Oh, grow up.

I’m relearning, in my recent enthusiasm for podcasting, something I’ve long contended: If you really want to know who’s reading/listening to a media outlet, check the advertising.

When I first started reading right-wing political magazines, I noticed the back-of-the-book ads were for things like The Great Courses and Increase Your Word Power flimflams, the intellectual equivalent of Charles Atlas’ don’t-get-sand-kicked-in-your-face-by-your-liberal-friends pitch. The lefty mags had personal ads for what sounded like a whole lot of lonely academics with nose hair, handmade jewelry and leather elbow patches on their blazers. And from what I’ve been able to tell, millennials (who are the natural audience of podcasts) simply can’t do a damn thing for themselves.

Caveat up front: Every time I’ve ventured an opinion that maybe young people need to brush up on their adulting skills, I get one of them jumping down my throat about the five jobs she works for practically nothing, and “we’re not all Lena Dunham, you know!” Noted. Noted, noted, noted. I’m just saying.

Anyway, the ‘casts I subscribe to offer some truly weird services, like various incarnations of the Clothes of the Month club — these are services where you fill out some online forms, and every month, a box of outfits appears on your doorstep. You try everything on, pay for what you like and send the rest back. How mystifying, and yet also seductive. Also, a waste of money; of course everybody has “no time to shop,” but seriously, find time to shop if looking good is important to you. It’s not that fucking hard.

Blue Apron is a similar one, only for food. Blue Apron delivers pre-portioned food boxes with easy-to-follow recipes, for those who want to cook at home but pay the same price they would at a restaurant, or at least I assume so. I honestly don’t know how you put together boxes featuring everything individually packaged, including the spices, all refrigerated, all with the usual buzzwords (“sustainable,” “locally sourced”), and deliver it to someone’s front door without charging an arm and a leg. Seriously, folks, have you considered the alternatives at your local fast-casual restaurant? You might be surprised.

It turns out keeping people from the necessary adult step of shopping for food and figuring out how to cook it themselves has a price beyond mere dollars and cents. It’s driving their employees insane:

August 26, 2015, was, by all accounts, a stressful day at Blue Apron’s facility in Richmond, California.

As the sun rose over what would be an unusually warm Wednesday, a 21-year-old employee made a phone call to a supervisor at the $2 billion food startup’s Bay Area fulfillment center, where tens of thousands of meal kits are packed into cardboard containers and shipped across the continental United States. The supervisor didn’t pick up the phone that morning, so he left a message.

In it, he said he planned to quit his job at Blue Apron later that day. He also said he planned to bring a gun to the warehouse and shoot his manager, as well as other people at the facility. In two messages, he named three people specifically who he wanted to put bullets into when he got there. Around 8:30, en route to work, the supervisor called the police.

Police apprehended the man, who did not have a gun, later that morning. But at Blue Apron, the day was just getting started.

While company security and a Richmond police officer on patrol monitored threats outside the warehouse, inside, Blue Apron management was meeting with representatives from California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health at the conclusion of a two-week inspection by the agency that would result in nine violations and proposed penalties totaling $11,695 for unsafe conditions that put workers at risk for fractured bones, chemical burns, and more. This penalty came on top of $13,050 following a forklift accident earlier in the year, giving Blue Apron the most OSHA violations in the fast-growing, $5 billion meal-kit startup industry, and among the most in perishable prepared-food manufacturing in California. (Like many companies, Blue Apron appealed these findings, and had some of its violation classifications downgraded to “general” or “other.” One of its cases is still open.)

Just after 4 p.m. on the same day, the police were back at Blue Apron for the third time, following a noontime patrol. They were prompted by yet another call from a security guard, concerned that “a weapon might be brought.”

This time the problem was a 26-year-old man who, after being fired earlier in the day for groping a female co-worker, had then threatened the person who let him go. He was later arrested for sexual assault, as well as for violating his parole on an earlier robbery charge.

