Archive for Detroit

Economic crisis? What economic crisis?

I listen to NPR a lot, especially at work. So I hear about all the stuff going down on Wall Street all day. And, if I may be so blunt, who really gives a fuck?

Fact is, I’ve been broke. Most of my life has been spent in an economic crisis. It’s called Detroit. Man up bitches.

These rich folks stressing out about stocks? Try stressing out about keeping your fridge stocked with something other than potpies.

These suburbanites are finding it harder to shop at Banana Republic? And? My ass finds it hard to shop at Old Navy. Now what?

Whole Foods? What’s that? I expect that when I buy food-unless it’s frozen, canned, or meat-it’s going to be whole. I don’t buy apples with sections cut out of them. I don’t buy a half a carrot. All my food is whole. GTFOOH.

You want a solution to higher gas costs? Move the hell out the burbs, closer to your job and take the damn bus. One dollar gets you a ride and a transfer and you’ll get where you need to go. Bus not reliable? Get a bike. Nuff said.

All I’m saying is that, right now, broke folks could make a killing “coaching” rich people how to be broke (they have life coaches, SAT coaches, interviewing coaches, and coaches for everything else, why the hell not a brokeness coach?).

Broke people, the tables are a-turnin. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. We’ll teach them the difference between the designer consignment shop and the salvation army. Sav-A-Lot/Aldi’s will have their own training section. We’ll have to teach them the art of making their own damn coffee. There will be sections called

  • “No, you don’t need the new Apple i-whatever. The one you bought 4 months ago still works just fine.”
  • “$500 jeans look exactly the same as $20 jeans and you don’t sound as stupid when you tell people how much you spent on them.”

And,

  • “Your Hummer is a waste of money and a clear indication about the size of your penis, now get your ass a Honda and stop being an insecure pussy.”
  • “Don’t throw away that chicken grease! You can use it at least two more times.”

Yep, broke people, it’s our time to shine.

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The First Week of The Job + Sometimes life really sucks

So I started my new job on the 18th. Because my boss is amazingly cheap, training days are unpaid (yes, that’s legal). I had worked there before, I only really needed a refresher on the cash register. Monday and Wednesday were my official “training days” not that I needed training on Wednesday, but like I said my boss is a cheap bastard (the man knows how much each individual napkin costs, he’s that cheap) and nothing is cheaper than free labor.

Noe before I get into anything, let me give you the cast of characters:

There’s S1. A cute little 16 year old girl who acts like a cute little 16 year old girl, which makes me ever so happy that she normally works the second shift because I’d have to strangle her happy peppy ass one day.

S2 is her sister. S2 is older than S1 by a year, however she seemed to have missed the happy peppy train that S1 caught. She’s also not quite as cute.

Cook. He’s the cook. He’s also a pretty good singer. Or at least he can carry a tune while singing in Arabic. I have no clue what any of what he’s singing translates to. It could well be some Arabic version of Baa Baa Black Sheep and you have to really suck to fuck that song up.

The Amazing Beulah, or TAB for short. She’s a dishwasher. I gave her that name because she looks like she could well have been some middle eastern female wrestler at some point in her life. She’s bulky (not fat, but very square) and she scares the hell out of me. Plus I don’t think she likes me too much.

Boss. This should be pretty obvious. He’s the boss. He’s also the owner of the restaurant and a tight fisted penny pincher. I defy his miserliness with no problem because I need my damn tips. Screw his overhead, I got bills.

Mo. A waiter/cook/manager. He’s a bit younger than me. S1 has a crush on him and flirts with him as often as possible. He happily flirts back. Apparently no one has made clear to him just year that here in the US, a 26 year old guy can go to jail for messing with a 16 year old girl. I wonder if I should tell him….NAH!

Mel. A waitress. I’ve met her once. She mostly works night shift on days that I don’t work at all. She probably won’t get much mention.

