New Podcast: Archivists Roundtable at Historic Abick’s Bar in Detroit

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What to keep, what to throw away? The eternal question for the archivist. In a partnership with Digging Detroit, we take our podcast on the road and chat with some of Michigan’s top historical archivists in a roundtable discussion at historic Abick’s Bar on their unusual world–sometimes spent in dusty shelves and digging through dark basements and mysterious attics–but often waiting for you at the reference desk. They’ll share some familiar requests, general misconceptions, surprise treasures and offer some great advice for everyone on preserving documents, photographs and memories for posterity. Recorded August 4, 2015 at Abick’s Bar & Grill Host Pete Kalinski: … Read More…

Fr. Jack’s Open Mind, Open Heart & Open-Mic – Remembering to Breathe

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I thought of Fr. Jack Trese at the Traverse City Film Festival this weekend.  In its eleventh year, Michael Moore’s enormous contribution to the economy of northern Michigan has outgrown the city’s world-famous Cherry Festival.  Even staunch conservatives in town are giving him his due for spearheading the 6-day screenings with thousands of friendly volunteers assisting at the film-camps, youth activities, shuttle buses, ticket booths, outdoor movies and panel discussions open to the public. We left our campsite early Saturday morning, riding our bikes to the Opera House to get in line for the Comedy Panel.  We got great seats … Read More…

Playpens, Curfews and Trust: Our Responsibility to Children

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One of the longer hours you can put a teacher through isn’t monitoring lunch or that final 60 minutes before spring conferences are over–it’s at an in-service, the mandatory training that the state, city, superintendent or your principal inflicts upon educators.  Topics can range from the terrors of airborne pathogens to the correct way to open your laptop.  Michigan teachers are required to attend 30 such hours by law and most fall under the same sad irony found in the half-day seminar on the twenty-minute attention span. But somehow, in 1991, I found myself at a training that stays with … Read More…

New Podcast: Woodwords! Launching (and Maintaining) a Blog & Podcast with Kale Davidoff

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Woodwords, “Your Detroit Avenue to Alternative Pop Culture and Talk” is a new blog and podcast created by MMD contributing writer and podcaster Kale Davidoff. Kale joins Kevin to discuss: The first two months of a blog Writers and stage-fright The big thing before the big thing (aka “Off the Wall” pre “Thriller”) Cold-calling special guests for podcasts Just diving in and keep on swimming forward Surprises and the fun of evesdropping at the table next to you at the bar Marketing blog-posts with Facebook and Twitter trends Maintaining a blog Power of a deadline Consistency of Vanna White

2015 Tonys: Don’t Sell Your TV Audience Short

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Welcome to our newest contributor, veteran Broadway performer, Daniel Marcus! First…Anybody else notice that the schtick that Larry David obviously wrote for himself was the only genuinely clever, smart, slightly daring and actually (I laughed) funny material of the night? For me the high point was easily “Ring of Keys” – the low point-maybe cutting off the applause for “Ring of Keys” to do an E.T. gag that was there to patronize a tv audience who let’s face it-know what they’re turning on. The Tonys are always (and always have been) the lowest rated of the big 5 tv award … Read More…

“Me too!” – Graduation of a Kind Soul

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“Me too!” My mom actually had a dress decorated for my three year-old daughter with her all-inclusive expression painted above a daisy. Abby came into my life five weeks before my father left it.  She was kind enough to arrive ten days early, at the respectable time of mid-afternoon for Patrice, who doesn’t mind a good night’s sleep.  Abby’s is a good old soul and today she’s done with high school. We were worried that her kindness would make her vulnerable, the same happy-wherever-she-is spirit that endeared my father to so many people.  But our fears were eliminated one day … Read More…

Grass-Clippings, Transistor Radios & Ernie Harwell – Summer Memories of Tiger Baseball

Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey broadcasting a Tigers game.

“On summer nights, before anyone had air-conditioning,” recollects my friend Tony Shaieb, “you could walk down the street and listen to Ernie Harwell call the entire ball game through the open windows.” Tony’s memories are quite a bit more romantic than the eerie bluish-glow from my neighborhood’s 60″ plasmas tuned to Fox Sports Detroit My wife and I were taking the dog for a walk last night and I had a similar flashback to the legendary Tigers broadcaster. A few of my more enthusiastic neighbors who foolishly believe in fertilizer found themselves already mowing the young grass—and what better time to run … Read More…

New Podcast: GM’s “Google Years” with Ken Pickering, former Director of Engineering

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Ken Pickering, GM’s retired Executive Director, Engineering and Design Services, joins Digging Detroit’s Kevin Walsh and Pete Kalinski to discuss his career in the exciting years of design in the 1950s and beyond. Moving from western Pennsylvania to WWII to GM Hard work combined with some great breaks Harley Earl & Bill Mitchell How long a car takes from design to production Women in design via Harley Earl The Corvette SR2 created in 5 weeks for Earl’s son Henry Ford, Willow Run and the Arsenal of Democracy Motorama—Harley Earl’s Manhattan Runway Man’s love-affair with cars David Temple’s new book Motorama:  GM’s Legendary … Read More…

Dial a Prayer: Little Miracles on an Indie Set

Aral Gribble (leaping) with Kate Flannery and William H. Macy.

In February 2014 I received a text from Jason Potash, producer of Storyboard Entertainment’s Dial a Prayer.   “How old is your house?”  I wrote back “1929.”  He was back home in Detroit with writer/director Maggie Kiley and they were scouting locations for their upcoming film to be shot in the area.  They stopped by 90 minutes later and while our old house didn’t make the cut, we ended up dropping in on nine other friends in Royal Oak that same night—two of their houses ended up in the film, one by pure chance. We were stepping out of my friend Micah’s brick home on Hawthorne when … Read More…

New Podcast: Fathers, Daughters, Wedding Songs & Horse Racing with Ladd Biro

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Ladd Biro has loved music and been a performer his entire life–but never wanted to be a starving artist either.  For 40 years he has worked in the entirely non-9-to-5 world of the track–and been in bands and created albums. He contacted Kevin Walsh about creating a music video for “In Days Gone By,” a song that a friend of his wrote for his niece’s wedding–dedicated to the special relationship between a father and daughter. Ladd joins Kevin as they discuss: The world of horse-racing Loving music–and keeping it as part of your life The creation of “In Days Gone … Read More…

I Just Wanted A Chance

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  I walked into the local restaurant to order a grinder recently and saw a stack of business cards next to the register. After I ordered my food, I mindlessly flipped through them and saw the names of local businesses:   electricians, accountants, cleaners. I looked up at the owner and she said “don’t you have a card Steve?” “No,” I lied. I paused. Then I changed my answer. “Yes, but no one will call me if I leave it.” The waitress eating her food on break didn’t even look up and responded, “No one will call you if you … Read More…

“Let Jim Run His Own Funeral” – Irish Laughter Through Tears

Jerry Kelly, St. Patrick's Day--1995

At the end of the 98-hour day that my father died, it surprised me that the hardest part wasn’t hearing “He didn’t survive surgery,” but instead having to tell others–the slow pressing of numbers of the phone, knowing that someone’s life is going to be changed right after, “Hi Kev.  What’s up?” In a strange twist of fate that afternoon, my three sisters, Katie, Colleen and Maureen were all en route to Detroit Metro within an hour of one another.  When they had left Chicago and New York, after our call from the hospital, they knew only what we were told—“Dad’s been in a bad … Read More…

New Podcast on 2015 Oscars: Our Experts on Birdman, NPH & Hanging Lightbulbs

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Following a contest on MyMediaDiary.com, the top three winners guessing the 24 categories from the 2015 Academy Awards, Collin Ward, Melissa Balan and Steve Palizzi, were invited by hosts Kevin Walsh and Kale Davidoff to discuss the following: Best and Worst of the Show Bad Clips Shown for Good Actors Underwhelming Films New Categories such as:Neil Patrick Harris and the Hosting Curse–Too Naughty/Too Nice Best Picture–5 Years from Now Best Trailer Best Stuntwork Best Voice-Over Work Recommended Changes The Academy Voters Country Club/US Senate Snubs Joan Rivers Popularity of Hanging Lightbulbs Birdman and Hollywood’s Love Affair with Itself In the podcast, Melissa … Read More…

Kicking Oscar Out of the Bingo Hall: Creating February Madness for the Academy Awards

Why Jack's never been asked to host...

I knew last night seemed familiar as the Academy Awards dripped by.  I was once again trapped in the living room of my grandmother’s 1974 Florida mobile home.  The room was stuffy; there was nowhere to go, even shuffleboard or laps on the awesome giant tricycles were forbidden to all under 65–and the pond had gators, reportedly. Last night I watched my 40th consecutive Oscars.  It began when I was in fifth grade with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest sweeping the major awards.  With the advent of cable TV’s 400 more channels, Twitter-feeds and on-demand viewing a lot has changed.  Except for the Oscars. Stuck in Lawrence Welk-Land It still starts at … Read More…

Pick the Oscar Winners and Become the Next MMD Podcaster!

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Predict how tonight’s ceremonies will go! Will it be a laugh-riot or a slow-motion train wreck? At least this year, there’s less certainty of the 1-2 front-runners.  But with John Travolta’s famous mispronunciation last year along with Kim Novak’s awkward moment, there’s always more to watch than the happy and pretending-to-be-happy faces of the nominees. The winner (or winners) will be invited to join us on our post-op podcast this week! Loading…   For some other Oscar-related posts… Kale Davidoff’s review of Whiplash Our 2014 Post-Oscar Podcast–covering the highs, lows and bizarres Steve Palizzi’s fun 2014 Oscar-picks Robert Phillips examines Seth … Read More…

Which America is Yours? A Proposed Four-Party Hogwarts Government

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Maybe Washington could do with a leach or two… If you were sick in ancient Greece your body’s chemicals were simply off-kilter–a bad mix of the four humours:  blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile… There are four seasons (for now), four legs on a chair and four balls for a free base–but only two parties running the country.  Have you had much luck on a two-legged stool lately? Wouldn’t it be great if, like mood rings, we could glance at someone’s wardrobe and know who we’re about to ask to babysit your kid?  The Scots had it right–you could spot an enemy clansman running … Read More…

What Do They Know? Bandwagon Fandom and Arm Chair Coaching – Super Bowl 49

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I watched this year’s NFC Championship Game with my brother and even with my new-found appreciation for Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers, I stood tall rooting for the Seattle Seahawks. My brother was rooting for the Packers and Oliva Munn’s boyfriend. The Packers took a 16-7 lead into the fourth quarter of a game where the Seahawks, uncharacteristically, had more turnovers than your neighborhood bakery shop. Regardless, I told my brother—with Richard Sherman-esque confidence—that the Seahawks were going to win the game. And when a perfectly gift-wrapped pigskin express package landed into Jermaine Kearse’s mitts to seal an overtime … Read More…

Turnaround Pistons Team Looks to Stay the Course on Heels of Leader’s Injury

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Achilles was the grandest warrior of the Trojan war. With godlike looks to match his skills on the battlefield, Achilles lead Agamemnon’s forces to legendary status. Achilles was a man to emulate and any athlete would be floored to be compared to—if not for the frailness in which his rival Paris disposed of him. It’s why on Saturday night when I received a text from my brother that said, simply, “Jennings f#$@ed,” my heart sank. I wasn’t watching the game. I was at a bar and it was loud and there were too many people there and I couldn’t see the TV … Read More…

New (and Old) Frontiers: Above Detroit with Aerial Photographer Alex MacLean

Brush Park to Downtown Detroit, MI. © 2015 Alex S. MacLean/New York Times

Alex MacLean has seen Detroit from the sky at various stages since 1980.  The large green-spaces below, for example, were once crowded neighborhoods and business districts in a city’s footprint that is large enough to fit Houston, Boston and Manhattan.  These grassy fields seen from Google Maps might be mistaken for parks. Similar green spaces a few miles north of town generally have bunkers and greens fees. A trained architect, pilot, author and photographer, MacLean lives in Massachusetts but has seen Detroit from above as Ronald Reagan received the Republican presidential nomination, for the 1998 demolition of the landmark Hudson Building and last autumn at  a request from the New York Times.  Each … Read More…

Assassins & Teamwork: Filmmaking (and Break-Making) for Cooper Brothers’ Film “Five Windows”

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Sometimes, feeling useless can feel quite nice–particularly on a movie set.  Hurry-up-and-wait sums it up, of course.  But if you’re just lurking like I tend to do, watching former students do their thing, you can be quite invisible and love every minute of it. As an extra in Gran Torino, on the other hand, I felt useless even though I did have a job to do.  I was told to walk down the street toward the Grosse Pointe hardware store and act like that wasn’t Clint Eastwood in front of me.  It took me five times, but I did it.  And when … Read More…