Thursday, December 31, 2009

Better Days

2009 has been a difficult year for many people in the Warrendale neighborhood and around the world.  All of that, however, comes to a close in a few hours.

I can't help but feel that there is something much better for all of us, right around the corner.

With that in mind, I want to dedicate this song to everyone.

I'll be back to blogging on Monday, with much to share and talk about. Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful, New Year's.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

It's the holidays! I know this not only because of the non-stop Christmas music that is playing in my house and the dozens of Christmas cards that are taped to my wall, but because the good folks at Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.) threw one of the best holiday parties ever last night.

Anyway, I am going to take a few days off from blogging to enjoy the holiday with the umpteen family members and friends who are returning to Detroit for a few days.  I will be back to blogging in full force on Monday, January 4th.

Until then, I want to wish everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What's Your Favorite Chistmas Carol?

Since traffic on this site has grown exponentially this year and a lot more people take the time to share their thoughts in my comments section, I thought it would throw a question out for discussion.

Ladies and gentlemen, what is your favorite Christmas carol?

As for me, my favorite one has always been "The Little Drummer Boy." In particular, my favorite version of it is the one done by Jars of Clay. If you're not familiar with this band, you can find video from one of their live performances below.

What is your favorite Christmas carol? Please leave a note in the comments section below with your answer.

Tip of the Week: Holiday Fire Safety

The Christmas season is a wonder time of the year.  However, it's an unfortunate reality that Holiday accidents result in 400 deaths, cause over $90 million in damages yearly and around 1,400 people are injured due to holiday fires.

This is a great time to review some basic holiday safety points.

As Sgt. Esterhaus used to say to me every week, "Let's be careful out there."  (Bonus points, by the way, to anyone who catches the reference.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Job Alert: Gracie See Pizzeria Is Hiring

I take no small amount of pleasure in reporting my third job opening in less than a week in the Warrendale neighborhood.

The folks at Gracie See Pizzeria (6889 Greenfield Rd.) are hiring a server.  They require that this person be at least 18 years of age.  Interested applicants are encouraged to apply in person.

As always, if anyone else knows of any job openings in or around the Warrendale neighborhood, please let me know.  I look forward to posting more openings soon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Follow Me, Please

When I started blogging, w-a-a-a-y back in 2004, pretty much the only way to read blog content was to visit the web site. Today, however, things have evolved. People can read this material in any number of different ways.

In fact, of the more than 300 people who read this every day, there are now five different avenues of getting this material.  With that in mind, I'd like to take a moment to recap each of them.

Some folks prefer to have blog posts delivered to their email inbox every morning.  If this sounds like something that you would prefer, simply enter your email address into the "receive email alerts" box at the right, click the "subscribe" button and my friends at FeedBlitz will send my posts to you via email every morning for free.  More than 30 other individuals follow the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog this way every day.

For avid Facebook users, I invite you to join the 87 other people who follow the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog on Networked Blogs. If you're interested, simply visit this blog's Facebook page and click the "follow this blog" hyperlink. My posts will then appear in your Facebook news feed.

My personal favorite is Google Reader, which enables you to follow any number of blogs and then read all of them all on one consolidated page, instead of having to visit each site individually. There are currently 20 Google users who follow this site via Google Reader. If you're interested in doing this, please click Google's "follow" button to the right of this post.

If you prefer to use a different RSS reader besides Google reader, simply your preference from the "Subscribe to RSS feed" pull-down menu at the right.  One can then add this to a Netvibes, Newsgator or Yahoo feed.

Of course, if you prefer to keep things simple, you can always simply bookmark this site in your web browser of choice and visit my site periodically. This is the original method of doing things. Quite a few people still do it this way.

I also want to remind everyone that, in addition to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog, I also author my personal blog, which is called The Voices in Frank's Head.  It features a lot of truly random content.

Regardless of how you find your way to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog, I thank you for visiting and taking a look at my content.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cool Warrendale Thing: Kosciusko

I posted before about the efforts to renovate and reuse the long-shuttered Kosciusko Elementary School (20220 Tireman St.) as a community center. The Detroit Community Design Center, which is a part of the University of Michigan's College of Architecture and Urban Planning, held a series of community meetings. All of this was done in partnership with the City of Detroit, with support from the Michigan Historical Center.

Over the course of several meetings with neighborhood stakeholders during the summer and autumn of this year, they were able to ascertain the needs of the Warrendale community. They then worked with residents and others to design a concept to adapt this vacant school into something that would meet those needs.

While the architects are still finalizing their plans, and things can still change going forward, I am proud to be able to discuss at least the preliminary details.

One of the shortcomings of the Warrendale neighborhood is that there is a shortage of quality child care facilities relative to the sheer size of its population.  This is why the preliminary plan envisions reusing some of the space on ground floor as a child care facility.  An independent, licensed day care facility would then rent this space in a redeveloped Kosciusko Center.

Also on the ground floor, these conceptual plans call for some of the old classrooms to be made available as office space for either non-profits or local business start-ups.  Each of these tenants would pay some type of rent, which is crucial in covering the utilities and other operating expenses for the building.

A fitness center is tentatively planned for the old gymnasium.  This space could also be repurposed as a banquet facility, if the need arose.

The old auditorium is reimagined as rehearsal and performance space for local artists.  It could also be used for lectures or meeting space for various community groups.

The second floor of this facility is imagined as supporting counseling and guidance resources for troubled or at-risk youth. It would also potentially have a computer lab, library and production studio.

The outside of Kosciusko is almost as interesting as its interior.  Besides having a separate play area for the day care center as well as a football field and community garden area.

Finally, the entire area would be connected to the proposed greenway project that is likely to move through the Warrendale neighborhood.

I need to emphasize, of course, that all of this is still preliminary.  However, the early signs for this project are extremely encouraging in my opinion.

