December 28, 2022

The 2022 Dooby Awards: Recognizing Michigan’s most dubious newsmakers

Another year on the books, which means it’s time for one of our favorite traditions. No, we’re not talking about drinking Champagne and pretending that we know the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne,” although we do love that, too. That’s right readers, it’s time for our annual Dooby Awards, where we recognize the best of the worst, at least when it comes to making news. It was another year of steep competition, so without further ado, let’s take a look at this year’s most dubious.

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Detroit’s wild giant slide
Riding a dusty potato sack down the Belle Isle giant slide has been a summer rite of passage for Detroiters for decades. But when it reopened this summer after being closed for several years, videos quickly spread of kids violently flying down the slide. We remember getting our asses burnt on the slide in the blistering sun growing up, back when it was covered in yellow plastic, but we don’t remember being skyrocketed into space like these kids were. It got so bad the Michigan Department of Natural Resources took to Instagram to instruct people how to ride without getting hurt, and the slide was also temporarily shut down for “adjustments” to slow riders down. The out-of-control slide even made national news, appearing on CNN, The New York Times, and USA Today. Like a wise man once said, “you could break your back on the giant slide.” That wise man was Detroit rapper Gmac Cash, who unsurprisingly went viral for his humorous “Giant Slide” song. The track won Clip of the Year on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where Gmac Cash performed and posed with Kimmel, who donned a pair of coveted Cartier Buffs. —Randiah Camille Green
Drew Tarvin, Flickr Creative Commons

Detroit’s wild giant slide

Riding a dusty potato sack down the Belle Isle giant slide has been a summer rite of passage for Detroiters for decades. But when it reopened this summer after being closed for several years, videos quickly spread of kids violently flying down the slide. We remember getting our asses burnt on the slide in the blistering sun growing up, back when it was covered in yellow plastic, but we don’t remember being skyrocketed into space like these kids were. It got so bad the Michigan Department of Natural Resources took to Instagram to instruct people how to ride without getting hurt, and the slide was also temporarily shut down for “adjustments” to slow riders down. The out-of-control slide even made national news, appearing on CNN, The New York Times, and USA Today. Like a wise man once said, “you could break your back on the giant slide.” That wise man was Detroit rapper Gmac Cash, who unsurprisingly went viral for his humorous “Giant Slide” song. The track won Clip of the Year on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where Gmac Cash performed and posed with Kimmel, who donned a pair of coveted Cartier Buffs. —Randiah Camille Green
Michigan GOP’s historic fall
The Michigan Republican Party embraced far-right, Trump-worshiping conspiracy theorists – and they paid for it. In historic fashion, the Republicans lost control of the state House and Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years, and they didn’t come close to unseating the incumbent Democrats for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general in the November election. Instead of taking responsibility for the losses, Republicans blamed voters and are doubling down by trying to keep Trumpers in control of the party. —Steve Neavling
State of Michigan

Michigan GOP’s historic fall

The Michigan Republican Party embraced far-right, Trump-worshiping conspiracy theorists – and they paid for it. In historic fashion, the Republicans lost control of the state House and Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years, and they didn’t come close to unseating the incumbent Democrats for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general in the November election. Instead of taking responsibility for the losses, Republicans blamed voters and are doubling down by trying to keep Trumpers in control of the party. —Steve Neavling

Tudor Dixon’s terrible campaign
Even though we already recognized the Michigan GOP’s contributions to this year’s dubious achievements, an extra special honor goes to gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who ran a terrible campaign focused more on a fake moral panic over alleged “radicals [who] want a drag queen in every classroom, indoctrinating our children.” (We think “Fix the damn roads” had a better ring to it!) In a year when abortion rights was a self-inflicted major issue for Republicans, Dixon and the rest of the GOP had nothing to offer except for outdated “pro life” notions that apparently end once a fetus is born. In our eyes, her campaign ended during her final debate with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in which Dixon railed against books in schools “that are describing to children how to have sex.” (That’s called “sex education,” and it helps prevent the need for abortions.) At one point, Whitmer asked Dixon, “Do you really think books are more dangerous than guns?”, followed by what can only be described as a pregnant silence. —Lee DeVito
Shutterstock

Tudor Dixon’s terrible campaign

Even though we already recognized the Michigan GOP’s contributions to this year’s dubious achievements, an extra special honor goes to gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who ran a terrible campaign focused more on a fake moral panic over alleged “radicals [who] want a drag queen in every classroom, indoctrinating our children.” (We think “Fix the damn roads” had a better ring to it!) In a year when abortion rights was a self-inflicted major issue for Republicans, Dixon and the rest of the GOP had nothing to offer except for outdated “pro life” notions that apparently end once a fetus is born. In our eyes, her campaign ended during her final debate with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in which Dixon railed against books in schools “that are describing to children how to have sex.” (That’s called “sex education,” and it helps prevent the need for abortions.) At one point, Whitmer asked Dixon, “Do you really think books are more dangerous than guns?”, followed by what can only be described as a pregnant silence. —Lee DeVito
Detroit Police Department
Hoo boy, where to begin with DPD’s many dubious achievements this year. In February, Detroit police shut down a traditional sugarbush ceremony led by Indigenous residents who were collecting maple syrup in Rouge Park, a repeat offense for DPD. (The department apologized.) In September, DPD suspended Officer Janelle Zielinski, a bodybuilder who also had a side hustle running an OnlyFans account that the department apparently considered unbecoming of a police officer in what critics say is a sexist double-standard. (Zielinski resigned; she appears to still be making porn.) Then, in October, the department was ordered to pay $1 million for responding to protesters against police brutality with more police brutality. And let’s not forget former DPD chief Jame Craig leaving his position for an embarrassing run for governor, which started with a campaign launch event with inadequate security and basically ended with him getting knocked off the ballot for failing to collect enough valid signatures. —Lee DeVito

Detroit Police Department

Hoo boy, where to begin with DPD’s many dubious achievements this year. In February, Detroit police shut down a traditional sugarbush ceremony led by Indigenous residents who were collecting maple syrup in Rouge Park, a repeat offense for DPD. (The department apologized.) In September, DPD suspended Officer Janelle Zielinski, a bodybuilder who also had a side hustle running an OnlyFans account that the department apparently considered unbecoming of a police officer in what critics say is a sexist double-standard. (Zielinski resigned; she appears to still be making porn.) Then, in October, the department was ordered to pay $1 million for responding to protesters against police brutality with more police brutality. And let’s not forget former DPD chief Jame Craig leaving his position for an embarrassing run for governor, which started with a campaign launch event with inadequate security and basically ended with him getting knocked off the ballot for failing to collect enough valid signatures. —Lee DeVito
Great Lakes Coffee Co.
Workers at Midtown’s popular Great Lakes Coffee Co. went on strike earlier this year, demanding better working conditions and union recognition. But rather than have a union coffee shop, the company simply closed the store. It’s now slated to be taken over by the local Red Hook chain. —Lee DeVito
Steve Neavling

Great Lakes Coffee Co.

Workers at Midtown’s popular Great Lakes Coffee Co. went on strike earlier this year, demanding better working conditions and union recognition. But rather than have a union coffee shop, the company simply closed the store. It’s now slated to be taken over by the local Red Hook chain. —Lee DeVito
Corruption in Detroit
An ongoing FBI investigation into corrupt ties between the towing industry and the city of Detroit dubbed “Operation Northern Hook” led to bribery charges against at least five current and former cops this year. Also, Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey was sentenced to two years in prison in January for his role in the scheme. The bureau also raided the homes and offices of Councilman Scott Benson and former Councilwoman Janeé Ayers, though they have not yet been charged for any crimes. —Steve Neavling
Shutterstock

Corruption in Detroit

An ongoing FBI investigation into corrupt ties between the towing industry and the city of Detroit dubbed “Operation Northern Hook” led to bribery charges against at least five current and former cops this year. Also, Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey was sentenced to two years in prison in January for his role in the scheme. The bureau also raided the homes and offices of Councilman Scott Benson and former Councilwoman Janeé Ayers, though they have not yet been charged for any crimes. —Steve Neavling
The Duggan administration’s contract with Transdev
Detroit City Council was placed with an impossible decision — renew a contract with Transdev, the city’s subpar paratransit service, or leave the city’s disabled residents without free transportation. Many members of the disability community were against a renewed contract with Transdev, leading to council to reject it before a new operator could be secured. Mayor Mike Duggan initially said the city would have no choice but to reduce paratransit service by 70% in 2023, until the Federal Transit Administration said Detroit was violating federal law by failing to fully fund rides for disabled residents. To avoid federal oversight, Duggan then used his emergency powers to set up temporary paratransit services through four different companies while the city seeks bids for a permanent provider. He also lambasted the council, calling them “dysfunctional,” but many blind Detroiters were glad for Transdev to get the boot, and told horror stories of dealing with its chronically late drivers who frequently dropped them off at the wrong locations. (The U.S. Dept. of Justice is investigating possible civil rights violations.) The council actually listened to residents for a change, but it left Detroit in a terribly awkward position. —Randiah Camille Green
Shutterstock

The Duggan administration’s contract with Transdev

Detroit City Council was placed with an impossible decision — renew a contract with Transdev, the city’s subpar paratransit service, or leave the city’s disabled residents without free transportation. Many members of the disability community were against a renewed contract with Transdev, leading to council to reject it before a new operator could be secured. Mayor Mike Duggan initially said the city would have no choice but to reduce paratransit service by 70% in 2023, until the Federal Transit Administration said Detroit was violating federal law by failing to fully fund rides for disabled residents. To avoid federal oversight, Duggan then used his emergency powers to set up temporary paratransit services through four different companies while the city seeks bids for a permanent provider. He also lambasted the council, calling them “dysfunctional,” but many blind Detroiters were glad for Transdev to get the boot, and told horror stories of dealing with its chronically late drivers who frequently dropped them off at the wrong locations. (The U.S. Dept. of Justice is investigating possible civil rights violations.) The council actually listened to residents for a change, but it left Detroit in a terribly awkward position. —Randiah Camille Green
Wyland’s wailing
Robert Wyland is an artist known for his paintings of whales around the world. Hailing from the suburb of Madison Heights, Wyland painted the large mural on the side of Detroit’s Broderick Tower in 1997 as a part of his “Whaling Walls” project to raise awareness about environmental conservation efforts. Earlier this year, Bedrock purchased the advertising space on the side of Broderick Tower and covered the 25-year-old mural with a brighter, livelier temporary image of smiling faces done by native Detroiter Phil Simpson. People were upset, some even going as far as threatening Simpson, despite Michigan not even having whales in its lakes and Wyland being a non-Detroiter who, according to his Wikipedia page, now spends his time split between the Florida Keys, California, and Hawaii. The backlash became even louder once the news eventually got back to Wyland, who went on a white tears press tour expressing his disgust. — Alex Washington
Ray Rushing, Detroit Stock City

Wyland’s wailing

Robert Wyland is an artist known for his paintings of whales around the world. Hailing from the suburb of Madison Heights, Wyland painted the large mural on the side of Detroit’s Broderick Tower in 1997 as a part of his “Whaling Walls” project to raise awareness about environmental conservation efforts. Earlier this year, Bedrock purchased the advertising space on the side of Broderick Tower and covered the 25-year-old mural with a brighter, livelier temporary image of smiling faces done by native Detroiter Phil Simpson. People were upset, some even going as far as threatening Simpson, despite Michigan not even having whales in its lakes and Wyland being a non-Detroiter who, according to his Wikipedia page, now spends his time split between the Florida Keys, California, and Hawaii. The backlash became even louder once the news eventually got back to Wyland, who went on a white tears press tour expressing his disgust. — Alex Washington
Everything that caught on fire
It’s been a bad year for many staple restaurants in Detroit, with several long-standing eateries like Cass Cafe buckling under the weight of post-pandemic woes. What’s strange and unfortunate, however, is the number of restaurants that were destroyed by fires. Southwest Detroit favorite Taqueria El Rey was destroyed in January when a fire in its outdoor grill shack spread inside the restaurant. The family-owned taqueria has since been operating as a pop-up at Batch Brewing Company, with plans to come back as a food truck and eventually a new location in Lincoln Park. Traffic Jam and Snug was ravaged by an early morning fire in May, resulting in a total loss. It still stands, boarded up with scorched walls at the corner of Canfield Street and Second Avenue where it operated for over 50 years. Detroit’s oldest LGBT hangout The Woodward Bar and Grill closed after a devastating fire during Pride month, leaving patrons questioning whether the fire was a hate crime. The bar had been around since the 1950s. Corktown’s Mudgies also briefly closed after it was set ablaze by an arsonist. Then there’s the holdout house near Little Ceasars Arena that burned down in a suspected arson. It’s not a restaurant, but the crumbling house was one of the last residential properties in the area that hadn’t been bought out by the Illitch family. It had a $2.5 million price tag at the time of the fire, though it had previously been listed for as high as $5 million. —Randiah Camille Green
Lee DeVito

Everything that caught on fire

It’s been a bad year for many staple restaurants in Detroit, with several long-standing eateries like Cass Cafe buckling under the weight of post-pandemic woes. What’s strange and unfortunate, however, is the number of restaurants that were destroyed by fires. Southwest Detroit favorite Taqueria El Rey was destroyed in January when a fire in its outdoor grill shack spread inside the restaurant. The family-owned taqueria has since been operating as a pop-up at Batch Brewing Company, with plans to come back as a food truck and eventually a new location in Lincoln Park. Traffic Jam and Snug was ravaged by an early morning fire in May, resulting in a total loss. It still stands, boarded up with scorched walls at the corner of Canfield Street and Second Avenue where it operated for over 50 years. Detroit’s oldest LGBT hangout The Woodward Bar and Grill closed after a devastating fire during Pride month, leaving patrons questioning whether the fire was a hate crime. The bar had been around since the 1950s. Corktown’s Mudgies also briefly closed after it was set ablaze by an arsonist. Then there’s the holdout house near Little Ceasars Arena that burned down in a suspected arson. It’s not a restaurant, but the crumbling house was one of the last residential properties in the area that hadn’t been bought out by the Illitch family. It had a $2.5 million price tag at the time of the fire, though it had previously been listed for as high as $5 million. —Randiah Camille Green
The miseducation of Prop. 3
The 2022 election season in Michigan was a wild one, but perhaps no topic rattled the state more than Proposal 3. Due to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights in Michigan were threatened by a reverting to the state’s 1931 abortion ban. Proposal 3 called for the state constitution to be amended to give people the same reproductive rights that they gained under Roe v. Wade, which one would think would have been an easy pass, considering we’ve been living in a post-Roe country for nearly 50 years, but it wasn’t. Election season saw lies being spread from the Catholic church, highway billboards, and many candidates in Michigan’s GOP. In a race that was too close for comfort, Proposal 3 passed with 55.5% of the votes. —Alex Washington
Lee DeVito

The miseducation of Prop. 3

The 2022 election season in Michigan was a wild one, but perhaps no topic rattled the state more than Proposal 3. Due to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights in Michigan were threatened by a reverting to the state’s 1931 abortion ban. Proposal 3 called for the state constitution to be amended to give people the same reproductive rights that they gained under Roe v. Wade, which one would think would have been an easy pass, considering we’ve been living in a post-Roe country for nearly 50 years, but it wasn’t. Election season saw lies being spread from the Catholic church, highway billboards, and many candidates in Michigan’s GOP. In a race that was too close for comfort, Proposal 3 passed with 55.5% of the votes. —Alex Washington