One thing about Mondays — I always sleep well on Monday night. Awake at 5 a.m., out the driveway at 6:30, in Lansing by 8-ish, work work work, home by 6-ish, an hour bike ride and then the sort of dinner Kate would reject with a sneer: Mujadara a la the New York Times, which I think I read about at 5 a.m. or so.

The chores concluded at 9 p.m. Time to blog! Zzzzzz.

Seriously, it’s always a comfort to be back in the saddle after some time away. Human beings need to find stuff to do. Our job is usually good enough.

So before I start drooling on the keyboard, some quick bloggage:

A really interesting story in the NYT today on water usage in the desert southwest, specifically Arizona. I know we have some Phoenix residents who read and comment here (hey, Scout). Having lived my whole life in a wet climate, it’s hard for me to imagine the sort of relations with water Arizonans must have. I’ve been hearing rumblings of a coming push for a transcontinental water pipeline to quench its drier regions for years, although I pay them little mind. Still, I read passages like this and my eyes bug out:

PHOENIX — The hiss of sprinklers serenades improbably green neighborhoods early in the morning and late at night, the moisture guarding against the oppressive heat. This is the time of year when temperatures soar, water consumption spikes and water bills skyrocket in this city, particularly for those whose idea of desert living includes cultivating a healthy expanse of grass.

Half of the water consumed in homes here is used to irrigate lawns, but there is a certain curiosity about the way water is used in Phoenix, which gets barely eight inches of rain a year but is not necessarily parched.

I’ve never been to Phoenix, but I have been to Tucson a time or two, and one of the things I liked about the place was the virtual absence of grass in most neighborhoods. Yards were xeriscapes, and even the golf courses used sod stingily. You live where you live and you make peace with what nature gives you. The idea of spending half of a dry city’s annual rainfall on something as stupid as a lawn just seems nuts to me, but I live a long way away from Arizona. Maybe a local can explain.

Remember “Sixteen Tons” — “I owe my soul to the company store,” etc.? Here’s the latest wrinkle: A minimum-wage worker at McDonald’s is paid in the form of a bank debit card, which she didn’t ask for, which she didn’t want. No, there’s no other option. And yes, there are fees:

According to the complaint filed, the JP Morgan Chase payroll card lists several fees, including a $1.50 charge for ATM withdrawals, $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, $1 per balance inquiry, 75 cents per online bill payment and $15 for lost/stolen card.

The complaint was filed because this woman called a lawyer, and good for her. Who ARE the people who try to pull shit like this?

Finally, a story about a widely despised piece of public art, and the drunk driver who hit it. Take a look at the before-and-after pictures and tell me whether it makes a bit of difference in the piece. Seriously. They could remove the plastic fencing and I doubt anyone would feel cheated.

And so the week lurches to a start. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |

72 responses to “Back.”

  1. Crazycatlady said on June 18, 2013 at 12:39 am

    I visited Scottsdale years ago. I think the thing that struck me the most was trees. There were practically no trees. There were rock gardens, some cacti. Oh, and I remember 5 minute showers. But lawns? No. Not many. I kind of liked it, but I need Michigan and her trees to be happy.

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  2. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Welcome back!

    Tomorrow (or later today) the women return to the household hereabouts, and I’m looking forward to that.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been busily pondering the NSA/FISA/private contractor story, and trying to decide what to think of it.

    I was (and remain) genuinely put-off by the hard-ball AP story, wherein the government got aggressively in the face of the AP, with subpoenas for phone records and so on, in the name of national security.

    And the question arises – if the NSA/FISA story was really as bad as the (heroic whistle blower? slimy traitor? over-achieving employee of a profiteering private contractor? no-life geek?) asserts; if all our civil liberties hang by an arbitrary and easily manipulated (by a 29 year old legacy with a security clearance, who needs a shave) thread –

    then why would the government even have bothered with getting into the AP’s grill? Why not just unleash the unshaven 29 year olds upon which the NSA has subbed out all the snooping duties, and then look over all the reams of data they bring back, with no one the wiser?

    Strange times we live in.

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  3. James M said on June 18, 2013 at 1:31 am

    The same artist has a bunch of ‘work’ cluttering up Crissy Field on the San Francisco waterfront.
    Reviews are mixed, I believe.

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  4. Sherri said on June 18, 2013 at 2:20 am

    That mujadara sounds delicious. One of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh was a middle eastern restaurant with mujadara on the menu, which was described as “the backbone of the Syrian farmer’s diet.”

