Calvin’s house.

I’ve grown fond of Neil Steinberg’s blog, partly because of its spectacular name: Every Goddamn Day. I sometimes wonder if newspapers might fare better if they’d change their names to hew closer to the best of the internets — your Balloon Juices and Gin and Tacos and Self-Styled Sirens. I should change this blog’s name, but I lack the imagination to come up with anything very good. Every Goddamn Day is taken. And I have no intention of posting every goddamn day; five days a week is plenty, thank you very much.

Anyway, Tuesday’s entry, Calvin Klein’s plywood house, was one of my faves so far, as it formed a little community around the relative handful of people who read Jacob Bernstein’s piece in the Sunday New York Times, about Calvin’s new house in Southampton, and basically said WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK.

Bernstein, you journos probably already know, is the son of the late Nora Ephron and Carl Bernstein, and appears to specialize in trolling readers. His July profile of Caroline Kennedy was particularly sick-making, and this sort of adoring tongue bath for Calvin Klein mainly tells me that whatever his mother gave him, she didn’t give him her gimlet eye for bullshit.

Steinberg notes that Bernstein saves this amazing revelation about the $70 million Klein summer house for the 30th paragraph:

After that, a life-size mock-up of the two story house was built of plywood on the property. That project was so substantial that it required a building permit from the Village of Southampton and wound up costing approximately $350,000, according to two sources close to Mr. Klein. So that Mr. Klein could get an even better idea of what it was to be like, the furniture he had in mind was created of foamcore.

This house was such a dog and pony show that he spent $350,000 on a full-scale model, complete with fake furniture, before he actually built the house. Steinberg notes:

That’s a big drawback of being rich, I believe—I’m guessing here, but I feel fairly confident. Wealth gives you the illusion that you can have everything Just So, everything to your liking, all the time, and allows you to go to ridiculous lengths to try to get it. Not to take anything away from Calvin Klein. As a young man, I owned one of his bomber jackets and was immensely proud to have it. And now, his boxers and undershirts—just the best. Wouldn’t wear another brand; nothing else will do. So he earned his money, and if he feels compelled to spend it in such a patently crazy, controlling and almost sad fashion, well, there you go. If I read of the plywood dry run house in a Christopher Buckley novel I’d smile, shake my head and think that Buckley had gone a bit over-the-top, and strayed into overbroad parody. That it is instead a factual occurrence is a matter of wonder, and deserves the widest possible dissemination.


He’s been on a roll of late. I thought this piece about Charlie Trotter, the celebrity chef currently delaminating somewhere in Chicago, was very fine.

And while we’re taking Chicago Columnists for $1,000, Alex, here’s Eric Zorn on the sorts of people who sucked lemons when Diana Nyad emerged from the Florida straits:

I left it to others to sound the note of bitterness: “I would love to accomplish my dreams too,” as a commenter put it, “but a thing called working always seems to interfere with that goal.”

Meanwhile, over at the Atlantic, there was a photoblog of Burning Man. Someday my kid is going to want to go to this thing, and I guess there won’t be much I’ll be able to say about it. I’ll do like Frances McDormand in “Almost Famous” — DON’T TAKE DRUGS!

I’m writing a story, and as usual it is draining me, so not too much more today, sorry. It’ll be a lovely day today, though — enjoy it.

Posted at 12:30 am in Media |

71 responses to “Calvin’s house.”

  1. LAMary said on September 4, 2013 at 12:44 am

    I have a niece and great niece who live in Bridgehampton, in the low income part of town, they tell me. Some affordable houses were built and people below a certain income level could enter a lottery to get one at a price far less than the house would cost on the open market, and my niece won. She’s an insurance agent. Issac Mizrahi lives in Bridghampton. Recently my niece’s school, Bridgehampton High School, sold softball jerseys as a fund raiser, and I bought one. I am confident I’m the only resident of Los Angeles with a Bridgehampton Bees jersey. I wear it proudly.

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  2. Rana said on September 4, 2013 at 3:33 am

    The plywood house, over the top though it is, puts me in mind of a practice I observed in Del Mar, California, when I was living there about a decade ago. As close to the ocean as it is, you can imagine that view lines are a crucial aspect of property values in the area, and any new construction’s impact on such is subject to the approval (or not) of the neighbors whose views might be affected. (In one notorious incident, one homeowner planted a line of fast-growing trees along one edge of his property. In a year or two, they’d obstructed the view sufficiently that he was able to argue that the extension he was building of his house wasn’t an impingement on his neighbors’ views, as said views had been obscured by said trees, and no protests had been made during that time. He got his approval for the new construction, and promptly cut down the trees once he was done, restoring the view, now only visible to himself.)

    Anyway! What this meant was that most new construction had to undergo community approval, and one thing that was frequently done to facilitate this was for the would-be builder to construct a frame of two-by-fours and plastic tape in the shape of the planned structure, so that all the neighbors could get a sense of how it would alter their view lines (or not), what it would look like in the neighborhood, and so on. It was pretty weird to see, but I could understand why they did it.

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  3. coozledad said on September 4, 2013 at 3:45 am

    $350,000 is pretty much what we paid for 117 acres, a house, and several dependencies in more or less a state of decay.

    It’s sinful to waste plywood. It costs a shit ton of petroleum to make, and they’re deforesting the southeast to make it.

    Our vulgar rich remind me of the unusual feeding behaviors of an animal that is beginning the slow process of natural death. It’s the pathetic hunger.

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  4. Brandon said on September 4, 2013 at 4:05 am

    No, newspapers are Timeses and Heralds and Tribunes and Observers and Bulletins. No abstract titles for them, unless they’re underground/alternative papers like Rat.

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  5. ROGirl said on September 4, 2013 at 6:12 am

    This is what CK tore down, a hideous nouveau riche monstrosity. Good taste doesn’t come cheap.

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  6. beb said on September 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever taken “What Fresh Hell?” Dorothy Parker’s line seems appropriate for a blog.

    James Fallows with six questions the administration should answer before bomibing Syria, or anyone. A shorter version of this questions amounts to ‘what is your goal?’, ‘how does bombing advance your goal?’ and ‘What could possible go wrong?’

    And Cleveland monster Ariel Castro found death in his cell. Hanged. Since, supposedly, he is checked on every 30 minutes one how did this happen and who helped him along? People are cheering the news. Some people are upset that people are cheering for the death (murder?) of a man. I’ve come to accept that the mob is a blood-thirsty beast.

    If there is a more annoying commercial tha a camel on hump day -PLEASE – don;t tell me about it!

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  7. brian stouder said on September 4, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I always liked Nancy’s print-column’s name (Telling Tales), but presumably her newspaper owns it.

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  8. Mark P said on September 4, 2013 at 8:50 am

    ROGirl, good taste might not come cheap, but having lots of money doesn’t ensure good taste. I could retire on what the monstrosity cost to build.

    beb — I think the people who made the camel on hump day commercial would be pleased with your reaction.

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  9. Dorothy said on September 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I LOVE the camel on Hump Day commercial! Makes me laugh every time! Annoying: Bill Cowher and the cast of Hot in Cleveland at the airport talking about DirecTV. That one seems to have run out of gas and now there is a new one with Coach Cowher. It’s not annoying. Yet.

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  10. MarkH said on September 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Correction, Dorothy. Cowher & Co. are pitching evil spawn Time Warner Cable. That’s the worst part of it.

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  11. Peter said on September 4, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I wrote to Neil yesterday regarding Mr. Klein’s plywood mock-up – he wasn’t the first, and he wasn’t the biggest:

    Architecture students of my era know the bizarre tale of the Kroller-Muller Museum – Madame Kroller had a competition, and selected several designs, including one from Mies van der Rohe, had a full size mockup in canvas and plaster made of each design, mounted them on bogeys, built tracks on the site, and moved each of the designs over the property to see which would be the best fit. She eventually rejected all of them.

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  12. MaryRC said on September 4, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I like Calvin’s house better than the one it replaced but I hope there are blinds or curtains to keep out the sun — or would that spoil the perfection of the look? I suppose he could afford the a/c bill.

    At least he won’t have to replace sun-faded upholstery. “Room after room is filled with white couches” according to the slide-show. How did that ever get to be a thing? Last weekend I showed my mom an article I was reading in one of her magazines, about a family’s make-over of their home. One of the photos showed the family’s three young children posed in the living-room furnished with white couches, white chairs and and a white rug. We shared a hearty laugh.

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  13. DanB said on September 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I’ve got to agree with MaryRC- Klein’s house is a huge improvement over what was there before, and a really nice take on the minimalist look. Now how practical it is is another question entirely. And I had to roll my eyes at the bit from the Times slideshow: he had the dunes reshaped to his liking. Does he not understand what sand dunes are and that they’re not going to stay that way for long?

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  14. MaryRC said on September 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

    The further I read through the article on Calvin’s new house, the more I’m convinced it was written tongue in cheek.

