Second opinions, please.

I think I’m starting to lose my perspective on media criticism. Have I been away too long? Am I cynical to the point of…cynicism? I need a reality check. Watch this, and tell me I’m crazy to think it’s — what’s the word I’m looking for? — vile:

It’s a long piece, and I’m sorry to ask you for 11 whole minutes of your time. Asking someone to watch Charlie LeDuff is a little like asking them to watch Morton Downey Jr., c. 1982. Is this a new thing? Is this what TV news people do now? Pose dramatically, do stupid visualizations of their narrative, and build an 11-minute piece out of the fact one’s grandfather was a “mulatto,” whatever that meant in the American South at early midcentury, and then have the nerve to call their piece about it — wait for it — “Black Like Me?”

You people who do genealogy research (Alex?) and are familiar with the racial issues it sometimes brings up (Alex!) are going to have to calibrate me a little. Because this is chapping my ass. I’m starting to believe I have found the next Albom. And that’s saying something.

I had a work-at-home day, and what a perfect day it was: Take Kate to school just as the sky was lowering, work near a window through a lovely, brief snowstorm, then watch it clear off and get all sparkly while the high pressure moved in with the cold air. A red-tailed hawk landed on my garage roof, and that cleared off the crowd at the bird feeder for a good long while. I rooted for the predator to find lunch somewhere, if not at our feeder.

And now it’s Thursday night, and I’m about to shut down the internet, because I understand Newt Gingrich is thundering at some CNN sap, and the only thing that can fix that is some “Project Runway.” But before I do, a little bloggage:

I’m late posting this from Charles Pierce, his account of How The Greatest Health-Care System In The World Works, an account of something that happens to someone, and likely many someones, every single day in this country:

I mention all of this because, tomorrow night, the five remaining Republican candidates will get up on stage and they will promise to repeal even the tepid, insurance-friendly reform of the way we do health-care in this country. Willard Romney will do this even though the tepid, insurance-friendly reform is one he virtually invented. They will have nothing to replace it. They will argue for “market-based” solutions. The above — that is a “market-based solution.” And, by the way, this is the kind of thing that zombie-eyed granny starver Paul Ryan wants to put elderly people through in place of Medicare. Phone trees. Automated voices. Hours of their dwindling lives on hold, waiting for purportedly live persons who won’t be able to help them. And zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan is considered by people in my business to be a serious thinker on these matters.

Every single one of these Republicans will make the argument that, because of the entire morning I spent dealing with the preposterous way we do health-care in this country, that I am a “freer” person than are the people in Canada, or New Zealand, or Germany, or Finland. That I had to spend an entire morning mired in bureaucratic absurdity means I have retained my “freedom” as an American.

I’m not up on Paula Deen, you guys. I don’t watch cooking shows for the most part, but I pay at least some attention to pop culture, and I knew she was known for buttery, sugary, over-the-top, borderline-white-trashy food. I didn’t really have many thoughts on her diabetes diagnosis other than to say that it’s too bad, until I saw this and fell to the floor, insensate. Bacon-wrapped, deep-fried macaroni and cheese? Oh-kay.

Finally, thanks to Paddyo, what it’s like to have a rabbit in your life, and apparently, no limit on what you’ll spend on vet care. Sweet, but crazy.

Posted at 12:21 am in Media, Popculch |

110 responses to “Second opinions, please.”

  1. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 12:59 am


    It’s late and I don’t have the energy to watch an eleven-minute video at the moment, but do have some observations.

    There were actually some “mullatoes” in high places back in the proverbial days of yore, people who passed for white unbeknownst. Ahliana Lemmon, the pale blonde little murdered girl in Fort Wayne at Christmas, was descended of such people. People whose personal papers are in the archives of the Howard University Library, in fact.

    What I found most remarkable about this is that the apples fell so far from the tree. These trailer trashy people were descended of two prominent nineteenth century legislators, one of whose color was dinge and nobody gave a flying fuck. Read up on Philemon Beecher. And Ahliana’s other progenitor, John Sloane.

    I bet if you told Ahliana’s mother that she came from colored she’d pull out her Smith & Wesson and blow your head off. Confront her with the fact that her dad’s a child molester and she’d say yeah, so, isn’t everyone’s?

    I’m actually eager to go to D.C. one of these days and read said papers at Howard (I was told it was a stack a foot tall). Ahliana is a direct descendant of Truman Beecher and Statira Brown, one of whose children—Anna Beecher—married a Lemmon. The Beechers had other children with names that fairly peg them as abolitionists—Harriet Stowe Beecher and James Garfield Beecher to name two.

    The Beecher name was well known as a family of Presbyterian abolitonists descended of a very early colonial American family; this particular branch was actually interracial. They were distant cousins of Harriet Beecher Stowe of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame and her brother, the disgraced philanderer whose name escapes me at the moment.

    Steuben County was home not only to these candy-ass Presbyterians but to some Scottish Covenanters, who were said to be the most militant Presbyterians in the antislavery cause.

    The town of Angola was founded by a spiritualist minister and abolitionist who gave it an African name because it was a mecca for the enslaved. I’d link to all the stuff that goes with that but it’s friggin’ late. More tomorrow.

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  2. Jolene said on January 20, 2012 at 1:07 am

    The Pierce description of dealing w/ insurance issues is exactly on target. Having watched my parents shuffle between doctors, I just can’t imagine what their lives (and our lives) would have been like if they’d had to shop for and communicate w/ payers. Doing so w/ providers was bad enough, and they’d surely have died earlier–and lived less well on the way to doing so–if they hadn’t had us to do the symptom-describing, question-asking, following-up and so on. I dunno. maybe that’s the goal.

    These ideas about making health care more like a market seem totally detached from what health care really is, not to mention the kind of shape many people are in when they need it.

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  3. Brandon said on January 20, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Paula Deen was as sleek as the cat from the Fancy Feast commercial and as grinny as the Cheshire cat.

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  4. ROGirl said on January 20, 2012 at 6:45 am

    And Paula Deen’s announcement about her diabetes just happens to coincide with her endorsement deal for a diabetes drug. I think she’s going to renounce her butter, fat, cholesterol and sugar schtick and go all healthy and clean, turning it into a rebranding opportunity.

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  5. Suzanne said on January 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I’ve never made a Paula Deen recipe, at least not knowingly. When you can make something like that French Pork Stew that was linked on this blog, why in the world would you make deep fried mac and cheese?

    I didn’t watch the GOP debate since we don’t have cable. It’s quickly going from somewhat amusing to frightening. I keep hearkening back to my reading of “In the Garden of Beasts” in which Larson pointed out that numerous people thought Hitler was the driver of the clown car, but figured that there would be enough sensible people who would notice and that he would flame quickly and just as quickly fade away. I’m not a Romney fan, but he is the only one who doesn’t set my neck hairs on end. I guess I can take a guy who flaunts his wealth because I figure he doesn’t know any better as the lesser of all evils. Santorum has that whole taking the dead baby home to show the kids incident which creeps me to the max and Newt is a dictator in the works and scares the bejeebers out of me. Ron Paul is like the genius weird uncle who sounds reasonable on things until he starts talking about the alien being visit he had last week…

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  6. Kim said on January 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I think you can baptize Mr. LeDuff. It’s not that a story like that isn’t worth telling. To me, it’s how it is told – all casual, from the shirttail and unbuttoned cuffs flapping and wan looks at the poverty from which he ascends to the final “Detroit, this is my family’s gift, it’s messed up, man.” For a guy whose bread and butter seems to be Everyman Explainer you’d think he’d say a word about why the great aunt is wearing what appears to be a Burger King crown.

