Bad night, bad day.

Whenever Trump pulls some shit, I sleep badly the following night, and it was very true last night, when I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and never really got back to sleep. It’s going to be wine and a little cannabis edible for me tonight, and no water after…well, after now. No middle-of-the-night peeing! I’m going for seven hours, uninterrupted.

My mood today has been murderous. I drafted and trashed tweets and Facebook comments off and on all day. Just not the right day to do that, although god knows I was tempted. The display last night was almost literally stomach-turning. The only smile I got all day came from Tom & Lorenzo:

So I leave you today with…OK, two sick-making pieces, both from the WashPost, but both worth your time, plus another that’s less so. First, Gene Weingarten’s Sunday cover story, on what’s so awful about right now. After a long indictment of the president, he writes:

Mostly, I cannot forgive him for what he has taken from me, personally. It’s not money — with his mismanagement of the virus, eliminating my travel and restaurants, and with his tax policies that favor the economically comfortable at the expense of the poor, he probably has actually made me money. What he has taken from me are two things: First, my genuine lifelong feeling that the United States, for all its weaknesses and failures, deserves, and has always deserved, the benefit of the doubt. Second: I find myself profoundly disliking and disrespecting almost half of my countrymen and women — that is, the group of Americans that support Trump. I have never felt such antipathy before, even in other sharply polarizing times, and it feels absolutely terrible.

Also, it has a great kicker.

The other WP piece is another investigation of just how obviously, and blatantly, and shamelessly, the president has poured money into his own pockets for four years. Forgive the extended excerpt, but it has a rhythm to it I don’t want to disrupt:

President Trump welcomed the Japanese prime minister at Mar-a-Lago, in front of a towering arrangement of roses. The two could have met in Washington, but Trump said his private club was a more comfortable alternative.

“It is, indeed, the Southern White House,” Trump said, greeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of the press in April 2018.

For Trump, there was another, hidden benefit. Money.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s company would get paid to host his summit.

In the next two days, as Trump and Abe talked about trade and North Korea, Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., club billed the U.S. government $13,700 for guest rooms, $16,500 for food and wine and $6,000 for the roses and other floral arrangements.

Trump’s club even charged for the smallest of services. When Trump and Abe met alone, with no food served, the government still got a bill for what they drank.

“Bilateral meeting,” the bill said. “Water.” $3 each.

Indeed. This chiseling bastard. No wonder he had to buy a club to get a toehold in Palm Beach.

Finally, a break from the misery, again via T&L, who like me have been watching “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. (The novel was written by my college roommate’s father, who died years ago. I feel bad because I never read it, and I guess I should buy it, now that his children control his literary estate.) The production is gorgeous, all midcentury modern design and wardrobe, and everyone’s favorite gay uncles have picked out how many of the costumes have a chessboard theme to them. Reminded me of their Mad Men analyses.

OK, I’m going to order takeout and hope for a better night. Hope you have one, too.

Posted at 5:49 pm in Current events, Television | 86 Comments
 

Civilization.

As anyone who pays attention to the news knows by now, the U.S. Census is over. I pretty much stopped enumerating around the end of September anyway, after a series of frustrating shifts, the details of which are unimportant, convinced me it wasn’t worth my time or the wear and tear on my car anymore. Turned in my phone, ID and bag o’ forms last week. It’s over.

But I’m still left with my experiences, which is one big reason I did it in the first place.

In June, we had a brief, ferocious thunderstorm, and our neighborhood was hit hard. Trees down all over the place, roofs pierced by falling limbs, one house and a couple of garages destroyed. Within 12 hours all the streets were clear, within 48 hours most of the chain saws and chippers had fallen silent and within two weeks, you had to look for the damage in the trees — the still-raw snapped limb stumps, etc.

My census cases were mostly in Detroit, on the east side more or less adjacent to the Pointes. And there, three months after the storm, the storm’s evidence was still very much in view. No streets were blocked, but where limbs had fallen on private property, quite a few were still there. One house had a huge tree lying across the back yard. (I assume from the same storm because we didn’t have another nearly as severe, and the look of the leaves left on the branches, the stump, etc.)

