We visited Battle Creek for the first time in 16 months on Sunday, spent some time with my lifelong friend Chad, and said goodbye to my mother for awhile.
The drive back to metro Detroit was spent mostly in silence, accidentally giving me a chance to reflect on the drive between Detroit and Battle Creek — one I’ve made possibly a thousand times and filled with memories at almost every exit along the way.
Exit 110 (Marshall) — Cruising downtown Marshall on Friday and Saturday nights during my teenage years, like almost everyone I went to high school with. Mostly PG-13 hijinks and getting into the kind of harmless trouble that teenagers everywhere have been since World War II or earlier.
Exit 121 (Albion) — We never spent much time in Albion, but I remember it for two things. One of the most racist guys I went to high school with ended up becoming a cop there, probably terrorizing its innocent Black residents for as long as he was employed there. Amongst mostly lily-white western Michigan small towns, Albion is one of the few towns with a sizable Black population, a fact that might have appealed to him when looking for a job.
The other memory is of our senior year and Chad was on the basketball team playing Albion, which had one of the best teams in the state. Two of the closest games Albion played that regular season were against our high school for some reason, though their record that year was undistinguished. Sadly, two members of our team have died in the last two months, Albion was incredible to watch that season and took a 26-0 record into the state championship game where it had the misfortune to run into Detroit Country Day, whose best player was a young man by the name of Chris Webber, one of the most high profile high school basketball players in history and soon to the cornerstone of the Fab Five. Chad and I and some other friends made the trek to Crisler Arena to watch the state title game and Albion gave Country Day as big of a test as they had all year before losing.
Exit 138 (Jackson) — A rite of passage of Michigan teenagers is making the trip to Canada, where the drinking age in Ontario across the Detroit River is only 19. Despite living two hours away, we would regularly pile five guys into a car and steer it to the border, one of us vowing to be the “designated driver” though that usually meant only drinking until a couple of hours until last call as opposed to all night. Determination of designated driver status was often settled by epic games of John Madden football, the loser saddled with that undesirable job.
Throughout bars along Ouellette Avenue and all over downtown Windsor, “underage” Michiganders from southwest Michigan drunkenly mingled and do what idiot kids do when they’re drunk. One trip I met a girl named Lisa, who had the misfortune (for me) of living in Trenton – a two hour, 30 minute drive from Battle Creek on a good day.
We tried to date long-distance, at one point agreeing to meet for a date in Jackson, roughly halfway between our two towns. I don’t remember much about it except it was the date where it probably became obvious for us both that it wasn’t going to work. We went to dinner, got ice cream from a semi-famous Jackson ice cream shop that I don’t remember the name of and made out in one of our cars for awhile — about as chaste a date as you can have when you’re 19. I liked Lisa a lot, but that was the first lesson in the role that geography plays in your love life, but I would soon get a lot more luck in that department.
All along the drive, the many of the familiar landmarks and signs still stand, as do the truck stops and gas stations, almost all of which I’ve probably stopped at one time or another — the White Castle at Exit 145, Grass Lake, Chelsea and on to…
Exit 172 (Ann Arbor) — This was the final exit of my work commute while living at various points east (Madison Heights, Northville, Ypsilanti, Westland) for more than 10 years, our company’s office sitting just off of Jackson Road on the west side of Ann Arbor. I started that job at age 23 and on the first day of work at that job I met my future wife, whom I just now realized I’ve spent literally half of my life knowing. On that day we were both dating other people and wouldn’t end up dating each other for another two and a half years, but I definitely do remember her that first time I saw her and liking her instantly. In this instance, she was single when I moved back to the Detroit area after an ill-fated six months living in Las Vegas and the rest, as they say, is history.
Exits 175, 177 (Ann Arbor) — As I’ve said, I worked in Ann Arbor for quite awhile and barely out of college myself spent a lot of time amongst the college age students of that era. Scorekeepers, Rick’s American Cafe, the Brown Jug — it was not unusual to see minor celebrities like Michigan’s football players partying. Brian Griese, Tom Brady, Drew Henson — all were free to be “normal” college students in those days. Especially for Brady, maybe the last time in his life he was able to regularly go out in public without being the center of attention.
