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 … Read More…

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

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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 … Read More…

From Detroit to the Bulge: Priceless Snapshots of One Soldier’s Journey Across Europe

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Before he was selected in WWII’s first draft for 18 year-olds, Detroit’s Lawrence Dupuis didn’t know the value of being color-blind.  “They would take me up in the aircraft and I could detect where the landscape had been disturbed and camouflage was laid down.” His cartooning skills were even put to use, although someone else would have to color the wall-sized illustration below:  “This drawing was painted on the stage of the Great Dunmow Airport Building that was to be used as an all-purpose room by the 8th Air Force who were to take over the field.  They sent over a sergeant to … Read More…

The Right to Bear Left: 2nd Amendment Mad-Libs, Replacing Cars for Guns

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What if, under an old desk in James Madison’s study,  the following were found scribbled on the back-side of the Second Amendment–the words in bold written into blank spots like a Mad Libs page… Amendment 2.5:  A well-regulated Transportation System, being necessary to the mobility of a free State, the right of the people to keep and conduct Transportation Devices, shall not be infringed. After all, the right to transport yourself is a pretty inalienable right, too, isn’t it? Eisenhower saw the immediate benefit of the German autobahn–allowing quick movement of Hitler’s troops across WWII.  But in addition to Cold War defense, Eisenhower also saw the expressways … Read More…

Two Brothers Swimming Against the Amazon: Rochester’s Village Lamp Shop

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Don’t tell me you haven’t done it–found something in a store, then guiltily taken out your phone to find a better deal on Amazon, Craig’s List or eBay. You could argue with your guilty ol’ self and say that in the days before apps, it was similar to heading into the tire store with a newspaper add of a competitor’s price and asking them to beat it.  But now, you just have to click the little button and the over-stressed Amazonians are already whisking down their sweatshop canyons of shelves to get your order out the conveyor belt before you reach your car–with the retail … Read More…

“Spotlight” on America’s Conscience: The Church, Jameis Winston & Refugees

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery of "Spotlight"

“It takes a village to raise them. It takes a village to abuse them. That’s the truth of it.” –Spotlight‘s Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci)    Michael Keaton’s character, Walter “Robbie” Robinson, in the newly-released Spotlight, is seeking Boston Globe confirmation of the Archdiocese cover-up for 70 priests involved in child molestation.  He passes the list to his longtime friend and attorney, “We all knew something was going on.” His friend kicks him out of his house and then follows Robbie into the street and asks him why he didn’t do anything–if he knew something was going on. Robbie pauses and can only say, … Read More…

New Podcast: “Detroit in World War II” with Author Greg Sumner

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Note:  This podcast was co-produced with Digging Detroit and can also be found at this link. A look inside the “Arsenal of Democracy” as Professor Gregory Sumner of University of Detroit Mercy joins Digging Detroit’s Thomas J. Reed Jr. and Detroit History Tours‘ Bailey Sisoy Isgro at Detroit’s historic Abick’s Bar.   Sumner previews his upcoming book-signing, Detroit in WWII, at Abick’s on November 10, 2015. Thanks to our Abick’s host, Eric and Kit, we visit with Prof. Sumner in the cigar room–formerly a barber shop.  Amazing eats was provided once again by Andy Surowiec of Smokin’ Pole BBQ! Topics include: Advantages of being an Hoosier looking … Read More…

Destroying the Decepticon in My Living Room – Cutting Cable TV’s $1K Umbilical Cord

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Our electric bill had jumped so much, I thought maybe three or four neighbors had run extension cords off the back of my garage.  We walked all around the house, examining every outlet, toaster, stereo and toothbrush charger–right past the culprit hiding in plain sight.  We were so used to its soft roar that it had become almost therapeutic–like a wave-machine in a sauna.  But, to quote Ross Perot, we finally identified “that sucking sound…” the cause of our depleting bank account–it was a Decepticon–the cable company’s Swiss army knife of doom–our modem/router/DVR/corkscrew. Apparently, according to my friend Scott Sowers, these bad boys … Read More…

New Podcast! Playwright Frank Anthony Polito and B.F.s!

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Playwright Frank Anthony Polito shares his journey from blue collar Hazel Park Michigan to New York’s theater scene, then back again, nearly 20 years later with a drama about his teenage years with his best friend–both discovering they are gay in the late 1980s. For two more weekends–through October 4th, audiences can share this remarkable show in Hazel Park at the the Slipstream Theatre Initiative’s production of “B.F.s!” (link to website). Topics include: Frank’s move journey home Writing a play (from an original novel) Basing characters on real people–and merging them Teenagers, friendships and drama Becoming a drama coach at your alma mater

Emmy Schools Oscar: 5 More Tips to Make the Academy Awards Less Eternal

Samberg releases a working HBO-Go account into the universe.

A film’s producer was asked about his DP—or “director of photography”—or “cinematographer” in case he’s nominated for anything. “He should be great,” he laughed. “But this is his first non-television gig. He might be too efficient!” Sunday’s Emmy Awards was a perfect example of the terrible crime of being too efficient. The Oscars are notoriously always late–– a tiresome joke that probably began with “Wings” in 1929. Last February I discussed kicking Oscar out of the bingo hall (link).  Not sure if anyone at ABC read it, but perhaps they noticed the show from the Fox producers of the Emmy Awards–Oscar’s “little brother on the little screen”–that now produces more … Read More…

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

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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…