Turn the page.

It’s Monday, which is allegedly a day off for me. It rarely works out that way — I always end up doing something work-related — but I have no deadline bearing down, I spent yesterday dusting and vacuuming, there’s food in the pantry and we’re supposed to get two to four inches of snow today, so I’m clearing the decks and declaring this a Real Day Off. I’m going to read my old friend David Heath’s new book about the development of the Covid vaccine and maybe even take a nap.

But first, a few words for you lovely people.

I read Neil Steinberg’s year-old blog about John Kass this morning, and it reminded me of a truth about newspapers, or what’s left of them: Not everything in it is for you. Or for me. A newspaper is what used to be known as a generalist publication, meaning there had to be something in it for everyone in the whole family. Horoscopes, puzzles, comics, sports scores, stock prices, etc. When we arrived in town, the News and Free Press would even include a few paragraphs of shipping news, i.e., which vessels would be passing up and down Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, in case you were curious about what the Arthur M. Anderson was carrying, and where she was heading.

If I had read Neil’s blog before I read yesterday’s Page One weeper in the Freep, I might have found the strength to avert my eyes before they started rolling back in my head. It’s paywalled, so I’ll summarize: A registered nurse, a father of seven young children, is recently widowed. The headline: While ER nurse was saving wounded Oxford kids, his wife was dying from COVID-19. He was working the ER, his usual post, when the school shooting happened last November. The story is pitched as a tribute to #OxfordStrong, as the inevitable hashtag goes, because even though he has lost his wife and has all these kids and a demanding job, his church and neighbors are rising to the challenge, etc.

This is not the sort of story I generally find compelling. I’ve read too many of them through the years, and that people are capable of great good and generous grace is not news to me. I’m glad the guy is getting by with a lot of help from his friends. I’m ready to leave the rest of it unread when, record scratch:

As Holt prepared for Elizabeth’s funeral, he Googled her name, trying to find her obituary for some details, and he came across a website that mocked Elizabeth’s illness and death. John and Elizabeth Fowler held strong anti-vaccination views and were attacked on social media.

“I stumbled upon that website,” Holt said. “You know what? I’m OK if you want to be anti-vax or pro-vax. But I’m not OK when you’re anti-people. The problem with politics and vaccinations and religion, and all of that, is that people get caught up in the concept, or they get caught up in the construct of it, rather than the people.”

This wasn’t a debate about an issue. This was an attack, almost a gleeful celebration that she had died.

I bet I know which website he might have found — there’s one whose URL I can’t remember, which lists the deaths of outspoken antivaxxers, and then there’s the Reddit sub called Herman Cain Awards. Probably one of those two. I’ve seen them, but don’t participate; I haven’t the emotional bandwidth, and the older I get, I figure, why bother, it won’t do any good.

That said, this nurse is full of shit. His late wife was a nurse, too, I should mention that. So these two nurses, health-care professionals, he with a master’s degree with “an emphasis on public health,” are/were not only anti-Covid vaccine, they appear to be anti-all vaccines, if this passage is any indication:

“I don’t trust the vaccine companies,” he says. “Because there’s no control. They can make a product that the FDA or whoever CDC says it’s safe. But then if your kid is affected, you cannot do anything to them about it. They’re completely protected by the government.”

He says that McLaren Oakland allows medical and religions exemptions to a vaccine mandate.

“I have a master’s in nursing with an emphasis on public health,” he said. “So I’m not uneducated, right. It’s just, I, I’ve told my kids I said, ‘hey, when you get older, and if you want to pursue college, I’m perfectly OK with you when your immune systems are stronger. If you do a slow course of the different vaccines you need to forward your education, I’m OK with that.’ I just didn’t want to do it when they’re young.”

“Do you regret that you and your wife were not vaccinated?” I ask.

“No,” he says.

Just once, just once!!! I want to hear one of these people say, “Y’know, we were wrong about that. Elizabeth should have gotten the vaccine. All of our now-motherless children should be vaccinated against the vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. And of course I, a nurse who works in an emergency room during a pandemic, will be getting my Covid vaccine a.s.a.p.”

I mean, he’s a NURSE. He works in a HOSPITAL. He has a MASTER’S DEGREE. He studied PUBLIC HEALTH. And somehow he got that degree without learning about vaccines. Or the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, for that matter. I wouldn’t set foot in that fucking hospital.

