I think every job has people who are attracted to it for the wrong reasons. We are no longer surprised to learn that pedophiles seek out positions that put them in contact with young people. Some journalists are, yes, showboating dicks (although I’ve found they are more likely to be concentrated in television). And some cops are, let’s face it, bullies.

You know that law enforcement has been having a bad year or two. Many of them blame rabble-rousers; I credit the smartphone. But as incident after incident piles up, the evidence becomes more galling. The ranks of police, or “LEOs” in the current parlance (that’s law enforcement officers) are well-stocked with jerks who will take any opportunity to grind a boot in your face just because he can. I’ve seen it myself, and before we go any further, I’ll stipulate that yes, many are heroes and many more enter the force with noble intentions but are worn down by the constant barrage of human cruelty they see on a near-daily basis. There are support systems for those LEOs, but I’m sure few if any are perfect. I’m equally sure that cops may have a spoken or unspoken cultural bias against asking for help, for the usual reasons. But that’s not what I want to talk about here.

I saw the tape of the Sandra Bland arrest — the original is nearly an hour long, and this story contains a fair distillation of around 7 minutes — and it’s pretty clear we’re dealing with a bad apple here. The cop comes up behind Bland, she moves to the right to let him pass, and he stops her for failing to signal a lane change. Bland does not hide her displeasure. He tells her she seems irritated; she says she is. “Are you done?” he asks, with that me-cop-you-not condescension some of them like to deploy, and it’s all downhill from there. Bland does not go quietly, and swears lustily, and at this point I don’t care if she called upon all the souls in hell to help her. She was right to be pissed; it was a bullshit stop. She wasn’t operating erratically. Traffic was light, she didn’t cause a near-miss collision. She didn’t turn on her signal, a crime committed approximately 90 zillion times a day all over the country (often by police). If this guy came to Detroit he would get all the action he wanted on that offense without going half a mile from the station.

I don’t dislike police, really I don’t. But I’m wondering why, when these things happen, the thin blue line rarely speaks up. If these incidents have taught us anything, it’s that an officer has to be caught red-handed by someone with a phone, a good camera angle and the smarts to get away clean for them to face any sort of discipline in these cases. How often are prosecutors willing to come down hard on police, upon whom they depend for the convictions that keep them in their jobs? The evidence has to be overwhelming. And even when it is, the rule of law essentially says we understand how hard it is to do this job, and sometimes mistakes are made. Eric Garner, choked to death, no charge. They have latitude, and lots of it, to make decisions under duress, and they’re rarely held to serious account when things go wrong.

But just once, I want an officer to be able to hand over a ticket to a pissed-off black woman, or any other person, without demanding all that yes-sir-officer crap in the bargain. Any stop by the police pretty much ruins your day; a ticket can ruin your spending-money budget for a month or more. Bland knew this was b.s., took the bait and her life circled the drain. Three days later she’d be dead. I’m thoroughly, thoroughly sick of this shit. I want police to police themselves.

What Gin & Tacos said.

One more item, and then I’m out: Are you ready for your car to be hacked? You better be.

Posted at 12:23 am in Current events | 78 Comments

Summer slowness.

Monday might be my least-favorite blogging day of the week. Nothing ever happens to me on a Monday. Usually I go to the downtown office, so that’s something. But usually nothing interesting happens there, either. You see movies about journalists, and you think it’s all running around to fires and stuff, and there’s some of that, or used to be. For me and my colleagues, it’s mostly talking on the phone and staring at a computer screen.

I once had lunch with an editor who worked in the same office complex, or cluster, or whatever, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page. He could walk by and see them at work. What did he observe, you might wonder? Spells being cast, raucous staff meetings, Nerf basketball?

“Emails,” he said. “Lots and lots of emails.” That’s journalism today.

And since I brown-bagged it, I didn’t even get the fun of going out onto the sweaty streets to see what’s up. Except at the bus stop, which was pretty quiet. I think the whole world goes on vacation in July and August.

