A full dance card.

A long, hot, busy, tiring weekend, and I’ve got an action-packed couple of days ahead. So if y’all don’t mind, this will be a bit phoned-in.

Fortunately, I took lots of pictures.

First, a bit of old business: I see a few of you were disappointed that we sip Woodford Reserve in any form other than neat or over a single ice cube. I hear you. I felt the same way when a bartender at a downtown Fort Wayne hotel told me that DeBarge, the ’80s pop band, ordered a $500-a-bottle cognac for their after-show drinks, which they mixed with Coca-Cola. But we’re long on good sippin’ whiskey right now, including this adorable find, which we stocked up on in the Iceland duty-free, bringing back bottles for our dog sitters, and one for ourselves. This stuff, Nikka, from Japan:


That’s a 500ml bottle, not the usual 750, which I attribute to Japan being a country with limited storage space, presumably including liquor cabinets. But I love the shape of the bottle, the understated label, and the contents? Quite nice.

On to the weekend, which began with a rare night sail. The worst of the heat was blowing out and the breeze was just about perfect. Rain threatened but never really developed, and we had a long, lovely sunset to enjoy:


That spire is the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. We headed down to the mouth of the river, where we could see the skyline:


Of course, the other thing you should do when the sun is dropping is occasionally look in the other direction, because photographers don’t call it the golden hour for nothing:


Nice illustration of the breeze there, too. And here we have Heckle, Jeckle and their full extended family. These are cormorants, the shitting, roosting, fish-eating bane of the Great Lakes at the moment:


We tacked around the bird party and headed back, catching a nice moonset in the bargain:


OK, that one was a little Instagrammed. Sue me.

The next day I had a chance to put on my old boots and dig out my chaps, because I had volunteered to help with a Detroit Neighborhoods Day activity, introducing city kids to horses. It was…an interesting day, for a lot of reasons. It was also sweaty, busy work, fitting kids with helmets, getting them onto a couple of willing ponies and leading them around a couple of big circles before pulling them off and putting the next one on. Just when I was thinking I could really use a break, these guys showed up:


I didn’t know such a group existed. They brought horses, too — all in western tack. I heard one call another a buffalo soldier, so you get where they’re coming from, i.e., the great tradition of African-American cavalrymen on the Great Plains. As this photo shows, not every rider came dressed for the occasion, but Charles didn’t care. He was an enthusiastic teacher, almost an evangelist for sitting up straight, legs down and putting fear where it belongs, under a pile of manure somewhere. It didn’t quite work with this girl, but she held on gamely for her trip:


It was four hours under a sun that grew hotter by the hour. At the end, I went out for a too-large Mexican lunch and a couple of margaritas, and woke up Sunday with a face so swollen I felt like Jerry Lewis in his prednisone period.

And Sunday was a trip to Defiance for a family reunion. It went the way most family reunions in city parks go. Alan’s sister brought some pictures of previous reunions, including this one of Alan, c. 1979:


His Bob Seger period, right there.

Which brings us to right now, Sunday night. Tomorrow is Trump (I hope), Tuesday is a hard deadline, so you may have to look at these pix for a while. In the meantime, you might read this infuriating story by Bill McKibben, about the experience of being tracked by a conservative PAC trying to discredit his work around climate change.

And while I don’t want to load you up with NYT links — I know they’re limited for non-subscribers — this was an interesting essay on a subject of interest to maybe 100 people in the world, i.e., what’s happening to the restaurant scene in northern California as an unprecedented wave of money sweeps over it. I noticed it mainly for the arresting turns of phrase, like this:

I went there twice for work and concentrated both times on the food alone. I was knocked out, especially by a creation called Tidal Pool, which involved a clear littoral broth of seaweed dashi pooling around sea-urchin tongues, pickled kelp and foie gras. I know that I will set off the gag reflex in certain quarters when I confess that, in my view, Mr. Kinch took the sensory pleasure of falling off a surfboard into cold Northern California water and transformed it into the world’s most delicious bowl of Japanese-French seafood soup. Mr. Kinch, I concluded, was the savior sent to bring California cuisine into the 21st century.

How do you remove a sea urchin’s tongue? How is this different from eating ortolans? You tell me.

And when I get an empty 30 minutes, I’m going to read this, Jeb Lund’s account of the GOP convention, because I love Jeb Lund’s stuff.

Once more into the breach.

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

29 responses to “A full dance card.”

  1. Alan Stamm said on August 8, 2016 at 6:58 am

    I beg to differ about “a bit phoned-in,” modest madame.

