One million stories in the Naked City.

A few little Moments in Detroit ™ have befallen me lately. I should share:

Since the weather turned warm, I’ve been doing some so-called last-mile commuting, which is what urban planners call it when you ride a bike to a transit stop, load it onto the bus or light rail or whatever, then unload it at your destination stop and finish the last leg to your office. It’s great so far; the building manager overruled the security guard who told me I had to leave the bike chained to a parking meter outside, so I take it up to the office. At lunchtime, I’m no longer confined to the Subway and Rub Pub on either side of our building, or even the places farther away — I can ride to the Eastern Market and get a slice of Supino’s pizza or a sandwich from the Russell Street Deli, which has Subway beat by a unit so large, it no longer makes sense to measure it in miles.

Last Friday I was cruisin’ into work on the bus, looking forward to the weekend, when an alarm started beeping in the engine compartment. The driver got on the horn with HQ, then pulled over and told us we’d be waiting for another bus or a repair, whichever came first.

This was the point when I realized just how important last-mile commuting is. I took the bike down from the rack and announced it was time for Plan B. I rode off Jefferson and into a terrible neighborhood, one burned-and-blighted house after another. And then, as though into Emerald City, I was in Indian Village, a stately neighborhood of older homes. A few blocks of this and back into the dodgy districts. Five men walked toward me, spread across the road, and I wondered if it was wise to stay on course. Decided to smile and wave, and they smiled and waved back, just a pod of local rummies getting their morning drink on, it looked like.

Then, huzzah, a bike lane. And a cemetery, final resting place of Sonic Smith. Some deteriorated light industrial, a new high school, this, that, a casino, downtown and my office. Five miles, roughly. I should do this more often. A perfect morning for a little bike ride.

Then today I had to appear on a local radio show, to discuss this story. I walked into the lobby, and who should be there but Sixto Rodriguez, the “Searching for Sugarman” guy. He’d just stopped by to make a cash donation.

“I really like your show, Craig,” he said. I guess he didn’t want to wait for another pledge campaign. A guy I know who used to work at the station says he does it all the time — just swings by from time to time to drop a fifty into the tip jar. Now that’s what I call public-radio support.

Rodriguez gives away a lot of his money. His daughter quotes him as saying once you have the food-clothing-shelter part handled, all the rest is icing. He shares the icing.

So, now I’m watching a few days of 80-degree weather blow out with a thunderstorm, with a 25-degree drop ahead for the next few days. We put the boat in Friday. Balls.

Some good bloggage today. Let’s start with a category called Fiery Oratory. Emily Bazelon reviews Glenn Greenwald’s new book in Slate:

A million jokesters have invited the NSA to listen in on their calls about feeding the cat or picking up the kids, noting that most Americans aren’t doing anything exciting enough to interest the government. You are missing the point if you’re in this camp, Greenwald urges:

Of course, dutiful, loyal supporters of the president and his policies, good citizens who do nothing to attract negative attention from the powerful, have no reason to fear the surveillance state. This is the case in every society: those who pose no challenge are rarely targeted by oppressive measures, and from their perspective, they can then convince themselves that oppression does not really exist. But the true measure of a society’s freedom is how it treats its dissidents and other marginalized groups, not how it treats good loyalists. … We shouldn’t have to be faithful loyalists of the powerful to feel safe from state surveillance. Nor should the price of immunity be refraining from controversial or provocative dissent. We shouldn’t want a society where the message is conveyed that you will be left alone only if you mimic the accommodating behavior and conventional wisdom of a Washington establishment columnist.

…Reading about all the disclosures again, woven together and in context, I couldn’t decide which was worse: the NSA’s massive, grim overreach, in the hands of Director Michael Hayden—or the complicity of almost every other entity involved, private as well as public. “PRISM is a team sport!” trumpeted one NSA memo. Too true: Other memos and slides show Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Microsoft easing the way toward surveillance of their users. (Twitter was the exception in this case.) When the Guardian and the Washington Post broke that news, the tech companies tried to argue otherwise based on a technicality. But looking back, the documents “give the lie to Silicon Valley’s denials of cooperation,” as Greenwald writes.

I will be reading this, most likely. Eventually. After I read everything else I’m supposed to read. Someone recently recommended “Hellhound on His Trail,” the story of the manhunt for James Earl Ray, describing how great it was, etc., and all I could think was, dammit, another one.

More fiery oratory, from Gene Weingarten, speaking at Joe McGinniss’ memorial service:


When a writer enters into an agreement with a source to tell his story, there is always an accompanying covenant. This will be acknowledged by, you know, every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on. In return for fair and objective reporting, the subject is promising to tell the truth. If the subject lies to the writer, all bets are off. The degree to which this principle attaches is directly proportional to the enormity of the lie that was told.

He’s speaking of the teapot tempest that followed a New Yorker piece that was about “Fatal Vision,” called “The Journalist and the Murderer.” The writer, Janet Malcolm, implied that McGinniss had betrayed Jeffrey MacDonald somehow, and… Just read the link.

I was in a group looking at some data regarding Michigan’s charter schools when someone recollected that charters were supposed to be educational trailblazers, and that’s why they were freed from many of the constraints traditional schools have — so they could run ahead and blaze a trail.

Not so much anymore. Not in New York, anyway:

A primary rationale for the creation of charter schools, which are publicly financed and privately run, was to develop test kitchens for practices that could be exported into the traditional schools. President Obama, in recently proclaiming “National Charter Schools Week,” said they “can provide effective approaches for the broader public education system.”

But two decades since the schools began to appear, educators from both systems concede that very little of what has worked for charter schools has found its way into regular classrooms. Testy political battles over space and money, including one that became glaringly public in New York State this spring, have inhibited attempts at collaboration. The sharing of school buildings, which in theory should foster communication, has more frequently led to conflict.

And some charter schools have veered so sharply from the traditional model — with longer school years, armies of nonunion workers and flashy enrichment opportunities like trips to the Galápagos Islands — that their ideas are viewed as unworkable in regular schools.

Finally, I know Christopher Columbus long ago lost his luster with most people, but I was raised in Columbus, Ohio, and I will always read a story about the old Genoan. And this one is pretty interesting; scientists think they might have found the wreckage of the Santa Maria.

A lot for a Wednesday, I know, but hey — eat up.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media | 22 Comments

The kids are back.

College graduation in Michigan was last week, which means summer-intern season is underway downtown. And while it’s still a bit chilly (grrr), Thursday is supposed to be nearly 80, which means all the pieces are clicking into place for another fabulous summer in Fun City.

A couple of the development firms have gone whole-hog into summer internships, which they see as an opportunity to shape young minds to love Detroit, not the regular, non-summer Detroit, but a special enhanced Detroit, its pillows plumped just for them.

They poured a bunch of white sand at Campus Martius park a couple weeks ago, so the kids can have a “beach.” One building with a second-floor overhang has installed outdoor seating clusters, not lawn chairs but living-room style, separated by dog topiaries. There’s a private bike-sharing service for them. One building has an outdoor chess set, with pieces the size of trash cans.

It so happened I was out and about today, at one of the new-style “co-working” places that are all over town — usually a raw space fitted out in reclaimed wood with cubicles and lots of fun add-ons, like full kitchens and employees’ dogs. We looked at one for Bridge when we were moving downtown, but opted for something a little more traditional — journalists sometimes have to make phone calls in privacy, although we were the original co-workers, in my opinion.

My walk there took me past a high-rise apartment building with more living-room seating arrangements out front and that most essential detail of new-urbanist life: Bike racks. Lots of them.

One can be heartened by the new life flowing into downtown Detroit and still find a lot of this stuff silly. I suppose everyone dreams of landing a job in a free-food, bring-your-dog paradise like Google, but realistically, only a lucky very few ever will. So what is this Playskool-colored, toys-toys-toys summer-fun interlude for?

I remember my first real job after college. I spent the first weeks walking into walls, wondering where the fun had gone. We used to sit around the Ohio University Post scrawling graffiti on the wall and re-enacting light-saber battles using a pile of discarded fluorescent tubes the physical plant guys never took away. At the Dispatch, half the staff was a thousand years old and worked on the editorial page, writing six-paragraphs welcomes to spring and St. Patrick’s Day.

