Public works.

A few weeks ago, a bunch of us went for our annual bike ride to the Hare Krishna mansion for dinner. We detoured through Riverfront-Lakewood Park in Detroit. It was a mess — overgrown, strewn with trash, scary-looking. You can’t tell from this view:

But if I’ve set up the map correctly and you’re seeing the satellite view, you can see two boats, dumped there on the grass. One is just off the driveway, another at the northwest corner of the parking lot. Both have been stripped of every piece of sellable hardware, and graffiti artists have tagged them the S.S. Kwame (the former mayor now on trial for racketeering), and the Carlita (his lovely wife).

This got a big chuckle from the group, and we didn’t give much more thought to it until a few days ago, when my friend Laurie saw this column in Crain’s Detroit Business, comparing and contrasting Riverfront-Lakewood, the adjacent Angel Park and Grosse Pointe Park’s Windmill Pointe Park. They stand three abreast down the Lake St. Clair/Detroit River junction, although Windmill Pointe is behind a tall chain-link fence. (Residents only.)

She posted this on Facebook, and a member of the city staff piped up and said the Detroit parks are basically on triage, and that these two have been more or less abandoned. If you care so much, he wrote, why don’t you clean it up yourself?

Laurie thought about it for a while and said, “Well, OK.”

So last Saturday we rode our bikes down to do some reconnaissance. And what did we find? About a dozen people who live nearby, a bunch of mowers, a dozen stuffed garbage bags and a party going on. They hadn’t read anything in Crain’s. They just wanted to reclaim the park. And they’d made quite a dent, but it was a pretty huge job for just a few people. “If only we could get this place mowed,” one woman said. It turns out we could help with that. Remember the Mower Gang?

They showed up last night, at least 20 of them, on a variety of riding mowers, including the new Husqvarna donated by the company, who’d heard of their good work on behalf of the city’s beleaguered parklands.

These guys cook with the awesome sauce. In about two hours, they had that park mowed flat and were working on the Kwame and the Carlita. One guy had a Ford F-450 dually, and on the first try to dislodge Kwame from its years-long mooring place, snapped the tow strap. I got the feeling a guy who owns a truck that big doesn’t take failure lightly. He turned it around and pushed that goddamn boat a few times, and then someone got a chain, and before long he had towed it into the parking lot.

(Carlita came along a little more peacefully. A guy with a saws-all sliced that girl right down the middle. We’re hoping that lets the city pick it up easily.)

There’s still a lot to be done. The trash is pretty bad, and a few years’ worth of bait cans and tequila bottles can’t be picked up in a couple of hours. We’re going back on Saturday, maybe with a chain saw to get the last of the mulberry trees that are growing up through the seawall.

But even if we don’t, people can spend the last few pleasant weeks of the year in a pretty nice waterfront park. (You can click any of those photos and see them larger.)

So there’s that. Now it’s almost 11 p.m., and I just watched the debate. Sorry, but I think Obama was a little weak. Not a disaster, but he wasn’t on. We’ll see how the rest go. Meanwhile, some bloggage? Sure:

Our reader, and occasional commenter, Cathy D. had her phone stolen at a dinner Saturday night. She deactivated the phone, but the thing still works as a wi-fi device, and over the weekend discovered the thief was taking pictures, probably unaware they were being automatically uploaded to her Dropbox account. So now she has pictures of the thieves, but the recovery is still not happening. The local teevee station tries to get things moving.

Another amazing portrait of one of Detroit’s amazing characters by Detroitblogger John.

Like his house, some find Migo an unpleasant presence. He doesn’t wash, and he smells like it. He has an opening in his neck from throat cancer surgery, and to talk he presses a finger into the hole to create a hoarse, raspy voice underlined by an air-gasping wheeze when he breathes.

He’s bitter and complains about most things. And every minute or so, he turns his head and spits out a batch of syrupy drool. Sometimes it falls to the pavement, sometimes it drips onto him. He’s a spectacle.

And he simply doesn’t care. He’s had it.

“You can’t be decent,” he sneers. “You don’t want to be decent because these people are not decent. I say fuck it.” He pauses to spit again. Then he says, “I’m sorry. I don’t like to use bad words.”

That’s almost a perfect description. The only change I’d make is to delete “air” from the first paragraph.

Well, if he wants to go look at the river this weekend, he won’t have to battle tall grass to do it.

Posted at 12:03 am in Detroit life |

98 responses to “Public works.”

  1. Jakash said on October 4, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Regarding the debate, Brian said: “I was happy at the end of the debate, and not surprised by the post-game analysis.” Well, I was depressed at the end of the debate, and not surprised by the post-game analysis.

    NN says “Sorry, but I think Obama was a little weak.” That seems like a gracious understatement to me. I thought he was outperformed handily by Romney and can’t understand why Obama couldn’t counter more of Romney’s bull. He didn’t need to smirk at his opponent, as Brian suggested Romney did, but he could have kept his eyes off the podium a bit more. Of course, when the economy is still anemic and Romney is casually promising he’ll create 12 million jobs, I don’t know how exactly one might refute that. I don’t think Obama needed to mention the 47% — I think that’s pretty indelibly in people’s minds, anyway — but he needed something better to rebut the Medicare stuff.

    I hope this is just a blip on the radar, but I fear that the commentariat is pretty solidly scoring this a win for Romney and, for most people who paid no attention to the actual debate, that’s all they’ll hear. Plus, it’ll probably give a critically needed jolt to his lame campaign. Maybe it won’t matter in the long run, but it’s not what I was expecting, at all.

