What is up with this week? Everything is breaking my way. Not in a winning-lottery-ticket sense (alas), but calls are getting returned, people are saying yes when there’s a strong possibility of a no, and I woke up today not with a cold, but feeling pretty good after 6.5 solid hours of unconsciousness. So maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. Or brace for the inevitable crash.

It was another nice day, so I took Wendy to the dog park for her afternoon constitutional. This is the one in Detroit, which differs from the one in Grosse Pointe Woods in that it doesn’t require a license, shot records and a $20 pass (predicated on the license and shot records AND proof of $100,000 in personal liability insurance). It just requires you show up with your dog, so that’s what we did. She played with at least five others pups, and they all enjoyed sniffing each others’ butts and precious bodily fluids:


Now she’s asleep next to me on the couch. Dreaming of that huge Bouvier des Flandres, I’m sure.

So a quick pass through the bloggage:

Benghazi-Benghazi-Beetlejuice! Hillary held her own. More than held her own. Which means what? The hearings will continue. The GOP is so hungry for blood they’re eating their own legs. Here’s a human-element piece about the emails; you’ll like it.

I loved Jan Hooks on Saturday Night Live — she and Phil Hartman were some of my favorite performers of that era. Grantland looks at her unconventional career, a year after her death at 57.

You know those raunchy banners frats hang during back-to-school week? They’re not so bad. Found myself liking this more than I expected.

Oh, weekend. Where have you been?

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 65 Comments


I went home from work early today, feeling like crap. Might be the early warnings of a cold, might just be a lack of sleep. In the meantime, here’s another flower picture:


A 20-minute nap helped a little. I took Wendy out for her evening walk just at twilight, a freakishly warm one. Here’s another tweaked picture, but the original didn’t quite capture what it was like to come across this yellow beauty gathering all the fading light for itself. So I helped it a little:


Now I’m going to swallow some melatonin and hope for six or seven solid hours. Enjoy yourselves today.

Posted at 12:15 am in Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments


The Flower House has me looking at plants differently. Like, oh, this head of romenesco I snagged at the market on Saturday:


Granted, that’s an Instagram filter kicking the color up a bit, but the shape is all mother nature’s. Or rather, mother nature plus some selective botanical fiddling. Isn’t it pretty?

Monday and Tuesday were good days, in the sense that things generally went my way and the weather was nice and I didn’t blow out my calorie allotment and there were no traffic jams and life was good. This is why, when people whine that there is no “good news” in the paper and why can’t Hollywood make a movie about good people doing good things, they are talking out their ass. Because who would see such a film? We had an editor who used to handle the no-good-news-in-the-paper calls, and he would always point out that there was a good-news story in the paper today, and yesterday, and the day before that, etc. He would tell them what they were, specifically. They never even noticed them. Because most good-news stories are boring, and bad-news stories at least offer the sick thrill of learning that there are people in the world who savagely attack EMTs.

So sorry, not much to report or even comment on. There was this:

MARION, Ala. — Judge Marvin Wiggins’s courtroom was packed on a September morning. The docket listed hundreds of offenders who owed fines or fees for a wide variety of crimes — hunting after dark, assault, drug possession and passing bad checks among them.

“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,” began Judge Wiggins, a circuit judge here in rural Alabama since 1999. “For your consideration, there’s a blood drive outside,” he continued, according to a recording of the hearing. “If you don’t have any money, go out there and give blood and bring in a receipt indicating you gave blood.”

For those who had no money or did not want to give blood, the judge concluded: “The sheriff has enough handcuffs.”

Yes, it’s come to this.

More NYT, in a long but readable story illustrating why, exactly, it’s dumb to sleep with your co-workers.

And with that, bedtime calls me.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 67 Comments

The boat with the broken axle.