    “But when the mock-up was complete, he came to the realization that it wouldn’t even be possible to shower without giving a show to half of Southampton. So Ms. von Gal [the landscaper] did something with bayberry to give him cover.”

    He needed a $350,000 model to make him realise that if your house has glass walls, people can see you.

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  15. Dorothy said on September 4, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Oh dang it! Thanks MarkH! Shame on me. I use DirecTV at my house. I’ve had Time Warner at another home and hated it. Thanks for the reminder.

    Hey yesterday some of you guys were talking about ‘old man smell’ and I was ruminating on that a bit. The only ‘old man smell’ I think I’ve encountered has been out in public, usually at grocery stores, when I pass by a gentleman who seems to be wearing clothing that may not have seen the inside of a washing machine for quite some time. This is just a gentle reminder, in case any of you have this habit, that you should NOT wear shirts/pants multiple times before washing them. My dad used to do that and it’s just nasty. I think he thought he was saving my mother work by not putting his garments in the hamper regularly. My husband has done this a few times, and I’ve asked him to please not do that. That’s definitely a source for developing a kind of ‘old man smell’ and I just thought I’d point that out. I would rather have more laundry to wash and fold than to be out and about with my love who is overripe in the olfactory sense.

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  16. brian stouder said on September 4, 2013 at 10:50 am

    or –

    no one wants to see the stones of the guy who lives in a glass house

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  17. nancy said on September 4, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I think Mary answered her own question. “Children” and “Calvin Klein” have never gotten any closer than maybe Brooke Shields.

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  18. coozledad said on September 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Glass box= greenhouse. Our drafty Harbor Freight greenhouse gets up to 85 to 90 degrees on a twenty degree day. I guess he can grow some tomatoes indoors to hide his nakey ass from the neighbors.

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  19. adrianne said on September 4, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I dunno, to my eyes, Bernstein’s breathless tale of Calvin’s mansion by the sea was completely lacking in irony. As was his Caroline Kennedy profile. He sure didn’t inherit the humor gene from his mom.

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  20. Julie Robinson said on September 4, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Old man smell is also old woman smell. After working with retired volunteers for many years I’m all too familiar. My hypothesis is that they’ve lost their own sense of smell, and if they also don’t sweat anymore, don’t think they have it. Also, getting in and out of a typical bathtub is scary to them because of balance problems. Maybe the men are widowed and don’t understand laundry well, either.

    I deal with this proactively in our house by scooping up the clothes on the bottom of the closet when I have a partial load to run. These are the “but I just put them on for a couple of hours after work, so they certainly can be worn a few more times” items.

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  21. coozledad said on September 4, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Edward Hopper’s beach house. Plenty of glass.

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  22. Dorothy said on September 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

    You’re right, Julie. Women are not exempt. Mike’s aunt, who’s been in the nursing home since November last year, has not bathed in all that time. She thinks it’s sufficient to run a wash cloth over certain areas a few times a week. As someone who hasn’t visited her since April of this year, I can testify: it’s not enough. She recognizes that there is a smell in her room (so she tells Mike on their weekly phone calls) but her current theory is that they’re burning something in the kitchen and they’re directing the ventilation system towards her room.

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  23. Judybusy said on September 4, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Oh, Dorothy, that sounds awful. Are the staff continuing to encourage her to actually bathe?

    Meanwhile, I get irritated when I hear stuff like Calvin’s gambit. So much waste spent on oneself, when all that money could go to the common good. No, I don’t give every spare cent away, but the scale doesn’t compare. We are in the midst of getting bids for several major home projects, and hoping we can do it all with some of the equity in our home. Calvin could throw us 100,000 grand, not miss it and make all my home dreams come true….

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  24. LAMary said on September 4, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Calvin Klein has a daughter. She was kidnapped back in the seventies, or there was a threatened kidnapping or something. Now she’s a producer on Saturday Night Live. Marci Klein is her name.

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  25. Dexter said on September 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I love Hopper’s and Vincent Van Gogh’s work the most because unlike most other art, their art moves me and picks up my spirits. “Nighthawks” is the only work I purchased, a large print at the Art Institute of Chicago, and spent some cash having it framed.

    “Molly”, a cousin of “Ecstasy” , a form of MDMA, is being blamed for the deaths of two young people this past weekend out on Randall’s Island, NY, at the Electric Zoo concert.
    An eyewitness called in to the XM station I listen to (XM 103, The Opie and Anthony Channel, The Ron and Fez Show) and said the real problem was the constant dust from the unpaved parking lot and the fact that there were no watering and/or cooling tents or stations anywhere, only a few pressure hoses spraying a few people with half-warm water.
    Kids were getting toasted on too much Molly and forgetting to hydrate and after hours of being in a hyper-charged physical and mental state with no water to drink for many hours in broiling hot sunshine, adverse reactions began to set it, and though only two kids died, many dozens became very ill, and the show was cancelled for its last day, when all the Big Names were supposed to play.
    Burning Man was held in the Nevada desert, hot as hell, but I reckon those people know how to handle drugged up kids. And General Wesley Clark was there to party too. Has he gone off the rails or is he just a cool old dude?
    I used to give fatherly advice to my youngest daughter because she loved to go to Florida for Spring Break. Years later I realized she ignored every damn thing and warning I lectured about.
    Parents need to make sure kids know about how these popular drugs can maybe be fun, but in the wrong setting, even a seemingly innocuous drug like Molly can kill them. 🙁
    Irrelevant Mr. Grumpy Grampaw

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  26. Charlotte said on September 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Oh lordy — the Hamptons. Can we just send drones? My cousin of the Soul Cycle “fame” has what for the Hamptons is a lovely “little” house — really nice house in town with three or four bedrooms and a pool and a nice yard. “Little.” We went to a fundraiser for Cuomo when I was visiting two years ago, and her husband and I drove around looking at the ridiculous houses and commenting on how the recession hadn’t even hit out there, that there was no consciousness of it whatever (which is part of why Washington kept not doing anything — they literally did not see the problem). It’s too bad –it’s lovely country, it’s just filled with all those awful people. On the other hand, it keeps them from totally ruining places like the Paradise Valley.

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  27. Deborah said on September 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Charlotte, you are right about lovely country in New York, people mostly think of NYC, or at least I do and do not realize how gorgeous the countryside can be in that state.

    I like the minimalist design of the CK house. Peter, what are those rectangles on the roof? I’m assuming some kind of mechanical/HVAC apparatus. I didn’t see anything about who the architect was? I think the white furniture is classy but very impractical for regular folks.

    I’m back in Santa Fe, so glad to be in low humidity again. I had no idea NY would be that wet. I’ll link to some photos of the bath house later, we didn’t finish it but got pretty far along. The roof material didn’t arrive and the siding took so long to install we lost time. In hindsight they should have picked a more rustic siding, it was way too detailed for amateurs.

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  28. Prospero said on September 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    More amusing than most cat videos, a funny baseball vid involving a great catch and a wardrobe malfunction. Reminds me of the time Steve “Pscho” Lyons got his pants full of infield dirt on a dive into first base and had an alleged brain fart.

    If CK’s spruce goose wasn’t actual size, anything it accomplished in terms of view lines and site massing studies (maybe not the dollhouse furniture) could have been done with scale models in a studio. For some reason this makes me think of the croquet game in Alice.

    Millions of acres of Southeastern forests were toast long ago, cooze. What’s being deforested now for plywood are second generation pine farms planted and managed by Georgia Pacific, who denuded the old growth in the first place, sometimes on federal land. The Savannah River Plant nuclear facility is a case in point. We drive through it after promising not to stop for anything, particularly taking pictures, on the way from HHI to Athens and back. It always gave me a creepy feeling and one day I noticed that, looked at from an oblique angle, the trees, all pines, were in perfect aligned rows, like crops in a field. GP manages the property, which also means GP can harvest trees from the property and get paid for taking them away and turning them into plywood and particle board to sell at home depot. The Savannah River runs through it under eery dead foliage and deformed fauna (hermaphroditic frogs and salamanders), and emits a foggy steam all day and all night as it collects tritium in the drinking water supply for people downstream like residents of HHI and Savannah GA. Of course GP is a responsible environmental steward. All the ads say so.

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  29. brian stouder said on September 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Deborah, so tell me – do they always do construction projects? Is it all at one location, or is this dispersed? Are the projects meant to endure? Is the idea fun + craftsmanship + teamwork = a memorable experience?

    Just wonderin’

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  30. beb said on September 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Hey what about that London office building that melts cars? Duidn’t anyone notice how much the building a solar heat mirror?

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  31. brian stouder said on September 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    beb – makes no sense to me.

    Betcha somebody or other was tasked with preparing an environmental impact study…and how does this keep happening? There’s a hotel in Lost Wages that does the same damned thing.