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  7. basset said on January 20, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Don’t know that I could stand eleven minutes of Charlie LeDuff, maybe I can work myself up to look at it later. We made Maggie’s roasted winter vegetable recipe last night – next time we’ll cook it a little longer and leave off the kale.

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  8. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Okay, Nance, I watched the piece. I wouldn’t say I find it vile, except maybe the title, which is too precious by half. I think the guy told an interesting story, one that resonates for me because I’ve studied the history of “tri-racial isolates” from Appalachia, Thomas Jefferson progeny, etc. and their trials and tribulations in the north.

    You remember the story of the Jeffries cemetery and the reporter who got ripped a new one when she went to talk to one of the descendants about it being a black cemetery. What was interesting in that community was that the white-looking ones remained while those members of the extended clan who couldn’t pass for white moved on to Cassopolis, Michigan, where they found safety in numbers and were pretty much left alone. Even the white-looking ones who remained in their small pioneer community in the vicinity of Churubusco, Indiana, had to sue for the right to vote and their heritage was not really all that much of a secret.

    (The very same family tried to settle in Greene County, Ohio, before they came to Indiana and also won a lawsuit there giving them the right to vote; the judge wrote that people of the same racial composition were actually clerks of that very court and upstanding citizens and that under Ohio law, if you were more white than black you had the same rights as white people.)

    I’m not familiar with Mr. LeDuff’s body of work, but if you’re comparing him to Albom he must ordinarily come across as a self-absorbed putz. Are all of his stories all about him?

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  9. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Kim, I just spat coffee on my screen re: the Burger King crown. I’m trying hard to resist calling it her go-to-meetin’ do-rag.

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  10. beb said on January 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Apparently over-night polling now has Gingrich ahead of Romney in South Carolina. So I guess Carolinians prefer a serial adulterer who’s begged for forgiveness over a rich man who’s remained faithful to his wife. I was reading somewhere yesterday that the one thing we’ve learned from this endless series of Republican debates is that they attract an incredible vile and heartless audience. The candidates are all horrible people to begin with but the people cheering them on are ten-times worse.

    My wife pointed out that Paula Deen has hide her medical condition until she had lined up an endorsement from a diabetes treatment company. Anthony Bourdain tweeted “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business so I can profitably sell crutches later.” Of course he has been ragging on Deen for a while and hasn’t exactly lived the healthiest life either, still he has a point here.

    Charles Pierce has become part of my daily must read. Even when he isn’t breaking news his level of sarcasm and slander is refreshing. It is stories like his about their troubles with healthcare that remind us why we need a single-payer system like France. It works, it saves money, and there’s no hassles involved. Economist James K. Galbraith writes in his book “The Predator State” that believe in the power of The Market is sometimes misplaced because there is no market there. And pointed to healthcare as one such situation.

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  11. brian stouder said on January 20, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Beb – enjoyed that Galbraith book! He gave a lively lecture at IPFW a season or two ago, and we snapped up his book.

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  12. coozledad said on January 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

    She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. ” ‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.’ “

    Could have been worse: If he’d wanted a Mercury Cougar he’d have been trying to climb Shelley white-eyes.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 20, 2012 at 9:06 am

    LeDuff looks like he’s campaigning for “The Next Mitch Albom,” no joke.

    There’s an interestingly strong, if circumstantial case to be made that either or both Warren Harding & Dwight Eisenhower were mulatto. Short of modern day descendants wanting to and willingly having DNA testing, we won’t know, but at least one African-American grandparent is quite likely in both cases.

    Alex, you’re thinking of Henry Ward Beecher, one of the many children of Lyman Beecher (including Harriet Beecher Stowe); Henry pastored in Indiana after schooling in Ohio, and a younger brother was an influential Presbyterian cleric in Ohio throughout his life — you often have to gently correct church and community histories which say that “the noted preacher Henry Ward Beecher” did something or dedicated something in town, because it invariably was William, who was as famous (regionally) as big brother, and never was as infamous. But time passed, William was forgotten, and so the prideful claims were morphed into Henry.

    Beecher went to Brooklyn, which was like Rick Warren going to Orange County in the 1850s, built a proto-megachurch, and developed a preaching style with drama in the foreground and theology in the background (a gospel of Love was as specific as he liked to get), but he came to a rather passionate support of abolitionism, auctioning off a set of manacles from a young woman who had been a slave, and having a large wooden packing crate carried in to the altar marked “Bibles” and opening it to display rifles they were sending to Bloody Kansas (and Osawattomie Brown, who would become better known just as John a few years later). After the Civil War, he – like Newt – got older and tired of the game and picked up quite a bit of weight even as he pursued lonely young wives in the congregation, some of whom unaccountably pursued him.

    So he went up in flames at the instigation of Licking County, Ohio’s Victoria Claflin Woodhull, who had just run for President, and had an odd and awkward relationship with Beecher’s two suffragist sisters. The last scandal with a woman in the church got picked up by Victoria, who said if no one else was going to stand up for women in New York, she would.

    Beecher’s ministry survived, but just barely, and he died a few years later. Victoria and her sister Tennessee, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s mistress, left for England where each married very (VERY) well, traveling on a tidy sum from the executor of the Commodore’s estate, his son who wanted all of Dad’s letters in Tenny’s possession. Sad to think that they probably went in a woodstove before the sisters made it to the ship.

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  14. nancy said on January 20, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Alex, agreed it’s an interesting story. What I object to is the way he tells it. I’m a big believer in telling good stories straight, especially when they’re really good. What LeDuff’s forebears did was done probably by thousands of Americans, particularly during the great migration during the industrial boom. As far as I can tell, a mixed-race man married a white woman and produced white-enough children that their family became, effectively, white. For him to tie it to Detroit’s problems was a huge stretch; for him to pronounce it a gift to the city is outrageous. I have no doubt he acted that stricken look at the end, when he looked up from the monitor. When you edit a piece of that length, you watch every minute of it dozens of times, to the point that it loses its power to shock.

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  15. Kim said on January 20, 2012 at 9:20 am

    I forgot to include the ascot/tie hybrid in his quest to seem like Everyman Explainer in what passes for his formalwear.

    Alex – your racial history comments are interesting, for sure, but I fell out over your take on the great aunt’s head decor. It’s like she forgot about it or something.

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  16. adrianne said on January 20, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Charles Pierce continues to amaze me on a daily basis. I think I’m going to repeat “zombie-eyed granny starver” all day today.

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 20, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Curses. I find myself wanting a square of bacon-wrapped, deep-fried macaroni and cheese. (Opens bag of pistachio nuts, grumbles.)

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  18. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 10:52 am

    For him to tie it to Detroit’s problems was a huge stretch; for him to pronounce it a gift to the city is outrageous.

    Agreed as regards the gift to the city horseshit. Very clumsy ending and he was no doubt tying it to his aunt’s last remark about how being white was a great gift because her life would have been hard otherwise.

    I didn’t particularly object to him revisiting the inequities of the past to illustrate why people would disown who they are. In fact, the aunt’s above statement might have come across as unsympathetic without some of the archival footage providing some context.

