We read the news each day, oh, boy, did we. And when the year was just about over, we pulled out our scrapbooks of clippings from the dailies and other rags (our own included). We scoured our desks for notes scribbled on odd scraps of paper. We racked our brains for the home front stories and events that made us seethe with indignation — or at least chuckle in resignation. And we tried to make sense — not that there was much sense to be made of the stupidity, vacuity, cupidity, inanity, insanity, banality and bad luck of the last 365 days on the Gregorian calendar. (Which isn’t to say things would look much better with the Mayan or Julian calendars either.)
School days: Retired Pontiac Central High School principal Arthur Williams wants his former students to learn from his mistakes. After he pleads guilty to embezzlement and is sentenced to five years probation for raiding a student activities fund, his attorney says Williams hopes to set an example for his students that it is important to admit fault. In other words, kids, if caught, apologize. Otherwise, take the money and run. He may have to reimburse the school $250,000.
Political death and taxes: It’s revealed that Detroit City Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins owes the IRS $110,000 for filing late and underreporting her taxable income. Collins blames severe depression after leaving Congress in 1996. It seems she has trouble writing checks and wiping away tears at the same time.
Oliver fist? Detroit’s hiring of Jerry Oliver as police chief dredges up accusations by two women, one an ex-wife, of repeated abuse that they claim occurred in the early 1990s. Oliver, who was chief in Pasadena, Calif., at the time, denies the allegations, saying that the women wanted to embarrass him. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick calls the accusations “a dead issue.”
Passing a stone: Scatological jokes fly faster than poop at the monkey house when an Algonac man attempts to swipe a diamond from a Roseville jewelry store by swallowing the gem. Not exactly a luminous idea, it turns out, because the rock gets stuck somewhere between mouth and exit orifice, and the would-be crook ends up begging a judge to order surgery so that the carats can be removed. The judge refuses, but all comes out well in the end when jailers, assigned what can only be described as a truly shitty job, retrieve the loot once it finally emerges from where no sun ever shines and nothing, not even a diamond, sparkles.
Featherbrained: Under heavy pressure from critics, state Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm finally orders the state police to investigate allegations of corruption by her former boss, Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara, and others in his administration. However, confidence that the probe would be thorough and unbiased is undermined a teensy bit when the state’s chief law enforcement officer adds, “I know these people. You could knock me over with a feather if they found any wrongdoing.” In December, the feds raid McNamara’s office and campaign headquarters, seizing files in a probe that threatens to include Jenny herself. Knock us over with a feather.
Eating Jim Crow: The needle on the stupid meter twitches when former mayor Dennis Archer claims Detroit is not a segregated city. “In every neighborhood of the city … you tell me where there are not people who happen to be white living there,” Archer tells the Detroit News. Despite recent census figures showing that Motown is about 83 percent black, and that there are many census tracts where populations are less than one-tenth of 1 percent white, the former Supreme Court Justice insists segregation doesn’t exist because there are no laws prohibiting people from living wherever they want. Folks in Macomb County’s St. Clair Shores, where 97 percent of the population is white, nod in agreement.
Out of the frying pan: Michael Skupin — who burned his hands when he fell into a campfire on the reality TV show, “Survivor II — The Australian Outback” — opens an office in Waterford to house his motivational speaking company. An hour after he gets there on the first day, the office below his bursts into flames.
Selective mammary: The moral majority of Royal Oak sweeps in to save the fair city from the evil sight of boobies as it convinces the city to crack down on two bars for hosting Noir Leather fetish shows. Royal Oak threatens to yank the liquor licenses of the Groove Room and the Royal Oak Theatre after undercover officers videotape a fetish performance where models covered in tiny bits of electrical tape wear sex devices and simulate unholy acts of fornication. Quelle horreur! The bars end up with a stern warning, and Noir Leather opts to take the shows back to Detroit, where police have better things to do than arrest scantily clad women in strap-ons.
Moonlighting: Is Sharon McPhail a workaholic, or just plain greedy? She earns $81,000 annually as a Detroit council member and early this year was paid $9,000 a month as the Ecorse city attorney. Sure, she is entitled to rake in all the cash she can. But nine G’s a month is a hefty price to charge a tiny city with a $2 million deficit. McPhail says it’s a bargain considering her regular hourly rate is $350. She has since taken a reduction in pay, been accused of engineering the temporary ouster of Ecorse’s mayor and been accused of conflict of interest by her detractors.