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  5. Dexter said on June 18, 2013 at 2:45 am

    As we approached the landing runway at Bien Hoa many years ago during the Vietnam War, we were ordered to pull the shades down in the aircraft. What the hell, I thought…are we going to be sighted-in and shot at through the windows? No, it was explained we needed to avoid all the sunlight we possibly could because when they opened the airplane doors an incredible wave of heat was going to hit us, and we were warned to steel ourselves. And was it ever HOT. It was surreal, and my first thought was “how the hell am I even going to survive this heat?”
    Fast forward 26 years, to 1996, my first visit to Sky Harbor. It was the first of August, and due to the Atlanta Olympics bombing on July 27,1996, all mailboxes were moved about a hundred fifty feet from the building. I exited the air conditioned terminal there in Phoenix and walked outside to drop a few postcards…and it was deja vu. It was even hotter than Vietnam. It was drier, but hotter by far. I remember thinking that if that door would jam and I was trapped outside of that terminal, I would die of shock and heat in a few minutes. Who the hell would make a conscious decision to live like that?

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  6. Brandon said on June 18, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Cheap oil and water have made possible the expansion of the Sun Belt over the last fifty years.

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  7. Prospero said on June 18, 2013 at 3:59 am

    One of my brothers is a megabucks corporate lawyer that used to work for a firm that had it’s Phoenix office in a building called, not very imaginatively, the Arizona Building. There was a club on the top floor, about 25 stories up. The big joke was to manipulate a Friday pm so that an associate got left with a massive tab. Ho ho. Hijinks. Anyway, from up that high, you could see where civilization left off and the desert started. Green, then no green at all, just cholla and big lizards and some feral pigs that would kick your ass and eat you if they got too close. Javelinas. Very scary mofos in person. Golf courses looked like what Freddy Olmstead was thinking about when he designed Boston’s emerald necklace. To people in PHX, the big water issue is what’s being stolen for LA out of the not so mighty Colorado. I love that river, but it now runs out before it gets to the Pacific. This is sad.. Almost as much as I love the Chatooga and the Oconee. The former is characterized by Bull Sluice, that almost killed Jon Voigt and Burt Reynolds when they were making Deliverance, much to the amusement of James Dickey, the latter is a lazy muddy, beautiful river that runs through Athens, GA and isn’t much for rapids, but it does have snakes. People claim there are no poisonous water snakes in GA, but I’m not taking any chances. Bastards are territorial and will come right after your tube. And as Olive Oyl said, “They are large.”

    Water rights are the story of America’s west. LA left to it’s own without the purloined water from the Colorado is desert. Lowland desert, nasty business, not like the high desert around four corners, which is as gorgeous a locale as God has blessed Her world with. Still, on the east coast, water rights are becoming an issue. FLA and Bama are constantly bickering with Georgia about the Coosa, Ocmulgee, Tallapoosa, Oconee and Altamaha watersheds, and of course oil and gas concerns want to frack the fuck out of those pristine areas. PHX is hot as hell. I remember when Chris first moved out there, he used to put dry ice in his swimming pool to chill it out. Didn’t really work very well. When I was much younger, I played five or six sets of cutthroat tennis in PHX summer weather, like 110 in the shade, but 12% humidity.

    Dexter@4: Nice bit of writing. And Sky Harbor is really a nice airport.

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  8. coozledad said on June 18, 2013 at 6:41 am

    They had a few sculptures that resembled Helmholtz on the lawn of the art school at ECU. I think one of the tenured professors was a biker dude who welded a lot of stuff together when he wasn’t boinking art students.

    It looks like one of the tank traps the Germans set up on the French or Italian coastlines. Snared ’em a car this time. You could integrate these into a comprehensive DUI intervention strategy if they weren’t priced by weight and volume:
    “Martin said it was difficult to say exactly how much the sculpture was worth, but similar creations that are one-third the size of the Helmholtz were valued between $400,000 and $600,000.”

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  9. Deborah said on June 18, 2013 at 6:58 am

    I spent some time in Phoenix when my husband had a big project designing the convention center. I loved going there in the winter, but the summer not so much. Water is of course, a big issue in New Mexico too. Some people have lawns here in Santa Fe, it seems immoral to me. A little park near us is being renovated and they put in a lawn there, crazy. There are some really beautiful xeriscaped gardens around here, why would you want a lawn as if you lived in Connecticut or something? We are trying to make a garden of the side yard of our complex, it has drip irrigation. We put crushed pecan shells over a fabric barrier over the ground, it looks quite nice. So far we haven’t managed to kill the lavender we planted.

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  10. Brandon said on June 18, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Coozledad, on the other post (where Alex mentioned the purity-ball photography) I asked if you’ve ever read Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal. If you have, what are your thoughts?

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  11. coozledad said on June 18, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Brandon: I haven’t read that. Max is a great political comedian, but not enough of a clown for TV. You’ve got to be willing to pull a bunch of faces and underline all your jokes for that medium.

    I hardly read anything anymore but dead people. We cancelled our subscription to Granta because, seriously, fuck quiet desperation as an art form. Bunch of fucking cutters.

