Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Captain Obvious

"A structure called the “Clock House” burned Sunday night at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, the latest blaze in a series of fires in recent weeks at the world-renowned art installation."

"Earlier this month, the ATF announced it is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the fires."
(From the Detroit Free Press)

Tyree Guyton won't come out and say it publicly, but it's clear what's going on. Someone who lives in that neighborhood is sick and tired of all the hipster tourists rolling through.

Even though the Heidelberg Project took in over $600,000 in revenue in 2011, they want the public to donate $50,000 to add some security to the neighborhood.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Monday, November 25, 2013

Collision Imminent

Will Timmy be able to suppress the urge to disrupt a show he booked himself? If Timmy acts out, is Zach still intense enough to put him in check?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

He Said, She Said

It's a shame that Timmy had a bad night. Did anyone else from that show agree?
According to my hand-scrawled notes, it was just after a fine cover of the Stones' Paint it Black that the trouble started. A large and seemingly very drunk audience member decided to grab Cyril's mic and pull it down toward himself to make a request of the group. Instead, he bonked himself on his bald head with the mic before he finally replaced it clumsily on the stage.

This did not sit well (understandably!) with Groovies' lead singer / guitarist Chris Wilson, who warned the man not to do that kind of thing again. It seemed a fair warning, and I expected the music to get right back on track, but it didn't quite happen that way. Apparently this patron and several of his friends were under the mistaken impression that the rest of the audience had come to see them -- that, indeed, they were the show. Some of them made obscene gestures at Wilson and at least one suggested that Wilson come down and fight him.

Chris opined that this audience member had rather better wait until after the conclusion of the concert to have his butt kicked (or words to that effect). At some point, beer bottles were thrown. One shattered somewhere near me, and I felt a rain of glass shards come down around my head and shoulders.

What Security people were there seemed slow to respond. Even once they got there, it was difficult for them to wrestle the fat balding man out of the hall. And then, even after that, it was not over. Others who remained jeered or shot the bird at Chris and, to his credit, he played the man and would not countenance this type of behavior. He asked for the troublemakers to be ejected from the music hall. Security eventually removed one or two other patrons, and the crowd where we were near the stage had thinned out quite a bit. I thought at that point: "That's it, that's our concert."

That guy couldn't have been talking about Timmy? After all, Timmy only yelled into a mic.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bottoms Up

We're getting some more national media attention. Anthony Bourdain is going to air an episode of his show Sunday night that's devoted solely to Detroit, and it's going to include our favorite pseudo-journalist. I know that you're just as giddy about this as I am. Decades later, the airing of this episode will be seen as the tipping point in Detroit's comeback story. In honor of this momentous event, I've created the Bourdain in Detroit Drinking Game.

Whenever you hear the word "creative" used, take a shot.

If anyone on the show uses the phrase "blank slate", take a shot.

If Brandon Walley, or anything associated with him shows up, put some money in a paper bag and light it on fire.

If Bourdain stands in front of the Joe Louis fist during filming, take a shot.

If the American/Lafayette debate is brought up, take a shot.

If Bourdain visits an "urban farm", take a shot. If he visits an "urban farm" and fails to mention the likely presence of lead in the soil of older American neighborhoods, take a shot of drano.

If Bourdain appears at the Tashmoo Biergarten, you have to do something conventional, and then pretend that you actually just did something revolutionary.

If Bourdain shows up at the grave of a music legend and pretends to have unique insight on the deceased, take a shot.

If Bourdain takes a tour of ruin porn, but pretends that he's not like every other outsider who parachutes into the city to gape at ruin porn, punch a hipster in the face, and take a shot.

If Bourdain fails to give John Carlisle credit for finding a story first, remember that Carlisle is used to it by now, and take a shot.

If Banksy is mentioned when Bourdain visits the Packard plant, take a shot.

If Bourdain explains the 8 Mile divide to the viewers, take a shot.

If Bourdain goes to Eastern Market and inspects raw meat, take a shot of bacon grease.

If Phil Cooley or Slow's BBQ makes an appearance, punch yourself in the crotch.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Help Me, Obi-Wan Cooley; You're My Only Hope

PJ just can't get himself any favorable press coverage:

A sobering effect: As bars, restaurants pop up, longtime Corktown biz struggles
Paul "PJ" Ryder is at an entrepreneurial crossroads: He loves doing business in Detroit but is struggling to make ends meet, having been denied bank loans to help relieve some debt obligations. So he is considering selling his rock 'n' roll dream.

