“Gobble Gobble!” Thanksgiving, Northern Michigan and Family

Perhaps Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s front-loaded.  All the work is done on the first day and the rest of the weekend is comprised of football, avoiding the mall and general digestion. Throughout the late 1970s and into the early 1990s,when the above couch wasn’t full of random cousins it served as my bed.  In 1984, I was a college sophomore, stressed out completely, and couldn’t wait to drive with my family five hours north to my Aunt Joan and Uncle Bill’s cottage on Oden Island, just north of Petoskey, Michigan. We’d load up the station wagon, pray for no icy roads on Wednesday evening and get going on I-75, along with a couple thousand other travelers–some, like us, not wearing hunting orange and plaid. It was one of those fatigued moments of joy when we’d drive across the steep bridge to the island and down the road… Read More…

Michigan Charter Schools Attempt Millage-Pillage & 20 Years of Arizona School Carpetbagging

And from the “Ain’t It Ironic” department… Charter schools in Michigan decided they want a level playing field. “We have ten percent of our students who attend charter schools in my county,” said bill sponsor Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. “And I feel like it’s an equity issue.” (link) The GOP leaders aren’t satisfied with just dipping their corporate bills into state per-pupil funding (with far less oversight needed than traditional schools), they now want a piece of local districts’ property tax millage. Michigan Senate Bill 574 proposes a handy crossed-out edit of the 1976 law… It’s just one little edit–few would notice or even really grasp the big deal.  And it’s one way to fix a “broken system,” much like repairing your car by removing a tire.  But Randy Liepa of Wayne RESA responds… “Charter schools by and large don’t have to pay into the retirement system for their teachers. Typically they don’t… Read More…

“So if the election were held today…” An Unscientific Survey of Non-Hillary Voters

One of my favorite get-togethers has always been the night before a wedding or reunion–everyone’s in town and it’s much more casual in some bar than the big shin-dig the next day.  But one of those great nights was tainted on September 11th, 1998 with the release of Kenneth Starr’s report on Bill Clinton (link). One year earlier, I had been ridiculed by one of the guys when I admitted voting not once but twice for Clinton.  While I knew many of my friends were clearly planted on the opposite side of the political spectrum we’d always handled our differences smoothly; but that night seemed to move beyond the friendly rivalry, beyond my buddies’ standard bewilderment about rooting for the Lions.  It felt very personal, very judgmental–that I was being regarded as a naive, weak fool–a 1998 “snowflake.”  I have always had friends who voted differently than me, but I don’t recall ever questioning their intelligence and morals the… Read More…

10 Tips from 25 Years of Marriage – From Sweetest Day Toilet Repairs to Bathtub Duty

Twenty-five years ago, I was playing tennis the morning of my marriage.  I don’t normally whack myself in the forehead with my tennis racquet but that was what happened.  Look carefully at my wedding pictures and you’ll see the little knot.  My blushing bride Patrice couldn’t stop laughing and said, “Well that was a dumb thing to do!” Twenty five years ago–and it just happened–that tennis game, wedding, birth of two kids, two houses, eight cats, four barbecue grills and 4,000 students just happened, Somehow our marriage keeps moving along at light speed–after just a quick two week period of dating and six month engagement.  We’d eaten lunch together for the first two months of the school year in the teacher’s lounge but it started in the school parking lot as we left a faculty meeting. Patrice:  “So what are you doing tonight?” Kevin:  “Um.  I was thinking about asking you out.” We were… Read More…

House on the Hill or the Shack in the Shade? Bungalows Depart from Suburbs with the Middle Class

Probably midway through junior high was when I finally put some kind of tie between the size of a house and the income-level of the dad who pulled up in the driveway at dinnertime.  I didn’t notice that one pal’s father was an executive at Ford and the other guy’s dad fixed transmissions (way cooler, by the way).  The most awesome dads coached little league or took us to Tiger games; the coolest moms were den-mothers for the cub scouts or didn’t mind us screaming “Marco Polo” for eleven straight hours in their above-ground pool. Clawson, Michigan remains a small town with hundreds of ranches on the 1960s “newer” north end of town and the bungalows and frame houses from the twenties when you cross Main street nearly one mile away.  24 years ago, I moved a full two miles away to Royal Oak an older cousin to Clawson with a cemetery that boasts… Read More…