    It takes a deft hand to be able to talk about race to a wide audience, and on that score I don’t think he did so badly.

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  19. brian stouder said on January 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

    It takes a deft hand to be able to talk about race to a wide audience, and on that score I don’t think he did so badly.

    A great sentence. If we Newter the thought, it becomes: “It takes a clenched hand to be able to talk about race to a white, South Caro-goddamn-lina audience, and on that score (Newt) did so, badly”

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  20. Deborah said on January 20, 2012 at 11:05 am

    For the first time this election season I watched part of the debate last night. I wish I hadn’t. All I really wanted to do was stay awake for the Marianne Gingrich interview later, which I didn’t accomplish. I found the audience worse than the debaters, and that is saying a lot, since the debaters were disgusting. Especially Newt, I can barely look at him. At least I know that my right wing sister also finds Newt disgusting so there’s hope that he won’t be our next president. Shudder. South Carolina has become synonymous with Texas for me now, a place I have no desire to ever go.

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  21. Dexter said on January 20, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Charlie LeDuff’s story made me wonder about the old man, a Creole, who came north to Detroit to seek riches in the factories.
    I learned years ago that the Creoles were the ruling class in New Orleans and all of southern Louisiana. They had it good there. I did not know they were part of The Great Migration northward. The Creoles dressed well, lived in big fancy homes, had servants, had lots of cash, were professionals and patrons of the arts.

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  22. Sherri said on January 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

    LeDuff’s piece hit me as “Hey Detroit, did you bad things happened to black people here? I just found out that could have happened to me! I’m proud to be white, but we really ought to treat people better if it could have happened to me!”

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  23. Catherine said on January 20, 2012 at 11:32 am

    For a more absorbing take on tangled racial histories, I recommend The Sweeter the Juice, by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip. It’s her story of looking for her mother’s lost siblings, and finding them passing, having forgotten most of their family history. She makes a strong but indirect case that she is better off in every way — emotionally, intellectually and spiritually — than the relatives who chose to pass.

    Here in Pasadena, we had our own Paula Deen tempest-in-a-teapot moment last year, when she was chosen as the Grand Marshal of the 2011 Rose Parade. Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer-winning food writer, said, “Paula Deen? That’s absolutely horrifying. Julia Child grew up on Pasadena Avenue, just a few blocks from the start of the parade, and practically everything Ms. Deen has done both exploits and despoils the culinary movement Child did so much to prod into being. As a food person and as a Pasadenan, I should be proud that the committee is honoring somebody in my profession, but the news makes me cringe.” Poor man was practically pilloried, and later sort-of apologized. Lesson: Paula Deen is the third rail of foodies.

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  24. JWfromNJ said on January 20, 2012 at 11:46 am

    @Kim – that’s no Ascot-tie hybrid, it’s just a comically way too wide tie that reminds me of the ties worn by many students when I attended a Catholic High School with a dress code. The kind of tie students would scour garage sales to find. I think it’s just part of the LeDuff shtick.

    There’s something about LeDuff that is akin to getting a tiny chip in a tooth. You just can’t stop your tongue from going back to that rough part even though it’s sharp and uncomfortable. 11 minutes and I watched it three times. 11 minutes is longer than some of the entire newscasts in Ft. Wayne.

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  25. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I search for recipes online, but I’m a healthful eater and I’ve never tried a Paula Deen recipe because her cooking always struck me as the sort of lazy-ass shit you’d see in those old 1960s Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks where you just throw a bunch of processed foods and condiments together. No wonder she’s a diabetic.

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  26. Joe Kobiela said on January 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Pilot Joe

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  27. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Johnny Otis died. He was the son of Greek immigrants to the USA who “chose to be part of black culture”. The Johnny Otis Show was a great R&B revue that I saw a few times in Detroit when I was a kid. His son is the superb guitar player Shuggie Otis, who played with his dad for years and composed the songCold Shot for which Stevie Ray Vaughan became pretty famous. Shuggie’s playing is marked by effortless facility and gorgeous pure tone similar to BB King (better player though). Johnny Otis’ self-assumed blackness was a gift to the USA and the world.

    Paula Deen got herself into a PR briar patch by selling her name to the Big Farm producers of Smithfield Hams, a virulently anti-union, rapacious corporate entity. She’s married to a guy that makes her look almost svelte. Her personal history claims she was married badly at a young age and suffered from acute agoraphobia and poverty when the marriage ended. Fom peoople that know her in Savannah, I have the impression she is an authentic bootstrapper. We think of her as Nathalie Dupree squared. And her accent is somewhat soothing. She’s famous for whole or several stick o’ butter recipes, but what I always found appalling was her free hand with the Duke’s jar.

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  28. John (not McCain) said on January 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I wonder how the current Mrs. Swingrich feels about being compared to a Chevrolet.

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  29. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    MM Jeff–

    Wow, your memory for the Beecher details is extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve read about or discussed Henry Ward Beecher’s scandals since I was in college.

    Another interesting Presbyterian abolitionist family that turned out many preachers–maybe you’re familiar with them because they were well entrenched in Ohio and Indiana–were the Rankins.

    William Beecher was one of Fort Wayne’s early Presbyterian ministers, matter of fact. He replaced Alexander Rankin in the 1840s after Rankin became widowed with children and left for a position in New York.

    Our local historic preservation organization did a survey of buildings and quite inadvertently discovered that the old 1840s Presbyterian rectory was still in existence, all covered in crappy siding and sort of hidden in the urban jungle that had grown up around it. Turns out the house is architecturally the twin of the John Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio. Both consist of a brick edifice opening into a separate wood edifice, and a trick basement with a hidden hallway around the perimeter.

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  30. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Smithfield Hams has such an atrocious record on working conditions, the company has been investigated by Human Rights Watch (how Third World of them!!!) And they are bigger union busters than Itch Daniels, who is about to get pwned by the NFLPA (and you know a lot of those guys are GOPers). How egregious do working conditions have to be at an American company to get investigated by HRW? Amnesty nex? How have they not been shut down by OSHA or NLRB?

    Newt flips out again. That pitbull needs a muzzle. Is he talking about Montreal? Paris? Something Frawnch? Maybe he’s thinking back to his redneck Atlanta suburb days, where MARTA rapid transit system was referred to as Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.

    Maybe Calista 2000 thinks she’s the Little Red Corvette.

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I love those kind of discoveries, Alex; the view from the front window of the Rankin House, with the stairway down to the Ohio River and the vista across into Kentucky — if you know history or at least “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” it won’t be the steps that take your breath away.

    Let’s see, Google-fu . . . ahhh.

    If you can visit, make sure to re-read either “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” before you go, or better yet, “Beyond the River” by an acquaintance of mine, Ann Hagedorn.

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    (Sneaking around the two post rule…)

    I’ve gotta come see the Alexander Rankin house now, that is cool. Most of my info above is recollected off of spending lots of time in “Other Powers” by Barbara Goldsmith & “The Most Famous Man in the World” by Author Name Here (can’t recall, can’t open a second tab on this work computer). We were in the process of first saving and then fund-raising to preserve a monument to Victoria Woodhull here in Granville, her only memorial other than a tablet in the St. Faith Chapel behind the high altar of Tewkesbury Abbey. It worked, and much of the info stuck . . . I think!

    Update: “The Most Famous Man in America” by Debby Applegate. (Remember, purchase thru the sidebar if Amazoning!)