I remember thinking, walking Wendy in the days after the storm, noting the cleanup, Thank you, civilization. But of course it’s more honest to say, Thank you, money. If you don’t have the resources to remove a tree too large to do yourself, or with help from neighbors, if you don’t have a chain saw or other suitable tools, well, the limb stays where it is.

My ultimate takeaway from the census was this, however: We have to figure out a way to do it better. Polling had to pivot from the everyone-in-the-phone book landline era to cellular phones. The census, too, has to figure out how to get more people to fill out the stupid form themselves, because door-knocking is a highly imperfect tactic, particularly in poor neighborhoods. Good news rarely arrives via a knock on your door, and with technology enabling people to see the person standing there without even leaving the upstairs bedroom, bathroom or miles-distant office, it’s easier than ever to ignore it. In poor neighborhoods, your friends text you that they’re coming by. Several times I’d knock, knock again, leave and then see someone pull up a minute later, hustle up the front walk and be hastily admitted.

All this by way of saying: We’re headed for a big undercount, especially in cities like Detroit.

I got my main Problem Closet cleaned. It took the better part of a week, off and on. As always, when I do this, I get sidetracked. There are boxes of letters and photographs in that closet, so you can just imagine. But as also always happens, the further you get into that project the more ruthless you become. I didn’t throw out a single photo, but I did pitch lots of clothes and other crap. The door closes smoothly now and while there is probably still stuff to toss — hello, mystery Box o’ Cords, I’m looking at you — it’s done for now. (I’m actually waiting for a recycle event for the cords. Someone must do something with those things; it can’t be entirely landfill material. Does anyone know?)

Now to put the still-good clothing on the Facebook Mom Swap. Lots of pictures to take, capsule descriptions to write. My FB listings are the J. Peterman catalog of social media.

What else this weekend? Watched the new Borat movie. It’s fine, if you like that sort of thing — cringe humor. Personally I think Larry David does it better, but Sasha Baron Cohen certainly does it fearlessly. One thing I do know, however:

Rudy wasn’t tucking in his shirt. At that man’s age, sometimes Mr. Happy needs a little shake to wake him up.

So let’s have a good week ahead? I hope to.

Posted at 4:07 pm in Detroit life, Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 55 Comments
 

Hands where we can see ’em.

I wasn’t going to say anything about Jeffrey Toobin. What’s the point? The news broke 48 hours ago. (I think, anyway. It might have been two weeks, or 10 years.) Everything that needed to be said has been said. All the jokes, made. All the takes, aired. Besides, I was feeling gloomy. I generally like Toobin’s work; he’s the contemporary historian that Bob Woodward should be, and as CNN talking heads go, he’s brighter and more accessible than most. I’ll miss him, at least a little.

Then the Rudy Giuliani news broke this afternoon, and all I can think is this:

When does it end? Do men actually die holding onto their cocks, hoping to wring one more thrill out of the little devil? I say this out of bewilderment, not exasperation. I like and appreciate men; they’re spectacular creatures, and I count many among my friends, but I will never not be astonished by their ability to, as Ashley Morris once said, follow their dicks to places they wouldn’t go with a gun.

Toobin is 60. Giuliani is 76. I didn’t think erections even arrived that easily for septuagenarians. (Maybe that’s what he was trying to get started when he stuck his hand down his pants. Or maybe he was just scratching his junk. Or maybe, in the old game said to be played by Christopher Hitchens, you can replace “heart” in any title, expression or what-have-you with the word “dick” and get a far more accurate statement:
The dick wants what it wants. The dick is a lonely hunter. Everybody’s got a hungry dick. And so on.

Whatever.

I’m cleaning closets this week. It’s emotional work, finding caches of old photos and letters. Emotional work is exhausting work, of course. I’m trying to get a post thought out in my head, but this is what you get for now.

Bloggage: The U.S. duck stamp, a competition for artists, has a new requirement this year:

The paintings submitted for this year’s federal duck stamp contest feature familiar images of wildlife art: A Cinnamon Teal bobs on a mountain lake. Two Brant tuck in to land in coastal chop. A placid pair of Red-breasted Mergansers float side by side, their jaunty crests aglow in early morning light.

