Oh, shut up.

The longer you watch the Olympics, the more the suckitude intrudes. Why is golf an Olympic sport? Why are zillionaire American pros permitted to play Olympic tennis? Why can’t any of these color commentators just shut the hell up once in a while?

And of course, why do idiots keep weighing in on Simone Biles’ “mental health?” I put it in quotes because the way some of them talk, you’d think she’s hallucinating demons perched on the uneven bars, when it seems pretty clear what is happening: She’s had enough, and she’s done, and she’s not going to risk breaking her neck for the entertainment of a bunch of fat-asses in Barcaloungers, and that’s that.

With all we’ve learned about women’s gymnastics in recent years, isn’t it time for us to shut up and listen to them? I think so. I also think it’s grimly hilarious that the people who are saying but-but-but-Kerri-Strug and but-but-but-the-Magnificent-Seven can now hear directly from Strug and, oh, Dominique Moceanu, and they and others who have been in Biles’ shoes are all saying, girl, you did the right thing. Also, Rachael Denhollander:

And many, many more.

Even Mitch Albom got up off his cash-stuffed bed and phoned in some piece of shit I won’t link to because it’s paywalled and also, it sucks. But here’s one passage:

“At the end of the day, we’re human, too,” she told the media. ”We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

It’s hard to argue with that sentence. It’s just weird to hear it at the Olympics — in a sport that is defined by Olympic performances. It’d be one thing if Tom Brady stepped away from Game 15 of the regular season, saying he was burned out or needed a break. It’d be another thing if he did it after the first snap of the Super Bowl.

As many have pointed out: When Tom Brady has a bad day at work, he throws interceptions. When Simone Biles does, she can end up in a wheelchair.

Of course, only idiots still read Albom. Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, Sally Jenkins wrote one outstanding column about her and USA Gymnastics, may that outfit rot in hell, today. She had another really good one on the utter idiocy of the debates over what female athletes should wear in their performances two days ago.

But both of those are paywalled, and this one isn’t, by my old colleague Dave Jones, about the malign influence of one ambitious NBC executive on the Olympics and, by extension, every American who watched or competed:

The outgoing network showcased the athletes of the world and told us their stories. It could be Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila or Kenyan 1,500- and 5,000-meter specialist Kip Keino or Russian gymnast Olga Korbut or Russian weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev or Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci – as well as the great American champions such as swimmer Mark Spitz, skaters Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill, decathlete Bruce Jenner and gymnast Mary Lou Retton and diver Greg Louganis. Whatever and whoever the great stories were, ABC found them, regardless of nationality. Which is, after all the ideal of the Olympics.

Under Ebersol’s command at NBC, all that changed. Obsession with Americans and only Americans, to the point of almost jingoism, was the theme. Nobody else was worth personalizing. Foreigners were essentially made adversaries. The nightly medal count became paramount.

Ebersol was the man who gave us schlockmeister John Tesh as a preeminent event host, complete with his… what would you call them – illustrated lyrical narratives? – before the ’92 Barcelona Games women’s gymnastics sessions. If a Celine Dion ballad of the era could have been whipped for 90 seconds in a Cuisinart with a tablespoon of orchid nectar, it would have emerged as a John Tesh NBC Olympics essay.

And it’s a fun read, too.

Finally, Danny Raskin died this week. He was 102. You probably don’t know who that is. A columnist for the Jewish News here in Detroit for no fewer than 80 years, he wrote a restaurant/around town column called “Best of Everything.” This was the best obit, and the kicker is hilarious:

Scott Raskin said his father was wearing his customary suit and tie when they went to lunch at the Stage Deli in West Bloomfield shortly before the onset of COVID-19.

Mr. Raskin, then 101, spoke briefly to another diner there, a bent and aged-looking woman Scott Raskin guessed to be around 80.

Then “he turned to me,” he said, “and told me, ‘I dated her mother. She was a looker.'”

And with that? Another storm is coming, high winds, so better get this posted in case the power goes out.

