Tuesday, February 28, 2006

See, it's stuff like this that makes me afraid to have kids...

Here's the deal, in a nutshell: a class from Holly takes a field trip to the Detroit Institute of Art. While they are there, a 12-year-old boy needed to get rid of his gum.

So he stuck it to a painting.

Specifically he stuck it to:
Helen Frankenthaler's 1963 abstract painting "The Bay," damaging one of the most important modern paintings in the museum's collection and a landmark picture in the artist's output.

The picture (shown to the right) is worth an estimated $1.5 million. And the kid stuck gum to it.

What was he thinking?

Is this the kind of thing I can look forward to someday?

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Billy's Parents:

We regret to inform you that your child has been suspended from school for damaging a piece of artwork worth more than the sum total of all your internal organs, were you to sell them on the black market. Which you may need to do, should the museum decide to sue for damages."

The museum says the painting will make a full recovery.

The kid's always gonna be an idiot.

Link to story

Hooray! Hooray! It's Paczki Day!

Today is one of my favorite holidays. It's Fat Tuesday, better knows as Paczki Day in these parts.

For those of you elsewhere in the country who've not seen that word before, it's pronounced POONCH-key, and they're a delicacy. What are paczki? They look like donuts, but there's so much more.

Here's my paczki. Get your own.

Part of Fat Tuesday involves indulgence and decadence before Catholics start fasting for lent. In traditional Polish households, this involved using up the sugar and lard as well. In the bakeries of Hamtramck, they make the best paczki in the country. New Orleans may have Mardi Gras, but Detroit has Paczki Day.

These little guys are stuffed with fruit filling or custard. Custard is my favorite.

Here's the hard facts on paczki, from the folks at Beaumont Hospital.
A typical 5-ounce paczek contains about 420 calories and 25 or more grams of fat. It's loaded with refined carbohydrates, which are directly converted into fat.
To burn off a paczek requires 30-47 minutes of running, 40-60 minutes of cycling, 85-120 minutes of walking or 90-135 minutes of bowling.
So they're not good for you, but what the hell. It's only one day a year.

As of 10:15, I am two paczki into my day. It may not be healthy, but it's something I gotta do. It's all part of being a good Polish Catholic.

Link to local coverage

Monday, February 27, 2006

A nice way to waste a Saturday...

The proper way to begin a Saturday is with a four-hour brunch...

the proper way to end it is with a rock show.

The Painted Lady in Hamtramck... this quaint little used to be Lili's 21 from the time it opened in the 70's until just a few years ago when Lili passed away. This long tight alley must be taken in order to get to the entrance. It's best if people are not trying to leave as well.

Helvetica tore it up as usual. They have a sound that you can, in the right venue and if you're drunk enough, actually reach out and grab. It's seriously that thick. For a dive, the Painted Lady had a decent sound sytem, too.

Helvetica frontman Eric Livingston sporting some new beardage. Chuck Norris would be proud.

A sweet piece of bathroom graffitti that Mark pointed out.

Nicole and Martin Hirchak. Martin is a really talented Detroit artist (it was his show that Perry Farrel showed up to), as well as a really cool underground comic artist (his stuff appears in Pop Art Funnies). He's also a member of the Smarties. They have a show on March 31 at the Corktown Tavern.

This is how I was seeing things on the ride home...

Friday, February 24, 2006

More on the Detroit Zoo debacle

The Detroit City Council is going to continue negotiations today about the zoo they're holding hostage.

As it appears now, the basic result will most likely be that the zoo will not close, it will change hands, and Detroit will most definitely come out of this looking even worse than before.

A lot of it has to do with the whole "City vs. Suburbs" idea that Detroit has been fond of since Coleman Young was the mayor. It seemed like Detroit was finally getting past that while Archer was mayor, and then Kwame came along, and he started up a war with the suburbs again.

It's really sad that this zoo mess had to come along just as we basking in the afterglow of the Super Bowl, when Detroit made such a positive showing. And all because of egos.

The Toledo Blade did a really nice job giving an outsider's summation of the pissing match so far, as well as some of the main players:

Last week, the mayor presented the plan to the city council - which shocked everyone by voting 7-2 instead to reject the plan, which meant that the city would have to close the zoo.
Some of the council members, especially Barbara-Rose Collins, seemed to justify their vote on openly racist grounds. She made it clear that she would rather have no zoo than one that was run by whites. "This is not a plantation," said Ms. Collins, who was once a congressman until she held a fund-raiser in a strip club and lost an election to Mayor Kilpatrick's mother. "Black folks aren't owned by white folks any more," she said, in justifying her vote.
The situation was not helped by L. Brooks Patterson, the loud-mouthed executive of Oakland County, where the zoo is located. "I would rather own a '48 Buick than own Barbara-Rose Collins," he shot back, adding that the city council members themselves belonged in the zoo.
Not all the council members were primarily motivated by race, Some of the naysayers were mostly irritated with Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who dropped his zoo plan in council's lap at 4:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 - and then left to join his mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, on a congressional junket to Africa.
What was totally unclear is why the mayor thought it was necessary or appropriate to go on the junket to Africa - or why he didn't come back immediately when the zoo crisis exploded.
Sometimes I want to shake my head and say Detroit deserves whatever it gets, simply because these people are all elected officials.

Right now, the City Council is going over its list of demands that need to be met in order for it to relinquish control of the zoo. Again, it's all egos. They have an attraction that is world-renowned but they can't afford to run it; someone is offering to run it for them without taking it away from them, and they come back with a list of demands?

Never mind the fact that the Zoological Society already provides one-third of the zoo's operating costs, or that they are the largest contributors to the zoo for improvements, and are really the best people to run the zoo. No, the City Council has demands. Here are some of those demands:
Councilman Kwame Kenyatta proposed that the society cannot enter into subcontracts, joint ventures or joint development agreements without the approval of the city, while Councilwoman Monica Conyers suggested the contract last no longer than 12 years.
Conyers proposed that the society's 40-member board "must be more diverse" and that the nonprofit must commit to "a statistically significant number of minority vendors."
These are the kinds of ideas that sound really good to people unaware of this administration's history, but based on Detroit's track record of corruption, it's one more opportunity for cronyism disguised as affirmative action; one of many reasons the city is already in dire financial straits.

I seriously think that the zoo should be taken from them flat-out. It's pretty obvious the Detroit City Council lacks the responsibility to take care of a pet.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Do you have the balls to try this restaurant?

Authentic Chinese cuisine often seems bizarre to the Western World, and we often hear about odd and sometimes disturbing ingredients.

Beijing's latest restaurant is no exception; in fact they are willing to whip it all out and serve a menu exclusively composed of winkies. You know... boy parts.

Based on the ideals that you are what you eat, many Chinese men consume these naughty bits to increase their virility.

A bit of a review from the article:

The deer and the Mongolian goat were surprisingly similar: a little stringy, they had the appearance and feel of overcooked squid tentacles. The Xinjiang horse and the donkey, on the other hand, were quite different. Though both came sliced lengthwise, and looked like bacon, the horse was light and fatty, while the donkey had a firm colour and taste. The testicles were slightly crumbly, and tasted better with lashings of the sesame, soy and chilli dips thoughtfully provided.
Surprisingly enough, although they mention a multitude of animals on the menu, not one of them is said to taste like chicken.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Maureen!

I want to wish a Happy Birthday to a fellow member of Team Angry Monkey, a fellow writer, and a very good friend.
Nicole and Maureen at a Tiger's Game last summer

Now go to her site and wish her a happy birthday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More Asinine Comments from Detroit's City Council

In response to criticism that their poor decision-making is forcing the Detroit Zoo to close, Detroit's City Council replied that they felt pressured by the state-mandated deadline (which also had that $4 million incentive that the city forfeited). In response to criticism over that being a lame excuse, one councel member decided to play the race card:
The symbolism is that Detroit is a black city and that we’re unable to govern ourselves. So we need an overseer, the state legislature, or what have you, to step in and tell us what we must do and how to do it. -Council member Barbara-Rose Collins

I don't think that was the intention at all. Even so, it's becoming self-fulfilling prophecy when the City Council makes statements like this, then goes on to prove they can't govern themselves.

Link to story

Truman Capote - Self-centered Genius

I saw Capote this weekend. I won't bore anyone with too many details in this review; I will keep it short and sweet, based on my impressions rather than too many details.

In November of 1959, Truman Capote read a short news story about a family in Kansas who had been murdered. He traveled there to write a story for the New Yorker and ended up getting very close to those involved. He ended up sticking with the story for several years, writing In Cold Blood, which essentially created the True Crime genre. Capote spans this time period.

If you consider yourself a writer of any form, see Capote. The process of his compiling the story is fascinating, and it truly glamorizes what it means to be a writer. It's also disheartening; I don't know how accurate Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Truman Capote is, but he comes across as an individual who is eccentric and captivating, while at the same time he's an egocentric, self-centered ass.

Capote spends much of the film focused on himself, and his own needs, and projecting them on the case. As the killers are granted various appeals in their case, he actually expresses dismay because it's delaying the completion of his novel, even though he's gotten close to them and been granted exclusive access to them for interviews. They consider him a friend with their best interests in mind, and he considers them literary tools to propel his next novel to the bestseller list, which it ultimately does.

Clifton Collins Jr.'s portrayal of Perry Smith, as well as Catherine Keener's as Harper Lee, provide an amazing supporting cast that compliments and accents Hoffman's Capote.

All in all, I loved this film. It lagged in a few points and could have been about 10-15 minutes shorter, but I was ultimately impressed with it all. I left the film inspired to write, and to learn more about Truman Capote. Embarrassingly, I've never read In Cold Blood, but I'm actually picking up a copy today.

Link to Film Site

Monday, February 20, 2006

Make time to see the zoo, while you still can.

Just when you get excited about everything Detroit is doing right, they come along and show you how badly they can screw things up. The Detroit Zoo, which has been open and operating in its current location since 1928, may be slated for closing.

Detroit is in serious financial trouble; this is nothing new, but it keeps getting worse. One of the latest revelations is the fact that they city can no longer afford to pay the $4-5 million required to operate the zoo each year. This is not surprising for Detroit; the city also allowed the nation's oldest aquarium to quietly cease operations last year.

The Detroit Zoological Society, a nonprofit organization, approached the City of Detroit with what sounded like an excellent solution: they would take over the daily operation of the zoo. The City of Detroit would retain ownership of the land, animals and facilities, while transferring all operating costs to the society.

In what can only be viewed as a vulgar display of egotism, the Detroit City Council rejected the proposition. Additionally, because they were unable to reach a decision by the state-mandated deadline of Saturday at midnight, they forfeited $4 million in state aid for the zoo as well.

So in the end, it looks like Detroit gets to keep its zoo. A zoo it can't afford to run and will have to close. In fact, in the only instance where the city has ever moved quickly or decisively, they laid off 150 zoo employees today. I'm guessing the rest will only be around long enough to lock the gates.

Anybody have room for a homeless polar bear?

Link to Story
Link to Detroit Zoo's Site

Proper Corpse Disposal: What you need to know

When you're burying a dead body in your backyard, don't bury it too close to the septic system.

This tip, which sounds like it came from a grisly manual for serial killers, was actually a piece of advice offered at a business conference in Minneappolis last week.

The conference was intended to help businesses cope with the challenges that would surround a bird flu pandemic. The truth is pretty gruesome.

For example, if a pandemic hits on the scale they are worried about it will be up to the average citizen to bury the dead. Hospital morgues will be full, and refrigerated trucks will be needed to deliver food and medical supplies.

