BEST CHANGE IN THE DIA RENOVATION
More ... more ... more ...
More of what, readers couldn't agree on. But they celebrated a new DIA that has "more places to roam," "the bigger, more prominent café," "more people-friendly," "more places to view," "more hangout space," "more open and transparent to the public."
BEST CHANGE TO CHANGE IN THE DIA RENOVATION
OK, we were less than artful in asking what readers didn't like about the changes, what they might want to change back. The leader was some variation of "that god-awful mausoleum facade" or "the mismatched outside walls." But compared to the preceding question, few bothered to answer, some suggested that everything is just fine and there's not a thing that needs changing.
BEST PLACE TO SEE A MAINSTREAM FILM
250 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham, 248-644-FILM
This modern movie palace in Birmingham boasts three floors, 12 theaters and the largest marquee outside of downtown. An updated art deco style complements their amenities, including stadium seating, premium presentation and the opportunity to enjoy dinner with a movie in body-hugging comfort seating.
BEST PLACE TO SEE AN INDEPENDENT FILM
Main Art Theatre
118 N. Main St., Royal Oak, 248-263-2111
This friendly neighborhood art house has retained its charm even as a Royal Oak residential and shopping complex has grown up around it. Three theaters feature the biggest releases in alt-Hollywood fare, and their summer midnight movie series brings back the funky vibe of long-gone repertory houses.
BEST PLACE TO SEE TOURING PLAY OR MUSICAL
3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit: 313-872-1000; nederlanderdetroit.com
Historical note: It was this very theater that (along with Louis Armstrong's classic cover song) made Hello, Dolly! a hit ... after it had bombed in earlier stops on the road to Broadway. And maybe the theater will make some history again when it reopens in remodeled glory next month.
BEST PLACE TO SEE LOCAL STAGE PRODUCTION
2357 Caniff Ave in Hamtramck; 313-365-4948
With more than a decade in the small theater game, Hamtramck's black-box theater stages edgy drama, over-the-top improv and local theater and media festivals, and our readers put it together for the little building with the big ant on the side.
BEST PLACE TO HEAR POETRY
25925 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-776-9002
It's a veritable microcosm of the Detroit arts community. The popularity of their open-mic nights means that they rarely close their doors before 1 a.m.
BEST HANGOUT FOR GAMERS
1214 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-213-2502
University of Michigan students flock to this downtown Ann Arbor locale to get away from their studies, to dance or throw or shoot their cares away. It's open late and has every type of arcade game you could want, perfect for just one game of pool or air hockey after dinner or three hours of DDR before bed.
BEST GOLF COURSE
10100 W. 10 Mile Rd., Huntington Woods; 248-543-4040
Some of the things that make Rackham a hole-in-one: 1) Nice layout. 2) Well-maintained. 3) The bunkers were renovated last year. 4) Reasonable prices. 5) The rich history that includes the likes of Joe Louis as a frequent visitor.
BEST MINIATURE GOLF
2675 Washtenaw Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-434-2838
Three 18-hole courses can either make for a fun marathon of competitive putting or a long night of chaperoning for Mom and Dad. This gauntlet of golf caters to everyone from kids to college students and includes a batting cage and arcade if 54 holes aren't enough of an outing for you.
BEST SUBURBAN PARK
4300 Main Park Rd., Shelby Township; 586-781-4242
Biking, birding, boating, canoeing, camping, cross country skiing, golfing, fitness trails, hiking, fishing, ice skating, ice fishing, sledding, snow boarding, swimming, parties, picnics, a fitness trail, a nature center and special seasonal events ... whew!
BEST SLEDDING HILL
5271 Canyon St., Detroit
This giant hill is a fond memory to many of the people who grew up on the east side of Detroit. Even today, it remains a favorite for kids.
BEST HIKING TRAIL
2240 W. Buno Rd., Milford; 248-685-1561
Our readers turn to Kensington's sprawling, 8-1/2 miles of trails (of various lengths) as the best to gape at animals, get some exercise, conduct a class field trip or just marvel at how pretty it all is. Trails traverse woodlands, wetlands, abandoned fields and a tamarack bog.
