Horses, not zebras.

Last week, three young men, all African immigrants, all purportedly Muslim, were found shot to death in a house on the southeast side of Fort Wayne. There’s not a lot to know right now, except that the house they were in was known as a party/hangout pad, the owners having relocated to Indianapolis and left the house open to…someone.

I don’t know anything more about it than what I’m reading in the local paper, but to me, having lived in that city for 20 years and observed dozens of homicides there, both big and spectacular and small and sad, nothing about this one sounds like a hate crime. Young men hanging in an unsupervised house, with people coming and going at all hours? Yeah, that doesn’t really sound like the setting for a latter-day lynching to me. A triple-H with three people shot in the dome suggests an assailant or assailants with accomplices, which sounds like a gang. When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.

Of course, I’m only speculating here. But I think I’m speculating fairly close to known reality. I wish I could say that for the various lefty aggregators, who are starting to pick at the story in ways that make my head hurt. ThinkProgress yelled at the governor for not saying anything about it yet. Vox scratched together some links (from TV stations — hasn’t anyone heard of newspapers? do any of these aggregators know the average age of a TV reporter in a past-100 media market? I’ll tell you: It’s about 10.) and all but pronounced it a hate crime, because Muslims were shot execution-style, so what other explanation could there be? It’s an excuse to run the few sketchy facts we know, pad it out with clips about other Islamophobic incidents, and surround it with rhetorical questions. This passage about made me hurl:

It is important to caution against assuming that whatever happened this week in Fort Wayne, whatever chain of events led to the mysterious “execution-style” murders of three young men, must necessarily be part of the rising wave of Islamophobic violence in America. Police are presumably cautioning against that conclusion for a reason, and it may well turn out that their deaths are entirely unrelated.

Still, it is difficult to ignore that three apparently Muslim young men have been murdered, for no immediately obvious reason, just as indiscriminate violence against Muslim Americans is growing out of control.

It is thus concerning that these murders have received so little attention, if only for the possibility, however remote, that they could be part of this trend of religious violence against American citizens.

Count the qualifiers and weasel words in just three paragraphs. They can’t even say for sure that the victims were Muslim. But hey — let’s scrounge a few clicks out of it.

This is what I was talking about a while back, about the importance of drilling down for original, local sources, and not relying on aggregators, particularly ideological aggregators, too much. The ThinkProgress piece quoted Vox, for Christ’s sake. So now you have aggregators of aggregation.

Think for yourselves, media consumers. In the lefty blogosphere, there’s an inside joke around the phrase, “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.” That bit of self-congratulatory bullshit was written by none other than Peggy Noonan, wondering if the raid that returned Elian Gonzalez to his Cuban father in 2000 was ordered by President Clinton, because he was being blackmailed about his sex life by Fidel Castro. This is the same thing.

And I’ve got $20 on this homicide being drug-related, if anyone wants to take the other side.

Another beautiful weekend, which will be followed by another horrible week — two fresh inches of snow expected on Tuesday. Sigh. I just paid my mortgage for March. Sometime in March, spring will arrive. There was Easter candy in the grocery today. The blueberries I bought were Chilean, but they were blueberries just the same. It’s coming.

Jolene Sherri, one of our most diligent link-hounds, found this one over the weekend, and you should read it: Jon Favreau, the POTUS’ former speechwriter, on Hillary.

And I’ve been struggling to write a piece the last few days, about political tribalism. Maybe that’s why I was so impressed and moved by Sherri’s comment late Sunday, about trying to get to the bottom of the feelings in a local planning-commission dispute. Just try talking, people! It works! Read it, though. It’s good.

And let’s all get through the week ahead, whether it’s snowing where you are or not.

Posted at 12:07 am in Current events |

43 responses to “Horses, not zebras.”

  1. Brandon said on February 29, 2016 at 12:45 am

    The blueberries I bought were Chilean, but they were blueberries just the same.