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  33. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    When I read Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner’s masterpiece (I think), I always thought that some of the New York characters were fictionalized versions of members of the Ward and Beecher and Howe families. Of course, Stegner’s been accused of plagiarism for his use of archived letters of Mary Hallock Foote. Ridiculous accusation.

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  34. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    MM Jeff–

    In addition to reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin before a Rankin House visit, I’d also revisit Levi Coffin’s memoirs as Coffin also played host to the same woman described in Beecher Stowe’s book who made her way across the river on an ice floe with her baby clutched to her breast. In fact, I think she may have had a prolonged stay with Coffin to recover from illness. I think Coffin also went to visit her in Canada once she became established there.

    The University of Michigan has Coffin’s memoirs somewhere on its library web site and they can be downloaded/printed.

    The view out of the Fort Wayne Rankin House isn’t at all breathtaking, alas. It faces a busy street.

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  35. Connie said on January 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    As is often the case with my iPad the video link just isn’t there.

    I will admit to making a Paula Deen recipe, I have made her oven baked risotto not once but twice. easy, tasty and almost but not quite risotto.

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  36. JWfromNJ said on January 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Here’s another example of the state of television news coverage these days. Cleveland’s WOIO has been covering the federal corruption trial of a county official with a squirrel puppet reporter and other puppets standing in for witnesses, lawyers, and the judge. It’s a, uh, unique way around the ban on cameras in the courtroom and I’d imagine the judge isn’t thrilled.

    Pretty funny stuff if you can cast away your feelings for dignified reporting. They run the daily updates as a kicker at the end of the broadcast.

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  37. Suzanne said on January 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Alex @25
    You want to see some crazy food, watch either one of these Sandra Lee clips. Yes, she has cookbooks and, I believe, a show.

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  38. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Piquant comment on Paula Deen and Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain strikes me plainly as a surefire Romney voter. Surely a food snob, and anybody with as gluttonous and addictive a personality as he’s reported his own to be (coccaine was his eight control drug) while touting French cuisine, which is more fat intensive than any other has no business bitching about Paula Deen. Her hucksterism for cash and Smithfield is far more worthy of castigation than is her ridiculous approach to food.

    Sandra Lee has a clever gimmick that got her a lucrative Food Network contract: using processed foods to produce fast results that seem homemade. She also likes to do bifurcated menus, where fixing one meal leaves you halfway to the next day’s dinner, stored in the ‘frigerator. Oh, and there are her whimsical place settings and party favors modified from cutesy Dollar General purchases. The woman never saw a big chunk of Velveeta she didn’t have ideas for. And she invents a tres tres cocktail to accompany each recipe. Jacques Pepin and Martin Yan remain the two great TV cooks, in my opinion, and Ming Tsai is good. Guilty pleasure, for sure, but I miss the ole cajun Joostan Wilson and his red suspenders and jokes. And the camera angles on Giada DiLaurentiis’ show were always interesting. Oh, and Ina Garten’s approach is very enjoyable to watch.

    Romney fiscal plans defy mathematics. It’s gutdom Raygun all over.

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  39. Jolene said on January 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Ruth Marcus also criticizes Romney’s economic plans in a less technical piece:

    Worth a read, if only to gather ammunition for the arguments ahead.

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  40. deb said on January 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    beb and Deborah, I agree wholeheartedly re the crowds at the GOP debates. These events are not debates; they’re rallies. Fox should be ashamed of itself. For about the millionth time.

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  41. LAMary said on January 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Sandra Lee lives with the governor of NY, Andrew Cuomo. Imagine the big deal dinners at the gov’s mansion.
    And Caliban, I agree. Angle of Repose is the best Wallace Stegner book. The others are good but that one pulled me in completely.

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  42. jcburns said on January 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Caliban, I think you’re way off on Bourdain’s politics. He grew up in Leonia, N.J., the former ‘suburban’ refuge of Alan Alda, which tells me a lot. And yeah, I can’t imagine Ms. Sandra Lee serving her husband her usual spaghetti-Os-based cuisine.

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  43. Jeff Borden said on January 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I used to live in Charlotte and enjoyed traveling in South Carolina –Charleston is a great city with some fine restaurants– but it is a deeply weird state. The reaction of the crowds to the red meat they are being thrown is not particularly surprising. It’s typical of the “God, guns and guts” crowd so prevalent down there.

    Callista as a Chevrolet? With that hair and all the Tiffany baubles? Please. She’s at least an Escalade.

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  44. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    The GOPer debate crowds are reminiscent of the rabble in Jerusalem screaming at Pontius Pilate to “Give us Barrabas”.

    Have you read Big Rock Candy Mountain, Mary? V.G, too. Wallace Stegner creative writing students: Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, George V. Higgins, Thomas McGuane, Robert Stone, Ken Kesey, Gordon Lish, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. Hella lineup. But the writer I think is closest to Stegner in writing about the American West is probably Loise Erdrich, particularly Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. Fans of Elmore Leonard shold pick up Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. (also a terrific newspaperman on the BGlobe for years). It’s also a brilliant movie, with Robert Mitchum.

    Anybody with a few minutes to kill that isn’t familiar with Wallace Stegner should try this sample:

    An astounding stylist and evoker of palpable mood and settings. The kind of writing that makes the reader a better reader.

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  45. Sue said on January 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I’ve not been able to find out how they pick the audiences for these debates (ok, I admit, I haven’t actually tried) but it seems to me that if the audience responses are not something that the organizers are comfortable with, by the 40th debate or wherever we are now they would have implemented some kind of screening procedure or basic behavior requirement that would have resulted in a more grown-up atmosphere.
    The fact that the audiences behave pretty much the same no matter where the debate is indicates to me that Republicans who do not veer to the farthest ideological corner of the party are either de-selected in the process or not showing up because of the boorish behavior of the majority audience.
    Long comment short, you’re seeing the audiences that the powers that be want you to see.

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  46. del said on January 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Have not read the thread yet but the Fox News TV affiliate for the LeDuff piece had an anchorwoman some years ago who claimed to be black, which was surprising. When I started to type her name into Google the suggested search had “black” following her name.

    Here’s Amyre Makupson, Fox anchor:

    Maybe I don’t understand because it’s a Fox thing.

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  47. Kirk said on January 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    More than once I have prepared — and enjoyed — a recipe that, though out of character for her, turned out to have been purveyed by Paula Deen. It calls for baking salmon fillets wrapped up with bell pepper, onion, orange sections, strawberries, lemon juice, green onions and a little honey. It’s quite tasty. No butter; no sugar.

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  48. Deborah said on January 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I also enjoyed Stegner’s Angle of Repose, and love that title.

    deb, I think CNN had the debate last night not Fox. But Fox whips those folks up all the time, so they should be ashamed of themselves anyway.

    I was reading the definition of “psychopathy” on Wikipedia for work (don’t ask) and it was remarkable how it matched up with Newt. Here’s one paragraph:

    “… their egocentricity is comparable to that of narcissists, and indeed it is occasionally hard to distinguish the two conditions from each other.[64] In terms of generalizations and stereotypes, they think they are the center of the universe and see themselves as superior beings. They often appear arrogant, opinionated, domineering, and cocky. Allegedly, a psychopath always thinks he is the smartest person in the room and has no respect for the differing opinions of others. Psychopaths are claimed to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement. They expect large rewards for mediocre efforts, apply for important jobs despite lacking qualifications, demand authority and privileges above their rank, and are ungrateful. It is not uncommon for psychopaths to describe their victims as weak, inferior beings who deserve to be taken advantage of.[65]”

    Applying for important jobs – like president of the United States for heaven’s sake

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  49. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Well Deborah, how often does a technical term borrowed for a book title provide a perfect metaphor for what happens in the book?

