And now, the shadow.

A big local-news talker dropped Friday morning, and bear with me, because I’m going to try to make my comments about it universal. So here goes, the first five grafs:

Former Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell had a Hall of Fame career and a marriage to match.

Friends and strangers alike marveled at the love he and his wife, Lulu, shared for almost 70 years.

But their fairy-tale family included a large dose of heartache, most of it unseen and much of it unseemly.

Oakland County court records show that for years, the couple’s four children have been beset by infighting and impatience for their inheritance from parents often unable to say no.

The children point fingers at family lawyers. The lawyers point back with allegations of unpaid bills, missing money and alleged mistreatment of Lulu, who battled dementia for years before dying March 1 at age 99. She was more or less broke.

It’s hard to overstate what a beloved figure Harwell was in Detroit. Mitch Albom, no stranger to lavish print-smooching, can hardly restrain himself when he writes about him. Of course, like another dead old man, Harwell has been good for Mitch’s bottom line — he wrote a play, “Ernie,” that runs every year through baseball season at a theater across the street from the ballpark. I saw it a few years back; it’s not terrible, but Mitch only paints in primary colors, and only pretty-pretty ones. The play works for what it is, a nostalgia-wallow that makes everyone cry, then time for a beer before the first pitch. (Almost everyone cries, that is; this was me.)

To give you a taste of how he handles all things Harwell: His column upon Lulu’s death earlier this month may out-Mitch even Mitch.

And like I said, Harwell was beloved.

He had a Georgia drawl and an easy patter, plus a bottomless well of folksy expressions he could summon at the crack of a bat. (No, I’m not going to look them up for you; that’s what the internet is for.) Plus he did seem, from all accounts, to be genuine and modest and charming. He was one of those personalities made for a time when baseball was coming out of the transistor radio on the back steps as you washed the car.

But even though he is routinely called a saint, no mortal actually is a saint. Everyone has flaws. Everyone. What’s more, our flaws are what make us interesting — the tension between light and dark, how we reconcile the two. If I were teaching feature writing, I’d do a whole unit on how to balance the good stuff with the less-good stuff, how to ask about it, that sort of thing. How to add, with words, what the Italians call chiaroscuro, the shadows that give the light dimension.

Conversely, this is also something to remember when considering straight-news stories, especially those about people who have suffered a misfortune: There are no perfect victims, either. When you find yourself detaching from the plight of a person screwed over by a corrupt system because she worked as a stripper or smoked weed or whatever, you’re forgetting what the greater sin is.

The Harwell marriage, so recently aired in Lulu’s obituary, was close and loving and long-lived. Assuming this story is correct, it also gave the world what seem to be four terrible children, or at least three. While Ernie left a tidy estate, it was hardly substantial, and he devoutly wanted his widow cared for after his death. That was expensive, and ate the money one bite at a time. But his children? One nickel-and-dimed his elderly mom to cover his own financial failings. One billed her conservator for “caregiving,” 24 hours a day, whenever he traveled to Michigan to visit her. Another was emotionally abusive. The fourth seems a cut above the rest, but who knows.

From the tweeting around this, I get the feeling this was an open secret among sports journalists. And yet, this appears to be the first reporting on it. That’s…not good. But also not surprising.

The weekend is nearly upon us, but I still have some work to do, so best get to it.

So much to blog about, but who has the time? Manafort, Fox News, all of it. Let’s stick with this, headlined, “Melania chooses spaghetti.” In which we learn a Fox host referred to FLOTUS as “Lady M” throughout their interview, a very strange thing.

Supposed to rise well above freezing Saturday. Here’s hoping. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 2:01 pm in Detroit life, Media |
 

78 responses to “And now, the shadow.”

  1. Suzanne said on March 8, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    I never heard of Harwell but you bring up an interesting point about a person’s public persona and personal life. I watched Netflix’s American Crime Story about the murder of Gianni Versace and it highlighted the tension between what you are and what you seem and how that can lead to tragedy. Andrew Cunanan’s father was not what he seemed, neither was Lee Miglin (or so the series claimed), and neither was Cunanan, really. Lives built on fantasy that met reality in an awful way.

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  2. David C. said on March 8, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    That seems to be a common problem of children of the not quite wealthy enough. They start counting the money when the parents get to their seventies and adjust their lifestyles in anticipation. Then their parents live to be in their nineties and the money goes to their care, as it should. If the parents have tens of millions, it probably works out. If they have a paltry few million, maybe not so much. It also sounds like a lack of estate planning. It sounded like the Harwell’s had a lawyer who was trusted, but not terribly good at his job. It must be awful to seem to live a pretty decent life and then it ends up to be a shit show behind the scenes.

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  3. FDChief said on March 8, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    I have a sort of bizarre…I’m not sure what it is. It’s not quite “respect”. It’s a sort of rueful, wary, a-little-nervous sort-of-admiration for Melania.

    She very clearly knows that she’s made a “deal” with our orange king, and, like any smart royal mistress, knows that so long she holds her end of the bargain he will give her gifts and be less likely to cut her head off.

