Category Archives: Detroit

Published today in Scotland: Detroit trendy city, covering Renzo Piano’s opening of the new Whitney in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, pain relief through radio waves, not outlandish walking again for the first time in 25 years through NYC technology

No fair. You can not read the entire article here because Isabelle Lomholt and Adrian Welch just published Joel’s Column in Scotland to an audience of nearly one million hits a day from architects and the building community.

Go to Scotland. Read Detroit Trendy City in Scotland where it was meant to be read first exclusively for www.e-architect.co.uk

DetroitFutureCityExcerpt 1:

“In 10 years Detroit will be the trendy city and compared to San Francisco and Warsaw
“A 350 page master plan is guiding the new Detroit. The shape? Unclear but promising

“Today’s Detroit column begins in New York City with Detroit on my mind—always on my mind. I have a friend who had the opportunity to purchase a house in the Meatpacking District of New York City.

“The Meatpacking District, despite the off-putting sound of the now-anachronistic name, is the hottest neighborhood in Manhattan. This is the view of Brian Regan, Deputy Director of the Morgan Museum and Library, who was instrumental in obtaining the services of Renzo Piano to design the new Morgan. Regan believes Piano’s new Whitney may become the most popular museum in New York with more visitors than the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Because of fate (ill-health), I will be covering the May first opening of the Whitney for e-architect. I will also be attending the August 23rd press preview. As I write, the Whitney media page is giving me a countdown. “The New Whitney, Opens May 1, 2015, 19 days, 0 hours, 23 minutes, 15 seconds.’”

Excerpt 2:

Excerpt2

“One remote but not outlandish treatment hope is that at Sloan Kettering, I can have inserted a Bioness Corporation device which beams shock waves to patients like me who have foot drop. Some patients walk again. Thus, twice implanted, I may be able to leave New York City walking for the first time in 25 years and pain-free.

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All is contingent on securing funds. Forbes Magazine recommended a crowdfunding service that could be valuable to architects starting small projects. The service is called: Indiegogo.

“Architects might want to subscribe for free to the newsletter at [email protected] Here is a recent newsletter for one of many businesses requesting venture capital and using Indiegogo to get it.
“My campaign entitled Help restore my productivity from cancer and pain uses a venture capital approach equivalent to investing in me. See if you think it works: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-restore-my-productivity-from-cancer-and-pain

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Thank you. Or rather Best Wishes. I have been using the Edward R. Murrow signoff Goodnight and Good Luck.

–Joel

 

Past Wyoming AIA President today sent me a photograph taken yesterday of wildlife seen from her window at Nelson’s Architects

 

Photograph copyright 2015 by Nelson Architects. Permission to publish the view architect Colleen Nelson took yesterday from her office window .Colleen J. Nelson, AIA LEED-AP NELSON ARCHITECTS, LLC 214 North Broadway P.O. Box 1244 Riverton, WY 82501 307.856.6155 p. nelsonarchitects@wyoming.com

Photograph copyright 2015 by Nelson Architects. Permission to publish the view architect Colleen Nelson took yesterday from her office window .Colleen J. Nelson, AIA LEED-AP.

NELSON ARCHITECTS, LLC
214 North Broadway
P.O. Box 1244
Riverton, WY 82501
307.856.6155 p.
[email protected]

Up to their Knees in Cranberries: A critical moment in my career

The date of this cranberry career-enhancing newsletter is 1974, but it might be yesterday and tomorrow.

In October 1973, I returned East from San Francisco before there was a Silicon Valley.

Cranberries

In San Francisco:

  • I wrote television reviews for the Village Voice.
  • I covered the World Series of rodeo for the Saturday Review.
  • Before San Jose became capital of the Silicon Valley, I wrote an article describing my riding horses at an equestrian school and horse farm that extended for acres.

