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:


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:


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


We’ve been having a little problem with the water here in Michigan; maybe you’ve heard.

When the Flint story began to break big, I asked Alan to check our water service line, and he did, reporting back: Lead. OK, no need to panic. The whole country is full of lead or lead-welded infrastructure, and it’s not necessarily an E-ticket to brain damage. When the dangers of lead were first grasped, we didn’t instantly dig them all up, we started adding anti-corrosive agents to municipal water systems. Over time — this is among the 10,000 fun facts about water treatment that every state resident has learned in the last six months or so — this builds up a layer of protective coating on your pipes, so no more lead leaching into your water.

(In fact, one of the problems with Flint now is, the residents are so leery of running their water for any reason that even though the city is now buying treated, finished water from Detroit again, they aren’t running enough through their home pipes to allow them to heal, so to speak. But I digress.)

So, theoretically, because we’ve been drinking treated water from Detroit since we’ve lived here, we should be fine. I didn’t rush to have our water tested, figuring the labs would be inundated with samples from Flint, where they legitimately have reason for concern. I didn’t want to take up lab time because I feel nervous.

Then elevated lead levels were found in a few isolated spots in the local public schools, and I overheard one of the janitors talking to the lifeguard at the pool, saying, “Well, what did they expect? They took the samples at the end of Easter vacation. That water had been sitting in the pipes for days.” Personally? What I expect would be no or hardly any lead in my water. So that was worrisome. And as more emails are released from various government entities, a culture of gaming the testing samples is becoming evident; there’s a protocol that allows outlier readings to be thrown out, or averaged, or something, so that the reaction when a bad sample turns up isn’t oh no lead rush to fix it, but quick get a bunch more samples, so we can throw that one out.

Enough time has passed that the Flint samples must have eased off at the state lab; time for Nance’s peace of mind. It’ll cost $26, assuming I filled out the form properly – it seems very to-the-trade, and how do you like that tiny envelope?


I’ll keep you posted on the extent of our brain damage.

What a weekend. Spring is here, and we set off for the local Junior League’s Decorator Show House. It was our family doctor’s father’s house, who I gather was something of an eccentric (when he got tired of keeping up the landscaping, he brought in goats, and ignored all official attempts to evict them), and a pack rat. After his death, the family spent months just clearing the place out. Late one New Year’s Eve, we got a text message inviting us there for one final, impromptu throwdown, and we went. It’s a spectacular house, and even with its ’70s shag carpet and years of neglect, it was clear the good bones were still there. Paul, our doctor, showed us the secret room where the booze was hidden during Prohibition (you could see the bottle marks on the floor), and the basement dry dock — yes, it has a canal leading to a boathouse that can be pumped out and boats hoisted for storage and repair, a feature that I’m sure got its share of action during the ’20s, too.

Every lakefront house in Grosse Pointe has some sort of Prohibition story attached to it, many of them b.s., but this is one whose stories I believe.

Anyway, the decorating was uneven, as most show houses are, but there were a lot of nice touches. The best were the ones where they let those good bones show through. Some moneybags will own it now, and it will nevermore host goats, I imagine. How often do you visit a house with its own lock, and not the kind on the doors?

So, then, a bit of bloggage?

Neil Steinberg with another Trump rant:

Have you looked at his face? The strain. The white circles around the eyes. He just doesn’t look like a well man. Yes, his keeling over dead sometime in the next six months would be a deus ex machina solution. But God looks kindly upon America. Or did.

Not to get overly personal and mean, which smacks of Trumpism. I don’t wish the man dead, just not living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The toughest challenge, facing him, is not to become like him. Because we lose that game, since he’s better at being him than we are.

“When fighting monsters,” as my favorite Nietszche quote goes, “take care not to become a monster.”

A daffy fashion piece by Robin Givhan, about Elizabeth Warren’s sleeves. Headline: Elizabeth Warren is sending you a subliminal message with her sleeves. For real.

The week ahead will be a bear, but I think I’m ready. I better be. You too?

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Detroit life | 79 Comments

T*t soup.

We went out Saturday night, and in the manner of Olds, were inside with the latchstring pulled before 10:30 p.m. I could have probably gone later, but it would have required another food/alcohol game plan, and the couch is so, so inviting at that hour.