Wake me for the afterparty: Gov. John Engler lolls back his head and sets in for a good snooze. Try as he might, he can barely snap out of his slumber at the Fox Theatre during the inauguration of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Strip, mauled: The folks at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport force U.S. Rep. John Dingell to strip to his skivvies after he sets off a metal detector. The wizards at the security checkpoint don’t buy the congressman’s explanation that his artificial hip is causing the buzzing. “They felt me up and down like a prize steer,” says the Dearborn Democrat, who admirably doesn’t pull rank when confronted with the humiliation. He later thanks Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta for policies that ensure that Dingell, the senior member of the House of Representatives, is treated as badly as any common traveler.
Nice 5 o’clock shadow, kid: Internet dating isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Lowell Adkins discovers this when he allegedly arranges a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old boy who turns out to be Oakland County Sheriff Sgt. Joe Duke. Maybe Adkins should try getting “dates” with young boys the old-fashioned way: become a Catholic priest.
Mourning has broken: A grisly toll begins. Authorities say Ajanee Pollard, a beautiful 7-year-old girl, is killed in a crossfire that erupts during an argument over a $40 radio. The senselessness grows more profound as over the course of 16 weeks, 10 Detroit children fall victim to homicide. By year’s end, the tally is 26 children ages 16 and younger killed, 17 of them by gunshots.
Smacked with a Mallett: Since the takeover of the Detroit school system, the city’s mayor appoints all but one of the district’s board members, which would seem to indicate the entire administration has an interest in promoting schools here. That and the fact that former teacher Kwame Kilpatrick made education a key component of his election campaign. So why does his interim chief of staff, Conrad Mallett Jr., appear in radio ads in February promoting the West Bloomfield schools of choice he sends his kids to? Mallett flunks the loyalty test.
Thou shalt not steal: The Rev. Edward Mullins of Bloomfield Hills is suspended after parishioners accuse him of plagiarizing material used in his sermons and the church newsletter. They say he snatches material found, we kid you not, online at such sites as www.desperatepreacher.com.
STD-Town: A headline across the front page of the Feb. 9 Michigan Citizen screams: “Ghost of Tuskegee haunts Detroit’s east side.” The subhead yowls: “20 percent of nation’s cases found in Detroit.” The headline refers to a sickening chapter: In the name of research, some 400 African-American men with syphilis were monitored but denied medical treatment beginning in 1932. By 1969, about 100 of them had died of the disease; in 1972 the story was finally told and became a scandal. But the Citizen story makes only passing reference to the Tuskegee experiment, and fuzzily documents a 20 percent increase in Detroit syphilis cases, not that Motown is home to 20 percent of the nation’s syphilis cases. Syphilis is a big problem hereabouts. So is shoddy journalism.
Don’t ask, don’t tell: Comcast cable admits to monitoring the Web-surfing habits of its 1 million U.S. customers, 180,000 of whom are in Metro Detroit. The company admits this practice before anyone has a chance to cry foul, deciding to fess up before it is found out. Comcast honchos claims they did it to help subscribers navigate the Web’s most popular sites. In other words, to prove once and for all that the only thing the Web is good for is free porn.
Idiocy sucks: Muslim leaders demand an apology from Wayne State University after a column in the student newspaper, the South End, appears under the headline, “Islam Sucks.” Among his many moronic and bigoted comments, writer Joe Fisher says that American public schools can “deprogram the children of Muslim immigrants and help them adopt more productive values.” Someone needs to deprogram Fisher.
Yob shot: Discussing the race for Michigan Secretary of State, Republican National Committeeman Chuck Yob reveals just how far his party has come regarding gender issues: “I think that’s a real nice place on the ticket for a woman, because they like that kind of work.” He might have added, “Otherwise, like every other God-fearing, meat-loving American male, I like to see ’em barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen cookin’ up a nice pork roast.”
More headcheese: “Transsexual guilty” reads the headline above the fold of the March 21 Oakland Press. The subhead: “Niece who turned down plea convicted of second-degree murder.” The transsexual angle is mentioned again in the lead of the article, but not until midway through the jump section on A-13 does the article mention the prosecution theory that Vonlee Nicole Titlow participated in the killing of a wealthy Troy businessman to raise money for a sex-change operation. Hmmm. When was the last time we read a headline that said “Heterosexual guilty”?