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Years and years later--viz. 1995--  Cisco Systems' construction all over San Jose replaced farmland and horse trails. Then, shortly after I lost the ability to walk,  KLA (later to become KLA-Tancor) hired me to write a manual on the company's system for manufacturing computer chips.
The system  analyzed wafers and killed the ones that would become faulty chips early in the process before they would be sent out to ruin your computer or mine. The words "kill ratio" appeared frequently in my document.View Post
That was much later.

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After interviewing Timothy Leary

In 1973, I decided to come East because I had interviewed Timothy Leary at Folsom Prison. The interview, for a magazine finally that paid good money, convinced me I was wasting my time with yesterday’s news.

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When I saw John Dean’s testimony in San Francisco before the Watergate Committee, I decided to move to Washington, D.C Go directly to You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cVdsMJ-nEg or see below.

The big news was coming out of Washington, D.C. The slow process leading to President Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearings and eventual resignation was beginning. I wanted to be in on the action. My friend Lee, whom I met in first grade on the playground of the Hebrew Academy of Miami Beach, had just rented a two bedroom apartment next to the Iwo Jima monument across the Potomac River from D.C. He invited me to be his roommate and I jumped at the chance.

iwajima

After driving cross-country in my 1956 Morris Oxford, I arrived in time for the Saturday night massacre. By the end of the year, I responded to an advertisement in The Washington Post. I was hired to run a newsletter on the problems of migrant workers and farm workers. Over the course of the year, I flew to central Florida and watched as workers brought in from Jamaica cut sugar cane by hand. My final issue, produced below, appeared in time for Thanksgiving. The words of the Edward R. Murrow broadcast into my grandmother’s Brooklyn living room, Thanksgiving Day, 1960 were ringing in my ears as I planned my 1974 issue.

Desperate phone calls to Massachusetts finally resulted in the phone ringing. An employee of a Boston poverty program who spoke Spanish agreed to meet me at Logan Airport. We speeded to Cape Cod where hidden close to what had been President Kennedy’s compound were cranberry bogs.

Surrounded by bleak cabins, workers from Puerto Rico had been flown in to wade into the water-filled bogs pushing cranberries with poles toward a machine that scooped them up. With the help of my translating colleague, I had the workers tell me their story. Then I went to the Ocean Spray factory and watched as cranberry sauce was manufactured, bottled, and shipped to stores to celebrate the holiday.

This issue became critical to my career as a professional journalist. Shortly after this newsletter appeared, I signed a contract for a book published as The Politics of Food. Within months after signing, The New Republic began publishing my articles on agriculture policy. There I was in the briefing room at the White House asking rude questions of the Secretary of Agriculture, a controversial figure who succeeded, as no Secretary of Agriculture since, to make the front pages of every major newspaper in the country.

Or go directly to You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Azxkm-3g1D4

Since the 1960 Edward R. Murrow broadcast, our country’s farms became factories that went on for thousands of acres. The workers were replaced by mechanization, insecticides, and genetically manipulated food. Tomatoes, for example, were designed to be picked by machines. Their skins were so tough that it was easier to dent a car bumper made in Detroit than to dent a tomato.

As machines replaced farm workers, they migrated by the thousands, especially to Detroit where there were good paying jobs on assembly lines. The jobs required no education or special training just the ability hour after hour to perform the same routine task. The prosperity of Detroit’s African-American community led by the late 1950s and early 1960s of the joyful Motown sound. The Supremes served as the most famous example of many groups on the Motown label that transformed Rock & Roll such as the one below:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuCBXTfoVq8[/youtube]

Or go directly to You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuCBXTfoVq8

By 2013, the automobile industry that dominated the world was no longer centered in Detroit. When I was born, Detroit was the fourth largest U.S. city. Today it is the 18th. With $11.7 billion dollars in debt, Detroit became the largest city to become bankrupt. Predictions, such as mine last year, that Detroit might die led me to hours of research, analysis, and feverish writing.

