Best Person to Run for Mayor of Detroit
The former key cog in boss Ed McNamara’s Wayne County political machine, a one-time county prosecutor, and the guy who engineered a deal that sold the nonprofit Detroit Medical Center, Mike Duggan has already been anointed the city’s next savior by the mainstream media. But now, with the endorsement of MT’s readers, he might be unstoppable.
Best Person to Be Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager
If nothing else, our readers have a great sense of humor. The wooden, white-bread Romney imposed on Detroit by his Lansing soulmate, Rick Snyder? Now that’s a true hoot. On the other hand, the guy is the king of vulture capitalists, so, if the plan is to sell off the city’s assets, then, from Snyder’s vantage point, there might not be a better fit for Motown than the Mitt.
Best Person to Be New President of Detroit’s City Council
Kenneth Cockrel Jr.
Here’s the thing about Cockrel: No matter what, he’s a Detroiter through and through. No one ever accused him of having too much charisma, but he’s honest and steady and reasonable and accessible. He’s someone the people of Detroit can trust to look out for their interests, and he’s not someone who’s going to show up on YouTube displaying a set of washboard abs.
Best New Job for Charles Pugh
The current president of the Detroit City Council (a guy who did show up on YouTube showing off his abs) has announced that he won’t be runnning for the office again. Our readers had no shortage of suggestions regarding the next career he should pursue, many of them unflattering — from corralling canines (“dog catcher”) to rounding up rubbish (“garbage man”) while others gently pricked him for his dandy self-absorbtion, suggesting, among other occuupations “aerobics instructor,” “underwear model” and “bow tie model.” In the end, though, a majority of voters thought the best choice for Pugh would be for him to return to his previous career in television broadcasting.
Best Person to Vote Off Detroit City Council
All of them
Be careful what you wish for, dear readers. Now that Kevyn Orr has been appointed emergency finanical manager (and soon to be emergency manager, if you care about such details), Detroit’s residents are about to find out what life is like with no elected represenatives, or at least not any with any real power. Sure, the council has its share of goofballs and blowhards, but at least the people of Detroit had the right to vote them out of office.
Best Way to Improve Relations Between Detroit and the Suburbs
Link the city and suburbs with an effective mass transit system
Overwhelmingly, our readers (correctly, we think) identified mass transit, in one form or another, as being key to this region’s future well-being. And the really, really good news is that the state Legislature and governor, with the backing of elected leaders from throughout the area, finally overcame 40 years’ worth of futility and created the Southheast Michigan Regional Transit Authority, which will be in a position to finally create a coordinated system linking Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. This is very good news, and one reason we can all hope that this region can come together and actually prosper.
Best New Building for Dan Gilbert to Buy
Michigan Central Station
Unlike the train station’s current owner, Manuel “Mr. Burns” Moroun, multibillionaire Dan Gilbert actually does something with the Detroit properties he buys. At last count, the founder of Quicken Loans owns 15 downtown office buildings, and is a driving force in the effort to build a light-rail line along a short stretch of Woodward Avenue. Wherever Moroun goes, there is a giant sucking sound, and the faint whiff of brimstone. Gilbert brings life and energy and lots and lots of cash. Just look at his beautifully restored Madison Building. Then check out that hulking, vacant, deteriorating masterpiece that is the train station, and allow yourself a bit of reverie, thinking how wonderful it could be if Gilbert really did take control of it.
Best New Slogan for Detroit
This is why we ask questions like this of our readers: because we know they will always deliver. The selection of suggested slogans for Detroit ranged from those steeped in hard-bitten, exclamatory snark (“Going for broke!” and “Duck!”) to the deadpan (“At least it’s not Beirut” or Flint or Cleveland) to the hip (“The Berlin of America”) to the politically profound ( “Where Ayn Rand’s Dream Is Reality”). Some found humor by cutting close to the bone (“Houses: $29 or two for $50”), or displayed a little chest-thumping pride in the dystopia (“It’s a fucked-up mess, but it’s OUR fucked-up mess”). In the end though, more than anything else, was the winning note of hope. “We’re back.”
Best Slogan for Michigan
“I’m Smitten with the Mitten”
OK, so maybe our readers don’t always deliver. Smitten? But even if that clinker did come out on top, there were more than a few others that gave us a chuckle, including “Talk to the Hand,” “Great Lakes, Bad Politicians”and “Where did everybody go?” And then there what can only be described as our sentimental favorite: “We may look like a hand, but we’re all heart.” Awww.
Best New Nickname for Kwame Kilpatrick
Inmate No. 702408
Our felonious former mayor hadn’t yet been convicted on an array of federal charges related to the criminal enterprise that Kwame Kilpatrick and his crew were running out of City Hall, but they could obviously see the writing on the jailhouse wall. As for that new nickname, it’s a handle the one-time political star with seemingly limitless potential will probably be hauling around for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on how good his behavior is.