White squall: Detroit’s own White Stripes finally win their first Detroit Music Award. International garage rock sensations Jack and Meg White decline the local accolade.
Some kind of choke? After being 86’d from a concert at the State Theatre, Metro Times Editor Jeremy Voas sees a Detroit cop choking a friend who had spoken up in his defense. Voas asks the cop for his badge number, which apparently is a crime. He and his pal are immediately cuffed and carted off to jail. They are released after only a couple hours, dashing their nascent plan to obtain elaborate prison tattoos. He is charged with disorderly conduct, his friend with interfering. The charges are dismissed the day of their trial. Attica! Attica!
Gullible’s travails: The Detroit Free Press gushes that the national magazine Maxim has declared Detroit the “greatest city on Earth,” disclosing that “it’s clear that author Hordan Rane — and presumably, the readers of Maxim — have a genuine affection for Detroit. … They get us.” What Freepers didn’t get was the joke. A day later, the paper reports that Maxim had actually declared 13 U.S. cities the greatest on Earth. And in each of those markets, the other 12 burgs were trashed. Outside the Detroit area, Maxim readers learned that our fair city is a “dismal wasteland of abandoned warehouses and Kid Rock wannabes.” A day later, an indignant Freep discloses that Detroit was really just one of the best, and that Maxim’s editor had lied earlier in the week when he claimed Motown was alone atop the charts. What the Freep does not report is that Maxim’s greatest city spoof was part of its issue dated April 1.
Genital persuasion: Each year after the last week of U-M classes, immodest members of the student body gather in the buck for the Naked Mile, a mad dash across Ann Arbor. Horribly offended by this time-honored lowbrow act, U-M’s effete administration launches a PR campaign to discourage the streak. E-mails, ads in the student newspaper and posters in the student union discourage students from partaking in such “dangerous” and “illegal” activity, and encourage them to run in their skivvies if they insist on some form of exhibitionism.
Divine contravention: Prior to the Detroit Tigers’ home opener, a special service at St. John’s Episcopal Church next to Comerica Park blesses the Detroit Tigers’ 2002 season. The next day, Matt Lawton of the Cleveland Indians crushes the season’s first pitch over the right field wall as the Tribe cruises to a 10-1 victory. And so it goes.
Canukleheads: An American F-16 mistakenly bombs Canadian troops in Afghanistan, killing four. Adding insult to fatality, as “O Canada” plays to open a playoff game between our Pistons and the Toronto Raptors on the day the soldiers are laid to rest, Detroit’s fans lustily boo the national anthem of our allies to the north. “In dealing with what everybody’s been going through, it’s hard to understand why they would do something like that,” Raptor Antonio Davis tells the AP. “It was stupidity on their part.”
Art attack: You’d think a guy who’s worth a billion or so dollars wouldn’t bother picking the pockets of art and antique collectors. But for mall king A. Alfred Taubman, way too much isn’t enough. A federal judge sentences him to a year in prison after he is convicted of participating in an international price-fixing scheme involving Sotheby’s auction house, where Taubman was chairman, and Christies, its main competitor. On the plus side, we hear that Al’s been allowed to decorate his cell with a Chagall lithograph and a van Gogh or two.
We’re No. 4! Metro Detroit, which ranked second in 1999 and 2000, falls to fourth in auto-theft rates in 2001, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports. The rate: 884 thefts per 100,000 residents. C’mon, people, let’s get busy. All together now — 1, 2, 3, hotwire!
Our own Enron: While the nation focuses on accounting chicanery by the energy industry’s big boys, a considerable scandal goes almost unnoticed here at home. In May, it is reported that an internal review conducted by CMS Energy Inc. finds that, over a 20-month period, the company had jacked up sales figures to the tune of $4.4 billion by selling electricity to other power companies and then immediately buying it back, duping investors into believing the company was growing at a phenomenal rate. Thus, 2002 provides a new twist to an old saying: Absolute business power absolutely corrupts.
Humping for D-Town: Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick ventures abroad on an “economic development” junket to — of course, it’s the obvious choice — Dubai, a minute but oil-rich state in the United Arab Emirates. He rides a camel and touts Motown’s promise. Officials from the Middle East soon return the favor with a visit to Michigan. They stay in Dearborn.
Closing openness: Ferndale cops raid the nightclub Cobalt, citing drug dealing, nudity and the same old blah, blah, blah. Ferndale City Council member Craig Covey says the police raided the club because it attracted gays. But Police Chief Michael Kitchen says, “People were lined up to buy cocaine and ecstasy in the ladies’ room. It was totally open.” Cobalt is now totally closed.
