Dead people, good and bad.

If there’s a God, Henry Kissinger is being tortured in Hell by being beaten for eternity with the severed limbs of all the Cambodian civilians he bombed to pieces. But maybe there isn’t a God, and if there is, we can’t know Their ways. All I know is, the world is a better place with him gone. It feels like it’s been a long time since we had the satisfaction of watching a genuinely evil bastard check out. So what does the may-or-may-not-be-God do next?

Kill Shane MacGowan. St. Patrick’s Day won’t be the same without him.

The other day I saw something — an op-ed, a tweet, can’t remember — that said every world event didn’t need to be reacted to by official bodies. The Detroit City Council has no dog in the Israel-Palestine war, but passed a resolution “supporting” a ceasefire, as well as hostage release. Which leads me to this:

First reaction: Oh, of course it would be the goddamn Yankees. Second reaction: Who the hell cares that George Steinbrenner and Henry Kissinger were friends? Final reaction: Not wanting to be one of those shut-up-and-sing people, I beg off of this dispute. But I think about what that op-ed/tweet/whatever that started this said: Not everything has to be reacted to, especially when it’s a baseball team reacting to the death of a war criminal.

What other assholes are in the news today? Elon Musk, telling Disney’s CEO to go fuck himself — in that language — if he won’t advertise on Musk’s moth-eaten social platform. Man, I hope Linda Yaccarino has an excellent exit package for when she finally gets fed up trying to put lipstick on this pig. Actually, no I don’t. She went into this deal with the devil with her eyes wide open. Well, shit happens, especially entirely predictable shit.

Sorry to be such a grouch today. I have a new library book I’d like to get to, and the day outside looks suitable for a walk, both things I’d rather be doing. So best zip this up and hope for better things.

Posted at 12:16 pm in Current events | 52 Comments

Long weekend.

Years ago, a famous journalist told me a story about the day he came to Detroit for a job interview. He’d just dropped his bag on the floor of his RenCen hotel room when the phone rang. He answered, and a man’s voice asked, “Is Cinnamon and Sherelle there?” “Um, no,” the writer replied, adding that he’d just checked in. “Well, do you want ’em to be there?” the man replied.

That bit of lawlessness, the idea that the first phone call you get in Detroit could be from a pimp, has always been one of the things I like about this place. After 20 years in Indiana, living in a municipality known as the City of Churches, I’d had enough “wonderful place to raise a family” to last a lifetime.

I thought of the writer’s story at the Thanksgiving parade last week, which I had to attend for work. Float after float of nice corporate entities putting on their best public face rolled under multiple plane-towed banners advertising cannabis businesses, the other side of Detroit’s business economy.

If you want to see fewer FREE WEED banners overhead, know this: As long as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, it will continue. Cannabis businesses can’t advertise with Google or the social-media platforms, as they fear asset forfeiture should another Jeff Sessions assume control of the Justice Department. So – in Michigan, anyway – they’re pretty much confined to billboards, merch and other locally run advertising outlets.

Can’t have a Detroit Thanksgiving parade without the Big Heads, the walking troupe of notable Detroiters. This was their staging area. I see Aretha Franklin, Gilda Radner, Tom Selleck, Rosie the Riveter, Bob Seger, Rosa Parks and…not sure about the white-haired guy at the end of the row, but he’s probably Mort Crim, former anchor for the station that always carries the parade.

Here’s Stevie Wonder and Barry Sanders:

It was a good holiday weekend. Besides the parade, we had a Thanksgiving-for-two that was just fine, followed by a relaxing Black Friday, festive Birthday Saturday, chill post-birthday Sunday. The Lions lost, but the Wolverines won, and that was fine.

There’s leftover birthday cake. I want it gone by tomorrow morning, and then I MUST go on a sugar/alcohol fast for a few days, because I feel like one of those balloons floating over the parade.

Because of my sloth and indulgence, I didn’t get too much bloggage, but there is this, an infuriating look at how the Trump team cheapened and coarsened the pardon process, from the NYT:

Jonathan Braun of New York had served just two and a half years of a decade-long sentence for running a massive marijuana ring, when Mr. Trump, at 12:51 a.m. on his last day in office, announced he would be freed.

