The rebirth, and one death.

A pretty good weekend ripened into a perfect Easter — bell-clear, warm, perfect. The Facebook pictures on my feed are a glory of sunshine and pastels, little girls in pretty dresses and boys in bow ties, egg hunts and big family feeds

Me, I wore black. Still not ready to transition to my springtime color palette of white, beige and gray.

But a good weekend. It included “The Ten Commandments” (not the whole thing, of course, because there were commercials roughly ever 45 seconds), a David Bowie tribute concert, Easter, spaghetti and a few other wonderful things. Now a thunderstorm is drawing the curtain down on the whole thing. Not bad.

Here’s an OID story for you: A mediocre avant-garde artist partially disassembles a Detroit house and ships it to Rotterdam for an exhibition, promising he’d clean the whole thing up within six months.

Yeah, that was a year ago.

The story of 20194 Stoepel has become a tangled web of lofty artistic intentions, unintended consequences and broken promises, leaving neighbors living next to blight they say is worse than when the house was simply abandoned.

“I feel disrespected to the max, like we are nothing,” said Beverly Woung, who lives next door to the crumbling remains.

Which is bad enough, but when you read the guy’s self-justification, it’s enough to turn you into a Republican.

When I started on this project, my thoughts were clear. I wanted to bring a house back to Europe from America. When I arrived in Detroit in March 2015 I realised that this city – in the country I had left in 1992 out of distaste for its nationalistic, isolationist, police-dog mentality and its privatised prison system, along with its thick dictionary of rules and tax codes and its ingratiating political correctness – had, aside from the positive developments that were mostly in the downtown area, begun to look like a war zone.

This guy is such a douche it takes your breath away. And now the city is going to have to clean up his mess.

What happens when you make a great research university an arm of the state chamber of commerce. In Wisconsin, specifically.

But the big news of the weekend is the death of Jim Harrison, a great poet, novelist, gourmand, and Charlotte’s neighbor. It was only a matter of time — he was old and looked terrible — but it’s still a shock. I won’t sugarcoat his last few books, which were not his best and sometimes embarrassing to read, but when he was good, he was as good as anyone. And he wrote a lot when he was good. Almost everyone slips a little in old age. And even when he wasn’t great, he was better than almost everyone.

A big loss. Now I have to download his last book.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

37 responses to “The rebirth, and one death.”

  1. Brandon said on March 28, 2016 at 3:22 am

    “Now I have to download his last book.”

    Or buy a copy from your local bookstore.

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  2. David C. said on March 28, 2016 at 6:17 am

    More like star chamber than chamber of commerce. I don’t have much experience with chambers of commerce, except on the very local level. I have a hard time though thinking that most of them would back cutting research. If the guy with the house is enough to change anyone into a Republican, what Scotty has done to Wississippi should be enough to turn them back. To think that when I moved here almost 9 years ago I was happy to leave Michigan and its toxic Republicans behind.

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  3. beb said on March 28, 2016 at 8:08 am

    For the past week+ work has barred trips to NN.c. It’s a known “chat” site. I can see barring sites about alcohol, gambling, weapons, racism, but chat?

    And now that I can read and post here again… I’ve got nothing.

    OK, there’s this: A tabloid claims Ted Cruz has had affairs with at least five women. This is hard to believe because I can’t imagine how his wife ever willing having had sex with him, let alone strangers.

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  4. nancy said on March 28, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Beb, never underestimate the power of an ambitious young woman to take her mind to a different place — a beach, say, with Channing Tatum — for 10 minutes or so. Maybe only five.

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  5. BigHank53 said on March 28, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Intelligence and arrogance can be serious turn-ons for some people. Does anyone here think that Newt Gingrich–a man with the charisma of a grease trap–only had sex with the three wives he’s had over the last forty years?

    At least one of the identified women is loudly denying the accusation, and there’s a credible theory floating around that the whole story was dreamed up by Roger Stone, the man who so admires Nixon he’s got a tattoo of the crooked bastard.

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  6. brian stouder said on March 28, 2016 at 9:30 am

    So Uncle Google took me here –

    and I learned who Channing Tatum is.

    Anyway – looks like the G ol’ P has switched from Klown Kars to a demolition derby.

    Welcome to the tent, and remember that we’re not responsible for any injuries you may sustain, from flying pieces

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  7. brian stouder said on March 28, 2016 at 9:35 am

    …or pushy dunderheads

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  8. Jeff Borden said on March 28, 2016 at 9:59 am

    There are lots of ways to diminish state universities. Texas is doing it by insisting on allowing guns in the classrooms of its state schools. This development led the dean of the UT School of Architecture –considered one of the best in the nation– to leave for the University of Pennsylvania. Several other highly regarded professors also are leaving for less gun-worshipping states.

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  9. Bitter Scribe said on March 28, 2016 at 10:34 am

    That “artist” is an uber-douche, all right. Who complains about “police-dog mentality” and “political correctness” in the same breath?

    As for Cruz and his supposed sex life: The ex-wife of one of the Abscam congressmen remarked that pretty much any active Congressman or Senator can get all the nookie he wants, regardless of what he looks like.

