A gray area.

Ugh. This cold isn’t a terrible one, but you know how it goes: You’re chugging along, sniffly but fine, and then it’s like a sad trombone plays wah-wahhhh, you eyes roll up into your head and you drop onto the nearest fainting couch.

Meanwhile, current temperature is 9 degrees. Supposed to dip below zero tonight, and pretty much ditto for the week. There is icy lumpy fuck everywhere; just taking the trash out today was a mufu’in’ ordeal. But one day at a time, one step at a time, we’ll get through it.

I hope you folks in Arizona and Florida are very, very happy now, because you have to carry it for all of us.

There’s been lots to talk about in the world of late. I haven’t fully formed an opinion on the Dr. V’s Miracle Putter story and its ugly aftermath, but as of now, I’m finding it hard to climb on the LGBT bandwagon. At this point, I’m coming down closest to Gene Weingarten’s middle path: The story was absolutely defensible, the transsexual angle is absolutely fair game, but there’s a tonal problem with parts of the piece that his editors should have caught. And if anyone knows tone in long-form journalism, it’s Weingarten.

I will admit to frustration with LGBT people whose reactions are, essentially, that the author of the piece is the next best thing to a murderer and these issues of changing gender identity are as plain as day to everyone with a heart and a conscience. They are not. They are not, and they won’t be for a while, and even sensitive people are going to mess up on this one from time to time until that day comes, and even after, it’ll happen.

OK, then.

You know that old urban legend about the guy who drives home blind drunk, falls into bed and wakes up to find a dead body stuck to the grill of his car? Sometimes it happens, only the guy lives. In Wisconsin, the drunk-driving capital of the U.S.

Bridge had some good stories on the festival fatigue in Traverse City yesterday; you can find them in the links on the right rail, or here, here and here. Anyone who lives year-round in a tourist area should be able to identify. The middle link is a Q-and-A with Michael Moore, who never fails to drop a bomb. In discussing what Traverse City needs, he suggests a four-year university, and adds: “Plus it’s always better to have smart people around than ignorant people. The ignorant and intolerant are never the ones who make progress happen.” Boom.

OK, then. Off to brew some tea or something else warm and stare gloomily out the window.

Posted at 12:30 am in Media |

40 responses to “A gray area.”

  1. Sherri said on January 22, 2014 at 1:14 am

    No, definitely not a murderer. But I do have some frustration with the Grantland staff for not even considering contacting an LGBT reporter for their take on it, especially since Christina Kahrl writes for espn.com (which is also Grantland’s employer) and is an openly transgender reporter. (I remember reading her when she was Chris Kahrl.) That neither Simmons nor anybody on his staff bothered to get her take until after the whole thing blew up is a sign of how insular Grantland can be. I read Grantland regularly, and Simmons clearly wants to be taken seriously, but sometimes his schtick is barely above sports talk radio in appealing only to the man cave sports demographic. I get it, that’s how he made his name, but that’s why I never paid him any attention until he started doing better stuff.

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  2. Dexter said on January 22, 2014 at 3:22 am

    I heard we are just 1.5 inches from setting an all-January snowfall record. It’s hard to walk on this ice-under-snow surface, impossible to shovel thick ice from the walk, minus eight F right now…I have trained the dogs to “go” in the front yard so I don’t have to walk way out back or load them into the van for a ride to our country field we like to go to and walk. I posted “The Cremation of Sam McGee” to my Facebook page.
    It’s too late to read the Grantland piece, the story is new to me, but I just speed-read it and man, what a complicated life and story.

    When I first began attending “those meetings in church basements” I would hear the story, always with variations, and I quickly recognized it as a perpetuating urban myth, a Twilight Zone-type tale: driver wakes up with hangover, feels like “maybe something happened last night”, shakes it off, goes to garage…oh shit! And the grill of the car has a body wedged up against the radiator, there are any combination of body remnants stuck to the car in varied ways, and after a while, yeah…bullshit. And then, every few years, I’ll come across a story like the one of the man in Wisconsin. I remember one clear-headed woman telling a group, “I don’t want to be the one that proves the story about the morning-surprise in the garage is really true.”

