Self-editing, or the lack thereof.

Looks like national humiliation hasn’t curbed Tim Goeglein’s thirst to be A Writer. The Journal-Gazette carried another of his contributions over the weekend; hat tip to Alex for passing it along. Ahem:

What gives Fort Wayne its distinct sense of place and definition? What makes it a unique locale?

What about any city could never be part of a franchise of any other time or era?

Monuments and memorials of surpassing beauty certainly cohere that sense of place. So do beautiful buildings of distinction and proportion. A city’s cultural institutions play a large role in the composition of a city’s personality, tempo and style.

There are other works of art not normally put into a category of high achievement but which seem to live with us as things elegant but easily taken for granted or overlooked like a strand of pearls or a fine-cut stone or a filigreed lamppost on a shady, quiet city street.

Oh, god. Do we have to do this again? Monuments and memorials are close enough to being synonyms that you can drop one. Certainly, like most adverbs, is disposable. The second graf seems to be what he’s getting at — to put it more simply, let’s make a fuss over the little things. So where are we going, Tim?

In Fort Wayne, there are two neighborhoods, one south and one north, that deserve our celebration and further attention – as if they are great paintings or meaningful poems. They are probably irreplaceable and certainly matchlessly noble, grand and even lush.

I knew exactly which ones he was going to single out — Old Mill Road and Forest Park Boulevard — immediately, and why? Because they are constantly celebrated and paid attention to, “like great paintings or meaningful poems,” etc. etc. They are two neighborhoods with no shortage of blah-blah written about them, so of course those are the ones Tim singles out:

In summer, these inviting and lovely neighborhoods offer leafy coolness against the background of their shaded homes. Their canopies of trees, well-clipped lawns and beautiful old stonework seem to offer us a welcome respite and refreshment on otherwise molten days.

In fall, their autumnal and kaleidoscopic colors are inviting and form a tapestry of reds, yellows, oranges and golden hues.

If you order an ice cream sundae at Tim’s soda fountain, it will come with syrup, sprinkles, nuts, a cherry and I dunno, maybe a bow and a hat. It would be inviting and lovely, leafy and shaded, with canopies of trees and “well-clipped lawns,” whatever that means.

It goes on at some length. I am done making fun of it. Although I will say this: Rarely has a prose style so suited the human being from which it comes. The first time I saw a video of Tim speaking, and this was well after the incident here, I was shocked. As our dear lost Coozledad said, “That guy makes Fred Rogers look like Dick Butkus.”

Well, I am sure he’s happy. He certainly landed on his feet.

So, Wednesday nearly upon us. Our trip to France grows closer. Starting to check the weather reports, look at local listings. Downloaded the Paris Metro app. Thinking about maybe taking a cooking class. It’s gonna be great.

Of course, I hope it actually happens, too. Delta could shut everything down, but fingers are crossed. Certainly I don’t want to only travel within the borders of this batshit country for another year:

I guess we’ll see. In today’s news: Another billionaire in almost-space, riding in a penis-shaped rocket. Covid stirs anew. Rand Paul got his ass kicked by Dr. Fauci (again). In other words, just another day in late-stage, climate-meltdown capitalism. How’s your week going?

Posted at 8:59 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 79 Comments
 

Two good days.

I wish getting too much sun wasn’t so bad for you — I’d do it every available weekend. Getting too much sun is one of those uniquely summer pleasures, especially when you don’t get burned, just mildly/somewhat irradiated. Kinda glow-y. Tired.

It finally stopped raining midday on Saturday, but before that there was another deluge, and another flood. Our basement stayed dry, and for the life of me I don’t know why. Maybe we sacrificed a chicken or something, but we were fortunate again, while people in Grosse Pointe Park had poop water in their basements, some for the second time in three weeks, some for the third. I can’t imagine how terrible that was. Boy did it come down Friday — another inch-plus downpour. We’d planned a staff get-together on the roof of our editor’s apartment building, but it was washed out, so we relocated to his place. We did go up at the end of the night, when it was down to a drizzle and we could enjoy the view:

That’s the DIA at bottom left, the library at bottom right. Between them, Woodward Avenue. On the far horizon at left, the RenCen. Far horizon right, Motor City Casino, Wayne State’s Old Main and the Ambassador Bridge twinkling off in the distance. Rural landscapes are pretty, but I love a sparkling city, even one (especially one) as messy as Detroit. In between, we lit the shabbos candles and told stories about the newspaper business when it was fun. It sure isn’t fun now. On the other hand, I have one foot out and will have the other one out sooner rather than later. I’m not happy to be aging, but the timing, in this case, isn’t terrible.

