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» Detroit News Roundup for Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Detroit News Roundup for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday August 4-6, 2007

Growing in Detroit

On August 1st, Detroiters took part in the 10th annual Urban Garden Tour, sponsored by the Detroit Agricultural Network (DAN).

This year’s tour provided a close-up view of the emerging fresh, organic food system in Detroit, which is providing hope and nutrition to many. From hearty greens at the Earth Works farm on the East Side to a Native American medicine wheel garden at Romanowski Farm Park in Southwest Detroit, tour participants witnessed the conversion of vacant and under-utilized land to prosperous urban agricultural sites. This year’s tour showcased pesticide-free produce, which is becoming available to consumers at local farmers’ market through the “Grown in Detroit” label.

And it included a tour by bike!
[via Model D]

Have Bike, Will Deliver

“There’s a lot of romanticism that happens with a bike messenger service, but at the end of the day we’re just delivery dudes,” says Hans Buetow, 26, one of the founders of Rock Dove Couriers. He’s chomping on his fifth or six meal of the day—one of the perks of riding a bike for a living. But he and the orange-shirted, messenger-bag-toting posse that is Rock Dove couldn’t have a more skewed idea of who they really are.
Rock Dove Couriers (named after beloved urban animal, the courier pigeon) is a five-person pack of professional bike messengers “pedaling” their wares around the city. For a courier service, those wares could mean anything from a subpoena or affidavit to the occasional last-minute Tigers box seat ticket haul. But don’t be fooled by the cut-off pants and sweaty brows. They’re specialists. They know the courts, They know the city buildings and the clerks. And, they know they can get a package anywhere downtown in 15 minutes rain, shine or 20 below. Just delivery dudes? Yeah, right.

But here’s the real kicker when it comes to who is really kicking who’s butt on the cost front: Rock Dove has also started doing runs to both Oakland and Macomb County Circuit Courts. (Um, wait just a second. That’s like 30 miles each way, right? No one could possibly bike that far!) Buetow says that through a combo of their bikes, DDOT or SMART buses ($1.50 per ride, thank you very much), and the existing arteries of Woodward and Gratiot, they’re able to travel long distances in a shorter amount of time.

Five dudes with bikes form their own company that not only provides a service at a lower price but is also green.
[via Model D]

Canine to Five expands with outdoor dog park

Canine to Five: Detroit Dog Daycare will celebrate the grand opening of its outdoor dog park on August 11 at 9 am. The dog park adds an additional 7,500 square feet of outdoor play-space to an already expansive facility, and is Detroit’s first fully-fenced dog park.

Owner Liz Blondy says, “One thing that differentiates us from other dog parks is that we require proof of current vaccinations and we screen dogs for aggression. This gives people a sense of security that they are bringing their dog to a safe place.”

[via Model D]

A Report from the New SDS Confab in Detroit

The national meeting of Students for a Democratic Society in Detroit, July 27 to August 1, marked the second annual National Convention since the New SDS was born at the start of 2006. Since then, hundreds of demonstrations inspired by SDS have occurred nationally– on and off the college campus. Detroit was the environment wherein a revolution was birthed just forty years ago. Today, that same atmosphere would seem to offer SDS a historically rich and inspiring backdrop. Wayne State University is in the heart of the political labyrinth that is Detroit, where Anarchists, Communists, and closet Libertarians met to evaluate how their budding participatory democracy can hold up to yet another year of the Bush/Cheney regime.

The New SDS meets between the two pivotal cities on I-94 of the original SDS, Ann Arbor where it was founded and Port Huron where it forged an identity.
[via CounterPunch]

DINE OUT Outdoor seating a popular option at restaurants

A growing number of Jackson-area restaurants are offering alfresco dining, from a handful of tables outside Bella Notte Ristorante and Daryl’s Downtown, to the 60-seat deck at The Hunt Club.

That’s certainly far behind Ann Arbor, which will have 200 restaurants offering outdoor seating this summer, according to an article in the Ann Arbor Observer, but Jackson is joining the ranks of most Michigan cities.

Currently, residents of Jackson can ride the train to Ann Arbor to dine alfresco and then continue on by train to Royal Oak for a night out. Can we expect the situation to reverse in a few years? If you’ve never been, downtown Jackson should actually has a nice collection of historic buildings including a few tall ones. When you consider the small size of the population it is especially impressive to walk around a downtown that is truly three-dimensional, not just a single long drag of one- and two-story buildings here. If it could only just borrow some cosmopolitan-ness from Ann Arbor and young urban-ness from Royal Oak.
[via MLive.com]

Robocop celebrates its 20th Anniversary with Collectors Edition DVD

Part Man, Part Machine. All Cop. Yep that’s right, Robocop is back. The 1987 cyberpunk action movie, which saw two sequels, two animated series, two television series, several comic books, multiple video games and dozens of action figures, obviously isn’t enough as there is now a Robocop 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD.

