God bless the Jumbotron.

No blogging today, alas. I accepted a friend’s invitation to see Elvis Costello and Steely Dan last night at the venue once and forever known as Pine Knob. It was a hot night and only got hotter when the main act came on. A woman seated in the row ahead of us barfed all over the floor — I honestly don’t think she was drunk, as she seemed to be ralphing mainly gouts of clear liquid. The crew got it cleaned up between acts and a different couple sat down in the adjacent seats. Dustin and I looked at each other and said? Nothing, of course.

The barfer and her husband returned, the barfer’s hair tied up in a ponytail. Maybe she was just overheated.

Anyway, the acts were in good voice and Donald Fagen is still one of my favorite lyricists in pop music. Fortunately, there were visual enhancements:


I’m told the kids don’t like Steely Dan, and in fact consider the band the absolute epitome of boomer narcissism, all jazzy pretentiousness and grad-school navel-gazing. Their fans are assholes, they play “music to put your sleazy moves on a drunk woman in a ski lodge to,” they’re for snobs only.

OK. Whatever. I have very specific and generational memories linked to most of their hits, and as for “Aja,” well, let’s just call it a foundational text in my pop-music memory. So the hell with you haters. We all know what you gotta do.

So not much bloggage today, except for this, my old colleague Dave Jones on the poisoning of youth sports. By their parents, of course:

As Hall of Fame acceptance speeches go, John Smoltz’s was not terribly entertaining. He was too careful to mention each and every person who affected his life, growing up as the son of accordion teachers in Michigan, to reach any sort of real connection with the audience during a rather lengthy half-hour.

Until, that is, the last five minutes. The loudest and longest ovation Smoltz received was for the most passionate point he made near the end of his time on the podium at Cooperstown on Sunday.

It was when he tried to talk some sense into all the parents who are relentlessly driving their kids through the nonstop treadmill that is travel baseball. He was speaking of all the kids whose arms are worn out and even damaged by their mid-teens. Whose passion for the game has long since been replaced by a hollow expression, whose onetime thrill in competition has dissolved into some vague sense of duty to their parents’ commitment.

‘Til Tuesday, and beyond.

Posted at 8:59 am in Detroit life, Popculch |

46 responses to “God bless the Jumbotron.”

  1. Deborah said on July 28, 2015 at 9:26 am

    You started by saying “No blogging today” and then you proceeded to offer up another entertaining post. Thanks again.

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  2. LAMary said on July 28, 2015 at 9:59 am

    How was Elvis Costello?

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    • nancy said on July 28, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Workmanlike, no-nonsense, tight. Played “Alison,” “Pump it Up,” “Radio Radio,” “Watching the Detectives,” and walked off with “What’s So Funny,” etc.

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  3. coozledad said on July 28, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Steely Dan took a narrow, very difficult road. Jazz pop has an enormous potential for ugliness. I thought they did pretty well, considering the possibilities.

    I think what younger folks might take more legitimate issue with is the smarmy production popular in those days. It’s a kind of perversion of Brian Wilson’s mini symphonies mashed up with the coke-fueled assholishness of Jaco Pastorius and his farty harmonics.

    But the worst production was shat from the musical hellmouth of the nineties, where the drums are mixed in your face and the vocals are also dry and way too far up in the mix. I hated that “All I wanna do” shit, the whole damn Alanis Morissette catalog and all the “Ow, our singer is dead” opium acts. Everything that made it to mainstream radio was absolute shite.

    Things have been looking way up since then.

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  4. Peter said on July 28, 2015 at 10:37 am

    John Smolz’s parents were accordion teachers? Oh, the humanity!!

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  5. Suzanne said on July 28, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Travel baseball ain’t nothin. I’ve seen signs around here for travel tackle football, ages 5-15. I can’t in any world I can fathom see a need for a 5 year old to be on any kind of travel team of any sport.

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  6. BigHank53 said on July 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

    I once had a co-worker who loved youth football. Fundraiser, coached for Pop Warner and the local school, went to every game, knew at least some of the college scouts, the whole nine yards. One day the topic of surgery came up and he casually mentioned that his own son had had both his knees reconstructed–by the time he was fifteen.

    When youth sports fanatics talk about “building character”, I didn’t realize they mean “scar tissue.”

