Tag Archives: michigan

Detroit – A Tourist Destination

Can you believe it?

New York Times ranks Detroit as a tourist destination!

Detroit, Michigan
A comeback city set to make good on its promise.

It’s amazing to think that one of my favorite t-shirts & slogans for our fair city throughout most of my life reads, “I’m so BAD I vacation in Detroit”.

When I was growing up, Detroit was notorious for fires, crime, murder, shootings, drugs and violence. Detroit was the murder capitol of the nation. Not exactly something to write home to Mom about. I know that our fair city still has a high murder rate per capita but our local authorities and people are working hard to change this. If you’re coming to town, just be smart, play it safe and keep your whits about.

The Dirty Show Detroit MI
The Dirty Show Detroit Michigan. Where erotica meets art, burlesque and in between.

 

In the 1980’s we used to drive in to the city for a Tigers ballgame in the now gentrified hipster center aka Corktown. We’d park in a secure lot with a guard, watch the game and hightail it out of Dodge afterward. When I permanently moved to the “Metro-Detroit” area in the 1990’s, my family would not even discuss renting an apartment in the city. It didn’t matter that I wanted to be near Wayne State University. I ended up in a small flat in the blue collar neighborhood of Hazel Park. (Which happens to be the home of the Detroit Free Press 2017 Restaurant of the Year, Mable Grey.)  After H.P., I moved around from suburb to suburb, (Troy, Warren, Grosse Pointe Park, Berkley)  before finally landing my permanent residence in Royal Oak.

I know, local “Detroiters” are calling me out right now for not actually living in the city proper. This used to be a big thing around here, suburbanites vs the city. As far as borders go, I don’t really care any longer, as long as we have a prospering economy in our area, that’s the really important thing.

Detroit Michigan Melissa Behring
Detroit’s River Walk, the Rennaisance Center and city skyline.

If you’ve seen Eminem’s 8 Mile film, you know that is the border road of the city vs the suburbs. Downtown Royal Oak is between 10 & 11 mile roads off Woodward. Our location puts me about 25 minutes from downtown Detroit. Perfect for anything I want to do in all of Metro Detroit. Situated at the junctures Woodward Avenue, I-696 and I-75 freeways, Woodward Ave is a popular corridor. It’s one of our cities main traffic spokes running out from the city center on the Detroit River out to Pontiac & beyond. Where I live, I can get anywhere in the Metro-Detroit area in under an hour, give or take the traffic. (Where else in the world can you live in a somewhat urban environment and do that?)

As we’ve traveled around the world peforming for Princess Cruises, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many people who have an opinion on Detroit based on the media coverage, or one brief experience they had a million years ago, or the state of the American auto industry. I started traveling and performing full time for a living in 2011. Just after the auto industry came to a head with the governmental bail out, the actual city of Detoit then went bankrupt in 2013. I listened to so many folks disrespect our city, talk bad about our hard working people. It really bummed me out to hear that people could make a decision without any first hand experience or actual witness facts.

Many people are aware of my obsession with UNESCO & their various heritage sites across the world. I love their compilation book that most recently had an 4th edition update published in 2014. You can check out UNESCO and their other publications online.

” In 2015, Detroit was named a Unesco City of Design. But 2017 may be the year promise becomes reality. The new QLine streetcar is expected to open in April, connecting the central Woodward Avenue corridor some 3.3 miles between downtown and the revived New Center area. It passes through Midtown, home to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the entertainment-focused District Detroit, where a stadium opening this fall will be shared by the Detroit Red Wings and, in a return from the suburbs, the Detroit Pistons. — ELAINE GLUSAC”

Fisher Building Detroit New Center Area
Beautiful interior of the Fisher Building, site of the Fisher Theater, in the New Center area of Detroit.

I’m excited for the new streetcars. However, I’m equally frustrated by this because we have one short circuit tract downtown already… This one still does not really link the city and it still doesn’t get the suburbanites an easy non-automotive route to the inner parts of our city. Funny that so many of the places we’ve traveled across the globe the public transportation is so easily accessed and obvious to foreigners. Here, Metro Detroiters voted NO in 2016 to an increase in our taxes to help link all of our existing travel systems so that there would be easier public mass transportation. I’m still beside myself.

Yet, here we are, Detroit a top tourist travel destination for 2017.

Coming to Detroit? Want an insiders perspective? Want someone in the know who can show you around? I’m happy to help, just email or facebook me!

 

Reflecting on a Pure Michigan Summer

We have had such an amazing summer. The weather has been pretty temperate here in Michigan. There was only about a week where it was unbearably hot and humid. We got to play a few shows around town outside under our bluest skies. We hit both the mitten and the dog. Ours is a #luckylife.

Here’s a rundown of all the places we visited.

Destination Pure Michigan
Destination Pure Michigan

Our summer road trips have taken us almost to the very tip of the Upper Penninsula.

Destination Michigan
Destination Michigan

We trecked “Up North” and visited some of the most rural and beautiful areas in Michigan.

Destination Up North Michigan
Destination Up North Michigan

We also hit the heart of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

Downtown Detroit Michigan
Downtown Detroit Michigan

Here’s a rundown of all the things we like to do in the summer in Michigan.

Detroit Science Center
Science of Rock n Roll Exhibit

On Monday, my friend, Sam, my God Daughter, Gabi and I went downtown to check out the Detroit Science Center. I really thought it would be a fun thing to do while I am being a tourist in my home city this summer. I had never been there. Sam hadn’t visited since she was in the 6th Grade. And Gabi, well, she’s 3. They have been advertising this Rock n Roll Exhibit all over the billboards around the Detroit and also in the local and national papers. Since I’m a musician, it seemed appropriate to visit.

