The gales of November.

The lesbian couple at the center of the Michigan challenge to its same-sex marriage ban asked the Supremes to consider their case a week or so ago, and today the AG did the same.

“The history of our democracy demonstrates the wisdom of allowing the people to decide important issues at the ballot box, rather than ceding those decisions to unelected judges,” wrote Schuette, who also cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s prior stance on affirmative action to bolster his argument.

Schuette noted in his filing that in deciding the affirmative action issue, Kennedy discussed the importance of trusting voters to decide significant issues and wrote: “‘It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds.'”

You all know what I do for a living, so I can’t really express an opinion on this, other than to wonder when this country has left the rights of a minority in the hands of the voters, because if we had, there’d still be legal segregation throughout the south, women wouldn’t be able to vote and people of different races wouldn’t be able to marry, either.

Strange night tonight. The wind is howling at a speed that makes it sound like a continuous low moan, and we’re all waiting for the Ferguson grand-jury decision. Downtown, football fans are wandering around, waiting for the Jets-Bills game to start at Ford Field, i.e., the Lions’ home turf. Maybe you heard — there was some snow in Buffalo last week, so Detroit is bailing them out. The Lions gave the seats away free starting Saturday, and whaddaya know? A sellout. Or maybe a freeout. Whatever, the knots of fans who come in from the ‘burbs were already starting to appear when I left work in the gales. Wind always puts me on edge, and I’m not sure why, although I once read that it’s a contributor to domestic abuse in Livingston, Montana, where it blows constantly. I worry about flying tree limbs, lost power and wrecked hairdos. That’s enough to put anyone on edge.

So let’s skip to some bloggage while I pour a glass of wine and catch up on premium cable and chores:

How did I ever live before I met Tom & Lorenzo? “It looks like she skinned some white girl and turned her into a slutty cocktail dress.” Don’t ever change, J-Lo.

I was not the fan of the UVA rape story that many of you are — I found parts of it almost impossible to believe — but I am a big fan of this UVA rape story, which I found believable in every detail. It’s long, but well worth the read. And on the subject in general, Dahlia Lithwick speaks the truth. As usual.

You know what peeves me about these stories about how much students hate the new, somewhat healthier lunches dictated under new federal rules? The unspoken assumption that what they replaced was something wonderful. When you know it wasn’t. #thanksmichelleobama

Speaking of food, it’s time to start cooking. How about you?

Posted at 7:32 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 62 Comments
 

America’s very bad dad.

A couple of us went out to dinner Saturday night. It was a very Detroit 2.0 evening, featuring a chic restaurant, a long wait for a table and a cocktail called a Rosemary Burn (featuring a sprig of charred you-know-what). I swear, I’ve had more cocktails featuring rosemary in the last year than I’ve had potatoes or lamb or any other rosemary-friendly food. Maybe it was a Rosemary Char. Something like that. Can’t recall.

Anyway, we were sitting there working through our small-plates selection when the subject of Bill Cosby came up. We marveled at the parade of women now coming forward, most without the shroud of anonymity, many of them now senior citizens; their stories and the timeline suggest Cosby’s alleged strategy of mickey-slipping went on for decades.

That’s what makes this WashPost story published today so damning; it hears out the known accusers in chronological order, starting with the young comedy writer (who said she was drugged and assaulted in 1965) to the Temple University staffer (ditto, 2004). It’s an interesting structure, because you can see in its detail how we came to understand rape and sex crimes in that nearly 40-year span of time. The first victim didn’t go to the police because who would believe her word against a famous man? The last one brooded for a while, then called a lawyer, not the police, after a belated visit to police, and negotiated a cash settlement. (Please understand I am not criticizing her for doing so; absent a strong criminal case with solid physical evidence, Cosby likely wouldn’t have spent a day behind bars. That she chose to hit him in the wallet was a valid alternative choice.)