I did get a road report from the Deadly Vipers: The three shows so far have been in small spaces that were tightly packed with sweaty, moshing, toilet paper roll-throwing celebrants. They’ve been called back for encores all three shows, and “we’re selling a lot of tapes.” Yes, tapes, because some guy in Brooklyn is releasing their music on cassette. As I recall, the last time I was there people were gathering under a tent at a street festival to take a turn working on that wacky wayback machine known as a typewriter.

The rest of you can check out two tracks from the four-track EP via Soundcloud.

I know Americans have hardly covered themselves with glory abroad. I know idiots have scratched Ryan + Amber 4Ever on the Stonehenge monuments, touched stuff they were told not to and otherwise stumbled and bumbled their way through the world’s glories — don’t even get me started on that stupid locks-on-the-bridge thing in Paris — but honestly, there’s something about the lead of this story that makes me want to drop a bomb on France, just to get this guy:

Andre Saraiva is an internationally known graffiti artist. He owns nightclubs in Paris and New York, works as a top editor of the men’s fashion magazine L’Officiel Hommes and has appeared in countless glossy magazines as a tastemaker and bon vivant.

Two months ago he showed up on the decidedly un-fashionista website Modern Hiker, along with a photo of a boulder he tagged in Joshua Tree National Park. Since then, Saraiva, who lives in France and is known by his fans as Mr. Andre and Mr. A., has been scorned by American nature lovers and thrust into a highly charged debate.

Saraiva is of a new generation of graffiti artists who regard nature — not just the built environment — as their canvas. They tag national parks, then post photos of their work on the Internet.

The next bomb goes on the front office of the magazine whose editor offered this priceless observation:

“This is a very complex issue,” said Casey Schreiner, editor of Modern Hiker. “How different is graffiti in national parks than street art? If street art is OK, is this OK? Is there a correlation?”

Answers, in order: Very, no, no. Next question.

This is an interesting piece to consider, as demographics and trends move the wheel around. Remember the anonymous suburban office park in “Office Space?” Remember how you thought, “God, there are a million of those in my city alone?” Well, there are. And they’re falling out of favor:

The building in North Bethesda has eight floors. It is 98.7 percent vacant. There is one life form within its nearly 210,000 square feet — not counting the lobby fern on life support — and she wears a security uniform, sits at the front desk and listens to the muffled whine of a faulty alarm for hours at a time, every day between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“It’s quite annoying,” say Lum Tumentang, the guard. The building engineer sometimes stops by and turns it off, but it inevitably trips again. There’s one or two IT people who do IT stuff one flight up, but they’re not here right now. The building was built in 1989, and it shows: a mountain of tinted glass and beige concrete in commercial dullsville. Over the past decade, its value dropped by 64 percent. The largest tenant, the National Institutes of Health and its contractors, started packing up two years ago as leases expired. By 2014, the owner reported cash-flow problems, foreclosure arrived this past January, and that was it for 6116 Executive Blvd.

That’s in D.C. Your town is likely not far behind.

So, then, Monday is in the books and Tuesday lies ahead. Enjoy whatever it holds for you.

Posted at 12:20 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 47 Comments

The horn section.

The Detroit “scene” — yes, air quotes are definitely called for here — has been growing so quickly that it’s sometimes hard to tell the New Detroit weekend activities from the earlier, more organic and fun variety. One year you’re going on a group bike ride and it’s just a good time, two years later you have thousands of fellow riders and corporate/foundation sponsorship and all the rest of it.

So lately, when I hear that something’s going on somewhere in the central part of town, I’m less likely to think hey, fun and more likely to think parking’s gonna be a four-legged bitch, no doubt.

