Blustery day, eh?

I can feel the wind coming in gusts that seem to have lost at least some of their earlier fury, but we’re by no means done with this bluster yet. And with a computer that no longer has a functional battery, it seems I better get moving on this thing unless I want to be

::zzt. blink::

Kidding. We’re now at 20K without power in southeast Michigan, and we could easily be the next. Alan already pushed a limb off a line in the back yard, and the big oak back there had a bad year. For now? Soldier on!

I’m looking forward to the week, the last of the month and — I devoutly hope — a fairly quiet one. I spent much of last week house/dogsitting for vacationing friends, and I’m happy to be back in my own bed, where there are only three pillows — one for the two heads that lay there, and one for me to hug, because I’m a pillow-hugger and have been for years.

By contrast, the bed in my friend’s house — king-sized, excellent firm mattress and otherwise a very nice place to sleep — has 10 pillows. Ten! I counted them. There’s a base layer of three, three more on top of that, another three, and then a smaller decorative one that sits in front of the whole crew, like a drum major.

“I’m the pillow queen,” my friend said when I mentioned this. We were in the company of other affluent women of the same demographic, and I learned that over-pillowing is definitely a Thing among them. I knew it was with hotels; whenever we stay in one, Alan bats them away like a peevish bear, growling too many fuckin’ pillows. I select my hugger from the pile on the floor, and we go to bed.

I wonder if over-pillowing is a way to build a bulwark against your spouse, even in a loving relationship. Even in a big bed, some people will always claim your part of it, but it’s way harder to do when there’s a dyke of pillows keeping you in your lane, so to speak.

I really don’t know. But three suits our queen-size just fine.

And with that, I need to go start a pot of chili. Back in a minute.

I’m back! Yes, that was fast. I’ve found that chili goes better in our house if I handle the initial meat-browning, onion-chopping, can-opening assembly chores, etc., and then leave the seasoning to Alan, who, like many men, has complicated opinions on various chili seasonings that I do not share.

So, anyway. Been thinking about the Robert Kraft case this weekend, and what I said earlier about trafficking stories. If the facts the police have presented so far hold up, this is about as clear-cut a case as you could find — young women from another country compelled to sexually service an endless line of men. I was struck by the detail that did them in: A health inspector noted suitcases and bedding, an unusual amount of food for a workplace that its employees would leave behind at the end of the day.

It so happens that was one thing that a trafficking expert — a real trafficking expert, not the self-elevated ones you hear so much from these days — said should be a tipoff when I wrote about this subject a while back. She mentioned it in the context of nail salons, not storefront rub parlors, but one thing you learn when you start investigating human trafficking is this: For many people, even advocates, all they want to talk about is sex trafficking, mainly because that’s what the media, especially the electronic media, talks about. But labor trafficking is very real, too. It’s much harder to illustrate during a sweeps-month “investigation.” You can’t use shadowy silhouettes of a young woman leaning into a car, or perhaps weeping into her hands while rolls of money pile up on the bed behind her.

That’s one reason I regard so much of this issue with suspicion. So little data, so much tape over mouths. Cheesy titillation rubs me the wrong way.

Human trafficking has only been part of UCR data — that’s Uniform Crime Reporting, for your civilians — since 2013. We are still groping in the dark toward a fuller understanding of it.

As for why a billionaire would patronize a storefront rub parlor in Florida, when he could presumably order up a Miss America runner-up in a thong to come directly to his hotel suite? You’d have to ask him. But it’s been my experience that the richer a man is, the more likely he is to be cheap in truly cringeworthy ways:

In the case of the Orchids of Asia parlor in Jupiter, where services were listed for $59 for half an hour or $79 for an hour, an arrest affidavit for the women managing the spa detailed a similar investigative approach. Police watched men going into the spa for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.

OK, a little bloggage:

My friends had a copy of Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming,” in the house, and I read a little of it. It was pretty great and amazingly well-written. No ghost is credited, and Obama does acknowledge collaborators, so I can’t say how much of it is her own prose style. But it’s a much more pleasant read than I expected. Neil Steinberg agrees:

“Becoming” is perfect for our perilous national moment, reminding us of when our country had a thoughtful, decent man as president. Donald Trump emerges like a monster in a horror movie, glimpsed first in flashes far off, then rearing up behind us. Obama casts him as the latest in a line of bullies she’s battled.

“Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people,” she writes.

Have you ever heard it put so well?

