The nut jobs in Lansing.

Normally my week is front-loaded, and gets less nutty as it goes on. Last week was…all-week loaded, I guess, topped off by two bad-sleep nights, and that’s why I couldn’t rouse the energy for three blogs last week. In other words, Excuse No. 23, i.e., I Dunno, I Was Tired.

Certainly there was no shortage of news last week, particularly in Michigan. The midweek display of wingnuttery at the capital certainly got its share of attention; nothing like a bunch of jerks standing in the gallery of a state legislature displaying assault weapons, perfectly fucking legally, to bring the wonderment of the outside world. I don’t know what to tell you about that other than: If you live in a state of any size, you might notice it is vastly different from one end to the other. When I was a journalism fellow, our BBC guy was amazed – amazed and appalled, actually – that there was no national driver’s license. All I could tell him was, hey, it’s a big country. There are parts of this state that are pure Tim McVeigh country, and others that aren’t.

(It wasn’t until just yesterday that it occurred to me these people may well think Covid is a black person’s disease, and hey, if it kills them, no biggie.)

Meanwhile, coronavirus is making its way north, inexorably, and it won’t be long until they get acquainted with it themselves. Not that this makes me happy, I should add. And knowing them, they’ll just say Gramma passed from the grippe or something.

So then, sweet weekend, let me fall into your embrace. The weather was perfect, and by perfect I mean: Per-fect-o. Temps in the 70s both days. Ran several errands on my bike, which made them seem like not-errands. Saturday job day, Sunday funday. Did a double circuit of Belle Isle after the chores were done. Picked up a bottle of Aperol, so we could make alcoholic Capri Suns. And I found my lost pen, my Mont Blanc, which Alan gave me when we were dating. I knew it was in the house somewhere, and lo it was under a piece of furniture that obviously doesn’t get vacuumed under enough.

Things are starting to open up, as they say. I won’t be there for a good long while. Every time I think it’s worth swimming in this deep water, I read something like this, about a 27-year-old emergency doctor who nearly died from this. And then I reconsider.

I haven’t seen a swimming pool since March, and I’m only hoping I’ll see one after Memorial Day. Sigh. It’s going to be a long two years.

In the meantime, I recommend you read this. It’s a wonderful story about how a young man literally 8,000 miles from Detroit found inspiration in one of the city’s more notorious natives. It’s really good, and deserves the love.

Posted at 9:02 pm in Current events | 58 Comments
 

The supply chains.

It was a few days before the lockdown, sometime in March it must have been. I was still working downtown several days a week, and as we often do, my editor and I walked a couple blocks to a fancy grocery store in search of lunch. Normally the place is pretty crowded at the noon hour, but there were maybe one-third as many people as you’d typically see.

I remembered that Quicken, the biggest downtown employer, was testing a work-from-home model ahead of an anticipated shutdown, still a few days away. I looked at the shelves of expensive cut fresh fruit, which would normally be walking out the door with well-paid office people, and got a glimpse of how these cascading dominoes would fall. No one buys the fruit, the fruit gets tossed, the order for more fruit cancelled.

Last weekend I thought I might try a new baking project: Bagels. But I’m running low on flour and the flour shelf at Kroger is as bare as the one for toilet paper. So no bagels this week. I recently read why I can’t get flour – because lots of people are baking now, and the flour supply chain isn’t set up for a flour surge in spring. In late fall, yes, during Christmas-cookie season, but not now. So no flour.

It turns out the American economy is like a spider web, and supply chains are the strands of the web, and you can’t mess with one without the whole web shaking. Or maybe it’s like an early Model T, back when you had to get out of the car to turn the crank starter, and if it wouldn’t catch you’d have to fiddle with the spark and the mix and if you didn’t get them all working right, you weren’t going anywhere.

I don’t have any great conclusion here, only that “restarting” the American economy isn’t going to be simple or easy. Every day I feel luckier to have a job. Every day I wonder what I’d know with the top economists in the world as close as the phone on my desk, and marvel at how one man who has that advantage could tweet about overflowing churches on Easter Sunday. Also, I’m interested in how things work, how cars are made, how the president can just demand that an automaker start turning out ventilators (because it’s so damn easy) how Big Flour sets up its own supply chains to get the wheat to the mills, etc. I suspect most people never even think of that stuff. I try to consider it from time to time.

