Blue water, blue skies.

Yikes, now that was a weekend. Perfect weather both days, just in time for miserable weather arriving during the week, when we’ll be scraping the bottom of the 90s. Why do I live here, I will ask myself on days like that. The answer:

Blue water, blue skies. That’s why.

That was Saturday. On Sunday, bike ride to John’s Carpet House for some of the blues jam that happens there every Sunday, in season. It’s grown — considerably — since the last time I was there. It’s much more of a place to show out, but still friendly, and that’s what counts. I had a late lunch of two tacos from a place that was selling them for $2 each. The guy asked me what I wanted on them. I asked what he had. Cheese, sour cream, taco sauce, jalapeños or something he called “Kranch.”

“It’s so good on tacos, you won’t believe it,” he said.

OK, then — cheese and Kranch. Which turned out to be ketchup and ranch dressing, but he was right — it wasn’t half-bad, at least when you’re hungry, and I was. Plus two Modelos.

It was necessary to be outside this weekend to shake off the stench of current events. Which leads to some bloggage:

A profile of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that will definitely polish her brand as a possible presidential contender down the road. Washington Post, but the link is a “gift” link, so I’m hoping you all can see it. Anyway:

Whitmer is a woman, but she is also an attractive woman, and her use of executive power, when wielded broadly, seems to deeply trigger her male antagonists. The Republican leader of the state Senate, Mike Shirkey, bragged on a hot mic that he had “spanked her hard on budget, spanked her hard on appointments,” and also contemplated “inviting her to a fistfight on the Capitol lawn.” Another Republican lawmaker, Sen. Ed McBroom, complained that Whitmer had been “neutering” him and his colleagues, the cause of the legislature’s “emasculation.”

At the start of the pandemic, Whitmer urged the federal government to supply more equipment to Michigan. On live television from the White House press briefing room, Trump dismissed her as “the woman from Michigan.” She was in national headlines. Democrats called it a political gift. Joe Biden thought about making her vice president, inviting her to Delaware to talk about the job in secret.

But that’s also when the threats started. Hundreds that don’t make it into the media, she said. And then there were the armed protests. And then there was the hit list with her name on it, belonging to a man who shot and killed a former Wisconsin judge. And then there was the kidnapping plot, a saga that began in the fall of 2020 and stretched on into a trial this year. Four men were charged, their plans and fantasies spelled out in public court filings: hogtying the governor, laying the governor out on a table, shooting the governor in the skull, shooting the governor in her doorway. She tried not to follow the trial coverage, but the headlines always passed by on Twitter and in push alerts. How could she not look? “Like, for weeks that this trial was going … every day,” she said. “So even if I wasn’t reading those articles, I couldn’t get away from them.”

I’m glad she’s talking about it, because most of the state media do not. Whitmer is nakedly ambitious, but this is so obvious.

Here’s more WashPost content, and another gift link, actor John Turturro talking about his grandmother’s illegal abortion:

My mother, Katherine, the fourth of six children, was born in Brooklyn to immigrants from Sicily. Her mother, Rosa, took care of the family and worked as a seamstress from home; her father, Giovanni, earned his living as a shoemaker. They struggled as many poor families did, then and now, to feed and clothe their children. Then Rosa became pregnant with child number seven.

She was 40. She had a baby, a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 7-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old. I imagine the method of birth control was rudimentary. Rosa’s older sister Margarita was distraught that Rosa would have another mouth to feed. Margarita persuaded her sister not to bear another child.

She was given a “special drink” by her sister. It didn’t go well:

My grandmother became feverish — most likely from an infection that turned into septic shock that evening — on fire from the poison, burning inside. Pennyroyal, I know now, can be toxic to the liver. My mom watched her mother stand up on her bed, pulling at her hair and asking God, “Why?”

Rosa Inzerillo was taken to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn on April 18, 1927. She died on April 25 at about 7 a.m.