    A wide-ranging post with nine images (that moonset!) and this sentence is crafted, not careless:

    The worst of the heat was blowing out and the breeze was just about perfect.

    Far more artful than a certain local columnist, not to compliment backhandedly.

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  2. Suzanne said on August 8, 2016 at 7:10 am

    I am spectacularly uninterested in the Olympics this year. I watched a bit of the opening ceremonies, enough to see Team USA’s ugly striped shirt/blazer combo and the fantastic oiled Tongo flag carrier. Then, went to bed. I watched some gymnastics last night, but after the Indy Star’s recent expose, I kept wondering what dark secrets were behind those smiles & flips.
    So, I decided to read but discovered my library borrowed e-book had expired.
    Anyway, hope it’s a good week to come!

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  3. kathy t said on August 8, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Without actually looking it up, because I’m retired and nobody can make me do extra work for the next few months, I’m guessing that sea urchins dion’t have tongues but some sort of hydraulic siphon digestive system. And that “tongues” refers to the tonguelike appearance of the edible sea urchin segments, or whatever they’re called. And ortolan ewww but that could probably be said of all meat.

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  4. basset said on August 8, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Dunno about sea urchin parts but larks’ tongues in aspic has been a favorite for quite a few years.

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  5. BigHank53 said on August 8, 2016 at 8:32 am

    They’re not eating the actual tongues of sea urchins. They’re eating sea urchin gonads, which are tongue-shaped. It’s the only edible part of a sea urchin.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on August 8, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Oh well, then. That’s much better. Erp.

    Members of my recently discovered ancestral family could have been Buffalo Soldiers. They were trying to farm in Nebraska, which is why they eventually ended up in Illinois, but I’m thinking a paycheck and regular meals would have been appealing. I’ll have to ask the family historians.

    There was a family reunion this weekend in Nebraska but I wasn’t able to go. The pictures are of a group of every possible shade, all smiling and embracing. We are so happy to have found each other, and I think we have lessons to teach our country.

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  7. Danny said on August 8, 2016 at 9:07 am

    That is a great pic of Alan. I bet he wished his mouth was closed though. I have a pic like that of myself too and always think it has a certain, je ne sais crois, “empty thought bubble?”

    I can’t get into the Olympics this year either. My wife had this novel idea that we watch the opening ceremonies from the flight deck of the USS Midway museum which is docked in the downtown port of San Diego’s waterfront. It was free and hosted by NBC’s local affiliate, complete with live Samba dancer exhibition, which was more like pole dancing. Everyone brought beach chairs and blankets and settled in to watch the ceremonies on the big screens they had set up, but after an hour of dealing with the incessant commercials and not-so-slick NBC packaging (e.g. “Some of our American audience may think this would be a nice place to visit or to live, but we have a story coming up that will give you pause”) and the group of spectators in front of us with limited spatial awareness who kept standing and blocking our view, we called it a night and commented to each other that we didn’t feel like watching any more of the games this year. C’est la vie.

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  8. Deborah said on August 8, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Lovely photos. That McKibbon piece made me furious. Funny, I was just reading about Buffalo Soldiers recently. I love it when things converge like that.

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  9. Judybusy said on August 8, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Agree with Alan: if this is phoned-in, keep at it! Also, I think that bright spot to the left of the moon is Jupiter.

    I am not interested in the Olympics because NBC has far too many commercials, and the negative stories about Rio would drive me nuts. I’ve been there three times, a friend goes once or twice a year. He has been mugged, but it’s still an amazing, vibrant city. I will probably never make it back because my wife didn’t care for it and doesn’t speak Portuguese. I have a soft spot for the country as we had a foreign exchange sutdent from there and I got to return with her for two months at the age of 17. Totally set a trajectory for my life.

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  10. Pam said on August 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

    To add to the Buffalo Soldiers story, our family had an uncle on our father’s mother’s side (the Merritt’s) who was a commander of a group, platoon, company (whatever, I’m not familiar with military terms) of buffalo soldiers. I think it was about the time of the Civil War or after. Dad knew about it, but you don’t always listen to your father until it’s too late. This great great uncle was supposed to have been mentioned in an article in the American Heritage which Dad subscribed to. They came in hardback then and they were all over the place, but I never looked it up.

    And today, I found this: https://gazette665.com/2016/03/25/considering-the-role-of-the-buffalo-soldiers-guest-author/

    This story is very close to what Dad told me years ago about this great uncle on his mother’s side. Did you know that if Nancy had been a boy, she was to be named David Merritt Nall?

