2012-02-05 09:29 pm
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Michigan Pride

Nice Super Bowl ad there, Pete Hoekstra.  I used to think you were a pretty decent guy I didn't agree with.

I see you've deleted your negative comments on Facebook.  I also see your Facebook followers claiming that this ad is "not racist" and is "pro-Chinese".

I think you, and they, are overtly racist.  And fuckwits.  And if you're just pretending to be a racist fuckwit to drum up the racist fuckwit vote and get yourself a Senate seat, shame on you.
2011-12-22 04:11 pm

Siege of Troy

I wish.

Troy is one of my least-favorite suburbs of Detroit, a place at odds with the things I cherish about the region.  Troy, for me, is the sterile corridor of Big Beaver pockmarked by pricey chain restaurants.  I realize they have some good points, including the Troy Athens High School (which did a really cool "Live ISS" encounter for students a while back) but overall, the place is not for me.

Especially now.

Let's see... in between the charming new mayor and the idea to scuttle a regional transit center that the governor and the Chamber of Commerce backed, the place looks more than ever like a magnet for the kind of people who would destroy Michigan to "save" it.  And save it from what?  Federal funding?  Poor people?

Screw the Somerset Collection.  I will not spend money again in Troy until the place gets a political cleansing.  And I encourage anyone with a shred of either civic decency or an interest in human dignity to do the same.
2011-08-03 11:47 pm

Real Life Trolls

The local political fuckwit showed up at our neighborhood planning session tonight, despite the fact that he doesn't live in the neighborhood... or in the city, for that matter.  This guy is a gem-- he flies an Israeli flag emblazoned with swastikas on his house.  He's on his fourth pseudonym, making him effectively his own sockpuppet.  And last week, he took out a charming ad in the local paper advising people not to vote for one of his political opponents... because she's Jewish.  And because she didn't take her husband's last name, and a slew of other reasons designed to appeal to bigots.  Because when you run an ad, and there's a Star of David next to the name of your opponent, right next to the message "Do not vote for this person," that's awfully hard to misinterpret.

Mind you, everything he's doing is within the boundaries of the law.  I realize it wouldn't be in some countries, but here in the US of A, fuckwits like him are just exercising their constitutionally protected right to be fuckwits, even if Jew-baiting and swastikas are involved.  Anyway, he caused a scene at the meeting tonight-- attacking the moderator for not being a city employee or a city resident, stirring up the tables around him, and starting things off on a very nasty note before storming out in a calculated tantrum.  Then he proceeded to leave flyers on everyone's cars.  He seemed to have a female accomplice, who was grousing about how the city needed to go back to the way it was when Mayor Hubbard was running the show-- in other words, the days when black people weren't welcome here.   She left, too, and fortunately things settled down from there and we actually had a productive session, and nobody put anything about "getting rid of the colored people" on the suggestion list. 
 
2010-12-31 12:21 pm

Asylum

 My current location is here.  It is phenomenal.  They don't make ANYTHING like this anymore.
2010-11-29 11:54 pm
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Toss-Up

 Sometimes I wonder which is more insane-- Macomb County or Lenawee County?

On balance, probably the entire Thumb.  But Macomb and Lenawee have both spawned a series of true-crime stories from hell lately.
2010-11-28 12:31 pm
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Non-Profit Dining

 So, sometime last week, our local Panera Bread cafe was converted to the second-ever "Panera Cares," a non-profit cafe where all the prices are converted to a "suggested" donation level and customers can pay what they can afford.  So, my most excellent spouse and I went there last night to check it out.  Verdict?  Well, the menu is pretty much standard Panera fare.  I had the black bean soup in a bread bowl while he had a combo from their "pick two" menu.  We each had a peppermint mocha and bought a cookie for later.  The suggested donation price?  More than twenty-two dollars.

