Saturday, November 17, 2012

CHRISTMAS IN DETROIT...a beautiful thing!

The beauty and splendor of a giant Christmas Tree!
Photos by Michele

The Christmas holiday season in Detroit got off to an amazing start on Friday, November 16, 2012, with the lighting of the giant Christmas Tree. The City of Detroit, along with Integrity Productions, transformed Campus Martius into a happy winter wonderland. As your official "Barometer of Fun", I gave you all plenty of advance notice to come downtown and join in on the festivities! Well, I missed most of you, but the thousands of people who DID make the effort were treated to a special kind of Detroit love! Please read the link below for a full recap and a video.

As a rule, Christmas tends to bring out the best in people anyway. Detroit is a city that is generally not high on the fun barometer, but it is now. Every square inch of the downtown is literally covered in twinkly lights...the trees, the facades of the buildings, even the sidewalks are stenciled with giant snowflakes! We have a band shell and an ice skating rink! Live music is scheduled to play all weekend, both inside the festivity tents and out. There are dozens of REAL Christmas trees all decorated and everything else is trimmed in boughs of REAL holly or wrapped up as gifts! The downtown is spotless and everyone is being NICE to each other!
So sweet!

Our band shell.

The signage was amazing!

 I want to emphasize that Integrity Productions is an event promoter and they really went out of their way to make sure Christmas Wonderfest Detroit exceeded expectations...and it did! From the show lay-out to the cooperation of security and the treatment of the artists participating in the Marketplace, everything was perfect! Every area of the tents where people congregated for music, food or the full service bar was comfortably heated.  I want to extend a special thank you to them, and to my friend ROBERT STANZLER from DETROIT MERCANTILE, who invited us to be a part of this show. We made a ton of money and had fun doing it...and trust me, I KNOW fun! This is nice, clean fun suitable for hipsters and families, and hipsters WITH families! Young or old or somewhere in the middle. And it's pretty much all FREE!

The Marketplace!
The food and cocktails and music booth!
 The Kaleidos performed all night!
If you have the opportunity, try and make it down to Campus Martius this weekend or next. And don't forget that on Thursday, November 22nd...Santa Claus comes to town! Please check for more information on hours for the Marketplace in the link below.
The artist marketplace rocked!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

KROGER IN THE shopping at its finest.


 If you have read any of my blogs over the past year you may have noticed my infatuation with fancy grocery stores! As long as I have to take part in the mundane task of buying groceries, my logic is that I may as well have fun doing it. I've shopped in grocery stores all over the country from Los Angeles to New York City. From South Florida to Franklin, Tennessee! Lovely locations with plenty of attractive stores. All I wanted was that my local grocery shopping possibilities would be on par with the rest of them. Other than my shabby, over-priced neighborhood store, I was forced to drive almost 40 minutes north to the nearest "nice" Kroger in Troy, or maybe 30 minutes west to Dearborn; neither of which were all that great for my grocery shopping experience. Mediocre at best! But I met this guy and he told me all about this wonderful new Kroger store in a place called The Village in Grosse Pointe, only 15 minutes away from my house!  I took his suggestion and it was a huge surprise: grocery shopping at The Kroger store in The Village Grosse Pointe is like grocery shopping in a scene from a fairy tale where I am the beautiful princess! Finding this Kroger store was one of the best things to happen to me in the twelve years that I've been grocery shopping in the metro Detroit. 

Located on a pristine block in a magical little town, the Village Kroger is about as convenient as you can get. I easily access the I-94 freeway heading east from downtown Detroit and after several exits, I'm in the parking lot ready to go inside and shop! Once inside, you will be delighted in how clean and bright and shiny everything is there. I like to call it a "boutique" Kroger! Each department is neatly arranged and kept well-stocked and spotless and they actually have real humans working there.  You can  find someone to help you when you need them and they seem to like their jobs! It's not a HUGE Kroger store, but I don't usually need to buy that much food. The food I do buy is usually fresh or gourmet stuff and they have plenty of that on hand! Even their FREE SAMPLES are amazing! I brought my husband, Carl, along with me this time and he devoured a yummy piece of cake on a stick while standing dutifully guarding my cart!
Sample of cake for Carl!

I'm a princess. This is my princess Kroger store.

Really clean and shiny!

We bought the crab legs AND the crab cakes!

I just love this place.

 Don't get mad at me, but I can behave like a complete snob when I want to! In fact, shopping at this Kroger is a lot like shopping on Rodeo Drive! Fabulous people driving expensive cars buying only the best! You can sense from this clientele that price is no object. It also appeared to me that some people actually got "dressed up" to shop here! I liked it. Even if I don't actually fit that lifestyle, for a few brief moments I could PRETEND that I did! The ability to escape is a great coping mechanism and I have fun doing it. Then, when it's all done, I load my groceries into my make believe classic Jaguar and it's back home to my make believe McMansion on make-believe Lakeshore Drive! Of course my reality is the complete opposite, but at least my 'fridge is stuffed with crab cakes, chicken salad, olives from the olive bar, fresh fruit and flowers. Yum! There is even a Starbucks right across the street from this Kroger and you can go there first and sip your latte as you shop! If you are ever having grocery shopping anxiety and need a break from the usual crappy stores you are accustomed to, hurry over to The Village Kroger on Kercheval, just a little east Cadieux! Maybe I'll see you there! You know what they say, "retail" is the best therapy. In my case it's a pretty grocery store!