Alan’s sister came up Saturday, and we had another smallish dinner party, including Kate and some other friends. Today: Sailing, capped off with some pool time under a hazy sun. I could have skipped my Vitamin D this morning. Hence the irradiated feeling.

So another good weekend in the books, a reminder that time is precious and one should spend it well.

Meanwhile, more hair-whitening news on the ol’ teletype machine. Dateline Pittsburgh: A woman who’d been abducted two months ago managed to leave a detailed note in a public bathroom, giving the address of her captive prison and promising it was no joke. But when police arrived…

Scott police officers went to the apartment address listed in the note on the day the first note was discovered, a criminal complaint said, but no one answered. The officers said that they could hear furniture moving inside the apartment toward the front door, but because they did not have a warrant, they could not force their way inside.

They later called a cell phone connected to the man who was holding her. He refused to let them speak to her privately, insisting the call be on speaker. She told police she was fine, no problem, on vacation, even. Then the next day, a second note was found:

The second note said that the writer had heard police at the door of the apartment July 8 and added that the abuse had not stopped.

This time they came back with a warrant, arrested the guy and found the woman. She told them:

During interviews with police, the woman described months of abuse; Mr. Brewer had allegedly punched and stabbed her and cut off clumps of her hair, the complaint said.

Mr. Brewer had also attempted to strangle her on multiple occasions, she said, and he had raped her. According to the complaint, police saw red marks, cuts and bruises on the woman and said that her hair was cut unevenly.

So of course he had to stand before a judge at his arraignment:

On Monday, Mr. Brewer was released after posting 10 percent of the $5,000 bail set by North Side Magisterial District Judge Robert Ravenstahl Jr.

We can all do the math on what 10 percent of $5,000 is. Five hundred bucks to be free on pending charges of sexual assault, strangulation, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint and simple assault. I wonder what it would have been if he’d killed her. Probably at least $600.

I look forward to hearing more about this one.

And I look forward to a good week. With no more rain.

Posted at 9:47 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 31 Comments
 

Midsummer.

Oh, I have been a lazy blogger of late, and for the millionth time, I apologize. Part of it is summer, part of it is that I’ve been reading these excerpts from the new crop of Trump books, and it’s summoning my PTSD. The Michael Wolff book, pfft – it looks like crap. But the one by the two WashPost reporters, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, that one looks pretty amazing, in a wreck-on-the-freeway kind of way. A couple of times this week I had to stop reading and just drink a glass of water. Don’t know if I can take a whole book’s worth.

Today’s excerpt was particularly unnerving. Especially since it’s obvious Ivanka was a source, but fuck her – these people will never wash the blood off their hands. Which they shouldn’t, ever.

It’s upsetting. But I guess it’s something we have to get out of our system.

And current events notwithstanding, it’s been a great summer so far. So much visiting, so much seeing people. I mentioned the Shadow Show return to the stage last weekend, seen here:

And I have some good reading material, thanks to America’s librarian:

I got “Leave the World Behind” out of the library. It’s OK, but the verdict is still out.

So now the weekend has rolled around again. Company’s coming, two kinds. It’s going to rain, but it’ll be a good time. You try to have some, too.

Posted at 9:22 pm in Current events | 36 Comments
 

Just keep going, Sir Richard.

