Best Of 2014

Our readers, again, voted for mass transit, in some form, as the key local policy initiative that we should get behind. But the positive news stemming from last year’s implementation of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority, the first successful attempt in four decades, dissipated this year, as the agency’s board opted to hold off until 2016 to wage a ballot campaign to raise funds for a coordinated system linking Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. We can only hope when the time comes, voters see the benefits in such a system and how it can benefit the region and help all of us in metro Detroit prosper.

Now, we know Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s election bid had its share of ups and downs: legal challenges to his candidacy, being booted from the ballot. And sure, pulling off a win as a write-in campaign was seen as a big deal. (He was an underdog!) As far as we can tell, the election of Duggan was a sign of hope to many; a show that good things are happening in Detroit. At the very least, in his short tenure he’s offered up a number of novel proposals; in his State of the City, Duggan pitched a citywide auto insurance program. The big question is: Will Big Mike follow through with his big ideas?

Before Detroit entered bankruptcy, perhaps high culture wasn’t on most minds across the country. But the prominence and recognition of the Detroit Institute of Arts has soared since then, as debate rages on if the museum’s priceless collection should be sold in a fire sale to appease creditors trying to suck every last dime out of Detroit’s coffers. It’s still worth mentioning, and helps the museum’s recognition locally, that residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties can visit the historic institution for free thanks to a millage passed by voters that supports the museum’s operating budget.

A favorite of MT 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 pool, waterslides, squirt zone and nature trails, the place also offers great people-watching opportunities. There’s few other places in the metroplex where this melting pot that we are is more on display. It’s a joyous, peaceful place.

We were brought to tears for minutes — nay, hours — by Mitch Albom's 'get off my lawn'-ish ode to the Beatles and why he believes they're Still the Greatest Band Ever in a Freep Sunday package in February. Albom's piece was antagonistic, really playing to his audience — which is more hip-replacement than hippie. But then Freep columnist Rochelle Riley doubled down on the newspaper's Beatles commentary the very next day, in a piece titled 'Why I love the Beatles.' Riley offered a personal anecdote on the moment she realized she fell for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who wrote songs 'that make you feel something.' That may not mean much of anything, but it was like a Lennon-McCartney tune compared to how Albom's piece made us feel — like we wanted to die.

We’ve spilled plenty of ink over Manuel “Matty” Moroun throughout the years. The grinch-like, goblin-faced billionaire owns and maintains, if you can call it that, the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor. The 86-year-old has viciously campaigned against a potential second span, funded almost entirely by the Canadian government. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has made the second bridge a priority of his administration, but Moroun, ever the greedy old man he is, has bought off a number of state lawmakers in a campaign to impede any sort of progress. By the looks of it, the bridge could be constructed by early next decade. In the meantime, we agree with our readers, Moroun deserves a cream pie or two — gently delivered right in the kisser.

Talk about aging gracefully. Operating for more than a century, the Garden Bowl has 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.

The train station near downtown has decayed into such a brooding, century-old hulk that it made news this year when someone surreptitiously installed new windows in it. That hulking Beaux Arts masterpiece has been decaying for years, and promises from Matty Moroun that it will be preserved don’t seem to add any actual gleam to it. …

… But Detroit has been trying to demolish its way out of blight for almost 100 years. (How’s that going?) Plus, MCS isn’t standing in the way of anything, and it would be terrifically expensive to raze. As Corktown resident Putnam Weekley told us earlier this year: “I meet so-called enlightened people who say, ‘We should bomb that place and raze it to the ground.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, what are you going to replace it with?’ I kinda like the economy that’s built up around the train station. I mean, my whole life revolves around the train station. I’ve got my bank, the place I work, the grocery store, my house, my bar. It just circles me, and it’s beautiful.” So, yeah, maybe we should consider possibly saving Michigan Central Station! Hell, what about building it into an intermodal facility with commuter rail, light rail and buses, shops and office? Now that would be something. But …

You gotta try the banana coffee if you go. A well-established joint with outstanding breakfast fare, including a burrito the size of a football, Toast has won accolades from a particular monthly glossy numerous times and has won the hearts of MT’s readers too.

Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional gambling spree? Not MT readers, it seems! Even after you’ve lost your loot, or if you’re on a hot streak looking to take a break, Greektown offers up a well-rounded atmosphere with plenty of decent food options nearby.