In conclusion, you can read all the reviews you want to about this divine little star in the grocery store galaxy in the link below! Check out YELP! 

This is Mary and I.
She was my really nice grocery check-out person.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

JANIE GOT A GUN...No wait. I did!

Good Morning World! Michele bought a shotgun and is still alive to write about it! Please keep in mind that this was NOT an "impulse" buy. Carl and I have had "buy a shotgun" on our list of "wants" for several years now. I just can't believe we didn't do it sooner. Let's get one thing straightened out here...I am not taking the gun on the road! I am not going out to shoot Bambi or little duckies; it's purely for HOME DEFENSE. We're going to take it out of the box, load it, and prop it up next to the bed!

 I live in Detroit. I didn't name it The Murder City, but that's what we are best known as! As a twelve-year resident, I have come to appreciate a lot of things about living in the "mean streets", and I've learned to accept a lot of the downright ugly.  Let me tell you a few stories...

While sitting on my couch one afternoon, I heard a shot coming from across the street. A single shot. I didn't pay that much attention to it. I should have. A few minutes later, I heard the sirens approaching outside and to make a long story short, the owner of the Fine Arts Theater was murdered. Execution-style. Taking a bullet to the head. I didn't have to watch the CSI on the television because I just pulled a chair up to my window overlooking Woodward and watched the whole CSI thing go down from start to finish, FOR REAL! From interviewing the witnesses to the arrival of the entire forensic team and the flashing of the camera inside, to when the coroner wheeled the body bag out to the truck and drove away. I heard and saw the last hours of this woman's life. And you know me...I marched myself across the street and gave testimony and then I got myself filmed and made a spot on the nightly news!

To a lesser degree of murderous activities in my 'hood: a body was found shot in the alley off of Temple, about 1/2 block away. Dismembered body parts of two women were found dumped in a stairwell of a crumbling decaying mansion on Park Street, a block away. I heard six rounds off of an automatic weapon fired into a car parked two doors down...dead man in the morning. Countless fights and acts of aggression and yelling and screaming all around our house. Everyday. Seriously, if you ever need the police in Detroit call me first, because I will usually find a squad car parked nearby! I AM LIVING YOUR REALITY TV.

 My house is large and the yard is surrounded by high spiked wrought iron fences. However, we have crummy windows and an average front and back door. The doors are not that secure. We have the ever attractive razor-wire aptly placed on the fences in the back parking area. But it's not fool proof. Since you can't call the police in Detroit and expect them to come to your rescue, we finally decided to fortify and establish our own practical defense system. Is that so wrong?

I am going to learn how to be an effective and well-trained shooter but it's not like I am going all hunter and cammo gear on you! I want to learn how to load and shoot and clean my gun.  I am not giving up on Detroit and moving to the burbs. I realize the "zombies" are everywhere, not just in the Cass Corridor! But I am loving exercising my Second Amendment Rights, and you can too! One thing though, I am not going to say "just shoot me" anymore. That might not be quite as funny now!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

MY POLITICAL RANT...ranting is what I do!

Thursday, November 7th, and the aftermath of the national elections seems like it was so long ago. The amount of unnecessary ridiculing, name-calling and hate mongering directed towards Mitt Romney and his family was truly one of the most hideous displays of ignorant behavior I have witnessed in a long time. And in the big picture, things haven't changed from one day to the next. I just took the opportunity to clean out my junk drawer of creepy people based on how small-minded they were. I have lost a lot of respect for certain individuals who appear to be prejudiced, biased and  downright mean.

What I noticed about the immediate follow-up after the acceptance speech is that a certain faction of  people seemed overjoyed at the idea that President Obama "won". The gloaters were all about "we won" and the other side "lost". Well, here's a little memo for you to post on your fat heads...there are no winners or losers in an election: it is our right to vote and it's our civic duty to do so. What I also seemed to notice is that a lot of people at the polling places were just concerned with filling in that little circle for "president" and then skipping all of  the referendums that would more closely affect our lives on a LOCAL level. And so I pose this question to you all: did you actually vote BEYOND president and vice-president? Did you all actually READ and VOTE on the entire ballot? Most people in my neighborhood did not because it was really long and hard to understand! 

And one more thing, let me be the first to admit that I am sketchy on world politics, so I can't even begin to tell you my feelings about Syria or Palestine or Pakistan or Afghanistan or ANYWHERE in the Middle East. I am not too interested in world finance either. I am usually busy ranting or reading rants on Facebook instead of picking up a copy of The Wall Street Journal! And you know what else? I am usually too busy spending time watching bands in bars or going to art shows instead of watching PBS, World News or listening to NPR! So for me to say who "won" or "lost" is moot: I don't really KNOW who or what I won or lost.