    I guess that’s why I really like the Bob Marley song.

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  11. brian stouder said on August 8, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Good stuff, indeed!

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  12. Jeff Borden said on August 8, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Count me in as a non-Olympics viewer. Didn’t even see the opening ceremonies. I’m locked into the baseball season as the Chicago Cubs seem to have rediscovered their swagger since the All-Star break and are playing like they did in April and May. My second-favorite team, Cleveland, seems to be doing its best to lose the AL Central, dashing my hopes the Indians might do as well as the Cavs.

    Part of my antipathy to the Olympics is directly related to the filthy dirty political and financial shenanigans of the IOC. It’s a close race as to which athletic organization is the slimiest: the IOC, FIFA or the NCAA. Thank dog Chicago lost its bid to host these games. Given all the other problems in the city, spending tens of billions on this dog-and-pony show might’ve been the last straw.

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  13. basset said on August 8, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Jeff, Formula 1’s gotta be right up there too.

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  14. Deborah said on August 8, 2016 at 11:07 am

    The Jeb Lund piece is well worth the time.

    Our power returned last night after a couple of hours, no idea what happened except probably stormy weather as is typical of the monsoon season. The rumors about all state outage were exaggerated (social media).

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  15. brian stouder said on August 8, 2016 at 11:08 am

    What Basset said!

    If Bernie ain’t the most successful (and thoroughly soul-less) pirate on the face of the Earth, it sure isn’t for the lack of trying!

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  16. Peter said on August 8, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I fully agree with Jeff at #12. I thank God Chicago didn’t get picked.

    The one memory I’ll cherish from that whole pointless exercise was Richard Daley realizing that there were people who were more corrupt and conniving than the ones in Chicago. I mean, after all, what were the odds…

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  17. Deborah said on August 8, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Yes, the Chicago’s bid for the Olympics was ridiculous. But all of the architecture firms were salivating over the possibility of designing stadiums and housing which would probably stand empty for decades after like the ones in China are now.

    Going to see the movie “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”, it looks hilarious from the trailer. After that we’re going to have green chile chicken stew for dinner which Little Bird is getting ready in the slow cooker right now. We bought fresh roasted green chiles at the farmers market on Saturday. It doesn’t get much better than that in New Mexico.

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  18. MichaelG said on August 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

    When I was in the Army in Vietnam in ’66, ’67 and ’68, there were three varieties of Japanese “bourbon” available. Nika, White Bear and Suntory. They were awful. Real paint remover. Nika bought another “K” and went upscale as you noted and so did Suntory which now sells premium booze. Don’t know anything about White Bear.

    NBC really does its best to ruin the Olympic viewing experience. We’ll see how Spanish TV and the BBC do. I’m leaving tomorrow. I hope.

    Delta has some big computer fuck up going. I checked on my flights for tomorrow, they’re still listed as being on time and I haven’t received any notification. All I can do is trot down to the airport and see how it goes.

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  19. Deborah said on August 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Good Luck with Delta, MichaelG, and have a wonderful time. Looking forward to your reports if you have the time and inclination.

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  20. Charlotte said on August 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    We’re finding the key to watching the Olympics is to turn the sound off and follow on Twitter — without the overbearing narration it’s pretty good — especially the swimming — I like the World Record line they superimpose over the pool. You didn’t need sound to see that Katie Ledecky broke her own record by 2 body lengths. And if you’re not following Leslie Jones, the Ghostbusters/SNL star on Twitter following the Olympics, you’re missing a treat. She’s AMAZED by it all! She just LOVES it. She’s hilarious all by herself in her apartment in California watching the Olympics. There’s Olympic Joy out there — NBC is just making it very difficult to find.

    I’m about to see if I can pull up the 3-Day events online —

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  21. Dorothy said on August 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    I’m multi-tasking all the time when the t.v. is on so I see very little, but I can hear everything so that plan wouldn’t work so well for me, Charlotte. I spent most of the day sewing yesterday and there’s no cable in my sewing room, so I was listening to Pandora instead. Then I switched to Netflix and watched something there via my iPad. The ChromeCast app wouldn’t work so I couldn’t get it onto the t.v. Oh well, I was mostly listening anyway. I’m finishing a quilt that I’m going to enter into a national quilt show soon. The deadline for entries is November 1 so I have plenty of time to do the online submission. The show is in Savannah next February – I’ve already booked a trip to include a stop at that show. If my quilt gets accepted I’m just going to be so excited. I’ve never had one in a national show before. My Olympics participation is mostly through Twitter and the occasional Facebook post I see from a friend. After dinner I did get to see some synchronized diving, and an Italian athlete who has been to each summer Olympics since 2000. Yesterday she (and her partner) finally medaled – they got silver. She was so excited! That made me glad.