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  50. Kim said on January 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    @JWfromNJ: Yes, I am familiar with that styling of the mandatory tie and it’s exactly the affectation. Ya know, “all those damned grownups made me get dressed up but all I wanna do is tell ya a story.”

    Caliban, those two Stegner books are exquisite examples of fine writing.

    I interviewed Paula Deen not long ago and can assure you of this: She is a dirty old lady and funny as hell.

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  51. brian stouder said on January 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    She’s at least an Escalade.

    I dunno…The whole Gingerich (last syllable rhymes with “prick”, when correctly pronounced) vibe strikes me as very 1980’s….

    and with that in mind, I think Callista is more akin to a 1980’s Cordoba, which (as Dexter pointed out) started out as a flashy thing with fine Corinthian leather (etc), and ends up as sort of a faux-flashy albatross in the driveway.

    Although I see the point about the Escalade, which becomes impossibly impractical if you can’t afford a $500,000 “revolving line of credit” (at Marathon).

    Continuing the metaphor, I suppose Dr Paul is like an International Harvester Scout, in that one cannot tell whether the concept was more ahead of its time, or simply (and hopelessly) out of step for all time; Santorum is like a 2010 Toyota – luring gullible people into strapping their asses in behind his wheel, before suddenly and uncontrollably accelerating toward a horrible crash; and Romney is (of course) either an AMC Matador (that car’s headlights definitely evoke Mitt’s eyes) as he flaps the red cape and sidesteps demands for his taxes; or an itinerant Rambler – depositing money in the Cayman Islands (amongst other places) and quietly deciding where (in the whole wide world) he wants to live out his top-tenth of 1% life*, after he loses his race for the presidency.

    *I hope (and trust) that the Obama campaign noticed that flash of genuine anger that Mitt displayed, when a voter in the rope line asked him about being a 1% guy. Mitty has a bit of a glass jaw, and a temper that takes control of his tongue, on selected issues

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  52. Rana said on January 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Angle of Repose is amazing. I always wanted to assign it to my students when I was teaching history of the American West, but it’s too long (and that right there is a condemnation of how education works these days…). As a person born and raised in the West, I find it can be tiring dealing with other people’s assumptions about what the place is like (I’m sure people from other regions have similar experiences), but Stegner, bless him, got it.

    For the small world files: Chris Clarke, of the rabbit story, is a friend of mine, and I once wrote a few articles for a group blog of his.

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  53. Sue said on January 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    It appears someone in South Carolina is attempting to do to Newt what Karl Rove did to John McCain, using an aborted kid this time instead of a black one. Well, it worked once I guess; why not try it again?

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  54. Jeff Borden said on January 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm


    I saw that clip. There’s another where he sneers at a young Peruvian woman who asks him about his opposition to the Dream Act because she was brought to this country as a child illegally. Then, his supporters turn on her and tell her to go back to Mexico!

    Nice folks, these Republicans.

    Mitt looks at most of us as “the help” and he doesn’t fancy talking to us very much, LOL. He truly is the whitest white man in America.

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  55. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    If the feds can do stuff like this what is the argument for SOPA and PIPA?

    Bizarre crowdpleaser from Willard.

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  56. Connie said on January 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Loved the auto descriptions Brian. Especially as the former owner of a Matador.

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  57. alex said on January 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Suzanne, I finally had the chance to check out those videos. How on earth could anyone possibly eat that shit? Of course, I’m the sort of person who avoids marshmallows and angel food the same way some people avoid beets and anchovies. To each his own.

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  58. LAMary said on January 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    “Callista as a Chevrolet? With that hair and all the Tiffany baubles? Please. She’s at least an Escalade.”

    She’s a Le Baron convertible with fake wood siding. Have you ever seen one of those?
    That list of writers who have studied with Stegner is interesting. I count six of those as favorites, as is Louise Erdrich. Then there’s Cormac McCarthy who is remarkable as well.
    I can see the connection between Larry McMurty and Stegner. They both build characters so real I miss them when I have to stop reading, and wonder what they are doing while I’m away.

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  59. caliban said on January 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Edward Abbey’s work establishes him as an acolyte of Stegner’s, or an apostle, athough, with the exception of the hillarious rolicking Monkey Wrench/Hayduke novels, Abbey wrote non-fiction (or perhaps some tall tales) of his solitary times in the West. Actually, The Monkey Wrench Gang is one of the funniest novels ever written. Desert Solitaire is perhaps Abbey’s best book, a stunning collection of essays and memoir. Actually, McMurtey said that Abbey was “the Thoreau of the American West”.

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  60. Deborah said on January 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I’m a big fan of Abbey, the Monkey Wrench Gang is a favorite. My time in the high desert of New Mexico makes me relate to that and Desert Solitaire.

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  61. Rana said on January 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Yup, Abbey fan here as well.

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  62. Connie said on January 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Am I the only one out here who thinks women just aren’t going to vote for Newt?

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  63. Sherri said on January 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    The first Stegner I ever picked up was Crossing to Safety, and I fell in love.

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  64. Dexter said on January 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    “The Cubs are set to give Bryan LaHair a chance to be their next first baseman.” (from a Sun Times story).
    This continues the legacy passed down from another Cub first baseman of long ago, the infamous Peter LaCock.

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  65. Kirk said on January 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Wasn’t Pete LaCock the son of TV quizmaster Peter Marshall?

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  66. brian stouder said on January 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Well, I invested the 11 minutes and 24 seconds, and as Nancy says, the emotional look-up at the end looked all-too theatrical. Plus, what does the schmuck say, during the in-studio remarks?

    “Of course, I’m proud to be white”.


    He just spent 11.5 minutes exploring the ambiguity of such a statement, and then he says that? It was somewhat jarring.

    Racial stuff, in the end, is ridiculous; and his piece effectively made that point, as they talked about being less than “1/64 black” in order to be white.

    ‘Course, what if you’re a Jew, or you’re Slavic, or if you have some Asian roots….and of course the guy points out he has some native American in him (that seems to be the cachet trace element to have, in one’s blood). In the 1940’s, your family could be rounded up and imprisoned, for the crime of being Japanese on the West Coast. …but all the German sons of bitches (my family included) could skate along under the radar because you can see Japanese (or at least you might think you can; but what if a person is Korean or Chinese or whatever else; how would that be distinguished from Japanese?)

    I think all most regular people want to do in life is – get on with it. We all want a fair shot at life; at education and employment and fun and love. Why should things one cannot control – such as their family tree – be a live issue, and even a problem (or a cross to bear)? Nobody would choose that.

    By way of saying, I’m still pondering why a person would say “I’m proud to be white”.

    Truly, what does such a statement mean? Newt Gingerich’s views to the contrary notwithstanding, white people are not singled out for being white the way others are for their skin color. I can see why a person would say “I’m proud to be black” or “I’m proud to be Burmese” because other people make an issue of your race, and treat you differently because of it.

