God bless the Jumbotron.

No blogging today, alas. I accepted a friend’s invitation to see Elvis Costello and Steely Dan last night at the venue once and forever known as Pine Knob. It was a hot night and only got hotter when the main act came on. A woman seated in the row ahead of us barfed all over the floor — I honestly don’t think she was drunk, as she seemed to be ralphing mainly gouts of clear liquid. The crew got it cleaned up between acts and a different couple sat down in the adjacent seats. Dustin and I looked at each other and said? Nothing, of course.

The barfer and her husband returned, the barfer’s hair tied up in a ponytail. Maybe she was just overheated.

Anyway, the acts were in good voice and Donald Fagen is still one of my favorite lyricists in pop music. Fortunately, there were visual enhancements:

steelydan

I’m told the kids don’t like Steely Dan, and in fact consider the band the absolute epitome of boomer narcissism, all jazzy pretentiousness and grad-school navel-gazing. Their fans are assholes, they play “music to put your sleazy moves on a drunk woman in a ski lodge to,” they’re for snobs only.

OK. Whatever. I have very specific and generational memories linked to most of their hits, and as for “Aja,” well, let’s just call it a foundational text in my pop-music memory. So the hell with you haters. We all know what you gotta do.

So not much bloggage today, except for this, my old colleague Dave Jones on the poisoning of youth sports. By their parents, of course:

As Hall of Fame acceptance speeches go, John Smoltz’s was not terribly entertaining. He was too careful to mention each and every person who affected his life, growing up as the son of accordion teachers in Michigan, to reach any sort of real connection with the audience during a rather lengthy half-hour.

Until, that is, the last five minutes. The loudest and longest ovation Smoltz received was for the most passionate point he made near the end of his time on the podium at Cooperstown on Sunday.

It was when he tried to talk some sense into all the parents who are relentlessly driving their kids through the nonstop treadmill that is travel baseball. He was speaking of all the kids whose arms are worn out and even damaged by their mid-teens. Whose passion for the game has long since been replaced by a hollow expression, whose onetime thrill in competition has dissolved into some vague sense of duty to their parents’ commitment.

‘Til Tuesday, and beyond.

Posted at 8:59 am in Detroit life, Popculch | 46 Comments
 

The horn section.

The Detroit “scene” — yes, air quotes are definitely called for here — has been growing so quickly that it’s sometimes hard to tell the New Detroit weekend activities from the earlier, more organic and fun variety. One year you’re going on a group bike ride and it’s just a good time, two years later you have thousands of fellow riders and corporate/foundation sponsorship and all the rest of it.

So lately, when I hear that something’s going on somewhere in the central part of town, I’m less likely to think hey, fun and more likely to think parking’s gonna be a four-legged bitch, no doubt.

It was a pleasant surprise to drop by the second annual Crash Detroit festival in its waning hours Saturday and see it was still fun. This is a brass-band gathering, very much in the New Orleans tradition of fun and partying and spontaneity, and we arrived for the last act, the hometown Detroit Party Marching Band:

partymarchingband

A little dark, I know, but I wanted you to get the idea of how they work — no stage, just gather up and start playing. And they play hard. The trombonist nearest to me shed his jacket halfway through the show, but I bet he wished he could shed more. Most of these folks play hard, and it was hot.

Still, in the depths of summer, a good news Sunday. There’s the Bill Cosby story, so much ick in one package:

He was not above seducing a young model by showing interest in her father’s cancer. He promised other women his mentorship and career advice before pushing them for sex acts. And he tried to use financial sleight of hand to keep his wife from finding out about his serial philandering.

Bill Cosby admitted to all of this and more over four days of intense questioning 10 years ago at a Philadelphia hotel, where he defended himself in a deposition for a lawsuit filed by a young woman who accused him of drugging and molesting her.

Even as Mr. Cosby denied he was a sexual predator who assaulted many women, he presented himself in the deposition as an unapologetic, cavalier playboy, someone who used a combination of fame, apparent concern and powerful sedatives in a calculated pursuit of young women — a profile at odds with the popular image he so long enjoyed, that of father figure and public moralist.

Man, I’m not one for idolizing celebrities (with some exceptions), and this is not Monday-morning hindsight, but there was always something off-putting about his Doctor Cosby, American Dad act I found off-putting. I should trust my instinct more often.

