Face-toucher.

You know, once you try to stop touching your face, you really notice how much you touch your face.

And what’s more, it’s nearly impossible to stop. I mean, does leaning on your chin while you try to come up with a fresher turn of phrase count? Of course it does. My nose itches from time to time; am I not supposed to scratch it? Everyone knows nose itches left unscratched don’t go away. (Anyone who has tried to get through the savasana portion of a yoga class knows this.) I wear glasses and occasionally — which is to say constantly — readjust them. In the process, I touch my face. This can’t be avoided.

Also, it’s still chilly here, and I get a runny nose at the weirdest times. Not a cold, just a little clear drip when the temperature is uncomfortable, or even when I’m sweating. Does a sleeve dragged across one’s nose count?

This is going to be a long slog for some of us, unless we want to go around with our hands cuffed behind us.

For those who wondered: Yes, Shadow Show, Kate’s band, was supremely bummed that SXSW was cancelled. I told them to slide through town anyway, or keep their ears to the ground, because there’s no way all those people closing in on Austin are going to stay home. There will be shows, there will be networking — just go. They’re taking this under advisement. But they have a long drive across the country in the coming days:

Meanwhile, they recorded a single for some obscure psychedelic label called Hypnotic Bridge, and damn if it ain’t pretty good. Very proud of these girlies. They played a show Friday night at Third Man Records and didn’t put a foot wrong. Also, Kate wore go-go boots:

Verdict: “God, those things are so uncomfortable.” You don’t say?

And that was the weekend, in between reading about COVID-19 and trying not to touch my face. Oh, we watched “Ford vs. Ferrari.” Three stars, and I hope I never again have to watch a movie about a car race where a wife watches from home, her face lit by the TV screen and making various expressions of concern, fear and elation.

Primary coming up in 48 hours. We’ll see how that goes. I have no prediction, if you’re wondering.

Posted at 6:31 pm in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments
 

Customer service.

I feel like I spend more time apologizing here than actually writing anything of interest. Last week was about as bananas as weeks get for me, at least one that didn’t involve some sort of tragedy or truly bad luck. No, it was all plain old work, just work, plus an extracurricular event on Friday night that I was involved with executing. Everything went well, but it was just one of Those Weeks — never ahead, always juggling 10 different things, dropping lots of balls but scooping them back up and trying to get them aloft again.

At one point Friday, I realized I had two text conversations going, a Google hangout, an urgent email dangling in reply, and, AND, a third separate text conversation with the cable company, which left me vowing that this time, no kidding, I am fucking DROPPING cable internet because Xfinity sucks so bad.

Long story short: I carried a bag of trash out to the cans and found the cable line drooping to about the level of my chin. Some utility crews have been in the neighborhood trimming trees away from power lines, doing their usual job, which is to say, not quite the work of a trained arborist. A limb must have knocked it loose. We still had cable, but probably not for much longer.

Xfinity makes such a mockery of customer service. I can feel my chest tightening just thinking about Friday. It used to be, you called a number, made your way through a decision tree, and ended up speaking to a heavily accented woman in a call center far away across the Pacific. I would ask where they were, and they would always deflect, but from their accents I deduced: The Philippines. But those days, those crazy days of yore, are gone forever. Now you must communicate with these individuals via text message. And because they aren’t using Apple’s iMessage, this means thumb-typing, not my strong suit. Fortunately, there’s a workaround, I forget what they call it in the OS, where you can type on your screen, cntrl-C, and then paste it manually on your phone. Laborious, but effective.

Are the people you are texting with in the Philippines? No idea. They could be on the moon for all I know. Based on their replies, which ranged from perfect answers to a standard question — no doubt copied and pasted from a script — to broken English on non-standard ones, they’re almost certainly not in the U.S.:

Comcast Care Chat: Rest assured that once the technician goes there, all your frustrations will stop so you will finally have your peace of mind.

