Washington slept here.

The death of a prominent figure on the world stage is like a train: The news itself is the engine, and certain predictable cars are dragged behind. Sometimes it’s the New York Times obituary where the byline is of a person who died years earlier. Sometimes it’s the previously unknown (to most, anyway) secret children. But always, always there’s the localization.

Localizing is how editors connect events happening far away to people, businesses or other actors close to home. Princess Diana worked briefly as a nanny, and we all got to meet the American family she nannied for, who remembered her as sweet and pretty and good with the children. The late Jim Barbieri, in little ol’ Bluffton, Ind., could localize a plane crash half a world away with no Americans onboard: “Bluffton-made Franklin Electric submersible motors” were used in the hunt for the black boxes.

So when Queen Elizabeth died, it was only a matter of time before they started turning up. Thanks to Mitch Harper in Fort Wayne for digging up some good ones:

On Mackinac Island, they’re remembering when Elizabeth and Phillip, aboard the royal yacht Britannia, passed under the Mackinac Bridge:

Two hundred thousand turned out to see her in Windsor, across the river from Detroit:

But the best of all might come from little Crown Point, Ind., where they’re thinking of…flowers:

Hey, it’s usually a reach, but people like to feel connected.

You’d be hard-pressed to get me to say a kind word about Ronald Reagan, but I have always liked this photo:

But that’s me: Always a sucker for a horse. We generally see Reagan in western wear, in a western saddle. But a good horseman can handle both, easily. It’s nice to see two people enjoying a shared enthusiasm.

So then, the week begins. We’re winding down to our departure for the next leg of our world travels, and the very last, or sorta-last chore in the refreshment of our house. The floors are finally refinished, and we should move back into our bedroom in a couple more days. Which should leave just enough time to remake the bed, pack the suitcases and run to the airport. Next stop: Barcelona.

But I’ll be back between then and now. So take care, and have a good week.

Posted at 3:43 pm in Current events | 39 Comments
 

Long live the king.

I observed the passing of Queen Elizabeth by pushing my bomb-ass battery-powered sweeper around, sucking up dog hair and thinking about the butterfly effect. What drove Wallis Simpson to set her cap for the Prince of Wales in 1930-something? (My guess is: Money and position, but honestly I don’t care because I have always found their love story boring in the extreme.) Anyway, when she made her play, she set in motion the events that would lead the prince’s niece to become sovereign, rule for 70 years and die as the beloved great-grandmother of a diminished empire, but at least not one that consorted with Nazis.

Funny, that.

Of course, the talk was always that Edward VIII was probably gay and probably sterile (mumps), and even if Wallis had been a blushing virgin and not a twice-divorced American well past heir-producing age, at some point a different line of succession might have had to be drawn up. Still. The crown did a hop, skip and jump, and went first to Elizabeth’s father, who became George VI, before landing on her 25-year-old head in 1952. And there it would stay until Thursday.

That was her on Tuesday after she greeted the new prime minister, and invited her to form a government in her name. You can complain about the waste and anachronistic nature of royalty all you want, but I’d wager most of the tourists who visit the U.K. at least make some time to drive past a palace or three, and as for doing the job, well, she worked overtime.

Imagine holding the same job – and a job it is – for 70 years. She had to hang on through so, so much: The latter half of the 20th century was no picnic for an institution like the monarchy, and then there was the country itself, losing its empire piece by piece. Her children, sensitive Charles and bold Anne, then the second thoughts, Andrew and Edward, had to go through their own wild youths and midlife crises and all the rest of it, all in a spotlight that only grew brighter and hotter with time. Give her this: She outlasted Diana.

Along with the spotlight comes all these, these …commoners, with their own ideas. “The crown should go directly to William,” opined one dipshit American on Facebook. “He’s much more of a leader than Charles.” And this is based on what, exactly? Because Charles cheated on his pretty wife with his homely old girlfriend, I expect would be the answer. Anyway, lady, this isn’t fucking Game of Thrones, anyway. The crown goes to the sovereign’s firstborn, it’s not up for a vote. Charles has been in the waiting room all his life.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to Charles’ monarchy. His goofball interests and life experiences will give the world a different monarchy than his mother’s, and I want him to do the job he’s trained so long for. Long live King Charles III. I hope he has a grand coronation. If hereditary monarchy has to endure this long, at least it should be interesting.