    I thought architects and mechanical engineers were smart people – but these curved glass building solar cookers are just stupid, no?

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  32. Bitter Scribe said on September 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    The two pieces of real estate I’ve owned in my life, including my current condo, together are worth less than what Calvin Klein spent on his goddamn mockup.

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  33. Prospero said on September 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Thank God Congress has its priorities straight and kept those farm subsidies intact by shitcanning all of the SNAP food assistance money. Wouldn’t want the USA to have starving children at third world rates or anything.

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  34. Dorothy said on September 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Judybusy – she is bedfast and wears adult diapers. She is insistent that if she were to get into the shower with assistance, she would be a danger to the aides. (She weighs next to nothing – she’s a featherweight!) She thinks they’d hurt themselves helping her to stand. We’ve explained that there are wheelchairs she could use in the shower – they have them – but she refuses. She thinks she knows everything. She’s a retired Major and was an Army nurse. Even at age 88 (tomorrow) she is still trying to run things.

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  35. Charlotte said on September 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I have an old college friend who loves Burning Man — and who is the farthest thing from a hippie that I know. We’ve been going back and forth all week because I just *don’t get* Burning Man. I can’t think of anything worse than being out in the Black Rock desert this time of year, with a zillion other people, and the drugs and the “art” and all the rest of it. It just seems like the height of self-indulgence to me, but I hate crowds, and am not someone who is inspired/energized/etc by big group events. So, it might just be me.

    But I’m also a little grumpy about using the desert that way. The Black Rock was a really special, empty, beautiful place. See Gary Snyder’s poems about it.

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  36. Julie Robinson said on September 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Dorothy, I think I can speak for the room when I say ewww.

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  37. mark said on September 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm


    Why not turn the aunt’s care over to somebody that would treat her with a little dignity? Seriously, if you can’t figure out how to arrange for her to be properly bathed, entrust the responsibility for her to somebody who won’t throw up their hands and say “oh well, at least I can make fun of her on the internet.”

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  38. brian stouder said on September 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Mark, you’re out of line. Nobody is making fun of anyone.

    Many of us have had to deal with parents or other loved ones who simply arrived at a point where they were not competent to run their lives independently; and then we have shouldered the burden.

    If you haven’t, then I envy you; but be quiet

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  39. Deborah said on September 4, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Mark, that’s mean of you to say.

    Brian, in answer to your question about Beaver Brook, this was the first time they offered a building class, they’ve never done it before. There are cabins on the property that Zach owns, built by his friends and he had a large bunkhouse built using the structure of an old barn, so there are a few structures already. I hope they do the school every year, building a different structure each time. He had mentioned a stargazing platform maybe for the next one. They learned a lot about what not to do next time. Zach plans on buying more land so this could go on and on.

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  40. Joe K said on September 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Burning man is one of those things I would like to see on a limited bases, like maybe 24 hr top, they do lay out a airport out there during the festival, maybe I could hop rides for all the n.n gang that would like to go.
    Pilot Joe

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  41. Prospero said on September 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Burning Man is what passes for the Gathering of the Juggalos in hipster communities. And hipsters ain’t hippies, although I’m sure Burning Man draws a crowd of Slab City-zens. the Juggalos seem like more fun, although I’m sure the music is as annoying at one as at the other. I’d rather hang with a huge group of Deadheads. I imagine there is a high incidence of property crime and unattractive naked people at all three.

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  42. jcburns said on September 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Nancy, I’ve always thought of you as The Vindicator. Or maybe The Intelligencer. Or maybe even The Plain Dealer or The Blade. But certainly not the Athens Mess.

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  43. brian stouder said on September 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    She’s the best Sentinel I know of…

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  44. Judybusy said on September 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Yes, Mark, you’re out of line. Dorothy was getting support while sharing a very difficult situation.

    I think Zach’s next class should be implementing my new garden design! Just kidding, just kidding…..But in thinking about it, why not piggy back on Habitat for Humanity instead of building structures for relatively priveleged folks out in the woods? Again, a lot of talent, time and money being spent for the benefit of a few. (And Deborah, I know it was a great experience for you, but the conversation just got me thinking along these lines….)

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  45. DanB said on September 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    beb, Brian: the Las Vegas hotel and the London buildings with the focused sun problems? Both designed by the same architect. So you’d think HE’D learn something.

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  46. Kirk said on September 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    She’s no Times-Picayune.

