Best of Detroit 2013
Public Square - Reader's Choice
Reader's choice for Metro Detroit
Published: March 20, 2013
Best Overlooked Local Story
Bill Schuette’s war against medical marijuana
The local roller derby scene
We have to admit, the world of local roller derby hasn’t gotten much ink from us over the past year — although a bevy of these hard-rolling gals did form the pictorial core of our Best of Detroit issue two years ago. Please accept our mea culpa for the oversight in 2012, ladies. You are a tough bunch — even those of you in the overlooked Darlings of Destruction junior league — and we sure don’t want you rollling our way with mayhem on your minds. As for state Attorney General Bill Schuette and his energetic efforts to narrow the scope of the state’s medical marijuana law — which was, we should point out, overwhelmingly passed by the people of this state — there’s no doubt that it is an important story. Though the issue might not have gotten much attention elsewhere, MT’s Larry Gabriel has kept a close eye on the legal issues (as well as other aspects) involving medical marijuana in his “Higher Ground” column every other week.
Best Local TV News Station
WDIV Channel 4
With the rock-solid Devin Scillian and Carmen Harlan (more about her below) in the anchor chairs, and the team known as the “Local 4 Defenders” on the job (not to mention a bevy of other well-seasoned reporters), ClickOn Detroit is the station that clicks with our readers when it comes to TV news. It’s also the place to be at 10 a.m. Sundays, when Scillian hosts Flashpoint, which features a roundtable discussion of the week’s hottest topics.
Best Local TV Newscaster
WDIV Channel 4
We love our Carmen Harlan, who’s billed as WDIV’s “most recognizable face.” And a lovely, freckled face it is. But the Mumford High and University of Detroit grad brings much more than her good looks to the anchor desk. She is what we expect in a news anchor — a steady, dependable, intelligent straight shooter who is dedicated to the community she helps keep well-informed.
Best Hair on a Local TV Newscaster
WDIV Channel 4
We suspect its not just the coiffure, but the movie-star gorgeous face beneath it that inspired our readers to give her the best-hair nod. But what’s most impressive is she does the ’do she does despite having to start her day at 2 a.m. to make it into the station in time to anchor WDIV’s morning news show. It is unfathomable to us how anyone could have a good hair day rising at that ungodly hour, but this Detroit native does it with apparent ease and impeccable style.
Best Local TV Morning Show Personality
It’s hard not to notice the playful twinkle in Jason Carr’s eyes, a look that suggests he’s enjoying some joke the rest of us aren’t quite in on. That fun-loving spirit is just what folks are looking for in the host of a mid-morning program, called “The Nine,” that bills itself as “part talk show, part morning radio zoo, part newscast.” Grab yourself a bowl of bacon and join in the fun.
Best Local Radio Personality
Best Local Radio NewsI Talk Show
Craig FahleI The Craig Fahle Show
Here’s the thing we find most impressive about Craig Fahle and the show that bears his name: The live weekday broadcast, which airs from 10 a.m. to noon (and is repeated in the evenings from 7-9 p.m.) is an amazing amalgam of arts, culture, music and the most current of hard news — and Fahle manages (wih the help of hard-working producers Joan Isabella and Amy Miller) to sound like he is well-informed about everything, no matter what’s being discussed. The questions are insightful (we know, because we’re on the air with him for the final segment every Wednesday) and the phone-in debates are vigorous. This is public radio at its best.
Best Local Radio News Station
With news director Jerome Vaughn at the helm, and senior news editor Quinn Klinefelter, plus Pat Batcheller manning the mic in the mornings and MT alum Travis Wright at the desk during All Things Considered in the afternoons, the crew at WDET makes sure we’re up to date about everything local worth knowing.
Best Local Radio News Reporter
We’ll let the lady speak for herself:
“Next to God and my family, WWJ is my life. It is a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place to work … always something new, unexpected, sometimes frightening, sometimes funny. Always challenging! You can hear me Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.” That enthusiam and dedication comes across the airwaves, which is why people keep tuning in, and why our readers gave her their vote.
Best Local Radio Music Show
Ann Delisi’s Essential Music
If you are going to be listening to music on the radio on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ann Delisi’s show is, well, the essential place on the dial to be. Charming and extremely engaging, she serves up what’s described as a thoroughly hand-picked combination of great contemporary music and the classics you need to hear. ADEM features music made in Detroit, along with live in-studio performances, interviews and special features.” At a time when so much on the airwaves is canned and prepackaged, Delisi and her show bring us life, live.
