Twenty-five days of summer.

Boy, do I owe you guys a blog. I just put the last huge work obligation of summer in my rear-view mirror, and am looking forward to a very relaxed September. It is…my summer. I don’t care if it’s not as warm as August. It will be perfectly pleasant and it will belong to me.

My huge work obligation? I was working, through a contractor, on the social-media team for the Detroit Jazz Festival this past weekend. What that meant was up early and grind, grind, grind out content for all the channels, trying to cover three stages with 60 performers, drop the sponsors’ names, tag the performers so they share, etc. As someone who spent her career basically answering one question – What can I write that people might want to read? – it’s a little dizzying to consider the dozens that come with this hybrid of journalism, marketing and diplomacy. So I didn’t consider it (too much) and just tried to enjoy the music, which was pretty great. The artist in residence this year was a jazz drummer and hip-hop producer, and his three day-closing sets got progressively more hip-hop as the festival went on. I absolutely respect his vision that jazz and hip-hop have more in common than not, but I was also amused that at his closing-night show, he put a rapper on stage who introduced her new single, “Drunk AF.” I’m sure Billie Holiday was laughing somewhere on the astral plane.

The gig came with perks, including four nights’ lodging at the hotel in the RenCen, the hulking skyscraper complex at the foot of Woodward Avenue (and next door to the festival venue). It’s been a local joke since the day it opened that it’s almost impossible not to get lost there, and it took me about 24 hours to get my bearings. Just to give you an idea: The hotel’s “motor lobby” was on the first floor. The actual lobby was on the third. You took different elevators depending on whether your room was on the east or west side of the tower. Also, there are floors below the first which are not basement levels. But I figured it out well enough to guide an elderly couple to the Panera, so: Win.

You step out the back door and hello, what’s that:

Yes, cruise ships – one cruise ship, anyway – have discovered the Great Lakes. It’s so weird to see the Octantis go by on its voyages up and down the lakes. The ports of call leave something to be desired; I mean, there’s a few cities with halfway-decent downtowns, Mackinac Island and…I’m stumped. But, and this is something else I learned this weekend, via the TV in my room, tuned to CNN: Viking’s market niche is well-to-do seniors who don’t want to see children running around, nor onboard casinos. So the Great Lakes cruises, which are very expensive, concentrate on education and relaxation. I hope the guests enjoyed the jazz festival.

Here’s something else I saw wandering the de facto GM showroom on Level A (the RenCen being GM’s corporate headquarters):

That’s a pickup truck, and I was standing directly in front of it. The hood was about at my nose level, and I am not a short person. It boggles the mind that people who don’t need to haul around landscaping supplies or anything heavier than a laptop want vehicles like this, and yet: They do. Trucks and SUVs are the profit engine of the American auto industry. I mean, imagine parallel parking that thing. (Shudder.) And I’m an excellent parallel parker.

I have some more thoughts, including about Jimmy Buffett, but I’ll save them for another day. For now, it’s time to enjoy summer. Also, do some laundry.

Posted at 9:22 am in Detroit life |

32 responses to “Twenty-five days of summer.”

  1. ROGirl said on September 5, 2023 at 11:04 am

    My family went on a weekend cruise from Detroit to Niagara Falls on the S. S. South America when I was around 9 or 10. Our cabin was about the size of a closet, there were a lot of kids on the boat, it was kind of old and worn. A few years later we sailed to England on the S. S. France, and that was glamorous and fun, but the cabin was still really small.

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  2. Alan Stamm said on September 5, 2023 at 11:11 am

    As is widely bemoaned, those humungo road monsters are a life-or-death risk to below-eye-level pedestrians, young cyclists, wheelchair users and other unseen road sharers.

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  3. Mark P said on September 5, 2023 at 11:51 am

    I’ve driven a pickup for 40 years, going from small to big to small to big, and now to the smallest I could find, a Ford Maverick. I needed some of the big ones when I was building our two houses, but recently I had to admit that I will never build another house. Now my little truck works for hauling trash to the transfer station and garden supplies for the yard. Just a couple of days ago I brought home glass doors for our shower-tub enclosure. Anything bigger I’ll have delivered.

    For most men, at least those that don’t have legitimate needs for a big truck, they are part fantasy and part compensation.