Long story short, the line was fixed, but the guy restrung it differently, so it’s probably going to come down again when we have the giant dying oak tree removed from the back yard tomorrow. Speaking of things that tighten my chest. There’s losing a tree that’s probably close to a century old, for starters, and then what it will cost: The price of a decent vacation.

So at the start of a month, when the stock market is tanking and public hysteria is rising and Rush Limbaugh, that ignorant pile of crap, is telling people that it’s the common cold and anyway, that doctor talking about this disease like she knows something? She’s Rod Rosenstein’s sister, you know:

No wonder I’m in such a foul mood.

But by this time Wednesday things should have slowed down considerably, so look for more then.

In the meantime, here is a very strange story that I kept expecting to go in a different direction than it did. The headline is Miranda’s Rebellion, but it’s really about the agonies of a southern homemaker who can’t stop the bells clanging in her head:

It is white women in the Deep South who have remained [Republican] loyalists, the research showed, giving Trump 64 percent of their vote in 2016, a figure that did not include Miranda Murphey, who had first started reevaluating her politics after the election of Barack Obama, even though she had voted Republican.

“It was all the comments I kept hearing, like, ‘Change the channel, I don’t want to see that black face,’” she said. “It was always that he was black, not that he was liberal, not that there was a problem with some policy. I always thought being a Republican meant supporting the military and lower taxes, not being racist and ignorant.”

Then came Trump, who Miranda found so morally repugnant that for the first time in her voting life she wrote in the name of the Libertarian Party candidate and went to bed expecting that good and decent conservatives would do the same. She woke up realizing she was wrong. Church members had voted for Trump. Her parents had gone for Trump. Phillip [her husband]: Trump.

Miranda made a new friend at the start of the administration, and I kept waiting for her to leave Phillip for Liz, but that didn’t happen. But it’s a very good story, and I recommend it.

Also: Mayor Pete is out. So there’s that.

As for me, here’s to an easier week for me, you and everybody else. Wash your hands.

Posted at 6:57 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 95 Comments
 

Clean and sober.

I’m now approaching two weeks without alcohol, and the results so far are dispiriting.

I’m sleeping better, feeling better, and have lost a couple of pounds.

Every year I do this, my body edges closer to the all-out declaration that I should really quit drinking. And let me remind you: I am not a heavy drinker, or even a moderate one. I’ll have a glass of wine as I make dinner, and another one with the meal. When I go out, I generally stop at two if I’m driving, and rarely go over three. A friend’s son describes himself as a “three-beer queer,” apologies for the slur, but that describes me perfectly.

But there’s also this: I like to drink. Not to get drunk, mercy no, but for the feeling when a shitty day just ended and you schlep your tired ass to the bar and order something, it doesn’t matter what, and just realizing, as the glass is halfway down, that things have improved. The tension begins to drain away, your shoulders loosen and your mood lifts, even incrementally. You still have all your problems, of course, but they don’t seem so daunting. Everything will work out, like it always does. Noisy children are no longer a DRILL THROUGH YOUR SKULL, but just small people who are legit members of the human family. You have, dare I say it? Perspective.

Of course it doesn’t last. Everyone knows this. A couple years ago I had a long sit in a bar during Dry January, and a party came in for the bloody mary brunch — about six or eight young people doing what young people do on the weekends, i.e., not clean their houses or drive kids around or whatever. They were loud and happy, a condition that seemed to peak at the second round. After that, one or two got louder, one or two got quieter, the laughs were harsher, the conversation more repetitious. That’s booze for you.

Oh, well. Enjoy dry January if you’re doing it. After the first week it isn’t even all that hard. Lately I’ve been treating myself to a LaCroix with a shot of Pom Wonderful and maybe a squeeze of lime. Feels special without being sinful.

On to the bloggage, then.

Just one piece today, a story of how one Facebook group dedicated to trashing Michigan’s governor went off the rails. I hope you’re not feeling optimistic about the human race — I hope you’re not halfway through your drink — because I have some bummer juice to offer here:

The public group, “People vs Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” was rapidly growing, attracting nearly 9,000 conservatives of all kinds – elected officials, veterans, firefighters, law enforcement officers, educators, pastors, business owners, political candidates, militia members, blue-collar workers, and your garden variety trolls.