P.S. Queen consort Camilla will be a trip, too – at least I hope so. I so want her to be the three-G&Ts fun grandma of Buckingham Palace.

Other than the excitement of current events and sweeping up dog hair, my only outing Thursday was to Costco, to pick up a prescription and note that not only is the Christmas merch out, but I heard “Joy to the World” on the sound system. I’m so old – how old are you? – I’m so old I remember when people complained that Halloween was too early to start thinking of the holidays.

Have a swell weekend, all.

Posted at 4:42 pm in Current events | 48 Comments
 

Fatness.

I don’t know when it happened, if it was them or me, but I’ve kinda lost my taste for NPR.

It’s been so long since I was a regular listener to commercial radio I can’t even remember — 35 years? Forty? A long time. Obviously nothing should stay frozen in time, especially not a journalism outlet. I don’t miss Bob Edwards, but I miss the personal essays they used to run. I miss the offbeat stories from corners of the world I’ll probably never visit. They’ve been replaced by sometimes painful, flop-sweaty pieces to satisfy someone’s diversity agenda, and what’s worse, they’ve elbowed out actual news.

The other day Alan remarked that one of the January 6 hearings had gotten 30 seconds in the top-of-the-hour news roundup, while a stupid feature on a group called the Lesbian Avengers had gone about eight minutes. What are the Lesbian Avengers? “…An organization that focuses on lesbian issues and visibility through humorous and untraditional activism.” Thanks, Wikipedia. Alan only remembers that they sometimes pass out Hershey’s Kisses with notes attached: “Smile, you’ve been kissed by a lesbian.”

OK, then. Today the story was about Brendan Fraser’s six-minute standing O at the Venice Film Festival, where his latest film debuted. Called “The Whale,” it’s (quoting from the NPR story):

…about a reclusive English teacher (Fraser) who weighs 600 pounds, and as he struggles with his health, tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter. A combination of prosthetics and CGI help Fraser as he portrays this character.

The first half of the story was about how beloved Fraser is, by fans and colleagues alike, and how recent years have been rough on him, for a variety of reasons. He’s had some health challenges, and gained weight, although nowhere near 600 pounds. Maybe 40. He’s no longer Hollywood-slender and matinee idol-handsome. He looks like a Green Bay Packers fan. So what, though. In Darren Aronofsky, he’s probably found the ideal director for his comeback. (Remember what he did for Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.”) So why does the headline for this story read Why Brendan Fraser’s Hollywood comeback story is both warming hearts and raising ire, hmm?

Because an advocate for fat Americans is miffed, that’s why:

Indeed, critics have turned to social media to say that the movie’s premise is inherently dehumanizing. There’s a question of whether it should have been made at all.

Aubrey Gordon, an author and co-host of the Maintenance Phase, a podcast focused on debunking health fads, took to Twitter to call out the movie’s aim.

“It’s so telling that so many only see fat people as ‘humanized’ in media that shows us doing exactly what they expect: living short, small lives; ‘eating ourselves to death’; feeling sad & regretful. All reminders of how tragic it is to be fat, and how superior it is to be thin,” she wrote.

This kind of media just “reinforces viewers’ anti-fat bias,” she wrote.

Gordon is smart, and I’m with her on the inherent societal bias against obesity. (She’s fat, if you haven’t guessed.) Fat acceptance, sign me up. Different-size models in advertising? Yes, please. Fat doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy. But 600 pounds? Any way you slice it, that’s pretty damn unhealthy. One of the undone stories of my career, one I wanted to do for Bridge but left before I could put it together, was on super-obesity, those whose weight has passed the quarter-ton stage and suffer mightily as a result. I met a doctor who paid house calls on those patients, and told me what it leads to, i.e., a spiral. The bigger you are, the harder it is to move, the harder it is to move, the less you move. The less you move, the worse you feel. Which leads to more eating, weight gain, etc. Most of his patients that size were virtual shut-ins, afraid to get out much in the world, for all the reasons you can imagine. Needless to say, everything hurt, especially hips and knees.

