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Culture

Public Square - Staff Picks

We at MT pick our top cultural assets

SEE ALSO
More from Metro Times staff

Metro Retro (10/6/2010)
Looking back on 30 years of MT coverage

Metro Retro (9/29/2010)
Looking back on 30 years of Metro Times

Metro Retro (9/22/2010)
Looking back on 30 years of Metro Times

 

Published 4/21/2010

Best Detroit Old-School TV Reporter
Al Allen

Monster smashup on the Lodge? There's "Al Allen, FOX2 News," reporting from the overpass. Coldest day of the year? There's our Al, shivering under his trademark leather cap. Why do they put that poor old man outside in all kinds of weather? Because he wouldn't want to be anywhere else. More reliable than the Postal Service, all-purpose Al, who celebrated his 25th anniversary at the station last March, braves snow, rain, heat and gloom of predawn to give Detroit's breaking news context and a familiar face live from the scene on FOX2 Morning News. Honing his skills on local radio during the Nixon administration, Allen is as durable and welcoming a Detroit landmark as the Ambassador Bridge. You can call him Al.


Best Local Reality Show Stars
Les and Seth Gold

The father-son owners of American Jewelry and Loan on Detroit's west side and ringmasters of Hardcore Pawn, which resumed shooting earlier this month after a successful debut in December on truTV, established their on-camera personalities early in the show's pilot: Les, the hip-talking, street-smart patriarch who's seen it all (and paid for most of it); plus Seth, the enterprising young broker with a heart of Gold. American is one of the largest pawnshops in the nation, accepting everything from rings and coats to cars and boats, so the disparaging among us may view Hardcore Pawn as yet another national potshot at Detroit's woeful financial state. Or, we could celebrate our town's shabby-chic glory and unique collection of humanity as showcased in a highly entertaining program.


Best Televised Fights in Detroit
Let It Rip, on a good night

Verbal attacks! (POW!) Vicious arguments! (BIFF!) Name-calling and character assassination! (Ka-BLAM!). All whirling wildly around anchor-moderator Huel Perkins, who smoothly alternates between calming peacemaker and needling instigator on the most exciting five minutes on Detroit television within FOX2 News Edge at 11. Any segment centering around Kwame Kilpatrick, Sam Riddle or Monica Conyers was Motor City's version of must-see TV last year.


Best New Face To Wake Up To
Anqunette Jamison

O Fanchon, where is thy Stinger? If her provocative era on Detroit television is now but a fading memory, much of the credit should go to the likable, winsome woman who replaced her opposite Alan Lee on FOX2 Morning News. Confident enough to hit town last year from Boston with her nickname already in place (just call her "Q"), she stumbled a bit out of the gate but now seems comfortably embedded as part of Motown TV mornings. Some have complained that Jamison needs to be mindful of her cleavage so early in the a.m. Fools.


Best Place to Hear About Asian Carp, the Coast Guard and Olympic Athletes
Great Lakes Log, WMTV5

If you're a Grosse Pointer, you may have caught this public-access cable show while channel surfing. And maybe you stayed to hear about sailing, boating, fishing, environmental or other water issues. Attorney-by-day Ted Everingham gabs with his guests about everything from their Olympic sailing campaigns to safety on the water to the dangers of an Asian carp invasion. Everingham is always well-prepped on two levels: He does his homework and dons the yacht club uniform of a blue blazer and striped tie. And if you have a passion for the water, you can't help but pick up something entertaining, informative or maybe even life-saving from his show.


Best Place to Learn TV
CMNTV
1230 Souter Blvd., Troy; 248-589-7778; cmntv.org

Whether you're looking to start toward a new career in TV or video, or just to improve your skills to memorialize your kids' sports on your home video, classes at CMNTV studios in Troy will help. Offered at affordable rates — more affordable if you live in one of the 11 communities that subscribe to the cable channel or if you represent a nonprofit organization — the menu of classes includes basic studio skills, field techniques, directing, graphics, voice-overs and editing. As part of each 10-week production certification class, students produce a half-hour segment to air on CMNTV. Instructors are wildly knowledgeable yet fun. There's no real homework or grades but be prepared to get addicted and to start volunteering at the studio for its local public education and governmental programs.


