Sam Abuelsamid

Earlier this week, Brammo's director of product development Brian Wismann along with Dave Schiff of Crispin Porter Bugosky, began a ten-day journey meant to take them to Washington, DC.

The trip, which is being chronicled on the site, is intended to raise awareness of the company's new electric motorcycle, the Enertia, and electric vehicles in general.

The trek began at Zingerman's deli in downtown Ann Arbor, MI, which just happens to be a a few blocks from this blogger's office. Brian and Dave swung by the office for a visit to show off the bike – which they prefer to call a powercycle – and chat about what it can do.

Along the route to the capital, they'll be making plenty of similar stops, partly to demonstrate the bike but mostly out of necessity. While the Enertia is undoubtedly a neat ride, it underscores two of the major problems with EVs. They are expensive ($11,995 for the Enertia) and have limited range. This bike only has a 42-mile range and then takes four hours to charge. That means plenty of short hops to cover the 520 miles to DC. On the plus side, it should only take about $4 worth of juice to make the trip.

Hopefully sales will bring volumes that help bring the cost down. In the meantime, check out the video after the jump.

Screen Writing Basics 

Michigan may be best known for its auto industry, its college football teams, and its contributions to the art of office-furniture manufacture. The fact is, though, that this mitten-shaped Upper Midwestern state has made great contributions to American arts and culture-and all sorts of positive signs, from the growth of downtown Grand Rapids to the sudden explosion in Detroit-based visual arts, suggest that Michigan plans to remain one of the cultural capitals of the United States.

And that place is well-earned. After all, this is the state where Motown Records was founded, where punk rock pioneer Iggy Pop, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, and author Nelson Algren hail from, where the classic Anatomy of a Murder was filmed, and where Ernest Hemingway set his first published story. Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Gilda Radner, and Lily Tomlin were all born here, Elmore Leonard calls the state home, and Sufjan Stevens made his name as the leader of West Michigan-based band Marzuki.

Michigan has an important place in film history, too. It provides backdrop for such films as The Evil Dead, Four Brothers, Grosse Pointe Blank, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, RoboCop, and 8 Mile. A recent bill enacted by the Michigan legislature ensures that the Wolverine State will continue attracting quality film productions, luring famous and unknown film artists alike with a forty-percent across-the-board refundable tax credit, a loan program, and other goodies. (A complete list and application are available from the Michigan Film Office.) This incentives package, coupled with the state’s unique geographic diversity that allows it to “stand in” for many kinds of locations (urban, mountainous, forested, coastal), makes Michigan one of the most attractive possible shooting locations in the United States. But filmmakers should also note the state’s lively film-festival calendar-a mere sampling of which is provided below.

In the Detroit area alone, we have a plethora. Royal Oak offers the results of the innovative 48 Hour Film Project every July, after teams of Detroit-area filmmakers spend a forty-eight hour period writing, shooting, editing and scoring an entire film, using just a prop, line of dialogue, character, and genre which must be included in the film. Similar projects are done in fifty-four other cities from around the world, and Detroit’s version features robust participation from area filmmakers.

And in December there’s Dearborn’s Annual Arab Film Festival, hosted by the Arab American National Museum. Given the impact that filmmakers from Arab cultures have had on the art form in recent years-Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami is regularly acclaimed as one of the great artists of world cinema, and films from the region are often cited as influences by such directors as Werner Herzog and Michael Haneke-this is one festival not to miss, since today’s Arab film festival entry may be tomorrow’s influential new classic.

Other possibilities for the discerning Michigan cineaste include the long-running Ann Arbor Film Festival. The lower-Michigan city of Ann Arbor is something of a regional cultural capital-it supports one of the world’s best research universities in the University of Michigan, and it has all the bookstores and museums you’d expect of such a place-so it’s no surprise that it’s also the home of one of the oldest, best-established, and most vital film festivals in the country, which continues to attract artistic experimenters from all over the world. Early work by Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas, Andy Warhol, and Gus Van Sant, among others, has appeared at this festival (one of Variety’s top ten “Festivals We Love”); it’s the place to catch works by tomorrow’s trendsetting young film directors-today.

For filmmakers and their personnel visiting any of the above festivals (and many more every year in places such as Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Mt. Pleasant), the state offers an excellent transit infrastructure experienced in handling film and television productions. For example, Checker Sedan-the company that most recently handled transportation for SuperBowl XL, and the official transportation provider for the Detroit Metro Airport-has years of experience in dropping off dailies, picking up stars, and every other kind of work associated with film and television production.

The Gov Monitor

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that Detroit will host the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit organized by the Genetics Policy Institute.