Brian Dickerson, my No. 1 reason for reading the Sunday Free Press, had a thoughtful column about the pressures on liberal arts educations these days. I think he nails it — business is trying to outsource its training onto higher ed — and have been saddened at the idea that studying something other than finance, marketing, math and business is somehow worthless. I’ve known many liberal-arts majors who are brilliant business people; knowing Iago’s motivation might be a useful skill in business, in my opinion, but what do I know.

A long read, but absolutely worth it: A long NYT project on crime on the high seas, Pulitzer-worthy, that reminds me to read William Langewiesche’s book on the same subject. A sobering reminder of the cost of civilization, a connection I probably drew from my liberal-arts education.

Oh, and also, this weekend? There was a pie:

cherry

I’m-a eat a piece. Right now. Enjoy the upcoming week.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 30 Comments
 

A little tapped.

Whenever I spend a day writing, I find myself not wanting to spend a night writing. Which explains a dark Wednesday. Guess what I did on Wednesday? Yep.

But we cannot have two dark days, can we? No, we cannot. So let’s start off in that great NN.c tradition of bitching about the weather.

Today it didn’t reach 50 degrees. In fact, it barely reached 45 degrees. It also snowed, and rained, and snowed again. On my way to the parking garage, a three-block walk that can feel like 300, I passed a wan little family headed to the ballpark, dressed for a polar expedition. What a sucktastic night for baseball.

However, it was a good excuse to wear boots for one more day. It’s always a little hard to put some nice boots away for the summer.

I guess in the Department of Following Up on Stuff, I should note that the 78-year-old man on trial for having sex with his Alzheimer’s-afflicted wife beat the rap. What a terribly sad story, and what a waste of judicial resources. I hope he enjoys what years he has left.

I’d say it’s also not looking good for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who made the mistake of flipping off a camera in his cell, now a nice exhibit for the prosecutors who want to give him the needle. He’ll get it, I expect, but for once I agree with his defense team; it’s far from a definitive message. He may well have been saying f.u. to the camera itself, which I don’t think anyone would welcome in a personal space.

There’s also talk of a “smirk,” another expression it’s unwise to wear in a court of law.

Amy Schumer isn’t everyone’s cup of dirty tea, but if you’re in a safe office or with headphones, you might like this — “Last Fuckable Day.” I know I did.

Weren’t we talking about teratovas the other day? Ew.

With this weak, thin effort, it’s my bedtime. Zzzz.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life | 37 Comments
 

A day downtown.

I don’t get to the office as often as I should, although I do when I can, and I’ll be going more now that the weather is breaking and commuting isn’t such an ordeal. What’s the truism? If you want people to get things done, let them work at home. If you want them to be creative, put them together. Lately I have a lot to get done, so I’ve been staying home.

But today I went in. I had to do a radio show first, then headed to the office. Three doors from my building, a homeless man brayed, “You a sexy lady! Yeah, you like Beyoncé. You woke up like this!” I guess I should have scowled, but the thought of being compared to Beyoncé is so absurd I had to laugh. Another homeless guy heard this and added, “I second that!”

I should get into the office more often. The other day one of my colleagues was talking on the phone, looking out the window, and saw a hooker servicing a client in the alley, next to a dumpster. The best moment? When she stood up, lifted her skirt, turned around and offered the goods, and the john backed off, waving his hands hell, no.

She said that when she told this story later, the most common reaction is, “Did you record it?” No.

I realize those two anecdotes may make it sound like I work in some kind of cesspool of vice. I don’t. The hooker story was amazing, as Detroit has cleaned up its downtown and central city so much that you just don’t see that sort of stuff at all anymore, let alone in broad daylight. As for the homeless guys? Well, they have eyes, don’t they?

A little bloggage:

This has been going around a couple days, but it is hilarious and probably NSFW: Martha Stewart, absolutely killing it at the Justin Bieber roast. Of course she didn’t write the material, but she delivered it so well, you’d think she did.

Drew Miller, a Detroit Red Wing, almost lost an eye when he was hit in the face by a skate on Tuesday. Fifty stitches. Very scary. But when he appeared at a presser today and I saw the picture, all I could think is, when that thing heals, he is going to be the sexiest man alive. Scars are so fabulous, and a good facial scar is the best of all. I know how sick that sounds, but you’re looking at the country’s other No. 1 Omar fan.