Last week, my editors Isabelle Lomholt and Adrian Welch at U.K.-based e-architect published my second column on Detroit. This column predicts an optimistic view of Detroit’s future http://www.e-architect.co.uk/columns/belt-and-suspenders-routine

I write:

” I am seriously considering moving to Detroit. It would be easy to persuade me.” Perhaps, at 67 I have arrived at another turning point in my career.

Detroit_Metropolitan_Wayne_County_Airport

 

 

Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock &  Roll entry on The Supremes

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia which provides the following caption: “The Supremes: Diana Ross (right), Mary Wilson (center), Florence Ballard (left) performing ‘My World Is Empty Without You’ on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.”
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia which provides the following caption: “The Supremes: Diana Ross (right), Mary Wilson (center), Florence Ballard (left) performing ‘My World Is Empty Without You’ on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966.”

As anyone who has anything to do with me knows, I have become obsessed with the future of Detroit since early October. I think about Detroit all the time. I worry about its future. I reminisce about its past.

I love Detroit.

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Shortly after I left the U.S. Department of Labor as a political appointee to President Jimmy Carter, I spent a week in Detroit.

When I write about being a political appointee to the President of the United States, I am being accurate. Nevertheless, my importance in the political food chain was minimal. My title was Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of Labor Robert J. Brown.

Secretary Brown was the best boss I ever had. Writing speeches for him was a joy. But I was at no point important in the larger scheme of things. The measure of my power: My title earned me the right to replace my government issued sofa, in my palatial office, with a custom made sofa.

I spent days looking at cloth samples asking advice on sofas. That was the extent of my political power.

Nevertheless, as a political appointee, my job required approval by the Senate of the United States. These days when senate confirmation issues are raised, the rancor in politically hostile D.C. had gotten to the point where confirming a speech writer of no special importance could be a problem today. In 1978, the human resources person at the Labor Department had me fill out the necessary paperwork. The following week I read in the Congressional Record my name, amidst a lot of other names, as having been confirmed by the senate. O tempora. O mores.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg-ercNIHQA

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Details of my Detroit trip must come at another time. I was working for a week in Detroit as a contractor for an educational publisher. I stayed at Henry Ford II’s Renaissance Center, the controversial hotel plus which epitomized white corporate Detroit. These were executives, including African-Americans, who worked in the city and slept in the suburbs.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_Center
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_Center

I spent days at the Downtown Detroit Chrysler automobile assembly plant which has since closed. The experience left me with a love for the Motor City, or Motown which is Detroit’s frequently used nickname. My experience with the African-American community of Detroit, a community that sleeps and votes within the city limits, is a fond memory.

My access to the United Automobile Workers Union (UAW) International Headquarters thrilled me. Each visit seemed an act of homage to the great labor leader Walter Reuther whom I greatly admired. Reuther’s power, generated by his ability to turn out the vote, led him to dominate Michigan politics. In the process, Walter Reuther created a university system, characterized by Anne Arbor, the envy of the academic world. Reuther also created a superb vocational training network emanating, as it were, from Detroit’s Wayne State University.

There is far too much to say here about the problems of today’s Detroit and the promise of tomorrow’s.

During this ongoing Detroit obsession which began in October and has not stopped, I have been listening to the music of the Supremes.

The Supremes remind me of the glory days of Detroit. May those days return even at only a fraction of the joy Detroit felt when it had an automobile industry. When I think about Detroit, the first thing that comes to mind is the Supremes singing their 1966 hit song: I hear a symphony.