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  7. brian stouder said on July 28, 2015 at 11:07 am

    First – don’t miss JudyBusy’s pun at the end of the last thread!

    As for the ’90’s, I was (and continue to be) absolutely taken by Pearl Jam – and Eddie had the good sense to remain Alive! (on a scale of 1-10, you KNOW I’d say those guys are at…TEN)

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  8. Andrea said on July 28, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Huh. I thought only dudes liked Steely Dan. I’m just 3 years younger than the youngest Baby Boomers and never could stand the band, myself. But I guess those 3 years meant that I wasn’t making all of those neural connections between their music and epic moments in my own life. My husband is a huge SD fan and I just leave the room whenever he plays that shit. But, that means that I’m not one of the people vying for a ticket when they come to town, so more for you…

    Did anyone here ever watch the hilarious Yacht Rock YouTube series?

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  9. Snarkworth said on July 28, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Next time I’m barfing in public, I kinda hope the lady behind me isn’t carefully analyzing the consistency of my barfs.

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    • nancy said on July 28, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Ha! A fine spray was tickling my ankles. Let’s just say I had a vested interest.

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  10. nancy said on July 28, 2015 at 11:31 am

    The year I got married, I went to four weddings in six weeks — my own (followed by a two-week honeymoon), then three on successive weekends. The final one was in the Upper Peninsula, and the reception was at a yacht club on Lake Huron. I’d been to this location many times, and had many memories of it, but this was the first time I’d ever been standing on that dock in dress-up clothes, everybody tan and young and in sharp sunglasses. It was a perfect June day, the solstice in fact, and the wind was blowing just enough to tousle everybody’s hair and keep the bugs at bay, but not so much as to ruin your look. Cocktails and canapes were being passed while we waited for the bridal couple to arrive, and the DJ put on “Aja.” “Black Cow” came grooving out of the speakers, and I thought: Perfect moment. This one, right now.

    On July 4 of this year, I was at a backyard BBQ/concert at a bar in Detroit, where Kate’s band was playing. They went first, played their set, and the DJ stepped up. He put on “Aja,” too. I went over to him and said, “Are you playing this ironically, because you think Steely Dan sucks?” He said, “Hell, no! They’re awesome!”

    If he was humoring me, don’t clue me in.

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  11. coozledad said on July 28, 2015 at 11:44 am

    The yacht rock stuff was great. My favorite line is “Quit writing songs about your girlfriend (sic?) Or I’ll smoke your balls in my hookah!”

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  12. Nancy P said on July 28, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Yes! We’re seeing them at Chastain next Sunday! My two favorite acts in one place! And I’m using ALL my exclamation points! (Hey, do you think they’re touring together because both acts are too old to perform an entire show? We folks of a certain age appreciate an early bedtime.)

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  13. ROGirl said on July 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Steely Dan had that creepy older guys leching after young things vibe from way back. Now they really are old dudes, and the music is cool/annoying in equal doses.

    I love Elvis Costello. He always puts on a great show, rocking out and not forgetting all the old hits. His band is tight.

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  14. Scout said on July 28, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Countdown to Ecstasy is one of the defining albums of the mid 70s for me. When I hear Boston Rag I can close my eyes and I’m 20 again.
    I remember listening to it, Crime of the Century by Supertramp and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours on almost constant rotation.

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  15. Sandy said on July 28, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Love the groovy Steely Dan sound. However, when we saw them in Fort Wayne a few years back, I was disgusted at the drunk people around us who talked loudly throughout the show. After the fact, someone suggested that we should have called one of the Embassy’s ushers and been relocated. Also, I sort of felt like they were going through the motions.

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  16. alex said on July 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Part of Steely Dan’s mystique in their heyday was that they never did concerts. Seeing them now would probably ruin it for me.

    So today the angry villagers were out in full force having a very loud anti-Planned Parenthood rally downtown led by one of our more batshit crazy lady pols. I’m looking forward to hitting Chicago the weekend after next for some liberal affirmation.

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  17. beb said on July 28, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Rock and roll can be divided into two ages, the first was the 60s and 70s when guys wanted to “hold your hand” and otherwise get you into bed. The later period was the era of angry divorce songs (“I don’t care anymore.”) I think Steely Dan falls in the first group. I like their smarmy cool-jazz sound and the vocals are so buried under the music you don’t have think about what Deacon Blue means.