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  4. Deborah said on September 5, 2023 at 12:07 pm

    I don’t understand those gigantic trucks, they are a mystery to me and boy are they popular in New Mexico.

    We’re finally going to see Barbie this afternoon, we were waiting for the hoopla to die down.

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  5. Jeff Borden said on September 5, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    Gigantic Land Rovers are just as bad as the mega-pickup. Many I see are tricked out with huge chrome appendages on the front end –the Aussies call ’em “roo bars”– and a bank of high intensity lights on the roof, just perfect for roaming the Kalahari but more often used to ferry the children to Country Day School on the North Shore. I almost rear-ended one last year on Green Bay Road. The driver slammed on the breaks of this beast because of some missing pavement. The fucking thing is designed to ford rivers, but oops, not go over a bump. The Rover held one passenger –the driver– of course.

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  6. Icarus said on September 5, 2023 at 12:54 pm

    The Venn diagrams of “places you need these trucks” and “places you don’t, but have them” are two different circles.

    My wife started a new job at the VA last week. She applied in April, was selected in May but had to go through 3 months of verification or whatever they call it in their byzantine system.

    So as the House Husband, it’s my job to get things done around the house. Unfortunately, the heat is back so it’s hard to get motivated to do things.

    I’m happy that professional football is back but I’m in no hurry for playoffs. As i get older I realize that means time is ticking.

    also grateful that the Chicago Cubs are doing well in their hunt for October and it has given me something to pass the time here in backswardsville, MS.

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  7. David C said on September 5, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    3rdFirst thing they need to do to rein in big-ass trucks is to change the regulations so anything with a back seat is a passenger car. Trucks have fewer regulations than passememnger cars so anything they can qualify as a truck, they do. Hell, my Outback is considered a truck. The only way to stop it is to take the profit out. Make them follow the same safety and fuel economy standards that any other car has to follow.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on September 5, 2023 at 3:31 pm

    In Central Florida we have another two months of summer, yippee. We had our traditional Labor Day/Sarah birthday party and while I didn’t try to track numbers, I believe it was north of 50. And our house isn’t very big. But it was the best present we could give our uber extrovert.

    We had to attend an event at the RenCen and I will attest to everything Nance states. Hope I never have to go back.

    Is anyone making mini pickups? Dad always had one of those and it proved equal to all his hauling needs since it held a sheet of plywood or drywall in the bed. Our son has a fairly big pickup because he likes to help his friends move (give him another 10 years and he’ll beg off with back problems, amiright?). Mileage isn’t great but these days his commute is bedroom to office so mostly it sits.

    Jeff B, people are surprised to learn how uncomfortable Land Rovers are given their price. But they aren’t engineered for comfort, they’re engineered to ford rivers. The heiny of the passengers wasn’t considered.

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  9. Sherri said on September 5, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    One reason carmakers wanted to classify everything as a truck was to get around gas mileage requirements, but now they’re making electric trucks that are just as big and even heavier! The electric F-150 weighs 6500 lbs. The Rivian, which I’ve seen several of in the wild here, weighs 7000 lbs and doesn’t even have a bed big enough for a sheet of plywood!

    The current selling point of these massive electric trucks is range and towing; you need huge batteries and multiple motors for that. My bigger than it needs to be hybrid Honda CR-V weighs 4000 lbs and has a towing capacity of 1000 lbs. The Rivian can tow 11000 lbs. I have yet to see a Rivian towing anything.

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  10. Sherri said on September 5, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    Additionally, nobody much is talking about what’s going to happen to the roads when the majority of the vehicles on the road are two times or more as heavy as today, but aren’t paying gas taxes.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on September 5, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    Good news! Proud Boys head weasel Enrique Tarrio sentenced to 22 years for seditious conspiracy. Now, could you please go after the traitorous shits who sit in Congress, please?

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  12. David C said on September 5, 2023 at 6:15 pm

    One of the big reasons for the huge front ends of pickup trucks is the race for the highest towing capacities. Cooling the engine is a bigger limiting factor than suspension so they have huge radiators. Of course, hardly anybody ever tows anywhere near capacity and you would be stupid if you did. Towing a load heaver than the vehicle is asking for a wag the dog thing to happen.