For people of color, your right to vote was hard fought for and a lot of people shed their blood for you just so you could get into that polling place. It's only been around forty years since Americans came to their senses and the battle for Civil Rights was fought for and equality was "won"...and we are still fighting that fight. I sincerely hope that you voted from a personal space that wasn't influenced by promises of what you could get out of the system. And don't go getting she's all "racist' on me, because this applies to everyone. Half of the campaigning was "fear mongering" about what we were going to get or give up or what was going to happen to us if we voted for one guy or the other.

One more thing, I am a Baby Boomer and my age demographic now makes up over 50% of the population. Do you have any idea what Social Security really means? It is much more complicated than that ridiculously small stipend we'll be getting once a month when we turn 62! And as for women's "rights", we will always "have the right to choose". A president cannot just "overturn" Roe v. Wade. It takes The Supreme Court to do that...and even then, abortion has always been legal and available somewhere...I ought to know or I'd have, like, four kids right now and that was never going to happen!

In conclusion, I am happy that the country came out and did what it was supposed to do and I fully support President Obama and his beautiful family. There is no better place in the world to live than America. Just ask anyone who has a fled from another country why they are here and not somewhere else. And if you ever get fed up with the way things are being run here yourself, think about where YOU would want to go! The little blue speck is still spinning in a big universe and we are all still trying to survive.

While you are at it...please remember that the entire NORTHEAST COAST is suffering terribly from a national disaster that has been played down by the media because of the elections. Is there anything we can do to help? There must be something.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

THE CONFESSIONAL...I'm just saying.

Who at one time doesn't feel like they resemble this painting by Edvard Munch? Internally or externally? It certainly does appear that the subject is losing his mind. However, that wasn't the actual interpretation the artist himself had of the work... but its my interpretation and I'm sticking with it. The Scream is from a school of Expressionist painters and was done sometime around 1863. Munch created the painting long before Sigmund Freud came on the scene. Had Freud established his psychological theory, I'm sure he would have had a thing or two to say about this piece of art!

I feel I am beginning to resemble the person in the picture. I feel like I am losing my grip on reality and I am sinking fast into an abyss. I am desperately trying to shut out the the cacophony of my thoughts, because they are absolutely making no sense to me anymore and they are interrupting my life. I place my hands over my ears and I simply cannot shut out the noise. I hear the same admonishing words over and over again. "You are such an idiot? How could have you done that?" It makes me feel sick. I keep asking myself the same unanswered questions. What? Why? Jesus? Are you nuts? My behaviors are interfering with my daily activities. Hard as I may try, my reality seems to be slipping away. Lucky for me, I have an extensive collection of psychology books and the updated Diagnostic Statistical Manual for diagnostic mental health treatment plans laying around. Thus, I am pretty sure I am able to diagnose myself: it would appear from the symptoms that I am suffering from an Anxiety Disorder. 

                                                         DEFINITION of ANXIETY

I have always been slightly over the edge. Nothing too serious. If I were a dog, I would probably be a Boarder Collie. I am just so hyper that no amount of exercise or work will ever tire me out. I could herd sheep in perfect order all day long, catch a million flying disks thrown at me and stare into space waiting for more. But I'm not a dog. I am a woman. I am so competent, focused and conscientious its even driving me crazy. I can't relax. I want everything to be perfect. I am short-tempered and  over-compensating. I am actually ruining my life.

The cause of these behaviors are obviously acute stress and a little bit of a guilty conscience. I have various stressors that I can't seem to cope with. Financial worries, an eating disorder, college, and a dysfunctional marriage. Of course, we all have stressors in our life, but evidently I do not have the necessary skills to manage them. So, from time to time, I freak out and say and do things I regret. Then, I have to pace around wracked with guilt trying to figure out a way to clean up all my messes and try and repair all the damage done to relationships. 

 We all have plenty of neurotic friends and family members that we are willing to forgive and forget...but I don't think I am that lucky. My friends and family seem to expect a lot more out me and I know that I am letting them down. It's horrible when I think how I have allowed my emotions to get the best of me and I can't even find a way to control them. I know all of this, and yet...I wish I could write myself a huge prescription for Xanax.

In various treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse (of which I have neither), the first step in recovery is letting go and letting God and admitting that you are powerless. I admit to and fully accept the consequences of my actions, but I need to purge myself in writing and just put it "out there". I have written poems and journals and song lyrics, hoping that it would take away some of my pain. It hasn't. I remain a really pretty picture on the outside. Inside is The Scream.


I know I am loved, but I also know I've been kind of shitty to people who have meant a great deal to me. Please understand this and if I am ever shitty to you in the future, just slap me and call me out on it. I don't mean it. I am probably just transferring (a coping skill). And to those of you that have had the misfortune of seeing me at my worst, I will be coming around to apologize. I don't expect you to like me, but please just try and forgive me. Peace.