Won’t anyone think of the white kids?

Eighty-eight degrees out there at the moment. I just walked the dog and didn’t die. Sweating, but still ambulatory. I must be getting older, my decaying body craving heat like the dying husk it is, like an old man craves young women. Soon I’ll start setting my thermostat to 85 and wearing a cardigan sweater with an old tissue shoved up one sleeve.

Which is to say: It wasn’t the greatest Tuesday, but it wasn’t terrible, either. There’s a piece of salmon in the fridge and I’m thinking it’s going to be dinner. Which will help a lot.

But I have a case of the mid-weeks, which means I have a story due at the end of it, my notes are kind of a mess and I have to un-mess them and I’d rather make some of that salmon and open a bottle of white.

What are today’s outrages? What drinks can I put up on the bar to get today’s party started?

SAVE WHITEY! Jefferson Beauregard Sessions shows his worth at the Justice Department, sticking up for poor, poor, discriminated-against white kids. When I was a Fellow, one of U-M’s lawyers did a seminar for us, talking about the SCOTUS argument they made, that diversity was an essential part of the education a student should expect at a university. He convinced me, but Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was not in attendance that evening.

The secretary of defense and new chief of staff had an ad hoc adult daycare going there for a while.

I don’t know if this will be available to all, but a good WSJ story on the chaos of the Indian court system. You lawyers might appreciate this.

And a moment of grim levity from the WashPost: An oral history of last week:

At 4:58 p.m., Ryan Lizza publishes a story on NewYorker.com that recounts his curse-laden conversation with Scaramucci the previous night. By the 6 o’clock hour, chyrons on CNN were including Scaramucci quotations like “F—–G PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIC,” in reference to Priebus, and “I’M NOT TRYING TO S**K MY OWN [EXPLETIVE],” a reference to Scaramucci’s putdown of Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Tommy Vietor, former Obama spokesperson: [Former Obama speechwriter] Jon Favreau and I had recently finished recording our Thursday podcast when the story with Ryan Lizza and the Mooch popped up. . . . This was just the latest example of huge breaking news happening every time we finish a show.

I click through and am just flabbergasted. . . . We grabbed [fellow Obama alum Jon] Lovett and read him some choice lines. He couldn’t believe it was real. How can this be real?

And that’s only three paragraphs! There’s much, much more.

Finally, just to leave you with a midweek glance into the void, Jared Kushner on the Middle East, surreptitiously recorded by a White House intern:

Later in the clip, Kushner expresses frustration at others’ attempts to teach him about the delicate situation he’s been inserted into, saying, “Everyone finds an issue, that ‘You have to understand what they did then’ and ‘You have to understand that they did this.’ But how does that help us get peace? Let’s not focus on that. We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on, How do you come up with a conclusion to the situation?” He then goes on to lament the press’s treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a family friend who he’s known since childhood.

Kushner’s dismissal of the nuances of the conflict has already been an issue. Last month, when Kushner met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a Palestinian official told Haaretz that Kushner “sounded like Netanyahu’s advisers and not like fair arbiters” and that they were “greatly disappointed” after the meeting. Abbas himself was “reportedly furious.”

Finally, Kushner closed with the following statement of reassurance: “So, what do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know … I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we’re trying to follow very logically. We’re thinking about what the right end state is, and we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future.”

It’s moments like this that I feel us trembling, teetering on the edge of something terrible. Back on Friday, when the weekend will be in view. Let’s party then.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events | 63 Comments


The events of the last week of July 1967 in Detroit are one of those things everybody knows, and nobody knows, including what to even call what happened. “Riot” is the generally accepted language, although among African Americans, “rebellion” or “uprising” is nearly universal these days. Ever the wishy-washy moderate, I usually opt for “civil unrest,” because the most destructive element of the violence was the widespread looting and arson, which is hard to justify as an act of rebellion, especially considering how many black-owned businesses were destroyed that week.