    But she seems to either have enough pride (or, possibly, simply not enough emotional range) that she can’t pretend that their relationship is anything more. She gives him sex and an heir, he gives her wealth. And that’s it; she’s hard put to even pretend there’s anything more. Remember in the early months of Trump’s reign, when she was very visibly avoiding physical contact with him in public? To the point where it was obvious that he was trying and she was loathing? (His handlers clearly reminded her where her clothing allowance was coming from, since she’s since stopped being upfront about it…)

    So the idea that Little Lady M is an aproned housewife lovingly cooking din-din for Daddy Donnie and the sprog? C’mon. Only a fool, or a Republican (but I repeat myself) could even force themselves to believe that. It’s a tribute to how goddamn moronic these FOXmonites are that their Pravda would even try to throw this at them.

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  4. David C. said on March 8, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    The only time I’ve seen even the tiniest hint of joy in Melania was when she sat next to Obama at Babs Bush’s funeral. Just once in the three or four years I’ve been aware of her existence. I don’t know how anyone could love money or hate themselves that much.

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  5. Suzanne said on March 8, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    My mother tells me all the time how classy Melania is and beautiful (she’s not well acquainted with the notion of plastic surgery) but she does worry that she and the president seem to spend so little time together. I have tried to explain the notion of what FDChief spells out above while she stares at me blankly, but this is the naïveté of many Trump voters I have run across. They really don’t get the kind of circles he runs in because he said he loves Jesus.
    Maybe the latest news about the founder of the “Spa” where the Patriots guy was arrested being very very cozy with the GOP will shake them up a bit:
    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article227186429.html
    Nah. Probably not.

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  6. Dorothy said on March 8, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Have you shown your mother, Suzanne, the old picture of Melania atop a piano with Trump sitting on the bench? Not sure how old your mother is or how her health is lately, but it could give her a bit of a shock if you hold it in front of her. Make sure there’s a chair nearby to allow her to slump if need be. I’m no expert but I’m thinking this is the opposite of classy:

    https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/11/11/melania-online-moos-pkg-erin.cnn

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  7. Sherri said on March 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Harwell is beloved in baseball, but one thing to remember about baseball announcers and beat reporters is that they spend a lot of time away from home. Spring training plus 81 road games plus whatever other speaking engagements can make for a pretty disengaged dad in the best of circumstances. I have a friend whose husband was a baseball beat reporter when their kids were young, and it was challenging.

    They say the Golden Age of science fiction is 12, and a generation of Boomer sportswriters grew up listening to the likes of Harwell and worshipped them accordingly. Not to diminish Harwell, but as a sports fan who was a little bit out of the club because I was a woman, I always had a little less worshipful view of them, because I could never grow up to be them.

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  8. Jolene said on March 8, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    There are photos of Melania available that would be even more disturbing to Suzanne’s mother than the one you posted, Dorothy. I’m thinking her definition of classy might not include Melania, nude, in bed with another woman.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=melania%20nude&tbm=isch

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  9. Connie said on March 8, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Continued from previous comments: My Maytag washer is 32 years old. My Maytag dryer is 5.

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  10. Jolene said on March 8, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    You Hoosiers will soon have an opportunity to hear James and Deborah Fallows tell stories about community revitalization based on their travels, in their own small plane, to many small and mid-sized American cities.

    I’m a big admirer of the Fallowses and the work they’ve done to produce Our Towns, the book that is the product of their travels. They’re doing all sorts of follow-on work–making films and such–that they’ll likely talk about in this appearance. They’ll be in Indianapolis on 3/19 and Ft. Wayne on 3/20.

    Info re their appearance in FW: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inconversation-with-james-and-deborah-fallows-featuring-ashley-c-ford-fort-wayne-registration-56042746363

    Link to their book: https://www.amazon.com/Our-Towns-000-Mile-Journey-America/dp/1101871849

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  11. Jeff Borden said on March 8, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    For what it’s worth, the Melania depicted in Bob Woodward’s “Fear” is rarely seen. Staffers proclaim there is genuine affection between her and the Orange King. I don’t really care one way or the other. To marry a man so ugly in so many ways for financial security isn’t that far afield from what the workers at the Orchids of Asia spa in Jupiter, Fla. were doing. Presumably, she and Barron will be set for life, though I’d be wary of those three offspring from Ivana, who strike me as utterly soulless little rattlesnakes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them challenge her at some point over daddy’s estate.

    While we watched Paul Manafort get a slap on the wrist in the national spotlight, another example of white privilege occurred in Illinois. A former conservative U.S. representative, Aaron Schock, had been charged with a number of felonies for looting his campaign funds for luxury trips and to redecorate his Congressional office to look like the dining room from “Downton Abbey.” He reached a plea deal that will allow him to reimburse the IRS and his fund. If he’s a good little boy for six whole months, his felony charges will be erased. He’ll be squeaky clean again.

    Jesse Jackson Jr., a black Democrat and son of the famous civil rights figure, did the same thing. He spent ludicrous amounts of money on stupid shit ranging from Michael Jackson memorabilia to a fur cape to a stuffed moose head. He, too, was charged with felonies. But he served 22 months in a federal penitentiary. His wife, Sandi, who was implicated, spent one year and a day in the pokey. No cleansing of their records, of course.

    Anyone who fails to recognize how completely corrupt our judicial system is just isn’t paying attention. Black and brown people ARE jailed at much higher rates. They ARE charged with more felonies. They ARE given longer sentences. Anyone with access to enough cash to afford a slick defense lawyer –ie., the wealthy– can count on a robust defense and a much brighter outcome. The rest must depend on luck.

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  12. LAMary said on March 8, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Melania is what my grandmother would have called “hard” looking. She looks tough and mean. The squint and scowl thing she seems to have learned from Donald doesn’t help. I just assume she’s a very shrewd operator with a long term escort contract.

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  13. Dorothy said on March 8, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    I know those pictures are out there, Jolene, but I was at work when I typed that comment and didn’t want those webpages among my history on an office computer. That one I linked to is bad enough!

    A former friend who I knew since 1983 had unending praise for Trump and Melania on her Facebook page and I called her on it many times, and she’d refuse to admit any wrong doing on Trump’s part. No matter how many examples I gave of it, she was unmovable. I linked to one of those Melania pictures and she claimed it was faked. I unfriended her a couple months ago and am happier for it. My husband is still friends on Facebook with her and tells me from time to time about her latest rapture for all things Trump. I’ve decided she has brain damage and will never be able to understand what a low life snake he is. No chance of running into ever again as she lives in Pittsburgh and I don’t.

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  14. LAMary said on March 8, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    I guess people are lining up in Alabama for Trump to autograph Bibles. He’s there comforting the people who lost homes, family members, everything to the tornado. Is it just me or is autographing Bibles not ok?

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  15. Dorothy said on March 8, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Won’t those bibles spontaneously erupt in flames the second he touches/signs them?

    It’s not just you, Mary.

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  16. Dave said on March 8, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve not unfriended anyone on Facebook over Trump but I’ve unfollowed a few of them. I’ve got some extended family members and a couple of high school classmates who seem to think that Christ himself is guiding Trump’s every move. Perhaps some of you have seen the picture of Trump with Jesus behind him guiding his hand. How does anyone seriously believe that?

    I thought someone was joking when I read he was autographing Bibles. Wouldn’t that be blasphemy? Perhaps someone has a better word because I see by definition, blasphemy is a verbal assault on God.

    White privilege is real, I don’t doubt it for a moment but at least the cop got convicted here in south Florida for shooting the black man without ever identifying himself as law enforcement. Although, had the victim not been talking on the phone with the towing company at the time, it would have probably gone differently.

    The victim, Corey Jones, had a Fort Wayne connection, having played football at the University of St. Francis.

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  17. alex said on March 8, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Dave, you must have the patience of a saint. Your facebook friend Marion takes trolling to a level that feels like grenades compared to Pilot Joe’s wiffle balls.

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  18. Dave said on March 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Alex, must be another Dave. I’ve no Facebook friends named Marion and I think the only Marion I’ve ever known was a man. I’ve no idea if that gentleman is still living.

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  19. Julie Robinson said on March 8, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Holy crap those Melania pictures. They’re only sexy in a kind of perverted way, which I guess means she’s perfect for Trump?

    I’ve never unfriended anyone, but like Dave I have unfollowed people. I’ve also been unfriended by a half a dozen people, and it doesn’t bother me one whit. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a black cousin who constantly posts offensive black memes, and in great quantity. I have to keep pausing her for 30 days, and usually within a couple of days of seeing her back I have to pause her again. It’s kind of awkward, I’ve never met her in person and don’t really know her.

    I’m the daughter of a man who was a local celebrity, news and sports guy on the only radio station in town, so I know first hand how thin the facade can be. No one who listened to him talk about our family activities on the air would have believed it if told he often didn’t come home at night. Women, gambling parties, who knows what else. As I’ve matured I’ve understood how he was wounded by his own upbringing and long since forgiven him. But upstanding citizen he was not.

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  20. Deborah said on March 8, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    It looks like we’re going to be making a whirlwind trip to Arizona, weekend after this coming one. Uncle J and his caregivers are going to some of the Cubs spring training games, which they do every year. We’re driving to Mesa, AZ or wherever it is that the cubs play. We will see one game, my husband’s brother from Seattle will be there too. Then my husband and I will drive down to Tubac to check out Uncle J’s ranch which is going up for sale. I think I mentioned this here before that Uncle J bought the ranch from the founder of Emily’s list, I’m not sure how long ago, maybe 20 years? We are going to meet with the couple who has seen after the place that whole time, to talk about what might need to be done before putting it on the market. We’re also delivering a big fat bonus to them from Uncle J, for their service since they’ll lose income after the place sells, unless of course the new owners want to use them. The sale of the ranch will probably take a long time, it’s maybe 20 miles from the border and all the scare mongering that has been done by the current administration about criminals constantly crossing illegally has made the real estate market around there take a dive. Uncle J will probably take a beating.

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  21. Suzanne said on March 8, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    Another mega church with sexual assault issues
    https://www.thestate.com/news/state/south-carolina/article227232879.html

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  22. FDChief said on March 8, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    In Trump’s defense, he autographs copies of “The Art of the Deal” and he didn’t write that one, either.

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  23. Dave Kobiela said on March 8, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Alex, Dave is right. Marion is my FB “friend”. I like to keep in touch with a couple of yahoos like him, just to assess the current level of crazy in the DT camp.
    Amazing, the vast library of anti-Democrat memes this guy has available. The level of crazy and hateful is high. Also, the hypocrisy.

