March 11, 2013
Over 300 years ago, around the same time the city of Detroit was founded, an evil was discovered in and around the city. An evil that has plagued the people and the city, and even wrecked havoc upon the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. This ‘evil’ was said to have been a Nain Rouge, other wise known as the “red dwarf of Detroit.”
~La Marche du Nain Rouge
La Marche du Nain Rouge is held every year on the Sunday following the spring equinox. That’s Sunday March 24, 2013, and they explain:
La Marche du Nain Rouge is an annual Detroit tradition that purportedly dates back to shortly after the city’s founding by the French in 1701. Annually held on the Sunday closest to the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, it is parade and street theater similar in sensibility to Mardi Gras and other Carnival celebrations. However the impetus for La Marche is different.
La Marche drives Le Nain Rouge (The Red Dwarf) out of Detroit, preventing its evil spirit from plaguing the people of the city for the rest of the year. By forcing Le Nain Rouge from the city (and into the spirit plane), Le Nain is banished, transforming Detroiters’ fears and doubts into the hopes of new life and the coming Spring season.
Tradition holds that a citizen of Detroit dresses up as Le Nain Rouge, temporarily embodying its spirit, wearing a mask to conceal identity. As Le Nain Rouge, this person accepts responsibility for leading people through the streets of Detroit to La Marche’s final destination.
More portraits on Michigan in Pictures.
November 23, 2012
Today is Black Friday, and though many of us – your host most definitely included -get worn down by the constant march of “Consumer Christmas”, it’s important to remember that our dollars when spent wisely can build strength in our communities. Below is one great example and I’m sure people can suggest more in the comments! I should add that I’ve had this post saved as a draft for almost a month which is why Richard has a rare back-to-back feature!
This photo is of Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair in Ann Arbor. Stocking common items as well as more esoteric gear like positronic brains, they’re the source for all your robot needs in Southeast Michigan.
The store is also (literally) the front for 826michigan, a nonprofit student writing & tutoring center, and all proceeds go toward their free student programs. 826michigan is dedicated to supporting students aged 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. 826 opened its doors in June of 2005 and believes that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention.
I for one welcome our new robot overlords and encourage you to watch this great video about Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair and 826Michigan.
More Ann Arbor on Michigan in Pictures.
November 17, 2012
Bill and Helen Milliken, photo from AP archives
My beliefs are not particularly unique. It’s just that I’m now in a position to do something about them.
Yesterday Helen Wallbank Milliken passed away at the age of 89 in Traverse City. Helen was the wife of Michigan’s longest serving Governor William Milliken. Her entry in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame says in part:
Helen Milliken, wife of the former Governor of Michigan, has long been identified with women’s issues and concerns. She was a distinguished national co-chair of ERAmerica and traveled throughout the country speaking on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment. She also freely gave her time and energy to raising needed funds to support this major cause. In addition, she was a convener of the International Women’s Year Delegation in Michigan and a member of the delegation to the IWY Conference, which met in Houston in 1977. She is associated with The Women’s Research in Education Institute in Washington, D.C., and chaired the National Women’s Conference Committee.
Helen Milliken has been a major patron of the arts in Michigan. She was in no small measure responsible for the development of a state public arts project and for the growth in public support of the arts.
…Independent, committed, and principled, Helen Milliken never sought, but never shrank from controversy. When her commitment to equality conflicted with her political loyalties, she clearly chose the former. Her choice, her service, and her spirit have enriched the lives of countless Michigan citizens.
The Detroit Free Press has an excellent article that includes a photo gallery of Helen Milliken. along with reminisces by those who worked with her in public life. One of these, former press secretary & chief of staff to Gov. Milliken George Weeks, looks at the many causes Helen championed.
The Michigan Land Use Institute has a page where some of the people who remember their longtime board member and supporter Helen Milliken – click to view it.
November 14, 2012
Boxing legend Emanuel Steward, one of the greatest trainers ever, was remembered yesterday in Detroit. The entry for Emanuel Steward at the International Boxing Hall of Fame begins:
Steward, who was born in West Virginia in 1944, has been one one of the most successful trainers and managers in the last two decades of the 20th century.
Like many young men, he started boxing after receiving a pair of boxing gloves as a gift. The youngster boxed in informal matches that his father set up. When his parents separated, he moved with his mother to Detroit. By age 12, he was training at the Brewster Recreation Center, which had been the boxing home of Joe Louis and Eddie Futch. As an amateur, he ran up a record of 94-3, which culminated with a 1963 National Golden Gloves title. Steward than began training amateur fighters, but eventually gave that up and found full-time employment as an electrician.
But boxing was in his blood. In 1971, he was asked to look after his half-brother James, who was 15 at the time. Steward took him to a nearby gym called, the Kronk. It wasn’t long before Emanuel was coaching again. In 1971, his charges dominated the Detroit Golden Gloves, winning seven championships. A year later, he left the security of a full-time electrician’s job, and turned his attention to boxing, and the Kronk.
By the mid-70s he had built the gym into a national power, and two of his charges, Thomas Hearns and Hilmer Kenty came close to making the ’76 Olympic Team. A year later, the two turned pro with Steward serving double duty as their trainer and manager. On March 2, 1980, Kenty became Steward’s first world champion when stopped Ernesto Espana in the fourth round to win the WBA lightweight crown.
Five months later Hall of Famer Thomas Hearns stopped Pipino Cuevas with a blistering second-round kayo to become champion No. 2.
Wikipedia’s Emanuel Steward entry lists some of the fighters he trained including Hearns, Evander Holyfield, Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis and Julio César Chávez. It adds that his heavyweight fighters had a record of 34-2-1 combined in title fights. The Freep has a nice video with boxers Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Lennox Lewis remembering Steward that also includes a bit of Aretha Franklin singing. You may also want to read this article in the New York Times or watch this ESPN tribute to Steward.
October 31, 2012
The Halloween Spectacle is an annual event that took place last Saturday in Marquette. Here’s hoping you can get out and make a spooky spectacle of yourself tonight!
October 11, 2012
Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions, 1971 AP file photo
“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”
Yesterday Alex Karras, All-Pro defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions passed away at the age of 77. Karras followed up with a sucessful career as a pro wrestler and as an actor in movies and on TV’s Webster. The New York Times obituary of Alex Karras reads in part:
Karras, at 6 feet 2 inches and 248 pounds — large then but smaller in comparison with today’s N.F.L. linemen — first earned fame as a ferocious tackle for the Lions. He anchored the defensive line for 12 seasons over 13 years, 1958 to 1970.
It was an era when the N.F.L. had abundant talent at the position; Karras’s contemporaries included the Hall of Famers Bob Lilly and Merlin Olsen. But Karras was an especially versatile pass rusher, known around the league for his combination of strength, speed and caginess. His furious approach — Plimpton described it as a “savage, bustling style of attack” — earned him the nickname the Mad Duck.
“Most defensive tackles have one move, they bull head-on,” Doug Van Horn, a New York Giants offensive lineman who had to block Karras, said in 1969. “Not Alex. There is no other tackle like him. He has inside and outside moves, a bull move where he puts his head down and runs over you, or he’ll just stutter-step you like a ballet dancer.”
Karras was named to four Pro Bowls, and he was a member of the N.F.L’s All-Decade team of the 1960s. He was not elected to the Hall of Fame, however, which has sometimes been attributed to the fact that the Lions fielded mostly undistinguished teams during his tenure. In Karras’s only playoff game, the Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys by the unlikely score of 5-0 in 1970.
Read on at the Times for lots more. Some of my favorite Karras items:
- You can get an overview of his career in the Alex Karras entry on Wikipedia. He was recognized as part of the all-1960s Defense Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and won the 1957 Outland Trophy winner as the country’s best collegiate lineman and was a first- or second-team All-NFL choice nine times in his 12-year career.
- The Detroit Lions have an obituary from the Karras family that includes a tribute photo gallery. and some memories posted to Twitter. On the right (at least this morning) is an brief video chat with Karras from 2003 on the Paper Lion reunion.
- Participatory journalist George Plimpton’s book Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last String Quarterback is an incredible book that tells the story of Plimpton’s training with the Detroit Lions. It remains one of the best behind the scenes looks at the NFL. Karras is one of the stars of the book and the pair remained friends. Here’s a video of Plimpton & Karras talking about wresting.
- ESPN has a 2004 interview with Alex Karras about his football career, a $9000 annual salary and his reunion with Lions teammates. He also touches on the dangers of the game and health impacts. Karras was part of a 3500 player lawsuit against the NFL for negative health impacts and ultimately he suffered from dementia and other symptoms. There’s also an interesting interview of Karras from last year that touches on a variety of subjects including his Iowa Hawkeye & NFL career and his work as an actor.
- One of my favorite roles he played was Mongo in Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles. Click that link for some of the slightly off-color but totally hilarious clips.