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, 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., 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. 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 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 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.

Why Are The Car Guys Smiling?

Joann Muller

For 44 years, the automotive glitterati has converged on this bucolic resort town (Traverse City) on the northern shore of Lake Michigan, with its sandy beaches, world-class golf courses and numerous wineries lining the Tuscany-like countryside.

One might expect the mood at this year's confab to be a bit dour, given that two of America's three carmakers just exited bankruptcy and numerous parts suppliers are hanging on by their fingernails.

Certainly, attendance is way down with 650 registered attendees vs. 1,000 last year and about 1,300 during the industry's peak years in the late 1990s. Unlike previous sessions there was plenty of elbow room at the bar during the evening social hour.

But oddly, Detroit's mood seems to be on the upswing.

"I feel like we're moving from, 'What in the world are we going to do?' to 'We can do this,'" said David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, which sponsors the annual conference. "This is going to be a far more competitive industry than anyone imagined. People who have been writing this industry off are going to be in for a big surprise."

Cole would say that--he's the son of a former General Motors president and one of the industry's biggest cheerleaders. And auto company executives are, at heart, car salesmen--they always see better days ahead.

Still, there's no mistaking the survivor mentality taking hold in Detroit. The worst is over, and now it's time to pick up the pieces.

"I feel like it's the opportunity of a lifetime," said Thomas G. Stephens, vice chairman of global product development at General Motors, which used bankruptcy to shed billions in liabilities and lower its break-even point (on an EBIT basis) to an industry sales rate of 10 million vehicles per year. "If you can break even at 10 million units, and the replacement rate is 12 million, that bodes very well for the business."

For industry suppliers that feed off the automakers, there's also a feeling of relief now that the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies are behind them. "A lot of us were holding our breaths," said Prabhakar Patil, chief executive of Compact Power, which is supplying the battery for GM's upcoming Chevy Volt plug-in car. "That could have been a real mess," he said.

"There has been a lot of pain for families and for investors," he adds. "But the adjustment was required, and the manner and speed in which it was handled by the government puts us in a good position for the future."

The government's newfound interest in the auto industry--and in advancing cleaner alternative fuel technologies--also has a positive side, said Patil. "There was no way for some of these technologies to come to market by sheer market forces," he said, pointing out the enormous investment costs required. "No manufacturer is strong enough to bring these technologies to market on their own."

It certainly helped that the Department of Energy on Wednesday doled out $2.4 billion in federal money to automakers and their suppliers to establish battery manufacturing facilities, $1.3 billion of it in Michigan.

"Our economic table has been balanced on one leg," said Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has been working to diversify the state's economy. "That's an unstable table. We need to make it stable with more legs."

Olga’s Kitchen will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its newly remodeled restaurant at the Old Orchard Plaza, 6655 Orchard Lake Rd., just South of Maple, in West Bloomfield, by offering 25 cent specials on two of their most popular signature menu items on Saturday, August 8, 2009 from 10:30am – 10 pm.

The celebration begins with the first 25 parties/tables in line eating FREE. (Up to a $25 value per party)

The Anniversary celebration will include entertainment for kids including magic, and balloon sculptures from 10:30am to 4pm. Guests can enter to win $25 Olga’s Kitchen Gift Cards as well as a chance at the Grand Prize – Eat FREE for a year at Olga’s Kitchen ($300 value).

In addition, there will be sampling throughout the day of some of Olga’s Kitchen’s menu items, including Suncoast Smoothies, individually blended fresh fruit smoothies, being introduced at the Orchard Plaza location.

For only 25 cents, guests will be able to enjoy an Original Olga sandwich and the Orange Cream Cooler. Both of these specials are available for dine-in only.
Classic rock tribute bands, The Who Show and The Rock Show will co-headline the third concert in the 2009 Rockin’ on the Riverfront classic rock series on Friday, Aug. 7 from 8 – 10:30 p.m. The 2009 concert series sponsor is Andiamo Detroit Riverfront, in partnership with Detroit’s Classic Rock Station 94.7 WCSX-FM.