Mr. Braun was, to say the least, an unusual candidate for clemency.

A Staten Islander with a history of violent threats, Mr. Braun had told a rabbi who owed him money: “I am going to make you bleed.” Mr. Braun’s family had told confidants they were willing to spend millions of dollars to get him out of prison.

At the time, Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department and federal regulators, as well as New York state authorities, were still after him for his role in an entirely separate matter: his work as a predatory lender, making what judges later found were fraudulent and usurious loans to cash-strapped small businesses.

Nearly three years later, the consequences of Mr. Braun’s commutation are becoming clearer, raising new questions about how Mr. Trump intervened in criminal justice decisions and what he could do in a second term, when he would have the power to make good on his suggestions that he would free supporters convicted of storming the Capitol and possibly even to pardon himself if convicted of the federal charges he faces.

A loan shark, but a well-connected one. Of course Jared Kushner is involved, as is Alan Dershowitz.

On that depressing note, I leave you to your end of weekend/start of week selves.

Posted at 5:15 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 50 Comments

It never stops with these people.

A few years ago — two or three, maybe four — I was in the Deadline Detroit offices when a YouTube video crossed my feed, somehow. I don’t remember who sent or posted it, but I vividly remember the video: It featured four or five young men, employees of the Church Militant, a right-wing Catholic group based in Ferndale, a suburb here.

The guys were boxing, shirtless, in a Ferndale park on a fine summer day. I don’t remember if they were gloved or just barehanded, but they were boxing in the 19th century style, which is to say hands held high, like you see in old woodcuts. They were mostly moving around each other, throwing little jabs and crosses, not connecting hard, more like shadowboxing with the threat of a bruise or bloody nose around the edges. “We are enjoying manly, fresh-air exercise on a beautiful day,” was either the voiceover or maybe a title. Again, can’t remember. I watched it for a while and thought, this is the gayest thing I’ve seen in a month.

I didn’t save the URL, and when I looked for it later, it was gone. I searched and searched, googled everything I could think of, but it was gone. Last week, I had lunch with my friend Michael, who was ordained as a priest in a schismatic Catholic church earlier in the year. I told him about the video, and he said, “That’s the gayest thing ever.”

Wednesday I read an AP story about the leader of Church Militant:

The founder of a far-right, unofficial Catholic media group has resigned for an unspecified violation of the organization’s morality clause, the group said in a statement Tuesday.

Michael Voris stepped down as president of St. Michael’s Media and Church Militant, a Michigan-based enterprise established to address what Voris’ official biography calls “the serious erosion of the Catholic faith in the last 50 years.”

“Michael Voris has been asked to resign for breaching the Church Militant morality clause,” the organization said in its statement. “The board has accepted his resignation.” More details were not provided, and the board said it “has chosen not to disclose Michael’s private matters to the public” but asked for prayers for him as he is “focusing on his personal health.”

….In 2016, Voris acknowledged that when he was younger, he had for years been involved in “live-in relationships with homosexual men” and multiple other sexual relationships with men and women, actions he later abhorred as “extremely sinful.”

The Church Militant, which is also a schismatic group, likes to play dirty. During Covid, they sent an operative, a woman, to knock on the door of the music director for the archdiocese, the cathedral organist. He answered and she told him she and her wife were looking at buying a house in the neighborhood, but they were worried they wouldn’t be tolerated. The music director assured her he and his male partner had lived in the neighborhood for years and had never had any problems. She was wearing a hidden camera and captured the exchange on video. They aired it, and soon the music director was out of a job.

They are pro-Trump, of course. On election night 2022, they had a media credential and were doing live standups from the TCF Center, where the absentee ballots were being counted. I’m told the reporter doing the standups was the same woman who stung the music director.

I don’t think I’m going out on a particularly shaky limb to speculate what the breach of the morality clause might be. But they’ve asked for privacy at this difficult time.

A fuller story about the parting, from the Freep.