BEST PLACE TO FISH OTHER THAN THE DETROIT RIVER
Lake St. Clair
But where on the lake? Smart fishermen seem not to want to get that specific.
BEST PLACE TO CANOE OR KAYAK
The tranquility of being on water is unarguable: the gentle current, the wildlife, the steady downhill flow. Add in the therapeutic effects of paddling a kayak or canoe and you can throw away the prescription for the anti-depressants.
2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-962-9828
We've had more than a little praise for this place since it opened a few years back. Readers now point out that we've missed something.
BEST BATHROOM GRAFFITI
4620 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400
This Cass Avenue establishment is well-known as a spot to engage in (and overhear)good conversations. And so it's natural that the spirit of free expression spills over into the stalls, where our readers give their best marks.
BEST ICE RINK
Hey, all you Hollywood film directors coming to town: Central Park isn't the only romantic downtown skating location in the universe.
BEST INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING
82 April Drive, Ann Arbor; 734-827-2680; and 34 Rapid St., Pontiac; 248-334-3904
Between Planet Rock's two facilities (Ann Arbor and Pontiac), which both feature 50-foot high walls, there are hundreds of different routes to test your climbing skills on.
BEST BICYCLING PATH OR TRAIL
How desperate are Detroiters for something like this? Consider that this old rail line-turned-bike path (running parallel to St. Aubin) only extends from Gratiot Avenue to not-quite the riverfront — and it's months from being officially open.
BEST PLACE TO ADD BICYCLING PATH OR TRAIL
It strikes us as odd that after years of clamoring for as much, Detroiters are finally on the verge of getting mass transit for the Woodward Corridor ... at the same time we're finally getting serious about bike lanes. Odd, but definitely reassuring.
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKING
Pontiac Recreation Area
It could be advertised as "8 inches and single" but even that wouldn't excite cyclists any more than the nine dedicated miles of mountain biking trails at this Michigan state park. Located on Pontiac Lake just west of the Oakland County Airport, the park is easily accessible from M-59. The two-mile climb will make you a (wo)man or a mouse. Bring a helmet.
BEST ROAD TO PRETEND YOU'RE LANCE ARMSTRONG
It's open, wide and runs along a river, kinda like the Tour de France finale along Paris' famed Champs Elysees and Seine River. If you're not at the pro level yet, this is the place to train for it.
31300 Metropolitan Pkwy., Harrison Twp.; 586-463-4581; 800-477-3172
We used to separate beach for swimming and people-watching. Metro won them as separate categories in the past, and not surprisingly now wins as the best beach overall. We can't think of a place in the region where a more diverse crowd gathers for such a good time.
BEST PLACE FOR A PICNIC
BEST PLACE FOR OUTDOOR SEX
BEST PLACE TO PROPOSE
BEST PLACE FOR AN OUTDOOR WEDDING
BEST PLACE TO FISH
Is this the life cycle of a relationship? (You can do your research on spots for noshing, canoodling, etc. but we've checked on the wedding thing: Scott Fountain, the Conservatory and the Carillon Tower all have available dates for next year for $200 to $400-plus deposits.)
BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE
603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-668-TIME
A few years ago, the theater asked patrons to share their first-date tales for a Valentine's Day promotion. "The velvet curtains, the organ, and the view from the balcony left me breathless," recounted the winner, who fell in love with her date. Another reminisce: "I met Rebecca at a mutual friend's birthday dinner. We were seated next to one another and discovered that we enjoyed the same kinds of films. I mentioned my plans to see Dr. Strangelove the next day at the Michigan Theater. Rebecca showed interest and so I welcomed her to meet me there. When I entered I scanned the theater. Rebecca waved. I didn't view this as a first date until I found a single red rose in the seat she saved for me. It remains one of my fondest memories in life."
BEST PLACE FOR AN INDOOR WEDDING
Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org
Detroit Athletic Club
241 Madison Ave.; 313-963-9200; thedac.com
Some wishful thinking here: The DIA is available for receptions only. Cost depends on the location within the museum, and bookings are being taken for after June 1. The Detroit Athletic Club is also an option if you are a member of the private club or can get a member to sponsor you.
BEST PLACE FOR A LAST DATE OR BREAKING UP
Lafayette Coney Island
118 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-964-8198
We explain it this way. This is the date where you don't have to worry about having onions on your breath.
BEST PLACE TO CRUISE
And for thousands of classic car owners and a couple zillion enthusiasts, the cruising reaches a dreamlike peak on the third Saturday of August.
BEST AIRPORT PARKING
Big Blue Deck
Prices have doubled from $5 to $10 over the past five years, but the Blue Deck still offers competitive rates, the advantage of covered parking and, if you are using the Smith Terminal, incredible convenience.
BEST WAY TO BEAT A DRUG TEST
Don't Do Drugs
The winner two years in a row. We might add: the only foolproof way to beat a drug test.
1200 Elmwood Ave., Detroit, 313-567-3453
It takes no particular preparation to stop by this 86-acre island of greenery a few miles from the heart of downtown Detroit. You can't help but appreciate the beauty of the place, founded in 1846 on the principles of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (the visionary of New York's Central Park). You also can't miss the history in tomb markers that echo the names of streets, expressways, hospitals, schools, cities and more. If the latter is of interest, we highly recommend also visiting the informative website elmwoodhistoriccemetery.org. (By the way, permanent spaces are still available as well.)
BEST EASTERN MARKET VENDOR
Rocky Peanut Co.
2489 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-6871
Beyond the dried fruits and nuts and the selection of granolas, they've got bulk coffees, a great deli counter, spices, candies, dressings, sauces and specialty items in abundance. You can find more of some of these items at other market establishments. You arguably won't find greater variety under one roof.
BEST FARMERS' MARKET OTHER THAN EASTERN MARKET
Royal Oak Farmers' Market
316 E. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak
Hardworking Michigan farmers spend their days planting, growing and picking those beautiful (salmonella-free) tomatoes. And what must you do to enjoy them? Take a Saturday ride to Royal Oak. And beside the Michigan-grown fresh produce, metro Detroit's second favorite farmers' market features fresh herbs and spices, honey, teas and soaps. On Sundays, the farmers' market gives way to the flea market and its 100-plus independent merchants offering antiques and collectibles.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRITY GAWK
100 Townsend St., Birmingham; 248-642-7900
With an endless list of luxurious amenities, it's clear why celebs like Paul McCartney and Shaq choose to sleep here when they're in town. A lucky peek into the Rugby Grille at lunchtime or the Corner Bar at night just might satisfy your fix for People magazine-level celeb sightings.
BEST PLACE TO ADOPT A PET
Michigan Humane Society
Your new best friend is waiting. We dare you to go in and not get attached. We double-dog dare you. Are you a 'fraidy-cat?
BEST MALL FOR PEOPLE WATCHING
2800 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-643-6360
The recession may take off some of the luster, but we expect there'll be no better place to ogle ridiculously good-looking people and their baubles.
BEST LOCAL TV NEWSCAST
Channel 4's coverage of this year's mayoral meltdown was far and away the most evenhanded and unsensational, that "Night Cam" still has an aura of mysterious immediacy, and its street reporters, led by Derricke Dennis, Kevin Dietz and the Bulldog, Paula Tutman, are the best aggregate group in town.
BEST HOT NEWSCASTER
Maybe it's the gleaming smile and the dancing eyes. Or the way her smoky voice curls around the word "tonight." And who can forget the hot pants she wore a few years back during WDIV's coverage of the Freedom Festival Fireworks? Channel 4's most enduring presence is still sexy after all these years — 30, to be exact, and counting.
BEST LOCAL TV SHOW OTHER THAN A NEWSCAST
Wolfman Mac's Nightmare Sinema
After its share of legal woes, this no-frills, cheap-thrills escapade on TV20 is catching on. And branching out. Wolfman Mac is to officiate a mass wedding ceremony in front of Erebus Haunted Attraction in Pontiac, followed by an all-ages Halloween party at the Crofoot Ballroom on Halloween night. The show is to begin broadcasting soon at digiflick.net. As they say, "Stay tombed."
