Amateur hour.

Alan and I went to the movies Saturday night, in another congressional district. Our stroll from parking lot to theater took us past a couple of yard signs for a candidate for something. I noted that I would be disinclined to like him based on the verb on his very simple signs: Not “vote” for the man in question, but “hire” him.

That one word tells me so much — that he’s likely one of those guys who thinks “making a payroll” is a core skill for the office, because running a plumbing supply house has so much to do with tax policy and balancing the greater good with constituent service.

I thought of that guy when I read Neil Steinberg’s excellent blog making the case against voting for Bruce Rauner for governor of Illinois. Like a lot of great writing, it starts out being about one thing, and takes its time getting to the thing it’s actually about, and makes you sit back and say, Of course. It’s hard not to break my three-paragraph preview rule with this one:

The Curse of the Amateur often afflicts wealthy men in late middle age. Having succeeded wildly in one field, their egos and ignorance are such they assume they can march into some other completely unrelated area and master that too. Henry Ford, fresh from his success at selling Model Ts, decided he would end World War I. He didn’t. Bill Gates, having made a fortune in software, decided to end the woes of Africa. He didn’t. Those woes turned out to be a problem bigger than money.

Can anyone glance at Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and not recognize the Curse of the Amateur? Here’s a guy, 57 years old, who never ran for anything, forget being elected to any public office. He’s someone who has never performed any kind of public service beyond very recently, after he decided he would be governor and started suddenly funding schools and firehosing the money he has so much of this way and that and calling it civic mindedness.

So he campaigns. And his ignorance of, his contempt for, the job he would take on, is so great, that he presents his utter lack of experience as his most enticing attribute. It’s pure hypocrisy. Who can imagine that Rauner would accept that logic in his own affairs? Who believes that anyone could go to him and say, “You know, your Excelo Widget Company isn’t doing so well. I am uncorrupted by any sort of experience making or selling widgets, so am just the man for you to bring in as CEO.”

Yes, exactly. I live in a different state than Steinberg, but this argument is common in politicking these days, and it never fails to rankle.

(A side note to rant about autocorrect, which is starting to loom as a major factor in my writing life these days. For every time it spares me from having to stop typing and fix a few transposed letters, it leads me into dangerous waters in another area. For example, when I wrote “Neil Steinberg” up there, it changed the surname to “Sternberg.” WTF? Apple has an autocorrect that doesn’t understand proper names? This is pissing me off. That said, I’m sure there’s a setting that can be tweaked, and J.C. will write to inform me of it shortly.)

The movie we saw Saturday was “Birdman,” (which autocorrect just changed to “Birman,” grr) and all of you with an interest in art, theater, compromise, self-doubt and any related theme are encouraged to go see it. I’m trying to keep up with the Oscar contenders this year, rather than trying to cram them all into the holiday weeks and/or on-demand cable in February. Last week we saw “Gone Girl,” which I was surprised to like quite a lot — far better than the book, which had me eye-rolling and skipping pages by the final chapters.

The other day I mentioned my love of boxing, and a few of you shuddered. I hope you will put your bad feelings aside and read this great profile of Bernard Hopkins, still defending two of the four major light-heavyweight belts at the astonishing age of 49. This passage sums up what I’ve started to appreciate in boxing, why I watch on the Saturday nights that HBO or Showtime has a card going:

Unlike most other boxers, who train down to their fighting weight only when they have a bout coming up, Hopkins keeps himself right around the 175-pound light-heavyweight limit. Fight people marvel at the ascetic rigor that has kept him perpetually in superb shape for almost three decades, his habit of returning to the gym first thing Monday morning after a Saturday-night fight, the list of pleasurable things he won’t eat, drink or do. But to fetishize the no-nonsense perfection of his body, which displays none of the extraneous defined muscular bulk that impresses fans but doesn’t help win fights, is to miss what makes Hopkins an exemplar of sustaining and extending powers that are supposed to be in natural decline. He has no peer in the ability to strategize both the round-by-round conduct of a fight and also the shifts and adjustments entailed by an astonishingly long career in the hurt business. He has kept his body supple and fit enough to obey his fighting mind, but it’s the continuing suppleness of that mind, as he strategizes, that has always constituted his principal advantage.

Opponents don’t worry about facing his speed or power. They fear what’s going on in his head.

A great read.

The week upcoming is going to be a crusher, with the election and yours truly working around it. So I warn you of the usual holes, gaps and scantiness, but I’ll try. In the meantime, I leave you with one more take on Ben Bradlee, which you should read just to get to this passage:

Meanwhile, the Post’s op-ed pages — that hotbed of stupendously clueless commentary that was separated from the Outlook section in 2009 — prominently featured on the same Sunday a piece to warm the cockles of Hayward’s heart: a fire-breathing offering from former Hewlett-Packard head and indefatigable John McCain crony Carly Fiorina. This bold tocsin, titled “A time for businesses to stand up to activists,” derides climate change activists who have targeted corporate boards in an effort to jump-start action on global warming. In Fiorina’s fanciful telling, business leaders now cringe in fear before a disciplined cadre of “well-organized, professional activists intent on chilling speech and marginalizing the voice of business and job creators in U.S. society … Their attacks on business’ protected speech and political participation are intended to sideline the entrepreneurial perspective and silence the opportunity for nuanced policy discussions.” Never mind that a standing armada of industry lobbyists has kept progress on climate change legislation on total lockdown for the past decade.

Let me pose a follow-up question to Ignatius’ sermon. Why would Bradlee’s old paper publish such patently distorted, power-coddling twaddle? I know from bitter experience that op-ed shops at major papers routinely repurpose these corporate PR briefs in their pages because they professionally adhere to a phony centrism. They believe that responsible journalism is the equivalent of a cuckoo clock display, in which one side warbles at the other and then retires to await its next formulaic set-to an hour hence. How can we have a nuanced debate, after all, if the poor speech-challenged business and job creators who already bankroll the entire electoral process aren’t also protected from dissenting views in their boardrooms or on editorial pages?

And don’t forget to vote, if you haven’t already.

Posted at 12:52 pm in Current events, Movies | 76 Comments
 

Boo.

Happy Halloween.

jackolantern

New and open thread, obviously. A good holiday to all.

Posted at 9:48 pm in Uncategorized | 75 Comments
 

Snack time.

Visiting one’s child’s school can be so…educational:

vending

This was a vending machine inside Kate’s high school, which would appear to be one of the new, post-Michelle Obama and her TYRANNICAL RULES OF HEALTH machines. If I make the picture big enough, I can see there is no shortage of salty snicky-snacky things, although they mostly appear to be made of popcorn. Baked mac and cheese puffs? OK, whatever. Dried fruit. The sweets are covered by granola bars, which I’ve always thought of as cookies with texture. As for the drinks, if someone can explain the totalitarian nature of Gatorade to me, please do so.

We all know the right wing hates the Obamas, and they especially hate the Obamas eating all their fancy city foods, but this one has always baffled me. To hear some people talk, school-cafeteria food used to be wonderful, delectable food with, yes, maybe a touch too much cheese or sugar, but what’s the harm with growing bodies? Do any of these people have children? Have they looked at a school menu lately? Have they ever heard of mystery meat? Kate’s school in Ann Arbor used to feature cheese-filled breadsticks with garlic dipping sauce. As an entree. (I always attributed this to Domino’s being a hometown brand.) I once arrived at a school in Fort Wayne for the free breakfast, which was a sweet roll the size of a softball. That was the status quo before Mrs. Obama tried to improve things. This is what they’re defending.

There was a story in the paper about the cookies at Kate’s high school — how popular they were, how they can’t be served anymore during the school day, and that’s a shame. But I do not miss the cheese-filled breadsticks, and if a few kids learn that black beans and rice won’t kill them, I really don’t see what the problem is.

Do I have some bloggage? Eh. I’ve been thinking about elections for so long I don’t think I can think about anything else.

Can you? Please do.

Posted at 9:55 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments
 

Counting it down.

Elections are a week away, and the day cannot come too soon. Between the Truth Squad and the public events and all the rest of it, it’s kinda like: Enough yakking, let’s light this candle. Although I will say, I’m usually impressed by the questions people ask at events like Issues & Ale and the Ballot Bash we did a few days back. I only wish the advertising that’s spewing from the firehose was a match for it.

I guess it could always be worse. Charlotte, tell us what you know about Matt Rosedale.

I think I’m recovering from my cold, but I’m still going to bed early. The rest of you, enjoy this outtake from Kate’s senior-picture session. The photographer, Bobby, has a soft spot for street dudes and they flocked to us that night. It was, to be fair, the night of the Tigers’ final loss and exit from the postseason. This was across the street from the ballpark, and though the game had been over for at least an hour or so by this point, the bums and drunks were thick on the sidewalks. This guy just had a sense of humor:

photobomb

Great lighting under that marquee, I will say that.

Have a good Tuesday, all.

Posted at 10:00 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 62 Comments
 

Bad boy.

I don’t know if Detroit’s proximity to Canada predisposes us to like America Jr.’s media offerings or what, but I’ve been a fan of Q, a show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi; it runs on WDET here. I guess, for lack of a better description, you’d call it the Canadian “Fresh Air,” only with more guests in a typical hour. Today the word is flying around that Ghomeshi was fired, with various hints at an ugly scandal lurking in the wings – Ghomeshi was said to have hired a crisis public-relations firm; the network said it had information that precluded it from continuing to employ him, etc.

An hour or so ago, Ghomeshi himself posted a statement on his Facebook that, if you take him at his word, has to be the very definition of a 21st-century nightmare:

About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady’s Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone’s business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.

Despite a strong connection between us it became clear to me that our on-and-off dating was unlikely to grow into a larger relationship and I ended things in the beginning of this year. She was upset by this and sent me messages indicating her disappointment that I would not commit to more, and her anger that I was seeing others.

After this, in the early spring there began a campaign of harassment, vengeance and demonization against me that would lead to months of anxiety.

It came to light that a woman had begun anonymously reaching out to people that I had dated (via Facebook) to tell them she had been a victim of abusive relations with me. In other words, someone was reframing what had been an ongoing consensual relationship as something nefarious. I learned – through one of my friends who got in contact with this person – that someone had rifled through my phone on one occasion and taken down the names of any woman I had seemed to have been dating in recent years. This person had begun methodically contacting them to try to build a story against me. Increasingly, female friends and ex-girlfriends of mine told me about these attempts to smear me.

I’m a big girl and know everybody has their own version of a story, and I also know I’m predisposed to believe the guy whose show I like, but still – do you come back from something like this? I’m sure some people do, but I can hardly imagine anything worse. (As expected, there are different versions of Ghomeshi’s private life floating around.) ON EDIT: Alas, it’s looking as though Ghomeshi is a garden-variety creep. Too bad. I did like his show.

So, how was everyone’s weekend? I’m still sick, but Sudafed is making things a lot more tolerable, enough that I ventured out for a bike ride Sunday — the glorious days are still with us, but every one feels like it could be the last for a good long while, so you have to enjoy them. Then it was home, groceries and being creative director on Kate’s senior-picture photo shoot, which I hope wrapped successfully. The rest of the weekend was sort of a fog of cold medicine and beer and Halloween candy pilfered from the giant Costco sack I bought. I wonder if it’ll last until Friday. We shall see.

Some bloggage? The Michigan/Michigan State game was pretty awful, as expected, mainly because of Michigan.

Has anyone ever made tarte tatin? I’m thinking of trying this recipe. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Posted at 9:04 pm in Current events, Media | 42 Comments
 

The inevitable.

As always, no matter how good you feel, you’re never going to feel that way forever. And so the entirely predictable fall event of a cold has descended upon my head, the reason for my enervating tiredness of late. I felt the first stirrings on a bike ride last Sunday, when every pedal revolution felt a little harder than it should have been. This was the day we got back from Stratford, so?

BLAME CANADA.

Although, it would seem, we are not blaming Canada for anything these days, but rather, celebrating their Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms for bringing down the terrorist who was bound and determined to shoot up the chamber on Wednesday. I assume he was wearing his ceremonial garb when he did it, prompting Josh Marshall to call him Lord High Badass of Canada, and I think that fits. If only he’d hit the guy with his ceremonial mace, too. Now that would retire the badass title for life.

So I’ve been laying low, taking care of myself, eating vegetables, but right now I’m thinking I’d like to do some damage on a pizza, just so I don’t have to cook. Alan’s off this week, and we’ve had our fill of family dinners, with and without Kate. She has a new job and is arriving home late for dinner the nights she works. The other night she texted and asked me to save her some chow. On a night when we had sausage, beans and kale? Not bloody likely. I think she made do with a PB&J, and counted her blessings.

So, is there bloggage? Oh yes there is.

Holy shit, is this ever excruciating: MarthaStewart.com advises you on how to throw a punk-rock party. Every paragraph is a groan-worthy gem, but I think this one takes the prize:

A full-on “nosh pit” is just what this punk party calls for. Offer a plate of Spinach Ricotta Skulls (a classically punk motif) alongside a bowl of Spinach, Bacon, and Onion Dip (for “noshing”). Lastly, mix a punch bowl of dark and delicious Spiced (and Spiked) Concord Grape Punch (sans vodka for the kids).

A nosh pit, get it? GET IT?

I have generally given up making fun of Mitch Albom here, but I took a second look at his Sunday column, a phoned-in argument against teen sexting, and realized his lede is so all-purpose it could serve for almost all of them. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

This will make me sound old, but I’m going to say it.

Really? I really think this is so perfect, we ought to just leave it at that.

For those of you worried about Coozledad, fear not! I spotted him in the comments over at Roy’s, and, y’know, he’s doing election work down in the Carolinas. He’ll be back.

So now I think I’m gonna take myself out for a gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich and tomato soup and wish you folks a good weekend. See you Monday, feeling better, I hope.

Posted at 6:30 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 36 Comments
 

Current affairs.

Link salad today, because I haz a tired.

It appears the story of the night is the death of Ben Bradlee, and as you’d expect, there are many wonderful words to read about this titan of the field. I recommend David Von Drehle in Time, an ex-WashPost writer with a great gift for it:

Charisma is a word, like thunderstorm or orgasm, which sits pretty flat on the page or the screen compared with the actual experience it tries to name. I don’t recall exactly when I first looked it up in the dictionary and read that charisma is a “personal magic of leadership,” a “special magnetic charm.” But I remember exactly when I first felt the full impact of the thing itself.

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee was gliding through the newsroom of The Washington Post, pushing a sort of force field ahead of him like the bow wave of a vintage Chris-Craft motor yacht. All across the vast expanse of identical desks, faces turned toward him—were pulled in his direction—much as a field of flowers turns toward the sun. We were powerless to look away.

This was after his storied career as editor of The Post had ended. I was the first reporter hired at the paper after Bradlee retired in 1991 to a ceremonial office on the corporate floor upstairs. For that reason, I never saw him clothed in the garb of authority. He no longer held the keys to the front page and the pay scales, so his force didn’t spring from those sources. Nor did it derive from his good looks, his elegance, or his many millions worth of company stock.

I realized I was face to face with charisma, a quality I had wrongly believed I understood until Bradlee reached the desk where I was sitting and the bow wave pushed me back in my chair. It is pointless for me to try to describe this essence, because in that moment I realized that it cannot be observed or critiqued. Charisma can only be felt. It is a palpable something-more-ness—magical, magnetic—as rare as the South China tiger. I’ve met famous writers, directors, actors, athletes, billionaires, five presidents of the United States, and none of them had it like Bradlee.

Or you can try Martha Sherrill in the Post itself, writing about his legacy in the Style section:

“Hey, Tiger.” He said things like that. He had lusty greetings, exotic epithets and obsolete profanities he got away with. He was unabashed, uninhibited. Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, who died Tuesday at age 93, was a Boston Brahmin but enjoyed being an improper one. A lesbian friend from his postwar Paris days wasn’t just “gay,” she was “gay as a goose.” A newly divorced editor with a revived sex life was “finally getting his ashes hauled.” The primal motive driving Jackie Kennedy Onassis was “she needs a lot of dough.” ¶ Men were divided into two camps: those whose private parts “clanked when they walked” and those whose, alas, didn’t. Women were judged differently. The only ones Bradlee didn’t seem to appreciate were humorless. “A prude,” he’d say, as though nothing were more distasteful. ¶ He passed on his sensibilities to Style, the groundbreaking “soft” feature section he invented and launched at The Washington Post in 1969, which replaced the toothless For and About Women. Style wasn’t for prudes. It was designed to entertain, delight, provoke, surprise and occasionally horrify, reflecting its founder’s infinite curiosity about society, appreciation for vivid storytelling and deep love of troublemaking.

Or just the straightforward obit:

Mr. Bradlee stationed correspondents around the globe, opened bureaus across the Washington region and from coast to coast in the United States, and he created sections and features — most notably Style, one of his proudest inventions — that were widely copied by others.

Sigh. The good ol’ days.

I see a few of you veered off on a tangent late yesterday — the OMG Renee Zellweger tangent. So, so sad. We must all clasp hands and thank the gods of our understanding that we don’t have to be pretty to make a living, because evidently it sucks. I would have liked to see what she looked like beforehand, because to my mind, what made her adorable was her wonderfully squinty eyes — she always seemed about to laugh. “Unrecognizable” seems to be the adjective that first comes to mind. I wonder about the plastic surgeon’s art; so many variables to consider. Elasticity, armature, that sort of thing. Oh, that poor woman.

A headline you don’t see every day: Drunken trombone-playing clown fires gun from garage, police say

Our governor considers himself very pro-business, except, of course, when he isn’t.

Let’s hope the rest of the week perks up, eh?

Posted at 9:43 pm in Current events | 51 Comments
 

It’s a tragedy, not a comedy.

When you tell people you’re going out of town to see some theater, they inevitably say “Have fun!” Even though it’s pretty much impossible to have fun at a production of “King Lear,” which is what we saw. It was Colm Feore’s Lear at Stratford, and it only underlined what I’ve thought since I saw him in only his third Stratford role in 1986: This Canadian is one of the finest Shakespearean actors in the world.

Some friends and I began making an annual Stratford pilgrimage when we all lived in Fort Wayne, and have gone back periodically since — first annually, but there was a long gap after Kate came into the world, but over the years we’ve seen Feore play Hamlet, Iago, Richard III, Cassius — all the bigs, not to mention the Pirate King in “Pirates of Penzance,” Cyrano de Bergerac, and so on. This review from the Toronto Star gets the production right, by my lights. It really was a good one.

But a little fun was had on a cool and blustery weekend. The fall colors were at their peak for the drive, and when we arrived at dinner, found ourselves seated next to this guy, another company standout. That’s the fun of a repertory company in a small town — you see Macbeth walking to work on a hot day in shorts and a T-shirt.

Tickets are pricey, though, so we only stayed one night. That’s the fun of living so close to the repertory — you can just pop in and out. Although this is the end of the season. But we’ll be back next year.

I had a Caesar at brunch Saturday, a Caesar being a Canadian Bloody Mary; it’s made with clamato juice. Just like so many things with U.S. and Canadian equivalents. Similar, but different.

I’ve been so done with the church of my upbringing for years, but I am SO so done now:

Vatican City — Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.

The bishops failed to approve even a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals that stripped away the welcoming tone of acceptance contained in a draft document earlier in the week.

Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families have to confront. It said “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy,” but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between man and woman. The paragraph failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Ohh-kay.

This story about my current home has so much wrong in it, it’s hard to find the right. Good thing it appeared in that obscure rag, the L.A. Times. It’s hard to say what’s the wrongest part; let’s choose a section at random:

In the last year or two, there have been complaints at the suburb’s premier park, which resembles a country club, with yachts listing quietly in the lake, bubbling fountains and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

“I do sense it from some of the residents. If there’s an African American picnic there, and people are hopping in the pool, I sense a bit of, ‘What are you doing in my park?'” said Paul Wargo, who mans the gates at the park.

“Yachts” list before they capsize; there’s no source for the “complaints,” which I don’t believe are happening, as there’s a well-established African-American population in Grosse Pointe Park; the pool is not Olympic-size; and if you’re going to quote a guardhouse employee saying he “senses” something, it’s reasonable to follow up with “how do you know all this, working in the guardhouse?

But don’t mind me.

I think I’m going to make some chicken salad. Enjoy the week, OK?

Posted at 10:06 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 76 Comments
 

The homestretch.

Sorry for my absence these past few days. It’s been ridonkulous busy around here, mainly during the evenings, which is my blogging time. It’s election season, which is the Center’s busy time, so night before last I was at a “Ballot Bash,” as we’re calling it with our media partners. This was the third meet-and-greet-the-candidates event, and it invited two Democrats — Gary Peters, running for Sen. Carl Levin’s soon-to-be-vacated seat, and Mark Totten, running for attorney general.

(Lest you fret, the GOP was repped at a Ballot Bash in Grand Rapids, and there was another one in Lansing. We are nothing if not bipartisan. It just worked out this way.)

