Offbeat

Offbeat

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

“It is a first for me with this amount of money,” Grand Rapids Treasurer Al Mooney said (he's been treasurer for more than 20 years).

The anonymous donor sent the cash to make amends for “minor vandalism” he or she took part in years ago.

The short, typed letter reads,

“Minor group vandalism many years ago. Cannot remember specifics or even if I did any damage, but I think one of the street signs was taken.”

Inside the envelope, with no signature or return address, were five $20 bills.

(photo by Beverly & Pack) / Flickr

State insurance officials are urging Michiganders to keep their financial liability in mind when they host Independence Day festivities this weekend.   

The Fourth of July weekend, a time to fire up the barbecue, take friends on the pontoon boat and toss the kids in the back yard pool.   But are you covered just in case something goes wrong? 

Gaelan Kelly

Who doesn't wonder what public radio hosts actually look like?

Gaelan Kelly, an artist, went ahead and took a stab at making portraits of various hosts.

Here's the description from Kelly's website:

Well I'm sure we all do this with the voices on the radio, we (for some reason or other) get a mental picture of that person and it sticks.

The shock is when we actually end up seeing the face behind the voice and our mental image is shattered forever!

Clean Works Project

Jun 27, 2011
Robert Scales / Flickr

All year, Michigan Radio has been talking with people about projects and efforts that are having a positive effect on the state. Today, we hear from Ruth Olsson, a long-time volunteer for the Clean Works project in Grand Rapids.  The main goal of the project is to reduce the rate of HIV.  To do that, it runs a needle exchange program where drug users can turn in used syringes, and pick up a clean one.

Michigan Radio was very pleased to learn that the station won one of 3 RTDNA/UNITY awards for the Muslims in Michigan project. The award is presented to honor outstanding achievements in the coverage of diversity.

The Muslims in Michigan project was formed out of a partnership between Michigan Radio and the University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies. The five part radio series examined life for Muslim people living in Michigan. Beyond religion, the series also explored the cultural, political, ethnic, and social lives of this diverse group. The project also featured film events, speakers, and a community conversation.

You can find out more about Muslims in Michigan series at the story's website.

A 'Master Plan' for Midland's youth

Jun 20, 2011

The city of Midland has a plan.  A “Youth Master Plan.” It was created by educators, clergy, police, parents, and others in the community to help kids in Midland. As part of Michigan Radio's What's Working series, we speak with Dick Dolinski, one of the founders of the Plan.  He’s president of the Legacy Center for Student Success. For more information, and to contact Dick about starting a Master Plan in your community, click here.

 

User cccpstorm / Flickr

Here are some highlights from this week’s programming, in case you missed them. 

“You and me, pal. We’re the loonies.”

Mark Taylor / Flickr

Our lives our busy. Who has time to read the myriad of license agreements tossed up on our computer screens by the websites we visit each day?

Well, now's the time to slow down, relax, and really take in the construction and word choice used in some of these documents.

Academy Award winner actor Richard Dreyfuss brings gravitas, a little crazy, and some Nazi to the 40-page iTunes end-user license agreement.

You can hear Dreyfuss ply his craft below (thanks to CNET).

Please read:

Your responsibility:

Damages:

Effective until:

Should the state of Michigan’s liquor control commission be allowed to ban the sale of a certain beer based on its name? That’s the question a federal judge in Grand Rapids will decide, following arguments this week.

People can buy several kinds of Flying Dog beer in Michigan already; In-heat wheat, Doggie Style pale ale, and Horn Dog barley wine for starters.

The state of Michigan argues the name of Flying Dog’s latest beer is a “sexist, derogatory and demeaning portrayal of women.”

Alan Gura is the brewery’s attorney.

 “The liquor commissioners don’t happen to like the name of Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch beer. They think it’s very offensive, we simply think that’s too bad.”

Warner Bros.

An amazing story from Jackson, where a man lifted a minivan off of another man who had been trapped underneath it when his jack collapsed.

From the Detroit Free Press/Associated Press:

"Authorities say a quick-acting man lifted a minivan off a 50-year-old who was trapped underneath when a jack collapsed in Jackson."

Flickr user Davichi

Sometimes getting caught can be a good thing.

A kayaker on the Manistee River in the northwestern Lower Peninsula recently was stopped by officers who were checking canoes and kayaks for safety equipment. The Department of Natural Resources says a man was adamant that he didn't need a life jacket or any other flotation device.

Just moments later, he flipped his kayak and landed in 51-degree water. Conservation officers Steve Converse and Sam Koscinski pulled him into their patrol boat and took him to shore.   

Utility crews from Ohio and Indiana are helping crews restore electricity in Michigan today. Consumers Energy says around 70,000 homes and businesses in Mid-Michigan are without power following severe storms in the area Sunday afternoon. That's down from 108,000 originally.

Jay Jacobs is with Consumers Energy. They’re working to restore power to tens of thousands of people near the cities of Lansing and Battle Creek.

Rina Miller / Michigan Radio

Harold Camping runs the Family Radio network of religious stations. He wants you to know that the end is near.

Camping says Judgment Day will be May 21, 2011.

The 89-year-old broadcaster has created quite a stir. Some people are taking his warning literally and they're trying to persuade the rest of us to take heed.

But others are having fun with the idea. They're throwing end-of-the-world parties and planning for post-Rapture looting.

And then there are the folks who take it all in stride -- no more so than in Hell, MI.

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department is refusing to pay $750,000 to a Michigan insurance company for a Ferrari that was wrecked in Kentucky during a drive by an FBI agent.

In a recent court filing in Detroit, the Justice Department says it's immune to tort claims when certain goods are in the hands of law enforcement.

The 1995 Ferrari F50 was being stored in Lexington, Ky., as part of an investigation into stolen vehicles. A prosecutor says he was invited by an FBI agent to ride in the vehicle in May 2009. He says the agent lost control, and the car landed against bushes and a small tree.

Southfield-based Motors Insurance Co. says the Ferrari is a total loss. The next court hearing is June 13 in Detroit.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Yesterday, we had a Batman in Petoskey.

Today, we have a faucet switcher in Flint.

As Hunter S. Thompson once wrote "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. "

They're going pro in Flint.

This from the Flint Journal:

A man told police on Monday that someone mysteriously switched the faucet of his kitchen sink, according to a larceny report filed with Flint police.

The man told police he went into his kitchen at 9 p.m. Sunday and noticed a different faucet installed at the home on Colonial Drive near Fleming and West Carpenter Roads.

The man didn't know when or how the faucet was changed, but that it was a different one according to the report. The man told police he has insurance.

Staff here at Michigan Radio came to work this morning surprised to see that their faucet had been switched as well (see photo 1).

It now has one of those twisty-turny things screwed onto to the end.

Fortunately, we caught the copy-cat bandit red handed - Chief Engineer Bob Skon (see photo 2).

Skon said he was merely modifying the faucet so water would not flow onto the counter when people wash their hands.

Yea, right... save your story for the police.

CNN

I was going to put the superhero The Flash's catchphrase here, but apparently he doesn't have one.

Geoff Johns' catchphrase might be "I earned it."

Johns, hailing from Detroit, MI, received his degree in Media Arts and Film from Michigan State University before moving to Hollywood, where he worked with film director Richard Donner on movies like Conspiracy Theory and Lethal Weapon 4.

All of this happened before he decided to be a full-time comics writer.

Petoskey Department of Public Safety

A man dressed up as Batman was arrested in downtown Petoskey today after hanging off the wall of a building, according to the Petoskey News-Review.

The man was spotted while hanging off the wall of a building.

He was arrested and charged with trespassing and possession of dangerous weapons.

From the News-Review:

The Colbert Report

National attention has been drawn to Michigan lately, largely due to continuing coverage of the Emergency Financial Manager law by MSNBC news show host Rachel Maddow.

On Monday, that national attention got a boost when Stephen Colbert made Governor Snyder and the controversial EFM law the focus of his “The Word” segment.

Colbert focused on the recent application of the new EFM managers powers in Benton Harbor.

NPR

How many times a day do you wonder what a Spaghetti Western soundtrack would sound like composed by Danger Mouse and featuring Jack White's signature vocals? Forty? A hundred?

Whatever the number is, you can stop wondering. Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi are on the verge of releasing Rome, a Spaghetti-inspired album which features vocal performances by superstars Norah Jones and Jack White.

Bernt Rosad / creative commons

There’s another effort underway to get more people to move to the city of Detroit.

This latest one is called 11-11-11, as in: 1,100 new Detroit residents by November 11, 2011.

Mykl Roventine / Flickr

If you catch a special kind of walleye, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will pay you $100.

The MDNR implanted 400 walleyes with microchips in lakes Huron and Erie so they could track fish. The walleyes also sport an orange tag attached to a back fin.

If you catch one of the fish, contact the DNR during business hours.

And if you plan to have it for dinner? Don't eat the microchip.

User cccpstorm / Flickr

Time again for your weekly roundup

"Without A College Degree, Hard-Pressed For Jobs"

Senior producer Mark Brush liked this Morning Edition feature from Zoe Chace about young people struggling to find jobs in an economic recovery in which the opportunities for young people seem to be constantly receding.

"The Tamale and the Tire Iron"

Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris suggested this moving story from The Splendid Table, about a man whose car breaks down and the generosity of the people who stop to help.

"Have Terry Check Your Head"

For my part, I wish that I could say my favorite something serious like the international hour of the Diane Rehm Show's Friday news roundup--because the commentary was illuminating, thorough, and diverse--but I'd be lying if I said my favorite piece wasn't Terry Gross's interview with the Beastie Boys, which included a fascinating (no, seriously) discussion on how the single "Fight for Your Right" garnered the group some surprising fans, and not the kind they were really looking for at the time, and some interesting facts about the ways in which the group's follow-up album, Paul's Boutique, didn't satisfy some of their listeners.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

"The Book of Mormon" official website

The broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" led the field of Tony Award nominees with 14 nominations.

The musical, written by "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, may seem like a surprising choice, considering its liberal use of profanity and controversial religious content.

The Associated Press (via MLive) reports:

User cccpstorm / Flickr

There's no way to catch everything that Michigan Radio airs during the week.

Here are some highlights from this week's shows, in case you missed them!

“The Fed: Policy and Transparency”

On Wednesday, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke held the first news conference in the Fed’s 98-year history.

On Thursday, Diane Rehm spoke to a panel about the conference’s contents, its historical significance, and the effectiveness of the Fed’s recent economic policy decisions.

Trying to improve Detroit's grocery stores

Apr 25, 2011
Pneedham / Flickr

All this year, Michigan Radio has been taking a weekly look at things that are working to improve the state. Today: we take a look at food and Detroit. The city has been called a “food desert,” because of its lack of grocery stores. One group has been trying to change that. Sarah Fleming is the program manager of the Green Grocer Project. It was launched a year ago by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and we asked her how it's going.

mconnors / MorgueFile

Free wine and beer samples may soon be regular features at Michigan grocery stores. A law passed last November allows businesses already licensed to sell wine and beer for take-out to apply for an additional license to distribute free samples. This includes supermarkets and party stores.

screen grab of YouTube video

flash mob - n - a group of people who organize on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse; also called inexplicable mob

Cindy Heflin at AnnArbor.com spotted this one - a "flash mob" performance on the University of Michigan's Diag:

The performance was coordinated by students and sponsored by online graduation announcement company GoEnnounce.com.

About 70 students danced to Rusted Roots' "Send me on my way," GoEnnounce said in an e-mail...The performance was choreographed by Erik Heitz, a musical theater major.

Hard to say whether 70 dancers constitutes a "mob" - which according to Websters is a crowd "bent on riotous or destructive action."

Seems more like a "flash dance" to me, but that name's been taken.

user westsideshooter / Flickr

Gun rights advocates will gather at a Detroit restaurant Monday night for an “open carry” dinner.

Organizer Rick Ector runs Rick’s Firearm Academy in Detroit and the blog Legally Armed in Detroit.

Ector says the dinner is a “family-oriented” event meant to make “law-abiding” Detroiters aware of their right to openly carry guns in many public places.

“There’s a significant percentage of people that do open carry in Detroit. But primarily when you hear about open carry, it’s done outside of the city limits. And for those individuals who are really specifically inside of Detroit proper, I wanted to be the voice out there sharing this information.”

Michigan law doesn’t explicitly permit open carry, but doesn’t forbid it either. Those carrying openly must have a registered weapon “clearly displayed,” be at least 18 years old, and stay out of designated “pistol-free zones.”

The Bluepointe restaurant on Detroit’s east side is hosting the dinner, which Ector says he initially thought would draw about 50 people.

But he says the event has gotten so much attention he now has “no idea how many people will show up.”

Google Maps

Don't have the phone number? Just Google it.

That modern day phenomenon led callers seeking information from the Internal Revenue Service to accidentally dial a small airport in Sturgis, Michigan.

The FAA airport code for Kirsch Municipal Airport in Sturgis is "IRS."

If you type in a search for IRS on Google Maps, you'll get the airport's phone number.

Andrian Chen wrote about the mix-up on Gawker.com:

"The phone calls started two months ago, and it was just a trickle at first. Since then it's grown to a deluge of "20 to 50 calls a day" from people with tax questions, according to a weary-sounding office manager named Becky who took the time to talk to us this afternoon...

The calls haven't been a huge issue, Becky says, but she's getting sick of them. "It's just irritating," she said. "Most of them calling aren't the most intelligent, calling us at 7pm on the weekends. And it's like, do you seriously think the IRS is going to answer their phone at 7 on a Sunday?"

Becky will be glad when tax day ends at midnight tonight.

She may, or may not know, that if you need to file an extension, form 4868 is the paperwork you seek.

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