A Tale of Two Cities

By Dennis Fields

I am a Detroiter through and through. I love this city. So it should come as no surprise that I get a little ticked off when I hear people "bad mouthing" the city.

It seems to me that Detroit gets a disproportionate share of criticism and "bad mouthing." Comparatively speaking, Detroit is no worse off than any other city.

Recently, I spent a few days in Memphis TN for a family reunion. During those days, I heard news reports of carjackings, bank robberies, shootings and muggings. While driving through some of the neighborhoods, I witnessed drug activity. All of this revelation begs the question, Why does Detroit receive so much more bad press than Memphis?

If the casual observer digs a little deeper, it seems that Detroiters are an all or nothing, extremists sect. We are either the Motor City or a failure. There are plenty of names that have stuck be we allowed them to: The Murder Capital, Devils Night, Crime City and even MoTown and the Motor City. I added the last two because even though thy were supposed to be positive connotations, they pigeon-held the city. There was no room for diversification.

It seems that if Detroiters want a better Detroit, they first have to take a good long look in the mirror and ask themselves what kind of Detroiter are they? Do they sit idly by and allow crime to happen? Do they over look trash blowing down the street? Do they accept substandard government because it is what they are used to having?

For anyone who reads this, I have an assignment for you. I need to you spark a discussion with at least 5 people you know who would not read a blog or research local government politicians. Engage these people to find out what kind of Detroit in which they want to live. Find out how much are they willing to do to make their Detroit a reality.

The thing that really gets me about the news paper articles, talk shows and blogs that talk about how to accomplish a better Detroit never once mentions those who don't read the paper, listen to or watch talk show or read blogs. It is that very demographic that needs to be engaged to change this city. As I often say, the suburbanites evacuated the city and left it to Bay Bay and Ray Ray 'nem and expects the city to function properly.

If we really want a better Detroit, we'll have to demand better Detroiters. Detroiters who care about their city as well as the image it portrays. Detroiters who a willing to work for utopia and not just hope for it.

Eric Brown

We meet the most interesting people as we scramble in and around Royal Oak, and when we do, we like to highlight them here at the Urbane Life Blog. One such couple came through our office this week that we would like to introduce you too.

Not only did we find their overall story interesting, but also the creative way in which they use a local church kitchen during off church times to bake their pies.

It was refreshing to see how one couple is battling back during these times!

With that, here is our introduction to Little Jack Horner Pie Company:

I never dreamed I would be a baker. I don’t know why I never considered this particular profession. I was an artist I suppose, and didn’t realize that baking had any art to it.

I started the pie company with my boyfriend Christopher because I had baked so many pies in my life: working as a cook in Switzerland and Holland; baking beside my friend Caitlin as she taught me to make the best apple pie in the world to sell at the farmers market down the street in Iowa; baking beside my mother as she curved the edges around dough on her famous pumpkin pie.

We needed to generate income and baking seemed like a simple enough venture to enter into.

Little did we know there was a specific niche waiting for us to fill. I had never really experienced delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie before I started experimenting with recipes. Our company tumbled easily into creation. We found a kitchen to rent to bake in, I perfected a recipe, we, miraculously, got a booth at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. The pie baker from the year before had mysteriously quit. We started a customer base and easily got accepted to Holiday Market to sell our pies, then Goldfish Tea, then Western Market in Ferndale.

The one thing Chris and I are committed to in any money generating venture is ethics. Neither of us realized until we started Little Jack Horner how much love and good decision making could go into a company or how a company truly is a reflection of the creator. Companies like McDonalds are a reflection of someone, somewhere.

Little Jack is a reflection of us and we care so much about so many things: the environment; the country; people we interact with; supporting those around us. That is why we make our pies with Michigan Rhubarb and no preservatives.

We are a local company, supporting local farmers, selling and supporting local groceries with ethics similar to ours, and giving customers a product that is truly worth eating.

Baking is my art now, my creation and my joy. I am thrilled to co-operate a company I care so much about and feel so proud of.

Happy eating!


Travel Michigan is pleased to announce it has earned the top-ranking amongst the 50 official US tourism office Websites in the use of social media. In a recent study, "How Social is Your State
DMO" conducted by Gammet Interactive, Michigan takes the top spot for the use of popular social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and others.

"We've extended our efforts to stay connected with travelers. Social media allows us to get the Pure Michigan message out to potential visitors on other platforms," commented George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. "It opens another line of communication with travelers."

In addition to the most popular state tourism Web site, michigan.org, visitors now have other means to stay up-to-date on Michigan tourism deals, discounts and events.

Connect and get the inside scoop on where the fish are biting, what greens are running fast and how you can make your visit Pure Michigan at the newly launched blog, Pure Michigan Connect. Read about bloggers' experiences along the nation's longest fresh water coastline or experience at a small town celebration. Take a minute to comment on the blog posts, or submit one of
your own.

Follow @PureMichigan on Twitter for the latest events and breaking news, along with some fun behind-the-scenes information on all the things going on with
Michigan tourism.

Join the Pure Michigan Fan Page on Facebook to stay up-to-date on all the latest events in Michigan and talk to others with the same love for Michigan. The fan page is another great resource for planning a trip.

By John Hahn

The Red Wings will welcome back their fans the weekend of September 6-7 with two fun-filled days that celebrate the Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup championship and drop the puck on Detroit’s defense of the Cup in 2008-09.

The party begins with a private “Puck Drop Party” on Sept. 6 exclusively for Red Wings' season-ticket holders. The Stanley Cup will be on display along with a brand new Hockey Hall of Fame memorabilia exhibit. Season-ticket holders can meet Red Wings alumni, play interactive hockey games, become a Red Wings TV announcer by calling the final moments of Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and listen to players and coaches recap the 2008 championship run.

On Sunday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., all fans are welcome to attend the Red Wings FanFest at Joe Louis Arena. Fans can ask questions of Red Wings Vice President Steve Yzerman, Wings players and alumni, take the mic as the Red Wings play-by-play announcer, play inflatable and interactive hockey games and take a behind-the-scenes tour of Joe Louis Arena. In addition to many more exciting activities for kids and adults, fans can win several great prizes including Red Wings autographed jerseys and merchandise.

Tickets for Sunday’s FanFest are only $5 and available at the Joe Louis Arena box office, all TicketMaster locations, including Hockeytown Café, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, or charge by phone at 248-645-6666. Fans also can purchase tickets by clicking here. For more information, call the Red Wings at 313-396-7575.

FANFEST Event Schedule

Saturday, Sept. 6 (season ticket holders ONLY)

Main Stage
10-10:30 a.m. – Recap the Cup with Steve Yzerman, Jim Nill and coach Mike Babcock
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. – Fan Feud
12:15 - 12:45 p.m. – Fan Forum moderated by Ken Daniels
3-3:30 p.m. – Recap the Cup with Steve Yzerman and Jim Nill
4-5 p.m. – Wing It Trivia
5:15 - 5:45 p.m. – Fan Forum with Tomas Holmstrom

Alumni Autograph Session
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. –- Dino Ciccarelli and Ted Lindsay
11:30 - 3:30 p.m. –- Joe Kocur and Bob Probert
3-5 p.m. – Nick Libett and Johnny Wilson

Sunday, Sept. 7

Main Stage
10-10:45 a.m. – Recap the Cup with Steve Yzerman and Jim Nill
10:45 - 11:30 a.m. – Wing It Trivia
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. – Living Legends with Steve Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio
1-2 p.m. – Fan Feud
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. – Fan Forum with Kris Draper

Alumni Autograph Session
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. –- Dennis Hextall, Lee Norwood, Mike Krushelnyski and Budd Lynch
2-4 p.m. –- Brent Fedyk, John Ogrodnick and Johnny Wilson
Two recent University of Michigan graduates along with a University of Toronto graduate are going all Silicon Valley on Detroit. Their Web site, BongoTones.com, is redefining the way mobile phone users gain access to free mobile multimedia – ringtones, wallpapers, videos and games – through custom applications.

BongoTones.com began in September 2007 as the brainchild of these three diverse friends from Detroit and Toronto – Nareg Sagherian, 27, of West Bloomfield, David Pakhchanian, 28, of Commerce Township and Soheil Banifatemi, 26, of Toronto – with even more diverse tastes in music. However, they all shared a passion for technology that established the foundation for BongoTones.com.

They had two goals in mind – to be the best way to get content to users’ mobile phones and to provide an avenue for artists who want to build awareness and have their voice heard in the mobile arena.

In view of the fact that the Web 2.0 concept of creativity and enhancement had just launched, it created a perfect opportunity for them to launch a product that would change the way users utilized the World Wide Web. After months of research and hard work, BongoTones.com unveiled an easy-to-use platform that provided superior search and delivery of their user-generated content of 16,000 ringtones to over 150 countries.

Through their applications, BongoTones.com allows users a forum to upload, customize, and create mobile multimedia. These applications allow users to upload their own personal music and create their free ringtones in whatever fashion they desire. Furthermore, BongoTones.com has created a social network dynamic that establishes a community of users that have the same interests. In essence, the Web site saves the users both time and money when it comes to creating multimedia for their phones, as well as allowing them to enjoy their visit through interaction with others. Moreover, BongoTones.com has established a highly-anticipated artist sign up page, allowing musicians and bands the opportunity to convert their original music into ringtones in minutes, making them instantly available to fans.

Currently, the Web site allows access to ringtones, but they are in the process of launching applications that will allow users to customize and create their own free mobile wallpapers, games and videos. Apart from uploading, customizing and creating mobile content, a user can share, embed and favorite any content on BongoTones.com. Users can also message one another and subscribe to their favorite pages, in order to receive updates. Furthermore, if a user hears a ringtone on a certain song profile page and decides they want the complete version, they are quickly connected to Amazon.com in order to make their desired purchase.

With a lot of determination and a little capital they have redefined the way people search and obtain mobile multimedia online. Moreover, they are regularly striving to improve the user’s wireless technology experience. By working with their users, partners, advertisers and carriers, BongoTones.com is ushering in a new era of free mobile content access that takes them a step closer to providing their service globally and remaining up-to-date with the ever-changing nature of the industry. At BongoTones.com, they believe that a happy and safe user is a loyal user. Above all, they are proud to have established the company in their home state of Michigan, and to be giving back to a community that has provided continuous opportunities for them to succeed.
The Inaugural “Bike the Bridge” Bicycle Tour will be starting at Rivard Plaza in Detroit (near the Wheel House Bicycle Shop).

We will be departing early on Sunday, September 6, and riding over to the Ambassador Bridge as a group.
After riding across the Bridge (which has not had a bicycle on it in 30 years), Windsor Cycling Club will be will be taking us on a tour of historic Old Sandwich Town in Windsor, a remarkable stop on the Underground Railroad.

We will then proceed along Riverside Drive to Lansperry Park along the Detroit River for a breakfast provided by Tres Beans Coffee House of Windsor, and enjoy the waterfront and the morning.

After being able to lock your bike up in a controlled environment, it's a short walk to one of the Biggest Bicycle Races in Canada, in Windsor's own Little Italy. At 3 p.m., we will make the return trip to the USA.

The ride will be less than 20 miles. Any funds after all expenses are paid by the Tour will be donated to Detroit Trails. Hopefully, we will have great weather and a great time for all!

By Mike Householder
The Associated Press

The sign held up by someone in the back of the crowd said it all: "Hollywood 48101."

The yearslong dream of bringing a film and television production facility to the Detroit area took a big step forward with Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony at what will become Unity Studios.

Allen Park Mayor Gary Burtka and studio President Jimmy Lifton said the complex officially opens in October and begins filming its first project in November.

"I want to welcome everybody to 'Hollywood 48101' as it is to be known," Burtka said to applause from hundreds of city residents and others who came to the celebration.

Just a few months ago, the plan to refurbish the site – an auto supplier's former research and development complex – and transform it into a Hollywood-style movie studio was in danger of falling apart.

But Burtka, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, and other local and state government officials were able to obtain the necessary tax credits, incentives and other funding to make it a reality.

The studio is being counted on to provide a shot in the arm to an area hurt badly by the recession and a steep downturn in the auto industry.

When completed, the 104-acre studio will include sound stages and other facilities to create and edit movies, television programs and other productions.

Also in October, the Lifton Institute for Media Skills will open at the site for its first class of 250 students who will be trained for jobs in the film industry.

Michigan has been drawing more moviemakers since tax incentives – among the most generous in the nation – went into effect last year.

But the available pool of carpenters, former auto workers and others displaced by the area's slumping economy also helped in the decision to locate the studio in Allen Park, a couple of highway exits from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

"This is a win," Ficano said. "Not only for Allen Park and the area, but for the region."

Unity Studios is majority-owned by a group of investors from both Michigan and Los Angeles, including Lifton, a veteran Hollywood film executive.

He was the center of attention at Thursday's event, posing for pictures with residents and slapping hands with passers-by who thanked him for his efforts to make the studio a reality.

Lifton, who originally is from the Detroit suburb of Southfield and is a veteran of both the film and music industries, predicts a long life for Unity Studios.

"We will be here tomorrow, a year from now, 25 years, 50 years, 100 years," he said.

After Lifton addressed the crowd, he and Burtka headed over for a photo opportunity in front of an oversized film clapboard. Each man grabbed an end of it, slammed it down and yelled "Jobs!" as their pictures were snapped.
WWJ Radio

An actor and comedian by the name of Bill Cosby will be coming to Michigan this week. You may have heard of him, he's pretty well known. Mr. Cosby will make a visit to Detroit on Tuesday to help Detroit Public Schools and DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb during the enrollment campaign season.

DPS Spokesman Steve Wasko told WWJ in an interview that Cosby called the district and told them he wanted to volunteer his time.

"He reached out to us, we did not contact him. Mr. Bobb received a phone call directly from Dr. Cosby just about a week and a half to two weeks ago," said Wasko.

"Basically the offer was 'I'd like to join your army, where do I pick up my uniform?' We immediately accepted the offer and we're thrilled that he's coming to Detroit at no charge to DPS in any way," added Wasko.

With Cosby coming to Detroit on Tuesday, DPS hopes to bring more students into the district.

"This is one of a number of activities that we've been holding over the course of the last several weeks and will continue to hold through even the first weeks of school. Simply to raise awareness about the opportunities in Detroit Public Schools," said Wasko.

"Robert Bobb has asked parents to take another look at DPS and to make sure that they're aware of all the opportunities that are behind the doors of our DPS schools," said Wasko.

Cosby will be in Detroit all day Tuesday holding a variety of meetings and functions and presentations, as well as meeting with students and parents.

In particular, Cosby will be joining Bobb on one of his neighborhood walks. They will knock on resident doors on Tuesday evening between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. around Henry Ford High School.

A free public rally held by Bill Cosby at the Henry Ford High School auditorium will follow the walk at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

By Laura Sternburg

In more ways than one, Ray Drecker, the lead character and aspiring prostitute in HBO’s Hung, certainly gets around. The show is set and largely filmed in and around the Detroit area. I have to admit, I started watching the show because it leads into the wildly popular Entourage. When I noticed that Detroit was featured prominently in the show's opening credits, however, spotting shooting locations immediately added a new dimension to my viewing experience. As it turns out, however, I’m hooked; Hung is a pretty original show.

So what Detroit area locations have been used in the show? In episodes four through eight, Ray and company eat out a lot and several Detroit area restaurants are featured. Episode five featured the Kodiak Creek Inn on Cooley Lake in Commerce Township, a lodge-type restaurant decorated with a large, stone fireplace; a lofty, wooden ceiling; and various animal heads. I’m guessing the other restaurants in the episode are in Frankenmuth, at least given the Bavarian-type waitress outfits. The Town Pump Tavern in downtown Detroit’s theatre district was featured in Episode six, as was an as yet unidentified Middle Eastern restaurant. The Portofino Italian Restaurant (home to the Portofino Friendship Cruise on the Detroit River) in Wyandotte was featured in episode seven and the Gusoline Alley Bar in Royal Oak in episode eight.

I couldn’t quite figure out where the Farmer’s Market was located in episode seven, and I got a little obsessed trying to figure out – with no luck -- where the office building with the address “21600” might be located from episodes six and eight. I’m pretty sure, however, that the beach scene in episode five was at Metro Beach.

So, what (or where) did you spot?

Meet Rick Porcello and get a chance to instantly win a Sharp Aquos LCD TV! Just visit ABC Warehouse between 7pm - 8pm and while you're there, register for Sharp's "Watch it Like the Pros" sweepstakes to win tickets to the World Series!
By Minehana Forman

During a visit here on Tuesday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced the launch of a pilot food service program that would provide fresh produce to city neighborhoods.

The program, which will be funded by a $75,000 low-interest loan from the state, will deliver fruits and vegetables to residents with a vendor-style truck, according to the Detroit Free Press. When the produce truck, which will bear a MI Neighborhood Food Movers logo, rolls through neighborhoods on a fixed route and schedule, residents in Michigan’s largest city will have the option of buying some fresh and reasonably priced fruit and veggies for the dinner table.

Detroit has been identified as a “food desert” or a place where groceries and produce are not readily available. Many Detroit residents are forced to shop for groceries at convenience stores and gas stations because there are few real grocery stores inside the city limits. Many of those have limited operating hours and inflated prices.
Jason Beck

Curtis Granderson has manned center field for the Tigers long enough to ignore taunts from fans when they're on the road. That doesn't mean he doesn't listen. He isn't hearing quite that much creativity this year. More and more, he's hearing a familiar refrain. They're not taunting him as much. They're making fun of his city.

"You hear the razzing: 'Hey, man, I wouldn't want to live in Detroit,'" Granderson said. "Or, 'Nice city. The motor industry's gone. Now what else do you guys have left?'"

He's heard it before, but it stings a little more now.

"Just the economic part adds to it," Granderson said.

Then someone like catcher Gerald Laird will have a moment behind the plate when he can look around at a Comerica Park on a Sunday afternoon, or hear the roar of the crowd when Clete Thomas hit a walk-off homer earlier this month to finish off the Tigers' comeback from a five-run deficit.

Or Granderson will have a moment like last Monday, an off-day for the Tigers and a day for Granderson to sign copies of his new children's book, "All You Can Be." He arrived at the Borders bookstore on Woodward Avenue in the suburb of Birmingham to find virtually every open aisle on the second floor of the store filled with spillover from the line of fans waiting for him to autograph their copies.

It's a dichotomy that might be more surprising than the Tigers' performance on the field. For all the upheaval going on around this bruised piece of the Midwest, the Tigers' little piece of it has almost become a separate reality. And they've received such a boost from their fan base that they can't help but wear the Detroit name with pride.

"I've never been in anything like this," said shortstop Adam Everett, whose wife is from the area. "I just know that this is a hard-working town and people are passionate. Going through what a lot of these families are going through, it's not easy."

More than 40 years after the 1968 world champion Tigers helped unite the city and the suburbs for one tremendous summer amidst a year of civil unrest and tension in Detroit and across the country, this year's Tigers are providing a different kind of reminder of the social impact a team can have.

Nothing now will compare to the stories of Willie Horton taking to the streets of Detroit during the riots of 1967, trying to calm down rioters, or of Mickey Lolich being summoned to his post by the Michigan Air National Guard that summer. It's a different situation the city and region face now. It isn't violence, but seeming hopelessness the area is battling.

Yet it's a time when a first-place team has again become a diversion, and a source of pride in a city that others want to put down. As a team defying expectations, somehow getting through so many of its own issues, the Tigers are proving to be a fitting sanctuary for a few hours.

"I think the pick-me-up is huge," Tracey Huff of Oak Park, Mich., wrote in an email. "Being an almost everyday sport, there is always a game to watch or discuss, so as a fan you can certainly spend a large amount of time on the Tigers.

"This city has been beaten up by many folks from the outside, and a fair number of people from the inside, but there is a spirit of not giving up around here. That pretty much sums up the Tigers."

It isn't a feeling that just recently came over Tigers fans. While Michigan has become one of the most-cited examples of the recession, the struggles had been building for some time. Hard times in the auto industry, the state's employment giant, had pushed the unemployment rate upward since 2006. While hope grows that better times are ahead, few in Michigan can seem to agree on when.

Now that the economy is a daily headline, Michigan's woes are hard to miss. The state's unemployment rate, which dropped last month to 15 percent, has been the nation's highest for 26 of the past 27 months through June, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Manager Jim Leyland knows it, because it has impacted people in his family. He grew up about an hour down Interstate 75 in Perrysburg, Ohio, just south of Toledo.

"My dad was a factory worker," Leyland said earlier this year. "He worked at a glass factory that made windshields for General Motors products. I worked at that factory myself. There's not much more we can do but give a good effort, bust our tails for them and show our appreciation. It's tough.

"My heart aches for these people up here. They're trying to feed their families, and we're getting a check every two weeks. We're certainly glad that we are, but we're certainly aware of the people that aren't right now."

The national horror stories were ready when the Tigers headed home in April. Little more than a month into the season, reports pegged home attendance average down 29.4 percent from the same point last year. Soon after, a national writer suggested that finances could force the Tigers to trade superstar Miguel Cabrera.

Both scenarios turned out to be overblown. Owner Mike Ilitch has maintained a payroll in the top five among Major League clubs for the past couple years. The attendance figures, meanwhile, were in relation to 2008, when the trade for Cabrera sent fans into a frenzy for ticket packages expecting October baseball.