Speaking of reading books, this was a sobering read. I think I’m going to take a certain amount of it to heart. I still love Twitter, like/loathe aspects of Facebook and enjoy being up on things, but I really need to get a handle on my book reading again. It starts with breaking up with one’s phone, or at least renegotiating the terms of the relationship.

We’re having wind downstate, but upstate — as in, northern Michigan and the UP — they’re having a goddamn blizzard. The photos piling up in my social media feeds are one reason I can’t quite quit Twitter just yet.

Have a good week, all.

Posted at 5:29 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 86 Comments

Pants, afire.

For the record, I doubted the Jussie Smollett story from the beginning. I didn’t say so at the time, so you can take that with however much salt you need, but I don’t talk about every thought that pops into my head, even if it seems that way.

I doubted the Rolling Stone rape-on-campus story in 2014, too. Actually, I didn’t believe a word of it.

There was a lawsuit filed in the Larry Nassar case a few months ago, regrettably described as a “bombshell” in the news at the time. A woman claimed that as a young athlete at MSU years ago, Nassar drugged her, raped her, taped the assault (with a cameraman), and this evidence was somehow ignored by the athletic director, who confiscated the tape and made everything go away, even though she got pregnant, later miscarried and got HPV in the bargain. I doubted it as soon as I heard the details. Not sure what the status is now, but an AG’s investigation found “no credible evidence” of any of its claims, so if it hasn’t gone away yet, I expect it will soon.

I offer this not to brag that my bullshit detector is better than anyone else’s, only that I have one. You have one, too, and should use it. I wish more people would. But if you’re wondering what it is about these cases that made me doubt them, well, here we go:

All three rely on what you might call the Too Much Evil plot line or perhaps what I call And Syndrome. In the Smollett case, we were expected to believe that a couple of MAGA chuds were out roaming Chicago with bleach and a rope/noose, looking for someone to attack. Which allegedly went like this:

According to TMZ, the attack happened at around 2 a.m. when Smollett went out to get a sandwich, after which someone yelled, “Aren’t you that f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****?” The outlet reports that the the two offenders — who allegedly are white and wore ski masks — beat Smollett badly enough to fracture a rib, then tied a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him.

“This is MAGA country,” TMZ reports the offenders yelled as they fled after the assault.

So first they yell, then they beat him up, then they pour bleach on him, and then they wrap a rope around his neck, yelling “this is MAGA country” as they run off. Any one of these things would be terrible to have happen to you, but pile them up, and it’s national news.

In the Rolling Stone rape case, we were asked to believe that first “Jackie” was given a spiked drink, then pushed into a room at a frat party, then thrown onto a glass-topped coffee table, which shattered underneath her. Upon this bed of broken glass, she said, she was raped by no fewer than seven men, while two others watched and commented. After which, she somehow managed to get dressed again and found her way outside, where she told some friends what had happened, and asked for help. Imagine what a woman who’s just undergone this punishment must have looked like — her back must have resembled hamburger. I’m surprised she could walk. But her friends — her friends, mind you — say nah, they won’t help because then they might not get into the frats they were rushing.

The Nassar story details I already mentioned. Nassar would have been a medical student at the time, but the AD supposedly took ownership of a videotape depicting a violent rape and…let the med student remain in his job, and later take even bigger ones at the same university.

So. In the first case we have two dudes walking around Chicago — not Birmingham or Salt Lake City or Fargo — carrying bleach and a rope to clear fags from “MAGA country.” And they’re wearing ski masks. In the Rolling Stone story, it’s a drugged drink and broken glass and seven guys and horrible friends. At MSU, it’s a raping med student (all of whose sexual assaults, we now know, were variations on sticking fingers into vaginas and anuses, with masturbation in one case) and a video and a cameraman and a pregnancy and HPV and an evil AD.

And Syndrome.

Smollett’s case would have been more believable if he’d been out that night and admitted to running across his attacker somehow, finding him cute, maybe flirting with him, maybe touching him, which caused the man to flip out and retaliate with violence. Jackie’s rape would have been more believable without the broken glass and two men, instead of seven. The MSU athlete? At least pick the same M.O. Nassar used in every other assault.

But all of these would have been less dramatic, and/or made the victim less sympathetic. If Smollett said he came on to a guy who beat him up, lots of people would think it was his fault. Rolling Stone Jackie somehow needed that horror-movie scenario — seven guys so crazed by lust and violence that they didn’t notice they were kneeling on broken glass — to buffalo a reporter who should have known better. I don’t know about the MSU student, but I would not be surprised to hear that she is not a stranger to mental illness.

I’ve never been a full-time police reporter, but in years in newsrooms, I’ve been amazed at the randomness and weirdness of the crime that appears in the police reports. It so rarely follows the scripts we see on TV. A woman cuts off a man in traffic, he fires a gun into her car, killing a child in the back seat. (This happened in Detroit recently.) Fistfights tend to end after one or maybe two punches, with one guy yelling OW MY NOSE and the other OW MY HAND. The people who throw chemicals, or hot water, on others? Often women, maybe because they know where the bleach is (laundry) and because they’re not as strong as men. And even terrible people have enough self-awareness to know that a gang rape of a young woman at an elite university is not a good idea, and would at least leave the room, rather than watch and participate.

I’ve been lied to, and fallen for lies. My BS detector is certainly not perfect. I want to believe people are basically honest and tell the truth. But many are not, and we should apply simple skepticism, or at least hold our fire until more is revealed. Because more almost always is. \

OK, then! Weekend wrapped. We had surprise Saturday houseguests — Alex and his partner Harry, who came north on the spur of the moment to eat chicken paprikash at a divey little bar under I-75. We ended up at D’Mongo’s, drank too much and sent them off to Ikea to shop for storage solutions. Me, I had a lazy day today, and I regret not a moment of it.

Now it’s snowing. At this time of year, it seems it will snow forever.

Posted at 8:10 pm in Current events | 46 Comments

Sick, sick, sick.

In my bottomless masochism, I subscribed to Will Sommer’s Right Richter newsletter. It’s not the reading that’s difficult; Sommer covers the nutso right for the Daily Beast, and man. Man. It’s hard to believe this isn’t just pro wrestling.

The newsletter is free, and if you follow the link above you can get it, too. I’m going to quote more liberally from the latest issue this week than I generally do, just so you can get the gist here:

Two of the internet’s greatest galaxy brains are at war.

On one side: InfoWars chief Alex Jones, who’s been scrambling to get headlines after getting booted off of nearly every social media platform.

On the other: Joe Rogan, the mixed-martial arts commentator, hallucinogen enthusiast, and bro god who doubles as the gatekeeper to the quasi-conservative, quasi-mystical Intellectual Dark Web.

Jones and Rogan used to be pals. The InfoWars chief was on Rogan’s mega-popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, less than two years ago, racking up millions of views for his one-time chum.

But now, Jones will only describe Rogan as a pig he’s going to gut.

“Joe Rogan, metaphysically, is a Christmas hog,” Jones said Wednesday. “And I’m going to politically haul him up by his back legs and slit his throat. His blood will fill buckets — politically, not violently.”

The beef between the two started at least last summer, when Jones, beset by social media bans and lawsuits over his conspiracy theories, watched his influence start to wane. But the feud has turned red-hot after Rogan interviewed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — and failed, in Jones’s view, to press Dorsey enough on why InfoWars was banned from Twitter.

Enraged, Jones has “declared war” on Rogan, claiming that he’s working for the CIA and George Soros. In his response video, Rogan said he’s just too busy to be a CIA asset.

Jones insisted that Rogan promoted Bitcoin to his audience as part of a scheme to make himself and Dorsey rich off the backs of his “sucker plantation” audience. Naturally, Jones doesn’t mention that InfoWars, too, went wild for Bitcoin in 2017.

Even Rogan’s enthusiasm for the hallucinogen DMT has come into play, with Jones claiming that Rogan is using the drug to mind-control his fans.

It’s tempting to say that of course this is pro wrestling. Because no one could be crazy enough to believe this. But then you wander…well, take a Facebook profile I found myself marveling over the other day, one I’d found while following a comment back from a right-wing deplorable in northern Michigan. I learned that this person, a woman who also lives up there, is convinced she is being poisoned by, among other things, vaccines, fluoridation, chemtrails and 5G internet radiation. She lives remotely because that’s the only way she can feel safe.