    I thought Michigan was renowned for its blueberries. But it’s not unlike the situation in Hawaii where fruit of many kinds grow, but where the supermarket sells mangos from Mexico and oranges from California.

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  2. Jolene said on February 29, 2016 at 1:47 am

    I did read that Jon Favreau piece this weekend, but it was Sherri who posted it in the previous thread.

    To sustain my link-hound reputation, though, I’ll add a couple more. The first one is a piece by Marty Baron, who is now editor of The Washington Post, but was formerly the editor of The Boston Globeand guided the investigative reporting portrayed in “Spotlight,” the winner of best picture Oscar last night. Baron reflects on the experience of working with the moviemakers and the satisfaction he and his former colleagues have taken in having contributed to a movie that reveals the importance of investigative reporting in a realistic way. I just saw the movie yesterday and thought it very impressive, so am glad that it has won an award that will bring it to the attention of more people.

    The second piece deals with one of Nancy’s (and my) favorite themes: the consequences of untreated mental illness. The article describes the troubled life of Debi Thomas, whom some might remember as an Olympic figure skater of years past, who topped off her athletic achievements by completing med school and becoming a surgeon. It’s mind-boggling to think how many talented, highly educated potential helpers she had to alienate to end up in her present circumstances. Very touching, very sad story. Would be interesting to know how it came to be done.

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  3. Brandon said on February 29, 2016 at 3:05 am

    the importance of drilling down for original, local sources.

    Definitely. And if you’re interested in the Twitter reaction, here’s a story on the hashtag #ourthreeboys.

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  4. Sherri said on February 29, 2016 at 3:36 am

    I’m glad you liked my comment about my discussion with my new Chinese friend. I’m honored!

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  5. David C. said on February 29, 2016 at 6:33 am

    That three people who happen to be Muslim can be murdered and it could be unremarkable because it was just another murder seems like a story in itself. It’s like the Kalamazoo murder spree. How quickly did that leave the headlines after it was found to be another loon with a gun. Just another day in America.

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  6. Linda said on February 29, 2016 at 7:27 am

    I like the drilling down to the local for a couple of reasons. Not only do you get to the root without an ideological agenda, but frequently you find out that the locals may not see an ideological. component as interesting or important. What we consider shocking or crazy may, in someone’s hometown, might just be old so-and-so talking the way they always do. When people wonder how those yokels in Bumf*ck aren’t outraged about this or that, it’s because it wasn’t covered that way by heir local media.

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  7. alex said on February 29, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I’m blown away to learn that this local homicide is being politicized nationally by people with an agenda. From all appearances, it’s an indiscriminate black-on-black crime in a neighborhood where you’d most expect it. That’s not to say that it’s any less horrific, but if someone were out to get Muslims it wouldn’t be there.

    If there’s an interesting story here, it’s why the children of immigrants would gravitate toward this scene as opposed to one more wholesome. Were they made to feel so unwelcome elsewhere that this seemed like a better alternative?

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  8. Connie said on February 29, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Brandon, blueberries have a season, and right now in Michigan it is the season for snow. Only snow. Maybe asparagus in another month or two.

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  9. Icarus said on February 29, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Beautiful weekend and Leap Monday here in chicago. Supposed to get some snow tomorrow and later this week but I’m sure it will neither stick around or even be enough to merit shoveling.

    Anybody on this board from St Louis? There is a slim chance we could relocate there in a year or two. Just wondering recommendations for where to put down roots.

    Put it another way: if you could live anywhere around St Louis and being near family was not a requirement, where would it be?

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  10. Deborah said on February 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Icarus, I lived in St. Louis for 23 years. I can tell you a lot about it, I preferred living in the city near Forest Park, the Central West End, Schools are a problem though, my daughter went to private schools throughout (sorry Brian). Clayton is a close in suburb that has excellent schools, but it’s pricey. You could contact Nancy, she can give you my email address and we can continue this discussion off line.

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  11. Deborah said on February 29, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Fort Wayne has gangs?? That surprises me, but I guess they’re everywhere.