The Rock Show is a Midland, Mich.-based tribute band that plays the hits of the iconic classic rock band, Journey. The band’s high-energy show – fittingly named “Don’t Stop Believing” – has won over Journey fans across the state. Expect to hear a tribute to all of Journey’s many hits from “Wheel In The Sky” to “Any Way You Want It” and “Open Arms”.

With note for note musical renditions, authentic costumes and vintage instruments, The Who Show will recreate a Who concert experience from the 1970s right on Riverfront Plaza. From classic hits such as “Teenage Wasteland” and “Pinball Wizard”, The Who Show has been thrilling audiences across the nation for more than a decade. VH1 has even noted the band as the “Most Believable 1970s Era Who Tribute”.

Rockin’ on the Riverfront will continue to feature classic rock headliners and openers every Friday through September 4, making the Riverfront Plaza the Friday night destination for food, fun and FREE concerts.

Upcoming Rockin’ on the Riverfront concerts include:

August 14 – Rare Earth original lead singer Peter Rivera, Iron Butterfly and Blues Image lead singer Mike Pinera, Sugarloaf original lead singer Jerry Corbetta and Novi, Mich. bass player Larry Prentiss, touring as the Classic Rock All Stars.
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.

Rockin’ on the Riverfront sponsors include Bridgestone, Fathead, Quicken Loans, Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, MediLodge, Motor City Harley-Davidson, Pepsi, SKYY Vodka and 94.7 WCSX-FM.

For more information, call (313) 567-6700 or visit or
Summertime in Detroit still means making the most of your free time and soaking up Detroit culture with family and friends in the process.

How about hitting The Henry Ford Museum before the ultra-cool exhibit Rock Stars, Cars and Guitars closes on Sept. 7; or upping your culture cred with a concert by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in September? (FYI, single tickets for the DSO in September just went on sale this week).

Thanks to two just-released incentives from American Express, it’s possible to secure some summer fun (at a discount!) and earn coveted frequent flier miles on Delta Air Lines faster than ever, redeemable for vacations later.

Here’s a quick summary of what American Express rolled out August 1 for its Delta SkyMiles Credit Card holders:

Discounted entry at Detroit-area attractions. From August 1 to June 30, 2010, Delta SkyMiles Cardmembers can take advantage of special offers at popular Detroit destinations, including Buy 1, Get 1 Free tickets at The Henry Ford Museum (up to four) and 20 percent off Detroit Symphony Orchestra tickets (up to four). Extra bonus: Cardmembers will also earn frequent flier miles on their ticket purchases in the process.

How to redeem: For The Henry Ford Museum, the Cardmember must present coupon received in the mail from American Express in order to redeem Buy 1, Get 1 Free discount. To redeem the DSO discount, Cardmembers must present their Card at the theater’s box office to pay for tickets or go online and use the code: AMEXDELTA at

How to redeem: Visit or call 1-800-794-1308 and enter the promotional code 148790001. There is no cost to enroll.

Not a cardmember yet? No worries. Consumers who are applying and are approved for the Delta SkyMiles Card from August 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009 can also enroll their card to take advantage of the promotion.

Mark Dowie

Detroit has zero produce-carrying grocery chains. It also has open land, fertile soil, ample water, and the ingredients to reinvent itself from Motor City to urban farm. Mark Dowie’s immodest proposal...

Were I an aspiring farmer in search of fertile land to buy and plow, I would seriously consider moving to Detroit. There is open land, fertile soil, ample water, willing labor, and a desperate demand for decent food. And there is plenty of community will behind the idea of turning the capital of American industry into an agrarian paradise. In fact, of all the cities in the world, Detroit may be best positioned to become the world’s first one hundred percent food self-sufficient city.

Not so long ago, there were five produce-carrying grocery chains—Kroger, A&P, Farmer Jack, Wrigley, and Meijer—competing vigorously for the Detroit food market. Today there are none. Nor is there a single WalMart or Costco in the city. Specialty grocer Trader Joe’s just turned down an attractive offer to open an outlet in midtown Detroit. There is a fabulous once-a-week market, the largest of its kind in the country, on the east side that offers a wide array of fresh meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. So despite the Eastern Market, in-city Detroiters are still left with the challenge of finding new ways to feed themselves a healthy meal.