It was a pleasant surprise to drop by the second annual Crash Detroit festival in its waning hours Saturday and see it was still fun. This is a brass-band gathering, very much in the New Orleans tradition of fun and partying and spontaneity, and we arrived for the last act, the hometown Detroit Party Marching Band:


A little dark, I know, but I wanted you to get the idea of how they work — no stage, just gather up and start playing. And they play hard. The trombonist nearest to me shed his jacket halfway through the show, but I bet he wished he could shed more. Most of these folks play hard, and it was hot.

Still, in the depths of summer, a good news Sunday. There’s the Bill Cosby story, so much ick in one package:

He was not above seducing a young model by showing interest in her father’s cancer. He promised other women his mentorship and career advice before pushing them for sex acts. And he tried to use financial sleight of hand to keep his wife from finding out about his serial philandering.

Bill Cosby admitted to all of this and more over four days of intense questioning 10 years ago at a Philadelphia hotel, where he defended himself in a deposition for a lawsuit filed by a young woman who accused him of drugging and molesting her.

Even as Mr. Cosby denied he was a sexual predator who assaulted many women, he presented himself in the deposition as an unapologetic, cavalier playboy, someone who used a combination of fame, apparent concern and powerful sedatives in a calculated pursuit of young women — a profile at odds with the popular image he so long enjoyed, that of father figure and public moralist.

Man, I’m not one for idolizing celebrities (with some exceptions), and this is not Monday-morning hindsight, but there was always something off-putting about his Doctor Cosby, American Dad act I found off-putting. I should trust my instinct more often.

Brian Dickerson, my No. 1 reason for reading the Sunday Free Press, had a thoughtful column about the pressures on liberal arts educations these days. I think he nails it — business is trying to outsource its training onto higher ed — and have been saddened at the idea that studying something other than finance, marketing, math and business is somehow worthless. I’ve known many liberal-arts majors who are brilliant business people; knowing Iago’s motivation might be a useful skill in business, in my opinion, but what do I know.

A long read, but absolutely worth it: A long NYT project on crime on the high seas, Pulitzer-worthy, that reminds me to read William Langewiesche’s book on the same subject. A sobering reminder of the cost of civilization, a connection I probably drew from my liberal-arts education.

Oh, and also, this weekend? There was a pie:


I’m-a eat a piece. Right now. Enjoy the upcoming week.

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

Not what you think it is.

My comments on “Go Set a Watchman” come from a place of near-total ignorance of the text itself. I read the reviews and the first chapter online, and that’s it. So that’s your serving of salt grains with this, and here goes:

The only reason to read this book is as a case study in the power of a good editor. It’s not a lesson every reader wants to learn, or even cares about. Of all the movie fans in the world, how many want to learn about depth of field, how different lenses and film stocks work, the director’s art, or the color timer’s? They just want to enjoy the story unfolding in the dark. But in the case of these two books, all the evidence points to a single truth: This publication is an object lesson in the need for rock-solid estate planning and the need to appoint trustworthy guardians who will carry out your wishes, wishes you express when you still have the vigor to do so.

So when I hear Jeff say that lots of older people grow rigid and crabbed in their beliefs, and this is not a ridiculous turn of events for Atticus Finch, it makes me sad. Of course it’s true. But the Atticus of Watchman is not the same man of Mockingbird, for a very good reason: He’s a fictional character, and in her rewrite, Lee essentially crumpled up the paper she was sketching him on and started from scratch. Just because he has the same name doesn’t make him the same person, because he isn’t a person at all.

Although I will admit chuckling over a tweet I saw earlier today (and didn’t note the provenance of, sorry) something about of course Atticus is a bitter old racist 20 years after Mockingbird, because he’s been watching Fox News.

Speaking of estate planning… or rather, not speaking of it, because this story has nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s one of those stories we should all read from time to time, because it drives home just what real poverty is, how many poor families live in Detroit. And everywhere:

Oscar Edwards was born mentally disabled. He’s gentle, speaks only to his family and has the mind of a child.