Ok, I should also state that besides me, S1, S2, and Mel, everyone there is Arab and speaks Arabic as their native language.  This means most days it’s just me and a gang of Arabs, and when they don’t want me to know something, they start chatting away in Arabic. I’m not yet convinced that they’re talking about me, but then again you never know. My conversational Arabic is limited to a few…impolite words.

Anyway, back to my story.

S1 “trained” me my first day, though I figured out more by myself the second day (working with Mo) than I did with her. Day one’s tips were ok. S1 and I split the tables so I would have made more if we hadn’t. Day two’s tips…meh. Again, table splitting with Mo.

Thursday and Friday I had off. My legs and feet were thankful. By the end of Wedsnesday I felt like my legs had been beaten and not in the fun way. Adidas are definitely NOT waitressing shoes.

Saturday was the worst fucking day of waitressing I’ve ever had. Ever. And I’ve done a lot of waitressing. In the course of 7 hours, I made $4. From take out orders. We had not one sit down order. I worked with S2 that day. Four hours after opening, Boss came in bitching at us because we were sitting around (what did he expect us to do). I came pretty close to telling him to kiss my ass, but held back. S2 had to leave early, which she discussed with Mo, but Mo failed to discuss this with Boss. Mo also failed to call me or leave me a note saying that I was supposed to be training S2. Apparently S2 didn’t know this either. I didn’t find out until after S2 had left for the day. Fucking yay.

Sunday, day off. Yep. I only work three days a week for now. I’ll probably pick up more days after The Kid starts school.

Monday, it was just me. Well, me and the health inspector that showed up two weeks early. I called Boss to let him know, and he got there quick (why he doesn’t get his ass in that fast any other time is beyond me). She pointed out some stuff that I had a feeling she was going to point out, large containers of hummus and baba ganoush were dumped for being 5º to warm, cooked chicken had heat turned up under it for being 5º too cold. But beyond all that it was a pretty good day. Pulled a little under $40 in tips and was one damn happy camper (my tank and wallet were both on E thanks to Saturday’s bullshit). I treated myself to an Epsom salt bath soak. All was right with the world.

Tuesday I woke up with a phone call from my sister. She didn’t really want anything.  Just to chat. I hung up with her to go potty, if I had waited for her to decide to hang up first I’d have wet the damn bed. That woman doesn’t stop talking.

I got up, did my usual morning routine of coffee and some half assed breakfast along with checking email and RSS feeds.  Around noon my sister called, but my phone had been in the basement with me which meant I was roaming (an extra $2 if you’re with sprint). I took the phone upstairs and left it. She hadn’t left a message so it must not have been very important. I was quite mistaken.

I called her back 15 minutes later to hear her say “Aunt N*** died.”

I did a mental double take, “Wait…what?”

“Aunt N*** died.” she sniffled.

I still wasn’t really comprehending what she was telling me, “What? When? What happened?”

“They found her this morning. Grandma B**** talked to her last night before going to bed, this morning they found her dead.”

I was stunned. Completely blown back. This was my grandfather’s sister.

My greatgrandparents had 11 kids. My grandfather is oldest of them all. The youngest is younger than my 50 year old father. My greatgrandma (Grandma B****) just turned 88 this year, so yeah she was pretty young when she started (but that was about WW II, so it was pretty common). The aunt that died was one of the younger children. About mid-50s.

After I got my head together I drove to my sister’s house where I was greeted with hugs and kisses from The Kid (who is staying there until school starts, or until after xmas -which we don’t celebrate- if she has anything to say about it…she doesn’t). I instantly felt better. My sister and I watch novelas, munched on home made cookies and chatted while we waited for my mom to finish up her vet appointment so we could all go to visit my greatgrandma together (GGM and Aunt N lived next door to each other).

When we pulled up, we heard the most miraculous thing coming from the house: laughter. A few of my other aunts and uncles were there helping to get things set out (clothes for Aunt N, pictures so the mortuary would know how she looked). GGM was on the porch with some family friends (and family) chatting. It took me a bit to realise that she was the reason there was laughter and some lightness.

GGM is from Mississippi, she grew up during Jim Crow, and God only knows what she was subjected to as a black woman of the deep south. She’s nothing if not stoic. When I was 11, she watched her husband wither away to near nothing as pancreatic cancer slowly took his life. No doubt she cried, and cried hard. But she never asked for pity, or sympathy. She never used her husband’s disease or her widowhood to get something. She accepted his disease and death as being God’s will. And what struggles she had with God and that will privately, I don’t think we’ll ever know.

While at her house I watched her. She laughed and smiled and chatted like it was a normal day. But it wasn’t denial. It was acceptance. She told someone over the phone “Ain’t no use getting upset and beatin yourself up over it. God takes what’s His. Ain’t a thang we can do bout it.” Thus the family matriarch sets the tone for the next week until my Aunt’s funeral. And if my greatgrandfather’s funeral was any example, there will be no loss of dignity, no melodramatic moaning and wailing, no flinging of ones self over the body, no hollaring or carrying on. There will be mourning, dignified and quiet, but nothing to cause embarrassment. GGM will be the rule by which we measure ourselves that day.

After leaving there we went to an italian restaurant and indulged in desserts that are most fitting for three women in a state of mourning: rich, sweet and chocolate.

I eventually went to bed around 1am. How I managed to actually sleep is beyond me, but I did.

Today I refused to call off. I was going to go to work and stay there come hell or high water. Unfortunately it went down hill pretty fast. After the second cash paying customer I was completely out of 1s, 5s and 10s and Boss was nowhere to be found. Add to that the fact that I had four tables, all of whom would want to pay eventually, and the stress began to build. Then the credit card machine gave off an error message. Still no Boss. Still no change. More stress. Then I had a table that wanted a carrot juice. I’ve never made carrot juice. I had no idea how to hook up the juicer, neither did Cook. Once we got it together, there was no where that I could plug it up AND use it. After fighting with it, failing and having two people walk out unserved, I cracked. I went to the table and apologised profusely. Trying really hard not to cry. I did though. I had to explain to her that it wasn’t just the juice, but the juice on top of other problems plus the death of an aunt and I was sort of having a plainly crappy day.

Yes I looked like a flake, but at that moment I really didn’t care. I hurried back into the kitchen and composed myself (after crying a little more). Cook knew what was going on with me and called Mo to come in early to take over for me. Mo didn’t come in early (I kinda didn’t want to), but after that cry I felt a lot better. Carrot juice table paid and I gave them change out of my own wallet (oh, don’t worry I got my damn money back). I took care of my remaining tables (who had, fortunately, come in post-breakdown). I then snatch $40 from the till (all we had were 20s), ran to another pita joint down the street (which was doing more business than we were at the moment…and they were hiring…hmmmmm), got change and came back in time to find one table seated and a to go order that Cook had already started prepairing (God bless that man) I just had to ring it up.

After that, smooth sailing. I pulled in about $32 in tips. Eventually Boss showed up. He was mad about something having to do with the inspection. What exactly I don’t know. He was busy yelling at Cook at TAB in Arabic. After a while he cooled off a bit.

You know…now that I’m employed I can’t use the tag Unemployment Blues. I need a new one. But I can’t think of one. Dammit.

Birthday and forced labor

Last monday was my birthday. I am now the disturbingly close to 30 age of 27. I always said I wouldn’t be one of those people who over analyzes everything on their birthday, but the older I get the harder that becomes.

Tuesday I dropped H off at the airport for a trip to…erm…somewhere. Who the hell knows. Then headed out to Detroit. The week before I got a call from my mom, “What are you doing from the 1st to the 7th?” Um…nothing I think. Why? “Good, you’re coming down here to help me clean up the house.” *pause* O…k…

This is my mom. What am I going to say? “No clean your own damn house”? That whole giving birth and raising me thing sort of makes it hard to say that.

