The gang will all be here.

Because I know you’ve all been on pins and needles: The battery surgery was a resounding success, in fact, quite simple. Made all that running around after a professional fix pretty stupid, in hindsight. Yesterday and today I am calibrating the new battery, which means I let it run all the way down and charge it all the way up, and then it’s more or less broken in.

Current status: 24 percent, running down steadily. Let’s hope it continues.

How’s your crazy life at midweek? We learned today that the DNC debate here next month — July 30-31 — will have a complement of 20 count ’em 20 candidates. And they are, via USA Today to the Freep to Deadline Detroit:

(Those meeting both the 1 percent-polling and 65,000-individual-donors thresholds are) former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; entrepreneur Andrew Yang of New York; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; former HUD Secretary Julian Castro of Texas; Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, and activist Marianne Williamson.

In addition, Politico reported that that seven other candidates have met the 1 percent polling threshold:

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.

Marianne Williamson? Andrew Yang? Eric Swalwell? What a field. I’m assuming most will be gone by Christmas, but in the meantime, it’ll be one wacky two-day spell in the D later this summer.

Trying to think of some story ideas around that now. I keep coming back to: Get Bernie Sanders to the Old Miami. (It’s a bar near Wayne State with a big back yard.)

Are bar yards a thing where you are? It’s weird — lots and lots of bars here have them, and I’m not talking about patios, but back-yard hangout spaces, and they predate the smoking ban, so I’m not sure why that is. In nice weather, they’re glorious; the best ones aren’t really “developed” in the traditional sense of having service or anything — just a couple of picnic tables to sit at if you’re so inclined, and just get away from the hurly-burly inside. Although some are quite large, and clustered seating areas tend to happen. Like at the Old Miami. I think Bernie should go there and declaim, see who gathers round.

So, some quick bloggage? Whatever:

Arizona jury hangs rather than convict a teacher accused of giving water, food and lodging to two migrants illegally crossing the border. Interesting.

A tiny crack in the wall of I CAN’T HEAR YOU NAH NAH NAH:

Listen, I don’t have any use for either Donny or Bette. I don’t agree with their politics, I have always been confused at their relative popularity and celebrity status, and don’t doubt for a second that they were unfairly criticizing the president before he retaliated on Twitter.

But none of that justifies the President of the United States of America using his unrivaled platform and bully pulpit to…well…bully American citizens who may disagree with him. When has that ever been okay? I am firmly of the belief that President Obama stoked an immense amount of division needlessly during his time in office, and have even written recently that our only hope of unity in this country requires that he go away.

But President Obama was not rage-tweeting in the wee hours of the morning, calling his critics “total losers” and “washed up psychos” from his official platform. If he had, the right would have rightly condemned him for violating decency norms and the standard expectations of dignity for those holding the office of President. It disappoints me beyond words to see so many of those same folks actually enjoying and applauding President Trump’s decimation of those norms and expectations all in the name of political payback.

Cry me a river, dumbass. You made this bed. Lie in it. “Firmly of the belief,” are you? Tough.

Finally, influencers! The wacky things they do:

With that, I’m off to attack Wednesday. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 9:35 pm in Detroit life | 66 Comments
 

Sunny skies, few clouds.

A delightful last few days and I refuse to let anything harsh my mellow — dinner with friends three nights running, people I like and don’t see often enough. There’s very little that is more restorative, made more so by the dawning realization, as life goes on, that it won’t last forever.

That’s not a cryptic note that I’m dying or anything, just a generalized observation that in the grand scheme of things, we all are.

The lovely weather helped. Motor City Pride ran all weekend, and on Saturday, a small group of Nazis marched past Hart Plaza, surrounded by Detroit police. This led to the usual outrage about police “helping” them somehow, although the alternative — five Nazis march and are stomped by 100 angry counter-protestors — would have been far worse. These folks know exactly what they’re doing and depend on the police to keep them safe in the bargain. They work the system. The system is available to be worked.

