Mother’s Day. Whatever.

It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m coasting into the homestretch. I had a good one, which consisted of Kate making me breakfast — coffeecake and fruit salad — and the three of us sharing a bottle of champagne. She went off to band practice, I read for a couple hours, finished the laundry and that was that.

This to me is how a holiday like this should be observed. Apparently I am wrong.

My social-media feeds are clogged with what I think of as performative Facebooking (or Tweeting, Instagramming or whatever). Performative Facebooking is when one uses a social-media platform to produce a picture of one’s life that underlines how cool one is, how accomplished, how lovely/handsome one’s spouse and family is, how much fun you have, every day, all the time. Your Halloween costumes are the most creative, your holiday decorating the most merry, and you have nothing but a good time, all day every day. Time to work out! Time to watch a soccer game! Sunday Funday! And so on.

Behind that wave comes the won’t-somebody-think-of-the-less-fortunate posters. Before you post that picture of you and your children, think of the people who struggle with infertility. Or whose mothers are gone. Or who are estranged. Or whatever.

And then it’s over, and we all wait for Memorial Day. Thank you for your service. Honoring the dead who gave their lives so that we might be free. And so on.

How was everyone’s weekend? I worked for about half of it, which wasn’t so bad, as it was mainly outside, plus writing, which I don’t mind. Watched “Chernobyl,” the new HBO miniseries, which was horrifying. Saw my baby girl before she heads out on tour for a week with her band and new college degree. And that’s about it.

And I don’t think I have much too blog. Here’s something I wrote Friday, after going to a birthday party for the IRS. It was more interesting than I thought it would be.

I’m sure the president did something horrifying over the weekend, but I tried to stay away from the news, for the most part. Oh, wait, except for this one:

President Trump has effectively taken charge of the nation’s premier Fourth of July celebration in Washington, moving the gargantuan fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River and making tentative plans to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, according to top administration officials.

The president’s starring role has the potential to turn what has long been a nonpartisan celebration of the nation’s founding into another version of a Trump campaign rally. Officials said it is unclear how much the changes may cost, but the plans have already raised alarms among city officials and some lawmakers about the potential impact of such major alterations to a time-honored and well-organized summer tradition.

I think we need to emigrate. All of us.

In the meantime, enjoy the week ahead.

Posted at 8:56 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 60 Comments
 

Circles.

One of the baby gifts we received when Kate was born was a pair of infant-size slippers, kind of like those puffy down-filled ones L.L. Bean sells. She was born in the fall and didn’t walk until the following summer, and I wasn’t much for shoes in those early months, but they were cute and their oversized puffiness looked silly on her wee feet, so we put them on her sometimes on chilly days.

Also, they were pink.

So in those early months, during those long stretches where you basically just sit around holding your baby, we would sometimes sing The Big Pink Shoe song to her, which as I recall, was to the tune of “Tequila” and owed a lot to Peewee Herman. I’m doing my big pink shoe dance / I’m wearing my big pink shoes / My shoes are biiiiig and pink, yeah / And I got my big pink shoes on, yeah!

(Our skill with lyrics was also seen in the Poopy Diaper song, which was mine alone.)

Anyway, in recent years I keep noticing patterns as Kate ticks off her milestones. For instance: I went to see the Rolling Stones in Cleveland Stadium the summer after my high-school graduation, and she went to see the Rolling Stones in Comerica Park the summer after her high-school graduation, made all the more remarkable by the fact we graduated exactly 40 years apart.

Anyway, this happened on Friday. Note the shoes. (Doc Martens.)

I guess the next step in these closing-circle patterns is for me to die or something, but I hope to hold that off for a while.

It was a nice ceremony. The university, like many, divides the transition into two parts — a smaller one for the school or college or major (where you get to hear your name read aloud), followed by a larger one for the whole class (where you don’t). Friday was for the School of Music, Theater and Dance, so it featured music and dance, and the performances were very theatrical – one was a piece for two electric bassoons, and it was extremely so. Christine Lahti was the main speaker, and she worked blue, in that she described a job she was offered where “all I had to do was fuck the two directors,” followed by another story of being so depressed by it that she pulled herself out by vowing to “prove every one of those motherfuckers wrong.” Some of the parents seemed a little taken aback, but their graduates were probably the ones who studied violin, which doesn’t include swearing, except in practice that doesn’t go well, and maybe not even then.