    White folks can be on cruise control and never even think about such things, much less think to make ridiculous remarks like “I’m proud to be white”. Why not “I’m proud to be heterosexual”, or “I’m proud to be 5′ 8”, or “I’m proud to be dull and average”, etc?

    The guy raises all these interesting points, and then says “of course I’m proud to be white” – making the whole thing an incoherent bit of self-gratification.

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  67. Crazycatlady said on January 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I grew up in the Detroit Public School system. I recall when I was about 7 or 8 when our Principal came to our class. She told us we were getting a new student and we were told in no uncertain terms we were NOT to say anything about her being black. We were to be kind, and if anything rude was said there would be consequences! She was a beautiful girl with green eyes and light brown nappy hair and skin the color of coffee. We later found her mother was a white woman and her dad was black.I don’t recall there ever being any problems. I did hear the word Mulatto, but had no clue what it meant. I see her a few times after we had grown up. Funny how things rush back into your memories sometimes.

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  68. moe99 said on January 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Brian, there was substantial discrimination and some violence against German Americans during WW1. They burned piles of German books, right in Columbus:

    And my grandmother told me that in addition to burning the books, the German-Americans stopped speaking German outside the home, as they had in their churches because they were afraid of reprisals.

    But what really gets me is that during World War 1 some dachshunds in the US were killed as somehow being too German.

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  69. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    All the LaCocks changed their names, oddly enough; not only was Peter (We Are) Marshall the father of the Cubs’ first baseman, Joanne Dru from “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” was his aunt. They were from West b’God Virginia, down near Logan somewhere as I recall.

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  70. JWfromNJ said on January 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    What Brian said.. That little moment that seemed unscripted detracted from the story itself, along with it being a “gift to the city.” LeDuff really got his foot in the door by working the native american angle to land at N.Y. Times as a minority, yet without him telling anyone he isn’t likely to have faced the issues and obstacles that an ethnic minority would in life.

    Would I be justified in claiming mixed ancestry as a Sicillian American? My family on the maternal side would clearly have some mixed racial bloodlines. I don’t think that would be fair yet I know a black female journalist in my peer group who has played the race card all the way to a senior writer slot at a large N.J. newspaper group and can’t even string together a coherent sentence and has a personality more abrasive than sandpaper. She isn’t alone but clearly has advanced well beyond where her writing and reporting skills alone considered in a vaccuum would have carried her.

    Beyond the rant was I the only one who found it a little off that LeDuff’s mother and father were step-brother and sisters? G’nite all and have a great weekend.

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  71. brian stouder said on January 20, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Beyond the rant was I the only one who found it a little off that LeDuff’s mother and father were step-brother and sisters? G’nite all and have a great weekend.

    That caught my ear, too – and then I thought maybe I misunderstood.

    Moe – understood; and here in Fort Wayne, major changes occurred during the first World War. Apparently we had a German-language newspaper that went by the boards at that time, and a major local bank changed its name from the German American Bank to the Lincoln National Bank.

    But walking down the street, you could blend in…a story I have heard is that my grandpa – or someone! – changed the pronunciation of our last name (Stouder) away from rhyming with “powder”, to rhyming with “scooter” – to be less German.

    But, that story is hearsay (so to speak)

    and one more thing about Romney’s eyes, and the AMC Matador:

    I rest my case

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  72. Bitter Scribe said on January 21, 2012 at 12:17 am

    That woman at 5:00—WTF is that on her head? A paper crown?? Does anyone over the age of about 6 wear those things?

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  73. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Pete LaCock had a great porn stache to go with his name.

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  74. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 21, 2012 at 10:06 am

    The great-aunt is apparently being filmed at a birthday party, I would assume for her — in the first sequence with her, you can see a helium balloon to her left that looks birthdayish, and that’s the kind of thing they sell for “the birthday girl” to wear.

    The story did stick with me, and while I’ve not yet been tempted to three viewings, I just watched it a second time. The problem is the way Charlie is in the story, but I can’t quite find a dispassionate, even semi-objective way to put it. He just seems like a bit of a poser, but one with a lack of self-awareness, which I think is what’s coming across.

    He actually does a good job of trying to sketch, in what’s a short piece even if it’s “War and Peace” for an evening news slot, the rise of a new form of racism in the South after Reconstruction collapses, the Great Migration to the North, and the development of a new sort of racism there (1920’s Klan, the growth of real estate covenants before redlining, much else that Jim Loewen deals with at length in “Sundown Towns” of how racial mixing, in small ways at least, started to get scrubbed off the municipal landscape in the Midwest from 1890s forward); then he artfully reframes the 1967 riots having nodded to the typical White narrative at the outset of the piece. The close with grandfather buying a gun, and “he was talking about himself” was powerful.

    Then the camera cuts to LeDuff, looking stunned into the monitor. As I think Nancy said, bull. That’s a put-on, like Newt’s indignation. The piece is built on personal narrative, and that’s what we’re going to get more of, and I can accept that. It’s the whole heavy Cajun accent — dude, how would that be so strong with you, given the story you tell and the voices of your parents & aunt? C’mon.

    So that’s the “running to succeed Albom” element that’s so off-putting, IMHO. He’s putting on a bit too much, and uneasily convincing me he’s not even keeping track of self and show. Speaking of which, if you have any knowledge of the Tucker Max oeuvre, there’s a long article at about where the man is now, and it’s interesting to see and hear what happens when you start to try to keep track of that line within your own heart. I’ll try to post the link; gotta run to a Pinewood Derby.

    Edit: I did bookmark it, after all –

    Brian, I think his “Of course, I’m proud to be white” was an incredibly awkward (and un-self-aware) way of trying to say “I’m not trying to claim now that I’m black, but apparently I am.” He can’t, for all kinds of perfectly reasonable reasons, say “I’m proud to be black,” but like Mitt Romney, he hasn’t figured out what he wants to actually say from the heart, he’s just keeping track of the things he absolutely must not say, starting with not saying “I’m proud to be black.” Because he is smart enough to know he can’t grow up the way he did, and live as he has, and now say based on genealogy “I’m black!” I guess he could have smiled and said into the camera “So there’s that…” but that wouldn’t have fit his feisty, scrappy persona.

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  75. alex said on January 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I must confess that my fascination with interracial history was sparked in part by a family mystery of my own.

    My maternal grandfather, born in the 1890s, was a barber who worked in Fort Wayne hotels. My grandmother eloped with him in the 1920s because she was desperate to get off the farm and go live in the big city, and from what I remember her telling me, her family was quite displeased at the time. My grandfather grew up in an orphanage, but later reconnected with his father. Family members have told me that my great grandfather was absolutely scandalous. He worked as a ditch digger and cohabited with a black woman unmarried. He died in 1929.

    Now tell me. Does that sound like the profile of a white man to you?

    We’ve hit a dead end as regards my grandfather’s paternal genealogy, but we know that his mother was a WASP in Adams County, Indiana, who divorced my great grandfather in the 1890s and walked away from the four children they had between them. I never knew my grandfather because he died young of a stroke.

    People in my family know this set of facts and yet refuse to believe that it walks and quacks like a duck. They even make me doubt it.

    Part of my fascination with “passing” also stems from having grown up gay. People treat you like a second-class citizen for that too if it becomes known, or at least it used to be that way, and there are many who wish it were still that way, I’m afraid. And families have an amazing capacity for denial when it comes to their members who are gay, as well.