In my happy glow, I have only two pieces to recommend, both stone bummers, sorry — this one on how a so-called incel spiraled down into perpetrating a mass shooting, and this one on the radicalization of a similarly rootless young man, via YouTube. And justlikethat, the once-promising technology of the future turns out to be a perfect reflection of our worst selves.

Right now, though, I’m going to turn the laptop over to Alan for the previously discussed battery surgery. Fingers crossed that when the blog comes back, it’ll be on this machine.

Posted at 6:12 pm in Detroit life | 41 Comments
 

Ducking (responsibility), goosing (geese).

I didn’t have a terrible week, but much of it went like this:

The battery in my computer has been in failure mode for a while, with “a while” = “a year.” Finally took it to the Genius Bar and the genius told me sure, they could replace it, but it would have to be shipped elsewhere, because they don’t do that in-house, and with shipping/repair time, I could expect it back in 10 days.

“That’s out of the question,” I said flatly. I use my computer for hours, every day that I work and for an hour or two every day that I don’t work. With no two-week vacations coming up, sorry, a non-starter. A battery replacement ought to be simple; you can’t do it while I wait? Even with an appointment? Nope, sorry, the genius said. “But Micro Center might,” he added, proving his bona fides as a genius. “Try them.”

So I called Micro Center, described my problem, and they said sure, they kept those batteries in stock, and if I showed up very first thing when they opened, they’d do it while I wait. Excellent.

So a few more weeks go by, and there’s a day on my schedule when no dogs are barking for my ass, so I get up and head across town to Micro Center — because of course it’s across town, because nothing I need is on the east side — and am there, as instructed, bright and early at 10 a.m.

I’m first in line at the repair counter. You know what’s coming next, right?

“We can’t do that,” I’m told. “Apple won’t let us work on anything newer than a 2011 model.”

“They literally told me to come here,” I said, using that word correctly in a sentence. “They looked at it, diagnosed the problem” — that’s another Genius Bar rant, how you come in knowing exactly what the problem is, and tell them so, and they run all their diagnostics and tell you to your face, without a hint of irony, what you just told them, in your exact words — “and told me to come here. What’s more, the person who answered your phone when I called said you could do it while I waited, if I came first thing in the morning.”

I didn’t add a second “literally,” but probably could have. The guy was just a serf. He didn’t deserve it.

“Well, that person was wrong,” he said. “We can’t fix it.”

Plan C: Alan and his fearlessness in the face of complex repair problems, as long as there are YouTube tutorials (there are) and Amazon carries the parts (they do). He is my all-purpose Genius Bar.

Also, I hate — and by “hate” I mean with the white-hot fury of 10 million suns — dealing with any Silicon Valley- or tech-based company. I know I’m going to have a ram-butting-heads thing with Hulu next week when “The Handmaids Tale” starts, and it’s going to be ugly.

I took the long way back to the office Friday morning, and took some pictures of Detroit blight for our photo bank. Here’s one:

Also rolled through a squatters’ community that appears well-established in this neighborhood. As you can see: Lots of fixer-uppers.

The lovely weather helped my mood immensely, and it turned out to be an OK Friday. Got some good news about a friend, and even this situation ended about as well as could be expected:

This little goose family was on the sidewalk, attempting to cross Woodward Avenue. They’re blocks from any sort of sustaining habitat, but there was no way I or anyone else could herd them down to the river without a hell of a lot of backup.

But I figured I could save them from getting hit by the light rail if I got them into Campus Martius Park, where maybe they could chill until a quieter hour. So I and a couple other animal lovers made a team and got them into the park and beyond the border hedge.

After which I went to work. Good times.

Do note that blue scooter in the photo. This is the latest entry in the scooter market in Detroit, the fourth company to make these grab-and-go conveyances available. I shudder to think what a bunch of half-in-the-bag bros can do on a few of these. I just hope I’m not there to see it.

No links today, except for this one. Mostly for the picture. Sigh.

