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Monday, May 18, 2009

A Night Out With Willie... in Detroit

Another dandy of a Sunday night in downtown Detroit with the Downtown Hoedown at the culmination of the weekend.  Willie Nelson closed the show in a fashion that only Willie could.  He brought all of Detroit together for some ol' time, hootin' and hollerin' fun.  Jeff and I wanted to be a part of it, and we almost were not.  Here's the story.

About 7pm I pick up Jeff and head downtown.  You can't beat free parking at Greektown Casino, which we utilized before walking to Foran's Grand Trunk at Congress and Woodward. On the way we saw a Ford Explorer with Lamborghini doors, which seemed excessive.  We had a drink there and got some food (I had the Turkey Ruben and Jeff had the corned beef topped Foran's burger, both highly recommended by rad-aholic).  The bar is housed inside what used to be the ticket office for the Grand Trunk Railway, thus the name.


Foran's Irish Pub was rad!

The bar is long and skinny with friendly bartenders with lots of tattoos and tons of Red Wings fans.  The discussion got around to other bars in Detroit and The Town Pump came up.  It was still about 30 minutes before Willie was to come on so we decided trek uptown a bit to Montcolm and Park to make a visit.

The Town Pump was not quite as historic as we thought ( it was established in 1996), but they pour a good drink.  We stayed there for one and were able to ask the owner about the history of the building.  He told us it used to house a bar and stage where so-called "smoker shows" (where women would perform raunchy songs and poetry filled with innuendos) were held back in the day.  I think at one point he also said it used to be a laundromat.  The floors above the bar used to be a bunch of hotel rooms but have been transformed into 1-bed apartments that are rented out to mainly service industry workers.

Willie was going on but we decided he would play well into the night and so we stopped at The Centaur across the street from The Town Pump... same owner.  The Centaur is more of an upscale martini bar type lounge with a loft housing what looked like a VIP area.  We sampled the Centaur martini (awesome).  


The owner had told us about the history of this building as well.  It used to house a vertically situated toothpaste factory that produced Iodent (the invention of a chemist from Ann Arbor).  It also had a store front that sold tires, overalls and of course the main attraction, toothpaste.  After that is housed a "ghetto" party store selling "loosy" cigarettes (singles).  According to the owner it was bad for business and eventually he decided to turn the bottom floor into The Centaur about 3 years ago.

After our tour of the theatre district bars we headed back to Hart Plaza to try and catch what we thought would be the last half of Willie's set.  Unfortunately, security at the Hoedown was tight and even though Willie was still on stage they were not letting anyone else in.  Convinced we were going to get in anyway, Jeff and I canvassed the perimeter of the grounds looking for the slightest opening but were met with security at every turn.  Eventually we made our way over towards the back of the stage where we could see and hear Willie playing his final few songs, "I saw the Light" being one of them.  After the show, we were able to catch a glimpse of Willie's front as he walked off stage and down to sign autographs and board his mural-sided tour bus.  People from all over Detroit had gathered in anticipation that maybe Willie would sign something of theirs.  I saw an old record, cowboy hats and even a guitar.  But to our dismay Willie did not make it to the back of the bus to acknowledge us.  He was hustled on the bus by security that looked like they were escorting the president on to Air Force One.

Willie, on the road again, heading down the whiskey river, to his next show.

On our voyage we did see at least one familiar face.  Crazy hippy guy from the Corktown celebration was there and this time he brought a friend, Crazy pants guy.  They were both their in all their glory sporting the most pins and buttons on two human beings with bell-bottoms I have ever seen.  To cap it off we did stop back at Foran's after Willie.  All in all it was an eventful evening, as all of our Detroit Sunday's have been.  

Friday, May 15, 2009

So sue me

According to Manuel "Matty" Maroun and a ton of coalitions (see next paragraph) from the city of Detroit have filed suit against the Federal Highway Administration, citing improper conduct in getting the approval for the second bridge being built over the Detroit River to Canada south of downtown Detroit.  

The Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) is leading the way along with Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED), the Detroit Association of Black Organization Inc., MANA de Metro Detroit, the Mexican Patriotic Committee of Detroit and Detroiters for Progress have jointly filed the suit which may halt construction of the bridge.

Mr. Maroun is no doubt trying to get this project shut down in order to save his new bridge project which he has started construction on without the proper permits or with community support.  Ahhh, when will the bridge wars end?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No Dancing?

Tyler Frost (Randy Roberts/The Courier)

Recently, a male high school student was suspended from school for... dancing.  He attends a Christian school that prohibits the satanic ritual of dancing and the school took a hard line suspending him.  He was not allowed to take his final exams in time and will not be allowed to graduate with the rest of his class this spring for... dancing.  

