An “Impossible Dream” — Not Holding a Microphone Up to the Speaker

“You’ll be hit by these big waves that’ll sneak up on you.”  That was what Fr. Jack Trese told us about grief at my dad’s funeral in 1997.  But a week ago I got clobbered by one those waves in the form of  a showtune I couldn’t stand–driving south in the middle of Ohio.

These days, my go-to stations on Sirius include “On Broadway,” “The Beatles Channel” and “The Seventies on 7,” especially on Saturdays they reply Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” broadcasts from the same week from 1970-79.  I was very excited one weekend brought back my transistor radio tied to by handlebars as I listened to WDRQ delivering my newspapers at 5:30 AM.

In addition to the Saturday Night Fever‘s stranglehold on the airwaves that spring … Read More…

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.”


  • “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. … 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 … 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 … 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 … Read More…

Harper High

obama in chi (1)

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 … Read More…