Tommy Tomlinson is a gifted writer, a former columnist in Charlotte, married to a former colleague of mine in Fort Wayne. At his heaviest, he weighed 460 pounds, and his memoir, “The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America,” was full of excruciating detail about the million calculations one has to make when you’re that size: Will that chair hold me? Will any other furniture hold me? If I’m not sure, can I stand without social awkwardness? And so on. I read excerpts and felt not anti-fat bias, but deep empathy – we all have our addictions, our weaknesses, and the idea of seeing an actor as talented as Fraser bring this complicated emotional stew to life sounds pretty great to me.

I’m reminded of the backlash to “Fatal Attraction,” the way feminists hollered over the idea of a crazy spurned lover, that it dehumanized single women, etc. As a sane single woman at the time, I didn’t feel dehumanized.

So while I appreciate that NPR is stretching like Elastoman to include the fat person’s perspective, I think this is fairly ridiculous in this context, and if it weren’t for the musical weekends on WDET, I probably wouldn’t give them another dime. There’s a question of whether it should have been made at all! Mercy.

So, bloggage:

It was a pretty fun long weekend for us. We saw Kate play in both of her bands, at the Hamtramck Labor Day festival, and both performances were pretty great. The second band, the side project, is GiGi, which got a little ink ahead of the fest, and I had NO IDEA it had appeared, which shows where my head’s been of late.

A local theme park, Cedar Point, announced it was retiring one of its very edgy coasters, following the injury of a rider a couple years back. The park was not held responsible, for the record. I always thought there was a book in the development of a modern roller coaster. When I started taking Kate to Cedar Point, I was amazed at how high-tech and insanely scary they are, yet still (mostly) safe. They gave me heart palpitations just to look at them, honestly. But I’d read a book like that. Cedar Point, hire me! I’m a good explainer.

Finally, in the bottomless pit of indignities our former president has visited upon our land, here’s this: He tried to pay a lawyer – a Jones Day lawyer, no less! – with a horse.

That’s a good note to end on. Happy Wednesday.

Posted at 8:37 pm in Current events, Media, Movies | 49 Comments
 

Her pet goat.

You Ohioans probably know, or remember when, the Ohio State Fair was a big honkin’ deal. Former Gov. Jim Rhodes, a country boy from down Jackson County way, purely loved it, and used it as a platform for publicity, every single year.

He would personally attend the livestock auction in the fair’s last days, not actually doing the patter but cheerleading the bidding, which set new sale price records every year. The papers ran photos of all the winners and their bids, which were astronomical. I think I’ve told this story, but here it goes again: After Rhodes left office, there was some pushback on the higher-every-year thing. Rhodes always framed it as “you’re helping send a farm kid to college,” or at least helping him or her with a down payment on their own spread, but one year the seller of the grand champion beef steer took his mid-five-figure sum and spent it on a new pickup truck with all the shit on it. This displeased the buyer (usually Wendy’s). Some time after that, another high-dollar steer went to slaughter and, when the hide was stripped off the animal, globs of silicone gel fell out, touching off a cheating scandal in the formerly all-good-news arena of the country’s biggest state fair.

(Yeah, I know, Texas blah blah. I don’t believe it.)

Prices dropped sharply thereafter. :::touches earpiece::: Wait, I have a correction to make. Prices seem to have risen again. This year’s grand champion steer — always the highest-priced animal in the sale — was sold for $225,000 and HOLY SHITBALLS that’s a lot of money for some hamburgers. It sold to a Volvo dealer, too. Huh. Well, that doesn’t contradict everything above, although clearly prices didn’t stay low forever.

All of this is getting to the story I was leading up to, about the year a girl brought her lamb into the ring and started to cry. The lamb bleated and nuzzled her hand, and every time it did, she cried harder. She knew what fate awaited her pretty, prize-winning lamby, and the governor stopped the auction and made a speech. “This lamb was raised by this girl from the minute it hit the ground, and she loves it like a pet,” he said, along with something else to the effect that he expected whoever won the bid to respect that. The gavel fell, and the buyer announced he was immediately giving the lamb back to the girl. There was lots of cheering and hugging. This touched off a cascade of charity, and at the end, everyone had spent a lot of money and every kid was taking their animal or animals back home. (Where, I have to think, almost every single one was immediately sold again, to a slaughterhouse.)