Metro Times identified dozens of recent posts promoting or threatening violence, primarily against Whitmer, U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Elissa Slotkin, American Muslims, and Dearborn. Hundreds of comments were posted each day, and many included vulgar insults against women, Muslims, Democrats, and LGTBQ+ communities.

Tlaib, who is a Muslim American from Detroit, was a common target of the vitriol.

“She needs a bullet between her eyes,” Spencer Hayward wrote.

Note that the Metro Times actually named names of people posting such things, which led to one being fired on Friday. Here’s his response to the writer:

I’d disagree that this is about “indoctrination.” It’s about pig-ignorance, pure and simple. But may God bless America, cuz we sure do need it.

OK, gotta make dinner. No cocktail hour. And prep for the week ahead.

Posted at 5:26 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments
 

Pine needles.

The tree is at the curb, the bulk of the dropped needles swept up – we’ll be finding them in nooks and crannies until July and beyond – and gift boxes have been collapsed and in the recycling. The holidays are o-vuh, and I for one kinda like this time of year.

I’m not drinking, I’m at the gym more often like the cliché that I am, and I’m glad that the here-have-a-chocolate-covered-thing has abated for a bit. I went to Target the other day and they had already hung up the St. Patrick’s Day socks.

Maybe we won’t be in a nuking war with Iran by St. Patrick’s Day. A girl can dream.

We may actually also be legit war criminals:

Aboard Air Force One on his way back from his holiday trip to Florida, Mr. Trump reiterated to reporters traveling with him the spirit of a Twitter post on Saturday, when he said that the United States government had identified 52 sites for retaliation against Iran if there were a response to Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani’s death. Some, he tweeted, were of “cultural” significance.

Such a move could be considered a war crime under international laws, but Mr. Trump said Sunday that he was undeterred.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people,” the president said. “And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”

Remember when the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan on the old silk road? That could be us.

I’m so depressed about this. The cabinet should be sending texts to one another with the phrase “25th amendment,” but I seriously doubt that’s happening.

Have a good week ahead. Let’s take it day by day.

Posted at 8:28 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 20 Comments
 

Nowheresville.

We were headed to Columbus for Nall Family Christmas, driving through rural Ohio, when I missed an exit. It was one of those where the next exit is something like 15 miles down the road, so I said screw it and let Siri or whoever recalculate the route. It wouldn’t have paid to double back.

The new route took us through the back roads of western Ohio. It’s been a while since I did that; probably since we lived in Fort Wayne, and I would travel U.S. 33 from northeast Indiana to Columbus, through all the small towns along the way — Neptune, Willshire, Rockford, et al. It’s all four-lane now, but wasn’t back then; I knew every place it was safe to pass, when it paid to wait until the next four-lane stretch. One time I raced a particularly jerkoffish trucker through Willshire, him on the main road, me on a residential side street that ran parallel. And beat him back to the main drag! Because there’s nothing worse than sucking semi tail pipe if you don’t have to.

God, that drive sucked so bad. What I remember about the course of 20 years, though, was how the little farm towns never improved. They got shabbier by the year, the signs to the food co-op fading, the dairy freezes marking time with their seasonal openings and closings. About the only institutions that seemed to have staying power were the bars, but even they didn’t age well.

Year after year, the young people decamped for Columbus or Toledo or Fort Wayne. Because that’s where the jobs are. Not in…Pleasant Mills, Ind.

I guess this is the America that some think can be made Great again — the farms rescued from corporate owners and restored to ma and pa; the giant dairy processor that’s driving prices into the basement dematerialized somehow. And who knows what else. The kids come home and sell farm implements instead of motorcycles downstate? Hard to say. It was depressing.

I’m a city person, and I can’t ever see not being one. And now — puts finger to earpiece — I hear we’ve taken out a major Iranian military leader, just in time for the 2020 campaign! Yay! A distracting war!!!

