Letting go.

Another weekend so perfect it needed to go in a record book somewhere: Temperatures in the low 70s, cool nights, skies of such clarity it hurt to go outside without sunglasses. Kate took the ACT on Saturday and then hit the road for a no-parents Up North weekend with three friends and I decided not to worry about it. That’s a difficult thing to do, but at some point it has to be done. She’ll screw up; of this I have no doubt. I just have to accept that the screwups are something I don’t have much control over anymore. This was my advice as they left:

“And what do we do if we see a deer in the road?”

“Hit it!”

That’s exactly right, and advice every Michigan driver should know and heed. Never swerve. That’s how tragedies happen. Hit the deer. We have plenty.

(Obviously this is advice for if you see a deer in the road when you’re traveling toward it at high speed. You don’t just randomly speed up and run Bambi down on, say, a country lane. But you knew that.)

Speaking of cars, Alan brought home a monster Friday — a Chevy SS, which looks like a four-door sedan on the outside but has so much horsepower its ass end threatens to break loose on the regular. Gas mileage: 18 combined and say what? Eighteen? Yes. It’s less fuel-efficient than the Yukon he brought home earlier in the week. But so powerful, it’s a rolling Viagra commercial.

This is a perk of being on the auto staff at one of the Detroit dailies, one Alan barely uses. Of course my worry is more about carjacking than that he will fall out of familiarity with the product line, but it’s always fun to cruise up to Harrison Township and get some ice cream with the Underground Garage on the satellite radio. He works very hard. He deserves a little fun.

The car, and the weather, was a welcome distraction from self-torture, i.e., reading some of the response to the Iraq situation. I’m sort of done listening, and this John Cassidy piece on the New Yorker website says it all:

Senator John McCain, whom the President telephoned on Friday, has called on Obama to fire his entire national-security team, claiming, “Could all of this have been avoided? The answer is absolutely yes.”

McCain is right; it could have been avoided. If, in the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush had treated the arguments of Feith, McCain, and other advocates of the Iraq War with the disdain they deserved, we (and the Iraqis) wouldn’t be where we are today.

If, in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, Paul Bremer, the American proconsul in Baghdad, and his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, had not decided to disband Saddam’s army, the one institution that somewhat unified the country, the Iraqi state would be stronger. If, in addition, Bremer and Rumsfeld had ordered enough U.S. troops onto the streets to preserve order, then Iraq might (and it’s only a might) have held together peacefully instead of degenerating into sectarianism, anarchy, and violence.

This is a bigger clusterflick than Vietnam, albeit with a lower body count. But what we’re looking at now, in the Middle East and now Africa, is going to have worse fallout, I’d wager.

So that was the weekend, topped by a visit to the market that yielded garlic scapes, fresh spinach and all the dark green leafies we expect at this time of year. And strawberries. And peas. I’m going to salad my butt off this week.

I think the lead to this story might say more about our pathetic world than anything else I can find at the moment:

Farrah Abraham: reality star, singer, pasta sauce creator, sex tape maker and now, erotica author.

I hope that’s my epitaph someday. With the name and a few details changed, of course.

Almost time for “Game of Thrones,” and a new week, to start. Best wishes for a good one for all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 32 Comments

Down the drain.

Whenever Iraq has a bad day, I remind Alan of that afternoon in Fort Wayne, in a news meeting at the alma mater, where he sniffed at the proposed layouts and headlines for the we-are-declaring-victory story. (I can’t recall what the “news” was; might have been the Mission Accomplished photo op.)

“We’re going to be there for YEARS,” he announced to the room, to scowls from all.

This was, what, 2003? I don’t think even Alan foresaw the disaster currently unfolding in Iraq, which must rank at the Worst Possible end of the potential-outcomes continuum when we launched this stupid-ass war. If we even considered the outcomes. And yet, I’m not getting a sense that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz et al are lying in bed staring holes in the ceiling at 3 a.m. I just don’t. Do you?

So. Nearly the weekend. I posted this photo on Facebook yesterday, but I thought y’all might like it, too:


My father was such a stick-in-the-mud sometimes. This was a trip my mother and I took in 1972-ish, by ourselves — he didn’t want to go — to southern Spain and across the straits to Tangiers, where this photo was taken. Travel is very broadening, and these are some of the things I learned: the elements of Moorish design, that champagne could be lethal (first time I ever got hammered; we were watching flamenco dancers), and that the souvenir striped djellaba will never be worn at home, despite what Graham Nash said. The proprietor of one restaurant in a mountain village had the English section of the menu marked with a Union Jack, and said he wouldn’t change it to the U.S. flag until we booted Richard Nixon from office.

I haven’t looked at this picture in a hundred years, or thought of that restaurant owner in a hundred and one. Funny, the power of a picture.

So, I guess everyone read George Will’s vile column about how college women look forward to being raped, so they can gain the “coveted status” of victimhood. The internets have filled up with rebuttals, but this one was the best I’ve read, and also the hardest to get through. As always when I read stuff like this, I wonder what has happened to young men that they would prefer having sex with an unconscious woman over whatever minimum effort it might take to find one through the conventional way.

I guess you’d have to ask Elliot Rodger that one.

Anything else? Brian Dickerson takes apart just why, in this state of roads so bad they resemble Somalia’s, that the legislature still can’t get it together to fix them.

And the weekend begins! It seemed like it’d never get here.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 46 Comments

Salad, and leftovers at that.

Another link salad today; it’s been one of those. Got to the gym and did a workout that I should label “the heavy one” — eating low-carb really saps your strength. But I found some links for you.

Mark Bittman is making sense:

Real food solves the salt/fat/sugar problem. Yes, excess salt may cause or exacerbate high blood pressure, and lowering sodium intake in people with high blood pressure helps. But salt is only one of several risk factors in developing high blood pressure, and those who eat a diverse diet and few processed foods — which supply more than 80 percent of the sodium in typical American diets — need not worry about salt intake.

“Fat” is a loaded word and a complicated topic, and the jury is still out. Most naturally occurring fats are probably essential, but too much of some fats — and, again, it may be the industrially produced fats used in hyperprocessed foods — seems harmful. Eat real food and your fat intake will probably be fine.

I know a lot of us struggle with weight here; I certainly do. But I think he’s on to something here. Eat real food. What a concept.

I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but I will, because it’s been a big story here, about a 90-year-old man who was picked up as a drug mule, headed for Detroit. He was sentenced just a couple weeks ago, and got three years. “A death sentence,” he said. Tell it to someone who cares.

Jack White, beefer. Such an excitable boy.

When are the Republicans going to figure it out? It’ll be a while, I expect, with guys like this.

Almost the weekend.

Posted at 12:33 am in Current events | 40 Comments

Just another day.

Circumstances have me working at home this week, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it, at least in summer. Up early, swim, shower, put on yoga pants and a tank top and DON’T TAKE THEM OFF ALL DAMN DAY. I have to say that I equally enjoy those days when I get up, shower, put on makeup and head off downtown like a grownup, but in summer, days like this are sweet. You feel like you’re getting away with something. And the fact some actual yoga was involved is only the icing.

And now I’m sitting here catching up on the news and whoa! Eric Cantor loses his primary? This is like the end of “Fatal Attraction” where Glenn Close, having been drowned in the bathtub by Michael Douglas, suddenly rises out of the water with all her strengths and powers intact. The tea party lives.

Also, there was another school shooting Tuesday. A friend of mine is traveling in France for a month. I sent him a link to ShootingTracker.com, just so he can keep up with all that’s been going on in his absence.

It’s a beautiful day that others will remember as the worst of their lives. Isn’t that the way it always works out? I think the message is, if it’s a good one for you, enjoy it.

Because I have little else in my mind, let’s keep it light. When did Tom & Lorenzo stop calling Prince William’s wife Cathy Cambridge? Because I’m not digging Cathering, Duchess of Cambridge all that much. Even though I love her outfit. If I were a size-0 princess, this is exactly the sort of thing I’d wear. Keep it simple, keep it classic.

The modern dog leash is patented. I had no idea. Wendy and I use one ourselves; it’s really the only way to walk a terrier.

And with that, I wish you another perfect summer day. (Supposed to rain here.)

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments

Bad, bad people.

A few years ago I had a casual conversation with a Grosse Pointe cop, who defended his pension and salary, then added, “I’m a Tea Partier otherwise.” It was the first time, but not the last, that I heard this sort of cognitive dissonance, but so far I haven’t heard it again from any cops.

I hope, by now, that guy has gotten the damn message: These people are not his friends. In fact… Well, let’s let Charles Pierce sum it up:

Why are there not a million police officers on the National Mall right now, today, demanding that the Congress and the rest of the political elite take even the most gingerly steps toward disenthralling the country from its insane devotion to its firearms? Why are police officers not walking off their jobs in protest? Why are their professional organizations not raising holy hell about this? They’re on the very vanguard of what’s happening in this country. They’re not simply first-responders any more. They’re primary targets, for god’s sake. In Las Vegas, two of their brethren were specifically sought out and executed in a pizza joint. For all the talk we hear about how whatever the cops do to people we don’t like — the indigent, the black, the Occupy people — is justified by the peril of their jobs, for all the unfortunate souls who are tased to death, or shot, because some cop thought he was threatened by “something in the suspect’s hand” 100 yards away, for all the Amadou Diallos and Sean Bells who have to be gunned down because they posed some sort of “threat” to armed police officers, where’s the public pressure from the people in blue against the people who now actively hunt them down, and against the people whose livelihoods — political and otherwise — depends on the cultural and social climate that sustains the people who now are stalking cops in order to kill them at lunch? There’s been some movement, but do you know where some of them are? Spectacularly, some of them are on the other side.

I guess some people will say the couple who committed this atrocity weren’t really tea partiers. Whatever. When you go out of your way to drape the corpses of your victims with Gadsden flags, I’d say it’s beside the point.

Finally, if anyone has the gall to get up and say a good guy with a gun is what could have stopped these bad guys? I’m going to laugh them out of the room.

Oh, and in the Department of Of Course, it turns out the shooters have a connection to Indiana. Lafayette, specifically.

How was everyone’s Monday? I spent it starting at a screen and looking outside at the lovely sunshine, which I successfully got myself under at the stroke of 5. Dog walk, bike ride, gym, grillin’. Long evenings — this is what I’m talking about.

So, some bloggage? Sure:

The 2014 World Naked Bike Ride, a Flickr set from Portland. So much flab, so much tattoo ink. Clothes really do make the man — and the woman.

Also from Oregon, a wilderness wedding is threatened by wildfire, but the couple lingers for just a few more pictures. And gets at least one amazing one.

Finally, this is a long read, but a useful one: Dan Savage explaining the full circumstances of what happened when he became the target of some truly Orwellian transgender people.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 38 Comments

Something God intended.

The affairs of the Indiana Republican party don’t concern me anymore, but they had their annual convention in Fort Wayne over the weekend, and some news was bound to cross my social-media radar. There was a trio of truly laughable puff pieces from my alma mater on some delegates, but Richard Mourdock, the unsuccessful Senate candidate, blew everyone out of the water by going Full Godwin at the final curtain:

In a farewell speech to Indiana Republicans during the party convention Saturday, term-limited state Treasurer Richard Mourdock cautioned GOP members to be wary of politicians who promise entitlements and spending as debt grows. He said the Nazis made the same promises to Germans before that country’s 1936 elections.

…“And this is where I put on my state treasurer’s hat again for just a moment to give the most important lesson: The people of Germany in a free election selected the Nazi Party because they made great promises, that appealed to them because they were desperate and destitute,” Mourdock said.

He said the Nazis targeted one group after another, “but ultimately, they went after the Jews, they deprived them of their property, their rights, their citizenship. Because they were bankrupt.”

(Godwin’s Law, for those in the dark.)

I should be speechless, but who could be, at this point? I will say this: I always gave Steve Shine, the county party chairman, credit for hard work. To my knowledge, he’s never turned away a local willing to fly the flag, and that has included some real lunatics. To have a Jewish chairman defending statements like Mourdock’s, however, is either proof that the 11th commandment is alive and well or just shows how far I’ve come from northeast Indiana.

Fortunately, the state chairman seems to have his head screwed on straight. Standing ovation or not.

And that is something God intended.

A gorgeous couple of days we just had. I spent much of it working on my book project; it was a deadline weekend. School is down to its final-four days (finals for four), so I’ve made my last brown-bag lunch for the student. (I’ll continue making them for myself; brown-bagging is the way to go, for my money.) Kate’s band played at a shall-we-say nontraditional venue Friday night — an anarchist commune. Everybody was very nice. In keeping with the spirit of anarchy, there was no cover charge, just a “suggested donation in the $6-$11 range.” The commune is in an old Victorian pile, and the performance space behind looks like it was once a carriage house or someone’s motorcar machine shop. The anarchists fitted it out with a stage, and host events there on the regular. Alcohol is strictly BYO; we showed up with fo’ties and tall boys, the most depressing serving size on the planet, but for someone who long ago graduated to craft cocktails and designer beer, it was an amusing bit of nostalgia. And the girls played well, so it was a nice evening all around.

God, I’m so glad it’s summer. Every evening spent sitting outside just seems like a gift. In about an hour, I’m going to deliver on a long-promised drink with a friend, and I’m going to ride my bike there. It will be sweet.

My activities the last few days were pedestrian, and boil down to this: I’m glad I have an Aeron chair. So let’s go to the bloggage:

I’ve seen so many events like this I have to wonder if they’re deliberate setups. How often? Well, there was this one. And this one. This one was a prom, but I’d say it counts. Here’s another prom. When will they ever learn? Unless the bridge has a clearly stated one-ton load limit, or is made of cement, stay off. Unless you want to end up on the Today show.

I didn’t watch the Belmont Stakes, because I knew what would happen, and it did. I understand California Chrome’s owner went on a rant about the spoiler element of allowing tanned, rested and ready entrants into Triple Crown races to spoil it for horses like his. OK, I get it, but I think it’s a lot simpler: I think the whole thoroughbred line is cooked. Every thoroughbred goes back to three foundation sires, and are all related like an Egyptian royal family. Want to improve horse racing? Allow some selective crosses out to sturdier stock. But that’s just me.

So. Off for that drink, and then to make lamb chops. Unless I have three drinks, and it may be something a little more heat ‘n’ serve.

A good week ahead, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 56 Comments

Don’t ever change, Cleveland.

Dammit, I always miss the big anniversaries. First I missed June 3 and a chance to blog about “Ode to Billy Jo,” and now this: The 40th anniversary of the Cleveland Indians’ 10-cent beer night fiasco was Wednesday.

Fortunately, Michael Heaton remembered — he’d better — and brings us a Q-and-A with Dan Coughlin, a Plain Dealer sportswriter who covered it in 1974:

Q. When did it turn from silly to nasty?

A. Late in the game fans started throwing cherry bombs on top of the Rangers’ dugout. That’s when things got menacing. A fan ran out and grabbed Ranger player Jeff Burroughs’ hat. Burroughs went to kick the kid and fell. From the dugout Billy Martin thought his player had been attacked. That’s when the whole Ranger team charged the field with bats. The Indians even defended the Rangers as a form of professional courtesy. The game was called then because fans had stolen all three bases. The game couldn’t continue.

Alcohol and drunkenness is not inherently funny, but every time I read about this dark day, I crack up. Fans literally stole the bases. A woman ran onto the field and flashed her breasts, and a father-son team did a double moon, then slid into second base. That’s funny.

I read a deeper dive on this a few years ago, from the bloggers at Lawyers, Guns & Money, which provides some historic context:

The 1960s and 1970s were an awful time for northern Ohio, as the departure of heavy industry and the frenzied flight of white residents to the suburbs helped cut the city’s population nearly in half from its post-World War II high of 900,000. By 1974, Cleveland was five years past the infamous Cuyahoga River chemical fire and four years from declaring bankruptcy. For those who were able to struggle out of bed on June 4, the opportunity to drown in cheap alcohol must have seemed like an instance of divine intervention.

I’m a little wary of throwing the Grand Sweep of History into these things, but they’re right about the preceding years not being kind to the region. The detail about the Kent State shootings in 1970 that only locals remember was the wildcat Teamsters strike that the Ohio National Guard had only recently been called off of. It was a nasty one, with striking truckers dropping heavy objects onto Guard convoys from highway overpasses. From that exhausting duty, the troops were called out to police student demonstrations at Kent. So: Deindustrialization, white flight, urban decay, the national shame of a student slaughter. To this, just add beer; what could possibly go wrong?

Not funny, I know.

Even less funny: A beer in today’s MLB facility will cost you about $8.

And I should also add that despite today’s headline, I like Cleveland very much. I always have a good time there.

OK, so: I must rush today and crash a deadline on the book project, but I have one thing I want you to look at, completely without comment from moi. The photo is set for Public on Facebook, so I’m hoping you can all click through to see three Michigan legislators showing how well they understand women.

A great weekend to all, and I’ll be less-crushed on the other side.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 42 Comments

No! Sleep! ’til Warren!

There’s something about a person dying in the middle of a road trip — while the rest of the people in the car either refuse to acknowledge it or, having done so, to stop driving — that is simply irresistible to comedy writers. Aunt Edna died in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” and was strapped to the roof of the family truckster. Grandpa died in “Little Miss Sunshine” and was stashed in the way-back of the VW bus. I’m sure there are a few million others I’m forgetting.

And every so often it happens in real life:

Police interviewed this week a Clinton Township man who drove from Arizona to Michigan with a dead woman sitting in the front seat of his 2004 Ford cargo van.

…During a stop in Flagstaff, Ariz., the woman used the restroom and got back in the van, which didn’t have working air conditioning. She reportedly fell asleep somewhere along the route in either Texas or Oklahoma and never woke up. Police said the driver checked on the woman and found her cold to the touch and unresponsive.

Police said the driver did an Internet search and believed that he had 48 hours to take the deceased to either a medical examiner’s office or to a morgue. So he decided to use that 48 hours to continue his drive back to Michigan.

Because we’ve all been on that road trip, right? The driver gets in the zone and won’t stop. An old boyfriend of mine said his father would make him and his brothers pee in empty pop bottles; only no. 2 would get him to stop, and it better be urgent no. 2, kids. America is a big country, and we’ve all crossed a third, a half, or all of it in a fast-moving car.

The woman was a drug addict, if you don’t have time to click through.

So how was everyone’s Wednesday? I drove to Ann Arbor and back, the return trip in the driving rain. I was aware of the state of my tires, and tried to take it easy. That’s never a great strategy in the great chariot race of Michigan freeways, where everybody knows unibody construction, air bags and an SUV makes a driver impermeable. Almost to my exit, Kate texted me this, their first press clipping:

There’s no denying that chick musicians can be an anomaly. It’s not that they’re not out there – they just might not be as out there.

But that isn’t really why Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, or DVAS, has been busy for the past few months – busier than most bands that have only been playing for six months might be – they might be a four-female band, but they’re a four-female band that’s as talented as they are kick-ass.

Forgive the “chick musician” part — the writer is an intern, and only graduated from high school herself last year. As such, she’s in the DVAS demographic, and I guess she can describe her peers however she likes. I was just amused by it, and by how thrilled Kate was to read it. Rock and roll criticism will never die.

Sorry to give you such short shrift today, but I spent most of the day either behind the wheel or sitting around a conference table, and am thinking I should get to work on this book stuff. Ever had a great road trip? Share yours.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 39 Comments

Something rotten.

Old joke: What’s the difference between heaven and hell?

In heaven, the English are the innkeepers, the French are the chefs, the Germans are the mechanics, the Italians are the lovers and the Irish are the cops.

In hell, the English are the chefs, the French are the innkeepers, the Germans are the cops, the Italians are the mechanics and the Irish are the lovers.

The first time I heard that one, I understood all but the part about the Irish being lousy lovers. A friend explained that if you lived in a Catholic country where birth control was verboten until 1980, every sex act might not be a joyful consummation of love between two people but rather, an occasion for gloomy acceptance, furtive counting, whispered prayers and, of course, not too much noise. (Musn’t wake the children.)

I’ve wondered about the Irish and sex ever since, particularly as we’ve learned so much awful news about how the church and its most faithful secular government dealt with sex and its inevitable fruit. The Magdalene laundries, the atrocities uncovered by the Ryan commission, Philomena Lee – Ireland has a very dark side, and it seems to have a great deal to do with sex and religion.

So it is that today you can see a headline like this – Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers – and hardly be surprised.

Tainted women went to the home for unwed mothers and, eventually, left. It seems their children weren’t so lucky:

More than five decades after the Home was closed and destroyed — where a housing development and children’s playground now stands — what happened to nearly 800 of those abandoned children has now emerged: Their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank sitting in the back of the structure and forgotten, with neither gravestones nor coffins.

It sounds as though the children were basically starved into fragile health:

According to Irish Central, a 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.”

The home was closed in 1961 – eons ago, but within my lifetime. The children of “sin,” starved to death and buried in a septic tank. By nuns. What went wrong in Ireland that didn’t in Italy, France or other Catholic countries? (I’ve heard Quebec was almost as bad as Ireland, so maybe it has to do with gloomy skies and dreary winters.)

Enough with the downers! Let’s all look at Rihanna’s fanny. It has few peers in this grimy world, I’d say.

I’m not much for mourning deceased actors, but I thought Hank Stuever’s piece on Ann B. Davis was sweet. Hank’s about a decade younger than me, and his post outlined the difference between the Boomer and Gen X after-school experience, although ours were the same. The difference was, I came home to an empty house and rejoiced, while he was a little lonelier:

Like “The Brady Bunch,” being a so-called latchkey kid was a byproduct of the ’70s. Some of us had moms who were among the first American women to boldly attempt the juggling act of earning a paycheck and running a household. Some of us had divorced parents, or soon would. Some of us knew it was our job to fend for ourselves for a couple hours between 3:30 and 5:30 each day. None of us had a live-in housekeeper.

But we were not entirely alone when we had reruns. As early as the mid-’70s, when Paramount Television first put the show into weekday syndication, “The Brady Bunch” felt immediately and almost profoundly nostalgic.

No matter how quiet and empty the house was when you got home, you could turn on the TV just as the theme song began (“Here’s the story…”) and Alice was there, in the center of that joyful, blended-family “Brady Bunch” grid. She was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. She offered cookies and milk and sound advice.

She was, I suppose, whatever June Cleaver had been to the previous generation.

How long are we going to fight over Bowe Bergdahl? Will someone let me know when it’s over?

Happy Wednesday to you and yours.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events | 59 Comments

A passing thing.

Summer colds are the worst. There’s always a likelihood they will happen during the loveliest days of the season, meaning you’ll have the poisoned feeling of lying on your bed all day, too weak to do much more than watch “Mad Men” season-one episodes on your iPad, while the sun shines outside and the leaves wave in a gentle breeze.

On the other hand, why the hell not? It was a great season.

And now, as the weekend wanes and the forecast calls for Monday with a chance of Tuesday, I think the corner has been turned. Paid a bunch of bills and took a short, slow bike ride that didn’t reduce me to a puddle of snot, so evidently the rumors are true: These things aren’t fatal.

In the meantime, I love stories like this. A note from my old boss, Richard:

So I’m sitting in the passport office in the Northfield Township Office in Glenview, explaining to the supervisor why I can’t find a passpost I got more than 22 years ago. I mentioned I moved at least a dozen times since then and that it was in a box somewhere. I mentioned Fort Wayne among my moves.

“Fort Wayne?” she asked. “Do you know Nancy Nall?”

“I hired Nancy Nall,” I answered.

“I love her blog,” she responded.

She knew you weren’t feeling well yesterday and even asked about Kate.

In even more coincidental weirdness, it turns out the passport supervisor also worked with Richard’s wife at a cooks’ store in the Chicago suburbs. Her name’s Jill. Hi, Jill! Glad you met Richard. It’s a tiny little world, ain’t it?

A slow weekend, but there were some outings. Kate’s band played at a bar in Hamtramck. I love their neon; I tried to capture Kate outside and failed miserably, although I had a good time blowing this picture up huge and noting all the noir details:


The guy passing by, waving. The car parked at the curb has a Maine license plate The gas station in the background, where a beatdown was happening as we arrived. (Like good urbanites, we ignored it and hurried inside before the gunfire started. As Elmore Leonard once wrote, if it isn’t our business, it’s probably dope business, and dope business isn’t our business. Paraphrasing.) The light on the glass block above the door. The mysterious black spots on the sidewalk — are they petrified gum? How do they survive, year after year? And of course the model closed her eyes.

The neon got blown out because I metered off the street light. One of these days I’ll learn to take a decent picture.

And one of these days I’ll take some shots of the back yard, which is now more or less fully planted and operational. Later this week, maybe.

I also need to get cracking on my book project. Photos might be more common over the summer.

Hopping to bloggage, one thing my malady this weekend allowed for was to finish Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations.” It seems everyone needs to preface their remarks about it by saying “it’s really long,” and it is, but it’s not preposterously so — maybe 15,000 words, and well worth the hour or so it takes to read. His through-line is the story of African Americans in Chicago, and I don’t have much to add to Neil Steinberg’s thoughts, and he didn’t have much to add other than: read the thing. At least we owe this much:

Broach the topic of reparations today and a barrage of questions inevitably follows: Who will be paid? How much will they be paid? Who will pay? But if the practicalities, not the justice, of reparations are the true sticking point, there has for some time been the beginnings of a solution. For the past 25 years, Congressman John Conyers Jr., who represents the Detroit area, has marked every session of Congress by introducing a bill calling for a congressional study of slavery and its lingering effects as well as recommendations for “appropriate remedies.”

A country curious about how reparations might actually work has an easy solution in Conyers’s bill, now called HR 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. We would support this bill, submit the question to study, and then assess the possible solutions. But we are not interested.

I didn’t join in the Maya Angelou mourning last week; I generally don’t get too upset when 86-year-olds leave the world behind. But I was delighted by this video of Dave Chappelle in conversation with her, and you might be, too.

Now off to, as Grantland calls it, fight night in Westeros. Have a good week ahead, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 36 Comments