One obvious solution is to grow their own, and the urban backyard garden boom that is sweeping the nation has caught hold in Detroit, particularly in neighborhoods recently settled by immigrants from agrarian cultures of Laos and Bangladesh, who are almost certain to become major players in an agrarian Detroit. Add to that the five hundred or so twenty-by-twenty-foot community plots and a handful of three- to ten-acre farms cultured by church and non-profit groups, and during its four-month growing season, Detroit is producing somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of its food supply inside city limits—more than most American cities, but nowhere near enough to allay the food desert problem. About 3 percent of the groceries sold at the Eastern Market are homegrown; the rest are brought into Detroit by a handful of peri-urban farmers and about one hundred and fifty freelance food dealers who buy their produce from Michigan farms between thirty and one hundred miles from the city and truck it into the market.

There are a few cities in the world that grow and provide about half their total food supply within their urban and peri-urban regions—Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Havana, Cuba; Hanoi, Vietnam; Dakar, Senegal; Rosario, Argentina; Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines; and, my personal favorite, Cuenca, Equador—all of which have much longer growing seasons than Detroit. However, those cities evolved that way, almost unintentionally. They are, in fact, about where Detroit was agriculturally around one hundred and fifty years ago. Half of them will almost surely drop under 50 percent sufficiency within the next two decades as industry subsumes cultivated land to build factories (à la China). Because of its unique situation, Detroit could come close to being 100 percent self-sufficient.

First, the city lies on one hundred and forty square miles of former farmland. Manhattan, Boston, and San Francisco could be placed inside the borders of Detroit with room to spare, and the population is about the same as the smallest of those cities, San Francisco: eight hundred thousand. And that number is still declining from a high of two million in the mid-nineteen fifties. Demographers expect Detroit’s population to level off somewhere between five hundred thousand and six hundred thousand by 2025. Right now there is about forty square miles of unoccupied open land in the city, the area of San Francisco, and that landmass could be doubled by moving a few thousand people out of hazardous firetraps into affordable housing in the eight villages. As I drove around the city, I saw many full-sized blocks with one, two, or three houses on them, many already burned out and abandoned. The ones that weren’t would make splendid farmhouses.

Even without local production the food industry creates three dollars of job growth for every dollar spent on food—a larger multiplier effect than almost any other product or industry. Farm a city and that figure jumps over five dollars.

As Detroit was built on rich agricultural land, the soil beneath the city is fertile and arable. Certainly some of it is contaminated with the wastes of heavy industry, but not so badly that it’s beyond remediation. In fact, phyto-remediation, using certain plants to remove toxic chemicals permanently from the soil, is already practiced in parts of the city. And some of the plants used for remediation can be readily converted to biofuels. Others can be safely fed to livestock.

Leading the way in Detroit’s soil remediation is Malik Yakini, owner of the Black Star Community Book Store and founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. Yakini and his colleagues begin the remediation process by removing abandoned house foundations and toxic debris from vacated industrial sites. Often that is all that need be done to begin farming. Throw a little compost on the ground, turn it in, sow some seeds, and water it. Water in Detroit is remarkably clean and plentiful.

Although Detroiters have been growing produce in the city since its days as an eighteenth-century French trading outpost, urban farming was given a major boost in the nineteen eighties by a network of African-American elders calling themselves the “Gardening Angels.” As migrants from the rural South, where many had worked as small farmers and field hands, they brought agrarian skills to vacant lots and abandoned industrial sites of the city, and set out to reconnect their descendants, children of asphalt, to the Earth, and teach them that useful work doesn’t necessarily mean getting a job in a factory.

Thirty years later, Detroit has an eclectic mix of agricultural systems, ranging from three-foot window boxes growing a few heads of lettuce to a large-scale farm run by The Catherine Ferguson Academy, a home and school for pregnant girls that not only produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but also raises chickens, geese, ducks, bees, rabbits, and milk goats.

