End of the lyne.

Well, isn’t this interesting: The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is drawing to a close after 40 years. I remember getting a flyer for this when I worked in Columbus, when the festival must have been in its near-infancy and spelling “women” with a y was considered real transgressive stuff.

Later on I wrote about it for a magazine here, and interviewed the founder and head honchess, Lisa Vogel. It was pretty clear there were already some deep divisions within the tribe, although at the time the transgender issue, which is apparently what brought the fest to its knees for good, hadn’t emerged in the mainstream. At the time, I was more agog that they banned male children from the main grounds, and by children I mean any boy over the age of 5. Vogel patiently explained that for the sort of women attracted to a four-day, all-female music and arts fest held in the middle of Nowhere, Michigan, it is a genuine, almost physical relief to not have to see or even think about the other gender. I get it; it takes all kinds, and while these women aren’t my kind, I respect their right of free association. It must have sucked to be one of those who had a boy child to look after, that’s all. They are confined to a separate boys campsite. Probably had plenty of fun there, but.

The real split came over the organizers’ rules restricting the festival to “womyn-born-womyn,” which is evidently a big split among feminists well to the left of me. The New Yorker had a thoughtful piece about it last summer, and Vogel is quoted:

Michfest, as it’s called, takes place every August, on six hundred and fifty acres of land in the woods east of Lake Michigan. Lisa Vogel founded it in 1976, when she was a nineteen-year-old Central Michigan University student, and she still runs it. The music, Vogel says, is only part of what makes Michfest important. Each year, several thousand women set up camp there and find themselves, for a week, living in a matriarchy. Meals are cooked in kitchen tents and eaten communally. There are workshops and classes. Some women don extravagant costumes; others wear nothing at all. There is free child care and a team to assist disabled women who ordinarily cannot go camping. Vogel describes the governing ethos as “How would a town look if we actually got to decide what was important?”

She told me, “There’s something that I experience on the land when I walk at night without a flashlight in the woods and recognize that for that moment I feel completely safe. And there’s nowhere else I can do that.” She continued, “If, tomorrow, we said everyone is welcome, I’m sure it would still be a really cool event, but that piece that allows women to let down their guard and feel that really deep sense of personal liberation would be different, and that’s what we’re about.”

I feel passionately about a great many things, but this isn’t one of them. You have to respect those who do, however, even if it may seem a bit, oh, much. I’m glad my ideology is still a little more flexible.

For now, anyway.

Another big rewrite today, another just-plain-write tomorrow. So how about some writing by someone else?

Did you know there are kosher kitchen gloves? Well, there are. Speaking of rigid.

You know Jay-Z has been living in the bubble too long when he launches his “better for artists” streaming service by parading a bunch of his millionaire friends up on that stage and having them get all windy about Art. Predictably, Tidal is tanking.

And so am I. Happy weekend, all. I plan to sleep.

Posted at 12:22 am in Popculch | 76 Comments

Ten years after.

I’m writing this on Sunday the 19th, which means you’re reading it on Monday the 20th. April 20. If ever a date deserved the #abandonallhope hashtag, it’s April 20. Very dire portents — Hitler’s birthday, anniversary of the Columbine shootings. Today, the 19th, was the Branch Davidian fire anniversary and the event it ultimately inspired — the Oklahoma City bombing. The Boston Marathon bombing was on April 15, and I cannot tell a lie: I was sure it was carried out by domestic terrorists seeking to make a point about taxes and freedom and the rest of it. Of course, they were domestic terrorists, but not that kind.

It’s a zero anniversary for the OKC bombing. Twenty years. At 20 years, you should understand pretty clearly what led to a tragedy like this, but I’m not sure we do. Anyway, I’m grateful that Hank Stuever posted this piece from his WashPost reporting days, about the father of one of the victims, who chose to forgive Tim McVeigh. JefftMM, you’re going to want to read this, if you haven’t already.

