Bringing home the paper.

Thank you for all your kind thoughts about our probable success in the SPJ-Detroit contest, but it wasn’t quite so grand. We have always entered the Online category, ‘cuz that’s what we are, and always done well, because there aren’t very many online-only publications in Michigan. Which is fine, but you want your wins to be significant. So this year we entered the largest print category, up against the big dailies.

And we won three awards. But the one that had my name on it (along with, y’know, three others, and the unseen name of our editor, who made it immeasurably better) was a first place.

award

That was the college-drinking project, fyi.

So it was a good night. I had three glasses of wine and regretted it yesterday, because I am old and can no longer handle liquor. (Next stop: The grave.) Either that, or I didn’t have enough to eat, a strong possibility as I try to go Clean again. It was still a fun night. One of Alan’s staffers won Young Journalist of the Year, so a good time was had on both sides of the Nall-Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere.

May I just say? While you guys were carrying the load here over the last 48 hours, I was highly amused by Danny’s comment on the Tinder date, a very only-in-California story. And I was moved and heartened by MichaelG’s travel to Europe. Sail on, sailor.

Perhaps weighed down by trying to process a mere 12 ounces of wine, Wednesday was a snoozer. Fortunately, the bloggage is not. Somehow I got on the Wayne County prosecutor’s press-release mailing list, and every so often it delivers a gem:

An American Airlines co-pilot, John Francis Maguire, 50 (DOB 9/30/65), of Pennsylvania has been charged with the misdemeanor charge of :Aircraft – Operating Under the Influence. On March 26, 2016, at approximately 6:45 a.m. at Detroit Metropolitan Airport it is alleged that Maguire in the cockpit of an American Airlines plane and was under the influence of alcohol when he was detained and then arrested. He was later released by authorities on the same day.

Maguire will be arraigned and have a pre-trial hearing on May 11, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in 34th District Court.

Prosecutor Worthy said, “Although we do not often hear of pilots being allegedly intoxicated, the laws apply to everyone – whether one is on the roads or airways.”

There’s nothing worse than drunken white girls, especially when they run in packs:

It’s a Friday night in Provincetown, in late August, and the mise-en-scène of this delicate ecosystem, plopped atop a sandbar in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is being threatened by a new and unfamiliar scourge. They are called, simply, The Bachelorettes.

Provincetown is, of course, as gay as …a very gay thing.

Determined to find some bachelorettes who will let me spend the night bar-hopping around Provincetown with them, I go to MacMillan Pier on Saturday morning to await the first boat from Boston. Immediately, I encounter a sextuplet of blondes wearing team bride tank tops. Maid of honor Stacey will not shake my hand. I ask if I can hang with them tonight.

“I don’t think so,” Stacey says. “Girls only.”

I am completely befuddled. “In Provincetown?” I ask. She is standing only feet away from a gaggle of bearded men sipping Muscle Milk and talking about Beyoncé.

“Sorry,” Stacey says in a smug, dense way.

I’m told they do that here, too, but I haven’t been invited to a bachelorette party in decades.

Finally, while I know there are a great many charter-school foes in this readership (coff-Brian-coff), after a few years of reading and reporting on them, I think the whole movement was best summed up by a charter expert who told me, “I’ve been in charters so good they make me want to give up a tenured professorship and go teach in them. And there are some that are just terrible.”

Here’s one in Detroit that Bridge wrote about. Guess which kind it is?

Now I’m going to swallow a melatonin and try to make up for the sin of drinking on a Tuesday night.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media | 31 Comments
 

Kibbles ‘n’ b.s.

The day we took our first Jack Russell terrier home, the breeder gave us a deli container of food – Iams Eukanuba. “I’ve always fed my dogs Eukanuba, and they’ve done well on it,” she said.

So we took Spriggy home, gave the bag of Purina we’d already bought to the shelter, bought a bag of Eukanuba and never looked back. Sprig lasted until a month shy of his 18th birthday. So when we adopted Wendy, we bought a bag. I couldn’t find it at my beloved locally owned pet store (Lou’s, the best in town), so I bought it from a regional chain a few blocks away, one with a very all-natural, snooty kind of nothing’s-too-good-for-my-fur-baby vibe. They had a frequent-buyer’s program, and I dragged that punch card around for the more than two years it’s taken to buy 12 bags. On Saturday, I took it in for my free 13th bag.

“Just to let you know,” the clerk said, “but we’re not going to be restocking this when the inventory is gone. It has…corn in it, which is contrary to the Snooty Pet Store philosophy.” All this delivered in a sort of of-course-you-agree airiness.

I stood there thinking, “If it weren’t for the Chinese and their poisoned pet food, this place wouldn’t exist.” Also thinking, “If this is a ploy to get me to pay even more for dog food, it ain’t gonna work.” You can put organic lamb and mountain blueberries in kibble, but we’re still talking about an animal that will eat its own poop, and with gusto.

Any suggestions? This place gets on my nerves.

So, then. Perhaps you’ve heard about Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who recently learned the man who he thought was his father, wasn’t. His real father turned out to be Sir Anthony Montague Browne, an aide to Winston Churchill. But until you’ve read his mother’s marvelous explanation of how this happened, you really haven’t lived:

Gavin Welby, my ex-husband, was a very strong, possessive character. At the end of March 1955 he was bullying me to leave my job as personal secretary to the Prime Minister and run away with him and marry him in the United States where his divorce was being finalised. At the age of 25, as I was, the pressure became too great and in the end I found myself unable to resist.

One feature of this pressure is that I was already drinking heavily at times. Although I could then ensure that this did not affect my work, it was later to develop into serious alcoholism during the 1960s which only came to an end when I entered rehab in 1968. I have not drunk alcohol since.

Although my recollection of events is patchy, I now recognize that during the days leading up to my very sudden marriage, and fuelled by a large amount of alcohol on both sides, I went to bed with Anthony Montague Browne. It appears that the precautions taken at the time didn’t work and my wonderful son was conceived as a result of this liaison.

Girl, that sort of thing happens all the time. Relax. You got a fine boy out of it. He grew up to be Archbishop of Canterbury! Blood will always tell. I’m sure he’ll forgive you.

You might have heard that Andrew Sullivan, the ultimate bad penny, is back on the job, or will be soon, this time at New York magazine. Roy makes the case for not forgetting Sullivan’s background, in case you need to be reminded, you fifth columnist.

God, here comes Tuesday. No entry tomorrow, alas — journalism awards tonight, so I’ll be curling my hair and getting my Oscar dress steamed.

Posted at 12:19 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 88 Comments
 

Desperately seeking zzzz’s.

If you’re looking for some pithy content today, you’re in the wrong place. Slept extremely badly last night, so I’m looking for an extra-early bedtime, a melatonin and fervent hopes for a good night’s sleep.

I was in Ann Arbor much of the day, and had a first: A source who grew up in Columbia City, and remembered my stupid face in her parents’ evening newspaper. That would be Columbia City, Indiana, for you non-sophisticates out there. A real happenin’ town. I showed my horse there a couple of times, passed through the McDonald’s drive-thru lane. Woo. Good times.

Bloggage: Here’s the story I was writing when Wendy was editing me, on Friday.

I’m also reading up on the Panama papers, so I can think about them coherently.

I suppose y’all will be discussing Wisconsin by the time I check in tomorrow, but for now, it’s lights out for me.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 31 Comments
 

Very, very successful.

I confess, I was only about halfway through the Donald Trump interview when I posted it last night. It went on and on and on, and it never got coherent. How can a person talk and talk and talk like this, in an interview with one of the most important news outlets in the country? Here, they’re trying – and trying and trying and trying – to get him to say when he decided to run for president. Not a difficult question, you’d think. But nooooo:

Remember this crazy man, Lawrence O’Donnell — he’s a total crazy nut — he said, Donald Trump only made a million dollars with “The Apprentice.” I said, “A million dollars?” You know, when you have a show that’s essentially number one almost every time it goes on, you can name it. . . . So anyway, when they added it all up — and these are certified numbers, because you have to do certified numbers — it came out to $213 million. Okay? That’s what I made on “The Apprentice.” That’s just — and that’s one of my small things. That’s what I made. You know? So it was put at $213 million, and it was certified. And your friend Joe in the morning said, “There’s no way he only made. . . .” They had a big fight, and O’Donnell, Lawrence O’Donnell started crying. I never saw anything like it. Do you remember? He started crying. [Laughter] He actually started crying. But that shows the level of hatred that people have. But what happened is, I made — I had a very, very successful show. And they put me in polls, and I was essentially leading right at the top, without doing any work. Not one speech, not one anything. But any time I was in a poll, I did very well in the poll. Anyway, I decided not to do it. NBC called and Mark Burnett would call, and I did see if I could get out. I had another year on the contract. Because you’re not allowed, because of the equal time, you’re not allowed to have a show . . . .

RC: What happened between 2011 and 2014?

DT: Well, that’s what — I mean. . . . Between 2011 and 2014? I would say, just thought process. Only thought process.

And that is pretty much the level of deep thought and intelligence that goes into what seems to be the entire interview. If I were a loyal Republican, I’d be drinking pretty much nonstop.

That’s the really long thing I finished reading. Also, this really long thing, which is incredibly creepy: A Gay Talese exploration of an extremely dedicated voyeur. If I stayed in a motel in Aurora, Colo., anytime between the mid-’60s and mid-’90s? I’d be staring at the ceiling tonight.

Otherwise? It was cold today, and I’m damn sick of it. I dug out my winter dog walking pants – that’s how cold it was. I wore a B-level sweater I don’t like much – that’s how cold it was. I wore a fleece scarf. Today sucked.

I also read this piece, about Gov. Snyder and the Flint water crisis, and even after running it through the usual filters – Salon, generally leftish-y writer, etc. – it’s still not unfair. If you’re still scratching your head about how this could happen, read it.

This week’s episode of “Girls” had a play within it about the Kitty Genovese murder. Then this happens – the man who killed Genovese died in prison.

Finally, you don’t have to be a web designer to know that colors in HTML code are expressed in six-digit numbers, do you? Maybe you do. Well, anyway, time can be expressed in six-digit numbers, too. So here’s a clock that changes colors, very slowly.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events | 34 Comments
 

A fighter.

Thursday was the first night of the Free Press Film Festival here in Detroit, and a few of us went to a screening of “T-Rex,” a documentary about Claressa Shields, the first woman to win a gold medal in women’s Olympic boxing, which she did in 2012. She was just 17 when she won, and is training in hopes of repeating in Rio this year.

Shields hails from Flint, and that’s where most of the film was set. As you can probably guess, she doesn’t come from money. In fact, she comes from some pretty grinding poverty – her mother, seen in only a few scenes, is missing most of her teeth and seems to be a pretty enthusiastic drinker. Her sister is a feral force of nature; in one scene, the sister tells us how she dislikes her mother’s current boyfriend. As if on cue, he steps into the scene and the two exchange insults.

She calls him a pervert. I sighed. How often do we have to learn this lesson? When a teenage girl calls mom’s boyfriend a pervert, pay attention to her, because she is telling you something very important. Sure enough, a little googling and look here:

There frequently wasn’t food much on the table. The family received food stamps, but the food stamps never seemed to turn into actual food.

“I honestly don’t know what happened to the food stamps, but I think she sold them for drugs,” Shields says.

But mostly what Shields remembers from those early years is the men. Her mother had a lot of acquaintances, she said, and every time she turned around, there was another one, it seemed.

Three of them, she said, raped and sexually molested her.

A friend of mine is a therapist, and did a stint in a low-income mental-health facility. She said sexual abuse of her clients was so common that it was easier to just assume they’d all been molested by someone in their lives.

Shields isn’t asked about this in the film; she only revealed it later. But the sister’s exchange with the boyfriend got a big laugh, I guess because she’s so sassy and all.

But the film was good. I’ve seen so many lousy documentaries I wasn’t expecting much, but it was shot well, the story was coherent and reasonably honest and the conflict that so many docs have to trump up was right there – Claressa fighting her way through qualifiers, trying to have a relationship with her sparring partner (a young man, as there were no other girls in her gym to spar with), and the classic athlete’s story of gradually growing away from the first coach who believed in her. The coach and his wife took her into their home, and for that they deserve a medal of their own. But sometimes you can’t go further until you change teachers; it happens, it’s not a tragedy, but it’s sad for the ones left behind.

Oh, and for those who assume an Olympic gold medal is a ticket to riches? She didn’t get one endorsement offer, not a single solitary one. With her strong features and stocky body, and her comments in interviews that she actually enjoys landing punches, I guess corporate America just couldn’t deal. Things seem to be going better this year; some of the rough edges have been sanded off, and of course, the attention paid to Serena Williams in the past year helped the world accept bad-ass black women.

I’m rooting for her, anyway.

And that was why no blog on Friday. Out late Thursday.

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing. Sunday was ladies’ schvitz brunch, and I took a friend. We killed a bottle of champagne, sweated through a few cycles in the steam, went shopping and found myself a floor-length Tadashi Shoji gown at a vintage pop-up, for $5. The boobal area may need some special foundation wear, but I’m set for the next auto prom.

Eight years ago this blog picked up a few readers when I pointed out some plagiarism by a guest columnist in the paper I used to work for. The following isn’t precisely plagiarism, just extreme aggravated laziness by the editor-in-chief, to fill his always-mediocre Saturday column space. The column is here. The source material, here. He added one quote, from George W. Bush, one that Slate included in its Bushisms collection. Sigh.

Thanks to Deborah for pointing out this outstanding piece on Aretha Franklin, including a quote from the current president, when asked about his reaction to her recent Kennedy Center Honors performance. You might recall it; Obama shed tears.

When I e-mailed President Obama about Aretha Franklin and that night, he wasn’t reticent in his reply. “Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R. & B., rock and roll—the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope,” he wrote back, through his press secretary. “American history wells up when Aretha sings. That’s why, when she sits down at a piano and sings ‘A Natural Woman,’ she can move me to tears—the same way that Ray Charles’s version of ‘America the Beautiful’ will always be in my view the most patriotic piece of music ever performed—because it captures the fullness of the American experience, the view from the bottom as well as the top, the good and the bad, and the possibility of synthesis, reconciliation, transcendence.”

I’d bet a paycheck he wrote that himself, or gave the quote to the press secretary. What do you think?

A trip to Crazytown, with the full transcript of a recent WashPost interview with Donald Trump.

Finally, since y’all like dog pictures, here’s my Friday-morning editor. Wendy likes to suggest changes before I get too deep into the weeds:

wendyhelps

Let’s all have a Monday, shall we?

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Movies | 26 Comments
 

Patty.

Meet Cathy who’s lived most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Barclay Square
But Patty likes to rock ‘n’ roll, a hot dog makes her lose control
What a crazy pair

We all know by now that Patty Duke died this week. Because most of us are boomers at least, we probably all know the theme and lyrics to “The Patty Duke Show,” which didn’t exactly put her on the map — that was “The Miracle Worker” — but it was the show that spoke directly to us, because we weren’t blind and deaf, like Helen Keller.

Truth be told, I was a little young to be a teen when Patty was playing the Patty/Cathy dual role. I paid more attention to the show when it went into reruns and ran on the UHF station in Cleveland that reached Columbus via cable. My friend Paul, who was gay, loved it the way straight stoner kids loved “Star Trek,” so of course the next step was to find “Valley of the Dolls,” also starring Patty, and fall in love with that. Which we both did. To this day, when I hear the theme song, or recall the crazy ’60s cinematography, I think of Paul.

United with Patty now, maybe, somewhere in the afterlife. The original wig-snatcher.

Speaking of deaths, 180 degrees opposed in every way, you’re going to want to read this elegant, elegiac piece by the great Dan Barry, yet another boxing tragedy, about the day a couple of flyweight boxers went at it and one died in the ring. Died. It’s always possible, but it’s still appalling when it happens.

Boy, this blog feels out of gas these days, doesn’t it? So do I. Sorry about that, but it usually comes back, in one way or another. Let’s hope so. Wednesday, is it? Here we go.

Posted at 12:13 am in Current events | 29 Comments
 

The rebirth, and one death.

A pretty good weekend ripened into a perfect Easter — bell-clear, warm, perfect. The Facebook pictures on my feed are a glory of sunshine and pastels, little girls in pretty dresses and boys in bow ties, egg hunts and big family feeds

Me, I wore black. Still not ready to transition to my springtime color palette of white, beige and gray.

But a good weekend. It included “The Ten Commandments” (not the whole thing, of course, because there were commercials roughly ever 45 seconds), a David Bowie tribute concert, Easter, spaghetti and a few other wonderful things. Now a thunderstorm is drawing the curtain down on the whole thing. Not bad.

Here’s an OID story for you: A mediocre avant-garde artist partially disassembles a Detroit house and ships it to Rotterdam for an exhibition, promising he’d clean the whole thing up within six months.

Yeah, that was a year ago.

The story of 20194 Stoepel has become a tangled web of lofty artistic intentions, unintended consequences and broken promises, leaving neighbors living next to blight they say is worse than when the house was simply abandoned.

“I feel disrespected to the max, like we are nothing,” said Beverly Woung, who lives next door to the crumbling remains.

Which is bad enough, but when you read the guy’s self-justification, it’s enough to turn you into a Republican.

When I started on this project, my thoughts were clear. I wanted to bring a house back to Europe from America. When I arrived in Detroit in March 2015 I realised that this city – in the country I had left in 1992 out of distaste for its nationalistic, isolationist, police-dog mentality and its privatised prison system, along with its thick dictionary of rules and tax codes and its ingratiating political correctness – had, aside from the positive developments that were mostly in the downtown area, begun to look like a war zone.

This guy is such a douche it takes your breath away. And now the city is going to have to clean up his mess.

What happens when you make a great research university an arm of the state chamber of commerce. In Wisconsin, specifically.

But the big news of the weekend is the death of Jim Harrison, a great poet, novelist, gourmand, and Charlotte’s neighbor. It was only a matter of time — he was old and looked terrible — but it’s still a shock. I won’t sugarcoat his last few books, which were not his best and sometimes embarrassing to read, but when he was good, he was as good as anyone. And he wrote a lot when he was good. Almost everyone slips a little in old age. And even when he wasn’t great, he was better than almost everyone.

A big loss. Now I have to download his last book.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments
 

One letter too far, for now.

So, here in Michigan, this happened:

Lansing — The Michigan Department of Education has generated a GOP backlash and complaints of “social engineering” by recommending that public schools adopt transgender-friendly policies but refrain from unilaterally telling parents if students identify with a gender they didn’t have at birth.

A House appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday stripped from a budget bill all travel and per-diem funding for the Democrat-dominated State Board of Education, a move the Republican chairman called “a message” to members who will consider the draft recommendation on May 10.

The amendment, approved in a party-line vote, came one day after House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, blasted the Education Department’s draft guidance memorandum as “a poorly written and poorly thought-out proposal that takes away the rights of parents and upsets the privacy and safety of Michigan’s children.”

Of course, hardly anyone knew about this until the Daily Caller did their usual subtle aggregation, virality happened, and then things got to a full boil.

Honestly, I don’t blame parents for being upset. In the LGBT movement, there needs to be a lot more education before the general public, which is finally pretty-much OK with the LGB part, figures out the T part, and gets comfortable with it. Believe me, there are plenty of nice parents who are perfectly cool with gay uncles and aunts and close family friends, who are not going to be cool with transgender locker rooms for middle schoolers.

I asked a gay friend of mine the other day, what does transgenderism have to do with gay people? If Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, has always been a woman, was born in the wrong body but is now free to be the full expression of womanhood, including dating men, then what does that have to do with homosexuality? He replied:

It is a divisive issue in the LGBT community for the reasons you suspect. There are plenty in the community, myself included, who struggle to understand what it means to see yourself as different from your physical gender. I think added to this is the fact that transgender folks have been so stigmatized and suffered so much mental anguish that they commonly struggle to be functional in daily life.

I honestly don’t know how true that is. Surely there are well-adjusted trans people in the world. And I know the locker-room assault thing is total bullshit, as are even the less-alarmist fears about trans women showering, dongs out, next to cis women. (If ever there was a group condemned forever to the middle-school experience of having a body, it’s them.) But understanding this isn’t going to happen overnight, and I wish someone would acknowledge that.

Meanwhile, on bathrooms: I bet most trans people just use the one they feel most comfortable in already. Like this man, who apparently was born a woman. Like same-sex marriage, this issue will eventually work itself out. I just wish we didn’t walk into these buzzsaws time after time. Change strategy.

In other cranky news at this hour, Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted Thursday. You probably don’t know who he is, but his CBC show, Q, runs in Detroit, and I was a listener. A year or so ago, he was fired, after it came out that he was …pretty much a creep, sexually speaking. He was fond of S&M and rough sex, and didn’t always clear it with his partners first. A few testified that casual encounters turned into smacking or choking, but the judge chose to discount them. He had a good lawyer:

The Crown’s witnesses were firm in their testimony and appeared ready for Henein’s notoriously aggressive mode of cross-examination. But when Henein began to lay out emails, letters, and photo evidence that she said contradicted their testimony, the women and Crown prosecutors seemed equally thrown.

She startled the first witness with an email the woman sent to Ghomeshi containing a photo of her in a bikini. The email, sent months after Ghomeshi allegedly punched her and yanked her hair, appeared to contradict the woman’s testimony that after Ghomeshi assaulted her, she was too traumatized to even hear his voice.

The second witness to testify was Lucy DeCouture, an actor who claimed Ghomeshi choked and slapped her. Henein confronted DeCoutere – who waived the publication ban on naming witnesses – with a photo showing the two of them “cuddling” in a park the day after the alleged assault. In a moment of high drama, Henein asked DeCoutere to read a handwritten letter she wrote to Ghomeshi following their encounter. The letter read: “I love your hands.”

Consistency. It’s what the world needs now. Or better witnesses.

I will be glad to put this week in the books and hope for better next week. Happy Easter, everyone.

Posted at 12:14 am in Current events | 63 Comments
 

Potholes.

The week is one pothole after another, but my shock absorbers are handling it. The weather needs to break; somehow I think a few open windows might make everything a little easier to take. (Pause.) Said every cabin-fever sufferer at this latitude since time immemorial.

This is spring-break time for the local schools, starting with Good Friday and continuing through next week. Strange to be divorced from that schedule for the first time in a decade. Of course, the only question I have of Holy Week is this: When is “The Ten Commandments” on TV?

And also, Passover.

Then jelly beans go on sale and the daffodils bloom. Hurry, please.

I can always tell I’m getting twitchy when I start obsessing on certain current events. This week: Trump and Brussels. I wish the world would stop giving these gifts to me, because I’d like to return both to the service desk. However, let’s use them to kick off the bloggage. Neil Steinberg on the Trumpian response to Brussels:

Because really, after the Brussels bombing, short of wrapping himself in explosives and setting himself off in some crowded public place, nobody could do the terrorist’s bidding with such alacrity as Donald Trump, running from station to station to spread the ISIS gospel.

“Frankly, we’re having problems with the Muslims,” he told Fox News. “These attacks are not done by Swedish people. That I can tell you. We have to be smart. We have to look at the mosques and study what’s going on. There is a sick problem going on.”

In other words, “Muslim = Terrorist.”

Which is exactly the reaction terrorists are looking for when they commit these atrocities. Like Donald Trump, they are uncomfortable with the idea of a tolerant Western society that welcomes all faiths. Like Donald Trump, they don’t think it’s wise for the West to include Muslims either. Like Donald Trump, they’d prefer the cultures remain separate and apart.

So eloquent. Ed and Gin and Tacos is a little harsher. Yesterday we talked about word salads? His post is called Word Cannon:

“What would you do?”

“Something.”

“What’s something?”

“I don’t know, I’ll have to ask someone else.”

About a third of the country is really excited at the prospect of this person getting in the White House.

This is reacting to the WashPost editorial-board meeting, of course. I wonder how many more of those he’ll be doing. Based on the reaction to this one? Not many, I’d wager. No upside.

The WashPost is pretty brutal on Belgium’s culpability in failing to spot the vipers in their midst:

BRUSSELS — The bomb attacks in Belgium offer new evidence of its security forces’ shortcomings in monitoring violent Islamist radicals, a failure that has allowed this country at the heart of Europe to become an incubator of terror.

One glaring example: Belgian authorities knew that at least one of the two siblings accused of blowing themselves up in Tuesday’s attacks — Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 29 — had entered Turkey with the apparent intent of joining Islamist militants in Syria, according to a senior Turkish security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Bakraoui was stopped by Turkish authorities last summer at the Syrian border and sent to the neighboring Netherlands. But Belgian officials now say that at the time, they did not equate his attempt to join the fighters with a possible terrorist threat.

Pop culture news. Guess who died recently?

Clare Alden MacIntyre-Ross’ death on March 9 in Falls Church, Virginia, might have gone largely unnoticed by the larger world if she hadn’t been a Fresh Air Fund camp counselor in 1960 — and if her parents had let her take the subway.

The Scarsdale native was the daughter of former Scarsdale Mayor Malcolm MacIntyre, who was also the former president of Eastern Air Lines and under secretary of the Air Force under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Clare’s claim to fame was that she inspired Harry Chapin to write the love song “Taxi,” about former lovers who meet after years when he picks her up in his cab.

Finally, I really admire people who can turn Twitter into a form of dada art. Like this woman. Not for everyone, but I laughed out loud.

Man, doing the taxes this weekend is going to feel like a massage. Beginning, middle, end. Enjoy the week’s downslope.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 43 Comments
 

Tuesday’s roundup.

I can’t be the only one who saw this picture of the Obamas in Old Havana, and thought of this painting in the Art Institute, can I?

Late update today, sorry. Last night was the inaugural meeting of a new movie club some friends and I are trying to get going, and I didn’t get home until late. The theme was Shot in Detroit, and we watched “Only Lovers Left Alive.” I think I was the only one who really liked it, but then, I’m a sucker for Tilda Swinton in pretty much everything, and my husband is a Jim Jarmusch fan, so I’m predisposed. In the discussion afterward, one guy made an amusing point about scenester vampires and their quest for authentic food. That was funny.

Always nice to see old friends, this being the old filmmaking crew. One of the guys is the poster boy for Michigan’s changing economy, having gone from autoworker to special-effects makeup artist. When the tax incentives were cut, he got way less movie work, but now he’s hooked up with a guy who makes prosthetic limbs, a perfect fit for a guy who used to make prosthetic zombie limbs. He said one of their clients recently tripped a metal detector and when she told the guard she was wearing an artificial leg, he couldn’t tell which one.

So now it is Tuesday, and all is better than it was on Sunday. I think I do need a vacation, but not until June.

The president went to Cuba, and Donald Trump went to Washington. Trump met with the Washington Post editorial board and talked about his hands again. He also dodged a few questions:

RYAN: You [MUFFLED] mentioned a few minutes earlier here that you would knock ISIS. You’ve mentioned it many times. You’ve also mentioned the risk of putting American troop in a danger area. If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?

TRUMP: I don’t want to use, I don’t want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting [MUFFLED]…

RYAN: This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?

[CROSSTALK]

TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?

Keep your fingers crossed, America. One lump in Hillary Clinton’s breast, and this guy is your next commander in chief.

We have talked about trolls here before, but this Bloomberg reporter’s troll story is way worse than mine, or Lindy West’s: A vengeful Chinese businessman made her a target for two years, heaping vile abuse upon her head via his “news” website. Her and others, actually:

I wasn’t the first person accused of racism on TheBlot. Before me, there was Michael Emen, a Nasdaq official. In 2011, Nasdaq delisted a Wey client called CleanTech Innovations. (The decision was overturned by the SEC in July 2013 after the company appealed.) A piece labeled “opinion” appeared on TheBlot focusing on Emen’s role, alleging abuse of his powers, discrimination, and racial profiling. “Michael Emen Reveals Racism at Nasdaq” is still at the top of a Google search on his name.

Similar “investigations,” as they were tagged, began to appear regularly on TheBlot. The attacks reflected Wey’s obsession with what he saw as the unfair treatment of Chinese companies by the U.S. media and regulators. TheBlot went after Roddy Boyd, a freelance reporter who’d doggedly analyzed accounting irregularities at U.S.-listed Chinese companies; Jon Carnes, a short seller; Francine McKenna, who wrote about AgFeed on her accounting-focused blog; and a pair of Barron’s reporters who’d covered reverse-merger companies and Wey’s business. The accompanying graphics grew coarser and coarser, including photos of toilet bowls full of feces.

It’s a long piece, but this, THIS is the money quote:

Decades into the Internet Age, there’s no surefire method to get defamatory material taken down if the person responsible for it is ready to put up a fight.

So, so, so true. It’s hard to get stuff taken down even if the person doesn’t fight. Hey, Google is just the messenger, doncha know.

Finally, more bloodshed, this time in Belgium. A developing story, as they say. We’ll see how it develops.

Posted at 9:14 am in Current events, Movies | 82 Comments