However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's All Nothing But Words ► Unpacking the Writer

Hello again, dear readers. For newbies: Unpacking the Writer is the monthly series in which I expose some of the wrinkles of being a Writer for Hire.

I'm excited about a new (potential) series I started just this week. I almost called it "Pastoral Letters," but opted to slot it under the ongoing rubric Unpacking My Detroit instead. Finding An Old Friend is an innocuous title for what could turn out to be an important exchange of ideas, especially for me as I grapple with my place in this world in my 6th decade. If it continues it could be far more revelatory than these monthly Unpacking the Writer episodes. While writing Finding An Old Friend I was conscious that in my head, where I do most of my living, the concept felt like Tuesdays With Morrie, the memoir by another Detroit writer, Mitch Alborn. However, the biggest difference is that Kenny and I are contemporaries. Other differences may reveal themselves.

I was also conscious of how we, as a society, have lost the art of letter writing. I'm no different or, maybe, I'm the worst. I'm terrible at answering letters and email. When I'm not writing the last thing I want to do is write, yannow, so I don't. Taking coals to Newcastle. Busman's holiday. Preaching to the choir, Kenny? Whatever you want to call it, it's a bad habit I've developed in my life that has allowed old friends to slip out of the berth of my life.

I've already heard back from Pastor Kenny. He sent a one-liner to say that he will be more forthcoming with a reply suitable for publication. He did say my email made his day so I can't wait to read his reply. And, while he included his phone number and asked me to call, I think I'll wait for his response, so as not to taint his reply.

If you're reading this, Kenny, I'm waiting.

It's been a month of near-frantic writing as the Not Now Silly Newsroom makes its deadlines. Most of those deadlines are self-imposed and loosey-goosey. They can always be pushed off if needs be.

But not all deadlines are so fluid. Just before our last exciting episode Head Writer Headly Westerfield arranged a new leisure time activity for the Not Now Silly Newsroom. It has a hard deadline that can't be pushed no matter how much of the staff has called in sick. Every week for the last 7, he's had the entire news team pumping out a new edition of Friday Fox Follies for PoliticusUSA. They are meant to be funny and informative. Your mileage may vary.

The Friday Fox Follies are not the first articles by Westerfield published there. Detroit is the New Conservative Wet Dream and Why Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law Has Got To Go are more than a year old, but as true today as they were when written.

But, it's not just been Friday Fox Follies keeping the Not Now Silly Newsroom busy.

As long time readers of Not Now Silly will attest, I have been trying to Save The E.W.F. Stirrup House from Demolition by Neglect ever since the first time I laid eyes upon it. After I learned the amazing history of the man who built the house, saving it became an obsession. It should be something other than a Bed and Breakfast for tourists to Coconut Grove. The legacy of E.W.F. Stirrup is too deep and rich for his house to become a commercial enterprise enriching a rapacious developer. It's the oldest house on Charles Avenue, the oldest street in Miami, and the 2nd oldest house in Miami.

November 17, 2014 - What Demolition by Neglect looks like up close
I've been at this for several years without making any discernible progress. Worse yet, there's been no discernible progress on the house in the entire time I've been documenting how it is has been undergoing Demolition by Neglect for nearly a decade at the hands of a rapacious developer. However, between times of research and activity, I get dejected. My campaign to Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House is limited only by my inability to to make my campaign go viral.

Recently, I was energized all over again when I learned there were FINALLY plans on file of the E.W.F. Stirrup House at the City of Miami's Historical Preservation Office. It took a FOI request to get access at the file. Imagine my disappointment to discover these plans are totally inadequate for historical preservation.

However, having been energized, I wrote a number of posts this month about Coconut Grove, the E.W.F. Stirrup House and Infamous Rapacious Developers:

I have a brand new one coming under the "Bad Neighbour" banner, but this time it's an entirely different neighbour. It may take another week, or so, to put that one together.

Earlier this week I showed up at the stroke of 8AM and spent several hours on the public City of Miami computer system researching several of the Coconut Grove threads I've been pulling at for the last few years to see what can be pulled out of the official records.