I’ve been getting out more with the warmer weather. Everyone is still moving off the sidewalk when you pass, wearing masks and otherwise behaving as though their lives are on hold. This won’t go away quickly.

So, a little bloggage:

I stumbled across this podcast via the NYT’s “The Daily,” and was transfixed. Called “Rabbit Hole,” it traces one young man’s journey into the alt-right web, thanks to YouTube’s algorithm that kept feeding him more, leading him ever deeper. It’s really good. You want to know how radicalization happens? This is how it happens.

Also, this may amuse some of you students of bad writing. It’s a column by the former attorney general of Michigan, who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year. In it, he speculates that the reason the Detroit Lions suck and Tampa Bay can nab Tom Brady is? Anyone? Yes, state income taxes:

It is not too far afield to suggest Tampa was able to bag the “GOAT” because Brady’s nearly $60 million for the next two years will go yards farther in low-tax Florida than high-tax Massachusetts. Massachusetts income tax rate of 5.5% is one of the highest rates in America. They don’t call it “Tax-a-chusetts” for nothing. Florida has no income tax. Calling signals in Raymond James Field in Tampa, instead of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough could save Tom Brady a cool $3.3 million. Joining Florida in the zero income tax huddle are the states of Texas, Nevada, Washington, Tennessee, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wyoming. Other states in the Southeast and Southwest have low income tax rates and are in the game. But on the sideline, on the bench, are high tax states like Michigan.

Brady is not the only free agent to have presumably eyed the income tax rate landscape of NFL cities while planning for the future. The Miami Dolphins reportedly were able to snag Byron Jones, the top cornerback in free agency, partly because he favored Florida’s tax scheme over high-tax New York. The general manager of the newly coined Las Vegas Raiders, cited the move away from (Oakland) California’s sky-high income taxes as major incentive to recruit top talent due to Nevada’s zero income tax rate. Seattle’s rollicking, deafening and (zero income tax rate) crowd is often called the Seahawks 12th man. But, I’d wager low income taxes make for better touchdown dances in the end zone too. Just ask Brady’s favorite and newly acquired Tampa Bay receiver Robert Gronkowski.

What else does Massachusetts have, boys and girls? Excellent schools? Yes! A highly educated workforce and the businesses that depend on it? You betcha. How did they manage all this? Fairy dust, surely. That terrible sports wordplay – “joining Florida in the zero income tax huddle,” etc. – runs through the whole thing, too. Even a person who reads Albom regularly winced. Also, note how he suggests Brady went to Florida for the tax advantages, then just assumes it’s true in subsequent paragraph, where Brady “presumably eyed the income tax rate” in making his decision.

Oh, well. Wednesday awaits, and I have to get up early.

Posted at 9:33 pm in Current events | 130 Comments
 

Dog people.

If you’re one of those Extremely Online people, you’ve probably seen the Wall Street Journal dueling op-eds from a couple weeks back. The woodcut-type illustrations say it all:

I don’t have a thing against cats, but I’ve never had one. Alan’s allergic (he claims), and so we’re a dog family. Needless to say, Wendy has been a perfect colleague over the last seven weeks, better than an Apple watch for suggesting, maybe it’s time to stand up, stretch your legs, and…maybe take a stroll around the block? If that doesn’t work, she’s always up for a nap.

People do a lot of dog-walking around here, and when the weather was chilly, it was one place you might run into your neighbors. At the very least, you see another dog-owner, and you nod, or wave. If a person has a dog, there’s a good chance — not a perfect chance — that they have some decency to them. I respect anyone’s choice not to have a dog or cat or bunny or hamster, but someone who simply dislikes animals? Can’t trust ’em. Pets undeniably bring complications to a human life — vet bills and hair and more hair and sometimes middle-of-the-night barfing (thanks, Wendy). But there are so many rewards; they really do enrich your life.

So I was interested to read this piece in the NYT about presidential dogs. Especially this passage:

It’s true many presidential dogs have been used to help shape a politician’s image — cue Richard Nixon and his Checkers speech, or Herbert Hoover’s campaign photo of himself posing with his shepherd, King Tut. But surely the presence of an FDOTUS has other, less cynical effects. Is it so wrong to think that Donald Trump’s character might have been changed — just the smallest bit — if there were a dog beneath his roof?

