Breakin’ curfew.

Mama went out last night. Mama did not get hammered, but it was midnight before she walked through the door, and friends, I am no night owl these days. These are the wages of having 25-year-old friends.

Yes, that was the occasion: A 25-year-old’s birthday. “Congratulations,” I told him. “Your brain is now fully mature.” Then we destroyed a few brain cells.

We went to the Temple Bar, probably one of the last — I’m growing to hate this word, but it works — authentic bars of the old Cass Corridor, now rebranded Midtown and movin’ on up. The door has a buzzer to keep the worst of the riffraff out, although some get in anyway. There’s a bar dog, named Jameson. And last night he had a few friends in for a playdate; their owners/foster parents were wearing Detroit Dog Rescue T-shirts and having a few pops at the bar while four sizable dogs galumphed around, play-fighting and mostly moving too fast for photos:

ghostdog

After the visiting dogs left, the other bar pet came out for a visit. Here she is with the birthday boy:

ryanandcat

It was a nice evening. The internet jukebox had the Wutang Clan and Warren Zevon. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

So here we are on hump day, and here’s some bloggage for you:

Via Hank, a nifty piece of explanatory journalism on a heavy-metal drummer. Yes, explanatory:

At what tempo will a series of sonic events fail to register as a beat? Our conception of rhythm roughly corresponds to the span of the human heart rate, and Fox is curious about what happens on those margins. He says he’s been spending his free time trying to build the stamina to drum at the speed of a hum or a drone.

Just a very enjoyable read, which you’ll want before you plunge into the bummer of the day, yet another police shooting, this one in South Carolina. I am eager to hear the justifications that will be offered for this one. I’m also interested to hear what media gurus say about the increasing number of these incidents, as cell-phone cameras improve and improve and improve. I recall when J.C. and I first talked about bystander videos, back when maybe one in a thousand people might be carrying a small video camera when news is breaking. There was a helicopter crash where two people in the crowd were so equipped, and CNN was able to cut between angles. Then everyday digital cameras had video, and then they had better video, and so on.

I imagine the reaction will be something like this: Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying video?

Forty-six comments on my story yesterday on road repair! Hardly a record, but it gives you an idea of how strongly people feel about this issue here. I was telling the table last night, when I was talking to the guy quoted in the lead, and he was describing the pavement disaster that totaled his Honda, I was thinking, “Gee, this almost sounds like getting hit by an IED.” I asked, “What did that feel like?” He replied, “Like an IED,” my soul smiled, and I was happy. A good quote is a simple pleasure to a journalist.

Happy Wednesday, all. No more late nights for me for a while.

Posted at 9:38 am in Uncategorized | 30 Comments
 

Sockets.

So there I was at the oral surgeon’s office, sitting with Kate in the recovery cubicle, enjoying her goofy post-anesthesia brain, remembering my own experience getting my own wisdom teeth extracted in 1978. Like me, one of the first things she asked when she came to was to see her teeth.

The nurse showed me mine; they were in fragments. The doctor told Kate hers were biohazards, and had been thrown away. “Like any body part,” I said.

“Don’t people keep their placenta?” she mumbled through the gauze. Funny what bobs to the surface when drugs are roiling everything underneath.

There was a sign in the recovery area, asking that out of respect for everyone’s privacy, please refrain from taking photos or video. Jesus Christ. I guess everyone wants to get the next “David after dentist” Youtube hit.

She sailed through it, all things considered. Swelling’s not too bad, not even much pain, but we still have tomorrow to get through.

One last note: As I was getting ready to leave her in the operating room, the nurse wheeled in the cart with the instruments. They were covered with a paper towel, and it slid a little, revealing the serious heft of the handles. All at once, I remembered my own surgery, the nurse slipping the needle into my arm just as another one pulled the towel off the tray to reveal…instruments of torture. Hammers, chisels and is that a fucking miniature maul? It was.

No wonder I had a chinstrap bruise for a week.

Closing in on the end of a project about Proposal 1 in Michigan; the first two parts will be published at 6 a.m., and y’all can enjoy the fun I had trying to translate this into plain English. Policy ain’t my forte; I prefer people, and that’s my next assignment. Whew.

So, bloggage? Sure.

Eternally starring in the action movie running in his own head, a would-be hero suffers a flesh wound when his gun goes off in church. During the Easter vigil, no less.

The Rolling Stone report was horrifying, mainly because no one got fired, but also because the offending writer notes how hard it’s all been on her, so that’s good to know. This Slate story rounds up a few reactions that track with my own.

I’ve never heard of the Food Babe, but if this takedown is accurate, that’s probably for the best.

Onward. Good Tuesdays to all.

Posted at 12:47 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments
 

Day off.

Sorry, guys. My Easter weekend was packed, and now I’m trying to finish two stories while nursing an oral-surgery post-op patient, i.e., Kate, newly freed of four impacted wisdom teeth. New thread, and I’ll see ya later when I come up for air.

Suggested topic of discussion: The Rolling Stone fiasco.

Posted at 10:44 am in Uncategorized | 29 Comments
 

Not exactly #crucifixionproblems.

Another day spent staring at the screen. Maundy Thursday, right? I always liked to say that, although as a child, I mainly recall Holy Week as a series of going to church and not liking it very much. Especially Good Friday, when I was expected to sit quietly in my room or elsewhere in the house from noon to 3 p.m. and contemplate the suffering of Christ. (I didn’t.)

In Fort Wayne, the public library closed from noon until 3 p.m. on Good Friday. A public library. I wrote a column about it. The director said it would likely never be changed because it was an employee benefit, and benefits are hard to take away.

Of course, that was years before the great recession, when we all learned how easy it is to take benefits away.

But now it’s the end of the week, and the beginning of the weekend, and lordy, am I ready. So much to do over the weekend — write another piece, shop for a Mad Men dinner party, go to Toledo for Easter brunch, jump down turn around pick a bale of cotton. And on and on it goes until they plant you in the ground.

Maybe I need a vacation. A real one.

In the meantime, I need a bit of bloggage.

Of course, if Mad Men is firing up again, so are Tom & Lorenzo and their essential Mad Style blog entries. Here’s an introduction for you newbies. Sometimes I think they overreach, but mostly? Dead on.

The Hoosier Fiasco reaches a climax as the compromise on the IRFDA basically turns into a total skinback of the stupid bill. Two amusing asides, both passed along by friends there: “Mike Pence has done more for the LGBT community than any politician ever in Indiana,” and “I predict when Pence is out of office, no one asks him to head up a university. Maybe the Montana School for the Tall.” Yup.

If it’s Easter, it must be time for….PEEPS. Enjoy. And happy egg-hunting, y’all.

Posted at 12:25 am in Same ol' same ol' | 49 Comments
 

A day downtown.

I don’t get to the office as often as I should, although I do when I can, and I’ll be going more now that the weather is breaking and commuting isn’t such an ordeal. What’s the truism? If you want people to get things done, let them work at home. If you want them to be creative, put them together. Lately I have a lot to get done, so I’ve been staying home.

But today I went in. I had to do a radio show first, then headed to the office. Three doors from my building, a homeless man brayed, “You a sexy lady! Yeah, you like Beyoncé. You woke up like this!” I guess I should have scowled, but the thought of being compared to Beyoncé is so absurd I had to laugh. Another homeless guy heard this and added, “I second that!”

I should get into the office more often. The other day one of my colleagues was talking on the phone, looking out the window, and saw a hooker servicing a client in the alley, next to a dumpster. The best moment? When she stood up, lifted her skirt, turned around and offered the goods, and the john backed off, waving his hands hell, no.

She said that when she told this story later, the most common reaction is, “Did you record it?” No.

I realize those two anecdotes may make it sound like I work in some kind of cesspool of vice. I don’t. The hooker story was amazing, as Detroit has cleaned up its downtown and central city so much that you just don’t see that sort of stuff at all anymore, let alone in broad daylight. As for the homeless guys? Well, they have eyes, don’t they?

A little bloggage:

This has been going around a couple days, but it is hilarious and probably NSFW: Martha Stewart, absolutely killing it at the Justin Bieber roast. Of course she didn’t write the material, but she delivered it so well, you’d think she did.

Drew Miller, a Detroit Red Wing, almost lost an eye when he was hit in the face by a skate on Tuesday. Fifty stitches. Very scary. But when he appeared at a presser today and I saw the picture, all I could think is, when that thing heals, he is going to be the sexiest man alive. Scars are so fabulous, and a good facial scar is the best of all. I know how sick that sounds, but you’re looking at the country’s other No. 1 Omar fan.

The Hoosier fiasco continues. A friend there emailed this week to say, “I am fully fed up, fed up of course with dingbats who claim that RFRA doesn’t target gays, but also fed up with people who act as if this is an anti-gay Kristallnacht. It was a hamfisted sop by Rs for their reactionary base, a kind of consolation prize because the anti-gay marriage amendment was shot down. RFRA was a clumsy overreach by the ruling clique, and now they and Gov. FumbleBlunder are eating the shit they cooked in their own kitchen.” Shit cooked in their own kitchen — that’s it exactly. Meanwhile, here’s yet another analysis, by Amy Davidson at the New Yorker. There’s not a great deal new here, but a good turn of phrase that doesn’t bring to mind shit in a kitchen:

Pence said that the Indiana law “simply mirrors federal law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1993”—which is correct only if the mirror is the kind that adds twenty pounds when you look in it.

Have a great Thursday, all. We’re over the hump.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 33 Comments
 

Open for business, Hoosiers.

Alex sends along this snapshot from the Hoosier state:

openforbusiness

Meatballs and sausage? I suspect a friend of Dorothy!

Open thread today. The week is closing in on me.

Posted at 12:05 am in Current events | 36 Comments
 

Dark days in the Hoosier state.

I gotta tell ya, folks, I’m astonished at the blowback over the Indiana decision. Of course it can’t last, and it’s probably out of proportion to the offense; as many have pointed out, what about all the other states that have versions of this law? Why do they get a pass? I can’t tell you why, but I do know that sometimes the stars just align, and sometimes you’re standing where their light is most concentrated.

You know, like a laser.

On the other hand, this couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserving bunch of folks. It is enormously satisfying to see this legislature, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, writhing and blinking like moles dragged into the sunshine. Here’s David Long, the state Senate leader, and Brian Bosma, the speaker of the House, looking very uncomfortable, answering questions like, “Isn’t it legal to put up a ‘No Gays Allowed’ sign now?” Why yes, yes it is. (Note: You could do this in Michigan, too.) The governor looks more miserable and angry with every new interview and press conference. Keep in mind, this guy was a talk-radio host; if nothing else, he should feel comfortable in front of a microphone. The fact he isn’t should tell you something.

Here’s Matt Yglesias on Mike Pence, c. 2008. Just for the hell of it.

So I was thinking about our trip this weekend, and how nice it was. The train was definitely the way to go — no parking hassles, no driving hassles, time to catch up on some reading. It’s five hours from Windsor to Union Station, and this being Canada? Everything runs on time to the minute. (I kind of fell out with train travel on my Amtrak adventures in Indiana. The trains were slow and my god, were they late. When you are planning a weekend in Chicago, and you roll up to Waterloo to catch your train, and it’s hours late, only you don’t know that yet, because the station is just a three-sided lean-to with no connection to any sort of master control. No train? Just wait.)

What did we do when we were there? What we always do on city visits — walked around interesting neighborhoods, ate when we were hungry, shopped a little. (The exchange rate is very favorable now, which means that $65 cocktail hour was really a $52 cocktail hour.) Went to a good restaurant called Beast and a less-good one called Lisa Marie. Everything is small plates now, tapas-y stuff that you taste and eat and pass around. All things considered, it’s a better way of doing things than the meat/2-veg model.