Oddly enough, there is only one computer in the entire city that a member of the public can use to research all the files, documents, and PDFs collected by the City Clerk. It's in the City Clerk's office, which seems like a very public place to do my very private research. How long before I bump into [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff while using the washroom?

Now that I have been able to read and absorb what I collected on my 1st visit, my appetite has only been whetted for more. I think the answers I seek are in that infernal machine somewhere. All I need to do is stumble upon the right search terms.

Meanwhile, tonight I will be on Miami After Dark, AM880, talking about the E.W.F. Stirrup House and historic preservation. When the podcast is posted, I'll share it with you all.

At one point I was thinking of this as the new logo. This animation
is merely a proof of concept. Had I not decided against it, I would
have also animated my face in the screen. Maybe I still should.

The other thing that's still taking place behind the scenes is building the NEW, IMPROVED Not Now Silly Newsroom. With fingers crossed it will launch soon. My web designer in Northern Ireland and I have scheduled a weekly Skype meeting as the pace picks up. I've seen the templates and mock-ups. This week I locked in the menus and ordered up a few changes. Meanwhile, my graphic designer is working on a new logo. She's responsible for the logo at the top of the page, based on an archival picture I found of a Depression Era camp.

This time I'm giving her far more leeway. All I've told her is that I prefer a serif font with NOT NOW SILLY on 1 line and NEWSROOM on the next, with both lines taking up an equal width. I have also said it should have gravitas, because this is a fucking newsroom, dammit!!! In order to pretend to be more serious I may also retire the 2 slogans "Home of the Steam Powered Word-0-Matic" and "Your Rest Stop on the Information Highway." 

However, on second thought, I'm really thinking of keeping the second one.

That's it. That's all. See you next month with another exciting episode of Unpacking the Writer, brought to you by The Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic, the only machine of its kind on the innertubes.

The Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic is a labour intensive device, which takes 2 people to operate, but it's worth it for my readers!!!

Headlines Du Jour ► Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hello, Headliners. Today's birthday boy is Rocker Joe Walsh. Among the other Headlines Du Jour of yesteryear:
Now today's Headlines Du Jour:










Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of Not Now Silly, home of the Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic, and your rest stop on the Information Highway. Use our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in today's open thread.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Finding An Old Friend ► Unpacking My Detroit

EMAIL TO: Pastor Kenny
SUBJECT: Long Time No See

Dear Pastor Kenny:

Lately my life is in turmoil. I am in need of something pastoral. Tag. You're it.

I think back to the last time I saw you. If I'm not mistaken you were on your honeymoon with Nancy. You visited me in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and, from my point of view, it was a very strange visit. Now that I think about it, it was the very last time I saw any of my childhood friends.

[I understand that Nancy has passed and that you're remarried. Condolences and congratulations. I'm a sucker for love and it sounds like you have had decades of it.]

It was a strange visit for me because during much of your visit you and Nancy were trying to sell me on Jesus, despite knowing I grew up in a Jewish home and had even thrown off that religion years before. I had never known you to be evangelical before.

We had an amicable discussion, but neither of us convinced the other. When you left, you left behind (no pun intended) a Good News Bible, which you inscribed to me. I carried that Bible – along with a pilfered Gideon’s Bible, an Old Testament, and a book on Scientology – with me until about a decade ago, when I lost my small religious book section in my last break up.

Before the internet made biblical text searches much easier, I would refer to that Good News Bible occasionally for research, or just to rifle through it and read passages. Each time I couldn’t help but think of you and wondered what happened to you. I’ve thought of you often over the years and not always when reaching for that book. Just this summer, when I last visited family in Michigan, I went to Gilchrist. However, after taking a picture of my old house, I stood and stared at yours for a while.

Outtake from While Detroit Crumbled, Gilchrist
Street Hung On
. That's Kenny Wilson's house on
the far right, across the street, with Danny Harris
of the Gilchrist Block Club in the foreground.
This visit prompted me to write While Detroit Crumbled,Gilchrist Street Hung On.

I visit Gilchrist often because I’m still looking for something there. Me, I think.

As mentioned above, I have found my life to be chaotic as of late. Pops is 88 and, after my mother died, I moved from Canada, where I lived for 35 years – taking out citizenship in the process – to take care of him. I’ve been in Sunrise, Florida, for the past 9 years. Some days are harder than others and on Friday I expressed my opinion to Pops at full volume.

Skip ahead to Sunday morning. I was still feeling remorseful that I lost my temper with Pops when I got an IM on Facebook from a name I didn’t recognize. She said she had lived on Fenmore. After exchanging a few messages it turns out I didn’t know her or her brother Randy at all. But then she asked me if I knew you.

I said “yes” and that you were one of my best friends growing up, and that I had been looking for you for years with no luck. Do you know how many Kenneth John Wilsons there are in this world? The internet was no help.

She told me you were a pastor in Ann Arbor, which I did not find surprising, considering our last encounter. However, what she told me next surprised me a great deal. She told me that you were the first person in Michigan to wed a same sex couple. I thought, “WAY TO GO, KENNY!!!” I am a long time supporter of the LGBT communities, believing they should have the right to marry in every state. Sadly I read today that all the Michigan marriages that happened in the interregnum are null and void. How sad for those people. How sad for love.

This book seems like a game-changer for evangelicals.
The internet was an immediate help in finding Pastor Kenneth Wilson, but I’ve still not confirmed you were the first to marry a same sex couple, or that you have actually wed any same sex couples. No matter. I have since read about your book ‘Letter to My Congregation’ and several interviews with you. It’s a brave stance.


I have a hard time squaring that with the evangelicals I am always reading about. I know the squeaky wheel gets the ink, but I keep reading of evangelical hate for various factions of folk in this world, whether it’s The Gay, or the poor, or people of colour, or immigrants both documented and un. While the religion preaches love, there’s a whole lot of hate expressed quite openly. One shudders to think of what might be said in private.

Right after having this Facebook conversation I left for a drum circle. This is a new hobby/habit I’ve developed in the past year. It turns out that I still have no rhythm in my left hand, something I should have remembered when I tried to play guitar as a teenager. That’s why I was the singer in the band that Dean Donaldson drummed in; I couldn’t play an instrument. After 2 attempts at a drum circle I remembered that my left hand will simply not fire when I want it to. It’s pretty useless. However, I managed to find my niche within these drum circles by playing claves, which only needs one coordinated hand, while the other is passive.

What does this have to do with anything? Almost nothing, except this particular drum circle meets in Snyder Park, an oasis in the middle of a heavily industrial area of Fort Lauderdale. You would hardly know you were in the middle of a city. While in the park I took a panorama which I sent to my Facebookery with the caption “How pastoral.”

As I played the claves, and zoned out into the rhythm, I suddenly realized why the word “pastoral” came so readily to mind. By the time the drum circle had ended, I had already written parts of this email in my head.

So, what’s new with you?

Your childhood friend,
Marc Slootsky

P.S. I’m a writer and it looks like you are too. I’m planning on printing this email at the Not Now Silly Newsroom. Unless you expressly forbid otherwise, I plan to share your response, if there is one.


Don't forget to read my Not Now Silly blog and look for me on Twitter and facebook.

Headlines Du Jour ► Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hello there, Headliners! Today's birthday belongs to R&B singer Hank Ballard. Among the Headlines Du Jour of yesteryear:
Here is today's Headlines Du Jour:











Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of Not Now Silly, home of the Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic, and your rest stop on the Information Highway. Use our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in today's open thread.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Headlines Du Jour ► Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hello again, Headliners! Today's birthday belongs to W.C. Handy, Father of the Blues. Here are some other Headlines Du Jour of yesteryear:
Here is today's Headlines Du Jour:

Hoover's letter to MLK











Headlines Du Jour is a leisure-time activity of Not Now Silly, home of the Steam-Powered Word-0-Matic, and your rest stop on the Information Highway. Use our valuable bandwidth to post your news comments in today's open thread.