It almost happened. On Thanksgiving in 2016, Mr. Trump’s friend Lois Pope told the president she wanted to give him a Goldendoodle named Patton (after the general). Ms. Pope thought it might be sweet for Barron Trump, the president’s son, to have a dog in the White House. She showed the boy a photo of Patton, and she said later, “This big smile came over his face, and it just brought tears to his eyes.”

But Mr. Trump told Ms. Pope he was too busy for a dog. Later, he told supporters he didn’t need one. Because “that’s not the relationship I have with my people.”

Maybe. But if he’d become the owner of a Goldendoodle, maybe he’d have had a different relationship — and not just with “his people,” but with all of us. Because a dog might have encouraged Mr. Trump to take himself just a little less seriously. Because a dog might have given him someone to love besides himself.

A man who watches TV all day, has a vast staff to take care of his household needs, including feeding, cleaning up after and walking the dog, gives a refusal that is not only insulting, but like everything else out of his mouth, fundamentally dishonest. And narcissistic. But not a bit surprising.

But you knew that.

A good weekend here. Got one room cleaned down to its individual molecules. Got a bike ride. Got Wendy walked a few times. Got groceries. Can’t ask for more than that.

And now week eight begins. Hard to believe, but there it is.

Posted at 9:52 pm in Current events | 72 Comments
 

The badge.

Sherri said something late in the comments on the last post, about how it’s time for the elected position of sheriff to go away, and mentioned Joe Arpaio. I’m agnostic on the position itself (for now), but she’s right about the office attracting a disproportionate number of lunatics.

Back in the…80s? Maybe? When the tax-protest began to gather steam, there was another group growing alongside them, the Posse Comitatus movement. You can google the Posse Comitatus Act, signed in 1878, but the part that applies to the movement is this:

The purpose of the act – in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807 – is to limit the powers of the federal government in using federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States. …The title of the act comes from the legal concept of posse comitatus, the authority under which a county sheriff, or other law officer, conscripts any able-bodied person to assist in keeping the peace.

These lunatics read this to mean: They don’t have to follow any damn laws they don’t want, at least none that federal law enforcement are involved in (like tax protest). And the only legal authority they respect is the county sheriff.

Now, I’ve mainly lived in urban areas my whole life, where the county sheriff worked more or less like the city police chief, enforcing the law in the unincorporated areas of the county. But as the divide grew between whiter, more affluent suburbs and blacker cities, the divide between law enforcement did, too. And lots of county sheriffs got kinda… full of themselves.

In Fort Wayne, the sheriff openly scorned the city, and referred to the county as a “donut,” the hole being Fort Wayne. He ran for mayor, perhaps after he was carried to a legal residence within the city limits on a litter, but lost pretty badly. (See Alex’s comments about the county GOP’s ineptitude in this area.)

Here in Detroit, where the suburban counties go way past mere scorn for Detroit, the model for the county sheriff is pretty different from that of the police chief. You can imagine how.

(Another weird Hoosier detail: The sheriff got a pretty good salary, in keeping with what you’d pay a department head, etc., but he was also permitted to keep a portion of all late property taxes he was somehow able to collect. Indiana is full of weird policy like this, much of it holdovers from the 18th or 19th century. As one of the the GA reporters, a native Bostonian, said in wonderment: “What is this? Medieval France?”)

Anyway, much of the tension in Michigan these days is around the governor’s stay-home order, and the fact Covid hasn’t really reached the hinterlands yet, at least not in the sort of alarming numbers that led to the order in the first place. Four county sheriffs up north have essentially said you can’t make us and announced they wouldn’t enforce the parts of the order they didn’t think were necessary up there.

I find myself torn between two common-sense ideas — that public-health directives are generally not made just for flex, and that local control is best. But one of the sheriff’s made a comment that had an undertone of sneering to it, and was ignorant to boot, something about how “fresh air” was the best thing for this illness. Unsaid: So let’s just get some and wait for it to skip over God’s country, as we all know it will.

Sigh. I grow weary.

So… what else? I am often weary these days, suddenly and without explanation. Zoom fitness, masked trips to the store and the same few rooms are getting on my nerves. Can’t forget the weather, which teases us with one 60 degree day, followed by a week where we’re lucky to hit 40. I told myself I’d go for a bike ride every day it was over 50, and there haven’t been many of those.

Just a bit of bloggage:

An old-style, crazy-polluter, zombie-wasteland steel mill is closing hereabouts. I’ve ridden my bike past the main-road entrance, and always wanted to go back to take a look, but security is very tight.