I shouldn’t have read that story. It wasn’t for me.

OK, then. The snow is coming down, but in flakes so fine you have to look for it out the window. Time to crack that book. Happy Monday, if that’s possible.

Posted at 10:35 am in Current events, Media | 39 Comments
 

Stop the damn presses.

The January Uncluttering is complicated this year. We’re ripping up carpet, preparing to redo hardwood floors, and of course, still waiting on the Ukrainians to come redo two bathrooms. But it’ll get done. Pandemic time passes slowly, but it still runs one minute at a time. We’ve offloaded one large piece of furniture, with a second going later this week, fingers crossed. And last week I schlepped three boxes and one bag of books to the used bookstore in downtown Detroit, and left with $60 in store credit that I will probably give away because I have a teensy little problem with accumulating books.

The goal for 2022: Reduce. Become more nimble. Accomplish 10 percent of my Death Cleaning, but don’t actually die in the process.

For Christmas, I asked for very little, but I did receive two new books. Ha ha.

It was a newsy weekend hereabouts. Nothing like sitting down to eat on Saturday and learning the University of Michigan has fired — fired! — its president. It’s the usual reason: Improper relationship with an underling. From the looks of the emails released by the Board of Regents to justify the decision, looks like someone fairly close to the office, an assistant or scheduler or something. Once again, I am amazed at how a man smart enough to have a million degrees, a medical scientist earning more than $900K a year running a major university, is too dumb to conduct a fling anywhere other than his work email. I mean, there are literal apps for this. There’s Gmail, for crying out loud. The mind boggles.

Then there was the volcanic explosion in the Pacific, which was just…daaaammmmnn. The time-lapse satellite views made it look like a bomb, which of course it was, albeit a natural one. Nature always wins, a lesson we’ll learn yet again, one day. One of the books I got for Christmas was “Under the Wave at Waimea,” Paul Theroux’s surfing novel, where several chapters take place in weird, impoverished Pacific island nations like Tonga. This won’t help the local economy, but maybe the influx of researchers will.

I woke up this morning, and read about a fight at a local steakhouse, and not a cheap one. An unruly patron pulled a knife and stabbed a security guard, and the security guard pulled a gun and shot him to death. And so you see where we the phrase “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” comes from.

Detroit. Never a dull moment.

And finally, there was this:

I have no more words. No, I have these: Boy, he really sounds like an old man, doesn’t he?

Entertainment notes: If you have Apple TV, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is absolutely worth your time, a taut, expertly staged and acted production. Sets, score, costumes, photography, etc., all first-rate, and accomplished in under two hours, hallelujah. If you struggle with Elizabethan dialogue, try turning on closed captions, which did the trick for us.

Is that all? I think so. Supposed to be warmer this week, but gray. So what, I’ll take it.

Posted at 4:25 pm in Current events, Movies | 62 Comments
 

Wasted.

Yesterday I learned of the death, this week, of a certain local woman. I didn’t know her, but knew of her. Whenever I had reason to watch the local school-board meetings on livestream, she was often among the public-comment speakers. She always prefaced her remarks with a long Bible verse, and often warned members of who they’d have to answer to if they continued on the road to perdition, which they always were.

She spoke for God, in other words, and she had the usual right-wing positions. Her latest issue was masking in schools (she was opposed), and on her website, there’s a hodgepodge of paranoia over vaccines and why the God-approved treatments of hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, Vitamin D, etc. are being kept from The People.

You’ll never guess what killed her.

Which would be merely a tragedy to her family and friends, except for this, a note left by her sister on the dead woman’s Facebook page. The sister appears to still have a rational brain:

Seven weeks. SEVEN WEEKS, much of that in intensive care. Seven goddamn weeks, refusing treatment. If anyone wonders why doctors and nurses are shattering like dropped china, here’s one big clue, this woman who refused to save herself, taking up the most expensive real estate in an American hospital for nearly two months.

Hate to be a bummer, but maybe the bright side is this: I’m still capable of being astounded by this stuff. Yay me.

And thanks to the Supreme Court, there will be more Alisons in more hospitals, because Freedom. God bless America.

I want to leave you on a cheerier note, so here’s this: Treble-vaccinated, I am taking care of myself. No symptoms yet from our heedless safari for hummus last week, so feeling I escaped that one. Meanwhile, you do the same. And have a great weekend.

Posted at 8:42 am in Current events | 38 Comments
 

Stir-crazy.

There comes a time, even in a pandemic, when one simply can’t abide the restrictions for one more minute, throws caution to the wind and opts for something UTTERLY CRAZY like… indoor dining.

It was perhaps irresponsible, yes, but honestly I thought I was going to crack from boredom. Alan too, so when he said, “You want to do something?” I thought fuck yeah, I want to try this spot in Dearborn I’ve been meaning to check out for something like three years. I know we’re negative and won’t be infecting anyone. If it goes the other direction, well, I knew the risk.

This place is said to have the best hummus on the planet. (Possible headline for my obit: Unsuccessful writer ‘died for hummus;’ in last words, claims ‘it was worth it’) I can report that while my personal experience with hummus isn’t all that wide, it was in fact very good, and so was the foul, the harhoura, the falafel and the mint tea, as well as the roasted potatoes they sent to the table on the house, why I’m not sure. But I tipped 25 percent. Everyone’s having a hard time, and it was so nice to get out. Of course any carb-fest in Dearborn wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Shatila, a bakery and sweet shop where they serve Lebanese and French pastries:

Truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of that super-fussy style of dessert — I’ll take a good slice of in-season peach or apple pie over that, any day — although they certainly are fun to look at. And my choice, the pineapple cake at the top left, was very good.

While we were at the first place, we stumbled across the restaurant’s chickpea stash and I took a picture, but I won’t post it here because I suspect it could be an OSHA violation to store a literal ton of chickpeas in 50-pound sacks in a hallway, but when they’re destined for such tastiness, I am willing to keep my mouth shut.

And now I’m so full I won’t eat until tomorrow, but a good swim in the morning will use up the calories.

It was a fine day, for January anyway, and we drove home on surface streets, Warren Avenue all the way, from the hookah shops and clothing stores for traditional Arab women through the industrial this and that of Detroit, then Wayne State, then the east side and all the way to GP.

On the drive out, Alan’s phone chirped with a news alert, which he immediately checked. “I always hope it’s news about Trump having a massive stroke,” he confessed. “Not today.”

The rest of the weekend was spent absorbing another Lansing scandal: The most recent Speaker of the House, a 33-year-old preacher’s kid who spent his six years in the lower chamber basically being a professional Christian, was revealed as anything but. His sister-in-law came forward to claim he started sexually abusing her when she was 15 (and he was 21), and didn’t stop until last summer. It’s a tawdry tale, but only surprising if you are shocked that halo-polishing Christians dig hanging at strip clubs and banging lots of chicks. I am not.

Nor am I surprised by the ex-Speaker’s high-and-tight fashy haircut. It’s like semiotics with these guys.

Bloggage? Here’s something a little light-hearted, that serves as a pretty good example of why Detroit stands alone as a news town, or at least on a par with Miami: A flashback story about the time a radical anarchist prankster threw a shaving-cream pie in the face of a so-called “child guru,” then was tracked down by the guru’s followers and beaten with a hammer. The prankster sounds like someone I would have liked a lot:

Halley was a well-known rebel character in the Wayne State University neighborhood. He drove a cab for a living but was also a writer, poet, pamphleteer, actor and self-described anarchist clown. He staged guerilla-theater events in parks, streets and the lobby of the Fisher Theatre, where he and fellow performers taunted people paying top dollar for mainstream Broadway plays.

Operating his own storefront theater, Halley once put on a satire about the 1978 massacre in Jonestown, Guyana, offering the audience Kool-Aid. That was a sardonic reference to the hundreds of Jonestown cult members who died after a drinking a fruit-flavored beverage laced with poison. On another occasion, Halley led audience members through the Cass Corridor as actors popped out from behind trees and garbage cans. One of his characters was Dirty Dog the Clown, who played a harmonica and spouted radical slogans.

In a 1978 Free Press article that recalled the pie incident, Halley, with a straight face, told a reporter the plastic plate surgeons had implanted in his head picked up radio signals.

All this entertainment for the cost of a newspaper. I ask you.

Happy week ahead, all. Let’s hope I’m still testing negative at the end of it.

