Happy new year.

As always, thanks for hanging around here when the postings get a little sparse. As the summer ends, I realize I’ve taken off more days than I intended, and I don’t really have much of an excuse other than: I did it because I could. As the new year — and September is the new year, as far as I’m concerned — I need to do more non-work writing. If only to keep myself off Twitter and whatever is falling apart in the world at the moment.

At this moment, it’s the Florida coast, as an enormous storm comes ever-closer, at a crawling speed, which has of course pushed the leadership of the country into Command Centers, where they’re closely monitoring the hurricane’s progress, in contact with local relief agencies, ready at a moment’s notice to step in to help save lives and mitigate misery, and…

…never mind, he’s tweeting again:

I can’t let any more of this nonsense keep me away from doing the stuff I enjoy — reading and writing.

It was a good weekend. Some pictures? Sure.

This was Saturday, for Shadow Show’s final appearance before next year. That’s because Kate leaves for California tomorrow, and I told her not to get homesick and come running back. Stay. Stay as long as the job and the money holds out, for cryin’ out loud.

In the distance: Sign in Arabic, because Hamtramck, and a pretty good crowd. This AC/DC tribute band (Icey Dicey) wasn’t doing quite as well, but they were just getting started:

I think they were playing “TNT” when I took that. Can’t remember.

And then on Sunday, we had a sendoff for Kate at a friend’s house. We had a hot dog/not dog bar, which was GENIUS (because everybody gets what they want, and all you have to do is set out a bunch of toppings), and I brought a pie and a cherry tart. Wendy got to spend some time with her favorite uncle:

Then we all discussed our funeral playlists and put each other in charge of carrying out our wishes. Yes, beer was involved.

Today it was a long bike ride in beautiful weather, and now I’m getting ready to dip back into “The Sheltering Sky” for the remainder of the afternoon.

One last pic: The Bassets meet the Dorothys for dinner in Dayton. Someone didn’t finish their onion rings:

And so the New Year commences! Let’s make it a good one.

Posted at 2:43 pm in Current events, Friends and family, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments
 

A to Y. (No Zzzzs.)

Insomnia is a form of slow, involuntary suicide. I am convinced of that now.

Just wanted to start a new thread. Because that’s all I’m capable of, these days. However! I like to think this will be a good thread. Because only positive thinking will overcome insomnia.

First, for the love of God, can someone please read this stupid story I wrote, that practically NO ONE ELSE read and shared? Even the people in the story, all of whom were emailed a link, have failed to respond, except for “Bruce Springsteen.” It’s about tribute artists, and it did dogshit traffic. I hate the internet.

But speaking of dogshit, this is very funny: The look at how a dog park has divided upscale Chevy Chase, Md. Rich people are so awful.

Me, I’m off to nuke a hurricane. Maybe then I’ll be able to sleep.

Posted at 1:03 pm in Current events | 69 Comments
 

There, there.

Most of us will never be rich and powerful enough that when we say things like, “Why don’t we just nuke that hurricane?” our underlings will say, “Sir, we’ll look into that.” Most of us only get that reaction when we’re gumming our mushy peas in a nursing home.

But that’s the world we live in now:

President Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president’s private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments.

Behind the scenes: During one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, “I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?” according to one source who was there. “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” the source added, paraphrasing the president’s remarks.

And that’s just wha you need to hear early on a Sunday evening to make sure your weekend ties up in one long, stinky fart. Because that’s the way we live now.

Saturday, on the other hand:

Before we discuss this, I have to make a request: If you’re going to say, “I don’t know any of these songs, and I feel old/resentful/whatever,” just save it. Probably hardly anyone knows all these songs; Alan suspects a consultant may have, shall we say, curated it. I don’t care. I listened to most of it on Saturday, and it bangs. I especially loved the Lizzo track, “Juice,” which I repeated three times before moving on to the Steely Dan.

If it takes the 44th president to introduce me to the music that it is, frankly, hard to find through conventional means, then thanks, Obama. I appreciate it.

The weather was perfect this weekend, and I needed it. How about you? I started reading “The Sheltering Sky” in preparation for our Morocco trip, but kept getting distracted by one thing or another — story of the contemporary reader’s life, eh?

Posted at 9:09 pm in Current events | 55 Comments
 

Help from afar.

