Archive for September, 2008

"Flash of Genius" Hits Theaters Next Week; Ford Grabs onto "Oh Shit! Handle"

When I was a kid, my mom drove a Bronco II Ford SUV. This SUV, like most cars nowadays, had interior handles for each passenger, just above the door windows, to hang onto if the driver were to take a hard turn, or drive into a scary situation. My dad used to lovingly call these “Oh Shit! Handles.”

My dad worked for Ford for 34 years, and like many of our parents (and many of us!) we rely on the auto industry for our well-being and livelihood, whether working directly for one of The Big Three, an engineering firm that supports The Big Three (or Toyota or Honda), or one of the many area advertising agencies that promotes the auto industry.

The Big Three have certainly made lots of mistakes and miscalculations, and their past leadership is very much to blame for the sorry state the industry finds itself in today. And certainly, the industry deserved the harsh criticism of the independent filmmakers who produced Who Killed the Electric Car? and Roger and Me, films that justifiably showed how greedy power players and corporate executives have continued to influence the auto industry away from innovation and working 21st-century business models and into the same old ways of doing things.

But while Who Killed the Electric Car? and Roger and Me were important protests against bad auto-industry practices and the executive greed that spawned these practices, there’s a new Hollywood movie coming to theaters that threatens to tarnish the name of our American auto makers without any seeming purpose but to sell tickets at the box office.

In “Flash of Genius,” Greg Kinnear stars as Wayne State professor Robert Kearns, who, in the 1970s, invents the intermittent windshield wiper, a much sought-after technological advance for the auto industry at the time. Instead of giving the man credit, the auto industry (Ford, in particular, is named as the main culprit) steals the invention and denies the good professor–who’s been working hard just to keep his family fed–any monetary reward or credit for the invention. Kearns enters into an intense and long legal battle against Ford, which he wins after years of fighting in the courts. “Flash of Genius” is one of those feel-good movies about how the little guy, with lots of grit, determination, and an unquenchable thirst for justice, is able to win out against the powers that be.

Inspiring stuff. Unless, of course, you live in Michigan, and you can feel in your gut how much this movie will villanize our auto industry in the mind of the American consumer.

Ford is an easy target here–a sitting, and very wounded corporate duck–and I can’t think that this movie will do anything but make people less likely to buy American cars. The movie won’t make Ford any better. It won’t force protests that will make Ford correct bad practices or create greener vehicles–the market is already making that happen. No, the movie will just turn people even more against Ford, solidifying the automaker as a corporate Mr. Potter in consumers’ minds, working only toward keeping all of the George Baileys of this world down and out.

Granted, “Flash of Genius” is based on a true story, and a story that deserves telling. And I’m not trying to stick up for Ford’s past actions. I just question the timing and the intent of this film. Things are already bad enough around here due to the mismanagement of the auto industry over the years. But when the industry (and Michigan) is at its lowest, does it really make sense to kick us when we’re already down? Even though the story is about the industry exploiting one of our own, it’s the kind of PR nightmare that the transitioning American auto companies don’t need.

And let’s not kid ourselves that any other industry could possibly replace the automobile industry if it were to go down. Governor Granholm’s plans to make Michigan a manufacturing hub for green technologies are certainly on the right track for our future economic prosperity, but they could never fill in the hole that a completely broken auto industry would leave.

So grab onto the “Oh Shit! Handles” everybody, because “Flash of Genius” is going to make this recovery an even bumpier ride for the auto industry, and the city and state that rely on it.

More background from The Free Press, and here’s the trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2N9ta1Hmiw[/youtube]

Tom Yum with Tea.

Thai food. Coconut milk curry is addictive, so I have to go anywhere that you can slurp this down. I feel like sushi is something I get far too often, unfortunately neglecting other tasty Asian culinary gifts to the world. Across the street corner that Noir Leather sits on, is a little Thai restaurant – Ahan Thai. I ignored it at first glance and proceeded down the street. But after looking at Lily’s Seafood & Pronto’s which I’ve been to about 4,000 times, I walked back. The entrance has a square countertop in the center of the place and stout booths around the walls.
I got the Pad Thai. I know, I know. But if the standard dish at an establishment isn’t any good, then why go? I was satisfied. It definitely had what I want in good Thai food – which is the perfect blends of polar opposite flavors. Lime and peanuts, coconut and tofu. I was too timid to get a spicier sauce grade. Gotta walk on the wild side next time. They have that on the front of the menu – mild/medium/spicy/very spicy – each with a corresponding chili pepper insignia.
The best thing about their food was that they have the best fried tofu I have ever had. Instead of getting chicken or beef, definitely opt for the tofu! It’s crispy delicious, but not overdone. And in the sauce. Yum. Tom Yum. That was the name of the soup I had…before the entrée.
Ahan Thai is tom yum, I’d say.
               After that I went to my personal tea leaf heaven. It was opened last February. Since then I’ve been hooked. This ain’t yo mama’s Townsend Tea Extravaganza. With the numerous stock of books (most of which are about tea), beautiful teapots resting on the shelves, and cozy corners, I can’t help but get my zen on. I ordered some Tie Guan Yin Oolong and my friend got some Lapsang Souchong. Probably the sweetest gesture was that after I got my tea, an employee there who knows I get aural woody for Van Morrison went to the back and put my jam on for me! How many places in public can I sip my Oolong and listen to Mr.Morrison? I was sitting between a priest and a kid w/ sweet dreads. Any place that draws these two demographics, I wanna be.

Eating at the Woodbridge Pub

After reading Scotter’s post on opening of the Woodbridge Pub I decided to mosey on down and see what kind of sustenance I could devour. Actually, I had been planning to go there anyway to see a fall photography show put on by some fellow Exposure Detroit members. The pictures and ambiance were spectacular. It has a really homey feel, with rich wood tones and tin ceilings.

The food was decently priced, as were the drinks. I got the Detroit Hipster burger, which comes on a ciabbatta bun, with a whole portabella mushroom cap, and a pesto infused mayonnaise sauce (I copied that part from the menu, I don’t even know what it means). It was delicious, if a bit messy. I can’t wait to get back and sample some more of the wonderful food!

Your Last Day to Register to Vote: October 6!

That’s right, if you don’t register to vote by October 6, then you will not have a vote in this year’s election.

http://detroit.metblogs.com/archives/images/2008/02/50CENT_1-thumb.jpg

Today, I attended a volunteer training session at Obama HQ* in Detroit (near the Fisher Building) to help canvass for voter registration.

I was shocked to hear from our Field Organizer that there are almost 180,000 eligible but unregistered voters in Detroit. That’s a lot of people!

But registering to vote is extremely easy. Here are a few ways:

1. Print out this form, and send it in to the Secretary of State. All the information you need is there, but please be sure to fill out the form completely or else your registration may be thrown out.

2. Contact your local Obama headquarters (see a list here) and ask for a voter registration form to be sent to you. They will be sure to get you a voter registration form and may deliver one personally.

3. Register to vote with one of the many volunteers out there with clipboards full of blank registration forms. You’ll find us (for I am one of them) at local festivals or knocking door to door, outside of grocery stores and churches and banks. Be nice to us. We’re just trying to do our part for America.

And if you’re already registered to vote, take 10 minutes of your time to email your friends or call your family to ask if they’re registered to vote. You may be surprised to learn that they aren’t registered.

Here are a few other facts about voter registration: (more…)

Bummertown

Mocad

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They’ve amended the outgoing message at the Mocad.

What’s good, Detroit?

 

 Since I am going to be writing for Detroit Metblogs I thought I’d take a second to introduce myself. I was born in Detroit. Before I was eight weeks old my fifteen minutes of fame was squandered in an article in the Free Press. Since then I’ve been wandering around the city in a semi-confused state of awe.

 This wandering has taken me, in a shifty chameleon-like manner, through scene after scene. I have skateboarded in Hart Plaza, and been rewarded for my efforts by having to flee angry cops on motorcycles. I have stood in the freezing rain on the front porch of Saint Andrews to ID the countless masses waiting to get inside. I have danced the night away in dingy warehouses manned by minimalist masters of techno. Now, for the most part, I wander the city in a compulsive manner, diving into decrepit buildings in search of elusive streetart.

 I am here now. And I am bringing vivid images of the city of Detroit, both verbal and visual. I hope to make you as interested, excited, and as passionate as I am about this wonderful urban environment. 

Hola MetroBlogging!

        I am a burgeoning student in MetroDetroit.  I have lived around the D for the majority of my close to quarter-life existence.   Opting not to go out-of-state for university, I decided to embrace this gritty city for what it is and find the lotus blooms rising from its murky surface.
                  Once in a blue moon, I haunt Baker’s Keyboard lounge

              Open mic nites.  My lord, where do I get the gumption? I still enjoy participating in the occasional jam session if I can gather up the necessary courage.  And where are all the poets in this city?! I need to investigate where they are all hiding…
                Venues for good old adventure include, Cliff Bells, Planet Ant, The Belmont – especially when they serve kielbasas w/the works @ 3am to hungry drunks – Goldfish Tea, The DIA, The CAID and many many more. I miss Amsterdam Espresso a victim of the Forest Arms fires back in Feb.
                I love writing, jazz, travel, riding the DPM, and tea.   Sometimes I skip out on lectures and head to a favorite teahouse to enjoy my Oolong.  I pretend that I am in England and observing TeaTime.  We should totally have a national teatime!  I will be blogging on good tea houses.
                And fooood.  With the gastronomical possibilities, why hasn’t Anthony Bourdain come here yet?! He’s been to Cleveland, people. cleveland.  Harvey Pekar can only carry a city’s legacy for so long.   I do love Tony.  I admire his BAMF qualities. 
                I’m geeked to start Blahhhging.

Woodbridge Pub Opens Today!?

Yes!

Kwame Pleads Guilty; Cockrel will be Mayor

Around 10:40 today, Kwame Kilpatrick pled guilty to two Obstruction of Justice charges, agreeing to 4 months in jail, paying one-million dollars back to the city, and thereby losing his law license and ending his tenure as Mayor of Detroit, Michigan.

Watching the plea being made live on TV was pretty tough, and a giggly Kilpatrick almost seemed relieved to have made the decision. And although his plea and admittance of guilt shows beyond doubt that he did commit at least some of the crimes, it is a sad thing to watch. There was such promise with his election to office, but it ended disastrously.

Kwame did not walk the path that would have led Detroit into the 21st century and into greater prosperity. This is clear if you re-read his Inaugural Address from January 2002.

There are some specifically painful moments in the speech, given what we know now, which shouldn’t serve as “gotcha” moments as much as a reflection on why Kilpatrick has not delivered his promises as mayor.

As a father, I know I’m going to spend a couple of hours every day with my children because my job as a father is the most important job that I have. There is no way I can lead the city of Detroit if I don’t lead in my own house.

It’s just sad.

And perhaps worst of all, Kwame’s rousing closing to his Inaugural Speech, spoken with conviction at Fox Theatre to huge applause six-and-a-half years ago:

All I have to saying in closing, as I do in every speech, it’s time for all of us to participate in the progress and prosperity of the city of Detroit. It’s time for all of us to understand that we can’t waste four more years or eight more years or twelve more years in this city. It’s time for all of us to rise up and step up to the mantle of leadership. It’s time for all of us to rise up in this city. It’s time for all of us, state legislature, governor, city council, members of the county commission, attorney general, lieutenant governor – it’s time for all of us to rise up, to rise up, to rise up – and not start our future four years from now. It’s time for all of us to rise up and being our future right here and right now.

I hope that no one glories in the happenings of today, or in the fate of this mayor who had promised so much, and delivered on so little. Detroit needs to look ahead, to rise up, rise up, rise up from this scandal, and develop a future where its leaders will be held more accountable by the citizens of this city, and for every citizen to step up to the mantle of leadership by helping this city to become a better place for all, whether by getting involved in local politics, volunteering for local programs, or just picking up litter off the streets. And that goes for city residents as well as residents of the suburbs who come to the city for entertainment and the resources it provides all citizens of southeast Michigan.

Kwame may have failed us, but we are all responsible for this city in our own, little ways. Step up.

Have we met?

What’s going on, Detroit? I thought I should pop in here briefly to introduce myself as I am giong to be one of the new contributors to the Detroit Metblogs scene. I’m hoping to bring a unique perspective to the blog and (hopefully) provide y’all with some interesting stuff to occupy your mind with while you’re reading this from your cubicle.

I’m a Michigan native who is returning from spending a year (give or take) in Los Angeles. I’ve graduated from Grand Valley State University, over by Grand Rapids, and decided that a life in the BIG city was in order for me. NYC didn’t win because, frankly, it still snows there and I thought I wanted a change from everything I knew. Sunny skies, plastic people, and an urban culture unlike anything I had experienced in college or growing up in my farming community were definitely what the doctor ordered. But, I found out that my family and friends were much more important to me than I was originally counting on… I couldn’t just pack up and leave everyone behind! Because fate has a funny way of working, I ended up moving to the Detroit area (Warren to be exact) with a roommate for a lot less rent than I was paying in LA.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss LA like crazy, but I’m hoping that the trade-off of being closer to friends and family will pay off in the end and I’ll always have the experience under my belt. As for now though – I’m unemployed and in a city that I’m not all that familiar with. So this is my time to make it count and get to know the area, I guess. I’ll be planning on bringing you a perspective of someone who’s new to the area and, to borrow a phrase from high school English teachers, a contrast and comparison between life in the D and what things were like out in LA.

I don’t think it will be easy adjusting to my new old way of life… but it’s something that I’m willing to do and share in the process with you. So stick around and see what happens as I attempt to wrangle my way around Detroit and adjust to the way things operate out here. On the flip, I’ll also dig my nose into some of the cultural happenings around and see what I can post for everyone’s enjoyment about cool events, news happenings, and stuff like that to make Detroit Metblogs one of your go-to sources for Detroit related info.

Thanks to everyone for taking your time out to read this, and thanks to the existing team at Metblogs for allowing me on here to share my voice/experiences with everyone. Keep your eyes peeled for my posts, and I’ll be seeing you around.

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