It’s also interesting because, after every victim’s story, the writers reproduce the comment of Cosby’s legal team. It’s almost hilarious:

One of Cosby’s attorneys, John Schmitt, issued a statement this past week saying that repeating old allegations “does not make them true.”

…Singer, Cosby’s attorney, called Traitz “the latest example of people coming out of the woodwork with unsubstantiated or fabricated stories about my client.”

…When contacted by The Post about Valentino’s allegations, Cosby’s attorney responded by issuing the broad denial to the recent accusations.

…Another Cosby attorney, Walter M. Phillips Jr., called Green’s allegations “absolutely false.”

Well, to their credit, no one said, “Another one? Where are all these crazy bitches coming from?”

He’s toast. Of course, Mitch Albom says he needs a little more time to study on the subject, and in the meantime, was it really necessary to pull reruns of “The Cosby Show” from TVLand? I mean, talk about a rush to judgment.

In case you’re wondering, the Rosemary Burn/Char was a twist on a whiskey sour, and featured bourbon, orange-blossom honey, lemon and salt. “The bourbon was infused with pine nuts,” Alan reminds me. Noted.

It must take so long to make a drink like that, you don’t have to worry about having too many.

Thanksgiving week! And so it begins. I will try to post what and when I can, but as always: Holidays. Etc.

Posted at 1:18 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 41 Comments
 

Happy birthday to us.

I’m telling you, when Columbus gets five inches of snow in mid-November — it is still mid-November, right? — and Detroit only an inch, well…I don’t know what that means. Probably that weather varies widely and isn’t necessarily north = more.

Still. Brr. We’re supposed to get strong winds, too, so I expect a week of misery.

It was birthday weekend around here — Kate’s 18th, Alan’s (mumble). The former got a fuzz pedal for her bass and a pair of Doc Martens, perhaps my least-favorite shoe for girls in the universe, but the thing about gifts is, they’re for the recipient, not the giver. And if you’re legally an adult, you can decide what you want to wear on your feet. Especially if you’re already hanging out in bars:

dvasatpaychecks

That was Friday night. The crowd was sparse, the other acts pretty pallid, and the bartender indifferent, but when your lineup isn’t bringing in the sales, what can you expect? Which is to say, Alan had to buy four bottled waters for the girls so they wouldn’t get parched under that dazzling neon.

Saturday went along with it, sorta; we watched “Only Lovers Left Alive,” which may be my favorite Detroit-shot movie since “Out of Sight.” It’s not great, but it’s a wonderful look at the crazy city and its charms, which is especially well-suited to the story of two vampires making their way through the modern world. Googling around at the reviews, I notice a couple critics mention their house “on the outskirts of Detroit.” Ha! That house is in the heart of Detroit, and while some of the shots are angled to cut out the surroundings and emphasize its solitude, well, it pretty much nails the fabulous, ruined area of Brush Park. We don’t have nearly that many coyotes — at least not in town. They’d have to fight the stray pit bulls, and I don’t think they’re that tough.

A little bloggage from the weekend:

Something I learned from Neil Steinberg’s great column (reprinted from 2008) on “Porgy and Bess:”

The bottom line is that African-American artists embraced the work. Both Paul Robeson and Sidney Poitier — neither a cream-puff — sang Porgy. The entire cast is black, as required by the Gershwin estate — in reaction, the story goes, to the horror of Al Jolson pushing to cast himself as a blackface Porgy.

When Mitch Albom starts a column with the words “In the old days,” you know what you should do, right? Yes: Don’t read the rest. But if you want to, be my guest, and consider: This is one of the most successful writers in the U.S.A. No wonder the vampires are worried.

A corporate sponsor dials back support for a sport (rock climbing) where risk-taking may be getting out of hand:

Among those whose contracts were withdrawn were Alex Honnold and Dean Potter, each widely credited with pushing the boundaries of the sport in recent years. They had large roles in the film, mainly showing them climbing precarious routes barehanded and without ropes, a technique called free soloing. Potter also was shown highlining, walking across a rope suspended between towering rock formations.