    I was reading Typee for about the twentieth time yesterday, and even that one I skip over the part where Melville decides to go back to his Christian hellhole. But that’s where the book comes from, innit?

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  12. beb said on June 18, 2013 at 8:22 am

    I think we all understand that when we set our garbage out for pick-up, set it out on public property it is no longer “our” garbage and the police or anyone else can rummage through it at will. I don’t think most of us would be happy to know that the police are routinely going through our garbage, and yet that is what the NSA is essentially doing – rummaging through our stuff once it leaves our property. We’re told that no ones privacy is being violated – but people who’s job depends on them keeping secrets and telling lies. The work has been out-sourced so even the government doesn’t really know what’s being done. And today on Talkingpointsmemo they report that an interview with a former over-sight committee staffer – on procedures in the committee was nixed by the committee’s head. So we have no idea how thorough the oversight committee is performing its duties. I think Snowden has done the country a great service by revealing the size, extent and capacity of this spy operation.

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  13. alex said on June 18, 2013 at 8:38 am

    I don’t have a problem with the Helmholtz sculpture itself, just its poor placement. di Suvero’s works generally appear in open spaces. The scale of this one, and that of a similar sculpture in white that sits nearby, has always struck me as completely wrong for the postage stamp of a site they occupy. Maybe the folks in charge will finally relocate them to more suitable environs.

    And while we’re on the subject of careless drivers making mincemeat of steel I-beams, here’s a cute video I just had to pass along.

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  14. coozledad said on June 18, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Alex: I’ve witnessed at least two rental trucks having their tops sheared off by that bridge while I was drinking beer on the deck of a nearby restaurant. Seems like it happens every two or three days.

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  15. Kim said on June 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I was downtown yesterday looking at the scene of the crime. Judging by where that Godawful sculpture was, and the proximity of any streets, I’m thinking the drunk driver really had to work at hitting it.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on June 18, 2013 at 9:26 am

    After escargot, Miss Kate may be open to all kinds of new foods, even Mujadara, which looks delicious to me.

    The Helmholtz wants to be a Calder, but instead of light and playful, it’s a heavy hulk of steel painted the worst possible color. Today’s follow up story indicates they may surround it with a wall of concrete so this couldn’t happen again. Yep, nothing more attractive than concrete!

    Re water battles, there was a story on the national news the other night about China’s growing dairy industry. They have trouble growing enough high quality alfalfa, so they’ve begun importing it from California, where it is grown with precious and expensive water. No doubt our tea party friends would say that’s just the power of the free market.

    And speaking of crazy hot weather, a facebook friend is complaining about the heat, humidity and rain at the Florida Mouse House. Um, it’s June in Florida, what did they expect?

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  17. LAMary said on June 18, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Deborah, if your lavendar is doing well you should try to grow some rosemary. You see it here in LA as ground cover or shrubbery, depending on which sort of rosemary you plant, and it smells great, especialy in combination with lavendar.

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  18. Peter said on June 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I’ve had several clients over the years who relocated to Chicago (or in one case, Milwaukee) from the San Francisco area, and I asked some of them, what could possibly be the reason you would move AWAY from San Francisco to here? To a man, they said it was for the water. The stories they had about trying to find water, or filling an 8 oz cup and using that to bathe themselves, was unbelievable.

    Dexter, I did a job in Phoenix, and every time we flew out for a job meeting, the client would tell us if it was a two or three shirt day. Even so, Singapore had it beat. When we were landing, I thought it was raining outside, but it was just the humidity.

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  19. Judybusy said on June 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

    The McDonald’s worker’s story reminded me of this one, in which owners of 7-Elevens in NY and VA ripped off their illegal workers’ wages, and forced them to live in their housing as well.

    I’ll have to check out that recipe–last night we made lamb kofte from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. It turned out great. You knead the ground lamb with a bunch of spices and ground pinenuts, form them into 5″ sausages, skewer, and grill.

    Also, prayers, good thoughts, and well wishes for our Maggie Jochild, who is hospitalized after suffering a minor heart attack. Her girlfriend, Margot is in England, doing what she can, and keeping us updated on FB. (I’ve gotten prior permission from Maggie to share such things here.) There can not be too many blessings sent out to this woman.

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  20. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Also, prayers, good thoughts, and well wishes for our Maggie Jochild, who is hospitalized

    JudyBusy – count me IN for that, and Amen!

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  21. Jeff Borden said on June 18, 2013 at 10:26 am

    There’s a really cool book by a writer named Mike Davis called “Ecology of Fear,” which is a series of stories and essays about Southern California. His premise is that the Spanish settlers understood SoCal as a Mediteranean (SP?) clime given to long periods of drought, but once they were vanquished, it was Western and Northern Europeans who came in and started building as if it were the land of milk and honey and regular rainfall.

