Summer snapshots.

I said expect some photo posts this summer, so here you go.

I found this video on my phone, having utterly forgotten it from a couple of weeks ago. It’s from Port Huron, at the start of the Mackinac race. When the boats start to make their way out of the river to the starting line, the Port Huron Yacht Club hosts a troupe of pipers to send them off. Sort of cool. Click here if you want to watch it.

The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad had a big weekend — five gigs in four days, one of them on the University of Michigan student radio station. It was to promote some local-music festival. They made the Metro Times listings:


Look at Justin Timberlake, checkin’ out my girls. Step off, pop star. You can’t handle the DVAS.

The best gig of the weekend was Thursday’s, at the Magic Stick. The theme was Space Jam, so decorations were in order:


They were very energetic. I will say, that after years of dragging Kate around to jazz gigs and other music lessons, six months with this band has done far more for her confidence than all that sophisticated repertoire she played with various ensembles. She’s having a ball, and so a ball she will continue to have.

How was y’all’s weekend? I spent it working on the book, and was rewarded with a strongly ass-smelling Mitch Albom column. The past week included Detroit’s 313th birthday, and if you’ve ever called someone here, you know that’s the city’s area code. So there were a number of parties, festivals, throwdowns and the like going on all week. These included: A “body-positive,” i.e. semi-nude bike ride, a street-band festival, about a million other things. A guy I know who’s involved with the people who own and operate Gon KiRin, aka the dragon art car that shoots actual fire out of her nostrils, got her out and about. They got pulled over by the cops. Let me just set up the punchline by sketching out what this thing offers:

The beast is 22-1/2 feet tall and about 80 feet long, weighing in at 8 tons. It’s an “art car,” built onto the frame of an old Dodge W-300 Power Wagon with a 318 engine. There’s a 1,500-pound second-story DJ booth encased in steel wicker, mounted on a Marine Zodiac attack boat under the monster’s spine. The whole contraption can carry more than a dozen riders, with seats in the mouth and in a party couch on the back, where riders can make the tail sway back and forth.

So guess what the offense was? One of the artists had his 2-year-old son with him, and he wasn’t in a child safety seat. On a dragon.

With all this going on, with this vast buffet of snacks and bonbons to choose from, here’s part of Mitch’s offering on the 313 celebration:

What we are — what we remain — is a place that celebrates things like its 313th birthday. A place that immortalizes an annual car cruise down Woodward Avenue. That treats Opening Day of the baseball season as a religious experience. That considers walking around new cars in tuxedos and black dresses the biggest party of the year.

We are resilient in our traditions. Fiercely proud of own. We act as if Tim Allen still walks down our streets and Bob Seger is releasing a top 10 song this week, as if Motown is a thriving business, not a museum, and Gordie Howe could lace them up and play a few shifts if he wanted to.

Tim Allen. Bob Seger. Motown. The Dream Cruise (which doesn’t come near Detroit). If this guy were any more out of touch, he’d be living in California. All of the above details about the goings-on could have been gleaned from a cursory run through the free weekly’s listings. I can’t stand it.

OK, then. I just sent this David Carr column to my colleagues. It’s about the use of immediate social-media technology to report on breaking news, and the complications and rule-bending it brings with it:

Tyler Hicks, a longtime photographer for The Times, was at a hotel in Gaza City across from the beach where the four Palestinian boys died. He tweeted the news immediately, took a photo that was hard to glance at and then wrote about what it was like to be standing there.

He said that he felt horrified, but that in a clinical sense, he also felt exposed. “If children are being killed, what is there to protect me, or anyone else?”

The act of witness, a foundation of war reporting, has been democratized and disseminated in new ways. The same device that carries photos of your mother’s new puppy or hosts aimless video games also serves up news from the front.

Are you middle-class? Feeling poorer today? There’s a reason.

OK, I’m outta here. Have a great week, everyone. Expect more spotty service.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Media, Same ol' same ol' |

40 responses to “Summer snapshots.”

  1. Wim said on July 28, 2014 at 4:25 am

    I used to work with a piper. And, I lived two houses down the street from him. And, he used to bring his pipes when we went out in the field. And, he’d be toodling away on his practice chanter while I drove. I’ve heard a lot of pipe music and pray god I never hear more. Unfortunately, since that Star Trek send-off for Spock, you can’t go to a funeral without hearing ‘Amazing Grace’ plumped out of a bag by some knock-kneed alcoholic in a kilt. Oh wait, I’m still talking about that guy I worked with. There’s a reason I don’t do Facebook.

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  2. ROGirl said on July 28, 2014 at 7:13 am

    I went to the Day on the Town event in Birmingham on Saturday and saw a girl group playing on a portable stage set up on Woodward. I wondered if it was the DVAS.

    Mitch is nostalgic for a version of the 80s that didn’t exist the first time around.

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  3. brian stouder said on July 28, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I thought it was gratuitous to drag Tim Allen into his silly ruminations.