As always, as more details become available, they will be reported on this blog.  Until then, Kosciusko Elementary and its potential reuse as a community center is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

With that, I'd like to open this up for discussion. What do you think of efforts to reuse Kosciusko Elementary as a community center?

Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Detroit Project

I found this article in The New Republic called "The Detroit Project".  My first thought was, "Oh, great!  Another bleeping article by someone from the East Coast who is going to telling us to fix everything in under 2,000 words."

However, there were a couple of things about it that I can't help but comment on.

First, the article mentioned that the federal government spent $18.4 billion in Detroit - just in 2008.  I've got to wonder:  what the heck did that money go towards?

The only thing that I can think of is that they're counting money that was loaned to the automotive companies.

Oh, but I did like their suggestion that the City of Detroit should go into receivership as a condition of any further assistance.  In fact, I seem to recall someone else suggesting that very same thing about a month ago.

More @ The Detroit Project | The New Republic

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tip of the Week: Jobs

When one remembers that the Detroit metropolitan area is still dealing with a jobless rate of 17.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it provides a certain amount of comfort to know that there are at least two businesses in the Warrendale neighborhood who are hiring.

These jobs aren't the greatest. However, the fact that there is someone hiring at all gives me a modicum of hope.

First, the Dog House Coney Island (19344 W. Warren Ave.) is hiring an experienced waitress.

Second, the Toy Chest (18725 Ford Rd.) is hiring a shot girl.

Anyone interested in either position should apply in person at the respective establishment.

Finally, if anyone hears of another position opening in or around the Warrendale neighborhood, please let me know. I look forward to posting many more such opening in the coming weeks.

Cruising the Comments

I want to thank everyone who has posted a comment on my blog as of late (with the exception, of course, of that douche bag who posted more than 30 spam links over the weekend.)

Anyway, I appreciate it when people take the time to give me some feedback.  I especially enjoy it when this results in an actual conversation about some of the things that are happening in and around the neighborhood.  A great example of this were the comments posted in response to Michigan's new smoking ban, which is huge because of the number of bars and restaurants in Warrendale.

I look forward to reading a lot more of these comments.  It's one of the things that keep me motivated to continue this blog.

Thank you, everyone!

Jailing the DPS?

I posted last week about how students in the Detroit Public Schools had received the worst scores in history on a standardized national test designed to measure their academic progress.  In my opinion, this is a clear sign that there is something fundamentally wrong within the Detroit Public School system; something where everyone involved shares responsibility.

According to The Detroit News, however, my reaction is downright tame in comparison to the approximately 500 attendees of a rally downtown last Friday.  They report that several parents called for the jailing of various public school teachers in Detroit over these test results.

I believe that much of this is a certain amount of political grandstanding.  There is no legal way in which one could jail a teacher whose students produce the worst test scores in history on a national test any more than one could lawfully jail the Detroit Lions for their abysmal performance.

However, I believe that this rally serves as a gauge as to magnitude of the political firestorm that is brewing within Detroit.  I'm confident that we're going to see a lot more this in the coming days.

I simply hope that at least some of this eventually results in tangible improvements for our students in the Detroit Public Schools.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

3D Detroit in Google Earth

There's a quick virtual tour of downtown Detroit in 3D available on Google Earth. You can see it below.

I think it's always fun to count the number of parking lots in downtown Detroit.  And by fun, I mean depressing.

Anyway, to see more of Detroit in Google Earth, please make sure that the 3D Buildings layer is turned on.

Kwame Sutra

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters M.L. Elrick and Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press have released a new book entitled, The Kwame Sutra.  It is, according to Drew Lane of WRIF-FM, "a one-stop shop for all of Kwame's best BS."

This new book captures Kwame M. Kilpatrick as no one ever has. In his own words, including never-before-published quotations, this former mayor of Detroit reveals himself in many ways as a liar, a Lothario and, yes, a leader.

Mr. Elrick and Mr. Schaefer will sign copies of their book at Hugh (2233 Park Ave.), which is a new men's boutique in downtown Detroit - right behind the Fox Theater.  They will be there this coming Tuesday, December 15, at 9 p.m.

I met Mr. Elrick and Mr. Schaefer at the Anchor Bar (450 W. Fort) once.  I was there late one night with some friends and they came in after working late at the paper.  I look forward to seeing them again and, in particular, to reading this book.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Michigan Bans Smoking

Michigan became the 38th state in the union to ban smoking in most workplaces, which includes bars and restaurants.  This ban goes into effect on May 1, 2010.  There are a handful of exemptions, such as the gaming floors in Detroit's three casinos.

There are several such bars and restaurants in the Warrendale neighborhood.  None of them qualify for one the exemptions, which means that they will feel the full impact of this ban.

Critics of the ban charge that it goes too far and that it will hurt businesses.

Supporters claim that it will actually help businesses because potential patrons who have stayed away because of the smoke will return.

What do you think about all of this?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Interesting Emails

I had an interesting email conversation with two retired police officers about the current state of the Detroit Police Department.  With their respective permissions, I'd like to share excerpts from those conversations with you today.

David L. Malhalab, a retired sergeant from the Detroit Police Department, commented in an email that:

DPD can't do the job of protecting residents - their leadership, their low hiring standards,  lack of personnel, poor equipment and low morale - are difficulties they can't overcome unless they get an infusion of money and personnel. Detroit needs a former Police Chief Bratton of LAPD to come in and clean house.

Mr. Malhalab remarks about former Chief William J. Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department inspired me to reach out to Thomas E. Page, who began his career with Detroit Police Department before moving to the Los Angeles Police Department where he retired as a sergeant and officer in charge of the LAPD's Drug Recognition Unit.

I asked him if he thought Detroit needed a police chief like Bill Bratton.

