The South End: Odds & Ends

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Wednesday 08/14/2013
Oakland County warns DIA: we're cutting you off

Detroit’s bankruptcy filing has worked plenty of metro Detroiters into a tizzy, and rightfully so, but the cash crunch may get worse: Oakland County has announced plans to withhold its portion of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ millage funds if the institution sells any of its artwork to pay creditors, according to Oakland Press.

That would mean that the DIA would be out of $10 million a year for the next nine years, for a total of $90 million. Moreover, DIA could end up losing all of its millage funding — $23 million annually — should Wayne and Macomb counties follow suit.

“We think the people of Oakland County, when they approved the millage, had a reasonable expectation that it would be used to establish the DIA, and not be used to pay off the bad debts of the City of Detroit,” said Thomas Guastello, chairperson of the Oakland County Art Institute Authority, in an Aug. 10 Oakland Press article.

Of course, this also means Oakland County residents would be deprived of free admission, but if you can longer visit the DIA to see priceless paintings by Van Gogh or Picasso because the city pawned them off, well, would anyone still want to go in the first place?

There’s a serious catch-22 involved: metro Detroit residents should not be expected to maintain an institution that doesn’t retain its most valuable assets, but if they don’t help support the DIA, it could cause the museum to have to sell even more paintings or eventually close altogether.

It seems unfair, though, to punish the DIA for the possible liquidation, since it would most certainly be Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr who would order the sales. In the past, DIA representatives have been very adamant about their opposition to such a practice, and today, Aug. 14, concerned art appreciators have organized a "Day for Detroit" to showcase the brilliant masterpieces at the DIA and fight for their protection.

But there are also major debates brewing over whether Detroit should sell other valuable assets, including the water and sewerage department, the Detroit Zoo, Belle Isle and even its half of the Windsor Tunnel.

I’m all for hacking away at Detroit’s debt, but being debt free won’t help the city climb out of its massive hole of dysfunction if there’s nothing left for residents to enjoy and businesses to invest in afterward. They’re considered “assets” for a reason. Instead of selling off the few things Detroit does have going for it, the city would be better served by hiring staff to efficiently run their departments and generate the needed revenue that way… you know, by making sure they notice million dollar checks laying around that they forgot to cash. Oops.

Posted in Odds and ends on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 12:00 pm. Updated: 1:39 pm. Comments (0)

Friday 07/20/2012
Blog: Where is our Batman?

As I listened to the breaking news unraveling on NPR, and my heart dropped into my stomach. The latest reports say 12 people are dead, and about 40 wounded. Shot while sitting in a movie theater watching the midnight premiere of one the most-highly anticipated movies of the year – a movie that most of the audience members in Aurora, Colo., had probably been looking forward to for months.

According to reports, a man dressed in black with a gas mask and a bullet-proof vest walked into Theater Nine of the multiplex shortly after the movie began, in the midst of a gun-fighting scene. He tossed a gas canister into the crowd, audience members reported, and then started shooting.

Hearing the first-hand accounts of people who were in the next theater over or listening to police scanners is nothing less than heartbreaking. These people did not deserve this; no one does. Going to a midnight premiere, for young people, is a rite of passage: a time to dress in costume, get excited about staying up late to watch a new movie in a theater and be among the first to “ooh” and “ahh” over the long-awaited film. The only blood is supposed to be on the big screen, not streaming from friends and neighbors all over the floor.

It seems like something straight out of an action/thriller movie, and yet, these people weren’t part of a daring cinematic bank heist or any other dangerous operation. They were just sitting there enjoying the third installment of the Batman saga. No one deserves to experience that kind of horror. As the investigation continues, I’m sure we’ll eventually hear some sort of reason why the alleged gunman did what he did. But that won’t bring us any closer to understanding his actions, understanding the awful randomness of it.

Maybe this hits so close to home because I was at a 3:15 a.m. showing in Dearborn. This could have happened anywhere. I know that when I was watching the movie, worrying about a lethal threat was the last thing on my mind. I can’t even imagine the horror of being ripped from enjoying a storyline to having to confront cold, deadly reality and wondering if my loved ones have been stolen from me in a spray of bullets.

We don’t need to watch a Batman movie about a masked madman wreaking havoc on a city. The real thing is so, so much scarier. And, unfortunately, unlike in Gotham, there is no masked crusader coming to save the day.

_Emily Morman is the editor-in-chief of The South End._

Posted in Odds and ends on Friday, July 20, 2012 12:00 am. Updated: 2:22 pm. Comments (0)

Tuesday 05/03/2011
Have no fear, RoboCop is here

Detroit may once again be safe if plans to bring a Robocop statue to the city are executed.

A group of artists including Jeff Paffendorf have been raising funds for the project.

After spreading the word about the possibilities of the statue people took interest, so much that Paffendorf and group members have already received 50,000 dollars through fundraising.

"This has gone all over," Paffendorf said. "If people get excited about it, we can receive the funds to do it."

Raising so much money in less than a week brings great attention.

Peter Weller, the RoboCop, himself, has jumped on the project's band wagon and is trying to help raise funds for his new charity "Robo Charity."

Some of Robo Charity's funds will also go to "Forgotten Harvest," an organization that provides meals for the homeless in the city of Detroit.

"They get food from restaurants and supermarkets that are thrown out, but not spoiled, and collect that for the homeless," Paffendorf said. "There's some ridiculous number of meals that have been raised through Robo Charity."

Plans of a new Robocop movie have also surfaced on the Internet and has been the talk of cult fans.

Director hopeful, Darren Aronofsky, hasn't released any notable information yet, the movie was first slated for a 2010 release but now is looking towards 2013.

Check out Peter Wellers campaign for the Robocop statue on "Funny or Die":

Posted in Odds and ends on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 12:00 am. Comments (0)

Blog: Where has Zimride gone?

A familiar scenario: Running late, someone starts their vehicle, and the engine doesn’t turn over. They begin to fret they'll miss their class, their job or that party everybody has been talking about for weeks.

Then they remember, Commuting made easy -- or at least it would be if Wayne State, like the University of Michigan, joined the fray.

For a little more than a year, has provided a social network for students and workers with a new approach to public transportation. By setting up a free account online, users can request specific windows of time they need to depart and arrive at destinations.

It's common knowledge that Wayne State is a commuter school. Just one glance at the back up on Lodge Freeway in the morning says it all. But the Student Senate has looked into a possible solution to the car-related problems with the help of Zimride.

In an article in "The South End" last November, Taylor Trammell asked the Senate about Zimride.

“I think this is beneficial for a commuter campus,” Student Senate President Amanda Carnagie said. “It’s almost like a social network. It matches up who has similar schedules. It’s almost like meets Facebook.”

Carnegie described the prospect as ”a very legitimate initiative” and “exciting.”

WSU senior Rupi Sekhon knows firsthand how stressful the drive to campus can be.

“I’d definitely have looked into it. Commuting from Plymouth isn’t that bad, but sometimes it’d be nice to not have to drive,” she said.

However, carpooling is not just about the driving; according to Zimride account manager, Amy Fox, it’s also about giving money back to the customer.

“Zimride enables schools across the country to offer a fun, easy and social rideshare program that helps put money back into the pockets of students and supports fostering a tighter campus community.

"Zimride has the potential to collectively save each campus population $190,000 on average with an annual carbon emission reduction of 300,000.”

Testimonials from across the country, including Zaida McCunny, staff member at Lawrence Berkeley Labs in California, offered praise.

She said: “I personally have saved $250 per month on commute costs. I leave work-related issues at the office because the gals in my carpool are fun, and we have a great time on our commute. Since Zimride, I am more energetic and productive at the office and home, so I reap many benefits from this program.”

Korin Franklin, a student from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, agreed.

“Zimride was super easy to use and matched me up right away with dozens of potential rides. I've met some awesome new people around campus while reducing my carbon footprint all at the same time. The best part is that it's safe; only people from my campus network can see my information.” has three types of commuter services: campus, enterprise and event. With a variety of set networks, Zimride offers public access for commuters who wish to find a more economically friendly and money-saving route to campus.

Posted in Odds and ends on Thursday, March 3, 2011 12:00 am. Comments (0)

Monday 11/15/2010
Facebook expected to announce e-mail addition Monday

Facebook — the social networking site used by more than 150 million Americans — is expected to unveil e-mail as its next endeavor at a press conference Monday morning.

According to the website TechCrunch, Facebook is launching the e-mail function that could pose a threat to current e-mail leader GMail.

Google and Facebook have been at odds ever since Google restricted access to e-mail addresses. Previously, Facebook pulled e-mail addresses from Google accounts.

As a die-hard GMail fan, I'm taking the wait-and-see approach if indeed this rumor is true. But with so many people using Facebook already, it makes sense to combine the social networking and e-mail into one format.

Plus, everything Facebook does seems to always win in the court of public opinion. So here's the question: would you change your e-mail to a Facebook e-mail?

Posted in Odds and ends on Monday, November 15, 2010 12:00 am. Comments (0)

Wednesday 10/06/2010
Blagojevich's defense runs out of cash

For those keeping score at home, that’s two for the State of Illinois to one for its disgraced former governor, Rod Blagojevich.