Exit 185 (Michigan Avenue) — Almost back to Wayne County now, but first driving by the enormous Willow Run factory, one of the edifices that earned Detroit the honor of being called the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II. The Willow Run plant alone turning out one B-29 bomber every hour throughout most of the war.
A lifetime spent driving the same route and now I do it only once every 18 months or so, but a lifetime of memories all the same. I’m glad I’ve had this chance to spend so much time in Michigan and say goodbye as best as possible despite the pandemic.
In the regular phone calls with my mother during this pandemic I remind her that the cliche “no news is good news” has never been more true.
With that in mind, this update is largely in the same vein. We’ve been staying at Tanya’s mother’s house since Dec. 13 and have literally not left the house for anything other than groceries and a run to the liquor store since, Michigan having more effectively locked down than many other states.
After spending 10 days in hotels all over Las Vegas, this has been a nice change for me. Fortunately, we get along well with my in-laws, though I’m sure they’re probably ready to get their home back and return to whatever counts for normalcy in these times.
I’ve had a chance to shovel snow for the first time in 12 years and I’m happy to report I still hate it. I’ve probably tempted fate too many times since living in Las Vegas by saying I’ll never shovel snow again, but the gods made me pay for that hubris. (Fortunately it was only a couple of inches and I was only pitching in with my father-in-law.)
For the next week, it’s more of the same before we return to Las Vegas for three days to raid the storage unit for the stuff we’re taking to Mexico and then on January 6, the same day Donald Trump is going to attempt a coup with the help of his quislings in Congress we’ll be flying to Mexico. Not sure it’s irony, but it’s something and it’s all gonna happen without me paying any attention to it because I’m ready to get out of here.
Hope you and your family are well, staying healthy and looking forward to what can hopefully only be a much better 2021.
It’s been a tumultuous several weeks, but we closed the sale of our house Friday and have been spending the last several days bouncing from hotel to hotel here in Las Vegas before we fly back to Michigan to spend the holidays.
Were it not for COVID, this would much more fun of an adventure, but the pandemic has robbed it of any excitement, leaving instead only anxiousness about contracting the virus from having to eat in hotel restaurants and occasional bouts of rage-inducing apoplexy at your average idiot MAGA tourist who believe the world revolves around him and his needs (it’s almost always a “him”).
As you might expect, the kinds of folks who are traveling to Las Vegas during the worst phase of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years lean much more to the “I can do whatever the fuck I want and I dare you to tell me otherwise” side of the equation. They are regularly reminded there are rules to try and protect everyone’s health and they make a big show about how they put out they are by having to wear a piece of fabric over their drooling maw, only to have the whole kabuki theater repeat itself 10 minutes later when a different casino employee reminds them that there are rules in place to try and protect the public during a once in a century pandemic yadda yadda yadda, rinse wash and repeat.
It’s not fun for me to watch and I can’t imagine how it’s any fun for the MAGA turds in question, but it must be because it happens everywhere all the time.
Had I my choice in the matter, we would have just went to Michigan sooner, but the missus didn’t want to spend four weeks in her mother’s basement, a feeling I definitely share believe you me, but under the circumstances I’d feel a lot safer there than here. We spend most of the time in the hotel room and I still have to work during the days, so it’s not so bad, but it’s the reality of the situation when you’re without a home.
I’m being very careful not to use the word “homeless” because that has implications I’m trying to avoid, more so for the people who find themselves that way through no fault of their own or because of the harshness of our society. We have the resources and the connections to sleep very comfortably tonight and until we move to Mexico. That’s not true for millions in our country unfortunately.
I’m gonna try to get my MAGA venting mostly out of the way before we physically finish moving to Mexico, mostly for my own sanity and well-being, but also because it seems like somewhat poor form to bitch about a country you no longer live in. Like the person who grouses about his ex for years after a breakup. At some point man, just let it go. But for now I still live here and I’m stuck in this country with those idiots just like most of you. So I’ll soon have more thoughts on the crypto-fascist hellscape the Republican Party has evolved into in the days ahead. For now, I’m enjoying one final In-N-Out burger and flipping a virtual middle finger at the cruelty of late-stage capitalism mixed with the cruelty of the ignorant, uneducated masses. A toxic stew of white nationalism, cultural resentment and misdirected anger.
With the closing on the house now two weeks out and hopefully nothing standing in its way, we spent some time yesterday booking all of our travel arrangements and lodging in Puerto Vallarta for January and February.
“Finalized” in the headline is doing a lot of work in the age of COVID, where nothing is completely certain. Amongst our general fears the biggest is that Mexico could halt all travel from the United States, but with vaccines on the way and the Mexican economy dependent on the border remaining open that seems increasingly unlikely.
So that caveat aside, the next couple of months looks something like this. We have to be out of the house by Friday, December 4. We will be spending about a week bouncing around a couple hotels in Las Vegas finalizing some things including selling Tanya’s car, making sure everything is settled in storage and possibly even selling whatever else we can that we won’t need any longer.
We’ll be in Michigan over the holidays for about three weeks staying with family and hunkering down to avoid COVID and freezing cold temps (not necessarily in that order).
After the New Year, fly back from Detroit for a couple of days in Las Vegas to sell my car, say some last goodbyes and then January 6 we fly to Puerto Vallarta and take residence in our new city. We’ve rented a condo for a couple of months in the 5 de Diciembre neighborhood, about five blocks from the ocean. That will give us a few weeks to try and get acclimated to our new town and find a longer-term lease on an apartment or condo.
We’re excited to get going after quite a few weeks of “hurry up and wait”. Going to try and enjoy our remaining time here, but January can’t get here fast enough.
Seems like something that might be useful in the hellscape that has been and continues to be the year of our Lord, 2020.
You can read the article for yourself, but the news isn’t good if you’re an American or live in America. I swear I try not to project my decision-making onto the world around me, but it’s very hard when you’ve sold and are selling literally all your belongings and pushing off to another country.
Still, it’s hard not to feel a little validated that I’m not just crazy and seeing trends that aren’t really there. Yes, it’s bad out there and yes, it’s probably going to get worse. As always, I hope I’m wrong, but just in case I’m not…it’s still not too early to sell high and get while the getting is good.
But the rot that exists inside the United States, mostly with brain-dead right-wingers who are spoon-fed fascist propaganda 24 hours a day by a network owned by a nihilistic, elderly Australian billionaire, is not going anywhere any time soon I assure you.
The President has gotten his fake DOJ investigation and much like a participation trophy for a third-grader playing floor hockey, it will go up on his shelf and collect dust, signifying nothing, since there was no election fraud, nothing strange, certainly nothing that resulted in Trump losing five states that he won in 2016.
Folks, this is not how healthy countries behave. Joe Biden has been more gracious than he should have been considering how mendacious supposedly grown men and women in Congress continue to act about the election results. This rhetoric is going to get people killed.
The DOJ is going to find nothing because there’s nothing there to find. Literally everyone knows this except the only person these lawsuits are intended to mollify, the toddler who resides at 1600 Black Lives Matter Plaza. I feel compelled to remind you — these are the leaders of a national political party who are spreading lies and falsehoods about the election for one purpose only (other than trying to delegitimize Biden’s election, though that’s a bonus for them too) — to make sure Donald Trump’s fee fees aren’t hurt too badly by him losing an election.
This isn’t normal. None of this shit is normal. Your idiot neighbor or co-worker who believes any of this bullshit is not normal. We’re not normal. I can’t wait to fuck off out of this place forever.
It would be fair to say I have a lot of feelings and emotions about the confirmation that Joe Biden will become the next president of the United States in 75 days.
Of course, relief is the most overwhelming one. I’ve been very clear that the re-election of Donald Trump could have been the death knell for American democracy and seeing the shameful way Trump and his enablers in the right-wing media and in GOP politics have amplified numerous outright falsehoods about the integrity of the election only convinces me even more I was right.
This was a close election, but ultimately Joe Biden is going to win as many states and electoral votes as Trump did in 2016, preventing the corruption of GOP federal judges and state legislatures from putting their thumb on the scales to tilt the election if it were closer, even if Biden tallied more electoral votes.
The GOP disinformation machine was forced to stand down to the point where only the wingnuttiest of the ghouls in Trump’s corner like Rudy Guiliani, Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Kevin McCarthy were left to spout their falsehoods and lies about secret boxes, hidden back doors and (presumably) UFOs delivering votes in the night to inner-city precincts.
It apparently didn’t occur to them that inner-city Blacks might have been a little incentivized to turn out and vote against the person who called their neighborhoods “hellholes”, but that’s another story for another day I suppose.
For now, while jubilant that Trump himself has been removed from power, I’m still anxious and despondent that Trumpism itself has proven to be made of a bit more durable stuff and is going to be around for quite awhile I worry.
To explain, it’s necessary for me to pay some compliments to Donald Trump, which runs counter to every instinct I’ve ever had, but critical for explaining why I’m still pessimistic about the future of the United States. I’ll also explain why there’s some hope for optimism as well.
This election proved that Donald Trump’s political instincts remain very sharp. For the decades, the Holy Grail of electoral politics was figuring out a way to convince non-voters and first-time voters to participate in our democracy. Trump figured out the cheat code — appeal to their basest, most reactionary instincts and turn the presidency into a reality show.
Americans LOVE reality shows. Refer to Mexicans as rapists, call John McCain a loser — the thing or person or idea getting attacked is irrelevant as long as all of the attention for doing so is on Trump.
This feedback cycle overwhelmed our media and overwhelmed us as a nation until he had managed to depress turnout enough to secure a narrow win in 2016 with the help of misogyny, the FBI and Russian hackers. Once installed as president, the media is forced to cover everything the president does as newsworthy, giving Trump not only the biggest reality show in the world with him at the center of it, but an enormous grifting trough, also as large as the planet.
He used that feedback loop to build the base even bigger. During a once-in-a-century pandemic that he bungled the response to — arguably worse than any leader in the world — Donald Trump is going to get the second-most votes of any presidential candidate in American history. That’s an amazing feat and created a strong downballot performance from GOP senators and representatives on the federal and state level.
That we are lucky enough Trump himself is odious enough the idea of another four more years of a Trump presidency bound together every wing of the country from the center to the far left, from former GOP grifters like those in the Lincoln Project to actual socialists, ones that make AOC seem like the second coming of Phyllis Schafly by comparison.
Without a full repudiation at the ballot box, we are left in limbo —simply waiting for a more personable and dignified fascist like Tom Cotton or Josh Hawley to take up the mantle of continuing to build the GOP into a grievance-based white nationalist party completely disinterested in governing the nation and more interested in dismantling everything most Americans like about our society, from drivable roads to breathable air.
They may not have the showman’s chops to pull it off, but a frighteningly large segment of the American population have exposed themselves as credulous rubes, ready to believe anything sold to them by a snake oil salesman as long as they remained frightened by words they don’t understand like “election observers” or “socialism”.
The marriage of Trump and the GOP was an unholy one — both once upstanding pillars of American society, even if both had already been tainted by years of impropriety and scandal well before their glory days of the mid-80s. Trump used the GOP and the GOP used Trump and now they’re both used up and there’s nowhere to go but all the way to the bottom. Will they take America down with them?
No, we’ve not heard the last of Donald Trump or Trumpism. He will be asked — BEGGED — to stump for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in their Georgia Senate runoffs and if he consents those rallies will be something to behold. Trump raging against enemies real or imagined, an unhinged arsonist standing on a pile of kindling.
If his legal future weren’t so uncertain I would feel confident Trump could remain a GOP kingmaker for the rest of his life, so powerful will be the allure of pure, uncut Trumpism to his jonesing, dope-sick base.
His future IS uncertain however. There will be many stories written about where he goes from here and the options are fairly infinite. There are scenarios for which he pardons himself for various crimes and parks himself at the Mar-A-Lago buffet until his oleaginous heart finally bursts or the bile in his body finally reaches a critical mass and destroys him from the inside.
He could (and should) face the full force of the federal justice system for countless crimes against the people of the United States, which if we’re being sporting could be limited to financial crimes alone, but would still probably render him confined to a minimum security federal pokey for the rest of his miserable life.
Or maybe Melania justifiably takes a 3-iron to his dome and skedaddles back to Slovenia. Like I said, sky’s the limit really.
I do know that the future for the GOP is Trumpism. They have no other paths now, no other North Star, no other guiding lights. Even Mitt Romney has sold his soul. They were heading that way anyway, but they hitched their cart to a narcissistic, misanthropic, misogynistic white nationalist and a not very subtle one at that.
