Patrick McNamara – Daily Detroit What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Sat, 20 Oct 2018 03:57:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Tricycle Collective Has One Day Left In Campaign To Help Detroiters Stay In Their Homes Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:44:48 +0000 The Tricycle Collective is striving to reach their goal of $20,000 to help 20 Detroit families purchase the homes that they live in, which are currently at risk to be sold in the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. With one day left, they need your support.

Michele Oberholtzer may be familiar to readers of Daily Detroit. We wrote about her new initiative last year called the Tricycle Collective, which works hard to help keep Detroit residents in their homes by notifying homeowners about the auction, and giving them the opportunity to bid.

Last year, they helped 10 families stay in their home. This year they need to raise $20,000 with the goal of helping 20 families stay in their homes.

Many of these homes are for sale in the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction because owners are behind on their taxes for more than three years. While circumstances vary, typically people most negatively affected are renters. Many times they are unaware that the house they are living in is up for auction. What’s more disturbing is that many of these renters might be able to actually afford the cost of their home, and so they are needlessly displaced.

Oberholtzer’s main goal is to provide information to people about the tax auction so that they can decide if they want to become home owners in the place where they currently live. The Tricycle Collective then goes even further to help some of those people (with a focus on families) purchase the house they live in.

In round one of the auction the houses usually sell for what is owed in back taxes. In round two, bidding starts at $500.00, which means there is a chance that many of the homes are very affordable.

When Michelle knocks on doors to inform the tenants that their house is up for auction, it’s often surprising news. The money that she raises helps turn that moment into an opportunity, which strengthens neighborhoods and empowers Detroit residents who want to stay in their homes.

You can learn more about the Tricycle Collective by clicking here, or hop on over to the fundraising page.

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Talking Food, People And Revitalization At Detroit’s Oldest Restaurant Sun, 20 Sep 2015 02:15:40 +0000 If you want to learn something about Detroit and have an authentic experience, you’ve got to go to some places with deep roots. A top qualifier on that list is the Roma Cafe, whose history goes back to 1890, and is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the city.

When you step in to the restaurant on a Friday, you can’t help but notice the old school vibe. Waiters in tuxedos walk by with steaming trays of food. Portraits of past owners decorate the rooms. The bar is busy with bustling crowd, many of whom appear to be regulars. Couples on a Friday night date are drinking red wine, and in general, there’s a celebratory ambience. Inside each of the three dining rooms you can’t help but wonder what you’d hear “if the walls could talk.”

If you talk to the owner, Janet Sossi, whose family has run the place since 1936, she can tell you how the restaurant has ridden through some ups and downs. When she was growing up, it was a fine dining establishment.

“The tuxedos are a remnant of that era,” said Janet, gesturing to the attentive waitstaff dropping off cups of minestrone and Italian wedding soup, both family recipes that go back generations.

Italian Wedding and Minestrone Soups (both highly recommended).
Italian Wedding and Minestrone Soups.

Today, the restaurant is more casual and laid back. Reflecting today’s tastes, you can now also find some vegetarian, vegan, and even gluten-free options that new chef Guy Pelino has created for people with diet preferences.

The focus of the business, and what’s kept it open all these years, is consistently making great food and providing a great experience for the customers. Like a lot of true Detroit establishments, there aren’t any gimmicks.

Italian Sausage With Peppers
Italian Sausage with Peppers

Roma’s location in the busy Eastern Market has helped that cause.

“Local and fresh ingredients are just right across the street,” said Sossi, who personally makes sure that the restaurant picks up fresh fish every single day.

Growing food, learning how to cook, and eating with people were a huge part of Janet’s childhood. Her family “was all about the food,” said Janet, reminiscing on the courses her aunts would make at a typical get together.

But the story began far before Janet’s time with her great uncle, Morris Sossi, who lived in Torino and worked at Fiat in 1900s. Working in the auto industry, he occasionally had to take months long business trips to Detroit (crossing the ocean on a ship takes quite a bit longer than the convenience of an airplane), and Sossi missed the food back home. So he bought a hot plate and began making pasta in his hotel room.

House Salad
The House Salad

To help him cope, a colleague tipped him off that there was an Italian boardinghouse in Eastern Market where Italian farmers stayed, which is where Roma Cafe originated. Morris ate there every day on his trips and eventually bought the restaurant. Soon after, Janet’s grandfather, Eugenio Sossi came into the business. Her father was named after Eugenio’s best friend and sous chef who had a last name you might know if you say it out loud – Hector Boyardi.

Hector, (Ettoré in Italian) opened up his own restaurant in Cleveland and had this crazy idea to put spaghetti in a can. Apparently, Janet’s grandfather Eugenio opted to not invest in the idea, and the rest was history. Chef Boy-ar-dee (with the name spelled phonetically on the can) became a huge hit as a low cost, quick way for middle-class Americans to feed the family.

Homemade Paglia & Fieno
Homemade Paglia & Fieno

Despite the historic connection, there are no similarities between the mass produced canned spaghetti on the supermarket shelf and what you’ll find at Roma Cafe.

Roma’s menu isn’t a crazy take on Italian, and it’s traditional in the sense that it focuses on great food made with simple ingredients. The shrimp scampi with spinach was a great example of this approach. The shrimp were tender, lightly battered, and carefully seasoned. The spinach was simple, straightforward and seemed to melt in your mouth.

Shrimp Scampi and Spinach
Shrimp Scampi and Spinach

The love of food isn’t what keeps Janet in the business. It’s the people. As I worked through a hefty serving of chicken and eggplant Parmesan with their classic red sauce, I was amazed at the network of people that existed. Janet treats her customers as friends, and caught up with numerous people throughout the night.

Eggplant parmesan
Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan

“Running a restaurant isn’t really any fun if you don’t get to know your customers, for me, that’s the best part,” said Janet.

As I finished my Tiramisu – a must order here – I pondered the food landscape of Detroit, where new restaurants are clamoring for that authentic factor.

Here you won’t find a chalkboard written with swirly decrees about Detroit rising from the ashes or other nods to the “revitalization.” Absence of kitschy décor is a sure sign you’ve found an authentic Detroit place. The newer, flashier places stand on the shoulders of places like Roma Cafe.


Janet pointed out that this is not the first time Detroit has talked about a revitalization, and she’s more optimistic about this time.

“This time is different, there’s a new energy in the city,” said Sossi.

Though changes are abound in Detroit, she says Roma Cafe’s plans are to keep rolling with the tide, and remain a notable dining destination for well into the foreseeable future.

Roma Cafe is located at 3401 Riopelle Street in Detroit.

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A Coney Opens In Brooklyn Sat, 12 Sep 2015 22:05:36 +0000 The Sussman Brothers, Eli and Max, have opened a coney in Brooklyn called Ed & Bev’s Detroit Style Coney Island. Couple thoughts hit me right away. Detroit is so dang hip, restaurants with Detroit style food are now seeding around the country. 

I got wind of a place last week called Via 313, a joint in Austin serving up Detroit style pizza. And no doubt there are others. Perhaps its not that Detroit will be the city that people from other cities flock to, but rather the city that people from here take with them other places. It’s Detroitification, it’s nuts.

It is with insane pleasure that Max Jeff and I take this opportunity to share with you a very special moment for our family on what we know is a very serious day in NYC. We want to let all you Detroiters and New Yorkers know that yesterday we launched “Ed and Bev’s Detroit Style Coney Island” inside Bergn directly next to Samesa shawarma shop. Ed an Bev’s is based on our love for the Detroit “coney island” which is a greek style diner specializing in coney dogs (hot dog with chili, white onions and mustard), greek salad, saganaki (flaming cheese) and other Detroit delicacies. We are using organic, grassfed, hormone and antibiotic free meat products. Our cheese sauce, dressings and pita are made in house. We’re getting spinach pie from Astoria and bringing in cool things from Detroit. We’ll be serving Vernors, McClures, Better Made Potato Chips and a bunch of other rotating small batch detroit products. If you know a great detroit product we should carry let us know! We just opened yesterday so we’re still tweaking but expect a Sanders Ice Cream dessert, a CPF, perhaps a Faygo flavor here and there and maybe even some Mackinac Island fudge down the line?? Why call it Ed and Bev’s? The restaurant is named after our incredible Papa Edward and our endlessly loving and caring Nana Beverly. They loved incredibly together and today is our Nana’s birthday. So we were able to call her on her birthday and share with her the news that we just opened up our second restaurant and named it after them. #Bergn #edandbevs #coneyisland #detroit #coneydog #diner #brooklyn #crownheights #thesussmans #bk #detroit @edandbevs

A photo posted by Max and eli (@thesussmans) on

Another thing, Brooklyn is literally obsessed with Detroit. As we all know, there is a myth that Detroit and Brooklyn share a common kinship. This artisanal coney island is going to be huge. This is peak artisanal. Art coneys. The coney sauce is chili made with brisket. 

 Couple more thoughts hit me real quick just now. I should disclose that actually know Eli Sussman, he was an old college acquaintance. Next thing – Last year in New York, I went to a place he worked at called Mile End, which specialized in Montreal style smoked meats, and it was fantastic.

They are opening up the coney in a hip beer garden in Brooklyn called Berg’n, right next to another one of their detroit inspired shops called Samesa, a middle-eastern joint shawarma shop. Besides coneys you can get all sorts of Detroity Treats, including Saganaki and Faygo.

I’m sure Ed & Bev’s is great too. I sort of wish there was an Art Coney here in Detroit, because well, we invented Coneys. 

Actually, I take that back. Nobody would buy a $7.50 coney dog. Nobody here, in coney land, would pay that much for a hip, organic, gastropub experimental coney dog. This is Detroit, where loyalty and cheap prices reign supreme. Coneys here aren’t broken, and they don’t need to be fixed. When I venture to New York next, where this kind of thing is normal, I will buy one and write home about it.

A photo posted by Max and eli (@thesussmans) on

Recently the Sussman Brothers came back to the Detroit Area to tour all their favorite old food haunts and give New Yorkers the inside lane on where their favorite places eat in Detroit are. 

A tip for the Sussman Brothers on their next visit – the most artful coneys in the Detroit region are at Red Hot’s Coney Island in Highland Park. This is no squeeze-bag chili dog, and it runs a third, lesser known narrative to the American-Lafayette duel that dominates the downtown coney options. Travel to the coney less talked about. There is more to learn on your coney sauced path.

Now I admit, though slightly unorthodox, the coneys at Ed & Bev’s look pretty good. And we wish them the best, lest Brooklynites not forget the coney-laden motherland of Detroit, whose food is now infecting the world.

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Neighbors Turn Neglected Sinkhole Into A Fish Pond In Detroit Mon, 24 Aug 2015 23:42:56 +0000 A gaping hole in the street near McNichols and Hull, just off of I-75 has been turned into a fish pond by the neighborhood.

The large concrete cutout has been filled with algae and water for the last four years according to Uncle Zeke and Auntie Na (that is short for Sonia Renia Brown) who live on the street.

They decided to take action and raise awareness about the problem, which they have more or less accepted as part of the landscape.

“You can imagine it’s caused some problems for some people when they’ve driven through,” said Zeke gesturing toward the gigantic hole.

The hole was either a project started by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) that wasn’t finished by some other department of the city, or the other way around. It’s not really clear.


What is clear is that now there are fish in there and it’s been far too long to wait for a repair.


Uncle Zeke cleared the algae in the roughly 6′ x 30′ hole and took the neighborhood kids fishing. The kids then stocked the pond with some of the small fish that they caught. There are a few blue gills, a koi or two, and a sucker fish.

Auntie Na pointed out that the pond isn’t actually stagnant, but is refreshed by the water flowing through the pond from the broken water main. This flow of water makes the habitat suitable for the fish.


The pond has hosted the fish for a couple months now. and serves two purposes. It raises awareness about the original problem of the hole, and the access to the water problem that some of the city’s residents are facing.

“If the water isn’t free for the people, it can be free for the fish,” said Auntie Na about the pond.


It’s also a fun thing for the kids to do and learn about, and they like to point out the fish that they caught. Uncle Zeke plans to clean up the vacant lots on Hull street, and says that the fish pond is an initial step in improving the sparsely populated block.

Officials with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department say they have no record of work being done and no record of calls to have it addressed.

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Meet The Man Behind The Million Dollar Detroit Baseball Card Mystery Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:09:35 +0000 Headlines about Detroit, especially when they happen at the intersection of abandonment and large sums of money, get a lot of attention. But what is the real story behind those stacks and stacks of baseball cards, and who owned them?

There had to be more behind the vague headline that appeared in the UK’s Daily Mail on August 20 which read, “Urban explorers find $1MILLION-worth of collectible sports cards inside an abandoned factory in Detroit?

Although Detroit Tigers cards from the 90s were mentioned, an awry detail in the story was that in a close up picture of the cards scattered on the ground, there are quite a bit of OHL cards (that stands for Ontario Hockey League). This ran contrary to the claim by the Daily Mail that the supposed payload was made up of U.S. sports teams.

It also seemed like the Fisher Body Plant couldn’t be the location, it has been deserted for over 20 years and is badly dilapidated compared to the space seen in the photos.

It did appear however, that there was certainly a large card collection that had been sitting in a plant somewhere in Detroit. And we couldn’t shake trying to find out what the story was behind this mysterious find.

As a note, we reached out to the author of the Daily Mail article and he did not respond for comment.

Hub Hemmen, Wheeler And Dealer

I called Kruk Cards in Rochester to see if I could get an expert opinion on who the cards might have belonged to. The owner, George Kruk, who is a local card and memorabilia mogul, identified the collection as one that used to belong to Hub Hemmen.

“He was well known at the shows and on the local show circuit. It was widely known that Hub had a large quantity of OHL hockey cards. Recently I was offered a bunch of OHL but it really doesn’t sell,” said Kruk.

Hub (short for Hubert) Hemmen had passed away 2013. Hub ran a business called Hub’s Tool and Machine on 9 mile, in Warren Michigan. In the Eighties, Hub’s tool and die business suffered the fate of many others in the region, and the business failed.

Hub's Shop on 9 Mile in Warren
Hub’s Shop on 9 Mile in Warren

According to Hub’s son Greg, he was a wheeler-dealer type, and he knew that as the business began to fail Hub had gotten really into sports cards. The tool and die business had faded away but the space was used to store a large amount of cards.

“Hub [was] the type who was always trying to make a buck,” said Greg Hemmen.

However, Hub had become estranged from some of his family members, including Greg. He wasn’t quite sure who would know more about this particular group of cards.

A visit to his old east side shop led us to a conversation with Reginald, Operations Manager at Major Automotive, LLC, next door to Hub Tool and Machine. He said that after Hub passed away in 2013, Hub’s family inherited the shop and sold it.

“His shop was filled to the top with cards. I remember when they were cleaning it out. It took weeks to get all the cards out,” said Reginald.

We also learned that Hub started a residential development in Chesterfield Township, a suburb of Detroit in Macomb County, where he named a street after himself called Hub’s Lane.

A Lot Of Cards, But Not Worth A Million Dollars

The card collection, though kind of an oddity, was highly unlikely to be worth $1 million according George Kruk. He pointed out that the cards could have been dumped in order to collect an insurance policy, because they weren’t really worth much.

Kruk could identify the cards by sight from the pictures because Hub had tried to sell him the OHL collection a few times, but that he had never bought them.

A Link To The Stash

On Friday, we became aware of a man named John Hemmen, who spoke to WWJ Newsradio 950 about the card collection.

John Hemmen, cousin of Greg and nephew of Hub, used to work with Hub at the machine shop, and he remembers stowing the cards in the 90s. John had moved to Florida to find work when he saw the writing on the wall for the Tool and Die business.

In the 90s John had come back to Michigan for a two-week visit, as he did nearly every year, and his uncle Hub asked him if he could help him move some stuff out of one of his warehouses to a new location. Though on vacation, John agreed to help Hub, who had been like a father figure, and taught him the Tool and Die trade.

“He felt kind of bad, so Hub gave my wife some money to go shopping, and I spent 3-4 days hauling the cards from the warehouse to the plant,” said John Hemmen.

John Hemmen also pointed out that this wasn’t really a collection per se, but a “Case lots of cards that were purchased as an investment, to be sold later.”

The Old Cadillac Stamping Plant at 9501 Conner

Mr. Doverspike

Ivan Doverspike, who was also in the tool and die business, was allowing Hub to store the cards at his facility (the former Cadillac Stamping Plant), on the East Side of Detroit where he rehabbed screw machines.

“Mr. Doverspike also had a couple of old cars stored in the same area [of the plant], I think one of them he drove on the day he got married,” said John.

John says that the reason the cards were left there wasn’t to collect insurance, but that they were forgotten. Hub suffered from dementia later in life, and he probably wasn’t able to keep track of all of his assets.

He wishes somebody in the family would have been notified about the collection before the Doverspike Company vacated the building in 2013, because it would have been a nice for the family to decide what to do with them, even though the value is far less than the original claim.

“The cards definitely are not worth a million dollars, but they are worth something … Hell, they are probably worth at least 10 to 20 thousand in paper scrap,” said John Hemmen.

The Cadillac Stamping plant where the cards are located was bought by Bill Hults, who had a failed bid to buy the iconic Packard Plant but instead went for this hulk, roughly located at Conner and Harper by City Airport.

Although we know more about these particular cards, that doesn’t mean there’s not a true treasure load of Hub’s cards out there somewhere on the East Side.

“These were mostly Canadian hockey, some NASCAR stuff. The Al Kalines and Mickey Mantles were kept somewhere else … He had stuff all over the place,” said John Hemmen.

So maybe the mystery still isn’t over. Detroit may still hold another card, if you will, up its sleeve.

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Twists And Turns Emerge In The Tale Of The Tiger In The Packard Plant Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:44:42 +0000 It turns out there are two significantly different sides to this tiger tale. In an interesting post, Anthony Barchock, the fixer on the shoot and the person shown in the now nationally famous video, has another perspective that was published on

“First and foremost the Tiger is OK, unharmed and was never loose. There was always a trainer on the lead even in the videos where it doesn’t seem like it. The power tools were used as a foreign noise to hopefully coax the tired and hot animal down the stairs.”

The detail that there was a lead on the tiger the entire time is interesting and contradictory to what police told Fox 2 Detroit. That detail, if known when the video was put out, would of made it a lot less viral.

In case you did not know, Bachock is a “fixer” is a local who arranges locations, meetings, provisions, for people doing projects who are from out of town. He was contacted by Yarrow, to be his fixer for his Detroit shoot via an article on

“…From the get go is was not smooth or easy. I tried talking him into flying in beforehand so we could sit down and/or scout locations but that was pushed aside. I was giving him locations, sending photos, maps, ideas, etc. He did listen to suggestions and was open to ideas and only committed to two locations for certain but still had no schedule or shoot list.”

He goes on to say that he explained to the trainers and photographer in an email that the weather in mid-August could be hot and humid in an email before he arrived.

“But there was no concern or even a reply to that email. I even brought it up again in the pre shoot dinner but again no concern showed by the training team that the tiger could handle the weather and trek up the stairs. Well this was not the case and why he was laying down in the landing of the stair case. He was tired and frustrated.”

They needed to motivate the tiger out of the staircase, which is what led to the weed whip getting involved. The Yarrow camp at first wanted Barchock to find a leaf blower to do the trick.

“…I’m in the middle of three and a half million square feet of concrete and ruins, where am I going to get that? So I texted Kari, who I have lost as a friend and contact now, who I assumed knew of the events taking place. Well she did not, David’s assistant did not tell the Packard of the animal(s) onsite. His assistant’s excuse, “they didn’t ask”. Kari talked with them and agreed to let them finish then go. The tiger is still stuck and the ‘gang’ David hired as extras was getting restless.

I called my friend Andy, the gent who took the videos, and he brought over the only thing he had a weed whacker with a couple attachments. Per the trainers instructions (who was just to my left on the down stairs) we tried to ‘spook’ the tiger so he would move. The weed wacker had no string and we got nowhere near the animal with the trimmer.”

Barchock wanted to make clear in his statement that he is an animal enthusiast, and did not necessarily agree with the situation he had to deal with.

“The worse part of it is me on film looking like I am attacking a tiger with yard implements and the reports that are half-truths or no truth at all; and for some one that works with rescue animal groups it is horrifying.”

David Yarrow also allegedly stiffed him for his work.

“Even after multiple attempts while in town he made no effort to arrange a contract, payment or other means to compensate me, kept putting off physical meetings as well as his assistant who followed the same tactic.”

There’s additional commentary with some wise words about how to handle Detroit from Matt LeVere.

“I guess the art scene would be new to anyone that doesn’t live here and all they hear about Detroit is abandoned buildings, our sports teams, and Kid Rock or Eminem. What local Detroiter’s don’t like is when people make us the punch line for a cheap joke. Our background is very blue collar and Detroiter’s have a lot of loyalty and pride. Outsiders need to understand there still are people who live in the city and work relentlessly to make their rent and make a living. In the end Detroit can be a welcoming city for anyone to come visit and realize it’s historical significance and the beauty it offers.

When you come visit any city, connect with locals to make your life easier and trust their knowledge and abilities to ensure everyone’s safety. It will make you look amazing and professional to your clients!”

Head on over to to read the full post with more commentary about how to deal with Detroit. It definitely sheds a different light on the situation.

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ABSURD: Tiger Escapes During Photo Shoot In Packard Plant Mon, 17 Aug 2015 20:39:56 +0000 Move aside, Paws, it looks like there’s a new tiger in town.

After a series of photos and videos surfaced on social media earlier today, sources with the Packard plant have confirmed that British photographer David Yarrow had brought a large tiger, two wolves, and a bobcat into the plant earlier today.

According to the about page on Yarrow’s website, “David has built an unrivalled reputation for capturing the beauty of the planet’s remote landscapes and endangered animals.”

I think this time the “Nikon ambassador” took it a bit too far. Detroit isn’t remote like South Sudan is, where Yarrow took a picture of Dinka cattle herders that sold for $60,000 per print.


A video posted by Andy Didorosi (@thatdetroitandy) on

In a terrifying turn of events, the tiger apparently escaped the photo shoot and was running loose in the plant, Detroit Police confirmed to Fox 2. To make matters worse, the crew allegedly did not acquire a permit to bring a tiger into the building, though the Yarrow camp has disputed this.

Police were notified and called to the situation after several Instagram photos of the animal in the rubble of defunct facility were posted.

#tigerwatch15 A video posted by Andy Didorosi (@thatdetroitandy) on

After the security team notified plant management that the animals had been spotted, and were reported as loose, the shoot was quickly shut down and the animals were captured and returned to their cages. Andy Didorosi, a Detroiter who runs The Detroit Bus Company, posted a few shaky videos to his Instagram account, one of which clearly shows the tiger on a stairwell in the plant.

According to the Free Press, Andy got a phone call from a friend that he needed help getting a tiger out of a staircase, so he sprang into action bringing his weed whacker to motivate the tiger out of the staircase.

Tiger in the staircase of the Packard Plant. Photo Courtesy of Andy Didorosi, used with permission
Tiger in the staircase of the Packard Plant. Photo Courtesy of Andy Didorosi, used with permission

The plant was secured by 12:00pm and there is no further threat of dangerous wildlife.

Needless to say, the crew would not be receiving a refund for the shoot. Watch the full video here:

[fbvideo link=”” width=”640″ height=”320″ onlyvideo=”1″]

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WATCH: What Do People In Chicago Really Think About Detroit? Sun, 16 Aug 2015 19:39:27 +0000 On a recent trip to the windy city, we decided to hit the streets and ask a simple question to anyone who would talk to us – and we found lots of people would.

What do you think about Detroit?

There’s always this talk about positive buzz about Detroit in other cities, and we wanted to find out if this was truly the case.

In this Daily Detroit original video, which should be taken more as fun than as science, we hit a few neighborhoods by L-Train and city bus from our downtown crash pad such as Wicker Park, to over by a former Schlitz Brewery on Belmont, and a few other places for the weekend, and the results were as varied as the people. All in all, as always, Chicago was a fun visit.

But we gotta say to the last guy in the video? He definitely has it all wrong.

An additional shout-out is in order to the kind and interesting folks of Gaper’s Block for their hospitality and the usefulness of their site. If you want to hop off a Megabus in Chicago and basically plan a weekend on the fly, the site is invaluable. You’ll also learn a thing or two about Chicago culture while you’re at it.

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Charivari Captures The Heart And Soul Of Detroit Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:40:14 +0000 Sometimes in Detroit you’ll just end up at the answer. There will be good music and the weather will be perfect, and you can see into the future of what Detroit can be. At least, it will feel that way, and that’s what it felt like at Detroit’s Charivari festival on Belle Isle at the beginning of August.

Charivari is a smaller festival that has big things going for it. First of all, it’s free. That means all types of people can afford to go to it and that’s cool.

Secondly, it’s focused on local. Local DJ’s spinning Detroit inspired music and local vendors make it something to take pride in. It’s not commercialized, it’s grassroots, and in fact it’s been around for a long time. You can tell that the people behind it put a lot of hard work into getting it right, and that’s worth celebrating in itself.

Those people include Todd Johnson, Eddie Fowlkes, Chaunceia Dunbar and Charivari co-organizers Steve Dunbar and Theresa Hill, Delano Smith. They’ve been doing parties in Detroit way before techno was cool to the masses. You can feel the difference with Charivari, it’s not some idea helicoptered in from some other big city.

It used to be that the original Detroit Electronic Music Festival held the spot Charivari is moving into. It was for Detroiters, it was by Detroiters, it was original and authentic. It had a rawness to it that goes away when you haul in giant video screens.

I wouldn’t say that there’s anything wrong with what the modern Movement has become, but the scene there has changed.  The explosion of popularity among electronic music in the last 10 years has pushed electronic artists into the mainstream, into the genre now known as EDM. Electronic music has always been more global, but as Movement has reached to get bigger and and better it has had to book big acts to keep it relevant and make more money. Both factors have driven the costs of tickets up. The old DEMF always brought suburbanites and city folk together but the crowd at Movement is now much more cosmopolitan, national, even global. I think I saw a Romanian flag waving at the festival last year.

Charivari’s location on Belle Isle is also a breath of fresh air, and in a way turns the clock back to the roots of the Detroit party sound. The riverside breeze, abundance of grassy areas, and park-like atmosphere makes the space enjoyable. The music plays in tents, not gaudy and ridiculous stages. The DJ’s are people just like everybody else, they aren’t exalted high above the crowds. The music speaks for itself. There’s no line to get in. You don’t have to compete for a space to sit down among exhausted ravers chain smoking cigarettes. You can sort of just… be.

Perhaps Charivari won’t always remain free, but hopefully it will continue to remain pure, or at least until I hang up my party shoes. It’s a must-do for your calendar next year, and a wonderful example what Detroit really has to offer. If you want to know what this city is really about, go to Charivari and feel it.

Editor’s Note: We now have the details on the 2016 festival. Get them here.

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FIRST LOOK: Bobcat Bonnie’s Is Real Good In The Neighborhood Mon, 10 Aug 2015 19:24:13 +0000 Bobcat Bonnie’s is one of the latest additions to Detroit’s expanding dining scene. Located in the old site of Oblivion’s Corktown Cafe, Bonnie’s has a great corner location, a spacious atmosphere, a nice bar set up, and just a touch of hip décor for the kids.

There is some mellow indie-rock playing in the background but you don’t need skinny jeans and a sidebuzz to eat here. It’s a place for everybody, the food is real and good. It’s also decently priced, catering more toward families and the general population.

Interior of Bobcat Bonnies'

We’ve been joking about how every new place we go lately is organic, hyper-locally sourced, made-from-scratch, fair-trade, yada yada. As if the right combination of buzzwords automatically makes a place good. Those things are great, don’t get me wrong, but what makes a place have good food is… the food. One test is better than a million buzzwords. We went with the recommendations from our waitress.

Captain Crunch Chicken Fingers

The first dish was a shareable – the Captain Crunch Chicken Fingers. They are breaded in cereal batter and deep fried. Crunchy, sweet and addictive, they remind me a little bit of Chik Fil-A in the best way. The honey mustard sauce brings them full circle.

Fried Bologna and Potato Salad

Then came the Fried Bologna, which was simple, solid, and good. It was comfort food done right. Two pieces of high quality bologna, yellow mustard and american on a pressed kaiser roll. The dill potato salad with a touch of mayo paired nicely.

Bobcat Burger

The Bobcat Burger is like a Rodeo Burger from Burger King on steroids, but even better and made with higher quality ingredients. Cheddar, bacon and a big fat semolina battered onion ring is plopped right on there and drizzled with barbecue sauce.

Arugula Salad

I had it my way with a side of arugula salad topped with goat cheese and balsamic fig dressing.

It’s also a good place to get a slice of Sister Pie without having to go to the east side and the buns are fresh and Detroit-made from Brown’s Bun Bakery.

Bonnie’s is refreshingly normal and welcoming, the menu is creative without being pretentious, and the pricing is in the right zone. It has all the fixings to be a great neighborhood spot where everybody knows your name, and you can still pronounce the items the menu without feeling like a poser.

You can find Bobcat Bonnie’s at 1800 Michigan Ave in Detroit, it’s on Michigan Avenue between Rosa Parks and Trumbull.

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The Bonnie: Bulleit Bourbon, Old Smokey Moonshine, Blackberry simple syrup, Lemon juice
The Bonnie: Bulleit Bourbon, Old Smokey Moonshine, Blackberry simple syrup, Lemon juice
Decor of Bobcat Bonnies
Décor Detail
Community seating area
Community seating area
Bonnie’s Front Signage
Bobcat Bonnie's Menu
Bonnie’s Menu As Of Aug 10, 2015.
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