The ceremony was so nice that we skipped the Big House the next day, allowing Kate to keep her four-year streak of never setting foot in the country’s largest football stadium intact. Actually, I think she did end up going, so as to celebrate with her housemates were were graduating in other majors. But we had complications, and didn’t. That was fine. It was overcast and cold.

On Saturday, I watched the Kentucky Derby. It was a great race, made more so by Maximum Security’s thrilling stretch run, where after leading from the start, he was seriously challenged and then found another gear, pulling away to win by one and half lengths. That sort of heart isn’t in every horse, especially on a sloppy track. To see his rider giving his post-race horseback interview in clean silks (everyone who ran behind him was streaked with mud) was remarkable.

And we all know what happened next. And I suppose that by now we all know this happened after that:

It was a disappointment, for sure, and I’m not at all satisfied that the best horse won, but in my humility, I trust that race stewards and those who enforce the rules know what they’re doing. There were 19 horses in that race, a huge field. I had no idea it had anything to do with political correctness. But what do I know? Less than the race steward-in-chief, evidently.

I hate what this country has become. After the 2016 election, a philosophical friend of mine said he was choosing not to be (too) alarmed. The United States, he said, was like an aircraft carrier, which needs miles of ocean to execute a change in direction, and there were so many things that would be even harder to change — the federal bureaucracy, for one. Congress would play its part as a check and balance. We’ll look back on this era and wince, but little real damage would be done.

It helped a little. I thought he might be right. I don’t think that anymore. I think we’re in very big trouble.

But this is a joyful weekend, the sun is shining, and I plan to enjoy what’s left of it. Happy week ahead, all.

Posted at 11:53 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 126 Comments
 

Out and about.

Thursday night I was invited to sit on a panel at a local bar/restaurant, an event sponsored by the local public-radio station, ostensibly to ask the grassroots what they were thinking about ahead of the Mackinac Policy Conference next month. I know the other panelists and the radio people, so it was a good time. Here we were; pic by my Deadline Detroit editor, who attended:

With any public radio-summoned audience, I always expect a higher level of discussion than you’d get from, say, mall walkers, but you still get the full spectrum of humanity, if you know what I mean. The No. 1 issue we discussed was road funding; Michigan’s have been neglected for years, and are at a crisis stage. This means a big tax to raise the $2 billion a year they will require for the foreseeable future, and the governor has proposed a 45-cent-per-gallon levy. That’s a hard swallow even for people who believe in it, and for Republicans? Of course it’s a non-starter in the legislature. We took a show-of-hands poll and found most in favor, with a few opposed.

“The governor has said that if you oppose this, you need to state what your solution would be, so would anyone like to offer one?” I asked, calling on one of the raised hands.

“The roads aren’t that bad,” he said, to guffaws from the room. Then he explained that the problem was people not calling the state highway authorities when they came across a bad patch, and anyway, he mostly drives on I-696, recently resurfaced, so he doesn’t see a need to pay so much for all the other roads awaiting action.

And if that isn’t the truest distillation of a certain kind of voter, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, and in line with the last thread’s comments, I was approached afterward by a woman with hollowed-out, imploring eyes. She kinda looked like Andrea Riseborough in this role (“Nancy,” in a film of the same name, weirdly enough), only with more hollowing and more imploring:

Her voice was low, but I picked out “greatest threat to health in our lifetimes” and a few other phrases. Thankfully, she just wanted a few seconds of time; the handout she pressed into mine would explain.

It was all about the radiation dangers of 5G internet.

So y’know, this stuff is going around. Put a pin in that, and then consider this:

We’re hearing a lot about civility these days, here and in Michigan, but my line is drawn: If this is the sort of rhetoric you support and cheer, I’m not going to be civil to you. And there are a lot of people who do, so where are we?

I fear there will have to be a 9/11-scale event to shake all this bullshit out of our skulls. I also fear it’s way too late for that. Although some people keep trying, like this lady; I encourage you to go over to Twitter and read the whole thread:

Oh, well. At least the NRA is suffering some public embarrassment. It’s the little things.