Of course in typical fashion for the U.S., the conference was more concerned with teaching business owners how to make sure they survive a pandemic financially. The article points to these wonderful snippets:
Part of the reason for heightened economic concerns is the potential impact a pandemic might have on the heart of the American workforce. While seasonal influenza has a U-shaped curve, which means it is most lethal to the very young and the very old, pandemic influenza might be deadliest for young adults. If H5N1 follows the 1918 strain, it would generate a lethal overreaction in the immune systems of some people it infects. Young adults with hardy immune systems would then be at the greatest risk.
While it seems like a callous way of looking at the situation, perhaps it's the best way to protect ourselves. Right now, should a bird flu epidemic hit, America's wealthiest are going to wall themselves into their compounds until it blows over, for better or for worse. This is why neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans got the least amount of attention after Katrina; when something only affects the most destitute of our people, it's easy for the upper echelon to ignore it.

However, if you point out that to America's business owners that, should an epidemic hit, they will lose their businesses because none of their employees will show up to work due to illness or fear, then maybe the wealthiest can be counted on to kick in and do something. After all, what's the point of surviving the epidemic if they have no money when it's over?

Link to Reuters story
Link to St. Paul Pioneer Press Story

Link to a site selling body bags, so you can prepare for backyard disposal

It's all about the glass...

We had a bit of a date night on Friday. First, we went to Maria's Front Room, which is a little Italian place in Ferndale. I love this restaurant, it's the type of place that Billy Joel wrote "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" about. The food is great, and they only have 15 tables, so while it's not overly fancy, it's wonderful and intimate, and you better have a reservation to get in there on the weekend.

With a belly full of pasta and wine, we wandered down to Gracie's Underground, a basement martini bar that just opened in Ferndale. We had espresso martinis, which were excellent, but I doubt this place will last long.

First off, if you look at the Web site for Gracie's Underground, the refer to themselves as a space that "offers all the style and sophistication of a New York style speakeasy. One step inside the urban-chic basement space and you'll know what we mean." How overly pretentious is that statement?

Second, what is it about putting a drink in a martini glass that immediately elevates its price to $10? Seriously, consider this: Order an extra-dry vodka martini - $10. Compare that to a doubleshot of vodka - what, maybe $6 if you're going to the top of the shelf at most places? You're paying for the glass!

Personally, I don't even like martini glasses. I mean as a drinking vessel; as a design element, they are great. They look cool, at maybe it looks sophisticated to hold one in your hand, but the prctical design is frickin' awful! The wide rim of the martini glass is way too easy to dribble, and at $10 a drink, every sip counts.

Ferndale is not really a trendy bar type of neighborhood either. I like it that way. We have a bunch of amazing independently-owned gourmet restaurants, some amazing bars, and some beer and burger bars. I am happy with this collection. I can do without the "urban-chic basement space".

As the occasional place to pop in and splurge on a gourmet drink to celebrate, Gracie's is fine, and it is Ferndale's only martini bar. They also offer half-price drinks from 5-7 pm on Monday through Friday, and I think I do want to go back to sample a few other choices during happy hour. I just have a feeling that once the novelty wears out, they won't last and a better basement bar will come in to fill the space.

As a bonus to my readers, because I don't feel that you need to spend the $10 to enjoy this bit of goodness, I offer this recipe:

The Espresso Martini*

1 shot Vanilla Stoli
1 shot Kahlua
1 shot espresso

Mix the ingredients up over ice and serve in a martini glass if you're feeling sassy; otherwise, it'll taste just as good in a rocks glass.

*Back when it was readily available (which was back when I was in college), we made this drink with Coffee Stoli rather than espresso. It tasted just as good, but was all liquor and no caffeine, which has various pros and cons. I don't think they make coffee-flavored vodka anymore, though.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Insert random "Cheney Shoots Guy" joke here.

I try to keep my political thoughts off this site. It's hard sometimes, as I'm rather opinionated. Today, I am going to venture into the political a bit.