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  2. Dexter said on October 4, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Kudos to nance, her friends, The Mower Gang, and the Husqvarna folks who donated the big machine. I admit to being a littebug in my younger daze, when I’d scream down the road tossing empty beer bottles out the window. Now I get mad when I see blatant littering, such as I saw yesterday while dog-walking. A man in a pickup truck, a nice Chevy Silverado, flipped out his coffee cup onto the roadway , and I would have picked it up, but I was on a path, separated from the road by a steep ditch, so I just let that one go. An elderly couple, decked out in yellow safety vests, nail-in-stick, and accompanied by an old dog , clean up all the trash along that path every day, and they’ll find a way to get to the errant cup.

    My old work buddy Tom told me a story years ago that I never forgot. Tom saw some people stop by a riverbank and dump a few months of household trash. Tom followed the vehicle and noted the residence where they pulled into and entered the house. Later he recruited his best pal and his own son and they took giant bags down to the river and policed up every scrap of trash and took them right to the offenders’ house and scattered the stuff on the yard, and left a nasty warning on the windshield.

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  3. JWfromNJ said on October 4, 2012 at 2:53 am

    In my senior year of high school I had a part time job at our town landfill. It was only for yard waste and my job was to check resident stickers and keep contractors or people with a stack of household trash out.

    One Saturday afternoon I swung the main gate closed and waited for the last few residents to finsih offloading. When I went to close the exit I spotted four hefty bags full of household trash dumped at the gate. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I tore them open. I found a bunch of junk mail, all addressed to my (asshat) vice-principal. I was delighted when I got to call him and tell him he had to come get it or the police were going to issue a citation. He gave my friends and I a wide berth until graduation.

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  4. Kaye said on October 4, 2012 at 3:03 am

    The park clean-up story makes me happy. I’m astounded that people purposely bring trash to a park. It’s not as if that toilet just happened to fall of a truck in the parking lot. Same for the giant (heavy!)television. Once you have the stuff in the truck why not go to a proper waste site? Dumping fees must be the issue.

    Dexter, I like your trash-collection stories too. I have been known to toss an apple core out of a car window, telling myself it is biodegradable(or groundhog food)and therefore not a big deal. Tossing a banana peel feels wrong though.

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  5. coozledad said on October 4, 2012 at 4:43 am

    The debate demonstrated how Obama has to work within the framework of the institutionalized racism of old media hacks like Lehrer, who was happy to let Romney talk over Obama’s statements with a string of non sequitors, and happier still to schoolmarm Obama when he was developing his points.

    Romney and Lehrer functioned as the old coordinated unit: The entitled fratboy and the suckup pledge. From the opening they’d cast Obama as the help. The press will go on at length with the pseudoscience of body language, and which appearances were “telegraphed”, and this gives them an opening to help shore up a narrative favoring the angry white liar.

    Romney was up there selling grab bags, and we’re discussing his grab bag selling technique. It’s appalling to me as a human that a creature who advocates expanding the role of extrajudicial detention and torture even gets a hearing in a national forum, instead of mopping floors at a BDSM club, but here we are.

    Obama did what he always does, slowly feeding the inevitable loser his two yards of rope, and letting him lie his ass into a corner. Romney’s boxed in.

    Now we just run the tape against his intentionally vague proposals.

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  6. Deborah said on October 4, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I love the mower gang stories. It revives my faith in human beings.

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  7. ROGirl said on October 4, 2012 at 5:10 am

    If Lehrer had actually stopped Mitt from his laundry list of talking points, imagine what the uproar would have been like.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 4, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Nice piece of “tikkun olam” by you and your friends, proprietress. Kudos!

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  9. coozledad said on October 4, 2012 at 7:00 am

    The places the bullshittery of horseracery will take you:

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  10. alex said on October 4, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I’d say Obama was definitely caught off guard and is playing at a disadvantage against someone who has no compunction about lying. I hope he and his handlers can figure out how to counteract this ploy because Romney’s doing what he does best which is telling people what they want to hear even though it contradicts everything he has ever said previously.

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  11. brian stouder said on October 4, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Mitt spewed so much smirking racist condescension that it began to bounce off – but do I recall correctly Mitt saying “You may live in a big house, and have a big airplane – but”…blah blah blah.

    Was that Gone with the Wind ‘Big House’ thing one of the preplanned ‘zingers’?

    And, how many times did Mitt mention “47 million people on food stamps”?

    If I was him, I’d avoid the number “47”, especially with reference to Americans at the bottom of the economic spectrum; but Mitt’s no dummy. Was this an innoculation? An effort to redefine what people can plainly hear him say on the infamous video taped closed-door dinner speech?

    Mitt won the night, but as Cooz correctly points out, I believe Mitt worked up a Fox News/right wing radio/wet dream lynching, but he accidently hung himself.

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  12. brian stouder said on October 4, 2012 at 8:09 am

    edit to say ‘and President Obama handed him the rope…’ (as Cooz says)

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  13. Suzanne said on October 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I wasn’t impressed with either Romney or Obama. Obama looked and acted like he didn’t want to be there and I couldn’t take Romney leering through the whole thing (looked like he had a ton of make-up on, too).

    The thing, for me, with the GOP plan is that they don’t address what happens to all the people left behind in the implementation of their grand plan. You know, those 47% of slackers. No socialized medicine, but what do you do with people who can’t get healthcare? Let them die?
    What about the people laid off when businesses reorganize to make themselves more profitable? Are they going to mandate that all these small businesses that they say are going to crop up hire them? Because right now, they aren’t.

    Jim Lehrer completely lost control of the whole thing.

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  14. beb said on October 4, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I didn’t have the stomach to watch the debates last night but my wife did. She also pronounced Romney the winner – and he hates Romney. This morning I erad an AP fact-check column which I thought was pretty bogus. One one thing they seemed determined to have as many Obama fact-checks as Romney, lead off with Obama and in general seemed to takes the President’s comments about cutting spending more critically then Romney’s airy claims. I think anyone who claims he will cut taxes, increase spending and balance the budget ought to be faulted for not saying how he does this.

