Linky salad.

Things you will want to read today:

This lovely, sensitive piece on a lesbian couple planning their wedding in Oklahoma, where the wind — and the judgment — comes sweepin’ down the plain. The main part of the narrative concerns what happened after they sent their invitations, and waited to see who would attend:

The person Kathryn wondered about most was her biological father. He had raised her; after his divorce from Jane, it was the two of them alone in a small, boxy house in the middle of open plains. He was a rural postman and the job suited him — a solitary route that took him down the same path, every day, a hundred miles of roads. His world was predictable and contained, and Kathryn hadn’t found the right way to talk to him about the wedding.

Tracy didn’t know they hadn’t spoken. She sent his invitation in a batch with all the others — and now Kathryn had no choice but to call her father, or he would learn about the ceremony by checking the mail. As the words about the invitation came spilling out, they became words about why she and Tracy had decided, despite all their worries, to have this wedding.

She told him that she didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way she and Tracy felt about each other. She said that marriage was an important rite in the history of humanity, something people had been doing throughout time, and something she wanted to be a part of. She told him that marriage, as a value, was American.

He didn’t say anything. There was only silence on the other end of the line.

It’s really wonderful. Read.

For comic relief, you’re going to want to watch this clip of Sarah Palin at the Iowa Freedom Summit last week. Whenever I see her, I think of the Republicans I knew who were head over heels for her in 2008, at least for a few weeks. Looking at her now must feel like the morning after a hot, fevered night with a beautiful stranger who looks so, so different in the cold morning light. That what have I done feeling must be overwhelming.

And back to sensitive: A good one about the evolving view of divorce by the Catholic church, and by “evolving” I mean “the same, but at least some people are fighting about it,” i.e.:

The battle lines are clear: Some high-level church officials, most notably the conference of German bishops, want the church to relax its rules so that divorced Catholics can more fully return to church life, particularly by receiving communion, even if they have remarried. Traditionalists are pushing back fiercely, arguing that the indissolubility of marriage is ordained by God and therefore nonnegotiable.

I’ve been done with the church for years, but in that time, I’ve come across some annulment-seeking Catholic divorcees, and given testimony in one. All were granted. Nothing seemed to make a difference; 20 years together and three children? Hey, sounds like it wasn’t a true spiritual marriage; go on and get married again, folks. I totally understand why spurned ex-spouses fight so hard against them, as one of the unfortunate Kennedy brides did — seriously, what is the point of being against divorce if you’ll de facto grant them for a few hundred bucks and some nosy questions?

In the testimony I gave — and don’t be deceived by the grand nomenclature; all I did was fill out some forms — there were questions about whether I had knowledge the couple used artificial birth control. Of course they did, as 90 percent of all Catholic couples do, but I thought, well, that’s clever. Talk about your built-in grounds for Catholic divorce.

And so the week begins. Snowpocalypse in the east, cold here, and I’m headed north.

Posted at 9:01 pm in Current events | 124 Comments

The lonely curator.

Question for Brian and the other Fort Wayners: What was the name of the taxidermy museum that used to be at one of the city parks? It just came to me: The Diehm Museum, something like that? It was the sort of place that older people love, because they came of age when your only chance to see a bobcat was in an Encyclopedia Britannica or something. Today you have the internet, the zoo, 500 channels of NatGeo footage filmed with remote cameras in the wild.

But the story I’m thinking of was before the internet. One of our reporters did a piece on the declining fortunes of the museum, and the manager/owner was just furious about it. How could people not see the value of taxidermy, the animals arranged in fierce poses? Where else would a child in Indiana see an ocelot, or at least a pelt stretched over a form that resembled an ocelot?

I thought of that when I read this piece in the Freep today, by the talented John Carlisle, who used to be the Detroitblog guy, liberally linked here for years. It’s about the old keeper of a historical museum in Galesburg, Mich. He’s not angry, just sad and old and getting older, wondering who is going to care for his museum when he’s gone, when no one seems to care about it now?