Song accessible on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg-ercNIHQA

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Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony

A tender melody

Pulling me closer, closer to your arms

Then suddenly (I hear a symphony)

Ooh, your lips are touching mine

A feeling so divine

Till I leave the past behind

I’m lost in a world

Made for you and me

Song stanza courtesy: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/supremes/ihearasymphony.html

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“With 12#1 pop singles, numerous sold out concerts and regular television appearances, the Supremes were not only the most commercially successful female group of the Sixties but among the top five top/rock/soul acts of that decade. Diana Ross, Mary Williams, and Florence Ballard composed Motown’s flagship group. Barry Gordy Jr.’s black pop music crossover dream come true that paved the way from rock radio hits and packaged bus tours to Los Vegas showrooms and Royal Command Performances. At the height of the civil rights movement, they were also embraced by the world as symbols of black achievement. Fronted by Diana Ross during their peak years, they epitomized Holland-Dozier-Holland’s classic Motown sound and the label’s sophisticated style. Unlike other girl groups, the Supremes had a mature, glamorous demeanor that appealed equally to teens and adults. Versatile, and unique, the original Supremes were America sweet-hearts setting standards and records that no one has yet equaled.”

–from The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, published by Fireside Press, 1995. This is a superb book which will bring joy to anyone who purchases it.

http://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Stone-Encyclopedia-Rock-Roll/dp/0743201205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423216649&sr=1-1&keywords=The+New+Rolling+Stone+Encylopedia+of+Rock+%40+Roll

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Significance of the Detroit Riots of 1967 for current efforts to rebuild Detroit

 “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

The African-American community in Detroit has still not recovered from the cataclysmic Detroit Riots of 1967.

Tanks in the streets of Detroit after the President of the United States sends over 5,000 federal troups to Detroit to stop the riot. Photo courtesy Shorpy Historic Picture Archive
Tanks in the streets of Detroit after the President of the United States sends over 5,000 federal troops to Detroit to stop the riot. Photo courtesy Shorpy Historic Picture Archive

Tanks rolled in the streets of a U.S. city as the phrase coined during the iconic Los Angeles Watts Riots two years previously resonated through the streets of Detroit: “Burn, baby, burn.”

“By the end of 1967, race riots would rock 127 U.S. cities,” explains the narrator of the following video. “Detroit’s would become the deadliest and most notorious.”

History Repeats: Detroit Riots of 1967 is described in You Tube’s About section: “This video is in the Public Domain. The Master Copy can be found at the National Archives and Records Administration.” This version using  National Archive footage is  narrated by a woman described as: The Kneady Homesteader

The first must-see  12 minutes show footage of Detroit burning, riots in the streets, police fighting. The narration is clear, dispassionate and extremely informative.

“The final tally in the riots in Detroit in 1967: 43 deaths, 342 injuries, 7,231 arrests…more than 500 businesses destroyed,…and 1,000 families left homeless.

“Why did I find it necessary to blog about  the history of my city of Detroit? Because history repeats itself.”

Caution after 13 minutes Hilary, as she identifies herself, erupts into obscenity worth listening to  for the expression of rage that, as she states over and over, “Nothing has changed.” Hilary posted her documentary in 2011 quoting Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”   

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6mpbxpVGag[/youtube]

Above, on  July 24th, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson announces sending federal troops to Detroit, for the purpose of helping local authorities quell rioting . Permission courtesy President Lyndon Johnson Library.

Note, standing next to  President Johnson, on your right as you face the screen, is Robert McNamara. McNamara was President of the Ford Motor Company when President John Kennedy selected him to be Secretary of Defense, a position he continued to hold under President Johnson.

President Johnson appointed a special commission [the Kerner Commission] to study what had taken place and provide recommendations. This was how the Presidential commission introduced its report:

“The summer of 1967 again brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them shock, fear and bewilderment to the nation.

“The worst came during a two-week period in July, first in Newark and then in Detroit. Each set off a chain reaction in neighboring communities.

“On July 28, 1967, the President of the United States established this Commission and directed us to answer three basic questions:

“What happened?

“Why did it happen?

“What can be done to prevent it from happening again?

“To respond to these questions, we have undertaken a broad range of studies and investigations. We have visited the riot cities; we have heard many witnesses; we have sought the counsel of experts across the country.

