Storytelling

Last month, I had the absolute privilege of speaking at a fundraiser for the Student Advocacy Center. They are a wonderful group that works to keep kids in school–that is, not suspended or expelled. My friend is the executive director, and I was thrilled when she asked me to speak.

Please click here to see me in action. (I can’t bear to watch…I’ll just look at my Fat and whine).

As always, I continue to thank my lucky stars that I am able to make money by writing about the history of my favorite city! My latest article is about the Kayser block, where Fourth Avenue Birkenstocks is now.

We are so lucky to have amazing events in Ann Arbor. One of my personal favorites is Nerd Nite, which features three speakers on any assortment of nerdy topics. I am thrilled to say that I will be doing my third (?!?!) Nerd Nite talk on June 16th! I will be talking about Improv–where did it come from, what is it now, how can you do it, too? Come on by if you are in the area–it’s free, thanks to our lovely friends at the library.

Too much about me–how are YOU?

What I’ve Been Doing

I’m counting down the days to summer break. Also, I am:

  • Reading. I am not fucking playing with you. You need to read this book.
  • Talking. I had the honor of speaking at the Telling Tales Out Of School fundraiser last week. It was just an amazing experience. I got so much positive feedback that I got overwhelmed. I am a decent public speaker, but actually pretty boring when you meet me. I always feel bad when people want to talk, because I feel like I have nothing exciting to say and they probably want to push my ass back on stage so I will say something interesting. There should be a link up soon, and I will post it.
  • Writing. My article about old timey Ann Arbor dropped–all about the old timey hotels!
  • Talking. I also had the pleasure of speaking at the Jackson Storytellers’ Festival. I told this story.

    My voice is really not that obnoxious in person, I don’t think.

  • Also, I’ve been watching a lot of Law & Order reruns. I first saw them as a young, undisillusioned child, and it brings back happy memories.
  • And did I mention that I am counting the days until summer break?!?

What I’ve Been Writing

When I haven’t been getting my young adult book ready for submission (ikes! yikes! gasp!), I have been doing other things!

I continue to have the pleasure of writing about old timey Ann Arbor. This time, we look at the parties of days gone by.

I also get to write about our local beer scene, which is never boring!

And, the food co-op book is out! Yay! For more info, see our Facebook page! Want to order a copy? Please send $29.11 to the PFC, 216 N. Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

And now, back to editing THROUGH EVERY DARK NIGHT (or, Ted-N, as I am calling it in my head)

I Can Smell a Douche From a Mile Away, Part 1

I’m ridiculously thrilled with a book review I wrote on Goodreads. It wasn’t, as I say, a bad book…just unnecessary. Has anyone else read it?

The book is called “God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m Fucked” by Darrell Hammond, who was on SNL for a boatload of years. My personal favorite character of his was the dirty-minded Sean Connery on Jeopardy. (I’ll take “The Rapists, Alex.”). So, yeah, it’s that guy. He seems like an okay guy, and I probably shouldn’t call him a douche, but I fear this is the future of books. Here is my review:

Eventually, the only major book deals out there will be given to celebrities and people with built-in “platforms” (e.g. people whose books will sell regardless of the quality, thus earning the publisher back the money it spent on the advance). Then we will all be left reading books like this.

It wasn’t that this book was bad, it’s just that it was not necessary. This is a multimillionaire talking about how he is a victim, the world owes him something cuz he’s here, and his life sucks. Oh, I’m sorry, did I mention that he is rich and famous? How exactly is he a victim? What else does the world owe him, exactly? And how again does his life suck?

If this book had been written by a non-celebrity, I would have been all over it. Except that it couldn’t have been, because the non-celebrity would be dead. This guy was given chance after chance. Total strangers recognized him and helped him out. He went into the most expensive rehabs. He kept his job even though he tried to cut his own arm off at work. How many of us non-celebrities would have that many chances? Maybe a few, but we wouldn’t get a book deal when it was all said and done.