    I have no idea where the city dump is located. it’s probably somewhere outside the city (naturally) which means that for an eastsider it’s a long, long drive. Then there’s the tipping fee. It’s so much easy, faster and cheaper to dump one’s trash on some vacant lot or park.

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  15. Julie Robinson said on October 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Barely 10 minutes in Romney said he loved coal, clean coal, and I started yelling “no such thing”. After that I had to disengage and didn’t even watch to the end. I needed sleep more than the aggravation.

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  16. alex said on October 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I don’t know how you debate someone who’s totally unconstrained by facts. This is new territory, along with Citizens United spending on airtime. The Koch brothers are probably patting each other on the back this very moment.

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  17. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I hated Romney’s smirky superciliousness, but, even with that, I thought he appeared more capable than Obama. Obama seemed annoyed about even having to be there and was unable to fight.

    All over the web and the airwaves, Romney supporters are trumpeting his performance, and Obama supporters are shaking their heads in disbelief–wondering how the president they love, the president they have campaigned for and sent money to, could have let them down so badly.

    The next debate is between Ryan and Biden. Can’t imagine how that will go. A couple of weeks until the next presidential debate is a long time to wait to set things right.

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  18. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Brian, Romney didn’t say anything about a “big house.” What he said was, “You can have your own house, and you can have your own plane, but you can’t have your own facts.” An awkward twist on Moynihan’s famous statement about opinions vs. facts.

    It was, though, a delegitimizing statement, implying that Obama may have the trappings of office but lacks the substantive wherewithal to cheer the demands of his job.

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  19. brian stouder said on October 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Joe Biden will absolutely clobber Randy Ryan – but so what? It won’t matter.

    Honestly, truly – I was happy with President Obama’s performance last night. I thought Chris Matthews was going to stroke out in the post-game, and that annoyed me, because all he was doing was providing video popcorn for shit-for-brains Sean Hannity, and El-oxy-boy Limbaugh.

    But so what?

    The president made no gaffes.

    He was pleasant, engaged, confident, and not angry. Romney, on the other hand, was amped up, and all over everyone – especially including the over-matched moderator. Rah rah rah – right?

    I WILL confess that I was concerned about how things would go today at work, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that folks are treating this “Romney WON!!” meme like the fool’s gold that it is.

    Deep breath; forward we go.

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  20. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Deep breath; forward we go.

    I hope–hope, hope, hope–you’re right.

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  21. Peter said on October 4, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Brian, I don’t know what debate you watched last night, but my wife thought Obama looked bad, and that’s from someone who has known him for over twenty years.

    I thought he had no interest in what was going on, although he didn’t look at his watch like Old Bush.

    He could have turned the debate around very easily – during the exchange about oil subsidies. Romney said that the oil subsidies aren’t going to the major corporations but to smaller firms, and besides, what about that 90 billion in subsidies for wind and solar power? Obama could have easily come back and say that as a businessman, you should understand that you need to invest in research and development, and that’s exactly what green power is.

    Obama could have come back on Romney’s jobs claims – hey buddy, how many jobs did you create at Bain?

    I’ll go far as to say that Obama looked like Nixon in ’60 – without the nasty makeup. Several historians noted that among people who listened to the debate on radio, Nixon came off as the better debater, but you all know what he looked like on television. My wife didn’t watch the debate – she was in the next room reading a book and listening. She watched the last 20 minutes, and I think she said it best: “Whoa, Obama sounded great, and Romney sounded whinier than usual, but my gosh Obama never looks at the camera and it looks like he just wants to go to bed”.

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  22. Mark said on October 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Thanks to Nancy and the clean-up gang for being good citizens.

    Yes, apparently dump fees discourage proper disposal of non-household trash. I was at our local transfer station one day when someone tried to dump a picnic table. The attendant told them they had to take it to the landfill and pay a fee. Just a short while later on the drive home I saw the picnic table lying beside the road up our little mountain. The disposal fee would have been quite small, nominal really for something like one picnic table, but the drive to the landfill would have taken the better part of an hour. I think the county shares some responsibility for not making it easier to dispose of non-household garbage. You simply can’t expect most people to do much more than toss their garbage out into their front yard. After all, we do share a lot of DNA with chimps.

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  23. del said on October 4, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Changing from the debate for a moment, click on the video link to the Crain’s Detroit Business article about the riverfront park in Detroit.

    At the end of the video the reporter hears nearby gunshots — in broad daylight!

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  24. Cathy D. said on October 4, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for the shout-out, Nancy! And since I read using RSS feeds it kind of makes me a stalker who keeps my opinions in my head. Which is negligent on my part, since the comments are the second-best part of the blog.

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  25. Dorothy said on October 4, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I’m going to think of last night’s debate as the tortoise and the hare. I hope it’s obvious which was which. I will hold onto my belief that our President will remain the President for four more years.

    I am full of nothing but admiration for Nancy and her friends (and family – assuming Alan came along?) for what they have done and will continue to do to help clean up that site. If only the world had more responsible and civic-minded people like them to spread around! This was a nice way to start the day, reading about this clean up project. I was feeling so much better yesterday afternoon,and then Mike had a long, angry conversation with his miserable aunt last night. It’s good she’s 3 hours away from us because if she were here, I easily could have committed murder last night.

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  26. alex said on October 4, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Elliot Spitzer writes about what it’s like to debate Glenn Beck — and probably feels a good bit of empathy for the president right now.

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  27. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Barack Obama fighting back. Where was this last night?

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  28. brian stouder said on October 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Haven’t you kept up, Joelene?

    Probably, the president was just sleepy…he’s pretty shif’less, ya know…but he does have rythym..

