Another few days.

Well, this has been a week, for sure. Actually, a week plus a few days, but whatever.

What a beautiful city. What a beautiful world. Lately we’ve been stopping to look in the windows at realty offices, scanning the posted listings for apartments, etc. And dreaming.

For about $1,500 Euro a month, we — OK, I — could have a tiny garret somewhere in Paris, your basic wee-living-space-with-a-sleeping-loft deal, in a halfway decent neighborhood. For 1.3 million Euro, hell, we could own it. I say I could have this space, not we, because this would require the sort of tight living space that’s hard for more than one person to inhabit. Ah, Alan, I would miss you, but you could visit your wife here whenever you wanted, and outside this box stall-size space? Would be Paris. But if we wanted to stay together all the time? Well, that would require a lottery jackpot. So we’ll keep dreaming.

The first week, we bagged peaks, as the mountaineers say. Louvre, Pompidou Center, Pere Lachaise cemetery, Eiffel Tower, all the stuff you have to see. The second week, we’ve decided, will be more casual, and today we moseyed to the Ile St. Louis for a stroll, lunch and more strolling. Lunch was a splurge, and we’re footsore at day’s end, so we’ll stay in, drink another bottle of wine, read and listen to the ooh-wah sirens rising up from the pavement outside. It works for me. I’m sleeping better than I have in a while. The espresso after lunch helps keep the afternoons active, as does the wine.

Overall, it’s been lovely, watching the people on the street, finding amusements where we can. We saw a string quartet in a gothic church, the wrapped Arc de Triomphe, the Global Citizen set at the Eiffel Tower. Global Citizen was some sort of round-the-world concert thing, this and that artist performing on stages here, in Los Angeles, other places. It was free to attend, but no way was I waiting in line to see Ed Sheeran and Elton John, and I’ve been served pieces of the performances on Twitter since everyone played over the weekend. That was the night we saw the quartet, and as we ate a late dinner afterward, watched the satellite trucks roll down the quay road.

Lunch today (the splurge) was fine. We read the reviews first and found a few one-stars, people complaining that the waiter refused to fetch a croque monsieur for their 4-year-old, “because we only serve French food,” or sneered at a wine order and said, “I’ll bring the wine that goes with what you ordered.” Our kind of place! For what it’s worth, they brought the wine we asked for. And the cassoulet was approved, probably because it was chilly and rainy outside. It was very good. I had the roast beef and the ubiquitous frites. Which were better than McDonald’s, my personal high standard.

I just realized that if you want to see some photos, I’m posting a few to Instagram, at nderringer. Easier than doing it here.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so I’m thinking another museum. More food, more wine. Update at some point in the future. Au revoir.

Posted at 11:25 am in Same ol' same ol', Uncategorized | 27 Comments
 

Tapping out.

If anything, today was worse, in terms of news. After the horrifying charade of multiple states signing on to this ridiculous Texas lawsuit, today we had Michigan legislators seeking to invalidate their own state’s vote because they are terrible people Republicans.

I have to dip out of this madness and into something, anything that is sweet, frivolous and/or makes me believe people are good. So I suggest you start with Hank’s review of the new Bee Gees documentary. Anyone who remembers the Bee Gees from that mining-disaster single through disco era will enjoy it, he promises. OK, I’ll be there, too. Glad this detail made it in:

It is here that “The Bee Gees” makes an enlightening argument for the kind of musicianship that happens at the studio control board. It’s not so much about manipulation as it is a startling degree of precision and perfectionism. “Jive Talkin’,” a revelatory new Bee Gees hit in 1975, was divined from the rhythm produced by car tires speeding across a Miami bridge.

I have a friend who tells Uber drivers this when he visits Miami.

Also, here’s a sweet remembrance of a recently departed mother by the Freep’s long-departed religion writer. (He took the buyout years ago.) I was particularly impressed by the mother’s experience with depression, at a time when depression wasn’t nearly as well-understood as it is now, and her lifelong management of it. I read it in bed this morning. It’s worth your time.

Hello, weekend. Hope yours is good.

Posted at 8:42 pm in Uncategorized | 89 Comments
 

I give up.

I thought we might have a day to discuss Melania’s feelings about Christmas decorations before something else barreled into the center ring, but apparently we’re to be denied even this.

POTUS and FLOTUS have The Bug. The weekend awaits. See you on the other side. Discuss.

Posted at 4:55 am in Uncategorized | 83 Comments
 

A vulnerable moment.

Today’s census factoid: On any given day in Detroit, 72 percent of the population is smoking weed.

Actually, that’s true of the rest of southeast Michigan, too. It’s legal, so no biggie, but it’s still a little surprising for anyone who remembers the illegal days. Some people open the door and it’s just: Whoa. The good news is, it sometimes works to my advantage. I closed two cases the other night with people who were glassy-eyed. Others are plainly in fuck-off-Karen mode. I try not to have hard feelings. Sometimes that, too, is hard.