    A friend posted a photo of the Purdue senior who was murdered in a classroom Tuesday. Pictures intensify the sadness,even if the young man was a stranger to us.

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  3. Deborah said on January 22, 2014 at 4:26 am

    When I click on the aftermath story link it goes to the cyclist story. Your cyclist story link also goes correctly to the cyclist story?

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    • nancy said on January 22, 2014 at 5:01 am

      Sorry. Fixed.

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  4. Basset said on January 22, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I have never seen any reason to give even the slightest shit about what Michael Moore says on anything at all.

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  5. coozledad said on January 22, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I like Moore’s idea about a four year school, but it would probably take a generation or two to have visible impact. You’ve got to have a few graduating classes hang around in town for awhile, and at least a few emeritus hanging out in the shops that spring up looking to boff them some kids. Vampirism is a big part of the American economic engine.

    And it’s got to be a liberal arts school, or better, an Art school. Money follows that like flies on shit, for some reason.

    Sad hole of Baptism, Danville, VA, is a beautiful town filled with lovely 19th century industrial architecture, but its four year school is a Baptist play-date. The youngs are just as mopey and imagination-free as the olds. An hour southwest is Greensboro, with a liberal arts college. Everyone knows Greensboro fucks*, and not through a hole in a sheet or a truckstop wall. It’s got stores, restaurants, and money downtown. I never thought tattooed goths would be a harbinger of cash flow, but there it is.

    *I’m going to trademark that, because North Carolina cities pay lots of money for slogans.

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  6. David C. said on January 22, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I do hope my Wisconsin cycling experience doesn’t involve a free ride home in someone’s grille. I get nervous driving after dark when I once heard that it’s estimated that 1 in 20 drivers here are impaired. I suppose the cyclist is lucky that the drunk didn’t get “frightened” and stand his ground.

    My brother-in-law lives in TC. He lives in a kind of snooty neighborhood with a lot of homes being Summer places owned by people from points South. Most of the time, when they are not around, it’s nice. When they are in, though, they are a bitchy, whiny lot. If Mark has planted a tree since they last time they saw the place, they’ll pitch a fit about it ruining their view and demand that it be removed. It that is the sort that the festivals bring, I don’t blame the locals.

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  7. alex said on January 22, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I think the LGBT community is overreacting on this one too. The fact that Dr. V is transgender is integral to the story. As a matter of fact, Dr. V isn’t the first tranny con artist to launch a corporation and fleece a bunch of wealthy investors.

    I remember a story from the 1970s in Car & Driver about an upstart car company run by this “lady.” Of course, in those days, it wasn’t terribly flattering to its subject either, but in all fairness the gender swapping was part of the ruse.

    In fact, I suspect on a deep psychological level that this was the case in the Dr. V story as well. And consider Slate’s Welfare Queen story wherein a white female fraudster who was a master of disguise transformed herself into a black woman and stood for a very public trial as such and went undetected by anyone save for her own family back home who were aghast. As the article states, her demeanor was somewhat incongruous in hindsight — her attitude was one of defiance and she seemed to relish the whole thing. Her biggest crime, in retrospect, is that she gave license to the bigots and haters who use welfare code to bash the black race by becoming a national emblem for an apocryphal phenomenon, namely one person collecting benefits under hundreds of assumed identities and enjoying a very posh lifestyle because of it.

    This is not to impugn the transgendered by any means, but I suspect those with duplicitous inclinations may have some predisposition this way. And I base this opinion on plenty of drag queens I knew back in the day who never paid a dime for any of their clothing or makeup. They could go into a fancy retail establishment and stuff copious amounts of merchandise into their girdles. While pretending to admire a dress on a rack with one hand, they were removing another from a hanger with the other hand and scrunching it into a tiny ball, which they then secreted out the door. I suspect it’s the drag culture more than anything that led to today’s security measures. And I have no doubt there are those who can still figure out ingenious ways to beat the system.

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  8. alex said on January 22, 2014 at 8:09 am

    P.S. — I should mention that I got to see some of these gals in action. They were my beards and were certainly passable enough.