Her hair was exquisite, though: Tarajee Shaheer Maynor of Detroit goes to a Southfield salon to get a massage, try on a dress, do some reading and get a new do, leaving her 3-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter locked in her black Neon. It’s sunny and 88 degrees. When she returns more than three hours later, the children are dead. Police say she drives around for three more hours, concocting a story of abduction and rape to cover her tracks. It doesn’t work. She soon confesses to investigators that she was “too stupid to know they would die.” Murder charges are reduced to two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Cellar fellers: A headline in the Freep says it all: “Royal flush: Tigers swept in K.C., get firmer grip on last place.” Pizza, anyone?
He works for tips: Samuel Greenbaum is arrested for drunken driving just blocks from where 70 people, and an 8-day-old boy, await his services as a moehl who will perform a ritual Jewish circumcision on the lad. Greenbaum pleads guilty to reckless driving but maintains that he was weaving not because he was intoxicated but because he was lost and attempted to use his cellular phone to get directions. The Lord undoubtedly was watching over the baby.
Gone nuts: Metro Detroit emits a collective “Eeeeeyeeeeew!” as news breaks of a Birmingham man who asked someone to cut off his testicles. The voluntary castration, performed by an Oak Park man in his home, doesn’t go quite according to plan, and the castratee is found bleeding profusely on the street. Because the act was consensual, police can’t decide if a crime has been committed. The nutcracker, who eventually pleads guilty to practicing medicine without a license, admits to castrating about 50 other men.
Keeping up with appearances: One political pundit is more interested in discussing gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Granholm’s physical attributes than her platform. Nary a peep is made about the comeliness (or lack thereof) of her male primary-election competitors, Jim Blanchard and David Bonior. So the 2002 Golden Sexist Award in Media goes to political analyst Bill Ballenger. In the July issue of Inside Michigan Politics, which Ballenger edits, he proclaims Granholm is “nowhere near the beauty touted by her adherents,” and suggests that political cartoonists would have a ball with her “Dumbo-like appendages, wens and moles.” C’mon, Bill, wen will you admit it? You have a pinup of Jennifer on your bathroom wall.
Cross purposes: State Rep. William Callahan sticks a cloven foot in his mouth with remarks about U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, whom he is opposing in the Dem primary for the new 12th Congressional District in Macomb County. Callahan says he could better represent the district because the incumbent Levin is liberal and Jewish. “The man has never owned a Christmas tree. He’s not a Christian,” Callahan says. He later claims the media took the comments out of context and blew them out of proportion. Levin kicks Callahan’s pious ass in the race.
Re-erection ploy: Perhaps it’s the heat of the race. Days before the August primary, Wayne County Commissioner Christopher Cavanagh is ticketed for paying a woman $20 to suck his plank. He pleads not guilty and wins re-election. He is scheduled to go to court to fight the allegations in February.
Mi casa su casa, y su, y su, y su …: Migrant workers tell Pontiac Mayor Willie Payne about squalid living conditions. Toree & Bruglio, a landscape and construction firm, housed 134 Mexican workers in eight homes. Twenty-six men shared a bathroom in one home and another had 18 beds. The city makes the company bring the houses up to code. “I don’t think they are that bad,” Tony Porter, Torre & Bruglio’s chief operating officer, says of the homes. Maybe he should live in one.
Bums of summer: As if their on-field exploits weren’t embarrassing enough, the Detroit Tigers, three holding companies and Olympia Aviation are hit with a 30-count sexual harassment lawsuit by flight attendant Lisa Kesner. She alleges that players made unwanted physical advances, were drunk, lewd and even smoked pot in the plane’s john. The team does not contest the charges. While 29 of the counts are dropped, U.S. District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff gave these minor-league boors a major-league reaming, for “engaging in behavior that would be rightfully deemed unacceptable if performed by anyone else in society ... simply because of their ability to hit a ball with a bat and run around the bases.” Which is really hilarious, ’cuz the Tigers can’t do that either.
Fire bad! Fire bad! During a backyard festival at the Old Miami saloon, the fiery antics of the shtick-laden band the Ruiners go out of control. Dry grass + pyrotechnics = bad idea. Duh. The lawn ignites. Three “songs” into the first set, a fight breaks out and the band is kicked out of the venue. The Ruiners gleefully proclaim themselves “the most banned band” in Detroit. We wish.