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  76. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Maybe Mr. LeDuff could have found some guidance here:

    An astute comment fromFroma Harrop on Class and Downton Abbey.

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  77. del said on January 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I read an interesting memoir a few years ago called Life on the Color Line. It was written by the Dean of Ohio State’s law school. His dad was black and his mom white and though he looked white he was raised by his paternal grandmother in Muncie, IN. It was a good read. At one point in the story the author and his childhood friend, who was black, were sentenced for throwing rocks at a train. He was given a slap on the wrist but his friend had mistakenly strode up to the bench with an exaggerated pimp roll and was sentenced to a year in juvenile detention.

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  78. Kirk said on January 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Recommended race-related reading: “The Color of Water,” by James McBride, one of 12 kids in a black family raised by a white mother in Harlem. Mom was indomitable, and all 12 kids got through college. I had the privilege of meeting the author about 15 years ago.

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  79. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    If you want want to see the ultimate in passing for white Melodrama, with a capital M, I’d direct you to the marvelous Women’s Weepie Imitation of Life. Lana Turner is actually good in this. And of course, there is Black Like Me. And recommended race-related reading, try Black Like Me. When I was a junior at the Detroit Jesuit HS, we had a day where we went to other schools. I met an attractive girl at Cass Tech and asked her to go to the Michigan State Fair with me. We were standing and watching the Supreme’s do a song, and yahoos from Warren jumped my ass. Ended up in Southfield ER. and never found out where my date ended up. My mom and dad drove us to the date. Girl’s name was Iris. I don’t believe in any bullshit that says the USA has moved beyond racism. Never going to. People suck? Yeah, they are despicable. But not personally.

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  80. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Whatever anybody says.

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  81. Deb said on January 21, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Just short of vile I suppose. I certainly would not have finished watching it unprompted-for one thing, the eye rolling was wearing me out. I certainly didn’t feel all of the drama and angst they were attempting to create.

    But I did particularly grimace at a line by the mom: “I don’t care if he was black and I could have seen it, I love that man” Imagine that.

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  82. beb said on January 21, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Proving that politics is weird, projections coming out of S Carolina says Newtie beat out Willard by almost 10%. What a difference a week makes.

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  83. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how in Downton’s Abbey rich kids lose imbs? It seems to me that only one person had war tight, and he breathed gas. Dulce et decorum est. Pro patria mori. No it isn’t you assholes. There is no excuse. I used to get pummeled by cops over this shit. Fuck the cos.

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  84. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Look Beb, that is the nigger vote. I guarantee you nobody in SC has a clue, but Newt has no ratsnest in here.

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  85. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    in Carolina, we believe these folks are full of shit. What we think and what we know, might be two different things. Whatever some Tankee thinks. Kiss my ass you know-it-all

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  86. MarkH said on January 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    caliban, you left a lot dangling back there. You suggest your date that night was a woman of color. And, you got jumped, perhaps because of that. And you lost track of her? You were beaten bad enough to go to the hospital and there were no police involved to track her down? Your parents took you to the fair and they didn’t try to find out what happened to her? That’s quite a mystery.

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  87. caliban said on January 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Mark H. No mystery. It was Detroit and a different time. It most certainly happened, if you are sugggesting it didnt. You weren’t there, And it’s a rare time I got my ass kicked. You’re implicatipn is obnoxious.

    why would I make this shit up? Really happened moron and I’d like to meet these aholes with my brothers sometime,

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  88. brian stouder said on January 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Well, here we are. After watching Mr Gingerich (last syllable rhymes with “prick”, if you are pronouncing his name correctly) deliver a singularly graceless and tinny victory speech in South Carolina, here are the questions I am pondering:

    1. When was the last time a successful presidential candidate was as flatly angry and resentful and divisive as Newton Leroy McPherson? Dick Nixon was a score-settler and a guy who would engage in rhetorical bomb-throwing…and we saw how his presidency played out. Were there others? Maybe Andrew Johnson?

    2. Why am I supposed to be scared of Saul Alinsky? What on earth is supposed to be so terrible about that guy? That he was a Jew who also was also a community organizer? Is it intrinsically wrong or illegitimate to be a “community organizer”? More-so than, say, selling one’s soul to a multi-billionaire casino-owning good fella?

    3. What does Sheldon Adelson (the aforementioned multi-billionaire casino-owning good fella) hope to gain, in exchange for personally bankrolling Newton’s presidential campaign? (my guess is – nothing less than his immortal soul, but who knows? Maybe the guy just wants help with breaking into new markets, eh?)

    4. And finally, thinking about Mitty’s (temporary? or is it final?) implosion, what really is wrong (if anything) with having opinions and views that change over time? As the case changes, so, too, might one’s thinking, yes? Why can’t he embrace that and point out that a person who never changes their mind about anything is about as useful as a stopped clock. Why bother electing a living, breathing person – if all we really need are a set of engraved stones that contain the rules to be followed.

    Other than that, g’night, everyone. And, I don’t think MarkH was calling you out, Caliban; and Jeff – good point about what might have impelled the local news guy to make such an odd statement.

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  89. Dexter said on January 22, 2012 at 12:28 am

    I always heard that Etta James was the daughter of Minnesota Fats. By now you know Etta passed on Friday at the young age of 73.
    I didn’t know much about her until about 15 years ago. I learned that she above all others conveyed true love and emotion through her craft. She got to me through these songs, much the same way Janis Joplin had touched me years earlier. I just was not exposed to Etta’s work back when Janis ruled.
    Maybe the media shelved her because of her addictions, maybe they blackballed her for other reasons. I feel privileged to have been a fan in these latter years of her life. She was never obtuse, you always knew what was on her mind, and it was dirty, but sweet.

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  90. Connie said on January 22, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Brian, Alinsky’s 1971 book “Rules for Radicals” was intended to pass on his organizing skills to the upcoming generation. I read it for a class in college. The only thing I remember is how to shut down your campus library: over a period of time check out all the books then return them all at once.

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  91. Jolene said on January 22, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Dexter, The New Yorker has a good piece on Etta James, complete w/ playlist.

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  92. mark said on January 22, 2012 at 8:58 am

    “because you can see Japanese (or at least you might think you can; but what if a person is Korean or Chinese or whatever else; how would that be distinguished from Japanese?)”

    WTF? Yes, except for how they look, speak, eat, worship, etc., Asians are indistinguishable.

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  93. caliban said on January 22, 2012 at 11:09 am

    People can try to blame it on South Carolina, but here in SC, we know it’s largely the Snowbirds that live in places like Sun City Hilton Head, that is literally 10 miles from the closest part of Hilton Head. They don’t pay for HHI schools either. Look, if Newt is the picture, Mitt is Dorian Gray, and the USA probably deserves him. And knocking off Newt is starting to seem as difficult as killing Rasputin.

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  94. beb said on January 22, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Coach Joe Paterno skates in the child molestation probe… by dying over night.

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  95. brian stouder said on January 22, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Mark – agreed, of course. That was the point.

    My mom, who grew up in Brooklyn during the Second World War recalls seeing people with buttons that said “I am Chinese”, attempting to preclude being seen as Japanese…..which is an absudity on top of an absurdity.

    And as Beb says, Joe Paterno passes, and once again gets a pass.