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  9. beb said on January 22, 2014 at 8:10 am

    If we’re going to have quotes from stupid Michiganians I’d rather have Michael Moore than L. Brooks Patterson.

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  10. nancy said on January 22, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Michael Moore is a tragically flawed man. “Roger & Me” was great, but all of his movies since have been undermined by their own architect. “Bowling for Columbine” very correctly put a finger on the media as the engine of our gun madness, but the final confrontation with Charlton Heston sprayed a big stinky fart over the whole thing. But the real tragedy was “Sicko,” which was devastating, and stayed so right up until the welcome-to-Havana stunt. Why hasn’t he learned that all he’s doing is handing people permission to not take him seriously?

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  11. basset said on January 22, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Beb, if we’re going to have quotes from stupid (former) Michiganians I’d rather have Ted Nugent than either of ’em, at least he’s (unintentionally) funny.

    Actually “stupid” is probably the wrong word, at least Ted’s smart enough to find an act that works and go with it.

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  12. brian stouder said on January 22, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Well, I’m gettin’ tired of our ‘winter of the polar vortex’ – but it was indescribably pleasant to see the Deborah-inspired phrase “icy lumpy fuck, everywhere”.

    It just captures that quintessential feeling of BLECH! one feels (between one’s teeth) when you walk out into this, at 0 degrees F, at 7:01 am, in the dark

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  13. BigHank53 said on January 22, 2014 at 9:51 am

    If Danville isn’t enough of an example, Cooz, you can drive another hour and visit scenic Lynchburg, VA, home of Falwell’s Liberty University. 13,000 undergraduates and I’ll bet you $20 there isn’t a single place in town to buy a roach clip.

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  14. coozledad said on January 22, 2014 at 10:08 am

    BigHank53: We had to drive to Pelham, NC, the other day, and it was the equivalent of driving the car up the ass of 1948. Who says there’s no time travel.

    My wife is fond of looking at the men for men section of Craigslist Lynchburg. She never tires of irony.

    You may not find any roach clips there, but it’s only because they’re not capable of supporting a two hundred pound male via his nipples or testicles from a garage beam.

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  15. Joe K said on January 22, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Want to know who is nice and who’s not? Ask a lineman at a airport.
    When I was flying checks I went to Travers City every night, line guys hated Moore, claimed he was a egotistical ass, he along with Madona were the ones they hated to see fly in, Tim Allen, and Jimmy Buffett were the nicest.
    Pilot Joe

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  16. Peter said on January 22, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Nancy, I couldn’t agree more with you about Michael Moore. Roger and Me was quite the film, and every one since then just gets worse and worse. But what the heck, he’s produced an infinite amount more films than me.

    I think the Grantland article could have been written better, but Alex is right: her sexuality is integral to the story. It’s not like the writer was going National Enquirer on her; the only reason he looked into the past was because something didn’t smell right. She could have turned down all interviews or issued a written statement. But no. It wasn’t the writer’s intent to have her outed or sent to jail, it was to get to the truth of the matter. Period.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on January 22, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I’ll disagree with the “Roger and Me” assessment. The majority of those who felt the lash of Michael Moore were low-echelon, low-paid security guards and his choice of interview subjects in Flint might’ve worked nicely in a remake of “Freaks.” I’m thinking specifically of the lady with her “rabbits for pets or food.” Agit-prop that primarily screws over hourly workers and half-wits isn’t exactly a shining example of the genre.

    These days I think Moore does far more damage than good. I’d be quite happy to see him lapse into silence.

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  18. Bitter Scribe said on January 22, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I’ll disagree about the trip to Havana in “Sicko.” I thought that was a remarkable piece of political theater, the fact that these 9/11 responders who were stonewalled in their own country were taken care of by our so-called enemy.

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  19. brian stouder said on January 22, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Well, Michael Moore strikes me as similar to R Emmett Tyrell or maybe Christopher Buckley (for two shiney examples on the right); the too-clever-by-half slacker, holding forth in the back of the school bus; probably capable of more, but not inclined to stretch

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  20. Deborah said on January 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Ditto on Michael Moore, he embarrasses me and he’s an egomaniac.

    It hasn’t snowed here in over a month, we’ve had highs in the 40s and 50s for weeks and we still have ice on our driveway. And it’s supposed to snow tomorrow, hoping it will because of the water situation here.

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  21. alex said on January 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I’ve mentioned it here before, years ago, that I lost all respect for Michael Moore when one of my best friends had to deal with Moore during his short-lived TV show. Moore uses heavy-handed tactics to stir up conflict where none exists, then swoops in for an ambush. In this instance, he tried to incite a labor uprising in a Border’s Bookstore in Chicago by emplanting disgruntled employees who were on his own payroll for the purpose of trying to unionize the store’s other employees, then depicting Border’s as a big bad corporate brute for repeatedly ejecting Moore and his camera crew from the premises and for telling employees that they’d only be screwing themselves: Union dues would amount to nothing more than a pay cut in a retail establishment already known for treating its employees better than most by offering health benefits and better wages. As soon as the store voted to unionize, the troublemakers left and were soon followed by the rest who voted the union in, and for the next two years — until it could be voted on again — the store was the least desirable location to work. Employees who deserved merit raises couldn’t get them unless everybody got them; people who deserved to be fired couldn’t be fired. As soon as the statutory two years passed, the union was unanimously voted out.

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  22. kayak woman said on January 22, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I have to commiserate with all of the weather complaints — “icy lumpy fuck” being the worst of my woes. But, as a long-distance all-weather walker, I need to put a plug in for the YakTrax ice cleats that are affixed to my snow boots for the duration.

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  23. Joe K said on January 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    As a outdoor runner I tried lots of anti-ice tricks. The one I found that workers best for me was going to the hard ware store and buying a hand full of sheet metal screws and screwing them into the bottoms of a pair of my running shoes, now when there is ice or packed snow I just pull those shoes out and off I go. Took a some trial and error to figure out exactly where to put each screw but I figured it out and have about 10 on each shoe. Cost my about $3.00
    Ran this morning 6 miles – 4 degrees.
    Pilot Joe

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  24. Dexter said on January 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Check out this goofy bastard’s selfie album…if you like bearded hikers, that is.

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  25. Basset said on January 22, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Joe, I doubt I’ve run six miles total in the last twenty years, not counting basketball games.

    I’ve had some contact with the writer of the putter story, back when he was at our local alt-weekly and I was a local government PIO… always seemed to be a straight down the middle guy who was doing his best to get it right. I’m not seeing the tonal issues in that piece, someone explain please…

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  26. Deborah said on January 22, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Dexter, that’s a cute video about the hiker.

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  27. Scout said on January 22, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Dexter, that was really cool. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. alex said on January 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    More on the cross-dressing con artist I mentioned upthread, this from People Magazine in 1975:


    I think the guy whose blog I linked to above was just a photographer and not the writer of the Car & Driver article because the quality of his writing there is really kinda piss poor. I distinctly remember the C&D piece because this is where I was first introduced to the word “mélange.” Melange. I don’t think he’s capable of having anything half so grand in his vocabulary, much less using the word in a sentence. I remember someone giving me endless grief for once having used that word, a college-educated colleague who’d never heard of it before and thought I was being an uppity ass. I wasn’t familiar with it either when I first read it in that article in 1975, but I figured it out contextually. The car, first christened as the Dale and later renamed the Revette, was described (and I paraphrase) as “a mélange of cannibalized car parts from various other makes that had been cobbled together to look like a sci-fi car of the future that you might find on a Hollywood backlot.”

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  29. alex said on January 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Try, try again.>/a>

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  30. alex said on January 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    And it works, even though I effed up the HTML.

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  31. Dexter said on January 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Hungry? Let’s go grab a bite to eat. Nothing special. 🙂

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  32. MarkH said on January 22, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Alex, I remember the Liz Carmichael story very well from that lengthy 1974(?) article in Car and Driver which broke the story. I thought the whole thing was one of their ’70s spoofs they were famous for until about a third of the way through. Wacko styling on the car, though, like it started life resembling a Porsche 924 and mutated from there with the attempt at an Alfa Sprint Speciale rear end. Here is a Hemmings story on he/she and the car, three of which actually exist. Alledgedly, one is a running prototype in the Petersen Museum, but can’t find it on the website.