The film was set in a dystopian near future in Detroit, Michigan. Violent crime rates are through the roof and the city is in financial ruin. The city contracts the megacoporation Omni Consumer Products to fund the police department. OCP is not interested in rebuilding old Detroit but want to replace it with a modern utopia called “Delta City”. OCP want to eliminate crime in the city before work begins and creates a superhuman law-enforcement agent known as Robocop.

Maybe this movie wasn’t the best for Detroit’s image but it’s a Detroit movie classic nonetheless.
[via Product Reviews]

$42 million to be spent on improvements, construction at WCCC’s new campus

[via Detroit Free Press]

Brent Snavely covers restaurants for Crain’s Detroit Business.

Woodard’s 30-seat restaurant opened in June at 22257 Michigan Ave. Juicy Red Hots serves hot dogs in famous American styles from New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Texas, New England and St. Louis.

Don Yamauchi, executive chef of Tribute in Farmington Hills, is joining San Francisco-based Mina Group on Sept. 1 to manage two restaurants at MGM Grand Detroit Casino L.L.C. Yamauchi will manage Bourbon Steak, a steak house, and Saltwater, a seafood restaurant.

Eliane Turner is planning to open Gaucho steak house, a churrascaria, or Brazilian-style steak house at 39550 W. Seven Mile Road in Northville by mid-August.

At a churrascaria, servers bring different cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken, in succession to each diner at their table, and there is a salad bar with a variety of items. Thus, there is not a traditional menu and there typically is a single price.

Brick Oven Bistro, a contemporary Italian restaurant featuring thin-crust, gourmet pizzas as well as pasta, beef and chicken entrees, opened in June at 4656 Greenfield Road in Dearborn.

[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

Grosse Pointe condos get OK; others wait out market

Though the down residential market has sidelined several condominium projects over the last year, developers are planning a new development in Grosse Pointe.

The Morningside Group on July 23 was awarded a condo project by the city of Grosse Pointe to build 48 condos and 12,000 square feet of retail/commercial space on two city-owned parking lots north of Kercheval Street between Notre Dame and St. Clair streets. Asking prices for the residential units, which will average 1,200 square feet, will start near $300,000.

But overall, young professionals and empty-nesters have been interested in condo developments with retail and entertainment options nearby, said Ronald Mucha, senior vice president with the Chicago-based Morningside Group, which has developed projects in Royal Oak, Ann Arbor and in the Chicago area.

In Grosse Pointe, the city’s density and retail mix is what will make the condo project work, even in the current market, Mucha said.

“The retail environment is unparalleled in the suburban downtowns,” he said. “You can walk to Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Ace Hardware, Borders, CVS, and those are just the major retailers. I’m hard-pressed to think of another suburban downtown where you’re that close to those amenities.”

This is just north of the strip of downtown Grosse Pointe at Kercheval and Cadieux. Though all is not well in the real estate market, those with the most disposable income are still looking for condos within walking distance to retail, restaurants, and other amenities. Exactly the kind of neighborhoods that the city and region needs to focus on developing.
[via Crain’s Detroit Business]

Hometown soul

Seattle’s got alt-rock. London’s got Britpop. And Detroit, well, Detroit’s got soul. And so does Dwele (whose full name, Andwele, means “God has brought me” in Swahili), a native son of the Motor City.

A performer who deftly blends the best of the old and the best of the new, Dwele does his hometown proud. Detroit has always been a hub of R&B and soul, and with artists like him continuing the tradition into the twenty-first century, it will continue to be for years to come.

Ahem. Detroit is home to all kinds of soul including the high-tech soul.
[via Michigan Daily]

The whole kitsch and caboodle

In our mall culture, it’s easy to forget that fashion beyond couture can be art. This weekend’s Detroit Urban Craft Fair hosted by Handmade Detroit reminded visitors that fashion is an accessible expression of flair and individuality. The crafters reuse, reconstruct and twerk various materials into craft: notebooks made from authentic record art, custom made underwear from vintage T-shirts, stained glass David Bowie night lights, loud antique fashionable rings made from vintage buttons, lingerie inspired designs painted on simple shirts and tanks.

Not your mom’s craft fair. These crafts are fashionable, kitschy, nostalgic and above all original. Over 60 crafters came together to exhibit and sell such works at the funky and eclectic restaurant and concert venue The Majestic on Saturday to celebrate original artistry and craftsmanship while combating mass production.

If you missed the fair, there’s no need to wait until next year to catch on to the DIY movement. Handmade Detroit hosts mini DIYcraft fairs the first Sunday of every month in Ferndale. The series is entitled Sunday Crafternoons and more information can be found at MySpace.com/sundaycrafternoon.

[via Michigan Daily]

Fund-raising ride gives stress relief

Wardell, 52, will begin his third annual Bicycle Ride for Mental Health on Aug. 19.

The ride begins in Detroit and ends five days and about 320 miles later in Mackinaw City. It’s a fund-raiser for Integrative Human Services, a nonprofit organization Wardell founded six years ago. The organization provides mental-health care at reduced cost for clients in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties who are underinsured, without insurance or have high co-pays.
He stays at state campgrounds and forests along the way, or hotels if necessary. He carries 35 pounds of gear, including a two-person tent, a sleeping bag, clothes, some food and three water bottles. Because he takes the trip alone, he brings a GPS unit to verify his mileage.

With the closing of the majority of Michigan’s state-run mental health institutions, the burden of caring for mental health patients has passed to communities, Wardell said.

“We’ve found that you can provide people with the needed services and they can stay in their communities,” said Vicki Suder, manager of communication and education at the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority.

The community that was left with the greatest share of burden for caring for the mentally ill was Detroit, where the released mentally ill just became newly homeless. Therapist Clarence Wardell Jr. is one man who is trying to help and help people help themselves. I wonder if he chooses to ride alone or if nobody is up to the challenge?
[via Royal Oak Daily Tribune]

Metro residents say yes to a zoo tax

Despite tough economic times, a majority of tri-county adults say they support a proposal for a small property tax in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to help the Detroit Zoo, a Detroit Free Press-Local 4 Michigan Poll shows.

About 56% of the adults surveyed said they could accept a proposed regional property tax to aid the financially struggling zoo, which is in Royal Oak. About 36% of voters opposed the zoo tax, and 8% were unsure.

Without the tax, the zoo would be forced to raise prices dramatically or even close, Warden said.

Zoo officials hope to put the question before voters in 2008 either in the August primary or the November general election. They plan to meet with county officials in coming months to persuade them to put the issue on the ballot.

Get the word out! Ten bucks to save the zoo and support regional cooperation.
[via Detroit Free Press]

Royal Oak offers something for every night crawler

Here’s a sampling of what Royal Oak had to offer on one Saturday night in July:

It’s just past 10 p.m. and downtown Royal Oak is teeming with activity.

Hundreds peruse the streets and fill tables at outdoor cafes and bars, enjoying the mild evening.

Neon lights illuminate the sidewalk and storefront windows laden with stylish items. Limos, party buses and sports cars occasionally roll down Main Street, their drivers on the hunt for the perfect party scene.

Justin Koelzer, 26, of Detroit said visitors should look for the bars and restaurants that suit their mood.

“There’s a more festive atmosphere here,” Koelzer said while chatting with friends on the upstairs patio. “The metro Detroit area has unlimited nightlife to begin with, it just depends on what vibe you’re looking for.”

A few blocks away at Café du Marquis, 204 Fifth Ave., translucent plumes of smoke are billowing away from a corner table, where three Royal Oak teens are puffing on the pipes of a Hookah. The city has three Hookah bars, which offer a variety of flavored tobacco and food.

The town offers enough to satisfy everyone’s tastes, said Nick Assaf, 18, of Bloomfield Hills.

“Anything you want to do here you could do it,” he said.

Jackson looks toward downtown Royal Oak’s nightlife, only about an hour and a half’s drive away. One thing’s for sure: the people there are in a really good mood.
[via MLive.com]

Rosewood tofu made in traditional way

It’s not all that uncommon for people to finally overcome tofu’s stigma of being tasteless and icky, give it a try and immediately decide they were right all along.

Rodney Dean, the owner of Rosewood Products in Ann Arbor would ask those nonbelievers to give tofu just one more chance. But this time, he suggests, try the real thing.

Does “more traditional” really make a difference? Well, for starters, Rosewood tofu is perishable and should be eaten within 30-60 days from its creation. This shouldn’t be a problem, as soybeans become tofu in a matter of 12 hours here in Ann Arbor before delivery to stores. National brands, on the other hand, can have shelf lives of over a year.

“Traditional” also means actually traditional, too. Dean told how Bruce Rose, the owner of Rosewood Products of many years until about six months ago, went on a trip that changed the direction of the company.

“In America, we just weren’t making (tofu) right,” he said. “About 15 years ago, he went to China. He brought a couple of guys over, and one’s still here. We call him ‘the master.’ He’s really good at it.”

[via Ann Arbor News]

New DVD Captures Last Days Of Producer J. Dilla

The last days of revered producer James “J. Dilla” Yancey have been chronicled on a new DVD titled Frank N Dank and J. Dilla’s European Vacation.

European Vacation features footage of a November 2005 tour, the last that J. Dilla embarked upon, before he passed away from complications from Lupus on February 10, 2006.

Dank said that another purpose of the DVD is to further educate United States Hip-Hop fans about Dilla’s legacy and the impact that he had on the landscape of Hip-Hop.

“You see a movement, people from another country that don’t speak any English, but they know every song,” Dank said of Dilla’s European fans. “Then you get people here in America and they don’t know none of this s**t.”

Not only was J. Dilla a member of the Detroit Hip-Hop group Slum Village, he produced a number of influential records as Jaylib (J. Dilla and Madlib) and put in work as a member of the The Soulquarians production crew.

J. Dilla lent his production talents to artists like Janet Jackson, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Keith Murray, The Roots, Common, Talib Kweli, Bilal, Proof, Ghostface Killah and others.

[via The Elements]

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» Detroit News Roundup for Wednesday, August 8, 2007