V-Day.

It’s Vax Day in Michigan.

The first of the Pfizer vaccines rolled out of the company’s facility in Kalamazoo early this morning, and you know what happened? People — not just reporters, but regular folks — lined up outside to applaud. At 5 a.m. All day on Twitter I could see videos of the trucks making this turn, making that turn. Pulling into the Lansing airport now! Plane is taking off! Here is the plane flying Covid salvation, climbing into the sky!

And how does every one of these tweets end? #PureMichigan, that’s how.

Well, that’s OK, I guess. It’s better to be proud of your state than embarrassed, and we’ve certainly shown our ass to the world plenty in recent days.

And who will be among the first to be vaccinated? The people who denied the virus, refused to wear masks, and then, when they got sick, got line-jumping, top-of-the-line health care, that’s who. These motherfuckers.

Still, let’s not be too impatient. The vaccine is coming. I saw it rolling out of Kalamazoo just this morning.

This was the weekend to…try to relax a bit. The SCOTUS denial came in on Friday night and that was a big load off the ol’ shoulders, but of course the clamoring will go on and on and on for some time. Weeks, months, maybe years? Or maybe it will just peter out. The state’s electors meet tomorrow, of course, and all of them will travel to the Capitol under police escort.

But instead, I took down some beloved books from some long-neglected shelves and just dipped in and out. Jim Harrison’s novellas, some Sinclair Lewis, a little Elmore Leonard. We watched “Let Them All Talk,” the slight new Steven Soderbergh movie on HBO Max. Rewatched “Inglourious Basterds” Friday night because it was Hanukkah, after all. And just tried to unplug.

It’s clear unplugging will be a process that will not happen overnight. These whiny-ass titty babies are going to keep disturbing the peace for a while. But we’re all owed a tune-out from time to time.

Couple fun things to read? Sure: Sidney Powell’s “military intelligence expert”…isn’t. None of that should be surprising.

Good lord, some of these whiners. Tim Alberta’s final “letter to Washington” in Politico.

Hello, Monday.

Posted at 7:08 pm in Current events | 69 Comments
 

Friends of the court, my ass.

God, what a day. Just swamped with work and then, at the end, this motherfucking amicus brief with 17 more states saying, Hey, Michigan, we don’t like who you voted for so we’re just gonna throw it out. OK?

God, I am sick of this shit.

Part of my irritation is due to the reaction feature of iMessage. I was doing a phone interview today, trying to concentrate, and my phone kept ding-ding-dinging with people in a group text I’m in “loving” each other’s fucking messages. Just kill me now.

Not that I wish to display a bad move. But what happened today was one-third of the country trying to disenfranchise voters in four states because they didn’t like the results. Yeah, sure, a coup is cool, no problem.

Why are these people not hounded through the streets, as they should be? All these AGs think they’re clowning for the base and the norms and law will restrain them. How do they know Justice Serena Joy Waterford won’t have a conversation with God that morning and grant cert? They don’t know. We keep dancing close to the cliff’s edge, trusting we won’t fall over, or that it won’t crumble.

This stupid country, I swear.

Couple things worth your time today:

Covid in South Dakota, in the WashPost. Speaking of a stupid country, here’s a nurse dealing with a patient:

Then there were the patients who didn’t even believe the coronavirus was real. That week, a patient in his 40s came in for a physical — he was high-risk and asthmatic — and his gaiter pushed down when she walked into the exam room. He said he couldn’t breathe in it and didn’t believe the whole pandemic thing anyway. People were dying from pneumonia because they were being forced to wear masks, he told her.

“The next thing you’re going to be calling me to come in and take the vaccine, and I’m telling you right now I’m not going to get it,” he told her.

So die, dummy.

Melania’s book may be a coffee-table volume. Figures.

Let’s just get through this, then, eh?

Posted at 9:11 pm in Current events | 28 Comments
 

Crazy ladies.

A wee bit of excitement this weekend, which beb referred to in the comments: Deadline Detroit was the first to break the story of Mellissa C*aron*’s action-packed past. The story broke our servers (several times), too, and the in-house record for traffic – more than 500K uniques. And the gossip from others in the community suggests there is far more out there, but for now I think that’s enough from her.