I’m sorry for Mr. Hammond’s abuse by his mom. It sounded bad but, and this is going to get me some shade but I’ll live, I’ve heard worse. I’ve heard much worse. And from people who don’t have millions of dollars with which to deal with it. Yet somehow, these people don’t feel like victims, don’t feel owed, and still go on to lead decent lives.

I’m sorry he has the addiction gene. There but for the grace of God go I. But again, I know plenty of people who have that and don’t get book deals because of it.

All of that said, he seems like a decent guy. I’d like to hear from his daughter, the one he credits with saving him, and see what kind of dad he really is/was. I’d like to hear from the editor who bought this book, and why he/she thought we needed to read this. I’d like to hear from the millions of people who are screaming to be heard–the lost souls who need to be listened to and helped if they want it–but won’t because they can’t guarantee first spot on the best seller list.

Waiting and Writing Are Just a Letter Off!

I’ve been told that a lot of publishing is about WAITING. Waiting for an agent to notice you (the worst wait of all!), waiting for edits, waiting for a sale (oh please oh please oh please), waiting for the book to come out. I’m horrible at waiting!

But what I am good at it is just one letter off of waiting–and that’s writing! (Yes, I literally just noticed that!). So I’ve been working on my second book (starring Katie, from the first book). I’ve also been writing things around town.

I’m not sure if this will be an ongoing thing or not, but I was asked to write about beer bars for Thrillist. As you can imagine, I was thrilled!

I also have the best writing job in the world–a twice-a-month column on historical Ann Arbor things. This month, we look at parades.

And the food co-op book comes out in 11 days, at our annual meeting! Yikes!

But writing will beat the pants out of waiting any day! 🙂

Six Years Ago….

I really love Facebook’s “On This Day” app. Especially when it brings me happy memories of the best job I ever had.

Read about the amazing kiddos here!

I miss that job, that school, teaching in Detroit. If I can make enough money off of writing, I will go back in a heartbeat. (DPS now pays thousands less than my current job, so I would need to supplement).

Detroit lives matter, motherfuckers!

A History of Ann Arbor’s People’s Food Co-op

For the past few months, I have been working on my second (and hopefully not last!) book! It is another local history book, this time about our People’s Food Co-op. It is a fascinating place!

senior discount and peace signs

It’s actually three storefronts, which you can kind of see here. The first two (the ones you can see clearly) are the grocery store. The third (sort of around the corner) is Cafe Verde, a fair trade, organic coffee shop.

cafe verde inside

That’s the coffee bar part! It has very tasty coffee and tea and juices and all sorts of yumminess.

The Co-op has been around for 45 years. It got started as a card table on the street, with people selling bulk food. Seriously. And now it’s this big storefront with a cafe!

Front of Cafe Verde

The sun is setting and the Co-op is waiting for you!

I hope I did this place justice. I talked to a bunch of folks, went through thousands of pictures, and looked at every single newsletter that I could find. It will be released at our annual meeting on April 17th, and then for sale at the Co-op or from me.

Here is our Facebook page! Please check us out!

 

Random Book Reviews

My friend, Cindy, complimented me on my Goodreads reviews. Some of them are pretty good, if I do say so myself. Here are a few random ones:

Houdini Girl (Doug Henning is not in this book. I wish he was. He would have made it more fun)

magic2

So seriously? Was this book written by a 14 year old boy? Because if you take out the references to fucking and smoking, the book would be about 10 pages long.

I spent most of the book trying to decide who I hated the most. The Red character had some interesting things to say about magic, but he was annoying and stupid. There was no reason to love Rosa other than that he loved fucking her and then smoking with her. The “lovely” Kim? I wanted to punch her in the face. She was all about fucking (surprise!). And Rosa…her entire character was fucking, with the frequent cigarette thrown in. Why on earth were she and Red together, other than fucking? There was nothing else to her–just fucking. And smoking.