BEST LOCAL RADIO MUSIC SHOW
Mojo in the Morning
In between the outlandish pranks, celebrity interviews, "War of the Roses" phone spoofs and shameless gossip, Channel 95.5's notorious morning-drive show delivers some of the most scintillating sounds on Detroit's FM dial. It's the place where the newest tracks from hot-and-now artists like Rihanna, Jesse McCartney and Jordin Sparks are likely to be heard first. And every Friday at 9 a.m., Mojo officially launches the weekend with a "Friday Throwback" blast of old-school party tracks ranging from the Beastie Boys to MC Hammer.
BEST LOCAL RADIO TALK SHOW
We have some extra insight (full disclosure) here, since every Wednesday the writer of the MT cover story does a segment with WDET host Craig Fahle. As both guests and listeners, we find Fahle strikes a judicious balance between letting guests have their say and probing, between interjecting himself and listening — without taking himself too seriously, or letting his guests do the same.
BEST LOCAL RADIO NEWS
Local news in a format that can stretch out as well as deliver the headlines, traffic and weather. Detroit Today and the recently added The Back Story expand on the segments inserted into Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
BEST LOCAL RADIO PERSONALITY
Purtan rose to the top in the 1970s when a different kinder, gentler (and we're not being ironic, but maybe a tad nostalgic) kind of humor ruled the airwaves. His brand of, as the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame folks put it, "comedic commentary and topical wit" still speaks to a large audience from his mic of the last dozen years at WOMC.
BEST LOCAL COLUMNIST
Where would our letters page be without readers praising and lambasting Jack, and, from time to time, turning to verbal jousting with each other over his columns. The columnist readers love — or love to hate.
BEST LOCAL DO-GOODER
The pro-choice victory of Roe v. Wade would be meaningless without groups, none more so than Planned Parenthood 1) fending off relentless attempts to curb Roe v. Wade by law and 2) fighting to ensure that services, at a practical matter, are actually available.
BEST UNSUNG HERO
The Wayne County prosecutor wasn't exactly off the radar screen, but readers thought she, like Planned Parenthood, has been insufficiently credited.
BEST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
We weren't the least surprised that it was Obama's message of change that most resonated with readers by a landslide. Readers a year ago overwhelming went for Obama as best Dem to run for the White House in '08.
BEST REASON TO VOTE
So many ...
Just to go, arbitrarily, with suggestions beginning with the letter G: gas prices, gay rights, gay equality, George Bush, get Bush out, get Kwame out, get rid of Republicans, get rid of Bush policies, get rid of Democrats, get rid of Republican rule, gives you full bitching rights, Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.
BEST LOCAL CHARACTER/PUBLIC PERSONALITY
BEST THING TO FORGET ABOUT PAST YEAR IN DETROIT
BEST THING ABOUT PAST YEAR IN DETROIT
Kwame Kilpatrick, Kwame Kilpatrick text scandal, Kwame Kilpatrick leaving
As we've said before, it's a relief to write ex-mayor in front of his name. It's also a relief not having to write about him so often at all.
BEST NEXT JOB FOR KWAME KILPATRICK
From cell phone sales to making license plates in jail to preacher
Suggestions are literally all over the place. Among them: Manage the Lions (they can't do any worse), marriage counselor, cleaning elephant poop at zoo he tried to close, bodyguard for next mayor, City Council member, city janitor, talk show host, strip club manager, etc., etc., etc.
BEST DETROIT MAYORAL CANDIDATE FOR '09
OK, Detroiters have earned a bad rap for electing poorly qualified candidates simply on the basis of name recognition — can anyone say Martha Reeves? — but the former Pistons great is much more than a famous ex-jock. He's become one of this country's most successful African-American businessmen and has established a well-deserved reputation for supporting the city through his work with civic groups and charities. Our readers say he's the guy we need to help secure Detroit's rebound.
BEST MICHIGAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE FOR '10
He has a way of saying that he hasn't made up his mind that makes you wonder whether he's made up his mind.
BEST OAKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE CANDIDATE
L. Brooks Patterson
He may wince at the comparison, but re-election would put him on par with Coleman Young's five terms in office. Few other politicians in recent times have cast such long shadows over local governance. If Young's final term is any kind of portent, this may not be such a good thing for his legacy.
BEST LOCAL PRO ATHLETE, BEST DETROIT TIGER
So, the boys of summer were a colossal failure this year, finishing last in the AL Central. But that didn't lessen metro Detroit's love for the Tigers' smooth-hitting centerfielder, Curtis Granderson. Known as a versatile athlete — he's one of three players in MLB history to hit 20 home runs, 20 triples, 20 doubles and steal 20 bases in a season — and stand-up guy, Granderson has garnered praise from fans and media alike. And after inking a $30 million extension in February, it looks like he'll be patrolling centerfield in Comerica Park for the foreseeable future.
BEST DETROIT RED WING
He's really good. Like season MVP-bound good. Plus, he's a scorer, which everybody is a fan of. Don't be surprised if the sun is gleaming off not only the Stanley Cup at next year's championship parade, but the Hart Memorial and Conn Smythe trophies as well.
BEST DETROIT PISTON
"Mr. Big Shot" is the leader of our Pistons. He decides where the ball goes from the beginning of the possession. He usurps the likes of Rip and 'Sheed for the same reasons he won the Finals MVP in 2004: more composure and responsibility.
BEST DETROIT LION
After the Lion's pathetic start, it's no surprise Johnson narrowly beat out "none of them," as the readers choice for Best Detroit Lion. Moreover, in only his second year, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound freak of nature (Johnson ran a 4.35 second 40-yard dash) has shown the potential to be a dominant wide receiver in the NFL. (Wait, wasn't that what they said about Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams?)
BEST DETROIT SHOCK
The Shock's leading scorer and debatably best player has led Detroit's other basketball team to yet another WNBA Finals win this year. She gives us all a reason to watch while the NBA is in its off-season.
BEST LOCAL SPORTS MOMENT OF 2008 (SO FAR)
With the Pistons falling short of yet another national championship, the Tigers' disappointing season and the Lions ... being the Lions, the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2002 re-established Detroit as a titled town. (For the record, voting closed before the sacking of Matt Millen.)
BEST LOCAL NEWS BLOG, BEST LOCAL POLITICAL BLOG
For those who like their news delivered with a double shot of snark, this is the site. Pithy, venom-dripping commentary accompanies links to the day's notable local and state stories.
BEST LOCAL POP CULTURE BLOG
Super Gay Detroit
The site may have stacked the deck just a tad by soliciting its readers to vote — not that there there's anything wrong with campaigning — but the site is still a total hoot, even for the hetero among us. Self-described as "documenting one upwardly mobile, 30-something man's fight to find the kind of gay life every good homo deserves. In Detroit," Supergay totally rocks. (And we're bettin' Sarah Palin would not approve!)
BEST LOCAL MUSIC BLOG
Motor City Rocks
Still the best place to go for announcements, links and rumors related to local music, with an emphasis on rock. It's been a little less consistent during the last year, but now that it's been sold, it seems to be picking up some steam again.
BEST LOCAL WEB SITE
We've redesigned. Looks like you still like us. Thanks.
BEST MICHIGAN WEEKEND GETAWAY
The bay is beautiful, the shopping is worthy, the bar scene works.
BEST ONTARIO GETAWAY
We've heard Detroit tourism types tout Toronto as a model for how the D might market itself. What's the T got going for it? Culture, music, neighborhoods, etc. The Toronto Tourism board actually has a link marked "Edgy & Underground." It's more than a little of what Detroit aspires to — and they've got gun control.
BEST LOCAL MUSIC FESTIVAL
Detroit International Jazz Festival
The festival has faltered and reinvented itself several times over the years. But it's in an enviable spot right now both behind the scenes (as an independent organization with a substantial endowment) and in terms of the Labor Day offerings on Hart Plaza and stretching up Woodward Avenue through downtown. A solid jazz core with added nonjazz attractions that seems simpatico rather than distracting is a winning formula.
