Archive for November, 2007

“Oh Bummer!” for Barack Supporters

It seems as though Michigan’s Republican Senate, with its slimy leader Mike Bishop at the helm, will refuse to take up a measure to force four Democratic Presidential candidates–Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, and Christopher Dodd–back onto the ballot after they pulled their names from the running when Michigan announced an early primary date of January 15.

On WDET today, I heard the pompous Bishop say that it’s not the job of the Senate to get in the middle of Democrat’s affairs and that such a vote would be keeping the legislature from discussing more pressing issues, like the never-ending state budget negotiations. Like most political talk meant to divert citizens from understanding the true motives behind a decision, Bishop makes a somewhat-valid point. However, the Republicans have something to gain by not allowing the Democrats to have a primary with a full slate of candidates.

Michigan election laws allow citizens to vote in either party primary, regardless of one’s party affiliation. Since Hillary is basically a lock to beat Dennis Kucinich, many Independents and Democrats may spend their votes on the Republican primary. Thus Republicans can argue that higher poll numbers shows that Michigan is leaning Republican. In addition, the Republicans will be able to flout the fact that they provided Michigan citizens with a true primary, that Republicans were unafraid to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire by coming to Michigan. They can claim that the Democrats really don’t care as much about Michigan’s people as the Republicans do. Based on recent Republican policies and actions, this is patently untrue to me, but they will make the argument nonetheless.

I certainly would have liked to have had a true Democratic primary here in Michigan with all of the candidates on the ballot. However, four candidates decided that they couldn’t suffer the backlash from Iowans and New Hampshirites should they leave their small, un-diverse populations to run in a state that actually matters in the general election and better represents the country as a whole. As much as I respect all four candidates (and I’m rather partial to Richardson), I feel that this was an act of political cowardice.

I was kind of on the fence about Hillary, but at least she didn’t chicken out, and it doesn’t seem as though there has been any backlash in Iowa or New Hampshire (although she has refrained from paying the Mitten a visit). She’s got guts, she’s smart, and she’ll make a good president.

So on the 15th, I’m going to go into the voting booth and press my pointer finger on the electronic screen next to the “Hillary Clinton” box with pride. I’m not a betting man, but I’ll put my odds on Hillary by a landslide.

Motor City Madman says “Turn off your friggin’ motors!”

I stumbled upon an op-ed piece in the Waco Tribune-Herald by Motor City Madman Ted Nugent that calls out to all–hunters and non-hunters alike–to “tough it out” this winter and conserve energy as much as possible.

With his usual machismo, Nugent scolds his local Texans (he recently moved to the Waco area) for being environmentally un-conscious, for keeping their truck and car engines running while sitting idle for long periods of time, and for irresponsible waste that exceeds any amount of pollution he had experienced even in Michigan.

“I know Texans are a little tender when it comes to “cold” December mornings. But we Yankee MotorCity Michiganiacs do not consider 30 degrees to be that cold.

“And it surely doesn’t qualify as cold enough to waste all that fuel just so the big, tough hunters can be warm and cozy for the tortuous 20-minute ride to our cold deerblinds.”

Although I don’t agree with all of his ideas, I’m pumping my fist in the air for Uncle Nugey on this one. We should all begin turning off our engines anytime we’re parked and idling for longer than thirty seconds. Doing so saves gas and decreases your daily output of greenhouse gas emissions.

Check out this fact sheet from the city of Lexington, Massachusetts, to learn more about the effects of idling and join The Atrocious Theodocious by putting a stranglehold on engine idling and carbon emissions this winter.

New voices on the way

I just wanted to thank everyone that responded to Metroblogging Detroit’s recent call for authors. We appreciate your enthusisam! The call is closed for now, but we’ll be doing another one in a few months and a couple throughout 2008.

In the meantime, get ready for three new voices on the site: Stefanie, April and RJ will be joining us in just a few weeks. Let’s give them a warm welcome when they do!

my “Black Friday” report

as the owner and operator of an independent business the so called “Black Friday” means slower than normal sales in my usually busy retail store. no one lined up the night before, no television reporters broadcasting “live from the scene” and no one getting trampled when i unlock the door. being a specialty shop as it is means people expect that the stuff will be available when they get around to stopping here but Circuit City has 60 inch Cheng Shin plasma televisions for eighty-nine bucks and you know those won’t last long! the holiday shopping season for the independent retailer, especially in south-east Michigan these days is a nervous time. it seems to start later & later each year due to all the “can’t miss, deal of a life time, one weekend only” sales the major stores offer. the funny thing is that when channel 4 news had their online voting for the “best of Detroit” my store was the winner of it’s catagory but yet you could have shot a cannon through the place at almost any point yesterday and not hit anyone but there were police directing traffic into the Meijer parking lot a hundred yards down the street from me. as for people getting mowed down in the rush to get into an electronics store i chalk it up to Best Buy’s “Survival of the Cheapest” law of nature. and i’ll end this by telling you that i’m at work now, Saturday at Noon and i’ve got the time to type this…two weeks from now it’s sure to be a different story (i hope).

Metroblogging the DIA: The Grand Opening Today!

The DIA opens its doors at 10am to the general public. The museum will be open for 32 straight hours and admission is free.

