Tuesday, May 28, 2019

National Hamburger Day

Today is National Hamburger Day. Today is a day set aside to celebrate one of the most American of all foods and one of the most popular food items on the planet - the hamburger.

The hamburger is both a historic piece of Americana and an economic powerhouse. The History Channel reviewed the centuries-old history of the hamburger on a bun on their website. As for the financial side of the pattie, I would simply mention that nearly 50 billion hamburgers are served in the United States every year, according to an article published in 2012 by PBS.

In Michigan alone, there are 2,783 restaurants that serve primarily hamburgers. Those eateries have almost $2.6 billion in annual sales, according to a survey of American businesses that was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. All of this translates into roughly $155 million in sales tax revenue for the State of Michigan.

Locally, there are several places that serve a top-notched hamburger in the Warrendale neighborhood. Chilli's (5707 Southfield Rd.), Red Robin (18505 Ford Rd.), and Wendy's (18430 Ford Rd.) probably serve the most. The Ford Road Patio (18490 Ford Rd.) is a gem that gets forgotten about all too often. Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.) and Nick's Detroit (16807 W.Warren Ave.) are both sentimental favorites.

Happy Hamburger Day, everyone!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019


American cemetery in Normandy, France. - Creative Commons photo by RGY23/Pixabay

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Good bye, Warrendale. I'm going to Mars.

Frank Nemecek's boarding pass for traveling to Mars - Image by NASA
I love the Warrendale neighborhood. I love Detroit and the entire state of Michigan. In fact, I love this entire planet with the possible exception of Ohio.

But no matter how much I love this place, it's time for me to leave.

I got my boarding pass from NASA. I'm going to Mars.

I won't leave until July of next year. This means that there's plenty of time for me to wrap up my affairs in Detroit before moving on.

I got my boarding pass from NASA. I'm going to Mars.

Or at least my name is going to Mars. It'll be etched into one of the microchips aboard the rover that will go to Mars in July of next year. That's basically the same thing, right?

Anyway, if any of my readers would like to join me on this voyage to the Red Planet, you can get your boarding pass from NASA by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Property values up in Warrendale, according to the Detroit News

Warrendale neighborhood at Christmas - Photo by Frank Nemecek
A report in the Detroit News this morning showed that while crime is still in an issue, the Warrendale neighborhood is on a rebound. Their full article is available online here. In my opinion, there are two key takeaways from this story.

While crime in the Warrendale neighborhood is still higher than in the suburbs of Detroit, it is down in almost every category from where it was a few years ago. I would add that this improvement in public safety has been a fairly consistent one and that there is nothing to suggest that it won't continue to improve.

It's also worth emphasizing that property values in the Warrendale neighborhood have increased by an average of 38% per year over the past five years. This is according to city officials in Detroit who compared MLS data from 2014 with the present day.

Both of these things combine to indicate that the Warrendale neighborhood continues to be an outstanding place to live, work, and invest. Although, for the benefit of any real estate investors who find this page, I remind everyone of what I mentioned about real estate investing in Detroit.

Detroit is a great place for real estate investors. It is, however, a terrible place for real estate speculators. (Please see my post here for more details.)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow

Rouge Park sign - Photo by Frank Nemecek

The non-profit advocacy group the Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, May 21. This meeting will start at 7:00 pm and is expected to last approximately one hour.

The group will meet in the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Bramell St.). This is near West Chicago Rd. and Outer Drive.

Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Open letter to Detroit real estate investors

Detroit homes under construction - Photo by Frank Nemecek

Normally on Mondays, I would publish a Tip of the Week that offers my readers some helpful advice regarding their home, money, or life. Today, however, I want to pass along some friendly advice to those who wish to invest in real estate in Warrendale or elsewhere in Detroit.

A friend of mine works with investors on a professional basis quite frequently. She noticed a mistake that was frequently made over and over by would be real estate developers - especially in the Detroit market. With her permission, I am including her comments below with only minimal editing on my part.

Her comments originally appeared on her personal Facebook page. I am publishing them below in italics.

Dear Detroit real estate investors:

Please, please, please read and ingest this information.

Buying a house that is in decent condition, sitting on it, and waiting for it to inflate in value does not work as well as buying it- putting in new electrical, plumbing- and getting it back on the market.

I promise you...

This is especially true if you’re not here helping the neighborhood you bought in to stabilize. You’re not increasing your value as much as you are paying taxes on a property that will be worth nothing after it’s firebombed or the roof collapses.

Investing is more than buying and sitting on a property. Invest your energy and expertise along with your money.

Thank you!

With this said, I will say that I have shown her thoughts to several people who have made a good living investing in Detroit's real estate market. Every single one of them agreed with this sentiment. Simply holding onto a piece of property isn't going to make its value climb. The financial gains come from getting the property back on the market as a rental or for sale.

With that said, I will simply add that my normal Tip of the Week will return next week.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Detroit to use speed humps to deter speeders

Speed humps on a street in Detroit - City of Detroit photo
One of the most frequent complaints that I hear is about cars traveling through residential streets in Warrendale at a high rate of speed. Those speeding on residential streets cause collisions and endanger residents, especially young children.