I will admit it: I find forgiveness difficult. I suspect most people do. As a child I picked scabs and I guess I never got over it, but let’s face it: Forgiveness is hard. That kind of forgiveness, to forgive a man who murdered your child? That has to be the hardest kind of all. And the funny thing is, I think I’m fairly good at empathy; it’s what makes people interesting to me. But to use that empathy to get to a place where I can let an offense go? Man, is that hard. So I recommend you read Hank’s piece about Bud Welch, and take its lessons to heart, to the best of your ability.

Here were some key phrases: Finding his way to a mercy he still doesn’t fully understand and “What’s the difference between ‘reconcile’ and ‘forgive’? Really, I don’t know,” he says and I finally realized it was an act of vengeance and rage if we killed either one of those guys. And that was why Julie and 167 other people were dead — because of vengeance and rage. It has to stop somewhere.. I think that’s the hard part. The surrender to something you don’t understand, especially when people like McVeigh haven’t even asked to be forgiven. You just have to do it.

That might be the final lesson of April 19, 1995, as it was lived in Oklahoma City and everywhere else in this country. Which brings us to the other thing I dug up today, also an old piece, from the Observer. It’s about the OKC memorial, which opened with a speed after the event we’ve heretofore not seen in this country. I think Philip Weiss gets to the problem with it:

There are so many symbols here as to obliterate the poetry of any one of them. There are so many faces on televisions inside the museum describing their pain to you that you feel wrung out like a rag. Worst of all, the memorial has nothing to say about the important historical issues that triggered Timothy McVeigh’s madness.

The problem is obvious. “The wishes of the Families/Survivors Liaison Subcommittee are to be given the greatest weight in the Memorial planning and development process,” said the memorial’s mission statement. This was a mistake. The victims’-rights movement has been an important one that has reformed the justice system. But here it has gone too far, and turned a memorial that should address issues of national disunity into a site for the bereaved. When Mayor Bloomberg said recently that he does not want a “cemetery” downtown, he may well have had in mind the field of 168 chairs, which resembles a graveyard and is inaccessible to the general public, roped off on the day that I and hundreds of others showed up by the busload. In 100 years, those chairs will seem meaningless.

Meantime, the memorial declines to show the curious where McVeigh parked his Ryder truck packed with fertilizer. And the National Park Service Rangers who work the site sound like funeral-home workers.

A memorial should emphasize the Who, of course. But if it says nothing about the Why, it fails. I guess Maya Lin’s Vietnam memorial in Washington D.C. began the contemporary emphasis on the Who; while local monuments might carry every name that perished, a national one never did (or rarely did, I’ll qualify; what I’m really saying here is, “I don’t know of one”) until Lin’s tremendously sad wall. Lin is a native of Ohio, but of Chinese ancestry, and the wall has a certain Asian minimalism, the way it starts small and swells to the crescendo of 1968 and then tapers off again. If it had been left alone it would have been perfect, but the usual squawkers started meddling with it, so now we have a row of flags, and the Three Ethnically Diverse Soldiers Looking at It, along with the Don’t Forget the Nurses statuary.

But it’s real legacy is the names. The 168 chairs is a direct result of the Vietnam wall, and I don’t see how you can deny that. Where else would you leave your bouquet of flowers? Who even mourns in cemeteries anymore? I think Weiss’ broader point, that memorials have to be more than just places for flowers and teddy bears, is very sound, though. Time has to pass, sometimes, for that to happen. When I was a Knight Wallace Fellow, we had a seminar one night by the man who chaired the 9/11 memorial committee in New York, and I asked him the too-soon question. He said that was probably true, but hey — New York City real estate can’t just sit around waiting.

Maya Lin did that one, too.

So. New subject.