Other climbers who lost their Clif Bar contracts were Timmy O’Neill and Steph Davis, who spends much of her time BASE jumping (parachuting from a fixed object, like a building, an antenna, a span or earth) and wing-suit flying. Last year, her husband, Mario Richard, was killed when he crashed in a wing suit.

I’ve seen wing suit videos, and for the life of me, I don’t understand how a suit that turns you into a flying squirrel can overcome the weight of the human body. But then, I’m no daredevil.

We in this part of the country may all have to be daredevils tomorrow. I hope your commute is not too slippery.

Posted at 5:57 pm in Current events, Detroit life, Movies | 34 Comments
 

It’s always those people.

With no intent to insult the veterans in the audience, let me just say that it my TV listings showed something on premium cable called “The Concert for Valor” on channel 300, I’d immediately start looking for something at least 200 channels away. That’s how much I despise most televised concerts and especially Very Special TV events aimed at veterans.

So I was a half-step behind hearing the kerfuffle over Bruce Springsteen’s choice of “Fortunate Son” for his setlist. Although once you hear the details — once anyone hears that a writer for the Weekly Standard, and the usual idiots at Fox News, were upset over this “anti-American” song — you can pretty much fill in the blanks. Oh oh oh, it wasn’t “God Bless the USA,” so this has to be worth yelling about! and so on.

Roy has a great roundup of links. And Charles Pierce adds a photographic element.

I hate to be in and outta here again, but it turns out the week after the election has been as busy as the week before, and the week of, the election. But it should slow down soon — I hope.

Posted at 9:49 pm in Current events | 66 Comments
 

The end of the tunnel.

I’m kind of surprised the Detroit bankruptcy news of Friday didn’t make a bigger splash, news-wise. I checked the usual aggregation sites and found most were still dithering over election results, but trust me: This is huge. On Friday, the judge presiding over the case approved the city’s plan of adjustment, i.e., their blueprint for shedding debt, satisfying creditors and setting the city up for what all hope will be a clear path forward.

It’s pretty complicated, and not easy to sum up for civilians, but here are the bullet points: The city discharges about $7 billion in debt, most pensioners take a 4.5 percent cut (and forego future COLA and health-care increases), the noisiest creditors settled for mostly real estate and the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection is preserved.

I have to agree with Laura Berman here: It was nothing short of miraculous:

The city’s Chapter 9 had begun in shame. But somehow the legal process provided enough incentives and framework for everyone involved to get things done. If (Judge Steven) Rhodes saw it as “all about shared sacrifice,” it was also about high stakes, huge dollars, and the whole world watching — all combined to enable a group of people to focus on solutions rather than acrimony.

Detroit, a city that’s been hard-pressed to get anything done for decades, was suddenly a place where deals got done. Problems that had been insoluble — think Detroit Water and Sewer Department — were resolved by mutual consent of parties that wouldn’t even communicate previously.

“We had a 40 year dispute solved — and it was like a footnote,” (Emergency Manager Kevyn) Orr said of the water department compromise, which created a regional authority.

The bankruptcy enabled a series of voluntary settlements that left little room for appeal: Not a long, litigious nightmare but a framework to quickly and creatively fix a broken city.

This NYT piece gives you a good overview of the so-called “grand bargain” that preserved the art and bolstered pensions.

It’s an imperfect solution, but what would be perfect? And this is very close to perfect for a situation that looked so, so dire only a year ago. I told someone the other day that walking around downtown reminds me of the opening scenes of “Atlantic City.” Woodward Avenue is torn up for the installation of a light-rail line. (Not a very good one, but a start.) Scaffolding rises up half the buildings, which are being converted, restored, condo-ized. Everyone’s complaining about how high rents are, and if you want to buy, you better have cash, because no one wants to wait on the banks to figure out appraisals in a market this crazy.

