Friday, November 9, 2007

Lou Dobbs Interview

As host of CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Lou Dobbs delivers the news on a nightly basis. But lately Dobbs himself has been the one making the headlines over his staunch opposition to illegal immigrants.

His show, CNN’s second best rated, has created followers who have become known as ‘Lou Dobbs voters,’ meaning they’re middle class independents with concerns with issues like immigration, trade, and sovereignty.

In fact, the ‘Lou Dobbs voters’ are becoming major players in the political scene. In an October 22 article on titled, “ ‘Lou Dobbs voters’ will decide ‘08”, Christopher Gacek says, “CNN anchor Lou Dobbs may be the most important person in the 2008 presidential election aside from the candidates themselves.”

And that was even before his book was released.

His new book, Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit, which Dobbs will be signing November 28 at the DePaul Loop Center Barnes and Noble, covers the state of politics through the eyes of a self-proclaimed “independent populist.”

Dobbs says that he felt compelled to write the book because of the country’s path.

“Very simply, the country is heading in the wrong direction and a lot of people are suffering as a result of blind allegiance to partisanship and ideologies that have failed to produce answers over the last 30 years,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs concerned not only about the older generation, but to the youth today. He admits he doesn’t know what direction the college-aged generation is heading, and that he’s appalled at where his generation has taken the country.

“I’m frankly so concerned with my generation and it’s failure to deliver on the promises of the past 200 years in a time when our society for the past 20 years have simply been observing as individual rights and liberties have been constrained and equal opportunity both in education and economically have divided a large part of our society. That is going to be the challenge for your generation.”

In his book, Dobbs talks about the need for great leaders in America. He sees the 2008 election as one of the most important elections in history and the chance to change America’s course. However, he has been disappointed with the candidates, saying that “we’re still looking” for that great leader he talks about.

“There’s not a single clear choice of leader, whether Republican or Democrat, who has demonstrated great accomplishment in their lives, great capacity for leadership, and great character,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs says that there is more than just good candidates that are lacking, but the two political parties don’t offer the options that Americans need as well. In response, he has been encouraging people to register as independents for the last two years.

“Both parties are simply opposite wings of the same bird, and the American people are the ones getting the bird,” he said. “It’s critically important for young people to be independent thinkers, exercise independent critical judgment and stay away from the nonsense of partisanship, which is nothing more than a branding exercise and a fundraising organization.”

In fact Dobbs says that perhaps the two-party system has run it’s course and something new should be considered.

“Our political system is no longer one in which the consent of the governed is required or ‘we the people’ are leading the country toward its future,” Dobbs said. “The only way that’ll change is with a powerful third-party movement, simply to serve notice that they won’t be taken for granted or for the fools that they have been for the last 20 years by both of these parties.”

Dobbs has become defined by the issue of illegal immigration. In many senses, he has become a polarizing figure. On October 31, he called New York Governor Elliott Spitzer an ‘idiot’ for issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Although college students would probably say there are other issues more important than immigration, Dobbs says that illegal immigration and border security is important for all ages.

“The leadership of the Democratic party on Capitol Hill, and the Republican leadership in the executive branch are leading us through a global war on terror, but at the same time have not rationalized why they have left our borders unsecured and only 5 percent of incoming cargo inspected,” Dobbs said. “That’s an absurdity. Either it’s a phony war, or a war being fought by fools in the White House. Only time will judge which.”

Dobbs, like many, doesn’t like the current state of the country. He says that the youth’s bleak outlook at the future is justified, but when asked if he still has hope for the future, he gave a resounding answer.

“Hell yes, it’s America! Every one of us is fortunate to be in a country where we can seize our own destiny and create a future. But it’s not going to be handed to us, it’s going to require action, intelligent thought, reason, and coming together around our basic founding values, which are individual liberty and equality for all.”

But he says that if there is going to be change in America, the time to act is now.

“We can’t leave it to anyone else,” Dobbs said. “If another generation fails this nation as my generation has failed this nation, we are in serious trouble.”

Facebook Article

My friend Barack and I both like to listen to Bob Dylan. Waterskiing is not only my favorite water activity, but my buddy Mitt’s as well. Not only that, but my pal Rudy and I both love baseball.

Thanks to Facebook and MySpace, politicians can now reach the youth in whole new ways. With the success of these social networks, the candidates have turned to them for networking their own campaigns, and doing so in ways that appeal to the youth. For example, did you know John Edwards likes “The River” by Bruce Springsteen? I did, because I Facebooked him.

Facebook and MySpace make the candidates more real to students who are seemingly ignored by the campaigns. You can see that John McCain likes “Seinfeld,” making him that much more relatable, and one could argue, cooler. This is exactly what they’re hoping for. Even in the past two elections, internet campaigning hadn’t been fully embraced. Now candidates can post videos, messages, and list their favorite movies in order to get in touch with students - at little cost in time or money.

On Facebook, instead of the usual ‘friending’ of other members, the users are given to option to ‘support’ candidates of their liking. When you look at the numbers, it offers a surprising insight into college students. The top four of each party looks like this:


1. Obama – 144,650

2. Clinton – 41,967

3. Edwards – 18,962

4. Kucinich - 10,558


1. Paul 24,897

2. Romney – 17,667

3. Thompson – 14,845

4. McCain – 10,522

Compare those to a nationwide Gallup Poll.

Democrats – Sept. 13

1. Clinton - 45%

2. Obama - 24%

3. Edwards - 16%

4. Biden - 3%

Republicans – Sept. 12

1. Giuliani - 34%

2. Thompson - 22%

3. McCain - 15%

4. Romney - 10%

Notably, the top candidates on Facebook are not the top candidates for the national polls. In fact, the Republican’s leading Facebook candidate, Ron Paul, only has 1% in the Gallup Poll, while Gallup Republican leader Rudy Giuliani only has 2,643 supporters on Facebook. Why Giuliani is so popular with Gallup and not with Facebook, I’m not sure, but I’ll assume it’s because he says he’s a Yankees fan on his page.

It’s not surprising that Obama is leading, with the way the youth seem to view him, but the margin by which he’s winning is quite significant. Perhaps one explanation would be Facebook users tend to be liberal. DePaul’s network statistics look like this:

26% liberal or very liberal

11% are moderate

7% conservative or very conservative

5% other

1% libertarian

1% apathetic

46% no listed political affiliation

I was hoping to get a campaign to comment about the role of Facebook in the election, so I went to each candidate’s Facebook page and tried to email them. Obama and Thompson didn’t list an email address, Clinton’s and Edwards’ emails bounced back, and I didn’t hear back from the others. Makes you wonder how much they really care about being in touch with students.

Except for Ron Paul.

Jeff Frazee, National Youth Coordinate for the Paul campaign, responded. His position was created because of the “growing youth movement” for Paul, and in particular the way that the youth has responded to Paul online.

“We are using Facebook in a very large way to organize our Students for Ron Paul network. There is a national group that now has over 22,400 members and grows by about 1,000 per week. It has an extremely active forum and wall. It is the place to go for the latest news and information,” Frazee said. “From this group there is a link to ‘Join Your Students for Ron Paul Chapter.’ This page lists many of the Students for Ron Paul chapters we've started across the country. Students email me daily looking to start a chapter on their campus.”

Besides organizing, Facebook has become a fundraising tool for the Paul campaign. “Students organized mostly through the Facebook group to raise over $42,000 for the campaign. Since then, we have raised a few thousands more. And with the 3rd fundraising quarter ending at the end of this month,” Frazee said, “if we can hit our goal, this means students will have raised over $100,000 for this campaign since it first began. A feat no other candidate can match.”

What does it all mean? Maybe the youth vote means very little, considering the vast discrepancies between the two polls and how the candidates seemingly don’t want you to contact them. But then there are people like Ron Paul who are living off of the students support. The candidates have created these sites for the purpose of attracting the student vote, perhaps acknowledging that the role of the student will be significant after all.

Bill Clinton Interview

David Letterman. Larry King. Oprah. Me?

With a little, okay, a lot of luck, those would be people this month to interview Bill Clinton. He has been making the press rounds in support of his new book, “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World,” and would be stopping on his book tour Sept. 7 at the Borders on Michigan Avenue.