After all, his Corktown business, PJ's Lager House, made a profit of just $1,000 last year.

Ryder, 59, is one face of reality within the Detroit restaurant and bar industry, even as new eateries and watering holes are popping up in some of the city's thriving neighborhoods such as Midtown and Corktown. And establishments just a stone's throw away from the Lager House, such as Slows Bar BQ and Sugar House Bar, are by all appearances doing a booming business.

"I owe just about what I owed when I bought the place," said Ryder, who will celebrate his six-year anniversary on Oct. 23. "Usually people say, 'Well, I'm not making any money,' but there's usually something they take home as the owner, as the manager, as the person who is working there every day. I still have not been able to pay myself anything in six years. I'm living off the kindness of my wife, Donna."

He's being talked off the "just sell it and move on" cliff by his wife, friends, family members, real estate agents, Corktown business neighbors, his accountant and, of course, by the bar's patrons. None of them want to see the neighborhood joint, with its low-key vibe and beer-and-whiskey attitude, close. Now is not the time to sell, they say. They encourage him to stay and fight for Detroit. But those words aren't helping him pay the bills.

Ryder has more than $30,000 in credit card debt, money he used to open a kitchen three years ago. Although he never wanted to be in the restaurant business, when Michigan's smoking ban went into effect in 2010, he realized he would need more of a draw than just music and booze. He also owes $24,000 in back taxes, mostly sales tax.

PJ's brought in $481,000 in sales in 2012, all of which went right back out the door in the form of running the business. Here's a breakdown: His cost of goods, including beer, liquor, food and music: $242,000. Wages: $108,000. Sales tax: $27,000. Rent: $58,000. Business fees: $13,000. Other expenses, such as bar supplies, T-shirt printing and paying his accountant: $32,000. His total expenditures were $480,000.

Ryder has been trying to borrow $50,000 to $60,000 from Bank of America to keep things afloat, but has been denied. Early on he was told that he had to be in business for at least two years. Check. Then he was told that he needed his sales to top $250,000. Check. Just two weeks ago, loan officers said his business must make $1.25 in profit for every $1 being spent to run it. That's a far cry from his 2012 profit of $1,000.

Still, other entrepreneurs aren't discouraged. At least eight new Corktown restaurants have opened or are scheduled to open this year, including Motor City Wine, Ottava Via, Rubbed, St. CeCe's Pub and the Detroit Institute of Bagels. But many of the new businesses are clustered up the street and are within walking — and parking — distance of each other, while PJ's is stranded on a block closer to downtown, his only neighbors the not-yet-open bagel shop and breakfast/lunch-only Brooklyn Local.

"One person's story doesn't necessarily indicate the state of the industry — we are seeing that the industry is definitely growing," said Adriane De Ceuninck, vice president of marketing and communications for the Lansing-based Michigan Restaurant Association. "We've hit the bounce back from the economic downturn from 2008 and 2009. We have several members extending their current businesses, opening two or three additional locations."

De Ceuninck said Detroit is an interesting case study because there's a mix of bars and restaurants that have weathered the storm and been in business for decades, while there's also an explosion of new establishments trying to find an identity.

Ryder said he believes Detroiters just assume he's doing good business because the Lager House, which employs about a dozen people, has been a Corktown fixture since it opened in 1914 as a bakery and restaurant. There have been various versions and owners of the space, but because it's been at the same location and open for so long, he thinks it might get overlooked.

"What we need is more people," he said. "I love that all these places have opened up, but I wonder how they are going to feel three years from now if their cash reserves have been depleted like our cash reserves have and they begin to wonder, 'How do we increase business?' "

Erik Melander, Ryder's accountant, warns that profit expectations need to be tempered in the bar and restaurant world.

Lager House sales have been flat in 2013, but Ryder has grown the business every year since it opened. He said Ryder is undercapitalized — he has too much debt and not enough profit — like many other restaurants around town. Still, he continues to watch them open.

"I call it the 'starry-eyed effect' — there are people who just want to own a business and decide they want to open some place where all their friends can hang out," said Melander. "You see a lot of people getting into business for emotional reasons instead of economical ones."

Phil Cooley, co-owner of Slows, which opened in 2005, has a connection to PJ's — he worked as a weekend janitor there when he first moved to Detroit in 2001-02. Ryder did not own the bar then. Cooley praised the current menu and said a live music venue is needed in the neighborhood.

"Most of the places opening up seem to be doing fairly well, but that doesn't mean that everyone is doing well," Cooley said. "There was definitely skepticism when we opened up, but it's certainly better than it was. There is more optimism about Detroit's future and doing business in Detroit.

"I hope PJ sticks with it, and I hope that he becomes more profitable," he added. "The investment he's put in it has been really great. I know that we all in this neighborhood have struggled in many ways. We spend money every year on security that you wouldn't normally have to. There are additional costs of doing business here. There's a lot of upside, but I don't want to ever make it seem like it's easy."
The solution is so simple. Sell the business to Phil Cooley. The first priority to owning a successful business is to control what everyone says about you. Cooley has that covered. He knows all the voodoo incantations necessary to insure that people only say good things about him in all of the places that matter. Every time he takes a shit, it gets good press coverage.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Blame Game

We have a problem. So called "victims" can't be allowed to ruin everything for us by telling us what happens outside of our music venues.

If you think that you're a victim of a crime that happened outside of a local music venue, don't go whining about it, because you probably aren't. I'm going to give you some helpful tips in the event that you were stupid enough to cross the path of a criminal.

If you insist on speaking out about it at all, first consult the venue owners. Their interests are more important than whatever petty "quality of life" issues you just can't cope with.
Get the minor details right. Standing outside one corner of the building is so diametrically different than standing in front of the other corner, that it completely changes all context.
As for you third parties, do you think that blabbing to the whole world makes you some kind of concerned citizen? It doesn't. It just makes you some nosey busybody. How do you expect local businesses to thrive if the public is well informed?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Domo Arigato

A couple of enterprising hoodwinks with a kickstarter page pulled in over fifty grand with the notion of building a Robocop statue. After being found in a Tijuana whorehouse and dragged back to Detroit two years later, they are now being forced to put the statue up. What else could explain why they don't have a location ready after two years?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Classified Section For The Classified Section

Forget buying a large Crisco can, you can buy the Metro Times:
The company that owns the Metro Times told its Detroit staff this morning the paper is for sale, throwing the future of the 33-year-old alternative weekly into doubt at a time of great uncertainty for print publications.

Few details were available; employees were told not to speak to the media.


The longtime editor, W. Kim Heron, resigned in December, and at times this year there were only two or three fulltime staffers putting out the paper.
According to the most recent verified audit, the Metro Times weekly circulation is 52,286 copies. In June, it reported 285,803 page views to its website in the previous 30 days, and 122,609 unique visitors.

The paper is owned by Times-Shamrock Communications of Scranton, Penn., that owns newspapers, radio stations in several states and alternative weeklies like Metro Times in Orlando, Baltimore and San Antonio, which are also being put on the market today, the company said in a statement.

Newsweek magazine sold for $1.  I think that's a fair price for the Metro Times.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Every Vote Counts

Darren, the former owner of the Belmont, was on the ballot in Hamtramck:

Hamtramck City Council
One partial term ending 12/31/2015
Darren T. Grow 159 9%
Abu Musa 738 42%
Ian Perrotta 362 21%
Darla Swint 336 19%
Beverly Tran 150 9% 

Maybe he should have proposed that Hamtramck levy a cover charge to enter the city, and then exempt 90% of the people from it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Mark Wahlberg isn't the only one who's sick of BBQ. (Fast forward to the 1:50 mark)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Turf War

A panel discussion is what we need to deal with this animosity.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


If you have the time today, and you happen to be passing through Nashville, you should go to this:

Wednesday July 17th Third Man Records will present a panel discussion focused on Detroit and the rock music that's come from the city from the past five decades. The first event of its kind at Third Man, it centers on the new book by Steve Miller titled Detroit Rock City an exhaustive oral history of the past fifty years of rock and roll in the Motor City. Panelists include...
STEVE MILLER - noted true crime journalist and editor of the recent Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk ZIne '79-'83 and lead singer of early hardcore exemplars the Fix
SCOTT RICHARDSON - lead singer and namesake of legendary Detroit band SRC
JERRY VILE - lead singer of cartoon punk band the Boners and editor of a slew of Detroit-area 'zines and proper publications like White Noise, Fun, and Orbit
BEN BLACKWELL - drummer for the Dirtbombs, head vinyl guy at Third Man Records, official White Stripes archivist

In addition to the discussion, there will also be a Q&A session as well as the sharing of impossibly-rare and previously unknown audio recordings and film footage from some of the most-loved and well-known bands discussed in the book. While we can't divulge exactly what we'll be sharing, we will have the strictest enforcement of our no photos/videos/recording policy to date.
Tickets ($5) are available at the door beginning at 6pm the night of the discussion, or online in advance HERE.