Of course the stubborn problem of the blossoming core and the withering outer neighborhoods remains unsolved. But streetlights are slowly being replaced, a new auction program to basically give away housing to people willing to bring it back is thriving, and if no one knows what the city will look like in a decade, there is cause for optimism. For the first time in a long while.

I’m just waiting for the pundit class to catch on, and it will be interesting to see what they have to say. Virginia Postrel will surely be disappointed that the art isn’t going to be redistributed to cities where it will be more appreciated — like the one she lives in — but just knowing she will have to live with this charming passage around her neck for the rest of her life…

(G)reat artworks shouldn’t be held hostage by a relatively unpopular museum in a declining region. The cause of art would be better served if they were sold to institutions in growing cities where museum attendance is more substantial and the visual arts are more appreciated than they’ve ever been in Detroit. Art lovers should stop equating the public good with the status quo.

…will be good enough for me. (Just an aside here: Where does a woman with the title of “culture columnist” get off writing that the art “should be sold to institutions,” ignoring the fact nearly all museums don’t buy much of anything, relying on wealthy donors to die and leave them stuff. There are some exceptions; I believe the Getty, in Los Angeles, still shops. I also believe Postrel lives in Los Angeles. What a coincidence. But even the Getty could hardly pick up the best of the DIA’s collection. Van Gogh’s self-portrait would end up in fucking Dubai or Moscow.)

OK, then. So it was a weekend for toasts. Also, another movie — “Whiplash,” which I highly recommend. It’s the story about what happens when a talented musician gets the wrong teacher, an abusive, screaming, hitting, mind-fucking asshole who just might be exactly what he needs. J.K. Simmons plays the teacher, well enough that the ticket-seller actually trigger-warned us: “It’s a very intense movie, and you need to understand that. We’ve had complaints.” Oh, for fuck’s sake.

So, bloggage? There’s this, a Bob Herbert column in Politico, on Bill Gates, education reformer:

There used to be a running joke in the sports world about breaking up the Yankees because they were so good. Gates felt obliged to break up America’s high schools because they were so bad. Smaller schools were supposed to attack the problems of low student achievement and high dropout rates by placing students in a more personal, easier-to-manage environment. Students, teachers and administrators would be more familiar with one another. Acts of violence and other criminal behavior would diminish as everybody got to know everybody else. Academic achievement would soar.

That was Bill Gates’s grand idea. From 2000 to 2009, he spent $2 billion and disrupted 8 percent of the nation’s public high schools before acknowledging that his experiment was a flop. The size of a high school proved to have little or no effect on the achievement of its students. At the same time, fewer students made it more difficult to field athletic teams. Extracurricular activities withered. And the number of electives offered dwindled.

Gates said it himself in the fall of 2008, “Simply breaking up existing schools into smaller units often did not generate the gains we were hoping for.”

Really? You don’t say.

And with that, we start off another action-packed week. I hope yours goes well.

Posted at 9:04 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 20 Comments
 

The mop-up.

Well, this is how I spent Wednesday. And this is how my colleague Ron spent the day. I encourage you to scroll down, in Ron’s story, to the subhead on the electoral college. If the legislature takes up that one during lame duck, I might disappear like Coozledad. That fight will make Right to Work look like a picnic.

Some bloggage, before I get back to work:

Hank on “The Comeback,” which I am anticipating like a big slice of cake.

…and that’s it. I’m so election-full, I’m electioned out. Back to more civilized content tomorrow, I think.

Posted at 11:29 am in Current events | 43 Comments
 

Thank you, ma’am. Ma’am, thank you.

I could probably check this, but it was right around a year ago that Comcast, my cable company, tried to make good a fairly minor mistake on their part by dumping a bunch of premium channels on me, “free” for a year. It’s how we got Showtime and Starz and Cinemax and a couple others, most of which we don’t watch, although OK, yes, Showtime’s series have gotten much better in recent months.