If that makes you a little depressed, here’s where I explain why I have some hope.
While praising Trump earlier for his accidental organizing skills by bringing together all aspects of American deplorables under one tent, where conspiracy theorists are free to mingle with white nationalists, climate change deniers, Holocaust deniers, Rush Limbaugh and other assorted right-wing scum, he also accidentally built a national resistance and cemented over a lot of left-wing fissures that he was able to exploit successfully in 2016.
The story of the American left since the 1968 Democratic Convention is that trying to convincing yourself any kind of lesson learned is folly, but millions of new voters and organizers have been added to the ranks of the politically conscious.
What is done is harder to undo — liberals and centrists alike have gotten a taste for the fight and might not be as willing to recede into the background and quietly govern as would have been the case if Hillary had squeaked out a narrow victory in 2016.
Yes, the federal judiciary has been packed to the gills with semi-literate Trump acolytes for a generation and there will be no changes to that for at least two years, but if – a HUGE if to be sure – the factions of the left can maintain their detente to both govern and bend the will of the public to a new kind of liberalism, it will not be hard to inspire voters to the polls every two years for the foreseeable future to prevent a repeat of the past four years.
If you want to be really, really optimistic that could be the worst of the best-case scenarios.
Yet another possibility is without Trump on the ballot, there is no Trumpism. If you think that’s not possible remember the GOP got smoked in the 2018 midterms without Trump on the ballot. The two runoffs in Georgia might be the canary in the coalmine that the Republican Party has sealed its own demise by getting in bed with the likes of Donald Trump.
At least a few million Trump supporters were brought into their devotion and fealty as first-time voters in 2016 and 2020 and could realize the extent of the way they were conned as news reports steadily dribble out about his corruption and his distain for his supporters. Q is not arresting anyone. There is no one pulling the strings, no evil mastermind behind the curtain.
This backlash could be what ultimately destroys the Republican Party.
Once America is returned to good (at least competent) governance under a Biden administration it might start to dawn on a lot of people that they were effectively held hostage under the whims of a madman for four years and the media was complicit in amplifying his every utterance as breaking news (as would usually be befitting the President of the United States). Trump exploited the media against itself and against the American people and should pay in the court of public opinion if nowhere else.
His enablers in the Republican Party will have no excuses, no rocks they can hide behind. Everyone knew who Donald Trump is. Everyone knows who Donald Trump is. The debasement of the GOP was almost completely total. If association with Donald Trump becomes a non-starter politically in this country, the Republican Party will essentially no longer exist.
He is a charlatan, a con-man, incurious, unorganized, self-absorbed and cares not one iota for the United States of America. These stories will come out. They might come out before Trump is officially out of office. His loyalty is not to the Republican Party any more than it is to the United States. His only loyalty is to Donald John Trump. He might bring down the whole circus on top of his head just for fun or to show that he can.
After all, no one likes to be used or played for a fool.
For now, while there is still damage he can do his final weeks in office, he has finally been exposed as the emperor who has no clothes. His political impotence as a lame-duck president is already palpable as is his fear of prosecution and ridicule.
Not my (our) problem any more. I don’t know how the saga of Trumpism will end — with the GOP gone the way of the Whigs in four years, a new ascendant center-right conservative party interested in governing jointly with the Democrats taking up the necessary role of a conservative counterbalance in our politics.
Or with the burgeoning ranks of Trump-lite copycats like Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes — ignorant in their own way, but with a tiny, tiny bit more dignity and class and a little less panache figuring out they too can lead America’s too-large populations of bigots and imbeciles to do anything they ask so long as they make sure to wrap it in the flag, unfounded fears of socialism, and owning the libs.
That’s gonna have to be good enough for me. I knew that months ago Trump had a very good chance to win this election and did what I had to do to protect my family, my assets and my sanity. This week proved me right in a sense, even if I’m beyond elated ultimately I was wrong.
Yes, things have been quiet around here. With the latest surge in COVID-19 cases we’ve been holed up at home and trying to organize where we can for our move, but much like the rest of the world, we’re just waiting to see what happens with the election this week.
