This is winter break, one of Grosse Pointe’s two sadistically scheduled week-long second-semester vacations. Of course, all of Kate’s friends are on a beach or a ski slope. Bored to tears, she made arrangements to spend the evening at a recording studio where she sometimes helps out, in downtown Detroit. I agreed to this on the grounds of a) personal initiative in affirmatively treating boredom; and b) empathy for her plight. As soon as she rolled out of the driveway it started to snow, the light, dry, fluffy kind that brings no moisture to the land but enslickens every roadway it lands on. It’s the sort of snow that led to that mile-long pileup on I-75. It’s the trickiest to drive in, because it looks like nothing, but isn’t.
So now I get to sit here gnawing my cuticles until she comes home. Did I mention every single streetlight on the freeway between here and there is out? Did I mention the surface-street route home would take her through the worst of the ghetto prairie, and that the road is pitted with tire-flattening hazards, like abandoned railroad crossings that would shame the Third World, not to mention potholes like you wouldn’t believe?
Did I mention I’m the worst parent in the world? What was I thinking? It’s like I sent her out for milk and bread beyond the compound walls in “The Walking Dead.”
When does this anxiety stop, by the way? How old do they have to be? Don’t answer. I already know.
(Update: She arrived home safe and sound an hour later. To my immense relief.)
With that transition to children in peril, let me jump right to the bloggage. You’re going to want to listen to this, part one of a two-parter, “This American Life” and its deep embed at Harper High School in Chicago. You can download it as a podcast or listen at the website, however you like. But you’re going to want to listen to it. It’s chilling, a look at a high school where 29 students were shot last year (three died) and violence in the surrounding neighborhood is so intense that kids don’t even choose to belong to gangs — the very fact of life in the area imposes gang membership on you, depending on what side of what street you live on. It’s shudder-worthy, but very important, journalism.
An old-fashioned hey-Martha from the Columbus Dispatch, HT to Jeff, on scooter drivers behaving badly:
Taylor used humor to good effect in her latest scooter-speed warning letter to residents of Seton Square North: “A number of our scooter drivers are guilty of reckless scooter operation (did I really just have to write that sentence?).”
She is not alone in her concern. Other property managers, nursing-home administrators and doctors say they stress safe driving to keep mobility-scooter and power-wheelchair operators from gouging walls, knocking over medicine carts and running into pedestrians.
“I have, honestly, had times where I’ve had to say, ‘You can no longer use the scooter here,’ ” said Debbie Cassel, executive director at Trillium Place on the Northwest Side.
I read Grantland pretty religiously during the Jerry Sandusky thing, then fell out of it for a while. I hesitate to post this because I fear it will lead to a daylong Prospero tirade of pronouncements and YouTube links no one will click, but what the hell: An essay about the Black Keys that takes a few twists here and there and ends up making some valid points about music these days:
When I said earlier that indie has failed rock and roll, this is what I meant: Indie bands haven’t done enough to compete. The status quo in indie rock these days is to make records aimed directly at upper-middle-class college graduates living in big cities. Only a small handful of indie bands attempt to reach listeners who aren’t already on the team; even the really good records reside firmly in a familiar wheelhouse of tastefully arty and historically proven “college rock” aesthetics and attitudes that mean nothing to the outside world. The distance is also geographic: If you want to see most indie bands play live, it helps if you reside in New York City or Los Angeles, because the bands probably live there, too. Otherwise, you have to hope that your city — and by “your city,” I mean a city within a couple hundred miles of where you live — is one of the 15 to 20 stops on the band’s tour.
If you happen to be part of the audience that rock music used to cater to — if you work an unsexy job in an unsexy town in an unsexy part of the country — you’re not really invited to the party anymore. Which is OK, because there’s still a form of rock music that’s made for you, it’s just not called rock music — it’s called country. One of the best-selling country records of the last few years is Eric Church’s Chief, and one of that record’s biggest songs is “Springsteen,” which is about the ability of rock music to signify the most crucial moments of a person’s life. When was the last time a rock song talked about that? Chief is precisely the sort of heartland rock record that people like Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Seger made into a viable commercial genre in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s not that people stopped wanting records like that; rock bands just lost interest in making them.
That might be a little too what’s-your-point for you, but I liked it. Although not the part where one of the Keys referred to Akron, Ohio as a “small town.” WTF? Two hundred thousand people counts as a small town these days? I had no idea.
Do not recline your seat on an airplane. That is all.
Good Wednesdays, all.