Attention Kmart shoppers: As Kmart careens toward bankruptcy, the public learns that the two men at the helm of this retail Titanic reaped millions in salaries and perks. Board chairman Charles Conway and company president Mark Schwartz netted a total of $34 million in less than two years. Both were fired prior to becoming the subjects of a federal investigation. The human toll of their profligacy and mismanagement: 22,000 workers laid off.
We don’t need no stinkin’ hearings: A federal appeals court bitch-slaps John Ashcroft et al. for being patently un-American. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a district court ruling that Big Bro had violated the Constitution in shutting the public out of deportation proceedings involving Rabih Haddad, a Muslim activist from Ann Arbor. “A government operating in the shadow of secrecy stands in complete opposition to the society envisioned by the framers of our Constitution,” the totally cool judges opine. “When government selectively chooses what information it allows the public to see, it can become a powerful tool for deception.” Ashcroft et al., thick-browed brutes for punishment that they are, appeal the ruling.
Dog treats: A python confiscated by police during a drug raid is transferred to animal control, where one worker feeds the ravenous reptile a live batch of sickly puppies.
Downright subterranean: The Web site ph34rdetrtoit.com has fun taking the piss out of Metro Times, proclaiming our “Best of Detroit” bash a bona fide bust. Ph34r (hackerspeak for fear, for you nongeeks) says the party lacked attendance because we’re “so underground that no one cares.” Nah, we just wanted all the free booze for ourselves.
Build me a bore: Wayne State University pays $18.5 million for architectural déjà vu — its new Welcome Center at the corner of Warren and Woodward. “Been there and built that” should be the motto of this retro-modernist attack of indigestion, all glitzy glass and gag-me green. Can’t WSU imagine any other hue? Of course not — the campus is color-coordinated.
Get real: The advertorial rag Real Detroit runs an ad questioning Metro Times’ 313 credentials and making erroneous claims about MT’s parent company and staffing. The ad trumpets Real as the only weekly committed to the D, failing to acknowledge the irony that it’s not even located in Detroit. Real runs a lame correction several weeks later, along with more photos of filmy-faced, bleary-eyed drunken morons who achieve the zeniths of their lives by mugging cheesily for the camera. Party on, Garth.
Don’t Bogart that stat: John Walters, U.S. drug czar, swings through town and peppers the Detroit News editorial board dudes with reefer madness: stats — duly reported Sept. 13 — on today’s potent pot. “Unlike when I was in college in the 1970s, when THC content, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, was 1 percent, today’s marijuana is 10 to 14 percent. And hybrids go up to 30 percent and above,” Walters said, probably in a bluish cloudy exhale of primo-bud smoke he’d turbo-sucked through a radically wicked 3-foot-long carbureted water pipe. The numbers that Walters peddles coast-to-coast are “grossly distorted,” according to “The Myth of Potent Pot,” which appears in the respected online journal Slate. For one thing, even in the ’70s, no one smoked 1 percent weed. For another, Slate claims, the average THC content of all pot during the past decade averaged 4.1 percent. Pizza, anyone?
Too trashy: Kid Rock goes great lengths to let us know just how white trash he is, claiming himself as the king of trailer park culture. However, the Romeo homey takes things a bit too far during a show at Pine Kno … uh, DTE Energy Theatre, when he unfurls an enormous Confederate flag on stage. Although the Kid may think the flag represents the ultimate testimony to white trash mentality, for many people the symbol still holds ugly remembrances of racist mentality. Then again, said connotations are probably far beyond the grasp of Rock’s audience.
Masochism 101: The Detroit Tigers finish the season with 55 wins and 106 losses, one of the worst performances in franchise history. Home attendance figures at Comerica Park this summer: 1,503,623 paying customers. Pizza, anyone?
Interpol criminals: New York indie rock heroes Interpol get a run for their streetwise money. After losing their expensive guitar pedals to surreptitious backstage thievery, the suit-clad rockers proceed to blow the minds of Detroit’s Magic Stick attendees — borrowed equipment and all.
Back-scratching: In an unsent memo Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick promises 275,000 to 280,000 Detroit votes for gubernatorial hopeful Jennifer Granholm and the Democratic ticket. The price: $2 million to finance the campaign effort and a short laundry list of other commitments, including that 20 percent of the new appointees should be African-American, and some new state government buildings in Detroit. Sounds good to us. Why didn’t you send the memo, Kwame?
Her bad: Don’t you hate it when you intend to kill yourself and kill someone else instead? Authorities say Patricia Grassmyer of Harrison Township ran a red light and instantly killed Carolyn Celletti, a candidate for state Senate. Macomb County prosecutors charge Grassmyer with second-degree murder because they believe she intentionally caused the wreck in an effort to kill herself. Better luck next time.
Pray for Ferndale: The Ferndale City Council passes a resolution condemning the Rev. Tom Hansen, who voluntarily counsels prisoners at city’s lock-up, for making homophobic comments. Officials also criticize Police Chief Michael Kitchen for not making use of other chaplains in a city where there are 22 churches. Hey, we hear Cardinal Law’s available.
No, you’re a big poopie head!:When Councilwoman Sharon McPhail proposes an ordinance that would require city-owned buildings to post signs forbidding concealed weapons, Kay Everett calls McPhail and her ordinance “dumb.” “You’re calling me dumb?” McPhail retorts. After which the pols throw their Snak-Pacs and crayons at each other. After a month of wrangling, the council, including Everett, votes unanimously in favor of the ordinance. Citizens for Responsible Gun Ownership vows to contest it in court.
But the dude was a famous professional artist with a fetish for half-dressed ballerinas: When the blockbuster exhibition “Degas and the Dance” opens Oct. 20 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, there’s an unpleasant little surprise for museum-goers: the high cost of art-tasting. A family of five — mom, dad, two pre-teens and little junior – seeing the show on a Saturday would shell out $52 to $60 in admission fees for a 30- to 60-minute experience (not counting parking, snacks, tchotchkes, etc.), about twice as much as for a movie matinee. Still interested? Maybe you’d rather watch Vin Diesel.
All pucked up: Detroit’s dailies devote insane amounts of ink to covering the Red Wings’ quest for the Stanley Cup. The topper comes in October, when the Detroit News devotes its entire front page to a photo and story chronicling the earthshaking fact that the championship banner won four months earlier was raised during a ceremony at the Joe. We expected News editor and publisher Mark Silverman to end up behind bars since the last time we looked, pandering was still a criminal offense and that front-page spread was the biggest journalistic blow job we’ve ever seen.
Lott’s twin: Republican National Committeeman Chuck Yob is popping off again. In March (see above) he says that secretary of state candidate Terri Lynn Land is suited for the position because women “like that kind of work.” Months later, while campaigning for Land, who’s running against Democrat Melvin (Butch) Hollowell, Yob is quoted as saying that Land “is running against a man who is a black attorney from Detroit. As you all know, people in the UP don’t like attorneys, and they really don’t like Detroiters.”
Gentleman’s club: White Stripes front man Jack White gets a healthy serving of knuckle sandwich as he thwarts an apparent purse-snatching attempt outside the Lager House. In true dipshit fashion, the would-be mugger later is heard bragging about it. White gets the last laff, though, making a kick-ass (and bruise-free) appearance on “Saturday Night Live” days later.
Honk if you love muscle cars: The Rev. Jim Ball, head of the Wynneville, Pa.-based Evangelical Environmental Network, is part of the brain trust behind the “What Would Jesus Drive” campaign that descends on Detroit to hector automakers. The Rev. Jim and his cohorts want we gas-guzzling heathens to become more responsible in our automotive habits. We figger Jesus would probably drive a Ford F-150 with a ladder rack and a bucket in the bed to carry his tools — after all, he was a carpenter. The apostles would have shared a Honda, because they were of one Accord. And Moses would have driven a Cadillac — but not between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.
Stop, police! Detroit police Lt. Vicki Yost is put in charge of carrying out recommendations for reforming the Detroit Police Department. As it happens, Yost is the former partner of the infamous Officer Eugene Brown, who shot nine people, killing three, in his first six years on the force. Yost initially refused to be deposed in a civil lawsuit brought against Brown in one of those killings. Yost, who was Brown’s partner when that shooting occurred, invoked her Fifth Amendment right in that case. Now Yost is to help reform the department. Go figure.
Lose news: Channels 50 and 62 ditch their joint news department, throwing many seasoned journalists out of work. Channel 62 abandons news altogether, while 50 now airs a 10 p.m. broadcast produced by Channel 7. The folks at 7 now have to do more work in less time, and the two broadcasts look and sound a lot alike. It also means that the residents of Metro Detroit have been deprived of yet another news source. The only ones happy here are the stockholders and obsessive fans of “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns.
