Glum and glummer.

I’m thinking of going limp. What can I do to fend off the disaster bearing down on us in November? Vote, of course. That’s easy. Speak up. No shortage of that going on. But otherwise, I think I have to disengage, at least a little, from the doomscrolling. It’s not good for me, or anyone else.

Sunday morning is a good example of why. Almost the whole NYT op-ed section is full of Doom, so I turned to a reliable quality read, M.L. Elrick in the Free Press. His column today is about Kwame Kilpatrick, the disgraced former Detroit mayor granted clemency by Donald Trump in the final hours of his presidency. He’s up to his old tricks, needless to say. In the last four years he’s married, gone into “ministry,” and is living large — very large — while ignoring the money he owes to the city and to the IRS. He’s accomplishing this via a number of tried-and-true strategies — putting things in his wife’s name, or a company name — and doesn’t care what anyone thinks, because there’s a sucker born every minute.

Now he’s working to repay the only debt he feels obligated by, to Trump, in this case, an appearance at an event called “Let Us Reason Together: Our Faith, Our Values, Our Politics.” Elrick attended. The column is paywalled, but I’ll quote a few snippets beyond my three-paragraph limit here:

I’ve said for years that Trump and Kilpatrick are white and Black versions of the same person: charismatic, compelling, energetic, engaging, egotistical, materialistic, vain, thin-skinned, utterly untethered to the truth, quick to blame others — especially the media — for their self-inflicted wounds and, yes, horny. And now they share convictions, ranging from the kind juries hand down after a trial to a belief that Trump should be returned to the White House.

…As I left Monday’s event, after participating in a convivial but unanticipated photo op with Kilpatrick, I couldn’t stop thinking: Trump gave Kilpatrick his freedom, but if Hizzoner helps persuade enough Black voters to abandon the Democratic Party, Kilpatrick could help give Trump the world.


…Kilpatrick told his audience there are many reasons he supports Trump. Like Apostle Ellis Smith, the evening’s co-host, Kilpatrick hit on conservative flashpoints like gender identity. He said the Democratic Party he helped lead while serving in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1997 to 2002 “doesn’t exist anymore” and that he was shocked Democrats supported laws that said children don’t have to talk to their parents before seeking a sex change. He said he never would have let such a law pass when he was a legislator, adding, “we have come to a transformational time.”

Kilpatrick said style is another reason young Black men are turning to an old white man (Trump is 78).

“Because people like somebody to be real,” he said, adding that Trump “is saying it in a way like we’re in the back of the house talking.”

Kilpatrick said he met with Trump and, “he’s a real cool guy for sure. Real cool, real comfortable. But he’s smart.”

And how was this speech landing?

Aeisha Reeves, of Clinton Township, said she is preparing to become more active and outspoken.

“I really loved his honesty today,” she said of Kilpatrick. Even though she didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 or 2020, Reeves said: “I plan on voting for him this time.”

Jimmy Lee Tillman II, who said he is the son of civil rights activist and longtime Democratic Chicago Alderwoman Dorothy Tillman, told me he came from Chicago to hear Kilpatrick.

“We’re here on the ground and we’re trying to bring the victory home for Trump. And Detroit is going to play a key role,” Tillman said. “When you got a voice like Kilpatrick and a base, that’s all you need.”

I really don’t worry if black people vote for Trump in ones and twos, and I really don’t think Kilpatrick will swing all that many. But I believe far more will stay home, and that’s the dangerous cohort.

I should add that there is a case to be made that Kilpatrick was over-sentenced for his crimes. Public-official corruption, in the federal system, generally carries far shorter sentences than the 27-year bid Kilpatrick was doing, but now Kilpatrick joins Rod Blagojevich in owing his freedom to a fellow criminal. And like Blago, he’s saying thank-you in a way a fellow criminal will understand.

You can see maybe why I need to disengage from some of this. Here’s another picture of those pretty radishes. I’ll see you later this week.

Posted at 10:02 am in Current events, Detroit life | 27 Comments

Saturday morning market.

Haven’t done one of these in a while. I couldn’t resist the colors. They cheered me up. I bought some carrots.

Posted at 8:24 am in Detroit life | 22 Comments

A bad few days.

Jesus Harold Hughes Christ, what a shit-tastic weekend here in the D.

