“So what does this have to do with us?” I hear you asking. The answer is simple… it was all shot in and around metro Detroit. This new flick, Gran Torino, is rumored to be Eastwood’s last on-screen appearance too so if you’re a fan you might not want to miss this one.
I’ve been watching a war this summer. No, not that never ending Orwellian one; nor the nauseating rises and fall of the economy either. It’s a struggle of man dominating nature, nature struggling back, and some street artists stopping in to admire the view. It took place in what the artists refer to it as “the market”, others know it as the Dequindre Cut.
A rail line skirts the east edge of downtown Detroit. This rail line, long abandoned by humans to the vagaries of urban tolerant wildlife, cuts a deep swath. Nestled in its embrace is an urban canvas. Hobos, debris and the occasional dog walker all gathered on this pathway that ran from the Eastern Market to the Detroit river. That was until the MDOT, encouraged by the noble rails-to-trails, came up with something a wee bit more family friendly.
With a surprising quickness the construction crews toppled the foliage and replaced it with sterile woodchips and manicured rows of flowers. The artists stubbornly persevered. Each night every newly erected surface received a complementary coating of paint. Every day towering construction vehicles craft new surfaces and the spiraling dance goes on today. For a glimpse into the past of the cut, stand at the mouth of the Gratiot bridge and stare north.
The E2 conference was held early last week on Wayne State University’s campus. The conference boasted record numbers and was a very well run conference. The focus of the fourth annual conference was business in the Detroit region. Conference goers were inspired by stories of successful business and entrepreneurs in the region. My two favourite speakers were Mary Ellen Sheets, of Two Men and a Truck, and David Brandon, CEO of Dominos Pizza.
Mary Ellen was so touching in her presentation of her struggles to make ends meet after her husband left her with a houseful of teenagers. She confided that her husband left to get some bread and never came home; “a 23 year old loaf of bread.” Her story was a winding road to success. Her family was instrumental in getting the business by during tough times and being guinea pigs in franchising. She divided her first thousand between her 10 favourite charities. Today Mary Ellen is a multi-million dollar success with an international franchise empire under her belt.
David Brandon of Domino’s was beyond charming. He told a tale of working in a Domino’s store on New Year’s Eve before Y2K (does anyone even remember that?) because he did not want to tell his employees to work this monumental day and not do so himself. Everything from the cardboard-like uniform pants to the difficult prosciutto pizza topping was a challenge and an eye-opening experience. Today, he lives by the Dave rule. If he cannot make a product or get through a process, it is not going out the door.
We in Michigan are losing jobs left, right, and center; however, we still have the power to create. What better time than now?
I don’t know if I mentioned it before in my intro post, but I spent the past year or so living in lovely Los Angeles. The city was great and I loved practically every single thing about it. I moved back because, well, I was about 2,000 miles away from everyone and everything I have ever known. Hey, Im young and I’ve got time to do foolish things like that.
But that’s all beside the point. I found a neat tool online that lets you compare your neighborhood to other neighborhoods in well-known cities across the country. Needless to say, I promptly looked up to see where I fit in with my LA folk and if I did an upgrade or downgrade (but I didn’t see Warren or my old LA ‘hood listed… so I’m kinda shady on where I stand still). For example: Detroit to LA, Detroit to NYC (Manhattan), or Detroit to Chicago just to name a few of the examples you can do.
Check it out and see where you would fit in if you lived somewhere else – you might be a little surprised.
Do you have a passion for your work or hobby? Well, Pecha Kucha Night just may be the perfect forum for you to share it with the others. The format is pretty simple – you will have 20 seconds for each of 20 slides to give your presentation. That is 6 minutes and 40 seconds of fame for you! The first Pecha Kucha Night Detroit was held in August at Atwater Block Brewery and it was a packed house. This is a call for designers, artists, and other creative types to entertain, inform, and delight the Detroit community. You’d better hurry though, the deadline to submit your entry is October 24, 2008.
Let me introduce myself. Nicola is my name and I was born and raised in the D, currently residing just outside the city limits. My free time is spent roaming the street with my DSLR, hanging out with my gal pals, surfing the ‘net, and listening to about a gazillion podcasts. I’d like my contribution to this blog to include the culturally cool & hip things going on in and around Detroit. Most people are surprised how many events there are going on everyday in this place we call home. So, get ready for fun times!
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s wedding in Maine. The bride is the reason this site exists and the reason I write for this site as well. She was the one who opened my eyes to this city, for which I will be forever grateful. The bride is originally from Maine and the couple lives in the Detroit area. Even out in Maine, her home-state, my girl made sure to represent. The groomsmen were wearing ties by local Detroit artist Bethany Shorb who silk-screens ties through the Cyberoptix TieLab. All the wedding party was wearing one colour of tie while the groom had a distinct colour of his own. It is going to be tough choosing which ties to give to the men in my life. I might have to ruin the surprise and have them choose themselves.
Is it fair that a part of me went to this concert because I believed the rumors that Meg White, drummer of the White Stripes, was to make an appearance?
Scruff-ball folk rock singer, Ray LaMontagne, showed up at the ROMT last night. It was the first concert I have ever been to where after leaving I thought, “his shit sounds better in my car…”.
Even the opening act musician, Leona Naess, tells the truth on her MySpace. It didn’t help she ended her set with demanding, “shut the fuck up,” from a crowd she insisted be quiet to hear her. If you have to convince a crowd to listen to you, are you really WORTH listening to? Everyone who came out to the show last night had ulterior motives. No one was there to listen. The women in attendance only knew LaMontagne’s hit singles, screaming out all the words, to the point of drowning out the miked singer. The men brought their lady friends to score extra points. I think the majority of men were at the bar. After having a few “yagers”, they came back to stand like uncomfortable cattle and proceeded to obscenely yell “Ray, I love you!” or my favorite, “Ray, YOU are a GOD!” all of which sounded insincere. After much bantering from the ill-behaved crowd, LaMontagne said,
“you guys have to be quiet for this next song. you gotta be real quiet. I mean, look, this night is all about you guys anyway, so if you wanna drink and be loud and party then that’s fine, and if you wanna listen that’s fine too, but if you’re gonna wanna hear this next one, you’re gonna have to be quiet,”… *yelling continues* “even quieter”.
It was as if the bar at the back of the ROMT had taken over the actual show.
If LaMontagne wanted a venue where he would get an intimate connection with his audience, he should have investigated further. I do not think I have ever been to a “quiet folk concert” at the ROMT. I believe with its main floor standing, it’s accessible bar, and it’s acoustics, it is a great place for rock concerts. But for folk…head down to the Ark.
Most disappointing was the lack of knowledge from the Detroit public in attendance about the huge crush LaMontagne has on Meg White. On his new album, he actually has a love song to her, entitled after her namesake. When he played the song last night there was complete disinterest. You would think with Meg White being from Detroit and all, the crowd would have at least given a nod. Instead they just bought more drinks.
As housing prices in Michigan go down, the amount of singles in Detroit seem to keep going up.
Yahoo reports a recent study ranking Detroit as having the second highest amount of singles of any city in the country, after San Francisco.
To be more specific, the census ranked cities by the number of “unmarried” people. So maybe “singles” isn’t the right word, since the word connotes young people on the prowl for love. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but my guess is that one of the reasons why San Francisco ranks highest is the large number of gays and lesbians living there who, although they can legally marry in the state, may not have been counted in this study as married.
So why Detroit second, even more so than New York (which has 6 million more people)? Poverty? Single mothers and fathers? The reason sure isn’t because there are so many swinging fellas and ladies here than elsewhere in the country.
The added irony is that it’s the Yahoo Real Estate section that posted the results, along with a link to area houses on the market.
“Horrible place to live”
“The city America left behind”
“Absolutely terrible city”
So once again, irony and the internet win. Detroit is the worst place ever on Bestplaces.com.
Anyone care to go the site and write something nice?
I was out of town this weekend my love of travelling nearly dashed. I flew out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport as I have many a time, but this time I was met with some outrageous prices. Booking my ticket online was painful enough but understandable given inflated fuel costs. Then realizing that I had to pay to check my luggage was some more salt in the wound. I would have been able to take my backpack if not for the 3-1-1 rule of airborne liquids. I know next time to just take my glasses and buy contact lens solution at my final destination given that checking one bag each way put me back $30 on Northwest. Driving is usually the easiest method to get to the airport. The bus is the cheapest, and not unpleasant in the least if you have an hour and a half to get downtown. As I was driving towards the airport my blood was boiling. The Blue Deck is now proudly advertised at the reasonable $10.00/day and boasts the advantage of being a covered lot. However, all other parking lots on the airport campus are also charging $10.00 per day. Where is the value? Also, only three years ago the price was $6 and it has been slowly creeping up dollar by dollar. Not understandable. How does the price of fuel affect a parking structure? Fine, I suppose some expenses go up to operate the shuttles. Either way, it seems that air travel will soon only be reserved for the rich so I had better get all my travelling in now or get rich really soon to maintain my habit.