Saved in the nick.

I told you Monday would be a bear and it was, and I screwed up and didn’t blog, but then I woke up at 4:30 a.m., and this mega-Jezebel post of terrible restaurant stories fell into my lap. It is, as the kids say, everything. Enjoy and I’ll be back later.

If you don’t have time, control-F to Santa and just read that one. (Wait, there are multiple Santa stories. Santa trucker is the one you want, but they’re all good.)

Posted at 5:38 am in Media | 25 Comments

The pace quickens.

Short week ahead, and I’m hosting Thanksgiving, so much to do. Expect outages ahead, or maybe just a lot of food pictures. I can’t believe how fast the weeks whip by. On Sunday, I scan the week ahead and before I know it, it’s Thursday and I’m pulling myself out of the pool, telling the old lifeguard-coach, “See you next week, Tim.” That’s when my weekend starts, mentally, although two days of work remain at that point. But the attitude is different, no longer a climb but a coast. And then it’s Friday, and I head out to meet pals at a venerable local watering hole. The view across the street:


The scenery around here isn’t for everyone, but it grows on you. The Instagram filters help, too.

I was trying to grab the neon, admittedly in hail-Mary fashion, but I like the way it turned out. Just a tetch of Hopper-ness.

The broad-daylight shot:

But Sunday comes along eventually, and only a short week ahead, but Monday will be a bear. So let’s do this thing.

I work with public-radio people fairly regularly, so this story — about the graying of NPR — struck me. It’s a mix of reactions, equally “that’s too bad, because younger people need to be listening” and “it’s their own damn fault.” The latter is mainly due to the fact one of the local public stations is still playing “Car Talk,” years after half the team died. This seems like the public-radio equivalent of classic-rock stations refusing to move on because the Stones still sound so good, right?

This drives me nuts, too:

Some of the other brand-name talent at NPR illustrates the situation: Talk-show host Diane Rehm is 79; senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer is 72; legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg is 71, and “Weekend Edition Saturday” host Scott Simon is a relative youngster at 63.

I enjoy 25-50 percent of the aforementioned hosts. It’s true, though, that when I go to a book-signing or other event that features a public radio-popular personality, I frequently feel like the youngest person there.

Any other bloggage? If you missed this, which someone posted in the comments last week, don’t. It’s good.

As is this companion piece. They’re both about people voting against their own interests, both absolutely worth your time.

Me, I’m off to tackle Monday.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media | 75 Comments

Worth a listen.

Monday was the birthday twins’ special day, so Kate came home over the weekend to eat cake with her father. We drove her back on Sunday and ate at a fairly awful Chinese restaurant in Ann Arbor before dropping her at her dorm. But! It was a worthwhile experience, because we sat next to a table of athlete/frat bros, and eavesdropped shamelessly on their conversation, which ended up being about women, of course.

What women are 10s? they discussed. The main point of contention seemed to be whether Victoria’s Secret models were 10s by default, having been admitted to the most exalted realm of female pulchritude, or whether there were gradations of heat within the Victoria’s Secret pantheon.

“They’re, like, the primo examples of humanity,” one protested. Another was pickier. Heidi Klum, well past her VS years, was a permanent 10, a hall-of-fame 10, but the rest of them? They would have to apply one by one.

The Derringers sat with ears cocked like cocker spaniels, listening to this. The best entertainment is our fellow human beings.

Which is why today’s bloggage kicks off with examples of humanity at its most confounding, including a man who paid $718,000 to a series of psychics, because he was lonely:

He knew none of it made sense: He was a successful and well-traveled professional, with close to seven figures in the bank, and plans for much more. And then he gave it all away, more than $718,000, in chunks at a time, to two Manhattan psychics.

They vowed to reunite him with the woman he loved. Even after it was discovered that she was dead. There was the 80-mile bridge made of gold, the reincarnation portal.

“I just got sucked in,” the man, Niall Rice, said in a telephone interview last week from Los Angeles. “That’s what people don’t understand. ‘How can you fall for it?’”

This, on the other hand, is a scary-as-hell story about how life and law enforcement works in the Deep Souf’, and how it led to the death of a little boy in the proverbial hail of gunfire.

And with a shift, we pivot to a topic near and dear to my heart: The meeeeedia. Which, it would seem, is getting tired of being a punching bag. In three pieces:


There absolutely is room for debate about the proportionality of coverage of an incident like this compared to something like the Paris attacks that happened on Friday, but to say that the media don’t cover terrorism attacks outside of Europe is a lie.

They do.

But as anyone working in the news will tell you, if you look at your analytics, people don’t read them very much.


We live in a world now where no one wants to pay for news. Newspapers are struggling, and foreign bureaus have been shuttering for years. Many of the buzzy new media sites don’t have foreign bureaus or even much original reporting from overseas (with a handful of notable exceptions, and good on them). Publications are increasingly dependent on freelancers abroad, who do their work for low pay, with virtually no institutional resources behind them, often at significant personal risk. To suggest that “no one” is reporting on Beirut, on Garissa, on Baghdad is an affront and an insult to the great many professionals who put their lives in jeopardy to do just that.

We complain that we don’t see the reporting we want. But aside from an outraged Facebook status, many of us in the U.S. don’t actually seem to want the kind of reporting we claim to value — we’re overwhelmingly not paying to subscribe to the outlets that do good, in-depth reporting about places around the world. Aside from when tragedy strikes, we’re not sharing articles on Beirut or a city we’ve never heard of in Kenya nearly as often as many of us are sharing pieces about Paris, or even 10 Halloween Costumes for Feminist Cats.

And three:

Since college students are free to vent what they feel about the media, it’s only fair that the media return the favor.

So allow me, based, not on biases absorbed from my parents along with my Maypo, but on actual experience, teaching college courses, including one at Loyola.

College kids don’t know shit. The average college student couldn’t find his ass with both hands and a map. I once taught a journalism course for the State University of New York’s Maritime College. At the end of the final exam, I prefaced the extra credit questions with, “A journalist should have a rough idea of what is going on in the world.” One question was: “With the collapse of the Soviet Union, one Communist super power remains. What is it?” Some students guessed “Cuba.” Others, “Iraq.” Some didn’t even hazard an attempt.

That should give you enough to chew over for a Tuesday. Me, I’m back at work.

Posted at 12:36 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 68 Comments

You’re on camera.

The end of the week, and what is there to say? “I’m tired.” True, but not really — had a great swim this morning, stuck to my eating plan, and here it is, the end of Thursday, and these feel like enormous accomplishments. Do doctors have days like this? Repaired a hernia, had a great hair day. #winning One wonders.

I got nothing right now, but I do have this, a profile with an uncooperative subject, i.e., the guy who took the Planned Parenthood sting videos:

Matthew Reeves, the National Abortion Federation’s medical director, also had an encounter with Daleiden, according to the lawsuit. He described Daleiden’s questions as “pushy” and “leading” and noted his “strange face-forward stiffness when speaking.” At the time, Reeves attributed this stiffness “to a personality quirk,” the lawsuit says, but he “now realizes [it] was because Daleiden was most likely carrying equipment and filming or recording the conversation.”

The lawsuit describes two women who attended the conference with Daleiden — actors, it turns out — wearing loose-fitting scarves that may have concealed recording equipment. And it includes photographs of Daleiden in black-framed glasses that he no longer seems to wear. Daleiden declined to say whether that was where he hid the camera.

The lawsuit seeks to have 500 hours of footage shot at two conferences turned over to the abortion federation on grounds that Daleiden signed a confidentiality agreement. A California judge has granted the organization a preliminary injunction, which for now prevents Daleiden from releasing those videos.

We’re coming to a turning point with these videos. Not just the Planned Parenthood ones, all of them. There’s a case working its way through the news cycle in Fort Wayne — can’t find the link now — where an employee of the city clerk taped her badgering employees for political work on behalf of her hand-picked successor. And then there’s the one that started it all, Mitt Romney and his remarks about the 47 percent. Sooner or later we’re going to have to decide whether what we learn from these incidents is worth the squickiness of how we find out. I don’t want to have to go around thinking I’m being taped by my enemies, anyway.

Maybe we can think about this over the weekend. I’m-a clean my house.

EDIT WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP THIS JUST IN: The story about my shop was posted today on the Columbia Journalism Review website. I’m in it. Read if you’re so inclined.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Media | 87 Comments

Things are looking up.

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the sky, yes, but the sky has been quite the attention hog of late. Here’s today, after my morning swim:


More hot moon-on-Venus action. The color is coming on now, too. There’s a stretch of silver ash trees along one of the main arteries here; on my way home I stuck the phone through the sun roof, kept one hand on the wheel and tap-tap-tapped a series of hail-mary shot against the briefly blue sky. Like so:


Maybe I should take some pictures of the ground for a few days. Just to balance things out.

Three-hour meeting today, which was observed by a writer from (publication redacted). I tried to behave myself. Link when the story is published, whenever that may be. Afterward, I stepped outside to wait for the rest of the crew to muster for lunch and whaddaya know? In the garden, the first course:


I was grazing like a deer by the time they came out, just popping those little beauties into my maw. I think of my friends whose newspaper was recently acquired by Gannett, and sigh. I really do have one of the best jobs in journalism right now.

On to the bloggage, then:

As I write this, the rumors are starting to coalesce around just why Kevin McCarthy quit the speakers race justlikethat. Maybe or maybe not he was up to something, but this paragraph from the NYT story just makes me sigh:

Mr. McCarthy’s decision left the House rudderless just weeks before the Treasury Department faces a debt default that could roil markets, and two months before a deadline for a budget deal to avoid another government shutdown. But it also represented another victory for the clutch of unyielding hard-line conservatives who toppled the ambitions of yet another member of party leadership.

Boy, can’t wait for this one to sort itself out. In the meantime, let’s all enjoy the weekend.

Posted at 12:34 am in Current events, Media | 65 Comments

Leopards and spots.

I get why so many of you are disappointed with Pope Francis, over his meeting with Church Lady Kim Davis. I would caution you, however, that this Pope (and so many other public figures) is basically a blank canvas upon which we project what we want to see. We judge him on the basis of a few quotes lifted, context-free, from interviews, sermons and statements we don’t bother to read and understand.

Or, as one of my dumber Facebook friends commented when Francis first came on the scene: “I really like this Pope. I’m looking forward to his statements about abortion and gay marriage!”

The Pope is CEO of a powerful institution that has existed for 2,000 years. And what is the first rule of powerful institutions? Preserve institutional power at any cost. He’s not going to reverse church doctrine to please liberal Americans. He’s just emphasizing a different part of it.

For all the abuse flung at Benedict, I never found him all that awful. He had the same doctrine as JPII, without the charisma and with a lot of the high-dollar details that arouse those how-many-starving-children-could-be-fed sentiments — the Prada shoes, the ermine-trimmed robes, etc. Y’all forget there is a small but vocal cohort within the church that expects and wants those things in their reigning Vicar of Christ. Remember how many people sneered at how Jimmy Carter carried his own bags? Same thing. Take your rough-wooden-cross act down the street to the Methodists; the Catholics roll a little higher than that.

And after all, they sold the papal crown decades ago.

Francis seems like a very nice man. But he’s not going to change the church all that much.

This drinking project is blocking out my sun. I have to start spackling on makeup for a noon TV interview, so I gotta run. Yesterday’s radio interview should be at the top of this list, if y’all have nothing else to do today.

Hurry, Mr. Weekend.

Posted at 9:59 am in Current events, Media | 41 Comments

Girl’s night in.

So how was your Friday? I found myself at loose ends. Alan worked late, gym closed early, everybody else was booked. So this is what I did: I went home, poured myself a couple fingers of excellent rye whiskey in a Lalique crystal glass and dug into the DVR for a prizefight from a couple of weeks ago — not Mayweather-Berto, but the undercard, Martinez-Salido. Watched it. It was a fucking slugfest, went the distance, ended in a draw. I believe a bowl of popcorn was involved.

And that, friends, is how you spend a perfect Friday night. More or less. #old #winning

You gotta keep getting up in the morning. You never know the morning you’ll wake up a boxing fan. And liking rye whiskey.

The rest of the weekend progressed with this fabulous weather we’ve been having. There was a party, and some work. The latter involved a meeting in Grosse Pointe Park. I live in Grosse Pointe Woods. The meeting was three miles and change from my house. So I rode my bike. It was a beautiful day, and how many more will we even get?

You know what people in the Motor City say when you ride a bike, not for a workout, but as a means of transportation? OH MY GOD YOU RODE YOUR BIKE HERE? HOW FAR?!? A little over three miles, and they calm down.

“Oh, OK, I guess that’s not too far.”

The meeting ended, and I got up to leave. Both guys offered to let me put the bike into their trunks, and give me a ride home.

Well, I guess it is kind of a weirdo way to get around. Maybe I should move to Amsterdam.

So another week awaits. Clouds, maybe even some rain. Then more perfection. Should be fun.

A little light bloggage to start the week.

This piece on the way constant phone-checking, texting and other electronic communication is dividing and diminishing our ability to pay attention to one another touched a nerve with me. Every so often I think about how I used to handle having to look up facts, dates and other information, pre-internet. I’d mosey back to the newsroom library, call an actual librarian at the public library, or call someone I know would know. Kirk was my go-to source on anything baseball or sports-related, and I had others for different areas. Then, after we’d established the facts in need of verification, we’d catch up. That never happens anymore. Google knows all.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the Google, but I miss the human contact. And I noticed at the party last night, how people kept their phones near and would check them from time to time. I did it myself; it’s just what we do now. We all want to take a picture, maybe post it to a social network, and we all need to keep in touch with sitters or the office or whatever. They’re little balls and chains, they really are.

It was a beautiful night. I said to the host, “Look at that, would you,” indicating the moon rising in the east.

“An Instagram moon,” he said.

There you go.

I also have Shelley O, shutting it down at the state dinner last week. Tom and Lorenzo are very pleased. As am I.

OK, on to bed and the week ahead. Let’s do our best.

Posted at 12:30 am in Media, Popculch | 57 Comments

It’s over, so it’s over.

Open thread today. Feel free to discuss the Pope, this story about yet another legal back door into a woman’s uterus, or maybe this fantastic headline:


I got a Thursday coming up.

Posted at 8:17 am in Media | 44 Comments

The slush pile.

Y’all know that my sense of humor runs more in this direction than in the conventional one, so I’ll admit to chuckling through this story, in a can-you-believe-this-shit sort of way. Briefly: The State Bar of Michigan held a fiction contest, and awarded honorable mention to a story it later backtracked on and described as “embedded with racist cues,” if you can call the inclusion of an ebonics-speaking bad-guy character named Tyrone Washington a cue and not exactly racism.

The story — “Post-Conviction Relief” — centers around Jack Schoenherr, who’s described as a “soft-spoken and introverted Michigan attorney who had practiced almost exclusively in the area of criminal defense over the course of his twenty-two year legal career” and swore to uphold the state and U.S. constitutions.

Schoenherr’s daughter, Caroline, is murdered by “eighteen-year-old, tattoo-covered, drug-abusing gangbanger named Tyrone Washington.”

Washington is convicted of shooting Caroline in “cold blood with a stolen revolver for no reason other than that he wanted to show off his ‘polar bear hunting skills’ to prospective candidates eager to join his gang.” Bristow described Washington as showing no remorse and even grinning and jeering as Schoenherr gave a victim-impact statement at sentencing.

After the trial, Schoenherr visits Washington in prison under the guise of being his attorney for the appeal. “’You mah appointed lawyer for da’ appeal?’ Tyrone asked,” Bristow writes.

Schoenherr lectures Washington about retributive justice while, “Tyrone drooled and snorted as he slouched further in his chair.” Schoenherr eventually kills Washington with a sharpened pen.

A sharpened pen! (I’ve heard it’s mightier than the sword.) Honorable mention!

Truth be told, much of this tale was sort of scoff-worthy, including that the State Bar was even having a fiction contest in the first place. (My guess is we can lay this at the feet of John Grisham.) I also wonder if the judges, described as “volunteers on (the Bar’s) Publication and Website Advisory Committee,” had ever actually read a work of reputable fiction. And how dense does one have to be not to see the problem here, especially when you consider the story was eagerly accepted by a publication called the Occidental Observer, “which says in its mission statement that it presents ‘original content touching on the themes of white identity, white interests, and the culture of the West.’”

Punch line: The author, a Michigan State graduate, was president of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter there, and before his 30th birthday has a page in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s extremist files. He’s been (self-)published before. His first novel? Was called “White Apocalypse.” He also thinks revenge porn is a liberal plot against blonde white women.

No, it wasn’t a good week in post-racial America, was it? Ask the homeless man who got a beatdown from two apparent supporters of Team Trump. I’ll reserve final judgment on this one — it’s a little too perfect, detail-wise, up to and including the candidate’s description of his followers as “passionate.” But still.

So, welcome to the weekend, all. It’s Crazytown here; hope your environment is a little saner.

Posted at 12:13 am in Media | 68 Comments

Food over outrage.

Sorry no blogging last night. I decided to make a nice dinner instead, and by the time it was served and cleaned up, I was sorta done. We had grilled halibut, roasted cauliflower with coconut curry sauce and a lovely snap pea salad with green onion, ginger, lime and sesame seeds. Yum.

I was trying to duplicate the flavors of this lovely lunch of a few days back. Came close.

So all I have is a little nosegay of links. Theme: Outrage. Or at least righteous indignation. (Maybe a nice meal would calm everyone down.)

Every magazine gets letters to the editor from outright racists. Few sign their names. This editor ran the letter.

Neil Sternberg says Donald Trump is the punishment we all deserve. Discuss.

How the wheel do turn, Gawker, Reddit, et al. Welcome to adulthood.

Posted at 9:19 am in Media | 52 Comments