For the most part I agree with David. As I think I've said before, I don't know if the DPD can be saved.  I really do believe it should be shut down and merged into the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.  Tear up the union contracts that make seniority the prime qualification for elite assignments, and that also prevent civilianization of jobs that sworn officers shouldn't be doing (e.g., directing traffic at Tiger games).  Above all, the police need to be held accountable.  Does anyone blame the DPD for the persistently high crime rate and the abysmally low clearance rate?  No, they don't.  Nobody holds their feet to the fire and says do something!  And that's really what Bratton did.  The underlying philosophy of Bratton's style (really all he did was  rename the old LAPD style of broken windows policing) is that police CAN do something about crime.  What I do disagree with David about is the need for more personnel.  The DPD needs better personnel and better utilization of that personnel.

Chief Bratton's reputation for holding his police officers accountable is legendary.  During his tenure, it was fairly common police stations to have a board listing each officer along with the number of arrests that they've made, number of citation issued and so on each month.

Registration Extended for Detroit College Promise

The deadline for seniors to apply for the Detroit College Promise scholarships to January 15, 2010.  There are currently over 475 Detroit Public School students registered online for this scholarship.

Registration takes only a few minutes.  For detailed instructions on how to register, click here.

The Detroit College Promise is providing an unlimited number of scholarships to seniors at Cody High School (18445 Cathedral) in 2010.  Each scholarship is good for $500 per year for up to four years.

The only requirements to qualify for the scholarship are being enrolled at Cody High School from December 1, 2008 through graduation and being a Detroit resident during this time.  More details about this scholarship are listed on their procedure page.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Assignment Detroit: The Drinking Game

Okay - so Time/CNN has been doing a series of articles about life in Detroit.  They're going to keep it up for several more months as part of a year-long focus on Detroit that they are calling Assignment Detroit.

To date, they haven't been to the Warrendale neighborhood as of yet.  A part of me is sad they haven't made it over.  However, as I listen to my friends in neighborhoods that they have visited complain about their coverage, my sadness is eased at least marginally.  (I would still love to have them stop by for a tour of the neighborhood.)

Anyway, one of the other blogs in town posted an Assignment Detroit drinking game.  I don't have any grudges or ill-feelings about Time/CNN, but this is some seriously funny stuff.  Just follow the link below.

Assignment Detroit: The Drinking Game

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Snow Removal Is Everyone's Job

Kelly Larson of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority wrote a post in the Michigan Main Street blog, arguing that snow removal is everyone's job - especially in an economy like ours.

I'd like to make sure that everyone along W. Warren Ave., and the rest of the Warrendale neighborhood, reads it.  This blog is simply the rest step along the way.

Please take a moment to read it yourself here.

DPS: Worst Test Scores Ever

The Detroit Public Schools posted the worst scores on record in the most recent test of students in large central U.S. cities.  The test for urban districts is part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test given to school districts nationwide.

Please allow me to repeat this so that it truly sinks in: the Detroit Public Schools posted worst scores on record.

This is nothing, if not frustrating.  Unfortunately, however, I have to admit that I was not surprised when I heard this news.

Over the years, I have heard teachers demand that they should receive some of the highest pay and benefits in the nation while insisting that they have absolutely no responsibility for how their students perform.

Over the years, I have heard parents talk about their children's school as if it were a daycare center rather than one of the most important places that they will ever enter.

Over the years, I have heard students talk about the Detroit Public Schools as if it were either a social event or simply a place to hide at.

The news that the Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test schools on record is frustrating, but not surprising.  The full magnitude of this can be summarized by a quote from Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council on Great City Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of urban school districts.

There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers.  They are barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers.

The news that the Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test schools on record is frustrating, but not surprising.  For anyone who is interested in reading more about this story, it is available at Crain's Detroit Business.

Monday, December 07, 2009

WACO Goes to the Police

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners will have their next public meeting this Thursday, December 10, at 6:30 p.m. in Holy Redeemer (1721 Junction). The Warren Avenue Community Organization, which represents Warrendale east of the Southfield Freeway, will have a contingent of its members there.

WACO intends to express their collective concerns about police response times.  Everyone in the area is invited to joint them.

I have another commitment that evening so I won't be able to join them.  I wish them well and hope that other will be able to make it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gratuitous Self-Promotion

It's time, I'm afraid, for me to do a little gratuitous self-promotion.

Apart from my adventures in blogging, I've been working on the pilot for a home improvement show for the past few months.  It'll be at a trade show in Las Vegas next month, where we'll pitch it to every outlet from ABC/ NBC/ CBS to Bob's Cable Channel as well as everything in between.

The show is tentatively called Fresh Start with the Design Divas.  One of designers on this show used to be a product designer for Gucci Italy before starting her own interior design company.  She is joined by three other wonderful professionals in the construction industry.

I know that many of my readers use Facebook pages.  I invite each of you to check the show's fan page out on Facebook, watch the video clips and become a fan of this show.  You can find my page on Facebook directly by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Best Quote in Weeks

Sonny Eliot from WWJ-AM gave what has to be one of the funniest and most insightful quotes that I've heard in weeks.  As part of his regular weather report, he added:
It's 52 degrees in Three Rivers; that's the highest temperature in the state. Three Rivers--that's where they started a new business, making the front ends of horses. Then they ship them to the Detroit council chambers for final assembly.
I love that quote.  It seems totally appropriate.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tip of the Week: Park in the Driveway

It's unfortunate that there is an abundance of vacant houses in the Warrendale neighborhood as well as rest of metro Detroit.  All too often those houses fall victim to thieves stealing everything they can.

I've learned that there is a fairly simple way to at least minimize the number of vacant houses that get broken into:  park a vehicle in its driveway.  This, of course, works best if you have more than one car in your household.  You can keep one car in your driveway and park another in the driveway of a nearby vacant house.

Parking a car in a driveway does two important things that will at least minimize the number of houses that get broken into.

First, it creates the appearance that this house is occupied.  This makes it less attractive to a would be thief since they generally don't want to confront an owner.