“I definitely remember that day,” said David Reifschneider, who was general manager of the facility at the time. “It’s not what happens on a typical day in a typical warehouse.”

Forgive the extra-long excerpt; it’s well worth reading the entire piece. It’s the classic story of our century so far: “Disruptors” have a big idea, regular old people suffer in its incarnation. I wonder when “disruptor” will give way to the more accurate “motherfucker.” What’s wrong with learning about food in your own way, eating out, eating in, learning what you like, what it takes to make it appear on your table? What is the need for this packaging-heavy, labor-intensive step? If your life is so busy that this is what it takes to put a home-cooked meal on the table in your house, maybe you need to reconsider your life. Or maybe I’m full of shit, but man, the thought of human hands in a California warehouse putting one tablespoon of vinegar or soy sauce into a tiny bottle just makes my heart sink.

My daughter Kate is living in a co-op house at school this year. Basically, it’s a commune with some structure imposed by the university, which owns the house. It’s a vegetarian group, and all the residents share cooking duties. She’s eaten more vegetables in the past month than she probably did the 18 years she lived here. But she’s learning how to do all this stuff I tried to show her over the years and she either ignored or didn’t care to learn: How to cook rice, plan a meal, etc. Good. Life is full of challenges large and small, and mastering rice is one you need to learn. The failures teach you plenty. I have no idea what Blue Apron teaches you; maybe how to make it all a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

Let’s give these poor hard-working kids a break, maybe? A night off from work, maybe a cooking club with their friends. They can figure it out together.

OK, then, back to the topic of the hour and many hours before and to come. If nothing else comes of this fucking election, I hope it leads to the utter flushing down the public toilet of Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and much of the right-wing media-sphere. Guys, you had a good run, but the party’s about to be over. Hope you saved your money.

Hello, Tuesday, dead ahead. Dentist appointment and deadline for me — how about you?

Posted at 8:18 pm in Current events, Popculch | 64 Comments


The mail is so exciting in campaign season.


Do you think it’s an invitation to the inaugural ball?

Alas, he just wants some money.

I’m so OD’d on you-know-who that I’d like to talk about something else: Brangelina, kaput, at least temporarily. Am I the only one who thinks Jennifer Aniston is still pretty hot, while Angelina Jolie has starved herself into a bundle of sticks and a jawbone? And while Brad Pitt is still capable of being kinda sexy onscreen, when I see him I mostly imagine he is the sort of guy who has near-constant B.O., but no one around him will say anything.

Jen, on the other hand, while extremely thin and no slouch at jawbone projection herself, at least looks like she had maybe half a sandwich — cucumber, on extra-thin bread, with low-fat cream cheese and just a tiny bit of it — in the last 24 hours. And she has those great blue California-girl eyes, plus excellent comic timing. Who doesn’t like a girl who can be funny more than one who is obsessed with saving the world?

Meanwhile, this guy:

Sorry, I was looking for a picture of Brad looking all scruffy, but even then, he’s still pretty cute.

Whenever celebrities divorce, somebody always expresses disappointment and the belief that these two were “for real.” I’m reminded of something Anna Quindlen wrote, I believe about the severing of Brigitte Nielsen and Sylvester Stallone, who were briefly married. She was said to have met him after she sent a nude photo of herself up to his hotel room. After they split, Quindlen wondered how people could express the slightest surprise. You want to be surprised? How about a man who walks into his kitchen after 15 years of marriage and three kids, announces he’s leaving because he just now realized he doesn’t love his wife and never did. Now that should be news. And it never is.

I’m sure Brad will land on his feet, maybe after spending the fall with his buddy George Clooney, at his Italian villa. And then Clooney will get divorced, too.

Wednesday is looming, and I have no bloggage, because I was Truth Squadding all day and will continue tomorrow. You guys always have better ones, anyway.

Posted at 12:10 am in Popculch | 131 Comments

Old Familiar H.S.