One way to solve this is by installing speed humps to calm the traffic. The Department of Public Work has begun installing these speed humps in Detroit's neighborhoods. Priority is given to locations that are near an active school. Residents who would like to have one installed on their street to deter speeding cars can request to have one installed.

More details about this traffic calming program are available on the City of Detroit's website. The application that you will need to complete is online here.

Please share this with any residents who might be interested.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Volunteers needed for Rouge Park clean up this Saturday

Volunteers are needed to clean up Rouge Park this Saturday - File photo
Rouge Park Appreciation Day, which is the largest local park clean up of the year, will happen this Saturday, May 18. This volunteer event is organized by the nonprofit Friends of Rouge Park as well as each of the other groups who utilize the park on a regular basis.

During this daylong event, volunteers will undertake multiple projects to maintain the largest park in Detroit and a valuable resource for the Warrendale neighborhood. This will include invasive species removal, picking up trash, planting, painting, and more.

All volunteers are appreciated, even if you are only able to help out for an hour or two. Anyone with questions about this event is asked to email RougePark@gmail.com. Volunteers can sign up to help by filling out this Google Form here.

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone in advance who is able to help out at this event. Your efforts truly make a huge difference in the Warrendale neighborhood as well as surrounding parts of Detroit.

Free trial of FreeTime Unlimited by Amazon

Children being entertained and educated online - Stock photo courtesy StartUp Stock/Pixaby
Parents know how hard it is to keep children entertained these days. This is especially when one considers how much dangerous or inappropriate content is the internet. All of this is why I was excited when I learned about the new FreeTime Unlimited service from Amazon.

FreeTime Unlimited is an all-in-one subscription that gives kids access to thousands of kid-friendly books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, Audible books, and games on compatible Fire, Android, iOS and Kindle devices. Plus, kids can enjoy hundreds of hours of fun with ad-free radio stations and playlists, Audible books as well as a growing list of premium kid’s skills available on compatible Echo devices.

Parents also receive access to easy-to-use parental controls that allow them to find the right balance between education and entertainment. Parents can personalize screen time limits, set educational goals, filter age-appropriate content, and also manage web browsing and content usage based on their preferences.

This service normally costs $2.99/month for those who already have an Amazon Prime Membership or $4.99/month for those who don't. However, readers of the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog can try it for a month absolutely free by clicking the banner below.

FreeTime Unlimited gives kids unlimited access to a world of content to explore and parents the peace of mine that all content is age-appropriate.

A free trial of FreeTime Unlimited from Amazon is your Tip of the Week for the week of May 13.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life.

Also, be sure to follow the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great information.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Robert Mueller discusses the report

Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, DC - Creative Commons photo by David, Flickr 
It was a chilly evening in Washington, DC when I stepped into the Old Ebbitt Grill on 15th Street. I had never been here before but as soon as crossed its threshold, I recognized this small restaurant from a dozen other places around the country with a different name but the same feel.

Its dark interior, lit with only a small lamp on each table. The aroma of rich food and fine wine filled the air with a subtle scent of old leather. This is the place where Washingtonians of the Old Boy’s Club could safely meet with outsiders over a meal or drinks.

I spotted the man that I came here to see at a table in the corner. Depending on who one asked, he was either the man who gave Congress a roadmap to impeach the President of the United States or the man who lead a two-year long witch hunt; a witch hunt that would ultimately provide that same President with a total vindication.

“Hi, there, Frank,” he said as I approached his table.

“Good evening, Mr. Mueller,” I replied. “I can’t thank you enough for agreeing to talk with me tonight.”

“It’s okay,” he added with a subtle grin and a wink. “Susan spoke highly of you.”

Back during the summer of 1994, I served as a driver for Congressman John Dingell. He lived less than a mile from me and I got to chauffeur him around from campaign event to the next. It was during those moments driving from one stop to another that Mr. Dingell imparted at least shared of his wisdom with me.

Monday, April 22, 2019

5 Tips for Spring Lawn Cleaning

Spring 2019 is here at last. This means that the snow is gone and warm days are becoming more common. One of the things that this also means is that it's time to get everyone's lawn ready for the growing season.

To get everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond started with spring lawn care and clean up, I want to share five tips on what to do first. Ryan Knorr Lawn Care, a professional landscaper from Minnesota, created the video that I embedded above. It gives you a few simple suggestions for getting started.

One of the things that he suggests most strongly is getting a soil test done on your lawn. Loewes, English Gardens, and other stores in the Detroit area have kits available to test your lawn. However, I'm a fan of ordering one from Michigan State University. One can order it from MSU online here.

These five tips for spring lawn clean up as well as where one can get a soil test kit in the Detroit area are your Tip of the Week for April 22, 2019.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life.

Also, be sure to follow the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great information.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happy Easter, Detroit

I want to wish a happy Easter to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit and beyond. Christians will celebrate the Resurrection today. The non-religious will celebrate the return of spring. And all of us can celebrate the mountain of Easter candy and colored Easter eggs.

