What’s for dinner? Nothing.

I don’t know how many more weeks like this I can take. One big thing after another big thing and here it is Thursday night and a pretty big weekend awaits. So I’m going to fold into bed pretty soon, but here I am for now.

I have a bookmark that’s been on my browser forever, called Wind Map. It shows the direction and velocity of prevailing winds all over the country at any given moment. I checked it Wednesday. You don’t get the motion effect here, but mercy, that’s a vortex:

The lighter the line, the faster the wind. Poor Colorado.

So let’s hop to the bloggage:

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, describes his eating habits:

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey gave an interview revealing that he typically fasted on weekends and ate only one meal on weekdays, and that the single meal typically consisted of, “fish, chicken, or some steak,” plus arugula, spinach or “sometimes asparagus or Brussels sprouts” and finally, “I have mixed berries as a dessert.”

If a female CEO described the exact same eating habits, there’d be a volcano of armchair psychologists making diagnoses: She has an eating disorder! What a bad role model! But in Dorsey’s interview with CNBC, this was described as “biohacking.” So thank goddess for Monica Hesse to point out what bullshit this is:

I don’t know why we’re so reverential of the eating behaviors of Silicon Valley executives, except I sort of think I know why. These men completely revolutionized the way we took photographs, paid for services, connected with relatives and moved through the world. There’s something tantalizing in the idea that they also hold the key to revolutionizing our bodies.

And so we get articles in the Guardian about a group of male CEOs who call themselves “Fast Club” and participate in a “5:2” eating plan, in which they eat virtually nothing for two days a week. “The first day I felt so hungry I was going to die,” one was quoted as saying, while simultaneously insisting that this wasn’t a dangerous result, this was just biohacking.

It just never stops, does it?

With that, I’m going to keep watching “Paris is Burning” on Netflix and continue to be amazed at how we all follow poor gay people but aren’t even aware of it.

Posted at 9:51 pm in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 46 Comments
 

Sunday again.

Oh, hello Sunday. I was just thinking, in one of those weirdly linked slide shows that happen in our brains, the following:

The Spanky and Our Gang song, “Sunday Will Never be the Same,” 52 years old this year. When it was released in 1967, a 50-year-old song was…Googling…“Over There,” which tells you something. “Sunday Will Never be the Same” was licensed for a commercial in the mid-’80s, for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I remember seeing it at the time, when I was visiting a friend there. It was beautifully shot, promoting the new and improved Sunday edition, showing Clevelanders waking up, starting the coffee, retrieving the big fat paper from the porch, enjoying it with their pancakes and eggs. When I got back to Fort Wayne, I saw that my paper, too, had a new commercial. It used a public-domain recording of “The Blue Danube Waltz” and bargain-basement production – a series of overhead shots of anonymous hands tearing coupons, articles, etc., out of the paper, scored to the dat-dat, doot-doot rhythms of the music. The tagline: “Worth tearing into.” How wonderful to be one of those Clevelanders, able to smile and relax and find enjoyable things in the paper, instead of opening it to read about human shitstain Alex Jones, and how he fueled the paranoid fantasies of a Sandy Hook truther, who fixated in particular on Avielle Richman, one of the dead students. Avielle’s father committed suicide recently, of course. The truther is named Wolfgang Halbig, and dig this, peeps:

Another parent, Leonard Pozner, whose son Noah died in the same classroom as Ana, reported the abuse, and after six years of appeals, Twitter suspended Mr. Halbig’s account last month. Mr. Pozner founded the HONR Network, a nonprofit combating online hate, after Noah was targeted by the conspiracy theorists.

The boldface is mine, of course. It only took six years of a certified lunatic clamoring for autopsy photos and receipts for crime-scene cleanup for Twitter, that temple of free speech, to do something about it. How honorable. Meanwhile, Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, came to Detroit last week for something-or-other, and either he or his staff posted a couple pix of themselves, one in front of the Motown Museum, and every single person in the pictures is white. Give ’em six more years, and maybe they can find some staffers of color.