The story goes that this student, Tyler Frost, has a girlfriend that attends a very progressive high school that does allow dancing and even promotes it at an event called the prom.  Tyler chose to attend the prom at his girlfriend's school and there engaged in the treacherous act of... dancing.  Now the school says that he is suspended and Tyler argues that he was not on school grounds whilst partaking in the act of dancing (seriously this sounds like a story from "The Onion") and therefore should not be suspended.  The school stands by their ruling and may now be sued by Tyler and his parents.

Tyler spoke out this morning on "The Early Show" saying that he thinks he did the right thing and does not regret dancing at prom.  In related news I would like to invite all willing participants to a dance-a-thon across the street from Tyler's Christian school.  Seriously... no dancing...  I wonder if those kids are allowed to eat junk food or crack jokes?

Thanks to Mike Krumboltz and Yahoo Buzz for the story.  Click here for the original article.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Detroit's 2009 Downtown Hoedown

How could I have missed this until now?  Free country music concerts in Downtown Detroit, this is where the party is at!  I was checking out the line up at the AmericaJr website and saw Kevin Costner is performing Friday night with a band called Modern West.  I also saw that the Zac Brown Band will be performing on Sunday night before legendary country music singer Willie Nelson ends the weekend!  Now I am not the biggest modern country music fan but other notable performers (ones that I have heard of) include Rodney Atkins, Lee Ann WomackPhil Vassar and Josh Gracin.

This years marks the hoedown's 27th year.  There will be food and concessions there along the Detroit river front as well as good music and plenty of line dancing I'm sure.  So round up the dogies and get yourself down to the riverfront this weekend ya' here!  The hoedown will be going on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Jack White news and more from the bottom of the Detroit River


Jack White and his other side project Dead Weather have announced a Detroit show at the Fillmore on July 25th.  The stop comes in the middle of a 25 show US tour this summer.  Their new album, Horehound, will be released in Europe on July 13th and in the US on July 14th.  You can check out the tour schedule, album news and more at their website, .  Thanks to google news and their website for all the info and picture above!

In the Darkest Depths of a Dirty River

About two weeks ago the coast guard was doing some routine maneuvers in the Detroit River and came across a very valuable statue that has been missing since 2001.  Apparently it had been chucked into the Detroit River by the thieves.  At first they were unable to bring the sculpture to shore but on May 6th they surfaced the piece of art only to discover it was a statue that had been stolen from the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.

Detroit Police Department Dive Team divers felt “The Nude” in the Detroit River before they ever saw her.
"The Nude" in full view after being recovered from the Detroit River.

The bronze statue weighs in at a hefty 600 pounds and stands about 5 feet high.  It was sculpted by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880 - 1980).  A Philadelphia born sculptor known for her works in bronze and who studied with renown French sculptor Auguste Rodin.  She has won countless awards for her sculptures, a few while still a student.  Her early sculptures seem to fetch the highest prices.

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) helped train Harriet Whitney Frishmuth in the art of sculpture during her early years.

It has not been determined whether the statue will return to the War Memorial or if it will stay at the Dossin Museum on Belle Isle.  The museum is dedicated to preserving the hidden treasures of the Detroit River and houses the anchor from the famed wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  Whatever happens to it I am glad they found it, but also concerned about some of the other things that could probably be at the bottom of that unforgiving river.

Thanks to candgnews for the informative article and to wikipedia for the info on Frishmuth and Rodin.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Must See Movie... The Hangover

The Hangover (2009) Poster

I saw a preview for this movie on TV last night and must share it with everyone because it has all the ingredients for a classic.  View the trailer here.

Brought to you by the director of Old School and Starsky and Hutch comes The Hangover.

"In the face! In the faaaccce."

"We were messed up."

"Am I missing a tooth."

"This is my favorite part coming up right now."

"He's still got it."

Taste of Eastern Market now underway

Although I have not visited the Eastern Market in downtown Detroit yet I am intrigued by what they are now offering.  Beginning last Saturday nutritional experts will be giving free presentations and recipes to Detroiters at the Eastern Market every week.  Their aim is to present to the public the vast array of fresh and healthy food the Eastern Market offers each weekend and to get people eating healthier using these ingredients.

I say good for you Eastern Market!  I'll be down to visit some Saturday I promise.  Until then all you readers from Detroit should check this out.

Monday, May 4, 2009


A while back three of my best friends from college (Al, Steve and John) and I really wanted to hang out for a weekend like the old days.  Stay up way too late and drink too much beer.  We came up with this idea, a vacation where we all get together once a year and relive the glory days, dubbed Mancation.  

This year was our 1st Annual Mancation Event and I would have to say it was quite a success.  The location was Washington D.C. and the surrounding suburbs.  We stayed 5 nights with Steve in his Bethesda, Maryland apartment and had a raucous time.  This post will try to encapsulate the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this ode to manhood.

Al and I arrive by plane to Washington D.C. airport to find that our ride (Steve and John) is 
still at the bar and that we need to take the metro to Steve's place.  For me this is no big deal, navigating the metro can be fun, but I am really looking forward to the first beer of the trip and the 30+ minute metro ride seems too long.  The upside is that Steve had previously purchased metro cards for all three of us before we arrived so all our rides the whole week cost us nothing.

Al and I get off the metro at the correct station just outside Bethesda and Steve and John are waiting for us.  We head upstairs to Steve's apartment and ditch our bags but decide to stay in 
due to the large amount of beer already in the fridge and because Steve has to work the next morning.  Steve has taken a picture of us from the first year homecoming at our school and framed it with quotes from a Bowling for Soup song about friendship for all of us.  A little questionable but a very nice gesture (the picture is now propped on my dresser in my bedroom).  So we all start drinking pretty heavily, and end up deciding the song of the trip is "Single Lady" by Beyonce.  We start the Swingers and I fall asleep on the couch in my clothes.

Day 2

I wake up with a pounding headache, probably from the Stella, and turn on the giant TV in Steve's living room.  Al and John wake up and we decide to head downtown to take a self guided walking tour of our nation's capital.  We get off at the Chinatown metro stop and walk for 10 minutes in the wrong direction before walking back through the convention center and a teacher conference and back in the right direction.  

Our first stop is the Capital building.  It is huge and there is a reflecting pool in front of it that we stopped by to take some pictures.  We toyed with the idea of trying to vote on  some bills but we still had a lot to see and it was already 1pm.  Our next stop is the mall.  We walk from the capital building to the Washington Monument and decide the line is too long to wait to go up it.  Then we walk over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which is across the street, around a lake and up a bunch of stairs.  We have to take the same route back the Washington Monument and then over to the Lincoln Memorial, where the only thing we were missing were suits and a couple bottles of champagne.  Next on our tour was the White House.  We stopped in front and got a great view from Pennsylvania Ave.  I think we saw snipers on the rooftop but I am cannot confirm that.

Throughout our whole trip we were looking for something good to eat.  It was now close to 4pm and the three of us had not had anything to eat the whole day.  Needless to say we were a little cranky and couldn't decide if we wanted to eat at the Spy Museum or the over priced seafood place across the street.  So we did what guys always do.  We went to an Irish Pub called Fado.  Fado was slow, there was like one other group in there and they were sitting at the bar in work clothes.  So we grab a seat and some sandwiches and a couple beers.  Steve gets off work and meets us down there for some more beers.  My headache is now gone and my buzz is buzzing.  The food was great and now I am ready for the night.  

We stop at a beer store and grab some beer and champagne (for our non existent attempt to reenact Wedding Crashers) and head back to Steve's.  There we all shower and wash up for a night out in Georgetown, one of the D.C.'s many college towns.  Our cab ride takes forever but we get there and proceed to the nearest bar where we are approached by two Miller 64 girls.  They gave us some free t-shirts and bought us a round of Miller 64 just for buying our own round of 64.  We tried to find out where they were going after but they were hesitant so we let it go.  The next bar we go to has a special on Stella and a piano man.  We stay here a while and end up hearing a bunch of our requests including such greats as "Walking in Memphis,"  "Wagon Wheel," and others.  The piano guy ends his set but we are still in the party mode so we head to one more bar... we think.  At the next bar we are seated and I am getting pretty hungry.  The waitress informs me that they offer free cornbread for customers.  After a while, and still no cornbread, we flag her down to ask what's the deal.  She tells me that the cooks just tossed all the cornbread out for the night.  I proceed to think about how hard it would be to fish it out of the dumpster out back if need be... we leave this bar for another last stop.

At our last stop I think we are able to get one drink from Brad the bartender who tells us that we also have to leave.  So we slam our last drinks and head for the door and a cab back to Steve's.  That's all I remember, but apparently the cab ride back was about half as long and cost half as much as the cab ride down there.  And I know that Steve was late for work the next morning, but Steve does what he wants... and what.

Day 3

I have heard that D.C. has the highest Ethiopian population of any U.S. city and is known for authentic Ethiopian restaurants.  Today we will experience one of these restaurants in a popular suburb of D.C. called Adams Morgan.  So with my morning hangover still fresh we take the metro to Adams Morgan in search of an Ethiopian restaurant.  We find one on the main strip of the town and sit down on their patio to order.  Open air dining was important for John.  We each order our own food but it gets served to us on the same plate with what we called "spongy bathroom towel bread" underneath.  We are also give our own piece of dirty towel bread each on a plate.  Next our waitress brings out our food, each in their own bowls, and pours them on the spongy bread in the middle of us.  We are encouraged to tear off pieces of spongy bread and pick up the food with it... we share our food.

Meanwhile, I am sucking down the water until our waitress just leaves the pitcher on our table and John is trying to find out how to pay for our meal.  What happened next is probably the weirdest experience I have had while dining.  Al and I are sitting at the table minding our own when what appears to be a homeless man walks up and asks us for 30 cents.  We tell him we don't have any money on us, which is true since I used my debit card the whole trip.  The man then says, 

"Well, can I try some of that then?" pointing at the Ethiopian food still sitting on the table.  We said he could, but it didn't end there.  

He then asks Al, "Could you make it up for me in like a wrap?"  

So Al starts wrapping it and this guys yells, "No no no, not that much!"

The man then proceeds to take Al's knife, cut the wrap in half, and steal John's dirty napkin to hold it in.

"Mmmmm, this is good.  I just wanted a little... to see if I like the sauce.  I have never had this before" said the man before the bus drives by and he goes nuts, "Oh no!" and takes off down the street.

Al and I look at each other and start cracking up.  John missed the whole thing.

After lunch we meet Steve at this 1/2 off margarita joint by the metro stop and have a few margaritas served by a very exotic waitress.  Then we head back to Steve's for some beers, a shower and another metro ride back to Adams Morgan.  It is there we spend the whole night at Madam's Organ... clever name.  

Madam's Organ Blues Bar

We get our fill of Miller Lite and Vodka Red Bulls and make fun of the tiny airplane sized bathroom.  It is here that we also meet an addition to mancation named Dave.  Dave is a friend of Steve and John and also lives in the D.C. area.  He will join us for day 4 we decide.

On the way home from Adams Morgan we decide to start clapping 7th inning baseball style.  This is also the trip on which metro surfing is born.  Metro surfing can happen anywhere and at any time.  It consists of riding the D.C. metro, or any other metro without holding on to any supporting apparatus.  And under no circumstances are you allowed to sit down while metro surfing.  Surf's up!

Day 4

Our last full day on Mancation.  Our bar crawl through Bethesda, called the Back 9 Bar Crawl, starts at 2pm at Union Jack's.  We pay our entry fee and receive a score card with 9 bars on it.  We must visit each bar and get a stamp from the bartender before meeting with the bar crawl organizers at the final bar The Barking Dog.  It is there we will be able to enter ourselves in the drawing for iPod shuffles.

At the Union Jack we all order some food.  During this trip I ate about an average of 1.5 meals per day, but managed to gain 5 lbs.  In no way was it the massive amounts of beer.  After about 3 beers we decide to press on.  The next bar is the Hard Times Cafe and is kind of a bust.  We stay for one beer and head out.  I think there was a 10 year olds birthday being celebrated there.  

Being on the bar crawl did have its perks.  We were able to drink $2 Miller Lites and $3 Yuenglings all day long at every bar.  Sapphire has outdoor seating and we have a few rounds there before pushing on.  Next is the seafood bar where we stay for one beer.  Then comes The Harp and Fiddle.  After that it is The Blackfinn (there is one of these in Royal Oak) and then the Wing Hub (which was a cross between a fast food wing place and an outside music venue that serves beer.)  Tommy John's or Joe's or whatever, TJ's was next and was probably the best bar.  They had an open air courtyard bar with beer pong tables and the bean bag toss game also known as cornhole.  Steve and Al take over the cornhole game and decide that they win every game no matter what.  I think they even made up their own scoring system.  

We leave TJ's and vow to return after the drawing at the Barking Dog, the last bar.  It is here that I started to order food.  Chicken tenders, crab cakes and nachos plus a ton of beers and we are all ready to head back to TJ's.  John wins the iPod shuffle, which is completely unfair because he is already the tallest and best looking of the 5 of us, and Dave takes off for home.  But we pick up a few of Steve's friends from work and head back to TJ's.

I have had about all the beer I can drink and Al and I head home, but not before we convince everyone in the bar, including John's exotic lady, that we are a gay couple celebrating our upcoming wedding.  John's girl confesses that she thought we were all gay, she had been running into us all over the bar crawl.  Pictures from the bar crawl can be seen here, but this is the best pic of all.

2nd Annual Bethesda Back 9 Bar Crawl (112) by leftfieldentertainment.

When Al and I return to Steve's I make some pizza rolls and promptly fall asleep, with the pizza rolls in front of my face.  Al fell asleep with a beer in his hand and that is that.  

Day 5

We all wake up in anticipation of our Sunday ritual.  In college, after a Saturday night of partying, we would order cheap chinese take-out and watch a movie, dreading the work we had to do before Monday morning.  Nothing has changed.  The only chinese place that would deliver didn't offer lunch specials on Sunday, but oh well, it's mancation.  The movie...Pineapple Express.  

Our plane leaves D.C. at 4:35pm and we get on the metro at Steve's stop, 30-40 minutes away at 3:30pm.  We make it to the yellow line (the one that takes you to the airport) at about 3:45pm.  It drops us off at the airport around 4:15pm.  We check in at the desk at 4:20pm and are the last ones on the bus that taxis us out to the plane.

Mancation was over, but we almost got to stay an extra day.  Next year will be the 2nd Annual Mancation, "Walking in Memphis" taking place in Memphis at John's.  I doubt that it will be as long as our first, and we are planning on including some more friends.  Plus John has a high standard as host to live up to after Steve's over the top performance.  Thanks boys and here's to the next step!

Detroit will turn around

Although I am not an Eminem fan I do enjoy his letter to Detroit shown below.  All of us (suburbs included) need to pull together to save our amazing city!

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Second Night out at Four Green Fields, Bingo Style

I have posted on the Four Green Fields Pub located in Royal Oak on 13 mile and Woodward before and my previous review slanted towards the negative side.  But I recently joined a few friends there for a Wednesday night bingo session that was phenomenal.  It included $3 burgers and fries, $2 bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon (when can you get Pabst in a bottle?) and some awesome rockabilly live music courtesy of the lead singer of the hot 90's alternative band from Detroit, Sponge.  Here is how the night went down.

I called up my brother on Tuesday night to see if he wanted to get some dinner.  He was busy but we decided to get dinner the following night, probably somewhere in Royal Oak like the brewery or in Ferndale at the BW3's.  

The next night my friend Jeff (from calls me up and says there is bingo at Four Green Fields plus live music and prizes.  He tells me to be there at 8pm.  So I call up the broheim and we decide to go.  We get there at 8 and there are like 3 other groups there all eating dinner, I think there were even some kids.  I'm thinking this is another bust, like the last time... but we sit down anyway and order a very well priced burger and fries and a couple beers.  We get Pabst... in a bottle because we're classy.

Around 9 Jeff shows up with his posse and we all sit at a different table while the band sets up.  By this time the bar has filled up noticeably.  There is a huge group of folks at a table right in front of the stage, looking a lot like band fans.  There are also a few other tables that have now completely filled up and I am pleased that this could turn out to be a good night. 

Then it starts.

Bingo cards get passed out, free bingo cards!  The markers that we are to use to mark our cards with... smartees.  You know the sugar disc candies that you loved as a kid.  Totally Rad!  

Then the bingo caller starts drawing numbers, but announces that four corners does not count as a bingo.  The prizes that are laid out at a table are all swag from the recent SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas.  Apparently the band we are to hear tonight has just returned from the festival... a good sign.

The first person to reach bingo at our table is my brother.  He chooses two tickets to the Anvil show in Pontiac the day of my fiance's birthday.  Oh well I can't go, but I tell him I will anyway.  Anvil is a whole other story but let's safe it to say that they are the real life Spinal Tap and have just released their own film.

Next up for bingo is Jeff.  Who also picks up two tickets to the Anvil show, which I don't think either of them used anyway.  Then it's my turn finally!  When I get up to the table I ponder taking a poster but then decide on a rubber beer coaster advertising premium quality Chang Beer.

Bingo is over... the band starts.

The band is called The Orbitsuns, led by ex frontman for Sponge, Vinnie Dombrowski, and they are a loud, brash, alternative rockabilly country folk band.  Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it and stayed for both of their sets.  They played a good mix of original material and covers and ended with a blistering rockabilly sludge of a song called "Haul Ass."  Everybody was dancing and enjoying themselves.  They even invited Brandon Calhoon from "Rockstar INXS" fame to sing a tune.  

All in all it was a beer soaked, down home, trashy yet folky adventure that I would recommend to anyone who likes bingo, beer and great music.