Some days, he might get a few visitors. But there are also whole weeks when he gets none. Yet twice a week, right on time, he dutifully lights the red neon “Open” sign in the window with a yank on its cord, unlocks the door and waits in case someone out there shares his passion for the past.

He’s here because he simply loves history. He loves to teach. And because nobody else will do it.

Most of the museum’s founders and supporters have moved on or passed away over the years, and he’s worried if nobody comes along soon to replace him, all these objects and photos and antiques he’s worked so hard to save might vanish or get thrown out.

It’s a really good story, sad and wonderful at the same time. Y’all read.

And thanks to Alex for finding this artifact of the ever-deepening swamp of weirdness that exists in the far-right fever swamps. This is the MMA fighter who was arrested in Dekalb County, Ind., for either leading the police on a high-speed chase (the cop version) or just being normal freedom-loving citizens with a baby in the back and some car trouble (their version). I was fascinated by their repeated request for “three forms of ID, as required by law.” Is this a new wingnut thing? Say what you will about lefty lunatics, but at least all they do is refuse to get their kids vaccinated.

And so the next 10-day to two-week stretch begins, when I will be working my butt off and maybe dying, but I will try to open a new thread from time to time. I’ll be on the lookout for some interesting images, which is what we foo-foo people say when we mean “pictures.”

Have a great weekend, all. I’ll be in and out.

Posted at 9:58 pm in Current events | 67 Comments

The state of the union is chill.

Not quite midway through the week, and I’m on my second glass of wine, watching my second state-of-the-something speech of the night. Michigan’s was a 7 p.m. — pre-empting “Jeopardy!,” I ask you — and now it’s Barry and his beautiful wife Shelley and her fabulous suit. I am going to miss her like crazy, because no one in the White House is going to look that good after the 2017 inauguration.

Oh, well. How was your MLK day? I worked. I’ll be doing some traveling next week, for work, and may have some photo posts then, but the groundwork must be laid this week, and so no holiday for this girl. I hear Dinesh D’Souza trolled the internet Monday, just doing his part; Vox put together this explainer for those who haven’t heard his schtick before. I knew almost every single incident and comment, but somehow, reading them all together was uniquely appalling. Like Agema, D’Souza prefers ever-louder dog whistles, and I’m told his Obama documentary features a scene where he travels to Africa to call on the president’s relations there, bringing a gift of goats. Really. As one blogger noted, it’s as though he feared the gift of fire would frighten them. I almost feel like I have to see this thing.

You know it’s bad when even Mean Girl Megyn can’t keep her mouth shut.

Boy, does Boehner look uncomfortable. I’m thinking he’s going to reach for the Nicorette in 3, 2, 1.

So. I’m prepping to go up north next week for some reporting, and will likely not be very present here. I’m sure there will be some photo posts here and there, and you’ll have to carry on your chatter there. I’m hoping I can peel off to the new dark-sky park up there, if only to look around a little. They have a guest house that sleeps 20 that you can rent for $250/night. ROAD TRIP.

The SOTU is deep into its 50th minute, and Boehner definitely looks like he’s having a major discomfort moment. But Obama is his usual cool self, just loose and groovin’. How long will he go? We’ll see…

Posted at 10:00 pm in Current events | 89 Comments

All the options.

So we were just about to board the People Mover to Cobo for the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview, i.e. the Auto Prom, when Alan said, “Oh my god, I forgot the tickets.” This is the sort of thing you brain your husband for, but fortunately, his office is only two blocks away, so I cooled my heels in the lobby for 20 minutes, mostly people-watching but for some reason this carpet looked very trippy. I think it must have been freshly shampooed, because I don’t remember it being this vivid before:


And soon Alan was back and we were in. The entrance is right near the Ford space, so of course first stop was the star of the show:


That’s the Ford GT. Jalopnik got a little hot under the silks for this, and it’s easy to see why. Supposedly 45 minutes after the presser wrapped up on Monday, you still had to throw an elbow to get close to it. Was the greater threat the puddles of drool or the palisade of middle-age erections? I dunno, but she does have a sweet heinie, don’t she?