First, Turning Point Action came to town, to hold a three-day convention at Huntington Place, formerly the TCF Center, formerly Cobo Center, aka the vote-counting venue that all these morons believe was the site of “the steal,” as in Stop The, etc. No, I don’t know why they came to a blue city in a purple state, but I suspect it was to rub the Dems’ noses in their recent alleged gains with young people and black people. Anyway, that’s how it turned out. They picked up endorsements from ex-mayor and federal prisoner Kwame Kilpatrick (given clemency by Trump in the final hours of his presidency), as well as a couple of rappers. They also held a “roundtable discussion” in a black church, although from the photos, there sure are a lot of very light-skinned black people in that church, if you know what I mean.

I’m watching Twitter reports from the final day now. Jack Posobiec brought out a special guest — Alex Jones. I know I may be offending a few of you when I describe Republicans as across-the-board bad people, but when a suppurating infection like Jones gets a big welcome anywhere, there is simply no other way to describe the people cheering. A man that every decent person, of any party, of any political persuasion, should want to see standing on a corner wearing a barrel and holding a sign reading WILL CLEAN TOILETS WITH MY TONGUE FOR FOOD getting a standing O? There’s no other word for people who would clap for him.

But it wasn’t all sweetness and unity downtown. Nick Fuentes, the racist antisemite and blah-blah-blah, tried to hold his own convention, at the Russell Industrial Center in the city’s North End. It…didn’t go well:

The leader of a controversial rightwing group canceled their conference in Detroit, alleging they were kicked out of the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, where he said they had plans to hold events. The move comes after Detroit police had responded to a dispute involving the group on Friday.

Nicholas Fuentes of the America First Political Action Conference said Saturday on social media that, on Friday, the group was setting up the stage at the industrial center when people with the center told them they would not be allowed to proceed. Fuentes says they had a contract for the venue.

The story has no details on what might have happened, but my guess would be the venue realized too late who had booked their facility and pulled the plug. It’s not a convention center like Huntington/TCF/Cobo — more of a raw post-industrial factory-type vibe — but it is in Detroit, its main users are artists, etc., and if I were one of the paying tenants, I’d be dropping Molotov cocktails into that den of racists. Although it might have been fun to see it play out; a history blogger recently surfaced a quote from a long-dead but not forgotten Detroit city councilman, Ken Cockrel:

Now that would have made the weekend worth saving.

Fuentes went over to the other rats’ nest and did this before he was kicked out:

On Saturday evening, Fuentes was seen on a livestream with a megaphone addressing a crowd below him outside Huntington Place. Fuentes said “this is not a free country any more.” He railed against what he called the “Jewish mafia” and heaped praise on Henry Ford, calling him a visionary who was attacked for his antisemitic views. He again slammed Israel as the crowd chanted “Christ is King” and “Down with Israel.”

OK, then. What could make this worse? Well, Trump showed up, but for once didn’t make much news, because then we had…a mass shooting. At a fucking splash pad.

Nine people were hit. One 8-year-old boy, shot in the face, is fighting for his life, and his mother, 29 weeks pregnant at the time, was hit in the abdomen. The fetus died. Another couple was there with their two children, 2 and 7 months, and both parents were hit. It was a terrible, terrible scene in Rochester Hills, an Oakland County suburb, where people move to get away from the violence in the city. No chance in these United States, sorry about that.

The gunman? Dead, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the trailer where he lived with his mother, who was not home at the time. Paywalled, but the gist:

Shelby Township — The semiautomatic rifle found on the kitchen table of the alleged gunman who shot nine people at a Rochester Hills splash pad Saturday was weighing on the minds of residents in the Dequindre Estates mobile home park as they wondered Sunday if they could have been potentially his next victims.

The gunman was Michael William Nash, 42, Oakland County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Huber said Sunday.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a late Saturday night press conference that the gunman was a Shelby Township resident who lived in a mobile home park and had a history of mental health issues, but he didn’t identify the suspect. The gunman was found dead by law enforcement with a self-inflicted gunshot less than two miles away from the splash pad, Bouchard said, and had an “AR platform” semiautomatic rifle on the table.

You know this story: “Mental-health challenges,” etc.:

“His mom was super friendly and nice and talkative and kind to everyone she saw,” Roser said. “We never really saw him. He never came out of the house. And when he did, he didn’t even say hi back to us when we would acknowledge him. … We’re a very friendly community. He was just to himself. He was very quiet and didn’t want to be a part of our community.”