So I hope the new summer interns have fun here this summer, digging their toes in the sand and eating sandwiches under the dog topiary. For whatever casualness they have brought to the workplace at large, I’m grateful — it’s nice to have pantyhose more or less permanently off the work-wardrobe budget. And I hope they all get jobs when the internships are over. Maybe some will be in Detroit. Sorry to say it, kids, but: The winters suck.

Not a lot of bloggage today, but this was satisfying in a mean way: Pete Coors can’t understand the kids and their fondness for craft beers, aka beer that doesn’t taste like chilled urine:

Coors said he is baffled about trends that show the more expensive craft beer market growing by about 7 percent, the light premium beer market staying flat and the economy beer market with brands such as Pabst Blue Ribbon and Keystone dropping by 7 percent or even into double figures.

“In this economy that is difficult to understand,” Coors said. “But people are staying at home now, not buying cars or houses. They have money to spend. They want to spend it on something that they think has more value. … You talk about the millennials. The world is very different.”

A while back, Kate’s bass teacher and I were chatting about the use of guns in self-defense, and we agreed that as irritating as it is to have your stuff stolen, neither of us were willing to kill another human being over a television set. Not so in Montana. Good lord, but I’m growing to despise these lunatics.

And now we’re sliding toward the weekend. Every week, this miracle happens.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life | 46 Comments

Another sub-60 degree weekend.

The weekend is over and not a lot of fun was had — work and errands and the usual seemed to pile up a bit higher this week. But I did some reading and walked the dog and got some exercise. The Metro Times Blowout was this weekend — it’s a local-music festival, the loud kind — and I got to one show Friday but happily turned my wristband over to Kate the next night. Saw some friends, drank a couple of beers and finished off with the final concert of Kate’s jazz season. One of the mothers called for a group picture but couldn’t get her camera to work, so I did her a solid and emailed her mine:


As stated before in this space, they really put the “creative” in Creative Jazz Ensemble, what with having three violins and all. They also have three guitarists, but two were no-shows for this show. Good thing my little girl was there to be the bottom, as one of the numbers was “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and you really can’t do that without a bass.

One other thing from Saturday: Watched “Her,” which immediately became my favorite movie of 2013. It won best original screenplay at the Oscars, and no other nominated film of the last year came close to it. It’s about a lonely writer, Theodore, in some vague future version of Los Angeles who falls in love with the disembodied voice of his computer operating system; think Siri after about 20 more generations of improvement. The story is great enough, but what I really fell in love with was the setting of a smoggy Los Angeles where everyone walks around talking, but not to the people around them. Computers have pretty much replaced human contact — the scenes of Theodore’s interaction with his flesh-and-blood friends don’t look like nearly as much fun as his playful chats with Samantha, his OS. Even lonely bedtime masturbation can be done online with a partner with just a few voice commands. His job is writing customized letters for others, to others. The world is entirely a service economy, and this is what we’re selling — canned emotions and disembodied love.

Seriously, I recommend it to anyone who considers these things, and given that we’re a disembodied community here, most of whom don’t even know what other members look like, it almost suggests a virtual movie club.

So, I’m going down to make a simple dinner and see what Sunday-night TV has in store. A little bloggage today:

Jazz hands! A Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter embeds at a high-school musical and files a report.

God, I hate circuses.

Meanwhile, back in Detroit, the Cinco de Mayo parade is cancelled after someone is shot to death pretty much smack in the middle of it.

Happy Monday, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 40 Comments

Meet the DVAS.

Because I believe my little girl should be free to have her own life, and write about it someday, I mention her less here than I might be inclined to. But it seems noteworthy to mark milestones when they come along, and we had one this weekend.

Around Christmas, Kate and two of her friends formed a band. They call themselves the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, a reference you Quentin Tarantino fans should pick up on. Their vision was clear from the beginning: All girls, playing their own brand of psychedelic punk, not just a cover band. They worked hard through the long winter, practicing at one’s house (not ours, but the one whose guitar-playing father had already turned the garage into a studio). The search for a singer took a while, but eventually they found someone, and through this connection and that connection, they had their first gig Saturday.

It was a venue that appears in no Google searches, probably because it barely exists. It’s a brick building with one room and a boarded-up storefront, probably a former mom-and-pop grocery or barbershop or what-have-you. The neighborhood is terrible, as in your-car’s-safety-is-in-God’s-hands terrible, and there was enough light in the sky to see just how terrible as we drove up. These are the neighborhoods in Detroit that freak me out — the ones where the blight is well-entrenched and mostly still standing, but there are still many occupied houses. Imagine living next to a standing burned shell, or between two of them, for years on end. It might leave a person with a bad attitude.

“If only we had a film crew to capture this milestone in your early career,” I mused as we drove past a house with a collapsed front porch roof. Well, at least it’s pretty damn punk.

But we found the guy who runs the place, and with many, many misgivings, left the girls to do their own setup and sound check while we went to the Northern Lights Lounge for a drink and some hummus. We returned as the DVAS were just about ready to take the — well, it wasn’t quite a stage. More like a clearing in the corner.

And they did great, with a tight little set of originals, and two covers — the Jimmy Neutron theme song and, because we are where we are, some Stooges.

The place was so murky inside even my flash pictures couldn’t penetrate it. We’re going to have to go with arty here:


With all due respect to the venue, I hope they don’t play there anymore. They’re already good enough that they shouldn’t have to.

It was a busy Saturday. I drove to Lansing to meet with one of the Bridge columnists I edit, who was signing copies of an Upper Peninsula literary collection called “The Way North,” which I can recommend to any Yoopers looking for a taste of home. I’m still in the poetry section, but I’m liking it quite a lot.

Sunday? A 14-mile bike ride into the teeth of a chilly wind. WHERE IS WARMTH? WARMTH I REQUIRE.

Bloggage, then:

I’ve really become a fan of Neil Steinberg, who puts a lot more effort into his blog than I do. This one in particular.

As long as we’re talking Bridge, one of my faves of the weekend — a Vietnam-era vet objects to the word-inflation of “hero.” I totally agree.

Living paycheck-to-paycheck on $90K a year? You bet. Another great deep dive from the WashPost.

Hello, Monday. I’ve heard you can’t be trusted. But I hope everyone’s week is fine.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments

Fine weather for a resurrection.

I know bad weather happens on Easter, but honestly, I can never think of any in my recent memory. Maybe it just doesn’t register, or fades quickly, like the pain of childbirth. Whatever the reason, we had a pretty glorious Easter, weather-wise, and most of the other -wises, in that we had good food and chocolate and ham and eggs. I’m sure Jeff was working overtime and then some, but it is the busiest day of the year in his line of work.

As for me, I saw a Muslim girl at the Eastern Market, wearing a hijab, with a pair of bunny ears on top. Our wonderful country of weirdness.

We went to Toledo to meet my sister-in-law for Easter lunch — it’s about halfway between us. Somehow we got to talking about this and that, and she said her employer-paid health insurance offers a rebate for people who exercise four times a week for 30 minutes. It’s self-reported, she said.

And how much of a rebate do they get? Fifteen bucks per quarter. It’s hardly worth lying on the reporting forms.

I was wondering about this because I read something recently about “the internet of things” — all the interconnected devices that make our lives easier. I think we’ve discussed the Next thermostat here before, but there are also all these fitness trackers like the Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band, et al. I got one of these for Christmas, the Misfit Shine, and I really like it. It meshes narcissism with tech geekery with data analysis. I cannot deny that I check it several times a day, and that it motivates me to walk more often in pursuit of the points that make it blink and send me attagirl messages via my phone. I’m on a long-term, low-pressure quest to chip away a few pounds, and stupid stuff like this makes a difference

I don’t have to spend much time on the website, though, to see a definite dark side — the bundled packages “ideal for office groups,” where everyone gets a wearable tracker and competes to reach fitness goals. Is it so crazy to imagine a time when your insurer wants to know how often you’re making the 1,000-point standard, and determines your premium based on it?

I think it’ll happen. And I think the technology will advance, but also the shadow economy that will collect your tracker and attach it to a dog for 45 minutes or so before dropping it back in your mailbox.

Honest, boss, I don’t know why I can’t lose these extra pounds. I’m working my ass off at the dog park.

Let’s not let fear of surveillance put a pall on a gentle Sunday night, fading into golden light with a dog nearby and a single hot dog on the grill. (After that midday feed, I don’t feel like eating much.) Time to skip to the bloggage:

A friend of mine here in Detroit is one of those urban farmers you’ve heard so much about — the one with the ducks. She had her annual Easter Eggstravaganza, and I know a few of you threw her some money so she could make it free for all the neighborhood kids. Here are the event photos, at least the series where every kid in attendance got his or her picture taken with a duckling. Don’t know if that was the same duck in every picture, but you get a sense of the fun that was had. Lots!

I liked parts of this essay about Elmore Leonard, which ran last week in Grantland’s Detroit series. The writer understands which books were the best (at least, he agrees with me). Other parts, not so much, but it’s a fine effort.

And that’s enough for a day when we’re all recovering from chocolate poisoning. Happy week ahead, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 49 Comments

Another reason to stay open all night.

Again, sorry for the day off. I was out until after 9 — clear until after 9 — at a journalism awards banquet. Yes, like all but the top j-awards banquets, it was too long. Not as long as the Hoosier State Press Association, thank God, which had something like six or seven circulation categories and enough award classifications that the actual plaque-passing was like my high-school graduation, with its 750-strong senior class. I recall “Pomp & Circumstance” playing and playing and playing.

But Bridge did OK. And the boss bought the drinks.

And I got home too late to blog. There are nights when I think I have flat run out of everything there is to say about everything in the world, and think I should just pull the plug on the whole thing. Usually it’s on nights when I’m tired. So let’s get going, then.

I was not much of a Walmart fan from the very first time I set foot in one, before I knew much about the company at all. They always struck me as overcrowded and aggressively ugly, the sort of place where there’s not even a polite nod toward the idea of seduction in sales, the attractive arrangement of a $6 T-shirt on a mannequin or something. No, it has all the charm of GUM, the Soviet Macy’s: Here is shirt. You buy shirt. Is cheap shirt.

So it’s obvious what the target market is for Walmart’s latest brand extension: Wiring money. Could there be anything more depressing than this?

Lower-income consumers have been a core demographic for Walmart, but in recent quarters those shoppers have turned increasingly to dollar stores.

“Walmart-2-Walmart leverages our existing footprint and the large-scale systems that our company can bring to bear to enable a low-cost service such as this,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of services for Walmart United States.

More than 29 percent of households in the United States did not have a savings account in 2011, and about 10 percent of households did not have a checking account, according to a study sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And while alternative financial products give consumers access to services they might otherwise be denied, people who are shut out of the traditional banking system sometimes find themselves paying high fees for transactions as basic as cashing a check.

What a country this has become, when this one demographic bloc can support a chain as enormous as Walmart. Meanwhile, those aforementioned dollar stores are everywhere in Detroit.

Let’s skip to the bloggage:

First, one of mine, a profile of a rising gay public intellectual who actually engages his opponents with respect and moderation. Friend of a friend.

With the start of “Mad Men” comes Tom & Lorenzo’s Mad Style posts. I admit I hadn’t thought of the blue dress/black “Zou Bisou” dress connection. I’m surprised they haven’t pointed out how much Lou Avery, the temporary creative director, resembles Duck Philips, the headhunter who hired him.

It’s Detroit week at Grantland. Personally, I think nostalgia like this is not a healthy thing, but it’s a good story: Saving Tiger Stadium.

Watch some Real Housewives cry: “I never said you were a stripper!”

Have a good weekend, all. I hope the well refills.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 44 Comments


Every time we have computer trouble, I find myself both irritated (haven’t we reached the point in the internet that it should just flippin’ work?) and — if I solve the problem — amazingly satisfied. Problem-solving has never been my most marketable skill, so it feels good to do deductive reasoning from time to time. Is it this? Let’s take it out of the chain and see what happens. Is it this? Yes.

It was the router, the ugly-ass Cisco that wanted me to install all its stupid software, added a Guest network and couldn’t find the damn printer until J.C. passed through town and brought it to heel.

The new one’s an Apple. Yes, I paid the premium. My reward? I plugged it in, and it worked. The lagniappe? It’s pretty. Good enough for me.

So, on Wednesday I experimented with what the urban planners call “last-mile” bike commuting. That’s where you ride your bike to the bus stop, put it on the rack on the front of the bus, commute to the urban center, take the bike off and ride to your office. It worked swimmingly both ways, unless you are the sort who would be bothered by the raving homeless guy who lingered at the downtown stop for a time. Bonus: I had a bike for lunch, and a friend and I rode down to Eastern Market for a slice at Supino’s, the best pizza in this or many other towns. The crust is so thin you can eat it entirely without guilt, because they don’t lard the cheese on, either.

And then it was back to the office, passing between a major-league baseball park and the housing project where the Supremes grew up, now abandoned and undergoing demolition. All under china-blue skies. That is what I call a lunch hour.

The only potential sour note in this is the lack of a rack at my office building, and the management’s refusal to let me bring it upstairs. I can’t even lock it in the vestibule, which meant I had to secure it to a parking meter outside the front door. I invested in a bomb-ass lock, but nothing works all the time. That’s when I rely on my time-honored strategy of never having the nicest stuff. Today, a woman rode past me on a racing bike that looked like it had been imported from the 23rd century. If I recognize her blond ponytail, she’s a local amateur racer and probably needs it, but I wouldn’t want to leave it anywhere without a 50-pound anchor secured to, I dunno, maybe a car.

OK, so bloggage for the weekend?

Here’s the WashPost Wonkblog thing I posted in comments Wednesday, for you non-comments people. It explains why ophthalmologists are among the highest-billing Medicare doctors out there. Spoiler: Pharmaceuticals.

I guess some people won’t be watching Stephen Colbert when he takes over for David Letterman.

And then Jesus said, “Take my wife. Please.” Can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Great weekend, all. And happy birthday, J.C. Burns! You make this thing happen every single day.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol', Television | 53 Comments

Human relations.

I don’t feel entirely cool about Brendan Eich stepping down as CEO of Mozilla, over his financial support of California’s Prop 8 — the anti-gay marriage proposal — in 2008. But I am entirely astonished by what it took to topple him: An announced boycott by a dating service? And not even

As always, it depends on what you’re selling. Anti-gay attitudes don’t go over well in Silicon Valley, or any of the other Silicons out there. I know a lot of those guys are Republicans or libertarians or whatever, but they’re still young, and for young people, this is the way it’s going to be.

If you work for Hobby Lobby, they have their own way of doing things. If you work for the Catholic church, ditto. And while I hate the idea of all of us retreating to these walled-off camps, part of it is thinking that isn’t this what Chick-fil-A was about, and wasn’t the commentary then pretty much 180 degrees from what it is today?

I’d have continued to use Firefox no matter what. You can’t live your life that way, although I’ve done a boycott or two in the past, so it’s easy to understand the impulse.

This guy fell way too easily, though; something more has to be going on. At the moment, I’m catching up on last season’s “Mad Men” episodes and someone said, “If you wait patiently by the river, the body of your enemy will float by.” And someday you will, too.

Bloggage for a weekend?

Zumba for orthodox Jewish women. They only call it Jewmba when it uses Jewish music.

Yesterday was Doris Day’s 90th birthday. Here’s a great column about her and Rock Hudson, by James Wolcott. From some years back, still most excellent.

This is insane: A driver hits a boy who walked out in front of his car, stops to help and is beaten for his concern. The next driver won’t stop.

The weekend is here. Hallelujah.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 84 Comments

Slide show.

So what happens the day after thousands descend on a city center and drink themselves into a stupor in the interest of celebrating spring and the return of baseball season? This:


And this was pretty tame, as these things go. The vacant lots we could see from the office were strewn. Most of it was being picked up by day’s end, but the day was windy, and the wind picked up more of it.

And since we’ve already kicked off with a photo, let’s make this a picture-heavy post, because I’m tired and cranky and want to read a book or something. OK? Here goes.

How about a story you can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that you do NOT want to read the comments? This one:


And in case you’re wondering? No, it’s not exactly true; guess which TV network is involved in trying to make it so, however:

However, because it’s a lot more fun to say the big, bad ol’ government is oppressing people, the Narrative (there’s always a Narrative) quickly established that the feds told the boosters to tear out the seats (or as often misreported, bleachers). Two of the boosters appeared March 30 on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” and it only took until the first question for them to be asked if this government-ordered seat removal wasn’t un-American. The boosters, apparently not regular viewers of “Fox & Friends,” seemed a little surprised by that line of questioning.

Someone believes it is embarrassing to show her belly spots to the whole world, but she’s so cute what the hell:


Finally, we saw this over the weekend:


That’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which I didn’t expect to like but ended up enjoying very much. It’s absolutely over the top, disgusting at many points, too long by about 40 minutes — there were moments when I was mentally telling Thelma Schoonmaker, who has at least one Oscar, that she needed to cut this scene like, yesterday — and yet absolutely exhilarating. I should just face it: Martin Scorsese had me not at hello, but at the moment his own camera panned past him sitting on that step in “Taxi Driver.”


I’m just going to see all his movies until one of us dies.

Which could be tomorrow, if I don’t get some rest. Happy birthday to my sister Pam, and hump day to everyone.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 35 Comments

Here comes the fun.

Here’s an Opening Day text from a buddy, who was breakfasting at a place where, if you’re a singleton, they seat you at a table with others:

Tigers fans at my table now imitating black people arguing over the price of fried chicken. I’m going to kill them all and then fire a .44 into my soft palate. You can fight for my record collection and cameras in probate, if you’re so inclined.

I didn’t really understand what a mixed blessing the Tigers are, for locals. Every year, someone who lives in the city writes an angry op-ed aimed at suburbanites who descend upon the stadium district on Opening Day, drink themselves into a stupor, and spend the rest of the afternoon scattering trash, puking and urinating on walls. Because (belch) the city is a shithole, (urp) and who cares if there’s one more piece of trash blowing down the gutter (sorry, dude).

Not only was the bar around the corner from my office open at 7 a.m., the Fillmore, around the other corner, was open at 7:30, with live music and — of course — serving liquor. I understand it’s a big moneymaker, but lordy, won’t someone think of the children.

Related: What it costs to propose (via scoreboard) at every major-league ballpark.

At least the weather cooperated. Glorious and soft enough that spring’s promise no longer seems false. A few hardy sprouts are pushing up, although dirty snow piles are still everywhere and our back yard feels pretty hard. As always in these cases, it could be worse, and is, elsewhere.

So, Hobie Alter died this week, at 80. He democratized surfing, then sailing, and along the way — I love obituary details like this — was married five times:

“I have a tendency to get too involved with my projects. I’d go to 4 or 6 a.m., hear the newspaper drop, and know it was time to quit,” he told The Times in 1977. “It’s not the kind of thing that’s conducive to a marriage. It tends to drive everyone around you crazy.”

I’ve sailed a Hobie Cat a time or three, and they are a blast, if a little quick to get up on one hull. But lots of people want exactly that in a fun little beach boat. I regret I never got to try out the 16-footer, which comes with a rig for hiking out; you put on sort of a big diaper, hook on to the mast, and hang your ass way out to counterbalance the heeling boat.

Hobie built himself a career where he never had to wear a necktie, or even shoes. Not bad.

So. A nice easy nine-miler today, basically a grocery run (coconut milk, soup) with a long detour, something to work the kinks out and map the worst of the potholes. Out and back in 45 minutes and, to my relief, everything worked. We’ll see about tomorrow, but as Mondays go? I’ll take it. And that’s no foolin’.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life | 43 Comments