An airstrike near the Baghdad airport has killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and another senior Iranian-linked figure in Baghdad, Iraqi state television reported Thursday.

No one immediately asserted responsibility for the strike, which Iraqi television said also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander. But the death of Iran’s most revered military leader appeared likely to send tensions soaring between the United States and Iran.

Also, this:

A book that pushes the conspiracy theory Qanon climbed within the top 75 of all books sold on Amazon in recent days, pushed by Amazon’s algorithmically generated recommendations page.

“QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening,” which has no stated author, ranked at No. 56 at press time, was featured in the algorithmically generated “Hot new releases” section on Amazon’s books landing page. The book claims without evidence a variety of outlandish claims including that prominent Democrats murder and eat children and that the U.S. government created both AIDS and the movie Monsters Inc.

God, this stupid country.

Well, here it is, January 2, and the new year already is off to a pretty bad start. Full speed ahead!

Posted at 9:42 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments
 

The enormous radio.

Some years back, I wrote a column for Grosse Pointe Today about a developing murder case here in town. The basics: A beloved G.P. woman was found dead, strangled, in the back seat of her Mercedes SUV, which had been dumped in an alley on the east side of Detroit.

Now. Those of you who are journalists, or even fond of crime fiction, already suspect who the killer was. My friend Dustin was my student at the time, contributing to GPToday, and it was him that I contacted to write up a few paragraphs for the site, because I was doing something else and he had already been a staffer for a daily newspaper for some time. He said, “I’m putting on my coat, but you know who likely did this, right? Her husband.”

I agreed wholeheartedly. It looked like a botched body dump that was supposed to look like a carjacking, if you can ignore two big problems: Carjackers use a weapon or maybe simple brute force to get you out of your car. Which they then drive away, that being the point of the carjacking. It takes long long minutes to strangle a healthy person to death, at least three or even longer if you want to be sure. That’s a long goddamn time to spend killing someone whose Mercedes you’re not going to take.

But this being Grosse Pointe, with its pathological fear of Detroit, the hysteria began on Facebook almost immediately.

When are these ANIMALS going to be kept OUT of our communities was only the least of it. It started nuts and built over the course of two days and was well into a third, posts with hundreds of comments about the need for gates, for structural impediments to streets, for more police and, of course, for everybody to carry at least one gun. You know the drill. The crime was discovered on a Wednesday and the hysteria built until Friday, when in the late afternoon the police announced that the victim’s husband was a person of interest in the crime.

The sound of a social-media thread of morons ceasing to talk should make a sound. Like when tires screech into a sliding stop, or a whole flock of quarreling starlings suddenly goes silent.

Me, I wrote a column. I compared the events of the previous few days to “The Enormous Radio,” John Cheever’s fantastic short story which you should read if you haven’t already. (You can get the gist from Wikipedia.) It’s about a woman who discovers her living-room radio is picking up conversations from the other apartments in her building. Within a few days, she learns terrible things about her neighbors and the sorts of things they say in the privacy of their own living rooms.

I concentrated on just this case, but it applies to pretty much everything now. Facebook is just another enormous radio, revealing the bigotries and ignorance of people we thought we knew. I just scrolled through the comments on the Deadline Detroit Facebook page and reflected, for the millionth time, that if regular people got the sort of hate mail journalists get almost every day, most people would walk around in a state of near-nervous collapse, every single day.

No, I don’t have to read it all. But I need to at least keep up with it as part of my job. So I do.

All of which brings me to this story, from Axios, not a favorite news source but whatever, analyzing the “insane” news cycles of 2019. As per Axios, it’s not much of a story, and it contains bullet points for no apparent reason other than they like bullet points, but this right here seemed to be the heart of it:

Why it matters: The chart, based on search trends compiled by Google News Lab, highlights how short the public’s attention span was as the media darted from one big thing to another.

