Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

No White in Sight.

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.

Only the Second Most Lonely – Detroit scores high on singles

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.

The study was conducted by Sperling’s Best Places. If you visit their website’s Detroit page, the first three user comments are

“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

Anyone care to go the site and write something nice?

Rising Airport Costs

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.     

"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:


SWAT team terrorizes Funk Night at the CAID

I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard about what happened at Funk Night at the CAID last Friday, May 30. Apparently, at 2:20am, a SWAT team charged into the monthly dance party and terrorized everyone there, conducted full body searches, verbally and physically abused the patrons, and impounded every single car, issuing exorbitant and seemingly illegal impound fees ($900).

My sympathies go out to every person innocently involved in this ruckus and I sincerely hope that reporters at the Free Press and the Detroit News get to the bottom of this to let us all know what happened, why a SWAT team was issued a warrant to search the CAID, and what legal actions can be taken for wrong-doing by the city of Detroit. This is not a cut-and-dried case–the CAID may very well be culpable for illegal activities. However, this abuse of power and terrorization of non-violent patrons is both ridiculous and outrageous.

For more info and commentary, visit Webvomit and Fivethreedialtone.

Summer is Here: Ditch Your Car

Ditching one’s car in the Motor City takes some serious mental preparation.  It is an automatic reaction to grab for your keys if you need to go to the pharmacy or grocery store.  I have done so many a time only to realize that the taking People Mover ($0.50/ride) or walking (free and healthy) would be less infuriating as the city fills with summer visitors.  This increased saturation means that the only parking available is from some shady person for $20 attending a field-passed-off-as-a-lot that clearly is not his/her property.  There are many non-shady options, but they too are ridiculously expensive.  I have turned right back around many times to the only parking I could find downtown – back at home.  The just shy of $4/gallon gas prices helps the process of ditching keys right along.  Bottom line: try something different – walk, bike, skateboard, rollerblade, Segway, rent a tandem-bike from Wheelhouse – because the cost of driving and parking are not going down any time soon. 

CatBurglers are Prowling the Streets of Detroit

Now that most of the copper has been scraped clean from the numerous abandoned buildings in Detroit, it seems that thieves have moved on to our parked cars.

I’ve spoken to several people who have had the catalytic converters stolen from under their parked cars overnight or in the early morning. My neighbor in the relatively quiet Woodbridge neighborhood had his catalytic converter stolen in the early morning. A turn of the key in the ignition resulted in a loud engine roar that could very well have awakened the rest of the block. Another neighbor reported that she saw a guy in a Crown Victoria get out of his car, get under my neighbor’s car for about 1 minute, and take off with a large metal object seconds later.

That’s all it took: a total of about two minutes to stop, saw, and go. (more…)

Perhaps we should dump the incinerator first, and then move on to Kwame

This week’s Metro Times cover story by Curt Guyette, “The Big Burn: America’s largest garbage incinerator and the movement to shut it down,” is both a must read and a call-to-arms for all Detroiters, both metro and suburban.

It is both absolutely ridiculous and sadly typical that Detroit has the country’s largest incinerator, and even more ridiculous and typical that the city officials who have the power to move the city in a new, more environmentally sustainable direction are leaning toward keeping this monstrosity (I’m looking right at you, Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams!). Detroit needs a challenge, and reducing our waste by making recycling the law (that’s right, the law) in Detroit is a great start. With a vigorous recycling program and more education regarding environmental and health issues, the choice won’t need to be between an incinerator and landfills. The answer will be a better life for Detroit and the surrounding area–environmentally and economically.

We could utilize the sage advice and experience from the good folks at Recy-clean in this challenge. In fact, you can start by going to see them regularly at 1331 Holden with these items at the following times:

Wednesday 10am-2am
Saturday 9am-3pm

Oh, and that $600-$1200 you’ll be getting from old mother Bush this May, it wouldn’t hurt to make a donation to this and other great Detroit non-profit organizations who do a bunch of great things for you for free.

Grrr … more white stuff on the way

Just when you think we’re done with winter, we’re slapped with a weather forecast predicting none other than more snow! I don’t know about you, but I have had enough snow for one year (I actually wouldn’t mind if we skipped the snow next year, either).

Needless to say, don’t put away those gloves, scarves and boots just yet; we are likely going to see snow tomorrow, and freezing rain/snow on Thursday and Friday.

It’s still a week away, but the forecast for Opening Day is — gasp! — 50 degrees. Sorry to be skeptical, but I’ll believe it when I see it :)

Enough, already!

I made my joyous return to Detroit this week, after heading south expecting warmth and instead having to buy up Florida’s supply of sweatshirts, and was re-introduced to my least favorite thing about metro Detroit.

Scandal? Nope! Gas prices.

After forking over a big percentage of my paycheck at the pump, I realized that my measly 7 mile drive to my office is far (far!) less than most people have to travel. I polled some co-workers who live out in exurbia and they admitted to having to fill up every three or so days. At time, this amounted to about two days pay per week! I’m amazed that people out there are working just to be able to afford to drive to work!

I’m blessed with having a bus station right at the end of my street as well as right across from my office. Last summer, when gas prices hit $3.50, I went out an bought a bus pass. I loved not having to weave around traffic, got to read a book while someone else drove, and really fell in love with what little public transportation we have here in Detroit. While I’m kind of a baby about the cold and don’t want to trek even the couple yards to the bus stop, I’m more of a cheapskate than anything else, which means – come tomorrow? Look for me on the Woodward bus. I’ll be the one with the smile on my face, and a book in my lap.

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