Generally speaking, I have no problem with the weird things people spend their money on. I reserve the right to have opinions about it, but your money is your business, etc. etc. Then I saw a photo on Twitter of Richard Branson riding a bike to his zillion-dollar space flight, escorted by a matched pair of Range Rover SUVs, and thought: Jeez, what a douchebag. The copy on that Space.com story didn’t help:

In the video, Branson cheerfully parks the bike, hands it off to a staff member and exchanges excited hugs with the rest of the Unity 22 passengers.

I remember reading that Jann Wenner and his wife always took a professional photographer with them on vacation, to document the memories. Today I hope those photos are stored in a damp basement somewhere that will soon flood, because there are rich people and then there are rich assholes, and there’s a marker for one, right there.

Yesterday was an overcast, dreary day, but I’d have thought it no matter what my mood was. And my mood wasn’t bad — it was a good weekend. Kate’s band got back on stage at a local bar, it wasn’t too hot, and nothing flooded. It felt like the BeforeTimes, which I guess we’re kinda back to, at least those of us who live in blue/purple states and have been fully vaccinated. That said, I’m glad the show Saturday night was outdoors. Damn kids and their we’ll-live-forever attitudes.

I had plans to go on at some length today, but now it’s Monday, a federal judge is holding a hearing on possible sanctions for Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and other Trump lawyers who filed those ridiculous suits last fall. And this tweet just came up:

So I may have to peel off for this. Ha ha ha ha ha, repeat one million times.

Posted at 9:58 am in Current events | 88 Comments
 

Urgent bulletin.

What’s the worst social-media platform? Easy: Facebook. Stupid content, stupid people, terrible management. But they have most of the money and the Microsoft strategy: When a competitor threatens, buy ’em. Or, in the case of Substack, imitate ’em. The first editions — I guess that’s the word — of Facebook Bulletin, its newsletter platform, dropped last month, with three star writers.

Malcolm Gladwell (snicker), Erin Andrews and…drumroll…Mitch Albom.

In a way, I can’t complain; one of the last times I took a whack at Mitch I suggested he write more about Haiti and his work there, and that’s apparently the focus of his bulletins. I regret to inform you he is not living up to my hopeful expectations. So far, in three bulletins, we’ve learned that the children are sweet and loving and that the orphanage he runs there is an oasis. I was hoping for something a little …grittier, maybe? The poverty of Haiti is no secret, but I want to know how a high-profile American writer’s orphanage operates in a country like that — how the government treats them, what the government is like, even. All of which is to say, I don’t think he’s going to share his thoughts on the assassination of the president.

As for Gladwell, well. In this piece, a series of sloppy wet kisses for autonomous cars — which, sorry, have a long way to go to match his enthusiasm — he does not mention anywhere that he’s a paid shill for General Motors. That’s a long way from ethical journalism, but he sure knows how to tap multiple revenue streams.

I haven’t even looked at Erin Andrews’.

Speaking of writers who have displeased me, I did perk up my ears when I saw that Gary Abernathy, the southwest Ohioan perplexingly employed as a contributor to the Washington Post, decided to take on his fellow Buckeye, J.D. Vance. Boy, is that guy’s utter humiliation something to see, or what. Abernathy is kinder, but maybe not:

As he gets rolling, Vance seems to be struggling with who to be. As Politico reported Monday, Vance said he regrets now-deleted tweets from 2016 “calling Trump ‘reprehensible’ because of the former president’s views toward ‘Immigrants, Muslims, etc.’” Vance recently trekked to Mar-a-Lago for an audience with Trump, as have others in the race. But the about-face smacks of pandering and no matter what he does now, his old tweets will undoubtedly be featured in attack ads ad nauseam.

…According to one source, Vance currently places third in internal polling behind Mandel and Timken, and many think Timken is best positioned to receive Trump’s endorsement, which would likely be the ballgame in the GOP primary. But other hopefuls abound, including business executives Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno, with more considering the race. Congressman Tim Ryan is the only Democrat to have declared so far. Vance may be the best-known of them all nationally, but that just isn’t enough against longtime Ohio political players.

Yeah, he’s in third place “according to one source,” by about a mile. Josh Mandel has 35 percent and Vance, about 6 percent. Hillbilly meltdown.