Imagine a mind like that, hearing Alex Jones tell you Joe Rogan is using DMT to control his fans. You’d scoff, I’d scoff, but someone who thinks the internet is giving her cancer? Please, Mr. Jones, tell me more. The other day I was thinking about quackery, for some reason, remembering, yet again, the fabulous Flo Ripley, my high-school health teacher, who taught us about chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, how they differed from the traditional sort (at least as practiced in this country), other topics related to how medical con men work, and how we might know when we were being bullshitted. And then the laetrile story broke big — I think Steve McQueen traveled to Mexico to get this cancer cure that Big Pharma wanted to keep from the people, but spoiler alert, he died of cancer anyway. I read these stories at 16, 17 years old and said, Why, this sounds like bullshit. As I recall, Coretta Scott King did the same thing, although I don’t know whether she was after laetrile. Steve Jobs tried to treat his own cancer with “nutrition” and all that.

All dead. And now we have Goop, vaccine “hesitancy” listed as a public-health threat, fluoridation panics and myriad other ignorance afoot in the land, aided and abetted by the internet. And Alex Jones, of course.

So this is going to be it for me for a few days. We’re packing our bags for a long weekend away, Alan burning auto-show comp time and me? I just need some time away. Of course I am still sick. I went to see my doctor and begged for a Z-pack, because I was sure all this crud had migrated to my ears and become a bacterial infection.

His cold-hearted reply: “It’s viral. I had it. My wife had it, everyone has it. Antibiotics won’t do any good and might give you diarrhea.”

So on I go. In week three now. Maybe I’ll spread this to the whole world before I stop coughing.

Posted at 6:29 pm in Current events, Popculch | 132 Comments

Slow down, short month.

Oy, what a week. Can February be a little less ridiculous, please? I hope so, anyway. An extraordinarily busy week ended it all, complicated by the cold.

How did it go? The Henry Ford story went viral and provoked a boneheaded response by the city administration, which culminated in a story in the New York Times, but they included a link back to Deadline Detroit, so hey — win-win.

A former owner of one of Detroit’s two most-beloved coney islands died, so that was a quick-turn obit. Then the deep, deep cold settled in for a two-day stay, and my friend Dustin got CO poisoning from the furnace in his apartment. So we had an emergency houseguest Thursday night. (That’s why no blog Friday.) And on Friday night I helped host a fundraiser with about 200 people, for a 501(c)3 I’m involved with. It was a big success, but with this cold — my cold, not the free-floating cold, although it was pretty nippy that night, too — still hanging around, I was croaking like …something that croaks by Saturday morning, which required a bloody-mary debrief on how the night went.

We stayed in Saturday night. For which I am grateful.

The fundraiser was at a local yacht club. Here’s the last picture I took from the back deck before the guests arrived. You get a sense of the temperature, I expect:

But now it is Sunday, and a relatively normal week lies ahead, which will end with a long-weekend getaway for the Derringers, sorely needed. I hope the news behaves itself.

Random notes: Watched “BlackkKlansman” Saturday night, and hated it. Hated hated HATED it. It was vintage Spike Lee: Heavy-handed, too long, scenes that go on and on and on, the whole nine. Did it have its pleasures? Sure: Denzel’s son John David Washington is fine, and Adam Driver is always worth your time. One of the too-long scenes was a dance montage to Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose’s “Too Late to Turn Back Now,” so at least the music was good. But by the time the fourth or fifth white racist said something like, “One of these days we’ll elect a president who thinks like we do” or “America needs to be great again,” I’d had enough. I turned it off with 15 minutes left. It still took two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

I can’t tell whether Spike Lee beats his audience with a Message Stick because he doesn’t trust us to get it, or if he just hates us. I’m going with the latter.

Is there a surge in human trafficking at the Super Bowl, as we hear over and over and over at this time of year? In a word? No.

As for Ralph Northam, I have nothing to say. I checked Twitter during a bathroom break Friday night, when the story was breaking, and thought: I have no more room in my brain, sorry. But for now? I’ll just say that Pam Northam now joins the unhappy ranks of Wives Who Stand in the Background While Their Husbands Self-Immolate.

Also, medical schools have yearbooks? Why?

OK, then. The week awaits, but before that, the Super Bowl. Go Rams.

Posted at 5:57 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments

Beware the ice dragon.

Because this is the news of the hour, the temperature as I write this is -6. And my cold has settled in my chest, so I am hacking like a tubercular hobo. At times like this, I just need to relax and remind myself: By Saturday, it’ll be above freezing; by Sunday, it’ll be in the 40s. And by then, I hope to be on the road to recovery. It’s Wednesday. That’s only half a week away.

What’s the saying about parenthood? The days are long, the years are short. At times like this, it’s the hours that are long. The days will fly.

(I can’t think too hard about that stuff, either. It just reminds me that someday I’m going to die, and I haven’t seen Moscow or St. Petersburg yet.)

Hope all of you are OK. I’m actually feeling a little better, now that I’ve eaten something healthy (spinach-mushroom frittata, avocado toast) and am on my second cup of coffee. I can work at home, and I intend to. Because I’m not sure my car would even start.

I have to say, it’s a good week to be sick, because I’ve been able to read all about Howard Schultz. I love it when a heckler can get this specific:

But otherwise? What a maroon. It really points out how much CEOs and others at that rare-air level surround themselves with butt-kissers. And it seems so…logical for one of these guys to know that, and work hard to find people who will tell them the truth. That just seems like good business; who wants liars and flatterers around them all the time?

Don’t answer that. We all know.

This turned up late in the last post’s comments, and I wanted to pass it along: That Trump’s ideas about duct-taped women, prayer rugs in the desert and smuggler supercars all can be found in a cheesy movie that came out last year — “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” Rachel Maddow did a whole bit about this, but Stephen Colbert did, too, and his features jokes about Howard Schultz, so that’s the one I’m linking to.

And with that, I must turn my efforts toward making my living. Stay warm if you’re in a cold place, cool if not. And send decongestant thoughts my way, OK?

Posted at 10:06 am in Current events | 81 Comments

Still hacking.

I noticed Deplorable America objected to the way Roger Stone was arrested — dark and early Friday morning, with the usual phalanx of big dudes with guns. Shameful! and so on. Why, he’s an old man.

As though, if the target were Hillary Clinton, they wouldn’t settle for less than a flash-bang fired directly into her bedroom at 2 a.m., then one of those battering-ram vehicles flattening the front door.

Anyway, that was good Friday news. A friend of mine said her husband woke her up with the news. “Honey, good morning. Roger Stone was just arrested.” Not a bad way to start the day.

If you’re of delicate constitution, I don’t recommend googling “‘Roger Stone’ + swinging + 2006,” lest you turn up the text of a couple of his personal ads that will make you somewhat nauseous. It seems ol’ Roger is an enthusiastic cuckold, which is kind of funny, all things considered.

Of course, by the time this lot is driven from office, we’re going to learn a lot more. That Stone is a p.o.s. is widely known, of course. Widely, widely known:

There were two ways Roger Stone’s morning arrest could have played out.

The first scenario is the one Roger rehearsed in his mind a hundred times; his attorney would have been notified well in advance, giving America’s number one parody cartoon supervillain time to assemble some typically foppish confection: perhaps a purple morning coat, spats, hand-tooled lemur-skin calf boots, a jaunty top hat, a monocle, and an exotic cravat tied in a knot typically used only in vigorous German fesselspiele games. He would stride toward the waiting federales with a louche swagger, his bejeweled walking stick in hand. He would smile for the assembled cameras and toss off some bon mot that communicated both searing contempt and breezy insouciance.

Instead, a second, real-world scenario obtained. A frowzy, shocked Roger Stone woke to the sound of “FBI, WARRANT! OPEN THE DOOR!” in the predawn hours. The FBI may not be getting paid, but that didn’t stop them from rolling hard on Stone’s lair, arresting him, and booking him into the Broward County jail. Stern but polite FBI agents arrested Stone on seven counts of lying to Congress and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

So now it’s Sunday. I’m still sick. We had about three inches of snow overnight, and will get five more tomorrow, followed by the worst cold of the season. And I’m coughing about every 45 seconds, so you can imagine how much I’m into this right now. So let’s go to bloggage, and hope I feel better in a day or two.

Let’s look at this story: Why does the president keep talking about women and duct tape on the border?

There have been no credible reports of women being duct taped there, but…

Nevertheless, there was Trump on Jan. 4, dramatizing the traffickers who “have three or four women with tape on their mouths and tied up, sitting in the back of a van or car.” There he was on Jan. 6: “They nab women, they grab them, they put tape over their mouths.” On Jan. 11: “Taping them up, wrapping tape around their mouths so they can’t shout or scream, tying their hands behind their back and even their legs.”

Sometimes the tape is explicitly duct tape, sometimes it’s electrical. Sometimes it has a specific color, as it did on Jan. 10: “Usually blue tape, as they call it. It’s powerful stuff. Not good.”

It’s hard not to be disturbed by the explicitness; one assumes disturbing explicitness is the point. Trump could have merely said the journey was dangerous for migrant women.

It’s a fantasy of his, I can only assume. And as he has no filter between his id and his mouth, we all get to share it with him.

Maggie Haberman got her hands on an advance copy of Chris Christie’s book:

President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, believed that the “Russia thing” would end as a side effect from the firing of the national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, in the early days of the administration, according to an account in a new memoir by Chris Christie.

The incident recounted in Mr. Christie’s book, “Let Me Finish,” is among the anecdotes describing how the president and Mr. Kushner grappled with a campaign and a presidency that Mr. Christie says neither was prepared for.

Back to bed.

Posted at 9:01 pm in Current events | 48 Comments

The edge of NyQuil.

Excuses, excuses. Insert your favorite here, as all are true: I’ve been busy I’ve been tired I’ve been listless it’s been cold it’s going to be colder and now? NOW? I’m getting sick. Just a cold, but I don’t get them often, so it feels like ebola.

Also, I’m the self-pitying sort. But you all know that.

But people? Any day you can wake up to the news of Roger Stone’s indictment is a pretty good day.

I’m disappointed in the CNN-exclusive video, however. I wanted to see him frog-marched out in his Hugh Hefner smoking jacket and bunny slippers, but I guess you take what you get.

I’m going to suck down some Dayquil and prepare for the day. A longer read today, for the weekend:

My friend Bill, retired but a storyteller to the bone, crafts a great one in the course of retirement-editing the Dearborn Historian, a quarterly published by the city of Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit. Locals and the better-informed may know it as the home of Ford Motor Co., and the longtime home of its founder, Henry Ford. People who know their history know Ford was an anti-Semite, as well, a common prejudice for his time.

Anyway, 2019 is the 100-year anniversary of Ford’s purchase of the Dearborn Independent, a failing weekly newspaper, which he then transformed into an amplifier of his beliefs. This passage, early on, amazed me:

In 1931, two years before he became the German chancellor, Adolf Hitler gave an interview to a Detroit News reporter in his Munich office, which featured a large portrait of Ford over the desk of the future führer. The reporter asked about the photo.

“I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” Hitler told the News.

What makes this relevant today is this wrinkle: Ford and his confederates published the Independent’s contents in three books, known collectively as “The International Jew.” And they did so without copyright, so anyone could republish them. And they did, and do, to this day. Ford’s name and ideas (which he almost certainly didn’t write himself) turn up time and again on white-nationalist websites like Stormfront, and “The International Jew” is still in print and available for purchase via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al.

It’s a good read, on the longer side but not that bad. Take you half an hour, tops.

Oh, and one more by me, after I attended a press conference featuring John Sinclair, a Detroit radical from back in the day. Was going for a certain Talk of the Town voice here; don’t know if I succeeded.

On to the Dayquil. Fortunately, I have this to read and chortle over:

Republican senators clashed with one another and confronted Vice President Pence inside a private luncheon on Thursday, as anger hit a boiling point over the longest government shutdown in history.

“This is your fault,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange.

“Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?” McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch.

And this. OK, gotta scoot. Good weekends, all.

Posted at 8:50 am in Current events, Detroit life | 49 Comments

What day is it?

I wrote this on Wednesday:

Ah, the midweek. I worked the super-early shift on Wednesday this week, because the person who usually does it texted me at noon and confessed she’d just had a 16-oz cappuccino, and knew a normal bedtime would be impossible. If only I could be that in touch with my own body. Insomnia stalks me like Jack the Ripper, sneaking out of the fog and laying me low for no good reason.

Like last night. Awake at 3:30 a.m., never really got back to sleep. No worries. I feel fine.

But now I’ve been staring at this screen, with a few breaks for this and that, for 14 hours. I’m knackered, I tell you.

And after I did, I thought, shit, I really have absolutely nothing to say, closed the laptop and watched an episode of “Killing Eve.” And now I have to say this: “Killing Eve” is a very good show, and Sandra Oh is just a revelation in it.

That concludes what I have to say about it, and pretty much everything else.

OK, not really. It’s been a busy news week for our household. Alan’s had the auto show, which stretches across the weekend before and into tonight, when we’ll get dressed in what’s inevitably described as “finery” and go to the Charity Preview. Yeah, I got a new dress this year. Sue me. I like nice dresses.