At the time I thought this was a sweet story, and told it to a 4-H official in Indiana, after I moved there. His brow furrowed. That was absolutely, positively the wrong thing for the governor to do, as well as everyone else, he said. Farm kids know what animals are raised for, even sweet fluffy lambs, and that’s what the competition is all about — not the cutest lamb, but the meatiest, the best conformation, the highest potential return on investment, which is, after all, what keeps a farm paying its bills. Click the link and take a look at that quarter-million-dollar steer, and you’ll see that is no typical farm-field specimen.

And now, more than 500 words into it, we get to the story of Cedar the goat, as told by the New York Times.

Cedar also had a sentimental owner, a California girl under the age of 10, perhaps not cut out for a farming career:

She fed him twice a day and walked him everywhere, often on a leash, like a puppy, (Jessica) Long said in an interview on Thursday. The goat was afraid at first, having been taken from his herd, but he warmed up to the girl and ran up to greet her, Ms. Long said.

So as the June 25 auction approached, the idea that Cedar would be sold — not as a creature but as 82 pounds of meat — began to horrify the girl, who was enrolled in a local 4-H program.

They tried to withdraw it from the auction. Not allowed. They moved Cedar to a farm 200 miles away. The fair sent the law after Cedar; two cops made a 500-mile round trip to fetch him back. And now Long is suing:

“They went and took Cedar without a warrant from this property and brought him back that evening,” Ryan R. Gordon, a lawyer for Ms. Long, said in an interview on Thursday. “All the sheriff’s deputy told me was, we turned him over to who we deemed was the owner. And that’s the problem. The sheriff’s deputies are not the judge. They don’t get to deem who the owner is.”

So much drama! Over a goat! And what happened to Cedar? It wasn’t a happy ending, we know that much:

Mr. Gordon, who is co-director of the nonprofit law firm Advancing Law for Animals, said he believed Cedar might have ended up at a barbecue organized by another young farmers’ group, the National FFA Organization, the next day, but he did not know for sure.

There’s more to the story: The winning bidder was a state senator making a gubernatorial bid, who probably wishes he was a million miles away now. There’s also this priceless line:

“It is noteworthy that Cedar’s successful bidder was not entitled to, and did not purchase, Cedar,” the lawsuit stated. “Rather, the successful bidder was entitled only the cuts of meat that were Cedar.”

It sounds like the girl didn’t take this well, as you might expect. Poor Cedar. He looked like a very nice goat.

And now state fair season is over. Cedar is dead, summer is dying, and today it barely rose above 70 degrees. (It felt GREAT.) Happy labor day, all.

Posted at 7:00 pm in Current events | 45 Comments
 

Decibels for days.

I didn’t watch Biden’s speech last night. I hardly ever watch presidential speeches, especially the State of the Union. If they’re brief and of the breaking-news variety, like Obama announcing the death of bin Laden, sure. But stuff like last night, I read the transcript. And I found little that was specifically objectionable in there, although I admit I was surprised, and not in a bad way, that he mentioned Trump by name.

High time, though.

Of course, the MAGAs are flipping out over this, but I have a feeling we’re well into the “find out” phase of their fucking around, so you can’t say it wasn’t coming.

I managed to be out most of today, and came home to discover sanding is well underway. The noise, oh the noise, so I’ll keep this short. Also, the weekend awaits, and we all want to get that underway.

Just one piece of bloggage, really:

This woman, endorsed by Trump, is the GOP nominee for secretary of state. Shudder.

Have a great weekend. Swim, picnic, have a blast.

Posted at 4:48 pm in Current events | 21 Comments
 

Same old song.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The floor guys messaged us on Sunday afternoon and said oops, the last job turned out more complicated than we thought, so we’ll be a week later. Alan pointed out that we are leaving the goddamn country in a little over two weeks, so they agreed to come by and make the repairs that have to be done before the sanding/staining/sealing stuff starts on…Friday.

I know contractors work hard. I know shit happens. But just kill me now.

As it stands now, we’ll have about 5 days to get the house put back together before we leave, but oh well these are not problems. And then the spending will stop, or at least slow down, for a while.