“This is our basic conclusion: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

 Martha & The Vandellas “Dancing in the Streets”

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdvITn5cAVc[/youtube]

Ironically, not that much earlier, the black community of Detroit was producing joyous upbeat music, a sound known as MoTown, a record  company that produced a series of artists including Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Watch  a second version of MoTown’s  Martha & The Vandellas performing  “Dancing in the Streets”on The Ed Sullivan Show on December 5, 1965 less than two years before the riots. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGpgkCE41x8

“There’ll be dancin’, they’re dancin’ in the street
This is an invitation, across the nation
A chance for folks to meet
There’ll be laughin’, singin’ and music swingin’
Dancin’ in the street

“Philadelphia, P.A., Baltimore and D.C. now
Can’t forget the Motor City
All we need is music, sweet music
There’ll be music everywhere
There’ll be swingin’, swayin’ and records playin
Dancin’ in the street”

—Excerpt from lyrics: “Dancing In The Street” by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Must watch video on Detroit’s “Renaissance”

“Part of Detroit’s problem is we put too much emphasis on manufacturing and plant-type jobs. We did not spend enough time thinking about how we might reinvent ourselves in terms of what is going to happen in the future. Our greatest resource is our people and what we produce. People are going to find out, ‘Oh, the resource is me.’

“‘I’m the resource that’s going to change the world.’ It’s coming from the people and that’s what’s going to become the city of our renewal.

“Detroit is going to become the city of entrepreneurs because we can’t do anything but reinvent it. Detroit has gone from MoTown [Motor Town, the city’s now obsolete nickname] to GrowTown.

“We have more than 70,000 vacant lots. And a lot of people are rediscovering the earth. Around these gardens and around these urban farms are all these people who are coming together in community. It cultivates the soul….”

–Rev. Barry Randolph, Messiah Episcopal Church, Detroit

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLATn5f1Zv0[/youtube]

From the You Tube About section:
Published on Sep 22, 2014

http://www.explore.org – Welcome to 21st century Detroit. The once-thriving automobile industry has taken a major blow, poverty is rampant, and major swaths of the city are deserted. But will grassroots art and culture lead Detroit’s renaissance? Join host Charles Annenberg Weingarten for a street-level look at Detroit’s rebirth.

E-mail to http://www.explore.org owner of the video’s copyright:

Dear producer of DetroitThe Renaissance of America

“Request for permission to embed your beautiful encouraging video Detroit – The Renaissance of America in my column for e-architect, a U.K.-based site with nearly one million hits a day. Attached is link to my first in a series of columns about Detroit. http://www.e-architect.co.uk/columns/detroit-dying-special-report

“My second Detroit column will provide evidence for hope. It also expresses concern for the African-American community’s future. I was especially moved by Rev. Barry Randolph’s eloquence as your video showed the glorious but sadly decaying architecture of the great Albert Kahn. I do not have a budget to reimburse you, but will provide whatever caption you decide appropriate.

“Global architects need the inspiration your video provides. Meanwhile, in the spirit of YouTube sharing, I will embed the video on my personal website www.joelsolkoff.com

“I will accompany the posting with this email acknowledging your copyright ownership and my request for its use. If you find it necessary to replace the embedded version with a simple link to You Tube please let me know. Appreciatively, Joel Solkoff.”

February 2015 motto

Robert S. McNamara, President of the Ford Motor Company, Secretary of Defense for Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson
Robert S. McNamara, President of the Ford Motor Company, Secretary of Defense for Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson

“Finance was soon a power of its own. It principal driving force was Bob McNamara, and [his] basic philosophy was:

“Whatever the product men and the manufacturing men want, deny it.

“Make them sweat and then make them present it again, and once again delay it as long as possible. If in the end it has to be granted, cut it in half.

“Always make them fight the balance sheet, and always put the burden of truth on them.