But then the cable bill arrived, and it was $70 above normal, so I got back on the phone to express outrage and demand a lower bill. It was so silly; I knew and the operator knew that I was going to get my bill knocked back down to what it was, that the “introductory period” would be extended another year, that my cable service wouldn’t change and all I would have to pay was the $70 overage I just paid.

The “customer service representative,” a phrase that cries out for ironic quotes, was offshore. That’s all she would say, offshore, but I would peg her accent as Filipino, so there you are. She read from her script with varying degrees of success at sounding authentic — “this is your lucky day for today only I am authorized to offer you this exciting introductory rate on the package you are interested in” — and her most annoying tic was inserting “ma’am” every five words. So really it was more like ma’am this is your lucky day ma’am for today only ma’am I am authorized to offer you, ma’am, this exciting introductory rate on the package you are interested in ma’am. And no, I’m not exaggerating.

I really miss customer service when it wasn’t an oxymoron. My mother worked her whole career at the phone company as a customer-service rep, and dammit, she served. She was also in a union. I’m sure her job, if it remains in any way shape or form, is now being done in a dingy call center in Manila.

And while I grant you that this is sort of a Peggy Noonan sort of problem, it seemed to go hand-in-glove with what read, to my eyes, as a better-than-average scene-setter for today’s election in the NYT today:

The uncertainty about the outcome is a fitting match for the mood of the nation. A slowly but steadily improving economy — with six months of strong growth, gasoline below $3 a gallon for the first time in four years and substantial deficit reduction — has not translated into broader optimism. Voters are more inclined toward blame than credit. Instead, they are seemingly worn down by economic struggles and late waves of panic, chiefly about the threats posed by the Islamic State and the possible spread of Ebola.

Polls show voter interest in the election substantially lower than four years ago. The real intensity has been generated by the prodigious spending of outside groups who have aired more than 1.5 million televised campaign ads.

And candidates in both parties have done little to inspire the electorate. Unlike midterms in 1994 and 2006, when the party out of power made strong gains, Republican candidates did not carry a defined platform into this election, nor did they campaign on many policy specifics. Democrats spent months playing down if not denying their support for the president’s agenda.

True dat. I think things are settling in for a lot of people: You will probably earn less next year, even if you get a paltry raise, because your health-insurance rates will gobble up the difference and then some. Your kids’ student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, so borrow wisely and don’t have too many kids in the first place. Anyway, they won’t be buying a house for a good long while, so don’t count on the value of your own going up the way it used to. This grim little ad, which the Truth Squad whistled as a flagrant foul, seems to get at the mood lately:

Here’s another one. It doesn’t really get at the voters’ mood, but it’s pretty damn brutal. How’d you like to have been at this casting session?

I step into the voting booth, and my hope springs eternal, most years. This year I’ll do my best.

Happy Election Day. See you when I’m done working it.

Posted at 11:17 am in Current events | 88 Comments
 

Amateur hour.

Alan and I went to the movies Saturday night, in another congressional district. Our stroll from parking lot to theater took us past a couple of yard signs for a candidate for something. I noted that I would be disinclined to like him based on the verb on his very simple signs: Not “vote” for the man in question, but “hire” him.

That one word tells me so much — that he’s likely one of those guys who thinks “making a payroll” is a core skill for the office, because running a plumbing supply house has so much to do with tax policy and balancing the greater good with constituent service.

I thought of that guy when I read Neil Steinberg’s excellent blog making the case against voting for Bruce Rauner for governor of Illinois. Like a lot of great writing, it starts out being about one thing, and takes its time getting to the thing it’s actually about, and makes you sit back and say, Of course. It’s hard not to break my three-paragraph preview rule with this one:

The Curse of the Amateur often afflicts wealthy men in late middle age. Having succeeded wildly in one field, their egos and ignorance are such they assume they can march into some other completely unrelated area and master that too. Henry Ford, fresh from his success at selling Model Ts, decided he would end World War I. He didn’t. Bill Gates, having made a fortune in software, decided to end the woes of Africa. He didn’t. Those woes turned out to be a problem bigger than money.