When a friend offered to take me trash fishing past it last spring, I jumped at the chance, just to get close on the water side.

It looks…foreboding:

The story about the closing is pretty good. We forget that well-paying work around here was often at the price of blowing black snot into your handkerchiefs.

That’s it for me, then. Stay sane, all.

Posted at 6:13 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 113 Comments
 

Astroturf.

Various news sources that have drifted past my eyes this weekend — I apologize, I didn’t pluck each one from the raging river, note the URL, then free it to float on — have indicated that the “grassroots” protests in recent days and accompanying social-media blitzes indeed are not grassroots at all. In fact, they may in fact be organized at a higher level, and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been so shocked since it came out that Liberace was not losing all that weight because of the Watermelon Diet.

When the Bug spreads back to the rural areas of these various states, they’ll die and claim they aren’t dying, they just had a bad reaction to the Watermelon Diet.

Hope everyone’s weekend was good. Mine was amazingly productive. Project Paint the Living Room is nearly over, enough that I had the distinct pleasure of mopping the entire floor with Murphy’s Oil Soap this morning. I was the only one up and the sun was streaming through the windows onto the clean floor. It was a Zen moment, like looking at a clean notebook page. There is still stuff to do, but the biggest part is done and we can move the furniture back in, which we’ll do as soon as I’m over the pleasure of looking in at a totally bare room with fresh paint and a clean wooden floor.

Does anyone else ever dream of houses? I hardly ever remember my dreams, and the ones I have are mainly of houses. (We’ve discussed this before, I’m fairly sure.) The other night, it was books. But mainly: Houses. Maybe that’s why I like looking at my new living room so much.

I also got Kate’s taxes done, did a deep clean of the kitchen, started Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” and got a few other things done. I also scored a 12-pack of toilet paper, so that minor anxiety is abating. We’re good for a couple months with that.

And now, it’s a little Criterion collection and bed. What a week ahead.

Posted at 9:23 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 124 Comments
 

Thirds.

From my reading of social media and the limited eavesdropping I can do while maintaining social distance, the tribes seem to be dividing into three. I would call them:

The fearful: These are the people who can not sanitize, wipe down, bleach or otherwise disinfect their immediate environment enough. Some of them can get a little hostile about it, if they perceive you are not doing the same. “If I see ***anyone*** outside my house without a mask on, I’m going to yell at them!” was an actual Facebook post I saw not long ago, and she was absolutely serious; a few more sentences of finger-wagging followed, all in the same near-hysterical vein. A Grand Rapids doctor posted a video on YouTube that, as we used to say but probably shouldn’t anymore, went viral, explaining how, in his medically educated opinion, we should be handling our groceries. Step one: Leave them in the garage for three days. I didn’t watch any further than that, but millions of others did, and this seems like the fearful Ur-text, if you will.

The what-me-worrys: The Rush Limbaugh listeners and their fellow travelers. It’s just a flu! I got sick in November, so I figure I had it! This is all a plot by the Dems to strip our freedoms away! Anyway, masks are stupid! Anyway, I work out every day in the fresh air and figure I’m immune! Anyway, I’m no pussy! The president said it’s a choice, and THIS IS MINE! Anyway, fuck off!

The rest of us. I wear a mask in an enclosed environment – a store – or outdoors if I have to be fairly close to others. I do not wear one while riding my bike or walking the dog. This doesn’t strike me as socially irresponsible. If this disease were so contagious that just breathing the air after an infected person passed through the area at some indeterminate earlier moment would get you, we’d all have had it by now. Anyway, if I masked up while exercising, I’d faint from oxygen depletion within half a mile. I’m not fatalistic about it; I take prudent measures. But I’m not spraying the bottoms of my shoes with bleach when I come in from outside.

On the other hand, I think I don’t have any of the co-morbidities that maybe the woman yelling about masks is likely to have. Other than being…kinda old, you know.

Still healthy, still sane. Still in a hot spot; god, these numbers.

Some of you asked about the demonstration in Lansing yesterday. I wasn’t there, can’t tell you much about it, other than this: If this was about policy, there wouldn’t have been so many Trump flags there.

What’s happening is, the divide I alluded to a while back is very real: Outside the cities, especially in the deep rural areas where the virus has not established itself yet, many people feel they’re somehow immune, and resent the executive orders from Lansing. An actual county sheriff said, in so many words, that fresh air would somehow “be the best thing” to defeat the virus. I guess some people gotta learn the hard way. Maybe they will.