“That way they will always be on the defensive and will think twice about asking for anything.”

from The Reckoning by David Halberstam

[Note 1: Robert McNamara may not be a name familiar to some readers.  As an executive and later Ford Motor Company President McNamara’s arrogance, refusal to innovate and invest in the future and his belief that he could manage a company without understanding the product it made played a  significant role in destroying Detroit’s position as automobile capital of the world.

[McNamara (and he was by no means the only culprit) nearly killed what had been the 4th largest U.S. city when I was born. (It is now the 18th largest.)

[For my generation born after World War II, the largest generation in U.S. history, Robert McNamara was a household name. In 1961, President John Kennedy (JFK) hired McNamara from Ford to become his Secretary of Defense. After Kennedy’s death, McNamara served President Lyndon Johnson continuing McNamara’s role as the principal force who designed, implemented, and took the actions resulting in the U.S. losing the War in Vietnam. From 1961 to 1968, the Vietnam War was frequently referred to as “McNamara’s War.” Arguably, McNamara was more responsible for the War in Vietnam than the Presidents under which he served. Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Robert Caro estimates that the Vietnam War and its extension into neighboring Cambodia and other southeast Asian countries may have resulted in a death total of 10 million people.

Note 2: This is my favorite Vietnam War poster. A different and I believe more erotic version of this poster hung on the wall of the History Department at Columbia     College where I worked in the summer of 1968, chilling from the anti-War demonstrations at my college in the spring. 1968 was the summer when supporters of the War denounced the Columbia demonstrations from the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Note 2: This is my favorite Vietnam War poster. A different and I believe more erotic version of this poster hung on the wall of the History Department at Columbia College where I worked in the summer of 1968, chilling from the anti-War demonstrations at my college in the spring. 1968 was the summer when supporters of the War denounced the Columbia demonstrations from the podium of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

[Note 3: I am obsessed with the future of Detroit. Here is a link to my first article in the series:  http://www.e-architect.co.uk/columns/detroit-dying-special-report

[Note 4: Stay tuned to www.e-architect.co.uk for the second column in the series Is Detroit dying? If you see me on the street before this article is published chase me back to my computer. ]

January, 2015 Motto

[C]onsider the CNBC economy survey, showing that 53 percent of Americans are pessimistic about the current and future economic situation, while only 23 percent are optimistic.

—Washington Week, January 2, 2015

James Branch Cabell, my favorite pessimist
James Branch Cabell, my favorite pessimist

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Branch_Cabell

Note 1. I am a contrarian. I believe economic and political conditions will improve over the next 10 years.

Note 2. I believe that economic improvement requires political improvement and vice versa.

Note 3. This site begins 2015 with a commitment to optimism including suggestions on how to create change that will cause pessimists to change their position.

Note 4. Optimism regarding economic and political affairs contradicts a near-lifetime of acceptance of James Branch Cabell, my favorite obscure novelist’s statement, “The optimist believes this is the best of all possible worlds; the pessimist fears it is true.” The earliest example is when I was nine years old, my mother took me with her into the voting booth for the 1956 election and allowed me to push the lever for Adlai Stevenson, which I did enthusiastically.

Note 5. The motto for December 2014 has been delayed. I may be the master of my fate and the captain of my soul. The motto itself is simple. For reasons endemic to my nature, I have been using many words and footnotes (yes, footnotes) to explain the importance of focusing on simplicity. As a consequence the posting is long, getting longer, and is not yet ready for publication. For reasons clear to me at the time, I decided to use the motto as a forum to advocate the use of footnotes. Academic publications are increasing abandoning The Chicago Manual of Style for style manuals which provide citations that do not require footnotes. This reminded me of footnotes I have appreciated, such as one from Hans Zinsser’s Rats, Lice, and History. I cannot find the footnote. I am not yet willing to abandon the search. Whatever decision I make, the December 2014 motto will appear when it appears. Watch this space.