Alice, again.

Every time I get irritable about terrible health quackery peddled on the internet, something happens to remind me that newspapers were really on the bleeding edge of this stuff. Behold:


I felt like sending away for some, just so I can see how those pads manage to pull all that gunk out of the soles of your feet. Toxins!

Another mixed grill of bloggage today, because my life is just that boring.

You know a city has arrived jumped the shark when the people who left a hundred years ago come back and everybody makes a big stupid fuss over it. In this case: Alice Cooper and John Varvatos. The former called the latter “pure Detroit,” and delivered this stunningly dumb line, although he gets a pass because he was the paid entertainment and it’s not like we expect pith or intelligence:

“This is great,” Cooper said before his performance, “because Varvatos is pure Detroit, and this is the beginning of building this downtown area the right way. The restaurants are all here. People are coming into these old buildings and they’re opening these really cool restaurants, which is going to draw people and they’re gonna start drawing in the boutiques and everything, and pretty soon it’s going to be a very hip city.”

Back to Arizona on the first flight, I expect.

Evildoers II: Change one letter, go back to war! Coming soon to a campaign near you!

Alan, today at breakfast: “In any other city, this would be on Page One.” In Detroit? Page three: It takes cops five tries to find a body in a house. The house was being looted the whole time. Now there’s a contrast with that gala boutique opening, ain’a?

Bridge had some good stuff this week, about a class-action lawsuit filed by juvenile prisoners incarcerated in the adult system. You can find the links on the right rail.

OK, I gotta get on the horn with some people. A great weekend to all, and to all some nice weather for a change.

Posted at 10:09 am in Current events, Popculch | 22 Comments

Bitches be crazy.

Back in 2008 I was sitting with an acquaintance in a bar, one of those funny loudmouths who likes to troll you in casual conversation, and especially in bar conversation. He said he was voting for Obama over Hillary, because you couldn’t trust a woman with her finger on the button. Hormones, you know.

I laughed, even as I understood that there were people in the world who believed that, and weren’t joking when they said the same thing. (Although probably all were voting for Mike Huckabee instead.)

So imagine my non-surprise when I saw this thing, written by an author whose work I sorta respect, if “been meaning to read ‘Weekends at Bellevue’ ever since I heard a thing on ‘Fresh Air'” counts as respect, on that very topic. I guess Time magazine, like all media outlets, is just click-whoring these day, but for cryin’ out loud:

The long phase of perimenopause is marked by seismic spikes and troughs of estrogen levels, which can last for more than a decade in many women. But afterward, there is a hormonal ebbing that creates a moment of great possibility. As a psychiatrist, I will tell you the most interesting thing about menopause is what happens after. A woman emerging from the transition of perimenopause blossoms. It is a time for redefining and refining what it is she wants to accomplish in her third act. And it happens to be excellent timing for the job Clinton is likely to seek. Biologically speaking, postmenopausal women are ideal candidates for leadership. They are primed to handle stress well, and there is, of course, no more stressful job than the presidency.

In other words, bitches be crazy, but after they dry up, they’re wizened crones, natural-born healers and midwives and oh go fuck yourself.

I am not, repeat not, a woman who sees sexism lurking around every corner. I understand that social change takes time, and am buoyed by the different gender landscape I see forming in the young people of today. And even though this piece reaches a crescendo of a group hug about women’s beautiful differences and the necessity of treating our moods as nature’s “intelligent feedback system,” I just don’t need this crap right now. Totally.

Although it did bring back a flash memory I haven’t recalled in ages, about a former Washington bureau chief at the Columbus Dispatch who once told a reporter doing a “girls on the bus” feature in the ’80s about how he didn’t think women were suited for campaign-trail work, because Periods, and he always knew when one was in progress, because of his very sensitive nose.

It was a good thing that guy only came to town twice a year, is all I can say.

Speaking of moody bitches, there’s not much in Slate that gets me reading past the first take, but I did enjoy this piece on “haterbragging,” i.e., the practice of using one’s online critics as self-promotion, with novelist Jennifer Weiner as the queen of all haterbraggers, citing her epic online joust with Jonathan Franzen, who always comes off as a dour old poop while she runs giggling rings around him.

A final female-centric story to make it a hat trick: The return of sidesaddle riding. Charlotte comes from an old horsey family, maybe she knows better, but as for me, this is one style I was never, ever tempted to try. One thing I learned from this, though: If conventional, leg-on-either-side horsemanship is known as riding astride, sidesaddle is called “riding aside.” Two letters makes all the difference.

Finally, I remember a friend whose sister went to work for Yugo, the now-defunct car company, in the former Yugoslavia, which was at the time a guaranteed-employment economy. The day she first toured the plant, the leader was embarrassed to come upon a large bin of upholstery scraps with two or three loudly snoring workers catching a midday nap. I guess this story shows it could have been worse.

Happy Tuesday! Sorry for the late update today — I did Kate’s taxes last night. She’s getting a refund.

Posted at 10:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 41 Comments

Wha gwan Internet?

Storms moving through right now. We were promised temperatures in the 60s, but hour after hour passed and things couldn’t seem to get past 50. Then there was sort of this big exhalation out of the southwest, the temperature went way up and as soon as I thought bike ride the rain started, and the tornado warnings started, so none of that stuff.

The tornado warnings were ridiculous. Nothing spotted, just some sketchiness on the radar, but it robbed me of my simple early-evening pleasure – “Jeopardy,” of course – as the weather guy broke in and riffed live for A SOLID HOUR on some stupid thunderstorms, as though Miss Gulch and Toto were right outside the door.

It is not for myself that I weep, however, but for the old people who missed “Wheel of Fortune.”

But now we slide into the weekend, and my soul is at peace, now that Proposition 1 is done, edited, published and filling the comments queues. Tomorrow I’m heading downtown; maybe I’ll have lunch with adults! So wonderful.

Today I took Kate in for a check of her jaw, after she reported “a lump” that wasn’t on the other side. The doctor pronounced it a hematoma. I told her, “That’s ‘hema,’ meaning ‘blood,’ and ‘toma,’ meaning ‘something bad.'” The doctor had just started to say, “that’s right,” then did a double-take and said, “So what do YOU do?”

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“So you’re supposed to have a command of the English language,” he said, already sorting me into that surgeon’s hierarchy of People Who Are Beneath Me, But Whose Order Is As Yet Undetermined.

“I do,” I told him. I hope it came across with the right amount of smugness. As a person with scintillating scotoma, I’ll be the one who decides what “toma” means, asshole.


Orthodox Jews, seated next to women on airplanes, demand the woman move. I would have but one question: Is the seat I’m being asked to move to in first class? Yes? Then I am happy to do so.

I had never heard of this creature until he killed himself last week, and I learned he was the model for a Martin Short cameo in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Seriously.

“Wha gwan Jamaica?” This guy. I mean. This is going to be a fun last couple of years.

Hope your weekend is good. Hope mine is, too.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 55 Comments

Like a dog with a deer leg.

Dead eyes on this one, don’t you think?

Well, you better angels were right: The reaction to this shooting on one side of the cultural divide was hardly the shrug that I’ve come to expect. There was the odd Facebook page, and surely there’s something more out there, but to my relief, the country does seem to believe that shooting an unarmed fleeing man in the back is a bad idea.

Glad that’s settled.

Man, this Proposition 1 business has wrung me out. Today I started back to work on other things, and I am happy not to be nose-to-nose with a policy story. But as long as we’re on a dog theme this week, and a photo theme, let me reproduce here a photo shared on Twitter by Charlotte, our commenter. I hope she won’t mind. It’s her dog with a prize he’s been carrying around for a while:


How beautiful is Montana? The gravel road, those driftwood-y looking fenceposts, the blue sky — oh, how I’ve missed those ere this long long winter — and, of course, the deer leg in his mouth. (I remember a hilarious story in Outside magazine a few years ago, where a writer in rural Montana attempted to follow his free-roaming dog through a few typical days, to learn exactly what lured him hither and yon in that amazing landscape, as well as what he was eating — it was one of those dogs that would let loud, repulsive farts and then turn around and bark at its butt.)

On the other hand, Michigan has water, which is more than I can say for the American West these days.

Another rough night, and I don’t know why. Sometimes you just have to push through insomnia. I haven’t been taking the best care of myself the last few days, but I’ve hardly been on a bender. Oh, well, this much I know: One rough night is often followed by a great night’s rest, but two rough nights always is. So I have that to look forward to.

So, bloggage:

When Obama announced our rapprochement with Cuba, a friend and I decided this was the beginning of the Fuck All Y’all phase of his presidency, and that we liked it. With the White House bully pulpit now being used to condemn “conversion therapy” for LGBT people, especially teenagers, I’m liking it even more. (The Scott Walker stuff is just the cherry on top. Bone up, son.)