But it’s OK. The head of the state GOP said he was praying for everyone involved. I’m sure that will help.

Now we’re looking at a solid week of above-90-degree temperatures. It’s just gonna get better!

Posted at 3:10 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 28 Comments

My big day.

The first person to wish me a happy Mother’s Day was on Saturday. Total stranger, just “happy Mother’s Day” as I walked past, so I said, “Same to you, or to your wife or whatever.” Kinda weird.

More HMDs came at Eastern Market, and today, on actual Mother’s Day, I got several just pushing my cart at Kroger, again from strangers.

I did not post social-media photos of my mother, nor of Kate and me (“the one who made me a mother” is the usual verbiage, I believe), and in fact didn’t even see her, but she called from Berlin. She comes home tonight, and we’ll observe this holiday at some point, I guess.

“The Derringers don’t set a lot of store on the Hallmark holidays,” I told her when she called, which we say every year; it’s kind of a joke.

Who made Mother’s Day into such a huge thing? (Social media.) Mitch Albom wrote a drippy column about how much he misses his own mom, and all I could think was, “then celebrate some mother in your family, or even your own wife, dumbass.” But no one listens to my thoughts but me. We all miss our dead mothers, if they were good ones.

Hope yours was good. I washed all my bedding and changed the sheets, restocked all our provisions. Alan potted annuals and our usual herb array. The growing season is on.

And, because it’s an election year, this is happening, too:

Four words in the location tag, three of them misspelled. That’s MAGA for you.

We won’t be attending, but four years ago, we saw one in progress, going past our shoreline. I think we passed through the rump end, heading back to the marina. Here’s hoping for a dangerous thunderstorm, and at least two non-fatal sinkings.

There’s an interesting, alas paywalled, story in the News this morning, about a woman suing Detroit Animal Care and Control after her husband was fatally mauled by three free-roaming pit bulls or pit mixes or “American Staffordshire” mixes or whatever. Bully breeds or mixes, all. My friend Dustin and I call ourselves breedists where pits are concerned. One attacked and nearly killed his family’s Bichon, years ago; I just don’t like or trust them. I know they can be wonderful dogs, that it’s irresponsible owners who make them that way, all of that. It doesn’t change my opinion: Where pits are concerned, proceed with caution. Always. (Actually, that’s not bad advice with all dogs, but some kind of sweep that caution off the table when they jump on you and lick your face.)

Anyway. This woman is alleging that the department knew the couple who owned these dogs were irresponsible, etc., but the part that caught my eye is this:

The lawsuit also names a nonprofit called Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control, which supports the city agency by supplementing its budget, applying for grants, holding fundraisers and forming relationships with donors and foundations. Some of those relationships have been with national organizations that have pushed for lower euthanasia rates in shelters.

The lawsuit contends the city allowed the nonprofit to “exert extensive influence” on animal control as to how and when the city’s dangerous animal code is enforced in exchange for the money the nonprofit gets from being affiliated with some of the national organizations.

“While animal lives were being spared, dangerous animals remained and unaddressed and ever-present threat to the safety and lives of people within the City of Detroit,” the lawsuit reads. It called the no-kill model “utterly ineffective, reckless and deadly as it concerns dog owners like the Goodmans, and dogs owned by them.”

I don’t know anything about this nonprofit, but that they are against euthanasia, etc., absolutely does not surprise me. If there’s one thing that has changed enormously over the course of my life, it’s been the way we treat dogs. Some of these changes have been good, although I think we’ve gone overboard on many of them. Dogs in affluent communities like mine live better than human children in Detroit. We no longer open the back door, let Fido out, and collect him at the end of the day. If you lost your dog back then, it was because “he ran away,” i.e. got hit by a car. I step in way less dog poop than I did as a child, when virtually no one picked it up. A new dog park opened in my community over the weekend, and I’ll be taking Wendy for some r’n’r when I get a chance. Of the whole fur-baby thing I will say little other than this: I dislike that term. It disrespects an animal’s essential nature. Anthropomorphism: bad.