Here is a list of today’s festivities:

Friday, November 23

Hardcore Detroitbreak dancers at Farnsworth and Woodward

Break, or Hip Hop, dancing is quite possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen live. You can’t just stand there and watch. You gotta share your hips. You gotta bounce a bit in place. You have to sway side to side, at least. Check it out, and try not to get too caught up in the dancing–you’ll forget about the art.

Poetry reading by Rhonda Welsh in African galleries
10:45, 1:45, 4:45

Scottish Storytelling in British galleries (MacStories!)
11am, 1pm, 3pm

Shahida Nurallah Trio (Jazz) in American galleries
12pm, 3pm, 6pm

DSO Percussionist Ian Ding, Kresge Court
1pm, 3pm

U of D Mercy and Renaissance Fencing in Great Hall
1:30, 2:30, 3:30

Scavenger Trio (music), Kresge Court

Vanguard Voices (adult choir) in European galleries

“Vexations” 20 continuous hours of live music, Contemporary galleries
(I have no idea what they’re talking about or what this is. Could it be Erik Satie‘s Vexations?)

Immigrant Suns (music), Kresge Court

Art After Hours with DJs, coney dogs and sliders for purchase, Prentis Court
(This should be interesting. I wonder what will happen when the bar crowd stumbles in at 2:30. And I’ll probably be there to find out.)

Metroblogging the DIA: The Detroit Connection

In follow up to Scotter’s observation as museums as “no spaces” there were some new items that caught my particular attention for their local Detroit connection. The first item is the oldest item in the DIA in the Americas gallery. The “bird stone,” made of banded slate found on the beaches of the Great Lakes, was discovered in Detroit and believed to be made by natives over 3000 years ago. The second Detroit connection was found in a photograph, from early last century, capturing a Detroit drugstore lunch counter. This image was originally published in France in a book entitled “The Americans.” There is always the Diego Rivera museum just beyond the Great Hall which reminds us of the importance of the local art experience. While this museum is a no space, special care has been taken to include items of local interest. Let us know if you discover any more Detroit connections in the DIA.

Black Friday: To shop or not to shop

I’m leaving New York early this morning to head back to Detroit, so I will not be one of the thousands of people taking advantage of “Black Friday” shopping deals.

Even if I weren’t traveling, though, you’d have to pay me to go to a mall or big box store today.

More after the jump …

Metroblogging the DIA: So what? (for Detroit)

OK, so Detroit’s newly renovated museum is world class. It has new marble walls and beautiful interior architecture. It has a great cafe with cuisine, not just plain food. Like our symphony orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the best institutions of its kind in the country.

But what does this museum really do for the city of Detroit?

It’s very likely that local Detroit artists will never make it into the DIA. The Art Institute won’t reduce crime, or the murder rate. And the poor, who make up a large percentage of the city’s population, won’t be able to afford to come to the museum after this free Grand Opening weekend. And while $55 is a reasonable fee for a year-long membership to an art museum for some, it also buys a lot of eggs, milk, and bread.

So is the city wasting its time with this art hullabaloo when things are so bad?

I really wish the answer was an unequivocal no, but I can’t.

$158 million dollars feeds and shelters a lot of people, so I can’t really say that the cost of the renovation is completely justified. But we also need to consider the value of the museum, not just the cost.

Though in decline for some years, Detroit is still a great city. So many of us are here because our ancestors and relatives had the courage to move away from their birthplaces to come to a new place that offered promise and fruits to make their labors worthwhile. And The Detroit Institute of Arts is an essential part to the greatness of the city itself and it’s revitalization.

To think of it another way, let’s take the word “Institute” from “Detroit Institute of Arts” and apply it to what the museum could mean for the city. Let’s see what other meanings we can eek out of this word.

To institute (v) means to establish, to set in motion, to create. There is even an Ecclesiastic definition that means “to assign to or invest with a spiritual charge.” And that is possibly what the newly renovated DIA can do for Detroit. It’s a motion toward renovation for the city itself, toward revitalization. Art is the product of creativity, but it also breeds creativity, which is exactly what this city needs–daring, unconventional thinkers and creators to use their abilities to solve this city’s problems. Perhaps the new Institute can inspire the city and its citizens to institute a new, creative spirit of change.

As you walk the halls and see all of the great artwork, you won’t be able to tell you’re within the Detroit city limits. But you are within the Detroit city limits. And these artworks aren’t going anywhere else. They’re staying right here. They’re sticking out the hard times with us. Let’s draw inspiration from them, and the museum, and continue to renovate and revitalize this entire city.

Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving, Detroit! All of us at Metroblogging Detroit wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday.

Metroblogging the DIA: An Army in Blue

The member preview weekend was staffed by an army of volunteers in signature DIA blue “Ask Me” t-shirts. Even though the directive is written on the backs of the shirt, it is not advisable that you ask a question while your questionee’s back is turned. The volunteers in the exhibit halls were trained experts on the art in their vicinity. During the last year 45 volunteers underwent 60 hours of training before undergoing specialized training based on their area of interest. I had the pleasure of speaking to one retired school teacher from West Bloomfield. The DIA’s Speaker Bureau and Art to the Schools program extend the DIA’s resources beyond the museum and into the community.

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