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  12. brian stouder said on February 29, 2016 at 9:02 am

    I grew up in southeast Fort Wayne, and my mom lived her life out there.

    The thing I learned was that the difference between a good neighborhood and a terrible one most often amounts to one out-of-control house.

    Now even the small towns nearby are learning this, with meth-labs and mostly- dead teenagers; and our best suburbs (Sycamore Hills, just last week) may yet also learn this….

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  13. Icarus said on February 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Will do Deborah thanks. You can also can click through my name and find my contact info on my blog if Nancy doesn’t get to this before the evening. The lady has a lot on her plate these days.

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  14. alex said on February 29, 2016 at 9:55 am

    And Think Progress really needs to STFU. They make me embarrassed to be a liberal. Sure Mike Pence is going to make a statement when three African students at a local college are killed by a drunk driver, as happened recently. No, he’s not going to make a statement when three African immigrants are killed in a party house in the ghetto, especially when there is no evidence that it was racially or religiously motivated. There’s plenty for which to fault Pence without resorting to flimsy tactics like this.

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  15. Suzanne said on February 29, 2016 at 10:41 am

    It did bother me to hear that the three murdered young men were of Muslim background from some national news source, not the local Ft Wayne paper (JG subscriber) or local news. It bothered me because had it been three white “Christian” Meth-heads murdered in a neighborhood with a large Muslim population, I believe we’d have been reading a different story.
    I happened to be visiting someone who has Fox News on 24/7 the day the deranged guy shot a cop in Philly & said he was doing so to show support for ISIS. Over & over the Fox people reiterated that the perp was Muslim, even though the family immediately made a statement that the guy had numerous mental health issues & they had tried to get him help. These murders in the Fort were likely gang related, but still, their background does seems noteworthy to me.

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  16. brian stouder said on February 29, 2016 at 11:12 am

    …and by the way, we enjoyed the Academy Awards show last night, very much.

    It was odd that the new Star Wars won nothing (other than box office records!) – and it would be nice if the show could have ended an hour sooner…but Lady Gaga’s performance was a show stopper

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  17. Icarus said on February 29, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Never been a big fan of the Academy Awards show for the usual reasons. I think they should just televise the 5 awards everyone is really interested in and do the other stuff offline. They should also expand Best Movie to Best Comedy, Best Drama, Best Adventure, etc. You could also have more than one Best Supporting Actor/Actress.

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  18. brian stouder said on February 29, 2016 at 11:35 am

    One very good point that Rock made (which I suppose has been made before, but I’d not really thought about it before) was that it’s basically senseless to have a “Best Actor” and a “Best Actress”…when, indeed, all the actors are actors in any case.

    But indeed, when the whole concept is arbitrary to begin with, pondering that point is like picking nits in a buffalo herd (to paraphrase Roger Miller)

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  19. Connie said on February 29, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    I thought what Roger Miller said was “Can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd.”

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  20. brian stouder said on February 29, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Connie – absolutely!

    I was going on ‘poetic/pun license’, there

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  21. Jakash said on February 29, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    I’ve heard before that the Oscars are like the Super Bowl for people who don’t care about the Super Bowl (is it a trademark infringement to even type that, I wonder?) but I guess I’ve not been keeping up with the level of nonsense surrounding them. I happened to look at the TV listings yesterday and the Oscar-related programming on ABC started at 2:00 p.m. CT and lasted, minus the news, until about 12:30 or 1:00 a.m. We actually enjoy watching the actual show, more or less, but Lordy, 35 minutes overtime for a show that was already allotted 3 hours? Uh, that’s pretty long. I thought it was more boring than usual and, while Chris Rock is very funny, I thought that a lot of the shtick after the opening monologue was hit and miss. They certainly honed in on the diversity matter, though, which was no surprise. As for Gaga, I couldn’t care less about her myself, but the James Bond-movie song beating hers out seemed like a bit of a stretch.