For our part, we voted in-person last week (Nevada has two weeks of early voting) and now it’s the same nervousness and doom-scrolling on Twitter that it seems everyone else is doing.
I was thinking about maybe doing a longer piece today, but I don’t know that I have the attention or the mental bandwidth at the moment. I’ll have a lot of thoughts on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning depending on which way it goes.
I’m confident that a vast majority of Americans want to remove Donald Trump. I’m not confident that the federal courts won’t intervene on his behalf and essentially end 244 years of democracy in favor of a minority-rule apartheid state, in which case you might as well re-name the country “Trumpland”.
But, for now, we still live in a democracy and I’m hoping for the best. If you haven’t voted yet, please get out and vote on Tuesday. Lives, especially those of the senior citizens in our country, depend on it.
After a whirlwind weekend that saw our home booked for somewhere around 20 showings, we received four offers and just signed the paperwork on a purchase agreement to sell the house for considerably over the asking price. (If everything proceeds as scheduled, it’ll be a matter of public record, but for now don’t want to jinx anything).
By the way, it was my intention all along to have this blog be a forum for some longer pieces getting into this process a little, but I’ve found this specific part (selling our home) isn’t really terribly interesting to anyone except ourselves really. No one needs or cares to know what an ordeal it is to prepare a home for sale. You’ve either done it yourself and know all too well or don’t care.
And that’s fine! Truthfully, I don’t think anyone is terribly interested in the nuts and bolts of the sale of anyone’s home, especially mine. But hoping to tackle some topics in the coming weeks like what it’s been like to live in Las Vegas, the process of what goes into moving overseas and then eventually of course, what it’s like to live in Mexico.
For now, you get intermittent updates and random crap (for the most part).
Our timeline now looks something like this:
•House closes escrow/we have to be out – Dec. 4
•Fly to Michigan for the holidays/have somewhere to live until next year – approximately Dec. 13 (the time in between will be some decompressing, some farewells, selling our vehicles and anything else we don’t want to keep in storage, etc.)
•Fly back to Las Vegas to finalize anything that needs finalizing (more on this in the weeks ahead for those of you who like teasers) – approximately Jan. 3
•Fly to Mexico – approximately Jan. 5
All those dates are up in the air still though as the process of selling or buying a home even after a purchase price has been agreed on can be full of roadblocks, so we’re going to try and stay positive and keep getting ready for this move.
We had to say goodbye today to our beloved Houston dog. His joint and hip problems kept getting worse and worse and he wasn’t going to be able to handle either being dragged in and out of the house for showings or even to a doggie daycare. The truth is we probably let ourselves be blinded to the fact he’s been getting worse for quite awhile, but we didn’t want to say goodbye.
We adopted Houston in May 2018 after learning that he had been at the adoption shelter for 18 months. You’d think that would mean that he wasn’t friendly or didn’t like being around people very much, but nothing could be further from the truth. For the life of me I don’t know why anyone didn’t want to adopt him (other than his age) because he’s one of the coolest dogs I’ve ever known. We had a good idea we made a good choice when all of the shelter staff (and I mean everyone who was there came by to say goodbye to him and tell us what a good boy he is.)
He loved attention from people, so much so that if you tried to stop petting him he was apt to stick his head and lift up your hand until you’d start back up again or follow you around the room if you walked away. He ended up being very choosy about food (you can probably mostly blame Tanya for that one), but it might be just as well because he was the most flatulent dog I’ve ever known. More than once he cleared us out of the living room while watching TV as a family.
And he was a loyal guard dog to Tanya, overprotective whenever another dog would get anywhere near her which meant even if not for the bad hips and joints, long walks would have been more or less out of the question. So we adapted and made sure to take him for car rides until discovering that he would get so excited during car rides he would often poop.
So we adapted to that quirk as well and try to walk him around the front yard for as long as it took him to relieve himself if we wanted to take him for a ride. He was funny, brave, tough, loyal and lovable. Anything you could ever want in a dog and more. Anyone who had the chance to adopt him in those 18 months and didn’t is an idiot.
Houston (aka Bubba, aka Bubbasaurus): Say hi to Sydney, Willie, Larry and Zeke and one of these days we’ll see all of you guys again ourselves.