Jer Staes – Daily Detroit What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Wed, 20 Jun 2018 16:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ron Gurdjian, Owner Of The Legendary Tom’s Tavern, Has Passed Away Tue, 19 Jun 2018 20:00:46 +0000

A Detroit legend has died.

Ron Gurdjian, the man who was everything to Tom’s Tavern and beloved to legions of Detroiters near and far, passed away on Sunday night. He was 78.

The bar, located on 7 Mile just west of Wyoming, literally embodies the term “hole in the wall,” and it had plenty of holes in its walls. Not to mention, it’s slanted floors and rickety bar.

Not only was Ron a legend, he kept legendary company.

When televisions were stolen or when someone looking to take some booze creatively removed a wall with their truck, the likes of Bill Bonds and Mike Ilitch chipped in to keep the place running.

Ron, a native of Highland Park, didn’t start Tom’s Tavern, but he became synonymous with it. The story goes that it started in the late 1920s during prohibition. Kept up in a time when permitting was, to say the least, a bit lax in the city of Detroit, the shack became the one of the few businesses still standing on the strip.

I’m not sure Ron ran a bar. I think he ran a piece of his soul that came out through laughter, rants, slaps on the back, and smiles. The jukebox always had the right song, even though the songs hadn’t been changed out in years.

His burgers or corned beef sandwiches would set you straight after a long night of drinking, and something weirdly magical always seemed to happen there.

For more — including my own Ron story, dealing with an impending tour bus — listen in the player above.

This story first appeared in the Daily Detroit News Byte podcast.

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Keith Crain’s Editorial On Bike Lanes In Detroit Is Out Of Touch And Reeks Of Privilege. Here’s Why. Sun, 17 Jun 2018 17:14:37 +0000 If you want to be a city of tomorrow, you need to have the building blocks for it. And tomorrow — even today, as Ford and General Motors have acknowledged with their recent investments in mobility — involves many different kinds of transportation options.

Keith Crain’s editorial on June 17, “Say goodbye to the Motor City” was emblematic of old Detroit thinking. Detroit thinking from the world of 1950, not 2018.

Lots of Detroit’s leaders talk about bringing back the city’s glory days. To me, the “we’ve always been the Motor City” trope feels similar.

Here’s a newsflash: To lots of Detroit residents, especially those of African American descent, Detroit’s glory days in the 1950s weren’t such a great time. We white folks don’t like to talk about it, especially in business circles, but it’s a real thing.

Black and brown folks were extremely limited as to how they could participate in Detroit’s community and commerce back then, and when you focus on the glory of Detroit’s past, that was a glory that didn’t include what is now the city’s supermajority population.

It was great in old Detroit if you had money and you were white. If you were a person of color, you could only live in certain parts of town, the jobs available to you were greatly reduced, not to mention the rampant segregation of the era mostly shut you out of Detroit’s success. 

And don’t even get me started on how car-centric development in later years decimated neighborhoods in Detroit and emptied out the city.

Personally, I think I live in a city that wants to look forward while taking the best parts of the past, be inclusive, and celebrate all different kinds of people and preferences.

Why do I bring this up? Keith’s response reeks of privilege. He doesn’t need to think about any other transportation options.

But many of my fellow residents do. About a quarter of households in the city of Detroit do not own a car – putting it in the top 10 for cities with more than 100,000 people. Michigan is also a state that’s seeing a decline in households that own a car. Don’t they deserve safe travel, too? 

A bike is a real thing people use to get to around. I know. I live over by Livernois and Six Mile. I see it every day. I see the bikes on the front of DDOT buses. When I come downtown, I see MoGo bike share bikes being used by all kinds of people as an alternative to hopping in your car for a mile-long trip.

And as to a “powerful lobby” he refers to? The Detroit Greenways Coalition is basically one guy, Todd Scott, supported by a lot of grassroots folks.

It says something about the fragility of the halls of power at the Detroit Athletic Club if one guy and a like-minded movement of passionate urbanists can rattle their cigar lockers and make someone wonder why THE Keith Crain wasn’t included with an embossed invitation.

Crain says there must be some master plan we haven’t seen. But there have been a lot of public presentations and meetings on the topic.

We at Daily Detroit covered some of those meetings. We’ve devoted our small resources multiple times to these events. You chose not to go, not to see it.

I remember that bike lanes were also talked about in the Detroit Future City planning process, I want to say in 2011 or 2012.

The bike lane projects haven’t been perfect in their rollout, but if we’re honest with ourselves, almost no infrastructure project is.

Speaking of  “I am not sure whose idea it was,” If you had been paying attention to this topic — even to the excellent reporters at your own publication — you’d know that another champion for bike lanes has been Detroit Mayor Duggan’s own planning guru Maurice Cox.

Cox brings a global, urban perspective to a city and a leadership community that’s not used to embracing outside ideas, even if they’ve been proven time and time again. He’s been a mayor himself. He’s worked in Italy and around the United States. I could go on an on, but he’s basically a true Detroit renaissance man.

He has seen that the rest of world that’s attractive to young talent has basics like bike lanes. Bike lanes aren’t the answer, but they’re part of the solution along with functional mass transit and, yes, smartly designed roads.

This may be uncomfortable for Crain to think about as a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame, but for many people, the car is no longer the center of the conversation.

Even Bill Ford Jr. picked up on the fact that times changing and bought the old train station in Corktown, among other properties, to position his company for the future of mobility. And mobility means a variety of ways to get around, not just the traditional car. If that’s not enough to convince you, his Fontinalis Partners invests in all kinds of startups that aren’t just about four wheels.

Maybe it’s time you, Keith Crain, and the others that think like you in Detroit’s leadership set, picked up on that fact, too.

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QUICK TIP: Cool 3-D Light Show On The Grand Army Of The Republic Building During JR JR Concert Fri, 15 Jun 2018 17:44:27 +0000

If you’re going to the free JR JR concert in Beacon Park this Saturday, you’re in for a treat.

The creative folks at Mindfield have created a 3-D light show for the beautiful and historic Grand Army of the Republic building to play that evening. 

There’s also a night market with vendors and food around the park.

Beacon Park is located on the west side of downtown Detroit at Cass and Grand River.

The concert is free and festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m.

This story was originally part of the Daily Detroit News Byte podcast.

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WATCH: Sam Richardson Of Detroiters Appears On CONAN Fri, 08 Jun 2018 17:58:24 +0000 Sam Richardson is the co-star of the hit Comedy Central show “Detroiters,” following two hapless young ad executives and their hilarious life events in the Motor City.

The show returns June 21, so the media appearances are spinning back up for the show.

Last night, Richardson appeared on Conan O’Brien’s TBS show. Here are three clips from the appearance. My favorite? A Twitter tirade about birds. Rather meta.

And of course, Sam’s jumping toe-touch.

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Barley, BBQ & Beats Coming To Novi Showplace This Saturday, June 9 Tue, 05 Jun 2018 17:40:27 +0000

If you’re looking for a fun event that’s new to the area, you might want to check out Barley, BBQ and Beats coming this weekend to the Novi Showplace.

It brings whiskey, music and barbecue for a good cause, Hospice of Michigan.

Check out the interview with Marcie Hillary for more, but here’s the lineup via their event page:

Barley, BBQ & Beats is a showcase of great drinks, great food and great music from the state of Michigan. Proceeds will support Hospice of Michigan’s Open Access Fund, which provides end-of-life care to patients regardless of age, diagnosis or ability to pay.

Host: Evrod Cassimy

– Corey Dakota
– Drop 3rd Strike
– Space Cat

– AlJoom’s BBQ
– American House
– CAYA Smokehouse Grill
– Detroit BBQ Company
– Forte Belanger
– Lockhart’s BBQ – Royal Oak
– The Moveable Feast Catering
– Parks Old Style Bar-B-Que
– Red Rock Downtown BBQ
– Westside Barbecue
– Woodpile BBQ Shack

– American Fifth Spirits Tasting Room
– Ann Arbor Distilling Company
– Bier Distillery
– Detroit City Distillery
– Grand Traverse Distillery
– Gray Skies Distillery
– Journeyman Distillery
– Our/Detroit
– Red Cedar Spirits
– Two James Spirits

– CareLinc Home Medical Equipment and Supply
– Meijer

– ABG Michigan

– Learning to Give (The Meijer Foundation)

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LISTEN: This Week In Detroit City FC With Fletcher Sharpe – FC Columbus and FC Indiana Thu, 31 May 2018 15:16:38 +0000

This was a big week for Detroit City FC, with two shut out matches against FC Columbus and FC Indiana.

This week Midfield Press correspondent Fletcher Sharpe spoke with Jer about the action on the field and what to expect next week.

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Democratic Gubernatorial Hopeful Abdul El-Sayed: ‘I See A State That Is Quickly Failing People’ Thu, 31 May 2018 03:06:50 +0000

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed dropped by Daily Detroit on Wednesday at the Mackinac Policy Conference to talk about his decidedly underdog candidacy, his progressive policies, why he lost the endorsement of Mayor Mike Duggan and firmly establish his outsider credibility.

“A lot of politicians come here to rub shoulders with corporate lobbyists and try and get those corporations to back their campaigns. I just don’t take corporate money,” El-Sayed said.” My role here is very different. I see myself as an informant of sorts for folks who don’t get to come to islands like this for the things that I’ve been learning about the challenges in their lives.”

El-Sayed is famous — or in some circles, infamous — for being openly Muslim. He’s the son of Egyptian immigrants who grew up in the Detroit area, played lacrosse at the University of Michigan and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in England. He’s a doctor who most recently ran the Detroit Health Department following its shuttering in the city’s bankruptcy.

He says his travels around the state have shown him that Michigan residents are concerned mostly with the quality of their children’s schools, infrastructure and health care.

El-Sayed says the state has badly underinvested in things like schools over time. He says that’s one of the primary reasons Amazon left Detroit off its list of finalists for its HQ2 project.

“The state tried to offer Amazon $4 billion in incentives. It didn’t work,” he says. “And the reason that they didn’t come is because we had not invested that same money in the same things that they were looking for in the first place: great opportunities for people to raise families because they have great public schools, and great public transportation, and great infrastructure. We don’t have those things.”

Have a listen in the player above. And if you like the show, head over here to subscribe with your favorite podcast app of choice.

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Tata Technologies Moves Their North American HQ From Novi To Detroit Fri, 25 May 2018 17:45:42 +0000 The march into Detroit from the suburbs of businesses continues.

Tata Technologies, an engineering supplier in the automotive and aerospace industries announced Friday that it’s moving their North American headquarters from Novi to Detroit in early 2019.

The move brings 150 new workers into the city of Detroit.

The new headquarters will be at 6001 Cass Avenue in Detroit, as part of the Techtown neighborhood (yes, apparently, it’s being call its own neighborhood now by the city). That’s in/near Midtown and New Center.

The building, built in 1927, will get a complete rehabilitation. It started life as the Cadillac LaSalle Sales and Service Building.

The 130,000-square-foot building is another Albert Kahn-designed structure. It’ll also be home to a 6,000-square-foot gallery for Wayne State University’s art collection.

Behind this deal is The Platform. The development company is quickly garnering Gilbert-like influence of the New Center area. In Techtown, they’re building Cass & York, a 54-unit premier condominium development. They also own the Fisher Building and recently acquired the Lakeshore building at Woodward and Grand Boulevard.

So why the move from Novi to Detroit for Tata?

“North America is a very important market for Tata Technologies,” said Tata Technologies CEO Warren Harris. “Being part of Detroit’s business environment will enable access to automotive, mobility and tech companies, thereby accelerating our growth strategy and, in return, allowing us to reinvest in the city with new jobs. We are thankful to the Mayor, The Platform and the DEGC for their support in helping Tata Technologies locate its North American headquarters in Detroit.”

Tata Technologies was founded in 1989. According to press materials:

The company delivers customized solutions for engineering and design, product lifecycle management and enterprise IT system integration for the manufacturing sector. Tata Technologies is a company of engineers, led by engineers, with more than 8,500 associates representing 27 nationalities globally.

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LISTEN: Red Bull Radio’s Vivian Host Previews Movement Fri, 25 May 2018 13:17:52 +0000

The 2018 Movement Electronic Music Festival kicks off Saturday and runs through Memorial Day at Hart Plaza, and we spoke to Red Bull Radio DJ Vivian Host for a preview on the Daily Detroit News Byte podcast.

A veteran music journalist and DJ, Host, uh, hosts a daily show called Peak Time from noon-2 p.m. on Monday through Friday on Red Bull Radio. It’s “all over the map” musically, Host says, and is rounded out with news and interview segments with artists releasing new music.

Red Bull Music also hosts a stage at Movement from which it will be live-streaming all weekend as it hosts acts like Shigeto, DJ Godfather and Berlin’s Modeselektor.

“For me the most special thing has always been to see Detroit DJs and producers play for the city of Detroit,” Host says. “Like you might hear some of these DJs in Berlin or Amsterdam or New York and they might be tailoring their sets a bit for the crowds over there.

“But when you see someone like Carl Craig, or Kevin Sanderson, or Kenny Larkin, or any of these kind of legendary Detroit names play at Movement, in my experience, they’re playing the music of Detroit for the people of Detroit. That’s definitely a different style, it’s something specials and it’s something fun for me to witness as someone who’s not from here originally.”

This segment originally appeared on the Daily Detroit News Byte Podcast.

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Facebook, Grand Circus To Kick Off Second Round Of Training In Detroit and Grand Rapids Wed, 16 May 2018 17:30:41 +0000

Facebook is supporting a second round of bootcamps in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

The participants, through Grand Circus, will receive full scholarships valued at nearly $10,000. Participants will receive training in C# and dot NET in Grand Rapids, and Java in Detroit.

This second bootcamp is a part of Facebook’s plan to train 3,000 Michiganders in coding and social media business marketing over the next two years.

25 students were in the first bootcamp last fall. Graduates have since been placed at 15 companies throughout Michigan, according to Grand Circus.

Students are also taught skills beyond the code, including soft skill sessions, career 1-on-1s and mock interviews.

Applications are open through June 15th, and qualified students will be assessed on a first-come, first-served basis. The program starts in the middle of July and runs through September.

To qualify for program and scholarship, you need to be a Michigan resident, at least 18 years old, make $50 grand or less and unemployed or underemployed. If you sign up, you’re going to have be available the entire camp, which means during the day every day during classes.

To get in, they want you to have a college degree already or some completed coursework and three years of professional experience and some programming experience.


Here’s the full list, per their press release:

Key Dates:

  • May 8, 2018: Rolling applications opened
  • June 15, 2018: Rolling applications close
  • July 16, 2018: Facebook Bootcamp Begins
  • September 21, 2018: Facebook Bootcamp Concludes

Eligible Students Must:

  • Be a Michigan resident
  • Be at least 18 year’s old
  • Be available for the full length of the bootcamp
  • Have an individual annual income of $50k or less
  • Consider themselves unemployed or underemployed

Ideal students will have:

  • A college degree or some completed college coursework
  • At least three years of professional experience, preferably with some exposure to diverse team-based environments
  • Experience in a back-end programming language (self-taught, formal education or professional experience)
  • Examples to demonstrate resourcefulness and a tenacity to overcome obstacles
  • An openness to receiving and giving feedback
  • A growth mindset, a great attitude and eagerness to learn at lightning speed

For additional information on Grand Circus visit:

For additional information on the Facebook Bootcamp, or to apply, visit:

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