I’m glad he wrote about this, because we know this is who most often gets an abortion — a woman who already is a mother and is struggling with the ones she has. The column goes on to describe what happens to a poor woman with six children who dies in 1927. It blew up her family, in every way imaginable. I won’t spoil it — just read.

And on a lighter note, ha ha, a NYT magazine story on why the future of opera may be unfolding in? Yes, Detroit. Another gift link. My friends who have seen the productions Yuval Sharon has done so far have raved about them. We’ll have to see one next season, if we can get seats after this.

With that, I believe I’ve got some recovering to do from all this sun. Funny how it knocks you flat, ain’a? But I’m thinking some pizza will be good medicine.

Let the week begin.

Posted at 6:53 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 33 Comments
 

Hu’s next.

In December 2020, a small group of Stop the Steal lunatics demonstrated outside the Michigan Secretary of State’s home. It was dark, and it was said that some were packing the usual long guns those dipshits favor, but I only saw a couple of videos and didn’t spot any. They were told to stay on public sidewalks, don’t block traffic, and do their thing. Which they did.

I wrote a column about it at the time, which no one liked. I said it was obnoxious, but entirely defensible, as long as it stays non-violent and the shits stay off private property. I think one of the demonstrators here dared to ring her doorbell, but that was it. (He should have been arrested, IMO.)

So don’t cry to me, Clarence Thomas. Tough shit, Brett Kavanaugh. If it’s the downfall of decency and decorum, hmm, too bad. As these guys like to say, over and over and over, the American Revolution wasn’t polite, either.

At least I’m consistent in my outrage. I don’t remember any Republicans hand-wringing today over the Death of Decorum defending Jocelyn Benson in 2020.

So. Not a terrible weekend, for a change. Friday night we shlepped to Pontiac to see the Hu, the Mongolian metal band. I’d put them in the Deadline Detroit newsletter in the events section, just for the novelty. Then I got a note from LAMary telling me her roadie son was going to be in Detroit “with some Mongolian musicians” and figured there couldn’t possibly be more than one. We’d actually talked about going, just to get out of the house for something different, and that settled it. So first Mexican food, then the Hu. We were supposed to be on the list, but we weren’t. “We’ll just take two tickets, then,” I said.

“Sorry, it’s sold out,” the lady at the window said. It was a nightclub, not the hockey arena, but still. Clearly the Hu has more of a fan base than we thought. And we got lucky, because just then the club owner came in, saw us standing around fretting, and waved us in. First stop: The merch table, to say hi to Pete and buy a T-shirt. We found our way upstairs and had an OK view. They put on a good show — very Metal, very loud, very tribal-sounding. They play traditional instruments (although I noticed a guitarist standing in the back, out of the light, and one of the drum kits is the conventional kind), and do a fair amount of Mongolian throat-singing. For once, it didn’t matter that the lyrics weren’t clear, because they were in Mongolian. It reminded me of George Miller, talking about the flame-throwing guitarist in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” He said every army needed a drummer boy, and that guitarist was the bad guys’ drummer boy.

The Hu could be the drummer boys for Genghis Khan. Somewhere in a central Asian grave, he is surely smiling. Of course, the band has a song about him.

I’ve always been interested in Mongolia. When I was riding, I used to get a catalog for a horse-based travel service called Equitour. Most the trips were stuff like fox hunting in Ireland, dressage in the Netherlands, etc. But there were two that I really should have done when I still could — crossing the interior of Iceland on native ponies (there was a note that you should be able to ride 20-plus miles a day and expect mutton at literally every meal), and a trip across the Mongolian steppes, also on native horses, probably with a similar physical and dietary warning. When I had amnio before Kate was born, the geneticist and I chatted about her research work in Mongolia, looking for links between central Asians and native Americans.

I’d have chatted about all this with the Hu, but they don’t speak much English, Pete said. Probably fluent in Russian, though.

OK, then, time to get the show on the road. On my “day off” I’ve already edited several stories and had no fewer than four phone calls with my editor. I’ll leave you with a picture:

Hu’s on first, but in Columbus today, I believe.