Day 28 – The Reichstag Fire, “Dangerous” Immigrants & Emergency Decrees

“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” Thus, in typical thin-skin, knee-jerk Twitter-ese, President Trump issues a Don Corleone “and that day may never come” warning in the wake of a court-ruling stalling his seven-country travel ban. Nothing makes people more willing to give up their rights than an emergency.  And nothing primes the pump better for an emergency decree than a worst-case-scenario actually happening. Adolf Hitler didn’t take over Germany by force–he was elected chancellor, not dictator in 1932 and sworn in on January 30, 1933.  He promised change, jobs for the working class and most importantly plenty of scapegoats to blame for losing WWI and the nation’s terrible economy.  A 24-year-old out-of-work bricklayer provided Hitler his “sign from God.” Hitler hadn’t been in office for a month when the Reichstag was set fire, the guilty… Read More…

Back to the Classroom, Slide Projectors, Mountains & Mole Hills

Four years ago, my intended formula for this blog was pretty simple–pick a form of media (TV show, movie, billboard, cat footprints) and let it take you down a path or two.  But the last path I took was in August, before I returned to the high school classroom for my 26th year.  Being in an office setting since 2012 certainly gave me more physical and creative energy for activities like blogging as well as producing a documentary series, but it also pulled me a bit away from some basic reality-check questions that I’ve always enjoyed from teenagers–beyond “Can you give me passing grade and a pass to go home?” The days following Election Day produced some poignant conversations for this English major turned video production teacher–with just a minor in US History. Q.  How can the losing candidate can have 3 million more votes–and what the hell is an Electoral College? It’s certainly a… Read More…

Cheers to the 19th Amendment–96 Years Ago Today!

Welcome to MMD’s newest contributor, Bailey Sisoy Isgro, owner of Detroit History Tours! August 18th should be a national holiday. We should make potato salad and grill hot-dogs. Fireworks should be loosed and kids should wear patriotically themed face paint. It’s the anniversary of the liberation and equalization of the largest disenfranchised group in the history of America. Women.  On August 18th 1920 The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, was ratified into the U.S. Constitution. Ninety six years ago today, women in America earned the right to vote. The amendment was the culmination of more than 250 years of amazing, honorable, courageous suffragists who fought the injustice of being governed by officials they were unable to elect. Its two sections read simply: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account… Read More…

Please De-Friend Me! A 12-Step Facebook Litmus Test

I’m often baffled by anyone who want to be friends with me–particularly about lefty agenda items that can’t be shaken out of my brain through a meme or “But Hillary did worse!” argument. Maybe they are on an evangelical Karl Rove mission to let me see my folly–or perhaps they’re just fans of NASCAR crashes and fifth grade choir concerts.  It’s like me saying, “You say you sell Amway?  Let’s hear all about it!” I think the Zuckerbergians in the bowels of Facebook should develop a litmus-test for friends, replacing the holistic score we give folks as we look over our friends “in common” before we let them in our virtual lives of cats, knee injuries and occasional political viewpoints. No one likes unpleasant surprises, such as finding out your house-closing that your new neighbor can’t stand people with consonants in their names.  I’d love a Zillow rating system such as a “Cup of Sugar” score of 9 indicating the likelihood to… Read More…

Podcast: Inside the Detroit Blues Society

  Join  host Pete Kalinski from Royal Oak’s Boo’s Music Bistro inside Mr. B’s Restaurant as he welcomes two of the city’s foremost fans and promoters of Detroit’s legendary blues legacy–President of the Detroit Blues Society, Steve Soviak and Vice President Tom McNab. It’s first meeting in 1985 began a multi-decade of transformations to increase public interest in the Society. Large-scale events included a number of indoor and outdoor concerts and school workshops. Increased membership and a more organized approach allowed the Society to embark on special projects. Educational programs became more formalized and in 1996 the Scarab Club Educational/Blues Heritage Series began. Each event featured a theme based on some aspect of the Detroit blues tradition. Pete, Steve and Tom discuss the non-profit’s innovations including Blues in the Schools and the Blues Challenge as the group continues to dedicate itself to the preservation, education, and advancement of the blues tradition as it relates to the Metro-Detroit area…. Read More…