Well, that particular problem wrapped itself up in a bow. Allow me to explain:

Kate has an internship opportunity this fall that could lead to permanent employment, although that’s a don’t-count-chickens deal for now. It’s in Los Angeles, and it starts unpaid. The job itself is in Malibu, which is a bit of a fur piece from the city proper. Money isn’t a problem yet — we have a lot of her 529 left over (thanks, scholarships and diligent saving) and can help her out for a while, but housing was a big question mark, as she can’t sign a lease without an income or a job. She was hoping to find a co-op house similar to where she lived in Ann Arbor, but no dice in pricey Malibu. Nor student housing at Pepperdine. She’d been Craigslisting her little heart out, looking for a short-term sublet, but when a spare bedroom in Culver City fell through, I told her I’d see what I could do.

L.A. Mary to the rescue, and in about 24 hours, to boot. She knows a guy who has a restored vintage Airstream trailer parked in his back yard, it’s coming vacant soon, and it’s in Venice, which location-wise is about the best possible solution. So barring a disaster, she’ll be moving in in October.

And get this: The house has a pool. About a mile from the ocean. And about 20 miles from Malibu. Man, when you have a problem in a faraway city, it always helps to know a few locals, and it really helps to know our Mary.

So thanks, Mary.

I only wish my commute was on the Pacific Coast Highway, although maybe not at rush hour.

I just spent some time looking at Google Maps. Sigh.

I really hope this works out for her. She’s a hard worker. But we all have to struggle, early in our careers.

Take Jeffrey Epstein, for example. Started as a humble high-school math teacher, but it wasn’t long before his sociopathic charm took him right to the top, and he did exactly what he liked along the way until only very recently, when he decided that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life eating bologna sandwiches and canned fruit cocktail.

You can understand.

I’m not forming an opinion about it yet. Weird shit happens every day in our crazy world, but often, Occam’s razor applies. And if the Clintons were that powerful, why are so many of the people who tormented them for so long, who torment them to this day, still walking around free? Newt Gingrich is a tub of lard who couldn’t evade a trained assassin for 30 seconds. And Anthony Weiner, for cryin’ out loud. Neither man would be much missed by their wives. Callista might even leave the bedroom window unlocked. (Hell, she’d send a thank-you note.)

That said, what an utter failure of what should be simple procedure in a federal lockup. Hanging oneself in a cell isn’t as cut-and-dried as a drop from a gallows; often the deceased suffocates, and that takes time. This never should have happened, but you don’t need me to tell you that.

The other big event this weekend was the old-folks’ swim meet we held Saturday morning. It was all team events, almost all relays. We all swam two or three races, and the teams I was on won some, lost some. It was a very casual event, as you can imagine; we were encouraged to “take the ribbons you think you deserve,” for instance. I left with none. What am I going to do with ribbons? I had a great time, and saw our old buddy Tom, who took much of the last year off as he waited for, and then received, a kidney transplant. Now he’s back in the pool, and here he is, after finishing his lap:

Man, nothing photographs like a pool on a beautiful summer day.

I hope the next day you face is beautiful. See you Tuesday/Wednesday.

Posted at 6:35 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 65 Comments
 

Too close.

We started to watch “Vice” Thursday night. Not a terrible effort at all — good performances, imaginative telling of a familiar story, interesting creative choices. But I tapped out early. It was too much like current events, and felt too much like watching the president yesterday. Freshly spray-tanned, sniffing, barely able to read the Teleprompter, and then with that stupid god-bless riff at the end, which turned the exhaust-belching sedan of his brain north on I-75 instead of south, and took him to Toledo.

Easy to confuse, Dayton and Toledo. They’re both cities in Ohio, and we all look alike, anyway.

An alternative explanation:

But what if Trump’s problem was a literal lack of focus? What if, where most people saw the words Texas and Ohio on the teleprompter, the president saw a capital T, a big blur, and maybe an O somewhere? Minor Ohio city, starts with T: Toledo.

In 2014, as Donald Trump took the stand to testify in a civil case brought against him by two would-be residents (had his tower in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ever actually opened), he asked the judge presiding over the case if he could borrow the judge’s reading glasses. According to a photo caption in the Sun-Sentinel at the time, “Trump quipped that he should wear them all the time, but he’s ‘too vain.’ ”

Another curiosity of the Trump presidency has been his approach to stairs. Almost every time he exits Air Force One, Trump can be spotted white-knuckling the guardrail as he stares intently at his feet. And in 2017, The Times of London reported that widely mocked photo in which Trump grabbed Theresa May’s hand was due explicitly to his fear of stairs. …A man with poor eyesight and perhaps poor depth perception, however, would indeed be far more cautious around stairs than most. And a man terrified of embarrassing himself in any capacity, doubly so.

I think she’s on to something. However, I still can’t watch him. Every time he holds up his hand in one of those dumb thumb-to-forefinger gestures he does, I feel a little more dead inside.

So I left “Vice” as Dick was getting the call from Dubya. I’ve literally seen this movie. I know how it turns out.

Sorry I’m so listless of late. I’m just…listless. And stuff like this depresses me. Also, for the record: I absolutely believe the story told in the last comment thread: Oh, FFS, Joe, of course that woman said that stuff about Obama. How dumb do you think we are? How dumb are you? I have heard many versions of her remark in the last few years. I walked out of my last high-school reunion after some blockhead popped off that Obama was “the most racist president ever.” And that was before the last election. I honestly don’t think I could handle that bunch now. I won’t be attending the next one.

So, some odds and ends:

I checked the Columbus Dispatch the other day, looking for fresh angles on the Dayton shootings. I was distracted by a story on the Sale of Champions at the Ohio State Fair, where the prize-winning livestock is auctioned off to the area’s markets and restaurants. It can be a sad occasion, as the 4-H kids say goodbye to the animals they helped raise, knowing they’re all going to their deaths on the altar of our carnivorous culture, but they walk away with big checks, which helps take the sting out.

The lead mentioned something about the top price going to the champion “cow.” I thought, hmm, usually the steer gets the biggest bid, but OK maybe dairy is super-hot this year, and then realized the writer was referring to a steer. She just called him a cow, because he walks on four legs and moos, I guess. A few lines down, she described the sale of “turkey’s.” The errors have been fixed now, but JFC I can’t stand it. My old pal Kirk Arnott, who ran the copy desk with both benevolence and an insistence on upholding the fucking English language, has really left the building.

Of course, the paper is owned by GateHouse now. Which just bought Gannett, which owns the Free Press here in Detroit, so.

What else? I’m doing my first swim meet this weekend. It’s the sunrise swimmers at one park against the sunrise swimmers at another. Everyone is at least 40, and a few are past 80. This should be fun. Wish me luck.

I’ll try to be back before then, though.

Posted at 9:56 am in Current events, Media | 81 Comments
 

Bloody Sunday.

Honestly, I don’t know why some people don’t just keep their mouths shut:

And:

Seriously. Just shut UP.

But we all know that won’t happen. What a terrible weekend.

I was a no-show at the end of last week because a) I was exhausted; and b) all my energy went into this interview with Marianne Williamson that I did with my colleague Violet. Very interesting woman. Not presidential timber, but in a race with 20 more-or-less front-runners, she’s more interesting than, say, Tulsi Gabbard and Amy Klobuchar. Afterward I told her press secretary that if the Democrats win in 2020 — huge if, I know — I’d like to see her run a truth and reconciliation commission. I’d also like to see her take the fight to Fox and the rest of the right-wing news bubble. I think women in particular would be responsive to some of her ideas.

As to why we didn’t press her on some of her goofball ideas about health, meds and weight loss, I plead only that we were given 45 minutes, and she tends to filibuster. If you read her answers, you see a lot of preacher tricks in there. Ultimately, we thought we’d press her on policy over some of her past statements. Time is finite. But we could have talked a lot longer.

And now it’s Sunday, another week looming ahead. Honestly, after this weekend it is tempting to sell everything and light out for a saner country. Europe sounds tempting right now. Hell, Canada sounds tempting. Of course, they have no mental illness in either of these places, nor violent video games, so no mass shootings.

Let’s see if we can get through it without another. (Don’t bet on it.)

Posted at 5:29 pm in Current events | 64 Comments
 

One night in Detroit.

First, the before.

My editor and I walked up to the Fox around 5, stopping for a light dinner on the way. It was a nice, warm afternoon, no rain in the forecast, perfect for a little demonstrating. The police had Woodward blocked between Grand Circus Park and the freeway, and Detroit did show out for it.

This was protest ground zero. The two sides separated to opposite sides of Woodward. On the pro-Trump side: A man drenched in fake blood (abortion), some bikers with various love-it-or-leave-it signs, a makeshift band of young men plowing through “CNN Sucks,” a few Beckys. This was shot from the Trump side. Here’s Becky on the bullhorn:

The guy in the lei was wearing a yarmulke and trench coat. There were a couple of black folks on this side, one Latino-looking dude with a “legal immigrants for Trump” sign, along with InfoWars, religious people — the usual tossed salad.

On the anti-Trump side, a far larger group, more energized, with a smorgasbord of causes — green new deal, unions for all, one job should be enough, abolish ICE, etc. I took video of this side, but I won’t embed here; no need to eat up bandwidth. You’ve all seen a demonstration before. (Lots of pix of this side at Deadline Detroit, too.) This side was far more diverse, not only in causes but in age and ethnicity. Draw your own conclusions.

At the peak of the chanting, a hayride rolled right through the middle of everything:

Earlier in the day, spotted Marianne Williamson on the street. She’s been called fat-phobic. She’s certainly not fat herself; this is a size-0 XS woman if there ever was one:

After a while, it was time to go inside. Locked up my bike — a bike was very helpful for getting around this complex — and went into the media pen. All the media, except for the CNN moderators, were in the pen. It was a nice pen, thoroughly air-conditioned and well-wifi’d:

But we got no closer to the actual debate than you all did; we watched it on TV:

You all watched it, too, so I don’t have to tell you anything you already know. I was startled by Marianne Williamson, not only by the some of the sensible — but really not pertaining to the presidency — things she said, but also by how many supporters she had outside, and not the ones you’d think, i.e., not people like her. A surprising number of African Americans, for one, and the biggest watch-party venue of the lot:’

This is a couple doors down from the Fox. Which looked gorgeous on TV; kudos to the lighting and staging technicians.

And tonight we do it all again. I might wander down again; I think my credential will at least get me past the barricades for one more night, although unsure of the press pen. No matter. Detroit is fun 365 days a year, but most fun in summer, when we all come outside. As I left, the demonstrations were down to a few plucky sign-carriers, and these folks:

“Replace Rashida” was one of the signs on the pro-Trump side, earlier, but my guess is, they won’t come close. Her district seems to love her, and to be sure, she’s one of the warmest politicians I’ve seen in a while. She came out to march a while in the early demos, along with Nathan Phillips (the Native American guy in the Covington kids story). You can see her picture, along with many, many others, at the Deadline Detroit story.

Me, I’m going to eat some breakfast and get my butt to work. Have a good day, all.

Posted at 8:07 am in Current events, Detroit life | 91 Comments
 

Different from you and me.

It’s getting toward the end of the month, so apologies for posting a New York Times story as the center for today’s blog; I know not everyone is a subscriber and has the 10 or so permitted free articles. It’s not that important, anyway, but I’ll try to quote only judiciously from the story, about the strange relationship between Jeffrey Epstein and Leslie Wexner, the founder and CEO of what’s now known as L Brands but everyone who grew up in Columbus called the Limited.

The story draws a lot of lines between the two, but doesn’t connect all the dots, many of which are, as yet, not connectable by primary sources. What’s known is that the two were unusually close, and aren’t anymore. This sorta sums it up:

Within years of meeting Mr. Epstein, Mr. Wexner handed him sweeping powers over his finances, philanthropy and private life, according to interviews with people who knew the men as well as court documents and financial records.

Mr. Wexner authorized him to borrow money on his behalf, to sign his tax returns, to hire people and to make acquisitions. Over the years, Mr. Epstein obtained a New York mansion, a private plane and a luxury estate in Ohio — today valued at roughly $100 million all together — previously owned by Mr. Wexner or his companies. At the same time, he drove a wedge between Mr. Wexner and longtime associates and friends.

Virtually from the moment in the 1980s that Mr. Epstein arrived on the scene in Columbus, Ohio, where L Brands was based, Mr. Wexner’s friends and colleagues were mystified as to why a renowned businessman in the prime of his career would place such trust in an outsider with a thin résumé and scant financial experience.

Wexner, for his part, claims he severed their relationship at some point, around the time of the now-infamous plea deal in Florida:

“While Mr. Epstein served as Mr. Wexner’s personal money manager for a period that ended nearly 12 years ago, we do not believe he was ever employed by nor served as an authorized representative of the company,” said Tammy Roberts Myers, a company spokeswoman.

Ms. Myers said that, at the direction of the company’s board, L Brands recently hired lawyers “to conduct a thorough review” into the relationship. She declined to say what the investigation would entail.

Wexner has reason to put as much distance as possible between himself and a sex criminal now; as many have pointed out, all is not what it used to be at L Brands, which swaggered through the Malling of America like conquering heroes. L Brands, at one time, encompassed the Limited, Limited Too, Limited Express, Lane Bryant, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret. Probably a few I’m forgetting in there, too. It would be hard to pass through a shopping center without feeling their fingers in your wallet; long after I outgrew the cheap clothes on offer, toddler Kate would drag me into Bath & Body Works. (They sold cheap glycerin soaps for a buck a bar, and she loved to pick out the colors she liked and just play with them in their wrappers. Kept her amused on many trips to Columbus. My sister pointed out that most malls had multiple locations of B&BW, knowing it was an impulse buy — they wanted to be in as many places as possible, to catch you when you were feeling impulsive.)

Now, of course, the plight of the American shopping mall is well-known, and Victoria’s Secret in particular is in trouble. They failed to see the body-positivity trend coming, preferring to stick to the otherworldly, fake-boobed TrumpFembot(tm) model for their brand image. This may be explained by the fact that until recently, they had a board with only one woman on it — Abigail Wexner, the CEO’s wife. She is undeniably a brainy woman, but I doubt she’s noticing lingerie trends at the middle-class retail level, living in the Himalayan altitude of wealth as she does.

Anyway, this is a bad time for Wexner to be seen as a confederate of someone like Epstein, even in the past, as it’s becoming increasingly evident Epstein’s proclivities and activities were carried out more or less in plain sight, and Wexner is the father of two daughters himself. A consumer boycott is the last thing the company needs.

When I wrote about him about 100 years ago, the angle was this: For years, this fortysomething Jewish bachelor accumulated wealth and built his company and kept a pretty low profile, and then suddenly one day he woke up and decided to be a Player. Columbus is like most Midwestern cities and prizes dues-paying over just flinging money around, and Wexner made a big misstep early when he suggested the symphony orchestra give up its Ohio Theatre base for a “real” music hall. The Ohio Theatre was one of those glorious old movie theaters from the ’20s that fell into disrepair; a volunteer-funded restoration effort saved it and people were very proud and nostalgic about it, so that didn’t go over well at all. He lost that one, but anyone with millions of dollars isn’t ignored for long, and I think building the Wexner Center, an avant-garde art space on the Ohio State campus, satisfied his urge to make a mark in the arts, and plastering his name on a few hospital buildings did the same.

But I recall seeing Epstein’s name associated with him for a while now, with the theme that somehow Epstein offered the billionaire some essential schooling in “how to be rich.” Wexner didn’t start really spending in a showy way until his marriage to a New York City M&A lawyer in 1993. First there was the gigantic house in the Columbus suburbs to welcome her to town, then, because his bride liked outdoorsy pursuits like riding and shooting, he outfitted the house with barns and stables and bought her country homes in London and …Georgia, I think. There was a yacht, Limitless, with the yachtiest yacht details available; I think I remember some puff piece talking about the “dolphin cam” belowdecks, so his children could watch the fishies swim by. Epstein was apparently part of all these projects, even down to overseeing the design and building of the yacht, a pretty amazing thing for a college dropout with no mariner experience to do.

So I guess the question that hangs over all of this is: Is it possible for a man capable of building a billionaire’s fortune over the course of one lifetime — he famously launched his first store with a $10,000 loan from various relatives — be so naive that he didn’t know what Epstein was, fairly early in their relationship? He trusted him to sign his tax returns? Build him a $100 million yacht? So did he know and not care or — and I think this is far more likely — this sort of behavior is simply accepted, along with everything else, if you’re rich enough and have the right friends?

OK, so. Sunday afternoon and I’ve been away from here for…a week. Apologies. I have no excuse other than: I’ve been busy, with a few weeknight engagements. Missed a couple of swim workouts, which I expect I’ll pay for during my open-water test in three weeks. If I drown, I’ll tell St. Peter, “It was summer, and I was busy.” Whatever.

I’m also done keeping up with various presidential outrages in this space. They’re happening too fast, and you guys all get to them first. Now it’s Baltimore, last weekend it was the “go back” stuff; current events these days are like being dive-bombed by zombie wasps or something. It’s so enervating, and it’s hot outside.

Thanks for hanging around, anyway. Next week are the Dem debates here in Detroit. I’m credentialed for the first night, and hope to share something with you after. Stay tuned.

Posted at 3:28 pm in Current events | 49 Comments
 

The barrel has no bottom.

I guess this is where we are now, right? The president incites a mob to chant “send her back” about an immigrant whose story bears absolutely no resemblance to the one now accepted as fact. The next day, he tells an outright, obvious lie about how bothered he was by the whole incident, how he tried to shut it down immediately, as though the whole incident wasn’t on national television, as though the tape can’t be consulted with a few clicks, and already I’ve seen a couple of apparently intelligent people saying, “He said he disapproves, and tried to shut it down.”

