At the end of a long week spent mostly behind a computer, I was completely stir crazy on Friday night. As Alvin and I contemplated our first weekend night of entertainment, sedentary activities (bars, shows, etc.) looked like our only options. I couldn’t deal! I was prepared to chuck all the amazing happenings to run sprinting drills down our hallway!

Until we came up with roller skating.

Thirty minutes after a google search, we were at the incredible Detroit Roller Wheels. On Gospel Night!

You guys, seriously. This roller rink is awesome. You probably want to go there as soon as possible. The rink itself is enormous and really well maintained — no potentially maiming bumps or crevices. (This is important because it turns out my meager skating skills haven’t spontaneously improved since the last time I was on skates in 1992. Alvin, however, is an evil genius on eight wheels. Who knew?)

Detroit Roller Wheels is affordable ($6 gets you in the door, $2 for skate rental) and the tunes are bumpin. Read: GOSPEL NIGHT. I could totally be persuaded to go back every week — any takers?


We rented a tandem bicycle:

Then we got engaged:

While wearing helmets.

You can’t be too careful!

ALVIN: We headed to Hamtramck for the evening to check it out. We started the evening at Detroit Threads, which is totally sweet. You want skinny ties, 70s leisure jackets, cardigans galore, or fine hats for a summer wedding? You can find it at this vintage store. The owner was super friendly and the prices were quite reasonable. I’m excited about the glasses frames I got there this evening and I’m definitely planning on returning soon.

Detroit Threads in Hamtramck

ALLISON: Hamtramck is a “city within a city” (see the mayor’s very adorable, recent dance) a la the Vatican and is only a couple square miles surrounded on all sides by Detroit. (Oddly enough it’s not the only city that Detroit has phagocytocized — there is also Highland Park.)

Hamtramck is known for its Polish, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian heritage, so for dinner, obviously, we had Mexican food. We scored some delicious vegetarian burritos at Maria’s Comida, which you will love! The owner tells us they are launching a new menu next month that will include Asian-Mexican fusion. Sign us up! We are so there!

Mexicasian is hen hao, Senor!

Maria's Comida: currently delicious Mexican; future Mexican-Asian fusion!

ALVIN: We stopped on the way home to wet our whistles at The Belmont, a fine bar offering amongst others great local beer from the Atwater Brewery. I give the Dirty Blond two thumbs up, while Allison enjoyed her Double Down Imperial Amber as much as Paul McCartney’s immortal Bond anthem, “Live and Let Die.” The best money we spent on the jukebox all night! But if we had a dollar left, and if it was open, AAAAAANNNDDDD if we weren’t vegetarian, we would have totally bought some kielbasa from Kowalski’s Sausage Co.

"You know, Vinnie knows sausage."

It's my Polish doppelganger's sausage shop in Hamtramck.

ALLISON: We finished our Hamtramck field trip with a gorgeous night bike ride back downtown. We caught the nearly full moon peaking out from behind the Ren Cen overlooking the people mover. It was a really great moment, and we took a picture so that we could share it with you.

Doo doo doo doo doo...doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo doo...

Ren Cen in moonlight

ALLISON: I have decided not to purchase a car (let’s see how long I can hold out!), and so we are a one-car household in The Motorcity. Besides, we really like to bike, so we’ve been tooling the town on two wheels in fine alliterative fashion.

ALVIN: Totes! Technically, our tooling began this summer not in Detroit, but with a trip back to the Cleve for the MS 150 Pedal to the Point. Having since expanded to eleven members since I did this with my friend & roommate Vikash 2 years ago, Team I Like Bike rode from Cleveland to Sandusky and back again in one weekend, covering a total of 150 miles to raise money for the National MS Society. The weather was mostly sunny, and Allison & I took advantage of our free tickets to Cedar Point to check out the latest, greatest roller coaster technology of 1989: the Magnum XL. That 200 ft drop totally rattled my GameBoy!

Team I Like Bike

ALLISON: With our new and improved bike short tans, we participated in Critical Mass on August 27th. Massive indeed! We got to explore new corners of our new city with several hundred other riders. My favorite part of Critical Mass is the answer to the inevitable question from automobile drivers: “Why do you ride?” Everyone’s answer is different: for peace, for climate change, for safe bicycle and pedestrian access to roads, for exercise, for fun. What are your reasons for riding a bike? Will you join us this month?

ALVIN: Just last weekend, we rode up from our downtown pad to Royal Oak for the phenomenally popular Arts, Beats, & Eats. A reporter friend of ours mentioned that in its first 2 days, AB&E had more attendees than in its total 4 days last year in Pontiac. Score one for Detroit festivals and Royal Oak! Plus, our route (primarily up 2nd Ave and the side roads just east of Livernois) was super easy riding – it’s interesting that the big roads with wide shoulders make it easy for both cars and bikes to get around. Plus with greenways such as the Dequindre Cut providing an easy way for people to get to & from Eastern Market, I’m surprised Detroit didn’t make Bicycling magazine’s Top 50!

ALLISON: We spent a gorgeous Labor Day afternoon biking to and around Belle Isle. Belle Isle on Labor Day is an excellent combination of smoky barbeques, family picnics, and reunions. We took our tennis racquets and played on the gorgeous free tennis courts. (It was my second time playing tennis ever. I’ve decided to learn. I’m probably the best tennis player you’ve ever met.) We saw so much great bird life – geese, sparrows, herons, pigeons, and ducks. I love birds, and I was only too happy to spend my labor day with them, Alvin, and my trusty bike.

