; Prof. Garberson was a good 6-foot-9, so we all called him, of course, The Tree. A friend and ex-colleague, the paper’s former local columnist, lives there and grumbles about Cabela’s and Boomtown, but then, he’s a grumbler.

    Oh, and for the record, the town IS named for the Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi — but Nevadans pronounce it “VER-dye” . . .

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  34. prospero said on August 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Jerry Brown just signed a law in California that prevents the homes of registered sex offenders from being used as polling places. Republicans want it made expressly clear that S&M nightclubs are still perfectly permissible. But the question is, what sort of loonytoon would actually think of this?

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  35. John G. Wallace said on August 3, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Sent a few votes your way Mary, that’s great news.

    Barely on topic but we once broke down and spent a few days in DuBois Pennsylvania. They pronouce it Do Boys which made for an uneasy few days.

    Down here almost all the sheriff’s departments have helicopters. A few weeks ago they were using one on I-95 after a bad crash to look for someone ejected from a vehicle. Pilot was too low and as a typical afternoon storm rolled in (I suspect)a downdraft slammed the tail boominto the ground. The pilot was fine minor cuts and bruises, so they called in a medevac for him. The people in the wreck? They sent them off in ambulances. It was a Vietnam vintage Kiowa (Bell Jet Ranger) the department got for $1 from the Florida National Guard.

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  36. Deborah said on August 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I visited a foundry in Colorado a couple of years ago where I was having some bronze pieces cast for a project I’m still working on and there were these gigantic bronze sculptures of hunters and animals being made, in various stages of completion. I was told they were for Cabelas. They were very complicated to make at that scale, done all in pieces and then welded together. I can’t imagine how they were transported.

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  37. baldheadeddork said on August 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    There was a hostage situation this week here in Bloomington. The police department has a Brinks truck-type vehicle for its SWAT team, but the local paper had a picture of SWAT officers using a plain Chrysler minivan to get in close.


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  38. Connie said on August 3, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    My stepmother’s previous married name was DuBois and she and her sons all pronounce it DuBoyz.

    Baldheadeddork, I was surprised by the B’ton Herald Times link, as their web page has always been closed to non-subscribers. Have they changed their mind or does your link somehow invisibly include your subscriber cookie?

    My husband will be in Bloomington this weekend to move our daughter from her apartment to a house. She won’t be back from IU at Oxford until the following week.

    Cabela’s canceled an about to start construction project outside Indianapolis (Greenwood) when the economy went south. We went to one in Minnesota and enjoyed the taxidermy scenes. I enjoyed getting to look up close at all the pistols I had read about in mystery novels. But once was enough.

    And Brian we have just decided we have to get to the Henry Ford Museum before the Civil War Exhibit ends on Labor Day.

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  39. paddyo' said on August 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Connie, that’s how they pronounce the name of the town of Dubois, WY, too

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  40. prospero said on August 3, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Well, there are Lime-a and Vie-enna in Ohio. And how is Russia Ohio pronounced? And Livernois is a major thoroughfare in Detroit that rhymes with Boyz.

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  41. brian stouder said on August 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Connie – I love the Henry Ford Museum anyway, and would go back in a heartbeat. In fact, I have a week off coming up the week after next, and your tip sounds like the beginnings of a very nice little 2-day-trip. (I’ve been considering dragging the young folks to Springfield, but the Henry is an absolute treasure, too)

    Anyway, it beats hell out of Indiana Beach (etc), especially since the young folks are slated to go there next week anyway (birthday party).

    Planning shall quietly continue…

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  42. LAMary said on August 3, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I love the hostage rescue Chrysler minivan. Boo yah. It’s the SWAT minivan. It’s one of the few Chrysler minivans in the country that doesn’t have half empty juice boxes and cheetoh crumbs in the seat crevices.

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  43. Kim said on August 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Before I rant, bravo to LaM’s cause. It reminds me of what I miss when I don’t check in.