I will spend the Easter holiday with my Mom, my three brothers, and the rest of my family. I hope that everyone in Detroit is able to spend today with those that they love and who love them.

Happy Easter, Detroit.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral

Firefighter - Stock Illustration/ Creative Commons
The city of Detroit was founded in 1701 as a French colony. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, our community was known as the Paris of the Midwest because of its French heritage and influences. It is this context that I feel adds to my horror - and the horror that many of my neighbors feel - as we watch the news come in that Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is engulfed in flames.

I pray this afternoon that Saint Florian, the Patron Saint of Firefighters, watches over, guides, and protects the estimated 400 firefighters who are currently battling the blazes at the Notre Dame Cathedral.

I pray that the piece of the True Cross, the piece of the Crown of Thornes, the nails from the Crucifixion, and each of the other holy artifacts that are housed at the Cathedral are protected.

Finally, I pray that Our Lady of Paris brings comfort and peace to the people of Paris and to all of those souls who are affected by this tragedy.


Update @ 9:34 p.m.
Since I published this post a few hours ago, two important developments have occurred. First, according to published news reports, all of the sacred relics that were stored inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris have been saved. In addition, President Emmanuel Macron of France announced in a televised address to the nation that the cathedral would be rebuilt.

While the fire itself is tragic, I feel that these two updates are important. Moreover, I also believe that the outpouring of support from around the world is both reassuring and inspiring.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What is next for Detroit's incinerator?

Earlier this afternoon, Mayor Mike Duggan announced that the City of Detroit would close incinerator, which has been controversial throughout its 33-year history. According to published news reports, today will be its last day of operation. The City is expected to transfer its solid waste contract to another vendor.

Mayor Duggan stated that this will not result in any additional costs to the taxpayers of Detroit.

Multiple news outlets have reported on this announcement that Detroit is closing its controversial incinerator. One can read this story here, here, and in dozens of other media outlets.

The one thing that has not been made clear as of yet is the burning question: what will happen to this site next?

(And yes, I did just drop a quip about a burning question into a blog post about an incinerator.)

The short answer is that we do not know at this time exactly what will happen at this site. Mayor Duggan stated in a post on Twitter, "As far as future use of this site, it is my strong preference that this site never again be used as a waste incinerator." The mayor went on to add that the City of Detroit, "will be pursuing our legal options to make sure this remains the case."

Since there doesn't seem to be a clear plan as to what should be done with this land after today, I would like to offer an idea for everyone to consider.

First, bulldoze the entire complex. I'm normally one for saving and reusing buildings in Detroit. The incinerator, however, is a memory that I believe Detroit would be better without.

Once the land is properly cleared, I believe that strip clubs across the city should be incentivized to close in the neighborhoods, convert their current location into a sports bar or something, and move the adult entertainment to where the incinerator sits now.

For more than 30 years, I have heard one elected official in Detroit talk about how they would love to pick up all of the strip clubs in our neighborhoods and move them to a separate area away from everything. With the closing of the incinerator, I believe that Detroiters finally have a chance to do precisely this thing.

Screen grab of the area immediately around the incinerator - Google Maps
While the stench from the incinerator has traveled to residential areas miles away, there aren't any homes currently around the site itself. This coupled with its proximity to the expressways makes this land a perfect location to move strip clubs in Detroit to.

Visual and other barriers can be erected rather easily to isolate these strip clubs from the rest of Detroit. They can do their thing and it won't bother anyone in the surrounding neighborhoods.

There are, of course, many details to work out on this one. What kind of incentive should we use to encourage the strip clubs to relocate, is the most obvious detail. However, I don't think any of these challenges are insurmountable.

And it would be nice to see an idea that has been kicked around for decades finally happen.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Renter's rights and more this Wednesday

Home - Stock photo from Pixabay
The City of Detroit's Department of Neighborhoods will host a rent to own and renter's block club meeting this Wednesday, March 27. It will start at 5:30 p.m. in the St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center (19321 West Chicago), which is approximately a half mile north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

During this meeting, the Department of Neighborhoods will discuss homeowner opportunities, properties available for sale through the Detroit Land Bank Authority, and renter's rights as well as:

  • Renter's responsibilities;
  • Credit counselors;
  • Opportunities for renters; and
  • New renter's registration of properties.
Everyone who is either renting a home in Detroit or who has a rent to own contract for a home in Detroit is invited to attend this meeting.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Grant opportunity for healthy kids

Leadership Prep Academy - Photo by Action for Healthy Kids/Flickr
Since the program began in 2009, Action for Healthy Kids has provided $8.7 million in grants and technical support to help schools achieve their student wellness goals. Now through April 5, schools and parents are invited to apply for a series of grants.