Anyway, I guess what I’m thinking is: Sunday will never be the same. I used to like Sunday. Brunch! Friends! Sunday Funday! Now, too often, it’s just another work day, starting with the morning paper.

Oh well. Truth be told, there were some great reads this weekend:

This Frank Bruni column is getting a lot of shares, for good reason. It’s about why we are less enamored of trendy restaurants as we age:

I was once under 50. I’m now over that mark. And it’s not just sex and sleep that change as you age. It’s supper.

I’d advance a side argument: It’s restaurants, and what they’ve become, too. I’m an adventurous eater, and never mind trying something new. But I hate many new restaurants, not for the food, but the atmosphere, mainly the noise. If this is a sign of aging, so be it, but man — the cacophony in many of these places is simply off the charts. You can Google up a dozen stories about why that is, but I find it really off-putting to have to lean in and yell at your tablemates, which only makes the problem worse.

And while we’re on the subject of restaurants, you might enjoy this column from the Detroit News, about a century-old columnist for the Jewish News here in Detroit. Danny Raskin wears an obvious toupee, and has so much joie de vivre, you understand why he’s still kicking at 100. Even if centenarians don’t interest you, read until you get to the Purple Gang story.

Finally, many thanks to LA Mary for finding this. I let my New Yorker subscription expire, so I’m stingy with my clicks, and this one is worth it, about the strange story of Shen Yun. If you live in a city of any size, you’ve likely seen the Shen Yun billboards, which are utterly ubiquitous in Detroit, or were, before the Chinese dance troupe performed here earlier this month. I didn’t know what it was other than “something Chinese and dance-y,” and neither did the New Yorker writer. But it’s something…more.

With that, it’s on to cleaning up what I didn’t get done last week and compiling an unreasonable to-do list for next week. Sunday Funday!

Posted at 11:33 am in Current events, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 47 Comments
 

Dirty.

In my haste to be a big smartypants about Jussie Smollett, I forgot to tell you about the Dirty Show. It’s an art show that runs over two weekends and is, surprise surprise, dirty. Erotic, I guess you’d call it, although dirty probably fits better.

About 15 percent of the art was decent, most was campy/mediocre/whatever and the rest was porn, but artistic. I guess this would fall in the first category:

But you don’t go to the Dirty Show to look at the art on the walls, scratch your chin and say hmm, interesting. You go to see the other stuff, and to people-watch. It rarely disappoints in that area; half the burlesque dancers in the Midwest show up, and the crowd tries to keep up. When I was getting dressed for the evening, I thought, what the hell, let’s do something fun, so I picked a crimson bra out of the drawer and, first, thought to wear it alone under a blazer, ’70s-supermodel style. But it was cold, and I chickened out, and added a rather sheer top. I felt scandalous leaving the house, but within five minutes of scanning the crowd, realized I was wearing the Dirty Show equivalent of a navy polo shirt and mom jeans. As I often say after Theatre Bizarre: “I had no idea so many women in Detroit own corsets.” Corsets galore, as well as pasties, bare-ass thongs with fishnets, all that stuff. A guy led a woman in a wheelchair around with a leash. A woman led a man around on a leash. I waited in line for the restroom behind a woman in bondage gear and a nun’s wimple.

It was quite the crowd. No John Waters this year, but a good time just the same.

So.

Not long after I wrote Monday’s entry about spotting bullshit, it occurred to me where I’ve read quite a few unbelievable stories in recent years: Accounts of human trafficking. I read a piece about a sex trafficking victim, who described her ordeal: Kidnapped at 15, thrown into an attic with two other women, chained by the ankle, and forced to stay there, sleeping on a pallet and using a bucket for elimination, for a year. A year. No baths, no breaks, “15 to 40 men a day,” just brought in one after another to rape the girls on their pallets. It’s possible. But it doesn’t pass the smell test, and I’ve heard verified stories about chained women. A year? It’s hard to believe that not one guy wouldn’t feel a pang of post-coital remorse and drop a dime to the police, that word wouldn’t spread.