Yeah.  I paid it, being a hard-working virtuous citizen, but that sums up why we never went to the place when it was just a regular Panera Bread.  Their food is good but not spectacular, their baked goods are crazily oversized and consequently way overpriced ($7.00 for a day old loaf of bread!), and their menu selections are apparently designed to be frustrating.  Example: my husband calls the "pick two" option "pick two, as long as one of them is something you don't want"-- the salads that come with the combo default to Caesar, Greek, and house instead of the Signature salads that people actually go to Panera for.  In a town filled with excellent Coney restaurants featuring wonderful Greek salads, I'm not paying Panera prices for a so-so Greek salad.

Panera was a regular haunt of mine back when I had dial-up Internet at home; I really do like the soup in a bread bowl.  But as an overall experience, Panera Cares is more something to support out of community spirit than it is a place I'd go for a nice, reasonably-priced meal.

2010-11-17 04:45 pm
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Word of Advice

 Vocal Neighbor Lady on the street behind us is upset because her precious kitty brought home a "three pound rat" over the weekend, and she blames the local abandoned property (which we're trying to save).  Neighbor Lady is advised that the surest way to prevent kitty from bringing home RATS is to keep "Mr. Orange" indoors, instead of letting him roam the neighborhood where he acquires rats and such from the railroad tracks and the garbage bin at La Pita.

We have witnesses.  Keep the damned cat indoors.

2010-11-15 12:26 am

Shearwater Does Detroit

 So, Shearwater played their first-ever Detroit show at the Magic Stick tonight.  Awesome setlist, but Jonathan Meiburg's vocals were too low in the mix on a number of songs.  I don't care, though, because my most excellent spouse and I got to chat with Meiburg both before and after the show, geeking with him about birds and Pink Floyd and Detroit.  It was fantastic.  Shearwater's last three albums are three of my most favorite albums of this decade, and now I've talked with their songwriter/singer just like... regular people.  

Small crowd compared with the Cleveland show this April, though.  And I didn't like the opening act much.  Still... small details.
2010-11-10 07:27 pm
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In the rooms of her ice water mansions

 I find it weird and kind of touching that, in an age when the victims of car wrecks, plane crashes, and worse are shown in their blood-spattered and sheet-draped horror on cable news and the Internet, a sixteen-year-old picture of an unidentifiable victim of a thirty-five-year-old wreck is off-limits.

So off-limits that an article in the Detroit Free Press apparently couldn't state exactly what made this photograph significant to those with a stake in why the Fitz sank.  Answer: the victim was wearing a life jacket in the photograph.  But I had to look that up elsewhere.
2010-11-03 06:13 am

Poll Exit Thoughts

It's one thing to know you're in the same voting precinct as the mayor of your city, and another thing to see Mayor O'Reilly waiting his turn in line as you spin around, completed vote in your hand.

The woman holding up a George Darany sign on the street outside the polling place (an elementary school) asked the guy holding the Suzanne Sareini sign if he wanted to share her pizza for dinner.  He looked surprised and said no.  Maybe he just didn't like Hot-N-Ready?

I picked up some "shortbread cookies" from the bake sale table there at the school.  They turned out to be sugar cookies-- soft and chewy instead of dry and crumbly.  I like sugar cookies, but I bought them under the impression they were little rounds of shortbread.
2010-10-31 04:37 pm
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Kings of Shitty Pizza

I dunno who the man, or corporation, behind Pizza Hut is or was, but Michigan is the home of two of the perennial also-rans of the pizza business: Tom Monaghan of Domino's, who wants to build a little Catholic paradise down in the Everglades, and Mike Ilitch of Little Caesars, who wants to rule the pro sports scene in Metro Detroit.

Domino's finally got the message that their pizzas were caca-in-a-box and have retooled the menu so their offerings are edible; I have not tried them myself but my friends tell me that the pizzas are indeed pretty good.  Caesars, which has never in my lifetime been about high-quality grub, is likewise embarking on a new course by reintroducing their old "Pizza! Pizza!" deal in Metro Detroit. Ten bucks'll net you one square pepperoni pizza, one five-topping Supreme pizza, both of them terrible.  I'd welcome the abandonment of the utterly crass "Hot-N-Ready" campaign except that they aren't.  I guess you now can have two shitty pizzas within seconds of walking in the door.