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  13. Mark P said on September 5, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    The Ford Maverick pickup comes as a hybrid rated at 42 city/33 highway, although a lot of people report better. My Maverick is not a hybrid. I have been getting around 27 mpg in our rural/suburban driving. It’s rated at 23 city/30 highway. I got the non-hybrid because it can tow 4000 lb, so I can use it with my utility trailer and maybe a small teardrop camper. It has a small bed, but it’s designed to carry a 4-by-8 sheet of plywood with the tailgate at the halfway position.

    Our hybrid Toyota Sienna (minivan) is rated at 36/36, but I have been getting upwards of 40 mpg. I think our driving is ideal for a hybrid.

    Sherri, people are talking about how to tax BEV’s. I have heard proposals for a mileage fee, which I’m afraid will not go over well with right-wingers. Invasion of privacy, you know.

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  14. Mark P said on September 5, 2023 at 6:43 pm

    David C — I saw the result of a tail wagging towing event in Colorado. There was a shiny, new pickup on its side, still hitched to an upright trailer about 12 feet long with three-foot sides, filled with sand. Although I didn’t see it, I know exactly what happened. The trailer started swaying, and it swayed more and more until it flipped the truck.

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  15. Sherri said on September 5, 2023 at 7:46 pm

    I have a friend who has a need for towing capacity, because she’s the main meet director in the state for powerlifting meets. She lives in Spokane, and tows a trailer with two sets of calibrated steel plates for meets, plus barbells and racks. That’s roughly 1000 kg, or 2200 lbs, just for the plates, and she’s driving it through the pass. Before she bought her truck, she used to rent a UHaul truck, but she would have to rent the 15’ truck because the 10’ truck couldn’t handle the weight.

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  16. Deborah said on September 5, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    We saw Barbie and enjoyed it immensely. A great message meant for all women (and men). I can see why so many right wing men were upset about it. What’s funny is I’ve read that many red states are adding up the most attendees of the movie.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on September 5, 2023 at 9:25 pm

    Deborah, I’m willing to bet the message of Barbie is going straight over their “the bigger the hair, the closer to heaven” heads.

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  18. Jim G said on September 5, 2023 at 11:42 pm

    I had a consulting gig for GM at the RenCen about 20 years ago. I recall the layout being a little confusing at first, but not horribly so—but then, my routine was go in, go to the tower my desk was in, go down to the food court for lunch (Zoup!, usually), back to the desk, then “home” to the corporate apartment just past Joe Louis Arena. Rinse, repeat. Every now and then my co-workers and I would go to the bar in the hotel (or to a strip club in Greek Town. These co-workers were among the more “interesting” I had. Never before had I worked someplace where people thought a strip club was a perfectly reasonably post-work activity).

    I will say that the walk along the waterfront from the RenCen to my apartment was pretty darn pleasant.

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  19. Ann said on September 6, 2023 at 12:27 am

    Marquette’s downtown businesses were pretty happy with the cruise ships that visited the last two years and the museum where I volunteer made some decent money giving bus tours. But the ships that visited Marquette are being sold because,”Geography figured into the decision in the off-season. We purchased the twin ships Ocean Navigator and Ocean Voyager with the hope for a 12-month cruise schedule.” That got a lot of laughs locally, as you can imagine.,Navigator%20and%20Ocean%20Voyager%20vessels.

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  20. Dexter Friend said on September 6, 2023 at 5:54 am

    Hell, I could have rented a truck or ordered a dumpster for spring cleanup and clean-out of the garage last April, but instead I filled an aching hole in my soul by filling the hole by buying an old F-150, which a mechanic spent 6 weeks restoring for me in his spare time. With my “dog van”, the old Chrysler, and my Honda Odyssey, I didn’t need a truck, but I wanted one. It had no running board, so I had one attached. Still, I need a step stool to get onto the running board, but I am used to it. I don’t do much, so at least I have a little fun driving the truck around in the countryside.
    A problem which must be solved by cutting back on some things monthly: my supplemental-to-Medicare insurance policy keeps jumping. It just went up another $51 monthly. I live too far away from a VA hospital to depend on getting there in an emergency, so I need this insurance. The VA told me they maybe would pay the 20%, but maybe not…it’s not certain. I refuse to let the hospital system empty my assets to cover the 20% Medicare does not pay. My monthly bill is encroaching $500…if it gets to $600 soon, I’ll have to figure something out quickly. Is it worth it? This policy paid Carla Lee’s 20% to a staggering amount of $260,000 for all her care and procedures. Goddam right it’s worth it.