And how often these stories are detail-free, so none can be verified with family or law enforcement, everyone mysteriously dead or gone somehow. And how often these stories are published by Christian presses, and feature redemption/conversion narratives late in the story. And how often these stories are only about sex trafficking, when we know that labor trafficking is just as big a problem, but somehow it’s all white girls forced into prostitution, never brown girls forced into agricultural labor, or domestic servitude.

I’ll repeat what I’ve said often: Human trafficking is real, and a serious problem. But it can’t be addressed without good data about the extent of the problem. And we’re nowhere close to understanding it.

OK, all. More snow expected overnight, followed by ice, followed by rain. Just another day in paradise. Stay warm.

Posted at 9:17 pm in Detroit life, Popculch | 102 Comments
 

Sick, sick, sick.

In my bottomless masochism, I subscribed to Will Sommer’s Right Richter newsletter. It’s not the reading that’s difficult; Sommer covers the nutso right for the Daily Beast, and man. Man. It’s hard to believe this isn’t just pro wrestling.

The newsletter is free, and if you follow the link above you can get it, too. I’m going to quote more liberally from the latest issue this week than I generally do, just so you can get the gist here:

Two of the internet’s greatest galaxy brains are at war.

On one side: InfoWars chief Alex Jones, who’s been scrambling to get headlines after getting booted off of nearly every social media platform.

On the other: Joe Rogan, the mixed-martial arts commentator, hallucinogen enthusiast, and bro god who doubles as the gatekeeper to the quasi-conservative, quasi-mystical Intellectual Dark Web.

Jones and Rogan used to be pals. The InfoWars chief was on Rogan’s mega-popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, less than two years ago, racking up millions of views for his one-time chum.

But now, Jones will only describe Rogan as a pig he’s going to gut.

“Joe Rogan, metaphysically, is a Christmas hog,” Jones said Wednesday. “And I’m going to politically haul him up by his back legs and slit his throat. His blood will fill buckets — politically, not violently.”

The beef between the two started at least last summer, when Jones, beset by social media bans and lawsuits over his conspiracy theories, watched his influence start to wane. But the feud has turned red-hot after Rogan interviewed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — and failed, in Jones’s view, to press Dorsey enough on why InfoWars was banned from Twitter.

Enraged, Jones has “declared war” on Rogan, claiming that he’s working for the CIA and George Soros. In his response video, Rogan said he’s just too busy to be a CIA asset.

Jones insisted that Rogan promoted Bitcoin to his audience as part of a scheme to make himself and Dorsey rich off the backs of his “sucker plantation” audience. Naturally, Jones doesn’t mention that InfoWars, too, went wild for Bitcoin in 2017.

Even Rogan’s enthusiasm for the hallucinogen DMT has come into play, with Jones claiming that Rogan is using the drug to mind-control his fans.

It’s tempting to say that of course this is pro wrestling. Because no one could be crazy enough to believe this. But then you wander…well, take a Facebook profile I found myself marveling over the other day, one I’d found while following a comment back from a right-wing deplorable in northern Michigan. I learned that this person, a woman who also lives up there, is convinced she is being poisoned by, among other things, vaccines, fluoridation, chemtrails and 5G internet radiation. She lives remotely because that’s the only way she can feel safe.

Imagine a mind like that, hearing Alex Jones tell you Joe Rogan is using DMT to control his fans. You’d scoff, I’d scoff, but someone who thinks the internet is giving her cancer? Please, Mr. Jones, tell me more. The other day I was thinking about quackery, for some reason, remembering, yet again, the fabulous Flo Ripley, my high-school health teacher, who taught us about chiropractic and osteopathic medicine, how they differed from the traditional sort (at least as practiced in this country), other topics related to how medical con men work, and how we might know when we were being bullshitted. And then the laetrile story broke big — I think Steve McQueen traveled to Mexico to get this cancer cure that Big Pharma wanted to keep from the people, but spoiler alert, he died of cancer anyway. I read these stories at 16, 17 years old and said, Why, this sounds like bullshit. As I recall, Coretta Scott King did the same thing, although I don’t know whether she was after laetrile. Steve Jobs tried to treat his own cancer with “nutrition” and all that.