The Legacy and Questionable Power of My Father’s Puns

My dad had three puns that were so bad, they were only permitted on his birthday–and one was pretty challenging to employ on June 28th. Jim Walsh would have been 76 years old today.  He came from a long line of punsters and its with mixed emotions that his grandchildren also subject unsuspecting audiences to his legacy. At his funeral, 19 years ago, we passed around two leather-bound green books for folks to jot down their favorite memories of my dad, a precurser to the amazing testimonial strings found on Facebook at the passing of a loved one. My college buddy Dan added two of his favorite groaners from my dad’s visit to campus on his tri-state route, often in the South Bend area selling windshields to RV companies.  (“I’m like Lenin–I’m in glass.”).  He’d not only take me out for pizza, but invited me to bring along some pals–nothing like a… Read More…

Empathy Be-Damned, Just Find Your Foxhole and Someone to Blame

When a tragic event happens, we’ve changed from a nation of mourners to a nation of soldiers in foxholes.  We’re stunned by the first noise then dive for cover and peek above the rim and fire away, perhaps taking aim.  Hurry!  Which hole will be yours–the gorilla’s, the parent’s or the zookeeper’s? Gorillas don’t kill people, the zoo does!  Do the same people in favor of shooting the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla support banning AR-15s?  After all, neither is by default a man-killer, but, in the wrong circumstances they can be as deadly as a seven year-old driving your minivan. If you’re in favor of keeping zoo patrons safe from the tigers, why should a semi-automatic weapon be able to be purchased legally by someone investigated by the FBI? Again, pick a foxhole! Sunday morning America woke to the news of the deadliest massacre in US history.  If you took to Facebook like I did and expressed your sorrow… Read More…

Solar Power In Bizarro World

Look, just because this is being written from a parallel universe, you’d be wrong to think that everyone over here is so totally freaky that you couldn’t possibly carry on a conversation with any of us without a cheat sheet in your breast coat pocket. “There’s more that unites us than divides us.” Isn’t that what the bumper sticker makers say?  Well, I’ve always put my faith in their deep wisdom and I think you should do the same. I’ll give you a ‘for instance’ because over here, just like over there, a quality ‘for instance’ makes everything so much easier to understand.  For instance, don’t assume that we on our side of the wormhole don’t damn well love to see John Wayne punch a hippy in his shaggy face, so we can hear the hairy dude whimper “not cool man” as he collapses like a house of cards onto the Duke’s unswept… Read More…

Defining the American Masses: The Common Man or Third-Graders without a Chaperone?

“You’ve reached group-sales for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  How may I help you?” “Hi there!  Our third-graders are touring Manhattan and we thought we could bring them by tomorrow.” “Certainly.” “That’s great.  This chaperoning is wearing us down so thought we’d drop them off in the morning, catch a show and a few beers and pick them up around 5 or so, if that’s okay” “Umm….Well, we need to have the kids chaperoned…because, you know, there’s a lot of priceless items…” “Thanks so much.  We’ll be by at 10!” There aren’t too many teachers or directors of any respected institution that would permit this scenario.  After all, it’s hard to take a selfie of you and Van Gogh if there’s some kid drawing horns sticking out of the straw hat.  But lately, we’re okay with our other famously innovative institution being taken over by the kids—namely our country. Perhaps… Read More…

McMansions and Boo Radley–Paving the Way for Progress, Right Over a Royal Oak Neighborhood

Featured on May 16 Detroit Channel 7 news (link). I suppose I was guilty, but they were such pretty trees.  The city of Royal Oak sent me my warning that a fine was on its way if I didn’t take care of the maples growing in my garage gutter. Meanwhile, down the block, we’ve got our own version of the Boo Radley home that has sat vacant for nearly four years. My wife doesn’t like to walk too near it because of the rats that have been seen. It looks nice from one side… but that’s only if you’re driving pretty quickly and don’t notice the hole in the door… But apparently my gutters were more important than this little eyesore right off Normandy road. If you turn the corner toward Greenfield Road you’ll see another odd sight, a public park that was turned overnight into a “parking space” for construction equipment…. Read More…

Recipe for a Great Mom – Reflections from One Outnumbered Male

I was sifting through my students’ essays when I came across this undeniably true thesis statement… “If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” I resisted the urge to add to the margin in snarky red ink, “No kidding.”–maybe even with a little smiley face.  After 25 years, that line is still is one of my favorites along with “UFOs are possible” (which is true, they are unidentified) and “Mr. Walsh, you don’t really read these journal entries, do you?” (to which I added, “No”). But on Mother’s Day, I’ll borrow a bit from my student’s paper and tweak it a bit… “If it weren’t for the mothers in my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” When my wife laughs that I’m often more of a feminist than she is–I observe it’s not from any noble ideal, it was simply self-preservation–growing up with my dad traveling 3 days a week… Read More…

Prince – December 10th, 1981 Cobo Arena Detroit. The first time I heard music.

Originally posted by Lee Patrick Sullivan for DiggingDetroit.com. Like most kids growing up in Suburban Detroit, I was first introduced to Prince by The Electrifying Mojo, the legendary underground DJ on WGPR. I was a card carrying member of the Midnight Funk Association. Mojo had been going on for hours about this 19year-old kid from Minneapolis who was going to take over the world. Then shortly after Midnight, and after I raised my hand and “Pledged Allegiance to The Funk”, Mojo played “Soft and Wet” – I was hooked. From that day on, I have bought all of Prince’s 47 albums the day they were released. Many years, waiting in line at The Music Stop in Clawson Center, or Harmony House at the Oakland Mall before they opened, so I would get the first album out of the box. Over the years, I have gone to 46 Prince concerts. Each one… Read More…

Mr. Greene’s Show Tags: Lanyards and Legacy of One Man’s Life

I don’t think I am alone here. When you reach a certain age and stage in life, you come to the table with a certain level of common sense and experience that you think backs up your values, beliefs and opinions. So, there are many areas of life that I have experience in but I am not a professional. I take my combined experience — mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, lawyer, teacher, book lover, movie and theatre lover— and I use it all when I process the world around me. Situation dependent, certain parts of this experience may overshadow others. Many have seen my mama bear take charge; others the lawyer, teacher, friend etc. Whichever controls, I universally try to follow the signs. I’m on overload this week.  The sudden unexpected death of my daughters’ theatre teacher and mentor, my friend, Micah Greene, set these wheels in motion.  Saturday, the… Read More…

Loss of My Roommate, Micah – Champion of the Big Idea and the Little Guy

Classrooms and schedules can make strange bedfellows.  Yesterday, I lost my roommate of 10 years, Micah Greene.  And like a brother who shares a bunkbed for so long, you become so in tune to his tossings and turnings, snoring and other idiosyncrasies that you stop paying attention–at least consciously. Drama teacher Micah Greene came to West Bloomfield High School in 2003, the second year of the new TV studio whose courses I was asked to create.  He was a proud Western Michigan Bronco who had also spent some time at a Kalamazoo television station.  He was a natural to teach extra sections of our Beginning Video Production program once the program got rolling and had more sections than hours available. As any teacher can tell you, teaching from a cart can be a hectic process as you roll your wares down a quarter mile of hallway during rush hour in the… Read More…

An Artist I Know – Francis Bennigan

This is a series I’ve created to share the work of interesting and creative writers, musicians, actors, directors, producers, and much more. If you’re creating it I’ll share it. These interviews will be taking shape as I develop them and may be published as podcasts and/or videos. Francis and I met in a musical theater class a couple of years ago at Lansing Community College. What I noticed about Francis was her sweet demeanor and total lack of ego. I was pleasantly surprised to learn she was a local to Lansing musician and was and is hard at work at creating her following. This conversation I had with her highlights some insights into her life and her craft of music making and songwriting. As a youngster Francis knew at the age of three that she wanted to be a musician. She had melodies in her head and wrote her own… Read More…

The $10 Voter-Apathy Tax: Avoiding Lead-Poisoning & Raising $1 Billion for Michigan

My first job was supposed to be as a dishwasher–until my buddy heard me mention I was applying for the job and got there an hour before me.  I ended up becoming the kitchen slopboy/custodian–mopping the basement and scraping out the grease under the prep table after the health department again threatened to shut down the swanky Pagoda. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Place your bets… The place is long-gone but I still have that first green pay-stub reflecting my 9 hours that July 1979–for $3 an hour.  I remember looking at the top right and seeing $27.00 “gross pay” (pretty accurate considering the nasty work).  Then at the bottom was “net pay” for six bucks less.  It was my first non-paper route payday so after I cashed the check, I asked my dad who had ripped me off. “Well,” he said pointing out the little boxes, “that’s the federal tax, that’s the state tax… Read More…