These grants will be available for the 2019-2020 school year. Grant opportunities fit into three basic categories:
  • Game On Grants. These grants will secure funding and resources for your school to introduce or improve nutrition and physical activity programs. With a grant of $1,000 or more utilizing AFHK’s flagship program, Game On, you can build a school garden, jump-start active recess, purchase physical education equipment, host taste tests, kick-off an after-school activity club, and so much more.
  • Parents for Healthy Kids Grants. This program is a chance for parents to make their mark on school health! Parents and parent-led groups (such as PTAs and PTOs) can apply for a $1,000 school grant to provide funds and resources to introduce or improve fitness or nutrition programs and engage families in health at school and at home. This opportunity helps to ensure that all students have access to healthy choices.
  • School Breakfast Grants. This is a grant opportunity to expand access to school breakfast for hungry and undernourished kids. Grants from $1,000 to $3,000 can support equipment and other resources needed to implement or expand Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab-and-Go Breakfast, or other alternative breakfast programs that help students start their day right.
Parents and educators are invited to visit http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/grants for more information and to learn how to apply. The deadline for all applications is April 5, 2019.

First day of spring

Trees in the springtime - Creative Commons photo by J. Plenio/Pixabay
It's official, Detroit.

As of today, we have made it to the first day of spring. The weather may not be super awesome at the moment, but we made through the winter - polar vortex be darned.

Detroit is supposed to be a lot more spring-like later in the week. I look forward to seeing lots of my neighbors outside enjoying it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Detroit police commissioners are now majority female

Detroit Board of Police Commissioners | Official Seal

Women’s History Month became especially historic in Detroit this year with the new composition of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. For the first time in its 45-year history, a combination of elected and appointed female police commissioners totaled six. This makes women the majority on this 11-member oversight board.

“As the civilian oversight board for the Detroit Police Department, one of our goals for the department’s workforce, as well as the Board itself, is to reflect the demographics of the City of Detroit. This is why the current number of women serving on the Board is historic and truly special,” explained Lisa Carter, the immediate past chair who is in her second term as police commissioner for District 6.

“Still, it is important to remember that each police commissioner comes to the Board with a strong dedication for the important work of ensuring our city has the most professional, responsive, effective, and diverse police department,” Carter added. “We all work together towards that end.”

The BOPC was destined to become majority female last fall when Mayor Mike Duggan named women to fill two vacancies. In addition to Carter, the female police commissioners are:
  • Elizabeth “Betty” Brooks, who was appointed in 2015 as one of four at-large members;
  • Shirley Burch, who was elected in 2017 to represent District 3;
  • Eva Garza Dewaelsche, who was appointed in 2015 to serve at-large;
  • Evette Griffie, who was appointed to fill a vacancy for District 2 and began serving in December 2018. The seat became vacant when DMC Executive Conrad Mallett, a former at-large BOPC member who won the district election in 2017, resigned for professional reasons in October 2018; and 
  • Annie Holt, who was appointed to fill an at-large vacancy and began serving at the end of February 2019.
The other five members of the board are Darryl D. Brown of District 1 and who serves as vice chair; Willie E. Bell, from District 4, who serves as chair; Willie E. Burton representing District 5; William M. Davis who represents Warrendale and the rest of District 7, and Jim Holley, At-Large.

Monday, March 18, 2019

How to report a problem to the city government

Reporting | Stock photo from Pixabay
It happens - a Detroiter sees a problem that isn't an emergency but still requires the attention of city hall. Maybe the storm drain in front of their house is clogged. Perhaps someone has dumped a pile of trash in a vacant lot. It might be that a fire hydrant on their block needs repairs. Whatever the issue is, you need to get the city involved and navigating through the City of Detroit's every changing but always a bit more complicated than it needs to be bureaucracy can be a daunting task.

The City of Detroit has a simple yet effective way of reporting non-emergency problems. Residents with a smartphone should download the Improve Detroit app from either the iTunes or Google Play Store. This app enables Detroiters to report non-emergency issues to the City. It also enables them to track the City's response to it; even to communicate directly with the employee tasked with handling it and/or his or her supervisor.

Residents who don't have a smartphone can also report non-emergency issues. Instead of using an app to report it, though, they should instead file their report here on the City of Detroit's website.

I posted about the Improve Detroit app and website when it first came out a few years ago. Regardless, after talking with a few of my fellow Warrendale residents, it was clear that a reminder was needed.

The Improve Detroit app and website are your Tip of the Week for the week of March 18,2019.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life.

Also, be sure to follow the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great information.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Duggan to deliver State of the City address this evening

Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit - File photo
Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit will deliver his annual State of the City address this evening at 7 p.m. I look forward to him discussing important topics to our community such as city services, crime and police response times, economic development, as well as our neighborhoods.

The State of the City address will be live-streamed on DetroitMI.gov and the City of Detroit's Facebook page. It will also be carried on live on television and radio.

For those who use Twitter, I will be live tweeting from home during Mayor Duggan's speech. My Twitter handle is @fnemecek.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

SpongeBob SquarePants presents the weather

Over the 14 years of publishing the Warrendale Detroit Blog, I have endeavored to innovate constantly; to bring readers new features that make their lives better and our neighborhood a nicer place to live. This quest for innovation has led to some interesting partnerships throughout the years and today I am pleased present what is quite possibly the most interesting of all partnerships.

The Warrendale Detroit Blog has teamed up with SpongeBob SquarePants to provide readers with a quick summary of the weather forecast across Michigan for the next few days.

Without further ado, I give you the Michigan weather forecast from SpongeBob SquarePants.


There you have it. I don't think anyone could sum up what readers can expect from the weather in Michigan quite like SpongeBob SquarePants.

I'm proud of the Warrendale Detroit Blog and its legacy of innovation. If you would like to see SpongeBob SquarePants continue giving his weather forecasts like this, please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. You can also leave a comment on the Facebook page for this blog.

Until next time, I want to say, "Thank you, SpongeBob SquarePants. Thank you."

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The wonderful Warren Medical Center

Exterior of the Warren Medical Clinic - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I have previously posted on some of the terrible things that can happen at some of the businesses in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. I figured, therefore, that I should mention one particular business that is obviously putting so much energy into improving our community. I am talking, of course, about the Warren Medical Center (16921 W. Warren Ave.).

I haven't had the privilege of being a patient at this august facility. However, when one looks at how wonderfully the Warren Medical Center maintains the exterior of their property, I can only imagine the diligent concern and care that they have for each and every one of their lucky patients.

I mean really, just look at what is in front of the Warren Medical Center.

Sidewalk in front of the Warren Medical Center - Photo by Frank Nemecek
While other business in the Detroit area might pollute their surroundings with annoying things like concrete sidewalks, the Warren Medical Center has taken the effort to ensure that the sidewalk in front of their establishment is completely covered in ice and snow. I can only imagine the joy that this would bring to a patient who is coming to this clinic must have as he or she try to seek treatment for an injury sustained elsewhere as they traverse this miniature artic wonder.

I would not be surprised if each of them got down on their hands and knees to celebrate such an experience. It's truly a joy that the Warren Medical Center has brought to Detroit.

I'm even confident that many Detroiters who walk past the Warren Medical Center in its current condition will suddenly realize that they need medical treatment.

I'm confident that I speak for everyone in Warrendale when I say that we are uniquely lucky to have such a place as the Warren Medical Clinic in our little corner of Detroit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Cody High: A Life Remodeled Project

I watched Cody High last night. This is a documentary about the Detroit public high school that people from the Warrendale neighborhood would attend. The film itself focused on what happened when students there went through the Life Remodeled Project a few years ago.

The Life Remodeled Project was an ambitious philanthropic project that was conducted in the area. It attempted to identify challenges and opportunities in every aspect of a students life at Cody High; not just those that directly impact their academic performance. For example, if a student is experiencing serious problems at home then it's inevitable that those problems will bleed over into their schoolwork regardless of how much teachers may try to isolate them.

The Life Remodeled Project sought to address the challenges that these students face on a holistic level. Moreover, since this was shot during some of Detroit's darkest days, there were a lot of problems for them to work with.

A lot of problems.

I like that this documentary had enough grittiness in it to be authentic yet still captured the hope that permeates Detroit. I highly recommend watching it.

I found Cody High on Amazon Prime. However, it is probably available elsewhere as well.

Review: So Many Doors by Oakley Hall

So Many Doors - Cover art by Robert McGinnis
For the first time in 60 years, So Many Doors by Oakley Hall is available in publication. This 320-page mystery/crime novel was called, “beautiful, powerful, even masterful” by novelist Michael Chabon.

The story behind So Many Doors begins where most other novels would end. The reader meets a condemned prisoner who has been sentenced to death for the murder of a beautiful young woman. In the opening chapter, Hall doesn’t tell us who exactly this character is – only that he is on Death Row for murder and that he has no interest in challenging his sentence.

From there, the author takes his reader back in time to the murdered woman’s teen years. Her name, by the way, is Vassila Caroline Baird but everyone calls her V. In the early chapters, we get to know V, her family, her neighbor, and the ranch that she grew up on in California.

As the story continues, V grows into adulthood and moves away from her childhood home. The reader continues to meet new characters and learn more about them as V continues into her late-teens and into her 20s.

With each succeeding chapter, the reader can hardly help but notice that if someone had something a little differently or had done one small act a little different, the entire story may well have ended in a manner that was radically different from the initial encounter with a prisoner condemned to death for V’s murder.

The great mystery, of course, is the identity of this condemned prisoner for the opening pages. The reader meets several men in this story who may well have had the means, motive, and opportunity to murder V but only one of them did it.

As one chapter flows into the next, this novel presents its reader with so many options as to which one of these men could have been her killer. This fact only reinforces that the novel showcases dozens of different ways in which V’s life could have gone in another direction.

A direction that would not have resulted in V being murdered and this man condemned to Death Row.

This, in my opinion, is the main reason why So Many Doors is such a fascinating and enjoyable mystery novel to read. The reader not only follows the story that resulted in V’s murder but is called to imagine all the different lives that she could have lived along the way.

So Many Doors by Oakley Hall is published by Hard Case Crime. It is available at bookstores everywhere or by clicking the banner below to read sample chapters at Amazon.com.

The paperback version of this mystery novel is priced at $9.95 in the United States, $13.50 in Canada, or £7.99 in the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Warrendale Community Organization to meet Monday

Ken Cockrel addresses the WCO - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Warrendale Community Organization will have its next general meeting on Monday, March 4  from 7-8 pm. The group will meet in the Activities Building at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville).

The guest speaker for this month will be from the-Detroit Area Agency on Aging. The meeting will also feature a series of community updates.

Everyone in the neighborhood is invited to attend this meeting.

Spring will be here in...

SS Peter & Paul Catholic Church in the spring - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I would like to remind everyone that spring arrives in Detroit in 21 days, 7 hours, 4 minutes, and 18 seconds from now.

Not that I'm counting or anything.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Windstorm knocks down trees in Warrendale

Fallen tree - Image from Pixabay

The windstorm that we are currently experiencing brings with a possibility that trees may be knocked down. If anyone sees a fallen tree in the neighborhood, please report it to the City of Detroit's Forestry Division by using the Improve Detroit app or by calling their emergency response number at (313) 590-3336.

Crews are currently in the field responding to such calls. They will remain out there for as long as they are needed.

The City of Detroit has three different priority levels for situations like this:

  1. Trees that are blocking streets will be cleared first regardless of whether it's one that was on city or private property;
  2. Trees from city property that are blocking driveways or doors at homes are their next priority; and
  3. Trees and branches that are down but not blocking anything are their lowest priority.
Again, anyone who sees a fallen tree in the Warrendale area is asked to report it via the Improve Detroit app or by calling (313) 590-3336.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Aging Gen-Xer reflects on Bill and Ted

Theatrical poster for Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
I learned a moment ago that Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure debuted in theaters 30 years ago today. As someone who saw this film at the movie theater in Fairlane Mall shortly after it came out, I suddenly feel very, very old.

The movie was, without a doubt, hilarious and inspiring. I've seen it a dozen times since it first came out. I enjoyed it on each occasion and frequently saw things in it that I hadn't noticed the first time.

Moreover, I spent much of the spring and early-summer of 1989 working Bill and Ted quotes into everyday conversations - a fact that annoyed more than a few college classmates as well as my friends and family.

Ed Solomon, one of the co-writers of the Bill and Ted script, posted images of the original, handwritten first draft to Twitter earlier today. The words that he attached to this thread are, in my opinion, powerful and poignant. Therefore, I want to share them here.

Anyway, aging Gen-Xer things aside, I want each of the people who follow my writing know that I love each and every one of you. Be excellent to one another, Detroiters!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

City of Detroit looking for young adults to help plan the future

The City of Detroit is seeking people between the ages of 15-25 to participate in meetings with them about the city's future. Young adults in that age range who live in the Warrendale area are invited to apply. There is a stipend that will be paid to those who participate.

Those residents who are interested should contact Lindsay Barrett at (313) 207-3696 or email her at barrettl [at] detroitmi [dot] gov.

A flyer from the City of Detroit with more details is available below.

Dinosaur discovered with heart-shaped tail

dinosaur heart-shaped tail Valentine's Day
Dinosaur with a heart-shaped tail - Illustration from the National Science Foundation
Just in time for Valentine's Day, the National Science Foundation announced the discovery of a new dinosaur that had a heart-shape at the end of its tail.

This dinosaur, which scientists are calling the Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia, lived more than 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous period in Earth's history. A research team that was funded by the National Science Foundation found these creatures fossils in Africa, where it once roamed.

I know that I'm a nerd because the news of a newly discovered dinosaur with a heart-shaped tail being announced in time for Valentine's Day really does amuse me more than any such an announcement really should.

For those who are interested, the National Science Foundation has more news and photographs about their latest discovery over here.

With this news further spread, I would like to join all of the dinosaurs in wishing everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond the very happiest of Valentine's Day. I hope today brings everyone the best of everything.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

District meeting set for February 26

There will be a community-wide meeting for District 7, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood and the parts of Detroit that are near it. This meeting will happen from 6 - 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26 at the Adam Butzel Recreation Complex (10500 Lyndon).

Representatives from Mayor Mike Duggan's office will host this meeting. Their focus for the evening will be on navigating through the different levels of state, county, and city government.

Residents of the 7th District in Detroit are invited to this meeting. RSVPs are appreciated, though. Please reach out to Mona Ali, district manager for our area, by emailing AliM [at] detroitmi [dot] gov.

Are you self-employed?

Modern workshop - Photo from Death to Stock
Are you self-employed or a freelancer? Do you own a small business?

If so then I invite you to click this link and sign up for Amazon for Business. It's free to set up an account and, once you've done so, you will qualify for special business-only pricing on many of the products that you and your business already use.

It's everything that you love about Amazon. For your business.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Detroit Police and Wayne County Sheriff to host hiring event

Police officer on patrol in Detroit - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Detroit Police Department and the Wayne County Sheriff will have a joint hiring event on Thursday, February 21 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Northwest Activities Center (18100 Meyers Rd). Recruiters from both agencies will be there accepting applications.

