Say a little prayer for us

If we weren’t in crisis as a nation, I’d be mourning the passing of Aretha Franklin by listening to her albums, and trying to put into words what her music has meant to me. As the nation is in crisis, though, I’m just listening to every song of hers that I can find, while reading through post-primary polling data, trying to decide where I should get involved.

I know, having lived through the 2016 election cycle, polls can be horribly wrong, but, as of right now, the folks at FiveThirtyEight are giving the Democrats a 74.6% chance of retaking the House, which is currently controlled by the Republicans, who hold 236 of the 435 seats in the chamber. [The Democrats currently hold 193, and there are 6 vacancies.] So, to retake the House, the Democrats would need to hold every seat they currently hold, and pick up 24 seats currently held by Republicans. And, according to the FiveThirtyEight model, as of right now, “there is an 80% chance that the Democrats will gain anywhere from 14 to 58 seats.” So, it’s conceivable that we can do this. We just need to stay strong, knock on every door, give till it hurts, and flip 24 seats… The question I’m struggling with is which of these races I should try to help with, seeing as my district is solidly Democrat.

Above, you can see a FiveThirtyEight graphic showing the current situation on the ground in Michigan, where, according to their modeling, we have a decent chance of picking up three seats… the Michigan 7th (where Republican incumbent Tim Walberg currently leads Democrat Gretchen Driskell by only about 2.5 points), the Michigan 8th (which FiveThrityEight considers a “toss-up” between incumbent Mike Bishop and Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin), and the Michigan 11th (which is currently leaning Democrat, with Haley Stevens leading Lena Epstein for the seat being vacated by the reprehensible Dave Trott).

These are three seats, right here in the state of Michigan, that we can flip… and we now have fewer than 100 days to do it. So, how can we help get these three women into Congress, where they can vote to protect health care, fight for working class Michigan families, and act as a check against the corruption of the Trump administration?

I’d like to say more, but it’s time to go sit on the porch with a beer and listen to Aretha Franklin without the computer glowing in my face… Before I go, though, here are links where you can learn more about Gretchen Driskell, Elissa Slotkin, and Haley Stevens, all of whom you can donate to through ActBlue.

[note: I know this is primarily a political post, but, if you feel so inclined, please feel free to write your thoughts about Aretha Franklin here.]

This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Jean Henry
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    I was driving through Ohio, eastward, away from Detroit, yesterday, and it felt wrong. They didn’t plsy enough Aretha. They chose the wrong tracks, when they did. She was an ambassador for Detroit when no one else was. She stayed when everyone else left. She worked a crew from Detroit. She played here much more than anywhere else. She gave to Detroit based charities. She was of this place. Her style of singing felt like Detroit too. She could sing anything. And she sang it plain and strong, absent excess ornamentation. She was all about phrasing and feeling and it cut quick to the core. I remember an old Black guy sitting next to me on the train to Chicago telling me, ‘Chicago is pleated pants and Detroit is flat front. That’s all you need to know about the two cities. “ Aretha was Detroit.
    “I sing to the realists. People who accept it like it is.”

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I want to be clear. Flat front pants have style. They just aren’t so obvious about it. They earn attention; they don’t beg for it. It’s hard to u deter and what Aretha did differently unless you listen to a gospel song by her and then by someone else. Or a soul song by her and then by someone else. The difference was super clear in jazz tunes. ‘Plain’ was the wrong descriptor. True, maybe Everything built off of feeling. It wasn’t just for show. She was a giver.

  3. anonymous
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    You make a good point about Aretha staying and identifying with the city through the rough years. She deserves props for that.

  4. anonymous
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Concerning the election, I’d encourage you to read this article in today’s Wall Street Journal.

    “Trump, Seeking to Relax Rules on U.S. Cyberattacks, Reverses Obama Directive“

  5. M
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    They cannot win without lying and cheating, and it will get worse. First they used voter suppression and gerrymandering. Then they rewrote the laws to allow unlimited dark corporate money. Then they got Russia’s help. This is only going to get worse. They will not simply walk away from power.

  6. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    “They cannot win without lying and cheating…”

    Talk about tiny bubbles! I’ve never seen people run so hard from the truth.

  7. Jeff Gaynor
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Flipping the house – feels like Nirvana, but it will certainly be necessary to pull us out of Purgatory, or worse. The 538 prediction is the best political news in a long time, but yes, we have to keep working up through election day.

    And for Jean: Detroit pubic radio station WRCJ, which plays classical music during the day (and jazz at night), paused their programming in the morning to play Aretha’s version of “Skylark” – a jazz standard.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted August 17, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Voting takes few minutes; mourning Aretha will take 4 days plus. This will be quite the show Detroit.

  9. Ypsidoodledandy
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I guess if the Democrats had a really huge wave–like get the Senate or a veto proof House or such–and if the Repub loss were then attributed to Trump, then the Repubs might start to peel off from supporting Trump.

    Other than that, voting more Democrats back into office who overtly and explicitly support neo-liberal economic policies is not going to change the conditions that brought us Trump in the first place.