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  18. Dexter said on July 28, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Donald Fagen is a great interviewee…have a listen for yourself:

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  19. Sherri said on July 28, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    The gun lobby’s Merchant of Doubt: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/john-lott-guns-crime-data

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  20. mouse said on July 28, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Lucky you Nance!I saw Steely Dan two years ago at the Embassy(no,I wasn’t one of the loud drunks)and didn’t think at the time they had many miles left in them.Front row seats,a birthday present from my boss,$150 and worth ever cent.Never forget it!

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  21. Brandon said on July 28, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    I think what younger folks might take more legitimate issue with is the smarmy production popular in those days. It’s a kind of perversion of Brian Wilson’s mini symphonies mashed up with the coke-fueled assholishness of Jaco Pastorius and his farty harmonics.

    Coozledad, can you give a few examples of musicians or songs exhibiting this?

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  22. susan said on July 28, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I never intentionally listened to Steely Dan, although I had heard of them. So I turned on youtoob, put on their album “Aja.” Feh. Audible wallpaper. No there there. Didn’t make through one complete :song.” Nothingburger. I did kind of like Steeleye Span, however. I think I got those band names mixed up, but the corresponding music is poles apart.

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  23. Deborah said on July 28, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Somehow I missed Steely Dan altogether, I’m barely familiar with the name, don’t know the music at all. Elvis Costello, I’m very familiar with, had an album I think, or maybe it was a tape, or even a CD, don’t remember.

    Took a trip up to Abiquiu this morning to check on the progress of building that started before I got back to NM. There was a torrential downpour last night, 1 1/2 inches in less than an hour. Given that 1 1/2″ is what they have gotten in a whole month in the past, it was quite an event. The arroyo you have to cross to get to our land was mostly washed out. I put the jeep in AWD and didn’t have a problem, I was worried about tipping over more than getting stuck, but I made it, both ways. I’m pretty proud of myself actually. Once We got up on the land I found out the generator we just bought doesn’t have enough power to do the job, which really pissed me off because it’s the one the builder told us to get. This is a different builder, the other guy won’t be available for a couple more weeks. We’re only using this new guy to make the structural moment frames, and he’s an asshole. He was recommended by our structural engineer. He talks like he’s the world’s leading authority on everything and obviously he’s not. Bummed. And yesterday when I first got to NM I was so happy.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 28, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Y’all might enjoy this, from within the belly, as it were . . .


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  25. Kirk said on July 28, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    There actually are parents who are having their 12- and 13-year-old kids undergo elbow ligament-replacement surgery (Tommy John surgery) because they think the kids will wind up with a stronger arm.

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  26. Sherri said on July 28, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Yeah, Kirk, it’s insane. The thinking is, they’re going to have to have it anyway, the ligament is usually replaced with a tendon which is stronger than the original ligament, so why not? Of course, the surgery is only good for about 5 years before you have to do it again, but hey, considering the year of recovery, by that time the kid already has that college scholarship or professional contract.

    Even outside of the travel teams, just in the local Little League, while nobody is mutilating their kid to get ahead, I remember talking to the parent of a boy my daughter’s age when they were around 9, and she was looking to hire a private pitching coach because her son wanted the chance to pitch on his team and the coach wouldn’t teach anybody how, he wouldn’t only let kids who already knew how to pitch on the mound. A few years after that I worked with a kid to teach him how to pitch so his coach would give him a chance. This is just for a suburban Little League, just at the level where they’ve just moved up from coach pitch and still at the level where if the pitcher walks the batter, the batter hits off the tee instead.

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  27. alex said on July 28, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    That was a delightful read, Jeff, but I have to take issue with the quoted assertion that Planned Parenthood and the Iran deal aren’t hobby horses of the wild fringe. (The Export-Import Bank is another matter.) Both have been sensationalized to precisely agitate the GOP’s most fanatical elements and neither has any merit as an issue, but they seem to be serving their purpose as a distraction for the raging rubes while McConnell et al. suck some corporatist cock. (See also the Senate’s latest feigned attempt at repealing the demon Obamacare.)

    The Republican Party exists only because you can still fool about half of the people most of the time.