There was a small dust-up here yesterday over whether the University of Michigan should screen “American Sniper” to a student audience as part as some sort of social event. First it was cancelled, then it was un-cancelled, and of course no story out of Ann Arbor is complete without the football angle. It was one of those stories where you can feel equally contemptuous of both sides. Mmmm, misanthropy.

Finally, the return of “Mad Men” means the return of T-Lo’s Mad Style, the appearance of which yesterday nearly made me weep with joy.

Off to work with a lighter heart, but sandier eyes.

Posted at 9:05 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments


So there I was at the oral surgeon’s office, sitting with Kate in the recovery cubicle, enjoying her goofy post-anesthesia brain, remembering my own experience getting my own wisdom teeth extracted in 1978. Like me, one of the first things she asked when she came to was to see her teeth.

The nurse showed me mine; they were in fragments. The doctor told Kate hers were biohazards, and had been thrown away. “Like any body part,” I said.

“Don’t people keep their placenta?” she mumbled through the gauze. Funny what bobs to the surface when drugs are roiling everything underneath.

There was a sign in the recovery area, asking that out of respect for everyone’s privacy, please refrain from taking photos or video. Jesus Christ. I guess everyone wants to get the next “David after dentist” Youtube hit.

She sailed through it, all things considered. Swelling’s not too bad, not even much pain, but we still have tomorrow to get through.

One last note: As I was getting ready to leave her in the operating room, the nurse wheeled in the cart with the instruments. They were covered with a paper towel, and it slid a little, revealing the serious heft of the handles. All at once, I remembered my own surgery, the nurse slipping the needle into my arm just as another one pulled the towel off the tray to reveal…instruments of torture. Hammers, chisels and is that a fucking miniature maul? It was.

No wonder I had a chinstrap bruise for a week.

Closing in on the end of a project about Proposal 1 in Michigan; the first two parts will be published at 6 a.m., and y’all can enjoy the fun I had trying to translate this into plain English. Policy ain’t my forte; I prefer people, and that’s my next assignment. Whew.

So, bloggage? Sure.

Eternally starring in the action movie running in his own head, a would-be hero suffers a flesh wound when his gun goes off in church. During the Easter vigil, no less.

The Rolling Stone report was horrifying, mainly because no one got fired, but also because the offending writer notes how hard it’s all been on her, so that’s good to know. This Slate story rounds up a few reactions that track with my own.

I’ve never heard of the Food Babe, but if this takedown is accurate, that’s probably for the best.

Onward. Good Tuesdays to all.

Posted at 12:47 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments

A day downtown.

I don’t get to the office as often as I should, although I do when I can, and I’ll be going more now that the weather is breaking and commuting isn’t such an ordeal. What’s the truism? If you want people to get things done, let them work at home. If you want them to be creative, put them together. Lately I have a lot to get done, so I’ve been staying home.

But today I went in. I had to do a radio show first, then headed to the office. Three doors from my building, a homeless man brayed, “You a sexy lady! Yeah, you like Beyoncé. You woke up like this!” I guess I should have scowled, but the thought of being compared to Beyoncé is so absurd I had to laugh. Another homeless guy heard this and added, “I second that!”

I should get into the office more often. The other day one of my colleagues was talking on the phone, looking out the window, and saw a hooker servicing a client in the alley, next to a dumpster. The best moment? When she stood up, lifted her skirt, turned around and offered the goods, and the john backed off, waving his hands hell, no.

She said that when she told this story later, the most common reaction is, “Did you record it?” No.

I realize those two anecdotes may make it sound like I work in some kind of cesspool of vice. I don’t. The hooker story was amazing, as Detroit has cleaned up its downtown and central city so much that you just don’t see that sort of stuff at all anymore, let alone in broad daylight. As for the homeless guys? Well, they have eyes, don’t they?

A little bloggage:

This has been going around a couple days, but it is hilarious and probably NSFW: Martha Stewart, absolutely killing it at the Justin Bieber roast. Of course she didn’t write the material, but she delivered it so well, you’d think she did.