BEST METRO DETROIT BUILDING
500 Griswold St., Detroit; guardianbuilding.com
Describing this landmark as being "40 stories of inspiration" is no hype. As its website notes, the Guardian's lavish architecture features an "explosion of color, craftsmanship and blending of Native American, Aztec, and Arts & Crafts influences" that fill visitors with awe.
BEST BUILDING RENOVATION
1114 Washington Blvd., Detroit; bookcadillacwestin.com
More than $180 million was spent restoring this neo-Renaissance gem built in the 1920, and it looks to be worth every penny. Luxury hotel rooms, condos, restaurants — come downtown and check what has become the Westin Book Cadillac.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD TO FIND FORECLOSED HOUSE
Indian Village, Detroit
Hey, buddy, would you like to buy a historic mansion?
BEST ABANDONED BUILDING TO SAVE, BEST URBAN SPELUNKING SITE
Michigan Central Station
Dear Mr. Maroun: Far be it for pikers like us to tell you what to do with a multimillion-dollar asset that also happens to be an abysmal eyesore and blot on the city if not all of humanity ... but you could think about turning it into a new kind of urban theme park. Planet Rock would have nothing on you.
BEST IDEA TO IMPROVE DETROIT IN FUTURE
After years as the top readers' choice in this category, it's hard to believe that Detroit is on the verge of real progress here.
BEST LOCAL COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY
Wayne State University
Along with Midtown and the Cultural Center area, what has long been a vitally important but merely functional school is evolving into something much more.
BEST CELEBRITY WHO SHOULD RELOCATE TO DETROIT
His fans and defenders are always quick to point out — unlike Kid Rock, unlike Eminem — Jack White is one of the current rock stars from our fair state to actually grow up in Detroit proper. But is this choice ironic since Jack has relocated to Nashville? And since he doesn't have a lot of nice things to say these days about the music scene that groomed him? But who knows? Maybe the voters' message is: "Move back, Jack; all is forgiven."
BEST ARGUMENT FOR REGIONAL MASS TRANSIT
Prices are dropping now, but even if prices dropped below the levels of a year ago (when readers voted the same way), we doubt it would change a thing. See above.
Mt. Elliot at I-94
How bad is it? None of our expeditions have ever made it back to the office.
BEST REASON TO FILM IN DETROIT
The bottom line is that readers realize that this is the bottom line.
BEST REASON TO CROSS TO WINDSOR
And we'll drink to that. On second thought ...
BEST MOTTO FOR DETROIT
Variations on: Bye, Kwame
Others: We're so tough our mayor is a criminal. Rebuilding since 1967. Michigan's Dirty South. Come for casinos, stay for the hookers. At least it's not Houston. It's better than Trenton. The chances are you won't get shot. Stark, cold, sexy. God, I love this city. Text ya later.
BEST MOTTO FOR MICHIGAN
America's High Five
Others: Where prejudice reigns. Like Mississippi, only not as hot. Five lakes, a lifetime of wonder. Get your own water, bitches. Nowhere to go but up. Stay smitten in the Mitten.
BEST UNDERGROUND ART SPACE
CAID (Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit
5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit; 313-899-2243; thecaid.org
Since this 30-year-old roaming nonprofit finally found a place to call home in 2005 — in a bare-bones space on a rural patch of Rosa Parks Avenue (the former haunt of detroit contemporary) — we can honestly say that art in Detroit has moved beyond polemics. CAID is where the venerable meets the undervalued, where wealthy suburbanites hang with hoodie-wearing anarkids. If that don't make it underground, then CAID's unpretentious, logcabin- in-the-woods vibe certainly makes up for it ... no matter who, clad in riot gear, tries to tear it all down.
BEST DETROIT RIVERFRONT ATTRACTION
To anyone who frequents downtown, checking in on the RiverWalk has been one of the joys of recent years. You're away for a few months, you check in on the transformation. It's now nearly 3 miles long, and it'll be 3.5 miles when completed, from the Joe to east of the Belle Isle bridge. You may shake your head about the shortsightedness that kept the city from promoting this kind of river access generations ago.
Community Chest - Staff Picks
by Metro Times staff
Super people, places and things, picked by our team of writers