Can anyone glance at Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and not recognize the Curse of the Amateur? Here’s a guy, 57 years old, who never ran for anything, forget being elected to any public office. He’s someone who has never performed any kind of public service beyond very recently, after he decided he would be governor and started suddenly funding schools and firehosing the money he has so much of this way and that and calling it civic mindedness.

So he campaigns. And his ignorance of, his contempt for, the job he would take on, is so great, that he presents his utter lack of experience as his most enticing attribute. It’s pure hypocrisy. Who can imagine that Rauner would accept that logic in his own affairs? Who believes that anyone could go to him and say, “You know, your Excelo Widget Company isn’t doing so well. I am uncorrupted by any sort of experience making or selling widgets, so am just the man for you to bring in as CEO.”

Yes, exactly. I live in a different state than Steinberg, but this argument is common in politicking these days, and it never fails to rankle.

(A side note to rant about autocorrect, which is starting to loom as a major factor in my writing life these days. For every time it spares me from having to stop typing and fix a few transposed letters, it leads me into dangerous waters in another area. For example, when I wrote “Neil Steinberg” up there, it changed the surname to “Sternberg.” WTF? Apple has an autocorrect that doesn’t understand proper names? This is pissing me off. That said, I’m sure there’s a setting that can be tweaked, and J.C. will write to inform me of it shortly.)

The movie we saw Saturday was “Birdman,” (which autocorrect just changed to “Birman,” grr) and all of you with an interest in art, theater, compromise, self-doubt and any related theme are encouraged to go see it. I’m trying to keep up with the Oscar contenders this year, rather than trying to cram them all into the holiday weeks and/or on-demand cable in February. Last week we saw “Gone Girl,” which I was surprised to like quite a lot — far better than the book, which had me eye-rolling and skipping pages by the final chapters.

The other day I mentioned my love of boxing, and a few of you shuddered. I hope you will put your bad feelings aside and read this great profile of Bernard Hopkins, still defending two of the four major light-heavyweight belts at the astonishing age of 49. This passage sums up what I’ve started to appreciate in boxing, why I watch on the Saturday nights that HBO or Showtime has a card going:

Unlike most other boxers, who train down to their fighting weight only when they have a bout coming up, Hopkins keeps himself right around the 175-pound light-heavyweight limit. Fight people marvel at the ascetic rigor that has kept him perpetually in superb shape for almost three decades, his habit of returning to the gym first thing Monday morning after a Saturday-night fight, the list of pleasurable things he won’t eat, drink or do. But to fetishize the no-nonsense perfection of his body, which displays none of the extraneous defined muscular bulk that impresses fans but doesn’t help win fights, is to miss what makes Hopkins an exemplar of sustaining and extending powers that are supposed to be in natural decline. He has no peer in the ability to strategize both the round-by-round conduct of a fight and also the shifts and adjustments entailed by an astonishingly long career in the hurt business. He has kept his body supple and fit enough to obey his fighting mind, but it’s the continuing suppleness of that mind, as he strategizes, that has always constituted his principal advantage.

Opponents don’t worry about facing his speed or power. They fear what’s going on in his head.

A great read.

The week upcoming is going to be a crusher, with the election and yours truly working around it. So I warn you of the usual holes, gaps and scantiness, but I’ll try. In the meantime, I leave you with one more take on Ben Bradlee, which you should read just to get to this passage:

Meanwhile, the Post’s op-ed pages — that hotbed of stupendously clueless commentary that was separated from the Outlook section in 2009 — prominently featured on the same Sunday a piece to warm the cockles of Hayward’s heart: a fire-breathing offering from former Hewlett-Packard head and indefatigable John McCain crony Carly Fiorina. This bold tocsin, titled “A time for businesses to stand up to activists,” derides climate change activists who have targeted corporate boards in an effort to jump-start action on global warming. In Fiorina’s fanciful telling, business leaders now cringe in fear before a disciplined cadre of “well-organized, professional activists intent on chilling speech and marginalizing the voice of business and job creators in U.S. society … Their attacks on business’ protected speech and political participation are intended to sideline the entrepreneurial perspective and silence the opportunity for nuanced policy discussions.” Never mind that a standing armada of industry lobbyists has kept progress on climate change legislation on total lockdown for the past decade.