    (That ex-wife, Rita Jenrette, was/is a piece of work herself. Shortly after dumping the Abscam guy, she posed nude for Playboy. She now is, by marriage, an Italian countess or some such thing.)

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  10. brian stouder said on March 28, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Well, this is somewhat sketchy –

    but I interpret this as Gov Deal applying the Pence Lesson, and doing the right thing. But the one sentence they’ve published –

    Gov. Nathan Deal reverses the religious exemptions bill protecting same-sex marriage opponents. This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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  11. brian stouder said on March 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

    …is clear as mud

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  12. Deborah said on March 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Jeff B, that dean at the UT school of architecture is indeed one of the best, my husband told me about that just the other day.

    We have no comfortable places to sit in our current place in Chicago. The furniture we shipped to NM is due to arrive there Friday or next Monday. I put a notice up in the laundry room to sell some other stuff, and the day I put the notice up a guy called and said he wanted to buy all of it, he picked it up yesterday so that’s no longer here. We took our platform bed apart yesterday because we’re having the platform refinished and that will be picked up tomorrow along with another piece of furniture that is being reupholstered. Our mattress is on the floor now. And we still have a month to go before we move, hopefully not longer. We are packing up our books one shelf at a time, so far we have 28 boxes of books and we estimate about 18 more. I’ve been taking books we don’t want anymore down to the laundry room about a half dozen at a time and leaving them for people to take. So far they’ve all been taken or someone is throwing them away. We’re having to purge a lot because the new place has much less storage. It’s very gratifying to get rid of stuff, so far I don’t regret letting anything go.

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  13. Charlotte said on March 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Here’s that other son of Michigan, and neighbor one valley over, Tom McGuane on Harrison’s death:

    ” For his family, vastly numerous friends, and admirers, the death of Jim Harrison leaves an extraordinary vacancy.”

    I dated Jim’s fishing guide for about a year, a guy who spent 25 years (on and sometimes off) as Harrison’s friend and companion, and although it didn’t work out between the two of us, we’re still good friends. Seeing my old sweetheart so broken up yesterday, well, grief is grief. It’s a big hole in the world that that difficult old man leaves behind. There is a pack of brokenhearted men in our world right now, mostly men, since Jim liked women but didn’t really talk to us like equals, but he was one of those men who had deep and affectionate male friendships.

    I had no use for most of his recent prose, but do find myself turning to his poems. He was aphoristic by nature, and I’m finding that the poems are where I’d rather hang out, and where his voice is clear (and they’re mostly devoid of the juvenile sexism that mars the later works. Old man vanity). And the food writing — a friend from my UC Davis days and I were reminiscing on the book of the Face yesterday about Jim’s visit to Davis when we were students. He and Gary Snyder together were quite something, and it was back at the dawn of food writing. Several of us took our inspiration from him to start thinking and writing seriously about food.

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  14. beb said on March 28, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Brian, the GA’s gov. decision was pretty clear. Georgia does a lot of movie business because of their best in the nation bribes. Disney/Marvel and other Hollywood giants were telling him they would go elsewhere if he signed the bill. Then the NFL vowed there would be no superbowl in GA if he signed the bill. I don’t know if the NFL or Hollywood trump the evangelicals. I suspect the NFL was the last straw.

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  15. Sue said on March 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    beb, re Ted Cruz and multiple women:
    It wasn’t until I heard all the recent examples of Donald Trump’s drunk uncle monologues – oh sorry, campaign speeches – that I realized every one of his wives, girlfriends, consorts, whatever, had to be in it for the money. Just had to. Sitting across from Mr. Neverending Monologue at a fancy restaurant, knowing what was likely coming next – you don’t do that because you’re smitten with Mr. Romance.
    I’m not saying that’s always the case with an alpha male/chorus girl relationship, but for men as unremittingly repulsive as Cruz and Trump? Everyone in those relationships is playing the game.

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  16. jcburns said on March 28, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    We don’t call them bribes, we call it (quoting Georgia Governor Nathan Deal) being a state full of warm, friendly, and loving people. Ahem.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on March 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Nathan Deal certainly made his counterpart in North Carolina, Pat McCrory, look like an imbecile –not that it’s particularly hard to accomplish that task– by acting in Georgia’s fiscal interest. Now it falls to the Tar Heel State to spend the millions to defend this indefensible law while watching businesses pass over the state for less discriminatory climes.

    Whether its conscience or cash doesn’t much matter to me if the result is a politician walking away from stupid legislation.

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  18. brian stouder said on March 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Sue – indeed.

    And not for nothing, but Nancy’s prediction – regarding our intensifying national case of DTs – was absolutely correct; his catastrophically bad interview with the WP editorial board continues to mushroom across the airwaves

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  19. brian stouder said on March 28, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Gunshots at the US Capitol….but it sounds like the good guys and gals got the bad guy.

