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Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 COMERICA CITYFEST

The 2008 Comerica Cityfest (formerly the Tastefest), is returning to the New Center area this year for the fourth of July weekend from July 2-July 6. The Cityfest, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, is in essence a collection of food vendors, along with multiple performance stages which line the streets of W. Grand Boulevard between Cass and Third, essentially in front of the old General Motor's headquarters and the Fisher Building.

There will be four performance stages at this year's event, each one taking on its own personality. The stages include, The Motor City Casino Stage (presented by The Detroit News), The Pure Detroit Stage (presented by Real Detroit Weekly), The Grand Boulevard Jazz and Blues Stage (presented by Hour), and the New Center Council Park Stage (presented by Metro Times).

The Motor City Casino Stage will hold some of the most well known headlining acts which include performances by De La Soul, and George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. For a free concert, it's hard to beat De La Soul and George Clinton. De La Soul is a classic hip hop group, and besides the obvious funk pioneer stature of George Clinton, he has a nice Detroit affiliation as well. In 1963, and early in Clinton's career, Clinton and his group Parliament moved to Detroit in hopes of recording for Motown. They ended up landing a contract with independent record label Revilot Records, which released numerous Parliament albums. Clinton also wrote songs for Motown groups, including The Jackson Five and Diana Ross.

Additionally the Pure Detroit Stage will mostly be showcasing Detroit's own best and brightest hip-hop, rock and electronica groups, the Grand Boulevard Jazz and Blues Stage will feature local and national Jazz and Blues acts including Detroit's own Thornetta Davis, and the New Center Council Park stage will show off Detroit's best folk and indie rock banks.

While the event is free, including all of the performances on each of the four stages, food and beverage purchases from the vendors help subsidize the cost. The food line-up is always extremely good and while not finalized yet, past years have included around 50 vendors with a wide range of unbelievable choices from a slew of great restaurants around metro Detroit. Each vendor has its own out door tent at which they offer a selection of some of their favorite dishes. Each item is priced in tickets which they sell at the event. The price is $7 for 11 tickets and while out of context that doesn't mean anything, from my experience, the prices are not too outrageous.

Moreover, this year festival-goers will have more time to experience Comerica Cityfest 2008 with its new extended hours. The festival will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.

If you would like to learn more about Comerica Cityfest 2008 please visit the Newcenter website at: Comerica Cityfest 2008

If you would like to know more about previous Cityfest's, check out the 2007 website which lists performances from last year, as well as food vendors: Comerica Cityfest 2007

Detroit Army

Monday, April 21, 2008

IRON CHEF PLANS TO OPEN RESTUARANT AT REVAMPED BOOK CADILLAC HOTEL

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that a chef from the television show "Iron Chef" on the food network, plans to open restaurant at revamped Book Cadillac hotel.

"Michael Symon, a star of television’s “Iron Chef” food show and one of the nation’s fastest-rising celebrity chefs, will open an upscale restaurant this fall at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit hotel." The Free Press goes on to state, "The Culinary Institute of America graduate was named one of the Ten Best New Chefs by Food & Wine in 1998."
Source: Detroit Free Press

While I have been told that Mr. Symon's restaurants in Cleveland are quite good, I still can't decide whether this announcement is exciting or just completely unimpressive. To me, an upscale chain restaurant or steakhouse in the vein of Ruth's Chris or Capital Grille would have solidified the Book Cadillac as a premier hotel destination within the city. On the other hand, an upscale unique/independent restaurant opened by a nationally known chef or even a well known local chef would also have been intriguing.

Somehow though, what seems like a low brow pseudo celebrity chef from a television show doesn't get me motivated to take out a pen and paper and write home about it. I wonder if I'm out of line?
Detroit Army

Sunday, April 20, 2008

'I am being punished by my God'

2/8/2008-Kwame: 'I am on an assignment from God'

4/19/2008-Kwame: 'I am being punished by my God'

Waaaaaaait a minute....

No, it still sounds about right.
Detroit Army

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MODEL D APRIL SPEAKER SERIES-"HOW SOUTHWEST DETROIT GROWS"

If you have never been to www.modeldmedia.com and taken a look at their "internet magazine" about Detroit, you should. It is another website which chooses to take a positive look at Detroit and employs a proactive approach to problems facing our city and region. In addition to their "internet magazine," Model D also hosts a monthly speaker series in which different speakers present their ideas and experiences regarding interesting and sometimes pressing issues about Detroit.

The Model D speakers for the month of April include Kathy Wendler of the Southwest Detroit Business Association, Jim Saucedo of State Farm Insurance, and Tim Thorland and John Van Camp of Southwest Solutions. As a group, they will talk about the ways in which Southwest Detroit is growing, what potential investment opportunities there might be, and what the neighborhood as a whole is doing to attract more residents and new businesses.

If you are unfamiliar with Southwest Detroit, and wonder why Model D would host speakers in connection with this particular area of Detroit, plenty of reasons can be found. For one, while most of the city of Detroit is shrinking and losing residents, Southwest Detroit is actually gaining. If nothing else, this is the reason why there is so much interest about this area and why it is hailed as a success story in an otherwise bleak neighborhood outlook.

While Southwest Detroit is most notably known for Mexicantown and the surrounding plethora of popular Hispanic restaurants, Model D's website states:

"Southwest Detroit is an exciting area for many reasons: its ethnic diversity, strong commercial districts, dense residential areas, successful cultural and community organizations, and many former residents still loyal to the old neighborhood."
Source: Model D

Just recently, Corey Williams of the Associated Press wrote a story about Southwest Detroit and the positive strides it has recently made. He makes reference to the influx of a large population of Hispanic residents, recent development activity and the surprising fact that this is occurring in Detroit, and not in a city within close proximity to the Mexican border. In the article, Olga Savic, of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., stated, "It's one of the few places in the city where you are seeing a lot of private investment."
Source: Associated Press

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to hold the April speaker series about Southwest Detroit. More than anything, this event is a great opportunity to hear about a success story in the city. Hopefully, attendees can learn something which he or she can put to use within the city and/or the metro area. It's an opportunity to listen to plans and ideas that worked, instead of listening to why a plan did not, which is something that some people in Michigan have not done in some time.

The event will take place on April 23, 2008 at 5:00 p.m., at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle. It is sponsored by Model D, the Detroit Yacht Club, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The event is free, but space is limited, so you must register beforehand. If you would like to attend this event, you can register at Speaker Series Registration
Detroit Army

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

RED BULL AIR RACE

You've got plans for the weekend of May 31. The Red Bull Air Race is coming to Detroit and it should be a scene. Taking place on Saturday May 31, and Sunday June 1, the event is basically a race through the sky where pilots must navigate through an obstacle course in the fastest possible time. The races are also supplemented by a program of show flights.

It started in 2001, but this is the first year that a leg of the Red Bull Air Race tour will be held in Detroit. This year it will only be held in one other U.S. city, San Diego, and since 2003, it has only been held in two other U.S. cities, San Francisco and Reno, Nevada. Worldwide it is only held in ten cities each year.

There will be two ticketed areas, one in Windsor, and one in Detroit, accompanied by "premium concessions," and jumbotrons so that race fans can catch a birds eye view of the aircrafts. In Detroit, the race can be seen on the Detroit riverfront, from the Renaissance Center to Belle Isle. Race promoters expect that the race will attract 100,000 spectators and pump $64 million dollars into the local economy.

While the Red Bull Air Race website says it picked Detroit because of its rich aviation history, reputation as a great sports town, and international waterway, the seed was planted by Jon Rimanelli, CEO of of Detroit Air Racing Inc., a Detroit based company of aviation enthusiasts. A prime example of how we all can make a difference in Detroit/Metro, Jon intensely lobbied for the event, and once officials took notice of how the Detroit River stacks up against other waterways in the world, the pieces were in place to bring the race to rock citay.

If you'd like to know more about the races and all the locations, check out the Red Bull Air Race website at Red Bull Air Race

If you want information on buying tickets or Detroit hospitality packages, here is the link: Detroit Red Bull Air Race Ticket Information
Detroit Army

Monday, April 7, 2008

DETROIT SHIRT COMPANY

We received a comment recently reminding us that we haven't reviewed the Detroit Shirt Company, and it's a point well taken. Detroit Shirt Co. is about the art rather than about being clever, and it is extremely good about meeting its objective. Personnel at the Detroit Shirt Company consists of a group of artists with a keen interest in Detroit and a knack for creating original designs. The company aims at showing Detroit/Metro in a positive light, while also promoting local artistic talent in the process.

The more I browse through the shirts that they offer, the more I appreciate what they are doing. Detroit Shirt Co. offers a wide variety of t-shirts, hoodies, long sleeve shirts, tank tops, sweatpants and shorts for both men and women. Each item has a distinct and original print on it, designed by one of the 18 artists or so who make up the Detroit Shirt Co. team.

The designs available are way too many to mention, but I do have some favorites. I especially like the design by artist Dorion Compo, which just says "the D," in the upper right corner, with the "the" in red and the "D" in blue, and both words dripping as if someone used too much paint. I also like the design with an interstate sign in the middle and an olde english D on it with a flame pattern coming from both sides of the sign. Additionally, the design by Kevin VanHooser, with a boxer in the middle and the words, "Detroit Muscle" written in a small font to the right has always caught my eye. Possibly an homage to Detroit great, Joe, Louis, or just a cool design which I've over analyzed.

Detroit Shirt Co. also has apparel with multiple print variations of the word Detroit, as well as designs related to Boblo Island, Corktown, Detroit's rock roots and an entire category they call Detroit Speed Shop, among others. I'm not sure exactly what Detroit Speed Shop is, but it's obviously related to our rich automobile culture, which the shirts in this category proudly show off .

I approve of pretty much everything about Detroit Shirt Co. It promotes the positive side of Detroit, aims to increase awareness of local artists, and provides loyal Detroiters with unique, hip, apparel for us to show off our civic pride. It's hard to argue with any of Detroit Shirt Co.'s goals. I can only hope that they continue to come out with new products and attract local artists interested in creating those designs. Detroit Shirt Co. is a company to be excited about and one which shouldn't have a hard time finding continued support.

Detroit Shirt Company products are available on their website at:
www.DetroitShirt.com
and can be found at a variety of retailers which can be found here:
Detroit Shirt Retailers
Detroit Army

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

URBAN BEAN CO.

In the near future, Josh Greenwood, owner of Urban Bean Co., sees Capitol Park as a prosperous location , and you can't help but share his cautious, but readily apparent optimism on the issue. Located at Grand River and Griswold, Urban Bean Co.'s huge windows overlook Capitol Park in all of its glory, which as of right now, isn't much. In 2001, the downtown Detroit bus center was moved to Capitol Park after the former center was torn down to make way for the Campus Martius Park. Along with the temporary relocation of the bus center came masses waiting for their rides, homeless people looking for a place to stay, derelicts looking for a quick fix.

Yet, while Capitol Park's glory doesn't add up to much these days, Greenwood is depending on the area making a complete turnaround once the new Rosa Parks Transit Center opens a few blocks away, supposedly in September 2008. This turnaround will be aided by the long awaited redevelopment of the Book Cadillac Hotel. The hope is that along with the Book Cadillac, entrepreneurs like Greenwood will jump at the opportunity for successful business ventures in the area, whether it be lofts, stores, or restaurants.

With regard to the actual substance of Urban Bean Co., the place jumps out at you the minute you see it. Its bright orange exterior is of complete contrast to the gloomy exterior of Capitol Park. Its design and color scheme invites foot traffic inside, which there will hopefully be more of in September.

Once inside, Josh is the first to greet you from behind the barista counter. I'm pretty sure it's a one man operation at this point, so for a while at least, Josh is always going to be behind the counter. I talked to Josh for ten minutes and I already had judgments about his personality (which apparently, or at least I've been told, is not a healthy way to interact with people). Josh is my kind of guy. He was outwardly cynical, but behind the exterior, an opportunistic and optimistic side continually sneaked through, letting you know that there is more of him to be recognized than what he initially presents. You can tell the guy has pride in his store and believes in what he's doing.

The inside of the store is a combination of bright orange and yellow. The darkest color in the place was that of the black cat roaming around inside. On the main floor, more bar stools would be nice. but in the meantime, you can stand at the barista bar, or at the tables in front, while looking out at Capitol Park through the huge ceiling to floor windows.

The upstairs has multiple tables and places to sit within every corner. It's a small upstairs, but there's enough room for close to 15 people to comfortably hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee. Additionally, what makes this a hipper coffee shop than most, is that their are open turntables upstairs. Josh schedules known DJs when available, but he also has open turntable slots for unknown DJs trying to improve their craft and make a name for themselves.

As for the actual product, there are plenty of drink options including your normal espresso drinks, soda, Vitamin Water, Arizona Iced Tea, Gatorade, Crush, Red Bull, smoothies, and Frappuccinos. Snacks are available including muffins, bagels and pastries. He also has antacids, cigarettes, aspirin and cigars. For that matter, smoking is pretty much allowed throughout, and while I don't know if that's even legal, it adds to the ambiance.

When I was there, I got a double latte, which was fine, but to me, the place isn't about the drinks or the food. Urban Bean Co. is a place to hang out downtown, drink some caffeine, and possibly drum up a conversation that you wouldn't have normally had. Whether you do that while reading a book, doing some light work, or listening to someone spin on the upstairs turntables is up to you.

When Capitol Park cleans up, Urban Bean Co. is going to be sitting in a prime location, and instead of hearing bums asking for a quarter from across the street, hopefully, you'll be able to hear Josh Greenwood laughing all the way to the bank.

Below are photos of the scene at Urban Bean Co. and a link to the complete flickr set:


Main Barista Counter

Front of the Bar

Looking Out Onto Griswold

Heading Upstairs

Upstairs-Turntables Towards the Far End

Upstairs

The Intersection-Seen Through the Upstairs Windows

Complete Flickr Set At: Complete Urban Bean Co. Flickr Set

Urban Bean Co. is located at:
200 Grand River Ave.
Detroit, MI
48226
313-962-9898
Website: www.myspace.com/urbanbeanco
Normal Hours: 7:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m. weekdays, and 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. weekends.
Detroit Army