    When I was a kid, people with severe allergies would move to Arizona, where the lack of vegetation would give them some peace. Not a good idea any more, I guess.

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  22. Snarkworth said on June 18, 2013 at 10:34 am

    In the early 1900s, my grandfather moved his family to a gold-mining camp in Oatman, Arizona. Drinking water was brought in through a pipe that lay on the surface of the ground. My father said the water steamed when they carried it home in buckets.

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  23. Dorothy said on June 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    About 4 or 5 jobs ago I worked with a guy named Pete Noe, who told me about Mujadara. I haven’t made it in a few years but the recipe I use is in my file box in the kitchen. We loved it.

    I have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger the last couple of weeks at work so did not read a single archive last week (which I felt badly about). When things quiet down (or when I’m off from my knee surgery) I’ll dial back and read as much as I can without falling asleep from the pain meds.

    Our hardwood flooring in our living room is underway and it looks spectacular so far. We went with bamboo in a cherry stain. The color matched our kitchen cabinets as though they’d been stained with the same batch of tint. A week from tomorrow the new sofa and coffee table arrives. I feel like I’m getting a new house! And I’ll get to bask in it for at least four weeks while I’m home for all of July and maybe a wee bit of August.

    Having a good thought for Maggie; thanks for letting us know, Judybusy. Last week a colleague from work lost her full term baby during delivery when her uterus burst. I can’t imagine… She has two older children and her husband, but they were all so excited about this new little boy, whom they named Leo Benjamin.

    On the happier news front, my nephew and his wife (who got married in Tampa last October and we were there) are expecting their first on December 23rd. Life goes on.

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  24. Dave said on June 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I’ve tried to appreciate that piece of art for the last thirty years. I’ve tried looking at it from different angles and from far and near. But, it still looks like a bunch of junk that ought to be hauled off to the scrap yard. When I hear people praising and admiring this piece of art, it reminds me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

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  25. MichaelG said on June 18, 2013 at 10:46 am

    All the best to Maggie. I have the impression that she’s had a tough life. I hope things improve. Get better, Maggie!

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  26. Julie Robinson said on June 18, 2013 at 10:48 am

    We got one of those bank cards as a rebate on a phone a few years back. None of the stores we shopped at would accept the darn thing and I think it languished in a drawer until we finally tossed it out. Which, no doubt, is the whole point–make it hard enough to redeem and people give up. Those cards may sound great to people who don’t have bank accounts, but the fees should be illegal. As should not having a choice in how you’re paid.

    Judybusy, thanks for telling us about Maggie, and be assured all good thoughts and prayers for healing are on their way.

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  27. Jenine said on June 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

    @Coozledad, thank you for that comment about Granta. I have decided I’m old enough to skip “difficult” films for similar reasons.

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  28. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I really think the national Republican party is cracking to pieces, right in front of us.

    Uncle Rush actually attacked (wait for it) the Koch brothers, and other “monied interests” within the party!

    So the jihadist/flying monkey wing is rebelling against their own Wicked Witches of the Wealthiest, over their crossed up reactions to immigration reform.

    The re-emergence of Palin, and the divergence of Chris Christie, and the crazy-talk from Cruz…all that looked sorta “between the 40 yard lines”…up ’til I heard Oxy-Rush attack the ‘big money crowd’ within the Republican party.

    Although it’s tempting to smile, the state-level Republicans are busily doing serious damage to the rights of Americans who happen to be women, or who aren’t white, or who have the nerve to want to vote, or who had the gall to be born gay.

    Those state-level Republigoons are becoming untethered from any sort of intrinsic need to moderate their views; and so they don’t.

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  29. Jeff Borden said on June 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Amen, Brian.

    The really fearful, ferocious shit is being hatched at the state level and being funded by groups like the Koch Brothers’ obnoxious ALEC organization. Up in Wisconsin –once proud, progressive Wisconsin– the governor will soon be signing a bill to make ultrasounds a requirement for any woman seeking an abortion. The cost to be borne, of course, by the woman. The “fetus fetishists” as they’ve been dubbed by the brilliant Charles P. Pierce are convinced that once a woman sees the fetus, she will be struck by what she is doing and walk away from the abortion.

    We’re really in quite a pickle. Gerrymandering has produced almost undefeatable politicians who can bring the crazy without fear. And even as the nation trends more toward centrism/leftism. . .as young people reject Republican policies on a wide scale. . .as white folks are well on the way to becoming a “majority minority”. . .these statehouse wingnuts can continue to wreak all kinds of havoc.

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  30. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 11:54 am

    And of course, they love love love the US Constitution, except for the 16th Amendment (income taxes) and the 17th Amendment (hell, you could effectively gerrymander the US Senate if their election was dependent on state legislatures, again!).