Did anyone read the story in the New Yorker a few years ago about the guy who was running fake marathons? Or fake-running fake marathons? Whaddaya know, it too is online. A good story about deception and the way it can ensnare a person. Interesting that it happened to be marathon running; remember when Paul Ryan said he’d had a sub-three hour marathon, but “couldn’t remember” his exact time? A friend of mine, who’s run three Bostons, said, “You NEVER forget your time once you break three, or in fact, ever.” He’s right. There’s really nothing like a marathon to encourage obsession, is there? The months of training, the online training diaries, the months of boring your friends with your workouts (“Hey, come back here, I wasn’t finished!”), and finally, the race itself. It really lends itself to lying and deception. So the guy in the New Yorker story is one, and now there are two (that I know of), a woman who crossed the finish line in St. Louis to “win” the women’s race, only not really. It’s funny when you consider bragging rights is all you’re competing for in most of these races, and honestly, a winner’s story isn’t all that interesting. I’ve never heard one, I should say; who knows people who actually win marathons? Those are super-humans who are usually on the next flight out of town and en route to their next training run, culminating in the Olympics or something.

Lying about your marathon performance is like lying about yoga — what’s the point?

So now this weekend, that started out warm and sunny, is closing out gray and chilly. Such is April, but I’m still glad we got a gorgeous couple of good ones before the week begins. We were owed, dammit.

Happy week, all. Let’s get it going.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 25 Comments

Alice, again.

Every time I get irritable about terrible health quackery peddled on the internet, something happens to remind me that newspapers were really on the bleeding edge of this stuff. Behold:


I felt like sending away for some, just so I can see how those pads manage to pull all that gunk out of the soles of your feet. Toxins!

Another mixed grill of bloggage today, because my life is just that boring.

You know a city has arrived jumped the shark when the people who left a hundred years ago come back and everybody makes a big stupid fuss over it. In this case: Alice Cooper and John Varvatos. The former called the latter “pure Detroit,” and delivered this stunningly dumb line, although he gets a pass because he was the paid entertainment and it’s not like we expect pith or intelligence:

“This is great,” Cooper said before his performance, “because Varvatos is pure Detroit, and this is the beginning of building this downtown area the right way. The restaurants are all here. People are coming into these old buildings and they’re opening these really cool restaurants, which is going to draw people and they’re gonna start drawing in the boutiques and everything, and pretty soon it’s going to be a very hip city.”

Back to Arizona on the first flight, I expect.

Evildoers II: Change one letter, go back to war! Coming soon to a campaign near you!

Alan, today at breakfast: “In any other city, this would be on Page One.” In Detroit? Page three: It takes cops five tries to find a body in a house. The house was being looted the whole time. Now there’s a contrast with that gala boutique opening, ain’a?

Bridge had some good stuff this week, about a class-action lawsuit filed by juvenile prisoners incarcerated in the adult system. You can find the links on the right rail.

OK, I gotta get on the horn with some people. A great weekend to all, and to all some nice weather for a change.

Posted at 10:09 am in Current events, Popculch | 41 Comments

The circle of Stones.

Among Kate’s graduation presents is a ticket to the Rolling Stones show coming up in July here in Detroit, at the baseball stadium during the All-Star break. No, I won’t be going, too — I already saw the Stones, coincidentally in the first days after my own high-school graduation 40 damn years ago. I recently ran across a photo of the event on The Plain Dealer website. I’m stealing the photo with great guilt, because I couldn’t figure out how to link to just the picture, and I wanted the impact of seeing it right here on this page in all its gray monumentality:


Photo by Robert Dorksen, The Plain Dealer.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium, June 14, 1975. The “Tour of the Americas,” a fairly snooty name for a Stones show, but if you were facing a crowd like that night after night, you might think you were some sort of Lord McDonowrong, too. Anyway, I don’t remember much other than that the crowd was so huge and thirsty and toilet-flushy that there was zero water pressure in the fountains. This being before everyone went around with huge water bottles all the time, I was feeling woozy in the heat in no time at all. I went to the first aid area, took a seat and said, “If I don’t get some water, I’m going to need some first aid.” They gave it to me, took my blood pressure, had me sit a bit and drink a little more, then released me back to my seat. I don’t recall much of the show, except for “Fingerprint File,” sung by a tiny figure way off in the distance who might have been Mick Jagger, but in those pre-Jumbotron days, who’s to say?

But I left with what I came for — the ability to say I’d seen the Stones. If you’d told me that night that in 21 more years I’d give birth to a daughter, and that she too would see the Stones in the first days following her high-school graduation, I’d never, ever have believed you. But life has symmetry that way.

Man, look at that crowd. Insane.

Kirk’s wife once told me an incredible story about crowds at Cleveland rock shows. It has a terrifying setup, which I’ll try not to gloss over too much, but basically: She and a friend were kidnapped, more or less, one night in Cleveland. I forget whether they invited two strangers into their car or they forced their way in, but basically, they thought they were doing two guys with a broken-down car a favor and almost immediately realized they’d made a terrible mistake, as the guys either showed or said they had a gun and directed them on a long, terrifying route through some very dodgy neighborhoods. They didn’t know if they were going to be raped, murdered or both, and it went on for some time. Then, abruptly, they were both put out of the car and the two guys sped away. It was very upsetting, of course, and the police came, there was an investigation, but nothing came of it. Almost a year later, she was at a big show like this, in a crowd that was being herded like cattle toward a gate, with another crowd coming the opposite way for some reason, and in this sea of faces her eyes lit on one and it’s THE GUY. He looked right at her, and she knew he knew who she was, but before she could even open her mouth, the crowd swept them both in opposite directions and she never saw him again. Freaky.

I’ve also been neglecting my Saturday Morning Market posts, not because I’m not spending time there, but because WordPress’ mobile app will no longer let me post custom photo sizes, and the posts were getting all fubar with huge pictures, and I just didn’t care enough to do them after I got home. But I really want to show you this bike:


The guy who owns it is one of those dyed-in-the-wool, no-bullshit, back-to-the-landers-in-the-middle-of-Detroit folks. He and his wife sell all year, specializing in sprouts. They don’t own a car, but they own this bike-truck thing. I think he said it was custom-made for them, or maybe not — anyway, it’s European. The middle section is where the cargo goes. The kids — they have two — have their own trailer and they may even have more add-ons. I wonder how that thing is geared.

Finally, here’s a story to turn your head inside out, about a 78-year-old man on trial for having sex with his Alzheimer’s-afflicted wife in her nursing home. Just when you think you’ve heard every detail you didn’t want to think about, about pulling those nursing-home curtains around beds for privacy, etc., it gets into some interesting discussions about consent, about how we’ll live our last years, and of course, yet another area in which the baby boomers are changing things.

Another late night last night. Man, I gotta stop this stuff. Happy Thursday — the weekend draws nigh.

Posted at 7:45 am in Popculch | 71 Comments

Bitches be crazy.

Back in 2008 I was sitting with an acquaintance in a bar, one of those funny loudmouths who likes to troll you in casual conversation, and especially in bar conversation. He said he was voting for Obama over Hillary, because you couldn’t trust a woman with her finger on the button. Hormones, you know.

I laughed, even as I understood that there were people in the world who believed that, and weren’t joking when they said the same thing. (Although probably all were voting for Mike Huckabee instead.)

So imagine my non-surprise when I saw this thing, written by an author whose work I sorta respect, if “been meaning to read ‘Weekends at Bellevue’ ever since I heard a thing on ‘Fresh Air'” counts as respect, on that very topic. I guess Time magazine, like all media outlets, is just click-whoring these day, but for cryin’ out loud:

The long phase of perimenopause is marked by seismic spikes and troughs of estrogen levels, which can last for more than a decade in many women. But afterward, there is a hormonal ebbing that creates a moment of great possibility. As a psychiatrist, I will tell you the most interesting thing about menopause is what happens after. A woman emerging from the transition of perimenopause blossoms. It is a time for redefining and refining what it is she wants to accomplish in her third act. And it happens to be excellent timing for the job Clinton is likely to seek. Biologically speaking, postmenopausal women are ideal candidates for leadership. They are primed to handle stress well, and there is, of course, no more stressful job than the presidency.

In other words, bitches be crazy, but after they dry up, they’re wizened crones, natural-born healers and midwives and oh go fuck yourself.

I am not, repeat not, a woman who sees sexism lurking around every corner. I understand that social change takes time, and am buoyed by the different gender landscape I see forming in the young people of today. And even though this piece reaches a crescendo of a group hug about women’s beautiful differences and the necessity of treating our moods as nature’s “intelligent feedback system,” I just don’t need this crap right now. Totally.

Although it did bring back a flash memory I haven’t recalled in ages, about a former Washington bureau chief at the Columbus Dispatch who once told a reporter doing a “girls on the bus” feature in the ’80s about how he didn’t think women were suited for campaign-trail work, because Periods, and he always knew when one was in progress, because of his very sensitive nose.

It was a good thing that guy only came to town twice a year, is all I can say.

Speaking of moody bitches, there’s not much in Slate that gets me reading past the first take, but I did enjoy this piece on “haterbragging,” i.e., the practice of using one’s online critics as self-promotion, with novelist Jennifer Weiner as the queen of all haterbraggers, citing her epic online joust with Jonathan Franzen, who always comes off as a dour old poop while she runs giggling rings around him.

A final female-centric story to make it a hat trick: The return of sidesaddle riding. Charlotte comes from an old horsey family, maybe she knows better, but as for me, this is one style I was never, ever tempted to try. One thing I learned from this, though: If conventional, leg-on-either-side horsemanship is known as riding astride, sidesaddle is called “riding aside.” Two letters makes all the difference.

Finally, I remember a friend whose sister went to work for Yugo, the now-defunct car company, in the former Yugoslavia, which was at the time a guaranteed-employment economy. The day she first toured the plant, the leader was embarrassed to come upon a large bin of upholstery scraps with two or three loudly snoring workers catching a midday nap. I guess this story shows it could have been worse.

Happy Tuesday! Sorry for the late update today — I did Kate’s taxes last night. She’s getting a refund.

Posted at 10:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 42 Comments

It was her party.

A shame about Lesley Gore — how the hell did this woman, whom I associate with the early ’60s girl-singer moment of sheath dresses and sprayed bouffants — come to be only 11 years old than me? Either I’m aging faster or she was the Lorde of her day.

I guess she was the Lorde of her day.

Something I did not know: She was a lesbian. No wonder she sounded so confident when it was Judy’s turn to cry. (Check out those Mondrian shifts on her background singers! I wonder if those were original YSL, or knockoffs. Either way: Specto-freakin’-tacular.)

You know who else was a lesbian ’60s girl singer? Dusty Springfield, although that link will take you to a piece about her life with this obnoxious lead:

Call me a crazy old physiognomist, but my theory is that you can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin. Celebrity Eskimo Sandi Toksvig, Ellen DeGeneres, Jodie Foster, Clare Balding, Vita Sackville-West, God love them: there’s a touch of Desperate Dan in the jaw-bone area, no doubt the better to go bobbing for apples.

It is thus a tragedy that Dusty Springfield’s whole existence was blighted by her orientation, which explains ‘the silence and secrecy she extended over much of her life, and her self-loathing’. One glance at her chin should have revealed all — but the Sixties was not a fraction as liberated and swinging as people now assume.

Oh, blow me. Although the story isn’t terrible. I’ve been thinking of Dusty lately, ever since one of Kate’s homemade CD mixes revealed “Son of a Preacher Man.” I thought mainly she’d picked it up from “Pulp Fiction,” but she said it was for a friend who had decided this was the Best Song Ever, and made the entire car fall silent whenever it came on.

Well, it is a great song.

Some bloggage: My stories (and my partner Ted Roelofs’ stories) on what we’re calling “poverty in paradise,” i.e. the widening gap between the well-to-do and the left-behind, start running today in Bridge. Part one goes live around 6 a.m. EST, so if you’re reading this afterward, feel free to click on part one. Gracias.

I know I’m late to this, but I thought this piece on the online shaming that followed a single ill-advised tweet was very, very good.

Today I discovered it is, indeed, possible to get to an ISIS beheading video in three clicks. I don’t recommend it.

Have a great Tuesday, all y’all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Media, Popculch | 81 Comments

Your dirty uncle.

So, the Dirty Show. It’s been going on since we’ve lived here, but this was our first time going. John Waters was the draw, of course – we’ve both been fans for a while, Alan of his movies and me of his post-Hairspray persona as this cuddly post-smutmeister who keeps telling people what a smutmeister he is.

His one-man show is raw, but also funny, which makes the raw go down easy. “What ever happened to pubic hair? I went to court to show bush. Now no one has one.” He talks about his parents a lot. He talks about assholes (the real ones, the ones we all have). He talks about his projects; when I heard his Hairspray-sequel TV series, currently in development hell, is called “White Lipstick,” I knew he would get it all right. He manages to come across as a perv and your favorite uncle all at the same time.

Afterward, he did a signing that went on for hours and hours. Everybody got a picture. We didn’t participate, as we were busy touring the rest of show, trying to find the pearls among an awful lot of bad oysters. It’s not that I find the human body artless, it’s just that you have to do more with it than just show me a big red dick. And dicks were scarce compared to the seemingly endless parade of tits ‘n’ vulvas. The sideshows were more interesting, including a touring burlesque show featuring a dwarf stripper and a man whose whole act was a hymn to the hot dog. There was also one of those gymnasts who performs aloft suspended and entwined in a long length of cloth, whatever they’re called. At first I thought she was nude, but after she came down I saw she was wearing a flesh-colored bodysuit with the anatomy spray painted on, and quite well.

Really, the only thing left to the imagination was why so many women into baroque lingerie, especially corsetry, are overweight.

I only saw one piece I could take home, a sketch that looked like a bunch of birds of paradise flowers but turned out to be, yes, more vulvas. But it was clever. And alas, it had a red “sold” sticker on it.

The rest of the weekend was half fun, half duty — a wedding, plus FAFSA and related forms. The wedding was at the National Shrine of the Little Flower, better known as Father Coughlin’s old church. Which is spectacular. Fr. Coughlin was the original Rush Limbaugh, and had quite the career until the diocese reined him in. The church has a theater-in-the-round thing going on; the first guests weren’t sure where to sit, but we all figured it out. The bride was beautiful, the groom flubbed some hand-holding instructions and we all went out to face the cold front howling in. Current temperature: 2 below, and the night has only begun.

Let’s hope we get a little relief by the end of the week, but I’m not hopeful.

Posted at 12:30 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments

Fifty shades.

The other day I fell into a rabbit hole. It’s easy to do online. You follow one link, then another, then another and soon you’re looking at something like this, amusingly titled “Why Kindles Can Wreck Your Marriage”:

Look, I think sharing “sexy” thoughts with one’s husband, and flirting, and playing together is all pretty great. I am not against sexual play or sexual fun at all. But when we use something outside of marriage to get aroused, we’re transferring our sexual energy from our spouse. And if you then have sex with your spouse after getting aroused some other way, it becomes increasingly difficult to “be present” when you make love. Your mind starts to focus on what you were reading, not on your husband. And that’s not really making love.

This is an argument, I should clarify, against reading romance novels.

I’ve been around certain extremely Christian Christians enough to understand this is their definition of marriage: Two pythons tying themselves into knots, all the while proclaiming the unique strength of their bond, which was after all given by GOD HIMSELF. And in many cases I don’t even think it’s so awful; I think if people paid less attention to their children and more to their marriages, the children would take care of themselves. But at the same time, it makes me understand why they have higher divorce rates than the rest of us, too. A hug can feel like smothering if it goes on too long. And face it, does anyone want to live in a world where you can’t imagine Clive Owen with his pants off from time to time?

What prompted all this is “Fifty Shades of Gray,” a book I haven’t read and a movie I won’t see, at least until it comes around on Netflix and I’m sick with the flu or something. But judging from some of the social-media chatter I’ve seen lately, it appears to have unhinged a segment of the religious among us, who cannot be convinced that the vast majority of BDSM relationships are a) consensual; and b) no big deal. Personally? I don’t want to be spanked as a prelude to sex, but I understand others do, and I don’t think it qualifies as mental illness.

One of those things you inevitably read in any profile of a sex worker who specializes in this stuff is some version of: “Some of my most loyal clients are very powerful men.” It’s like: Duh. You spend all day influencing global exchange rates or lowering the tax bills of multinational corporations or bringing 747s in for a safe landing? Maybe you welcome a safe space where you can lay down that burden, have your hands cuffed to a bed frame and hear some lady in leather tell you what a bad, bad boy you’ve been.

As for women, well, we run the whole damn world, at least the part that involved getting dinner on the table and kids off to school and cookies made for a church bake sale. You don’t have to have aced Psych 101 to see why all those ladies made a bestseller out of a terribly written book that featured a woman who is blindfolded and restrained, so that her lover can fiddle with her: Oh, you mean I don’t have to run this show? Kind, kind sir!

The rougher stuff is a different breed of cat, but hey — as long as everyone’s clear on the boundaries and knows the safe word? Who cares.

Meanwhile, David Edelstein says the movie’s not so bad. And what a surprise:

The movie’s biggest surprise is its powerful affirmation of family values. It’s Jane Eyre with ropes. That this vanilla bean has been denounced by religious decency brigades while female churchgoers pleasure themselves over advance tickets is further proof of America’s insane cultural bifurcation — or trifurcation, if you count the worriers who predict that women’s shelters will have to add more beds to accommodate battered copycats. Are there really people who still think that watching a man tie up a woman and both of them get off is the gateway to hell?

Yeah, that sounds about right. This is Hollywood, after all. Meanwhile, I add this phenomenon to the list of Things I Am Not, Nor Ever Will Be, Into, which includes the “Sex and the City” movies, Uggs and the novels of Nicholas Sparks.

Some bloggage? OK:

This profile of young Scott Walker, college dropout, is essential reading for those who want to know more about him. As Hank said on Facebook, there’s a version of this guy on every college campus.

As we’re closing in on V-Day and I mentioned it above, this Esther Perel TED talk on maintaining desire in a long-term relationship is pretty damn smart, and a phenom all its own. Bonus: If you watch it, you pretty much have the gist of her book.

Back to edits. Have a great Thursday.

Posted at 8:51 am in Movies, Popculch | 36 Comments

Always look on the bright side.

Quite an evocative photo from my former workplace, which I stole from a friend’s Facebook page. Behold:


Note: That is not the actual winner of the Positive Attitude Award. That is my friend Emma, who used to work there but doesn’t any longer. I’m told the actual winner of the Positive Attitude Award left the company before the year of primo parking was up, and got a better job. Outstanding.

There are two kinds of bosses in the world, I think: Those who think awards like this are a totally great idea and a swell motivator of the workforce, and all the rest. We could fill a shelf of books with stories of both, but mainly the first kind. I’m frankly amazed why so few sense the weird, Soviet vibe of such a designation, but Fort Wayne Newspapers always had a rich vein of that stuff running through it. So did Knight-Ridder, may it rest in pieces, which once rolled out a chain-wide initiative aimed at customer satisfaction. “We’re obsessed with it!” an editor wrote, suggesting he wasn’t entirely clear on the concept of obsession.