Want to read some fine lines? Try this, from Texas Monthly:

In the year 1190, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, amid an arduous overland trek to Jerusalem, arrived with his army at the Saleph River, in what is today southern Turkey. He drowned in waist-high water, according to some accounts, weighed down by his armor. Crusades are a dangerous business.

Sidney Powell, crusading lawyer of Dallas, is drowning much closer to home. It’s late May, Memorial Day weekend, and she’s speaking to a crowd of nearly a thousand self-described truth seekers. “Truth is the armor of God,” she tells the rapt audience at Eddie Deen’s Ranch, a kitschy wedding and event venue in an awkward corner of the city’s gargantuan convention-center complex. “Deception is destroying this country,” she says. Heathens and unbelievers are “terrified, absolutely terrified of the truth.”

Finally, want to have a little fun during spelling-bee week? Do a personal spelling bee, via the NYT. I got 13 out of 15. Best of luck.

Now, let’s enjoy the weekend. RIP to L.A. Mary’s Smokey.

Posted at 9:33 pm in Current events | 64 Comments
 

A steamy blur.

Guess I’ve been scarce around here. Guess my calendar is all messed up. What day is it? Why is it 90 degrees outside? Why haven’t I been outside all day? (Because it’s 90 degrees.) And so on.

Also, there was a party, and too many drinks and snacks and birthday cake. I’m in the mood for a week of eggs, lean meats, leafy greens and nothing more exciting than ice-cold Topo Chico. Also, somewhat cooler temperatures. Friday was perfect, though, and a friend and I went over to Ann Arbor to welcome a mutual back to Michigan. It was nice to see the ol’ town again, especially without those annoying students. But I need to rest up before Shadow Show’s first show since March 2020, which is coming this weekend. Looking forward to that, oh yes I am.

So far, the summer has been pretty much exactly what I wanted — social, outdoorsy, and the hell with the housework, although I did clean the bathrooms today because I HAVE STANDARDS. But it’s more important to see people again, so that’s what I’m doing. And it’s great.

I’m so tired. How about the weekend in pictures? Here’s Friday’s view from the pool deck:

Less boxing this summer, more swimming.

Sunday I took a bike ride to my friend’s new eight-lot planned farmette in the city. It’s slow going, but in a year, it’ll be aces:

We should buy that old corner store, open an after-hours venue. Perfect neighborhood for it.

Met this dog at the Sunday party. I wanted to steal her. Look at that eye patch:

Any bloggage? Let’s see…ah, that greasy little shit J.D. Vance is falling in line nicely. I guess that’s enough irritation to get us into Tuesday.

Posted at 8:45 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments
 

Wet and wetter.

While the rest of you were discussing heat in the Pacific Northwest, we had our own extreme weather here – 6.5 inches of rain in 24 hours, which left the whole city and much of the suburbs under water. Probably the worst were the freeways, where the underpass pumps failed in large numbers. People had to abandon their cars and now, 36 hours later, large stretches of the freeways still look like this:

This looks like it was taken closer to sunrise, not long after the worst of it passed:

And how did the Nall-Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere fare? Amazingly, astoundingly well. Two floor drains puddled and then receded. Zero damage. The kind of luck that makes you think you live under a lucky star, or something. The hand of fate spared us, this time. In Grosse Pointe Park, which is connected to a pumping station that failed, they weren’t so lucky. Basements were inundated – floating furniture, ruined electronics, the whole bit. We helped some friends pump out a minor flood in their own basement (6 or 7 inches), and it was just like being back in the Fort, I’m telling you.

It also reminded me to do two things in the next few weeks: Have our drains rootered, just because it’s been a while; and move stuff up off the floors and lower levels in the basement. It’s only a matter of time.

More pictures? Sure. These were the freeways Saturday morning:

Every few years, Grosse Pointe does one of those public art projects where they give blank objects to artists and let them paint them, then sell them as a fundraiser. Since we’ve been there, they’ve done frogs, dogs, fish and this year, hearts. Businesses buy them and put them outside their businesses. This one was bolted to the wall of this office building, but when the water rose, that fish obviously saw his opportunity to make an escape:

And with that, I just got a text asking for help clearing a sodden basement, so I think I’ll go polish my karma a little. You all stay dry out there, or cool, or otherwise adapted to whatever apocalyptic weather event is befalling your part of the world today.