The Hoosier fiasco continues. A friend there emailed this week to say, “I am fully fed up, fed up of course with dingbats who claim that RFRA doesn’t target gays, but also fed up with people who act as if this is an anti-gay Kristallnacht. It was a hamfisted sop by Rs for their reactionary base, a kind of consolation prize because the anti-gay marriage amendment was shot down. RFRA was a clumsy overreach by the ruling clique, and now they and Gov. FumbleBlunder are eating the shit they cooked in their own kitchen.” Shit cooked in their own kitchen — that’s it exactly. Meanwhile, here’s yet another analysis, by Amy Davidson at the New Yorker. There’s not a great deal new here, but a good turn of phrase that doesn’t bring to mind shit in a kitchen:

Pence said that the Indiana law “simply mirrors federal law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1993”—which is correct only if the mirror is the kind that adds twenty pounds when you look in it.

Have a great Thursday, all. We’re over the hump.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments
 

Dirty.

Hey, guys. This is where Alan and I were last night: The Dirty Show, Detroit’s annual erotic-art exhibition, although “erotic” isn’t the word that came to mind most often last night. “Dirty” did, though.

Photography is forbidden, but I saw so many people breaking the rule I dared to capture these dancers, and a bouncer shut me down after a single frame. So apologies for the pic, but you get the idea:

dirtyshow

We went to see the opening-night performer – John Waters. He did a version of “This Filthy World,” his one-man show, another aptly named entertainment, with the distinct advantage of being very funny.

Then I got a text about David Carr, and, well…

But we stayed out late, and I have a buttload of work to do now, so short shrift. I’ll tell you all about it on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Posted at 7:55 am in Detroit life | 75 Comments
 

Losses.

For the past few years, Kate has had an upright bass teacher who is, well, a real teacher: Dan Pliskow. Early on, Alan accompanied her to a lesson. She muffed a walking line and said, “I’m sorry.” And he said, “You never say that in here. You just go again. Don’t apologize.” And he smiled, because what are we doing here? Playing some jazz. No need to get upset.

Dan was motoring well into his 70s, playing lots of gigs, teaching at Wayne State, teaching private lessons in his home. And then, as these things sometimes go, he took a turn. Cancer. He went into hospice care a few weeks ago and died Sunday, surrounded by his family. He had a lot of family. A while back, he gave me his autobiography, which he wrote when he turned 70, photocopied and passed around. What a treasure; Detroit was a force to be reckoned with in jazz in the middle of the 20th century, and he was in the thick of it – a journeyman musician. It was fascinating, reading about how it was possible, once, for a guy like him to not only work, but work most days a week, in clubs from one end of the metro to the other.

He had a chance to replace Paul Chambers in a tour, but couldn’t — he had four kids at home. So he played in the Playboy Club house band and on the Soupy Sales show, here and there, cobbling together a living a gig at a time. We watched the Elaine Stritch documentary a few months ago, and caught a glimpse of him in her stage band when she played at the Detroit Music Hall.

He was such a sweetie. I will miss just knowing he’s in the world.

Here’s a video that looks like it was shot about a month ago, and you can tell he was sick, but his elfin personality shines through. One thing I regret: I never got him and Kate together at the Detroit bass players’ annual picture at the Motown Museum.

Any other bloggage today?

Kate’s band, which recently shortened their name to the Deadly Vipers, dropped an album last week, and you all are invited to listen and enjoy. No pressure to buy, but some of you may be rock ‘n’ rollers.

Alan’s petting Wendy so much to her liking that she’s nearly moaning. That’s winter. Time to sign off.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life | 19 Comments
 

We want it chunky.

A quick one today, sorry. I had a full weekend that stretched into a potluck birthday party Sunday night, my customary blogging time. I was puzzling over what to make – my cooking is in a creative lull; must be the weather – when inspiration appeared in the scowling, ghost-white face of none other than Jack White:

Pallid rocker Jack White is pretty pissed after some enterprising college students leaked a copy of his tour rider containing — amongst other ridiculous parameters — an extremely specific recipe for extra-chunky guacamole. The full contract in all its glory was posted online by the University of Oklahoma student newspaper The Oklahoma Daily just days before White was scheduled to perform at the college on Monday. Though the show went on as scheduled, the college has now been blacklisted by White’s agency.

The answer, then, was obvious:

guacamole

Personally, I think it could use a little more heat and some garlic, but all in all, Jack’s guacamole game is strong. It all got eaten, anyway. Here’s the recipe, if you’d like to try it. The thing about the pits keeping it from browning is b.s., I should add; my newly learned trick is to squirt half a lime over the top and seal it with plastic wrap. When you serve, stir in the puddled lime juice and there you are.

So now the week begins anew, and I’ll see you here tomorrow with a little bit more than this, eh?

Posted at 8:29 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 40 Comments
 

All the options.

So we were just about to board the People Mover to Cobo for the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview, i.e. the Auto Prom, when Alan said, “Oh my god, I forgot the tickets.” This is the sort of thing you brain your husband for, but fortunately, his office is only two blocks away, so I cooled my heels in the lobby for 20 minutes, mostly people-watching but for some reason this carpet looked very trippy. I think it must have been freshly shampooed, because I don’t remember it being this vivid before:

carpet

And soon Alan was back and we were in. The entrance is right near the Ford space, so of course first stop was the star of the show:

fordGT1

That’s the Ford GT. Jalopnik got a little hot under the silks for this, and it’s easy to see why. Supposedly 45 minutes after the presser wrapped up on Monday, you still had to throw an elbow to get close to it. Was the greater threat the puddles of drool or the palisade of middle-age erections? I dunno, but she does have a sweet heinie, don’t she?

FordGT2

You can look, but you cannot touch; she’s one of the cars that sits behind a barrier. You can see why.

At the other end of the spectrum, this little cutie got some attention, too — the Chevy Bolt, an electric vehicle with a 200-mile range and an under-$30K price tag (“after federal incentives,” ahem), aka the Tesla for the rest of us:

bolt

I have yet to drive a Volt, so I can’t tell you much about how all-electric feels on the road, but my friends who’ve had them are very pleased. And while we’re talking zero emissions, heads up, Californians:

subaru

This Subaru is a hydrogen fuel-cell sedan, “and it fills up in less than two minutes,” the product specialist said. “I guess that’s great, if you can find a hydrogen filling station,” I said, and she replied, “And that’s why we’ll only be selling them in California.” So there. Enjoy your visit to the frozen Midwest, little Subaru. I like your color, anyway.

“Product specialist” is what they call car-show models now, and at the domestic booths, they are a far cry from just eye candy. Most of them didn’t even wear dresses; this pants ensemble is pretty standard:

corvette

That ‘Vette has a sharky face, doesn’t it? And that’s about the extent of my interest in Corvettes these days. I mean, I get their appeal, but contemplating owning one is like considering taking delivery of a peregrine falcon or something — it’s just not going to happen.

Speaking of fetching fannies, isn’t this Mini coupe just the bee’s knees?

mini

I love how the taillights make two halves of a Union Jack. “Ooh, when can I buy one?” I trilled to the guy behind the wire. “Never,” he said. “It’s a concept.” Way to break a girl’s heart.

Hey, look, it’s Miss Michigan and what is she doing in an import’s show space? Pointing at a Maserati, that’s what:

missmichigan

I was so struck by her severe hairstyle and distinctly not-Missy gown that I asked what ever happened to Texas hair on Misses. She made a face. So lovely, though; glad to see the raven-haired girls in their ascendancy.

Every year I’m taken aback, again, by the strange visual elements of Auto Prom — the super-bright lights tend to make everyone look like they’re in a Fellini movie. I’m disappointed I saw none of the celebrities who attended, which is to say, I missed Aretha. The fashion trends this year were unremarkable. Lots of black, lots of fab shoes, men in kilts, boobs on display — the usual. This lady wore a churchy hat, but I think it worked on her, don’t you?

viewfrombehind

And with that, your correspondent’s feet are killing her and she’s going to head home and peel out of her Spanx. But first, she’s going to point at a Maserati, too.

pointing1

Goodbye until next year!

Posted at 5:19 pm in Detroit life | 68 Comments
 

Saturday night fire.

So a few days ago a Facebook event floated through my timeline. It was for a massive Christmas-tree fire at a park in Detroit on the Grosse Pointe border. It was said to be an “unofficial fundraiser” for the Detroit fire department. You didn’t have to bring a tree, but you were encouraged to drop a few bucks into the bucket. Alan is trying to get over a persistent cold before his hell week commences (auto show), so I figured I’d stop by, see the sights and come home.

I arrived to find a couple hundred people milling around a medium-size pile of Christmas trees, and not one firefighter in evidence. Nor a bucket, nor any sense of organization. The stated time for the ignition came and went, and a rumor began to spread through the crowd: It was called off. Something about the fire marshall (not that a fire marshall was anywhere around, either). How did anyone know this? Who knows? It’s a bunch of people walking around in the freezing dark, waiting for a fire to start.

So someone started the fire.

fire1

I went to a Christmas-tree fire last winter, but it was held later in the month, so the trees had longer to dry out and went up like matchsticks. These trees took a little longer to catch, but pretty soon we had a pretty good inferno going.

fire2

At least one person had speakers in the bed of a pickup, and of course they were playing Motown, because this is Detroit, so soon it was a Detroit party with a big fire and a wind like a knife (18 degrees and a flag-snapping breeze) and everybody drinking and Stevie Wonder singing “Uptight” and hey, Saturday night. I looked out to the road, and who was arriving? The fire department. With lights, but no sirens.

There’s no big climax to this story. The firefighters approached, chatted with a few people, looked around and said, “I guess we’ll be leaving, then.”

I asked one where the bucket was. “What bucket?” “There’s no fundraiser?” “Huh?”

fire3

And with that, the big engine turned around, a few people applauded, and I went back to the car. It was very cold.

I got a new phone recently, and I’m pleased with the camera. One short sub-resolution this year is to learn to take better phone pictures. That’s not bad for point-and-shoot.

So now it’s auto-show week, which culminates in the car prom. I have a dress that makes me look like a desperate old tart and borrowed some swingy earrings. And all I can think is: I hope I don’t get Alan’s ghastly cold.

I don’t think I even have any bloggage. Maybe you do? Let’s hope for a great week ahead.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life | 52 Comments
 

The gales of November.

The lesbian couple at the center of the Michigan challenge to its same-sex marriage ban asked the Supremes to consider their case a week or so ago, and today the AG did the same.

“The history of our democracy demonstrates the wisdom of allowing the people to decide important issues at the ballot box, rather than ceding those decisions to unelected judges,” wrote Schuette, who also cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s prior stance on affirmative action to bolster his argument.

Schuette noted in his filing that in deciding the affirmative action issue, Kennedy discussed the importance of trusting voters to decide significant issues and wrote: “‘It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds.'”

You all know what I do for a living, so I can’t really express an opinion on this, other than to wonder when this country has left the rights of a minority in the hands of the voters, because if we had, there’d still be legal segregation throughout the south, women wouldn’t be able to vote and people of different races wouldn’t be able to marry, either.

Strange night tonight. The wind is howling at a speed that makes it sound like a continuous low moan, and we’re all waiting for the Ferguson grand-jury decision. Downtown, football fans are wandering around, waiting for the Jets-Bills game to start at Ford Field, i.e., the Lions’ home turf. Maybe you heard — there was some snow in Buffalo last week, so Detroit is bailing them out. The Lions gave the seats away free starting Saturday, and whaddaya know? A sellout. Or maybe a freeout. Whatever, the knots of fans who come in from the ‘burbs were already starting to appear when I left work in the gales. Wind always puts me on edge, and I’m not sure why, although I once read that it’s a contributor to domestic abuse in Livingston, Montana, where it blows constantly. I worry about flying tree limbs, lost power and wrecked hairdos. That’s enough to put anyone on edge.

So let’s skip to some bloggage while I pour a glass of wine and catch up on premium cable and chores:

How did I ever live before I met Tom & Lorenzo? “It looks like she skinned some white girl and turned her into a slutty cocktail dress.” Don’t ever change, J-Lo.

I was not the fan of the UVA rape story that many of you are — I found parts of it almost impossible to believe — but I am a big fan of this UVA rape story, which I found believable in every detail. It’s long, but well worth the read. And on the subject in general, Dahlia Lithwick speaks the truth. As usual.

You know what peeves me about these stories about how much students hate the new, somewhat healthier lunches dictated under new federal rules? The unspoken assumption that what they replaced was something wonderful. When you know it wasn’t. #thanksmichelleobama

Speaking of food, it’s time to start cooking. How about you?

Posted at 7:32 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 107 Comments