And now it’s a chilly but sunny day. I was going to lift some weights but instead I think I’m gonna put Wendy in the car and head over to Belle Isle for a walk along the river. Hope all have a good week ahead.

Posted at 12:00 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 44 Comments
 

Rendering unto Caesar.

I’ve been following the talk in the comments about the price of car insurance wherever everybody is. People? In the words of Jame Gumb, you don’t know what pain is. Michigan has the highest-priced auto insurance in the nation, and Detroit has the highest in Michigan. We’re not in Detroit proper, but we are in the same county, and man, do we pay.

My no-collision-coverage premium on the old-ass Volvo is double what an entire year’s worth of coverage was on my brand-new VW back in Indiana. Most younger people around here pay for their coverage monthly, because a couple thousand in a six-month premium is too much for a lot of people to handle. A monthly insurance premium that costs more than a car payment is very common around here; in fact, I think I just read about a guy who surrendered his lease on a new Cadillac (payment: $540/month) because his premium was something like $560 a month — FOR INSURANCE — and he couldn’t swing it anymore.

Our premiums are due in August and March, and I DREAD August and March. Now that Kate has a car, it’s…about $2,500 extra in those months.

And Alan wonders why I want to give up my car entirely.

Oh, well. Another weekend in the books. I just paid our taxes, and I’m about to make a cherry clafoutis for the “Game of Thrones” watch party we’re attending tonight. There was actually quite a bit of discussion about how the menu should be structured — medieval-ish, with a touch of dragon fire? At one point I was committed to individual savory hand pies, because it seemed very Kingsroad Inn and Hot Pie, but finally the host decided he’d smoke a pork shoulder, so that’s the plan. I’ve never seen a pig on “Game of Thrones,” but the cruel boys at the Wall called Samwell Tarly a pig when he arrived at Castle Black, so…

Wait, you’re not into it? Don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s fine. You don’t have to be in on the fun. I don’t even think this is the greatest TV show of all time, but it does have actual dragons, and I’m totally there for that. Also, it is SUCH an improvement on the books, it’s in the ‘Godfather’ Hall of Fame for Adaptations That Transcend Their Source Material, and that’s a plus. Five or six more books I won’t have to read.

I’m really — as in really, really, really — hoping next week is an improvement on the last, which sucked. It was a stung-by-gnats thing, mainly, just a thousand things piling up and conspiring to make me crazy and late and under-rested. All this is balanced by the fact we have some milestones coming up soon, too, and happy ones. Kate graduates from Michigan in just about two weeks, huzzah. We have two separate ceremonies to attend, one for her school (she’s up for an award) and the one for the whole university, in the Big House the following day. I was hoping they’d get Michelle Obama for a speaker, but it’s the governor, and I guess I’m fine with that. I hope her speech is a good one.

Friday was the open house for the senior theses, and we went to that. Kate’s thesis project was an album-length recording of her new band, recorded, mixed and mastered by her. (Here’s their Bandcamp page, with only two tracks on it, both recorded by someone else.) Her boyfriend had a show, too, featuring a dancer with sensors stuck all over her body. The sensors were tracked by cameras that triggered music, so she was essentially dancing to music her body was composing in real time. That was pretty cool, even though one of the sensors flew off in the final frenzied minutes of the performance, and landed at my feet. It was the one on her forehead; when we first saw her, Alan whispered, “What a weird piercing.”

So. On to the clafoutis. In the meantime?

“Fox brain” is a thing, and it has victims. I have many friends whose parents went from nice moderates to angry, fearful racists in a matter of months. I’m sure you do, too.

Ivanka! Everybody’s favorite Trump, discussed here. This is what a person with cotton where their brains should be does:

When she ran her multimillion-dollar lifestyle brand, she worked relentlessly at “cultivating authenticity,” as she put it. She dreamed up a world full of serendipitous moments and marvelous coincidences, with the pastel-hued bags and shoes to match. Ivanka told W magazine, at age 22, “There are very few things we can control in life, but how we project ourselves is one of them.” That discipline has meant, as her brother Don Jr. told me, that “you can put Ivanka in virtually any environment and she’ll thrive.” In the White House, she has projected herself as a cosmopolitan peacemaker, dedicating her efforts largely to issues such as women’s economic empowerment, workforce development, and the fight against human trafficking. She is not a conservative, she enjoys telling people. She is a “pragmatist.”