Anyhoo, it was 10 by the time I got home. I get up before 6 for my newly healthy lifestyle, so — well, you’ve heard all these excuses. Many times.

But I’m sort of looking forward to Election Day. Even though three weeks later, I will mark another birthday and be that much closer to death.

To death, I tell you.

Fortunately, I will leave you with a few things to read:

This is great, a look at something I find puzzling — the weird culture of “emotional support animals,” for people who cannot leave their doggies at home even for a minute:

One person’s emotional support can be another person’s emotional trauma. Last May, for instance, a woman brought her large service dog, Truffles, on a US Airways flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. At thirty-five thousand feet, the dog squatted in the aisle and, according to Chris Law, a passenger who tweeted about the incident, “did what dogs do.” After the second, ahem, installment, the crew ran out of detergent and paper towels. “Plane is emergency landing cuz ppl are getting sick,” Law tweeted. “Hazmat team needs to board.” The woman and Truffles disembarked, to applause, in Kansas City, and she offered her inconvenienced fellow-passengers Starbucks gift cards.

In June, a miniature Yorkie caused a smaller stir, at a fancy Manhattan restaurant. From a Google review of Altesi Ristorante: “Lunch was ruined because Ivana Trump sat next to us with her dog which she even let climb to the table. I told her no dogs allowed but she lied that hers was a service dog.” I called the owner of Altesi, Paolo Alavian, who defended Trump. “She walked into the restaurant and she showed the emotional-support card,” he said. “Basically, people with the card are allowed to bring their dogs into the restaurant. This is the law.”

A brief, but great read on Bubba Helms, the potbellied kid who became a symbol of the 1984 riots that followed the Detroit Tigers’ World Series victory. I’ve seen the picture many times, never heard the story behind it.

Finally, one by yours truly, which won’t be readable until after 6 a.m. Thursday, on the effort to sell Detroit — the city, not the metro area — on the GOP. It was fun to report. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Have a swell Thursday. I’m astounded the week has gone this fast, but, well, see above.

Posted at 9:17 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 66 Comments
 

Bows.

bartender

And so it’s farewell to the Comet Bar, a Cass Corridor dive that will soon fall to the relentless march of progress. It closes Wednesday, and as you can gather from the sign behind the bar, the people who work there are stick of answering questions about it. It had the advantage of being located on a desolate enough street that it looked scary from the outside, but it was always warm and friendly inside. You could watch a game or play the jukebox, and as you can also tell from that picture, the state’s smoking laws were, shall we say, not always strictly enforced.

We went Saturday night for karaoke, but astonishingly, the DJ couldn’t find the Andrea True Connection’s “More More More,” which is what I agreed to sing with my young friend Dustin. Oh, well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about gentrification this year, and this is a classic case that looks open-and-shut from a certain perspective, and it’s not necessarily wrong. The area around the arena’s footprint is already flowering, and my guess is it will continue to. You can certainly argue with the financing of this arena, which is the usual privatize-the-profit, socialize-the-risk deal. Detroit needs all the help it can get, and this will help. But. One reason people have started returning to this area has been its mix of — cliché alert ahead — grit and fun and, shall we say, its atmosphere, so unlike the suburbs. I don’t care what anyone says; the number of people who want to live in an area of perfect cleanliness and safety are already living in Seaside, Fla., and are 10,000 years old. Younger people want a little excitement in their lives. I disagree that sports arenas provide it, but they certainly inject oxygen into an area. But the old Cass Corridor, now rechristened Midtown, was never as bad as people in the suburbs feared it was, and the good things about it — the music, the street scene, places like the Comet — were a product of artists, students and others who lived closer to the margins than those who can afford NHL tickets.

They’ll find new neighborhoods; they always do. But in the meantime, it’s worth a final toast to places like the Comet.

So, some bloggage? Two from the NYT today. First, a look at the Dutch pension system. Which works, evidently:

Dutch pensions are scrupulously funded, unlike many United States plans, and are required to tally their liabilities with brutal honesty, using a method that is common in the financial-services industry but rejected by American public pension funds.

The Dutch system rests on the idea that each generation should pay its own costs — and that the costs must be measured accurately if that is to happen.

Vaccine denial culture in New York, as opposed to California.

We had a gubernatorial town-hall thing tonight, so my attention is divided. Let’s all have a good week, eh?

Posted at 9:24 pm in Detroit life | 95 Comments