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  47. Julie Robinson said on September 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Mark, I’m going to interpret your remarks in the most charitable way possible and assume you’ve never had to deal with a stubborn and/or demented oldster. Dorothy and Mike are probably her best and last hope, from what I remember she has gone through every other family member’s patience.

    I’ve just come back from four days with my own mother, who is a hoarder and emotionally very fragile. She has untreated mental health problems that I believe stem from her childhood, and I have great compassion for that, while being very frustrated at being unable to get her to treatment. So she can’t let anything, and I do mean anything, go. We were cleaning up 20 year old cat-barf newspapers to make a path through her house. Previous attempts to do even this level of minimal cleaning left her so hysterical we felt she needed to be hospitalized.

    If you haven’t walked in those shoes, Mark, I hope you will. Then we’ll see what you have to say for yourself. Me, I’m just trying to find some grace and peace with my Mom’s situation before she trips over a pile and kills herself.

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  48. Dorothy said on September 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Why you perceive me as “making fun” of my husband’s aunt I don’t know, Mark, but I assure you she is treated with plenty of dignity and respect. She still has most of her faculties and engages in conversation about current events, usually knows what day it is, and praises the staff to us all the time for how well they treat her. Believe me, the staff has implored her on multiple occasions to allow them to help her into the shower room but she refuses. It’s her own personal opinion that she doesn’t have to get into the shower if she doesn’t want to. She says she ‘washes up’ in the bathroom with a wash cloth and a bar of soap most days. She asks us to buy body powder and lotions galore, but I think all that does is mask whatever she’s not washing off her body.
    Before she fell in her condominium 18 months ago we suspected she was not bathing at home either. Do you think we should force her at gunpoint to bathe? Exactly how would YOU handle this if you were dealing with an obstinate 88 year old woman?

    She has no other living relatives. Her sister and two brothers are deceased and she never married. My husband has no siblings. He is her Power of Attorney. He talks to her on the phone weekly and visits her once a month. When I go with him to Pittsburgh, instead of visiting her, I go to visit my own 91 year old mother who lives on her own and is pleasant to be with. If you want to think I’m making fun of her I suppose I can’t change your impression. But I can say with a great degree of confidence that you’re an ass who’s never had to deal with an obstinate elderly relative for a day let alone a year and a half.

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  49. Jolene said on September 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Deborah, you have probably said this before, but what is the overall goal of Beaver Brook? Is there a plan for what it is meant to become?

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  50. Jolene said on September 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    And, yeah, Mark. I didn’t have the slightest sense that Dorothy was making fun of her aunt. It is tough dealing with older people who can no longer care for themselves. In our family, we dealt with these problems for several years. And, as difficult as the practical problems were, even more difficult was seeing people who had been unusually competent, self-reliant, and productive–always the caretakers and problem-solvers in our community and extended family–become dependent and, sometimes, irrational. And then there was the joy of pondering what might lie ahead for me.

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  51. Prospero said on September 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Today is Martin Chambers’ birthday, the great drummer for the Pretenders that brought a jazz player’s feel for odd and shifting rhythms. And thankfully, like Chrissie, he survived success. The rest of the band didn’t.

    More gun stupidity. This nonsense happens every day all over the USA.

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  52. adrianne said on September 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Mark, that was an incredibly mean-spirited comment about Dorothy. It’s bad enough when you troll this comment thread with the latest idiocy out of the right wing, but this went over the line.

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  53. Prospero said on September 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I’m a card-carrying member of Amnesty Int’l. This is the web version of an email appeal I just received. This is a classic case of a problem with no clear solution, but that al-Assad has to go seems clear. It seems to me the truth of the gas attack charges is unmistakably clear. This has fuckall to do with the Shrubco misAdministration lying its ass off about Saddam. That was simply the culmination of the furiously spurious PNAC campaign to grab Iraqi oil possibilities that began in 1997 and was aimed at President Clinton. Two of its main architects had also engineered Iran-Contra, the exposure of which is the main reason for GOPer demonization of John Kerry.The fact that they had an entire new menu of reasons to invade should have been a dead giveaway. These were people that had lied their asses off previously in pursuit of an anti-Constitutional, extra-legal assault on the rule of American law for personal gain. Anybody see that happening with Obama and Kerry? I’d trust both men more than their predecessors, whom I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw Dickless Cheney’s next 50 heart donors that disappear under suspicious conditions. (Shouldn’t Cheney be at the absolute bottom of any transplant lists about now?) But what to do? Hell if I know. If it could happen, I’d get Bashar the way Ol’ Dirty Bin got got, and airlift bookoo humanitarian aid to the most reasonable of his opposition. Let the hearts and minds winning be done by those that actually are involved in the situation in Syria. But hell, I don’t know. If anybody does, let’s hear it.