Contrary to my fears, Patti Smith wasn’t bad at all. A little reading, a little Q&A, two songs, a signing that was probably hours long (we didn’t wait in the line). The ticket price included a book:


She read from a chapter about life in St. Clair Shores, which absolutely nobody spells “Saint Clair Shores,” except for Patti in her new memoir-ish book, “M Train.” There are a couple of chapters about her life there, but the one she read from was about how they lived in a house on a canal and bought an old Chris-Craft Constellation, which they parked in the yard and poked around at restoring. (She doesn’t hyphenate Chris-Craft, either. IT IS HYPHENATED, DAMMIT.) Anyway, it took a while and Fred, her husband, would sit on board on summer nights and listen to the Tigers “on shortwave radio,” another weird touch, as a plain old transistor AM model would do. She read a line that rang a distant bell in my brain, but it took my smart husband, reading it in the book later, to point out:

“It turned out that our wooden boat had a broken axle…”

The boat came to a bad end before they got it fixed up, and that was probably for the best, because I don’t think they would have been safe out there on the water, even if they had fixed that axle.

I was most relieved by the fact she seemed as put off by stupid questions as I have been by their inclusion in every story about her for the past million years. Where should artists go to create? That sort of thing. She had a puppet in her pocket; she explained she’s a grandmother now, and she answered that one in the puppet voice.

So all in all, a successful evening. It was a beautiful night, and that helped:


Now I’m watching the Democratic debate, so to speak, although I have little patience for this bullshit of late. I hate everything about it, so I’m going to turn it off very soon. It’s only a matter of time before these events start to include actual dogs and ponies. Let’s skip to the bloggage:

Would you like to be depressed about mass shootings? Read Malcolm Gladwell on the subject:

In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restrictions on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.

That’s the final paragraph. The previous zillion are no more heartening.

And if you grew up reading the funnies, as I imagine a lot of us did, you might enjoy this piece on the evolution of “Peanuts,” which was simply enormous as a pop-cultural force when I was a kid, but slid into irrelevancy and by the end of Charles Schulz’ life, a pastel shadow if its former self. Of course it’s still running in hundreds of papers, as reruns. Ai-yi-yi.

Posted at 12:17 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments

Too many shiny objects.

I’m resolving to read more this fall and winter – for pleasure, not work, which means books, mostly novels. In the last five years or so, I’ve amassed a decent-size library of e-books, which I read on the iPad with my Kindle app, but I’m thinking I’m going to throttle back. E-books, I’ve concluded, don’t really work for me.

Things I love about them:

* See a book you want to read? Click, click, click and it’s in your hands. Thank you, Amazon and those of you who buy through the Kickback Lounge — thanks to you I usually have at least $50 or so in my kitty, and it’s a snap.

* Traveling? Take your iPad, and you take a library.

* Reading something you might be embarrassed for the rest of the world to see? With an e-book, no one knows you’re a fan of erotic fetish fiction. (I’m not, I hasten to add. But I have read some.)

Things I don’t love? Let me count the ways:

* I wonder if I got any email in the last five minutes.

* Have I checked all my social networks lately? It’s been 20 minutes? Better check again.

* Who is this character again? Let me flip back and…dammit. Lost my place. Wait, where did this chapter start? OK, I’ll just enter the name into the search function and…have I checked my email lately?

* What’s the forecast for tomorrow? Fire up the weather app.

* Why can’t I touch the screen without turning a page? Dammit, lost my place again.

* Hey, that’s a nice turn of phrase. I’d like to screen cap it. Wait, I can’t? But I can highlight it? How am I supposed to share that with my social networks? Speaking of which, have I checked them all recently?

You get the idea. Like many people, the internet has so destroyed my attention span that it’s really better for me to read novels in a place where the internet has to knock like everyone else. I’m sure there are still going to be texts that go better onscreen — PDFs, some books for work, shorter pieces that really should be $3 (I remain hopeful for a return of the novella and Kindle Single-type short fiction), and, of course, erotica if you’re into that sort of thing. But “Fates and Furies,” the book currently on the nightstand, is positively wonderful, and my progress in it is terribly slow, in large part because I’m reading it onscreen.

