Who Moves to Detroit?

Ashley Woods
Model D

If you live here already, a better question might be—who falls in love with Detroit? And, indeed, that was one of the first questions moderator Dave Egner of the Hudson-Webber Foundation asked at the latest Model D Speaker Series event on April 8. The event took place at the College for Creative Studies and was co-sponsored by Next American City, a Philadelphia-based magazine chronicling new trends in American cities.

The discussion on Detroit's burgeoning professional population and housing trends quickly became a chance for four transplants to tell their own stories about falling in love with the Paris of the Midwest. (It was also a great excuse to attend a terrific reception afterward catered by the Majestic Cafe.)

What emerged was an ode to the D, both honest and hopeful, realistic and yet resistant to the "old narrative" of our city's history. We all know that story -- the birth and death of one of America's great cities -- but what about Act 3? To four of Detroit's newest residents, their love stories are only the beginning.

In those first heady moments, love is passionate. At least that's how Toby Barlow tells it. This ad man, who works as executive creative director at JWT Team Detroit in Dearborn, said Detroit was the only natural move for him, since "I grew up listening to punk rock and rock 'n' roll, and all I knew was that the suburbs suck." Living in his unique Mies van der Rohe home in Lafayette Park, Barlow is a convert who has helped spread the good word about Detroit. "This city embraces people. It's an incredibly infectious community, in a good way."

For Luis Croquer, the new director at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, said "being in Detroit, and working with Detroit, is very much part of the job description." Good thing for Croquer; he said his first visit to Detroit was a little like falling head over heels. "I became a Detroiter instantly," he said -- and this coming from a diplomat's son who grew up in El Salvador and has lived all over the world.

Love is giving. To Meghan McEwen, editor of CS Interiors magazine, a new chapter in her life began when she and her husband left Chicago four years ago for the Motor City. Looking to raise a family, they realized they could purchase a home in Detroit for roughly a third of a price of the condos they considered buying in Chicago. The low cost of living meant that she and her husband could work less, and spend more time raising their sons. "I don't think I could have had all of this in Chicago," she said.

Love is brave. At least that's the story for Kirsten Ussery, the director of communications for Detroit Renaissance. Growing up in a small town in North Carolina, her move to Detroit was a bit worrisome for her family and friends. That attitude usually changes when her loved ones visit her home in West Village. Ussery said, "I was a little naive," regarding her decision to move to Detroit, "but I never really had any negative experiences. That's still true today."

Barlow said he was surprised by the attitudes of his fellow New Yorkers when he accepted the job offer with JWT Team Detroit. For the record, "I'm sorry," was his least-favorite, most annoying reaction from acquaintances. He said, "I thought, in the last couple years, there seems to be something interesting going on in Detroit -- it's a shift, a noticeable shift."

(Not every speaker experienced negative reactions when they decided to move to the D. Croquer said," I come from Latin America, so I was never really worried about that. In fact, everyone said I was going to be safer here.")

Love is intimate. And that closeness is what McEwen says keeps her living in her restored Victorian in Corktown. "It's a small town, and a big city, all at once." In her former life in Chicago, McEwen said she never really got used to the feeling of anonymity that's so prevalent in the Windy City. People who don't make eye contact in the streets, or elbow for a place on the L Train, because they know they won't ever see you again. "The feeling of community, I think, keeps us acting a little more like humans."

Moderator Egner agreed. "It is an overgrown small town," he said. "Unlike Chicago, or Seattle, or LA, if you come here, you can move the needle in a positive direction."

Love is energetic. Croquer thinks one of Detroit's biggest problems is its "enormous self-esteem issue." He thinks finding a way to bring together the creative and corporate interests in the city is one key to Detroit's renaissance. "This city was once thought of as a center of modernist thought. But now, creative industries are not talking to the people who can have the resources to make things happen."

What is one of our great assets, according to Croquer? Detroiters themselves. "They are so passionate, and so committed," he said.

Love is wise. To Barlow, whose one-man marketing campaign to change Detroit starts with his motto, "Stop the Loathing," Detroit is literally a success story. "Detroit's story is the greatest act of hubris in the history of cities in North America," he said. "Everyone that could, left." That the city survives, and fights on, continues to impress him. But Barlow said he thinks reforming Detroit's City Council in order to elect officials by district is necessary "to reflect the rich tapestry of all people now calling this city home."

Love is hopeful. Ussery says pushing for regionalism in political and economic affairs will help make Detroit what it was once again. She said pushing for cooperation between corporations, politicians and cities is also the only way to diffuse the "race issue" once and for all. "Once people from the suburbs and people from Detroit can finally come together and make decisions that are the best for the region as a whole, all the dialogue will change," she said.

McEwen said Detroit has a future if it markets itself as an alternative to city dwellers across the world who are put off by yuppie neighborhoods and corporate chains. "I challenge you to name another major city that doesn't have a GAP," she said. She also thinks Detroit should do more to publicize real estate opportunities in its unique neighborhoods. "In more and more cities, I swear," she said, "You could pick up a block in Chicago and move it to Brooklyn, and you'd never know the difference. You can't do that with Detroit."

There's something about love, how it has a power to heal those who have been hurt before, a way it seems to change people. To McEwen, that's the greatest thing about Detroit, the reason she stays here, the reason, in fact, all four of these new Detroiters said they'd never want to leave. "What people love about Detroit ... what I love about Detroit ... is that we can do something to change it, to make it better. They all want to be part of something bigger than themselves."

That's what loving Detroit means.
Stephanie Steinberg
Michigan Daily

An array of solar panels sits atop the Dana building on Central Campus. In total, the panels can generate over 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity for the building.

Solar cells are among the most well-known alternative sources of energy. But Engineering Prof. Max Shtein is working to bring solar technology into more homes by making solar cells more conducive to daily life — like weaving them into textiles.

Shtein said this change will allow people to consume energy in eco-friendly ways when using everyday products.

“Going to the store and buying clothes, for example, is a lot more familiar to a lot more people than installing a solar cell on the roof of their house,” he said.

Shtein, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and a team of researchers are developing a system to create solar cells out of fibers that can be woven into textiles.

“Most of those textiles are actually dyed using organic dyes where the molecular structure is very similar to the structure of the molecules we would use to make organic-based solar cells,” Shtein said.

Shtein has brainstormed many uses for his discovery including carbon fiber airplanes with solar cells interwoven into the plane’s structure and coats and tents made out of solar cell fibers. He said a tent that can effectively generate electricity from the power of the sun can solve many of the problems caused by natural disasters.

“There’s a lot of instances where you have disaster relief kind of shelters, where you want to be able to generate electricity for people to communicate, for people to purify water, to read, to do things they need to do,” Shtein said.

The solar cells applied to the fibers are very thin and add no thickness to the material. Shtein said he discovered that bundles of fibers in a textile absorb more light, making the textile more efficient at collecting energy than a regular, flat solar cell.

Solar panels are one of the most common means of obtaining solar energy. Through the use of photovoltaics, solar cells convert sunlight into electricity.

Though solar panels provide a way to capture light energy, University scientists are working on new and improved methods to harvest energy from the sun.

“The sun is a terrific energy resource for humanity in general,” said Stephen Maldonado, as assistant professor of chemistry. “The output of power that reaches the earth from the sun is several times as much energy as people use every year.”

Maldonado and his team of researchers are studying and designing systems that convert solar energy into chemical bond energy, which can be used to make electricity.

“We work with materials that are similar to what’s found in photovoltaics or the solar panels you see on people’s houses,” Maldonado said, “but those typically operate for solar to electrical energy conversion, and we’re much more interested in making systems that mimic photosynthesis in plants.”