But never mind that for now. Everybody knows the precipitating event was an early-morning raid on an illegal drinking establishment, known as a blind pig in the local parlance. Detroit still has zillions of these, mainly after-hours bars. I’ve never been to one because I’m a thousand years old, but my young friends all have their favorites. It’s where Detroit’s techno/house music scene took root and continues to thrive. They continue to be busted by the police, too, although I’m not sure if the customers are rousted with quite the vigor the law displayed in the 1967 raid on the establishment on the second floor of a 12th Street print shop. It was the rough handling of the folks being put into paddy wagons, especially the women, that supposedly moved Bill Scott to climb onto a car and exhort the crowd of onlookers:

“Are we going to let these peckerwood motherfuckers come down here any time they want and mess us around?”

The crowd roared back, “Hell, no!” and the bottles and rocks started to fly.

That’s from my colleague Bill McGraw’s excellent story of the family who owned the blind pig, whose own history reverberates with fallout from that night to this day. I’ve posted it before, but it’s worth your time if you didn’t get to it then.


The city was 40 percent black by that point, but its police were still overwhelmingly white and dedicated to keeping the black community in its place — in their neighborhoods, and out of white ones. Unlike most cities its size, Detroit grew horizontally; one reason it has the specific and unique problems it has today is that sprawling footprint, mostly covered with modest working-class housing for the huge labor force that gathered there in the early 20th century. They came from all over the country and all over the world, and working side-by-side in factories didn’t necessarily make them love one another. My friend Michael once drove me around his old neighborhood, where something like four Catholic churches existed in just a few square blocks — one for the Italians, one for the Hungarians, etc., like the punchline of the joke about the two Jews on a desert island.

Anyway. It was with all this knowledge in our heads that we went to see Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” which will open in a theater near most of you August 4. We got the “now playing in select theaters” early run.

Bigelow is a director I run hot and cold on. Hated “Blue Steel,” found “Point Break” ridiculous, liked “The Hurt Locker,” found “Zero Dark Thirty” troubling but worth seeing. She’s undeniably skilled, with an eye for finding beautiful images in horrific stories. “Detroit” kicks off with the blind pig raid, but quickly gets to the main narrative — the events of one night at the Algiers Motel, a fleabag at Woodward and Virginia Park, stormed by police, National Guard and Army troops after they heard shots fired from the building.

They never found a gun — which was said to be a starter pistol one guest was messing around with — but did find a number of black teenagers, 17-19, some members of The Dramatics, a singing group. Two of the teens were white girls, visiting from Ohio. At the end of the night, three of the young men were dead, and the survivors told of being tortured and terrorized by Detroit police in search of the gun and the shooter. This story didn’t come out immediately, but after an investigation, which led to murder trials for the Detroit officers and acquittals by all-white juries. The facts of what went on that night have never been definitively established — the cops claimed self-defense — but the rough outlines of the narrative have: Three dead teens, no gun found, survivor stories of torture.

That’s what Bigelow and her team were working with. And I’ll give her this: That lady knows torture. The police lined eight men and two women up against a wall in the motel for an hour, and that’s about how much screen time it takes, too. It’s an excruciating hour. Individuals are peeled off and taken into rooms, where police then fired gunshots, coming out to tell the rest that, well, we killed that guy, and would anyone now like to change their story and produce the gun?

There’s little relief in that hour. State police decide not to intervene. A few of the Guard/Army troops commit acts of mercy or stand in judgment of the insanity unfolding at the wall, but no one really intervenes. The baddest of the bad guys is a punk-faced, trigger-happy racist with a penchant for shooting people in the back and the unfortunate gift of making weaker men follow his lead. The other two are nearly as bad. One sneeringly asks one of the girls why she “fucks niggers” and how she can stand the smell of Afro Sheen.

Eventually the incidents at the motel conclude, and the film swings into an awkward third act — trials for the cops, recovery for the victims. You can feel the air go out of the balloon after the blood is mopped up. It really doesn’t feel like Bigelow’s heart is in this part of it, although this is where the greatest injustice happened. No one was ever held responsible. One victim is left with PTSD. Bad police are still abusing black people with impunity, and the president is encouraging them. And a corner that once looked like this now looks like this.

I walked out impressed by Bigelow’s technique but hardly entertained, or even enlightened. I think the critic for Roger Ebert’s site, Angelica Jade Bastien, got it exactly right:

Watching “Detroit,” the latest film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and penned by Mark Boal, I hit a breaking point I didn’t realize I had. I was disturbed so deeply by what I witnessed that I left the theater afterward in tears.

It wasn’t the relentless violence inflicted upon black bodies or the fiery devastation of the riots ripping apart Detroit but the emptiness behind these moments that got under my skin. Watching “Detroit” I realized that I’m not interested in white perceptions of black pain. White filmmakers, of course, have every right to make stories that highlight the real and imagined histories of racism and police brutality that pointedly affect Black America.

…“Detroit” is ultimately a confused film that has an ugliness reflected in its visual craft and narrative. Bigelow is adept at making the sharp crack of an officer’s gun against a black man’s face feel impactful but doesn’t understand the meaning of the emotional scars left behind or how they echo through American history. “Detroit” is a hollow spectacle, displaying rank racism and countless deaths that has nothing to say about race, the justice system, police brutality, or the city that gives it its title.

We saw the film at a multiplex on 8 Mile Road, and were apparently the only white people in the theater. (We were certainly the only ones who sat through the credits to see my boss’ name; he did research for screenwriter Boal, and was listed as a consultant.) “Well, I HATED that,” a woman said, loudly, as she filed out, and I expect that will be a pretty uniform opinion among black folks. To be sure, it’s a terrible story with an unhappy ending. The bad guys got away with it. And they were terrible bad guys.

But in the end, it’s an incredibly bloody film that is ultimately rather bloodless.

One final note: When I was young and ignorant, my boyfriend’s stepfather was a retired prison guard. He’d worked at Riker’s Island, in New York. I asked him what sort of weaponry he carried as a guard, and he quickly corrected me: He never carried a gun, or even a nightstick. Guards can’t take the risk of being disarmed by prisoners.

I thought of him during the riot scenes, which underline how fragile order really is, how thin is the social fabric we all walk around on and under, every day. It doesn’t take much to turn a Saturday-night party into something far more sinister, something police flee from, how quickly even these guardians of order can be overcome. Temperatures rise, tempers flare, a guy stands on a car and shouts encouragement — that’s it. And the correction, the restoration of control, is worse. It leads to harsher policing, more fearful citizens, more guns in nervous, fearful hands.

I hope I don’t live to see something like this happen again, but I fear I will. We always speak of events in incendiary terms, of “powder kegs” and “ticking time bombs” and “lighting the fuse,” etc. But all these things have to have a supply of powder, a bomb, to exist. How about building fewer bombs? Just a thought.

Posted at 12:10 am in Detroit life, Movies | 68 Comments

Off the map, through the looking glass.

I’m giving up. The fire is now out of control. The firefighters can only pour water on the blaze because what else are they supposed to do. I’ve just run out of words to describe the conflagration.

For now, anyway.

Neil Steinberg: This White House can’t seem to pin the needle on crazy weird. It sits there, stuck at the extreme end of the scale, and these nutbags keep adding more red zone to sink into.

That’s about right. That seems to capture the essential weirdness. I’m glad he has some words, because I feel like I’m out.

These are good words, too:

So, if you’re living on an outer planet and don’t know what I’m talking about, this is what I’m talking about:

On Wednesday night, I received a phone call from Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director. He wasn’t happy. Earlier in the night, I’d tweeted, citing a “senior White House official,” that Scaramucci was having dinner at the White House with President Trump, the First Lady, Sean Hannity, and the former Fox News executive Bill Shine. It was an interesting group, and raised some questions. Was Trump getting strategic advice from Hannity? Was he considering hiring Shine? But Scaramucci had his own question—for me.

“Who leaked that to you?” he asked. I said I couldn’t give him that information. He responded by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. “What I’m going to do is, I will eliminate everyone in the comms team and we’ll start over,” he said. I laughed, not sure if he really believed that such a threat would convince a journalist to reveal a source. He continued to press me and complain about the staff he’s inherited in his new job. “I ask these guys not to leak anything and they can’t help themselves,” he said. “You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.”

It goes on from there. You’ll want to read it. This is our America.

This is a better, or at least cheerier, story, about the promise and peril of recreational genomics. A new term, that. It’s about the family secrets that can be revealed through the use of home gene-testing kits like 23andMe, etc.

I will confess, however, that I find this level of dedication to one’s pedigree to be fairly far from my understanding. I simply don’t care enough about who begat who, once you go back far enough that I can’t remember them. The story is a very good yarn, though, with a nice twist at the end. You’ll like it.

We started with Neil Steinberg, and I guess we end with him, too. This just in: Blogs are dead.

Long live this one, anyway. I’m not going anywhere.

But I am planning to have a nice weekend. You do the same.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events | 65 Comments

High summer.

It was a perfect summer night for baseball, if not blogging, and the boss sprung for a suite:

I left at the bottom of the sixth, with the Tigers down 3-1 to the Royals. It didn’t bode well when the very first pitch of the game was a homer for K.C., but is it possible to have a bad time at the ballpark on a gorgeous July night, and in a suite, no less?

Meanwhile, some shit happened in Washington. And in Youngstown, I gather from Twitter. And let’s not even discuss the poor Boy Scouts. No, let’s.

Because it’s Wednesday, and this is all I have.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events | 99 Comments

Waiting for a miracle.

All the advice was to see “Dunkirk” in IMAX, so I googled around. Turned out there’s an IMAX screen at a multiplex in Royal Oak that I didn’t know about. Royal Oak is closer than the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, which is where I feared we’d have to go, so this was good news. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a regular theatrical-entertainment film in IMAX, only short science films like they show at museums. Bought tickets online, paid IMAX prices.

After the credit-card sale went through I looked at the tickets. “‘Dunkirk’ in EMAX,” they said. What’s EMAX? I thought, but figured it had to be some version of IMAX.

It wasn’t. It was just a wide screen. The theater is called Emagine, and sure enough, there’s no such thing as EMAX as a film format, it’s just the chain’s name for “PREMIUM LARGE FORMAT, bigger picture & maximum sound.” You can say that again; it was really, really loud. But the screen was nice and wide and oh well, at least for a movie like this you don’t generally have people talking throughout. And if they had, the soundtrack would have drowned them out pretty well.

And I can’t say I missed the IMAX, honestly. “Dunkirk” was an immersive experience in every sense of the word; it’s hard to see people wearing boots and heavy wool uniforms trying to swim in an unforgiving sea. A colleague saw it Thursday and panned its storytelling trick of multiple, non-synchronized timelines, but it worked for me. I imagine service in a war zone is a series of minutes-become-hours, hours-pass-like-seconds episodes, part of what makes it so disorienting.

You can read entire shelves of books about the Dunkirk evacuation, and thousands of words about this telling of the story, so I won’t add to it other than to say I liked the film very much and it made me want to sail our boat across the lake and rescue some Canadians. Or maybe the other way around. And I’ll also stand with David Edelstein, who took a pasting in the comments about his review in New York magazine, for writing that he assumed one chapter/timeline, titled “the Mole,” was about the anonymous soldier at its center, who has a prominent mole on his jaw. I did too! And I subsequently learned that “mole” is another term for a jetty, pier or breakwater, a structure that is very important in this story. I’ve read pretty widely and spent lots of time on or near water and boats, and I’ve never heard this before. Ever.

Before the movie, we visited a local brewhouse/restaurant. On the menu:

Proud to be an American.

I guess the next movie we’ll see in a theater is “Detroit,” about an incident in the ’67 riots, being commemorated this very week. Here’s a tick-tock by my former colleague Bill, roused from retirement to help the Freep staff. Lots of links within to other stuff, and sorry about the goddamn autoplaying videos, but that’s Gannett these days. And here’s the News’ editorial-page editor with the suburban take.

Over my years here, I’ve heard many personal recollections of that week, mostly bad ones. Some were grimly amusing; a guy on a local message board lived in St. Clair Shores, and remembers one of his mother’s friends knocking on the door late one night in a panic. She’d heard that gangs of black men were going house-to-house in Grosse Pointe, raping white women, and could she take shelter with them? He thought it was extra funny that he saw her a year later at a party his parents threw, and her escort was a black man. I always wonder, when I hear stuff like that, if there are people who deliberately start hateful rumors in the wake of chaos, for whatever reason. They were rife after 9/11, none backed by any shred of evidence.

This personal story isn’t funny at all, but it was written by a friend whose father was a Detroit firefighter in 1967, and it’s sad and worth your time.