I’ll tell you one book, or set of books, that are ideally suited for e-booking — the Game of Thrones pile, although I admit I quit halfway through book three and am perfectly happy letting HBO handle the storytelling from here on out. With their casts of weirdly-named thousands, I can tell you right now that if I didn’t have a search function, I’d have gotten mired in Westeros at least a book earlier. Why do so many authors of successful series become such bloated messes by book three? I never could get into Harry Potter, but I’m told by my less-enamored fans that it was like wandering through Overwritten Forest after the fireworks of success detonated. Same with Game of Thrones. Fortunately, one of my friends’ teenage sons is totally into it, and can answer any question about it at all. They call him the Maester. I’m going to put his number into my speed-dial.

So. I came upstairs today, after meticulously making my bed this morning, to discover Wendy had, once again, jumped up there and unmade it. She does it from time to time, usually if one of us is gone, and the other has done some terribly offensive thing like getting in the shower. Or, alternatively, she’ll do it when left alone in the house, although then, sometimes, she will also pee on it. Needless to say, this is why we leave the bedroom door closed when Wendy is alone in the house. It doesn’t seem to be any behavior she wants to change, so it is what it is. Shelter dogs come to us with biographies we usually know nothing about, and it’s probably just as well we don’t. But maybe you dog whisperers can explain this behavior. The bed-digging I figure has to be about our scent, as that’s where it’s strongest. So she jumps up there to, what? Reassure herself that we’re still about in the world? I’m a little baffled.

Good bloggage today. This is a good dive into the mindset of many voters in the red states, angry and resentful and wondering why they aren’t prospering and no one in Washington seems to care. My answer — that they’ve been carefully squeezed since the Reagan era by a set of economic policies designed to benefit the rich and cut the legs out from under people like them, all engineered by a party with a familiar, three-letter shorthand moniker — seems not to have occurred to them.

The Lewies and Veldhovens share a visceral dislike for President Obama, and much of their animosity for Washington seems entwined with their ill feelings about the president. The state of the nation, in their eyes, was at an all-time low.

“I think we’re at the bottom,” Ms. Lewie said. “It’s everything. Taxes, the economy, the government.”

“Our money is being wasted, wasted, wasted,” she added. “And now we’re paying more and more, and our debts are going up and up, and we need to stop the debt. We have to find someone that’s going to actually take control and say, ‘Stop spending.’ ”

Her husband said, “I don’t think it could get any worse.”

“The government is taking 39 percent now,” said Mr. Lewie, a little morosely, referring to the top income tax bracket. Not for the first time during the meal, he worried that high taxes would discourage the wealthy from producing jobs. “If they want 45 percent, they’ll take that and spend more. If they want 60 percent, they’ll take that and spend more. How much is enough?”

The Lewies haven’t settled on a candidate. But they know that their choice would probably be someone who had never worked in Washington.

They’re opposed to “regulation,” but seem blind to what too often happens when industries regulate themselves (hello, exploding China). They fret over taxes levied on the very rich, as though the crumbs from the table might not fall quite so quickly. And always, always, they assume that the answer to an incompetent political class is to sweep them out and elect another bunch of incompetents, who have no idea how to craft policy or compromise with one another to get it passed. Because if someone botches your knee operation, the obvious answer is to hire someone with even less experience to try again.

And of course they never make this connection, either: 158 families have provided half the cash in the presidential campaign so far. Never.

The next shooting war will be between Leaf owners, at least in Cali. We have these charging stations in Michigan, but they’re few and far between and I rarely see them being used.

So. No update tomorrow, most likely. A friend and I are going to a reading/Q&A with Patti Smith tonight in Ann Arbor. I had to have my arm twisted; while appreciative of her work, I’m not in the slavering hordes who greet her every utterance, scribble and doodle as Art. But my friend is a superfan, so that’s where we’ll be going.

