Face-toucher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballot of the living dead.

Voted today. Now that Michigan has no-reason absentee, I thought why the hell not. So I headed down to city hall, which has been upended for a year now, since a pipe broke and flooded the place. It was a year ago this week, in fact, and the rebuilding is still going on. But anyway: In through the police station, down to the basement, following the signs, and waited in line behind a couple who was there to spoil their ballot, ie., revote. Why revote? Well:

What a lineup there. And as I took the ballot out of the envelope, my phone beeped with an alert: Warren is out. Well, there goes that plan. I circled my pen up and down the long list, made my choice, and left. It’ll be interesting to see the results; Bernie won Michigan in 2016, but this year is…different. If Biden gets it, it’ll mean the electorate is, shall we say, in a mood. We’ll see.

I suppose by now we’ve all heard about the president’s interview with Sean Hannity Wednesday night? No? Here’s a taste:

“Well, I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number. Now, and this is just my hunch, and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this. Because a lot people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor,” Trump said.

“You never hear about those people. So you can’t put them down in the category of the overall population in terms of this corona flu and — or virus. So you just can’t do that,” he continued. “So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work but they get better.”

The president’s comments came after the House of Representatives approved Wednesday an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to tackle the burgeoning disaster, and as California reported the 11th coronavirus death in the U.S., the first fatality outside of Washington state. But that cost to human life did not align with the WHO’s statistics, the president argued.

I just got done editing a piece on why people who are having symptoms shouldn’t go to work, but probably will, because they don’t have paid sick leave, a policy that has been resisted for years. I can’t fucking stand this. We are the stupidest country.

Have a great weekend, all.

Posted at 9:08 pm in Current events | 76 Comments
 

Sayonara.

So Jack Welch is dead. Sorry to speak ill of the dead, but no big loss. Remember when he retired? And then he fell in love with some younger woman, and his wife spilled the financial beans during the divorce proceedings? It turned out that in addition to being paid 10 king’s ransoms in his retirement package, General Electric’s stockholders then put themselves on the hook to pay for everything in his life, and I do mean everything:

Following disclosure of his affair with the editor of the Harvard Business Review, the captain of capitalism has been painted as a ruthless womanizer who let his shareholders pay for just about everything–right down to the GE light bulbs in his numerous homes. Jane Beasley Welch has emerged as the modern model of the savvy corporate wife: so clever that she thought to include an expiration date in her prenuptial agreement–and stayed married long enough to pass it.

With perhaps $1 billion at stake, the Welch divorce is a primer on how wealthy couples uncouple. The case also affords a window into the benefits that corporations lavish on retired top executives–everything, in Jack Welch’s case, from sports tickets to the lifetime use of GE-owned jets, with charge accounts at flower shops and one of New York’s most expensive dining establishments thrown in as well. Mostly, this is a story about how a man who routinely crushed adversaries when he ran a Fortune 500 empire was stopped in his tracks by his own wife.

…Despite Welch’s intentions to keep things private, Jane Welch filed an affidavit in Bridgeport, Conn., outlining the couple’s “extraordinary” standard of living–much of it compliments of General Electric. The next day, the New York Times ran a long article describing how GE pays for the apartment the Welches occupied on Central Park West, membership fees at five country clubs and full staffs and services at homes in Florida, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

By Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission had begun an informal inquiry into Welch’s compensation agreement. Welch himself penned a column in Monday’s Wall Street Journal revealing that he offered last week to give up many of his retirement benefits–and the GE board accepted.

In other words, this titan of capitalism was…a welfare queen, basically. Light bulbs. Imagine the amount of cheek it takes to do whatever one must do to accept light bulbs from the people who thought they were investing in your company. Do you place an order? Does your household manager do it? Do they send over an assorted case? Or do you put in for reimbursement?

God, I remember that era – the ’80s, ’90s, around in there? Every third book in the bookstore was by one of these guys, delivering their secrets of success. (In airports, it was every other book.)