Second, it creates a physical barrier.  The most attractive and profitable things for a thief to steal are the water heater, furnace and the pipes connected to them.  All of these things are generally located in the basement and, for most houses, the most convenient way for to haul them out is through a side door.  If there is a car parked in the driveway then it becomes more problematic to move those things out.

Warrendale YouTube Videos

I found a few interest videos about the Warrendale neighborhood on YouTube.  I mean, let's face it, you can find almost everything on YouTube these days.

My favorite is this very simple video that features a guy driving along W. Warren Avenue, through the Warrendale neighborhood.  There are a couple of comments in the comment section about how Warrendale looks better in this video than it does in real life.  I think that has a lot to do with the fact that we as a community have become so focused on the problems that we face that when we see a video that doesn't feature them, we're essentially surprised by it.

I also found this one where a guy gives a video tour of a foreclosed that he bought, with the intention of renting it out to make some cash.  It's only a little more than two minutes in length, but it offers some insight into what it's like inside many of foreclosed homes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bankrupt in Detroit

As I read the newspaper this morning, I was struck by the juxtaposition of two particular articles.

Fritz Henderson, president and chief executive officer of General Motors, remarked in the first one about what it's like for GM now since they went into bankruptcy 5 months ago; a bankruptcy that was once thought unthinkable.

The new GM is no longer focused on simply surviving. Instead, their focus is on changing a corporate culture, building better cars and winning over new customers.

In the other article, Mayor Dave Bing was quoted as saying that avoiding bankruptcy and rebuilding Detroit will take as long as 20 years.  It will also require a tremendous sacrifice on the part of all residents and we'll likely have to give up some of the services that we're paying for without seeing a corresponding decrease in our taxes.

We Detroiters have been served with several years of budget cuts and sacrifices by three different mayors; each time we've been told that doing so was essential for us to avoid bankruptcy.  After all of this time, the only thing that we have to look forward to is the prospect of another couple decades of even more cuts and more sacrifices.

In contrast, General Motors has been almost completely reborn and re-energized within 5 months of filing for bankruptcy.  They were quite reluctant to file for bankruptcy protection but, in hindsight, it may well prove to be one of the best things that have happened to them in years.

All of this begs the question:  Why is it such a high priority for the City of Detroit to avoid bankruptcy?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, of course, is Thanksgiving.  I want to take a brief moment to wish everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond a very joyous Thanksgiving.  May today find you surrounded by friends, family and food as well as a bountiful list of things to be thankful for.

In the spirit of this season, I want to share a short clip with everyone from one of my favorite television shows of all time, The West Wing. In this scene, President Josiah Bartlet learns that a group of religious refugees from China had escaped from an immigration detention facility in California.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tip of the Week: Northwest District Community Relations Fundraiser

There's a new fundraiser to benefit Great Northwestern District Community Relations Organization, which serves as a liaison between the Detroit Police Department and the neighborhood.  It's also a great deal.

For the low price of only $35, you will receive a beautiful bouquet or potted plant each month for a year.  Tulips, mums and roses are just some of the beautiful flowers that await you.

One can find an informational flyer and order form is available on-line here.

Kudos to the Insurance Agent

I went to Del Taco for lunch today and there was an insurance agent in line in front of me. She got two sales leads from complete strangers that she met while standing in line.

Now that is some serious hustling, my friends.

It's also a reminder that, even in a terrible economy with record unemployment, it's still possible for someone to make money.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

100 Detroiters Project on Kickstarter

There's been an enormous amount interest from the national news media about Detroit and the challenges that we face as a community.  ABC, CNN, New York Times and Time magazine are just some of the national media outlets that have opined on our troubles.  Not to be outdone, journalists from the Irish Times have joined their counterparts from Germany, Japan and elsewhere in sharing their thoughts.

They always find one or two Detroiters to give a quote or two.  All too often, though, they rely on someone who moved away more than a decade ago to tell the story of what Detroit is like today.

I respect these journalists for at least trying to understand Detroit and all of its complexities. However, I believe that there is a better way.

I would like to create a series of 100 videos that will feature 100 Detroiters; allowing them to tell their story directly to the world. These videos will be posted on YouTube and the other video sharing networks so that our story is as widely disseminated as possible.

If you would like to know more about this project then I invite you to take a look at my page on

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two Great Events | One Great Evening in Detroit

There are a number of really great things happening around town tomorrow, Friday, November 20.

Detroit's official holiday tree lighting is at 6 p.m. in Campus Martius Park downtown (1 Campus Martius).  This is always a great family event.  There are also a number of other events at various bars around downtown after the tree lighting.

Later in the evening, Cardif Giant takes the stage at the Magic Bag in Ferndale (22920 Woodward).  For those who aren't familiar with Cardif Giant, they are a really great indie rock band.  I mention them on the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog since at least two members of this band are from the Warrendale neighborhood.  You can hear their music on their MySpace page.

New Sculpture in Rouge Park

A new sculpture by artist Larry Halbert was unveiled earlier this week in Rouge Park.  The piece is entitled Growing Together.  It is permanently installed at Rouge Park Dr. and Spinoza.

Several students from Cody High School (18445 Cathedral St.) assisted him with this project.  They were present for the unveiling.  Wayne County Commissioner Alisha Bell presented the group with a certificate of appreciation after the unveiling.

Video from the event is available below, courtesy of Paul Stark of the Friends of Rouge Park.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pondering Retail

Dollar Bills (20055 Ann Arbor Trail in Dearborn Heights) recently opened in the former City National Bank building, at Ann Arbor Trail and Evergreen. They offer low priced food and sundries.

I have to confess that I have mixed feeling about this.  On one hand, it does mean one less vacant storefront.  It also means a handful of new jobs in the area, which is always a good thing.  However, there is also the fact that almost everything that they sell is made in China.

It's nice that there is yet another dollar store nearby.  (I mean, we only have six dollar stores in the Warrendale area besides this place.)  I just can't help but feel that there is a better way.

In many other neighborhoods in Detroit, we are starting to a trend towards stores that sell locally sourced food as well as locally produced goods.  Unfortunately, this trend hasn't established much of a foothold in Warrendale as of yet.  I hope this changes soon.

In the meantime, I want to call attention to two locally owned businesses over in Midtown that sell a considerable amount of locally produced goods:  Bureau of Urban Living and their next door neighbor City Bird (460 W. Canfield).  I invite folks to stop by either place, just to see what retail can be like - although I should disclose that both places are owned by friends of mine.

If that's not enough retail inspiration, there's also the fact that Detroit Synergy's monthly Third Thursday - Community Connect is this Thursday from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Pewabic Pottery (10125 E. Jefferson Ave.). Besides the usual socializing that happens at each of these events, this one also provides a great chance to kick start one's holiday shopping with locally made crafts.  Beer and wine will be served.

In addition, 15% from all purchases made that evening will be donated to the Greening of Detroit.

Photo credit: David L. Malhalab MNS Photo / News Service

Detroit to Put 150 Police Officers on the Streets

The Detroit News is reporting that the Detroit Police Department will put another 150 police officers onto streets in neighborhoods around the city. 100 of this comes from police officers being reassigned from desk jobs, with the balance coming from the addition of new police officers thanks to a federal grant.

The first wave of officers is expected to be seen within the next few weeks.  There is no indication, as of yet, as to whether or not the Warrendale neighborhood specifically will receive an increase in police protection as a result of these announcement. Regardless, this is very good news, in my opinion.

Detroit to put 150 police officers on the streets | | The Detroit News

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reflections On An Assault

For the benefit of anyone who hasn't already heard, I was assaulted last Monday afternoon.  I was at the corner of W. Warren Ave. and Westwood when two black teenagers came up from behind me. Without saying a word, one of them punch me in the face as the other one watched.  Both of them promptly ran away before I could do anything else.

Apparently, from what I've learned talking with people who work in the criminal justice system, this was a gang initiation.  One person runs up from behind and punches a random person to prove that he is tough enough to be allowed into the gang while a current gang member watches to verify that he did it.

My nose has long since stopped bleeding and my swollen lip has returned to normal.  Emotionally, however, it's been a rough couple of days.

The thing that has made all of the difference in the world has been all of the other Detroiters.  The staff at the Dog House Coney Island (19344 W. Warren) were quick to give me the napkins that I needed to stop my bloody nose and let me use their mens room so I could clean myself up.

More importantly, as word of this spread around town, more than 100 people have reached out to me over the past week offering friendly support.  From messages on my Facebook page to emails to phone calls to those who simply stopped me when I was at one event another around town, their outpouring of support was tremendous.  It's the support of those 100+ people, as well as the knowledge that there are many more like them who I simply haven't met yet, that keeps me going when I otherwise would have quit.

To everyone of them, I simply say "thank you".

As for the two individuals who assaulted me last week, I'm not worried about them.  I filed a report with the Detroit Police Department (DPD Complaint Number 0911090417).  Maybe something will happen as a result.  Maybe it won't.

The one thing that I can be confident of is that, with gang life being what it is, those two individuals will likely be dead or in jail within 5 years regardless.  It's revenge on auto-pilot.

This means that I can simply concentrate on the more than 100 Detroiters who are determined to make this town a better place and who I am proud to call friends.

Rouge Park Meeting This Wednesday

The Friends of Rouge Park will hold their next general membership meeting this Wednesday, November 18, at 6 p.m. at the Don Bosco Center (19321 W. Chicago St.), which is located in the former St. Suzanne School.

More information about the Friends of Rouge Park is available at

Monday, November 09, 2009

First Meeting of the Charter Commission

The newly elected Charter Commission will be sworn in and have its first meeting next Tuesday, November 17, at 6 p.m.  This meeting will take place on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (2 Woodward Ave.).  Everyone in Detroit is invited to attend this and every other meeting of the Charter Commission.

The Charter Commission is charged with revising Detroit's city charter, which is its main governing document.

Updates on Two Stories

Today I get to update two previous stories that I didn't know until recently were related.  I posted two weeks ago about the Detroit Police Department blocking off Ashton between Whitlock and W. Warren Ave. as part of their investigation into an assault that had happened.  I also posted last week about a fire at 6817 Ashton that gutted much of that vacant house as well as damaged the occupied home immediately north of it.

It turns out that the assault investigation was at 6817 Ashton.  The previous occupant was evicted from their home on October 27.  Reportedly, this eviction resulted in heated words being exchanged and shots were eventually fired at that location.  Since the police only reported it as as assault, one can conclude this did not result in any fatalities.

It was this shooting that resulted in the Detroit Police Department closing much of Ashton as they searched for evidence and interviewed any potential witnesses.

Shortly after that date, someone then firebombed 6817 Ashton.  The identity of this arsonist is not confirmed, but one would presume that the individuals previously evicted for the home had something to do with it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

40th for Detroit Strip Clubs

It's amazing what a blogger can learn about his or her own web site, simply by using Google Analytics.

For example, I discovered this morning that there are more than 1.2 million web sites out there that talk about strip clubs in Detroit - and that the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog ranks number 40 for the search term "Detroit strip clubs".


Number 40 out of 1.2 million?

I blogged several months ago about the efforts to curtail - or even eliminate - strip clubs from the Detroit city limits.  I argued then and continue to believe that this is a really stupid idea.

In my opinion, the only thing that needs to be done about the various problems associated with strip clubs in Detroit is to enforce the rules that have been in existence for decades.  Adding new rules - when the existing ones are largely ignored - simply will not do anything but drive out those who currently comply with the rules.

And somehow, this made my blog the 40th most popular with Google for the phrase "Detroit strip clubs".

Of course, the simple fact that I'm a pervert might have had something to do with it as well.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Second Person to be Charged in Death of Walt Harris

I blogged a year ago about the tragic death of Detroit firefighter Walt Harris, who died when the roof of a burning house collapsed when he was inside fighting battling that blaze. That particular fire was later determined to be a case of arson.

It was announced this afternoon that a second individual will be charged in Mr. Harris' death. More details, of course, are available from the Detroit Free Press article that I've linked to below.

Please forgive them for their reference to "Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans". I'm not sure if they meant to refer to Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans or Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Second person to be charged in death of Detroit firefighter | | Detroit Free Press

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tip of the Week: Avoiding Email Scams

It's been a few weeks since I've done a Tip of the Week feature.  We're developing a television pilot at work and that has kept me insanely busy.  Regardless, I want to get back to this.

My tip this week comes to us from our friends at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who have a warning about a new round of spam attacks.  As with previous spam attacks, which have included the names of high-ranking FBI executives and names of various government agencies, a new version misuses the name of the United States Attorney General, Eric Holder.

The current spam alleges that the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were informed the e-mail recipient is allegedly involved in money laundering and terrorist-related activities. To avoid legal prosecution, the recipient must obtain a certificate from the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman at a cost of $370. The spam provides the name of the EFCC Chairman and an e-mail address from which the recipient can obtain the required certificate.


Government agencies do not send unsolicited e-mails of this nature. The FBI, Department of Justice, and other United States government executives are briefed on numerous investigations, but do not personally contact consumers regarding such matters. In addition, United States government agencies use the legal process to contact individuals. These agencies do not send threatening letters/e-mails to consumers demanding payments for Internet crimes.

Consumers should not respond to any unsolicited e-mails or click on any embedded links associated with such e-mails, as they may contain viruses or malware.

It is imperative consumers guard their personally identifiable information. Providing your information to these spammers will compromise your identity!  If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at

Fires Down 12% Around Halloween

Mayor Dave Bing told a press conference this morning that the number of fires had dropped 12% during the three day period around Halloween. Statistics from the Detroit Fire Department showed that there were 119 fires (including 91 suspicious ones) this year.  In comparison, there were 136 fires in Detroit last year.

Locally, I know of at least two house fires that happened in the Warrendale neighborhood this year. There was one at 6817 Ashton, a vacant home, that damaged an occupied home immediately north of it. There was also another such on Brace.

Mayor Bing: Fires down 12 percent around Halloween | | The Detroit News

Ford Posts an Unexpected Profit of $997 Million

It wasn't that long ago that workers from Ford Motor would fill many of the bars and restaurants in the Warrendale neighborhood during lunch hour as well as after work. Unfortunately, they have been sadly missing in recent years as Ford shed much of its workforce and those who remained became increasingly less likely to eat out as they worried about the next round of layoffs.

The fact that Ford Motor posted a profit today of almost $1 billion gives me a certain amount of hope that those days of Ford workers filling our restaurants might return in the coming months.

Ford Posts an Unexpected Profit of $997 Million -

Hollywood Comes to Warrendale (Sort Of)

There's a new movie called Mooz-lim that is shooting in Detroit thanks to Michigan's tax incentives.  The film stars Danny Glover and Nia Long in a story about being Muslim in America.

Today, they are shooting at the Islamic Center of America (19500 Ford Rd.).  Before anyone chimes in, I know well that they're not technically in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood; they're in an immediately adjacent section of Dearborn.  However, since the cameras are set up within 30 feet of the Dearborn/Detroit border, I say that's close enough to count.

With that in mind, I say, welcome to the neighborhood to everyone on the cast and crew of Mooz-lim.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

I recently made a documentary to show the entire world what life is like at Casa de Nemecek on All Hallow's Eve.  You'll find it below.  I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Halloween to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Man Shot After Aiming Gun at Police Chief Warren Evans

WWJ (AM 950) is reporting that a man was shot early this morning after pointing a handgun at Detroit Police Chief Warren C. Evans. The chief and his partner were on patrol. The shot was reportedly fired Chief Evans' partner.

It's never a pleasant thing when someone gets shot. However, I'm glad to hear that Chief Evans is out on patrol instead of simply sitting behind a desk.

More details are available at WWJ Newsradio 950 - Man Shot After Aiming Gun at Police Chief Warren Evans

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Friends of Rouge Park Meeting Tomorrow

The Friends of Rouge Park have changed their next meeting to tomorrow, Wednesday, October 28 at 6 p.m.  They are also meeting at a new location, the Don Bosco Hall.

Everyone who is interested in Rouge Park is welcome to attend this meeting.

BREAKING NEWS: Assault on Ashton

The Detroit Police Department currently has a portion of Ashton blocked off, between Whitlock St. and W. Warren Ave.  Police officers on the scene declined to go into any great detail as to what happened.  They simply said that there had been an assault and that they needed to preserve any evidence that was there.

Fox 2 (WJBK-TV) had a news van on the scene.  We will have to see if they are able to shed any more light on what happened.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why I'll Still Let My Kids Walk to School

I've had several conversations over the years about raising children in the Warrendale, where most children still walk to school. I thought about those conversations a lot as I read about Lenore Skenazy and her thoughts on raising children.

I invite you to read more about it.

Why I'll Still Let My Kids Walk to School |

RIP Soupy Sales

The legendary comedian and one of the finest human beings to ever work in television in Detroit, Soupy Sales, passed away yesterday.  He was 83 years old.

Soupy Sales not only personified an era of television in Detroit, he consistently demonstrated the true power of television as a medium.  His show made everyone who watched it feel not only entertained, but a part of something much larger than themselves.

His passing leaves a hole in the hearts of many Detroiters, even those who - like myself - weren't even born until long after Soupy Sales left the airwaves.  His jokes were funny enough that people were still retelling them and laughing at them decades later.