The conference will take place October 4-6, 2010, at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center.  It will be co-hosted by Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“We have been working to grow Michigan’s life sciences sector as part of our strategy to diversify the state’s economy and create jobs,” Granholm said.  “The World Stem Cell Summit is one of the most important life sciences conferences in the world.  The selection of Detroit to host the 2010 summit is positive recognition and support of our efforts here in Michigan in this emerging economic sector.”

“Hosting the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit will allow us to showcase the innovative research that is occurring in the city of Detroit and at Michigan universities,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.  “Scientists, researchers, government officials and industry representatives from around the world will see firsthand the great minds and facilities we have in Detroit.”

The summit will attract more than 1,200 of the most influential stem cell stakeholders from more than 30 countries, representing the fields of science, business, policy, law, ethics and advocacy.  There will be 150 internationally-renowned speakers, producing a unique international network designed to foster collaborations, economic development, technology transfer, commercialization, private investment and philanthropy.

“We are delighted to bring the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit to Detroit,” said Bernard Siegel, executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute.  “Michigan is fast becoming a biotechnology hub.  Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University all have world-class researchers and outstanding facilities dedicated not only to fundamental stem cell research but also to translating lab work into effective treatments and cures.”

Presidents of all three universities expressed enthusiasm about the summit.

“Michigan State University has a long history of working in a number of areas in the stem cell field such as bio-engineering, cancer biology, and toxicology,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.  “The 2010 World Stem Cell Summit will be an opportunity to showcase our work as well as continue, and establish new, collaborations with our University Research Corridor colleagues.”

“Stem cell research and discovery are of tremendous importance not only to scientists, patients and families but also to transforming our state’s economy,” said University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman.  “The University of Michigan is excited to welcome the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit to Michigan.”

“As a leader in life sciences research, Wayne State University is pleased to sponsor the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit with our University Research Corridor partners,” said Wayne State University President Jay Noren.  “With the planned opening of the Stem Cell Commercialization Center at TechTown, Wayne State’s technology park and business incubator, Detroit and Michigan are poised to assume leadership in research in this field of increasing importance to both the biomedical industry and pioneering clinical care.”

Covered at the summit will be all areas of stem cell science, disease models, drug discovery, tissue engineering, bioreactors and nanotechnology.  There will be progress reports on treatment for cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, neurological disorders and cardiovascular disease.  Panels will discuss commercialization, funding, economic development, regulatory agency perspectives, law and ethics.

The summit also will feature the 2010 Stem Cell Action Awards Dinner where the Genetics Policy Institute will recognize organizations and individuals who have most positively impacted the stem cell community.  At the 2009 summit dinner in Baltimore, two Michigan stem cell organizations won awards:  Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures won the Education Award, while Cure Michigan won the Grassroots Advocacy Award.

The 2010 World Stem Cell Summit will be the sixth annual conference organized by the Genetics Policy Institute.  Previous summits have taken place in Houston, Palo Alto, Boston, Baltimore, and Madison, Wisconsin.
Dave Bing - watch more funny videos

Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

City Manager Tom Markus was not surprised when a representative from informed him that Birmingham had made their Best Places for a Healthy Retirement list.

“It’s a community that is safe, clean, healthy, and it has all the amenities, so I wasn’t surprised we were in there,” he said.

One of just 20 communities nationwide to make the list, Birmingham was the only town in Michigan to be recognized.

Cities made the list based on a variety of factors, such as population, the percentage of people over the age of 50, the number of doctors in the county, the number of hospitals within 30 miles, life expectancy at birth, and whether the city provides for an active lifestyle, according to the Web site.

The top 10 list included Anaheim, Calif; North Hempstead, N.Y.; Fort Lee, N.J.; Yonkers, N.Y.; Downers Grove, Ill.; Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif.; Natick, Mass.; Stamford, Conn.; and Seattle.

Birmingham was listed as No. 14. Birmingham’s description on the Web site stated “retirees can leave their cars behind and stay fit exploring this quaint, affluent Michigan town on foot.” noted that in Birmingham, the focus is on walking, although it’s just a half-hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of downtown Detroit. The Web site went on to say that because of the city’s efforts, Birmingham is now considered among the top 20 walkable towns in the U.S.

Planning Director Jana Ecker said all of the city’s planning practices work towards walkability, and creating a lively and diverse atmosphere that will encourage visitors and residents alike to spend time downtown.

“We have several master plans across the city — the downtown, Rail District, Triangle District — that all require a mix of uses to create a live, work and play environment.  All of these plans are also form-based, in that there are regulations built in that mandate the form and location of buildings to create pedestrian-friendly, walkable streetscapes, such as requiring buildings to be built up to the frontage lines, hiding parking in the rear, requiring pedestrian-scaled architectural details along street facades, creating public gathering spaces, and enhancing sidewalk activity through outdoor dining, street furniture and special events,” she said. also noted the wide mix of shops, restaurants and entertainment available in the city’s downtown, as well as the abundant opportunities for recreation within the city’s 220 acres of parks, two community golf courses, several tennis courts and trails along the Rouge River.

In some categories, Markus said, he is considered a senior now. He sees the city as a great place to retire.

“It’s a wonderful town. It’s a civically engaged community, and people are passionate about their town,” he said. “We have had people come here specifically to retire — I know that, because I know some of them — but I think what’s equally impressive is people don’t leave to retire,” he said.

Mayor Stuart Sherman said it seems that the rest of the country is just now noticing that Birmingham is a great place to live and recreate.

“We have worked very hard to make Birmingham a premier community, and our work is paying off. This just confirms what the residents and visitors to Birmingham already know — with our walkable neighborhoods and downtown and our improved parks, Birmingham offers many opportunities for people to be active and enjoy the atmosphere,” he said.

The area's leading creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers will gather on Wednesday, October 21st to share what they are most passionate about — positive ideas for the world from Detroit.

TED is an annual event where the top minds in the world share, connect and inspire. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three subjects that, collectively, shape our future. The event draws CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists and extraordinary speakers including Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

This year, TED expands beyond its annual conference by seeding smaller, independent events throughout the nation, called TEDx. The first TEDxDetroit will emulate the spirit and ideals of the TED Conference.

TEDxDetroit will be held at Lawrence Tech's Science Building Auditorium in Southfield, Michigan, from 8:30AM to 6:00PM, Oct 21. Due to an outstanding response, the conference is full, but several surrounding events have been opened to the public in an effort to bring the entire community into the excitement.

Tuesday, October 20th
Pre-party Tweetup 7pm-9pm Bar Louie in Novi (Open to the public)
This is an informal gathering for attendees and friends to meet, connect and enjoy a cocktail in a relaxed setting the night before the event. The pre-party tweetup will be co-hosted by and take place at a popular nightspot Bar Louie in Novi (near the junction of I-275, I-96 & I-696).  This is a free event and open to the public.

Hotel Accommodations
If you are coming in from out of town, you may want to try the Embassy Suites Detroit Southfield which is a nice hotel just a stone's throw from Lawrence Tech and the after party.

Wednesday, October 21st
TEDxDetroit 8:30am-6pm
The moment you've been waiting for. Doors open at 8:30am. The program starts promptly at 8:48am. The event is sold out. If you have been notified that your application for attending has been accepted, please arrive early to claim your seat. Please bring $20 cash or a check payable to "Public Art Workz" for admission.
Lawrence Tech Science Building Auditorium

TEDxDetroit Lunch 11am-1pm PLEASE PRE-REGISTER (Open to the public)
We'll be breaking for lunch just after 11am. Our community partners LA2M and Motor City Connect are hosting a TEDxDetroit networking lunch. We encourage you to click the link below to register for lunch ASAP. This event will be open to non attendees as well and will sell out. Cost $20 in advance.
Copper Canyon Brewery
27522 Northwestern Hwy Southfield, MI 48034

TEDxDetroit Afterglow 6pm-9pm (Open to the public)
Reflect and connect with speakers, attendees and community leaders at this informal gathering. Light hors d'oeuvres  will be available. The venue also offers a full cash bar and a dinner menu which features items such as their famous gumbo. This is a free event (pay for your own dinner and drinks) and open to the public.
Fishbone's Rhythm Kitchen Cafe
29244 Northwestern Hwy Southfield, MI 48034
Each child who participates in the Marathon’s Kids Expo activities will receive a free ticket to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Over The Top coming to The Palace Nov. 18 – 22.

Children from across metro Detroit will want to lace up their clown…uh, running shoes for the third annual Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon, Whole Foods Health and Fitness Expo, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Red Nose Run events on Saturday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 18.

The fun begins in the Ringling Bros. kids area of the Whole Foods Health & Fitness Expo at Cobo Center on Saturday, Oct. 17, with different activities taking place every hour. All expo events are free and each child who participates in the featured Ringling Bros. activities will receive a free ticket to a weekday. performance of Over The Top, coming to The Palace of Auburn Hills next month.

Featured activities at the kids expo area provided by Ringling Bros. on Saturday, Oct. 17 include:

11 a.m. – Noon                Ringling Bros. CircusFit® Presentation – active fitness demonstration with Ringling Bros. Clown
Noon – 1 p.m.                  Activity Hour – juggling and balancing activities
1 p.m. – 2 p.m.                 CircusFit Presentation
2 p.m. – 3 p.m.                 Ringling Bros. kids races – open to all kids 12 and under
3 p.m. – 4 p.m.                 Q&A with CircusFit Representatives

“We are thrilled to partner yet again with Ringling Bros. to host the Red Nose Run and CircusFit events in conjunction with the marathon,” said Patricia Ball, executive director of the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon. “The Detroit Marathon is committed to the health of local residents and these Ringling events help us to encourage young people to lead healthy and active lifestyles in a fun and motivating manner.”

In addition to receiving a free ticket to a weekday performance of Over The Top at The Palace, each child who participates in the CircusFit activities will receive other Ringling Bros. goodies (while supplies last) and also meet a Ringling Bros. clown. CircusFit is a national youth fitness program from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey that encourages America’s youth to lead healthy, active lifestyles by combining the fun of circus skills with stretching, strength building and aerobic exercise. Free fitness plans and activities are available at

The fun will continue on Sunday, Oct. 18, at the 5K Fun Run/Ringling Bros. Red Nose Run. The run is the opportunity for children to experience the thrill of the race in this 5K precursor to the marathon. The run kicks off at 7:30 a.m. at the marathon start line. Adults and children may participate together in the 5K Fun Run/Red Nose Run. To register, go to and follow the registration link. Interested participants can also register in person at the Whole Foods Health & Fitness Expo.

All participants in the 5K Fun Run/Red Nose Run will receive an official short-sleeve wicking shirt, commemorative finisher’s medal goody bag and free admission to the Marathon Expo.

To find out more about the fun events surrounding the Marathon, please visit

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Over The Top will play The Palace of Auburn Hills Nov. 18 through Nov. 22. One hour before show time, ticketholders are invited make their way to the arena floor to learn how acrobats stay CircusFit. Fans will also be able to clown around with Ringling Bros. performers; try their hand at circus antics, such as juggling; and meet the human and animal stars of the The Greatest Show On Earth®. It’s all part of the All Access Pre-show and FREE to every ticket holder!

Over The Top is a wacky and whimsical circus spectacular where audiences will experience maniacal mayhem as Ringmaster Chuck Wagner and clown eccentric Tom Dougherty compete for control of a magical top hat that brings to life their fantastical imaginations.

 Tickets to Over The Top range from $12.50 to $21.50. Additionally, specially priced VIP, Front Row and Circus Celebrity seats are available at The Palace Box Office, at all Ticketmaster locations, online at and by phone at1-800-745-3000 .

Over The Top show dates and times: Wednesday, Nov. 18 and Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 21 at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

HBO Comes to Oakland to Film Kevorkian Movie

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Home Box Office filmmakers for the Jack Kevorkian biopic "You Don't Know Jack" will be in town this week to film scenes for the movie already in production in New York City.

Both interior and exterior shots are planned at the Oakland Circuit courthouse off Telegraph Road in Pontiac, where the former pathologist, now 81 years old, was a frequent visitor in the years before being sentenced to prison in 1999 for second-degree murder in one of 130 deaths he claims to have assisted over a decade.

Actors Al Pacino, John Goodman and Susan Sarandon are just a few of the film's stars expected to be in town, according to Kevorkian attorney and friend Mayer Morganroth. Goodman is to portray Kevorkian's friend, Neal Nicol, and Sarandon will take the role of Janet Good, a right-to-die advocate and former head of the Michigan Hemlock Society, who befriended Kevorkian and also died with his help.

Pacino has the lead role of Kevorkian, but don't look for him and the man who became known as "Dr. Death" getting together during the shoot, Morganroth said.

"Pacino doesn't even want to meet Jack until the filming is done on this project," said Morganroth, a consultant on the film. Like several other principals close to the Kevorkian story, he will be interviewed for a behind-the-scenes "making of" the film expected to be released sometime next year.

Courthouse filming is expected to be shot Thursday and Friday. And for some who were around when Kevorkian made headlines here in the 1990s, the scene may be like travelling back in time.

In some of his last court appearances, the outspoken and always irascible Kevorkian strolled past sign-toting critics and supporters dressed in colonial-style garb, wig and even slipped his arms through a set of fake wooden stocks, a common punishment for running afoul of the law in the 1700s. It is expected Pacino may don some of the same type of paraphernalia for the film, directed by Barry Levinson, whose resume includes the Academy Award-winning "Rain Man."

Filming is also expected to take place at other Oakland County locations, including near places where Kevorkian lived and created his self-proclaimed "Mercitron" (assisted suicide machine) and where some of the assisted suicides occurred.

Kevorkian served eight years of a 10-to-25-year sentence and was paroled in June 2007 for good behavior. Jessica Cooper -- the judge who sentenced him with a terse "no one is above the law" and "consider yourself stopped" -- became the county's prosecutor earlier this year.

"I've had a conversation with the film's screenwriter, as has (assistant prosecuting attorney) John Skrzynski, who handled the case," said Cooper. "We've both been given the impression it will be balanced, and I guess we will just have to see. I can't think of anyone better than Pacino playing him."