Let me pose a follow-up question to Ignatius’ sermon. Why would Bradlee’s old paper publish such patently distorted, power-coddling twaddle? I know from bitter experience that op-ed shops at major papers routinely repurpose these corporate PR briefs in their pages because they professionally adhere to a phony centrism. They believe that responsible journalism is the equivalent of a cuckoo clock display, in which one side warbles at the other and then retires to await its next formulaic set-to an hour hence. How can we have a nuanced debate, after all, if the poor speech-challenged business and job creators who already bankroll the entire electoral process aren’t also protected from dissenting views in their boardrooms or on editorial pages?

And don’t forget to vote, if you haven’t already.

Posted at 12:52 pm in Current events, Movies | 76 Comments
 

Bad boy.

I don’t know if Detroit’s proximity to Canada predisposes us to like America Jr.’s media offerings or what, but I’ve been a fan of Q, a show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi; it runs on WDET here. I guess, for lack of a better description, you’d call it the Canadian “Fresh Air,” only with more guests in a typical hour. Today the word is flying around that Ghomeshi was fired, with various hints at an ugly scandal lurking in the wings – Ghomeshi was said to have hired a crisis public-relations firm; the network said it had information that precluded it from continuing to employ him, etc.

An hour or so ago, Ghomeshi himself posted a statement on his Facebook that, if you take him at his word, has to be the very definition of a 21st-century nightmare:

About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady’s Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone’s business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.

Despite a strong connection between us it became clear to me that our on-and-off dating was unlikely to grow into a larger relationship and I ended things in the beginning of this year. She was upset by this and sent me messages indicating her disappointment that I would not commit to more, and her anger that I was seeing others.

After this, in the early spring there began a campaign of harassment, vengeance and demonization against me that would lead to months of anxiety.

It came to light that a woman had begun anonymously reaching out to people that I had dated (via Facebook) to tell them she had been a victim of abusive relations with me. In other words, someone was reframing what had been an ongoing consensual relationship as something nefarious. I learned – through one of my friends who got in contact with this person – that someone had rifled through my phone on one occasion and taken down the names of any woman I had seemed to have been dating in recent years. This person had begun methodically contacting them to try to build a story against me. Increasingly, female friends and ex-girlfriends of mine told me about these attempts to smear me.

I’m a big girl and know everybody has their own version of a story, and I also know I’m predisposed to believe the guy whose show I like, but still – do you come back from something like this? I’m sure some people do, but I can hardly imagine anything worse. (As expected, there are different versions of Ghomeshi’s private life floating around.) ON EDIT: Alas, it’s looking as though Ghomeshi is a garden-variety creep. Too bad. I did like his show.

So, how was everyone’s weekend? I’m still sick, but Sudafed is making things a lot more tolerable, enough that I ventured out for a bike ride Sunday — the glorious days are still with us, but every one feels like it could be the last for a good long while, so you have to enjoy them. Then it was home, groceries and being creative director on Kate’s senior-picture photo shoot, which I hope wrapped successfully. The rest of the weekend was sort of a fog of cold medicine and beer and Halloween candy pilfered from the giant Costco sack I bought. I wonder if it’ll last until Friday. We shall see.

Some bloggage? The Michigan/Michigan State game was pretty awful, as expected, mainly because of Michigan.

Has anyone ever made tarte tatin? I’m thinking of trying this recipe. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Posted at 9:04 pm in Current events, Media | 42 Comments
 

Current affairs.

Link salad today, because I haz a tired.