This transition is seeming like one of those dreams where you’re trying to run, but your feet won’t move. And now Rudy’s got the Bug. Still sucking all the oxygen from the room, these people. It gets hard to breathe.

Maybe Rudy will find it hard to breathe, soon enough. When I think of all the saliva and various other agents spraying from his yap during his time in Michigan, I get…well, I’d get angry, but the GOP-dominated state legislature has had quite its share of cases, too, and they don’t seem to bothered. One who tested positive was asked why he wasn’t quarantined or wearing a mask. He replied that he had no symptoms, so he didn’t need to.

Ah, enough of this. I’m tired of complaining about it, and sick of being made to think about it all the time.

Remember Black Lassie from a few weeks back? Here he is, runnin’ the streets again:

My friend took that with a lens he borrowed from me — a 50mm 1.4 Nikon AI. I always thought it was terribly underrated, and one of my faves.

Also, I discovered Hulu has all seasons of the old “Prime Suspect” — remember that? Helen Mirren at her best? I watched the first season, which was really just two two-hour pieces. Parts of it seem dated now, but it does feature young Ralph Fiennes in a small part, so that was fun. And Tom Wilkinson as a needy househusband.

What else? I drove through Belle Isle in search of the Piet Oudolf Garden. Found it, although there’s not much to see now, obviously. It’s all planted, and spring should be interesting there. I did watch the Polsteam ship Isadora pass down the river:

It’s headed for Montreal. Of course I waited until the stern passed, so I could check out the lifeboat:

If you’ve seen “Captain Phillips,” you know it’s the orange mini-submarine-looking thing pointing down at that ominous angle. I expect by the time it’s released, it would be much closer to the waterline. Amazing to think that the entire crew of that big ol’ ship can fit in there.

OK, then. Time to start the week? It is. Hope yours goes well.

Posted at 7:48 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 77 Comments
 

Which act are we in, anyway?

I see you were chuckling over the Wednesday-night spectacle in Lansing, i.e. day two of the shameful House and Senate Oversight Committees, in which a parade of unsworn, hearsay-spouting paranoiacs tried to persuade the Michigan legislature to throw out the duly conducted and certified election and give the state’s electors to THE REAL WINNER DONALD TRUMP.

The first day was weird enough. The second featured Rudy Giuliani.

My duty at Deadline includes early-morning aggregation shift on Thursdays, i.e. the day we go through stories others have reported, summarize and link them from our own page. Faced with the mess of Wednesday night, I did my best and came up with this. Mellissa C*ron* was the hit of the evening, of course; the internet christened her a “whistledrinker,” but I think she wasn’t drunk on spirits, only on overnight-sensation fameball kind. She was on Lou Dobbs! She was on a million weird internet-based “news channels!” She trended on Twitter! She went viral!

And, I later learned, she too lives in Grosse Pointe Woods. Can’t wait to run into her at Kroger.

Here she is giving some sort of video testimony to some sort of NGO-type group, and honestly, I don’t think she knows what the word “discarded” means. Look deeply into those eyes. It’s kind of scary.

On the other hand, this City of Detroit response to Sidney Powell’s lawsuit is a thing of beauty, the Hammer of Truth ringing on the Anvil of Righteousness:

This is the lawsuit that one-time Trump legal team member Sidney Powell has been promising would be “biblical.” Perhaps, plaintiffs should have consulted with Proverbs 14:5, which teaches that “a faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.”

Few lawsuits breathe more lies than this one. The allegations are little more than fevered rantings of conspiracy theorists built on the work of other conspiracy theorists. Plaintiffs rely on affidavits of so-called “experts”—really confidence men who spread lie after lie under cover of academic credential—which misstate obviously false statistics. These “experts” use academic jargon as if that could transmute their claims from conspiracy theory to legal theory. The key “factual” allegations from the supposed fact witnesses, some of whom attempt to cloak their identities while attacking democracy, have been debunked.

If you’re deep-diving some of the claims made by Team Rudy in this case, you can lap up their point-by-point rebuttals there. It’s very readable.