    My big excitement this weekend was bumping into a former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher at a rest stop along Interstate 79. I recognized Manny Sanguillen immediately! He was gracious when I asked for a selfie with him after we both were done in the rest room. I didn’t know how old he is so I looked him up – he’s 74. He was very close to Roberto Clemente, who perished in a plane crash on 12/31/72. I remember reading that Manny kept up a vigil at the shore for several days hoping that Roberto’s body would wash up. It never did.

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  22. Sue said on August 8, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Sigh. A tiring weekend for a different reason. It gets harder and harder to make required family visits when I get to hear family news like the sad information that a relative might lose her lunchroom job to outsourcing. Harder still when I find out that the job loss is Michelle Obama’s fault. Something about forcing kids to eat kale. Blank look when I asked what the food service company promises to do differently with the same set of requirements. I didn’t bother to mention that she probably wouldn’t lose her job, more likely they would be happy to offer her the same job at lower pay and without benefits.
    Many similar points of discussion. I hate going more each time.

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  23. adrianne said on August 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    If you follow the Proprietress on Twitter…check out her coverage of The Donald’s appearance at the Detroit Economic Club today. A total of 10 hecklers were rushed out, including a man yelling, “Tiny hands! Tiny hands!” It’s pretty good. Another one of my fave Tweeters, Josh Marshall, described it thusly: “So Trump’s theme is Detroit is post-apocalyptic hellhole. Because of Hillary. By the way, I love being here with you in Detroit.”

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  24. brian stouder said on August 8, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    …and just for the record – government regulation specifies what levels of emissions are acceptable from car and truck engines.

    In the diesel market, this created an entire new industry for the formulation/shipping/storing/dispensing of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (aka DEF)…which is deionized water and urea.

    And this has been very good for the small company I work for, thanks to the vision and the efforts of the folks who own the place.

    Just by way of saying – pollution control is a win/win

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  25. brian stouder said on August 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm


    an excerpt: No one was injured when Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings discharged the weapon inside the Texas Roadhouse in Anderson about 11 p.m. Saturday. Cummings told The Indianapolis Star he believes the safety on the 9mm gun disengaged when he placed the weapon inside a pocket of his shorts. The gun discharged as Cummings walked out the door.

    and his conclusion: Cummings said he plans to have the gun examined to ensure there are no mechanical problems.

    I think he needs to have his head examined, and see how many screws are loose, there.

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  26. Deborah said on August 8, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Let me get this off my chest, according to my research when I designed the Labrot and Graham Distillery museum exhibits (Woodford Reserve), bourbon is a whiskey but all whiskey is not bourbon. Bourbon has a particular combo of ingredients and a proscribed aging length. It is aged in charred barrels which adds to its distinctive flavor. For instance Jack Daniels is a whiskey and Woodford Reserve is a bourbon, big difference. Bourbon is much smoother. Ok, it was a long time ago, almost 20 years since I worked on the museum so I’ve forgotten a lot.

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  27. brian stouder said on August 9, 2016 at 8:18 am

    All I know about whiskey is that I’d rather sip drano than that stuff.

    Thirty years ago (give or take) I was offered a sip of something – might have been Jack Daniels, or whatever – and the stuff burned all the way down.

    Aside from that – those were some tremendous photos from the lake excursion

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  28. TheGardenFairy said on August 9, 2016 at 9:22 am

    @Brian 27 Let someone stand you a pour of Woodford Reserve someday. A different experience from Jack. Should you try Jack again, that whole swirling & sniffing thing folks do helps blow off the harsh, as does an ice cube.

    (For a chuckle, see Mark Thornburg’s review of Whisky Chilling Rocks. Currently 2nd most-recommended review here — https://www.amazon.com/Sipping-Stones-Whisky-Chilling-Soapstone/dp/B005D78RPU/ref=cm_rdp_product)

    Deborah — Nice job on the L&G museum. Field-tripping there in early October with a bunch of arborists — ’cause, you know, we have to conduct periodic quality control checks on the staves made of white oak from SE Ohio.

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  29. Kristen said on August 14, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    My relative in Maine says the locals call cormorants “shitpokes”.

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