In two days, then. Happy Monday, all.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 105 Comments

The sidewalk critics.

I’m thinking I might take a night off. Work is spilling into the evening, and I need to concentrate on one thing instead of six. It was a pretty good day, helped enormously by being pretty beautiful outside. I took myself out to lunch at a Middle Eastern place a pleasant walk from the office, and was rewarded with the opinions of two sidewalk bums, one of whom said I looked good in my jeans, and the other agreed: “Yeah, you still got it.” I know these things should bother me, but they don’t anymore. A couple of downtown rummies in broad daylight are about as threatening as a box of kittens, and some days they’re the only feedback I get — I left the house before Alan got up and by the time he gets home tonight, I’ll be well into dreamland. Yes, the UAW set a strike deadline tonight. If they’ve walked off when you read this, I may well not see my husband again until Thanksgiving. #autoeditorproblems

Proud to be Miss Detroit Bum America, Wednesday sidewalk edition.

A pretty day, and a beautiful morning. I took this in my back yard after the gym, maybe a half-hour before sunrise. I posted it on Instagram with a filter, but this is the no-filter version, which more clearly shows what caught my eye — the diagonal line of the moon, Venus and whatever the star at lower left is. I’m sure one of you folks know. Enlighten us:


So open thread today, and let’s hope there aren’t any school shootings or hospital bombings or anything, really, other than sunshine and puppies and friendly bums.

Posted at 12:20 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 31 Comments

How did I like them apples?

I’m doing another little mini-weight loss — I gained about five back, and want to be at fighting weight before the holidays ramp up — so I’m doing the mindfulness thing. Record everything you eat, but enjoy everything you eat. No mindless gobbling. Savor. Think. Slow down. You know the drill.

Which is how I came to be slicing up a Cortland apple at midmorning, just fortifying the blood sugar a bit, and thinking, Fall is the prelude to winter and kind of a slut with all its showiness, but the apples? They make everything OK. A good firm Michigan apple in October is one of those best-things-in-life-are-free deals that you should really savor. So I did.

To be sure, I’m sort of a pain about them. I’ve reached the point where even Honeycrisp, which seems to have rocketed to No. 1 with a bullet all over the country, seems insipid to me. From growers and sellers, I demand to know flavor profile, relative tart-to-sweet ratios. Don’t bore me with all that jazz about what’s a good baking vs. sauce apple. Is it good to eat? If so, it’ll be fine however I use them.

So it was I picked up a half-peck of Northern Spies, the legendary pie apple, on Saturday. Staff meeting Thursday. They start at mid-morning and inevitably run long, which means by the end we’re all dying of hunger and agreeing to anything, just to bring things to a stop and get the lunch hour underway. This time, I’m bringing Teddie’s apple cake. We will fortify ourselves with fruit.

And that’s how I like them apples.

Little bit o’ bloggage today:

Yes, it’s Robert Reich, but you gotta admit the guy has a point:

A non-profit group devoted to voting rights decides it won’t launch a campaign against big money in politics for fear of alienating wealthy donors.

A Washington think-tank releases a study on inequality that fails to mention the role big corporations and Wall Street have played in weakening the nation’s labor and antitrust laws, presumably because the think tank doesn’t want to antagonize its corporate and Wall Street donors.

A major university shapes research and courses around economic topics of interest to its biggest donors, notably avoiding any mention of the increasing power of large corporations and Wall Street on the economy.

It’s bad enough big money is buying off politicians. It’s also buying off nonprofits that used to be sources of investigation, information, and social change, from criticizing big money.

This is an issue the nonprofit world deals with, and thinks about, often. It bears watching. But hey, it’s early in the week, so let’s go straight to DATELINE FLORIDA:

Two years ago, Augustus Sol Invictus walked from central Florida to the Mojave Desert and spent a week fasting and praying, at times thinking he wouldn’t survive. In a pagan ritual to give thanks when he returned home, he killed a goat and drank its blood.

Now that he’s a candidate for U.S. Senate, the story is coming back to bite him.

The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida has resigned to call attention to Invictus’ candidacy in hopes that other party leaders will denounce him. Adrian Wyllie, who was the Libertarian candidate for governor last year, says Invictus wants to lead a civil war, is trying to recruit neo-Nazis to the party and brutally and sadistically dismembered a goat.

It’s an awkward situation for the small party that’s trying to gain clout.

I love that last line. Awkward.

Finally, one for you music nerds, via Roy’s Twitter, a lost piece by Lester Bangs, on Brian Eno. It’s amazing how much time even talented guys spend chasing women.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 40 Comments


It seemed the weekend was a magic carpet of possibilities 48 hours ago, and here it is, nearly gone. Oh, well. That’s what happens when you let yourself sleep in past 8 a.m. Sleeping in meant Alan could accompany me to the Saturday market, and we ended up having lunch at Vivio’s, a place known for its bloody marys. Of course I…had one. Had two, in fact. Day drinking = nap = more weekend gone, but what the hell. It was cold and windy on Saturday and what else are you going to do? I know people who did a sailing race Saturday. Capsized. I’d rather be at Vivio’s sucking up a second Mary.

Life is settling into its post-Kate rhythms, which are still unclear. Less junk food in the house (yay!), my car is mine again (same!), but of course, Herself is mostly gone. She’s actually home more often than someone “away at college” should be, but she’s gone Monday through Friday, and the house is quieter, and also cleaner.

I can’t say I spent the weekend doing much productive other than the usual laundry/errands stuff, but I wonder if we’re maybe reaching a tipping point on the shooting business. The crazies calling for MOAR GUNZ seem to finally be recognized as crazy, and a certain…angry silence? Maybe? Seems to be asserting itself. Eventually silence gives way to noise, and I hope it’s a useful sort of noise.

In other words, maybe the tide is turning. Maybe we can get there.

And in bloggage, I don’t have much, but I have this: People getting killed by trains, taking photos on tracks. I had a hard time understanding this story, and finally I figured it’s because I live in the Midwest, where trains are overwhelmingly a) freight; and b) relatively slow-moving. It’s hard for me to understand how any American train can bear down on a photo shoot so quickly that people don’t have time to get out of the way. But obviously it happens. HT: Hank.

Let’s watch this week unfold, shall we? It’s about to, whether we want it to or not.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 63 Comments

Two terrible benches.

OK, so let me get this straight: Last week, Noted Neurosurgeon And Healer Of Children Dr. Benjamin Carson came out in favor of letting junk science have a voice in the vaccine debate. This week, he said Muslims are not qualified to be president.

Prediction: Tomorrow, higher poll numbers for the doc.

Carly Fiorina lays smack down by describing a graphic scene in one of the Planned Parenthood videos that doesn’t exist. When asked to answer for this, she says, essentially, nuh-uh, does too exist.

Today? A front-runner.

Last year I wrote about that elusive creature, the African-American Detroit Republican. I had a great conversation with a black lawyer who explained the essential role in democracy of the loyal opposition — the people who disagree with you and stand in opposition to you, but still respect your right to govern. Good opponents make stronger parties, he said. And Detroit’s Democrats have grown so flabby from a lack of meaningful opposition that he thought that was his role in the city. (P.S. He voted for Obama. Twice.)

I think he’s right, which is why I’m so worried about this election. I can no longer take a certain sneering distance from this crew. As I said a while back, one malignant tumor and Hillary is toast, and the Dems have no bench. Bernie is a torch-carrier for the old left. Biden’s charm would evaporate if he were moved from the bucket-of-warm-spit job. And on the other bench? These guys. That guy. And her.

I have a sense of history, yes. I know this country has faced peril before, far worse than this. But I see people I know are intelligent sharing lunatic-fringe nonsense on their social-media accounts. Some batshit in one of my networks suggested the other day that I and others like me have “blood on our hands” because the president is vetoing the Planned Parenthood defunding. I had a class in high school, Communications, that taught me how to judge the veracity of a news story.

I guess they don’t teach that anymore.

So, it was a pretty good weekend. What happened? Can’t remember. Oh, right. Friday night, dinner at the Polish Yacht Club, a wonderful restaurant down in the old Poletown ‘hood. The streets around it are so deserted and sketchy that you tip the car guy — who only suggests street spaces, as there’s no parking lot — at least $5 on your way in. In return, he keeps your catalytic converter from being sawed off. Inside is Polish-food heaven, pierogis and potato pancakes and fried perch that’s out of this world. Also, Polish draft beer and Polish hospitality.

After that, we had a nightcap at the Raven Lounge:


Those of you who saw “Detropia” should remember it. It’s the blues bar in that movie. Too early for any sort of crowd. We paid the cover, caught the first couple numbers in the first set, and left.

On Saturday, a market day to make you sad, because it was rainy and the harvest is so plentiful you know it can’t last forever:


But I got my September sword of brussels sprouts, some nuts, this, that and the other thing. Next week I’ll be back. And so on and so on until it’s winter and there’s nothing to do on a Saturday morning but day-drink. (I’ll probably do that to, at least once.)


The most depressing thing about this are the comments from the nastiest wing of the childless-by-choice crowd, claiming a workplace that makes no allowance for parents is simply the way it should be, because having children is a choice, you know. Like raising shih tzus, apparently.

I didn’t expect much from “The Overnight,” which we watched via iTunes last night, but we were both pleasantly surprised. Dirty for sure, but still funny.

The woes of McDonald’s. I almost didn’t get past the first sentence, which reads:

Al Jarvis was 16 when he started working at a McDonald’s in Saginaw, a city in Michigan, in 1965.

I was born in St. Louis, a city in Missouri. Later our family moved to Columbus, a city in Ohio, and I didn’t leave until I relocated to Athens, another city in Ohio, for college. After that it was…you get the idea. Hello, editors? Wake up.

With that note, let’s get the week underway, OK?

Posted at 12:34 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 54 Comments

The dog park and the lozenge, and not much else.

Mostly pix today, because the day was long and the drive was long but afterward, with Alan working late on the UAW talks, I decided to call a friend in Midtown and take Wendy over to the Shinola dog park for some frolickin’.

Which we did. She frolicked with a four-month-old Chihuahua puppy named Scooby and a big lunk of a mutt called Dr. Gonzo. I think Dr. Gonzo’s dad was sweet on Scooby’s mom. Well, it was a beautiful night for hanging at the dog park. Tell me: Does every dog park have someone who brings a pit bull that charges around and gets on everybody’s nerves while his owner says, “Don’t mind him, he’s just a big sweetie”? Asking for a friend. Anyway, Wendy had fun:


On the way there, I was stopped at a light and watched this orange lozenge come around the corner, so small I suspected it was a remote-control toy. But as it passed me I could see a face in the middle, so it was something else. A couple hours later, after the dog park, I saw it parked in front of a trendy restaurant. Behold the lozenge:


As I took the picture, a voice came from a nearby table. “It’s a bike,” he said. I told him I figured as much. He said he’d been stopped for speeding. How fast? “Way over 30. I asked for a ticket, but they wouldn’t give me one.”

So, then, just one piece of bloggage while I wrestle a few big stories to the ground. When the Donald Trump era ends, what will it have accomplished? Waking up Latinos, says this guy. It’s a zag-don’t-zig take on this issue, and I recommend it.

Short rations this week, but I’ll try to keep the pix coming.

Posted at 12:21 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 128 Comments