So I spent the last week cleaning my mom’s house, hanging out with a childhood friend, and shuttling between my sister’s house and my parent’s (which sucked up a LOT of gas). It took us the better part of two days to clean my mom’s kitchen. This included cleaning out the cabinets, removing their handles and shelves, washing EVERYTHING (including walls and ceiling), sorting though dishes, glasses, mugs, sliverware, and cooking utensils, hauling bag after bag after bag after bag of garbage to the big dumpster they rented when they had the siding on their house redone. Not to mention cleaning out their refigerator (which REALLY needed it), washing the floor, soaking and scrubbing the cabinet handles in a mix of LA’s Totally Awesome All Purpose Cleaner (the ONLY cleaner I absolutely SWEAR by…even though I’m certain the fumes have erased a few much needed braincells) and water; which removed not only years of grease and oil and dirt, but also the finish from the handles.

Thursday we took care of most of the dining and living rooms, Friday we finished so my parents could bbq and have company over. I also cleaned their bathroom, moving all unnecessary items from the back of the toilet to a shelf in their linen closet. Saturday a few of those items were back on the back of the toilet and I gave up. Sunday I went over to my sister’s house to help her prepare for a bbq. This mostly entailed running errands. More gas guzzling.

Today I’m supposed to get H from the airport…though I don’t know what time. I’m exhausted but I still have things to do before I can lay down and rest.

I need a vacation.

Food blog and Daily Show hilarity

Well I finished setting up my food blog, A Dollar Out Of Fifteen Cents. No entries just yet, but soon come…soon come.

My sister told me Sunday about Comedy Centrals The Daily Show ripping on the Kwame Kilpatrick sex scandal. I haven’t mentioned anything about it lately because I simply don’t have the time to blog every four hours when some new fact comes out about this atrocity. I’m not exaggerating. Every time I open my RSS reader there is some new bit of news about this mess and, honestly, I’m sick of it. The City Counsel voted five to four to oust this bastard and yet…he’s still there. And now there are recall petitions up to remove the five members who voted for his ouster.

WTF?!?

Detroiters, have you lost your fuckings MINDS? What the hell is wrong with you people?

Anyway…The Daily Show…

You gotta see this to believe it.

News From the WTF Files

this sort of speaks for itself

SAGINAW — A 21-year-old who tried to pass off pancake mix as cocaine has been found guilty in the deaths of two men.

Matthew T. Deshone was found guilty of first-degree murder and firearms-related charges in the November 2005 deaths of Demario K. Sherman and Franscoir D. Shepherd, both of Saginaw.

Prosecutors said Deshone and an associate, 25-year-old Joseph Villarreal, had gone to Sherman’s apartment to sell him an ounce of the dry pancake mix. The Saginaw News says Sherman made a sudden move and a skittish Deshone shot him.

Saginaw television station WNEM says Deshone later shot and killed Shepherd, who had overheard him discussing the failed deal.

Defense attorney James Piazza argued that Deshone witnessed both slayings but that the men were killed by Deshone’s friend Freddie Williams, who himself was shot dead in July 2006.

Deshone will be sentenced to life in prison May 8. Villarreal pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and will be sentenced April 24.

No. For real. You gotta have absolutely NO respect for someone’s intelligence to think they’d believe pancake mix was coke. I’ve never personally seen, or touched cocaine in my life, but I sure as hell know Bisquick when I see it.

EDIT!

This one…this is some face-palm type stuff. I’m glad H doesn’t battle anymore.

DETROIT — Police are looking for a Westland man who killed a rapper this week after taking offense to something said during a rap contest.

The incident happened Monday in a home located in the 180000 block of Bradford on the city’s east side. Police say there was a rap battle, in which participants come up with insulting rhymes aimed at their competitors.

