Thursday, November 30, 2006


I was born in Detroit in 1968 which is just after the big riots of 1967. The 1967 riots, everyone tells me, were the big turning point for Detroit: the beginning of the “white flight” and the beginning of some serious hard times for the city. As it happens though, my white family didn’t head off for the suburbs until 1985.

Still, I lived the first 17 years of my life in that city. Most of my K-12 schooling was in Detroit Public Schools which is why I still find myself chuckling when folks talk about how they MUST live in the suburbs because of the good schools. But of course, I don’t have kids but I imagine that if I did have kids, I wouldn’t haul booty to Ann Arbor just because they have a better school district. But whatever, this isn’t a blog about education in the city vs the ‘burbs.

This is a blog post about culture and about art and about how there is just something really cool about Detroit that few people other than natives seem to get. But sometimes they do get it and when they do, it is a pretty cool thing to see. I had one of those moments today when I read an article in the New York Times about the new Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

I am really looking forward to checking that place out. I hope they are able to capture some of the character of Detroit there. I think it is in a good location for that sort of thing.

Monday, November 27, 2006


This essay in the NYT got me thinking about my dogs and how much they influence my life. I cant leave them home for longer than around 8 hours. I mean, they arent like kids and I can leave them when I go to work although on my new schedule, I have to come home to let them out on my lunch hour. If I need to go someplace that will require me to be away from my house for longer, I have to find a pet sitter (and I am lucky in that regard because my parents and my sister are both willing to do it).

I have to walk them. They have ruined my furniture. They have farts that can peel paint which they often like to let loose at night while I am sleeping which causes me to wake up sputtering and coughing. I often find myself walking around town with a bag or two full of poop. They bark while I am trying to watch movies. They kill animals and then bring them to me. They get skunked

But I honestly cant imagine life without ‘em

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Thanksgiving Report

It pretty much went well this year although I had *another* pie incident. I told my mother that she would have to give me complete pie autonomy if she wished me to cut the pie and to her credit, she did just that. This year however, my cousin swooped in and decided that I wasnt cutting the pie correctly. I just let her take over though so it was no big deal. Later, when I was describing this all to a friend, she said “I don’t understand, how can you cut a pie wrong”. My only answer was that obviously I am not the one to ask. Maybe next year I will take a video of me cutting pie and take a video of my mother or cousin cutting pie and then post them online to invite the internet to compare our techniques and perhaps give me some pie cutting tips ;)

Otherwise, it was a fabulous dinner. There were 22 people there and we all manged to sit together at the same very long table. That was interesting. After dinner and after dessert, we had a bonfire outside. It was a shame that I had to work on Friday because I was having fun sitting outside around the fire but I guess that is life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gearing up for the holiday

Thanksgiving dinner is going to be at my parents house again this year. My mother always gets really stressed out when she hosts and I think that is going to be especially so this year because there are going to be 22 people there (and five dogs*). So I have a plan:

  1. I am going to go to my sister’s house early in the day because she is having before-dinner drinks over there. We are going to give our three dogs a very long walk so they will be good and tired before the excitement of the turkey dinner and all of the people.

  2. I have bought 15 bottles of wine and 4 bottles of Asti (my mother’s particular favorite holiday drink). After my sister’s thing and as soon as I arrive at my parents’ house, I am going to uncork some wine and then I will do my best to make sure my mother’s glass is kept filled up. Some people get mean when they get drunk but luckily for me, my mother gets NICE when she gets a bit tipsy. What the heck, I’ll make sure to have a couple of glasses of wine too just so that we are all on the same page.

  3. As soon as dinner is over, I am going to get up and start clearing the table and getting the coffee and pie ready. My sister is also going to take this approach and most likely our sister-in-law and brother will also help us - my sister-in-law because she is helpful and my brother because my sister and I have always made it clear to him that if she and I have to help after parties, he has to too. Consequently, he has not grown up to be the kind of guy who would go watch football (or whatever) after dinner while the women-folk get to clean up the great meal that they cooked. I hope my sister-in-law appreciates it *snort*

  4. I have to work on Friday so I have a perfect excuse to leave early.

*Which reminds me of last year. Some of the neighbor dogs had come over and someone let them into the house by mistake which got all of the other dogs really excited. So there were seven or eight dogs running through the house and barking as some of tried to shoo them outside. My Dad was standing in the living room with his glass of bourbon talking to my cousin. He says to my cousin: You know what? I don’t even own a dog!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

This Week in Boobs

Boobs: There were a couple of stories in the news this week about boobs.

The first involved a mother in Vermont who was asked to get off a flight because of breast feeding. Ok, I will admit it. I am not totally comfortable when women breast feed in front of me. Surely this is because at least part of me has bought into the whole patriarchal idea that boobs are primarily a sexual part of the body. The thing is though, in reality, they aren’t. Breasts are primarily for feeding children. It is inexcusable for an airline staff person to tell a woman not to breast feed on a plane. This is ultimately a cultural issue and the problem is NOT women who breast feed in public, the problem is a culture that sexualizes a body part so much that people like me end up having a distorted view of the very purpose of boobs. Interestingly, the solution to this cultural problem is to encourage women to breast feed in public. For as uncomfortable as I sometimes get around breast feeding, I have become much less so as I have been exposed to it. Oh and I don’t mind mentioning that breast feeding on planes is a particular place where it should be encouraged. You see, breast feeding helps kids equalize the pressure in their ears. Which makes them more comfortable which in turn leads to LESS CRYING. Trust me, when I see a woman breast feeding on a plane, there is a part of me that wants to say to that woman, “Thanks for making my flight better!” Loud crying causes me way more irritation than my discomfort with breast feeding does!

The second major boob story this week involved silicone breast implants. The FDA has lifted the ban on silicone breast implants. What I thought was interesting about this story was that for cosmetic surgery, the cut off age is now 22. That seems strange. I mean, we let women vote when they are 18. We let them drink when they are 21. But they have to be 22 in order to get a boob job with silicone boobs? I assume a younger woman can still get a saline boob job. It just seems weird. OH well. As it happens, I am not a big fan of boob jobs for cosmetic reasons but then, I have always had really big tits so I have no idea what it is to go through life with small boobs in our culture where breasts are valued so highly as sexual items. Still, when faced with stories like this, I find myself wishing that women could learn to like their bodies the way that they happen to be. Even so, I imagine that women who are younger than 22 are perfectly able to make their own decisions about their bodies even if they might make decisions I would rather they didn’t even feel the need to make.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Things That Don't Annoy Me

I have kind of refrained from blogging for the past few days for a couple of reasons:

  1. I have been lazy and have been watching a lot of TV. Also, I bought some books over the weekend so I have been reading a lot too.

  2. I havent had anything much positive to say. I have found myself irritated beyond belief by small things.

That second one got me thinking though. I mean, I have been kind of hard on myself about being negative and being irritated by so many things. But then it occurred to me that while more than the usual number of things are bugging me at the moment (a condition I have decided is due to a lack of sunlight and the prospect of being at the threshold of a long dreary winter), there are many more things that are NOT bugging me. For every one thing that is going wrong there are many more things that are going right. So...I will make a short list of four or five things that are going right.

  • The powers-that-be pulled up that stupid unused railroad crossing on Michigan Ave at Lincoln St.. Even though that happened a few weeks ago, I am still swerving my car to avoid the potholes that were always there and have always been there for the entire six years I have lived on this side of town (except of course, for the day or two after the road crews would patch them up). I will say this though, every time I swerve and then realize that there is solid concrete under my car instead of an old falling apart railroad crossing with perpetual potholes, I get a little giddy with happiness.

  • I am finding that I have plenty to do and plenty of people to do things with. I am not bored or lonely.

  • I have already done some of my Christmas shopping and the rest is going to be easy easy EASY. You see, I decided to make a commitment to spending as much of my Christmas budget at stores located in the City of Ypsilanti as possible. I don’t know why I didnt think of this before. This means, no going to the mall (which I hate) and no driving long distances only to wait in long lines at some impersonal chain store. Fa la la la la la, no more Christmas bull shit for me. No siree, it is going to be unusual and unique gifts from hip local establishments where I don’t have to worry about parking or long lines. (Although I wouldnt mind the long lines at those places)

  • I like my hair most days.

  • I got a fun post card from a couple of friends who are staying in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Still Just Hanging Out...

I went back to Detroit last night and hung out with the old gang again. I think one of the nicest things about reconnecting with old friends is being reminded why I liked them so much in the first place. I had forgotten how much fun this bunch can be.

Brent gave me a CD with some photos he took last Wednesday. I picked a few of my favorites although I pretty much had to leave the ones with Anna off the blog since she doesnt want to be all up on the internet and shit. I snuck one in but you cant really see her face so it should be ok.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yay for the Internet

Hmmm. I was quite pleased when I woke up this morning. I got to log onto the internet and find out how very very well the elections went yesterday for the most part. I wasnt happy that Proposal 2 passed. But ok, I am sure that programs can be designed to help the same people in need and I am sure they will be so, hopefully, this proposal wont have a huge impact on people. We'll see though.

I ended up spending the rest of my day far away from my computer and the internet but I was only able to do that BECAUSE of the internet. You see, I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine and we were talking about some mutual friends of ours, some of whom I havent seen in 20 years! She mentioned that these folks were on MySpace of all things. That's right, MySpace - the online hangout of teenagers everywhere. It seemed silly to me to create a MySpace page but I did it anyways. And lo and behold, there those people were. Some of these folks I had tried to find over the years via google even but unsuccessfully. And there they were!

So I went and hung out with them today. It was really nice.

I'll post some photos later.

Oh yeah, and that rat bastard Rumsfield resigned. That was the icing on the cake of my day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

November 7 - Election Day 2006 (How I am voting)

Governor – I think that Jennifer Granholm has done a very good job as our governor. I think she has been fiscally responsible during hard times. She hasn’t done anything terrible like the previous governor did. I think she works hard for the state. She will be getting my vote. I want to point out too that sometimes she says things that are soooooo stupid that I find myself cringing. I think she means well though and I think she is like a lot of people and just not all that great at off the cuff witty repartee. I used to think that she was stupid but then I started paying closer attention to what she was doing and what she was saying that wanted to do. No, she is not stupid. She is probably the best governor this state has had in my lifetime. Plus DeVos is connected to Amway which is one of the only corporations in the world I think might be more evil than Walmart what with their pyramid scheme marketing that scams their own customers and all. Maybe if we elect him we can call up Ohio and tell them that if they can sign up West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania in our new Tax Revenue pyramid scheme, they can be rich (assuming of course that each of those states signs up two or three others). Soon Michigan can be funneling tax revenue from ALL 50 STATES into our coffers and we will be RICH RICH RICH! (or not)

Attorney General – Only vote for Michael Cox if you hate gay people. If you want to know just what I mean by that, read THIS

U.S. Senator – I will admit that I don’t know much about Michael Bouchard. I will also admit that I am going to be very lazy about this race and vote for the incumbent because she hasn’t done anything that I didn’t like or at least I haven’t noticed her doing anything that I haven’t liked. So, Stabenow gets my vote for sure.

15th District Representative in Congress – I’ll vote for John Dingell although I am tempted not to. I don’t have any particular reason not to except that I liked it better when he was someone else’s representative in Congress and we had Lynn Rivers.

18th District State Senator – Liz Brater. I get literature and pamphlets from her once in a while. I always think her views on things are pretty close to mine and when they aren’t, she seems to have good reasons for taking the positions she takes.

54th District State Representative – Alma Wheeler Smith for pretty much the same reasons as I like Liz Brater.

In the local races, I guess I am voting for Paul Schreiber for mayor and Brian Robb for City Councilmember since no one is running against either one of them. I guess that election really happened in August since there are no Republicans to speak of in Ypsilanti apparently.

And here are some opinions I have about the proposals.

Proposal 1 – This is the first of a couple of proposals to amend the state constitution to put budget constraints on the state government. Generally I think that is a bad idea because who knows what the needs or desires of the people will be in the future? Still, I value conservation and recreation and keeping those programs. So I am kind of on the fence about this one although honestly I am leaning towards voting no on it. I would support, however, regular old laws made by the regular legislature and signed by the governor that would earmark money for state parks and the DNR and whatever else.

Proposal 2 – The one that would ban affirmative action programs. This was a hard one for me, believe it or not. When I first heard about this one, I thought that it sounded like a good idea. I think I thought this because I wish we lived in a world where affirmative action programs are no longer needed. But then I took a long hard look at things and I have decided that discrimination still exists and so as a State, we are not quite ready to give up on affirmative action programs. But maybe someday we will be.

Proposal 3 – Part of me wants to vote no JUST TO PISS OFF The Nuge. Part of me wants to vote no because I don’t like hunting. But I figure that since I love eating the flesh of dead birds myself, far be it from me to stop others from catching their own. So, I’ll be voting yes on this one.

Proposal 4 – This is the one that will keep the government from using eminent domain to seize property that they will then turn over to a private business. I can understand why it is sometimes desirable for governments to do this. However, I also can understand why a home owner might not like it when that happens. I mean I wouldn’t like it. So the main reason I like this proposal is that it still gives the government a way to seize property but it requires them to pay 125% of the value. I think this will provide some disincentive for governments to use this power and I think that is a good thing. But if the project is important enough, there is still a way to get it done. So, this one gets a yes vote from me.

Proposal 5 – This is the one to give money to the schools. I hate schools and I hate teachers too. Oh and kids. And puppies. Just kidding. I am still going to vote no on this one for pretty much the same reasons I am going to vote no on proposal 1. I think that schools are important but I also think that other things like police departments, fire departments, public health departments, community mental health agencies, etc are important too. I fear that this proposal jeopardizes all of those other programs.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Worldwide Feminism

One thing I have learned over the years is that it is pretty easy, as an American, to forget that there is actually a world out there beyond our borders populated by people who dont want to be Americans. It is also easy to forget sometimes that while human beings the world over are very similar and generally want many of the same things, others might take a different road towards achieving those things.

Anyhow, one of the great gifts of the internet and blogging is that it gives me the opportunity to occasionally read blogs written by people from other parts of the world. One of my favorite blogs is written by a young Iranian woman named Proshat. It is a blog I encourage everyone to check out if for no other reason that to serve as a reminder that there are good people in Iran and that there are women there with a voice. We live in a time where our leaders here in the USA refer to this country as part of "an axis of evil" and the possibility of war with this country is anything but far fetched. We all need to remember that there are GOOD PEOPLE there as there are good people everywhere.

Anyhow, this post of mine really isnt to talk about Proshat (although she is wonderful). It is to talk about a post I found from a link on Proshat's blog written by a friend of hers, Sunnaz. Sunnaz writes about feminism in Iran (in English!). It is a rather interesting view into the feminist movement in an islamic society.

She writes:
Islamic history offers modern feminist role models (instead of western ones that are alien to them and generally viewed as a tool of patriarchal capitalism). These Islamic role models are used to accommodate present needs.

I thought this was particularly interesting. It is pretty common for feminists here in the USA to assume that our cultural context is easily applied to every other feminist movement in the world. And yet, how can it be? Issues like wearing burkas or wearing the hijab are examples of things most western women simply cannot grasp fully . It is important for us to remember that while we might wish to support women all over the world, we must allow them the space to create movements themselves because such movements will be more likely to work well within their particular cultural framework.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Same Thing We Do Every Night, George

My friend Henry sent me this picture he drew recently. And even though I did not really get the joke until it was explained to me because I have never seen Pinky and the Brain, I still thought that the RAT reference was appropriate.