On the wane.

At the beginning of June I said it was going to be a bucket-list summer, and in large part it has been – Iceland, a full-moon kayak trip, less work on the weekends, another trip coming up Labor Day weekend – but unless you have staff, or help, it can’t be sustained. So this weekend was, eh, low-key. Cleaned a closet, got ahead on some work stuff, read an actual book, did some back-to-school shopping with Kate. At, goddess help us, a mall. But it was fine, because we scored what we needed and I got a deal on some end-of-summer white Levi’s (yeah-yeah-yeah):


The yeah-yeah-yeah is an echo of my youth, when a radio ad on WCOL, for a local clothing store, featured four Beach Boys-y voices singing, “White Levi’s, yeah yeah yeah!” Back when there was work for studio singers doing local advertising. That’s an economy that probably only still exists in Nashville and Los Angeles, right?

Funny how jeans brand loyalty goes. I’ve been a Levi’s girl since I first put them on, a million years ago. I’ve worn boot cut, flares, 501s, 501CTs, skinny, straight, Bold Curve, everything. The very idea of spending $200 for a pair of blue jeans just blows my mind, and from time to time, I’ve visited higher-end stores and tried on Seven for All Mankind, Joe’s, the various premium denim brands. I’ve always buttoned them up, looked in the mirror and thought, Man, these are some ugly-ass pants, right here.

Maybe I’m not wearing them right. Or maybe I just have a Levi’s body. My sister-in-law is a Lee’s gal, and has been for years. When I visited Montana many moons ago, all the cowboys wore Wrangler. From time to time, I’ve bought Gap and Lee’s and maybe one or two others, but I always come back to Levi’s.

Besides my white capris, I got a pair of 501s and a slim-leg pair in inkiest black. All in a smaller size than I wore a year ago. Life is good.

The other thing that made the trip to the mall not-so-bad was the Dream Cruise, an annual event that entrances half of Detroit and drives the other half crazy. This is the grassroots cruise of classic cars up and down Woodward Avenue for (officially) a weekend and (unofficially) a week. People who live or do business along the route either love it or hate it. The younger, hipper contingent is represented by the Magic Bag, a music venue that closes for a few days and puts a snarky message on their marquee, chosen in a contest of loyal customers. This year’s winner:


That’s pretty good, but my favorite was a couple years back: “Giving Downriver parents an excuse to visit their gay children since,” etc. A little local humor.

But for people who stuck to the freeways, well, there was magic to be seen every few miles, as some amazing classic would pull onto an entrance ramp and merge in with all the other contemporary lozenge-shaped rides. Nothing like seeing a Chevy as old as you are to put a smile on your face. And I am decidedly not a car gal.

Also – and this may just be me – it seemed like a fairly non-Trump weekend. How about for you?

So not much bloggage today, just a dog-days weekend of paying some, but not intense, attention to the news. Just this: A look at cat stories over the years in the New York Times, including a perfectly fabulous photo that even non-cat people should enjoy.

Oh, and Flint’s Claressa Shields, the toughest girl in a pretty damn tough town, wins her second Olympic gold, in women’s boxing. Congrats to T-Rex.

Bring on this week, OK?

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments

Outta gas.

Thursday night as I write this, watching NBC’s atrocious Olympics coverage, although the decathlon color commentator used the term “toeing the line” correctly, in this case, literally. They’re lining up to run the final event, the 1,500 meters, and so they’re toeing the line. But that’s not what I’m thinking. I’m thinking:

I wonder if Caitlyn Jenner is watching this at home. And if so, what she’s wearing.

Boy, I feel a little empty by this point in the week, and certainly in the Olympics. I find myself wondering things even the dumbest coverage doesn’t address, like: Why do so many of these track athletes wear more eye makeup than a drag queen? Is there a downside to all that belly-button jewelry? And is there a fresh layer of douchebaggery Ryan Lochte has yet to reach?

Moving on to the bloggage, because I ain’t got nothin’: Gawker is no more. I’m sorry to hear that, not because I’m a huge Gawker fan, but because Peter Thiel is not a person whose integrity I trust. But they were influential in their time, both in the good and bad sense, and did some very good stuff over the years. This roundup contains a lot of it.

Donald Trump has pivoted, for reals this time! What’s the over/under on when he un-pivots? A friend of mine has already claimed 2 p.m. today; anyone want a different spot?

Finally, remember the cake-kicking lady from a few months back? Didn’t like the cake Kroger bakery made for her son’s birthday party, and she allegedly drop-kicked it all over the department? She has a history of these things. Cake-kicking AND ice cream-slapping.

Off to the weekend. Enjoy it.

Posted at 8:56 am in Current events | 49 Comments

Friends when you need them.

Had to go to Grand Rapids Wednesday, and I left early, clicking on every cylinder. Got my laptop, got my phone, got my earbuds, had my podcasts cued up. Sunglasses? Got ’em. The only thing I didn’t have was a full tank of gas, but I had enough to get well out of town, and when the light came on and the trip computer said I had 40 miles left, I pulled into a BP station in Fowlerville.

Opened my bag and found…no wallet. I mean, it just wasn’t there. Because obviously not every cylinder was clicking earlier in the morning. And I didn’t pack it.

So there I was, not enough gas to get home, not enough to get to Grand Rapids, no ID, no credit card of any sort, just my smiling face and a phone. And my old boss Derek, bless his heart, who was nice enough to meet me 10 miles down the road with $40 cash. Which was enough to gas me up and buy lunch at Steak & Shake. I hate to ask for help, but as the life coaches say, it’s selfish not to. Because people want to help you. I still felt pretty stupid.

But there’s nothing like a five-hour drive, round trip, to get you caught up on your podcasts and other audio stuff. I think we discussed this a few days or weeks ago, but I ended up subscribing to “Keeping it 1600,” with Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer, both Obama people, and “Radio Free GOP” with Mike Murphy, a #NeverTrump Republican who ran the Jeb! campaign. So it was that, plus the latest “This American Life,” which was all about summer. I only really enjoyed the first act of TAL, which was about a 66-year-old lifeguard suing New York City for age discrimination after they insisted he wear a Speedo for his speed test. It was hilarious, if only for the lengthy list of slang terms for men’s Speedos.

And on the way home, I caught J.D. Vance, author darling of the moment, discussing “Hillbilly Elegy,” his highly praised memoir about growing up po’ white in Middletown, Ohio, on “Fresh Air.” He’s an impressive guy, but I’m a little baffled by the praise this book is getting, but maybe that’s because I grew up in Ohio, and Vance’s people are hardly unknown to anyone from Columbus on south. He is quite a bit younger than I am, so I missed southern Ohio’s descent into opioid-addiction hell. He’s obviously entitled to his interpretation of his own world, but I found his explanation of hardscrabble-white fondness for Trump unconvincing. He gives his relatives too much credit for seeing an authenticity in Donald Trump that — in his opinion, anyway — Hillary Clinton lacks. Terry Gross tried to prod him a little, pointing out that Trump was born rich and got richer, but Clinton, as well as her husband, came from modest circumstances.

Yeah, he said, but Clinton surrounds herself with slick elites. Whereas Steve Bannon is jes’ folks, I guess.

Speaking of which. The hiring of Bannon suggests this campaign is going to auger all the way in, Trump-as-Trump, guns blazing. I’d start a pool on what he’ll say next, but honestly, not sure I have the imagination. Which leads us to the bloggage:

Another smart Trump take by Josh Marshall, mapping the Trump hate bubble.

Remember when Adrianne predicted the future of the Columbus Dispatch, after it was sold? Lo, it appears it is coming to pass.

You’ve probably read various cases made that Walmart actually makes for a net loss to taxpayers, because it pays so little its employees regularly qualify for food stamps, etc. Well, as this excellent Bloomberg report notes, it doesn’t end there. I’d paste a paragraph or three, but I can’t seem to copy from the site. Worth your time.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 61 Comments

That day is done.

Well, today was better. Slept almost seven hours — four hours and 20 minutes of it “deep,” according to my sleep tracker, which may just be shining me on, but the placebo effect is real — and ate mostly protein and vegetables today, and feel 79 percent more like myself today.

And I was a regular Phelps in the pool today, if by “Phelps” you mean Edwin Phelps, DDS, age 67, who was once a lifeguard at Ocean Beach and was quite the backstroke talent for his city pool’s summer team in 1964. But I did the whole Monday workout, the dreaded 400-400, 300-300, 200-200, 100-100.* I got out feeling tired and so f’ungry I felt like stopping for an Egg McMuffin AND a puck of hash browns. But I restrained myself, ate healthy(ish) and learned later today there’s a very good reason a swimming workout leaves you hungrier than most. Short answer: Your body burns energy doing the work, and keeping warm. No wonder the athletes keep those Olympic Village kitchens working more or less around the clock.

And I made a little progress on a project today, so: Yay me. Tomorrow is another day.

I do not, however, look anything at all like this woman, whose rather provocative blog is probably blowing AMB (angry man-boy) skulls to pieces all over the planet. In a nutshell: She is a young, beautiful, slender athlete who exercises outdoors in scant clothing, and you wouldn’t believe the abuse. Like how? Like this:

Earlier this summer I headed to a local park in the South End of Boston to push myself in an outdoor bootcamp workout I was testing for the upcoming week of classes I teach. It was a hot Saturday afternoon and halfway through my workout I had a guy come over to me from across the park and start talking to me from a few feet away. I took my headphones out thinking he was asking me something, instead my ears were filled with profane things he “wanted to do to me”.

Last week I was going for a run before work to clock four miles for my half marathon training. I ran past a parking garage that has an attendant in the front to direct traffic between cars exiting and people crossing. A thankless job, I smiled gave him a wave to thank him and kept running. I took two steps before he yelled after me a “MM HMMMM”. Like he was salivating over a steak.

Yesterday I was walking to the laundromat to drop off clothes before heading out to teach a class. Walking out of the laundromat I decided to sneak in the 7Eleven next door to see if they carried my new favorite ice cream brand so that I could come grab some after class. A man so kindly held the door open for me, I thanked him and walked inside. They didn’t have the brand so just 60 seconds later I walked back out and he was sitting on the other side of the street watching me come out. I turned down the side walk and he crossed the street to follow me. He even yelled at me to stop and wait for him.

I will freely admit that even if I had a body like hers, I probably wouldn’t go running in a sports bra and compression shorts. But I also demand that she should be able to without having guys howling at her. But of course, the real fun of this piece is in the sewer of the comments, which you should not read unless you’ve removed all guns, knives, hanging ropes, etc., as well as disconnected your gas lines, because some of these people make you want to stick your damn head in the oven.

The only men who catcall me anymore are homeless guys in Detroit, and honestly, as long as they’re not total fucking creeps about it, I don’t let it bother me. Nothing like an old dude parked next to a 40 and a bag of his worldly goods telling you you look like Beyoncé to start your day off right.

I SO wish Coozledad was still with us, so we could hear his colorful opinion about this feeb, charged with the homicide of his neighbor, upon whom he (the shooter) had regularly bestowed racial slurs and! Hit the neighbor’s mother with his car. Oh, and yeah, he was drunk. But you’re gonna love his mugshot, because that is the face of the master race.

With that, let’s hit second gear on this week.

* Swimming nerds eyes only: 400 pull, 4×100 freestyle, 50+50×3 back/breast, 3×100 IM, 200 kick, 4×50 on your medium interval, 8×25 sprints. It takes me a solid hour and change, but I’m slow.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 76 Comments

Too much hot.

What a long weekend, and I am bushed. It’s the weather, which makes every step you take outside feel like 100. We ended up at a downtown park for a beer-and-wine festival, where every beer went warm in your hand and, well, bleh. It was still fun, but I’ve had enough of this miserable heat wave. It seems to be breaking, but that’s happened before. Our August cooldown is overdue.

When you start out talking about the weather, you know you don’t have anything to talk about. That said, the weather sort of is the story today, as southern Louisiana floods from truly apocalyptic rainfall, but don’t worry: Climate change isn’t happening. This is just the 500th year of the 500-year rainfall event. Don’t you feel lucky to be here and see it?

I once asked a lobbyist how his industry was handling the policy aspects of climate change, when a fair number of the people they had to deal with wouldn’t even acknowledge climate change is a thing. He said, “We’re just moving forward, because we have to.”