Anyway, being without cable but with broadband, I found the president’s speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner with little trouble, and had it playing on my phone as I drifted in and out of consciousness. When we were out earlier, one of my friends said, “I read that the Key & Peele guys write his jokes,” like that was a terrible thing. I responded that of course Obama has a joke writer, like virtually every comedian. Besides, the joke on the page is only half of the miracle; the rest is in the delivery, and that’s all his. And, as has been noted a million times before, Obama has spectacular timing and delivery skills.

You can read the whole speech transcript here, if you like. You’ve probably already read the best zingers:

Anyway, here we are, my eighth and final appearance at this unique event. And I am excited. If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans. That’s right. That’s right.

…And yet somehow, despite all this, despite the churn, in my final year my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high I was trying to decide on my major.

…Sitting at the same table I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it’s not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in depth. And he’s actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.

What an election season. For example, we’ve got the bright new face of the Democratic party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders. Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or, to put in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.

You can find your own favorites. The last Facebook message I got was from a friend who heard Larry Wilmore’s speech, which ended with this bit, which actually played in a key of pride and nostalgia —

Thank you for being a good sport, Mr. President, but all jokes aside, let me just say how much it means for me to be here tonight. I’ve always joked that I voted for the president because he’s black. And people say, “Well, do you agree with his policies?” And I always said, “I agree with the policy that he’s black.” I said, “As long as he keeps being black, I’m good.” They’d say, “What about Iraq?” “Is he still black?”

But behind that joke is a humble appreciation for the historical implications for what your presidency means.

When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a black quarterback. Now think about that. A black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team — and now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world.

Words alone do me no justice. …Yo, Barry, you did it, my n—-. You did it.

Only he didn’t say n-dash-dash. He said, “my nigga,” and I guess parts of the mediasphere lost their shit. Feh. The world, she changes every day.

A good weekend in our neck of the woods. The theme was sweat: First in Saturday’s workout, then in Sunday’s schvitz, the last until September. In between our friends who recently honeymooned in Napa held Taco Night, and we marveled at their embryonic wine cellar and stories of spectacular dining experiences. Face it, Napa is just grownup yuppie Disneyland. All the pleasures — food, wine, million-thread-count sheets.

The schvitz was pretty great, too. The proprietor turned on the bubbles in the jacuzzi, which are some SERIOUS DAMN BUBBLES. I think my back actually got numb. Everyone in the spa was topless, and I was reminded of one of the funnier lines from “Sex and the City,” when Miranda, at the Playboy Mansion, rounds a corner in the grotto to find a similar sight. “Look,” she says. “Tit soup.”

Bloggage! I know you’re all Princed out, but I chuckled over this Roy take on a National Review Prince column, so what the hell, you should enjoy, too.

And Neil Steinberg disposed of Chris Christie nicely here. By “nicely,” I mean, “with a stiletto.”

…Christie showed up at the Republican debates, delivered his prepackaged zingers and hit his cues. And when it was over he was among the first former opponents to embrace Donald Trump.

As a reward, Trump lets him join the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album cover melange of models and GOP mercenaries who have drifted over to his banner and are allowed to stand behind him at speeches.

Christie, though, is noteworthy for that expression, that stunned, miserable stare that often comes over his face. I think of that woman trapped in the hive in “Aliens,” who croaks “Kill me.”

Finally, last week I mentioned not keeping up with internet culture so much anymore. One individual I did notice from my keeping-up days, though, was Jeff Jarvis, who was one of those post-9/11 guys, the purported Democratic peacenik who went whole-hog for the warblogs, and later became convinced blogs were oh-so-much-better than boring old ink-on-paper stuff, etc. (It’s more complicated than that, but I don’t have time.) Lately he’s reinvented himself as an eminently parody-able journalism futurist, and a parody Twitter account — @profjeffjarvis — has been parodying him for a while. The other day, Esquire’s website ran a piece by the spoofer, which made the original recipe very, very mad. Gawker took him down nicely.

Busy week ahead. I am not tanned, but I am rested and ready. Bring it on.

Posted at 12:20 am in Current events, Detroit life | 41 Comments


After a couple years of shooting Kate and the band, I’m sort of out of angles, but I never claimed to be a photographer. So it was nice to get this snap from one of Alan’s colleagues, whom we met at this show Saturday night. Guess what? She’s a photo editor, so she’s got the eye:


Head-bangingly good.

How was your weekend? I’ve reached Peak Prince, I think. Neil Steinberg argues that every celebrity doesn’t need to get the Full Diana (a phrase I wish I’d turned, alas), although I think he forgets what the Full Diana was. We’re here at, what? Four days after Prince assumed room temperature? He’s already been cremated and funeral’d, and inevitably the world will move on, by Wednesday at the latest. I seem to recall the Full Diana going for at least three weeks. The Full Reagan was about 10 days. The world needs content for all the content providers, so it’s to be expected.

But the fine weather continued, if a little chillier this weekend. Sunny, though, and by Sunday even fine for shirtsleeves. Did some grillin’, did some chillin’, spent a little time looking over the comments and marveling at you people. FYI, Danny, my friends visited Bistro Jeanty in Napa on your recommendation and said it was fantastic, and they’ll probably be back in the next couple of days. They even sent a photo:


Marrow, mmmm. Perfect food for carnivores.

And LAMary, I am now using “tired and emotional” as my new synonym for “drunk,” a la Princess Margaret.

So today I am a happy girl. Tomorrow I might not, but for now, let us wallow. A little bloggage for y’all? Sure.

An essay appropriately titled, “The End of Empathy,” right here:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for his family because he’s not alive for it. He died of a heroin overdose last February.

This year is even harder than the last. I started weeping at midnight and eventually cried myself to sleep. Today’s symptoms include explosions of sporadic sobbing and an insurmountable feeling of emptiness. My mom posted a gut-wrenching comment on my brother’s Facebook page about the unfairness of it all. Her baby should be here, not gone. “Where is the God that is making us all so sad?” she asked.

In response, someone — a stranger/(I assume) another human being — commented with one word: “Junkie.”

Let’s give this whole thing some context: this one word was posted in response to a comment posted by my mother on the Facebook page of her only son on his would-be birthday had he not died at thirty years old of a heroin overdose less than two years ago.

Maybe you saw the photo that appeared over the weekend, of little Prince George being introduced to the Obamas when they visited the U.K. The pic is heart-meltingly sweet, with little George in his jammies and robe and Obama in the deep-squat, meet-kids-eye-to-eye pose he does so well. I made the mistake of reading the comments on one news site where I saw it, and I won’t be making that mistake again. Talk about a lack of empathy.

Generally I leave keeping up with the wingnuts on the right to Roy, but I follow a few myself. I couldn’t help but notice that Rod Dreher, whose middle name is very likely Hysteria, has been on a roll lately about transsexuals in bathrooms, just simmering with OMG and THIS IS CRAZY and so forth. I can understand his argument, not being utterly bereft of empathy myself, but on Friday he had a particularly screechy post sandwiched between two tributes to Prince, and I just got pissed, because it reminded me of one of the best things Lance Mannion ever wrote, about Kelsey Grammer and his Conservative Republican act:

Grammer doesn’t live anything like a Republican-approved lifestyle. He lives the life of the sort of big city liberal Republicans affect to despise. And as far as I know he’s quite happy with that life and has no plans to change it. He’s not about to move to any place Republicans regard as part of the “real America.” He’s not leaving Hollywood or New York for Topeka, Biloxi, or Wasilla. He’s not about to give up acting to start an oil company, become a hedge fund manager, or a cattle rancher.

…Now, I don’t believe that any Republican should have to go live in Topeka, Biloxi, Wasilla, or anywhere else on Sarah Palin’s short list of places that count as the real America. But I do believe that happy and contented East and West Coast elitists like Grammer—and conservative members of the punditocracy in Washington—should stop talking as if they believe that the lives lived in places like Topeka, Biloxi, and Wasilla are more “authentically” American than lives lived in Brooklyn, Brookline, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, or San Antonio and that the people in the one set of places are more American than the people living in the other.

And it’s probably too much to ask, but could they acknowledge that the lives they live in the most decadent parts of decadent Blue America have been made possible for them by liberalism?

People like Dreher, they want all their culture. They want plays and orchestras and great food and interesting novels and museums and all the rest of it, but they don’t want to acknowledge that many, even most, of the people who produce such things and run the institutions that encourage them, are mostly filthy liberals who don’t care if a transsexual woman might still be packing a penis into the ladies room. Confine them to their authentically real communities of Fritters, Ala., for a few months and they’d go stir crazy, but they’d never acknowledge that Prince, who may have been a Jehovah’s Witness but also danced in his undies and gave Tipper Gore fits, might be one of the Other.

OK, it is now time to top off the weekend with “Game of Thrones.” Later, folks. Let’s have ourselves a week, shall we?

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Detroit life | 81 Comments

Bringing home the paper.

Thank you for all your kind thoughts about our probable success in the SPJ-Detroit contest, but it wasn’t quite so grand. We have always entered the Online category, ‘cuz that’s what we are, and always done well, because there aren’t very many online-only publications in Michigan. Which is fine, but you want your wins to be significant. So this year we entered the largest print category, up against the big dailies.

And we won three awards. But the one that had my name on it (along with, y’know, three others, and the unseen name of our editor, who made it immeasurably better) was a first place.


That was the college-drinking project, fyi.

So it was a good night. I had three glasses of wine and regretted it yesterday, because I am old and can no longer handle liquor. (Next stop: The grave.) Either that, or I didn’t have enough to eat, a strong possibility as I try to go Clean again. It was still a fun night. One of Alan’s staffers won Young Journalist of the Year, so a good time was had on both sides of the Nall-Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere.

May I just say? While you guys were carrying the load here over the last 48 hours, I was highly amused by Danny’s comment on the Tinder date, a very only-in-California story. And I was moved and heartened by MichaelG’s travel to Europe. Sail on, sailor.

Perhaps weighed down by trying to process a mere 12 ounces of wine, Wednesday was a snoozer. Fortunately, the bloggage is not. Somehow I got on the Wayne County prosecutor’s press-release mailing list, and every so often it delivers a gem:

An American Airlines co-pilot, John Francis Maguire, 50 (DOB 9/30/65), of Pennsylvania has been charged with the misdemeanor charge of :Aircraft – Operating Under the Influence. On March 26, 2016, at approximately 6:45 a.m. at Detroit Metropolitan Airport it is alleged that Maguire in the cockpit of an American Airlines plane and was under the influence of alcohol when he was detained and then arrested. He was later released by authorities on the same day.

Maguire will be arraigned and have a pre-trial hearing on May 11, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in 34th District Court.

Prosecutor Worthy said, “Although we do not often hear of pilots being allegedly intoxicated, the laws apply to everyone – whether one is on the roads or airways.”

There’s nothing worse than drunken white girls, especially when they run in packs:

It’s a Friday night in Provincetown, in late August, and the mise-en-scène of this delicate ecosystem, plopped atop a sandbar in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is being threatened by a new and unfamiliar scourge. They are called, simply, The Bachelorettes.

Provincetown is, of course, as gay as …a very gay thing.

Determined to find some bachelorettes who will let me spend the night bar-hopping around Provincetown with them, I go to MacMillan Pier on Saturday morning to await the first boat from Boston. Immediately, I encounter a sextuplet of blondes wearing team bride tank tops. Maid of honor Stacey will not shake my hand. I ask if I can hang with them tonight.

“I don’t think so,” Stacey says. “Girls only.”

I am completely befuddled. “In Provincetown?” I ask. She is standing only feet away from a gaggle of bearded men sipping Muscle Milk and talking about Beyoncé.

“Sorry,” Stacey says in a smug, dense way.

I’m told they do that here, too, but I haven’t been invited to a bachelorette party in decades.

Finally, while I know there are a great many charter-school foes in this readership (coff-Brian-coff), after a few years of reading and reporting on them, I think the whole movement was best summed up by a charter expert who told me, “I’ve been in charters so good they make me want to give up a tenured professorship and go teach in them. And there are some that are just terrible.”