Best Local Sports-Talk Radio
Valenti & Foster
WXYT-FM, 97.1 (The Ticket)
Mike Valenti and Terry Foster are the kings of local sports-talk radio for good reason: They make a great team, bringing a kind off yin-yang vibe to the show with Valenti as the designated hothead — he once went on an epic, 12-minute tirade aimed at his Michigan State Spartans — while Foster, who also writes for the Detroit News, is the older, cooler head.
Best Professional Athlete
When it comes to hitting, you can forget the arument about Cabrera being the best the Tigers have and start talking about all of baseball. In helping lead his team to the World Series last year, Miggy became the first player to win baseball’s Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski accomplished the feat in 1967. Cabrera, a right hander who made the move to third base to make room for power-hitter Prince Fielder, batted his way into the ranks of the truly elite by leading the American League in batting average (.330) home runs (44) and RBIs (139). The American League MVP award last year was well-deserved. But we want more of you, Miggy — we want that world championship. Get out there and help bring it home. We’re counting on you.
Calvin “Megatron” Johnson
Forget the readers who joked about the best Lion being Simba, or at the Detroit Zoo. After years of futility, capped by a major dropoff last season by a team that had finally seemed to have some real promise, there are plenty of places for disguntled fans to point the finger of blame. Calvin Johnson, however, isn’t one of them. Megatron is flat-out awesome, a fact even the most ardent Lion-haters would have to admit. Last season, on a team with a pitiful running attack and few other offense weapons to attract the attention of defenses, Johnson smashed the receiving record set by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in 1995, becoming the first player in NFL history to gain more than 1,900 years receiving in a single season. Simba, our ass. There is at least one geat Lion in Detroit, and he is Megatron.
Best Red Wing
Considered to be one of the best one-on-one players in the NHL, Pavel Datsyuk is the only Red Wing remaining from the team that brought home the Stanley Cup in 2002. But he still has jaw-dropping moves — a coast-to-coast goal against the Nashville Predators earlier this year proves that — and he can still use his stick the way a magician wields a wand, making the amazing happen.
OK, given the sorry state of the Detroit Pistons these days, being considered the top pick in this bunch isn’t exactly the same as being singled out as the best of the Bad Boys. But at 6 feet, 11 inches, and 280 pounds, the center from UConn is a big man who can move, and there aren’t a lot of those in the world. He’s been hampered by back injuries in this, his second year, but among those who know the game, he’s seen as a young player with enormous potential. The best reason to hope the Piston’s might have a brighter future? Maybe so.
Best Local Amateur Athlete
Tiny Ninja, Detroit Derby Girls
This year’s Best Of honors are a repeat performance for the jammer known as Tiny Ninja (aka Christina Lulianelli) of the Detroit Derby Girls. She won in the same category last year as well. Having earned an appearance in the Drew Barrymore movie Whip It, the tattooed TN is obviously a fan favorite. Keep those wheels rollin’.
Best Coach or Manager in Michigan
If all you did was listen to the fans who call in to the local sports-talk radio shows, you’d think that Jim Leyland is an idiot. Which only goes to prove what idiots a lot of the people who call into sports-talk radio shows. The Tigers lose a game and the phone lines light up: “Why didn’t Leyland call a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the ninth?” some yahoo will bellow. Here’s the difference between that yahoo and the man we affectionately call “The Skipper”: In the history of Major League Baseball, only seven managers have won pennants in both the American and National Leagues; Jim Leyland is one of them, while you, Mr. Yahoo, are not. He has his name attached to a world championship (with the Florida Marlins, in 1997), while you, Yahoo, do not. He led the Pittsburgh Pirates to three straight division titles, and has three times been named Manager of the Year. What about you, Yahoo? We thought so. So shut the hell up, will you please? Because, above and beyond all his certified accomplishments, Leyland comes across as a true Stand Up Guy, taking the heat for slumping players, never, as far as we can tell, thowing them under the bus. As far as we’re concerned, our readers hit this one out of the park.
Best Bowling Alley
4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit;
Talk about aging gracefully. This marks the 100th year they’ve been setting up pins and knocking them down over at the Garden Bowl, which is part of midtown’s Majestic entertainment center. Built in 1913, it can lay claim to being “America’s oldest active bowling center.” Over the years it has evolved from being considered a “working man’s country club” to the home of Rock ’n’ Bowl, where DJs spin and you roll. There’s even a stage suspended over the lanes for bands to play on. What more could you want? Glowing lanes, you say? You got ’em.
Best Local Music Festival
Movement Electronic Music Festival
May 25-27, 2013
Hart Plaza, Detroit
This is it, the big kahuna. The Movement festival draws countless technophiles from all over the globe for a fabulous few substance-fueled days, with both classic and groundbreaking recording artists tracing three decades of electronic music history. And if that weren’t enough of a draw, the various parties, afterparties and all-night shindigs turn Detroit into a 72-hour party that — like all great Detroit parties — just doesn’t stop.
Best Place to See a Mainstream Film
Emagine Royal Oak
200 N. Main St., Royal Oak
What sets Emagine Royal Oak apart from other moviehouses? Amenities, baby. We’re talking luxury seating that allows you to reserve your spot ahead of time. There’s also D-BOX Motion Seating, which uses high-tech motion systems to synchronize the movement of your seat with the film, bringing you right into the action. Better still, the Royal Oak location offers alcoholic beverages, a nod to adults who want a little mixer with their movie.
Best Place to See an Indie Film
Main Art Theatre, Royal Oak
118 N. Main St., Royal Oak
Year after year, the Main Art Theatre is picked by our readers in this category. There aren’t many frills here other than your usual popcorn and Jujubes. What there is, though, is programming. In fact, Main Art has remained so committed to bringing the very best in foreign and independent film to metro Detroit, it’s a first stop for anybody serious about the genres. And it also hosts local film events, such as the Mitten Movie Fest. And for the cultists, there’s the appealing Midnight Madness film series that runs all summer long.
Best Local Film Festival
Ann Arbor Film Festival
Various locations, Ann Arbor; 734-995-5356; aafilmfest.org
Though film festivals such as Sundance have become virtual farm-team feeding systems for Hollywood and — to a degree — have codified “indie film” as an aesthetic, there’s the contrasting example of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. As our film writer Corey Hall once put it: “Ann Arbor maintains essentially the same vision it began with: serving as a showcase for eclectic, independent, experimental and utterly uncompromised works of art.”
Best Place to See Live Local Theater
4743 Cass Ave., Detroit
This is sort of a surprise choice. Given that Detroit has its share of professional theaters, such as the Detroit Rep, the Ringwald, even Ann Arbor’s Performance Network, it’s interesting that our readers went with this rotating repertory graduate theater. It must be the excitement of seeing actors grow into their craft — and it can’t hurt that Mario’s is right down the street. (And, no Detroit City Council wasn’t an acceptable answer.)
(Now called Lake St. Clair Metropark)
31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Twp.
A perennial favorite among our readers, the beach at what’s no longer (officially) called Metro Beach is just one of the attractions at this splendid, 770-acre Metropark. Be it windsurfing or kiteboarding, bicycling or swimming, basketball or horseshoes, miniature golf or shuffleboard, or just strolling along the boardwalk, there’s something here for everyone. Along with the Olympic-sized swimming poll, waterslides, squirt zone and nature trails, the place also offers great people-watching opportunities. There’s few other places in the Metro area where this melting pot that we are is more on display. It’s a joyous, peaceful place.
Best Place to Bike
Dequindre Cut and Detroit Riverfront
In 2009, what used to be a Grand Trunk Railroad line reopened as the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a 1.35-mile long strip that connects the Riverfront to the Eastern Market. With separate lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists, there’s plenty of room for everyone along this 20-foot-wide paved pathway. The turning of the riverfront into a public place has been one of the biggest improvements to Detroit in recent years, and the Cut is part of that.
Best Nature or Hiking Trail
2240 W. Buno Rd., Milford; 810-227-8910
Be it cross-country skiing in the winter or hiking the rest of the year,
Kensington Metropark, with its 4,481 sprawling acres of wooded, hilly terrain surrounding Kent Lake, is definitely a great place to go if you are looking to get your nature on.
Best Public Golf Course
Rackham Golf Course
10100 W. 10 Mile Rd., Huntington Woods; 248-543-4040
Rackham, which opened in 1923, was designed by Scotsman Donald Ross. Flat and walkable, the course still offers a workout — and a challenge. Trees, deep roughs and unexpected sand traps ensure a player’s skill will be well tested. But with rates peaking at $36 for 18 holes in the summer, the one thing this course will be easy on is your wallet.
Best Disc Golf Course
5975 Edward N. Hines Dr., Northville
Hudson Mills Metropark
8801 N. Territorial Rd., Dexter
A part of lovely Hines Park, Cass Benton is an 18-hole course in a beautiful setting, considered a lot of fun to play, with a good mix of shots and plenty of challenges for players of all skill levels. Hudson Mills Metropark features not one but two 24-hole courses, so there is a lot to choose from at this park located about 12 miles north of Ann Arbor. In addition to the disc golf, the park features dense woods and wetlands filled with wildlife, so the overall experience of playing there is hard to beat.
Best Dog Park
Swift Run Dog Park, Ann Arbor
Platt Road south of East Ellsworth Road, Ann Arbor; 734-994-2780
You’ll have to spring for a permit to use this park, but it’s really so big that even one or two laps around the place and the pooches may be ready for a nap. Best of all is a shaded area for the people where they can keep an eye on their furballs.
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Detroit
Tigers, Lions and Red Wings
Metro Detroiters love our sports, and the city really hops anytime the Lions, Tigers or Rew Wings are playing. If it weren’t for catching games, some suburbanites would never come downtown, which is too bad. But at least we have football, baseball and hockey to help bring us all together. Now, if only we could get the Pistons to leave Auburn Hills.
Best Reason to Go to Midtown Detroit
The Detroit Institute of Arts, among other museums
For some people, high culture doesn’t leap to mind when you mention Detroit, but, hey, why shouldn’t it? We have the Detroit Institute of Arts, with priceless collections of art from around the world. We have the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, displaying a wide array of the best the art world has to offer. There’s even the Detroit Historical Museum, fresh off an amibitious makeover. Yeah, we got yer culture!
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Royal Oak
OK, you jokers, (one wag said “douche bag-watching”), there are plenty of reasons to go to “the Joke,” (other answers included shopping, dining, bar hopping, ROMT, Main Art, and, heh, “to get frustrated parking your car”) but sometimes it’s just cool to sit on a park bench and see what the night drags in, from motorcyclists to girls to just plain guys in cargo shorts.
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Ferndale
Rust Belt Market
22801 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
Ferndale’s Rust Belt Market is rad. It isn’t easy for two people to run a huge, 15,000-square-foot space, having to pour all the money right back into the business. What’s more, by rights the place should be open every day, even though the proprietors simply don’t have the money in their budget for that. If they could only scrape together enough capital, they could … well, we’ll let them tell you what they could do. Take a look at the kickstarter site at tinyurl.com/rustbeltmarket. If you want to help this totally awesome endeavor out, the way will be clear
Best Reason to Go to Downtown Birmingham
It seems our readers have a serious love-hate thing going on with Birmingham, with some pretty dramatic class overtones. The losing answers included “to feel poor,” “for a selection of steakhouses you can’t afford,” “to look at the snobs,” “make fun of rich people” and “to see how the other half lives.” OK, OK, we get it. But the true winner in the bunch was a no-brainer: high-end shops and those great movie theaters! The area around Old Woodward thronged with shopping options, ranging from cute boutiques to outposts of proud national chains. And with the Birmigham 8 a stone’s throw from the Birmingham Palladium, and film programming that ranges from the arty and exotic to the crowd-pleasing and comedic, not only do you get the show that’s just for you, there’s likely a good place to discuss it over coffee or drinks afterward.
Best Reason to Go to Windsor
377 Riverside Dr. E., Windsor
Har-de-har-har. Some of the joke answers included “19th birthday,” “nudie bars,” “to make fun of socialists” and “Tylenol 3.” But the winning answer was far and away the casino. For almost 15 years, Caesars Windsor has provided guests with gaming and entertainent, hotel accommodations, bars, spas, restaurants, indoor pools, gyms and nightclubs. That’s a lot more to do than just craps — even if you do like to roll them bones.
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