For Kids, Many Voices Become One at “Twenty Feet from Stardom” Benefit Screening & Concert

Few third graders have been heard to proudly announce to their classmates… “I hope to be fourth cellist in the New York Philharmonic.” “I’d like to be a situational middle-inning relief pitcher for the Yankees.” “I want to be an Indy pit crew member.” or… “My dream is to be an editor.” Not many editors get a standing ovation.   Even at the Oscars, its award is sandwiched between Best Costume Design and the latest Revlon commercial.  And you are more likely to be mistaken as that fourth cellist before someone says, “Aren’t you an editor–of documentaries?” Twenty Feet from Stardom honors the teammate, the supporting role–in effect, the glue behind some of the greatest songs of the last fifty years.  And someone had to convert 700 hours of interviews and archival footage of these amazing women into 90 minutes.  Enter Doug Blush, who last Friday embodied the spirit of this movie to help young… Read More…

Fracking, Rat-Packing & Heart-Attacking: Opening Pandora’s Box of Ads

It is better to give than receive–particularly homework.  But for one weekend my high school students didn’t mind, at first, being asked to watch the Super Bowl and its commercials. The quickly frowning class soon realized it would have to count the number of edits, how a narrator was used, the use of graphics, music, celebrities, etc.  But my favorite column read, “Intended Audience.”  I started the assignment back when the agencies realized they could had grab the same audience that didn’t get a sandwich during a timeout for the first Macintosh ad in 1984–and the Bud Bowl began. Generally, a football game will not be the correct forum for Mop & Glow, pet food or feminine hygiene.  (Someone on Madison Avenue once gave birth to the strange descendant of “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” as the cringe-worthy, “It’s not your mother’s tampon.” ) The standards for the “Big Game,” as the NFL insists other… Read More…

Once Cherished Detroit Journalist Turned Thoughtless Blogger – The Tipping Point of Mitch Albom’s Generational Supremacy

I’ve had a gripe with Mitch Albom for a long time. Like many, I used to be a huge fan. Tuesday’s With Morrie made me cry and The Five People You Meet in Heaven made me wonder, gasp and smile. He used to be “our guy” on ESPN’s Around the Horn or Outside the Lines. And—as a New Jersey transplant—he was the champion of Detroit when others were kicking us while we were down. Then he lied about a little detail in a Free Press article… Will Albom’s woes taint journalism? It was a small detail, but it was lying nonetheless. And since then—- A once staple column in the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom’s weekly Sunday pieces have tended to follow a stagnant, boring and Kale-infuriating formula in recent years. If he isn’t writing books about how scared of death he is, or he isn’t dropping an article touting… Read More…

Dreaming and Hoping: Cruising Woodward, Happy Days and Retconning a Decade with Fictional American Idealism

I can see why a lot of people don’t like the Dream Cruise, especially if you live in that area. Or, as is in my case, the Dream Cruise can be a big ol’ inconvenience to those who have to work in the Bloomfield Hills to Royal Oak area. It’s loud, a lot of the people are annoying. You can’t get anywhere quick, if you can get anywhere at all. Vendors are closed, and it’s no honeymoon trying to make the last FedEx pick up in Birmingham the Thursday and Friday before the actual Dream Cruise.  So, I get it. It seems there are more haters every year, though. In classic Michigander style, we like to complain when there’s nothing going on as much as we like to complain when an event prevents us from doing the nothing things that we would typically do on any given weekend. From the… Read More…

Motown’s Magic: Soul-Searching at 5th Grade Camp

I work a lot with people who are from out of town. When they ask me what’s special about Michigan and Detroit, the thing I bring up first is always Motown. A lot of people who don’t grow up in the area aren’t as conscious about Motown and its history as we are here in Southeast Michigan. The thing about Motown songs, though—just like, I’d say, songs by The Beatles—is that even if you aren’t a hardcore fan, you still “know” every song. So when I tell people that “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” “Baby, I Need Your Loving” and “Do You Love Me? (Now That I Can Dance)” all came from Detroit’s most successful pop culture think-tank, Motown Records, everyone is always impressed and intrigued about Detroit’s cultural history. And these songs and talents resonate with us so. Growing up, it seemed like 104.3 was always on in my car when… Read More…

Harper High

For the past two weeks, “This American Life” presented stories revolving around Harper High School in Chicago. Last year, 29 kids attending Harper were shot, 8 died. 29 shot, 8 died. We all remember vividly Newtown, Ct, the Aurora theatre murders, even Columbine so many years ago. Harper represents a more gradual mass murder, and one that deserves more attention that it will likely get. Honor student Hadiyah Pendleton made news by being gunned down a few weeks after the presidential inauguration she attended. But the news died down.  I suspect no one will hear about Harper after TAL moves on to its next topic (that topic: coincidences). So many of us were horrified by these stories, Newtown in particular, but what are we doing about it? TAL presented the Harper story as a collection of reports about the various students/faculty affected by the gun violence. One of those profoundly affected… Read More…