We did have the best pho EVAR. Love pho.

Meanwhile, while we were in Canada, Kate was in California, enjoying a mini-spring break with a friend and with her nervous mother’s permission. They went to some two-day music festival in Santa Ana, staying one night with a family in Santa Monica, former Grosse Pointers who moved out there a few years ago. She came home referencing the strange SoCal slang she heard: “When something’s funny, they say, ‘Dude, that’s humor.'” It’s funnier when you hear it out loud.

But now we’re all home, and Wendy is very happy. The dog sitter spoiled her rotten, but now the pack is reunited, and it feels so good.

Just one bit of bloggage today, an NYT piece on the HIV outbreak in Indiana that got the gov to loosen his ideology in favor of human life. Very big of him.

I can recommend “Going Clear,” too, although it doesn’t restore your faith in humanity.

Time for bed. Lap swimming in the ayem.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events | 59 Comments
 

The $65 cocktail hour.

Hey, guys. We arrived late last night, and after all the decompressing and unpacking and mail-sorting, I had no time to update. Then, today, I start a brutal week with two projects circling for a landing.

So you’ll have to wait for the Toronto download. We had a nice time. I will never drive there again, although I will probably take a rolling suitcase.

In the meantime, just one bit of bloggage: This piece on the Indiana RFRA situation, written by an IU law professor who’s a friend-of-a-friend. If it doesn’t go viral, there’s no justice in the world; he does an excellent job nailing the specifics down, in simple, easy-to-understand terms.

I leave you with this perfect moment: Cocktail hour at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel, where we killed the last hour before the train left. I’ve been pinching pennies all my life, and am not one for many indulgences, although I’d love to just once own a really, really high-quality black cashmere sweater. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK? Anyway, we thought we’d have a drink, and the drinks were so good we had two. The waiter anticipated everything, bringing water without being asked, the wifi password, a little dish of salty snacks (that’s Alan bogarting all the wasabi peas) and, of course, two absolutely perfect cocktails — a Manhattan for the gentleman and this lovely concoction of vodka, champagne and raspberry deliciousness called a Bubbles & Berries. The bill? A mere $65. I think it was worth every penny:

cocktailhour

Talk tomorrow, then?

Posted at 8:57 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments
 

Auguring in.

It’s hard to stop thinking about the suicidal German pilot, isn’t it? The details keep sticking with me, especially the part about his breathing:

In the final moments, the sounds of terrified passengers filled the plane even as Lubitz — audibly breathing as a bleeping alarm warned of imminent collision — kept quiet through the end.

Heaven help us from a man who can breathe calmly through the act of taking 150 lives. It will be interesting to see how this one unfolds:

But as officials carted out boxes of belongings, including a laptop, from his family’s home in a middle-class neighborhood of this southwestern German town, questions centered on several months in 2009 when Lubitz took a leave from his pilot training.

Here’s hoping this isn’t a here-we-go-again deal. I can’t stand the stupid, as the kids say.

A busy couple of days, but a long weekend ahead — Kate is off on a solo spring mini-break, and we are off to Toronto, just for the hell of it. The house- and dog-sitter arrives in the morning, and I cleaned two bathrooms today. Vacations, even mini-vacations (this is only a weekend), are hard, until they’re not.

So, before we head off for the great white north, a few pieces of bloggage:

A sea change in Kentucky’s approach to heroin addiction. Via the HuffPost, which I don’t generally trust, but here goes:

On Tuesday night, Kentucky lawmakers passed wide-ranging legislation to combat the state’s heroin epidemic. The bipartisan measure represents a significant policy shift away from more punitive measures toward a focus on treating addicts, not jailing them.

The state will now allow local health departments to set up needle exchanges and increase the number of people who can carry naloxone, the drug that paramedics use to save a person suffering an opioid overdose. Addicts who survive an overdose will no longer be charged with a crime after being revived. Instead, they will be connected to treatment services and community mental health workers.