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  33. Scout said on January 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I’d heard about the Grantland story on NPR, but until I read today’s links I had not read the piece in question. As a member of the LGBT community, I used to have my own questions and misunderstandings regarding how the trans community became integral to the GLB community. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that I do get it now. Every trans person I know has had a very difficult life, before and after the surgical decision. Knowing the people I know and the hell they’ve been through, I understand completely why this became a BFD.

    Reading the original piece, I cringed at the almost gleeful way the writer reports his discovery that Dr V used to be a guy. Almost every use of pronoun was wrong and while Dr V obviously made up up a bunch of things about her past that were relevant to the story of the revolutionary putter, the fact that she was trans wasn’t one of them.

    Dr V committed suicide in October and they decided to run that story anyway, without vetting it with any member of the transgender community, and without even considering the humanity of the subject or her loved ones. Bill Simmons’ mea culpa makes perfect sense to me, and I give him props for it.

    Sign me,
    On the Bandwagon

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  34. nancy said on January 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    That’s the tonal problem I was talking about, but I still reject the idea that this woman was a stand-in for all trans people. Let’s not forget: She was a con artist, and the gender switch was inseparable from it. I agree there might have been a little more sensitivity extended her way after the suicide, but — and this may have been in a different reaction piece — the fact the trans community has a high suicide rate has nothing to do with the story. I also strongly disagree that a person’s gender switch is proprietary information, and if it isn’t specifically revealed to another person, that person has no right to reveal it elsewhere.

    There’s a great deal of mau-mauing going on over this, in and around the legit objections. It’s hard to unweave the two.

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  35. MarkH said on January 22, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Jalopnik did a Liz Carmichael/Dale ipdate last April complete with a photo of the Peterson Museum vehicle. Apparently it is a non-running version:


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  36. MarkH said on January 22, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    “UPDATE”, dammit.

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  37. Scout said on January 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I don’t think the gender switch had anything to do with her being a con artist, other than than possibly that living an inauthentic life up until her sex reassignment made her better at massaging the truth than most people. But maybe that is what you were saying.

    I do agree that Dr V should not be held as the standard bearer for trans people, for either positive or negative reasons.

    I also believe that this story, the backlash, and the subsequent apology by Simmons are good for better sensitivity toward trans people and for how media should operate when it is clear they made a mistake. About anything, not just this.

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  38. alex said on January 22, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Well, I just got some shitty news from the body shop chosen to repair my truck after I hit a deer the Sunday before last. To fix the damage from that will cost $4500, which is really $3500 plus my $1K deductible. But they also have to report other damage to the insurance company and they’re claiming there’s an additional $5K in damage to a truck with a book value of $9-10K.

    It’s an ’05 Toyota Tundra double cab with 160K miles, which in my experience means it’s barely broken in — probably serviceable for another 200-300K before it bites the dust. It has been completely trouble-free with no repairs thus far. It’s a little dinged up after nine years of use as a utility vehicle, sure, but I can’t see having it declared totaled and letting them sell it to a salvage yard. That truck feels like an old friend and I would hate to let it go. It’s still a beauty and gets a lot of compliments too. I really don’t feel like making payments on a new one when that wasn’t in the plans and I have other priorities. I’m not even sure they’ll insure it if they let me buy it back as salvage, and I’ve been with State Farm for almost 30 years with a squeaky clean record. I couldn’t find a used truck that I’d trust as much as this one.

    Major bummer.

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  39. Dexter said on January 23, 2014 at 1:33 am

    That’s a dilemma alright, Alex. This can be worked out in a couple ways by the adjustor. He won’t even be in contact with the body shop, and the agent just does the paper-shuffle to the company . I have been in similar situations, and it was always better in my cases to take the total loss claim. Actually, there was no other viable option. The main thing is the frame, and a deer strike by a Tundra shouldn’t have hurt the integrity of the undercarriage and basic frame. You will be close, and may not even have the options, either way: it will be declared a total, or you will have to get it fixed, S.O.L. on the deductible.

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