Done and gone.

So, first this happened:

katethegrad

…and then this happened:

showinhamtramck

…and just like that, high school is over. Thank heaven, because I was ready for it. Toward the end there, her high school got several bomb threats, nothing Columbine-like, just the usual freakout over some bathroom graffiti. I hasten to add I understand the freakout — you can’t ignore that stuff — but the day I received an email from the district with this Scooby Doo subject line — North solves mystery and keeps focus on teaching and learning — I just kind of mentally threw in the towel. Bring on a new set of irritations. Microaggressions, climbing tuition bills, all of it. P.S. The mystery wasn’t solved. The day after they nabbed the kid they thought was making the threats, a new one appeared. Oh, well. School’s out.

I still can’t believe the Vipers booked a show the night of graduation. I had paid $70 for a ticket to the all-night party, and she was going to go, dammit. I made arrangements for her to be let in after the admission window had closed (you can understand why they have to do these things; someone might bring in a bomb) and she came home at sunrise with the usual party favors, including a pair of green boxer shorts with “Kiss me I’m Irish” all over them. Boxer Short Bingo, I gathered.

Now I will take a one-year break from caring who the superintendent is, the status of the teacher contract, and of course whether the district’s wifi will ever be brought up to snuff. I will commence caring again in June 2016. For now, I have no more fucks to give, as the kids say.

So, a little bit o’ bloggage as we start the week:

I found this story fascinating. A softball player at MSU is claiming an assistant coach threw two pitches at her head after she was overheard saying unflattering things about the program to a reporter, off the record. The coaches could be looking at assault charges, I expect. Laura Lippman has written several books with the theme that women’s worst enemies are often other women. I’ll say.

How Michigan is going to overturn its prevailing-wage law. Worth reading.

Honestly, I never expected a Bush — especially the smart one — to be this incompetent, but it’s just one thing after another with this guy. Or should I say, this guy!

The Rachel Dolezal case is simply a wonder to me. Someone on my Facebook feed wondered if this isn’t some sort of Munchausen’s syndrome. I wonder.

So let’s get the week underway, shall we?

Posted at 12:06 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 30 Comments
 

Full flower.

It appears flower season is over at Eastern Market, and thank Gaia for that. Besides produce, the market is full of bedding plants and perennials and hanging baskets and potted trees and all the rest of your landscaping needs, at bargain prices. Of course this attracts people from all over the metro area, intent on getting all their annuals in one go while of course stopping for lunch at some restaurant they visit twice a year and getting lots of snaps for their Pinterest page. All of these people drag enormous wagons and clog up everything.

It’s impossible, i’ve found, to get up early enough to beat this crowd. Last week I was ready to do some murderdeathkill, but this week the crowds were considerably less, and so I was able to get my arugula and eggs and meat. Eggs are $4 a dozen. Avian flu, the sellers all said. “I heard a guy in Iowa lost eight million,” one said.

“Maybe that’s why he had avian flu in the first place,” I said. What do I know? I’m no poultry producer. Just more b.s. that woman had to listen to last Saturday.

It was a lovely day, so we hit the water.

panorama

A little bumpiness in the panorama, sorry — it’s hard enough to keep the arrow on the line when exposing a panorama on solid ground, much less while out on the bounding main.

Sunday, I cleaned. And sweated. It went from clear and chilly to overcast and muggy in a trice. In other words, typical Michigan weather.

Expect spotty posting this week. Kate graduates Thursday, attends orientation in Ann Arbor Tuesday and Wednesday. Sunrise, sunset. Etcetera.

So let’s get to it, then:

Jeff posted this story last week in comments, but I just got a chance to read it, the story of the crafting of the president’s Selma speech. My favorite passage:

“Those who only understand exceptionalism as preserving the past; who deny our faults or inequality; who say love it or leave it; those are the people who are afraid,” Obama said, according to Keenan’s notes. “Those are the people who think America is some fragile thing.”

Worth a read.

And at the end of Saturday came the Belmont, which I simply couldn’t watch. I was so sure this would be like every other Derby-Preakness winner, but at the last minute I turned it on, and got to see the race from the backstretch on. Wow.

Here’s a nice deadline piece from Sports Illustrated, and here’s a blast from the past from the great Bill Nack. An awful lot of racing writing can easily tip into the overblown, but both of these pieces strike the right note of drama without getting that extra nudge.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 20 Comments
 

Short shrift.

Warning, folks: This won’t be long tonight. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and never really got back to sleep. A 4 a.m. rousing is sort of my baseline for basic functionality the following day. I spent the day staring blankly at my laptop, sending wan emails and otherwise wishing I were dead. But I did my bike ride, because summer is short and wheezing is character-building. I can’t waste this season. Winter was so long.

So a short link salad today before I hit the keys face-first, OK?

I’m the world’s biggest fan of “The Wire” — how has this tautology supercut been out for more than two weeks and I’m just now hearing about it? I demand to know.

Men are an on/off switch, women are a rheostat. Nowhere is this more evident than the description of “female Viagra,” just approved by an FDA panel:

Viagra treats sexual dysfunction in men by increasing blood flow to the genitals. Flibanserin, on the other hand, targets the frontal cortex, in particular some key neurotransmitters involved in sexual desire: By increasing the flow of dopamine and norepinephrine, flibanserin helps women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder feel turned on; at the same time, the drug decreases levels of serotonin, which is associated with sexual inhibition.

I will not be taking this in my dotage, preferring the more traditional bourbon goggles.

Ted Cruz came to town for a fundraiser night before last. And made a Joe Biden joke. Funny! The day before Biden buried his son. Who ARE these people? It’s not like this is a secret.

Fading so, so fast. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments
 

All about the feet.

Despite the tsuris the usual suspects are having, this isn’t the first time I’ve read about the odd, tiny subculture of people who believe that in their core, they are really amputees, even if they have all their fingers, arms and legs, and whatever else you can cut off and still live.

It actually came up during the infamous Huntington Castrator story. My colleague Bob Caylor had an Atlantic magazine story on the phenomenon, which he found extremely weird — correctly, I guess I should add. Some people are deeply into body modification, a continuum that probably starts with eyebrow-plucking and moves on from there.

Here’s the story that’s causing the tsuris. If you follow the usual wing nut thought patterns, the concern is this: Here’s a single story where one guy says the “transabled” should be taken seriously, i.e., this is what Caitlyn Jenner wrought. Once you allow an Olympic gold medalist to decide he’s a woman, sooner or later you’re allowing people to cut off their hands in the name of…something.

It’s deeply weird, I’ll allow. I’m not sure it is at the bottom of the slippery slope.

However, at the bottom of the barrel is this email, which arrived today in my personal inbox:

Dr Suzanne Levine, Celebrity Podiatrist on Park Ave in NYC speaks out on Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation surgery. In Vanity Fair cover shot she is shown wearing fabulous stiletto heels. Dr Levine asserts the feet have not been feminized and must have been airbrushed. Is it possible the entire photo was photo shopped? Her feet look too dainty in the heels – hint, hint – it’s all about the feet.

Dr. Levine states in many male to female transitions, the feet feminizing procedure is one of the most overlooked factors in creating a feminie appearance, and can be the true defining change to create the most feminine appearance possible.

Dr Levine is available for interviews via phone or skype.

Good to know that somewhere in the world, there’s a celebrity podiatrist, and she practices on Park Avenue.

This is a good story by the AP: The FBI has small aircraft in the skies over major U.S. cities, spying on us.

I’m so glad I live in the north, and my child is done, today!, with public education.

And that’s what I have today. Happy Hump Day.

Posted at 12:31 am in Current events, Popculch | 36 Comments
 

Flattened.

So this was shaping up to be a chilly but lovely June 1 morning. New calendar! New leaf! New resolve!

I decided to bike to work. Not to the bus stop, all the way in. It’s only 12 miles, I’ve been planning it forever, and got rained out on Bike to Work Day last month, so I figured there was no time like the present. And until about the halfway point, it went great. Until I hit one pothole WHAM and then another WHAM, followed by the grinding of an insta-flat tire.

Now. I carry flat-fixing tools and a spare tube and pump. But I was dressed for work, this was the back tire (meaning I’d be touching the chain) and it was in one of those freakishly abandoned parts of the east side:

flattiresite

Note looted, empty school at right. That empty gas station/repair shop, freshly painted when the Google Maps car rolled through two years ago, has tipped all the way into seedy. The thought of standing exposed on this weird stretch, getting my hands greasy with no hope of degreasing them with the soaps found in office bathrooms, all with the very real chance the rim might be bent and it could all be for naught, potentially attracting unwelcome “help,” and I did what any sensible person would do: Called Uber.

A very nice man picked me up. Cornelius, a jazz drummer who Ubers for a cash flow between gigs. He helped wrestle the bike into the trunk, drove me to my office, wrestled it out of the trunk and told me I should check him out at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, any Sunday night.

I love this town. Potholes and all.

I guess the news of the day, in the non-foreign policy, non-national policy, non-consequential division, would be the birth of Caitlyn Jenner. Bruce is dead, long live Caitlyn. I know we have many gay, lesbian and perhaps transgender readers here, so a reality check, please: Is this list of rules offered by GLAAD just a tetch obnoxious? I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: People have to be guided gently on this issue, and there’s a certain STFU in my head when I read stuff like this:

AVOID the phrase “born a man” when referring to Jenner. If it is necessary to describe for your audience what it means to be transgender, consider: “While Caitlyn Jenner was designated male on her birth certificate, as a young child she knew that she was a girl.”

Don’t tell me how to write, don’t tell me what words are OK to use, don’t make me Caitlyn Jenner’s publicity agent. OK? OK. This is uncharted territory for most people, and we’re figuring things out as we go. Let’s be kind to one another, not assholes. And now “misgender” is a verb, apparently:

Fox News Repeatedly Mocks And Misgenders Caitlyn Jenner

Meanwhile, Jenner’s non-Kardashian children seem to have their heads screwed on right, refusing to appear on his latest reality show:

… [D]espite numerous entreaties from their father as well as the head of E! programming, the Jenner children refuse to participate, forgoing financial gain and exposure in the process. At first their decision did not seem to register with Caitlyn. She kept hoping they could be persuaded because she knows from eight years on Keeping Up with the Kardashians the necessity of a family dynamic for ratings success. When she realized the decision was final, she became increasingly frustrated and on one occasion hurled profanities. She told me she felt “terribly disappointed and terribly hurt.”

So there’s that.

Any “Game of Thrones” fans in the house? You should be reading Grantland’s recaps and precaps for lines like this:

…last night’s episode of Thrones taught us that only three things can stop a rampaging army of pickax-wielding, undead popsicles: obsidian, Valyrian steel, and 6 to 10 inches of shallow water.

It’s chilly enough that I expect a White Walker or two to emerge from the gloaming, frankly. I give up. It’s June. The week ahead must be better. Hope yours is, too.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol', Television | 49 Comments
 

Wind and rain.

Shit-tastic weekend weather, alas. Heat and occasional showers on Saturday gave way to cold and slashing rain on Sunday. Nothing to do but clean a closet. Found these:

drscholls

I bought these a few years back, thinking I’d indulge in a fun fad of my long-lost youth. The soles would indicate they’ve been only lightly worn, maybe because I realized that when you take a wrong step in these, your heel comes down OUCH GODDAMNIT on the edge of those wooden soles. I recall a miracle in those soles, shaped to support the arch and encourage your toes to grab the little ridge with every step — remember, these were Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals, the idea being those little toe clenches were exercise for your summer legs. You bought them in a drugstore, in one of three colors: Red, blue and bone. I was always a bone girl, so that’s when I picked this time.

Why do we remember how comfortable the wooden sole was, and forget how much more comfortable was everything that came after, with gel soles and miracle foams and all the rest of it.

I might wear these to my high-school reunion this summer. We’ll see.

It felt good to purge the closet. Threw away a few things, put a lot in the donate pile. There’s a little air in there now.

Even with cold and wind, we had a better weekend than some. And some others. And certainly Denny Hastert. If you missed Sherri’s comment on the last thread, I think it’s a win:

The more I think about the Hastert situation, the more incredulous I grow. This is a man who was third in line in the succession, yet he seems to be dumber than a box of rocks. He doesn’t seem to be aware that banks have to report cash transactions more than $10K, so when his former victim makes himself known and they negotiate a payment, he starts withdrawing $50K chunks of cash, instead of, oh, wiring funds, or hiring the guy to do some “job” for him. The bank calls him in and tells him, look, we have to tell the IRS about this, where’s the money going, and he says, oh, I just don’t trust banks, I’m stuffing it in my mattress, and he promptly starts withdrawing chunks just under $10K. The FBI, unsurprisingly, becomes concerned that something is going on, and contacts him, and Hastert talks to them without a lawyer (who talks to the FBI without a lawyer?), and then lies to the FBI (who doesn’t know that lying to the FBI is a crime?)

If Gingrich is the stupid person’s idea of a smart person, then I guess Hastert is just the stupid person.

Yes, amen.

Meanwhile, there were some moments of zen to be had. Read this WashPost story on the anti-Muslim demonstration in Arizona all the way to the end, because it’s worth it. The friend who pointed it out referred to the idiot at the center of this as a “halfwit hick” and that certainly describes comments like this:

“I can’t let my kids grow up in a society where tyranny is reigning over. I’ve got ISIS posting my address. This is terrorism at its finest, right here in America,” he said. “My family has to go into hiding.”

But? It gets better. Read to the end, I promise it’s worth it.

Time for “Game of Thrones.” And the week ahead. I hope it’s better than the last.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 39 Comments
 

Exit through the darkroom.

Having worked with a few headstrong photographers, I know they’re essential to telling a great story. At the same time the best ones have a way of going rogue. Many times I’ve sat back at my desk, looking over my notes and the pictures, thinking these don’t match.

I always blamed myself for failing to communicate strongly enough what the story was, but frankly, sometimes it changes as you report it. Let me put it this way: I’ve written some convoluted captions to explain why the person in the picture is beaming and blowing bubbles in a green meadow, but the story says she’s suicidally depressed about the depletion of the Oglala aquifer. (Or, y’know, whatever.)

Anyway, if I think about it, the photographer who has bugged me the most over the years is Richard Avedon. Love his celebrity portraits, love his fashion work, hated — HATED — his series set in the American West, where he took some pretty unconventional-looking people and stood them up in front of his famous seamless backdrop and turned them into freaks for his New York friends to groove on.

You may sense the depth of my feelings on this subject.

Mary Ellen Mark occupies a different place. I find many of her portraits as unsettling as Avedon’s, but without the note of mocking condescension. Although can anyone, especially a woman, look at the first photo in this series and not think, “Put down that camera and get that child to a responsible maternal figure, for God’s sake.”

Mark, who died this week, was probably best known for the “Street Wise” project, about homeless street kids in Seattle, which started as a photo feature for Life magazine — man, just writing those words feels impossibly nostalgic — and later became a documentary. It wasn’t easy to watch, listening to these kids talk about turning tricks and retrieving pizza out of dumpsters, even as you know the situations they left behind were even worse.

And then, of course, they grew up.

Photography is such an intimate medium, and it’s so easy to tip the viewer from a guest looking in through the fourth wall to a peeping tom. I think Susan Sontag may have touched on this subject a time or two.

So. Bloggage to get to.

Bob Schieffer says he’s worried about the decline of local journalism. That makes two of us:

Less than a third of all newspapers in the country assign a reporter — part time or full time — to cover statehouses, according to the Pew study. Almost nine in 10 (86 percent) of local TV stations have no part-time or full-time correspondent covering the statehouse.

I’m less concerned about TV, because most stations’ coverage of serious news has always been spotty and not the sort of thing you should rely on to be informed. Many manage to park two or three highly paid butts on a couch for an extended morning show of utter crap content, so cry me a river over that one. But on newspapers, he’s absolutely right. Fort Wayne once had a two-person Indy bureau — one for sports, one for the legislature. That dwindled to a freelancer, then a go-when-you-can staffer, then let-the-AP-handle-it. That’s no way to cover anything.

What the hell just happened in Nebraska? I’m still puzzled, although I think I get it: GOP corrections reform meets Democrats’ traditional opposition to capital punishment. Amazing.

Wednesday I was walking to lunch with my colleagues, and a large semi crossed our path, the side emblazoned, “Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour.” She plays at Ford Field on Saturday. That is one long setup. I’ve said many times I would rather see two guys play guitar in a smoky nightclub than go to your average stadium/arena show, and that stands. Tickets for “general admission standing” for her “B stage” — I expect that’s the one where she walks a plank into the audience and gives low-fives to the clamoring minions — are $200. Nosebleed is $50, most others well north of there. Yikes.

Oh, and Basset, I used Coastal for my last eyeglass purchase, but I knew what I wanted and what looks good on me. YMMV. Good luck.

Posted at 9:10 am in Current events, Popculch | 92 Comments
 

Late night dues.

Well, hell. I don’t always go out on weeknights, but when I do, I usually fail to blog before bedtime.

At least I got in before the night’s refreshments turned from three beers to four, because that would have meant missing the morning workout, guilt and a lousy Wednesday.

But here’s a lot of tasty linkage to get you through the middle of the week.

How do we solve a problem like Greece? What happens to a modern, westernized, democratic country when it goes bankrupt?

Yet another of what will surely be many, many pieces on how the GOP is reaching Hispanics. (Or, in this case, not.) Pro tip: Tell your people to stop hollering “what part of illegal don’t you understand?” on national TV.

I tried and tried to get to the original of this, but paywalls get two tries and then I give up: Wall Street Journal reader comments to a story about dunking in basketball. I remember when I used to work out at the YWCA in Fort Wayne, and the adults would play after the little kids’ games, when the hoops were lowered. They loved it, because they could dunk. It was hilarious.

What is inequality? A simple comic lays it out pretty well.

For the next three days, the power elite of Michigan will be gathered at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for the Detroit Chamber’s annual policy conference. Of course they’ll be shadowed by the media, who are given the run of the place, including the free-flowing booze stations. This leads to a parade of social-media over-the-topness that’s enough to make your stomach turn. Fortunately, someone has foreseen the need for mockery.

We need Cooz to wake up and tell us more about the GOP’s attempted coup at the University of North Carolina.

That is all, I guess. A lovely day in progress where I am. Hope it’s good where you are, too.

Posted at 9:26 am in Current events | 30 Comments
 

Honors.

Yeesh, another late one. Senior Honors Night down to the high school. We heard some names over and over, our child’s name once, but hey — she got a cord to wear around her shoulders at commencement, a medal around her neck, and she was made late to the Tame Impala show I’d given her permission to attend. The students sat on stage, and as the names piled up and the five-second claps stretched to two hours, I could see her dying up there. Oh, well. Tame Impala is lame, anyway.

Anyway, highlights: Most of these kids I hadn’t given a second thought to since grade school, when the Girl Scout troops were still intact, and Kate would occasionally tell a story from the classroom over dinner. And so I watched one girl walk and thought of the time I was driving a field trip, and heard her small voice in the back seat, saying, “My mom goes to a doctor who gives her shots in her face so she’ll be pretty.”

I thought, in 15 years, someone from this class who isn’t on the stage will be richer than all of you. Someone who is on the stage will be taking heavy meds for serious mental illness. Someone sitting here is going away and won’t go to a single reunion. Someone hates everybody else. Someone secretly loves somebody else.

What can I say? It was an astonishingly boring evening.

Tomorrow I have to get up early and head to Dearborn. I was there today, in fact. I saw no sign of sharia law. In fact, it was delightful, as it almost always is. Every time I go there, I’m plied with the most delicious hummus in the land, and fresh — really fresh — pita bread. You can win me over with a lot less.

As I was out of pocket all day, I didn’t get much bloggage material. I continue to be fascinated/astounded by the biker-shootout story:

On Sunday, witnesses described seeing a mass shootout that involved dozens of of guns being fired inside the restaurant and in the parking lot along Interstate 35, according to CBS affiliate KWTX. The station reported that panicked patrons and employees sought refuge from the mayhem in the restaurant freezer.

Hours later, authorities from multiple law enforcement agencies — including local and state police, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — were still trying to secure the area and survey the large crime scene, which was littered with more than 100 weapons.

“In 34 years of law enforcement, this is the most violent crime scene I have ever been involved in,” Swanton said, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. “There is blood everywhere. We will probably approach the number of 100 weapons.”

Unbelievable, except all too believable.

Still sifting through “Mad Men” mop-ups, but right now — off to bed.

Posted at 12:28 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments
 

Another milestone, marked by food.

The Derringers had an anniversary Friday — 22 years. Someday we’ll have to come up with a new idea for celebrating other than the usual, i.e., going out to dinner. Maybe we should play miniature golf, or volunteer at a homeless shelter, or do improv on open-mic night. I think our first anniversary we went to Hartley’s in Fort Wayne. There must have been many others in 22 years, but I don’t remember most of them.

This year’s was Republic, here in Detroit, a small-plates place — is there any other variety of new-hot-now restaurant, these days? — with a certain modernist take on things, which is to say there were items like pickled shallots on cheese thingies, and marrow fritters and beef-tallow fries with salt (which you’d expect) but also sugar (which you probably wouldn’t) and lamb sausage with pea smash. At least, I think the waitress said smash, but I couldn’t be sure, because it was very loud in there.

Can you tell I’m growing tired of loud restaurants? The food was very good, the drinks ditto, but I’m sort of done with loud. In the course of our marriage, we’ve gone from an entree that protein/starch/green to marrow fritters.

Anyway, 22 years. I’ll have another!

Alas, we didn’t see the new Mad Max movie yet. It was a beautiful weekend packed with activities, and it didn’t seem right to spend a few hours or even an evening indoors, watching a post-apocalytic story unfold. Maybe next weekend. But! The yard is shaped up and off to a good start, the laundry is done, the groceries bought for another week. Apocalypse whenever.

Besides, you never know when you’ll be caught in the crossfire of a multi-gang-plus-police shootout, and be one of nine cooling corpses. AMERICA.

I expect all of you want to talk about “Mad Men,” anyway, so do so. I’m off to a work week that will proceed at a gallop. Good thing the yard’s in good shape, because I don’t think we will be by Wednesday

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol', Television | 36 Comments