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…

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…

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

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 as a vital route for emergency evacuation–all under strict central government oversight.  After all, you wouldn’t want your best friend deciding how much weight an overpass can bear, would you?  It’s pretty much accepted that some things are better off in the hands of Big Brother. Madison and Jefferson pushed forward… Read More…

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

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

“Me too!” – Graduation of a Kind Soul

“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 while driving with both kids in their car seats behind us.  (I still believe a wonderful baby shower gift would be one of those Plexiglas barriers found in squad cars and taxis.) “Aidan took my bear!” she screamed in protest to the universe. “Aidan…” I reasoned, invoking my inner Mike Brady. “What?”… Read More…

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

“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 the Toro than 8:30 pm?  (When our kids were toddlers, our considerate neighbor Thad would wait another 90 minutes before he’d begin.) A breeze blew to me the perfume of lawn-harvest and gasoline fumes. Despite my allergies I was in heaven– I only needed a tall thick Pepsi bottle and my dad’s transistor to… Read More…

I Just Wanted A Chance

  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 don’t leave it”. She was right.  So simple and so profound. I’ve been starting my own consulting business and I have been running into brick walls and obstacles lately. Networking is so much harder than I anticipated. People’s loyalties are different than I had anticipated. I am stood up for… Read More…

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

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 accident—he’s in surgery.”  By the time they were air-born, my mom and I were told of his passing and taken upstairs to see his body.  My mom’s friends Anne and Betty volunteered to drive us to the airport so we could meet the girls—we were cutting it close, so we just hopped… Read More…

The Consolidated States of America

This past summer the kids and I took our annual trip to the beach in North Carolina from Connecticut.  We decided to play the old license plate game along the way.  Of course, the kids added a new media twist to it using an app.  As we ventured down the east coast and tracked our states we started to question why there were so many states.  Why was Rhode Island an actual state?  No offense the Dakotas, you are awfully small. 3 teenagers and a preteen quickly reeducated me in the history of the United States, the colonies and how we came to be.  The capitalist and cost optimizer in me then challenged them with new thinking.  What if you had to start over today in 2014?  Would you have this many states and if so, why, and if not, what would you do.  As we checked the list of… Read More…

My Trip to Green Bay: Experiencing America’s Most Primal Football Fan-Base and How it Made Me a Bigger Lions Fan

Stadium Strangers It was 2008. We decided to take a family vacation to New York at the end of July. By we, I mean: my mother and my father wanted to take a trip to New York and my brother—Chicago’s newest citizen and most eligible bachelor—and I—readying my venture of four years in East Lansing—agreed to go on one more family trip before I officially became a co-ed. Part of the lure, though, was the opportunity to see one of America’s most treasured landmarks: Yankee Stadium; which was especially important, since Yankee Stadium was about to see its final turnstiles turned that fall. The Davidoffs have, are, and will always be a baseball family at heart (much like Detroit is a baseball city at heart). There’s been something special ingrained in our pop culture souls that guides us to the baseball diamonds every summer. And in baseball, perhaps more than other sports,… Read More…

New Podcast – Life Lessons & Sound FX with Ric Viers

    Veteran film and TV sound expert Ric Viers, author of The Sound Effects Bible and The Location Sound Bible, joins Kevin Walsh following a workshop Ric gave to Michigan high school students on his 10 Location Sound Commandments, which offer important life-skills as well. They discuss: Soft Skills and Reputation-how the most skilled person on the set may not be the one who stays on the set. How Does One Begin as a Sound Guy? Fatherhood and the osmosis of sound-awareness Gathering sound-effects (and where to leave your keys) Publishing a book (after finding a niche) The “Oh Crap” Kit Check out Ric’s page on Amazon as well as his own website, www.RicViers.com

An Apology to My Daughters, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan Among Others…

As I was reading a magazine today I turned the page to an article about Congress’s First Black Female Republican and I sat there stunned for a few moments. How could this be? I was honestly struck dumb with the realization that this was a milestone that was just NOW happening in the year 2014? Hadn’t it happened sooner? I had assumed that we had all sorts of women of every color and race populating the corridors in Washington DC. I was truly stunned that this was an event to celebrate in the year 2014. Where have the last 30 years gone? I was raised with the idea that I as a woman could do anything. I sat down in front of the TV back in the 70’s when Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King battled it out on the tennis courts. I celebrated when Billy Jean smashed the ball… Read More…

Love, New America Style with “Liberty’s Secret” – The 100% All-American Musical

  Liberty’s Secret: The 100% All-American Musical is a movie that brings to mind all the memories from my childhood that made my middle of the road, Midwestern upbringing so rich with its dependable sameness over the years.   Memories of good ol’ fashioned bake sales, the smell of freshly bought apple pie, sounds of Lawrence Welk’s Orchestra in the evening on TV and baseball Sundays filled with the voice of Ernie Harwell keeping a steady drone in the average and typical sun-filled family room that made my childhood so special.   Liberty’s Secret is a special movie. At first glance it’s a movie about family, community, patriotism and two people who find love in small town America. It’s also a movie with layers of nuanced sarcasm about the existing political world and all the familiar, stereotypical circus acts that combine to create a political campaign that will be bought,… Read More…

House-Breaking Your Phone–and Lowering Your Blood Pressure

I was too calm at work.  Something had to be wrong.  Then I realized that I had left my phone at home—on the kitchen counter–probably under the bread wrapper.  It was the same unnerving peace I felt on a vacation last summer–when we left the dog with friends. Smudge is a hybrid, a schnorkie-poo, who, in the thankful absence of rats, is obsessed with one thing—the perfect blend of dye, felt and rubber toxins that is the tennis ball.  He is so completely focused on bringing you that ball for you to obediently throw it across the yard/basement/bathroom that he’ll forgo food, rest and common sense—crashing into fences, couches and unsuspecting two year-olds.  If you don’t follow his escalating sequence of hints (sitting patiently, rolling the ball closer, grumbling, grumbling louder), he’ll finally bark at the perfect frequency to shatter even our cheap wine glasses. When we’re having dinner, he’ll politely wedge the ball under my left buttock, sit… Read More…

Faded Snapshots & Time Travel: Unfogging the Past with PhotoShop

Take a minute and flip through your phone’s pictures taken this Thanksgiving weekend–now zoom-in to something in the background.  Do you notice anything interesting–or something that <em>might </em>be interesting in a few decades? The new Stephen Hawking bio-pic, The Theory of Everything, can drive you a little crazy if you are one of those people who needs to straighten a picture frame in a friend’s house.  Hawking’s glasses are always crooked and always needing cleaning. The color-correction folks in film know what they’re doing when they choose their palettes.  It’s hard not to get nostalgic with a shot like above–and if you add in string instruments and piano you’re already reaching for the Kleenex for memories you didn’t even have.  Flashbacks in film often have an orange or yellow tint to them and, like the world through Hawking’s dirty specs, are generally fuzzy as well.  I wonder who in Hollywood decided this was what nostalgia looked like…. Read More…

“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…

And you may tell yourself/This is not my beautiful house!

Everyone has a “first place” story (except those of you who never moved out of your parents’ basement). My definition of a first place is that it’s where you were in charge of your fate and rent for the first time, rather than your school or your parents. I maintain that whether you loved or loathed your first place, you never forget it. There is a special tribe of “first place” survivors, and it’s those who were bold enough to venture to New York City—often with nothing more than hope in their pockets. Some had lived on their own in other cities; some were going out on their own for the very first time in NYC. Some lived in their first NYC apartment for 3 months; some for 30 years. To capture these stories before they’re lost in time, I decided to start a little “story website” called MyFirstApartmentNYC.com, much like Kevin’s My… Read More…

Superhero Halftime: What “Guardians” Says About Our Galaxy

We live in an absolutely ridiculous time for geeks. If you were to create an historic timeline of superhero films, you could try and pinpoint the turning point with X-Men or Spider-Man. Around the turn of the century, when those films were released, the blockbuster world slowly began to turn on its head. In the 90s, the basis for most action movies was one of the following: (1) CIA agent, (2) rogue cop, (3) two unlikely cop partners teaming up for an action-comedy. After Sam Raimi’s success with Spider-Man, everyone and their uncle had to get their hands on some hot superhero action. But it wasn’t always pretty. For whatever reason, the studios knew that there was a market out there for all and everything superheroes, but they just couldn’t seem to nail it. Because where Sam Raimi and Bryan Singer found a formula that worked, other films like Fantastic Four, Daredevil and The Hulk failed to do… Read More…

Acts of God? Creative Interpretations During Flooding: Unlike a Good Neighbor…

For a follow-up discussion on insurance companies and ethics, listen to our 10/7/14 podcast with attorney Judy Herman. I remember the feeling of helplessness all too well.  And this Monday evening it happened again. Our son was three weeks old and we were camping in northern Michigan when we got the call from my brother-in-law, who just lived around the block from us. “We got a ton of rain, the streets are flooded.  I shined the flashlight down into your basement through the window and the light bounced right back up.” Not a good sign since the carpeting had just been installed three months earlier. We bought the Royal Oak house in 1993, a year into our marriage and waited a couple years before we decided to finish the basement.  The inspector said he didn’t see any signs of water-issues but we wanted to be sure.  Two years of thunderstorms later,… Read More…