Meanwhile, we might as well spend all our money now, because in a few more years this stupid country may well be sinking into the sea. I present to you the story of how a county election staff imploded over not Donald Trump, but…fluoridation:

Anti-fluoride groups have been active in the United States for decades, but have experienced a bump in popularity in recent years. By 2018, more than 70 cities in the United States had banned adding fluoride to their water systems, including some in Texas. Fredericksburg, the largest city in Gillespie County, held its own vote in 2019.

For years, Texas’s most vocal critic of fluoridated water has been Laura Pressley of Williamson County, a perennial candidate for office in central Texas who has yet to win a race. Local press often highlights her advocacy of disproven conspiracy theories. She has appeared on Alex Jones’ programming, and has said that “something was planted” in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. In recent years, she has become a self-styled poll watching expert and vocal opponent of electronic voting systems, training hundreds of people across the state in what election administrators say are disruptive practices that harm election integrity.

“Our elections are the representation of free will, and if we can’t trust that our free will is being represented legally and accurately, then God’s will is being thwarted,” she said at a meeting in Hood County in 2021. In recent years, she’s filed unsuccessful lawsuits against counties across the state over a variety of alleged voting problems.

And you know the rest of the story, how the constant harassment and threats and I’m-not-paid-enough-for-this led to the woman who ran elections in this Texas county to say exactly that. But it’s a good story.

I wrote about fluoridation once, too, about a dispute in northern Michigan. It was 2015, which felt like a million years ago, in terms of our current situation. The moral of my story is, don’t try to push a fluoride ban in the home of Michigan Community Dental Clinics corporate offices. Although who knows how it would go now.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. If you are one of those who observe, consider fretting about something else. Like whether or not my floors will ever get done.

Happy Wednesday, all.

Posted at 7:41 am in Current events | 54 Comments
 

Unstacked.

Someone suggested I think about starting a Substack newsletter in my, ahem, retirement. I have thought about it, and I’m troubled by a few things:

1) Many days, I have very little to say, and would feel terrible charging anyone for it.

2) Even if I did the free thing, what if Substack goes toes-up? Another migration of content I don’t need.

3) It’s my goal to have the last surviving blog in the world.

Seriously, though, while I have no doubt at least some of you suckers lovely people might be generous enough to give me $20, $30 or $40 a year to read what I have to say, I don’t know that I could accept it, even though I firmly believe writing is work that is worth paying for. I have subscriptions to several paid Substacks (fave: Roy Edroso Breaks It Down), and several more to unpaid Substacks – a common setup is one freebie a week, and one or more bonus editions for the paying guests – and already it’s starting to annoy me; as a sales tactic, either the platform or the individual writers will send out teaser editions, with five grafs of writing, then a “want more? you gotta subscribe” pitch. There’s no easy way to know if the email you’re about to open is the complete freebie or the incomplete teaser.

I think, at least for now, this will remain a free-to-all space. I feel no pressure to produce if I’m feeling down or empty (although I usually do, unfortunately). I have a friend who uses Substack to write short fiction, with the gimmick that he does it every single day. A short story a day, going on more than two years now. Every so often he pitches for more subscribers, and he sounds almost angry that more people aren’t signing up. Writing fiction is hard work for sure, but it should also have something to say, or be entertaining, or be something other than a gimmick, which it inevitably becomes when you’ve pledged to produce it every single day.

I don’t want or need another job like that. There’s an argument to be made for taking it easy. I will write as long as I’m able, but having just finished 40 years of deadlines, I won’t take on any more right now. Now that we’re in our (gasp) third decade here, I’ll stick with dumb ol’ WordPress a little longer.

I was an early adopter of blogging, and now I’m a dead-ender of blogging. Me and Neil Steinberg, hangin’ in there. In a Laura Lippman line I’ve certainly quoted here before: She never met a rut she couldn’t love.

If a crisis hits and I have to beg for money, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’ll tell you this: One of my goals for post-work is to raise my game here. Won’t be so busy, will have more time to think things through. Fingers crossed.