At the same time, I’m flabbergasted by what people are willing to spend, and risk, in their efforts to keep frankly bad dogs alive. Years ago, The New Yorker published a lengthy essay by a woman whose efforts to “rehabilitate” a dangerous pit bull suggested she was the one who needed therapy, not the dog. My respect for Ira Glass, the “This American Life” host, plummeted after I heard the segment on the show about Piney, another psychotic (and sickly, and weird) dog he kept, even as it utterly took over his life, and that of his wife (from whom he’s now divorced; not sure if Piney was a factor). A segment from the transcript:

Piney’s a smallish, sweet-faced pit bull. Think Little Rascals, not Michael Vick. He’s a rescue, a very pretty dog, white with these big light-brown patches. He’s timid. He can get scared of puppies and other animals much weaker than he is. But when he gets anxious, he sometimes attacks people.

He has to wear a muzzle whenever he goes anywhere outside Ira’s apartment, including the office. Ira and his wife never have friends over, because Piney would go after them. Piney is fearful and anxiety prone. And he has to take Valium to keep from being even more aggressive.

Ira Glass: It’s almost like somebody who’s fearful who is also a pit bull. If you imagine–

Nancy Updike: It’s exactly that.

Ira Glass: It is exactly that, yeah.

Nancy Updike: It’s not even like it. That is what is it.

Ira Glass: That is what it is. He was a normal dog until a wedding that Anaheed took him to. Anaheed drove up ahead of me, and the dog was there with her and was a puppy. And all these people were hanging around.

And there was a moment where he bit the host’s daughter, Hope, who was 9 or 10 at the time. He just got up off the floor, saw her come into the room, walked over, and bit her. And then he bit a friend of ours, Vicky, her son.

Nancy Updike: At the wedding, he bit two children?

Ira Glass: He bit two children.

And that was only the beginning of Piney’s adventures. That show aired in 2012, and I expect Piney’s gone to dog heaven by now, and even though I know it can’t possibly be true, I’d hope it was before he reached the end of his natural life, because that dog was damaged, and needed to be put down. Humanely, of course; I’m not suggesting the Kristi Noem solution. But this mania to rehabilitate animals can go — and has gone — too far.

The people in Detroit who owned the dogs who killed the man whose wife is suing were bad owners, period. Those dogs had gotten loose and bitten people before. They should have been confiscated, and killed. Again, to let them live, or to try some sort of “rehabilitation,” misunderstands their nature. A dog can’t talk, can’t reason with you. It can’t tell you it understands why biting is bad and it needs to stop. A biting dog either needs to be super-duper securely confined, or euthanized.

OK, then. Time to get in a workout and try to make sense of the week ahead.

Posted at 10:01 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 22 Comments

R.I.P., John Sinclair.

Apologies for no post coming into Monday. Honestly, I was kinda empty, and in cases like this, it’s best to respect the dry well and let it refill.

Then, today, John Sinclair died. :::cracks knuckles::: Ok, then.

If you don’t know who he was, no worries. He was strictly a local celebrity who briefly went national, if you’re the sort of obsessive music fan who reads the liner notes. He’s most often described as the manager of the MC5, a local activist in the hot heart of the ’60s, an unapologetic stoner who co-founded the White Panther Party and lured John and Yoko to Ann Arbor for a benefit after he was sent to prison for giving two joints to an undercover cop. You might remember the White Panthers from one point in their multi-point manifesto: Total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock ’n’ roll, dope and fucking in the streets.

I can’t recommend my friend Bill McGraw’s obit in the Freep highly enough; he really captured the guy, including his rock-solid, lifelong sense of humor and absurdity. The White Panthers weren’t Maoist scolds, or even 100 percent serious, and damn, I’d have liked to party with those guys.

I only met Sinclair once, although you could often spot him at this or that event around town. He’d been in declining health for some time, getting around with a walker or in a wheelchair, but his mouth was always in good shape. After marijuana was fully legalized in Michigan, a local attorney held a news conference in his conference room, and Sinclair was a guest. There wasn’t much news coming out of the event, something about a lawsuit, but at one point Sinclair went off on a recent story in one of the papers, that had showcased police concern for what might happen to their drug-sniffing dogs in this new era. “They’re boo-hooing about their dogs!” Sinclair raged. “Their fucking dogs!” The TV reporters despaired of a spicy clip they couldn’t use, but I laughed. And I quoted him accurately in my story.