Posted at 11:58 am in Current events, Detroit life | 31 Comments
 

We do our part.

I really don’t love weightlifting, although what I do hardly qualifies — call it strength training, say. Sherri’s a weightlifter. I just have to drag my whiny ass to the gym once or twice a week to push around some dumbbells to supplement, and hopefully improve, the other things I do. But I dragged it today, whining all the way, for the first time in a long while (Delta, Omicron) and I can just tell I am going to be so sore tomorrow I may not be able to move. So best get this thing out of the way now, while I’m still capable of keyboard entry.

I’ve been exercising all pandemic, just not with the heavier stuff. But no, I did not feel “in shape” enough to not be sore.

Whine, whine.

So as my time here is limited, here’s what we did last night.

I know many of you are doing the hard work of supporting the Ukrainian people — writing checks, collecting donated goods, all that. The Derringers and their friends the Walshes did their part by going out to eat.

A former Wayne State student of mine, who went on to become the Free Press restaurant critic, is a Slavic emigre who came to this country as a boy. From Lithuania, but his family is Ukrainian. Lately he took the buyout from the paper and became editorial director for a pop-up dining space in Hazel Park. We’ve been there a few times — they do themed dinners with guest chefs, classes, that sort of thing. When I saw they had a Russian dinner planned, I perked up. We’re between Covid waves, we haven’t had a fancy dinner out in ages and what the hell else is your American Express card for, anyway? So we signed up. Then the war started, and the idea of paying tribute to Russia became a record scratch, so the theme was changed to “Slavic Solidarity,” and the profits directed to Ukrainian relief.

So we got dressed up and headed to Hazel Park. Took two bottles of our own and paid the steep corkage, but it was worth it because one bottle was bubbles, and we had that with the first two courses.

Sunflowers on the table, of course. And what else do you drink with caviar but good champagne?

The chef introduced those as “caviar tacos,” and even though I’m not really a caviar girl, it was fabulous with the eggs, the blini, the sour cream, a little squirt of lemon. Yum.

We brought a bottle we got in France, and those Reidel glasses and the candle made it look so purty, I can’t even remember what point Lynn was making here.

The main course? Chicken Kiev, of course:

Surprisingly, that was the only course that wasn’t great. I wanted the butter to squirt, and it didn’t. But it tasted fine, and that’s what counts. Dessert was another blini with a berry compote and whipped cream. Just a lovely dinner on a cold night in the very early spring.

I wondered, as we drove home, if this is what rich people tell themselves after they do one of their over-the-top “fundraisers” for charity — that yes, I ate caviar and drank champagne, but it was for a good cause and I am a good person for doing so. I didn’t feel like a particularly good person, only a well-fed one.

Anyway, that was the highlight of the weekend. There may be more news coming soon, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Signing off, here is the Nall/Derringer co-prosperity sphere, FaceTuned to a near-unrecognizable state, but hey, that’s what digital photography is for, right? Warping reality:

Have a great week ahead, everyone.

Posted at 5:44 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 20 Comments
 

Better.

Thanks for all your good wishes. I’m feeling fine and haven’t had any reoccurrence of last week’s troubles, fingers crossed. Worked out a little in the basement, and fingers crossed again, will return to the pool tomorrow morning. I’ll take it easy, too.

Taking it easy isn’t difficult for me. In fact, it’s insanely seductive. One reason I try not to stop daily exercise for too long is, I fear I’ll never start back up. Especially in winter, the bed is so warm and cozy. It’s hard to tell yourself just do it, despite what the commercials say. So I do it. And then eat too much afterward.

Enough about that. It’s the start of St. Patrick’s Day festivities here, which seem to be blurring with something observed locally — 313 Day, a celebration of Detroit because that’s the area code. The St. Pat’s parade was this morning, and it snowed, but not long after the wind switched around to the southwest, the sun came out, and all the snow melted. We’re promised steadily rising temperatures all week, and by March 17, it could be in the 60s. Some friends and I are going to do a limited old-people pub crawl on The Day Itself, which is to stay we’ll start early, end early and probably go alcohol-free for at least one or two stops.