One of the disadvantages of solar cells is that the generated electricity must be consumed immediately because it cannot be stored for long periods of time.
Maldonado said plants are good at converting solar energy into chemical bond energy for making chemical fuels. Using plants as a model, the research team hopes to devise a system that can store solar energy in chemical bonds for long-term storage — similar to how energy is currently stored in gasoline and fossil fuels.

United Solar Ovonic — based out of Rochester Hills, Mich. — is the largest producer of flexible solar cells in the United States. Flexible solar panels are sometimes more useful than regular solar panels because they can be applied to curved surfaces like dome-shaped stadiums.
On average, United Solar Ovonic sells three to four solar panels a week to customers in Michigan.

United Solar Ovonic Sales Engineer George Zaharopoulos said the company has seen an increase in sales since President Barack Obama passed the stimulus package, which included tax incentives for renewable energy investors.

“People are more persuaded to use solar because they get reimbursements and rebates from their state,” he said.

According to a survey conducted by AltaTerra Research Network last November, solar energy installation is on the rise. Results from the survey showed a 52 percent growth rate of newly installed solar energy each year until 2012.

Geological Sciences Prof. Joel Blum believes there are major advantages to alternate energy sources.

Blum teaches GEOSCI 344 Sustainability & Fossil Energy: Options & Consequences at Camp Davis, the University’s Rocky Mountain field station near Jackson, Wyo. The course — which educates students about the scientific and environmental issues related to sustainable and traditional fossil energy sources — will be offered for the first time this summer.

While Blum is an advocate for using renewable forms of energy, he said Michigan is one of the worst places in America to capture solar energy.

“Michigan is a very cloudy place,” Blum said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s not feasible and shouldn’t be done, but it makes much more sense in sunny places like the Western United States where you have much, much, much greater annual solar radiation than you have in a place like Michigan.”

Despite Michigan’s cloudiness, the University decided to install solar panels on the roof of the Dana Building when it was renovated in 2004.

Bill Verge, the associate director of Utilities and Plant Engineering at the University, said the University installed solar energy collectors in an effort to become more environmentally friendly and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’m a firm believer in the fact that global warming is occurring and that we have to move away from fossil fuels,” Verge said. “And I think that solar energy is one of the best opportunities, even in the state of Michigan.”

Helaine Hunscher, program coordinator of the Center for Sustainable Systems in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, wrote in an e-mail interview that the solar panels on the Dana Building don’t generate enough electricity to sustain the entire building. The angle of the sun and cloud conditions affect the photovoltaic output of the solar panels, and the power demand of the Dana Building varies by occupancy and the use of equipment and lights.

However, the system has shown positive results, Hunscher wrote in the e-mail.

“In 2005, the solar panels generated 35,000 KWh (kilowatt-hours) of energy which is enough to light a 100-Watt bulb for about 40 years,” Hunscher wrote.

She added that on a sunny day in May 2005, the panels met 23 percent of the power demand of the building.

Although the solar panels are not providing an immediate reduction in utility costs, Verge said the University will see a payback in cost reductions in 15 to 20 years.

She added that the main value of the technology is to use it for educational purposes by involving students from the School of Natural Resources and Environment in monitoring the system and evaluating its effectiveness.

In spring 2008, the University also installed a solar collector on the top of the University’s Central Power Plant that helps heat water in Central Campus facilities. The collector is the first of its kind to be installed in the United States and can heat water up to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Its estimated 25-year lifespan will offset the costs from future fuel increases.

Verge said the University is looking into installing more alternate energy sources like solar panels and solar collectors down the road.

“However, the price needs to come down quite a bit before we can utilize it in a large scale,” he said.

Another group on campus is investing in solar energy — not for powering a building, but for running a car.

The University’s Solar Car Team is the largest student project on campus. Involving about 100 students from different schools on campus, the team works together to build a car to race in competitions held every two years.

This year’s car is as tall and long as a normal car and can reach a top speed of 87 miles per hour. The one main difference from a regular car is its six square meters of solar cells on the roof, which are used to charge the vehicle’s lithium ion batteries. Additionally, the car is only 600 pounds — driver included.

Engineering senior Steven Hechtman is the project manager of the Solar Car Team. He said while solar energy is useful for charging the car’s batteries, the amount of energy obtained from the sun is very limiting.

“Our solar cells only pull in as much power as you use for a hair dryer,” he said. “So if you compare it with the horsepower of a regular car, there’s not enough energy coming from the sun to power a real heavy vehicle.”

Hechtman said the next generation of consumer cars will probably include solar cells on the roof — citing the next Toyota Prius as a vehicle that will use solar energy to charge a certain percentage of its battery.

However, he said it’s unlikely there will ever be a car that runs solely off the power of the sun.
“If you want a car that’s the size of a normal car, the weight of a normal car, with all the features of a normal car, there’s no way you can power it completely by the sun,” he said.

Even though solar energy may never be able to generate enough power to fully run vehicles, it has the potential to greatly reduce fossil fuel consumption around the world.

Moreover, the developments made by University researchers shows that solar energy could provide at least a part of the solution Michigan’s economic troubles.

Shtein and Maldonado agree that a concerted effort to produce solar cells in Michigan could have a huge impact on the state’s economic situation.

Shtein said Michigan is well-suited for large-scale production because of the automotive industry.

“You have a highly trained work force, you have very good manufacturing capacity and here people know how to scale things up,” Shtein said. “In solar cells a big problem is scale up. We’re not making enough of them fast enough.”

Maldonado said if researchers can create an alternative energy resource that’s more uniformly distributed, they could potentially restructure the way society operates.

“If that technology can be developed here within the state of Michigan and cultivated here, that would give Michigan an insight in terms of being a major player in that sort of energy redesigning,” Maldonado said.

He added: “Getting involved in solar energy is really a sort of hot ticket item that could really have a lot of financial gain if it’s done right.”
Nathan Bomey and Sven Gustafson
Michigan Business Review

Michigan is becoming the nation's leader in advanced battery production got a major jolt today as officials announced investments in four new operations that would employ several thousand workers.

The four projects, collectively worth about $1.7 billion, illustrate the state's burgeoning hold on the vehicle battery production market as the world's top automakers invest billions in electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries.
Michigan economic development officials approved tax incentives for battery production operations for:

• Watertown, Mass.-based A123Systems Inc., which has existing operations in Ann Arbor and Novi. The firm, which has an agreement to supply batteries for Chrysler's electric vehicles, will invest more than $600 million in a new battery plant in Livonia. This specific project will create some 5,000 jobs.

A123, which is also pursuing $1.84 billion in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy to build U.S. battery factories, had already announced plans to invest in battery plants employing 14,000 workers. In November, the company won $10 million under the state's Centers of Energy Excellence research and development program. It says it will base that program out of the new Livonia facility and work in collaboration with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

• KD Advanced Battery Group LLC, a joint venture between Midland-based Dow Chemical Co., Kokam America Inc. and Townsend Ventures LLC. The firms are joining together to build a $665 million, 800,000-square-foot battery manufacturing plant. The plant will employ some 885 workers and deliver batteries for electric vehicles and hybrids.

• Korean firm LG Chem and Troy-based subsidiary Compact Power, in partnership with General Motors, announced they would invest $244 million to jointly establish a 660,000 square-foot lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facility. The facility would include cathode, anode, separator and assembly lines and will create up to 443 new jobs over the next five years, according to state documents.

GM in January announced it had selected LG Chem to supply lithium-ion cells for the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle to be released in November 2010. The Volt will be able to travel 40 miles on a single charge of electricity.

Business Review first reported last month that Compact Power was planning an expansion in Troy.

• Milwaukee-based Johnson-Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC. The firm expects to invest $220 million in an advanced battery production plant that will employ 498 workers. JCS recently landed a deal with Ford Motor Co. to supply batteries for Ford's first plug-in hybrid vehicle.

"The state's created an enviroment where battery businesses are welcome, and electrification technologies are welcome," said University of Michigan engineering professor Ann Marie Sastry, who has her own Ann Arbor-based vehicle battery startup called Sakti3. "Michigan has taken a leadership role."

The announced investments come after Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week signed two additional tax credits into law for battery cell R&D and manufacturing, increasing the credits available to companies to $555 million. The incentives stipulate that battery manufacturers can qualify for up to $25 million in incentives a year for four years, or $300 million altogether, provided they open a plant and create at least 300 jobs in the state.

"Thanks to the most aggressive economic strategy of any state in the country, Michigan, the global center of automotive research and development, is positioned to lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil and become the advanced battery capital of the world," Granholm said in a news release.

Other tax incentives totaling up to $225 million target research and manufacturing of advanced batteries.

Granholm and lawmakers hope the tax credits strengthen Michigan's case for a large share of $2 billion in federal stimulus money for energy projects.

Ford Motor Co. in February won $55 million in refundable credits from MEDC to help it with its strategy to bring four electric vehicles to the market by 2012. GM also won up to $160 million under the program and $6.8 million in separate tax incentives to locate a battery pack assembly plant in Southeast Michigan.
Steve Keating
Reuters Canada

The Detroit Red Wings will give Motor City spirits another boost when they launch the defense of their Stanley Cup crown this week against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Red Wings march to the Stanley Cup last year provided one of the best feel good moments for Detroit and another championship parade would no doubt bring the same to Detroiters in 2009.
The long Stanley Cup grind begins on Wednesday with 16-teams trying to become the last one standing at the end of four punishing best-of-seven series that will carry into June.

A Stanley Cup run is something Red Wings fans have come to expect with Detroit in the playoffs for an 18th consecutive year.

But it will be a new experience for first round opponents the Blue Jackets, who will be making their first playoff appearance since joining the league nine years ago.

In the last 40 years, only two teams have reached the Stanley Cup finals in their first trip to the post-season and if the Blue Jackets are to join them it will largely depend on the play of brilliant rookie netminder Steve Mason, who led the league with 10 shutouts.

"We know what's in front of us, Columbus captain Rick Nash told reporters during a conference call. "They know what it takes to win the Stanley Cup and we will have our hands full."

The San Jose Sharks finished the regular season as the NHL's top team but must shed their reputation as playoff under-achievers after exiting in the Western conference semi-finals the last three seasons.

The Sharks open against Anaheim and will have to be wary of the eighth seeded and in-form Ducks.

In other Western conference matchups, the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Calgary Flames while the St. Louis Blues, the NHL's hottest team in the second half going 25-9-7 to clinch their first playoff spot in five years, face-off against the Vancouver Canucks.

The NCAA has released their final figures for the events surrounding the 2009 NCAA Men's Final Four and they show a number of records were broken.

Detroit now holds the attendance records for several of the NCAA's marquee events, including The Big Dance, NCAA Hoop City, the Final Four Dribble and the Road to the Final Four 5K Run/Walk.

Attendance figures show that between 32,000 and 34,000 fans packed Ford Field on Friday, April 3, to watch the teams' practices and the Hershey's College All-Star Game.

For The Big Dance concerts, officials say the 300,000 music fans packed the Riverfront for three days of food, fun and entertainment by national recording artists and 40 local bands.

The attendance breaks down with 60,000 fans attending the AT&T Block part on Friday, 125,000 fans attending Big Dance Saturday and 115,000 fans attending the My Coke Fest on Sunday.

Meanwhile, 76,079 people took part in NCAA Hoop City over at Cobo Center for the first three days of the event. Attendance figures for the fourth and final day are still being compiled.

The Road to the Final Four 5K Run/Walk attracted 1,702 runners who raced through downtown and along the Riverfront on Saturday.

And not to be outdone, the National Semifinals and Championship games brought more than 145,000 people to Ford Field over the course of the weekend.

In talking about the attendance, Greg Shaheen, the NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball and Business Strategies says "Detroit proved itself to be one of America’s great sports and music cities and exceeded all expectations for the weekend. This weekend was a celebration of another great NCAA men’s basketball season and millions of people who follow the game from every corner of the country and world. Detroiters demonstrated great warmth, spirit, and hospitality and helped make this a memorable weekend for visiting and local fans alike."

A veteran Hollywood film executive who is a native Detroiter will build a $146 million, 750,000-square-foot film, TV and media production studio factory and village on 104 acres of land at Southfield Road and Enterprise Drive in Allen Park, officials announced today.

Productions at Unity Studios will employ up to 3,000 skilled and non-skilled union workers. Unity will employ up to 83 management/operational positions for the studio and within the Village.

City of Allen Park residents and laid-off union workers from across the region will get first shot at the jobs, Allen Park Mayor Gary Burtka said.

"Unity Studios amounts to an economic development blockbuster and the best economic news announced in Downriver and southeast Michigan in years," Burtka said. "This project represents new hope and, more importantly, job opportunities for thousands of Allen Park residents and auto workers who have lost their jobs.

"We have found an economic boost in the lights, cameras and action of Michigan's newest high-tech industry."

Governor Jennifer Granholm said the Unity Studios project highlights the success of the state's efforts to attract the film industry to Michigan.

"We are working hard to build a diversified economy and create good-paying jobs for our talented workforce," Governor Granholm said. "As a result of our aggressive film incentives enacted just a year ago, we are not only bringing new investment to the burgeoning film production community in Michigan, we are putting in place the infrastructure for an industry that will support long-term job growth and opportunity in new, creative sectors."

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said the Unity Studios project is an important step in diversifying the county's economy.

"Our economic development team has been working diligently with Allen Park on this project," Ficano said. "We are now attempting to put together an incentive package that will create jobs in a new industry for the region."

The county is considering making a Renaissance Zone designation available for the project when all benchmarks are met by investors, Ficano added.

Unity Studios will be majority owned and operated by a group of investors from Los Angeles and Michigan, with Jimmy Lifton of California as the President. Lifton, originally from Southfield, Michigan, has been in the business of entertainment for 30 years. He has owned an internationally distributed record label, produced 13 feature films, and is Principal of one of the largest independent post-production audio studios in Los Angeles, Oracle Post. Some of the most famous and familiar TV and film industry giants use Oracle Post including Fox, HBO, NBC, ABC, Disney, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, VH1 and MTV.

Also unique about the project: The Lifton Institute for Media Skills will implement one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan. Out of work skilled and unskilled labor will receive on-the-set training and production experience, giving students production credits. In addition, the project will include a village where people can live, shop and find entertainment options.

"My goal was to help bring a new industry to my home state," said Lifton. "I like to think of Unity Studios as a factory in the tradition of Henry Ford's Rouge factory model. All aspects of production occurring in one location; workforce training, production, post-production, distribution and marketing. We will constantly be creating product on the lot, utilizing the Detroit area's best asset, the creativity of its people."

Burtka said the project represents a creative and progressive approach to community-based economic development and redevelopment: under the agreement with Lifton, the city will own equity in the studios. In addition, the studios are being developed on brown field property currently occupied by various buildings and open fields. As a result, it does not increase sprawl nor does it require the city and its taxpayers to shoulder significant new infrastructure costs.

"This project is an economic development win-win-win for Allen Park residents," Burtka said.
"We did not need to raise taxes a penny to win this project. Our residents get first shot at the jobs, and they are owners too."

Allen Park officials said the project would not have been possible without significant support from the State of Michigan.

"We offer our sincere appreciation and heartfelt thanks to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan Film Office, Robert Ficano, the Michigan Economic Development Growth Corporation, and to the state legislators who helped us put all the pieces together," Burtka said.

Additional details about Unity Studios will be released in coming weeks and months, including the start of construction, hiring, enrollments in the training institute, and partnerships with various other companies and industries in the region and state.

Unity Studios Facts

A full-service movie, television and media production studio factory and village to be built on 104 acres at Southfield Road and Enterprise Drive in Allen Park.

$146 million total project investment.

Phase 1 will encompass 40 acres of the site. It will include 750,000 square feet of production, post-production and production services facilities with eight sound stages. In specific terms, there will be four, 24,000-square-foot sound stages, 45 feet to the grid. There will also be four smaller stages of about 11,000 square feet with 21-foot ceilings to accommodate smaller productions, TV shows, commercials and Media School productions.

Up to 3,000 skilled and non-skilled union jobs each year working on the sets of media productions and within the Village.

The project will generate up to 83 full-time managerial and operational jobs.

City of Allen Park residents and laid-off union workers from across the region will get first shot at the jobs.

A unique and progressive economic development model in which the City of Allen Park will have equity in the project.

The project is being developed on brown field property that has served as home to auto makers and suppliers for decades. As a result, it does not increase sprawl nor does it require the city and its taxpayers to shoulder significant new infrastructure costs.

Unity Studios will be majority owned and operated by a group of investors from Los Angeles and Michigan, with Jimmy Lifton of California as the President.

Lifton, a native Detroiter, has been in the business of entertainment for 30 years. He has owned an internationally distributed record label, produced 13 feature films, and is Principal of one of the largest independent post-production audio studios in Los Angeles, Oracle Post. Some of the most famous and familiar TV and film industry giants use Oracle Post including Fox, HBO, NBC, ABC, Disney, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, VH1 and MTV.

The Lifton Institute for Media Skills will implement one of the largest retraining programs ever enacted in Michigan. Out of work skilled and unskilled labor will receive on-the-set training and production experience, giving students production credits.

Devoted Tigers fan has followed his team since 1927

David Harris
The Flint Journal

Russell Springsteen remembers the game like it was yesterday.

It was 1927 at Navin Field, the one-time home of the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were playing the Washington Senators.

"I was 9 years old and my big brother took me," said Springsteen, now 90, of Flint Township. "The big field was so green. I'd never seen anything like it."

Springteen recalls the Tigers trailing going into the bottom of the ninth. Then the Tigers scored three runs, including two home runs, in the inning to win.

"I thought it was great," he said. "The crowd went wild."

As the 2009 Detroit Tigers made their first appearance at Comerica Park on Friday, Springsteen is ready for another season.

He has been to at least one Tigers game every year, save for a few years when he was serving in World War II and last year when he was too sick, since 1927.

Through the years he's been to some of the Tigers most famous games.

He was at Briggs Stadium (which later became Tiger Stadium) in 1952 when Virgil "Fire" Trucks tossed a 1-0 no-hitter. In 1999, Springsteen went to the final game in Tiger Stadium.

Springsteen also has some funny stories. When he was 16, he went to a game with some older friends. He hopped into the car and they drove from his native Lapeer to Detroit.

His friends got drunk and he became separated from them.

"I knew exactly where we parked, and when I got to where the car was, there was no car," he said. "They must have gone to bar to finish getting drunk."

Springsteen hitch-hiked and walked to get home.

"When I was walking along (M-24) some dogs would come out and chase me a mile down the road," he said with a laugh.

He finally got home about midnight.

His favorite all-time Tiger is Gee Walker, a reserve right-fielder who played for the Tigers in the 1930s. He was a honorable player, Springsteen said.

Springsteen is a big fan of Comerica Park. He has had a seat in one of the luxury skyboxes for a couple games.

"They serve you food right there," he said.

It was quite a bit different from his first game -- way back in 1927.

"We were in the upper deck," he said. "I felt like I was a mile high."

Springsteen also has became a avid fantasy baseball player. He spends an hour or two each day tweaking his lineup.

"You get a chance to manage," he said. "You can a chance to move (your team) up the standings," he said.

The key to winning in fantasy baseball is pitching, he said.

"You got to spend a lot of money on pitching," he said. "Someone should tell that to (Tigers General Manager Dave) Dombrowski."
Jay Wierenga

For the throngs of Tiger fans and critics alike, today's game was for you.

For the talking heads and assorted prognosticators who have predicted another disappointing season in Detroit, today's game was for you.

For those who called for Jim Leyland to run for governor three years ago and are now calling for his head, today's game was for you.

And for those that think the city of Detroit is a walking corpse, today's game was for you.

At no time over the past couple seasons have the Tigers needed a victory more.

Sure, Detroit won a game in Toronto, thus avoiding the same fate as last year's disastrous club.
However, the loss on the following day sapped much of the slight optimism that had begun to pool in the corners of the sports pages.

Detroit needed an emphatic victory, and their kitties delivered in a resounding way, lassoing the Texas Rangers in a 15-2 affair on Friday afternoon.

Okay, I know what you are thinking. This was one game, and the Tigers are still one game below .500. I concede these points. But there is also a lot more reason for optimism than may initially be visible.

The reason that this game was so important was for the psyche of the players, as much as it was for the fans.

Those who felt burned by a drastically underachieving team last year needed to see a glimmer of hope.

Those who howl about Leyland and the overpaid yet under performing players needed to have a season home opener that would make them eat a little crow. Believe me, it goes down easier with a smuggled pocket flask of whiskey and an $8 beer chaser.

And those pitchers that waited in vain for their run support and the hitters that saw 0-0 opening scores turn quickly into insurmountable obstacles needed a day off from the cardiac arrest which was last season.

Let's take a look at what we have seen so far through five games.

The offense has been stellar, winning with both power and manufactured runs. Typical slow starters, like Miguel Cabrera, have flourished. A player looking for a bounce back season, Brandon Inge, has looked fantastic. Even the usually terrible hitter Gerald Laird managed to get a couple hits.

Defensively, the Tigers have been relatively consistent, although three players that the team has flaunted for their defensive prowess, Inge, Adam Everett and Ramon Santiago each have errors. Inge's in particular came at a very inopportune moment. Regardless, they have looked better, and their consistency will come with time.

The real story so far has been the pitching. The bullpen has been interesting to say the least. The two players brought in to lend a stable and steady hand, Juan Rincon and Brandon Lyon, have been lit up.

Meanwhile, the usually inconsistent Fernando Rodney looked great in his inning of work and rookie Ryan Perry has looked like a real gem in his two outings. Nate Robertson has been, well, Nate Robertson.

Additionally, the starting pitching has shown some real signs for hope. Edwin Jackson was a revelation in his start, Zach Miner looked great and Armando Galarraga picked up right where he left off last year. Those three, some might say, are the key to the season (at least in the early part of the year).
Positive Cities Has Officially Launched!

Hop on Twitter and fill us in on your Detroit Tiger's Opening Day Experieince. Type #+Detroit for a chance to win tickets to the 4/15 ballgame. Click Here to follow the feed live.

Detroit Three Find Hope In Centerfield

By Mitch Albom

When the Tigers open their season this week, fans will look to centerfield at Comerica Park and see the greenery, the flagpoles and the giant fountain. And, as usual, every time there's a Detroit home run, those fountains will erupt.

That spot, in the stadium business, is what they call prime real estate. Companies pay big money to have their logo smack dab in the middle, so that every time fans gaze out there, the brand is what they see.

For the last few years, General Motors has sponsored that fountain, and paid a substantial fee to do so. This season, with all that has happened in the auto business, GM's folks called the Tigers and said, regretfully, they could no longer pay for it.

GM had to step aside.
Which is when Mike Ilitch, the Tigers' owner, stepped in.

There were other bidders. Other offers. Who wouldn't want that real estate? A deal of three years worth between $1.5 million and $2 million was on the table.

Ilitch said no thanks.
He was going to give it away.
Or maybe "give it back" is a better way of putting it. Chalk up an outfield assist.

"It just seems strange to have the car companies in trouble," he told me this past week. "The Big Three, where would this city be without them? I mean, my father came from the old country and got a job at Ford. It put food on our table."

"It's scary to think that any of those carmakers could go away."

So Ilitch told his people to thank the potential paying customers, but to say that the centerfield fountain this year was spoken for. It would be the feature site for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

For free.
No charge.
Not one penny.

"It's just a small opportunity to respond to what's happening," Ilitch said, embarrassed by the attention.

There's nothing small about it.
Every business has been affected by the economy; baseball teams are no exception. Walking away from a couple million dollars is not considered a wise financial move. Who turns away paying customers?
In this case, Ilitch did.
Because sometimes it's about the where and the who, not just the how much. A message from the ballclub

"I thought for a few weeks before deciding," Ilitch admitted. "I didn't want to offend anybody. I didn't want to put off the foreign carmakers. And I didn't want people to think we couldn't sell the fountain. As a businessman, you do worry about those things."

"But I finally said, 'The heck with it.' I want to do something to help."
So starting with the home opener this Friday afternoon, the Chrysler, General Motors and Ford logos will be on an equal plane above the fountain. And beneath those logos will be a few new words:

"The Detroit Tigers support our automakers."

It may be as close to a social statement as centerfield has ever made.

Visitors in Detroit for this weekend's Final Four may think our small, thriving downtown looks a lot like other cities' downtowns. But there is something different beneath the surface.

Here, we construct in the face of adversity. We build on hope. Pure investors will tell you a city with rampant unemployment, enormous budget shortfalls, a troubled school system and a laughable city council is not a place to put your money. We do it anyhow.

We do it because we love our past and we believe in our future. We do it because the alternative would be to close shop altogether. We do it because last week there were stories about the gleaming new Yankee Stadium, which cost $1.5 billion and has seats as high as $2,625 a game - and here is Ilitch giving away his fountain for free.

Detroit may be the new home of the bumpy ride, but as the Three Musketeers once discovered, it's a little smoother when you grab hands with others. Think about that the next time a home run sends that fountain shooting up to those logos. Sometimes it really is all for one and one for all.

"I didn't want to offend anybody. I didn't want to put off the foreign carmakers. And I didn't want people to think we couldn't sell the fountain. ... You do worry about those things."
MIKE ILITCH, Tigers owner since 1992

Final 4: 2009 Detroit parties

Metromix Detroit

As the Final 4 prepares to touchdown in the dirty D, Detroiters are gearing up tackle the parties which promise big-name celebs, athletes and tons of weekend-long debauchery for sports nuts and nightlife lovers alike.

Detroit Riverfront - Atwater & Beaubein - Riverfront
Daily April 3 through April 5
Three days of free concerts with the AT&T Block Party Friday; Saturday features the Pussycat Dolls and Gavin DeGraw; Sunday hosted by Ryan Seacreast with performances by Fergie, Staind, Gym Class Heroes, Janelle Monae and Parachute

Monroe Street Mayhem

Monroe Street Cafe - 561 Monroe - Greektown
Daily April 3 through April 6
Three days of live music, DJs, food and drink featuring the Dirty Americans Sunday

Andiamo Champions Club - 521 Atwater - Riverfront
April 3 : 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Hosted by Braylon Edwards, Denzell Washington, Isaiah Thomas and Rod Strickland in conjunction with the National Basketball Association, there will be 10 different bars set up, each will have its own theme. Andiamo’s will also provide food all night long

South Beach Ultra Lounge - 3011 W. Grand Boulevard - New Center Area
April 4 : 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Metromix will be puttin’ the full-court press on this Final Four weekend special event, presented by Channel 95.5 FM, Live Presents, Ambassador Magazine and yours truly. For one night only, the luxurious South Beach Ultra Lounge is pushing its boundaries into the entire lobby of the Fisher Building to transform it into the Metromix Dance Hall, complete with a catwalk bikini fashion show, 360˚ full-service bar and DJ stage. Hosting the event are ’06 Playmate of the Year Kara Monaco, Miss February ’09 Jessica Burciaga, Miss June ’07 Tiffany Selby, Miss November ’07 Lindsay Wagner and ’08 Cyber Girl of the Year Jo Garcia. Spinning records and making heads spin will be guest DJ and former Playboy model Kristin Jackson, DJ Kay Jay.

Andiamo Champions Club - 521 Atwater - Riverfront
April 4 : 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Keep the Final 4 spirit alive after the Big Dance on the Riverwalk by joining Vital Productions at the former Asian Village overlooking the waterfront for the Big Dance after party

The 44 Bar - 1407 Randolph - Detroit
April 5 : 8 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Hosted by Detroit's own Kevin Vickerson of the Tennessee Titans with a live performance by L'Renee; confirmed guests include Jason Jones of the Tennessee Titans, Lendale White of the Tennessee Titans, Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans, Royce 5'9", Eric King of Detroit Lions and Howie Bell

Oslo - 1456 Woodward - Downtown Detroit
April 5 : 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Hosted by Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes who'll also be one the 1s and 2s.

NCAA Finals Party

Eclipz Ultra Lounge - 555 E. Lafayette - Greektown
April 6 : 8 p.m.
Network with some of the young entrepreneurs of Detroit while catching the game. DJ Sandman on the decks
The New York Times

IN a city whose name is forever entwined with that of Motown Records, it is tempting to expect to hear songs like “Dancing in the Streets” blaring constantly from speakers on light posts, or to see Eminem or Kid Rock shooting videos on the downtown streets.

But Motown left town a generation ago, leaving behind only the small white house that is home to the Motown Historical Museum. And while Eminem and Kid Rock still live and record there, they keep lower local profiles than their fame might suggest.

But the clubs where they and other Detroit acts got their starts are still very much a part of the city, developing performers who could join the ranks of other famous Detroit artists. Even though the city, and its auto industry, have been hit by hard times that threaten some venerable places, live music endures in the Motor City.

Alex Lovat, 17, was born the year the Magic Stick opened on Woodward Avenue, nestled on an often desolate stretch halfway between downtown and the campus of Wayne State University.

On a recent Monday, Mr. Lovat, a high school senior, was taking a break in a cafe below the second-floor club, to soak up the atmosphere of a spot that presented the White Stripes and the Toadies early in their careers.

“I really like the history of the place,” said Mr. Lovat, who wore vintage purple velvet pants, a brown and beige polyester button-down shirt and round, wire-rimmed sunglasses.

The Stick is a gritty 5,500-square-foot industrial spot that offered its first acts in 1992. It is housed in the Majestic Theater Center, a blocklong entertainment complex with a restaurant that emphasizes Middle Eastern specialties and a bowling alley that is nearly a century old.

For followers of rock as well as folk fans, the Stick is the center of the Detroit club universe. Chris Cervenak, 18, recently saw the Black Lips, a flower-punk band whose sound is described as “hippie meets punk” from Atlanta.

“I just dig the concerts here,” said Mr. Cervenak, a high school senior from Hamtramck, Mich.

While Jack White, half of the White Stripes duo, has since moved to Nashville, the Stick is a frequent showcase for up-and-coming artists, including some trying to broaden their visibility in the United States.

Los Campesinos, the seven-piece pop band from Cardiff, Wales, is set to appear on April 2, while the Glasgow alternative rock band Glasvegas visits the Stick on April 4.

During the N.C.A.A. Final Four men’s basketball tournament, which will take place next month at Ford Field, north of downtown and south of the Magic Stick, the city will hold the Big Dance, not just the name of the showdown, but a three-day festival beginning on April 3.

It will feature a block party, a wrap-up concert hosted by Ryan Seacrest, and acts like the Pussycat Dolls, Gavin DeGraw, Fergie and Staind.

But Detroit’s music scene stretches beyond downtown, and it can be hard to sample without getting behind the wheel.

Forty-five minutes west in Ann Arbor is The Ark , one of the country’s top folk clubs, along with the Michigan Theater , which regularly features artists like Ben Folds and Randy Newman.

Mark Braun, a local pianist known as Mr. B., will perform at The Ark on April 4 and 5, while Chris Cornell, perhaps best known as the lead singer and drummer of Soundgarden, appears at the Michigan on April 14.

Northeast of downtown, Hamtramck, long a working-class Polish-American enclave, is now home to a busy collection of small bars that hold the annual Blowout, a three-day festival in which 200 bands play 15 places. This year’s Blowout, held March 7 to 9, took place in bars like the New Dodge Lounge , which opens at breakfast, serves some of the area’s best burgers and offers a free shuttle to Ford Field.

North of the city sits Ferndale, home to the Magic Bag, a converted theater known for holding retro ’80s parties and presenting a variety of artists, including Lez Zeppelin, an all-women tribute band covering Led Zeppelin songs, which appears on April 3.

But the area’s entertainment center remains Detroit, where live music, poetry slams and big-name acts can be found every night.

St. Andrew’s Hall, a converted church just a few blocks from the Detroit River, made its name in the 1980s and 1990s, featuring bands like Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Cure on its concert floor. Meanwhile, its hip-hop dance floor is known as the spot where the local rapper Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, battled other Detroit-area emcees before breaking onto the national scene. Coming acts at St. Andrew’s include Lily Allen on April 13 with her opening act, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head.

In another direction, geographically and musically, are two clubs with a strong link to Detroit’s jazz past.

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, located on the city’s far west side, calls itself the world’s oldest jazz club, operating since 1934. Named for its founder, Clarence Baker, the club has been home to generations of jazz greats from Fats Waller and John Coltrane to the Detroit natives Tommy Flanagan and Earl Klugh. It will celebrate its 75th anniversary with concerts May 1 to 4, though there are fears that the city’s financial straits may force it to close after that.

For now, the club holds a jazz-for-kids program on Sunday afternoons and open jam sessions with the Noah Jackson Trio on Sunday nights. The Diego Rivera Quartet, whose saxophonist-founder shares his name with the famous Mexican muralist, appears at Baker’s on April 11.

Back downtown, Cliff Bell’s is a small, elegant spot, once the heart of the city’s jazz world, in a building designed by Albert Kahn, architect for many Detroit landmarks. Founded by the local entrepreneur John Clifford Bell in 1935, the club closed in 1985 but was reopened a few years ago by Paul Howard, who relied on photographs for restoration. As close to a Manhattan jazz spot as anything in the city, Bell’s has two long, intimate rooms divided by a double-sided bar, and curved, rich mahogany ceilings hung with chandeliers. Patrons sit beneath vintage photos of the club.

Bell’s emphasizes local acts like the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra, akin to its house band, which is led by one of the city’s best-known jazz educators. The club features poetry readings, attracting a diverse young audience that nearly filled the club on a recent Monday night.

“When the organs work together, it’s called or-gan-i-za-tion,” said the poet Liteshineth, whose fiery cadence elicited shouts of “That’s right!”

“Everybody here is really real, and has a story to tell,” said Kristine Milostan, 22, of Clinton Township, Mich., who, like half the audience, was waiting to perform.

Another Detroit poet, Fluent, 31, wearing a black-and-red-checkered cap, brown jacket and red gym shoes, said the setting at Bell’s was inspirational, especially in a city that has seen such challenges, financially and artistically.

“Detroit has such talent,” he said. “Something about this place — it’s like family.”
Detroit Free Press

Five years and $26.3 million worth of out-of-state tourism promotion has resulted in nearly 5 million new tourists coming to Michigan who spent $1.1 billion and contributed $75.3 million in tax revenue.

That's a return of $2.86 for every $1 spent, pleased state tourism officials reported Tuesday at the Driving Tourism state conference in Detroit.

An independent company, Longwoods International, based in New York, did the analysis of how well the state's marketing is working. The company uses a statistical model that separates people who were influenced by the advertising from those who would have visited anyway. It then analyzes their spending and derives the tax total.

The next step for Pure Michigan was Tuesday's launch of a $10-million national ad campaign, a first for the state.

It is part of a record $30 million being spent on promotion this fiscal year.

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Reverend Al Sharpton are slated to be honored at the 54th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit.

"Aretha Franklin has been honored by many all over the world. Yet there is no award like getting the award and total recognition from those in your own hometown," says Rev. Wendell Anthony, President of Detroit's NAACP chapter.

According to organizers, Franklin will receive the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award during a special dinner slated to be held at Detroit's Cobo Center May 3.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the Brooklyn-based National Action Network and the Rev. Edwin Rowe of the Central Methodist Church Detroit will be honored at the dinner with Freedom and Justice Awards for their contributions in recent years to civil rights and justice.

The dinner also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP. The theme for the event is "Facing the Rising Sun of Our New Day Begun," a line from the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice." The song was penned by Johnson, a poet and civil rights activist.
Erin Rose
Positive Detroit

The Detroit Tiger's are in the midst of a media frenzy over Opening Day 2009 falling on Good Friday.

Roman Catholics are especially upset because the home opener is scheduled during holy hours, with the belief that Jesus was hung on the cross from noon until 3 p.m. The game is schedule to begin at 1:05 p.m. against the Texas Rangers.

Ron Colangelo, Tigers Vice President of Communications, said Major League Baseball has a “monumental task” putting together a season’s schedule. Detroit’s climate makes a night game unrealistic this time of year.

“Fans have come to know that our home opener is always a day game,” states Colangelo.

I personally find all this mayhem to be quite comical, especially after reading this article stating Pontius Pilate should throw out the first pitch. I am looking forward to John Stossel covering this tale during his "Give Me A Break" segment on 20/20.

Below are a couple of points that I would like to make about the fuss being made over Opening Day falling on Good Friday:
  • All 30 American and National League teams play April 10, not just the Detroit Tigers.
  • We are currently living in The United States of America during the 21st Century, not in a 16th Century European Papal State.
  • Our President is Barrack Obama, not Pope Benedict the 16th.
  • Religious Freedom is one of the foundations of our Country. We are a melting pot of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, and Atheists. We set our clocks by National Holidays, not Religious Holidays.
  • Good Friday is not Easter Sunday.
  • And my personal fave, Jim Leyland's brother Tom is a priest.
Yes, I am a huge Tiger's Fan and have absolutely no issue whatsoever about this year's season opener. I would also like to note that I was raised Catholic and attended 13 years of Catholic School. My great-aunt is a Catholic Nun.

There are bigger things going on in the world and Detroit that we should focus on and be concerned with. The Detroit Tiger's Opening Day falling on Good Friday is not one of them.

I'll go ahead and take the liberty to state the obvious here: The Detroit Tiger's Season Opener is a great thing for Detroit no matter what day it falls on.
Although traditionally closed on Easter, Olga’s Kitchen will be open at 17 locations on Easter Sunday to serve loyal fans and help our community.

Olga’s Kitchen will donate to Gleaners Community Food Bank 20% of the net proceeds from the business on Easter Sunday. For every $1 raised at Olga’s Kitchen on Easter Sunday Gleaners will be able to provide 3 meals.

“We are building on our commitment to help our community”, said Matt Carpenter, President & CEO, Olga’s Kitchen. “Beginning with providing a free OriginalÒ Olga on April 8-10 to anyone presenting their used Jan Leno ticket stub, to our support of Gleaners Community Food Bank from our Easter Day proceeds, we are committed to make a difference in our home state.

As a Michigan based business with almost 30 years of serving Michiganders, we have a great interest in making sure that food banks such as Gleaners are able to properly feed the people of our state during these difficult times.”

Gerry Brisson, Senior Vice President of Advancement, Gleaners Community Food Bank, said “With more people seeking emergency food than ever before, we are grateful to Olga’s for their generous efforts. On behalf of the children, seniors, families and individuals who need help, thank you so much to everyone who enjoys Olga’s this Easter! You are truly making a difference.”

Olga’s Kitchen will be open on Easter from 11am-6pm on Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 17 locations throughout Michigan including:

Allen Park – Fairlane Green

Ann Arbor – Plymouth Green Crossing

Auburn Hills – Squirrel & Walton Rds.

Birmingham – Old Woodward South of Maple Rd.

Bloomfield Township – Telegraph North of Square Lake Rd.

Brighton – West Grand River at Challis

Clinton Township – Garfield & 19 Mile Rds.

Dearborn Heights – The Heights Shopping Center

East Grand Rapids- Gaslight Village, Wealthy & Bagley Streets

Lansing – Frandor Shopping Center

Lathrup Village – Twelve Mile & Southfield Rds.

Novi – Grand River & Beck Rd.

St Clair Shores – Harper at 9 1/2 Mile Rd.

Sterling Heights – Van Dyke at 14 1/2 Mile Rd.

Troy – Big Beaver and John R. Rds.

West Bloomfield – Orchard Lake & Maple Rds.

Woodhaven – Allen & West Rds.

Detroit Connection: Glenn Frey of The Eagles


The Eagles played at The Palace over the weekend, luring fans from far and wide. While the band was formed in southern California back in 1971, Detroit is hometown to one of the band’s long-time members: Glenn Frey.

Frey was born and raised in Royal Oak. At Dondero High School, Frey wrestled, attended “gifted” classes and learned to play the piano and guitar. He was also voted “most likely to inhale” by his classmates.

Even so, Frey managed to form several bands while in high school and college in the 1960s, including the Disciples, the Hideouts (after a local club), The Subterraneans, The Mushrooms, The Four of Us and Heavy Metal Kids.

It was through The Mushrooms in 1966 that Frey cut his first single, Such a Lovely Child. The song was co-written by Bob Seger. The Michigan chapter of Frey’s music career ended in the late 1960s when he moved out west. The rest, as they say, is history….
Associated Press

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods and new homes sales both rose unexpectedly in February.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for durable goods — manufactured products expected to last at least three years — increased 3.4 percent last month, much better than the 2 percent fall economists expected.

The department also reported that new home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 337,000 from an upwardly revised January figure of 322,000.

Last month's strength in durable goods orders was led by a surge in orders for military aircraft and parts, which shot up 32.4 percent. Demand for machinery, computers and fabricated metal products also rose.

Orders for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation sector rose 3.9 percent last month, easily beating the 2-percent drop that economists expected.

In areas of strength, orders for heavy machinery surged 13.5 percent in February, demand for computers rose 10.1 percent and orders for fabricated metal products edged up 1.5 percent.
Jake Sigal is 27 now, so you can't exactly call him a tech prodigy any more.

Still, the young man behind the Ion USB turntable and Delphi's coolest XM Radio products is back -- with his own company and his own very cool gizmo.

Sigal called GLITR Thursday from Hong Kong, where he was wrapping up a series of meetings with the developers and build partners involved in his latest device, the Ira.

That's an acronym for Internet Radio Adapter, and that's precisely what the device is.

What does the device do?
"If you have wireless Internet and a home stereo or boombox, you can get access to over 14,000 radio stations and podcasts from all over the world, from anywhere in the world, and the thing sets itself up in two minutes, automatically, without any computer needed and without any subscriptions," Sigal said.

The product was intentionally designed simply, without some extra bells and whistles that Sigal said a techmeister like himself might actually have liked.
That's the mantra for Sigal's Ferndale-based Myine Audio: "Get less." Sigal said it's meant to appeal to "people of any technological sophistication, any education level, any age."

The device has a suggested retail of $149 and is available now on the Myine Audio site and Amazon.com. Sigal is expecting it to be available at the usual retail behemoths in time for the holidays.

Sigal added: "You're already paying 60 bucks a month (for Internet access). Why not get all that music, sports and talk you're already paying for?"

So how do you navigate through that huge list of 14,000 audio streams? Sigal said Ira searches -- by music genre, keyword, location, radio station call letters, etc. -- to get you where you want to go. The device also comes standard with all cables needed for a hookup to any audio system or boombox.

And its internal list of Internet audio streams is automatically updated over the Web, transparent to the user.

Sigal said Myine now employs four people in Ferndale, and plans on hiring two more within the next month and four more before the end of the year.

Sigal is a Columbus, Ohio native who went to Ohio University. From there he went to Cumberland, R.I.-based Ion Audio, where he invented the USB turntable and a few other products. Then he had the chance to go to Delphi Corp. in 2006 as product manager for XM satellite radio.

In January 2008, he and partner Massino Baldini, business line manager of XM for Delphi, started Myine.

"I had the opportunity to move to LA or the Bay area, but I found Michigan just had a lot to offer -- it's very affordable, and my wife and I are really happy with the Ferndale community," Sigal said.

He's been able to grab electronics talent from the auto industry, folks willing to trade stock for salary.

To request more information on the Ira Wireless Internet Radio or other products from Myine Electronics, contact PR representative Jenny Coleman at (305) 576-1171 x24 or jennycoleman@maxborgesagency.com.
Earth Hour 2009 is taking off in a big way, globally and locally.

It's a one-hour voluntary statement of concern for climate change sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund in which supporters turn off all non-essential lights for one hour -- between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.

Cate Blanchett's on board.

And so is Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr.

The Great Pyramids of Gaza in Egypt, New York City's Rockefeller Center, and the Acropolis in Athens, Greece will go dark.

So will The Emory in Ferndale.

This gesture may seem minor in the larger scheme of icebergs-melting, species-disappearing things. But gestures can add up.

And with 190 U.S. cities getting on board, it is symbolic gestures that maybe, just maybe, will grab the attention of the masses.

So, turn off your TV, your bathroom light, and that one you never shut off in the basement. Let your eyes adjust to that crazy thing called the dark.

See? It's not that scary!

Ann Arbor, Dearborn Heights, Detroit and Ferndale might be a little less bright on Friday night, but as participating cities, they are leading the way in promoting conversation about energy usage.

If you feel like celebrating the world's largest climate event ever, head to The Emory, where dollar-off drinks and candlelight will mark the occasion.

Source: Jennifer Harlan, The Night Move
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Detroit: City on the Move (1965 Video)

Joe Vicari, President and CEO of Andiamo Restaurant Group, has announced the opening of the Andiamo Champions Club on April 3, 4, 5, and 6th, 2009 during the NCAA Championships.

The Club will be open on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Noon-2am and on the 6th from 3pm-2am.

Mike Nowinski, general manager of Andiamo Riverfront, said, “The Andiamo Champions Club, in partnership with Bacardi, Budweiser, and Coca Cola will become the perfect headquarters for food and beverages as guests enjoy the Big Dance across the street, a free concert series with national recording artists on the Detroit Riverfront.”

The Andiamo Champions Club will provide complimentary admission with live entertainment. There will be nightly drink specials and a bar menu. And to make sure that sports fans don’t miss the action, there will be live HD broadcasts of the NCAA Tournament.

The Andiamo Champions Club will be located at Beaubien Place next to the Renaissance Center, the site of the former Asian Village.

For additional information please call 313-567-6700 or check the website at http://www.andiamoitalia.com/.
The Metro Detroit Buick Pontiac GMC Dealers are giving away 1000 tickets to the March Basketball games in Detroit!

All you have to do is visit one of the participating dealerships located on the map below and register by MARCH 27th!

