Offbeat

Stateside
4:42 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Why is Detroit lacking in French influence?

Hurlbut Memorial Gate Detroit MI
Andrew Jameson wikipedia.org

A few centuries ago it was not uncommon to hear Detroit referred to as "The Paris of the Midwest."

Just look at the history of Detroit and you can see that there are good reasons to link Detroit and France. The city’s early settlers were, by and large, French and French Canadian. But unlike, say, Quebec, Montreal, or New Orleans, there is no special "French feel" to Detroit beyond some French street names.

We wondered why Detroit's modern identity is so lacking in that French influence. For some insights, we turned to Guillaume Teasdale, a history instructor at the University of Windsor.

Listen to the full interview above.

Made In Michigan
1:46 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Snowboarding had its beginning in a Muskegon, Michigan garage

Sherman Poppen, the inventor of the "snurfboard."
Screen capture from YouTube

The Sochi Winter Olympics are just days away.

One of the most popular competitions is undoubtedly snowboarding, which joined the pantheon of Olympic winter sports in 1998. 

But there might have been no Shaun White, the "Flying Tomato," grabbing Olympic gold for the U.S. without a man from Muskegon looking to give his little girls a reason to play outside in the snow.

The snowboard is another "Made In Michigan" story.

Listen to Sherman Poppen explain how the snowboard started.

"I took these two small skis and put them side by side and put a brace across them to hold them together, and something to put your foot against," said Sherm Poppen.

Poppen was the dad who got creative in his Muskegon garage some 48 years ago. "We literally started sliding down a hill standing up."

His wife named the new toy "snurfer" by combining the words "snow" and "surf."

Fourteen years later, Jake Burton Carpenter came to a contest in Michigan and saw the snurfers. He then went back to Vermont to make his own "snurfboards." 

"I wrote him saying the word 'snurf' and any derivative thereof belongs to Sherman Poppen and if you want to keep making these things you're going to have to pay him a royalty," Poppen said.

"That was probably one of the dumbest things I ever did, because he stopped making 'snurfboards' and started making 'snowboards.'"

Here's a longer interview with Poppen:

We want to hear from you. What surprising things do you know of that were invented or made in Michigan? We want to feature them as part of our "Made in Michigan" series.

Offbeat
1:04 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Looking for an offbeat vacation?

Tawas Point Lighthouse
Credit Peggy Allen / Tawas Point State Park

Live the life of a Victorian-era light keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse.

That's the lure in an announcement this week that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications for 2014.

Volunteers stay in renovated living quarters in the lighthouse. The accommodations  include two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom. In return, volunteers pay $250 per week and lead tours of the lighthouse or perform maintenance work.

Read more
Offbeat
11:33 am
Mon February 3, 2014

So is there 'anything more American than America'? A look at Chrysler's Super Bowl ad

Bob Dylan in Chrysler's latest Super Bowl ad.
YouTube

"Is there anything more American than America?"

That was the opening line of this year's Chrysler ad featuring Bob Dylan during last night's Super Bowl.

People reacted quickly to the head-scratching question on Twitter:

Read more
Offbeat
4:16 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

Ever consider being a lighthouse keeper?

How would you like to volunteer as a light keeper at the 138 year old Tawas Point Lighthouse? The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced this week it's accepting applications for 2014.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Live the life of a Victorian-era light keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse.

That's the lure in an announcement this week that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications for 2014.

Volunteers stay in renovated living quarters in the light house.

In return, they pay $250 per week, and lead tours or do maintenance work.

Read more
Offbeat
5:29 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Michigan woman discusses employment, disabilities with President Obama

Leatrice Fullerton and her two kids.
Facebook

At the start of our State of Opportunity Project we spoke with Leatrice Fullerton, a single mother with two children.

She earned a master’s degree in social work, but had difficulty finding employment when we last spoke with her. Fullerton also faces the additional challenge of being blind. The good news is that she now has two part-time jobs. 

Today, Fullerton participated in a Google chat hosted by President Obama. She asked the president what his plans were for including people with disabilities in the work force. 

All Things Considered host Jennifer White spoke with Fullerton.

Offbeat
2:13 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Fourth grader sworn in as Detroit Police Chief for the day

Detroit's Police Chief for the day is nine year old Jayvon Felton - a fourth grader who is fighting leukemia, but one day hopes to fight crime as a Detroit Police Officer.

This morning Jayvon made his way to work by helicopter, taking a ride from Coleman A. Young International Airport, over Belle Isle, Comerica Park and the Ambassador Bridge. Upon his arrival, he was greeted by a group of Detroit Police Officers, Felton's classmates from Roberto Clemente Academy, and Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

Read more
Offbeat
11:13 am
Tue January 28, 2014

First 'snow day' in 36 years; University of Michigan students rejoice

U-M student 'Elsa the Snow Queen' reacts to the news.
user kajeburns Twitter

It's similar to a 100-year flood event. It just doesn't happen that often.

So when it does, students celebrate. That's what happened last night when the University of Michigan called off classes for the first time in 36 years. 

The student journalists over at the Michigan Daily collected the best reactions on Twitter to the news.

Here are the best stunned faces, celebratory waffles, and trips to the liquor store:

Read more
Stateside
2:15 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

What's your biggest failure? Andy Soper shares his on Failure:Lab

Andy Soper in the promotional video for his Failure:Lab story.
YouTube

Andy Soper from Failure:Lab Grand Rapids.

Failure:Lab is a new event that's been happening in Michigan and is spreading outside the state.

It's a program designed to get us thinking about the meaning of failure, to realize that failure happens to everyone and perhaps to inspire us to take intelligent risks.

From their website:

Each storyteller shares a personal failure in under nine minutes. The storyteller doesn’t share a lesson, blame-shift, or talk about where they are now.

Today on Stateside we hear from Andy Soper. He works with the Manasseh Project, developing programs to address the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.

After graduating from Bowling Green State University and without a job, he decided to join the Army – an experience that did not end well.

This is the story that Soper shared at Failure:Lab Grand Rapids on May 23, 2013 at Wealthy Theatre:

Offbeat
10:30 am
Tue January 21, 2014

New study: Nowhere close to 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit

Reporter Sarah Cwiek's excellent guard dog, Mencken, hails from the streets of Detroit. While strays are a big problem in the city, new data suggest previous "wild dog" estimates were hugely inflated.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Personal photo

An animal welfare group says there are far fewer “wild dogs” running Detroit streets than many have suggested.

Detroit has captured national headlines in recent months for its stray dog problem, with some reports estimating the city was home to at least 50,000 dogs roaming the streets.

Read more
Made in Michigan
1:29 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Did you know that 'Gumby' has Michigan roots?

Gumby in the episode 'Lost Treasure.'

You know this guy, right?

The beloved Gumby was created by animator Art Clokey. His son Joe Clokey joined us on Stateside today to describe how Michigan inspired his dad to come up with Gumby.

Listen to our interview with him here:

Read more
Stateside
4:15 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Fate of 'Arthur Miller' house in Ann Arbor got us wondering, why do we love famous people?

The former house of playwright Arthur Miller
Ross voxphoto Flickr

Why do we care so much about famous people? What they wear, what they eat, how they live?

Well, there is an old house in Ann Arbor where renowned playwright Arthur Miller lived while he was a student at University of Michigan and there are those who are intensely interested in preserving that house.

The house is right next to the U of M's Institute for Social Research. The university's expanding the Institute and wants that old house out of the way. And if they can't get someone to buy it, it will probably be demolished.

This story got us thinking about just why we tend to care so much about celebrity homes and just what is behind our seemingly bottomless fascination with celebrities.

We're joined today by Daniel Kruger. He's a professor and a researcher at the University of Michigan and he's done research into that fascination we have for famous people.

Stateside
3:30 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Red Ryder Daisy Air Rifle made in Michigan

The Daisy Wall was torn down in November of 2013.
Plymouth Preservation Network Facebook

In the Wayne County city of Plymouth, a group is trying to preserve the last remnant of a factory that was once a deep part of the community - the Daisy Manufacturing Company.

Fans of the film "A Christmas Story" may recall the Red Ryder Daisy Air Rifle.

Yes, that red rifle that Ralphie pined for would have been made at the former Daisy Factory.

Joining us is Wendy Harkins. She is president of the Plymouth Preservation Network.

Offbeat
10:45 am
Fri January 10, 2014

America's top female chess player to face off against kids tonight at the DIA

International Grandmaster Irina Krush.
user Eldacar Flickr

America’s top female chess player will be competing against 50 children tonight at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

International Grandmaster Irina Krush will be playing simultaneous matches, or simul, against 50 members of the Detroit City Chess Club, the Associated Press reported. Members of the club, ranging from elementary school students to high schoolers, have earned impressive awards of their own, including two recent state titles.

In December, Detroit Public TV was awarded a national grant to cover the Detroit City Chess Club, following the team and the impacts of chess on the students. The short documentary will be shown at the DIA later this year.

Can’t make it out to the DIA tonight for the chess extravaganza? No worries. For players looking to boost their chess skills at home, Krush released a series of pun-tastic training videos entitled “Krushing Attacks.” 

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Offbeat
11:23 am
Wed January 8, 2014

World notices that a) it's cold, and b) Michigan has a city named Hell

The headline makes it in print. The photo behind the headline is not of Hell, Michigan. It's the lighthouse at St. Joseph, Michigan.
Steven Clark Twitter

Hell, Mich., got down to 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit during the deep freeze, and headline writers around the web jumped for joy.

The BBC has a short video describing how "Town of Hell Freezes over in the US."

Time Magazine declares, "It's Official: Hell Has Frozen Over."

Read more
Offbeat
5:08 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Even the Fairy Garden Village of Ann Arbor couldn't escape the snow

Fairy Garden Village of Ann Arbor evacuated due to heavy snow.
Credit Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

No word on the whereabouts of the fairy village warming centers... or whether fairies have water pipes in their houses.

Offbeat
2:25 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Michigan digging out as arctic blast sends temps falling

Next year, maybe buy a snowblower
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

As Michigan descends into an arctic freeze, many cities and towns are struggling to clean up after Sunday’s big snowstorm.

“It’s just too dangerous for city residents to be outdoors,” Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero told reporters at a news conference today.

Bernero said many residential streets in Lansing are “impassable.”

“As we all remember from the 2011 storm, it takes a minimum of a couple days to clear all 440 miles of roads in the city,” Bernero said. “It will take at least a couple days this time as well. So we ask city residents to please be patient. Be safe.”

Read more
Offbeat
1:39 pm
Sun January 5, 2014

Up to 15 inches snow predicted for Michigan, then temps plunge to -15

Got Milk? Many Michigan supermarkets sold out before the big storm hit.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The harshest winter conditions in 20 years are heading for Michigan's Lower Peninsula, with up to 15 inches of snow forecast for parts of the state followed by temperatures diving as low as minus 15.

The National Weather Service predicts "the coldest temperatures Southeast Michigan has experienced in about 20 years."

It says snowfall will total 8-15 inches by late Sunday and a drop in temperatures of up to 45 degrees by Monday.

Michigan residents have been crowding stores seeking supplies.

Read more
Offbeat
1:42 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Blue Christmas for tens of thousands of Michiganders without electricity

Brrr! About 150,000 Michiganders still waiting for their electricity to be turned back on
Consumer's Energy

About 150 thousand Michigan utility customers have spent another cold day waiting for their electricity to be restored.    

Sunday’s ice storm left almost a half million Michigan homes and businesses without electricity. 

As of midday, approximately 125,000 Consumer’s Energy customers were still without electricity.  About 20,000 DTE Energy customers and 7,000 Lansing Board of Water & Light customers were still in the dark as well.

Debra Dodd is a Consumer’s Energy spokeswoman.  She says linemen are doing the best job they can in very cold conditions.

Read more
Offbeat
6:54 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Thousands still without electricity in Michigan

2013 ice storm
Consumer's Energy

About 250,000 Michigan homes and businesses remain without power after a weekend ice storm that blacked out at least 482,000 homes and businesses and may have caused a Delta jetliner with 180 people on board to slide off a taxiway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The wintry blast hit Saturday night. The utilities say it will be days before most power is restored because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

DTE Energy says 56,000 of its affected 150,000 customers were off line.

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