So if today is 313 Day, that means tomorrow is Pi Day, another one of those “holidays” that just appeared one day. If I weren’t thinking about making an MRI appointment for my brain, I’d whip one up. Think I’ll let it pass. One year one of Alan’s staffers thought he’d bring in a couple to the office, so he stopped at the local trendy bakery and asked for two pie. Total: $70. I should have been a baker.

So with the weekend, whiling away, let’s look at the breaking news. Two things:

First thing, Barry got the bug. He’s going to be fine (it is devoutly hoped). It can happen to anyone.

Second thing, William Hurt is dead. This one hurts; he was a good one. Although, at 71, you can’t say he didn’t get his threescore and ten. But he was so great, when he was great, playing a sexy lunk in “Body Heat,” the drug dealer in a ratty Porsche in “The Big Chill,” and so many others. But not long ago I saw a young man in a newer production and thought, man, he’s a dead ringer for William Hurt, and whaddaya know, it was his son. So I guess it’s time. Still. A moment of silence.

So happy Pi Day, and see you when I get back. Have a slice for me.

Posted at 8:59 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 58 Comments
 

Bad words.

On Monday, my best friend’s firstborn will be defending his dissertation. Apparently it’ll be on Zoom, and the public is welcome to watch. I’ve never seen a dissertation defense, and I plan to watch because I’ve known this boy since he was in diapers, and, well, he’s a genius. I don’t expect to understand it at all; he’s in a medical science program, the kind where you go to med school a couple extra years and emerge with two doctorates, medical and “of philosophy,” as they say. But it’ll be interesting to watch.

I have to say, I’m enjoying this phase of parenthood, where a kid is more or less launched into the world and your work is pretty much done. I say “more or less” because I imagine they stay on the family cell-phone plan and HBO subscription until you die. And “pretty much” because they’ll always need you, at least a little. But it’s fun to sit down with a young adult, pour two glasses of wine, and have an adult conversation. You can say “fuck” without feeling like you’re corrupting them. It certainly beats adolescence.

Two language-related incidents in recent days here. First, the grimmer one: A substitute teacher in a suburban high-school here was escorted from the building by administration, fired and told to never return (in so many words). Her crime? Saying “get your cotton-pickin’ hands off of it” to a black student. This was captured on video, because apparently kids never put their phones away, and it had to be done.

The story I read was by some Gannett partner paper out in the ‘burbs, and was written as though she’d burned a cross in the classroom. I can’t find the link now, but there was one passage where the superintendent talked about how all substitutes are of course qualified, but “we can’t know the prejudices in a person’s heart” when they’re hired. Until they come out in language like that.

All I could think was, she said “cotton-pickin'” so she wouldn’t say “goddamn.” Or something worse.

While it is obviously abundantly clear why that phrase is racially offensive, it’s also one of those usages that was common, once upon a time, and had nothing to do with race at all, at least not when I ever heard it. It was a way for your mom or dad to intensify an order without using profanity. Get your cotton-pickin’ hands off the stereo, Jimmy is better parenting than telling Jimmy to take his fucking hands off the volume knob.

It’s an antique phrase, granted. When I hear it in my memory, it comes out in Mel Blanc’s voice, because Yosemite Sam used it a lot when he talked to Bugs Bunny. Wait one cotton-pickin’ minute, etc. I asked some younger people what they thought, and here’s where I was really surprised: Several of them had never heard the phrase at all. Ever! So much for the ubiquity of Looney Tunes.

Some people say gosh darn, some pea-pickin’, some doggone, but it’s all the same. Lots of parents used that phrase when I was a kid. Lots of parents continued to use that phrase when I was an adult.

Memo to the room: We can no longer use that phrase. Substitute fucking, instead. You may still get in trouble, but you won’t be branded a racist.