    GINGRICH: Well, but you have to wonder what he’s doing. I mean, I’m assuming there’s some rhythm to Barack Obama that the rest of us don’t understand, whether he needs large amounts of rest, whether he needs to go play basketball for a while. I don’t, you know, watch ESPN. I mean, I don’t quite know what his rhythms are.

    But this is a guy who’s a brilliant performer as an orator, who may well, get reelected at the present date, and who, frankly, happens to be a partial sub — part-time president. I mean, he really is a lot like the substitute referees in the sense that he’s not a real president.

    I mean, he doesn’t do any of the things presidents do. He doesn’t worry about any of the things presidents do. But he has the White House. He has enormous power. He’ll go down in history as president. And I suspect he’s pretty contemptuous of the rest of us.”

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  29. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Agree, Brian, that Gingrich statement was loathsome. I really don’t know why he is still invited to speak anywhere.

    Check out what happened w/ Kitchen Aid’s Twitter account during the debate. Can you imagine how pissed that CEO must be?

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  30. Julie Robinson said on October 4, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Hmm, I was just considering buying a grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid but was put off by the price, $60. We’re not buying hamburger anymore, and the food processor doesn’t grind quite the way we like. Now I don’t think I want the Kitchen Aid at any price.

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  31. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

    If you really make that decision, Julie, you should email their customer relations people to tell them what you’re doing and why.

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  32. Julie Robinson said on October 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Excellent idea, Jolene, and I will. Companies need to know their actions have consequences and I think all they understand is $$$.

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  33. Dexter said on October 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Kaye #4…I went camping a few times with my friend Bob and his buddy on a desolate beach with difficult access near Santa Cruz, California. Bob made extra cash by making sand candles his own particular way, and selling them to the artsy stores along Ocean Boulevard in Carmel. Bob was the epitome of the word “mellow”. He was a gentle soul with a love of Mother Earth that knew no bounds. I never heard Bob raise his voice…until…on the way back from our artichoke-roast lunch on the beach, he stopped at a little store where I bought an apple, ate it, and tossed the core out the car window into the ditch. From Watsonville to Monterey I got lectured about ruining the great earth with my garbage. My argument, as does yours, made sense…the core would rot quickly in the ditch, or some little rodent would nibble it away, but no, not in these two guys’ eyes.
    Bob sort of avoided me after that, and I never went candle-making with him again, all over an apple core in the ditch.

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  34. JWfromNJ said on October 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I opted to buy a cuisinart stand mixer over the kitchenaid because the kitchenaids are made in China and have plastic gears and the Cuisinart has metal gears. They don’t have as many attachments but I have a meat grinder, sausage stuffer, juicer, food processor. I didn’t buy the pasta one because I inherited my Sicillian grandmothers antique one.

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  35. Sue said on October 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Geez, Dexter, Bob the sand-candle-maker, robbing Mother Earth of beach sand to sell to clueless tourists, gives you a hard time for engaging in first-tier composting?

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  36. Peter said on October 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Julie and Jolene, normally I would agree with your statement, but I don’t think Kitchenaid really gives a rat’s ass about customer sentiment.

    I used to specify a lot of Kitchenaid products because they were a pretty good bang for the buck, but I have had problems with their ovens and their response has been very underwhelming. They’ve stayed away from the trade shows for years, even before the downturn, as they’re relying on contractor discounts over marketing to design professionals.

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  37. Peter said on October 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    And that Newt, just when you think he can’t possibly move that bar any lower…

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  38. nancy said on October 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    I will take a moment to perhaps explain how the KitchenAid screwup happened, and suggest maybe a boycott is overkill:

    Almost certainly the person charged with maintaining the KA Twitter account is a) young (because the kids just “get” this stuff, y’know?) and b) very fast on the keys. On my iPad, I have four Twitter accounts working under one app, three of them related to my work. There are three on my phone. I have in the past sent tweets into the world from the wrong account; it’s very easy to do, and there’s not an easy way to avoid it, unless you install separate Twitter apps. (On my laptop, I use different browsers.) I’m sure this young’un meant to tweet from his/her private account, and forgot to change them first.

    This happened here a while back, when a Chrysler social-media editor tweeted from a traffic jam about how stupid Detroit drivers are. It went out to the company’s Twitter stream and thousands of customers.

    I’m honestly trying very hard to check my urge to share every other thought with the world, but that’s part of the lure of social media, alas.

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  39. beb said on October 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Apparently there was a lot of criticism over how Jim Lernher managed the debate last night. I have an idea on now to make the debates more interesting. First divide the 90 minute even into two 45 minute segments with different moderators. I’m thinking Ed Schultz from the left and Hannity from the Right. The debate opens when the president of Price Waterhouse comes out with the two hosts and a quarter. Hannity calls it and who ever wins goes first, asking the vital questions from his perspective. At the 45 minute mark they change hosts and the other guy asks questions from his perspective. Since both men are firebrands you’re not going to get softball questions. and since both the right and the left will have their turn grilling the candidates there won’t be (unbalanced) bias from the moderator.

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  40. Kirk said on October 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Don’t know whether you have made it to the coal-fired pizza place, but it’s covered today by the persnickety Dispatch reviewer, for whatever that’s worth.

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  41. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Agree, Nancy, there’s no clear evidence of corporate malice in the KA incident. In fact, I think the CEO has been giving an explanation of that sort. No company would be stupid enough to say something so gratuitously insulting in public. I just think the screw-up is kinda funny and, what the heck, why not give them a little grief about it.

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  42. Danny said on October 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Nancy, that mower gang story was inspiring. Kudos to all involved. And Dexter’s and JW’s stories probably remind us all a bit of Alice’s Restaurant. “I cannot lie, I placed that letter at the bottom of the pile of trash!”

    And the Migo story — loved the quote from the truck driver, James Allen: “My man got his shit laid out, don’t he?”

    I didn’t get a chance to watch the debate. It was too early in the day here in Maui and already having had to cancel three vacations this year, my family deserves all of my undivided attention if we must look at tropical fish!

    Anyway, I did catch the post-mortem and I have to agree that Romney’s promises of balancing the budget without cutting spending in any tangible way are beyond empty.

    I do have a question though. A few of you seem to think that Joe Biden is going to somehow win the debate against Paul Ryan. What exactly have you ever seen in Biden that would indicate he is capable of such a feat when he can even seem to hold together a coherent, gaffe-free presser? I think that Peggy Noonan nailed it a few weeks back when writing that if Biden were a Republican, we’d all be discussing his lack of intelligence.

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  43. Dexter said on October 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I haven’t posted anything about the debate yet, because like a lot of folks, I was stunned at the aloofness of the President, as well as the flip-flopping Romney exhibited last night that went largely unchallenged. I watched and listened to the entire debate, and after letting it sink in, I can only come to one conclusion: President Obama was sandbagging Romney.
    Years ago a baseball superstar named Dick Allen (aka Richie Allen) would allow a pitcher to make him look foolish on a certain breaking ball, and then the next time at bat, maybe this time with runners on the bases, he would hit that same pitch 500 feet. Also, I remember when I first started playing 8-ball on tables in our local snack shoppe. The older kids would let me win a couple games and then act mad and bet two packs of cigarettes…and always beat me.
    The next time around, after the much-anticipated 🙂 Vice Presidential debate, watch for President Obama to wipe the floor with this piece of shit Romney.

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  44. Deborah said on October 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Danny, I agree with you about Biden. I don’t have any respect for Ryan, but Biden doesn’t strike me as a great debater. He was OK when he was up against Palindrome but no great shakes as I remember.

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  45. Dexter said on October 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Kirk…I found the review and sent it to my daughter in C-bus…I am sure we are going there in a few weeks and I’ll demand we go to the coal-fired pizza joint!

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  46. Danny said on October 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    So is this coal-fired pizza using clean coal!?!? 🙂

    Have to admit, I had never heard of coal-fired pizza until some of you mentioned it a few weeks ago. Hard to believe that it would have an advantage over say wood-fired pizza. If the temperature remains even in the oven during the baking process, is this not all one needs to make quality pizza?

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  47. Sue said on October 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Danny, I think though I’m not sure, that the reasoning behind the idea that Biden will embarrass Ryan is that Ryan has exhibited more of a tendency to play the professor unused to being challenged, lecturing rather than debating. I do see Biden, if well-prepared, able to pounce on something Ryan says resulting in a flustered Ryan saying something similar to the ‘no time to explain’ comment last Sunday. I can see that happening. Like I said yesterday, Ryan’s beginning to figure out that he’s not in Janesville anymore and some things aren’t flying.
    Dexter, I just don’t agree with the defense that Obama is toying with Romney. That would be just irresponsible. As freaky and close as the polls have been why would he deliberately give Romney ground? Obama has to know by now that the media will declare Romney the winner and keep coming back to that story, not the fact-checking afterwards or any of the other arguments that are going to be ignored in favor of “Romney’s back in the game!!” coverage.
    If I were any of Obama’s handlers I would go to the opposite end of the spectrum and start prepping like he was Sarah Palin in 2008. Don’t take anything for granted and start from the ground up.

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  48. basset said on October 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Went to a wood-fired pizza place the last two Saturdays and on our most recent visit got talking to the pizza maker about his 800- or 900-degree oven, forget which. He said the best home equivalent is to turn your broiler on, put a pizza stone right under it, leave it for two hours & then slide the pizza in there.

    two hours.

    and despite reading directions and watching YouTube videos I have still not learned to throw the dough.

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  49. Jakash said on October 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Boy, I’d love to believe this “sandbagging”, “tortoise and the hare” analysis, but it seems like wishful thinking to me. I believe last night was the first time I’ve watched Obama do anything and not been impressed with his intelligence and demeanor. This was not the time or place for sandbagging. This was a BFD, as Biden might say. I think there will be progressively less interest in the other debates, so a missed opportunity here is just missed, even if it were part of a grand scheme, which I don’t believe it was. Also, early voting makes every day important. Many who wouldn’t have considered voting for Romney yesterday are considering it today. And the President could have done a much better job of keeping this from being the case.

    I’m still hopeful that Obama can win, but he’s got less of a chance today than he did yesterday, and if he wins, it’ll be in spite of this debate, not because it helped. IMHO, of course, and I’ll be delighted if I’m proven wrong in that this performance somehow ends up benefitting him. Here’s the one-minute video opinion of Eric Zorn, who certainly supports Obama and knows a lot more about politics than I do:

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  50. MarkH said on October 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    What Jakash said @49.

    Many of you are wondering if, or claiming that, we were not seeing the real Obama last night. We definitley saw one side of Obama that I venture we will not see again. That is the ease with which a debate opponent can out him on the defensive. I firmly believe this is how Romney’s people prepped him: stare lasers at him the whole time, don’t back down, attack, attack. The president looked like a school boy relegated to the corner of the classroom for discipline problems. Romney did get away with a lot and the president’s people better be schooling him on how to dismantle Romney’s inconsistencies, and well, “untruths”.

    I am by no means a Sharpton fan, but it was enlightening to see this reasoned pushback to the exploding heads at msnbc. Matthews and Schulz in particular.

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  51. MarkH said on October 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Sorry for the misspellings, can we have the editing back, please?

    BTW – Coozledad: Jim Leherer? a RACIST?? Really?? Ineffective as a debate moderator, maybe, but I’ll bet your accusation is news to PBS and his viewers.

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  52. coozledad said on October 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    “Obama looked like a school boy”
    Really Mark H. Do you find it necessary make my points about institutional racism for me?
    I know that Republicans worship at the altar of whiteboy ball-swinging, because when your dominance is slipping you grab whatever knobby projection you can to keep those spirits up.
    Lehrer’s been roundly condemned for his performance by people who know the business. He could have anticipated the response and corrected himself , but he was blinded by that decades old training. You can’t fly that shit past an old southerner, especially one from piedmont NC. It’s a language that needs no translation.

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  53. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Jakash, I think Zorn is right in saying that O let R back in, but he went too far in saying it’s now R’s election to lose. He’s still at a big disadvantage in the electoral college, still faces a big gender gap, and is still disdained by Hispanic voters. Further, there are relatively few undecided voters.

    Lots of analysts have been pointing today to other unfortunate “first debate” performances by incumbent presidents who went on to win re-election, notably Reagan in 1984 and GWB in 2004. So, there’s that to be hopeful about.

    But I do think what we saw last night is a real reflection of O’s character/personality, which is that he doesn’t like to fight. I think he thinks he should be able to win arguments by the force of sweet reason, which is an appealing vision, but may not be the best way to approach presidential politics,

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  54. coozledad said on October 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Jolene: I wouldn’t worry much about it. A small sliver of the population will always cozy up to an asshole, but Romney’s a particularly noxious asshole, and a liar.
    If you adjust this for Gallup’s normally Republican lean, Obama’s in Bill Clinton territory. It’s driven partly by Romney’s unfavorables.

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  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Basset, I can throw it, I just can’t catch it.

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  56. Dorothy said on October 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I have not been there yet, Kirk, and have not yet read the review (the paper is waiting for me at home – I’ll read after I slide a meatloaf into the oven at 4:45 today), but now I think I know where I’ll be eating lunch on 11/3/12! I’m taking a student down to C-bus for a test. She has to be there at noon, and she’ll be done around 5 PM. Eating pizza and sitting somewhere to knit for a few hours sounds like heaven to me. Maybe I’ll stop by the Book Loft, too, and listen to their multiple selections of music as I stroll through the 20+ rooms of books.

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  57. DellaDash said on October 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I’ve got no complaints with mymanObama behaving like a true civil servant throughout his term as well as behind the podium opposite a greasyglib bigbiz snakeoil salesman. As for whether Obama likes or doesn’t like to fight…really? Do his supporters really want to see him taking all those cheap shots RomneyHeadroom handed him on a platter? Nothing like totally derailing any discussion with substance. If the Commander-in-Chief’s greying head is down, maybe’s he’s got other concerns on his mind. I think he’s choosing his battles, and a shuck-and-jive sparring session with a windmilling glass-jaw contender isn’t one of them.

    Like Brian and Cooz, I’m satisfied and not too worried.

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  58. Kirk said on October 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    No reason to whip racism or any other charges on Lehrer for his performance last night. Sadly, he looked only like an old guy.

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  59. MarkH said on October 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    No, Cooze, bullshit on you. I didn’t even think about my use of the term “boy” in my post, as I can only assume that’s what you’re referring to. But, as typical for angry leftists, YOU certainly did. So now we have to purge the word ‘boy’ from all discussions, lest we have the racist label flung at us.

    My reference was to an age-related or scholastic analogy only. Obama continually reflected being a student (sound better?) lectured by a teacher or professor, if you will, and stood there and took it.

    And, yes, Lehrer certsainly deserves all the criticism thrown at him today, but no one on the planet, NO ONE, is calling him a racist. Just you. That was my point. Sharpton certainly likes to throw the racism label around on his show, but not even he stooped to that last night.

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  60. Charlotte said on October 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    But isn’t the insidious nature of institutional racism? That it sometimes sneaks up on the individual? I doubt Lehrer is personally racist, but that performance — two old, privileged white guys enacting a situation in which they were “schooling” the black guy on what his place is — seemed overwhelmingly racist to me — and I watched a lot of it with the sound off, which made it even more clear.

    I agree with Nancy that the KitchenAid thing was probably a case of the mistaken account — but I also live in terror of the day my trusty, 40 year old real KitchenAid (that is, one with the heart of a Hobart) dies on me. The new ones suck.

    Took 3 days off my day job to try to get a book proposal draft pulled together — it’s such a luxury to have more than 2 hours strung together to get to think about this thing. Starting to see how it might work ….

    Oh! And snow! Not much, but the first precip of any kind we’ve had in weeks.

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  61. coozledad said on October 4, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Kirk: have to disagree. Lehrer reserved his yelps of disapproval for Obama exceeding his time. At the same time, he was a beta dog for Romney consistently. This is the beauty of unconscious racism, what makes it an object of immense utility to the hucksters who would have us believe Mitt Romney has a shred of probity. It’s not immediately apparent to anyone unless they have the misfortune to have to confront it in themselves.

    What I witnessed was effectively a doubleteaming of the kind usually used to put an intransigent farmhand, or an uppity city carrier, or an irresolute janitor in his place. Bossman needs a neutered subordinate white to help make it two on one. Lehrer just wasn’t very smart at it. If he’d clucked a couple more of his broody hen clucks at Romney, he’d have had plausible deniability.
    But it was obvious who had him by the nuts, and why.

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  62. nancy said on October 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I don’t think Lehrer is a racist, and diving into what might have been sublimated into his personality is beyond my pay grade.

    I do have to say, however, that as a fellow writer I have to object to the people who say Obama was “looking at the floor” when he wasn’t talking. He was taking notes, which is how writers process their thinking. It’s how I do, anyway. I take notes almost automatically when I’m listening, and throw most of them away.

    He wasn’t cowering like a whipped dog, for pete’s sake.