In a blow that I’m going to call well-deserved, Blagojevich’s lead attorney, Sam Adam Jr., intends to leave his defense, the Associated Press reported Sept. 30.

There’s a double-whammy here: Adam is leaving because - pause for effect – Blagojevich’s defense fund is out of money. That might as well be music to my ears.

In another saga of government corruption, it’s nice to see that the stupidity of the accused is coming back to haunt them.

The call on whether Adam can leave is up to U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who has reduced Blagojevich’s team of lawyers from ten to two since the people now have to pay for them. Adam requested his withdrawal on Friday.

Illinois first point came when they ousted Blagojevich and convicted him of lying to the FBI. Blagojevich gets a point because he’s not already in jail.

Now he has to rely on his two lawyers who will hopefully get paid as meager as regular public defenders. We’ll have to wait and see if it has an effect on his trial. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it does.

Posted in Odds and ends on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 12:00 am. Comments (0)

Wednesday 09/22/2010
'Detroit 1-8-7' bungles most important detail of Detroit life

I'm not going to blog about the entire premiere of "Detroit 1-8-7"; I'll leave that to our A&E editor, Alan Burdziak, if he feels the need to do so.

However, after watching it last night, I can't get out of my head one thing that almost ruined what was mostly a good start to a TV series: the use of the word "soda."

In one scene, a character says, "Man, you finished my soda" – or something to that effect. The world stopped spinning and my life flashed before my eyes for a moment.

In my 21 years living here, I've found that it doesn't matter if you live in the city, the 'burbs, downriver or along the coast of Lake St. Clair, those of us who are from here never, ever say "soda." We proudly carry the "pop" flag.

My friends said that the character might have been from out of state. But I don't know; my journalist intuition is telling me this is was a major gaffe by the writers.

But still, it could have been worse. The writers could have pussyfooted around and had the character say "soda pop" or "soda water." Ugh.

Anyway ... get it right, ABC! You almost lost a viewer last night.

Posted in Odds and ends on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 12:00 am. Comments (0)

Sunday 09/19/2010
Nine hours to nowhere?

In the grand scheme of things, Michigan Tech, located in the western Upper Peninsula, gets a bad rap. It's known for being cold and in the middle of nowhere.

I had never visited Houghton until this weekend, but I'm glad I finally got the chance. The air was fresh, brisk and cool, the sights were like nothing in the Lower Peninsula and even the night life was better-than-average. The Keweenaw Brewing Company seemed to be a hotspot for college students.

The Huskies knocked off Wayne State football, 24-7, and did it in front of 2,500 raucous fans with the help of a pep band that puts WSU's to shame.

If you ever get the chance to make the trip (roughly 550 miles), take the opportunity (especially if you're going with three interesting storytellers).

Posted in Odds and ends on Sunday, September 19, 2010 12:00 am. Comments (0)

Tuesday 09/14/2010
Ambulance chasing WSU-style

Now here's something you don't hear about every day (even though it's been happening for more than two decades): the 25th annual Ambulance Chase Charity Run/Walk – hosted by the Wayne Law Student Board of Governors– Sept. 29 at 5 p.m.

During this most solemn occasion, people can walk or run behind an ambulance for a distance of 2 miles, more or less. A couple hundred people usually do this each year, and as many as 100 show up to stare at them.

Entrance fees are $15 for students with a valid OneCard and $20 for others. All proceeds will benefit Cass Community Social Services.

And if you feel like doing this but are too afraid you might look like an idiot, don't worry, this type of event happens all over the country, such as one in Lakewood, Ohio, in early May of this year. So start getting in shape for the run, because this ambulance stops for no one.

To sign up, get in touch with the Student BoG's president, Aisa Villarosa,

Posted in Odds and ends on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 12:00 am. Comments (0)

Wednesday 06/30/2010
VP Biden can't avoid awkward situations

Vice President Joe Biden, who made a speech in Kentucky on Monday, found himself in another awkward public situation, this time when Jim Campbell, the president and CEO of GE's appliances and lighting division, "collapsed and fell off his stool":

It's not the first time Biden has been caught in a situation like this. For instance, he once "referred to his running mate and now-President Barack Obama as 'Barack America.'": He also referred to the health care bill as, "a "big f------ deal":" and in a more recent event, "called a frozen custard store manager a 'smartass.'


Oh yeah, and who can forget when "he told Missouri politician Chuck Graham -- a paraplegic -- to stand up during a speech":

One of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's aides referred to Biden as 'Bite Me' in a recent Rolling Stone article. If the VP is to read this blog, something tells me he'd say something similar.

Posted in Odds and ends on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 12:00 am. Comments (0)