Across town, Capuchin Brother Rick Samyn manages a garden that not only provides fresh fruits and vegetables to city soup kitchens, but also education to neighborhood children. There are about eighty smaller community gardens scattered about the city, more and more of them raising farm animals alongside the veggies. At the moment, domestic livestock is forbidden in the city, as are beehives. But the ordinance against them is generally ignored and the mayor’s office assures me that repeal of the bans are imminent.

About five hundred small plots have been created by an international organization called Urban Farming, founded by acclaimed songwriter Taja Sevelle. Realizing that Detroit was the most agriculturally promising of the fourteen cities in five countries where Urban Farming now exists, Sevelle moved herself and her organization’s headquarters there last year. Her goal is to triple the amount of land under cultivation in Detroit every year. All food grown by Urban Farming is given free to the poor. According to Urban Farming’s Detroit manager, Michael Travis, that won’t change.

Larger scale, for-profit farming is also on the drawing board. Financial services entrepreneur John Hantz has asked the city to let him farm a seventy-acre parcel he owns close to the Eastern Market. If that is approved and succeeds in producing food for the market, and profit for Hantz Farms, Hantz hopes to create more large-scale commercial farms around the city. Not everyone in Detroit’s agricultural community is happy with the scale or intentions of Hantz’s vision, but it seems certain to become part of the mix.

Any agro-economist will tell you that urban farming creates jobs. Even without local production, the food industry creates three dollars of job growth for every dollar spent on food—a larger multiplier effect than almost any other product or industry. Farm a city, and that figure jumps over five dollars. To a community with persistent two-digit unemployment, that number is manna. But that’s only one economic advantage of farming a city.

The average food product purchased in a U.S. chain store has traveled thirteen hundred miles, and about half of it has spoiled en route, despite the fact that it was bioengineered to withstand transport. The total mileage in a three-course American meal approaches twenty-five thousand. The food seems fresh because it has been refrigerated in transit, adding great expense and a huge carbon footprint to each item, and subtracting most of the minerals and vitamins that would still be there were the food grown close by.

Detroit now offers America a perfect place to redefine urban economics, moving away from the totally paved, heavy-industrial factory-town model to a resilient, holistic, economically diverse, self-sufficient, intensely green, rural/urban community—and in doing so become the first modern American city where agriculture, while perhaps not the largest, is the most vital industry.
Royal Oak Mirror

The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce has challenged other Woodward Avenue Chambers - Berkley, Royal Oak, Ferndale and Birmingham/Bloomfield — to see which can bring in the most blood donations for the American Red Cross during Dream Cruise week.

Donor sites are as follow:

The Ferndale Chamber blood drive will be from 1-7 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Ferndale Public Library, now located at 642 E. Nine Mile.

Berkley/Royal Oak will be having a joint blood drive from 1-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Berkley Donor Center, 21805 Woodward.

The Birmingham/Bloomfield Chamber drive will be from 1-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the Holiday Inn Express, 35270 Woodward Avenue.

Register at and enter the sponsor code chamberchallenge. Online registration is encouraged in order for the Red Cross to staff properly. Appointments will receive first priority.

Prizes will be awarded.
Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

It started with a family recipe.

Michael McClure, of McClure’s Pickles in Troy, explained that the pickle recipe came from the grandmother of his wife, Jenny.

“We’ve been making them in our family kitchens for 37 years,” he said. “Our sons, Robert and Joe, grew up watching us make these, then helping us (to) make these.”

He explained that the pickles were a big hit with the boys’ friends as they were growing up.

“I also gave them away for Christmas gifts,’ Michael said.

Robert and Joe were after their parents to go into business with the pickles for years, but Michael, who worked in sales and marketing, resisted.

“I didn’t want to work that hard,” he said.

But about three years ago, the younger McClures designed a Web site, completed coursework at Cornell University in acidic food processing and earned Michigan ServSafe certification, and McClure’s Pickles was born.

Using Michigan cucumbers whenever possible, flowering dill from Ontario, Canada, and California-grown garlic, McClure’s makes two varieties of pickles: spicy, and garlic and dill. The company also creates the same two varieties of relish.

The pickles received rave reviews in the July issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Ruth Altchek of Martha Stewart Living writes, “It’s rare to find a line of prepared foods in which every item is delicious. The family-run company’s two varieties of pickles and relish … and its pair of multi-grain mustards incorporating beers from Michigan and New York, are all perfectly seasoned and textured.”