Have a good week, all.

Posted at 12:51 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments
 

Hello. I’m Johnny Cash.

Tuesday can eat a dick. It was one of those days. But here I am, so let’s hope for better things today.

And once again, the world has rushed ahead of my capacity to think of anything to say about it. Shall we go to the links? No, one story:

We’ve been having some issues with our basement. Nothing terrible, no flooding, but seepage and some cracks that indicate it could get worse if we don’t do something about it. So a parade of professionals have been trooping through, delivering estimates. They range from $900 to $10,000, to give you an idea of how fucked-up basement work is.

Anyway, the other day one rang the doorbell. He was 20 minutes early, and Alan — whose responsibility this is — was still selecting which underwear to put on for the day, so I went down and let him in. Opened the door expecting the usual basement-company rep, which is to say, a youngish man with a logo’d polo shirt, chinos and a clipboard, maybe in one of those cases with an iPad.

This man was far older. Coal-black suit that had seen better days, and coal-black hair, ditto. The hair did not match the face, which is to say, not a thread of gray anywhere. Ronald Reagan hair.

But he was very nice, introduced himself, and I let him in, introduced him to Wendy and showed him to a seat in the living room. Went back upstairs and informed Alan that Sheldon Adelson was downstairs waiting for him.

As it turned out, he had an explanation for his startling appearance. He’s a Johnny Cash cover singer. His most recent gig was in Port Huron, and “they paid me handsomely.” He sings ’60s/’70s-era Johnny, and doesn’t care for the Rick Rubin era, although he was impressed that Alan knew about it. He left us with an estimate and his CD. We listened that night; he’s not bad at all, although we cracked up when the third track opened with, “This song is dedicated to” and the name of the basement company, which I won’t name because Google.

This town. It still cracks me up.

So! To the bloggage!

Years ago, when I lived in Fort Wayne, I met the author of this column. He was a friend of a friend, and a very nice guy. He had recently married, and his wife was sweet, notable for her amazing ginger-redhead coloring — a true coppery red and that pre-Raphaelite-angel skin that looks almost translucent. They had a baby named Henry. I saw Larry once in a while, at parties our mutual friend would throw, and at one of these events I found him sitting alone and struck up a conversation. “Where’s your wife?” I asked.

“She died,” he replied. Hoo-boy, that’s something you don’t want to hear. Later, I heard the story of what happened, which is detailed in the column. It’s a terrible story, but I think he came away with the right lesson. He doesn’t name the disease, but I heard it was malignant melanoma (that skin, so unsuited for the sun). One of the worst cancers you can get.

Anyway, he went on to become a champ single dad, adopting several more kids and appearing on “Oprah,” where his widowerhood was mentioned, but not the story behind it.

Paul Krugman gets to the heart of something that’s always been in the back of my mind, but never really moved to the front. After opening with an anecdote about Stephen Moore, the president’s nominee for the Fed board, shit-talking the Midwest, he notes:

This is not the story you usually hear. On the contrary, we’re inundated with claims that liberals feel disdain for the heartland. Even liberals themselves often buy into these claims, berate themselves for having been condescending and pledge to do better.

But what’s the source of that narrative? Look at where the belief that liberals don’t respect the heartland comes from, and it turns out that it has little to do with things Democrats actually say, let alone their policies. It is, instead, a story line pushed relentlessly by Fox News and other propaganda organizations, relying on out-of-context quotes and sheer fabrication.

Conservative contempt, by contrast, is real. Moore’s “armpit” line evidently didn’t shock his audience, probably because disparaging views about middle America are widespread among right-wing intellectuals and, more discreetly, right-wing politicians.

Mm-hmm, that’s right.

Finally, want to buy Patti Smith’s former house in St. Clair Shores? It’s quite something, and I totally would if I had the dough. (I do not have the dough.) Her son is the Realtor, which is amusing.

Let’s hope Wednesday fails to suck. On with it.