In other news at this hour, dogs are biting men. Film at 11. Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted at 2:18 am in Media | 42 Comments

The voting public.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we’re up against in 2024:

“Honestly, it was more of a choice of it just not being Joe Biden,” said Clara Carrillo-Hinojosa, a 21-year-old financial analyst in Las Vegas, of her support for Ms. Harris. She said she would probably vote for Mr. Trump: “Personally, I think we were doing a lot better when he was in the presidency, price-wise, money-wise, income-wise.”

Yet in some ways, Ms. Carrillo-Hinojosa is the kind of voter Mr. Biden hopes he can win once people start focusing on the race. Mr. Trump has offended her as a woman, she said, and she likes some of what Mr. Biden has done, including his support for Israel.

Most of all, she said, she strongly supports abortion rights — and did not realize that Mr. Biden does, too. She said that because states’ abortion bans had gone into effect during his presidency, she assumed it was because of him. Ultimately, despite her misgivings about the economy, support for abortion rights would probably be what decided her vote, she said.

I…have questions. You people who visit Las Vegas more often than me (lifetime total: Once), how does a 21-year-old become a financial analyst there, or is “financial analyst” just the fancy name for the person who cashes in your chips when you’re ready to go home? Presumably a financial analyst has some higher education, where you think she might have learned at least elementary, Schoolhouse Rock-level schooling on how laws are passed.

Or maybe not. But her vote counts the same as yours.

And who can blame her, when Donald Trump is building his brand as a “moderate” on abortion. The man most directly responsible for overturning Roe now is described thusly in the paper of record:

As the GOP suffers major losses from its stance on abortion, however, major media outlets have portrayed former president Donald Trump’s stances on abortion as less extreme. Over the last few months, mainstream media — including the New York Times, the Associated Press, and Politico — have portrayed Trump as “moderate” on abortion rights.

This week, for example, a New York Times headline described Trump as “Less Vulnerable on Abortion Than Other Republicans.” The subheadline noted that his “vague statements on the issue may give him some leeway with voters.”

Unlike his Republican rivals, who have “struggle[d] to address shifting views on abortion,” Trump has “effectively neutralized abortion as an issue during the Republican primary,” according to the New York Times analysis. The piece claims that “Mr. Trump has distanced himself from more restrictive abortion laws, favored by some in his party, seeming to recognize their unpopularity.” The story glosses over Trump’s actual record and policy positions, instead framing him as someone who has “been on many sides of the abortion issue over the years.”

Oh, and yet another bullshit word-salad response:

In April, during an interview with WMUR, Trump was asked if he would sign a 15-week abortion ban. “We’re looking at a lot of different options… and we’ll get something done where everyone is going to be very satisfied,” Trump said. When pushed to clarify if he meant on a national level, Trump said, “I think we’ll get it done on some level, it could be on different levels, but we’re gonna get it done.”

(I want a supercut of all the times Trump has claimed to be “looking at” something, followed by a promise that never was kept. I guess he can’t see it.)

If Democrats can’t nail three SCOTUS justices or his many statements on the “28 days after birth” bullshit to that guy’s doughy forehead, they don’t deserve to win anything. But I fear that’s what may well happen. I wrote in my journal yesterday that I thought Trump will win in ’24, and I’m thinking it wasn’t stream of consciousness.

It might be the dreary November rain falling outside, but I’m not feeling too optimistic at the moment.

But it’s nearly the holiday! We have an extremely low-key T’giving planned, partly because I have to work for some of it, and partly because we already did something, and partly because my birthday is Saturday, the same day Kate comes home from her Canadian tour, and might as well save the heavy meal for that. We’ll be at a Michigan-OSU indoor tailgate party for much of the day, so we’ll see how everything shapes up. I hope it’s fun. I’m sure it will be.

Posted at 1:05 pm in Current events | 30 Comments

RIP, Rosalynn.

I started in the newspaper business in January 1979, during the Carter administration. I was still finding my way when the Reagan administration came in. Between these two points, I would occasionally have to edit the inside copy for the big, bloated Sunday women’s section of the Columbus Dispatch. We ran buckets, warehouses of wire copy to fill it all up, one of them being a feature called “Washington Letter,” or something like that, by Betty Beale.

It was a society column about the nation’s capital. Why the people in the rest of the country wanted to know which senators and socialites attended some party at the Italian embassy was and remains a mystery to me, but it was syndicated and we weren’t the only newspaper that bought it.

And from the first time I read it, it was clear that Official Washington despised the Carters. I was young and stupid, and couldn’t understand it. I came from a house where we turned the thermostat down and put on sweaters when it got cold, where we faced hard times by doing prudent economizing. Betty Beale would have despised the Nalls, too:

Betty Beale, a spunky Washington Star Boswell to the capital’s power society, declared recently that in her affluent and respectable precincts there was consternation over Jimmy Carter’s dress and his insistence on carrying his suit bag. “If the American people had wanted their President to be a bellhop,” she decreed, “they could have found one without all that concern about issues.”

Bravo, whispered the traditionalists behind their white gloves. But from somewhere “out there,” as they say in the drawing rooms, came an avalanche of letters to the Washington Star supporting Carter. Miss Beale was even upbraided by phone callers, which convinced her more than ever that Carter was a threat to propriety and excellence.

Naturally, they hated Rosalynn, too. Her dress was frumpy — and used! She wore it to her husband’s gubernatorial inaugural ball! Can you believe this white trash the idiot public has sent to town?

From the beginning, this was the overarching narrative: They’re just so…ordinary. And they had to be broomed four years later for the Reagans. Betty Beale started writing about how “elegant” that walking broomstick, Nancy Reagan, was, and what a beautiful couple they made, and all that bullshit.

We all know how the last few decades went. Reagan had Alzheimer’s in office and the Carters left to become maybe the best ex-presidential couple in American history, modeling all that self-effacement official Washington hated so much. Helping others. Building houses. Embodying true Christianity, while the Republican Party went the other way.

And they stayed married, for 77 years. Seventy-seven years — do they even have a gift for that, a gem? Seventy-five is diamond, and hardly anyone gets that far. Maybe, at 77 years, you get a spaceship or $5 million or whatever.

So farewell to Rosalynn Carter, who died today at 96. Jimmy will follow her sooner or later, probably sooner. You don’t stay with someone that long without having almost a supernatural bond; he’ll go to his reward — and if there’s a God at all, that’s what it’ll be, a reward — and leave this world behind.

Trump was mocking Jimmy Carter on Saturday, because he’s such a piece of shit:

Trump, criticizing Biden at a rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa, told a crowd of supporters that “the happiest person anywhere in this country right now is Jimmy Carter because his administration looked brilliant compared to these clowns.”

“Compared to Biden, Jimmy Carter was a brilliant, brilliant president,” Trump said.

What will the world say about Trump, when he dies? Think about that one. Happy Monday.

Posted at 9:47 pm in Current events | 23 Comments

The pile-up.

You guys, I know I’m late on a new blog, but things have piled up early in the week – two doctor appointments (checkups only, no need for alarm), a bad-news bomb about a local friend (an aggressive cancer that sounds like something out of a horror movie), the usual work obligations, PLUS I’m trying out a new book club tonight and still have reading to get through.

But! Another thing I had to get off my plate early was this Free Press op-ed, which I’ve posted on my social channels already, but if you haven’t seen it, I’d appreciate you giving it a click. It’s not paywalled, and I think it has, y’know, a message that goes beyond my community.

Oh, and the takeaway from at least one of the checkups? “You have the cardiac rhythm of an elite athlete,” my PCP said. This week, I’ll take it.

Later this week, let’s shoot for something longer.

Posted at 11:12 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments


And justlikethat, we’re into birthday season. The birthday twins will be celebrating later today, and I have to get up and start cooking in a bit, so until then, let’s have a little fun.

And play Connections!

Which may be entirely unknown to those of you who don’t have NYT subscriptions, but let me just say: The Times is killing it in their Games section. It’s not just the venerable crossword puzzle anymore, but an expanding array of phone-friendly games like Wordle, Tiles, Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed and Sudoku.