Four® Ticket Official Rules


Open to Michigan and Ohio residents who are 18 years of age or older with a valid drivers license at time of entry. Employees, officers and directors of Metro Detroit Buick Pontiac GMC Dealers (“Sponsor”) and General Motors dealerships, The NCAA, The Barber Shop Marketing (“Administrator”) and their respective divisions, affiliates, subsidiaries and agents, and any others engaged in the development, production or distribution of promotional materials or prizes for this Promotion, and members of the immediate families or households of any of the above are not eligible to enter or win. This Promotion is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

Complete the required fields on the electronic entry form at any participating Buick Pontiac GMC Dealership (listed below) between March 2, 2009 and March 27, 2009, during dealers’ regular business hours (“Promotional Period”). Limit one (1) entry per person. Multiple entries will be disqualified.

A total of four hundred seventy five (475) Grand prizes (see description below) will be randomly selected by the Administrator from all valid entries at each dealership on or about March 29, 2009. Number of winners per dealership varies (see list below). Potential winners will be notified by phone and must claim winner status within 24 hours, or prize will be forfeit and an alternate will be selected, time permitting. If the winner can not attend the game day he/she is awarded, they will forfeit their prize and an alternate will be selected, time permitting. Potential winners must then complete and submit an Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability and Publicity Release form (where permissible) to the Administrator within 48 hours or the prize will be forfeited and an alternate will be selected, time permitting.

Click Here For Participating Pontiac GMC Dealerships or Contact Steve Batman Gotham at Somerset Pontiac in Troy for all your Pontiac and GMC needs:
Direct Line: 248-614-3667
Email: gotham@somersetpontiacgmc.com
On April 1, at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Phil will give a presentation at Music Hall, 350 Madison in Detroit; on April 2 at 2 p.m., he'll take part in a town hall-type discussion at I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries, 1435 Brainard Street in Detroit. Later, at 8 p.m., he'll be at the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor for a program priced at $75 (Can.) a ticket.

Individuals and groups can compete for tickets to the Music Hall appearance by e-mailing WWJ-TV and telling why they want to hear Dr. Phil. To enter the ticket giveaway, visit www.wwjtv.com and complete the request.

Admission to the town hall program will be first-come, first-served. Award-winning author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom will moderate the discussion. For information, call 313-974-9227 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Dr. Phil learned about Pastor Henry Covington and I Am My Brother's Keeper when he read a recent Sports Illustrated article Albom wrote called "The Courage of Detroit." Both programs will be filmed for future broadcasts.

For ticket information about the casino appearance, visit www.caesarswindsor.com.

Locally, Dr. Phil's show airs at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on WWJ-TV (Channel 62).

New York Times

RECENTLY, at a dinner party, a friend mentioned that he’d never seen so many outsiders moving into town.

This struck me as a highly suspect statement. After all, we were talking about Detroit, home of corrupt former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, beleaguered General Motors and the 0-16 Lions. Compared with other cities’ buzzing, glittering skylines, ours sits largely abandoned, like some hulking beehive devastated by colony collapse. Who on earth would move here?

Then again, I myself had moved to Detroit, from Brooklyn. For $100,000, I bought a town house that sits downtown in the largest and arguably the most beautiful Mies van der Rohe development ever built, an island of perfect modernism forgotten by the rest of the world.

Two other guests that night, a couple in from Chicago, had also just invested in some Detroit real estate. That weekend Jon and Sara Brumit bought a house for $100.

Ah, the mythical $100 home. We hear about these low-priced “opportunities” in down-on-their-luck cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland, but we never meet anyone who has taken the plunge. Understandable really, for if they were actually worth anything then they would cost real money, right? Who would do such a preposterous thing?

A local couple, Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, started the ball rolling. An artist and an architect, they recently became the proud owners of a one-bedroom house in East Detroit for just $1,900. Buying it wasn’t the craziest idea. The neighborhood is almost, sort of, half-decent. Yes, the occasional crack addict still commutes in from the suburbs but a large, stable Bangladeshi community has also been moving in.

So what did $1,900 buy? The run-down bungalow had already been stripped of its appliances and wiring by the city’s voracious scrappers. But for Mitch that only added to its appeal, because he now had the opportunity to renovate it with solar heating, solar electricity and low-cost, high-efficiency appliances.

Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.

Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.

Now, three homes and a garden may not sound like much, but others have been quick to see the potential. A group of architects and city planners in Amsterdam started a project called the “Detroit Unreal Estate Agency” and, with Mitch’s help, found a property around the corner. The director of a Dutch museum, Van Abbemuseum, has called it “a new way of shaping the urban environment.” He’s particularly intrigued by the luxury of artists having little to no housing costs. Like the unemployed Chinese factory workers flowing en masse back to their villages, artists in today’s economy need somewhere to flee.

But the city offers a much greater attraction for artists than $100 houses. Detroit right now is just this vast, enormous canvas where anything imaginable can be accomplished. From Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project (think of a neighborhood covered in shoes and stuffed animals and you’re close) to Matthew Barney’s “Ancient Evenings” project (think Egyptian gods reincarnated as Ford Mustangs and you’re kind of close), local and international artists are already leveraging Detroit’s complex textures and landscapes to their own surreal ends.

In a way, a strange, new American dream can be found here, amid the crumbling, semi-majestic ruins of a half-century’s industrial decline. The good news is that, almost magically, dreamers are already showing up. Mitch and Gina have already been approached by some Germans who want to build a giant two-story-tall beehive. Mitch thinks he knows just the spot for it.

Writer Toby Barlow is the author of “Sharp Teeth.”

Michigan Could Be Home To Maglev Superhighway


Lawmakers in Michigan are considering plans to build a high-speed, hydrogen-powered maglev rail line that would carry people between Detroit and Lansing using specially built cars, buses, and trucks.

The project would be funded entirely by the private sector, and according to the company that designed it, provide a variety of economic and environmental benefits to the state.

Supports of the program say it's a chance for Michigan to take a leadership role in an emerging industry, while critics argue it is an expensive distraction.

Known as the Interstate Traveler Hydrogen Super Highway, the program is nothing if not ambitious. Stainless steel tracks would run alongside and above the stretch of Interstate 96 that connects Detroit and Lansing, accommodating a wide range of vehicles built by the Big Three and capable of traveling up to 200 mph. Passengers would board and alight from traveler stations built at each freeway interchange, and rail-mounted solar cells would fuel hydrogen batteries that power the system's magnetic field.

Interstate Traveler Company LLC, the company that designed the system, says the Superhighway will not only move people across the state fast, but will spin off enough surplus energy to power municipal sewer and water, communication, and security systems, and its tracks can be used to house conduit clusters of utility lines and fiber optic cables.

Making this system a reality won't come cheap. The company estimates construction costs of $15 million per mile, but says private investors will put up the entire $2 billion required for the Detroit-Lansing line. That seems to have Michigan lawmakers chomping at the bit.

"This innovative rail system has tremendous potential for Michigan residents, and could be a major catalyst to strengthen our economy and create jobs," said Rep. Bill Rogers, who leads the task force studying the project. "Just as Michigan was the birthplace of the world's first mile of concrete roadway, our state could usher in a new era of transportation with just as much impact as the automobile."

Not so fast, say detractors, who question the wisdom of launching an unproven program in the current economic environment. The Conservative Media, a blog that covers Michigan politics, points out that the maglev project is being discussed at the same time other state public transportation projects are being starved of investment, and TreeHugger wonders if Michigan might not be better off with a more cost-effective, easier to deploy high speed iron wheel line.

But Interstate Traveler says that its superhighway, once deployed alongside all 54,000 miles of the Eisenhower Interstate System, will do much more than solve America's transportation problems. Building a national network, the company says, will require something in the neighborhood of 750 million tons of American made steel, singlehandedly saving that industry.

Staffing the network's traveler stations and associated businesses would create 2.1 million "livable wage" jobs, and the whole enterprise would generate a carbon offset value that exceeds $650 million.

Justin Sutton, the head of Interstate Traveler, says work on the Detroit-Lansing line could begin as early as mid-2010. While we like his vision, we're betting it's going to take longer than that.