In order to be considered, applicants must:

  • Able to obtain a concealed pistol license;
  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Possess a valid Michigan drivers license;
  • Have 20/20 vision or vision that is corrected to 20/20;
  • High school diploma or GED;
  • No felony convictions; and
  • U.S. citizen.

In addition, applicants must be able to pass the MCOLES tests in order to be hired by the Detroit Police Department. Those applying to the Wayne County Sherrif's Department must be able to pass the MSCTC (Sheriff)

Please share this with anyone who might be interested in a career in law enforcement.

Things that make me laugh

Screenshot from my email this afternoon - Photo by Frank Nemecek

From the category of things that make me laugh, I got an email today from Amazon.com that recommended a certain book. The simple fact that they sent me such an email, in and of itself, is not big deal.

It's really what Amazon recommended that I should read next that made me laugh.

I mean, I have absolutely no idea why the folks at Amazon would think that I'd be interested in a science fiction novel called The Roswell Chronicles by some guy named Frank Nemecek.

No idea at all.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Detroit gets double the good news

A new day in Detroit | Photo by Frank Nemecek
Detroiters got two pieces of good news today. Both of which point to continued recovery for the Motor City.

First, Standard's & Poor's announced that they raised the City of Detroit's credit rating. The credit agency said in part “Detroit is demonstrating the ability to meet its budget demands, while also providing a strong reserve cushion against unexpected events or stagnating revenues,. They went on to add that Detroit “must continue investing in public infrastructure and economic development initiatives” to help stabilize its population and tax base.

I know simply from being in this neighborhood that things are getting better in Detroit on a slow but steady basis. Regardless, it's exciting to have an international agency like Standard's & Poor's confirm what I have been telling everyone for some time now.

More details about the improved credit rating for Detroit is available here.

The second piece of good news came from the Detroit Fire Department. They confirmed that 2018 saw the lowest number of structure fires in our city since the 1960s. This was a 42% drop in fires since 2014.

The Detroit News has more on this drop in structure fires on their website.

There are a lot of people who have put an enormous amount of work into making these two things happen. I thank each and every one of them and look forward to more great things for Detroit in the near future.

UPS delivers happiness

A stack of happiness | Photo by Frank Nemecek
UPS delivered two packages of happiness to me this afternoon. It was a stack of soon-to-be-released novels for me to read and review on this blog.

There's a lot of promising titles in this group. A Bloody Business by Dylan Struzan is your classic dark crime novel. I've only skimmed through the others but All My Colors by David Quantick, The Smoke by Simon Ings, Ruin's Wake by Patrick Edwards, and Zero Bomb by M.T. Hill all look like they're going to be a great read.

Look for a series of new book reviews to appear on this blog towards the end of this month.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Detroit police announce explosion training

Detroit Police - Stock photo from Pixabay
The Detroit Police Department announced this afternoon that their bomb squad will have three explosive effects training sessions later this spring that will happen in Rouge Park. During each of these sessions, the archery range will be closed to the public. Also, residents and visitors near the park may hear explosive sounds, which should not be cause for alarm.

The three training sessions for the Detroit Police Department will happen on:
  1. Tuesday, May 7;
  2. Tuesday, May 14; and
  3. Tuesday, May 21.
Each of these three sessions will start at 7 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m. Again, residents and visitors near Rouge Park in Detroit should not be alarmed when they hear explosive sounds during any of these three time periods.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Good bye to Google+

A total of 92 people follow this blog by its page on Google Plus. For those individuals, I wanted to make a quick post to remind everyone of the various ways that you can still keep up today with everything on this blog and, in turn, with the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit now that Google Plus is going away.

One of the most popular was is to get an email alert every time that I post new content. Readers can either get an individual alert or a daily digest depending on their preference. To sign up for these alerts, all one has to do is enter your email address where it says "receive email alerts" on the upper left corner of this blog. The folks at FeedBlitz will take care of the rest.

In addition, most of the content from this blog is republished on its Facebook page. Liking that page will put new posts into your newsfeed.

My personal favorite, though, is to keep track of 14 blogs that I read on a daily basis through an RSS reader. This puts the content into one stream that you can follow from there. I personally use Feeder but there are several other very good RSS readers out there.

No matter how you keep track of what is happening in Detroit and the Warrendale neighborhood in particular, I thank you for making the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog a part of your life.

More than 1,400 people have chosen to make my writing a part of their daily life. I am grateful for each and every one of you.

Happy Chinese New Year

Today is the Chinese New Year with the Year of the Pig beginning today. According to Chinese mythology, today is the luckiest day of the year. Please keep this in mind if anyone is debating whether or not to buy that lottery ticket or head to the casino today.

As for myself, if anyone needs me for the rest of today, I'll be at home. I'll most likely be eating Chinese take-out and watching Jackie Chan movies until I pass out around midnight.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Prepare for floods, Detroiters

Flooding | Stock photo from Pixabay
During the next three days, the weather forecast shows a rapid change in the temperatures – a possible 60-degree swing – and expected rainfall starting Sunday. Both of these factors bring the possibility of severe flooding. The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department encourages residents and businesses to follow the recommended tips this weekend and into the upcoming week.

  • Call DWSD at (313) 267-8000 if you see standing, gushing or bubbling water;
  • Avoid driving through standing water;
  • Clear snow, ice and debris from above and around the catch basins (storm drains) near your property; offer to help nearby senior citizens do the same;
  • Look at your downspouts and remove any snow or debris that may be at the point where the water exits;
  • Move snow away from the outside walls of your house or building. Rapid snowmelt could seep into basement walls that are not properly sealed;
  • Check your basement drain to make sure it's not clogged. Any water that enters your basement needs to drain properly;
  • Stay clear of standing water in your basement if the area includes electrical appliances, outlets, or a fuse box.

DWSD appreciates the patience of residents and businesses as we respond to an increase in water main breaks during and following the deep freeze. They temporarily re-assigned staff who normally work on sewer maintenance to assist with assessing and repairing the pipes. More than 200 DWSD employees are working in the field.

With temperatures rising today and into the weekend, DWSD and its contractors are now able to work on the backlog of repairing the water mains. It was unsafe for crews to perform underground repairs during extremely cold temperatures. Crews will be working through the weekend.

Report street flooding by calling DWSD at (313) 267-8000, or use the Improve Detroit SeeClickFix mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Surviving the polar vortex

Hot Toddy | Photo by Timothy Krause/Flickr
Between the polar vortex that is gripping the Midwestern United States and everyone in the Detroit area being asked to turn their thermostats down so DTE and Consumers Energy don't run out of natural gas, I figure that I need to do something to make the lives of my loyal readers a little bit better.

Therefore, I give you, my dear reader, the one thing everyone needs to get a day like this: the recipe for a perfect hot toddy from our friends at Epicurious.

A Google search shows that there are roughly 2.1 million recipes for a hot toddy online today - each putting a slightly different twist on this classic beverage. I have researched many different recipes over the past week. I have come to believe that Epicurious has the best of them all.

One can find their recipe for a hot today online here.

Stay warm, Detroiters.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Freezing temperatures bring dangers

As I write this post, it is only 14 degrees above zero Fahrenheit in Detroit. Moreover, the weather forecast calls for it to get even colder and for this weather to last for more than a week. Weather such as this poses some very serious problems for those among us who are already having a tough time.

Anyone who lives within the city of Detroit who does not have heat in their home is asked to call the Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department for help. Their telephone number is (313) 628-2451.

Also, anyone who finds themselves suffering from extreme cold is asked to call 9-1-1.

Finally, the City of Detroit has released a flyer outlining places where people can take emergency shelter from this cold weather. It is located above.

Please share this information widely. One never knows who will need it.

Class 2019-A graduates from Detroit Police Academy

Graduates of the Detroit Police Academy take the oath of office | Photo courtesy of Detroit Police Department

Class 2019-A graduated from the Detriot Police Academy earlier today. These new law enforcement officers are pictured above took the office of office before being awarded their badge by Chief James Craig.

I believe that I speak for all Detroiters when I say congratulations to these police officers and welcome to the Thin Blue Line. We expect great things from you and stand ready to support you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ridiculous Amount of Fun

Winter - Photo from Pixabay
It was a random Saturday morning last February when my phone started blowing up. "You have to get down here," one friend insisted in a text message.

"Where are you?" another friend asked.

I ignored the first couple of messages. I shrugged off the third and fourth messages, too.

I even assumed that the fifth and sixth messages about this fun run that was happening downtown that day was some kind of a prank.

By the time the eighth text message came in, I was in my car and heading downtown. I was still skeptical about what this Cupid's Undie Run was. However, I had succumbed to a toxic mixture of curiosity and FOMO to put my skepticism aside for at least a few minutes.

And I'm really glad that I did. I only managed to see the tail end of it, but I saw enough to know that the 2018 Cupid's Run in Detroit was simply a ridiculous amount of fun.

I was excited, therefore, to learn that the Cupid's Undie Run will return to Detroit on Saturday, February 9. Things will kick off at noon at The Fillmore (2115 Woodward Ave.) in downtown. There will be a brief (15 minutes or so) run around downtown with most of the participants wearing their colorful underwear. After that, it's back to the Fillmore for more fun.

The entire event raises money for the Children's Tumor Foundation, which funds research into neurofibromatosis or NF. It is also a ridiculous amount of fun and it's for a good cause.

Channel 95.5 captured video evidence of how much fun a previous installment of the Cupid's Undie Run was and I'm embedding it below. From what I hear, this year's installment will be just as much fun if not more so.

The event this year will include music from DJ Prevu. There will also be the usual madness of the pre- and post-run parties at the Fillmore.

And did I mention that Cupid's Undie Run is a ridiculous amount of fun? Yeah, well, it is.

Anyway, more details about the 2019 installment of Cupid's Undie Run can be found on their website, which also has a link to where one can register. Check it all out here.