Drew Miller, a Detroit Red Wing, almost lost an eye when he was hit in the face by a skate on Tuesday. Fifty stitches. Very scary. But when he appeared at a presser today and I saw the picture, all I could think is, when that thing heals, he is going to be the sexiest man alive. Scars are so fabulous, and a good facial scar is the best of all. I know how sick that sounds, but you’re looking at the country’s other No. 1 Omar fan.

The Hoosier fiasco continues. A friend there emailed this week to say, “I am fully fed up, fed up of course with dingbats who claim that RFRA doesn’t target gays, but also fed up with people who act as if this is an anti-gay Kristallnacht. It was a hamfisted sop by Rs for their reactionary base, a kind of consolation prize because the anti-gay marriage amendment was shot down. RFRA was a clumsy overreach by the ruling clique, and now they and Gov. FumbleBlunder are eating the shit they cooked in their own kitchen.” Shit cooked in their own kitchen — that’s it exactly. Meanwhile, here’s yet another analysis, by Amy Davidson at the New Yorker. There’s not a great deal new here, but a good turn of phrase that doesn’t bring to mind shit in a kitchen:

Pence said that the Indiana law “simply mirrors federal law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1993”—which is correct only if the mirror is the kind that adds twenty pounds when you look in it.

Have a great Thursday, all. We’re over the hump.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments

Open for business, Hoosiers.

Alex sends along this snapshot from the Hoosier state:


Meatballs and sausage? I suspect a friend of Dorothy!

Open thread today. The week is closing in on me.

Posted at 12:05 am in Current events | 36 Comments

Dark days in the Hoosier state.

I gotta tell ya, folks, I’m astonished at the blowback over the Indiana decision. Of course it can’t last, and it’s probably out of proportion to the offense; as many have pointed out, what about all the other states that have versions of this law? Why do they get a pass? I can’t tell you why, but I do know that sometimes the stars just align, and sometimes you’re standing where their light is most concentrated.

You know, like a laser.

On the other hand, this couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserving bunch of folks. It is enormously satisfying to see this legislature, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, writhing and blinking like moles dragged into the sunshine. Here’s David Long, the state Senate leader, and Brian Bosma, the speaker of the House, looking very uncomfortable, answering questions like, “Isn’t it legal to put up a ‘No Gays Allowed’ sign now?” Why yes, yes it is. (Note: You could do this in Michigan, too.) The governor looks more miserable and angry with every new interview and press conference. Keep in mind, this guy was a talk-radio host; if nothing else, he should feel comfortable in front of a microphone. The fact he isn’t should tell you something.

Here’s Matt Yglesias on Mike Pence, c. 2008. Just for the hell of it.

So I was thinking about our trip this weekend, and how nice it was. The train was definitely the way to go — no parking hassles, no driving hassles, time to catch up on some reading. It’s five hours from Windsor to Union Station, and this being Canada? Everything runs on time to the minute. (I kind of fell out with train travel on my Amtrak adventures in Indiana. The trains were slow and my god, were they late. When you are planning a weekend in Chicago, and you roll up to Waterloo to catch your train, and it’s hours late, only you don’t know that yet, because the station is just a three-sided lean-to with no connection to any sort of master control. No train? Just wait.)

What did we do when we were there? What we always do on city visits — walked around interesting neighborhoods, ate when we were hungry, shopped a little. (The exchange rate is very favorable now, which means that $65 cocktail hour was really a $52 cocktail hour.) Went to a good restaurant called Beast and a less-good one called Lisa Marie. Everything is small plates now, tapas-y stuff that you taste and eat and pass around. All things considered, it’s a better way of doing things than the meat/2-veg model.

We did have the best pho EVAR. Love pho.

Meanwhile, while we were in Canada, Kate was in California, enjoying a mini-spring break with a friend and with her nervous mother’s permission. They went to some two-day music festival in Santa Ana, staying one night with a family in Santa Monica, former Grosse Pointers who moved out there a few years ago. She came home referencing the strange SoCal slang she heard: “When something’s funny, they say, ‘Dude, that’s humor.'” It’s funnier when you hear it out loud.

But now we’re all home, and Wendy is very happy. The dog sitter spoiled her rotten, but now the pack is reunited, and it feels so good.

Just one bit of bloggage today, an NYT piece on the HIV outbreak in Indiana that got the gov to loosen his ideology in favor of human life. Very big of him.

I can recommend “Going Clear,” too, although it doesn’t restore your faith in humanity.

Time for bed. Lap swimming in the ayem.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events | 59 Comments

The $65 cocktail hour.

Hey, guys. We arrived late last night, and after all the decompressing and unpacking and mail-sorting, I had no time to update. Then, today, I start a brutal week with two projects circling for a landing.

So you’ll have to wait for the Toronto download. We had a nice time. I will never drive there again, although I will probably take a rolling suitcase.

In the meantime, just one bit of bloggage: This piece on the Indiana RFRA situation, written by an IU law professor who’s a friend-of-a-friend. If it doesn’t go viral, there’s no justice in the world; he does an excellent job nailing the specifics down, in simple, easy-to-understand terms.

I leave you with this perfect moment: Cocktail hour at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel, where we killed the last hour before the train left. I’ve been pinching pennies all my life, and am not one for many indulgences, although I’d love to just once own a really, really high-quality black cashmere sweater. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK? Anyway, we thought we’d have a drink, and the drinks were so good we had two. The waiter anticipated everything, bringing water without being asked, the wifi password, a little dish of salty snacks (that’s Alan bogarting all the wasabi peas) and, of course, two absolutely perfect cocktails — a Manhattan for the gentleman and this lovely concoction of vodka, champagne and raspberry deliciousness called a Bubbles & Berries. The bill? A mere $65. I think it was worth every penny:


Talk tomorrow, then?

Posted at 8:57 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments

Auguring in.

It’s hard to stop thinking about the suicidal German pilot, isn’t it? The details keep sticking with me, especially the part about his breathing:

In the final moments, the sounds of terrified passengers filled the plane even as Lubitz — audibly breathing as a bleeping alarm warned of imminent collision — kept quiet through the end.

Heaven help us from a man who can breathe calmly through the act of taking 150 lives. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds:

But as officials carted out boxes of belongings, including a laptop, from his family’s home in a middle-class neighborhood of this southwestern German town, questions centered on several months in 2009 when Lubitz took a leave from his pilot training.

Here’s hoping this isn’t a here-we-go-again deal. I can’t stand the stupid, as the kids say.

A busy couple of days, but a long weekend ahead — Kate is off on a solo spring mini-break, and we are off to Toronto, just for the hell of it. The house- and dog-sitter arrives in the morning, and I cleaned two bathrooms today. Vacations, even mini-vacations (this is only a weekend), are hard, until they’re not.

So, before we head off for the great white north, a few pieces of bloggage:

A sea change in Kentucky’s approach to heroin addiction. Via the HuffPost, which I don’t generally trust, but here goes:

On Tuesday night, Kentucky lawmakers passed wide-ranging legislation to combat the state’s heroin epidemic. The bipartisan measure represents a significant policy shift away from more punitive measures toward a focus on treating addicts, not jailing them.

The state will now allow local health departments to set up needle exchanges and increase the number of people who can carry naloxone, the drug that paramedics use to save a person suffering an opioid overdose. Addicts who survive an overdose will no longer be charged with a crime after being revived. Instead, they will be connected to treatment services and community mental health workers.

Speaking of drugs, and emergency measures, Indiana’s in it, too:

Gov. Mike Pence Thursday declared the HIV epidemic in southeastern Indiana a public health emergency and gave local authorities the OK to begin a short-term needle-exchange program to help fight an outbreak that now includes 79 cases all linked to intravenous drug use.

But Pence made it clear that allowing for a temporary needle exchange program does not reverse his long-held opposition to needle exchange programs.

Of course it doesn’t. He’s opposed to them, except when they work.

Fans of “The Wire,” and of the president — which probably covers everyone here — will want to watch this delightful conversation between Barry and David Simon, talking criminal justice and the war on drugs. Two smart people, jawin’. You’ll like.

A good piece by my colleague Ron on the obstacles in front of poorer high-school kids when they start to look for college options:

Michigan’s low-income high school graduates, as well as many of the state’s rural grads, enroll in college at lower levels than their wealthier, suburban peers. Those who do enroll are less likely to attend a four-year school, and more likely to drop out before earning a degree.

Some of that gap is because of differences in academic achievement that correlates stubbornly to family income. But there is another, less visible cause, one that involves physics tutors and strategically groomed extracurricular activities.

This is the after-school gap – an admissions-driven arms race that widens the already-broad college access gap between low-income students and their wealthier peers.

With that, I’m off to pack my suitcase. Good weekend, all. Eh?

Posted at 11:02 pm in Current events | 111 Comments