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  24. Linda said on March 9, 2019 at 12:50 am

    When I read about Harwell,it reminded me that there are worse things than being an elder orphan, a new phrase to describe people who grow old without kids. I am a 60 year old spinster, and things could be worse. I know an in law who is drained by his messed up dependent kid, but won’t leave him either. Kids who are shaken down for drug money by kids.

    OTOH, when my mom got too old to care for herself, my sis and her husband were soldiers. They took her in for the last two years of her life, at a financial loss, and turned their home into a one woman nursing home for her, and ate a lot of ungrateful guff. Kids are a crap shoot. Sometimes you win, and sometimes no.

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  25. Jakash said on March 9, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Maybe this autographing Bibles thing (really, that’s not from The Onion?) will be the thing to finally wake Evangelicals up to who they’re in bed with. Yeah, right.

    “He’s just a class act.”

    https://twitter.com/Rschooley/status/1104178076089348096

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  26. Colleen said on March 9, 2019 at 8:52 am

    My brother in law, a Trumpfan, posted re:the signing of Bibles that he would treasure a Bible signed by Trump. He is a sinner like all of us, but he is still better than his opponents who wouldn’t touch a Bible, much less sign one. And this guy isn’t some yahoo. He is an educated aerospace engineer. Of course, he and my sister in law are also Jesus freaks…

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  27. Julie Robinson said on March 9, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Colleen, the most educated person I know is also the most right wing, racist and misogynistic Trump supporter. My uncle has a doctorate in electrical engineering, patents too numerous to count, and has written several textbooks. But he turns his brain off when it comes to the rest of his life, and laps up the fire hose of hate coming from Fox and similar sources. It’s difficult to understand.

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  28. Linda said on March 9, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Yep. My bros is one of the smartest people I know with a finely honed bullshit detector, but he is a true Trumpist. I think he appealed to my bro’s huge sense of resentment at a lot of people and his life in general.

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  29. Linda said on March 9, 2019 at 10:50 am

    …say, if he tried to sell his daughters a used car, bro would have kicked him down a flight of stairs.

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  30. Deborah said on March 9, 2019 at 11:21 am

    I was on twitter the other day and ran across a reference to Karpman’s Drama Triangle as it relates to Trump and the public. I had never heard of this triangle before, it’s been around for awhile, in transactional analysis which I know next to nothing about. Anyway, I did some research about KDT on Google and found it pretty interesting. You can Google it yourself if you’re interested too, there are lots of links to explain it. That triangle may explain how otherwise intelligent people can end up being Trump fans. Think of an inverted triangle, of the top two corners one represent a persecutor and the other a rescuer, the bottom point represents a victim, throughout various interactions in relationships those roles can interchange sometimes very rapidly. Hard to explain, better to look it up.

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  31. Sherri said on March 9, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Influenza has been spreading among my friends, even among the vaccinated ones. My trainer, who neglected to get a vaccine this year (but did get flu shots for her kids) had the flu and swore she’d never forget to get a shot ever again.

    OTOH, the family of the kid in Oregon who contracted tetanus, necessitating a multi-week ICU stay and rehabilitation hospital after that, still refuses vaccinations, even for tetanus!

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/03/08/an-unvaccinated-child-contracted-tetanus-it-took-two-months-more-than-k-save-him/

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  32. David C. said on March 9, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    I’m that way too. I had the flu once about twenty years ago. I haven’t missed a vaccination since. Never again will I go through that misery.

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  33. Bitter Scribe said on March 9, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    I’m an “elder orphan” myself (see Linda @#23), along with my older sister. She’s an invalid who now lives in our family home, alone; our parents and brother are all gone.

    I was appalled when I read the Freep story and got to the bit about how those kids wanted to put their mom in a cheaper nursing home so there would be more money left for them. As far as I’m concerned, if every dollar from the sale of our family home and from the (small) trust our parents left us has to go for my sister’s end-of-life care, so be it. If I ever try to cheap out on my sister’s care so I can get an inheritance, I hope someone shoots me in the head.

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  34. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    What’s the general consensus among the NN.C community to word the DNC will not give any debates to Fox News? Rightwingers are taking up the Fox whine that the Dems are “too cowardly” to appear on hostile airwaves. Leftwingers argue the recent revelations in The New Yorker showing the symbiotic relationship between the network and the Orange King is enough to prove Fox cannot be trusted.

    The ex-journalist in me thinks the DNC is wrong and that anyone contemplating taking on the toughest job in the world should be able to withstand questioning, even when it comes from highly partisan hacks. But then I think it may be a sensible move that demonstrates the DNC clearly sees Fox for what it is. . .an extension of the White House and RNC messaging apparatus with zero interest in being fair and ethical. It also burns Fox by denying it access to newsmaking events.

    What are your thoughts?

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  35. basset said on March 9, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Still in a laundry frame of mind and definitely leaning toward the LG, not least because they have a factory near here… can’tbtell if the one we’re looking at is made there, though.

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  36. Mark P said on March 9, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    @Jeff Borden — Fox is not a news organization, and they aren’t merely partisan. Fox is a propaganda organization, and the DNC is right to refuse to participate in a propaganda event in the guise of a debate. And this is not hyperbole, it’s just the truth.

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  37. alex said on March 9, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Check out the teaser below from TPM (the main story is behind a firewall).