For his whole life, the 68-year-old has had relatives taking care of him — feeding him, bathing him, keeping him company. And for most of that life he’s lived in an old house on Petoskey Street on the city’s west side; first with his parents, who died long ago, then with his two brothers, who both passed away recently.

Now, the house is falling apart. The warm air inside reeks of mold. The ceiling in his bedroom collapsed. The repair estimates are skyrocketing. And nobody in the family has any money to fix any of it.

So the family set up a GoFundMe site, hoping to raise enough money to make the repairs. It included a video of the interior of the house. Which is not pretty:

Evans was invited on an AM talk radio show, where the host called her a scammer and urged listeners to report the family to the state. A local TV station did a couple of stories about Uncle Oscar, and viewers posted comments online accusing the family of being negligent. A racist website stumbled on the fund-raising page and posted an unflattering photo of Uncle Oscar and mocked him and the family.

“They called us ‘silverbacks’ and ‘gorillas,’ things like that,” Evans said.

The family sought $30,000 in donations. In three months only $2,787 came in.

Another great, nuanced look by John Carlisle.

Now, back to reading the scariest article I’ve read in a long damn while. I bid farewell to our readers in Seattle, Portland and other places in the Pacific Northwest, should the big one, or the really big one, hit before we speak again.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 85 Comments

Widely scattered.

I know we have readers here from all over, and some of you have perhaps never traveled to the nation’s breadbasket, where many of us live. Perhaps you’re not familiar with the weather condition the meteorologists call “widely scattered thundershowers.” Here’s what it looks like on the radar:


It’s the thing every Midwesterner notices sooner or later, where you call someone who lives a mile away and say, “Too bad it’s raining, or we could go for a run or something,” and your friend says, “What are you talking about? It’s so sunny.” Sometimes you live right on the literal edge of a shower, and can see dry sidewalks on the other side of the street. Rarer still is Hollywood rain, where it’s pouring, but the sun is out, like in those movies shot in Los Angeles sunshine under rain sprinklers. (You know what I always notice about those scenes? It rains HARD under those sprinklers, but no one ever says, “Maybe we should go inside.” Perhaps because those are the scenes where someone is expressing eternal love, five minutes before the credits.)

Anyway. That’s the kind of day it was. Rode my bike to the dentist and regretted not bringing sunglasses. Came out and had to dry off the seat, then race another cell home. Walked the dog 30 minutes later, wishing I had sunglasses. But it was real pretty, with everything all drippy in the sunshine. I kept looking around for Brad Pitt. So I could kiss him and express eternal love.

I rode my bike to the dentist because the office is half a mile away, but also because I didn’t have a car, it being in the shop for the usual ruinously expensive Volvo service interval (timing chain = bread and water for a month). Kate and her bandmates are borrowing it for a week, for a little tour they booked themselves. Me, worried? Ha ha ha ha ha [takes three giant glugs of wine] ha ha ha. The Cataclysmic Events tour kicks off in Brooklyn Friday night and plays a number of closet-sized DIY venues before concluding in St. Louis (oy) a week later, then home. I’m sure they will have the time of their lives. Those of you who are the praying sorts, feel free to include them in your dailies. ALSO INCLUDE MY CAR.

So, a bit of bloggage today. This has been one newsy year, hasn’t it?

If you’re going to do sex work, make serious bank at it, the way the wait staff at Las Vegas pools do:

Vegas’s hot summers are slow for tourism, but in the past decade, resorts have transformed the generic poolside experience into a lavish party scene. This has spawned a pool-industrial complex, where attendees, even guests who once enjoyed free entrance to a hotel pool, now pay into the thousands for general admittance per day, shaded cabanas and private bottle service at parties featuring daylong drinking and celebrity D.J.s.

Inside the parties, a class structure prevails: The proletariat use towels to claim spots around the pool, the bourgeoisie reserve $1,000 cabanas and aristocrats fork over up to $15,000 for private bungalows equipped with televisions and temperature-controlled climates. Add in food and drink minimums, and these clubs, combined with their night-life counterparts, now surpass the longtime king of casino revenue — gambling.