    Allen’s series of tourist commercials are nostalgic/romanticized sales pitches for tourism within the state of Michigan, not just Detroit or area code 313 in particular.

    To call that double-talking mish-mash “phoned in” is to give it too much credit

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  4. Deborah said on July 28, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Chicago’s main area code, 312, is something hipsters get tattooed on their calves. The Lincoln Park people like theirs, 773. In New Mexico the area code 505 covers a vast area that includes Albuquerque and Santa Fe which are 60 miles apart. Even Abiquiu has 505 and it’s 45 miles further out, 505 doesn’t seem to be a big deal to people there.

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  5. alex said on July 28, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Back when Chicago was still all 312, I remember people speaking derisively of 708s, which was anyone in suburbia at that time.

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  6. susan said on July 28, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Back when Warshington State only had two area codes–206 for west of the Cascades, and 509 for east of the mountains–you’d see bumper stickers in eastern Warshington that said: “Don’t 206 509.” That sentiment still applies, except now there isn’t room on the sticker for all the western area codes.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 28, 2014 at 9:49 am

    304 forever.

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  8. Bob (not Greene) said on July 28, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Alex, think of how betrayed I felt — a 312er all my life (the entire metro Chicago area had the same area code until the late 1980s) until I was consigned to the 708 in my 20s. I’m still a 708er and work in the 708. I guess it’s just my lot not to be hip.

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  9. brian stouder said on July 28, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Well, I remember “Beverly Hills 90210” – or whatever – but that was a zip code.

    Anyway, Fort Wayne – which was founded in 1794 (thanks, Google!) has a birthday (October 22) ending in a zero this year, too…

    But we won’t match our area code until 2054 – by which time our area code will no doubt be alpha-numeric!

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  10. Julie Robinson said on July 28, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Fort Wayne was 219 until 15 or so years ago when they had to split it, and decided that the larger town would be inconvenienced with a new area code, and the smaller area (northwest Indiana) would keep the old one. So everyone had to reprint stationery, etc. The upside was that we’re still using notepads from the box hubby brought home with the old area code.

    We had a mini family reunion over the weekend and it was fun and tiring. And this morning my numbers were not balancing without triple-checking. However, it’s a light week at work with no meetings or reports or newsletters, so soon I’ll go home for the week. A nap calls, followed by weeding.

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  11. Sue said on July 28, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Let’s see who catches this first. (Catches, get it?)

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  12. brian stouder said on July 28, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I would have voted for “en route”

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  13. Basset said on July 28, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Hmmm, not so sure about those hyphens on the plaque either.

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  14. Deborah said on July 28, 2014 at 11:41 am

    It tells you what the error is and a commenter adds a few more.

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  15. Sue said on July 28, 2014 at 11:51 am

    And now there is an argument going on about the Oxford comma, and a discussion on idiomatic vs. grammatic, on Deadspin. Hyphens too. I love the internet.

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  16. brian stouder said on July 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I would never have come up with the “less” versus “fewer” one!

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  17. Sue said on July 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Deborah, no fair reading the tweet before you read the plaque!

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  18. LAMary said on July 28, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    When I moved to LA it was one area code: 213. Then the Valley got 818, half of the area around Downtown got 323, Pasadena and east got 646, east of there 909, west and south 310 (including Beverly Hills) northwestern suburbs 661.

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  19. brian stouder said on July 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Here’s a cake-taker – which should be a pie in the face of every “free market”, anti-“Big Government”, laissez-faire snake oil salesperson – such as Rick Perry and Raphael Cruz and Ron Paul – etc

    the lead:

    WACO, Texas (AP) — Two fertilizer companies sued following a deadly Texas explosion are claiming the small town deserves blame for failing to properly train volunteer firefighters and first responders, who made up most of the 15 people killed by the blast.

    El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries argued in a state district court in Waco that the city of West, which has about 2,800 people, had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 2013 blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion.

    Did you catch that? “Insufficent protocols”??!

    The firefighters didn’t have enough bureaucracy and red tape?

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  20. Sue said on July 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Brian, although it’s a nasty thing for the chem company to do, they do indeed have a point at least in part:
    “A motion from El Dorado also alleges that the city should be named as a responsible third party because it failed to protect its citizens by allowing through its zoning authority schools and a nursing home to operate in a close proximity to the plant.”
    The town should take their share of the blame on this. If they cannot self-govern any better than this they need to face up to their contribution to the destruction of their town and the deaths of their citizens.

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  21. Minnie said on July 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    This is way off topic, but I recall a much earlier (months ago? years?) discussion here on the wonders of immersion blenders. Last week I blew out my early model Braun. Braun no longer distributes to the U.S, so I consulted that fount of knowledge, the Internet. Research found very good reviews for Breville, favorable and unfavorable reports on Kitchen Aid, and lukewarm reception of Cuisinart wands. I’d like something comfortable and not too heavy mostly for blending hot soups, smoothies, pestos, and mayonnaise. Any suggestions?