    At least, that’s the story at the moment

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  20. adrianne said on March 28, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Our sons nearly laughed themselves sick watching “The Ten Commandments” at their grandparents this weekend. One of my favorite parts is when Nefretiri blithely shoves her servant, Memnet, over the balcony after Memnet threatens to expose the truth behind Moses’ birth. “He’s a slave AND a Jew!” Her death doesn’t seem to bug Charlton Heston too unduly.

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  21. Deborah said on March 28, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    This has nothing to do with anything discussed herewith but if you’ve ever had to be in charge of others you couldn’t do better than to heed this advice, watch it through to the end – if you love it give it away.

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  22. LAMary said on March 28, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    “…Newt Gingrich–a man with the charisma of a grease trap.” That phrase has been stuck in my head all day. It’s perfect.

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  23. Sherri said on March 28, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    So, the FBI has withdrawn its All Writs Act against Apple now, because it claims that at the last minute, a mysterious and unnamed third party came up with a method that only works to access the data on this particular iPhone. Maybe that’s all true, but what seems more likely to me is that the FBI always had other means for accessing the phone, wanted a legal precedent, then became afraid it might get the wrong legal precedent, and withdrew. They’re saying it only works on this phone because they want to preserve their ability to try again for that legal precedent; the AWA requires that there is no other alternative means. It makes no sense that the method only works for this specific phone, of course.

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  24. Sherri said on March 28, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Time for the New Yorker to write a long scary article about what will happen when the Big One hits Oklahoma?

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  25. Brandon said on March 29, 2016 at 12:21 am

    @Sherri: It’s almost certainly due to fracking.

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  26. Dexter said on March 29, 2016 at 12:41 am

    I can’t quite understand these DC security police. A Black preacher pulls out a pellet gun and the targeted officer fires at the man. This time, the report I saw said nothing about a realistic-looking pellet gun, so we may assume armed security agents are not required to decipher what sort of weapon is being aimed at them. The agent fired a non-lethal shot into the preacher, who was taken to surgery. I bring this up to state my opinion. If a mad person procures a weapon in or around a crowd, and also points this weapon at a security agent, who indeed has killer-force power in his weapon, the officer or guard or agent should be a competent enough handler of that weapon to fire off enough rounds to kill the offender.

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  27. beb said on March 29, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Sherri, according to Shashdot, an Isreali security firm offered to crack the phone and apparentlyl did.
    So this is technology the FBI did not have before but certainly has now.

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  28. basset said on March 29, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Dexter, the “preacher” part of that is in question but he does call himself a “prophet of God.” He’s apparently had some problems in the past:

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  29. Sherri said on March 29, 2016 at 11:48 am

    beb, I’m aware of the rumors about Cellebrite being the third party. They may be, though there are questions about that. The DOJ has an ongoing relationship with Cellebrite, and the FBI and DEA have used Cellebite to access other phones. In fact, the same day the DOJ filed the AWA against Apple, claiming that the only alternative they had for accessing the shooter’s phone was with Apple, they obtained a search warrant for the DEA to use Cellebrite tech to access an iPhone 6, which has stronger encryption.

    So, did they ask Cellebrite for help before they filed the AWA? If they didn’t, then either they sent the Keystone Kops version of their computer forensics guys out there (a possibility, considering other things that were screwed up), or they wanted plausible deniability about other alternatives. But the story of Cellebrite coming in as a white knight at the last minute to save the day doesn’t hold up among the security researchers I follow and trust.

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  30. FDChief said on March 29, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Here’s a “Ten Commandments” riff for you, Nance:

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  31. Little Bird said on March 29, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Pattie Duke has passed away….they seem to be dropping like flies this year.

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  32. brian stouder said on March 29, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I always liked her

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  33. Julie Robinson said on March 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    My grade school girlfriends and I were inspired by The Miracle Worker and we read all the Scholastic books about Helen Keller and learned how to finger spell. That came in handy for communicating across classrooms.

    Later I played Annie Sullivan in a community theatre production, complete with working water pump, courtesy of my dad’s ingenuity. The moment when I started pumping and water came gushing out never failed to elicit a gasp from the audience. But of course it was all in service of the even more magical moment when Helen’s memories break through and she starts uttering “wah-wah”.

    It was a hard show to do–fighting with the actress playing Helen and carrying her around in heavy costumes under a tin roof in the hot summertime, but for that one moment, it was worth all the bruises and sweat.

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  34. alex said on March 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm


    And the unforgettable theme music.

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  35. Deborah said on March 29, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    The unforgettable theme music that I wish I could forget was from the Patty Duke show where she played identical cousins…

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  36. brian stouder said on March 29, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Worst news I saw today – although this has been coming:

    The lead: FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The iconic sign atop the General Electric campus that shone for decades on downtown Fort Wayne’s southwest corner was disassembled and brought down Tuesday.

    Best news I saw today – and indeed, Pam and Chloe (and before her, Grant) could have told you this. Still, it’s very nice to see:

    Chloe loves loves loves her teacher, and Pam and I have no doubt that Ms Crisler made a huge, positive difference for Chloe. And her older brother Grant had a marvelous experience in her class, too – which is why Pam and I knew that Chloe would thrive in her class

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  37. Brandon said on March 30, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Ryan Mendoza’s project is not uninteresting.

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