    We saw 6 out of the 8 Best Picture nominees, and, though I’d have voted for “Spotlight” and was delighted that it won, I didn’t think there really was a traditional “Best Picture”-caliber movie this year. You’d have had to combine the screenplay and acting from Spotlight with the cinematography and effects from some of the others. I’ve long thought Leo is one of the best actors working — one of the few big stars who is actually capable of seeming like a different person in different roles — so good for him. But the highlight of the night was Spotlight beating “The Revenant” for BP, IMHO. Mad Max winning 6 awards boggles my mind. It was visually and technically impressive, no doubt, but I’m mystified by those who thought that it transcended its genre. A thinly-plotted, post-apocalyptic fury-fest just doesn’t do it for me, whether it’s got a female hero and swell effects, or not, I guess. So sue me! : )

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  22. Jakash said on February 29, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Oh, the other highlight for us, award-wise, was Mark Rylance winning for Supporting Actor instead of Stallone. I imagine our blog hostess was/is pleased about that!

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  23. Julie Robinson said on February 29, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Since I went to bed at 9:30, I figured I’d just catch the highlights online, but it doesn’t sound as if there are many. I’m a Rylance fan, so I’ll look that one up. But movie going has taken a back seat to so much else in a busy life right now that I only saw one of the best picture nominees, so the whole thing lacked relevance. I’ll enjoy reading tlo’s take on the dresses tonight.

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  24. MichaelG said on February 29, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Yet another sunny day in the seventies. Downside is that Feb was virtually dry. We are now behind in our rain again and staring at a fifth year of drought.

    I had heard nothing of the three kids being murdered in Ft. Wayne.

    We also don’t get the coverage of the primaries here the way other places do. There is no campaigning here. Our primary is in June and things are usually decided by then. California is too big for retail campaigning and people here are google eyed by then from the non-stop ads aired by all the local and state wide pols. Everybody knows the Dems are going to win any national contest and so they only stop by Calif to pick up change at soirees in Atherton, SF and Hollywood. The Reps know they can’t win so they only stop by for fund raisers in Orange County.

    I didn’t watch the award show last night. The only movie I saw was the Mad Max one and that was on an airplane.

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  25. nancy said on February 29, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    On the contrary, Brian, I have zero opinions about the Oscars, other than vague, general ones; I’m pleased “Spotlight” won, but not over the moon — I just liked the film and thought it deserves a wider audience, which an Oscar will bring it.

    The whole Oscar diversity issue is one I am resolutely ignoring. That’s because almost every year of my life, there’s been a big to-do about someone getting robbed and someone else getting an undeserved nomination, and I’ve simply resolved, in my remaining years, to not get caught up in this silliness. Like Julie, I pay attention to the better fashion writers when they talk about the dresses, and little else.

    Also, whatever “Mad Max” won, it deserved. Fabulous action flick.

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  26. Sherri said on February 29, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Clarence Thomas asks questions! Maybe he’s channeling Scalia.

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  27. Jolene said on February 29, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Most, if not all, of the Oscar-nominated movies are streaming on Amazon, Netflix, or some other service now, so, if you’re inclined to catch up, there’s a low-cost, low-effort way to do it.

    I watched both Spotlight and Bridge of Spies on Amazon this weekend and thought both were very good. Spotlight deserved it’s award, I thought, and Rylance and Hanks were both excellent in Bridge of Spies. Was interesting to learn a bit (from the movie followed by a bit of follow-up googling) about the prisoner exchange that led to the return of American pilot Gary Francis Powers, which many of us heard about as kids.

    I thought the awards show was the usual mix. Some things worked; others not so much. Julie, you won’t be surprised to learn that Rylance was both gracious and charming in his acceptance speech. I had seen him in a quick interview as he was waiting in line to enter some other award show. The reporter asked him a question that invited a cynical response about the hardship of having to go to such events. He said something along the lines of, “Well, these events stir up interest and make more people want to go to the movies. So, that’s to the good, isn’t it?” Was nice to hear someone who seemed simply and genuinely grateful for his lucky life.

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  28. Brandon said on February 29, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    “Oh, the other highlight for us, award-wise, was Mark Rylance winning for Supporting Actor instead of Stallone. I imagine our blog hostess was/is pleased about that!”

    Sylvester Stallone should have won back in 1977. The Academy had a chance to make it right but didn’t. Chris Rock did fine. And the awards more or less went to the people who deserved them.

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  29. Jakash said on February 29, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Well, this is pretty embarrassing. I realize now that my “NN being pleased about Mark Rylance” comment was completely misguided and must have seemed off-the-wall, indeed. Somehow I had gotten it into my head that Rylance was associated with the Stratford Festival in Canada that NN has referred to before and even that she’d mentioned him at some point in that regard. Uh, he’s not and she obviously didn’t. Mea Culpa! D’oh! (Though he WAS swell in “Bridge of Spies,” regardless, and in “Wolf Hall,” too…)

    I suppose Nancy HAS mentioned Mad Max before, as she’s evidently among its many fans, another memory failure on my part. All in all, methinks I’d better go back to lurking for a while. 🙁

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  30. St Bitch said on February 29, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Rylance’s win was my Oscar highlight. ‘Diversity’ wore a bit thin.

    After reading the the Think Pieces in the middle of the night, I was planning on revisiting Taibbi and choosing another favorite quote to copy and paste here, just for the pleasure of taking another bite…every paragraph was a tasty truffle.

    I also wanted to thank Sherri for the Favreau article on Hillary, which I Shared on FB.

    Instead, I watched Spotlight and Room, when not wrangling Mom. Things are a little dicey right now, as I’m upping her anti-depressant dosage by another 12 1/2 mg. It doesn’t seem like much, but it has intense impact. When her body has worked up a tolerance so that she starts having hallucinations and manic-depressive swings beyond the everyday confusion; increasing her meds means there’ll be about 2 weeks of volatile adjustment. This is the 6th time I’ve done this. Last time she had a psychotic episode, although I didn’t know what was going on. Only a scary trip to the ER brought realization that the uncontrollable shivering and complete physical collapse wasn’t pneumonia or some such. This time I’m keeping a close eye, and am hopefully prepared like a good Girl Scout.

    There’s an excellent Trump article in nytimes from David Brooks called ‘The Governing Cancer of Our Time’. It was shared on FB, and even though I’ve refreshed my knowledge on how to embed links, I can’t find the URL for it, at least not off the bat. (Need to look up again on how to bold and/or italicize.)

    Does anyone remember the movie ‘A Face in the Crowd’ from 1958? I think about it a lot these days in relation to Trump. It’s an old favorite of mine, partly because of Patricia Neal, mostly for Andy Griffith’s brilliant dark performance.

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  31. Julie Robinson said on February 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Rylance wins a Tony seemingly every time he appears on Broadway, and for those acceptance speeches he composes intricate rhymes. Last night’s speech was pretty boring by comparison.

    St. Bitch, you have my sympathies. The emotional aspect of caregiving is very challenging for me. And I haven’t had to deal with psychosis.

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  32. garmoore2 said on February 29, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    St B:

    Here’s the link to the David Brooks article:

    I remember “A Face in the Crowd.” Probably Andy Griffith’s best out-of-character work. A great piece on using media to con the public. Almost 60 years later, it still holds up. The difference between that character and Trump is that Trump has been out there, superficiality, ego, stupidity and everything else that goes with the name, for nearly 40 years. Andy Griffith’s character was a cipher; Trump is a cipher only to those who don’t pay any attention.

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  33. Jolene said on February 29, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    It’s amazing that award winners don’t figure out how to make really good acceptance speeches. I mean, they are performers who spend their lives saying lines. You’d think they’d be better prepared for the occasion.