    On to the rant, a bit late, but A. Riley @ 4 and others, here is an example of what happens when you let Chicago lay out your pages in Virginia. Their lazy copy editor on the “universal copy desk” that lays out pages with stories about stuff happening 900 miles away (aka “don’t care-ville”)runs spell checker through your story about state senator Tommy Norment and automatically corrects his surname to ‘Torment.’ Multiple times. And in the same story, state legislator Richard “Dick” Saslaw gets his last name spellchecked to become ‘Salsa.’ Dick Salsa and Tommy Torment. I couldn’t make this up. The failsafe, of course, should be someone at the Virginia end who gives a shit to check the pages before they’re sent electronically to the press.

    Another effect is Chicago’s deadlines for Virginia (and the other papers it lays out)are early, as in earlier than the hour time difference would seemingly prompt. Something happens past 8 p.m. and it’s near impossible to get it in the next day’s paper. You could argue that few things require such immediacy these days (and I would argue right back, and tell you why print is the Olds, not the News). I hate that this is true, btw, truly.

    Here is an example of that artificial deadline: A Sunday front page – Is it a story with photos about the tornadoes that swept through the coverage area Saturday evening and killed three people and tore the roof off a middle school, destroying it? No. The front is a big, fancy, “special anniversary series” on the Civil War’s 150th. Then, instead of a sports refer at the top of the page, they put “Massive storm kills three p. 3” The storm story is a roundup, extremely brief, with a photo from a convenience store in Raleigh, NC (200+ miles away). For serious. The problem clearly goes beyond a distant copy editor not wanting to tear up the beautiful front page on a Saturday night and do it all over, which should have been a no-brainer.

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  44. prospero said on August 3, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    At least those SWAT guys never spill coffee on their unis.

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  45. MRMARK said on August 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Hey NN, been a long time since I commented but I read regularly. I have a stash of your 00-03 articles from FTW that I have in Word or PDF if you want. I’ll send a Dropbox invite and you can see if they are of any interest.

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  46. nancy said on August 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Kim speaks the truth about remote copy editing, and touches on another maddening fact of daily journalism, i.e., the seeming death wish of too many print editors.

    Sunday issues in particular are troublesome. Everyone wants to know what’s coming ahead of time, so they can plan splashy graphics. But what that leads to is Sunday covers on, say, Father’s Day: Why Dad is My Hero. Nothing wrong with that, except that, well, there is something wrong with that. It’s fucking boring, it’s pandering, it’s a waste of my time as a reader.

    Oh, don’t get me started. I’ll never stop.

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  47. MarkH said on August 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    paddyo’ —

    I’ve noticed you have a connection to (or, at least affection for) Wyoming. Do you ever get up here much? Next time you’re in Jackson, get my email from Nance and we’ll have a lunch at Dornan’s. Goes for the rest of you, too.

    Dubois, Wyo. is a great little town. Nestled east of the Divide in the temperate Warm River Valley, beautiful country. One of the greatest little book stores there as well, Two Ocean Books.

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  48. devtob said on August 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Albany, NY, spent some six figures of DHS free money on a mobile command/observation post that scissor-lifts about 40 feet up.

    The only time I’ve seen it in use is at the end of the St. Patrick’s parade, keeping a sharp eye out for terrorists lurking among the mid-afternoon drunk kids.

    There’s plenty more security theater around the state Capitol building — airport-level screening to get into the building, state troopers demanding ID from everyone wishing to park in the underground lot, etc.

    The shock of 9/11 led to billions wasted on “ridiculous cop toys” (h/t prospero) and cops doing ridiculous things to “protect” state/local government buildings from fantasy threats.

    Re: outsourced copy editing — it’s happening because newspaper owners care a lot less about accuracy than about profits.

    So they eagerly embrace paying clueless contractors instead of employees who know how to spell names.

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  49. Deborah said on August 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    How does the NY Times do their splashy graphics so effectively? They’re the best. And timely too.

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  50. moe99 said on August 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    There’s an Athens KY (pronounced with a long “a”) and Versailles (ver-sales) KY as well. And of course Lou ah vuhl, which will immediately identify you as an outsider.

    Here in WA we have Sequim (squim) and Puyallup. And geoducks (gooeyducks) are rather tasty mollusks if you tenderize them first.

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  51. Connie said on August 3, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Indiana also has a Versailles (ver-sales). And a tiny town called Houston (House ton). And moe99, as one who can pronounce Lou uh vuhl like a homey, I think you mean insider. Outsiders say Lou ee vill.

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  52. baldheadeddork said on August 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    @ Connie – The HT turns off the paywall for some stories, at least for a few days. I think all of their coverage of the Sprier case is still available.

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  53. coozledad said on August 3, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Moe99: The adults let me harvest those gooeyducks when I visited Puget sound. We ate them with butter, an excruciatingly mild cheese and sixteen ounce Olies. That was in ’73.
    Also: The porn district in Portand was painted a uniform yellow.

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  54. moe99 said on August 4, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Connie, you’re right. I said that backwards.

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  55. basset said on August 4, 2011 at 12:35 am

    And “Du-boyz” is also how you pronounce the county in SW Indiana, right down the road from Loogootee.

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  56. Dexter said on August 4, 2011 at 12:38 am

    nance, I believe Jeff Berry was beaten senseless by his son, and he repented or some such nonsense…but I had never heard of this Danish docu:
    From wikipedia:

    Jeff Berry, leader of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Butler, Indiana, was sentenced to seven years in prison on December 4, 2001 for conspiracy to commit criminal confinement with a deadly weapon. The charges stemmed from a 1999 incident in which Berry refused to allow a local reporter and a photographer to leave his home following an interview.[1]

    In an interview, Berry identified himself as the Klan’s “national imperial wizard. [2] In a book written by his former assistant and now former Klansman, Brad Thompson, Berry’s Klan is described as “a gigantic financial rip-off designed to line the pockets of its top leadership.”[3] He later left the klan, which the other Klans members didn’t like, so they beat him up, which resulted in him getting blind and invalid. In 2007 Jacob Holdt, a Danish Photographer, made a documentary with Jeff Berry:

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  57. MarkH said on August 4, 2011 at 2:21 am

    There is a Versailles (ver-SALES) in Jason T.’s part of the country, too. North Versailles to be exact; used to be part of East McKeesport, where I lived till age 5, outside Pittsburgh.

    Moe, you left out a pronounciation. It’s pee-YAL-up, no?

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  58. ROGirl said on August 4, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Michigan has so many French names (starting with Daytwa) out-of-towners usually have no idea how to pronounce them. Gratiot Ave. is grashutt. Riopelle is rye-o-pell. Beaubien is pronounced as in the French. Then there are all the places with Indian (Native American) names, Dearborn is dearburn, and people from Ontario call Detroit detroyutt.

    We also have Big Beaver Rd., a major thoroughfare. The I-75 exit to Big Beaver is Exit 69. Insert your own jokes here.

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  59. beb said on August 4, 2011 at 7:56 am

    The I-69 exit to Big Beaver Rd. should have been in Dey-Twat instead of, I think it’s Rochester.

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  60. alex said on August 4, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Indiana has a Galveston pronounced Gal-VEST-in.

    One of my employer’s major clients has begun outsourcing paralegal work to India. This should be interesting.

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  61. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Outsourcing anything to do with the legal system to another state, much less another country, seems like highway to disbarment hell for partners in a lawfirm.

    Albany , GA is pronounced, approximately, Aw-BEN’ny. I wonder if all these mangled pronunciations are a manifestation of American Exceptionalism. (This is how Solon and them other Greek barbarians should of pronounced the name of their city. And those French surrender monkeys don’t know how to pronounce their own language. Pass the Freedom Fries.)

    Who was the 60s-70s female comic with a helium voice that based her act on being from East McKeesport?

    I’ve heard it said that the first people that ate oysters were brave, crazy or literally starving. The first consumption of a geoduck went beyond either. God those things look like pieces of Jabba the Hut. On the other hand, I’ll readily eat conch whenever I see it on a menu, and those suckers are just very large slugs.

    Dexter, that sounds eerily like the California neo-Nazi family of the 10 yo patricide.

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  62. LAMary said on August 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Again I want to thank everyone for helping the kids’ hospice get the van. It will make such a big difference in the lives of some people going through very difficult times.

    On the topic of oddly pronounced names, I’m sure Paddy-o will confirm the local pronunciation of Pueblo and Poudre, Colorado. Pee-eblo and Pooder.

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  63. Dexter said on August 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Nawlins. But, Mayor Mitch Landrieu clearly says “New Orr-lee-uns”
    It’s easy to get New Orleans radio streams online, and WWL-AM booms up on regular terrestrial radio after dark. Most people , especially their news readers say “New Orr-lee-uns” also.

    So, all this “Nawlins” and “New Or-lunns” stuff is simply an option for those who wish to emulate Cajuns and maybe Creoles and possibly a thousand other dialects and variations. Still, Mayor Mitch pronounces it like it looks like it should be said.

    And my cousin’s son lives near Pierre, South Dakota. When I was a kid in school, we were taught to say “pee-AIR” Wrong.

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  64. nancy said on August 4, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I went to college in southeastern Ohio, which has many oddly pronounced place names. Chauncey is “chancy,” Gloucester is “glouster,” and there’s one more I’m forgetting, which so differed from its apparent spelling that they finally gave up and changed it. One of my professors told me it was a handy way to spot Civil War-era land speculators, who would arrive in town with cover stories about long-lost family members, but mispronounce the town name, which no native or native-known person would do.

    Ironic that these days you could probably pick up the entirety of these towns for $1.98, and make more money by turning the locals’ pockets inside out for their oxy and Vicodin stashes.

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  65. Dave said on August 4, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Uh, Nancy, Glouster is Glouster, I was thinking of Chauncey earlier today. I don’t know, perhaps the Glouster founding fathers intended for it to be Gloucester and didn’t know how to spell it, perhaps.

    I’m thinking that Russia, OH, is Roosia, Prospero, but I may be wrong. Gratiot, OH, is Gray-shot but I see the same word is GraShut in Michigan. I grew up not far from Baltimore, OH, which had Basil, OH, merged into it around 1948, I think. To this day, I don’t know if it is Basil with a short a or a long a, I heard it pronounced both ways and discussions about how to pronounce it. It was said that there were those who tried to get the merged town to name itself Baseball, including Major League baseball, but I don’t know if its really true.

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  66. prospero said on August 4, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Gloucester, Worcester, Worcestershire, these were all strange pronunciations (or spellings) in the first instance. In England the name Chumley of the walrus character from Underdog and the even greater Tennessee Tuxedo (voice of Don Adams), is spelled Cholmondeley.

    The town of Medford, MA is pronounced two different ways by natives, depending on what part of town the speaker is from. Meffah and Medfid. This may be an Italian/Irish ethnic divide. People from Saugus, MA inexplicably pronounce the town’s name with a non-existent T on the end.

    So Ohioans used arcane local pronunciations purposely to protect themselves from con-men?

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  67. coozledad said on August 4, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I’m still trying to figure out the origins of “Snatchburg Road” not too far from our house. Was there a Snatchburg? What went on there?

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  68. Dave said on August 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Oh, and to add to that, Nancy, I was always under the impression and told by someone in Southeastern Ohio, perhaps someone at OU, that Chauncey pronounciation dated to when the region was a coal mining success and it had to do with outsiders coming in and trying to unionize the miners. I see that Wikipedia gives us three possibilities.,_OH

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  69. Kirk said on August 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Not far from Athens is Hue, pronounced like Hughie, but it always reminded me of the town in Vietnam, pronounced Hway.

    And Dubois, Pa., also is pronounced DOO-boyz.

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  70. MarkH said on August 4, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Dave —


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  71. MichaelG said on August 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Don’t forget Cairo, IL. We have a park here in SacTown named Goethe Park. Spoken Gaty Park. Then there’s that Congress Troll from Ohio. Boner or something.

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  72. Bryan said on August 4, 2011 at 11:32 am


    It good to see someone else from Virginia reads Nance’s blog.

    I used to work for that Virginia paper, and it has been sad seeing its decline in the four years since I left.

    Here’s another example of the Chicago-style of editing: Everyone here knows that the obsolete military ships moored in the James River off Fort Eustis are commonly referred to as the “Ghost Fleet.” Recently I read a story that used the phrase “fleet of deactivated military ships” or something similar instead of the more common “Ghost Fleet.” But I can imagine what happened: someone in Chicago called down to Virginia and asked what for an explanation for “Ghost Fleet.” Instead of leaving in the local reference, the copy editor 900 miles away changed it to what they had been told by the Virginia desk.

    I have several friends who have managed to endure what Sam Zell and his flying monkeys wrought on Tribune Co., and I applaud them for keeping at least a small glimmer of journalism alive at the paper. Every day is a battle for them.

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  73. Dave said on August 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Cairo, OH, north of Lima, is CareO, but the way locals pronounce it, it always sounded like Carol to me, took me awhile to understand that they weren’t talking about Carroll, OH.

    Dumontville, MarkH? No, but I’ve certainly been through Dumontville many times and my sister lives not too far from there by Havensport. We all grew up north of Pickerington, before it became mass suburbia.

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  74. paddyo' said on August 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Yes, LA Mary @62, to Pooder and Pee-EBB-low, Colorado . . . and also the Colorado town whose Spanish name means “good view” — Buena Vista. Locals all call it “BYOO-nuh Vista” or, often, just “Byoonie”

    MarkH @47 . . . I don’t get up to WY as much as I once did (I used to rove the Rockies for The Denver Post, and also got up there occasionally for USA TODAY, too), but coincidentally, I was in Jackson for a day and a half on gummit bidnez in early June. Sorry the opportunity to visit hadn’t materialized. Lovely place, of course, and the snowpack up on the Tetons was just astounding.

    My first time in Jackson was my first year in Denver. I got to go up to cover the September 1989 “pre-summit” at Grand Teton between Secretary of State James Baker and the Soviets’ Eduard Shevardnadze in the waning days of the Evil Empire. That same road trip, I rolled into teensy Meeteetse, WY, to do a story about the black-footed ferret, then our rarest mammal. It had been rescued from extinction (already having been declared extinct once) after a remnant colony was discovered in 1981 on a cattle ranch outside town. Many fond memories of storifying in Wyoming, with the possible exception of having to cover the Matthew Shepard saga.

    Anyway, next time I’m near Jackson, we’ll plot a get-together, cowboy . . .

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  75. Andrew J. said on August 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    That Klan rally, I remember, law enforcement erected these fenced-in pens near the courthouse. The “we hate blacks” folks were a handful. I believe the street sweeping crews on Main Street at the time would have doubled the Klan’s participation in that rally.
    What a joke and waste of cop resources.

    Here’s a link to the Militant for that fine 1996 rally day.


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  76. Andrew J. said on August 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    And speaking of rallies, and Klan and Nazis, check out Fort Wayne’s and Mayor Harry Baal’s infatuation with that paragon of free speech, Charles Lindbergh, in 1941. Turn to page 41.


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  77. Andrew J. said on August 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Here’s the link

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  78. Andrew J. said on August 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm

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