Thursday, September 25, 2008


John Hertel's organization, the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council, released the details of its tri-county transit plan Wednesday Night. The plan is an important step in the right direction for Metro Detroit and our ultimate goal of creating an efficient regional transit system.

The plan has four main points which include, enhancing existing bus service, introducing rapid transit corridors of light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit, creating seamless connection between mass transit lines, and finding funding sources.

The plan is not complete and the provisions of the plan will be discussed at future meetings before a finalized plan will hopefully be signed off on my the four main tri-county leaders.

Details of the plan can be found here

Detroit Army

Friday, September 19, 2008


The Free Press ran a column today under their "local comment" section of the newspaper written by Brian Pappas who is returning to Michigan after practicing law for 3 years in Chicago. Here is a portion of what he has to say.

"I love Michigan, and I love Detroit. I hold three degrees from Michigan universities. Aside from my dad, I don't know anyone else who will pause the TiVo to watch a Pure Michigan ad. Still, I left, moving to Chicago after law school to experience all that a successful city has to offer.

I felt guilty, but I wasn't alone. Many of my classmates left, too, for California and Virginia, New York and Florida. What we found is that we weren't alone. Since 2006, Chicago has been awash in a sea of Detroit Tiger caps with the distinctive Old English D. The barista at the nearby Caribou is from Royal Oak, my neighbor moved from Grand Rapids, my coworker grew up in Trenton, and on and on. Like me, they also wanted the economic and social opportunities offered by cities like Chicago.

So did I find the job of my dreams in Chicago? Nope, the job market is saturated with new lawyers. Did I find the social life I dreamed of? I suppose, but I've never been one to close down bars or attend the latest art shows.

What I did find was direction for my career, the experience of selling my car and using public transit, and the joy of running the lake path as the sun rose on a warm summer morning. Closer to my 30s, I enjoyed a lifestyle that eluded me in my 20s in the Detroit area.

I also met my wife, who chose to stay in Chicago instead of returning to Kansas after college.

But now, nearly three years later, I am moving back to Michigan. When I tell people, the normal response is "good for you," or "congratulations," but every once in a while I get negative feedback, and almost always from transplanted Michiganders. Many seem to feel guilty from years of parental pressure, and they try to rationalize their decision to move while simultaneously touting their love of Michigan."

In case anyone here didn't know, thats my story, more or less. The exception being that I went to law school for 3 years and promptly moved back to Michigan as opposed to attending law school in Michigan, then moving to Chicago for three years, and then moving back.

For the most part, Pappas's observations are right on. Chicago has tons of kids walking around wearing there olde english D hat and representing metro Detroit or Michigan like they are still living there...except they're not. I'll admit that I was one of those people, but with one difference. I knew that after my three years of law school were done in Chicago that I would be moving back to metro Detroit, no questions asked. And everyone knew it. I told anyone who would listen that this was just a pit stop on my journey and that while Chicago was great, Michigan was where I wanted to be.

When native Michiganders in Chicago told me where they were from I bluntly asked them if they wanted to move "home" with me. Usually their answer was exactly what Brian Pappas describes, "I love Michigan, but I'm not going back." Those were the words which I hated most.

Most of these people moved to Chicago, like Pappas wrote, to see "all that a successful city has to offer." I can't blame them for that. That's what I did and for as of now, for Detroit to succeed, experiencing what growing cities are like and how they operate, might be an integral part of turning metro Detroit into a growing and economically prosperous region once again. The problem is the response, "I'm not going back." That's what needs to change. How to fix that response, I don't know. Of course we need new industry. Of course we need new jobs. Of course we need mass transit. Of course we need more cooperation between the counties and cities.

That doesn't really answer the question though. And I don't know the answer except that every one of us must do our part to revitalize this region. Whether it be with positive thinking, entrepreneurial ideas, promotion of our area, or cooperation with complete disregard for race, county, city, government lines, we have do everything we can to uplift our area, and take it one day at a time.

When asked why I wanted to move back to Michigan, by not only Chicagoans and transplanted Michiganders, but also Michiganders still living in the state, I told them that metro Detroit and the State of Michigan is a great place. Usually I got a sideways look of confusion, but it was to be expected. I told people, we have museums, sports, culture, restaurants, great suburbs, a fascinating city core, and a resilient population of individuals who have been through it all. We also have an unbelievable northern part to our state which rivals anywhere in the United States in terms of beauty, serenity, and natural wonder.

I explained to them that while Chicago might be nice and spotless and clean, not only does Detroit have soul, but we have A soul that has gone through the great times and the bad to emerge as complicated and different. We can be optimistic and negative, cocky and insecure, prosperous and self-defeating, and compassionate and downright rude. To tell you the truth, I couldn't find that in Chicago.

So, this is my call to all former Michiganders living in cities around the country. Take advantage of your time in those cities. Do your due diligence. Learn everything that you can and bring that knowledge back to Michigan. Michigan is your home and you have the opportunity to do something great. I'll hold down metro Detroit with the 4.5 million other great residents for the time being. Those that are here will continue moving this state in the right direction. When you are ready to move back, we'll be here and we'll welcome you with open arms.

You can see Brian Pappas's local comment here. Write him an email or letter and let him know how impressed you are with his comment in care of the Free Press Editorial Page, 615 W. Lafayette, Detroit, MI 48226 or at

Detroit Army

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Everything about the Farmers Restaurant screams the Midwest. With portions larger than any human should eat in one sitting, you know that you couldn't be anywhere else. The restaurant offers omelettes, eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, corned beef, turkey, strip steak, pancakes, french toast and house made polish sausage along with your choice of grits, or potatoes.

The setting is a minimalist environment where the food speaks for itself. The restaurant opens at 5:00 AM for the Eastern Market early birds and breakfast is served until closing around 3:00 PM. This is in contrast to Russell Street Deli which only serves breakfast on the weekends, and Butchers Inn which only has breakfast until 11:00 AM.

Omelettes range from vegetarian to filled with gyro meat. You can order eggs, pancakes, or french toast, paired with any meat under the sun. Lunch is available as well, including corned beef sandwiches, tuna, hamburgers, pitas and salads.

I ordered corned beef hash which looked as if it came fresh from the farm...and it might have. The potatoes were piled high, mixed with corned beef and onions, and topped off with two eggs cooked over medium. The hash wasn't the kind where the potatoes and corned beef are mixed together looking like they just came out of a blender. That's a good thing.

Unfortunately though, the corned beef to potato ratio wasn't appropriate, and while I almost never leave food on a plate, the potatoes proved to be too much for me to finish. The portion was huge and I would either add more corned beef to the dish or pare down the potatoes. Seriously, no one needs to eat that many potatoes in one sitting.

The inordinate amount of potatoes on my plate didn't give me the best first impression, but I couldn't help but notice the man next to me with his family eating the "Farmer's Special." Consisting of 2 eggs, ham, bacon, AND sausage along with hash browns and toast, the "Farmer's Special" was the biggest plate of food I've ever seen, and while I could feel my arteries clogging just looking at it, the food looked amazing. In the future, that's what I'm ordering.

On another note, with any egg selection you are given the choice between having potatoes or grits. Not enough breakfast places offer grits and it's definitely something to think about when deciding where to eat breakfast.

The next time I go to Eastern Market on a Saturday and I want corned beef hash, I probably will forego Farmers Restaurant and head to Russell Street Deli. No one could have fresher ingredients than Farmers Restaurant though. While Russell Street's corned beef hash can't be beat, if you want a huge, hearty, wholesome, no frills meal, Farmers Restaurant should be your choice.

Below are photographs from Farmers Restaurant. A link to the complete Farmers Restaurant flickr set can be found here

Farmers Restaurant
2542 Market
Detroit, MI 48207

Detroit Army

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Plans were unveiled by Made in Detroit today for lofts near the Motor City Casino in the old Detroit Creamery Building on Spruce St. Designed by Albert Kahn, the building was erected in 1914 and is near the intersection of Grand River and the Lodge Freeway.

"Known as the 1015 Spruce St. project, the development would offer 93 loft condominiums carved out of the historic Detroit Creamery Building, a 1914 industrial structure designed by architect Albert Kahn near the Lodge Freeway and Grand River.

Units would measure from 1,000 to more than 3,500 square feet, and sell from the $300,000 to $850,000 or more for the largest penthouses.

The project also would include a spa, health club and meeting rooms."

With the housing, mortgage, and credit market in shambles, I don't know what gives these developers the indication that they are going to find buyers for this condo project and in turn receive funding for these lofts.

Further, there are condos planned for the riverfront. an area most people would describe as more attractive than by Motor City, that developers are having trouble selling at prices lower than the ones announced for the old creamery. That being said, these lofts would be a great addition to the city, especially for the designated area. Let's all hope for the best.

See full article here
Detroit Army

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Possibly the youngest sneaker shop businessman in the country, Revive owner Aaron Cohen left Michigan at a young age for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, but he couldn't resist returning to his roots in Metro Detroit. It wasn't hard for him to notice that their was an black hole of nothingness in the Metro Detroit market for high end sneakers and hip street wear that New York City has so much of.

Open since 2006, Revive in downtown Birmingham has filled that gap. Offering limited edition and custom made Nike's, hooded sweatshirts, T-shirts, Jeans and hats by labels such as The Hundreds, RockersNYC, Acapluco Gold, Reason, Married to the Mob, Lemar and Dauley, Rocksmith, King Stampede, Amongst Friends, Staple, and more, Revive has given Birmingham an edge not seen before (Yes, I realize Birmingham described as with "an edge" is humorous).

Cohen first started selling shoes out of the store solely on consignment. The way consignment works is that consignor aka the seller bring in items they want to sell, the owner sells those items, and the consignor takes a cut of the price the item sells for, while the owner takes the rest. New York has many of these consignment shops, but Revive might just be the first consignment sneaker store in the state of Michigan.

While Revive still runs on consignment, Cohen's ultimate goal was to strike deals with all the major sneaker brands. In the limited edition sneaker world, not just anybody has the right to sell hard to find sneakers. Thats why they' edition. Representatives for the brand are sent out to take a look at the stores to make sure the vibe, style, products and owners are up to each individual company's standards.

It isn't easy though to gain those privileges though and when Revive first opened, Cohen faced an uphill battle. After two years in operation, Cohen has managed to impress multiple companies and in turn gain the rights to sell many of the limited edition sneakers that sneakerheads crave. Cohen still has more shoe brands with which he wants to gain the rights to, and if Revive continues to be a success, I don't see why it would be a problem.

Walking into the store, hipster paintings and graffiti adorn the walls and hip hop is ringing from the speakers. Jeans, hoodies, t-shirts, and hats line the walls on both sides of the store, while sneakers can be found on shelves in between and below the apparel on their own prominent shelves. Couches sit on the left side of the store for your relaxing pleasure, although I don't get the impression that you're invited to sit around and hang out. Once in a while the store emits just a hint of an elitist attitude, but it's all part of the persona.

As for the employees, they seem knowledgeable about the merchandise and are happy to show that off. I don't know if this is still the case, but at least in the past, employees weren't actually given a pay check and instead were given discounts on items within the store. I've heard grumblings about why anyone would want to work for discounts, but I think it's a testament to how passionate these employees are about the street culture, and for that matter, the store. Anyway, it seems like a good deal for Cohen and like I always say, you can't knock the hustle (Actually I would never seriously say that, unless I was kidding...or actually, maybe I would, I don't know, I've said some pretty ridiculous stuff).

Aaron Cohen has a good thing going at Revive and he knows it. Revive has brought a sense of street style to Metro Detroit, specifically the mean streets of Birmingham. Their aren't too many places like Revive and it's good to see the young, creative, entrepreneurial class of Detroit showing how successful they can be.

The store is definitely worth the trip, and it's way less expensive than flying to New York to find gear that not many people around here have. Just remember though, although while inside the store you might FEEL like you're in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Meanwhile, is the LES still hip or is it now just yuppie?), you're still in Birmingham, so don't get too crazy.

Below are photos from Revive in Birmingham, Michigan

You can see the complete Flickr set of photographs from Revive here

383 Hamilton Row
Birmingham, MI 48009
Revive Blog

Detroit Army

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Nolan Finley of the Detroit News writes a thought provoking article in the Detroit News on September 7, 2008 regarding the state of Detroit City. His ideas are overly idealistic, with some being unrealistic and all much easier said than done. Yet, there is something to be said for the tone of the article and the urgency that all of us as metro Detroiters should have regarding our city.

"Detroit needs a big turnaround play to change the conversation about a city that can no longer deny its decline.

Why not make every inch of the city a tax-free zone? If you're willing to come here to live or open a business, you won't have to pay state or city income taxes, property taxes or sales taxes.

Pay for it by taking the bureaucracy down to the bare bones until the city regains a critical mass of commerce and residents.

Boost the repopulation effort by recruiting the immigrants who are flocking to America from places like Iraq and Eastern Europe.

Use the city's thousands of vacant houses to lure them here. If they're willing to come, give them the keys to a house. If they fix it up, it's theirs.

Detroit doesn't have the luxury any longer of a slow and steady rebuild. It needs to make a dramatic statement to get people talking about it again as a city of hope, rather than as the most devastated place in America."

See the entire article here
Detroit Army