Posted at 6:20 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments
 

It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere.

Covid test came back negative. I went back to the pool Wednesday. Of course, if I go to the pool, there’s a chance I’ll get it from one of my fellow swimmers, because everybody has Covid here. Kate’s entire band. All the other bands in the city, seemingly. And now, the governor’s husband.

Part of me wants to get this over with before we have our bathrooms remodeled at the end of the month. God knows those Ukrainian contractors haven’t been vaccinated.

Just what we need, coming out of the holidays, right? Another winter confined to quarters, or to a drafty tent somewhere? I put on makeup and a fancy French scarf to go to CVS this afternoon, because I think I may be going insane. As the man says, I picked the wrong month to stop drinking.

Oh, what am I talking about? We had a lovely dinner tonight. (This one, plus some oven-roasted potatoes.) Tomorrow starts the weekend. The tree has been dragged to the curb and run through the chipper. Kate and Alan are downstairs buffing the bass they’re working on. Life is good, even if it is very cold. Eleven degrees this morning, 19 at the moment.

Peter Bogdanovich, or as I like to think of him, Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, died today, a man with great talent who proved that at heart, even great artists of keen intelligence are sexual toddlers. His erotic fixation was a lot like John Derek’s, it turns out. Derek was married four times; his last three wives looked so much like one another they could have been sisters. Bogdanovich fell for a series of 20-year-old blondes, two of them sisters. Those would be Dorothy and Louise Stratten, of course, and you can google the details. Dorothy was murdered by the husband she left to be with Peter, of course. We all saw “Star 80,” which wasn’t terrible at all, and not directed by Bogdanovich, but Bob Fosse. Don’t know much about Louise, except that she’s allegedly a movie producer and that their marriage didn’t last. (No! Really?)

I liked him as Kupferberg, which for you non-“Sopranos” watchers was Tony’s therapist’s therapist. He was great in the part, no doubt having done years of therapy himself. He understood the subtle humor of the role, the kind of doctor who keeps a giant water bottle at hand and drinks from it often, because lord knows you can’t drink enough water, can you?

Anyway, he was 82, surprisingly old to me. He got his full measure.

I see everyone took apart that J.D. Vance profile from a few days back, so I won’t bother to link. What a fucking maroon that guy turned out to be. This seems to get to the point with admirable succinctness:

Onward to the weekend, then. Have a good one.

Posted at 8:53 pm in Current events | 49 Comments
 

Poor Margie.

Day three without alcohol, and I slept well last night and had the best workout I’ve had in a while. Starting to remember why I do this every year.

There’s a fair number of doom-and-gloomers on Twitter at the moment, ringing the fear bell, saying omicron will devastate American workforces in coming weeks, and it’s best if you stock up on everything now and have a plan for when you’re down to existing on ketchup soup and a seven-year-old can of white asparagus spears, which is all that’s left in your pantry. Case numbers certainly are mind-bogglingly high, but hospitalization is fairly stable. I’m not inclined to panic just yet. Although I headed out to the grocery at a very bad time yesterday (5 p.m.) and found it had been stripped like the last visitors were a swarm of locusts. I’m blaming that on the holiday weekend, however. Lots of company, much of it staying longer thanks to airport snafus.

Meanwhile, Margie Greene lost her Twitter permanently, leading some of American’s leading conservative intellectuals to lose their shit:

Once again, I must say it: The comedown of this guy, from Thoughtful GOP Leader to I’ll-Say-Anything-to-Get-Elected Troll, is breathtaking. And he still won’t get elected.

Just a quick blog offering today, the NYT obit for Sandra Jaffe, who along with her husband established Preservation Hall in New Orleans, and in many ways saved traditional jazz in the process. Another of the many, many contributions of Jews to jazz.

Random France picture? Sure. Since it’s scarf season, a stop at the Hermes store:

Au revoir!

Posted at 8:48 am in Current events | 47 Comments
 

Debating the asterisk.

I was making a new recipe for chicken curry and threw the seeds and trimmings of a jalapeño pepper down the disposal, then made the mistake of turning it on and not immediately running to the other side of the kitchen. Been coughing ever since. Instant pepper spray! How many times have I learned this lesson? Too many times to count. Sometimes I feel like the world’s stupidest home cook.

The curry was…C+, I guess. Splendid Table recipe, used yogurt. I think I prefer coconut milk, but it was good enough for dinner and it’ll be fine for next-day lunch.

The carnage in Kentucky was awful, as was some of the social-media snark about Rand Paul strutting on the floor of the Senate in 2012, talking about how “other people’s money” was going for relief from Hurricane Sandy. The response to a 180 in a dim-bulb libertarian may well be jeering, but maybe we can point this out another time, eh? The response to a disaster in the United States is to relieve the suffering. Yes, Rand Paul is an hypocrite. Yes, the people of Kentucky elected him (and Mitch McConnell, oy). No, the response is not to tell them “sucks to be you” when tornados kill them and destroy their homes, businesses and towns.

However, we’re in a sucks-to-be-you moment right now. I read a little over the weekend about Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania. Lia swam for the men’s team for two years of her college career. She transitioned during the Covid-cancelled season, and is now swimming as a woman, and winning. “Breaking records,” in fact, but here is one place where I have to part with Sherri, to name one person in our readership, who has said that any advantage to being a biological male in sports disappears after a year of hormone treatment. I simply don’t believe that, at least in this case.

Thomas isn’t just breaking records, she’s obliterating them. Winning by 7 seconds in the 200 free, and 38 in the 1650-meter free, to name but two. These aren’t normal new-record margins. Swimming is a sport where records fall by fractions of seconds, not seven of them. (Unless she is Katie Ledecky. Lia Thomas is not Katie Ledecky.) There is an advantage here that comes from being taller, stronger, more broad-shouldered and from having trained and competed all your life as a man. The photos of her are crazy. She’s a hulk.

As you would expect, the right-wing media has picked up this story and is shaking it like a dog. I had to scroll down in the search results to find a source I thought could be fair — Swimming World magazine, which I am confident knows more about the sport than, say, the New York Post or Fox News.

And this piece is pretty evenhanded, explaining that while Thomas is swimming slower on female hormones than when she was a male, she suddenly catapulted from an Ivy League finalist to an Olympic-level contender, threatening records set by the greatest women in the sport, including Ledecky and Missy Franklin. Swimming World also had the decency to ask for decency, after getting the expected onslaught of reader abuse following their reporting. And they’ve also done sensitive reporting on F-to-M trans swimmers like Schuyler Bailar, so I feel like I can trust their editorial judgement.

But even SW editorialized against allowing Thomas to compete in the NCAA championships in March:

Athletes transitioning from male to female possess the inherent advantage of years of testosterone production and muscle-building. There is also the advantage (in many cases) of larger body frames, hands and feet. All of these traits are beneficial in the sport of swimming. In the case of Thomas, she had nearly 20 years of this testosterone-building advantage, something cisgender women could not attain. Although she took part in the testosterone-suppression process, a look at her performances clearly reflects that she is benefitting from the genetics of her birth sex.

“There’s absolutely no question in my mind that trans women will maintain strength advantages over cis women, even after hormone therapy,” said sports physicist Joanna Harper in an interview with WEBMD Health News. “That’s based on my clinical experience, rather than published data, but I would say there’s zero doubt in my mind.”

…Now, Thomas is stalking Ledecky’s 500 freestyle record, a chase that reveals the unfairness in her racing against cisgender women. A look at the all-time rankings in the 500 free shows that Leah Smith is the second-fastest female performer in the event. Yet, she is almost five seconds back of Ledecky. The fact that Thomas could break the record of such a once-in-a-generation athlete confirms the biological advantages she possesses, and their power.

The stories of Thomas’ meet performances are agonizing: She finishes first by a wide margin, and the crowd sits on their hands. When the cisgender female touches the wall second, they erupt in cheers. This may be a cruel reaction, but it is also honest. These are not fair competitions. The question is, what do we do about them?

The floor is open. I’m honestly interested in what some of you have to say.

Posted at 11:09 am in Current events | 49 Comments
 

More ripples in the pond.

The fallout from the school shooting continues to be felt. Everywhere. The county prosecutor has her hands full with a shit-ton of copycat threats to other schools in the area. I have no doubt they’re all bullshit, but it certainly suggests kids kinda…hate their schools? Yes, that seems to be it.

Of course, lots of kids “hate” school, but they miss it terribly when they’re not there. It’s the center of their social lives, but even kids like me — stable home, lots of support, did well in what was indisputably a first-class public school district — had days when, if the building had burned to the ground, I would have stood outside, roasting marshmallows.

Lots of the threats are at the middle-school level, which tracks. I mean: Middle school, amirite? Others are more serious, leading to evacuations, dismissals for the day, and the expected messages to panicked parents: Don’t panic!

Well, we’re all on edge. I think it’s not just because this shooting happened close to home. Rather, because we look at those mugshots of the Crumbleys and realize: I know 25 people exactly like this. How many of them leave guns lying around for their disturbed teenagers to pick up? Probably more than a few, because really, what good is a “properly secured” weapon worth in a tense situation? Home invaders don’t send advance notice; you wake up in the night and think you heard something. Or you walk into the kitchen on a warm summer day and realize someone’s there who shouldn’t be. Do you say, “Hold that thought while I unlock my properly secured weapon?” Or maybe you don’t have children, so you leave the gun in the nightstand, or on the nightstand — badass! — or somewhere else. And then someone breaks in while you’re gone, and steals it.

Someone called in a threat to my high school, maybe a year before I arrived there. Only there really was a bomb, a homemade thing made of fireworks, as I recall. It blew up a toilet, and a kid was injured by flying porcelain. The perpetrator was expelled, the only permanent expulsion I’m aware of during my time there. He wasn’t a terrible kid, just one lost in the dark tunnel of adolescence. I just looked him up on Facebook, and he appears to be fine. Has an interest in general aviation. Who knows what Ethan Crumbley might have become, with different parents? A question for the ages, I guess.

I once saw a cop show that featured a middle-of-the-night home invasion, of Regina King’s house. She played a cop. Leapt from her bed to the closet, quickly keyed in a four-digit combination on her gun safe, and took out a Mossberg pump-action shotgun, which which she dispatched the bad guys. Now there’s a well-secured firearm. I’ve heard police say a shotgun is actually the safest home-protection weapon you can have, because the rounds won’t fly through your walls or windows into the neighbor’s nursery, and you can keep it loaded with rock salt rounds (do those even exist outside of southern gothic fiction) just in case you accidentally shoot your daughter’s boyfriend, sneaking in for some middle-of-the-night shenanigans.

OK then! Must run — the Deadline Detroit holiday party is tonight, and I have to throw together my contribution to the buffet. And get a Covid test first, which is scheduled in about 30 minutes. Probably be crowded, too, what with our heedlessness and surging case load. Best get moving. Happy weekend to all.

Posted at 8:27 am in Current events, Detroit life | 41 Comments
 

Action-packed.

Kate and Alan had a father-daughter date Friday night, which left me on my own. So I ran an errand, had a solitary dinner at the bar of a spot I’ve never tried before, and went to a record release show in Hamtramck. Leaving around 11:30, I was rolling east on Mt. Elliott when a bunch of flashing blue lights were suddenly coming up fast behind. I pulled over, and three DPD units went by so at such a speed that I could barely catch that they were, indeed, DPD.

I got home, checked Twitter, and realized where they must have been headed: To the Crumbley manhunt, because news here doesn’t just happen, it warps and metastasizes and becomes SuperNews, a school shooting where the perp’s parents are accused of involuntary manslaughter and try to lam it, despite what their lawyers say. (The lawyers say they always intended to turn themselves in. They were simply “getting their affairs in order” and spending the night in an artist’s studio 40 miles from their home, nbd.)

Yes, it was a week where the news just didn’t quit. The Crumbleys iced the rancid cupcake. I’m sure you’ve all seen the pressers by now, the prosecutor explaining that the Parents of the Year not only bought their 15-year-old a semiautomatic handgun for an early Christmas present, they blew off school reports that young Ethan was exhibiting disturbing behavior and, on the day of the shooting, came to school for a conference and refused to take their boy home. And the school, for its part, didn’t exactly cover itself with glory by allowing him to go back to class without searching this backpack or locker.

This case is going to be with us for quite some time. I also have a feeling the gun people are simply biding their time and waiting until some of the spotlight has dimmed before they Well-Actually into a defense of the Crumbleys. It’s gonna be ugly.

Time will reveal more, but I’ll say, just to wake up on Saturday and see the entire family arrayed in mugshots, all occupants of the same county jail, was surreal.

Then I ran my Saturday-grind errands, had dinner with a friend and watched U-M win the Big 10 championship. So it was a good weekend after all.

Now it’s the week, and I have no energy. Half the people I know have Covid now, so I’m hoping it’s not a prelude to that. Pfingers crossed and pfaith in Pfizer, anyway. I’ve been careful, but not 2020-careful.

Fresh thread for now, and we’ll hope for something more stimulating in a day or two.

Posted at 9:20 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 53 Comments
 

Anger issues.

Jeez, what a fucking week. The local news is still filled with the Oxford school shooting, as you might imagine. I wish I could be impressed by the journalism, but it’s just depressing. A local PR maven took to his blog to proclaim that breaking national news here always causes local reporters to rise to the occasion and “punch above their weight.” Gotta say, I don’t see it so far. Chasing breaking news is 101-level stuff: Go to the press conferences, knock doors, that sort of thing. I’m not seeing incompetence, but brilliance hasn’t arrived yet.

Maybe on Sunday, you never know.

But the news out of the shooting has been all, ALL bad. The four dead students. The ones still fighting for their lives, with chest wounds and similar trauma. And the shooter, oy. Kind of a moonfaced kid with glasses, young-looking for his age, an only child as far as anyone can tell. He lawyered up immediately, and so did the parents, and for good reason – the gun was bought only four days previous. Yes, on Black Friday.

(“Do gun stores do Black Friday sales?” I asked Alan. “Are you kidding? Of course,” he replied, and followed up with links.)

Not only that, it was apparently not secured in any way in the household; the Crumbleys (that’s their name) were leave-the-guns-lying-around sorts of people. With a disturbed adolescent in the house, because that was another detail: the school had spoken to young Ethan, the shooter, about some “concerning behavior” on Monday, and on Tuesday both parents came in for a conference that morning. Ethan had the Sig Sauer 9mm semiautomatic in his backpack, and put it to use later that day.

So far, it’s just one depressing fact after another dropping, but as always, our state legislature goes the extra mile in dipshittery:

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) announced Wednesday a plan to allow teachers and school staff to arm themselves.

…“School and state authorities must be fully prepared if, God forbid, another violent attacker targets students at school,” said Carra. “Teachers and staff care for their students’ safety, and some of these professionals are willing to use their gun or taser if a tragic need for school defense arises. I am putting together a plan to enable educators to protect their students with lawful weapons, stored securely for an emergency we pray never comes again.”

Thanks, asshole.

I feel bad because I don’t feel sad. Instead, I am simmering with anger. How many years have we been doing this? My first mass shooting was…I guess Charles Whitman, but I was a kid then. The first one I remember as an adult was the McDonald’s massacre in 1984. Then the Luby’s shooting, in 1991. Then Columbine, Virginia Tech, and oh wait, can’t forget the post office shootings, which originated right here in Metro Detroit** (like carjacking!) and gave us the term going postal to describe titanic anger followed by violence.

Today I found a two-day-old Washington Post piece about the Oxford shooting that had more detail than I’ve seen so far. A girl in her AP Statistics class had bullets coming through the classroom door, so she handed out the closest weapon-like object at hand – calculators. Another girl crouched next to a toilet in the bathroom, holding hands with two others. And this was the reaction of our state Senate majority leader:

I hate to say it, but this country is so fucked. Personally, I’d welcome living a country I don’t recognize, maybe one where people don’t throw shit fits over wearing a piece of cloth in the name of public health in a grocery store, or where children don’t have to consider whether a Texas Instruments calculator is what stands between them and death. But that will never happen. Nothing ever changes. Time to move to Barcelona.

I hate to leave you with a bummer tonight. I’m headed to some craft shows this weekend, just to see pretty things and breathe a little. In the meantime, another France photo, the load-out of a classic car show near the Louvre.

Later, all.

** Hank, in comments, is correct. The first one Wikipedia notes was 1970, but it was targeted, in that the shooter went looking for one individual and shot him. What we later came to consider the mass, untargeted shooting with many victims started in Oklahoma, with 14 dead.

Posted at 6:09 pm in Current events | 47 Comments