It appears the story of the night is the death of Ben Bradlee, and as you’d expect, there are many wonderful words to read about this titan of the field. I recommend David Von Drehle in Time, an ex-WashPost writer with a great gift for it:

Charisma is a word, like thunderstorm or orgasm, which sits pretty flat on the page or the screen compared with the actual experience it tries to name. I don’t recall exactly when I first looked it up in the dictionary and read that charisma is a “personal magic of leadership,” a “special magnetic charm.” But I remember exactly when I first felt the full impact of the thing itself.

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee was gliding through the newsroom of The Washington Post, pushing a sort of force field ahead of him like the bow wave of a vintage Chris-Craft motor yacht. All across the vast expanse of identical desks, faces turned toward him—were pulled in his direction—much as a field of flowers turns toward the sun. We were powerless to look away.

This was after his storied career as editor of The Post had ended. I was the first reporter hired at the paper after Bradlee retired in 1991 to a ceremonial office on the corporate floor upstairs. For that reason, I never saw him clothed in the garb of authority. He no longer held the keys to the front page and the pay scales, so his force didn’t spring from those sources. Nor did it derive from his good looks, his elegance, or his many millions worth of company stock.

I realized I was face to face with charisma, a quality I had wrongly believed I understood until Bradlee reached the desk where I was sitting and the bow wave pushed me back in my chair. It is pointless for me to try to describe this essence, because in that moment I realized that it cannot be observed or critiqued. Charisma can only be felt. It is a palpable something-more-ness—magical, magnetic—as rare as the South China tiger. I’ve met famous writers, directors, actors, athletes, billionaires, five presidents of the United States, and none of them had it like Bradlee.

Or you can try Martha Sherrill in the Post itself, writing about his legacy in the Style section:

“Hey, Tiger.” He said things like that. He had lusty greetings, exotic epithets and obsolete profanities he got away with. He was unabashed, uninhibited. Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, who died Tuesday at age 93, was a Boston Brahmin but enjoyed being an improper one. A lesbian friend from his postwar Paris days wasn’t just “gay,” she was “gay as a goose.” A newly divorced editor with a revived sex life was “finally getting his ashes hauled.” The primal motive driving Jackie Kennedy Onassis was “she needs a lot of dough.” ¶ Men were divided into two camps: those whose private parts “clanked when they walked” and those whose, alas, didn’t. Women were judged differently. The only ones Bradlee didn’t seem to appreciate were humorless. “A prude,” he’d say, as though nothing were more distasteful. ¶ He passed on his sensibilities to Style, the groundbreaking “soft” feature section he invented and launched at The Washington Post in 1969, which replaced the toothless For and About Women. Style wasn’t for prudes. It was designed to entertain, delight, provoke, surprise and occasionally horrify, reflecting its founder’s infinite curiosity about society, appreciation for vivid storytelling and deep love of troublemaking.

Or just the straightforward obit:

Mr. Bradlee stationed correspondents around the globe, opened bureaus across the Washington region and from coast to coast in the United States, and he created sections and features — most notably Style, one of his proudest inventions — that were widely copied by others.

Sigh. The good ol’ days.

I see a few of you veered off on a tangent late yesterday — the OMG Renee Zellweger tangent. So, so sad. We must all clasp hands and thank the gods of our understanding that we don’t have to be pretty to make a living, because evidently it sucks. I would have liked to see what she looked like beforehand, because to my mind, what made her adorable was her wonderfully squinty eyes — she always seemed about to laugh. “Unrecognizable” seems to be the adjective that first comes to mind. I wonder about the plastic surgeon’s art; so many variables to consider. Elasticity, armature, that sort of thing. Oh, that poor woman.

A headline you don’t see every day: Drunken trombone-playing clown fires gun from garage, police say

Our governor considers himself very pro-business, except, of course, when he isn’t.

Let’s hope the rest of the week perks up, eh?

Posted at 9:43 pm in Current events | 51 Comments