But the days pass, the shift ends, the dinner arrives.

So much news. So much, much news. In just the last few hours, the Justice Department decided that when the president said, well, it seems to go like this:

In a highly unusual legal maneuver, the Department of Justice moved on Tuesday to replace President Trump’s private lawyers and defend him against a defamation lawsuit brought in a New York state court by the author E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.

Lawyers for the Justice Department said in court papers that Mr. Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied ever knowing Ms. Carroll and thus could be defended in court by government lawyers — in effect underwritten by taxpayer money.

Citing a law called the Federal Tort Claims Act, the department lawyers asserted the right to take the case from Mr. Trump’s private lawyers and move the matter from state court to federal court. The law gives employees of the federal government immunity from lawsuits, though legal experts said that it has rarely, if ever, been used before to protect a president.

Unbelievable. And yet: Believable. The corruption isn’t even slightly under wraps anymore.

Bigger post planned for later in the week. Stay tuned.

Posted at 9:58 pm in Uncategorized | 85 Comments
 

Lazy, hazy, crazy.

Well, I guess it’s been a minute, yes? Sorry, but I’m just not in the mood to do much these days beyond what it takes to make a living, stay in shape and put food in my body. The MurderSun of recent days doesn’t help. Our spare bedroom/home office gets morning sun, and the neighborhood lost enough trees over the last few years that I keep the blinds drawn so I don’t poach in my own sweat, even with the a/c on. So I sit in my darkened room, reading the news of the day and stewing, not poaching.

Also, been busy.

Had to take Wendy in to get her teeth cleaned, an appointment overdue by about a year. Mission accomplished:

I’d skip to the bloggage, but honestly I’m a little overwhelmed by it, still. So let’s just call this a thread reboot and wish you all a nice weekend.

And yes, if you’re wondering, the title of this post is to inspire another ear worm in Mary’s head. Mmmm-wah-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Posted at 3:46 pm in Uncategorized | 61 Comments
 

No blog today.

This is not our house. This house is two blocks away, however. We had a storm last night, a big one. So we have no electricity and no Internet and this is being voice dictated to my phone, uploaded via cell towers.

A substantial crew was trying to cut this monster apart, and a substantial line of neighbors was watching them do so. Some had brought picnics. They said no one was hurt, which is good.

I will leave you to the weekend and I hope you all enjoy it. We will see what the country looks like on Sunday. I hope I have electricity by then.

Posted at 7:22 pm in Uncategorized | 83 Comments
 

Lions on benzos.

We appear to have turned yet another corner, or descended another step, into the hellscape of 2020 – the Justice Department is now fully operating as a wing of the Trump organization. At least the prosecutors in the Roger Stone case have resigned.

I have a friend who periodically remarks how much 2020 is going to suck, in the runup to, and perhaps entirely beyond, the election. All I can think in reply is, as of 11:59 p.m., we’re one day closer and hence, one less day of suckage.

So, the other day I found this story in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, on Jordan Peterson, a Canadian…something-or-other. College professor, philosopher, “polarizing Internet celebrity” who rose from obscurity a couple years ago. Honestly, I’ve avoided learning any more than I had to about him. I know he’s popular with conservatives. He tells young men to clean their rooms, advice I 100 percent endorse. He has problems with feminism, probably because, well, I don’t know why, but here’s my guess: His clean-your-room advice is also accompanied by an exhortation for men to take their rightful place at the head of the table? Seriously, I don’t know. Tried to watch a YouTube and found his Canadian accent distracting, and the fact he’s beloved by people I mostly can’t take seriously sort of sunk him in my book.

But anyway, he’s been feeling poorly. After a run of personal tragedy (wife, cancer), he became addicted to benzos, and now he’s gone to Russia. Why Russia? Because apparently his daughter is nuts and by nuts I mean nuh-tzz. She lives on a diet of beef, just beef, calls it the “lion diet” and advocates others do the same. This includes her father, I remember reading. In fact, the daughter says, he was first prescribed benzos after suffering “an autoimmune reaction to food.” This may be the reaction where he ate something like a cookie and claims he didn’t sleep for 25 days. Not “slept badly,” but “did not close his eyes and slip into the unconscious state the rest of us know as sleep.” For nearly a month. Yes.

Maybe you’re thinking, this family sounds nuts. I absolutely agree. But it gets nuttier.

She said the family sought alternative treatment in Russia because they found North American hospitals had misdiagnosed him, and were prescribing “more medications to cover the response he was experiencing from the benzodiazepines,” Mikhaila said. “He nearly died several times.”