Our Vice President shot a guy in the face.

In the face.


In the face.


That, and Batman is taking on Osama bin Laden in a new graphic novel to be entitled "Holy Terror, Batman!" Link

Which is fine I guess; it's just also rather weird.

I wish I could make this stuff up. I swear, things just keep getting weirder every day.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Photos From Dirty Show - Saturday Night

Don't worry, it's not what you think. It's a banana.

A piece by a very talented local artist. He did the posters for Detroit Electronic Music Fest a few years back, and we have a signed print of it.

Yep. French Maids getting it on with costumed characters. That's the Dirty Show for you.

Abishag, Mark (who's a local artist and the guitarist for the Twistin' Tarantulas), Nicole, and Dave, another local artist. The beer is flowing freely...

I have a few more photos, but if you think these ones cross the line of good taste... well you don't want to see them.

It was probably the best Dirty Show yet this year; I can't wait to see what they come up with for 2007!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Photos from Dirty Show Friday Night

Last night at the Dirty Show was a blast! And Saturday night is usually even more over the top, so we'll see where it all goes!
A shot from the balcony of the gallery. That is a giant penis costume. It's similar to the Chinese parade dragon costumes, but this one is a penis.

A guy getting his head pierced. He bled all over when the needles came out.

Agent Paprika and some Dirty Girls (Actually, the girls are members of Causing a Scene).

We all talked about chipping in on this piece. It was $9,000.

Nicole and Eric, pointing out Nicole's piece on the wall.

We made good Karma that night by taking a couple back to their hotel. They had been waiting in front of the gallery for a cab for 45 minutes, and nobody at the cab company would tell them anything other than it was coming. There's Detroit for you; all those cabs that were in town for the Super Bowl have returned from whence they came.

Friday, February 10, 2006

We're Gettin' Dirty Tonight!

Tonight is the opening night of the Dirty Show!

For the past four years, Nicole has been a part of the Dirty Show. She is participating again this year.

For those of you outside the Detroit Area, the Dirty Show is Detroit's erotic art exhibition. It takes place every year around Valentine's Day. Erotic artists from around the world show their stuff, and artists who don't normally do erotic work do it for the Dirty Show. It's one part art exhibition, one part raunchy joke, and two parts giant-ass party. It's like the art world's version of The Aristocrats.

In addition to the art, there are live performances. This year it includes performances by Detroit's burlesque troupe, The Hell's Belles (some of whom are fellows members of Punk Fitness), and all sorts of other freaks who feel like shaking their things on stage.

We were at the gallery last night, helping set up, and we got a sneak preview of the art. I can honestly say this is the best and biggest Dirty Show yet! There were pieces from as far away as Italy and Switzerland, and the space is looking really cool this year, too (and I helped!).

If you're in the area this weekend, check out the Dirty Show. If you leave blushing, everything is as it should be.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

I’ll send an s.o.s. to the world

As a kid I was often entertained by stories of shipwrecked sailors sending messages in bottles, or wealthy eccentrics putting their wills in bottles and throwing them in the water, with the finder inheriting their fortune. Hell, the Police even had a song about it. So I don’t fault anyone who fancies the idea of putting a message in a bottle to be found elsewhere at another time.

Not everyone feels this way. A man in New York threw a message in a bottle into the ocean last August and received this letter from England:
"I recently found your bottle while taking a scenic walk on the beach by Poole Harbour. While you may consider this some profound experiment on the path and speed" of "oceanic currents, I have another name for it, litter. You Americans don't seem to be happy unless you are mucking about somewhere." Link to story

While it would be easy to write this guy off as a stodgy stick in the mud, it does give one pause to think.

How much do we know about the early days of humanity from finding their trash? Broken pottery and arrowheads? All the results of our ancestors casting aside their refuse.

What happens when, millions of years from now, an advanced race finds a long-dead Earth, still orbited by long-dead satellites? What happens when they find the remains of our civilizations?