Posted at 8:18 pm in Current events, Media | 23 Comments
 

Eve of the eve.

I think the party will probably be OK, but I’m still nervous. I keep repeating my mantra: It’s not the food, it’s the guest list. And we have a good one for this — excellent talkers, good storytellers. If the tenderloin hits the driveway, it’ll be another good story to tell, not a tragedy. We can always call for pizzas, as Alison Roman helpfully points out in one of her books.

But I still have a bit of cleaning and a lot of prep work to do.

You can do me a solid and hit this column of mine, if you like. It’s about (sigh) Mitch Albom. Yes, after I swore I was done picking on him. But this guy — he keeps finding new ways to chap my ass.

OK, then, it’s a rainy Friday and I for one am here for it. Something in my Midwestern nature doesn’t trust too many sunny days in a row, and we had a week of glorious ones, but it’s time to water the earth. As long as it quits by tomorrow evening, and we’re assured it will.

Happy weekend to all.

Posted at 8:07 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 29 Comments
 

Read that, not this.

You know what I’m doing this weekend? Having a dinner party. For TEN people. What was I thinking? This is madness, and I’m still trying to work out the menu. So far: Mixed grill of beef tenderloin, chicken and maybe some shrimp, a fancier-than-average potato salad, grilled vegetables and…whatever. Open to suggestions, must feed 10. I have yet to shop.

Which is to say, this blog may be scarce the rest of the week. However! Neil Steinberg has written a fantastic one about Eric Zorn, who is taking the buyout and leaving the Chicago Tribune in the wake of its purchase by Alden Capital. It’s long, but absolutely worth the time, and has some very fine lines therein, including:

The thing Eric and I do, comment intelligently in a well-written fashion, isn’t what’s driving the conversation anymore, not the way wild extremism does. Fanatics glitter in the spotlight while moderation creeps off to die alone in the shadows.

How does it feel? Like a brontosaurus, under a darkening sky, up to its knees in a bog, slowly chewing a big mouthful of decaying vegetation, gazing uncomprehendingly at the heaving ribs of a stegosaurus that has toppled over on its side and is breathing hard, eyes staring, fixed.

Something like that.

Maybe it hit me because I’ve been doing my basement-cleaning, running across old clips, and feeling very dinosaur-y myself.

Anyway, I have much work to do. Much, much work. Read Neil, and we’ll talk later.

Posted at 10:21 am in Media | 45 Comments
 

Looking back.

How many of you have had a mentor in your career? What did it do for you? I ask because I got through another box in my long-term basement-cleaning project Saturday, and ran across some stories I did way back in the day and had almost entirely forgotten.

One brought back memories of the last few years in Fort Wayne, when the paper was starting its ruinous cycle of cut-cut-cut, which eventually led to its humiliating and ignominious death. I’d heard there was a newspaper war going on in North Manchester, a small town two counties away. The owner of the long-standing weekly had sold it as part of his midlife crisis (he’d decided he really wanted to be a teacher), then was horrified to realize, too late, that the buyer was a fire-breathing Christian ignoramus, who used his new mouthpiece to run syndicated crap from the know-nothing right. (One editorial pooh-poohed the crazy idea of evolution, as I recall.) The former editor retaliated by starting his own weekly, and the war was on, all played out in a town of about 1,700 households, so it was shot through with small-town drama and amusing detail, and was fun to report and read.

And as I recall, it was a struggle to even get it published. The managing editor at the time hated Features (he came from Sports) and liked to offer sparkling criticisms like, “I don’t know why we spend so much ink covering the symphony, when tractor pulls get bigger crowds.” Anyway, there was a fair bit of why-are-we-doing-this-story and who-cares-about-this-stuff from the higher-ups, and it was only the latest in a long, long string of incidents that convinced me I’d way overstayed at that place, but the alternatives were not great either; the whole industry was contracting, and I had a husband and young child, mortgage and all the rest of it. And the market for stories like that one — quirky, offbeat, low-stakes features that are just good yarns — was drying up everywhere.

In looking for someone else to blame for my bad choices, it occurred to me that if I’d had a mentor earlier in my career, I might have made better ones. But I didn’t. When I asked for it, from editors I respected, I inevitably got some version of this: “You know, I have eight reporters to oversee, half of whom struggle with subject-verb agreement. You aren’t one of my problems. Keep doing what you’re doing.” At a bigger paper, it would have been easier, but in a contracting small one, it just couldn’t happen.

If this sounds like self-pity to you, it probably is. I don’t spend much time looking back, but digging through your old clips will do that to you.

I threw out that story, and all the rest of them. Saved the loose photographs. Shook off the resentment and watched that water go right on under the bridge.

Then I vacuumed and we went sailing in a nice breeze. So there’s that.

Just one piece of bloggage today, a lovely story for Pride and you LGBTQ folks: Looking for Uncle Allan, written by a former colleague of my Alan, at the Detroit News. It’s about being gay and finding out you had a gay ancestor:

I know Uncle Allan ditched Detroit for Manhattan lights as soon as he was able, sometime around 1912, but other than that, for all intents and purposes, I know almost nothing about him. When you’re the notorious family homosexual, poor at the end to boot, nobody collects and preserves your papers and treasures. They’re scattered, auctioned off, left in boxes on the porch for the Goodwill. Unknowing fingers pop photos out of frames for resale, smudging black and white portraits on their way to the trash. My parents, as it happened, played a small but significant role in this obliteration.

Mostly what I do know are stories from the war years — we’re talking World War II here — when a then-elderly Uncle Allan would blow into our little dairy farm north of Detroit a couple times a year to drink up all my parents’ liquor rations. Most of the family wouldn’t receive him. But Mom and Dad — young and, I suppose, a little daring — did, and he’d settle in for a week at a time. He was tall and garrulous, with a full head of bright white hair and a theatrical voice and manner my grandfather always called “fruity,” but which the women adored. At the slightest prompting, Uncle Allan would act out little bits, “mere snippets,” he called them, from the classics on Broadway, shows that had debuted some 30 years before.

A lovely read. And now, I must tackle Monday.

Posted at 9:21 am in Media | 49 Comments
 

And now we wait, but not too long.

I kept trying to carve out a few moments here and there today to write a blog, but then the Chauvin verdict news came in, and I thought: Wait until after, or before?

Before, I guess. New thread for verdict discussion.

In the meantime, three quick items:

If you need a break from bad news, we saw “Shiva Baby” on Amazon Prime video last night, and it was funny and cringe-y, and if you like that kind of thing, it’s that kind of thing. New York magazine called it “The Gradiate” meets “Uncut Gems,” and that’s right.

This story is five years old, but I just read it today, and it’s very funny: How Morrissey ruined Bill Cosby’s set on “The Tonight Show,” 30 years ago now.

Finally, since some of you are talking about Walter Mondale today, let it be known that for a tryout on MPR many years ago, I interviewed by Mondale and Hubert Humphrey. Simultaneously! On one show! I didn’t get the job. If I had, I’d probably still be there, and my heart would be pounding right now.

Fifteen minutes.

Posted at 4:16 pm in Current events, Media, Movies | 39 Comments
 

Enjoy hell, asshole.

I learned of Rush Limbaugh fairly early in his career. WGL in Fort Wayne was one of the first stations to pick up his show when he went national. I believe I’d listened for five minutes when I said to myself, “This is a fat guy who cannot score with chicks.”

Nothing against fat guys! Decent fat guys score all the time. Malevolent ones whose lack of Clooneytude has metastasized into a deep hatred of women are the ones who can’t. And while he was able to lure four of them into matrimony, none stuck around for very long. The last two lasted 10 years apiece, but I’d be willing to bet that as his wealth grew, the women in his life maintained separate bedrooms. Like Melania Trump, because she couldn’t stand the sight of the bastard “liked to read.”

