Happy new year. I hope your 1/1/19 was peaceful and not too hungover. Our neighborhood resounded with gunfire, a Detroit tradition that seems to get worse every year. Yesterday was trash day, and the recycling is always the last to be collected, so the bin was still at the curb, looking ugly. I went down to pick it up shortly after we got home, around midnight-oh-five. Alan told me not to, but I did it anyway, because I like to live dangerously. Cover me, babe, I’m going for the recycling bin.
Meanwhile, in Washington:
Trump used the first day of 2019 to insult a retired U.S. commander in Afghanistan as a dumb loudmouth, sing the praises of an ultranationalist former aide and tell America to “ENJOY THE RIDE.”
That’s a teaser from the home page of the Washington Post. I’m afraid to click. So I won’t. OK, so I will. The self-proclaimed world’s greatest negotiator has invited congressional leaders for a briefing on border security, which I’m sure will be followed by this negotiation tweet: GIVE ME WALL.
But we’ll see that soon enough. Let’s talk…libraries, shall we?
I heard a little of “This American Life” on Sunday; the show was about libraries, and the chapter I heard was about a woman whose mother would take the whole family to the library every day for a year when she was little. It wasn’t until years later that she realized they’d been homeless, and the daily library trip was to give the family they were crashing with a break. She talked about the great children’s librarians who accommodated them and read to them and never made them feel anything but welcome.
It set my mind spinning back to when Kate was young, and I was trying to make it work with her in limited child care, which meant I dropped her at the sitter after lunch. The mornings are good for little kids, but the hours can be very long, and you’re always looking for something to fill them. We’d often go to the library, for story time, or just for a change of scenery from the house. The Allen County Public Library is a goddamn miracle, an institution worthy of a community far larger but somehow in this mid-size city (the county, really). The community loved it fiercely, with a few sourpuss exceptions, and for the most part, the library loved it back. There were programs for pretty much everyone, and the children’s room was particularly great.
I remember all the fantastic librarians who made us, and everybody else, feel welcome. The supervisor was a lesbian, Miss Mary (I think), who had a couple kids of her own. One of her deputies, Miss Beth, often ran story time and was hilarious. I was about as lucky as a mother of a young child could be, but when I think back on those years, I know how much I relied on others to help carry the load, and the library was a big part of it. It was one place in Fort Wayne where I felt absolutely welcome.
Here in Detroit, we don’t have a county-wide library system, and each city and suburb does its best. In Huntington Woods, they’ve instituted a drag queen story hour, which honestly sounds hilarious and something I would have enjoyed with a toddler. But as you can imagine? Some people object:
Warriors for Christ — which describes itself on its website as a pre-denominational ministry modeled after “the 1st century church that Jesus founded (which is not the Catholic Church)” — plans to meet at the library at 3 p.m. on Jan. 26 for prayer. This protest coincides with a scheduled Drag Queen Story Time, whose theme is “I Like Me Just the Way I Am!,” according to a Facebook event page.
The ministry has started its own Facebook event page, Rebuke Drag Queen Story, to get people to attend the protest.
Another group, Mass Resistance, has previously said it will be protesting the event.
And Rod Dreher, the conservative writer whose focus has dwindled down to Pedophile Priests and the Trans Menace, is also pitching a snit over it on his blog:
Why not Leather Daddy Story Hour? If you accept Drag Queen Story Hour, why not? What is the limiting principle? I’m not trolling; I’m asking seriously.
I guess the limiting principle would be whether parents are willing to take their children to that story hour. I’d probably have opted out of that one, but drag queens? What’s the harm? Kids see very tall women with too much makeup, playing a role. Big deal. And if they learn that people come in all shapes, sizes and …other differentiating factors, so much the better.
OK, then, a little bloggage:
The NYT podcast, The Daily, spent the holiday interregnum rerunning some of the year’s better pieces. This edition was a particularly good one, a deep look at how POTUS got rich. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to tell you that the origin story he peddled on the campaign trail — my dad gave me a loan, I paid it back with interest, and spun it into the billions I have today — is, um, a lie.
And this story, about the possibilities of “deepfake” videos, is deeply disturbing. Wait until the Russians start deploying it.
But I don’t want to bum you out as the year begins. Let’s go get it.