You can almost see the heron standing in the water if you squint OR if you retook the photo with something other than the camera on your iPhone.

ALVIN: And if this post has you feeling like dusting off your own trusty two-wheeler, join us Saturday, September 25th for the Tour de Troit. This relaxed and easy 30+ mile ride is an excellent way to see first-hand some of the cool things happening in Detroit. Allison thoroughly enjoyed this last year, and I’m really looking forward to it this year. Hope to see you there!

…or digs in space.

ALLISON: Since today is moving day (eek) we want to update you on our last – successful – trip to Detroit: the trip where we found a place to live and fell in love with a little bit more of the city. This trip was focused on downtown living options. Not to cut to the chase too quickly, but we found a sweet pad! A downtown high rise with a view of the river and just a few quick strides from the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is my absolute favorite new development in Detroit. How great is it to have the gorgeous river’s banks be totally accessible to all Detroiters? I am hooked.

“From Downward Dog, raise your arms into Ren-Cen pose. Center yourself.”

Milliken State Park is a nice patch of green along the river. A warehouse looks on in admiration.

ALVIN: After touring around a few apartments downtown (at one point in our walk we found these crazy mushrooms growing under one of the roadside bushes), we headed to a sunny lunch outside at the new Campus Martius Fountain Bistro. Allison tells me there is ice-skating in the winter here, but lunch beside the running water in the summer is all right by me.

ALLISON: On Saturday morning I ran one of my favorite 10K races: the Oak Apple Run. My team won!

ALVIN: Also in Royal Oak is a great community theater company called Stagecrafters, where we caught their end of the season rendition of Mel Brooks’ The Producers (NB: this is not to be confused with Mel Gibson’s autobiographical new production “Beating a Dead Career Some More.”).

ALLISON: As we left we stopped by local shops Hansons and Moosejaw. We are now set for lots more runs along the Riverwalk and our upcoming trip to the Appalachian Trail. Thanks, Hansons and Moosejaw!

All in all, it was a great trip, leaving us excited about our Detroit days to come. We’ll be official residents on Monday — hope to see you around!

Hey Detroit Concertgoers,

A quick plug for a performance of a new musical “The Story of Job” sung by the Michigan Concert Choir. It’s based on the old testament book, which you might think, wise biblical scholars that you are, is pretty dark material for a musical. But we saw Sweeney Todd, didn’t we, and that worked. So, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Here are the details on the recently added performance:
     The Story of Job
      June 19, 2010
     7:00 pm
     Royal Oak First United Methodist Church
     Cost: $0.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention this show features my dad in a heavenly role. I am biased, but daughterly predisposition aside it is a great show. I caught one of their performances several weeks ago, and I give it 5 out of 5 leprotic boils.

In other news Alvin and found a place to live; moving day is July 19th! More on that soon!

Sounds like Youngstown is doing a lot cool urban renovation. Read more about it here (and try to ignore the slightly impatient tone the author has with Detroit):

How do you think Detroit should handle its vacant and abandoned property?

Here are some follow-up thoughts on the 2010 Michigan Land and Prosperity Summit.

First, the stats:
Location: Michigan State University
Attendees: 250
Shape of butter pats: Spartan helmets.

The substance:
The day as a whole was lots of food for thought. More than I could address here. However, I heard two major themes emerge from the conversations:

  • The quality of place matters, and Michigan has that quality of place.
  • Transportation options are what make a neighborhood livable and there is a tremendous opening in the market now for walkable, transit-oriented communities.

In their words:
“Place matters. Place assets matter.”
Soji Adelaja, Director of the MSU Land Policy Institute

“Urban land is not a disposable commodity.”
Daniel T. Kildee, President and CEO, Center for Community Progress

“Transportation drives development. Transportation dictates what we build.”
Chris Leinberger, Visiting Fellow at Brookings Institution

Think of the problem in a portfolio. Incorporate time. For some aspects of the problem you need to have patience and for other aspects of the problem you need to push forward.
Lou Anna Simon, President of MSU

“We are not going to succeed as a state without a successful Detroit.”
Bill Rustem, President and CEO, Public Sector Consultants

Other resources:
I highly recommend plugging in your address to obtain your walkscore. The Walk Score team currently ranks the walkability of our current and future homes 14th and 23rd, respectively, of the 40 largest cities in America. Chris Leinberger of the Brookings Institution also cited several data sets demonstrating that improvements in walk scores boost property values. I am convinced!

Also check out this very striking map of the Chicago region by CO2 emissions per household. Households in the far suburbs produce more than 4 times more CO2 than households in the city! If you look closely the red dots on the map spell the words: “please ride a bike.”

I’ll just close by giving a shout out to the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute for hosting an awesome day. Feeling pretty good about Michigan’s future. What are your thoughts on the role of land use in the economic recovery?

Happy Earth Day, everyone. I am headed to the 2010 Michigan Land and Prosperity Summit tomorrow. Anything you would like me to bring back? Send me your questions!

Allison watching the rest of us feebly trying to match her dominating featherbowling prowess!

Allison watching the rest of us feebly trying to match her dominating featherbowling prowess!

All of these were taken with my iPhone — something that has turned into one of the most fun things to do with the li’l gadget. For more cool info about snapping sweet pics using the iPhone, check out the iPhoneography blog.

Here are some rando photos featuring our current homeslice, Cleveland.