Bloggage: I don’t think this story is paywalled. It is instructive, however, about some of the candidates invited to a “Call to Action” conference hosted by Church Militant, which is a far-far-far-right Catholic outfit here. Here’s our Republican candidate for Michigan Secretary of State:

“We see the authoritarians that have taken over the Democratic Party, the traitors that exist in our own party. We understand that we the people have got to rise up, get involved,” Karamo said, sharing a couch with Arizona Republican secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem.

The two are part of the America First Secretary of State Coalition, a group of election deniers vying to serve as their states’ top election administrators that includes those campaigning on a blend of stolen election claims and evangelism. Their campaigns appear to be part of a larger Christian nationalist movement marked by radical religious and political views, according to experts.

…”Part of my passion is to get more Christians involved in government,” she said during the panel. “We’re not trying to establish a theocracy,” she emphasized later. The “justice and the truth that we are fighting for” is for everyone, not just Christians, she said. “We just hope at the end of the day, they come to Christ.”

Ai-yi-yi. She doesn’t have much of a chance, but still.

Meanwhile, the two mopes who plotted to kidnap the governor were convicted today. Good news for midweek. See you all later. Tip your waitress, but not me.

Posted at 9:28 pm in Current events, Housekeeping | 46 Comments
 

The surveillance state.

I back up my phone to Google Photos, and it’s starting to freak me out. The first thing it does when you upload your library is, it starts to look for matching faces, then asks you if you want to ID that face and make an album. I did this for my family members and close friends; it makes searching for pictures much easier.

It was a little unnerving that it could tell 4-year-old Kate was the same as 24-year-old Kate (although it couldn’t tell Wendy from Kevin, and they share only modest similarities). But then today, it flagged this photo, a throwaway from Kate’s high-school graduation in 2015. Who’s this guy, it asked:

That’s Kate’s friend Will. I ID’d him as such, and pretty soon it put this pic, from March 2020, in that album:

Man, I’d be hard-pressed to say that was the same kid; his appearance is pretty different there. Like Kate, Will is a musician. His band is the Stools (and they’re great). And Google stuffed these pics, from last summer’s Labor Day festival in Hamtramck, in there:

At least in that one, he looks close to his high-school self. And as for this, I can only assume it figured that since we know he’s White T-Shirt Guy in the pictures taken close to one another at the same location, that’s probably the back of White T-Shirt Guy’s head, too:

I realize this is just an AI thing, but it’s a bit unsettling. Will’s a good kid, but I hate to think we’re all out there somewhere, and Google Knows All.

But that horse has left the barn.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Kate from Friday night, when her other band, GiGi, played at a local punk/garage fest at a bar nearby. Someone was setting off fireworks nearby, and it made for some nice shots:

Well, it happened: I no sooner announce my exit from journalism than my swim coach pitched me on being a lifeguard at the Grosse Pointe Shores (or any other GP pool) next summer. Not sure if I want to do it, but it could be fun. My career, it takes a turn!

In bloggage, I have only this, which many of you have already seen, but on the tiny chance someone hasn’t, it’s so, so worth a click: A withering takedown of Jared Kushner’s White House memoir:

Every political cliché gets a fresh shampooing. “Even in a starkly divided country, there are always opportunities to build bridges,” Kushner writes. And, quoting the former White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell: “Every day here is sand through an hourglass, and we have to make it count.” So true, for these are the days of our lives.

Kushner, poignantly, repeatedly beats his own drum. He recalls every drop of praise he’s ever received; he brings these home and he leaves them on the doorstep. You turn the pages and find, almost at random, colleagues, some of them famous, trying to be kind, uttering things like:

It’s really not fair how the press is beating you up. You made a very positive contribution.

I don’t know how you do this every day on so many topics. That was really hard! You deserve an award for all you’ve done.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again. This agreement would not have happened if it wasn’t for Jared.

Jared did an amazing job working with Bob Lighthizer on the incredible USMCA trade deal we signed yesterday.

Jared’s a genius. People complain about nepotism — I’m the one who got the steal here.

I’ve been in Washington a long time, and I must say, Jared is one of the best lobbyists I’ve ever seen.

A therapist might call these cries for help.

And then there’s the eye-goo line. But you’ve already seen that in a million places.

OK, time to take on my second-to-last week in journalism. Short-timer! What a feeling.