For the tipped worker, the appeal is obvious. Checks can spike into the tens of thousands, and with an automatic 18 percent gratuity, few service jobs can compete. No wonder people fly in from around the country to apply for them.

Could this story of civil protest in Dent County, Mo., pop. 15,000, be more predictable? The county commission voted to lower flags to half-staff for one day a month (the 26th, because that was the day in June that SCOTUS let the homos get married) for a year, then walked it back “out of respect for veterans,” but not before it yielded this priceless quote:

“It ain’t what our Bible tells us. It’s against God’s plan,” County Commissioner Gary Larson said.

Whenever I read a quote like that, I think of the gray areas of cleaning up bad grammar in quotes, a subject that journalists around the world can no doubt chew your ear off and bore you to death, discussing. I tend to leave it intact except in cases where the speaker’s meaning might be misunderstood, but if you look at stories from many Ohio newspapers during the governorship of Jim Rhodes, the guy sounds like an Oxford don, and friends? He was not.

The Onion swings the sword of truth, regrettably.

Which takes us all the way to the week’s hump. How’d that happen?

Posted at 12:34 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments

One great lunch.

Well, thank y’all for the kind comments. I’m not going away, but I might take a few days off from time to time. I’m just feeling the need for the well to refill a little. But I will probably be here, compulsively, until kingdom come or, y’know, the alternative.

Today I was reading a story, a fairly straightforward news story, that referred to so-and-so’s “passing.” Um, OK. I prefer “died,” myself, but that’s the alternative I’m talking about.

Let’s not talk about that.

Lunch in Ann Arbor with my editor and a source. The source picked the restaurant. Very interesting menu. Short, simple, Asian-y but not. I got roasted cauliflower because I was feeling like I should eat my vegetables, and would you look at this plate of vegan loveliness?


I thought $14 was a bit steep for a couple bucks’ worth of in-season vegetables, but whoever assembled that plate is an artist. The colors, the fragrance, the taste — all exquisite. In addition to the main ingredient, there’s broccolini, roasted carrots, a little white onion stewed to the consistency of butter with some curried coconut sauce. And a few raisins scattered about. Yum.

Nothing like a good meal to improve your day. My editor kept sneering because he hates cauliflower. He got some chicken schnitzel thing, but I say I got the better bargain.

Dinner tonight was skirt steak on the grill, rice and now we’re watching “When We Were Kings” on the big screen via YouTube. Love summer.

One thing about being tied up most of the day in driving and lunching and more driving? I missed the panic over the stock exchange and whatever else the world was on about today. I was just thinking…cauliflower. Yeahhhh.

Now Kate is at the Stones concert and so are a few of my friends, and I’m enjoying it via social media. That’s the way to enjoy a Stones concert, if you ask me. All the fun, none of the traffic.

A little bloggage, then?

Donald Trump is the monster the GOP created:

One big Republican donor this week floated to the Associated Press the idea of having candidates boycott debates if the tycoon is onstage. Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and other candidates have lined up to say, as Rick Perry put it, that “Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party.”

But Trump has merely held up a mirror to the Republican Party. The man, long experience has shown, believes in nothing other than himself. He has, conveniently, selected the precise basket of issues that Republicans want to hear — or at least a significant proportion of Republican primary voters. He may be saying things more colorfully than others when he talks about Mexico sending rapists across the border, but his views show that, far from being an outlier, he is hitting all the erogenous zones of the GOP electorate.

Anti-immigrant? Against Common Core education standards? For repealing Obamacare? Against gay marriage? Antiabortion? Anti-tax? Anti-China? Virulent in questioning President Obama’s legitimacy? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.

Again from the WashPost, an interesting piece, pegged to the Jared-Subway story, about our misconceptions about pedophiles:

The public typically maintains a highly stereotypical and largely inaccurate view of pedophiles, defined as adults or teens 16 and up who are sexually stimulated by pre-pubescent children (typically 11 and under). We imagine pedophiles as creepy men with shifty eyes, stubble and a trench coat. We think they lurk around schools and playgrounds, waiting to snatch children. We think of these men as despicable lowlifes whom we can spot when we meet them, which is why news of sex crimes against children are invariably met with disbelief. “Stunned” parents and community members say the same thing: “He never seemed like that type of person.” In my three decades working with many men who sexually violate children and teens, I’ve never met one person who fit “that type.”

Women and heroin, a growing romance. Alas.

Good Thursday, all.

Posted at 12:07 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 41 Comments

Better than the finale.

Every year you hear fireworks horror stories. They’re still coming in, but I doubt any will top this one:

Residents at the party began shooting off fireworks in the street — which is illegal — when someone accidentally knocked over an explosive that was supposed to shoot skyward.

Instead of going up, the explosive launched sideways into a party-goer’s 2005 Ford Escape with the hatchback open and right into an arsenal of fireworks in the trunk estimated to be worth between $2,000 and $3,000, according to police.

That set off all of the fireworks inside of the vehicle, setting the car on fire, and shot a large mortar at the house across the street, crashing through the front window.

This is the fruit of a relaxed fireworks law that passed a few years back. Although I must admit, it might have been fun to see that.

So the week is underway — hot weather, storms on the way, followed by storms and cooler. The narrative of the summer. Spent the first day of the week in Ann Arbor, the office mostly deserted, the chickadees singing in the trees. Not a bad Monday.

Some bloggage:

Nighty-night, Bill Cosby. These quaaludes will help you sleep. Deadpan is digging up the documents, and it’s every bit as squicky as you’d expect:

(The alleged victim, the plaintiff) didn’t ask for any money—only an apology—but Cosby still offered her money, according to his testimony, for her “education.” He also offered money to another woman. From the same plaintiff’s motion (emphasis added is mine):

Defendant testified that even though both Plaintiff and her mother told him that all they wanted was an apology, he called Plaintiff’s home and spoke to her mother to offer money for Plaintiff’s “education.” The following occurred during questioning about that event:

Q. So, are you saying that Andrea would have to prove to you that she got a 3.0 average wherever she went in order for you to pay for her education?

A. She would have to prove to me that while she was at said university that she was maintaining a 3.0.

Now there’s a conscience laundry, eh?

“True Detective” fans might enjoy this take on the obvious model for fictional Vinci, California — Vernon, California. A bad place.

I wish I had more, but alas. Let’s try for better tomorrow.

Posted at 12:45 am in Current events | 23 Comments

I was so much older then.

I think everything you need to know about my 40th high school reunion last weekend can be summed up in this scene from its final moments, when I was invited to judge the quality of my oldest friend’s boob job with a friendly squeeze.

Also, this: The boob job was a restoration following a double mastectomy, which itself followed a second bout of the big C in a decade. Because of the previous treatment, the restoration was no simple matter, requiring skin stretchers and all sorts of gruesome-sounding shit. But my friend, Cindy, and her husband Mark, are amazingly upbeat about it all. I think the reason I was invited to handle the goods was because, she said, they didn’t really feel like breasts anymore, with all their sensitivity and tingliness, which I guess stands to reason.

Reader, I cannot deny it: I honked the horns. They felt fine.

“Now all we have to do is shop for nipples!” Mark reported. Evidently that’s the final step.