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  21. jim said on September 6, 2023 at 6:08 am

    Big truck – so if you are in an accident, you don’t get hurt ?

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  22. LAMary said on September 6, 2023 at 9:06 am

    Icarus, I started in my L.A. County job in August. I was offered the job the first week of June, got live scanned and provided references. It took a over two months for everything to clear. Sounds like the feds are even worse. When I did start I worked three days that week, waited two weeks for that paycheck which covered 16 hours of work. That was one anemic paycheck, especially after six months of unemployment and two months of waiting to start. It’s all good now but jeez.

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  23. basset said on September 6, 2023 at 11:32 am

    Adventures in wild cuisine:

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  24. Julie Robinson said on September 6, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    My sister worked for WIC and said she had to spend 45 minutes evaluating every single application, even the ones lacking degrees and licenses. Seems like a government thing.

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  25. tajalli said on September 6, 2023 at 1:56 pm

    Over the times I have worked for the Census (2010, 2020, 2023), the application process has become phenomenally byzantine. To work for one of the annual surveys this year, I submitted a basic application in 2021, was contacted in November 2022 to start the specific application process (easily 50 pages), had a hire date in early March, the paid training in early April, and the actual work began in early May. For a two month stint.

    I probably spent more time on the application than the actual hours working because the applicants now have all the administrative work off-loaded onto themselves (non-paid) including arranging fingerprints as well as providing and resizing photographs used for ID badges.

    And being called by a future supervisor prior to my hire giving me unnecessary instructions about my hiring process as well as a plethora of other mis-information, probably to plump up his paid hours. “I am your supervisor.” “No, you’re not. I haven’t been hired yet.” I finally stopped taking his calls and then he quit before we started. God, what a mess it was.

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  26. Sherri said on September 6, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    When I say nobody’s talking about the road problem, I mean there’s no serious movement on any legislative front. There are plenty of solutions, but no political will. Will the political will increase when the roads fall apart? Who knows.

    The federal gas tax was last raised in 1993, and is not indexed to inflation, so that gives you a sense of how likely it is to start taxing miles. Some blue states might manage it; California already has the highest gas taxes, and a solidly Dem legislature, so I could imagine them swapping a VMT tax for a gas tax, maybe, though that might encourage more gas usage.

    In general, of course, the problem is we stopped investing in infrastructure starting around 1980 and let modern day robber barons extract all the value out of the infrastructure investments of the New Deal. And sold people on a myth that infrastructure was free, we didn’t need to pay taxes to have it. Now that we’re at the end of the useful life of all that New Deal infrastructure, people aren’t used to paying for infrastructure anymore, and don’t understand why the government needs to do it.

    Especially when snake oil salesmen like Musk tell them that solutions are easy and just around the corner (Hop in your self-driving car through my super duper tunnel to board my rocket to live on Mars!)

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  27. Sherri said on September 6, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Dungeons and Dragons and Death Row.

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  28. Mark P said on September 6, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    According to some estimates I have seen, the average Georgia driver pays around $257 a year in gas taxes. Georgia charges BEV drivers an annual fee of around $211, so not quite a full replacement. A number of other states also charge varying registration fees for EV’s.

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  29. Sherri said on September 6, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    Washington’s gas tax is 20 cents a gallon higher than Georgia’s, and the talk around here was of a 2.5 cent/mile VMT tax to replace it. Our car registration fees don’t vary for EVs, but weight of the vehicle does factor into it.

    Oregon has a voluntary program for a VMT tax that gives you a rebate on gas taxes.

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  30. Sherri said on September 6, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    Speaking of the snake oil salesman, the Cybertruck is a disaster.

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  31. David C said on September 6, 2023 at 4:10 pm

    Will he blame the ADL for his shitty trucks too?

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  32. LAMary said on September 6, 2023 at 10:02 pm

    I forgot about the paperwork. Yes. Lots of paperwork. I like my supervisor and so far my job is ok. I get to do the monthly newsletter. September’s is about suicide prevention. It’s also about new interns including photos of their pets. Next task: creating welcome packets for new clients of the LA County Department of Mental Health American Indian Care Center. No Alaskan Indigenous yet. I also created a very nice flyer for the opening of our native plant garden. Agaves abounding.

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