e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu



Don't know if anybody cares, but channel surfing just revealed that The Pixies are on Austin City Limits. And they're rockin' out in a big way. Dang, I think it's almost over. They're old but they still bust a mean version of "Caribou."

Million Dollar Baby

Just saw Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby." What an engaging piece of work; each frame is honest and simple, no extra flourishes. Just three characters who seem to really exist. The representation of the Hillary Swank character's family troubled me a bit though. In a film that mostly (and brilliantly) avoids easy answers and simple solutions, I was struck by how stereotypical was the portrayal of a "hillbilly" family. Lazy, shiftless, fat (Swank says at one point that in her family trouble comes by the pound), welfare cheats who deserve their lot. Caricatures. The only mis-step in an otherwise good film.


Hannity insanity

I wish I had an exact quotation on this, because my paraphrase surely won't capture how precious was the hypocrisy. So I'm driving home from Michigan on Friday night and WJR is re-playing that afternoon's Sean Hannity radio show. Mostly Hannity is doing a roundup of pundits who praised W's inauguration speech (best presidential address since JFK, top 5 speeches given on U.S. soil in our nation's history, greatest oratory since the Encomium of Helen, Bush has crossed the RUBE-icon, etc, etc). Funny stuff, and I was getting kind of tired of the Life Aquatic soundtrack and Jay Z discs that were in the car's player.

So then Hannity starts rehearsing his regressive rhetoric about the protesters that were at the inauguration spend-fest. They're anti-American, out of touch, blah, blah, blah. Then Hannity turns to their elitism, which has got to be my favorite trope of American political discourse. White guys in tuxedos eating caviar and ballroom dancing and leaving the ball early because the next morning they've got to send more working-class kids to early deaths--they aren't elitists. But *protestors* signify elitism. Okay. But anyway, here comes my favorite zinger from Hannity (and, like I said, I'm paraphrasing here): These liberals dare to think they're smarter than us just because of their political opinions. Boy, are they stupid. I swear he wasn't being ironic. Good laugh, but I had switched back to the Jay-Z disc by the time I got to Toledo.

Dearborn, Michigan

I found myself in Dearborn, Michigan, this weekend. Mostly business, not pleasure, but naturally made time to savor the Arabic cuisine of Warren Avenue. I wonder what the late Henry Ford and Orville Hubbard--arguably the architects of Dearborn's massive growth during the twentieth century--think of the city's distinct middle-eastern culture.

Mainly known as robber baron and popularizer of the "Fordist" model of efficiency in mass production, Henry made Dearborn synonymous with Ford Motor Company (or, "Ford's," as most Dearborn residents say). He also maintained a program in social programming for his employees (including high numbers of Catholics, Jews, and immigrants) that consisted of sending his minions to their households to make sure they and their families were speaking nothing but English in the homes and not practicing the rituals of non-protestant religions.

Orville Hubbard came a few years later. He was mayor of Dearborn for over thirty years (from WWII to the early 70s), an era that saw the population double and the tax base explode. Hubbard was also one of the most infamous defenders of segregation and Jim Crow legislation. Even during the housing crunch of the second world war, even after Open Housing laws in the 60s, Hubbard largely kept Detroit's African-American population out of Dearborn.

Somewhere, Henry and Orville must be sitting side by side, watching the streets of Dearborn team with the highest concentration of Arabs in the world outside of the middle east. What must they be thinking?

Anyway, before heading for Butler County (whose racial composition and political ideology would please Henry and Orville!), I enjoyed a delicious chicken shawarma with fatoush. Yum...