The idea crept into my head, what if I tried to interview him at the book signing? It was a long shot at best. Having been to a number of book signings, I knew I’d be lucky to get eye contact, much less an interview. I figured the absolute worst that could happen is he would say ‘no,’ or Secret Service would pummel me. But what did I have to lose? Plus a beat-down from the Secret Service would make great story.

I woke up at 6 a.m. and got to Borders at 7 a.m.. About 1,000 wristbands would be distributed at 8 a.m. for the 90 minute signing. I was about 50th in line. I was in for sure.

The crowd was diverse, from elderly women with walkers, to parents carrying infants, to the Northwestern medical students behind me. People said there were there for a chance to see a president, or to get an autograph that would be worth money. Everyone was talking about the looming election, with many debating between Hillary and Obama. It’s inevitable that wherever Bill goes, it’s somewhat campaigning for Hillary.

Now I had to kill four hours, so I dove into the book. It was not the easiest read on a couple hours sleep while sitting on a sidewalk outside. By 8:30 a.m., I was in the building and found a spot on the ground of the third floor where I would wait for President Clinton.

The book profiled people who have dedicated their lives to giving, from Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to kids collecting pennies for Katrina victims. It was an inspiring read, although a little tedious. It could have used some horcruxes. I finished up the book a little after 10:30, giving me an hour to I fret over the exact words to say to him. I rehearsed my introduction and questions countless times, feeling like I was bound to mess up.

Outside a crowd formed to watch his arrival. Even the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup mascot looked on (there’s no wrong way to watch a Presidential entrance). President Clinton entered at noon and the crowd broke into applause.

As the line slowly moved, I became tense and thought maybe it would be better if he wouldn’t talk to me. Before I knew it, I handed my book to Secret Service to get signed.

President Clinton extended his hand as I walked toward him. I shook it, and blurted out my well practiced intro. He gave an interested “Yeah?” so I asked him if he felt college students could really change the world. He started talking. And talking. And talking. At the end of each sentence I expected him to push me along and get on with the signing. But he kept all 950 people in line behind me waiting and talked to me.

“A lot of people felt like I failed to mention the role of government in this book, and I have a whole chapter on and how our problems can’t be solved without government,” President Clinton said. “I think whether you have bad government policy or if you have good government policy there are still things the government can’t solve quite. Because of the rise of the internet there are non-governmental organizations that are solving problems that America is running away from.

The capacity here is far greater now than say, a few years ago. In my lifetime, you’ll have more power as private people to do public good on the global scale and the local scale than ever before. That’s what I really believe. We’ve got over 800,000 people in over 71 countries now getting AIDS medicine that’s about as good as it gets in those countries. It’s because of the way we are organized. Its one thing about the Bush administration I really do like, it just shows you what you can do if you really get after it.”

He didn’t answer my question, but I was thrilled anyways. I tried a quick follow up about the student’s role in the election; he misunderstood and thought I asked about his role. “If I’m asked, I’ll do whatever I can,” he said.

I thanked him and as I walked away, I was mobbed by reporters (my quotes and photo would appear on the Tribune’s site within hours). After waiting an excruciating and never-wrecking five hours, I asked myself if it was really worth it.

You bet it was.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Maroon 5 Interview

Depth PerceptionMaroon 5With a radio-friendly pop/R&B/funk combo, guest spots with Mr. West, a Rolling Stone cover and throw in a couple of Grammys, and you have one of the biggest bands in the world.

Forming originally as Kara’s Flowers back in 1997 and becoming Maroon 5 in 2001, the LA quintet is living the rock ‘n’ roll dream right now. The last time that Maroon 5 was in Motown, they opened for the Rolling Stones at Comerica Park, one of the band’s idols and an experience they will not likely forget. “We had the opportunity to meet them all backstage,” guitarist James Valentine said. “They were so gracious. We were led around by Ronnie Wood to each member’s dressing room and you could sort of see each member’s personalities in the little areas. Keith Richard’s backstage area was just a bar.”

This time around, Maroon 5 are the headlining band, with Swedish rockers The Hives opening up for them. “We love The Hives, they’re a great band and we wanted to get a really good, energetic, amazing live act,” singer Adam Levine said. “They’re the best Swedish band; we’re the best American band.”

Maroon 5 has become know for that confidence, or perhaps arrogance. When your debut album sells over 10 million copies, and second album debuts at number one, selling 500,000 the first week, it seems to be working, however they’re perceived.

When asked how they want to impact popular culture, they seem hesitant to answer. “Bands get big and they kind of develop these grandiose opinions of themselves and what they want to do,” Levine said. “Then they start answering questions like this and you think, ‘All right, let’s backpedal for a minute.’ We craft songs and we love to play them. But we’re certainly not reinventing the wheel or necessarily putting a flag anywhere.”

After the wild success of Songs About Jane, their new album has already sold 2 million copies, seemingly avoiding the dreaded ‘sophomore slump.’ “We were really glad, at least I was sort of relieved to make it through this record because it is sort of a test,” Valentine said. “One record doesn’t mean that you’ve proven anything. I’m excited now that that’s over. I’m really excited about making our next record because I think we’re going to go in there with a lot less of that pressure over us, as much as we sort of pushed that aside to make this record. I think we’ll be free to follow wherever our creative musings go.”

After the success of their first two albums, Maroon 5 is planning on staying around for a while. “I think that we don’t want to burn out and there’s definitely this mentality that’s very strong these days about cashing in and we’re much more interested in longevity. We’re also interested in cashing in to some extent, who wouldn’t be?” Levine said. “We want to be taken seriously as a band. I think that we just need to try as hard as we can and make sure that we’re not always taking a check just to take a check. I think that at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing, which is writing good music that people can connect with.”

“I’m happy that even over the few years since we released Songs About Jane that some of the songs have entered the canon of pop music that will be around forever,” Valentine added. “We want to write those sort of songs that will stick around forever, that you’ll hear on the radio in 20, 30 years.” RDW

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Boblo Boat

Holy Ship
Rebirth of the Bob-Lo Boat

For Detroiters in generations past and present, few things represent summer more than Bob-Lo Island. I grew up hearing stories of trips to this seemingly summer utopia, as I’m sure most people in Michigan have. When I told my parents that I was going to go on the Bob-Lo boat, for the first time in my journalism career, they were jealous of me. My father told me about a time in ’67 when his family drove to Detroit to catch the Bob-Lo Boat to the Island, even though they could have boarded it a mile from where he lived in Wyandotte ... just so they could ride the boat longer. The boat trip, he said, was the best part. I couldn’t quite understand this, but to everyone I talked to, the S.S. Ste. Clair seemed like a long-lost brother or sister.

The boat has been away from Detroit for the last five years, until Ron Katoo, a doctor at Henry Ford Hospital, purchased the ship last year with hopes of restoring it to its former glory in the city where the boat meant so much. After seeing the vessel five years ago, Katoo became interested in the prospect of buying it because of his memories of childhood Bob-Lo trips. “We went to Bob-Lo probably four times a summer. The amusement park was fun, but the most fun part was the boat," Katoo said. "You get on the boat with your friends and family, and feed the seagulls, watch the freighters going by, chase your brother and sister around the ship, make friends with other people on the ship, had a couple hot dogs, look over the railing — it was an experience. Where else would you get to go on a ship like this?”

Katoo said that with the state the waterfront in Detroit five years ago, you couldn’t make a profit here, but since it has been docked at Tri-Centennial State Park for the last few months, the ship has drawn a lot of interested visitors.

“The response has been tremendous. People come out for the tours on the weekend; we have people saying they want to have parties on the ship, or donate money or their time," Katoo said. "From welders, painters, administrators and secretaries — they all want to donate their time to help us. There are a lot of baby boomers that come back and bring their kids and grandkids. There’s people who have never been on the boat but are interested in checking it out. There’s a pretty good mix of people.”

The short-term goals for the ship include gaining a non-profit status, continuing with the tours, and putting together a haunted house on board. And for the first time in 15 years, the ship will be covered with a tarp for the winter. Then it will go into storage to begin renovations. “We’re going to take her down all the way to the steel," Katoo said with vigor. "Every piece of wood that isn’t salvageable is going to be replaced.”

Once the $5.5 million, three-year renovation is complete, the ship will be re-launched on her 100th anniversary, May 7, 2010. Katoo plans to house a museum and a restaurant on the boat, and make the Ste. Clair available for parties. He hopes to have her permanently docked between the Ambassador and Belle Isle Bridges. Until then, get down to the boat for weekend tours and keep in mind that until the end of October, the Bob-Lo Boat will be “haunted” for your fright delight. RDW

Monday, September 17, 2007

Russell Industrial Center

True Grit:Russell Industrial Center

Up close, the magnitude of the Russell Industrial Center makes it feel Alcatraz-esque, complete with a water tower. In fact, Russell’s history is just as extensive as that of The Rock, save for a couple escape attempts.

The story of Russell starts in 1915 with famed architect Albert Kahn designing it, and by 1925 all seven buildings were completed. According to the Russell's Assistant General Manager Eric Novack, Murray Body was the first tenant, manufacturing for the Dodge Brothers until the 1940s, when the space was converted for the war effort to create B1 Fortress wings. In the 1950s and ‘60s it was the Michigan Stamping Plant and by the ‘70s it was the Midwest’s printing capital, with around 130 printers on site. “Basically, everything that was licked, stamped or bound came through here at one point to a Midwest mailbox,” Novack said.

Things took a downturn come the end of the 20th century. The printer Winter Swan bought the Russell in the ‘90s and soon couldn’t afford it, and by the 2000s, things were bleak. In 2003, Dennis Kefallinos came to look at one of the buildings. “Before he left that day, the story goes, he bought all seven buildings,” Novack said. “He saw all the artists already there and he just continued what they were doing. The artists came to whoever owned it at the time and asked for 2,000 square feet and they would let them have it if they would build it out. They decided to build it out which really helped the complex to flourish.

“I think Dennis has come to the realization that he’s not going to be Donald Trump, he’s going to be himself,” Novack continued. “By keeping things commercially savvy for small businesses, he’s bolstering the city. Turn of the century London was this way. No one wanted to be there, everybody moved out, it was a shit hole. Then the artists came.”

Today, of the 2.2 million square feet, 650,000 square feet are in use, with 500,000 for immediate use, and another million awaiting infrastructure work. “

In the past seven months, we’ve had 32 move-ins, and since June we’ve had 10, half of which are artists,” Novack said. “About 90 percent of our interest comes from the Internet. The rest is word of mouth. We take people around, they meet two of the artists, look at some of the build outs, and some of them are like 18th century libraries smack in the middle of Italy, and you're like, ‘Holy shit, this is sweet.’ Artists attract small businesses and small businesses do the same because everything touches art. So it’s pretty easy for us.”

One perk of the Russell that is particularly attractive for the artists is the vast artistic community. “The community is an easy sell," Novack affirmed. "The helping hands are great and we have a lot of leaders there. You have seamstresses to help you with the curtains, woodworkers to help you with desks and the overall construction. Architects to help you out with designing and making sure everything is ergonomic. The sense of community is excellent.

"It’s your space, you can do what you want with it as long as you’re not doing anything illegal," Novack said. "If you’re going to strip down to your skivvies and pour mustard on yourself and roll on cardboard — I don’t care, as long as it’s legal.”

As Russell continues to grow, Novack has high expectations for the future. “We are hoping to become, in the next couple years, the art Mecca of the Midwest.” RDW


Designing Minds:Metropolitan Architecture Practice

Walking into their studio with the sound of "Icky Thump" blasting in the background, it’s evident this is not your usual architecture firm. Tucked away among the artists of the Russell is the architectural firm of Metropolitan Architecture Practice (MAP), made up of Roger Berent and Kyle Hulewat. They’ve been there for six months now. From the disregarded drywall the pair found and stacked into a bookshelf to the handcrafted coffee table, MAP is always interested in exploring different projects.

“We do all kinds of work. We do some residential work. We primarily do commercial work — loft designs. We’ve done interior, furniture design. We kind of consider ourselves general practice architects,” Berent said. “It’s the same disciplines that go into large buildings that go into small buildings. It’s just different scales, and we like to work at all different scales, from furniture to large elements. We’re a full-service firm.”

The architects have found themselves at home in the highly artistic community, even if they are the only architects. “Everyone is really nice here,” Berent said. “It’s kind of weird, we work regular hours and most people don’t get here until later in the afternoon or work here on the weekend. It’s been pretty exciting. I think a lot of people like the idea of having different disciplines here.”

After both received their Master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, they’ve emphasized developing Michigan, and were first runners up in the Transit Riders United design contest, as well as advisory board members for the Woodward Action Association, both in hopes of rapid transit for Metro Detroit. With visions of transforming Motown, Russell seemed ideal for them.

“We were drawn to the raw, industrial feel of this place,” Berent said. “The history of the [Russell] is amazing. We liked the idea of the community with the other artists, we felt the synergy. We thought this was a cool place and we could see ourselves starting out here. The whole place is great.”

Sarah Fisher

Blonde Ambition
Sarah Fisher

Long blonde hair of the non-mullet variety at an auto race is almost unheard of. But golden locked Sarah Fisher has been the talk of the IndyCar series since debuting in 2000 at the age of 20 and becoming the third woman in the Indianapolis 500 and the youngest person to lead laps during an IRL IndyCar event. In 2001, Fisher finished second at the Homestead Miami Speedway, the best result ever by a woman. Fisher brings her exciting racing to Motown for the Grand Prix.

Growing up in Ohio and attending Ohio State University for a mechanical engineering degree, Fisher, 26, says she was excited to be racing in the Grand Prix. “It’s pretty neat. The first time I followed the Grand Prix in Detroit was when I was 16 years old,” she remembers. “I got to walk around on the cart with Walker Racing. It’s really neat to be part of IndyCar and come back here.”

Fisher started racing midget cars when she was five, after being inspired by her father’s racing career. “It started off as a family event, so it gave me something to take part in with my dad, because he traveled a lot growing up. To be able to go with him to races on the weekends was a lot of the way I could spend time with him,” Fisher says. “As I grew into it, I became more competitive as a person and enjoyed working on the cars and trying to make them go faster and the different things you can do to them technically to do that.”

Growing up, Fisher never doubted her racing career because of her gender. “As a young girl, I didn’t really care,” she says. “I was more focused on racing stunt cars with my dad and what they did. My peers really respected me because I had the ability to do so.”

Despite her position as a female in a male dominated sport, she doesn’t feel like being a woman should be the defining characteristic about her. “I think a lot of general fans might view me as a woman first, and that’s fine, because that attracts fans who aren’t regular sports or IndyCar fans to the sport,” she explains. “But the people who are already here, and are already IndyCar fans, don’t identify me as a woman driver anymore because they’ve seen what I’ve done on the track and I’ve been very successful, so it’s no longer being a female, it’s just being a driver.”

Yet because of her appeal and uniqueness as a female, Fisher has been placed into a spokesperson role in promoting the IRL through her blog and her numerous public appearances, which in turn has led Fisher to be named the fan-favorite driver four years running. But she has embraced this role. “To be able to speak on behalf of the IndyCar series and try to make open wheel grow to become the number one racing series in the world, it’s a big honor,” she says, “and the more that I can do to help with that effort, the more I’ll do.”

Fisher has had a tough season so far, but she says she is living out her dream everyday. “There’s a lot of dreams kids have, whether it’s becoming an astronaut or race car driver, if you put your head down and dig at it, you can make it happen,” she says. “The Indianapolis 500 is what I grew up dreaming about participating in — and I’ve done it six times and I hope to do it six more.” RDW

Old School Video Games

Forget Xbox:Old School Video Games

For people growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, a mustachioed Italian plumber with red overalls played a huge role in childhood memories. As the time has passed and video games have become more and more advanced, the idea of a side-scrolling game seems laughable. But today, kids are turning back the clock and playing old school video games for a number of reasons.

Self-proclaimed “old school gamer” Everett Kaniarz, 19, says that he spends about 20 hours a week playing one of his 40 Super Nintendo games. “I play the old games because the gameplay is so much better; they’re much simpler,” he says. “There’s so much stuff to do in the new games that it takes away from actually playing. The old games have the best music, best accessories and the best storylines.”

Kaniarz owns newer systems and will play the more recent systems at friends' houses, but at his house they usually end up playing one of the older consoles. “People will come over and they’ll see Duck Hunt and they’ll be like, ‘Oh really, I remember Duck Hunt, I loved it, let’s play.’ Or they’ll mention another old game and I’ll have it right there and they’ll have a lot of fun,” Kaniarz explains. “People have heard about all these old games, seen them on YouTube or played one of the sequels, so they want to play the original.”

Though he does maintain some interest in the newer games, Kaniarz knows where his true gaming love doth live. “I’ll play the new ones, just to see how they are, but they’re just bad,” he says. “The brand new Zelda on the Wii I thought was pretty disappointing. There’s so much stuff to do. I put five hours in, using a player’s guide, to just get past the first dungeon. It was ridiculous. I don’t want to find a baby, find a monkey, get a sword, go back to the baby and go fishing. It’s cool that you can do all that, but that you have to do all that to move on, it’s a waste of time.”

At college campuses and suburban basements, the Nintendo 64 has become popular because of its numerous multiplayer games, like Mario Kart, GoldenEye and Super Smash Bros., that allow a lot of people to be involved while playing short games so everyone gets a turn. The new systems have focused more on two or single player games, leaving the Nintendo 64 as a group favorite.

Brian Bosler, 18, would go over to a friend’s house to play Smash Bros. on the N64 every Friday after school with a bunch of his friends. They would play the game with the loser rotating out so everyone could get in. “We just like to play video games, and Smash Bros. was simple enough for everyone and was still fun,” he says. “It’s very easy to pick up, very accessible. It’s a four player game, so everyone gets to play. It had that arcade feel to it without spending the quarters.”

Bosler says there are two reasons why they continue to play a system that dates back more than a decade: “Maybe it’s nostalgia on my part because it was my first experience with (the now infamous) first person shooter video game. Plus, PS3 is $600, and our parents would kill us if we blew our money on that.”


UFC Blows Up

It seems like every couple of years a new televised form of fighting comes along and captures the youth’s attention. While The Rock hasn’t smelled anything in years, kids have found a new outlet for their fighting interests in Ultimate Fighting Championship.

UFC is a form of mixed martial arts and prides itself on the "no holds barred" aspect of their competition, where almost every sort of fighting is permissible. The UFC has been gaining attention in the last couple of years following the debut of the reality TV show, The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV in 2005. Spike TV has since expanded their coverage to include a weekly hour recap on the show UFC Unleashed.

UFC fans say that the new trend is much like the wrestling fad of the ‘90s, except it's not scripted. “I feel the UFC provides the same storylines that the WWF (now WWE) did, but it’s not fake. There’s guys yelling at each other, talking smack, just like the WWF used to be. They’re not exactly the same, but they have the same basis of story,” said Ryan Frasier, 19, of Troy. “I’ve been watching with my cousin pretty intently the last couple years. He buys all the pay per views and the videos. I love the real pain the two guys show, they go until they either get knocked out or can't go anymore.”

Luke Burns, 20, a student at U of M, has been watching UFC for about a year now. He says that the different styles of fighting that are unique to the fighters is one of the big reasons he became interested. “Each fighter is an individual, whether they wrestled in high school or have more of a martial arts background, it makes it more interesting,” Burns said. “Boxing sucks now and wrestling isn’t real, so UFC is what all the bloodthirsty guys are watching now.”

Burns feels like the UFC is here to stay because of the real competition and that there are so many more aspects to the fight, where other sports like boxing and wrestling have failed in the past.

David Kinzer, 18, summed up the appeal of UFC: “Boxing isn’t violent enough and wrestling isn’t stupid enough.”

Electric Car

V(olt)-& Living With An Electric Car

If owning a foreign car in Detroit is a hanging offense, then owning an electric car would at least call for cruel and unusual punishment.

But Michael Corrigan of Troy loves his 1999 Solectria Force, one of only 400 made, and probably one of only a handful of electric cars in Michigan. Corrigan, 18, says that life with an electric car is pretty much like life with any other car — just less expensive.

“For everyday use it’s really practical. You don’t need oil changes or engine tune ups — it’s pretty much maintenance free. You just have to plug it in at night and you never have to go to the gas station. It’s better in a crash because it’s heavier than a regular car, too,” Corrigan said. “You just have to plan ahead a little. Sometimes when we go to the car wash, they put the keys in the ignition and can’t figure out how to start it, but that’s about it.”

The car was created by a group of MIT grads, taking a Geo Metro body and putting in an electric engine. The limited edition ride cost about $30,000, but if it were mass-produced, Corrigan estimates it would cost only about $12,000. It’s able to go up to 45 miles on a full battery, with a battery taking under three hours to charge. The Force can reach up to 70 MPH on the highway. With school only a mile away and work only three, he doesn’t get concerned about the car running out of battery.

That’s not to say Corrigan never worries in the car. “You don’t really know how much the battery will hold,” Corrigan explained, “so you get nervous sometimes — but I’ve never had it run out. Once I had to pull over and let it sit for a little, but it was okay.”

Although the electric car is an oddity in Michigan, the reviews have been unusually encouraging. “Most people are pretty positive; they just wonder how it works,” Corrigan said. “When I drive with people and we start going forward, they wonder when we’re going to turn on the engine because it’s so quiet. They usually aren’t negative, they never say, ‘You’re stupid for driving this car! What are you doing saving the environment?’”


Go Your Own Way:Craigslist Rideshare

Craigslist’s rideshare section is basically organized hitchhiking. I posted an ad saying I’d be driving to Detroit from Troy and a guy from Rochester Hills wanted me to drive him to the airport. I agreed, but never heard back from him. I assume he walked.

After no other responses, I asked people on Craigslist for their experiences with rideshare. Rob Rowe from Ann Arbor has been doing dozens of rideshares since his days at U of M, taking them for business, pleasure or adventure. “The really long distance shares are the interesting ones,” he said. “The best experience was when I was in Denver and I needed to get back to Ann Arbor. I posted on Craigslist and got a response from a woman that co-owned a very successful restaurant in NYC and was making a culinary adventure out of her trip. She had planned stops at some great restaurants along the way, so we ate very well and had a great time. The worst experience was with a couple girls who didn’t want to chip in for gas and expenses going from Ann Arbor to Chicago. I think they either thought they could sweet talk their way there, or expected to trade something else for the ride.”

Rowe, 40, said most of the ridesharers split gas and tolls, but otherwise it’s free. “Sometimes I just want a cheap vacation,” he continued. “When I do a business trip to New York or Chicago, I’ll usually post for riders to come along. Time goes by faster when you have someone to converse with, and it’s nice to split the gas cost.”

Preparing for my rideshare, I was more than a little nervous about safety. Rowe says that as long as you’re careful, it won’t be a problem. “I’m usually pretty selective,” he explained. “I’m a pretty good judge of character and can tell if people are easy to get along with, or just too weird to be cooped up with for hours. I’ve talked to people who’ve had some creepy experiences. Any woman gets creepy responses. Most of the people I’ve rideshared with have become friends who I correspond with occasionally, or even visit sometimes. The longer trips can be bonding experiences with the right people.” RDW

Hot Rod Junket

Hot Rod
Get Your Motor Runnin'
As a 20-year old unpaid intern, the chance to fly to Los Angeles for the Hot Rod press junket seemed unreal.

Even when I was there, I felt like I was floating in a dream.

I arrived in LA and walked around Rodeo Drive looking for celebrities. I overheard a 6-year-old girl say, “Mommy, I want to go to Dolce & Gabbana.” This was not Detroit.

I think I saw Brad Pitt with an Amish guy. I swear.

For the actual press junket, they put me in a room with four other journalists who were all easily 30 years my senior. Two were reading Harry Potter and the others were Canadian, talking about the greatest Canadians ever — I knew only a couple.

First up for interviews was Isla Fisher. As if I wasn’t nervous enough — she sat down right next to me. She seemed like the girl next door that she plays; her Australian accent only added to the cuteness factor. Spunky, sweet and beautiful, I was in love, although the seven months pregnant thing was kind of a turn off (maybe it would have been hot if that was my bun in her oven … so to speak). I finally mustered up enough courage to ask if her career had changed post-Borat. Not the best question. She gave me a pity smile, briefly answered and walked out of my life forever.

What was it like on the set?
It was a lot of fun, it was a boys' club in a way, but these guys are so friendly, I felt instantly welcomed. I feel like a few of those men have vaginas, and that made me feel at ease.

You mentioned that originally your character was going to wilder or funnier places, why the switch?
We went between various characters. Essentially, we wanted a funny counterpart for Andy and a way of explaining why someone like Rod, who’s emotionally sort of stunted and slightly special needs, was able to get someone like Denise. But in the end, they wanted someone for the audience to relate to, so Denise was the straight girl. And I think it actually works really well; it’s really charming, their relationship.

Was there a back-story to why she had the bad boyfriend?
No, that would be absurd. We weren’t doing Shakespeare, but whatever genre the movie is, you really want it to work to a degree, but you don’t want to look too closely at it because it would probably dissolve.

Is there something that you brought to the film that the boys warmed to or they appreciated in what you did?
I didn’t bake any cookies, if that’s what you’re asking. Girlfriend, I do not bake. What did I bring? I’d really have to ask them.

I was more prepared for Andy Samberg; he was way less intimidating. I had a lot to ask, but everyone else did, too! After touching on almost everything, I asked if they consciously tried to make scenes that could be played on YouTube. Not as bad as my Isla question; maybe I was starting to get used to this. Here are the highlights:

This is your feature film debut, what are you feeling right now?
No matter how it’s viewed by the public or how it does money-wise, I feel like it’s very representative of our sense of humor and the kind of movie we would want to see if we were moviegoers. It’s weird to have your face on a billboard, especially if you’re collecting unemployment two years ago. It’s awesome, it’s like, I used to be a P.A. driving up and down this street, and now I’m on it. It’s really bizarre, but at the same time it’s what we always wanted. We feel like everything from this point on is just icing, because we’ve got to do everything we’ve wanted — it’s just nuts.

How have the reactions been?
People really dig it. I’ve been traveling from city to city doing press and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I was scared to go out there and have people be like, “Yeah, it wasn’t that great.” We’ve had people like, “Oh my god, you guys did it! It’s so crazy and silly, I laughed so much.” Just to hear people say that they laughed and they want to quote it, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’re huge comedy fans and to this day I’m the kind of guy that sits around quoting movies with my friends. To think that we could be that to somebody, that’s the greatest feeling there is.


In walked Lorne Michaels and director Akiva Schaffer. The opportunity to speak to a comedic legend was too good to pass up, so I tried to come up with a brilliant question before someone else did. I asked why he thought the time was right for the movie. He rambled while never answering the question. The Canadians batted over questions for their countryman, while Akiva sat, arms folded, only speaking twice.

How did you feel about giving these guys all the freedom with the movie?
I think there’s freedom, and then there’s the illusion of freedom. Akiva had never shot a feature before and Andy had never been in one before, so there was not as steep a learning curve as you’d think. Once we had the cast, my bet was that it would be original, and not be like any other movie I've made or (is) coming out this summer.

Can you talk a little about Andy?
The show is like an early warning. You can tell — whether it’s Bill Murray, Adam Sandler or Andy Samberg, for that matter — how they are connecting to the audience and each time they are out there, they’re taking it to another level and they have confidence and poise. Each week they are getting better, you can see it on that scale before a movie studio would. For me, when I know people are on their game and there’s sparks coming off them, and you can see they are exploding, you can say it’s easier to trust that because you’ve seen it happen 15 times.

You haven’t been involved in a movie since Mean Girls, and there hasn’t been a movie with such an SNL feel … you could go all the way back to The Ladies Man ...
We seldom go back to that (laughs).

What was it about the time right now that made you decide to go forward with this movie?It was a script everyone wanted me to make and I just had to find a way into it that would make it interesting for me and I thought we could make it a hit. There’s also a big risk on this because I don’t think the American public knows Andy and at least half the people think it’s a serious hot rod movie, so we might get mangled in the marketplace, but I think our core audience will find it and they’ll spread the word.


Ian McShane was next, dressed in black and speaking with a British accent. One journalist was a huge Deadwood fan, and they talked about the show for 15 minutes, leaving little time for questions. I had one about working with so many first-timers — but didn’t get to ask it.

Was the relationship with you and Andy like Frank and Rod at all?No, I did whack him around in the fights, though. He’s delightful, we had a good time.

This isn’t a film people would expect Ian McShane in.
I got offered it right after Deadwood got cancelled and it’s better to laugh than cry, so it came at the perfect time.

Jorma, Bill and Danny

Last were Bill Hader, Jorma Taccone and Danny McBride. Entering, they spotted me, and Bill said, “Look at the young guy, must be pretty smart.” We joked around about our ages and how I had the same haircut as Jorma. They all gave me high fives as we talked about Nintendo and things from our youth, while the other journalists awkwardly laughed. They joked around and told stories most of the time. Seeing these guys from the movie acting like me and my friends do was very profound.

You guys got the chance to improvise quite a bit, correct?
Jorma: When they ring the bell and we all start making the “ding” sound — amazingly that wasn’t written. But then "cool beans" was in the script, so you can never tell with us.

Bill: But Danny’s dream and when he’s beating the shit out of that guy, that was really funny.

Danny: He said he was going to punch my dickhole in, and I don’t like it when people cuss. That whole fight was improv.


And on the image of my own dickhole being punched in, the junket was over. I started to reflect: I realized I was in LA, the land of eccentricity and social saturation. I was livin' it up at the Four Seasons, the land of mini-bars and mega babes, hanging out with Lorne Michaels, Andy Samberg, Isla Fisher and Bill Hader. You know, I’m not gonna lie: it was one hell of a nerve-racking weekend — but it was one of the coolest times of my life. RDW

Bob Saget Interview

Bob Saget
By Scott BolohanJul 31, 2007, 11:44

Raw Yucks
After playing one of the most wholesome characters in network TV history, Bob Saget’s career was reborn following appearances in Half Baked, Entourage and most recently, The Aristocrats. Saget’s brand of raunchy comedy has become popular with the same people who grew up with him as the “All American dad.”

Saget has always had a darker sense of humor, and at this point in his life, he feels comfortable showing it. “I would say I hit it harder now than I ever did," he says. "Since I started doing standup when I was 17, my jokes were always weird and sick. We had a lot of death in my family; my dad lost four brothers, and I lost two sisters. We had a lot of hardships, and my dad chose — rather than have a nervous breakdown or turn negative — he went to his sick sense of humor. I was raised to go to the gallows with humor. I wouldn’t do anything if it didn’t organically come from where I’m at. It’s not an intentional, linear thinking thing, I don’t go, ‘This is how I’m going to be now.’ It’s just how I am.”

Despite the potential shock of seeing Danny Tanner spewing out filthy material, Saget says it’s not his intention. “I just want people to laugh and be entertained, it’s that basic," he admits. "I don’t want to offend people. When I host 1 vs. 100, the stuff in-between is pretty raw. People in the audience enjoy it, but they have to cut it out, because I know it’s not right. In the HBO special that I have coming out, first I say to the audience, this is filthy, it’s just for me. If I’ve got 12-year-olds in my audience, I ask them, please don’t put them in my audience, give them their money back. I can’t do my work: I’m not going to do it in front of them. I’m not here to shock people. I haven’t really heard from anybody that goes, ‘How could you do this?’ I’m not coming from a bad place with it.”

Asked if he would consider himself “raw,” Saget grapples with the concept of rawness. “I think it means you don’t have a big censor," he explains. "I’m always trying to get to the core. I guess raw talent is when something is real and it’s honest and you’re not trying to shut down any part of it — and in my standup I really get to do that now. But I try not to say something that would hurt people in my life. I strive to just say what comes to mind in addition to stuff that I find funny and not censor myself anymore for anyone, so I would call that raw. It shouldn’t be about being sexual or dirty, it should be about getting to your core. That’s how I’ve always done it: I come balls out. From the moment I was birthed, my balls come first.”

Saget isn’t opposed to doing family shows, but he’s not the same guy from Full House. “I can’t do Danny Tanner," he says. "I don’t know how to do that anymore. I wouldn’t be that kind of a character unless there were levels to it, unless he breaks down and you find out that he dresses up in strange women’s clothing and Uncle Jesse and him are doing something weird.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kevin Lyman Interview

Warped Tour
By Scott Bolohan
Jul 24, 2007, 12:38

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Warped Tour Founder
Kevin Lyman

Thirteen years ago, Warped Tour Founder Kevin Lyman took bands like No Doubt and Sublime across the country in a van in what was the start of, for many, one of the most anticipated events of the summer. Inspired by skateboarding influenced shows of the late-‘80s and early-‘90s in California, Lyman took to the road in hopes of promoting his scene by providing music to the masses for a good price. Today, the Warped Tour continues to bring many live acts from around the country to your hometown.

Although the Warped Tour has become one of the most successful annual concert tours, at the start, Lyman had no idea how it would turn out. “I’ve always said, 'Keep your expectations low, that way you can achieve them,'” he said. “So each year we just try and get through next year. And we’ve been able to reach expectation and keep going.”

Warped Tour has seemingly become engrained in American culture, with it appearing in everything from song lyrics to a playable level on Guitar Hero 2. “Now that it’s going 13 years, I think it’s thriving and we’re getting a second and third generation of kids that maybe their parents went to it, and maybe their older brothers and sisters definitely went to it, and now they’re coming here, it’s great.”

Warped Tour brings in a diverse crowd of people, but Lyman says that it is one of the few places where kids can all co-exist: “It’s a good place for kids to have a fun time, but they learn, and they experience, and they’re not judged at this tour. You can go out there right now and there’s kids with mohawks, kids with polo shirts and kids who, maybe in high school, would be ridiculing each other, enjoying a day together, and that’s really kind of cool.” Although Warped Tour has become known as a punk-centered tour, there is more than just punk music on the bill, although Lyman says the attitude is the same: “I think it’s the punk ethos; it translates to a lot of artists, like k-os.

When asked why Warped Tour has become so successful, Lyman said, "If you liked music in any way, shape or form, you can wander around and find three or four bands that you’ve never heard of that you’re going to really like. Plus it’s cheaper than going to a movie theater.” | RDW

New Found Glory Interview

New Found Glory
By Scott Bolohan
Jul 24, 2007, 12:02

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Senior Class
New Found Glory

As veterans of three Warped Tours, New Found Glory find themselves now as an influence for many of the younger bands on the tour. But this time around has been different for them: NFG don’t have a new album out or even a record label, for that matter. Despite the uncertainties, vocalist Jordan Pundik seems able to enjoy the tour now more than ever.

How’s Warped Tour been going?
It’s been awesome, man ... It’s been really cool so far; it’s almost like we’re seniors or something. Like the senior class. We’re playing later in the day, we’ve closed a lot of the shows. It’s been relaxed in the sense that we’re not really pushing anything, I mean we have a cover album coming out in September, but Warped Tour isn’t really for that. It was just to be on tour, play shows and have fun.

Your first Warped Tour was in 2002, have you noticed any changes since then?
There’s a lot of bands now and they’re all doing good, you know what I mean? It’s hard to explain. I was talking to these kids who I thought were in one band, but they were in another band; it’s kind of confusing.

What are some of your best memories from past Warped Tours?
I love the fact that everyone hangs out afterwards. It’s weird, I haven’t really noticed a lot of that on this tour, there’s definitely people hanging out, but the last time we did the tour, there were parties every night, just chaos backstage. It seems a little more calm this year, but it’s only been a couple of weeks.

What does Warped Tour mean to you?
I don’t know if I could say in one word, but I know with me I went to the first Warped Tour ever when it came to Fort Lauderdale and I’ve been going ever since. Then I started a band, we played at the local stage, then we got on the side stage for two weeks and then we got to the main stage. It’s just been a part of New Found Glory’s history. | RDW

Korn Interview

By Scott Bolohan
Jul 24, 2007, 11:20

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All Grown Up:

After growing up drawing the Korn symbol in my notebooks at school, when I got the chance to interview Jonathan Davis, I was pretty excited, but at the same time I felt like he would be a jerk, and he might taint my angst-y teenage memories. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was very soft spoken, almost timid sounding, and we even joked around a little. But Davis still has a very dark side to him which comes out on their new record.

The new album still remains untitled, and it will stay that way according to Davis, but don’t call it “Untitled.” “It’s not called ‘Untitled,’ but that’s what everyone’s calling it. We didn’t want to put a title on the record. We wanted the press and fans to come up with a name,” Davis said.

Ignoring the title, or lack thereof, Davis believes that it’s among Korn’s best work. “I think, this record is my favorite record we’ve done to date. It’s the most experimental. And it’s more of an album, our past albums have been a collection of songs we wrote, but this album is an album that you have to put in and listen to the whole thing to really get what we’re trying to do.”

Davis said the album was inspired by his near death experience last year. “When I was in Europe I came down with a blood disorder called ITP, and thinking I was going to die, made me rearrange my priorities in life, and think about what’s really important. It kept going through my head, me dying and my sons not being able to have a dad to grow up with, shit drove me crazy, I really pooled from that experience to write a lot of the lyrics. ”

The band has undergone personnel changes, with founding members, drummer David Silveria on “indefinite hiatus,” and guitarist Head leaving the band after finding religion. Despite the subtractions, Davis feels this allowed Korn to expand creatively. “When you lose a member, someone who’s been with us forever, it definitely changes the dynamic within the band and writing. When we lost Head, it really kicked us in the ass to go, ‘OK, well, we can do this.’ And we got really, really creative. It really turned into something different.”

The first single off the new album , “Evolutions,” concerns the lack of progress of the human race. Davis doesn’t think it’s necessarily a political statement. “It’s about me feeling that us as human beings haven’t evolved that much from monkeys, only difference is that we can talk and we can build stuff, but we’re a race that if you’re afraid of something, kill it. We spend more money on destroying things or building things of destruction than curing, or feeding hungry people. We create religion which has destroyed our world, and every war we’ve gone over was over religion. I mean the list goes on and on. I think there are people more evolved than others. We’ve basically destroyed this planet with global warming.”

When asked if our President might be one of the less evolved humans, Davis laughed. “Oh, he’s definitely a monkey. I was raised a Republican. I’m a huge gun freak so therefore I’ll be a Republican no matter what. But this guy, fucking turns my stomach. You know, I never ever talk shit about politics, I’ve never been a political person at all, but this guy makes me want to be. I’m happy about the things he’s done for my gun rights, but he just seems so retarded.”

On Head’s book about finding religion and leaving Korn: “It could have been way worse, he didn’t have to say some of the things he said, and it’s more about his wife, and his drug, his battles with drug abuse. He didn’t touch on all the good times we had. It was a good book and I think it’s going to help people, and I’m happy for him.”

On hope for the future: “I see there’s some hope, with Al Gore. He’s not my favorite guy but he’s doing good with raising awareness and doing these concerts about global warming, and that’s just a step in the right direction.”

On the South Park episode featuring Korn: “I love it. I watch it all the time, I think it’s amazing, it’s one of the best South Parks they ever did, it’s so fucking funny. It was such a blast too. We met Matt and Trey too. Those guys are geniuses.” | RDW

Pool Hopping Article

Pool Hopping
By Scott Bolohan
Jul 17, 2007, 12:35

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Hot Water:
Pool Hopping

Trying to drum up interest to sneak into an Econo Lodge pool is not too easy, even after explaining to potential accomplices that we probably wouldn’t get arrested. But nonetheless, despite pool hopping being the height of bored suburbia, I couldn’t find a single person up for the adventure. (FYI: When you break up with your girlfriend the night before, apparently you break up with your pool hopping plans, too.)

I arrived — alone — at the Econo Lodge in Madison Heights and saw the workers locking up the pool. This threw me a little bit and I wasn’t sure of my next move, but then I thought, what would Mitch Albom do? So I drove across the street and looked at a couple other hotels for a pool. After a couple of misses, the Residence Inn Marriott had one, and it even had a hot tub, too. I casually walked into the empty pool area and went into the water, leaving my shirt and shoes in the car in case I needed a quick getaway.

I couldn’t have felt more welcomed. The water in the pool was much warmer than I had anticipated. I swam around for about 20 minutes and didn’t see a single person. It was quite relaxing. I quickly came to realize how little there was to do in a five foot pool alone, so I went into the hot tub. It was even better than the pool. I was in there for about five minutes before another man, probably in his late fifties, came and hopped in with me. There are very few things in life more awkward than two guys sharing a hot tub. I was caught in a bind: I didn’t want to leave this paradise, but this guy was really ruining it for me. I stayed for the obligatory few minutes to make it look like I wasn’t leaving because he had gotten in, and then I went to the car.

On the road, I got a call from two buddies asking me to go to Taco Bell. Although I’m fully aware you aren’t supposed to swim for at least a half hour after eating, I took them up on the offer, thinking I could convince them to come with me after detailing the luxury that was the Residence Inn. Using my journalist mind tricks, I persuaded them to go with me to the Somerset Apartments pool in Troy. I felt much more nervous about this one. I figured my chances for arrest went up to about 10 percent, so I wore my shoes in the pool in case I had to run. We had to hop a fence to get into this watering hole, and it was much colder than the Residence Inn. We were all pretty anxious; every light that flickered, car door that slammed or person we saw walk by, we got really quiet. My friends decided the plan should be that if the police came, I should try to run away and they would stay underwater. I was sincerely wishing this would happen.

After about 10 minutes, we were getting pretty cold, so we got out of the water. I was hopping over the fence to leave the pool area and as I landed, I found myself face to face with a security guard. I really had no options but to turn myself in as my friends sprinted off in the other direction. “You guys aren’t supposed to be in here,” the guard said. “If you get hurt, I get in trouble.” I was getting off with a warning. My friends were long gone by this time. I called them up and told them I was fine, and we all laughed at how much fun pool hopping was and we made plans to party at the Residence Inn the next night. | RDW

Pool Hopping Tips
  • Don’t bring dumb friends. My buddy jumped into the water with his phone and left his shirt at the pool. Plus, he cut himself hopping the fence on the way in, making it certain David Caruso could track him down.
  • Wear running shoes. I tried my old Steve Francis Reebok basketball shoes. Not a good idea. It felt and sounded like I was walking through a river with every step.
  • Never devise a plan that involves you hiding underwater. Unless you are Houdini.
  • One guy per hot tub — no exceptions. Run if he asks to turn on the jets.

RiverWalk Article

By Scott Bolohan
Jul 17, 2007, 12:23

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Hot Trot:

For so many years, Detroit’s riverfront has been ignored, at best. But with the opening of the RiverWalk, Motown is finally trying to capitalize on one of its long-overlooked assets. I decided to put on my Asics and go for a run down the new boardwalk and see what the hype was about.

The RiverWalk starts at Joe Louis Arena, and finding nearby parking was no problem. Along the railing (one of the drawbacks: it would have been nice to be able to dangle your feet over the water, although it might stop Lions fans from jumping) a number of people gathered snapping pictures of the Ambassador Bridge.

As I got closer to Hart Plaza, the sidewalk actually became crowded; there was a guy selling his artwork, there were lines for the Detroit Princess, and as the People Mover roared (OK, maybe screeched) overhead, I felt like I was in the heart of a bustling city.

Approaching the RenCen, there were little fountains of water shooting up and children ran through them. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be families out for a walk. On the steps of the RenCen, I saw three guys from Warren skateboarding — their city has recently banned the sport. “They usually just let us skate, the people are really friendly,” Dan Nickles said of the group's downtown outings. “They don’t give us a lot of shit. Every now and then you get one cop that wants you to clear out, that’s about it. Four already came by and they didn’t even say anything.”

I reached Rivard Plaza, featuring the new carousel. Marilyn Hines from Detroit was waiting for her kids to get tickets to ride. “It’s my first time since they did the RiverWalk, I love it. I like to see the different cultures and everyone can come down here and enjoy it.”

People were sitting in the shade of the pavilion, while others were wandering on a giant map of the Detroit and Windsor area on the ground. Jack Eggleston, on his lunch break, was one of these people: “I thought about sitting in the office, but it was too nice outside to stay in for lunch.”

I started back on my run, only to find a chain link fence and a barren landscape in front of me. I thought the route was supposed to be 3.5 miles long, but it had only felt like a couple of minutes running. I went and talked to a shirtless, tattooed guy named Mark from St. Clair Shores, who was in his 60s. He bikes along the RiverWalk at least twice a week. Apparently, they haven’t finished connecting the path, but there were new sections built down Atwater. Leery of trusting a shirtless old dude, I went to the information desk, and sure enough, it was true.

Past Tri-Centennial Park, where the Boblo Boat is docked, and just beyond Chene Park, the trail started again. There was hardly any foot traffic, the pathway was wide and there were even some bike paths — ideal for running. I got pretty close to the Belle Isle Bridge before running into yet another dead end and I called it a day.

The RiverWalk, although very disjointed and sometimes maze-like, really gave a new feel to the city. I didn’t talk to one person who had anything negative to say about it. It seems like Detroit has done something right here.

Here’s hoping they finish what they started. | RDW

Chris Cornell Interview

Chris Cornell
By Scott Bolohan
Jul 17, 2007, 11:13

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Chris Cornell

After spending the last 20 years fronting a rock band, Chris Cornell finds himself at a crossroads, trying to break from the rock of his past while maintaining commercial success (after all, the guy wrote the most recent James Bond theme). Given artistic freedom on his recently-released second solo album, Carry On, Cornell emphasizes his vocal range while seemingly churning out power pop songs in his sleep.

With Carry On, Cornell gets the opportunity to go in directions he felt he was limited from with Audioslave, although not as much as in his first solo effort. “This album is less a response than Euphoria Morning. It was a response to 14 years of being in Soundgarden and really wanting to do music that I hadn’t been doing for 14 years. Carry On is similar in that I’m not in this band and therefore I’m going to write songs that wouldn’t fit in that band, like clearing my pallet, it gives me something fresh. We didn’t really get to rip into a soulful ballad so much, and I missed that.”

But Cornell is relieved to be free from his commitments to penning tracks for a band where he was forced to consider writing for the other members. “Writing the songs for Carry On was a very relaxed experience as compared to writing songs with Audioslave in a room with other people. The content is always going to be different for me because of the identity of the band. Writing lyrics in a band, you have to consider the other people in the band because they are going to have to get up and back up that song on stage and perform it. I remember Kim Thayil of Soundgarden saying he really loved going up and doing the song 'Suicide' over and over. Lyrically, he felt like someone had written those songs about his life. That’s a huge compliment and that’s an important thing to consider in a band.”

Cornell admits there is a sort of stigma that people attach to a solo record, but he doesn’t view his solo work any differently than his work in bands. “I think the idea is that when someone makes a solo record, it’s more important to them. In my case, every record I made is of equal importance. That includes this record versus Superunknown or a record like Temple of the Dog. They’re all my favorite things at the time and the most important thing that I’m doing, and I put everything I have into whatever record it is.”

Reflecting on his Audioslave time is somewhat bittersweet for Cornell, but he says he’s ready to move on and become "a type of Peter Gabriel performer" who has success solo and in a band. “I think with Audioslave, it’s something that kind of distracted me from that," he says. "And it was great, it was a great combination of people to put together and make records, and I’m glad we did it. I also think there’s some give and take involved, and what I missed out on is where I could be going in a solo world. I want to spend some consecutive years working on making Chris Cornell records. In terms of rock singing, I’ve done a lot. In terms of R&B and soul singing and breaking down certain sound and cultural barriers, I feel there’s a lot I can still do.” | RDW

Chris Cornell • July 22 • Fillmore Detroit

On solo record writing: “I think writing solo records can be more whimsical, which isn’t to necessarily say more personal but in that I can cover any idea or attitude that I want to.”

On songwriting for a band: “There are bands that are very much based on one person’s songwriting and attitude and vision, and then a band name is put on top of it.“

On his progression as a songwriter: “Over the years as a songwriter it sort of gathered momentum where I can get ideas out easier and more efficiently.”

Meijer Article

By Scott Bolohan
Jul 10, 2007, 11:57

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Shop 'til You Drop

As the only major shopping center open 24 hours a day, Meijer has long been the one-stop shop for late night Jell-O, recliners and hermit crabs.

However, with this type of selection come drawbacks. For whatever reason, Meijer, more than any other supermarket, seems to carry around the reputation of being the home to creepy people roaming the aisles late into the night. When I went to the store on Coolidge and Maple, what I found was both surprising and distinctly Meijer.

The store was empty for the most part, with only two of the 28 checkout lanes open. However, there was quite a steady flow of customers in these, along with those newfangled self-checkout lanes. People were buying mostly food, from a couple of snacks to the customers who seemed like they forgot they were getting married tomorrow and had to buy food for everyone they know. Chips, beer and ice cream were popular, but people were just as likely to have something totally random. I talked with a guy who just had to get a Blu-Ray DVD at 2 in the morning (which they didn’t have). The animals (in the pet department) were mostly up, too. The gerbils were running around in their wheels while the birds squawked. In the sports department, two girls were playing soccer. However, most of the activity was going down over in the food section.

Back in the front of the store, I talked with Marcel Davis in customer service. He has worked everything from the cash register to being the greeter late night the last four years to pay for school at Wayne State. His shift is usually from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and he sleeps about four to eight hours if he can. He said it’s busiest until around 2:30 a.m., and then picks back up at 6. “It’s OK right now,” Davis said of the night gig, “I’d kind of like to find a day job in my major.” He said a lot of the people who stop by work at night, such as people from nearby Beaumont Hospital. Davis said that people buy just about everything late at night, in particular people barbequing the next day seem to stop by late to pick up food.

I saw Liz Reid picking up random items like flashlights and dishes. “My kid is going to camp tomorrow and I just read the list of what he has to bring,” Reid said. “Sometimes I come here late because it’s just not crowded.”

I talked with Reid about the perceived reputation of Meijer at night, and she had her own story to tell about one late night stop. “I was here late one night, and there was a woman who wanted to read my fortune. It was around midnight and she was asking for money after she read it. Meijer has got a lot of different people; it has its own feel to it.” | RDW

Meijer Late-Night Customer Types

Guy With A Pony Tail: You’re pretty much guaranteed to see one of these guys. In fact, the only times they may leave the house are for Meijer and NASCAR races.

Meat Guy: There’s always someone who is buying an uncomfortable amount of salami.

Video Game Demo Guy: This guy apparently doesn’t have a video game system but takes no shame in playing the free demos late into the night. He has a gaming addiction without owning a game.

Teens: This group thinks they run the store. From playing basketball on the six-foot hoops to tapping on the fish tank glass, these kids apparently don’t have anything better to do. Whatever happened to underage drinking and narcotics?

Eagle vs. Shark Review

Eagle vs Shark
Starring Loren Horsley, Jemaine Clement, Brian Sergent and Rachel House. Written and directed by Taika Cohen. Rated R. Now playing.
by Scott Bolohan

Gosh, this movie is like Napoleon Dynamite. This film is little more than a compilation of every oddball comedy released over the last couple years, except with a New Zealand accent thrown in for the cute factor. But really, there is hardly one original idea in this flick.

Dorky loser guy who exaggerates his skills and constantly says awkward things? — Check.

Bizarre, but lovable, scene-stealing family? — Check.

Cute blonde kid with glasses who dances funny? — Check.

Seen this movie before and know exactly where it’s going? — Check.

Eagle vs. Shark may actually have out-quirked all of its predecessors, but laughing at the characters' lack of social skills is worn out quickly. Eagle tries to become a love story, but what the complex Lily (Horsley) sees in the empty and neglectful Jarrod (Clement) is never explained.

As much as the hipster crowd may want to like this movie, with its animated segments and absurdist comedy (albeit a fantastic soundtrack), the movie tries too hard to be cool by the virtue of not being cool. | RDW

Detroit Athletic Co. City Beat

City Beat (July 11, 2007)
By Scott Bolohan
Jul 10, 2007, 09:54

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Detroit Athletic Co.
You Can Leave Your Hat On

Since Tiger Stadium closed in 1999, much has changed, most noticeably the team’s win/loss record and that their former haunts have deteriorated to not much more than ghosts of the past.

One thing that hasn’t changed is a store just down Michigan Avenue. In the shadow of the old stadium sits a Detroit institution, formerly known by fans as the Designated Hatter, that today calls itself the Detroit Athletic Co.

Run by President Steve Thomas and his brother David, the store, specializing in Detroit sports apparel and memorabilia, has remained in the same place as it originated some 22 years ago. The Thomas brothers have a history of business around Tiger Stadium, dating back to when they were 13 and 11, respectively, sold peanuts outside the ballpark at the corner of Cochrane and Kaline Drive.

“My brother and I used to come downtown when my dad owned a restaurant in the area and some parking lots around the stadium," Steve said. "It was opening day of 1982 [when] we started to sell peanuts in the street corner, and within a couple of years the Tigers had a world championship team and we were selling hats and T-shirts and all the paraphernalia."

As the team’s success grew, so did the boys' profits. By 1984, they started the first incarnation of the Designated Hatter as a concession trailer, expanding from peanuts to clothing and other apparel. Following the championship season in 1984, they opened up the store at its current location of 1744 Michigan Avenue.

In the now seventh year that the neighboring ballpark has sat vacant, Steve claims business is as good as ever. “Things are very good actually. We do just as much business today as we did when the Tigers were playing at Tiger Stadium,” he said. “We really have become one of the few retail destination stores in the city of Detroit. We have a pretty broad customer base. It’s not unusual for people to drive up from places like Ohio or Indiana just to shop here. We offer a pretty unique selection of historical baseball merchandise that most retailers don’t carry. Because of our unique product selection we are able to draw people from far and wide.”

The recent revived interest in the Tigers has brought more business to the store, despite its distance from the games. “There’s always a spike when you have a local team doing well, and the Tigers are definitely a boost to our business,” Steve said. “There’s usually a spike on game days because there are more people downtown, but this is a year-round business for us.”

Despite the Tigers' move from their longtime home, the Detroit Athletic Co. has no plans of relocating nearer to Comerica Park. Steve has proposed ways to save the historic stadium in the past and he still hopes that something can be done to keep the landmark from the wrecking ball.

“As a baseball historian, I’d love to see Tiger Stadium preserved in some fashion, maybe like a Navin Field configuration," Steve explains. "I think there’s tremendous untapped value at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull that could be turned into something really magical.” | RDW

Jeff Watters Character Sketch

Character Sketch (July 11, 2007)
By Scott Bolohan
Jul 10, 2007, 09:59

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Jeff Watters
Hardcore Health

Don’t expect a workout with Jeff Watters to be a walk in the park — expect just about everything else.

Watters, founder of Watters Performance Enhancement, runs “Boot Camps,” which are much like they sound, with Watters as the drill sergeant. Instead of a jog, he does what he calls an “adventure run,” which incorporates multiple sports into a single workout.

“Each day is a totally and completely different workout than they did the day before." Watters says. "I could be locked in a staircase with them and we wouldn’t do the same exercise twice. We never do anything really conventional. We never go out there and run two miles. We might go to a track and run a lap on the track, run some bleachers and do some pull ups and then run another lap.”

Many people who come to Watters want a quick fix in losing weight or becoming faster, but it's not that easy. “It’s not like a yoga class where it’s something that everyone is going to dig," he says. "Some people don’t like feeling that ass kicking they get from the first couple of times doing it.”

Watters thinks that the adventure-styled workouts are successful because they break up the monotony in working out. Instead of counting down the laps they have left, the amount of time left is undisclosed so the runner gives maximum effort the entire time.

Born and raised in Ferndale, Watters started his training in 1995, after working as a semi-pro football player and professional boxer. “I realized that getting hit in the head wasn’t for me, but I wanted to stay in athletics," he says. "I had a group that I was working with and I had a routine that I did to prepare for a fight. I expected it to last ten minutes and they would hate it, but they loved it. It was amazing what it did for their bodies. I wanted to get paid to do something I loved and it was right in front of me that entire time.”

He has recently started the Muddy Watters Bump and Run Trail Series, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit charity. The runners go through a course set up to be between three to five miles at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, complete with rivers, hills and poison ivy. Instead of just running the course, there are stations where participants have to run through a river, then stop and do an exercise, such as twenty-five pushups, or be docked points for not doing them.

“I don’t think there’s anything else similar to what we do," Watters says. "There are a lot of trail runs around the country, but we incorporate that Boot Camp aspect to it.”

After occasionally taking his Boot Campers to Detroit for workouts, Watters is planning to start a free Boot Camp session once a month in Hart Plaza in hopes of removing Detroit’s claim as “America’s Fattest City.” “I don’t care if you can do only two pushups," he says, "as long as you can do four next week.” | RDW