And so we limp to the end of the week. I’m going to conclude this part of it with some TV. Reading? OK, a little – Monica Hesse on Melania’s last Christmas at the White House, as usual, good stuff:

The fans who love Melania’s Christmas decor — and they are legion, and they are loud — will insist they love it because it’s “elegant”; that Melania has returned “elegance” to the White House.

And maybe this is the disconnect: There are those who feel the White House should be a place of inclusion, a place where you hang up the weird calamari ornament just because Rhode Island made it, and Rhode Island is a part of the country, too. And there are those who feel the White House should be a symbolic showplace, whose inhabitants’ lives are untouched and unbothered by whatever is going on outside of its walls. Melania is not there to welcome you, she is there for you to admire her. When she delivers words, they will be stilted but she will look fantastic doing it.

But there were darker undercurrents to the Melania Christmas debate, too: the defenders of Melania have always insisted on comparing her to her predecessor, Michelle Obama, and it became hard to believe that “elegant” was a code word for anything other than “White.” Melania is “elegant” because she represented a very specific kind of White femininity: silent, lovely, delicately fingering the ornaments that her staff had assembled.

Enjoy your weekend.

Posted at 8:20 pm in Current events | 50 Comments
 

Big day.

I was thinking in the shower today. Don’t we all do our best thinking there? I wish showers could go on for two hours, some days. Anyway, I was thinking mostly about fear.

I live in a suburb, and sometimes I get a chance to write about it, as I did today. The story is about a local lawyer, who is black, and was told his BLM sign was in violation of the local ordinance governing yard signs, and that he’d have to take it down.

One tangent I didn’t include was this: The complaint was signed by a cop, which is standard practice when a neighbor complains and doesn’t want to be known as the complainant. The lawyer said that if one of his neighbors had a problem with the sign and came to him to talk about it, he’d probably have taken it down. But calling cops is chickenshit, and so it was that I thought in the shower about fear.

Fear is the dominant emotion of parenthood, especially when your kids are young. The hospital hands you this tiny, larval little human being, and if you have an ounce of self-awareness at all, you are flooded with terror. For days, you an barely leave them alone in a room without fearing they’ll burst into flames or something. But newborns are easy compared to toddlers, lurching around the house and threatening to smash into coffee-table edges or fall down the stairs or drown in their baby pools the second you turn your head for even a second.

A friend once said that children never grow out of one set of dangers without growing into another. Truer words, etc.

But eventually, you learn to relax a little and if you’re lucky you even get to the point where you understand that what will happen will happen whether you’re there or not, and you can even trust that you’ve done the best you could, so que sera sera.

The fear, however, can become comfortable, like a pair of sweat pants. But comfort =/= a good look, and you can end up wearing them every day because it’s familiar, and change is scary. And so, instead of just asking the perfectly nice man across the street whether he needs to have a huge Black Lives Matter sign and maybe a smaller one, or two smaller ones would be sufficient? You call the goddamn police.

Suburbs are full of people like this. So are cities, for that matter. Maybe that’s why we keep buying guns. In fact, I’m sure that’s why.

Oh, well. Other things of note happened in Michigan today. A truly bonkers committee hearing in Lansing, that wasn’t held for any reason other than to allow a lot of venting about the election. Here’s one straight news account; and here’s a more entertaining Twitter thread. God, these people. Stop indulging them.

One final note, which we’ve known for a while but here we go: Alan is retiring in a month. The buyout offer came as expected, and at 64, he’s decided he’s had enough. I’m in full agreement. Anyway, our financial guy says we have enough money to do this, and so he’s pulling the ripcord. Me, I’ll keep working, but only part time, and at some point I guess I’ll be out of the plane, too. I expect it to feel great.

Posted at 9:51 pm in Current events | 72 Comments
 

Leftovers.

That was a nice break. I needed it, even if it feels like I spent all of it in the kitchen. My back hurts, and I told Alan I need me some carryout for a couple nights this week, or I might just collapse.

Thanksgiving was fine, but I promised two desserts and two sides, which meant: All day in the fucking kitchen. I did sweet potato for the pie and an apple tart, then a green bean thing and a cauliflower thing, and I swear, I only got into the shower in late afternoon. No matter, though — the hostess worked harder and dinner was delicious. My tart would be terrible, I thought; everything went wrong, and it was just so much work for something so slight, and yet, it was a big success, and delicious. Next try I’m doing an ombré variation.

All the cooking left me plenty of time to read the news today, oh boy. This WashPost piece got a lot of attention, deservedly so. I was taken by the full-length photo of Sidney Powell at the notorious RNC presser last week, in which she is wearing what appears to be a leopard-print cardigan with snakeskin boots. It reminded me of an editor I once had, who wore business clothes with strange embellishments — heels encased in gold cages, stuff like that. She said she’d picked it up in Texas, where no one dresses quote-unquote normally. Powell is from Dallas, so it tracks, but it reminded me of…was it Coco Chanel’s advice? Or your mother’s? The bit about getting dressed for the day, putting on all the jewelry you think you need, then taking off one piece.

New rule: You may wear one animal print. Not two. It makes you look crazy, and that you packed very badly.

Anyway, I’m glad my birthday is over and Thanksgiving is over, and the rest of it is just a glide into the holidays. Most of my shopping is done, and all I have to do is wrap and bake, and precious little of that. Man, I am sugared out for a few days. I’ve been thinking of trying soufflé vendome, i.e., a soufflé that’s hiding six poached eggs inside. Maybe in the spring, for Easter? I will think about it.

(Alan: “I don’t like poached eggs.” Me: “You’ll eat it anyway.”)

Every year I consider a buche de Noel. Every year, I think I’d rather stab out my eyes than carve marzipan mushrooms.

Although that’s why the gods gave us the Great British Baking Show, so I’ll watch that. Soon it will be December, the last 1/12th of 2020.

Posted at 8:48 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 73 Comments
 

HB2me.

Hey, er’rybody. Today is my birthday. I’m 63, although I seem to recall from my birth certificate that fact won’t be precisely, scientifically true until around 5 this afternoon. No matter. I’m 63, and I just finished a Zoom boxing class, which is both silly and deeply appreciated. The other morning I was shadowboxing away in my basement and saw police lights flashing through the glass-block window. They’d come to confirm the death of one of my neighbors. I don’t really know these neighbors on anything other than a wave-while-walking-the-dog basis, so I’m not sure what the cause was. She had been sick, I know that much. Ultimately I guess she died of what gets us all: Time’s up.

Another neighbor, who I really don’t know because she doesn’t wave, lost her father to Covid a few weeks back. (How do I know this? How else? Facebook.) So when I say my Zoom class is both silly and appreciated, it’s because it feels dumb to punch at nothing alone in my basement with a trainer telling me to correct my head position, but I’m very glad to be able to do it because: Consider the alternative.

My birthday always falls around Thanksgiving, which meant pumpkin pie for birthday cake in the past and in recent years, considerations like the above.

This has been a hard year, easier for some (which includes us), much worse for many others, devastating for still others. It’s important to be grateful for what you have, to share if you can, to take a moment to consider the alternative. And we have a lot to be thankful for this year, both personal and on the wider stage. We’ve rid the country of Trump is the big one. Obviously, Trumpism will endure, but he’ll no longer be able to command — not just draw, but command — the attention of the world. Many will continue to do so, but it’s like the ending of “A Face in the Crowd.” And yeah, we’ll have his demon spawn to deal with, but their power will be similarly diminished. There’s some punishing chemo to follow, but the biggest tumor has been taken to the incinerator.

There’s a Covid vaccine coming, that’s even better news. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be more than we have now. Life will return to something that resembles normality. We’ll be able to travel again, eat in restaurants again, maybe even hug one another. That’s something.

You have something in your life to be grateful for, some blessing to count. Count it tomorrow. Or today. Your call.

Me, I’m taking the rest of the week off. I’ll wear my birthstone jewelry. And I’ll have a very small Thanksgiving, with two friends who’ve already had Covid and been medically cleared. Alan has to work. We’ll bring him a plate.

If you haven’t had your fill already, here’s the big Politico tick-tock on the Michigan election drama. At least one better-sourced political reporter is pointing out that a couple of bad guys are obvious sources for it, and that the underground river running through it is the split between crazy and non-crazy Michigan Republicans, so be advised.

I now will accept your birthday tributes. The line forms to the left, with appropriate social distancing.

Posted at 8:51 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 81 Comments
 

Exit, sooner. Please.

I’ve been reading, off and on all weekend, about how President Trump intends to spend his post-presidency. Bottom line: He’s still going to be out there whoring for attention, and the attention-whore-chasing media will no doubt point cameras and microphones at him.

Whereas this is what I was thinking: I don’t want to see his hamsteak face or his asshole-shaped mouth, ever again. I don’t want to see his ridiculous hair, nor his sex-worker wife, nor his weird kid, nor his pathetic kid, nor the three O.G. kids – the stupid one, the other stupid one, and Government Barbie. I don’t want to hear his braying voice. I don’t want to hear any of his vocal tics, including “many people are saying” or “it was fantastic” or “no one had ever seen this before” or “they said, ‘Sir, we’re so sorry this happened to you,'” or really anything out of his asshole-shaped mouth again. I don’t want to see his veneers in that ghastly rictus smile. I don’t want to see his bubble butt, his man-boobs, his entourage of hideous men and sex-cyborg women. I don’t want to even see another pair of stiletto heels, maybe ever. Don’t want to see corkscrew-curl hair on women, cheek implants, breast implants, nose jobs or inflated lips, either. I don’t want to see Jared. Later, Ben Carson. Later, Steve Mnuchin, and take blondie with you. Bye, Wilbur Cox, Andrew Giuliani, Betsy DeVos and everyone else in the West Wing, including the mice and the flies.

If I’ve forgotten anyone, consider yourself wished into the cornfield.

As the kids say: I don’t want any of your names in my mouth.

But tomorrow, I am increasingly inclined to believe, the state Board of Canvassers will likely deadlock on certifying the election. The turmoil will go on.

How was your weekend? Mine was OK. Got some more stuff done in the basement. Got the laundry done. Got a few errands run. Watched a mediocre movie (“The Nest”). Threw more crap away. Cleaned the kitchen. Made mushroom risotto. During the stirring, I considered all the things I mentioned in the second paragraph. Watched “America’s Next Top Model” reruns on Netflix for as long as it was tolerable (1.5 episodes), which at least made me think about something other than The Man With the Asshole-Shaped Mouth.

Posted at 8:48 pm in Current events | 106 Comments
 

Still ratf*cking.

I should have written this last night, but I was, like you, preoccupied by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, who took what should have been a routine meeting to discuss the election, and then a unanimous vote to certify it, turned into an hours-long shitshow.

It’s pretty clear what their game is: Yell CHEATERS CHEATERS FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD until they run out the clock. It’s maddening, but this is what the GOP has been reduced to by propaganda and insanity. It’s a really dark time. They’re knocking out an essential support post of democracy, i.e. faith in fair elections. Once lost, it won’t be easily restored.

I wrote a column today, but think I won’t submit it to my editor; it just feels like too much. Should I paste it here instead? OK, here you go:

There is a phrase in politics to describe people who are loyal to the cause, who can be counted on to spread propaganda, parrot party lines and talking points and otherwise yay-team through every election cycle without requiring too much care and feeding: Useful idiots.

Some say the phrase originated with Vladimir Lenin, although that’s unsubstantiated. I thought of it Tuesday night, watching the slow-motion disaster of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers take down my fellow Grosse Pointe Woods resident, Monica Palmer. A mudslide of outrage gathered in the moments following her vote, and that of her fellow Republican on the board, Bill Hartmann, to not certify the county election, as canvassers nearly always do. The vote put the board in deadlock and for a few hours threatened the wrapup of the November election.

Their concern is that nearly three-quarters of Wayne County precincts were “out of balance,” i.e., that the voters recorded did not match the votes cast. The same problem was discovered in the August primary, and they asked Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to do something about it.