Recognize this place? You should. It’s the go-to high school when the script calls for one. Most notably, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll high school of the great b-movie of the same name. It’s also the alma mater of one of LAMary’s sons, and the highlight of the tour she gave me yesterday.

Unfortunately, it’s the only picture I took. Sorry about that — a bit jet-lagged.

On to San Onofre today, which my reading material says is one of the best places on the globe to learn to surf.

Good thing, too. Catch y’all later.

— Gidget

Posted at 2:28 pm in iPhone, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments


I was reading a story about the ongoing Penn State/Jerry Sandusky affair. It turns out – stop me if you find this simply unbelievable – that more people might have known, far earlier, that something terrible was going on between Sandusky and the young people he was supposedly helping through his charity.

One of them was a member of the coaching staff. Supposedly, he “came into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower.”

I thought what I’ve thought often since that story broke: This is the difference between men and women. A man scurries away and turns white as a ghost. A woman, pretty much any woman I know, especially the ones who are mothers, walks up to that asshole, grabs him by the ear and starts twisting.

Or maybe not. Women can abuse children as terribly as men can. But we’re hard-wired to protect them, and every time I hear one of these stories, I think of what a terrible thing fraternity can be, how loyalty to a team can lead otherwise good people to ignore something so evil, literally right in front of their faces.

Not to start with a bummer, though! Comedy, dead ahead!

Here’s my old newspaper, on the prospect of Mike Pence behind Trump’s veep choice:

At the risk of sounding like knee-jerk cheerleaders for the favorite-son candidate, we think Pence would be a good choice because he complements Trump in so many ways. He will balance Trump’s flamboyance with his quiet and even-tempered thoughtfulness. He has all the political experience Trump lacks, bringing both executive and legislative experience to the ticket. He has impeccable conservative credentials that would immediately add to Trump’s support from that bloc of the GOP.

As the kids say: Facepalm.

Now here’s Politico, on the same subject:

A firestorm around a 2015 law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act placed the state center stage in the culture wars, leading to intense backlash from the business community. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce called the law “a tremendous hit” to Indiana’s “national identity as a welcoming and hospitable state,” and Pence delivered a memorably bad performance on ABC’s “This Week,” in which he declined to answer whether or not it should be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

He was also embarrassed by — and forced to abandon — a plan to create a state-run news service, an idea that drew national ridicule. All of it took place against the backdrop of rumblings that Pence had ambitions of his own for the Oval Office.

…He’s facing a tough rematch against Democrat John Gregg, a former state legislator who lost to Pence by three percentage points in 2012, even as Mitt Romney won the state by 10 points.
Pence’s job approval rating is underwater at 40 percent, according to a May poll, and even among Republicans only six-in-10 supported his re-election.

And people wonder why my resume now has a line that reads: “1984-2004: In a coma.”

Finally, this, from this year’s Nordstrom anniversary sale catalog. I love this sale; I usually buy one or two trinkets to jumpstart the fall wardrobe and feel, in my old-hag skin, just a touch…fashionable. But not at this cost:


Can you believe this ugly-ass shit? Whose idea is flared denim cropped pants? Not mine. Ring me up next year.

Finally-finally, an oral history of “Magic Carpet Ride.” Because the world was waiting for this, right?

Happy hump day.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Popculch | 93 Comments

Some last notes.

This will be the last you hear from me for a while. But when I resurface? I hope to be in the land of midnight sun. Wendy will be home with her sitter — who allows her to sleep in bed with him — and we’ll have an ocean between us.

As well as the Greenland Sea. Current temperature in Reykjavik: 48 degrees.

So just a link or two, and some requests:

Talk about whatever you want in my absence, but be advised that I don’t have much email access, or only intermittent access. So if your comment gets kicked to moderation, it’s likely to stay there a while. Try resubmitting. Please be kind to one another. I hope I get some good pictures.

Meanwhile, an interesting story on the Jonathan Weisman anti-Semitic tweet storm.

And then there was Hillary’s rather splendid throwdown yesterday:

She said she imagined Mr. Trump was “composing nasty tweets” about her even as she spoke. And indeed he was: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton!” Mr. Trump wrote. “Reading poorly from the teleprompter! She doesn’t even look presidential.”

But Mrs. Clinton sought to turn Mr. Trump’s prolific Twitter habit into an additional bullet point demonstrating that he was “unfit” for the presidency, as she put it. She twice referred to the scene in the White House Situation Room where as secretary of state, she advised Mr. Obama on the raid on a compound in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

“Imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States,” Mrs. Clinton said, eliciting cries of “No!” from her audience. “Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.”

Woo. Who wrote that?

Finally, a longer read I’m not done with yet, but it’s interesting, on the genetic origins of dogs.

Bye! Wheels up for Reykjavik on Sunday. Back here eventually.

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Popculch | 50 Comments

The reaper.

As I think I’ve mentioned a time or ten, my link-wrangling on a day-to-day basis goes like this: When I find something interesting, I toss it into a draft post, a process that goes on all day, between other things.

I think it was the third item when I found they had a common theme today:


Honestly, though, the kickoff item is almost joyful. And it so happens that one of my Facebook friends was there when it happened: Bassist Jane Little, who only recently became the longest-serving orchestra musician in the world, collapsed on stage during a performance of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Sunday. She never regained consciousness, and died later that night. At 87, after 71 years with the ensemble.

Which would merely be sad, but not when you consider what they were playing at the moment she went down: “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Which was their encore, in fact. And as one of her fellow players scooped her up and carried her offstage, they kept playing, so she actually left the limelight as the song reached a climax: So let’s go on with the show! A WashPost account of the incident, and her life, here.

A friend once told me he despised the platitude we so often say after someone dies: “Well, at least he died doing something he loved,” because most people don’t want to die, much less screaming toward the earth at 32 feet per second when a parachute malfunctions. In this case, though, I think we can make an exception. You couldn’t have scripted a better death; in fact, if you had scripted this, the director would have thrown it back in your face and called you Mr. Obvious.

Then, mid afternoon, I checked Twitter and found this:

Once you find the eyes, it’s just mesmerizing.

And on an animal theme, there are these outdoorsmen:

The weather at Yellowstone National Park on May 9 was fairly temperate: The low was 39 degrees Fahrenheit; the high was 50.

Nevertheless, when two tourists saw a baby bison, they decided it looked cold and needed to be rescued. So they loaded it in the trunk of their car and drove it to a ranger station.

Over the weekend, their action was widely mocked online as evidence of extreme anthropomorphism, not to mention stupidity. On Monday, the park revealed that it was also deadly — for the bison. The newborn calf had to be euthanized, the park said in a statement, because its mother had rejected it as a result of the “interference by people.”

My eyeballs just sprained themselves, they rolled so hard.

Finally, an astounding long-form project from the NYT, on the city’s century-old potters field on Hart Island. It’s very long, and I haven’t gotten all the way through it, but what I’ve seen is remarkable: Deep history, a slow burn of anger over the policy that dumps so many people in mass graves there, impressive enterprise (when the city wouldn’t let the media observe or photograph an interment, they hired a drone). And great writing:

New York is unique among American cities in the way it disposes of the dead it considers unclaimed: interment on a lonely island, off-limits to the public, by a crew of inmates. Buried by the score in wide, deep pits, the Hart Island dead seem to vanish — and so does any explanation for how they came to be there.

To reclaim their stories from erasure is to confront the unnoticed heartbreak inherent in a great metropolis, in the striving and missed chances of so many lives gone by. Bad childhoods, bad choices or just bad luck — the chronic calamities of the human condition figure in many of these narratives. Here are the harshest consequences of mental illness, addiction or families scattered or distracted by their own misfortunes.

But if Hart Island hides individual tragedies, it also obscures systemic failings, ones that stack the odds against people too poor, too old or too isolated to defend themselves. In the face of an end-of-life industry that can drain the resources of the most prudent, these people are especially vulnerable.