With that, let’s move to some truly amusing bloggage, an obit of a climate denier, Fred Singer:

A chief talent of Fred Singer, the world-famous climate denier who died on April 6 at 95, was bullying scientists whose work he could never match, and whose findings threatened the bottom lines of his corporate polluter clients.

…Singer seemed to take special pleasure in discrediting scientists who investigated the ways that human activity threatens public health and the safety of our planet, the sort of research that informs regulations to solve problems ranging from acid rain’s toll on forests to DDT’s impacts on wildlife, as well as — of course — the effects of climate change on us all.

…Singer always denied that he took corporate money to spread disinformation, even after evidence came to light that he had: In a 1993 deposition, Singer admitted under oath that he’d been funded by coal interests, and had consulted for Exxon, Shell, and the American Gas Association on topics including climate change.

Just for fun, I googled up the Heartland Institute tributes to him, which only underlined the premise of the obit: He was a major asshole. As the obit points out:

They say you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but I spoke ill of Singer that day, and I feel no need to stop just because the bastard doesn’t breathe. What I saw that day was the face of evil, a detestable animal shoveling fine food into his fanged maw. Many have said to me in private that they also found him evil. That’s why evil persists: because too many fear risking the high salaries that pay for nice meals at French restaurants by speaking up in public. I would prefer to eat bologna sandwiches on stale bread and preserve my dignity.

As writer Anne Lamott once noted, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Nice way to end the week, eh? Get through it, we’ll talk later.

Posted at 8:13 pm in Current events | 89 Comments
 

Pay to the order.

The news today kind of overwhelmed me. It overwhelms me pretty much every day, these days. Local (giant cuts coming in Detroit budget), state (oh god), federal (oh god times a million). Plus, I was feeling a little punky today, but not with a dry cough and fever – just some garden-variety middle-of-the-night reflux that woke me up around midnight coughing and trying to find the Tums I knew we had but couldn’t find.

I never get reflux, and by never I mean maybe three times in my life, but they’ve all happened in the last 18 months or so. I suppose it’s a new wrinkle on aging. All I can tell you is, it ruined my sleep.

And just a few minutes ago, I learned that stimulus checks will carry the president’s name.

Why, I believe my sleep may be disturbed again tonight.

Sleep well!

Posted at 9:45 pm in Current events | 58 Comments
 

A big circle.

I make a to-do list every week in my hand-written planner. It’s not a bullet journal, but has some of its DNA. It’s not a calendar, but has some of that DNA, too. As the year unfolds, it serves as something of a work diary. I just turned the page for the week ahead and made a note: Week 5. Hardly seems possible, and yet: There you go.

At least this weekend was productive. I took care of body (bike ride), soul (socially distanced visit with friends, outdoors), and cleaned the bookcase in my office, which had become a ridiculous dump where I shoved everything, and subsequently couldn’t find anything. Among the finds was the pocket notebook I carried during my year in Ann Arbor. Best jotted-down quote: “I’m a journalist. My toolkit is demolitions.” Random note: “Norwalk virus in a dorm. Lines outside the stalls in communal bathrooms, signs on doors reading ‘sick.'” The most puzzling: “Image-kissing as idolatry.”

If anyone who knew me then can explain that last one, I’m all ears.

I told myself I wasn’t death-cleaning, but it is tempting to just pitch shit out. On the other hand, I’m glad I kept that notebook, even if I haven’t paged through it in years.

I also compiled a master notebook called KATE. Has all her report cards, PSAT scores and pages of unclipped school pictures. I always ordered the bare minimum, but we always had too many. Wallet-size were the dumbest of all. Who carries wallet-size pictures anymore? We used to pass them around in junior high school, but no one does that. So I have pages and pages, from kiddie cuteness through middle-school awkwardness into high-school loveliness. I’ll do something with them, but not sure yet.

Riding back from my friends’ house, I came across this teen hang in an otherwise empty parking lot:

This is becoming a more common sight, as the weather warms: People talking in driveways 12 feet apart, or in big circles of lawn chairs. We’re social animals, and the winter has been pretty damn long.

And now we start the next month of this. It’ll be in the 40s all week, dammit.

Stay well, all.

Posted at 8:16 pm in Current events | 56 Comments
 

One weird week.