The only reason I didn’t give it one star is because the magic stuff was kind of cool. And I liked the Denis character. And the Amsterdam scenes were interesting. But otherwise, oy. I might have enjoyed this when I was 14 and sex was still a mystery to me but I’m 30 years past and this book just bored the, well, the fuck out of me

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (I sure did love me some Gene!)

gene

At the risk of making you think I am batshit insane, please allow me to tell you a story from my youth. At times, I would imagine that I was on a TV show, complete with an audience who would laugh, clap and go “ohhhhhhhhhhhhh” when I did something bad. But the “ohhhhhhhhh” was one of those, “Oh no she dinnit! That Patti girl is so cray-cray!” kind of things that you say while laughing at the protagonist, while simultaneously shaking your head at their craziness.

So I would do stupid shit, imagining that the audience was finding me absolutely adorable and saying, “Isn’t she funny?” all the while. Eventually though, I got over this and curtailed my stupid shit. Chuck Barris, OTOH, must never have lost his invisible audience going “ohhhhhhhhhhhhh”; I mean, he practically brags about paying for dozens of abortions, leaving his dog to starve to death, and generally being a prick to the nth degree.

Why on earth would someone put this in his autobiography? I mean, seriously? Other than that he thinks we are going to shake our heads and go, “Oh no he dinnit! That Chuck just so CRAY!”

And seriously? This guy was an assassin? He’s still high from drugs from the 50s…I wouldn’t give him a gun if it was World War 3

Ya-Yas In Bloom (I think the author was wearing crazy pants when she wrote this book)

keep-calm-crazy-pants

Are you fucking kidding me? Did this author not read her Divine Secrets book? I have to think not because of all of the discrepancies between that book and this one (wrong names of kids, for one). Shit like this makes me hopeful that one day a literary agent will notice me because at least I CAN FUCKING REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BOOKS I WRITE.

The Road

** spoiler alert ** The only thing that would have made me like this book is if they had eaten the father at the end.

Or had this guy in it:

ponty

This American Life: Cops See It Differently

Some of you know that I had the misfortune of attending law school.

CNR

You heard me.

Anyway, during my first summer of law school, I participated in this internship wherein we eager beaver law students helped inmates at various state prisons. We didn’t do much–mostly sentence modifications, visitation rights, the very occasional appeal. I do recall one guy who was very proud of his plan for when he got out of jail. His big idea was to somehow get the police to beat the crap out of him, after which he and his family would sue and then sit back and let the money roll in. Either that, or else fall in the parking lot of Home Depot (it had to specifically be Home Depot, for some reason).

I remember kicking my supervising attorney under the table, certain that we should say…I don’t know something to this guy. My supervisor just ignored him and went on talking about the sentence modification we were filing. I don’t remember what happened to the case, and I have no idea if this guy ever got out of prison or not. I feel like I should mention that this guy, like about half of our clients that summer, was white. Writing about it now makes me feel like he was exercising this privilege–like he was so certain of himself, of his superiority, that he could bait the cops into whacking him over the head and then hit the jackpot. I’m starting to get really pissed off, the more I think about it.

Anyway, I spent another jarringly isolating day during around and got in two TAL podcasts. Both had to do with police brutality and misconduct. Guess what color most of the victims were? Hint: they were not the same color as our convict friend, above.

It is so bothersome. I know about the well-known, publicized cases but OMG OMG OMG…if white people like our convict friend were getting beaten up in this way–

I don’t have to say it. You know what would happen.

There was one case where a guy in Florida got arrested under the “stop and frisk” 250 times!!!! What was he doing? I mean, he must have been running around the streets with a sawed off shotgun like Omar, harassing little old ladies and nuns and children, right? He must have been throwing bags of crack in the air and yelling WHEEEEEEEEEEE, right?

whee

Nope. He was hanging out at the store where he worked. Where he was employed by a very nice store owner, who also gave him a place to live.

Well, surely the police found something on him, right?