Man, I’ll say.

Saturday was the usual grind of errands, topped off by dinner for a friend’s birthday, which included this wine:


It was so soft and warm in your mouth it made your tastebuds do a happy dance. Remember when “wine” = Gallo? Life is better in so many ways.

As you can tell, I’m flailing a bit here. So here’s the bloggage:

Why Jamaica produces so many great runners.

This week’s Trump-campaign-as-train-wreck overview, from the New Yorker.

Starting the week at Zzzzzz. I hope I have another gear or two left.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 51 Comments

Let’s dicker.

I was looking at a pair of shorts on an online store the other day, trying to decide if they would suit, when I took a closer look at the price, teased with the red pixels that indicate markdowns and savings: $49 retail, marked down to $48.93. Seven cents. (Please let’s not make this discussion whether it’s right to pay $50 for a pair of shorts. I concede it isn’t, but these were a specialty item, and I was only window-shopping.)

I’ve been having good luck with online chat on retail sites, so I summoned up some poor sap in the Philippines and we had some back-and-forth over this. My side amounted to really? and his was all about profuse apologies and we’ll-get-to-the-bottom-of-this. Check back! he advised.

Today I did. The shorts had been put on real sale this time:


I’ve also been looking at an item on my holiday gift list. You can buy it directly from the manufacturer for $99. Ever since I made the mistake of comparing it to the Amazon price, I’ve been served an ad for it regularly. It started at $119, which is baffling enough, but today it changed to this:


I assume this is another example of Amazon’s forward-thinking dynamic pricing, also known as the one where the shoes you want are, ooh, sorry, not available at the lower end of the price range we just teased you with to get you to click from the Google search. Rather, you’ll be paying the other price, the top one, maybe more. It turns out the cheap price is only for people who want them in chartreuse and size 2. Know any tiny people with itty-bitty feet and no color sense? Tell them the world is their oyster.

I’ve seen this enough times that it has pushed me away from shopping on Amazon. Based on the absurdity of the price-chop on those shorts, I can only assume it’s spreading, or seeping, or something.

Can one of you tech-savvy people explain what’s going on? I sorta understand about the shoes, but I’m baffled by the meat thermometer. If you can find the same thing, in 10 different colors, on the manufacturer’s website at price X, why would you pay 50 percent more somewhere else?

The mysteries of our brave new world often leave me cold.

A few short links here, at least one of which basically has nothing to do with Him, although maybe with the mysteries of our brave new world: How Twitter became plagued with trolls and abuse, and has stayed that way for nearly a decade.

My friend Amy Welborn homeschooled her two boys for four years, and is writing a pretty great blog series on why and how she did it (and might do it again). She’s not hostile to public education, and is a strict-but-not-insane Catholic, so I found it interesting. It seems she did it for the right reason, which boils down to: School sucks, not all the time, but a lot of the time, and if you have the right temperament, the right kids, the right skills and the means to do so? Why not. This is part four, which I link because she has the links to the other parts right at the top, and you can go from there.

Himself’s North Carolina director is alleged to have pointed a loaded gun at a colleague’s knee. Are you surprised? Didn’t think so.

Finally, Jon Favreau, the former Obama speechwriter and current pundit/podcaster, has a column up about how to react when the inevitable Trump comeback narrative is unleashed later in the campaign. You might want to clip and save.

And here it is, the weekend again. Enjoy it.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments

Overtaken by events.

There’s a local public affairs/talk show on our NPR affiliate that airs at 9 a.m. weekdays, and replays at 7 p.m. I was listening to it yesterday en route to dinner, and the discussion was about Monday’s Trump speech, the questions sober and serious, as befits public radio: Is this a pivot? Is this “new, sober” Trump someone you could vote for? And so on.

Of course, by 7 p.m. last night, the speech story had already been overtaken by events, the events being Trump’s speech in North Carolina. The DEC issued a statement about how the hecklers got into the meeting — it was supposed to be members and guests only, remember — and included an apology to Trump for the disruptions.

Think about it. Just 24 hours after the speech that was supposed to reset the discussion (again), get people talking about him as a potential president (again), he’d reverted to bull-in-china-shop settings, and the DEC looked silly, apologizing for rudeness to a man for whom rudeness is his Nice mode.

It’s hard to keep up, isn’t it?

So let’s just let this thing wash over us today, shall we? What might happen by 5 p.m.? You just never know. Happy Wednesday. This was my morning-swim lookout today. The gray isn’t clouds, but humidity. I’m going to look at it from time to time, and just say ommmmm.


Posted at 9:08 am in Current events | 34 Comments

Lunch with Donald.

This was the game plan for Trump: Park somewhere remote, then take the People Mover to Cobo, where you get off inside the building and don’t have to navigate — don’t even have to see — the demonstrators outside. And that’s pretty much how it worked; a $7 parking spot in Greektown, a brief train ride and into the a/c and pleasant convention-center groove of…a convention center. The credentialing was a snap, the Secret Service wand-down chill, and into the auditorium, set up to accommodate somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000.

I was thinking this would not be a friendly crowd. Not hostile — the Detroit Economic Club emphasizes the clubbiness, and gentlepeople don’t do hostile face-to-face — but not much more than polite applause. These are Republicans, but Bush/Rubio/Kasich Republicans. America doesn’t need to be made great again, because for these titans of industry/C-suiters/middle managers on the way up, America is already pretty great. They’d like tax relief, of course, but when have American businessmen ever not wanted that? Detroit still runs on the auto industry, and it was recently saved from rack and ruin by none other than Barack Obama, Tim Geithner, et al. If that doesn’t make America pretty damn great for these folks, I don’t know what would.

Maybe the thunderous applause was just them being polite. I don’t know.

I do know this. After an introduction by Mike Pence (who was himself introduced as a graduate of the “University of Indiana”), out came the man himself, and it was clear from the outset that, as it was in Cleveland, this would be a teleprompter deal. Prompter Trump is a different animal. His vocabulary increases in size and complexity (somewhat, anyway). He swings between the screens like a pendulum, a phrase or two left, center, right. He reads well, pronounces well, but like a lot of kids I’ve tutored in reading over the years, punctuation other than periods is a struggle. He doesn’t seem to understand that a sentence can carry over to the next line, so that a passage like this…

When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit.

…sounds like this:

When we abandoned the policy. Of America First. We started rebuilding other countries. Instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing. And in many other cities around the world. While the factories and neighborhoods. Crumbled in Detroit.

I put the meter at a type of free-form anapestic — dat dat DAH, dat dat DAH. It’s different from the way he speaks when he’s freestylin’, so you know immediately that he’s on the prompter. Not a criticism, just an observation.

So that’s how it started. After “crumbled in Detroit” began the first big set piece of the speech, which committed the first sin that every carpetbagger, parachuted-in journalist/analyst does here, which is to conflate the three Detroits: the city, the metro area and the auto industry. They shouldn’t be.

Conservatives often make this mistake, to reel off the horrible statistics from the city — the unemployment, the crime, the illiteracy, all of it — and pretend it’s all the result of Democratic governance. (Or, in the usual phrase, “Democrat governance.”) This ignores pretty much every major factor that led to the city’s decline, and there are dozens. The automation of factories. Freeways. Sprawl. Ethnic tensions. Rising prosperity; have you seen a Detroit workingman’s bungalow? Would you like to raise three or four or five kids in 1,000 square feet once you were making enough money to afford better? And the stinking 900-pound primate in the room, race.

No, to people spinning this talking point, it’s all about taxes and welfare and Those People, who Just Don’t Want to Work For a Living. Under this argument, San Francisco and New York should be on the canvas by now, but whatever.

So here is Donald Trump, standing in front of a couple thousand mostly affluent white people, dressed in suits and ties and dresses and pantyhose, telling them they live in a shithole of misery:

In short, the city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent’s failed economic agenda. Every policy that has failed this city, and so many others, is a policy supported by Hillary Clinton.

She supports the high taxes and radical regulation that forced jobs out of your community…and the crime policies that have made you less safe…and the immigration policies that have strained local budgets…and the trade deals like NAFTA, signed by her husband, that have shipped your jobs to Mexico and other countries… and she supports the education policies that deny your students choice, freedom and opportunity.

Shipped whose jobs to Mexico? Not these people’s jobs. In fact, they did the shipping. Education policies that support choice have been well-established in Michigan for decades now, pushed and supported by Republicans. And immigration policies? That’s rich, considering this place was about as spicy an immigrant stew as you could find outside of Ellis Island, and still is. They couldn’t have run those giant factories with the Trump kids; they needed people willing to get dirty and work hard for a little bit of money, and then a little bit more.

So you can see right there that he’s losing me.

But then the hecklers started. These were Code Pink-types who’d stand up, start screaming and be hustled out by security. One after another, all but one women. They started before that passage above, in fact, when he was still in his thanks-for-inviting-me pleasantries, and continued, every few minutes, for about the first half hour. With each ejection, the cheering got louder. He started winning the crowd, not for the mumbo-jumbo coming out of his mouth, but because the people who got in to yell at him were worse.

I know the DEC was embarrassed by this. Tickets are not available to the general public, although members can bring guests. They don’t do shit like this, especially to national figures. As the ejections went on and on — 14 in all — it only made Trump look better, because he didn’t react. He just stood mute until the shouter was outside, then went on.

And he did go on. There was a laundry list of promises, mostly latter-day Reaganomics. Tax cuts, of course:

I am proposing an across-the-board income tax reduction, especially for middle-income Americans. This will lead to millions of new good-paying jobs.

How? As Boon said to Otter: Forget it, he’s rolling.

Three brackets instead of seven. A top corporate rate of 15 percent. All from the GOP wish list. This was a big applause line:

Finally, no family will have to pay the death tax. American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death – it’s just plain wrong. We will repeal it.

An auditorium full of people whose net worth put them in estate-tax territory loved that one.

On it went. Coal’s coming back. So is steel. American steel is going to “send new skyscrapers soaring.” It’s going into “the spine of this nation.” By now he’s in the last-20-minutes-in-Cleveland mode:

We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place.

We can’t solve our problems by relying on the politicians who created them.

Only by changing to new leadership, and new solutions, will we get new results.

We need to stop believing in politicians, and start believing in America.

And then it was over. Standing ovation. Thunderous applause. Not the polite kind.

Cobo has a glass-walled front, and as I was walking out, I could see the demonstration outside. It looked pretty peaceful, although there were a couple of scuffles here and there. Two suit-and-tie gents were walking near me.

“I like that 15 percent, I’ll say that,” one said, before looking out at the crowd and wondering, “How do they get to spend a Monday doing that?”

“They don’t work,” the other scoffed.

We’re in trouble, guys.

Some links: The Freep fact-check of the speech. The NYT’s take, with fact-checking embedded. Another local analysis. A good one from Forbes. And one more, from a Freep business columnist.

And me, I’m back to my day job. See you tomorrow.

Posted at 8:44 am in Current events | 43 Comments

A full dance card.

A long, hot, busy, tiring weekend, and I’ve got an action-packed couple of days ahead. So if y’all don’t mind, this will be a bit phoned-in.

Fortunately, I took lots of pictures.

First, a bit of old business: I see a few of you were disappointed that we sip Woodford Reserve in any form other than neat or over a single ice cube. I hear you. I felt the same way when a bartender at a downtown Fort Wayne hotel told me that DeBarge, the ’80s pop band, ordered a $500-a-bottle cognac for their after-show drinks, which they mixed with Coca-Cola. But we’re long on good sippin’ whiskey right now, including this adorable find, which we stocked up on in the Iceland duty-free, bringing back bottles for our dog sitters, and one for ourselves. This stuff, Nikka, from Japan:


That’s a 500ml bottle, not the usual 750, which I attribute to Japan being a country with limited storage space, presumably including liquor cabinets. But I love the shape of the bottle, the understated label, and the contents? Quite nice.

On to the weekend, which began with a rare night sail. The worst of the heat was blowing out and the breeze was just about perfect. Rain threatened but never really developed, and we had a long, lovely sunset to enjoy:


That spire is the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. We headed down to the mouth of the river, where we could see the skyline:


Of course, the other thing you should do when the sun is dropping is occasionally look in the other direction, because photographers don’t call it the golden hour for nothing:


Nice illustration of the breeze there, too. And here we have Heckle, Jeckle and their full extended family. These are cormorants, the shitting, roosting, fish-eating bane of the Great Lakes at the moment:


We tacked around the bird party and headed back, catching a nice moonset in the bargain:


OK, that one was a little Instagrammed. Sue me.

The next day I had a chance to put on my old boots and dig out my chaps, because I had volunteered to help with a Detroit Neighborhoods Day activity, introducing city kids to horses. It was…an interesting day, for a lot of reasons. It was also sweaty, busy work, fitting kids with helmets, getting them onto a couple of willing ponies and leading them around a couple of big circles before pulling them off and putting the next one on. Just when I was thinking I could really use a break, these guys showed up:


I didn’t know such a group existed. They brought horses, too — all in western tack. I heard one call another a buffalo soldier, so you get where they’re coming from, i.e., the great tradition of African-American cavalrymen on the Great Plains. As this photo shows, not every rider came dressed for the occasion, but Charles didn’t care. He was an enthusiastic teacher, almost an evangelist for sitting up straight, legs down and putting fear where it belongs, under a pile of manure somewhere. It didn’t quite work with this girl, but she held on gamely for her trip:


It was four hours under a sun that grew hotter by the hour. At the end, I went out for a too-large Mexican lunch and a couple of margaritas, and woke up Sunday with a face so swollen I felt like Jerry Lewis in his prednisone period.

And Sunday was a trip to Defiance for a family reunion. It went the way most family reunions in city parks go. Alan’s sister brought some pictures of previous reunions, including this one of Alan, c. 1979:


His Bob Seger period, right there.

Which brings us to right now, Sunday night. Tomorrow is Trump (I hope), Tuesday is a hard deadline, so you may have to look at these pix for a while. In the meantime, you might read this infuriating story by Bill McKibben, about the experience of being tracked by a conservative PAC trying to discredit his work around climate change.

And while I don’t want to load you up with NYT links — I know they’re limited for non-subscribers — this was an interesting essay on a subject of interest to maybe 100 people in the world, i.e., what’s happening to the restaurant scene in northern California as an unprecedented wave of money sweeps over it. I noticed it mainly for the arresting turns of phrase, like this:

I went there twice for work and concentrated both times on the food alone. I was knocked out, especially by a creation called Tidal Pool, which involved a clear littoral broth of seaweed dashi pooling around sea-urchin tongues, pickled kelp and foie gras. I know that I will set off the gag reflex in certain quarters when I confess that, in my view, Mr. Kinch took the sensory pleasure of falling off a surfboard into cold Northern California water and transformed it into the world’s most delicious bowl of Japanese-French seafood soup. Mr. Kinch, I concluded, was the savior sent to bring California cuisine into the 21st century.

How do you remove a sea urchin’s tongue? How is this different from eating ortolans? You tell me.

And when I get an empty 30 minutes, I’m going to read this, Jeb Lund’s account of the GOP convention, because I love Jeb Lund’s stuff.

Once more into the breach.

Posted at 12:12 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' | 29 Comments

Not him.

Like Neil Steinberg, I am having Trump fatigue. So let’s handle him with a very light touch today, shall we? It’s Friday, after all. How about a cocktail to start?


This is why the countertops to the right of my sink are always sticky — it’s Alan’s bartending station. To be sure, he’s made us some awesome cocktails this summer, and here we have the elements of the Skeleton Key, a cocktail said to be invented here. It was imagined to be a Halloween drink, but it’s very refreshing for summer, and last weekend being payday, we got the name-brand ingredients. And they’re pretty sticky, but it’s nice having a good mixologist under the roof.

Moving on! What would you do if your plane landed belly-down — that is, with the landing gear up and not where it’s supposed to be — slid to a stop with an engine in flames, and the captain comes on the intercom to say EVACUATE THE AIRCRAFT NOW? If you answered anything other than “try to retrieve my bag from the overhead bin,” you must not be flying on Air Emirates. Everyone got away alive, but man.

And with that, enjoy your weekend, all.

Posted at 12:17 am in Current events | 67 Comments