Well, let’s see, what happened today?

Alan, on furlough next week, originally planned to work on the boat, get it ready to launch on a date TBD. But the boatyard is closed. Then he thought he’d go fishing, but the hotels up north, ditto. So he decided, instead, to paint the living room.

Today the governor extended the stay-at-home order, and extended the list of non-essential businesses to paint stores. This led to an explosion of activity downstairs, lots of loud phone calls, debit card numbers read, arrangements for pickup made (I’M GONNA SEND MY DAUGHTER IS THAT OK?) and then the two of them peeling out of the driveway in separate cars to get…paint.

Paint. This is such a weird period. My editor went to a Seder-on-Zoom last night. He complained there wasn’t any food, other than the matzo-ball soup he made himself. Tomorrow I’ll record a podcast about the week’s events, and I’m not sure what I’ll say, other than: Well, that was weird.

Me, I went to the grocery store. I bought Oreos. Fuck all y’all, OREOS. Because why not. Then I came home and wrote a column about the governor’s fashion choices of late.

Yesterday it was 65 degrees. I just looked outside and saw snowflakes driving down. Kill me now.

Thank god we have wine. Although it’s…the last bottle. And lord knows what will close next.

ON EDIT:

You’ll want to read this, as ghastly as it is:

Medical workers at Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace paint a grim picture of the hospital’s emergency department these past weeks as they scrambled to care for coronavirus patients: patients dying in hallways and nurses searching for body bags and places to put the dead.

Horrifying.

I wish I had more to say. We’re fine, we’re healthy, stay safe everyone.

Posted at 9:50 pm in Current events | 75 Comments
 

Black.

It seems to help to pay attention to things. This weekend I took note of signs in business windows. Some were hand-lettered, some printed on the on-site computer, some had obviously been designed by a pro and downloaded from Corporate. Sandwich boards, too, on the sidewalk — that was a thing. The longer ones explained they were closed for the duration, and seemed to take a lot of words to say so, about how much they valued their customers, but the governor has determined, etc. The shorter ones got right to the point: OPEN FOR CARRYOUT. We are OPEN. Call ahead for CURBSIDE PICKUP.

One restaurant put a sign in every window, written in Sharpie Magnum: OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN. Only for carryout, of course. But it’s the only lifeline most restaurants have. It’s worth making a display of.

My pet store has it totally dialed in. Not only is this place incredibly clean (even the animals that exist primarily to be sold as food for others, like the white mice, look happy) and super cheerful, they have conquered online commerce, and they’re a very small business. Either someone has a kid who does this work free, or they have a surprisingly large budget. Within just a few days of starting walk-up service only, they posted a new website offering most of the inventory online. You shop and pay, get an order number and a time when it’ll be ready, and then show up. They’ve rigged a doorbell on the sidewalk and a bench, where they drop your order for no-contact pickup. The employee wears a mask, but smiles beneath it, and you can feel it. Instacart, but for a little pet store. It’s great.

We pause for this word from Alan, who was driving to Belle Isle for some R&R and fly-casting:

Only in the Pointes, I always say.

Meanwhile, I dug up my mom’s sewing machine and made a proper mask out of this:

I folded and stitched it into an oblong and added a hair band as an elastic strap. Rudely Elegant was an empty movie theater in Columbus. A gay artist bought it and turned into a nightclub that was only open one night a month. The monthly party went all night long — not sure how he swung it with the liquor license, maybe by making it a private club or something — and had a theme, usually a color. I attended the White party, and the Red party, but not the Black party. That’s because Black = Leather and it was a very wild scene; I’d be surprised if women were even allowed in the door. Note the rooster. Nineteen eighty-one, in the Chinese calendar, was the Year of the Cock. I might still have the handbill announcement/invitation somewhere. There was a nude young man — I’m told he was an OSU athlete of some sort, very deeply closeted — wearing a mask, with a live black rooster blocking his privates.

All I got was the party favor, the handkerchief.

That year was also the first that AIDS appeared in the U.S. The party was in March, I think, and no doubt many of the people having party sex that night were positive. Anyway, pretty much every gay man I knew then is dead now, so it seems appropriate to finally pull out that hanky and make it my mask for the new plague.

And we head into week? Four, I believe. More ahead, but I guess we’ll muddle through somehow.

Stay safe, stay sane, see ya soon.

Posted at 8:14 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 113 Comments