Of course not. They would arrest this man, Earl, for “trespassing”. He would spend a night in jail, and then get out again the next day and go back to work. And get arrested again. And again. And again. Because, you see, the town Earl lived in needed the “numbers”. They had to justify their police budget, police plan, whatever you want to call it. They needed the stats.

There’s more. There’s so much more. But it all just makes me think of that guy in jail, almost 20 years ago. That white guy with his big, grand plan to “get” the police to beat him up so he could sue.

This American Life 1st and 2nd

I am listening to random TAL podcasts in my car. I am going to blog about them. Please click on the About That Life tab you should hopefully see on the homepage for why I am doing this.

1st podcast: My Damn Mind. I picked this at random, because I could hear someone saying it as My DAMN mind. The first story was about a guy (I am horrible at remember names, so I will call him Joe) who had a manic episode at the hospital and–and I’m not kidding–he got shot by the police.

Guess what color Joe is?

So seriously, this guy had some issues, got his life together, but got hit with some Mania. He had the presence of mind to tell the hospital that he was having a manic episode. But he wasn’t put in psych services, and left in the general part of the hospital. Where there were armed guards/police because hey, why not? And they didn’t understand what was going on, thought Joe was about to attack them, and BOOM. Shot him right in the chest. A “kill shot”, it was called. Joe’s dad is a doctor, and he has other doctors in the family. But still, one of his brothers, upon learning that Joe was in the ER asked, “Did they shoot him?”

I’m sad that I know exactly who “they” is, and why an African-American man was asking that.

Episode 2 was about Doubt. Remember that I am listening to these in my car, and so I’m not writing down names. I want to base these blog posts on my memories, and not on what I read online, so I am hesitate to go back and look things up just to confirm names. So bear with me.

This story was about Michelle, who was 18 and had survived a dozen foster homes to make it to her own apartment and her own life. That is really fucking amazing. She had friends, had some sort of job, she had made it. Then some asshole broke into her house, tied her up at knifepoint, and raped her. And just to add the bastard cherry on top of this crime, he took pictures of her and threatened t put them online if she called the police. She called them anyway.

Then Michelle started calling people she knew, to tell them what happened. She called two of her former foster mothers. One of them, Sherry, thought something was “off”. You see, Michelle was talking like “she was describing making a sandwich”, very flat affect. So Sherry decided that the police should know of her doubt.

Initially, the police did what they do–took the sheets, did a rape kit, got fingerprints. But Sherry’s call put the brakes on things. In a scary fast way, Michelle suddenly became the “suspect”. Her other foster mom talked to Sherry, and both expressed doubt about Michelle’s veracity. Specifically, they thought that her tendency to overreact and show off and act histrionic meant that she very well may have been making this all up just to get attention. As one does.

Now suddenly the consensus was that Michelle was making the whole thing up. The cops called her back in and had her write a statement recanting her accusations, saying that she made the whole thing up. Word got out. The newspapers printed the story, along with her “false” police report and picture. They threatened to pull her public housing from her. The non-profit that managed her housing publicly shamed her. Women who lived with her walked by and yelled things at her. People called her a slut, a whore. She began to doubt herself.

Then, she got charged with filing a false police report. She pled it out, paying $500 in court costs, agreeing to probation, agreeing to counseling for filing the report. Not for being raped, because everyone thought she was lying. Because she was so robotic when she told people. And she giggled sometimes when she was telling the story. And because people like Sherry, who had also been raped at some point, just couldn’t fathom why she wasn’t hysterical and crying and why was she calling everyone and telling them anyway?

Years later, a rape was reported in Colorado. Long story shorter–it was Michelle’s rapist. They caught him, linked him to her rape, and he got 300 years in prison. So, yay. But Michelle spent years with all of this shit. Because one person cast doubt on her.

And that person, her former foster mom Sherry, still says that while she “doesn’t want to blame the victim” and she “knows this sounds bad”, she still thinks Michelle didn’t act quite right.

If this is not a shining shit show example of Rape Culture, then I don’t know what is.

Next up: Police See Things Differently

Living an Ann Arbor Life