Speaking of drugs, and emergency measures, Indiana’s in it, too:

Gov. Mike Pence Thursday declared the HIV epidemic in southeastern Indiana a public health emergency and gave local authorities the OK to begin a short-term needle-exchange program to help fight an outbreak that now includes 79 cases all linked to intravenous drug use.

But Pence made it clear that allowing for a temporary needle exchange program does not reverse his long-held opposition to needle exchange programs.

Of course it doesn’t. He’s opposed to them, except when they work.

Fans of “The Wire,” and of the president — which probably covers everyone here — will want to watch this delightful conversation between Barry and David Simon, talking criminal justice and the war on drugs. Two smart people, jawin’. You’ll like.

A good piece by my colleague Ron on the obstacles in front of poorer high-school kids when they start to look for college options:

Michigan’s low-income high school graduates, as well as many of the state’s rural grads, enroll in college at lower levels than their wealthier, suburban peers. Those who do enroll are less likely to attend a four-year school, and more likely to drop out before earning a degree.

Some of that gap is because of differences in academic achievement that correlates stubbornly to family income. But there is another, less visible cause, one that involves physics tutors and strategically groomed extracurricular activities.

This is the after-school gap – an admissions-driven arms race that widens the already-broad college access gap between low-income students and their wealthier peers.

With that, I’m off to pack my suitcase. Good weekend, all. Eh?

Posted at 11:02 pm in Current events | 111 Comments
 

Beep torture.

Being a terrier, Wendy is a little high-strung, although not overly so. But today she came upstairs where I was working, jumped up next to me and cuddled up, trembling like a leaf. It took me a while, but I figured it out: There was a smoke alarm chirping with a dying battery, down in the basement. Spriggy was also high-strung, but brave as a mongoose, and chirping smoke alarms had the same effect. One day I came home and found him in an absolute lather — trotting from one end of the house to the other, panting, frantic. All over a little beeping.

And that? Was pretty much the extent of the news developments at this end today. That, and the usual household annoyances, plus 7,000 emails.

God, I can’t wait for warm weather. Thirty-seven degrees today was the best it got. Worst cabin fever I’ve had since…last year.

So a quick stop by the bloggage, and I’m headed to bed.

This site has been around for a while, but I’m just finding it: The Reductress, the Onion of women’s magazines. Case in point: Local woman wins stress-eating contest:

The third annual Häagen Dazs-Frito Lay Stress-Eating Contest was held this weekend at Morgantown County Fair in Morgantown, West Virginia. Eight competitors from the area took their places on the stage with one goal in mind: to stress-eat heaping piles of food until their feelings went away. But only one woman would come out on top: head server at Rocky’s Water Hole and recent, Mica Sullivan.

“I fucking deserve better, you know?” said Sullivan, in a rambling Facebook status posted at 3:14 this morning as she scraped the bottom of a bag of chips. “He’s trash.”

It appears Ben Carson is crazier — or just more offensive, in every way — than we thought. Here’s Carson and Armstrong Williams watching the SOTU:

“He looks good,” Williams said. “He looks clean. Shirt’s white. The tie. He looks elegant.”

“Like most psychopaths,” Carson grumbled. “That’s why they’re successful. That’s the way they look. They all look great.”

For those unfamiliar with the mood of America’s far right, casually branding the president a psychopath is exactly the sort of talk that strikes a chord—and just the thing that has made Carson a sensation in the GOP. Today the former pediatric neurosurgeon—who’s never run for elected office—is suddenly besting candidates like Jeb, Marco, and Rand in some 2016 polls and preparing to announce his campaign for the White House. As for the current resident, well, Carson is sometimes encouraged to cut him just a little slack before he hands over the keys.

Psychopath. Good one. Keep it up, guys. This is a winning strategy if there ever was one.

Facebook as the great publisher of the future. Oh, joy.

Killer Wednesday ahead. Expect…not much posting until Thursday.

Posted at 12:24 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 127 Comments