Monday, February 22, 2010

On the food note...Supinos Pizza

Supinos has some of the best pizza around. Especially this little gem entitled the Bismarck. It is small place and it is great.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

detroit guide

Here's a Detroit city guide written by the Sweet Juniper bloggers (which is in itself a great link). Lots of places to see/eat/shop by neighborhood.

Detroit Blog

Here's the link to a great blog with many glimpses into the lives of different people living in Detroit: There are some very interesting personal stories in here- reflecting both the struggles and quirks of living in Detroit.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Some Detroit performances of the musical variety

This is some information compiled by wife to relay to the group for those that are interested in some of the music happening in Detroit. - BMG and Secrets, - Patrick Russell is
who I would go to see!! - benefit for Haiti,
Terrence Parker is pretty special - uses a telephone instead of
headphones and is a turntablist. Kevin Saunderson and Al Ester -
historically important djs in detroit - Secrets - great music - excellent
musicians, should be a great party. - another great
party, esp. Luke Hess and Kevin Reynolds - probably playing early in
the night. - K Hand and
Punisher are ladies, and great djs. K Hand is first Detroit woman to
start making techno in early 1980s - Ryan Elliot is on
Ghostly International, Ann Arbor based record company

Most of these events get promoted on Facebook as well, just search the
djs if you're interested.

Also, Todd Osborn every Sunday night 10-2 at the Elbow Room in Ypsi.
Always excellent music, pool, and pac-man. :) - always good for great music
information, record label local to detroit

Also, WCBN on Thursday nights from 10pm-1am, Carlos Souffront, local
dj, plays fantastic music. You can listen to it streaming live on the
WCBN website. He's a favorite of a lot of talented detroit djs, he's
often called the dj's dj. He's awesome!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Detroit Theater

Hi everyone,

Thanks to Charlie's suggestion at our last meeting, I've come across the Matrix Theatre Company, which is located in Southwest Detroit. A glimpse of their Mission Statement:
Matrix Theatre Company uses the transformative power of theatre to change lives, build community, and foster social justice. It creates opportunities for children, youth, adults and elders, especially those in isolated or challenged communities, to become creators, producers, and audience of original theatre.

Matrix Theatre Company will be premiering their newest production on March 12, created by Matrix's Young Playwrights: "Vanished". I would like to go to this. Here's the description of the show, about immigration to the U.S., and in particular in Detroit:

Matrix Theatre Company premieres its newest original production, “Vanished” on March 12, 2010. “Vanished” is a creation of Matrix’s Young Playwrights, who will perform the play in partnership with adult mentors trained in the Matrix way. “Vanished” is the story of a family literally torn apart by immigration laws and enforcement policies.

Set in present-day Southwest Detroit, “Vanished” shows one family’s struggle to live the American Dream, a struggle that is defined differently for parents born abroad and their kids born in the U.S. It deals with the realities of life for immigrant families without preaching or choosing sides.

“Vanished” was created in keeping with Matrix’s mission, to use the transformative power of theatre to change lives, build community and foster social justice. The Young Playwrights who created “Vanished” researched the history of U.S. immigration laws, learned about the recent changes made to enforcement policies, and explored the myths and prejudices at work in the formation of public opinion about immigrants. The result of their efforts is a new work that is designed to open discussion, so that audiences can share their ideas and experiences about an issue that impacts the lives of tens of thousands of Detroiters.

Check out Matrix Theatre Company's blogsite:, along with their website:

There's also an interesting article about several theater groups in Detroit who are alive and thriving, one of them being Matrix Theatre Company. You can read the article here:

I'll also plan on discussing this more on Monday!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thoughts about Murder City

Glad Brad stopped us for a few minute talk after Murder City. I suppose my question about the film pertains to audience. Who was this film made for? Was it made to instill pride in the gangstas being represented? It definitely seemed like the filmmaker (Al Profit) had inside relationships with most of his subjects. Maybe he wanted to make a film that represented his subjects the ways in which they chose to be represented. I did not get the impression that he was adding a veneer of glorification. It seemed to me that his subjects, rather, created personae that were based on the glorified model of the gangsta or hood.

Here is Profit's Statement from

“Murder City” is an important film for one reason: it gives a voice to people that are rarely heard in the American media and uses the history of crime in Detroit as a backdrop for the real stories of real Detroiters, not the neatly packaged tales told to us by police, reporters, and politicians. The amazing way that the interview subjects opened their personal lives up to the world gives a truly unique look into the real way that the social disorder and economic decay in Detroit leads normal people into extraordinary events like robbing people for their coats with a 12 gauge shotgun, smoking crack cocaine with their brothers and sisters around the family dinner table, and dispensing complimentary plates of soul-food alongside bags of heroin.

Profit does not discuss the need to develop a gangsta persona or "shield" which might be wise (he's not a sociologist). On the other hand, I do question a possible voyeuristic thrill in which words like "extraordinary" sum up the conditions that have cost many human lives and caused communities to crumble.

Belle Isle

"The decadence of Belle Isle contribut­ed to our gloomy reappraisal. We remembered the delicate fig-​shaped island, stranded between the American Empire and peaceful Canada, as it had been years ago, with its welcoming red­-white-​and-​blue flag-​shaped flower bed, splashing fountains, European casino, and horse paths leading through woods where Indians had bent trees into giant bows. Now grass grew in patches down to the littered beach where children fished with pop tops tied to string. Paint flaked from once-​bright gazebos. Drinking fountains rose from mud puddles laid with broken brick stepping stones. Along the road the granite face of the Civil War Hero had been spray-​painted black."

-from The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

This past August, Riva and I took a day trip to Detroit. We began with a stop at the Heidelberg Project, which Riva was seeing for the first time, and lingered about while we explored the bizarre, utopian vista.

Next, we drove out to Belle Isle, which had an even more idyllic feel about it. Although many of the islands attractions seemed a bit run down and neglected, like the Belle Isle Aquarium (America's Oldest) which has been closed since 2005 for lack of funds, there was a feeling of excitement in the air. It seemed that everyone in Detroit had the same idea that hot August afternoon - to head out to Belle Isle for a barbecue with their closest family and friends. As we drove around the island, there was a new party around every corner, each one complete with its own PA and moonbounce. I think we were the only white people on the entire island.

Belle Isle was a kind of in-between world that day. Not America and not Canada, as Eugenides describes, although you could see one with each eye. It was a safe haven from the problems of a failing economy and a neglected city; a place where celebration was the only rule.

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice

Hey all-

DWEJ (Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice) is the organization I've been talking about- they are great. Here is a short video put out by them:

They also have a great website:, and from there you can find their various programs and information. There's lots to look at, but the most exciting thing I've come across is their community outreach programs (interactive activities in Detroit and information available on the web). Check it out- they've got a lot going on.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

See Detroit through a rose-colored video...

Check out this promotional video made in 1965 when Detroit was trying to get the 1968 Olympics. Narrated by then mayor Jerome Cavanagh.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Artist Village Detroit images

Artist Village Detroit

I've come across a community called 'Artist Village Detroit', which was founded by artist Chazz Miller. In an interview about Artist Village Detroit, Chazz Miller says the following: "Artist Village Detroit was born out of necessity.. If the community is dysfunctional then you can't not be surprised that the children are dysfunctional. My idea of community is a community of sacrifice, individuals who are willing to sacrifice their personal issues for the betterment of the whole. Ultimately, understanding that will more than likely if not solve their personal issues, give them a support system to help them deal with their personal issues." Artist Village Detroit offers summer art classes for children and a weekly open salon called 'Creative Juices' for music, hip-hop, performance and spoken word, among other community projects and programs. Chazz Miller also has murals located throughout Detroit.

You can watch the video 'Overview of Artist Village' here:
Also check out their website, Public Art Workz:
Artist Village is also on Myspace:

What intrigues me about Artist Village is that it offers an outlet for youth and the community to share and express themselves. It also creates a place for people to learn and grow together, to clean up their environment and make it beautiful. The abandoned house projects are interesting too, but what I like about the idea of the Artist Village is that that it depends less on what is empty and vacant, and more on the people who are still there.


Cal Stephanides begins his story before his birth in a small Greek village when his grandparents (Lefty and Desdemona) fail to resist the incestuous desires and the story of Ottomans conquest of Europe during 1992. One thing to note is the English admiral looking from a distance at helpless refugees in the water trying to swim away from danger. His orders were not to help refugees, as it wasn’t in an interest to England to upset the Ottomans. It reminded me of war in Bosnia, 1992-1995. English lords looking at us as violent people observing from a distance while innocent people were being killed. When Bosnia asked for help they imposed embargo on Bosnia with an excuse that more weapons in Bosnia will only mean more killing. Funny thing is, one side had all the weapons needed for killing.

I found this particularly interesting since the Balkan peninsula was always and still is a cross between East and the West and history is constantly repeating itself, new helpless people, new waves of immigrants to Unites States, new politics, new regimes, new workforce etc.

Their immigration to the United States and Lefty’s work in Ford Motor Plant -Rouge greatly explains a history, politics and psychology during that period of time.
One paragraph of this book explains hard labor, speed, efficiency needed to work on a T model car. An assembly line and Ford’s discussion to only make one model car. Labor was defined as a factor of time rather then skill of thought and maximized by demanding production schedules dictated by floor managers. Charlie Chaplin in the 1936 film Modern Times satirized Fordism.

Note: Even nowadays, time is more important in factories then skill and thought.
Perhaps that’s why we have economic downfall, especially in the car industry in the United States. While Germans, Japanese, Koreans, Italians, English, shifted their focus on skill and thought Americans continued with Fordism philosophy. That is why American car industry is way behind these nations. Even Fiat is buying a Chrysler.

I will comment more as I continue through chapters on a superficial story of a hermaphrodite.

Detroit Ice House

Ice House in Detroit

Many questions are asked about the Ice House project, here is couple of them:

“My questions are: Do the artists own the house and did they have permission from the city of Detroit to tap into the hydrant? The answers to those questions will determine whether or not this is public art or opportunism and vandalism. There are people in Detroit who would like to restore homes so that they can be occupied. In the spring, this house will be full of mold. What will the artists do then? Are they honestly trying to help our community or to just make a name for themselves?”

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I'm interested in what makes Detroit terrible, so most of my posts will be of this nature:

CNN has a special feature on their website called Assignment Detroit. It focuses mainly on economic hardship through special interest stories and whatnot, and can be found at: Here's one such article:

Detroit: Too broke to bury their dead

Money to bury Detroit's poor has dried up, forcing struggling families to abandon their loved ones in the morgue freezer.

By Poppy Harlow, anchor

DETROIT ( -- At 1300 E. Warren St., you can smell the plight of Detroit.

Inside the Wayne County morgue in midtown Detroit, 67 bodies are piled up, unclaimed, in the freezing temperatures. Neither the families nor the county can afford to bury the corpses. So they stack up inside the freezer.

Albert Samuels, chief investigator for the morgue, said he has never seen anything like it during his 13 years on the job. "Some people don't come forward even though they know the people are here," said the former Detroit cop. "They don't have the money."

Lifelong Detroit residents Darrell and Cheryl Vickers understand this firsthand. On a chilly September morning they had to visit the freezer to identify the body of Darrell's aunt, Nancy Graham -- and say their goodbyes.

The couple, already financially strained, don't have the $695 needed to cremate her. Other family members, mostly in Florida, don't have the means to contribute, either. In fact, when Darrell's grandmother passed recently, his father paid for the cremation on a credit card -- at 21% interest.

So the Vickers had to leave their aunt behind. Body number 67.

"It's devastating to a family not to be able to take care of their own," said Darrell. "But there's really no way to come up with that kind of cash in today's society. There's just no way."

The number of unclaimed corpses at the Wayne County morgue is at a record high, having tripled since 2000. The reason for the pile-up is twofold: One, unemployment in the area is approaching 28%, and many people, like the Vickers, can't afford last rites; two, the county's $21,000 annual budget to bury unclaimed bodies ran out in June.

"One way we look back at a culture is how they dispose of their dead," said the county's chief medical examiner, Carl Schmidt, who has been in his position for 15 years. "We see people here that society was not taking care of before they died -- and society is having difficulty taking care of them after they are dead."

Detroit is not alone. The Los Angeles coroner's office said it, too, has seen an increase in the number of bodies abandoned. That's not surprising at a time when unemployment tops 10% in many cities and the median cost of a funeral in America hovers around $7,000. Cremation can cost $2,000.

Little help available

This is an issue of concern, said the Detroit mayor's office, but the city can't afford to offer any assistance. "The failure, through inability or choice, to bury the deceased is a reflection of the economic conditions that have arrested this region, where people are now forced to make emotionally compromised choices," said a spokesman in a prepared statement.

The state, however, does have some funds available to assist with burial costs. For fiscal year 2009, Michigan allocated $4.9 million for assistance, and of that, approximately $135,500 remains. Those in need of assistance can find grant applications at Michigan Department of Human Services offices, most funeral homes, and at

The Vickers did not know about the funds until CNNMoney notified them. But, fortunately, they were eventually able to scrape together the $695 and will be able to cremate their aunt with help from Social Security, social services and their aunt's church.

The way Darrell sees it, the stimulus package should have helped people in situations like this, rather than to "spark the economy and sell cars. We can't take care of our own when it comes to laying them to rest and letting them rest in peace."

'Reflection of the economy'

Believe it or not, the Vickers are among the fortunate.

Dozens of other bodies remain, some never identified. And they can't be disposed of until their families come forward or the county's burial fund is replenished when the 2010 budget is approved. There were 66 bodies before Aunt Nancy's, and they'll be interred on a first-arrived-first-buried basis.

"There are many people with sad lives," said Schmidt. "But it is even sadder when even after you are dead, there is no one to pick you up."

And in a town with so much need, Schmidt noted one more cause for concern: The increase in unclaimed bodies is not due to an increase in murders -- though the rate remains high -- but due to natural causes. Schmidt speculated that many of the deceased didn't have health insurance or could no longer afford medication for the chronic medical conditions.

"If anything is a reflection of the economy, that is a reflection of the economy," he said.

But this messy reality is shielded behind the Wayne County morgue's perfectly trimmed hedges and pristine brick walls.

"I feel sadness because I can recall when it [Detroit] was really booming," said investigator Samuels. "I don't think a lot of people are really aware that these types of things are happening in such a wide area." To top of page

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Detroit Allied Media Conference

Here's an event in June that might be interesting if anyone's around:

More about Detroit Ice House

More information on this web page about Detroit Ice House. It's also interesting to see different comments on the video and 360 view.