michigan

Nothing Stops Detroit

Nothing Stops Detroit

I get lots of stuff from Chicago. In fact, walking around downtown Detroit this summer, I felt like I knew the Windy City better than I know my local big city.

So in early August I had the chance to explore a bit while at a training seminar for work.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Window

Sticking to mainly Woodward Ave., it was a fun stroll through the heart of the Motor City: starting at Hart Plaza (above), passed Campus Martius, and on down to the filming set for ‘Transformers 4.’

Nothing Stops Detroit: Beam

I’ve had Detroit on my photo list for a long time – to take a day or an afternoon and just explore. And shoot.

So it was nice to finally do that.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Sundown

And it’s not like I saw a whole lot. Detroit is a giant city, geographically, and there’s no way a visiting tourist like me could do it justice.

What I did see, though, was a quiet city at sundown, with lots of graffiti.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Walkway

There’s that whole Abandoned Detroit thing, and as much as I love the abandoned stuff I didn’t want to go there just yet. That’s like making out with someone on the first date.

(what?)

Nothing Stops Detroit: Park Avenue Building

Instead, Detroit and I shook hands on a warm summer evening.

Nothing Stops Detroit: Renaissance

(Photos processed with VSCO Film Fuji FP-100c Negative +++. See the rest of the set on Flickr.)


8/24/13 – Action Super Heroes

8/24/13 - Action Super Heroes

Saturday was the last big sale day for my favorite local comic shop. Leonard, the owner, is retiring as of Labor Day.

The good news, however, is that he may have found a buyer for the place. They have to get things worked out with the bank, but otherwise it’s a go.

That’s my friend Jon Hart in the background, there, digging through the alternative titles. I’m mainly a Spidey and X-Men guy, myself.


Shave and a Haircut

Harbor Barber: Chin Up
Turns out Jordan grew up in the town next to mine growing up, attending a rival high school at about the same time.

But it was his alma mater, his wife’s job, and his own first job in the financial world that brought him up to Harbor Springs, Mich. Now? He’s a barber.

Harbor Barber: Barber Pole

In a tourist town like Harbor Springs, about 10 minutes around the bay from Petoskey, Jordan says his Harbor Barber shop does good business. Fifteen customers a day during the winter, and upwards of 40 during the summer.

Harbor Barber: Fine Point

He says it’s tiring, being on his feet all day, looking down at customers. But the money is good.

“You can still make a good living doing this,” he said.

Just do the math: $15 for a shave and a haircut. Forty customers a day in the summer.

Harbor Barber: Skin Toner

Jordan says the old straight razors could nick a customer, and then transfer some of the blood onto the leather strap. Cross-contamination. So he uses the disposal razors, but treats them in the old-timey way.

Harbor Barber: Relax

The whole old-timey shave is a novelty, he says. Customers, though, enjoy the ritual: the warm towel, putting your feet up, the patient pace of the job.

Harbor Barber: Ease In

Some of the guys felt like they could’ve gone to sleep after The Towel Treatment. Especially after a long night of drinking.

Harbor Barber: Feet Up

The bench comes from the southern part of the state. The stool comes from Georgia, but the metal was manufactured in St. Louis.

Harbor Barber: Lest I Forget

One room. One stool. One sink. One customer after the other.

Harbor Barber: Boat Shoes

View the entire photo set


30 And Under – ‘Don’t Settle’

[I gave a shorter, punchier version of this essay at Jackson Magazine’s 30 And Under banquet, as a way to warn these ambitious young professionals what was in store for them. They probably already knew the second part, but the first part was 30 And Under wisdom after I was honored last year.]

There’s not much tackier than unasked for advice, so we’ll call these next two tid-bits “tips” instead of advice.

Tip one: whether anyone who is honored as a 30 And Under winner likes it or not, you’re going to become a celebrity in Jackson. The picture and profile will show up in the magazine and you’ll have strangers on the street saying “congratulations!” It happens. And grandma and grandpa and that guy you owe money to will all call and say they saw you in Jackson Magazine.

It’s a heavy burden, those first few months after winning. You’ll be famous to a group of people who have a very local sense of fame. You’re now in a select group of people that will probably make appearances on JTV or United Way billboards.

And in case you weren’t busy enough now, you’ll have community groups and committees asking for your help for their next big project. Jackson needs help, so being an up-and-coming hotshot means groups are pointing their volunteer laser beam right at you. Be prepared.

Tip two: listen for what people say about Jackson, especially when they pipe up about an idea, project, or event being “too good” for this town.

I heard it even before I was honored, but now I pay more attention. Too often, someone will claim an idea will never go over, never be attended, never be supported – because Jackson just isn’t that classy of a town.

Don’t think about that wild project you want to tackle, because it’s too good of an idea. And don’t even attempt to tackle some barrier in town, because they’ve been there and tried that and it doesn’t work around here.

Jackson has a crisis of confidence – a low self-esteem that rates somewhere between Chelsea and Hillsdale. Maybe it’s too much bad news in the past generation, or maybe it’s something in the water. Whatever. It’s very real.

It’s also true that good ideas have died on the vine in this town. But I’d rather have too many good ideas than a hum-drum philosophy that accept mediocrity and doesn’t break a sweat.

So don’t settle. Don’t let “good enough” be good enough, or think that something exciting is too exciting for Jackson.

I often think about AKA Sushi, the little boutique eatery up by Starbucks on West Ave. A business owner could have played it safe and threw in another McDonald’s, or Tim Horton’s, and offer another chain restaurant. Those are good enough for Jackson. Anything fancier would never make it, right?

Instead, there’s a hip sushi joint that draws a crowd on a Friday night. Not settling has been good for business.

Jackson’s chapter of the American Red Cross took a chance on a pop-up art gallery. With real art! And people had to pay to get in! The result was a smash success. The RED committee didn’t settle.

But many of my 30 And Under compatriots understand this already. They don’t go to work and go home and flip on the TV, day in and day out. They don’t settle for a life lived as usual – if they did, they wouldn’t be honored by Jackson Magazine.

The way we make Jackson raise its chin is by doing what we’re doing: not settling. Experimenting. Taking chances.

It’s tough, and it draws attention to your efforts, but the payoffs are pretty cool.