As the Washington Post’s Helaine Olen notes, Welch was really even worse:

Welch popularized the concept known as “shareholder value,” the idea that the primary duty of a company’s management is to increase its stock price for the benefit of shareholders. In pursuit of this goal, he bought and sold companies, shedding huge numbers of employees along the way. GE’s share prices soared. For this, Welch was celebrated: imitated by competitors and lionized by the fawning business press.

Never mind the fact Welch routinely closed GE’s Rust Belt factories and moved the jobs to Third World locales, where workers labored for less — much, much less — than the former GE employees. Never mind the fact that he cut funding for research and development, something that can undermine a company’s long-term health. And never mind the fact that the humane postwar arrangement between corporations and their employees — give us your loyalty and we’ll take care of you as best we can — ended in part because of Welch. He made money for shareholders, and that was the important thing.

So no, I will not be shedding any tears for Jack. Suzy Wetlaufer Welch – the woman he left Jane for – will come out ahead, no doubt. I’ve always said the best job in the world is to be the ex-wife of one of these goons. Maybe the second-best one is the widow, especially when you’re still young enough to enjoy it. The widow Welch is 61; she’ll be fine.

Oh, wait: There’s one more book on the stand. From 2006:

When Jack and Suzy met almost three years ago, they had much that seemed good in their lives. They traded it-his wife, her job, both of their reputations-for what they say is true love. The result was a storm the size of which neither one had ever seen. And now reporters are calling again. Jack and Suzy are writing a book about business strategy. Jack and Suzy have bought a house on Beacon Hill. Jack and Suzy are getting married. Jack and Suzy are in the news.

…Suzy Wetlaufer is not an easy woman to pigeonhole. She’s a Harvard-educated novelist, a brilliant thinker who some say was the best editor the Harvard Business Review ever had. She’s a devout Christian who attends Bible study regularly, but she’s also a woman who is partial to French manicures and shopping for designer clothes. She can expound on the situation in Iraq in one breath and blurt out things like, “Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs,” or, “Get out of town!” in another. When complimented, she may even exclaim, “I love you!” punctuated by a giant kissing sound. And yet, says Jack, “She’s the smartest person I know. I told her that on our second date.”

Good lord, imagine writing that crap. Why are all these little home wreckers devout Christians who attend Bible study regularly? Mrs. Gingrich, all the rest of them.

So now it’s Super Tuesday evening, and I’m watching the returns come in with the same blankness I’ve had all season. Just tell me who I’m voting for in November.

I guess we’ll know soon. Have a good hump day, eh?

Posted at 8:41 pm in Current events | 73 Comments
 

Customer service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No wonder I’m in such a foul mood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cats.

I see you guys have hashed out the Bernie Question in the previous post comments. I have little to add, since no one listens to me and I can’t change history. It’s looking better than ever that he’ll be the nominee, and as I am on record as saying I’ll vote for whoever opposes Trump, up to and including the Exhumed Corpse of Charles Manson (campaign slogan: Not me. Us. Plus whoever wants to hang at the ranch.)

But I am a worrier, and I expect I’ll be worrying up to and through Nov. 3. I have allowed a small crack of optimism to push through, thinking that with the right running mate and messaging, it might be possible to pull off a miracle. If Trump pardons Roger Stone, that won’t help. If there’s an undecided voter left in this stupid country, there’s no way he or she will be swayed by the idea of mercy for that smirking douchebag in his very elegant homburg, or whatever he was wearing over his hair plugs the last time he had his picture taken.

Speaking of which, Mitch Albom phoned in another one this weekend, about pardons. Like his Kobe Bryant tribute, it smelled of a quick Wikipedia scan. And like most of his non-sports columns, it was crafted to not exactly say anything that might actually be an opinion. After noting that “perhaps” it’s time to “rethink” the whole idea of the presidential pardon, he goes way out on that limb and says:

Now, before you scatter to your political corners, know that I say this not because President Donald Trump has used his pardon power largely as a means of rewarding supporters or getting back at enemies, but because other presidents have as well, and more are likely to do so in the future.

No, it’s not because a president is obviously abusing the power of the pardon, it’s because Marc Rich and Barack Obama, who “used his pardon power nearly 2,000 times, more than the previous five presidents combined.” Too bad he didn’t read deeper into that Wikipedia entry, where he might have learned that Obama’s pardons were overwhelmingly weighted to help people who had been convicted of non-violent drug offenses, most of them people of color. Marc Rich I won’t defend, but who’s still upset about that one?

That guy. I can’t waste another minute with him.

Anyway, a very nice weekend here. The sun came out and stayed out, and at the moment it’s quite warm. I’m considering a bike ride. Last night I took myself out on a me-date to the Cat Video Fest 2020. It was a me-date because I couldn’t find anyone else to go with me. Not sure why I wanted to see it; I don’t have a cat, have never had a cat, but cats are cool. My favorite cat videos of all time are the ones collected by a Tumblr blog called Indifferent Cats in Amateur Porn, but I haven’t been able to look at that since Tumblr required an account to look at anything on that platform. Needless to say, none were in the Cat Video Fest. Although Henri was!

Then it was home early, and what the hell, a rewatch of “Up in the Air,” a fine movie that shows off George Clooney’s laugh lines but brought me abruptly back to 2009-ish, when the film subsidies had lots of crews here — no duplicating that flat overcast winter sky. Also, where better to shoot a film about the collapse of the economy than here, where a film crew can get an entire abandoned skyscraper to shoot in? God, what a terrible time that was, and yet. I remember reading about credit swap defaults, then looking out the window to wonder why people weren’t rioting in the street. Then I’d make dinner. I ran across a line in a book review recently, about how we live in multiple timelines simultaneously, with history happening on one level, and what-to-have-for-dinner happening on another. That’s exactly right, and captures the strangeness of living through an era like that. Or like the one we’re in now, for that matter.

What else happened this weekend?

An important lesson was taught: If anyone offers you a ride in their homemade rocket, suddenly remember an urgent appointment.

I think that’s all. Good week ahead to the lot o’ youse.

Posted at 4:52 pm in Current events | 143 Comments
 

They’re coming.

OK, well, I guess we’re done now:

Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. Mr. Trump cited the presence in the briefing of Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who led the impeachment proceedings against him, as a particular irritant.

During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that he had been tough on Russia and strengthened European security. Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying that had the official who delivered the conclusion spoken less pointedly or left it out, they would have avoided angering the Republicans.

This is just the fucking cherry on the sundae, isn’t it? What a way to start the weekend. Have a good one, all.

Posted at 9:12 pm in Current events | 84 Comments
 

Fameballs, rolling.

So Kaitlin Bennett, aka Kent State Gun Girl, went to my alma mater Monday. It was Presidents Day, so she came to campus with her crew from …:::checking:::… “Liberty Hangout,” a subsection of …:::checking:::… ah yes, InfoWars, to do one of her fun videos. You know, just fun stuff! Presidential trivia! Fun!

Soon she was surrounded by a hostile mob and driven off campus, along with her security, rolling away in a big pickup truck with a TRUMKIN license plate.

Reading the WashPost rewrite of the student-newspaper story rather steamed me. It referred to Bennett, a young woman so nakedly ambitious that she launched her “career” by posing with an assault rifle in her cap and gown, as a “conservative gun rights activist.” She is in fact what the kids would call a fameball, a rolling thirst-trap train wreck trying so hard to get a gig in some Fox-type carnival that the dollar signs actually show in her eyes. She begs on her videos for Patreon supporters while she tries to push people into video confrontations that will get the wraparound-sunglasses crowd to throw her a few bucks.

She’s working the grift hard, that she’s just another humble merchant in the Marketplace of Ideas and not a third-rate provocateur on the order of Milo’s second assistant or maybe Ann Coulter’s luggage-carrier. But this stunt got a fair amount of publicity, and yet again, the fake-news MSM has treated a terrible person with more respect than they deserve.

Go, Bobcats. We know bullshit when we see it.

Speaking of people undeserving of respect, I see we’re upending the rule of law yet again. Besides the news about Blago and Milken, et al, there was also this woman, Judith Negron of Hialeah, Fla.:

Negron, now 48 years old, was sent to prison for aiding in a $200 million fraud case in what was then the country’s biggest mental health billing racket.

Negron was the only defendant in the case to refuse a plea deal and go to trial. She was convicted by a jury in August 2011 on 24 counts of conspiracy, fraud, paying kickbacks and money laundering in collaboration with the owners of a Miami-based company.

The scheme centered around American Therapeutic Corp., a seven-clinic chain that billed Medicare for group mental-health sessions that were either unnecessary or not provided to patients. The group’s patients, meanwhile, could not feed themselves or control their own bodily waste, according to prosecutors’ filings. Many lacked the mental capacity to respond to counseling and simply stared at walls or watched TV instead, raising questions about whether they were eligible for treatment.

Such a good woman shouldn’t be behind bars, don’t you think? She should have been on a chain gang.

The week feels 10 days long and it’s still only Tuesday. Grr. And so our republic continues to delaminate.

N.

Posted at 9:39 pm in Current events | 47 Comments
 

Big night.

Big weekend here. Kate’s band’s record release party was Friday night. The event was held in a bar with two other bands, and it’s safe to say the place was packed. Because it was. You could hardly move, what with their fans and those of two other bands all smashed into a not-very-big room.

And so eventful! The opening act had barely started its set when the lights went on and the music stopped. Apparently some guy, an older one, went down. I couldn’t see anything (crowded), but fortunately there was a registered nurse in the audience. He – the nurse – plays in his own band, Caveman and Bam Bam. The nurse is the caveman, and performs in an Alley Oop getup, and Bam Bam is the drummer. Anyway, Caveman is a pretty big guy, definitely the sort of nurse you want around when a patient of some size needs to be moved, or if someone collapses at a rock ‘n’ roll-type of event. I couldn’t see over the crowd, but his voice came through loud and clear: PETER CAN YOU TELL ME WHO’S THE PRESIDENT. PETER. MOVE YOUR RIGHT LEG FOR ME. And so on.

Here’s Caveman. He’s the one with the guitar:

So the paramedics were called, and they took the guy out, and I’m not sure what the outcome was, but the ambulance stayed at the curb for a while after the show started back up, so I have to assume he wasn’t in grave danger, or they’d have rushed him to the hospital.

Very exciting start to the show. The girls went on last, of course, it being their party, and they did well. They finally made a bit of money, too — a nice take at the door (did I mention how crowded it was) and about $800 worth of merch. A good night. They leave on tour in a couple weeks, and will stop at SXSW, if anyone is in the neighborhood. They’ll be at the Burger Records showcase; Shadow Show’s the name.

Oh, and the album is now streaming on all platforms. Call your local radio station and condemn it as injurious to today’s youth.

I drank two beers that night, and felt icky half of Saturday. On Saturday, however, I had an Aperol spritz, a nice glass of pinot noir and a manhattan to finish the night and feel capital today. So maybe it’s not all over between me and alcohol, it’s me and beer. Or just terrible beer.

A big week ahead, that I hope won’t be too ridiculous. I want to keep my weekends free of work, which means finishing it by 5 p.m. Friday and pushing back on any efforts to encroach on Saturday and Sunday. I have a hard enough time fitting my personal life and chores into the weekend; shouldn’t there be at least 15 minutes for recreation?

In the meantime, I leave you with two stories from our deteriorating republic.

This one is a lovely rumination on the fading star of Elizabeth Warren, by Monica Hesse, who usually has something interesting to say about gender in the early 21st century:

Loving Elizabeth Warren means planning for America to break your heart.

It means watching her tweet out an optimistic message after Iowa, and then watching how all of the early replies instruct her to defer to Sanders and drop out.

It means making sure to preface your pro-Warren statements with “I don’t have anything against the male candidates,” as if the act of supporting a female one was somehow misandrist in itself.

