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…

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

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 check the work which he would color later.  I don’t remember how I got involved but I do remember spending my nights after supper–for a month!” “I got called down to the chiefs one day and he informed me that I was to go to London to be a part… 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…

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

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 Show & Concept Cars (below) Photos from Ken Pickering… The first is my personal 1956 Corvette that I purchased used for $2150 in 1958.  I had an “alligatored” black paint job and was a mess but it had a 265 CID V8 with dual 4 Barrel carbs.  My friends in the… Read More…

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

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 screens, but eventually I saw the replay of Brandon Jennings falling back on his heel and my deepest fears aligned with that of Homer and The Muses when Paris’ arrow penetrated Achilles’ foretold only weakness. Then I took to Twitter— Out for the season; a season that began as the… Read More…

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

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 visit is like dropping into a different chapter of the city’s history–urban farms were previously dangerous abandoned homes and lots. From the sky, many travelers have to change planes in the hub of Detroit Metro.  As they glance out the window and see the river and the skyline, are they like… Read More…

New Podcast: OSU’s Urban-Renewal, Harbaugh & the Tigers (with MMD Writers Kale Davidoff & Steve Mitzel)

On the two-year anniversary of MyMediaDiary.com, featured writers Kale Davidoff (a MSU Spartan) and Steve Mitzel (a UofM Wolverine) cover the following sports topics with host Kevin Walsh: Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes national title The new NCAA playoff system Jim Harbaugh’s arrival in Ann Arbor–and likelihood to stay? The Big Ten’s return to power Is the SEC hurt by the new system? Different venues, different fans Being a stranger in a hostile stadium The Tigers and Justin Verlander (and will they ever win the Series) Read Kale’s posts on MMD Read Steve’s posts on MMD

New Podcast: Digging Detroit – Dodge, Detroit & Women in Industry

Digging Detroit’s Tom Reed and Pete Kalinski discuss the early days of Detroit’s automotive history with historians Bailey Sisoy Isgro and Madelyn Rzadkowolski. Topics include: Advertising’s current portrayal of the Dodge Brothers Dodge’s famous dependability—and fix-it-yourself car kits General Patton and the Dodge military contract Women and Detroit’s cigar industry as a vehicle for entry into the workforce (and why Detroit was a cigar center) Using campaigns of conscience to get women into the workforce during WWI Detroit’s African American 600% population boom between 1910-1920 Detroit as the “Paris of the Midwest” More campaigns of conscience to force women out of the workplace after WWII Dodge’s role in the arsenal of democracy Fear of women earning too much–and gaining political clout) Promoting the myth of the non-communist “nuclear family” in the nuclear age For more information on the Dodge Brothers go to MeadowbrookHall.org. For more information on Bailey’s Detroit History Tours  go to… 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…

Ken Burns-on-a-Shoestring: Creating Buzz to Launch Mini-Doc “Digging Detroit”

“The Joe,” the battleship-gray windowless box on the Detroit River, is slated for 2017 demolition, making way for high-rise condos, a hotel and shopping as part of a pay-back to creditors owed $1 billion.  For a few months in-between wrecking-ball and ground-breaking, Detroiters will once again have an unobstructed view of the river at the corner of Fort and 3rd–as if looking back in time and seeing the Purple Gang hijack another bootlegger at the docks, before moving its haul up the street to the speakeasy beside the church. And that same little brick building on the left will probably still be standing when the condos are torn down in 60 years–perhaps making way for the next home for the Wings. When the 1974 picture above was taken, I was probably immersed in Channel 50’s after-school reruns of Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island or deeper in the way-back machine, The Three Stooges and The Little Rascals.  Inevitably I’d have to endure the “Let’s put on a show” moment as Alfalfa or Darla would… Read More…

Defining the 2014 Detroit Tigers’ Regular Season

Perspective Somewhere amid Derek Jeter’s fourth or fifth finale on Sunday afternoon, John Farrell spent most of his time faking a smile, trying to be a part of all the pomp and circumstance as another baseball season came to a close. In many ways, the season for Farrell and his Red Sox ended months ago. No doubt the sting hurt more on Sunday, as mathematical elimination and inevitable closure became a physical reality as the sun finally set on Fenway Park, its home players and Beantown’s most faithful. I imagine John Farrell muttering about in his mind of what went wrong; surveying the field on the last day of the season, questioning and second guessing every decision and asking himself how the Red Sox went from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel. He’s been there before, looking up from the basement as the manager of Blue Jays…. Read More…

March’s Moment to Shine – The Ever-Inspiring NCAA Tournament

Here, watch this: I was at that game. It was nuts. I mean, listen to Ford Field after Durrell Summers powers that dunk through. Michigan State (or Michigan, for that matter) playing in the Final Four in their home state behind a home crowd may never happen again, and although the Spartans came up short against one of the most perfect North Carolina teams, the Spartans felt like champions that entire weekend. I’ve seen a lot of cool things in Detroit, but for a freshman Michigan State student like myself, seeing Park, Witherell, Madison and Brush streets and its pedestrians drenched in green and white was a sight I will hold deep in my memory forever. And to go to the game that they won helped, too. As with the football, I was never much into college basketball as a youngster, especially with the Goin’ to Work Pistons at my doorstep,… Read More…

November 22, 1963: A Seventh Grader’s Loss of Innocence

  Saturday was to be the day that my Mom and I would move out of the house my family had lived in for eight of my 12 years. The large three-story home which had held within its walls a family of eight and all that that entails had grown too large.   Dad was gone and gradually the family had dispersed as families do. Now it was just me and my Mom. She had rented the bottom of a house across from the University of Detroit. She worked there managing the bookstore so the location made sense. The local Catholic school was Gesu and run by the Jesuits who also ran the University of Detroit. I had been attending school since the first grade at Precious Blood, a  middle class parish with several thousand families within its boundaries.  I was in the 7th grade when mom decided to move. … Read More…

Death of a Whistleblower: Detroit’s Bankruptcy, Edward Snowden and Jerry Buckley

*Updated on 3/24/14 with video of hotel implosion courtesy of Laurie Rutzel Lessard. 50,000 people is a considerable crowd at a ballpark, but a graveside service is pretty remarkable–particularly in a thunderstorm. Two recent news events have merged for me to remember the 1930 Detroit gangland assassination of a man with a questionable past that was compared to half of Mount Rushmore’s occupants… Quite a quote from the one-year anniversary memorial service on Belle Isle honoring a martyred radio announcer–even elaborated upon by none other than  Fr. Caughlin, the controversial radio-priest who would soon be baiting FDR after his New Deal proposals started taking root when President Hoover did not win re-election in another 18 months. For Detroit, it was not the first in a long series of black-eyes celebrated most recently in last week’s Time, which made our city the “Or Else” for even Chinese concerns. We’re the ugly… 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…

Ever Want to Knock on Your Old House Door?

I love this picture.   It was taken in 1966 in the basement of my parents’ home on Ward in Detroit.  It almost looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, the way my Uncle Bill is leaning back with the cue, my Uncle John is supervising in his vest, and my Uncle Joe is taking the shot with cousin Matt advising.  My dad is holding me and even my grandpa is watching from the booth. It’s a perfect image of this nostalgic time that I can’t even truly remember.  We moved from the house in 1970 and those pre-6-year-old memories aren’t too specific–just a collage of images mixed with feelings.  A fire hydrant we climbed on, the curtains I set on fire by moving a candle too close to the window, burning leaves in a can in the backyard, the cardboard lunar module, complete with Neil Armstrong’s footprints.  My dad even… Read More…