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


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.


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

Marrakech. (Or Marrakesh.)

How is Marrakech different from Fes, you’re perhaps asking. In a word: More. Add an -er or an -ier or a “more” to everything, and that’s Marrakech. Faster-moving, louder, crazier in every way. Pushier. Hotter. More exhausting.

But we’re here, and we’re making our way. We’re staying in low-cost riads because we’re not in Madonna’s 60th-birthday party entourage, which means the taxi drops you at the gate to the ancient medina, and the person from your guest house meets you and escorts you the rest of the way, your bags going bump-bump-bump on the bricks or cobbles. Remember I mentioned that in Fes, you mostly walk, but there are also donkeys and occasional motor scooters? OK, with the -er intensifier mentioned above, in Marrakesh there are LOTS of motor scooters. Mopeds, Vespa-type scoots, even full-size motorcycles and they are not messing around. Five minutes on the street, and your heart is in your mouth, having witnessed 17 near-miss accidents that somehow never happened, praise Allah.

I’m talking THAT’S A GRANDMA OH GOD or WATCH OUT FOR THAT OLD MAN, or HELLO THERE’S A HEAD-ON COLLISION ABOUT TWO MICROSECONDS FROM HAPPENING or, from this morning, DUDE THAT IS A BABY IN A DAMN STROLLER YOU CANNOT PASS CLOSE ENOUGH TO STIR HIS CORNSILK HAIR LIKE THAT, and yet — this is all day every day. It’s just the way things are, and I guess people are simply used to it, because mothers let their children toddle in the streets and the only person I’ve seen being treated for any injury at all was a woman, a tourist, about my age, and it looked like she’d just twisted her ankle or something.

I’d include pictures, but the internet here is very very slow, so.

And you don’t even want to hear about the roads outside the medina, which are simply insane. To all of the above, add full-size cars, buses, horses and speed.

We haven’t yet seen the famous square, the Djemaa el Fna, in its full after-dark glory, but in broad daylight, it is a carnival of tourists and animal cruelty. On this, the guidebooks are clear — do what you want, but be advised that for every dirham you flip to a “snake charmer,” you’re supporting a racket that takes cobras, extracts their fangs, sews their mouths shut except for a small slot for their flicking tongue, then waits for them to starve to death, upon which they’re replaced. The “monkey men” are handling Barbary macaques from the wild, poached by criminal gangs and similarly abused. There were only a few out early today (it’s Friday, the Sunday of Islam), and yet there were fat Western tourists posing for photographs with both. Probably Russians.

But the worst was when I saw a horse slip and fall in the traces on the slick tile pavement. Horses can handle city pavement fine (ask any mounted cop) when they’re properly shod, but I expect that would require more money than a carriage driver can afford, or is willing to pay.

The horse successfully regained its feet, but ugh.

In other news, I’m listening closely to the calls to prayer, and am starting to pick out individual words in the chanting. Last Sunday it just sounded like moaning, but now I can hear the Alllaaaahu ak-baaarr, so that’s a start. And listening closely is sort of required, as there are lots of mosques around the older parts of the city, and that’s where we are.

Now back at the riad, reading “The Nickel Boys” and catching up on news from back home. I wish I could say it hasn’t come this far, but alas, it has.

Posted at 12:10 pm in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

Fez. (Or Fes.)

The thing about the medina is, it’s old. Old means narrow streets, some so narrow two people can’t walk beside one another comfortably. Sometimes it looks like this:

A quiet street. That’s the one that leads to the riad where we’re staying. It leads, after many turns and a couple of dead ends until you learn the way, into one that looks like this:

That’s the main road. Still pretty narrow, but depending on the time of day, hundreds, maybe a thousand or more, will pass along it. Most will be walking. Some will be pushing wheelbarrows piled with goods for the businesses within. Some will be driving donkeys or mules, ditto. Some will be on motor scooters, and no, I’m not kidding. And in the midst of it all, it goes something like this:

(Fade in generic Arabic music — ouds and percussion and a voice singing in that mournful-sounding, wobbly way that could be anything from a story of lost love to anything, really. No, don’t fade it in; crash it in, because we’re diving in.) “Bonjour madame come and see how we make the rug. Family business! Best price!” “Attention!” Look around, here comes a donkey or more likely a wheelbarrow because wheelbarrows don’t eat. “Madame, sir, are you looking for restaurant? I take you to restaurant, good food, good price.” Then a door opens, and it’s not marked, just a door, but there may be another door behind it, or maybe three doors, and out come 20 children — school’s out! And these kids are amped up, and running and darting everywhere, and now there’s a scooter and oops a tour group of Asians or Germans, and I’m pretty sure the Asians are Chinese and I know the Germans are German, because they’re saying “Was ist das?” and I’m not that dumb. Their guide is in a djellaba and kisses one of the Germans, man-to-man, big hearty laugh and they set off for their next stop, maybe the metalworkers souk or maybe the leather tanneries and my feet hurt and I’m sweating and you don’t dare stop because someone will try to sell you something and I’ve already bought a purse and two scarves, and maybe paid too much but I didn’t mind because it was still cheap and I’m a rich American and I’m finding I kinda enjoy the dickering, at least if they make it fun, and they do: “Sister, I have already given you my best price, you are stealing from me,” or the guy with one arm who sold me the scarves. “I don’t like the shiny,” I tell him; it’s a nice scarf but metallics aren’t really my thing, but he says, “I make you promise. You believe this Moroccan man. You wash in cold water two times and no more shiny. I promise.” And I laugh and then Alan walks up and I say, “This scarf is Fez blue. The Moroccan man made me a promise. Fez blue — very special,” and we both laugh and the man laughs and he says, “Your wife is good woman, you are lucky man. You are Rambo man!” And I give him about $10 for what I could probably get him down to $8 or even $5 for, but now it will always be my Fez blue scarf and shit, he has one arm and what am I going to do, win this one? And yes, this is all one paragraph but IT WAS A ONE-PARAGRAPH KIND OF DAY, YOU FEEL ME?

As we were finding our way back to the riad, I looked up at the tour group passing us single file going the other way, and coming toward me, unmistakable and unmissable: A man wearing a MAGA hat. Reader, I have no shame in admitting, as he passed me I barked “Fuck that MAGA shit,” and a woman ahead of me turned and smiled and I wish I could have played that one over the loudspeaker on the nearest minaret, because WHO DOES THAT? Here, of all places? Disney World, fine, I wouldn’t say a thing. But here? Talk about the ugly American.

He didn’t stop, I didn’t stop, we couldn’t stop — the medina has its own flow and you fight it at your peril. But I sincerely hope he heard me.

What else? Feral cats are as common as squirrels in Michigan:

Although there are other creatures:

This was near a poultry seller, and I’d bet that chicken is in a pot by now because they ain’t for decoration around here. Go to my Twitter or Instagram and check out the goats’ heads if you don’t believe me.

And that’s it for now because this is supposed to be fun, not a chore, and dinner time is approaching. Over and out from about a mile from here:

Posted at 1:17 pm in Uncategorized | 34 Comments


Alan just slept through the 6 a.m. call to prayer from this beacon, as seen out our hotel room terrace. I did not. So a quick update here.

That is the Hassan II mosque, one of the largest in the world. We’ll go for an official tour in a couple hours. It’s in Casablanca, our first stop, although we’re not staying long — it’s on to Fez later today.

I regret that my photography skills did not capture the laser that beams from the top of the minaret, pointing to Mecca. A very modern detail, that — the building was only completed in 1993, and one reason non-Muslims like us can tour it is, it’s considered as much a national monument as a place of worship. Honestly, it’s the size of 1.5-to-2 times (insert name of the largest indoor arena in your city — Staples Center, Little Caesars Arena, etc.) It can hold thousands. Really looking forward to this, and will wear long sleeves for the occasion.

Last night, after a three-hour jet-lag correction nap, we ventured out for dinner, choosing to walk rather than take a taxi. We are definitely not in Kansas anymore — so much boiling life everywhere, scooters, cars, families out for a stroll. So many children, too, a shock after years living in graying Michigan. They’re all wearing Spider Man T-shirts, etc. a reminder that American culture may be corrupt and the Great Satan and so forth, but we can sure make a comic-book movie.

More later. I’ll be posting pix on Instagram, cross-posting to Twitter, so if you really want to keep up, you can follow me there — nderringer on the ‘gram, nnall on Twitter.

And yes, I saw the story about the video shown at the Trump event. I hope there’s an America to return to in a couple weeks.

Posted at 1:32 am in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

By popular demand.

Hello from Montréal. Our flight to Casablanca is late. But I hear the clamor for a fresh thread, and god knows what the Sunday shows will bring. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be across the pond. (I hope.)

Here’s Wendy with her dog sitter. She seems pretty happy:

Hope to be just as happy in about 12 hours.

Posted at 6:21 pm in Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Fridays at church.

I bitch about my job plenty. Non-specifically and vaguely these days, as both my gigs are pretty OK for now, but my irritation with the business in general remains the same. But every so often I look back at a day, week or month and think, “OK, so the money sucks, but just this summer alone I got to go to Jobbie Nooner and see Kanye West sing with a gospel choir, so it beats actuarial sciences.”

Jobbie was in June, Kanye was Friday. I’m not a Kanye fan. Most days, if he passed me on the street, I wouldn’t know who he was. But he’s probably stronger on my radar than most hip-hop artists, and so, when I heard that he was bringing his Sunday Service act to Detroit on about 24 hours notice, I figured, what the hell.

Sunday Service is West’s latest flight of fancy — short shows with a locally hired and hastily trained gospel choir doing both classics, Kanye covers and other pop hits. So it was intriguing.

It turned out to be almost entirely the choir’s show. Kanye sang maybe one verse and left almost everything else up to his director. As choirs go, it was pretty unconventional, with the group surrounding the musicians in a rough circle, unrobed, only casually grouped by voice. This picture should give you an idea:

Can’t find Kanye? Let’s move in closer:

Still lost? OK, visual aids:

I read in the Freep’s review that Kim Kardashian was there, too, but in that crowd, she would have been just another body in a very big crowd. I didn’t pick her out.

It was an interesting show. I love a good gospel choir, singing Kanye songs perhaps less so, but I always respect an artist who’s willing to try something different, and this certainly was that. He held another thing later that night, at the Fox Theater, which turned out to be a listening party for his as-yet-unreleased Sunday Service album. Didn’t go to that one. A little Kanye West goes a long way for me.

And even though Kanye is an infamous MAGAt, it was nice to think of something else, if only for a couple of hours. It was a beautiful day to sit under the big tent of the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre and not consider the trouble the country is in.

I did more of that avoidance today, as our trip to Morocco is fast approaching. I wrote out a detailed itinerary, put all the Airbnb numbers in one place, so we can find them easily. I hope this trip is everything I need it to be, i.e. two weeks in not-America, paying attention to things that are not-Trump. I hope most the Instagram influencers have cleared out for the season. I hope it’s not terribly hot. I hope there’s lots of tea. I feel certain of the last one there. I also want to do some shopping, because I’m an American idiot and I love all the colors in the souks and OMG LEATHER GIMME GIMME.

Finally, we come to current affairs, and, well, I need a new emoji. One that combines the feelings of sadness, horror, contempt and simple OMG-is-this-really-happening astonishment that I walk through every day.

I also see shit like this:

Why does this woman even have a Twitter account? Why would she post stuff like this? So we can all dunk on her in the comments? Maybe so.

And so it’s nearly time for “Succession,” and certainly time for me to get back to my Frommer’s/Lonely Planet/Rough Guide Morocco texts.