Here’s one in Detroit that Bridge wrote about. Guess which kind it is?

Now I’m going to swallow a melatonin and try to make up for the sin of drinking on a Tuesday night.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media | 31 Comments

Baby’s first existential bleakness.

My first exposure to the work of Franz Kafka came sometime in high school. I read “The Metamorphosis” and “In the Penal Colony,” one as assigned reading, the other just because. The term “Kafkaesque” was being thrown around the culture, and I thought I should know what it meant.

(This led to a sub-fling with the French existentialists, but after “No Exit” I realized these frog poseurs were best for reading in public, or casually displaying on top of a notebook in a cafe or pizza parlor. “This? Oh, yes – I’m into Sartre,” etc.)

I’m sure the assigned piece was “The Metamorphosis,” as I recall my stern-but-amusing 20th Century Literature teacher (this was in high school, senior year) chortling over the first line: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” (This may vary, depending on your translation. I like “gigantic insect” better than “monstrous verminous bug,” which I found online.) “In the Penal Colony” kind of blew my mind, or at least the descriptions of the harrow did.

So imagine my surprise when I looked at the Facebook feed of a former colleague and discovered “My First Kafka,” or Kafka for children. From the Amazon reviews:

This kid’s book is a great one for the intellectual parents in your life. Sedate the kid in front of the TV with Spongebob blasting and read yourself this beautiful book. Look around and the shattered remains of your life and fall into a beautifully illustrated pit of existential despair.

I was so square, I read my kid Beatrix Potter. If you ask me, those animals knew existential despair, especially Peter Rabbit.

Of course, if you want existential despair you can hardly do better than this:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.24.18 PM

I generally power through winter with only my fair allotment of whiny bitching, but lately I think something changes in my body at this time of year, and I actually am physically colder. Because I’ve been freezing all week, and the above makes me want to weep. (When I visited San Francisco a few years back, we left Detroit in the middle of a standard withering summer heat wave. The first few days I strolled the night streets in a T-shirt, looking quizzically at the tiny Asian girls shivering in down jackets and wool hats. Within two days I had adjusted, but never put on anything thicker than a hooded sweatshirt.)

Speaking of which, some friends of mine are eloping to San Fran/Napa Valley in a couple of weeks. They’re trying to get reservations at the French Laundry, but they’re booked for months. Any of you Californians know the secret number to call?

So, bloggage:

You saw the Daily News front page. It looks like Eduardo Rafael Cruz is having a difficult time dealing with those New York values.

The headline’s not in all caps, but it should be: 20,000 LESBIANS IN THE DESERT: WELCOME TO THE DINAH, A WORLD WITHOUT MEN.

I usually try to post three links, but shouldn’t 20,000 lesbians count double? I think so. And with that, I wish you a happy weekend.

Posted at 12:29 am in Detroit life, Popculch | 70 Comments

Talk me down.

I try not to get too upset over politics in…what, March of a presidential election year. Lots and lots and lots can change in the next few months. So we’ll stipulate all that.

But that said, Wednesday was the first day I woke up and really-really realized that at this time next year, the first-light radio could be murmuring at me about President Trump. I once felt this was merely a high-wire joke. But the odds have dropped from 500-to-1 to 100-to-1, maybe lower.

Admittedly, the Thomas Frank piece I linked to in yesterday’s comments had something to do with it. He could clinch the nomination and do what all candidates do – move to the center – but do it in a way that soft-pedals the racism and increases the populism. Hillary has the world’s hardest job: To transform her eminently qualified self into something more…likable. Which, as any woman who has to be simultaneously tough and kind and smart but not-too-smart and honest but a Clinton can tell you is, well, it’s a tall order.

Maybe I’m panicking. Someone talk me down.

A second day at the office this week. We moved from the place closer to the center of town, which was informally called “the FEMA office” for its charmlessness, which admittedly, we did little to mitigate. But we were there little enough that we decided it wasn’t worth the money, so we relocated to a co-working space a few miles up the road – New Center, for you Detroiters.

I have a feeling co-working is the next great sitcom opportunity, but it isn’t widespread enough for the population at large to get it. Everybody goes to one space? But hardly anyone works together? But they do? And there are man-buns and anxieties over noise and courtesy? And there are popups in the common kitchen? And the usual office stuff about who makes the next pot of coffee?

Yes, there are all these things. We have only begun to explore the possibilities. Yesterday I moved between four or maybe six different seats. I felt like Goldilocks, looking for the one that had just the right combination of light, back support and noise level, but I’m figuring it out. And I’m enough of an extrovert that just being around people who are working — even if they’re working quietly, murmuring into the inline microphones on their phones and tap-tap-tapping on their Mac keyboards — invigorating.

And today’s popup was sublime:


I had the tacos and the carrot salad. Clashing flavor profiles for sure, but I needed the vegetables. And both were wonderful. Of course I spilled one on my shirt, but missed my silk scarf, so #winning.

Just a little bloggage:

My friend and former Knight-Wallace Fellow Yavuz Bandar sounded enough of an alarm to wake me from my Trump preoccupation with this. Did you know what’s happening to journalism in Turkey? I didn’t. I need to keep up better.

Roy, as usual, has a great take on the conservatives’ reaction to Tuesday’s elections.

And with that, I’ll bid you a pleasant Thursday.

Posted at 12:23 am in Current events, Detroit life | 36 Comments

Naked brunch.

In Detroit, the business known simply as the Schvitz has rather a scandalous reputation, not because of its daytime life as a traditional (built c. 1930) Russian baths for the old men who still believe in that sort of thing, but for its weekend incarnation as a swingers’ club. Google a little and you’ll find multiple stories about it, but John Carlisle’s piece from 2009 is comprehensive, covering both sides of the place, which in shorthand is basically a bit of old Detroit that hasn’t yet been corrupted by new Detroit. (Although it’s surely coming. I hear schvitzing is popular among the paleo crowd.)

It’s a men’s club in its day job and a swinger’s club on the weekends, and as I have neither a penis nor the inclination to have public sex with strangers, I figured I’d never see the inside of the place. Until I recently learned that a woman I know on a sort of tertiary basis — she used to own a restaurant I enjoyed — was hosting a public, women-only brunch there, on the first Sunday of every month. Bring a dish to share, a bottle if you like, plus $25, and you too can sit on the same steam-room benches the Purple Gang once occupied. Of course I went.

I tried to get some friends to go, but one was busy and the other said she was too hungover.

“Are you kidding me?” I replied. “That’s what schvitzing was INVENTED for.” The Russians spend half their time swilling vodka, and the other half moaning and sweating it out in steam rooms. But it was a barfy kind of hangover, so she got a pass. I ended up making vague plans to touch base with a woman I met three days ago. Nothing like being naked in a steam room to get acquainted with a new friend.

I packed a bag with a robe, towel and my shower stuff from my swimming bag, and considered whether to bring a bathing suit. Finally decided nope. Saunas and steam were meant to be experienced in one’s birthday suit, and I am too old to be shy about my body. I bought a cold bottle of champagne and got on the freeway.

Maybe 30 women were already there when I arrived, and maybe 30 more came after, making for a nice take for the Schvitz on what would be a dead day. Everybody was already in a robe, pouring mimosas and gabbing around the food. I dropped off my contribution (the rest of the pumpkin muffins I made for breakfast), put the wine on the bar table and got undressed. The thought of filling up on eggs before a steam sounded nauseating, so I popped the cork and poured a glass of bubbly, then headed downstairs in my robe.

What a place. The word “dank” applies, but then you realize dank is sort of the point. The Schvitz dates from an era when daily bathing wasn’t a custom, and communal bathing was an important part of social life. No one was worried about waffle-knit spa robes or essential oils; the idea was to open the pores with steam, close them with a plunge into the cold pool, repeat as needed. It’s dimly lit, probably as clean as a place 85 years old can be, and it gets the damn job done.

I never did make it all the way into the cold pool, just a little splashing. The water was 54 degrees. Maybe next time.

The old Russian guys who run the place have seen every incarnation of the human form that it’s possible to see (especially on swingers’ night), but still, when the steam-room door opened and one walked through to the laundry room, eyes averted, the conversation stopped briefly. Even the women in bikinis seemed a bit taken aback, but it’s hard to imagine a less sexy place than this; I honestly don’t see how the swingers manage, but maybe the atmosphere is part of the taboo.

This happened a couple of times — the walkthrough, always with eyes turned to the wall without the benches. I relaxed into the heat even more, until I realized two glasses of champagne were going directly to my head

I went upstairs and found a crock pot with Italian wedding soup in it. I had a bowl, had a muffin and two big glasses of water, then headed back down to the steam. By now, almost every bench was full, maybe 40 women in there, almost all at least topless, a fair number nude, yakking up a storm, everybody having a great time. The door opened, and the Russian guy came in again. This time he saw the hostess on the bench and walked right over to ask her something, then turned away to throw some cold water on the stones for more steam. There was some squealing, and he threw in another bucket before turning to ask if that was enough. One guy, 80 tits, everybody pouring sweat, cheering for steam.

I’ve felt less safe in doctors offices. What a great way spend an afternoon. As I left, I told the other Russian guy, Dosvidanya. Most people think it simply means “goodbye,” but it literally translates to “until we meet again.” We will. This is going on my calendar for the rest of the year.

Now it’s Sunday afternoon and I have to Truth-Squad the Democratic debate tonight. This means I’m missing my Sunday-night cable shows, but that’s why God sent us streaming. And since I no longer have cable, that means I have to find it online, and that, too, is why God sent us streaming.

So, mellow as I am post-steam, I have little to add in the way of bloggage. Or maybe not; let’s see what I can scrounge up…

This is a few days old, and serves as an answer to last weekend’s “Trump is all Obama’s fault,” which went around for a couple of days, but ran out of air fast, mainly because it was preposterous. I’m always tickled by Matt Taibbi’s turns of phrase:

(Karl) Rove correctly guessed that a generation of watching TV and Hollywood movies left huge blocs of Americans convinced that people who read books, looked at paintings and cared about spelling were either serial killers or scheming to steal bearer bonds from the Nakatomi building. (Even knowing what a bearer bond is was villainous).

Gotta love a good reference to the Nakatomi building.

Nancy Reagan is dead. I wasn’t a fan, but not a hater, either. Like many people I once found irritating, she grew on me after she left the spotlight. I’d look at her in her later years and think, frail. She was a truly birdlike woman, so thin she looked like she’d blow away in a stiff breeze. Ah, well — we’re all going to the same place, so let’s let her mourners mourn.

Finally, a companion headline to the one I posted Friday. I just love it:


Have a great week, all.

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Detroit life | 58 Comments

Not covered in drivers ed.

It looks as though the Oregon situation is, as we say in the biz, developing. Discuss, if you like.

I know we generally start with a little banter before getting to the bloggage, but really, can this wait?

Detroit — A Detroit man watching a porn movie while driving his car got into an accident and died.

The man, who wasn’t wearing pants, was watching the movie on his cellphone, said police.

Clifford Ray Jones, 58, wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected through the sunroof.

A state police spokesman said it’s the strangest incident he ever encountered.

The accident happened at 3:30 a.m. As Alan sometimes says, “I suspect alcohol was involved.”

Now, the banter: Another week lurches toward its midpoint. Sorta scattered at this end, trying to get a couple things going, but nothing really catching hold yet. It’s like scratching a match and trying to get it to light. You know it’ll happen eventually, but it’s going to take a few scratches first. But I swam fairly well Tuesday. You flail in one part of your life, and you do better in another.

Or, as Clifford Ray Jones might have put it: Just keep both hands on the wheel.

I wish I had more words for you today. I wish I had more links. But I have this:

Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker has been following Trump:

Trump’s fans tend to express little regard for political norms. They cheer at his most outlandish statements. O’Reilly asked Trump if he meant it when he said that he would “take out” the family members of terrorists. He didn’t believe that Trump would “put out hits on women and children” if he were elected. Trump replied, “I would do pretty severe stuff.” The Mesa crowd erupted in applause. “Yeah, baby!” a man near me yelled. I had never previously been to a political event at which people cheered for the murder of women and children.

But right now, I have a little more work to bang out. Later.

Posted at 12:07 am in Detroit life | 44 Comments