You haven’t seen it all.

Thanks to Harrison for pointing out the day’s — and probably the week’s, month’s and perhaps the year’s — OID (only in Detroit) story:

Corpse found frozen in pool of water in abandoned Detroit building. Call to 911 gets results in…24 hours, give or take.

(Sorry I missed this, guys. My newsprint wasn’t delivered until late this morning.)

UPDATE: Gawker says snarky things about the story.

Posted at 11:39 am in Metro mayhem | 38 Comments

The tyranny of choice.

The other day I was listening to a story on NPR, about people stuck driving the guzzliest gas guzzlers, and what they were doing about it. I was struck by one man’s interview. He drove a Ford Excursion, the biggest SUV evahr, the station-wagon equivalent of an F-350 SuperDuty pickup truck. The man explained that he needed an extra-large vehicle; he and his wife had five children between them, “so we had no choice” but to buy the Excursion.

Five plus two is seven. That’s how many seats he needed. By my reckoning, that means he could have chosen just about any minivan, and a large number of other SUVs with third-row seating, nearly all of which get better gas mileage than the Excursion. But he had no choice.

Of course, as all adults know, there’s always a choice. It’s just difficult to make sometimes. For instance, yesterday I could have chosen to have something lean and protein-y and vegetable-heavy for lunch, but instead I had a cheese quesadilla. Then I had two Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux cookies for dessert. If only it had been mandatory, but it was a choice. Some of you are feeling smug and superior, the same way I felt about Mr. Excursion. If it makes you feel any better, I went fiber-heavy for dinner (black beans) and took a long bike ride in penance. That was a choice, too.

I hate choices. I especially hate the way they’ve become the behavioral equipment of fiber. Been in an elementary school lately? “Make good choices” is the new “eat from all four food groups.” Earlier this year Kate was scolded by a teacher for the following: A boy threw down a book, and it took a funny bounce and hit a girl in the leg. She gave out a loud, cartoon-y howl of pain, hopping around on one foot, and Kate laughed. Laughing, the teacher said, was “a poor choice.” I wonder what George Carlin would do with that one.

We rail about wanting more control over our world, which means more choices. And then the vacuum cleaner dies, and we go to Sears. First we choose a price range, then we choose a brand, then we choose bagless or not, onboard tools or not, upright or canister, until our heads spin and we howl with pain and go eeny-meeny-miney-moe. There have been times, while buying a household appliance, that I wished I lived in the old Soviet Union. I would have happily gotten on a list and stood in line for five hours if, at the other end of the line, there was one vacuum cleaner, and the choice was: Take it or leave it.

Grumble, grumble.

OK, bloggage:

A particularly smelly Metro Mayhem today: Boy, 1, shot during fight over glasses. Eyeglasses, that is. (Huge, heavy sigh.) And they were probably knockoffs.

Christopher Hitchens speaks ill of the dead, and boy did they deserve it. Jesse Helms, of course.

Oh, and if you have time, prepare to waste it now: Look at what everyone’s uploading to Flickr, in real time, on a rotating globe. Don’t blame me when nothing gets done. (HT: Vince.)

Now, I choose to go to work and write more mediocre prose. Leave a better comment. (It shouldn’t be hard.)

Posted at 10:43 am in Current events, Metro mayhem, Same ol' same ol' | 49 Comments

Mixed grill on Wednesday.

A few short items this morning before I start packing for the Christian Burning Man:

We’ve been visiting our lake cottage in Branch County less and less over the years, and perhaps you’d like to know why. OK.

Our next-door neighbor there, who bought the cottage built by Alan’s uncle, tore it down this year. No harm in that — it’s small and had a powder-post beetle infestation at one point. It probably needed doing. Of course we knew they’d put up something much bigger, but we were hopeful it would be, er, in character with the neighborhood. They decided on a prefab Swiss chalet. Other houses on the strip had been brought there in pieces, so there was a precedent. Can they get the truck to the lot without major damage? Oh sure, no problem.