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  22. brian stouder said on July 28, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Sue – couldn’t agree more!

    It will be fun watching some of these “libertarian” (read – robber baron) types chase their tails on this example of why we need regulation and protocols and so on, eh?

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  23. Heather said on July 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Minnie, I have the Cuisinart 2-speed hand blender, and while I don’t use it all that often, it works really well and is easy to handle and clean.

    I’m the grammar wonk at my office, in addition to my copywriting duties, and I regularly correct the “less than/fewer” error. I am pro-Oxford comma, but we use AP Style as a default, unfortunately.

    Also off-topic: I have been giving my ice cream maker quite a workout this summer. This weekend I finally found some good peaches at the farmers’ market and most of them went to making ice cream. Sooo good. The puree or a slice is also good in white wine.

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  24. Jeff Borden said on July 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Hey everybody!

    Sarah Palin is launching her very own TV channel and it will cost you only $100 per year to listen to her deep thoughts on just about everything.

    Man, she is a grifter’s grifter. . .a con woman’s con woman. I almost feel sorry for the dunderheads, dunces and dickwads who think she’s the bee’s knees. Palin is not particularly bright and lord knows she is uneducated, unread and untraveled, but she has a feral sense of how to tap the jugulars of the rubes. This ought to keep Bristol in birth control pills for awhile.

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  25. coozledad said on July 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    It’ll be like Animal Planet without the courtship rituals. If they get David Attenborough on board for a couple of voiceovers, it might be worth a quarter of the asking price.

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  26. Dexter said on July 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Failed dental crown, failed root canal, tomorrow this damn hurting molar is coming out once and forever. I have never welcomed surgery like I relish the surgery tomorrow. I have been warned “…this one won’t be so easy…”, I said “bring it on, give that damn tooth your best shot.”

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  27. Sue said on July 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    No Cooz, Randall has to do the voiceovers.

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  28. Kim said on July 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    About an hour ago the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today ruled Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Stunning!

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  29. jcburns said on July 28, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    There are no tiny grammatical errors, there are just lots of people who didn’t pay attention when this stuff was presented to them in school. Here in Atlanta, there’s more brouhaha about Maddux’s logo-free cap (he legitimately spread his career out among the Majors)…but I kinda wondered: why not just not put a cap on him at all?

    I guess I should be grateful it doesn’t have a Home Depot logo on it.

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  30. Jolene said on July 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Brian, I don’t think “insufficient protocols” refers to bureaucracy or red tape. It refers to having rules or systems in place for fighting certain kinds of fires. It was a volunteer fire department, and the suit is essentially arguing that they didn’t have expertise to handle the situation. Doesn’t exactly seem like a stretch, however mean it seems to blame the people that tried to help.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on July 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve never heard of Randall before but hell, let the guy take over for Morgan Freeman as the voice of documentaries. He’s great.

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  32. Dorothy said on July 28, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Speaking of grammar/spelling errors, have many of you heard about this?

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  33. brian stouder said on July 28, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Jolene – I couldn’t agree more whole-heartedly.

    It just struck me as black-humored that these corporate buccaneers point to insufficient ‘protocols’ and so on, when they spend the all the rest of their time inveighing against “job killing” environmental/emission control/OSHA rules

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  34. Deborah said on July 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I was wrong, Little Bird informed me that she’s seen 505 tats in Santa Fe.

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  35. jcburns said on July 28, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I’m lowering the windscreen on my USB microphone today for NPR’s Margot Adler, who died at age 68 after battling cancer. Broadcaster, New York alternative radio pioneer (at WBAI/Pacifica) , and wiccan/pagan/somesuch.

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  36. David in Cincinnati said on July 28, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Minnie, my sister gave me a Salton immersion blender for Christmas 15 or 20 years ago, and it still works a treat. It only has one speed, but it is sturdy and quick.

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  37. Jill said on July 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I’ve been happy with my Cuisinart immersion blender. I haven’t tried anything heavy duty with it, though.

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  38. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 28, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Very sorry to hear about Adler’s passing — she wrote “Drawing Down the Moon” about her Wiccan involvements, a very readable history of the Old Religion in America, and generally a remarkably adept interviewer and journalist in the complexity of NYC. I heard from a friend she had an amazing rent-controlled apartment near Central Park that was huge, but had very little furniture in it; inherited from her pioneering psychologist grandfather. She was herself a generous and simple person; wrote a memoir called “Heretic’s Heart” (I think).

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  39. Jolene said on July 29, 2014 at 12:01 am

    I once heard Adler interview someone who’d been in hiding in the Netherlands during WWII, much like Anne Frank but she didn’t leave a diary or, of course, get caught. Was a great interview and, after initially being surprised that there was such a person, I realized how dumb I was. There must have been many such people.

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  40. Kim Ellis said on July 29, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I have a Bamix immersion blender. While a little pricey,it has an excellent warranty. Plus it has taken anything I have ever thrown at it without even a hiccup.

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