As for the events from Washington, the Fall of Spicey and the rise of the next guy, Scaramucci, I leave it to the comedians.

Happy week ahead, all.

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Detroit life, Movies | 89 Comments

Pardon me.

I just realized I promised you guys a MWF blog, and this week I neglected the F. And now it’s 10 minutes before I really should start working, so here goes with the speedblog.

Also, I’ve also realized that the way news moves at a breakneck pace these days, the links I haphazardly gather throughout my week are going to be stale by the time I post them. Last night, for instance, I was watching “Creed,” because I was exhausted, and all I wanted to do was eat pizza, drink a glass of wine and forget I live under the current regime for a couple hours. Adonis Creed was in the climactic fight when Alan groaned and announced the president may be planning to have a pardon party, with himself as the guest of honor. (Of course.)

I wanted to whimper. Can’t I watch a dumb boxing movie for two hours? I guess not.

So, then! The president’s pardon party! Discuss. Also, you’ve probably read by now about R. Kelly’s harem of zombie sex drones, but if you haven’t, do so. Jim DeRogatis, the Chicago pop-music writer, has done dogged, heroic work on this story. Please, let this be the one that makes a difference.

And a housekeeping note: MarkH, send me your email. I tried to forward something from basset and it bounced.

We’re going to see “Dunkirk” in IMAX this weekend if it’s the last bloody thing I do. Starting to go a little stir-crazy around here.

Posted at 8:59 am in Current events | 82 Comments

Wooden stakes and garlic.

With the health-care overhaul bill dead — and yes, let’s stipulate that it is merely horror-movie dead, which is to say it might not be dead at all and we won’t know until the credits roll, the house lights come up and no one announces a sequel — I think we can all agree that this was a strange moment in a half-year full of them:

That was the Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate the passage of the House health-care bill. If you remember your Schoolhouse Rock, you know that in this case “passage” means “it was sent to the Senate.” Doesn’t that photo just…speak volumes? I think my right-wing friends in Indiana are still counting on President Pence one day bringing glory to that put-upon state, but if I were compiling an ad for his opponent, I’d put together a montage of these pictures — him standing at his master’s elbow, clapping and smiling, to an appropriate piece of music. I can’t think of one now, and searching “songs about toadies” isn’t helping, Google-wise. Maybe you don’t need music; maybe you could run the montage over his opening salvo at the first cabinet meeting, the “greatest honor of my life” stuff.

But now it’s more or less over, at least this part of it. A party that dominates the legislative and executive branch couldn’t repeal a law they’ve been howling about for seven years. They’re nihilists now:

I mean, say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, at least it’s an ethos.

Hot here. Gonna be hotter tomorrow. Gonna be hot for about a week. Then: Less hot. Still summer, though. I’m enjoying it. It’s not quite the silly season, but it’s the silly shoulder season, so let’s consider some fashion-y things in the bloggage.

Like Calista Gingrich’s hair:

The men — Nathan Sales, George Glass, Carl Risch — arrived in their dark suits and their crisp white shirts. Callista Gingrich, nominated to be ambassador to the Vatican, was dressed in a bright blue jacket with a modest portrait neckline. They all looked spit-shined for the occasion. But visually, nothing could compete with Gingrich’s hair, which over the course of time has become a kind of platinum synecdoche for the woman herself. The hair — a perfectly styled chin-length bob with a side swoosh — is Gingrich. The hair arrived, and it was perfectly composed. It did not wilt under the spotlight; it did not collapse when lawmakers raised questions about climate change and refugees. The hair was controlled and proper and smooth. The hair did well at the hearing.

I guess, as a well-known adulteress, she has to dress against type. But man, that hair freaks my cheese.

Cathy Cambridge has upped her style game, T-Lo note. Love the first dress, like the second one, but she absolutely did the right thing by taking six inches or so off her hair. The only thing about the first dress I don’t like is the stiffness of the fabric, to the point that the bust darts are giving her actual nipples.

I may read nothing but T-Lo for the rest of the summer. I’m in that kind of mood. Read fashion, and watch the Russian drips continue to fall. That would work for me.

Happy Wednesday, all. Carry on.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events | 79 Comments

Diurnal animals.

I don’t know what you were doing late on a Sunday afternoon, but after cooking two complicated, and error-filled, dinners on Friday and Saturday afternoon, I can tell you what I’m doing: Dreaming of a pizza made by someone else. And then watching “Game of Thrones.” Because Sunday funday.

Everyone is out enjoying some activity. Alan went sailing, Kate’s at Belle Isle with her buddies, and I’m listening for the dryer buzzer. Did a bit of a bike ride, but a persistent backache set in at mile six or so, and I turned around rather than gut it out. Once out of the evaporative breeze of movement, I commenced to once again re-secure my title as World’s Sweatiest Woman. But it’s nice and cool in the AC and under the ceiling fan; time to enjoy my solitude and get a little blogging done.

A quiet weekend, all told. I feel like we’re getting old — we’re not doing much this summer, but truth be told, I don’t mind. Happy to stay home and bake cherry pies and not get sweaty waiting in lines. And lines are simply the reality at some of these summer events we’re all beckoned to. You might as well bring a picnic basket. A couple weeks ago, I spent a lengthy lunch hour riding the new streetcar down to where the food trucks were parked, and ended up in a bar, unwilling to wait in line for 20-30 minutes to get a cardboard-bowl lunch. So sorry, missed the Concert of Colors last night, but we watched “Nocturnal Animals” on iTunes and it was very disturbing, but a pretty OK movie.

Can’t complain.

Can complain about this, though: No more celebrities running for office, for fuck’s sake. Their recent record is, how you say, uneven. Sorry, Caitlyn Jenner. Sorry, Kid Rock. (I won’t link, because I can’t even bear to Google.) Sorry, actual Rock. Now more than ever, we need competence. I don’t generally swoon over Frank Bruni the way some people do, but buried in his Sunday column was this brief passage:

Infrastructure that’s no longer competitive (or safe), a tax code crying out for revision, a work force without the right skills: When do we fix this? How far behind do we fall?

In-effing-deed. When? How? The world is at a very dangerous precipice. Career politicians, which is to say, people who know how the game is played and how to get results out of the system, may be our last hope.

Meanwhile, the picture of Jenner that accompanies that story is ghastly. Looks like she ordered the Madonna model cheek implant in XL.

Meanwhile, some comic relief: A little bit of the sunshine Ann Coulter spreads in the world came back to her over the weekend. We can all agree that when Ann has a bad day, the world gets a little bit nicer.

Finally, think you’re good at spotting fake news? Here’s a game that will let you show your skills. (Use the quick start option.) I found it pretty easy, considering you could view the source for individual stories.

For me, it’s back to “Game of Thrones” homework. See you mid-week.

Posted at 12:23 am in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 92 Comments

Coppertone baby.

There are people in the world, most of them women I expect, who put on sunscreen every morning, rain or shine. In fact, I read about one once — a dermatologist, and she lives in Michigan, no less. But she lathers up, face and hands and neck and any other area that might see a ray of sun, every single day. Winter, summer, spring and fall.

Then there is me.

I got the sunscreen memo, but I live in Michigan. Sun is only a rumor for months at a time. I try to remember, once summer comes, to apply and reapply. But I always forget. I usually get at least one Rudolph nose in summer, and it’ll catch up with me. It already is. I have a brown perma-freckle on my nose and another one or two threatening. But I neglect my arms and legs, sometimes on purpose, because I grew up in the ’70s and in my opinion a little color makes them look better. The other day I caught sight of my shoulders in a mirror and thought, they look much better now than in January.

It is vanity, yes. A deadly sin. And still, the sun beckons me to frolic beneath it, to swim and sail and cycle and don’t stress about the Coppertone, here’s some nice Vitamin D for you.

I don’t care if I wrinkle. I’d rather be a wrinkled tan than one of those weird porcelain-faced old women. At least I’d look like I got outside once in a while.

I recall an early scene in “Gone With the Wind,” when Scarlett is getting dressed for the party at Twelve Oaks, which you might recall as Corset Scene I in the movie. Scarlett wants to wear an off-the-shoulder dress, and Mammy pitches a fit:

“No, you ain’. It ain’ fittin’ fer mawnin’. You kain show yo’ buzzum befo’ three o’clock an’ dat dress ain’ got no neck an’ no sleeves. An’ you’ll git freckled sho as you born, an’ Ah ain’ figgerin’ on you gittin’ freckled affer all de buttermilk Ah been puttin’ on you all dis winter, bleachin’ dem freckles you got at Savannah settin’ on de beach.”

(Man, can you believe that? All the black characters’ dialogue is rendered thusly. It is cringeworthy.)

Later, Mammy commands her to keep her shawl on, and her hat, lest she come home looking brown, like the white-trash women in the neighborhood. There’s your class hierarchy, right there, at least in Margaret Mitchell’s telling. Which you shouldn’t trust. Although I’ve long believed GWTW was a fine feminist novel.

OK, then, with that let’s transition into the bloggage. Because vanity is not just a feminine vice, let’s start with this fine profile from Bridge, about a lawyer who made his reputation defending Detroit police at the height of the city’s violence and their own arrogance. He’s pretty vain, too. But a great lawyer, which he states more than once. With the Kathryn Bigelow movie about 1967 opening in a few weeks, he’s waiting for his moment of being played by John Krasinski. Or at least a character based on him. If you want to understand why Black Lives Matter happened, read a little bit about how this guy worked, and what he had to defend.

Moving on, I think the best single comment I read about this guy was a tweet showing him in a photo array with Trump’s doctor and Steve Bannon: Why does everyone connected with Trump look like the scene-stealer in a Coen Brothers movie?

Is Mike Pence trolling us? Ahem:

During a speech at the National Student Leadership Conference, Pence said in order for a leader to be like the president, they must listen, be humble, have a character people respect, work to serve others and learn from other leaders.

Finally, not to leave you with a disturbing story, but hey, the world is what it is, I found this via an obituary of a talented Miami Herald writer. This piece is 20 years old, but I’d never heard any of it. The perp died a decade ago, the mother he tortured some years before. It’s a modern horror story for our time, and an answer to the question of “what did trolls do before the internet?” Some of them did stuff like this.

A summer weekend ahead — make sure you use sunscreen.

Posted at 12:03 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 107 Comments


Love work-at-home days. I eat better, can throw loads of laundry into the dryer and make coffee any old way I want. I get more done. And I can work in my bathrobe, as I did for the first 90 minutes of my day, until I got up and put on some random assemblage of dirty laundry and wore it until 6 p.m.

“Career clothes” has a different definition for the home worker. Although I always do better when I’ve at least had a shower. But this is summer; rules change.

Besides, who cares what you’re wearing when news is breaking? That being the latest wrinkle on…what are we calling this one? Fredogate? Or just Normal?

Meanwhile, stuff like this comes out as sort of a side dish. Click and read the whole thread:

Oh, what have we done to our beloved country? Is this the way out, or just another drop toward a seemingly bottomless bottom?

I need some uplift. Here’s an uplifting story:

It was Saturday evening, after all, peak summer season in Panama City Beach for overheated Florida tourists to cross paths with curious marine life. Then they noticed flashing lights by the boardwalk, a police truck on the sand and nearly a dozen bobbing heads about 100 yards beyond the beach, crying desperately for help.

Six members of a single family — four adults and two young boys — and four other swimmers had been swept away by powerful and deceptive rip currents churning below the water’s surface.

“These people are not drowning today,” Jessica Simmons thought, she told the Panama City News Herald. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”

You oceanside dwellers are going to have to explain rip currents to me. I understand what they are; they’re powerful currents that run offshore, more or less perpendicular to the beach, right? And to get out of them, you swim parallel to the beach until you’re out, or else you float on your back until it’s spent and spits you out. But the scenario described in this story doesn’t sound right, but I have only read about rips, never seen or been in one.

There were no lifeguards, and the main heroine of this story says the police were just sitting on the beach, waiting for a rescue boat. But it sounds like these people were struggling in one place. I can’t quite picture it. Someone needs to explain this. But it’s a good story just the same.

Finally, because Alan remarked at dinner today, out of the blue, “I am not a violent person. But I find Donald Trump Jr.’s face very punchable.”

What makes a face punchable?

I leave you with that. Carry on.

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events | 58 Comments