Best of Detroit 2011
Photo: Marvin Shaouni
Public Square - Staff Picks
Super people, places and things, picked by our team of critics
Published: April 27, 2011
Best Detroit Lit of the Last Year - Tie
Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams
Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant
We could claim Words as a Detroit work simply because anthologist M.L. Liebler is one of ours. But from Alvin Aubert to Al Young (OK, we couldn't get "Z"), Michael Moore to Dudley Randall, Lolita Hernandez to Eminem, Melba Boyd to Philip Levine, etc., Detroiters are more than amply represented in this massive testament to the poetry and prose of toil. And in this tense post-industrial time of transition, what better subject for us to ponder? Which is what former Paul Clemens also does in exploring the up-close reality and social ramifications of the dismantling of a Budd Company stamping plant on the east side.
Best Unfolding Legal Drama
Medical marijuana cases
Two years after the state began issuing ID cards to patients and caregivers, issues surrounding the state's medical marijuana law are still being sorted out. The Michigan ACLU is suing three cities that are trying to curtail medical marijuana-related activity. The DEA and other authorities have made a number of high-profile busts. And the whole question of whether so-called "compassion clubs" can legally sell marijuana to patients remains unsettled. The courts are going to be kept busy with all this for some time to come.
Best New Job For Mitch Albom
Film industry lobbyist
Oh, wait. He already has that gig. Has anyone at the Freep ever heard the term "conflict of interest?"
Best Reason to Hope for Michigan's Long-Term Future
Last year, the British government's chief scientist warned that water shortages will be the world's most pressing problem in the next decade. "Population growth, an increase in wealth, urbanization, and ... climate change, all of those are going to present really big problems to humanity," John Beddington said during the Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in London. From agriculture to biofuels to the manufacturing of silicone computer chips, access to clean, fresh water is going to become more precious as shortages worsen in states from Florida to Arizona to California. And here we are in "the Saudi Arabia of water." All we have to do now is ensure that this most vital of resources remains protected — and under the public trust.
Best Way to Stay in Touch With a Radio Legend
Dick Purtan may be off Detroit's morning airwaves for more than a year now, but he's still in the air. He's maintaining a presence in cyberspace, and a connection with his thousands of radio fans, through his website. An early "Breaking News" post: "Radio retiree Dick Purtan shocked not only his wife, Gail, but also himself last night by sleeping an astounding 10 hours and 12 minutes in a row." After President Obama's recent deficit speech, he observed: "I missed Joe Biden's nap ... I'd nodded off about five minutes earlier in the speech than he did." We assume that with enough clicks we could get to the video of the last 10 minutes of his final broadcast on WOMC (104.3) March 26, 2010.
Best Unique Library Loaning
Grosse Pointe's tool checkout
In this era of DIY — sorry contractors — home improvement projects are part of a lot of weekend to-do lists. But who wants to spend big bucks on a tool that will be used once? There are even better rental rates than Home Depot et al. With a Grosse Pointe library card, you can choose from a list of dozens of tools: monkey wrenches, carpet knee kickers, bolt cutters and hammers. Some are standbys, some are more exotic. The collection — a list and photos of the tools are online at gp.lib.mi.us — is provided and maintained by the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club. What you won't find is a drain snake, the health department won't allow that, or chain saws, common sense takes over there.
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