  • In the era of President Trump and social media, surges of Google interest in the biggest events of the year only lasted about a week before the public’s attention was drawn elsewhere.
  • Some issues, such as the 2020 election and the Mexico-U.S. border, drew more steady attention — but fewer of the dramatic spikes of interest that other topics had.
  • There’s a chart in the story that’s pretty interesting, too, tracking outrage after outrage through the year.

    I’m considering my one-word new year’s resolution in these final days, and considering Disengage. For a journalist, it feels like a betrayal. You have to stay engaged! You have to keep up! But I am honestly exhausted with keeping up. I don’t want to know anything about Baby Yoda. I don’t subscribe to Disney+, I left all things Star Wars behind in, what? Nineteen-eighty-something? Is there a filter I can install, an app of some sort, that will tell me what I want to know, and what I need to know, and maybe surprise me with some things I didn’t know I wanted to know but am now glad I know, without including Baby Yoda? And all the social-media bullshit that goes with it?

    I don’t think there is. If so, I would have known about it by now. Because you know, I keep up. I would never have turned off the enormous radio.

    I hope your Christmas was everything you asked for. We had a nice time. Watched some movies, opened lots of presents, ate our weight in carbs. I got two cookbooks — Alison Roman’s “Nothing Fancy,” and Mark Bittman’s “Dinner for Everyone.” Both look wonderful. I find myself drooling over the photos of garlicky greens. I hope that means I’m on the road back to dietary temperance.

    However, for now, it’s time to walk Wendy. A great weekend to all.

    Posted at 4:30 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments
     

    Baptism in blood.

    One of my birthday gifts was a mandoline slicer, so I can make perfect Potatoes Anna and apple tarts and the like. I christened mine in the traditional way — with blood. I was slicing peppers for some grilled sausages when I gouged a chunk out of my thumb Friday evening.

    I’m fine now. It stings a little to hit the space bar, but at least I got the bleeding stopped. Direct pressure isn’t as effective on a flesh gouge as it would be on a simple slice. I feared I wouldn’t be able to swim tomorrow, as the mere touch of water on it had me howling yesterday, but thanks to the magic of time and healing, I could actually wash it with soap and water today. Yay, cellular repair.

    It was that kind of a weekend. The painting continued, and is done now — Alan just stepped out to buy window blinds and switch plates. The room looks a million times better, and when we finally get the tree up, it’ll look a million times better, too. I even got some Black Friday weekend shopping done, online and otherwise.

    We had a nice Thanksgiving. I did, anyway; Alan didn’t even get any turkey, as his part of the newsroom order-in came with “a piece of shitty dried-out pork loin,” he said. “They’d already run out of turkey.” Poor guy. Well, Christmas is coming. I got to experience my friend’s family, who are all Trumpers, including one gay man. I mainly stayed out of the discussion, but eavesdropped from the next room. Their calculus was simple: Is my life OK? Yes? Then the president must be doing a good job. Amazing. I wish it could be that simple for me. It must be like…like being a dog, maybe. Am I comfortable? Is this a good time to nap? Do I want to scratch behind my ear? Then I will do so!

    Oh well. I have a new family room to wipe the paint drips from and return to functional use. Maybe I’ll rearrange the furniture, just to get that new-house feeling again.

    You can see I’m running out of anything to say. On to the bloggage.

    Marijuana became fully legal for adults in Michigan today. First buyers, a fair number of Hoosiers and Buckeyes. Sorry you guys can’t be as cool as us.

    What is a failson? Let the Daily Beast explain:

    He is an upper- (or upper-middle) class incompetent who is protected by familial wealth from the consequences of his actions.

    … One is not born a failson. Nor does one simply inherit the status of failson. No—failson status is earned through a display of equal parts incompetence, stupidity, and arrogance. And until his book, no person in America—or maybe even the world, so bursting at the seams with louche heirs and dissolute royals with no throne to sit their pampered arses on—illustrated all the facets of a failson better than (Donald Trump) Junior.

    A fun read.

    So, let’s take on the full week ahead with optimism and gratitude. And all 10 fingers.

    Posted at 6:37 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 50 Comments
     

    Dreaming of the northern lights.

    I had the house looking pretty damn good, although we’re not hosting Thanksgiving this year; Kate is staying in California until Christmas and Alan has to work, so I’m going stag (doe?) to a friend’s. I dusted, vacuumed, straightened and plumped all the pillows, so of course today Alan said it was a good day to start painting the family room and now that is what he is doing.

    Sigh.

    As for me, I spoke to Kate earlier. She locked her bike somewhere on Venice Boulevard yesterday and came out to find it missing both wheels. They’re special sizes, so it may well be easier for her to just get a new bike than try to track down replacements. That someone or many someones likely saw this happening in broad daylight and did nothing to stop it only underlines the essential pitilessness of the adult world for this new member of it.

    Ah well. In another month she’ll be home, then probably staying home until mid-February, when the album she recorded for her senior thesis is released, and the band starts on first a U.S. tour (including SXSW!) and later, on to Europe. I keep pointing out she’s doing just fine and not to get so stressed, but then, my bike wasn’t stripped of its wheels, either.

    A peaceful weekend, other than the cleaning. Ran into a good friend at the Eastern Market, and we went for coffee. He told me about the book he’s writing. It’s gonna be great, especially if he takes all my editing suggestions. Seriously, he’s a great writer and has a deep understanding of his subject (Detroit) and knows it better than almost anyone. I can’t wait to read it. And he inspired me to get back to work on something I’m writing. Not a book, but a longer essay/column I’ve been picking at for a while. Stay tuned.

    Man, night comes on quickly these days, and we haven’t even seen the worst of it yet. Every so often I daydream about spending some unspecified future winter in Reykjavik, just renting an apartment from Halloween through the end of February and settling in for the hygge. I think I could do it, once I got used to it: Swim in the morning, soak in the hot tub, then tank up on coffee and wait for a couple hours of dim sunlight before it sinks again and the long night commences. There would be sandwiches. There would be pickles. There would be lots of reading and DuoLingo and meandering writing like this. The aurora borealis overhead so often it becomes routine. I think it’d be pretty great.

    But this is just fantasy. Because of course we live in a hellscape, where the president intercedes to pardon/restore the rank of a war criminal. Where so-called moderate Republicans are silenced in the GOP of m-f’ing Wyoming, for god’s sake. Where a former Fox News exec tries to drum up followers for his allegedly “center-right” political news aggregator by employing Macedonian teenagers to whip up the proles and other media illiterates, on both sides (for once!).

    Want something beautiful to read instead? It’s 7,000 words, so it’ll take a while. It took me one bus ride home, last Friday, but it stayed with me all weekend: “The Jungle Prince of Delhi,” by Ellen Barry in the NYT. I hope to one day write a sentence like this:

    The door swung open, and before me stood a man in tiger-print pajamas.

    Until then, I write here. Ah well. Have a great week ahead, all.

    Posted at 5:33 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 79 Comments
     

    Raise your right hand, Ambassador.

    It’s going on 8 p.m. as I write this, and the hearings are still going strong in Washington. Nunes is still a barking twit. It seems important to tell you this.

    And I’m sorry, but even if you believe all the dire stories about a tuned-out public and the needle not moving at all, blah blah blah, I can’t really believe this isn’t making a difference. I mean, even laying aside my personal beliefs in this case, I see one Trumper after another tripping over his own feet. Surely this isn’t playing well in the suburbs. Surely this is making a difference with people who have two or more brain cells to rub together. I have to have more faith in my countrymen, because otherwise I will have to sell everything I own and wander the world for the rest of my life, never returning to this brain-damaged country.

    Wednesdays seem to come earlier in the week than ever, which may be a function of the quickening pace of the end of the year, or just my own approaching end of the road. When you’re 12, a week lasts five years. Then you have kids and they grow up in 20 minutes.

    What’s going on in your world this week? Returning to the above mega-topic, i.e., the Disgrace of This Administration, I see DUI Steph stepped in it again, claiming the outgoing Obama staffers seeded the White House with nastygrams and “Obama books.” A stupid lie that was more or less immediately debunked.

    To give the girl credit, though: She’s probably never seen a book in her life, and just assumed that the ones left behind must have been “Obama books,” whatever that is.

    Meanwhile, I got a message from a distant acquaintance, informing me that the “classical school” movement has set up shop in my old Indiana neighborhood, and one of its administrators, also an editor for the Federalist, is living on my very own ex-street. Here’s one of her recent columns, Stop Turning Your Yard Into a Hellscape for Halloween:

    Within a few blocks of my house are yards full of severed heads, decomposing corpses, positively demonic-looking witches, goblins, and ghouls, and moldy skeletons coming out of the ground (some even shake!).

    One entire nearby neighborhood decorated all of its streetlights with hanging severed heads that have blood running out of the eyes. Some people have fog machines and motion detectors that emit noises from Hell every time a mom walks by with her preschooler and baby, or kids of all ages go past on their way to school.

    What is wrong with these people?

    This upsets her children, she writes: “Only fools make light of evil. Hell isn’t a joke.” OK, fine. I wonder what her position might be on my personal pet peeve from when I had a young child: The anti-abortion protesters who would show up on “procedure day” at the local clinic in Fort Wayne, which happened to be across the street from the library. We spent a lot of time at the library in those days, and I believe procedure day was also Storytime Day, so I had to carry a 3- or 4-year-old past their poster-size blowups of fetal body parts. After the first time, I learned how to park to avoid most of it, but sometimes it was unavoidable. My guess is, that would be A Difficult Truth We Must Not Shrink From, or some such.

    Well, if I know my old neighborhood — and I may not, anymore — she’s an anomaly.

    OK, time to hit the showers and get ready for the day. Gordon Sondland, up next.

    Posted at 8:36 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 99 Comments
     

    Birthdays no. 1 and 2.

    And so it begins: I used to think of Halloween as the beginning of the year-end gallop, but since I no longer have a small child to get costumed, the race now starts with The Birthdays, three in nine days.

    Alan’s and Kate’s was Saturday. Of course, Kate is in California, but we partied enough for both of them. Hence today’s mostly photo post. Not that I am hungover, just a little tired.

    The evening started with a long, multi-course dinner at a Hot New Place called Magnet. (It’s a former radiator repair shop.)

    This was only the first course, and yes, that’s hummus. The trick of this restaurant is that everything is cooked or baked over or with the help of a wood fire. I don’t have any more dinner pix because the food was so good I think I fell into a swoon and became unable to operate my camera. You can check out their Instagram, if you like. This was my cocktail choice, and it was outstanding:

    After about a million calories and seven thousand courses, we retired to our friends’ house for birthday cake, so I sent this one to Kate, who was at Lake Mead with some friends for her own celebration:

    She replied with a pic of her own that indicated the sun had set on Lake Mead and the party moved to Vegas:

    She certainly didn’t look dressed for hiking, anyway.

    Then we had one more round of drinks, Hank Pierce’s Brake Bumpers, because we are all “Succession” fans:

    Then we pawed through Lynn’s grandma’s collection of vintage matchbooks:

    This one is my favorite:

    Dunno why. It just reminds me of a round of martinis after a OABI cruise. (That’s “once around Belle Isle” for you non-Detroiters.)

    And then we went home. I was in bed by 10:30, and we all agreed Magnet is our new favorite restaurant in the whole world.

    Some of you have asked how Kate is doing in California. Very well, thanks. Her internship period has passed at the studio and she’s now an production assistant (fewer sushi runs, more handling microphones), with the caveat that she is only scheduled on a gig basis, which means she’s doing the Gen Z Hustle, i.e, trying to pick up cash here and there. She just interviewed to be a personal assistant, the new version of the mail room, I guess. But she’s on her way, although still parentally subsidized.

    With that, I will start making mashed potatoes for our own, far more prosaic dinner tonight. To discuss? Maybe the president’s are-they-or-aren’t-they chest pains. I’ll be back in a couple days.

    Posted at 6:09 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 39 Comments