And then things will settle down. At least, I hope so. In the meantime, I’m giving you guys a new thread, with some new material. Which includes…

Oh god, there’s so much, I can’t even get close to it. I started writing this when the fast-food banquet was news! That seems like it happened six months ago.

Certainly, this list — Donald Trump’s 50 Most Unthinkable Moments, published a couple days ago, needs to be updated.

Then there’s this bombshell, and it’s a real bombshell, assuming it’s true. Suborning perjury. Boom.

So why not relax with this photo gallery — thanks, Ann Fisher — taken by a WPA photographer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan after the lumber boom was over. It documents the extreme hardscrabble of life in “the cut-over,” i.e., the land where every tree had been felled and sent to the mills, which is to say, pretty much every goddamn acre of Michigan. Some amazing pix of some amazing faces.

Me, I’m outta here. Auto show photo gallery coming, eventually.

Posted at 9:38 am in Current events | 39 Comments

Here for the avocados.

Interesting discussion of Used-To-Be-ism, aka Rose-Colored Glasses Syndrome, in the comments the other day. It coincided with something I’ve been trying to do lately, in the current chaos: Notice, actively noting things that are better today than they were in the past.

It’s a way to stay sane, to take the long view, to remember all that arc-of-history stuff. The bright side is hard to find these days; the least we can do is notice…

Kinder, nicer young people. I’ve never gotten all the lazy-ass derision aimed at millennials. They’re fine people, and I don’t say that because I raised one. I say that because it’s true, and they got it, in large part, from the greater culture, and who knows how that happened? Preschool teachers + an admirable president + something in the air? I can’t say. All I know is, they’re fine. I don’t worry about them.

It’s easier to be different. Let wingnuts laugh at trans people and wring their hands about silly things like nonbinary people who want to be referred to by plural pronouns. Just let them. This will settle out with time. In the meantime, and at the end of it, it’ll be a little easier to be something other than, what’s the word? Basic.

Entertainment of all kinds? So plentiful. You can basically spend all day watching Netflix or listening to all the recorded music in the world. Avoid this behavior, however.

Food systems. Midwesterners: How old were you when you saw your first avocado? Yeah, I thought so. Produce used to be lettuce, onions, pink tomatoes and potatoes. No different kinds of potatoes, just potatoes. In the last months I’ve bought fennel, three kinds of citrus, fresh greens of all kinds…I can’t total it all up. And yes, avocados. Which are in season, and so cheap.

Better…things. One of my bosses, who as a young man seemingly held every low-level job in creation, revealed the other day he used to drive a route for a linen supply house. One of the things he delivered was those cloth towels on rolls, that you used to dry your hands in public restrooms. You know, the kind you pulled down from a box on the wall? The used part was allegedly taken up by the box at the other end of the loop, but it rarely did, and you mostly ended up using the same damp section everyone else used. Well, today I used a restroom, and waved my hand in front of an electric eye, which dispensed a perfectly sized portion of paper towel. Yes, I am speaking of the Miracle of the Paper Towel.

In other words, we’ve ruined the planet, but at least we have 69-cent avocados, pink grapefruit and paper towels. I’m watching a terrible movie from 1972 on my flat-screen TV, which features naked witches with big boobs. LIFE IS GOOD, DAMMIT.

And as Alex pointed out, throwing your mattress away along the side of the road is terribly frowned upon.

Things I wish were more frowned upon: A guy in the elevator the other day was doing business on his phone. On speaker. It was a real-estate deal, and he’d offered $4 million, but another bidder was offering $6 million. “I can go to six, if you give me a year,” he told the guy on the other end. “Work with me.” Then they got disconnected. There’s a special place in heck for people like that. I mean, on speaker?

I have really gone off the rails tonight, haven’t I? Must be this witch movie on Amazon. Skip to the bloggage, then.

I’ve never met Tommy Tomlinson, but he’s a Facebook friend, and married to a former co-worker of mine. This is a powerful essay on what it’s like to be obese all your life, an excerpt from a coming memoir.

After the president claimed human traffickers have “bigger, stronger, and faster vehicles than our police have,” I can’t lie: I lusted for a Mexican rocket car.

The president came south today, and came dressed for battle. Robin Givhan explains.

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 9:15 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments

Not watching either.

Nope, I’ll be reading a book.

Open thread. I got nothing, alas. Let’s talk about what happens tonight.

Posted at 8:15 pm in Current events | 48 Comments