Anyway, it was all for naught. Budget cuts, more budget cuts, still more budget cuts, a sale, even more budget cuts and finally – the Positive Attitude Award. This is how American capitalism ends, folks.

Not that I am bitter!

So, I started a new book this weekend, an impulse buy on the Kindle: “400 Things Cops Know.” I remember picking up a similar book from a free pile years ago, with a similar title, and emerging from a blinking fog hours later. You can dive in and not surface, or just nibble at random, and it taught me a new bit of jargon: You know what you call a perp’s butt crack and/or rectum? A “prison wallet.” I’m sorry, it just makes me giggle.

Other things I learned today: The passing of Cat Fancy magazine tracks with the watershed in feline culture in recent years, from purebred fluffy Persians to internet cat culture of LOLcats and Caturday and Grumpy Cat and my favorite, Henri, le chat noir.

How was all y’all’s weekend? Bill Bonds died here, and as I’ve always said, the mourning over long-running TV personalities is not yours to indulge in when you’re a transplant to a city. I’m sure I already missed the passings of the various TV personalities of my youth. Luci of Luci’s Toyshop, Flippo the Clown, Bob Braun – all gone to the great beyond. But Bonds was special, or so they say. An early version of the Freep mentioned that his career was “derailed” by alcohol, true enough but a hell of a load to put in the first sentence of a man’s obit. He was on TV here for 30 years; surely there was more to him than a dapper drunk.

Hope everyone’s week will be stellar.

Posted at 8:20 pm in Media, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 66 Comments

You just don’t hear Li’l Kim much these days.

I’ve been absent a couple of days, yes. (Insert the usual excuses.) And I would have posted something last night, but I went out on a rare Tuesday night to see Doggy Style, which I guess you’d call a gay bar popup in an otherwise straight bar. It’s very informal; sometime after 9:15 you look around, and everyone’s a handsome man. The bar TV system switches to a mix of campy old videos, including a montage of Joan Collins-Linda Evans catfights from “Dynasty,” Vanity 6, Li’l Kim, the Scissors Sisters and miscellaneous Euro-popsters from the ’80s with Flock of Seagulls hairdos.

But it was a warm place on a cold night, so there it is. And I worked at home all day, so it was nice to get out.

Meanwhile, thanks to Roy, who for some reason tracks right-wing bloggers, for finding this National Review appreciation of Glen Larson, recently deceased creator of a lot of bad ’70s/’80s television, including “Quincy, ME.” (The ME stood for medical examiner, as we all know from watching CSI, right?)

The writer singles out “Next Stop Nowhere,” a landmark Quincy investigation into the dangers of punk rock. It’s amusing because I know someone whose parents dumped his punk records (“including a few 7-inches that are worth something now”) into the trash compactor after viewing this alarming episode. Today, it looks as ludicrous as it would have to most people who weren’t your parents back then. But the National Review, god bless ’em, doubles down:

Made long after social causes of the week and Klugman’s penchant for soppy lecturing had begun to capsize the series, the fabled punk rock episode serves as an ironic touchstone for aging hipsters keen to remember when they were all scary and hilarious. On a fresh viewing, however, “Next Stop Nowhere” paints a fully true picture of punk rockers as they really were: deceitful social predators who wouldn’t think twice about framing you for murder and forcing you into a codeine overdose.

Forced into a codeine overdose! So that’s what really killed Sid and Nancy.

What kind of echo chamber do people live in to write this stuff?

Two inches of snow allegedly arriving today. I know that’s nothing to you guys in Buffalo, but here? It’s 18 degrees and I’m not looking forward to the solstice, still a month away.

A good day to all.

On edit: I can’t let today pass without noting it’s the 10-year anniversary of this hilarious event:

Alan had just accepted his job here, and we were preparing to move. We laughed maniacally over this event, and hoped our new home would always be this exciting. It hasn’t let us down yet. Detroit! This is why I love you! You’re never, ever boring.

Posted at 8:58 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 64 Comments