There’s a few things you should know about this little adventure. I don’t spend alot of time around children and I’m biased about Little Gabbers. Gabi’s very well spoken. She’s quiet and speaks in full sentences. She’s a smart girl, very pleasant to be around. She barely comes up to my hips in stature and I’m 5′ 9″. She’s cute as a button and impossible not to fall in love with. But, that’s all coming from “The Godmother”.

Sam, Gabi & Melissa at the Science Center
Sam, Gabi & Melissa at the Science Center

We found a spot to park for free on the street a couple blocks behind the Science Center. That saved us about $15 that we would have given to the public parking attendants. Looks like we now had a budget for a snack inside.

It cost us about $20 each for the adults and $17 for a child pass. These included all of the exhibits, the special Rock n Roll floor and also would have allowed us into a couple of their imax movies. (Not all of them, but a couple select ones.) I had no idea that the Science Center was also an imax. Very cool.

Lights Camera Action Detroit Science Center Michigan
Lights Camera Action Detroit Science Center Michigan

Once inside, there are a variety of exhibits that are very interactive and educational. They have a whole section dedicated to the manufacturing process. (Go figure, manufacturing in the Motor City.) They also have an area about building and road construction. Both of these very male oriented exhibits are right by the door. Guess they figure girls have a longer attention span when they laid out the exhibits. LOL. When you get a bit further in, they have a replica of the Mackinac Bridge you walk across to get to other exhibits.

Mini Mack Bridge
Mini Mack Bridge

As we crossed the “Mighty Mack”, we noticed an ampitheater a few flights of stairs down where they were having an educational session teaching children about food and digestion. On the next floor down on the opposite side, we noticed an actual kitchen lab area where students waited for a Summer Camp teacher to come in and instruct them on cooking methods. Who knew all this in person educational activities existed there.

Couch Potatoes Michigan Detroit Science Center
Couch Potatoes Michigan Detroit Science Center

The stairs to the top floor have motivational words in between each one where it encourages you to keep going because exercise is good for you, keeps you healthy and puts you in a good mood. The top floor is the location for the special Rock n Roll exhibit. You show your passes to the gal by the exhibit door and wade your way through a bunch of road cases. I felt like I was right at home in my basement.

Rock Stars Enter Here
Rock Stars Enter Here

When you enter the room, they have several waist high tables that have headphones and are interactive. You can learn about pitch, tone, and meter at the different stations. The tables were too tall for Gabi, so we skipped them. The next spot had side by side full size Pearl electronic drum kits. They had interactive screens where you could record yourself playing, change the song and control the volume for the headphones. Most of the instruments that you could play and interact with had headphones to hear. I’m sure that they were trying to help it not be a completely miserable noise factory up there.

We really dug the station where you can remix the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. It’s not just because I am a huge Bowie fan either. It was helpful to explain to a young person who is learning the different channels and groupings used in the recording process.

Along the center of the room they have some historical artifacts on display categorized by decade, the 1950’s, they show an acoustic guitar and some other Bill Haley things. For the 70’s they had 8 track tapes. For the 80’s they had a newspaper clipping for the day John Lennon was shot. The 90’s focused on grunge, and so on. These cases were also just a bit too high for Gabi to see in. But we did pick her up to see inside and explained the cultural significance of each item to her.

Rock n Roll Science Exhibit 1980 John Lennon Detroit Michigan
Rock n Roll Science Exhibit 1980 Detroit Michigan

On the far side wall of the exhibit, they had four vocal booths set up with windows and headphones to view and hear what’s going on inside. When you got in the booth, there were four songs to pick from. Of course, a Marvin Gaye Motown hit, “Heard It Through The Grapevine”, then the home state, Michigan hero, Bob Segar’s “Old Time Rock n Roll” and a hard rock classic “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath. We put on the headphones, stood at the mic and howled our lungs out trying each track. They actually had a way to record a video and audio track to email yourself. I’m still waiting for our videos and photos to come through. It sure would be a nice memory to have as silly as we were.

Detroit Science Center Michigan Travel
Detroit Science Center Michigan Travel

Last but not least, they had a huge performance room with a monster video screen that you can watch live music videos on. I also heard that on Sunday they had the kids from School of Rock in Royal Oak performing there. (We missed that.) But Gabi loved dancing and running in circles to the music. We signed the guest book and walked through the exits to see the rest of the exhibits.

Thanks, Detroit Michigan Science Center for providing an opportunity for young people to learn about the acutal creation of the music that they listen to every day.

A Rundown of Famous People from Michigan

The other night, we went to a Bruno Mars concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills. When “Bruno” introduced the band, ended up that the guitar player was from Detroit. Then a week or so after, we went to Meadowbrook to see FUN. Turns out one of the songwriting guys in that group is also from Michigan. So I started thinking about all the folks who were born in Michigan and ended up being pretty well known in the entertainment business.

For instance:

Jeff Daniels, Actor
Madonna, Pop Artist
Bettye Levette, R&B Singer
Ted Nugent, Rock Artist
Bob Seger, Rock Artist
Kid Rock, Rock Artist
Eminem, Rap Artist
Chad Smith, Drummer from Red Hot Chili Peppers
Aretha Frankly, R&B Singer
Smokey Robinson, R&B Singer
Vinnie Dombrowski, Rock Artist
Tim Allen, Actor

I am sure there are many others that I am forgetting… But this is a good representation of the talent that has historically been produced by the Mitten.