Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Flying over the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit


One particular YouTube user flew a drone over much of the Warrendale neighborhood. The resulting video shows our section of Detroit from Ford Road north to Warren Avenue and from the Southfield Freeway east to Evergreen Road.

I have never seen the Warrendale neighborhood from this vantage point before. I have to admit that Detroit looks good from the air.

In fact, when I first saw what it looked like to fly over Detroit, I knew that I had to publish his video here so that everyone else in Detroit and beyond could see it.

And so I am.

Ladies and gentlemen, flying over the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Review - "Forever and a Death"

Forever and a Death  by Donald E. Westlake (Hard Case Crime)
Cover painting for the novel by Paul Mann

Like so many great novels, there is a story behind Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake that rivals the suspense of the fictional prose itself.

Donald Westlake had long ago established himself as one of the grandmasters of the suspense novel. Newsweek proclaimed him to be, "one of the great writers of the 20th century" while the San Francisco Chronicle observed years ago that "Westlake's ability to construct an action story filled with unforeseen twists and quadruple-crosses is unparalleled."

It was with that as background that United Artists Studio in Hollywood commissioned Donald Westlake to write an original screenplay for an upcoming James Bond movie. What Westlake eventually produced for them was a thrilling tale of a businessman who seeks revenge against the entire island nation of Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, the studio was nervous about the political implications of his story. They stuck his screenplay on a shelf and largely forgot about it.

Not wanting to waste what he thought was an exceptionally good story, Westlake converted this tale into a novel with a protagonist other than James Bond. The result of that was this novel, Forever and a Death.

Unfortunately, Donald E. Westlake died on December 31, 2008, before this book could be published. After two decades of delay, this story is finally available for readers to savor - complete with an afterword by Jeff Kleeman, one of the producers who helped to connect Westlake with the James Bond project in the first place.

One of the things that impressed me about this novel is that, even though Westlake wrote it decades ago, time did not dull its heart-pounding edge. The reader will no doubt notice something that places it as having happened in the not too distant past - with its references to pay phones, fax machines, and other things that have largely disappeared from everyday life - but there is still a thrilling quality to Westlake's writing that is as timeless as ever.

The characters are vivid. The dialogue is sharp. The way police inspectors are skeptical at first but eventually swayed into action by the evidence of our villain's plot rings amazingly true.

James Bond illustration by Tumisu/Pixabay
I highly recommend Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake for any reader who enjoys James Bond stories, devours the original works of Tom Clancy, or simply loves a good thriller.

Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake is available from Amazon.com or from your local bookseller.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Loud explosions in Rouge Park today - don't worry

Bomb squad vehicle - Photo by Raymond Wamsgans/Flickr
The Detroit Police Department has announced that their bomb squad will perform training exercises in Rouge Park this afternoon. Residents and visitors are cautioned that they may hear loud explosions but there is no cause for alarm - it's only a training exercise.

According to a statement from the Detroit Police Department, these exercises will happen at the archery range in Rouge Park, which is near Joy Rd. and Spinoza Dr. This is expected to begin at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Residents and visitors are also asked to avoid the area around the Rouge Park archery range while this training exercise is happening.

All 5 endorsed candidates move on to November

The primary election was this past Tuesday across Detroit and the rest of Michigan. It narrowed the field from dozens of contenders to the top two candidates who will move on to the general election in November for the offices of mayor of Detroit, members of the city council, and city clerk.

This blog made a total of five endorsements for these important offices in Detroit. I am thrilled that all five candidates have made it past the primary and will move on to the general election, which is set for Tuesday, November 7.

Congratulations and best wishes, therefore, go out to:
  • Mike Duggan for Mayor of Detroit;
  • Gabe Leland for City Council (District 7);
  • Brenda Jones for City Council (at-large);
  • Janee Ayers for City Council (at-large); and
  • Garlin Gilchrist for City Clerk.
I wish each of these candidates the best of luck as we move forward the election season in Detroit.

The history behind the streets of Detroit


There's a lot of history in the streets of Detroit - so much so that we forget how our streets themselves came to be in the current location. Thankfully, though, a friend of mine came across this short documentary that was originally produced by Wayne State University about the historic streets of Detroit.

In this short video, entitled Detroit's Pattern of Growth, Robert J. Goodman, a professor of geography at Wayne State University, and Gordon W. Draper explain how Detroit's street design went from a collection of ancient trails developed by Native Americans into the cityscape that we know today. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Light the Block - Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week


One of the many things that I love about Detroit is many ways that ordinary Detroiters find to solve everyday problems as a community. Cherry Selene and his Light the Block initiative is a perfect example of this.

When he noticed how dark his block was for pedestrians walking by, he started attaching motion-activated lights to wooden posts - the perfect thing to give light to pedestrians walking by. The lights themselves are powered by solar panels that charge batteries during the day.

Additional information about this project can be found on the Light the Block's Facebook page, which can be found here.

It has been too long since I've declared anything to be the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week. Regardless, Light the Block is one of those things that warrant bringing this feature back.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Detroit Police President Condemn President's Trump call for mistreatment of prisoners

President Donald J. Trump - Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr
During a speech to police officers in Long Island, New York, President Donald J. Trump called for a harsher treatment of prisoners who are taken into custody. "Please don't be too nice," the President pleaded to law enforcement. In response, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners passed a resolution last week that condemned his remarks.

The Police Commissioners in Detroit stated in their resolution that rough or abusive treatment of prisoners is not only contrary to the Constitution, it is also counterproductive to efforts of community policing. They also remarked that, "along with (President Trump's) actions through the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, continue to roll back police practices to a rudimentary era of physical abuse, unlawful confinement, and wholesale discrimination that endangers all of our human rights."

Their resolution also condemned President Trump for using "an ethnic slur in his speech, a stark reminder of how ingrained discrimination has been in law enforcement and how some officials have used police powers systemically to intimidate people based on their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or heritage, as Irish immigrants once experienced. It was especially disturbing that President Trump’s audience included Suffolk County police officers, whose former chief right now faces prison for beating a man."

President Donald Trump has not responded to the Police Commissioner's resolution as of today. If he does have a response at some point in the future, it will be reported on this blog.

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners consists of seven individuals who are elected by district as well as four members who are appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan. They are mandated by the City Charter set policy for the Detroit Police Department, help to set the budget for the department, and other relevant matters for our police.

More details about the President Trump's speech - as well as a video of it - are available here. The full text of this resolution from the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners is available here.