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  28. alex said on July 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    It’s cocktail hour!


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  29. FDChief said on July 28, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    I came across Steely Dan back in the mid Seventies with “Can’t Buy A Thrill” and was caught on the hooky funk of Do It Again and Fire in the Hole and quickly followed with half a dozen solid tracks from “Countdown to Ecstacy”, including My Old School, Show Biz Kids, and Bodhisattiva. They had an intelligent, sly groove that was sort of the antidote to the disco and arena rock that were the signatures of the Seventies (and even worse gawdawful shit like the CB-country songs like “Convoy” that were part of the aural trainwreck that was a big part of Seventies music). I loved their stuff; it was a sort of cynical B-side to the rock anthems of the decade.

    So I was excited to see them live until I found out that they’d stopped touring back in ’74. By the time they resumed touring in 2003 I had drifted away a bit, so I wasn’t arsed enough to get tickets. Instead I checked in with a friend who’d seen them and he was a little disappointed. The tour band couldn’t replicate the tight, slick studio sound; he said it sounded like a Steely Dan cover band.

    So I’m glad to hear you like them and glad you liked their show.

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  30. David C. said on July 28, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    At least your barfer was in the row in front where you could keep track of her. I saw Genesis at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo and a woman behind me barfed. I just didn’t know it until I put on my coat afterward and my sleeve was soaked. Did I mention it was February, 10°, and windy. Good times.

    Kid’s sports are even worse than they were when I was playing. I’m sure if you gave them the choice of less competition and more fun, they would take it. In my ideal youth sports league, all adults except an umpire or referee would be kicked out and just let them play without any pressure.

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  31. coozledad said on July 28, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    The Conscience of a Conservative:

    He’s on the lam now. I hope they hunt him down with extreme prejudice.

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  32. coozledad said on July 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Quotes from Walter Palmer’s upcoming book Out of Africa Before I’m prosecuted for Poaching

    -You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions and a tame one walks up to you and you kill it.

    -Perhaps he knew, as I did not, that the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road when he scurried like a cockroach out of public view after he murdered a tame animal. A round world made it easier for him to hide his tiny cock in his gun room.

    -No domestic animal can be as still as a wild animal. That can make the wild animals easier to kill, if you’re willing to pay to get to where they are and shoot them. The civilized people have lost the aptitude of murder, and must become reacquainted with it by hanging out with dentists, podiatrists, and realtors.

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  33. Colleen said on July 28, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Steely Dan fan here. I was in elementary school when I first heard “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, and have enjoyed their sound ever since.

    The lion killer makes me sick. It’s appalling. Why would someone go to such extremes and pay so much money to kill something?

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  34. brian stouder said on July 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    I seem to recall being in driver’s training, and driving a brand new Impala (call it…1977) and hearing Steely Dan on the radio then about as often as one hears MaROOn-Five, nowadays (which is to say – you cannot go 10 minutes with the radio on, and not hear them).

    Aside from that, the book To Make Men Free is a good encapsulation of the history of the Republican party. Reading it made me think we’ll maybe see the big switcheroo here in the next few years.

    That is to say, I do begin to think that the cold-hearted monied class is due to dump the closed-minded haters, the better to have their interests more fully served. And then, the D’s will have the high-rollers, and the R’s will have to try and look human again, and draw electoral support from people who aren’t angry white males…..and the D’s will welcome those unhappy guys into their tent –

    and the beat goes on

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  35. Charlotte said on July 28, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Steely Dan meh for me, but Elvis! Saw him twice the semester I studied in Dublin — once by himself, once with the Attractions. T. Bone Walker opened for him during the solo show, and my friend Adam and I, who were both from Chicago were so perplexed when this skinny white guy came out. We’d been expecting T. Bone Burnett. Waited for an autograph afterwards and Elvis was lovely.
    Here’s where I got to spend part of last week:http://www.forestbluffmagazine.com/index.php/giving-back/73-pretty-as-a-posy
    Heartbreakingly, my Posy, who is one of the tribe of people who raised me, has Alzheimers — she still knows me, but conversations are circular at best, and sometimes just peter out. I don’t care. We sat on the bench outside the kitchen door and watched the tree guys trim trees. The garden she built is completely magnificent. I don’t think I’m much looking forward to this next stage in life, the one where all the adults I love start to go …

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  36. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 28, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    A thoughtful and precise breakdown of that traffic stop, with a last sentence you should get to. As the lawyer says, “she failed the attitude test.” Which shouldn’t be cause to continue the detention. “Put out the cigarette” was the breaking point for both of them, but she’s the one who got broken.