Posted at 4:47 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 35 Comments
 

– 30 –

I was going to post something last night, but saw my editor had this column ready to go, so I held off. To save you a click, Deadline Detroit is closing up shop on Labor Day, which means the Summer of Nance will end with a bang: Retirement, more or less.

I say “more or less” because I expect I’ll work again, somewhere. One thing about losing your job: It opens a lot of doors you might not have considered walking through. Maybe I’ll re-activate my lifeguard certification and become one of those old bags with a whistle. This sounds appealing – working part-time for an airline to cop the free-flights benefit. I always thought it might be fun to work in one of Michigan’s weed dispensaries; there has to be a book in it. There’s a labor shortage in this country. I won’t starve.

But before any of that happens, we’ll be doing more traveling – Spain, this time, mid-September to mid-October – and I’ll spend that time thinking about what I want to do next. Something election-related might be cool in the short term, because democracy ain’t gonna save itself.

Don’t worry about me. We saved our money, our house is almost paid off, I’ll be on Medicare November 1 and I still have my health, as they say. I told Allan (boss Allan, not husband Alan) that I’d stick it out until Deadline ran out of money, and I thought it would happen well before this. Truth be told, I have a spring in my step. It’s…interesting to not know what you’ll be doing January 1.

Mostly, I’m grateful that, in the last years of my career, I was able to have fun at work again, something that’s been missing since roughly the turn of the century. The News-Sentinel was like being aboard a sinking ship. Bridge was fine but Stress City. The Research Council was fine but so quiet and cloistered it could have been an insurance office. I didn’t make a lot of money at Deadline, but the stress was low and we had some good times. So I’m at peace with that.

I’ll hear your suggestions for how I should play out my string.

Speaking of democracy not saving itself, I have one piece of bloggage, and I beg you to read it: Jane Mayer’s deep dive on how state legislatures are, in the headline’s word, torching it. It concentrates on Ohio, but the same thing could be said about Michigan (although it’s looking up here), Florida and many other states. I read it and was chilled to the bone. Please do so yourself.

Now I’m going to finish one of my last DD newsletters and maybe make some calls for one more story. Later, guys.

Posted at 8:22 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 46 Comments
 

Business as usual.

It’s been quite a crazy few days, eh? Salman Rushdie nearly killed, a nutjob trying to get into an FBI field office, and what am I watching on TV right now? The Princess Diana thing on HBO. There are advantages to not having cable, I guess.

The most impressive part of the Di movie? A short clip of Queen Elizabeth riding sidesaddle at one of her trooping-the-color events. Never tried it, but it looks hard. I’d never do it without a bombproof horse under me, but I guess she has plenty of those in her stables.

That is, of course, the entire theme of “The Crown,” the only reason to subscribe to Netflix these days (one of these days they’ll drop another season, I guess) – that it’s the queen holding the whole works together.

This year is the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death. A tragedy, of course, but the whole thing was: This unprepared girl, recruited as a broodmare, utterly unprepared for what she was getting herself into. She could have been just another member of the British upper class, smoking cigarettes and soaking up gin-and-tonics starting at lunch. She chose not to be. Alas.

Twenty-five years later, here we are, with a former president who sinks lower and lower, and an insane public – some of them, anyway – that still loves him, defends him, would kill FBI agents for him. God, it’s repulsive, isn’t it? I rather wish I lived in an England having a hysterical breakdown.

Thank all of you for your comments about the nature of document security at the federal level in the previous post. I learn so much from you.

Meanwhile, I introduced Alan to the wonderful world of the Petfinder Names Twitter account:

Let’s not forget this one:

And my personal favorite, for a three-legged Chihuahua:

Meanwhile, this strikes me as the real outrage of the weekend:

The Norwegian authorities killed a 1,300-pound walrus named Freya on Sunday who had spent the past weeks off the coast of Oslo climbing onto boats and lounging on piers, saying that moving her was “too high risk.”

“In the end, we couldn’t see any other options,” said Olav Lekver, a spokesman for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries. “She was in an area that wasn’t natural for her.”

The hell you say.

Happy Monday. I’m opting for Something over Something Better tonight. Sorry.

Posted at 9:20 pm in Current events | 48 Comments