On Friday night, we went to the Dirty Show, Detroit’s annual erotic-art festival. It’s been a while (Covid), and I was pleased to see the old spirit is back, with vaccine checks at the door and a fair number of masks.

As we were preparing to leave, the burlesque dancers took a break and a comic came out to do a tight five. It was a young woman, about Kate’s age, and she started out blue and reached a shade of blue so deep and bloooooo they need a new word for it. The performers’ names were projected on a screen behind them, and I suddenly realized that I knew her. Or rather, I knew her parents. They lived around the corner from us in Ann Arbor, and Kate played with her sister. Later, Kate and the comic went to Cuba together for a three-week study abroad program.

Alan was laughing his ass off. The jokes weren’t that funny, but there was a certain humor in seeing how far she’d go for the next laugh, like watching someone on a high wire. “Do you ever look into the toilet after you shit and think about how big a dick you could take back there?” etc. All I could think of was the sweet kindergartener I first knew, and of course, if her parents would rather she choose a stage name.

Not sure how we got there from Bernie’s dissertation, but good luck, Bern! You’ll do great, I know.

A little bloggage:

David French – David French! – is warning of the political violence to come, gestating in American evangelical churches:

Some readers may remember that I debated Eric Metaxas at John Brown University in September 2020. While the debate was civil enough, it was clear to me that Metaxas was operating with a level of commitment to Trump that went well beyond reason. He truly believed Joe Biden would destroy America. He truly believed Trump was God’s chosen man for the moment.

Then, after the election, Metaxas escalated his rhetoric considerably. Let’s recall some of his quotes about the election:

“It’s like stealing the heart and soul of America. It’s like holding a rusty knife to the throat of Lady Liberty.”

“You might as well spit on the grave of George Washington.”

“This is evil. It’s like somebody has been raped or murdered. … This is like that times a thousand.”

Indeed, Metaxas claimed certainty even in the absence of proof: “So who cares what I can prove in the courts? This is right. This happened, and I am going to do anything I can to uncover this horror, this evil.”

Hey, Dave – you guys built this Jurassic Park. You can’t be that shocked now that the velociraptors are finding the weak spots in the fence.

So, then: Happy Superbowling, everyone.

Posted at 5:27 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 58 Comments
 

Puzzles.

A friend of mine is working on a book with a Detroit history angle, and has given me the great privilege of editing it, at least at the first-reader level. It’s great, and it reminds me of another book project I worked on, another Detroit-history volume. I spent a fair amount of time at the library, reading newspapers on microfilm, and was struck by how different history looks at ground level, as opposed to the 30,000-foot view taken in history texts.

It’s one thing, for instance, to write that “Many middle-class residents fled the city, citing fear of rising crime,” and another entirely to look at some of the crimes we’re talking about here.

One incident happened in 1976. The Average White Band and Kool and the Gang were playing a show at Cobo Arena in the heart of downtown. Gang activity was at its peak then (which tracks; my birth year was the largest of the baby boom, and I would have been 19 in ’76). As the show started, a couple hundred gang members managed to get into the arena, easily blowing past security and the few police working the show. During the break between acts, members of the Errol Flynns (they had some great names, these gangs) took the stage and started yelling “Errol Flynn! Errol Flynn!” into the live mics, while others fanned out through the crowd, robbing audience members of their watches and wallets.

Then they fled into the night, and if anything, the situation got worse, as this clipping from the time suggests:

A 16-year-old black girl said she saw 20 to 25 black youths snatch a white girl’s purse, beat her white boyfriend, and then strip her to her shoes and rape her.

Forty-seven arrests, widespread robberies, one rape, one molestation, followed by gang members smashing storefront windows and looting stores. Fun fact: One of the gang members that night? A young man named Greg Mathis, who grew up to be Judge Mathis.

Imagine if your son or daughter had gone through something like that, even if she wasn’t gang-raped in an alley afterward. You’d turn your back on that city so fast you’d spin like a top.

Something useful to remember.

I see some of you are playing Wordle. I played it for a while, deleted it, added it again. Here’s my technique:

The object of the game is to guess a five-letter word in six tries. The board starts out blank, so I’ve learned you start with a consonant blend and as many vowels as you can get up there, although I didn’t follow the rule here. Gray tiles mean the letter isn’t in the word at all, yellow means it’s there but in the wrong place, and green means the letter is in the right place.

So if the H is correct, then the first letter is probably C, T or W. The L can’t be in the third position, so try it second-from-last, then in the last spot, and then you just take guesses. Mine was lucky.

Now I’ve managed to be even more annoying than the people who tweet their results! Now there’s a winner!

Posted at 9:11 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 43 Comments
 

Unpacked, finally.

This is a story probably little-noticed outside Michigan, the Midwest, and/or political-junkie circles, but the newly created Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission finished their work (for the most part) last night, approving new district maps for the U.S. House and state legislative districts.

The state is losing a district, which will make for some musical chairs. As for the Nall/Derringer co-prosperity sphere, we’ll move from the 14th to the 13th, expected to be a safe hold for Rashida Tlaib, the pottymouthed Palestinian-American squad member of impeach-the-motherfucker fame. The state districts are more of a we’ll-see situation, but most agree that the new maps, while still imperfect because of course they are, will make for a more representative state legislature and federal delegation than the disgraceful gerrymander they will replace.

There’ll be a lawsuit filed in the 13th, in fact, over the loss of majority-minority districts, and in fact, Michigan could end up with no black congressional representatives, which is startling for a state that contains America’s blackest city. On the other hand, “packing” is one of the ways to dilute black political power, and blacks have been moving to the suburbs for decades. Rashida is Arab-American, but she’s been a stand-up voice for people of color in her district so far. The courts will decide, I suppose. But for now, I’m pleased. (Tossup districts are way more competitive now — in that they exist. And if Trump tries to steal another election in 2024, we might have more of a fighting chance, at least in Michigan.)

This is the current 14th District:

And barring court modification, the purple-shaded area will be the 13th:

At least I’m no longer in a district with Pontiac, which would take me nearly an hour to reach by car. On freeways. In a densely populated urban area.

From the whining I’m picking up in rural areas of the state, I’m calling this a success.

That’s the good news. The bad? Kate went back to her house two days ago, after testing negative for five days previous AND the day after Christmas, started feeling bad, tested again and came up positive. So now we wait, and isolate. Oh well — we didn’t really have any firm plans for New Year’s Eve anyway. And she was feeling better within a day. Me, I’m fine-ish, in that I’m not sick but not not-sick, if that makes sense. Alan’s fine so far. Me, I’m running on about 87.5 percent, which is indistinguishable from the mildly bleh feeling I get after the rich foods, too much wine and scarcity of outdoor exercise during the holidays. But I’ll be safe. No socializing until I test negative and another week passes.

Some stuff to read in the slow week? Sure:

Here’s the always-interesting Olivia Nuzzi on Dr. Oz’s Pennsylvania Senate bid, which contains a hilarious long anecdote involving an improperly disconnected cell-phone call to Mrs. Oz:

To my surprise, she picked up — for about a second. Just as quickly as it started, the call was over. I had barely said hello. Unsure if we’d been disconnected or she’d hung up on me, I tried her back. The tone of her voice suggested it had definitely been the latter.

“How did you get my number?” she asked sharply. I told her that her number was listed in public records, and this annoyed her too. “Oh,” she said, “I should have gotten rid of that.” I was about to explain that public records don’t work that way, but she cut in. “Have a nice day,” she said, but it sounded like a cross between the way women of the South say “Bless your heart” and men of Brooklyn call some asshole “pal” after being cut off in traffic. Then she hung up.

Or she thought she did.

It may be paywalled, and if so, I’m sorry. Try an Incognito window.

Also, the battle over wind power in west Michigan. Not everyone thinks it’s wonderful.