Posted at 8:24 am in Current events, Detroit life | 56 Comments
 

Rendering unto Caesar.

I’ve been following the talk in the comments about the price of car insurance wherever everybody is. People? In the words of Jame Gumb, you don’t know what pain is. Michigan has the highest-priced auto insurance in the nation, and Detroit has the highest in Michigan. We’re not in Detroit proper, but we are in the same county, and man, do we pay.

My no-collision-coverage premium on the old-ass Volvo is double what an entire year’s worth of coverage was on my brand-new VW back in Indiana. Most younger people around here pay for their coverage monthly, because a couple thousand in a six-month premium is too much for a lot of people to handle. A monthly insurance premium that costs more than a car payment is very common around here; in fact, I think I just read about a guy who surrendered his lease on a new Cadillac (payment: $540/month) because his premium was something like $560 a month — FOR INSURANCE — and he couldn’t swing it anymore.

Our premiums are due in August and March, and I DREAD August and March. Now that Kate has a car, it’s…about $2,500 extra in those months.

And Alan wonders why I want to give up my car entirely.

Oh, well. Another weekend in the books. I just paid our taxes, and I’m about to make a cherry clafoutis for the “Game of Thrones” watch party we’re attending tonight. There was actually quite a bit of discussion about how the menu should be structured — medieval-ish, with a touch of dragon fire? At one point I was committed to individual savory hand pies, because it seemed very Kingsroad Inn and Hot Pie, but finally the host decided he’d smoke a pork shoulder, so that’s the plan. I’ve never seen a pig on “Game of Thrones,” but the cruel boys at the Wall called Samwell Tarly a pig when he arrived at Castle Black, so…

Wait, you’re not into it? Don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s fine. You don’t have to be in on the fun. I don’t even think this is the greatest TV show of all time, but it does have actual dragons, and I’m totally there for that. Also, it is SUCH an improvement on the books, it’s in the ‘Godfather’ Hall of Fame for Adaptations That Transcend Their Source Material, and that’s a plus. Five or six more books I won’t have to read.

I’m really — as in really, really, really — hoping next week is an improvement on the last, which sucked. It was a stung-by-gnats thing, mainly, just a thousand things piling up and conspiring to make me crazy and late and under-rested. All this is balanced by the fact we have some milestones coming up soon, too, and happy ones. Kate graduates from Michigan in just about two weeks, huzzah. We have two separate ceremonies to attend, one for her school (she’s up for an award) and the one for the whole university, in the Big House the following day. I was hoping they’d get Michelle Obama for a speaker, but it’s the governor, and I guess I’m fine with that. I hope her speech is a good one.

Friday was the open house for the senior theses, and we went to that. Kate’s thesis project was an album-length recording of her new band, recorded, mixed and mastered by her. (Here’s their Bandcamp page, with only two tracks on it, both recorded by someone else.) Her boyfriend had a show, too, featuring a dancer with sensors stuck all over her body. The sensors were tracked by cameras that triggered music, so she was essentially dancing to music her body was composing in real time. That was pretty cool, even though one of the sensors flew off in the final frenzied minutes of the performance, and landed at my feet. It was the one on her forehead; when we first saw her, Alan whispered, “What a weird piercing.”

So. On to the clafoutis. In the meantime?

“Fox brain” is a thing, and it has victims. I have many friends whose parents went from nice moderates to angry, fearful racists in a matter of months. I’m sure you do, too.

Ivanka! Everybody’s favorite Trump, discussed here. This is what a person with cotton where their brains should be does:

When she ran her multimillion-dollar lifestyle brand, she worked relentlessly at “cultivating authenticity,” as she put it. She dreamed up a world full of serendipitous moments and marvelous coincidences, with the pastel-hued bags and shoes to match. Ivanka told W magazine, at age 22, “There are very few things we can control in life, but how we project ourselves is one of them.” That discipline has meant, as her brother Don Jr. told me, that “you can put Ivanka in virtually any environment and she’ll thrive.” In the White House, she has projected herself as a cosmopolitan peacemaker, dedicating her efforts largely to issues such as women’s economic empowerment, workforce development, and the fight against human trafficking. She is not a conservative, she enjoys telling people. She is a “pragmatist.”