Christine Albano of Martha Stewart Living states in a letter to the McClures, “We loved them and know our readers will too.”

McClure’s was also featured in a story about a flea market on the Brooklyn Bridge that appeared in The New York Times, and in Bon Appetit magazine in March.

Michael explained that Robert is based in Brooklyn, where he is an actor and “some product” is made, and Michael has established McClure’s in that area.

At present, all jars of pickles and relish are hand-packed. The pickles are produced with a heat process, which allows the jars to remain un-refrigerated until they are opened. The labels are printed on recycled paper with wind-powered presses, and the company recycles cardboard boxes.

The McClures plan to expand the product line to include mustard and ketchup locally.

When the pickles are gone, keep what’s left in the jar, Michael said.

“Put anything you like — beets, hard-cooked eggs, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, carrots — in the brine for 10 days. Or mix the brine with tomato juice for Bloody Mary mix.”
Jonathan Oosting

Vice President Joe Biden will appear with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Wednesday in Detroit to discuss the the Obama administration's handling of the $787-billion economic stimulus package and announce the first round of federal research grants.

"He will discuss how we build a new economic foundation strong enough to withstand future economic storms and support lasting prosperity, and how we recapture the spirit of innovation that has always moved America forward," the White House said, via the Detroit News.

Auto officials told the News that Biden plans to announce the first round of funding from the $2 billion battery grant program, part of the $787 billion stimulus package approved in February.

Biden will speak from NextEnergy at 461 Burroughs St., where tickets will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m.

NextEnergy is a Detroit-based nonprofit organization "with a mission to become one of the nation's leading catalysts for alternative and renewable energy," according to the company's Web site.

As a salute to the many past community contributions of the Big Three automakers and to rally support, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Arts, Beats & Eats – Festival of Hope organizers today announced Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. will receive complimentary exhibit space and sponsorship benefits during the festival.

“This was the least we could do to support and honor the millions of dollars the Big Three automakers have given back to the community,” Patterson said. “Economic conditions have reduced the number of civic initiatives our automakers are able to support and we want to thank them, especially Chrysler, the official sponsor of our last 12 events, for making the event possible for all of these years.”

Valued at $50,000 each, the automakers will receive a 3,500 square-foot exhibit space, which is large enough to display vehicles. They also will receive significant signage space, logo placement on entrance treatments and sponsor towers, and a major presence on the festival’s Web site as well as mentions in festival advertising.

Additionally, there will be a Big Three Music Stage, which will serve as a tribute to local Detroit-area musicians. Messages about “Buy from the Big Three, Support Detroit” will be broadcast throughout the festival.
Do the math: 500 Miles, 50 Hours, 50 Charities and $1 Million. It all adds up to an exciting celebration of Art Van Furniture's 50th Anniversary, dubbed the "Million Dollar Charity Challenge."

Chairman and Founder Art Van Elslander announced the organizations from the Metro Detroit area who will receive these grants during a reception this morning at the Art Van Furniture store in Warren, Michigan. This was the first of five events around the State, where selected charities are awarded grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 each. The organizations are Michigan-based 501(c)3 non-profits who focus on children, health and human services programs.

"If you are fortunate enough to be as successful as we have been, then I believe it is your responsibility to give back," said Mr. Van Elslander, "The Million Dollar Charity Challenge will benefit 50 remarkable and deserving organizations to help them continue their outstanding work and improve the lives of people across our state. We designed these grants as challenge gifts in order to encourage others to donate and maximize fundraising opportunities."

Maria’s Bridal in Rochester will give away 20 designer wedding gowns for free Sunday.

The gowns, valued at between $1,000 and $3,000, will go to the first 20 unemployed brides-to-be in line who can produce a Michigan Unemployment Insurance Debit Card. Others may receive a gift certificate that can be used during the event.

Wedding gowns will be offered in sizes six to 14 by designers such as Cymbaline Paris, Marisa, Maggie Sottero, Symphony Bridal and more.

The event starts at 10 a.m. and runs to 5 p.m.