You can look, but you cannot touch; she’s one of the cars that sits behind a barrier. You can see why.

At the other end of the spectrum, this little cutie got some attention, too — the Chevy Bolt, an electric vehicle with a 200-mile range and an under-$30K price tag (“after federal incentives,” ahem), aka the Tesla for the rest of us:


I have yet to drive a Volt, so I can’t tell you much about how all-electric feels on the road, but my friends who’ve had them are very pleased. And while we’re talking zero emissions, heads up, Californians:


This Subaru is a hydrogen fuel-cell sedan, “and it fills up in less than two minutes,” the product specialist said. “I guess that’s great, if you can find a hydrogen filling station,” I said, and she replied, “And that’s why we’ll only be selling them in California.” So there. Enjoy your visit to the frozen Midwest, little Subaru. I like your color, anyway.

“Product specialist” is what they call car-show models now, and at the domestic booths, they are a far cry from just eye candy. Most of them didn’t even wear dresses; this pants ensemble is pretty standard:


That ‘Vette has a sharky face, doesn’t it? And that’s about the extent of my interest in Corvettes these days. I mean, I get their appeal, but contemplating owning one is like considering taking delivery of a peregrine falcon or something — it’s just not going to happen.

Speaking of fetching fannies, isn’t this Mini coupe just the bee’s knees?


I love how the taillights make two halves of a Union Jack. “Ooh, when can I buy one?” I trilled to the guy behind the wire. “Never,” he said. “It’s a concept.” Way to break a girl’s heart.

Hey, look, it’s Miss Michigan and what is she doing in an import’s show space? Pointing at a Maserati, that’s what:


I was so struck by her severe hairstyle and distinctly not-Missy gown that I asked what ever happened to Texas hair on Misses. She made a face. So lovely, though; glad to see the raven-haired girls in their ascendancy.

Every year I’m taken aback, again, by the strange visual elements of Auto Prom — the super-bright lights tend to make everyone look like they’re in a Fellini movie. I’m disappointed I saw none of the celebrities who attended, which is to say, I missed Aretha. The fashion trends this year were unremarkable. Lots of black, lots of fab shoes, men in kilts, boobs on display — the usual. This lady wore a churchy hat, but I think it worked on her, don’t you?


And with that, your correspondent’s feet are killing her and she’s going to head home and peel out of her Spanx. But first, she’s going to point at a Maserati, too.


Goodbye until next year!

Posted at 5:19 pm in Detroit life | 68 Comments

Last of the week.

Ugh, but I’m heading into yet another ridiculous round of work, so expect the scarcity from here. On the other hand, what is there to do at this time of year? We trudge to work in the dark, come home in the dark. Lately we’ve been watching “The Wire,” now that it’s in HD, and “Girls,” and otherwise wasting away.

Alan is still sick. He went to the doctor today, who said, basically, “You’re sick.” It’s the basic three-week cold that’s been circulating for a while now. We went to a New Year’s party at that same doctor’s, and he was coughing so hard then that I wondered why they didn’t call it off. Today he was still coughing. The affliction, he said, arrived around Christmas.

Friday night is car prom. Yes, pictures are coming.

In the meantime, a big court decision here on same-sex marriage. It’ still going to SCOTUS, and we’ll see what they say. And the governor vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for people with restraining orders against them to obtained concealed-weapons permits.

So, open thread for the weekend? I’ll be your roving correspondent at the car show.

Posted at 9:06 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 79 Comments

Alternate reality.

I was out and about in the car today, and heard a Washington Post reporter on an NPR show, talking about the resurgent campaign of Mitt Romney. Tanned, rested and ready! What’s more, she said, he intends to run to the right of Jeb Bush, because he is so clearly, clearly a conservative.