Has anyone told her that cultivating authenticity is an oxymoron? Guess not.

Finally, I’m finding Bernie tiresome in the extreme. That is all. Talk soon.

Posted at 5:41 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 85 Comments
 

With the swamp-drainers.

You guys. What a week. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even possible to have two half-time jobs, but I like both of them, so I guess I’m just going to have to figure it out. But my world is a series of spinning plates. This week, it culminated with this event, which I covered, and you can read the story here, and I’d appreciate it if you did.

But if you’re rushed: It was the We Build the Wall Town Hall, a traveling grift-a-palooza that stopped in Detroit last night. A sad event. It was originally scheduled for a church in Warren, which for you out-of-towners is most definitely MAGA country, but was relocated to Detroit when they outgrew the space. The organizers claimed they had more than a thousand people registered; maybe 300 showed up. They were dwarfed by one of Cobo’s zillion-square-foot halls, but what the heck, the energy was about as high as a crowd with a median age of maybe 52 could drum up. I thought what I’ve thought many times in crowds like this: This issue is resolving itself, one funeral at a time. So many gray heads, so many canes, so many of those rolling walkers. The Bikers for Trump looked like the crowd at last summer’s Steppenwolf concert, with a titanium hip for every Harley-Davidson.

Maybe the rest were scared off by having to come to Detroit, who knows.

I went because Bannon was on the bill. I originally figured he’d be a no-show, “called away by vital business,” but there he was. You’d think he’d elevate such an event, but not really, not when he’s up there with as grifty a bunch as this. Here’s the scenario: This “We Build the Wall” GoFundMe has already raised $20.6 million. People are being given the chance to back out, but — they say — few have. But let’s say have $10 million to spend. For this sum, they intend to put up parts of a wall, on private property. How easy would it be to slip away with a big chunk of that? I say not very.

Bannon is independently wealthy; he doesn’t need to hustle old people for $5 contributions. He still considers himself a person of ideas and vision. What is he doing up there with Sheriff Clarke? Just organizing? Someone with a more devious political mind, chime in. I’m really interested.

One of the books I’m reading these days is Michael Lewis’ “The Fifth Risk,” about the Trump administration’s abandonment of a critical job — staffing the parts of the government people don’t think about until they fail. It’s terrifying. Lewis concentrates on one department — Energy — but I thought of the FAA when I read this headline: Trump wanted his personal pilot to head the FAA. The critical job is still vacant amid Boeing fallout.

Lewis makes the case that not only do these departments do what everybody hates, OMG REGULATION, but play critical roles interacting with private industry in guiding that which they oversee. Running a major federal agency is not the same as flying a plane, but I guess that’s too hard to see.

Man, what a week. I’m outta here. Have a great weekend, and back on Sunday/Monday.

Posted at 12:29 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 32 Comments
 

And now, the shadow.

A big local-news talker dropped Friday morning, and bear with me, because I’m going to try to make my comments about it universal. So here goes, the first five grafs:

Former Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell had a Hall of Fame career and a marriage to match.

Friends and strangers alike marveled at the love he and his wife, Lulu, shared for almost 70 years.

But their fairy-tale family included a large dose of heartache, most of it unseen and much of it unseemly.

Oakland County court records show that for years, the couple’s four children have been beset by infighting and impatience for their inheritance from parents often unable to say no.

The children point fingers at family lawyers. The lawyers point back with allegations of unpaid bills, missing money and alleged mistreatment of Lulu, who battled dementia for years before dying March 1 at age 99. She was more or less broke.

It’s hard to overstate what a beloved figure Harwell was in Detroit. Mitch Albom, no stranger to lavish print-smooching, can hardly restrain himself when he writes about him. Of course, like another dead old man, Harwell has been good for Mitch’s bottom line — he wrote a play, “Ernie,” that runs every year through baseball season at a theater across the street from the ballpark. I saw it a few years back; it’s not terrible, but Mitch only paints in primary colors, and only pretty-pretty ones. The play works for what it is, a nostalgia-wallow that makes everyone cry, then time for a beer before the first pitch. (Almost everyone cries, that is; this was me.)

To give you a taste of how he handles all things Harwell: His column upon Lulu’s death earlier this month may out-Mitch even Mitch.

And like I said, Harwell was beloved.

He had a Georgia drawl and an easy patter, plus a bottomless well of folksy expressions he could summon at the crack of a bat. (No, I’m not going to look them up for you; that’s what the internet is for.) Plus he did seem, from all accounts, to be genuine and modest and charming. He was one of those personalities made for a time when baseball was coming out of the transistor radio on the back steps as you washed the car.

But even though he is routinely called a saint, no mortal actually is a saint. Everyone has flaws. Everyone. What’s more, our flaws are what make us interesting — the tension between light and dark, how we reconcile the two. If I were teaching feature writing, I’d do a whole unit on how to balance the good stuff with the less-good stuff, how to ask about it, that sort of thing. How to add, with words, what the Italians call chiaroscuro, the shadows that give the light dimension.

Conversely, this is also something to remember when considering straight-news stories, especially those about people who have suffered a misfortune: There are no perfect victims, either. When you find yourself detaching from the plight of a person screwed over by a corrupt system because she worked as a stripper or smoked weed or whatever, you’re forgetting what the greater sin is.

The Harwell marriage, so recently aired in Lulu’s obituary, was close and loving and long-lived. Assuming this story is correct, it also gave the world what seem to be four terrible children, or at least three. While Ernie left a tidy estate, it was hardly substantial, and he devoutly wanted his widow cared for after his death. That was expensive, and ate the money one bite at a time. But his children? One nickel-and-dimed his elderly mom to cover his own financial failings. One billed her conservator for “caregiving,” 24 hours a day, whenever he traveled to Michigan to visit her. Another was emotionally abusive. The fourth seems a cut above the rest, but who knows.

From the tweeting around this, I get the feeling this was an open secret among sports journalists. And yet, this appears to be the first reporting on it. That’s…not good. But also not surprising.

The weekend is nearly upon us, but I still have some work to do, so best get to it.

So much to blog about, but who has the time? Manafort, Fox News, all of it. Let’s stick with this, headlined, “Melania chooses spaghetti.” In which we learn a Fox host referred to FLOTUS as “Lady M” throughout their interview, a very strange thing.

Supposed to rise well above freezing Saturday. Here’s hoping. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 2:01 pm in Detroit life, Media | 78 Comments
 

Dirty.

In my haste to be a big smartypants about Jussie Smollett, I forgot to tell you about the Dirty Show. It’s an art show that runs over two weekends and is, surprise surprise, dirty. Erotic, I guess you’d call it, although dirty probably fits better.

About 15 percent of the art was decent, most was campy/mediocre/whatever and the rest was porn, but artistic. I guess this would fall in the first category:

But you don’t go to the Dirty Show to look at the art on the walls, scratch your chin and say hmm, interesting. You go to see the other stuff, and to people-watch. It rarely disappoints in that area; half the burlesque dancers in the Midwest show up, and the crowd tries to keep up. When I was getting dressed for the evening, I thought, what the hell, let’s do something fun, so I picked a crimson bra out of the drawer and, first, thought to wear it alone under a blazer, ’70s-supermodel style. But it was cold, and I chickened out, and added a rather sheer top. I felt scandalous leaving the house, but within five minutes of scanning the crowd, realized I was wearing the Dirty Show equivalent of a navy polo shirt and mom jeans. As I often say after Theatre Bizarre: “I had no idea so many women in Detroit own corsets.” Corsets galore, as well as pasties, bare-ass thongs with fishnets, all that stuff. A guy led a woman in a wheelchair around with a leash. A woman led a man around on a leash. I waited in line for the restroom behind a woman in bondage gear and a nun’s wimple.

It was quite the crowd. No John Waters this year, but a good time just the same.

So.

Not long after I wrote Monday’s entry about spotting bullshit, it occurred to me where I’ve read quite a few unbelievable stories in recent years: Accounts of human trafficking. I read a piece about a sex trafficking victim, who described her ordeal: Kidnapped at 15, thrown into an attic with two other women, chained by the ankle, and forced to stay there, sleeping on a pallet and using a bucket for elimination, for a year. A year. No baths, no breaks, “15 to 40 men a day,” just brought in one after another to rape the girls on their pallets. It’s possible. But it doesn’t pass the smell test, and I’ve heard verified stories about chained women. A year? It’s hard to believe that not one guy wouldn’t feel a pang of post-coital remorse and drop a dime to the police, that word wouldn’t spread.

And how often these stories are detail-free, so none can be verified with family or law enforcement, everyone mysteriously dead or gone somehow. And how often these stories are published by Christian presses, and feature redemption/conversion narratives late in the story. And how often these stories are only about sex trafficking, when we know that labor trafficking is just as big a problem, but somehow it’s all white girls forced into prostitution, never brown girls forced into agricultural labor, or domestic servitude.

I’ll repeat what I’ve said often: Human trafficking is real, and a serious problem. But it can’t be addressed without good data about the extent of the problem. And we’re nowhere close to understanding it.

OK, all. More snow expected overnight, followed by ice, followed by rain. Just another day in paradise. Stay warm.

Posted at 9:17 pm in Detroit life, Popculch | 102 Comments
 

The edge of NyQuil.

Excuses, excuses. Insert your favorite here, as all are true: I’ve been busy I’ve been tired I’ve been listless it’s been cold it’s going to be colder and now? NOW? I’m getting sick. Just a cold, but I don’t get them often, so it feels like ebola.

Also, I’m the self-pitying sort. But you all know that.

But people? Any day you can wake up to the news of Roger Stone’s indictment is a pretty good day.

I’m disappointed in the CNN-exclusive video, however. I wanted to see him frog-marched out in his Hugh Hefner smoking jacket and bunny slippers, but I guess you take what you get.

I’m going to suck down some Dayquil and prepare for the day. A longer read today, for the weekend:

My friend Bill, retired but a storyteller to the bone, crafts a great one in the course of retirement-editing the Dearborn Historian, a quarterly published by the city of Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit. Locals and the better-informed may know it as the home of Ford Motor Co., and the longtime home of its founder, Henry Ford. People who know their history know Ford was an anti-Semite, as well, a common prejudice for his time.

Anyway, 2019 is the 100-year anniversary of Ford’s purchase of the Dearborn Independent, a failing weekly newspaper, which he then transformed into an amplifier of his beliefs. This passage, early on, amazed me:

In 1931, two years before he became the German chancellor, Adolf Hitler gave an interview to a Detroit News reporter in his Munich office, which featured a large portrait of Ford over the desk of the future führer. The reporter asked about the photo.

“I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” Hitler told the News.

What makes this relevant today is this wrinkle: Ford and his confederates published the Independent’s contents in three books, known collectively as “The International Jew.” And they did so without copyright, so anyone could republish them. And they did, and do, to this day. Ford’s name and ideas (which he almost certainly didn’t write himself) turn up time and again on white-nationalist websites like Stormfront, and “The International Jew” is still in print and available for purchase via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al.

It’s a good read, on the longer side but not that bad. Take you half an hour, tops.

Oh, and one more by me, after I attended a press conference featuring John Sinclair, a Detroit radical from back in the day. Was going for a certain Talk of the Town voice here; don’t know if I succeeded.

