Round On The End, High In The Middle, And Full of Politicians

With Super Tuesday primaries looming next week, the political world’s eyes are on Ohio, one of the richest prizes on the big day. 

(Okay, there are a lot of eyes on the Arnold Sports Festival, but he’s a Republican too, after all.)

On Friday, the latest poll from Quinnipiac University declared the Ohio primary too close to call between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Pennsylvania’s former Sen. Rick Santorum.

It showed Santorum with 35 percent of likely Republican voters, and Romney at 31 percent. On Monday, Santorum had a 36 percent to 29 percent lead, a day before the Michigan primary. About 34 percent of Ohioans surveyed said they could still change their minds

“At this point, the Buckeye State is too close to call and is clearly a two-man race between Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mitt Romney,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“A third of the electorate say they still might change their mind. With five days until Super Tuesday, they certainly will be exposed to enough negative television ads to provide fodder for those who might want to switch – or switch off.”  Continue reading “Round On The End, High In The Middle, And Full of Politicians”

Confessions Of An Urban-Exploring, Ruin-Fetishizing, White Non-Detroiter

The room where my complicated, naïve love-affair with Detroit began. The building was demolished in 2006. Credit: Michael Fitzgerald

I have been pretending to know Detroit for most of my adult life.

It’s a common affliction among youngish white journalists in Michigan who’ve never lived in the city. Even the fact that I talk about “knowing” the city is probably a giveaway that I’m not a Detroiter. My friends who are Detroiters, and Detroiters who comment on my stories, seem pretty tired of the discussion about what Detroit is or isn’t, what it represents or doesn’t and what the rest of us think about any of it. They’ve moved on.

But I can’t seem to stop myself from writing about Detroit as if I know what I’m talking about. I’ve even attacked other non-Detroiters for their lack of understanding (most people who read that rant believed it was written by a Detroiter, which only embarrasses me more).

Like most white, non-Detroiters, my fascination with the city started in my early 20s. And it involved urban exploring.

Continue reading “Confessions Of An Urban-Exploring, Ruin-Fetishizing, White Non-Detroiter”

Lebanese Easter Cookies: Our Winning Family Recipe

Dianne Johns and her sister Holly dressed up in babushkas to make kaik

As part of our Your Family Story series, we collected recipes that have been passed down within families.This is our contest winner, Dianne Johns of Lansing is our winner. We’d still like your stories about family culture and traditions. Add it here.

The very best traditional Lebanese Easter food is the Easter cookies. They are called kaik. This is a two syllable word with a very subtle distinction between the syllables (kah-ick). The pronunciation is so similar to a slang word for a part of the male anatomy, that we rarely use it around the non-Lebanese.

I had never made kaik before. My sister, Holly made it once with the Lebanese-born cousins. They wouldn’t let her do anything but cook because they were afraid she would mess it up. Their cookies are perfection.

My sister Holly, her sister in law Linda, my friend Susie and I all got together at Holly’s house with my mother’s recipe, Linda’s experience, 10 pounds of flour, huge packages of mashed dates and walnuts, and a “What the hell” spirit. We were joined by another sister,Carol, and another Lebanese friend, Dolores, who is also an expert.

Living in Michigan is a real advantage when you are making Lebanese food. There are more Arabs in Michigan than any other state, so the ingredients for Lebanese food are usually available. These cookies call for finely ground mahleb (cherry pits) and anise. No problem. Just go to the bulk food store on Pennsylvania Avenue.

This recipe makes around 50 fairly large cookies. Continue reading “Lebanese Easter Cookies: Our Winning Family Recipe”

One Of Detroit’s Great “Ruins” Gets A Demolition Date

Detroit's Packard Plant, by flickr user Slavin

The Detroit News reports this morning on the demolition of one of the city’s icons.

The Packard Plant was designed by the great Albert Kahn, and built in 1903. It covers 3.5 million square feet. It’s been empty for half a century.

Among the so-called ruins of Detroit, the Packard Plant comes second only to the Michigan Central train depot in fame and importance. If you’ve ever watched a news report about Detroit’s decline, or seen one of the many documentaries about Detroit, you’ve seen the Packard Plant. When world-famous graffiti artist Banksy came to Detroit, he chose the Packard Plant as his canvas.

The Detroit News says the owner of the plant hopes to start demolition within a month.

Curbed Detroit says it’s “heartbreaking news” for fans of Detroit’s ruins.

The Packard Plant is an eyesore, and probably a danger to the public. But it also can tell you a lot about the creativity and resilience of Detroit. Even this crumbling monster is seen as a work of art, and an inspiration.

From the Detroit News article:

“In a sick way, it’s incredibly beautiful,” freelance photographer Casey Carlton said Thursday as she explored the edges of Packard.

Demolishing a long-abandoned, dangerously unsecured factory in a struggling part of Detroit can’t really be seen as a bad thing. But the Packard Plant will be missed.

Midwest Memo: UAW Steps In On Right To Work, Recall News And Chicago’s Birthday

A new angle The head of the UAW says the union will try to get voters to approve an amendment to the Michigan constitution to ban Right to Work legislation. Right to Work bans employers from agreeing to mandatory union membership for their workers.

Taking them to task A new task force is declaring war on corruption in Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press.  An FBI official says corruption in the city is “generational, systematic, part of the culture.”

Total recall Wisconsin election officials say recall votes will have to wait until at least June.

Some gain, still pain Illinois added jobs again last month, proof that the state is recovering – but at a “painfully slow rate,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Hold the confetti CNNMoney takes a look at manufacturing in Ohio, and says the “good times are back (sort of).”

Movies move on Interest in Michigan as a movie-making destination continues to drop. The state dramatically cut back its film incentives last year.

Happy Birthday Chicago turns 175 years old on Sunday!

How A Focus On The Positive Is Building Connections Between Cleveland And Its Suburbs

Barbera Anderson is one of the people involved in Cleveland's first "The Good News Tour." She's trying to renovate a house for homeless veterans. Credit: Inner Visions of Cleveland

Much of the economic turmoil that happened in the industrial Midwest over the past 20 or so years has played out in our central cities. Even during times when the suburbs thrived, cities like Cleveland, Dayton, Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Gary and parts of Chicago were being hollowed out.

Sometimes it has seemed like people in the cities were facing completely different realities than people in the suburbs. Sometimes the differences have led to open hostility.

But yesterday, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Margaret Bernstein wrote a story about a new project there that’s building a bridge between the city and suburbs. The project represents a different way of looking at our cities’ problems.

Continue reading “How A Focus On The Positive Is Building Connections Between Cleveland And Its Suburbs”

What You Told Us About Your Vote In The Michigan Primary

Future voter, by flickr user robertDouglass

The Michigan primary already seems like old news. The vote happened two days ago, and the national media moved on immediately afterward, though the victor in Michigan’s race is still somewhat contestable.

On Tuesday, we asked you to tell us why you voted the way you did in the Michigan primary. We got quite a few responses, including some strong support for Ron Paul, who came in third in the primary.

Here is a sampling of what you told us:  Continue reading “What You Told Us About Your Vote In The Michigan Primary”

Midwest Memo: The Campaign Effect, A Not-So-Bright Ending And Your Chance To Be Like Mike

The political campaign economy The GOP Presidential primary race is headed to Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch looks at what campaign spending means for the state’s economy. The Detroit News has a similar look at what it meant in Michigan.

Another one bites the dust Indiana-based Bright Automotive is shutting its doors, after failing to receive a new round of funding from the Department of Energy.

Soot riddance Chicago’s two coal-fired power plants are closing, partner station WBEZ reports.

Bringing the big gun Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to make a jobs announcement today on the West Side of Chicago. And the Chicago Tribune reports the mayor is bringing Bill Clinton along.

We’re #1 (and #1)! Illinois has both the top county for corn production and the top county for soybean production.

$63 million That’s how much visitors to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore spent in nearby communities in 2010.

Turning a corner? The Federal Reserve says there are some bright spots in Cleveland’s economy. Partner station WCPN Ideastream has the story.

$29 million That’s all you have to spend if you want to own Michael Jordan’s suburban Chicago home.