  10. Bob
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Aretha was almost the opposite of “an ambassador of Detroit.” She was born in Memphis. She never recorded at or for Motown Records or any other Detroit labels, except for an obscure record for the tiny JVB store/label. She lived here and is probably the greatest singer ever from these parts, but I don’t think there was much Detroit in her work. Her records never had a thing to do with the classic sound of northern soul associated with great Detroit labels like Fortune, or the smooth pop of Motown. Her great work was recorded primarily in New York and Muscle Shoals. Her father actually flat out rejected Berry Gordy. He felt her talent was too big to be defined by Detroit. She was fiercely competitive by all accounts and aspired to bigger things right from the start.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Bob— and yet she lived in Detroit, hired crews from Detroit, played Detroit and supported Detroit financially her whole life.
    How many big name Motown artists stuck around?

    There is more to being an ambassador than style. There is more to Detroit music than Motown. I’m thinking Aretha’s pop had some smarts to keep her away from Gordy. She could have been the next Flo.

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I personally never hold a woman’s ambition against her, much less a Black woman.
    Clearly you find ambitious women to be morally and ethicLly compromises. Hmmm…

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink


  14. Bob
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    She didn’t really live in Detroit for the last fifty years. You know little about Aretha, let alone Flo. You are such a phony, Jean. Completely out of your element. I in no way knocked her ambition. Just the opposite. She was much bigger than Detroit and artistically more connected to other places. I was in awe of her talent and presence and speechless the times I was around her. As usual you missed the point completely and impose your stupid, ignorant, knee-jerk feminist rhetoric on people. Even when it doesn’t apply. You could learn from other people, if you bothered to try.

  15. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Bob! Nice post there.

    “Re: re: re: re:”

    Haha, I mean re: Aretha Franklin I heard she was screaming at the soundman in the middle of the set in front of everybody at Frog Island “WHO PUT THE REVERB IN THE MONITORS!!!!!” But there was no reverb in the monitors. She put my boy on the spot like that for nothing. He just put his hands up! Hahahaha. She was good at singing that Scott Morgan song though…

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Funny, Bob, because my ex delivered a birthday cake to her door in Bloomfield when he was 12. She was home. She loves a few blocks away and he seemed to think she was home. Lot. I remember quite a few years there where she pretty much only appeared locally. But whatever. Clearly you know more.

    At any rate, being bigger than Detroit does not preclude one from being an ambassador to it. In fact, being bigger than the place you represent/support is kind of inherent to the position.

    You’re so easily provoked Bob, I just decided to draw out your Assholery with the feminist angle. Why do you hate feminists so much? Inquiring minds want to know.

  17. ElsieGal
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    HB: Thanks for the “Re: re: re: re:” that’s been happily looping in my brain for several hours. I saw Aretha at Hill on March 31, 1990, same place I saw Ella Fitzgerald a few years earlier. Both were fabulous!

    Mark: I appreciate the continued insight/info/encouragement about making it local in order to make a difference. Will do.

  18. Demetrius
    Posted August 18, 2018 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    @ HW

    I don’t recall Aretha Franklin ever performing at Frog Island.

    I do recall Patty LaBelle giving a rousing performance there during a Heritage Festival some years ago.

    Is it possible you have them confused?

  19. Jean Henry
    Posted August 19, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I found no record of Aretha ever playing Ypsi. But a quick scan of the record makes clear she played MI more than any other place for decades.

    It’s so nice to have you back Bob. I see you still only appear to harass me and counter my points. What a stellar contribution you make. You must have more to say.

  20. Posted August 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Who cares for what anyone imagines Aretha to be the ambassador?

    I knew by checking the comment section on I would find just another bunch of bullshit contention, rather than thoughtful reflection on the extraordinary life and talent that was Aretha Franklin.

  21. Jean Henry
    Posted August 19, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I tried, iRobert.
    My perspective was countered.
    What’s yours?

  22. Jean Henry
    Posted August 19, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Fun stuff.

  23. wobblie
    Posted August 20, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    In case anyone is interested, the slaves are going on strike nation wide again tomorrow.

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted August 31, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I’m live streaming the funeral while I run some numbers. I watched the free concert last night doing other work and I’ve had a few friends go to the viewing in Detroit. I just dont see anyplace but Detroit centered in all of it. I haven’t looked into it but I’m pretty sure they could have pulled a pretty all-star Industry lineup for the concert if they’d wanted to. The whole thing, carefully planned, is all about centering Detroit and faith and Aretha’s commitment to both. Her community is on display. It’s gorgeous. Sometimes I forget how glorious praise song can be.

    Bob, most of the time, believe it or not, I can see your perspective, especially when you call me names. I just don’t get this one. I really don’t understand why every time you post here, it is to counter my points. What did I ever do to you? That’s a serious question. Half these people seem to know me from somewhere and sometime. I dont think we’ve ever met. What’s your beef with me personally or people like me? Or women like me? Time to fess up. Clearly I trigger you. What’s that about?

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  1. […] you” to Donald Trump by voting against his friend Bill Schuette for Governor. Furthermore, if you live in the 7th, 8th, or 11th districts, you can help retake the House by voting against Repu…. [If you want, it’s not too late to donate to the campaigns of Gretchen Driskell, Elissa […]

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