All dead. And now we have Goop, vaccine “hesitancy” listed as a public-health threat, fluoridation panics and myriad other ignorance afoot in the land, aided and abetted by the internet. And Alex Jones, of course.

So this is going to be it for me for a few days. We’re packing our bags for a long weekend away, Alan burning auto-show comp time and me? I just need some time away. Of course I am still sick. I went to see my doctor and begged for a Z-pack, because I was sure all this crud had migrated to my ears and become a bacterial infection.

His cold-hearted reply: “It’s viral. I had it. My wife had it, everyone has it. Antibiotics won’t do any good and might give you diarrhea.”

So on I go. In week three now. Maybe I’ll spread this to the whole world before I stop coughing.

Posted at 6:29 pm in Current events, Popculch | 132 Comments
 

Statement dressing.

Having enjoyed a few days of not having to be under the same roof as her husband, the First Lady of this once-great country wishes people would stop paying so much attention to what she wears. To which I reply: Then stop dressing so goddamn weird.

I have Tim Gunn and “Project Runway” to thank for introducing me to the concept of an outfit being “costume-y.” That is to say, it moves beyond style — which flatters and communicates something about the wearer — and becomes something that calls attention to itself alone. Also, it makes people looking on say, essentially, WTF?

Lady Gaga’s meat dress is an easy example of this, in contrast to, say, one of her other many fun evening outfits.

Lots of attention was paid to FLOTUS’ overseas wardrobe, but perhaps most to the meet-your-British-overlords equestrian ensemble, complete with pith helmet. Especially the pith helmet, which scholars explained elsewhere has a particular attachment to colonialism, but honestly? I don’t think that entered FLOTUS’ head for even a second. I don’t think she was sending a message to white nationalists or anything like that. I think she’s playing dress-up. She saw a picture of a Kenyan coffee plantation in a book and duplicated the look.

I mean, she’s also wearing riding boots; why? Is she getting on a horse? Walking somewhere that snakebite might be feared? No. Any old broad-brimmed hat could shield her face from the sun, but the picture of the coffee plantation had a pith helmet, so a pith helmet it is.

Where does anyone even buy one of those things? It’s a puzzle.

Then there was the other outfit, which she saved for the pyramids of Egypt:

I think this one came out of an Indiana Jones movie. It makes absolutely no sense to me. The hat is fine — again, strong sun — and there’s nothing wrong with a pantsuit, but the hat with the pantsuit and then the windblown necktie? Hello, Dr. René Emile Belloq.

It’s really baffling. If we’re all supposed to pretend that Melania Knauss entered this country as a “model,” shouldn’t she have learned something about clothing along the way?

Ugh, a Sunday after a tough week with another one ahead. I am coping by arranging as much as possible ahead of time, a to-do list and food prep and all laundry done and all the rest of it. I’m also avoiding the news even more than I did last weekend. I went to the library and checked out three books, all of them novels. This isn’t avoiding reality, it’s bolstering sanity. There comes a point where you just can’t take this crap another day.

One bit of news I did see this weekend is about the melee that broke out after the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Vegas Saturday night. The bout was between Irishman Conor McGregor and Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, which made me reflect, first, that Ireland was the old source of great-white-hope fighters, and Russia is the new one. Besides the Ukrainians (Wladimir Klitchko and his brother Vitali) and the famous Triple-G (Gennady Gennadyovich Golovkin, aka Triple G, and boy do the announcers like to draw that one out in the introductions), there are a shitload of ferocious fighters from the north Caucasus, i.e. Muslim Russia. When we saw Claressa Shields fight here in Detroit in June, the undercard had a couple of Chechens on it, and Nurmagomedov is from Dagestan, right next door.

And now that I think about it, Dearborn has a little bit of a boxing community, which makes me wonder why Russia and why Muslim Russia. Anyone have any ideas?

OK, I think I’m done for now, and I hope this week brings you peace, quiet and as little static as possible. God knows we need it after last week.

Posted at 5:49 pm in Current events, Popculch | 117 Comments
 

Not dead yet.

The word of the day is…I guess it’s a compound word, but whatever: “Pre-mourning.”

Allow me to explain.

The news that Aretha Franklin is, quote gravely ill unquote came in late Sunday night. In journo-speak, that means the person involved has hours to live. I generally work Mondays at my non-journalism workplace, but I got there particularly early Monday, so I peeled off my first hour to dash off…I guess you’d call it an appreciation of the queen of soul.

“I will get you something before noon,” I told my editor. It was done by 9:30 a.m. Whew!

But Aretha lingered. Word of her health condition spread. Of course, thanks to social media, everybody has something to say now, and they all started saying it. Traditional news outlets swung into action, some with comical results — two local TV stations did live standups in front of the Motown museum, because TV staffs skew young and apparently no one in their newsrooms knew Aretha had never been a Motown artist, ever. (Columbia, then Atlantic.) The pop music writers started doing their career retrospectives. There was a headline in the Freep yesterday: What we know about Aretha Franklin’s health. Pieces about who was stopping by to visit in these presumably final days.

My poor little appreciation, which seemed crisp 48 hours ago, now stinks like an old fish. This has all been said, I’m thinking, looking at it. It’s not fresh at all. I’ve seen that Kennedy Center thing 14 times on my Facebook in the last hour.

And then I saw this:

The digital age allows us to witness “pre-mourning” on a worldwide scale. And that’s what we’re witnessing right now around the news that Aretha Franklin’s health is failing. People are celebrating her life and bracing for her possible death — and much of this is playing out in public.

OK, first off: Death is not “possible.” It’s inevitable. For everyone, even Aretha Franklin. But I find this kinda…gross. There’s a tribute concert in the works, for god’s sake. It’s not quite like, but close to, the heirs fighting over an estate before the corpse is cool. Let’s give the lady some peace in her final days.

Does your city have Bird scooters yet? Detroit got them a few weeks ago. I won’t say I …hate them, exactly, but man, they can be annoying, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before some eager-beaver bro runs over an old person, or a young person, or some other person, and then we’ll have a situation like they have in Los Angeles, which you have to agree is pretty funny:

As cities like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills struggle to control a rapid proliferation of electric pay-per-minute scooters, some residents are taking matters into their own hands and waging a guerrilla war against the devices. These vandals are destroying or desecrating the vehicles in disturbingly imaginative ways, and celebrating their illegal deeds on social media — in full view of authorities and the public.

I’ve had a few zoom past me on the not-particularly-crowded streets. They get on my nerves when they weave in and out of sidewalks and streets, but I guess that’s the point.

How’s your August going? August is spider season here — they’re turning up everywhere. They’re pooping all over Alan’s boat and making webs outside the back door every night. Big ones, too — I expect they’re genetic mutants enabled by climate change, don’t you? Grabbing the last meals out of summer, although honestly, there are weeks and weeks left before the first frost. I never kill them; I relocate them outdoors. Anything that kills flies is A-OK with me.

So, what are the current events for discussion? Omarosa? I don’t have the energy, except to note that no one could have possibly seen this amazing, astonishing outcome to her White House employment. Also, I hope she has lots more tapes.

And then there’s the One True Church. Ugh.

Time for bed. Over the hump, Wednesday.

Posted at 9:46 pm in Current events, Popculch | 46 Comments
 

The ‘Wolf continues to rock.

I forgot to tell you about Steppenwolf. OK, here goes:

This was yet another outing organized by my friend Dustin, who has yet to reach 30 but, as he often says, is devoted mainly to musicians who qualify for Medicare. And the ‘Wolf — as John Kay referred to the band from the stage — certainly qualifies. Kay does, anyway, and for all intents and purposes, he *is* Steppenwolf. He’s now 74, and announced from the stage that this would be the final! Steppenwolf! Tour! EVER.

Sorry you couldn’t be there to hear them plow through a completely standard oldies-act set, with all the usual hits, from “Sookie Sookie” through “Rock Me,” “Snowblind Friend,” blah blah blah, “Monster” and then the band introduction, followed by “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Born to be Wild” and one more I can’t remember…oh right, “The Pusher.” (Thanks, Setlist.fm!)

I was hoping for a MAGA-led riot during “Monster,” as anti-America a song as was produced in the ’60s, but no deal. The Trump voters in the audience — and I’m confident a straw poll would have shown a crowd as red as blood — either saw it as a nostalgia piece or just didn’t know what it was about.

But of course I wasn’t there for the music, which I burned out on before junior year of high school. I was there to see the amazing audience of elderly bikers, who looked sort of like the Confederate Army in full retreat, if the Rebels had still had decent boots, four-footed canes and health insurance. There was so much evidence of hard living — beer bellies, prosthetic legs, baroque surgery scars running up and down legs from where they’d had to lay the bike down on that bitch of a turn that one time.

Being a biker is a look that doesn’t age well, but hey, no one cared! And so there were women who looked 70 if they were a day, still wearing skintight jeans, Harley-Davidson tank tops, engineer boots and American-flag bandannas on their hair, a face full of wrinkles like W.H. Auden, in total IDGAF mode. Once an old lady, always an old lady. And their dudes were similarly dressed, and guess what? They made for some cute couples.

Lots of this sort of thing:

When was the last time we used combat paratroopers? That guy’s hair looks too young to be a Vietnam vet.

Here was John Kay, signing a last autograph before heading off to his bus or hotel room or something:

The ‘Wolf has had a good run, Kay said from the stage — 50 years and then some — but it’s time to move on. He’s planning to save the elephants in his remaining years. God bless him.

So.

Some of you were talking in the comments about companies moving their corporate offices hither and yon in search of the young and educated. That’s certainly happening here. But I wonder how well this trend will scale, as the wonks say. The older I get, the less willing I am to sit in traffic, under any circumstances. Commuting at rush hour is one of my least-favorite things to do, ever, and I’ll do almost anything to avoid it — take surface streets, be an hour late, whatever — because it’s the closest I get to murder these days.

If I had to get into a dense downtown via car every day, I’d go insane. Fortunately I mainly do so off-peak, or else take the bus.

Just one piece of bloggage as we slide into the weekend — the peerless Robin Givhan on Paul Manafort’s revolting, expensive wardrobe:

His is the story of a man’s inexorable slide into a nauseating spectacle of insatiable consumption — a parable, or perhaps, a farce that included salivating merchants flying across the country to cater to his appetites. There are so many enticing, beguiling entry points in this story of unbridled decadence: the use of wire transfers from foreign bank accounts to pay his clothing bills, the capacity to spend more than $929,000 on suits in a five-year period, a perplexing fixation on plaid sport jackets. But ultimately, the one thing that most folks will remember from the first week of Manafort’s trial on bank and tax fraud charges is his $15,000 ostrich-leather bomber jacket.

The jacket is an atrocity — both literal and symbolic. It’s a garment thick with hubris and intent. For the prosecution, it was not an opening statement; it was an opening salvo.

As a matter of aesthetics, it’s worth stipulating that most clothes would not look particularly enticing dangling from a wooden hanger hooked over the back of an open door. And the government’s photographer is not exactly Richard Avedon. But hanger appeal is not the problem. The jacket, with its white topstitching and white satin lining, lacks finesse, artistry and sophistication. It’s simply a celebration of ostrich leather, which is to say that it is a celebration of money and excess. Ostrich, after all, is an expensive, exotic skin. Manafort also owned python, which he had stitched into an equally unimpressive but expensive jacket.