Best Local Social Activist
Grace Lee Boggs
At 97, Boggs has earned the title “living legend.” The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she earned a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr and then went on to make her mark as a lefty intellectual, a feminist, and a social activist. She’s co-written three books — including collaborations with husband Jimmy Boggs, who died almost 20 years ago — and authored two books on her own, including a remarkable autobiography titled Living for Change. In 1994, she co-founded Detroit Summer, “a multi-racial, inter-generational collective” that serves as a training ground for activists, attracting young people from around the country each year. And her longtime home on the city’s east side has been transformed into the nonprofit Boggs Center, which was created “to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible and just communities,” as described on its website. “Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals, we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.” In her view, the crumbling of Detroit represents the failure of capitalism, and its rebirth will come not from the actions of elected leaders, but through action at the grassroots level, building up. She’s one of the reasons the urban agriculture movement is now a key part of the city’s regneration. In progressive circles around the world, she is reverered. And here at home, we know that she’s truly the Best.
Best Local Nonprofit Organization
The Salvation Army
The primary mission of the Salvation Army, as its name implies, is to save souls. Many of us, though, see it as a great way to save money by shopping at its thrift stores, buying up donated clothing and household items at bargain prices. The Army sprang from the poverty-stricken slums of East London in 1865 and landed in Detroit two decades later. We’ve all seen the bell-ringers shivering alongside their donation kettles at Christmastime, but a lot of people might not be aware of all the other good things these Christian soldiers do throughout the year, from disaster services to social services, feeding the hungry, providing shelter to the homeless and helping the addicted get off drugs and alcohol. There’s also the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic, which provides free legal assistance to individuals from Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne counties who live at or below the national poverty guidelines.
Best Recent Change in Detroit
New businesses and residents, construction and renovation, from downtown to midtown
There was a time not all that long ago when people would have been hard-pressed to identify any real positive change occurring in Detroit. Not any more. From the regional cooperation needed to pass a millage that put the Detroit Institute of Arts on a solid fincial footing (and enabled the museum to offer free admission to area residents) to the thriving Eastern Market to the expanding urban gardening movement there is much good going on that people can point to — including voter passage of an initiative legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana in the city and voter support statewide for a publicly owned span across the Detroit River that will end the monoply enjoyed by Matty Moroun and his Ambassador Bridge. But most heartening of all, in the eyes of our readers, has been the blossoming of midtown and downtown, with once-vacant buildings being renovated and people —many of them young and full of enthusiasm — deciding to make the city their new home.
Best Recent Change in Southeast Michigan
Creation of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority
It took more than 40 years of trying, but thanks to a lot of grassroots pressure, political leaders from around metro Detroit and in Lansing were finally able to all get on board at the same time to create the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. As a result, this area will now have what every other major metropolitan region of the country has — a single entity to coordinate mass transit throughout the region. The lack of an RTA is one of the big things derailing this area’s progress. Its creation, though, is only the first step for bringing a truly regional transit system to Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. A board has to be put in place, and a funding system established, but the biggest roadblock — a willingness to come together as a region (at least in terms of providing mass transit) is now, thankfully, at last behind us.
Best Local Journalist
Our readers obviously appreciate that, along with being a reporter who generates one big scoop after another (Wayne County Judge Wade McCree is currently in some hot water as result of a story Charlie originally broke, and his reporting on the deplorable conditions at Detroit fire stations was absolutely first-rate), Fox2’s LeDuff is also an exceptional showman. Unfortunately for Charlie, who embraces the image of being a guy unchained, he may have recently showed a little too much, having just been arrested after allegedly taking a piss in public (he’s also accused of getting into a brawl and biting a security guard) at the St. Paddy’s Day Parade in Corktown. On the other hand, the escapade will almost certainly fuel interest in his new book, Detroit: An American Autopsy.
Best Local Newspaper Columnist
Jack may be the hardest-working guy in journalism. He’s ombudsman for the Toledo Blade, a political commentator for WUOM-FM (Ann Arbor’s public radio station), and the interim head of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University, where he’s been a longtime instructor. He’s also the Lou Gehrig of newspaper columnists, gracing the pages of the MT for 20 years, without ever — ever, ever — missing a week of his wildly popular “Politics & Prejudices” column. There are more than a few out there who read P&P because it makes their right-wing blood boil (and, on many occasions, arousing the ire of those who bleed blue as well), but, the thing is, people keep reading him, and then commenting on what he writes. Love him or hate him, no one can ever doubt exactly where Jack stands on an issue. Whether he’s using blunt intellectual force or stinging sarcasm, the one thing he’s not is a fence-straddler. And that’s what makes him the best.
Best Overlooked Local Story
Bill Schuette’s war against medical marijuana
The local roller derby scene
We have to admit, the world of local roller derby hasn’t gotten much ink from us over the past year — although a bevy of these hard-rolling gals did form the pictorial core of our Best of Detroit issue two years ago. Please accept our mea culpa for the oversight in 2012, ladies. You are a tough bunch — even those of you in the overlooked Darlings of Destruction junior league — and we sure don’t want you rollling our way with mayhem on your minds. As for state Attorney General Bill Schuette and his energetic efforts to narrow the scope of the state’s medical marijuana law — which was, we should point out, overwhelmingly passed by the people of this state — there’s no doubt that it is an important story. Though the issue might not have gotten much attention elsewhere, MT’s Larry Gabriel has kept a close eye on the legal issues (as well as other aspects) involving medical marijuana in his “Higher Ground” column every other week.
Best Local TV News Station
WDIV Channel 4
With the rock-solid Devin Scillian and Carmen Harlan (more about her below) in the anchor chairs, and the team known as the “Local 4 Defenders” on the job (not to mention a bevy of other well-seasoned reporters), ClickOn Detroit is the station that clicks with our readers when it comes to TV news. It’s also the place to be at 10 a.m. Sundays, when Scillian hosts Flashpoint, which features a roundtable discussion of the week’s hottest topics.
Best Local TV Newscaster
WDIV Channel 4
We love our Carmen Harlan, who’s billed as WDIV’s “most recognizable face.” And a lovely, freckled face it is. But the Mumford High and University of Detroit grad brings much more than her good looks to the anchor desk. She is what we expect in a news anchor — a steady, dependable, intelligent straight shooter who is dedicated to the community she helps keep well-informed.
Best Hair on a Local TV Newscaster
WDIV Channel 4
We suspect its not just the coiffure, but the movie-star gorgeous face beneath it that inspired our readers to give her the best-hair nod. But what’s most impressive is she does the ’do she does despite having to start her day at 2 a.m. to make it into the station in time to anchor WDIV’s morning news show. It is unfathomable to us how anyone could have a good hair day rising at that ungodly hour, but this Detroit native does it with apparent ease and impeccable style.
Best Local TV Morning Show Personality
It’s hard not to notice the playful twinkle in Jason Carr’s eyes, a look that suggests he’s enjoying some joke the rest of us aren’t quite in on. That fun-loving spirit is just what folks are looking for in the host of a mid-morning program, called “The Nine,” that bills itself as “part talk show, part morning radio zoo, part newscast.” Grab yourself a bowl of bacon and join in the fun.
Best Local Radio Personality
Best Local Radio NewsI Talk Show
Craig FahleI The Craig Fahle Show
Here’s the thing we find most impressive about Craig Fahle and the show that bears his name: The live weekday broadcast, which airs from 10 a.m. to noon (and is repeated in the evenings from 7-9 p.m.) is an amazing amalgam of arts, culture, music and the most current of hard news — and Fahle manages (wih the help of hard-working producers Joan Isabella and Amy Miller) to sound like he is well-informed about everything, no matter what’s being discussed. The questions are insightful (we know, because we’re on the air with him for the final segment every Wednesday) and the phone-in debates are vigorous. This is public radio at its best.
Best Local Radio News Station
With news director Jerome Vaughn at the helm, and senior news editor Quinn Klinefelter, plus Pat Batcheller manning the mic in the mornings and MT alum Travis Wright at the desk during All Things Considered in the afternoons, the crew at WDET makes sure we’re up to date about everything local worth knowing.
Best Local Radio News Reporter
We’ll let the lady speak for herself:
“Next to God and my family, WWJ is my life. It is a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place to work … always something new, unexpected, sometimes frightening, sometimes funny. Always challenging! You can hear me Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.” That enthusiam and dedication comes across the airwaves, which is why people keep tuning in, and why our readers gave her their vote.
Best Local Radio Music Show
Ann Delisi’s Essential Music
If you are going to be listening to music on the radio on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ann Delisi’s show is, well, the essential place on the dial to be. Charming and extremely engaging, she serves up what’s described as a thoroughly hand-picked combination of great contemporary music and the classics you need to hear. ADEM features music made in Detroit, along with live in-studio performances, interviews and special features.” At a time when so much on the airwaves is canned and prepackaged, Delisi and her show bring us life, live.
Best Local Sports-Talk Radio
Valenti & Foster
WXYT-FM, 97.1 (The Ticket)
Mike Valenti and Terry Foster are the kings of local sports-talk radio for good reason: They make a great team, bringing a kind off yin-yang vibe to the show with Valenti as the designated hothead — he once went on an epic, 12-minute tirade aimed at his Michigan State Spartans — while Foster, who also writes for the Detroit News, is the older, cooler head.
Best Professional Athlete
When it comes to hitting, you can forget the arument about Cabrera being the best the Tigers have and start talking about all of baseball. In helping lead his team to the World Series last year, Miggy became the first player to win baseball’s Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1967. Cabrera, a right hander who made the move to third base to make room for power-hitter Prince Fielder, batted his way into the ranks of the truly elite by leading the American League in batting average (.330) home runs (44) and RBIs (139). The American League MVP award last year was well-deserved. But we want more of you, Miggy — we want that world championship. Get out there and help bring it home. We’re counting on you.
Calvin “Megatron” Johnson
Forget the readers who joked about the best Lion being Simba, or at the Detroit Zoo. After years of futility, capped by a major dropoff last season by a team that had finally seemed to have some real promise, there are plenty of places for disguntled fans to point the finger of blame. Calvin Johnson, however, isn’t one of them. Megatron is flat-out awesome, a fact even the most ardent Lion-haters would have to admit. Last season, on a team with a pitiful running attack and few other offense weapons to attract the attention of defenses, Johnson smashed the receiving record set by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in 1995, becoming the first player in NFL history to gain more than 1,900 years receiving in a single season. Simba, our ass. There is at least one geat Lion in Detroit, and he is Megatron.
Best Red Wing
Considered to be one of the best one-on-one players in the NHL, Pavel Datsyuk is the only Red Wing remaining from the team that brought home the Stanley Cup in 2002. But he still has jaw-dropping moves — a coast-to-coast goal against the Nashville Predators earlier this year proves that — and he can still use his stick the way a magician wields a wand, making the amazing happen.
OK, given the sorry state of the Detroit Pistons these days, being considered the top pick in this bunch isn’t exactly the same as being singled out as the best of the Bad Boys. But at 6 feet, 11 inches, and 280 pounds, the center from UConn is a big man who can move, and there aren’t a lot of those in the world. He’s been hampered by back injuries in this, his second year, but among those who know the game, he’s seen as a young player with enormous potential. The best reason to hope the Piston’s might have a brighter future? Maybe so.
Best Local Amateur Athlete
Tiny Ninja, Detroit Derby Girls
This year’s Best Of honors are a repeat performance for the jammer known as Tiny Ninja (aka Christina Lulianelli) of the Detroit Derby Girls. She won in the same category last year as well. Having earned an appearance in the Drew Barrymore movie Whip It, the tattooed TN is obviously a fan favorite. Keep those wheels rollin’.
Best Coach or Manager in Michigan
If all you did was listen to the fans who call in to the local sports-talk radio shows, you’d think that Jim Leyland is an idiot. Which only goes to prove what idiots a lot of the people who call into sports-talk radio shows. The Tigers lose a game and the phone lines light up: “Why didn’t Leyland call a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the ninth?” some yahoo will bellow. Here’s the difference between that yahoo and the man we affectionately call “The Skipper”: In the history of Major League Baseball, only seven managers have won pennants in both the American and National Leagues; Jim Leyland is one of them, while you, Mr. Yahoo, are not. He has his name attached to a world championship (with the Florida Marlins, in 1997), while you, Yahoo, do not. He led the Pittsburgh Pirates to three straight division titles, and has three times been named Manager of the Year. What about you, Yahoo? We thought so. So shut the hell up, will you please? Because, above and beyond all his certified accomplishments, Leyland comes across as a true Stand Up Guy, taking the heat for slumping players, never, as far as we can tell, thowing them under the bus. As far as we’re concerned, our readers hit this one out of the park.
Best Bowling Alley
4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit;
Talk about aging gracefully. This marks the 100th year they’ve been setting up pins and knocking them down over at the Garden Bowl, which is part of midtown’s Majestic entertainment center. Built in 1913, it can lay claim to being “America’s oldest active bowling center.” Over the years it has evolved from being considered a “working man’s country club” to the home of Rock ’n’ Bowl, where DJs spin and you roll. There’s even a stage suspended over the lanes for bands to play on. What more could you want? Glowing lanes, you say? You got ’em.
Best Local Music Festival
Movement Electronic Music Festival
May 25-27, 2013
Hart Plaza, Detroit
This is it, the big kahuna. The Movement festival draws countless technophiles from all over the globe for a fabulous few substance-fueled days, with both classic and groundbreaking recording artists tracing three decades of electronic music history. And if that weren’t enough of a draw, the various parties, afterparties and all-night shindigs turn Detroit into a 72-hour party that — like all great Detroit parties — just doesn’t stop.