It means listening to people complain about her schoolmarmishness and quietly wondering what was so wrong, exactly, with sounding like a schoolmarm. What’s so wrong with sounding like a grandmother? What’s so wrong with her animated hand gestures, her cardigans, her preparedness, her laugh, her husband, her brain, her work, her femaleness, her voice?

It means hoping things will break your way but accepting that they probably wouldn’t, because America never quite seems to work that way, does it?

We’re gonna nominate Bernie and we’re gonna lose. I see it plainer every day.

Remember when Russia was our enemy, and we worried about propaganda slipping in under the door? The genius of Vladimir Putin may be that he figured it out. All you have to do to get Russian propaganda into this country’s bloodstream is write a big check:

In January, Radio Sputnik, a propaganda arm of the Russian government, started broadcasting on three Kansas City-area radio stations during prime drive times, even sharing one frequency with a station rooted in the city’s historic jazz district.

Sputnik’s American hosts follow a standard talk radio format, riffing on the day’s headlines and bantering with guests and callers. They find much to dislike in America, from the reporting on the coronavirus epidemic to the impeachment of President Trump, and they play on internal divisions as well.

On a recent show, one host started by saying he was broadcasting “live from Washington, D.C., capital of the divided states of America.”

Critics in Kansas City called Radio Sputnik’s arrival an unabashed exploitation of American values and openness. Those behind the deal defended it as a matter of free speech, as well as a simple business transaction.

Amazing.

OK, then. Off to enjoy an afternoon of soft sunshine and what’s left of my weekend.

Posted at 2:16 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 81 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
 

Dirty.

The snow is falling at the end of another weekend as I sit here, staring gloomily out the window. It’s not the pretty kind, so far, but there’s always overnight. It’s the time of winter when I notice the days getting longer, the air just a touch softer, the slant of the light just a little less severe. And a little snow wouldn’t be terrible, as long as it’s cleared by the time I have to … aaaand here comes a spell of scintillating scotoma. See you in 20 minutes.

:::20 minutes later:::

I try to thank the nonspecific spirits guiding the universe, the genetic lottery, whatever, for my health. Really I do. I’ve been lucky to stay healthy as long as I have, and I work at it, although most of it is just plain luck or blessings or whatever. But scintillating scotoma — occasional spells where my vision stars behaving like I recently dropped a hit of acid, lasting about 20 minutes — is a pain in the ass. It first showed up about five years ago. I saw a doctor and was advised to keep a diary of the circumstances around each onset, in hopes of finding triggers. I did so for months, and found no pattern whatsoever. Then they just stopped happening, and I thought I was past the whole business. In the last six weeks or so, they’re back. I’m fortunate in that they’re not harbingers of a migraine headache, which s.s. sometimes is. It just comes, messes up my vision for 20-30 minutes, then stops. As crosses to bear go, it’s made of balsa wood. Still.

The snow is coming down harder, and it’s a much prettier kind. Balance.

This was the first weekend of the Dirty Show here in Detroit, and even though we don’t swing or do any of that stuff, we went. It’s pretty much the same every year: 90 percent of the art is bad or at best forgettable, the burlesque is pretty great and the people-watching, without peer. A friend tells a story of seeing…I think it was a city councilman, maybe, at some earlier show, wearing a diaper and being led around on a leash. Nothing so wild Saturday night, alas. One dancer, a man, did a strip where he came out in a Gumby suit and finished in a G-string with Pokey on it. Pokey, get it? (You must be this old to get that cultural reference.) As for the art on the walls? There are only so many photographs of a woman’s abdomen imagined as a rolling landscape, or extreme close-ups of testicle-located hair follicles that I can see before the ol’ eyes glaze over. On the other hand, this was not forgettable:

We were home before midnight. But only by a couple of minutes.

Now I’m watching the Oscars, and trying not to think of who the president of the United States is.

Happy week ahead. Imagine what fresh hell might await.

Posted at 8:10 pm in Detroit life | 42 Comments