I mean, five minutes with that foghorn voice would make me stick a drill in my ear. Rush would eventually lose his own hearing, likely through opiate abuse, which suggests even his own body was sick of carrying his blackened soul around after a while.

So anyway, that’s where it started with me and Limbaugh: The sexism. The racism, the homophobia, the casual bigotry and contempt for anyone who he perceived to be a lib-rull, as he pronounced it — that would come later, but only about 10 minutes later. You gotta give him this: The man was who he was from the beginning, and never really changed. If he had a conscience, if he ever evolved on any issue, if he grew, if his heart softened or expanded in any way, if he discarded one position and took up another, I never saw it. Of course, I didn’t listen to him for very long and had to depend on what was reported about him.

But you didn’t have to listen to him to listen to him. In Indiana, I heard him coming out of my neighbor’s kitchen window, out of cars stopped at lights, in restaurants. God, the restaurants. Alan, when he was a reporter, did a story on the “Rush rooms,” i.e. dedicated rooms in restaurants where they played his show over speakers for those who maybe couldn’t listen at work, but could catch the first or second hour at lunchtime. People only talked during the breaks. The rest of the time these places were like church with the clinking of silverware. Some people came every day.

I have been a fan in my life, a superfan of some, but honestly, I cannot imagine being so wound up with any one entertainer, one writer, one broadcaster, that I would devote this sort of attention to them. But I was never in Rush Limbaugh’s target audience, the people who not only listened to his show, but subscribed to his newsletter, bought his horrible books (even a “history” series, for children), attended his speeches and book signings, all the while looking at the sky or their shoes as the man revealed himself: As a serial bridegroom, a sex tourist, a drug addict, an all-around piece of shit from head to toe, from day one to whenever his last breath rattled his larynx.

Ordinary people, those with decency, stumble in all those ways, too. There’s no crime in multiple divorces (although when they come with NDAs you might want to check yourself), in patronizing sex workers, even in addiction. But you’re supposed to learn from these things. They’re supposed to humble you. If they did, the listening audience never got a sense of it.

It all culminated with that ghastly moment at the last State of the Union, when the worst president in history arranged to have his sex-worker wife hang the nation’s highest civilian honor around his neck, cheapening it forever. By then we all knew cancer was going to take him home sooner rather than later. I viciously hoped he’d live long enough to see Trump lose, and he did, but he was happy to walk in the president’s slime trail to the very end. Game recognize game.

Even Lee Atwater repented on his death bed. I guess we’ll have to see whether Mrs. Limbaugh numero quatro tells us what his final words were.

Alan noted that when people Rush Limbaugh didn’t like died, he’d say they “assumed room temperature.” I guess his corpse has gotten there by now. And the world is an incrementally better place today for his loss.

(This being the third entry of the week, I’m going to take the next couple of days off, unless Trump kicks the bucket, too. Then we’ll open the champagne. See you Monday.)

Posted at 2:34 pm in Current events, Media | 113 Comments
 

I remember Larry.

Man, that was hard to watch, wasn’t it?

I’m speaking, of course, of the daylong testimony in the impeachment trial, culminating with the last hour or so, when the videos from inside the Capitol were shown. With the very compelling graphics that demonstrated just how close to the senators and representatives that the mob came, you’d think this would be a slam dunk for the Democrats, but as we all know, it won’t be.

Nevertheless, I found myself almost incandescent with fury watching, and I thought I’d already pegged the needle on this one. Worst of all was the police, the outnumbered, overtaxed, why-the-hell-didn’t-they-get-more-backup police, their panicked voices on the radios. For them to be terrorized by this gang of scraggly-beard, stunted-penis, mouth-breathing, misusing-who-and-whom-and-never-mind-less-and-fewer bunch of terra-cotta-toothed* shitheads? It’s enraging.

And they’re going to vote to acquit. Because they suck so, so hard.

Seriously, though, how could anyone watch that and not believe Trump was the architect of the whole thing? I was almost physically sickened by it, and yet, just a few days ago, the majority leader of the Michigan Senate called this whole event “a hoax.” I wonder if he’s nauseous today. My guess is not.

Then, at the end of the day, Larry Flynt died, and I was moved to tweet. This is the first of a long thread, so if you want the rest, click on it and read it on Twitter:

Obviously he was more than a colorful punchline. His porn could be incredibly gross, but he had a certain guilelessness that I always liked. And he was a legit First Amendment warrior. He made political satire safe for everyone. Gotta respect that.

I can’t wait to see how the defense answers what was laid out today. That’s a reason to get up in the morning.

* Original witticism credited to Brett Butler. Apologies for not doing so sooner.

Posted at 9:11 pm in Current events, Media | 27 Comments
 

Two terrible columnists.

I’ve been aware of Salena Zito’s columns for a while now. The Pennsylvania-based writer, previously a nobody, rocketed to stardom after her work in 2016, where she essentially predicted Trump’s election, and came up with the “literally, not seriously / seriously, not literally” line that was quoted so often in the shellshocked days afterward.

I didn’t read many of them, though. I leave that to people like Roy, who carries the duty through life like Jesus’ cross. Someone has to do it; I’m glad it’s him.

Others have pointed out the gaping holes in her work – the jes’ folks sources, salt-of-the-earth Real Americans who turn out to be GOP county officials; the oddly well-constructed and perfect quotes that she just happens to overhear at gas station mini-marts; and so on.

The Detroit News has been carrying her work, and by Thursday, when she most often runs, my week has begun to slow down and I can savor every word. By the time I get to this kicker, the italic line at the end of most columns, I’m usually testy, and this doesn’t help:

Salena Zito is a CNN political analyst, and a staff reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner. She reaches the Everyman and Everywoman through shoe-leather journalism, traveling from Main Street to the beltway and all places in between.

OK, then.

I read the one that ran today. It’s about minor-league baseball, because of course it is: It’s the sport most beloved by Everyman and Everywoman. Zito wore some leather off her shoes and took herself out to the ballgame, where she wrote this memorable scene-setter:

Altoona, Pennsylvania — As the scent of fresh-cut grass delicately fills the air, so do the aromas of hot dogs and hamburgers coming from the grill on the lower deck. Just past right field, there is an amusement park where you can hear the slow clink, clink, clink of the roller coaster as the carriage climbs its ancient wood scaffoldings. The kitschy music found at any ballpark in America echoes throughout.

The pitcher has taken the mound; the catcher is crouched in position; and an eternity passes as glances and signs are exchanged. The pitcher winds up, stretching his left hand behind his back. The ball sails toward home at a smidge over 90 mph, and POP! It lands in the weathered glove of the catcher.

POP! The clichés have really loaded the bases here, haven’t they? The scent of fresh-cut grass, hot dogs and hamburgers. Oh, and you say there’s an amusement park nearby? And can’t forget the sound a pitch makes in the “weathered” glove of the catcher, which in my world is called a mitt, but OK whatever.

I used to tell writing students: Tell me what you see, but learn the difference between meaningless and meaningful detail. If you’re describing something we’ve all seen, strive to describe it in fresh vocabulary. The sights and sounds of the modest, minor-league ballpark are pretty familiar in Zito country; think of something to notice besides the way the grass and hot dogs smell.

But what do I know? Nobody’s asking to put me on CNN.

This passage, describing the people watching from outside the fence, just chapped my ass:

Today, despite the relentless sun and heat, locals steal a peek of the taxi team from the fences located hundreds of yards away, along the parking lots or near the amusement park.

They say they are here just to hear the crack of the bat, or to follow the signals, or to see the game they love, or maybe even to catch a ball knocked out of the park.