Me, I”m off to work now.

Posted at 7:59 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 63 Comments
 

More ripples in the pond.

The fallout from the school shooting continues to be felt. Everywhere. The county prosecutor has her hands full with a shit-ton of copycat threats to other schools in the area. I have no doubt they’re all bullshit, but it certainly suggests kids kinda…hate their schools? Yes, that seems to be it.

Of course, lots of kids “hate” school, but they miss it terribly when they’re not there. It’s the center of their social lives, but even kids like me — stable home, lots of support, did well in what was indisputably a first-class public school district — had days when, if the building had burned to the ground, I would have stood outside, roasting marshmallows.

Lots of the threats are at the middle-school level, which tracks. I mean: Middle school, amirite? Others are more serious, leading to evacuations, dismissals for the day, and the expected messages to panicked parents: Don’t panic!

Well, we’re all on edge. I think it’s not just because this shooting happened close to home. Rather, because we look at those mugshots of the Crumbleys and realize: I know 25 people exactly like this. How many of them leave guns lying around for their disturbed teenagers to pick up? Probably more than a few, because really, what good is a “properly secured” weapon worth in a tense situation? Home invaders don’t send advance notice; you wake up in the night and think you heard something. Or you walk into the kitchen on a warm summer day and realize someone’s there who shouldn’t be. Do you say, “Hold that thought while I unlock my properly secured weapon?” Or maybe you don’t have children, so you leave the gun in the nightstand, or on the nightstand — badass! — or somewhere else. And then someone breaks in while you’re gone, and steals it.

Someone called in a threat to my high school, maybe a year before I arrived there. Only there really was a bomb, a homemade thing made of fireworks, as I recall. It blew up a toilet, and a kid was injured by flying porcelain. The perpetrator was expelled, the only permanent expulsion I’m aware of during my time there. He wasn’t a terrible kid, just one lost in the dark tunnel of adolescence. I just looked him up on Facebook, and he appears to be fine. Has an interest in general aviation. Who knows what Ethan Crumbley might have become, with different parents? A question for the ages, I guess.

I once saw a cop show that featured a middle-of-the-night home invasion, of Regina King’s house. She played a cop. Leapt from her bed to the closet, quickly keyed in a four-digit combination on her gun safe, and took out a Mossberg pump-action shotgun, which which she dispatched the bad guys. Now there’s a well-secured firearm. I’ve heard police say a shotgun is actually the safest home-protection weapon you can have, because the rounds won’t fly through your walls or windows into the neighbor’s nursery, and you can keep it loaded with rock salt rounds (do those even exist outside of southern gothic fiction) just in case you accidentally shoot your daughter’s boyfriend, sneaking in for some middle-of-the-night shenanigans.

OK then! Must run — the Deadline Detroit holiday party is tonight, and I have to throw together my contribution to the buffet. And get a Covid test first, which is scheduled in about 30 minutes. Probably be crowded, too, what with our heedlessness and surging case load. Best get moving. Happy weekend to all.

Posted at 8:27 am in Current events, Detroit life | 41 Comments
 

Action-packed.

Kate and Alan had a father-daughter date Friday night, which left me on my own. So I ran an errand, had a solitary dinner at the bar of a spot I’ve never tried before, and went to a record release show in Hamtramck. Leaving around 11:30, I was rolling east on Mt. Elliott when a bunch of flashing blue lights were suddenly coming up fast behind. I pulled over, and three DPD units went by so at such a speed that I could barely catch that they were, indeed, DPD.

I got home, checked Twitter, and realized where they must have been headed: To the Crumbley manhunt, because news here doesn’t just happen, it warps and metastasizes and becomes SuperNews, a school shooting where the perp’s parents are accused of involuntary manslaughter and try to lam it, despite what their lawyers say. (The lawyers say they always intended to turn themselves in. They were simply “getting their affairs in order” and spending the night in an artist’s studio 40 miles from their home, nbd.)

Yes, it was a week where the news just didn’t quit. The Crumbleys iced the rancid cupcake. I’m sure you’ve all seen the pressers by now, the prosecutor explaining that the Parents of the Year not only bought their 15-year-old a semiautomatic handgun for an early Christmas present, they blew off school reports that young Ethan was exhibiting disturbing behavior and, on the day of the shooting, came to school for a conference and refused to take their boy home. And the school, for its part, didn’t exactly cover itself with glory by allowing him to go back to class without searching this backpack or locker.

This case is going to be with us for quite some time. I also have a feeling the gun people are simply biding their time and waiting until some of the spotlight has dimmed before they Well-Actually into a defense of the Crumbleys. It’s gonna be ugly.

Time will reveal more, but I’ll say, just to wake up on Saturday and see the entire family arrayed in mugshots, all occupants of the same county jail, was surreal.

Then I ran my Saturday-grind errands, had dinner with a friend and watched U-M win the Big 10 championship. So it was a good weekend after all.

Now it’s the week, and I have no energy. Half the people I know have Covid now, so I’m hoping it’s not a prelude to that. Pfingers crossed and pfaith in Pfizer, anyway. I’ve been careful, but not 2020-careful.

Fresh thread for now, and we’ll hope for something more stimulating in a day or two.

Posted at 9:20 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 53 Comments
 

All over the place.

At Eastern Market Saturday, I saw a familiar face – a downtown homeless guy, temporarily relocated to a higher foot-traffic area.

If I recall correctly, he’s an addict, and he looked even worse than the last time I saw him, pre-pandemic. He’s also fairly young and pretty smart. Once he asked for money from my editor as we walked back from lunch, and my editor, the softest touch in the world, stopped to peel off a couple of bucks for him. He rarely just forks over the cash, however, and as a true journalist, likes to engage in some small talk at the same time. Soon he was offering to help the guy get a state ID so he could apply for jobs, and I ducked into a coffee spot for an espresso while they hashed it out. When I came out, the homeless kid was saying, “…but there’s an opportunity cost for me in that situation, too,” and all I could think was: Kids, don’t do hard drugs.

Tuesday is election day, and I’m working again. Same precinct. This will be my fourth one there, and I think I’m going to ask for a transfer to the absentee counting boards for 2022, where there will at least be constant work, rather than the long stretches of ass-numbing crickets in our sleepy little precinct. The area we serve is pretty poor, hit hard by depopulation, and turnout is generally abysmal, even by Detroit standards. I think we had 35 voters, total, in August.

But I’m doing my part. I got my Covid test, copied my CDC vax card, printed out my assignment, and will be there at 5:45 a.m. ready for 14 hours in a mask. It’s important.

I know the crowd here skews older, but I have to ask: Do any of you watch comic-book movies? I made it through “Black Widow” on the flight home a couple weeks ago, and at the end had the same reaction I have to all the previous ones I’ve tried: Well, that was a movie. They’re so, what’s the word? Boring. The hero’s journey, spiced with several action sequences, ending with the sequel setup. Plus, if you haven’t followed the Marvel franchise through however many films they’ve squeezed out of it, you get the sense you’re missing in-jokes and backstory the producers simply assume you are familiar with. It’s like millions and millions are spent on people who go to various Comic Cons around the country and stand in line for four hours to listen to colloquia on Spider-Man.

Honestly the most interesting part of “Black Widow” was examining Florence Pugh’s remarkable heart-shaped face. Talk about a movie-star mug. Now to see if she can continue to deliver performances.

If I seem a little aimless today, it’s because I just finished a long story and feel like I’m finally caught up with everything I missed during my time away. And I had too much to drink last night – didn’t rip the knob off, just poured two cocktails into an empty stomach – and feel like my best strategy for today is a bike ride and a nap and maybe some TV. So here’s my new favorite picture: Kate and the band at their show Friday night (which we missed). They were Josie and the Pussycats! I love it. See you later this week.

Posted at 1:01 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 53 Comments