Whew, It’s Been A While: Sunday Link-Fest

5 December, 2010

Now that I’ve scared off all six of my readers, it’s time I get this thing started up again.  Apologies for the long delay, but the life of a travelling consultant doesn’t bode well for constant blogging.

The Metro Detroit area has been abuzz with activity over the past few weeks, and with the holidays coming around the hits just keep on comin’.  It’s a glorious thing seeing all the activity around these parts, so to tack on to the fun here’s the Detroitists’ Link-Fest!

  • If you live in Midtown, you were probably visited by one of dozens of marching bands, carolers, or other random denizens during last evening’s Noel Night, an annual tradition that opens the doors of Detroit’s finest, uh, finds for one evening.  This blogger was especially impressed by the showing at the Detroit Public Library and Detroit Institute of Arts, but being visited by the Cass Tech Marching Band while dining at Traffic Jam was pretty dang awesome.
  • An interesting article on the state of affairs of Michigan’s public education system was in this week’s online Metro Times.  It would be a wee bit interesting if my friends over at the Skillman Foundation could offer up some perspective…
  • I love HOUR Detroit — really, I do.  Despite its often-offcentered approach to reporting on all things Metro (hint: I have good word that Birmingham is NOT the epicenter of the area, sorry…), here comes a pretty sweet feature on Joel Landy, a Midtown-based developer.
  • Find of the Week: do you like, uh, cougars and mullets and a whole heap of ridiculous fun that will make you call up your friends afterwards and scream “THAT JUST HAPPENED!!!”?  Boogie Fever is the place to go.  Prepare to be AMAZED.

More to come this week, hopefully….in the meantime, if you have suggestions for the LinkFest, tweet me.


LEAVE OUR GARDENS ALONE! :: Thursday Link-Fest

7 October, 2010

I finally snagged a couple of tickets to this weekend’s UofM – MSU football game.  You’d think that, after seven years and $[OMG] in tuition, I’d not only get free tickets, but Michigan would actually let me start at cornerback.  Hmph.

Here’s what’s eHappenin’ in the D today!

– Rep. Gabe Leland has introduced a bill that would exempt Detroit’s urban farms from the protection clauses in the Michigan Right to Farm Act.  Some claim it restricts the ability to open more urban farms in the city; others believe it allows the city to chart its own course.  I’m kinda sorting leaning toward the latter, especially considering Leland has been an advocate for bringing more local grocers to the city.

– This is old news amongst its residents, but the Detroit News makes note of an anonymous property purchaser buying up abandoned lots and buildings near the Masonic Temple.  This just keeps fueling speculation that Mike Illitch is planning to build a new sports venue in the neighborhood.  To say that such a plan would be a watershed moment for Midtown development is a gross understatement.

– While on the subject of Midtown, another “duh” moment for its residents but a “hmm!” for outsiders: the Sugar Hill neighborhood is witnessing an influx of artists, further driving up demand for work/live loft spaces in the corridor. (HT: Hour Detroit)

– Ding Dong, Kwame’s staying in jail.  My prediction: he still gets votes in the next election. (HT: Crain’s Detroit)

Got anything else you’d like to see on the Link-Fest? Twit me.


4 October, 2010

I ran out of time to post a follow-up to yesterday’s scrawling, but I encountered a bit of a humorous little tidbit while reviewing my blog stats tonight:

someone found The Detroitists by Googling “[my name] married”.

It looks like I should start shaving more often; the googlers are lookin’ for love. 🙂


18 August, 2010

I’m going back to Blog 0.1 here: in its original form, Rainierisms was created in an attempt to catalogue my transition from lifelong Midwesterner to adept Seattleite. And in similar form, I hope this blog will expose the highs and lows of living in one of America’s most maligned metros.

The contrasts are drastic between the two cities, to be honest.

Seattle ranks consistently high on magazines’ “Best Places to Live” List.  It’s happy when it’s not raining, healthy when the salmon aren’t laden with mercury, and has a bevy of neighborhoods teeming with young professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and empty nesters.  You’re no more than a few hundred meters away from a body of water in nearly all of Seattle, and the karaoke bars are unmatched anywhere else east of Manila.  The only problems Seattle faces are risks in housing price fluctuations….and volcanoes.

I always tell people that the reason why I moved to Detroit was because of the lack of threat from volcanoes, and while that may a sliiiiight stretch, it doesn’t seem to compensate for an absolute onslaught of negative opinions about the city.  The only lists it makes are those which declare it as miserable, the city’s population has been in freefall for the past decade, and high income taxes combined with ridiculous insurance rates make it wholly undesirable.  So, it wasn’t completely offensive to me when, while in Cape Town, an American inquiring about my place of residence stateside literally gasped when I told her where I lived.

She followed up the non-verbal retort with a simple, yet profound, one-word question: “WHY?”

…if you know me in person, you’ve received the two-minute diatribe outlining the multiple reasons why, when faced with the options of heading to well-established cities such as Chicago or Boston, I decided to take a chance on the D.  In due time, I’ll use this blog to re-explain some of those things, but I’d rather allow you to understand my reasons through stories, anecdotes, photos, and the daily encounters I have as a resident of what I like to call The Gritty City.  Hopefully, some fellow contributors will join me on the ride, offering guest commentary, podcasts, and whatever else is required to make this space worthwhile.

So.  Friends, relatives, readers, skeptics, proponents, opponents, and observers: here we go.  Welcome to The Detroitists.

I Should Just Stop Attending Sporting Events

27 June, 2010

Day 17
Cape Town, South Africa
Current Song: K’Naan, Wavin’ Flag


Cape Town, and South Africa in general, is a wave of schizophrenia. I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but a repeat visit all the more reinforces this belief. As I skim through a novel detailing the rise and fall of the diamond and gold mining efforts here in the Veld, you come across the fact that this schizophrenia is somewhat embedded in its roots. For example:

– Cecil Rhodes, of Rhodes Scholar fame, was not only an aspiring entrepreneur — he also had this notion that England should attempt to recolonize the United States under the British Crown for the sake of empire building.
– Paul Kruger, of Kruger National Park fame, was a strict segregationist who believed that, as head of the Transvaal, thumping the Bible and bellowing like a lion on a rampage was the best way to govern.
– Pretoria, the country’s now-administrative capital, was named after a complete idiot.
– Zakumi, the World Cup’s adorable mascot, may be a hermaphrodite. I have my theories about this one.

And oh, the landscape fully supports this schizophrenia. Rolling vineyards in Stellenbosch give way to the desert-like fields of the Northwest Province and Rustenburg. The aggressive cliffs of Table Mountain loom only a mile away from the gorgeous Atlantic coastline. It’s very….American.

What’s surprised me about this trip is that Cape Town, despite being invaded by tens of thousands of tourists, hasn’t lost its charm nor its sense of direction. The locals still think it’s suicide to walk the streets at night alone, and the tourists are still scared to death of taking a minibus to Long Street at a fraction of the cost of a taxi. The bars and cafes, well, they’re just a bit busier, and township citizens are seemingly enjoying the additional jobs created by this flurry of activity.

It’ll be interesting to observe how South Africa transitions from the spotlight the world has shone upon it: will the country continue its colorblind support of Bafana Bafana and extend it across socio-economic boundaries? And will its citizens exude confidence in showing the world that it is a world-class country? Time will tell.

Oh, and the USA-Ghana match: I’m convinced that I’m a curse to whatever sport I follow, so I’ll just leave it at that. Taking a spontaneous flight to Jo’burg and not getting back to the hostel post-match until 330am was oh-so worth it, though…

Stars and No Radio

19 June, 2010

(Note: I’ll be posting a few journals from my travels here and there. Technical difficulties, unfortunately, prevent me from posting photos.)

Day 3
???, Namibia
Current Song: Go Do — Jonsi

Seriously. I’m somewhere in the middle of the Namib Desert. That’s about all I know. 🙂 After two days in Windhoek, I’m now out here in the bush preparing for an excursion to Sossusvlei (a renowned spot for sand dunes).

…Recap on the past two days: The same waiter that was exceedingly friendly at breakfast after my nine-hour jaunt from Frankfurt also offered me a ride into the city. The airport is about 50km from Windhoek, so you can imagine that options are somewhat limited and expensive. I was later told the reason for such a distance was because they couldn’t find any other flat area around to put an international airport. Hmm.

I was dropped off near the spot where my host for the next few days was planning to meet me, and I discovered an evil, evil comfy couch in the lobby of the Kalahari Sands Hotel. I soon discovered that the security guards there aren’t too keen on people falling asleep in the middle of their hotel. However, I discovered a location that didn’t mind if I dozed off: the bar. I guess jetlag and mild drunkenness have the same symptoms, although the likelihood of the latter occurring at 9am on a Saturday are not too great. Rescue came in the form of my host, Liezl, a few hours later.

While I could comment on the awesome hospitality offered to me, I’d rather just summarize: a city truly is defined by its inhabitants, and the opportunity to hang out with the locals for a few days in Windhoek made it all the more enjoyable. While interacting with fellow hostelmates is always a fun time, you get a flavor for “the scene” in an even greater context when you’re paired with people that live and breathe the culture you’re only dipping your toes into.

The drive out to anti-civilization was a bit schizophrenic, which is exactly how I’d describe the Namibian landscape. One moment, you’re on a highway traveling to one of the very few towns of greater than 30,000 people, with trees and hills and vegatation all about. Thirty minutes later, you’re driving precariously on a bumpy gravel road with nothing but desert and your own thoughts to guide you. A six hour drive with no radio gives you plenty of time to talk to yourself, which in my case, always results in a vivid storyline.

From there, let’s go to the highlights of the day:
– Getting lost for a good couple hours enroute to Sossusvlei
– Ascending Spreetshoogle Pass and being greeted by a view of what was to come of Namibia’s absolutely diverse landscape
– Solitaire, Namibia, home of Moose McGregor, a proclaimed Minnesota Vikings fan, and the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted. Where they grow the apples is a total mystery to me.
– Pasing through herds of springbok and spotting multiple desert foxes and not being on a game drive to do it
– The night sky. It’s like someone spilled a bunch of sand on pitch black construction paper. Absolutely stunning.

Un-Burning Bridges

24 May, 2010

Ross is a bubble.

There, I just stated perhaps the most blatantly obvious observation that would cause my fellow 430 graduates to slowly nod their heads and utter a simple “Duh.”

My friend Will came up with a novel idea during a short road trip to Cincinnati the week after graduation: he planned on sitting down and typing out an email to the people closest to him before this grand experiment began, both as a way of catching up with old friends Christmas card-style and to make amends for the lack of communication he had with them since departing for Ann Arbor.  I’m not sure whether or not he fulfilled that promise, but I promptly started on my own letter — and it felt like I was drafting my first letter after escaping from prison. 😉

Here’s a few excerpts: (after the jump)

Read the rest of this entry »