I’ll bet my next 50-percent-smaller paycheck that there is no way in goddamn hell she hoofed it out to the cheapest seats to talk to any of those people. True, “they say” is pretty ambiguous in that she doesn’t quote anyone directly, or use quote marks, but if a normal Altoonan said they were there to “hear the crack of a bat” (and aren’t they all aluminum these days?) or ** “see the game I love,” I don’t know Everyman and Everywoman the way Salena Zito does.

Finally, any column about minor-league ball in Pennsylvania that doesn’t shout out Jim Brockmire? I have no use for.

Then there’s Gary Abernathy, the other Luckiest Man in Journalism, whose podunk newspaper’s endorsement of Trump in 2016 won him a contributor’s seat in the Washington goddamn Post, tries his Everyman best to sneer at the Lincoln Project, and ends with this amazing paragraph:

Among Never Trumpers are consultants, officials and pundits who have long been at the center of the Republican world, respected by conservatives who shared their vision and worked to achieve their common goals. But many of them were always somewhat misled, mistaking respect for love. They tell themselves now that Trump has corrupted the GOP. In fact, the GOP has long been the party it is today, just waiting for Trump to come along. That’s the hardest truth of all for the Never Trumpers to accept.

Ooooo-kay then!

I’m out at the tail end of an amazingly stressful week. I’ll debrief you all on the election here – an 18-hour day for yours truly, but a rewarding one – after the weekend. In the meantime, I will ask you: Note that the Republicans are not hesitating to use an unmedicated manic-depressive as a weapon against Joe Biden.

It’s only August! I can’t wait for the October surprise.

** Smarter sports fans have informed me pros don’t use aluminum bats. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Posted at 3:46 pm in Current events, Media | 125 Comments
 

The last words.

Peter Green, a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, died in recent days. If you’re only a casual music fan, and think Fleetwood Mac = “Rumours” + Stevie Nicks + the band where everyone slept with everyone else, I’m not surprised. I used to joke that you were not allowed onto the Ohio University campus unless you could demonstrate, on dorm move-in day, that you owned both “Rumours” and Aerosmith’s “Get Your Wings.” And there were a lot of us.

But before they were that band, they were the sort of band that demonstrates how easily so many English musicians understood American blues guitar, absorbed its lessons and mashed it up with their own influences to make something entirely new. (See also: Led Zeppelin.) Anyway, this is the song I always associate with Fleetwood Mac 1.0; it’s great.

Peter Green left the band when he was felled by mental illness. Schizophrenia, I believe, not helped by the hefty diet of psychedelics he consumed. I think there was also a period with one of the cultier religious cults of the time – the Children of God, I think. And then he disappeared, and recovered a little, and played here and there on this and that, and then he died. He was 73.

But get this:

He outlived the man who wrote his obit. This happens from time to time, because media outlets, newspapers in the main, write obituaries for prominent people before they die. Everyone knows this, or should, although when mistakes happen, when someone presses the Publish button accidentally, a few members of the readership always swoon in horror. How dare you, how morbid, etc. In truth, it’s something of an honor to have your obit written while you’re still walking around, because it means you matter enough that the New York Times, et al wants to do it right.

We had a project like this at the Dispatch; we were all given a few and told to work on them between other things. I can’t even remember who mine were, but I do remember we were told to do new interviews with the people, to not just rely on clips. We were even given a suggested opening gambit: “I’m reporting a comprehensive biographical story about you that you will never read.” Most people got it right away, and most everyone was cool about it. My friend Ted did Gen. Curtis LeMay, a son of Columbus. He was a blood ‘n’ guts general in World War II, Air Force chief of staff during Vietnam and George Wallace’s running mate in 1968. Ted played me the part of the interview where he asked him about one of his most famous statements, that if the enemy in southeast Asia didn’t stand down, we’d “bomb North Vietnam back to the Stone Age.” It was pretty amusing; he said he’d been quoted out of context. But of course.

Anyway, LeMay died in 1990, at 83. I’m sure the paper was able to rustle up a comprehensive, well-written obit p.d.q. Or maybe they relied on wire copy, because all ours were typed on IBM OCR copy paper, and who knows where that stuff ended up.

(I took a tour of the New York Times in the early ’80s, and they showed up the drawers where the prewritten obits were. They were not only written, the pages had been designed and pasted up, so that anyone who died on deadline would get their excellent obit in the paper in mere moments. They didn’t let us linger over them; the content was still considered private. But I saw Jimmy Carter’s on top of the stack. Jimmy Carter just celebrated his 74th wedding anniversary, bless him.)

So, what else? Another beastly hot weekend, or Sunday, at least. Low 90s, and fuck that shit. But on Friday we went swimming in the St. Clair River, and that was great. Now it’s Sunday evening, a short week ahead, and yay that.

Some bloggage:

Cintra Wilson on how the St. Louis McCloskeys besmirched Brooks Brothers in a way bankruptcy couldn’t. Sorry, but I still like their fitted white oxford-cloth shirts. Also, Hawaiian shirts and certain haircuts are ruined, the same way the toothbrush mustache was ruined by Adolf Hitler.

If anyone cares, I found Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ floor speech last week to be outstanding.

Here’s a weird story for you radio people, about a ghost station in Russia:

It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.

Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.

It’s so enigmatic, it’s as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”. It joins two similar mystery stations, “the Pip” and the “Squeaky Wheel”. As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.

It might be a “dead hand” signal, which means “in the event Russia is hit by a nuclear attack, the drone will stop and automatically trigger a retaliation. No questions asked, just total nuclear obliteration on both sides.”

This is the tone. Alan says it’s begging to be sampled. I agree.

So, then, mini-break is getting close. I’ll try to update before I leave, but if I can’t? Top of the week to all of you.

Posted at 7:44 pm in Current events, Media | 139 Comments
 

Mopey Monday.

Sorry for no update yesterday.

Today, Deadline ran a lengthy profile of Rashida Tlaib. I don’t know her well, but I’ve seen her out and about from time to time, and my impression is of a woman who feels things strongly, who makes mistakes, who cries a lot but laughs twice as much, and generally is about as different from the popular caricature as chalk is from cheese. Again, I don’t know her, but this struck me as about right:

Tlaib projects an unusual combination of toughness and vulnerability, equally unafraid to shout or cry. She blends a Quixotic quality with a mixture of street savvy and the wide-eyed wonder of a newcomer to the national circle of power.

But this was the passage that stuck with me, about a local talk-radio host who has made her a Thing:

Locally, many of these cheap shots come from Frank Beckmann, a radio talk-show host on WJR (760-AM).

In early November, painting her as an anti-Semite, Beckmann said Tlaib “gets this warm feeling in her heart when she thinks about the Holocaust.” Later, he smeared her after a Middle Eastern community activist was charged in Hamtramck with sexual assault of a mentally disabled student outside a school.

“We’re still waiting for words from Rashida Tlaib,” Beckmann snarled. “Did you know about this, Rashida? Why didn’t you stop it?”

The accused was a politically active man who was pictured on Facebook with many Detroit-area elected officials. But Beckmann stressed a photo of him with Tlaib.

Alluding to the oral sex charge, Beckmann taunted Tlaib by describing the photograph.

“Almost cheek-to-cheek,” Beckmann said. “Lip-to-lip with him.”

People? I can’t imagine doing this for a living. I don’t care how much money they give you. “A warm feeling in her heard when she thinks about the Holocaust?” Someone thought that up, someone test-marketed in the fevered confines of his skull, and then sent it out of his mouth, in front of a microphone.

Ah, well. I have been known to refer to FLOTUS as the first sex worker, so maybe it’s just my point of view. I’d still hate that job. Talk radio is awful, but entirely predicted social media, when you think about it.

As you can see, I’m pretty much out of gas. Slept badly last night, determined not to do so tonight.

Bloggage? Impeachment, I guess. The links will be overtaken by events as soon as I post them, so I won’t.

Posted at 8:41 pm in Current events, Media | 29 Comments