Posted at 9:57 am in Current events, Detroit life | 40 Comments
 

A different tongue.

I stumbled into watching this show on Apple+. “Physical.” It stars Rose Byrne and it’s set in the ’80s, about a woman who finds her calling in teaching aerobics. (Remember aerobics, ladies? Grapevine left, grapevine right, all that? Ah, memories.) The main action is set in 1986 and 1981, and I keep spotting what I’m calling linguistic anachronisms, i.e. people using words and phrases that they didn’t use in 1981. Hey, I was there. I know.

Such as? The main character says to herself, “I will eat clean,” an expression that is very, very recent, not 40 years old. Her husband, a professor at a crappy college, has one of his students as the last guest at a party and tells his wife, privately, “I think she wants to hook up with us,” another wrong-o. A 1981 man would have used the term “menage a trois,” the term of the era; hookup is a hip-hop era term. Some surfers call her a “bee-yotch,” another nope from me. And one more: “Impactful,” which is so recent it still sets my teeth on edge.

I guess there are two schools of thought about this. One is that, as a writer, you want to reach the audience you have, so if it takes eating clean and bee-yotch to do it, no one really cares. The other is that a period piece is a period piece, and people need to speak in the language of the time you’re portraying. (Except in strange in-between spaces that are almost a form of magical realism; I tried to watch the Emily Dickinson thing, also on Apple+, and the language was so jarring I just couldn’t, as the kids say. I couldn’t handle Emily telling her pals, “You’re so extra.”)

But it bugs me. “Mad Men” was famously loyal to all that stuff. There was some hoo-ha early on where Don was wearing a watch in 1960 that didn’t hit the market until 1961, and I recall Laura Lippman saying something about a character noting a driving time between Manhattan and Rehoboth Beach that was insanely incorrect, but I only noticed a few linguistic anachronisms that took me out of the action, and now I can’t even remember them.

One final note about “Physical” – the husband character loses his job at the crappy college and dispiritedly tells his wife the only school that seems to be interested in him is Denison. “In Ohio?” the wife says, with the same misery in her voice. OK, sure, there’s snow, but given that he’s a student-fucking sleaze bag, ending up at Denison would be like driving your car off the road and landing in the master suite at the Ritz-Carlton.

Pretty dumb show, yes.

Speaking of Laura Lippman, I have her new book and would rather be reading it than doing this. So I leave you with just this, an advance look at yet another Trump book, this one about the pandemic:

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as White House officials debated whether to bring infected Americans home for care, President Donald Trump suggested his own plan for where to send them, eager to suppress the numbers on U.S. soil.

“Don’t we have an island that we own?” the president reportedly asked those assembled in the Situation Room in February 2020, before the U.S. outbreak would explode. “What about Guantánamo?”

“We import goods,” Trump specified, lecturing his staff. “We are not going to import a virus.”

Kiiiiinda wish we’d known this earlier, but OK, whatever. Guantanamo. I ask you.

OK, one more. Tonight’s dinner, an asparagus/ham/shallot/mushroom souffle, and the best one yet:

It was delicious.

Posted at 8:53 pm in Current events, Television | 81 Comments
 

Wakeful.

God, my insomnia is SO bad of late. I was having luck for a while with just going limp — no melatonin, no cannabis, just trusting that my body would take what it needs. News alert: My body does not take what it needs. It will sometimes fall asleep for 40 minutes, then wake up for three hours. Last night was a rare can’t-get-to-sleep-at-all episode. I took melatonin. I took CBD. I took a bowl of cereal after 90 minutes of staring at the ceiling didn’t work. I did a crossword puzzle and finally got to sleep about 1:30 a.m. Awake at 6, back to sleep 20 minutes later, up for good at 7:30.