Best Place to See a Mainstream Film
Emagine Royal Oak
200 N. Main St., Royal Oak
What sets Emagine Royal Oak apart from other moviehouses? Amenities, baby. We’re talking luxury seating that allows you to reserve your spot ahead of time. There’s also D-BOX Motion Seating, which uses high-tech motion systems to synchronize the movement of your seat with the film, bringing you right into the action. Better still, the Royal Oak location offers alcoholic beverages, a nod to adults who want a little mixer with their movie.
Best Place to See an Indie Film
Main Art Theatre, Royal Oak
118 N. Main St., Royal Oak
Year after year, the Main Art Theatre is picked by our readers in this category. There aren’t many frills here other than your usual popcorn and Jujubes. What there is, though, is programming. In fact, Main Art has remained so committed to bringing the very best in foreign and independent film to metro Detroit, it’s a first stop for anybody serious about the genres. And it also hosts local film events, such as the Mitten Movie Fest. And for the cultists, there’s the appealing Midnight Madness film series that runs all summer long.
Best Local Film Festival
Ann Arbor Film Festival
Various locations, Ann Arbor; 734-995-5356; aafilmfest.org
Though film festivals such as Sundance have become virtual farm-team feeding systems for Hollywood and — to a degree — have codified “indie film” as an aesthetic, there’s the contrasting example of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. As our film writer Corey Hall once put it: “Ann Arbor maintains essentially the same vision it began with: serving as a showcase for eclectic, independent, experimental and utterly uncompromised works of art.”
Best Place to See Live Local Theater
4743 Cass Ave., Detroit
This is sort of a surprise choice. Given that Detroit has its share of professional theaters, such as the Detroit Rep, the Ringwald, even Ann Arbor’s Performance Network, it’s interesting that our readers went with this rotating repertory graduate theater. It must be the excitement of seeing actors grow into their craft — and it can’t hurt that Mario’s is right down the street. (And, no Detroit City Council wasn’t an acceptable answer.)
(Now called Lake St. Clair Metropark)
31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Twp.
A perennial favorite among our readers, the beach at what’s no longer (officially) called Metro Beach is just one of the attractions at this splendid, 770-acre Metropark. Be it windsurfing or kiteboarding, bicycling or swimming, basketball or horseshoes, miniature golf or shuffleboard, or just strolling along the boardwalk, there’s something here for everyone. Along with the Olympic-sized swimming poll, waterslides, squirt zone and nature trails, the place also offers great people-watching opportunities. There’s few other places in the Metro area where this melting pot that we are is more on display. It’s a joyous, peaceful place.
Best Place to Bike
Dequindre Cut and Detroit Riverfront
In 2009, what used to be a Grand Trunk Railroad line reopened as the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a 1.35-mile long strip that connects the Riverfront to the Eastern Market. With separate lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists, there’s plenty of room for everyone along this 20-foot-wide paved pathway. The turning of the riverfront into a public place has been one of the biggest improvements to Detroit in recent years, and the Cut is part of that.
Best Nature or Hiking Trail
2240 W. Buno Rd., Milford; 810-227-8910
Be it cross-country skiing in the winter or hiking the rest of the year,
Kensington Metropark, with its 4,481 sprawling acres of wooded, hilly terrain surrounding Kent Lake, is definitely a great place to go if you are looking to get your nature on.
Best Public Golf Course
Rackham Golf Course
10100 W. 10 Mile Rd., Huntington Woods; 248-543-4040
Rackham, which opened in 1923, was designed by Scotsman Donald Ross. Flat and walkable, the course still offers a workout — and a challenge. Trees, deep roughs and unexpected sand traps ensure a player’s skill will be well tested. But with rates peaking at $36 for 18 holes in the summer, the one thing this course will be easy on is your wallet.
Best Disc Golf Course
5975 Edward N. Hines Dr., Northville
Hudson Mills Metropark
8801 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter
A part of lovely Hines Park, Cass Benton is an 18-hole course in a beautiful setting, considered a lot of fun to play, with a good mix of shots and plenty of challenges for players of all skill levels. Hudson Mills Metropark features not one but two 24-hole courses, so there is a lot to choose from at this park located about 12 miles north of Ann Arbor. In addition to the disc golf, the park features dense woods and wetlands filled with wildlife, so the overall experience of playing there is hard to beat.
Best Dog Park
Swift Run Dog Park, Ann Arbor
Platt Road south of East Ellsworth Road, Ann Arbor; 734-994-2780
You’ll have to spring for a permit to use this park, but it’s really so big that even one or two laps around the place and the pooches may be ready for a nap. Best of all is a shaded area for the people where they can keep an eye on their furballs.
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Detroit
Tigers, Lions and Red Wings
Metro Detroiters love our sports, and the city really hops anytime the Lions, Tigers or Rew Wings are playing. If it weren’t for catching games, some suburbanites would never come downtown, which is too bad. But at least we have football, baseball and hockey to help bring us all together. Now, if only we could get the Pistons to leave Auburn Hills.
Best Reason to Go to Midtown Detroit
The Detroit Institute of Arts, among other museums
For some people, high culture doesn’t leap to mind when you mention Detroit, but, hey, why shouldn’t it? We have the Detroit Institute of Arts, with priceless collections of art from around the world. We have the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, displaying a wide array of the best the art world has to offer. There’s even the Detroit Historical Museum, fresh off an amibitious makeover. Yeah, we got yer culture!
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Royal Oak
OK, you jokers, (one wag said “douche bag-watching”), there are plenty of reasons to go to “the Joke,” (other answers included shopping, dining, bar hopping, ROMT, Main Art, and, heh, “to get frustrated parking your car”) but sometimes it’s just cool to sit on a park bench and see what the night drags in, from motorcyclists to girls to just plain guys in cargo shorts.
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Ferndale
Rust Belt Market
22801 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
Ferndale’s Rust Belt Market is rad. It isn’t easy for two people to run a huge, 15,000-square-foot space, having to pour all the money right back into the business. What’s more, by rights the place should be open every day, even though the proprietors simply don’t have the money in their budget for that. If they could only scrape together enough capital, they could … well, we’ll let them tell you what they could do. Take a look at the kickstarter site at tinyurl.com/rustbeltmarket. If you want to help this totally awesome endeavor out, the way will be clear
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Birmingham
It seems our readers have a serious love-hate thing going on with Birmingham, with some pretty dramatic class overtones. The losing answers included “to feel poor,” “for a selection of steakhouses you can’t afford,” “to look at the snobs,” “make fun of rich people” and “to see how the other half lives.” OK, OK, we get it. But the true winner in the bunch was a no-brainer: high-end shops and those great movie theaters! The area around Old Woodward thronged with shopping options, ranging from cute boutiques to outposts of proud national chains. And with the Birmigham 8 a stone’s throw from the Birmingham Palladium, and film programming that ranges from the arty and exotic to the crowd-pleasing and comedic, not only do you get the show that’s just for you, there’s likely a good place to discuss it over coffee or drinks afterward.
Best Reason to Go to Windsor
377 Riverside Dr. E., Windsor
Har-de-har-har. Some of the joke answers included “19th birthday,” “nudie bars,” “to make fun of socialists” and “Tylenol 3.” But the winning answer was far and away the casino. For almost 15 years, Caesars Windsor has provided guests with gaming and entertainent, hotel accommodations, bars, spas, restaurants, indoor pools, gyms and nightclubs. That’s a lot more to do than just craps — even if you do like to roll them bones.
Best Place To Turn if Facing Foreclosure or Eviction
Detroit Eviction Defense
Here’s the thing about Detroit Eviction Defense: They get the fact that neither the court nor the banks (especially the banks) can be counted on when it comes to helping people avoid foreclosure or eviction. Some members of this coalition — self-described as a “network of homeowners, union members, faith-based activists, and community advocates” — have been involved in this struggle for years, and they’ve learned that what does work is public pressure and resistance. Protesting in front of banks and blocking Dumpsters from being parked in front of homes and packing courtrooms — that’s what works. And their ranks continue to grow because those helped become part of the movement. But you don’t have to wait until the sheriff is pounding on your door to get involved. Contact them at [email protected] or call AJ at 313-429-5009.
Best Detroit Statue to Visit
Hazen S. Pingree
Grand Circus Park
The statue itself is just some old-timey-looking guy in a double-breasted frock coat leaning forward on a chair trimmed with fringe. He looks kind of mean, actually. The words on the plaque attached to the statue’s base are the really striking thing about this tribute to the man who served as Detroit’s mayor and then Michigan’s governor at the tail end of the 1800s. A successful businessman and war hero, what made him the “Idol of the People” that the plaque describes him as was this: “He was the first to warn the people of the great danger threatened by powerful corporations, and the first to awake to the great inequalities in taxation and to initiate steps for reform.” He was a courageous visionary who looked out for the best interests of common folk, and Detroit could so much use someone with his heart and mind today.
Best Investigative Reporter on TV
WXYZ, Channel 7
The flash might be over at FOX 2, but the real goods are delivered by the investigators at Channel 7, with Jones’ work at the forefront. He’s the guy who broke the severance-pay scandal that led to a (still ongoing) FBI investigation of Wayne County government, and his scoop about the illegal real estate dealings of Diane Hathaway is the reason she’s a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice who recently pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud. All his good work has been earning Jones (who, to top things off, is a certifiably nice guy) bundles of awards. The Detroit Society of Professional Journalists named him the area’s “Young Journalist of the Year” in 2012, and he’s a big part of the reason WXYZ recently brought home an ultra-prestigious Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.
Best New Addition to the Detroit Media Scene
This online-only effort features both original reporting and comment along with a daily round-up of all the top stories in the local, state and national media about metro Detroit. With Bill McGraw, who worked for the Detroit Free Press for 32 years, and Allan Lengel, who worked for the Detroit News and the Washington Post, at the helm, the quality is first-rate. The work of the irreverent, sharp-witted Jeff Wattrick is consistently a kick, and the lineup of contributing columnists features, among others, MT alum Sandra Svoboda.
Best Nonprofit Anniversary To Celebrate
Motor City Blight Busters
17405 Lahser Rd., Detroit
Come June, it will be 25 years since John George decided to address the decline of his Old Redford neighborhood on Detroit’s northwest side. He started by going over and boarding up an abandoned home that had been turned into a crack house. That act served as the starting point for what has become Motor City Blight Busters, one of the city’s most lauded — and downright effective — nonprofits. From that one-man crusade, the organization has become an institution that attracts some 10,000 volunteers a year who donate their time to, among other things, tear down or fix up abandoned homes. In this, its silver anniversary, Blight Busters is directing much of its effort into expanding its Farm City Detroit project from a pair of lots to two whole city blocks. They’d like nothing more than for you to come on down and help. Don’t forget to bring along your work gloves, because these folks are definitely focused on making many good things happen.
Best Way to Ensure Patients Have Access to Medical Marijuana
In 2008, 63 percent of Michigan voters declared that people suffering from certain ailments should be allowed to use marijuana as medication. The referendum they approved, however, failed to address the issue of dispensaries, and after the law was implemented, scores of these distribution joints began operating under a legal haze. In February of this year, the Michigan Supreme Court, in the case State vs. McQueen, essentially ruled that dispensaries were illegal. In terms of patient welfare, that was a horrendous decision. Instead of having safe and secure access to their medicine, patients were left hanging. Sure, they could grow it themselves (if health and living conditions permitted) or they could try and find a caregiver. But crops fail, and other things can go wrong. Which is why dispensaries are vital. Fortunately, state Rep. Michael Callton (R-Nashville) gets it. His solution is HB 4271, otherwise known as the Provisioning Centers Act. It seeks to give municipalities the authority to permit and regulate dispensaries. It is an important piece of legislation, and the best thing you can do to help a very large number of truly deserving patients is to urge your legislators to support it.
Best New Job for Bill Schuette
Not a receptionist just anywhere, mind you. We think the state’s attorney general needs to go to work in a clinic that specializes in writing recommendations for prospective medical marijuana patients. That way, he would spend his days seeing the wide variety of truly suffering people who aren’t looking to get their party on, as BS surely believes, but rather just want some relief from their suffering. It would provide the sort of enlightenment that would make the state’s foremost anti-marijuana crusader see just how wrong-headed his attitudes are. At the very least, come 2014, we all need to make sure that Schuette is forced into a job-hunting mode.
Best Place to Turn If You’re Busted for Pot
2930 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit
As the name suggests, this Detroit-based law firm specializes in marijuana-related cases. In recent years, they’ve been very active in the area of medical marijuana, representing patients, caregivers, clubs, collectives, dispensaries and others. With attorney Matt Abel at the helm, it’s not just a business, it is a crusade. That’s reflected in the fact that Abel is also executive director of Michigan NORML, so the firm’s offices serve as a spearhead of the pro-marijuana movement in the state.
Best Thing to Look Forward to When Democracy Returns to Detroit
If there is still a Detroit City Council come November 2014, there’s going to be a real opportunity for voters to shake up things on that body in a big way. Because of changes made in the new City Charter, seven council members will be elected by district, and two will be elected the old way, at-large. Aside from preventing council members from being clustered in the tonier parts of the city, the move could open up the field to a whole new batch of contenders, especially those people who have labored away at the grass-roots level, establishing credibility and trust with their neighbors, instead of relying on name recognition. What’s more, council members elected by district will be responsible for certain areas of the city in a way at-large council people never were.
Best Longtime Attempt at Racial Healing
Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion
525 New Center One, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit
The good folks at the Michigan Roundtable nonprofit have been working to overcome racism and discrimination since 1941. Crossing racial, religious, ethnic and cultural boundaries, they bring together community leaders and regular citizens from all areas of life in an attempt to help us all understand the perspectives of others. And then they look for ways to break down barriers and build unity. It is a beautiful thing. If you want to get involved to the organization’s website and check out the upcoming gatherings and ongoing projects, or just give them a call. They would love to hear from you — all of you.
Best Example of a Local Politician With True Populist Grit
The Democratic state representative from southwest Detroit first earned our admiration when she stood up to bridge baron Manuel “Matty” Moroun. Ever since, we’ve only seen her come down on the right side (which would be the lefty side) of the important issues facing Detroit, the metro region and the state. She’s also fiercely protective of her constituents’ interests. And she’s willing to lay everything on the line. Literally. There’s no better proof of that than the sit-down protest she led last year, blocking traffic along Fort Street as she and about 30 others showed their opposition to the planned closing of Southwestern High School. We love that sort of fighting spirit. The mainstream media has been pimping mayoral candidate Mike Duggan by repeatedly asking, “Is Detroit ready for a white mayor?” Here’s an even better question, “Is Detroit ready for a Muslim woman to be its mayor.” The answer should be a resounding yes, and we know just the person to fill the bill.
Best Law to Strike Down
Oh, wait. We already did that, by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent. But with Rick Snyder in the governor’s office and Republicans controlling both houses of the state Legislature, a lot of good it did. Just ask the people of Detroit how well the democratic process is working these days.
Best Emergency Manager for Detroit
Jesus of Nazareth
Why does the Son of God get our nod for the EM job? Given the intractable problems facing the city — too much debt, too much infrastructure to support, and not nearly enough people living in the city or local businesses providing taxes to pay for it all — it might just take a miracle will be able to save Detroit from bankruptcy. Absent the appointment of a loaves and fishes miracle-worker like JC, the fear is that whoever becomes EM is going to slash and burn, selling off irreplaceable public assets before seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, leaving the city even poorer in the long run. Instead, we need an EM who will toss those damn moneychangers from the civic temple known as City Hall.
Best Thing to Not Publicly Subsidize
New Hockey Arena
We love our Red Wings, but if billionaire Mike Ilitch and the rest of his clan want a new venue for their hockey team to play in, well, they can afford to pay for the whole thing themselves. They’ve got all that Little Caesar’s dough, and if that’s not enough, Marian Ilitch owns MotorCity Casino, a place that mints money. Throw in all those Foxtown properties (which, like the publicly subsidized home of the Tigers, Ilitch also owns, and will benefit greatly from having a new hockey arena in the neighborhood) and its pretty clear: they have a hell of a lot more disposable cash than Detroit.
Best Example of Schizophrenic Radio Programming
WDFN — 1130 AM
By day, the Detroit-area radio station known as “The Fan” is sports talk through and through, with a mix of some local (you da man, Matt Shepard) and national programs. But come evenings during the week, the station is transformed into a place where left-leaning hosts talk politics and news. First there’s Jonathan Kinloch, who’s behind the mic from 7 to 8 p.m., and then Tony Trupiano takes over from 8 to 11. Trupiano, who tends to focus a lot on labor-related issues, landed at the Fan after Clear Channel completely shut down station 1310 AM, which featured the only all-progressive talk on the local radio airwaves. On the other hand, WXYT/1270 AM has abandoned its experiment with right-wing radio talk to once again focus completely on sports. The only lamentable thing about that is the loss of Charlie Langton’s show, which — unlike some of the station’s other shows, which featured full-blown wingnuts as hosts — at least provided a forum for real debate.
Best Example of Radio Longevity
Nightcall on WRIF-FM, 101.1
Now in its 42nd year, “Nightcall” is billed as the “longest running talk show in U.S. radio history.” Hosted by the venerable Peter Werbe — a prominent part of the local lefty scene since the mid-1960s — and, since 2006, co-hosted by Juline Jordan, the program is a progressive touchstone that has more than earned its place in radio history. Werbe lives by the motto “Thou Shall Question Authority,” and he drives the hard-core right-wingers completely bonkers. Gotta love that. And for those who can’t keep their ears open long enough to catch a program that airs from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., you can listen anytime via podcast.
Best Detroit Development Opportunity
Michigan State Fairgrounds
This venerable site — 157 acres of publicly owned land at the intersection of Woodard Avenue and Eight Mile has the potential to be so much more than the glorified shopping mall/housing development the state intends to have a private developer build there. The good news is, until the property actually changes hands, nothing is final. Activists see the site as the perfect spot for a regional transportation hub now that the regional transit authority has been established, and the potential for forward-looking, transit-oriented development could turn the property into the sort of showcase that could attract worldwide attention.
Best Planned Project to Abandon
Widening I-94 in Detroit
The state is look ing to spend $1.8 billion to expand a 6.7-mile stretch of I-94 in Detroit. As we reported earlier this year, critics describe the proposal as “a boondoggle that will do more harm than good, threatening the burgeoning recovery of areas such as Midtown while pouring public money into an outdated and ineffective 1950s-style auto-centric transportation model when it should be considering new ways to address a decades-old problem.” Enough said.