Maria's Bridal Salon is located at 210 West University Drive in Rochester (at the corner of West University and Pine).

Project 100, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to encourage the positive aspects of giving and community participation, announced that over the next 100 days, they will be randomly selecting 100 people who will each receive $100 dollars no strings attached.

“We believe that the act of giving changes everything,” says Jeremy Cybulski, a Project 100 spokesperson, “That’s why over the next 100 days, Project 100 will be visiting various Oakland and Wayne county communities and giving away crisp new $100 dollar bills.”

The organization assures there are no requirements and no strings attached. Jeremy states, “Recipients can do whatever they wish with the money. All we ask is that they think about what they can do to give back to their community — whether it’s volunteering for an event or helping out a neighbor in need. The specific act doesn’t matter because even the smallest act of kindness can create a spark for change.”

Project 100 is encouraging members of the community to visit their website,, where they can sign up to receive a visit from Jeremy’s team and potentially become the next $100 dollar recipient.

Jeremy added, “The website is a great source of information containing a whole section of ideas on how people can get out and volunteer in their communities. Plus if they sign up, They Could Be Next!”

Paul Billeci
The South End

With rental fees of $870 to $1395, does the convenience of apartment living look like a great deal for Wayne State students?

Illya Hudson, leasing consultant for Studio One Apartments, located at 4501 Woodward Ave., is still hopeful.

“Fortunately for Studio One, we are still at 96 percent capacity. It really has to do with the location of the apartments.

“Because we’re so close to Wayne, we have many med students and law students and are still getting applicants to apply for an apartment.”

Jason Peet, leasing manager for the Milton Apartments at 132 W. Willis, said he too hasn’t seen a downturn in rentals.

“I have seen no change in people or students applying for an apartment,” he said. “In fact, I feel more people are applying to rent instead of owning. It’s much easier to rent than it is to apply for a mortgage on a home.”

Living near campus provides students with not only independence, but also eliminates the long freeway drives for suburban students who live at home with family.

However, jobs with flexible schedules are at a premium in this area, and that has affected students, as well as their families.

Lauren Cusumano, 24, a student at Wayne, lived off-campus for some time but had to move back home.

“I had a job when I started renting, but now since I can’t have a steady work schedule because of school, I had to move back home,” she said. “It was easy when I lived near campus and had a five-minute drive, now I have a 45 minute drive from my parent’s home to Wayne.”

Writer, producer and recording artist Leon Russell will heat up the Riverfront Plaza stage on Friday, July 31 for the second concert in the 2009 Rockin’ on the Riverfront classic rock concert series, sponsored by Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and in partnership with Detroit’s Classic Rock Station 94.7 WCSX-FM.

Russell has been a major force in the music industry for more than four decades. He has recorded with or written songs for various artists, including The Byrds, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson. Russell is best known for his hits “This Masquerade” (the first song in music history to occupy the number one spot in jazz, pop and R&B), “Hummingbird”, “A Song For You”, “Delta Lady” and the legendary version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” from the Concert for Bangladesh.

Rockin’ on the Riverfront will feature classic rock headliners and openers from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every Friday through September 4, making the Riverfront Plaza THE Friday night destination for food, fun and FREE concerts.

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.

For more information, call (313) 567-6700 or visit or

The Detroit Fashion Pages style team took a break from giving their everyday fashion and beauty advice and volunteered their time for the Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan on Saturday, July 25 at the Kensington Church in Troy.

Depsite the morning rain, volunteers walked nearly 15 blocks and collected ove 6200 lbs of food!
The Panera Bread bakery-cafe located at 23719 Greenfield Rd. in the Clocktower Plaza in Southfield will salute 10 years of fresh bread on Wednesday, July 29. Beginning at 6 a.m. and continuing throughout the day, customers are invited to stop by the bakery-cafe for a complimentary small coffee. The first 100 customers will also receive a mini baguette to commemorate the milestone.

Customers can also enter to win a Via Panera catered lunch for 10 people by dropping their business card in a bowl. The general manager at the bakery-cafe will randomly draw the winner at the end of the day. Hours of operation for the Clocktower Plaza location are Monday – Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.