Whatever the economy, the Tigers' last-place finish made this a season in which the team would have to prove it could contend. When it did, and when schools let out for the summer, attendance rebounded, even as bankruptcy filings for two of Detroit's Big Three automakers further shook the region's financial base.

Though a Crain's Detroit Business report showed attendance prior to the All-Star break down a little more than 20 percent from last year, average attendance continues to climb, now up to just under 32,000 per game. Only the Yankees, Angels and Red Sox had a higher average among American League teams through Sunday, and the Tigers are 12th in the Majors.

They're on pace to approach or match their totals from 2006, the year they went to the World Series.

"We knew going in the economic challenges, and we wanted to be sure that we offered fans every opportunity to come to the park," Tigers vice president of communications Ron Colangelo said. "What's really been noticeable is the higher energy level. The team seems to be feeding off that. The fans know we're in a pennant chase. They know every pitch matters, every defensive play matters, every attempt to catch a ball in foul territory."

The center-field fountain, meanwhile, has become a tribute to Detroit's auto industry. When General Motors ended its sponsorship, Ilitch kept the GM signage and added Ford and Chrysler logos along with the message, "The Detroit Tigers support our automakers."

The stories of fans' attachment to this club, this year, have been as varied as the people of the region themselves. Many seem to have identified with this particular club, its peaks and valleys, and its seemingly endless battle to take control of a division that has no statistical standout team.

"Maybe there's an allegory there, too," Michelle Moliszewski of Toledo wrote. "The Tigers are struggling to stay on top the same way we are struggling as a country right now. In the same way, the city of Detroit has been through its ups and downs, just like the team, but the potential and the hope to be back on top is always there."

Local resident and partial season-ticket holder Amy Hunt cited the everyday nature of the baseball schedule as a constant.

"What the Tigers offer during the summer months rivals what the Red Wings offer in the winter: A day-in, day-out connection to community and restored hope that lasts all season long, even if for only a few hours at a time," she wrote. "A day without a game is unusual. Whether your team is something to rejoice about is sometimes irrelevant. You sit amongst a group of people that hold the same interest you do, or the game plays to a living room of one. Either way, there is always the next inning, another game, a new series, a prospect from the Minors, and, sometimes unfortunately, a phenom from another team to see. ...

"As Tigers partial season-ticket holders, my husband and I have enjoyed quite a few collective gasps over the last few years, sometimes joyful, sometimes not. Whatever the tangible outcome, the time spent amidst innings have offered a chance to simultaneously heal our personal losses and connect with the recovering spirit of an ailing Detroit."

The Tigers seem to get those connections.

"It's amazing because of the tough times," Laird said, "but this place has always been more of a baseball town. You're surprised a little bit because of the times and people losing jobs, but when you think about it, you can't always be down.

"When you hear about how tough it is, you come here and expect to see the stadium empty," he said. "But then I tell people we're getting 40,000 people on weekends. Honestly, it's funny to see how important sports can be for a town. People can rally around us. It's amazing. I enjoy being here. It's great. People enjoy winning."

It has been a intriguing year for that in Detroit. Michigan State's run to the NCAA men's basketball title game made for a tremendous draw with the Final Four at Ford Field. Likewise, the NHL's Detroit Red Wings were a saga for many fans in the spring, all the way up to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost to Pittsburgh.

The Tigers have filled that summer role.

"You hear a lot of buzz," said Bob Bronstein, owner of 24 Seconds sports bar in Berkley, Mich. "All summer, there's been a lot of talk about the Tigers. It is a good topic of conversation. Sometimes they play great. Sometimes they don't. Even if they play bad, they're a topic of conversation."

Nearly everyone asked agrees that a Tigers postseason rally could be bigger.

"I am really hoping and praying that they win the division," wrote Theresa Smithwick of Swartz Creek, Mich., "because this area needs to have encouragement and something to cheer about."

Granderson, who has thrown himself into the community and local schools through his Grand Kids Foundation, doesn't pretend it solves the issues. Even for Detroit, there were hard times soon after 1968.

"You get hyped and excited for the time being," he said, "but as soon as it's over, it hits again. The reality is, something's still got to change."

The Tigers can't make those changes. But they can make the city, the area, the state feel upbeat that change is possible.

"It would be extra special to have October baseball here," Laird said.

By Tim Higgins
Detroit Free Press

Text messages about wild nights have turned into Internet gold for two recent Michigan State University graduates. And no one is in trouble.

Ben Bator, 23, of Royal Oak and Lauren Leto, 22, of Grosse Pointe Woods often found their friends' messages so funny that they started a Web site where people could share texts with the world.

The site is a runaway hit that's launched a book deal, T-shirt sales and mobile-phone applications.

It's so successful that it has interrupted law school plans for Bator and Leto, who now sift through 10,000 to 15,000 messages a day, deciding which ones to post. Contributors are identified by area code.

The site marries the raunchy humor of youth movies such as "The Hangover" with the hyper-sharing of Web sites such as Twitter.

Many of the messages are a bit on the wild side for a family newspaper -- but here are a couple tamer ones:

• (714): OMG I just tried to text you something dirty but accidentally texted the Obama campaign.

• (678): I read the police report. You asked the cop if you could use his in-car computer to update your Facebook.

Leto acknowledged the site's explicit content has caused some awkward encounters -- her mother, for example, asks her to try to post cleaner jokes. "Is this the first thing that we say to someone we're sitting next to on a plane with a Bible in hand? No," Leto said. "But we're really proud of it."

• About the Web site: Some of the material published on Ben Bator's and Lauren Leto's Web site is very raw in nature. Click here for information on accessing the Web site.

Fresh out of MSU, Bator and Leto were like a lot of recent college grads struggling to find their place.

They wanted to stay in the Detroit area but also wanted to be more than just law students at Wayne State University. They wanted to create something, too.

Ideas started brewing during weekly visits to a Caribou Coffee shop in Grosse Pointe. But the best idea arrived in Leto’s text message in-box.

“I’m forwarding an e-mail to my girlfriends with all of this stuff that so-and-so texted me and I’m thinking, ‘This would be a really good Web site,” Leto said.

The idea was born for a site that has turned wildly popular, with about 3.5 million page views a day, a sophisticated look and a deep reserve of content. It is interactive, allowing users to essentially brag about a wild night out or, perhaps, invent an experience they wish had occurred. Without names, submissions are only identified by area codes. Posted messages run the gamut from obscene to existential.

The new gold rush

Leto and Bator began the venture earlier this year with the hopes of generating spending money while they were in law school. Now, the site, which has led to a book deal and drawn national advertising, could very well pay for their advanced educations.

The quirky business idea is an example of a Web site that explodes onto popular culture after spreading among friends and networking sites. Some find commercial success, but even some of the biggest, most popular sites don’t. Leto and Bator appear to be on track to be in the money-making group.

“The gold rush is a good metaphor,” said Robert Thompson, an expert on pop culture at Syracuse University.

During the gold rush, he noted, most people didn’t find any gold, a few found a lot and others found just enough to get excited for a short while.

“Once these things start going they are kind of like nuclear reactions,” Thompson said. It’s really hard to get them started, but once you do, it can happen really quickly.”

In February, Bator and Leto started their venture on Blogger.com, a free Web site, and solicited texts from people they knew.

Traffic quickly grew from 500 visitors a day to 15,000. They decided to launch their own site April 16, using less than $10,000 in savings and money from investors.

Within a week, traffic reached 240,000 page views and crashed their server, Bator said. A few days later, it reached 460,000 page views.

“It was finals week for a lot of colleges,” Leto said.

Students, who should have been studying, apparently were looking for a diversion. A spark was ignited, and news of the site spread through social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

On May 12, daily page views jumped to 1.1 million.

By June 11, traffic went to 2 million; four days later it was at 3 million.

These days, they said, the site averages 3.5 million page views a day, with 400,000 unique visitors.

Going coast to coast

Soon, the duo began selling advertising and fielding book offers. They’ve even printed T-shirts with some of their popular messages on them and expect to sell out of the first batch by the end of the month.

While Bator and Leto declined to discuss financial details about their book deal with Gotham, part of the Penguin Group, they said the Web site is generating revenue.

Websiteoutlook.com, which calculates site value, estimates the site generates about $887 per day in advertising revenue.

The site gets traffic from around the nation, and a lot of hits from major markets in New York and California.

“In the beginning, it was always Detroit,” Bator said. He acknowledged the pair took some inspiration from former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s salacious text messages.

“That played a part in the Detroit part of the site,” Bator said, noting the site’s “about” page makes reference to the former mayor.

Jennifer Rohde, 22, of Scottsdale, Ariz., said she visits the Web site several times a week and has submitted messages. “You can really imagine the scenarios that go along with the text message,” Rohde said by e-mail.

Thompson, the pop culture expert, said readers’ ability to contribute connects with people’s desire to perceive themselves at the center of the universe. “This has got the appeal because most of this is based on bragging,” he said.

Misgivings at home

That bravado doesn’t sit well with educators trying to teach responsible alcohol consumption among college students.

To Leto and Bator, the success comes from simply connecting with others.

“It’s about friendship at the end of the day,” Leto said. “It’s a view of what friendship is like right now for kids our age. I communicate solely with most of my friends through text message.”

Additional Facts
Sample text messages
A sampling of messages posted on Ben Bator’s and Lauren Leto’s Web site (senders are only identified by area code only on the site):

(314): So I went on a date with this girl … ...and who’s our waitress? My girlfriend got a second job she didn’t tell me about to afford my bday present.

(334): I told a kindergarten student that candy canes are bones of reject elves.

(818): I hate you but I’m not in hate with you.

(774): I just walked into a room at this party and someone

(203): Just met our mailman at a party, he asked me out. I said yes, but only if he picks me up in the mail truck. How jealous are you?

(630): Dipping chips in queso and thinking of your beautiful face.

Don Was is not the most obvious choice to host a country radio show. True, the Grammy-winning producer has worked with Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson (whose Was-masterminded album Closer to the Bone is out September 29). But the Detroit-born musician admits that he is “truthfully, an r&b guy” and, in many quarters, he is still best known for his idiosyncratic pop-funk outfit Was (Not Was).

Yet, on Saturday, August 29, at 10pm ET, Was will broadcast the first in a series of weekly shows called The Motor City Hayride for Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country channel. According to host Was, however, this isn’t going to be the most obvious of country showcases. “I’ve got an Iggy Pop song and a Conway Twitty song on the first show, so it’s pretty broad,” he explains.

Was also intends the show to highlight Detroit, a city that, he says, is more of a country-loving burg than you might imagine. “It hasn’t spawned a lot of artists that have gone on to national fame in the country and western field,” he admits. “But there’s a huge audience for it. After World War Two, people flocked to Detroit from the south looking for gigs in the auto factories. I just want people to know that the city keeps going. People are having fun and it’s actually a really nice place to live.”

After the jump, Was recalls having Marlon Brando as a neighbor, backing Iggy Pop, and the time Was (Not Was) made the mistake of supporting Milli Vanilli and Paula Abdul.

Rock band Foghat will heat up the stage on Friday, Aug. 21 for the fifth concert in the 2009 Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert series, sponsored by Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and in partnership with Detroit’s Classic Rock Station 94.7 WCSX-FM.

Foghat is the recipient of several awards including a platinum record for their Fool For The City album, which included their trademark song "Slow Ride" and cemented their place as one of the world’s top rock acts. Throughout the 70’s, they continued to hit the charts with hit singles such as "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", "I’ll Be Standing By" and “Stone Blue”. Today, Foghat is fronted by Detroit native and former Ted Nugent lead singer, Charlie Huhn.

Michigan-based guitar/harmonica duo Griff and John's Afterhours Experience will open the show at 8 p.m., and Foghat will perform from approximately 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Rockin’ on the Riverfront will continue to feature classic rock headliners every Friday through September 4.

Upcoming Rockin’ on the Riverfront concerts include:

August 28 – Edgar Winter
September 4 – Randy Bachman (performing the hits of his former bands the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
Admission to the concerts is free and no advance tickets are necessary. Viewing space will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and people are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets. In addition, boaters on the Detroit River are invited to anchor near the riverfront and enjoy the view of the stage from the water.

Food and refreshment concessions from Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will be available at several locations on the plaza. Outside food, beverages or coolers will not be permitted. Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will accept dinner reservations before and after the concert and invites guests to take advantage of its gorgeous outdoor patio overlooking the Detroit River.

Convenient parking is available for $5 per vehicle at the GM surface lot at the intersection of St. Antoine and Atwater, adjacent to the GM Renaissance Center.

Jeff Seidel

Shaquille Coleman, 16, holds a boom microphone over the movie set in an alley behind the Children's Center of Wayne County in Detroit.

Vic Spicer, the project director, takes over.

"Are we ready?" Spicer asks. "OK. Quiet."

A few seconds pass.

"OK, roll camera," says Spicer, who owns his own production company in Detroit. "Action!"

Music starts to play. It is a catchy, foot-tapping, inspirational song these teenagers wrote, performed and recorded at Harmonie Park Studios, the same studio Aretha Franklin and Eminem use.

"Pursue your dreams," female voices sing sweetly.

The actors start to dance, as the song breaks into rap: "All it takes is a little dedication. Realization. Motivation. Don't stop! Keep chasing!"

Filmmakers have popped up around Michigan, making feature-length movies and TV shows, but this is different.

This group of 18 high school students from Detroit and Highland Park is filming its own short movie at a blazing pace - three weeks from start to finish.

The teens wrote the script and choreographed the dances. They're acting and doing most of the behind-the-scenes work under the guidance of several professionals through a program called artsJAM Detroit! WAY (Work Alternatives for Youth), which is introducing them to the film industry.

Titled "Dreams: The Musical," the movie's theme is about reaching for aspirations. It's broken into four vignettes and is being shot in and around the Children's Center. Organizers expect it to run about 30 minutes.

It's part of the three-week VSA Arts of Michigan summer program that is funded through grants and donations, including one from Detroit's Community Development Block Grant Neighborhood Opportunity Fund .

"We are hoping that these teenagers are going to learn skills that they can use later on, when they finish high school," says Ellene Corace, a program assistant. Each of the students has some form of disability, and Corace has been working with many of them for three years.

Corace says she has seen tremendous growth in the students.

"We have a strict structure here for discipline," she says. "We want to model what the working environment is going to be after they graduate. We don't let them get away with things. It's all about training them for the world of work."

It is the first real job for Sierra Burkes, 15, of Highland Park. Her dream is to become a nurse or a dancer.

"I've learned how to control my attitude," says Sierra. "When I first came, I used to be all talking back and stuff."

All of the students are being paid minimum wage.

"It's like a dream come true, actually," says Alphonso Mayberry, 17, who is set to graduate from Highland Park Community High School in 2011. He says he wants to become a disc jockey, a police officer and work at a recording studio.

"We are getting experience making movies and videos," Alphonso says. "It's the experience of having a job and getting a real paycheck. We are learning to work hard."

The film will make its premiere at the Boll Family YMCA .

"I think it will be cool," Sierra says. "It's going to be exciting. I want everybody to come and see me. I'll be happy."

We’ve mentioned the possibility of having ferry service for bicyclists and pedestrians wanting to cross between the U.S. and Canada without needing a car. (Yes, pedestrians can use the Transit Windsor tunnel bus.)

Now the Windsor Star has an article discussing this possibility.

North America’s largest private passenger ferry company is in discussions with Windsor and Detroit port officials to link the two border cities by boat.

NY Waterway, operator of the largest ferry fleet in the New York harbour, has participated in several meetings locally about launching a service across the Detroit River that would focus on transporting commuters, operating tours and carrying fans to sporting events such as Detroit Red Wings’ games.

Of course this is far from being a done deal according to the article. NY Waterway still needs to determine if this is economically feasible.

We sure hope it is.
Rick Aristotle Munarriz

General Motors is delivering good news.

The automaker is ramping up its production. It's adding overtime shifts to some of its plants to keep up with "Cash for Clunkers" demand for new, fuel-efficient vehicles. The end result should be 60,000 more cars produced by GM this year.

GM's spurt follows Ford's (NYSE: F) similar announcement last week. The steadier domestic manufacturer will boost its output by 26% during the second half of the year to keep up with the flurry of trade-ins.

This may be welcome news for the automaking industry, and encouraging news on the economic front, but it's downright spectacular for Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI).

GM and Ford have been early believers in factory-installed satellite radios. Sirius XM could use the infusion of new drivers, after losing 590,421 net subscribers through the first six months of the year.

The new buyers may not be an easy sell for premium radio. One could logically assume that folks driving older cars worth less than $4,500 as trade-ins -- the only subset of the market drawn to the "cash for clunkers" program -- don't make up the ideal satellite-radio target market. Some may shy away from modern dashboard conveniences. Many can't just afford the service. In its latest quarter, just 44% of car buyers with satellite receivers installed chose to become paying customers. The conversion rate should, in theory, be lower here.

However, many of these buyers are in rural areas, where terrestrial radio is threadbare. Since satellite radios come with free trial subscriptions, many of these first-time users will be blown away by programming options.

There's always the fear that GM and Ford are overestimating the marketplace's appetite. Edmonds.com claims that "purchase intent" has fallen sharply in recent weeks. The first wave of "Cash for Clunkers" claims was naturally robust, but the pool of eligible participants thins out with every passing bucket of bolts that's surrendered for scrap.

I only fear that the rest of the potential buyers -- those without "clunkers" to hand over -- may be staying away, worried that dealers will be less reluctant to haggle their way down to great deals. As long as "Cash for Clunkers" is subsidizing drivers of stodgier cars, showroom bargains will be harder to find.

This will still be a net positive for companies such as Sirius XM, LoJack (Nasdaq: LOJN), and perhaps even Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN), all of which feast on new car sales. However, investors will want to make sure that there's more to "Cash for Clunkers" than just the initial exhaust fumes of success.

World's Largest Cupcake Made in Detroit


A Detroit company has set a world record for the largest single cupcake as a fundraiser for a breast cancer charity.

Ryan Abood of GourmetGiftsBasket.com said his company created the 7-foot-tall confection, which was certified by Guinness World Records as the largest cupcake ever made, with help from Merengue Bakery Cafe of California and Jensen Industries in Whitmore Lake, Mich., which donated the use of ovens normally used to bake airplane wings, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday.

Abood said the cupcake, created to raise funds for Passionately Pink for Cure, took 12 hours to bake and weighs 1,224 pounds. He said the cupcake's batter contained 800 eggs, 200 pounds of sugar and 200 pounds of flour.

"It's estimated to be around 2 million calories," Abood said

David Runk
Associated Press

Researchers at Michigan State University are working to turn the rutabaga into an oil-producing powerhouse that could make the turnip-like vegetable a better source of biofuel than other food crops.

The idea is that the rutabaga, which stores oil in its seeds like some other biofuel crops, could be genetically modified to churn out more oil and store it throughout the plant.

"If we could make it in the green tissues, like the leaves, stems or even underground tissues like storage roots, then we think we can make a lot more," professor Christoph Benning said.

The rutabaga hasn't had much presence on U.S. dinner tables, an advantage in using it for biofuel. The use of corn, soybeans and other food crops for fuel instead of food has raised the specter of shortages, and some blame the biofuel boom for pushing up food prices. Benning's research is one of many efforts nationally to get biofuel from sources other than major food crops.

Benning decided to focus on the rutabaga because the root vegetable already has the "machinery" of producing oil and it grows well in northern states. It's cold-resistant and, because of the way it flowers, he said, there's no threat of modified rutabagas becoming invasive.

Benning and his fellow researchers at Michigan State in East Lansing have inserted a gene into rutabagas to try to get them to accumulate oil instead of starch throughout the plant.

It took about a year to grow the first generation of genetically modified rutabaga in a university greenhouse, Benning said. The scientists will analyze seedlings from subsequent generations to see how oil production has been affected. Even if all works as expected, it could take 15 years before rutabaga biofuel becomes a reality, he said.

"It's not going to happen tomorrow, but the problem won't go away tomorrow," said Benning, who is part of Michigan State's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dan Gustafson, director of the Washington, D.C. liaison office of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, said it's important for researchers to look at different sources for biofuel - in part because of the trade-off, for example, between producing corn for food and corn for fuel.

"Biofuel has some tremendous potential and opportunities for farmers, but there also are problems with food security," Gustafson said.

Scott Faber, a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said it's important when looking at biofuel crops to examine how they will affect the cost of food. Even if rutabagas aren't widely grown in the U.S. for people to eat, rutabagas for biofuel could edge out other food crops.

"If you were to dedicate hundreds of thousands of acres to produce rutabaga for the biofuel sector, in all likelihood farmers would be changing what crops are currently being cultivated on those lands," Faber said. "That is one of the sort of hot-button issues, a central focus of the biofuel debate."

A goal, Benning said, is to grow rutabagas two or three times as efficient at producing oil as canola, a major biofuel crop. That could make it a "game changer" in the biofuel industry, he said.

The parts of genetically modified rutabagas that aren't harvested for oil could be used for animal feed, Benning said. He doesn't think the rutabagas would be unsuitable for human or animal consumption, but that would need to be studied. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to approve their use.

Inc. magazine recently included Enovate in its annual Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. The list, based on percentage revenue growth from the last four years, is a comprehensive look at one of the most important sectors of the American economy--independent-minded entrepreneurs. The companies that share this year's list with Enovate include consumer electronics producer Vizio, Internet domain registrar GoDaddy and rental car service Zipcar.

"We feel honored to be recognized by Inc. as one of the fastest growing companies in the country. Our continued growth in a troubled economy is a testament to our talented and dedicated team," said Ron Sgro, co-founder and CEO of Enovate. "We are extremely exited about the future of the healthcare IT industry, as well as our role in the years to come."

Since 2003, Enovate has been providing mobile and wall mounted computer workstation solutions for the healthcare environment. Enovate's extensive list of clients includes The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Chicago Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital. Over the four years that Inc. 5000 used to calculate the results, Enovate experienced 84.5 percent growth, from $12.1 million revenue in 2005 to $22.3 million in late 2008.

Co-Founder and company President Fred Calero attributed Enovate's tremendous track record of growth to its internally designed, developed and assembled healthcare hardware solutions, as well as its continued effort to solicit customer feedback.

"We have found that many of the world's finest organizations realize the proven benefits of listening then adapting quickly to the customer's requirements," he said. "That is what ensures success in today's economy, and it's how we've been able to position ourselves as proven leaders in the healthcare IT market."

Anthony Brooks


Ryan Cooley, a Detroit native, thinks he's at the beginning of the city's renaissance.

An Urban Renaissance

Cooley grew up in Detroit but left to become a Chicago banker. Four years ago, though, he decided to come home and take a chance on Detroit real estate, and he bought three modest brick buildings in the Corktown neighborhood. Cooley, 33, said it cost only a couple hundred thousand dollars for all three buildings. Something similar in Chicago would have been four times as much.

He is so bullish on the city that he set up a real estate business in one of the buildings. In another he helped open a popular new restaurant. Slows Bar-B-Q has become the anchor of this mini-one block urban renewal.

A Family Affair

Cooley has partnered with his 31-year-old brother, Phil. Until recently, the younger Cooley was a fashion model working in cities throughout the world, but he says there is no place he'd rather live now than Detroit.

Phil Cooley says the city is wide open for new ventures and is tolerant of his mistakes and successes. "It's lovely to be able to afford to do that here, one, because the community is so forgiving. And two, because it's less expensive than other places. So it's affordable," he says.

Artists and Families

Music producer Chris Koltay was drawn to Detroit from Cincinnati by the vibrant music scene and the cheap real estate. He says he knew he could afford a whole building. He found one across the street from Slows for just $38,000. The recording studio is packed with guitars, keyboards and microphones.

Koltay has made a loft in the back of the building and for a year lived there without hot water. "It was gnarly, but whatever. Now I'm golden. And it's so wide open, and I think that's beautiful. I've never seen a city that has this kind of opportunity for growth, and I think that's beautiful," he says.

Stories of cheap real estate are becoming legend in Detroit. Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert bought a solid three-bedroom house in East Detroit for just $78,000.

And they didn't stop there.

They bought another house down the street for just $1,900. They're converting that one into a solar-powered artists retreat. Then, the self-proclaimed capitalists bought the house next door for just $500 — and sold it to fellow artists for a tidy profit of $50.

They've persuaded other friends to buy the house across the street for just $100. Together they are all hoping to build a budding artist community and revitalize their neighborhood.

Exodus Continues

But while others are moving in and taking advantage of fire sale real estate prices, many more people are leaving. Only post-Katrina New Orleans shed residents faster than Detroit.

Karen Edelson, a stepmother to four kids, says she loves the city for its art, music and culture but she just can't live there. "The schools are a mess. And I've had friends who moved to the city of Detroit and everything was out of bounds. If you don't go grocery shopping before the sun goes down, then you can't go out at night," Edelson says. She adds that friends who have moved into the city end up driving back to the suburbs on the weekends to do their shopping.

Renewal Gives Hope

Meghan McEwen, a magazine editor and mother of two small children, says you can find a family-friendly life inside the city of Detroit. Her husband is Ryan Cooley, the developer. She admits that the city lacks basic urban conveniences, but because she and her husband were able to find real estate so cheap, she's able to work part time.

And she says it's exciting to be part of an effort to rebuild a city.

That enthusiasm gives Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future Inc., hope. He says the city will never return to its past vibrancy without young, talented professionals. Glazer says the brain drain from the city has been devastating.

It may not be a flood of artists, business owners and young professionals coming back to Detroit, but many in the Motor City say those trickling back in are giving many during these tough times something they haven't had for a long time ... hope.

Rare Earth original lead singer Peter Rivera, Iron Butterfly and Blues Image lead singer Mike Pinera and Sugarloaf original lead singer Jerry Corbetta, touring as the Classic Rock All Stars, will take the stage at the fourth concert in the 2009 Rockin’ on the Riverfront classic rock series on Friday, Aug. 14. The 2009 concert series sponsor is Andiamo Detroit Riverfront, in partnership with Detroit’s Classic Rock Station 94.7 WCSX-FM.

With Rivera on drums and lead vocals, Rare Earth sold more than 25 million records and produced popular hits such as “Get Ready” and “I’m Losing You.” Rare Earth was also the first all white band signed by Motown Records. On lead vocals and guitar, Pinera found astounding success with Iron Butterfly and Blues Image, but he’s best known for bringing the world the classic rock hit ”Ride, Captain, Ride.” Former lead singer, keyboardist and founder of Sugarloaf, Corbetta helped the group find success with hits such as “Green-Eyed Lady” and “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.”

Novi, Mich. bass player Larry Prentiss will also join the Classic Rock All Stars on the Rockin’ on the Riverfront stage. Detroit band Standing Room Only will open the show at 8 p.m., and the Classic Rock All Stars will perform from approximately 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Upcoming Rockin’ on the Riverfront concerts include:

August 21 – Foghat
August 28 – Edgar Winter
September 4 – TBD

Admission to the concerts is free and no advance tickets are necessary. Viewing space will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and people are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets. In addition, boaters on the Detroit River are invited to anchor near the riverfront and enjoy the view of the stage from the water.

Food and refreshment concessions from Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will be available at several locations on the plaza. Outside food, beverages or coolers will not be permitted. Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will accept dinner reservations before and after the concert and invites guests to take advantage of its gorgeous outdoor patio overlooking the Detroit River.

Convenient parking is available for $5 per vehicle at the GM surface lot at the intersection of St. Antoine and Atwater, adjacent to the GM Renaissance Center.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan, is announcing an innovative program to help local arts and cultural organizations raise sorely needed operating funds.

On Aug. 18 at 10 a.m., the Community Foundation will launch its $1 million “Community Foundation Challenge — Arts & Culture,” an online giving challenge designed to stimulate giving to arts and cultural organizations in southeast Michigan.

“For 25 years, the Community Foundation has supported arts and cultural organizations in southeast Michigan as part of our mission to improve the lives of all who live and work in the region, “ said Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan President Mariam C. Noland. “Arts and cultural organizations are essential to our quality of life. They touch our lives every day. They educate us, challenge us, show us who we are and who we can become. And right now, they urgently need our help.”

Gifts for the Community Foundation Challenge made online at http://www.cfsem.org to support participating Cultural Alliance members will be matched 50 percent by the Community Foundation. For every two dollars contributed online by donors to support these arts and cultural organizations, the Community Foundation will match it with one dollar. Gifts can be made by credit card or e-check and can range from $25 to $10,000 per contributor, per organization.

The goal of the program is to generate $3 million in much needed operating funds for participating arts and cultural organizations. Each participating Cultural Alliance member can generate up to maximum of $600,000 of operating funds ($400,000 in gifts and $200,000 in matching funds).

Time, however, is of the essence. The “Community Foundation Challenge – Arts & Culture” will begin accepting contributions at 10 a.m. on Aug. 18. It is expected that matching funds will be used quickly and the program will end once the $1 million matching fund is exhausted.

“Arts and cultural organizations all over southeast Michigan are suffering major cash crises and reducing their programs.” Noland said. “This Challenge gives everyone an opportunity to lend a hand to help support these vital organizations and makes their contributions worth even more.”

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations committed to the future of southeast Michigan. The Foundation works to improve the region’s quality of life by connecting those who care with causes that matter. The Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $360 million through more than 33,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St.

Come join Cosi in supporting the Detroit Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk, benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Dine at any of their six Michigan restaurants, Wednesday, August 12th, 4pm till close and 10% of your purchase is donated to the walk.

Ann Arbor
East Lansing
Farmington Hills
Rochester Hills

Sports Come Through in the Clutch

Micheline Maynard
The New York Times

In 1968, when I was young, Detroit was in shambles. Its soul had been wrenched open the summer before by riots that pitted angry black residents against a mostly white police force. The city’s newspapers were on strike. Auto industry leaders were beginning to worry about a threat posed by the Japanese.

Only one thing kept the city together, or so it seemed: the Tigers.

On the beaches of its metropolitan parks and in the kitchens and backyards of homes across Michigan, like the one where I grew up, we heard the voices of Ernie Harwell and Ray Lane broadcasting the play-by-play on WJR-AM and its sister stations.

When the Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, we were all united in more than just delight. The community, young and old, needed the success for spiritual reasons as much as for the sheer pleasure of seeing a sports team prevail.

Lately, I’ve felt a similar bond, only on a much grander scale and across many playing fields. As so many people around the world have lost their jobs, and seen their homes deflate in value and their countries become unsettled, sports have stepped in to distract us.

It is almost as if athletes everywhere have sensed an extra responsibility in 2009 and are rising to the occasion. They have good reason to do so. Even before the recession that has gripped the world, fans were increasingly fed up with doping scandals and violence and disappointments involving their sports heroes.

But athletic performance makes a difference now, far more than in a prosperous year.

Here in Detroit, where the Tigers have a tenuous grip on first place in the American League Central, two special events have gripped the city’s attention this year.

In April, it was the N.C.A.A. Final Four, in which the Michigan State men’s basketball team ultimately lost to North Carolina. Granted, it was a stretch to classify the East Lansing-based Spartans as a local team, but the 100-mile distance was happily overlooked, given the boost that M.S.U. gave to the local mood.

Two months later, the city was alternately jubilant and depressed, not to mention sleep deprived, thanks to the Red Wings. They tussled with the Pittsburgh Penguins before conceding the Stanley Cup in Game 7. That final buzzer at Joe Louis Arena ushered in a remarkable few months.

This summer has brought to mind not only my 1968 Tigers, but also the United States’ hockey victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics and France’s victory over Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final, which sent a million people surging onto the Champs-Élysées in celebration.

In rapid succession, fans around the world have been riveted by events that almost no one could have predicted.

In June, the United States men’s soccer team stunned top-ranked Spain in the Confederations Cup and led a shocked Brazilian team in the tournament’s final. There was no Miracle on Turf, however, and the Americans wound up losing the game but gaining respect.

Then came Roger Federer’s record-setting match against Andy Roddick at Wimbledon, an agonizing, exhilarating nail-biter whose final set lasted 30 games. The session went on long past the usual breakfast at Wimbledon and well into lunch before Federer finally claimed his 15th Grand Slam singles title.

It seemed only a blink of an eye before the 59-year-old Tom Watson was in the spotlight, falling a good putt short of winning the British Open but reassuring every golfer around the world that age was second to skill.

Layered over those individual performances was the three-week Tour de France, with so much drama it was hard to know which story was the most intriguing.

The Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, whose eyes have the same intensity as Federer’s, emerged as the best in his sport. But Lance Armstrong’s third-place finish at 37, after three and a half years away from racing, was clearly what many Americans cared about most.

Then comes fall and the World Series, when maybe, just maybe, my Tigers can recreate their magic once more.

Woodward Dream Cruise: Beginnings

Paul Stenquist
The New York Times

The Dream Cruise, Detroit’s mammoth automotive celebration, could take place only on Woodward Avenue, the street that has been inseparably linked to the automobile business for more than a century.

It was on Woodward that the birth of the American auto industry was announced in 1896, when Charles Brady King drove the street in his horseless carriage. Hundreds of spectators watched King cruise Woodward from Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit to Grand Boulevard, where he was ticketed for disturbing the peace. Henry Ford, who reportedly followed King on a bicycle, cruised the same avenue in his own car a few months later.

Woodward soon became the showplace for Detroit iron. Auto company executives used the street to show off their newest hardware, proudly demonstrating the machinery and gauging public reaction. In 1909, a one-mile stretch of the avenue became a concrete-paved road. In the 1920s, Woodward was widened from its southern end near the Detroit River to its northern terminus more than 20 miles to the north in Pontiac.

The 1950s were the golden age of the American car business, and Detroit was flush with dollars. New model introductions were celebrated. If you were old enough to drive, you had a car. And if you had a car, you showed it off on Woodward.

From one drive-in restaurant to the next, from the Totem Pole in Royal Oak to Suzy Q’s, the Varsity, Big Boy and Ted’s, young Detroiters in their hot iron cruised nine miles of Woodward. It was the place to see and be seen, a place to hang out with your friends and embrace the good times. If you were a hard-core street racer, it was also a place where you could engage in stoplight-to-stoplight drag races. Late at night, the competition became more serious. And the competitors weren’t just teenage thrill-seekers.

“Some big-three battles of the 1960s were fought just east of Woodward on Square Lake Road,” said Floyd Allen, Chrysler’s former vice president for power train product engineering. “A number of our engineers built their own high-performance street machines, as did the Ford and G.M. guys. Once a week, factory engineers from all over the area would gather after midnight. They had a portable Christmas tree and timing equipment. Pair after pair, they’d blast off side-by-side down Square Lake, recording numbers well into the triple digits at the quarter-mile finish line. It was a battle of warring states, a ritual defense of one’s honor.”

Today, you won’t see much real racing on Woodward, and the Detroit Three are fighting their battles in other arenas. You will see some machinery that is obviously built more for go than show, and quiet negotiations are sometimes conducted at the side of the road. But if races take place, they’re probably held in some obscure and distant place.

For most Detroiters, Woodward is more about entertainment than competition. And perhaps more about the past and the future than the moment. Today, Woodward is the cruise, the party, the celebration and the affirmation. It’s a place where car folk can go to dream about the way things were and hope for better days. It’s the beating heart of the American automobile business.