Posted at 8:03 pm in Uncategorized | 70 Comments

Drain the swamp.

I’ve started and stopped this blog about 90 times since Tuesday. I started out inflamed about the MIT Media Lab thing about Jeffrey Epstein’s enablers, and hence the headline. Then 9/11 popped up, and I went down another dead end. In that spirit, I’m keeping the headline and much of the 9/11 chatter, and we’ll just get to the Publish button one way or another.

I’ve been thinking about 9/11 today, as probably most of you have, too, at least in passing. One thing I hear in the conversational buzz in both the digital and analog world is this: Remember how united we were, afterward? It’d be great if we could get back to that.

See, I don’t remember that.

Oh, there was unity of a sort. We all agreed what had happened was terrible. We all agreed something had to be done. We agreed in a rather vague, amorphous sense, that we were still The Best Country in the World, and Nothing Could Change That.

But I don’t remember any particular unity beyond that. Here are a few things I do remember:

Conservative Republicans pressing their advantage almost immediately. Disagreement with the president was frowned upon. We had to be united! Division is what the enemy wants! So we had to bow and scrape to every pronouncement – that we would “answer this” with fire and fury, etc. That GWB was the man to handle it; OMG can you imagine Al Gore? We needed this tough-talking Texan. And so on.

Even without social media, we endured the stupidest prole-level static imaginable. God, talk radio was insufferable. We didn’t have Facebook, but we had email, and memes. “If you have to fly, carry a small baggie of ham chunks, to throw at the hijackers.” “Did you hear that they found a full-size SUV under the towers with six uninjured firefighters in it? SUVs rule!!!” Here’s this thing Leonard Pitts wrote. Here’s this thing Christopher Hitchens wrote. Here’s something even stupider than the last thing I sent.

I don’t excuse myself from any of this; I was there, I was as crazy as everyone else. But lordy, I don’t look back on those days of grief and pain and fear as something I’d like to get back. Yea, Republicans and Democrats sang “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps. But about five minutes after that happened, the American flag started to be worn as a political statement and sartorial wish to turn Afghanistan into a sea of glass, not as an expression of patriotism. Who knew an Old Navy T-shirt could be so unnerving?

Anthrax. Also, anthrax. Yeah, that was no fun, either. That sense that what happened with the planes was only Act I, and soon we could look forward to car bombs and amorphous poisons sent through the mail — that was real unnerving. It didn’t help that there kept being more stupid stories in the media; even the lifestyle writers were pressed into service to ask whether high-end cookware might sell more now, because we were all eating in instead of going out. There was a piece on giving “comfort” gifts at the holidays. There was one on workout routines, for fuck’s sake; more women were taking up swimming, so if they needed to evacuate Manhattan in a big ol’ hurry, they could get to New Jersey or Brooklyn in the water. (As a recent open-water swimmer, I have some news for those gals: No, you can’t. Unless you can steal a boat.)

So no, I don’t have any particular nostalgia for 9/12, for the rise of horrible people like Pamela Geller and Instapundit and all of those. I did read this piece on Wednesday, though, which read in part:

The best of us rushed into burning towers in September or descended upon Afghanistan in October. The rest of us watched in stupefaction or satisfaction, or perhaps both. That goes even for direct witnesses of the great massacre, including me. We spectated. It was not two years later that the phrase emerged, not from Afghanistan but Iraq, that in the post-9/11 era only the American military was at war: the American people were at the mall.

It irritated me, only because it underlined something I’ve always despised, this idea that only first responders and soldiers can be “the best of us,” because man, have you been paying attention to what some cops have been up to lately? Did you hear about Abu Ghraib? But it wasn’t a terrible piece, and I read it, and thought, OK, now I have read that.

Today I surfed past the Indiana Policy Review site, to see if it’s still got my old colleague Leo writing his airy, dismissive, who-really-gives-a-shit columns (yes), and found this, by an Evansville attorney named Joshua Claybourn. Note that I’m posting it from one of the Indiana newspapers that accepts syndicated columns from the IPR:

The best of us rushed into burning towers in September or descended upon Afghanistan in October. The rest of us watched in stupefaction or satisfaction, or perhaps both. That goes even for direct witnesses of the great massacre, including me. We spectated. It was not two years later that the phrase emerged, not from Afghanistan but Iraq, that in the post-9/11 era only the American military was at war: the American people were at the mall.

And yes, for a minute I thought, wearily, JFC, another one? But I’m not entirely sure what happened here. Because besides Claire Berlinski’s blog and the IPR site, it also appeared on another site, Israel National News, also with an anonymous byline. Which doesn’t really suggest someone stole it, because it appeared more or less simultaneously at all three sites.

So is Josh Claybourn Claire Berlinski’s anonymous friend and the Israel National News site’s anonymous contributor? Or is some other funny business going on?

I DM’d Claybourn on Twitter. He is indeed Claire’s correspondent. And what are the odds that I, of all people, saw both pieces in the course of two days? I’m probably the only one. What a distinction. Why can’t this happen for the Powerball?

OK, so that’s it. I’m still gathering my thoughts on Epstein’s enablers, and maybe that’ll gel over the weekend. For now, I’m done, and you all have a great weekend. I’m getting my hair cut.

Posted at 7:30 pm in Current events, Media, Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Shrinking pains.

My little narcissistic suburb is going through some agonies at the moment — falling enrollment in the schools, which leads to less state aid for education, which means schools operating well under capacity, which means schools closing. This is a community that Values Education, which means these decisions are Fraught With Drama, with lots of Impassioned Speeches at the Podium, etc.

Last night they voted to close two elementary schools and reconfigure middle school into a 5-8 arrangement. OMG THE DRAMA TODAY. But it made me think about my own schoolin’, way back when, and how it compares to the educational trends of today.

My high school class was around…750. Whew. Peak of the baby boom, 1957 was. We only had three grades in the building, so we’re talking over 2,000 kids under one roof. Nowadays that would be considered a warehouse, an abuse factory, a place where kids can’t get Personalized Attention and a Supportive Environment, but man, I loved it.

Two thousand kids in one building means you can find 20 or 30 who want to take Russian, and hire a teacher to take them through four years of it. Two thousand kids means one-English-class-fits-all ends in ninth grade and for the rest of your time there, you take one-semester classes that can pick up everyone from the dummies (Reading for Pleasure and Profit) to the smarties (20th Century Novel/Poetry/Drama, plus about a dozen more high-level electives). There was World History, European History, U.S. History, Ancient History. Math and science were similarly diversified.

The other great thing about a big school is, you can get lost in it. With every classroom in use every period, there was no study hall — we had “free periods” in which you could go to the library, the open cafeteria in a non-lunch period or to the smoking area. If you were Nancy, you might also slip away to the trouper deck in the auditorium, various janitorial supply rooms or my favorite — the room under the pool, where the pumps and barrels of chlorine powder were kept. There was a window there that let you observe the swimmers underwater, digging their suits out of their crotches after a feet-first landing off the high board. The janitor was very cool and let us sit with him. My friend Jeff, a gay misfit, was a genius at finding these secret spaces. We spent a lot of time in them.

When I went to college, I found it no harder than senior year, and a lot more interesting.

I guess my point is, if your parents are on the job and your teachers aren’t total idiots, things tend to work out, no matter what your brick-and-mortar setup is. Also, schools in that period had not yet been defunded and charter-ized and otherwise manipulated by yokel legislators. Although they certainly were during Kate’s public-school years, and somehow she got through OK.

Might have been one of the lucky ones, I fully acknowledge. Probably was.

So, Wednesday dead ahead. I’d post links, but I’m tired and as we all know by now, anything I post today will be outdated in four hours. So enjoy your Wednesday, and let’s see each other going on Friday.

Posted at 9:41 pm in Uncategorized | 47 Comments