I wonder if they’ll say, “I’m sure they were nice enough people, but they sure did junk up the place.”

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Now I'm no prude...

But I have a serious problem with the fact that they sell pornography at airport news stands. If I'm catching a red-eye to Kansas City, I don't wanna risk the possibility that I'll be stuck next to the dirty old man who just stocked up on porn!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Brushes with fame are not brushes with greatness

So it seems that today, after all has been said and done, the media's biggest concern has to do with which celebrities have been spotted where. The biggest buzz surrounds the Super Bowl parties.

Even in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl Parties, the local media was hyping all of these parties. Who's going to be at the Playboy Party vs. Who's going to be at the Penthouse Party? So-and-so is hosting a party and so-and-so is supposed to be there.

Some of these parties cost $2,000 or more to attend, and apparently people were paying.

Then there was the Maxim deal. Maxim magazine was looking for hotties to add to their guest list, apparently to sweeten the scenery a bit. Local women were invited to send photos of themselves to the event's promoters.

Those that were accepted received an email congratulating them, and reminding them to dress like a skank for the party, as well as including this creepy statement:
If you would like to recommend another HOT Girlfriend, please have them submit a recent picture. Please do not attempt to bring any male accompaniment, they will not be admitted under any circumstance. Link to story

Even with that creepiness, apparently the party went well. Attendees were said to include such "A-listers" as George Wendt, Jim Belushi and Detroit Mayor Kwame KilPatrick.

I have always been cynical of these "VIP" parties. Any party that promises celebrities in exchange for money, except as a fundraiser, probably ain't gonna deliver.

I am basing this on experience. On multiple experiences, actually.

Experience #1 - Detroit Electronic Music Festival, a few years ago. Based on information from a friend, we crashed Spin magazine's DEMF party in a suite in the Ponchartrain Hotel. We snuck in for free booze, but there a lot of model wannabe's standing around, trying to look cool and trying to figure out who was famous. If I actually cared about any of these people, I would have pointed out that the famous people were in the plaza below, watching the music. I didn't care, though. So I didn't share. We just drank everything behind the bar.

Experience #2 - Severence Gallery, 2 winters ago? We met Perry Ferrell at an art opening. I had been overserved on a mixture of vodka and Tang (quite addictive actually, like vodka and Red Bull, only old school), so the first thing that came out of my mouth was a slurred, "Can I hug you?" Perry graciously said yes. He stood there with his arm around Nicole and chatted with all of us for a few minutes (that was before I had a camera... sigh), and then went to look at all the art. He was at the gallery until after 1 am.

What's the point of that story? He was supposed to be DJ'ing at this sheeshy cheezy bar where people had paid at least a $30 cover to see him. I strongly doubt he ever made it.

Experience #3 - The only time I paid to go to an event like this was when we went to a McCarty Cancer Foundation event that Darren McCarty was supposed to be at. He wasn't; I didn't care. It was a good cause and we all had a good time.

Besides, nobody is worth any amount of money just to share space with them. Paying money to see someone perform is one thing, but to actually think that anyone is so great that you should pay money just to be in the same building? I think you've got some issues regarding your own self-worth.

So if you were out and about this weekend, spending money on Super Bowl parties, you could have rubbed shoulders with David Spade, Rob Schneider, Jessica Alba or LL Cool J. As for me, I was plenty happy to be in my living room with my wife and a half dozen of my closest friends. We had three coolers full of beer and enough food for about 20 people. That was it. I think that makes my party one of the most exclusive of the weekend.

Detroit Shines Brightly, For a Few Days Anyway

Super Bowl has come and gone. All in all, it went pretty well. The snow never managed to shut down the city, and the main complaints I've heard have to do with long waits for shuttle busses.

There were two murders, but they seem to have, so far, not been played up too heavily in the media. So that won't drag Detroit's name down too much.

A bunch of us went down on Friday night to walk around, and see what there was to see. It was pretty magical, to see the city all lit up and full of people. Amazing.

Nicole wants to go back down to these places sometime next week, and take photos of how desolate these places are once again. It will be an interesting comparison, as well as saddening.

Some of these photos are not great, this is because it's hard to shoot a camera with a beer in your hand... that's right, they threw out the open intox laws for the weekend.

All the Motown greats seemed to be somewhere in town this weekend.

Even the walking undead wouldn't miss a street party of this scale...

But nobody, not even the zombies, got into the Kimmel compound without a ticket.

I think that this year, the Lions are allowing walk-on tryouts to replace Joey Harrington. What could it hurt?

This is one of the many restaurants that seemed to appear overnight for the Super Bowl, but will probably be gone by tomorrow.

Vanity plate on a shuttlebus with an attitude.

After we walked the length of the festival, we went to the infamous Foran's (originally mentioned here). One of the two murders this weekend happened right outside. It was amazing to see it full of people, but they seemed to be ill-prepared, and ran out of beer by midnight or so. I like this surreal shot I took from the balcony.

Foran's is a great metaphor for Detroit. Fill it up with people and have a great party for the weekend. You might fool the out of towners, but underneath it all...

It's still Detroit.

Tune in later this week for some of Nicole's amazing photos of the Detroit Super Bowl Experience...

Friday, February 03, 2006

No Jacket Required

While I realize I am really talking up my fair city this week, it's really an exciting time to be here. For this week, Detroit has been getting a lot of press, and it's been mostly positive. It's bringing people from all over the country here for the week, to party and experience everything the city has to offer.

Now what if you're here, and you're planning on attending a formal occasion, and you're not sure what to wear? For men, the tuxedo is always classic, but women have more options. So this week, the Detroit News did a fashion feature on women's formal attire, with the help of some of Detroit's best-dressed: the penguins at the Detroit Zoo.

There's only a few photos, but they're really fun and cool, and I thought it was another great way to promote a Detroit attraction.

Additionally, they mentioned in the piece that the Detroit Zoo is now offering visitors a chance to hang out with and feed the penguins. How sweet would that be? Unfortunately, it has a $500 price tag, so I'll need to have a benefit just to get the money to go. Who knew that the penguins had figured out how to charge cover for their own Super Bowl party?

Link to Story

I swear, it's not usually like this...

We drove downtown last night. It was pretty amazing; Detroit has, for a few days at least, transformed into something amazing.

As we took Woodward into the city, at first we couldn't figure out what was so different, eventually we realized that, leading into the city, two major changes had taken place. The trash was cleaned up, and the streetlights were working. That alone made a huge difference.

Once we were actually downtown, we saw some other amazing things. Dark alleys that everyone knows better than to walk through were now protected by the rule of "safety in numbers". There were people everywhere.

The city was all lit up with spotlights and projections and video screens. I didn't even know some of these streets had electricity.

New bars and businesses had popped up everywhere. I know they'll pack up right after Sunday, but it was cool to see them. One particular bar I've posted on before appeared to be thriving in the middle of all this excitement as well.

And the cabs! There were cabs everywhere! We're talking nice new yellow Checker cabs, not the occasional rattling rusty deathtraps that occasionally appear in Detroit. Detroit has very few cabs, and they are hard to find. I'm sure they borrowed these cabs from somewhere else for the week, but they were a welcome sight.

One particular theater on Woodward that has been vacant for as long as I remember had concerts on the marquee. I wonder if LL Cool J knows what a dump the place he's playing in used to be, and will be again by next week?

People were arriving in limos to wait in line for parties that cost $500-$2,000 at the door. Not my scene, and it was pretty funny to know that these people were going to be whooping it up in a building that usually houses the homeless.

All in all, it's pretty amazing. And while I hate being cynical, it hurts to know that, after Sunday when everyone leaves town again, it will probably go back to being an urban wasteland. Still, it was something to see Detroit become a thriving city again, even for just a little while.

One more massive test remains. We're supposed to get two inches of snow on Saturday night. In the past, this has had the ability to cripple Detroit; they have a limited fleet of snow plows (a former mayor sold them off and didn't tell anyone until the next time they were needed), and have a very poor record of cleaning up the streets after a snowstorm. I have a feeling that, if the snow hits, the suburbs may choose to suffer for a day and send their plows into the city, but this remains to be seen. Mayor Kwame hasn't done too much to endear himself with the cities surrounding Detroit.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cornbread Jinx

Along with the Super Bowl festivities in the city, Ferndale is putting on the Ferndale Blues Festival all week. This basically means that anyplace they can cram a live musician in the city, they will.

Last night at Buffalo Wild Wings for example. We stopped in for this:

And were greeted by a performance from Harmonica Buzz and Jacob Clyde, who dragged Agent Paprika up on stage to do a song with them.

All in all, a pretty typical night.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yes, but is it art?

Three Orangutans in Tokyo's Tama Zoo Park have taken up drawing with crayons.

This is Mori, also known as "Great Artist Mori". Mori is 54. She has completed 20 drawings using a combination of different colors, but her favorites are blue and gray.

This is Gypsy with her grandson Poppy. Gypsy has completed about 15 drawings. Her favorite colors are blue and yellow.

They never show the drawings though. I'm willing to bet they probably suck.

Fun with Numbers, Super Bowl style

Here's a list of fun Super Bowl XL stats from the Detroit Free Press:

Number of hot dogs, bricks of chili and Vidalia onions at American and Lafayette Coney Islands: 20,000 dogs, 400 (5.75-pound) bricks, 2,000 onions
Tons of snow made for the Motown Winter Blast? Minimum of 2,000
Bookmarks at Borders? 25,000
Tons of rock salt stockpiled in case of snow? 50
Tons of shrimp, crab and lobster at Ford Field events? 1 each
Rolls of toilet paper for Ford Field activities? 3,360
Souvenir cups? 40,000
Brats and pounds of fresh roasted poblano peppers at Ford Field? 12,000 brats, 1,000 pounds

That's a lot of TP.

It's almost game day...

We're down to four days until the Super Bowl, and Detroit is really getting into form, whether that's for better or for worse remains to be seen.

With 3,000 media people and 100,000 visitors expected, it's gonna be more than a little crazy I think.

The styrofoam facades are up on the buildings downtown. Yup. Styrofoam fronts on the buildings. To make them look like marble. That's just a bit weird to me. That's just a small part of everything being done.

Additionally, Detroit is ready for the second Motown Winter Blast. It's a winter festival in the middle of the city that consists of a few anomalies like a 200-foot sledding hill and dogsled races. There are also heated tents with bands performing. Although last year featured local bands, this year's festival is bringing a few big national names (such as Smash Mouth, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Clint Black; not my thing, but whatever). Even so, I'm still saying that the real thing to see will be some local bands, including The Hard Lessons and The Orbitsuns. I made it down there last year, and it took us an hour to find parking. It remains to be seen how this year will go.

Jimmy Kimmel is in town all week, shooting his show from the Gem Theatre. He's really been plugging Detroit, but a large part of that has to do with him paying penance for these comments that he made during a halftime show of the NBA playoffs, when he was asked who he was rooting for:
Besides the fact that I'm a Lakers fan, I realize they're going to burn the city of Detroit down if the Pistons win.

Apparently all has been forgiven, though. People are lining up for hours to get into the show.

Even yours truly has been recruited by the Super Bowl hype machine. Channel 4 was at Punk Fitness class last night, doing a piece on "hidden gems" in Detroit. We'll be on WDIV on Sunday, sometime between 6am and 6pm. I have a strong suspiscion I will not catch it. Even if I have the tv on all day, they will air it while I'm in the bathroom or something.

So, whether it's going to make the Motor City look better or worse remains to be seen. All that can be said at this time is that, ready or not, the Super Bowl has come to Detroit.