He wasn’t all about weed, as this passage from Bill’s obit notes:

In 1972, after having been freed from prison for his marijuana conviction, Sinclair found himself in more serious difficulty. A federal grand jury indicted him and two other White Panthers, Plamondon and Jack Forrest, for conspiring to dynamite a clandestine CIA recruiting office on Main Street in Ann Arbor in 1968. The FBI maintained Plamondon planted the bomb.

After U.S. District Judge Damon Keith in Detroit ruled against the government for tapping Plamondon’s phone without a warrant, the three hippies squared off against the Nixon Justice Department in a landmark wiretapping case before the high court in Washington. Sinclair and friends won, in a unanimous decision that scuttled Nixon’s national legal strategy against numerous other radicals. It was a major defeat for the self-proclaimed law-and-order president.

“When that case came down, every pending Black Panther, Weatherman, antiwar conspiracy case in the country had to be dismissed,” said Hugh (Buck) Davis, a Detroit lawyer who worked on the Sinclair appeals as a recent law school graduate, with nationally known legal heavyweights William Kuntsler and Leonard Weinglass, fresh from defending the Chicago 7. “They were all based on illegal wiretaps.”

Good for him.

John Sinclair got high every day, and moved to Amsterdam for a while to make it easier, but he came back. Detroit is a pretty lawless town, and getting marijuana isn’t exactly difficult, even when it was a crime. Or, as he put it:

Detroit, Sinclair said, “was the place where you could hear jazz all night long and cop weed or pills whenever you wanted to.”

So farewell, John. As a final note, here’s a piece of research Bill passed along to me when he was composing his pre-written obit. Note the police description of a jam session: “…a party at which the participants entertain themselves with bongo music and marijuana.”

Posted at 2:17 pm in Detroit life | 11 Comments

Tony on the town.

One of my most treasured former colleagues is Bill McGraw, who spent his career — virtually all of it — at the Detroit Free Press, and now, in retirement, contributes weekly flashback stories for readers who either never knew, or forgot them. This week’s was a corker:

He was an outgoing guy. He introduced himself as Tony Jones.

But Detroit police found him suspicious, with his fancy cameras, British accent and habit of jumping out of a rented orange car to shoot close-up photos of cops arresting suspected criminals. He had no current ID.

It was January 1974. Crime was a big problem in Detroit. Cops were jumpy. So they hauled him off to the old 1st (Central) Precinct, and there they discovered the truth.

His full name was Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, the Right Honourable 1st Earl of Snowdon. He was a global celebrity, the husband of Princess Margaret, the younger sister and only sibling of Queen Elizabeth.

Yes, the very same. Tony Jones wasn’t really arrested, more like detained. He was in Detroit taking pictures for a Times of London assignment on the American “urban crisis.” We know Lord Snowdon as a portraitist, especially of the royal family. He did a set of Princess Diana late in her life that was really smashing, and I can’t find it now; I seem to recall her hair was wet and slicked back, and she looked amazing, but oh well. But he was also a good photojournalist, with the right instincts to get in close and be fearless.

He tried to stay Tony Jones, but the secret got out, and it got a little silly:

The Free Press saw an opportunity. It assigned a young female reporter, Detroiter Toni Jones, to take Londoner Tony Jones out for a night on the town. Toni Jones brought a friend, and Aris came along, too. Jones, err, Snowdon, was a good sport. Toni Jones described him in her story as modest, easygoing and witty.

They hit several long-gone night spots. At Lafayette Orleans in Lafayette Park, Snowdon met Kenneth Cockrel, the famous attorney, and appeared not to notice when a patron began heckling the band. At Watts Club Mozambique on Fenkell, Snowdon was introduced to Pistons forward Don Adams.

It’s Watts Club Mozambique that kills me. The long-gone, but spectacularly named spot burned to the ground a few years back, after appearing in an Elmore Leonard novel (“Unknown Man #89”) and playing a major role in black Detroit’s street culture. I’d love to know who came up with the name, and how they settled on it, and let’s ask the internet, and whaddaya know:

The Watts Club Mozambique was established in 1969 by Detroiter Cornelius Watts. Since the early 1960s, the African country of Mozambique had been fighting for independence, Mr. Watt fell in love with the exotic sounding name. By the late 60s, African consciousness had swept to the forefront of American culture and Mr. Watt named his latest venture Watt’s Club Mozambique. He carried the theme on and decorated the interior with bamboo wallpaper and had banana leaves draped around the ceiling. It was a hit from day one.

Never mind whether the guy’s name was Watt or Watts. I think we can all agree that “Mozambique” is a very cool-sounding name, and entirely appropriate for Detroit; the country had an AK-47 on its actual flag for a time, since removed.

The club started with jazz, but it couldn’t turn a profit, so it eventually switched to sort of a black Chippendale’s, with hot-dude dancing for women. There was a legendary dancer named Hawk, who was very popular but decided he could make a lot more money in Vegas, and bought a one-way ticket.

So many crazy stories in this crazy town. This is only one of them.

It was a good Tuesday. The centerpiece was being the guest speaker at my ex-colleague Julia’s class on feature/biographica/memoir writing at Notre Dame. I did not go to South Bend, alas — it was all via Zoom. And although I was dreading spending an hour looking into my webcam, the time flew by and it was a great class. For me, anyway.

And now I’m looking at the results of the Ohio primary, and? Ugh. We’re doomed. Ohio is, anyway.

Posted at 8:49 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 31 Comments

Record release.

Home again. The blind schnauzer and her bouncy baby brother were turned back over to their humans on Friday afternoon, and then the rest of the weekend took off like a rocket ship, which is to say, I had plans for one night, can you believe it? and it left me a little worn down.

But the even keel is back and all is cool. I don’t know what it is about sleeping in someone else’s bed, or a hotel bed, or any bed other than my own, for a few days — it’s different (appreciated), but also weirdly unsettling (less so).

So, Friday. Shadow Show had their record-release parties over two night, Friday and Saturday, both sellouts at a local bar. We went Friday night, and Alan went back Saturday, too. (Me, I could not handle it, after a couple hours of standing on Friday night. My knees were screaming.) But it was a smashing success, and both shows were well-received. They brought in some friends to do guest appearances on individual songs, but the big surprise was the Friday-night encore. They invited Zoe, their old vocalist from the Deadly Vipers days, and they did a short set of their 2015-era songs. I was totally surprised, and it sent me back to their very first gig, when we took them to a blind pig* in the north end of Detroit. A *blind pig is Detroit patois for an illegal spot, and this place was a dark storefront that someone had briefly liberated into an underage nightspot. But the set went off well, even though I can’t tell you how, exactly, they got electricity into the place. And Alan remembers broken glass strewn across the floor; I remember a pile of beer and pop cans in the corner, perhaps waiting for deposit redemption. Whatever, I do remember that the Black Lodge closed a few weeks later, when they tried to stage a burlesque show and it was busted by the police.

Anyway, the shows this past weekend were pretty great. And they got played three times the following day on WDET, so again: Good news. A couple pix, from an admittedly terrible angle because it was crowded as hell. Here’s the bassist for Shadow Show, shown appropriately in shadow:

And here’s the encore, with Zoe looking all sassy:

Now for the break, and the national tour starts at month’s end, with the European leg to follow. If any of you live in Los Angeles — and yeah, I’m looking at you, Mary — you might want to save this date:

It’s not every day that you get to see a girl group with a psychedelic-garage sound perform with marionettes, after all. This is the gig that was cancelled in 2020 for Covid.

And that was the weekend. Tomorrow starts a perfect week — if I play it right, the best balance of work and not-work. I’ll take it.

Posted at 8:54 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 17 Comments

Go Lions.

Needless to say, Detroit has Lions mania this weekend. Everyone’s wearing the merch. A guy was walking the Eastern Market yesterday with his beard dyed blue. There was a drone show Saturday night. Flags flying from every house. The stadium sold 20,000 tickets, even though they’re playing in San Francisco; the game will be displayed on the stadium’s TV screens, a move that a local sportswriter estimates will earn the team another million bucks.

Here at the Nall/Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere, we’ll likely make pulled-chicken barbecue sandwiches and eat ’em in front of the TV. However, I’m going to try to sincerely not care who wins, because my support is, for any team, the kiss of death. There are so many ways to get your heart broken, why ask for another? And so.

Pretty nice weekend, if you forget that we discovered a wet spot in our basement, which led to Alan ripping all the paneling in the rec room down, taking down the insulation, and discovering several large cracks in the foundation. They’re not super-serious, but it’s not the sort of thing that makes one jump up and down with glee. It’ll mean Basement Guys to fix the cracks, then replacing the stuff we ripped out, and at this point I’m just going to shrug and say oh well shit happens. At least we didn’t have a flood.

Then, today, I did a driving tour of Pontiac with a journalist friend. “Over there’s the liquor store where the closing door hit someone, so he shot the guy who didn’t hold the door. …That’s the cemetery where the caretaker saw a homeless guy walking through with a bag of groceries, and they found out he was living in a crypt from the Civil War. … Lotsa shootings around here. …Gang on this street. …Oh, let’s turn in here. It’s a great little neighborhood.” And so on. I purely love journalists’ tours. We see different things than most people.

With that, the kickoff and first score has already happened, so I’m-a watch. Let’s hope I don’t jinx ’em. Go Lions.

Posted at 6:53 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 31 Comments

Loose lips.

MAGA types love to talk. That, and watch movies. They must have “Braveheart” and “The Patriot” running in loops in their houses, and over time, the dialogue seeps into their subconscious, and then out their mouths. My assessment is charitable in that I believe they’re mostly just shit-talkers, but even shit-talkers are responsible for what they say, which brings me to this:

Note the paywall, so no link. But here’s the gist:

There was a recount in a local election in December that “got heated.” Recounts are public events, so:

The event drew attendees who were investigating whether there was some sort of wrongdoing in the election, and it became tense.

And then:

At one point in the day, a person, who hasn’t yet been identified by law enforcement, was overheard saying (the county elections director) was going to be “hanged for treason,” (that same director) told The Detroit News in an interview Tuesday.

The recount turned out the way almost all of them do, in that it didn’t change the result and only shifted the totals by one vote:

But on Dec. 16, a day after (the recount), the Michigan Republican Party issued a press release, saying a “citizen-led investigation,” including a “canvassing mission” of homes in Royal Oak, found some voters who said they had cast ballots in the election but their votes were allegedly not reflected in city records.

“This is a time for Michigan Republicans to stand together, regardless of differing perspectives and fight to eliminate election corruption and ensure that no Michigan voters are disenfranchised due to derelict behavior of election officials,” Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Kristina Karamo said in the mid-December press release. “We will not stand by and see our voices diminished or our presence deleted by dictatorial democrats.”

(The elections director) said some individuals at the recount wanted county officials to investigate the claims, but their allegations fell outside the scope of a recount, which is focused on tallying ballots.

This is so typical of these ignoramuses: Show up at a hearing where the activity is constrained by law to one thing, demand another thing, then yell “dictatorial democrats” when it fails, and then someone says “hanged for treason” to just put the cherry on top.

You watch: If this person is charged, they’ll howl about the Deep State uniparty, blah blah blah. “Hanged for treason” sounds real Mel Gibson-y, like something the patriots of old would do.

(I’m reminded of the first Indiana Jones movie, when he faces a foe swinging a scimitar around all fancy-like. Jones rolls his eyes, pulls out a revolver and shoots the guy. I mean, why is hanging always the preferred punishment of these idiots? The potential for spectators would be my guess, but you can make a show out of a firing squad and not have to build a scaffold.)

Anyway, these idiots are getting on my nerves. Fortunately, they’re destroying themselves. You’ve probably heard about the turmoil within the state GOP, and how the state committee tried to remove the above-mentioned Karamo at a meeting last weekend. But she is telling them she’s not going, and now there are lawsuits being teed up on both sides. It’s a People’s Front of Judea v. the Judean People’s Front all the way down the line, and Michigan Democrats are reacting exactly the way you’d want them to, which is to say: By not making a sound, a statement, or so much as a peep. When your enemies are destroying themselves, don’t interfere, etc.

So. Winter has arrived. We’re supposed to get snow today, and then next week, a deep cold snap. I, however, will not be here. A few weeks back, a friend called to pitch a girlfriends’ week away and I said OK, sure, I’m in. So where will I be while the temperatures settle into the single digits here? MIAMI. I am overcoming my distaste for all things Florida to sit poolside and sip tasty drinks. (Dry January is taking a time out, too, but I’m not going to rip the knob off or anything.) Maybe I can finally beat this respiratory crud.