Indeed, this graveyard of last resort hides wrongdoing by some of the very individuals and institutions charged with protecting New Yorkers, including court-appointed guardians and nursing homes. And at a time when many still fear a potter’s field as the ultimate indignity, the secrecy that shrouds Hart Island’s dead also veils the city’s haphazard treatment of their remains.

The best single detail is about the AIDS row: Buried 14 feet deep, instead of the usual three. Just 16 bodies, but it brings back an era in a way few other memories do.

Have I bummed you out enough yet? Just think of Jane Little. On with the show!

Posted at 12:04 am in Popculch, Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Send in the cupbearer.

Kate’s been working her way through “Game of Thrones” in the millennial fashion — watching nothing else for days at a time — and I keep walking into the room just as big things are about to happen onscreen. The Red Wedding, Joffrey’s wedding – you Throne-heads know what I’m talking about. I like the show, but I think the immersion is seeping into my bloodstream; I just asked Alan to bring me a flagon of wine.

He brought me half a flagon. I considered beheading him, but he said there was more in the pantry.

Thanks for carrying the conversation yesterday. As to the burning question of Deborah’s library, here’s my method: Sort by mass-market paperback / trade paperback / hardcover, shove them wherever, and just know, more or less, where stuff is. Or sort by color. Oversize volumes on low shelves, trashy novels up high, classy stuff at eye level.

With all I had to do today, I thought I might stop over at MLive, the statewide online news network that carries Bridge content. I was actually wondering if the chatty, informational op-ed by a high-school guidance counselor, on the advisability of gap years for graduating high-school students, was attracting a sewer full of racist comments. (It was pegged to Malia Obama’s decision, of course.) I couldn’t find it, but I found the story I wrote yesterday, which was briefly on the Top 5 most-commented list. It’s about the movement to make menstrual supplies more affordable and/or free in certain situations, and I figured it would be trailing a long string of… never mind. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find readers, male readers, saying they supported the idea of free tampons in schools, because they had daughters themselves.

Sometimes the human race can really surprise me. Pleasantly.

And then something like this happens, and I realize we will never change:

An Arkansas judge accused of swapping sex for reduced sentences resigned Monday after a state commission said it discovered thousands of photographs from his computer that depicted nude male defendants.

…Boeckmann’s resignation came after the commission said in a May 5 letter to his lawyer that it was in the process of recovering as many as 4,500 photos.

“They all depict young men, many naked who are in various poses inside the judge’s home and outside in his yard,” the letter states, adding that many of the men had received checks from the judge and had appeared before him as defendants.

Arkansas is sort of another country, isn’t it?

So, want to own a piece of internet history? How would you like to buy the birthplace of this very blog, for the low-low price of practically nothing? Well, you can, because my old house in Indiana is on the market. In the years since we left, someone has taken up the carpet and refinished the floors, and I suspect a bit of staging was done, too, because those pillar candles are always a dead giveaway, don’t you think? The floor Alan put in the kitchen remains, and thank goddess they didn’t paint the kitchen cabinets. Those are some serious wide-angle lenses in some pix, but ah well — that’s real estate for you.

Finally, this may be the only Trump news I have the stomach for at the moment: Speculation on who he might choose as a running mate. Seeing as how he already has a transition team in mind, I don’t see how this is wrong to do, do you? Note how he uses the phrase “take over the White House.” Ha.

OK, outta here. Happy Wednesday.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Popculch, Television | 56 Comments


I bought one Prince album in 1981 or so, and then went out the next day and bought all the Prince albums. One was “Controversy,” and the title track included this line:

Am I black or white?
Am I straight or gay?

With Prince, you never were entirely sure. Well, he was certainly black, but his sensibility, and his artistic vision, spanned too wide a panorama to be pigeonholed as pretty much anything. He was rock, pop, dance, funk, gospel when he was feeling it, playful, serious, falsetto, growly. Today I found a clip of a performance from earlier in his career, and he’s wearing a tiger-print kimono thing, matching briefs and thigh-high socks. But he also played guitar on a par with Eric Clapton, and performed like James Brown. Only better.