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  37. Sherri said on July 28, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    The cold hearted monied class will never dump the close-minded haters; they are far too useful. The only thing new about the Southern Strategy was its focus on the South. The monied class has always used the close-minded haters as their shock troops.

    I’ll confess I haven’t made it very far into Jeff(tmmo)’s link. The first problem is the author of the article, Ben Domenech, who’s both a plagarist and a shill. The second problem is in the first paragraph when he declares that the Democratic Party “exists to serve its clients.”

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  38. Brandon said on July 28, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    The civilized people have lost the aptitude of murder, and must become reacquainted with it by hanging out with dentists, podiatrists, and realtors. –coozledad

    Then who will fix our teeth and our feet? Or, if we didn’t eat sugary foods and went barefoot more often, would we need dentists and podiatrists?

    Coozledad, my question from upthread still stands. And I see you can’t stand Sheryl Crow, Alanis, et al. But Nirvana too?! (“[A]ll the ‘Ow, our singer is dead’ opium acts.”)

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  39. Deborah said on July 28, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    I don’t get how these “hunters” that think leading animals to them is fair game. It seems to me that the art of hunting is about finding animals in their natural domain. Am I wrong Basset?

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  40. basset said on July 28, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Shooting tame animals… I was on a game ranch in Texas a few years ago, one that claimed to be “fair chase” even though there was a high fence around the whole thing, and where every animal had a price tag. This much for an antelope, that much for a deer, so much for a sheep… and they had a tame giraffe on the place, one that would literally come up and eat out of your hand. One of the “guides” told me, “For $65,000 you can kill that giraffe.”

    Youth sports, well, what can you say? The purpose of sports is to win, and to teach kids to be winners, right? Start with the youngest and keep weeding ’em out; thousands of the little boogers playing kids’ soccer, not so many on the next level, and up, and up, the ones who can’t keep up get dumped, you end up with an all-star team and the ones who aren’t that good, who cares if they still want to play? They’re losers, they count for nothing. Too much at stake here to be wasted on “fun.”

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  41. Suzanne said on July 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    A number of years ago, I attended a lecture by a former NBA player who had written a book titled (I think) Just Let the Kids Play. He hadn’t played organized badketball at all until high school, & yet, made it into the pros. He talked about the ridiculousness of it all, the injuries, and the early bloomers who crowded out the late bloomers and then often went down in flames as they got older. I saw it with my own kids. Kids that weren’t really good at a sport by 5th grade, weren’t welcome on the team.

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  42. Brandon said on July 28, 2015 at 9:51 pm


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  43. brian stouder said on July 28, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Jeff – an interesting link.

    To me, here’s the first blazing red flare, that makes me reluctant to accept any subsequent official statements from the police involved in this (with emphasis added):

    ATTN: So Ms. Bland was not in the wrong by refusing to get out of her car?

    JH: The question there becomes, is the officer’s order lawful? What crime is he investigating, is there a lawful basis to detain her there by the side of the road at this point? If it is a lawful order for her to step out of the vehicle, she does have to follow it. But I haven’t seen any basis in the dashcam video for the detention to continue at this point.

    So breaking it down further, we have a woman stopped by the side of the road. Alone with a police officer who is making unlawful demands of her. You dont have to obey an unlawful order, but on the other side of it, with what amount of force can you resist an unlawful order? Because, it is important to remember that you still have the right to defend yourself against a police officer’s unlawful actions.

    Upon first seeing that dash-cam video, Pam immediately asked “Why did the cop want to take her out of the car and onto the side of the road?”

    It immediately struck her that this guy wanted her out of the view of his dash-cam.

    At minimum, he needs fired. And indeed, he should be arrested for assault.

    I wonder how many people have both “We support our local police” signs or bumper stickers, and have a rabid fear of the ‘guh-mint’ coming to take their firearms away

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  44. Crazycatlady said on July 29, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Our daughter Sarah loves some Steely Dan stuff.

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