Early Tuesday morning, GOP consultant Stu Sandler tweeted disapprovingly that Benson had failed to do so. To continue the mudslide metaphor, this was a rumble from higher up the mountain, in the midst of a drenching rainstorm. If this was a movie, the birds would have all taken off from their perches, and deer and rabbits would have bounded away. Palmer and Hartmann marched on, and when, hours later, they used these imbalances as part of the justification to vote against certification, the debris began to tumble down the mountain.

As most people know, the vote was reversed after a few hours of unrelenting outrage, delivered by Zoom to the board (which could only have made it that much worse). But almost as soon as the first vote was taken, Michigan GOP chair Laura Cox issued a press release she’d obviously had ready to go, suggesting the vote was expected.

It’s hard to know what the play was here. Every element of it seemed to be so ham-fisted, so clueless, so…Trumpian, it’s hard to get your head around. The fact the two GOP board members were white and suburban, the two Dems Black Detroiters. The way Palmer said she’d certify the non-Detroit parts of Wayne County, even though many of those suburban communities had similar problems, but not Detroit. The way Palmer’s husband, Richard Shetler, immediately posted on his own Facebook news of the board’s vote, adding, “Huge win for #realDonaldTrump!” (He has since deleted it.)

All I could think was, Girl, Stu Sandler and Laura Cox loaded you into a cannon and fired you into the sun. Do you see that now?

Because it was Palmer and Hartmann, and not Sandler and Cox, who were singled out for punishment, including at least three outraged op-ed pieces published Wednesday by respected writers, with probably more in the works. The social media was far ruder, and Palmer, who physically resembles something of an ur-Karen, took the worst of it, because women always do. She was repeatedly called a racist, a vote-grabber, a disenfranchiser, one who would strip the hard-won power of the ballot from a city she doesn’t live in, and a racist a few hundred more times, and over what? One-half of one percent of the total votes cast in the city of Detroit, for errors that anyone who has worked an election knows are commonplace and entirely forgivable.

I suspect she’ll learn soon that charges of racism will follow her for a while – weeks, months, maybe years. She’s already facing an ethics complaint in connection with her activism in the Grosse Pointe school board race. Her husband has been rumored for years to have his eye on the mayor’s seat in the Woods. Hard to win votes door-knocking in an increasingly diverse suburb, once your face has been plastered on national newscasts as the smiling white face of attempted Black voter disenfranchisement, and in service to a soundly defeated president, as well.

I asked someone with far more experience in Wayne County politics what his assessment of this debacle was. “Amateurs trying to play in the big leagues,” he sniffed. Lenin, it is said, had his own description.
———–

And that’s it for me today. Let’s hope the week improves, OK?

Posted at 9:08 pm in Current events | 92 Comments
 

Deja vu all over again.

Alan and Kate’s birthday is Monday, but we celebrated Friday. A month ago, when I bought tickets to a safe-as-you-can-probably-make-it indoor show, it seemed like a bet worth making. By Friday, however, with cases soaring, it almost seemed irresponsible, but we went anyway:

The details: A large indoor space, seating broken up into twos and fours, well away from one another. Masks required throughout the show, temperature checks upon entering, etc. It was a Miles Davis tribute, and the show was only 65 minutes long, another safety measure. It felt a little like the Israeli audience in Gulf War I who sat through the orchestral performance in gas masks while the Scud missile warnings screamed outside — part defiance, part foolishness. The two horn players would pull down their masks to play, pull them up when the other players were soloing. Can’t blame ’em.

I wore one of our scarcer KN-95 masks, though — tighter seal, harder to breathe in it, but it felt pretty secure.

And now, as of a couple hours ago, the health department issued a new lockdown order — no more indoor dining, drinking, movie theaters, casinos and…high schools and colleges. For three weeks. The health department had to issue it because the GOP-dominated state supreme court ruled a few weeks ago that the governor no longer had the power. You know what happened right after that? Yep, cases began to climb, steeply.

Has the GOP legislature come up with any alternative, after screaming for months that they needed to be part of the policy solution? Um, no.

So that’s where we are, heading into the holidays. I doubt we’ll see anyone outside the nuclear nugget. How’re you all?

Posted at 6:28 pm in Current events | 70 Comments