But a closer look at the contest entries reveals other, less expected details. In scene after scene, wooden duck calls—which hunters use to lure in the birds—drift along the water or rest in the reeds. In several others, empty plastic shotgun shells litter the shallows and the shore.

This unusual abundance of hunting paraphernalia is the result of the Trump administration’s recent rewrite of the rules for the annual competition sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Unrelated to the Postal Service, the federal duck stamp is a permit required for hunting waterfowl. Each year’s contest determines the winning art that appears on the following year’s stamp. In May, the FWS changed the competition’s rules to make its permanent theme “celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage.” And it added a requirement that all submitted artworks “must also include appropriate waterfowl hunting-related accessories or elements.”

Ai-yi-yi, this country.

Posted at 4:36 pm in Current events | 113 Comments
 

A whole lot of paperwork.

Many thanks for keeping the stove stocked during my absence. As far as I know, the all-hands-on-deck effort at the Board of Elections — or at Cobo/TCF Center, their seasonal setup — was successful, and we got all 40,000 ballot requests processed.

It was an interesting experience. I drifted between boredom and curiosity and the simple satisfaction of the paper-pusher or snow-shoveler, or any other task-oriented worker. The sidewalk is clear of snow. Everything in the Inbox has been moved to the Outbox. Tomorrow it may snow again, and the inbox will refill, but for now, the job is done. Go home and sleep.

And I left believing, even more fervently, that the president and his enablers pushing voter-fraud bullshit are the worst people breathing right now.

The training we had was on a need-to-know basis, probably for time conservation, so I’m making a few assumptions here. Day one was an orientation to the online version of the state Qualified Voter File, i.e. the registration database. We temps did one of two jobs – spotting or checking in. Spotting was taking a single application, removed from the envelope or printed from an online request, and looking up the voter in the QVF. Their precinct number and counting board was noted, in two colors of pencil, in the top right corner of the page.

Another set of workers sorted these pages by counting boards, and gave them to the checking-in people. That involved looking them up again in the QVF, comparing signatures on the application to the one on file, rechecking that they were in the correct counting board, assigning a ballot number and printing a label for the mailing.

I’d think, as I plodded through the sheer analog-i-ness of these chores, how they could be re-engineered. Why have human beings look up voters — so many of them! — twice? If the data was already attached to their QVF entry, why not let the computer do most of this? Colored pencils? What the heck?

I don’t know the answer, but I suspect it boils down to a combination of This Is The Way We’ve Already Done It + The Value of the Human Eye + Something Something Whatever, but my takeaway was this: You might game this system once or twice, but not in the numbers it takes to sway an election. I became an amateur signature analyst and sent through a few on the bubble, but I rejected plenty, and so did others. People’s signatures change over time, particularly when they were born in 1935. It’s impossible to send multiple ballots to a single voter, because once one ballot is assigned (it’s numbered), the computer won’t let you assign another. There might be a way to somehow crack this system and legit influence a major election, but I can’t figure out what it is. Its plodding, many-eyes, multi-step process may be the best defense. I’ve talked to smart people who point out that when you can deposit a check in your bank account by taking a picture of it, it should be possible to streamline this process, and they’re no doubt correct. But that’s a question for another election, and certainly not this one.

Meanwhile, the president came to Michigan yesterday and shit-talked the governor, the one who was the focus of a kidnap plot, what? Two weeks ago? The crowd responded with “lock her up” chants.

So now I’m back. Do I have anything for you to read? I’ve only started this, but it looks interesting. I’m always interested in making libertarians look silly, though.

The GOP/QAnon alliance. Mmm, great.

Me, I’m on to cleaning closets, taking a bike ride and whipping up a nice soufflé for Kate’s dinner visit tonight. Have a great Sunday, and I’ll be back later this week.

Oh! Also check out “The Trial of the Chicago 7” on Netflix. Far better than I expected. You’ll like it.

Posted at 1:02 pm in Current events, Movies | 82 Comments
 

Doing one’s part for democracy.

The phone rang Thursday night, close to 9 p.m. It was the Detroit Board of Elections, wondering if I could commit, right now, to spending the next three Saturdays at the TCF Center (the former Cobo), doing election work for a reasonable hourly wage.