But Connections is my new fave. It looks simple: Take a tiled array of 16 words and divide them into four groups. Here’s a recent one:

The groups are color-coded: Yellow, green, blue, purple. Yellow is the easiest level, purple the trickiest. You get four mistakes, after which you’re locked out until the following day. I almost always solve it, and as I’ve gotten better at it, I’m starting to hold myself to my own standards — zero mistakes, maybe, or getting blue or purple first. But as you can see looking at these 16, you have to consider which words might have more than one meaning, and might belong in multiple categories. “Waffle,” for instance, could belong with “waver,” as the two are synonyms in one sense of the word. It might also go with “hedge,” when you think about it — they’re all ways of putting off a firm decision.

But that’s for the easier levels. The key to getting a difficult level first, I’ve found, is to pick a word that seemingly has no similarities with anything else, and then bear down. On this one, I did pretty well once I started thinking about the apparent outlier “Russian.” Once I connected it with “bloody” and “mule,” I was home free. This is how I solved it:

As you can see, “hedge” and “waver” did go together, but not with “waffle.”

Anyway, it’s a fun thing to knock out over your second cup of coffee. Always the second — I’m still fuzzy until the first hits home.

Since we’re nearing the end of the month, let’s do some gift links to other NYT content. Here’s an interesting column about the why-aren’t-people-marrying-anymore conundrum that looks at it from the ground level:

On the rare occasions that women are actually asked about their experiences with relationships, the answers are rarely what anyone wants to hear. In the late 1990s, the sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas interviewed 162 low-income single mothers in Camden, N.J., and Philadelphia to understand why they had children without being married. “Money is seldom the primary reason” why mothers say they are no longer with their children’s fathers. Instead, mothers point to “far more serious” offenses: “It is the drug and alcohol abuse, the criminal behavior and consequent incarceration, the repeated infidelity, and the patterns of intimate violence that are the villains looming largest in poor mothers’ accounts of relational failure.”

But it doesn’t take behavior this harmful to discourage marriage; often, simple compatibility or constancy can be elusive. Ms. Camino, for her part, has dabbled in dating since her partner left, but hasn’t yet met anyone who shares her values, someone who’s funny and — she hesitates to use the word “feminist” — but a man who won’t just roll his eyes and say something about being on her period whenever she voices an opinion. The last person she went out with “ghosted” her, disappearing without warning after four months of dating. “There are women that are just out here trying, and the men aren’t ready,” she told me. “They don’t care, most of them.” Who, exactly, is Ms. Camino supposed to marry?

With that, I gotta get cookin’. But first, today’s Connections. Happy week ahead, all.

Posted at 1:54 pm in Popculch | 51 Comments

Say what?

So I see the Nashville mass shooter’s “manifesto,” or parts of it, has been leaked. From what I saw, it’s a bunch of misspelled rage-scribbles in a spiral-bound notebook. I hope the people who have been panting for its release are happy now. Ever since it was revealed that the shooter was transgender, right-wing hysteric Rod Dreher in particular has been baying for it, doubtless hoping it would be full of trans cooties he could point to as evidence he’s not the crazy one, you are for thinking these people are actual human beings.

But no. It’s just horrifying and pathetic:

Dreher pivoted immediately:

(Nashville police) likely suppressed this because Audrey Hale killed those kids on account of their whiteness, with all its “privilege.” The little “faggots.” We can’t know for sure why they suppressed it until they tell us, but I’d bet it’s because of the white angle. If the public saw that the end result of the ruling class’s obsession with condemning “whiteness” is the weaponization of that ideology by a savage tranny, who shot and killed white children — well, maybe, just maybe, white people would understand that we have been systematically set up for racial discrimination, even murder.

For the record, the police and others have been pretty clear about why the document wasn’t released: The parents of the slain children didn’t want that to happen, and police were waiting until the investigation wrapped anyway, and there were lawsuits, etc. But you are perhaps not driven by trans mania like Rod. And anyway, that isn’t what this is about. Rather, it’s one of my regular dead horses: Do words mean anything anymore?

Let’s ask my laptop’s dictionary the definition of “manifesto,” shall we?

a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate: a manifesto for gay liberation | [as modifier] : manifesto commitments.

That sounds about right. You can find the world’s most famous manifesto, the Communist Manifesto, online. I just spun my way into its middle and captured three paragraphs at random:

Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations.

It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property, all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.

According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those of its members who work, acquire nothing, and those who acquire anything do not work. The whole of this objection is but another expression of the tautology: that there can no longer be any wage-labour when there is no longer any capital.

The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, had a manifesto, typed out on his manual typewriter in his Montana cabin. It, too, is online. Titled “Industrial Society and its Future,” let’s again just dive in at random and copy/paste:

A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport. A walking man formerly could go where he pleased, go at his own pace without observing any traffic regulations, and was independent of technological support-systems. When motor vehicles were introduced they appeared to increase man’s freedom. They took no freedom away from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn’t want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel much faster and farther than a walking man. But the introduction of motorized transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly man’s freedom of locomotion. When automobiles became numerous, it became necessary to regulate their use extensively. In a car, especially in densely populated areas, one cannot just go where one likes at one’s own pace; one’s movement is governed by the flow of traffic and by various traffic laws. One is tied down by various obligations: license requirements, driver test, renewing registration, insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthly payments on purchase price. Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer optional.

Not your cup of tea, most likely, but still: An actual manifesto by the definition.

Other manifestos: The Declaration of Independence, MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, The Road to Serfdom.

Not a manifesto: Wanna kill all you crackers!!!! The most accurate term for this might be a “statement,” although “a notebook with writings suggesting the killer’s state of mind” would be better.

That is all.

Happy November 7 to all, and I was reminded, after I posted Sunday/Monday’s blog, that it’s also the anniversary of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping press event, and I can’t believe I forgot to mention that. Because that might have been reason alone to have hope for a brighter future, and also hysterically funny, so.

Happy midweek, too. And remember: Words have meaning. Use them wisely.

Posted at 12:42 pm in Current events, Media | 79 Comments


Tuesday is November 7. For the rest of my life, I expect I’ll remember another November 7, the one in 2020, three years ago.

It was a beautiful day, soft and warm and sunny, a perfect Indian summer morning that only improved as it went on. Before noon, the AP, CNN and other national media outlets reported that the counts and recounts were over in Pennsylvania, and it was official: The state belonged to Biden, and so did the presidency. Immediately, and I do mean immediately, the celebration started. Within a couple minutes, a friend in D.C. posted a video of the celebrations spreading through town. I recall the sound of cowbells and banging pans from balconies on high-rise buildings, the way we greet the new year, which it was. And it only went on from there.

My friend Dustin called and suggested we play some miniature golf, the exact sort of activity such a day called for. The course at our local park was closed for the season, so we ended up in Clinton Township, Trump country for sure. (“Metro Detroit’s Donbas region,” another friend calls it.) There was no open sobbing, so we played two or three rounds, checking our phones for reaction as the news settled in. One friend kept texting the highlights, mostly video snippets from Twitter. One showed people dancing in the street in New York City, singing “Heeeeyy, Donald Tru-ump! I want to knooo-ow why you’re such a cunt!” Laughter and hugging was the order of the day.

In 2016, I walked the dog early the day after the election, still shell-shocked by the result. I passed a man on the street who beamed at me with a note of smugness on his face, and I decided to pay it back four years later. But either the Detroit Donbas hadn’t heard the news yet or no one would let it ruin a perfect day, so I didn’t get to smug-smile at anyone, but still, I couldn’t stop smiling. Our long national nightmare was over. We’d be getting back to normal. The fever had broken. It’d be OK again.

Three years later, it’s useful to remember these feelings, and curse my naiveté, and remember another beautiful November day that didn’t turn out the way it promised to. That was November 4, 2008, the day Barack Obama was elected president, in an election with results no one contested. I watched from my couch in Michigan; I was working nights, from home, as an editor, and often kept the TV on to keep from falling asleep. All the channels were carrying Obama’s speech in Grant Park that night, the cameras panning the faces of ecstatic people, black and white but mostly black, tears running down their faces. Neil Steinberg was there, with his son, then 13, and wrote movingly about the mood that night:

All the vantage points were taken, so I went up to a group crowding around a gap in the fencing, pushed Ross ahead, and said, to no one in particular, “Could this boy take a look, just for a moment?” A large black woman turned, regarded him, and then commanded those in front of her, “Let the baby through!” and they parted, affording Ross and me a momentary glimpse of the future president, a tiny figure, far away. I thought of that famous photo of Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, a distant, barely recognizable speck in a multitude.

But that wasn’t the moment that lodged in my heart. That came afterward, when a quarter of a million people flowed from the park to Michigan Avenue, buoyant with victory, intoxicated with promise and possibility and hope, filling the street from curb to curb, from Roosevelt Road to the Wrigley Building. They were in their new Obama t-shirts and in church clothes, whole families, including wide-eyed toddlers, some cheering, some walking in quiet, careful formality.

Promise and possibility and hope – that’s what I was feeling that night, too. We’d dealt a serious blow to racism; it wouldn’t die, because no evil that entrenched can die with one election, but the United States, a country with racism as its original sin, had turned its back on it, decisively. It felt like a curse had been lifted.

Within days, we started hearing about the grumbling in the Republican Party about Obama’s election, which you’d expect, but the nature of it was disturbing. Memes showing the White House lawn turned into a watermelon patch. Obama in Tarzan-movie tribal gear, a bone through his nose. And these didn’t come from some sewer on the far right. These were memes forwarded with LOLs from county chairs and other party officials, who when confronted protested with hey-it’s-funny-can’t-you-take-a-joke? Soon we’d learn about the election-night meeting of congressional Republicans, where they vowed they’d simply dig in their heels and make Obama a one-term president. Michelle Obama made some comment about living in a house built by slaves, and Republicans roared in protest, even though she was right. Soon, another of these charmers would call her an “ape in heels.” And upon that they’d build the he’s-gay-and-she’s-a-man libel, and go on from there.

You guys were all there. You know.

I’m remembering all this…not sure why. The calendar, yes, but maybe because these are exceptionally grim times, and it’s easy now to see the bad that was waiting just behind the good. As Steinberg also wrote a while back, Trump is the whistle on the tea kettle; you can take the whistle off, but the water is still boiling. I recall another story I heard about election night in 2008, how as John McCain prepared to make his gracious concession speech, his staff had to practically put his running mate, Sarah Palin, in a straitjacket, as she too wanted to speak, to “her people.” Her people would eventually gain critical mass and be the MAGA base. She was the wicked fairy at Sleeping Beauty’s christening, with another curse, one that wouldn’t be felt for a few more years.

I spend a little time, many days, googling the realities of expatriation. I doubt we’d ever do it, but if these recent years have taught me anything, it’s that we don’t know yet how bad things can get. Who’d have ever thought the Senate majority leader could flat-out steal a Supreme Court seat? And yet it happened.

But today and tomorrow, I’ll think about November 7, 2020, the jubilance, the literal dancing in the streets, the perfect weather. We don’t have to fret all the time.

Here’s a picture I took that day, of Dustin with his spirit animal on the giraffe hole. The dead leaves and yellowing plants reveal the time of year, leading into winter. But if winter comes, as the poet asked, can spring be far behind? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Posted at 12:11 pm in Current events | 36 Comments

Jesus is just all right.

Let’s close out the week with a few snickers, shall we, and I’m not talking about the leftover Halloween candy. Julie Robinson sent along pix earlier this week, of decor in a Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Florida. I assume they’re AI. They look like it, anyway. In one of my earliest art-history lessons, at the Columbus Museum of Art on some school field trip, the teacher said every culture makes art of Jesus in their own image. I guess Seventh Day Adventists are all keyboard players in ’70s rock bands:

Here he is healing a crippled woman, who cannot seem to look him in the eye.

But this! This is my favorite, as I’ve seen the pose on every hairdresser who turns the chair around and gives you the big reveal in the mirror:

“Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I tell you a shorter look would frame your face better?”

OK, then. Happy retirement to Alex, and I leave you with a great column about Bob Knight, by my friend Dave Jones, with whom I was partying just a few days back. I think many of you will like it.

Posted at 9:32 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 38 Comments