Best Comeback to Radio
Drew Lane

After Drew Lane's brief leave to tend to his ailing fiancee stretched into a near two-year absence, fans of morning radio rude dudes Drew and Mike thought the good times were over. The duo had reigned at the top of the ratings book at WRIF for 14 years, so Drew's departure in fall of 2007 came as shock. Even more shocking were rumors of off-air squabbles, contract disputes and general acrimony, all of which vanished when Drew returned to the show last July, like a conquering hero. All was forgiven, and the crew returned to a steady diet of fart jokes, sex talk and phone pranks with nary a hint of rust. Nice to have you back Drew, just lay off the Tiger Woods stuff now and then. Please.


Best Reason to Wear Spandex with 2,000 Other People (That's Not Too Kinky)
The Tour de Troit
tour-de-troit.org

Part community activism, part exercise and part social event, the annual Tour de Troit grew by hundreds of riders last year, on a 30-mile, beginner-paced fun ride or a 100-kilometer "metric century" route. With dozens of sponsors and a moderate entry fee, the event raised $45,000 for the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink bike route — and also raised awareness about cycling in the city. It was such a great time touring Detroit's neighborhoods, Belle Isle and the riverfront that the beer shortage at the end didn't even piss anyone off. Organizers of this year's Sept. 25 event promise to have that issue remedied.


Best Outdoor Karaoke
Bert's Marketplace
2727 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030

Sometimes it's disorienting. For instance, you hear the opening background music to Prince's "Pop Life," but instead of the usual upper-range voice, you hear what sounds like a bullfrog with woofer-boost going all, "Pop life, everybody wants to be a star." In tune, no less. And soulful. The sun's beaming down, the smoke and steam are rising from the outdoor barbecue drums, surrounding Eastern Market is all bustlin' and, yes, everybody wants to be a star. Some of the singers could be, others not so much. But they're all trying.


Best Parade Rerouting
Caribbean Carnival Parade on Woodward
myccco.com

For years, the annual August parade of the Caribbean Cultural and Carnival Organization has shimmied down Jefferson Avenue to Hart Plaza — and it's been quite a show with its tropical-style floats and platoons of dancers sporting the colors of the island nation (and plenty of skin), all to the strains of reggae, soca, calypso and other island grooves. But last year's parade moved to narrower Woodward Avenue, where the energy of the street is often framed by tall buildings. That kicked the razzle and dazzle up a good notch. This year's parade, planned again for Woodward, is tentatively set for Aug. 20, with the Caribbean Carnival weekend coinciding with the African World Festival on Hart Plaza.


Best Place for Bob Vila Types to Buy a House
The Villages, Detroit

Collectively known as the Villages, the historic neighborhoods along and north of the riverfront, about three miles east of downtown, were among six residential areas nationwide making this year's best-places-to-buy list in This Old House magazine (print edition that is, online had picks for every state). The Villages (including Indian Village, West Village, East Village and the Berry subdivision) were described as "a bargain-hunter's bounty of architectural riches — just one reason we're betting on the city's survival." The authors praised the17 architectural styles available, the Indian Village manses designed by Albert Kahn and William Stratton, and the bottom line: "Whatever your tastes, there are houses to be had in the Villages for less than $100,000." While Detroit made the list for bargains, other neighborhoods across the nation got the nod for family living (Junius Heights, Dallas), for first-time buyers (North Mayfair, Chicago), for movie-fan appeal (West Adams, Los Angeles), etc. (See tinyurl.com/y6tpntu.)


Best Way Not to Promote City Neighborhoods
Mayor Dave Bing's new digs

And what might Mayor Dave Bing have to say about the appeal of neighborhoods? When Bing, who is protected 24/7 by a squad of Detroit police officers, moved permanently into Detroit from his home inside a gated community in wealthy Franklin, he chose a rental home inside a riverfront subdivision whose residents must pass through two security gates. So when you hear him extolling the wonders of city neighborhoods. ...


Best Detroit Neighborhood to Spot Wild Pheasants
Old Poletown

There are several parts of the city that offer prime urban pheasant viewing — the east side near the Grosse Pointes and some wooded areas by the river, for example. But the barren neighborhood that loosely correlates with Detroit's old Poletown has become an urban nature preserve, and the best place to spot ring-necked city pheasants strutting around. They congregate there in grassy fields, alleys overgrown with greenery and vacant lots that sprout small stands of trees into which the notoriously skittish birds like to dart and hide. Though rats will eat their eggs, they have few predators in the city, and so they flourish in the rangy gaps between the old houses in an area bounded loosely by Dequindre, Mount Elliot, I-94 and Gratiot. The wild land along St. Aubin is especially rife with them. That this was once one of the city's densest neighborhoods only underscores the surreal quality of seeing the normally rural birds thriving here.


Best Example of Not Standing by Your Woman
U.S. Rep. John Conyers

Monica may share the longtime Detroit congressman's last name, but we didn't hear two peeps of support from him in public as she faced corruption charges. Now, appealing her 37-month prison sentence, Monica has been declared indigent and is being represented by a taxpayer-funded public defender. We can understand why a sitting congressman would try to distance himself from a wife who took bribes while serving on the City Council. What we don't quite get is why he would risk becoming victim of her fearsome wrath by failing to pony up for a good appellate attorney. Rarely has the observation about politics making for strange (or estranged) bedfellows been more literally true.


Best Reason for Ladies to Keep to the Straight and Narrow
The example of Monica Conyers

Unless her appeal gets her out from under her plea deal, she's going to spend 37 months in the slammer for corruption charges. So you lady readers remember: Mess up and you could be her cellmate. Sort of like prison in a prison. On the other hand, if you were a guy headed to the slammer, you could do much worse than bunking with Sam Riddle. That's in the event, of course, that Sam doesn't beat the prosecution in a second trial on related corruption charges. But wait ... we just had a bizarre thought. Kwame Kilpatrick and Sam Riddle sharing a cell.


Best Use of Social Networking Media While Under Indictment
Sam Riddle 

Speaking of Sam ("Misuse of Charisma") Riddle, most defendants in federal court are seen and not heard. Sam Riddle was positively revolutionary in the way he Tweeted and posted messages on Facebook during his corruption trial, despite repeated warning by U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn to shut up.


Best Political Self-Immolation
Martha Reeves

After a four years as a city councilwoman that hovered between undistinguished and embarrassing, Martha Reeves traveled to Britain for some singing dates shortly before the November election, at a busy time for her council colleagues, dealing at the time with such pressing issues as calling for the resignation of president pro tem Monica Conyers after her guilty plea on corruption charges. While touring, Reeves told interviewers the council was her second job, though she later claimed to have been misinterpreted. She lost her seat. But she'll always have that first job as Martha of Martha and Vandellas.


Best Political Step in the Right Direction for Detroit
The new City Council

It is too early to speak of the collective judgment of a council that has five freshmen members and a political novice (Charles Pugh) as president. True, a council without Monica Conyers, Barbara-Rose Collins and Martha Reeves, in particular, will be a lot less entertaining — no more shouting "Shrek," no more singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" — and that's a good thing. That rancor and rants have given way to civility and apparent competence gives us hope. Also a cause for hope is that with voters having endorsed council by districts last November, this should be the last council to be chosen entirely by the dysfunctional at-large process.


Best Escape from Theocracy
The new City Council II

The city that became a national laughingstock for its sexting mayor had the opportunity for getting in the news again as the only major city in the country to not only ban lap dancing and VIP rooms, but effectively ban strip clubs (by denying them liquor licenses). Thankfully, Council President Charles Pugh and five others weren't Bible-thumped into a no-liquor decree — of dubious constitutionality — during the contentious sessions in council chambers. Councilmember Andre Spivey, an ordained minister himself, took considerable heat to side with the majority on this one, as Bankole Thompson pointed out in the Michigan Chronicle. Spivey told Thompson: "I'm not here to pastor the city of Detroit. I'm not just a city council person to the Christians in this city. I'm a city council person for Christians, Muslims, Jews, those who have no faith at all and those of any other ethnicity or faith that may be represented in Detroit."


Best Local Watchdogs
Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality
313-963-8116; detroitcoalition.org

Considering that the Detroit Police Department has yet to check of half of its to-do list to comply with reforms required by the 2003 consent judgment with the Department of Justice — despite being overseen by an independent monitor — it's a very good thing that the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality is on the job. The DCAPB, a nonprofit organization "seeking solutions to the problems of community violence and police brutality," fights for the legal rights of victims of wrongful police violence. While based in Detroit, the Coalition seeks wider visibility, and has become involved in cases in Ferndale, Warren, Hamtramck and the killing of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah during an FBI raid in Dearborn last October. DCAPD helps victims with legal aid, does research, attends police commission meetings, court-watches and does community organizing. Issues members promote include ending high-speed police chases and banning the use of tasers, which have caused fatal heart attacks. This is not an anti-police group. "We understand the role of law enforcement," says the DCAPB's Sandra Hines. "We just don't want crooked police."


Best issue to remain fired up about
The Detroit incinerator

We tip our hats to the coalition that's been trying to close the controversial waste-to-energy facility, and acknowledge the Sisyphean nature of their struggle. Less than two years ago, folks were celebrating the city's apparent withdrawal from its decades-old commitment to incineration. And here they are now, speculating that Mayor Dave Bing has plans for the city to buy a piece of the place. But he can't do that alone. City Council controls the purse strings, so it should have a say in the matter. Before making any decisions, though, we recommend it hold extensive public hearings, listening carefully to what the opponents of incineration have to say. Then make the Bing administration prove that burning the city's garbage is really cleaner, healthier and less costly than pursuing a strategy that combines landfilling with an all-out recycling effort.


Best squatter to evict immediately
Matty Moroun

Moroun owns the Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns the Ambassador Bridge. What he doesn't own is a swath of Riverside Park his company has taken from the city and refuses to give back. Seems the billionaire octogenarian keeps having wet dreams about building a new bridge, but he can't do that without keeping control of the parkland. We hope the city's lawyers continue to prevail. If they do, the city's got him bent over a barrel. And that couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. (And after that, maybe the city can lean on him to do something with old Michigan Central Station.


Best Anti-Mall Near a Mall
University of Michigan-Dearborn natural area
Corner of Fairlane Drive and John Montieth Boulevard, Dearborn; 313-593-5338

Not far from the bustle of Fairlane Mall, the University of Michigan-Dearborn owns 75 acres of natural habitat (part of the original Henry Ford Estate) and oversees another 225 acres owned by Wayne County. UM-D's Environmental Interpretive Center on Fairlane Drive houses exhibits on topics such as the Rouge River (which runs through the area) and is the gateway to the area foot trails traversing various kinds of forest (such as one of southeast Michigan's rare climax beech-maple forests), maturing old fields, Clara Ford's former rose garden (now returning to nature), an 8-acre lake and a community organic garden. You can see fox, raccoon and deer; more than 250 bird species  have been recorded by the Rouge River Bird Observatory, housed at the center. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; trails open sunrise to sunset. No dogs, no running; bicycling only on the River Rouge Gateway Trail (trailhead on Michigan Avenue). More info at umd.umich.edu/eic.


Best Spiritual Relief
Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan
ghosm.com

Thanks to the SyFy Channel and its endless Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters: International marathons as well as A & E's Paranormal State, paranormal investigations have gone mainstream, and for good reason: Who hasn't been confronted by the unexplained? Well, most of us have. Think about that sock that disappears into the cosmic wormhole in your dryer never to be seen again. No, the Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan won't find your missing sock, but they'll go after that restless spirit in your home. They've been around since 1994, and, sure, you may have a little trouble making out the figures in some of their photographs, but there's passion and a genuine curiosity that sets the Ghost Hunters of Southern Michigan apart from the rest. Plus — and here's the real selling point — they're not in it for the money, which in an economy as bad as ours can be the difference between a haunting and a good night's rest. You might find them on your college campus doing PowerPoint presentations or combing the cemeteries of Belleville trying to record the mutterings of the dead. We're not saying there isn't a perfectly good explanation for those weird noises you've been hearing, but it wouldn't cost you anything to let them try to solve the mystery. Whatever your beliefs, "free" has its own rewards.


Best Place to See a Santeria Ceremony
Benedict's Gift Shop
5614 W. Fort St., Detroit; 313-841-4144

It labels itself a simple botanica and religious supply store, but Benedict's Gift Shop on West Fort Street and Junction brings a whole lot more magic to the table. The narrow shop's wood shelves are crowded with such spiritual miscellany as herbs, charms, incense, statues and scores of candles that, once lit, are meant to bring the user money or luck, ward off evil or help them find their true love. Once in a while, you might see the owner quietly but intently holding her hands over some objects, rubbing oil on the hands and heads of customers, and performing a Spanish-language ceremony that's a blend of Santeria and Catholicism to "activate" the items being bought and establish a connection between them, their new owner and the thing desired. Most customers are among the influx of Mexican and Central American immigrants flocking to the city's southwest side, practicing that old-time religion. Open only during afternoons.


Best Local Comedian Who is Actually Local
Bill Bushart

No offense to the lovely readers who voted Tim Allen the best local comedian, but check your calendars to make sure it's not 1988. Mr. Buzz Lightyear may be a swell fella and a nice ambassador for Motown, but he hasn't sniffed a local area code in decades. Plus he's only recently returned to stand up, after years of starring in mediocre fluff. For an example of a real, honest-to-gosh local talent, look no further than the hilariously raunchy Bill Bushart. Homeboy keeps it so real, he lives in Redford. Bushart lives up to our region's legendary work ethic with hundreds of yearly gigs, at local clubs and on the road. He also finds enough energy to mentor new talent, even sponsoring open mics, career building contests and comedy classes where he drills newcomers in the fine art of dick jokes. You've got to be good to make working this hard look so easy.


Best Storefront Sculpture Studio
Janice Trimpe Studios
15229 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-824-9228

After the hair salon downsized and moved next door, sculpture artist Janice Trimpe renovated the 2,000-square-foot place on Kercheval. Sidewalk-to-first floor windows give passers-by a view of her work: mainly large, outdoor bronze works of figures. Maybe you've seen some of them in public sites, the older man and girl playing checkers that sits in downtown Mount Clemens, for example. Trimpe holds sculpture classes and often can be seen working behind the display area. And while you're looking at her storefront gallery, her cats that live there just might be looking back at you.


Best Newly Abandoned Building
The Book Tower
1265 Washington Blvd., Detroit

Almost as soon as Detroit's long-abandoned Book Cadillac Hotel on Washington Boulevard got restored, the even taller Book Tower just down the street wound up closing its doors. For the city's downtown, it seems it's one step forward, one step back. The Book Tower is among Detroit's most interesting skyscrapers. It's a 36-story, Italian Renaissance expression of its builder's zeal and the utter optimism of the 1920s, when the city was fueled by auto money and quickly grew upward and outward. Its facade is lavish and showy, with layers of intricate ornamentation big enough to see from the ground. Over the years, it fell victim to the glut of office space downtown and more modern office options in the buildings around it, and tenants fled. In 2006, a New York real estate firm bought it from its local owner, announced plans to clean and renovate it, and suddenly declared bankruptcy, leading to power shutoffs, tenant flight and eventual abandonment. Now it's boarded up, waiting to be saved like its neighbor down the street was. And though soot from grimy city air has stained its walls and blackened its nooks over the years, even in its frumpish state its unique beauty shows through.


Best Hope for Saving the Michigan State Fair
The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority 

Yes, the Michigan State Fair had become corny, boring and outdated. True, the most interesting thing about the ancient rides and rigged booths was the chain-smoking carnies harassing people into wasting money on unwinnable games whose prizes were cheap, stuffed toys. And sure, the food was trailer-fried garbage. But the 151-year-old fair's simple, enduring elements were the farm animals and agricultural exhibits trucked down to Detroit from the state's hinterlands. It gave city kids a chance to see and smell animals many had never encountered, and it let rural kids step outside the country and meet all sorts of city people they don't see much of up north. Without trying, it made different kinds of kids ambassadors to one another. A recent proposal by the HCMA to lease the fairgrounds, which Gov. Jennifer Granholm shut down last year due to the state's chronic budget woes, would bring back the annual fair, turn the land into a year-round park, and create an urban farm on part of the property. And it would also keep some old-fashioned but still-worthwhile traditions alive.


Best New Product to Hope is Wildly Successful
Chevy Volt

The fact that GM's electric hybrid will be built in Hamtramck is reason enough to hope consumers want a car that promises to deliver 230 mpg when tooling around town. There's also the hope that the car's innovative technology will help us leap ahead of foreign competition in the race to build greener cars. And then there's the fact that the American taxpayer owns a majority share of the company. At this point, what's good for General Motors really is good for the country.


Best New Business to Invest In
Anything related to medical marijuana

Hundreds of patients a week are applying to obtain the state-issued cards that allow them to legally possess and grow cannabis. And there are all sorts of ways entrepreneurs are looking to cash in on this quickly expanding market. From consultants who will help you set up a growroom to the folks who are establishing private clubs where patients can shop for their meds, there are all sorts of opportunities for people interested in generating cold cash from those green buds.


Best Big Event Headed for Detroit
U.S. Social Forum

Thousands of lefties with an agenda to create change will descend on Detroit for five days beginning June 22. As the forum's website declares: "We must declare what we want our world to look like and we must start planning the path to get there. The USSF provides spaces to learn from each other's experiences and struggles, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, build relationships, and align with our international brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world." Sounds good to us.


Best example of National Media Taking a Real Interest in Detroit
Time magazine's Detroit Blog

Give the folks at Time credit. As news organizations across the country are scaling back, this national publication took the extraordinary step of buying a house in Indian Village near downtown for reporters to stay while diving deeply into the issues facing Detroit and the rest of southeast Michigan. Correspondent Stephen Gray, who led the opening of Time's new effort in 2009 wrote, "Our goal here on the Detroit Blog isn't to rehash clichéd stories about the region's problems. Some of that's unavoidable. But we're more interested in exploring key questions, like: What will it take for Detroit, and the region, to rebound? And who's developing the ideas that are best positioned to make that turnaround succeed?" We applaud both the financial commitment made in pursuing this yearlong project and the journalistic output that has resulted. (Time's problematic "Tragedy of Detroit" cover story on Detroit of last December, notably, was not the work of the Indian Village team.) The blog, thanks mostly to the efforts of Gray, Karen Dybis and Darrell Dawsey, is consistently well-written, expansive, informative, entertaining and thought-provoking. We'll be sorry when this project comes to an end.


Best Example of Stimulus Dollars Being Wasted
Expanding Hall Road

It's said that the roadhogs over at the Michigan Department of Transportation have been waiting for 10 years to widen this stretch of road. Frankly, 10 years ago, that might have made some sense. But with volatile fuel prices, a tanking local economy and residential real estate values in freefall, it's hard to argue that expanding Hall Road in Macomb and Oakland counties will do anything except provide some temporary jobs. Perhaps believing that the year is still 1961, MDOT gobbled up $50 million in federal stimulus funds to expand Hall Road between Crooks and Ryan roads from four to six lanes. Started last summer, the project also calls for rebuilding a half-dozen or so bridges and overpasses. That's right: MDOT, which can't even pay the bill for simple road maintenance in Michigan, jumped at the chance to build more stuff to maintain. Well, at least traffic won't be a problem now, huh? Actually, no: It has been proven time and again that expanding roads eventually worsens congestion instead of relieving it. And some folks wonder why outsiders think metro Detroit is stuck in the past.


Best Seamless Art Space Closing and Opening
Design 99 becomes Public Pool
3309 Caniff St., Hamtramck; publicpoolhamtramck@gmail.com

After husband-and-wife team Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert ran the Design 99 art space for several years, the project on Caniff had run its course for the couple. With several new projects brewing and a baby on the way, Cope and Reichert planned to bow out and leave the space. Luckily for Hamtramck, Steve Hughes, who helped curate a Design 99 show and has published the local zine Stupor for more than a decade, started pulling together such prime Detroit movers as Jim Boyle, Jessie Doan and even Toby Barlow to form a new collective to run the space. Starting with the recent show, Take a Chance on Rock and Roll (which has a rock 'n' closing party April 23), the spunky little space has a new lease on life. And the Detroit area retains a cozy spot for experimental art. Regular gallery hours are 5-8 p.m. Fridays and 1-5 p.m. Saturdays.


Best Boost to Detroit Arts
Kresge Arts in Detroit
kresge.org

There are several elements to the new Kresge Arts in Detroit program, and they were all sorely needed. One is a continuation of support for anchoring institutions undergoing capital renovations such as the DIA, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Opera House. Piece two is to elevate the Eminent Artist Award, a symbolic and abundant prize ($50,000) given to someone whose work is emblematic of what it means to be an artist of excellence in Detroit. A new Eminent Artist is now announced each year, the first being the iconic Charles McGee. The third piece comprises the 18 annual arts fellowships, which, over time, will build beyond just the visual artists, to a much broader spectrum, including performing and literary arts. Odd-numbered years see grants of $25,000 going to visual artists, while even-numbered years will focus on the literary and performance ones. And the fourth piece is an attempt to work with several arts organizations to try to figure out how they can help make those groups' collective impact stronger and more efficient. Basically, they're defibrillating Detroit, one artist at a time.


Best New Detroit Tradition
Marche Du Nain Rouge

According to local lore, Le Nain Rouge, aka the Red Dwarf, is an evil spirit that has plagued Detroit since its founding, first cursing Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (he was indicted for illegal trafficking and imprisoned soon after), and then periodically popping up throughout history to cause misery and grief (explains a lot, doesn't it?). It's claimed that early Detroiters organized the first March of the Nain Rouge on March 23, 1710, to banish the mischievous bastard from the city, and to welcome the coming spring, so it's not truly a new tradition. But then it disappeared for a few hundred years. This year, the purported tradition was resurrected for a special 300th anniversary march down Cass Aavenue — in the spirit of Carnaval and Mardi Gras. Hundreds of Detroiters banded together to symbolically purge the city of evil and revel in thoughts of the warmer and better times that lie ahead. Marchers were encouraged to get their costumed freak on, and they did. Here's to next year — don't miss it.

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