Ilitch has been a good owner of the Tigers and the Red Wings, but everything about LC's is obnoxious.  While other fast-food joints have been steadily backing away from the notion of "we have pre-made food waiting under heat lamps for hours," the entire Hot-N-Ready business uses that yucky idea as its selling point.  Add to that the people waving signs at you on street corners AND the simple fact that their crust, sauce, and toppings are vile... well, they are.  Seriously, I used to like Little Caesars when I was ten or so-- we were broke, so two pizzas for cheap plus the Crazy Bread seemed like a pretty good deal.  And either my taste buds weren't honed yet, or the ingredients were better in the pre-Hot-N-Ready days, because I can't even stand the Crazy Bread now. 

So, one of these days I might try the new Domino's recipe with its spicy sauce, even if the money is going to someone I don't like.  But Little Caesar's isn't getting my business unless they abandon the race to be "firstest with the crappiest" and concentrate on what's going into the actual food.

Note: The Canadian Pizza Pizza chain is not related to Little Caesars.  Really.
2010-10-02 11:11 pm
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Michigan's Best

 I'd like to say that Andrew Shirvell, assistant attorney general for my current state of residence, does not represent the good people of Michigan.

I'd like to-- except that he's basically an encapsulation of the fear and loathing that is, indeed, representative of a good many Michiganders.  He's a distillation of the bigotry that remains so pervasive that a good friend of mine feels that he must-- in 2010!-- bring a female friend to be his "date" at a co-worker's wedding, out of fear that anything less will cost him his job if word circulates back to the boss.

Now, I don't believe that most of the men and women of Michigan who are not comfortable with homosexuality, or who believe it to be "unnatural" and wrong, are headcases like Shirvell-- or "closet cases," either.  Shirvell's obsession is so focused, so deranged, that I think it's fair to raise the question of his own orientation, but I don't believe most homophobes aren't are latent homosexuals any more than I believe that anti-Latino bigots are secret illegal immigrants.  It does not follow.  But the bigotry, the intolerance, is endemic regardless... and the effects are damaging.
2010-09-24 09:16 pm
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That Old House

Each city has its own code.  Say "chihuahua house" in Dearborn and everybody knows you're referring to the little brick house with the neatly clipped lawn and several dozen dead dogs in the freezer.

Chihuahua House came up last night as my sub-committee for the neighborhood District discussed what to do about the place my spouse and I refer to as the "sad house," the derelict specimen across the street and several houses down.  The sad house, with its broken windows and appropriately somber-hued siding, is a disaster zone-- leaking roof and flooded basement, rotten plaster and mold.  Every sad house has its story and this one's tale involves long-dead parents and indifferent heirs; you'd need a flow chart to track the number of people who need to sign a quit-claim deed to the place, but not one of them bothered to take care of it.  Or legally inherit it.  Or pay the back taxes, which aren't especially much.  Or even move out the junk, until this weekend when we noticed signs of movement.

The sad house, like the other homes in our District, has historical and architectural significance in a uniquely Dearborn way (hint: Fords are involved).  It may be as much of a loss as Chihuahua House, toxic from neglect, but it would be worth the effort to save.  

2010-09-12 10:47 pm
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World Container

World Container is not the best Tragically Hip album.  That honor would go to Day for Night or In Violet Light, IMO, with We Are The Same nipping at their heels.  But it's a deeply enjoyable album, in spite of the goofiness and many iffy lyrics.  The tunes are good, but I think the key to its appeal is the sense of genuine desperation that just pervades every song.  "The Lonely End of the Rink" is all based around a looney hockey metaphor, but the anguish and twisted-up emotion in Gord Downie's voice is so real that it ends up being one of the best songs on the album and one of my favorite Hip tracks ever.  Sure, it doesn't have the incredible majesty of "Grace, Too" or "It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken," but it's a damned fine song that just gets into the blood and makes me feel.
2010-09-05 02:28 pm
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There Is No Such Thing As South Detroit

"South Detroit" is, technically, Canada. Windsor, Canada, to be specific. I live north of that border.