I was reminded of last Monday, when I was on the radio, and one of the journalist panelists said Jeb would be a darling with conservatives, his credentials being totally solid.

“Really?” I asked, because every conservative website or blog I see delivers the usual litany of blah blah Common Core blah blah immigration blah blah BUSH complaints. And now we have Mitt Romney counting on the entire GOP having collective amnesia about the 2012 campaign.

As the saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own point of view, but not their own facts. Although “our own facts” is sort of our birthright these days, isn’t it? Otherwise Snopes would go out of business, and Birmingham would be a Sharia zone.

So, then.

One of the things that makes life interesting is how new technology is adapted in ways its developers never envisioned. I read somewhere that the inventor of the birth-control pill thought it would be used exclusively by women in their late 30s and 40s who had completed their families but were still fertile. Ha ha ha. I wonder what we thought cell-phone video would be used for. This might be the next video looped on the evening news: Two Grosse Pointe Park officers beating and kicking a handcuffed carjacking suspect in Detroit. The beatdown was captured by a woman shooting through her front door. As you can imagine, the commenting score is now 5 katrillion to 7 in favor of the cops. I won’t say more about it; just watch it and see what you think. The action is in the first two minutes.

Today, I get to visit Flint, city of light, city of magic. Many years ago, the city of Hamilton, Ohio, briefly added an exclamation point to its name, i.e. Hamilton! I think Flint might try that: Flint! Or maybe consider changing a consonant, too: Fling! Or add some vowels: Flaunt. Whatever. Tomorrow, it’s Flint, in the single-digit cold and under sunny skies. I’ll tell you all about it later.

Have a good Wednesday, all.

Posted at 9:19 pm in Current events | 73 Comments

Saturday night fire.

So a few days ago a Facebook event floated through my timeline. It was for a massive Christmas-tree fire at a park in Detroit on the Grosse Pointe border. It was said to be an “unofficial fundraiser” for the Detroit fire department. You didn’t have to bring a tree, but you were encouraged to drop a few bucks into the bucket. Alan is trying to get over a persistent cold before his hell week commences (auto show), so I figured I’d stop by, see the sights and come home.

I arrived to find a couple hundred people milling around a medium-size pile of Christmas trees, and not one firefighter in evidence. Nor a bucket, nor any sense of organization. The stated time for the ignition came and went, and a rumor began to spread through the crowd: It was called off. Something about the fire marshall (not that a fire marshall was anywhere around, either). How did anyone know this? Who knows? It’s a bunch of people walking around in the freezing dark, waiting for a fire to start.

So someone started the fire.


I went to a Christmas-tree fire last winter, but it was held later in the month, so the trees had longer to dry out and went up like matchsticks. These trees took a little longer to catch, but pretty soon we had a pretty good inferno going.


At least one person had speakers in the bed of a pickup, and of course they were playing Motown, because this is Detroit, so soon it was a Detroit party with a big fire and a wind like a knife (18 degrees and a flag-snapping breeze) and everybody drinking and Stevie Wonder singing “Uptight” and hey, Saturday night. I looked out to the road, and who was arriving? The fire department. With lights, but no sirens.

There’s no big climax to this story. The firefighters approached, chatted with a few people, looked around and said, “I guess we’ll be leaving, then.”

I asked one where the bucket was. “What bucket?” “There’s no fundraiser?” “Huh?”


And with that, the big engine turned around, a few people applauded, and I went back to the car. It was very cold.

I got a new phone recently, and I’m pleased with the camera. One short sub-resolution this year is to learn to take better phone pictures. That’s not bad for point-and-shoot.

So now it’s auto-show week, which culminates in the car prom. I have a dress that makes me look like a desperate old tart and borrowed some swingy earrings. And all I can think is: I hope I don’t get Alan’s ghastly cold.

I don’t think I even have any bloggage. Maybe you do? Let’s hope for a great week ahead.

