Drenched.

So, two fronts collided somewhere over Michigan Wednesday, a low from the southwest and a high from the northwest, and the result was about what you’d expect this time of year — lots of crap falling from the sky. We also had crazy wind, and me? I had sandals on. It was a warm day, after all. I hope they’re not ruined by the water sluicing through them on the way to the bus stop. The puddles were unavoidable.

Well, that’s city life. It’s not like I didn’t have warning; some schools were dismissed early, after the apocalyptic forecasts spooked everyone. They weren’t new sandals or anything.

And that is today’s excitement.

Time for some Small Faces, I think:

This will be old news by the time you read it, but when you think about it, it was old news all along: Yep, the NFL brass had the whole Ray Rice video all along. What a bunch of lying liar sleazebags.

This is also old news, but it’s big news, and it’s mostly Detroit news. However, we have to acknowledge it, because it’s news: The city’s way out of bankruptcy became a lot clearer when the most recalcitrant of its creditors appears to have reached a settlement that doesn’t involve taking paintings from the wall at the art museum. And I link mainly for this priceless quote:

Outside court, Syncora lawyer Stephen Hackney reflected on a 14-month journey during which he fought to liquidate the city’s art collection, tried to block repairs to miles of broken streetlights and leveled a “blistering” personal attack on federal mediators that drew a rebuke from the judge.

“It is interesting and ironic that we are both part of Detroit’s future,” Hackney said. “It feels better to be loving rather than fighting.”

Lawyers. You gotta love ‘em.

Thanks so much for being so patient and good about keeping the chatter going through this month of Scant. I do appreciate it.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 87 Comments
 

Scant entertainment.

I’m closing in on the end of a chapter, and have time to say hi — Hi! — and give you some more longreads for the weekend.

One of my favorite web writers — Roy Edroso at Alicublog — used to write for another webzine, the Alicubi Journal, back when we spoke of things like webzines. (Or even blogs.)

The archive remains online and the other day I looked up the articles archive and found one of my all-time faves of his, “The Ballad of the Reverb Motherfuckers,” a memoir of his time in, well, let him tell it:

In 1986, I was living in the East Village. Naturally I was in a number of bands.

But of course he was. Here’s part one, part two, part three and part four. You’ll notice part four ends with “to be continued.” It doesn’t. I emailed Roy and asked him where the conclusion was, and he said he never got around to it; this was a webzine, after all, not Esquire or Playboy. If you’re worried that Roy was never OK again, well, he’s fine and I had a drink with him just last fall on the sun-kissed banks of the Detroit River. Lives in D.C. with his lovely wife Kia.

Every part of this saga cracks me up. It’s like Coozledad, only longer than a blog comment:

Once we had decided to proceed, drummer or no, it only remained for us to get gigs. For an unknown band comprised, for all the world knew, of aging losers, our best chances were among the local, low-rent performance spaces where junior-grade sonic youth yowled and gibbered nightly. Our first booking was in the last slot on a Saturday night at Neither/Nor, a bookstore and illicit club on Sixth Street between Avenues C and D.

Neither/Nor was owned by a moneyed young aesthete (as were most of the alt-rock spaces east of Avenue A then), but effectively managed by an unflappable black hustler known only as Billy Sleaze. Billy never opened his eyes more than halfway, nor smiled more than enough to show grudging approval, and he practiced similar energy conservation techniques in his management of the acts that tumbled through the venue. He told the players where to put their amps and then languidly patrolled the perimeter, sometimes shaking his head at the shrill foolishness onstage. But he had expressed mild appreciation for the professionalism of the Deadbeats when we had played Neither/Nor in that guise, and he was almost friendly when we lugged our pathetic, cumbersome gear through the door.

“Here, man,” he said to John, “take my card.”

The card was homemade and bore a photo of an black penis entering a white, puckered anus.

“Guess he likes us,” I said.

Enjoy. I’m off for a weekend, and will see you here next week, again in scanty form, but with a weak signal prevailing.

Posted at 8:15 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 19 Comments
 

Scantastic.

A friend of mine is making a short film and asked for my help. It’s some sort of steampunk-Western thing, so I went down to the basement to dig up my neglected riding gear and see what still might work.

The good news: I found my old chaps, and dammit, THEY FUCKING FIT. Sorry for the obscenity there, but it’s just when you have a garment that is zipped around your thighs, and you haven’t worn them in a decade, you have anxiety just looking at them. To strap on the belt — hey, it’s going to the old hole, whaddaya know? — and then reach down and bring them around to the zipper, fingers a-tremble? And then to find they fit, easily? That’s a good feeling.

The mildewy smell in the suede will be the next obstacle. I’d also like to maybe wear them on a horse again, but one obstacle at a time.

The other thing I found was this, rattling around loose in a box, yet another treasure from letters from my dear bff Deb.

We are a cruel people, journalists. Then again, sometimes those we are cruel to deserve it. Damn.

If you’d like a short list of what’s wrong with this story besides the dam/damn bit, let me lay it out for you:

** Don’t write the source’s name and lengthy title before whatever it is they’re saying. Information, then “said Smith.”

** Quotes should illuminate the information, not carry it. Especially when the quote repeats the information in the previous paragraph. Especially when it’s that boring.

** Actual drilling, as opposed to, what? Pretend drilling, I guess.

Back to work.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 28 Comments
 

Scanty.

The start of September Scantiness (until final deadline is met) begins with a long read, lately rendered in journalese as “longread.” It’s a classic holiday-weekend package, thousands and thousands of words and a front-page presentation that jumps to two inside pages AND a video, all on… a man learning to swim.

But of course, it’s about much more than that: Conquering fear, how we try to heal ourselves, the challenges we take on when we’re old enough to know better. The sort of thing you read on a holiday weekend, but what the hell, you might enjoy it on Sept. 2.

More longreads and tasty morsels coming, as I find them. A fine day to all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 13 Comments
 

Deadline crunch.

Well, it starts soon: The final push to get the book done. Which means very light posting until the end of September. Links here, a pic here, but you’ll have to carry most of the load.

Fortunately, I have one. A picture, that is:

thursdaymorning

This was the view as I hit the homestretch on Thursday’s bike ride. Sunrise is coming later and later, but as you can see, it’s still worth seeing. That teeny-tiny dot on the horizon? A freighter, downbound.

Bloggage: My little gal’s band gets more love all the time. I’m so proud of them.

Judge Posner: Everybody’s new hero. (Sorry, Alex: I just don’t have the time or gas to really say much more.)

Have a great Labor Day weekend, my friends. I’ll see you Tuesday.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 27 Comments
 

Disconnected.

IMG_1527.JPG

Hi, everyone. Wendy here. We had a big storm night before last and while we kept our power, we lost our internet. ALL DAY, for reals. I know, it was awful. It’s still not back, and Dog only know when it will be. So I’m tapping this out on the phone and this will be it, most likely.

No bloggage, but if you could wish mild-mannered Jeff a happy birthday, that would be a very man’s-best-friend thing to do.

Thanks. Happy Thursday, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 46 Comments
 

A little ragged around the edges.

The temperature kissed 90 degrees today. Took a yoga class that revealed my lack of natural balance but my amazing capacity for perspiration. Arose from savasana to find two texts and a voicemail alerting me of a problem. But because of my inner peace, I opened the sunroof, drove home and discovered the problem had been solved already. In one 45-minute Power Lunch class! That’s something.

Does your yoga teacher ever do visualization? It depends on the amount of woo-woo you’ve signed up for, but I had one a while back who simply wouldn’t. Shut up. About the golden corral we are supposed to visualize around our heart center, and all the glowingness within. Visualize your pure golden heart pushing out all the negativity, etc.

I thought, seriously, about what my heart would look like, and decided it simply has to be spotted with black mold here and there, because otherwise, what sort of life would I have led up to this point? You just have to tarnish the glow a little; otherwise you’re Siddhartha, or maybe Beyoncé.

So, bloggage:

I keep an eye on the Apple movie-trailers site, but so far haven’t seen anything from the Jessica Chastain menu for the coming fall, but I was fascinated by the photo in this story. If you want to know why film acting is difficult and they get the big bucks, imagine emoting with that thing in your face. It’s sort of like working up tears while you’re getting the air-puff test for glaucoma.

Wait, I already do that. Because of the air-puff.

Interesting: Cornel West and the insular, Obama-hating left.

Because every 9-year-old should know how to use an Uzi, don’t you agree?

Wednesday awaits.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 38 Comments
 

One too many.

Now here’s a tragedy for you: A 19-year-old Chinese freshman at Michigan State dies on orientation weekend before attending a single class. Why? Guess:

Police believe alcohol may have played a role in her death.

Really? The picture at the link is heartbreaking — so young and pretty. You have to wonder what happened. I guess we’ll find out, eventually.

I don’t have much today. It was a hot and muggy one, and tomorrow will be hotter and muggier. It’s the last week for lap swimming at the city pool, and I’m going to take advantage of it — these are perfect mornings for getting the exercise out of the way early.

OK, here’s this: Lunch and I are growing apart. Why eat lunch, anyway? To get out of the office, sure, but food wise, it’s just a big load of calories sitting in your stomach just when you need to get four more hours of work done. Today we moseyed down the block to a taco takeout joint, and I ordered the vegan naked burrito — the fillings without the tortilla. I thought it would be light and digestible, but I forgot about the red onions. Erg. An afternoon of dragon breath hardly seems worth it when you can just have a huge breakfast and do a Balance bar or something around 1 or 2 p.m. Bookend the day with calories but skip lunch, or go super-light.

Boy, I really got nothin’.

Here’s something: Judgmental Maps gets to Detroit. I live near Sailboats, but am not one with them.

Tuesday is coming for us all. Enjoy it.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments
 

Painting by numbers.

I really should be cleaning my bathroom. I want that on the record. In fact, when I finish here? Cleaning that bathroom. Because hair and gunk and the usual. Sometimes I think letting our cleaning lady go was the biggest mistake I made last year, but she was a luxury and luxuries needed to be trimmed.

Besides, like so many cleaning ladies, she was starting to slip. Next time, I hire another service.

So, what a weekend. Lots of work, a little bit of cooking, and a long bike ride in Windsor, because why not? You pop through the tunnel with the bikes in the back of the car, find a park to launch from, and then…discover Windsor isn’t much of a cycling city. There were some nice parks, some decent lanes here and there, but not enough. So we rode here and there and did what everybody does in Windsor — found a good Chinese restaurant and ate dim sum, then stopped at the duty-free for some Niagara-region wine.

“I don’t know about you, but ‘Wayne Gretzky’ doesn’t do much for me on a wine label,” I told the clerk. She said “Dan Ackroyd” did even less for her.

There was also this: “Tim’s Vermeer,” a perfectly amusing little documentary about one man’s quest to duplicate a Vermeer painting, not for fraudulent reasons but just to see if he can figure out the tricks of how Vermeer managed photorealism in the 17th century.

As with great documentaries, it starts out being one thing and ends up being about something else entirely — the magic of art, mainly. On iTunes and Amazon Primenow, soon to be on Netflix, no doubt.

Have a good week, all. I’m going to watch premium-cable Sunday-night TV.

Posted at 12:30 am in Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 35 Comments
 

Fetch her.

HBO is rerunning “Rome” at 8 p.m., which is frequently my blogging hour, so I sometimes have it on in the background. I’d forgotten how much I liked it when it first aired, what? Ten years ago? Awakening the day of Caesar’s funeral, Mark Antony says, “I’m not getting out of this bed until I’ve fucked someone.” His consort, Atia, says fine, and orders a slave to “fetch that German slut from the kitchen.”

I think that’s going to be today’s catch phrase: Fetch that German slut from the kitchen.

So fetch her! Here’s a story I found intriguing, from Tommy Tomlinson, an ESPN sportswriter who happens to be married to an ex-colleague of mine. He’s a fat guy, and he’s writing about another fat guy, and do so with the insight of one who not only has been there, but is still there:

He is trying to get past the chomp-chomp-chomp phase. He orders a lot of salads. He’s cut back on the steaks in favor of grilled chicken and sushi. The drink he guzzles is Diet Coke (mostly from Steak ‘n Shake, because its cups keep it coldest). But he won’t lie. He loves Jimmy John’s. And sometimes, on the way home, that $5 Little Caesars pizza calls his name.

He has trouble sleeping, and his snoring just about cracks the drywall. Stairs are starting to give him a problem, especially with his leg still healing. We see our futures, and they’re not long ones. I’m 50, and I might feel it more deeply than he does. Nobody who’s 65 looks like we do.

Most people have something in their lives that they can’t beat back with willpower alone. But when you’re fat, your problem is obvious to the world. And here’s one difference between having a problem with food and having one with cigarettes or booze or drugs: You can’t quit cold turkey. You have to eat something.

Tamara remembers times when she and Jared did really well — they ate right, exercised, even grew a little garden together. Then she’d clean the house one day and find a Little Debbie wrapper under the couch.

Changing one’s eating habits, even if they’re relatively normal, is incredibly difficult. It’s taken me nearly two years to wean myself off just the insane amounts of sugar I used to eat. And I still eat too much. So I have a lot of sympathy here.

Finally, I’m going to pimp my gentrification package one more day, in case you missed it yesterday: Main, map, sidebar. Plus guest columns one and two. You journos know the multiple-entry-points thing, right?

And now we’ve gotten to the end of the week. Enjoy your weekend. I hope that German slut from the kitchen is everything you wanted.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments