A full dance card.

A long, hot, busy, tiring weekend, and I’ve got an action-packed couple of days ahead. So if y’all don’t mind, this will be a bit phoned-in.

Fortunately, I took lots of pictures.

First, a bit of old business: I see a few of you were disappointed that we sip Woodford Reserve in any form other than neat or over a single ice cube. I hear you. I felt the same way when a bartender at a downtown Fort Wayne hotel told me that DeBarge, the ’80s pop band, ordered a $500-a-bottle cognac for their after-show drinks, which they mixed with Coca-Cola. But we’re long on good sippin’ whiskey right now, including this adorable find, which we stocked up on in the Iceland duty-free, bringing back bottles for our dog sitters, and one for ourselves. This stuff, Nikka, from Japan:

nikkawhiskey

That’s a 500ml bottle, not the usual 750, which I attribute to Japan being a country with limited storage space, presumably including liquor cabinets. But I love the shape of the bottle, the understated label, and the contents? Quite nice.

On to the weekend, which began with a rare night sail. The worst of the heat was blowing out and the breeze was just about perfect. Rain threatened but never really developed, and we had a long, lovely sunset to enjoy:

GPYCsunset

That spire is the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. We headed down to the mouth of the river, where we could see the skyline:

sylineatsunset

Of course, the other thing you should do when the sun is dropping is occasionally look in the other direction, because photographers don’t call it the golden hour for nothing:

goldenhour

Nice illustration of the breeze there, too. And here we have Heckle, Jeckle and their full extended family. These are cormorants, the shitting, roosting, fish-eating bane of the Great Lakes at the moment:

cormorants

We tacked around the bird party and headed back, catching a nice moonset in the bargain:

moonset

OK, that one was a little Instagrammed. Sue me.

The next day I had a chance to put on my old boots and dig out my chaps, because I had volunteered to help with a Detroit Neighborhoods Day activity, introducing city kids to horses. It was…an interesting day, for a lot of reasons. It was also sweaty, busy work, fitting kids with helmets, getting them onto a couple of willing ponies and leading them around a couple of big circles before pulling them off and putting the next one on. Just when I was thinking I could really use a break, these guys showed up:

blackhorsemen

I didn’t know such a group existed. They brought horses, too — all in western tack. I heard one call another a buffalo soldier, so you get where they’re coming from, i.e., the great tradition of African-American cavalrymen on the Great Plains. As this photo shows, not every rider came dressed for the occasion, but Charles didn’t care. He was an enthusiastic teacher, almost an evangelist for sitting up straight, legs down and putting fear where it belongs, under a pile of manure somewhere. It didn’t quite work with this girl, but she held on gamely for her trip:

riderinadress

It was four hours under a sun that grew hotter by the hour. At the end, I went out for a too-large Mexican lunch and a couple of margaritas, and woke up Sunday with a face so swollen I felt like Jerry Lewis in his prednisone period.

And Sunday was a trip to Defiance for a family reunion. It went the way most family reunions in city parks go. Alan’s sister brought some pictures of previous reunions, including this one of Alan, c. 1979:

youngalan

His Bob Seger period, right there.

Which brings us to right now, Sunday night. Tomorrow is Trump (I hope), Tuesday is a hard deadline, so you may have to look at these pix for a while. In the meantime, you might read this infuriating story by Bill McKibben, about the experience of being tracked by a conservative PAC trying to discredit his work around climate change.

And while I don’t want to load you up with NYT links — I know they’re limited for non-subscribers — this was an interesting essay on a subject of interest to maybe 100 people in the world, i.e., what’s happening to the restaurant scene in northern California as an unprecedented wave of money sweeps over it. I noticed it mainly for the arresting turns of phrase, like this:

I went there twice for work and concentrated both times on the food alone. I was knocked out, especially by a creation called Tidal Pool, which involved a clear littoral broth of seaweed dashi pooling around sea-urchin tongues, pickled kelp and foie gras. I know that I will set off the gag reflex in certain quarters when I confess that, in my view, Mr. Kinch took the sensory pleasure of falling off a surfboard into cold Northern California water and transformed it into the world’s most delicious bowl of Japanese-French seafood soup. Mr. Kinch, I concluded, was the savior sent to bring California cuisine into the 21st century.

How do you remove a sea urchin’s tongue? How is this different from eating ortolans? You tell me.

And when I get an empty 30 minutes, I’m going to read this, Jeb Lund’s account of the GOP convention, because I love Jeb Lund’s stuff.

Once more into the breach.

Posted at 12:12 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 29 Comments
 

Saturday morning market. 

…includes a rare appearance by the wily red currant. 

Posted at 8:23 am in Detroit life, iPhone | 45 Comments
 

Brave new diners.

The sushi was delicious, if you’re wondering. This particular bar/restaurant has a “takeover Tuesday” every week, when guest chefs come in and do something new and different. It’s a cool idea, imperfectly executed, in that the regular kitchen staff and the waitstaff just take the night off. So it’s not just a new menu, it’s new servers and, well, anarchy of a sort. The place was full when I arrived, angling for seating for four. There were no rules about sections or seating, just take whatever you can grab. A six-top arrived five minutes after me and had their eyes on the same table.

(Guess who was sitting at the table, which could have comfortably accommodated five? One guy, working on a laptop, drinking a beer. I tried to displace him through my thought beams.)

Readers, I had to bigfoot the six-top, and readers, I felt bad about it. But when there are no rules, you make up your own.

This new dining culture in Detroit is simultaneously wonderful and baffling. The food is so much better than it was when we arrived, it hardly bears mentioning. But as we saw about a million times on “Top Chef,” just because you can put a great meal on the table doesn’t mean you know how to run a restaurant, and that lesson is harder to learn. Lots of the new places don’t take reservations and many don’t have phones. Nothing like making your way to the hot new place and discovering there’s a 90-minute wait. I have a young friend who sets aside Friday as date night with his girlfriend, and I rely on him for intel on whether I can even get near a hot new place. Lately we find them when they’re only lukewarm; we were delighted to get immediate seating at one farm-to-table something-or-other a few months ago, and the food was quite good. A week later we heard it was on its last legs and would likely close within a month. (It remains open.)

But that sushi was great. Had a pancake something-or-other, and a noodle thingie, and some rolls, and some sashimi, and some vegetable tempura. That’s the other thing about the new dining scene — there are robust vegetarian and vegan options everywhere, and while I’m neither, it’s nice to have someone paying attention to the vegetables, because they’re damn tasty. I recall my last meal at a local chain that’s often recommended by people who live in the ‘burbs. “Sooooo good!” they enthuse. It isn’t, but it has a lot of locations, it’s Italian, and we happened to be in one of their neighborhoods when we were hungry and it was open. I didn’t want a pasta pile or cheese explosion, so I ordered something from the heart-healthy, light menu, a lentil or bean thing I thought might include tomatoes and some Mediterranean seasonings. Utterly devoid of any seasonings, much less Mediterranean ones, it tasted like the gruel they serve on a hospital cardiac ward, dished up by Nurse Ratched. I put down my fork after a few bites and declared I would never, ever spend another dollar in this shithole, or any other of their other locations, and I haven’t, and I won’t.

I can put up with a lot of hipster bullshit when I remember the old alternative.

So! Bill’s speech last night! I didn’t last through it, but I heard the opening, and as he got into the groove, I could tell the old dog still had it. His voice is diminished, his body is diminished, but it’s going to take a lot more to put him down, and he’s a long way from down. So Rachel got her knickers in a twist because he said he “met a girl?” Oh, girl, please. And here I thought you had a sense of humor, or at least perspective. Whatever.

Tonight is POTUS, of course. By the time you read this, he’ll be on Marine One or Limo One or maybe kicking it in his jammies in a nice Philly hotel suite. So tell me how it went, ’cause I won’t see these comments until Thursday morning. As I write this, Gabby Giffords has just given her speech, and oh my. That woman.

So I’m settling in for the rest of it. Have some bloggage:

Jill Stein is just awful.

The incomprehensible mystery of the Clintons’ marriage.

Tonight’s non-convention activity: Reading more Susan Faludi, and trying to decide whether we should refinance the house. Woo, adulting! Have a great Thursday, all.

Posted at 12:18 am in Current events, Detroit life | 65 Comments
 

Saturday morning market.

The transition from market to full-service entertainment district was complete a while ago. 

Posted at 7:56 am in Detroit life, iPhone | 31 Comments
 

Saturday morning market. 

Because life isn’t all vegetables and terrorism. 

Posted at 8:28 am in Detroit life, iPhone | 47 Comments
 

Flesh and blood.

Although weekends are the time to sleep in, I don’t do it often, and rarely on Saturdays. That’s because I like to go to the Eastern Market on Saturday morning, and the longer you wait, the less likely you are to find a parking place — is there any self-imposed headache of modern life more onerous than the endless search for parking? — and, well, other factors come into play.

This past Saturday, I decided to do a boxing class at 8, come home to shower, and then take Alan with me to the market. That doesn’t happen often, because he does believe in the weekend as a time for late sleeping. We got there around 11. It was ridiculously crowded, but I lucked into a decent parking spot, and at my favorite fruit stand I stood behind a woman who was buying blueberries, raspberries and shelled peas. She had exacting standards about how she wanted all these items wrapped and packed, but I didn’t stink-eye her until she paid with a credit card.

Yes, yes, Square makes it easy to pay with a card at a place like this, if the seller has the doohickey and a good cellular connection. BUT STILL. THIS IS A FARMERS’ MARKET, LADY. Jeez, bring cash. As she was finishing her purchase, the seller said, “This is the last week for peas.”

“What? Why?” she demanded to know. The seller said, with some hesitation, “Because it’s a spring vegetable? And it’s summer now?” This seemed to arrive as a foreign concept to her, this idea that when things are done growing, you’re done buying. But who can blame her? Peas are growing somewhere in the world right now, and for a price, you can get fresh ones on your table. But really, lady, get a clue.

This never happens at 7 a.m.

It was a good weekend. We’re dog-sitting, for this girl:

layla

She’s a miniature schnauzer who belongs to some friends. We’ve known her since puppyhood, and she’s “a bit of a Hapsburg,” as our friend says, which you can read as: Neurotic. Won’t climb stairs, and when she comes here, has a very difficult time moving from rug to floor to rug; the first time she visited, she stood on the front doormat for 15 minutes, refusing to budge.

We all thought she was being a princess, but after half an hour of this in our house this time, it came to me all at once: “You’re blind, Layla. Or close to it.” It explains everything — why she tracks close to walls, why she walks right next to the sidewalk, but not on the sidewalk, all of it. She’s gotten progressively more comfortable through the weekend, but I still think she’s got a serious visual impairment, and sure enough, the breed is susceptible to several.

She wants to run around the house, and if you stand behind her and nudge her with your shin, she’ll scamper from the rug across that shiny hardwood floor, but you can tell it bothers her, that it requires a certain leap of faith. It probably looks like something dangerous.

That’s so often the problem with purebreds, isn’t it? This is why so many Jack Russell people fought so hard against AKC recognition, which only came in the last 15 years. Pedigrees fuck everything up.

We had a brief respite from the heat Saturday, then more of it today. I took a long bike ride for the first time in a while, and it tapped me out. My legs felt sore and I was famished, but fortunately, I’d put a nice rub on a tri-tip earlier, a cut of beef I only learned of recently. I hear it’s very big in California, but until Saturday I’d never seen it in any meat market here. But my butcher had two, so I bought one. Used a NYT recipe, plus their suggestion for the rub. Oh my GAWD was it good. I could have eaten the whole thing by myself, but left some for tomorrow’s lunch. Gaze upon its deliciousness:

tritip

Admittedly, an Instagram filter. But that’s pretty close.

Scant bloggage, but something: The term “government schools” was something I heard in Indiana for some time before we left, so I was puzzled that this NYT story on the phrase’s deployment in Kansas treated it as something new, but there you are. Good god, these people:

Kansas has for years been the stage for a messy school funding fight that has shaken the Legislature and reached the State Supreme Court. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, and his political allies threatened to defy the court on education spending and slashed income taxes in their effort to make the state a model of conservatism.

Somewhere along the way, the term “government schools” entered the lexicon in place of references to the public school system.

“Our local grade school is now the government school,” State Senator Forrest Knox wrote in an op-ed article last year, echoing conservative concerns that the government had inserted itself unnecessarily into education.

The intent was obvious to her, Ms. Massman said. “They are trying to rebrand public education,” she said.

Not to bring you down or anything. Here’s something more uplifting, a story I’d never heard until reading this 20-years-later update — about the day a black teenager saved a white racist from an ass-kicking or worse. A truly uplifting tale.

The week awaits! Fueled with red meat, I’m ready for it.

Posted at 12:03 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 34 Comments
 

The end of a long week.

Ugh, what a week. Busy and brutal in equal measure, with a dose of boredom thrown in. A killer combination. But in the middle, there was this:

Strawberry Moon Paddle #belleisle #detroitriver #detroitoutpost #kayakmichigan

A photo posted by Detroit Outpost (@detroitoutpost) on

That’s me! A bright spot in the week, watching the sun set and the moon rise, on a two-hour tour. A two-hour tooouuuur. We saw a whole bunch of geese on a seawall:

geese

And of course I took a selfie. It was pretty dark by this point, so hence the baseball-size grain-that-isn’t-grain, but here you go:

selfieafterdark

The Detroit River is beautiful, day and night.

I hope by this weekend I feel more or less normal again. We’ll see. In the meantime, a question for the room. How long has Scott Adams been such a twit? Of course you should always be suspicious of an opinion based on the anecdote of a commercial for dishwasher detergent, but what the hell?

I came across Adams the way everyone did, via “Dilbert,” which was hilarious and got to the essential truth of corporate employment years ahead of “The Office.” But as so often happens, you need to separate the art from the artist, because in this case the artist is spending his non-Dilberting time writing these weird blog posts about Donald Trump and men’s rights. It’s like when you discovered Miles Davis was a wife-beater.

Jesus, am I tired. Best wrap this up.

Since I started taking better care of myself, people will occasionally offer some helpful advice. Try blue-green algae, say, or take a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar every day, or whatever. I smile, I nod, and I keep doing what works: Exercise. For sure:

Although we don’t think of it this way, you can make a pretty good argument that exercise is as good as drugs for many conditions. A 2013 meta-analysis of meta-analyses (that’s how much data we have) combined and analyzed the results from 16 reviews of randomized controlled trials of drug and exercise interventions in reducing mortality. Collectively, these included 305 trials with almost 340,000 participants.

Finally, we missed much of fish fly season here in Grosse Pointe. But as you can see from this photo taken night before last, it’s still going on.

Talk soon.

Posted at 12:06 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 88 Comments
 

Crazy talk.

reynisfjarabeach
Which one of those craggy peaks is my daughter? Reynisfjara beach, near Vik, Iceland.

One subject I find endlessly fascinating is how mental illness — specific mental illness in individuals — dovetails with contemporary culture. Once upon a time, paranoid people believed they were literally bedeviled, by incubi and succubi. This gave way to space aliens, which yielded to internet-connected “targeted individuals.” (That’s a fascinating story I just linked; you should read.) Our local electrical utility has been installing so-called smart meters over the last few years, and a number of people have appeared at city council meetings, asking that the city refuse them, because if they’re installed, the utility will know which lights you have turned on, access to your electronic devices, etc., and they have no right to this information. STOP THE SURVEILLANCE STATE, etc.

For as long as I’ve been reading newspapers, people have been killing in the name of God — bombing abortion clinics, drowning their own children, or shooting their friends and family. We understand that when these people say God or Jesus or an angel told them to do these things, they’re nuts, because we understand that the Christian God is about love and understanding.

So when a man whom circumstantial evidence would suggest was a closeted homosexual kills 49 people in a gay bar, common sense would suggest his own shame and impulses had something to do with his motive. But if he pledges allegiance to an Islamic terror group instead, we decide this is Islamic terrorism, that he was “self-radicalized” – even though he showed no other evidence of religious dedication, like time at the mosque or even living by Islamic practices – and that this is part of a global plot that must be answered with an unprecedented policy overhaul.

And that’s crazy, if you ask me.

Maybe what we need now is more Muslim immigration, so we’d read more stories like this, about a Muslim trauma surgeon in Orlando, treating the victims of the massacre. Or like this, about ordinary Muslims in Detroit, who worry about the shitstorm these events bring down on their communities. Coincidentally, they have almost the same lead:

Dearborn Heights — One fearful thought gripped Bissan Harb when she learned about Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, the worst in modern American history: “Please don’t let it be a Muslim.”

and

ORLANDO, Fla. — When Dr. Joseph Ibrahim heard that the attack at the Pulse nightclub may have been linked to terrorism, he caught himself fearing any kind of link to his own Muslim, Middle-Eastern roots.

Please, he thought, don’t let Ibrahim appear anywhere in the gunman’s name.

And with that, I think it’s safe to say we’re 100 percent repatriated after our break. I even spent my first Saturday night home at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Yes, I did. And now that I’ve done it, I never have to do it again. A friend had review tickets, good ones, because he always writes about the pregame scene outside, which I could sum up in a hashtag: #drunkwhitepeople.

That said, it was fun, although by the end I could fairly say I was sick of steel drums, the stupid talking coconut and especially the insistent pandering to the locals. By which I mean? The song – don’t ask me to name it, because I don’t know – about beautiful places. The accompanying video montage started with images of Buffettville, beaches and swaying palms and so on, but transitioned to the cool blue lakes and pine forests of Michigan, before ending with a giant map of Michigan, just in case the drunker members of the audience didn’t get it. “Just once,” I told my friend, “I want to see what happens when the crew loads the wrong video file, and the Texans get North Carolina, or vice versa.” There was also a Glenn Frey tribute – “Take it Easy,” totally defensible – that had some tacked-on images of Gordie Howe. Weak.

But it was an enjoyable evening. And for all the excess in the parking lot – we found one converted school bus with a rooftop deck and hot tub – I thought these folks had the right idea:

buffettinblue

Just a man, his girlfriend, a cooler and a kiddie pool in the back of a pickup truck. Note their ages, too — both 21. And they were by no means the youngest people in the crowd. Give Buffett this: No one has figured out a way to brand-extend the American vacation experience like he has.

OK, have to hit the ground running tomorrow, so this will be it for the day. Many more pictures to come. Tanned, rested and ready for the week.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events, Detroit life | 41 Comments
 

Motel music.

I forgot to tell you about the Movement festival. Not that I went. It was hot as Vulcan’s dick (to steal a witticism from Titus Pullo in “Rome”) all three days, expensive as hell, and nooooo thanks. I like techno/house music OK, but not well enough to pay a fortune and stand on the hot concrete of Hart Plaza with a bunch of Ecstasy enthusiasts. But I’ll say this: Those folks can party.

Seriously. The after- and pre-parties went basically around the clock. Kraftwerk showed up at the contemporary art museum and played a set at 4 a.m. one night. A friend reported one of his posse stayed in one bar until 11:30 a.m. Almost noon the day after the party started.

I just can’t conceive of this. I’m suspecting? Maybe some drugs were involved.

But me, I went to one. I guess it was a pre-party, but it started at 6 a.m., and most people there were absolutely not fresh out of bed, but rather, zombie-white, inked with tattoos of Detroit’s longitude and latitude or its Latin motto, having cocktails at daybreak and listening to the persistent, monotonous bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa house beat.

It was held here:

universitymotel

If you’re thinking that looks like a run-down hotel, why you’re right. And I don’t think any of the residents — and I believe they were mostly all residents, long-term residents, not conventional hotel guests — had any idea this was coming until they were awakened by bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa-bum-thumpa, looked out the window and saw 30 or 40 zombies dancing in their motor court.

“Look at this place,” my friend said, delighted with the scene. “I bet there are as-yet-undiscovered species of bedbugs in there. It would be like going up the Amazon and finding a new bird.”

Meanwhile, just picked this up on one of the Deadly Vipers’ Facebook pages, taken in the West Hollywood Airbnb we sprang for, to get them off of a succession of floors:

vipersontheroad

Looks like the girlies are having fun. Just a few more days, and Kate flies home. Can’t wait to see her.

No links today — workin’ too hard! — but you guys always find the best ones, anyway. Dance the day away, then.

Posted at 12:14 am in Detroit life | 44 Comments
 

Moving. Forward.

So I stayed up late last night to finish one thing, and today got a reprieve – pushed back a week. Ah, well. Got my workout in late afternoon and just rolled with this particular non-punch. It’s almost a long weekend. Just enjoy it.

And it’s Movement weekend, i.e., the electronic-music festival that happens here every Memorial Day weekend. I told one of my nightowl friends I would attend the Movement afterparty of his choice. One option starts at 5 a.m., the other at 4:20 a.m. (ha ha). I intend to go to bed at 10, sleep a few hours, then rise at 3 to join the drugged-out masses at whatever sunrise show we end up at. I’m too old to stay up until 5 a.m. unless I have food poisoning or something.

I think stimulant drugs are coming back in a big way. Who the hell can stay up that late without them?

So I have to go to bed early tonight. Let’s keep this easy.

I’m not much for cat videos, but this is a great cat video.

We may have discussed the Jonathan Weisman case a while ago — can’t recall, too lazy to search. but it was egregious enough to prompt a piece coming this Sunday, and god, it’s so ugly. Key phrase, after explaining the blizzard of anti-Semitic shit that dropped on his head after daring to tweet an anti-Trump op-ed:

And still, we have heard nothing from Mr. Trump, no denunciation, no broad renouncing of racist, anti-Semitic support, no expressions of sympathy for its victims. The Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday released what can only be described as equivocation as an art form: “We abhor any abuse of journalists, commentators and writers, whether it be from Sanders, Clinton or Trump supporters. There is no room for any of this in any campaign.”

Sheldon Adelson, perhaps the most prolific Jewish donor to Republican causes, has not only endorsed Mr. Trump but is also encouraging Jews to rally round him.

Unbelievable. And Trump has a Jewish-convert daughter.

OK, sorry for the thin content this week, but I’m working hard and exhausted. And now we’re at the real beginning of summer. Huzzah. It’s been a long time coming.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Detroit life | 75 Comments