Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Words on Wednesday: Hello Detroit!

Well, the 2010 Census numbers have been released and record population losses were recorded for Detroit and Michigan. There has been a lot of hand-wringing and Detroit-basing going on. There have been a lot of comparisons with the 1900 Detroit population numbers and the 1950 Detroit population numbers. Well, a lot of things have changed in the last several decades so what's the point of comparisons?

There are, fortunately, those who realize that good can come from change. Instead of highlighting the negatives, many are using the new Census numbers to affect postive outcomes. Things won't turn around overnight, but the population decline didn't happen overnight, either.

If you are one of the people who is pragmatic and realistic about the present, yet still positive about the future, the following famous song by the late, great Sammy Davis, Jr. will get you pumped. Learn from the past, but don't stay there. Understand the present, but don't wallow in it. Design the future you want, then work for it.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Words on Wednesday: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra--Why you SHOULD care

Detroit_symphony_orchestra_logo

Personally, I LOVE classical music. I learned it throughout school and I played it on several instruments throughout my public school and college educational experiences. Classical music is not, however, at the top of the musical taste list of many people. The City of Detroit has been graced with a world-class symphony orchestra for decades; but the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been on strike for almost six months--the Orchestra and management cannot come to an agreement on pay, work schedules, and other issues. Of course times are hard here in Detroit and the management insists that the players take a 33% pay cut; while the players have held fast to only (?) a 28% pay cut. 
Of course, some people in the metro area say either the players should be glad to take a huge pay cut, or that management should ust fire all of the players and hire players who would be willing to work for less money. Unfortunately, many people do not understand what it takes to become a world class orchestra musician. Orchestra players have been studying their craft for years--often decades--and have many, many years of specialized education. Many members have been with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra  for ten or fifteen years or more. Extremely talented and accomplished and experienced musicians such as these are supposed to earn in the high six-figures. They have worked hard to achieve their level of excellence. At the same time, management has to work within the reduced revenues they have now and will probably have in the future. Former Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Democratic members of Congress from Michigan offered a compromise in December 2010, but the orchestra management rejected the compromise.
Additionally, Detroit is supposed to have a world-class orchestra. Symphony orchestras are not "just for the rich and snooty". Highly regarded orchestras such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are important cultural foundations for major cities throughout the world, and Detroit's orchestra is one of the most highly accredited orchestras in the world. Detroit and Michigan should be proud and should do everything possible to end this strike and keep the orchestra as a shining example of a world class city.
The Max M.Fisher Music Center/Orchestra Hall is one of only a few acoustically perfect music halls in the world;p it was saved a restored a few years ago. The Detroit School for the Arts is affiliated with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra directly training the classical musicians of the future. Elite level classical musicians take years to develop.
People of Detroit and Michigan, classical music fans or not, SHOULD care about what happens to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. World class metropolitan areas have world class symphony orchestras along with exquisite museums and other cultural institutions. Classical music is beautiful and timeless; so is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. 


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Paczki Day: Hamtramck MI

This is a re-post in honor of one of my favorite holidays, "Paczki Day" in Hamtramck Michigan!

Update: One of these delectable treats is called a "paczek" [POON-check]; 
"paczki" [POONCH-kee] is already plural.



Hamtramck is truly unique: a "city within a city". Hamtramck is completely surrounded by the City of Detroit; so "suburb" is not a proper term. Except for a very small borderline with Highland Park, Michigan, Hamtramck is bordered by Detroit, including the I-94 and I-75 freeways.

1915 Dodge Touring Motorcar

Contrary to popular opinion, "Hamtramck" is a French name, not Polish. Although the city has been known as a "Polish" city for decades, the City is named for a French Revolutionary war hero, Colonel Jean Francois Hamtramck (1756-1803). In the late 1700s, Wayne County was divided into four townships: Detroit, Mackinaw, Segeant, and Hamtramck; of which only Detroit and Hamtramck survive. In the early 1900s, Hamtramck was populated mostly by German-American immigrants; it wasn't until the Dodge Brothers opened the Dodge Motor Company plant in 1914 that an influx of Polish immigrants came to Hamtramck. In 1922, Hamtramck incorporated itself as a city, in order to stave off being annexed to Detroit.

Hamtramck is Michigan's most internationally diverse city: although the Polish population has shrunk from 90% to 20%, the Middle Eastern population has increased, with immigrants from Yemen and Bangladesh helping to make up the almost 42% immigrant population (as of the 2000 Census). Schoolchildren in Hamtramck speak at least 26 different languages besides English.

 
Mitch Ryder
Several famous people are natives of Hamtramck, including Rudy Tomjanovich, Jr. ("Rudy T"), basketball player for the San Diego/Houston Rockets; Mitch Ryder (William S. Levise, Jr.), musician; Jane "Peaches" Bartkowicz, championship tennis player; Gail Kobe, actress and producer ("Twilight Zone", "Mannix", "Peyton Place"); Tom Tyler (Vincent Markowski), actor; John Hodiak, actor; and the Honorable al-Imam Warith Deen Muhammad (Wallace D. Muhammad), son of Elijah Muhammad, head of the Nation of Islam.

 
Paczkis with various fillings
The most famous holiday in Hamtramck is "Paczki Day". Paczki (roughly pronounced "poonch-kee") are traditional Polish doughnuts: deep-fried dough flattened and filled with fruit or sweet creams and covered with glaze or powdered sugar. On "Fat Tuesday", or the day before Lent, everyone in Detroit is "Polish" and "Paczki Day" is a day to forget about the diet and just enjoy Paczkis with friends, family, and co-workers. Luckily, "Paczki Day" lasts only one day, as Paczki have about 700 calories or more each! Although many stores around Detroit sell Paczki for Paczki Day, it is traditional to travel to one of the "real" Polish bakeries in Hamtramck on Conant or Joseph Campeau Streets, stand in line starting at 5 a.m., and purchase several dozen Paczki in white boxes tied with string.

The late Bob Bennett, an award-winning veteran TV reporter for WDIV/WWJ (Channel 4) in Detroit, has been credited with increasing the recognition and celebration of Paczki Day in Detroit; reporting every year from various Hamtramck Polish bakeries until his retirement in 2000.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

The 2012 "Avengers" Movie Will Be Filmed in Ohio instead of Michigan




Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) thought it was a great idea to eliminate the very popular tax credits for movie studios in Michigan. Over the past three years, Michigan developed into "Hollywood Midwest", bringing lots of jobs, tax revenue, and prestige as many big-budget and independent movies took advantage of the tax credits to make a variety of films in our state. Studies showed that for every $1 of tax credits, $6 was deposited into state coffers--the tax credits INCREASED the amount of money coming into the State of Michigan. Plus, many people who hadn't thought of visiting metro Detroit or Michigan had to chance to experience our area and gave rave reviews to various media outlets. In addition to the jobs, many previously unemployed people took advantage of the new industry to receive training for all of the ancillary film careers.

However, just the announcement that the governor MIGHT decrease the tax credits has already started a snowball effect of movie filming decisions being made to film in other states. The Avengers movie, for which the 2012 trailer has already been made, was scheduled to start filming in Michigan in the spring of 2011. Now, however, the state of Ohio is thrilled to host the filming of "The Avengers", and as a thank you, offered generous tax credits.

Michigan loses a burgeoning new industry--just the threat of reduced tax credits has already resulted in the loss of millions of dollars of badly needed revenue. Thanks, Gov! Great way to "move Michigan forward"! What a nerd!



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Words on Wednesday: RoboCop says that Detroit Needs the RoboCop Statue

A personal message to Detroit from "RoboCop" himself: actor Peter Weller. Funny-enjoy! 

I wrote a post about the idea of a RoboCop statue here; the organization raised the $50,000 necessary to initatie the project in less than a week! Congrats!

 

<div style="text-align:left;font-size:x-small;margin-top:0;width:512px;">RoboCop Speaks to Detroit from Peter Weller</div>

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Detroit is NOT Hiroshima!

Glenn Beck has done it again. The Faux News personality, who has lost more than 50% of his audience and advertisers in the last year, bashed Detroit on his show Monday night, February 28 2011.

Rational and thinking people have realized that Beck is delusional, crazy, and just out-and-out lies at his chalkboard on his show. His rantings make no sense, have no historical credibility, and are patently false.

Last night, Beck tried to compare Detroit to Hiroshima after the 1945 bombing. Of course, Beck blamed Detroit's problems on "progressives" and "unions". He said that Detroit could not put its problems on former President George W. Bush.

Quickly:
Point 1- Beck contended that Hiroshima rebuilt itself because of "private business"; he conveniently "forgot" to mention that Hiroshima was totally destroyed during a *real* war, and was re-built with the help of the United States Government. Yes, a government "bailout" assisted the people of Hiroshima to rebuild.
Point 2 - Beck contended that Detroit is destroyed because of the unions and the auto companies and progressive politics. He states that the auto companies should NOT have received federal assistance; of course he conveniently "forgot" to mention that George Bush issued the first loan to the auto companies just before he left office in December 2010. Beck also ignored the fact that the auto companies have come back stronger than ever--saving and adding hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
Point 3 - Beck contends that Detroit has been dying since the census of 1950. Yes, there have problems--lots of them--and the City has less than half the population it had in 1950. But of course, Beck "forgot" to mention--or is responding to--the POSITIVE changes in metro Detroit: the resurgence of the auto industry, the diversification of businesses, manufacturing, technology, and green technologies, etc.

People like Glenn Beck and others at Faux News and other far-right outlets continue to try to get the upper hand, not by true investigative reporting, but presently lies and extreme points of view to hold America and its cities and states (especially those that are Democratic) back from "Winning the Future".

If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. I would love to read your comments on the ongoing assault of Faux News and others like them against the middle class and the working people of America.

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