    It must have been like fingernails on a chalkboard, to see that Scaley Antonin not only VOTED with the 7-2 majority that struck down Arizona’s voter-suppression law, but he even WROTE the majority OPINION!

    Oh the horrors!!)

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  31. beb said on June 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Something else about the MacDonald’s debit cards is that ther Federal government has been experimenting with them as well. But of course the problem with them is that there’s fees attached to any use of them so it’s a built-in grifting of the poor and elderly.

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  32. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Uncle Rush came to the conclusion that ‘the moneyed interests’ within the Republican party are behind immigration reform, since it gives them cheap labor.

    If he (and his fan base) really believes that, and if he really believes all this “real America” stuff, then he’s headed for a crisis.

    Afterall, how can a teapartier respect the wealthiest folks – when they pledge allegiance to their selfish ‘sacred fortunes’ first and foremost, and to heck with the (supposed) interests of their country?

    It will look like the ‘invisible hand’ is giving Oxy-Rush’s audience a prostate exam

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  33. Bitter Scribe said on June 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    In case you don’t have enough stomach acid to digest your last meal, here’s a link to an NY Post story about the McDonald’s fiasco.

    Apparently, the McDonald’s Corp. is distancing itself from that dickhead franchise owner. You’d think that in all the rules and regulations that franchisees have to follow, there would be something in there about not nickel-and-diming your minimum wage employees.

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  34. Deborah said on June 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Good vibes going Maggie’s way from Santa Fe.

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  35. Dexter said on June 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    That piece of at sort of reminded me (a real stretch here) of the Chicago Picasso. All the newsmagazines ran feature pieces on it and the Trib and SunTimes had a ball with it. What WAS it? Most (or some, anyway) say it’s nothing more than a vagina.
    Me? I ain’t saying.

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  36. Bitter Scribe said on June 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Uncle Rush came to the conclusion that ‘the moneyed interests’ within the Republican party are behind immigration reform, since it gives them cheap labor.

    And in other astounding revelations: No one likes paying taxes, pro wrestling is fake, and the sun rises in the east.

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  37. LAMary said on June 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    The whole Southwest water issue has been going on for years. When I worked for Grace Lichtenstein at the NYT Denver bureau, it was probably the topic that came up more than any other. Grace did a great article for the NYT magazine on the subject.

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  38. MarkH said on June 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Bitter, I can affirm to you that McDonald’s is scrambling not just to distance itself from this mess. They are going to have to do it firmly, yet with a good story to explain how their rigid rules for franchisees got an end-around from this one. I know our local McD’s owner and one other in the region. From the stories they tell me about their contracts, rule #1 is you don’t slime the brand and it’s (supposed) to be consistently policed. Very sticky for the company and will be interesting to see how it is played.

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  39. Prospero said on June 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    What the hell was that guy in Fort Worth driving?

    UGA had an unpopular piece of public art like that once. Eventually, it was moved to witness protection in an empty pasture in another county after several acts of vandalism against the horse. People really despised that statuary. I don’t think it’s all that bad, and to me it appears likely to have been inspired by Picasso’s Guernica. And nobody ever called Pablo Picasso an asshole, as Jonathan Richman is fond of saying.

    I’d say they should leave the Fort Worth piece the way it ended up after the collision and change the title to “Heisenberg”.

    Feel better Maggie.

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  40. Jakash said on June 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm


    Here’s Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg’s take on the Picasso, from his swell new book “You Were Never in Chicago”:

    “…to me it has always plainly been a Spaniard’s mockery of our desperate midwestern grasping toward European sophistication. It’s as if Picasso said, ‘You want high art? How about a big rusty baboon’s ass for you to admire for the rest of time?’ It’s a good joke and we fell for it.”

    I think that’s pretty funny, but I gotta note that if it’s actually the case, Picasso may have played a number of other artistic jokes that didn’t involve desperate midwesterners…

    Also, as long as I’m addressing you, I enjoyed your comment at #4 a lot.

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  41. Bitter Scribe said on June 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    MarkH @37: I can believe that McD’s is very image-conscious.

    I remember when they opened a Ronald McDonald House near one of the local hospitals, and my mother’s quilt guild volunteered to make quilted wall hangings for all the bedrooms. Well, they couldn’t finish enough for all the bedrooms, so my mom basically said, Fine, let them buy art prints or something for the remaining four or five rooms.

    The wife of the then-CEO of the McDonald’s Corp. summoned my mom (she lived near their corporate headquarters) and personally pleaded with her to do the rest of the hangings. Mom said she couldn’t because she was about to start teaching another quilting class and wouldn’t have time. McDonald’s ended up reimbursing my mother for the lost revenue so she would cancel the class and finish those damn hangings. Not only are those people highly image-conscious, they have a way of getting what they want.