That’s where we are now. The barrel, it has no bottom.

Next month — hell, maybe next week, maybe tomorrow — we’ll be in a different, worse place. Something to look forward to.

With that in mind, we limp to the end of a pretty awful week. Tomorrow it will be in the mid 90s, with humidity to match. When I swam Wednesday, I pulled up wheezing at the end of a piece and said, “I can’t breathe,” and the person in the next lane said, “I thought it was just me.” And this at 6:30 a.m. It’s thick out there.

First, this bit of bloggage: What you have to believe to believe the president.

And this: Why you want to work in a newsroom.

A good weekend, all. Stay cool.

Posted at 8:39 pm in Current events | 35 Comments
 

Sweating gel.

A sweaty weekend. By my reckoning, I sweated through to the ends of my hair about five times over the weekend — a serious Saturday workout, then a bike ride in the early-evening heat, then cleaning the house, the usual — and now, on Sunday, my hair is basically held in place with dried sweat and truth be told, it’s not a terrible look. Maybe these hack-your-biome people are on to something. Once upon a time, it would be a disaster; I’ve always been a little on the oily side, but in my dessicated-crone years, I seem to have reached an equilibrium.

(I hasten to add that I still showered a couple times over the weekend. But I didn’t get my hair wet, because the last thing you want to do on a sweaty weekend is blow hot air on your head.)

And it was a decent weekend, hot, and a little upended. I had plans to do a river swim with a friend today, but we cancelled because police were looking for a drowning victim right where we usually go. Perils of summer, I guess, along with things like the blackout in New York.

What a blast that must have been, with Broadway casts singing in the streets and everybody jolly and helpful. I get the feeling people elsewhere are somehow disappointed when New York fails to disintegrate into a zombie-apocalypse scenario under such conditions, and instead rises to the occasion with grace, humor and generosity. When a water main broke in 1999 in Fort Wayne, cutting off water to a big chunk of the city, there was pushing and shoving in the bottled-water aisles at the grocery stores. And service was restored in just a few hours. Afterward, the tension was chalked up to “concerns about Y2K,” but if I was facing a tense situation, I know where I’d rather be.

Which brings us to the story of the weekend, wherein the president of the United States reveals himself, yet again, to be a racist, and half the nation gapes, appalled, and the other half essentially yawns, shrugs and says, “Portfolio’s doing pretty great. Nobody’s perfect.”

This stupid country. We are so deep into our Good Germans phase we’re soaking in it, and who cares? You do, I do, lots of people do, but not enough.

I want to say one last thing about Jeffrey Epstein, at least until I say the next thing: There’s an idea going around, that if you try to distinguish between “pedophilia” and what Epstein apparently has, i.e. “ephebophilia,” i.e., attraction to post-pubescent adolescents, that this is the hallmark of a creep. I get it, I really do, but I think it’s important to make a distinction, because it goes to the heart of the way young women are treated in this culture.

It’s in the porny way we treat “Lolitas,” and it’s not just people like Epstein and Larry Flynt and other creeps. It’s also evident in the way virginity is prized in evangelical cultures, this idea that women can be “spoiled” by sexual activity outside of marriage. It’s deeply misogynistic.

And it’s far more widespread than we acknowledge. I understand that men will look at beautiful teenage girls and recognize that they are attractive; that’s biology, and it happens. In ancient cultures, women were married off as soon as they were capable of childbearing. And this is what a lot of the don’t-call-it-pedophilia seem to be saying: That this is somehow OK, because it used to be OK for men to sleep with teens. Obviously, that’s not what I’m saying. When adults act on those urges, I think it’s a mistake to call it pedophilia, because that reduces young women to children in the name of protecting them. Of course they still need protection, but it’s different from the way we protect young kids; rather, it’s a way of valuing their potential and the life that lies ahead of them.

I keep thinking of something I read in the original Miami Herald piece about Epstein that started all this, last fall. One of the girls said she was triggered by the word “pure,” because that’s one Epstein used with her, over and over. I guess when he was done with her, she was no longer pure.

Women are people, and they’re real, not precious glass sculptures that you throw away when one’s leg gets snapped off. They’re not children, either, as much as we want to treat them that way.

OK, time to face the week ahead. Still gonna be hot. I guess it’s preferable to January.

Posted at 9:15 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 29 Comments