Now that. Is fashion writing.

Happy weekend, all. Rock on.

Posted at 8:55 pm in Current events, Popculch | 46 Comments
 

Slow food.

OK, a little breathing space this afternoon, so here goes:

As Connie may have hinted at in the previous post comments, one of my two part-time employers is hosting a conference this week, and it’s been time-consuming. It’s short but pretty dense-packed, and between the tweeting and coffee-swilling and field-trip wrangling, I haven’t had much time to spare. Yesterday was “Detroit Day” for our guests, policy researchers from several different states, and we had sessions on the bankruptcy, the autonomous-vehicle future, the lead neurotoxin menace and to finish the day, a bus tour to two urban farms. There were a lot of details and emails involved, but it all came off without a hitch, so most of the pressure is off now. Tonight is a dinner at the DIA, then the rest is just administrative stuff and waving goodbye.

So.

Let me begin by asking for a show of hands: Anybody been to a McDonald’s lately? If your hand is up, can you tell me what the hell is going on at that place? Because I’ve stopped there twice in maybe the last six months, and if this is the way they’re running, sell your stock.

I guess I have to start with the usual disclaimers: I’m not a regular, although I’ll stop there from time to time when I’m on a long drive and it’s clear there will be no Steak & Shake for at least 100 miles, or if I’m running between errands and ravenously hungry with no time to eat. A small fries and a Diet Coke will tide me over to the next real-food occasion pretty well. Oh, and cards on the table: I still enjoy an Egg McMuffin from time to time. Maybe twice a year.

As it happened, some of these circumstances led me to a Mickey D’s a couple times lately. Both times, the drive-through lanes were backed way up, and I figured I could park, order inside and be on my way in less time. If only. They’ve revamped their order-and-delivery system, and the delays now make the term “fast food” ironic. Gone is the slanting aluminum rack behind the counter, where the cooks kept the wrapped burgers sliding down to the counter people to bag and deliver p.d.q. Now you get a slip with an order number, and you stand around and wait. And wait. And wait.

Both times I’ve been lately, it’s clear why the drive-through lane was backed up, why the lot’s been re-striped with sit-and-wait parking spots. I’ve had faster food service in bars. Hell, even in real restaurants, they can usually get a salad or bowl of soup out within a few minutes of ordering, but the other day it took at least 10 or 15 to deliver a quarter-pounder.

I suspect the labor shortage has something to do with this. We’re long past the time when a fast-food joint was a teenager’s traditional first job; I think the average FF worker’s age is now 31. Every McD’s I’ve been in lately has signs touting the excellent benefits to be gained from working there, and the smiling person on the poster rarely looks 16. It’s possible this is a transitional step to the order-from-kiosks model, too, and the kid running the register is simply dead man walking. Or it might just be that fast food is going through yet another transition as an industry, and I don’t read deep enough into the Wall Street Journal to know what it is.

Anyway, for as long as it took me to get my food, it took the kid in front of me about 20 to get his chicken nuggets.

OK, so a little bloggage:

How America uses its land — a data package with some great maps.

Here’s a piece from my other part-time job — not mine — about the GOP Senate battle here in Michigan. Two candidates are trying to outdo one another in pledging fealty to you-know-who. One is a young war vet, the other an older businessman. Both should know better, but I guess not:

A Pensler campaign ad noted that James’ only campaign contribution ever consisted of a $500 donation to a liberal Detroit City Council candidate who now supports “sanctuary cities,” which shield illegal immigrants from deportation. At the time, James said, he naively backed a local candidate running for office in a district that included his family’s Detroit business.

In response to a counterattack, Pensler was forced to defend a few campaign contributions he made to Democrats two decades ago. The wealthy financier said he has contributed more than 30 times to GOP candidates and his attempt to “cross the aisle” with Dem donations was a mistake.

…As both candidates vie for the affections of staunchly pro-Trump voters, James attacked “liberal” Pensler for saying Trump talks “like a fourth grader.” Pensler cried foul, contending that his remarks in context show that he was complimenting the president. He tried to say that Trump successfully boils issues down to a fourth-grade level, which Pensler views as an admirable political skill.