That’s not good sleep. When that happens I don’t get exercise, although I dress for it in hopes an opportunity will present itself. It didn’t happen today. It wasn’t a wasted day, but it was an unpleasant one.

It’s been hot, so the windows are closed, but sometimes, on nights like this, I’ll listen to the night sounds. My takeaway: It’s gonna be a wild summer, based on the squealing tires I hear, as well as the gunfire. So much gunfire! And yes, I know the difference between a semiauto and firecrackers. I think about all the people out there, going about their business, firing weapons, squealing tires, doing other things. Trying to sleep.

Because of my irritation of late, I read this story of Caitlyn Jenner’s gubernatorial run with some interest, particularly this graf, which I think is the nut of it:

Celebrities always have played a role in American politics, and no state has offered as many notable examples as California, with Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger morphing of course from Hollywood stars into public sector execs. But at a charged cultural and political juncture defined by Donald Trump, the most infamous entertainment-industry outsider ever, politics is no longer simply some notional lark of a second career but rather more and more a central means of creating or perpetuating renown, a newly altered electoral environment in which athletes, actors and other A-listers float bids to stoke fame.

The other day I tweeted that Kyrsten Sinema appears to have gone into politics for the sole purpose of displaying her impressive arms and shoulders on a national stage. I don’t understand why anyone would run for office and then simply fail to show up for important votes because oops I just couldn’t, that day. This is very dangerous for democracy, and a direct extension of the “vote for me, I’m not a career politician” trope we’ve been living under for 40-some years. Caitlyn Jenner has offered virtually nothing concrete in terms of policy ideas or solutions for the state she wants to govern. She does seem to be a bottomless, attention-sucking maw, however.

I looked, for several long minutes that I’ll never get back, at the main photo on that Politico story. I realize Jenner has had quite a bit of facial feminization surgery, and that the picture itself is quite stylized, but the weirdness of it is quite disconcerting. Who is this person? Does she even know herself? I doubt it.

And with that, my patience has reached its end. Time to do some skin care and, as the Detroit city motto says (in Latin), hope for better things. At least tomorrow.

Posted at 8:47 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 64 Comments
 

Solid.

Yeesh, what a weekend. Three day/nights of drinking. I don’t really overdo it anymore – a simple hangover, these days, feels like it requires hospitalization – but even a night of two, three, four drinks leaves me a little spongey the next day, and this weekend it was Friday/Saturday/Sunday, due to various social events.

The last was a fundraiser, held outdoors on a mid-80s day, in blazing sun. Started at one venue, a microbrewery, and moved to a second, a beer bar. Both great places, and one cold beer is great on a hot day, but if the taco truck is late arriving and you don’t get any food in your stomach before the second one, oy. I finally got some chow, chugged two tall soda waters, considered sitting and letting the magic of nutrition and hydration work, but ultimately made a quiet French exit, got on the bike and rode home. Weekend is over, dude, and I’m glad of it.

With all this partying, it was difficult to keep up with the news this weekend. I understand Trump did an appearance somewhere, and it was the usual. Also, Clarence Williams III left us. I was shocked that he was 81, which means he was about 30 when he started playing Linc Hayes in “The Mod Squad.” Michael Cole is a year younger, and Peggy Lipton, who died a couple years ago, was the closest to the age the three characters were supposed to be in the show, which I always figured was early 20s. According to Wikipedia:

Each of these characters represented mainstream culture’s principal fears regarding youth in the era: long-haired rebel Pete Cochran was evicted from his wealthy parents’ Beverly Hills home, then arrested and put on probation after he stole a car; Lincoln Hayes, who came from a family of 13 children, was arrested in the Watts riots, one of the longest and most violent riots in Los Angeles history; flower child Julie Barnes, the “canary with a broken wing, “was arrested for vagrancy after running away from her prostitute mother’s San Francisco home.”

All three a little long in the tooth to be in a mod squad, but then, that’s why they call it acting.

Just one bit of bloggage today, as I’m still rehydrating: You know this is what’s going to happen, right? We know this. So what are we going to do about it?

Posted at 8:38 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments