Offbeat

Offbeat

user: The.Rohit / Flickr

If you've spent any time in Michigan, chances are strong that you've enjoyed the beauty of the Lake Michigan.

We've talked to scuba divers, snorkelers, even surfers who love Lake Michigan. Well, how about this: crossing Lake Michigan on stand-up paddleboards.

That's what Andrew Pritchard and four of his friends are planning to do.

Pritchard said the idea started about a year ago. He and his friends decided it would be a fun challenge a great way to raise money. They hope to raise $10,000 for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

The trip would be 58 miles, starting in Algoma, Wisconsin and paddling straight east to Frankfort, Michigan 24 hours later.

They will have a support boat with them, equipment with communication and emergency gear. They will keep food and refreshments on their boards so that they won’t have to step foot on the boat.

Go to here to find out how to support Andrew and the guys in their stand-up paddleboard trek across Lake Michigan.

*Listen to the full interview with Andrew Pritchard above. 

Ari Moore / Flickr

You could say Michigan was built on fur pelts.

Native tribes were trapping animals for fur long before the French founded Detroit in order to control the rich fur trade in the Old Northwest.

We wondered what trapping is like in Michigan today.

Roy Dahlgren is the man to ask.

He's the District 3 President of the Upper Peninsula Trappers Association.

Dahlgren said trapping was at its peak before Michigan was a state, and that Mackinac Island was built to protect the fur trade.

Dahlgren said fur trapping has become a hobby where you can make a little money on the side. There are still some who rely on it as a good source of income.

In addition to supporting today's trappers, Dalhgren’s organization also works to get children involved in trapping.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

judgmentalmaps.com

Want to know where the "Millionaires who like country music" and the "Intensely Boring" live in southeast Michigan? You can find them on this handy "judgmental map."

The wholly inaccurate, satirical map takes a jab at just about everybody in the region. 

It's the latest in a series of "judgmental maps" of major metropolitan regions across the U.S.

Wikimedia Commons

The Pinkerton security firm is one of the legendary brand names in American history. It was founded by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

Pinkerton protected President Lincoln – even discovered a plot to assassinate him in 1861. Sadly, Pinkerton's men were not with Lincoln on that fateful night at Ford's Theatre.

Pinkerton men tracked down Butch Cassidy and the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang and pursued Jesse James. Pinkerton agents were also a part of the historic Battle of the Overpass at the Ford River Rouge Plant in 1937.

Now, the 164-year-old security and risk management company is moving its global headquarters from New Jersey to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Midwest is home for Pinkerton.

Jack Zahran, the president of the company, said that was a deciding factor for the move. Another factor was access to employees with high technological skills, as the company is focusing more on online security.

“We’re not on horseback anymore, and so we are protecting things in a digital space now,” Zahran said.

*Listen to the full interview with Jack Zahran above.

Failure:Lab / failure-lab.com

A story of failure.

Diana Seiger shares her story of failure. She was attacked while bringing her groceries home. She says her failure was not allowing the parents of her attacker to get closure.

Watch her story here:

To learn more about Failure Lab and hear more stories visit failure-lab.com.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan's Grape and Wine Industry Council recognized eight Michigan wines as "best in class" at their recent awards ceremony.

Linda Jones, executive director of the Council, filled us in on the winners.

Among the winners are three Rieslings, a sparkling wine, a dry red that also won last year, a semi- dry red wine, one fruit, and one rosé

The judges were looking for wines that were true to the character of the grape produced in this region.

Here's a list of Michigan's eight "Best in Class" winners:

  • Sparkling: Aurora Cellars 2011 Brut
  • Dry White: Blustone Vineyards 2013 Riesling
  • Dry Red: Peninsula Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc
  • Semi-dry White: Gill's Pier Vineyard & Winery 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling
  • Semi-dry Red: Lawton Ridge Winery 2012 AZO Red
  • Dessert: Black Star Farms 2012 Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling
  • Fruit: 45 North Vineyard & Winery Peach Cremant
  • Rosé: Chateau de Leelanau 2013 Cabernet Franc Rosé

You can find the full list of winners here.

*Listen to the full interview above.

screen shot / Ann Arbor Chronicle

 The Ann Arbor Chronicle news website will end regular publication on September 2, the Chronicle's six-year anniversary.

Mary Morgan is co-founder of the Ann Arbor Chronicle, along with her husband, Dave Askins.

Morgan said the decision was not a financial one. Askins wrote in the column that announced the news that they could keep the Chronicle going if they were willing to put in the amount of effort it took. That question became the deciding factor.

“Do we want to be doing this five years, ten years from now, and the answer was no,” Morgan said.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle featured many stories on local government. The site had about 50,000 visitors each month. Visit the site here

*Listen to the full interview with Mary Morgan above. 

Missy Schmidt / Flickr

Cass Community Services in Detroit has come up with a design that repurposes old tires and turns them into sandals and mud mats.

The city gets rid of some of the illegally dumped tires and folks who need a job can get one. They've got 80 people working on the mats and sandals and plan to add another 20.

That led us to wonder: Where does innovation come from and can you teach it?

Richard Price is the Stanley Seashore Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan. He taught a class called “The Psychology of Innovation: Creating a New Enterprise.”

Flickr/jnn1776

Michigan's female veterans can now take a survey to help policymakers develop services that will better fit their needs.

The Michigan Women's Commission is conducting the survey.

Susy Avery is the executive director of the commission. She says the main goal of the survey is identify service gaps, and fix them.

"I think awareness is critical," Avery said. "So many times when you're hearing a lot of stories about veterans, women are kind of left out of it because they just don't realize that there are so many of them."

User: formulanone / Flickr

This summer, we launched our new M I Curious project. Reporters at Michigan Radio are trying to find answers to your questions.

A few weeks ago, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek looked into why so many people from the Middle East immigrated to Dearborn, and we're in the midst of answering our latest winner's question about the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

But in the meantime, we wanted to give some love to one of the M I Curious runners up. Nick Ochal wanted to know about the origins of the infamous "Michigan Left" turn, the bane of many Michiganders’ early driving experience along with parallel parking.

For the answer, we turned to Joseph Hummer. He's with the College of Engineering at Wayne State University. 

* Listen to the full story above.

A new round of voting ends this weekend. Let us know what you want to find out about or submit a question of your own for our M I Curious project. 

Wikimedia Commons

“The great thing about blueberries is you can pick them, you can freeze them, you know, without a whole lot of preparation, and just pour them on stuff,” says James Hancock, professor of Horticulture at Michigan State University.

If you haven’t guessed, Hancock has a passion for blueberries. In fact, he has spent the last 30 years cultivating the berry.

The blueberry industry in Michigan has been commercially growing berries since the 1900s. In 2011, the Michigan blueberry industry spanned 18,000 acres and yielded 72 million pounds of fruit valued at more than $118 million.

Hancock has developed three of the most widely planted blueberry varieties throughout his three decades at MSU. He breeds high bush blueberries: the Aurora, the Draper, and the Liberty blueberry.

Hancock said his blueberries are not genetically modified. Some are grown as far away as Chile and South Korea.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Emily Fox

  You don’t hear much about Lake Huron. It’s home to what is known as the North Channel. It's filled with hundreds of islands. It's like the Caribbean, but instead of sand and palm trees, you have rock and pine trees. So why does Lake Huron often get ignored when we talk about the Great Lakes the surround our state?

Roy Eaton joined us on Stateside to answer that very question. He's the weatherman and newscaster for the North Channel. His broadcast, Cruisers’ Net, airs every morning at 9 in the summer on VHF radio.

The North Channel is located at the northern side of Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world.

Eaton has sailed all the Great Lakes, Bermuda, Antigua, the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys.  Yet he says Lake Huron’s North Channel is his favorite. The geography is what draws the eye and what lands the North Channel the top ratings of best places to boat in international boating magazines like Cruising World and Sailing.

Mario Batali / facebook

You know the name: Mario Batali – celebrity chef, restaurateur, infamous orange-Crocs-wearer. But what you might not know is that Batali is slightly obsessed with Northern Michigan – Leelanau Peninsula to be exact.

It seems Batali came across Northern Michigan just like a lot of people did. He married a woman and went on vacation back to a place she knew.

“Initially, I was like, well, I don’t know – a lake seemed small … then I got here. First of all, I didn’t realize we were on an “ocean.” Second of all, the water is as blue as the Caribbean. The sand here is as soft as the most amazing places in Hawaii I’ve ever been,” Batali recalled.

"There's a delicious culture of cherries, and there's magnificent understanding of grapes ... Gastronomically, it is very easy to fall in love with this place, because almost everything is delicious."

* Listen to our conversation with Mario Batali above.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Technology is changing rapidly, but the changes that we see today – in phones, cars, and computer software – are not as life-changing as electricity. We went from water wheel power and candles to electric motors and light bulbs in no time at all.

In a recent article in Model D, Amy Elliott Bragg wrote that “by the late 1880s, Detroit was widely considered one of the best-lighted cities in the world.” Now, about 40% of the city’s streetlights are broken and many of the rest are old and dim.

user: The Marmot / Flickr

This summer, many of us are still waiting for Michigan sweet corn. Tom Hulett is known as the "Corn Man" in the Port Huron area. He said people had problems planting their sweet corn due to the cold spring, and that's delayed this year's harvest.

Hulett says we should start seeing more sweet corn in the markets two to three weeks later than normal.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

ARLIS Reference / Flickr

We've just marked the 25th anniversary of one of the most catastrophic man-made environmental disasters, the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

It was just after midnight on March 24, 1989 when the Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound. 11 million gallons of crude oil gushed into the pristine waters.

The clean-up effort was staggering. Among those called to help was U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Thomas Haas. He was a chemist and an expert in hazmat cleanup. Twenty-five years later, that Lt. Commander is the president of Grand Valley State University.

“We had to figure out what clean meant,” Haas said.

Jimmy Hoffa on WESW-TV's Morning Exchange program sometime between 1971 and 1975.
WEWS-TV / YouTube

Thirty-nine years ago this month, Jimmy Hoffa was last seen having lunch at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township in Oakland County.

Retired FBI agent, Greg Stejskal, will appear in the new PBS documentary “Who Killed Jimmy Hoffa?”

He joined us today on Stateside to revisit the mystery of the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance.

Stejskal was a new agent with the FBI in Detroit in the summer of 1975 when Hoffa disappeared. The investigation into his disappearance was declared a Bureau "Special," which meant most of the agents in the Detroit office became involved.

One of Stejskal’s duties was to conduct neighborhood interviews around the Machus Red Fox restaurant, the last place where Hoffa was seen.

screen grab from Rob Cantor on YouTube, Microsoft Paint by Dustin Dwyer

I should have known. 

Two weeks ago, I was making a rare visit to our Ann Arbor office (I live in Grand Rapids), and I stumbled across a video I thought would be great for our website. The video featured a singer named Rob Cantor as he performed – or at least claimed to perform – 29 celebrity impressions in one song. And they were good impressions, crazy good. 

It may only be July, but Michigan has already begun its search for this year's official Christmas tree.

People can nominate their picks for trees that could fit the bill.

Usually 10 to 15 trees are nominated, and the one that's chosen must be easy to access.

But the process isn't a quick one.

The search begins in the summer to allow enough time to prepare, choose, harvest, and transport the tree to the Capitol.

Lauren Leeds is a spokeswoman for the state. She says cutting down these trees often also helps the surrounding area.

U of M School of Music, Theater and Dance Professor Scott Piper (U-M SMTD) and pianist Michael Carpenter at Stamps Auditorium, performing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'
Courtesy of Mark Clague

It’s one of the most stirring and glorious melodies ever sung – and it can be one of the easiest tunes to sing badly.

But did you know that our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” started out as an English club song? And it has officially been the national anthem for less than a century?

Mark Clague is a musicologist with the University of Michigan. He’s been working on a project, “Poets and Patriots: A Tuneful History of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’” 

Today, he shared some of that history with us.

* Listen to the full interview above. 

This segment originally aired on February 12, 2014.

montage of screen grabs from robcantor's YouTube page

Update: Rob Cantor has posted a new video showing how he faked every one of the 29 celebrity impressions, using the voices of 11 different impressionists. I'm a fool.   

How's your work day going? Productive? Ready for a break? Good. 

Rob Cantor is a Los Angeles-based musician who grew up in Michigan.

You might know him as the guy in the yellow tie from Tally Hall, a band that formed while Cantor and his band mates attended the University of Michigan in 2002.

Tally Hall took a run at stardom after signing with Atlantic Records. They had some appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and, as the band's Wikipedia page claims, Tally Hall continues to have a "relatively significant cult following."

More recently, Tally Hall's band members have been working on solo projects, and Cantor is promoting a new solo album.

That brings us to the crazy video Cantor posted today.

Wikimedia Commons

The Pew Research Center tells us that 1 in 10​ Americans has turned to online dating sites.

Some are very general, such as eHarmony or Match.com.

And some get very specific, such as JDate for Jewish singles, or farmersonly.com for ... well, you get the picture.

Bugsy Sailor, a born-and-bred Yooper, realized that finding love in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is challenging.

So he founded yoopersingles.com.

It started off as an April Fool’s joke. But on the first day, nearly 1,000 people had signed up. Sailor realized that this might be something to look into.

“Yoopers are a unique breed,” Sailor said. “We have a culture that is one of its own and it’s a remote area. It’s different meeting people here than I would say in the city.”

Sailor said one of the main challenges is finding someone with the same interests. A Yooper would have to find someone who can handle the mosquito bites and the cold winters.

“If you find love in Florida, it’s kind of difficult to convince them to move to the UP,” Sailor said.

Subscribers list their interests. Some are simple, like kayaking, hiking, or basketball. Sailor said home brewing is big in the UP.  

“Interestingly enough, a large number of users have selected bear wrestling as a potential interest,” Sailor said.

Another question: “How do you like your pasty? With ketchup, gravy or naked?”

*Listen to interview above.

Andrew Filer / flickr

When you think of Jiffy Mix, you may think biscuits and corn muffins. But did you know they are also Michigan made?

Howdy Holmes is the president and CEO of Jiffy Mix. His grandmother is the one who started it all.

When Howdy’s father and uncle, Howard and Dudley, were young, they had a friend who was being raised by a single parent. The young boys invited their friend over for lunch, and he arrived with a bag lunch made by his dad. Howard and Dudley’s mother was concerned about what the father had made for his son.

“She opened the bag and right on top was a biscuit, which she said looked more like a white hockey puck,” Howdy said.

Wikimedia Commons

If owning a jet is something you've always dreamed of, the Detroit Public School system is auctioning off a couple of them.

An online auction being held today by Biddergy.com gives you the chance to bid on a T-39A North American Sabreliner mid-sized business jet. The U.S. Air Force had donated the plane to the school's aeropsace program. Biddergy says it's in fairly rough shape, which is why the starting bid was $500. 

There's also a 1969 American AA –minus its wings. Starting bid is just $50.

Another auction on June 19 will include vintage items from aircraft engines to propellers and more, dating all the way back to World War II.

Biddergy is helping the DPS sell off stuff it just doesn't need anymore. So far, the auctions have brought more than $370,000 to the district.

user: Chris Messina / Flickr

The graduation ceremonies are over, the caps and gowns stored in the back of the closet, and the photos of college grads and proud family members are posted on Facebook. 

Now comes reality for new college grads: the job search. 

And in this digital world packed with social media, the old-fashioned one-page resume and cover letter might not cut it anymore. 

What do recruiters and companies want to see from applicants? 

For advice, we turned to someone who has been a career counselor for 13 years at the University of Michigan School of Information. Joanna Kroll is the director of career development, and she joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Derek Key / Flickr

There's a new effort underway to help the families of Michigan inmates cope with having someone they love in prison. 

It's a pilot program that centers on having someone serve as a liaison between prisoner's families and officials at three Michigan prisons. That someone brings hard-earned insight to what it's like to have a loved one behind bars. 

Lois DeMott's son was a prisoner, so she learned firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the prison system. 

Now, she hopes to help other families with the new Family Participation Program. She joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

XGamesDetroit / YouTube

Imagine the streets of Detroit running rampant with car races, motocross competitions, skateboarding, and other insanity. 

That's what the organizers of ASSEMBLE pictured when they created this video to convince ESPN to choose Detroit as the new home for its summer X Games. 

Despite the epic video, ESPN chose Austin for the games. But the energy and the spirit of the campaign lives on in ASSEMBLE, a group that aims to use community engagement to rebuild Detroit.

One of the recent efforts of ASSEMBLE is offering a way for new voices to become a part of important policy conversations in Michigan – the kinds of conversations that happen at the upcoming Mackinac Policy Conference put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

For those of you who can't afford the $2,700 ticket, ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) could be for you. 

Garret Koehler and Kevin Krease, the co-creators of ASSEMBLE, and they joined us to share what exactly ASSEMBLE@Mackinac(ish) hopes to accomplish. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

– Paige Pfleger, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Escape for Good promotional photo.
Escape for Good.

Here's the challenge: Get yourself from New Orleans to Detroit. In 36 hours. No cash. No credit cards. Just your charm and ingenuity.

Oh, and one other thing: You'll be dressed up as your favorite hero.

It's the Escape for Good charity race, and if making your way from New Orleans to Detroit wearing your Batman suit or Forrest Gump beard, trucker hat and sneakers sounds like your thing, you can sign on now for the race that begins Friday.

Rocco Gardner is the creator of Escape for Good and he joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

Car or human? This "transformer" street performer wants to reassure the kids he's human.
Mark Brush

We in the media world go crazy for anything that might get shared by thousands... nay millions of people around the Internet. 

Entire sites like Gawker, Buzzfeed, and ViralNova are dedicated to getting these shares. The New York Times gazed at its navel and didn't like what it saw. "More shareable content!" they said.

Open Books

It's finally summertime – time to relax on that lawn chair out in the sunshine and read a good book. 

Amazon.com has published its fourth annual list of the most well-read cities in America, and Ann Arbor is ranked sixth.

The ranking is determined by compiling sales data of all books, magazines, and newspapers,  published in print or online. 

At the top of the list is Alexandria, Virginia, followed by Miami, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee. Ann Arbor is followed by other college towns, like Berkeley, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

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