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  63. Sue said on October 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Did any of you catch a couple news people talking about how Obama is no longer used to having anyone disagree with him and therefore he couldn’t remember how to debate, or words to that effect? I think I even read that before the debate.
    It is to laugh. Working for 4 years with politicians whose stated purpose was to refuse to go along with anything he proposed, and he’s not used to anyone disagreeing with him? And perhaps unions disagree with him. And progressives. And anyone who doesn’t think moving toward the right on social security etc. is something a Dem should be doing at this time might disagree with him.
    And I’ll bet Michelle gives him hell once in awhile. And he’s got daughters for gods’ sake.
    But I’m sure his inner circle treats him like a god-appointed king, because he strikes me as exactly the kind of man who wouldn’t immediately see through that bullshit.

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  64. coozledad said on October 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Student doesn’t make any sense in the context you posited, Mark H. You’ve got a plank in your eye.
    But kudos for not using “took him to the woodshed!”
    You’ve earned your green belt.
    Bullshit is describing a black president as a schoolboy, when your party is fresh off worshiping that callow inebriate who drove the country into a tree.
    It’s never too late to educate yourself about privilege, and how it makes you appear when you’re blind to it.

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  65. Deborah said on October 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Coozledad, I’m with you, racism and prejudices are so ingrained in our collective consciousness we don’t see it in ourselves. It takes a long, hard inward scrutiny. Same goes for male (and female) prejudices against women. Gays are in the same boat too.

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  66. coozledad said on October 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Shit, Deborah, I can’t even count the times I’ve come out here as a racist in recovery. I’m like an alcoholic seeing his behavior in other drunks (bit of one of those, too, but I digress) The tipoff is that same strident denial I indulged for years. I’m a sexist too. It’s those damn nuts that used to do a good 65% of the thinking for me.
    I might be delusional in thinking the language of racism can’t be deployed against racists, or the language of sexism against sexists, but it irks my ass to see people who think they can wish away their monsters with the magic words “I’m not a…”

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  67. Deborah said on October 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Case in point: here’s Sununu calling Obama “lazy”


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  68. Peter said on October 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    My God, Jim Lehrer’s a racist? He and Romney teamed up to keep Obama down? Jim Lehrer was racist for stopping Obama when he went over his time? He steered the discussion so Romney could speak more when Obama was the one who spoke more?

    You guys need to get out of the bunker more often.

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  69. Sue said on October 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    The DNC doesn’t think Romney & Lehrer were in cahoots:

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  70. Sue said on October 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I don’t know if this will work, but if it opens, Brian Stouder this is for you:

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  71. Dexter said on October 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Jim Lehrer should stick to his bus collection:

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  72. kayak woman said on October 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I *love* that a bunch of volunteers got together to clean up that park.

    I haven’t looked at the comment thread since lunch but somebody earlier was talking about throwing an apple core out of a car window. We occasionally hike with a Sault Ontario/Michigan group of naturalists (many with professional credentials in a related discipline, others amateurs). Once we were out on the North Country Trail (or maybe the Voyageur, I can’t remember) and my husband was very conscientiously stashing a banana peel away to pack it out and they totally cracked up. Paper, plastic, etc., they religiously pack out. Fruit or vegetable remains, not so much. Of course, we were way back in the north woods where 99% (?) of the populace doesn’t venture.

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  73. brian stouder said on October 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Sue – you made me laugh out loud! I was thinking I’d get to see some gams, or maybe some rackage – but instead I learned a new word: Horcrux

    A Horcrux is a powerful object in which a Dark wizard or witch has hidden a fragment of his or her soul for the purpose of attaining immortality.

    except (and pardon my rudeness) we all know that Mitt is already a soul-less corporate vulture who loves to play rigged games. I suppose his impulse (“I can run this whole country, and to hell with anyone who disagrees”*) is immortal, if not his soul.

    I simply hate that stupid defaced flag lapel pin of his -and I know beyond any doubt that President Obama would be thought to be a Manchurian candidate (or Kenyan, or whatever the hell) if he wore such a stupid damned thing.

    *this would be the 47% that constitute the block of people that it will not be his job to care about, and who in fact he could not possibly care less about

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  74. brian stouder said on October 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    oh, and b’theway (another thing I detest about Mitt), that link back to Romney’s threat Lehrer to de-fund PBS reminded me of when Mitt said something about firing Big Bird.

    Somebody simply HAS to intersplice that remark with his “I like to fire people” remark, and couple it with an endearing photo of Big Bird his-own-self.

    By way of saying, I firmly believe this debate win of Mitt’s is “fool’s gold”; and if it causes the R’s to go ahead and keep spending maximum money on his campaign, rather than writing his ass off and shifting to the fight for the Senate, then so much the better, I say.

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  75. alex said on October 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    I don’t think Lehrer and Romney were in cahoots. I do suspect, though, that Lehrer knew there was no shushing Romney and was trying to exert control where he anticipated the least amount of resistance—with the more polite and sincere of the two.

    Whether intentional or not, it probably didn’t hurt Romney to be seen as one of two old white men keeping Mr. Uppity subdued. I found it interesting that Romney is more than delighted to take credit for health care reform while reframing it as a “states’ rights” issue. So he takes what was his biggest liability with his base and turns it into a big piece of juicy red Jim Crow meat. This, I believe, was no accident.

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  76. Sherri said on October 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Alex, I think you’ve got the gist of it with respect to Lehrer. I had a similar experience on non-profit board I served on once. Another board member and I were having a disagreement in a board meeting. The other board member was about 15 years older than me, male, and a businessman. I was female, younger, and a volunteer. The other board member was basically trying to bully me into agreeing. The board president, a retired guy old enough to be my father, decided to end the disagreement by telling me (literally) to shut up. It worked, for the moment, but not in the long run.

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  77. Sherri said on October 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    In Alabama, they want to replace Big Bird with David Barton:

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  78. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Another new ad from Obama based on last night’s debate:

    Also, PBS hits back:

    It’s amazing, really, how cheap PBS is.

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  79. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Oh, why not. Gasoline on the fire and all that, but it even made me laugh.

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  80. Danny said on October 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Jeff, hilarious.

    Man, this institutional racism seems like some be pretty handy stuff if ya get in a pinch.

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  81. Deborah said on October 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    You guys are missing the point about Lerher being racist. He isn’t in the least overtly racist anymore than any of us are when www slip into it. We have no fucking idea what we sound like. It rolls out of us like water off of a duck. I’ve told this story here before and it shames me every time I think about it. When I lived in St. Louis I was a regular at a small specialty grocery store really close to where I lived. I stopped there on my way home from work often. One time there was a young black kid in a stocking cap behind me in line who I surmised was staring at me and I became convinced he was going to follow me out to my car and rob me. It turned out he was a former neighbor of ours that I hadn’t seen in awhile, Little Bird used to baby sit him. He recognized me and finally asked if I was a Little Bird’s mother. When I realized who he was and asked him what he was up two he told me he had been accepted at Harvard or Yale and Boston University and was trying to decide which school he was going to go to. It was institutional racism that made me fearful. And that’s a problem.

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  82. Deborah said on October 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    We not www

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  83. Deborah said on October 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Up to, not up two. Ack, edit back please.

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  84. nancy said on October 4, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    As soon as J.C. gets back from vacation, I’ll mention it. Promise.

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  85. Dexter said on October 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    My blogger guru Craig Crawford agrees with me to the extent he says President Obama threw the debate on purpose.

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  86. Kaye said on October 4, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Love the Big Bird Jeff!
    Kayak Woman – I am taking that as permission to continue my apple-coring tossing practice, thanks! If apple trees should one day appear along I270 that will be my contribution to the next generation.

    In the interest of keeping the Presidential debates interesting I suggest using a Jeopardy! format for one. Some good elements: on-site fact-checking, buzzer means one person talks at a time, there are time limits, increasing difficulty of questions, clear winner at the end.

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  87. Jolene said on October 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    The problem w/ the Jeopardy idea is that we need our presidents and other elected leaders to figure out answers to questions for which there are no straightforward, known answers.

    Instead of memorizing answers to well-defined questions, they have to first define what the problems are (overconsumption of healthcare, lack of access to preventive services, too much litigation, etc., etc.), figure out what the solutions might be, and choose among them, all the while trying to avoid unintended negative consequences not to mention doing all this in a world of powerful competing interests.

    Makes Jeopardy look like a piece of cake.

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  88. Sherri said on October 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    With John Sununu calling the President “lazy”, who needs institutional racism? We’ve got the good old-fashioned kind.

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  89. Sue said on October 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Deborah, this has nothing to do with anything, but about a year ago I was walking to work in my usual cold-weather posture and outfit: hunched over, clutching my coat to my chest with crossed arms, holding my purse close because I’m all hunched over, hating the cold. I walked past a young black man who gave me an odd look and I suddenly realized exactly how I must have looked to him: a frightened old white woman scared of the black kid. I wanted to turn around and explain “Sorry! I’m not racist, I’m just cold!”
    Also a little kid asked his mom if I was an albino once, so I’ve pretty much got it covered A-Z.

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  90. Dexter said on October 4, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Sherri #88 – Every American should watch Sununu in that clip.

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  91. basset said on October 4, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Enough of this, I am so fucking sick of debates and campaigns and general hatefulness. Refused to turn the tv on last night.

    On a happier note… Friday is the fiftieth anniversary of both the first James Bond movie (“Dr. No”) and the first Beatles record (“Love Me Do.”) Useless trivia fact of the day – who played drums on that version of “Love Me Do,” and why? Wasn’t Ringo, or Pete Best. Cooz?

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  92. brian stouder said on October 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Basset – we used to have an LP of all the James Bond music from Dr No and From Russia with Love…very good stuff, and of course with a tux-wearing armed portrait (not a photograph) of Sean Connery (et al)

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  93. basset said on October 4, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    NPR had an interesting piece yesterday on the session guitar player who did that reverb-y lick in the original theme. said he got $15 or maybe it was (pound sign) 15 and that was it till they finally cut him in on the royalties years later.

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  94. Crazycatlady said on October 4, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Watched the debates.I called it for Romney, but I was not happy. Obama didn’t say anything about the 47%, the clean coal lie. So many openings and he waited for the moderator. Not a good outing, but not the disaster the Romney people were praying for.

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  95. Scout said on October 5, 2012 at 12:23 am

    I heard about 10 minutes of the debate while driving. 7 minutes of it was Romney and 2.75 minutes of it was The President. The other .25 was Lehrer scolding the POTUS for running over two minutes. I was so pissed I turned it off.

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  96. Dave said on October 5, 2012 at 12:28 am

    It was somebody named Andy White, Basset, a London session drummer (I think). George Martin didn’t think Ringo had the licks. I don’t know if he was suspicious because he’d disliked Pete Best so much or if he just didn’t think Ringo was up to the task. Because Ringo was then considered the best drummer in Liverpool, he became the luckiest man in Liverpool.

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  97. MarkH said on October 5, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Dave’s correct. And there’s more to Andy White’s story and Loe Me Do, at least according to Wiki:

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  98. basset said on October 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Dave is indeed right. Ringo had just joined the band, George Martin didn’t want to take a chance on him and hired Andy White just to be sure the session wouldn’t be wasted.

    Pete Best actually recorded “Love Me Do” with the Fabs too, in June of that year at their EMI audition.

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