“What sort of election work?” I asked. “I’m only trained to work the election.”

“All I have is a list of names to call,” she said. “And I need a commitment tonight.”

What the hell, I figure I could use the money, now that the census is petering out. OK, I’ll be there. If the work was intolerable, I could always boot the two additional Saturdays.

As it turned out – and we didn’t learn this until we arrived – our job would be to process 40,000 absentee ballot requests. It also wouldn’t be over three Saturdays, but Saturday, Sunday, and as much of the upcoming week as we could manage. It all has to be done by Thursday. Whoa. So after some training and the inevitable technical difficulties, that’s how my weekend went – 16 hours of spelunking in the Michigan Qualified Voter File, checking signatures and assigning absentee ballots to those who asked for them. And I committed to five hours each evening this week, 5:30-10:30 p.m. Gotta get this job done, and I could use the Christmas money.

On the way in, after the temperature checks, they led us through the basement where the absentee counting board will be working. It’s already set up for it:

That is a big, big space. During the auto show, that’s where they put the exhibits where cars are actually driven. And it’s full, wall-to-wall. I figured my job would be done after we deliver the ballots to the receiving board on election night, and that it would be late – I already told my Deadline boss not to expect me before noon on Nov. 4. But it occurs to me this absentee counting could go on for several days. I might put my name in for that job, too; make hay while the sun shines.

All of which is to say, you might not see me much this week, evenings being my blogging time. Maybe we can arrange some photo posts, perhaps a gallery entitled, Nance uses a Windows computer for the first time since 1997. I believe that’s how long it’s been. I checked to see if the shutdown command was still Start, and it is; ah, good times. Don’t even get me started on the no-button PC trackpad, on which the left side of the thing functions as the left mouse button, but the line of demarcation isn’t clear, and not intuitive at all, and grrr. I lack the muscle memory for this OS, and I’m too old to learn.

In my time spent rattling around the QVF, I had spells when I could think about the governor and the kidnap plot. Fallout continues to rain from the skies on that, and will for some time. However, I’m grateful for the state ACLU spokesman for putting together this Twitter thread, which gives you an idea what it’s been like here since the pandemic restrictions started:

Lee Chatfield is the House speaker, who wrote an “open letter” to the governor over the weekend whining that she didn’t tell the legislature about the threats to the Capitol. The obvious reason: That’s the FBI’s job, not hers. The unspoken reason: Because it’s a fair bet they would leak that news to their lunatic networks, and the gang, dumb though they may be, would scatter. That takes some gall, when you think about it.

I’ve always said the open letter is the lowest form of column-writing, and also in communications in general. Isn’t this just right-wing virtue signaling, as they like to say? Seems that way to me.

If you’re not on Twitter, here it all is in one place.

So I’m off to consider dinner, and try to plan some chores around this overstuffed week. Be good to one another, and remember – voting absentee or by mail is your right.

Posted at 6:18 pm in Current events | 140 Comments
 

Bonus blog.

I have this friend who in the last five years spent three of them living in France. The relationship he moved there for fell apart, and he moved back. He bought a house out of tax foreclosure in a working-class suburb, and is living there now. He said one of the biggest shocks, readjusting to Michigan life, is going to one of the many big-box grocery/everything stores here — Walmart, Meijer, etc. — and seeing a certain sort of man.

“They’re big guys, overweight by 60 pounds or more. They wear these long shorts year-round. They have mullets, or their hair is shaved close on the side but long on the top and back. And they all have the same beard.”

Oh, like…maybe these guys?

Or these guys?

Or maybe these guys?

Of the four guys in that pic, Nos. 1 and 3 from left to right were among the crowd of 13 arrested in the plot to kidnap the governor and/or the plot to storm the Capitol and start a civil war. As well as all the others whose photos are above.