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  34. Dexter said on February 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Oh hell yes Fort Wayne has gangs. I remember when I first had a computer I tried to see just how Fort Wayne rated , crime-wise, nationally. I remember a place called Fort Smith, Arkansas was worst by crimes by population factors, but Fort Wayne really wasn’t high on any bad-list at all. Outside of old murder capitals like Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington, and Newark, places like Modesto, California were bad-leaders. Actually, I heard a speaker at a convention (on TV) say child abuse was so bad in Modesto that all the social workers just called it “Molesto”.

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  35. nancy said on February 29, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Not only that, but the Fort was also a franchise opportunity for the Detroit gangs during the worst of the crack years — the homicide rate spiked to 3x normal as a few of them battled for turf. Elmore Leonard explains the arrangement in “Tishomingo Blues,” I believe.

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  36. Deborah said on February 29, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    I’ve only been through Ft. Wayne once, a few years back. We drove through on our way from Indianapolis to Sturgis, MI where my Mother in Law dropped off her brother’s ashes to be buried near her parents graves. I don’t remember anything about FW at all. My MiL flew up from FLorida where she was living at the time and we drove down from Chicago to meet her in Indianapolis for some reason?

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  37. MichaelG said on February 29, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Josh Marshall has a very good take on the Republican Party and their difficulty in campaigning against Trump:

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  38. Jolene said on February 29, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Very good article, indeed, MichaelG. Thanks for posting.

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  39. Linda said on February 29, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Sherri @26: I am a crazy cat lady, and note that in a cat household, when a really load, vocal cat dies, one of the quieter ones will speak up more. Hmmmm

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  40. St Bitch said on February 29, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Julie @31 – My sympathies back at you and the other caretakers commenting here. I have no doubt your myriad challenges are every bit as demanding as mine.

    Garmoore2 @32 – thanks for the link.

    Although Griffith’s Lonesome Rhodes was loosely based on Will Rogers, only Trump comes close to matching such boundless contempt for his followers.

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  41. Dexter said on March 1, 2016 at 1:03 am

    I worked in Auburn, first town north of Fort Wayne, and I got to the big city frequently for movies and mall shopping and bar-hoppin’ during the great crack explosion.
    I don’t recall a lot of media coverage about the Detroit connection, but I worked with many Black people from FW and my Black friends sometimes filled me in on the situation. My long-time buddy Earl lived off of Calhoun Street. We both worked day shift and Earl began falling asleep at work…we both ran powered punch presses and I began to worry he may have had narcolepsy and would just suddenly fall into one of the monstrous presses, asleep. He sat with me and told me what was up: it was the gunfire…ceaseless shooting close by. Not constant, but irregular, as he finally might drift asleep it started up once more. Sometimes a night would pass by silently. Earl was on pins and needles those nights, waiting for it to resume. He clearly was having PTSD. It was driving him towards institutionalization or hospitalization. He realized he had to sell and scramble. His wife had a good-paying job so they had the finances in order, and they rented out their home and bought a house in a quieter neighborhood. Good move for Earl. Earl made one classic boo-boo though: he bought a brand new Chrysler Corporation K-Car, a Dodge Aries. Chrysler was in such dire straits then they were giving back huge rebates just for signing on the dotted line..still, that car was one big POS.
    One thing I remember about the crack invasion from Michigan was that for the first time kids and adults wearing Michigan Wolverine sports gear became prevalent. Before all that, you’d never see M gear on anybody except on me. When the GM gypsies (workers who had been bouncing around all over the country trying to build GM pension credits) arrived to man the new truck plant, diversity came to the Fort.

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  42. alex said on March 1, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Ah, memories of the K-car, the platform from which sprung the first minivan and saved Chrysler from the jaws of death, where the company has been more than a few times in its history. In all fairness, GM and Ford were also producing their shittiest cars of all time during the ’80s. Your friend Earl would have been equally screwed if he’d purchased a Ford Fairmont or a Chevy Citation. In fact, you’re more likely to see an Aries K on the road today than either of those.

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  43. Connie said on March 1, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Worst car I ever owned: 1989 Pontiac 6000. Fits with what Alex says.

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