Police say 28-year-old Antoine Tramble became angry at something a 27-year-old rapper said, so he left the home and then returned with a gun. Tramble opened fire, killing the man, police said. The victim’s name has not been released.

Tramble then fled the home and escaped in a blue conversion van, investigators said.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Detroit Police Homicide at (313) 596-2260; or the anonymous Crime Stoppers hot line at (800) SPEAK-UP.

An Open Letter to Kwame

Dear Mayor Kilpatrick,

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, I beg you (and I don’t beg): step down.

As someone who grew up in Detroit, is proud of her city (in spite of it’s faults), and won’t let nary a non-Detroiter talk bad about her hometown, you are making it damn hard for me to keep my head up when I tell people where I’m from.

You’re an embarrassment. You’re embarrassing me, you’re embarrassing your family, you’re embarrassing your supporters (if you have any left), and, most importantly, you’re embarrassing the city. Let’s not mention the fact that you’re embarrassing yourself with this pathetic cling to power. You even tried to play the race card. Granted that move isn’t new, or even surprising, for you. You’ve tried hard to model yourself after your mentor and idol Coleman Young, even to the point of stealing his trademark race baiting, us-against-them tactics whenever there was some bad news about Detroit. The difference is, Coleman Young never brought his city to shame.

Oh, he wasn’t perfect. The man had his share of scandals and failures (The People Mover, for instance), but nothing that reached the international scale that this has. And we can’t blame this on the fact that news of your infidelity has been spread all over the internet. No. Detroit has always been under the world’s magnifying glass thanks to the Big 3. What we do may not make the big waves like New York City or LA, but it makes a ripple, and we all know that a ripple is all that is needed to create a tidal wave.
This scandal of yours is making it impossible for the city to continue to trudge forward. As though that weren’t hard enough given the state of Michigan’s economy to begin with. Step down so we can move on. Please.

I’m ashamed to say it now, but I voted for you your first time in. Sure, I knew about you. I knew that you were shameless about cheating on your wife. But I was young and dumb back then. You had that swagger that is pure Detroit, and I was enchanted by it. How could I, who cut my political teeth during the Clinton administration, say no to someone who spoke my language? I watched as you took out your earring when polls showed that older women just didn’t trust you, they thought it made you look like a thug and unprofessional. I should have listened to my elders. I laughed and pounded fists with my fellow Detroiters when you defiantly put your earring back in after you had won. But something inside of me silently questioned how far you really would go to get what you wanted.

I guess I got my answer. Two cops fired for getting too close to information that would expose your extra-marital affair(s?) and a stripper killed, possibly to cover up your misdeeds.

You claim they want to lock you up forever.  You’re being charged with eight counts of perjury. That’s fifteen years max for each count. Did you think they’d just lump it all together? Just because you kill six people at the same time doesn’t mean you can narrow it down to one count of murder. You’re a lawyer, you should know better. Emphasis on “should”, because apparently you chose not to use that Florida A&M University education when you went on the stand and lied under oath. What’s worse is that you somehow coerced Christine Beatty to do the same. I wonder what you told her to get her to cover for you after tossed her aside when you were done with her and went back to your wife. Or maybe you did that just to keep up appearances. We already know you’re not beyond that at all.

So, once again Mayor Kilpatrick, I ask you, please step down. Face this as a private citizen like the man you claim to be. Let go of the office so we can move on. That will be the only thing that can save your reputation, mangled as it already is. And it is the best thing you can do for Detroit so we can move on. The world should be focused on the fact that one of our high school bands was chosen to perform at the Beijing Olympics, not on the fact that you couldn’t keep your philandering private.