(Evidence.) Watch that. It’s great.

Someone on my FB feed today called him the African-American David Bowie. I think that’s pretty perfect. Always original, sometimes imitated, never duplicated. Plus fancy outfits;

Now we wait for the cause of death. As always, watch the local sources:

In a transcript of a 911 call released by the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, an unidentified male caller tells the dispatcher there is “a person … dead here,” says he doesn’t know how the person died and struggles to find the exact address of Prince’s home, which the dispatcher urgently seeks.

“You’re at Paisley Park, OK, that’s in Chanhassen,” the dispatcher says. “Are you with the person who’s …” and the male caller quickly interrupts to say, “Yes, it’s Prince.”

Multiple responders were quickly dispatched. An ambulance dispatcher soon canceled further medical help, saying, “confirmed DOA.”

Drug overdose? Who knows.

Lots of interesting tidbits in that story. I liked this one:

He became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001, and on at least one occasion went proselytizing door-to-door. An Eden Prairie woman told Star Tribune columnist C.J. in 2003 that she was stunned when Prince and former Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham knocked on her door. Prince introduced himself as Prince Nelson and spent 25 minutes at the woman’s house talking about his faith.

With that, I’m heading out for the weekend. I hope yours is good.

Posted at 12:42 am in Popculch | 53 Comments


I may be the only American not utterly fascinated by the late pinup Bettie Page, but I will usually read articles about her as I find them, because they often contain fascinating looks at life in midcentury America.

I may be misremembering some of the key details, but there was something about the Klaws, the brother-sister photography team who promoted her career. They ran a company that sold stills from Hollywood pictures, which people collected back then. They wondered why they couldn’t keep certain Tarzan stills in stock — the ones that featured Jane or some other woman tied to a tree. Then they realized there was a market for bondage photos. (Many featuring Bettie.)

I thought of that when I read this rather marvelous Jezebel piece on spanking in old movies.

Spanking doesn’t appeal to me erotically, but I certainly know it’s a Thing, and it’s pretty damn obvious there’s a rather large segment of the population who is totally into it. At least, if you could up all the actresses who were turned over men’s laps and swatted with hands, shoes and whatever else was at hand:

In early 1946, a woman from Carmel, California wrote the Hollywood fan magazine Screenland to say how much she had enjoyed the recent Christmas release Frontier Gal—not just for its lovely performers and dazzling Technicolor vistas, but for saving her marriage by teaching her husband to spank her.

After he’d returned from the war, she’d struggled to warm up to him again, she wrote, which caused a problem—and here was the solution. “In desperation, after seeing the show, he tried little Beverly’s philosophy,” wrote Mrs. J.B.M. “Daddies spank mamas because they love them. While this old-fashioned approach probably wouldn’t work in all cases, it did for us, and I would appreciate an opportunity to publicly thank Universal and Frontier Gal.”

The letter is mysterious—is it describing erotic play, or spousal abuse?—but the context is less so. Frontier Gal was one of at least five movies with scenes of women being spanked released in 1945 alone. Though the movie culminates in a minute-long spanking of its star Yvonne De Carlo, the plot device was so unremarkable as to not even make the reviews. From the beginnings of cinema up through the 1960s, a spanking was just a routine part of a certain type of screen romance: watch the supercut below.

It’s a wonderful exploration, with lots of GIFs and stills and that long supercut. It’s easy to see the visual appeal for a movie audience; the actress gets to poke a shapely butt skyward and wiggle a pair of even shapelier calves in protest, simultaneously throwing her mop of shiny curls around. Ooh la la, eye candy. That this stuff skated past the Hays Office is odd, that it was reflected in the larger culture is even odder. It turns out mom and dad may have been into all sorts of kink while we were sleeping in our flannel jammies.