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  96. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Never met Alinsky (he died in the early 70s) but got community organizing training from some of his students, Ed somebody & Tom Gaudette when I was working with Lafayette (IN) Urban Ministries, and others from their team when I was with NESCO in Indianapolis. I apparently was at a program that Barack Obama would have been at, but don’t recall meeting him, and there were 200 of us there, so oh well. But “Rules for Radicals” is really an equal opportunity book, aimed at anyone trying to organize diffuse groups (neighborhoods, communities, socio-ethnic populations) around common goals & visions, especially in the face of powerful resistance. He was brilliant, and his advice is useful — and both Newt & Obama/Axelrod would do well to recall that Alinsky/IAF’s first principle, always taught with great emphasis, was “Never do for people what they can do themselves, and people can always do more than they think.”

    Conservatives should smile and nod at that, let alone progressives. Pastors & church leaders who haven’t read it are making a big mistake, and just in case I’m not being clear: Newt has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s just trying to make Alinksy into a boogie-man. Good luck with that thinly veiled anti-Semitism in Florida, Mr. Speaker.

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  97. caliban said on January 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Etta James doing Bob Dylan:

    and James Brown:

    Community organizing, by definition, is the core of both Christianity and government. Pretending it has something to do with Socialism is so ignorant it’s astounding. Sadly, people are stupid.

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  98. caliban said on January 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Etta James doing Wolf:

    and Clarence Carter:

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  99. brian stouder said on January 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Jeff – well said! (as usual)

    Truly, this meme (or incantation?), wherein simply saying the name “Saul Alinsky” is supposed to make people recoil, puzzles me. It strikes me as a nod toward the talk-radio listeners, who almost have a second language of such references, all of which are ambiguous (at best) to a fair-minded person, but black-and-white (so to speak) to them. Saying the word “Solyndra” leaps to mind; and another newer one is trying to use the word “bigotry” against the president (anti-religious bigotry? What?)

    Leaving that aside,

    Caliban Alert!! Caliban Alert!!

    Caliban, check out this article (by friend of NN.c, Emma Downs) which immediately reminded me of YOU! Two Fort Wayne brothers, who both passionately love books, ran a venerable urban book store, until parting ways – and then with each of them running their own stores.

    An excerpt:

    Both stores are perfumed by the musty smell of yellowing paper and book glue. Both use the same system of organizing books by subject with narrow, handwritten signs. Both stores are ripe for wandering around without the foggiest idea of what kind of a book you hope to find. The majority of the differences have to do with the man behind the counter.
    Unlike Hyde Brothers, Every Other Book keeps decorating to a minimum. A stuffed raven wearing a Santa hat and a collection of stuffed penguins grace a couple of shelves. Everything else is easily within reach of proper dusting. It’s smaller too – only one story to Hyde Brothers’ two stories – and quiet. Unlike Sam, who is surrounded by a handful of longtime employees he has nicknamed “The Crew,” Joel works alone, happy to chat occasionally with a customer or two. “The great discovery of opening my own store is that I’m not the curmudgeon I always thought I was,” Joel says.

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  100. Jolene said on January 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    This is the Etta James link I meant to post.

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  101. caliban said on January 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Very enjoyable story Brian. I be the brother with all the decorating detritus. Sadly, no trombone. I’d love to visit both these stores. In real life, my brothers have been appropriating my books and albums for years rather than a fair distribution as these guys managed.

    Right wangers are delusional to the point of derangement on the subject of Saul Alinsky. There was a Jebbie from Chicago named Paddy Callahan that brought Alinsky into our Sociology classes back in the late 60s. He also introduced us to Studs Terkel. We read Rules for Radicals, which matched up well with Jesuit ideas about theology and our duty as Christians to influence political society to effect change. Anyway, the GOPers seem to have Alinsky confused with Leon Trotsky, maybe because they were both Jewish and wore those round spectacles. Here’s and example, that would be funny if it weren’t so sad:

    I mean, Alinsky derangement syndrome could have it’s own citation in DSM IV. Starts with an inherent distrust of anything academic.

    Oh Christ. I just heard the turd Matt Millen on TV saying that “Coach Paterno died of a broken heart.”

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  102. cosmo panzini said on January 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Coach Paterno was treated very shabbily, and the Penn State big-wigs should be ashamed of themselves

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  103. nancy said on January 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Um, no he wasn’t. He deserved to be fired, and he’s lucky that’s all he got. Please don’t start in with your “it’s no big deal” defense. Do NOT go there.

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  104. paddyo' said on January 22, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    One more thought about Friday’s original thread before Charlie LeDuff’s it’s-all-about-ME piece takes its permanent place in the dusty digital videotape library at Fox@2 News:

    Caliban @76 had a great YouTube clip to parrot Charlie’s style, but when I watched the Detroit race piece on Friday, I kept thinking about THIS form of TV “journalism”

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  105. brian stouder said on January 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Paddyo – great clip. And speaking of clips, Jolene’s Etta link is superb. And regarding Paula Deen, the one time she really surprised me (years ago!) was when she was going to fry bacon, and first melted butter in the pan!

    Rachel Ray she ain’t!

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  106. Joe Kobiela said on January 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    When the Penn State scandel broke, I told my wife that Paterno would be dead in 6 months. If your upset that he wasn’t punished, If your a athiest I don’t know what to tell you, wanting a pound of flesh is a human emotion but if your a believer in a higher power and he was guilty then I feel comfortable that he is being punished as we speak.
    Pilot Joe

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  107. JWfromNJ said on January 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    And NN comes out swinging to end the Poor JoePa b.s. before it takes root! woot!

    I thought the student editor for Onward State showed amazing class and professionalism through his apology and resignation… BUT I wonder if his initial report wasn’t correct. I don’t hear anyone saying a time of death, and I realize it’s a family matter and a private thing but I’d hate to think this kid was right and fell on his sword to patronize the family.

    They sourced an email that went to all Penn State football players announcing Paterno’s passing. Was the email sent prematurely, or was the family just not ready to announce the death? Either way the kid showed class that is often lacking in our society – in the media, in government, and in business. He’s the winner in my book.

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  108. Deborah said on January 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Newt and Paterno don’t move me but Gabby Giffords does. Hopefully she has the time to concentrate on healing and is able some day to return to public life.

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  109. caliban said on January 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    People are strange. But very few people are stranger than Michael Jackson was. Wee tim’rous beastie. Maybe he picked up n this from his personal haggis chef.

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  110. MichaelG said on January 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I remember when Gest and Minnelli divorced and he sued her for beating the shit out of him. That was truly funny.

    Etta James had some good songs but I was never a fan and am still not a fan of screaming being substituted for singing. Ella Fitzgerald, the greatest of them all, , never screeched.

    Paterno was eighty five. The media didn’t kill him, the exposure of his disgusting secrets didn’t kill him. He died of lung cancer. There’s no way to get around his being complicit in the hushing up of Sandusky’s activities. The press keeps talking about “molestation” as if Sandusky ruffled the hair of a cute little ten year old boy. If what I have read is correct, the proper term is “rape”, as in Sandusky penetrating those cute little ten year olds anally long after Paterno had been alerted. There’s a world of difference between simple molestation and rape and a world of shame on Paterno’s head. Sorry. No compassion here.

    If the 49ers had a quarterback they’d be dangerous. I’d say there’s an opening for a punt returner but Williams was a fill in for the injured Ted Ginn. I wonder where Williams will be next year.

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