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  42. Prospero said on June 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    People that live in the desert should garden by xeriscaping. With desert plants like ocotillo and cholla. I particularly like ocatillo, because it looks like something growing on the ocean floor, and produces brilliant red-orange blossoms. Flowering desert plants tend to be spectacular when they bloom. Cholla blossoms are bright yellow, pure white, scarlet and a sort of neon magenta.

    I worry more about peak water than I do about peak oil. And after that discussion of geographical errors, I should be more careful. The Colorado is supposed to run to the Gulf of California (the Sea of Cortez, in Mexico), not the Pacific. And as much as I like houseboating on Lake Powell, I wouldn’t feel too terrible if some monkey wrenchers actually blew the Glen Canyon dam. When water runs out, the whole world will be a Lori Petty movie only it won’t be funny, and the soundtrack will be Johnny Thunders singing You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory. Sacrificing water resources for filthy petroleum technologies like fracking and oil tar sands mining is a fool’s game, and a recipe for disaster.

    The spell check wants to change Cortez to cortex.

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  43. nancy said on June 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Tom Smith, the FW city councilman who also works as an art dealer (or did), told me the original “Helmholtz” was supposed to have a giant pair of balls on it. It already looks sort of like a bull, and the plan was to give him some Rustoleum gonads. Maybe that was too figurative for Mark di Suvero.

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  44. Prospero said on June 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Brass ones?


    Horrifying X-ray of a female human foot in a spike high-heel shoe. I like the way they enhance shapely legs, but this is barbaric to a Chinese extent.

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  45. Deborah said on June 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Changing or repairing art is tricky. In Chicago there is an Agam sculpture on Michigan Ave and Randolph, that was fading pretty badly. Yaacov Agam is an Israeli artist who does these kinetic sculptures that don’t really move but appear to as you move past them, they’re very colorful: (sorry about the long link, I don’t know how to make them shorter). The building owners hired a company to come in a repaint the color on the sculpture and the artist had a fit because he said the repaired colors weren’t true to the originals and he wasn’t consulted. He made them remove his name from the sculpture. The building is the one with the slanted diamond shaped top that was in the movie Adventures in Babysitting.

    We are in the middle of our door painting project and it’s taking way more coats than we expected, we have plenty of paint, it’s just going to take the whole day to do.

    I got my first assignment for my Beaver Brook class, we’re having a video conference call next week and I’ll get to meet all of the attendees, so far I have heard from 3 of them. One of them is coming from Helsinki! So far they are all guys except for me, I’m hoping there will be some women. And of course they are all young, but I knew that was going to be the case.

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  46. adrianne said on June 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Nance, all I can remember from the Fort Wayne News and Sentinel was Mark diSuvero’s victory photo in front of that awful sculpture, and our fill-in-the-cutline contest. I think the winner was, “Suckers!”

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  47. Charlotte said on June 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I knew I’d become a westerner when, flying into Chicago one year in September I looked out the window and thought “gee, the lakes and rivers are still all full.” Also, when I asked my Aunt about the water rights to the creek that runs through our farm. “What are you talking about?” she asked. Oh. Yeah. It rains there.

    Had the great good fortune years ago to get to spend some time with both Charles Wilkinson and the now-departed Marc Reisner (who was devastatingly handsome and clearly big trouble). Wilkinson’s one of the chief legal scholars on water rights (and American Indian issues) in the west, and Reisner’s Cadillac Desert is a terrific exegesis of California water issues.

    Speaking of which, fingers crossed, it looks like an afternoon thunderstorm headed my way. After no rain at all in April and most of May, we’ve had a lovely wet June.

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  48. Mark P said on June 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I was in Phoenix about 20 years ago for business. I had a free day so I drove around a while. I visited some Indian ruins and generally hung out, sometimes getting out of the car and walking around. I drank and drank and drank, and never once peed. Sweated it all out. As I drove back into town at around midnight, I saw a sign with the time and temperature. The time was way off, and the temp said 103. I laughed because I thought both time and temp were wrong, but when I got out of the car the heat hit me like an opening the oven door. The temperature was actually 103 at midnight. I also remember driving around town and seeing a beautiful, grassy green area many blocks away. I drove towards it and gradually realized it was a cemetery.

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  49. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Well, as we commented a couple days ago in this space regarding “Helmholtz”* (which Nancy wrote about in her print column, many years ago, as I recall) when it was first built, some people (including me) thought it looked about as artistic as a demolition site.

    But over the years, the thing grew on me, until it was as much a part of Downtown Fort Wayne as our beautiful county court house, or the so-ugly-it’s-beautiful Powers Hamburger stand, or our art deco Lincoln Tower, or our still-unfinished looking One Summit Square tower.

    I really think the drunken driver smashed into the thing on purpose, and it therefore looks to me more like an actual attack, than just a case of criminal stupidity.

    If the maroon had a swarthy complexion or was a naturalized citizen from eastern Europe, his attack would have made Fox-national news

    *Did the artist get the name from here?

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  50. Jolene said on June 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    The availability of clean water and competition for water rights are big issues throughout the world and will likely become more important as sources of conflict as climate change unfolds and as the population expands to the anticipated 9 billion.

    I was horrified by this NYT article re the draining of aquifers in the Midwest. It’s as if we learned nothing from the disastrous agricultural practices that helped to produce the Dust Bowl.

    The story re water use and alfalfa production that Julie mentioned was part of a series called “Food for 9 Billion” that appeared on the PBS NewsHour last week. An excellent series. The reporting was done in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting. The individual videos that were part of the series are on their site at the link below and at the PBS site. Very much worth watching.

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  51. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Jolene – good to hear from you!

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  52. mark said on June 18, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    It’s likely that the charges against the Helmholtz hitter will depend, in part, upon the dollar value of the property damage inflicted. A good attorney should be able to make a persuasive case that the value of the statue as art was significantly less than its scrap price. I’d say our drunk driver released the Helmholtz to achieve its highest purpose in a recycling yard.

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  53. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    A good prosecutor would (and should) throw the book at that guy

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  54. Sherri said on June 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    During the drought years when I lived in the Bay Area, there were always articles in the local papers about the lack of water meters in cities in the Central Valley, though I see that’s finally changing: Watering lawns in a desert is a problem, but the biggest waste is in agricultural use. Any tea partier claiming that growing alfalfa in a desert in California and shipping it to China is a triumph of free markets doesn’t understand free markets: the water to grow that alfalfa was provided by and is subsidized by the federal government.

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  55. Jolene said on June 18, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    A quick update on my cancer treatment: So far, I am feeling remarkably lucky. I had a few uncomfortable, but bearable, days after the first chemo infusion, which is now 12 days ago, but have been feeling fine since then.

    The joy of hair loss is still to come, and further treatments may prove more taxing. But, if things don’t get worse than this, I’ll be thrilled.

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  56. Julie Robinson said on June 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Glad to hear that, Jolene, and thanks for enriching us as always with your great links. I didn’t remember where I’d seen that story, as someone who shall go unnamed was testing the speed of the remote.

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  57. brian stouder said on June 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Jolene, it is very good to hear from you, and especially to learn that things have been proceeding relatively well for you.

    For a bunch of people I’ve never seen – let alone met – this place is in the Top Five for ‘things to do every day’ (a list that includes things like eating, showering, looking both ways, and the like)

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  58. Deborah said on June 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Good news, Jolene.

    We have the series Cadillac Desert on DVDs, it’s eye opening.

    We have Cholla on our land in Abiquiu, it’s due to bloom later in the summer. We also have Prickly Pear but they hardly bloomed at all because it’s been so dry. Mostly we have juniper bushes (some quite large) and natural grasses, my favorites are needle and thread grass and rice grass. All of our pinions were wiped out a few years back from the bark beetle infestation, that was a crying shame. In the middle of the day in the summer there is absolutely no shade, later in the day the junipers provide shade.

    LA Mary, we bought a rosemary plant but we have to keep it in a pot because it’s too cold in the winter for it to be outside here, we’ll bring the pot indoors when it gets freezing. Lavender can withstand the winter though for some reason. It gets pretty darn cold here because of the altitude (7,200 ft), especially at night. Even in the middle of summer the night temps are in the 50s, which I love, great sleeping weather.

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  59. Sherri said on June 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Continuing good wishes Jolene, and good thoughts to Maggie as well.

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  60. LAMary said on June 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Deborah, there are a lot of varieties of lavendar and some are frost resistant. I’ve been to Santa Fe in the winter so I know it can be cold, and at 7200 feet you are not likely to get a lot of heat at night. Have you managed to explore any of the penitente churches in Northern New Mexico? There’s so much fascinating history in that area. I know someone who is a descendant of a crypto-Jewish family who moved to New Mexico in the sixteenth century to escape the inquisition.

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  61. Prospero said on June 18, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    The guy in the actual boots is worth the price of admission. Hooray for Cyndi Lauper’s Tony Award.

    Grotesquely inappropriate book cover. Because Sylvia Plath’s depressing novel about mental illness and suicide is a lot like Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In when you really think about it. What the hell was the publisher thinking.

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  62. Judybusy said on June 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Jolene, I hope the treatment continues to go so benignly! Thanks so much for the update.

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  63. MarkH said on June 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Prospero – was it you leading a discussion about a week or so ago about Steve Earle? He and the Dukes will be performing here in Jackson Hole on July 14. I’m thinking I should go. Maybe you’ll agree.

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  64. paddyo' said on June 18, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    LA Mary, if you were around Denver when water stories were the rage — meaning, if you lived in Denver PERIOD, because water is a forever topic here — you probably long ago heard the great old quote regularly misattributed to Mark Twain:

    “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting” . . . or in some versions, “for fighting over.”

    Here in Colorado, we also call water lawyers (there are gazillions of them) and irrigation and water district mucky-mucks “water buffaloes.” They move in herds and pretty much have the water, our water, any time or way they want.

    In the early ’90s, I covered a great water story for The Denver Post, a wild scheme to drill hundreds of wells deep under the high, remote San Luis Valley, to “mine” its unreplenishable “fossil” water and to pipeline it over the mountains about 200 miles northeast to metro Denver. The company was run by Maurice Strong, a prominent U.N. undersecretary and Canadian oilman with gobs of money. It was classic little-guy potato farmers and enviros vs. Big Oil/Big Water/Big Money. Amazingly, the little people won. After years of studies and debate and a couple of weeks at trial, the whip-smart small-town judge, straight from central casting, ruled from the bench with a memorable soliloquy, rejecting the company’s case. They coulda made a movie . . .

    But hey — forget it, Jake, what western water movie is better than Chinatown?

    We in the West really live connected to one gigantic and neverending Rube Goldberg plumbing project. It began in the 19th century with flumes and ditches and makeshift dams (for miners, farmers, loggers) and grew quickly to concrete mega-dams, pipelines and tunnels, and our not-so-wonderfully weird crazy quilt of state-by-state systems of western water rights and water law.

    My grandfather, born 125 years ago in Nebraska, became for his time (mid-20th century) the government’s foremost authority on western water law. Boppa worked 60 years for the Department of Agriculture and wrote more than half a dozen major (and, it should be acknowledged, dry as the Mojave) books on the subject. And he wrote them all from his home and office in . . . Berkeley? Yes, the city of my parents’ birth, and mine too. I have always regretted his death, at age 82, when I was about a year away from college, J-school and . . . water stories. I’d love to have had him around to help decipher the arcania of the subject I most enjoyed writing about.

    Our other famous saying in the West about water, proven time and again from L.A. to Denver and everywhere in between:

    Water flows uphill . . . toward money.

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  65. Prospero said on June 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Mark H. I have never seen a Steve Earle show, but I’d drop everything to get to see him. Brilliant songwriter, with a terrificc voice and singing style. You may find yourself annoyed by his politics, about which he’s extremely outspoken. But for my money he is a very entertaining performer.

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  66. Deborah said on June 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    In Abiquiu we will both drill a well and catch rainwater. It doesn’t rain there enough anymore to get by completely by catching. We had a dowser locate our well a few years ago and we have an engineer geologist tell us we have plenty of water underground but we’ll have to drill down 400-700 feet. Yikes, that’s expensive. In our part of the world they say it takes 10 acres of land to sustain one person with enough water, we have 100 acres so I think we’re OK. We will probably drill next spring.

    LA Mary, we have been to many of the penitente churches around here. The most famous one is in Chimayo. People still make pilgrimages there during holy week and sometimes you can see the penitents crawling the last part of the way on their knees. In the church in Chimayo there’s a room off of the alter area where there’s a hole in the ground that is filled with holy dirt. There’s another room off of that full of crutches and testimonial photos and notes from people who’ve been healed. Every time I go I collect the holy dirt and sometimes I rub it on my arthritic finger joints. You never know…

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  67. Prospero said on June 18, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    paddyo’@64: “Bad for Glass.”

    And gas and poisonous fracking liquid potions flow down man-made fissures in rock strata right into watersheds and aquifers.

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  68. Jolene said on June 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    NBC News had a feature on low water levels in the Great Lakes tonight, with discussion of the consequences for shipping and recreation. More consequences of climate change. Warming air leads to increased evaporation, and precipitation levels haven’t kept up.

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  69. Mark P said on June 18, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Paddyo have you seen The Milagro Beanfield War. One of my favorites.

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  70. Hattie said on June 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I always thought di Suvero’s stuff was crap.
    Those boys really got away with it once upon a time.

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  71. Deborah said on June 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    The Milagro Beanfield War was filmed not too far from here in a place called Truchas. Robert Redford owns a lot of property there, or at least he used to.

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  72. Rana said on June 19, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Jolene, I hope it continues to go well. My BIL went through chemo earlier this year and had accupuncture and massage as well, which he said helped.

    Judybusy, thanks for the info about Maggie – I’ll be thinking of her.

    The aridity of the American West is, basically, what I wrote my dissertation on, lo those many years ago, and not a whole lot has changed since then. If anyone wants some (slightly stale) reading recommendations, I have ’em up the wazoo. People have already mentioned Mike Davis and Cadillac Desert; you might toss Donald Worster’s Rivers of Empire in there if you’re up for a read.

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