Saturday, December 20, 2008


Hello all, I'd like to welcome you all to 2009, aka, our year.

In case you missed my life altering blog during most of the month of December, I'm happy to let you know that I'm back. Here's to Moving Forward.

Heading down Jos. Campau with my father and sister, after having a feast at Polish Village Cafe, the mission was finding great Polish sausage. The good folks at Detroityes had given me suggestions on where to look, so I had an idea of where I was going. I was told that Srodeck's, Bozeks, Kopytko, Polish Market, Stan's and Markowzycz are the best in the area.

We started off at Kopytko market on the south end of Hamtram on Jos. Campau. The market is on bottom of a stand alone structure and has a bit of a raggedy appearance on the outside. The three of us went straight to the meet counter to start ordering sausage, passing by the 80 year old woman peeling garlic in the corner. I was told to ask for lean chuck sausage, dried for seven days. Later I cut up the lean chuck and fried it along side some eggs. Needless to say, it was mighty tasty. We also picked up some Kabinosa aka hunter's sausage which was great for snacking. Lastly we tried some chunky smoked kielbasa. I'm sure its a delicacy if you really know your sausage, but I just wasn't amenable to its look and texture. Basically it looks like your small intestine and it wobbles back and forth when shaken. As people said in college (not me of course), it's my stizz.

Kopytko also carries fresh kielbasa, smoked liver sausage, and kiszka. Additionally they carry potato and cheese, sauerkraut, and mushroom pierogies. I advise taking a trip to hamtown to check out Kopytko for yourself, but if you can't you can order most of their products online. They ship anywhere. Take a look at Kopytko Meat Market

Next we turned back, heading North on Jos. Campau, where we ran into Srodeck's market on the West side of the street. Srodek's is bigger than Kopytko and is stocked with more goods. Meats, sausages and pickles line the showcase where an older Polish gentlemen took orders, resigned to his present position as the resident expert on Polish fare. "How are you today?", my father asked him as we walked in. "Alright I guess," he told us with a sigh. Typical Detroiter response in my estimation and probably reasonable concerning the state of things in 2008.

The economy was of no consequence to the man in front of us from Windsor. He told us how he makes the special trip to Hamtramck multiple times a year just to pick up some tasty pig products for his wife and daughter who seemingly can't get enough of it. The first product he had us try was something made from pig intestines topped off with a flesh colored gelatin. He told us that when he wants a little midnight snack he just eats a scoop of this stuff. It actually tasted pretty good, but based on its texture and description, my mind wouldn't let me enjoy it. We tried a few different sausages on the man from Windsor's reccommendation, but we ended up playing it safe and buying more of the hunter's sausage which we had first tried at Koptyko.

Besides sausage and Polish meat, Srodeck's also carries all types of Pierogi, Golabki aka stuffed cabbage, and Polish beer including Zywiec. Earlier we had tried Zywiec while eating at Polish Village Cafe. It was originally founded in 1852 and nationalized after World War II. Heineken acquired it in the 1990's making it a little more commercialized, but still very good nonetheless.

After we finished purchasing way more sausage than any human actually needed, we thanked everyone who helped us. On our way out, a kid, presumabley from somewhere in the area, stopped in and bought a pound of bacon. My father, sister, and I all nodded in approval. The bacon is for next time.

I still have plenty more sausage tasting to do in Hamtramck. I'm looking forward to checking out Markowzycz, Stan’s, Polish Market, and Bozeks. Below are some photographs from Kopytko and Srodek's. The entire Kopytko flickr set can be found here and Srodeck's here.

Kopytko Meat Market
8609 Joseph Campau St.
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 873-4210

9601 Joseph Campau St.
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 871-8080

Detroit Army

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I don't know the specifics of this group, but it looks like they have the right idea. The entire theory behind Progress Michigan is to spring Michiganders to action by providing, "a strong credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable, assists in the promotion of progressive ideas and uses state-of-the-art web based new media to creatively build grassroots support for progressive ideas."

I'm sure the group will turn out to be a fascist facilitator of over zelous propaganda, but for now I'm going to take their word for it.

Anyway, I received this in my email box earlier today.

Modern public transit could be on its way to the Great Lakes state, but we need your help. You can help steer a groundbreaking transportation funding proposal through the legislature. Tell the state legislature to implement the Michigan Transportation Funding Task Force's recommendations now!

Click here to urge your representative and senator to take action for public transit today!

According to Cambridge Systematics, Michigan could create over 6,000 jobs by investing in public transit. What's more, implementation of a public transit system - like the ones being considered in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and along the Woodward Corridor - would help bring Michigan into the 21st century, creating vibrant cities that attract young professionals. Building modern systems of public transit in Michigan, such as light and commuter rail, will help connect people to their jobs, their schools, and to communities.

Let's bring Michigan into the 21st century by investing in new, innovative forms of public transit, as well as creating thousands of jobs for our great state! Before the legislative session ends, tell your representative and senator to support new transit funding and take up this critical issue in December.

Go to and tell your state rep and senator to support public transit for Michigan!


Dan Farough

Executive Director, Progress Michigan

The point is, take up Progress Michigan on their offer and contact your state representatives and senators and let them know that you support public transit. One day I'd like to ride back and forth down Woodward without having to drive or wait an hour for a SMART bus. Get on that.

Oh and while your contacting Michigan political figures, tell them what complete dumbasses you think Richard Shelby and Bob Corker are and that the two of them and their states shall reap what they sow if you have anything to do with it. (Take a large breath) Also ask them where your credit line is that you were promised after you ponied up a trillion dollars for a bunch of scumbags, and how exactly congress just happened to get religion within the last month which just so nicely coincided with the Midwest asking for a loan. Then tell them that you'd like to take 50 billion of that trillion, or even just 16 billion of it and give 15 billion of it to the companies that created the very economic wealth that this country so proudly rests on and then tell them to take the extra 1 billion and shove it up the rest of those dimwits in the senate's....ah well nevermind you get the picture.

Or just tell them about the public transit.

Detroit Army

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Originally Posted 5/29/08
Updated 9/2/08
Updated 9/12/08
Updated 12/6/08

"Key components of a plan to build a light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit were approved without opposition by the state Senate on Thursday, and lawmakers said they plan to complete the multibill package when they resume session next week.

Bills approved by the Senate on Thursday would:

• Allow the organization of a nonprofit corporation to build and operate the railway system.

• Permit the railway to obtain land, sell bonds and mortgage its property to provide security for the bonds.

• Let the railway store and use electrical power.

• Authorize the Michigan Department of Transportation to establish a transit development finance zone that would be empowered to collect incremental property tax revenue.

• Require the state transportation department to supplement the railway's fare revenues with up to $8 million annually, beginning with the 2010-11 budget year."

Source: (Detroit News)

State congress is trying to work together with regional leaders who are overseeing the three-county mass transit plan. Multiple plans have floated around. A private plan which is partly funded by private money and has 12 stops along Woodward from Downtown to the New Center Area has been juxtaposed with a public plan which would run along Woodward from Downtown to the city limits at 8 mile.

It appears that the former has won out between the two, at least for now. For over two years, John Hertel has been studying all options to decide what is the most feasible plan. It looks like the privately funded plan will win out with the caveat that its construction would allow for additions. I believe that at some point, light rail will extend all the way to Pontiac along Woodward and a separate rail line extending from Ann Arbor to the Metro Airport, and then to Downtown Detroit, will connect to the currently proposed light rail line.

This would be a great start...

"The four regional leaders overseeing a three-county mass transit plan are scheduled to hear a finalized presentation and potentially vote on the proposed system at 3 p.m. Monday at the Miller Canfield offices in downtown Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr., Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Board Chairman William Crouchman — collectively known as the “Big 4” — will hear an outline from transit czar John Hertel on 26 months of assembling a three-county plan to deploy a light-rail and bus system."

Source: (Crain's Detroit)

Detroit Army

9/12/08 Update

Excitement, funds build for light rail in Detroit

John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press reports that the privately funded light rail project for the city of Detroit is nearing its goal of raising $100 million dollars. Obstacles remain however including passing a bill in the state legislature for approval of the system, creating a non profit entity to run the system, and collaboration with a concurrent study by DTOGS regarding a publicly funded light rail project that would run along Woodward as well.

"The project, now known as the Regional Area Initial Link, or TRAIL, has gotten commitments for about 75% of its goal of raising $90 million to $100 million, a person familiar with the details of the effort said.

In a key fund-raising innovation, leaders of the effort are selling naming rights for up to 13 planned stations along the 3.4-mile route up Woodward Avenue. The rights go for $3 million for each pair of north-south stations. So far, 10 purchasers have committed to buying rights.

Having 10 commitments for station naming rights means the project has raised $30 million in that way. Selling rights to the other three stations would push the total from that money source to $39 million.

In addition, the Troy-based Kresge Foundation, which already has donated $50 million to create the Detroit RiverWalk, tentatively has agreed to provide between $10 million and $50 million to back the new transit system, foundation president Rip Rapson said this week. The exact figure will depend on the success of other fund-raising, but is expected to be close to the $30-million to $40-million range.

But if the project gets built, it could substantially boost economic development in the city's center. A study to be released Monday by the nonprofit Transportation Riders United group is expected to say that billions of dollars in new investment would follow creation of a light-rail line. The report, titled "The Economic Case for Light Rail in Detroit," studied such systems in several other cities.

A rail system along Woodward also would give a major boost to an effort to build a rail line from Ann Arbor to New Center. That line, planned by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and to be paid for largely with federal money, would feed passengers to and from the TRAIL line, whose existence could help justify the expense of the Ann Arbor-Detroit route."
(John Gallagher/Detroit Free Press)

To see the entire article, click here

All this light rail talk is extremely exciting, but is it just me or doesn't any light rail need to extend much farther than just to new center? I thought the whole idea was that the line was going to extend to out to 8 mile, although maybe that was the other non private DTOGS plan. Personally I think they should have some sort of light rail extending all the way to Birmingham at least. Hopefully, however light rail is built along Woodward, it will have a structure that allows for expansion.

On another note, what of that non private DTOGS light rail plan? I'm getting a little concerned that these two plans are going to end up butting heads and the whole dream of light rail is going to fizzle before our eyes. I know that each plan has significant differences including where the stops will be on Woodward and, from what I can tell, how far down Woodward the rail will be extended. We're starting to really see some progress here. The two plans should start to work together immediately to avoid a much larger mess down the road.

I realize Detroit has not had real mass transit since 1956, but the newest incarnation of light rail in Detroit seems to be moving along quite quickly. More details emerge monthly and I can't help but get excited about it. Maybe this national economy and state recession really has gotten people to change their attitudes and inspired them to move forward with the type of 21st century reform that this state needs. We shall see, but at least with regards to light rail, I like how things are progressing.

9/2/08 Update

Crain's has recently reported a clearer picture on some of the names that are behind the alleged privately supported light rail system in the works for Detroit. Some of the names we were already aware of including Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert, but other big names have emerged such as Mike Illitch, Peter Karmanos Jr., and the Kresge Foundation with backing from Governor Jennifer Granholm.

It will be interesting to see what happens between the publicly funded plan being studied by
the Detroit Transit Options for Growth, a proposal by the Detroit Department of Transportation, and this privately funded plan. After mass transit being almost non existent for the past 60 years (sorry SMART bus and DDOT), let's hope we don't end up with two competing light rail plans with stubborn supporters who refuse to compromise. Let's hope two plans are even better than one, and within the next 10 years light rail is a reality.

The Crain's article states,

"The slow unraveling of Detroit's worst-kept secret continued last week with the unveiling of three more key players in the closely guarded private-sector effort to construct a $103 million light-rail loop on Woodward Avenue.

Peter Karmanos Jr., founder of Detroit-based software maker Compuware Corp., and Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings and co-founder of Little Caesars Pizza, are among a cadre of influential backers that have committed undisclosed sums to construction of the 3.4-mile mass-transit project, a source familiar with the project told Crain's on the condition of anonymity.

A third backer, Troy-based Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson, recently stated his organization's interest in the project, called the Woodward Transit Catalyst Project, and the source confirmed that Rapson has been part of confidential meetings of the plan's financial and political backers.

They join Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert, who plans to move his company's headquarters from Livonia to Detroit in the next couple of years, and Penske Corp. founder Roger Penske as the known private figures involved in the project, a key element in economic revitalization efforts for the city and region.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is known to back the plan, and State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon have voiced support. Legislation eventually will be required to move the project forward, since Woodward is a state highway."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit)

5/29/08 Original Post

In a potentially huge development in the quest to secure mass transit for Detroit metro, Crain's Detroit reported the following...

"MACKINAC ISLAND - Sen. Majority Leader Mike Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon each said during a panel discussion Thursday they will back a plan by billionaires Dan Gilbert and Roger Penske to construct a privately funded $103 million light rail loop on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue.It was the first public acknowledgement of Gilbert and Penske’s involvement in the project, which was first reported on by Crain’s in February. Bishop said he would support the proposal “100 percent” and he and Dillon said they’ve met with Gilbert, owner of Livonia-based Quicken Loans/Rock Financial who is moving his 4,000-person business downtown, and Penske to discuss the plan."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit)

More to follow soon...hopefully.

Full Article Can Be Found At Legislators, Gilbert, Penske will back light rail on Woodward
Detroit Army

Monday, December 1, 2008


I think the name "Flytrap Diner" is supposed to be hip. Hip in in the way that says, "yea flies aren't really appealing to people while they're eating, but we're going to put the word in the name of our restaurant anyway and show people that our food speaks for itself." Whether owners, brother/sister duo Sean and Kara McClanaghan, and former Fiddleheads chef Gavin McMillian, admit it or not, that's what they're going for. Anyway, the name isn't that hip, but the food does speak for itself.

The three co-owners did much of the rehab work themselves at this self-proclaimed Ferndale "finer diner." The walls are splashed with color, the line is out the door on the weekends, and there's a mostly hipster clientele. While the diner is American themed, it also has hints of Asian and African, not to mention a brunch that far surpasses your neighborhood Coney. The "finer diner" moniker refers to the Flytrap Diner's tweaks on classic diner items. The menu includes A B.L.T. in the form of a B.L.A.T. which is a Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato. A burger is available, but for those who want to be healthier, a soy bean burger and an eclectic Salmon burger are available. If you want to stay on the red meat path, the salami and sausage based grinder looks tasty, along with the ribeye steak and fontina cheese sandwich. Filling the Asian theme includes a Vietnamese lemongrass pho bowl, vegetarian fried rice, and grilled chicken with chilled lo mein noodles in peanut sauce.

Flytrap really shines at breakfast. For one, Green eggs and ham are on the menu. The green in the green eggs is poblano pesto and on the side are slabs of seared ham (It's treyf, I know, but it's still really good). The huevos rancheros are piled high, you can get crab and eggs, and you can smother steak and eggs in homemade Flytrap Diner hot sauce which you can also purchase by the bottle. The omelets are well worth a try including a B.L.A.T.+C which is Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato, plus cheddar. Additional options include omelet versions of huevos rancheros and the grinder sandwich filled with Italian sausage, peppers, provolone, and spinach.

The restaurant gets high marks from me. Almost everything on the menu looks appetizing and the items I've tried were delicious. Apparently I'm not the only one who enjoys grabbing a bite here as the restaurant was featured on the Food Network by that idiot with the frosted hair, Guy Fieri, who also appears in commercials touting T.G.I Friday's as a restaurant that has good food. You can check out the Food Network's piece on Flytrap Diner here.

Photo's of the Flytrap Diner are below. The entire Flickr set can be found here.

Flytrap Diner
22950 Woodward Ave.
Ferndale, MI 48220
Flytrap Diner

Detroit Army