But I’ll have my laptop, so no break planned here.

Posted at 6:31 am in Current events, Detroit life | 119 Comments

Two cases of bitters.

Topic for today: Is there a bigger hypocrite on the public stage than Clarence Thomas?

The latest ProPublica look at his fishy finances starts out with a banger:

In early January 2000, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was at a five-star beach resort in Sea Island, Georgia, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

After almost a decade on the court, Thomas had grown frustrated with his financial situation, according to friends. He had recently started raising his young grandnephew, and Thomas’ wife was soliciting advice on how to handle the new expenses. The month before, the justice had borrowed $267,000 from a friend to buy a high-end RV.

The gist of the story is, Thomas’ poor-mouthing at conservative events was what led to he and Ginni becoming the latter-day Duke and Duchess of Windsor, freeloading their way across the world, swinging from one rich friend’s guest house to the next. They vacation with billionaires, they take (forgiven) “loans” for shit like recreational vehicles, and so on:

The full details of Thomas’ finances over the years remain unclear. He made at least two big purchases around the early ’90s: a Corvette and a house in the Virginia suburbs on 5 acres of land. When Thomas and his wife, Ginni, bought the home for $522,000 a year after he joined the court, they borrowed all but $8,000, less than 2% of the purchase price, property records show.

Public records suggest a degree of financial strain. Throughout the first decade of his tenure, the couple regularly borrowed more money, including a $100,000 credit line on their house and a consumer loan of up to $50,000. Around January 1998, Thomas’ life changed when he took in his 6-year-old grandnephew, becoming his legal guardian and raising him as a son. The Thomases sent the child to a series of private schools.

I think I may have mentioned last summer, on a long drive, listening to a podcast interview with the director of a film about Thomas’ life. It was impossible not to feel empathy for him, a parent-less boy raised by his terrible grandfather, abused by virtually everyone in his life. His classmates called him “ABC,” i.e. “America’s blackest child.” His grandfather pushes him, hard, in the direction of the priesthood, for his own status-seeking reasons, but the blatant racism of his fellow seminarians drives him away. Law school at Yale exposed him to people who had been coasting on greased skids their entire lives, and Thomas thought at least here he’d graduate into some damn money, but that didn’t happen, either, and he entered government service in the Reagan era, distinguishing himself as a huge asshole at a time when there was real competition for that level. This was at the EEOC, an agency that Reagan would want a huge asshole running.

In short, hurt people hurt people, and Thomas was very good at it.

But what would Thomas, with his famous bootstrap philosophy, think of a person who bought sports cars and houses with practically no money down? He was earning around $176,000 at the time, or $300K in 2023 dollars. He would call that person fiscally irresponsible. And he would be correct. But money seems to be the bass line of so much of Thomas’ resentment. He was delivering big for the nation’s conservatives, and he expected tribute for it. Well, he got it. No one will remember him as a keen legal mind, but rather, as the fat man who rarely spoke, but always ruled predictably.

Breaking Detroit journalism news this afternoon, as local podcaster Charlie LeDuff was arrested last night for domestic violence against his wife. I’m watching the reaction unspool on Twitter. It’s interesting to see how many people are behaving, and commenting, exactly as you’d expect. The guy who loves a shiv when you’re not expecting it has deployed his own. The guy who now works for a right-wing policy shop points out the judge in the arraignment was a protege of the Democratic attorney general. There’s a lot of “not surprised,” which is Duh, because no one who knows, or even heard of, LeDuff should be even mildly surprised by this development.

Not two months ago, he was fired from his contributor’s gig at The Detroit News for calling the aforementioned attorney general a cunt on Twitter. At the time, I described him as “a downward-spiraling journalist who fancies himself a Jon Stewart/Hunter Thompson mashup and desperate to ‘go national,’” and I’ll stand by that. But I won’t do an end-zone dance; it’s sad when someone throws their career away, and he’s been doing so with both hands for quite some time.

If I were his friend, I’d tell him to follow the path of Neil Steinberg, arrested in very similar circumstances 18 years ago, who sobered up and has stayed that way ever since. But we’re not, and he didn’t ask. It’s up to him.

OK, then. Tomorrow is cleaning day. Cleaning and wrapping. As the days tick down.

Posted at 4:47 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 25 Comments