Long overdue: After more than 30 years, Hamtramck agrees to comply with a federal court ruling ordering the city to rebuild an African-American neighborhood. That settles one of the country’s longest running civil rights cases. In 1966, the city used federal funds to tear down the Denton and Miller neighborhoods, calling it “urban renewal.” The leaders of the city at that time said they needed the land for a convention center that was never built.
Begging to death: It seems that Lloyd Pinson Jr. doesn’t care for panhandling. The Ecorse firefighter is charged with first degree murder for fatally shooting Roy Pogue, who asked him for money in downtown Detroit. Maybe Pogue didn’t say please.
M is for the many mainlines she gave me: A Warren mother accused of injecting her 15-year-old daughter and the girl’s teenage friend with heroin pleads guilty and is sentenced to 15 to 40 years in prison. What Macomb County Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski hands down is nearly five times the recommended 38-month maximum term for Lisa Marie Havens because the crime was so outrageous.
May the Skyforce be with him: Former Michigan Mr. Basketball and Michigan State star hoopster Marcus Taylor, who opted for the NBA draft after his sophomore year at MSU, now plays backup point guard for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the Continental Basketball Association. Wonder if he can hit a curveball.
No key to the city: It’s been a hell of first year in office for Ecorse Mayor Jim DiTrapani. The council voted to lay off his secretary and keep DiTrapani out of the vacant office by installing new door locks. When he refused to stay out and installed his own locks, the council stripped him of his title and vowed to prosecute. But irate voters came to DiTrapani’s defense and he was reinstated. Will he run for a second term? “I haven’t decided yet,” says DiTrapani.
We can see clearly now: As Compuware’s new headquarters building at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit nears completion, it becomes obvious that, architecturally speaking, we’re about to witness another boo-boo — and this one’s too big for a Band-Aid. Bland and blander, clunkier and more impersonal than any structure around it, the HQ is to urbanism what WWF’s The Undertaker is to wrestling — one big, ugly mofo.
Masochism 102: As of this writing, the Detroit Lions are 3-12, or 5-26 over the past two seasons (the smaller numbers are the wins, folks!). Fans keep throwing away their hard-earned money “just for a thrill,” and Ford Field keeps selling out. The sellouts guarantee that we can all watch home games on TV, which is great if you love feeling like shit every Sunday.
No room at the inn: The City of Birmingham hears complaints for allowing Rabbi Yochanan Polter to use his own money to erect a menorah at Shain Park. B-ham has been busted before for Jesus-centric holiday activities. It was sued in 1986 for installing a nativity scene in front of City Hall. A decade later came complaints about the Christmas tunes being played over the downtown’s sound system. Can’t everyone just shut up and shop, already?
Antsy pants: A student at Osborn High School on Detroit’s east side accidentally shoots himself in the leg while bending over to pick up a pencil. The teen claims he concealed the 9 mm handgun in his pants to protect himself from school bullies. Police and school officials are investigating how he got the weapon inside the school. Nobody seems in a big rush to find out what the hell that pencil was doing on the floor.
What about Bob? Rather than pay a few hundred G’s more to their lone All-Star from 2002, the Tigers let Robert Fick enter the free-agent market. It’s a shame. Fick is one of the few Tigers who gave maximum effort at all times. Pizza, anyone?
Cruel and unusual punnishment: The marketing geniuses at the Palace issue a press release announcing Elvis night with the following tout: “When the Toronto Raptors come into town on January 6 (2003), the Palace will be transformed into a Heartbreak Hotel and fans will get All Shook Up by special ticket discounts ($35 seats for $25 and $19 seats for $10). Also as part of the celebration, any Hound Dog named Elvis, who shows valid identification, will receive a complimentary ticket to the game. Fans who dress like the King, Blue Suede Shoes notwithstanding, will qualify for great prizes and special discounts. Elvis impersonators will be on hand throughout the building to ease any Suspicious Minds. Automotion, Hooper and the Palace Patrol will be dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock and for those who Can’t Help Falling in Love with the King, there will be a peanut butter and banana sandwich-eating contest. … Don’t Be Cruel. Bring your Hard Headed Woman, your Little Sister or your Teddy Bear for Elvis Night at The Palace on January 6th. It’s Now or Never.” Um. How about never?Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org