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

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 owner, like your dog at the beginning of your work day, watching and your “Buy American” bumper sticker roll away. In the early 1960s, Tom Beuthien was called in for the unheard of–an exit interview at Ford Tractor.  “Nobody ever leaves Ford,” he was told by the bewildered HR guy…. Read More…

New Podcast: Detroit From Above – Alex S. MacLean’s Aerial Photography of Detroit

  Following the December 7, 2014 publication of his New York Times Sunday Review, “Detroit By Air” which examines the city’s dramatic haves and have-nots, photographer Alex MacLean is interviewed by Kevin Walsh and Thomas J. Reed, Jr. of the new website, DiggingDetroit.com. Topics include… Alex’s background, including his fear of flying leading to his pilot’s license Detroit’s past, present and future Regrowing urban communities Alex’s transition from aerial surveyor to gallery artist His favorite audiences Switching to digital, but still loving prints—and those amazing drones!   More information on Alex can be found at his website:  http://alexmaclean.com

“If a Tweet Falls in the Forest…” Life without Applause-Signs, Laugh-Tracks & Likes

It’s often not so much what happens in our lives—as what we figure ought to happen.  If no one likes this post, did it fail? I started noticing  camera-angles and how they manipulated the audience far too early in my life–especially for the poor bystanders who were stuck in a living room, basement or movie theater with me. The Cosby Show, for all of its garish sweaters and too-good-to-be-true charm of a doctor/lawyer upper-middle class family, was a breakthrough on many levels—it revitalized the sit-com and finally placed a TV African-American family out of the ghetto—if you bypass George Jefferson moving on up. But what I noticed immediately, from my hero of a dozen scratched LP comedy albums, was the cutaway to Clair—Cliff Huxtable’s long-suffering wife who managed to smile through the monologues.  You’ll see it in every episode, the need for the reaction shot—generally Phylicia Rashad or one of the kids letting… Read More…

Hollywood’s Spring Training – Saturday’s 46th Michigan Student Film Festival (Great Seats Still Available–and They’re Free!)

Two events, besides roller coasters,  when people don’t mind long lines:  movies and sporting events.  People will drive 24 hours through the night to get a glimpse… Spring training.  Your team’s undefeated… There’s sunshine, plenty of seats available, a great overall vibe… And it’s the only time you can get close enough to some celebrities–some even before they’re famous. But you can save yourself the long drive down I-75, the sunblock and even the price of admission–and do a lot to encourage some future filmmakers as well. In the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), there are many who want STEAM instead–remembering the important “A” for arts.  And this Saturday just down Woodward Avenue, you can see STEAM in at its very best. The 46th annual Michigan Student Film Festival takes place from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the Detroit Institute of… Read More…

Five Minutes That Could Redefine How You Perceive Media

If you have seen a movie, watched television, or even spoken of the two, then you’ve probably heard of Kevin Spacey. Our main man is attributed to being the degree by which people are separated in the film world, the “Six Degrees of Kevin Spacey”. Indeed Kevin Spacey’s prolific career that began in 1986 spans television, film, and music. He has had unparalleled success in pretty much everything he has done. Spacey’s most recent notable work includes his new hit series “House of Cards” on Netflix. Speaking in Edinburgh, Kevin Spacey, describes the process he and his team went through trying to get “House of Cards” greenlit, and in the process, ever so eloquently explains how the current model of delivering media content to the consumer in the United States is not only broken, but will disappear in the near future. The fundamental success to the current, outdated model of… Read More…

The Method Is Madness

I write this (the first draft, anyway) at 11:45 am, Monday morning, August 5. There will be approximately 4 more working hours in the day. About 6,060 minutes stand between me and the end of the work day on Friday. Now 6,059.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m not a “clock-watcher,” someone who simply gets to work and runs out the clock until the end of the day.  I’m all about the work.  Still 6,059. To those people who are dedicated to their craft, who are willing to spend as many hours as necessary to chase some unattainable perfection, I salute you…to an extent. My legal practice helps keep my kids fed and their rooms filled with stuffed animals, it keeps my house out of foreclosure, it supports my wife’s efforts while affording the occasional birthday/anniversary/random present, and it keeps my dresser covered with novels and comic books.  My law practice helps… Read More…

The Roaring Twenties in Detroit: A City in the Black—and Purple

Kevin’s recent illustrated humor post on Detroit’s Museum Yard Sale, about the proposed selling of the city’s more valuable art pieces, reminded me of the last time I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts about 10 years ago (I live in New York so have an excuse for not visiting there more often). My husband, author Warren Berger, and I were there on a scouting mission. Warren was checking out locations for scenes in his novel THE PURPLES, which chronicles/imagines the rise and fall of the young rumrunner Purple Gang in 1920s Detroit. [Nota bene: The novel started life as a great screenplay drafted by Kevin, Brian d’Arcy James, and Warren all sparked by—in a nod to My Media Diary’s theme—a massive family research file of news clippings compiled by Kevin. A key figure in their Purple Gang story is Harry F. Kelly (photo below), a relative of mine, Brian, and Kevin’s… Read More…

Museum Yard Sale? Detroit’s Deficit & Denial

 ”How much for the Picasso with the grumpy old lady?” “$4 million.” “Would you take two?” “Umm.  Let me ask my wife.” The painting reminds me so much of an estate sale my wife and I dropped in on in Bloomfield Hills.  It was a fabulous house with riches galore–all at marked down prices.  The Coach handbags, for example, were only $250 for crying out loud. And there, in the dining room, in the corner glaring at us vultures, was the owner.  I’m not sure where her husband was.  We concocted all kinds of scenarios involving some Ponzi-schemer now in prison and his better-half needing to pay the legal expenses.  But she was bitter and her wine glass was re-filled twice before we left the place. Yesterday, a Michigan State Senate committee passed a bill that would protect the Detroit Institute of Arts fabulous collection from being sold to help… Read More…

Iago Defeats the Kraken: Game of Thrones and Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Spoiler alert. If you have not yet seen Game of Thrones, stop reading this and go watch it. Whatever you’re doing—washing dishes, taking out the trash, googling exes—stop and watch it now. Oh yeah, don’t eat first. You’re back?  The Starks took some more hits last night. In GOT world, the Starks are “the good guys.”  They’re brave, virtuous, honest, strong.  Contrast them with the Lannister’s—their greatest warrior is known as “kingslayer” for stabbing a former king in the back. The Kingslayer and his sister have a incestuous relationship so potent they can’t keep their hands off each other while visiting the Starks, and when they’re caught by a 10 year old Bran Stark, they throw him out of a tower window. There’s Tyrion Lannister, a drunken womanizer despised by his family for  a) being a midget, and b) having a soul. He’s so nice, the Lannisters had to scar… Read More…

We Shalt Not Kill Either!

As far back as I can remember, I have argued against the death penalty, but so often over the past decade, I found my voice weaker, my stance less certain. The events in Boston yesterday reminded us all of one basic fact that will not be ignored: people suck. We’re not necessarily wrong when we tell ourselves that most people—the overwhelming majority of people–are basically good, even if a few exceptions so often demand our attention. But those exceptions at times open fire on parents carrying infants, putting 5 bullets in an infant because of a grudge with the parent (Brunswick, Ga last month); those exceptions shoot kindergarteners with 30-round magazines while others defend the “right” to kill so effectively; those exceptions plant bombs during crowded events just to maximize the death count, maybe not coincidentally targeting a position where the parents of those kindergarteners stand. So, like an alcoholic… Read More…