So that’s life in the late 50s, I guess: Boob jobs, but not for the typical reasons. Grandchildren. Older but wiser. There was a memorial video for the ones who are permanently off the mailing list, so to speak. One word: AIDS. A little more kindness all around. The head cheerleader, apparently the only member of the class with a child younger than mine, explained the circumstances of his debut — 40s, no man on the horizon, sperm bank. A guy I’d always assumed was a drug casualty was finally revealed as an obvious psychiatric case. The funny pot dealers were there, still funny, still probably holding. (I didn’t ask.) At least one pill refused to wear the event T-shirt because the theme was “Forty Shades of Gray” and wearing that on your chest would be counter to God’s law. If he’d said, “Because God disapproves of lousy fiction,” I could get behind that, but I don’t think that’s what he meant.

My class reunites every five years, which always struck me as way too often. It was also a group of nearly 800 souls, which is way too big. You’re lucky to have known a quarter of them, and if 10 percent of them show up at a reunion, you’re lucky. I went to the five, 10, 15, 20 and 25-year events, and said after the last one that I was done forever. So did Cindy; she said that after battling cancer she was in no mood to waste time with vague acquaintances. But this year they roped her onto the committee, and she roped me into going.

Another thing that happened as I was making my way to the door, after the boob squeeze: I was drafted to work on the next committee. There’s a price for everything, I guess.

And that was most of my holiday weekend. How was yours? I’m writing this a few hours before leaving for a backyard barbecue. I was kind of thinking I’d see “Magic Mike XXL” today, but give it a few more days and another all-day rain will roll in, and that’ll be much better weather for it. Barbecue while you can, because you can’t do that via Netflix.

Not much bloggage today, but there’s this:

BASTROP, Texas — The office of the Bastrop County Republican Party is in an old lumber mill on Main Street, with peeling brown paint and a sign out front that captures the party’s feelings about the Obama administration: “WISE UP AMERICA!”

Inside, county Chairman Albert Ellison pulled out a yellow legal pad on which he had written page after page of reasons why many Texans distrust President Obama, including the fact that, “in the minds of some, he was raised by communists and mentored by terrorists.”

So it should come as no surprise, Ellison said, that as the U.S. military prepares to launch one of the largest training exercises in history later this month, many Bastrop residents might suspect a secret Obama plot to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law in one of America’s proudly free conservative states.

I wouldn’t live in Texas for all the money in the world.

Also this, Neil Sternberg’s valedictory for the open-outcry system at the Chicago Board of Trade, which I’m glad I got to see before it went away, because it was something to see.

And finally this, Frank Bruni’s backhand to the Kennedy spawn spreading vaccine alarmism:

If you had told me a while back that I’d someday dread, dodge and elect not to return phone calls from a prominent member of the Kennedy dynasty, I would have said you were nuts.

Then Robert Kennedy Jr. started reaching out.

Not just reaching out, mind you, but volunteering to educate me. To illuminate me. That was his tone of voice, somewhat pitying and vaguely patronizing, the one time we talked at length, after he’d left messages and before he left more.

Midsummer starts now.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 40 Comments

Wonder woman.

Well, here’s a headline you don’t see every day: Woman gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire in Northern California.

And yes, it’s exactly as delightful as you’d wish, although I’ll admit that the situation it describes couldn’t have been pleasant to endure. Still:

The bees wanted the placenta, she said with a chuckle.

Sort of gives new meaning to the phrase “mother and baby are doing fine.” They are, it’s just…it took some doing.

So, how was your day? Mine was eh. Half a day in Ann Arbor, lunch at a coney island, which is always restaurant choice No. 58 on a list of 60. (Nos. 59 and 60? Buffalo Wild Wings and Hardee’s.) But it was a group, and I was outvoted. I wanted bibimbap from the Korean place two doors down, but it was closed. I’m a late convert to bibimbap, and I’m glad I lived long enough to discover it, and now I have some catching up to do. Had a gyro, which I immediately regretted, even as I ate every delicious bite. I think gyro meat is one of those protein sources it’s best not to think too hard about. Fortunately, I only have one about once in a blue moon.

It’s been a cool summer so far, so much so that slipping into the heated pool at 6:45 a.m. today was a relief from the morning air. I bought dark goggles for those outdoor backstroke lengths staring up at the sun, but didn’t need them today — overcast. It’s what we do here in Michigan half the year, you’d think we could get a little break in the sunny season, but nooooooo. But I did my damn laps. I’m a fairly terrible swimmer, but my slow, plodding style is better than sleeping another hour. I puffed through a mile last Friday; it took 40 minutes.

I hope that would please the First Lady, who invited a bunch of Girl Scouts to have a campout on the White House lawn last night as part of the Let’s Move program. It looks like it went well:

Did I ever tell you my best camping story? Probably. I’ll tell it again: On Alan’s and my first camping trip as a couple, we…well, we overpacked. But hey, no problem — we were car camping, so it’s just a matter of squeezing it all in. We went up to the Au Sable River over Memorial Day weekend, and it was crowded in the National Forest campground, but we took an extra day off at the end of the weekend, and by Monday night, it was as quiet and peaceful as you want the forest to be — no canoes on the river, no rednecks blasting Lynyrd Skynyrd around the campfire, nothing. On Tuesday, we carried all our crap back to the car, which was a distance from the site, around a bend in the path and entirely out of sight of the campsite and the river. As I picked up the cooler on the final trip, there were but two beers left, still cold in the melting ice. I took them out and put them on the picnic table and said, “Let’s load this stuff, come back, drink these last two Budweisers and hit the road.” Alan said it sounded like a plan, and we humped the last load to the car.

When we came back three minutes later, there were two wet rings where the beers had been. I looked up and down the river. Nothing. I looked up and down the path running alongside the river. Nothing. I listened for any sound other than the wind in the trees. Nothing. Someone must have come along, seen two ice-cold beers sitting on a picnic table with no one else in sight, looked up at the sky, whispered “thank you, God” and made off with them.

I hope, somewhere in Michigan that weekend, someone told a different version of that story.

OK, so the bloggage, then:

I hope Caitlyn Jenner is happy with how she looks now, but man, those are some positively Seinfeldian man-hands, and I agree with Tom & Lorenzo — she should go up a size.

Roy takes on the First Things (“Opus Dei stroke book”) symposium on same-sex marriage with a lot more humor and insight than I ever could muster.

Wednesday already? How the hell did that happen?

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

Time runs in one direction.

Before the rainbows fade or are pushed aside by the next news event coming down the pike, I have to spare a moment more for the people who are so unhinged by the SSM decision. I always ask, what do they want? And every so often one will answer, in so many words: For homosexuals (because it’s always “homosexuals,” never “gay” or “LGBT”) to just go away. Back into the closets, the bars, the bearded marriages, the three-martini cocktail hours and all the rest of it.

How can they not see it? The world never runs that way. Well, let them yearn.

All-lite bloggage today, because why not:

I’ve said before that Reductress is the Onion of women’s magazines, and here you go: This beautiful destination wedding really inconvenienced everyone.

Guests were told to come “dressed to impress,” looking sleek and sharp in their black tie attire at the base of the mountain, though many became noticeably fatigued and regretful of their footwear choices as they hiked up to the ceremony site.

“I shouldn’t be doing this at my age,” said the groom’s grandmother at the beginning of the ascent. “I’ll be lucky if I don’t collapse a lung.” She did, in fact, collapse both lungs.

“We miss her dearly,” says the groom now, looking at a framed picture of his grandmother. “But she died doing what she loved: watching me get married.”

One of the trainers at my gym got married at a five-star resort in the Dominican Republic. I’m sure it was a lovely ceremony.

Hey, e’ry body, watch this: The first fireworks casualty of the season. (OK, so not lite, but funny in a newspaper-y sort of way.

Martin Scorsese talks about “The Third Man,” one of my favorite movies.

Another damn basement hog in Detroit! (OK, Highland Park. Practically Detroit.) Three makes a trend, so I’m waiting.

Posted at 12:07 am in Current events | 35 Comments