On to the Dayquil. Fortunately, I have this to read and chortle over:

Republican senators clashed with one another and confronted Vice President Pence inside a private luncheon on Thursday, as anger hit a boiling point over the longest government shutdown in history.

“This is your fault,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange.

“Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?” McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch.

And this. OK, gotta scoot. Good weekends, all.

Posted at 8:50 am in Current events, Detroit life | 49 Comments
 

Sequins dead ahead.

We were hit by the same snowstorm y’all were hit by this weekend, but fortunately it was a) under 6 inches; and b) waited until Saturday, which is a good thing. Hate commuting during a major snowfall.

Regrettably, it was followed by a temperature plunge, so out of the closet comes the Parka of Tribulation for an unknown period of time. It was 3 above zero when I got up this morning, and while it will get into the high 20s during the week, next weekend looks pretty grim, too.

But this is winter. Make soup.

Fortunately there was no snow when women had to get to Cobo in heels for the auto show Charity Preview, so let’s get to the pix, eh?

This is an Infiniti concept something-or-other. Alan notes that it cannot be left outdoors in the rain, because it will fill up like a bathtub. Very nice design, though:

And right next to it, another Infiniti concept, this one a sedan. Because every back seat needs a bud vase, don’t you agree? Also love the suicide doors and the steering — thing, because it’s not a wheel — that retracts into the dash. I assume this is a concept for the autonomous era.

On to Kia’s new concept-but-bound-for-production model, the Telluride, its three-row SUV. J.C., please be advised that the video wall had all that falling water animated, to remind you of the streams you will be able to ford in your rugged machine:

But you probably won’t want to use this one, because you’ll mess up the fine bespoke leather work on that spare-tire cover. Note the ladder, so you can get on the roof and glass the distant lions on the savannah. Again, mind the leather and those million-dollar suitcases.

Not to spend too much time in Kia-ville, but I liked the color juxtapositions here:

We were making our way steadily to Subaru, having heard from a reliable source that their display featured puppies. Nope. Only one dog, reppin’ a Subaru trait as popular as the gay-friendly thing — they’re beloved by those who own big-ass dogs.

The dog came courtesy of the Michigan Humane Society, of course. She wore a pink bow tie on her collar, because it was a formal event.

This will be the last show in January, and it showed — besides the disgraced VW, there were no European brands on the floor. This freed up space for what Alan derided as “used-car lots,” although they were extremely luxury-focused lots, with Lambos and McLarens and all those rich-D-bag models, including this BMW.

Remember Miss Michigan? She made a splash last fall when she introduced herself at the Miss America pageant like so. She was there, and mobbed by people wanting selfies, but I was able to get a few words in with her. She’s not only a badass, she has a nose ring and TWO tattoos. She said she was having a blast now that Miss A is over and she can just “do the fun stuff, like this.” Miss Michigan, Emily Sioma:

I entertained Alan’s young colleague with stories of covering the Miss A pageant back in the early ’80s. A very different time, in so many ways.

Everybody loves a sexy-ass Corvette, so here’s a Corvette with a sexy ass. Alan said, “They don’t cost as much as you might think.” He pulled out his phone, scrolled for a minute, and said, “They start at $56,000.” The turntable brought the product specialist into view, and I said, “What does this one cost, as equipped?”

“$135,000,” she replied. OK, then.

Here’s that color again, this time on a Camaro. At least you can find it in a parking lot:

And here it is reflected in the amazingly shiny dress of one of the floor photographers. Year after year, I notice the real risk-takers, fashion-wise, are African Americans. I missed a lot of good outfits because I couldn’t deploy the camera fast enough, but this lady will have to do. She had matching boots, too.

And that’s it for your car-show roundup. Signing off with a self-portrait, because Alan only took one picture of me and it was terrible. Guess I’ll have to wear the dress again soon.

Until June 2020! Although this stupid blog will be back later in the week.

Posted at 12:26 pm in Detroit life | 92 Comments