    GOPer posturing on this is so counterproductive. It seems targeted attacks on Congress wouldn’t be a terrible idea. This is more or less what the President’s critics on the left seem to think should have happened already on a variety of issues, like the late, great public auction. As if there were some Praetorian Guard the President could despatch to demand incalcitrant GOPers do the right thing. But on Syria, nobody seems to have a clue.

    I picked up a week’s worth of mail yesterday, and there were five requests for financial aid from five different groups supporting wounded and otherwise importuned veterans. All I could think was, what the hell is wrong with this country?

    Aside from anything else, Mark doan know dick about Dorothy’s situation, nor the people involved, so a snide comment is particularly asinine and offensive.

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  54. Deborah said on September 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Jolene, I think Beaver Brook wants to be a community of makers. They have established a conservancy that designates how the land must be treated, regarding the cutting of trees, chemical uses etc. For instance the coating we used on the siding was organic so when it got all over us it was harmless etc. Messy as hell but harmless. In fact I cut my arm the first day, I have no idea how, and it healed faster than any cut I have ever had. I suspect the pine tar had something to do with that.

    JudyBusy, that’s a great idea but what made this experience doable for me was that there was a place for all of us to stay and someone who bankrolled the infrastructure of that. I suppose there might be a philanthropist who would do that for the good of society and there are probably programs out there like that, but I’ve not heard of them, and would not have even thought to seek one out, because it hadn’t occured to me.

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  55. Deborah said on September 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I should also add that the bath house structure we built was tiny, less than 144sf, and has no electricity or running water. It’s basically a sauna, with a wood burning stove to heat it, and water has to be carried up from the brook. The sauna stove has rocks on it that get splashed with water to make steam. They have to be igneous rocks not sedimentary, Sedimentary rocks would explode with the heat and splashing of water. A guy from Ithaca, NY made the stove out of 3/8″ steel. Cast iron stoves are not good for saunas. The stove maker was also a sculptor and fascinating to talk to.

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  56. beb said on September 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    My wife, the crzycatlady, can tell some stories about dealing with obstinate old people since she’s a nurse in a nursing home. Its not an easy time for either the elderly or the staff. My sympathize to Dorothy as she deals with her aunt. As some people get old and lose control of parts of their life they seize on other things to assert control over their life. It’s a hard thing to deal with.

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  57. Bob (not Greene) said on September 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Changing the subject, Whole Foods apparently is going to build a store in the Chicago neighborhood of Englewood, which is a poor, crime-ridden area of the South Side. Just who there is going to be shelling out for $20-a-pound strip steaks? Detroit peeps, I heard that Whole Foods had opened an “urban” store there. Any word on how that has gone or if they are adapting their model of charging prices that are way too high in the first place?,0,28747.story

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  58. nancy said on September 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I’ve shopped at the Detroit Whole Foods twice. My immediate impression of its urban status is that it has less than, say, the Ann Arbor store. Less of a bakery, less heat-and-serve food, etc. They have all the basics, though, and a pretty impressive produce aisle.

    I think Deadline Detroit did a price check between Detroit and one of the suburban stores, and found the staples are priced about the same. The regional VP defends their pricing, saying if you know what you’re looking for, use the bulk-food section and don’t load up on French cheeses, you can stay within a reasonable food budget. I say eh, Kroger’s cheaper but WF is higher-quality.

    They did go out of their way to hire locals, and it shows — at least if you believe black = Detroiter. What’s more interesting are the shoppers. It’s not by any stretch a majority white-yuppie crowd. Lots of middle-class-looking African Americans. Where they live, I can’t tell you, but I doubt it matters. If they get people from nearby businesses shopping on their way home from work, I don’t think it does. The place has been crowded both times I went.

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  59. Jolene said on September 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Deborah, who will eventually have use of the buildings at Beaver Brook?

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  60. Jolene said on September 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Some good zucchini recipes for you gardeners:

    The made-in-the-microwave vegetable soup sounds appealing.

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  61. Prospero said on September 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Nancy@58: Less than $4.50 per day per person? That was the max available from all the SNAP programs put together, before GOPers in the Senate 86d them in favor of continued funding of farm subsidies in full.

