Empathy Be-Damned, Just Find Your Foxhole and Someone to Blame

When a tragic event happens, we’ve changed from a nation of mourners to a nation of soldiers in foxholes.  We’re stunned by the first noise then dive for cover and peek above the rim and fire away, perhaps taking aim.  Hurry!  Which hole will be yours–the gorilla’s, the parent’s or the zookeeper’s? Gorillas don’t kill people, the zoo does!  Do the same people in favor of shooting the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla support banning AR-15s?  After all, neither is by default a man-killer, but, in the wrong circumstances they can be as deadly as a seven year-old driving your minivan. If you’re in favor of keeping zoo patrons safe from the tigers, why should a semi-automatic weapon be able to be purchased legally by someone investigated by the FBI? Again, pick a foxhole! Sunday morning America woke to the news of the deadliest massacre in US history.  If you took to Facebook like I did and expressed your sorrow… Read More…

Solar Power In Bizarro World

Look, just because this is being written from a parallel universe, you’d be wrong to think that everyone over here is so totally freaky that you couldn’t possibly carry on a conversation with any of us without a cheat sheet in your breast coat pocket. “There’s more that unites us than divides us.” Isn’t that what the bumper sticker makers say?  Well, I’ve always put my faith in their deep wisdom and I think you should do the same. I’ll give you a ‘for instance’ because over here, just like over there, a quality ‘for instance’ makes everything so much easier to understand.  For instance, don’t assume that we on our side of the wormhole don’t damn well love to see John Wayne punch a hippy in his shaggy face, so we can hear the hairy dude whimper “not cool man” as he collapses like a house of cards onto the Duke’s unswept… Read More…

The $10 Voter-Apathy Tax: Avoiding Lead-Poisoning & Raising $1 Billion for Michigan

My first job was supposed to be as a dishwasher–until my buddy heard me mention I was applying for the job and got there an hour before me.  I ended up becoming the kitchen slopboy/custodian–mopping the basement and scraping out the grease under the prep table after the health department again threatened to shut down the swanky Pagoda. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Place your bets… The place is long-gone but I still have that first green pay-stub reflecting my 9 hours that July 1979–for $3 an hour.  I remember looking at the top right and seeing $27.00 “gross pay” (pretty accurate considering the nasty work).  Then at the bottom was “net pay” for six bucks less.  It was my first non-paper route payday so after I cashed the check, I asked my dad who had ripped me off. “Well,” he said pointing out the little boxes, “that’s the federal tax, that’s the state tax… Read More…

The Right to Bear Left: 2nd Amendment Mad-Libs, Replacing Cars for Guns

What if, under an old desk in James Madison’s study,  the following were found scribbled on the back-side of the Second Amendment–the words in bold written into blank spots like a Mad Libs page… Amendment 2.5:  A well-regulated Transportation System, being necessary to the mobility of a free State, the right of the people to keep and conduct Transportation Devices, shall not be infringed. After all, the right to transport yourself is a pretty inalienable right, too, isn’t it? Eisenhower saw the immediate benefit of the German autobahn–allowing quick movement of Hitler’s troops across WWII.  But in addition to Cold War defense, Eisenhower also saw the expressways as a vital route for emergency evacuation–all under strict central government oversight.  After all, you wouldn’t want your best friend deciding how much weight an overpass can bear, would you?  It’s pretty much accepted that some things are better off in the hands of Big Brother. Madison and Jefferson pushed forward… Read More…

Two Brothers Swimming Against the Amazon: Rochester’s Village Lamp Shop

Don’t tell me you haven’t done it–found something in a store, then guiltily taken out your phone to find a better deal on Amazon, Craig’s List or eBay. You could argue with your guilty ol’ self and say that in the days before apps, it was similar to heading into the tire store with a newspaper add of a competitor’s price and asking them to beat it.  But now, you just have to click the little button and the over-stressed Amazonians are already whisking down their sweatshop canyons of shelves to get your order out the conveyor belt before you reach your car–with the retail owner, like your dog at the beginning of your work day, watching and your “Buy American” bumper sticker roll away. In the early 1960s, Tom Beuthien was called in for the unheard of–an exit interview at Ford Tractor.  “Nobody ever leaves Ford,” he was told by the bewildered HR guy…. Read More…

Pick the Oscar Winners and Become the Next MMD Podcaster!

Predict how tonight’s ceremonies will go! Will it be a laugh-riot or a slow-motion train wreck? At least this year, there’s less certainty of the 1-2 front-runners.  But with John Travolta’s famous mispronunciation last year along with Kim Novak’s awkward moment, there’s always more to watch than the happy and pretending-to-be-happy faces of the nominees. The winner (or winners) will be invited to join us on our post-op podcast this week! Loading…   For some other Oscar-related posts… Kale Davidoff’s review of Whiplash Our 2014 Post-Oscar Podcast–covering the highs, lows and bizarres Steve Palizzi’s fun 2014 Oscar-picks Robert Phillips examines Seth MacFarlane’s 2013 (and only) Oscar hosting gig Kevin Walsh’s Voyeuristic Oscar favorites

New (and Old) Frontiers: Above Detroit with Aerial Photographer Alex MacLean

Alex MacLean has seen Detroit from the sky at various stages since 1980.  The large green-spaces below, for example, were once crowded neighborhoods and business districts in a city’s footprint that is large enough to fit Houston, Boston and Manhattan.  These grassy fields seen from Google Maps might be mistaken for parks. Similar green spaces a few miles north of town generally have bunkers and greens fees. A trained architect, pilot, author and photographer, MacLean lives in Massachusetts but has seen Detroit from above as Ronald Reagan received the Republican presidential nomination, for the 1998 demolition of the landmark Hudson Building and last autumn at  a request from the New York Times.  Each visit is like dropping into a different chapter of the city’s history–urban farms were previously dangerous abandoned homes and lots. From the sky, many travelers have to change planes in the hub of Detroit Metro.  As they glance out the window and see the river and the skyline, are they like… Read More…

The Consolidated States of America

This past summer the kids and I took our annual trip to the beach in North Carolina from Connecticut.  We decided to play the old license plate game along the way.  Of course, the kids added a new media twist to it using an app.  As we ventured down the east coast and tracked our states we started to question why there were so many states.  Why was Rhode Island an actual state?  No offense the Dakotas, you are awfully small. 3 teenagers and a preteen quickly reeducated me in the history of the United States, the colonies and how we came to be.  The capitalist and cost optimizer in me then challenged them with new thinking.  What if you had to start over today in 2014?  Would you have this many states and if so, why, and if not, what would you do.  As we checked the list of… Read More…

New Podcast: Detroit From Above – Alex S. MacLean’s Aerial Photography of Detroit

  Following the December 7, 2014 publication of his New York Times Sunday Review, “Detroit By Air” which examines the city’s dramatic haves and have-nots, photographer Alex MacLean is interviewed by Kevin Walsh and Thomas J. Reed, Jr. of the new website, DiggingDetroit.com. Topics include… Alex’s background, including his fear of flying leading to his pilot’s license Detroit’s past, present and future Regrowing urban communities Alex’s transition from aerial surveyor to gallery artist His favorite audiences Switching to digital, but still loving prints—and those amazing drones!   More information on Alex can be found at his website:  http://alexmaclean.com

My Trip to Green Bay: Experiencing America’s Most Primal Football Fan-Base and How it Made Me a Bigger Lions Fan

Stadium Strangers It was 2008. We decided to take a family vacation to New York at the end of July. By we, I mean: my mother and my father wanted to take a trip to New York and my brother—Chicago’s newest citizen and most eligible bachelor—and I—readying my venture of four years in East Lansing—agreed to go on one more family trip before I officially became a co-ed. Part of the lure, though, was the opportunity to see one of America’s most treasured landmarks: Yankee Stadium; which was especially important, since Yankee Stadium was about to see its final turnstiles turned that fall. The Davidoffs have, are, and will always be a baseball family at heart (much like Detroit is a baseball city at heart). There’s been something special ingrained in our pop culture souls that guides us to the baseball diamonds every summer. And in baseball, perhaps more than other sports,… Read More…

Ken Burns-on-a-Shoestring: Creating Buzz to Launch Mini-Doc “Digging Detroit”

“The Joe,” the battleship-gray windowless box on the Detroit River, is slated for 2017 demolition, making way for high-rise condos, a hotel and shopping as part of a pay-back to creditors owed $1 billion.  For a few months in-between wrecking-ball and ground-breaking, Detroiters will once again have an unobstructed view of the river at the corner of Fort and 3rd–as if looking back in time and seeing the Purple Gang hijack another bootlegger at the docks, before moving its haul up the street to the speakeasy beside the church. And that same little brick building on the left will probably still be standing when the condos are torn down in 60 years–perhaps making way for the next home for the Wings. When the 1974 picture above was taken, I was probably immersed in Channel 50’s after-school reruns of Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island or deeper in the way-back machine, The Three Stooges and The Little Rascals.  Inevitably I’d have to endure the “Let’s put on a show” moment as Alfalfa or Darla would… Read More…

Superhero Halftime: What “Guardians” Says About Our Galaxy

We live in an absolutely ridiculous time for geeks. If you were to create an historic timeline of superhero films, you could try and pinpoint the turning point with X-Men or Spider-Man. Around the turn of the century, when those films were released, the blockbuster world slowly began to turn on its head. In the 90s, the basis for most action movies was one of the following: (1) CIA agent, (2) rogue cop, (3) two unlikely cop partners teaming up for an action-comedy. After Sam Raimi’s success with Spider-Man, everyone and their uncle had to get their hands on some hot superhero action. But it wasn’t always pretty. For whatever reason, the studios knew that there was a market out there for all and everything superheroes, but they just couldn’t seem to nail it. Because where Sam Raimi and Bryan Singer found a formula that worked, other films like Fantastic Four, Daredevil and The Hulk failed to do… Read More…

Hamlet’s Hardy Fan-Base: Shakespeare Returns to Royal Oak, July 31-August 10th

Combine the magic and nostalgia of a drive-in with the most classic tale of murder, haunted castles and terrible puns, then throw in the potential rain-delay of a ballgame and you’re ready for Hamlet that opens the 14th season of the Water Works Theatre Company on July 31st in Royal Oak. The Globe Theatre didn’t have a roof.  The cheap seats were right up front where the “groundlings” sat for a penny and were able to bring their food—generally as ammunition—rain be-damned.  The producers, writers and actors knew the audience was an integral part of the performance—to their own peril sometimes.  Joseph Papp, in 1954, was the first to “out”  Shakespeare once again, yanking him from his dark theatres, anthologies, and thousands of stuffy classrooms. Over the past fourteen years, for two weeks in August in Royal Oak, Water Works Theatre Company has presented William Shakespeare to a growing fan-base of new-age groundlings—most toting folding chairs, rain-ponchos and a… Read More…

Botched Executions And the Murderers Exposed

“My planes, My guns. My money, My soldiers, My blood is on my hands…It’s all my fault.” I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, X. “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man.” William Munny (Unforgiven) As a frequent critic of the death penalty, I get one question regularly when I’m asked to explain my position, and it’s a question I wrestle with myself: what about the victim?  I read it again yesterday when I posted on Facebook my outrage at the “botched execution” (already a cliché) of Joseph Wood two days ago.  I pointed out that Wood took two hours to die, and that he was reportedly “gasping and snorting” for a significant portion of that time. A Facebook friend commented on my post, “What did he do to deserve the execution?  Then, I’ll tell you if I have a problem with it.” Joseph Wood What he did was murder his ex-girlfriend and her… Read More…

Perhaps “Compromise” and “Politics” Can Coexist? Candidate Fishman Switches Sides and Hopes So

At first, term limits made sense.  At first, letting the giant wooden horse into the gates of Troy made sense, too.  For many, the possibility of voting for a Democrat who was a Republican nine months ago makes less sense. “We’ve always had term limits; they’re called elections,” joked retiring US Republican Congressman, William S. Broomfield in 1996 to me when he was being inducted into the Royal Oak Dondero High School Hall of Fame.  Michigan had just voted to only allow its state elected officials a few terms under the design that it would eliminate “career politicians.” Instead we have legislative musical chairs with no one staying in one job long enough to make any decisions that have any impact beyond six years.  Like short-lived mayflies, state reps exist just three terms then they move on to the next election—maybe a state senate seat, sheriff, mayoral race or the… Read More…

New Podcast: Not Your Father’s GOP – New Democrat Ryan Fishman, New Try for Michigan State Senate

What does it take to drive someone away from his own party?  Ronald Reagan, after all, left the Democrats in 1962 after being a successful union leader for years.   Ryan Fishman decided last September to run for his term-limited Michigan state senate district after a series of his op-ed articles convinced others to convince Ryan that he should leave the GOP and take a shot at a traditionally right-leaning district. Ryan and Kevin discuss: – Difficulties (or not, really) in switching parties – Reagan Republicans and Reagan Democrats – The bad business logic of Right to Work, removing unions and poor short-sighted infrastructures – Door-Knocking and Lawn Signs – Being under 30 and running for office – Problem with planning for just 7 of 9 innings

Unintentional Vanity Plate: Revenge of the DMV Gods on a New Ass-Man

I’ve always chuckled at people who order vanity plates, but secretly wanted one since I watched an episode of “Dallas” and saw JR pull up in in his Mercedes proclaiming to the world that “EWING 3” had arrived. But like the cell phone and personalized M&Ms, vanity plates no longer require great wealth or vast oil-connections in the Texas legislature.  States realized the extra windfall and for $10 more, even without a genie, you too can be Larry Hagman. But I was always too cheap, too lazy to think far enough ahead or, I suspect to be the main reason, too self-conscious.  I didn’t have the nerve of one Dr. Kosmo Kramer… But the DMV gods have a sense of humor and decided to take their vengeance upon one silly mortal foolish enough to post a picture to Facebook while making a joke about Limbo. Saturday mornings aren’t the best… Read More…

Our Sanity Just Out of Rifle Range

Christina Taylor Green In the days after yet another school shooting, this time in Portland, let’s take a moment and reflect on how our attitude towards gun control and ownership has evolved in the past few years. The Sandy Hook tragedy took place on December 14, 2012, about a year and a half ago. Columbine was on April 20, 1999: 15 years ago. The Aurora movie theatre shootings, in which killed 12 people were shot and killed at the opening of the movie Dark Knight Rises, happened on July 20, 2012, almost two years ago. A friend of mine recently told me she was nervous about going to the movies; she was afraid of a gunman opening fire. Before 7/20/12, it probably never occurred to her that going to the movies could get you shot. Now, apparently, we should be afraid to leave our kids at school. It’s hard to… Read More…

An Open Letter from God to the Pious Athlete

My children, I realize you may find it odd I chose this means to communicate with you. Given the nature of my message, I thought mymediadiary.com, a site in which such issues are addressed, would be perfect.  I enjoy the site…I particularly like that geeky Star Trek guy, I forget his name.  Yay, verily I say unto yo, I chose this alternate media to communicate with you for a simple reason: while the sin I would like to address is serious, I admit, my usual methods of communicating my irritation–floods, pillars of salt, Christian rock–may be disproportionate punishment. Before I criticize, you should all understand that I love you all with an infinite love that you cannot comprehend. The span of the universe cannot contain it. Be aware that all of you are equals in my eyes.  Regardless whether you are rich or poor, whether you live a pious life or you steal, whether you come… Read More…

Garage Sale Ethics: Lessons Learned Over 40 Years

It’s like a slow-motion drive-by shooting, only less friendly.  They are the dealers—the arch-enemy of the true garage-saler. You’re sitting on your lawn-chair beside three coffee makers, two toaster ovens and half an illegal lawn jart set. Your garage sale just opened at 9 AM. You know it’s 9 AM because the dealers have been knocking on your door for a solid hour. “Do you mind if I take a quick look?” “I’ve got to take my son to daycare, but I’d love to see what you’ve got.” “Come on, you’re up anyway! Open up!” For the rest of that Friday morning and into the afternoon, you’ll get to relive that wonderful grade school feeling of being passed over for the kickball. Cars crawl by and decide if you’re worth choosing or not. Some drivers might politely nod, some avoid eye contact. Some just stare at you like you’re trying… Read More…