Our Ann Arbor Halloween came and went without much notice, at least in our neck of the woods. Knowing we were staying in that evening - and not wishing to draw the wrath of disappointed youth upon our rental property - we loaded up on candy and drew straws to see who would be on door duty first. We needn’t have bothered. There were only two small groups of miniature monsters and we were left with pounds of candy we fobbed off on the Wallace House Tuesday evening. Our candy paled in comparison to that evening’s meal, which was prepared by Fellows Jamie Butters (Detroit Free Press) and Vanessa Bauza (Florida Sun Sentinel, Havana) – along with tremendous help from Amy Butters and Lisa Rapaport. Jamie gave us a little Detroit flava with Coney Island hot dogs to start along with his specialty pizza which entails a proprietary cheese mixture that requires St. Louis’ own provel “cheese.” It was followed by a Cuban-style treat from Vanessa, including ropa vieja, rice, beans and plantains with mango ice cream and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. One thing’s certain – the fellows know how to down some food.
Today, I was one of only two spouses (props to Sedat!) to drag their lazy asses out of bed and show up at the Wallace House by 7:30 am for a trip into Detroit. (My apologies to the spouses who had legitimate reasons, such as children or even classes, for staying at home. Really, I’m just out to get Rainey for skippin’ out.) I wasn’t really entirely prepared for the day we had ahead of us because Chris "misplaced" his itinerary, so when I took my seat on the bus I wasn’t entirely sure what we were in for. The answer was: a long day, with much to see. We started off with a trip to the offices of Bloomberg News . Yes, the technology they have is impressive. Yes, there are many fascinating applications for Bloomberg in the fast-changing world of news. But, man, the truly notable part of that stop was the fully-stocked kitchen they have for employees and visitors. I mean, who offers their workers free cans of Dinty Moore stew? Almost no one, that’s who.
After a short stop there, we boarded our bus again and headed to the Detroit Free Press where we got to interrupt their morning news meeting. The most challenging part of that trip was finding the bathrooms, but native son Jamie “Black Eye” Butters helped me out with that one. I was actually very impressed with a brief talk given to us by Executive Editor Caesar Andrews – especially since he’s a Gannett player. He has a clear and passionate vision for and sense of what a newspaper should be and what its role is – its obligation, in fact – in and to its community.
Next, we trotted off to Focus: HOPE, a truly impressive non-profit operation that is, in their own words,
“a nationally recognized civil and human rights organization in Detroit, Michigan. Our mission is to use intelligent and practical action to fight racism, poverty and injustice.”
We got a tour of their quite massive facilities for education and manufacturing, child care and education and food assistance. The highlight for me was having the chance to chat briefly with a woman who has coordinated the volunteers for the food assistance program for more than two decades. For the life of me, her name escapes me, but when it comes to people who are forces for good in this world – perhaps for no other reason than because it’s the right thing to do – she’s the real deal.
After a brief time-killing tour of some of downtown Detroit – during which area residents John Bacon and Butters tried to out-dazzle one another with their tour guide talents – we arrived at the Department of Homeland Security. And that, my friends, is the sum total of what I’m allowed to tell you about that visit without risking immediate revocation of my green card and ensuring a swift escort back to the motherland. Although, I’ll risk it all to tell you that I got a dandy souvenir pin from ICE (that’s Immigrations & Customs Enforcement, for those of you who aren’t “in” with the government.)
Since none of us here seems quite used to getting up and going quite so early – everyone seems to have easily and willingly forgotten the routine of having a job – we were all quite knackered by the time all was said and done. It didn’t stop us yakking on the way home about our upcoming week which includes what is for us a rare Tuesday night without a KWF event.
For Chris and I, and a couple of others in the group, it means we can actually go to the Jeff Tweedy show at The Michigan Theater . It occurs to me that I haven’t done much writing about music here – largely because we haven’t seen any shows. Ann Arbor, like many college towns, gets some great acts but, for some odd reason, most of them seem to be on Tuesday or Thursday nights when we’re usually booked. But I’m eager to check out some of the venues, including The Ark , which draws a really admirable range of acoustic talent.
In addition, a few weeks back, each Fellow got to request a pair of free tickets to one of a number of upcoming University Musical Society events. So we’ve got tickets to Youssou N’Dour’s Egypt this Saturday at 8 pm at the Hill Auditorium. Looking forward to that one. There’s just no shortage of fabulous events to take advantage of in this li’l town – it’s just a matter of working them into our busy schedules!