Luckily, thanks to the miracle of YouTube, Soupy Sales is still available to children young and old "in Living Black and White."

Soupy Sales will be missed. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to have a slice of pie in his honor.

Monday, October 19, 2009

DPD is Looking for Volunteers

The Detroit Police Department is looking for volunteers to report and remove illegal signs from utility poles and traffic signs throughout the city.  Such signs are frequently a distraction to motorists and are widely regarded as an eyesore.

If you are interested in volunteering, please call Detroit Police Community Services at (313) 596-2520.  A flyer is available here, just please don't post it on any utility poles traffic signs.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Twilight" - This Saturday

The Movie and Book Club at the Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library (18400 Joy Rd.) will feature a free screening of the hit movie Twilight this Saturday afternoon, October 17.  This movie will start at 3 p.m.
A discussion of the film will follow this free screening.  Copies of the Twilight books will also be available to library patrons.

Candidate Forum this Wednesday

There will be a candidate forum this Wednesday, October 14, from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library (18400 Joy Rd.).  It will feature candidates for the Detroit City Council as well as the School Board and the Charter Commission.  Everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood is invited to attend.

This event is sponsored by the Cody/Rouge block clubs.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tom Barrow Endorsed by the Eastside Slate

At a press conference earlier this afternoon, the Eastside Community Slate announced that Mayoral Candidate Tom Barrow is their choice for Mayor of Detroit in the upcoming November 3 general election.  This is impressive from a political standpoint because - for the past 27 years - the Eastside Community Slate has consistently endorsed the winner in every primary and general election Detroit has had including Coleman Young, Dennis Archer, Kwame Kilpatrick and Dave Bing.

The Slate also rescinded their previous primary endorsement of Interim Mayor Dave Bing because they do not like his style of leadership. “Mayor Bing has snubbed the city of Detroit and openly disrespects its people,” said Lamar Lemmons, III, one of the leaders of the Eastside Community Slate. “He has no sense of community. He won’t come out and he refuses to debate issues affecting the community. We believe that a real Detroit Mayor should never hide. That is unacceptable.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Barrow has been endorsed by AFL-CIO, the Coalition of Labor Organizations, AFSCME and ATU, the bus drivers union.

Of course, I thought this was an interesting quote from Mr. Barrow this afternoon:
“Unlike Mr. Bing, who has turned everything over to Charles Beckham and Norm White so he can go home to Franklin at night, I will be a leader who personally makes the right choices to balance our city’s budget, create safe streets, inspire our residents and grow our city, not shrink it. Detroit deserves an energetic and engaged leader that understands the issues and one who will both be among and work with its people.”
I said back in August that Detroit's mayoral election is going to be a lot closer than most people expect.  I predicted then - and I continue to predict - that the final outcome will definitely be within 10% and that, if Mr. Barrow plays his cards right in the coming weeks, he might actually come out on top.  There are several individuals who actually laughed at me when I first made my predict less than a week after the primary.  However, no one laughs at it any more.

The next few weeks are going to be an interesting time for politics in Detroit.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Boston Police Zombie Defense

The Boston Police Department officially confirmed that they would indeed notify the public if a zombie attack ever happened in Boston. Unfortunately, the Detroit Police Department has not made a similar commitment.

Those of us in the Warrendale neighborhood, I'm afraid, will simply have to follow the University of Florida's lead and devise our own plan for dealing with zombie attacks.

Boston Police Zombie Defense.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Bing, the Budget and Council by Districts

I previously blogged about the ballot initiative to elect seven of Detroit's nine City Council members by district instead of on an at-large basis, which is how it currently is done.  This issue was in the courts last month because of a couple of technical problems with the language of said ballot proposal.

The incumbent City Council, most of whom are adamantly opposed to running by districts, were ask by Michigan's Attorney General Mike Cox to correct this language and place it on the ballot.  They refused to do and a court fight ensued.

At the time, I was surprised at how vigorously the City of Detroit's Law Department was contesting the proposal and trying to keep it off the November ballot.  Mayor Dave Bing had publicly supported electing the City Council by districts.  As someone who has dealt with the Law Department before, I know that it's not uncommon for the Mayor to give a certain amount of guidance to his legal staff and they always follow whatever marching orders they are given by the Mayor.

I was really surprised that Mayor Bing didn't reign the Law Department in during this court fight over Council by Districts.  But then I realized something last night as I was going through some newspaper archives.

The entire Council by Districts court fight happened at the same time that Mayor Bing had previously promised to release his 137 page restructuring plan to deal with the City of Detroit's $300 million deficit.  According to several published news reports, Mayor Bing's staff has completed their work and has presented them with their recommendations.

Mayor Bing told a group of women business leaders during a luncheon on Tuesday, September 15 that these recommendations would be released within a week. The following week, he seemingly switched sides in the Council by Districts debate.  The Council by Districts litigation immediately became the number one issue that everyone in town was talking about.

This whole thing simply seems like a smoke screen to me.  It seems like there is something in this plan that Mayor Bing doesn't want people to see.  Therefore, as a diversionary tactic, he switches sides on this ballot initiative and sends his legal team into a court fight.

And this 137 page plan still has not been released to the public.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rouge Park 5K Run/Walk

The Friends of Rouge Park will host their 2nd Annual Rouge Park Benefit 5K Run/Walk on Sunday, October 11.   Registration will open at 8 a.m.  The race itself will begin at 9 a.m. near the Brennan Pools on Plymouth Road just east of Outer Drive at 9:00 am.  Registration is available on-line in advance here for only $20, although pre-registration is not required.

“Enjoy the fall color of the forests and restored native prairies during this run through Detroit's largest park, while helping to raise much needed funds to restore and revitalize this precious regional natural and recreational asset!” said Paul Stark, race coordinator at the Friends of Rouge Park.

The sponsors of this event include Bedzyk Automotive, Chick’s Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.), ITC Holdings, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Scotty's Fish and Chips, Starter's Bar, Wietecha Monument, Warrendale Community Organization and West Outer Drive Civic Association.

For the second year in a row, this event has been endorsed by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health & Sports. The Council endorses local, regional and state events to acknowledge an organization’s ability to plan and carry out a quality event that significantly contributes to the health and well-being of Michigan residents.  Runners and walkers who participate are eligible to apply to walk across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day in 2010.

MAILBAG: Photo Question

In response to the photo that I use in the masthead for this blog, Whatthehelen wrote in to ask:
I've been meaning to ask...where did you take that photo with the fog. Love it. It takes me back to my years in New England.
I love this photograph, too.  I took it in Rouge Park on a foggy morning almost three years ago now.

You can see more photos from that morning on-line here.  I also have a blog post about that entire day over on my personal blog.

Transit Candidates Forum

The TRU Detroit City Council Candidate's Forum is this evening, Thursday, October 1, at the Considine Recreation Center (8904 Woodward Ave.).  This forum will start at 6:30 p.m. and will focus on mass transit.  It is sponsored by Transit Riders United, which is a leading advocate for mass transit in Detroit.

For those not familiar with the Considine Recreation Center, it is on Woodward Ave.; approximately 3/4 of a mile north of W. Grand Blvd.  If anyone is interested in taking bus from the Warrendale neighborhood to this forum, which is oddly appropriate for a forum on mass transit, it will take approximately one hour to complete your trip.  I recommend the Crosstown bus to Woodward and then transferring to the Woodward bus to go north.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WWJ Newsradio 950 - Top Cop To Distribute Emergency Guides

Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans is reportedly going through Northwest Detroit today passing out the City of Detroit's new emergency guide.  I will let everyone know if he makes an appearance in Warrendale.

More details @
WWJ Newsradio 950 - Top Cop To Distribute Emergency Guides

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fine Way to Balance the Budget

I blogged before about the City of Detroit increasing the number of parking tickets that they write.  However, they seem to be increasing even more.

I stopped by PC Place (17051 W. Warren Ave.) last Thursday to pick up a new computer keyboard after I spilled Pepsi on my old one. I'm glad these guys are in the neighborhood and consistently cheap.

During the approximately ten minutes that I was in that store, the Municipal Parking Department swooped in.  They issued two parking tickets for offenses that I have never heard of them issuing a ticket for before:
  1. Parking within thirty feet of a stop sign; and
  2. Parking within twenty feet of a cross walk.
 Thankfully, my car wasn't one of those hit by these vultures.  I was able to escape this mandatory contribution to the municipal coffers.

Anyway, I just want to remind everyone that the City of Detroit is issuing parking tickets like they are going out of style.  I also want to remind everyone that spilling a can of Pepsi on your computer keyboard is a really bad idea.

5K Run to Benefit for Detroit College Promise

The Detroit College Promise 5K Run/Walk will be held on the Detroit Riverwalk (St. Antoine and Atwater) on Saturday, October 10. Participants can pre-register via Participants can also register on-site at 8 a.m. The race will start at 9 a.m.

Lunch and entertainment will be immediately following this run.  Awards will go to 3 deep per age group. Strollers and wheelchairs are welcome.

Proceeds from this run will benefit the Detroit College Promise, which provides scholarships to students at some of Detroit public high schools such as Cody High School (18445 Cathedral St.) in the Warrendale neighborhood.

Monday, September 28, 2009

City Council Candidate Forum Tonight

All eighteen of the candidates for the Detroit City Council will appear at a forum this evening, starting at 6 p.m. This event will happen at the Greater Grace Temple (23500 W. Seven Mile), which is approximately four miles north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

The moderators for this event are Huel Perkins from Fox 2, Angelo Henderson from WCHB and Stephanie Davis from WWJ.

This forum will be streamed live on

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tiger Stadium Is No More

Tiger Stadium died at 9:24 a.m. this morning when the last remaining piece of it finally fell.

Of course, now that Tiger Stadium is down, I'm sure George Jackson will announce his fully-funded plan to do something productive with the site; something that will contribute to the Corktown neighborhood and create jobs for Detroiters.

You know, the sort of thing that would've happened if he hadn't been allowed to block the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy from proceeding with their plan.

I'm sure he'll present it to us any day now.

10 Labor Unions Endorse Barrow

The Coalition of Organized Labor (COOL) today announced their endorsement of Detroit mayoral candidate Tom Barrow in the upcoming November 3 general election. This is the third major labor endorsement that Mr. Barrow has received in recent weeks. He has already received the nod from AFSCME and ATU, which is the bus drivers union.

COOL is comprised of 10 area labor organizations that represent several thousand members in Detroit.

“Mayor Dave Bing is not a leader we can support,” said Greg Murray, a COOL spokesperson and a district representative for the Senior Accountants, Analysts and Appraisers Association said in a prepared statement. “He has turned everything over to Charles Beckham and Norm White, the same retreads from Kilpatrick’s administration that got our city into the financial mess we are in now. Bing wants to privatize tax collections because he doesn’t have a clue how to do it the right way in the first place.”

“Bing turned our city’s finances over to Beckham and White, and they have turned it into a financial circus,” continued Murray. “Mr. Barrow has called for their resignations for months and he is right. Our city cries out for an organized and talented financial expert like Tom Barrow. He’ll get our audits in, initiate a financial review of the city’s records and structure the Detroit budget to serve people.”

“It is embarrassing that our city doesn’t even know who owes them money,” added Barrow. “They are laying people off without a good sense of their revenue and expenses. On day one of my administration, department heads will have to justify their budgets and not a single overrun will be approved. Every dime will be collected in my administration because we’ll implement accountable, online systems to process funds.”