She and her husband took him to Moscow last month, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and put into an induced coma for eight days. She said his withdrawal was “horrific,” worse than anything she had ever heard about. She said Russian doctors are not influenced by pharmaceutical companies to treat the side-effects of one drug with more drugs, and that they “have the guts to medically detox someone from benzodiazepines.”

Jordan Peterson has only just come out of an intensive care unit, Mikhaila said. He has neurological damage, and a long way to go to full recovery. He is taking anti-seizure medication and cannot type or walk unaided, but is “on the mend” and his sense of humour has returned.

This man is truly a philosopher for the Trump era. Maybe he’ll stay in Moscow.

What else is happening tonight, besides the New Hampshire primary? The Westminster dog show! Which I cannot watch because no cable, but I’m pulling for all the dogs. May the best one win. Apparently the golden retriever pulled off an upset in the sporting group, so who knows.

As for me, I slept terribly last night and am headed for an early bed.

Posted at 9:02 pm in Uncategorized | 79 Comments
 

It’s Super.

Lovely Sunday. The actual sun came out for a while, the temperature topped 50 degrees, I got work done and a workout, and now I’m watching Alan tie flies and listen to KCRW as I wait for the Super Bowl to start. There’s a meat loaf in the oven, because MEAT. There are chips in the pantry, a ripe avocado in the fruit bowl. Low-rent guacamole may be on tap. And the groundhog didn’t see his shadow. I ask you, does life get better?

Well, of course it does. But this’ll do for today.

Listening to KCRW. That is, of course, the public station in Santa Monica, which means we could hardly be more bougie at the moment. But just being able to listen to it in Detroit is one of those sentences I never would have understood just a few years ago. Here’s another, which I heard just the other day: “Buster” — the speaker’s parents’ dog — “is an influencer now. He has more than 3,000 followers on Instagram, and now people send him free stuff. Like his new collar.”

I think Wendy could be an influencer, but I don’t have time to “curate” her “brand.” As it is, just typing the usual blizzard of hashtags these things require to become influential would probably give me writers cramp.

Back to KCRW: We just heard a sponsored-by tag for a “medical intuitive.” Which made Alan, the former health writer, ask what that might be. A quick Wiki, and we have our answer:

A medical intuitive is an alternative medicine practitioner who claims to use their self-described intuitive abilities to find the cause of a physical or emotional condition through the use of insight rather than modern medicine. Other terms for such a person include medical clairvoyant, medical psychic or intuitive counselor.

Oh, wonderful. I see some of them work by phone. I wonder if he could tell when I’m constipated, over the phone from Hawaii.

I understand why so many people hate doctors; our medical system almost requires that they be jerks. FWIW, the closer a doc gets to primary care, the more I like mine. My family-practice guy and gyno are great, and I was relieved that the orthopedist the first guy referred me to is also great. But I kissed two ortho-frogs before I found him, and there have been some real schmucks along the way. That said, I don’t think my arthritis can be cured through essential oils. but a massage would be nice.

However, paying someone to intuit what’s wrong with you is pure Goop-shit.

A little bloggage? Sure.

Bad news, Columbus: Leslie Wexner is about as bad as you’d feared he was:

Victoria’s Secret defined femininity for millions of women. Its catalog and fashion shows were popular touchstones. For models, landing a spot as an “Angel” all but guaranteed international stardom.

But inside the company, two powerful men presided over an entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment, according to interviews with more than 30 current and former executives, employees, contractors and models, as well as court filings and other documents.

Ed Razek, for decades one of the top executives at L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, was the subject of repeated complaints about inappropriate conduct. He tried to kiss models. He asked them to sit on his lap. He touched one’s crotch ahead of the 2018 Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

Executives said they had alerted Leslie Wexner, the billionaire founder and chief executive of L Brands, about his deputy’s pattern of behavior. Some women who complained faced retaliation. One model, Andi Muise, said Victoria’s Secret had stopped hiring her for its fashion shows after she rebuffed Mr. Razek’s advances.

The atmosphere was set at the top. Mr. Razek, the chief marketing officer, was perceived as Mr. Wexner’s proxy, leaving many employees with the impression he was invincible, according to current and former employees. On multiple occasions, Mr. Wexner himself was heard demeaning women.

I know, I know: Abuse at a cheap lingerie company? You don’t say! Still. Look at a picture of those two grizzled geezers standing next to each other and struggle to keep yourself from barfing. Time’s up, indeed.

The other big thing happening this week is, of course, the ultimate debasement of the party that once called itself grand and old, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the bottom yet.

Don’t have the gorge to talk much about that now. I’ll just leave you with…this. And see you later in the week:

Posted at 6:29 pm in Uncategorized | 70 Comments
 

Roofs.