Someone asked me to explain what’s happening in Michigan. The best I can come up with is a timeline of sorts. Contraction of manufacturing economy > loss of well-paying jobs > population exodus > social safety net gets holes > state falls from top-10 median income in U.S. to something like 37 > more population loss. Etc. etc. One day you look up and all that’s left are these guys. They work, sure — those guns and “tactical gear” they all hoard aren’t cheap. But something went wrong in their heads, or in the social contract, or somewhere. Mike Pence would say they’ve lost touch with God. Someone else would say it’s video games. I think maybe it has something to do with the cheese powder and artificial coloring that makes Cheetos flamin’ hot and Mountain Dew Red Zone. Some of them must have wives and girlfriends; do they not get enough sex? Or is the culture they found such a comfortable home in simply irretrievably broken?

After the incident described in the senator’s tweet above, the Michigan Capitol Commission took up the matter of weapons in the state’s Capitol building. (They set the building rules.) After months of wrangling, they punted to the legislature. Which has done nothing, as it’s dominated and led by rural Republicans for whom the right to take an enormous rifle capable of killing an elephant up into the visitors’ gallery of a legislative chamber is sacrosanct, and Sen. Polehanki ought to put on her big-girl panties.

The fact is, Michigan is two states. There are the urban areas, where there’s work and culture and the things that draw people. And there are the rural areas, where it’s beautiful and wild and the jobs continue to trickle away. Although these guys weren’t country boys, necessarily. Fox, the ringleader of sorts, was from Grand Rapids. He’s the one who had everyone meet in the basement of his (unnamed) business, “which was accessed through a trap door hidden under a rug on the main floor.” This lunatic was really champing at the bit, too: “On June 25, 2020, Fox live-streamed a video to a private Facebook group that included (an informant), in which he complained about the judicial system and the State of Michigan controlling the opening of gyms. Fox referred to Governor Whitmer as ‘this tyrant bitch,’ and stated, ‘I don’t know, boys, we gotta do something. You guys link with me on our other location system, give me some ideas of what we can do.'”

As for the rest of it, well, you can read the news. So many details. As my editor said today, it’s like these guys thought the governor answers her own door at her second home. Like they can watch her open that door, grab her, somehow make their escape via water (they were looking into getting a boat, somehow). They thought 200 good men could help them storm the Capitol, take it, and start a civil war. And they thought they could get a Realtor to show them around the gov’s summer-home neighborhood, for reconnaissance purposes. Anyone who has even looked for a $200,000 house knows you don’t get a Realtor’s time without pre-approval for financing, and now imagine in the gov’s summer-home district, in Elk Rapids, where summer homes cost half a mil or more. Looking like one of those idiots.

In other words, they’d had too many Red Bulls and flamin’ hot snacks and reverted to type.

What a crazy goddamn day. So what’s happening in Michigan? Simple: We’ve gone mad with the rest of the country. Your state’s day will come, too. This one was ours.

Posted at 9:16 pm in Current events | 61 Comments
 

Not one of those.

I know we’ve all had a good laff over it for the last four years, but I’ve come to the conclusion Mike Pence isn’t gay. After watching him last night, it’s just so obvious to me, although I fully and happily admit I’ve been wrong about these things before. But let’s look at the “evidence,” such as it is:

The Mother thing. I hate to break it to you, but I’ve heard this many times in my life, especially in Indiana. I always thought it was a farm/country thing, and the farm is never far away in Indiana, even in the cities. When you add children to a marriage, your role in the group changes, and it goes like this: “Ask your mom” > “Ask mom” > “Mom.” Or Mother, or whatever. I know couples who call one another Mom and Dad with a certain ironic twist, certainly. Yeah, you’d think that when it’s just the two of you, the names come back out, but given the way people talk to their pets, I really don’t find this so alarming, or even telling.

The Never-Alone-With-a-Woman thing. Given that the Pences are pretty hardcore Christians, again: Expected. Plus, I can totally see a little mouse like Karen telling her husband, who resembles a Ken doll left out in the sun too long, that he’s SUCH A HUNK that she just can’t trust ANY woman around him. And I can totally see how that husband, thus flattered, would make such a promise. And keep it.

The most persuasive piece of evidence is the story Karen told, about how she got so tired of waiting for Mike to pop the question that she had a piece of jewelry made, engraved “yes.” But ultimately, meh. Lots of guys are clueless that way.

Also, he lacks what I’ve come to think of as the Tell for the deeply closeted Hoosier man, i.e., some mania to sublimate/cover his tracks. Collecting something. An enthusiasm for theater and art so avid it leads him to New York and Chicago every other weekend, it seems. There was the judge in Steuben County, a Republican but you already guessed that, who collected political ephemera and took long overseas — far overseas — vacations. He died at the height of the AIDS epidemic of, as I recall from his obit, “a wasting disease he contracted from something he ate on one of his many world travels.”

At least he didn’t kill anyone, not with violence, anyway. That wasn’t unheard-of in the Hoosier state, either, as Alex can tell you. God, those stories.

What Pence is, though — and this is something I wrote on Facebook today — is a creature of talk radio. Everyone forgets about his background as a talk host. He was a mediocre congressman and on his way to being a one-term governor (so I’m told), and most people concentrate on that when telling his story, but trust me, the key to understanding him is: Talk radio. Remember how impressed some were when Tim Kaine didn’t destroy him in the 2016 debate? How surprised everyone was? It was all talk radio skills. The voice, the delivery, the artful sidestep, the comfort in front of a microphone. This guy did the deep dive, four years ago.

I used the word oleaginous on Facebook. I stand by it.

So.

I’ve heard some people marveling at Trump’s jettisoning of the stimulus deal. I think Josh Marshall said it best:

What else? Here are a couple of stories to consider. One is from my shop, but not mine: A look at the “politically disengaged” black voter in Detroit. These are people who are halfhearted, or no-hearted, voters, who don’t see the point of voting when nothing ever changes for them.

And the kids-in-cages story from the NYT earlier this week. It’ll turn your stomach:

Government prosecutors reacted with alarm at the separation of children from their parents during a secret 2017 pilot program along the Mexican border in Texas. “We have now heard of us taking breastfeeding defendant moms away from their infants,” one government prosecutor wrote to his superiors. “I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log.”

Stillborn or not, these people have to go. And they should go to The Hague, to be tried in the International Criminal Court. Doubt that’ll happen, but it should.

Also: Holy fucking shit.

OK, that’s it for the week, I think. Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back when it’s done.

Posted at 12:43 pm in Current events | 22 Comments
 

The wringer.

Got the ol’ mammogram today. Never my favorite medical checkup of the year, but since they’ve gone digital, the tech always lets me look at the images so I can marvel at My Miraculous Body, Breast Division. And it’s less painful now that I don’t have to worry about the appointment falling during the time when the Miraculous Body turns the Breast Division into a sore thumb, so to speak. It’s just four uncomfortable squeezes that last a few seconds.

The clinic was running late, though, and I didn’t get in until 25 minutes past my appointment. I was feeling a little testy about this, probably displaced testiness from current events, transplanted into an area where I’m normally very chill. The tech apologized for the lateness: “The earlier patient got some bad news, and needed some extra time to get herself together.”

That was a shaming moment, right there. So OK, then: It was a nice day, I rode my bike in the mild temperatures to the clinic and had to wait an extra 25 minutes, during which I was able to scroll the nation’s greatest news sources on a miracle device I carry in my hip pocket. Plus I got to look at the insides of my boobs. Testiness is reconsidered. Count the blessings instead.

Otherwise, it was a quiet Tuesday, although I woke up and doomscrolled at 4 a.m., which I really shouldn’t do, but it’s either that or stare at the ceiling. Watching the president heave for breath last night is probably what did it. This barking asshole. This pestilence. October is going to be the longest month ever, like a dream where the escape door keeps retreating into the distance. Then, should Biden win, the transition period will last 17 years.

Ugh. Oh, well. RIP Eddie Van Halen. I was never an enormous fan of that cock-rock stuff, but I always turned up “And The Cradle Will Rock” when it came on in the car. Sixty-five is too young to die, said the nearly 63-year-old.

Posted at 5:53 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 60 Comments
 

Waiting for the next chapter.

Driving crosstown after an Eastern Market stop on Saturday. I had just had my hair cut, so I was feeling the blowout and the sunshine and everything else. Stopped at a light. There was a young man holding something…a sign? No, a painting. Median-strip hustling is pretty common here, but I couldn’t figure what he was selling.