Has anyone told her that cultivating authenticity is an oxymoron? Guess not.

Finally, I’m finding Bernie tiresome in the extreme. That is all. Talk soon.

Posted at 5:41 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 85 Comments
 

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
 

An earlier Lent.

Well, at least I know now why I was feeling so listless on Sunday. I woke up a few hours later with a mild fever, and spent the next 24 hours feeling thisclose to barfing and swinging between that little fever and waking up in a sweaty tangle of sheets.

I’m better today, but still semi-queasy. It’s paçzki day in Detroit, and I haven’t felt even a whiff of a craving.

Paçzki are, of course, the jelly donuts that Polish folks around here — and everybody else, for that matter — eat on Shrove Tuesday. And I don’t care how many worthless stories are written about them every year, they’re fucking jelly donuts, and you can buy them at Dunkin’ all year long. So I’ll start a Lenten deprivation a little early.

I’ll be back at work tomorrow. I was “at work” Monday and today, but in a diminished fashion. But here I am, getting ready to watch the State of the City address, even though I’d rather watch almost anything else.

(Watching it now. Yep, anything else. No offense to the mayor, it’s just that these things are all the same.)

So, summing up my complaints in a bumper sticker? It just hasn’t been my year. Fortunately, it’s still young. And as my husband points out, it’s not like I have cancer or nothin’. All true.

Man, though, that Michael Jackson documentary? Chilling. Awful. Even worse is the braying from the hashtag-innocent crowd, who are simply rabid. And by rabid, I mean “diseased and crazed.” “There’s no evidence!” they cry. As though direct testimony, voluminous photos, faxes and other ephemera and classic behavior patterns somehow aren’t evidence. I think the squicky feeling I got watching it was not just my brewing stomach bug, but the feeling of…complicity, somehow. How easily the world swallowed that bullshit about the real-life Peter Pan who simply enjoyed the company of children, because he never had a proper childhood himself. Seeing shot after shot of MJ running from a hotel to a limousine, screaming fans an arm’s length away, while a little kid runs a few feet ahead of him — it was so familiar. How often did we see that in the ’80s and ’90s?

Vile.

The governor unveiled her budget proposal today, too. This happens every year. It’s usually big news when a new gov is doing it for the first time, because there are always tricks up the ol’ sleeve. Without going into the details, which aren’t all that interesting to anyone who doesn’t live there, be advised there’s a big per-gallon gas tax on the table, because our roads are in Third World condition and getting worse. There’s simply no way to finance what it would take to get them to fair — fair! — condition without more revenue. You can already see how the rest of this debate is going to go: Find the waste! No new taxes! As though $2.2 billion dollars, per year, is just sitting around, going to waste. For professional reasons, I can’t say much more, but still: Please.

For once, though, prominent conservatives are saying, essentially, we gotta do it. And if you think there’s so much waste in the system, point it out. I doubt the hashtag warriors will get far this year. But they’ll make her pay in four years. More will be revealed.

So, any bloggage? Is there anything new on the Trump Outrage beat? Well, it’s Tuesday. What do you think?

Time to go see how Ray Donovan’s going to get out of his latest fix. I’m enjoying Showtime for as long as I have it – I think it’ll expire with Kate’s graduation – and it beats Jacko’s abuse narrative.

Carry on, all. It’s Wednesday.

Posted at 8:02 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 83 Comments
 

Blustery day, eh?

I can feel the wind coming in gusts that seem to have lost at least some of their earlier fury, but we’re by no means done with this bluster yet. And with a computer that no longer has a functional battery, it seems I better get moving on this thing unless I want to be

::zzt. blink::

Kidding. We’re now at 20K without power in southeast Michigan, and we could easily be the next. Alan already pushed a limb off a line in the back yard, and the big oak back there had a bad year. For now? Soldier on!

I’m looking forward to the week, the last of the month and — I devoutly hope — a fairly quiet one. I spent much of last week house/dogsitting for vacationing friends, and I’m happy to be back in my own bed, where there are only three pillows — one for the two heads that lay there, and one for me to hug, because I’m a pillow-hugger and have been for years.

By contrast, the bed in my friend’s house — king-sized, excellent firm mattress and otherwise a very nice place to sleep — has 10 pillows. Ten! I counted them. There’s a base layer of three, three more on top of that, another three, and then a smaller decorative one that sits in front of the whole crew, like a drum major.

“I’m the pillow queen,” my friend said when I mentioned this. We were in the company of other affluent women of the same demographic, and I learned that over-pillowing is definitely a Thing among them. I knew it was with hotels; whenever we stay in one, Alan bats them away like a peevish bear, growling too many fuckin’ pillows. I select my hugger from the pile on the floor, and we go to bed.

I wonder if over-pillowing is a way to build a bulwark against your spouse, even in a loving relationship. Even in a big bed, some people will always claim your part of it, but it’s way harder to do when there’s a dyke of pillows keeping you in your lane, so to speak.

I really don’t know. But three suits our queen-size just fine.

And with that, I need to go start a pot of chili. Back in a minute.

I’m back! Yes, that was fast. I’ve found that chili goes better in our house if I handle the initial meat-browning, onion-chopping, can-opening assembly chores, etc., and then leave the seasoning to Alan, who, like many men, has complicated opinions on various chili seasonings that I do not share.

So, anyway. Been thinking about the Robert Kraft case this weekend, and what I said earlier about trafficking stories. If the facts the police have presented so far hold up, this is about as clear-cut a case as you could find — young women from another country compelled to sexually service an endless line of men. I was struck by the detail that did them in: A health inspector noted suitcases and bedding, an unusual amount of food for a workplace that its employees would leave behind at the end of the day.

It so happens that was one thing that a trafficking expert — a real trafficking expert, not the self-elevated ones you hear so much from these days — said should be a tipoff when I wrote about this subject a while back. She mentioned it in the context of nail salons, not storefront rub parlors, but one thing you learn when you start investigating human trafficking is this: For many people, even advocates, all they want to talk about is sex trafficking, mainly because that’s what the media, especially the electronic media, talks about. But labor trafficking is very real, too. It’s much harder to illustrate during a sweeps-month “investigation.” You can’t use shadowy silhouettes of a young woman leaning into a car, or perhaps weeping into her hands while rolls of money pile up on the bed behind her.

That’s one reason I regard so much of this issue with suspicion. So little data, so much tape over mouths. Cheesy titillation rubs me the wrong way.

Human trafficking has only been part of UCR data — that’s Uniform Crime Reporting, for your civilians — since 2013. We are still groping in the dark toward a fuller understanding of it.

As for why a billionaire would patronize a storefront rub parlor in Florida, when he could presumably order up a Miss America runner-up in a thong to come directly to his hotel suite? You’d have to ask him. But it’s been my experience that the richer a man is, the more likely he is to be cheap in truly cringeworthy ways:

In the case of the Orchids of Asia parlor in Jupiter, where services were listed for $59 for half an hour or $79 for an hour, an arrest affidavit for the women managing the spa detailed a similar investigative approach. Police watched men going into the spa for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.

OK, a little bloggage:

My friends had a copy of Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming,” in the house, and I read a little of it. It was pretty great and amazingly well-written. No ghost is credited, and Obama does acknowledge collaborators, so I can’t say how much of it is her own prose style. But it’s a much more pleasant read than I expected. Neil Steinberg agrees:

“Becoming” is perfect for our perilous national moment, reminding us of when our country had a thoughtful, decent man as president. Donald Trump emerges like a monster in a horror movie, glimpsed first in flashes far off, then rearing up behind us. Obama casts him as the latest in a line of bullies she’s battled.

“Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people,” she writes.

Have you ever heard it put so well?

Speaking of reading books, this was a sobering read. I think I’m going to take a certain amount of it to heart. I still love Twitter, like/loathe aspects of Facebook and enjoy being up on things, but I really need to get a handle on my book reading again. It starts with breaking up with one’s phone, or at least renegotiating the terms of the relationship.

We’re having wind downstate, but upstate — as in, northern Michigan and the UP — they’re having a goddamn blizzard. The photos piling up in my social media feeds are one reason I can’t quite quit Twitter just yet.

Have a good week, all.

Posted at 5:29 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 86 Comments
 

Returned.

Well, we’re back. We’ve been back since Monday night, but as so often happens when you take time off, work falls on your head the minute you walk back through the door.

Also, laundry. Also, snow and ice and more snow.

So now there’s a moment, and here I am. Back! We went here:

That’s an architectural detail outside the Dakota, John Lennon’s old apartment building on Central Park West, in New York. This was a spur-of-the-moment trip, which we threw together at the last minute and lucked into, with a good Airbnb, a decent flight and four days away from Detroit. It was cold, but not as cold as here. We wandered here and there, shopped a little, and did the two NYC museums I’d somehow not seen — MoMA and the Whitney. We went to this show at the Whitney:

The permanent collection was more impressive. With Warhol, you see one, you’ve seen …most of them, anyway.

The true revelation of the trip came Friday night, when we went to the cabaret space at the Public Theater to see Salty Brine, a performer whose Living Record Collection is a series of shows that mash together contemporary albums with other stories. We saw “And If You Listen Very Hard,” a combination of personal stories, Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and “Led Zeppelin IV.”

It was truly one of the most original, entertaining, funny, poignant and moving nights at the theater I’ve had in years, probably because it was so unexpected. Alan found the listing in Time Out, the seats were dirt cheap ($20), and we got the last ones. Write down the name; you don’t want to miss it if you can.

Otherwise, it was just walking and the subway and eating and all that. It’s been a while since I’ve been to New York; I should go more often.

And now we’re back, with the snow and ice and misery of mid-to-late winter. Good to keep up with all your stories via the comments.

As I continue to cough. Yes. It’s fully tuberculosis now, I figure. So I’m heading to bed.

Here’s a column I wrote. Read it. Traffic is important.

I’ll try to be back Friday. Thanks for holding the place up in my absence.

Posted at 9:49 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments
 

Slow down, short month.

Oy, what a week. Can February be a little less ridiculous, please? I hope so, anyway. An extraordinarily busy week ended it all, complicated by the cold.

How did it go? The Henry Ford story went viral and provoked a boneheaded response by the city administration, which culminated in a story in the New York Times, but they included a link back to Deadline Detroit, so hey — win-win.

A former owner of one of Detroit’s two most-beloved coney islands died, so that was a quick-turn obit. Then the deep, deep cold settled in for a two-day stay, and my friend Dustin got CO poisoning from the furnace in his apartment. So we had an emergency houseguest Thursday night. (That’s why no blog Friday.) And on Friday night I helped host a fundraiser with about 200 people, for a 501(c)3 I’m involved with. It was a big success, but with this cold — my cold, not the free-floating cold, although it was pretty nippy that night, too — still hanging around, I was croaking like …something that croaks by Saturday morning, which required a bloody-mary debrief on how the night went.

We stayed in Saturday night. For which I am grateful.

The fundraiser was at a local yacht club. Here’s the last picture I took from the back deck before the guests arrived. You get a sense of the temperature, I expect:

But now it is Sunday, and a relatively normal week lies ahead, which will end with a long-weekend getaway for the Derringers, sorely needed. I hope the news behaves itself.

Random notes: Watched “BlackkKlansman” Saturday night, and hated it. Hated hated HATED it. It was vintage Spike Lee: Heavy-handed, too long, scenes that go on and on and on, the whole nine. Did it have its pleasures? Sure: Denzel’s son John David Washington is fine, and Adam Driver is always worth your time. One of the too-long scenes was a dance montage to Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose’s “Too Late to Turn Back Now,” so at least the music was good. But by the time the fourth or fifth white racist said something like, “One of these days we’ll elect a president who thinks like we do” or “America needs to be great again,” I’d had enough. I turned it off with 15 minutes left. It still took two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

I can’t tell whether Spike Lee beats his audience with a Message Stick because he doesn’t trust us to get it, or if he just hates us. I’m going with the latter.

Is there a surge in human trafficking at the Super Bowl, as we hear over and over and over at this time of year? In a word? No.

As for Ralph Northam, I have nothing to say. I checked Twitter during a bathroom break Friday night, when the story was breaking, and thought: I have no more room in my brain, sorry. But for now? I’ll just say that Pam Northam now joins the unhappy ranks of Wives Who Stand in the Background While Their Husbands Self-Immolate.

Also, medical schools have yearbooks? Why?

OK, then. The week awaits, but before that, the Super Bowl. Go Rams.

Posted at 5:57 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments