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

Sicko Review

Licensed to Ill

Starring, written and directed by Michael Moore. Rated PG-13. Now Playing.
by Scott Bolohan

The irony in taking health care advice from Michael Moore doesn’t even seem to be lost on the man himself. Where Moore’s past work has relied on his narration, he lets the Americans affected by the current system tell their struggles first hand. Moore takes to the streets of other countries where the residents laugh at the thought of paying for health care. Sicko tries to debunk the common beliefs about universal health care, and comes off rather convincing.

The trademark “ambush interviews” are absent, instead Moore ambushes Guantanamo Bay, trying to get the free health care provided for the inmates for a group of Americans who can’t afford treatment, in a case of “Moore being Moore.”

Obviously, Moore isn’t going to show points that hurt his case, and as such a polarizing figure, he’s probably preaching to the choir. But for a topic you couldn’t pay people to listen to for two hours, Sicko is quite entertaining and thought provoking. | RDW

Chene Park City Beat

City Beat (June 27, 2007)
By Scott Bolohan
Jun 26, 2007, 09:23

Open Heir
Chene Park

As Detroit’s only dedicated outdoor concert venue, Chene Park offers views unlike any other in the city. But as it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, the landmark remains among the most overlooked venues in the metro area. Located on the banks of the Detroit River, the underrated concert jewel in Detroit’s near east side is still going strong.

The city-owned Chene Park opened up in 1982. The 6,000-seat amphitheater regularly features around 40 shows a season and has become known for its Wednesday Night Jazz series and Friday Night Classic Soul series. More recently, it added the Hip Hop Legends series, which brought the likes of the Wu-Tang Clan and Ice Cube to the stage last year.

In 2004, the contract to manage and operate Chene Park was awarded to The Right Productions, Inc., a Detroit family-owned company founded in 1996 and run by President Shahida Mausi, the Director of the City of Detroit Council of the Arts under Coleman Young. Now celebrating 25 years of music, Mausi can’t believe the time that’s passed. “The fact that it’s been 25 years astonishes me, because I was here when it started. It was my office that did the first programming here and we started the Jazz series 25 years ago,” Masui said. “The first capacity show that was here was Carmen McCray. At that time, there were no fixed seats. It had threatened rain all day, we didn’t know whether to unload that grand piano or just go home. But the people came, and they came, and they came. They sat on this damp hill that wasn’t covered. That night, 6,000 people came to Chene Park and we knew we were on to something.”

Since taking over the management of Chene Park, Mausi has emphasized bringing the venue up to a more modern and convenient place to see a show while maintaining the established traditions of affordable and positive entertainment. “We really wanted to upgrade the services here, simple things like taking credit cards at the box office. We added valet parking, a wait staff to VIP seating, upgraded the food and added more concessions,” Mausi said. “The sound system here is now extraordinary; it used to be an issue. It’s a first-class sound system that gives you the warmth and clarity for a great show. It’s such a beautiful view, we wanted to make it a more beautiful experience.”

Despite being around for a quarter of a century, Chene Park remains an oft-overlooked part of the music scene in Michigan. “Part of it is so many people who do not live or work in Detroit don’t know anything about Chene Park. It’s just one mile east of General Motors headquarters, in one of the safest downtowns in the country, and people don’t know about it,” Mausi said. “It speaks to some of those major issues that we broadly, as a metropolitan area, need to address.”

Mausi said that Chene Park is always trying to expand to a wider audience, and hopes to attract more of a variety of musical acts and fans in the future. “We are still hoping to do rock shows, country shows, classical music and straight up pop. It is such a great venue and not to bring the other forms of great music here is something we want to see changed.” | RDW

Bjorn Turoque Interview

Dan Crane Is Bjorn Again
Air Guitar Nation Invasion
by Scott Bolohan

Don’t quit your day job. Seems like good advice for a professional air guitarist, such as Dan Crane a.k.a. Bjorn Turoque, star of the documentary Air Guitar Nation. But that’s exactly what he did.

Crane’s previous job probably couldn’t be farther from a rock star. “I was an educational software producer. I think at the time I was working for a pretty small company in New York that was making reading assessment software for schools,” Crane said.

A couple of Crane’s friends were organizing what would be the first air guitar competition in the United States and for Crane, it was something he had to do.

“Everyone said I should do it. I’ve got to do that obviously, I was born to play air guitar.” Crane said. “It was not a tough decision. The only tough decision was what song to play and what my stage name should be.”

Crane entered the New York Air Guitar Competition and finished in second place. After an appearance on Late Night with Carson Daly, Daly hooked him up with a flight to Los Angeles to compete in the West Coast Competition and he finished in fourth. Crane was determined to go to the World Championships and he started a fund raising drive on the Internet and ended up spending about a $1,000 of his own money to fly himself to Finland to compete in the World Championships. Crane won in the qualifying round, but failed to place in the Finals after being given the dreaded opening slot.

Crane said he told some of his co-workers what he was doing. “I was mildly threatened with a job loss like, ‘This is the last time you are going to one of these air guitar competitions.’ Little did they know that I’d be doing this for the next few years.”

His experience with air guitar inspired Crane to pursue careers he has always wanted to do. Crane has written a book about his life as a professional air guitarist, To Air is Human, and has appeared in publications from the New York Times to Esquire.

Crane retired from competitive air guitar in 2005, but remains a leader in the profession. “After my 5th second place win I guess you could say, I went to Finland for the last time in 2005 and I ended up having to go first again, which is just criminal, bad luck of the draw and I was just like, ‘If I can’t beat them, I’ll join them.’ So I just signed up to be the MC of the events. And air guitar is a young man’s game, and I’m getting pretty long in the tooth.”

Crane now is touring the country with other professional air guitarists. “We’re going to 15 cities across the country, we were at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC and there were about 1,200 people there, sold out. I think that was the biggest venue.” Crane said. “We’re just going to different cities and putting on air guitar competitions. It started off in the movie just east coast and west coast, now it's full blown national competitions.”

Crane mentioned some of his goals for air guitar as making it an Olympic sport and to have a competition in every state. As for his future, don’t expect to see Crane in a cubicle anytime soon.

“Eventually I’d like to find a life after air guitar. I’m not sure what that’s going to be. I want to keep on writing and playing music and keep on rocking out. Maybe for my 50th birthday I’ll head back to Finland and shred it out again.” | RDW

Air Guitar Nation plays June 21–24 at the Detroit Film Theater inside the Detroit Institute of Arts