Posted at 12:30 am in Detroit life | 52 Comments

Catch up.

A busy couple of days. Please forgive the absence. Plus — whine, whine — it’s so cold. It just saps my energy. The Parka of Tribulation has emerged from its closet, and I’ve filled the pockets with all my crap, because I cannot carry a purse with the Parka of Tribulation. It would be like carrying a purse on an Everest expedition.

Life feels like an Everest expedition. By the weekend, we’ll be down to base camp. I hope.

I did clip a few things, however. During the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, I looked at some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. They didn’t do much for me, but then, I allow for cultural differences in humor, the hardest thing to push over those lines. (I recall an excruciating interlude in Argentina when I was a j-fellow, being squired around a newspaper office to look at the framed editorial cartoons on the wall with the artist. Nothing is more perishable than an editorial cartoon. Trust me on this.)

To wit:

But then I remembered what you have to at times like this: That it isn’t about stuff you like, but stuff you don’t like. Larry Flynt understood that; most pornographers do. That said, you wonder if men like this know how they’re going to die someday. I don’t expect they know how awful it’s going to be.

For those of you who think this is all about Islam, you might find this editorial in the Arab American News interesting:

Regardless of the identity and motives of the perpetrators, this barbaric crime is despicable and we should condemn it collectively as a community. At The Arab American News, we feel painful sympathy for the victims, most of whom practiced our craft.

If the attack was a response to publishing the offensive cartoons, as most media outlets are claiming, then it is a crime against all Muslims, especially in the West and the Prophet Mohamad himself, who preached tolerance and urged his followers to refrain from the revenge mentality.

The attackers do not represent Islam.

Clear and noted.

Finally, the NYT takes on another overrated restaurant. It’s sort of a joy to read.

Limping into the weekend, I wish you a good one.

Posted at 9:30 pm in Current events | 60 Comments

12 dead in Paris.

Well, this is not going to end well, at all. A developing story to discuss as we head into Wednesday.

And whatever else you’d like to talk about, of course.

Posted at 8:34 am in Current events | 58 Comments

Cozy evenings.

You know a) you’ve been married a long time, and b) it’s January when, coming home on a frigid Monday when your spouse took a sick day, the thing you think when you pull into the driveway is, “We can watch ‘Jeopardy!’ together, and won’t that be nice.”

And that’s what we did. I don’t feel old, though; that will come when I think the same thing about “Wheel of Fortune.”

Man, it’s cold, though, and will be for the rest of the week. Plus, snow. Oh, well. This is the latitude we have chosen.

The week started with a radio appearance, one of those get-journalists-around-the-table-and-discuss-the-news deals. One panelist said, “Barack Obama has dragged the Democratic party far to the left.” Always good to start Monday on a high note, eh?

I have little bloggage, I fear. I imagine the big troll bait of the day will be the do-as-I-say, not-as-I-whine Harvard faculty story:

For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.

Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.

Raise your hand if your insurance plan is worse than this:

The university is adopting standard features of most employer-sponsored health plans: Employees will now pay deductibles and a share of the costs, known as coinsurance, for hospitalization, surgery and certain advanced diagnostic tests. The plan has an annual deductible of $250 per individual and $750 for a family. For a doctor’s office visit, the charge is $20. For most other services, patients will pay 10 percent of the cost until they reach the out-of-pocket limit of $1,500 for an individual and $4,500 for a family.

That’s what I thought.

We lost our local gourmet cupcake shop a few weeks ago. I’m not sure what the lesson is here. Maybe that a franchise based on a baked-goods trend is a bad bet. How’s your cupcake shop doing?

When one crazy man in New York City shot two cops in cold blood, the police threw a fit, and their union leader said the mayor had blood on his hands. When this man shot two Pennsylvania state troopers in cold blood to “wake people up” and “get us back to the liberties we once had” — crickets.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Posted at 8:46 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments