Showing posts from October, 2009

New Feature: Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from May 27, 2009

Near Total Recall

I'll pick you up at the Stroh's plant after work, then we'll ride on our Uniroyal tires to Cunningham's Drugs for a milkshake. Better yet, a Vernor's float.

Speaking of beverages, I'm running low on Towne Club pop, so can we stop at the distribution outlet? I have my case of empty bottles in the trunk.

Then it'll be off to Great Scott! for a few groceries.

If you're good, I'll treat you to dinner downtown at the Rattlesnake Club.

After a day at Bob-Lo, of course.

Who says you can't go home anymore?

You can do it in your mind. All the time. Whenever suits your fancy.

I've pedaled my bike to Cunningham's, but for the baseball cards in the dispensing machine near the registers. Then I've traded them right out front, amidst the passers-by, with my friends.

Meet me at the Kern Clock. And while we're nearby, you can do some Father's Day sh…

My Two Scents Worth

Geez, how stinky ARE our homes, anyway?

It's appearing that the technology propping up the air freshener industry is rivaling that of home security systems.

Just saw an ad on TV for a product that is equipped with motion detectors, so that when "traffic is heavier in the house"---or words to that effect---it knows when to spritz more of the smelly stuff into the air.


Several years ago, someone let the air freshener people off their leash and now they're running wild, developing one product after another in an effort that we should all, as law-abiding, non-stinky Americans, take offense to.

To me, it's like if someone offers you a mint.

Isn't there something subliminal about that?

I know there is, because I've been that person offering the mint, and I can tell you that there was definitely an ulterior motive in doing so!

So here's an entire industry offering us various ways to "freshen up" our homes. What are they trying to tell us?

It started wi…

The Fall of the Autumn Empire

I'm about ready to put autumn on a milk carton.


You remember autumn, don't you? Fall? That once-lovely season wedged between summer and winter, like a crutch that we know can't possibly last but we're happy to use it as long as we can, anyway.

Fall---with its once-crisp, sunny days and crunchy leaves beneath your feet, the subtle smell of someone burning them, not too far away.

Fall---when you get into your car after it's been under the sun and turn on the A/C, only to have to turn the heat on the next morning when you hop in.

What's all this about global warming?

And who is the bloody Brit who moved here and brought his weather along with him?

Or maybe the invader came from our left flank, from Seattle. Maybe a Starbucks wonk?

Regardless, this is the worst fall on record in Michigan, nudging out last year's, which surpassed the year's prior to that.

In fact, where have any of our seasons gone? We used to have four of them in this s…

When Soup Was On

His name was Soupy, but his game was pies.

He was Milton Supman by birth, and like so many stars of that era, his stage name was a cocktail of nicknames and nods to others.

Soupy Sales is gone, passed away at 83 and it would be nice if you had lunch today in his honor. Then, maybe tonight, take a pie in the face to top off the day.

Comedian Sales took, by his unofficial count, about 9,000 pies in the kisser over the years, beginning in the 1950s when he burst onto the scene in Detroit, hosting "Lunch with Soupy."

The pie-in-the-face routine wasn't invented by Sales, but no one made it more famous than he. It got so big that stars the likes of Frank Sinatra, no less, would line up to take a pie from Soupy, who wasn't always the recipient---he could play perpetrator, too.

Soupy Sales was minding his own business as Milton Supman, child of a Jewish dry goods merchant who had emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1894, when his older brothers attained the nicknames Ham Bone…

Hair Cuts

The haircut is dying a slow, shaggy death.

Say goodbye to another of our traditions: the lazy, chatty time spent in the barber's chair.

If you think our depressed economy hasn't cut through several swathes of Americana, think again.

"People wait longer," my barber Vito told me last time I was in the chair. "Instead of six weeks they might go eight, or longer, between cuts."

It should be noted that Vito told me this as I was a few weeks tardy for my own shearing.

It all adds up. More and more people waiting longer and longer between haircuts, and the corner barber shop starts feeling the pinch.

Vito's been cutting my hair for several years, over at Filary's on Dequindre in Warren. He gained me as a customer after the previous owner died unexpectedly.

Vito's a Brooklyn kid, though he's no longer a kid, I suppose. He's been here long enough to call himself a Detroiter, though.

A year or so ago, Filary's started closing on Wednesdays, in additio…

Duking it Out

The cemetery which contains the souls of our child actors is littered with victims of stress, mismanagement, mental abuse, and weakness of will.

Patty Duke's grave marker in that mythical cemetery would contain all of the above on its stone.

Duke was the eponymous star of "The Patty Duke Show," in which she played two characters who were, improbably, identical cousins---Patty and Cathy. The show ran for three seasons, beginning in 1963.

The first season is now out on DVD.

Duke told CNN that she's excited her five granddaughters will finally be able to see what "Nana did when she was a teenager."

"I am tickled, just tickled," she said.

But Duke, who was just shy of 17 when the series debuted, was troubled. She says the show was a relief during what were difficult times for her. She wrote about her tormented childhood in her autobiography, "Call Me Anna," discussing her struggles with mental abuse at the hands of her managers, which she says led…

Up, Up and Away (Mentally)

So now the NEXT time a boy gets caught in a balloon, for real, we're not going to believe it.

I'm only being slightly facetious.

I resisted writing about six-year-old Falcon Heene---the boy who we all thought might be floating in the sky somewhere over Colorado in a homemade weather balloon---because, No. 1: I wanted to see how everything played out; and No. 2: I was saving it for a day when I had me some writer's block.

Well, No. 1 has cured No. 2.

Turns out that Heene's dad may have masterminded---and I use that word extremely loosely---an elaborate (again, loosely) hoax (tightly) in order that he might gain some fame and notoriety for his whacky weather research.

According to, authorities say the event---in which the tearful couple claimed their six-year-old may have been trapped in the flying-saucer-like contraption floating through the air---was staged. Richard and Mayumi Heene had met in a Hollywood acting school and pursued fame for their family in the world …

Get Over Weight, Already!

Why won't everyone just leave these poor girls alone?

America, one of the most obese nations in the world, continues to act skinnier-than-thou, making adolescent fun of female celebrities and their weight.

I've written about it before.

Off the top of my head, everyone from little Miley Cyrus to Jennifer Love Hewitt has been poked fun at, for daring to nudge a few pounds upward.

Yeah, like how many of us haven't?

The latest victim is Jessica Simpson, whose slight increase in poundage has become fodder for an animated ad developed by FOX Sports promoting Burger King, that takes place in the Dallas Cowboys' locker room.

Simpson once famously dated Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Some excerpts from the ad:

"Man I still can't believe Tony dated Jessica Simpson, even AFTER she blew up bigger than Flozell Adams!" the animated Marion Barber said in the sketch, in reference to his teammate and Jessica's ex Tony Romo. (Adams is an offensive tackle for Dallas.)


Right on Red, Right?

I wish Michigan would make up its mind: either have "right turn on red," or don't.

I have no clue what the criteria is to decide whether you're allowed to turn right on red at any given intersection.

In some instances, it would appear that right on red would be totally out of the question---because of how busy the corner is. Yet, it's allowed. In other cases, right on red would seem like a slam dunk, but yet it's disallowed.

Or, you can turn right on red only during certain hours of the day, to make matters even more confusing.

I think they're just messing with our brains.

Lack of consistency is a problem all over the traffic rules map in Michigan. Maybe in other states as well.

Let's look at intersections with lights dedicated to left-hand turns.

Who goes first?

Most lights are programmed so that the folks going straight ahead get the green light first, followed by the left turn people.

But in some cases---12 Mile and John R in Madison Heights, for example---…

Macho, Macho Man!

I wonder if anyone ended up knocking that battery off of Bob Conrad's shoulder.

Remember Conrad, the ruggedly handsome, much-too-macho actor who made his name in a wonderful TV series called "The Wild, Wild West"?

"West" was a creative show based on a clever premise: Conrad, as James West, and Ross Martin, as Artemus Gordon, were members of President Ulysses Grant's Secret Service detail in the 19th century. But the cleverness came in the notion of using artistic license to blend together two eras: the 1870s, when the series took place, and modern times, complete with technological gadgets.

The result was Conrad, as West, using space age technology to fight crime in a time before electricity.

Ross Martin's "Artie" Gordon was a master of disguise---kind of like the dudes in "Mission: Impossible."

Together James West and Artemus Gordon matched wits with similarly-outfitted bad guys. One of the recurring ones was a midget named Dr. Loveless,…


It's the time of year where we focus on scaring the bejeebers out of each other. In a fun, playful way, of course.

Halloween season is upon us. You can tell, just by driving through any neighborhood.

When I was a kid, decorating the house for Halloween took about 15 minutes. You taped a few cardboard skeletons and ghosts and pumpkins onto the picture window and called it a day. My favorites were the ones with the accordion legs made out of paper, dangling from the bottom of cardboard torsos.

Now, Halloween is Christmas's little brother, and growing up fast. Lighted homes, giant inflatables on the front lawn, sophisticated electric decorations all over. Color scheme: orange, of course!

Also time to talk about other scary stuff like movies.

What's the scariest movie ever made? That's easy.

I'll spot you all the "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Saw" movies you got---every one of them, if need be---and they can't touch &q…

Monkeying Around

If you can imagine being a white man having to apologize for making a racial slur to your boss, when that boss is Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young, then you can understand why Steve Graham might have opted to turn to the bottle.

But he didn't.

"I was tempted. I've been tempted," Graham, the old director of the Detroit Zoo, told me in a sit down interview some 20 years ago.

Steve Graham was an alcoholic; correction---IS an alcoholic. Once one, always one, they say.

I interviewed Graham on a show I hosted called "InnerView," a local cable program produced Downriver. And the chat wasn't too long after Graham made one of the most unfortunately timed remarks in Detroit history.

Graham was speaking to a small group of staffers, and was doling out tasks for the day. Someone brought up something that needed to be done right away.

Then Graham misspoke---badly.

"Just grab a couple of those monkeys to do it," he said, referring to some young black workers who wer…

Date Show w/David Letterman

So David Letterman is instigator, victim, and satirist---all rolled into one, and all about the same thing. Himself.

Letterman, who went public last week with a bizarre scheme that made him victim of a blackmail attempt due to some sexual hanky-panky he committed years ago with a CBS staffer, last night went public again---this time with an apology to his wife, Regina Lasko.

As usual with Dave, it wasn't totally maudlin; it was laced with self-deprecating humor and observational comedy---which has been conveniently presented to him by virtue of his actions. This is material he doesn't even have to write.

"I mean, I'll be honest with you folks," the 62-year-old TV host told his "Late Show" audience. "Right now, I would give anything to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I got in the car this morning---and the navigation lady wasn't speaking to me."


Letterman added it was fall in the city and that he spent the weekend "raking my…

Gettin' Corny

Howard Johnson's is dead and they took their corn toastees with them.

Pox on them, anyway!

HoJo's, with their distinctive orange roofs, used to be strewn all over these United States---part inn, part restaurant. And, eventually, part grocer supplier.

Howard Johnson's came to be known for their ice cream and something else that we'll delve into in a moment. The ice cream was so good, so popular, that it first became available near the cash register, in a serve yourself freezer, before being packaged and distributed to supermarket chains.

One corner of the box---I believe it was the upper left---bore the HoJo logo: orange roof with the name "Howard Johnson's" underneath. It was almost as iconic in the ice cream world as The Good Humor brand's little white truck.

But then ice cream wasn't enough, and HoJo's came out with some other items for your, as they say, grocer's freezer.

One of those items was something called "corn toastees."


The Boy Guv?

It was the old Texan, John Nance Garner, who put his indelible mark on the office of Vice President of these United States. It's not for the weak of stomach.

Being VP, according to Garner---who held the office from 1933-41 under Franklin Roosevelt--- wasn't worth a "warm bucket of piss." A weaker version of the quote substitutes "spit."

He said it, not me.

It was feistiness like that from the man nicknamed "Cactus Jack," that must have prompted my late grandmother to name her youngest child---my late father---Jack Garner Eno.

Garner's rather graphic review of his time spent as FDR's No. 2 man was due to Cactus Jack's frustration with the do-nothingness of the job.

I submit that we have a job right here in the state of Michigan that's not worth a warm bucket of spit, either.

That would be governor.

I don't know who in his (or her) right mind would want the job, but this time, it has nothing to do with do nothing.

Whomever follows Jenny …