Not that they’re anywhere close to the bottom, either. Oh, no. This guy is much, much closer.

And with that, I’m going to try to grab a bike ride before I have to change for the evening. Thanks for bearing with the erratic schedule around here.

Posted at 2:25 pm in Current events, Popculch | 46 Comments
 

The ‘Wolf rocks on. Me, likewise.

I’m heading into a 48-hour period of grindstone-meet-nose stuff, but I wanted to put up a fresh post and let er’rybody talk about this and that. My weekend started with seeing, of all bands, Steppenwolf, and ended with an all-day there-and-back to Fort Wayne, to say farewell to one of our neighbors, who died unexpectedly a few weeks ago. It was a good trip, but exhausting, and for now, let me just show you this photo of one of the ‘Wolf crowd, and I’ll be back probably Tuesday or Wednesday:

Yeah, it was that kind of night. Carry on, and I’ll see y’all soon.

Posted at 10:24 pm in Popculch | 24 Comments
 

Two blondes, parted in the middle.

I have about 15 minutes to write this, so hey — expect typos.

Today’s Interesting Juxtaposition comes as the NYT magazine looks at the strange story of Goop, aka Gwyneth Paltrow’s “wellness” business that peddles not just incredibly overpriced creams and potions, but actual quackery, some of it harmless, some less so:

A gynecologist and obstetrician in San Francisco named Jen Gunter, who also writes a column on reproductive health for The Times, has criticized Goop in about 30 blog posts on her website since 2015. A post she wrote last May — an open letter that she signed on behalf of “Science” — generated more than 800,000 page views. She was angry about all the bad advice she had seen from Goop in the last few years. She was angry that her own patients were worried they’d given themselves breast cancer by wearing underwire bras, thanks to an article by an osteopath who cited a much-debunked book published in 1995. Gunter cited many of Goop’s greatest hits: “Tampons are not vaginal death sticks, vegetables with lectins are not killing us, vaginas don’t need steaming, Epstein Barr virus (E.B.V.) does not cause every thyroid disease and for [expletive] sake no one needs to know their latex farmer; what they need to know is that the only thing between them and H.I.V. or gonorrhea is a few millimeters of latex, so glove that [expletive] up.”

That is but one moment in a long, extremely entertaining read. But it gets to the heart of my complaint with Gwynnie. And then there’s the other blonde grifter:

In public interviews, Ivanka’s been a master of careful excellence, the artful dodge, the well-phrased nothing. As for her influence: She’s said only that if she disagrees with her father, it’s expressed privately and “with total candor.” …But the biggest question surrounding Ivanka has always been this one: How much of her identity is about herself? Her own name, her own brand, her own legacy? And how much of her identity is tied up in being her father’s daughter?

Actually, that last one’s not a hard question to answer at all: 100 percent. Ivanka’s clothes are basic career dressing — sheath dresses, skirts and blouses. She no more “designs” them than I do. If you click through, note the photo down low in the story, of Ivanka photographed in profile, hair in a bun, chin resting on a knuckle, as posiest a pose as was ever posed. Her fembot brain said, “Camera! Look thoughtful!” and that’s the first one that popped up. There isn’t an authentic bone in her body, or if there is, we haven’t seen it yet.

That both these pieces are about privilege, white/blonde/rich/genetic lottery privilege, goes without saying. That both these women lead (or led) “aspirational” companies is kinda depressing. Here’s my aspiration: To live long enough to see Ivanka become her mother, and all that implies — two more marriages, children grown into disappointments, face puffed with fillers and, of course, a “signature” hairdo. Straight and forever blonde, parted in the middle.

Fifteen minutes is up, and I have to shower and get to work. Sorry I’ve been scarce. Next week will be worse, at least until Wednesday. Try to get by without me.

Posted at 8:24 am in Popculch | 30 Comments