It's such a great idea to have this panel discussion in Nashville. It's inspired me to host one of my own. On August 3rd in Paducah Kentucky there will be a panel discussion entitled, "The Detroit Scene: Is It Over Itself Yet?". The panel will include Spaghetti Man, Hamtramck Steve, PJ's ponytail, Stirling, that guy that drums on the paint buckets, an apathetic hipster that works at Cliff Bell's, and Bryan Metro's sunglasses.

Tickets will be $10, because it's obviously worth twice as much. The guestlist will only have one entry, "Marcie Bolen +25".

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Spaghetti Incident?

Loveable local dancing eccentric Spaghetti Man is having a tough time.

The metro Detroit dancing phenomenon fondly known as “Spaghetti Man” hopes social media help catch a group of teens who attacked him Saturday in downtown Detroit.

People around him at outdoor concerts and his haunt, Boogie Fever Cafe & Disco in Ferndale, usually get up and dance with Brian Alsobrooks, 50, of Sterling Heights. He flails around in brightly colored, secondhand suits stenciled with his nickname, “Spaghetti Man,” luring others to dance for joy in what he calls a “ministry.”

But after he danced around at Detroit River Days on Saturday, “Spaghetti Man” was attacked by more than a dozen teens hurling punches and derogatory names.

Alsobrooks suffered a black eye, sore jaw and bruises from the attack.

“I still have a sore jaw,” Alsobrooks said today. “Thank goodness I didn’t lose any teeth or anything. I’m still a little bit in shock.”

Alsobrooks was walking alone, back to his car at about 11:30 p.m., when he was attacked on Rivard between Jefferson and Lafayette.

“I’m almost to my car and I hear these kids, and I turn around and there’s some little teenage chick and she starts swinging,” said Alsobrooks, who delivers newspapers for a living. “They had me pinned to my car, and start pummeling my head. Fortunately, they didn’t get me to the ground.”

Alsobrooks said he ran during a lull in the attack. Yelling for help, he reached a police officer at Jefferson and Rivard who was directing the heavy flow of traffic leaving the festival. By the time they returned, the group of teens was gone.

During the attack, the teens used both homophobic and racial slurs. Alsobrooks also noticed the teens — eight to 12 of them in their late teens, including three or four girls —taking pictures and possibly videotaping of the attack.

Alsobrooks said he’s hoping someone will come across those photos or video on social media to help identify the teens. He’d like to see them prosecuted both because he was hurt, and to prevent them from being hurt themselves.

“I’d hate to see the kids get all messed up,” Alsobrooks said. “They keep picking out people to beat up, at some point they’re going to run into somebody with a gun. It’s a shame to see kids not doing something more positive with themselves.”

Alsobrooks said the officer took his name but told him to go to a Detroit Police precinct to file a full report. Alsobrooks said he’s still debating whether to follow through — but will for sure if pictures of the teens surface.

Detroit Police Officer Cassandra Lewis with the Office of Public Information said Thursday the department had no comment on the incident.

Alsobrooks’ friend, Jamie Wheatley, 45, of Royal Oak said he posted details about the attack on Facebook Tuesday. By today, the posting had been shared with others more than 1,000 times.

“I’m mad as hell about this,” Wheatley said today. “I wanted people to watch out, if those kids tried to post the pictures, so the police could trace the posting to see who they are.”


Is he not asking for money because he's a class act, or because he's oblivious that kickstarter is now being used to fund self-serving and relatively trivial causes?

Either way, I think I want to organize a flash mob to attack his grungy looking suit with Lysol at the next summer festival.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fine Dining

Christina Hendrix is in Detroit right now to shoot a movie, and she told Esquire Magazine about a little gem she found here:
"I think I might have had the best pizza I've ever had in my life the other day at Supino. It kind of blew my mind. This is a pretty bold statement 'cause I've had many pizzas in my day, but I think this is the best I've ever had. And my husband was like, 'I think you're right. I think this is the best pizza.' And he used to work at pizza places, so he's like Mr. Pizza. It was amazing."

Christina, don't you know that Slow's BBQ is the only restaurant that you're supposed to name-drop when you visit Detroit?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ad Nauseum

I mock an over-publicized white entrepreneurial guy, and some people got all butthurt about it. Maybe I should have just used a captioned picture to mock him.

Jason Lorimer really stepped in it when he posted his kumbiya bullshit about Detroit. Who knew an internet meme would get so much coverage? I mean a lot of coverage, and more well deserved mockery.

There are so many great ideas to plagiarize. Let's start with this:
This just feels like a better fit, doesn't it?

Reassigning this caption is the obvious move.

The "white entrepreneurial guy" meme didn't gain enough momentum in time to stop this puff piece. Don't you just love the phrase "barbecue entrepreneur"? How about the fact that the "barbecue entrepreneur" isn't even named? It's going to be hard for the writer of that piece to play the tongue-in-cheek card after the fact when half of the piece is about more white entrepreneurs.

What else can I do with this photo?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Elasticity of Empathy

Whenever people try to convince me to come out for a fundraiser put on for one individual's health care costs, I always find it a little off-putting. There are people all across the country with serious health problems that need money, and it's like they're competing with each other for everyone's disposable income. When the solicitations aren't made to be emotionally compelling, they can seem like popularity contests. The fundraiser for Adam O'Connor seems to have equal portions of both. The story of his illness could only be topped if it was happening to a small child.

This fundraiser stands out because it's "sponsored" by Adam's employer, Real(?) Detroit Weekly. It wouldn't surprise anyone that one of their employees doesn't have health insurance, but this guy is the editor. And check this shit out. The piece they did to promote the fundraiser includes the line "Many of you may be aware of the fact the hospitalization is not cheap, even for those with insurance". They don't come out and say that their editor has health coverage, but they allow you to arrive at that conclusion yourself. If we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were giving him some kind of coverage, that coverage was so shitty that it's not enough to cover the cost of keeping him alive. That's right, keeping him alive. That basic thing health coverage is supposed to do.

Events like these should include some outrage. Something like "Why the fuck are still having to put on fundraisers to save people from medical traumas in 21st century America?". Before anyone tries to cite Obamacare in the comments section, let me remind you that most of that law doesn't kick in until 2014. In addition to that, employers with less than 8 full-time employees will be exempt from its new requirements. If Real(?) Detroit Weekly doesn't already slip underneath that threshold, I'm sure they'll finagle something so that they'll slither under it.

This Adam guy is no less deserving of your $10 than anyone else (except maybe sickly small children), so if you've got nothing better to do tomorrow night, go to that place in Ferndale that you always got confused with the Magic Stick when you first started coming out to shows. It will be all the same people you run into all the time anyway, and that's never bothered you before. The only exception will be that the people who think they deserve to get into everything for free will get the shaming at the door they rightfully deserve.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lazarus, Come Forth

Oh my god you guys! Our favorite defunct blog, Eat This City, has finally come back. One of my field reporters was at there at the right time, and the right place to record the Dynamic Duo reconciling.

I really don't care what they post about, I just wanted the comments section to come back.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Overdue Links

We'll have to wait until spring to find out if Detroit has enough hipsters and yuppies to support a Whole Foods.

After becoming adrift in the space-time continuum, Bobby Harlow finally returned to our time to put out a new album with his old band, The Go.

The inside joke painted on the wall of a building in Hamtramck was painted over in a blatant act of pandering. We all know that with the shortage of unadorned walls in Hamtramck, we must reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Outgoing editor of the Metro Times uses the word "journalistic" on his way out. If a horrific crime happened at the retirement party, would the Metro Times cover it?

Speaking of the Metro Times, the rumors are kind of true, but not as bad as everyone expected. The Blowout will drift over to Ferndale for an added weekend, but will still have a Hamtramck presence. While crime is an obvious explanation, it could also be that the City of Hamtramck once tried to send a bill to the Metro Times for all of their Blowout related expenses.

I thought Carpenter Street on the north side was the dangerous part. (Okay, enough links about Hamtramck)

A sophisticated and urbane entrepreneur has added our fair city to his stable of destinations. Let's all blush together on the count of three.

Our pet theories for what's wrong with Detroit are way off. We need an outsider to deliver his own cookie cutter libertarian pet theories, which are far superior.

Did this show have a big turnout because it was free, or because the people who don't normally come out to this sort of show could feel confident that they weren't the only one paying to get in?

The Daily Show just aired a piece on the Matty Moroun bridge debacle that must have been shot over two months ago. Way to strike the iron while it's hot.