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  62. Dave said on September 4, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Mark, I had to go clear to the bottom and comment when I read your remarks and I would guess you’ve not dealt with aging adult issues. My mother is in a nursing home and she won’t clean up. Before my father passed away in May and she was still living at home, she wouldn’t clean up, she wouldn’t let anyone help her bathe unless severely threatened, as my sister-in-law, an emergency room nurse, did one day.

    Now, she’s giving the folks at her nursing home fits, she’s in a unit for Alzheimers/dementia patients. Mom was always on the stubborn side but she was always clean. This is a very unpleasant time, Mom’s condition has been much more difficult for all of us than losing our father.

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  63. Deborah said on September 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Jolene, I would say that the people who will have access to Beaver Brook are the friends of Zach, the owner. Friends that he makes on-line or in person. How many people that turns out to be is an interesting question. When you think about other historical places like that, artist colonies that attract people to visit who have come by word of mouth are they in the hundreds? thousands? millions? I have no idea?

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  64. Mark P. said on September 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Mark (who said you could use my name?), I have to join in on this one. It’s clear you haven’t had to deal with a stubborn elderly person. My mother, who died last February at 90, could absolutely not be convinced to do something if she didn’t want to. Short of physically picking someone up and bathing them like a dog, it’s almost impossible to get someone to bathe if they don’t want to. It’s incredibly insensitive to criticize someone in Dorothy’s position. As others have said, maybe one day you’ll be in the same situation. If you are, I hope you think back on what you said here.

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  65. Jolene said on September 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks, Deborah. Was just wondering whether he intended some kind of institutional or commercial use–a camp, a site for retreats or conferences, an eco-resort, something of that sort.

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  66. Prospero said on September 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Actually, it just occurred to me that in a difficult situation caused by another’s intransigence and mulishness, sarcasm, and black humor are acceptable responses for a person with responsibility for the problem. Obviously. Pretty natural human response, although I saw nothing of that from Dorothy’s comment. I’m 62 now and OMS could set in any day. I think my 20 miles daily on my bike in really hot weather followed by long showers (I don’t take short showers, where’s the fun in that?) probably keep me smelling fairly fresh, but I also know my housemate and lover will waste no time telling me if I start to stink.

    I’d also like to say, that lingering old folks and their problems may not be so terrible. From onset of decline until death, my mom and daddy took about a week put together. The suddeness and finality of it all was pretty close to overwhelming. I believe I would have rather had them around longer, no matter how awful some of the details may have been. As things turned out, I was alone with my dad for his last three lucid days, and it was extremely difficult, but we had wonderful conversations, including an extended one about Smilla’s Sense of Snow, a superb thriller by Peter Hoeg. It had been a favorite of my mom’s, and my dad was living on shaved ice, so the book was a natural subject.

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  67. Mark P. said on September 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Prospero, you were lucky, if that’s the word. My father had a progressive lung condition that would eventually have killed him, but he died unexpectedly from a fall in the hospital (!). My mother declined slowly but steadily over the next thirteen years. It wasn’t the worst situation I ever saw (my father in law’s decline into dementia was worse by far, at least for us), but my mother’s condition was a source of constant worry for my brother and me for years. It’s wearing.

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  68. Julie Robinson said on September 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Jolene, I just saved three of those recipes before I came over here and was already salivating over that soup. Got the garden tomatoes, got the frozen-fresh corn, but no zukes, so it will have to wait ’til I can get some. As much as I love zucchini I seem to be the one gardener without much success growing it. Let us know if you make it.

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  69. Judybusy said on September 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Prospero, that’s a tough call. My grandma lingered for about 8 years with dementia with very little quality of life–in that she didn’t really know what was going on. However, she was in a small-town nursing home where her daughter and grandson’s wife worked, so she was very well cared for. My father-in-law passed very suddenly of a heart attack at age 62, and friends’ parents have died after bouts with cancer. We’ve all talked about how there are good and bad things about both ways. I think we’d have preferred more time with my FIL. It was just totally out of the blue, and really derailed my partner for a while. You’ve mentioned that time with your dad before, and this also reminds me to check out that book–thanks.

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  70. Judybusy said on September 4, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Oooh, another good zuke recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen gal. You make an almond pesto and toss it with zucchini made into ribbons as in the first photo. Thanks Jolene for the recipes–I love zucchini and am always looking for good things to do with it!

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  71. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I’m surprised Alex didn’t beat me to this fine name for Nancy’s or any other blog:

    “The Broad-axe of freedom and grubbing hoe of truth”,

    an abolition newspaper that sadly only had a two year run in the 1850’s.

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