I’ll be doing some miscellaneous mop-up posts from Morocco, although I am now back in the land of plenty — plenty of water, of water pressure, of a cloud cover so dense you doubt the sun exists at all, and, as Donald Trump is still president, of maddening bullshit.

Anyway.

We learned that when you rent a room in a riad, which is any building structured around an open courtyard, you are first shown to your room, and then to the roof. The roof is one of the attractions of riad life. Here I am enjoying Marrakesh roof life one morning:

(Pardon the lack of a pedicure. After Labor Day, I lose my patience for nail polish.)

Here’s the reverse angle, where I was sitting:

Nice place to lounge, eh? That low wall in front of my feet is the one that surrounds the open-air courtyard, so no one falls in and goes splat. The Marrakesh riad took the extra step of putting an awning over the courtyard, although it rains very little there. But the courtyard has wooden furniture, and I expect birds could be a problem. The view looking down into the interior:

Very nice. A couple of ficus-type trees next to a water feature, quite soothing. I’ll say this for riad life; you tend to stagger home after a day or even an hour of battling Marrakesh medina street life — the noise, the hustlers, and of course the goddamn scooters — step through the door and really feel like you left it behind. It’s nice, a design that makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, back to the roof. The French couple whose stay overlapped with ours took their breakfast up there, probably so they could smoke afterward. In the mornings, it’s quite pleasant at this table:

Then you step to the edge and get a sense of what’s below:

A rare quiet moment, there — most of the shops haven’t opened yet. This was a Saturday, so the kids weren’t in school. Note mama or grandma on her scooter. We stayed in a very un-touristy part of the medina; not so many Westerners along our close-by streets. You can see the building across is another riad, and if we lift our gaze a bit, you can see what looks like another well-appointed rooftop a block or two away; if you look closely, you can see a pigeon coop there, too. (P.S. Pigeons are for eatin’ in Morocco, but I didn’t have one.)

Looking left from where I was standing:

And no, I have no idea how you determine a property line in any of this chaos. But fortunately, it’s not my problem. But this is where we ate kebab sandwiches a couple nights instead of enduring the grueling Jemaa al-Fna, and listened to the final call to prayer. We bought them from a seller about a block down; he didn’t speak English, but fortunately at least one or two other customers knew enough to help us order. Yes, onions, yes, “spice,” yes very delicious. The French pastries we bought for dessert were easier — just point and hold up fingers for how many.

And now, yes, we are back. The laundry is done, the fridge is mostly restocked, and I’m going out for a new electric toothbrush to replace the one that died the day before we left. What crazy shit will happen in the week ahead? God only knows.

Posted at 12:41 pm in Same ol' same ol', Uncategorized | 29 Comments
 

Essaouira. (All the vowels!)

Essaouira — now I can hear my nerves sighing again. This is the Morocco I could get used to. The Mendocino of Morocco, with 90 percent less hustle, bustle, hustlin’ and bustlin’. Our Airbnb looks like a Ridley Scott film, blowing curtains and all, a pre-restoration riad that nevertheless is beautiful in its decay.

There’s one other resident. Pretty sure it’s the guy who owns the bookstore downstairs. This seems like the sort of message he’d post:

Today is our last day just to wander — we travel back to Casa tomorrow to catch our flight(s) home, routing through Germany this time, but ah well. Air Canada’s more reasonable fares made this trip possible, so I can’t complain. What will we do today, now that we BOTH HAVE COLDS? I’m thinking the beach, and a repeat visit to the grungiest, but best, fish restaurant in the world:

That’s actually looking away from it — gives you a sense of the neighborhood, which is the port of Essaouira. The opposite view would show a few tables, a few umbrellas to shade the punishing sun, a table covered with a tray of ice, and a grill. You walk up, select your fish from an iced array, and they throw it on the grill. No special orders, no fancy sides, just a tomato salad and fish so fresh the ink on its last will and testament is still wet. The port’s cats hang around for a few tidbits, and while Alan disapproved, Reader, I threw a few their way. Yesterday it was lemon sole and some sort of sea bream. Today, we’re thinking that, plus sardines and some prawns, although great big prawns kinda gross me out with their dirty assholes and all.

I’m also savoring the stuff I like about po-folks’ traveling: The way you get a sense of a neighborhood after a few days, figuring out the coffee situation in the kitchen, strolling out early for pain au chocolate and tissues; I’m happy to say that with a few phrases of travelers’ French, pointing and smiling, I’ve been able to successfully manage all my shopping, with the possible exception of yesterday’s quest for decongestants, which turned up something like eucalyptus something-or-other, i.e., useless.

Alan will be up soon, so I’ll send this off to the ether and enjoy the view from Ridley Scott’s well-dressed film set a little while longer.

Safe travels to us. Next update when all the laundry is done.

Posted at 4:12 am in Uncategorized | 31 Comments