The chalet went in this week. Their truck driver backed his semi across our front lawn and without so much as an oops, flattened two 10-year-old river birches Alan planted when Kate was a baby. Number of profuse apologies that have arrived at this address, or that of my sister-in-law, in the interim: Zero. Simple acknowledgment? None.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

We’ve told Spriggy that if he’d care to entrust us with his share of Leona Helmsley’s $8 billion, we’ll take very good care of it. Jeez, what a bitter old crone — $12 million for her own Maltese wasn’t enough, I suppose. I love dogs as much as you do, maybe more, and let me tell you: $12 million for a single dog deeply misunderstands the nature and needs of all dogs. You can argue with the foundation setup — I suppose there’s always someone who needs to hear the spay/neuter argument again — but at its heart it’s the work of a true misanthrope, in love with the poochies but not a dime for humanity. You know what I think? I think it’s because LA Mary couldn’t get her the strawberry preserves she wanted for her hotels. It queered her on two-legged creatures once and for all.

Inside baseball: Hank Stuever on why Clay Felker mattered:

Appreciate Clay Felker? It’s all anyone ever did, who wanted anything to do with magazines. Was it emulation, or was it envy, or was it a fantasy — working for the perfect place, the perfect editor, at the perfect time?

When I started freelancing, I had a simple goal: To do as much work as possible for editors who could help me improve. Needless to say, I never met Clay Felker.

Metro mayhem: Someone stole the copper plumbing from one of the city’s most visible landmarks. A six-figure repair bill for a few bucks in scrap metal.

John Scalzi printed one of his famous sunset pictures and included his cat, so I LOL’d it. No one will get it:

Bonus: Stay at Scalzi’s for a little perspective on the military service/electability track record.

That should keep you. I’ll be in and out until I leave for the airport, so, y’know, whatever. Oh, and thanks for all the SF recommendations, folks. I neglected to mention, this trip is basically a rerun of our honeymoon lo those many years ago. (Alan: “You sure you don’t want a diamond ring?” Me: “I want a two-week honeymoon more.”) You brought back memories and gave me some new ideas. You guys are the best.

Posted at 9:24 am in Current events, Media, Metro mayhem, Same ol' same ol' | 39 Comments

I missed the memo.

How do I get on the Talking Points of the Day mailing list? Because I’m obviously missing something.

Memeorandum notes that the indictment of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is national news. I was puzzled to notice all the blog reaction came from the right wing, and what do they rise as one to say?


My guess would be this: Because it’s so obvious the black mayor of a black city would be a Democrat, it isn’t even worth noting? Because Republicans don’t even put candidates on the mayoral ballot in Detroit? (Help me out here, Del, JohnC — was there a Republican on the November ballot in 2005? I can’t remember, mainly because the primary is the final battle for that office.) Because anyone who knows anything about Detroit other than “it’s where the Supremes came from” and “they make cars there” would know this? Because if there was some distant, outside, ghost of a chance that a black Republican might be running this city, he would be a regular commenter on Fox News by now? Take your pick.

I know they read different newspapers out there in the rest of the country, but come on, people — some knowledge truly is general. And that black cities in the rust belt have Democratic mayors, usually black Democrats, is right down at the duh level.

Posted at 3:12 pm in Current events, Detroit life, Metro mayhem | 35 Comments

A house divided.

If awards were given for press releases — and surely, there must be some — the one announcing the closing of the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne has to be a nominee for something. Best Weaseling, maybe. For starters, there’s the headline:

Lincoln Financial Foundation to Make Its Lincoln Museum Collection More Accessible and Visible

Then there’s the lead:

Lincoln Financial Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Lincoln Financial Group, announced today it will take a two-pronged approach to make its Lincoln Museum collection more accessible and visible in celebration of the Abraham Lincoln bicentennial in 2009. The Lincoln Foundation currently owns one of the most extensive collections of Abraham Lincoln-related items including a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and a Thirteenth Amendment signed by Abraham Lincoln (see attached inventory overview list for more details). Specifically, Lincoln Foundation will: one, seek public partners with whom the Museum can explore exhibition options for its three-dimensional items and, two, digitize its documents in order to make the entire collection more visible and accessible to a greater number of people.

Wow, you’re thinking. They’re making the museum bigger? Finding a partner to increase the collection? What? Paragraph two:

The Lincoln Foundation embodies the principles of Abraham Lincoln who once said, “I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.” “By collaborating with other museums, the Lincoln Foundation hopes to make these items available to a greater number of people using Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial as a catalyst,” said Priscilla Brown, Vice President, Lincoln National Corporation.

OK, so it’s a press release. There’s always some fluffing.

Paragraph three:

The Lincoln Foundation is proactively pursuing a solution that benefits historical education and scholarship and exposes the collection to the largest possible audience. Through invitation, the Lincoln Foundation will host a national informational session with potential public partners in late March to provide an understanding of the collection items and, in turn, discuss options for increasing visibility.

A national informational session? Cool. Is the media invited to cover it? Not exactly. Paragraph four:

The Lincoln Museum has operated in Fort Wayne, Ind., for many years, first as a library and then as a museum. As a result of this new strategic direction, The Lincoln Museum will close to the public effective June 30.

Talk about burying the lead.

The next paragraph is the standard boilerplate about the company, its assets and services. They actually put the news in the final paragraph.

What a fine bunch of bastards these people turned out to be. For those of you unfamiliar with the company, for decades it was based in the Fort and was one of the proudest members of the corporate community. It treated both its employees and its city generously; the work week ended at noon on Friday, and Fort Wayne is dotted with public assets that would never have found or sustained life without its largesse. If they could be a little pushy sometimes — as a reporter, you really didn’t know rigidly enforced rules of media relations until you’d experienced it at Lincoln — at least it was in the service of a greater good.

Then the beloved, longtime CEO retired, and his replacement let little time pass before announcing the executive offices would move closer to a major financial center — Philadelphia. Oh, but don’t panic! they said as they backed out the door. Everything else is staying here! Don’t be alarmed! Well, you know what happened next. Bit by bit, Lincoln Financial Group is leaving the city.

Dismantling the museum, however, is truly vile. The Lincoln Museum is — was — a little jewel. A major refurbishment in the 1990s transformed it into a facility that walked a very delicate line between flashy-enough-for-the-interactive-age but still-a-serious-place. What could it cost to keep the doors open on a place that was largely staffed by volunteers, that didn’t require huge upkeep, that gave the city a unique, prestigious attraction? Especially when you consider LFG paid millions to get its name on a goddamn football stadium, this is just plain old, lowdown shittiness.

Priscilla Brown’s late mother-in-law has her name on a beloved institution in the Fort, incidentally — a fine high-school natatorium. I wonder how she’d feel if that was closed, and the water distributed to the “largest possible audience.”

Gerald Prokopowicz, pal of NN.C and occasional visitor to the GP, had his own thoughts in yesterday’s News-Sentinel. (Aside: Another fine effort by my alma mater. They really kicked the Journal’s butt on this one.) As the former scholar-in-residence at the museum, he was the logical source to call. It was even more depressing to note that one reason attendance is down is, fewer schoolchildren are being brought through on field trips. And why is that?

Prokopowicz said fewer students are going on field trips to museums, and it’s a trend that’s occurring in places other than Fort Wayne. He blames it on two factors: standardized testing, which forces teachers to spend more time in the classroom, and higher gas prices.

Even in our fancy suburban district, it’s maddening to see how much classroom time is taken up with prepping for our state assessment tests. Now you see the chain reaction of keeping kids in the classroom when they could be in the Lincoln Museum.


So let’s change the tone with some upbeat bloggage, eh? Via Ashley, some news on Jill Sobule, best known for writing and performing that lesbian theme song. I saw her open for Warren Zevon in 1996, and she was fabulous — funny and ironic and all that. She won my heart with “Kathie Lee,” her song about her secret affair with Frank Gifford’s wife. Like lots of hardscrabble artists, she came out during the break to sell CDs. We had a little chat, and she was as charming one-on-one as she was onstage. (In case any of you filthy pervs are thinking there was some sort of zing! there, let me put your minds at rest: I was 8.5 months pregnant at the time, and unless she’s into fat girls in jumpers and clogs and wedding rings embedded in their swollen fingers, you are wrong.)

Anyway, it appears Jill is no longer under contract with a record company, and has gone unilateral to raise money for her next one. She’s set up a website where you can give, with some creative fundraising steps. It starts at $10, which gets you a free digital download, and ends….

$10,000 – Weapons-Grade Plutonium Level: You get to come and sing on my CD. Don’t worry if you can’t sing – we can fix that on our end. Also, you can always play the cowbell.

I’m thinking I may go in at the get-your-name-in-the-liner-notes level. I want to leave cryptic footprints for my ancestors, so they can fight over the Thanksgiving table about whether I swung both ways.

Today’s only-in-Detroit story: Man comes home after alarm service tells him there’s been a break-in. Enters the house, looks around, realizes the burglars are still in the house. So he slips into a bedroom and calls 911 in a whisper. The police arrived…three hours later. He finally had to call his councilwoman, who called the police chief, who was able to rustle up a prowler. Best single detail:

He even tried the Northwestern District police station directly, but said he was told officers weren’t available because they were in the middle of a shift change.

In the New York magazine story about heroin tycoon Frank Lucas, which was the basis for the “American Gangster” screenplay, Lucas talks about the wonders of the shift change:

We put (the dope) out there at four in the afternoon, when the cops changed shifts. That gave you a couple of hours before those lazy bastards got down there. My buyers, though, you could set your watch by them. By four o’clock, we had enough niggers in the street to make a Tarzan movie. They had to reroute the bus on Eighth Avenue. Call the Transit Department if it’s not so. By nine o’clock, I ain’t got a fucking gram. Everything is gone. Sold . . . and I got myself a million dollars.

If only we could harness those powers for good.

OK, that’s enough for today. Have a good one. I’m off to enjoy what appears to be Steamboat Springs outside my window. Minus the mountains.

Posted at 11:07 am in Current events, Metro mayhem, Popculch | 33 Comments

Oh, it’s on.

This is why I shut down my damn browser when I have work to do:

Because the news is always trying to distract me. Ahem:

A member of the City of Detroit’s pension board filed a police report Thursday against City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers, claiming she threatened him with a gun at a board meeting earlier in the week.

That’s the wife of U.S. Rep John Conyers, btw. And, in fairness, she said it was only a metaphorical gun:

“What she said was: ‘I’ve got a bigger gun than your gun, my husband,’ ” Riddle said. “She was talking about a political gun.”

And people wonder why I like it here. It’s Miami with snow!

Posted at 12:51 pm in Metro mayhem | 25 Comments

Our paperless society.

Nothing like a death in the family to make you wish you were born a fish. The morning’s activities here at Chez NN.C include a whole-house search for Alan’s Social Security card. It’s for a bank thing. Of course he knows his number, but they want to see the actual card. Let me see the hands of those of you who can lay hands on your Social Security card within 15 minutes. Yeah, thought so. After a while, I thought screw it, let’s get the replacement. There’s an SSA office two blocks from here; he can bring in his passport (which we can find) and get it while he waits.

But can you get it while you wait? Good luck getting an answer. The website offers exhaustive instructions on how to request a card, but is vague on the while-you-wait part, which is important, because this all has to happen today. A call to the office was in order. The local number was disconnected, and all inquiries now go through an 800 number, which employs one of those automated voice recognition programs but NO ACTUAL HUMAN BEING, and…and…

Alan reached someone at the bank. Turns out they don’t need the card if they can see your W-2. Crisis averted. But a new resolution: This year, once and for all, assemble a “grab box” of key family documents so we can avoid this nonsense in the future. I’m not the best record-keeper, but I’m good enough, but life is simply growing too complicated.

Per Kirk’s comments yesterday, I’ve decided to stop feeling bad about enjoying the mayoral scandal. It’s the story that keeps on giving, and it would be…dare I say?…wrong not to smile once in a while. Last night’s big event was the mayor’s public apology, made at his church, but in an empty room, to one pool camera, no media allowed, no questions, in and out in 12 minutes. It was pretty much total crapola, as you might expect, all “I’m sorry” but no mention of what he was sorry for. He has to be very careful what he says now, because he’s facing a perjury investigation, and that’s not a charge to be trifled with. Once again, he showed his beguiling combination of Street and Suit, in his declaration “I would never quit on you.”

(Oh, why even mention it? I hear more mangled English on the evening news than anywhere else in my world. Last night’s neologism: “fictitionally,” which seems to mean “fictional,” but has some extra syllables, making the speaker sound extra-smart. There was also “tenor” used incorrectly, i.e. “The mayor struck the right tenor in his statement,” and this by an anchor.)

But the cherry on top was yet another performance by Steve Wilson, WXYZ’s designated Kwame-botherer. The station deployed its chopper for overhead surveillance of the church, not just to get video but to let Steve know which door he was sneaking into. So Steve was right there to yell, “Who is Carmen Slowski?” as his honor stepped out of his SUV. The mayor Heisman’d him nicely. I’d say it was like a bear swatting away a smaller animal wanting a bite from the carcass, but Wilson is easily as big as Kilpatrick. He’s truly a wonderful figure, because his distinguishing fat-man feature is a wattle that lends a comical note to the blowhard self-importance. Follow that last link, a transcript of his 11 p.m. report, to get a sense of how he rolls:

I’ve faced the mayor many times in the last few years, usually with questions he hasn’t wanted to answer…and tonight proved to be no exception. While most reporters and cameras waited at the side door…our Chopper 7 “eyes in the sky” pointed me to where the mayor was heading—the front door, so when he pulled up and finally stepped out the car, I asked him one of the questions so many of you have been asking—and got a shove in return…As I first revealed last Friday and the Detroit Free Press confirmed today, only days before the text message scandal broke a week ago, the mayor was here at a North Carolina mountain resort eating chocolate-covered strawberries, drinking fine French wine, and soaking in an aromatic bubble bath with a woman using the name Carmen Slowski. Mrs. Kilpatrick and the couple’s three boys were back home in Detroit at the time…and the mayor has never explained why records show there were two people in his room, or just who was the mystery woman sharing his bubble bath.

“Soaking in an aromatic bubble bath.” If you can’t laugh at that, you’re dead.

If the mayor’s lucky, the approaching winter storm everybody’s fretting about today will turn out to be a rip-roarer. Nothing like a foot of wet snow to get people talking about something other than bubble baths, not to mention “fine French wine.”

Note to self: Go shopping today, lay in a supply of fine French wine. If we’re going to be snowed in, might as well do it right.

Do we have bloggage? We have bloggage:

Steve Novick, candidate for U.S. Senate in Oregon, really is a guy you’d want to have a beer with. Here’s why. (YouTube link, for those of you who avoid them.)

Don’t waste your time on “Meet the Spartans.” Slate says why:

Various news sources have declared that Meet the Spartans has a running time of 84 minutes. Some online reviews peg the actual running time at 68 minutes. I went to a 5:30 p.m. screening. After previews, the movie began some time between 5:44 and 5:47. The closing credits started at 6:47. After a cast-performed rendition of “I Will Survive” (note: this was a reprise of an earlier performance) staged on the American Idol set (note: not the real American Idol set), the credits ran over a black screen. Perhaps two minutes later, the credits gave way to scenes that weren’t strong enough to make the first 60 minutes, including Spider-Man removing Donald Trump’s toupee. After about five minutes of these deleted scenes, the credits started again. They moved at about 10 lines per minute. And, considering the movie is about an hour long and probably took about six hours to make, they included a surprising amount of names; I’m guessing 8,000. By the time the credits had been slow-rolling for several minutes, the other 15 people in the theater had gone home. As the credits continued, I put on my headphones and listened to some music. At 7:09, more than 20 minutes after the credits began, I was rewarded by the aforementioned five-second, fake-Stallone-as-Britney bit. The lights went up and I left, shaken and depressed.

Not surprisingly:

This was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

Thank God for the New York Times Thursday Styles, because who else is covering the Slow Design movement? Ahem:

Katrin Svana Eythorsdottir, another designer from Iceland, made a “chandelier” from beads of glucose that clung to twine and caught the natural light. After five months, the chandelier disintegrated (as Ms. Eythorsdottir, who wanted to create a temporary, biodegradable object, had intended). It is true that a decomposing chandelier seems sort of fast, but as it turns out a domestic object with a built-in expiration date is a slow notion, said Carolyn Strauss, a designer, curator and the founder of SlowLab, a three-year-old design think tank with offices in Manhattan and Amsterdam that’s devoted to searching out the slow in cutting-edge design. “You wouldn’t buy that chandelier and go away on a two-week vacation,” Ms. Strauss said. “It’s an object you’d really cherish because of its temporary and therefore precious nature.”

No word on the cost. Whatever it is: Not enough.

OK, friends, I’ve wasted too much of the day already. Hang in there and enjoy yours. I’m after some fine French wine.

Posted at 10:27 am in Current events, Metro mayhem, Same ol' same ol' | 20 Comments

A tough town in January.

God, I love this town. Corruption has such a happy shamelessness here. As what the Freep has branded “Text Message Scandal” unfolds, the new details keep getting weirder. The mayor has yet to emerge “from seclusion,” but Monday his ex-paramour, the chief of staff, quit her job. The battlefield promotion went to one Kandia Milton, who announced his first order of business would be…anyone?

Yes, paying $10,000 in back property taxes. It gets better:

Other problems uncovered:

• In the fall, Milton and his wife, Lisa, emerged from Chapter 13 bankruptcy. According to the bankruptcy records that the couple filed in August 2006, they owed $389,207 to a variety of creditors, including mortgages, credit cards, taxes and utility bills.

• They lost two Detroit properties at sheriff’s sales in April and May 2006.

• At one point, Milton had amassed $1,080 in parking ticket fines owed to the city.

• In April 2006, he was cited by Detroit police for failing to properly secure a child passenger. He paid a $235 fine, according to 36th District Court records.

I remember one morning back in my talk-radio days, when my co-host, a city councilman, casually mentioned that he’d paid a bunch of parking tickets the day before. His m.o. was to let them pile up in the glove compartment until his business took him to the city clerk’s office, then find out what his outstanding balance was and pay it all at once. He found this process far more efficient than worrying about having change for the meter and paying them one by one. Someone stopped me later and railed for a while about the “disrespect for the law” shown by this alleged public role model, and his shamelessness! In talking about it right out in the open! As though parking tickets were postcards from your doctor reminding you to get your cholesterol checked! The nerve!

Well, that was Fort Wayne, and this is Detroit. Meet the mayor’s new chief of staff. Model citizen.

While the News had that story, the Freep had another, a confirmation from a “fancy North Carolina resort” that the mayor, while passing the MLK holiday weekend there, officially alone and on official business — he was speaking at a King memorial breakfast — received a $504 “massage for two.”

Resort literature says, “The deluxe couples room is sprinkled with rose petals, then you and your significant other will receive a tandem candlelit Grove Park Inn Spa Massage, followed by an aromatic whirlpool bath. Sip chilled champagne while feeding each other chocolate-covered strawberries.”

The mayor’s companion is described as one “Carmen Slowski.” And yes, another media outlet noted the resemblance of the name to that of a fictional amphibian reptilian pitchwoman.

Jack Lessenberry chides us all:

You have to be a pretty stupid racist to take any delight or pleasure in this latest scandal.

OK, I’m chastened. He’s right that, beyond the cheap titillation, there’s absolutely nothing good to come out of this mess. But it does make the morning papers a lot more interesting. Let’s leave it at that.

Speaking of Detroit and its problems: I heard yet another stolen-car story the other day. I used to know hardly anyone who’d had a car stolen in circumstances short of extreme stupidity, i.e. leaving the keys in the ignition. Now I know half a dozen at least, and most around here. Hell, a couple of our local commenter JohnC’s friends had their car stolen, and it turned up on Belle Isle with a dead body in it. The story I heard the other day was typical, and had the effect of making me see certain things through a thief’s eyes. This lady was pumping her gas at one of those conveniently located stations on the service drive to a major freeway, and discovered the bad guys find it convenient, too. She unhooked the hose, turned to hang it up, and some dude jumped into the driver’s seat and was flying down the on-ramp to I-94 before she could say, “What the-?”

What’s perhaps miraculous is that they actually found the car, a month later. It was down in the D with a temporary tag, 3,000 more miles than it had when it was stolen, significant body damage and a nicely banged-up undercarriage. They snipped the OnStar wiring first thing, of course.

I used to wonder if all these new security devices on cars — the RFID fobs, GPS tracking, etc. — were absolutely necessary. No more.

Ah, well. As long as I drive an unsexy model with a stick shift, I feel a certain measure of safety. Foolish, perhaps, but let me cling to my illusions.

Time to fasten eyes on the day ahead. We had a day or two of mild temperatures, and then around nightfall yesterday the wind began to howl, and the thermometer dropped 40 degrees overnight. Yesterday: mid-40s. At this moment…checking widget…9 above. Yikes. I retrieved my garbage-can lid from the neighbor’s yard this morning, and reflected I never used to notice the weather beyond the obvious sweater/umbrella/boots wardrobe decisions. Probably because, as a younger woman, I was preoccupied with my internal weather report. It was like the Dutch Antilles, where the media doesn’t report daily conditions in anything other than a hurricane, because they’re always the same: High 70s with westerly winds of 10-15 miles per hour, chance of afternoon showers. Mine was: Steamy, with a 70 percent chance of bad decisions. Around my mid-30s I noticed I no longer worried that my palms were sweaty when I shook someone’s hand. The great cooling had begun. Someday I will reach room temperature, but until then, I have an on-spec essay to polish and throw out there for the usual rejections. Have a great day.

Posted at 9:10 am in Current events, Metro mayhem | 35 Comments

Film at 11, eventually.

As should be obvious from my remarks here and there, my video-camera problem has been solved. My dear friend J.C. Burns sent me his Canon GL1 on extended loan-with-option-to-buy, and my new Flip, aka “the second unit,” can go places the Canon can’t. So I’m hoping to have some video up here within a few weeks, as soon as I can suss out the complexities of getting everyone talking to everyone else, as well as the new version of iMovie, which is a pain in the ass.

However, it appears the real genius piece of gear in all of this is my new Gorillapod, which I strongly recommend to anyone who likes to fool around with cameras. Yesterday I used a long drive to Northville (a distant suburb that was, frankly, not worth the tire rubber) to do some video note-taking for an upcoming feature, working title “Let’s Go Drivin’ in the D with Nance.” I splayed the Gorillapod on the dashboard, affixed the Flip, and prepared for the usual freeway mayhem. The disappointment was that motorists were unusually well-behaved; I was only passed on the right at 85 mph by one or two cell-phone yakkers. But the G’pod was a revelation. It shifted not a millimeter, stayed steady on corners and exit ramps, and together with the Flip took up no more space than a dash-mounted GPS system, which is what it looked like.

Trust me: It’s the best $20 you’ll spend for good pictures. There’s even a Flickr group dedicated to its wonders.

After the Virginia Tech shooting, in which a few bold conservatives took a new step down the yea-guns road by blaming the victims for their own death (because they failed to “rush the guy” while he was reloading), I could hardly wait to see what would be said in the bullshitosphere after the next mass shooting — the brush had been cleared, after all. It didn’t take long: now Instapundit, who declares himself a libertarian, is suggesting that properties that declare themselves gun-free should be held personally liable for violence that occurs there: Perhaps we need legislation. If it saves just one life, it’s worth it.

Roy Edroso points out what you might suspect: That the rootin’, tootin’ western state of Nebraska has no effective restraints on long-barreled firearms, although it does restrict carrying concealed weapons. You need a permit to purchase a handgun, but not to own one. The “gun-free zone” that the right-wingers are all up in arms about is likely the legal opt-out that private-property owners employ these days. When I was in Minnesota a few years back, you saw signs everywhere declaring this or that building gun-free. It wasn’t enforced with metal detectors or anything; I suspect it was a liability dodge, or maybe a corporate bumper sticker, or something. So the mall in Omaha had these signs, and now a leading libertarian is suggesting some legislation to, what? Outlaw gun-free zones? Allow victims to sue?

I have a libertarian proposition for you: Let some savvy, pistol-packin’ real-estate developer open the OK Corral Mall down the street from this one. Go ahead and scratch up some tenants, and proudly display a sign: Everyone’s packin’ a peacemaker. Enter at your own risk. Let’s let the market sort it out!

Just speaking for myself, having a heavily armed populace just next door in Detroit makes me feel extra-safe there.

It occurs to me from my recent linkage there, some might think Roy’s is the only blog I read. If only. But I am trying to cut down, at least on the political stuff. Roy’s niche is arts, culture and calling out wingnuts. Works for me. But if you’re wondering, I also read TBogg; Lawyers, Guns and Money and a few others. Lately I’ve been reading more non-politics sites, like Bossy and, of course, the Fug Girls, even though they were way too tough on Beyoncé this week, if you ask me. That green dress does make her look a little like one of the guppies in my fish tank, but a very sexy one.

I’m adding a new tag here: Metro mayhem, for stories like this. Why do men beat their wives? (Answer, at least in this case: Because he was drunk.) Bonus: Two 911 recordings that demonstrate just how horrible 911 operators are around here.

OK, paying work awaits. Have a great day.

Posted at 9:52 am in Current events, Housekeeping, Metro mayhem | 19 Comments