More bloggage? This is what I’m going to be doing early mornings in Iceland. You won’t be able to keep me away with a machine gun. (Which basically don’t exist there, anyway.) It’s a piece on the great, public swimming pools/hot tubs of that country. I’ve already planned where I’ll be going, of course.

Haiti, cholera and the U.N., from Slate.

Now to take my non-stinging behind off to bed.

Posted at 12:18 am in Current events, Popculch | 44 Comments

I know right.

Saturday, cold wind. Sunday, cold rain.

“Fuck this weather anyway,” I said on my way out of the gym Sunday. “I know right,” said the guy at the front desk, which I gather is an expression of affirmation, with no obvious punctuation. I KNOW RIGHT. Kids these days.

It wasn’t a bad weekend, but the weather was atrocious. There was a little chilly sunshine on Saturday, and that was a big ol’ compensation for the breeze coming straight out of the north, but meh. So I spent much of the weekend reading. Softhearted me, I undertook Jim Harrison’s final collection of novellas, “The Ancient Minstrel.” I finally had to put it down on Saturday and go make lamb chops, because I had my fill of goatish old satyrs assaulting 15-year-old girls. The final piece in the collection features such a pairing, which would be defensible, to my mind, if this fictional 15-year-old did anything remotely resembling what a real 15-year-old would do when a senior citizen is pawing her body. Cry, maybe, or go limp, or ask for money. But no — she welcomes the sexual attention of a 66-year-old man, enthusiastically. She rolls her hips around, teases him with peeks up her shorts, pouts when they’re interrupted.

I have fucking had it, I thought, and went downstairs to throw some fingerling potatoes in the oven.

A 15-year-old isn’t exactly a child, but this particular theme, old guys with young girls, has been a regular in the Harrison canon for at least the last 20 years. And it has become, for me, increasingly cringeworthy. It’s odd to feel embarrassed for someone you admire so much. He wrote some outstanding fiction in his life, books I’ve treasured, read and reread to figure out how he did it, how he made these meandering, plotless stories so interesting. He had a voice that made me want to spend time in his head and look at the world through his eyes. His characters were always wildly flawed and often sexually reckless, but they were funny, and they weren’t felons, at least not the ones we might be expected to identify with. (I recall a vile, moneyed patriarch who raped a child in one, but that’s it.)

But age takes its toll on everyone, and a few years back, I noticed the same stories repeating themselves, and evidence of little or no editing, self- or otherwise. The last book I bought was “The River Swimmer,” which asks us to believe a young man might swim from somewhere on the west Michigan coast at roughly the Grand Rapids latitude to Chicago. In Lake Michigan. Is this magical realism? Kinda. But I found the impossibility of the act – and the fact this 17-year-old character has all the attitudes and wisdom of his 70-something creator – hard to get past. (Even in these half-baked stories, though, there were flashes of brilliance, the old better-on-a-bad-day-than-almost-everyone-else-on-their-best thing. Which is why I kept reading.)

This April-December sex thing is a bridge too far for me, though, but I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, now that he’s dead. I finished the story the next day. Spoiler alert: The character commits suicide on the final page. Good, I thought, and regretted ever knowing about him in the first place.

Do I have some bloggage? I think so…

A columnist in Indiana apologizes for not saying something sooner.

I find Vice wildly uneven, but this was funny: I played “The Boys Are Back in Town” on a bar jukebox until I got kicked out. It was sent to me by a friend who said his evening had been ruined by some douche coming into the bar where he was playing pool and fucking up his sick jukebox set with some Kiss shit. Been there! Feel your pain!

Zika is coming. Congress is not hustling to find the money to fight it. Quelle surprise.

Premature death rates for middle-aged white women are climbing; the WashPost looked at one. A sad, familiar story.

OK, then, Monday awaits. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, J.C. BURNS!!! Enjoy yours.

Posted at 12:11 am in Popculch | 50 Comments