Sincerely,

She Who Must Not Be Named

Flash back video of the day: The Infamous Webber Time Out

For once it’s not a music video. But if you follow college basketball, or are from michigan, this is one of the most memorable moments in college sports history. Final seconds of a NCAA finals game agains North Carolina and Chris Webber calls a time out…except UofM doesn’t have any timeouts left. NC was ahead by two with 20 seconds left. All that was needed was a two pointer to put the game into overtime. But that time out was a techincal foul, which sent NC to the line and sealed Webbers place in NCAA history.

a vacation….of sorts

I’ll be at my sister’s house this week. The Kid has the week off of school and rather than having her sitting around our house bugging me, she gets to sit around my sister’s house and bug BW, which she does with amazing skill.

So I may not be blogging much this week. No second life for me either (*cries*). but it’ll be nice to spend some time around my parents and sister.

I think…

Are personal politics really a good excuse?

About two weeks ago I got notice from the Alumni Association for my high school. Our marching band had been selected to go to China to play at the Beijing Olympics. I was excited. More than plenty happy for them. Then came the paragraph asking for donations and I paused.

I really can’t fault them for asking for financial help. They need it. A inner-city public school largely populated by low to middle income students in a city wracked by scandal in a state with an economy that’s grasping at straws. But this was China they were talking about. One of the worst violators of human rights in the world. I love my alma mater, but I really couldn’t bring myself to donate. Not that I really have anything to donate (unless they want to take $1.20 in coke bottles), but even if I had…I couldn’t see funding that trip.

They have successfully raised more than enough money for the trip (thanks to a last minute $10,000 donation from the Governor), but this is still nagging at me. My personal politics would actually allow me to keep these kids from having the experience of a life time. And I’m pretty well justified. The protests in Tibet, the conviction of a Chinese human rights activist to spend three years in jail for speaking out against the government, the constant threat of war if Taiwan should even mention independence, the forced removal of residents for construction of the Olympic Village, the repression of the Uighur and other Muslim people, the repression of the Catholic church (yeah I know, it’s shocking I’m defending them, but they have every right to believe as they please, even if I don’t agree with their hierarchy) and on and on.
But these are kids who, for the most part, will never travel beyond the western hemisphere. Should I really let politics stand in the way of this? Part of me feels this is the right thing to do, another part feels it’s totally selfish. I rant and rave about the IOC not putting enough pressure on China to clean up its act. I talk about how the Olympics shouldn’t be held in China at all. But can I really hold a bunch of high schoolers to that same standard? Their refusal to go would be a strong statement on a local level, but totally ignored by the world at large except to ask “Why in God’s name would you do that?!?” The Chinese Olympic officials wouldn’t bat an eye. Neither would the government.

So, if their protest would be pointless, wouldn’t mine too?

Kwame is in good company

Ah men. When will you ever learn? When you’re married, especially if you’re in a position of power, stop thinking with the little head and start thinking with the big one (that would be the one on your shoulders for those of you who are delusional enough to actually believe that you’re that impressive…you’re not).

So right along with Spitzer, and that pastor who drove across three states to hit a titty bar, The (dis)Honorable Mayor of Detroit finds himself with more compatriots on the “couldn’t keep it in my pants” wagon.

I opened up my RSS reader this morning to find out that Democratic Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow’s husband got caught up in a prostitution ring. Granted, his crime wasn’t nearly as impressive as Spitzers. He laid down a measly $150 for oral sex from a 20 year old at a local Residence Inn. Once again, a man got caught up responding to a Craigslist ad offering sex.

Now…why does this sound so familiar…hmmm…

OH! That’s right! A cop was busted for hiring a prostitute over Craigslist just two months ago. Men. Learn from this. STOP CRUISING FOR SEX ON CRAIGSLIST! THEY’RE ALL COPS!

“But, NKA,” you say, “that’s not the same as sending text messages to your lover, then firing a respected police officer, killing a stripper and committing perjury to cover it up.”

And you’re right. But Kwam-ster is hardly alone in his two-way trysts. Oh no no! And it’s not just American men who are too stupid to do these sorts of things discreetly either. Nope. The Finnish suck at it too. And just like Kwame, he refuses to resign over the incident. See, idiocy is international.

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