He walked past my car. I rolled down the window.

“Are you selling that painting?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

It wasn’t great, but a long way from terrible, sort of Thomas Hart Benton with about 20 percent of the technique, but he had the eye. A man playing an undulating keyboard with a woman hovering nearby, kind of like Lauren Bacall and Harry Truman in that photo, but more abstract.

“How much?”

“Two hundred dollars,” he replied.

“Sorry, I don’t have that much cash, but I wish you luck. Keep at it,” I said. The light still hadn’t changed.

“I always need money for art supplies,” he said. “A dollar would help.”

Reader, I gave him five. It was a perfect October day, after all, and of all the things I’ve been asked to help finance at stoplights, art supplies was a first. Points for originality.

The rest of the day, I played. Picked up a friend and we speculated on the work we’d have to do if the president croaked overnight.

“It’s going to be a 4 a.m. call, I just know it,” he said. “And I’ll have to write the obit.”

So we drafted a lead there at the table, in a heated restaurant tent with flow-through ventilation, built out onto the road, because of the pandemic that is still with us, because of the incompetence and failed leadership of the man whose death – from the same disease – we were anticipating. It was sort of meta. I went first:

“The improbable presidency of Donald Trump, a failed businessman who played a successful one on television, ended in reality-TV fashion early Sunday morning, as the 45th president succumbed to a disease he spent most of the year downplaying. He was 74.”

(I don’t know why obits always have the age as the second sentence. Probably because like I just did, writers try to cram everything in the first sentence.)

We went back and forth like that for a while, but I told him no way would that p.o.s. die overnight. He needs to survive to see an overwhelming election loss, then go to prison, then die of something like flesh-eating bacteria. As he has so much flesh to eat, it would take some time.

I believe we also discussed my idea for a new children’s TV show. My friend does a lot of dog sitting for a beautiful collie, whose coat is mostly black. His owner said when she walks him in Detroit, often people will see him and say, as they pass: “Hey, it’s black Lassie.” I said we need a new version of “Lassie,” set in the city instead of the country. “Black Lassie” would protect children from street dangers, not falling down wells or getting swept into fast-moving streams. Timmy, needless to say, would be black or brown (and not named Timmy).

This weekend I learned this dog lives with an all-white cat that sometimes climbs on top of him and naps in his abundant coat. SIDEKICK, I hollered. Black Lassie and his cat friend would talk to one another in their secret language and use their keen senses and animal skills to gather intelligence.

I feel very strongly this has potential. Look at these two movie stars and tell me I’m wrong:

That was Saturday. Sunday was rainy and gray, but I got my fall clothes rotated into the main closet and I tried to be ruthless in culling the summer stuff. I have no idea what I’ll be wearing this fall; I saw non-athleisure bottoms referred to as “hard pants” the other day. I’m on a crusade to lose the few pandemic pounds I gained, with all the tiresome stuff that goes with it — My Fitness Pal, mindful eating, blah blah blah. When I lose these six pounds, I’m going back into hard pants. I can’t live my life in quasi-pajamas. They’re comfy, but not conducive to my work style. Goddamn this stupid fucking president and his incompetent administration, anyway.

On Friday, the state Supreme Court overturned the governor’s emergency authority, and the GOP Senate leader stepped up to say no more mask mandates statewide, and that we’d just “have to learn to live with” this disease. Local entities – counties, cities – could do what they want, but no more of this top-down shit. Wonderful. A state version of Jared Kushner’s national strategy. Which has worked so well. Because no one travels between states, or within states. I can tell you this right now: I will not shop in, or otherwise patronize any business that doesn’t require masks, and enforce it. I want to wear hard pants again, and before 2025 or so.

This stupid country, I swear.

OK, time to put this to bed. Tomorrow is Monday and I hope I can start it off right.

Posted at 9:50 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 57 Comments
 

I give up.

I thought we might have a day to discuss Melania’s feelings about Christmas decorations before something else barreled into the center ring, but apparently we’re to be denied even this.

POTUS and FLOTUS have The Bug. The weekend awaits. See you on the other side. Discuss.

Posted at 4:55 am in Uncategorized | 83 Comments