    Evidently you can buy a whole lot more than poontang at Robert Kraft’s favorite little strip mall store in Florida…

    Payola, Cash, Sex, Security Clearances – What Could Go Wrong?
    Prime Membership Required
    Josh Marshall

    Mother Jones has an important follow up to yesterday’s news about the Chinese massage parlor baron who managed not only to get a selfie with President Trump but appears to be a fixture of the Trump Mar-a-Lago grease and sleaze world. She is the founder, though not currently the owner, of the massage parlor where Trump pal and frequent Mar-a-Lago guest Robert Kraft (owner of the Patriots) got busted for soliciting sex last month. But there’s even an additional thread to the story, an obvious connection, that is still yet to be made: a foreign national selling direct access to the President of the United States to other foreign nationals and one who happens to also be involved in the sex trade. The potential not only for venal corruption but blackmail, extortion and even espionage are all pretty obvious.

    First to the Mojo story. It’s a very clever piece of the reporting, grabbing an important and obvious-in-retrospect thread of the original Miami Herald piece, pulling it and finding it unravel a whole new dimension of the story.

    In addition to the massage parlors, Cindy Yang also has a business consulting/influence peddling business – setting up just after President Trump’s inauguration. Business people usually have business reasons for wanting to sidle up to the politically powerful. But MoJo found something much more direct. On its website Yang’s firm offered clients access to Trump and his family via Mar-a-Lago and other channels. The site offered “the opportunity to interact with the president”, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other political figures.

    US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd-L), his wife Akie Abe (R), US First Lady Melania Trump (L) and Robert Kraft (2nd-L),owner of the New England Patriots, sit down for dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on February 10, 2017. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
    These grifts are often pretty slapdash operations. The company’s DC office appears to be located in a UPS postal box location. But as Mojo notes, a look at the photographs published on Yang’s company site (now offline) and social media pages suggest she was able to make good on those promises to clients, getting various Chinese business people and tycoons into Mar-a-Lago for chats and meet-and-greets with the President, members of his family and various Trump toadies.

    It’s be understood since the President took office that he was in essence selling access to the Presidency by making his private club the locus of so much presidential activity. One a number of occasions he’s hosted dinners with foreign heads of state in the same dining room where members eat their own meals. But this is one of the most explicit and direct examples yet of something we assumed must be happening.

    US First Lady Melania Trump (L) and US President Donald Trump (3rd L) pose with Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R) and his wife Peng Liyuan (R) upon their arrival to the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
    But there are two other parts of the equation worth noting. If you’re wondering why Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump had a hard time getting top level security clearances there are likely a number of reasons. But this kind of regime of checkbook access to the Trump inner circle must figure high in the equation and likely applies to many others in the Trump orbit.

    And that’s not all. Yang’s business looks like a pretty standard pay for access operation. Not good at all but hardly something new under the sun. Trump is open for business for pay-to-play access. And through Mar-a-Lago he has essentially made members club franchisees of his pay-to-play operation. Yang pays Trump for her and family members Mar-a-Lago membership. Trump get his cut and she can start running her own influence peddling racket. But remember, Yang also appears to be in the prostitution business. At least one of his local area pals, Kraft, got busted using those services. Another mega GOP and Trump donor, John W. Childs got busted as part of the same sting, though it’s not clear it was the identical location as Kraft. If you have someone selling access to the President, mainly to foreign nationals from China and that person is also in the prostitution business, the avenues for corruption, blackmail, extortion and even espionage are all pretty obvious.

    We don’t know if all these wires are crossing in Yang’s case. But that’s not even really the point. We’re finding out about Yang’s grift because Robert Kraft somehow happened to get swept up in the “rub and tug” massage parlor sting. That led to Yang’s ownership of the massage parlors and her connections to Trump. That led to her website openly selling access to the President, his cabinet secretaries and his family. There’s less than zero chance she’s the only one. And it’s just as unlikely that Mar-a-Lago is the only channel of Trump’s presidential corruption.

    Whether or not Yang’s is just garden variety influence peddling, it has all the potential markers of something much more serious. A foreign national selling access to other foreign nationals from a country that runs extensive espionage operations in the United States; someone who appears to be involved in criminal enterprises and ones often used as traps for blackmail. Clearly the door is open for anyone.

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  38. Mark P said on March 9, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    So, business as usual at the International House of Payola.

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  39. brian stouder said on March 9, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Here’s a palate cleanser –

    Late last week Pam and Chloe and I rolled into one of the real jewels of downtown Fort Wayne – the Embassy Theater – for Finding Neverland – and it was genuinely marvelous

    http://fwembassytheatre.org/events/finding-neverland-touring/

    I’ve only been to a very few major live-action productions, but the power and the beauty of them is just tremendous.

    And indeed, I was taken by the ‘little’ stuff, too. For example, the seamless integration of video images along with props and background pieces continually impressed me; clearly a top-notch production

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  40. Suzanne said on March 9, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Not to stereotype, but several of you mentioned knowing highly intelligent engineers types that are yuuuge Trumpsters. I know several as well along with a CFP who loves to analyze numbers. I think it’s the mentality of the numerical type mind. It thinks in concrete ways and those folks can relate to concrete although simplistic solutions when it comes to world events. In engineering, you have a problem to solve or a need to address, you make some calculations, figure out probable solutions, and solve the problem. Numbers don’t change, 2+2 will always equal 4. Dealing with problems involving people is a whole different ball of wax because it involves emotions and histories and mindsets, none of which are sure and static.
    So the strongman appeals to them. He speaks in tangible observable terms. He says if we build a wall, the immigration problem is solved. Makes sense to them in a way that discussing the reasons they emigrate, the political complexities in their countries, the emotional impact of locking them up never will.

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  41. Jakash said on March 9, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Hey, Suzanne, this is kinda outta left field, but did you post a comment to David Brooks’ column in the NYT yesterday?

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  42. FDChief said on March 9, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Why on Earth would the DNC cross the street to piss on FAUX “News” if it was on fire?

    FAUX is the Enemy, a skinnerbox full of wingnut rats. Any democracy-loving American should show FAUX the same face we showed Der Sturmer back when it was the outlet of choice for fascists.

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  43. Deggjr said on March 9, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Jeff Borden @ 33; both Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro spoke at a Trump rally before the midterm election. Supposedly the Fox network disapproved. https://www.cnn.com/videos/business/2018/11/06/hannity-pirro-take-stage-fox-news-trump-rally-ctn-sot-vpx.cnn

    Hannity and Pirro might have missed a day or two of air time.

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  44. Deborah said on March 9, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Hell no should the DNC encourage anything on Fox News, propaganda central. It’s just wrong, Fox has done great damage to this country by promoting polarization in every way it possibly could. If the DNC gives in I will be royally pissed.

    Suzanne, interesting theory about engineers, often thought to be left brained. Of course this doesn’t hold true for all of them by a long shot.

    LB is feeling much better every day. She is happy to report that her pain seems to be now from incisions and muscles (since they had to penetrate muscles) rather than joint/bone pain. I completely redid the furniture position in the living room of the apartment, since she’s spending a lot of time on a lounge, that we realized wasn’t optimally located for someone with limited mobility, but is now.

    I have been pulling my hair out trying to find a #6 coffee cone, which fits #6 cone filters. I broke my second Chemex this morning and decided I’m done with breakable pour over coffee making options. I was able to find #6 filters easily but only #4 cones, even online. I finally found a porcelain one on Amazon that I went ahead and ordered, even though porcelain equals breakable, but I’m up a creek in Santa Fe with no ways to make coffee the way I like it with out it. I have plastic #6 cone in Abiquiu and Chicago, how did I find those? LAMary, at one time you gave me Chemex filter info, any suggestions on #6 plastic pour over cones? I went to about 6 places in town and spent some time online, very frustrating.

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  45. Suzanne said on March 9, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Jakash, busted. Yes, that was me

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  46. Sherri said on March 9, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Fox News was created with bad intentions, and has now turned into a full-on propaganda outlet. If you haven’t read the New Yorker article, do so.

    We are in a fight to save democracy. Fox News is working against that.

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  47. Sherri said on March 9, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    The other thing about engineers is that their education is pretty narrowly focused, which is why I changed majors out of engineering. And it’s a heavily male-dominated field, full of people who think that it’s a meritocracy, that the reason there aren’t women and minorities is because they aren’t good enough. I’ve encountered lots of Libertarian engineers.

    It’s also been my experience that engineers who work for Defense Department contractors tend to be pretty conservative. Aerospace engineering is a field dominated by Defense Department work, for example, and many aerospace engineers I know are Republican.

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  48. Jakash said on March 9, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Busted? Heck, Suzanne, 236 “Recommends” and a “Times Pick” to boot? I thought it was very cool. A fine comment, indeed. I thought it might be you, because how many Times-reading, ex-conservative, well-spoken, rural Hoosiers with your name can there be? ; )

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  49. Suzanne said on March 9, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Well, thanks Jakash! Dang 236 recommends. I guess I struck a nerve.

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  50. basset said on March 9, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    We got the LG, top loader so I guess I can now say we are old school. Or just old. Or just cheap, price was $250 less than the bottom end front loader LG with pedestal.

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  51. LAMary said on March 9, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Deborah, is your porcelain cone a flat bottomed cone line a Melitta or is it like a Chemex cone, folded into a cone shape?

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  52. Deborah said on March 9, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    LAMAry, the cone is flat bottomed, which is what I need to use it over my SS pitcher, I have 2 others which I use in Chicago and Abiquiu, but they’re plastic, so unbreakable. I seem to need the unbreakable versions.

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  53. LAMary said on March 9, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    I’m only seeing plastic pour cones in the one to two cup size, but here’s this which is great looking but includes a new ss carafe.

    https://shoponline.melitta.com/product/thermal-10-cup-pour-over/pour-over-coffeemaker-carafe-sets

    Then there’s this, which says it’s a size 03 which is what Hario calls a 6. It’s the top part only and it’s plastic. The size 03 is only available in clear plastic.

    Hario V60 Plastic Coffee Dripper, Size 03, Clear

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  54. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 9, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    The Harwell story was very sad reading for me because of all the parallel stories it brought back to mind. I’ve walked down that pathway too many times but with a couple less zeros on the account balances . . . otherwise, the same sequence right down to moving Mom from a place she’s been relatively happy into a Medicaid last stop, just to keep from reducing the inheritance. With a GAL and not a family lawyer as the traffic cop. A pastor is rarely even a speed bump.

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  55. LAMary said on March 9, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    https://www.target.com/p/melitta-sr-pour-over-cone-coffeemaker/-/A-53951777?preselect=53669500#lnk=sametab

    And there’s this. The description says it’s for single cup but in the reviews people talk about it being ok for 2-4 cups. I had one of these years ago and I used to put in a lot of coffee and fill it more than once to make more than one cup. It worked fine that way.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 9, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    If you need a modern day saint to buck you up, here’s my best option . . .

    https://onbeing.org/programs/jean-vanier-the-wisdom-of-tenderness/

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  57. Deborah said on March 9, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks LAMary, I’m going to Abiquiu tomorrow and will check the dark brown Melitta plastic cone I have there, it may be a #4 that I use wth #6 filters? If it is, I can get another #4 plastic cone in Santa Fe easily. Meanwhile I’ve got the porcelain #6 cone coming that will last me until I break it.

    I’m picking my husband up at the airport in Albuquerque tomorrow morning then we’ll be in Abiquiu for a few days before our Arizona road trip. LB is going to ride in the car to Albuquerque, she’s getting bored having to hang around the apartment while she recovers. She’s feeling much better.

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  58. Jolene said on March 9, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    Nancy, I believe I have a comment in moderation. I thought I only had two links in it, but must have had more.

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  59. Mark P said on March 9, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    Sherri, I worked in the defense industry for nearly 30 years, and I agree. Many of my engineer coworkers are very conservative. I suspect most of my coworkers voted for trump. I believe it may be somewhat different for scientists, although there are so few actual scientists in the field that it’s hard to generalize.

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  60. alex said on March 9, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    Speaking of engineers, my brother’s an engineer but he’s also generally the lone liberal among his peers. A good many engineers strike me the same as Kavanagh and Scalia do as lawyers — masters of circular reasoning but not intellectuals.

    And it’s about fucking time that the mainstream press — and the Dems — call out Fox News for the bullshit factory it is. I remember Obama referring to Fox as “not a legitimate news outlet” when defending his decision not to be interviewed on Fox many years ago, but even he eventually capitulated. Hope the Dems keep their resolve this time.

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  61. ROGirl said on March 10, 2019 at 8:22 am

    Most engineers I have known in automotive are Republicans. There are exceptions, but they are the people who are encouraged to “think outside the box” because they generally don’t venture outside of their worldview.

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  62. alex said on March 10, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Another boring lament about the death of the local newspaper, but worthwhile if only for this:

    After the Daily Guide folded, Waynesville briefly had an alternative. A local businessman, Louie Keen, bankrolled a newspaper, the Uranus Examiner, that was delivered for free. It was shunned by local advertisers and lasted just five issues.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/town-by-town-local-journalism-is-dying-in-plain-sight

    I see the Chinese whorehouse story is beginning to make some ripples in the NYT and WaPo. Maybe a week from now we’ll find out about it here in Podunk where the MAGA fan club won’t pay it no mind. But I’d bet on seeing Alec Baldwin next weekend getting in some good ‘Gina jabs on SNL.

    The snickers come uneasily these days, though. Especially after reading this:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/yes-trump-is-undignified-demagogues-have-to-be/2019/03/08/bd8d8d9c-4109-11e9-a0d3-1210e58a94cf_story.html

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  63. Julie Robinson said on March 10, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    My theory on engineers is similar to those who work in finance, which I did for about 15 years. Your average engineer/finance person is rigid and exacting, just what you need if someone is playing fast and loose with the company books, or taxes, or reimbursements. Unfortunately it tends to carry over to the rest of their thinking.

    Engineers have spent years studying math and equations, and if someone is designing a bridge, I want them to build in very exact specifications so that it will be safe. Or building a space shuttle. When NASA stopped listening to their engineers, we had explosions and loss of life.

    It’s both a strength and a deficit.

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  64. David C. said on March 10, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    That’s a good comparison, Julie. Both accountants and engineers are not so much educated as trained. In my engineering curriculum, I had to to take one humanities class. One each year would be better, but they’re never going to sell that. Too much time is spent on weeding out classes where even the instructor on the first day will tell the students “you’ll probably never use this” and I never did.

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  65. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Not for engineers, or probably any Trump supporters, but a fascinating quiz challenge if you have any NYTimes clicks left this month. And an interesting question for museums and other non-profits that get “given” stuff with strings attached.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/03/10/arts/museum-art-quiz.html

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  66. CharlieZone said on March 10, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    In the 1990s I read an essay by Gore Vidal (the essay itself was written in the 1980s I think) in which he visits Egypt and talks to a politician who says that the government has a problem because after independence it trained a huge number of engineers to boost its economy but a high percentage of them ended up joining reactionary Islamist organizations. I also know a surprising number of MDs (who are in my humble opinion bio-engineers) are creationists. My father was an engineer and he always told me engineering would be a completely different profession if engineering schools taught engineers to write. That skill really changes people.

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  67. basset said on March 10, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    So the question on the first page of the museum art quiz is… which works did an art museum in Indy deem most valuable? No idea, I am not even remotely qualified to answer that.

    Art museums make me tense and defensive, expect my ignorance to be exposed and mocked at any moment… last time I was in one was for a display of outstanding car designs, that at least is a subject I can have a conversation on but surely I wasn’t appreciating the art angle of it appropriately. Just tried to keep quiet and speak only to the people I came with, any contact with someone who really knows art was a potential ambush.

    https://fristartmuseum.org/calendar/detail/sensuous-steel

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  68. Deborah said on March 10, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    People who “know” art, aren’t trying to ambush anyone, they just want to encourage people to be exposed to it. The more you see of it , the more you know about it.

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  69. LAMary said on March 10, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    I had a boyfriend who was a geological engineer. He wasn’t a right winger. He later added a masters degree in hydrological engineering and became a pretty serious environmentalist.

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  70. Jakash said on March 11, 2019 at 1:08 am

    I’m not remotely qualified to opine on which works of art were the keepers, either, but I didn’t mind guessing… 3 for 5, which means I, myself, would be rated either a D or an F and relegated to either the dumpster or perhaps the Trump Museum of Fake Art. D’oh!

    I often wonder about what a small percentage of their holdings big museums must actually have on display, so I thought the article was interesting, too.

    Why would I care what anybody in a museum thinks about me? I celebrate my ignorance by racing through many rooms of modern art in very slightly more time than it takes to walk through. Good exercise! I enjoy the view out the windows of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago (of which we are members, FWthat’sW,) more than about 3/4 of the stuff contained inside. So sue me! ; )

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  71. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 11, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Basset, I started going to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in the 80s when I was doing ministry in some very challenging settings; the location, the calm, and the beauty just helped me reset my internal clock. Over time, I started reading tags, and even occasionally asking questions, and just developed a jackleg knowledge of art history and very general understandings of technique . . . but it was just in service of being able to make myself go, wander, and more than occasionally stop and look. And look some more. Until I could feel that slowing down start to take place. I haven’t lived in Indy since ’89, get back to the IMA (which is now Newfields, apparently, or so I saw last year on my most recent visit) rarely, but I have a couple of large format books of Vermeer and Rembrandt and Van Gogh and O’Keefe that I pull out when I can feel that blood vessel in my temple start to throb. And I just flip, and try to pause and look more deeply — but there really is a difference between an excellent color print on a page and the oil or watercolor on the wall in front of you. Texture and all that. Those aspects, and the usual vibe of an art museum help me get back to a little more calm and open to introspection.

    Having said that, I agree with Jakash about the views from the AIC’s Modern Wing!

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  72. basset said on March 11, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Deborah, not sure I completely agree with you on that… some people just love to demonstrate their superior knowledge and raise an eyebrow at your shortcomings, not just in art either. I have, for example, been tempted to punch certain fly fishermen between the eyes on several occasions, and I occasionally catch myself getting insufferable about the Beatles.

    Unrelated: after 34 years in Tennessee, I may have finally become a Southerner. Talking about local history with a couple of natives yday and one of them asked “what year did the war end?” I automatically said 1865, didn’t register that he was asking about WW2.

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  73. Sherri said on March 11, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Basset, I’m not sure a real Southerner believes that war ever ended…

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  74. susan said on March 11, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Bingo, Sherri.

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  75. Icarus said on March 11, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Too much time is spent on weeding out classes where even the instructor on the first day will tell the students “you’ll probably never use this” and I never did.
    and
    My father was an engineer and he always told me engineering would be a completely different profession if engineering schools taught engineers to write. That skill really changes people.

    The weed out courses weeded me out. Made it up through Differential Equations (Diffy Q) which I haven’t used since college, but Physics and few pre-engineering courses made sure I would never darken the halls of electrical engineering.

    I thought I could write but didn’t make it as a journalist either, so I’m lucky that Information Technology became a thing.

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  76. Jeff Borden said on March 11, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    I think it’s OK to be fairly ignorant about art. The idea is to be open to it and just let it happen to you.

    One of the reasons I love satellite radio –particularly when listening to classical music– is the digital data shown on the screen, yet I still cannot discern the differences between composers without looking. And while I know nothing of painting and sculpting, I wouldn’t have missed the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the Prado, the Tate, the Gulbenkian. We are members of the Art Institute of Chicago and go at least twice per year.

    I think the proprietess can confirm I’m no highbrow. I attended a land grant college in Ohio. But I greatly enjoy strolling through a gallery and, man, it is a great way to break the spell of a dismal, gray winter day.

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  77. basset said on March 11, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Southern heritage… I was born & raised in Indiana but my dad was from South Carolina. An ancestor down there was a potter whose work shows up at auction now & then, finally got a mid 19th century stoneware jug last week that’s attributed to him. Further research to come.

    Satellite radio… waiting at Best Buy for an installation right now, factory Toyota CD player gave out so now we’ll have a big enough screen to read the entire title & information.

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  78. alex said on March 11, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    I think it’s wonderful to be ignorant about art. You can laugh at Salvador Dali’s melting clocks or Andy Warhol’s soup cans or Jackson Pollock’s drip tarps and daydream about becoming a famous bazillionaire from posting sharts. Basset, you could be the next art savant and nobody would be the wiser except you.

    Art as a bullshit medium I don’t mind at all. Journalism is another matter and I really don’t care for the surrealistic horror show installation piece in which the American press is right now taking part. Just stop. You’ve made your point. Get back to business. Please.

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